Who Am I? Part 6

I wrote:

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

And:

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

And:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Mark Luke

John

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

John 19:1-3

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

John 19:4

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

Mark 15:8

So after they had assembled, Pilate said to them…

Matthew 27:17a

So Pilate asked them…

Mark 15:9a

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

Matthew 27:17b

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

Mark 15:9b

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

Matthew 27:18

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

Mark 15:10

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

Matthew 27:19

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

Matthew 27:20a

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

Mark 15:11

…and to have Jesus killed.

Matthew 27:20b

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

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

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

John 19:5-8

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

Luke 23:18, 19

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

John 19:9-12a

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

Luke 23:20

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

Matthew 27:21

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

Matthew 27:22-23a

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

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

Mark 15:12-14a

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

John 19:12b-14

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

Luke 23:21, 22

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

John 19:15

But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”

Matthew 27:23b

But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”

Mark 15:14b

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

Luke 23:23a

And their shouts prevailed.

Luke 23:23b

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

Matthew 27:24, 25

So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted.

Luke 23:24

Because he wanted to satisfy the crowd…

Mark 15:15a

Then he released Barabbas for them.

Matthew 27:26a

…Pilate released Barabbas for them.

Mark 15:15b

 

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

Luke 23:25a

But after he had Jesus flogged…

Matthew 27:26b

Then, after he had Jesus flogged…

Mark 15:15c

…he handed him over to be crucified.

Matthew 27:26c

…he handed him over to be crucified.

Mark 15:15d

But he handed Jesus over to their will.

Luke 23:25b

Then Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

John 19:16a

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

Matthew 27:27-29

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

Mark 15:16, 17

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

Mark 15:18, 19a

They put a staff in his right hand…

Matthew 27:29b

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

Matthew 27:29c

Then they knelt down and paid homage to him.

Mark 15:19b

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

Matthew 27:30

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

Matthew 27:31

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

Mark 15:20

 

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

 

Matthew Mark Luke John
Then they arrested Jesus…

Luke 22:54a

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

John 18:12a

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

John 18:12b-14

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

John 18:19-23

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

Matthew 26:57

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

Mark 14:53

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

Luke 22:54b

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

John 18:24

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

Matthew 26:58a

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

Mark 14:54a

But Peter was following at a distance.

Luke 22:54c

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

Matthew 26:58b

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

Mark 14:54b

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

Luke 22:55

Meanwhile Simon Peter was standing in the courtyard warming himself.

John 18:25a

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

Matthew 26:59-61

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

Mark 14:55-58

Yet even on this point their testimony did not agree.

Mark 14:59

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

But Jesus was silent.

Matthew 26:62, 63a

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

But he was silent and did not answer.

Mark 14:60, 61a

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

Matthew 26:63b-64a

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

Mark 14:61b

“I am,” said Jesus…

Mark 14:62a

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

Matthew 26:63b-67a

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

Mark 14:62b-65a

…and to blindfold him…

Mark 14:65b

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

Matthew 26:67b-68

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

Mark 14:65c

The guards also took him and beat him.

Matthew 14:65d

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

Luke 22:63

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

Luke 22:64, 65

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

Matthew 27:1

Early in the morning, after forming a plan…

Mark 15:1a

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

Luke 22:66a

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

Luke 22:66b-71

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

Matthew 27:2

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

Mark 15:1b

 

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

Luke 23:1

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

John 18:28a

 

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

John 18:28b

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

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

John 18:29-32

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

Luke 23:2

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

Matthew 27:11a

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

Mark 15:2a

 

 

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

Luke 23:3a

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

John 18:33

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

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

John 18:34-37a

Jesus said, “You say so.”

Matthew 27:11b

He replied, “You say so.”

Mark 15:2b

He replied, “You say so.”

Luke 23:3b

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

John 18:37b

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

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

John 18:37c, 38a

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

Luke 23:4

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

John 18:38b

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

Matthew 27:12-14

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

Mark 15:3-5

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

Matthew 27:15, 16

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

Mark 15:6, 7

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

John 18:39, 40

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

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

Luke 23:5-12

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

Luke 23:13-16

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

John 19:1-3

Back to Romans, Part 87

[1] John 13:36b (NET)

[2] Matthew 11:2a (NET)

[3] Matthew 11:5 (NET)

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

[5] John 18:24 (NET)

[6] Matthew 26:59 (NET)

[7] Matthew 26:63b (NET)

[8] Mark 14:62 (NET)

[9] Matthew 26:68 (NET)

[10] Luke 22:63 (NET)

[11] Matthew 16:20 (NET)

[12] Matthew 16:21 (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:1 (NET)

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

[15] 2 Timothy 2:13 (NET)

[16] Luke 23:1 (NET)

[17] John 18:28b (NET)

[18] John 18:31 (NET)

[19] Luke 23:2 (NET)

[20] 1 Timothy 1:15 (NET)

[21] Mark 15:1 (NET)

[22] John 18:36a (NET)

[23] Matthew 27:12 (NET)

[24] John 1:11 (NET)

[25] Luke 23:5 (NET)

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

[27] John 14:10b (NET)

Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 16

Paul wrote believers in Colossae (Colossians 3:1-6 NET):

Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him.  So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry.  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience.

A note (4) at the end of this passage in the NET reads:

The words ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας (…“on the sons of disobedience”) are lacking in Ì46 [correct symbol won’t display] B b sa, but are found in א A C D F G H I Ψ 075 0278 33 1739 1881 Ï lat sy bo. The words are omitted by several English translations (NASB, NIV, ESV, TNIV). This textual problem is quite difficult to resolve. On the one hand, the parallel account in Eph 5:6 has these words, thus providing scribes a motive for adding them here. On the other hand, the reading without the words may be too hard: The ἐν οἷς (en hois) of v. 7 seems to have no antecedent without υἱούς already in the text, although it could possibly be construed as neuter referring to the vice list in v. 5. Further, although the witness of B is especially important, there are other places in which B and Ì46 [ditto above] share errant readings of omission. Nevertheless, the strength of the internal evidence against the longer reading is at least sufficient to cause doubt here. The decision to retain the words in the text is less than certain.

Whether the words sons of disobedience were original or not is immaterial to me.  I’m more concerned with δι᾿ ἃ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ (“Because of these things the wrath of God is coming”).  First, ἔρχεται (a form of ἔρχομαι) is present tense; appears or shows itself might be a better translation.  Though because is a possible translation of δι᾿[1] (a form of διά), through would be more common (verse 17) and more in line with Paul’s teaching in the opening of Romans, the wrath of Godrevealed from heaven.  So I would translate it, “through these (e.g., sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry) the wrath of God appears” or “shows itself.”  In other words, these are the evidence or symptoms of the depraved, unapproved, reprobate or debased mind to which God gave those over who did not like to retain God in their knowledge.[2]

God’s wrath was to give them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.[3]  Paul enumerated what should not be done for believers in Rome (Romans 1:29-32 NET):

They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice.  They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility.  They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless.  Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

A young mother put it this way on Facebook:

Parent shaming.  Judging.  Close mindedness.  Mass murders.  Hate on Nationalities.  Hate on skin colors.  Hate on LGBT’s.  Hate on parenting.  Hate.  I can honestly say I’m worried to bring my children up in the type of society we’ve become.  What will it take to change?  Will it get better before it gets worse?  I have to believe there’s more love in this world than hate.  Incredibly saddening that my happy, loving boys will one day learn the world is so ugly and destructive.

Even if sons of disobedience wasn’t original I don’t see why ἐν οἷς or ἐν τούτοις are “too hard” of a reading.  Paul’s contrast was to the lives the Colossians lived before they died and [their] life [was] hidden with Christ in God, not to some mysterious others called the sons of disobedience.  Even Ephesians reads διὰ ταῦτα γὰρ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας (for because of these things God’s wrath comes on the sons of disobedience[4]).  But again διὰ could be through, ταῦτα refers back to the person who is immoral, impure, or greedy[5] (probably immorality, impurity or greed) and ἔρχεται is present tense, appears or shows itself.

So I would understand it more like, “For through these [immoral, impure or greedy persons, or immorality, impurity or greed] the wrath of God shows itself upon the sons of disobedience.”  The sons of disobedience are no longer a mystery.  The Greek word translated disobedience is ἀπειθείας (a form of ἀπείθεια).  God has consigned all people to disobedience (ἀπείθειαν, another form of ἀπείθεια) so that he may show mercy to them all.  The sons of disobedience are old humans, they have not been born from above: Therefore do not be partakers with them, for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of the light[6]  Paul made this same contrast between the old human (παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον) and the new (νέον, a form of νέος) for the Colossians (3:7-11 NET):

You also lived your lives in this way at one time, when you used to live among them (ἐν τούτοις; literally “in these”).  But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old (παλαιὸν, a form of παλαιός) man (ἄνθρωπον, a form of ἄνθρωπος) with its practices and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it.  Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.

I think the Bible has been translated by those who expect most people to spend eternity in the lake of fire.  I don’t intend to dispute that view.  On the contrary, the idea I’m experimenting with here is that all old humans are condemned to spend eternity in the lake of fire.  How many new humans spend eternity with Jesus and his Father?  That depends on God’s mercy—I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion[7]—up to and including all—For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all.[8]

I’m a long way, however, from accepting Universalism, demanding that He save all.  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,[9] was a perfect opportunity to specify few, many or all.  Neither Paul nor the Holy Spirit chose to do so.  Enter through the narrow gate, Jesus said, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult (τεθλιμμένη, a form of θλίβω) that leads to life, and there are few who find it.[10]  In the past I took this to mean that ultimately relatively few will be saved.  Now I think differently.

Since yehôvâh informed Cain, you must subdue [sin],[11] and Moses commanded Israel to choose life,[12] salvation was determined by the desire, or willingness, of human beings, whosoever will.  The result, there are few who find it, is what Jesus became human to change.  Someone asked Him directly, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”  Speaking in real time before his crucifixion and resurrection, He said, “Exert every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able (ἰσχύσουσιν, a form of ἰσχύω) to.  Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and start to knock on the door and beg him, ‘Lord, let us in!’  But he will answer you, ‘I don’t know where you come from.’” [13]  I tell you the solemn truth, Jesus also said, I am the door for the sheep.[14]  As I considered both of these together I wondered what door the head of the house gets up and shuts.

Surely, it was not Jesus but whosoever will.  The most immediate reason why the many could not enter was the shut door, but a survey of the word ἰσχύω suggests they were not good enough,[15] not strong enough,[16] not healthy enough,[17] not vigilant enough[18] and they would not endure long enough[19] in their own strength.  And so Jesus became the door.  No one can come to me, He said, unless the Father who sent me draws him[20]  And I, Jesus promised, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.[21]

I’ve written elsewhere what I think about the Greek words translated draws and draw relative to “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling.”  And I don’t think much of the old human’s free will in any sense beyond contingent choices.   I certainly don’t think it is sacrosanct to God.  It wasn’t sacrosanct when He gave old humans over in the desires of their hearts to impurity,[22] to dishonorable passions,[23] and to a depraved mind.[24]  Why should it be sacrosanct when one is born from above, not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God?[25]

Nor can I embrace patristic universalism.  I can’t believe in a purgatorial hell.  In fact, I think the Old Testament narrates how God has gone out of his way to demonstrate over and over again that the best that is ever achieved by punishment, or by the fear of punishment, is hypocrisy.  Jesus said (John 3:5-7, 10 NET):

I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’…Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand these things?

J.W. Hanson painted the early universalist church fathers as elitists in his book Universalism, the Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years (p. 56):

Some of the fathers who had achieved a faith in Universalism, were influenced by the mischievous notion that it was to be held esoterically, cherished in secret, or only communicated to the chosen few,–withheld from the multitude, who would not appreciate it, and even that the opposite error would, with some sinners, be more beneficial than the truth….Origen said that “all that might be said on this theme is not expedient to explain now, or to all.  For the mass need no further teaching on account of those who hardly through the fear of aeonian punishment restrain their recklessness.”

I’m not oblivious to Origen’s concern, though it seems to me that someone who would return to sin because God is merciful really hasn’t finished with sin yet.  And I consider myself the rankest of the rank and file.  On the other hand Mr. Hanson characterized many of the patristic fathers as liars whenever they taught endless punishment (p. 59):

There can be no doubt that many of the fathers threatened severer penalties than they believed would be visited on sinners, impelled to utter them because they considered them to be more salutary with the masses than the truth itself. So that we may believe that some of the patristic writers who seem to teach endless punishment did not believe it. Others, we know, who accepted universal restoration employed, for the sake of deterring sinners, threats that are inconsistent, literally interpreted, with that doctrine.

I began this second round considering condemnation or judgment after I read John F. Walvoord’s commentary on Revelation 20 online (Revelation 20:11, 12 NET).

Then I saw a large white throne and the one who was seated on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne.  Then books were opened, and another book was opened – the book of life.  So the dead were judged (ἐκρίθησαν, a form of κρίνω) by what was written in the books, according to their deeds.

I’m not aware of ἐκρίθησαν translated condemned in any English Bible, but that is what Mr. Walvoord took it to mean: “Their standing posture means that they are now about to be sentenced.”  John’s vision continued (Revelation 20:13-15 NET):

The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each one was judged (ἐκρίθησαν, a form of κρίνω) according to his deeds.  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death – the lake of fire.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire.

Mr. Walvoord wrote, “The summary judgment is pronounced in verse 14 that ‘death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.’  In a word, this means that all who died physically and were in Hades, the intermediate state, are here found unworthy and cast into the lake of fire.”

I was shocked that the doctrine I’ve heard my whole life was based on a rationalist assumption that death and hell, or Death and Hades, were not entities that might be thrown into the lake of fire but merely euphemisms for “all who died physically and were in Hades.”  And this in an essay where literal was used 35 times, literally 12 times and literalness twice, mostly relative to the thousand years, but it was a consistent theme of Mr. Walvoord’s argument.  He wrote for example:

[Barnes] further holds that Revelation 20 should not be taken literally, and interposes the words “as if” before the judgment and resurrection of 20:4 as well as with the binding of Satan. This would seem to be adding to the book, so strongly forbidden in 22:18.

But Mr. Walvoord’s understanding of Revelation 20:13-15 presents us with the following rewrite:

Revelation 20:14, 15 NET

Revelation 20:14, 15 John F. Walvoord

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death – the lake of fire.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire. Then the dead that were in Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death – the lake of fire.  No one’s name was found written in the book of life, so they were all thrown into the lake of fire.

Mr Walvoord concluded, without a Scripture quotation or any fear of contradiction:

If the point of view be adopted that the book of life was originally the book of all living from which have been expunged the names of those who departed from life on earth without salvation, it presents a sad picture of a blank space where their names could have been written for all eternity as the objects of divine grace. Though they are judged by their works, it is evident that their destiny is determined primarily by their lack of spiritual life. When the fact is contemplated that Jesus Christ in His death reconciled the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19) and that He died for the reprobate as well as for the elect, it is all the more poignant that these now raised from the dead are cast into the lake of fire. Their ultimate destiny of eternal punishment is not, in the last analysis, because God wished it but because they would not come to God for the grace which He freely offered.

What about the dead in the sea?  I think we can accept that the sea is not an entity that might be thrown into the lake of fire.  I would assume that the names of some, up to and including all, were written in the book of life.  Mr. Walvoord changed the subject:

A special problem is introduced by the resurrection of those who were cast into the sea with the presumption that their bodies have disintegrated and have been scattered over a wide area geographically. The special mention of the sea is occasioned by the fact that resurrection usually implies resurrection from the grave. The resurrection of the dead from the sea merely reaffirms that all the dead will be raised regardless of the condition of their bodies.

I would assume though Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire, the names of some of their dead, up to and including all, were written in the book of life.  The idea I’m experimenting with is that the new humans born of God are spared while the old humans, in a one for one correspondence, are judged according to their deeds and thrown into the lake of fire.  And this, because the names in the book of life are not written there by some who came “to God for the grace which He freely offered” but by the mercy of God (Romans 9:15, 16 NET):

I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.  So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion [e.g., “whosoever will”], but on God who shows mercy.

Back to Romans, Part 54

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

[1] Enter through (διὰ) the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through (δι᾿, another form of διὰ) it (Matthew 7:13 NET).

[2] Romans 1:28 (NKJV)

[3] Romans 1:28b (NET)

[4] Ephesians 5:6b (NET)

[5] Ephesians 5:5b (NET)

[6] Ephesians 5:7, 8 (NET)

[7] Romans 9:15 (NET)

[8] Romans 11:32 (NET)

[9] 1 Timothy 1:15b (NET)

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

[11] Genesis 4:7b (NET)

[12] Deuteronomy 30:19 (NET)

[13] Luke 13:23-25 (NET)

[14] John 10:7 (NET)

[15] It is no longer good (ἰσχύει, another form of ἰσχύω) for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people (Matthew 5:13b NET).

[16] No one was strong enough (ἴσχυεν, another form of ἰσχύω) to subdue him (Mark 5:4b NET).

[17] Those who are healthy (ἰσχύοντες, another form of ἰσχύω) don’t need a physician… (Matthew 9:12b NET)

[18] Couldn’t (ἴσχυσας, another form of ἰσχύω) you stay awake for one hour? (Mark 14:37b NET)

[19] I am able (ἰσχύω) to do all things through the one who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 NET).

[20] John 6:44a (NET)

[21] John 12:32 (NET)

[22] Romans 1:24 (NET)

[23] Romans 1:26 (NET)

[24] Romans 1:28 (NET)

[25] John 1:13 (NET)