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)

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.

To Make Holy, Part 2

[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)