Romans, Part 88

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

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

 

Form of πείθω Reference KJV

NET

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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of πείθω

Reference KJV

NET

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

 

[1] Romans 15:22 (NET)

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

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

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

[5] Jeremiah 31:34b (Tanakh)

[6] Luke 6:37 (NET)

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

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

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

[10] 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NET)

[11] Galatians 5:7 (NET)

[12] Matthew 27:20 (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:22 (NET)

[14] Acts 14:19 (NET)

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

[16] Acts 19:26 (NET)

[17] Acts 27:11 (NET)

[18] Acts 27:10a (NET)

[19] Acts 27:13b (NET)

[20] Galatians 5:2 (NET)

[21] Galatians 1:6 (NET)

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

Romans, Part 69

Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality.[1]  I’ll forego the table of Scripture this time.  I’m convinced now that I’m not forcing the situation.  Paul was describing love empowered by the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not offering obedience to his own rules as the true path to living eternal life.  And there was always something arbitrary about what I was trying to do.  Kindness is the most obvious aspect of the fruit of the Spirit to effect contributing, but since I have used it already I would’ve said faithfulness.  And as I consider the needs of the saints I tend to focus on Love is patient.[2]

But the fruit of the Spirit isn’t really divisible into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control any more than love is divisible into the constituent parts of Paul’s definition in 1 Corinthians.  I can’t spoof the fruit of the Spirit by striving to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled, though I’m not sure I would have understood that if I hadn’t tried to do it on my own.

The Greek word translated contribute above is κοινωνοῦντες (a form of κοινωνέω).  It means to share, or to have in common: All who believed were together and held everything in common (κοινὰ, a form of κοινός).[3]  The group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but everything was held in common (κοινά, a form of κοινός).[4]  Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, the author of Hebrews wrote, [Jesus] likewise shared in their humanity.[5]  And this brings up another aspect of the concept common.

The Greek word translated share above is κεκοινώνηκεν, another form of κοινωνέω, or a form of κοινόω.  In the NET online if I click on the English word share I am taken to κοινωνέω, if I click on κεκοινώνηκεν in the parallel Greek I am taken to κοινόω.  Perhaps this is just a mistake.  It happens sometimes.  In Revelation 20:10 for instance if I click on lake I am taken to λίμνη (‘lake’), if I click on the parallel Greek λίμνην I am taken to λιμήν (‘harbor’ or ‘haven’).  But I’ll pursue this as if it is a possible understanding of the Greek rather than a coding mistake because all of these words share κοινός as their common root.

Jews from the province of Asia[6] accused Paul: he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled (κεκοίνωκεν, a form of κοινόω) this holy place![7]  If this is a potential meaning of κεκοινώνηκεν it accentuates how He who became Jesus profaned, defiled or made Himself common as He shared (μετέσχεν, a form of μετέχω) in our humanity.  This isn’t difficult to grasp; a common woman was one shared by many.

I want to take a moment to discuss who He-who-became-Jesus is.  To most of my contemporaries He is the unknown Son of God who declared the known Jehovah as his Father.  I think of Him as the known yehôvâh (יהוה) who became flesh and blood as Ἰησοῦς and revealed his as yet unknown Father.  Admittedly, I would arrive at a stalemate on this issue from Scripture.  I lean the way I do because of personal experience.  That Jehovah killed someone or sent someone to die, even his own son, isn’t really news, certainly not good news.

If yehôvâh became a man  Ἰησοῦς and gave his own human life to satisfy his own righteous vengeance against human sin, if He created human beings knowing full well He would ultimately pay this price for them, that is news, very good news.  And it helps to explain the great pains He took,[8] and continues to take, to demonstrate the failure of any other means of redemption.  And with this understanding I can appreciate how yehôvâh bowed to the higher authority of his Father’s will, authority which supersedes all law or covenant, as He relented over the evil that he had said he would do to his people[9] at Sinai.

So what makes a person common, defiled or profane?  What defiles (κοινοῖ, another form of κοινόω) a person is not what goes into the mouth; it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles (κοινοῖ, another form of κοινόω) a person.[10]  The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile (κοινοῖ, another form of κοινόω) a person.[11]  Jesus wasn’t talking about disease here.  For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.[12]

This knowledge wasn’t from yehôvâh’s omniscience but from  Ἰησοῦς’ personal experience.   Ἰησοῦς knew (ἐγίνωσκεν, a form of γινώσκω) what was in man (ἀνθρώπῳ, a form of ἄνθρωπος).[13]  God made the one who did not know (γνόντα, another form of γινώσκω) sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.[14]  The things that defile a person are already inside a person.  These are the things that defile (κοινοῦντα, another form of κοινόω, or ‘make common’) a person (ἄνθρωπον, another form of ἄνθρωπος); it is not eating with unwashed hands that defiles (κοινοῖ, another form of κοινόω) a person (ἄνθρωπον, another form of ἄνθρωπος).[15]

So are we all common, defiled, profane?  Certainly not, Lord, Peter protested to the voice which commanded him to slaughter and eat in a trance as he prayed, for I have never eaten anything defiled (κοινὸν, a form of κοινός) and ritually unclean![16]  In his trance Peter didn’t believe Jesus’ teaching, There is nothing outside of a person that can defile (κοινῶσαι, another form of κοινόω) him by going into him.[17]  The voice didn’t chide his unbelief but said simply, What God has made clean, you must not consider ritually unclean (κοίνου, another form of κοινόω)![18]  We take this to mean that all foods are clean.[19]  But Peter said, God has shown me that I should call no person defiled (κοινὸν, a form of κοινός) or ritually unclean.[20]

Macedonia and Achaia are pleased to make some contribution (κοινωνίαν, a form of κοινωνία) for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem,[21] Paul wrote the believers in Rome.  I think it’s important to consider the origin of the poor among the saints in JerusalemAll who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need (χρείαν, a form of χρεία).[22]  At first this economic system worked amazingly well (Acts 4:32-35 NET):

The group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but everything was held in common.  With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on them all.  For there was no one needy (ἐνδεής) among them, because those who were owners of land or houses were selling them and bringing the proceeds from the sales and placing them at the apostles’ feet.  The proceeds were distributed to each, as anyone had need (χρείαν, a form of χρεία). 

They sold land and houses, assets that could be leased or rented, believing, This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven[23] soon, in their lifetimes.  I’m not suggesting they acted contrarily to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but that prompting may have been unique to their time and circumstances.

Jerusalem was destroyed in the lifetimes of many of them, and whatever lands and houses remained went to their Roman conquerors.  Israel had a penchant for arbitrary law (Judges 21:5, Ezra 10:8, Acts 9:1, 2 NET).  Converting lands and houses to cash may have been the only way for believers in Jerusalem to “keep” them.  [Y]ou accepted the confiscation of your belongings with joy, because you knew that you certainly had a better and lasting possession,[24] the writer of Hebrews acknowledged.

The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, probably by design, kept the Jerusalem church from becoming a popular, bandwagon-style movement (Acts 5:11-13 NET):

Great fear gripped the whole church and all who heard about these things.  Now many miraculous signs and wonders came about among the people through the hands of the apostles.  By common consent they were all meeting together in Solomon’s Portico.  None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high honor.

The More and more believers in the Lord [who] were added to their number, crowds of both men and women,[25] were drawn by Jesus, I trust, rather than the glitz and glam of the moment.  But it didn’t keep pace apparently with the conversion and spending of assets:  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food,[26] was James’ concern in the Jerusalem church.  At the Jerusalem Council when James, Cephas, and John, who had a reputation as pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, Paul wrote the Galatians, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we would go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.  They requested only that we remember the poor, the very thing I also was eager to do.[27]

For [Macedonia and Achaia] were pleased to [make some contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem], and indeed they are indebted (ὀφειλέται, a form of ὀφειλέτης) to the Jerusalem saints.[28]  For if the Gentiles have shared (ἐκοινώνησαν, another form of κοινωνέω) in their spiritual things (πνευματικοῖς, a form of πνευματικός), they are obligated (ὀφείλουσιν, a form of ὀφείλω) also to minister (λειτουργῆσαι, a form of λειτουργέω) to them in material things (σαρκικοῖς, a form of σαρκικός).[29]

This debt and obligation stem directly from, To [Israel] belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises.  To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever!  Amen.[30]  Still, Paul called this debt and obligation καρπὸν (fruit): Therefore after I have completed this and have safely delivered this bounty (καρπὸν, a form of καρπός) to them[31]  And so I take it for granted that he intended this debt and obligation to be dispatched by love empowered by the fruit of the Spirit much as I wrote elsewhere on the spiritual gift of contributing[32] (μεταδιδοὺς, a form of μεταδίδωμι).

I’ll write more on that in subsequent essays.  Here, I want to address two different but related issues: 1) I don’t think the communal economy of the Jerusalem church is normative, and 2) I think the debt and obligation to the poor among the saints in Jerusalem was as temporary as that unique situation.  I consider Paul’s own example (Acts 20:33-35 NET):

“I have desired (ἐπεθύμησα, a form of ἐπιθυμέω) no one’s silver or gold or clothing.  You yourselves know that these hands of mine provided for my needs (χρείαις, a form of χρεία) and the needs of those who were with me.  By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help (ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι, a form of ἀντιλαμβάνομαι) the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive (λαμβάνειν, a form of λαμβάνω).’”

And I consider Paul’s teaching (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12; Ephesians 4:28 NET):

Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need (χρείαν, another form of χρεία) 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 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 (χρείαν, another form of χρεία).

The one who steals must steal no longer; rather he must labor, doing good (ἀγαθόν, another form of ἀγαθός) with his own hands, so that he may have something to share (μεταδιδόναι, another form of μεταδίδωμι) with the one who has need (χρείαν, another form of χρεία).

And I consider Paul’s understanding of the one new man (Ephesians 2:11-22 NET):

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh – who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body by human hands – that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees.  He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed.  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.  In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

And so I find it extremely difficult to believe that the Holy Spirit intended to re-divide this one new man into a permanent working-class of Gentiles supporting a permanent leisure-class of descendants of Israel because Paul wrote the saints of Macedonia and Achaia that they are indebted to the Jerusalem saints.  For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are obligated also to minister to them in material things.[33]  I believe that debt and obligation were superseded, once the Jerusalem church was scattered (along with its unique economy), by: Owe (ὀφείλετε, another form of ὀφείλω) no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.[34]

Romans, Part 70

[1] Romans 12:13 (NET)

[2] 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NET)

[3] Acts 2:44 (NET)

[4] Acts 4:32 (NET)

[5] Hebrews 2:14a (NET)

[6] Acts 21:27 (NET)

[7] Acts 21:28b (NKJV)

[8] Genesis 4:7, 8; Genesis 6:5-8; Genesis 9:24-27; Exodus 20:4-6; Exodus 32:1-4; Matthew 5:17-20 NET

[9] Exodus 32:14 (NET)

[10] Matthew 15:11 (NET)

[11] Matthew 15:18 (NET)

[12] Matthew 15:19 (NET)

[13] John 2:25b (NET)

[14] 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NET)

[15] Matthew 15:20 (NET)

[16] Acts 10:14 (NET)

[17] Mark 7:15a (NET)

[18] Acts 10:15 (NET)

[19] Mark 7:19b (NET)

[20] Acts 10:28b (NET)

[21] Romans 15:26 (NET)

[22] Acts 2:44, 45 (NET)

[23] Acts 1:11b (NET)

[24] Hebrews 10:34b (NET)

[25] Acts 5:14 (NET)

[26] James 2:15 (NET)

[27] Galatians 2:9, 10 (NET)

[28] One might argue that they (we) were (are) more indebted to those in Israel who rejected Jesus.

[29] Romans 15:27 (NET)

[30] Romans 9:4, 5 (NET)

[31] Romans 15:28 (NET)

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

[33] Romans 15:27b (NET)

[34] Romans 13:8 (NET)

Romans, Part 52

 

So how can I view, Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good,[1] and what follows as a definition of love rather than as rules?  I’ve constructed the following table to help.

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

Goodness (ἀγαθωσύνη)

…for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of the light – for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness (ἀγαθωσύνῃ), righteousness, and truth (ἀληθείᾳ) – trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.[2]
Love (ἀγάπη) is…

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NET)

…not glad about injustice (ἀδικίᾳ)…

1 Corinthians 13:6a (NET)

…but rejoices (συγχαίρει, a form of συγχαίρω) in the truth (ἀληθείᾳ).

1 Corinthians 13:6b (NET)

The person who speaks on his own authority desires to receive honor for himself; the one who desires the honor of the one who sent him is a man of integrity, and there is no unrighteousness (ἀδικία) in him.[3]
This Love Without Hypocrisy…

Romans 12:9-21 (NET)

Abhor (ἀποστυγοῦντες, a form of ἀποστυγέω) what is evil (πονηρόν, a form of πονηρός)…

Romans 12:9b (NET)

…cling (κολλώμενοι, a form of κολλάω) to what is good (ἀγαθῷ, a form of ἀγαθός).

Romans 12:9c (NET)

While it makes some sense to place cling to what is good (ἀγαθῷ) under goodness (ἀγαθωσύνη), there is also a certain arbitrariness to subdividing a multivariate unity like the fruit of the Spirit.  Why not place rejoices (συγχαίρει) in the truth under joy (χαρά)?  I have no argument against that at all.  I wholeheartedly believe that the motivating power (both to will and to do)[4] is the fruit of Christ’s Spirit.  I rejoice in the truth because of his joy flowing in and through me.  And I’ve clearly walked everything through love (ἀγάπη; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NET) as well.  What is most important to me is the direction of flow, that I abhor what is evil and cling to what is good by God’s goodness, not my own.

I used to work this backwards.  I believed that if I gathered a list of all that is evil and abhorred it, if I gathered a list of all that is good and clung to it, then I would be a man of integrity who desired to honor God.  And if I was not glad about injustice but rejoiced in the truth, then I would be walking as a child of the light, and I would have achieved the fruit of the Spirit, the very Goodness of God.  I would have climbed up sunshine mountain.[5]  Though I now consider this adultery, even a super πορνεία, and precisely what Jesus meant when he called the Pharisees hypocrites, I didn’t know any better then.  My only alternative in the futility of my thinking[6] was to say, “No, I won’t do any of those things.”

Though I could see no alternative to obeying rules in my mind, I felt it in my heart and in my spirit.  I had moments, brief, precious God-given moments of unbounded grace, when I could do no wrong, effortlessly.  Why did they end? I wondered.  And so I studied the Bible for more rules to obey.  But despite my best efforts to remain blind and unthinking, God’s light shone through.  His love, his joy, his peace, his patience, his kindness, his goodness, his faithfulness, his gentleness and his firm control[7] began to take its toll on my recalcitrant mind, and renew it.

Now I see even with my mind, that if I abhor what is evil and cling to what is good, it is due to his goodness.  If I am not glad about injustice but rejoice in the truth, it is due to his love and joy.  If I walk as a child of the light it demonstrates his righteousness, not mine.  It is his gift received by faith.  For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ![8]  Now I can look back and see that even the point of that silly little song was to “Look to God on High,” but my religious mind tried to keep me blind—tried and failed because eventually I learned to stop trying to do and started believing.

John’s words are an excellent transition to believe into the next definition of love in Paul’s letter to the Romans, Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another.[9]

I am writing to you, little children, that your sins have been forgiven because of his name.  I am writing to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning.  I am writing to you, young people, that you have conquered the evil one (πονηρόν).  I have written to you, children, that you have known the Father.  I have written to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning.  I have written to you, young people, that you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one (πονηρόν).[10]
The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

Kindness (χρηστότης)

But “when the kindness (χρηστότης) of God our Savior and his love for mankind (φιλανθρωπία) appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy (ἔλεος), through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.”[11]
Love (ἀγάπη) is…

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NET)

…kind (χρηστεύεται, a form of χρηστεῦομαι)…

1 Corinthians 13:4 (NET)

…it is not envious (ζηλοῖ, a form of ζηλόω).

1 Corinthians 13:4 (NET)

But the Jews became jealous (Ζηλώσαντες, a form of ζηλόω), and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar.[12]They court you eagerly (ζηλοῦσιν, another form of ζηλόω), but for no good purpose; they want to exclude you, so that you would seek them eagerly (ζηλοῦτε, another form of ζηλόω).  However, it is good to be sought eagerly (ζηλοῦσθαι, another form of ζηλόω) for a good purpose at all times, and not only when I am present with you.[13]
This Love Without Hypocrisy…

Romans 12:9-21 (NET)

Be devoted (φιλαδελφίᾳ, a form of φιλαδελφία) to one another with mutual love (φιλόστοργοι, a form of φιλόστοργος)…

Romans 12:10a (NET)

…showing eagerness (προηγούμενοι, a form of προηγέομαι) in honoring (τιμῇ, a form of τιμή) one another.

Romans 12:10b (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 (ἀγαπᾶν, a form of ἀγαπάω) 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 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.[14]

So I began here with John’s good and kind and gracious words that I may cling to them and rejoice in their truth: 1) your sins have been forgiven because of his name; 2) you have known him who has been from the beginning, 3) you have conquered the evil one [whether that be Satan or the sin in my own flesh]; 4) you have known the Father; 5) you have known him who has been from the beginning [and it is good to hear it again]; 6) you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

This kindness (χρηστότης), an aspect of the fruit of his Spirit, is from God: when the kindness (χρηστότης) of God our Savior and his love for mankind (φιλανθρωπία) appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy (ἔλεος), through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.  And so, love is kind (χρηστεύεται), it is not envious (ζηλοῖ, a form of ζηλόω).

It’s worth the time to try to grasp what Paul meant by negating ζηλοῖ here, because he often used forms of ζηλόω in a more positive sense.  I am jealous (ζηλῶ, another form of ζηλόω) for you with godly jealousy (ζήλῳ, a form of ζῆλος), because I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.[15]  He encouraged the Corinthians to be eager (ζηλοῦτε, another form of ζηλόω) for the greater gifts,[16] to Pursue love and be eager (ζηλοῦτε) for the spiritual gifts,[17] to be eager (ζηλοῦτε) to prophesy, and do not forbid anyone from speaking in tongues.[18]  But he was well aware of the jealousy of the religious mind (Acts 17:1-5a NET).

After they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.  Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, 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 and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.  But the Jews became jealous (Ζηλώσαντες, a form of ζηλόω), and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar.

They court you eagerly (ζηλοῦσιν, another form of ζηλόω), but for no good purpose,[19] Paul wrote the Galatians.  The word translated good in for no good purpose is καλῶς, literally beautifully.  Paul used it often in an edgy almost sarcastic way.  Then you will say, “The branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.”  Granted (καλῶς)!  They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith.  Do not be arrogant, but fear![20]  For you are certainly giving thanks well (καλῶς), he wrote to the one who speaks in a tongue[21] but does not interpret, but the other person is not strengthened.[22]  For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough (καλῶς)![23]

I think this same edginess comes into play here in Galatians as Paul hit on the primary motive of the religious mind’s jealousy: they want to exclude you, so that you would seek them eagerly (ζηλοῦτε, another form of ζηλόω).[24]  Then he explained the difference between a positive and negative ζηλόω.  However, it is good (καλὸν, a form of καλός) to be sought eagerly (ζηλοῦσθαι, another form of ζηλόω) for a good (καλῷ, another form of καλός) purpose at all times, and not only when I am present with you.[25]  The words translated good here, καλὸν and καλῷ, are forms of καλός, beautiful literally, “goodness” in appearance.  It is a beautiful image of the difference between attempting to be good by one’s own efforts and relying on the intrinsic goodness (ἀγαθωσύνη) of God.  For I know that nothing good (ἀγαθόν, a form of ἀγαθός) lives in me, Paul wrote the Romans, that is, in my flesh.  For I want to do the good (καλὸν, a form of καλός), but I cannot do it.[26]  The religious works of the religious mind lack the ἀγαθωσύνη of God (and probably his χρηστότης as well).

And so Paul’s description of love is to Be devoted (φιλαδελφίᾳ, brotherly affection) to one another with mutual love (φιλόστοργοι, familial affection), showing eagerness (προηγούμενοι, lead the way) in honoring (τιμῇ, or valuing) one another.[27]  This is what John did with the words that I used to begin this section.  And this is what Paul did: Now on the topic of brotherly love (φιλαδελφίας) you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love (ἀγαπᾶν) one anotherAnd 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[28] 

What follows is interesting as a regional/cultural difference or Paul’s personal taste or something gleaned from experience.  In Jerusalem God’s kindness was manifest as a communal ethic: All who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need.[29]  When Ezra followed Shecaniah’s suggestion to have the men who married foreign women divorce them according to the law,[30] A proclamation was circulated throughout Judah and Jerusalem that all the exiles were to be assembled in Jerusalem.  Everyone who did not come within three days would thereby forfeit all his property, in keeping with the counsel of the officials and the elders.[31]  With a historical precedent like that Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem may have forfeited their property to the authorities if they had tried to keep it.

Paul worked with his own hands even as he ministered the Gospel.  When James, Cephas, and John, who had a reputation as pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, Paul wrote the Galatians, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we would go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.  They requested only that we remember the poor [in Jerusalem], the very thing I also was eager to do.[32]  James commented how some in the Jerusalem church had become judges with evil motives[33] favoring the rich: Are not the rich oppressing you and dragging you into the courts?  Do they not blaspheme the good name of the one you belong to?[34]

Against this backdrop Paul counseled the Thessalonians to show God’s kindness through a more working-class ethic, to aspire 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.[35]

 

Romans, Part 53 

Back to Romans, Part 69

Back to To Make Holy, Part 1


[1] Romans 12:9b (NET)

[2] Ephesians 5:8-10 (NET)

[3] John 7:18 (NET)

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

[8] Romans 5:17 (NET)

[9] Romans 12:10 (NET)

[10] 1 John 2:12-14 (NET)

[11] Titus 3:4-6 (NET)

[12] Acts 17:5 (NET)

[13] Galatians 4:17, 18 (NET)

[14] 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 (NET)

[15] 2 Corinthians 11:2 (NET)

[16] 1 Corinthians 12:31 (NET)

[17] 1 Corinthians 14:1 (NET)

[18] 1 Corinthians 14:39 (NET)

[19] Galatians 4:17a (NET)

[20] Romans 11:19, 20 (NET)

[21] 1 Corinthians 14:13 (NET)

[22] 1 Corinthians 14:17 (NET)

[23] 2 Corinthians 11:4 (NET)

[24] Galatians 4:17b (NET)

[25] Galatians 4:18 (NET)

[26] Romans 7:18 (NET)

[27] Romans 12:10 (NET)

[28] 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 10 (NET)

[29] Acts 2:44, 45 (NET)

[31] Ezra 10:7, 8a (NET)

[32] Galatians 2:9, 10 (NET)

[33] James 2:4 (NET)

[34] James 2:6b, 7 (NET)

[35] 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 (NET)