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…

 

[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

Back to Romans, Part 87

[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)

To Make Holy, Part 1

Paul wrote the church at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 NET):

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work.  Be at peace among yourselves.  And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient toward all.  See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.  Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks.  For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

At first glance it seems that Paul has written a fairly long list of “works” for believers to do.  But I want to break it down a little bit.

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge (εἰδέναι, a form of εἴδω; to see, to notice)… …those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you…because of their work.
…and to esteem (ἡγεῖσθαι, a form of ἡγέομαι) them most highly (ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ) in love (ἀγάπῃ, a form of ἀγάπη)… But the fruit of the Spirit is love (ἀγάπη).

So how hard is it really for me to notice those—who labor for my benefit, preside over me in the Lord and admonish me—because of their work?  And then, once I have noticed, to take the love that wells up in me from the Holy Spirit and to esteem (or, lead) them [who labor so diligently on my behalf] most highly in love?  I see only two things that make this difficult or even impossible: 1) I am not led by the Spirit of God and so I do not have this love for those who benefit me so greatly nor do I have eyes to see them; or, 2) they do not admonish me to live by the Spirit of God yet still expect me to love them in my own strength according to a rule Paul commanded.  You will recognize them by their fruit,[1] Jesus said.

Be at peace (εἰρηνεύετε, a form of εἰρηνεύω) among yourselves. But the fruit of the Spirit is…peace (εἰρήνη, a form of εἰρήνη).

So how hard is really to be at peace with others?  Again, I see only two things that make this difficult or even impossible: 1) I am not led by the Spirit of God and so I do not have this peace to share with others; or, 2) they do not live by the Spirit of God but try to make peace in some arbitrary way according to a rule Paul commanded.

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish (νουθετεῖτε, a form of νουθετέω) the undisciplined…

Paul used another form of νουθετέω earlier, those whoadmonish (νουθετοῦντας) you.  Admittedly, I don’t see a simple one-to-one correspondence with some aspect of the fruit of the Spirit here.  But Paul believed that he did this in the power of the Holy Spirit: God wanted to make known to them, Paul wrote the Colossians, the glorious riches of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  We proclaim him by instructing (νουθετοῦντες, another form of νουθετέω) and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ.  Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.[2]

If someone isn’t up to the task of instructing and teaching the undisciplined, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting (νουθετοῦντες, another form of νουθετέω) one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God.[3]  Just be sure those psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs proclaim the grace of God and the indwelling Spirit of Christ in you, the hope of glory rather than rules commanded by Paul or your church or your own imagination.

I’ll admit to being a bit gun-shy and perhaps even a little unfaithful about too many people attempting to instruct and teach as Paul did.  But he wrote Roman believers, I myself am fully convinced [in the God of hopeby the power of the Holy Spirit] about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct (νουθετεῖν, another form of νουθετέω) one another.[4]  This goodness (ἀγαθωσύνης, a form of ἀγαθωσύνη) flowed from the Hoy Spirit: But the fruit of the Spirit isgoodness (ἀγαθωσύνη).

Paul wrote about how to admonish one another: if anyone does not obey (ὑπακούει, a form of ὑπακούω) our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely with him, so that he may be ashamed.  Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish (νουθετεῖτε, a form of νουθετέω) him as a brother.[5]  Even from among your own group men will arise, teaching perversions of the truth to draw the disciples away after them.  Therefore be alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning (νουθετῶν, another form of νουθετέω) each one of you with tears.  And now I entrust you to God and to the message of his grace.  This message is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified (ἡγιασμένοις, another form of ἁγιάζω).[6]

…comfort (παραμυθεῖσθε, a form of παραμυθέομαι) the discouraged (ὀλιγοψύχους, a form of ὀλιγόψυχος)… But the fruit of the Spirit is…kindness (χρηστότης).

This comfort was consolation in John’s Gospel narrative: many of the Jewish people of the region had come to Martha and Mary to console (παραμυθήσωνται, another form of παραμυθέομαι) them over the loss of their brother.[7]  And people who were with Mary in the house consoling (παραμυθούμενοι, another form of παραμυθέομαι) herfollowed her[8] to her brother’s tomb.  As you know, Paul wrote the Thessalonians, we treated each one of you as a father treats his own children, exhorting and encouraging (παραμυθούμενοι, another form of παραμυθέομαι) you and insisting that you live in a way worthy of God who calls you to his own kingdom and his glory.[9]  The Greek word ὀλιγοψύχους, translated discouraged was only used this once.  It is a compound of ὀλίγος (puny) and ψυχή (breath, spirit).  The kindness of the Holy Spirit flows from the wealth of his kindness (χρηστότητος, a form of χρηστότης), forbearance, and patienceGod’s kindness (χρηστὸν, a form χρηστός) leads you to repentance.[10]

…help (ἀντέχεσθε, a form of ἀντέχομαι) the weak (ἀσθενῶν, a form of ἀσθενής)… But the fruit of the Spirit is love (ἀγάπη).

The help (ἀντέχεσθε, a form of ἀντέχομαι) we are to be to the weak was translated he will be devoted (ἀνθέξεται, another form of ἀντέχομαι) in Matthew 6:24 (NET) and Luke 16:13 (NET).  An elder must hold firmly (ἀντεχόμενον, another form of ἀντέχομαι) to the faithful message as it has been taught, so that he will be able to give exhortation (παρακαλεῖν, a form of παρακαλέω) in such healthy teaching and correct those who speak against it.[11]

Any and all of us in the flesh qualify as the weak (ἀσθενῶν, a form of ἀσθενής): The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (ἀσθενής).[12]  For while we were still helpless (ἀσθενῶν, a form of ἀσθενής), at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (ἀσεβῶν, a form of ἀσεβής).  (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.)  But God demonstrates his own love (ἀγάπην, a form of ἀγάπη) for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.[13]  And apart from his love (ἀγάπη) flowing through us from his Holy Spirit we will continue to be the weak, those who live according to the flesh rather than those who live according to Spirit (Romans 8:5-14 NET).

For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.  For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the 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.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.  Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness.  Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.

So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.

 

…be patient (μακροθυμεῖτε, a form of μακροθυμέω) toward all. But the fruit of the Spirit is…patience (μακροθυμία, a form of μακροθυμία).
See that no one pays back (ἀποδῷ, a form of ἀποδίδωμι) evil (κακὸν, a form of κακός) for evil (κακοῦ, another form of κακός) to anyone… But the fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness (πίστις).

Surely, that we will be patient toward all with the patience that comes from the Holy Spirit requires no additional explanation from me.  As for faith or faithfulness restraining us from paying back evil for evil: The Greek word translated evil was κακός, intrinsically evil, not πονηρός.  I don’t mean to imply that if someone gives me a complicated list of rules to obey to make myself righteous that I am then free to do unto him as he has done unto me because Paul didn’t use πονηρός here.  I mean that when someone does κακός, real intrinsic evil, to me I am inclined even as a Christian, perhaps especially as a Christian, to think all bets are off.

But Jesus said, the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward (ἀποδώσει, another form of ἀποδίδωμι) each person according to what he has done.[14]  The Greek words ἀποδώσει, translated he will reward and ἀποδῷ, translated pays back, are both forms of ἀποδίδωμι.  Jesus’ faithfulness flowing into me through his Holy Spirit can restrain my fists and my tongue, soothe my anger, in time cause me to forgive and pray mercy for the one who wronged me.  My faith will accomplish none of this.  For through the Spirit, by faith (πίστεως, another form of πίστις), 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 (πίστις) working through love (ἀγάπης, another form of ἀγάπη).[15]

This is a good place to remind myself that I’m doing something very arbitrary in this essay, dividing the fruit of the Spirit into constituent parts.  It is one, indivisible.  In crisis moments that “water cannon” eroding away my ungodliness becomes fully that fountain of water springing up to eternal life , making me buoyant, lifting me above and beyond myself, flooding me with God’s own love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[16]  Clearly, I might have written about ἐγκράτεια here.  The main reason I did not is that pesky self in the NET translation.

…but always pursue what is good (ἀγαθὸν, a form of ἀγαθός) for one another and for all. But the fruit of the Spirit is…goodness (ἀγαθωσύνη).
Always rejoice (χαίρετε, a form of χαίρω)… But the fruit of the Spirit is…joy (χαρὰ).

Our pursuit of what is good is both directed and energized by God’s goodness flowing from his Holy Spirit.  I’ve written elsewhere about relying on his joy.[17]

…constantly pray (προσεύχεσθε, a form of προσεύχομαι)… In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray (προσευξώμεθα, another form of προσεύχομαι), but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.[18]

Prayer is intimately bound up with being led by the Spirit.  I would like to accentuate that we do not know how we should pray because the Spirit helps us in our weakness as opposed to our arrogance.  The Greek words translated how we should were καθὸ δεῖ, according to necessityFrom that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must (δεῖ) go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.[19]  Let me chase that immediately with a somewhat out of context but completely applicable verse: For if the eagerness is present, the gift itself is acceptable according to (καθὸ, a form of καθό) whatever one has, not according to (καθὸ, a form of καθό) what he does not have.[20]  Don’t be scared off by insufficient knowledge.  I feel like a single guy telling married couples how they must have sex.  This must is important enough even to do badly—and often.

Something that has helped me with both prayer and Bible study is a line from James: Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters!  Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.[21]  But again, that may be personal for me.  I have a sharp tongue and a quick temper.  Shutting up and listening in prayer brought me face to face so to speak with the virtually bottomless insanity of my own mind.  But I won’t get into that here.  Pray with the Holy Spirit rather than on your own.

…in everything give thanks (εὐχαριστεῖτε, a form of εὐχαριστέω). But the fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness (πίστις).

I returned again to faith.  It seems like a good place to end.  If I, for instance, hear everything Paul has written above as rules I must obey to prove that I am a Christian, I am weary, frightened and not very grateful.  For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus, Paul concluded this list.  By faith I can hear this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus as this is what his Holy Spirit is doing in and through you moment by moment.  And suddenly I’m not so weary, much less frightened and filled with gratitude.  Paul continued writing about the Spirit, if we have ears to hear it (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 NET).

Do not extinguish the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt.  But examine all things; hold fast to what is good (καλὸν, a form of καλός).  Stay away from every form of evil (πονηροῦ, a form of πονηρός).

And sometime I would do well to go through these in detail.  But this essay has gone long and I need to get to the point.  Paul concluded his remarks with the assurance that all of this is God’s work and not our own (1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24 NET):

Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy (ἁγιάσαι, a form of ἁγιάζω; KJV, sanctify you wholly) and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this.

 

[1] Mathew 7:16a (NET)

[2] Colossians 1:27-29 (NET)

[3] Colossians 3:16 (NET)

[4] Romans 15:14 (NET)

[5] 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15 (NET)

[6] Acts 20:30-32 (NET)

[7] John 11:19 (NET)

[8] John 11:31 (NET)

[9] 1 Thessalonians 2:11, 12 (NET)

[10] Romans 2:4 (NET)

[11] Titus 1:9 (NET)

[12] Matthew 26:41b, Mark 14:38b

[13] Romans 5:6-8 (NET)

[14] Matthew 16:27 (NET)

[15] Galatians 5:5, 6 (NET)

[16] Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

[17] Romans, Part 60; Paul in Corinth; Romans, Part 52; Romans, Part 53; My Reasons and My Reason, Part 6; Romans, Part 68; Romans, Part 70

[18] Romans 8:26, 27 (NET)

[19] Matthew 16:21 (NET)

[20] 2 Corinthians 8:12 (NET)

[21] James 1:19 (NET)