Sexual Immorality Revisited, Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of ἀφίημι Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

Form of διδάσκω Reference KJV

NET

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

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

Form of πλανᾷ

Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of πορνεύω Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

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

Form of πορνεία Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of θυμός Reference KJV

NET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to My Deeds, Part 1

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

[2] Mark 10:9 (KJV)

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

[4] John 17:3 (NASB)

[5] John 4:16b (NET)

[6] John 4:17a (NET)

[7] John 4:18a (NET)

[8] Revelation 2:20a (NET)

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

[10] Revelation 2:20b (NET)

[11] Matthew 24:24 (NET)

[12] Revelation 2:20c (NET)

[13] Revelation 2:21 (NET)

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

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

[16] Matthew 19:3b (NET)

[17] John 8:41b (NET)

[18] Acts 15:20b (NET)

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

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

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

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

[23] Revelation 17:18 (NET)

[24] John 8:3a (NET)

[25] John 8:4 (NET)

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

[27] Revelation 2:22 (NET)

To Make Holy, Part 2

I’ll continue to look at the New Testament occurrences of forms of ἁγιάζω starting with ἁγιάσας and ἁγιάζον translated sanctifieth (KJV) and that makes sacred (NET).  Jesus turned his attention to the experts in the law and you Pharisees who were part (Matthew 22:15-46) of the crowds He addressed (Matthew 23:16-22 NET):

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple is bound by nothing.  But whoever swears by the gold of the temple is bound by the oath.’  Blind fools!  Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred (ἁγιάσας, a form of ἁγιάζω)?  And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing.  But if anyone swears by the gift on it he is bound by the oath.’  You are blind!  For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred (ἁγιάζον, another form of ἁγιάζω)?  So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.  And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and the one who dwells in it.  And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and the one who sits on it.

I began this study prompted by “Denny’s” assertion: “Satan deceives people with the Progressive Sanctification heresy…”[1]  In this passage it is fairly clear that the gold is sanctified by the temple immediately as the gift is sanctified by the altar.  Stealing the gold on Tuesday that was installed in the temple on Monday would not be a lesser offense against yehôvâh than stealing the gold that had been installed fifty years earlier.  And it would clearly be meaningless to speculate about the gold’s (or a slab of meat’s) experience of being sanctified.  So I’ll score two for “Denny.”

I don’t want to miss the point of the passage however (Matthew 5:33-37 NET):

Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’  But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.  Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black.  Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’  More than this is from the evil one (πονηροῦ, a form of πονηρός).

Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord, appears to be Jesus’ paraphrase of part of Leviticus 19:12 and Deuteronomy 23:21.

Matthew 5:33b (NET) Parallel Greek Septuagint

NETS

Do not break an oath οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις καὶ οὐκ ὀμεῖσθε τῷ ὀνόματί μου ἐπ᾽ ἀδίκῳ

Leviticus 19:12a

And you shall not swear by my name in an unjust matter…

Leviticus 19:12a

but fulfill your vows to the Lord. …ἀποδώσεις δὲ τῷ κυρίῳ τοὺς ὅρκους σου. …οὐ χρονιεῖς ἀποδοῦναι αὐτήν…

Deuteronomy 23:21b

…you shall not delay to pay it…

Deuteronomy 23:21b

Baelor Breakwind has written extensively on this topic on his blog: “Do not swear at all”: A History of Interpretation.  I won’t comment further except to add that we learn of Jesus’ ban against oaths in Matthew 5.  We don’t hear that religious leaders had turned swearing oaths into a complicated system for lying until Matthew 23.  It’s a fair bet that Jesus’ audience in Matthew 5 was well aware of the religious leaders’ hypocrisy regarding oaths.  Before Jesus banned oaths the law enjoined its followers to tell the truth and do what they say.  After the ban the law enjoined its followers to tell the truth and do what they say.  Making oaths was more or less irrelevant[2] until religious leaders institutionalized lying with them, all in yehôvâh’s name.

The next form of ἁγιάζω I’ll consider is ἁγιάσατε translated sanctify (KJV) and set apart (NET).  Peter wrote (1 Peter 3:13-18 NET):

For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good?  But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed.  But do not be terrified of them or be shaken.  But set Christ apart (ἁγιάσατε, another form of ἁγιάζω) as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.  Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil (κακοποιοῦντας, a form of κακοποιέω).  Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit.

There are variants in the Greek of 1 Peter 3:15 which have led to differing translations:

Parallel Greek (NET)

Textus Receptus

Byzantine/Majority Text

κύριον δὲ τὸν Χριστὸν ἁγιάσατε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ἕτοιμοι ἀεὶ πρὸς ἀπολογίαν παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι ὑμᾶς λόγον περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος (3:16) ἀλλὰ μετὰ πραΰτητος καὶ φόβου κυριον δε τον θεον αγιασατε εν ταις καρδιαις υμων ετοιμοι δε αει προς απολογιαν παντι τω αιτουντι υμας λογον περι της εν υμιν ελπιδος μετα πραυτητος και φοβου κυριον δε τον θεον αγιασατε εν ταις καρδιαις υμων ετοιμοι δε αει προς απολογιαν παντι τω αιτουντι υμας λογον περι της εν υμιν ελπιδος μετα πραυτητος και φοβου

A note (24) in the NET explained: “Most later mss…have θεόν (theon, ‘God’) instead of Χριστόν (Criston; ‘Christ’) here. But Χριστόν is widely supported by excellent and early witnesses…and as a less common idiom better explains the rise of the other reading.”  And I take it to mean that Christ is yehôvâh, though I had a real question whether Peter could have possibly meant that.  The first passage that came to mind seemed promising (1 Peter 1:10, 11):

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully.  They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory.

Here all three Greek versions agree that Peter wrote Spirit of Christ (πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ).

1 Peter 1:11

Parallel Greek (NET) Textus Receptus

Byzantine/Majority Text

ἐραυνῶντες εἰς τίνα ἢ ποῖον καιρὸν ἐδήλου τὸ ἐν αὐτοῖς πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ προμαρτυρόμενον τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήματα καὶ τὰς μετὰ ταῦτα δόξας ερευνωντες εις τινα η ποιον καιρον εδηλου το εν αυτοις πνευμα χριστου προμαρτυρομενον τα εις χριστον παθηματα και τας μετα ταυτα δοξας ερευνωντες εις τινα η ποιον καιρον εδηλου το εν αυτοις πνευμα χριστου προμαρτυρομενον τα εις χριστον παθηματα και τας μετα ταυτα δοξας

Indeed the Spirit who spoke Isaiah 53 was none other than yehôvâh, though the translators of the NET didn’t think it prudent to continue his speech in quotation marks until verse 52:13, and though the quotation marks never actually closed they are opened again in 53:11b (Isaiah 52:5b, 6 NET):

“Indeed my people have been carried away for nothing, those who rule over them taunt,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), “and my name is constantly slandered all day long.  For this reason my people will know my name, for this reason they will know at that time that I am the one who says, ‘Here I am.’”

And Jermiah wrote (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NET):

“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.  It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt.  For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds.  I will be their God and they will be my people.

“People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me.  For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”

I want to pause here a moment to reflect.  Larry D. Pettegrew in his essay “The New Covenant” wrote, “the covenant is amazing in what it offers.  It presents the solutions to all of life’s deep problems, including cleansing from sin and an intimate relationship with the God of the universe.  Any reasonable person would want to become a part of this covenant.”  He outlined the new covenant in five subject headings:

New: “He speaks of a new covenant, not a covenant renewal, and thereby assumes a radical break with the Mosaic tradition.”
Everlasting and irrevocable: “The Mosaic Covenant depended on the ability of the people to keep their part of the contract….But the New Covenant, like the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants made with Israel, was declared everlasting and irrevocable, based on the promise of the sovereign, faithful God of the universe.”
Transformation: “[W]hat is here outlined is the picture of a new man, a man who is able to obey perfectly because of a miraculous change of his nature.”
Forgiveness: “Above all else, the shed blood of the Son of God provided the means of final and permanent forgiveness. New Covenant forgiveness of sins is of a different nature than forgiveness of sins under the Old Covenant.”
Consummation of relationship: “In that future kingdom, a perfect mediatorial king, the Lord Jesus Christ, will rule (Isa 42:1-4), and the people will all have experienced the new birth (Ezek 11:17-20).”

It is good to be reminded just who and what the new covenant ἐκκλησία is and what direction institutional churches should be leading or following.  Paul wrote Roman believers (Romans 11:11, 12 NET):

I ask then, [Israel] did not stumble into an irrevocable fall, did they?  Absolutely not!  But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel jealous.  Now if their transgression means riches for the world and their defeat means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full restoration bring?

In [the Spirit], Peter continued, [Jesus] went and preached (ἐκήρυξεν, a form of κηρύσσω) to the spirits in prison, after they were disobedient long ago when God patiently waited in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed.  In the ark a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water.[3]  At first I thought Peter had intended to distinguish between Jesus and yehôvâh, for Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord (yehôvâh),[4] and, The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, for I consider you godly among this generation.”[5]  But as I looked more carefully at the Scripture throughout the time that might be considered God patiently waited (Genesis 6:9-22) yehôvâh was not mentioned once.  It was the plural ʼĕlôhı̂ym, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who waited patiently.

Form of ʼĕlôhı̂ym Reference

KJV

NET

האלהים Genesis 6:9 …and Noah walked with God. He walked with God.
Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God The earth was ruined in the sight of God
אלהים Genesis 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt… God saw the earth, and indeed it was ruined…
Genesis 6:13 And God said unto Noah… So God said to Noah…
Genesis 6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him… And Noah did all that God commanded him…

Peter recognized this distinction with the Greek word θεοῦ (a form of θεός).

Be that as it may, whether I sanctify Christ as yehôvâh in my heart or as a Lord, or sanctify the Lord God in my heart, I am not making Christ or God holy (thus set apart in the NET).  I am recognizing his holiness.  Now, I might ask “Denny,” am I doing this once for all time or moment by moment as I am cleansed with the washing of the water by the word, progressively yielding more and more to his holiness as my mind is renewed?  Do not be conformed to this present world, Paul wrote believers in Rome, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.[6]

So I’ll end this essay with the first occurrence of ἁγιάσῃ (another form of ἁγιάζω) translated might sanctify (KJV) and to sanctify (NET).  Paul wrote believers in Ephesus (Ephesians 5:25b-27 NET):

Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify (ἁγιάσῃ, another form of ἁγιάζω) her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.

While Christ’s death was certainly once for all, the cleansingwith the washing of the water by the word is surely continuous and, hopefully, cumulative and progressive as it pertains both to our own sanctification and our sanctifying of Christ as yehôvâh in our hearts or as a Lord, or sanctifying the Lord God in our hearts.

I began this study of ἁγιάζω to find a biblical language that both did justice to my experience and might satisfy “Denny.”  I don’t know “Denny” nor does he have any authority over me except that which I allow him by the weight of his argument:

Hebrews 10:10 says, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Here the Bible says we are sanctified once through the body of Christ…

We should endeavor to be holy, to be Christ-like, to live sanctified lives, but we have seen that we cannot attain the holiness that our just God requires. That’s why Jesus had to die for us. We cannot see the Lord unless we accept the sanctification which He has provided for us, and reject self-sanctification.

I certainly don’t believe that progressive sanctification is self-sanctification any more than a once for all sanctification is self-achieved.  I would consider our acceptance—“we accept the sanctification which He has provided”—the moment by moment acquisition of Christ’s sanctification, as the part that is not once for all and therefore potentially perceptible as progressive.  Though on-again-off-again, led by the Spirit, led by the flesh describes my experience even better: My progress being simply more time spent on-again, led by the Holy Spirit, than off-again, wallowing in the flesh.  So I’ve been brought to an odd place.  And I’m not prepared to determine yet if it feels odd because it is new or because it is erroneous:

I am sanctified by Christ once for all, perfectly and completely.  He (or God) is sanctified by me slowly over time, progressively.

Obviously, Christ’s sanctification makes (or, made) me holy while my sanctification merely recognizes his holiness.  But I admit to coming from a very dark and distant place where God and Christ seemed anything but holy to me.

To Make Holy, Part 3

[1] THE PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION HERESY, Denny’s Christian Writings, November 16, 2007

[2] From: “Oath,” Jewish Virtual Library: “The estimate of the biblical period that there was nothing amiss in oaths is manifest in the frequency with which God is represented as swearing. Indeed, the invocation of God in oaths was highly appreciated for its confessional value: ‘You must revere YHWH your God: Him shall you worship, to Him shall you hold fast, by His name shall you swear’ (Deut. 10:20; cf. 6:13). So much was this so that swearing by YHWH could be used as a synonym of adhering to Him: Psalms 63:12; Isaiah 19:18 (cf. Targ. and Radak); 48:1; Jeremiah 44:26; Zephaniah 1:5 (cf. Targ.). Contrariwise, apostasy is expressed through swearing by other gods: Joshua 23:7 (cf. Ex. 23:13); Amos 8:14; Jeremiah 5:7; 12:16. Ibn Ezra’s comment to Hosea 4:15 illuminates the sentiment: ‘Adhering to God carries with it the obligation to make mention of Him in all one’s affairs, and to swear by His name, so that all who listen may perceive that he adheres lovingly to God, the name and mention of Him being always on his lips.’ The only offense recognized in connection with oaths by YHWH was, ‘Though they may swear, “By the life of YHWH,” yet they swear falsely’ (Jer. 5:2). Ecclesiastes is the only biblical writer who is wary of oaths. In 8:2–3a, he cites a proverb, ‘Do not rush into uttering an oath by God’ (cf. a parallel wariness of vows in 5:1–6). From here it is but a step to Ben Sira’s warning against addiction to oaths (23:9ff.), and Philo’s recommendation to avoid them entirely (Decal. 84).”

[3] 1 Peter 3:19, 20 (NET)

[4] Genesis 6:8 (NET) יהוה

[5] Genesis 7:1 (NET)

[6] Romans 12:2 (NET)

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 8

I was standing between the Lord and you at that time, Moses said to Israel, to reveal to you the message of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), because you were afraid (yârêʼ, יראתם) of the fire and would not go up the mountain.[1]  Then he recounted the ten commandments.  Within them was a fearful description of yehôvâh: I punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject me[2]  And in a footnote (11) the translators made it perfectly clear what form of punishment they had in mind: “God sometimes punishes children for the sins of a father (cf. Num 16:27, 32; Josh 7:24-25; 2 Sam 21:1-9).”  In other words yehôvâh executes the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject Him.

That’s what I thought.  And that’s why I love the NET.  Apart from its written record I would look back and think I had been completely insane.  It’s not that I had the NET to read when I was young, but that its translators came of age in the same religious milieu as I did.  So in the spirit of fearing the Lord I want to slow way down to consider how they arrived at I punish as a translation of the Hebrew word pâqad (פקד; Septuagint: ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι).  And this fear is not reverence, but the fear that keeps one from direct intercourse with yehôvâh.  Only Moses risked that, because you were afraid of the fire and would not go up the mountain.

In Exodus 20:5 (NET) pâqad was translated responding.

Form of pâqad Reference KJV NET
פקד Exodus 20:5 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children…
Deuteronomy 5:9 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… I punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons…

I intend to track pâqad, ʽâvôn (עון; translated to the transgression and for the sin) and śânêʼ (לשׁנאי; translated of those who reject me and who reject me) from the beginning to the giving of the law, and then from there to its restatement in Deuteronomy.  I first encountered ʽâvôn from the mouth of Cain after he attacked his brother Abel and killed him.[3]

So now, you are banished from the ground, yehôvâh said to him, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.[4]  Up to that time Cain had cultivated the groundWhen you try to cultivate the ground, yehôvâh continued, it will no longer yield its best for you.  You will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.[5]  Cain lamented (Genesis 4:13b, 14 NET):

My punishment (ʽâvôn, עוני) is too great to endure!  Look!  You are driving me off the land today, and I must hide from your presence.  I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth; whoever finds me will kill me.

Here the translators assumed that Cain lamented his punishment rather than his sin; ʽâvôn can mean both.  When yehôvâh prophesied to Abram the translators assumed the Amorites were not punished in the promised land they inhabited but that the land itself would not be given to Abram’s descendants until the Amorites’ sin reached some predetermined limit (Genesis 15:13b-16 NET):

Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign country.  They will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.  But I will execute judgment on the nation that they will serve.  Afterward they will come out with many possessions.  But as for you, you will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age.  In the fourth generation your descendants will return here, for the sin (ʽâvôn, עון) of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.

But Abram/Abraham had no son yet by his wife Sarah (Genesis 17:15-21).

Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife, you must no longer call her Sarai; Sarah will be her name.  I will bless her and will give you a son through her.  I will bless her and she will become a mother of nations.  Kings of countries will come from her!”

Then Abraham bowed down with his face to the ground and laughed as he said to himself, “Can a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old?  Can Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”  Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live before you!”

God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac.  I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual covenant for his descendants after him.  As for Ishmael, I have heard you.  I will indeed bless him, make him fruitful, and give him a multitude of descendants.  He will become the father of twelve princes; I will make him into a great nation.  But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year.”

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest time of the day.  Abraham looked up and saw three men standing across from him.[6]  One of them said, “I will surely return to you when the season comes round again, and your wife Sarah will have a son!”[7]

So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “After I am worn out will I have pleasure, especially when my husband is old too?”

The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child when I am old?’  Is anything impossible for the Lord?  I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.”  Then Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid (yârêʼ, יראה).  But the Lord said, “No!  You did laugh.”[8]

The next occurrence of ʽâvôn involved the judgment and condemnation of Sodom.  At dawn the angels hurried Lot along, saying, “Get going!  Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be destroyed when the city is judged (ʽâvôn)!”[9]  Competing values had met at Lot’s front door (Genesis 19:4-9a NET):

Before they could lie down to sleep, all the men – both young and old, from every part of the city of Sodom – surrounded the house.  They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”

Lot went outside to them, shutting the door behind him.  He said, “No, my brothers!  Don’t act so wickedly (râʽaʽ, תרעו)!  Look, I have two daughters who have never had sexual relations with a man.  Let me bring them out to you, and you can do to them whatever you please.  Only don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Out of our way!” they cried, and “This man came to live here as a foreigner, and now he dares to judge us!  We’ll do more harm (râʽaʽ, נרע) to you than to them!”

The two angels, yehôvâh’s messengers, didn’t allow the men of Sodom to fulfill their desire, nor did they allow Lot to defile his daughters to fulfill his family’s ideal of hospitality.  They struck the men who were at the door of the house, from the youngest to the oldest, with blindness.[10]   And that brings me to the first occurrence of pâqad.

The Lord visited (pâqad, פקד) Sarah just as he had said he would and did for Sarah what he had promised.[11]  The rabbis who translated the Septuagint chose ἐπεσκέψατο (a form of ἐπισκέπτομαι) here.  I find ἐπεσκέψατο at the beginning of the fulfillment of another promise as well.  The Jerusalem Council listened to Barnabas and Paul while they explained all the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.[12] James replied (Acts 15:13b-18 NET):

“Brothers, listen to me.  Simeon has explained (Acts 15:7-11) how God first concerned himself (ἐπεσκέψατο, a form of ἐπισκέπτομαι) to select from among the Gentiles a people for his name.  The words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the fallen tent of David; I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord, namely, all the Gentiles I have called to be my own, says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.”

James didn’t quote the Septuagint.

Acts 15:16, 17 (NET) Acts 15:16, 17 Parallel Greek Amos 9:11, 12 Septuagint Amos 9:11, 12 NETS
‘After this… μετὰ ταῦτα… ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ… On that day…
…I will return… …ἀναστρέψω…
…and I will rebuild the fallen tent of David… καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυὶδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν ἀναστήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυιδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν… …I will raise up the tent of David that is fallen…
…καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὰ πεπτωκότα αὐτῆς… …and rebuild its ruins…
…I will rebuild its ruins… …καὶ τὰ |κατεσκαμμένα| αὐτῆς ἀνοικοδομήσω… …καὶ τὰ κατεσκαμμένα αὐτῆς ἀναστήσω… …and raise up its destruction…
…and restore it… …καὶ ἀνορθώσω αὐτήν… …καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω αὐτὴν καθὼς αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ αἰῶνος… …and rebuild it as the days of old…
…so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord, namely, all the Gentiles I have called to be my own,’ says the Lord, who makes these things… …ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὸν κύριον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐφ᾿ οὓς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομα μου ἐπ᾿ αὐτούς, λέγει κύριος ποιῶν ταῦτα… …ὅπως ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐφ᾽ οὓς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐπ᾽ αὐτούς λέγει κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιῶν ταῦτα… …in order that those remaining of humans and all the nations upon whom my name has been called might seek out me, says the Lord who does these things.

But the Septuagint version of Amos 9:12 is much closer to James’ quotation than the Hebrew from which our Bibles have been translated.

Amos 9:12 (NET) Amos 9:12 (KJV)

Amos 9:12 (Tanakh)

“As a result they will conquer those left in Edom and all the nations subject to my rule.”  The Lord, who is about to do this, is speaking! That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

The first occurrence of śânêʼ is found in the words with which Rebekah’s family blessed her when she left them to marry Abraham’s and Sarah’s son Isaac: Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands!  May your descendants possess the strongholds of their enemies (śânêʼ).[13]  But enemies as a translation of śânêʼ did not mean open warfare exclusively.  It could include the fear of a potential enemy.  Abimelech said to Isaac, “Leave us and go elsewhere, for you have become much more powerful than we are.”[14]  When Abimelech saw how yehôvâh had blessed Isaac and sought a treaty with him, Isaac asked, Why have you come to me?  You hate (śânêʼ, שׁנאתם) me and sent me away from you. [15]

The Hebrew word śânêʼ was also used to describe personal preference.  Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, Esau and Jacob.  Jacob married two women, Leah and Rachel.  Rachel was beautiful.  Leah was not.  When evening came Jacob preferred to bed Rachel over Leah.  When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved (śânêʼ, שׁנואה), he enabled her to become pregnant while Rachel remained childless.[16]  She became pregnant again and had another son.  She said, “Because the Lord heard that I was unloved (śânêʼ, שׁנואה), he gave me this one too.”[17]

From the perspective of the word usage of śânêʼ it matters very little whether Leah was a superstitious woman who mistook happenstance for interaction with yehôvâh.  As a matter of faith in yehôvâh it is important to remember that Moses was not afraid of the fire, went up the mountain and spoke directly with Him.  He said of Moses (Numbers 12:6-8a NET):

Hear now my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) will make myself known to him in a vision; I will speak with him in a dream.  My servant Moses is not like this; he is faithful in all my house.  With him I will speak face to face, openly, and not in riddles; and he will see the form of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).

It was Moses who wrote that yehôvâh saw (râʼâh, וירא) that Leah was unloved and enabled her to become pregnant.  If I believe, the details pulse with life.  Leah concurred with yehôvâh at first: The Lord has looked (râʼâh, ראה) with pity on my oppressed condition,[18] she said when she was not having regular sex with Jacob.  But after she was and had given birth to two sons, Reuben and Simeon, the idea that yehôvâh saw her became less comforting: the Lord heard (shâmaʽ, ושמע) that I was unloved, she amended her statement of faith.

So then faith comes by hearing,[19] Paul wrote the Romans.  The best way to avoid faith in yehôvâh is to avoid the Bible.  Don’t read it for yourself or listen to preaching or teaching from it.  The second best way to avoid faith in yehôvâh is to read the Bible, study it even, listen to plenty of sermons from it, but keep your mind focused on rules for you to obey.  I know.  I did it for years.

With my mind focused on my own compliance, or lack of compliance, to rules derived from the law I missed the grace of God, his gift of righteousness, the fruit of his Spirit.  Although they see they do not see, and although they hear they do not hear nor do they understand,[20] Jesus promised those who trusted their religion, rites and rituals rather than yehôvâhWoe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, He critiqued their labors, hypocrites!  You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves![21]

Elsewhere I called my attempt “to keep yehôvâh’s law in my own strength…an occupational hazard of reading the Old Testament with a willing heart…If yehôvâh said do this or don’t do that, I said okay, and woke up somewhere in the story of David to the fact that I was striving again to keep the law in my own strength, without malice or forethought.”  Jesus read the Old Testament and concluded, You must all be born from above[22] because what is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[23]  Keeping that in view and remaining open to understanding how He got that out of the Old Testament helps to minimize the “occupational hazard” of studying it.  Another more manual technique has been to deny my suspicions of yehôvâh, to take Him at his word, and to become more suspicious of the motives (1 Timothy 1:5-7) and agendas (Galatians 4:17-31) of those who would dissuade me from trusting his salvation.

Eventually, Rachel had a son, Joseph.  When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated (śânêʼ, וישׁנאו) Joseph and were not able to speak to him kindlyJoseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated (śânêʼ, שׁנא) him even more.[24]  He said to them (Genesis 37:6-8 NET):

“Listen to this dream I had: There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the middle of the field.  Suddenly my sheaf rose up and stood upright and your sheaves surrounded my sheaf and bowed down to it!”  Then his brothers asked him, “Do you really think you will rule over us or have dominion over us?”  They hated (śânêʼ, שׁנא) him even more because of his dream and because of what he said.

Joseph had another dream, and told it to his brothers (Genesis 37:9, 10 NET).

“Look,” he said.  “I had another dream.  The sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”  When he told his father and his brothers, his father rebuked him, saying, “What is this dream that you had?  Will I, your mother, and your brothers really come and bow down to you?”

Joeseph’s brothers’ śânêʼ was no mere emotion.  They plotted to kill him.  But Reuben, the eldest, talked them down from killing Joseph.  Then Judah said to his brothers (Genesis 37:26-28 NET):

“What profit is there if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?  Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not lay a hand on him, for after all, he is our brother, our own flesh.”  His brothers agreed.  So when the Midianite merchants passed by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.  The Ishmaelites then took Joseph to Egypt.

An Egyptian named Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard, purchased [Joseph] from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there (Genesis 39:1b-6a NET).

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was with Joseph.  He was successful and lived in the household of his Egyptian master.  His master observed that the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was with him and that the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) made everything he was doing successful.  So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal attendant.  Potiphar appointed (pâqad, ויפקדהו) Joseph overseer of his household and put him in charge of everything he owned.  From the time Potiphar appointed (pâqad, הפקיד) him over his household and over all that he owned, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) blessed the Egyptian’s household for Joseph’s sake.  The blessing of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was on everything that he had, both in his house and in his fields.  So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; he gave no thought to anything except the food he ate.

In the Septuagint these two occurrences of pâqad were translated κατέστησεν and κατασταθῆναι (forms of καθίστημι).  Who then is the faithful and wise slave, Jesus asked, whom the master has put in charge (κατέστησεν, a form of καθίστημι) of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes.  I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge (καταστήσει, another form of καθίστημι) of all his possessions.[25]

I’ll pick this up in another essay.  The tables I’ve used here follow.

Form of pâqad Reference KJV NET
פקד Genesis 21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had… The Lord visited Sarah just as he had said…
Genesis 50:24 …and God will surely visit you… …But God will surely come to you…
Genesis 50:25 …God will surely visit you… ..God will surely come to you…
Exodus 3:16 …I have surely visited you… …I have attended carefully to you…
Exodus 4:31 …they heard that the LORD had visited …heard that the Lord had attended to…
Exodus 13:19 …God will surely visit you… …God will surely attend to you…
Exodus 20:5 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children…
ויפקדהו Genesis 39:4 …and he made him overseer over his… Potiphar appointed Joseph overseer of…
הפקיד Genesis 39:5 …he had made him overseer in his house… Potiphar appointed him over his…
ויפקד Genesis 40:4 charged Joseph with them… appointed Joseph to be their attendant…
Genesis 41:34 …and let him appoint officers over the… he should appoint officials throughout…
יפקד Genesis 50:24 …and God will surely visit you …But God will surely come to you
Genesis 50:25 …God will surely visit you ..God will surely come to you
Exodus 13:19 …God will surely visit you… …God will surely attend to you…
פקדתי Exodus 3:16 I have surely visited you… I have attended carefully to you…
Form of ʽâvôn Reference KJV NET
עוני Genesis 4:13 My punishment is greater than I can bear. My punishment is too great to endure!
עון Genesis 15:16 …for the iniquity of the Amorites is not… …for the sin of the Amorites has not yet…
Genesis 44:16 …found out the iniquity of thy servants… …God has exposed the sin of your servants!
Exodus 20:5 …visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… …responding to the transgression of fathers…
בעון Genesis 19:15 …be consumed in the iniquity of the city. …will be destroyed when the city is judged!
Form of śânêʼ Reference KJV NET
שׁנאיו Genesis 24:60 …possess the gate of those which hate …possess the strongholds of their enemies.
שׁנאתם Genesis 26:27 …ye hate me, and have sent me away… You hate me and sent me away from you.
שׁנואה Genesis 29:31 …the LORD saw that Leah was hated …the Lord saw that Leah was unloved
Genesis 29:33 …the LORD hath heard that I was hated …the Lord heard that I was unloved
וישׁנאו Genesis 37:4 they hated him, and could not speak… they hated Joseph and were not able to…
שׁנא Genesis 37:5 …and they hated him yet the more. they hated him even more.
Genesis 37:8 And they hated him yet the more for his… They hated him even more because of his…
שׁנאינו Exodus 1:10 …they join also unto our enemies …will ally themselves with our enemies
שׁנאי Exodus 18:21 …men of truth, hating covetousness… …men of truth, those who hate bribes…
לשׁנאי Exodus 20:5 …generation of them that hate me …generations of those who reject me

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 9

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 10

[1] Deuteronomy 5:5 (NET)

[2] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[3] Genesis 4:8b (NET)

[4] Genesis 4:11 (NET)

[5] Genesis 4:12 (NET)

[6] Genesis 18:1, 2a (NET)

[7] Genesis 18:10a (NET)

[8] Genesis 18:12-15 (NET)

[9] Genesis 19:15 (NET) בעון

[10] Genesis 19:11a (NET)

[11] Genesis 21:1 (NET)

[12] Acts 15:12 (NET)

[13] Genesis 24:60 (NET) שׁנאיו

[14] Genesis 26:16 (NET)

[15] Genesis 26:27 (NET)

[16] Genesis 29:31 (NET)

[17] Genesis 29:33a (NET)

[18] Genesis 29:32a (NET)

[19] Romans 10:17a (NKJV)

[20] Matthew 13:13b (NET)

[21] Matthew 23:15 (NET)

[22] John 3:7b (NET)

[23] John 3:6 (NET)

[24] Genesis 37:4, 5 (NET)

[25] Matthew 24:45-47 (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)

Who Am I? Part 6

I wrote:

It’s axiomatic to me that Jesus didn’t utilize his own godliness, but trusted the Holy Spirit that descended like a dove from heaven, andremained on him.[11]  Otherwise, Jesus’ invitation and command, Follow me,[12] is little more than a cruel joke.

And:

As I’ve written before it is axiomatic to me that the way Jesus loved us was through that same love He received from the Holy Spirit that descended like a dove from heaven, andremained on him.[43]  He prayed as much to his Father if one has ears to hear: I made known your name to them, and I will continue to make it known, so that the love (ἀγάπηyou have loved (ἠγάπησας, a form of ἀγαπάωme with may be in them, and I may be in them.[44]

And:

As I’ve written before,[20] it is axiomatic to me that Jesus’ holiness was from the Holy Spirit rather than his own divine nature.  Otherwise, his command and invitation, Follow me, would be meaningless to sinful human beings.

In the movie Casper there is a comic bit when Casper (voiced by Malachi Pearson), a friendly ghost, gets excited to show Kat (Christina Ricci), a living girl, a secret laboratory.  He takes her by the hand and leads her into a place she can’t follow—through a wall.  In the beginning that’s almost all I meant by my “axiom.”  Jesus wasn’t commanding us to follow Him somewhere we couldn’t go.  In fact, before He began to make appearances through walls behind locked doors He said plainly, Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow later.[1]

Over time though my “axiom” has come to mean so much more: When I am anything less than Christlike I no longer think: “Oh, He is God and I am not.”  Instead, I know that I am living according to the flesh (Romans 8:5-11), that I’ve fallen away from grace.  One would think I would know better by now but apparently I do not.  It alerts me that it is time to stop relying on myself and get back to trusting Jesus, relying on his Spirit.  But that weight deserves something weightier than an axiom.  Jesus said (John 14:10 NET):

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?  The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον).

Translating ἔργα miraculous deeds isn’t wrong.  Now when John heard in prison about the ἔργα Christ had done[2] Jesus described those deeds this way: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them.[3]  This is a list of miraculous deeds including the act of proclaiming good news (εὐαγγελίζονται, a form of εὐαγγελίζω) and the good news (εὐαγγέλιον) which was proclaimed.  None of it happens apart from the Holy Spirit.  For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) than these, so that you will be amazed.  For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes.[4]  Now as Jesus was passing by, he saw a man who had been blind from birth (John 9:1-7 NET).

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that the acts (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) of God may be revealed through what happens to him.  We must perform (ἐργάζεσθαι, a form of ἐργάζομαι) the deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) of the one who sent me as long as it is daytime.  Night is coming when no one can work (ἐργάζεσθαι, a form of ἐργάζομαι).  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  Having said this, he spat on the ground and made some mud with the saliva. He smeared the mud on the blind man’s eyes and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated “sent”).  So the blind man went away and washed, and came back seeing.

But the adjective miraculous shouldn’t blind us to the less showy ἔργα the Holy Spirit residing (μένων, a form of μένω) in believers performs (ποιεῖ, a form of ποιέω) all the time:

It was after eleven Sunday night.  I had to get up early to catch a flight Monday morning.  My neighbor was listening to some speed metal.  The bass vibrated my bed.  I had every right to be angry, didn’t I?  I, as a composer, had given up music because it kept me too connected to the sensuality of the world.  (Never mind that I wasn’t that good at performing or composing music.)  As I lay there beginning to simmer a self-righteous snit, that still small voice reminded me that Monday was Memorial Day, a holiday for my neighbor.  All I really needed to do that day was get up, get to the airport and fly to my destination.  After that I’d be off, too.  All the while the Holy Spirit’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control washed away my self-righteous anger like a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.  And to top it off, the very moment He won that skirmish with the dead and dying flesh in my body the song ended, my neighbor turned off his stereo and went to bed, just so I didn’t miss the point (Matthew 5:15, 16; John 3:20, 21 NET).

People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good (καλὰ, a form of καλός) deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) and give honor to your Father in heaven.

For everyone who does evil deeds (φαῦλα, a form of φαῦλος) hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) will not be exposed.  But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) have been done in God.

When I live according to the flesh I become a puffed-up weakling, Satan’s fool.  When Jesus was overcome by the flesh of Adam He was still God: He cursed the fig tree and it withered and died (Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-25).  I find it difficult to understand Jonathan Edwards’ portrayal of God to his congregation in his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in the light of Paul’s letter to believers in Rome (Romans 8:31b-39 NET):

If God is for us, who can be against us?  Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is the one who will condemn?  Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us.  Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Still, I do see a time when sinners, Jerusalem, the whole world, perhaps even the created cosmos were in extreme danger of falling into the hands of an angry God.  Jesus was no demigod: half-man, half-god, super-man, inferior god.  He is fully man and fully God.  As a human being I might wonder if it is worse to suffer abuse or watch as my son is abused.  But God the Father did not partake (μετέσχεν, a form of μετέχω) of the blood and flesh of humanity, the weak link in this chain.  The arresting officers tied Jesus up (John 18:12), tempting the flesh of Adam to resist.  If I succumbed to the flesh and cursed officers arresting me I would just make them angrier with my foul noise.  But Jesus is also God.  If He had succumbed to the flesh of Adam and cursed the arresting officers they would have withered and died.

Jesus was questioned first by Annas (a former high priest himself) the father-in-law of Caiaphas the high priest.  When Jesus answered, one of the high priest’s officers who stood nearby struck him on the face (John 18:22).  Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to Caiaphas the high priest.[5]  The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death.[6]   The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”[7] 

“I am,” said Jesus, “and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”[8]  So they accused Him of blasphemy and condemned Him to death (Matthew 26:65, 66; Mark 14:64).  They spat on Him (Matthew 26:67), blindfolded him (Mark 14:65) and played a guessing game, saying, “Prophesy for us, you Christ!  Who hit you?”[9]  Now the men who were holding Jesus under guard began to mock him and beat him,[10] following their leaders, oblivious to the potential harm they risked to themselves or the entire created cosmos.

After Jesus instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ[11] he began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law.[12]  When it was early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to execute him.[13]  They led Jesus away to their council and said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.”[14]  Caiaphas had given them the key to getting Jesus to accuse Himself: If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.[15]  Then the whole group of them rose up and brought Jesus before Pilate.[16]

They did not go into the governor’s residence so they would not be ceremonially defiled, but could eat the Passover meal.[17]  So Pilate came out to them but said, “Take him yourselves and pass judgment on him according to your own law!”  The Jewish leaders replied, “We cannot legally put anyone to death.”[18]  They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man subverting our nation (Matthew 23), forbidding us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar (Matthew 22:15-22) and claiming that he himself is Christ, a king.”[19]

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.[20]  But with two lies and their own belief that the Christ would be a political/military revolutionary who would overthrow Pilate and his Roman overlords, the chief priests with the elders and the experts in the law and the whole Sanhedrin[21] transmuted their (false) charge of blasphemy into a Roman capital crime.

Privately, Jesus comforted Pilate: My kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities.[22]  Publicly, when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he did not respond.[23]  Pilate had found no basis for an accusation against (Luke 23:4; John 18:38b) Jesus, but he did see a possible way out (John 18:39, 40 NET):

“But it is your custom that I release one prisoner for you at the Passover.  So do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?”  Then they shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!”  (Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

John wrote of Jesus, yehôvâh become human flesh: He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him.[24]  In fact, they persisted in saying, “He incites the people by teaching throughout all Judea.  It started in Galilee and ended up here!”[25]  Galilee was Herod’s jurisdiction, so Pilate sent Jesus to Herod.  The chief priests and the experts in the law were there, vehemently accusing him.  Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him.  Then, dressing him in elegant clothes, Herod sent him back to Pilate.[26]  Then Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, and said to them (Luke 23:13-16 NET):

“You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people.  When I examined him before you, I did not find this man guilty of anything you accused him of doing.  Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us.  Look, he has done nothing deserving death.  I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”

I’ll finish this essay with a Gospel harmony to capture some of the drama.

Matthew Mark Luke

John

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged severely.  The soldiers braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they clothed him in a purple robe.  They came up to him again and again and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!”  And they struck him repeatedly in the face.

John 19:1-3

Again Pilate went out and said to the Jewish leaders, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no reason for an accusation against him.”

John 19:4

Then the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to release a prisoner for them, as was his custom.

Mark 15:8

So after they had assembled, Pilate said to them…

Matthew 27:17a

So Pilate asked them…

Mark 15:9a

“Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?”

Matthew 27:17b

“Do you want me to release the king of the Jews for you?”

Mark 15:9b

(For he knew that they had handed him over because of envy.)

Matthew 27:18

(For he knew that the chief priests had handed him over because of envy.)

Mark 15:10

As he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent a message to him: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man; I have suffered greatly as a result of a dream about him today.”

Matthew 27:19

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas…

Matthew 27:20a

But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas instead.

Mark 15:11

…and to have Jesus killed.

Matthew 27:20b

So Jesus came outside, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.  Pilate said to them, “Look, here is the man!”

When the chief priests and their officers saw him, they shouted out, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”  Pilate said, “You take him and crucify him!  Certainly I find no reason for an accusation against him!”  The Jewish leaders replied, “We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God!”

When Pilate heard what they said, he was more afraid than ever…

John 19:5-8

But they all shouted out together, “Take this man away!   Release Barabbas for us!”  (This was a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder.)

Luke 23:18, 19

…and he went back into the governor’s residence and said to Jesus, “Where do you come from?”  But Jesus gave him no answer.  So Pilate said, “Do you refuse to speak to me?  Don’t you know I have the authority to release you, and to crucify you?” Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me at all, unless it was given to you from above.  Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of greater sin.”  From this point on, Pilate tried to release him.

John 19:9-12a

Pilate addressed them once again because he wanted to release Jesus.

Luke 23:20

The governor asked them,  “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?”  And they said, “Barabbas!”

Matthew 27:21

Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?”  They all said, “Crucify him!”  He asked, “Why?  What wrong has he done?”

Matthew 27:22-23a

So Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?”

They shouted back, “Crucify him!”  Pilate asked them, “Why?  What has he done wrong?”

Mark 15:12-14a

But the Jewish leaders shouted out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar!  Everyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar!”  When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus outside and sat down on the judgment seat in the place called “The Stone Pavement” (Gabbatha in Aramaic).  (Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover, about noon.)  Pilate said to the Jewish leaders, “Look, here is your king!”

John 19:12b-14

But they kept on shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”  A third time he said to them, “Why?  What wrong has he done?  I have found him guilty of no crime deserving death.  I will therefore flog him and release him.”

Luke 23:21, 22

Then they shouted out, “Away with him!  Away with him!  Crucify him!”  Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your king?”  The high priests replied, “We have no king except Caesar!”

John 19:15

But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”

Matthew 27:23b

But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”

Mark 15:14b

But they were insistent, demanding with loud shouts that he be crucified.

Luke 23:23a

And their shouts prevailed.

Luke 23:23b

When Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but that instead a riot was starting, he took some water, washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.  You take care of it yourselves!”  In reply all the people said, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”

Matthew 27:24, 25

So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted.

Luke 23:24

Because he wanted to satisfy the crowd…

Mark 15:15a

Then he released Barabbas for them.

Matthew 27:26a

…Pilate released Barabbas for them.

Mark 15:15b

 

He released the man they asked for, who had been thrown in prison for insurrection and murder.

Luke 23:25a

But after he had Jesus flogged…

Matthew 27:26b

Then, after he had Jesus flogged…

Mark 15:15c

…he handed him over to be crucified.

Matthew 27:26c

…he handed him over to be crucified.

Mark 15:15d

But he handed Jesus over to their will.

Luke 23:25b

Then Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

John 19:16a

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s residence and gathered the whole cohort around him.  They stripped him and put a scarlet robe around him, and after braiding a crown of thorns, they put it on his head.

Matthew 27:27-29

So the soldiers led him into the palace (that is, the governor’s residence) and called together the whole cohort.  They put a purple cloak on him and after braiding a crown of thorns, they put it on him.

Mark 15:16, 17

They began to salute him: “Hail, king of the Jews!”   Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him.

Mark 15:18, 19a

They put a staff in his right hand…

Matthew 27:29b

..and kneeling down before him, they mocked him: “Hail, king of the Jews!”

Matthew 27:29c

Then they knelt down and paid homage to him.

Mark 15:19b

They spat on him and took the staff and struck him repeatedly on the head.

Matthew 27:30

When they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Matthew 27:31

When they had finished mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes back on him.  Then they led him away to crucify him.

Mark 15:20

 

None of Jesus’ accusers, persecutors or tormentors withered and died.  As He told his disciples, the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds.[27]  I’ll continue this in another essay. The rest of the Gospel harmony I used to write this essay follows.

 

Matthew Mark Luke John
Then they arrested Jesus…

Luke 22:54a

Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus…

John 18:12a

…and tied him up.  They brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.  (Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.)

John 18:12b-14

While this [John 18:15-18] was happening, the high priest [Annas had been high priest before his son-in-law] questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching.  Jesus replied, “I have spoken publicly to the world.  I always taught in the synagogues and in the temple courts, where all the Jewish people assemble together.  I have said nothing in secret.  Why do you ask me?  Ask those who heard what I said.  They know what I said.”  When Jesus had said this, one of the high priest’s officers who stood nearby struck him on the face and said, “Is that the way you answer the high priest?”  Jesus replied, “If I have said something wrong, confirm what is wrong.  But if I spoke correctly, why strike me?”

John 18:19-23

Now the ones who had arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose house the experts in the law and the elders had gathered.

Matthew 26:57

Then they led Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests and elders and experts in the law came together.

Mark 14:53

…led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house.

Luke 22:54b

Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to Caiaphas the high priest.

John 18:24

But Peter was following him from a distance, all the way to the high priest’s courtyard.

Matthew 26:58a

And Peter had followed him from a distance, up to the high priest’s courtyard.

Mark 14:54a

But Peter was following at a distance.

Luke 22:54c

After going in, he sat with the guards to see the outcome.

Matthew 26:58b

He was sitting with the guards and warming himself by the fire.

Mark 14:54b

When they had made a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.

Luke 22:55

Meanwhile Simon Peter was standing in the courtyard warming himself.

John 18:25a

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death.  But they did not find anything, though many false witnesses came forward.  Finally two came forward and declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

Matthew 26:59-61

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find anything.  Many gave false testimony against him, but their testimony did not agree.  Some stood up and gave this false testimony against him:  “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and in three days build another not made with hands.’”

Mark 14:55-58

Yet even on this point their testimony did not agree.

Mark 14:59

So the high priest stood up and said to him, “Have you no answer?  What is this that they are testifying against you?””

But Jesus was silent.

Matthew 26:62, 63a

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer?  What is this that they are testifying against you?”

But he was silent and did not answer.

Mark 14:60, 61a

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”  Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.

Matthew 26:63b-64a

Again the high priest questioned him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

Mark 14:61b

“I am,” said Jesus…

Mark 14:62a

But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  Then the high priest tore his clothes and declared, “He has blasphemed!  Why do we still need witnesses?  Now you have heard the blasphemy!  What is your verdict?”  They answered, “He is guilty and deserves death.”  Then they spat in his face…

Matthew 26:63b-67a

…“and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”  Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses?  You have heard the blasphemy!  What is your verdict?”  They all condemned him as deserving death.  Then some began to spit on him…

Mark 14:62b-65a

…and to blindfold him…

Mark 14:65b

…and struck him with their fists.  And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy for us, you Christ!  Who hit you?”

Matthew 26:67b-68

…and to strike him with their fists, saying, “Prophesy!”

Mark 14:65c

The guards also took him and beat him.

Matthew 14:65d

Now the men who were holding Jesus under guard began to mock him and beat him.

Luke 22:63

They blindfolded him and asked him repeatedly, “Prophesy!  Who hit you?”  They also said many other things against him, reviling him.

Luke 22:64, 65

When it was early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to execute him.

Matthew 27:1

Early in the morning, after forming a plan…

Mark 15:1a

When day came, the council of the elders of the people gathered together, both the chief priests and the experts in the law.

Luke 22:66a

Then they led Jesus away to their council and said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.”  But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer.  But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”  So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?”  He answered them, “You say that I am.”  Then they said, “Why do we need further testimony?   We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”

Luke 22:66b-71

They tied him up, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

Matthew 27:2

…the chief priests with the elders and the experts in the law and the whole Sanhedrin tied Jesus up, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.

Mark 15:1b

 

Then the whole group of them rose up and brought Jesus before Pilate.

Luke 23:1

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s residence.  (Now it was very early morning.)

John 18:28a

 

They did not go into the governor’s residence so they would not be ceremonially defiled, but could eat the Passover meal.

John 18:28b

So Pilate came outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”  They replied, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.”

Pilate told them, “Take him yourselves and pass judgment on him according to your own law!”  The Jewish leaders replied, “We cannot legally put anyone to death.”  (This happened to fulfill the word Jesus had spoken when he indicated what kind of death he was going to die.)

John 18:29-32

They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man subverting our nation, forbidding us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar and claiming that he himself is Christ, a king.”

Luke 23:2

Then Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Matthew 27:11a

So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Mark 15:2a

 

 

So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Luke 23:3a

So Pilate went back into the governor’s residence, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

John 18:33

Jesus replied, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or have others told you about me?”  Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?  Your own people and your chief priests handed you over to me.  What have you done?”

Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities.  But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”  Then Pilate said, “So you are a king!”

John 18:34-37a

Jesus said, “You say so.”

Matthew 27:11b

He replied, “You say so.”

Mark 15:2b

He replied, “You say so.”

Luke 23:3b

Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king.

John 18:37b

For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world – to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  Pilate asked, “What is truth?”

When he had said this he went back outside to the Jewish leaders…

John 18:37c, 38a

Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.”

Luke 23:4

…and announced, “I find no basis for an accusation against him.

John 18:38b

But when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he did not respond.  Then Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how many charges they are bringing against you?”  But he did not answer even one accusation, so that the governor was quite amazed.

Matthew 27:12-14

Then the chief priests began to accuse him repeatedly.  So Pilate asked him again, “Have you nothing to say?  See how many charges they are bringing against you!”  But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Mark 15:3-5

During the feast the governor was accustomed to release one prisoner to the crowd, whomever they wanted.  At that time they had in custody a notorious prisoner named Jesus Barabbas.

Matthew 27:15, 16

During the feast it was customary to release one prisoner to the people, whomever they requested.  A man named Barabbas was imprisoned with rebels who had committed murder during an insurrection.

Mark 15:6, 7

But it is your custom that I release one prisoner for you at the Passover.  So do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?”  Then they shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!”  (Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

John 18:39, 40

But they persisted in saying, “He incites the people by teaching throughout all Judea.  It started in Galilee and ended up here!”

Now when Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean.  When he learned that he was from Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who also happened to be in Jerusalem at that time.  When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some miraculous sign.  So Herod questioned him at considerable length; Jesus gave him no answer.  The chief priests and the experts in the law were there, vehemently accusing him.  Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him.  Then, dressing him in elegant clothes, Herod sent him back to Pilate.  That very day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other, for prior to this they had been enemies.

Luke 23:5-12

Then Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people.  When I examined him before you, I did not find this man guilty of anything you accused him of doing.  Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us.  Look, he has done nothing deserving death.  I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”

Luke 23:13-16

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged severely.  The soldiers braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they clothed him in a purple robe.  They came up to him again and again and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!”  And they struck him repeatedly in the face.

John 19:1-3

[1] John 13:36b (NET)

[2] Matthew 11:2a (NET)

[3] Matthew 11:5 (NET)

[4] John 5:20, 21 (NET)

[5] John 18:24 (NET)

[6] Matthew 26:59 (NET)

[7] Matthew 26:63b (NET)

[8] Mark 14:62 (NET)

[9] Matthew 26:68 (NET)

[10] Luke 22:63 (NET)

[11] Matthew 16:20 (NET)

[12] Matthew 16:21 (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:1 (NET)

[14] Luke 22:66b, 67a (NET)

[15] 2 Timothy 2:13 (NET)

[16] Luke 23:1 (NET)

[17] John 18:28b (NET)

[18] John 18:31 (NET)

[19] Luke 23:2 (NET)

[20] 1 Timothy 1:15 (NET)

[21] Mark 15:1 (NET)

[22] John 18:36a (NET)

[23] Matthew 27:12 (NET)

[24] John 1:11 (NET)

[25] Luke 23:5 (NET)

[26] Luke 23:10, 11 (NET)

[27] John 14:10b (NET)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 7

In another essay I began “to consider what I called ‘Paul’s religious mind’ through the lens of Jesus’ teaching” in Matthew 18:15-17 as ballast for my own bias toward mercy.  Originally, I was concerned about Paul’s judgment from a distance of the man who had his father’s wife.  Here is the relevant text in context (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 NET):

It is actually reported that sexual immorality (πορνεία) exists among you, the kind of immorality (πορνεία) that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with (ἔχειν, a form of ἔχω; literally, has) his father’s wife.  And you are proud!  Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you?  For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit.  And I have already judged (κέκρικα, a form of κρίνω) the one who did this, just as though I were present.  When you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus, turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

When I revisited this text and compared it to Jesus’ message to the angel of the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) I was more concerned about its impact on the ἐκκλησία, those called by God:[1]

Let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that Paul as an apostle had the authority and God-given wisdom to recognize a weed [Matthew 13:27-30] and uproot it.  Did he have the authority to turn the church of Jesus Christ in Corinth (and any who hear him today) from the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of the Holy Spirit, and transform them into a paranoid police force?  Rather than knowing no law against loving our neighbor as well as our enemies, does every infraction of any law call us to dam up the fruit of the Holy Spirit?  Must we judge one another constantly lest we be proud for loving one another excessively?

As I began to counter my own bias I assumed that members of Chloe’s household had already taken one or two others to the man who had his father’s wife so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established[2] and that he had refused to listen (παρακούσῃ, a form of παρακούω) to them.[3]  What we have in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 then is Paul telling it to the church.  I assumed this because I think Paul was writing about the same man in 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 (NET):

But if anyone has caused sadness, he has not saddened me alone, but to some extent (not to exaggerate) he has saddened all of you as well.  This punishment on such an individual by the majority is enough for him, so that now instead you should rather forgive and comfort him.  This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair.  Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

In other words, the man who had his father’s wife listened to the church when he was shunned by the church.  If one doesn’t think the one who caused sadness was the same one who had his father’s wife then 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 would be an example of excommunication rather than shunning.  If he refuses to listen (παρακούσῃ, a form of παρακούω) to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector (τελώνης),[4] Jesus said.  He was quite clear how to treat Gentiles and tax collectors (Matthew 5:44-48 NET):

But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Even the tax collectors (τελῶναι, a form of τελώνης) do the same, don’t they?  And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do?  Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?  So then, be perfect (τέλειοι, a form of τέλειος), as your heavenly Father is perfect (τέλειος).

From the viewpoint of the ἐκκλησία very little has changed except the credence given to what is said or done by the one no longer in good standing.  Those who are led by the Spirit of God don’t think, for instance, “my father’s wife is the girl for me” because so-and-so had his father’s wife.  But the church is comprised of people who are led by the Spirit of God and others who are not, and both real estate and tangible property are at stake.  Paul didn’t differentiate between the ἐκκλησία and the not-for-profit corporations called churches the way I attempt to do.

In his article “Why are priests celibate?” on the U.S. Catholic: Faith in Real Life website Santiago Cortes-Sjoberg wrote:

It was not until the turn of the first millennium that the church started to canonically regulate clerical marriage, mainly in response to clerical abuses and corruption. Of particular concern was the transmission at the death of a clergyman of church property to his wife and children. The Council of Pavia (1018), for example, issued regulations on how to deal with children of clergy, declaring them serfs of the church, unable to be ordained and barring them from inheriting their father’s benefices (income connected to a church office or parish).

In 1075 Pope Gregory VII issued a decree effectively barring married priests from ministry, a discipline formalized by the First Lateran Council in 1123.

I tell you the truth, Jesus continued, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.[5]  I’ve quoted from a will have been bound translation of the New Testament though will be bound is just as common.  I’m no Greek scholar but will be bound appears to be the more grammatically correct translation of ἔσται.  The relevant entry on GotQuestions.org quoted will be bound but understood it as will have already been bound: “the syntax of the Greek text makes the meaning clear.  What you bind on earth will have already been bound in heaven.”

I saw a play in Los Angeles about thirty-five years ago based on this verse.  A blind priest on a mission journey baptized a flock of penguins.  God and Satan scrambled to catch up, granting the penguins rational souls so they could be held accountable for their sins and tempting them to sin, respectively.  The penguins got very excited about the command to be fruitful and multiply.  I assume “will have already been bound in heaven” exists as a possible translation to counter extreme views like that play.

Keith Drury in his article posted on The Voice, “Who says what the Bible says? The keys to the kingdom, binding and loosing,” outlines a fairly extensive process for addressing the opposite extreme (though he quoted will be bound) of one individual or even a few gathered in Jesus’ name deciding what has already been bound in heaven.  Mr. Drury begins with a group of four men plus his wife as “spiritual director,” moves to a group of six from his Sunday School class to his Sunday School class as a whole, his pastor, his entire church of 1,500 people, his denomination and finally church tradition—“Christians through history.”  In the Catholic catechism the Pope and the College of Cardinals fill this function.

Along the way Mr. Drury wrote this about small groups in John Wesley’s churches: “They did not have a short prayer and send the member out into the woods to ‘sense from the Holy Spirit’ if they had sinned or not.  They did not even send them off to study the Bible.”  I don’t believe this was meant quite as flippantly as it sounded since he described the four men he consulted first as “experts in the Bible, theology, and philosophy.”  I think Mr. Drury understands that apart from the Holy Spirit and the Bible any triangulation by consensus could be much worse than useless.  So let’s attempt to look at the Bible, led by the Spirit of God.

Jesus Jerusalem Council

Paul

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:17-20 (NET)

From the apostles and elders, your brothers, to the Gentile brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, greetings!  Since we have heard that some have gone out from among us with no orders from us and have confused you, upsetting your minds by what they said, we have unanimously decided to choose men to send to you along with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas who will tell you these things themselves in person.  For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality.  If you keep yourselves from doing these things, you will do well.  Farewell.

Acts 15:23b-29 (NET)

For all who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.  For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous.  For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves.  They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relationship to God and know his will and approve the superior things because you receive instruction from the law, and if you are convinced that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an educator of the senseless, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the essential features of knowledge and of the truth – therefore you who teach someone else, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach against stealing, do you steal?  You who tell others not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery?  You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who boast in the law dishonor God by transgressing the law!  For just as it is written, “the name of God is being blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

For circumcision has its value if you practice the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.  Therefore if the uncircumcised man obeys the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?  And will not the physically uncircumcised man who keeps the law judge you who, despite the written code and circumcision, transgress the law?  For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh, but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code.  This person’s praise is not from people but from God.

Romans 2:12-29 (NET)

It seems fairly clear who had more regard for Jesus’ command not to think that He had come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) the law or the prophets (not to mention more concern for the souls of Gentiles).  The unanimous decision of the church fathers to give Gentiles James’ (Acts 15:13-21) abbreviated version of the law was not presided over by a successor to Peter but by Peter himself.  Yes, Paul instigated the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-3 NET).  Yes, Paul taught the council’s decision for a time (Acts 16:3-5 NET), but ultimately studying the Scriptures (the Old Testament) in the power of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote the letter to believers in Rome.  He said many more things[6] about the law there.  I’ll highlight only two more of them here.

The most direct route to satisfying a hunger and thirst for righteousness, obeying the law in my own strength, is closed (if it was ever actually open after Adam ate the forbidden fruit).  For the lawwas weakened through the flesh…[T]he outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.[7] The indirect route (1 Peter 1:18-20; John 14:6) was ever the best (Romans 3:19-22 NET).

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God.  For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.

My point here is: in the Bible for all who are led by the Spirit of God to see an individual led by the same Spirit to study the Scriptures corrected an erroneous doctrine proposed by the unanimous consensus of church authorities who claimed the imprimatur of the Holy Spirit.  Granted, none of these authorities had access to 1 Corinthians 13, Romans or Galatians.  Their decision became in effect the irritation that formed these pearls in Paul.

I am so proud of myself any time I understand something Paul wrote it’s practically sinful.  I can barely imagine taking the Old Testament, the Gospel and the mess[8] in Corinth and writing these letters by the Holy Spirit for the very first time.  I think of the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, love – a way that is beyond comparison, as an outline that was fleshed out considerably in Romans, and Galatians seems to assume Romans.  I assume then that they were written in that order though many disagree.  Of course, the Holy Spirit knew the content of all three letters and could have had Paul write them in any order He preferred.

So if Jesus communicated supernaturally through his Spirit to Paul to hand the one who had his father’s wife over to Satan, there is really nothing I can say about that.  My points are all based on the insight that 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 seems contrary to Jesus’ teaching[9] and Paul’s own writing elsewhere (Galatians 6:1-5).  I concede the need for excommunication so that church property doesn’t fall into possession of those not led by the Spirit of God.  I’m not absolutely convinced that outcome has always been the case.  In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if church property, church position and church authority are coveted more by those who live according to the flesh than by those who live according to the Spirit of God (Romans 8:5-14 NET).

There are any number of organizations in the world dedicated to instilling compliance in their members to, and even faith in, various rules and norms.  Some are arguably better at it than churches.  But none of these worldly organizations can offer believers the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, Christ in you, the hope of glory.[10]

[1] Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 1

[2] Matthew 18:16 (NET)

[3] Matthew 18:17a (NET)

[4] Matthew 18:17b (NET)

[5] Matthew 18:18 (NET)

[6] Romans 3:19-31; Romans 4:13-25; Romans 5:12-21; Romans 6:12-20; Romans 7:1-25; Romans 8:1-11; Romans 9:30-33; Romans 10:1-13; Romans 13:8-10

[7] Romans 8:3, 7, 8 (NET)

[8] It is possible that the situation in Corinth wasn’t quite the “mess” Paul thought it was.  Jesus thought He had many people in this city.  See also: Paul in Corinth

[9] Paul’s Religious Mind; Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 1

[10] Colossians 1:27b (NET)

To Make Holy, Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.  For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.  Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness.  Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.

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

 

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

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

But Jesus said, the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward (ἀποδώσει, another form of ἀποδίδωμι) each person according to what he has done.[14]  The Greek words ἀποδώσει, translated he will reward and ἀποδῷ, translated pays back, are both forms of ἀποδίδωμι.  Jesus’ faithfulness flowing into me through his Holy Spirit can restrain my fists and my tongue, soothe my anger, in time cause me to forgive and pray mercy for the one who wronged me.  My faith will accomplish none of this.  For through the Spirit, by faith (πίστεως, another form of πίστις), we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith (πίστις) working through love (ἀγάπης, another form of ἀγάπη).[15]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Make Holy, Part 2

[1] Mathew 7:16a (NET)

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

[3] Colossians 3:16 (NET)

[4] Romans 15:14 (NET)

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

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

[7] John 11:19 (NET)

[8] John 11:31 (NET)

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

[10] Romans 2:4 (NET)

[11] Titus 1:9 (NET)

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

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

[14] Matthew 16:27 (NET)

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

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

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

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

[19] Matthew 16:21 (NET)

[20] 2 Corinthians 8:12 (NET)

[21] James 1:19 (NET)

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reference

Greek NET

KJV

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

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

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

To Make Holy, Part 1

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

Back to To Make Holy, Part 2

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

[2] ibid.

[3] Mark 10:24b (NET)

[4] Galatians 5:17a (NET)

[5] Galatians 5:17 (NET)

[6] Matthew 5:6 (NET)

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

Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Progressive Sanctification

Presbyterian Baptist

C&MA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOVE

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

JOY

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

PEACE

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

LONGSUFFERING

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

GENTLENESS

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

GOODNESS

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

FAITH

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

MEEKNESS

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

TEMPERANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

Back to Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 6

Back to Who Am I? Part 6

Back to Romans, Part 88

[1] Matthew 26:54 (NET)

[2] Matthew 26:72b (NET)

[3] Acts 1:6b (NET)

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

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

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

[7] Matthew 5:17 (NET)

[8] John 3:17 (NET)

[9] Mark 10:24b (NET)

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

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

[12] Commentary on Galatians 5:22, 23

[13] Commentary on Galatians 5:24

[14] Commentary on Galatians 6:8

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

[16] Galatians 6:6 (NET)

Sowing to the Flesh, Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Rome Teaches

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

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

— Decree of Vatican Council, 1870.

 

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

— Canon Law Ch. of Rome.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.  Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption (φθορᾶς, another form of φθορά) that is produced by evil desire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

[6] Commentary on Galatians 2:18

[7] 2 Peter 1:3 (NET)

[8]Constantine: First Christian EmperorChristianity Today

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

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

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

[12]Was Peter in Rome?

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

[14] Galatians 6:8a (NET)

[15] Romans 8:21 (NET)

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

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

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