Who Am I? Part 6

I wrote:

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

And:

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

And:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Mark Luke

John

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

John 19:1-3

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

John 19:4

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

Mark 15:8

So after they had assembled, Pilate said to them…

Matthew 27:17a

So Pilate asked them…

Mark 15:9a

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

Matthew 27:17b

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

Mark 15:9b

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

Matthew 27:18

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

Mark 15:10

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

Matthew 27:19

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

Matthew 27:20a

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

Mark 15:11

…and to have Jesus killed.

Matthew 27:20b

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

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

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

John 19:5-8

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

Luke 23:18, 19

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

John 19:9-12a

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

Luke 23:20

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

Matthew 27:21

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

Matthew 27:22-23a

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

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

Mark 15:12-14a

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

John 19:12b-14

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

Luke 23:21, 22

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

John 19:15

But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”

Matthew 27:23b

But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”

Mark 15:14b

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

Luke 23:23a

And their shouts prevailed.

Luke 23:23b

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

Matthew 27:24, 25

So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted.

Luke 23:24

Because he wanted to satisfy the crowd…

Mark 15:15a

Then he released Barabbas for them.

Matthew 27:26a

…Pilate released Barabbas for them.

Mark 15:15b

 

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

Luke 23:25a

But after he had Jesus flogged…

Matthew 27:26b

Then, after he had Jesus flogged…

Mark 15:15c

…he handed him over to be crucified.

Matthew 27:26c

…he handed him over to be crucified.

Mark 15:15d

But he handed Jesus over to their will.

Luke 23:25b

Then Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

John 19:16a

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

Matthew 27:27-29

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

Mark 15:16, 17

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

Mark 15:18, 19a

They put a staff in his right hand…

Matthew 27:29b

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

Matthew 27:29c

Then they knelt down and paid homage to him.

Mark 15:19b

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

Matthew 27:30

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

Matthew 27:31

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

Mark 15:20

 

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

 

Matthew Mark Luke John
Then they arrested Jesus…

Luke 22:54a

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

John 18:12a

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

John 18:12b-14

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

John 18:19-23

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

Matthew 26:57

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

Mark 14:53

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

Luke 22:54b

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

John 18:24

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

Matthew 26:58a

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

Mark 14:54a

But Peter was following at a distance.

Luke 22:54c

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

Matthew 26:58b

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

Mark 14:54b

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

Luke 22:55

Meanwhile Simon Peter was standing in the courtyard warming himself.

John 18:25a

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

Matthew 26:59-61

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

Mark 14:55-58

Yet even on this point their testimony did not agree.

Mark 14:59

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

But Jesus was silent.

Matthew 26:62, 63a

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

But he was silent and did not answer.

Mark 14:60, 61a

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

Matthew 26:63b-64a

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

Mark 14:61b

“I am,” said Jesus…

Mark 14:62a

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

Matthew 26:63b-67a

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

Mark 14:62b-65a

…and to blindfold him…

Mark 14:65b

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

Matthew 26:67b-68

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

Mark 14:65c

The guards also took him and beat him.

Matthew 14:65d

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

Luke 22:63

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

Luke 22:64, 65

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

Matthew 27:1

Early in the morning, after forming a plan…

Mark 15:1a

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

Luke 22:66a

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

Luke 22:66b-71

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

Matthew 27:2

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

Mark 15:1b

 

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

Luke 23:1

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

John 18:28a

 

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

John 18:28b

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

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

John 18:29-32

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

Luke 23:2

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

Matthew 27:11a

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

Mark 15:2a

 

 

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

Luke 23:3a

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

John 18:33

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

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

John 18:34-37a

Jesus said, “You say so.”

Matthew 27:11b

He replied, “You say so.”

Mark 15:2b

He replied, “You say so.”

Luke 23:3b

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

John 18:37b

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

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

John 18:37c, 38a

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

Luke 23:4

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

John 18:38b

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

Matthew 27:12-14

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

Mark 15:3-5

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

Matthew 27:15, 16

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

Mark 15:6, 7

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

John 18:39, 40

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

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

Luke 23:5-12

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

Luke 23:13-16

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

John 19:1-3

Back to Romans, Part 87

[1] John 13:36b (NET)

[2] Matthew 11:2a (NET)

[3] Matthew 11:5 (NET)

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

[5] John 18:24 (NET)

[6] Matthew 26:59 (NET)

[7] Matthew 26:63b (NET)

[8] Mark 14:62 (NET)

[9] Matthew 26:68 (NET)

[10] Luke 22:63 (NET)

[11] Matthew 16:20 (NET)

[12] Matthew 16:21 (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:1 (NET)

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

[15] 2 Timothy 2:13 (NET)

[16] Luke 23:1 (NET)

[17] John 18:28b (NET)

[18] John 18:31 (NET)

[19] Luke 23:2 (NET)

[20] 1 Timothy 1:15 (NET)

[21] Mark 15:1 (NET)

[22] John 18:36a (NET)

[23] Matthew 27:12 (NET)

[24] John 1:11 (NET)

[25] Luke 23:5 (NET)

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

[27] John 14:10b (NET)

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)

Fear – Genesis, Part 6

After Jacob and his family spent some time in Bethel they moved on to Ephrath (Bethlehem).  On the way Rachel went into labor – and her labor was hard.  When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid (yârêʼ), for you are having another son.”[1]  The rabbis who translated the Septuagint changed the word to θάρσει[2] in Greek.  “Have courage (θάρσει), son!  Jesus said to the paralytic lying on a mat.  Your sins are forgiven.”[3]  With her dying breath, Rachel named him Ben-Oni [“son of my suffering”].  But his father called him Benjamin [“son of the (or “my”) right hand”] instead.[4]

Rachel was Jacob’s favorite wife.  Her father had tricked him into marrying her sister Leah as well.  Bilhah and Zilpah, Rachel’s and Leah’s servant girls, were given to Jacob when the sisters vied with each other for their husband’s affection.  Joseph, Rachel’s firstborn, was Jacob’s favorite son.  Joseph’s elder brothers hated him.  On top of that Joseph had a couple of dreams which indicated to his brothers and Jacob that Joseph thought he would rule over them.

Joseph’s brothers decided to kill him.  Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, talked his younger siblings down from murder.  They put Joseph in a dry cistern.  Reuben hoped to return later to rescue him.  Judah—Leah’s fourth born son after Reuben, Simeon and Levi—said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?  Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not lay a hand on him, for after all, he is our brother, our own flesh.”  His brothers agreed.[5]  The Ishmaelites sold Joseph to Potiphar the Egyptian, and eventually Joseph became a ruler in Egypt because of his ability to interpret prophetic dreams.

There was a famine in the land and Jacob sent ten of Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy grain.  Now Joseph was the ruler of the country, the one who sold grain to all the people of the country.  Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground.[6]  Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.  Then Joseph remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them, and he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see if our land is vulnerable!”[7]

Though I have heard it many times I am not persuaded that Joseph had some wise master plan to test his brothers’ repentance.  I think he was the outcast little brother who had his elder brothers right where he wanted them, and he wanted to make them squirm.  Beyond that he wanted to see his younger brother Benjamin.  But when he heard his brothers’ fears, he was moved, perhaps even to a repentance of his own:  They said to one other, “Surely we’re being punished because of our brother, because we saw how distressed he was when he cried to us for mercy, but we refused to listen.  That is why this distress has come on us!”  Reuben said to them, “Didn’t I say to you, ‘Don’t sin against the boy,’ but you wouldn’t listen?  So now we must pay for shedding his blood!”[8]

Joseph spoke to them through an interpreter, but understood their language as they whispered among themselves.  He turned away from them and wept.[9]  Here, I can be persuaded that Joseph began to formulate a plan to both save face as a ruler of Egypt who had embarked on a path of revenge, and to share with his brothers some of the mercy the Lord had shown him.  When he turned around and spoke to them again, he had Simeon taken from them and tied up before their eyes.  Then Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to return each man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey.  His orders were carried out.[10]

On their return journey one of the brothers discovered the money in his sack.  They were dismayed; they turned trembling one to another and said, “What in the world has God done to us?”[11]  The brothers were so sure that God was punishing them they misunderstood his mercy.  The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to us and treated us as if we were spying on the land,[12] they told Jacob their father.  Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, “This is how I will find out if you are honest men.  Leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for your hungry households and go.  But bring your youngest brother back to me so I will know that you are honest men and not spies.  Then I will give your brother back to you and you may move about freely in the land.”[13]

When they were emptying their sacks, there was each man’s bag of money in his sack!  When they and their father saw the bags of money, they were afraid (yârêʼ).[14]  In the Septuagint this was translated ἐφοβήθησαν.  Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a mountain.  And he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.  Then Moses and Elijah also appeared before them, talking with him.[15]  Peter, James and John took all this in stride.  They had been with Jesus awhile by then and were becoming somewhat accustomed to the spectacular and miraculous events that accompanied Him.

Peter offered to build three shelters (or, shrines) to honor Jesus, Moses and Elijah.  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my one dear Son, in whom I take great delight.  Listen to him!”  When the disciples heard this, they were overwhelmed with fear (ἐφοβήθησαν, a form of φοβέω) and threw themselves down with their faces to the ground.[16]  I don’t know how to write about the relationship of these two passages without first considering the Son of God.

I can’t help but feel a great sympathy for those who pursued a law of righteousness.[17]  About the time they got a really firm grasp on the fact that Yahweh was not like the gods of the nations, He visited them as a pagan myth, a Son of God.  Growing up I would have interpreted the statement, God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him,[18] this way: “Yahweh has sent Jesus into the world so that we may live through Him.”  But the more seriously I take Jesus’ words, before Abraham came into existence, I am![19] the more I am compelled to acknowledge that it was Yahweh (He is; I am was literally the unspeakable name of God) who was sent into the world to be born as a human being named Jesus (the Greek translation of Yahweh saves in Hebrew) so that we may live through Him.  Then Yahweh/Jesus began to speak of another God, his Father, whom no one had known: no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him.[20]

The voice that frightened Peter, James and John also spoke after Jesus’ baptism, This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight.[21]  After Jesus walked on the water and calmed the storm, those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”[22]  Peter testified, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!”[23]  Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.[24]  And as they came down the mountain after his transfiguration Jesus commanded them, “Do not tell anyone about the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”[25]  The reason for this gag order was fairly obvious (Matthew 26:63-66 NET):

The high priest said to [Jesus], “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”  Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.  But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  Then the high priest tore his clothes and declared, “He has blasphemed!  Why do we still need witnesses?  Now you have heard the blasphemy!  What is your verdict?”  They answered, “He is guilty and deserves death.”

I was curious how the three carried out the Lord’s command to tell about the vision after Jesus’ resurrection.  James, John’s brother, didn’t write any of the New Testament and Herod had him executed with a sword[26] early in the first century.  Peter described Jesus as both Lord and Christ but did not mention the offensive Son of God in any of his recorded sermons in Acts.  In fact, in one sermon it seemed that Peter was still making Jesus equal to Moses: “Moses said,The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’”[27]  Did Peter not know that Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant…But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house?[28]  Or am I in error when I assume that he was ascribing this prophecy to Christ, the Son of God?  Peter did however recount the story of the transfiguration in his second letter (2 Peter 1:16-18 NET):

For we did not follow cleverly concocted fables when we made known to you the power and return of our Lord Jesus Christ; no, we were eyewitnesses of his grandeur.  For he received honor and glory from God the Father, when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory: “This is my dear Son, in whom I am delighted.”  When this voice was conveyed from heaven, we ourselves heard it, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

John was the one who wrote most forthrightly about Jesus as the Son of God.  In all fairness to Peter, John probably didn’t write any of these things until after 70 A.D. when the ecclesiastical power of those who pursued a law of righteousness was destroyed.  And this is where I began to see the relationship of the two fears (ἐφοβήθησαν).  Both groups of men were eyewitnesses to the mercy of God and both groups feared punishment because God’s mercy did not match their preconceptions (or their rulers’ preconceptions) of “what is,” or “how things should be.”  Despite all of God’s mercy toward him Jacob was most eloquent in his fear when he complained to his sons, You are making me childless!  Joseph is gone.  Simeon is gone.  And now you want to take Benjamin!  Everything is against me.[29]

Son of God – John, Part 1

Fear – Genesis, Part 7

Back to A Monotonous Cycle, Part 3

Back to Romans, Part 39

Back to Fear – Genesis, Part 8

Back to Son of God – John, Part 5

Back to Son of God – 1 John, Part 3


[1] Genesis 35:16, 17 (NET)

[3] Matthew 9:2 (NET)

[4] Genesis 35:18 (NET)

[5] Genesis 37:26, 27 (NET)

[6] Genesis 42:6 (NET)

[7] Genesis 42:8, 9 (NET)

[8] Genesis 42:21, 22 (NET)

[9] Genesis 42:24a (NET)

[10] Genesis 42:24b, 25 (NET)

[11] Genesis 42:28b (NET)

[12] Genesis 42:30 (NET)

[13] Genesis 42:33, 34 (NET)

[14] Genesis 42:35 (NET)

[15] Matthew 17:2, 3 (NET)

[16] Matthew 17:5, 6 (NET)

[17] Romans 9:31 (NET)

[18] 1 John 4:9 (NET)

[19] John 8:58 (NET)

[20] Matthew 11:27b (NET)

[21] Matthew 3:17 (NET)

[22] Matthew 14:33 (NET)

[23] Matthew 16:16, 17 (NET)

[24] Matthew 16:20 (NET)

[25] Matthew 17:9 (NET)

[26] Acts 12:2 (NET)

[27] Acts 3:22a (NET)

[28] Hebrews 3:5, 6a (NET)

[29] Genesis 42:36 (NET)

Romans, Part 32

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear (φόβον, a form of φόβος),[1] Paul continued, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.”[2]  Human beings have been afraid of God ever since Adam died and hid from Him, saying, and I was afraid because I was naked.[3]  That is καὶ ἐφοβήθην (a form of φοβέω) ὅτι γυμνός εἰμι[4] in the Septuagint, literally, and I was afraid because naked I am   And naked we still are, because no creature is hidden from God, but everything is naked (γυμνὰ, a form of γυμνός)[5] and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account (λόγος).[6]  It is fitting that the fear that came upon us when Adam sinned is banished in Christ.

The word Abba is the childish word for father.  It reminds me of the picture of John John Kennedy peeking out from under his father’s desk in the oval office at the White House.  In October of 1962 President Kennedy was the most feared man on the planet, with the power to plunge the world into nuclear war.  But to John John, he was Daddy.  The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children.  And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) – if indeed we suffer with (συμπάσχομεν, a form of συμπάσχω)[7] him so we may also be glorified with (συνδοξασθῶμεν, a form of συνδοξάζω)[8] him.[9]

There are many things someone might suffer, but this linkage of suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him leads me back to chapter 6: 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 (δόξης, a form of δόξα)[10] of the Father, so we too may live a new life.[11]  Once Jesus’ disciples knew that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God[12] he instructed them not to tell anyone.[13]

From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer (παθεῖν, a form of πάθω)[14] 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.[15]

So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “God forbid, Lord!  This must not happen to you!”[16]  Mark emphasized that Jesus spoke openly about this.  So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.[17]  But [Jesus] 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.[18]  And Paul wrote, For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection.[19]

So the suffering Paul had in mind I think was primarily the frustration and inner confusion associated with this death and resurrection experience, particularly that neither I (old man born of the flesh nor new man born of the Spirit) can do what I wantFor 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.[20]  I’ve written in another essay in more detail that I think the essence of taking up one’s cross to follow Jesus in this death is not my will but yours be done,[21] and a few more ideas about this suffering of death in anotherFor I consider that our present sufferings (παθήματα, a form of πάθημα)[22] cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us,[23] Paul continued (Romans 8:19-21 NET).

For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God [e.g., all who are led by the Spirit of God[24]].  For the creation was subjected to futility – not willingly but because of God who subjected it – in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage (δουλείας, a form of δουλεία)[25] of decay (φθορᾶς, a form of φθορά)[26] into the glorious freedom of God’s children.

In school I learned about evolution, that marvelous creative force that made everything we see today.  In my real life I travel from medical conference to medical conference where I hear about genetic defects and diseases, the bondage of decay, the actual observable results of evolution.  The palliation of genetic defects and diseases is one of our last locally produced products and a mainspring of our economy.  While medical researchers may intend to find “cures” for genetic defects and diseases good economic sense would argue against that.  But there is another more pressing problem to consider, more long range and more far reaching.

Those who are faithful to their creator evolution, what I will call the evolutionary mind, face a daunting problem when it comes to “cures” for the products of evolution.  To my mind a cure would be found along the lines of investigation leading to an understanding of God’s original design of the genetic code for humankind.  This would not be conceivable to the evolutionary mind.  There was no grand design, no right way for the code to be written.  It was all happenstance that happened to produce life-forms that survived under given conditions.  For the evolutionary mind a “cure” must come from one’s own mind, evaluating the conditions people must thrive under and “Imagineering” so to speak how the code should read to accommodate those conditions.

Just as an aside, it occurs to me that back-breeding (e.g., inter-racial marriage) is still quite effective to overcoming some of the genetic burden that continues to accumulate over time.  When I was young such marriage was a curiosity.  Now inter-racial marriage seems to be a positive symptom of enlightened thinking among many young people.  If that trend continues and becomes standard practice it may well alleviate the necessity for any more Draconian measures forbidding intra-racial marriage.  And to my way of thinking it is the religious mind that would stand in the way of inter-racial marriage much like it would have bridled at God’s decrees against intra-familial marriage when genetic burden made that necessary.

Paul’s point, however, was that those who trust in Christ, or more specifically those led by the Spirit of God, wait for God’s solution, that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.  While the children don’t know exactly how this will take place, they assume it is along the lines of death and resurrection that they are experiencing, a destruction by fire and a creation of new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:8-13 NET).  Ultimately, the children trust that Abba, Daddy has everything under control.  The scorn and ridicule that elicits from those with an evolutionary mind may also be part of the suffering Paul wrote about.

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together (συνωδίνει, a form of συνωδίνω)[27] until now.  Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.  For in hope we were saved.  Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees?[28]

This is what convinced me that for Paul, So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin,[29] and, 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,[30] were normative for the believer’s experience here on earth.  They are the suffering to which he referred.  Even being led by the Spirit is but a foretaste of the glory that will be revealed to us.  It is the foretaste that prompts us to pray, Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.[31]

But if we hope for what we do not see, Paul concluded, we eagerly wait for it with endurance (ὑπομονῆς, a form of ὑπομονή).[32]

Romans, Part 33

Fear – Genesis, Part 1

Twilight Revisited 

Back to Fear – Genesis, Part 2

Back to You Must Be Gentle, Part 3


[2] Romans 8:15 (NET)

[3] Genesis 3:10 (NET)

[6] Hebrews 4:13 (NET)

[9] Romans 8:16, 17 (NET)

[11] Romans 6:4 (NET)

[15] Matthew 16:21 (NET)

[16] Matthew 16:22 (NET)

[17] Mark 8:32 (NET)

[18] Matthew 16:23, 24 (NET)

[19] Romans 6:5 (NET)

[20] Galatians 5:17 (NET)

[21] Luke 22:42b (NET)

[23] Romans 8:18 (NET)

[28] Romans 8:22-24 (NET)

[29] Romans 7:25b (NKJV)

[30] Galatians 5:17 (NET)

[31] Matthew 6:9, 10 (NET)

[32] Romans 8:25 (NET)