Romans, Part 88

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV


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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV


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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV


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


Form of πείθω Reference KJV


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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of πείθω

Reference KJV


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


[1] Romans 15:22 (NET)

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

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

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

[5] Jeremiah 31:34b (Tanakh)

[6] Luke 6:37 (NET)

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

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

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

[10] 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NET)

[11] Galatians 5:7 (NET)

[12] Matthew 27:20 (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:22 (NET)

[14] Acts 14:19 (NET)

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

[16] Acts 19:26 (NET)

[17] Acts 27:11 (NET)

[18] Acts 27:10a (NET)

[19] Acts 27:13b (NET)

[20] Galatians 5:2 (NET)

[21] Galatians 1:6 (NET)

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

My Reasons and My Reason, Part 3

“I was really hoping that I could, um, move back in here for a while,” Linda probed her mother.

“Here?” her mother asked.


“No, you know that’s not possible.”

“Why not?” Linda asked.

“How would it look for a married woman to move in with her parents apart from her husband?”

“He hits me, Ma.”

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” her mother sighed.  “What did you do?”

“What do you mean, what’d I do?”

“What did you do to make him angry?  He didn’t just hit you out of the blue.”

Linda fought off her instinctive reaction to her mother’s judgment as she searched for a diplomatic answer to keep the conversation going.  “I guess I didn’t do what he wanted me to,” she said finally.

“You took a vow, a very serious vow.”

“Can’t I just stay, like, a few days, Ma, please?”

“And then what?  You gonna get a divorce?  What do you think we are, Protestant?”

“Ma, you just don’t understand.”

“Linda, I was…I was 18 years old when I had your sister. Unmarried…and all alone…before I met your father.  I’d suffered long and hard.  How dare you come here and tell me I don’t understand.  I understand.  Now, God gave you a husband…who provides for you.  And you…Look at me.  Go home to Chuck.  Be a good wife.  Listen to him, and obey him.”

Linda’s mother thought she was sending her daughter home to be a particular kind of submissive masochist,[1] Mrs. Chuck Traynor (or a “normal” woman, accepting his “implicit” right to hit her as she learned to “submit to his stronger will,” all while she took no pleasure in it whatsoever).  She assumed that Chuck was, what I am calling, a dominant masochist (fig. 4), someone with Linda’s best interests at heart.

fig. 4

fig. 4

She knew what a handful Linda could be.  She had no way of knowing that Chuck was much closer to a sadistic top than a dominant masochist.  And she certainly had no way to know that she was sending her daughter out to become Linda Lovelace of “Deep Throat” fame.

This scene from “Lovelace,”[2] affected me deeply.  Linda’s mother, written by Andy Bellin and played compassionately by Sharon Stone, is compellingly authentic.  Though her how-would-it-look line sounds crassly self-serving today, it was the effective meaning of one of the “laws of Paul” in the seventies: Abstain from all appearance of evil.[3]  Her refusal even to “appear” to support divorce by allowing her daughter to return struck home.  We didn’t drink, dance or smoke to prove how much better we were than Catholics.  At least that’s what I learned, which is not the same as saying that is what I was taught.  (It should be obvious by now that I learned many things I wasn’t necessarily taught.)

Linda, played by Amanda Seyfried, was lying to her mother.  Her line, “He hits me, Ma,” though objectively true wasn’t the reason she showed up at her mother’s door.  But I understand completely why she didn’t say, “He pimps me out for money, Ma,” to the woman who became so righteously indignant when the tie-strap of Linda’s swim top was undone to avoid tan lines.  And I honestly don’t know how her mother would have responded if Linda had told her the truth.

I didn’t see this film because I was interested in Linda Lovelace, but because Amanda Seyfried chose to play her.  (And now I’ll have to pay more attention to Sharon Stone.)  I’ll follow any actor who gives me aesthetic moments like the mother-daughter confrontation in “Mamma Mia,” especially one who can go toe-to-toe with Meryl Streep.  Sophie, the daughter played by Ms. Seyfried, was troubled about the mess she had made inviting three possible fathers to her wedding.  Her mother, played by Ms. Streep, thought (hoped) she didn’t want to marry.  Poor Linda Lovelace thought “Deep Throat” might be her stepping stone to becoming Amanda Seyfried (or, Meryl Streep).

I’ve never seen “Deep Throat” or anything else Linda Lovelace has done.  Clips I’ve seen in documentaries, and now recreations in “Lovelace,” don’t recommend the film to me.  I’ve never read her book Ordeal.[4]  I do recall sneering and scoffing when I heard about it.  The mother-daughter scene in “Lovelace” made me question, why?  The only answer I came up with is that I had seen pictures of Ms. Lovelace smiling.  I supposed she took some pleasure in sex and public attention.  Thinking and writing about my own masochism I had to repent of that sneering and scoffing.

Part of me (perhaps the submissive masochistic part) would like to tell a different story, a story about an innocent boy who rescued a stash of porn from a dumpster, hid it in the woods, read it, returned again and again to look at its pictures, and became corrupted.  That’s a story I could sell to my fundamentalist Christian friends.  And it’s based, at least, on a true story.  It’s just not mine.  It was another boy’s story when he brought that stash of porn to me and asked me to keep it away from him.  He lived next door while I worked on “The Tripartite Rationality Index.”[5]

It was summer.  I had no air conditioning, not even a fan.  I stayed up late until the apartment cooled down enough that I could sleep.  This boy came over and sat with me at night while his mother was out, or even if she was occupied at home.  She wasn’t exactly a prostitute.  She got all dressed up, went out to a bar or club, picked up a man, brought him home and lived with him as long as he paid the bills.  “You should marry her,” the boy said to me more than once.  “She’s pretty.”  She was pretty, especially when she went out to hunt.  I didn’t marry her.  I only talked to her once, long enough to convince her I wasn’t a child molester.

I didn’t have access to porn as a child; I was quarantined.  I use that word because of a story my mother told me recently on a different topic.  After I was born she spent many lonely days in the hospital at Christmastime.  She heard about another woman whose baby was born in the car on the way to the hospital.  She asked a nurse if she could visit that woman and see her baby.  The nurse told her that neither was in the general hospital population, having given birth (and being born) in such unsanitary conditions.  Though it seemed harsh to my mother at the time, it became her rationale for hell, God “quarantining” the righteous from the evil.

My mother was twenty-two-years-old.  She had just given birth to her first child.  And this was the authoritative word of medical science.  Suddenly my childhood made sense to me.  I was quarantined, not to keep me in hell, but to protect her “innocent” baby from the evil world.  It was 1953; discrimination was still a matter of good taste.  The problem was, the porn was already in me.  And I am truly sorry that I infected the pristine female world she constructed for me with my dirty male mind and desires.  (I know a Freudian would have a field day with that, but I’m being as sincere as I know how to be.)

My mother, however, was not alone in her germ theory of sin, sin as an infection from without.  “I feel dead inside, no, something worse than death,” reads an excerpt from nineteen-year-old Hannah’s diary, the main character in the film October Baby.  “I am still a child, a child trying to find a place in this world.  I have so many unanswered questions, questions I feel but can’t even begin to speak because there are no words to express them.  Something is missing.  Why, God, do I feel unwanted?  Why do I feel I have no right to exist?  Why do I spend more time wanting to end my life than live it?”

Knowing that this was a Christian film, a pretty girl who didn’t have a boyfriend, take drugs or drink or smoke and yet felt as Hannah did, seemed to recall Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 3:10-18 NET):

There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.  Their throats are open graves, they deceive with their tongues, the poison of asps is under their lips.  Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.  Their feet are swift to shed blood, ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known.  There is no fear of God before their eyes.

“Hannah, I believe that what you’re feeling is normal and is even expected,” wasn’t counsel from her Baptist minister, but from her doctor.  For it was not sin that caused her to feel as if the sentence of death had been passed against[6] her, rather it was a quasi-mystical intuition that she was a failed abortion, the truth her parents had hidden from her.  They hadn’t even told her she was adopted.  Once I got over that hump, it was an okay movie about a young woman dealing with an extraordinarily painful reality.  And Rachel Hendrix as Hannah is a delight to watch.  When the filmmaker’s finished the pro-life-message-film their financial backers paid for, Hannah, back where she started, visited a Catholic priest.

“I can’t figure out how to let go of the fact that I feel hatred for myself and others,” she told him.  Another secret she had learned along the way was that she was a twin.  Her elder brother was more damaged in the botched abortion and died three months after their birth.  “And I feel guilty,” Hannah continued her confession.  “Part of me feels like he should be alive and I shouldn’t.  I wonder if he would have been a better person than me, what he would have been like.  I just hate myself for feeling this way.”

So Hannah came very close to actually confessing the sin in her flesh.[7]  The priest told her about Jesus’ forgiveness, and her ability through Him to forgive others.  And I should probably remember that a Christian film is intended for Christians as an audience.  I’ve already written that most Christians I know don’t see themselves as “great sinners who were forgiven much and were called by God to forgive lesser sinners than themselves.”[8]  And who am I to see things so differently?  For who concedes [me] any superiority?  What do [I] have that [I] did not receive?[9]

In the previous essay I quoted, “If O is willing to sustain her devotion all the way through to her own destruction, so be it.  She wants to be ‘possessed, utterly possessed, to the point of death,’ to the point that her body and mind are no longer her responsibility.”[10]  To my religious mind this would have sounded (and sounds) absurd.  I kept my own masochism from my first wife as a shameful secret as I resolved to follow God as Moses instructed Israel (Deuteronomy 30:15-19 NET).

Look!  I have set before you today life and prosperity on the one hand, and death and disaster on the other.  What I am commanding you today is to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to obey his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances.  Then you will live and become numerous and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are about to possess.  However, if you turn aside and do not obey, but are lured away to worship and serve other gods, I declare to you this very day that you will certainly perish!  You will not extend your time in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.  Today I invoke heaven and earth as a witness against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you.  Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live!

Preoccupied with my attempt to obey him in my own strength, I didn’t hear, I also call on you to love the Lord your Godand be loyal to him, for he gives you life and enables you to live continually[11]  So I did not love the Lord my God, walk in his ways, or obey his commandments, statutes and ordinances.  And my first wife divorced me for my religion.  “I don’t want to read the Bible,” she exclaimed.  “Everyone who reads the Bible turns out like you!”  That’s when I began to feel as if the sentence of death had been passed against[12] me.  And that’s when I began to hear, and perhaps began to choose, death instead.

For if we are out of our minds, Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.  For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ died for all; therefore all have died.  And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised.[13]

I began to perceive in Scripture a diminished responsibility for righteousness for one led by the Spirit: For who concedes you any superiority?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you received it, why do you boast as though you did not?[14]  I have been crucified with Christ, Paul wrote the Galatians, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.[15]

I sat silently in an adult Sunday school class as a woman was reprimanded for quoting this verse, because she hadn’t earned the right to say it by her own works of righteousness as Paul had done.  And I was the one who had whispered it in her ear the night before as a possible path of righteousness.  I never expected her to shout it from the rooftops in Sunday school!

But Paul wrote, I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing![16]  Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.[17]  How may we live a new life? …through the glory of the Fatherjust as Christ was raised from the dead.

I began, tentatively at first, to perceive a diminished responsibility for sin for those led by the Spirit: Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.[18]  But my religious mind (and not mine only) thinks this is a cop out.  It confuses confessing sins with taking responsibility for them, though it knows full well that if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins is left for us, but only a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God’s enemies.[19]

“‘What does a Christian seek,’” Carmela Ciuraru quoted the author of Histoire d’O in her article ‘The Story of the Story of O,’ “‘but to lose himself in God,’ Aury, a devout atheist, once said. ‘To be killed by someone you love strikes me as the epitome of ecstasy.’”[20]  While it is still somewhat difficult for me to grasp exactly what Dominique Aury meant, I agree that to be killed by, or through, Someone I love and yet live by and through Him is the epitome of ecstasy.

I know these things because I have received them from his Spirit.  But it is impossible for me to determine or to gainsay how much I feel these things through my masochism.  And if my masochism is the wrath of God revealed from heaven, that is truly amazing, that the wrath of Godrevealed from heaven against all [my] ungodliness and unrighteousness[21] is also an aid in my enlightenment to, and salvation from, that very ungodliness and unrighteousness.

So, do I whip myself into a euphoric state of submission to obey God?

It’s a fair question, given what I’ve written.  The primary meaning of the Greek word translated subdue is “to beat black and blue, to smite so as to cause bruises and livid spots” in Paul’s confession: Instead I subdue (ὑπωπιάζω)[22] my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.[23]  Frankly, I have no idea if I should take this literally, nor do I care.  Paul also wrote (Colossians 2:20-23 NET):

If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit (δογματίζεσθε, a form of δογματίζω)[24] to them as though you lived in the world?  “Do not handle!  Do not taste!  Do not touch!”  These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings.  Even though they have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body – a wisdom with no true value – they in reality result in fleshly indulgence.

I have pondered this question idly from time to time: if Paul engaged in self-flagellation as a spiritual exercise before he wrote to the Romans and the Colossians, did he continue it as a fleshly indulgence after realizing it had no true value spiritually?  But I don’t know the answer to either component of that question, or even how to know how to search out an answer.  I suppose I could consider it the thorn in Paul’s flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7b NET):

Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me – so that I would not become arrogant.

My elderly Pastor thought that thorn was failing eye sight, my Catholic friend thinks it was masturbation and Bishop Spong[25] thinks it was latent homosexuality.  I feel a little ridiculous pronouncing it self-flagellation, though I’m intrigued by the possibilities for self-acceptance the Holy Spirit created by being non-specific here (e.g., Paul could have said precisely what he meant).  I’ll probably wait and ask Paul.

But no, I don’t whip myself into a euphoric state of submission to obey God.  I believe (I believe; help my unbelief![26]) the death He has given me in Christ Jesus and the fruit of his Spirit.  I have whipped myself at times as a lonely fleshly indulgence.

 My Reasons and My Reason, Part 4

Back to Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 9

[3] 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (KJV)  It might still be what Paul meant.  Though the NET translation is—Stay away from every form (εἴδους, a form of εἶδος) of evil—the Greek word εἴδους was also used in 2 Corinthians 5:6, 7 (NET): Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord – for we live by faith, not by sight (εἴδους).

[6] 2 Corinthians 1:9 (NET)

[9] 1 Corinthians 4:7a (NET)

[11] Deuteronomy 30:20 (NET)

[12] 2 Corinthians 1:9 (NET)

[13] 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 (NET)

[14] 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NET)

[15] Galatians 2:20 (NET)

[16] Galatians 2:21 (NET)

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

[18] Romans 7:20 (NET)

[19] Hebrews 10:26, 27 (NET)

[20] “The Story of the Story of O,” Carmela Ciuraru, Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

[21] Romans 1:18 (NET)

[23] 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NET)

Fear – Exodus, Part 9

Now when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand – when he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.  When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid (yârêʼ)[1] to approach him.[2]  The Greek word ἐφοβήθησαν (a form of φοβέω)[3] was chosen for this fear in the Septuagint.  This word occurs in the phrase ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον[4] μέγαν[5] in Mark’s gospel and was translated, They were overwhelmed by fear.[6]

Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat.  Now a great windstorm developed and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was nearly swamped.[7]  Jesus was asleep in the stern.  His disciples woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?”  So he got up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Be quiet! Calm down!”  Then the wind stopped, and it was dead calm.[8]

I thought Jesus rebuked them then.  “Why are you cowardly?” He said according to Mark’s account (which I assume was Peter’s account and Mark served as chronicler, if not his scribe).  Do you still not have faith?”[9]  In Matthew’s account Jesus’ rebuke—“Why are you cowardly, you people of little faith?”[10]—came even before He calmed the storm.  (Matthew/Levi hadn’t been called yet, according to Matthew.[11])  Of course, the text doesn’t actually say that Jesus rebuked them.

He rebuked (ἐπετίμησεν, a form of ἐπιτιμάω)[12] the wind (the cause[13] of the problem, if you will), and said (εἶπεν, a form of ῥέω)[14] to the sea as He said (εἶπεν) to his disciples.  Matthew recorded what He said (λέγει, a form of λέγω)[15] to his disciples, and how He rebuked (ἐπετίμησεν) the winds and the sea.  But when I believed that my faith was the work that made me worthy of heaven—Why are you cowardly?  Do you still not have faith? and Why are you cowardly, you people of little faith?—stung like rebuke.  My opinion began to change, however, after I began to believe that 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,[16] and that credited righteousness[17] was a functional,[18] rather than merely a formal,[19] righteousness.

My original opinion about Jesus’ rebuke was rendered absurd when I began to believe that even faith did not come out of or out from me: For by grace you are saved through faith (πίστεως, a form of πίστις),[20] and this is not from yourselves (καὶ[21] τοῦτο[22] οὐκ[23] ἐξ[24] ὑμῶν[25]), it is the gift of God.[26]  I heard the argument that this (τοῦτο, literally these) cannot refer back to faith (πίστεως) because τοῦτο “is neuter plural and ‘Faith’ [πίστεως] is feminine.”[27]  And I certainly tried to live by its consequences: “God bestows grace on those who faithfully obey His truth (Romans 6:15-18).  Man’s obedient faith does not cancel grace.  The fact is that an obedient faith allows initial grace (Acts 2:38) and permits continual grace (1 John 1:7).”[28]  My faith proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was never up to the task.  On the other hand, “Grace is feminine…And even Salvation (as a noun) is feminine.”[29]  So τοῦτο (literally these) refers to none of them or all three of them.

Though now it seems somewhat redundant and unnecessary to say that God’s grace is not from yourselves, there was a time when I needed to hear that his grace was not from works, so that no one can boast.[30]  Though now it seems somewhat redundant and unnecessary to say that God’s salvation is not from yourselves, there was a time when I needed to hear that his salvation was not from works, so that no one can boast.  Likewise there was a time when I reached the end of MY faith and needed to hear that even faith is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.[31]  It is Christ’s faithfulness, not mine, the fruit of his Spirit.

And notice how easily these lofty requirements are fulfilled when the faithfulness in question is Christ’s rather than mine: “God bestows grace on those who faithfully obey His truth.  [Christ’s] obedient faith does not cancel grace.  The fact is that an obedient faith allows initial grace and permits continual grace.”  I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.[32]  And, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (πίστις), gentleness, and self-control.[33]

I’m not thinking here of the works of the flesh,[34] but that desire of the flesh that is most perniciously opposed to the Spirit[35] even after its works are largely under his control; namely, the desire to be accepted by God as righteous by my own works on my own terms.  But woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites, Jesus said to men who pursued that kind of righteousness.  You keep locking people out of the kingdom of heaven!  For you neither enter nor permit those trying to enter to go in.[36]  I know Paul didn’t explicitly say that this is a desire of the flesh in his letter to the Galatians, so I may be giving the flesh more credit than it deserves.  Perhaps the desire to be right is nothing more than a perversion or short-circuiting of a God-given hunger and thirst for righteousness.[37]  Regardless, the fruit and the glory are God’s, not mine.

The Greek word for this “obedient faith” in the New Testament is ὑπακοή.  At the beginning and the end of his letter to the Romans Paul went out of his way to make it clear that he did not mean “my own works by my own righteousness,” in fact, he called it faith’s obedience (Romans 1:5; 16:25-27 NET):

Through him we have received grace and our apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith (ὑπακοὴν[38] πίστεως) among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name.

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that had been kept secret for long ages, but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God [κατ᾿[39] ἐπιταγὴν[40] τοῦ[41] αἰωνίου[42] θεοῦ[43]] to bring about the obedience of faith [εἰς[44] ὑπακοὴν πίστεως] – to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever!   Amen.

While it is correct to translate ὑπακοή obedience relative to the Greek language, when Paul used ὑπακοή, even alone, relative to the Gospel he did not refer to “my own works by my own righteousness” any more than his use of the word θεοῦ referred to Zeus, Hera, Apollo or Aphrodite.  So I have to ask, how harshly did the Lord Jesus criticize his disciples for not demonstrating the faith He had not yet given them?  And look, I am sending you what my Father promised, Jesus told his Apostles after his resurrection.  But stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.[45]

Jesus’ disciples knew, or suspected, that He was the Messiah, or Christ.  That’s why they followed Him, according to John’s Gospel account.  Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two disciples who heard what John [the Baptist] said and followed Jesus.  He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah (Μεσσίαν, a form of Μεσσίας)!”[46] (which is translated Christ [χριστός]).[47]  Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets also wrote about – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”[48]

Up to that time a messiah (Hebrew: mâshı̂yach, maw-shee’-akh) was simply a man anointed by God for a specific purpose.  Though incredulous at first that anything good could come out of Nazareth,[49] when he met Jesus, Nathaniel revealed some of his expectation regarding this particular anointed one at this particular time in Israel’s history, Rabbi, you are the Son of God (υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ); you are the king of Israel![50]  I’m not sure what Nathaniel meant by υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ.  I don’t think he recognized yet that Jesus was Yahweh in human flesh.  I do think it is that particular lack of faith to which Jesus referred when He said, Why are you cowardly?  Do you still not have faith? or Why are you cowardly, you people of little faith?  I’m just not so sure any more that it was a rebuke.

The word translated cowardly in both Mark’s and Matthew’s accounts is δειλοί, a form of δειλός.[51]  Online in a section labeled HELPSTM Word-studies it reads, “deilós is always used negatively in the NT and stands in contrast to the positive fear which can be expressed by 5401 /phóbos [φόβος] (‘fear,’ see Phil 2:12).”[52]  Actually δειλός only occurs three or perhaps four times in the New Testament.  The fourth was rejected by the writer(s) of this particular definition: So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe (δέους, possibly another form of δειλός).[53]  This is quite similar to Philippians 2:12 (NET): So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe (φόβου, a form of φόβος)[54] and reverence

In a section labeled “Forms and Transliterations” at the bottom of the web-page in the Bible Hub δέους is listed along with δειλοί: “δειλοι, δειλοί, δειλοις, δειλοίς, δειλοῖς, δειλός, δεους, δέους.”  It is a form of δέος (δειλός is from δέος in Strong’s) according to the Greek Word Study Tool,[55] but it is a form of αἰδώς[56] according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.  The NET online Bible jumps to αἰδώς if I click on awe in English.  If I click on δέους in Greek the busy signal spins perpetually.  If δέους actually is another form of δειλός, Jesus’ saying might have been translated, Why are you [awestruck]?

The problem is, the one time δειλοῖς (another form of δειλός) occurs in the New Testament it is first in the list of the damned: But to the cowards (δειλοῖς), unbelievers, detestable persons, murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic spells, idol worshipers, and all those who lie, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.  That is the second death.[57]  And so Thayer’s Greek Lexicon reads, “δειλός, δείλη, δειλόν (δείδω to fear), timid, fearful: Matthew 8:28 [actually, Matthew 8:26]; Mark 4:40; in Revelation 21:8 of Christians who through cowardice give way under persecutions and apostatize. (From Homer down.)”[58]

Before I get too carried away by the idea that the Lord Jesus used δειλός in the same way that Homer used it, I’ll look more deeply into the context in Revelation.  But that kind of confusion could explain why Peter believed that Jesus wanted him to die[59] defending Him with a sword in the garden of Gethsemane.

The damned in Revelation were contrasted to one who conquers: The one who conquers (νικῶν, a form of νικάω)[60] will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son.[61]  The one who conquers (νικῶν, a form of νικάω) will in no way be harmed by the second death.[62]  The one who conquers (νικῶν, a form of νικάω) I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it.  I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God (the new Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from my God), and my new name as well.[63]

And to the one who conquers (νικῶν, a form of νικάω) and who continues in my deeds (τὰ ἔργα[64] μου[65]) until the end, I will give him authority over the nations[66]  The one who conquers (νικῶν, a form of νικάω) will be dressed like [the few individuals in Sardis who have not stained their clothes][67] in white clothing, and I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will declare his name before my Father and before his angels.[68]  I have not found your deeds complete (σου |τὰ| ἔργα πεπληρωμένα[69]) in the sight of my God,[70] the Lord complained against most in Sardis.  Wake up then, and strengthen what remains,[71] He said, remember what (πῶς)[72] you received (εἴληφας, a form of λαμβάνω)[73] and heard, and obey it, and repent.[74]

Ordinarily, εἴληφας, a form of λαμβάνω, means to take.[75]  Of course, coupled with πῶς which means how, in what way (translated what), the translation received makes more sense.  How could anyone take from the Lord except to receive what He has given?  What do you have that you did not receive (ἔλαβες, another form of λαμβάνω)?  And if you received (ἔλαβες) it, why do you boast as though you did (λαβών, another form of λαμβάνω) not?[76]

Translated as remember what you received I think of the Holy Spirit and all the righteousness, both fruit and gifts, that flows from Him: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[77]  And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us.  If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is service, he must serve; if it is teaching, he must teach; if it is exhortation, he must exhort; if it is contributing, he must do so with sincerity; if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence; if it is showing mercy, he must do so with cheerfulness.[78]

On the other hand if I think of it translated as remember what you [took], I am reminded of the law: You shall not take (Septuagint, λήμψῃ,[79] another form of λαμβάνω) the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who takes (Septuagint, λαμβάνοντα,[80] another form of λαμβάνω) his name in vain.[81]  Most in Sardis had not continued in Christ’s deeds, τὰ ἔργα μου (literally, my works, these works of mine).  They had not come into the light, so that it may be plainly evident that [their] deeds have been done in [or, by] God.[82]  They relied on their own works.  I have not found your deeds complete (ἔργα πεπληρωμένα [a form of πληρόω, fulfilled]) in the sight of my God, Jesus said.  He came to fulfill his works in and through us who believe (Matthew 5:17 NET):

Do not think that I have come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω)[83] the law or the prophets.  I have not come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) these things but to fulfill (πληρῶσαι, a form of πληρόω) them.

One of the things the one who conquers will inherit[84] is a promise: To the one who is thirsty (διψῶντι, a form of διψάω)[85] I will give water free of charge from the spring of the water of life.[86]  The translators admitted (NET note 13) that they added the word water because it “is implied.  Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.”  So the text reads, To the one who is thirsty I will give free of charge from the spring of the water of life.  The implied direct object in this case is not water but righteousness: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst (διψῶντες, another form of διψάω) for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.[87]

Everyone who drinks some of this water will be thirsty (διψήσει, another form of διψάω) again, Jesus, pointing at a well, told a Samaritan woman.  But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty (διψήσει, another form of διψάω) again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.[88]  So the way that righteousness, the will of God, is achieved in heaven is through free access to God’s Holy Spirit, not an occasional spurt of righteousness, but a spring or fountain springing up to eternal life, which is not so much a timeless time or place as an eternal way of life.  And so it is on earth: may your will be done (γενηθήτω, a form of γίνομαι, literally become)[89] on earth as it is in heaven.[90]

And so it was with our Lord and Savior: I will grant the one who conquers (νικῶν, a form of νικάω) permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered (ἐνίκησα, a form of νικάω) and sat down with my Father on his throne.[91]  For everyone who has been fathered by God conquers (νικᾷ, a form of νικάω) the world.  This is the conquering power that has conquered (νικήσασα, a form of νικάω) the world: our faith.  Now who is the person who has conquered (νικῶν, a form of νικάω) the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?[92]  If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God resides in him and he in God.  And we have come to know and to believe the love [the fruit of his Spirit] that God has in us.  God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him.[93]

With that in mind I want to reconsider the story of Jesus calming the wind and the waves.  I’ll use my imagination along with a psalm to get into the scene a little deeper.  When a great windstorm developed and the waves first began breaking into the boat,[94] though the other disciples may have been immediately afraid, I imagine Peter, Andrew, James and John took it in stride, for they were fishermen (Psalm 107:23-25 NET).

Some traveled on the sea in ships, and carried cargo over the vast waters.  They witnessed the acts of the Lord, his amazing feats on the deep water.  He gave the order for a windstorm, and it stirred up the waves of the sea.

As Peter gave orders to man the sail, ropes or oars, I imagine he smiled to himself that Jesus could sleep through it all.  Obviously, the Messiah wasn’t worried that He might drown in a storm on the Sea of Galilee (Psalm 107:26a NET).

They reached up to the sky, then dropped into the depths.

That’s an apt description of a boat riding out a storm fairly successfully.  But in the midst of an inland lake, the longer the wind blows, the more confused the waves become as they bounce back from every shore.  In the dark with no clue where the next wave would come from, it became almost impossible to head into the waves, so that the boat was nearly swamped.[95]  As the level of the water rose inside the boat, I imagine Peter’s amusement gave way to dismay, that the Messiah could sleep through it all (Psalm 107:26b-28a NET).

The sailors’ strength left them because the danger was so great.  They swayed and staggered like a drunk, and all their skill proved ineffective.  They cried out to the Lord in their distress…

Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?[96] Peter roused Jesus from his slumber.  I imagine that it was Peter, telling on himself through Mark (Psalm 107:28b, 29 NET).

…he delivered them from their troubles.  He calmed the storm, and the waves grew silent.

Granted, there are more appropriate ways to cry out to the Lord at the end of one’s own faith.  I’ve certainly said worse than—Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?—but the Lord’s love is not easily angered or resentful.[97]  And with time in, living at the edge of my faith, his peace and patience work out more appropriate prayers for salvation in me.  My point in all this is that Jesus was not concerned with the fear his disciples felt during the storm.  They responded more or less appropriately to that fear according to the Scripture.

Hear how the words—Why are you cowardly?  Do you still not have faith?—sound, if they were spoken quietly with a smile and a wink as Jesus headed back to bed, rather than an imperious scowl.  Granted, the order of events in Matthew’s Gospel account lends more credence to that imperious scowl, but then in Matthew the phrase you people of little faith[98] is one word, ὀλιγόπιστοι (a form of ὀλιγόπιστος).[99]  Knowing that, it sounds more like a pet name or a term of endearment than a curse, or even a rebuke.

Where the disciples were in danger of diverging from Scripture was after Jesus calmed the storm, after He revealed that this particular Messiah was in fact Yahweh (Psalms 65:5-789:8, 993:3, 4 NET), who spoke to the wind and the waves and, Even the wind and sea obey him![100]  The sailors [in the psalm] rejoiced because the waves grew quiet, and he led them to the harbor they desired.[101]  Jesus disciples were overwhelmed by fear (ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν).[102]

So, when Aaron and all the Israeliteswere afraid (Septuagint, ἐφοβήθησαν, a form of φοβέω) to approach [Moses] because the skin of his face shone,[103] they were not frightened by a strange sight.  They had seen stranger sights.  They were frightened by the implication of Moses’ shining face, that Moses was becoming like Yahweh.  The fear of becoming like God, if it is not faced, could keep one from conquering, from inheriting, and from hearing the Lord say, I will be his God and he will be my son.[104]

So that fear fully deserves its place first in the list of the damned.  Aaron and all the Israelites faced that fear, however, and drew near to Moses anyway.  Jesus’ Apostles, except for Judas Iscariot, faced it and overcame by faith in Him, because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world.[105]

Fear – Leviticus

Back to Torture, Part 1

[2] Exodus 34:29, 30 (NET)

[4] a form of φόβος

[5] a form of μέγας

[7] Mark 4:37 (NET)

[8] Mark 4:38, 39 (NET)

[9] Mark 4:40 (NET)

[10] Matthew 8:26 (NET)

[11] Matthew 9:9 (NET) As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth. “Follow me,” he said to him.  And he got up and followed him.

[13] Now a great windstorm (λαῖλαψ μεγάλη [another form of μέγας]) developed and the waves, careening back and forth between the shores of the lake called the Sea of Galilee, were the result.

[15] Matthew 8:26 (NET)

[16] 2 Peter 1:3 (NET)

[17] Romans 4

[22] a form of οὗτος

[25] a form of σύ; of you

[26] Ephesians 2:8 (NET)

[30] Ephesians 2:9 (NET)

[31] Ephesians 2:8, 9 (NET)

[32] Galatians 5:16 (NET)

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

[36] Matthew 23:13 (NET)

[38] a form of ὑπακοή

[40] a form of ἐπιταγή

[41] a form of

[42] a form of αἰώνιος, of eternal

[43] a form of θεός, of God

[45] Luke 24:49 (NET)

[47] John 1:40, 41 (NET)

[48] John 1:45 (NET)

[49] John 1:46 (NET)

[50] John 1:49 (NET)

[53] Hebrews 12:28 (NET)

[57] Revelation 21:8 (NET)

[59] The Soul

[61] Revelation 21:7 (NET)

[62] Revelation 2:11b (NET)

[63] Revelation 3:12 (NET)

[64] a form of ἔργον

[65] a form of ἐγώ

[66] Revelation 2:26 (NET)

[68] Revelation 3:5 (NET)

[69] a form of πληρόω

[70] Revelation 3:2b (NET)

[71] Revelation 3:2a (NET)

[74] Revelation 3:3a (NET)

[75] Revelation 11:17b (NET) …you have taken (εἴληφας) your great power and begun to reign.

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

[78] Romans 12:6-8 (NET)

[79]  Point to the word with the mouse to see a popup translation; then point to “search” in the popup to see another popup with the root form of the word.

[81] Exodus 20:7 (NET)

[82] John 3:21 (NET)

[86] Revelation 21:6 (NET)

[87] Matthew 5:6 (NET)

[88] John 4:13, 14 (NET)

[90] Matthew 6:10 (NET)

[91] Revelation 3:21 (NET)

[92] 1 John 5:4, 5 (NET)

[93] 1 John 4:15, 16 (NET)

[94] Mark 4:37a (NET)

[95] Mark 4:37b (NET)

[96] Mark 4:38 (NET)

[97] 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NET)

[98] Matthew 8:26 (NET)

[100] Mark 4:41 (NET)

[101] Psalm 107:30 (NET)

[102] Mark 4:41 (NET)

[103] Exodus 34:29, 30 (NET)

[104] Revelation 21:7 (NET)

[105] 1 John 5:4 (NET)