Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 5

If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord (ʼădônây, אדני), Moses said, let my Lord (ʼădônây, אדני) go among us, for we are a stiff-necked people; pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.[1]

Before I continue to study nâśâʼ[2] and ʽâbar in Exodus 20:7 – Deuteronomy 4:26, I must add another word to the mix.  The Hebrew word sâlach (וסלחת), translated pardon, was unprecedented.  It didn’t occur in Genesis or anywhere else in Exodus.  That the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) called to Moses and spoke to him from the Meeting Tent[3] is fairly explicit in the opening verse of Leviticus.  But I still speculate that at least some of the subject matter recorded there was broached on the mountain before yehôvâh and Moses were so rudely interrupted by Israel’s worship of a golden calf.

The idea that Moses coined a word and then discovered a universe to revolve around it seems to work out all right in particle physics, but it makes me uncomfortable in Bible study.  If yehôvâh had already begun to reveal the elaborate, sometimes tedious, detail of atonement (kâphar, כפר) and forgiveness (sâlach, סלח) it would help to account for Moses’ brass: He called yehôvâh’s intention to destroy Israel in accordance with the forty day covenant evil (Exodus 32:9-14) because he was taken by surprise at the abrupt change in yehôvâh’s tone and the content of his words.

Be that as it may, scribing kâphar and sâlach convinced me that I have mischaracterized Leviticus, and that I was wrong when I wrote that a primary verb to forgive was absent from “holy Hebrew.”  A table showing the translations of sâlach in the KJV, NET and Septuagint follows:

Form of sâlach

Reference KJV NET

Septuagint

סלח Numbers 14:19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people… Please forgive the iniquity of this people… ἄφες, a form of ἀφίημι
יסלח Numbers 30:5 …and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father… And the Lord will release her from it, because her father overruled… καθαριεῖ, a form of καθαρίζω
Numbers 30:8 …and the LORD shall forgive her. And the Lord will release her from it.
Numbers 30:12 …and the LORD shall forgive her. …and the Lord will release her from them. καθαρίσει, another form of καθαρίζω
סלחתי Numbers 14:20 I have pardoned according to thy word: I have forgiven them as you asked. ἵλεως[4]
וסלחת Exodus 34:9 and pardon our iniquity and our sin… pardon our iniquity and our sin… ἀφελεῖς, a form of ἀφαιρέω
ונסלח Leviticus 4:20 …make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. …make atonement on their behalf and they will be forgiven. ἀφεθήσεται, another form of ἀφίημι
Leviticus 4:26 …make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. …make atonement on his behalf for his sin and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 4:31 …make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. …make atonement on his behalf and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 4:35 …his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him. …his sin which he has committed and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:10 …his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him. …his sin which he has committed, and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:13 …in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: …by doing one of these things, and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:16 …with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. …with the guilt offering ram and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:18 …and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. …(although he himself had not known it) and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 6:7 …for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him… …on his behalf before the Lord and he will be forgiven
Leviticus 19:22 and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him. …his sin that he has committed, and he will be forgiven
Numbers 15:25 …the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them… …for the whole community of the Israelites, and they will be forgiven
Numbers 15:26 And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel… and the resident foreigner who lives among them will be forgiven
Numbers 15:28 …to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. …to make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven. Not Translated

I thought Leviticus was law: crime, especially capital crime, and punishment.  But Leviticus has much to say about atonement and forgiveness.  It is the good news (εὐαγγέλιον) of the five books of Moses:

If the whole congregation of Israel strays unintentionally and the matter is not noticed by the assembly, and they violate one of the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) commandments, which must not be violated, so they become guilty, the assembly must present a young bull for a sin offering when the sin they have committed becomes known.[5]  Some priestcraft was spelled out (Leviticus 4:14b-20a) with the result that the priest will make atonement on their behalf and they will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[6]  For this reason I tell you, Jesus said, people will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) for every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[7]

Whenever a leader, by straying unintentionally, sins and violates one of the commandments of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) his God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיו) which must not be violated, and he pleads guilty, or his sin that he committed is made known to him, he must bring a flawless male goat as his offering.[8]  Again, after some priestcraft (Leviticus 4:24-26a) the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[9]  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, Jesus continued, will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).  But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι), either in this age or in the age to come.[10]

If an ordinary individual sins by straying unintentionally when he violates one of the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) commandments which must not be violated, and he pleads guilty or his sin that he committed is made known to him, he must bring a flawless female goat as his offering for the sin that he committed.[11]  There was some priestcraft (Leviticus 4:29-31a) and the priest will make atonement on his behalf and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[12]  I tell you the truth, Jesus said, people will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) for all sins, even all the blasphemies they utter.  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven (ἄφεσιν, a form of ἄφεσις), but is guilty of an eternal sin” (because they said, “He has an unclean spirit”).[13]

This same ordinary individual may bring a sheep instead: But if he brings a sheep as his offering, for a sin offering, he must bring a flawless female.[14]  After the priestcraft (Leviticus 4:33-35a) the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[15]  And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, Jesus said, will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι), but the person who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[16]

If a person fails to testify and he is a witness,[17] touches anything ceremonially unclean,[18] touches human uncleanness,[19] or swears an oath, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips,[20] when an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned, and he must bring his penalty for guilt to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה) for his sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, whether a female sheep or a female goat, for a sin offering.[21]  If he cannot afford an animal from the flock, he must bring his penalty for guilt for his sin that he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons, to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה), one for a sin offering and one for a burnt offering.[22]  After the priestcraft (Leviticus 5:8-10a) the priest will make atonement on behalf of this person for his sin which he has committed, and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[23]

If he cannot afford two turtledoves or two young pigeons, yehôvâh continued, he must bring as his offering for his sin which he has committed a tenth of an ephah of choice wheat flour for a sin offering. He must not place olive oil on it and he must not put frankincense on it, because it is a sin offering.[24]  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed by doing one of these things, and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[25]  Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, Peter said to a believing magician who had attempted to buy the Holy Spirit, and pray to the Lord that he may perhaps forgive (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) you for the intent of your heart.[26]

The Lord’s holy things (Leviticus 5:14-16 NET):

Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) spoke to Moses: “When a person commits a trespass and sins by straying unintentionally from the regulations about the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) holy things (qôdesh, מקדשי; Septuagint: ἁγίων, a form of ἅγιος), then he must bring his penalty for guilt to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה), a flawless ram from the flock, convertible into silver shekels according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel, for a guilt offering.  And whatever holy thing he violated he must restore and must add one fifth to it and give it to the priest.  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf with the guilt offering ram and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).”

If a person sins and violates any of the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) commandments which must not be violated (although he did not know it at the time, but later realizes he is guilty), then he will bear his punishment for iniquity and must bring a flawless ram from the flock, convertible into silver shekels, for a guilt offering to the priest.  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his error which he committed (although he himself had not known it) and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[27]

Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) spoke to Moses (Leviticus 6:1-7 NET):

“When a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord (yehôvâh, ביהוה) by deceiving his fellow citizen in regard to something held in trust, or a pledge, or something stolen, or by extorting something from his fellow citizen, or has found something lost and denies it and swears falsely concerning any one of the things that someone might do to sin – when it happens that he sins and he is found guilty, then he must return whatever he had stolen, or whatever he had extorted, or the thing that he had held in trust, or the lost thing that he had found, or anything about which he swears falsely.  He must restore it in full and add one fifth to it; he must give it to its owner when he is found guilty.  Then he must bring his guilt offering to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה), a flawless ram from the flock, convertible into silver shekels, for a guilt offering to the priest.  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf before the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) for whatever he has done to become guilty.”

When a man has sexual intercourse with a woman, although she is a slave woman designated for another man and she has not yet been ransomed, or freedom has not been granted to her, there will be an obligation to pay compensation.  They must not be put to death, because she was not free.  He must bring his guilt offering to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה) at the entrance of the Meeting Tent, a guilt offering ram, and the priest is to make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) for his sin that he has committed, and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) of his sin that he has committed.[28]

James wrote (James 5:14-16a NET):

Is anyone among you ill?  He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up – and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).  So confess (ἐξομολογεῖσθε, a form of ἐξομολογέω) your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.

I saved this quotation[29] for last to highlight that all of this priestly machinery of atonement and forgiveness ground to a halt if sinners didn’t acknowledge and confess their sin, whether directly or by bringing the appropriate offering.  This is extremely difficult for the religious mind to do, those who are trying to be declared righteous by the law[30] or attempting to have [their] own righteousness derived from the law.[31]  As I began these studies I wrote that “the religious mind may be nothing more than a subspecies of the carnal mind (KJV) or the outlook of the flesh (NET).”  Now I would simply say that what I call the religious mind is the carnal mind or the outlook of the flesh: because the religious mind is hostile to God, for it does not submit (ὑποτάσσεται, a form of ὑποτάσσω) to the law of God, nor is it able (δύναται, a form of δύναμαι) to do so.[32]

Jephthah sacrificed[33] his daughter to make his own word true rather than confess his reckless oath to keep yehôvâh’s commandments.  But first submission to the law of God is never a pretty sight.  Paul left a vivid description from his own experience of what it is like to die to the law, to have a new self, a new I, a place from which to gain one’s first glimpse of the old self, the carnal mind, the outlook of the flesh or as I have been calling it—the religious mind (Romans 7:15-24 NET):

For I don’t understand what I am doing.  For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate.  But if I do what I don’t want, I agree (σύμφημι) that the law is good.  But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me.  For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it (NET note 24: Grk “For to wish [want] is present in/with me, but not to do it.”).  For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.  So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God in my inner being.  But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members.  Wretched man that I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?

[1] Exodus 34:9 (NET)

[2] I used the second spelling (nâsâh) offered in Strong’s Concordance in the tables and a previous essay, which confused me when I linked to the Hebrew dictionary.

[3] Leviticus 1:1 (NET)

[4] “I am merciful to them according to your word” (Numbers 14:20b NETS).

[5] Leviticus 4:13, 14a (NET)

[6] Leviticus 4:20b (NET)

[7] Matthew 12:31 (NET)

[8] Leviticus 4:22, 23 (NET)

[9] Leviticus 4:26b (NET)

[10] Matthew 12:32 (NET)

[11] Leviticus 4:27, 28 (NET)

[12] Leviticus 4:31b (NET)

[13] Mark 3:28-30 (NET)

[14] Leviticus 4:32 (NET)

[15] Leviticus 4:35b (NET)

[16] Luke 12:10 (NET)

[17] Leviticus 5:1 (NET)

[18] Leviticus 5:2 (NET)

[19] Leviticus 5:3 (NET)

[20] Leviticus 5:4 (NET)

[21] Leviticus 5:5, 6a (NET)

[22] Leviticus 5:7 (NET)

[23] Leviticus 5:10b (NET)

[24] Leviticus 5:11 (NET)

[25] Leviticus 5:13a (NET)

[26] Acts 8:22 (NET)

[27] Leviticus 5:17, 18 (NET)

[28] Leviticus 19:20-22 (NET)

[29] There are three more occurrences of ἀφεθήσεται in Luke 17:34-36 (KJV) translated left, contrasted to παραλημφθήσεται (a form of παραλαμβάνω) translated taken.  Verse 36 was not in the Textus Receptus of 1550 or the Byzantine Majority Text I consult most often.  It was however in the Textus Receptus of 1598 and thereafter and also in the Essex Gospels of 1175.

[30] Galatians 5:4 (NET)

[31] Philippians 3:9 (NET)

[32] Romans 8:7 (NET)

[33] In an article titled, “Did Jephthah Actually Kill his Daughter?,” on thetorah.com  Professor Jonathan Magonet argued: “The flexibility of the vav conjunctive linking the two statements would allow it to be read here as ‘and’, so that ‘belonging to the Lord’ meant the burnt offering mentioned immediately after.  But the ‘vav’ could also be read as ‘or’, so that whatever or whoever came out would be dedicated to God, and, only should it prove appropriate, would be sacrificed.”  Whether Jephthah “sacrificed” his daughter as a burnt offering or as a lifelong virgin matters very little to my argument here.  It would have mattered a great deal to the hold Jephthah’s “sacrifice” had on my attention, how often I returned to consider this story.  It’s hard to say if that alone would have left my religious mind skulking in the shadows.

Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 4

As I continue to study nâśâʼ[1] and ʽâbar in Exodus 20:7 – Deuteronomy 4:26 I’ll begin with an aside.  The first occurrence of nâśâʼ in this section translated pardon was an angel who will not pardon [Israel’s] transgressions.  A table contrasting two mentions of an angel follows.

The Forty Day Covenant

After the Golden Calf

The Lord said to Moses, “Go up from here, you and the people whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’

Exodus 33:1 (NET)

“I am going to send an angel before you…

Exodus 23:20a (NET)

I will send an angel before you…

Exodus 33:2a (NET)

…to protect you as you journey and to bring you into the place that I have prepared.  Take heed because of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him.  But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries.

Exodus 23:20b-22 (NET)

For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.

Exodus 23:23 (NET)

…and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

Exodus 33:2b (NET)

Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey.  But I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way.”

Exodus 33:3 (NET)

When the people heard this troubling word they mourned; no one put on his ornaments.  For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people.  If I went up among you for a moment, I might destroy you.  Now take off your ornaments, that I may know what I should do to you.’”  So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments by Mount Horeb.

Exodus 33:4-6 (NET)

It’s worth noting that the angel’s function—to protect—and the warning—Take heed—were both forms of shâmar in Hebrew.  The former (לשמרך) was translated φυλάξῃ (a form of φυλάσσω) in the SeptuagintIf anyone hears my words but does not keep (φυλάξῃ, a form of φυλάσσω) them, Jesus said, I do not judge that person.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.[2]  The latter (השמר) was translated πρόσεχε (a form of προσέχω) in the SeptuagintUntil I come, Paul wrote Timothy, give attention (πρόσεχε, a form of προσέχω) to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.[3]

The Hebrew word translated obey in obey his voice was shâmaʽ (ושמע; See Table below) which was translated εἰσάκουε (a form of εἰσακούω) in the Septuagint.  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard (εἰσηκούσθη, another form of εἰσακούω), and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you will name him John.[4]  The Hebrew word translated rebel in do not rebel was mârar (תמר) which was translated ἀπείθει (a form of ἀπειθέω) in the Septuagint.  He who believes (πιστεύων, a form of πιστεύω) in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe (ἀπειθῶν, another form of ἀπειθέω) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.[5]

And finally pardon was nâśâʼ (ישׁא) in Hebrew which was translated ὑποστείληταί (a form of ὑποστέλλω) in the Septuagint.  You know that I did not hold back (ὑπεστειλάμην, another form of ὑποστέλλω) from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful,[6] Paul declared to the Ephesian elders.  But here the translators of the Septuagint took a different turn since they didn’t even translate peshaʽ (לפשעכם; transgressions): “For he shall not hold you in undue awe, for my name is upon him.”[7]  It makes me wonder if they were trying to put a better spin on for he will not pardon (or, bear) your transgressions for Greek consumption.

The clause detailing the angel’s purpose—to protect you as you journey[8]—was missing from the restatement of the covenant after the golden calf incident, yet for forty years in the wilderness yehôvâh[9] cared and provided for them.  So why don’t I consider that all of the missing elements of the covenant should be assumed in the later restatement?

I’m no lawyer but I did spend several years calculating and writing the conditions that went into my employer’s boilerplate contracts.  It seems pretty apparent to me that when yehôvâh did not destroy Israel and make a great nation of Moses, when He accepted Moses’ description of that act as evil, then both parties had abrogated the covenant and the contract became null and void.  Care and provision for Israel became a matter of grace, no longer stipulated by contract, by law.

What is clearly missing from the restatement of the covenant is the contractual language: But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries.  For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.[10]  This was replaced by a simple unilateral statement: I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.[11]

I hesitate to call this grace (though it may qualify as election) since yehôvâh called it dread (Deuteronomy 32:26, 27 Tanakh):

I thought I would make an end of them, I would make their memory cease from among men; Were it not that I dreaded (gûr, אגור) the enemy’s provocation, lest their adversaries should misdeem, lest they should say: Our hand is exalted, and not HaShem hath wrought all this.

Accepting that the clauses missing from the restatement of the covenant are truly missing helps me to track the transition from [Sin] (chaṭṭâʼâh, חטאת; Septuagint: ἥμαρτες, a form of ἁμαρτάνω) desires (teshûqâh, תשוקתו) to dominate you, but you must subdue (mâshal, תמשל) it,[12] to Paul’s declaration to believers in Galatia (Galatians 2:20, 21 NET):

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

Who would have thought that the way to subdue or rule over sin was to die to it (Romans 6:8-11 NET)?

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God.  So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Who would have thought that the way to subdue or rule over sin was to die to the law (Romans 7:4-6 NET)?

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God.  For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.

Viewed from this perspective the worship of the golden calf and yehôvâh’s restatement of the covenant follows the pattern of Paul’s explanation to believers in Rome (Romans 5:20, 21 NET):

Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Why would anyone want transgression to increase?  This is scandalous to the religious mind.  But Jesus taught a Pharisee (Luke 7:40-47 NET):

“Simon, I have something to say to you.”  He replied, “Say it, Teacher.”  “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both.  Now which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”  Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”  Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?  I entered your house.  You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.”

Ultimately, this love from God Himself subdues and rules over sin (Romans 13:8-10 NET):

Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Jesus warned (Matthew 5:17-20 NET):

“Do not think that I have come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) the law or the prophets.  I have not come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) 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.

After explaining that the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, Paul continued (Romans 6:1-4 NET):

What shall we say then?  Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?  Absolutely not!  How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.

In other words, believers can say with Paul: We have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer we who live, but Christ lives in us.  So the life we now live in the body, we live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us.  We do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another.  But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing (ἀνακαινώσεως , a form of ἀνακαίνωσις) of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.  And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”[13]

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.[14]  This is the salvation believers in Philippi were enjoined to continue working out (Philippians 2:12-18 NET):

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed (ὑπηκούσατε, a form of ὑπακούω), not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God.  Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you.  And in the same way you also should be glad and rejoice together with me.

It is much better news than the Septuagint’s translation of Exodus 23:21b: “For he shall not hold you in undue awe, for my name is upon him.”  A table of the translations of shâmaʽ in the KJV, NET and Septuagint from Genesis through Exodus 23:22 follows.

Form of shâmaʽ Reference KJV NET Septuagint
שמע Genesis 16:11 …because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. …for the Lord has heard your painful groans. ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 21:12 hearken unto her voice… Do all that Sarah is telling you… ἄκουε, a form of ἀκούω
Genesis 21:17 …for God hath heard the voice of the lad… …for God has heard the boy’s voice… ἐπακήκοεν, another form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 24:52 …when Abraham’s servant heard their words… When Abraham’s servant heard their words… ἀκοῦσαι, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice… …this will come to pass because Abraham obeyed[15] me… ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:8 obey my voice according to that which I command thee. do exactly what I tell you! ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 27:13 …only obey my voice… Just obey me! ὑπάκουσον, another form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice… Now then, my son, do what I say. ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 29:33 Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated… Because the Lord heard that I was unloved… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 30:6 …and hath also heard my voice… He has responded to my prayer… ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 34:5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah… When Jacob heard that Shechem had violated his daughter… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 39:10 …that he hearkened not unto her… …he did not respond to her invitation… ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 42:21 …and we would not hear …but we refused to listen. εἰσηκούσαμεν a form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 42:23 …they knew not that Joseph understood them… …they did not know that Joseph could understand them… ἀκούει, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 7:13 …that he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them… εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 7:22 …neither did he hearken unto them… …and he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron…
Exodus 8:15 …and hearkened not unto them… …and did not listen to them…
Exodus 8:19 …and he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them…
Exodus 9:12 …and he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them…
Exodus 16:9 …for he hath heard your murmurings. …because he has heard your murmurings. εἰσακήκοεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 18:19 Hearken now unto my voice… Now listen to me… ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 22:23 I will surely hear their cry… I will surely hear their cry… ἀκοῇ, a form of ἀκοή
Exodus 23:22 But if thou shalt indeed obey… But if you diligently obey him…
ושמע Exodus 23:21 Beware of him, and obey his voice… Take heed because of him, and obey his voice… εἰσάκουε, another form of εἰσακούω
ישמע Exodus 6:30 …and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me? …why should Pharaoh listen to me? εἰσακούσεταί, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 7:4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you… Pharaoh will not listen to you.
Exodus 11:9 Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you… Pharaoh will not listen to you…
Exodus 19:9 …that the people may hear when I speak… …so that the people may hear when I speak… ἀκούσῃ, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 23:13 …neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. do not let them be heard on your lips. ἀκουσθῇ, another form of ἀκούω
וישמע Genesis 14:14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive… When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive… ἀκούσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 16:2 And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. Abram did what Sarai told him. ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 21:17 And God heard the voice of the lad… But God heard the boy’s voice. εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 23:16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron… So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 28:7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother… Jacob obeyed his father and mother…
Genesis 30:17 And God hearkened unto Leah… God paid attention to Leah… ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 30:22 and God hearkened to her… He paid attention to her…
Genesis 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban’s sons… Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 35:22 and Israel heard it. and Israel heard about it.
Genesis 37:21 And Reuben heard it… When Reuben heard this… ἀκούσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 45:2 and the house of Pharaoh heard. and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. ἀκουστὸν, a form of ἀκουστός
Exodus 2:15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing… When Pharaoh heard about this event… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 2:24 And God heard their groaning… God heard their groaning… εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 18:1 heard of all that God had done for Moses… heard about all that God had done for Moses… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 18:24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law… Moses listened to his father-in-law…
שמעו Genesis 37:6 Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: Listen to this dream I had: ἀκούσατε, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 43:25 they heard that they should eat bread… they had heard that they were to have a meal… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 6:9 …but they hearkened not unto Moses… …but they did not listen to him… εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 6:12 …the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me… If the Israelites did not listen to me…
Exodus 15:14 The people shall hear, and be afraid… The nations will hear and tremble… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 16:20 they hearkened not unto Moses… But they did not listen to Moses… εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
וישמעו Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice… Then the man and his wife heard the sound… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 34:24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all… …the men who assembled at the city gate agreed εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 37:27 And his brethren were content. His brothers agreed. ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 45:2 Not translated …the Egyptians heard it…
Exodus 4:31 and when they heard that the LORD… When they heard that the Lord… Not Translated
ושמעו Genesis 49:2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob… Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob… ἀκούσατε, another form of ἀκούω
and hearken unto Israel your father. listen to Israel, your father.
Exodus 3:18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: The elders will listen to you… εἰσακούσονταί, another form of εἰσακούω
ישמעו Genesis 11:7 …they may not understand one another’s speech. …they won’t be able to understand each other. ἀκούσωσιν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 4:1 …nor hearken unto my voice: …or pay attention to me… εἰσακούσωσιν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 4:8 …neither hearken to the voice of the first sign… …or pay attention to the former sign…
שמען Genesis 4:23 Hear my voice… Listen to me! ἀκούσατέ, another form of ἀκούω
ישמעון Exodus 4:9 …neither hearken unto thy voice… …or listen to you… εἰσακούσωσιν, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעת Genesis 3:17 Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife… Because you obeyed your wife… ἤκουσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 18:10 And Sarah heard it in the tent door… Now Sarah was listening at the entrance… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 22:18 …because thou hast obeyed my voice. Because you have obeyed me… ὑπήκουσας, another form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:5 And Rebekah heard[16] Now Rebekah had been listening ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 7:16 …hitherto thou wouldest not hear. But until now you have not listened. εἰσήκουσας, another form of εἰσακούω
ושמעתי Exodus 22:27 that I will hear; for I am gracious. I will hear, for I am gracious. εἰσακούσομαι, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתם Genesis 42:22 and ye would not hear? but you wouldn’t listen? εἰσηκούσατέ, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתי Genesis 3:10 I heard thy voice in the garden… I heard you moving about in the orchard… ἤκουσα, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 21:26 …neither yet heard I of it, but to day. I did not hear about it until today.
Genesis 27:6 Behold, I heard thy father… Look, I overheard your father…
Genesis 37:17 …for I heard them say… …for I heard them say…
Genesis 41:15 …and I have heard say of thee… But I have heard about you… ἀκήκοα, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 42:2 I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: I hear that there is grain in Egypt.
Exodus 3:7 and have heard their cry… I have heard their cry…
Exodus 6:5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of… I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites… εἰσήκουσα, another form of ἐπακούω
Exodus 16:12 I have heard the murmurings… I have heard the murmurings… εἰσακήκοα, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתיך Genesis 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: As for Ishmael, I have heard you. ἐπήκουσά, another form of ἐπακούω
שמעני Genesis 23:11 hear me… Hear me out. ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 23:13 I pray thee, hear me: Hear me, if you will.
Genesis 23:15 My Lord, hearken unto me: Hear me, my lord. ἀκήκοα, another form of ἀκούω
ישמעני Exodus 6:12 …how then shall Pharaoh hear me… …then how will Pharaoh listen to me… εἰσακούσεταί, another form of ἐπακούω
שמענו Genesis 23:6 Hear us, my Lord: thou art a mighty prince… Listen, sir, you are a mighty prince… ἄκουσον, another form of ἀκούω
שמעוני Genesis 23:8 hear me… then hear me out. ἀκούσατέ, another form of ἀκούω
שמוע Exodus 15:26 If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God… If you will diligently obey the Lord your God… ἀκοῇ, a form of ἀκοή
Exodus 19:5 Not translated …if you will diligently listen to me…
השמע Genesis 21:6 …so that all that hear will laugh… Everyone who hears about this will laugh… ἀκούσῃ, another form of ἀκούω
נשמע Genesis 45:16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house… Now it was reported in the household of Pharaoh… διεβοήθη, a form of διαβοάω
ונשמעה Exodus 20:19 Speak thou with us, and we will hear You speak to us and we will listen Not Translated
כשמע Genesis 27:34 And when Esau heard the words of his father… When Esau heard his father’s words… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 29:13 when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob… When Laban heard this news about Jacob…
Genesis 39:19 when his master heard the words of his wife… When his master heard his wife say…
Exodus 16:8 …for that the LORD heareth your murmurings… …because the Lord has heard your murmurings… εἰσακοῦσαι, another form of εἰσακούω
כשמעו Genesis 39:15 when he heard that I lifted up my voice… When he heard me raise my voice… ἀκοῦσαι, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 16:7 for that he heareth your murmurings… because he has heard your murmurings… εἰσακοῦσαι, another form of εἰσακούω
כשמעם Genesis 34:7 when they heard it: when they heard the news. ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
וכשמעו Genesis 24:30 and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying… and heard his sister Rebekah say… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
תשמע Genesis 41:15 …that thou canst understand a dream… Not translated ἀκούσαντά, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 15:26 If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God… If you will diligently obey the Lord your God… ἀκούσῃς, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 23:22 But if thou shalt indeed obey But if you diligently obey him… ἀκούσητε, another form of ἀκούω
תשמעו Genesis 34:17 But if ye will not hearken unto us… But if you do not agree to our terms… εἰσακούσητε, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 19:5 …if ye will obey my voice… …if you will diligently listen to me… ἀκούσητε, another form of ἀκούω
אשמע Exodus 5:2 Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice… Who is the Lord that I should obey him… εἰσακούσομαι, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 22:23 …I will surely hear their cry… …I will surely hear their cry…

[1] I used the second spelling (nâsâh) offered in Strong’s Concordance in the tables and in a previous essay, which confused me when I linked to the Hebrew dictionary.

[2] John 12:47 (NIV)

[3] 1 Timothy 4:13 (NET)

[4] Luke 1:13 (NET)

[5] John 3:36 (NKJV)

[6] Acts 20:20a (NET)

[7] Exodus 23:21b (NETS)  The Tanakh reads: for he will not pardon your transgression; for My name is in him.

[8] I won’t argue that the angel’s purpose was to keep believing Israelites within the covenant, though I considered it.

[9] In these essays I’ve used several names for the Hebrew יהוה.  Admittedly, I was being catty when I used Jehovah to obliquely reference the undercurrent in religious thought that Jesus died to save us from an evil god.  I abandoned the name Yahweh for reasons akin to the genetic fallacy: I learned Yahweh from Nietzsche.  He was not only an atheist but a philologist as well.  I settled on yehôvâh because it was in Strong’s Concordance, the same source I’ve used for all the other Hebrew words addressed in these essays.  Subsequently I’ve come across an argument favoring Yahweh on YAHWEH’S restoration ministry online in an article titled “The Yehovah Deception: Reinventing a Misnomer.”

The most succinct form of their argument reads: “As confirmed by the Jewish Talmud, hundreds of years before the birth of Yahshua the Messiah the Jews stopped pronouncing the divine Name and began concealing it by reading the vowel points from Adonai into the Tetragrammaton.  The motivation behind this practice was not from irreverence but through a strong veneration for the Name.  They were afraid that if it were pronounced, someone might misuse or blaspheme the Name.  Part of this hesitation doubtless arose from their time in Babylon.  While their reasoning was admirable, it is against the clear teachings of Scripture.”

I find that argument plausible and discouraging.  My own working hypothesis concerning the Masoretes was that they were generally honorable when dealing with the words of Scripture but may have shaded the meaning of certain Hebrew words a bit to defend Jewish religion from Christian scholarship.  As a working hypothesis it limited the search field to points of contention.  The idea that they may be the heirs of those who deliberately corrupted the name of God with vowels from a different word offers no limit to the mischief they may have perpetrated on words of lesser importance.  If true, a searchable list of Hebrew homographs is no mere convenience but an absolute necessity for Old Testament study.  Creating such a list is well beyond my abilities.

My only purpose in using yehôvâh is to remind myself that Lord is not the word used in Scripture.  I was taught from the pulpit that it is disrespectful to call Jesus by name, that Paul called Him Lord, though now I think that was Paul’s way of designating Him yehôvâh (Isaiah 45:18-23; Romans 14:10-12; Philippians 2:5-11; John 5:22, 23).  So for the time being I’ll continue using yehôvâh since I definitely don’t believe the name of God is a magical incantation that must be pronounced correctly for the magic to work.

[10] Exodus 23:22, 23 (NET)

[11] Exodus 33:2 (NET)

[12] Genesis 4:7b (NET)  Here, the Tanakh presents the subduing of sin as a comforting possibility rather than an imperative: …and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it (Genesis 4:7b Tanakh).  The Septuagint comforted Cain that he would once again rule over Abel (if he offered the appropriate sacrifice): “Be still, his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him” (Genesis 4:7b NETS).

[13] Titus 3:3-7 (NET)

[14] Romans 10:10, 11 (KJV)

[15] So then faith comes by hearing (ἀκοῆς, a form of ἀκοή), and hearing (ἀκοὴ, another form of ἀκοή) by the word of God (Romans 10:17 NKJV).  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws (ἑλκύσῃ, a form of ἑλκύω) him (John 6:44a NET)…  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw (ἑλκύσω, another form of ἑλκύω) all people to myself.

[16] For it is not those who hear (ἀκροαταὶ, a form of ἀκροατής) the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous (Romans 2:13 NET).  This is an interesting example.  Relative to Isaac’s word Rebekah was a hearer only because she did everything in her power to deceive her husband and change the outcome of his word.  But was she hearing/obeying yehôvâh (Genesis 25:21-26) instead?  Was her deception necessary?  Would we be reading the history of Esau/Israel rather than Jacob/Israel without it?  Or would yehôvâh have chosen (Malachi 1:1-5) Jacob even if Isaac had blessed Esau as he intended (Romans 9:10-18)?  Was Rebekah’s deception righteous?  Or might her faith have been counted as righteousness (Romans 4:1-5)?

My Reasons and My Reason, Part 8

Considering walking in the light led me back here to try to bring this series of essays to some sort of conclusion.  Much as I might like something more definitive, this—like the rest of my life—will be more in-process.  But it highlights the advantage of taking notes by writing essays.

While it was probably good for me to type out Scripture verses and passages (copy and paste came later) and salutary to suspend my own judgments until a sufficient quantity of God’s own thoughts had washed over and through me, the notes that resulted from this exercise were simply typed lists of Scripture passages bound together only by the Greek or Hebrew word they shared.  Though it shaped my understanding of the Greek or Hebrew word in question, once the meaning of the exercise dimmed in memory my notes didn’t help me recall it.  Writing essays forces me to translate the gestalt that forms from word studies into a linear pattern of words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs that I can return to again and again as new patterns emerge.

This essay begins for all practical purposes with my divorce from my second wife (third wife if you’re willing to count my high school girlfriend).  One of the reasons she divorced me was stated: “I don’t like your sexuality.  And when I do, I don’t like myself.”

I’m persuaded a decade or so later—knowing we get along just fine now that sex and living together are off the table—that it wasn’t female emotional-speak, when a man should hear the emotion conveyed by the words rather than their literal content.  She was a poet, speaking content and feeling in a few precise words.  When I heard them I became the submissive sadist who had goaded her into a discomforting situation.

I was under the most extreme emotional duress, rejected again by another wife after having been accepted (including my masochistic sexuality).  I had believed she was God’s gift to me, that He had given me the desire of my heart and He was about to take that gift away, albeit through my inability to please a wife.  I don’t expect that He will ever taunt Satan with words like, Have you considered my servant Dan?  There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.[1]  I was in no shape to say blessed be the name of the Lord.[2]  That was accomplished entirely by the Holy Spirit.  He flooded Paul’s definition of love back into my mind (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NET):

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious.  Love does not brag, it is not puffed up.  It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.  It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.   

That’s not to say that it had ever left entirely.  To Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind[3] and to Love your neighbor as yourself,[4] it’s nice to know what love is.  But under extreme emotional duress Paul’s definition became my mantra.

The obvious advantage of this is that Paul’s definition of love coincides absolutely with the fruit of the Holy Spirit: the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control[5] He is ever-producing in the believer, like a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.[6]  Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.  Just as the scripture says, From within him will flow rivers of living water.’”[7]  And whatever the flow rate in ordinary times I’m convinced He increases it in times of duress, emotional or otherwise.

Though I was completely wrong the first time I was divorced to think that I could love like God and fulfill the law by turning Paul’s definition of love into rules I would obey in my own strength, the Holy Spirit was not wrong to make that definition my mantra.  It reminds me of another mantra from the movie The Patriot.

It comes at the turning point for widower and war veteran Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson).  He has avoided being dragged back into war until now.  He and his two younger sons Nathan (Trevor Morgan) and Samuel (Bryan Chafin) prepare an ambush for the Redcoats who have captured his eldest son Gabriel (Heath Ledger).  “What did I tell you fellas about shooting,” Benjamin asks his obviously frightened young sons.  “Aim small, miss small,” they respond in unison.  Benjamin prays, “Lord make me fast and accurate.”  Nathan repeats “aim small, miss small” as a mantra to steady his breathing.

When I consider sin as a missing of the mark,[8] “aim small, miss small” has a lot to do with how Paul’s definition of love worked as a mantra of righteousness.  A bit of impatience with God or my wife was a long way from atheism or murder.  Aiming at kindness kept the worst of my bitter diatribes at bay.  A little envy did not lead to adultery.  None of these small misses were quite as devastating as missing the absolutes of God’s law.  Paul’s definition of love may well be the God-ordained hedge about the law working in consonance with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Still, here I am with a desire for that combination of humiliation, pain and pleasure called masochism.  Now, admittedly, I have no desire for missionary-position sex with somebody’s grandmother.  Maybe this is the way sexual desire dies, most kinky last.  I don’t honestly know.  But it leads me aside here to another consideration.

Paul wrote believers in Rome (Romans 8:12-14 NET):

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.

The Greek word translated you put to death was θανατοῦτε (a form of θανατόω).  I’ve been frustrated at times not knowing how to behead, stab, shoot or poison the practices of the body (πράξεις τοῦ σώματος), as distinguished from the works of the flesh (ἔργα τῆς σαρκός).  In the past believers tried asceticism.  Today psychology is all the rage.  But I think that θανατοῦτε is a bit more passive than its English translation may seem.

Brother will hand over (Παραδώσει, a form of παραδίδωμι) brother to death, Jesus prophesied, and a father his child.  Children will rise against parents and have them put to death (θανατώσουσιν, another form of θανατόω).[9]  Here θανατώσουσιν was associated with Παραδώσει, “to give into the hands (of another).”  The brother, the father and the children would not kill directly but surrender their victims to another authority.  And I think that pattern holds.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death (θανατώσωσιν, another form of θανατόω).[10]  When it was early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to execute (θανατῶσαι, another form of θανατόω) him.[11]  But when it got right down to it the chief priests and elders handed him over (παρέδωκαν, another form of παραδίδωμι) to Pilate the governor.[12]  Even Pilate handed him over (παρέδωκεν, another form of παραδίδωμι) [to others] to be crucified.[13]  I am to put to death the [practices[14]] of the body by the Spirit (πνεύματι, a form of πνεῦμα, dative case).

If I leave the killing to God, suddenly his beyond intimate knowledge of me as an individual is comforting rather than a threat.  Let the Creator and Lover of my soul perform the spiritual equivalent of neurosurgery in his own time with his own steady hand.  My part is to hand the practices of the body over to Him.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.

I do, however, recognize another desire of my heart, a desire to do word studies in the Bible to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent.[15]  When I spent countless hours typing Scripture passages, or even copying and pasting them, though I wanted and needed to do it, I felt guilty about all the time I “wasted.”  I should have been making money or music or doing something “good.”  What I’ve learned from all that I’ve suffered is that studying God’s word is doing something good.

Now I have more time off from work than I can actually afford.  Bible study is not only good for me and the thing I look most forward to being off work to do, it is the most economical way to spend idle time.  Also, it is time spent when every inclination of the thoughts of [my mind] is not only evil (raʽ, רע) all the time.[16]  Yes, I have learned a more circumspect view of who and what I am now, as well as my own capacity for doing good (apart from being led by the Holy Spirit).  Why do you call me good? Jesus asked the ἄρχωνNo one is good except God alone.[17]

Of course He chooses which of the desires (mishʼâlâh, משאלת; Septuagint: αἰτήματα, a form of αἴτημα) of my heart (lêb, לבך; Septuagint: καρδίας, a form of καρδία) to grant and which to kill.  The heart (lêb, הלב; Septuagint: καρδία) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  I the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה) search the heart (lêb, לב; Septuagint: καρδίας, a form of καρδία), I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.[18]

If I’m honest about it, almost the last thing I would desire now is a wife to disrupt my Bible study routine.  So, unless I plan to attempt a biblical justification for hiring a dominatrix, my masochism will just have to wither away.  Though I failed to find a definitive “masochism is sin”[19] in Scripture I think my life has demonstrated that for me at least masochism is not beneficial (συμφέρει, a form of συμφέρω).  And I’ve spent the better part of a lifetime coming even to that tentative conclusion.  I can certainly afford to be a little patient with the sexual obsessions of others.

I’ve written about Chad Allen before and won’t repeat it here.  The love and grace he demonstrated toward his accusers as producer and actor of Save Me deeply affected me and I loved him, though we had never met.  “The final thing the movie did for me was introduce me to the Gay Christian Network,” I wrote.

While not untrue it was perhaps misleading since the Gay Christian Network was nothing more than the Scriptural musings of Justin Lee to me.  I didn’t always agree with Mr. Lee’s conclusions but his process gave me confidence that the Holy Spirit would work in anyone pursuing God through his word that way.  Now that he has moved on to other endeavors the Gay Christian Network became the writings of Isaac Archuleta to me.  I admit to being somewhat less sanguine about his more psychological approach.

So, can I live in a world where my heart’s desire to do word studies in the Bible is granted while my heart’s desire to enjoy hot, kinky sex with a loving wife is strangled?  The simple answer is no—not on my own, not apart from the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  This brings me back to Habakkuk.  He didn’t describe the fruit of the spirit as a river or a fountain of living water but as the feet of a deer (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV):

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights (NASB: And makes me walk on my high places).

As a coda to this essay: My eighty-six-year-old mother fell again and broke her arm.  My ex-wife is staying with her until I can get there.

Back to Jedidiah, Part 2

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 11

[1] Job 1:8 (NET)

[2] Job 1:21b (KJV)

[3] Matthew 22:37 (NET)

[4] Matthew 22:39 (NET)

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

[6] John 4:14b (NET)

[7] John 7:37b, 38 (NET)

[8] Greek: ἁμαρτάνω; Hebrew: châṭâʼ (חָטָא)

[9] Matthew 10:21 (NET)

[10] Matthew 26:59 (NET)

[11] Matthew 27:1 (NET)

[12] Matthew 27:2b (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:26b (NET)

[14] πράξεις (a form of πρᾶξις) is from the verb πράσσω, “to ‘practise’, that is, perform repeatedly or habitually.”  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done (ἔπραξεν, a form of πράσσω) while in the body, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10 NET).

[15] John 17:3b (NET)

[16] Genesis 6:5b (NET)

[17] Luke 18:19 (NET)

[18] Jeremiah 17:9, 10 (Tanakh)

[19] I might try again at another time with a word study of ἀσέλγεια.

Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 3

I bogged down in this study a couple of years ago.  I don’t remember whether I balked at how much work it would be or simply recognized the futility of studying ʽâbar alone.  I’ll start again comparing and contrasting ʽâbar with nâsâh.

The translators of the Septuagint chose twenty-two different Greek words for fifty-four occurrences of nâsâh (only fifty-three were actually translated) from Genesis 4:13 through Exodus 19:4 (see table below).  They worked very hard to refine and communicate their own understanding in Greek, which only served to obscure yehôvâh’s mind if I fail to recognize the one Hebrew word—nâsâh—behind all that refinement.

The most concrete meaning of nâsâh is to bear, to lift or carry.  Both lift and carry are evident in: And the people took (nâsâh, וישׁא; Septuagint: ἀνέλαβεν, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω) their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.[1]  But neither took nor ἀνέλαβεν fully convey the idea of lifting and carrying if I don’t already know nâsâh.

What was important to the translators was that the people took their dough with them before it was leavened.  Intended as a corrective, perhaps, even that added emphasis didn’t prevent religious minds from imbuing unleavened bread with spiritual significance beyond the haste of Israel’s exodus from Egypt (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8 NET):

Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough – you are, in fact, without yeast.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

The concrete meaning of nâsâh prevailed in the phrase lift up one’s eyes (Genesis 13:10, 14; 18:2; 22:4, 13; 24:63, 64; 31:10, 12; 33:1, 5; 37:25; 43:29; Exodus 14:10).  It was a bit more abstract in lift up one’s voice (Genesis 21:16; 27:38; 29:11) or lift up one’s feet (Genesis 29:1).  While I lifted up My hand[2] was translated concretely in the Tanakh, it was translated I swore in the NET and I did swear in the KJV.  I want to keep these variations in mind as I consider six occurrences translated forgive or forgiven.

The relatively contemporary translators of the Tanakh, the KJV and the NET all agreed that Cain was not spiritually aware enough to lament his iniquity: My punishment is greater than I can bear[3] (NET: too great to endure), he said in these translations.  The more ancient translators of the Septuagint translated ʽâvôn αἰτία and nâsâh ἀφεθῆναί (a form of ἀφίημι) which a relatively contemporary translator rendered My guilt is too great for me to be forgiven[4] in English.

Of the five occurrences of ʽâvôn in Genesis 4:13 through Exodus 20:5 (see table below) one was translated αἰτία, one ἀδικίαν (a form of ἀδικία), one ἀνομίαις (a form of ἀνομία) and two with forms of ἁμαρτία.  The most concrete meaning of forms of ἁμαρτία is found in its verb form ἁμαρτάνω, “to miss the mark.”  In the occurrence translated ἁμαρτίαι (Genesis 15:16) before Exodus 20, what mark was missed before the law was given?  I would not have known sin (ἁμαρτίαν, another form of ἁμαρτία), Paul wrote believers in Rome, except through the law.[5]  But sin (ἁμαρτία), seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires.[6]

I’ve questioned the idea of ἁμαρτία seizing the opportunity through the commandment in the context of Cain’s murder of his brother Abel.  But if the NET translation of Genesis 4:7b (see comparison below) is more correct than that of the Septuagint (namely, that Cain would rule again over Abel if Cain offered the correct sacrifice), then yehôvâh’s words, you must subdue sin (chaṭṭâʼâh, חטאת; Septuagint: ἥμαρτες, a form of ἁμαρτάνω), would serve as the commandment ἁμαρτία seized, for before the law was given, sin (ἁμαρτία) was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin (ἁμαρτία) when there is no law.[7]

NETS NET
Be still; his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him. …sin is crouching at the door.  It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.

The translators of the Septuagint seemed to acknowledge a problem with ἁμαρτία prior to the law with the word ἀδικίαν: G-d hath found out the iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון; Septuagint: ἀδικίαν; NETS: injustice; NET: the sin) of thy servants[8]  The iniquity that concerned Joseph’s brothers wasn’t stealing his silver goblet (44:2).  They knew Benjamin hadn’t taken it but suspected (Genesis 43:18-23) that it had been placed there by the Egyptian’s (e.g., Joseph’s) servant to entrap them.  They had reasoned that yehôvâh was behind their difficulties with the Egyptian and that their iniquity was their injustice toward their younger brother Joseph (Genesis 42:21-23 Tanakh):

And they said one to another: ‘We are verily guilty (ʼâshêm, אשמים; Septuagint: ἐν ἁμαρτίᾳ) concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear (shâmaʽ, שמענו); therefore is this distress come upon us.’  And Reuben answered them, saying: ‘Spoke I not unto you, saying: Do not sin (châṭâʼ, תחטאו; Septuagint: ἀδικήσητε, a form of ἀδικέω) against the child; and ye would not hear (shâmaʽ, שמעתם)? therefore also, behold, his blood is required.’  And they knew not that Joseph understood (shâmaʽ, שמע) them; for the interpreter was between them.

They had not disobeyed a law: Thou shalt not sell thy brother into slavery.  But they had not dealt justly with their little brother, whether a tattletale, a braggart (Genesis 37:5-11) or a father’s favorite.  And I realize here that I am regarding iniquity (ʽâvôn) more like Jesus’ and Paul’s description of the flesh than like a sin, a missing of a mark.  What is born of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ) is flesh (σάρξ), Jesus said, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[9]  For when we were in the flesh (σαρκί, another form of σάρξ), Paul wrote believers in Rome, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.[10]  Paul continued (Romans 8:5-8 NET):

For those who live according to the flesh (σάρκα, another form of σάρξ) have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ), but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.  For the outlook of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ) is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ) 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 (σαρκί, another form of σάρξ) cannot please (ἀρέσαι οὐ δύνανται) God.

The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, yehôvâh told Abraham, and their sin (chaṭṭâʼâh, וחטאתם; Septuagint: ἁμαρτίαι, another form of ἁμαρτία) so blatant that I must go down and see if they are as wicked as the outcry suggests.  If not, I want to know.[11]  Will you sweep away the godly along with the wicked? Abraham asked.  What if there are fifty godly people in the city?  Will you really wipe it out and not spare (nâsâh, תשׁא) the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it?[12]

In the Tanakh nâsâh was translated forgive rather than spare.  In the Septuagint it was translated ἀνήσεις (a form of ἀνίημι) which was translated go free in the NETS.  Abraham asked yehôvâh to bear the sin (chaṭṭâʼâh, וחטאתם) of the majority of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of fifty hypothetical godly (tsaddı̂yq, צדיקם; Septuagint: δίκαιοι, a form of δίκαιος; Tanakh, KJV, NETS: righteous) people who may or may not reside there, then forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty and ten.  And yehôvâh agreed to Abraham’s proposition: If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will forgive (nâsâh, ונשׁאתי; Septuagint: ἀφήσω, another form of ἀφίημι; NETS: I will forgive; KJV, NET: I will spare) all the place for their sake.[13]

I don’t mean to imply that forgive was a bad translation of nâsâh here.  I do intend to highlight the nature of this forgiveness as primarily forbearance on yehôvâh’s part, and to stress that it is only part, a very necessary part, of the forgiveness I hope for from Him.

Joseph’s brothers sought the same forbearance from Joseph after Jacob’s death: “What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay us in full for all the harm we did to him?”[14]  So they sent word to Joseph, saying (Genesis 50:16, 17a NET):

“Your father gave these instructions before he died: ‘Tell Joseph this: Please forgive (nâsâh, שׁא; Septuagint: ἄφες, another form of ἀφίημι; Tanakh, KJV, NETS: forgive) the sin of your brothers and the wrong they did when they treated you so badly.’  Now please forgive (nâsâh, שׁא; Septuagint: δέξαι, a form of δέχομαι; Tanakh, KJV: forgive; NETS: accept) the sin of the servants of the God of your father.”

Though they asked for forbearance I think one could argue that they received so much more (Genesis 50:19-21 NET):

But Joseph answered them, “Don’t be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.  So now, don’t be afraid.  I will provide for you and your little children.”  Then he consoled them and spoke kindly to them.

Pharoah asked for a similar forbearance: Then Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you!  So now, forgive (nâsâh, שׁא; Septuagint: προσδέξασθε, a form of προσδέχομαι; Tanakh, KJV: forgive; NETS: bear) my sin this time only, and pray to the Lord your God that he would only take this death away from me.”[15]

Moses extended his staff over the land of Egypt, and then the Lord brought an east wind on the land all that day and all night.  The morning came, and the east wind had brought up (nâsâh, נשׁא) the locusts![16]  The death (mâveth, המות) Pharaoh asked Moses to pray that yehôvâh would takeaway was those locusts: Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, and the Lord turned a very strong west wind, and it picked up (nâsâh, וישׁא) the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea.  Not one locust remained in all the territory of Egypt.[17]

No matter what I think of Cain’s spiritual competence, The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) would speak to Moses face to face, the way a person speaks to a friend.[18]  Moses wrote the words we read in Genesis.  With the first occurrences of both ʽâvôn and nâsâh a son of Adam spoke words that may legitimately be translated, “my iniquity is greater than I can bear.”[19]  That sounds like something I can work with as I continue this study.

I found no occurrence of ʽâbar in this section (Genesis 1:1 – Exodus 20:5) that was, or should have been, translated forgive (see table below).

Form of nâsâh Reference KJV NET Septuagint
מנשׁא Genesis 4:13 …My punishment is greater than I can bear. My punishment is too great to endure! ἀφεθῆναί, a form of ἀφίημι
וישׁאו Genesis 7:17 …and the waters increased, and bare up the ark… As the waters increased, they lifted the ark… ἐπῆρεν, a form of ἐπαίρω
Genesis 37:25 and they lifted up their eyes and looked… …they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites… ἀναβλέψαντες, a form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 42:26 And they laded their asses with the corn… So they loaded their grain on their donkeys… ἐπιθέντες, a form of ἐπιτίθημι
Genesis 46:5 …and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father… …and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob… ἀνέλαβον, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Genesis 50:13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him… His sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him… ἀνέλαβον, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Exodus 14:10 …the children of Israel lifted up their eyes… Not translated ἀναβλέψαντες, a form of ἀναβλέπω
נשׁא Genesis 13:6 And the land was not able to bear them… But the land could not support them… ἐχώρει, a form of χωρέω
Exodus 10:13 …the east wind brought the locusts. …the east wind had brought up the locusts! ἀνέλαβεν, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
שׁא Genesis 13:14 Lift up now thine eyes… Not translated ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 27:3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow… Therefore, take your weapons – your quiver and your bow… λαβὲ, a form of λαμβάνω
Genesis 31:12 Lift up now thine eyes, and see… Not translated ἀνάβλεψον, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 50:17 Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren… Please forgive the sin of your brothers… ἄφες, another form of ἀφίημι
Genesis 50:17 forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. Now please forgive the sin of the servants of the God of your father. δέξαι, a form of δέχομαι
Exodus 10:17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once… So now, forgive my sin this time only… προσδέξασθε, a form of προσδέχομαι
שׁאי Genesis 21:18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand… Get up! Help the boy up and hold him by the hand… λαβὲ, a form of λαμβάνω
ישׁא Genesis 32:20 …peradventure he will accept of me. Perhaps he will accept me. προσδέξεται, another form of προσδέχομαι
Genesis 40:13 …within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head… Not translated μνησθήσεται, a form of μιμνήσκω
Genesis 40:19 …within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head… Not translated ἀφελεῖ, a form of ἀφαιρέω
וישׁא Genesis 13:10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain… Lot looked up and saw the whole region… ἐπάρας, a form of ἐπαίρω
Genesis 18:2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men… Abraham looked up and saw three men… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 22:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes… Not translated ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 22:13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram… Abraham looked up and saw behind him a ram… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 24:63 and he lifted up his eyes, and saw… Not translated ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 27:38 And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. Not translated ἀνεβόησεν, a form of ἀναβοάω
Genesis 29:1[20] Then Jacob went on his journey… So Jacob moved on… ἐξάρας, a form of ἐξαίρω
Genesis 29:11 and lifted up his voice, and wept. Not translated βοήσας, a form of βοάω
Genesis 31:17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels… So Jacob immediately put his children and his wives on the camels. ἔλαβεν, another form of λαμβάνω
Genesis 33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked… Jacob looked up and saw that Esau was… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 33:5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children… When Esau looked up and saw the women and the children… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 40:20 and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker… He “lifted up” the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief… ἐμνήσθη, another form of μιμνήσκω
Genesis 43:29 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin… When Joseph looked up and saw his brother Benjamin… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 43:34 And he took and sent messes unto them from before him… He gave them portions of the food set before him… ἦραν, a form of αἴρω
Exodus 10:19 which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea… and it picked up the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea. ἀνέλαβεν, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Exodus 12:34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened… So the people took their dough before the yeast was added… ἀνέλαβεν, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
תשׁא Genesis 18:24 …and not spare the place for the fifty righteous… …and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty godly people… ἀνήσεις, a form of ἀνίημι
שׁאת Genesis 44:1 …with food, as much as they can carry …as much food as they can carry ἆραι, another form of αἴρω
ותשׁא Genesis 21:16 and lift up her voice, and wept. Not translated ἀναβοῆσαν, another form of ἀναβοάω
Genesis 24:64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac… Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac. ἀναβλέψασα, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 31:10 that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream… Not translated Not translated

εἶδον, a form of ὁράω

Genesis 39:7 …that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph… …his master’s wife took notice of Joseph… ἐπέβαλεν, a form of ἐπιβάλλω
ונשׁאו Exodus 18:22 …and they shall bear the burden with thee. …and they will bear the burden with you. κουφιοῦσιν, a form of κουφίζω
ונשׁאתי Genesis 18:26 then I will spare all the place for their sakes. I will spare the whole place for their sake. ἀφήσω, another form of ἀφίημι
ונשׁאתני Genesis 47:30 and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace… carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place. ἀρεῖς, another form of αἴρω
ונשׁאתם Genesis 45:19 and bring your father, and come. Bring your father and come. ἀναλαβόντες, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
נשׁאת Genesis 45:23 …ten she asses laden with corn… …ten female donkeys loaded with grain… αἰρούσας, another form of αἴρω
נשׁאתי Genesis 19:21 I have accepted thee concerning this thing also… I will grant this request too and will not overthrow the town you mentioned. ἐθαύμασά, a form of θαυμάζω
Exodus 6:8[21] …the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham… I will bring you to the land I swore to give to Abraham… ἐξέτεινα τὴν χεῖρά μου[22]
נשׁאים Genesis 37:25 …with their camels bearing spicery… Their camels were carrying spices… ἔγεμον, a form of γέμω
Genesis 45:23 …ten asses laden with the good things… …ten donkeys loaded with the best products… αἴροντας, another form of αἴρω
לשׁאת Genesis 36:7 …and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them… …the land where they had settled was not able to support them… φέρειν, a form of φέρω
Genesis 45:27 …the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him… …the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him… ἀναλαβεῖν, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Genesis 46:5 …the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. …the wagons that Pharaoh had sent along to transport him. ἀνέλαβον, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
ואשׁא Exodus 19:4 and how I bare you on eagles’ wings… and how I lifted you on eagles’ wings… ἀνέλαβον, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω

 

Form of ʽâvôn Reference KJV NET Septuagint
עוני Genesis 4:13 My punishment is greater than I can bear. My punishment is too great to endure! αἰτία[23]
עון Genesis 15:16 …for the iniquity of the Amorites is not…[24] …for the sin of the Amorites has not yet… ἁμαρτίαι, a form of ἁμαρτία
Genesis 44:16 …found out the iniquity of thy servants… …God has exposed the sin of your servants! ἀδικίαν, a form of ἀδικία
Exodus 20:5 …visiting[25] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… …responding to the transgression of fathers… ἁμαρτίας, a form of ἁμαρτία
בעון Genesis 19:15 …be consumed in the iniquity of the city. …will be destroyed when the city is judged! ἀνομίαις, a form of ἀνομία
Form of ʽâbar Reference KJV NET Septuagint
עבר Genesis 15:17 …a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. …a flaming torch passed between the animal parts. διῆλθον, a form of διέρχομαι
Genesis 23:16 current money with the merchant. according to the standard measurement at the time. δοκίμου, a form of δόκιμος
Genesis 32:31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him… The sun rose over him as he crossed over Penuel… παρῆλθεν, a form of παρέρχομαι
Genesis 33:3 And he passed over before them… But Jacob himself went on ahead of them… προῆλθεν, a form of προέρχομαι
Exodus 17:5 Go on before the people… Go over before the people… προπορεύου, a form of προπορεύομαι
יעבר Genesis 33:14 Let my Lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: Let my lord go on ahead of his servant. προελθέτω, another form of προέρχομαι
Exodus 15:16 …till thy people pass over, O LORD… …until your people pass by, O Lord… παρέλθῃ, another form of παρέρχομαι
…till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. …until the people whom you have bought pass by. παρέλθῃ, another form of παρέρχομαι
עברו Genesis 32:16 Pass over before me… Pass over before me… προπορεύεσθε, a form of προπορεύομαι
עברתי Genesis 32:10 …I passed over this Jordan… I crossed the Jordan… διέβην, a form of διαβαίνω
עברתם Genesis 18:5 …for therefore are ye come to your servant. …since you have passed by your servant’s home. ἐξεκλίνατε, a form of ἐκκλίνω
ועבר Exodus 12:23[26] For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians… For the Lord will pass through to strike Egypt… παρελεύσεται, another form of παρέρχομαι
ויעבר Genesis 8:1 and God made a wind to pass over the earth… God caused a wind to blow over the earth… Not translated

ἐπὶ

Genesis 12:6 And Abram passed through the land… Abram traveled through the land… διώδευσεν, a form of διοδεύω
Genesis 31:21 and passed over the river… He quickly crossed the Euphrates River… διέβη, another form of διαβαίνω
Genesis 32:22 and passed over the ford Jabbok. and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. διέβη, another form of διαβαίνω
Genesis 32:23 and sent over that he had. Not translated διεβίβασεν,[27] a form of διαβιβάζω[28]
Genesis 41:46 and went throughout all the land of Egypt. and was in charge of all the land of Egypt. διῆλθεν, another form of διέρχομαι
ויעברו Genesis 37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen… So when the Midianite merchants passed by παρεπορεύοντο, a form of παραπορεύομαι
Genesis 50:4 And when the days of his mourning were past When the days of mourning had passed παρῆλθον, another form of παρέρχομαι
ויעברם Genesis 32:23 and sent them over the brook… and sent them across the stream… διέβη, another form of διαβαίνω
ועברתי Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt… I will pass through the land of Egypt… διελεύσομαι, another form of διέρχομαι
תעבר Genesis 18:3 pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: …do not pass by and leave your servant. παρέλθῃς, another form[29] of παρέρχομαι
Genesis 31:52 …thou shalt not pass over this heap… …you will not pass beyond this pile… διαβῇς, another form of διαβαίνω
ותעבר Genesis 32:21 So went the present over before him… So the gifts were sent on ahead of him… παρεπορεύοντο, a form of παραπορεύομαι
והעברת Exodus 13:12 That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix… then you must give over to the Lord the first offspring… ἀφελεῖς, a form of ἀφαιρέω
העביר Genesis 47:21 he removed them to cities from one end… Not translated κατεδουλώσατο, a form of καταδουλόω
תעברו Genesis 18:5 …after that ye shall pass on: After that you may be on your way. παρελεύσεσθε, another form of παρέρχομαι
אעבר Genesis 30:32 I will pass through all thy flock to day… Let me walk among all your flocks today… παρελθάτω, another form of παρέρχομαι
Genesis 31:52 …I will not pass over this heap… …I will not pass beyond this pile… διαβῶ, another form of διαβαίνω

[1] Exodus 12:34 (Tanakh)

[2] Exodus 6:8 (Tanakh)

[3] Genesis 4:13 (Tanakh, KJV)

[4] Genesis 4:13 (NETS)

[5] Romans 7:7b (NET)

[6] Romans 7:8a (NET)

[7] Romans 5:13 (NET)

[8] Genesis 44:16b (Tanakh)

[9] John 3:6 (NET)

[10] Romans 7:5 (NET)

[11] Genesis 18:20, 21 (NET)

[12] Genesis 18:23, 24 (NET)

[13] Genesis 18:26 (Tanakh)

[14] Genesis 50:15b (NET)

[15] Exodus 10:16, 17 (NET)

[16] Exodus 10:13 (NET)

[17] Exodus 10:18, 19 (NET)

[18] Exodus 33:11a (NET)

[19] I’ve phrased this in a way that scarcely disguises my assumption, based on an argument I wouldn’t know how to defend, that Hebrew was not the original language Cain spoke with yehôvâh.

[20] “And Iakob, lifting up his feet…” Genesis 29:1 (NETS)

[21]I lifted up My hand” Tanakh

[22] I stretched out my hand  Exodus 6:8 (NETS)

[23] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/ait.html#aitia

[24] Septuagint: ἀναπεπλήρωνται, a form of ἀναπληρόω

[25] Septuagint: ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι

[26] The Hebrew for Passover is pâsach (ופסח) rather than a form of ʽâbar but in Greek in the Septuagint both words are παρελεύσεται, another form of παρέρχομαι, though Exodus 12:12 was translated διελεύσομαι, another form of διέρχομαι.

[27] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/diab.html#diabibazw

[28] http://en.bab.la/dictionary/greek-english/%CE%B4%CE%B9%CE%B1%CE%B2%CE%B9%CE%B2%CE%AC%CE%B6%CF%89

[29] http://studybible.info/LXX_WH/Genesis%2018:3

Sexual Immorality Revisited, Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of ἀφίημι Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

Form of διδάσκω Reference KJV

NET

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

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

Form of πλανᾷ

Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of πορνεύω Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

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

Form of πορνεία Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of θυμός Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to My Deeds, Part 1

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

[2] Mark 10:9 (KJV)

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

[4] John 17:3 (NASB)

[5] John 4:16b (NET)

[6] John 4:17a (NET)

[7] John 4:18a (NET)

[8] Revelation 2:20a (NET)

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

[10] Revelation 2:20b (NET)

[11] Matthew 24:24 (NET)

[12] Revelation 2:20c (NET)

[13] Revelation 2:21 (NET)

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

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

[16] Matthew 19:3b (NET)

[17] John 8:41b (NET)

[18] Acts 15:20b (NET)

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

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

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

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

[23] Revelation 17:18 (NET)

[24] John 8:3a (NET)

[25] John 8:4 (NET)

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

[27] Revelation 2:22 (NET)

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)

Conclusion

“Satan deceives people with the Progressive Sanctification heresy, which means that sinners gradually become holy after they believe in Jesus…

The crux of this theory is gradual sanctification. It sounds great that man can believe in Jesus and gradually become a holier Christian. This theory has deceived many Christians over the years, making them feel secure. It sounds almost like we work our way to heaven. That’s one reason why there are so many Pharisaical, holier-than-thou Christians in Christendom.”[1]

I stumbled across this quote on “Denny’s Christian Writings” blog late into writing an essay partially about being deceived by a progressive sanctification heresy.  I believed progressive sanctification was entirely up to me—with Jesus’ help, of course.  But it never made me feel secure because I sucked at it wholesale.  I was definitely Pharisaical but holier-than-no-one.  And I hungered and thirsted for righteousness.

I didn’t feel very blessed.  In fact, it reminded me of the pagan myth of the punishment of Tantalus.  I’ve spent as much time, I suppose, as anyone trying to deny or anesthetize that hunger and thirst.  I even wished it away with thoughts like “Denny’s” abandon-hope-all-ye-who-enter-here attitude toward 1 Peter 1:15, 16 (KJV):

“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” We are told here to be holy, to be Christ-like, but is anyone really Christ-like? Not in this life in the flesh. We should endeavor to be holy as Christ is holy, but Romans 3:12-18 is still in the Bible…

“Denny’s” premise: “Is it possible to have eternal salvation and not be sanctified? Of course not.  Eternal salvation and eternal sanctification go together, one mandates the other. If sanctification required any effort on [our] part, then salvation would not be of grace.”  But how should I “endeavor to be holy as Christ is holy” without hope of success and without doing it by my own efforts?  “We should endeavor to be Christ-like and do good works. However, we are not sanctified by our good works or clean living. Jesus sanctified us.”[2]

Frankly, this sounds like we have moved from a created cosmos where it is hardto enter the kingdom of God[3] to one where it is grammatically impossible.  It doesn’t lead me to faith in Jesus Christ or reliance on the power and presence of his Holy Spirit.  “Denny” quoted Philippians 1:6 (KJV) and Ephesians 3:20 (KJV) and commented on each:

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” This is a very good verse but it has nothing to do with Progressive Sanctification. This verse pertains to our salvation, and our glorious inheritance.

This next verse pertains to the same thing: Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” We have Holy Spirit power working in us, convicting us of sin, but Jesus has already sanctified us once for all.

But I didn’t become holy in practice “once for all” the moment I believed in Jesus.  I need something more than “convicting us of sin” because I still hunger and thirst for righteousness.

I believe wholeheartedly that the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other.[4]  I also believe that—so that you cannot do what you want[5]—cuts both ways, whether I want sin or righteousness.  But I don’t believe for a moment that a grudge-match between the Holy Spirit and my flesh is a fair fight.  My flesh is going to lose.  I can count on it.

I am much less confident, however, in a “church” surrounded by people who don’t believe that righteousness is a basic and urgent need, a hunger and thirst.  I am weak in faith.  In that environment I find it much more difficult to hear the Holy Spirit and much easier to ignore Him.  In many ways traveling for a living and working many weekends has spared me from being overcome by that kind of groupthink.  Jesus promised that those who hunger and thirst for righteousnesswill be satisfied (χορτασθήσονται, a form of χορτάζω).[6]

I may never be fully satisfied until I can leave this cursed flesh behind and see Him face to face, but that doesn’t stop me from hungering and thirsting for every taste and scrap I can get here and now.  And I really don’t care whether we call that satisfaction progressive sanctification (spiritual progress in the Catholic catechism) or not.  I want that satisfaction.  And as I’ve written before,[7] I don’t believe the hunger and thirst for righteousness originates with me.  It is the perseverance of the saints.

And, yes, of course, perseverance of the saints is a terribly misleading phrase.  It’s all an illusion.  Saints don’t persevere in their own strength.  They get sidetracked, confused, give up and quit as often as anyone else, but the Holy Spirit of Almighty God picks them up fills them again with a hunger and thirst for his righteousness and leads them onward.

The word gradual has always bothered me in the context of sanctification.  My experiences of being in the Spirit or in the flesh have seemed more like instantaneous leaps back and forth with truly dizzying effect.  But my desire has been to spend more time in the Spirit than in the flesh, and any success at that over time might be considered gradual or progressive.  Here’s the issue as I see it.

The Greek words translated sanctified, sanctify, or sanctifieth nine times in the King James translation of the New Testament are forms of ἁγιάζω, to make holy.

Reference

Greek NET

KJV

Hebrews 10:10 ἡγιασμένοι made holy sanctified
Hebrews 13:12 ἁγιάσῃ sanctify sanctify
Hebrews 2:11 ἁγιάζων makes holy sanctifieth
ἁγιαζόμενοι being made holy sanctified
Hebrews 10:14 ἁγιαζομένους are made holy sanctified
Hebrews 10:29 ἡγιάσθη madeholy sanctified
Romans 15:16 ἡγιασμένη sanctified sanctified
1 Corinthians 1:2 ἡγιασμένοις sanctified sanctified
1 Corinthians 6:11 ἡγιάσθητε sanctified sanctified

If I were to graph the change over time, God’s holiness would not change.  It’s my resistance to his holiness that changes.  Here I’m picturing the Holy Spirit—that fountain of water springing up to eternal life—more like a water cannon used in surface mining operations, except that this water canon erodes away my ungodliness (ἀσέβεια) from the inside out.  But I think we might choke on calling this satisfaction progressive godliness.  Besides, the process feels more like progressive un-ungodliness to me.

My plan was to use “Denny’s” Scripture references as an outline for one brief essay and move on.  As I began to study the words translated sanctified, sanctify and sanctifieth I decided to slow down and get real pedantic again.  I’ll start with ἁγιάσαι (a form of ἁγιάζω) in another essay for no other reason than it is first in alphabetical order.

To Make Holy, Part 1

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

Back to To Make Holy, Part 2

[1] The Progressive Sanctification Heresy, Denny’s Christian Writings

[2] ibid.

[3] Mark 10:24b (NET)

[4] Galatians 5:17a (NET)

[5] Galatians 5:17 (NET)

[6] Matthew 5:6 (NET)

[7] Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 6; Saul and Barnabas, Part 3; Jedidiah, Part 5; Paul in Corinth; Son of God – 1 John, Part 3; Fear – Exodus, Part 8

Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

We religious folk of a Christian persuasion are fixated on life and death, heaven and hell.  Jesus was fixated on fulfilling the Scriptures.  How then would the scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled?[1] (πληρωθῶσιν, a form of πληρόω) He asked rhetorically when Peter took up arms to defend Him.  Up to that moment Jesus’ disciples were willing to follow Him, even to death.  But upon his insistence to submit quietly to death to fulfill the Scriptures they fled.

I do not know the man![2] Peter declared.

Jesus was not the Messiah his religion taught him to expect.  Even after his resurrection Jesus’ disciples wanted Him to conform to their religious image: Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?[3] they asked.  Tracey R. Rich expressed both a modern and an ancient understanding of this in two very succinct paragraphs.[4]

Jews do not believe that Jesus was the mashiach. Assuming that he existed, and assuming that the Christian scriptures are accurate in describing him (both matters that are debatable), he simply did not fulfill the mission of the mashiach as it is described in the biblical passages cited above [Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:2-5, 10, 11-12; 42:1; Jeremiah 23:5, 8; 30:3; 33:15, 18; Hosea 3:4-5; Micah 4:2-3; Zephaniah 3:13; Zechariah 14:9]. Jesus did not do any of the things that the scriptures said the messiah would do.

On the contrary, another Jew born about a century later came far closer to fulfilling the messianic ideal than Jesus did. His name was Shimeon ben Kosiba, known as Bar Kokhba (son of a star), and he was a charismatic, brilliant, but brutal warlord. Rabbi Akiba, one of the greatest scholars in Jewish history, believed that Bar Kokhba was the mashiach. Bar Kokhba fought a war against the Roman Empire, catching the Tenth Legion by surprise and retaking Jerusalem. He resumed sacrifices at the site of the Temple and made plans to rebuild the Temple. He established a provisional government and began to issue coins in its name. This is what the Jewish people were looking for in a mashiach; Jesus clearly does not fit into this mold. Ultimately, however, the Roman Empire crushed his revolt and killed Bar Kokhba. After his death, all acknowledged that he was not the mashiach.

Rather than frustration with his disciples’ failure to know Him Jesus exhibited supreme confidence in his own Holy Spirit (John 16:12-14): You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority, He said.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.[5]

Enter through the narrow gate, Jesus said, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction (ἀπώλειαν, a form of ἀπώλεια), and there are many who enter through it.  But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.[6]  What happens if I approach this with Jesus’ fixation rather than my ownDo not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets, He said.  I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill (πληρῶσαι, another form of πληρόω) them.[7]  What if ἀπώλειαν meant a destruction of corruption—being completely severed from the righteousness Jesus has provided us here and now through his death and resurrection and the power of his Holy Spirit—rather than an eternal sojourn in a lake of fire?

Instead of an immutable prophecy of his relative failure to accomplish his Father’s mission—For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him[8]—we have Jesus’ warning that the church will do a less than stellar job of imparting the Gospel of his grace.  But this understanding is only evident back in context (Matthew 7:11-16a NET):

If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  [Luke was explicit that these good gifts are the Holy Spirit.]  In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills (ἐστιν, a form of ἐστί; literally, is) the law and the prophets.  Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to [corruption] (ἀπώλειαν, a form of ἀπώλεια), and there are many who enter through it.  But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.  Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruit.

None of this is to wag my finger at pastors, priests and Bible teachers, but to appreciate Jesus’ saying: Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God![9]  I feel terribly inept at explaining what it’s like to live by the Spirit.  I stumbled over progressive sanctification.  The knowledge enshrined in churches as doctrine, however, was not the issue.  A table of quotes from Presbyterian, Baptist and Christian & Missionary Alliance perspectives on progressive sanctification follows.

Progressive Sanctification

Presbyterian Baptist

C&MA

“Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” What God has begun in regeneration He will work to continue without interruption throughout the believer’s life. All Christians understand first the first reality: that Christ’s blood has atoned for their sins and they no longer need to fear eternal separation from God. But most Christians do not understand or experience the second reality—the fullness of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
“The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people’s souls require; not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but from the dominion of their sins by placing in their hearts the Holy Spirit; not only to justify them, but to sanctify them.” It involves our availability to the Holy Spirit, our separation from sin, and our growth in the likeness of Christ. Every Christian is a sanctified person, belonging to Christ, and therefore should keep from immorality (1 Cor. 6:13-14; 2 Cor. 7:1). We are involved in a lifetime struggle against sin and a moment-by-moment submission to the Holy Spirit for victory. The New Testament clearly teaches that there are two kinds of Christians. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, Paul talks about Christians who are “spiritual” and contrasts them with those who are “worldly,” or “carnal.” In Romans 7 and 8, the comparison is between those believers who are self-propelled and those who are Spirit driven. In Ephesians 5:18, he implies that some are “filled” and some are “not filled.”
The Lord has given to us His Spirit, and by Him communicates His own life to the justified believer. Holiness is divinely wrought within Christians. Christ enables us to walk in holiness. It [to “present your bodies a living sacrifice”] is a choice we make as believers. No one else can make that choice for us. It is self-determined and is repeated often. The opportunity to experience the two realities of sanctification is available to every believer. The path to the Spirit-filled life requires taking faith-filled risks, which always involves change.
As we look at Christ we are changed into the image of Christ, by the work of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer for the purpose of enabling us to overcome sin and conform us to the likeness of Christ. When we “walk by the Spirit” we do not carry out the deeds of the flesh, but produce “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16, 22). Surrender We can’t make ourselves holy any more than we can make ourselves saved—we become holy only by realizing that we haven’t got what it takes to be holy (Romans 6:11; Romans 12:1-2).

Accept Christ is our Sanctifier in the same way that He is our Savior (Colossians 2:6; Galatians 2:20).

Abide We maintain a continuous relationship with Jesus through obedience to His Word (John 15:1-11).

Our dependence upon the Holy Spirit is not something that is attained once for all, but is the result of a daily struggle and a constantly renewed commitment.

God will not give up on His goal of making you become like Christ. He will not give up on you until the day He presents you complete, perfect, and mature to the Father in heaven.

These were my religious influences growing up.  I have nothing but minor quibbles over words (obedience, for instance) with any of these statements individually and appreciate all of them together.  I even checked the Catholic catechism.  Sanctification was a subcategory of justification there rather than a separate topic but still I have no serious objection to anything in it.  Oddly enough, I found words closer to my own misunderstanding in the Catholic catechism under the heading III. MERIT, line 2010:

Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

In my misunderstanding I thought positional sanctification was God’s work in Christ and progressive sanctification[10] was up to me to accomplish.  I grew up in a Catholic neighborhood but I never read the catechism.  Besides, line 2011 is fairly clear on this:

The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.

The charity of Christ is ἀγάπη in the New Testament, the love that is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, the love that is the fulfillment of the law.  The relative failure of the church to impart the Gospel of grace was not a lack of knowledge.  So is it in the execution, the way that knowledge is imparted?  Here I’m reminded of an observation that made little sense to me until this very moment: Churchmen liked me better when I was striving on my own to keep rules than when I began to try to live by the Spirit.

My use of churchmen requires some explanation.  I don’t necessarily mean clergy.  And I don’t mean men exclusively.  The best explanation I can imagine is a profile.  Churchmen aren’t believers in the sense that they have any awareness of a crisis moment that marks a difference in their lives between unbelief and belief.  They are probably the children or grandchildren of believers.  Christianity seems natural to them and they have never strayed far from it.  But fitting a profile doesn’t necessarily mean that one did the “crime.”  The “crime” in this case is too facile an identification with the local church in which one takes a leading role: “My church is the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through my church.”  But the real crime was that I idolized churchmen and coveted their status.

Churches as institutions have their own agendas.  I fit into those agendas better when I obey their rules.  In other words, churchmen are institutionally biased to favor compliant hypocrites, actors.  This is not to say that they are necessarily hypocrites themselves.  It is to say that they have little experience with any struggle to live by the Spirit.  Their instruction to those of us who do have trouble takes the form of platitudes—”sin is just bad habits which can be overcome by good habits”—techniques for inculcating said good habits and rules to prohibit bad ones, as opposed to faith in Jesus by his Holy Spirit.

Rules are neat and orderly.  Living by the Spirit is messy: When you come together, each one has a song, has a lesson, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.[11]  Churchmen (I will say for the sake of argument) decided long ago that we should sit silently in neat rows, stand when we were told to stand, sing what we were told to sing and listen to the lesson the church wanted us to hear.  My church allowed revelations, I suppose, during testimony time.  (I thought testimonies were about all the good things God did for people who were good and “obedient,” you know, churchmen.)  Tongues and interpretations?  Forget about it!

And, frankly, I intend all of this more as a metaphor for imparting the Gospel of grace.  I don’t really care how a church service is organized as much as I care whether someone who doesn’t know how to be led by the Spirit of God can learn that there.  And here I return to Martin Luther.

He lived in a created cosmos where it is hard to enter the kingdom of God.  He grew up in a religious system partially corrupted by false teachers and false prophets.  (The alternative—Jesus killed all the false teachers and false prophets and sent them to hell before they had any influence on anyone else—is untenable to me.)  Martin Luther, by the Holy Spirit, recognized some of the corrupting influences that plagued him and wrote to correct them.  But was Martin Luther perfect and totally free of error himself?

The Luther/Graebner commentary on the fruit of the Spirit[12] follows:

The Apostle does not speak of the works of the Spirit as he spoke of the works of the flesh, but he attaches to these Christian virtues a better name. He calls them the fruits of the Spirit.

LOVE

It would have been enough to mention only the single fruit of love, for love embraces all the fruits of the Spirit. In I Corinthians 13, Paul attributes to love all the fruits of the Spirit: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind,” etc. Here he lets love stand by itself among other fruits of the Spirit to remind the Christians to love one another, “in honor preferring one another,” to esteem others more than themselves because they have Christ and the Holy Ghost within them.

JOY

Joy means sweet thoughts of Christ, melodious hymns and psalms, praises and thanksgiving, with which Christians instruct, inspire, and refresh themselves. God does not like doubt and dejection. He hates dreary doctrine, gloomy and melancholy thought. God likes cheerful hearts. He did not send His Son to fill us with sadness, but to gladden our hearts. For this reason the prophets, apostles, and Christ Himself urge, yes, command us to rejoice and be glad. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto thee.” (Zech. 9:9.) In the Psalms we are repeatedly told to be “joyful in the Lord.” Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Christ says: “Rejoice, for your names are written in heaven.”

PEACE

Peace towards God and men. Christians are to be peaceful and quiet. Not argumentative, not hateful, but thoughtful and patient. There can be no peace without longsuffering, and therefore Paul lists this virtue next.

LONGSUFFERING

Longsuffering is that quality which enables a person to bear adversity, injury, reproach, and makes them patient to wait for the improvement of those who have done him wrong. When the devil finds that he cannot overcome certain persons by force he tries to overcome them in the long run. He knows that we are weak and cannot stand anything long. Therefore he repeats his temptation time and again until he succeeds. To withstand his continued assaults we must be longsuffering and patiently wait for the devil to get tired of his game.

GENTLENESS

Gentleness in conduct and life. True followers of the Gospel must not be sharp and bitter, but gentle, mild, courteous, and soft-spoken, which should encourage others to seek their company. Gentleness can overlook other people’s faults and cover them up. Gentleness is always glad to give in to others. Gentleness can get along with forward and difficult persons, according to the old pagan saying: “You must know the manners of your friends, but you must not hate them.” Such a gentle person was our Savior Jesus Christ, as the Gospel portrays Him. Of Peter it is recorded that he wept whenever he remembered the sweet gentleness of Christ in His daily contact with people. Gentleness is an excellent virtue and very useful in every walk of life.

GOODNESS

A person is good when he is willing to help others in their need.

FAITH

In listing faith among the fruits of the Spirit, Paul obviously does not mean faith in Christ, but faith in men. Such faith is not suspicious of people but believes the best. Naturally the possessor of such faith will be deceived, but he lets it pass. He is ready to believe all men, but he will not trust all men. Where this virtue is lacking men are suspicious, forward, and wayward and will believe nothing nor yield to anybody. No matter how well a person says or does anything, they will find fault with it, and if you do not humor them you can never please them. It is quite impossible to get along with them. Such faith in people therefore, is quite necessary. What kind of life would this be if one person could not believe another person?

MEEKNESS

A person is meek when he is not quick to get angry. Many things occur in daily life to provoke a person’s anger, but the Christian gets over his anger by meekness.

TEMPERANCE

Christians are to lead sober and chaste lives. They should not be adulterers, fornicators, or sensualists. They should not be quarrelers or drunkards. In the first and second chapters of the Epistle to Titus, the Apostle admonishes bishops, young women, and married folks to be chaste and pure.

Is there anything here that indicated that the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in us, or does it read like a list of ideals to pursue or rules to obey?  I see two things that may hint at the Holy Spirit’s involvement: 1) “There can be no peace without longsuffering” and, 2) “the Christian gets over his anger by meekness.”  While I appreciate the connection of the fruit of the Spirit and the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, nothing here would have turned me from viewing that definition as a list of rules to obey to prove I was a Christian.  In fact, the explanation given for “a walk in the Spirit”[13] seems both mystical and works oriented to me:

They crucify the flesh with its evil desires and lusts by fasting and exercise and, above all, by a walk in the Spirit. To resist the flesh in this manner is to nail it to the Cross. Although the flesh is still alive it cannot very well act upon its desires because it is bound and nailed to the Cross.

Granted, failing at the effort to love like Jesus by turning Paul’s definition of love into rules, prompted me to look for something else—something like the fruit of the Spirit.  But I wonder about Martin Luther.

If Theodore Graebner’s translation carries anything of Luther’s own thinking on the fruit of the Spirit, this alone could account for the pridefulness on which Joe Heschmeyer commented.  If Luther let go of the rule-based righteousness of the monastery yet didn’t fully embrace the righteousness of God in the fruit of the Spirit as he fought for his life to believe in justification by “faith alone” against a stronger adversary than any of us know as the Roman Catholic Church—both pridefulness and a general lack of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control make sense to me.

Every boy growing up in my church knew that “sowing to the flesh” meant viewing pornography.  While that may well be an example of “sowing to the flesh” in one area of human life, rejecting the righteousness of God (Romans 3:21, 22) that is given new every morning—the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that flows from his Holy Spirit—to do it somehow on one’s own is sowing to the flesh in every area of human life (Galatians 6:7-8 NET).

Do not be deceived.  God will not be made a fool.  For a person will reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption (φθοράν, a form of φθορά) from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

Luther/Graebner commented[14] literally if superficially[15] on this:

This simile of sowing and reaping also refers to the proper support of ministers. “He that soweth to the Spirit,” i.e., he that honors the ministers of God is doing a spiritual thing and will reap everlasting life. “He that soweth to the flesh,” i.e., he that has nothing left for the ministers of God, but only thinks of himself, that person will reap of the flesh corruption, not only in this life but also in the life to come. The Apostle wants to stir up his readers to be generous to their pastors.

While sharing all good things with the one who teaches[16] the word is a good thing (Galatins 6:9, 10) that flows from the goodness (ἀγαθωσύνη) of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, bribing one’s teacher will not help anyone live righteously here and now—unless one is also led by the Spirit of God.  Here I’ll turn to Peter to explain Paul (Acts 8:17-20 NET):

Then Peter and John placed their hands on the Samaritans, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Now Simon, when he saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, offered them money, saying, “Give me this power too, so that everyone I place my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.”  But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish (ἀπώλειαν, a form of ἀπώλεια) with you, because you thought you could acquire God’s gift with money!”

If your teacher is not even trying to teach you how to be led by the Spirit of God, find another to share all good things with the one who teaches.  Better yet, cry out to Jesus and study the Scriptures with Him.  He loves the Scriptures.  He died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and will return again to make them so.

[1] Matthew 26:54 (NET)

[2] Matthew 26:72b (NET)

[3] Acts 1:6b (NET)

[4] Tracey R. Rich, Mashiach: The Messiah, Judaism 101

[5] Acts 1:7, 8 (NET)

[6] Matthew 7:13, 14 (NET)

[7] Matthew 5:17 (NET)

[8] John 3:17 (NET)

[9] Mark 10:24b (NET)

[10] Some think that progressive sanctification is so tainted with self-righteousness that it is heresy. I’m sensitive to this criticism, having lived and breathed that heresy, but will wait to consider it in another essay.

[11] 1 Corinthians 14:26b (NET)

[12] Commentary on Galatians 5:22, 23

[13] Commentary on Galatians 5:24

[14] Commentary on Galatians 6:8

[15] Therefore they will eat from the fruit of their way, and they will be stuffed full of their own counsel (Proverbs 1:31 NET).  The one who sows iniquity will reap trouble (Proverbs 22:8a NET)…  But you have plowed wickedness; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of deception.  Because you have depended on your chariots; you have relied on your many warriors (Hosea 10:13 NET).  See: https://www.gotquestions.org/you-reap-what-you-sow.html

[16] Galatians 6:6 (NET)

Sowing to the Flesh, Part 1

The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials,[1] Peter wrote to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, have been granted (λαχοῦσιν, a form of λαγχάνω) a faith just as precious as ours.[2]  Another thing the Lord knows, Peter continued, is how to reserve the unrighteous for punishment at the day of judgment, especially those who indulge their fleshly desires and who despise authority.  Brazen and insolent, they are not afraid to insult the glorious ones, yet even angels, who are much more powerful, do not bring a slanderous judgment against them before the Lord.[3]

I think some things in these letters are hard to understand.  Who, for instance, were the glorious ones (δόξας, a form of δόξα)?  Who did the angels (ἄγγελοι, a form of ἄγγελος) not bring a slanderous judgment against?  The glorious ones?  Or those brazen and insolent ones who indulge their fleshly desires and who despise authority, who are not afraid to insult the glorious ones.

The angels “are greater in power and might,” Matthew Henry wrote in his commentary[4] on 2 Peter, “and that even than those who are clothed with authority and power among the sons of men, and much more than those false teachers who are slanderous revilers of magistrates and governors.”  In Mr. Henry’s mind the glorious ones insulted by those who indulge their fleshly desires and who despise authority were human “magistrates and governors.”  If this is what Peter meant I’ve already written about the difference between Peter’s writing on the subject and his own actions.

“These ungodly ones are proud, despising authority,” David Guzik wrote in his commentary of 2 Peter 2.  “In their presumption they will even speak ill of spiritual powers (Satan and his demons) that the angels themselves do not speak evil of, but the angels rebuke them in the name of the Lord instead.”[5]  If this was what Peter meant, then the glorious ones insulted by those who indulge their fleshly desires and who despise authority were the gods of Rome and its environs.  Frankly, I can’t tell if Peter meant either or both or none of the above.

Peter, in my opinion, wrote just enough to demonstrate why John and Paul were called to write most of the Gospel commentary in the New Testament.  I don’t mean to criticize Peter as a man, a believer, an apostle or a leader, simply as a writer.  But I think sometimes we Protestants are too quick to exonerate him from the Catholic contention that Peter was the first Pope.

Consider what he wrote about faith (2 Peter 1:5-7 NET):

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love.

This sounds a lot like the piling on of merits in the “form of absolution used among the monks”[6] quoted by Luther/Graebner 1,300 years later.

God forgive thee, brother. The merit of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the blessed Saint Mary, always a virgin, and of all the saints; the merit of thy order, the strictness of thy religion, the humility of thy profession, the contrition of thy heart, the good works thou hast done and shalt do for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, be available unto thee for the remission of thy sins, the increase of thy worth and grace, and the reward of everlasting life. Amen.

Granted, Peter may have been misunderstood.  The Greek word translated add was ἐπιχορηγήσατε (a form of ἐπιχορηγέω).  Another form— ἐπιχορηγηθήσεται—of the very same word was translated will beprovided just six verses later.  Peter may have meant that we should make every effort to “be provided” with excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly affection and unselfish love by the fruit of the Holy Spirit; since Jesus’ divine power has bestowed (δεδωρημένης, a form of δωρέομαι) on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.[7]  But apparently Peter’s writing has made that difficult to suss out.

Now I sincerely doubt a first century Jewish apostle of Jesus Christ consciously thought of himself as Pope (Pontifex Maximus), the leader of the Roman state religion.  The title was probably assumed sometime after 381 when “Christianity [was] made [the] state religion of [the] Roman Empire.”[8]  But I have no doubt that Peter was received as leader, or bishop, if or when he arrived in Rome, if not during his lifetime, surely after his martyrdom.

I may not qualify as an historian but I have an interest in history.  That interest may compel me to hear the reasoning of the author of The Lonely Pilgrim blog: “Every historical record that speaks to Peter’s later life and death attests that he died in Rome a martyr under the emperor Nero, ca. A.D. 67.  No record places the end of his life anywhere else.”[9]  But as a believer I can’t follow his reasoning when he asserts:

The fact that so many Protestants deny [that Peter ministered in Rome] so vehemently, and refute it so absurdly, tells me that they, however basically, realize the power in our claim.  They recognize and in effect acknowledge what we have maintained for many centuries: that having the chief of Apostles as our foundation gives the Roman Catholic Church legitimacy and primacy.

“We have Peter as our founder” is the same species of error that John corrected when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism (Matthew 3:7-9 ESV) [for repentance]…

“Bear (ποιήσατε, a form of ποιέω) fruit in keeping (ἄξιον, a form of ἄξιος) with repentance.  And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”

Membership in a church Peter founded is not equivalent to trusting the Savior Peter trusted.  Mason Gallagher, an American pastor, wrote, “Rome sends her heralds to this land who come to me in the name of Peter and demand my adherence, and complete subjection…”[10]  The problem was made more acute because he believed “that Peter had such power, proved by Holy Writ” (Matthew 20:20-28).  He quoted a Catholic priest, Reuben Parsons, D. D.:

The simplest way of proving that the Bishop of Rome is not the successor of St. Peter, is by establishing as a stubborn fact that St. Peter himself, the presumed source of the Roman claims, never was Bishop of Rome; in fact that he never was in the Eternal City.

But isolated as this quote is, it’s impossible to determine if it was a genuine admission of potential persuasion or a false alternative thrown off like countermeasures from a warplane caught in an enemy’s missile lock.  But Mr. Gallagher cited other quotations under the heading “What Rome Teaches.”  I’ve put them in a table opposite Peter’s words.

What Rome Teaches

What Peter Taught (Acts 4:11, 12 NET)

“If anyone should deny that it is by the institution of Christ, the Lord, or by Divine Right, that blessed Peter should [have] a perpetual line of successors in the primacy over the Universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter in the Primacy, let him be anathema!”

— Decree of Vatican Council, 1870.

 

“He that acknowledgeth not himself to be under the Bishop of Rome, and that the Bishop of Rome is ordained of God to have Primacy over all the world, is a heretic and cannot be saved, nor is of the flock of Christ.”

— Canon Law Ch. of Rome.

 

Creed of Pope Pius IV., 1564: “I acknowledge the Holy ‘Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church, for the mother and mistress of all Churches; and I promise true obedience to [the] Bishop of Rome — successor to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ. I do at this present freely profess, and sincerely hold, this true Catholic faith, without which no one can be saved.”

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone.  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.

I will not argue before the judgment seat of Christ that Peter at Pentecost was ignorant of a church he would found at Rome to usurp Jesus’ salvation.  And I would not recommend that anyone else do so.

I’m not inclined to argue with anyone who believes that Babylon means Babylon in Scripture.  As A. Allison Lewis (See: “Testimony” at the bottom of the page) wrote, “In 1 Peter 5:13, it tells us very plainly that [Peter] wrote that epistle from the city of Babylon.”[11]  This kind of literalism is my customary and preferred way to read Scripture.  But in this case—as the original fundamentalists identified themselves to one another by shortening their first names to an initial and using their middle names as their “Christian” names—I think Babylon might have been code for Rome.[12]

“The Church here in Babylon, united with you by God’s election, sends you her greeting, and so does my son, Mark” (1 Pet. 5:13, Knox). Babylon is a code-word for Rome. It is used that way multiple times in works like the Sibylline Oracles (5:159f), the Apocalypse of Baruch (2:1), and 4 Esdras (3:1). Eusebius Pamphilius, in The Chronicle, composed about A.D. 303, noted that “It is said that Peter’s first epistle, in which he makes mention of Mark, was composed at Rome itself; and that he himself indicates this, referring to the city figuratively as Babylon.”

I moved across the country about the time I began to form a negative opinion of Peter’s writing.  Looking for a church online I came across a sermon series on Peter’s epistles.  The pastor praised Peter as a clear and concise author.  Since the sermons where also online and I could catch up and keep up with the series while I was traveling, I started attending that church when I was home on Sunday.  Though the pastor praised the clarity of Peter’s writing, whenever he wanted to explain what Peter meant he turned to John or Paul.

This may be more relevant than whether Peter founded the church at Rome.  Protestants more often than not turn to John and Paul to understand Peter.  If I were more inclined to favor Peter’s writings and utilized them to understand John and Paul, I might derive a Gospel understanding more like that of the Roman Catholic Church.

But these men, Peter continued—describing those who indulge their fleshly desires and who despise authoritylike irrational animals – creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed (φθοράν, a form of φθορά) – do not understand whom they are insulting, and consequently in their destruction (φθορᾷ, another form of φθορά) they will be destroyed (φθαρήσονται, a form of φθείρω), suffering harm as the wages for their harmful ways.[13]

The Greek word φθοράν, translated destroyed above, was translated corruption in the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption (φθοράν, a form of φθορά) from the flesh.[14]  Another form φθορᾶς was translated decay in the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay (φθορᾶς, another form of φθορά) into the glorious freedom of God’s children.[15]  Peter described false teachers who promised people freedom while they themselves are enslaved to immorality (φθορᾶς, another form of φθορά).[16]  And he wrote (2 Peter 1:3, 4 NET):

…his 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.  Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption (φθορᾶς, another form of φθορά) that is produced by evil desire.

The definition of φθαρήσονται in the NET offers the following historical insight: “in the opinion of the Jews, the temple was corrupted or ‘destroyed’ when anyone defiled or in the slightest degree damaged anything in it, or if its guardians neglected their duties.”  I want to link this to another quote and another Greek word ἀπώλεια (2 Peter 2:1b-3 NET):

These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive (ἀπωλείας, a form of ἀπώλεια) heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them.  As a result, they will bring swift destruction (ἀπώλειαν, another form of ἀπώλεια) on themselves.  And many will follow their debauched lifestyles.  Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered.  And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words.  Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by; their destruction (ἀπώλεια) is not asleep.

If false teachers bring swift destruction on themselves, where do they find the time to lead others into their debauched lifestyles?  But I’m not convinced that this particular confusion was Peter’s fault.  The definition of ἀπώλεια online caught my attention:

apṓleia  (from 622 /apóllymi, “cut off“) – destruction, causing someone (something) to be completely severed – cut off (entirely) from what could or should have been.

If what could or should have been was that Jesus’ divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness then this swift destruction may be, not an end of human life, but being completely severed from what Jesus has bestowed on us and intended for us, a destruction of corruption (Romans 1:18, 22-32 NET).

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness…Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.  Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!  Amen.  For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions.  For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another.  Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.  They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice.  They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility.  They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless.  Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

So we would have (2 Peter 2:12, 13):

But these men, like irrational animals – creatures of instinct, born to be caught and [corrupted] (φθοράν, a form of φθορά) – do not understand whom they are insulting, and consequently in their [corruption] (φθορᾷ, another form of φθορά) they will be [corrupted, led astray][17] (φθαρήσονται, a form of φθείρω), suffering harm as the wages for their harmful ways.  By considering it a pleasure to carouse in broad daylight, they are stains and blemishes, indulging in their deceitful pleasures when they feast together with you.  Their eyes, full of adultery, never stop sinning; they entice unstable people.  They have trained their hearts for greed, these cursed children!

And (2 Peter 2:1b-3 NET):

These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with [corrupting] (ἀπωλείας, a form of ἀπώλεια) heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them.  As a result, they will bring swift [corruption] (ἀπώλειαν, another form of ἀπώλεια) on themselves.  And many will follow their debauched lifestyles.  Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered.  And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words.  Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by; their [corruption] (ἀπώλεια) is not asleep.

Watch out for false prophets, Jesus said, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruit.[18]  Do the teachers proclaim and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit?  Or are they sowing to their own flesh and reaping corruption from their own flesh?

Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

[1] 2 Peter 2:9a (NET)

[2] 2 Peter 1:1b (NET)

[3] 2 Peter 2:9b-11 (NET)

[4] http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/2-peter/2.html

[5] https://enduringword.com/commentary/2-peter-2/

[6] Commentary on Galatians 2:18

[7] 2 Peter 1:3 (NET)

[8]Constantine: First Christian EmperorChristianity Today

[9] Early Testimonies to St. Peter’s Ministry in Rome

[6] Rev. Mason Gallagher,D. D., “Was the Apostle Peter ever at Rome? A critical examination of the evidence and arguments presented on both sides of the question

[11] A. Allison Lewis, “Was Peter Ever in Rome?

[12]Was Peter in Rome?

[13] 2 Peter 2:12, 13a (NET)

[14] Galatians 6:8a (NET)

[15] Romans 8:21 (NET)

[16] 2 Peter 2:19a (NET)

[17] Forms of φθείρω were translated corrupts in 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NET); corrupted in 2 Corinthians 7:2 (KJV); may be led astray in 2 Corinthians 11:3 (NET); who is being corrupted in Ephesians 4:22 (NET) and corrupted in Revelation 19:2 (NET)

[18] Matthew 7:15, 16a (NET)

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 7

In this essay I’ll consider three occurrences of yârêʼ (תירא), the first two very briefly.  They simply mean fear, the fear of those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more they can do.[1]

Numbers 21:33-35 (NET)

Deuteronomy 3:1-4 (NET)

Then they turned and went up by the road to Bashan.  And King Og of Bashan and all his forces marched out against them to do battle at Edrei.  And the Lord said to Moses, “Do not fear (yârêʼ, תירא) him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand.  You will do to him what you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon. Next we set out on the route to Bashan, but King Og of Bashan and his whole army came out to meet us in battle at Edrei.  The Lord, however, said to me, “Don’t be afraid (yârêʼ, תירא) of him because I have already given him, his whole army, and his land to you.  You will do to him exactly what you did to King Sihon of the Amorites who lived in Heshbon.”
So they defeated Og, his sons, and all his people, until there were no survivors, and they possessed his land. So the Lord our God did indeed give over to us King Og of Bashan and his whole army and we struck them down until not a single survivor was left.  We captured all his cities at that time – there was not a town we did not take from them – sixty cities, all the region of Argob, the dominion of Og in Bashan.


I also commanded Joshua at the same time
, Moses continued, “You have seen everything the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God did to these two kings; he (yehôvâh, יהוה) will do the same to all the kingdoms where you are going.  Do not be afraid (yârêʼ, תיראום) of them, for the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God will personally fight for you.”[2]

The third occurrence of yârêʼ requires more consideration (Deuteronomy 4:10 NET):

You stood before the Lord your God at Horeb and he said to me, “Assemble the people before me so that I can tell them my commands.  Then they will learn to revere (yârêʼ, ליראה) me all the days they live in the land, and they will instruct their children.”

The Hebrew word was yârêʼ.  The Tanakh reads: ‘Assemble Me the people, and I will make them hear My words that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.’[3]  The Septuagint reads: “Assemble the people to me, and let them hear (ἀκουσάτωσαν, a form of ἀκούω; See Luke 16:29) my words so that they may learn to fear me all the days as long as they live on the earth and may teach their sons…”[4]  Yet the NET translators chose revere and I don’t have any quarrel with it.  Doing this study has helped me realize that something is happening to the fear of yehôvâh.

I’ve already heard Moses associate this fear with faith.  Here, too, it is associated with something like faith.  Moses said (Deuteronomy 4:1-4 NET):

Now, Israel, pay attention to the statutes and ordinances I am about to teach you, so that you might live and go on to enter and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.  Do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I am delivering to you.  You have witnessed what the Lord did at Baal Peor, how he eradicated from your midst everyone who followed Baal Peor.  But you who remained faithful to the Lord your God are still alive to this very day, every one of you.

The Hebrew word translated remained faithful was dâbêq (הדבקים), clinging, adhering to in the NET dictionary.  But ye that did cleave unto HaShem your G-d are alive every one of you this day.[5]  I picture a child clinging to her parent’s leg for comfort and security.  It reminded me of President Obama’s gaffe on the campaign trail:[6]

For a second day, Mr. Obama sought to explain his remarks at a recent San Francisco fund-raiser that small-town Pennsylvania voters, bitter over their economic circumstances, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” as a way to explain their frustrations.

A believer looking back might easily perceive the clinging of those who did not join themselves to Baal Peor as a kind of faith.  In the Septuagint it was προσκειμενοι (a form of προσκαρτέρησις; translated held fast in English): “strong perseverance which prevails by interacting with God.”

I’ve been thinking lately about the ubiquity of the hero’s journey as a function of the religious mind, the pride (ἀλαζονεία, a form of ἀλαζονεία) of life.  Looking back—after the judgment and condemnation (Numbers 25:4, 5) that distinguished those who engaged in πορνεία with the Moabite women and their gods (Numbers 25:1-3) from those who did not—the latter group may seem the more heroic whether through a “strong perseverance which prevails by interacting with God” or having remained faithful.  But Moses’ choice of dâbêq (הדבקים) may reflect the actual situation when the next step on the hero’s journey seemed to be a love and peace initiative with the descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot through his eldest daughter (Genesis 19:37), while the less heroic in Israel clung to yehôvâh’s commands regarding idolatry and adultery.

The only other occurrence of dâbêq (הדבקים) in the Old Testament was in Solomon’s proverb: there is a friend who sticks closer (dâbêq, דבק) than a brother.[7]  I have no idea what that meant to Solomon.  To someone who knows the Holy Spirit it is difficult not to think of Him as that friend.  Moses continued, a significantly different attitude toward the law than Luther/Graebner indicated  (Deuteronomy 4:5-8 NET):

Look!  I have taught you statutes and ordinances just as the Lord my God told me to do, so that you might carry them out in the land you are about to enter and possess.  So be sure to do them, because this will testify of your wise understanding to the people who will learn of all these statutes and say, “Indeed, this great nation is a very wise people.”  In fact, what other great nation has a god so near to them like the Lord our God whenever we call on him?  And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this whole law that I am about to share with you today?

Then Moses recalled the giving of the law:

Exodus 20:18-20 (NET)

Deuteronomy 4:9, 10 (NET)

All the people were seeing the thundering and the lightning, and heard the sound of the horn, and saw the mountain smoking – and when the people saw it they trembled with fear and kept their distance.  They said to Moses, “You speak to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak with us, lest we die.”  Moses said to the people, “Do not fear (yârêʼ, תיראו), for God has come to test you, that the fear (yirʼâh, יראתו) of him may be before you so that you do not sin.” Again, however, pay very careful attention, lest you forget the things you have seen and disregard them for the rest of your life; instead teach them to your children and grandchildren.  You stood before the Lord your God at Horeb and he said to me, “Assemble the people before me so that I can tell them my commands.  Then they will learn to revere (yârêʼ, ליראה) me all the days they live in the land, and they will instruct their children.”

Here Moses chose yârêʼ for the fear that was yirʼâh in Exodus.  The translation revere seems cognizant at least of a meaning other than simple fear.  “We want it understood that we do not reject the Law as our opponents claim,” Luther/Graebner asserted in their “Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians” under the heading The Twofold Purpose of the Law. “On the contrary, we uphold the Law.”

Their twofold purpose was “to check civil transgression, and to magnify spiritual transgressions.”  Paul added another purpose: through the law comes the knowledge of sin.[8]  Luther/Graebner allowed:

The Law is also a light like the Gospel. But instead of revealing the grace of God, righteousness, and life, the Law brings sin, death, and the wrath of God to light. This is the business of the Law, and here the business of the Law ends, and should go no further.

I would add under this rubric of light that the law like all Scripture is a way to knowthe only true God, and Jesus Christ.[9]

Luther/Graebner recognized “three ways in which the Law may be abused”[10] (actually, four ways):

First, by the self- righteous hypocrites who fancy that they can be justified by the Law. Secondly, by those who claim that Christian liberty exempts a Christian from the observance of the Law…Thirdly, the Law is abused by those who do not understand that the Law is meant to drive us to Christ. When the Law is properly used its value cannot be too highly appraised. It will take me to Christ every time.

The fourth way the law may be abused is to be ignorant of it.  Luther/Graebner cited this as the introduction to the other three ways: “The doctrine of the Law must therefore be studied carefully lest we either reject the Law altogether, or are tempted to attribute to the Law a capacity to save.”  I was ignorant of Leviticus 5:4-6 (though I had certainly read it) while Numbers 30:1-2 stuck with me.

Numbers 30:1, 2 (NET)

Leviticus 5:4-6 (NET)

Moses told the leaders of the tribes concerning the Israelites, “This is what the Lord has commanded: If a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath of binding obligation on himself, he must not break his word, but must do whatever he has promised.” …when a person swears an oath, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips, whether to do evil or to do good, with regard to anything which the individual might speak thoughtlessly in an oath, even if he did not realize it, but he himself has later come to know it and is guilty with regard to one of these oaths – when an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned, and he must bring his penalty for guilt to the Lord for his sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, whether a female sheep or a female goat, for a sin offering. So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin.

I hope Jephthah (Judges 11:34-40) was ignorant of Leviticus 5:4-6 (though I just stumbled across an essay that claims Jephthah didn’t sacrifice his daughter but merely consigned her to a life of celibacy [according to her own will]).[11]  I had thought that Jephthah’s sacrifice was necessary and in some sense “good,” given my understanding of the law.  Now I consider Jephthah’s attempt to justify himself by law a failure, whether he sacrificed his daughter or consigned her to celibacy, for he did not confess his thoughtless oath.  As James wrote (James 2:10, 11 NET):

For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.  For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.”  Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law.

This time however I see the hero’s journey as an aspect of the religious mind as well.  It seems so much more “heroic” (in the sense that I pay the price of obedience to God’s law) to sacrifice one’s daughter, whether to death or celibacy, than to confess one’s sin.  To confess sin is a weakness and a disgrace by comparison to a hero’s journey.

In the book of Esther, Letters were sent by the runners to all the king’s provinces stating that they should destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews, from youth to elderly, both women and children, on a particular day, namely the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar), and to loot and plunder their possessions.[12]  Esther interceded with the king on behalf of her people: let an edict be written rescinding those recorded intentions of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, which he wrote in order to destroy the Jews who are throughout all the king’s provinces.[13]

But the king’s decree could not be rescinded: Any decree that is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring cannot be rescinded.[14]  The only solution was to write another decree authorizing a day of civil war in the kingdom: The king thereby allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and to stand up for themselves – to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any army of whatever people or province that should become their adversaries, including their women and children, and to confiscate their property.[15]

When Moses interceded with yehôvâh, pleading for the lives of the descendants of Israel (Exodus 32:9-14), the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), unlike the king of Persia, repented (nâcham, וינחם; Septuagint: ἱλάσθη, a form of ἱλάσκομαι) of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.[16]  Follow me, Jesus said.  John wrote (1 John 1:8-2:2 NET):

If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.  (My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.)  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.

The fear of yehôvâh might compel one to sacrifice his daughter, whether to death or celibacy.  To confess one’s sin and bring the appropriate sacrifice, So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin is something else altogether.  To revere yehôvâh is not an altogether unworthy attempt to encapsulate that difference in a word.

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 8


[1] Luke 12:4 (NET)

[2] Deuteronomy 3:21, 22 (NET)

[3] Deuteronomy 4:10b (Tanakh)

[4] Deuteronomy 4:10b (Septuagint)

[5] Deuteronomy 4:4 (Tanakh)

[6] New York Times, April 13, 2008, On the Defensive, Obama Calls His Words Ill-Chosen, by KATHARINE Q. SEELYE and JEFF ZELENY

[7] Proverbs 18:24b (NET)

[8] Romans 3:20b (NET)

[9] John 17:3b (NET)

[10] Commentary on Galatians 3:23

[11] The opposing view is defended adequately in “Jephthah’s Vow

[12] Esther 3:13 (NET)

[13] Esther 8:5b (NET)

[14] Esther 8:8b (NET)

[15] Esther 8:11 (NET)

[16] Exodus 32:14 (KJV)