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)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 4

Here are two different descriptions Paul wrote of himself, separated by an affliction.

Before the Affliction

The Affliction

After the Affliction

“All things are lawful for me” – but I will not be controlled by anything.

1 Corinthians 6:12b (NET)

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living.  Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from so great a risk of death, and he will deliver us.

2 Corinthians 1:8-10a (NET)

For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin.  For I don’t understand what I am doing.  For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate.  But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good.  But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me.  For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.

Romans 7:14-20 (NET)

I’ve listed these passages as “Before…” and “After the Affliction” because Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.[1]  I actually think that all of 1 Corinthians may have been written from somewhere deep within that affliction.  Paul’s pride—I will not be controlled by anything—was relative—I amsold into slavery to sin.  I don’t believe it was pride in his own strength.  The sense of invincibility that comes with the Holy Spirit’s ἐγκράτεια is all too familiar (and I don’t do miracles or see visions or write Scripture).  The Greek word translated controlled is ἐξουσιασθήσομαι (a form of ἐξουσιάζω).  When Jesus’ disciples debated which of them was to be regarded as the greatest[2] (μείζων, a form of μέγας), He said (Luke 22:25-27 NET):

The kings of the Gentiles lord it over (κυριεύουσιν, a form of κυριεύω) them, and those in authority over (ἐξουσιάζοντες, another form of ἐξουσιάζω) them are called ‘benefactors.’  Not so with you; instead the one who is greatest (μείζων, a form of μέγας) among you must become like the youngest, and the leader (ἡγούμενος, a form of ἡγέομαι) like the one who serves (διακονῶν, a form of διακονέω).  For who is greater (μείζων, a form of μέγας), the one who is seated at the table, or the one who serves (διακονῶν, a form of διακονέω)?  Is it not the one who is seated at the table?  But I am among you as one who serves (διακονῶν, a form of διακονέω).

The other occurrences of forms of ἐξουσιάζω refer to control over a husband’s or wife’s body because of πορνείας (a form of πορνεία) in Corinth.  It is not the wife who has the rights (ἐξουσιάζει, another form of ἐξουσιάζω) to her own body, but the husband.  In the same way, it is not the husband who has the rights (ἐξουσιάζει, another form of ἐξουσιάζω) to his own body, but the wife.[3]  The NKJV reads: The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.  And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.[4]  The negation οὐκ ἐξουσιάζει is absolute.  I don’t believe such slavery is to be exercised apart from mutual consent on a moment by moment basis.  To force my wife to have sex with me by the strength of my arm or a “law of Paul” is not love.

The Greek word translated sold into slavery is πεπραμένος (a form of πιπράσκω).  Because he was not able to repay it, Jesus told a parable about the kingdom of heaven, the lord ordered him to be sold (πραθῆναι, another form of πιπράσκω), along with his wife, children, and whatever he possessed, and repayment to be made.[5]  The slave (δοῦλος) asked his lord for mercy.  The lord had compassion on that slave (δούλου, another form of δοῦλος) and released him, and forgave him the debt[6] until that slave would not forgive a fellow slave.

I’ve referred to Romans 7 often (in Romans, Part 28 most fully) as a description of a “house divided, one born of the flesh and of the Spirit”: 1) our old man (παλαιὸς ἡμῶν ἄνθρωπος; literally, “our old human”) was crucified with [Jesus] so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved (δουλεύειν, a form of δουλεύω) to sin;[7] and 2) the new man (τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον; literally, “the new human”) who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.[8]  The one thing I would correct here is: “I believe, however, that through faith I, the new man or woman, lay claim to more and more of my mind and my members.”

I want to correct what I was apparently thinking more than what I actually wrote.  I assumed without grounds that the maturity of the new human through faith led to more independence.  I’ve tripped over this assumption often without ever acknowledging it.  The sentence of death has been passed against us who believe: Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.[9]  Identifying with the new me cannot mean simply transferring allegiance from the old me to the new me who has been created in God’s image.

The new me is spirit, born of the Spirit; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  Maturity of the new human leads to more and more dependence upon his Holy Spirit.  As 1 Corinthians 13 is a practical description of love, Romans 7:14-20 is a practical description of humbling oneself before God because it accurately describes the human condition vis-à-vis God the Father.  We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, Paul wrote believers in Corinth, and we take every thought captive to make it obey (ὑπακοὴν, a form of ὑπακοή) Christ.[10]

The verb obey would have been a form of ὑπακούω, “to hear under (as a subordinate), that is, to listen attentively.”  The clause καὶ αἰχμαλωτίζοντες πᾶν νόημα εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ reads “and we lead away captive each thought into the attentive hearkening of Christ.”  I’m not even depending on my attentive hearkening or obedience as a new human, but on Christ’s attentive hearkening or obedience through his Spirit, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father.  With this in mind I’ll continue to look at “Paul’s Regime” and “Jesus’ Regime.”

Paul’s Regime

Jesus’ Regime

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.  In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler.  Do not even eat with such a person.  For what do I have to do with judging those outside?  Are you not to judge those inside?  But God will judge those outside.  Remove the evil person from among you.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (NET)

And to the one who conquers and who continues in my deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations – he will rule them with an iron rod and like clay jars he will break them to pieces, just as I have received the right to rule from my Father – and I will give him the morning star.  The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Revelation 2:26-29 (NET)


Here Paul gave a fragment of the letter that preceded 1 Corinthians: [Do] notassociate with sexually immoral people (πόρνοις, a form of πόρνος).  He didn’t mean the πόρνοις of this world, but didn’t make that clear apparently.  In other words, what was written in the prior letter was the teaching (yeast, Matthew 16:5-12) of the Pharisees: Now when the Pharisee who had invited [Jesus] saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”[11]  Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear [Jesus].  But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”[12]

The teaching of the Pharisees also helps explain why Paul used ζύμη in such a peculiar way, the yeast (ζύμῃ) of vice and evil.  For Jesus, The kingdom of heaven is like yeast (ζύμῃ), and, the kingdom of Godis like yeast (ζύμῃ).  He warned his disciples, Be on your guard against the [teaching] (ζύμης, another form of ζύμη) of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (ὑπόκρισις).[13]

Israel was instructed to eat the Passover dressed to travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.  You are to eat it in haste.[14]  The meaning of unleavened bread, bread without yeast, in the Passover meal was that the swiftness of Israel’s liberation from Egyptian captivity would not allow time for their bread to rise.  It is stated clearly in Exodus 12:33, 34 (NET):

The Egyptians were urging the people on, in order to send them out of the land quickly, for they were saying, “We are all dead!”  So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, with their kneading troughs bound up in their clothing on their shoulders.

While it is understandable that after centuries of eating unleavened bread at a holy festival, “In later times, ‘leaven’ and ‘corruption’ were regarded as synonymous terms,”[15] it is also fairly clearly the thought of religious minds.  It was not ignorance: “During the festival of Maẓẓot [Passover] it was strictly forbidden to eat anything leavened…The reason for this prohibition is given in Ex. xii. 34-39…”[16]  It was an active preference for the teaching of revered religious leaders or other human authorities, the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herod.

To believers in Galatia Paul wrote about the teaching of the one who is confusing (ταράσσων, a form of ταράσσω) you,[17] that Gentile believers in Galatia should be circumcised, and called it ζύμη: A little yeast (ζύμη) makes the whole batch of dough rise![18]  Though he was confident in the Lord the Galatians would reject that teaching in favor of his own, the former Pharisee did not yet call his ζύμη.

But now I am writing to you, Paul continued to believers in Corinth, not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian (ἀδελφὸς) who is sexually immoral (πόρνος), or greedy, or an idolater (εἰδωλολάτρης), or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler.  Do not even eat with such a person.[19]  The Greek word translated to associate with is συναναμίγνυσθαι (a form of συναναμίγνυμι).  The same word was translated do [not] associate closely in a letter to believers in Thessalonica: But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely (συναναμίγνυσθαι, a form of συναναμίγνυμι) with him, so that he may be ashamed.  Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother (ἀδελφόν, another form of ἀδελφός).[20]  Paul used μὴ the qualified negation in both instances.

The former sounds like excommunication while the latter sounds like some kind of in-house suspension.  But I can’t blame the translators.  To the Corinthians Paul wrote, Remove the evil person from among you.[21]  To the Thessalonians he wrote, do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.  To the Corinthians he wrote of πόρνος and εἰδωλολάτρης.  Jesus had John write to the angel of the church in Thyatira about a woman who by her teaching deceives my servants (δούλους, another form of δοῦλος) to commit sexual immorality (πορνεῦσαι, a form of πορνεύω) and to eat food sacrificed to idols (εἰδωλόθυτα, a form of εἰδωλόθυτον).[22]  I am throwingthose who commit adultery (μοιχεύοντας, a form of μοιχεύω) with her into terrible suffering, unless they repent of her deeds.  Furthermore, I will strike her followers (τέκνα, a form of τέκνον; literally, children) with a deadly disease (θανάτῳ, a form of θάνατος; literally, death)…[23]

Jesus’ distinction between his deceived servantsterrible suffering (θλῖψιν μεγάλην)—and Jezebel’s followersdeadly disease (θανάτῳ, death)—was part of what caught my attention and encouraged me to compare and contrast Jesus’ and Paul’s regimes.  Who but Jesus could make this judgment?  Outwardly both groups were committing adultery with (μετ᾿, a form of μετά) her, possibly but not necessarily as her partner, inspired by her teaching, probably within a group she led.  What I didn’t fully appreciate until doing this study was how fluid and continuous these groups were over time.  Individuals in either group may have repented and Jesus’ deceived servants may have continued in Jezebel’s teaching and become her followers.  Paul’s fear that false teaching might also function as yeast is not completely unfounded.  The human preference for human teachers as opposed to being led (John 16:12-16) by the Holy Spirit is not something I can wish away.

I’ll pick this up in another essay.

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 5

Back to Sexual Immorality Revisited, Part 3

Back to My Deeds, Part 1

Back to Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 3

[1] Proverbs 16:18 (NET)

[2] Luke 22:24b (NET)

[3] 1 Corinthians 7:4 (NET)

[4] 1 Corinthians 7:4 (NKJV)

[5] Matthew 18:25 (NET)

[6] Matthew 18:27 (NET)

[7] Romans 6:6 (NET)

[8] Ephesians 4:24 (NET)

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

[10] 2 Corinthians 10:4b, 5 (NET)  Both noun and verb are found in Romans 6:16 – ὑπακοήν and ὑπακοῆς (forms of ὑπακοή), ὑπακούετε (a form of ὑπακούω). Also Hebrews 5:8, 9 – ὑπακοήν (a form of ὑπακοή), ὑπακούουσιν (a form of ὑπακούω).

[11] Luke 7:39 (NET)

[12] Luke 15:1, 2 (NET)

[13] Luke 12:1 (NET)  The actual word order is: “the yeast which is hypocrisy of the Pharisees.”  The argument could be made that yeast means hypocrisy in this case.  I’m sticking with teaching on the assumption that Jesus would have said simply hypocrisy if that’s all He meant to say.

[14] Exodus 12:11 (NET)

[15] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9694-leaven

[16] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9694-leaven

[17] Galatians 5:10b (NET)

[18] Galatians 5:9 (NET)

[19] 1 Corinthians 5:11 (NET)

[20] 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15 (NET)

[21] 1 Corinthians 5:13b (NET)

[22] Revelation 2:20 (NET)

[23] Revelation 2:22, 23a (NET)