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)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 6

My gift is showing mercy.  Also, I’m an outsider in many ways.  I was persona non grata when I returned to my childhood church, ostensibly because my wife divorced me, but the impossibility of repentance after apostasy (Hebrews 6:4-6) is an ever-present potential refutation of my existence.  Rather than feeling marginalized these days I perceive that I am right where I should be at the epidermal interface of the body of Christ and the world.  I see more people flowing out of the body than in presently.  Admittedly, that limited perspective may be a measure of my own ineffectiveness as a witness rather than a measure of problems in the churches from which people have fled.

Given my bias toward mercy I want to consider what I called “Paul’s religious mind” through the lens of Jesus’ teaching: If your brother sins, go and show him his fault (ἔλεγξον, a form of ἐλέγχω) when the two of you are alone.[1]  Paul had every right to bring Leviticus 20:11 to the attention of the man in Corinth who had his father’s wife.  (This study has given me the confidence to write that.)  The primary purpose of such confrontation was clearly stated: If he listens (ἀκούσῃ, a form of ἀκούω) to you, you have regained (ἐκέρδησας, a form of κερδαίνω) your brother.[2]

This was not a slash and burn purging of wickedness.  Paul concurred: Preach the message, he wrote Timothy, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove (ἔλεγξον, a form of ἐλέγχω), rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction.[3]  This straightforward approach, however, was severely hampered since Paul, Silas and Timothy passed on the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the Gentile believers to obey.[4]  For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us, the council had written, 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 (πορνείας, a form of πορνεία[5]).  If you keep yourselves from doing these things, you will do well.[6]

I think Paul wrote about the law—through the law comes the knowledge of sin[7]—in his letter to the Romans to correct the erroneous impression fostered by the Jerusalem Council that everything is lawful.[8]  Obviously, not everyone agrees.  Justin Lee wrote in the essay titled “Justin’s View” under the heading “Not Under a New Law”: “Paul makes it perfectly clear that we as Christians are not under the law — Old Testament or New Testament.  He’s not trying to remove one law only to put us under another one; he’s trying to show us that in Christ, we are free from the law.”

I’ll assume that the man who had his father’s wife was an elder, rebellious, an idle talker, deceiver or someone with Jewish connections[9] and ignore the fact that Paul did not go and show him his fault privately.  So I’m skipping—But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established[10]—assuming that members of Chloe’s household may have done this already.  And I am going straight to, If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.[11]  Paul instructed Timothy: Those [elders] guilty of sin must be rebuked (ἔλεγχε, another form of ἐλέγχω) before all, as a warning to the rest.[12]  For there are many rebellious people, he wrote Titus, idle talkers, and deceivers, especially those with Jewish connections,[13] who must be silenced because they mislead whole families by teaching for dishonest gain what ought not to be taught.  A certain one of them, in fact, one of their own prophets, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”  Such testimony is true.  For this reason rebuke (ἔλεγχε, another form of ἐλέγχω) them sharply that they may be healthy in the faith[14]

The Greek word translated sharply was ἀποτόμως.  It was necessary to add ἀποτόμως to ἔλεγχε to achieve this effect because ordinarily ἔλεγξον (another form of ἐλέγχω) was to be done with complete patience and instruction.  Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians while absent, so that when I arrive I may not have to deal harshly (ἀποτόμως) with you[15]  All those I love, Jesus said, I rebuke (ἐλέγχω) and discipline[16] (e.g., with complete patience and instruction).  And when he comes, Jesus promised, he [the Advocate] will prove the world wrong (ἐλέγξει, another form of ἐλέγχω) concerning sin and righteousness and judgment[17]  I would like to function in harmony with the Holy Spirit rather than at cross purposes.

I don’t know Justin Lee or any more about him than has been revealed on the Gay Christian website, but this study compels me to consider why I am patient with him.  Whether I do it myself or not, should I desire that he be rebuked before all?  He is a leader.  He has used his insights into Scripture to gather a group of followers.  I’ve already acknowledged that more people leave the body of Christ than join or re-enter in my immediate vicinity.

The only person I know who has ever taken my insights seriously died of a brain tumor when we were thirty-six-years-old.  He was my biggest fan and encouraged me to write down what he and I discussed together.  I refused at that time.  Young and still full of delusions of grandeur I said, “The last thing the world needs is another Protestant sect.”  I don’t recall if I said it or not at the time, but I feel for Martin Luther.  Can you imagine being Martin Luther, standing before Jesus?  He looks you in the face and says, “Lutherans? Really?”

After I wrote this I went to work for nine days.  I couldn’t think much more about this essay, so I read Luther’s “Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians” in my down time.  Though I’ve heard and read about Martin Luther all my life I’d never actually read any of his writings.  I still haven’t.  I didn’t read his commentary in Latin but an abridged translation by Theodore Graebner who only consented to write it if he were “permitted to make Luther talk American, ‘streamline’ him, so to speak–because you will never get people, whether in or outside the Lutheran Church, actually to read Luther unless we make him talk as he would talk today to Americans.”[18]  So what I’ve read may actually be more useful to my understanding than unadulterated Luther since it was considered by it’s author (translator, abridger) and publisher to be popular marketable Luther, published four years before I was born.

Justin Lee under the heading “Prooftext #4: The Abomination (Leviticus 18-20)” wrote: “I’ve heard people quote Leviticus to forbid homosexuality and tattoos, but other than that, people generally don’t turn to Leviticus for moral guidance.”  Luther/Graebner wrote: [19]

Either we are not justified by Christ, or we are not justified by the Law. The fact is, we are justified by Christ. Hence, we are not justified by the Law. If we observe the Law in order to be justified, or after having been justified by Christ, we think we must further be justified by the Law, we convert Christ into a legislator and a minister of sin.

If we are discussing justification Mr. Lee has unflagging support from Luther/Graebner:[20]

Now the true Gospel has it that we are justified by faith alone, without the deeds of the Law. The false gospel has it that we are justified by faith, but not without the deeds of the Law. The false apostles preached a conditional gospel…The true Gospel declares that good works are the embellishment of faith, but that faith itself is the gift and work of God in our hearts. Faith is able to justify, because it apprehends Christ, the Redeemer…

Human reason can think only in terms of the Law. It mumbles: “This I have done, this I have not done.” But faith looks to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, given into death for the sins of the whole world. To turn one’s eyes away from Jesus means to turn them to the Law.

True faith lays hold of Christ and leans on Him alone.

Martin Luther’s perhaps unfortunate[21] saying—faith alone—clearly means “faith in Christ alone.”  As Edward Snowden did to the clandestine services Martin Luther blew the whistle on the inner workings of the monastery: “In their writings [the hypocrites] play up the merits of man, as can readily be seen from the following form of absolution used among the monks,” Luther/Graebner wrote:[22]

“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.”

Faced with this who among us wouldn’t say, “No, justification is by faith alone”?  Yet the intent of even so blatant a denial of Christ was to assuage the inner guilt of unbelieving hearts, something Luther knew intimately:

The person who can rightly divide Law and Gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian. I must confess that in times of temptation I do not always know how to do it. To divide Law and Gospel means to place the Gospel in heaven, and to keep the Law on earth; to call the righteousness of the Gospel heavenly, and the righteousness of the Law earthly; to put as much difference between the righteousness of the Gospel and that of the Law, as there is difference between day and night. If it is a question of faith or conscience, ignore the Law entirely. If it is a question of works, then lift high the lantern of works and the righteousness of the Law. If your conscience is oppressed with a sense of sin, talk to your conscience. Say: “You are now groveling in the dirt. You are now a laboring ass. Go ahead, and carry your burden. But why don’t you mount up to heaven? There the Law cannot follow you!” Leave the ass burdened with laws behind in the valley. But your conscience, let it ascend with Isaac into the mountain.

In civil life obedience to the law is severely required. In civil life Gospel, conscience, grace, remission of sins, Christ Himself, do not count, but only Moses with the lawbooks. If we bear in mind this distinction, neither Gospel nor Law shall trespass upon each other. The moment Law and sin cross into heaven, i.e., your conscience, kick them out. On the other hand, when grace wanders unto the earth, i.e., into the body, tell grace: “You have no business to be around the dreg and dung of this bodily life. You belong in heaven.”[23]

I’m not sure I could endorse so severe a distinction between “faith or conscience” and “civil life,” so strict a separation of church and state as this.  But I get the concept that a weak conscience is extremely offended by God’s law.  So in that sense I would say a harsh criticism of Mr. Lee is unwarranted if justification is the issue.  A homosexual is justified by faith in Christ just as a man prone to outbursts of anger is justified by faith in Christ.  I’m keying here on the phrase will not inherit the kingdom of God, θεοῦ βασιλείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and βασιλείαν θεοῦ οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν in Galatians 5:21 to equate μαλακοὶ (a form of μαλακός) and ἀρσενοκοῖται (a form of ἀρσενοκοίτης) with θυμοί (a form of θυμός translated outbursts of anger.

Mr. Lee argued under the heading “Prooftext #3: The Sinful ‘Arsenokoitai’ (1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10)”: “The most likely explanation is that Paul is referring to a practice that was fairly common in the Greek culture of his day — married men who had sex with male youths on the side[24]…many scholars believe that ‘malakoi’ and ‘arsenokoitai’ are meant to be taken together, so that the malakoi are the young men who service the arsenokoitai.”  In my opinion his arguments should be accepted or refuted on their own merits without questioning Mr. Lee’s justification by faith in Jesus Christ.  I don’t intend to argue any of that here.  I’ve already stated my belief that, You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman,[25] still functions as knowledge of sin.  I believe that the civility of that argument is of far more importance spiritually than its outcome.

As long as people who share my belief impugn the justification of people who believe as Mr. Lee believes, more homosexuals will be called to faith (which is not necessarily a bad thing).  Consider what Paul understood about God’s calling (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NET):

Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters.  Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position.  But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.  God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence.  He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

What concerns me here is what if we are right?  What if, by constantly harassing and forcing them to defend their justification, we do not give homosexual believers the space and liberty to hear from the Holy Spirit?  I take Martin Luther as my point of departure.  On his website Shameless Popery under the heading “2. Less Catholic, Less Christian,” Joe Heschmeyer wrote:

When Catholics point out that several of Luther’s early writings sound pretty Catholic, the standard Protestant response (and a quite reasonable one, I might add), is that Luther wasn’t completely reformed yet. Even after he went into schism, he spent another quarter-century slowly divesting himself of his Catholic beliefs. But what’s remarkable is that, as Luther became less and less Catholic, he became less and less Christian.

Mr. Heschmeyer diagnosed Luther’s problem as pride but that sounds like begging the question to me.  What was it in Martin Luther’s knowing of Jesus’ Father and Jesus Himself that encouraged or allowed him to become more prideful as he aged?  I’ll pick this up in another essay.

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 7

Back to Who Am I? Part 5

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 1

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

[1] Matthew 18:15a (NET)

[2] Matthew 18:15b (NET)

[3] 2 Timothy 4:2 (NET)

[4] Acts 16:4 (NET)

[5] I think this is why Paul called the sin of a man who had his father’s wife πορνεία twice in in 1 Corinthians 5:1.

[6] Acts 15:28, 29 (NET)

[7] Romans 3:20b (NET)

[8] 1 Corinthians 10:23a (NET)

[9] Titus 1:10 (NET)

[10] Matthew 18:16 (NET)

[11] Matthew 18:17a (NET)

[12] 1 Timothy 5:20 (NET)

[13] NET note 14: “Grk ‘those of the circumcision.’ Some translations take this to refer to Jewish converts to Christianity (cf. NAB ‘Jewish Christians’; TEV ‘converts from Judaism’; CEV ‘Jewish followers’) while others are less clear (cf. NLT ‘those who insist on circumcision for salvation’).”

[14] Titus 1:10-13 (NET)

[15] 2 Corinthians 13:10 (NET)

[16] Revelation 3:19a (NET)

[17] John 16:8 (NET)

[18] Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, Martin Luther, translated and abridged by Theodore Graebner, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1949, Preface

[19] Commentary on Galatians 2:17

[20] Commentary on Galatians 2:4, 5

[21] I found this interesting article on his “epistle of straw” comment online.

[22] Commentary on Galatians 2:18

[23] Commentary on Galatians 2:14

[24] This is the meaning of “love” espoused by some in Plato’s Symposium: “For I know not any greater blessing to a young man who is beginning life than a virtuous lover or to the lover than a beloved youth…And if there were only some way of contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and their loves, they would be the very best governors of their own city, abstaining from all dishonour, and emulating one another in honour; and when fighting at each other’s side, although a mere handful, they would overcome the world. For what lover would not choose rather to be seen by all mankind than by his beloved, either when abandoning his post or throwing away his arms? He would be ready to die a thousand deaths rather than endure this. Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger? The veriest coward would become an inspired hero, equal to the bravest, at such a time; Love would inspire him.”

[25] Leviticus 18:22 (NET)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 5

In the year of King Uzziah’s death,[1] yehôvâh (יהוה) sent the prophet Isaiah to harden the descendants of Israel living in the southern kingdom of Judah (Isaiah 6:9-12 NET):

“Go and tell these people: ‘Listen continually, but don’t understand!  Look continually, but don’t perceive!’  Make the hearts of these people calloused; make their ears deaf and their eyes blind!  Otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, their hearts might understand and they might repent and be healed.”

I replied, “How long, sovereign master?”

He said, “Until cities are in ruins and unpopulated, and houses are uninhabited, and the land is ruined and devastated, and the Lord has sent the people off to a distant place, and the very heart of the land is completely abandoned.”

The NET translation of the final verse of this chapter extending the period of this hardening through the destruction of the Old Testament religion in 70 A.D. is almost unique: Even if only a tenth of the people remain in the land, it will again be destroyed, like one of the large sacred trees or an Asherah pole, when a sacred pillar on a high place is thrown down.  That sacred pillar symbolizes the special chosen family.[2]  Those who returned from Babylon still didn’t understand the message of the Old Testament Scriptures that they must all be born from above.[3]  They continued in their own works believing, it works if you work it.

You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus told his disciples, but they have not.  For whoever has will be given more, and will have an abundance.  But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  For this reason I speak to them in parables: Although they see they do not see, and although they hear they do not hear nor do they understand.[4]  Jesus called the religious institutions created by people hardened by yehôvâh the power of darkness.[5]  Paul’s old human Saul knew this power of darkness firsthand (Acts 26:4, 5, 9-11 NET).

Now all the Jews (Ἰουδαῖοι, a form of Ἰουδαῖος) know the way I lived from my youth, spending my life from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem.  They know, because they have known me from time past, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee…Of course, I myself was convinced that it was necessary to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus the Nazarene.  And that is what I did in Jerusalem: Not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons by the authority I received from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote against them when they were sentenced to death.  I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to force them to blaspheme.  Because I was so furiously enraged at them, I went to persecute them even in foreign cities.

I’ll consider the story of Jesus’ arrest as a measure of how calloused their hearts, how deaf their ears and how blind their eyes had become: Judas obtained a squad of soldiers and some officers of the chief priests and Pharisees,[6] a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and experts in the law and elders.[7]  Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?”[8]

Jesus hearkened attentively to the Holy Spirit in ways that I can scarcely imagine, but He knew everything that was going to happen to him because of the scriptures that say it must happen this way.[9]  Jesus’ Father in heaven revealed to Peter that Jesus is the Christ (e.g., Messiah), the Son of the living God.[10]  But Peter was so calloused, deaf and blind he did not believe the scriptures that say it must happen this way even when Jesus told him (Matthew 16:21, 22 NET):

From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “God forbid, Lord!  This must not happen to you!”

Who are you looking for? Jesus asked the crowd armed with swords and clubs (John 18:5, 6 NET):

They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”  He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.)  So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground.

I don’t know if this was a miraculous manifestation of Jesus’ presence or simply that He threw the arresting officers off-balance by standing there rather than running.  He had run before.  Or perhaps they expected Him or his disciples to resist (John 18:7-9 NET).

Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?”  And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.”  Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he.  If you are looking for me, let these men go.”  He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me.”

Now this is the will of the one who sent me, Jesus said to those who had pursued Him across the lake after eating of the loaves and fishes He had blessed and multiplied, that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise them all up at the last day.[11]  When I was with them, He had prayed to his Father, I kept them safe and watched over them in your name that you have given me.  Not one of them was lost except the one destined for destruction (Matthew 27:3-10), so that the scripture could be fulfilled.[12]

When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, the accounts of Jesus’ arrest continued, they said, “Lord, should we use our swords?”[13]  They had two (Luke 22:35-38).  The crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and experts in the law and elders took hold of Jesus and arrested him.[14]  Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, pulled it out and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear.  (Now the slave’s name was Malchus.)[15]  But Jesus said, “Enough of this!”  And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.[16]

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath!  Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?[17]  For all who take hold of the sword will die by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and that he would send me more than twelve legions of angels right now?  How then would the scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled?”[18]

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come out to get him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs like you would against an outlaw?  Day after day when I was with you in the temple courts, you did not arrest me.  But this is your hour, and that of the power of darkness![19]  But this has happened so that the scriptures would be fulfilled.”[20]

Then all the disciples left him and fled.  A young man was following him, wearing only a linen cloth.  They tried to arrest him, but he ran off naked, leaving his linen cloth behind.[21]  Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and tied him up.  They brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.  (Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.)  Simon Peter and another disciple followed them as they brought Jesus to Annas.[22]

Now the ones who had arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose house the experts in the law and the elders had gathered.  But Peter was following him from a distance, all the way to the high priest’s courtyard.[23]  (Now the other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, and he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard.)  But Simon Peter was left standing outside by the door.  So the other disciple who was acquainted with the high priest came out and spoke to the slave girl who watched the door, and brought Peter inside.[24]  When they had made a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.[25]

I’ve listened to sermons where Peter’s denial of Jesus was portrayed as cowardice.  A Gospel harmony such as this highlights how Peter and all the disciples would have fought to the death at Jesus’ command.  Both Matthew and Mark record that they fled only when Jesus made it clear that He intended to be arrested, tried and executed (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:49b, 50) so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled.  Jesus’ disciples weren’t cowards; they had calloused hearts, deaf ears and blind eyes for the Scriptures.  But even as the rest fled, Peter followed Jesus at a distance (along with another, possibly John) when he was the one most guilty of a violent criminal act against the high priest.

The unbeliever assumes that the words recorded in the Gospel narratives do not recount what actually happened during Jesus’ arrest but are the post hoc literary inventions of religious minds.  If Jesus had actually said and done these things during his arrest, they reason, the response and outcome would have been different.  At very least the arresting officers would have returned empty-handed saying, “No one ever spoke like this man!”[26]

The believer can use that hypothetical person who would have, or should have, responded differently to Jesus’ teaching and actions as a baseline to derive a relative measurement of the power of darkness, the effects of yehôvâh’s hardening (John 7:47-52 NET):

Then the Pharisees answered, “You haven’t been deceived too, have you?  None of the rulers or the Pharisees have believed in him, have they?  But this rabble who do not know the law are accursed!”

Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before and who was one of the rulers, said, “Our law doesn’t condemn a man unless it first hears from him and learns what he is doing (ποιεῖ, a form of ποιέω), does it?”  They replied, “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you?  Investigate carefully and you will see that no prophet comes from Galilee (Matthew 4:12-16; Isaiah 9)!”

This is the religious milieu where Saul thrived and out of which the apostle Paul was called.  This nearly eight hundred years of calloused hearts, deaf ears and blind eyes, hardening in a word, provides the historical and cultural contexts for his religious mind.

The table I constructed to harmonize the Gospel narratives follows.  Some of the temporal arrangements are admittedly arguable.

Jesus’ Arrest

Matthew 26:50b-58 (NET)

Mark 14:46-54 (NET) Luke 22:47a, 49-55 (NET)

John 18:3-16, 18 (NET)

So Judas obtained a squad of soldiers and some officers of the chief priests and Pharisees.
Then [a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people] came… Then [a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and experts in the law and elders]… While [Jesus] was still speaking, suddenly a crowd appeared… They came to the orchard with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?”  They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”  He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.)  So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground.  Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?”  And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.”  Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he.  If you are looking for me, let these men go.”  He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me.”
When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we use our swords?”
…and took hold of Jesus and arrested him. …took hold of [Jesus] and arrested him.
But one of those with Jesus grabbed his sword, drew it out, and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. One of the bystanders drew his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. Then one of them struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear. Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, pulled it out and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear.  (Now the slave’s name was Malchus.)
But Jesus said, “Enough of this!”  And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place! But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath!  Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
For all who take hold of the sword will die by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and that he would send me more than twelve legions of angels right now?  How then would the scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled?”
At that moment Jesus said to the crowd, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me like you would an outlaw?  Day after day I sat teaching in the temple courts, yet you did not arrest me. Jesus said to them, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me like you would an outlaw?  Day after day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, yet you did not arrest me. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come out to get him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs like you would against an outlaw?  Day after day when I was with you in the temple courts, you did not arrest me.
But this is your hour, and that of the power of darkness!”
But this has happened so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. But this has happened so that the scriptures would be fulfilled.”  Then all the disciples left him and fled.
A young man was following him, wearing only a linen cloth.  They tried to arrest him, but he ran off naked, leaving his linen cloth behind.
Then they arrested Jesus… Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and tied him up.
They brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.  (Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.)  Simon Peter and another disciple followed them as they brought Jesus to Annas.
Now the ones who had arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose house the experts in the law and the elders had gathered.  But Peter was following him from a distance, all the way to the high priest’s courtyard. Then they led Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests and elders and experts in the law came together.  And Peter had followed him from a distance, up to the high priest’s courtyard. …led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house.  But Peter was following at a distance.
(Now the other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, and he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard.)  But Simon Peter was left standing outside by the door.  So the other disciple who was acquainted with the high priest came out and spoke to the slave girl who watched the door, and brought Peter inside.
After going in, he sat with the guards to see the outcome. He was sitting with the guards and warming himself by the fire. When they had made a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. (Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire they had made, warming themselves because it was cold.  Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 6

Back to Romans, Part 85

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

[1] Isaiah 6:1a (NET) Note 1: “approximately 740 B.C.”

[2] Isaiah 6:13 (NET)

[3] John 3:7b (NET)

[4] Matthew 13:11-13 (NET)

[5] Luke 22:53b (NET)

[6] John 18:3a (NET)

[7] Mark 14:43b (NET)

[8] John 18:4 (NET)

[9] Matthew 26:54 (NET)

[10] Matthew 16:16b (NET)

[11] John 6:39 (NET)

[12] John 17:12 (NET)

[13] Luke 22:49 (NET)

[14] Matthew 26:50b (NET)

[15] John 18:10 (NET)

[16] Luke 22:51 (NET)

[17] John 18:11 (NET)

[18] Matthew 26:52b-54 (NET)

[19] Luke 22:52, 53 (NET)

[20] Mark 14:49b (NET)

[21] Mark 14:50-52 (NET)

[22] John 18:12-15a (NET)

[23] Matthew 26:57, 58a (NET)

[24] John 18:15b, 16 (NET)

[25] Luke 22:55 (NET)

[26] John 7:46 (NET)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 4

Here are two different descriptions Paul wrote of himself, separated by an affliction.

Before the Affliction

The Affliction

After the Affliction

“All things are lawful for me” – but I will not be controlled by anything.

1 Corinthians 6:12b (NET)

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living.  Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from so great a risk of death, and he will deliver us.

2 Corinthians 1:8-10a (NET)

For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin.  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 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.  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.

Romans 7:14-20 (NET)

I’ve listed these passages as “Before…” and “After the Affliction” because Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.[1]  I actually think that all of 1 Corinthians may have been written from somewhere deep within that affliction.  Paul’s pride—I will not be controlled by anything—was relative—I amsold into slavery to sin.  I don’t believe it was pride in his own strength.  The sense of invincibility that comes with the Holy Spirit’s ἐγκράτεια is all too familiar (and I don’t do miracles or see visions or write Scripture).  The Greek word translated controlled is ἐξουσιασθήσομαι (a form of ἐξουσιάζω).  When Jesus’ disciples debated which of them was to be regarded as the greatest[2] (μείζων, a form of μέγας), He said (Luke 22:25-27 NET):

The kings of the Gentiles lord it over (κυριεύουσιν, a form of κυριεύω) them, and those in authority over (ἐξουσιάζοντες, another form of ἐξουσιάζω) them are called ‘benefactors.’  Not so with you; instead the one who is greatest (μείζων, a form of μέγας) among you must become like the youngest, and the leader (ἡγούμενος, a form of ἡγέομαι) like the one who serves (διακονῶν, a form of διακονέω).  For who is greater (μείζων, a form of μέγας), the one who is seated at the table, or the one who serves (διακονῶν, a form of διακονέω)?  Is it not the one who is seated at the table?  But I am among you as one who serves (διακονῶν, a form of διακονέω).

The other occurrences of forms of ἐξουσιάζω refer to control over a husband’s or wife’s body because of πορνείας (a form of πορνεία) in Corinth.  It is not the wife who has the rights (ἐξουσιάζει, another form of ἐξουσιάζω) to her own body, but the husband.  In the same way, it is not the husband who has the rights (ἐξουσιάζει, another form of ἐξουσιάζω) to his own body, but the wife.[3]  The NKJV reads: The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.  And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.[4]  The negation οὐκ ἐξουσιάζει is absolute.  I don’t believe such slavery is to be exercised apart from mutual consent on a moment by moment basis.  To force my wife to have sex with me by the strength of my arm or a “law of Paul” is not love.

The Greek word translated sold into slavery is πεπραμένος (a form of πιπράσκω).  Because he was not able to repay it, Jesus told a parable about the kingdom of heaven, the lord ordered him to be sold (πραθῆναι, another form of πιπράσκω), along with his wife, children, and whatever he possessed, and repayment to be made.[5]  The slave (δοῦλος) asked his lord for mercy.  The lord had compassion on that slave (δούλου, another form of δοῦλος) and released him, and forgave him the debt[6] until that slave would not forgive a fellow slave.

I’ve referred to Romans 7 often (in Romans, Part 28 most fully) as a description of a “house divided, one born of the flesh and of the Spirit”: 1) our old man (παλαιὸς ἡμῶν ἄνθρωπος; literally, “our old human”) was crucified with [Jesus] so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved (δουλεύειν, a form of δουλεύω) to sin;[7] and 2) the new man (τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον; literally, “the new human”) who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.[8]  The one thing I would correct here is: “I believe, however, that through faith I, the new man or woman, lay claim to more and more of my mind and my members.”

I want to correct what I was apparently thinking more than what I actually wrote.  I assumed without grounds that the maturity of the new human through faith led to more independence.  I’ve tripped over this assumption often without ever acknowledging it.  The sentence of death has been passed against us who believe: 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.[9]  Identifying with the new me cannot mean simply transferring allegiance from the old me to the new me who has been created in God’s image.

The new me is spirit, born of the Spirit; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  Maturity of the new human leads to more and more dependence upon his Holy Spirit.  As 1 Corinthians 13 is a practical description of love, Romans 7:14-20 is a practical description of humbling oneself before God because it accurately describes the human condition vis-à-vis God the Father.  We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, Paul wrote believers in Corinth, and we take every thought captive to make it obey (ὑπακοὴν, a form of ὑπακοή) Christ.[10]

The verb obey would have been a form of ὑπακούω, “to hear under (as a subordinate), that is, to listen attentively.”  The clause καὶ αἰχμαλωτίζοντες πᾶν νόημα εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ reads “and we lead away captive each thought into the attentive hearkening of Christ.”  I’m not even depending on my attentive hearkening or obedience as a new human, but on Christ’s attentive hearkening or obedience through his Spirit, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father.  With this in mind I’ll continue to look at “Paul’s Regime” and “Jesus’ Regime.”

Paul’s Regime

Jesus’ Regime

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.  In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler.  Do not even eat with such a person.  For what do I have to do with judging those outside?  Are you not to judge those inside?  But God will judge those outside.  Remove the evil person from among you.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (NET)

And to the one who conquers and who continues in my deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations – he will rule them with an iron rod and like clay jars he will break them to pieces, just as I have received the right to rule from my Father – and I will give him the morning star.  The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Revelation 2:26-29 (NET)

 

Here Paul gave a fragment of the letter that preceded 1 Corinthians: [Do] notassociate with sexually immoral people (πόρνοις, a form of πόρνος).  He didn’t mean the πόρνοις of this world, but didn’t make that clear apparently.  In other words, what was written in the prior letter was the teaching (yeast, Matthew 16:5-12) of the Pharisees: Now when the Pharisee who had invited [Jesus] saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”[11]  Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear [Jesus].  But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”[12]

The teaching of the Pharisees also helps explain why Paul used ζύμη in such a peculiar way, the yeast (ζύμῃ) of vice and evil.  For Jesus, The kingdom of heaven is like yeast (ζύμῃ), and, the kingdom of Godis like yeast (ζύμῃ).  He warned his disciples, Be on your guard against the [teaching] (ζύμης, another form of ζύμη) of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (ὑπόκρισις).[13]

Israel was instructed to eat the Passover dressed to travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.  You are to eat it in haste.[14]  The meaning of unleavened bread, bread without yeast, in the Passover meal was that the swiftness of Israel’s liberation from Egyptian captivity would not allow time for their bread to rise.  It is stated clearly in Exodus 12:33, 34 (NET):

The Egyptians were urging the people on, in order to send them out of the land quickly, for they were saying, “We are all dead!”  So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, with their kneading troughs bound up in their clothing on their shoulders.

While it is understandable that after centuries of eating unleavened bread at a holy festival, “In later times, ‘leaven’ and ‘corruption’ were regarded as synonymous terms,”[15] it is also fairly clearly the thought of religious minds.  It was not ignorance: “During the festival of Maẓẓot [Passover] it was strictly forbidden to eat anything leavened…The reason for this prohibition is given in Ex. xii. 34-39…”[16]  It was an active preference for the teaching of revered religious leaders or other human authorities, the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herod.

To believers in Galatia Paul wrote about the teaching of the one who is confusing (ταράσσων, a form of ταράσσω) you,[17] that Gentile believers in Galatia should be circumcised, and called it ζύμη: A little yeast (ζύμη) makes the whole batch of dough rise![18]  Though he was confident in the Lord the Galatians would reject that teaching in favor of his own, the former Pharisee did not yet call his ζύμη.

But now I am writing to you, Paul continued to believers in Corinth, not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian (ἀδελφὸς) who is sexually immoral (πόρνος), or greedy, or an idolater (εἰδωλολάτρης), or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler.  Do not even eat with such a person.[19]  The Greek word translated to associate with is συναναμίγνυσθαι (a form of συναναμίγνυμι).  The same word was translated do [not] associate closely in a letter to believers in Thessalonica: But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely (συναναμίγνυσθαι, a form of συναναμίγνυμι) with him, so that he may be ashamed.  Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother (ἀδελφόν, another form of ἀδελφός).[20]  Paul used μὴ the qualified negation in both instances.

The former sounds like excommunication while the latter sounds like some kind of in-house suspension.  But I can’t blame the translators.  To the Corinthians Paul wrote, Remove the evil person from among you.[21]  To the Thessalonians he wrote, do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.  To the Corinthians he wrote of πόρνος and εἰδωλολάτρης.  Jesus had John write to the angel of the church in Thyatira about a woman who by her teaching deceives my servants (δούλους, another form of δοῦλος) to commit sexual immorality (πορνεῦσαι, a form of πορνεύω) and to eat food sacrificed to idols (εἰδωλόθυτα, a form of εἰδωλόθυτον).[22]  I am throwingthose who commit adultery (μοιχεύοντας, a form of μοιχεύω) with her into terrible suffering, unless they repent of her deeds.  Furthermore, I will strike her followers (τέκνα, a form of τέκνον; literally, children) with a deadly disease (θανάτῳ, a form of θάνατος; literally, death)…[23]

Jesus’ distinction between his deceived servantsterrible suffering (θλῖψιν μεγάλην)—and Jezebel’s followersdeadly disease (θανάτῳ, death)—was part of what caught my attention and encouraged me to compare and contrast Jesus’ and Paul’s regimes.  Who but Jesus could make this judgment?  Outwardly both groups were committing adultery with (μετ᾿, a form of μετά) her, possibly but not necessarily as her partner, inspired by her teaching, probably within a group she led.  What I didn’t fully appreciate until doing this study was how fluid and continuous these groups were over time.  Individuals in either group may have repented and Jesus’ deceived servants may have continued in Jezebel’s teaching and become her followers.  Paul’s fear that false teaching might also function as yeast is not completely unfounded.  The human preference for human teachers as opposed to being led (John 16:12-16) by the Holy Spirit is not something I can wish away.

I’ll pick this up in another essay.

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 5

Back to Sexual Immorality Revisited, Part 3

Back to My Deeds, Part 1

[1] Proverbs 16:18 (NET)

[2] Luke 22:24b (NET)

[3] 1 Corinthians 7:4 (NET)

[4] 1 Corinthians 7:4 (NKJV)

[5] Matthew 18:25 (NET)

[6] Matthew 18:27 (NET)

[7] Romans 6:6 (NET)

[8] Ephesians 4:24 (NET)

[9] Romans 6:3, 4 (NET)

[10] 2 Corinthians 10:4b, 5 (NET)  Both noun and verb are found in Romans 6:16 – ὑπακοήν and ὑπακοῆς (forms of ὑπακοή), ὑπακούετε (a form of ὑπακούω). Also Hebrews 5:8, 9 – ὑπακοήν (a form of ὑπακοή), ὑπακούουσιν (a form of ὑπακούω).

[11] Luke 7:39 (NET)

[12] Luke 15:1, 2 (NET)

[13] Luke 12:1 (NET)  The actual word order is: “the yeast which is hypocrisy of the Pharisees.”  The argument could be made that yeast means hypocrisy in this case.  I’m sticking with teaching on the assumption that Jesus would have said simply hypocrisy if that’s all He meant to say.

[14] Exodus 12:11 (NET)

[15] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9694-leaven

[16] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9694-leaven

[17] Galatians 5:10b (NET)

[18] Galatians 5:9 (NET)

[19] 1 Corinthians 5:11 (NET)

[20] 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15 (NET)

[21] 1 Corinthians 5:13b (NET)

[22] Revelation 2:20 (NET)

[23] Revelation 2:22, 23a (NET)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 3

The movie Spotlight is named after a team of investigative journalists at the Boston Globe.  They pierce a smokescreen of secrecy—fueled by police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, businessmen, civil servants, their own bosses and colleagues, even their own subconscious desires to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church—to shine a spotlight on priests’ abuse of children, both sexual and spiritual, in articles published in 2002.  There are spoilers here.  Though the film is based on actual events and people, I’m writing about characters in a movie, including the Catholic Church.

The scope of investigative journalist Mike Rezendes’ (Mark Ruffalo) research is broadened by phone conversations with Richard Sipe (Richard Jenkins – voice only), a psychiatrist and former priest, who treated pedophile priests during the last half of the 1960’s.  I quote one of their conversations, more personal than professional.

“Richard, do you still go to mass?” Mike asks.

“No.  No, I haven’t been to church for some time now.  But I still consider myself a Catholic.”

“How does that work?”

“Well, the church is an institution, Mike, made of men.  It’s passing.  My faith is in the eternal.  I try to separate the two.”

“Sounds tricky.”

“It is,” Richard agrees.

Cardinal Law (Len Cariou) presides over a shell game in the Boston Archdiocese, moving pedophile priests from parish to parish.  A super at the end of Spotlight reads, “In December 2002, Cardinal Law resigned from the Boston Archdiocese.  He was reassigned to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, one of the highest ranking Roman Catholic churches in the world.”

The producers expect us to feel a certain way about that fact.  I want to use it to distinguish church—a not-for-profit business—from what I’ll call ἐκκλησία, those called by God through Jesus Christ to be led by his Holy Spirit.  Cardinal Law was promoted by the church.  He was a company man defending it from scandal.  Richard says: “the secretary-canonist for the papal nuncio…co-authored a report warning pedophile priests were a billion-dollar liability” sixteen years earlier than the present in the film.  But this faithfulness to the church doesn’t work out so well for the ἐκκλησία, especially the little ones Jesus mentioned (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:1, 2).

Spotlight editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) threatens attorney Eric Macleish (Billy Crudup)—who profited settling child abuse cases against the Church privately—for information and confirmation: “We’ve got two stories here.  We’ve got a story about degenerate clergy, and we’ve got a story about a bunch of lawyers turning child abuse into a cottage industry.  Now, which story do you want us to write?”  Later however Robby admits regretfully:

“We had all the pieces.  Why didn’t we get it sooner?…Macleish sent us a letter on 20 priests, years ago…We buried the story in Metro.  No folo.”

“That was you,” Robby’s boss Ben Bradlee, Jr. (John Slattery) says.  “You were Metro.”

“Yeah.  That was me.  I’d just taken over.  I don’t remember it at all.  But yeah…”

Paul was concerned with both, the church and the ἐκκλησία, without distinguishing between the two.

church

ἐκκλησία

When any of you has a legal dispute with another, does he dare go to court before the unrighteous rather than before the saints?….So if you have ordinary lawsuits, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church?  I say this to your shame!  Is there no one among you wise enough to settle disputes between fellow Christians?  Instead, does a Christian sue a Christian, and do this before unbelievers?

1 Corinthians 6:1, 4-6 (NET)

The fact that you have lawsuits among yourselves demonstrates that you have already been defeated.  Why not rather be wronged?  Why not rather be cheated?  But you yourselves wrong and cheat, and you do this to your brothers and sisters!

1 Corinthians 6:7, 8 (NET)

His most beautiful words to the ἐκκλησία and to the church are his words on love.  In his letter to the Corinthians love was presented as one way, albeit, a way that is beyond comparison,[1] a more excellent way (KJV), a still more excellent way (ESV), a way of life that is best of all (NLV), the most excellent way (NIV), the same way Jesus preached in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:13-48 NET).  In his letter to the Romans Paul presented love as the only way (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.

Cleary, the love of natural humans will not fulfill the law.  We must all be born from above[2] through faith in Jesus Christ, dependent instead on the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe,[3] the love that is an aspect of the fruit of his Holy Spirit.  I’ll continue contrasting Paul’s regime in 1 Corinthians 5 to Jesus’ regime in Revelation 2:18-29.

Paul’s Regime

Jesus’ Regime

Your boasting is not good.  Don’t you know that a little yeast (ζύμη) affects the whole batch of dough?

1 Corinthians 5:6 (NET)

But to the rest of you in Thyatira, all who do not hold to this teaching (who have not learned the so-called “deep secrets of Satan”), to you I say: I do not put any additional burden on you.  However, hold on to what you have until I come.

Revelation 2:24, 25 (NET)

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

1 Corinthians 5:7, 8 (NET)

Not good your boasting (or, glorying, KJV, NKJV), Paul wrote.  The Greek word translated good is καλὸν (a form of καλός).  This is the beautiful good of Jesus’ works.  What follows is a quote from an article by George Long in William Smith’s “A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities,” defining incestum in Roman law:

If a man married a woman whom it was forbidden for him to marry by positive morality (moribus), he was said to commit incestum (Dig. 23 tit. 2 s39). Such a marriage was in fact no marriage, for the necessary connubium between the parties was wanting. Accordingly, incestum is the sexual connection of a male and a female, whether under the form of marriage or not, if such persons cannot marry by reason of consanguinity.

There was no connubium between persons related by blood in the direct line, as parents and children. If such persons contracted a marriage it was Nefariae et Incestae nuptiae. There was no connubium between persons who stood in the relation of parent and child by adoption, not even after the adopted child was emancipated.

With this in mind I would say it was the most likely meaning of the kind of immorality that is not permitted even among the Gentiles.[4]  A man cohabiting with his father’s wife, was against the law, Roman law as well as yehôvâh’s law.  In other words, it was a circumstance not unlike those in the movie Spotlight.  Would anyone consider the conspiratorial cover-up revealed in Spotlight a beautiful good?

Of course, now I need to consider whether turn this man over to Satan (σατανᾷ, a form of Σατανᾶς; adversary) was simply an instruction to turn him over to Roman authorities in the city of Corinth.  But I reject that notion just as quickly.  Roman authorities had no interest in the blasphemy of Hymenaeus and AlexanderI find no guilt in him,[5] Pilate said of Jesus, while the Jewish authorities had Him dead to rights for blasphemy (Matthew 26:25, Mark 14:63, Luke 22:71 NET) if He is not yehôvâh, the Son of God the Father.

Don’t you know that a little yeast (ζύμη) affects the whole batch of dough?[6]  Paul continued.  Yes, that is exactly how Jesus expected his teaching to work in and through those who are called according to his purpose:[7]  He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast (ζύμῃ) that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all the dough had risen.”[8]  To be fair Paul wasn’t writing about Jesus’ teaching.  He wrote about the yeast (ζύμῃ, another form of ζύμη) of vice and evil.  He’d already been-there-done-that as far as Jesus’ teaching was concerned.  In 1 Corinthians he was scrambling to put the toothpaste[9] back in the tube.

I need to pause to spell out what I’m actually thinking.  That is the main purpose of these essays, after all, to remind me what I was thinking as I did a particular word study.  As I worked on this one I stumbled across a website by Sherry Shriner.  She uses many of the Scriptures I use to assert that “The Apostle Paul Was A Deceiver!  He was Satan In The Flesh!  An Antichrist!”[10]  I’m not asserting that at all, only that Paul is a human being, born from above, led by the Holy Spirit, struggling at times with the sinfulness of his own flesh or with overcoming his own religion, which he characterized as my own righteousness derived from the law.[11]

More to the point here in 1 Corinthians 5 I think he struggled with 1) the repercussions of changing[12] his manner of teaching—When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God.  For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified[13]—and, 2) his allegiance to James’ abbreviated version of the law (Acts 15:19, 20 NET) from the Jerusalem CouncilAs [Paul, Silas and Timothy] went through the towns, they passed on the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the Gentile believers to obey.[14]  I think what the NET translators called a Corinthian slogan—All things are lawful for me[15]—was the logical consequence of this teaching.  I also think the Corinthians may have been the most sinful people (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NET) to be called to that time—but called they were (Acts 18:9-11 NET):

The Lord said to Paul by a vision in the night, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent, because I am with you, and no one will assault you to harm you, because I have many people in this city.”  So he stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

According to Kyle Harper: “Prostitution [πορνεία; sex with “slaves, prostitutes, and concubines”] was considered a social necessity, an alternative to the violation of respectable women [μοιχεία], in the Roman Empire no less than in classical Greece.”  But “πορνεία was not a common term before Judaism and Christianity infused it with new meaning.”[16]  “Πορνεία in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs functions,” Mr. Harper continued, “as a catchall vice for any sexual transgression….Reuben was guilty of πορνεία for sleeping with Bilhah, Rachel’s maid, because his father had been in the same bed….”[17]  The thought that Paul derived his understanding of πορνεία from a book of fiction sent me to bed for a time.

When I got back to work I realized that the language of popular fiction[18] might well reflect the common word usage of a people and a time.  I realized we are not told whether the man who had his father’s wife was a Jew or proselyte who might be familiar with a usage of πορνεία that would include incestum, or a pagan more familiar with πορνεία as sex with slaves, prostitutes or concubines.  I don’t know whether Paul assumed his hearers understood the breadth of πορνεία that may have been common in Second Temple Judaism or taught it explicitly in Corinth.  I know Paul wrote a sin list in his letter to the Galatians (5:19-21a NET):

NET

Parallel Greek

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. φανερὰ δέ ἐστιν τὰ ἔργα τῆς σαρκός, ἅτινα ἐστιν πορνεία, ἀκαθαρσία, ἀσέλγεια, εἰδωλολατρία, φαρμακεία, ἔχθραι, ἔρις, ζῆλος, θυμοί, ἐριθεῖαι, διχοστασίαι, αἱρέσεις, φθόνοι, |φόνοι,| μέθαι, κῶμοι καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις

In the Textus Receptus this list begins with μοιχεία (adultery).  But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, Jesus said, and these things defile a person.  For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality (πορνεῖαι, another form of πορνεία), theft, false testimony, slander.[19]  And, For from within, out of the human heart, come evil ideas, sexual immorality (πορνεῖαι, another form of πορνεία), theft, murder, adultery, greed, evil, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, and folly.[20]

Jesus’ Sin Lists in Greek

Matthew 5:19

Mark 7:21, 22

διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, ψευδομαρτυρίαι, βλασφημίαι διαλογισμοὶ οἱ κακοὶ ἐκπορεύονται, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, πλεονεξίαι, πονηρίαι, δόλος, ἀσέλγεια, ὀφθαλμὸς πονηρός, βλασφημία, ὑπερηφανία, ἀφροσύνη

These sin lists alter the landscape considerably.  It is not possible for the words πορνείας[21] (another form of πορνεία) or πορνείαν[22] (another form of πορνεία) from James’ abbreviated version of the law to stand for every defilement that comes from the human heart, every work of the flesh.  Frankly, I think all of this happened in space and time to push Paul, the human author of so much of the New Testament commentary on the Gospel, to abandon his allegiance to this decision of the Jerusalem Council and to hear better words and gain a better understanding.  And I think these events are recorded in Scripture so that we would see how much better these words and this understanding actually are (Romans 7:7, 12; 3:19-24, 31 NET):

What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  Absolutely not!  Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law.  For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, Do not covet.”

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.

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.  For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Do we then nullify the law through faith?  Absolutely not!  Instead we uphold the law.

Confronted with a Corinthian man who had his father’s wife, Paul turned to Satan for help.  Confronted with pedophile priests, the Catholic Church turned to psychologists and psychiatrists.[23]  Spotlight, perhaps it is unnecessary to say, is not a movie about the amazing power of psychologists and psychiatrists to take away the sin of pedophile priests.

On the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away (αἴρων, a form of αἴρω) the sin of the world!”[24]

For far too long I believed that meant forgiveness only.  I didn’t believe that, Everyone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God.[25]  I didn’t believe that all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.[26]  I thought it was all up to me: my faith, my obedience, my love, my joy, my peace, my patience, my kindness, my goodness, my faithfulness, my gentleness, and my self-control.

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 4

Back to Sexual Immorality Revisited, Part 2

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

[1] 1 Corinthians 12:31b (NET)

[2] John 3:7b (NET)

[3] Romans 3:22 (NET)

[4] 1 Corinthians 5:1b (NET)

[5] John 19:6b (ESV)

[6] 1 Corinthians 5:6b (NET)

[7] Romans 8:28b (NET)

[8] Matthew 13:33 (NET)

[9] Romans, Part 66; Romans, Part 68

[10] http://www.justgivemethetruth.com/paul_was_a_deceiver.htm

[11] Philippians 3:9 (NET)

[12] Paul in Corinth; Romans, Part 2; Paul in Athens

[13] 1 Corinthians 2:1, 2 (NET)

[14] Acts 16:4 (NET)

[15] 1 Corinthians 6:12a (NET)

[16] Kyle Harper: “Porneia—The Making of a Christian Sexual Norm;” Journal of Biblical Literature 131, no. 2 (2012); p. 369; “For all the importance of prostitution in Greek and Roman societies, πορνεία was not a common word.  Πορνεία occurs in only four classical authors (by contrast, the word occurs nearly four hundred times in Jewish and Christian literature before 200 c.e., and over eighteen hundred times between 200 and 600 c.e.).”  (I cannot link to this article directly, but was able to download it at academia.edu.)

[17] ibid, p. 372

[18] What lover of the Old Testament Scriptures wouldn’t want to hear the patriarchs confess their sexual sins according to the law yehôvâh delivered at Sinai so many years after the patriarchs themselves died?

[19] Matthew 15:18, 19 (NET)

[20] Mark 7:21, 22 (NET)

[21] Acts 15:20, 29 (NET)

[22] Acts 21:25 (NET)

[23] http://www.themediareport.com/2015/11/30/cardinal-law-spotlight-movie/  (I am not the “Dan” who commented on this article, by the way.  I just discovered this site researching the current essay.)

[24] John 1:29 (NET)

[25] 1 John 3:9 (NET)

[26] Romans 8:14 (NET)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 2

I’ll continue to contrast “Paul’s Regime” to “Jesus’ Regime.”  Paul finally turned his attention to the man who had his father’s wife as follows.

Paul’s Regime

Jesus’ Regime

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 (ὑμῶν) 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.

1 Corinthians 5:3-5 (NET)

Furthermore, I will strike [Jezebel’s] followers with a deadly disease, and then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts.  I will repay each one of you what your deeds deserve.

Revelation 2:23 (NET)

The English translation of 1 Corinthians 5:3 might actually be clearer than the Greek.  I think Paul may have written something like, “I have already decided[1] as follows about what was done.”  Considering what he had already decided the translators cut through all that: I have already judged the one who did this…  Paul urged the believers in Corinth to turn this man over to Satan.

The Greek word translated turn over is παραδοῦναι (a form of παραδίδωμι).  Paul also handed Hymenaeus and Alexander over (παρέδωκα, another form of παραδίδωμι) to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.[2]  I assume that to turn or hand one over to Satan was the antithesis of commending one to the grace of God.

After their first missionary journey Paul and Barnabas sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended (παραδεδομένοι, another form of παραδίδωμι) to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.[3]  Later, Paul chose Silas and set out, commended (παραδοθεὶς, another form of παραδίδωμι) to the grace of the Lord by the brothers and sisters[4] for his second missionary journey after parting company with Barnabas over John Mark.  So I assume that both, being commended to the grace of God and being turned, or handed, over to Satan, were matters of prayer.  We’re not told how God responded to this prayer vis-à-vis the man who had his father’s wife.  What is recorded in Paul’s letters are the changes in his own perspective.

Here in 1 Corinthians Paul turned a man who committed πορνεία, one of the works of the flesh (σαρκός, a form of σάρξ), over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (σαρκός, a form of σάρξ): Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality (πορνεία), impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things.  I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice (πράσσοντες, a form of πράσσω) such things will not inherit the kingdom of God![5]

But is the destruction (ὄλεθρον, a form of ὄλεθρος) of the flesh a work of Satan (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 (σαρκί, another form of σάρξ), the sinful desires (ἁμαρτιῶν, a form of ἁμαρτία), 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.

But I say, live by the Spirit, Paul wrote the Galatians, and you will not carry out the desires (ἐπιθυμίαν, a form of ἐπιθυμία) of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ).  For the flesh (σὰρξ) has desires (ἐπιθυμεῖ, a form of ἐπιθυμέω) that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh (σαρκός, a form of σάρξ), for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.[6]  The one thing I can say with certainty about the man who had his father’s wife is that he was not led by the Holy Spirit at the moment he chose to take her.  His flesh had taken control.

Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin (παραπτώματι, a form of παράπτωμα),[7] you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness.[8]  The spiritual (πνευματικοὶ, a form of πνευματικός) are those who live (περιπατεῖτε, a form of περιπατέω) by the Spirit (πνεύματι, a form of πνεῦμα).  Paul’s teaching in his letters to the Romans and Galatians doesn’t explain, expound or even hint at any reliance on Satan for blessing—for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord—or cursing—to be taught not to blaspheme.

In the movie Miracles From Heaven Jennifer Garner completed her stunning transformation from Elektra through adoptive-mother-to-be Vanessa in Juno to Christy the Christian mother of three girls.  There are spoilers here, and though Christy is based on an actual person Christy Beam, I am writing about a character in a film.

“No one here is going to hell,” Christy says to her three daughters.  “Unless you girls get your clothes dirty.  How many times have I told you not to play outside in your Sunday school dresses?”  Then she yells to her husband in the field, “Hey Kevin, I have to tell you not to play outside before church, too?”

With these few deft lines we understand that Christy has succumbed to the primary occupational hazard of motherhood: She doesn’t merely inhabit a world of rules and religion, she is its architect and chief executive.  When her middle daughter Anna is diagnosed with an incurable disease Christy is utterly lost.  Concerned about the cost of traveling every six weeks from Texas to a specialist in Boston she argues with Kevin (Martin Henderson).

Christy: I need to know how we’re going to do it.

Kevin: Well, We’ll figure it out.

Christy: No, No.  You can’t say that.  I hate when you say that!

Kevin: Well, I’m sorry, babe, but I don’t have any answers right now.

Christy: I need an answer!…I cannot operate under the assumption that it’s all just gonna be okay!

Kevin: It’s called faith, Christy.

Christy: I don’t have faith about anything.  I can’t even pray, Kevin.  I’m sorry.

Kevin: No.  I hear you.  But I can’t help you with your faith.

If I hadn’t known someone exactly like him, Kevin would have seemed like the least believable character in the film.  The man I knew grew up in the faith.  Being led by the Spirit was as natural to him as breathing.  The faith that is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit seemed like his own.  And he was just as tone deaf and incapable of explaining the Holy Spirit’s faith to someone for whom such faith was not natural as Kevin.  He was also just as persistent and consistent an example of that faith as Kevin.  Only his wife knew him intimately enough to perceive any wavering or inconsistency.

Christy talks with Pastor Scott (John Carroll Lynch):

Christy: Well, you could tell me why a loving God would let Annabel suffer the way she has.

Pastor Scott: I’m sorry.  I don’t have an answer for that.

While it was dramatically necessary for Christy to discover her own answer, and Pastor Scott probably didn’t know specifics in her particular case, I want to explore a similar situation recorded in the New Testament.

Lord, if you had been here, Lazarus’ sister Martha said to Jesus, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will grant you.[9]  This sickness will not lead to death, Jesus had said when he heard that Lazarus was sick, but to God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.[10]  Lazarus has died, He told his disciples, and I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe.[11]  Jesus put Martha and Mary (not to mention Lazarus), whom he loved (ἠγάπα, a form of ἀγαπάω), through sickness and death so that when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead his disciples may believe.

Though raising Lazarus from the dead was effective enough among the Ἰουδαίων that the chief priests planned to kill Lazarus too, for on account of him many of the Jewish people (Ἰουδαίων, a form of Ἰουδαῖος) from Jerusalem were going away and believing in Jesus,[12] it failed in its primary purpose for Jesus’ disciples.  Not only did they not wait expectantly for three days for Jesus to rise from the dead, they didn’t even believe it when someone told them it had happened.

Who were these infidels?

They were handpicked by Jesus Himself.  They were purified, purged of the evil among them in classic Old Testament fashion: Judas killed himself after he confessed his παραδοὺς (another form of παραδίδωμι).  But before the Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost each remained a natural human (ψυχικὸς…ἄνθρωπος):

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.  But a natural (ψυχικὸς, a form of ψυχικός) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.[13]

Though Jesus’ display of power over death failed to persuade natural humans to faith and hope it continued to eloquently expound the theme He thought was sufficiently demonstrated in the Old Testament writings: You must all be born from above.[14]  To be born from above entails, includes and ultimately means to be led by the Holy Spirit: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.[15]

In Miracles from Heaven Anna (Kylie Rogers), writhing in pain, says to her mother Christy, “Don’t you understand that it never stops hurting.  It never stops…I want to die…I want to go to heaven where there’s no pain…I’m sorry, Mommy.  I don’t want to make you sad.  I just want it to be over.”

This might have been the turning point of the story.  If my daughter complained this way to me I would fall on my face confessing to anything and everything.  But Anna’s doctor persuaded Christy that her daughter’s childlike faith was depression caused by prolonged illness.

When Anna fell and was trapped inside a rotten tree, however, Christy knelt and prayed the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV), not as a sing-song chant but, as a heartfelt expression of faith, not my will but yours be done.[16] Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, Paul wrote the Corinthians in a later letter, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.[17]

No viewer of the film is forced to believe that God healed Anna when Christy learned to rely on the faith (πίστις) of the Holy Spirit.   She clearly spells out an alternative to Anna’s specialist that is wholly compatible with progressive[18] evolution: “So you’re telling me that when this baby girl fell 30 feet, she hit her head just right and it didn’t kill her and it didn’t paralyze her and instead it healed her?”  If this explanation rings hollow, one may be hearing from the Spirit of God because a natural [human] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.

Jesus’ Regime by contrast did not incite his followers to turn to Satan for remediation: Furthermore, I will strike her followers[19] with a deadly disease, and then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts.  I will repay each one of you what your deeds deserve.  Eventually Paul perceived the practical sense of this, too (Romans 12:17-21 NET):

Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.  Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Preferring Jesus’ Regime in Revelation 2:18-29 to Paul’s Regime in 1 Corinthians 5[20] I have been brought full circle.  This world governed by God’s wrath is the world I thought I lived in before I became an atheist.  I didn’t expect to return here again.  But this time I am led by the Holy Spirit.  This time I believe that πορνεία has much more to do with the pagan worship practices of Exodus 32 and Numbers 25 than it does with two young people marrying, that is to say having sex, before receiving Church, State or even parental sanction.  This time I expect to weather my ordeal without serious incident.

Studying the various forms of παραδίδωμι has deeply colored my understanding of these things.  The table I constructed during that study is below.

παραδίδωμι

NET

Reference

Jesus’ Arrest, Prosecution and Crucifixion (66)

παραδεδώκεισαν For [Pilate] knew that the chief priests had handed [Jesus] over because of envy. Mark 15:10
παραδίδως “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:48
παραδιδόναι …Judas, one of the twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:71
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was going to betray him)… John 12:4
παραδιδόντα For Jesus knew the one who was going to betray him. John 13:11
παραδιδόντος …the hand of the one who betrays me is with me on the table. Luke 22:21
παραδίδοσθαι The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. Matthew 17:22
…for the Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. Luke 9:44
παραδίδοται …the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified. Matthew 26:2
…woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Matthew 26:24
…the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Matthew 26:45
The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men. Mark 9:31
…woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Mark 14:21
…the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Mark 14:41
…woe to that man by whom he is betrayed! Luke 22:22
παραδιδοὺς Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Matthew 26:25
Get up, let us go.  Look!  My betrayer is approaching! Matthew 26:46
Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I kiss is the man… Matthew 26:48
Now when Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus had been condemned… Matthew 27:3
Look!  My betrayer is approaching! Mark 14:42
Now the betrayer had given them a sign… Mark 14:44
Now Judas, the one who betrayed him… John 18:2
Now Judas, the one who betrayed him… John 18:5
“Lord, who is the one who is going to betray you?” John 21:20
παραδῷ …Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:16
…how he might betray Jesus, handing him over to them. Luke 22:4
παραδώσει I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me. Matthew 26:21
The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. Matthew 26:23
I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me will betray me. Mark 14:18
I tell you the solemn truth, one of you will betray me. John 13:21
παραδώσω What will you give me to betray him into your hands? Matthew 26:15
παραδώσων …and who it was who would betray him. John 6:64
παραδώσουσιν …and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged severely and crucified. Matthew 20:19
They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles. Mark 10:33
παραδοῖ …went to the chief priests to betray Jesus into their hands. Mark 14:10
So Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray him. Mark 14:11
…the devil had already put into the heart of Judas…that he should betray Jesus John 13:2
παραδόντος I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
παραδοθῆναι …that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men… Luke 24:7
παραδοθήσεται …the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the experts in the law. Matthew 20:18
…the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and experts in the law. Mark 10:33
For he will be handed over to the Gentiles… Luke 18:32
παραδοθῶ …fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. John 18:36
παραδοῦναι …so that they could deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. Luke 20:20
So Judas agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus… Luke 22:6
παραδοὺς …and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Matthew 10:4
I have sinned by betraying innocent blood! Matthew 27:4
Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of greater sin. John 19:11
παρεδίδετο …the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread… 1 Corinthians 11:23
παρεδώκαμεν If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you. John 18:30
παρέδωκαν …led him away, and handed him over to Pilate… Matthew 27:2
For [Pilate] knew that they had handed [Jesus] over because of envy. Matthew 27:18
…led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Mark 15:1
…our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be condemned to death… Luke 24:20
Your own people and your chief priests handed you over to me. John 18:35
παρεδώκατε …Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected… Acts 3:13
παρέδωκεν he handed him over to be crucified. Matthew 27:26
…Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Mark 3:19
he handed him over to be crucified. Mark 15:15
But he handed Jesus over to their will. Luke 23:25
Then [Pilate] handed him over to them to be crucified. John 19:16
Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
…he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all… Romans 8:32
…live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us… Ephesians 5:2
…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her… Ephesians 5:25
παρεδόθη He was given over because of our transgressions… Romans 4:25

Arrest, Prosecution and Persecution of Jesus’ Followers (19)

παραδιδόντες When they arrest you and hand you over for trial… Mark 13:11
…they will seize you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. Luke 21:12
παραδιδοὺς I persecuted this Way even to the point of death, tying up both men and women and putting them in prison… Acts 22:4
Παραδώσει Brother will hand over brother to death… Matthew 10:21
Brother will hand over brother to death… Mark 13:12
παραδῶσιν Whenever they hand you over for trial, do not worry… Matthew 10:19
παραδώσουσιν Beware of people, because they will hand you over to councils… Matthew 10:17
Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. Matthew 24:9
…and they will betray one another and hate one another. Matthew 24:10
You will be handed over to councils and beaten in the synagogues. Mark 13:9
…and will hand him [i.e., Paul] over to the Gentiles. Acts 21:11
παραδοθῆναι Now after John was imprisoned Mark 1:14
παραδοθήσεσθε You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends… Luke 21:16
παραδοὺς handing him [i.e., Peter] over to four squads of soldiers to guard him. Acts 12:4
παρεδίδου …[Saul] dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Acts 8:3
παρεδίδουν they handed over Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion… Acts 27:1
παρέδωκεν …the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard… (NKJV) Acts 28:16
παρεδόθη …Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned Matthew 4:12
παρεδόθην I was handed over as a prisoner to the Romans. Acts 28:17

Other Usages (35)

παραδεδωκόσι who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 15:26
παραδεδομένοι …Antioch, where [Paul and Barnabas] had been commended to the grace of God… Acts 14:26
παραδέδοται …and the glory that goes along with it, for it [i.e., this whole realm] has been relinquished to me, and I [i.e., the devil] can give it to anyone I wish. Luke 4:6
παραδιδῷ Then comes the end, when he [i.e., Christ] hands over the kingdom to God the Father… 1 Corinthians 15:24
παραδιδόμεθα For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death[21] for Jesus’ sake… 2 Corinthians 4:11
παραδῷ Reach agreement quickly with your accuser while on the way to court, or he may hand you over to the judge… Matthew 5:25
…and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love… 1 Corinthians 13:3
παραδώσει …and the judge hand you over to the officer… Luke 12:58
παραδοῖ And when the grain is ripe, he sends in the sickle because the harvest has come. Mark 4:29
παραδοθεὶς Paul chose Silas and set out, commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers and sisters. Acts 15:40
παραδοθείσῃ …contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Jude 1:3
παραδοθείσης …the holy commandment that had been delivered to them. 2 Peter 2:21
παραδοῦναι turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh… 1 Corinthians 5:5
παρεδίδοσαν they passed on the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the Gentile believers to obey. Acts 16:4
παρεδίδου …he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23
παρέδωκα …maintain the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 1 Corinthians 11:2
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you… 1 Corinthians 11:23
For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received… 1 Corinthians 15:3
…whom I handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:20
παρέδωκαν they have given themselves over to indecency… Ephesians 4:19
παρέδωκας …Sir, you entrusted me with five talents… Matthew 25:20
…Sir, you entrusted two talents to me… Matthew 25:22
παρεδώκατε Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. Mark 7:13
παρέδωκεν And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards… Matthew 18:34
…who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. Matthew 25:14
…change the customs that Moses handed down to us. Acts 6:14
gave them over to worship the host of heaven… Acts 7:42
Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity… Romans 1:24
For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. Romans 1:26
…just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind… Romans 1:28
delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment… (NKJV) 2 Peter 2:4
παρέδοσαν the accounts passed on to us by those who were eyewitnesses… Luke 1:2
παρεδόθη All things have been handed over to me by my Father. Mathew 11:27
All things have been given to me by my Father. Luke 10:22
παρεδόθητε …you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to… Romans 6:17

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 3

Back to Romans, Part 83

Back to Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 4

[1] When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided (κέκρικα, a form of κρίνω) to spend the winter there. (Titus 3:12 NET)

[2] 1 Timothy 1:20 (NET)

[3] Acts 14:26 (NET)

[4] Acts 15:40 (NET)

[5] Galatians 5:19-21 (NET)

[6] Galatians 5:16-18 (NET)

[7] In Paul’s letter to the Romans παραπτώματι was translated transgression, a violation of a specific command (Romans 5:15, 17; 11:11 NET). I wrote about the relationship between παράπτωμα and ἁμαρτία in Is Sin Less Than Sin? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

[8] Galatians 6:1a (NET)

[9] John 11:21, 22 (NET)

[10] John 11:4 (NET)

[11] John 11:14b, 15a (NET)

[12] John 12:10, 11 (NET)

[13] 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 (NASB)

[14] John 3:7b (NET)

[15] Romans 8:14 (NET)

[16] Luke 22:42b (NET)

[17] 2 Corinthians 1:9 (NET)

[18] I think most evolution/creation arguments are tangential because the actual issues are mindless vs. mindful creation and progressive vs. degenerative evolution.

[19] Though it is not literal I think the NET translators were right to translate τέκνα (a form of τέκνον) followers here (Mark 10:24, Luke 13:34, John 1:12, John 8:39, John 11:52, Romans 8:16, Romans 8:17, Romans 9:7, Romans 9:8,  Ephesians 5:8, Philippians 2:15, 1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 5:2).

[20] I want to be very specific here because I think that Paul’s Regime in Galatians 6:1-5 is more of the faith of Jesus’ Regime in Revelation 2:18-29 and shows much more respect for the wrath of God.

[21] If Paul meant this exclusively for apostles it would belong in the category above (Arrest, Prosecution and Persecution of Jesus’ Followers).  But I take the Holy Spirit to mean that death to what controlled us.  Though that death is a one time event, I need to be brought back to it continually—constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake—because I am proud and slow to believe.

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 1

I want to compare and contrast Paul’s teaching in his letter to the Corinthians to Jesus’ letter To the angel of the church in Thyatira[1] under the rubrics: “Paul’s Regime” and “Jesus’ Regime.”

Paul’s Regime

Jesus’ Regime

It is actually reported that sexual immorality (πορνεία) exists among you (ὑμῖν; plural), the kind of immorality (πορνεία) that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with (ἔχειν, a form of ἔχω) his father’s wife.

1 Corinthians 5:1 (NET)

But I have (ἔχω) this against you (σοῦ, a form of σύ; singular): You tolerate (ἀφεῖς, a form of ἀφίημι) that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and by her teaching deceives my servants to commit sexual immorality (πορνεῦσαι, a form of πορνεύω) and to eat food sacrificed to idols (εἰδωλόθυτα, a form of εἰδωλόθυτον).

Revelation 2:20 (NET)

I have given her time to repent, but she is not willing to repent of her sexual immorality (πορνείας, a form of πορνεία).

Revelation 2:21 (NET)

Experiencing these as two distinct regimes is new for me.  As long as I assumed that Jesus’ spoke to the second person plural the two passages seemed virtually identical.  And without doubt I love and respect Paul.  He led me to Jesus, helped me to see Him in a different light.  Apart from Paul’s writing in the New Testament I may never have learned to trust Jesus.  I’ve tried to imagine that the man Paul wrote about had kidnapped his father’s wife, kept her against her will, raped her repeatedly and refused to release her.  But that’s as much, or more, to ask of ἔχειν than the idea that he was pimping her for cultic purposes.

The man who had his father’s wife compares to Jezebel, who by her teaching deceives [Jesus’] servants to commit sexual immorality, as a man who walks into a congregation with a loaded gun compares to an active shooter.  Jesus gave Jezebel time to repent.  Paul didn’t say anything about time to repent, though I’m hard-pressed to determine what form the man’s repentance might have taken.

When I believed that πορνεία meant pre-marital sex[2] repentance seemed fairly straightforward: The man should dump the woman, go to college, get a high-paying job, return home, settle down and marry a nice girl—one who wouldn’t cohabit with her husband’s son.  That changed as I began to take the law (Exodus 22:16, 17, Deuteronomy 22:28-30) more seriously,[3] as a way to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He] sent.[4]  Of course, the woman in this case was or had been married to the man’s father.  By law both should have been condemned to death (Leviticus 20:10, 11).

Paul’s Regime

Jesus’ Regime

And you (ὑμεῖς, a form of ὑμείς) are proud (πεφυσιωμένοι, a form of φυσιόω)!  Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed (ἀρθῇ, a form of αἴρω) the one who did this from among you (ὑμῶν)?

1 Corinthians 5:2 (NET)

Look!  I am throwing her onto a bed of violent illness, and those who commit adultery (μοιχεύοντας, a form of μοιχεύω) with her into terrible suffering, unless they repent of her deeds.

Revelation 2:22 (NET)

Paul addressed everyone (ὑμεῖς is second person plural) in the church at Corinth except the man who had his father’s wife, accusing them of being proud.  Of the seven occurrences of forms of φυσιόω in the New Testament, six are found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  (It is at least his second letter.)  Pride or arrogance was a consistent theme in his mind as he wrote.

Paul claimed I became your father (ἐγέννησα, a form of γεννάω) in Christ Jesus through the gospel.[5]  Actually he wrote, For though you may have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers (πατέρας, a form of πατήρ) ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ἐγέννησα (literally, “for in Christ Jesus through the Gospel I gave birth to [KJV: have begotten] you”).  The NET translators shaded the arrogance of that statement a bit.  But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers, Jesus taught his disciples.  And call no one your ‘father’ (πατέρα, another form of πατήρ) on earth, for you have one Father (πατὴρ, another form of πατήρ), who is in heaven.  Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one teacher, the Christ.[6]

The grandiose claim that the Corinthian believers were born of Paul (John 1:13 NIV ἐγεννήθησαν is another form of γεννάω) was out of character with Paul’s own teaching earlier in the same letter (1 Corinthians 3:6, 7 NET):

I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow.  So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth.

I have applied these things to myself and Apollos, Paul wrote, because of you, brothers and sisters, so that through us you may learn “not to go beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up (φυσιοῦσθε, another form of φυσιόω) in favor of the one against the other.  For who concedes you any superiority?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you received it, why do you boast (καυχᾶσαι, a form of καυχάομαι) as though you did not?[7]  Of course, then he wrote (1 Corinthians 4:18-20 NET):

Some have become arrogant (ἐφυσιώθησαν, another form of φυσιόω), as if I were not coming to you.  But I will come to you soon, if the Lord is willing, and I will find out not only the talk of these arrogant (πεφυσιωμένων, another form of φυσιόω) people, but also their power.  For the kingdom of God is demonstrated not in idle talk but with power.

Though God’s power (δυνάμει, a form of δύναμις) would clearly be the truth of his final declaration, in context it doesn’t seem to be the power Paul had in mind.  What do you want? he continued as if the following choice would be made by the Corinthians rather than by Paul himself.  Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline (ράβδῳ, a form of ῥάβδος) or with love (ἀγάπῃ) and a spirit of gentleness (πραΰτητος, a form of πραΰτης)?[8]  (While I assume that Paul’s threat to return to Corinth to beat the arrogant with a stick was bluster, it is heartwarming to find such punishment distinguished from love in the New Testament.)  In the very same letter Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 8:1b-3 NET):

Knowledge puffs up (φυσιοῖ, another form of φυσιόω), but love (ἀγάπη) builds up.  If someone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know to the degree that he needs to know.  But if someone loves (ἀγαπᾷ, a form of ἀγαπάω) God, he is known (ἔγνωσται, a form of γινώσκω) by God.

And (1 Corinthians 13:4-13 NET):

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious.  Love does not brag, it is not puffed up (φυσιοῦται, another form of φυσιόω).  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.  But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when what is perfect comes, the partial will be set aside.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Paul formed his conclusion that the Corinthians were proud (πεφυσιωμένοι, a form of φυσιόω), not by direct observation and interaction with them but, by hearsay[9] and by the fact that they had not removed the one who did this from among [them].  Paul had asked rhetorically, Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you?  The Greek word translated deeply sorrowful is ἐπενθήσατε (a form of πενθέω).

I am afraid, Paul wrote, that when I come again, my God may humiliate me before you, and I will grieve (πενθήσω, another form of πενθέω) for many of those who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality (πορνείᾳ), and licentiousness that they have practiced.[10]  Truly, love is not glad about injustice;[11] it does not rejoice in iniquity.[12]  Grieve, mourn (πενθήσατε, another form of πενθέω), and weep, James wrote.  Turn your laughter into mourning (πένθος) and your joy into despair.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.[13]  But I can’t help wondering if this mourning wasn’t more cultural than divinely inspired.

Granted, Jesus said: Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn (πενθήσετε, another form of πενθέω) and weep;[14] and, The wedding guests cannot mourn (πενθεῖν, another form of πενθέω) while the bridegroom is with them, can they?[15]  He also said, Blessed are those who mourn (πενθοῦντες, another form of πενθέω), for they will be comforted.[16]  But I still remember the contrast between Ezra and Malachi:

Ezra

Malachi

While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself to the ground before the temple of God, a very large crowd of Israelites – men, women, and children alike – gathered around him.  The people wept loudly.  Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, from the descendants of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the local peoples.  Nonetheless, there is still hope for Israel in this regard.  Therefore let us enact a covenant with our God to send away all these women and their offspring, in keeping with your counsel, my lord, and that of those who respect the commandments of our God.  And let it be done according to the law.”

Ezra 10:1-3 (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?  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.”

Malachi 2:13-16 (NET)

As Jesus’ disciples mourned his death (or perhaps their own loss) they didn’t believe his comfort when it came to them in the form of a woman: Early on the first day of the week, after he arose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons.  She went out and told those who were with him, while they were mourning (πενθοῦσι, another form of πενθέω) and weeping.  And when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.[17]  So to the first part of Paul’s rhetorical question I can only give a qualified yes.

The Greek word translated removed in the second part of Paul’s rhetorical question was ἀρθῇ (a form of αἴρω).  “Take this man away (αἶρε, another form of αἴρω)!  Release Barabbas for us![18] an angry mob before Pilate rejected Jesus.  “Away (αἶρε, another form of αἴρω) with him!”[19] a mob in Jerusalem rejected Paul.  A crowd listening patiently to Paul’s defense turned ugly when he said that the Lord said to him, Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.[20]  Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Away (αἶρε, another form of αἴρω) with this man from the earth!  For he should not be allowed to live!”[21]

Here again I can’t help wondering if Paul’s reaction wasn’t more cultural than divinely inspired.  But calling it cultural isn’t entirely accurate.  Paul’s reaction was precisely correct for a time under law when yehôvâh was present among his people in a way unknown since the garden of Eden, before He gave his life as an atonement for sin.  Consider Achan (Joshua 7) as a case in point.

Exile for the man who had his father’s wife (and the woman along with him, presumably) would be considered more merciful than death, but Jesus’ parable persuades me to reject the second part of Paul’s rhetorical question—Shouldn’t you have…removed the one who did this from among you?  When Jesus’ slaves asked if they should uproot the weeds planted by the enemy He said, No, since in gathering the weeds you may uproot the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest.[22]  This is not to say that I know whether the man who had his father’s wife was a weed planted by the enemy or a sinning saint.  It is to say, if this is Jesus’ attitude toward uprooting weeds planted by the enemy I dare not risk uprooting a sinning saint.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that I’m reading too much into Jesus’ parable.  Let’s say that I’m wrong about the angel of the church in Thyatira, that he was a human being rather than a higher order being.  Let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that Paul as an apostle had the authority and God-given wisdom to recognize a weed 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?  I admit I sat silently through a sermon declaring that, Do not judge so that you will not be judged,[23] meant that we should judge and be judged.[24]

Hear Jesus’ regime by contrast: Look!  I am throwing her onto a bed of violent illness.  That is Jezebel, the one who by her teaching deceives my servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.[25]  Secondly, He is throwing those who commit adultery with her into terrible suffering, unless they repent of her deeds.  But there is not one word to the rest of the church in Thyatira about being proud because they had not removed Jezebel and her followers from their midst.  The criticismBut I have this against you—was laid directly on the angel of the church in Thyatira, whether human or a higher order being. Yes, the letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira was to be read by all the churches, but its content was directed with surgical precision.

To be fair the only reason I have the audacity to make this kind of critique of Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 5 is Paul’s extended treatise on love in his later writing to believers in Rome.  Therefore we must not pass judgment (κρίνωμεν, a form of κρίνω) on one another, but rather determine (κρίνατε, another form of κρίνω) never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.[26]  Actually, Paul described love this way: Μηκέτι οὖν ἀλλήλους κρίνωμεν[27] (literally, “no longer then one another judge”).

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited – Part 2

Back to Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 7

[1] Revelation 2:18a (NET)

[2] An article by Bromleigh McCleneghan, “Sex and the single Christian: Why celibacy isn’t the only option,” was interesting bait for an unsuspecting moralist.  Obviously single people can have sex.  That’s how they become married people in God’s sight.  The rest is ceremony, celebration and government paperwork.  If anyone actually believed that religious leaders knew magical rites that could transmogrify illicit sex into holy matrimony those religious leaders would be compelled by law to perform those rites equally for all in a pluralistic society.  The only thing single people cannot do is fool God into thinking they are not guilty of adultery if they have sex with somebody different tomorrow night, simply because they have not signed government paperwork or had a ceremony or celebrated.

[3] Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 12, Ezra and Divorce

[4] John 17:3b (NET)

[5] 1 Corinthians 4:15b (NET)

[6] Matthew 23:8-10 (NET)

[7] 1 Corinthians 4:6, 7 (NET)

[8] 1 Corinthians 4:21 (NET)

[9] My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. (1 Corinthians 1:11 NIV)

[10] 2 Corinthians 12:21 (NET)

[11] 1 Corinthians 13:6a (NET)

[12] 1 Corinthians 13:6a (NKJV)

[13] James 4:9, 10 (NET)

[14] Luke 6:25b (NET)

[15] Mathew 9:15a (NET)

[16] Matthew 5:4 (NET)

[17] Mark 16:9-11 (NET)

[18] Luke 23:18b (NET)

[19] Acts 21:36b (NET)

[20] Acts 22:21b (NET)

[21] Acts 22:22b (NET)

[22] Matthew 13:29, 30a (NET)

[23] Matthew 7:1 (NET)

[24] This point of view is surprisingly common.   I found the following paraphrase online: “If you don’t want your life to be scrutinized, then don’t judge others.  If you can stand the scrutiny then go ahead.”  I will freely admit to needing as much grace as possible.  There are other voices online.

[25] Revelation 2:20b (NET)

[26] Romans 14:13 (NET)

[27] Romans 14:13a

Paul’s Religious Mind

Jesus said, Do not judge (κρίνετε, a form of κρίνω)[1] so that you will not be judged (κριθῆτε, another form of κρίνω).  For by the standard (κρίματι, a form of κρίμα)[2] you judge (κρίνετε,a form of κρίνω) you will be judged (κριθήσεσθε, another form of κρίνω), and the measure (μέτρῳ, a form of μέτρον)[3] you use (μετρεῖτε, a form of μετρέω)[4] will be the measure you receive (μετρηθήσεται, another form of μετρέω).[5]

In my opinion Paul’s religious mind wrote, For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit.  And I have already judged (κέκρικα, another form of κρίνω) the one who did this, just as though I were present.[6]  Paul was speaking about a man rumored to have (ἔχειν, a form of ἔχω)[7] his father’s wife.  (The NET translated the word ἔχειν cohabiting with,[8] rendering πορνεία[9] in this passage as adultery, incest or a violation of Leviticus 20:11[10] rather than idolatrous worship [including its drunken sexual practices].)

My reasons for calling this Paul’s religious mind are as follows: 1) the fact that Paul gave evidence of knowing Jesus’ command (1 Corinthians 4:5 NET):

So then, do not judge (κρίνετε, a form of κρίνω) anything before the time.  Wait until the Lord comes.  He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts.  Then each will receive recognition from God.

2) his own rhetorical justification sounds spurious (1 Corinthians 5:12, 13 NET) when contrasted to Jesus’ teaching.

For what do I have to do with judging (κρίνειν, another form of κρίνω) those outside?  Are you not to judge (κρίνετε, a form of κρίνω) those inside?  But God will judge (κρινεῖ, another form of κρίνω) those outside.  Remove the evil person from among you.

Here is Jesus’ teaching on the subject (Luke 6:37, 38 NET):

Do not judge (κρίνετε, a form of κρίνω), and you will not be judged (κριθῆτε, another form of κρίνω); do not condemn (καταδικάζετε, a form of καταδικάζω),[11] and you will not be condemned (καταδικασθῆτε, another form of καταδικάζω); forgive (ἀπολύετε, a form of ἀπολύω),[12] and you will be forgiven (ἀπολυθήσεσθε, another form of ἀπολύω).  Give, and it will be given to you:  A good measure (μέτρον), pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap.  For the measure (μέτρῳ, a form of μέτρον) you use (μετρεῖτε, a form of μετρέω)[13] will be the measure you receive (ἀντιμετρηθήσεται, a form of ἀντιμετρέω).[14]

I find it hard to believe that Jesus intended this graciousness for outsiders only and not for those who believed.  The presumed answer to Paul’s rhetorical question—Are you not to judge those inside?—is not sufficient to alter my belief.

3) Paul later forgave the sinner and urged the Corinthians to do likewise after they had shunned him (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 (χαρίσασθαι, a form of χαρίζομαι)[15] and comfort (παρακαλέσαι, a form of παρακαλέω)[16] him.  This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair.  Therefore I urge (παρακαλῶ, another form of παρακαλέω) you to reaffirm your love (ἀγάπην, a form of ἀγάπη) [17] for him.

4) Paul altered his original justification for judging the man and commanding that he be shunned (2 Corinthians 2:9-11 and 7:11, 12 NET):

For this reason also I wrote you: to test (δοκιμὴν, a form of δοκιμή;[18] literally, γνῶ τὴν δοκιμὴν, “know” or “learn by testing”) you to see if you are obedient (ὑπήκοοι, a form of ὑπήκοος)[19] in everything.  If you forgive (χαρίζεσθε, another form of χαρίζομαι) anyone for anything, I also forgive him – for indeed what I have forgiven (κεχάρισμαι, another form of χαρίζομαι) (if I have forgiven [κεχάρισμαι, another form of χαρίζομαι] anything) I did so for you in the presence of Christ, so that we may not be exploited by Satan (for we are not ignorant of his schemes)….For see what this very thing, this sadness [caused by Paul’s original letter, cf. 2 Corinthians 7:8] as God intended, has produced (κατειργάσατο, a form of κατεργάζομαι)[20] in you: what eagerness, what defense of yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what deep concern, what punishment!  In everything you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.  So then, even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did wrong (ἀδικήσαντος, a form of ἀδικέω),[21] or on account of the one who was wronged (ἀδικηθέντος, another form of ἀδικέω), but to reveal to you your eagerness on our behalf before God.

5) Paul later developed a more appropriate way for dealing with similar situations, something more in line with Jesus’ teaching (Galatians 6:1-5 NET):

Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin (παραπτώματι, a form of παράπτωμα),[22] you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness.  Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too.  Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill (ἀναπληρώσετε, a form of ἀναπληρόω)[23] the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  Let each one examine (δοκιμαζέτω, a form of δοκιμάζω)[24] his own work (ἔργον).[25]  Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else.  For each one will carry his own load.

Below is a comparison/contrast of 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 (NET) and Galatians 6:1-5 (NET):

1 Corinthians 5:1-13 (NET)

Galatians 6:1-5 (NET)

It is actually reported that sexual immorality (πορνεία) exists among you, the kind of immorality (πορνεία) that is not permitted[26] even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with 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 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.

1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (NET)

Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness.

Galatians 6:1a (NET)

Your boasting is not good.  Don’t you know that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough?  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.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NET)

Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too.  Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Galatians 6:1b-3 (NET)

I wrote you in my letter[27] not to associate with sexually immoral people (πόρνοις, a form of πόρνος).[28]  In no way did I mean the immoral people (πόρνοις, a form of πόρνος) of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian (ἀδελφός)[29] who is sexually immoral (πόρνος), or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler.  Do not even eat with such a person.  For what do I have to do with judging those outside?  Are you not to judge those inside?  But God will judge those outside.  Remove the evil person from among you.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (NET)

Let each one examine his own work.  Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else.  For each one will carry his own load.

Galatians 6:4, 5 (NET)

What happened to Paul between the writing of 1 Corinthians 5 and Galatians 6?  The obvious answer is an affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living.[30]  But something else probably occurred as well, the crystallization of the understanding that became, and the actual writing of, Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Peter and Cornelius

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited – Part 1

Back to Romans, Part 3

Back to Romans, Part 7

Back to You Must Be Gentle, Part 1

Back to Son of God – John, Part 2

Back to Romans, Part 42

Back to Fear – Exodus, Part 5

Back to Romans, Part 48

Back to Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited – Part 2

Back to Sexual Immorality Revisited, Part 2

Back to Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 6

Back to Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 7


[5] Matthew 7:1, 2 (NET)

[6] 1 Corinthians 5:3 (NET)

[8] 1 Corinthians 5:1 (NET)

[10] If a man has sexual intercourse with his father’s wife, he has exposed his father’s nakedness.  Both of them must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves.  (Leviticus 20:11 NET) Also: Deuteronomy 22:30 (NET)

[26] The Greek word ονομαζεται (a form of ὀνομάζω; translated is named in Ephesians 3:15 KJV) is not included in the text from which the NET was translated.

[27] 1 Corinthians is at least Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth.  The previous letter was apparently not preserved.

[30] 2 Corinthians 1:8 (NET)