Romans, Part 88

This is the reason I was often hindered from coming to you,[1] Paul continued his letter to believers in Rome.  The hindrance here was Paul’s own φιλοτιμούμενον (a form of φιλοτιμέομαι), translated I desire (NET) and have I strived (KJV), his own fondness for honor: And in this way I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, but as it is written: Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”[2]  But in two other letters Paul used forms of φιλοτιμέομαι without a hint of pride (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 NET):

Now on the topic of brotherly love (φιλαδελφίας, a form of φιλαδελφία) you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.  And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia.  But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, to aspire (φιλοτιμεῖσθαι, another form of φιλοτιμέομαι) to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you.  In this way you will live a decent life before outsiders and not be in need.

Granted, Paul’s own aspiration was to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, while his aspiration for Macedonian believers was that they lead a quiet life, to attend to [their] own business, and to work with [their] hands, as we commanded [them].  But that implies a sense of order and rank, not necessarily a prideful aspiration on Paul’s part.  To the Corinthian believers he wrote (2 Corinthians 5:1-10 NET):

For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, is dismantled, we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens.  For in this earthly house we groan, because we desire (ἐπιποθοῦντες, a form of ἐπιποθέω) to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed, after we have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked.  For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.  Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord – for we live by faith, not by sight.  Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So then whether we are alive or away, we make it our ambition (φιλοτιμούμεθα, another form of φιλοτιμέομαι) to please him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil.

Surely Paul’s ambition to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, was part of his ambition to please God.  Still, I wonder how different church history might have been if Paul had arrived first in Rome.  He had desired (ἐπιποθίαν, a form of ἐπιποθία) to come to them for many yearsBut now there is nothing more to keep me in these regions, and I have for many years desired to come to you when I go to Spain.[3]  For I hope to visit you when I pass through and that you will help me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.[4]  He acknowledged the same at the beginning of his letter to them (Romans 1:8-13a NET):

First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.  For God, whom I serve in my spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness that I continually remember you and I always ask in my prayers, if perhaps now at last I may succeed in visiting (ἐλθεῖν, a form of ἔρχομαι) you according to the will of God.  For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually comforted by one another’s faith, both yours and mine.  I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I often intended to come (ἐλθεῖν, a form of ἔρχομαι) to you (and was prevented until now)…

The Greek word translated was prevented was ἐκωλύθην (a form of κωλύω).  It seems to be a stronger hindrance (see the table below) than ἐνεκοπτόμην (a form of ἐγκόπτω) in Romans 15:22, though Paul strengthened ἐνεκοπτόμην with πολλὰ (a form of πολλός).  So while he listed his own desire for honor at the end of his letter as the reason he was hindered from visiting Rome, there is a hint here that visit was deliberately delayed as something not yet ἐν τῷ θελήματι τοῦ θεοῦ (“in” or “by the will of God;” NET: according to).

I suppose I imagine that if Paul had preceded Peter in Rome churches might have become more facilitators than arbiters of the new covenant.  I’m thinking especially here of for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD.[5]  But historically the western church became the de facto government after Constantine moved his capital east.  Even Paul proposed governmental functions for the church to deal with those who were not led by the Spirit (1 Timothy 1:5-11) in Corinth (1 Corinthians 6:1-8 NET):

When any of you has a legal dispute with another, does he dare go to court before the unrighteous (ἀδίκων, a form of ἄδικος) rather than before the saints (ἁγίων, a form of ἅγιος)?  Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to settle trivial suits?  Do you not know that we will judge angels?  Why not ordinary matters!  So if you have ordinary lawsuits, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church?  I say this to your shame!  Is there no one among you wise enough to settle disputes between fellow Christians (ἀδελφοῦ, a form of ἀδελφός)?  Instead, does a Christian (ἀδελφὸς, another form of ἀδελφός) sue a Christian (ἀδελφοῦ, a form of ἀδελφός), and do this before unbelievers (ἀπίστων, a form of ἄπιστος)?  The fact that you have lawsuits among yourselves demonstrates that you have already been defeated (ἥττημα, a form of ἥττημα).  Why not rather be wronged?  Why not rather be cheated?  But you yourselves wrong and cheat, and you do this to your brothers and sisters (ἀδελφούς, another form of ἀδελφός)!

To speculate whether western churches would be different if Paul had preceded Peter to Rome is ultimately foolishness.  We who have been drawn to Christ by the kindness of God are the ἐκκλησία.  The character of our churches here and now is determined predominantly by our faith.  Are we facilitators of the new covenant or arbiters, judges with evil motives (James 2:1-4 NET)?  When Jesus said Do not judge[6] He knew to whom He spoke, intimately, both as Creator and a partaker of our humanity.

We judge everything.  We judge the weight of an object before we pick it up.  We judge the distance and velocity of the things we see around us.  We judge everyone: beautiful, ugly, rich, poor, friendly, aggressive, lying, truthful, wise, foolish.  I don’t think Jesus’ point was that we stop doing the thing that makes it possible for us to live and move in this world.  His point was—that after we make those instinctive judgments about other people—we love them as those for whom Christ died with his own love that flows through us from his Spirit, believing with his own faithfulness that flows through us from His Spirit that we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of believers.[7]

I did a word study of ἐλθεῖν (a form of ἔρχομαι), translated from coming and to come, not because I thought there was anything mysterious about Paul’s usage of the word in Romans 15:22 and 23, but because I know I’ll want a good grounding in the usage of forms of ἔρχομαι when I come around again to Matthew 23:34-36.  Doing so exposed me to an interesting study in John’s Gospel narrative that I think pertinent here as it relates to judging others.

Jesus spoke to the Ἰουδαῖοι (a form of Ἰουδαῖος), translated Jewish leaders.  I’ll leave it in Greek here because I don’t think being Jewish had anything to do with it beyond the historical fact that they were hardened (Isaiah 6:9-12; Matthew 13:10-17) to the point of being enthralled with what I have called the religious mind.

You study the scriptures thoroughly, Jesus said to those with religious minds, because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me, but you are not willing (θέλετε, a form of θέλω) to come to me so that you may have life.[8]  He continued addressing those with religious minds: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets,And they will all be taught by God.’  Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me.[9]  Later Jesus explained his teaching to his disciples (John 6:63-65 NET):

The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature (σὰρξ, a form of σάρξ) is of no help!  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.  But there are some of you who do not believe…Because of this I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed (δεδομένον, a form of δίδωμι; literally, given) him to come” (KJV: except it were given unto him of my Father).

Then Jesus said (John 7:33-36 NET):

“I will be with you for only a little while longer, and then I am going to the one who sent me.  You will look for me but will not find me, and where I am you cannot come.”

Then the Ἰουδαῖοι said to one another, “Where is he going to go that we cannot find him?  He is not going to go to the Jewish people dispersed among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, is he?  What did he mean by saying, ‘You will look for me but will not find me, and where I am you cannot come’?”

Then Jesus said to them again (John 8:21-24 NET):

“I am going away, and you will look for me but will die in your sin.  Where I am going you cannot come.”  So the Ἰουδαῖοι began to say, “Perhaps he is going to kill himself, because he says, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’”  Jesus replied, “You people are from below; I am from above.  You people are from this world; I am not from this world.  Thus I told you that you will die in your sins.  For unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”

When Judas had gone out, Jesus said [to his remaining disciples] (John 13:31-38 NET):

“Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him.  If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him right away.  Children, I am still with you for a little while.  You will look for me, and just as I said to the Ἰουδαίοις, ‘Where I am going you cannot come,’ now I tell you the same.

“I give you a new commandment – to love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow later.”  Peter said to him, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you!”  Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?  I tell you the solemn truth, the rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times!”

Apart from the Holy Spirit we are no different than the worst of sinners or the hardest of those with religious minds.  For who concedes you any superiority? Paul wrote believers in Corinth.  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you received it, why do you boast as though you did not?[10]

You were running well, Paul wrote believers in Galatia, who prevented you from obeying the truth?[11]  I was drawn here because ἐνέκοψεν, translated prevented, is a form of ἐγκόπτω like ἐνεκοπτόμην, translated I washindered in Romans 15:22.  It’s not wrong to translate μὴ πείθεσθαι (a form of πείθω; to convince, persuade) from obeying.  Several of the occurrences of forms of πείθω are linked directly to the action that conviction or persuasion produced.

The chief priests and the elders persuaded (ἔπεισαν, another form of πείθω) the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed.[12]  When Pilate asked, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?”  They all said, “Crucify him!”[13]  In Lystra Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and after winning the crowds over (πείσαντες, another form of πείθω), they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city[14] 

Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue [in Thessalonica], as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”  Some of them were persuaded (ἐπείσθησαν, another form of πείθω) and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.[15]

Demetrius, a silversmith in Ephesus, complained that Paul has persuaded (πείσας, another form of πείθω) and turned away a large crowd, not only in Ephesus but in practically all of the province of Asia, by saying that gods made by hands are not gods at all.[16]  A centurion was more convinced (ἐπείθετο, another form of πείθω) by the captain and the ship’s owner than by what Paul said.[17]  So he ignored Paul’s warning that the voyage is going to end in disaster[18] and they weighed anchor and sailed close along the coast of Crete[19] directly into a storm that ran them aground two weeks later.

So while it is not wrong to focus on the obedience aspect of forms of πείθω, it is a bit of misdirection in Galatians 5:7 since obedience was not really at issue.  Believers in Galatia were all too willing to obey the commands of anyone who came along in the name of Christ.  Apparently some had come preaching circumcision.  Listen!  I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all![20]  He said this not to the disobedient but the overly obedient.  For the act of circumcision as a body modification was meaningless to Paul vis-à-vis the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 7:17-19 NET):

Nevertheless, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each person, so must he live.  I give this sort of direction in all the churches.  Was anyone called after he had been circumcised?  He should not try to undo his circumcision.  Was anyone called who is uncircumcised?  He should not get circumcised.  Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing.  Instead, keeping God’s commandments is what counts.

Paul’s concern was the persuasion (πεισμονὴ, a form of πεισμονή; Galatians 5:8) that led to the obedience of circumcision.  His concern was that the desire for circumcision indicated that the Galatian believers were not persuaded of the truth of the grace of Christ and were, in fact, following a different gospel.[21]  The act of circumcision among Gentile believers signified a different persuasion to Paul, a different faith that the Holy Spirit they had received was incompetent and required the aid of the σαρκὶ (a form of σάρξ), translated human effort (Galatians 3:2b-5 NET):

Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish?  Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort (σαρκὶ, a form of σάρξ; literally, flesh)?  Have you suffered so many things for nothing? – if indeed it was for nothing.  Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?

You who are trying to be declared righteous by the law have been alienated from Christ, Paul wrote obedient believers persuaded by an incorrect persuasion, you have fallen away from grace!  For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love.[22]  None of this was written to disobedient people unwilling to obey God’s commands.

The tables I used to write this essay for forms of κωλύω and πείθω follow.  I’ve just become aware of the differences in the Greek between the received text (Stephanus Textus Receptus) and the parallel Greek in the NET.  At those points where the form of the Greek word is different I’ve broken the table to insert the full Greek text of the verse.

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

ἐκωλύομεν (εκωλυσαμεν) Mark 9:38 we forbad him, because he followeth not us. we tried to stop him because he was not following us.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

Ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰωάννης· διδάσκαλε, εἴδομεν τινα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι σου ἐκβάλλοντα δαιμόνια καὶ ἐκωλύομεν αὐτόν, ὅτι οὐκ ἠκολούθει ἡμῖν απεκριθη δε αυτω ο ιωαννης λεγων διδασκαλε ειδομεν τινα τω ονοματι σου εκβαλλοντα δαιμονια ος ουκ ακολουθει ημιν και εκωλυσαμεν αυτον οτι ουκ ακολουθει ημιν απεκριθη δε αυτω ο ιωαννης λεγων διδασκαλε ειδομεν τινα τω ονοματι σου εκβαλλοντα δαιμονια ος ουκ ακολουθει ημιν και εκωλυσαμεν αυτον οτι ουκ ακολουθει ημιν

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

ἐκωλύομεν (εκωλυσαμεν) Luke 9:49 we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. we tried to stop him because he is not a disciple along with us.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ Ἰωάννης εἶπεν· ἐπιστάτα, εἴδομεν τινα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι σου ἐκβάλλοντα δαιμόνια καὶ ἐκωλύομεν αὐτόν, ὅτι οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν αποκριθεις δε ο ιωαννης ειπεν επιστατα ειδομεν τινα επι τω ονοματι σου εκβαλλοντα τα δαιμονια και εκωλυσαμεν αυτον οτι ουκ ακολουθει μεθ ημων αποκριθεις δε ο ιωαννης ειπεν επιστατα ειδομεν τινα επι τω ονοματι σου εκβαλλοντα δαιμονια και εκωλυσαμεν αυτον οτι ουκ ακολουθει μεθ ημων

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

ἐκωλύσατε Luke 11:52 …them that were entering in ye hindered. you hindered those who were going in.
ἐκώλυσεν Acts 27:43 kept them from their purpose… prevented them from carrying out their plan.
2 Peter 2:16 forbad the madness of the prophet. restrained the prophet’s madness…
ἐκωλύθην Romans 1:13 …but was let hitherto… …and was prevented until now…
κωλύει Acts 8:36 …what doth hinder me to be baptized? What is to stop me from being baptized?
3 John 1:10 …and forbiddeth them that would… …but hinders the people who want to do so…
κωλύειν Acts 24:23 …and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister… …and not to prevent any of his friends from meeting his needs.
κωλύεσθαι Hebrews 7:23 …because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: …because death prevented them from continuing in office…
κωλύετε Matthew 19:14 …and forbid them not… …and do not try to stop them…
Mark 9:39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: But Jesus said, “Do not stop him…
Mark 10:14 and forbid them not: and do not try to stop them…
Luke 9:50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him…
Luke 18:16 …and forbid them not: …and do not try to stop them…
1 Corinthians 14:39 …and forbid not to speak with tongues. …and do not forbid anyone from speaking in tongues.
κωλύοντα Luke 23:2 …and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar… forbidding us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar…
κωλυόντων 1 Thessalonians 2:16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles… because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles…
1 Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry… They will prohibit marriage…
κωλῦσαι Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water… No one can withhold the water…
Acts 11:17 …what was I, that I could withstand God? …who was I to hinder God?
κωλύσῃς Luke 6:29 forbid not to take thy coat also. do not withhold your tunic either.
κωλυθέντες Acts 16:6 and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost… having been prevented by the Holy Spirit…

 

Form of πείθω Reference KJV

NET

ἔπεισαν Matthew 27:20 …chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask… …chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas…
ἐπείσθησαν Acts 5:40 (39) And to him they agreed [verse 39] He convinced them…
Acts 17:4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas… Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas…
ἔπειθεν Acts 18:4 and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. attempting to persuade them.
ἐπείθετο Acts 27:11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master… But the centurion was more convinced by the captain…
ἔπειθον Acts 13:43 persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. and were persuading them to continue in the grace of God.
ἐπείθοντο Acts 5:36 …as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. …all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it.
Acts 5:37 …even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. …and all who followed him were scattered.
Acts 28:24 And some believed the things which were spoken… Some were convinced by what he said…
ἐπεποίθει Luke 11:22 …he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted …he takes away the first man’s armor on which the man relied
πείσαντες Acts 12:20 …having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend And after convincing Blastus, the king’s personal assistant…
Acts 14:19 …who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out… …and after winning the crowds over, they stoned Paul and dragged him out…
πείσας Acts 19:26 …Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people… …Paul has persuaded and turned away a large crowd…
πείσομεν Matthew 28:14 …we will persuade him, and secure you. …we will satisfy him and keep you out…
1 John 3:19 …and shall assure our hearts before him. …and will convince our conscience in his…
πεισθῇς Acts 23:21 But do not thou yield unto them: So do not let them persuade you to do…
πεισθήσονται Luke 16:31 If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.
πείθεις Acts 26:28 Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. are you persuading me to become a Christian?
πείθεσθαι Galatians 5:7 …who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? …who prevented you from obeying the truth?
James 3:3 …put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us… …put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us…
Πείθεσθε Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you… Obey your leaders and submit to them…
πείθω Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God?
πείθων Acts 19:8 …disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. …addressing and convincing them about the kingdom of God.
Acts 28:23 persuading them concerning Jesus… and trying to convince them about Jesus…
πείθομαι Acts 26:26 …for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him… …because I cannot believe that any of these things has escaped his notice…
πείθομεν 2 Corinthians 5:11 we persuade men… we try to persuade people…
πειθομένοις Romans 2:8 …and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness… …do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness.
πειθομένου Acts 21:14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased… Because he could not be persuaded, we said no more…
πειθόμεθα (πεποιθαμεν) Hebrews 13:18 …for we trust we have a good conscience… …for we are sure that we have a clear conscience…

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

Προσεύχεσθε περὶ ἡμῶν· πειθόμεθα γὰρ ὅτι καλὴν συνείδησιν ἔχομεν, ἐν πᾶσιν καλῶς θέλοντες ἀναστρέφεσθαι προσευχεσθε περι ημων πεποιθαμεν γαρ οτι καλην συνειδησιν εχομεν εν πασιν καλως θελοντες αναστρεφεσθαι προσευχεσθε περι ημων πεποιθαμεν γαρ οτι καλην συνειδησιν εχομεν εν πασιν καλως θελοντες αναστρεφεσθαι

Form of πείθω

Reference KJV

NET

πέπεισμαι Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life… For I am convinced that neither death, nor life…
Romans 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus… I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus…
Romans 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you… But I myself am fully convinced about you…
2 Timothy 1:5 …and I am persuaded that in thee also. …and I am sure is in you.
2 Timothy 1:12 …and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him… …and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me…
πεπεισμένος Luke 20:6 …for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. they are convinced that John was a prophet.
Πεπείσμεθα Hebrews 6:9 we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation… we are convinced of better things relating to salvation.
πέποιθα Galatians 5:10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded… I am confident in the Lord that you will accept no other view.
Philippians 2:24 I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. I am confident in the Lord that I too will be coming to see you soon.
πεποίθαμεν 2 Thessalonians 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you… And we are confident about you in the Lord…
πέποιθας Romans 2:19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind… if you are convinced that you yourself are a guide to the blind…
πέποιθεν Matthew 27:43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: He trusts in God – let God, if he wants to, deliver him now
2 Corinthians 10:7 If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s… If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ…
πεποιθέναι Philippians 3:4 …thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh… …thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials…
πεποιθὼς 2 Corinthians 2:3 having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. since I am confident in you all that my joy would be yours.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing… For I am sure of this very thing…
Philippians 1:25 And having this confidence And since I am sure of this…
Philemon 1:21 Having confidence in thy obedience… Since I was confident that you would obey…
Hebrews 2:13 …I will put my trust in him. …I will be confident in him…
πεποιθοτας Mark 10:24 …how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter… omitted
Luke 18:9 …unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous… …to some who were confident that they were righteous…
Philippians 1:14 …in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds… having confidence in the Lord because of my imprisonment…
πεποιθότες 2 Corinthians 1:9 …that we should not trust in ourselves… …so that we would not trust in ourselves…
Philippians 3:3 …and have no confidence in the flesh. …and do not rely on human credentials…

 

[1] Romans 15:22 (NET)

[2] Romans 15:20, 21 (NET)

[3] Kenneth Berding, “Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey (And I Don’t Mean His Trip to Rome),” The Good Book Blog

[4] Romans 15:23, 24 (NET)

[5] Jeremiah 31:34b (Tanakh)

[6] Luke 6:37 (NET)

[7] 1 Timothy 4:10b (NET)

[8] John 5:39, 40 (NET)

[9] John 6:44, 45 (NET)

[10] 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NET)

[11] Galatians 5:7 (NET)

[12] Matthew 27:20 (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:22 (NET)

[14] Acts 14:19 (NET)

[15] Acts 17:2-4 (NET)

[16] Acts 19:26 (NET)

[17] Acts 27:11 (NET)

[18] Acts 27:10a (NET)

[19] Acts 27:13b (NET)

[20] Galatians 5:2 (NET)

[21] Galatians 1:6 (NET)

[22] Galatians 5:4-6 (NET)

Who Am I? Part 7

In another essay I presented his Jewish and Roman trials as a kind of ultimate tempting of the flesh of Adam and an ultimate proving of the Holy Spirit which descendedin bodily form like a dove[1] upon Jesus the Christ or Messiah.  I characterized those trials as a time “when sinners, Jerusalem, the whole world, perhaps even the created cosmos were in extreme danger of falling into the hands of an angry God.”  I want to continue with his crucifixion.

Nail me to a cross and I’m stuck there but Jesus said (John 10:17, 18 NET):

This is why the Father loves me – because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again.  No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will.[2]  I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again.  This commandment I received from my Father.

It says to me that at any moment throughout his ordeal of ultimate humiliation Jesus, yehôvâh in the flesh of Adam,[3] could have decided that enough was enough, sat down at the right hand of his Father in heaven and been none the worse for wear—personally.

As they led him away, Luke recorded in his Gospel narrative, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country.  They placed the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus.[4]  Matthew and Mark recorded the same incident.  I might have assumed that He was too holy to carry his own cross except that John recalled Jesus carrying his own cross (John 19:16, 17 NET).  Apparently the One who said, If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me,[5] was too weak to carry his all the way to his crucifixion.

Two other (ἕτεροι, a form of ἕτερος) criminals (κακοῦργοι, a form of κακοῦργος) were also led away to be executed with him.[6]  Isaiah had prophesied, he was numbered with the transgressors,[7] though he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.[8]  But with the words ἕτεροι κακοῦργοι δύο Luke captured (See: ἕτεροι; Luke 11:15, 16) the social reality of Jesus as one of three criminals condemned to death by the duly authorized governor of Judea.  His punishment was neither cruel nor unusual under the prevailing standards of their socially constructed reality.

A great number of the people followed him (Luke 23:27-31 NET):

among them women who were mourning and wailing for him.  But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For this is certain: The days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore children, and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’  For if such things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”) and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink.  But after tasting it, he would not drink it.[9]  There they crucified him along with two others, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle.[10]  But Jesus said, “Father, forgive (ἄφες, a form of ἀφίημι) them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”[11]

Jesus, naked[12] on the cross, looked down as the soldiers who crucified Him took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, and the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.)  So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.”  This took place to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.”  So the soldiers did these things.[13]  David (1 Samuel 16:1 – 1 Kings 2:11) had prophesied, they look and stare upon me.  They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.[14]

Then they sat down and kept guard over him there.[15]  It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.[16]  That would be the second morning since the night of his arrest with little or no sleep for Jesus.  The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed him, saying, “He saved others.  Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!”  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”[17]

Pilate also had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.”[18]  Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic (Ἑβραϊστί; literally, in Hebrew; NET note 67), Latin, and Greek.  Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.’”  Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”[19]

Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha!  You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!”  In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law – were mocking him among themselves: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe!”[20]  He trusts in God – let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!”  The robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.[21]  One of the criminals who was hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”[22]

This is the point in the story where I wished Jesus would come down from the cross as more than twelve legions of angels came screaming out of the sky to the tune of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries to kill everyone who mocked Him.  Actually it is the ideal of the Sicarii—walking up to an “enemy” (anyone who disagrees with my “truth”) plunging a long knife into him several times and melting away again into the crowd—that appeals to the sin in my flesh more than the straight-up warfare of the Zealots.  Cowardice prevented me from ever actualizing the murderous intentions of my heart.  And until the moment that sentence formed in my mind I hadn’t thanked God for that fear.  All this may help explain why years of imitating the Pharisees felt like a step toward godliness to me.

But the other [criminal] rebuked him [the former criminal], saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”[23] as a door of hope opened (Hosea 2:14-17 Tanakh).

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.  And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה), that thou shalt call me Ishi (ʼı̂ysh, אישי); and shalt call me no more Baali (baʽălı̂y, בעלי).  For I will take away the names of Baalim (baʽal, הבעלים) out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.

As confessions go, And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did is nothing compared to Achan’s confession (Joshua 7:19-25 Tanakh)

And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.

And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.

And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD.

And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.

And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day.  And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

I wonder now whether Achan and his sons and his daughters, after suffering the punishment of criminals, face an implacable Judge or a merciful Savior, not because of the merits of Achan’s confession but because of the merits of that Savior: But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.[24]

Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!”  He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!”  From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.[25]

Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land.  At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”[26] that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[27]  After six hours on the cross Jesus lamented his loneliness even as He affirmed his confidence in the Scripture, written for his comfort (Psalm 22:6-18) for the very moment He prayed it (Psalm 22:1, 23, 24 Tanakh):

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.  For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”  Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.  But the rest said, “Leave him alone!  Let’s see if Elijah will come to save him.”[28]  After this Jesus, realizing that by this time everything was completed, said (in order to fulfill the scripture [Psalm 22:15]), “I am thirsty!”  A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop and lifted it to his mouth.  When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!”[29]  David had already spoken for Jesus’ failing breath (Psalm 22:25-31 Tanakh):

My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.  The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.  All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.   For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and he is the governor among the nations.  All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.  A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

The temple curtain was torn in two.  Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”  And after he said this he breathed his last.[30]  The earth shook and the rocks were split apart.  And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised.  (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.)[31]

Now when the centurion, who stood in front of him, saw how he died, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”[32]  And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.[33] 

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? Jesus asked.  The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds.[34]  And in the letter to the Hebrews we are encouraged: Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.[35]  I tell you the solemn truth, Jesus promised, the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing, and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father.[36]  For, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[37]

The Gospel harmony I made to write this essay follows.

The Crucifixion

Matthew Mark Luke

John

So they took Jesus, and carrying his own cross…

 John 19:16b, 17a

As they were going out, they found a man from Cyrene named Simon, whom they forced to carry his cross.

Matthew 27:32

The soldiers forced a passerby to carry his cross, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country…

Mark 15:21a

As they led him away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country.  They placed the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:26

(he was the father of Alexander and Rufus).

Mark 15:21b

A great number of the people followed him, among them women who were mourning and wailing for him.  But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For this is certain: The days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore children, and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’  For if such things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23:27-31

Two other criminals were also led away to be executed with him.

Luke 23:32

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”)…

Matthew 27:33

They brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which is translated, “Place of the Skull”).

Mark 15:22

So when they came to the place that is called “The Skull” …

Luke 23:33a

…he went out to the place called “The Place of the Skull” (called in Aramaic Golgotha).

John 19:17b

…and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink.  But after tasting it, he would not drink it.

Matthew 27:34

They offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

Mark 15:23

When they had crucified him…

Matthew 27:35a

Then they crucified him…

Mark 15:24a

…they crucified him there…

Luke 23:33b

There they crucified him…

John 19:18a

…along with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.

Luke 23:33c

…along with two others, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle.

John 19:18b

[But Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”]

Luke 23:34a

…they divided his clothes by throwing dice.

Matthew 27:35b

…and divided his clothes, throwing dice for them, to decide what each would take.

Mark 15:24b

Then they threw dice to divide his clothes.

Luke 23:34b

Then they sat down and kept guard over him there.

Matthew 27:36

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.

Mark 15:25

The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed him, saying, “He saved others.  Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!”  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”

Luke 23:35-37

Above his head they put the charge against him, which read: “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.”

Matthew 27:37

The inscription of the charge against him read, “The king of the Jews.”

Mark 15:26

There was also an inscription over him, “This is the king of the Jews.”

Luke 23:38

Pilate also had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.”

John 19:19

Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.’”  Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

John 19:20-22

Now when the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, and the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.)  So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.” This took place to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.”  So the soldiers did these things.

John 19:23, 24

Then two outlaws were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads  and saying, “You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself!  If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross!”  In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law and elders – were mocking him: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  He is the king of Israel!  If he comes down now from the cross, we will believe in him!

Matthew 27:38-42

And they crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!”  In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law – were mocking him among themselves: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe!”

Mark 15:27-32a

He trusts in God – let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!”

Matthew 27:43

The robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.

Matthew 27:44

Those who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.

Mark 15:32b

One of the criminals who was hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”  But the other rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:39-43

Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!”  He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!”  From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.

John 19:25-27

Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land.

Matthew 27:45

Now when it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

Mark 15:33

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, because the sun’s light failed.

Luke 23:44, 45a

At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”  Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.  But the rest said, “Leave him alone!  Let’s see if Elijah will come to save him.”

Matthew 27:46-49

Around three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  When some of the bystanders heard it they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah!”  Then someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Leave him alone!  Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down!”

Mark 15:34-36

After this Jesus, realizing that by this time everything was completed, said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty!”  A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop and lifted it to his mouth.  When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!”

John 19:28-30a

Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit.  Just then the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Matthew 27:50, 51a

But Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last.  And the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Mark 15:37, 38

The temple curtain was torn in two.  Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”  And after he said this he breathed his last.

Luke 23:45, 46

 

 

Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30b

The earth shook and the rocks were split apart.  And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised.  (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.)

Matthew 27:51b-53

Now when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely terrified and said, “Truly this one was God’s Son!”

Matthew 27:54

Now when the centurion, who stood in front of him, saw how he died, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

Mark 15:39

Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

Luke 23:47

And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.

Luke 23:48

Many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and given him support were also there, watching from a distance.

Matthew 27:55

There were also women, watching from a distance.

Mark 15:40a

And all those who knew Jesus stood at a distance, and the women who had followed him from Galilee saw these things.

Luke 23:49

Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Matthew 27:56

Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.  When he was in Galilee, they had followed him and given him support.  Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were there too.

Mark 15:40b, 41

 

[1] Luke 3:22a (NET)

[2] The words free will were added by the translators to the Greek word ἐμαυτοῦ translated my own.

[3] Romans, Part 55; My Reasons and My Reason, Part 5; Romans, Part 38; Fear – Genesis, Part 6; Who Am I? Part 2

[4] Luke 23:26 (NET)

[5] Matthew 16:24 (NET)

[6] Luke 23:32 (NET)

[7] Isaiah 53:12b (Tanakh)

[8] Isaiah 53:9b (Tanakh)

[9] Matthew 27:33, 34 (NET)  David Mathis offers the following explanation in his blog post “The Wine Jesus Drank” on desiringGod.

[10] John 19:18 (NET)

[11] Luke 23:34a (NET)

[12] Stephen Ray, “Was Jesus Crucified Naked?,” Defender’s of the Catholic Faith

[13] John 19:23, 24 (NET)

[14] Psalm 22:17b, 18 (Tanakh)

[15] Matthew 27:36 (NET)

[16] Mark 15:25 (NET)

[17] Luke 23:35-37 (NET)

[18] Though it differs slightly from the synoptic Gospels I’m going with John’s account because he, the disciple whom [Jesus] loved, was actually there (John 19:25-27) near enough to read it.

[19] John 19:19-22 (NET)

[20] Mark 15:29-32a (NET)

[21] Matthew 27:43, 44 (NET)

[22] Luke 23:39 (NET)

[23] Luke 23:40-43 (NET)

[24] 1 John 1:9 (NET)

[25] John 19:25-27 (NET)

[26] I had thought and written that this was Aramaic.  E. A. Knapp in his article “Did the Messiah Speak Aramaic or Hebrew? (part 2)” on Torah Class online disputes that.

[27] Matthew 27:45, 46 (NET)

[28] Matthew 27:47-49 (NET)

[29] John 19:28-30a (NET)

[30] Luke 23:45b, 46 (NET)

[31] Matthew 27:51b-53 (NET)

[32] Mark 15:39 (NET)

[33] Luke 23:48 (NET)

[34] John 14:10 (NET)

[35] Hebrews 12:3 (NET)

[36] John 14:12 (NET)

[37] Galatians 5:22, 23a (NET)

Father, Forgive Them – Part 1

Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,[1] Jesus prayed from the cross.  It isn’t found in some early manuscripts so it’s in single brackets in the NET (note 81) translation.  I don’t intend to argue the Is it really true that God said[2] aspect here.  I’m more interested in what He meant when He said it since less than forty years later Roman armies quashed a Jewish revolt.  The death toll was staggering and the temple in Jerusalem was completely destroyed.

“Israel’s sins were responsible for the” destruction of the temple Rabbi Irving Greenberg wrote.  “But what were the sins?  Interestingly, the Rabbis focused on Jewish divisiveness.  Unjustified hatred among the people had invited the tragedy…”[3]  Eliezer Cohen, an editor of The Jewish Magazine online, called it punishment:[4]

The calamity of two thousand years in the exile requires understanding…the sages…told us that the first Temple was destroyed because of three things: sexual immorality, widespread murder and idolatry.  The second Temple was destroyed because of one reason: baseless hatred (sinat chinam).

Sexual immorality, murder and idolatry are three grave sins for which a person is obliged to give his life rather than transgress.  Baseless hatred is not considered such a severe sin.  For the sin of sexual immorality, murder and idolatry the Jews had their Temple destroyed and were exiled for a period of only seventy years.  After this period, they came back to their land and rebuilt the second Temple which stood another 400 plus years.

Yet for the comparatively minor sin of baseless hatred the second Temple was destroyed and we were exiled for almost two thousand years!  The punishment seems out of proportion to the crime!!

Though his reasons were different the church historian Eusebius, writing about the destruction of the temple under the Roman emperor Vespasian, seemed to describe it as divine punishment:[5]

For the Jews after the ascension of our Saviour, in addition to their crime against him, had been devising as many plots as they could against his apostles.  First Stephen was stoned to death by them, and after him James, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John, was beheaded, and finally James, the first that had obtained the episcopal seat in Jerusalem after the ascension of our Saviour, died in the manner already described.

John Chrysostom called it grievous wrath and punishment:[6]

‘I ask the Jews, whence came upon them so grievous wrath from heaven more woeful than all that had come upon them before?  Plainly it was because of the desperate crime and the denial of the Cross.  But He shews that they deserved still heavier punishment than they received, when He adds, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved;” that is, If the siege by the Romans should be continued longer, all the Jews would perish; for by “all flesh,” He means all the Jewish nation…”

“This early Christian understanding that the Jewish people were being punished for their rejection of Christ may seem very harsh today,” Robin A. Brace explained:[7]

but we must understand that this was a widespread view for many hundreds of years.  Only now, in an age of ‘political correctness,’ ‘liberal values,’ and a concern for ‘human rights,’ has it become unfashionable to express such a view.  Yet let there be no doubt that when the people of Judea demanded that Barabbas the robber should be released and that Jesus should be condemned, those people apparently accepted a curse upon themselves and upon their children for their rejection of Jesus.  Scripture itself states,

Mat 27:25: ‘Then all the people answered and said, Let His blood be on us and on our children.’

The end of the second temple era “was an era of great political upheaval internally, with an ongoing struggle for supremacy amongst different groups of Jews:”[8]

  1. The Pharisees were the led by the rabbis and Sanhedrin…they were careful to maintain ritual purity, and separated themselves from those who did not strictly observe these laws.
  2. The Sadducees rejected the Oral Torah and the leadership of the rabbis…Those who wanted to befriend the Romans were mostly Sadducees.
  3. The Zealots were passionate nationalists who broke away from the Pharisees because they wanted to fight the Romans at all costs, while the Pharisees hesitated.
  4. The Sicarii were against any form of government altogether. “Sicarii” literally means “dagger-men.”  They resorted to stealth and terrorism to achieve their objectives.  They would carry small daggers under their cloaks and stab their enemies – Romans or Roman sympathizers, often wealthy Jews and elites associated with the priesthood – and then blend into the crowd.

“By 66 CE, the Jews in many of the coastal cities were treated as despised outsiders:”[9]

On one day in Jerusalem, 3,600 Jews were killed by Roman troops who had been sent in to quell the riots. Florus hoped the Jews of Jerusalem would try to avenge the slaughter so he could justify the mass killing of the Jewish population, loot their possessions, and seize the Holy Temple.  Instead, the Jews organized a march seeking to make peace with the governor.  The Roman soldiers, lusting for blood, charged into the crowd of marchers, killing many Jews, and continued on to the Temple Mount.  Many Jews had gathered in there to block the entrances.  They were successful, and the Roman soldiers retreated.

But now the Jews began revolting against the Romans throughout the land.  In ever-increasing numbers they joined the movement of the Zealots who were openly preparing for warfare against the Romans.

“The story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza was the pivotal event that ignited Nero’s rage and caused the destruction of the Holy Temple:”[10]

A Jew who had a friend named Kamtza and an enemy named Bar Kamtza made a feast.  He told his servant to invite Kamtza, but by mistake the servant invited Bar Kamtza …when the host noticed Bar Kamtza, he demanded that he leave…Bar Kamtza was embarrassed…“I am willing to pay the full cost of the feast, but do not embarrass me any more…”  The host had Bar Kamtza dragged from the feast and thrown into the streets…Bar Kamtza went to Emperor Nero and told him that the Jews were planning a rebellion against him.

“Vespasian’s troops brutally conquered the north of Israel, eradicating all resistance:”[11]

Meanwhile, the Jewish factions – now increasingly concentrated in Jerusalem – moved beyond power struggles into open civil war.  While Vespasian merely watched from a distance, various factions of Zealots and Sicarii fought each other bitterly, even those that had common goals.  They killed those advocating surrender.  Thousands of Jews died at the hands of other Jews in just a few years.

Long before, the residents of Jerusalem had stored provisions in case of a Roman siege.  Three wealthy men had donated huge storehouses of flour, oil, and wood—enough supplies to survive a siege of 21 years.

The Zealots, however, wanted all-out war.  They were unhappy with the attitude of the Sages, who proposed sending a peace delegation to the Romans.  In order to bring things to a head and force their fellow Jews to fight, groups of militia set fire to the city’s food stores, condemning its population to starvation.  They also imposed an internal siege on Jerusalem, not letting their fellow Jews in or out…

In 69 CE, Vespasian returned to Rome to serve as emperor, but first he appointed his son, Titus, to carry on in his stead.  In 70 CE, Titus came towards Jerusalem with an army of 80,000 soldiers.

“In honor of Passover, many Jews from all over Judea risked their lives to make their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, arriving just ahead of the swiftly-approaching Roman army:”[12]

When they arrived, they found a city divided among warring factions, even as the Romans were in sight.

An unlikely alliance of Pharisees and Sadducees – both of whom did not want to engage the Romans in war – held control of large swathes of the city.  The Sicarii, led by Simon ben Giora, held much of the Upper City and parts of the Lower City.  The Zealots, divided amongst themselves, controlled the Temple area: A moderate faction, led by Eleazar ben Simon, camped in the Temple complex itself while the extreme Zealots, led by Yochanan of Gush Chalav, camped on the Temple Mount—in between the moderate Zealots and the Sadducees.

The moderate Zealots generously opened the gates of the Temple so the Jews could come in and offer their Paschal sacrifices.  But the extremists, pretending to be Jews coming to offer sacrifices, also entered.  Once inside, they took out their swords and began to kill moderates as well as visiting Jews.

“On the day after Passover, Titus started engaging in active warfare.  Now, finally, all the factions in Jerusalem had no choice but to work together and fight their common enemy.”[13]  “When Titus saw he could not conquer them by force, he decided to starve the Jews into submission:”[14]

A terrible hunger now ravaged the overcrowded city.  Soon the last stores of food dwindled down.  Rich people gave all their wealth for a bit of food.  Even leather was cooked and eaten.  At first the Zealots had not been affected by hunger because they took other people’s food, but eventually they too became desperately hungry, eating their horses and even their horses’ dung and saddles.

In Josephus’s account (The Jewish Wars, 5:10): “The roofs were filled with women and small children expiring from hunger, and the corpses of old men were piled in the streets.  Youths swollen with hunger wandered like shadows in the marketplace until they collapsed.  No one mourned the dead, because hunger had deadened all feeling…”

The streets were soon filled with corpses, and, as it was hot summer weather, terrible epidemics broke out. Hundreds of people were found dead every morning.  In their despair, many of the Jews tried to leave the enclosure of Jerusalem under the cover of night to seek something edible in the fields.  They were easily captured, and Titus had them crucified in plain view of the city’s defenders on the wall.  In one night, Josephus tells us, five thousand Jews were discovered searching for food and were all crucified.

“Knowing the dire situation in the Jewish camp, Titus sent his spokesman, Josephus, to convince the Jews to surrender.  The Jewish warriors turned deaf ears to his words and ejected him contemptuously from their presence.  The battle now raged in the Temple area.”[15]  “According to Josephus, Titus did not want the Temple to be burnt, apparently because a standing (but vanquished) Temple would reflect more on Rome’s glory:”[16]

It was a Roman soldier acting on his own initiative who, hoisted on the shoulders of another soldier, threw a firebrand into the Temple.  Titus tried to put a stop to the fire, but in the chaos, his soldiers did not hear him.  (Other historians contradict this account of Titus’s enlightened perspective and report that Titus ordered the Temple destroyed.)

In either case, before long, the Temple was engulfed in flames.  The Jews frantically tried to stop the fire, but were unsuccessful.  In despair, many Jews threw themselves into the flames.  The Roman soldiers rushed into the melee.  Romans and Jews were crowded together, and their dead bodies fell on top of each other.

Josephus recalled the carnage:[17]

Crowded together around the entrances, many were trampled down by their companions; others, stumbling on the smoldering and smoked-filled ruins of the porticoes, died as miserably as the defeated.  As they drew closer to the Temple, they pretended not even to hear Caesar’s orders, but urged the men in front to throw in more firebrands.  The rebels were powerless to help; carnage and flight spread throughout.

Most of the slain were peaceful citizens, weak and unarmed, and they were butchered where they were caught.  The heap of corpses mounted higher and higher about the altar; a stream of blood flowed down the Temple’s steps, and the bodies of those slain at the top slipped to the bottom…

While the Temple was ablaze, the attackers plundered it, and countless people who were caught by them were slaughtered.  There was no pity for age and no regard was accorded rank; children and old men, laymen and priests, alike were butchered; every class was pursued and crushed in the grip of war, whether they cried out for mercy or offered resistance.

Through the roar of the flames streaming far and wide, the groans of the falling victims were heard; such was the height of the hill and the magnitude of the blazing pile that the entire city seemed to be ablaze; and the noise – nothing more deafening and frightening could be imagined.

There were the war cries of the Roman legions as they swept onwards en masse, the yells of the rebels encircled by fire and sword, the panic of the people who, cut off above, fled into the arms of the enemy, and their shrieks as they met their fate.  The cries on the hill blended with those of the multitudes in the city below; and now many people who were exhausted and tongue-tied as a result of hunger, when they beheld the Temple on fire, found strength once more to lament and wail.  Peraea and the surrounding hills, added their echoes to the deafening din.  But more horrifying than the din were the sufferings.

The Temple Mount, everywhere enveloped in flames, seemed to be boiling over from its base; yet the blood seemed more abundant than the flames and the numbers of the slain greater than those of the slayers.  The soldiers climbed over heaps of bodies as they chased the fugitives.

It’s a horrifying story.  But is it knowledge of God, how He treats people who are dearly loved (ἀγαπητοὶ, a form of ἀγαπητός)?  I thought so and became an atheist when God didn’t measure up to my expectations.  But now I think it’s the religious mind that seeks out guilt to assign blame: Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?[18]  “They deserved it,” mitigates the horror a bit.  But I can no longer conscience standing before the judgment seat of Christ with this story as proof of how God treats people.

If anything, this story describes how sin treats people.  It is not a story (Galatians 5:13-26) of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.[19]

Back to Who Am I? Part 7

[1] Luke 23:34a (NET)

[2] Genesis 3:1b (NET)

[3] Rabbi Irving Greenberg, “Destruction As Punishment,” myjewishlearning.com

[4] Eliezer Cohen, “Baseless Hatred and the Destruction of the Temple,” The Jewish Magazine

[5] Quoted from: Robin A. Brace, “Jerusalem, AD70: The Worst Desolation Ever?,” ukapologetics.net

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8]The Factions of the Second Temple Era,”  Chabad.org

[9]Revolt against Rome,” Chabad.org

[10]The Story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza,” Chabad.org

[11]Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai’s Request,” Chabad.org

[12]The Last Passover,” Chabad.org

[13]Battle,” Chabad.org

[14]Starvation,” Chabad.org

[15]The Seventeenth of Tammuz,” Chabad.org

[16]The Destruction of the Temple,” Chabad.org

[17]The Romans Destroy the Temple at Jerusalem, 70 AD,” eyewitnesstohistory.com

[18] John 9:2 (NET)

[19] Romans 3:22 (NET)

My Deeds, Part 1

In another essay I contrasted 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 and Revelation 2:26-29.  I’ve wanted to return to the latter for a while.  Here is a table representing my unstudied view of the relationship of its clauses in English.

Revelation 2:26-29 (NET)

And to the one who conquers and who continues in my deeds until the end,

I will give him authority over the nations –

he will rule them with an iron rod and like clay jars he will break them to pieces,
just as I have received the right to rule from my Father – and I will give him the morning star.

The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To begin I’ll consider who continues in my deeds until the end, because it tugs the hardest at me to return to my own works.  As the title of this essay suggests my goal is to understand what Jesus meant by τὰ ἔργα μου, translated my deeds.  But first I’ll look into τηρῶν (a form of τηρέω), translated who continues.

The most basic understanding of τηρῶν is: Blessed is the one who stays alert and does not lose (τηρῶν, a form of τηρέω) his clothes so that he will not have to walk around naked and his shameful condition be seen.[1]  It means to keep, not to lose or discardHe who has My commandments and keeps (τηρῶν, a form of τηρέω) them, Jesus said, is the one who loves Me.[2]

In another essay I described shacking-up “with my girlfriend du jour” as a time when “I began to walk in the grace of Christ’s salvation.”  Of course, I shacked up with my girlfriend because I was trying to believe that Christ put an “end” to the law and all things were “lawful” for me.  In other words, I was attempting to lose or discard Jesus’ commandments (ignoring for the moment that the main “commandment” at issue in my mind was the suspect “sin of premarital sex”).

Jesus wasn’t perplexed by my conundrum.  Suddenly I was filled with desire to write a rock opera about Him.  I became immersed in the words of the four Gospel narratives.  Among those words was: He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.  Though I read the word keeps, I heard the word obeys.  I thought keeps meant obeys at that time: The person who has my commandments and obeys (τηρῶν, a form of τηρέω) them is the one who loves me.[3]

So when I married my roommate, though I had certainly fallen away from grace since I was trying to be declared righteous by the law,[4] I was done for the moment with my attempt to lose or discard Jesus’ commandments.  I can’t say I was obeying them.  Obedience apart from grace is hypocrisy, an actor playing at righteousness.

The Circle in the movie of the same name is a religious cult/high-tech company.  There are many spoilers here.  During a weekly worship service called Dream Friday tech evangelist Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), one of the founders, introduces a new low-cost, wireless, internet-enabled camera to the faithful, called Circlers.  These cameras, connected to The Circle, are being placed all over the world.  “There needs to be accountability,” Eamon preaches.  “Tyrants and terrorists can no longer hide.  We will see them.  We will hear them.  We will hear and see everything.  If it happens, we’ll know.  We’re calling it SeeChange.”

A new employee Mae Holland (Emma Watson) sits in the congregation drinking the Kool-Aid (as she admits to another Circler later in the film).  “We will see it all because knowing is good,” Eamon proclaims, “but knowing everything is better.”

“We need accountability.  We need openness,” Tom Stenton (Patton Oswalt), COO of The Circle, concurs as he introduces Congresswoman Olivia Santos (Judy Reyes) at another worship service.  “I intend to show exactly how democracy can and should be,” Congresswoman Santos thrills Tom’s congregation.  “Starting today, my every meeting, my every phone call and email will be accessible to my constituents and to the world in real time.”

“Hello, democracy!  Open and accountable!” Tom seals the deal.

One night SeaChange cameras and monitoring help save Mae’s life after a misguided kayaking accident.  Tom and Eamon counsel her after the incident.  “I am a believer in the perfectibility of human beings,” Eamon admits.  “When we are our best selves, the possibilities are endless.  There isn’t a problem that we cannot solve.  We can cure any disease, and we can end hunger.”  Mae is a repentant convert.  “Without secrets,” Eamon concludes, “without the hoarding of knowledge and information, we can finally realize our potential.”

“I committed a crime” Mae confesses before the Circlers.  “I borrowed a kayak without the owner’s knowledge, paddled out to the middle of the bay and I wasn’t wearing a life jacket.”

“So, Mae,” Eamon asks, “do you think you behave better or worse when you are being watched?”

“Better.  Without a doubt.”

“What happens when you’re alone and unobserved?”

“Well, for starters, I steal kayaks.  Seriously, I do things I don’t wanna do.  I lie…secrets are lies.  Secrets are what make crimes possible.  We behave worse when we’re not accountable.  I was my worst self because I didn’t think anyone was watching.  I thought that I was alone…Knowledge is a basic human right.  Access to all possible human experience is a basic human right…From now on I’ll be wearing a modified SeeChange camera at all times.  I’m going fully transparent.”

My personal logline for The Circle is “Cyber-bullying with a great warm smile.”  But the attempt to drive a preachy plot with a series of worship services didn’t fare any better for a mainstream movie than it does for a Christian film.  And when Tom and Eamon bully Mae in front of the congregation into becoming complicit in her friend’s accidental death, she doesn’t rise up and race against the clock and certain death to consume The Circle in slow-motion fireballs.  The Circle is not presented as evil through Mae’s eyes but as a necessary good.

From the beginning she believed that the needs of society and the needs of the individual are the same.  “When someone dies in a plane crash,” she explains to her disbelieving parents, clinging desperately to their sick old ideas of personal privacy, “you don’t abandon planes.  You make them safer.”  And with the self-assurance that “I’m the only one who can do this,” Mae flips the script on Eamon and Tom, becomes high priestess of the cult and leads the Circlers into the light.

Still, I enjoyed the film’s depiction of the religious mind in a non-theistic context.  And it was a welcome reminder that forced righteousness under an ever-watchful eye is not the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.[5]  The table below contrasts the NASB and NET translations of John 14:21.

NASB

NET

He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me.  The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.

Though keeps may be a lower standard than obeys, the flow here is still fairly clear and appears that there is something one must do before Jesus will disclose or will reveal Himself to that person, not to mention love.  I looked into ἐμφανίσω (a form of ἐμφανίζω) the Greek word translated will disclose and will reveal.  It only occurred this once, so I made a table of all the forms of ἐμφανίζω.

Form of ἐμφανίζω Reference KJV

NET

ἐμφανίσατε Acts 23:15 …ye with the council signify to the chief captain… …you and the council request the commanding officer…
ἐμφανίσω John 14:21 …I will love him, and will manifest myself to him… …I will love him and will reveal myself to him.
ἐμφανισθῆναι Hebrews 9:24 to appear in the presence of God for us… and he appears now in God’s presence for us.
ἐμφανίζειν John 14:22 …thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? …you are going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?
ἐμφανίζουσιν Hebrews 11:14 …they that say such things declare plainly …those who speak in such a way make it clear
ἐνεφάνισαν Acts 24:1 …who informed the governor against Paul. …they brought formal charges against Paul to the governor.
Acts 25:2 Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him… So the chief priests and the most prominent men of the Jews brought formal charges against Paul to him.
Acts 25:15 …the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me… …the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him…
ἐνεφάνισας Acts 23:22 See thou tell no man that thou hast showed these things to me. Tell no one that you have reported these things to me.
ἐνεφανίσθησαν Matthew 27:53 …and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. …and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

The most basic meaning is to appear in person (Hebrews 9:24; Matthew 27:53).  And that sense was certainly true in John 14:21 and 22:  After his resurrection Jesus appeared (ἐφανερώθη, a form of φανερόω) in a different form to two of them while they were on their way to the country.[6]  Then he appeared (ἐφανερώθη, a form of φανερόω) to the eleven themselves, while they were eating[7]  After this Jesus revealed (ἐφανέρωσεν, another form of φανερόω) himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias.[8]  This was now the third time Jesus was revealed (ἐφανερώθη, a form of φανερόω) to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.[9]  But not once did He reveal Himself in person to Ananias, Caiaphas, the Pharisees (other than Saul) or the experts in the law after his resurrection.

“Lord, what then has happened” Judas (not Iscariot) asked, “that You are going to disclose (ἐμφανίζειν, another form of ἐμφανίζω) Yourself to us and not to the world?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me [e.g., if anyone has My commandments and keeps them], he will keep (τηρήσει, another form of τηρέω) My word (λόγον, a form of λόγος); and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  He who does not love Me [e.g., does not have or keep My commandments] does not keep (τηρεῖ, another form of τηρέω) My words (λόγους, another form of λόγος); and the word (λόγος) which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.[10]

I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, Jesus said.  But you want to kill me, because my teaching (λόγος) makes no progress among you[11] (NASB: My word has no place in you).  And, Having no regard for the command of God, you hold fast to human traditionThus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.[12]  In other words, they did not keep his word or his commandments and He did not disclose or reveal Himself to them by a personal appearance after his resurrection.

There are five other occurrences (Acts 23:15, 22; 24:1; 25:2, 15) of forms of ἐμφανίζω which included personal appearance but the communication of certain information was also of key importance.  I’ll highlight two of them because they remind me of my own experience studying the Bible.

The chief priests and the most prominent men of the Jews brought formal charges (ἐνεφάνισαν, another form of ἐμφανίζω) against Paul to[13] Festus, the Roman governor.  Describing those charges Festus said (Acts 25:15-19 NET):

When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed (ἐνεφάνισαν, another form of ἐμφανίζω) me about [Paul], asking for a sentence of condemnation against him.  I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over anyone before the accused had met his accusers face to face and had been given an opportunity to make a defense against the accusation.  So after they came back here with me, I did not postpone the case, but the next day I sat on the judgment seat and ordered the man to be brought.  When his accusers stood up, they did not charge him with any of the evil deeds (πονηρῶν, a form of πονηρός) I had suspected.  Rather they had several points of disagreement with him about their own religion (δεισιδαιμονίας, a form of δεισιδαιμονία) and about a man named Jesus who was dead, whom Paul claimed to be alive.

In Jerusalem the information Festus received from the chief priests and the elders of the Jews formed an image in his mind based largely on his own knowledge and experience—the evil deeds I had suspected.  On further examination at trial in Caesarea Festus’ erroneous ideas were corrected—they had several points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a man named Jesus who was dead, whom Paul claimed to be alive.  Though Festus received more information and even some more clarity about Paul’s situation, he acknowledged: I was at a loss how I could investigate these matters[14]  My point here is that the information, and understanding the information presented, had taken precedence over the personal appearance aspects of ἐμφανίζω.

Finally, one occurrence of a form of ἐμφανίζω referenced people of the past, known only through Scripture: These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth.  For those who speak [e.g., through words recorded in the Bible] in such a way make it clear (ἐμφανίζουσιν, another form of ἐμφανίζω) that they are seeking a homeland.[15]  And it is in this way that I think Jesus’ words have meaning for me here and now.  He will disclose or will reveal Himself to me through Scripture if I love Him, which means if I have his commandments and keep them.

So why was I filled with desire to write a rock opera about Jesus even as I attempted to lose or discard his commandments?  Why wasn’t I filled with desire to write a rock opera about Aleister Crowley?  I certainly knew of him.  No one gets very deep into rock music without hearing about its patron saint. “Harm None, Do as You Will” was much closer to my mantra at that moment than anything Jesus had said.

Before Jesus said—He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me—He said—If you love Me, you will keep (τηρήσετε, another form of τηρέω) My commandments.[16]  Then[17] he introduced the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 17 NASB).

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

If I remember that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,[18] then what Jesus said logically was:

  1. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
  2. You will love Me (e.g., the fruit of the Spirit).
  3. Therefore, you will keep My commandments.

The simple answer to my question then is that I was filled with desire to write a rock opera about Jesus because his Holy Spirit is alive and well.  Aleister Crowley is dead.  (I’ll ignore for the moment that spirits which may or may not have influenced him are alive still.  They obviously had little or no influence on me.)  But what do I make of Jesus’ other statement?  He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.

The implication here is that if I do not have and keep his commandments He will not disclose Himself to me.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, He also said, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.[19]  How do I reconcile these two?

Do not extinguish the Spirit,[20] Paul wrote the Thessalonians without any explanation.  I think I’ve found here one way to extinguish the Spirit (in me, not in anyone else); namely, to lose or discard Jesus’ commandments, whether deliberately by conscious rejection or holding fast instead to the traditions of human religion so that his teaching (λόγος) makes no progress in me.  But if I were to teach others the traditions of human religion that nullify the word of God, though my power would be less than absolute, I might become instrumental in extinguishing the Spirit in them as well. 

I’ll pick this up in another essay.

 

[1] Revelation 16:15b (NET)

[2] John 14:21a (NASB)

[3] John 14:21a (NET)

[4] Galatians 5:4 (NET)

[5] Romans 3:22a (NET)

[6] Mark 16:12 (NET)

[7] Mark 16:14 (NET)

[8] John 21:1a (NET)

[9] John 21:14 (NET)

[10] John 14:22-24 (NASB)

[11] John 8:37 (NET)

[12] Mark 7:8, 13a (NET)

[13] Acts 25:2 (NET)

[14] Acts 25:20a (NET)

[15] Hebrews 11:13, 14 (NET)

[16] John 14:15 (NASB)

[17] By adding then to the text the NET translators have made it seem as if Jesus said, If you love me and you keep my commandments then I will ask the Father…   This then however does not make the second clause logically dependent on the first two.  It is simply an irregular translation of (καγὼ, a form of κἀγώ) and means no more than Jesus said this then He said that as they acknowledge in a footnote 36.

[18] Galatians 5:23, 24a (NET)

[19] John 14:26 (NASB)

[20] 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NET)

Sexual Immorality Revisited, Part 3

Though I’m eager to dive into the word study, I’m compelled to spend some time keeping my promise to reveal my own position and velocity.  It will make this essay considerably, but necessarily, longer than I like.

The Greek words translated sexual immorality in the NET were translated fornication in the KJV.  I thought fornication meant premarital sex.  I didn’t know anything about the ritual sex of pagan worship until about thirty-five years ago (though I felt the sensual pull of Egyptian art since childhood).  But I didn’t immediately question the meaning of sexual immorality or fornication.  I remember wondering if the prostitutes in Jerusalem that Solomon feared so for his sons had been imported along with his wives’ religions (1 Kings 11:1-8).

Now I’m thinking that “the sin of premarital sex” is a way we have nullified the word of God by our traditions.  Upwardly-mobile young men can “repent” of their “sins of premarital sex” and head off to college or a new career unencumbered by any of their responsibilities as husbands.  “If a man is shacking up with a woman,” Denny wrote in his blog post THE PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION HERESY, “simply saying, ‘I’m sorry God,’ just won’t do.  It requires that you get out of that sinful situation.”

He might have meant “give the woman a ring and social status as a legal wife,” hearkening back to an older time when church folk believed, What therefore God hath joined together [Deuteronomy 22:28, 29; Exodus 22:16, 17][1], let not man [except for the young woman’s father] put asunder.[2]  It would demonstrate a humility reminiscent of the proverb of the wisest king of Israel (or perhaps, the wisest man ever): There are three things that are too wonderful for me, Solomon wrote, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship in the sea, and the way of a man with a woman[3] (Septuagint: “and the ways of a man in his youth”).

But I imagine Denny as a contemporary co-religionist, hailing from a prouder more macho tradition where “holiness” is measured by how harshly it savages human emotions.  The two “shacking up” together, no matter how desperately they love one another (the more the better), must part, separate, send away, divorce, put asunder because they have committed the “unpardonable sin” of enjoying sex before a church official pronounced them lawful to do so.  To paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche’s Antichrist: What is good?  All that heightens the feeling of church power.

Any man of Israel who refused to attend Ezra’s assembly and divorce his foreign wife would forfeit all his property.  The list of men who had taken foreign wives at the end of the book (Ezra 10:18-44) persuades me that Ezra believed the proceedings to send foreign wives and their children away had transpired according to the Lord’s will.  And so did I, until I heard yehôvâh’s response through the prophet Malachi (2:13-16 NET):

You also do this: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears as you weep and groan, because he no longer pays any attention to the offering nor accepts it favorably from you. Yet you ask, “Why?”  The Lord is testifying against you on behalf of the wife you married when you were young, to whom you have become unfaithful even though she is your companion and wife by law.  No one who has even a small portion of the Spirit in him does this.  What did our ancestor do when seeking a child from God [e.g., Genesis 15:6]?  Be attentive, then, to your own spirit, for one should not be disloyal to the wife he took in his youth.  “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and the one who is guilty of violence,” says the Lord who rules over all.  “Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful.”

The intimate absolute rejection of divorce was yehôvâh’s will for no one.  But I’ve stacked the deck here as if I believe that staying together and formalizing the relationship is necessarily the “right” decision.  In my case it was not so.

My contract with God had broken down.  I had heard enough religion to know that some believed Christ put an “end” to the law and all things were “lawful” for me.  So I did what I wanted.  I shacked up with my girlfriend du jour.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, with my sexual desires more or less satisfied for the first time in a long time, I began to walk in the grace of Christ’s salvation as I began to set the words of the Gospel to music.

Too many years of hallucinogenic drugs had made me functionally illiterate.  At least I thought that term described me accurately the first time I heard it.  (As it turned out functionally illiterate is just a redundancy for illiterate.)  If I had read aloud one would have assumed I understood what I read.  I read easily, fluently and coherently with an actor’s flair for inflection.  My problem was a lack of faith.  I had no confidence that strings of words meant anything beyond the beauty of their sounds, except in the most mundane cases: I’m hungry, I’m horny, I have to pee.  And so with a young man’s needs met, a job and a woman, I set out to make art.

The one who hated the Bible as a child knew he wasn’t smart enough to choose which Gospel was the “right” one for his libretto, so he spent countless hours creating a harmony of the four Gospel narratives, and untold hours more with those words rolling over and over in his mind to set them to music.  It was a long and laborious task because he was not a very good composer, at least he wasn’t quick about it.

When he played and sang John 17:1-11 for another composer friend, his friend commended his work: “You know, the first time you played this for me I thought it was just a throw-away.  Now I think it may be the best piece you’ve ever written.”  He, being a highly literate fellow, also commented on the meaning of the text: “And that’s the most interesting definition of eternal life I’ve ever heard.”

The functionally illiterate composer of the best piece he had ever written nodded appreciatively but hadn’t realized that the words—This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent[4]—constituted a definition of eternal life.  But he planned to take the words—This is and whatever words followed—a bit more seriously in the future.  When he decided to formally marry his roommate the functionally illiterate composer had fallen away from grace, though he would not have understood that if someone had told him.

In fact, I wonder if I was capable of understanding it apart from actively becoming one who was trying to be declared righteous by the law.  I began to study the Bible in earnest.  Though I had been warned that the meaning of eternal life was to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He had sent I didn’t study to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He had sent to live that eternal life.  I searched the Bible for rules to obey—or disobey as it turned out.

So what do I currently think is the “right” decision when one is conscience-stricken over “shacking up” together?  I return to Ezra (Ezra 9:15 NET):

O Lord God of Israel, you are righteous, for we are left as a remnant this day.  Indeed, we stand before you in our guilt.  However, because of this guilt no one can really stand before you.

And then wait—acknowledging that you are caught in a tender trap (Hosea 11:4) and that there is no way for you to cleanse yourself of sin by your deeds.  And while you’re waiting, study the Bible to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent to live his eternal life.  This essay will become a tale of three women (four women, though one was actually a symbol for a city), more importantly it will focus on Jesus’ response to those women.

Go call your husband and come back here,[5] Jesus said to a Samaritan woman at a well.  The woman replied, “I have no husband.”[6]  Jesus already knew her past: you have had five husbands, and the man you are living with now is not your husband.[7]  He did not command her to leave the man she had now (νῦν ὃν ἔχεις), nor did He command her to go to a priest and get married; the man was apparently already married to another woman.  Jesus commended her for her truthfulness: καλῶς εἶπας ὅτι ἄνδρα οὐκ ἔχω is literally “beautifully you poured forth that husband you have not.”  And he told her that in her truthfulness she was exactly the kind of person his Father was seeking for his kingdom (John 4:23, 24 NET):

But a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers.  God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

The second woman was from Thyatira: But I have this against you, Jesus addressed the singular angel of the church in Thyatira, You tolerate that woman Jezebel[8]  The Greek word translated You tolerate was ἀφεῖς (a form of ἀφίημι).  Here is a table of all the occurrences of ἀφεῖς and its translation.

Form of ἀφίημι Reference KJV

NET

ἀφεὶς Matthew 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away Then he left the crowds…
Matthew 26:44 And he left them… So leaving them again…
Mark 8:13 And he left them… Then he left them…
Mark 13:34 who left his house… He left his house…
Mark 15:37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice… But Jesus cried out with a loud voice…[9]
ἀφεῖς Revelation 2:20 thou sufferest that woman Jezebel… You tolerate that woman Jezebel…

Mark’s word picture, that Jesus left his body and its loud voice echoed on afterward, is stunning.  In Revelation, You [left] that woman Jezebel hints that the angel of the church of Thyatira was a kind of ἐπίσκοπος on a visitation circuit inspecting (ἐπισκέπτομαι) churches.  He saw what Jezebel was doing but did nothing.  It doesn’t answer the question whether the angel was a human being or not but serves as prima facie evidence that he was not a local pastor.

Jesus described Jezebel as one who calls herself a prophetess, and by her teaching deceives my servants[10]  The Greek word translated by her teaching was διδάσκει (a form of διδάσκω).  Here is a table of all the occurrences of διδάσκει and its translation.

Form of διδάσκω Reference KJV

NET

διδάσκει 1 Corinthians 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you… Does not nature itself teach you…
1 John 2:27 …the same anointing teacheth you of all… …his anointing teaches you about all things…
Revelation 2:20 to teach and to seduce my servants… …and by her teaching deceives my servants…

Though I have assumed that the fact that Jezebel taught indicated that she held a formal teaching position, neither nature nor Christ’s (or, God’s) anointing hold official teaching positions in the church.  The Greek word translated deceives was πλανᾷ (a form of πλανάω).  A table of the occurrences and translations of πλανᾷ follows.

Form of πλανᾷ

Reference KJV

NET

πλανᾷ John 7:12 …but he deceiveth the people… He deceives the common people.
Revelation 2:20 …to teach and to seduce my servants… …and by her teaching deceives my servants…
Revelation 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth… he deceived those who live on the earth.

Then I saw another beast coming up from the earth, John reported (Revelation 13:11-14a NET):

He had two horns like a lamb, but was speaking like a dragon.  He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed.  He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven in front of people and, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth.

This prophecy of an ostensibly Christian leader (He had two horns like a lamb) preaching Satan (speaking like a dragon) and deceiving people by momentous signs might explain to some extent why folks from my religious background fear the leading of the Holy Spirit.  For false messiahs and false prophets will appear, Jesus warned, and perform great signs and wonders to deceive (πλανῆσαι, another form of πλανάω), if possible, even the elect.[11]  But to turn the fruit of the Spirit into one’s own works or qualities turns the salvation of Jesus Christ into just another works religion.

One of the momentous signs this beast will perform is to make fire come down from heaven in front of people.  This is what James and John—before they received the Holy Spirit—wanted to do to Samaritans who refused to welcome Jesus (Luke 9:51-56).  On the other hand some of the Ἰουδαῖοι (a form of Ἰουδαῖος) accused Jesus, He deceives (πλανᾷ, a form of πλανάω) the common people, because their leaders had recognized that He was performing many miraculous signs and they feared that everyone would believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away our sanctuary and our nation (John 11:45-53).  Knowing Jesus intimately through his Spirit is essential to faith.

Jezebel by her teaching deceived Jesus’ servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.[12]  The Greek word translated to commit sexual immorality was πορνεῦσαι (a form of πορνεύω).  A table of the occurrences and translations of πορνεῦσαι follows.

Form of πορνεύω Reference KJV

NET

πορνεῦσαι Revelation 2:14 …to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. …eat food sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality.
Revelation 2:20 to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. to commit sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

These two occurrences seem to be obvious references to sexualized pagan worship.  Though I had no conscious alliance with any pagan deities I’m willing to consider my desire for group sex πορνεῦσαι for two reasons: 1) I thought group sex was the way of peace, distinct from, more real and effective than, any aspect of the fruit of the Spirit.  My naiveté was deliberate.  I was forbidden from reading or viewing stories about the treachery and violence of adultery.  And I had discounted my parents’ example, assuming they were so hung up about the morality of sexuality they didn’t do it right.

The one story I had seen about adultery, on the sly as it were once I could drive and date, seemed like a subtle promo.  I watched Hawkeye (Donald Sutherland) talk Lt. Dish (Jo Ann Pflug) into mercy sex with Painless (John Schuck) the night before she was scheduled to return home to her husband.  I was desperate to find some meaning after the main character Frank Burns (Robert Duvall), the only character with anything like a storyline, had been written out of the movie MASH.  I could see the guilt of Dish’s adultery on her face, particularly in her eyes—until she smiled.  It’s been forty-seven years and I still remember her smile.

2) God stopped me from following through on my desire for group sex—twice.  The second time was considerably more embarrassing and I may or may not reveal it.  Jesus went on to describe πορνεῦσαι as πορνείας (a form of πορνεία), translated sexual immorality: I have given her time to repent, but she is not willing to repent of her sexual immorality.[13]  Here is a table of the occurrences and translations of πορνείας.  I’ll consider each in turn.

Form of πορνεία Reference KJV

NET

πορνείας Matthew 5:32 … whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication …everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality
John 8:41 We be not born of fornication[14] We were not born as a result of immorality!
Acts 15:20 …abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication …to abstain from things defiled by idols and from sexual immorality
Acts 15:29 …and from things strangled, and from fornication …from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality.
1 Corinthians 7:2 …to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife… …because of immoralities, each man should have relations with his own wife…
1 Thessalonians 4:3 …that ye should abstain from fornication …that you keep away from sexual immorality
Revelation 2:21 …to repent of her fornication …to repent of her sexual immorality.
Revelation 9:21 …nor of their fornication …of their sexual immorality
Revelation 14:8 …she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. She made all the nations drink of the wine of her immoral passion.
Revelation 17:2 …of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. …the earth’s inhabitants got drunk with the wine of her immorality.
Revelation 17:4 …and filthiness of her fornication… …unclean things from her sexual immorality.
Revelation 18:3 …wine of the wrath of her fornication …from the wine of her immoral passion…

It was said, Jesus taught, “Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document.”  But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery (μοιχευθῆναι, a form of μοιχεύω), and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (μοιχᾶται, a form of μοιχάω).[15]  Limiting πορνείας (translated, immorality) to the ritual sex of pagan worship here would correspond better to yehôvâh’s word through Malachi—I hate divorce—and Jesus’ negative answer (Matthew 19:4-6) to the Pharisees’ question: Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?[16]

I’m not entirely sure what the Ἰουδαίους (another form of Ἰουδαῖος) meant when they said: We were not born as a result of immorality!  We have only one Father, God himself.[17]  But I take it as mostly irrelevant to understanding what Jesus meant when He used πορνείας.  Assuming that James used πορνείας to mean the ritual sex of pagan worship when he suggested writing a letter to Gentiles, telling them to abstain from things defiled by idols and from sexual immorality and from what has been strangled and from blood,[18] is the most charitable understanding of his abbreviation of the law.

If Paul had the lure of ritual sex in view it would account for his prescription of marriage though he considered it a distraction from devotion to Christ (1 Corinthians 7:32-35) and it would account for his description of Corinthian marriage as mutual sexual slavery[19] (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).  But as I’ve written before I find it very difficult to believe that Paul had ritual sex in mind in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.

Still, in Revelation ritual sex seems to be the meaning of πορνείας as its resurgence with pagan worship is a portent of the end times:  The rest of humanity, those who survived the onslaught of an army numbering two hundred million, who had not been killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so that they did not stop worshiping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk about.  Furthermore, they did not repent of their murders, of their magic spells, of their sexual immorality, or of their stealing.[20]

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, John continued his vision, and he had an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language, and people.  He declared in a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!”

A second angel followed the first, declaring: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great city!  She made all the nations drink of the wine of her immoral passion.”[21]

The Greek word translated passion was θυμοῦ (a form of θυμός).  Here is a table of the occurrences and translations of θυμοῦ.

Form of θυμός Reference KJV

NET

θυμοῦ Luke 4:28 …these things, were filled with wrath …in the synagogue were filled with rage.
Acts 19:28 …these sayings, they were full of wrath When they heard this they became enraged
Revelation 14:8 …wine of the wrath of her fornication… …drink of the wine of her immoral passion.
Revelation 14:10 …shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God… …also drink of the wine of God’s anger
Revelation 14:19 …the great winepress of the wrath of God. …the great winepress of the wrath of God.
Revelation 15:7 …golden vials full of the wrath of God… …golden bowls filled with the wrath of God…
Revelation 16:1 …the vials of the wrath of God… …the seven bowls containing God’s wrath.
Revelation 16:19 …the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. …the wine made of God’s furious wrath.
Revelation 18:3 …the wine of the wrath of her fornication… …the wine of her immoral passion
Revelation 19:15 …he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. …he stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God…

In the NET translation Babylon made all the nations (or, all the Gentiles: πάντα τὰ ἔθνη) drink of her immoral passion, which I understand as idolatrous worship including ritual sex.  In the KJV translation Babylon made all the nations (or, all the Gentiles) drink of the wrath directed at her fornication, whether all the individual nations or all of the individual Gentiles engaged directly in idolatrous worship including ritual sex or not.  Though I prefer the NET translation as a matter of justice I can’t verify it independently.  Here are the footnotes which attempt to explain it.

24 Grk “of the wine of the passion of the sexual immorality of her.” Here τῆς πορνείας…has been translated as an attributive genitive. In an ironic twist of fate, God will make Babylon drink her own mixture, but it will become the wine of his wrath in retribution for her immoral deeds (see the note on the word “wrath” in 16:19).

65 Following BDAG 461 s.v. θυμός 2, the combination of the genitives of θυμός…and ὀργή…in Rev 16:19 and 19:15 are taken to be a strengthening of the thought as in the OT and Qumran literature (Exod 32:12; Jer 32:37; Lam 2:3; CD 10:9). Thus in Rev 14:8 (to which the present passage alludes) and 18:3 there is irony: The wine of immoral behavior with which Babylon makes the nations drunk becomes the wine of God’s wrath for her. 

In a later passage however it is clear that the earth’s inhabitants got drunk with the wine of her immorality (Revelation 17:1, 2 NET):

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke to me.  “Come,” he said, “I will show you the condemnation and punishment of the great prostitute (πόρνης, a form of πόρνη) who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality (ἐπόρνευσαν, another form of πορνεύω) and the earth’s inhabitants got drunk with the wine of her immorality.”

Now the woman was dressed in purple and scarlet clothing, John’s vision continued, and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls.  She held in her hand a golden cup filled with detestable things and unclean things from her sexual immorality.  On her forehead was written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the Great, the Mother of prostitutes (πορνῶν, another form of πόρνη) and of the detestable things of the earth.”[22]  As for the woman you saw, the angel explained, she is the great city that has sovereignty over the kings of the earth.[23]  I’m not sure if the angel meant a city at the time John saw the vision or at the time of the prophecy’s fulfillment.  If pressed I would assume the latter since no single city has had sovereignty over the kings of the earth since the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).

After these things I saw another angel, John continued (Revelation 18:1-3 NET):

who possessed great authority, coming down out of heaven, and the earth was lit up by his radiance.  He shouted with a powerful voice: “Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great!  She has become a lair for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detested beast.  For all the nations have fallen from the wine of her immoral passion, and the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality (ἐπόρνευσαν, another form of πορνεύω) with her, and the merchants of the earth have gotten rich from the power of her sensual behavior (στρήνους, a form of στρῆνος).”

Here, after the other verses I’ve quoted I’m much more comfortable with the NET translation (her immoral passion) of τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς πορνείας αὐτῆς than the KJV translation (the wrath of her fornication).

Jesus described Jezebel’s followers with the Greek word μοιχεύοντας (another form of μοιχεύω), translated those who commit adultery.  Though μοιχεύοντας only occurred this once in the New Testament it is fairly clear that in Jesus’ mind the verb πορνεῦσαι and the noun πορνείας described a special form of adultery.  Consider his words to the third woman.

She had been caught (κατειλημμένην, a form of καταλαμβάνω) committing adultery (μοιχείᾳ, a form of μοιχεία).[24]  Teacher, this woman was caught (κατείληπται, another form of καταλαμβάνω) in the very act (αὐτοφώρῳ, a form of ἐπαυτοφώρῳ) of adultery (μοιχευομένη, another form of μοιχεύω),[25] her accusers said to Jesus.  When none of her accusers considered himself guiltless (ἀναμάρτητος) they left Jesus alone with the woman.  He asked her, “Woman, where are they?  Did no one condemn you?”  She replied, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either.  Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”[26]

But of the woman who was guilty of that special form of μοιχεία designated by the verb πορνεῦσαι and the noun πορνείας, He said: I am throwing her onto a bed of violent illness, and those who commit adultery with her into terrible suffering, unless they repent of her deeds.[27]  This was not written in the past age under the law, but in the present after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.  Since I don’t believe that human bishops or circuit riders are enjoined or authorized by this Scripture to infect church members guilty of idolatrous worship and ritual sex with disease, Jesus’ condemnation indicates to me that the angel of the church of Thyatira, criticized for having left Jezebel unattended, was not human.

Back to My Deeds, Part 1

[1] Does Deuteronomy 22:28-29 command a rape victim to marry her rapist?

[2] Mark 10:9 (KJV)

[3] Proverbs 30:18, 19 (NET)

[4] John 17:3 (NASB)

[5] John 4:16b (NET)

[6] John 4:17a (NET)

[7] John 4:18a (NET)

[8] Revelation 2:20a (NET)

[9] See: Mark 15:34 The Greek word translated cried out was ἐβόησεν (a form of βοάω).

[10] Revelation 2:20b (NET)

[11] Matthew 24:24 (NET)

[12] Revelation 2:20c (NET)

[13] Revelation 2:21 (NET)

[14] Peter J. Leithart, “Born in Fornication,” First Things

[15] Matthew 5:31, 32 (NET)

[16] Matthew 19:3b (NET)

[17] John 8:41b (NET)

[18] Acts 15:20b (NET)

[19] Romans, Part 30 ; Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 4

[20] Revelation 9:20, 21 (NET)

[21] Revelation 14:6-8 (NET)

[22] Revelation 17:4, 5 (NET)

[23] Revelation 17:18 (NET)

[24] John 8:3a (NET)

[25] John 8:4 (NET)

[26] John 8:10b, 11 (NET)

[27] Revelation 2:22 (NET)

To Make Holy, Part 2

I’ll continue to look at the New Testament occurrences of forms of ἁγιάζω starting with ἁγιάσας and ἁγιάζον translated sanctifieth (KJV) and that makes sacred (NET).  Jesus turned his attention to the experts in the law and you Pharisees who were part (Matthew 22:15-46) of the crowds He addressed (Matthew 23:16-22 NET):

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple is bound by nothing.  But whoever swears by the gold of the temple is bound by the oath.’  Blind fools!  Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred (ἁγιάσας, a form of ἁγιάζω)?  And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing.  But if anyone swears by the gift on it he is bound by the oath.’  You are blind!  For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred (ἁγιάζον, another form of ἁγιάζω)?  So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.  And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and the one who dwells in it.  And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and the one who sits on it.

I began this study prompted by “Denny’s” assertion: “Satan deceives people with the Progressive Sanctification heresy…”[1]  In this passage it is fairly clear that the gold is sanctified by the temple immediately as the gift is sanctified by the altar.  Stealing the gold on Tuesday that was installed in the temple on Monday would not be a lesser offense against yehôvâh than stealing the gold that had been installed fifty years earlier.  And it would clearly be meaningless to speculate about the gold’s (or a slab of meat’s) experience of being sanctified.  So I’ll score two for “Denny.”

I don’t want to miss the point of the passage however (Matthew 5:33-37 NET):

Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’  But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.  Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black.  Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’  More than this is from the evil one (πονηροῦ, a form of πονηρός).

Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord, appears to be Jesus’ paraphrase of part of Leviticus 19:12 and Deuteronomy 23:21.

Matthew 5:33b (NET) Parallel Greek Septuagint

NETS

Do not break an oath οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις καὶ οὐκ ὀμεῖσθε τῷ ὀνόματί μου ἐπ᾽ ἀδίκῳ

Leviticus 19:12a

And you shall not swear by my name in an unjust matter…

Leviticus 19:12a

but fulfill your vows to the Lord. …ἀποδώσεις δὲ τῷ κυρίῳ τοὺς ὅρκους σου. …οὐ χρονιεῖς ἀποδοῦναι αὐτήν…

Deuteronomy 23:21b

…you shall not delay to pay it…

Deuteronomy 23:21b

Baelor Breakwind has written extensively on this topic on his blog: “Do not swear at all”: A History of Interpretation.  I won’t comment further except to add that we learn of Jesus’ ban against oaths in Matthew 5.  We don’t hear that religious leaders had turned swearing oaths into a complicated system for lying until Matthew 23.  It’s a fair bet that Jesus’ audience in Matthew 5 was well aware of the religious leaders’ hypocrisy regarding oaths.  Before Jesus banned oaths the law enjoined its followers to tell the truth and do what they say.  After the ban the law enjoined its followers to tell the truth and do what they say.  Making oaths was more or less irrelevant[2] until religious leaders institutionalized lying with them, all in yehôvâh’s name.

The next form of ἁγιάζω I’ll consider is ἁγιάσατε translated sanctify (KJV) and set apart (NET).  Peter wrote (1 Peter 3:13-18 NET):

For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good?  But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed.  But do not be terrified of them or be shaken.  But set Christ apart (ἁγιάσατε, another form of ἁγιάζω) as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.  Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil (κακοποιοῦντας, a form of κακοποιέω).  Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit.

There are variants in the Greek of 1 Peter 3:15 which have led to differing translations:

Parallel Greek (NET)

Textus Receptus

Byzantine/Majority Text

κύριον δὲ τὸν Χριστὸν ἁγιάσατε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ἕτοιμοι ἀεὶ πρὸς ἀπολογίαν παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι ὑμᾶς λόγον περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος (3:16) ἀλλὰ μετὰ πραΰτητος καὶ φόβου κυριον δε τον θεον αγιασατε εν ταις καρδιαις υμων ετοιμοι δε αει προς απολογιαν παντι τω αιτουντι υμας λογον περι της εν υμιν ελπιδος μετα πραυτητος και φοβου κυριον δε τον θεον αγιασατε εν ταις καρδιαις υμων ετοιμοι δε αει προς απολογιαν παντι τω αιτουντι υμας λογον περι της εν υμιν ελπιδος μετα πραυτητος και φοβου

A note (24) in the NET explained: “Most later mss…have θεόν (theon, ‘God’) instead of Χριστόν (Criston; ‘Christ’) here. But Χριστόν is widely supported by excellent and early witnesses…and as a less common idiom better explains the rise of the other reading.”  And I take it to mean that Christ is yehôvâh, though I had a real question whether Peter could have possibly meant that.  The first passage that came to mind seemed promising (1 Peter 1:10, 11):

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully.  They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory.

Here all three Greek versions agree that Peter wrote Spirit of Christ (πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ).

1 Peter 1:11

Parallel Greek (NET) Textus Receptus

Byzantine/Majority Text

ἐραυνῶντες εἰς τίνα ἢ ποῖον καιρὸν ἐδήλου τὸ ἐν αὐτοῖς πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ προμαρτυρόμενον τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήματα καὶ τὰς μετὰ ταῦτα δόξας ερευνωντες εις τινα η ποιον καιρον εδηλου το εν αυτοις πνευμα χριστου προμαρτυρομενον τα εις χριστον παθηματα και τας μετα ταυτα δοξας ερευνωντες εις τινα η ποιον καιρον εδηλου το εν αυτοις πνευμα χριστου προμαρτυρομενον τα εις χριστον παθηματα και τας μετα ταυτα δοξας

Indeed the Spirit who spoke Isaiah 53 was none other than yehôvâh, though the translators of the NET didn’t think it prudent to continue his speech in quotation marks until verse 52:13, and though the quotation marks never actually closed they are opened again in 53:11b (Isaiah 52:5b, 6 NET):

“Indeed my people have been carried away for nothing, those who rule over them taunt,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), “and my name is constantly slandered all day long.  For this reason my people will know my name, for this reason they will know at that time that I am the one who says, ‘Here I am.’”

And Jermiah wrote (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NET):

“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.  It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt.  For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds.  I will be their God and they will be my people.

“People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me.  For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”

I want to pause here a moment to reflect.  Larry D. Pettegrew in his essay “The New Covenant” wrote, “the covenant is amazing in what it offers.  It presents the solutions to all of life’s deep problems, including cleansing from sin and an intimate relationship with the God of the universe.  Any reasonable person would want to become a part of this covenant.”  He outlined the new covenant in five subject headings:

New: “He speaks of a new covenant, not a covenant renewal, and thereby assumes a radical break with the Mosaic tradition.”
Everlasting and irrevocable: “The Mosaic Covenant depended on the ability of the people to keep their part of the contract….But the New Covenant, like the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants made with Israel, was declared everlasting and irrevocable, based on the promise of the sovereign, faithful God of the universe.”
Transformation: “[W]hat is here outlined is the picture of a new man, a man who is able to obey perfectly because of a miraculous change of his nature.”
Forgiveness: “Above all else, the shed blood of the Son of God provided the means of final and permanent forgiveness. New Covenant forgiveness of sins is of a different nature than forgiveness of sins under the Old Covenant.”
Consummation of relationship: “In that future kingdom, a perfect mediatorial king, the Lord Jesus Christ, will rule (Isa 42:1-4), and the people will all have experienced the new birth (Ezek 11:17-20).”

It is good to be reminded just who and what the new covenant ἐκκλησία is and what direction institutional churches should be leading or following.  Paul wrote Roman believers (Romans 11:11, 12 NET):

I ask then, [Israel] did not stumble into an irrevocable fall, did they?  Absolutely not!  But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel jealous.  Now if their transgression means riches for the world and their defeat means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full restoration bring?

In [the Spirit], Peter continued, [Jesus] went and preached (ἐκήρυξεν, a form of κηρύσσω) to the spirits in prison, after they were disobedient long ago when God patiently waited in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed.  In the ark a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water.[3]  At first I thought Peter had intended to distinguish between Jesus and yehôvâh, for Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord (yehôvâh),[4] and, The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, for I consider you godly among this generation.”[5]  But as I looked more carefully at the Scripture throughout the time that might be considered God patiently waited (Genesis 6:9-22) yehôvâh was not mentioned once.  It was the plural ʼĕlôhı̂ym, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who waited patiently.

Form of ʼĕlôhı̂ym Reference

KJV

NET

האלהים Genesis 6:9 …and Noah walked with God. He walked with God.
Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God The earth was ruined in the sight of God
אלהים Genesis 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt… God saw the earth, and indeed it was ruined…
Genesis 6:13 And God said unto Noah… So God said to Noah…
Genesis 6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him… And Noah did all that God commanded him…

Peter recognized this distinction with the Greek word θεοῦ (a form of θεός).

Be that as it may, whether I sanctify Christ as yehôvâh in my heart or as a Lord, or sanctify the Lord God in my heart, I am not making Christ or God holy (thus set apart in the NET).  I am recognizing his holiness.  Now, I might ask “Denny,” am I doing this once for all time or moment by moment as I am cleansed with the washing of the water by the word, progressively yielding more and more to his holiness as my mind is renewed?  Do not be conformed to this present world, Paul wrote believers in Rome, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.[6]

So I’ll end this essay with the first occurrence of ἁγιάσῃ (another form of ἁγιάζω) translated might sanctify (KJV) and to sanctify (NET).  Paul wrote believers in Ephesus (Ephesians 5:25b-27 NET):

Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify (ἁγιάσῃ, another form of ἁγιάζω) her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.

While Christ’s death was certainly once for all, the cleansingwith the washing of the water by the word is surely continuous and, hopefully, cumulative and progressive as it pertains both to our own sanctification and our sanctifying of Christ as yehôvâh in our hearts or as a Lord, or sanctifying the Lord God in our hearts.

I began this study of ἁγιάζω to find a biblical language that both did justice to my experience and might satisfy “Denny.”  I don’t know “Denny” nor does he have any authority over me except that which I allow him by the weight of his argument:

Hebrews 10:10 says, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Here the Bible says we are sanctified once through the body of Christ…

We should endeavor to be holy, to be Christ-like, to live sanctified lives, but we have seen that we cannot attain the holiness that our just God requires. That’s why Jesus had to die for us. We cannot see the Lord unless we accept the sanctification which He has provided for us, and reject self-sanctification.

I certainly don’t believe that progressive sanctification is self-sanctification any more than a once for all sanctification is self-achieved.  I would consider our acceptance—“we accept the sanctification which He has provided”—the moment by moment acquisition of Christ’s sanctification, as the part that is not once for all and therefore potentially perceptible as progressive.  Though on-again-off-again, led by the Spirit, led by the flesh describes my experience even better: My progress being simply more time spent on-again, led by the Holy Spirit, than off-again, wallowing in the flesh.  So I’ve been brought to an odd place.  And I’m not prepared to determine yet if it feels odd because it is new or because it is erroneous:

I am sanctified by Christ once for all, perfectly and completely.  He (or God) is sanctified by me slowly over time, progressively.

Obviously, Christ’s sanctification makes (or, made) me holy while my sanctification merely recognizes his holiness.  But I admit to coming from a very dark and distant place where God and Christ seemed anything but holy to me.

 

[1] THE PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION HERESY, Denny’s Christian Writings, November 16, 2007

[2] From: “Oath,” Jewish Virtual Library: “The estimate of the biblical period that there was nothing amiss in oaths is manifest in the frequency with which God is represented as swearing. Indeed, the invocation of God in oaths was highly appreciated for its confessional value: ‘You must revere YHWH your God: Him shall you worship, to Him shall you hold fast, by His name shall you swear’ (Deut. 10:20; cf. 6:13). So much was this so that swearing by YHWH could be used as a synonym of adhering to Him: Psalms 63:12; Isaiah 19:18 (cf. Targ. and Radak); 48:1; Jeremiah 44:26; Zephaniah 1:5 (cf. Targ.). Contrariwise, apostasy is expressed through swearing by other gods: Joshua 23:7 (cf. Ex. 23:13); Amos 8:14; Jeremiah 5:7; 12:16. Ibn Ezra’s comment to Hosea 4:15 illuminates the sentiment: ‘Adhering to God carries with it the obligation to make mention of Him in all one’s affairs, and to swear by His name, so that all who listen may perceive that he adheres lovingly to God, the name and mention of Him being always on his lips.’ The only offense recognized in connection with oaths by YHWH was, ‘Though they may swear, “By the life of YHWH,” yet they swear falsely’ (Jer. 5:2). Ecclesiastes is the only biblical writer who is wary of oaths. In 8:2–3a, he cites a proverb, ‘Do not rush into uttering an oath by God’ (cf. a parallel wariness of vows in 5:1–6). From here it is but a step to Ben Sira’s warning against addiction to oaths (23:9ff.), and Philo’s recommendation to avoid them entirely (Decal. 84).”

[3] 1 Peter 3:19, 20 (NET)

[4] Genesis 6:8 (NET) יהוה

[5] Genesis 7:1 (NET)

[6] Romans 12:2 (NET)

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 8

I was standing between the Lord and you at that time, Moses said to Israel, to reveal to you the message of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), because you were afraid (yârêʼ, יראתם) of the fire and would not go up the mountain.[1]  Then he recounted the ten commandments.  Within them was a fearful description of yehôvâh: I punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject me[2]  And in a footnote (11) the translators made it perfectly clear what form of punishment they had in mind: “God sometimes punishes children for the sins of a father (cf. Num 16:27, 32; Josh 7:24-25; 2 Sam 21:1-9).”  In other words yehôvâh executes the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject Him.

That’s what I thought.  And that’s why I love the NET.  Apart from its written record I would look back and think I had been completely insane.  It’s not that I had the NET to read when I was young, but that its translators came of age in the same religious milieu as I did.  So in the spirit of fearing the Lord I want to slow way down to consider how they arrived at I punish as a translation of the Hebrew word pâqad (פקד; Septuagint: ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι).  And this fear is not reverence, but the fear that keeps one from direct intercourse with yehôvâh.  Only Moses risked that, because you were afraid of the fire and would not go up the mountain.

In Exodus 20:5 (NET) pâqad was translated responding.

Form of pâqad Reference KJV NET
פקד Exodus 20:5 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children…
Deuteronomy 5:9 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… I punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons…

I intend to track pâqad, ʽâvôn (עון; translated to the transgression and for the sin) and śânêʼ (לשׁנאי; translated of those who reject me and who reject me) from the beginning to the giving of the law, and then from there to its restatement in Deuteronomy.  I first encountered ʽâvôn from the mouth of Cain after he attacked his brother Abel and killed him.[3]

So now, you are banished from the ground, yehôvâh said to him, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.[4]  Up to that time Cain had cultivated the groundWhen you try to cultivate the ground, yehôvâh continued, it will no longer yield its best for you.  You will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.[5]  Cain lamented (Genesis 4:13b, 14 NET):

My punishment (ʽâvôn, עוני) is too great to endure!  Look!  You are driving me off the land today, and I must hide from your presence.  I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth; whoever finds me will kill me.

Here the translators assumed that Cain lamented his punishment rather than his sin; ʽâvôn can mean both.  When yehôvâh prophesied to Abram the translators assumed the Amorites were not punished in the promised land they inhabited but that the land itself would not be given to Abram’s descendants until the Amorites’ sin reached some predetermined limit (Genesis 15:13b-16 NET):

Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign country.  They will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.  But I will execute judgment on the nation that they will serve.  Afterward they will come out with many possessions.  But as for you, you will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age.  In the fourth generation your descendants will return here, for the sin (ʽâvôn, עון) of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.

But Abram/Abraham had no son yet by his wife Sarah (Genesis 17:15-21).

Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife, you must no longer call her Sarai; Sarah will be her name.  I will bless her and will give you a son through her.  I will bless her and she will become a mother of nations.  Kings of countries will come from her!”

Then Abraham bowed down with his face to the ground and laughed as he said to himself, “Can a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old?  Can Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”  Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live before you!”

God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac.  I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual covenant for his descendants after him.  As for Ishmael, I have heard you.  I will indeed bless him, make him fruitful, and give him a multitude of descendants.  He will become the father of twelve princes; I will make him into a great nation.  But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year.”

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest time of the day.  Abraham looked up and saw three men standing across from him.[6]  One of them said, “I will surely return to you when the season comes round again, and your wife Sarah will have a son!”[7]

So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “After I am worn out will I have pleasure, especially when my husband is old too?”

The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child when I am old?’  Is anything impossible for the Lord?  I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.”  Then Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid (yârêʼ, יראה).  But the Lord said, “No!  You did laugh.”[8]

The next occurrence of ʽâvôn involved the judgment and condemnation of Sodom.  At dawn the angels hurried Lot along, saying, “Get going!  Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be destroyed when the city is judged (ʽâvôn)!”[9]  Competing values had met at Lot’s front door (Genesis 19:4-9a NET):

Before they could lie down to sleep, all the men – both young and old, from every part of the city of Sodom – surrounded the house.  They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”

Lot went outside to them, shutting the door behind him.  He said, “No, my brothers!  Don’t act so wickedly (râʽaʽ, תרעו)!  Look, I have two daughters who have never had sexual relations with a man.  Let me bring them out to you, and you can do to them whatever you please.  Only don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Out of our way!” they cried, and “This man came to live here as a foreigner, and now he dares to judge us!  We’ll do more harm (râʽaʽ, נרע) to you than to them!”

The two angels, yehôvâh’s messengers, didn’t allow the men of Sodom to fulfill their desire, nor did they allow Lot to defile his daughters to fulfill his family’s ideal of hospitality.  They struck the men who were at the door of the house, from the youngest to the oldest, with blindness.[10]   And that brings me to the first occurrence of pâqad.

The Lord visited (pâqad, פקד) Sarah just as he had said he would and did for Sarah what he had promised.[11]  The rabbis who translated the Septuagint chose ἐπεσκέψατο (a form of ἐπισκέπτομαι) here.  I find ἐπεσκέψατο at the beginning of the fulfillment of another promise as well.  The Jerusalem Council listened to Barnabas and Paul while they explained all the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.[12] James replied (Acts 15:13b-18 NET):

“Brothers, listen to me.  Simeon has explained (Acts 15:7-11) how God first concerned himself (ἐπεσκέψατο, a form of ἐπισκέπτομαι) to select from among the Gentiles a people for his name.  The words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the fallen tent of David; I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord, namely, all the Gentiles I have called to be my own, says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.”

James didn’t quote the Septuagint.

Acts 15:16, 17 (NET) Acts 15:16, 17 Parallel Greek Amos 9:11, 12 Septuagint Amos 9:11, 12 NETS
‘After this… μετὰ ταῦτα… ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ… On that day…
…I will return… …ἀναστρέψω…
…and I will rebuild the fallen tent of David… καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυὶδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν ἀναστήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυιδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν… …I will raise up the tent of David that is fallen…
…καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὰ πεπτωκότα αὐτῆς… …and rebuild its ruins…
…I will rebuild its ruins… …καὶ τὰ |κατεσκαμμένα| αὐτῆς ἀνοικοδομήσω… …καὶ τὰ κατεσκαμμένα αὐτῆς ἀναστήσω… …and raise up its destruction…
…and restore it… …καὶ ἀνορθώσω αὐτήν… …καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω αὐτὴν καθὼς αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ αἰῶνος… …and rebuild it as the days of old…
…so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord, namely, all the Gentiles I have called to be my own,’ says the Lord, who makes these things… …ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὸν κύριον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐφ᾿ οὓς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομα μου ἐπ᾿ αὐτούς, λέγει κύριος ποιῶν ταῦτα… …ὅπως ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐφ᾽ οὓς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐπ᾽ αὐτούς λέγει κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιῶν ταῦτα… …in order that those remaining of humans and all the nations upon whom my name has been called might seek out me, says the Lord who does these things.

But the Septuagint version of Amos 9:12 is much closer to James’ quotation than the Hebrew from which our Bibles have been translated.

Amos 9:12 (NET) Amos 9:12 (KJV)

Amos 9:12 (Tanakh)

“As a result they will conquer those left in Edom and all the nations subject to my rule.”  The Lord, who is about to do this, is speaking! That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

The first occurrence of śânêʼ is found in the words with which Rebekah’s family blessed her when she left them to marry Abraham’s and Sarah’s son Isaac: Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands!  May your descendants possess the strongholds of their enemies (śânêʼ).[13]  But enemies as a translation of śânêʼ did not mean open warfare exclusively.  It could include the fear of a potential enemy.  Abimelech said to Isaac, “Leave us and go elsewhere, for you have become much more powerful than we are.”[14]  When Abimelech saw how yehôvâh had blessed Isaac and sought a treaty with him, Isaac asked, Why have you come to me?  You hate (śânêʼ, שׁנאתם) me and sent me away from you. [15]

The Hebrew word śânêʼ was also used to describe personal preference.  Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, Esau and Jacob.  Jacob married two women, Leah and Rachel.  Rachel was beautiful.  Leah was not.  When evening came Jacob preferred to bed Rachel over Leah.  When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved (śânêʼ, שׁנואה), he enabled her to become pregnant while Rachel remained childless.[16]  She became pregnant again and had another son.  She said, “Because the Lord heard that I was unloved (śânêʼ, שׁנואה), he gave me this one too.”[17]

From the perspective of the word usage of śânêʼ it matters very little whether Leah was a superstitious woman who mistook happenstance for interaction with yehôvâh.  As a matter of faith in yehôvâh it is important to remember that Moses was not afraid of the fire, went up the mountain and spoke directly with Him.  He said of Moses (Numbers 12:6-8a NET):

Hear now my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) will make myself known to him in a vision; I will speak with him in a dream.  My servant Moses is not like this; he is faithful in all my house.  With him I will speak face to face, openly, and not in riddles; and he will see the form of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).

It was Moses who wrote that yehôvâh saw (râʼâh, וירא) that Leah was unloved and enabled her to become pregnant.  If I believe, the details pulse with life.  Leah concurred with yehôvâh at first: The Lord has looked (râʼâh, ראה) with pity on my oppressed condition,[18] she said when she was not having regular sex with Jacob.  But after she was and had given birth to two sons, Reuben and Simeon, the idea that yehôvâh saw her became less comforting: the Lord heard (shâmaʽ, ושמע) that I was unloved, she amended her statement of faith.

So then faith comes by hearing,[19] Paul wrote the Romans.  The best way to avoid faith in yehôvâh is to avoid the Bible.  Don’t read it for yourself or listen to preaching or teaching from it.  The second best way to avoid faith in yehôvâh is to read the Bible, study it even, listen to plenty of sermons from it, but keep your mind focused on rules for you to obey.  I know.  I did it for years.

With my mind focused on my own compliance, or lack of compliance, to rules derived from the law I missed the grace of God, his gift of righteousness, the fruit of his Spirit.  Although they see they do not see, and although they hear they do not hear nor do they understand,[20] Jesus promised those who trusted their religion, rites and rituals rather than yehôvâhWoe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, He critiqued their labors, hypocrites!  You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves![21]

Elsewhere I called my attempt “to keep yehôvâh’s law in my own strength…an occupational hazard of reading the Old Testament with a willing heart…If yehôvâh said do this or don’t do that, I said okay, and woke up somewhere in the story of David to the fact that I was striving again to keep the law in my own strength, without malice or forethought.”  Jesus read the Old Testament and concluded, You must all be born from above[22] because what is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[23]  Keeping that in view and remaining open to understanding how He got that out of the Old Testament helps to minimize the “occupational hazard” of studying it.  Another more manual technique has been to deny my suspicions of yehôvâh, to take Him at his word, and to become more suspicious of the motives (1 Timothy 1:5-7) and agendas (Galatians 4:17-31) of those who would dissuade me from trusting his salvation.

Eventually, Rachel had a son, Joseph.  When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated (śânêʼ, וישׁנאו) Joseph and were not able to speak to him kindlyJoseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated (śânêʼ, שׁנא) him even more.[24]  He said to them (Genesis 37:6-8 NET):

“Listen to this dream I had: There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the middle of the field.  Suddenly my sheaf rose up and stood upright and your sheaves surrounded my sheaf and bowed down to it!”  Then his brothers asked him, “Do you really think you will rule over us or have dominion over us?”  They hated (śânêʼ, שׁנא) him even more because of his dream and because of what he said.

Joseph had another dream, and told it to his brothers (Genesis 37:9, 10 NET).

“Look,” he said.  “I had another dream.  The sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”  When he told his father and his brothers, his father rebuked him, saying, “What is this dream that you had?  Will I, your mother, and your brothers really come and bow down to you?”

Joeseph’s brothers’ śânêʼ was no mere emotion.  They plotted to kill him.  But Reuben, the eldest, talked them down from killing Joseph.  Then Judah said to his brothers (Genesis 37:26-28 NET):

“What profit is there if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?  Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not lay a hand on him, for after all, he is our brother, our own flesh.”  His brothers agreed.  So when the Midianite merchants passed by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.  The Ishmaelites then took Joseph to Egypt.

An Egyptian named Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard, purchased [Joseph] from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there (Genesis 39:1b-6a NET).

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was with Joseph.  He was successful and lived in the household of his Egyptian master.  His master observed that the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was with him and that the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) made everything he was doing successful.  So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal attendant.  Potiphar appointed (pâqad, ויפקדהו) Joseph overseer of his household and put him in charge of everything he owned.  From the time Potiphar appointed (pâqad, הפקיד) him over his household and over all that he owned, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) blessed the Egyptian’s household for Joseph’s sake.  The blessing of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was on everything that he had, both in his house and in his fields.  So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; he gave no thought to anything except the food he ate.

In the Septuagint these two occurrences of pâqad were translated κατέστησεν and κατασταθῆναι (forms of καθίστημι).  Who then is the faithful and wise slave, Jesus asked, whom the master has put in charge (κατέστησεν, a form of καθίστημι) of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes.  I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge (καταστήσει, another form of καθίστημι) of all his possessions.[25]

I’ll pick this up in another essay.  The tables I’ve used here follow.

Form of pâqad Reference KJV NET
פקד Genesis 21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had… The Lord visited Sarah just as he had said…
Genesis 50:24 …and God will surely visit you… …But God will surely come to you…
Genesis 50:25 …God will surely visit you… ..God will surely come to you…
Exodus 3:16 …I have surely visited you… …I have attended carefully to you…
Exodus 4:31 …they heard that the LORD had visited …heard that the Lord had attended to…
Exodus 13:19 …God will surely visit you… …God will surely attend to you…
Exodus 20:5 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children…
ויפקדהו Genesis 39:4 …and he made him overseer over his… Potiphar appointed Joseph overseer of…
הפקיד Genesis 39:5 …he had made him overseer in his house… Potiphar appointed him over his…
ויפקד Genesis 40:4 charged Joseph with them… appointed Joseph to be their attendant…
Genesis 41:34 …and let him appoint officers over the… he should appoint officials throughout…
יפקד Genesis 50:24 …and God will surely visit you …But God will surely come to you
Genesis 50:25 …God will surely visit you ..God will surely come to you
Exodus 13:19 …God will surely visit you… …God will surely attend to you…
פקדתי Exodus 3:16 I have surely visited you… I have attended carefully to you…

 

Form of ʽâvôn Reference KJV NET
עוני Genesis 4:13 My punishment is greater than I can bear. My punishment is too great to endure!
עון Genesis 15:16 …for the iniquity of the Amorites is not… …for the sin of the Amorites has not yet…
Genesis 44:16 …found out the iniquity of thy servants… …God has exposed the sin of your servants!
Exodus 20:5 …visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… …responding to the transgression of fathers…
בעון Genesis 19:15 …be consumed in the iniquity of the city. …will be destroyed when the city is judged!

 

Form of śânêʼ Reference KJV NET
שׁנאיו Genesis 24:60 …possess the gate of those which hate …possess the strongholds of their enemies.
שׁנאתם Genesis 26:27 …ye hate me, and have sent me away… You hate me and sent me away from you.
שׁנואה Genesis 29:31 …the LORD saw that Leah was hated …the Lord saw that Leah was unloved
Genesis 29:33 …the LORD hath heard that I was hated …the Lord heard that I was unloved
וישׁנאו Genesis 37:4 they hated him, and could not speak… they hated Joseph and were not able to…
שׁנא Genesis 37:5 …and they hated him yet the more. they hated him even more.
Genesis 37:8 And they hated him yet the more for his… They hated him even more because of his…
שׁנאינו Exodus 1:10 …they join also unto our enemies …will ally themselves with our enemies
שׁנאי Exodus 18:21 …men of truth, hating covetousness… …men of truth, those who hate bribes…
לשׁנאי Exodus 20:5 …generation of them that hate me …generations of those who reject me

 

[1] Deuteronomy 5:5 (NET)

[2] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[3] Genesis 4:8b (NET)

[4] Genesis 4:11 (NET)

[5] Genesis 4:12 (NET)

[6] Genesis 18:1, 2a (NET)

[7] Genesis 18:10a (NET)

[8] Genesis 18:12-15 (NET)

[9] Genesis 19:15 (NET) בעון

[10] Genesis 19:11a (NET)

[11] Genesis 21:1 (NET)

[12] Acts 15:12 (NET)

[13] Genesis 24:60 (NET) שׁנאיו

[14] Genesis 26:16 (NET)

[15] Genesis 26:27 (NET)

[16] Genesis 29:31 (NET)

[17] Genesis 29:33a (NET)

[18] Genesis 29:32a (NET)

[19] Romans 10:17a (NKJV)

[20] Matthew 13:13b (NET)

[21] Matthew 23:15 (NET)

[22] John 3:7b (NET)

[23] John 3:6 (NET)

[24] Genesis 37:4, 5 (NET)

[25] Matthew 24:45-47 (NET)

Romans, Part 87

So I boast in Christ Jesus about the things that pertain to God.[1]  Initially I took this to mean that Paul’s boast was about what Christ has accomplished through me in order to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit of God.[2]  So, I compared myself to Paul.  I pray to the same Father through faith in the same Christ and have received the same Holy Spirit.  What has He accomplished through me?  I didn’t jump out of bed, beat on the wall and curse my neighbor for playing his music too loudly.[3]

Most believers I know prefer Peter to Paul.  It’s a personality thing.  I realize Paul wouldn’t have wasted his time on me.  To him I would have seemed like the man who had his father’s wife.  Maybe that has something to do with why I assume the one who caused sadness was the same man.  Of him Paul wrote (2 Corinthians 2:6-8 NET):

This punishment on such an individual by the majority is enough for him, so that now instead you should rather forgive and comfort him.  This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair.  Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

I love Paul.  His words taught me to hear Jesus, who told this parable (Luke 13:6-9 NET):

“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.  So he said to the worker who tended the vineyard, ‘For three years now, I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and each time I inspect it I find none.  Cut it down!  Why should it continue to deplete the soil?’  But the worker answered him, ‘Sir, leave it alone this year too, until I dig around it and put fertilizer on it.  Then if it bears fruit next year, very well, but if not, you can cut it down.’”

I don’t know that God the Father is eager to cut me down.  I know that even if He is frustrated with me Jesus has come back year after year with a request something like the parable above.  Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us.[4]  So after I slept off the despair of comparing myself to Paul, I began to look at the Greek words he wrote.

I began to see that Paul’s boast (καύχησιν, a form of καύχησις) wasn’t so much aboutthings but about Gentiles who had become an acceptable offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.[5]  This is as sure as my boasting (καύχησιν, a form of καύχησις) in you,[6] Paul wrote to infants in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).  The King James translators were a bit less clear here (though the NKJV came around).  So I’ll consider a few more examples.  Paul encouraged the Corinthians to show [Titus and another brother] openly before the churches the proof of your love and of our pride (καυχήσεως, another form of καύχησις) in (ὑπὲρ, a form of ὑπέρ) you.[7]  I have great confidence in (πρὸς, a form of πρός) you; I take great pride (καύχησις) on your behalf (ὑπὲρ, a form of ὑπέρ),[8] he wrote them.  For if I have boasted (κεκαύχημαι, a form of καυχάομαι) to [Titus] about anything concerning you, Paul continued (2 Corinthians 7:14-16 NET):

I have not been embarrassed by you, but just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting (καύχησις) to Titus about you has proved true as well.  And his affection for you is much greater when he remembers the obedience (ὑπακοήν, a form of ὑπακοή) of you all, how you welcomed him with fear and trembling.  I rejoice because in everything I am fully confident (θαρρῶ, a form of θαῤῥέω; translated am full of courage in 2 Corinthians 10:1 NET) in you.

Paul’s great confidence (παρρησία, a form of παῤῥησία) in the Corinthians was not really in them but to or toward them.  His pride wasn’t in them but on their behalfSome had been unrighteoussexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers[9]  But they were washed, [they] were sanctified, [they] were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.[10]  Paul’s pride or boasting was in God on their behalf.  It was his exhortation and his prayer believing that he had received his request.  But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement (παράκλησιν, a form of παράκλησις), and consolation.[11]

In Romans 15:17 the Greek word translated about the things that pertain to (KJV, things which pertain to) was πρὸς (a form of πρός).  It was translated simply to in Romans 15:22, 23 (KJV, unto), 29 (KJV, unto), 30 and 32 (KJV, unto).  There is another word right before πρὸς.  It is τὰ (a form of τό; KJV: translated, in those).  It wasn’t translated at all in Romans 15:1, 9, 11, 22, or 27, but these (they or them) is a reasonable translation in this context.  So if I look at the Greek word for word— ἔχω οὖν καύχησιν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν[12]—I get something like “I have boasting in Christ Jesus these to [or perhaps, pertain to] the God.”[13]

Now, boasting about what Christ Jesus had accomplished through him to God doesn’t make a lot of sense.  For if Abraham was declared righteous by the works of the law, Paul also wrote, he has something to boast (καύχημα) about – but not before God (ἀλλ᾿ οὐ πρὸς θεόν).  For what does the scripture say?  “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[14]  But boasting to the Romans about God (“I have boasting in Christ Jesus”) makes a lot more sense.  We are your source of pride (καύχημα), Paul wrote the Corinthians, just as you also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.[15]  For who is our hope or joy or crown to boast of (καυχήσεως, another form of καύχησις) before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Paul wrote believers in Thessalonica.  Is it not of course you?  For you are our glory (δόξα) and joy![16]

I can join him wholeheartedly here: Look at what Christ Jesus’ utmost patience has accomplished through the worst (1 Timothy 1:12-17) of sinners (Romans 15:18-21 NET):

For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in order to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit of God.  So from Jerusalem even as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.  And in this way I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, but as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”

And so I am another Gentile brought to obedience (ὑπακοὴν, a form of ὑπακοή) by Paul’s word, having never witnessed his deeds or the power of signs and wonders, only the power of the Spirit of God.  And so that’s what I’m going to go with, not because I think I know Greek better than the translators of the NET or the KJV.  I most certainly do not.  But I know that focusing on me, comparing myself to Paul, won’t get me anywhere like staying focused on God will.  So I will leave it to the translators of the NET (since the translators of the KJV are long dead) to prove that πρὸς should be translated about the things that pertain to and that Paul intended to draw my focus from God to the things that pertain to God.

I had hoped that Grant Clay would help me here in his paper “Mission as Drama: A New Proposal for Pauline Theology.”  But he glossed over Romans 15:17 (granted, it wasn’t the point of his paper), quoting from the ESV: “In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.”[17]  So here I am confronted with English words added[18] to the Greek text that pit Paul directly against Jesus’ teaching (Luke 17:10 NET):

“So you too, when you have done everything you were commanded to do, should say, ‘We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty (ὠφείλομεν, a form of ὀφείλω).’”

This attitude won’t win any accolades from the psychology department, but it accurately reflects a created cosmos where God’s divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence;[19] where God is the one bringing forth in [us] both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure;[20] where [our] God will supply [our] every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus;[21] where the kingdom and the power and the glory (δοξα) are his forever.[22]  I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה)!  That is my name!  I will not share my glory with anyone else, or the praise due me with idols.[23]  “Let the one who boasts (καυχώμενος, another form of καυχάομαι), boast (καυχάσθω, another form of καυχάομαι) in the Lord,”[24] Paul quoted.  And, the one who boasts (καυχώμενος, another form of καυχάομαι) must boast (καυχάσθω, another form of καυχάομαι) in the Lord.[25]

I want to look at two more words here.  The Greek word translated I have fully preached above (also in KJV) was not a form of πληρόω plus a form of κήρυγμα (1 Corinthians 1:21) or a form of κηρύσσω (Romans 10:8).  It was simply πεπληρωκέναι (a form of πληρόω).  Paul wrote “I have fulfilled (or, filled up) the gospel of Christ.”  I admit the first thing that occurred to me was Paul’s warning that he could get a little carried away when he started boasting (2 Corinthians 11:16-18 NET).

I say again, let no one think that I am a fool.  But if you do, then at least accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast (καυχήσωμαι, a form of καυχάομαι) a little.  What I am saying with this boastful (καυχήσεως, another form of καύχησις) confidence I do not say the way the Lord would.  Instead it is, as it were, foolishness.  Since many are boasting (καυχῶνται, another form of καυχάομαι) according to human standards, I too will boast (καυχήσομαι, another form of καυχάομαι).

As I began to study πληρόω I found seven more instances where both the translators of the KJV and NET veered from fulfill or make full.  First, referencing the passage of time, there are two instances where forms of πληρόω were translated he was full (ἐπληροῦτο, KJV) and he was about (Acts 7:23 NET), and were fulfilled (ἐπληροῦντο, KJV) and had passed (Acts 9:23 NET).  But there are two other instances where πληρωθείσης (another form of πληρόω) was translated after (KJV) and had passed (Acts 24:27 NET), and πληρωθέντων (another form of πληρόω) was translated were expired (KJV) and had passed (Acts 7:30 NET).  The NET translators apparently took the idea that forms of πληρόω were used for the passage of time to imply completion or completeness.  A table follows were the NET translators chose complete for fulfill or make full.

Form of πληρόω

Reference KJV

NET

ἐπλήρωσαν Acts 14:26 …the work which they fulfilled …the work they had now completed
ἐπλήρου Acts 13:25 And as John fulfilled his course… …while John was completing his mission…
πεπληρωμένη John 16:24 …that your joy may be full. …so that your joy may be complete
1 John 1:4 …that your[26] joy may be full. …so that our joy may be complete
2 John 1:12 …that our joy may be full. …so that our joy may be complete
πεπληρωμένην John 17:13 …that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. …so they may experience my joy completed in themselves…
πεπλήρωται John 3:29 …this my joy therefore is fulfilled. This then is my joy, and it is complete.
πληρῶσαι Colossians 1:25 to fulfil the word of God… in order to complete the word of God.
πληρώσαντες Acts 12:25 when they had fulfilled their ministry… when they had completed their mission…
πληρώσατε Philippians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded… complete my joy and be of the same…
πληρωθῇ John 15:11 …and that your joy might be full. …and your joy may be complete
2 Corinthians 10:6 …when your obedience is fulfilled. …whenever your obedience is complete.
πληροῖς Colossians 4:17 …that thou fulfil it. See to it that you complete the ministry…

I found one instance where even the KJV translators chose complete, while the NET translators reverted to filled.

Form of πληρόω Reference KJV NET
πεπληρωμένοι Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete in him… …and you have been filled in him…

There were three instances where the NET translators seemed to choose derivatives of completion or completeness.

Form of πληρόω Reference KJV NET
πεπλήρωμαι Philippians 4:18 I am full, having received… I have all I need because I received…
πεπλήρωται Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word… …the whole law can be summed up in a…
πληρωθῶσιν Revelation 6:11 …as they were, should be fulfilled. …until the full number was reached of…

And that brings me to the final five instances were both KJV and NET translators veered from fulfill or make full.  Four of them relate to completion or completeness.

Form of πληρόω Reference KJV NET
ἐπλήρωσεν Luke 7:1 Now when he had ended all his sayings… After Jesus had finished teaching…
ἐπληρώθη Acts 19:21 After these things were ended …after all these things had taken place
πεπληρωμένα Revelation 3:2 …I have not found thy works perfect …I have not found your deeds complete
πληροῦν Luke 9:31 …he should accomplish at Jerusalem. …he was about to carry out at Jerusalem.

So as a further derivative of completion or completeness I have fully preached as a translation of πεπληρωκέναι makes some sense, if one also assumes that now there is nothing more to keep me in these regions[27] was Paul’s point in using it.  Grant Clay in his paper “Mission as Drama: A New Proposal for Pauline Theology,” following the ESV which translated πεπληρωκέναι I have fulfilled the ministry, wrote:[28]

A possible background text for “sanctified Gentiles” and the Pauline mission in general is Is. 66:19-21…This is the one text in the Old Testament that seems to suggest that a “missionary movement” from Jerusalem to the nations which directly involves the Gentiles themselves and anticipates Paul’s unique commission to the Gentiles (cf. Acts 9; 26; Rom. 1:5). Therefore Rainer Riesner is surely on target by suggesting that “Paul read this text as being fulfilled in his own activity.”34

It’s an interesting suggestion.  But why go so far afield?  I would tend to stick to Paul’s own quotation of Isaiah 52:15.

Romans 15:21 (NET) Parallel Greek Isaiah 52:15b Septuagint
Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand. οἷς οὐκ ἀνηγγέλη περὶ αὐτοῦ |ὄψονται|, καὶ οἳ οὐκ ἀκηκόασιν συνήσουσιν οἷς οὐκ ἀνηγγέλη περὶ αὐτοῦ ὄψονται καὶ οἳ οὐκ ἀκηκόασιν συνήσουσιν

Still, it’s not as clear as something like “Paul preached from Jerusalem even as far as Illyricumwhere Christ has not been named so that the word of the prophet was fulfilled which said, Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”  And that brings me to the final word I will consider in this essay.

The Greek word translated to preach (KJV, to preach the gospel) was not a form of κήρυγμα or a form of κηρύσσω.  It was εὐαγγελίζεσθαι (a form of εὐαγγελίζω).  It was translated to preach the gospel in 1 Corinthians 1:17.  It means to announce good news, to bring good news, to announce glad tidings.  Paul’s desire was to announce good news where Christ had not been named.  I don’t want that to get lost in translation because Paul was fairly explicit about the kind of preaching the Corinthians had fallen for instead (2 Corinthians 11:4, 20 NET):

For if someone comes and proclaims (κηρύσσει, a form of κηρύσσω) another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed (ἐκηρύξαμεν, another form of κηρύσσω), or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel (εὐαγγέλιον) than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough!

For you put up with it if someone makes slaves of you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone behaves arrogantly toward you, if someone strikes you in the face.

As a matter of completion or completeness the final instance where both the translators of the KJV and the NET veered from fulfill or make full was, And my God will supply[29] (KJV, shall supply) your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.[30]

Form of πληρόω Reference KJV NET
πληρώσει Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need… And my God will supply your every need…

The entire table of translations of πληρόω in the New Testament I used to write this essay follows.

Form of πληρόω Reference KJV NET
ἐπλήρωσαν Acts 13:27 they have fulfilled them… …and they fulfilled
Acts 14:26 …the work which they fulfilled …the work they had now completed
ἐπλήρωσεν Luke 7:1 Now when he had ended all his sayings… After Jesus had finished teaching…
Acts 2:2 …and it filled all the house… …and filled the entire house…
Acts 3:18 he hath so fulfilled. he has fulfilled in this way…
Acts 5:3 …why hath Satan filled thine heart to… …why has Satan filled your heart to lie…
ἐπληρώθη Matthew 2:17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken… …by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled
Matthew 13:48 …when it was full, they drew to shore… When it was full, they pulled it ashore…
Matthew 27:9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken… …by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled
Mark 15:28 And the scripture was fulfilled [omitted]
John 12:3 …the house was filled with the odour… …the house was filled with the fragrance…
Acts 19:21 After these things were ended …after all these things had taken place
James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which… And the scripture was fulfilled that says…
ἐπλήρου Acts 13:25 And as John fulfilled his course… …while John was completing his mission…
ἐπληροῦντο Acts 9:23 And after that many days were fulfilled Now after some days had passed
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy… And the disciples were filled with joy…
ἐπληροῦτο Acts 7:23 And when he was full forty years old… But when he was about forty years old…
πεπληρώκατε Acts 5:28 ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine… you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching…
πεπληρωμένη John 16:6 …sorrow hath filled your heart. …your hearts are filled with sadness…
Romans 13:8 …loveth another hath fulfilled the law. …loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
πεπληρωκέναι Romans 15:19 I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
πεπλήρωμαι 2 Corinthians 7:4 I am filled with comfort… I am filled with encouragement…
Philippians 4:18 I am full, having received… I have all I need because I received…
πεπληρωμένα Revelation 3:2 …I have not found thy works perfect …I have not found your deeds complete
πεπληρωμένη John 16:24 …that your joy may be full. …so that your joy may be complete
1 John 1:4 …that your[26] joy may be full. …so that our joy may be complete
2 John 1:12 …that our joy may be full. …so that our joy may be complete
πεπληρωμένην John 17:13 …that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. …so they may experience my joy completed in themselves…
πεπληρωμένοι Romans 15:14 filled with all knowledge… filled with all knowledge…
Philippians 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness… filled with the fruit of righteousness…
Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete in him… …and you have been filled in him…
πεπληρωμένους Romans 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness… They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness…
πεπλήρωται Mark 1:15 The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand… The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near.
Luke 4:21 is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. …this scripture has been fulfilled even as…
John 3:29 …this my joy therefore is fulfilled. This then is my joy, and it is complete.
John 7:8 …my time is not yet full come. …my time has not yet fully arrived
Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word… …the whole law can be summed up in a…
πληρῶσαι Matthew 3:15 …becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. …is right for us to fulfill all righteousness…
Matthew 5:17 I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. …to abolish these things but to fulfill
Romans 15:13 …the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace… …the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…
Colossians 1:25 to fulfil the word of God… in order to complete the word of God.
πληρώσαντες Acts 12:25 when they had fulfilled their ministry… when they had completed their mission…
πληρώσατε Matthew 23:32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Fill up then the measure of your ancestors.
Philippians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded… complete my joy and be of the same…
πληρώσῃ Ephesians 4:10 …that he might fill all things. …in order to fill all things.
2 Thessalonians 1:11 …and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness… …and fulfill by his power your every desire for goodness and every work of faith.
πληρώσει Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need… And my God will supply your every need…
πληρώσεις Acts 2:28 thou shalt make me full of joy with… you will make me full of joy with your…
πληρωθῇ Matthew 1:22 …that it might be fulfilled which was… …through the prophet would be fulfilled.
Matthew 2:15 …that it might be fulfilled which was… …through the prophet was fulfilled
Matthew 2:23 …that it might be fulfilled which was… …spoken by the prophets was fulfilled
Matthew 4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was… …Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled
Matthew 8:17 That it might be fulfilled which was… …by Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled
Matthew 12:17 That it might be fulfilled which was… This fulfilled what was spoken by Isaiah…
Matthew 13:35 That it might be fulfilled which was… This fulfilled what was spoken by the…
Matthew 21:4 …was done, that it might be fulfilled This took place to fulfill what was…
Matthew 27:35 …that it might be fulfilled which was… [omitted]
Luke 22:16 …until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of… …until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of…
John 12:38 …Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled …Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled.
John 13:18 …that the scripture may be fulfilled But this is to fulfill the scripture…
John 15:11 …and that your joy might be full. …and your joy may be complete
John 15:25 …that the word might be fulfilled that… …to fulfill the word that is written in…
John 17:12 …that the scripture might be fulfilled. …so that the scripture could be fulfilled.
John 18:9 That the saying might be fulfilled He said this to fulfill the word he had…
John 18:32 …the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled to fulfill the word Jesus had spoken…
John 19:24 …that the scripture might be fulfilled to fulfill the scripture that says…
John 19:36 …that the scripture should be fulfilled …so that the scripture would be fulfilled
Romans 8:4 …righteousness of the law might be fulfilled …the law may be fulfilled in us…
2 Corinthians 10:6 …when your obedience is fulfilled. …whenever your obedience is complete.
πληρωθῆναι Luke 24:44 …that all things must be fulfilled …and the psalms must be fulfilled
Acts 1:16 …this scripture must needs have been fulfilled …the scripture had to be fulfilled
πληρωθήσεται Luke 3:5 Every valley shall be filled Every valley will be filled
πληρωθήσονται Luke 1:20 …my words, which shall be fulfilled in… …my words, which will be fulfilled in…
πληρωθῆτε Ephesians 3:19 ye might be filled with all the fulness… you may be filled up to all the fullness…
Colossians 1:9 …desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge… …asking God to fill you with the knowledge…
πληρωθείσης Acts 24:27 But after two years… After two years had passed
πληρωθέντων Acts 7:30 And when forty years were expired After forty years had passed
πληρωθῶ 2 Timothy 1:4 …that I may be filled with joy… …so that I may be filled with joy…
πληρωθῶσιν Matthew 26:54 ..then shall the scriptures be fulfilled …say it must happen this way be fulfilled?
Matthew 26:56 …of the prophets might be fulfilled. …of the prophets would be fulfilled.
Mark 14:49 …but the scriptures must be fulfilled. …so that the scriptures would be fulfilled.
Luke 21:24 …the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. …the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Revelation 6:11 …as they were, should be fulfilled. …until the full number was reached of…
πληροῖς Colossians 4:17 …that thou fulfil it. See to it that you complete the ministry…
πληρούμενον Luke 2:40 filled with wisdom… filled with wisdom…
πληρουμένου Ephesians 1:23 …the fulness of him that filleth all in all. …the fullness of him who fills all in all.
πληροῦν Luke 9:31 …he should accomplish at Jerusalem. …he was about to carry out at Jerusalem.
πληροῦσθε Ephesians 5:18 …but be filled with the Spirit… …but be filled by the Spirit…

Romans, Part 88

[1] Romans 15:17 (NET)

[2] Romans 15:18, 19a (NET)

[3] Who Am I? Part 6

[4] Romans 8:34b (NET)

[5] Romans 15:16b (NET)

[6] 1 Corinthians 15:31b (NET)

[7] 2 Corinthians 8:24 (NET)

[8] 2 Corinthians 7:4a (NET)

[9] 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 (NET)

[10] 1 Corinthians 6:11b (NET)

[11] 1 Corinthians 14:3 (NET)

[12] See also Textus Receptus and the Byzantine/Majority Text

[13] According to an excerpt from Vincent’s Word Studies on biblehub.com τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν is a “technical phrase in Jewish liturgical language to denote the functions of worship (Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 5:1).”  In Hebrews 2:17 (NET) τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν was translated in things relating to God.  And in Hebrews 5:1 (NET) τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν was translated before God.

[14] Romans 4:2, 3 (NET)

[15] 2 Corinthians 1:14b (NET)

[16] 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20 (NET)

[17] Grant Clay, Mission as Drama: A New Proposal for Pauline Theology, p.16

[18] Nathan Shank in a footnote (13) in his paper, “No Place Left: Strategic Priorities for Mission,” wrote: “The ‘work’ to which Paul refers is implied in the Greek: ἔχω οὖν [τὴν] καύχησιν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν (Rom 15:17). Again, ‘work’ is implied in the Greek: νυνὶ δὲ μηκέτι τόπον ἔχων ἐν τοῖς κλίμασι τούτοις (Rom. 15:23a).”  In Acts 14:26 (NET) work (ἔργον) was explicit εἰς τὸ ἔργον ὃ ἐπλήρωσαν, translated for the work they had now completed.  Even if ἔργον is implied, I’m convinced the “work” is God’s rather than Paul’s.  From [Attalia] they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed (KJV, they fulfilled).  When they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported all the things God had done with them, and that he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles (Acts 14:26, 27 NET).

[19] 2 Peter 1:3 (NET)

[20] Philippians 2:13 (NET)

[21] Philippians 4:19 (NET)

[22] Matthew 6:13b (NKVJ)  This was omitted from the NET.  See: Note 19

[23] Isaiah 42:8 (NET)

[24] 1 Corinthians 1:31 (NET)

[25] 2 Corinthians 10:17 (NET)

[26] The parallel Greek of the NET has ἡμῶν here; Stephanus 1550 Textus Receptus has ημων; Byzantine/Majority Text has ημων; KJV has been translated from ὑμῶν according to Strong’s Concordance.

[27] Romans 15:23a (NET)

[28] Grant Clay, Mission as Drama: A New Proposal for Pauline Theology, pp.14-15

[29] See also: Romans, Part 70 and Jedidiah, Part 6

[30] Philippians 4:19 (NET)

Who Am I? Part 6

I wrote:

It’s axiomatic to me that Jesus didn’t utilize his own godliness, but trusted the Holy Spirit that descended like a dove from heaven, andremained on him.[11]  Otherwise, Jesus’ invitation and command, Follow me,[12] is little more than a cruel joke.

And:

As I’ve written before it is axiomatic to me that the way Jesus loved us was through that same love He received from the Holy Spirit that descended like a dove from heaven, andremained on him.[43]  He prayed as much to his Father if one has ears to hear: I made known your name to them, and I will continue to make it known, so that the love (ἀγάπηyou have loved (ἠγάπησας, a form of ἀγαπάωme with may be in them, and I may be in them.[44]

And:

As I’ve written before,[20] it is axiomatic to me that Jesus’ holiness was from the Holy Spirit rather than his own divine nature.  Otherwise, his command and invitation, Follow me, would be meaningless to sinful human beings.

In the movie Casper there is a comic bit when Casper (voiced by Malachi Pearson), a friendly ghost, gets excited to show Kat (Christina Ricci), a living girl, a secret laboratory.  He takes her by the hand and leads her into a place she can’t follow—through a wall.  In the beginning that’s almost all I meant by my “axiom.”  Jesus wasn’t commanding us to follow Him somewhere we couldn’t go.  In fact, before He began to make appearances through walls behind locked doors He said plainly, Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow later.[1]

Over time though my “axiom” has come to mean so much more: When I am anything less than Christlike I no longer think: “Oh, He is God and I am not.”  Instead, I know that I am living according to the flesh (Romans 8:5-11), that I’ve fallen away from grace.  One would think I would know better by now but apparently I do not.  It alerts me that it is time to stop relying on myself and get back to trusting Jesus, relying on his Spirit.  But that weight deserves something weightier than an axiom.  Jesus said (John 14:10 NET):

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?  The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον).

Translating ἔργα miraculous deeds isn’t wrong.  Now when John heard in prison about the ἔργα Christ had done[2] Jesus described those deeds this way: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them.[3]  This is a list of miraculous deeds including the act of proclaiming good news (εὐαγγελίζονται, a form of εὐαγγελίζω) and the good news (εὐαγγέλιον) which was proclaimed.  None of it happens apart from the Holy Spirit.  For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) than these, so that you will be amazed.  For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes.[4]  Now as Jesus was passing by, he saw a man who had been blind from birth (John 9:1-7 NET).

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that the acts (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) of God may be revealed through what happens to him.  We must perform (ἐργάζεσθαι, a form of ἐργάζομαι) the deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) of the one who sent me as long as it is daytime.  Night is coming when no one can work (ἐργάζεσθαι, a form of ἐργάζομαι).  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  Having said this, he spat on the ground and made some mud with the saliva. He smeared the mud on the blind man’s eyes and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated “sent”).  So the blind man went away and washed, and came back seeing.

But the adjective miraculous shouldn’t blind us to the less showy ἔργα the Holy Spirit residing (μένων, a form of μένω) in believers performs (ποιεῖ, a form of ποιέω) all the time:

It was after eleven Sunday night.  I had to get up early to catch a flight Monday morning.  My neighbor was listening to some speed metal.  The bass vibrated my bed.  I had every right to be angry, didn’t I?  I, as a composer, had given up music because it kept me too connected to the sensuality of the world.  (Never mind that I wasn’t that good at performing or composing music.)  As I lay there beginning to simmer a self-righteous snit, that still small voice reminded me that Monday was Memorial Day, a holiday for my neighbor.  All I really needed to do that day was get up, get to the airport and fly to my destination.  After that I’d be off, too.  All the while the Holy Spirit’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control washed away my self-righteous anger like a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.  And to top it off, the very moment He won that skirmish with the dead and dying flesh in my body the song ended, my neighbor turned off his stereo and went to bed, just so I didn’t miss the point (Matthew 5:15, 16; John 3:20, 21 NET).

People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good (καλὰ, a form of καλός) deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) and give honor to your Father in heaven.

For everyone who does evil deeds (φαῦλα, a form of φαῦλος) hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) will not be exposed.  But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) have been done in God.

When I live according to the flesh I become a puffed-up weakling, Satan’s fool.  When Jesus was overcome by the flesh of Adam He was still God: He cursed the fig tree and it withered and died (Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-25).  I find it difficult to understand Jonathan Edwards’ portrayal of God to his congregation in his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in the light of Paul’s letter to believers in Rome (Romans 8:31b-39 NET):

If God is for us, who can be against us?  Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is the one who will condemn?  Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us.  Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Still, I do see a time when sinners, Jerusalem, the whole world, perhaps even the created cosmos were in extreme danger of falling into the hands of an angry God.  Jesus was no demigod: half-man, half-god, super-man, inferior god.  He is fully man and fully God.  As a human being I might wonder if it is worse to suffer abuse or watch as my son is abused.  But God the Father did not partake (μετέσχεν, a form of μετέχω) of the blood and flesh of humanity, the weak link in this chain.  The arresting officers tied Jesus up (John 18:12), tempting the flesh of Adam to resist.  If I succumbed to the flesh and cursed officers arresting me I would just make them angrier with my foul noise.  But Jesus is also God.  If He had succumbed to the flesh of Adam and cursed the arresting officers they would have withered and died.

Jesus was questioned first by Annas (a former high priest himself) the father-in-law of Caiaphas the high priest.  When Jesus answered, one of the high priest’s officers who stood nearby struck him on the face (John 18:22).  Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to Caiaphas the high priest.[5]  The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death.[6]   The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”[7] 

“I am,” said Jesus, “and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”[8]  So they accused Him of blasphemy and condemned Him to death (Matthew 26:65, 66; Mark 14:64).  They spat on Him (Matthew 26:67), blindfolded him (Mark 14:65) and played a guessing game, saying, “Prophesy for us, you Christ!  Who hit you?”[9]  Now the men who were holding Jesus under guard began to mock him and beat him,[10] following their leaders, oblivious to the potential harm they risked to themselves or the entire created cosmos.

After Jesus instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ[11] he began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law.[12]  When it was early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to execute him.[13]  They led Jesus away to their council and said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.”[14]  Caiaphas had given them the key to getting Jesus to accuse Himself: If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.[15]  Then the whole group of them rose up and brought Jesus before Pilate.[16]

They did not go into the governor’s residence so they would not be ceremonially defiled, but could eat the Passover meal.[17]  So Pilate came out to them but said, “Take him yourselves and pass judgment on him according to your own law!”  The Jewish leaders replied, “We cannot legally put anyone to death.”[18]  They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man subverting our nation (Matthew 23), forbidding us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar (Matthew 22:15-22) and claiming that he himself is Christ, a king.”[19]

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.[20]  But with two lies and their own belief that the Christ would be a political/military revolutionary who would overthrow Pilate and his Roman overlords, the chief priests with the elders and the experts in the law and the whole Sanhedrin[21] transmuted their (false) charge of blasphemy into a Roman capital crime.

Privately, Jesus comforted Pilate: My kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities.[22]  Publicly, when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he did not respond.[23]  Pilate had found no basis for an accusation against (Luke 23:4; John 18:38b) Jesus, but he did see a possible way out (John 18:39, 40 NET):

“But it is your custom that I release one prisoner for you at the Passover.  So do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?”  Then they shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!”  (Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

John wrote of Jesus, yehôvâh become human flesh: He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him.[24]  In fact, they persisted in saying, “He incites the people by teaching throughout all Judea.  It started in Galilee and ended up here!”[25]  Galilee was Herod’s jurisdiction, so Pilate sent Jesus to Herod.  The chief priests and the experts in the law were there, vehemently accusing him.  Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him.  Then, dressing him in elegant clothes, Herod sent him back to Pilate.[26]  Then Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, and said to them (Luke 23:13-16 NET):

“You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people.  When I examined him before you, I did not find this man guilty of anything you accused him of doing.  Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us.  Look, he has done nothing deserving death.  I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”

I’ll finish this essay with a Gospel harmony to capture some of the drama.

Matthew Mark Luke

John

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged severely.  The soldiers braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they clothed him in a purple robe.  They came up to him again and again and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!”  And they struck him repeatedly in the face.

John 19:1-3

Again Pilate went out and said to the Jewish leaders, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no reason for an accusation against him.”

John 19:4

Then the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to release a prisoner for them, as was his custom.

Mark 15:8

So after they had assembled, Pilate said to them…

Matthew 27:17a

So Pilate asked them…

Mark 15:9a

“Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?”

Matthew 27:17b

“Do you want me to release the king of the Jews for you?”

Mark 15:9b

(For he knew that they had handed him over because of envy.)

Matthew 27:18

(For he knew that the chief priests had handed him over because of envy.)

Mark 15:10

As he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent a message to him: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man; I have suffered greatly as a result of a dream about him today.”

Matthew 27:19

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas…

Matthew 27:20a

But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas instead.

Mark 15:11

…and to have Jesus killed.

Matthew 27:20b

So Jesus came outside, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.  Pilate said to them, “Look, here is the man!”

When the chief priests and their officers saw him, they shouted out, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”  Pilate said, “You take him and crucify him!  Certainly I find no reason for an accusation against him!”  The Jewish leaders replied, “We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God!”

When Pilate heard what they said, he was more afraid than ever…

John 19:5-8

But they all shouted out together, “Take this man away!   Release Barabbas for us!”  (This was a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder.)

Luke 23:18, 19

…and he went back into the governor’s residence and said to Jesus, “Where do you come from?”  But Jesus gave him no answer.  So Pilate said, “Do you refuse to speak to me?  Don’t you know I have the authority to release you, and to crucify you?” Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me at all, unless it was given to you from above.  Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of greater sin.”  From this point on, Pilate tried to release him.

John 19:9-12a

Pilate addressed them once again because he wanted to release Jesus.

Luke 23:20

The governor asked them,  “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?”  And they said, “Barabbas!”

Matthew 27:21

Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?”  They all said, “Crucify him!”  He asked, “Why?  What wrong has he done?”

Matthew 27:22-23a

So Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?”

They shouted back, “Crucify him!”  Pilate asked them, “Why?  What has he done wrong?”

Mark 15:12-14a

But the Jewish leaders shouted out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar!  Everyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar!”  When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus outside and sat down on the judgment seat in the place called “The Stone Pavement” (Gabbatha in Aramaic).  (Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover, about noon.)  Pilate said to the Jewish leaders, “Look, here is your king!”

John 19:12b-14

But they kept on shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”  A third time he said to them, “Why?  What wrong has he done?  I have found him guilty of no crime deserving death.  I will therefore flog him and release him.”

Luke 23:21, 22

Then they shouted out, “Away with him!  Away with him!  Crucify him!”  Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your king?”  The high priests replied, “We have no king except Caesar!”

John 19:15

But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”

Matthew 27:23b

But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”

Mark 15:14b

But they were insistent, demanding with loud shouts that he be crucified.

Luke 23:23a

And their shouts prevailed.

Luke 23:23b

When Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but that instead a riot was starting, he took some water, washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.  You take care of it yourselves!”  In reply all the people said, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”

Matthew 27:24, 25

So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted.

Luke 23:24

Because he wanted to satisfy the crowd…

Mark 15:15a

Then he released Barabbas for them.

Matthew 27:26a

…Pilate released Barabbas for them.

Mark 15:15b

 

He released the man they asked for, who had been thrown in prison for insurrection and murder.

Luke 23:25a

But after he had Jesus flogged…

Matthew 27:26b

Then, after he had Jesus flogged…

Mark 15:15c

…he handed him over to be crucified.

Matthew 27:26c

…he handed him over to be crucified.

Mark 15:15d

But he handed Jesus over to their will.

Luke 23:25b

Then Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

John 19:16a

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s residence and gathered the whole cohort around him.  They stripped him and put a scarlet robe around him, and after braiding a crown of thorns, they put it on his head.

Matthew 27:27-29

So the soldiers led him into the palace (that is, the governor’s residence) and called together the whole cohort.  They put a purple cloak on him and after braiding a crown of thorns, they put it on him.

Mark 15:16, 17

They began to salute him: “Hail, king of the Jews!”   Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him.

Mark 15:18, 19a

They put a staff in his right hand…

Matthew 27:29b

..and kneeling down before him, they mocked him: “Hail, king of the Jews!”

Matthew 27:29c

Then they knelt down and paid homage to him.

Mark 15:19b

They spat on him and took the staff and struck him repeatedly on the head.

Matthew 27:30

When they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Matthew 27:31

When they had finished mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes back on him.  Then they led him away to crucify him.

Mark 15:20

 

None of Jesus’ accusers, persecutors or tormentors withered and died.  As He told his disciples, the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds.[27]  I’ll continue this in another essay. The rest of the Gospel harmony I used to write this essay follows.

 

Matthew Mark Luke John
Then they arrested Jesus…

Luke 22:54a

Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus…

John 18:12a

…and tied him up.  They brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.  (Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.)

John 18:12b-14

While this [John 18:15-18] was happening, the high priest [Annas had been high priest before his son-in-law] questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching.  Jesus replied, “I have spoken publicly to the world.  I always taught in the synagogues and in the temple courts, where all the Jewish people assemble together.  I have said nothing in secret.  Why do you ask me?  Ask those who heard what I said.  They know what I said.”  When Jesus had said this, one of the high priest’s officers who stood nearby struck him on the face and said, “Is that the way you answer the high priest?”  Jesus replied, “If I have said something wrong, confirm what is wrong.  But if I spoke correctly, why strike me?”

John 18:19-23

Now the ones who had arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose house the experts in the law and the elders had gathered.

Matthew 26:57

Then they led Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests and elders and experts in the law came together.

Mark 14:53

…led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house.

Luke 22:54b

Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to Caiaphas the high priest.

John 18:24

But Peter was following him from a distance, all the way to the high priest’s courtyard.

Matthew 26:58a

And Peter had followed him from a distance, up to the high priest’s courtyard.

Mark 14:54a

But Peter was following at a distance.

Luke 22:54c

After going in, he sat with the guards to see the outcome.

Matthew 26:58b

He was sitting with the guards and warming himself by the fire.

Mark 14:54b

When they had made a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.

Luke 22:55

Meanwhile Simon Peter was standing in the courtyard warming himself.

John 18:25a

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death.  But they did not find anything, though many false witnesses came forward.  Finally two came forward and declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

Matthew 26:59-61

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find anything.  Many gave false testimony against him, but their testimony did not agree.  Some stood up and gave this false testimony against him:  “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and in three days build another not made with hands.’”

Mark 14:55-58

Yet even on this point their testimony did not agree.

Mark 14:59

So the high priest stood up and said to him, “Have you no answer?  What is this that they are testifying against you?””

But Jesus was silent.

Matthew 26:62, 63a

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer?  What is this that they are testifying against you?”

But he was silent and did not answer.

Mark 14:60, 61a

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”  Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.

Matthew 26:63b-64a

Again the high priest questioned him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

Mark 14:61b

“I am,” said Jesus…

Mark 14:62a

But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  Then the high priest tore his clothes and declared, “He has blasphemed!  Why do we still need witnesses?  Now you have heard the blasphemy!  What is your verdict?”  They answered, “He is guilty and deserves death.”  Then they spat in his face…

Matthew 26:63b-67a

…“and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”  Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses?  You have heard the blasphemy!  What is your verdict?”  They all condemned him as deserving death.  Then some began to spit on him…

Mark 14:62b-65a

…and to blindfold him…

Mark 14:65b

…and struck him with their fists.  And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy for us, you Christ!  Who hit you?”

Matthew 26:67b-68

…and to strike him with their fists, saying, “Prophesy!”

Mark 14:65c

The guards also took him and beat him.

Matthew 14:65d

Now the men who were holding Jesus under guard began to mock him and beat him.

Luke 22:63

They blindfolded him and asked him repeatedly, “Prophesy!  Who hit you?”  They also said many other things against him, reviling him.

Luke 22:64, 65

When it was early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to execute him.

Matthew 27:1

Early in the morning, after forming a plan…

Mark 15:1a

When day came, the council of the elders of the people gathered together, both the chief priests and the experts in the law.

Luke 22:66a

Then they led Jesus away to their council and said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.”  But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer.  But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”  So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?”  He answered them, “You say that I am.”  Then they said, “Why do we need further testimony?   We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”

Luke 22:66b-71

They tied him up, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

Matthew 27:2

…the chief priests with the elders and the experts in the law and the whole Sanhedrin tied Jesus up, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.

Mark 15:1b

 

Then the whole group of them rose up and brought Jesus before Pilate.

Luke 23:1

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s residence.  (Now it was very early morning.)

John 18:28a

 

They did not go into the governor’s residence so they would not be ceremonially defiled, but could eat the Passover meal.

John 18:28b

So Pilate came outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”  They replied, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.”

Pilate told them, “Take him yourselves and pass judgment on him according to your own law!”  The Jewish leaders replied, “We cannot legally put anyone to death.”  (This happened to fulfill the word Jesus had spoken when he indicated what kind of death he was going to die.)

John 18:29-32

They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man subverting our nation, forbidding us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar and claiming that he himself is Christ, a king.”

Luke 23:2

Then Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Matthew 27:11a

So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Mark 15:2a

 

 

So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Luke 23:3a

So Pilate went back into the governor’s residence, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

John 18:33

Jesus replied, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or have others told you about me?”  Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?  Your own people and your chief priests handed you over to me.  What have you done?”

Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities.  But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”  Then Pilate said, “So you are a king!”

John 18:34-37a

Jesus said, “You say so.”

Matthew 27:11b

He replied, “You say so.”

Mark 15:2b

He replied, “You say so.”

Luke 23:3b

Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king.

John 18:37b

For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world – to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  Pilate asked, “What is truth?”

When he had said this he went back outside to the Jewish leaders…

John 18:37c, 38a

Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.”

Luke 23:4

…and announced, “I find no basis for an accusation against him.

John 18:38b

But when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he did not respond.  Then Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how many charges they are bringing against you?”  But he did not answer even one accusation, so that the governor was quite amazed.

Matthew 27:12-14

Then the chief priests began to accuse him repeatedly.  So Pilate asked him again, “Have you nothing to say?  See how many charges they are bringing against you!”  But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Mark 15:3-5

During the feast the governor was accustomed to release one prisoner to the crowd, whomever they wanted.  At that time they had in custody a notorious prisoner named Jesus Barabbas.

Matthew 27:15, 16

During the feast it was customary to release one prisoner to the people, whomever they requested.  A man named Barabbas was imprisoned with rebels who had committed murder during an insurrection.

Mark 15:6, 7

But it is your custom that I release one prisoner for you at the Passover.  So do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?”  Then they shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!”  (Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

John 18:39, 40

But they persisted in saying, “He incites the people by teaching throughout all Judea.  It started in Galilee and ended up here!”

Now when Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean.  When he learned that he was from Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who also happened to be in Jerusalem at that time.  When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some miraculous sign.  So Herod questioned him at considerable length; Jesus gave him no answer.  The chief priests and the experts in the law were there, vehemently accusing him.  Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him.  Then, dressing him in elegant clothes, Herod sent him back to Pilate.  That very day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other, for prior to this they had been enemies.

Luke 23:5-12

Then Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people.  When I examined him before you, I did not find this man guilty of anything you accused him of doing.  Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us.  Look, he has done nothing deserving death.  I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”

Luke 23:13-16

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged severely.  The soldiers braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they clothed him in a purple robe.  They came up to him again and again and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!”  And they struck him repeatedly in the face.

John 19:1-3

[1] John 13:36b (NET)

[2] Matthew 11:2a (NET)

[3] Matthew 11:5 (NET)

[4] John 5:20, 21 (NET)

[5] John 18:24 (NET)

[6] Matthew 26:59 (NET)

[7] Matthew 26:63b (NET)

[8] Mark 14:62 (NET)

[9] Matthew 26:68 (NET)

[10] Luke 22:63 (NET)

[11] Matthew 16:20 (NET)

[12] Matthew 16:21 (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:1 (NET)

[14] Luke 22:66b, 67a (NET)

[15] 2 Timothy 2:13 (NET)

[16] Luke 23:1 (NET)

[17] John 18:28b (NET)

[18] John 18:31 (NET)

[19] Luke 23:2 (NET)

[20] 1 Timothy 1:15 (NET)

[21] Mark 15:1 (NET)

[22] John 18:36a (NET)

[23] Matthew 27:12 (NET)

[24] John 1:11 (NET)

[25] Luke 23:5 (NET)

[26] Luke 23:10, 11 (NET)

[27] John 14:10b (NET)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 7

In another essay I began “to consider what I called ‘Paul’s religious mind’ through the lens of Jesus’ teaching” in Matthew 18:15-17 as ballast for my own bias toward mercy.  Originally, I was concerned about Paul’s judgment from a distance of the man who had his father’s wife.  Here is the relevant text in context (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 NET):

It is actually reported that sexual immorality (πορνεία) exists among you, the kind of immorality (πορνεία) that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with (ἔχειν, a form of ἔχω; literally, has) his father’s wife.  And you are proud!  Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you?  For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit.  And I have already judged (κέκρικα, a form of κρίνω) the one who did this, just as though I were present.  When you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus, turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

When I revisited this text and compared it to Jesus’ message to the angel of the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) I was more concerned about its impact on the ἐκκλησία, those called by God:[1]

Let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that Paul as an apostle had the authority and God-given wisdom to recognize a weed [Matthew 13:27-30] and uproot it.  Did he have the authority to turn the church of Jesus Christ in Corinth (and any who hear him today) from the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of the Holy Spirit, and transform them into a paranoid police force?  Rather than knowing no law against loving our neighbor as well as our enemies, does every infraction of any law call us to dam up the fruit of the Holy Spirit?  Must we judge one another constantly lest we be proud for loving one another excessively?

As I began to counter my own bias I assumed that members of Chloe’s household had already taken one or two others to the man who had his father’s wife so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established[2] and that he had refused to listen (παρακούσῃ, a form of παρακούω) to them.[3]  What we have in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 then is Paul telling it to the church.  I assumed this because I think Paul was writing about the same man in 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 (NET):

But if anyone has caused sadness, he has not saddened me alone, but to some extent (not to exaggerate) he has saddened all of you as well.  This punishment on such an individual by the majority is enough for him, so that now instead you should rather forgive and comfort him.  This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair.  Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

In other words, the man who had his father’s wife listened to the church when he was shunned by the church.  If one doesn’t think the one who caused sadness was the same one who had his father’s wife then 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 would be an example of excommunication rather than shunning.  If he refuses to listen (παρακούσῃ, a form of παρακούω) to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector (τελώνης),[4] Jesus said.  He was quite clear how to treat Gentiles and tax collectors (Matthew 5:44-48 NET):

But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Even the tax collectors (τελῶναι, a form of τελώνης) do the same, don’t they?  And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do?  Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?  So then, be perfect (τέλειοι, a form of τέλειος), as your heavenly Father is perfect (τέλειος).

From the viewpoint of the ἐκκλησία very little has changed except the credence given to what is said or done by the one no longer in good standing.  Those who are led by the Spirit of God don’t think, for instance, “my father’s wife is the girl for me” because so-and-so had his father’s wife.  But the church is comprised of people who are led by the Spirit of God and others who are not, and both real estate and tangible property are at stake.  Paul didn’t differentiate between the ἐκκλησία and the not-for-profit corporations called churches the way I attempt to do.

In his article “Why are priests celibate?” on the U.S. Catholic: Faith in Real Life website Santiago Cortes-Sjoberg wrote:

It was not until the turn of the first millennium that the church started to canonically regulate clerical marriage, mainly in response to clerical abuses and corruption. Of particular concern was the transmission at the death of a clergyman of church property to his wife and children. The Council of Pavia (1018), for example, issued regulations on how to deal with children of clergy, declaring them serfs of the church, unable to be ordained and barring them from inheriting their father’s benefices (income connected to a church office or parish).

In 1075 Pope Gregory VII issued a decree effectively barring married priests from ministry, a discipline formalized by the First Lateran Council in 1123.

I tell you the truth, Jesus continued, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.[5]  I’ve quoted from a will have been bound translation of the New Testament though will be bound is just as common.  I’m no Greek scholar but will be bound appears to be the more grammatically correct translation of ἔσται.  The relevant entry on GotQuestions.org quoted will be bound but understood it as will have already been bound: “the syntax of the Greek text makes the meaning clear.  What you bind on earth will have already been bound in heaven.”

I saw a play in Los Angeles about thirty-five years ago based on this verse.  A blind priest on a mission journey baptized a flock of penguins.  God and Satan scrambled to catch up, granting the penguins rational souls so they could be held accountable for their sins and tempting them to sin, respectively.  The penguins got very excited about the command to be fruitful and multiply.  I assume “will have already been bound in heaven” exists as a possible translation to counter extreme views like that play.

Keith Drury in his article posted on The Voice, “Who says what the Bible says? The keys to the kingdom, binding and loosing,” outlines a fairly extensive process for addressing the opposite extreme (though he quoted will be bound) of one individual or even a few gathered in Jesus’ name deciding what has already been bound in heaven.  Mr. Drury begins with a group of four men plus his wife as “spiritual director,” moves to a group of six from his Sunday School class to his Sunday School class as a whole, his pastor, his entire church of 1,500 people, his denomination and finally church tradition—“Christians through history.”  In the Catholic catechism the Pope and the College of Cardinals fill this function.

Along the way Mr. Drury wrote this about small groups in John Wesley’s churches: “They did not have a short prayer and send the member out into the woods to ‘sense from the Holy Spirit’ if they had sinned or not.  They did not even send them off to study the Bible.”  I don’t believe this was meant quite as flippantly as it sounded since he described the four men he consulted first as “experts in the Bible, theology, and philosophy.”  I think Mr. Drury understands that apart from the Holy Spirit and the Bible any triangulation by consensus could be much worse than useless.  So let’s attempt to look at the Bible, led by the Spirit of God.

Jesus Jerusalem Council

Paul

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:17-20 (NET)

From the apostles and elders, your brothers, to the Gentile brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, greetings!  Since we have heard that some have gone out from among us with no orders from us and have confused you, upsetting your minds by what they said, we have unanimously decided to choose men to send to you along with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas who will tell you these things themselves in person.  For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality.  If you keep yourselves from doing these things, you will do well.  Farewell.

Acts 15:23b-29 (NET)

For all who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.  For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous.  For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves.  They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relationship to God and know his will and approve the superior things because you receive instruction from the law, and if you are convinced that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an educator of the senseless, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the essential features of knowledge and of the truth – therefore you who teach someone else, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach against stealing, do you steal?  You who tell others not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery?  You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who boast in the law dishonor God by transgressing the law!  For just as it is written, “the name of God is being blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

For circumcision has its value if you practice the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.  Therefore if the uncircumcised man obeys the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?  And will not the physically uncircumcised man who keeps the law judge you who, despite the written code and circumcision, transgress the law?  For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh, but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code.  This person’s praise is not from people but from God.

Romans 2:12-29 (NET)

It seems fairly clear who had more regard for Jesus’ command not to think that He had come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) the law or the prophets (not to mention more concern for the souls of Gentiles).  The unanimous decision of the church fathers to give Gentiles James’ (Acts 15:13-21) abbreviated version of the law was not presided over by a successor to Peter but by Peter himself.  Yes, Paul instigated the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-3 NET).  Yes, Paul taught the council’s decision for a time (Acts 16:3-5 NET), but ultimately studying the Scriptures (the Old Testament) in the power of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote the letter to believers in Rome.  He said many more things[6] about the law there.  I’ll highlight only two more of them here.

The most direct route to satisfying a hunger and thirst for righteousness, obeying the law in my own strength, is closed (if it was ever actually open after Adam ate the forbidden fruit).  For the lawwas weakened through the flesh…[T]he outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.[7] The indirect route (1 Peter 1:18-20; John 14:6) was ever the best (Romans 3:19-22 NET).

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God.  For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.

My point here is: in the Bible for all who are led by the Spirit of God to see an individual led by the same Spirit to study the Scriptures corrected an erroneous doctrine proposed by the unanimous consensus of church authorities who claimed the imprimatur of the Holy Spirit.  Granted, none of these authorities had access to 1 Corinthians 13, Romans or Galatians.  Their decision became in effect the irritation that formed these pearls in Paul.

I am so proud of myself any time I understand something Paul wrote it’s practically sinful.  I can barely imagine taking the Old Testament, the Gospel and the mess[8] in Corinth and writing these letters by the Holy Spirit for the very first time.  I think of the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, love – a way that is beyond comparison, as an outline that was fleshed out considerably in Romans, and Galatians seems to assume Romans.  I assume then that they were written in that order though many disagree.  Of course, the Holy Spirit knew the content of all three letters and could have had Paul write them in any order He preferred.

So if Jesus communicated supernaturally through his Spirit to Paul to hand the one who had his father’s wife over to Satan, there is really nothing I can say about that.  My points are all based on the insight that 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 seems contrary to Jesus’ teaching[9] and Paul’s own writing elsewhere (Galatians 6:1-5).  I concede the need for excommunication so that church property doesn’t fall into possession of those not led by the Spirit of God.  I’m not absolutely convinced that outcome has always been the case.  In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if church property, church position and church authority are coveted more by those who live according to the flesh than by those who live according to the Spirit of God (Romans 8:5-14 NET).

There are any number of organizations in the world dedicated to instilling compliance in their members to, and even faith in, various rules and norms.  Some are arguably better at it than churches.  But none of these worldly organizations can offer believers the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, Christ in you, the hope of glory.[10]

[1] Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 1

[2] Matthew 18:16 (NET)

[3] Matthew 18:17a (NET)

[4] Matthew 18:17b (NET)

[5] Matthew 18:18 (NET)

[6] Romans 3:19-31; Romans 4:13-25; Romans 5:12-21; Romans 6:12-20; Romans 7:1-25; Romans 8:1-11; Romans 9:30-33; Romans 10:1-13; Romans 13:8-10

[7] Romans 8:3, 7, 8 (NET)

[8] It is possible that the situation in Corinth wasn’t quite the “mess” Paul thought it was.  Jesus thought He had many people in this city.  See also: Paul in Corinth

[9] Paul’s Religious Mind; Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 1

[10] Colossians 1:27b (NET)