Romans, Part 88

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

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

 

Form of πείθω Reference KJV

NET

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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of πείθω

Reference KJV

NET

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

 

[1] Romans 15:22 (NET)

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

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

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

[5] Jeremiah 31:34b (Tanakh)

[6] Luke 6:37 (NET)

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

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

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

[10] 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NET)

[11] Galatians 5:7 (NET)

[12] Matthew 27:20 (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:22 (NET)

[14] Acts 14:19 (NET)

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

[16] Acts 19:26 (NET)

[17] Acts 27:11 (NET)

[18] Acts 27:10a (NET)

[19] Acts 27:13b (NET)

[20] Galatians 5:2 (NET)

[21] Galatians 1:6 (NET)

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

Romans, Part 87

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of πληρόω

Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans, Part 88

[1] Romans 15:17 (NET)

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

[3] Who Am I? Part 6

[4] Romans 8:34b (NET)

[5] Romans 15:16b (NET)

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

[7] 2 Corinthians 8:24 (NET)

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

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

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

[11] 1 Corinthians 14:3 (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[19] 2 Peter 1:3 (NET)

[20] Philippians 2:13 (NET)

[21] Philippians 4:19 (NET)

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

[23] Isaiah 42:8 (NET)

[24] 1 Corinthians 1:31 (NET)

[25] 2 Corinthians 10:17 (NET)

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

[27] Romans 15:23a (NET)

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

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

[30] Philippians 4:19 (NET)

Romans, Part 86

But I myself am fully convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, Paul continued, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.[1]  Though it may sound as if Paul commended Roman believers for their peculiar goodness and knowledge, I will maintain that his confidence was in the God of hope and the power of the Holy Spirit: Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.[2]

The Greek word translated am fully convinced was Πέπεισμαι (a form of πείθω).  For I am convinced (πέπεισμαι, a form of πείθω), Paul wrote, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.[3]  I know the one in whom my faith is set, he wrote Timothy, and I am convinced (πέπεισμαι, a form of πείθω) that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day.[4]  And he characterized himself as one who put no confidence (πεποιθότες, another form of πείθω) in the flesh, Roman or otherwise: For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh (καὶ οὐκ ἐν σαρκὶ πεποιθότες)…[5]

The goodness Paul was fully convinced that Roman believers were full of was ἀγαθωσύνης (a form of ἀγαθωσύνη) in Greek.  Again, it was not that Romans were peculiarly full of goodness in Paul’s estimation while citizens of Thessalonica needed to rely on God: we pray for you always, Paul wrote believers in Thessalonica, that our God will make you worthy of his calling and fulfill by his power your every desire for goodness (ἀγαθωσύνης, a form of ἀγαθωσύνη)…[6]  Walk as children of the light, he wrote believers in Ephesus, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness (ἀγαθωσύνῃ), righteousness, and truth[7]  And, of course, goodness is delivered daily to believers as an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness (ἀγαθωσύνη), faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[8]

The knowledge with which believers in Rome were filled was γνώσεως (a form of γνῶσις) in Greek.  Once again, I don’t think Paul meant that Romans were peculiarly filled with all knowledge.  He didn’t even claim knowledge for himself or the other apostles beyond what was given by God: For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” he wrote believers in Corinth, is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge (γνώσεως, a form of γνῶσις) of God in the face of Christ.[9]  My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, he wrote the Colossians, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge (ἐπίγνωσιν, a form of ἐπίγνωσις) of the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (γνώσεως, a form of γνῶσις).[10]  Christ’s love, in fact, surpasses knowledge: to know (γνῶναι, a form of γινώσκω) the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (γνώσεως, a form of γνῶσις), so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.[11]  For Paul the value of knowing (γνώσεως, a form of γνῶσις) Christ Jesus my Lord was far greater than all human honor.[12]

But I have written more boldly to you on some points so as to remind you, Paul continued his letter to believers in Rome, because of the grace given to me by God to be a minister (λειτουργὸν, a form of λειτουργός) of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles.[13]  Paul had not yet been to Rome.  His self-consciousness about all that he had written to believers there intrigues me.  I can easily see this letter as the culmination of Paul’s working through his own issues, from the Jerusalem Council to Athens to Corinth and on to Ephesus.  Did he recognize the importance the Roman Church would assume once the Jerusalem Church was scattered?  Surely the Holy Spirit did.

I don’t think Paul intended to write a treatise on the Gospel but a letter to Roman believers.  Still, by the Holy Spirit a Gospel treatise is what he wrote.  Without altering a word Paul wanted to explain his boldness (τολμηρότερον; translated more boldly).  I serve the gospel of God like a priest, he continued, so that the Gentiles may become an acceptable offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.[14]  So that the Gentiles may be sanctified by their own obedience or by adding their own works to their faith?  No, so that the Gentiles may be sanctified by the Holy Spirit (ἡγιασμένη ἐν πνεύματιἁγίῳ).

The Greek word translated sanctified was ἡγιασμένη (a form of ἁγιάζω).  Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy (ἁγιάσαι, another form of ἁγιάζω), Paul wrote believers in Thessalonica, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this.[15]  Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify (ἁγιάσῃ, another form of ἁγιάζω) her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.[16]  Sanctify (ἁγίασον, another form of ἁγιάζω) them by the truth, Jesus prayed to his Father, your word is truth.[17]  For them, Jesus continued in prayer, I sanctify (ἁγιάζω) myself, that they too may be truly sanctified (ἡγιασμένοι, another form of ἁγιάζω).[18]

For indeed he who makes holy (ἁγιάζων, another form of ἁγιάζω) and those being made holy (ἁγιαζόμενοι, another form of ἁγιάζω) all have the same origin, and so he is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters[19]  As I’ve written before,[20] it is axiomatic to me that Jesus’ holiness was from the Holy Spirit rather than his own divine nature.  Otherwise, his command and invitation, Follow me, would be meaningless to sinful human beings.  I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles, Jesus promised Paul, to whom I am sending you to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified (ἡγιασμένοις, another form of ἁγιάζω) by faith in me.[21]

Luther/Graebner called the religious mind “that monster called self-righteousness”:[22]

This is the principal purpose of the Law and its most valuable contribution. As long as a person is not a murderer, adulterer, thief, he would swear that he is righteous. How is God going to humble such a person except by the Law? The Law is the hammer of death, the thunder of hell, and the lightning of God’s wrath to bring down the proud and shameless hypocrites. When the Law was instituted on Mount Sinai it was accompanied by lightning, by storms, by the sound of trumpets, to tear to pieces that monster called self-righteousness. As long as a person thinks he is right he is going to be incomprehensibly proud and presumptuous. He is going to hate God, despise His grace and mercy, and ignore the promises in Christ. The Gospel of the free forgiveness of sins through Christ will never appeal to the self-righteous.

This monster of self-righteousness, this stiff-necked beast, needs a big axe. And that is what the Law is, a big axe. Accordingly, the proper use and function of the Law is to threaten until the conscience is scared stiff.

The awful spectacle at Mount Sinai portrayed the proper use of the Law…

The Law is meant to produce the same effect today which it produced at Mount Sinai long ago. I want to encourage all who fear God, especially those who intend to become ministers of the Gospel, to learn from the Apostle the proper use of the Law.

This could explain Jonathan Edwards’Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”  It was not based on his own experience of eternal life, knowing God, but on a preaching technique derived from a metaphorical reading of the events at Sinai.  But when I approach those events with Jesus’ key to understanding the Old Testament I can’t hear it as a metaphor, only as a literal demonstration of the absolute limits of fear-based righteousness.  With theatricality and pyrotechnics beyond any human preacher’s bellicose pulpit pounding yehôvâh got forty days of obedience to the law out of fear.

To be fair Luther/Graebner didn’t expect preaching designed “to threaten until the conscience is scared stiff” to produce righteousness (or even obedience to the law) directly, but to foster a hunger and thirst for righteousness:[23]

The proverb has it that Hunger is the best cook [Fames est optimus coquus]. The Law makes afflicted consciences hungry for Christ. Christ tastes good to them. Hungry hearts appreciate Christ. Thirsty souls are what Christ wants. He invites them: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Christ’s benefits are so precious that He will dispense them only to those who need them and really desire them.

I understand precious here as scarce and conclude that this last statement is essentially false.  Christ’s benefits are not scarce.  They are as omnipresent[24] as the Holy Spirit.  Everyone needs them: Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’[25]  And God Himself provides the desire for them as well as their accomplishment: for the one bringing forth (ἐνεργῶν, a form of ἐνεργέω) in you both the desire (θέλειν, a form of θέλω) and the effort (ἐνεργεῖν, another form of ἐνεργέω) – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God.[26]  There is no cause to add conditions to sanctification beyond faith in Christ.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.[27]  But how are they to hear without someone preaching to them?[28]  Or how are we to hear if preachers preach something other than the truth that we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit?

On the one hand Luther/Graebner seemed to grasp this:[29]

…the Holy Ghost is sent forth into the hearts of the believers, as here stated, “God sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts.” This sending is accomplished by the preaching of the Gospel through which the Holy Spirit inspires us with fervor and light, with new judgment, new desires, and new motives. This happy innovation is not a derivative of reason or personal development, but solely the gift and operation of the Holy Ghost.

Though they did a yeoman’s job demonstrating that justification is by faith in Christ apart from the works of the law, any law, when it came to sanctification Luther/Graebner let the whole wretched works religion in through the back door:[30]

If we think of Christ as Paul here depicts Him, we shall never go wrong. We shall never be in danger of misconstruing the meaning of the Law. We shall understand that the Law does not justify. We shall understand why a Christian observes laws: For the peace of the world, out of gratitude to God, and for a good example that others may be attracted to the Gospel.

First, I want to be perfectly clear that a believer in Christ merely appears to observe laws.  That appearance does not result from attempting to “observe laws” but from hearing with faith and receiving the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the love that is the fulfillment the law.  The peace of the world, my gratitude to God and desire that others may be attracted to the Gospel is not up to the task of righteousness.

At times Luther/Graebner seemed to comprehend the fruit of the Spirit:[31]

The Word of God falling from the lips of the apostle or minister enters into the heart of the hearer. The Holy Ghost impregnates the Word so that it brings forth the fruit of faith.

Yet when Luther/Graebner addressed the “fruit of faith” directly it reads:[32]

FAITH

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

In fact every detail of every aspect of the fruit of the Spirit in the Luther/Graebner commentary reads like a definition of a virtue, an ideal or a rule to be pursued by my desire for “the peace of the world, out of gratitude to God, and for a good example that others may be attracted to the Gospel.”  In contrast I will quote Paul once again (Romans 15:15, 16 NET):

But I have written more boldly to you on some points so as to remind you, because of the grace given to me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles.  I serve the gospel of God like a priest, so that the Gentiles may become an acceptable offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Anything less than being sanctified by the Holy Spirit is a human attempt to be perfected by the flesh.  Are you so foolish? Paul asked struggling believers in Galatia.  Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort (σαρκὶ, a form of σάρξ)?[33]  We of this generation risk being judged by skeptics or some future apostle of some future dispensation with the words:

For if grace had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by  grace.

Romans, Part 87

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 7

Back to Who Am I? Part 6


[1] Romans 15:14 (NET)

[2] Romans 15:13 (NET)

[3] Romans 8:38, 39 (NET)

[4] 2 Timothy 1:12b (NET)

[5] Philippians 3:3 (NIV)

[6] 2 Thessalonians 1:11 (NET)

[7] Ephesians 5:8b, 9 (NET)

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

[9] 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NET)

[10] Colossians 2:2, 3 (NET)

[11] Ephesians 3:19 (NET); See: Ephesians 3:14-21

[12] Philippians 3:3-11, cf. verse 8

[13] Romans 15:15, 16a (NET)

[14] Romans 15:16b (NET)

[15] 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24 (NET)

[16] Ephesians 5:25b-27 (NET)

[17] John 17:17 (NIV)

[18] John 17:19 (NIV)

[19] Hebrews 2:11 (NET)

[20] The Righteousness of God; Romans, Part 50

[21] Acts 26:17, 18 (NET)

[22] Commentary on Galatians 3:19, “The Twofold Purpose of the Law”

[23] Commentary on Galations 3:21

[24] Psalm 139:1-18 (NET)

[25] John 3:7 (NET)

[26] Philippians 2:13 (NET)

[27] Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

[28] Romans 10:14b (NET)

[29] Commentary on Galatians 4:6

[30] Commentary on Galatians 4:4, 5

[31] Commentary on Galatians 4:19

[32] Commentary on Galatians 5:22, 23

[33] Galatians 3:3 (NET)

Romans, Part 85

I’ve considered, For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers.[1]  Jesus was the only living descendant of Abraham worthy of the promised land and the kingdom of God at the moment both were taken (70 A.D.) from Abraham’s other descendants through Isaac.  As I write this they have regained partial control of the land and have been wresting more bit by bit from the descendants of Abram through Ishmael.

Manfred Davidmann wrote “that the Jewish people were expelled twice from the country God promised them with their grip on the country weakening at the present time.”  His prescription was that the Israelis should fashion a welfare state more or less like the federal government of the United States of America.  I will suggest that recognizing Jesus the Messiah as yehôvâh their God will better serve both purposes, holding the promised land and regaining the kingdom of God.

Not all the children [are] Abraham’s true descendants, Paul wrote believers in Rome, rather through Isaac will your descendants be counted.”  This means it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendantsFor this is what the promise declared: “About a year from now I will return and Sarah will have a son.”[2]  That alone may be reason enough for present day Israelis to defeat the present day descendants of Ishmael militarily.  But a lack of military prowess was probably not the reason the descendants of Isaac lost the land, and certainly not the reason they lost the kingdom of God.  It was always their failure to placate yehôvâh with sacrifices and offerings (Isaiah 66:1-3 Tanakh):

Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol.

Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.

Not only that, Paul continued his letter to Roman believers, but when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our ancestor Isaac – even before they were born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose in election would stand, not by works but by his calling) – it was said to her,The older will serve the younger,” just as it is written:Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”[3]  God’s purpose in election is where I can see how the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy[4] is logically dependent on Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers.  Paul also wrote believers in Rome (Romans 11:5-8 NET):

So in the same way [e.g., as in the time of Elijah] at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.  And if it is by grace, it is no longer by works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.  What then?  Israel failed to obtain what it was diligently seeking, but the elect obtained it.  The rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, to this very day.”

I take this to mean that apart from nearly eight centuries of yehôvâh’s hardening Jesus is born among a people who receive Him as Messiah and as yehôvâh their God, and that’s all she wrote: For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?[5]  We Gentiles who are alive today and believe in Jesus would never have been born of the flesh, not to mention redeemed by his grace (Romans 11:25-36 NET).

For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob.  And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers.  For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.  Just as you were formerly disobedient to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?  Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay him?

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever!  Amen.

And thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy.  As it is written,Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praises to your name.”[6]

Romans 15:9b (NET)

Parallel Greek

Septuagint Psalm 18:49

Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praises to your name. διὰ τοῦτο ἐξομολογήσομαι σοι ἐν ἔθνεσιν καὶ τῷ ὀνόματι σου ψαλῶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐξομολογήσομαί σοι ἐν ἔθνεσιν κύριε καὶ τῷ ὀνόματί σου ψαλῶ

I notice that as Paul put these words in the resurrected Jesus’ mouth he quoted the Septuagint verbatim except he removed the word κύριε (a form of κύριος), Lord, yehôvâh in Hebrew.  By doing likewise I can hear these words as Paul heard them spoken by Messiah to God his Father the morning of his resurrection (Psalm 18:46-50 NET):

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) is alive!  My protector is praiseworthy!  The God (ʼĕlôahh, אלוהי) who delivers me is exalted as king!  The one true God (ʼêl, האל) completely vindicates me; he makes nations submit to me.  He delivers me from my enemies; you snatch me away from those who attack me; you rescue me from violent men.  So I will give you thanks before the nations…I will sing praises to you!  He gives his chosen king magnificent victories; he is faithful to his chosen ruler, to David[7] and his descendants (zeraʽ, ולזרעו; singular) forever.

The Hebrew word translated The one true God above was translated High God in Genesis.  Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the Most High God[8] (ʼêl, לאל).  He blessed Abram, saying (Genesis 14:19, 20 NET):

“Blessed be Abram by the Most High God (ʼêl, לאל), Creator of heaven and earth.  Worthy of praise is the Most High God (ʼêl, אל), who delivered your enemies into your hand.”  Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything.

To Abram yehôvâh (יהוה) was the Most High God (ʼêl, אל), Creator of heaven and earth.[9]  The pattern is similar in Genesis 1 and 2: In the beginning God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) created the heavens and the earth.[10]  This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created – when the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) made the earth and heavens.[11]  There is no sense of contradiction or correction in either instance.  I described yehôvâh as “one of the ʼĕlôhı̂ym” because I don’t fully grasp the oneness of the ʼĕlôhı̂ym.

The Hebrew word ʼĕlôhı̂ym is “a plural form” which “refers to the one true God” with a “singular verb…as here.”[12]  Linguistically that would be a oneness of action implying a oneness of purpose, significantly different from the warring gods of the Gentiles, created by Gentiles in their own image.  I don’t have any reason to dispute that God is a oneness in essence, I just don’t know what I mean when I say it.  I know Trinitarians get really angry when I don’t say it.  Holy Father, Jesus prayed, keep [those you have given me] safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.[13]  Am I looking forward to a oneness of action and purpose or a oneness in essence?  So I wondered if ʼêl and ʼĕlôahh might be ones of the ʼĕlôhı̂ym as well as yehôvâh.  But as far as Abram was concerned yehôvâh is ʼêl.

Moses prophesied (Deuteronomy 32:15-18 NET):

But Jeshurun[14] became fat and kicked, you got fat, thick, and stuffed!  Then he deserted the God (ʼĕlôahh, אלוה) who made him, and treated the Rock who saved him with contempt.  They made him jealous with other gods (zûr, בזרים), they enraged him with abhorrent idols.  They sacrificed to demons, not God (ʼĕlôahh, אלה), to gods (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) they had not known; to new gods who had recently come along, gods your ancestors had not known about.  You have forgotten the Rock who fathered you, and put out of mind the God (ʼêl, אל) who gave you birth.

But David wrote: Indeed, who is God (ʼĕlôahh, אלוה) besides the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה)?  Who is a protector besides our God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהינו)?  The one true God (ʼêl, האל) gives me strength.[15]  Much as I would like to see ʼêl, yehôvâh, and ʼĕlôahh as the three persons of a triune ʼĕlôhı̂ym, unless David was writing some I-am-he-as-you-are-he-as-you-are-me[16] mysticism, I think I must accept ʼêl and ʼĕlôahh as generic terms for god.

And again it says, Paul continued, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”[17]

Romans 15:10b (NET) Parallel Greek

Septuagint Deuteronomy 32:43b

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people. εὐφράνθητε, ἔθνη, μετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ εὐφράνθητε ἔθνη μετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ

It comes at the end of Moses’ prophecy about Israel’s defection (Deuteronomy 32:36-39a Septuagint).

For the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) will judge his people and be comforted over his slaves.  For he saw them paralyzed, both failed under attack and enfeebled.  And the Lord said: Where are their gods (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהימו), they in whom they trusted, the fat of whose sacrifices you were eating and were drinking the wine of their libations?  See, see that I am, and there is no god (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) except me.

Each of us re-enacts this scenario to some degree, trusting in ourselves, the pagan gods or something other than yehôvâh/Jesus until our strength is gone.  I chose a translation of the Septuagint here because I learned something from the ancient rabbis I might have missed otherwise: He is comforted (Hebrew: nâcham, יתנחם; Greek: παρακληθήσεται, a form of παρακαλέω) by our helpless plight.  We do not return to an angry, vengeful God who seeks to return us evil for our evil, but One who is comforted.  And we are his slaves (Hebrew: ʽebed, עבדיו; Greek: δούλοις, a form δοῦλος) not because we have behaved obediently—we have been unbelieving and disobedient in this scenario—but because He has redeemed us with his blood (Isaiah 53:3-12 NET).

He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.  But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.  He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed.

All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord (yehôvâh, ויהוה) caused the sin of all of us to attack him.  He (e.g., yehôvâh) was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth.  Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth.  He was led away after an unjust trial – but who even cared?

Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.  They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully.

Though the Lord (yehôvâh, ויהוה) desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) purpose will be accomplished through him.  Having suffered, he will reflect on his work, he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.  “My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins.  So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, because he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the rebels, when he lifted up the sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”

Though He is comforted over his slaves (those redeemed by his blood), yehôvâh’s enemies incur his wrath (Deuteronomy 32:41b-43 Septuagint):

I will repay my enemies with a sentence, and those who hate me I will repay.  I will make my arrows drunk with blood—and my dagger shall devour flesh—with the blood of the wounded and of captives, from the head of the commanders of the enemies.

Be glad, O skies, with him, and let all the divine sons do obeisance to him.  Be glad, O nations, with his people, and let all the angels of God prevail for him.  For he will avenge the blood of his sons and take revenge and repay the enemies with a sentence, and he will repay those who hate, and the Lord shall cleanse the land of his people [NET: make atonement for his land and people].  

And again, Paul continued, “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him.”[18]

Romans 15:11 (NET)

Parallel Greek

Septuagint Psalm 117:1

Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him. αἰνεῖτε, πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, τὸν κύριον καὶ ἐπαινεσάτωσαν αὐτὸν πάντες οἱ λαοί αλληλουια αἰνεῖτε τὸν κύριον πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπαινέσατε[19] αὐτόν πάντες οἱ λαοί

In context [Psalm 116(117) Septuagint]:

Hallelouia.  Praise the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), all you nations!  Commend him, all you peoples, because his mercy became strong toward us, and the truth of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) endures forever.

And again Isaiah says, Paul continued, “The root of Jesse will come, and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles, in him will the Gentiles hope.”[20]

Romans 15:12 (NET)

Parallel Greek

Septuagint Isaiah 11:10a

The root of Jesse will come, and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles, in him will the Gentiles hope. ἔσται ἡ ρίζα τοῦ Ἰεσσαὶ καὶ ὁ ἀνιστάμενος ἄρχειν ἐθνῶν, ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν ἔσται ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ (a form of ἐκεῖνος) ἡ ῥίζα τοῦ Ιεσσαι καὶ ὁ ἀνιστάμενος ἄρχειν ἐθνῶν ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν

In context (Isaiah 11:10-13 Septuagint):

And it shall be on that day [ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ; e.g., when asps will not hurt or be able to destroy anyone on my holy mountain, vv. 8, 9] the root of Iessai [e.g., Jessie], even the one who stands up to rule nations; nations shall hope in him, and his rest shall be honor.  And it shall be on that day that the Lord (ʼădônây, אדני) will further display his hand to show zeal for the remnant that is left of the people, whatever is left from the Assyrians, and from Egypt and Babylonia and Ethiopia and from the Ailamites and from where the sun rises and out of Arabia.  And he will raise a signal for the nations and will gather the lost ones of Israel and gather the dispersed of Ioudas (e.g., Judah, the southern kingdom) from the four points of the earth.  And the jealousy of Ephraim (e.g., the northern kingdom of divided Israel) shall be taken away, and the enemies of Ioudas shall perish; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Ioudas, and Ioudas shall not afflict Ephraim.

Now may the God of hope, Paul continued, fill you with all joy (χαρᾶς, a form of χαρά) and peace (εἰρήνης, a form of εἰρήνη) as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.[21]  And, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy (χαρὰ, another form of χαρά), peace (εἰρήνη), patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.[22]

Romans, Part 86

[1] Romans 15:8 (NET)

[2] Romans 9:7-9 (NET)

[3] Romans 9:10-12 (NET)

[4] Romans 15:9a (NET)

[5] Romans 11:15 (NET)

[6] Romans 15:9 (NET)

[7] 2 Samuel 7:12-16 (NET)

[8] Genesis 14:18 (NET)

[9] Genesis 14:22 (NET)

[10] Genesis 1:1 (NET)

[11] Genesis 2:4 (NET)

[12] NET note 2

[13] John 17:11b (NET)

[14] NET note 32: “Jeshurun is a term of affection derived from the Hebrew verb יָשַׁר (yashar, ‘be upright’).  Here it speaks of Israel ‘in an ideal situation, with its “uprightness” due more to God’s help than his own efforts’ (M. Mulder, TDOT 6:475).”

[15] Psalm 18:31, 32a (NET)

[16] http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-am-the-walrus-lyrics-beatles.html

[17] Romans 15:10 (NET)

[18] Romans 15:11 (NET)

[19] http://biblehub.com/text/romans/15-11.htm

[20] Romans 15:12 (NET)

[21] Romans 15:13 (NET)

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

Romans, Part 84

For I tell you, Paul continued writing to believers in Rome, that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy.[1]  These are two seemingly independent clauses joined by the conjunction δὲ, “but, moreover, and.”  Any of these would be easier to understand than and thus, indicating that the second clause is logically dependent upon the first.  But rather than reject it I’m inclined to slow down and consider it very carefully.

The translators acknowledge the difficulty in a footnote (6): “There are two major syntactical alternatives which are both awkward: (1) One could make ‘glorify’ dependent on ‘Christ has become a minister’ and coordinate with ‘to confirm’ and the result would be rendered ‘Christ has become a minister of circumcision to confirm the promises…and so that the Gentiles might glorify God.’ (2) One could make ‘glorify’ dependent on ‘I tell you’ and coordinate with ‘Christ has become a minister’ and the result would be rendered ‘I tell you that Christ has become a minister of circumcision…and that the Gentiles glorify God.’ The second rendering is preferred.”

I began with a survey of the promises made to the fathers (πατέρων, a form of πατήρ):

…the promises made to the fathers… (τὰς ἐπαγγελίας τῶν πατέρων)

Abram Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-17; 15:1-7, 18-20; 17:1-8[2]
Abraham Genesis 17:18-21; 18:10-14, 17-19, 26-32; 21:12-13; 22:15-18
Isaac Genesis 26:2-5, 24
Jacob/Israel Genesis 28:13-15; 31:3; 35:9-12; 46:2-4

Some of the promises were personal and came to pass in the father’s own lifetime.  But look, the word of the Lord came to [Abram]: [Eliezer of Damascus] will not be your heir, but instead a son who comes from your own body will be your heir.”[3]   Is anything impossible for the Lord? He said to Abraham.  I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.[4]  The Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives.  I will be with you.”[5]  The promises made to all three concerned the land, their descendants and a singular descendant.

The Lord’s angel called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “‘I solemnly swear by my own name,’ decrees the Lord, ‘that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will greatly multiply your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) so that they will be as countless as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) will take possession (yârash, וירש; Septuagint: κληρονομήσει, a form of κληρονομέω, 3rd person singular) of the strongholds of their enemies.  Because you have obeyed me, all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants (zeraʽ, בזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular).’”[6]

“This word,” [zeraʽ, זרעך] C. John Collins wrote, “in the singular can refer to offspring, either in a collective sense or as a specific descendant (much as the English word ‘offspring’).”[7]  I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore, is an example of the singular in a “collective sense.”  [Desmond] “Alexander argues,” Mr Collins continued, “that the second and third instances of ‘offspring’ are used for a specific offspring.”[8]  Given that, and without any academic credentials to defend, I wonder about some of the other promises.  The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) appeared to Isaac and said (Genesis 26:2-5 NET):

“Do not go down to Egypt; settle down in the land that I will point out to you.  Stay in this land.  Then I will be with you and will bless you, for I will give all these lands to you and to your descendants (zeraʽ, ולזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular), and I will fulfill the solemn promise I made to your father Abraham.  I will multiply your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) so they will be as numerous as the stars in the sky, and I will give them (zeraʽ, לזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) all these lands.  All the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants (zeraʽ, בזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular).  All this will come to pass because Abraham obeyed me and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Did yehôvâh promise that, All the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of [Isaac, Esau and Jacob]…because Abraham obeyed Him?  The Tanakh is considerably more circumspect in translation: and by thy seed shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves; because that Abraham hearkened to My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.  To Jacob yehôvâh said (Genesis 28:13-15 NET):

“I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father Isaac.  I will give you and your descendants (zeraʽ, ולזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) the ground you are lying on.  Your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west, east, north, and south.  All the families of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using your name and that of your descendants (zeraʽ, ובזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular).  I am with you!  I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you!”

Did yehôvâh promise that, All the families of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name Israel?  Again, the Tanakh is more circumspect in translation: And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  Why would Gentiles translate the Scripture this way?  Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant, Paul wrote believers in Galatia.  Scripture does not say, “and to the descendants,” referring to many, but “and to your descendant,” referring to one, who is Christ.[9]

Why would contemporary Gentiles, the primary beneficiaries of these particular promises, change yehôvâh’s promises? and [Jesus Christ] shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in [Jesus Christ] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because [Abraham] hast hearkened to [His] voice.[10]  And, by [Jesus Christ] shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves; because that Abraham hearkened to [His] voice, and kept [His] charge, [His] commandments, [His] statutes, and [His] laws.[11]  And in [Israel] and in [Jesus Christ] shall all the families of the earth be blessed.[12]

And since I’ve gone down this rabbit hole I might as well complete the set: all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name[13]  [i.e., Abram], where the Tanakh reads: in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  It seems absurd to continue to defend one word thus.  But I didn’t start down this path trusting the translators of the NET.  What I called an inclination is a leading I have learned to trust following Jesus through the Scripture.  Still, I doubt this is what Paul had in mind. 

Look, your house is left to you desolate!” Jesus had said to the circumcised. “For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”[14]  “Look, your house is forsaken!  And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”[15]  It would be difficult for one who did not believe that Jesus is yehôvâh to understand how He has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to Abram/Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel.

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants (zeraʽ, לזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) I will give this land.”[16]  Isolated as this promise is I’m inclined to hear לזרעך as both, “in a collective sense” and “as a specific descendant.”  The idea that yehôvâh promised to give this land to yehôvâh come to earth in human flesh as Jesus the Messiah is admittedly unintelligible.  But the idea that yehôvâh promised Abram that one of his descendents, to whom the land was given, is yehôvâh come to earth in human flesh as Jesus the Messiah is powerful indeed.  Jesus is ever worthy, ever producing the fruit of the kingdom of God.  At a moment when the rest of the descendants of Israel were about to lose the vineyard as they would lose the kingdom of God Jesus has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to Abram/Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel.

After Lot had departed, the Lord said to Abram, “Look from the place where you stand to the north, south, east, and west.  I will give all the land that you see to you and your descendants (zeraʽ, ולזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) forever.  And I will make your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone is able to count the dust of the earth, then your descendants (zeraʽ, זרעך; Septuagint: σπέρμα, singular) also can be counted.  Get up and walk throughout the land, for I will give it to you.”[17]  That day the Lord made a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants (zeraʽ, לזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River – the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”[18]  And finally (Genesis 17:8 NET):

I will give the whole land of Canaan – the land where you are now residing – to you and your descendants (zeraʽ, ולזרעך; Septuagint: σπέρματί, singular) after you as a permanent possession.  I will be their (Septuagint: αὐτοῖς, plural) God.”

“So how did it come about,” Manfred Davidmann asked rhetorically, “that the Jewish people were expelled twice from the country God promised them with their grip on the country weakening at the present time?  Without a shadow of a doubt the Jewish people lost the country in the past because they did not fulfil their part of the bargain, because they broke the terms of the Covenant…In the language of religion, the land of Israel does not belong to anyone other than God.  Those who live in it may use and benefit from the land but only as long as they follow God’s laws.”[19]

Mr. Davidmann might have taught my Sunday school class.  The “Torah states a scientific law, the Social Cause-and-effect Relationship {1}, which is that the consequences of keeping or not keeping the Torah laws are inescapable, that what happens to one is in the end the inevitable result of one’s own behaviour…this is a scientific law which was defined and stated using the language of religion to get the message across to listeners in such a way that they could understand at least the effects of this ’cause-and-effect relationship’.”  He may have raised a few eyebrows with the adjective scientific but all in all I think my elders would have gone along with him.  I have a few comments about Mr. Davidmann’s abbreviated version of the law:

The essential social provisions of Torah law are clear and to the point.  This is what the Torah lays down as a matter of law {1}:

  1. The community has to provide (‘lend’) money to those who need it, free of interest.
  2. All such loans, if outstanding, are to be cancelled every seventh year.
  3. The country’s wealth, and this applies particularly to productive capital such as land, belongs equally to all and needs to be shared out.
  4. Inhabitants are also entitled to have a sabbatical year every seventh year. During this sabbatical year they are entitled to be freed from work at the expense of the community.

Every person is entitled as a matter of right to social security.  This means that people are entitled to be supported by the community not only when they fall on hard times but also to maintain their independence as independent breadwinners for their families.  For example, the community has to provide backup funds to those who need them and they have to be provided as and when required.

To prevent people being exploited through their need these funds have to be provided without charging interest and such ‘loans’ are cancelled every seventh year if the borrower has been unable to repay them.

It is the inhabitants who keep the social laws, who keep Torah law, who are entitled to these rights.

As for item #4 there is a qualitative and substantive difference between farmers trusting yehôvâh enough to let their lands go fallow one year in seven and an angry mob demanding their “rights” to a year’s vacation at “community” expense.  Aside from that federal, state and municipal governments in the United States of America provide most of these welfare benefits in spirit if not to the letter of the law.  But none of this is sufficient to fulfill the law.  It was the so-called moral law ignored by Mr. Davidmann that prescribed the death penalty for so many offenses, for the letter kills quite literally.

So here I am, one of the believing Gentiles [who] glorify God for his mercy (ἐλέους, a form of ἔλεος).  And this, because the righteousness of God which fulfills the law does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy (ἐλεῶντος, a form of ἐλεέω).[20]  No one can come to me, Jesus said, unless the Father who sent me draws him.[21]  So then, God has mercy (ἐλεεῖ, another form of ἐλεέω) on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens whom he chooses to harden.[22]  And what if he is willing to make known the wealth of his glory on the objects of mercy (ἐλέους, a form of ἔλεος) that he has prepared beforehand for glory – even us, whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?[23]

By that mercy I have been called to faith in Jesus Christ, forgiven of my sins, born from above, filled continuously with the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control of his Holy Spirit.  This only I want to learn from you, Paul wrote teetering believers in Galatia: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  Are you so foolish?  Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?[24]  It would be treasonous for me to turn back now and pretend that I might fulfill the law by obeying it, whether in part or in total.

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.[25]  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.[26]  I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing![27]

I’ll return to this in another essay.

Romans, Part 85

[1] Romans 15:8, 9a (NET)

[2] This is an interesting article I stumbled across searching for confirmation that σπέρμα, σπέρματί and σπέρματός are singular.  http://www.lionelwindsor.net/2010/03/16/the-singular-seed-of-galatians-316/

[3] Genesis 15:4 (NET)

[4] Genesis 18:14 (NET)

[5] Genesis 31:3 (NET)

[6] Genesis 22:15-18 (NET)

[7] C. John Collins, “GALATIANS 3:16: WHAT KIND OF EXEGETE WAS PAUL?” Tyndale Bulletin 54.1 (2003), p. 84

[8] Ibid., p. 85

[9] Galatians 3:16 (NET)

[10] Genesis 22:17b, 18 (Tanakh)

[11] Genesis 26:4b, 5 (Tanakh)

[12] Genesis 28:14b (Tanakh)

[13] Genesis 12:3b (NET)

[14] Matthew 23:38, 39 (NET)

[15] Luke 13:35 (NET)

[16] Genesis 12:7a (NET)

[17] Genesis 13:14-17 (NET)

[18] Genesis 15:18-21 (NET)

[19] http://www.solhaam.org/articles/land.html

[20] Romans 9:16 (NET)

[21] John 6:44a (NET)

[22] Romans 9:18 (NET)

[23] Romans 9:23, 24 (NET)

[24] Galatians 3:2-4 (NKJV)

[25] Romans 7:12 (NET)

[26] Romans 3:20b-22 (NET)

[27] Galatians 2:20, 21 (NET)

Romans, Part 83

But we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not just please ourselves.[1]  I assume that the weak (ἀδυνάτων, a form of ἀδύνατος) referred back to the one who is weak in the faith (ἀσθενοῦντα [a form of ἀσθενέω] τῇ πίστει).  The weak person (ἀσθενῶν, another form of ἀσθενέω) eats only vegetables[2] and has a tendency to judge[3] those who do not do likewise.  And I assume this weakness is an infirmity of the flesh, since even the lawwas weakened (ἠσθένει, another form of ἀσθενέω) through the flesh.[4]  Though Paul considered himself one of we who are strong, after the affliction that happened to [him] in the province of Asia[5] he identified wholeheartedly with the weak (2 Corinthians 11:29, 30 NET):

Who is weak (ἀσθενεῖ, another form of ἀσθενέω), and I am not weak (ἀσθενῶ, another form of ἀσθενέω)?  Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation?  If I must boast, I will boast about the things that show my weakness (ἀσθενείας, a form of ἀσθένεια).

Let each of us [who are strong] please his neighbor for his good to build him up.[6]  I’ve already written how I feel about the strong (δυνατοὶ, a form of δυνατός).  But the time I’ve spent knowing the only true God (e.g., Jesus’ Father), and Jesus Christ, whom [He] sent,[7] has made me less faith-weak now than when I began.  Perhaps it is time to begin to please (ἀρεσκέτω, a form of ἀρέσκω) [my] neighbor for his good to build him up, or at least to appreciate the scope of such an undertaking.

When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased (ἤρεσεν, another form of ἀρέσκω) Herod and his dinner guests.[8]  This pleasure may or may not have been sexual desire.  Herodius’ daughter Herodius is portrayed as completely clueless in the Gospel narratives: 1) No king would offer half his kingdom to a woman with any grasp of power.  Herod didn’t offer it to his wife Herodias, for instance.  2) The offer seems to have perplexed the girl and sent her to her mother for advice.  And, 3) she followed her mother’s grisly advice without argument or any hint of rebellion.  She seems to have been mentally incompetent or very young or both.

If Herodias’ daughter Herodias was also Salome mentioned by Josephus (Antiquities 18.5.4) she was possibly as young as 12, little more than 16.  If not, she was Salome’s little sister.  Still, pleasing my neighbor with some fancy footwork probably doesn’t qualify as for his good to build him up.  When a complaint arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the native Hebraic Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food,[9] the Apostles proposed a solution that may have been closer to what Paul had in mind (Acts 6:2b-4 NET):

It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to wait on tables.  But carefully select from among you, brothers, seven men who are well-attested, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this necessary task.  But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

The proposal pleased (ἤρεσεν, another form of ἀρέσκω) the entire group[10]

Do not give offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God, Paul wrote the Corinthians, just as I also try to please (ἀρέσκω) everyone in all things.[11]  Here, he equated pleasing everyone in all things to not giving offense to very disparate groups of people.  The Greek word translated offense is ἀπρόσκοποι (a form of ἀπρόσκοπος), defined quite beautifully in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon as “having nothing for one to strike against.”  I do not seek my own benefit, Paul continued, but the benefit of many, so that they may be saved.[12]

There are some caveats and warnings:

An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord, how to please (ἀρέσῃ, another form of ἀρέσκω) the Lord.  But a married man is concerned about the things of the world, how to please (ἀρέσῃ, another form of ἀρέσκω) his wife, and he is divided.  An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, to be holy both in body and spirit.  But a married woman is concerned about the things of the world, how to please (ἀρέσῃ, another form of ἀρέσκω) her husband.[13]

I assume that Paul thought a divided man might succeed at pleasing his wife, but I have not, not enough that she would stick it out with me.  It makes me doubly aware that if any good is to come from me Jesus must please Himself through me by his Holy Spirit rather than rely on me to do it for Him.  I will fail; He will not.  No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, Paul wrote Timothy, so that he may please (ἀρέσῃ, another form of ἀρέσκω) the one who enlisted him as a soldier.[14]  Those who are in the flesh cannot please (ἀρέσαι, another form of ἀρέσκω) God.[15]

Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God? Paul asked rhetorically in reference to the Galatians heeding a doctrine other than the grace of God in Jesus Christ.  Or am I trying to please (ἀρέσκειν, another form of ἀρέσκω) people?  If I were still trying to please (ἤρεσκον, another form of ἀρέσκω) people, I would not be a slave of Christ![16]

Finally then, brothers and sisters, we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received instruction from us about how you must live and please (ἀρέσκειν, another form of ἀρέσκω) God (as you are in fact living) that you do so more and more.[17]

For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please (ἀρέσκοντες, another form of ἀρέσκω) people but God, who examines our heartsFor we never appeared with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is our witness – nor to seek glory from people, either from you or from others[18]

For you became imitators, brothers and sisters, of God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, because you too suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they in fact did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us severely.  They are displeasing (μὴ ἀρεσκόντων, another form of ἀρέσκω) to God and are opposed to all people, because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved.[19]

These are not simple rules I might obey in my own strength or wisdom.  “Having nothing for one to strike against” among disparate people to please [my] neighbor for his good to build him up while pleasing God rather than people seems to describe a space, a terrain, where I need to be guided moment by moment by the Holy Spirit, with his love, his joy, his peace, his patience, his kindness, his goodness, his faithfulness, his gentleness and his control.  But this introduction to the scope of the terrain has prepared me to hear Romans 15:1-4 (NET):

But we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not just please (ἀρέσκειν, another form of ἀρέσκω) ourselves.  Let each of us please (ἀρεσκέτω, a form of ἀρέσκω) his neighbor for his good to build him up.  For even Christ did not please (ἤρεσεν, another form of ἀρέσκω) himself, but just as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”  For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.

The Greek words translated for his good are εἰς τὸ ἀγαθὸν (literally, “for this good”), though εἰς might have been translated “into, unto, to” or “towards.”  Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? Jesus asked rhetorically.  In the same way, every good (ἀγαθὸν, a form of ἀγαθός) tree bears good (καλοὺς, a form of καλός) fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good (ἀγαθὸν, a form of ἀγαθός) tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good (καλοὺς, a form of καλός) fruit.[20]  And, Why do you call me good (ἀγαθόν, a form of ἀγαθός)?  No one is good (ἀγαθὸς) except God alone.[21]

The good for my neighbor is not for him to try to do good.  Though that may please me (especially if he does that good for or to me) it is hypocrisy, the work of an actor imitating the good.  “I’m not good but I play good on TV.”  My neighbor’s good is to be good, every good tree bears good fruit, a good tree is not able to bear bad fruit.  My neighbor’s good is to be born from above, to be led by the Holy Spirit.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.[22]  And, No one is good except God alone.

The Greek words translated to build him up are πρὸς οἰκοδομήν (a form of οἰκοδομή).  I can glean a lot of Paul’s attitude concerning οἰκοδομή and pleasing one’s neighbor for his good from 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 (NET):

Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.  For the one speaking in a tongue does not speak to people but to God, for no one understands; he is speaking mysteries by the Spirit.  But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening (οἰκοδομὴν, a form of οἰκοδομή), encouragement, and consolation.  The one who speaks in a tongue builds (οἰκοδομεῖ, a form of οἰκοδομέω) himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up (οἰκοδομεῖ, a form of οἰκοδομέω) the church.  I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy.  The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be strengthened (οἰκοδομὴν, a form of οἰκοδομή).

Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, seek to abound in order to strengthen (οἰκοδομὴν, a form of οἰκοδομή) the church.[23]  When you come together, each one has a song, has a lesson, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.  Let all these things be done for the strengthening (οἰκοδομὴν, a form of οἰκοδομή) of the church.[24]  Paul wrote on this theme to believers in Ephesus as well (Ephesians 4:11-16 NIV):

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (οἰκοδομὴν, a form of οἰκοδομή) until we all reach unity (ἑνότητα, a form of ἑνότης) in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds (οἰκοδομὴν, a form of οἰκοδομή) itself up in love, as each part does its work.

You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up (οἰκοδομὴν, a form of οἰκοδομή) of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  You must put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk.  Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.[25]

Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity (φρονεῖν, a form of φρονέω; literally, “thought” or “thinking”) with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory.[26]

Romans, Part 84

[1] Romans 15:1 (NET)

[2] Romans 14:2b (NET)

[3] Romans 14:3 κρινέτω (a form of κρίνω); Romans 14:10 κρίνεις (another form of κρίνω)

[4] Romans 8:3b (NET)

[5] 2 Corinthians 1:8 (NET)

[6] Romans 15:2 (NET)

[7] John 17:3b (NET)

[8] Mark 6:22a (NET)  Also: Matthew 14:6

[9] Acts 6:1b (NET)

[10] Acts 6:5a (NET)

[11] 1 Corinthians 10:32-33a (NET)

[12] 1 Corinthians 10:33b (NET)

[13] 1 Corinthians 7:32b-34 (NET)

[14] 2 Timothy 2:4 (NASB)

[15] Romans 8:8 (NET)

[16] Galatians 1:10 (NET)

[17] 1 Thessalonians 4:1 (NET)

[18] 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 (NET)

[19] 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16a (NET)

[20] Matthew 7:16b-18 (NET)

[21] Mark 10:18 (NET)

[22] Romans 8:14 (NET)

[23] 1 Corinthians 14:12b (NET)

[24] 1 Corinthians 14:26b (NET)

[25] Ephesians 4:29-32 (NET)

[26] Romans 15:5-7 (NET)