Hypocrisy

You shall not take (nâśâʼ, תשׁא; Septuagint: λήμψῃ, a form of λαμβάνω) the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who takes (nâśâʼ, ישׁא; Septuagint: λαμβάνοντα, another form of λαμβάνω) his name in vain.[1]

Three occurrences of forms of nâśâʼ from Genesis 1:1 – Exodus 20:5[2] were translated with forms of λαμβάνω in the Septuagint:

Genesis 21:18 (NET)

Genesis 27:3 (NET)

Genesis 31:17 (NET)

Get up!  Help (nâśâʼ, שׁאי; Septuagint: λαβὲ, another form of λαμβάνω) the boy up and hold him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation. Therefore, take (nâśâʼ, שׁא; Septuagint: λαβὲ, another form of λαμβάνω) your weapons – your quiver and your bow – and go out into the open fields and hunt down some wild game for me. So Jacob immediately put (nâśâʼ, וישׁא; Septuagint: ἔλαβεν, another form of λαμβάνω) his children and his wives on the camels.

Only one of those (Genesis 27:3) was translated take in the KJV and NET before Exodus 20:7.  There is no particular problem with this translation if I’m studying nâśâʼ.  But if I read Exodus 20:7 in English only while trying to be declared righteous by the law[3] or attempting to have my own righteousness derived from the law,[4] the temptation is great to hear it as words I might say when I stub my toe in the dark.  If I don’t say those words then I may consider myself blameless according to the law.

You shall not bear the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who bears his name in vain.

This translation might have persuaded me even in English that any and every deviation from righteousness is bearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain.  Unbelievers seem to grasp this better than those who are trying to be declared righteous by the law or attempting to have [their] own righteousness derived from the law.  But unbelievers call it hypocrisy rather than bearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain.  According to Merriam-Webster.com:

The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player”…actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing…

The Greek word took on an extended meaning to refer to any person who was wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone or something they were not.  This sense was taken into medieval French and then into English, where it showed up with its earlier spelling, ypocrite, in 13th-century religious texts to refer to someone who pretends to be morally good or pious in order to deceive others.  (Hypocrite gained its initial h– by the 16th century.)

It took a surprisingly long time for hypocrite to gain its more general meaning that we use today: “a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.”  Our first citations for this use are from the early 1700s, nearly 500 years after hypocrite first stepped onto English’s stage.  

On bibleone.net hypocrisy was distinguished from bearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain by ascribing more evil intent to hypocrisy:

The meaning of the words, “hypocrite” and “hypocrisy,” as used in the Bible by our Lord Jesus Christ (primarily directed toward the “religious” leaders of the day) implies more than a “simple pretense” or “acting out as a stage-player.”  It embodies a purposeful intent, which stems from a deep-seated core of evil.  More than this, it suggests a determined effort to enforce a standard of conduct upon others, which conduct the enforcer knowingly and deliberately refuses to apply to himself–hence, action born of full knowledge and evil intent.  It is not merely the failure to live up to a holy standard–a condition applicable to every believer on any given day.  It is the condition of a person who is controlled by the sin nature to the end-desire of having power over other human beings by imposing on them a set of rules, which he himself intentionally disregards.  It is a condition applicable to either an unbeliever or a believer, i.e., a believer who is outside God’s will and under the influence of the sin nature.

I was particularly taken by the words imposing on them a set of rules.  That is acting at its core.  Some rules are imposed by the writer through the script.  Some are imposed by the director who interprets the script and blocks the scenes.  Most are self-imposed by the actor.  Though actors call them choices,[5] they are rules of behavior, what a particular character will or will not say or do in any given scene, derived from observation, research, experimentation and a deeply imaginative identification with the character to be performed.  Actors can win some arguments with both the writer and the director (since both are more focused on the work as a whole) because good actors ultimately know the individual characters they play better, at least more interestingly.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love actors and fully appreciate what they do, especially film actors.  I’ve had more opportunity to see them work up close, no one famous though a few were recognizable.  I sit with a silly grin on my face watching Amy Adams sing and dance her way through New York City in Enchanted, and am just as rapt watching her decipher an alien language in Arrival.  A brief exchange in Arrival between linguist Louise (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian (Jeremy Renner) encapsulates how I feel about studying the Bible.

Ian: You know, I was doing some reading about this idea that if you immerse yourself into a foreign language, that you can actually rewire your brain. 

Louise: Yeah, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis…It’s the theory that the language you speak determines how you think and…

Ian: Yeah.  It affects how you see everything.

You were taught with reference to your former way of life, Paul wrote believers in Ephesus, to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.[6]  It’s not a matter of being renewed (ἀνανεοῦσθαι, a form of ἀνανεόω) by learning Greek or Hebrew, but by immersing oneself in how the Holy Spirit thinks and communicates in Greek or Hebrew.  No matter how hard Amy Adams worked to become Giselle or Louise, no matter how many choices she made, she never became a cartoon princess or a xenolinguist in reality.

Stephen J. Cole, in the “The Deadly Sin of Hypocrisy (Acts 4:36-5:11),” wrote:

While Jesus was tender with many notorious sinners, He used scathing language to denounce those guilty of religious hypocrisy.

The story of Ananias and Sapphira warns us of the danger of the sin of hypocrisy.

None of the Greek words for hypocrite or hypocrisyὑποκριτής, ὑπόκρισις, ὑποκρίνομαι—occur in, or anywhere near, the story of Ananias and Sapphira.  I assume Pastor Cole took an 18th-century definition of hypocrisy—not living up to professed beliefs—or a 13th-century understanding of ypocrite—deliberate deception—and applied it to the story of Ananias and Sapphira.  Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie (ψεύσασθαι, a form of ψεύδομαι) to the Holy Spirit…”[7]  If we think of hypocrisy as something so evil no believer would dare do it, we miss Jesus’ point about doing righteousness as actors play a role, because we do it all of the time.  It’s how we think.  It’s how we speak to one another:

A Christian wouldn’t do that!   A Christian shouldn’t do that!  Christians should do thus and such.  A real Christian would do this or that!

These are the arguments of actors: observing, researching, experimenting, engaging in deeply imaginative thought about what a Christian might be like and trying to perform that as a series of choices—that is, by obeying rules about how a Christian should or should not behave.  It is significantly different from being born from above, possessed (Romans 8:12-17) by his Holy Spirit, filled with God’s own love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.[8]

The simplest reason why ὑποκριτής was translated hypocrite in the 16th century is that the Latin derived actor was understood as an agent or doer and may have confused the reader regarding the contrast Paul had created—building on Jesus’ allusion to the Greek theater—between ὑποκριτής and ποιητής, the doers (ποιηταὶ, a form of ποιητής) of the law.

I’ve wasted too much time assuming Jesus was an angry preacher spouting pejoratives rather than patiently communicating the words of eternal life.  So I’ll take forms of ὑποκριτής at face value and remove the exclamation points from the text.  (They are obvious editorial comments added by translators.)  And then hopefully see Jesus again, see the smile on his face and the twinkle of his eyes as He reveals the name of his Father, God is love.

Be on your guard against the teaching (Matthew 16:5-12) of the Pharisees, Jesus told his disciples, which is acting class (ὑπόκρισις).[9]  Actors observe and judge others.  It is part and parcel of their craft as they prepare a role (Matthew 7:1-5 NET):

Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.  Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own?  You actor (ὑποκριτά, a form of ὑποκριτής), first remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Self promotion is part of the job of being a working actor (Matthew 6:1-4 NET):

Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people.  Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven.  Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the actors (ὑποκριταὶ, another form of ὑποκριτής) do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them.  I tell you the truth, they have their reward.  But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift may be in secret.  And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Actors crave an audience and thrive in the limelight (Matthew 6:5, 6, 16-18 NET):

Whenever you pray, do not be like the actors (ὑποκριταί, another form of ὑποκριτής), because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them.  Truly I say to you, they have their reward.  But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.  And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

When you fast, do not look sullen like the actors (ὑποκριταὶ, another form of ὑποκριτής), for they make their faces unattractive so that people will see them fasting.  I tell you the truth, they have their reward.  When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Actors never actually become the character they perform by acting (Matthew 15:1-9; Luke 13:14-16 NET):

Then Pharisees and experts in the law came from Jerusalem to Jesus and said, “Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders?  For they don’t wash their hands when they eat.”  He answered them, “And why do you disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition?  For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Whoever insults his father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say, ‘If someone tells his father or mother, “Whatever help you would have received from me is given to God,” he does not need to honor his father.’  You have nullified the word of God on account of your tradition.  Actors (ὑποκριταί, another form of ὑποκριτής), Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

But the president of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the crowd, “There are six days on which work should be done!  So come and be healed on those days, and not on the Sabbath day.”  Then the Lord answered him, “You actors (ὑποκριταί, another form of ὑποκριτής), does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from its stall, and lead it to water?  Then shouldn’t this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be released from this imprisonment on the Sabbath day?”

Since those attempting to serve God by acting are not led by his Holy Spirit, they do not share the mind of Christ but pursue their own agendas (Matthew 22:15-22; Luke 12:54-56 NET):

Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words.  They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  You do not court anyone’s favor because you show no partiality.  Tell us then, what do you think?  Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, “Actors (ὑποκριταί, another form of ὑποκριτής), why are you testing me?  Show me the coin used for the tax.”  So they brought him a denarius.  Jesus said to them, “Whose image is this, and whose inscription?”  They replied, “Caesar’s.”  He said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  Now when they heard this they were stunned, and they left him and went away.

Jesus also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A rainstorm is coming,’ and it does.  And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and there is.  You actors (ὑποκριταί, another form of ὑποκριτής), you know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, but how can you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Jesus described the experts in the law and you Pharisees as actors who keep locking people out of the kingdom of heaven.  For you neither enter nor permit those trying to enter to go in.[10]  You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.[11]  You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  You should have done these things without neglecting the others.[12]   You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may become clean too.[13]  You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy (ὑποκρίσεως, a form of ὑπόκρισις) and lawlessness (ἀνομίας, a form of ἀνομία).[14]  You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.[15]

Jesus warned of the consequence of an actor masquerading as a minister of the Gospel (Matthew 24:45-51 NET):

Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes.  I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions.  But if that evil slave should say to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with drunkards, then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the actors (ὑποκριτῶν, another form of ὑποκριτής), where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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 (ἔπραξεν, a form of πράσσω) while in the body, whether good or evil.[16]  We do not want to appear before the judgment seat of Christ as actors with nothing to show but works (ἔργων, a form of ἔργον) of righteousness that we have done (ἐποιήσαμεν, a form of ποιέω).[17]  We want to have some pattern of behavior that demonstrates we have not ignored his teaching or rejected his salvation, that we have heeded his admonition—above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness[18]—and that each of us is one who practices (ποιῶν, another form of ποιέω) the truth, one who comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that [our] deeds (ἔργα, another form of ἔργον) have been done (εἰργασμένα, a form of ἐργάζομαι) in God.[19]

I want to consider another film.  Before I Fall didn’t do very well at the box office.  It’s Groundhog Day as straight-up tragedy.  But I thought it was a deeply moving, poignant film with one fatal flaw.  There are spoilers here for those who are bothered by such things.

Sam (Zoey Deutch), a self-absorbed teenage girl (Samantha), wakes up on the day of her death.  She repeats that day until she gets it right.  “For the first time, when I wake up,” her voiceover says on the last iteration of the last day of her life, “I’m not scared or confused or angry.  Because, for the first time, I truly understand what needs to happen.  I truly understand how to live this day.”  Sam’s transformation from self-absorbed teenage girl to loving daughter, sister and friend is truly breathtaking to behold.

The fatal flaw?  It’s not believable.  And I don’t think Ms. Deutch’s acting is to blame.  Christ-likeness apart from Christ isn’t credible.  Sam’s beautiful transformation is credited to her own knowledge, gained through the experience of repeating the same day over and over (not unlike an actor rehearsing), and her own “big heart.”  And none of us gets to do the same day over and over to acquire such knowledge.  Believers are called to live a new day of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control everyday forever.

Hypocrisy, by the way, isn’t the unforgivable sin.  Living an honest life of sin is never preferable to acting like the righteous.  If the fruit of the Spirit seems AWOL and the only way to obey God’s law is in one’s own strength—and that is possible—by all means do that.  Just don’t mistake that for the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.[20]  Open the Bible and search diligently for his righteousness once the immediate crisis has passed—win, lose or draw.

My own search began (for the purpose of this discussion) with the Ten Promises.  Though hearing the Ten Commandments as promises wasn’t exactly the silver bullet I hoped at the time, it did begin to change my attitude toward God and my relationship to Him.  So as a conclusion to this essay I invite the reader to hear his promise (Jeremiah 31:31-34) to all who believe, all who are led by his Spirit: You shall not bear the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who bears his name in vain.

[1] Exodus 20:7 (NET)

[2] Table 1, Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 3

[3] Galatians 5:4 (NET)

[4] Philippians 3:9 (NET)

[5] An excerpt from a video transcript of John Walcutt teaching young actors (all female apparently) follows:

…as you start to, you know, get more into grown up acting, you’re going to be expected to be able to make choices and what that means is, what we started talking about last week where you could look at material and go, “Hmm, what if I did this? What if I looked at it from this point of view? What if I decided that she is guilty? What if I decided, she’s lying?” When you make choices, your work gets interesting…
The lines are only ten percent of a scene, right? We talked about that. The other 90%  is what’s underneath, that’s where you have to make choices so here’s how I want you to think about it. Once you read through a scene and you start to get an idea of what it’s about, understand it. The first thing I want you to ask yourself is, “Who am I? Who am I in this scene? and if you just say… if you make a choice like, “Okay, I’m a girl.” Well that might be an interesting choice for me but for most of you, it’s not going to be an interesting choice. It has to be more specific. I’m a girl who has issues with her dad. I’m a girl who wants to drop out of school because I can’t stand my teachers. I’m, I’m competitive. I’m angry. I’m, I’ve low self esteem. I’m happy-go-lucky, cheerful optimist.
You make the most interesting choices you can. We call them Hot Choices so that, so that the scene starts to pop. So never say, “I’m just a girl.” Never say, “I’m just her friend.” Always make it as interesting and developed and complex as you can. So first thing you ask yourself, “Who am I?” Second thing you ask yourself, “What do I want?” What do I want in this scene, what is my objective?” And always make it about getting something from the other person, as simple as possible and it can change from line to line. Objectives change so I want to make you smile. I want to make you cry, I want to scare you, I want to wake you up, I want you to say, ”I love you.” I want you to laugh. Those are all choices and they determine how you’re going to say your lines…

As actors mature choices may become more personal or more commercial.

[6] Ephesians 4:22-24 (NET)

[7] Acts 5:3a (NET)

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

[9] Luke 12:1b (NET)

[10] Matthew 23:13 (NET)

[11] Matthew 23:15 (NET)

[12] Matthew 23:23 (NET)

[13] Matthew 23:25, 26 (NET)

[14] Matthew 23:27, 28 (NET)

[15] Matthew 23:29 (NET)

[16] 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NET)

[17] Titus 3:5a (NET)

[18] Matthew 6:33a (NET)

[19] John 3:21 (NET)

[20] Romans 3:22a (NET)

Romans, Part 72

In this essay I continue to consider Contribute (κοινωνοῦντες, a form of κοινωνέω) to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality.[1] But  I’m looking at the dark side of contributing (or, sharing in), specifically (2 John 1:9-11 NET):

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God.  The one who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house and do not give him any greeting, because the person who gives him a greeting shares (κοινωνεῖ, another form of κοινωνέω) in his evil deeds.

My religious mind hears evil deeds in English as some sin, preferably one to which it is not particularly prone—molesting young boys, for instance—and fixates on that as the meaning of evil deeds.  In Greek, however—κοινωνεῖ τοῖς ἔργοις (a form of ἔργον) αὐτοῦ τοῖς πονηροῖς (a form of πονηρός)—is just as likely to mean “shares (or, contributes to) his works full of labours, annoyances, and hardships.”  This is the more likely meaning, in fact, in reference to the New Testament ἐκκλησία.  Religious people tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them.[2]  Jesus said (Matthew 11:28-30 NET):

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (ἀναπαύσω, a form of ἀναπαύω).  Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (ἀνάπαυσιν, a form of ἀνάπαυσις) for your souls (ψυχαῖς, a form of ψυχή).  For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.

As I continue to distinguish the teaching of Christ from that of religious people I consider Love the Lord your Godwith all your soul[3] (ψυχῆς, another form of ψυχή).  After Jesus’ Father revealed (Matthew 16:16, 17 NET) to Peter that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, and after Jesus instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ[4] (Matthew 16:21-27 NET):

From that time on Jesus 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, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “God forbid, Lord!  This must not happen to you!”  But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life (ψυχὴν, another form of ψυχή) will lose it, but whoever loses his life (ψυχὴν, another form of ψυχή) for my sake will find it.  For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life (ψυχὴν, another form of ψυχή)?  Or what can a person give in exchange for his life (ψυχῆς, another form of ψυχή)?  For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

Granted, there is a lot packed into this passage.  First to love yehôvâh with all your soul (or, life), is to become a follower of Jesus, yehôvâh incarnate, made human flesh as a man.  If anyone wants to become my follower, Jesus said, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  I’ll consider deny himself as it is demonstrated here.  It was revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah.  Peter thought he knew who the Messiah was and what He had come to do.

When the Messiah said that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, Peter said, This must not happen to you.  I assume that Peter didn’t even hear the part about being raised on the third day or his response would have revealed a different confusion.  All Peter heard was that the Messiah he and his people longed for would suffer at the hands of his religious leaders and be killed.

When Jesus called Peter Satan, He did not mean that Satan is the true representative of man’s interests.  He meant that Peter’s words appealed to that fleshly part of Jesus’ own humanity as Satan had tried to do in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12, 13, Luke 4:1-13 NET).  Peter accepted Jesus’ rebuke, picked himself up and followed all the way to what he perceived was a last stand (John 11:7-16 NET; cf verse 16) in the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:10, 11, Matthew 26:51-54, Mark 14:47, Luke 22:49-51 NET), without ever fully understanding what Jesus’ meant until after the resurrection.

Like Peter, I thought I knew what Jesus’ final statement meant: For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has doneAlexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm, Paul warned Timothy.  The Lord will repay him in keeping with his deeds.  You be on guard against him too, because he vehemently opposed our words.[5]

The Lord will repay him in keeping with his deeds, is an allusion to Psalm 28:4 according to a note (19) in the NET.  A comparison of the Greek texts follows.

Paul (NET) Parallel Greek David (NETS)

Septuagint

Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm.

2 Timothy 4:14a

Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ χαλκεὺς πολλά μοι κακὰ ἐνεδείξατο

2 Timothy 4:14a

The Lord will repay him in keeping with his deeds.

2 Timothy 4:14b

ἀποδώσει αὐτῷ ὁ κύριος κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ

2 Timothy 4:14b

Give them according to their works,

Psalm 28:4a

δὸς αὐτοῖς κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν

Psalm 28:4a

  and according to the wickedness of their practices;

Psalm 28:4b

καὶ κατὰ τὴν πονηρίαν τῶν ἐπιτηδευμάτων[6] αὐτῶν

Psalm 28:4b

  according to the works of their hands give them;

Psalm 28:4c

κατὰ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν αὐτῶν δὸς αὐτοῖς

Psalm 28:4c

  render them their due reward.

Psalm 28:4d

ἀπόδος τὸ ἀνταπόδομα αὐτῶν αὐτοῖς

Psalm 28:4d

“He’s making a list / And checking it twice / Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice…He sees you when you’re sleeping / He knows when you’re awake / He knows if you’ve been bad or good / So be good for goodness sake!”[7]  No, my parents never tricked me into believing in Santa Claus.  They didn’t even trick me into believing that Jesus was born on December 25th.  Christmas was the arbitrary season the Church chose to celebrate Jesus’ birth.  I made this connection to being repaid in keeping with my deeds, thinking, I suppose, that parents made Santa Claus in Jesus’ image.  But children were never good for goodness’ sake.  They wanted presents, rewards, rather than a lump of coal.

This was essentially my understanding of good works.  They had nothing to do with salvation except that I should want to do them because Jesus did a “good work” for me, dying for my sins.  Good works were done primarily for rewards.  No one knew what these rewards might be but no one wanted to be left out when everyone else was receiving rewards for their good works.  As I got older, good works merited good things happening to or for me here and now, while bad works merited the opposite, karma, in a word.  Fear is the key motivation, whether fear of social embarrassment or literal harm.

And again Paul wrote, But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed!  He will reward each one according to his works.[8]  According to a note (16) in the NET this is a quotation from Psalm 62:12 and Proverbs 24:12.  The Greek texts are compared below.

Paul (NET) Parallel Greek David (NETS)

Septuagint

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed!

Romans 2:5

κατὰ δὲ τὴν σκληρότητα σου καὶ ἀμετανόητον καρδίαν θησαυρίζεις σεαυτῷ ὀργὴν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ὀργῆς καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως δικαιοκρισίας τοῦ θεοῦ

Romans 2:5

And to you, O Lord, belongs mercy,

Psalm 62:12a

ὅτι τὸ κράτος τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ σοί κύριε τὸ ἔλεος

Psalm 62:12a

He will reward each one according to his works:

Romans 2:6

ὃς ἀποδώσει ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ

Romans 2:6

because you will repay to each according to his works.

Psalm 62:12b

ὅτι σὺ ἀποδώσεις ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ

Psalm 62:12b

Mercy above is ἔλεος in the Septuagint.  Later in the same letter to the Romans Paul recalled the long name (Exodus 33:19 NET) of yehôvâh: I will have mercy (ἐλεήσω, a form of ἐλεέω) on whom I have mercy (ἐλεῶ, another form of ἐλεέω), and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.  So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy (ἐλεῶντος, another form of ἐλεέω).[9]  For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy (ἐλεήσῃ, another form of ἐλεέω) to them all.[10]  “Go and learn what this saying means,” Jesus said to religious people, I want mercy (ἔλεος) and not sacrifice.’  For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”[11]  And, “If you had known what this means:I want mercy (ἔλεος) and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”[12]

Paul (NET)

Parallel Greek Solomon (NETS)

Septuagint

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed!

Romans 2:5

κατὰ δὲ τὴν σκληρότητα σου καὶ ἀμετανόητον καρδίαν θησαυρίζεις σεαυτῷ ὀργὴν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ὀργῆς καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως δικαιοκρισίας τοῦ θεοῦ

Romans 2:5

If you say: “I do not know this person,” be aware that the Lord is familiar with the heart of everyone, and he who formed breath for all, he knows everything,

Proverbs 24:12a

ἐὰν δὲ εἴπῃς οὐκ οἶδα τοῦτον γίνωσκε ὅτι κύριος καρδίας πάντων γινώσκει καὶ ὁ πλάσας πνοὴν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς οἶδεν πάντα

Proverbs 24:12a

He will reward each one according to his works:

Romans 2:6

ὃς ἀποδώσει ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ

Romans 2:6

he who will render to each according to his deeds.

Proverbs 24:12b

ὃς ἀποδίδωσιν ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ

Proverbs 24:12b

Here, though the familiar fear-of-the-Lord usage is evident, Solomon’s purpose was that His son Rehoboam as a prince and eventually king of Israel would, “Rescue them who are led to death, and buy back those who are to be slaughtered; do not delay!”[13]  In each of these verses the Greek phrase translated according to his deeds (or, works) is κατὰ τὰ ἔργα (a form of ἔργον) αὐτοῦ (according to their works is κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν).  But Jesus made a minor change when speaking this way to his disciples, to those who followed Him, who loved yehôvâh with all their soul or life: ἀποδώσει ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὴν πρᾶξιν (a form of πρᾶξις) αὐτοῦ.  Jesus’ followers will be rewarded according to their practice as opposed to their works.

Do they live by the Spirit (πνεύματι περιπατεῖτε)?  Are they led by the Spirit (πνεύματι ἄγεσθε) or by the flesh?  Their works of the flesh (τὰ ἔργα τῆς σαρκός) as isolated incidents are already forgiven, condemned in the flesh.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.[14]  Of course, if they practice the works of the flesh they were never Jesus’ followers to begin with: Those who practice (πράσσοντες, a form of πράσσω) such things will not inherit the kingdom of God![15]

The hope for Jesus’ followers is the Sabbath rest…for the people of GodFor the one who enters God’s rest (κατάπαυσιν, a form of κατάπαυσις) has also rested (κατέπαυσεν, a form of καταπαύω) from his works (ἔργων, another form of ἔργον), just as God did from his own works.  Thus we must make every effort (Σπουδάσωμεν, a form of σπουδάζω) to enter that rest (κατάπαυσιν, a form of κατάπαυσις), so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience (ἀπειθείας, a form of ἀπείθεια).[16]  But the one who practices (ποιῶν, a form of ποιέω) the truth, Jesus said of his followers, comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) have been done in [or, by] God[17] (ὅτι ἐν θεῷ ἐστιν εἰργασμένα [a form of ἐργάζομαι]).

Finally, Jesus felt no need to motivate his followers with fear.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love.  We love because he loved us first.[18]  Do not leave Jerusalem, He told them after his resurrection, but wait there for what my Father promised, which you heard about from me.  For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.[19]  And the fruit of the Spirit is love (ἀγάπη), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.[20]

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets, Jesus cautioned.  I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill (πληρῶσαι, a form of πληρόω) them.[21]  Love (ἀγάπη) does no wrong to a neighbor.  Therefore love (ἀγάπη) is the fulfillment (πλήρωμα) of the law.[22]  And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me, Jesus said.  Whoever finds his life (ψυχὴν, another form of ψυχή) will lose it, and whoever loses his life (ψυχὴν, another form of ψυχή) because of me will find it.[23]

For we did not follow cleverly concocted fables when we made known to you the power and return of our Lord Jesus Christ, Peter offered, no, we were eyewitnesses of his grandeur.[24]  But in the light of these details even those who reject the Gospel as cleverly concocted fables need to pause to appreciate just how cleverly concocted the details are.  Maybe it’s not the devil in the details.

I began this essay with an oblique reference to pedophile priests.  My point is simply this: I don’t believe that Catholic priests who molested children were trusting in their deaths to sin (Romans 6:3-14 NET) through faith in Jesus’ crucifixion as they molested those children.  They weren’t believing their resurrection to new life (Romans 7:4-6 NET) through Jesus’ resurrection.  They weren’t walking or living by his Spirit (Romans 8:1-11 NET), depending on his daily infusion of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:13-6:5 NET).  I believe they relied on their own abilities as Catholic priests to live up to centuries of Catholic rules governing the behavior of Catholic priests.  That is molestation (or an eruption of any other sin) looking for a time and a place to happen, because it is the practice which plays to sin’s strength: the power of sin is the law.[25]

Romans, Part 73

[1] Romans 12:13 (NET)

[2] Matthew 23:4 (NET)

[3] Mark 12:30a (NET)

[4] Matthew 16:20 (NET)

[5] 2 Timothy 4:14, 15 (NET)

[6] http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=e)pithdeuma%2Ftwn&la=greek&prior=tw=n

[7] http://www.41051.com/xmaslyrics/santatown.html

[8] Romans 2:5, 6 (NET)

[9] Romans 9:15, 16 (NET)

[10] Romans 11:32 (NET)

[11] Matthew 9:13 (NET)

[12] Matthew 12:7 (NET)

[13] Proverbs 24:11 (NETS)

[14] Romans 7:20 (NET)

[15] Galatians 5:21b (NET)

[16] Hebrews 4:10, 11 (NET)

[17] John 3:21 (NET)

[18] 1 John 4:18, 19 (NET)

[19] Acts 1:4, 5 (NET)

[20] Galatians 5:22-24 (NET)

[21] Matthew 5:17 (NET)

[22] Romans 13:10 (NET)

[23] Matthew 10:38, 39 (NET)

[24] 2 Peter 1:16 (NET)

[25] 1 Corinthians 15:56b (NET)

Prayer

Twice in the New Testament Jesus told us what to say when we pray: So pray this way[1] (οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς; literally, “in this manner then pray you”) and When you pray, say[2] (ὅταν προσεύχησθε λέγετε).  I compared them this morning thinking about the rationale for removing For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen[3] from Matthew 6:13 in the NET and other translations.

Matthew (NET) Greek Text Luke (NET) Greek Text
When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  So pray this way:

Matthew 6:7-9a (NET)

Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί, δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται.  μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς· οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν.  οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς·

Matthew 6:7-9a

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”  So he said to them, “When you pray, say:

Luke 11:1, 2a (NET)

Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐν τόπῳ τινὶ προσευχόμενον, ὡς ἐπαύσατο, εἶπεν τις τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ πρὸς αὐτόν· κύριε, δίδαξον ἡμᾶς προσεύχεσθαι, καθὼς καὶ Ἰωάννης ἐδίδαξεν τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ.  εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς· ὅταν προσεύχησθε λέγετε·

Luke 11:1, 2a

The wording here (especially in Greek) persuaded me that I was dealing with two different instances of instruction, not just one teaching recalled two different ways.  In the sermon on the mount recorded by Matthew Jesus, unbidden, taught his listeners how to pray in distinction to how Gentiles (ἐθνικοί, a form of ἐθνικός) prayed.  On another occasion recorded by Luke a disciple asked Jesus to teach them to pray just as (καθὼς) John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray.  And I assume that means John the Baptist taught his disciples how to pray, not that Jesus’ disciple wanted to learn the words that John taught his disciples to pray from Jesus.

Matthew (NET) Greek Text Luke (NET) Greek Text
Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, may your kingdom come,

Matthew 6:9b, 10a (NET)

Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς· ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομα σου·  ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου·

Matthew 6:9b, 10a

Father, may your name be honored; may your kingdom come.

Luke 11:2b (NET)

Πάτερ, ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομα σου· ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου·

Luke 11:2b

May your name be honored;may your kingdom come (ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομα σου· ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου·)—is identical in both Gospel accounts in Greek.  The difference is Our Father in heaven (Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς) recorded by Matthew and Father (Πάτερ) recorded by Luke.  I don’t assume that Jesus told the larger congregation on the mount to pray to Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς and then turned around and informed the more intimate group of his disciples to pray each to his own biological Πάτερ.  Rather, I assume that Jesus expected the intimate group of his disciples to understand Πάτερ as Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

Matthew (NET) Greek Text Luke (NET) Greek Text
may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10b (NET)

γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημα σου,ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς·

Matthew 6:10b

Here Matthew recorded something—may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven—that Luke did not.  I don’t assume that Luke was so opposed to God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven that he discarded it from the text.  Nor do I assume that Matthew made it up.  Rather, I assume again that Jesus expected the intimate group of his disciples to understand the coming of the kingdom of God as God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew (NET) Greek Text Luke (NET) Greek Text
Give us today our daily bread,

Matthew 6:11 (NET)

τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον·

Matthew 6:11

Give us each day our daily bread,

Luke 11:3 (NET)

τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δίδου ἡμῖν τὸκαθ᾿ ἡμέραν·

Luke 11:3

Here, what is being given—τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον—is identical (“our bread sufficient for the coming” in classical Greek[4]).  I assume Jesus means the bread of life,[5] that portion of Christ who lives in me,[6] the fruit of the Spirit,[7] the credited righteousness of God,[8] sufficient as far as it depends on me to do the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven to bring forth the kingdom of God to honor his name.  And though I used myself as an example—“as far as it depends on me”—the prayer He taught us to pray is not for me alone, but for all who call or have called or will call on our Father in heaven.

The differences—δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον, and δίδου ἡμῖν τὸ καθ᾿ ἡμέραν—seem inconsequential.  The Greek words δὸς and δίδου are different forms of δίδωμι, to give.  The Greek σήμερον means today, this day; καθ᾿ (a form of κατά) is defined: “1) down from, through out 2) according to, toward, along,” and was translated each, while ἡμέραν (a form of ἡμέρα) means day.  If any difference is worth mentioning it is simply that Jesus counseled the intimate group of his disciples to expect this gift of righteousness each day, every day, all day.

Matthew (NET) Greek Text Luke (NET) Greek Text
and forgive us our debts,

Matthew 6:12a (NET)

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν,

Matthew 6:12a

and forgive us our sins,

Luke 11:4a (NET)

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν,

Luke 11:4a

In Matthew’s Gospel account Jesus spoke euphemistically of ὀφειλήματα (a form of ὀφείλημα, debts), but with the more intimate group of his disciples He said ἁμαρτίας (a form of ἁμαρτία, sins).  But after the prayer He taught in Matthew’s Gospel account, Jesus said, For if you forgive others their sins (παραπτώματα, a form of παράπτωμα), your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins (παραπτώματα).[9]  I’ve written elsewhere about the interchangeability of παράπτωμα with ἁμαρτία.  And I think this difference becomes clearer in the comparison of the next statement.

Matthew (NET) Greek Text Luke (NET) Greek Text
as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.

Matthew 6:12b (NET)

ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν·

Matthew 6:12b

for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

Luke 11:4b (NET)

καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἀφίομεν παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν·

Luke 11:4b

Here, in Mathew’s Gospel account Jesus continued with the euphemistic ὀφειλέταις (a form of ὀφειλέτης) ἡμῶν (our debtors).  Though the NET translators chose everyone who sins against us for παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν in Luke’s Gospel account, ὀφείλοντι is a form of ὀφείλω (to owe).  We don’t actually stand in relation to others like God with a law that they might sin against; “for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us” is probably a better translation.  And the more positive for we also forgive makes sense since Jesus did not go on to elaborate—For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins—when teaching the intimate group of his disciples.

Matthew (NET) Greek Text Luke (NET) Greek Text
And do not lead us into temptation,

Matthew 6:13a (NET)

καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν,

Matthew 6:13a

And do not lead us into temptation.”

Luke 11:4c (NET)

καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν.

Luke 11:4c

but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:13b (NET)

ἀλλὰ ρῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

Matthew 6:13b

Here, I don’t assume that Luke was partial to evil and rejected being delivered from it.  Neither do I assume that Mathew was so prone to evil he added it to Jesus’ teaching.  I assume again that Jesus expected the intimate group of his disciples to understand that the leading not into temptation (KJV) is deliverance from evil.  I’ve written elsewhere how I am not fond of limiting τοῦ πονηροῦ to the evil one.  In this case it is because I am so prone to evil that I long to be delivered from it in all its forms.

When I come to ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοῦς αἰῶνας ἀμήν (“because yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen”) what am I to assume?  The note in the NET reads:

Most mss (L W Θ 0233 Ë13 33 Ï sy sa Didache) read (though some with slight variation) ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν (“for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen”) here. The reading without this sentence, though, is attested by generally better witnesses (א B D Z 0170 Ë1 pc lat mae Or). The phrase was probably composed for the liturgy of the early church and most likely was based on 1 Chr 29:11-13; a scribe probably added the phrase at this point in the text for use in public scripture reading (see TCGNT 13-14). Both external and internal evidence argue for the shorter reading.

So, in other words some scribe got hyper-religious one day and decided to make Jesus’ words more holy by adding David’s words to them.  As scenarios go, it’s a possible scenario, probably worth a footnote.  But is it a good enough scenario to stand before God and say, “Oh, yeah, we threw those words right out of the Bible because of this scenario we imagined”?

Here is David’s prayer (1 Chronicles 29:10-19 NET):

David praised the Lord before the entire assembly:

“O Lord God of our father Israel, you deserve praise forevermore!  O Lord, you are great, mighty, majestic, magnificent, glorious, and sovereign over all the sky and earth!  You have dominion and exalt yourself as the ruler of all.  You are the source of wealth and honor; you rule over all.  You possess strength and might to magnify and give strength to all.  Now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your majestic name!

“But who am I and who are my people, that we should be in a position to contribute this much?  Indeed, everything comes from you, and we have simply given back to you what is yours.  For we are resident foreigners and nomads in your presence, like all our ancestors; our days are like a shadow on the earth, without security.  O Lord our God, all this wealth, which we have collected to build a temple for you to honor your holy name, comes from you; it all belongs to you.  I know, my God, that you examine thoughts and are pleased with integrity.  With pure motives I contribute all this; and now I look with joy as your people who have gathered here contribute to you.  O Lord God of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, maintain the motives of your people and keep them devoted to you.  Make my son Solomon willing to obey your commands, rules, and regulations, and to complete building the palace for which I have made preparations.”

No doubt at all that David’s prayer was in the same Spirit as Jesus’ teaching on prayer:  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  It is consistent with other teachings:  Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.[10]  “Would any one of you say to your slave who comes in from the field after plowing or shepherding sheep, ‘Come at once and sit down for a meal’?  Won’t the master instead say to him, ‘Get my dinner ready, and make yourself ready to serve me while I eat and drink.  Then you may eat and drink’?  He won’t thank the slave because he did what he was told, will he?  So you too, when you have done everything you were commanded to do, should say, ‘We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty.’”[11]

The word translated undeserving of special praise is ἀχρεῖοι (a form of ἀχρεῖος).  The note in the NET reads: “Some translations describe the slaves as ‘worthless’ (NRSV) or ‘unworthy’ (NASB, NIV) but that is not Jesus’ point. These disciples have not done anything deserving special commendation or praise (L&N 33.361), but only what would normally be expected of a slave in such a situation (thus the translation ‘we have only done what was our duty’).”  But they did translate ἀχρεῖον (another form of ἀχρεῖος) worthless in “The Parable of the Talents.”

The worthless slave was given a talent, equivalent to 6,000 denarii according to a footnote.  In Matthew 20:2 day laborers agreed to work a day in the field for a denarius.  If I assume a six day work week there are 312 working days in a year, and so 6,000 divided by 312 equals 19.23 years, almost 19 years and three months of a day laborers pay.

The worthless slave did no business with his master’s money, nor did he invest it with others who might have done so.  I was afraid, he said, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.  See, you have what is yours.[12]  So he was fired, as any of us might fire a worthless employee.  But when we have done everything [we] were commanded to do, why should we still consider ourselves worthless slaves?

I think it is because everything we have done has been done in God,[13] for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God.[14]  As David prayed, who am I and who are my people, that we should be in a position to contribute this much?  Indeed, everything comes from you, and we have simply given back to you what is yours.[15]  God has granted us our daily bread of life, because the kingdom and the power and the glory belong to Him forever.  Amen.

And I will do well to be reminded of that daily, as long as it is called today.[16]

 

[1] Matthew 6:9a (NET)

[2] Luke 11:2a (NET)

[3] Matthew 6:13b (NET)

[4] http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=epiousion&la=greek

[5] John 6:35, 48-51 (NET)

[6] Galatians 2:20 (NET)

[7] Galatians 5:16-18, 22, 23 (NET)

[8] Romans 4 (NET)

[9] Matthew 6:14, 15 (NET)

[10] Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19 (NET)

[11] Luke 17:7-10 (NET)

[12] Matthew 25:25 (NET)

[13] John 3:21 (NET)

[14] Philippians 2:13 (NET)

[15] 1 Chronicles 29:14 (NET)

[16] Hebrews 3:13 (NET)

Fear – Exodus, Part 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fear – Leviticus

Back to Torture, Part 1


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

[4] a form of φόβος

[5] a form of μέγας

[7] Mark 4:37 (NET)

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

[9] Mark 4:40 (NET)

[10] Matthew 8:26 (NET)

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

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

[15] Matthew 8:26 (NET)

[16] 2 Peter 1:3 (NET)

[17] Romans 4

[22] a form of οὗτος

[25] a form of σύ; of you

[26] Ephesians 2:8 (NET)

[30] Ephesians 2:9 (NET)

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

[32] Galatians 5:16 (NET)

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

[36] Matthew 23:13 (NET)

[38] a form of ὑπακοή

[40] a form of ἐπιταγή

[41] a form of

[42] a form of αἰώνιος, of eternal

[43] a form of θεός, of God

[45] Luke 24:49 (NET)

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

[48] John 1:45 (NET)

[49] John 1:46 (NET)

[50] John 1:49 (NET)

[53] Hebrews 12:28 (NET)

[57] Revelation 21:8 (NET)

[59] The Soul

[61] Revelation 21:7 (NET)

[62] Revelation 2:11b (NET)

[63] Revelation 3:12 (NET)

[64] a form of ἔργον

[65] a form of ἐγώ

[66] Revelation 2:26 (NET)

[68] Revelation 3:5 (NET)

[69] a form of πληρόω

[70] Revelation 3:2b (NET)

[71] Revelation 3:2a (NET)

[74] Revelation 3:3a (NET)

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

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

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

[79] http://www.ericlevy.com/lxx/?Book=Gen&Chapter=24  Point to the word with the mouse to see a popup translation; then point to “search” in the popup to see another popup with the root form of the word.

[81] Exodus 20:7 (NET)

[82] John 3:21 (NET)

[86] Revelation 21:6 (NET)

[87] Matthew 5:6 (NET)

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

[90] Matthew 6:10 (NET)

[91] Revelation 3:21 (NET)

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

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

[94] Mark 4:37a (NET)

[95] Mark 4:37b (NET)

[96] Mark 4:38 (NET)

[97] 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NET)

[98] Matthew 8:26 (NET)

[100] Mark 4:41 (NET)

[101] Psalm 107:30 (NET)

[102] Mark 4:41 (NET)

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

[104] Revelation 21:7 (NET)

[105] 1 John 5:4 (NET)

Romans, Part 26

Therefore, Paul continued, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey (ὑπακούειν, a form of ὑπακούω)[1] its desires (ἐπιθυμίαις, a form of ἐπιθυμία).[2]  This is clearly Step #2 how to experience the credited righteousness of God apart from the law,[3] namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness (πίστεως, a form of πίστις)[4] of Jesus Christ for all who believe (πιστεύοντας, a form of πιστεύω).[5]  I think the next verse amplifies how one goes about not letting sin reign in one’s mortal body, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.[6]  So I am picturing something like this:

Step #2 to experience the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.

do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires.

Romans 6:12 (NET)

By…

…not present(ing) your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness…

Romans 6:13a (NET)

…present(ing) yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.

Romans 6:13b (NET)

It sounds so simple, but there is no door marked “sin” beside a door marked “God” where I might present myself for service.  This transaction, if you will, takes place in the deepest, darkest places of an individual born from above, born of flesh and born of the Spirit,[7] moment by moment.  In fact, Paul described this individual as a house divided, For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want.[8]  So then, Paul concluded in Romans 7, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.[9]

There is a cartoon image of a human being with a little devil i on one shoulder whispering in one ear and a little angel i whispering in the other.  In the center between them am I, writ large, the Master of My Fate, choosing sin or righteousness.  With this self-image I discounted the value of Step #1—to consider (λογίζεσθε, a form of λογίζομαι)[10] [myself] dead (νεκροὺς, a form of νεκρός)[11] to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus[12]—as I magnified the importance of Step #2, not to let sin reign in [my] mortal body so that [I] obey[ed] its desires.  So I set out not to break, or to keep, the laws that define sin, and unwittingly played directly into sin’s strength: the power (δύναμις)[13] of sin is the law.[14]  Had I paid more attention to faith I might have grasped Paul’s next point sooner.  For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law (ὑπὸ[15] νόμον[16]) but under grace (ὑπὸ χάριν[17]).[18]

This personification of sin was not magical thinking on Paul’s part.  What he was writing about actually becomes clearer in Romans 7.  The sin that will not master the one who believes in Jesus is nothing other than the old man that was crucified with him so that the body (σῶμα)[19] of sin would no longer dominate us.[20]  I am not refereeing a battle of wills between a little devil i and a little angel iI am the old man of sin, or I am the new man of the Spirit.  Both are in this body (σῶμα).  Both want control.  The old man was crucified by faith in Jesus Christ.  The new man was created out of nothing through faith in Jesus Christ.  Believing in Jesus Christ is far more important than anything either I, the dead and dying old man or the initially alien new man, might do.  And I am persuaded that the illusion that I am a third something choosing between them is nothing more than the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17 NKJV).

Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

What then? Paul continued.  Shall we sin because we are not under law (ὑπὸ νόμον) but under grace (ὑπὸ χάριν)?  Absolutely not![21]  Paul’s reasoning here was a truism, a simple matter of definition.  Do you not know (οἴδατε, a form of εἴδω; i.e., know by seeing)[22] that if you present yourselves as obedient (ὑπακοήν, a form of ὑπακοή)[23] slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey (ὑπακούετε, another form of ὑπακούω), either of sin [the desire of the old man] resulting in death, or obedience (ὑπακοῆς, another form of ὑπακοή) [the desire of the new man] resulting in righteousness?[24]

I am convinced that words like obey, obedient, and obedience with their insistent emphasis on doing are part of the things of this world, the pride of life where I am the Master of My Fate, choosing to do the good or to do the evil.  In Greek the word translated obey is ὑπακούω, to hear under, in other words to trust.  The word translated obedient or obedience is ὑπακοή, attentive hearkening, in other words to believe.  These are other words, perhaps even better words, for faith and believe than πίστις and πιστεύω, for no one could mistake them for πίστεως μόνον (faith alone), or dead faith.  And again, this makes perfect sense if one is interested in experiencing the righteousness of God…revealed in the gospel from faith (πίστεως, a form of πίστις) to faith (πίστιν, another form of πίστις), just as it is written,The righteous by faith (πίστεως, a form of πίστις) will live.”[25]

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed (ὑπηκούσατε, another form of ὑπακούω) from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.[26]  So I ὑπακούω, hear under, trust, the word of God rather than becoming ὑπακοή to, hearkening attentively to, believing, the promptings and desires of the old man, the man of sin created in the image of Adam.  Of course I will do things.  But now those things, rather than being the acts of an actor, will flow naturally from who I hear under (trust, hearken attentively to, believe) through who I am (the new man born of the Spirit in the image and likeness of God) and then out into the world.

The writer of Hebrews described it this way: Consequently a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God.  For the one who enters God’s rest has also rested from his works, just as God did from his own works.[27]  Even the law comes into sharper focus: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,[28] not for a day of the week but for the remainder of a lifetime.  And Jesus’ word is fulfilled: But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.[29]  It also explains Jesus’ rather obstinate insistence on doing good on the Sabbath day, despite the bitterness and resentment it aroused: So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.[30]

The writer of Hebrews continued with the following warning (Hebrews 4:11-13 NET):

Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience [i.e., fearfully refusing to enter the promised land].  For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.  And no creature is hidden from God, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

Paul realized he had not yet explained what would be explained in the next chapter.  He recognized that his readers may misunderstand his words (Romans 6:19-23 NET).

(I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.)  For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness.  So what benefit did you then reap from those things that you are now ashamed of?  For the end of those things is death.  But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life.  For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


[2] Romans 6:12 (NET)

[3] Romans 3:21 (NET)

[5] Romans 3:22 (NET)

[6] Romans 6:13 (NET)

[8] Galatians 5:17 (NET)

[9] Romans 7:25b (NKJV)

[12] Romans 6:11 (NET)

[14] 1 Corinthians 15:56b (NET)

[18] Romans 6:14 (NET)

[20] Romans 6:6 (NET)

[21] Romans 6:15 (NET)

[24] Romans 6:16 (NET)

[25] Romans 1:17 (NET)

[26] Romans 6:17, 18 (NET)

[27] Hebrews 4:9-10 (NET)

[28] Exodus 20:8 (NKJV)

[29] John 3:21 (NET)

[30] Matthew 12:12b (NET)