Romans, Part 88

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV


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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV


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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV


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


Form of πείθω Reference KJV


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

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

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

Form of πείθω

Reference KJV


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


[1] Romans 15:22 (NET)

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

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

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

[5] Jeremiah 31:34b (Tanakh)

[6] Luke 6:37 (NET)

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

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

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

[10] 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NET)

[11] Galatians 5:7 (NET)

[12] Matthew 27:20 (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:22 (NET)

[14] Acts 14:19 (NET)

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

[16] Acts 19:26 (NET)

[17] Acts 27:11 (NET)

[18] Acts 27:10a (NET)

[19] Acts 27:13b (NET)

[20] Galatians 5:2 (NET)

[21] Galatians 1:6 (NET)

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

Romans, Part 55

I am continuing my attempt to view—Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord[1]—as a definition of love (ἀγάπη) rather than as rules.  This particular essay is focused on the story of Jesus feeding five thousand plus people in the light of his assessment of the Jewish authorities (Ἰουδαῖοι) as an answer to how the Father seeking his own is not self-seeking.  I don’t know the official status of the “Jewish authorities.”

The  Ἰουδαῖοι (translated, Jewish leaders) sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask [John the Baptist], “Who are you?”[2]  I’ve assumed that the Ἰουδαῖοι called out the big guns (though they may have sent their servants to do their bidding).  In the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman John explained, For Jews ( Ἰουδαῖοι) use nothing in common with Samaritans.[3]  This sounds like a description of “Jewishness.”  The  Ἰουδαῖοι (translated, Jewish leaders) said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and you are not permitted to carry your mat.”[4]  The healed man didn’t immediately drop his mat, but he didn’t blow off the Ἰουδαῖοι completely either.  He felt obliged to answer their charges in some fashion, at least to turn their gaze (and wrath) toward Jesus.

I certainly think of the Jewishness of the moment as the true adversary in this story (and perhaps all of John’s gospel narrative).  I might be more accurate to call these “authorities” accepted exemplars of then current Jewishness, but I’ll probably stick with  Ἰουδαῖοι for now.

It’s getting pretty deep here.  I need to remind myself what is at stake just to follow through with this level of detail.  First is my own issue:  Rules leap off the page and dance lewdly before my eyes.  Love and grace have always been more difficult for me to see in the Bible.  I’ve already written about how 1 Corinthians served to undo almost everything I thought I had learned in Romans.  Perceiving Romans 12:9-21 as rules to be obeyed clearly began that process.

My reason these days almost shouts, “Of course these are definitions of love.  How could the one who said of God’s law— no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law[5]—turn back, institute his own rules and expect any sane person to take him seriously?”  My experience of human nature, however, argues that we perceive that fault in others of which we are most guilty.  It makes perfect sense then that one who accused others of ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness[6] would deny the efficacy of God’s law vis-a-vis righteousness only to establish his own rules of righteousness.  These arguments are mutually canceling.  I need to do the work studying the words to find the love and grace embedded in these apparent rules.

Here I want to recount what Jesus said about the  Ἰουδαῖοι of the only God-ordained religion on the planet[7]:

1) You people have never heard [the Father’s] voice nor seen his form at any time, nor do you have his word residing in you, because you do not believe the one whom he sent.[8]

2) You study the scriptures thoroughlyit is these same scriptures that testify about me, but you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.[9]

3) If you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.[10]

On point number 3 I want to clarify my own thinking.  The Bible begins: In the beginning ʼĕlôhı̂ym created the heavens and the earth.[11]  Then in chapter 2 one of the ʼĕlôhı̂ym is specified: This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created – when the yehôvâh ʼĕlôhı̂ym made the earth and heavens.[12]  From this point on the Bible becomes his story.  If you believe (as I did) that yehôvâh ʼĕlôhı̂ym corresponds to the Father in the New Testament, Eric Chabot has an article online detailing the few times Moses wrote about Jesus.

These days I am thinking that yehôvâh ʼĕlôhı̂ym corresponds to the Son in the New Testament.  I think that was Jesus’ point when He said, I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I am![13]  God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym) said to Moses, “I am (hâyâh) that I am.”  And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I am (hâyâh) has sent me to you.’”  God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym) also said to Moses, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘The Lord (yehôvâh)– the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym) of your fathers, the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym) of Abraham, the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym) of Isaac, and the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym) of Jacob – has sent me to you.  This is my name forever, and this is my memorial from generation to generation.’”[14]

I think this was John’s point when he penned: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God.  The Word was with God in the beginning.  All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.[15]  Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us.  We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.[16]

And I think this was Paul’s point when he prophesied of Jesus: who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature.  He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!  As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.[17]

What this means to me here is that I take Eric Chabot’s list and add virtually everything else Moses wrote to it.  In this light I’ll continue to look into the feeding of the five thousand men plus women and children.

Jesus and his disciples left by boat for an isolated place outside of BethsaidaBut when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns, and arrived there ahead of them.  John added the reason they followed Him: they were observing (ἐθεώρουν, a form of θεωρέω) the miraculous signs (σημεῖα, a form of σημεῖον) he was performing on the sick.

Matthew Mark Luke


Now when Jesus heard this he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place.

Matthew 14:13a (NET)

Then the apostles gathered around Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught.  He said to them, “Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while” (for many were coming and going, and there was no time to eat).  So they went away by themselves in a boat to some remote place.

Mark 6:30-32 (NET)

When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done.  Then he took them with him and they withdrew privately to a town called Bethsaida.

Luke 9:10 (NET)

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberias).

John 6:1 (NET)

But when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns.

 Matthew 14:13b (NET)

But many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they hurried on foot from all the towns and arrived there ahead of them.

Mark 6:33 (NET)

But when the crowds found out, they followed him.

Luke 9:11a (NET)

A large crowd was following him because they were observing the miraculous signs he was performing on the sick.

John 6:2 (NET)

Though Jesus had gone away with his disciples for rest and perhaps an opportunity to grieve,[18] when He got out of the boat he saw the large crowd, and he had compassion on themHe welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who needed healing.  He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd (ποιμένα, a form of ποιμήν).




As he got out he saw the large crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 14:14 (NET)

As Jesus came ashore he saw the large crowd and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So he taught them many things.

Mark 6:34 (NET)

He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who needed healing.

Luke 9:11b (NET)

The people had many  Ἰουδαῖοι who did not have God’s word residing in them,  though the  Ἰουδαῖοι studied the Old Testament scriptures thoroughly, because they thought in them they possessed eternal life.  The  Ἰουδαῖοι functioned as thought police not as shepherds of the people.  Thought police exert their influence from the outside.  Shepherds feed the sheep.

I didn’t always recognize this distinction.  I remembered that the good shepherd breaks the legs of lambs that wander away from the flock.  I had to decide whether I would believe the shepherd lore I was taught as a child or the Word of God, as shepherds must decide whether they will feed the lambs shepherd lore or the Word of God (John 21:15-17 NET).

Then when they had finished breakfast [that Jesus had prepared for them], Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love (ἀγαπᾷς, a form of ἀγαπάω) me more than these do?”  He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love (φιλῶ, a form of φιλέω) you.”  Jesus told him, “Feed (βόσκε, a form of βόσκω) my lambs.”  Jesus said a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (ἀγαπᾷς, a form of ἀγαπάω) me?”  He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love (φιλῶ, a form of φιλέω) you.”  Jesus told him, “Shepherd (ποίμαινε, a form of ποιμαίνω) my sheep.”  Jesus said a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (φιλεῖς, another form of φιλέω) me?”  Peter was distressed that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love (φιλεῖς, another form of φιλέω) me?” and said, “Lord, you know everything.  You know that I love (φιλῶ, a form of φιλέω) you.”  Jesus replied, “Feed (βόσκε, a form of βόσκω) my sheep.

The Word of God does its work from the inside, unleashing the power of God (Hebrews 13:20, 21 NET):

Now may the God of peace who by the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead the great shepherd (ποιμένα, a form of ποιμήν) of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, equip (καταρτίσαι, a form of καταρτίζω) you with every good thing (ἀγαθῷ, a form of ἀγαθός) to do (ποιῆσαι, a form of ποιέω) his will, working (ποιῶν, another form of ποιέω; in other words doing) in us what is pleasing before him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever.  Amen.

And, of course, every shepherd must decide for himself whether he trusts God’s power enough to forego leg-breaking and thought police (Hebrews 13:20, 21 CEV).

God gives peace, and he raised our Lord Jesus Christ from death.  Now Jesus is like a Great Shepherd whose blood was used to make God’s eternal agreement with his flock.  I pray that God will make you ready to obey him and that you will always be eager to do right.  May Jesus help you do what pleases God.  To Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever!  Amen.

Here, I think, is a prime example of Bible translation as interpretation tailored to fit a lesser[19] confidence in God’s power.  My obedience is the real key.  And I think it entirely fair to ask why Jesus, who only mayhelp, should rob me of my glory for my obedience.  This is the second-chance-gospel I grew up believing, a second chance to keep the law.  It is not God Himself doing in us what is pleasing before Him.

When evening arrived, [Jesus’] disciples came to him saying, “This is an isolated place and the hour is already late.  Send the crowds away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”  But he replied, “They don’t need to go.  You give them something to eat.”  On this Matthew, Mark and Luke agree.

Matthew Mark


When evening arrived, his disciples came to him saying, “This is an isolated place and the hour is already late.  Send the crowds away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”  But he replied, “They don’t need to go.  You give them something to eat.”

Matthew 14:15, 16 (NET)

When it was already late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place and it is already very late.  Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.”  But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.”

Mark 6:35-37a (NET)

Now the day began to draw to a close, so the twelve came and said to Jesus, “Send the crowd away, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and food, because we are in an isolated place.”  But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.”

Luke 9:12, 13a (NET)

It left me with the impression that after Jesus spent a long day doing the will of the one who sent[20] Him, having food to eat that they knew nothing about,[21] it fell to his disciples to consider the practical matter of feeding so many hungry people.  But as I turn to John’s Gospel narrative I think this is precisely the false impression he wrote to correct.

John didn’t reiterate that Jesus healed the sick or taught the people many things about the kingdom of God.  That had been written already.  He wrote that Jesus went on up the mountainside and sat down there with his disciples.[22]  Then Jesus, when he looked up and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread so that these people may eat?”  (Now Jesus said this to test him, for he knew what he was going to do.)[23]

Jesus was concerned about feeding the people from the very moment he saw them following him because they were observing the miraculous signs he was performing on the sick.  It is exactly what He had promised them in the name of his Father (Matthew 6:25-33 NET):

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.  Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing?  Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Aren’t you more valuable than they are?  And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?  Why do you worry about clothing?  Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these!  And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith (ὀλιγόπιστοι, a form of ὀλιγόπιστος)?  So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’  For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

I’ll take this up again in the next essay.

Jesus the Leg-breaker, Part 1

Romans, Part 56

Back to Romans, Part 57

Back to Romans, Part 58

Back to Romans, Part 60

Back to Romans, Part 70

Back to Romans, Part 73

Back to Romans, Part 78

Back to Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited – Part 1

Back to Romans, Part 85

Back to To Make Holy, Part 2

Back to Who Am I? Part 7

Back to Romans, Part 88

[1] Romans 12:11 (NET)

[2] John 1:19 (NET)

[3] John 4:9b (NET)

[4] John 5:10  (NET)

[5] Romans 3:20a (NET)

[6] Romans 10:3a (NET)

[7] I am beginning to think that might be overstated.  Don Richardson, for instance, might argue that with me.  I would listen to him, but for now I will stick with this understanding of the Old Testament.

[8] John 5:37b, 38 (NET)

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

[10] John 5:46 (NET)

[11] Genesis 1:1 (NET)

[12] Genesis 2:4 (NET)

[13] John 8:58 (NET)

[14] Exodus 3:14, 15 (NET)

[15] John 1:1-3 (NET)

[16] John 1:14 (NET)

[17] Philippians 2:6-11 (NET)

[18] John 14:10-13 (NET)

[19] 2 Timothy 3:5 (NET)

[20] John 4:34 (NET)

[21] John 4:32 (NET)

[22] John 6:3 (NET)

[23] John 6:5, 6 (NET)