Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 4

As I continue to study nâśâʼ[1] and ʽâbar in Exodus 20:7 – Deuteronomy 4:26 I’ll begin with an aside.  The first occurrence of nâśâʼ in this section translated pardon was an angel who will not pardon [Israel’s] transgressions.  A table contrasting two mentions of an angel follows.

The Forty Day Covenant

After the Golden Calf

The Lord said to Moses, “Go up from here, you and the people whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’

Exodus 33:1 (NET)

“I am going to send an angel before you…

Exodus 23:20a (NET)

I will send an angel before you…

Exodus 33:2a (NET)

…to protect you as you journey and to bring you into the place that I have prepared.  Take heed because of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him.  But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries.

Exodus 23:20b-22 (NET)

For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.

Exodus 23:23 (NET)

…and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

Exodus 33:2b (NET)

Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey.  But I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way.”

Exodus 33:3 (NET)

When the people heard this troubling word they mourned; no one put on his ornaments.  For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people.  If I went up among you for a moment, I might destroy you.  Now take off your ornaments, that I may know what I should do to you.’”  So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments by Mount Horeb.

Exodus 33:4-6 (NET)

It’s worth noting that the angel’s function—to protect—and the warning—Take heed—were both forms of shâmar in Hebrew.  The former (לשמרך) was translated φυλάξῃ (a form of φυλάσσω) in the SeptuagintIf anyone hears my words but does not keep (φυλάξῃ, a form of φυλάσσω) them, Jesus said, I do not judge that person.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.[2]  The latter (השמר) was translated πρόσεχε (a form of προσέχω) in the SeptuagintUntil I come, Paul wrote Timothy, give attention (πρόσεχε, a form of προσέχω) to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.[3]

The Hebrew word translated obey in obey his voice was shâmaʽ (ושמע; See Table below) which was translated εἰσάκουε (a form of εἰσακούω) in the Septuagint.  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard (εἰσηκούσθη, another form of εἰσακούω), and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you will name him John.[4]  The Hebrew word translated rebel in do not rebel was mârar (תמר) which was translated ἀπείθει (a form of ἀπειθέω) in the Septuagint.  He who believes (πιστεύων, a form of πιστεύω) in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe (ἀπειθῶν, another form of ἀπειθέω) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.[5]

And finally pardon was nâśâʼ (ישׁא) in Hebrew which was translated ὑποστείληταί (a form of ὑποστέλλω) in the Septuagint.  You know that I did not hold back (ὑπεστειλάμην, another form of ὑποστέλλω) from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful,[6] Paul declared to the Ephesian elders.  But here the translators of the Septuagint took a different turn since they didn’t even translate peshaʽ (לפשעכם; transgressions): “For he shall not hold you in undue awe, for my name is upon him.”[7]  It makes me wonder if they were trying to put a better spin on for he will not pardon (or, bear) your transgressions for Greek consumption.

The clause detailing the angel’s purpose—to protect you as you journey[8]—was missing from the restatement of the covenant after the golden calf incident, yet for forty years in the wilderness yehôvâh[9] cared and provided for them.  So why don’t I consider that all of the missing elements of the covenant should be assumed in the later restatement?

I’m no lawyer but I did spend several years calculating and writing the conditions that went into my employer’s boilerplate contracts.  It seems pretty apparent to me that when yehôvâh did not destroy Israel and make a great nation of Moses, when He accepted Moses’ description of that act as evil, then both parties had abrogated the covenant and the contract became null and void.  Care and provision for Israel became a matter of grace, no longer stipulated by contract, by law.

What is clearly missing from the restatement of the covenant is the contractual language: But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries.  For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.[10]  This was replaced by a simple unilateral statement: I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.[11]

I hesitate to call this grace (though it may qualify as election) since yehôvâh called it dread (Deuteronomy 32:26, 27 Tanakh):

I thought I would make an end of them, I would make their memory cease from among men; Were it not that I dreaded (gûr, אגור) the enemy’s provocation, lest their adversaries should misdeem, lest they should say: Our hand is exalted, and not HaShem hath wrought all this.

Accepting that the clauses missing from the restatement of the covenant are truly missing helps me to track the transition from [Sin] (chaṭṭâʼâh, חטאת; Septuagint: ἥμαρτες, a form of ἁμαρτάνω) desires (teshûqâh, תשוקתו) to dominate you, but you must subdue (mâshal, תמשל) it,[12] to Paul’s declaration to believers in Galatia (Galatians 2:20, 21 NET):

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

Who would have thought that the way to subdue or rule over sin was to die to it (Romans 6:8-11 NET)?

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God.  So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Who would have thought that the way to subdue or rule over sin was to die to the law (Romans 7:4-6 NET)?

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God.  For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.

Viewed from this perspective the worship of the golden calf and yehôvâh’s restatement of the covenant follows the pattern of Paul’s explanation to believers in Rome (Romans 5:20, 21 NET):

Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Why would anyone want transgression to increase?  This is scandalous to the religious mind.  But Jesus taught a Pharisee (Luke 7:40-47 NET):

“Simon, I have something to say to you.”  He replied, “Say it, Teacher.”  “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both.  Now which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”  Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”  Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?  I entered your house.  You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.”

Ultimately, this love from God Himself subdues and rules over sin (Romans 13:8-10 NET):

Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Jesus warned (Matthew 5:17-20 NET):

“Do not think that I have come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) the law or the prophets.  I have not come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

After explaining that the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, Paul continued (Romans 6:1-4 NET):

What shall we say then?  Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?  Absolutely not!  How can we who died to sin still live in it?  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.

In other words, believers can say with Paul: We have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer we who live, but Christ lives in us.  So the life we now live in the body, we live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us.  We do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another.  But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing (ἀνακαινώσεως , a form of ἀνακαίνωσις) of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.  And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”[13]

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.[14]  This is the salvation believers in Philippi were enjoined to continue working out (Philippians 2:12-18 NET):

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed (ὑπηκούσατε, a form of ὑπακούω), not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God.  Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you.  And in the same way you also should be glad and rejoice together with me.

It is much better news than the Septuagint’s translation of Exodus 23:21b: “For he shall not hold you in undue awe, for my name is upon him.”  A table of the translations of shâmaʽ in the KJV, NET and Septuagint from Genesis through Exodus 23:22 follows.

Form of shâmaʽ Reference KJV NET Septuagint
שמע Genesis 16:11 …because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. …for the Lord has heard your painful groans. ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 21:12 hearken unto her voice… Do all that Sarah is telling you… ἄκουε, a form of ἀκούω
Genesis 21:17 …for God hath heard the voice of the lad… …for God has heard the boy’s voice… ἐπακήκοεν, another form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 24:52 …when Abraham’s servant heard their words… When Abraham’s servant heard their words… ἀκοῦσαι, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice… …this will come to pass because Abraham obeyed[15] me… ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:8 obey my voice according to that which I command thee. do exactly what I tell you! ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 27:13 …only obey my voice… Just obey me! ὑπάκουσον, another form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice… Now then, my son, do what I say. ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 29:33 Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated… Because the Lord heard that I was unloved… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 30:6 …and hath also heard my voice… He has responded to my prayer… ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 34:5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah… When Jacob heard that Shechem had violated his daughter… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 39:10 …that he hearkened not unto her… …he did not respond to her invitation… ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 42:21 …and we would not hear …but we refused to listen. εἰσηκούσαμεν a form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 42:23 …they knew not that Joseph understood them… …they did not know that Joseph could understand them… ἀκούει, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 7:13 …that he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them… εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 7:22 …neither did he hearken unto them… …and he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron…
Exodus 8:15 …and hearkened not unto them… …and did not listen to them…
Exodus 8:19 …and he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them…
Exodus 9:12 …and he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them…
Exodus 16:9 …for he hath heard your murmurings. …because he has heard your murmurings. εἰσακήκοεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 18:19 Hearken now unto my voice… Now listen to me… ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 22:23 I will surely hear their cry… I will surely hear their cry… ἀκοῇ, a form of ἀκοή
Exodus 23:22 But if thou shalt indeed obey… But if you diligently obey him…
ושמע Exodus 23:21 Beware of him, and obey his voice… Take heed because of him, and obey his voice… εἰσάκουε, another form of εἰσακούω
ישמע Exodus 6:30 …and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me? …why should Pharaoh listen to me? εἰσακούσεταί, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 7:4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you… Pharaoh will not listen to you.
Exodus 11:9 Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you… Pharaoh will not listen to you…
Exodus 19:9 …that the people may hear when I speak… …so that the people may hear when I speak… ἀκούσῃ, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 23:13 …neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. do not let them be heard on your lips. ἀκουσθῇ, another form of ἀκούω
וישמע Genesis 14:14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive… When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive… ἀκούσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 16:2 And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. Abram did what Sarai told him. ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 21:17 And God heard the voice of the lad… But God heard the boy’s voice. εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 23:16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron… So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 28:7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother… Jacob obeyed his father and mother…
Genesis 30:17 And God hearkened unto Leah… God paid attention to Leah… ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 30:22 and God hearkened to her… He paid attention to her…
Genesis 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban’s sons… Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 35:22 and Israel heard it. and Israel heard about it.
Genesis 37:21 And Reuben heard it… When Reuben heard this… ἀκούσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 45:2 and the house of Pharaoh heard. and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. ἀκουστὸν, a form of ἀκουστός
Exodus 2:15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing… When Pharaoh heard about this event… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 2:24 And God heard their groaning… God heard their groaning… εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 18:1 heard of all that God had done for Moses… heard about all that God had done for Moses… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 18:24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law… Moses listened to his father-in-law…
שמעו Genesis 37:6 Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: Listen to this dream I had: ἀκούσατε, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 43:25 they heard that they should eat bread… they had heard that they were to have a meal… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 6:9 …but they hearkened not unto Moses… …but they did not listen to him… εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 6:12 …the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me… If the Israelites did not listen to me…
Exodus 15:14 The people shall hear, and be afraid… The nations will hear and tremble… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 16:20 they hearkened not unto Moses… But they did not listen to Moses… εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
וישמעו Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice… Then the man and his wife heard the sound… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 34:24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all… …the men who assembled at the city gate agreed εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 37:27 And his brethren were content. His brothers agreed. ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 45:2 Not translated …the Egyptians heard it…
Exodus 4:31 and when they heard that the LORD… When they heard that the Lord… Not Translated
ושמעו Genesis 49:2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob… Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob… ἀκούσατε, another form of ἀκούω
and hearken unto Israel your father. listen to Israel, your father.
Exodus 3:18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: The elders will listen to you… εἰσακούσονταί, another form of εἰσακούω
ישמעו Genesis 11:7 …they may not understand one another’s speech. …they won’t be able to understand each other. ἀκούσωσιν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 4:1 …nor hearken unto my voice: …or pay attention to me… εἰσακούσωσιν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 4:8 …neither hearken to the voice of the first sign… …or pay attention to the former sign…
שמען Genesis 4:23 Hear my voice… Listen to me! ἀκούσατέ, another form of ἀκούω
ישמעון Exodus 4:9 …neither hearken unto thy voice… …or listen to you… εἰσακούσωσιν, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעת Genesis 3:17 Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife… Because you obeyed your wife… ἤκουσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 18:10 And Sarah heard it in the tent door… Now Sarah was listening at the entrance… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 22:18 …because thou hast obeyed my voice. Because you have obeyed me… ὑπήκουσας, another form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:5 And Rebekah heard[16] Now Rebekah had been listening ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 7:16 …hitherto thou wouldest not hear. But until now you have not listened. εἰσήκουσας, another form of εἰσακούω
ושמעתי Exodus 22:27 that I will hear; for I am gracious. I will hear, for I am gracious. εἰσακούσομαι, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתם Genesis 42:22 and ye would not hear? but you wouldn’t listen? εἰσηκούσατέ, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתי Genesis 3:10 I heard thy voice in the garden… I heard you moving about in the orchard… ἤκουσα, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 21:26 …neither yet heard I of it, but to day. I did not hear about it until today.
Genesis 27:6 Behold, I heard thy father… Look, I overheard your father…
Genesis 37:17 …for I heard them say… …for I heard them say…
Genesis 41:15 …and I have heard say of thee… But I have heard about you… ἀκήκοα, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 42:2 I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: I hear that there is grain in Egypt.
Exodus 3:7 and have heard their cry… I have heard their cry…
Exodus 6:5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of… I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites… εἰσήκουσα, another form of ἐπακούω
Exodus 16:12 I have heard the murmurings… I have heard the murmurings… εἰσακήκοα, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתיך Genesis 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: As for Ishmael, I have heard you. ἐπήκουσά, another form of ἐπακούω
שמעני Genesis 23:11 hear me… Hear me out. ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 23:13 I pray thee, hear me: Hear me, if you will.
Genesis 23:15 My Lord, hearken unto me: Hear me, my lord. ἀκήκοα, another form of ἀκούω
ישמעני Exodus 6:12 …how then shall Pharaoh hear me… …then how will Pharaoh listen to me… εἰσακούσεταί, another form of ἐπακούω
שמענו Genesis 23:6 Hear us, my Lord: thou art a mighty prince… Listen, sir, you are a mighty prince… ἄκουσον, another form of ἀκούω
שמעוני Genesis 23:8 hear me… then hear me out. ἀκούσατέ, another form of ἀκούω
שמוע Exodus 15:26 If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God… If you will diligently obey the Lord your God… ἀκοῇ, a form of ἀκοή
Exodus 19:5 Not translated …if you will diligently listen to me…
השמע Genesis 21:6 …so that all that hear will laugh… Everyone who hears about this will laugh… ἀκούσῃ, another form of ἀκούω
נשמע Genesis 45:16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house… Now it was reported in the household of Pharaoh… διεβοήθη, a form of διαβοάω
ונשמעה Exodus 20:19 Speak thou with us, and we will hear You speak to us and we will listen Not Translated
כשמע Genesis 27:34 And when Esau heard the words of his father… When Esau heard his father’s words… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 29:13 when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob… When Laban heard this news about Jacob…
Genesis 39:19 when his master heard the words of his wife… When his master heard his wife say…
Exodus 16:8 …for that the LORD heareth your murmurings… …because the Lord has heard your murmurings… εἰσακοῦσαι, another form of εἰσακούω
כשמעו Genesis 39:15 when he heard that I lifted up my voice… When he heard me raise my voice… ἀκοῦσαι, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 16:7 for that he heareth your murmurings… because he has heard your murmurings… εἰσακοῦσαι, another form of εἰσακούω
כשמעם Genesis 34:7 when they heard it: when they heard the news. ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
וכשמעו Genesis 24:30 and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying… and heard his sister Rebekah say… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
תשמע Genesis 41:15 …that thou canst understand a dream… Not translated ἀκούσαντά, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 15:26 If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God… If you will diligently obey the Lord your God… ἀκούσῃς, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 23:22 But if thou shalt indeed obey But if you diligently obey him… ἀκούσητε, another form of ἀκούω
תשמעו Genesis 34:17 But if ye will not hearken unto us… But if you do not agree to our terms… εἰσακούσητε, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 19:5 …if ye will obey my voice… …if you will diligently listen to me… ἀκούσητε, another form of ἀκούω
אשמע Exodus 5:2 Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice… Who is the Lord that I should obey him… εἰσακούσομαι, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 22:23 …I will surely hear their cry… …I will surely hear their cry…

[1] I used the second spelling (nâsâh) offered in Strong’s Concordance in the tables and in a previous essay, which confused me when I linked to the Hebrew dictionary.

[2] John 12:47 (NIV)

[3] 1 Timothy 4:13 (NET)

[4] Luke 1:13 (NET)

[5] John 3:36 (NKJV)

[6] Acts 20:20a (NET)

[7] Exodus 23:21b (NETS)  The Tanakh reads: for he will not pardon your transgression; for My name is in him.

[8] I won’t argue that the angel’s purpose was to keep believing Israelites within the covenant, though I considered it.

[9] In these essays I’ve used several names for the Hebrew יהוה.  Admittedly, I was being catty when I used Jehovah to obliquely reference the undercurrent in religious thought that Jesus died to save us from an evil god.  I abandoned the name Yahweh for reasons akin to the genetic fallacy: I learned Yahweh from Nietzsche.  He was not only an atheist but a philologist as well.  I settled on yehôvâh because it was in Strong’s Concordance, the same source I’ve used for all the other Hebrew words addressed in these essays.  Subsequently I’ve come across an argument favoring Yahweh on YAHWEH’S restoration ministry online in an article titled “The Yehovah Deception: Reinventing a Misnomer.”

The most succinct form of their argument reads: “As confirmed by the Jewish Talmud, hundreds of years before the birth of Yahshua the Messiah the Jews stopped pronouncing the divine Name and began concealing it by reading the vowel points from Adonai into the Tetragrammaton.  The motivation behind this practice was not from irreverence but through a strong veneration for the Name.  They were afraid that if it were pronounced, someone might misuse or blaspheme the Name.  Part of this hesitation doubtless arose from their time in Babylon.  While their reasoning was admirable, it is against the clear teachings of Scripture.”

I find that argument plausible and discouraging.  My own working hypothesis concerning the Masoretes was that they were generally honorable when dealing with the words of Scripture but may have shaded the meaning of certain Hebrew words a bit to defend Jewish religion from Christian scholarship.  As a working hypothesis it limited the search field to points of contention.  The idea that they may be the heirs of those who deliberately corrupted the name of God with vowels from a different word offers no limit to the mischief they may have perpetrated on words of lesser importance.  If true, a searchable list of Hebrew homographs is no mere convenience but an absolute necessity for Old Testament study.  Creating such a list is well beyond my abilities.

My only purpose in using yehôvâh is to remind myself that Lord is not the word used in Scripture.  I was taught from the pulpit that it is disrespectful to call Jesus by name, that Paul called Him Lord, though now I think that was Paul’s way of designating Him yehôvâh (Isaiah 45:18-23; Romans 14:10-12; Philippians 2:5-11; John 5:22, 23).  So for the time being I’ll continue using yehôvâh since I definitely don’t believe the name of God is a magical incantation that must be pronounced correctly for the magic to work.

[10] Exodus 23:22, 23 (NET)

[11] Exodus 33:2 (NET)

[12] Genesis 4:7b (NET)  Here, the Tanakh presents the subduing of sin as a comforting possibility rather than an imperative: …and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it (Genesis 4:7b Tanakh).  The Septuagint comforted Cain that he would once again rule over Abel (if he offered the appropriate sacrifice): “Be still, his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him” (Genesis 4:7b NETS).

[13] Titus 3:3-7 (NET)

[14] Romans 10:10, 11 (KJV)

[15] So then faith comes by hearing (ἀκοῆς, a form of ἀκοή), and hearing (ἀκοὴ, another form of ἀκοή) by the word of God (Romans 10:17 NKJV).  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws (ἑλκύσῃ, a form of ἑλκύω) him (John 6:44a NET)…  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw (ἑλκύσω, another form of ἑλκύω) all people to myself.

[16] For it is not those who hear (ἀκροαταὶ, a form of ἀκροατής) the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous (Romans 2:13 NET).  This is an interesting example.  Relative to Isaac’s word Rebekah was a hearer only because she did everything in her power to deceive her husband and change the outcome of his word.  But was she hearing/obeying yehôvâh (Genesis 25:21-26) instead?  Was her deception necessary?  Would we be reading the history of Esau/Israel rather than Jacob/Israel without it?  Or would yehôvâh have chosen (Malachi 1:1-5) Jacob even if Isaac had blessed Esau as he intended (Romans 9:10-18)?  Was Rebekah’s deception righteous?  Or might her faith have been counted as righteousness (Romans 4:1-5)?

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 7

In another essay I began “to consider what I called ‘Paul’s religious mind’ through the lens of Jesus’ teaching” in Matthew 18:15-17 as ballast for my own bias toward mercy.  Originally, I was concerned about Paul’s judgment from a distance of the man who had his father’s wife.  Here is the relevant text in context (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 NET):

It is actually reported that sexual immorality (πορνεία) exists among you, the kind of immorality (πορνεία) that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with (ἔχειν, a form of ἔχω; literally, has) his father’s wife.  And you are proud!  Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you?  For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit.  And I have already judged (κέκρικα, a form of κρίνω) the one who did this, just as though I were present.  When you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus, turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

When I revisited this text and compared it to Jesus’ message to the angel of the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) I was more concerned about its impact on the ἐκκλησία, those called by God:[1]

Let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that Paul as an apostle had the authority and God-given wisdom to recognize a weed [Matthew 13:27-30] and uproot it.  Did he have the authority to turn the church of Jesus Christ in Corinth (and any who hear him today) from the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of the Holy Spirit, and transform them into a paranoid police force?  Rather than knowing no law against loving our neighbor as well as our enemies, does every infraction of any law call us to dam up the fruit of the Holy Spirit?  Must we judge one another constantly lest we be proud for loving one another excessively?

As I began to counter my own bias I assumed that members of Chloe’s household had already taken one or two others to the man who had his father’s wife so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established[2] and that he had refused to listen (παρακούσῃ, a form of παρακούω) to them.[3]  What we have in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 then is Paul telling it to the church.  I assumed this because I think Paul was writing about the same man in 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 (NET):

But if anyone has caused sadness, he has not saddened me alone, but to some extent (not to exaggerate) he has saddened all of you as well.  This punishment on such an individual by the majority is enough for him, so that now instead you should rather forgive and comfort him.  This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair.  Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

In other words, the man who had his father’s wife listened to the church when he was shunned by the church.  If one doesn’t think the one who caused sadness was the same one who had his father’s wife then 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 would be an example of excommunication rather than shunning.  If he refuses to listen (παρακούσῃ, a form of παρακούω) to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector (τελώνης),[4] Jesus said.  He was quite clear how to treat Gentiles and tax collectors (Matthew 5:44-48 NET):

But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Even the tax collectors (τελῶναι, a form of τελώνης) do the same, don’t they?  And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do?  Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?  So then, be perfect (τέλειοι, a form of τέλειος), as your heavenly Father is perfect (τέλειος).

From the viewpoint of the ἐκκλησία very little has changed except the credence given to what is said or done by the one no longer in good standing.  Those who are led by the Spirit of God don’t think, for instance, “my father’s wife is the girl for me” because so-and-so had his father’s wife.  But the church is comprised of people who are led by the Spirit of God and others who are not, and both real estate and tangible property are at stake.  Paul didn’t differentiate between the ἐκκλησία and the not-for-profit corporations called churches the way I attempt to do.

In his article “Why are priests celibate?” on the U.S. Catholic: Faith in Real Life website Santiago Cortes-Sjoberg wrote:

It was not until the turn of the first millennium that the church started to canonically regulate clerical marriage, mainly in response to clerical abuses and corruption. Of particular concern was the transmission at the death of a clergyman of church property to his wife and children. The Council of Pavia (1018), for example, issued regulations on how to deal with children of clergy, declaring them serfs of the church, unable to be ordained and barring them from inheriting their father’s benefices (income connected to a church office or parish).

In 1075 Pope Gregory VII issued a decree effectively barring married priests from ministry, a discipline formalized by the First Lateran Council in 1123.

I tell you the truth, Jesus continued, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.[5]  I’ve quoted from a will have been bound translation of the New Testament though will be bound is just as common.  I’m no Greek scholar but will be bound appears to be the more grammatically correct translation of ἔσται.  The relevant entry on GotQuestions.org quoted will be bound but understood it as will have already been bound: “the syntax of the Greek text makes the meaning clear.  What you bind on earth will have already been bound in heaven.”

I saw a play in Los Angeles about thirty-five years ago based on this verse.  A blind priest on a mission journey baptized a flock of penguins.  God and Satan scrambled to catch up, granting the penguins rational souls so they could be held accountable for their sins and tempting them to sin, respectively.  The penguins got very excited about the command to be fruitful and multiply.  I assume “will have already been bound in heaven” exists as a possible translation to counter extreme views like that play.

Keith Drury in his article posted on The Voice, “Who says what the Bible says? The keys to the kingdom, binding and loosing,” outlines a fairly extensive process for addressing the opposite extreme (though he quoted will be bound) of one individual or even a few gathered in Jesus’ name deciding what has already been bound in heaven.  Mr. Drury begins with a group of four men plus his wife as “spiritual director,” moves to a group of six from his Sunday School class to his Sunday School class as a whole, his pastor, his entire church of 1,500 people, his denomination and finally church tradition—“Christians through history.”  In the Catholic catechism the Pope and the College of Cardinals fill this function.

Along the way Mr. Drury wrote this about small groups in John Wesley’s churches: “They did not have a short prayer and send the member out into the woods to ‘sense from the Holy Spirit’ if they had sinned or not.  They did not even send them off to study the Bible.”  I don’t believe this was meant quite as flippantly as it sounded since he described the four men he consulted first as “experts in the Bible, theology, and philosophy.”  I think Mr. Drury understands that apart from the Holy Spirit and the Bible any triangulation by consensus could be much worse than useless.  So let’s attempt to look at the Bible, led by the Spirit of God.

Jesus Jerusalem Council

Paul

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:17-20 (NET)

From the apostles and elders, your brothers, to the Gentile brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, greetings!  Since we have heard that some have gone out from among us with no orders from us and have confused you, upsetting your minds by what they said, we have unanimously decided to choose men to send to you along with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas who will tell you these things themselves in person.  For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality.  If you keep yourselves from doing these things, you will do well.  Farewell.

Acts 15:23b-29 (NET)

For all who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.  For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous.  For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves.  They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relationship to God and know his will and approve the superior things because you receive instruction from the law, and if you are convinced that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an educator of the senseless, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the essential features of knowledge and of the truth – therefore you who teach someone else, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach against stealing, do you steal?  You who tell others not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery?  You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who boast in the law dishonor God by transgressing the law!  For just as it is written, “the name of God is being blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

For circumcision has its value if you practice the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.  Therefore if the uncircumcised man obeys the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?  And will not the physically uncircumcised man who keeps the law judge you who, despite the written code and circumcision, transgress the law?  For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh, but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code.  This person’s praise is not from people but from God.

Romans 2:12-29 (NET)

It seems fairly clear who had more regard for Jesus’ command not to think that He had come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) the law or the prophets (not to mention more concern for the souls of Gentiles).  The unanimous decision of the church fathers to give Gentiles James’ (Acts 15:13-21) abbreviated version of the law was not presided over by a successor to Peter but by Peter himself.  Yes, Paul instigated the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-3 NET).  Yes, Paul taught the council’s decision for a time (Acts 16:3-5 NET), but ultimately studying the Scriptures (the Old Testament) in the power of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote the letter to believers in Rome.  He said many more things[6] about the law there.  I’ll highlight only two more of them here.

The most direct route to satisfying a hunger and thirst for righteousness, obeying the law in my own strength, is closed (if it was ever actually open after Adam ate the forbidden fruit).  For the lawwas weakened through the flesh…[T]he outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.[7] The indirect route (1 Peter 1:18-20; John 14:6) was ever the best (Romans 3:19-22 NET).

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God.  For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.

My point here is: in the Bible for all who are led by the Spirit of God to see an individual led by the same Spirit to study the Scriptures corrected an erroneous doctrine proposed by the unanimous consensus of church authorities who claimed the imprimatur of the Holy Spirit.  Granted, none of these authorities had access to 1 Corinthians 13, Romans or Galatians.  Their decision became in effect the irritation that formed these pearls in Paul.

I am so proud of myself any time I understand something Paul wrote it’s practically sinful.  I can barely imagine taking the Old Testament, the Gospel and the mess[8] in Corinth and writing these letters by the Holy Spirit for the very first time.  I think of the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, love – a way that is beyond comparison, as an outline that was fleshed out considerably in Romans, and Galatians seems to assume Romans.  I assume then that they were written in that order though many disagree.  Of course, the Holy Spirit knew the content of all three letters and could have had Paul write them in any order He preferred.

So if Jesus communicated supernaturally through his Spirit to Paul to hand the one who had his father’s wife over to Satan, there is really nothing I can say about that.  My points are all based on the insight that 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 seems contrary to Jesus’ teaching[9] and Paul’s own writing elsewhere (Galatians 6:1-5).  I concede the need for excommunication so that church property doesn’t fall into possession of those not led by the Spirit of God.  I’m not absolutely convinced that outcome has always been the case.  In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if church property, church position and church authority are coveted more by those who live according to the flesh than by those who live according to the Spirit of God (Romans 8:5-14 NET).

There are any number of organizations in the world dedicated to instilling compliance in their members to, and even faith in, various rules and norms.  Some are arguably better at it than churches.  But none of these worldly organizations can offer believers the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, Christ in you, the hope of glory.[10]

[1] Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 1

[2] Matthew 18:16 (NET)

[3] Matthew 18:17a (NET)

[4] Matthew 18:17b (NET)

[5] Matthew 18:18 (NET)

[6] Romans 3:19-31; Romans 4:13-25; Romans 5:12-21; Romans 6:12-20; Romans 7:1-25; Romans 8:1-11; Romans 9:30-33; Romans 10:1-13; Romans 13:8-10

[7] Romans 8:3, 7, 8 (NET)

[8] It is possible that the situation in Corinth wasn’t quite the “mess” Paul thought it was.  Jesus thought He had many people in this city.  See also: Paul in Corinth

[9] Paul’s Religious Mind; Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 1

[10] Colossians 1:27b (NET)

Sexual Immorality Revisited, Part 2

The exercise of revisiting Paul’s Religious Mind and the meaning of Sexual Immorality has clarified a few things that were right in front of me all along.  I considered again the list of sins that described the former lives of some who were called to faith in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 6:9b, 10 (NET)

Parallel Greek

The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. οὔτε πόρνοι (another form of πόρνος) οὔτε εἰδωλολάτραι οὔτε μοιχοὶ οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται οὔτε κλέπται οὔτε πλεονέκται, οὐ μέθυσοι, οὐ λοίδοροι, οὐχ ἅρπαγες βασιλείαν θεοῦ κληρονομήσουσιν

Each word preceded by οὔτε, οὐ or οὐχ (a form of οὐ) gives a strong indication that Paul did not consider πόρνοι the one word that included all of the others.  In other words the list is not to be understood as, The πόρνοι: idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers.  I’ve considered this option, by the way, given the shorter list in Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:5 (NET)

Parallel Greek

For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. τοῦτο γὰρ ἴστε γινώσκοντες, ὅτι πᾶς πόρνος ἢ ἀκάθαρτος ἢ πλεονέκτης οὐκ ἔχει κληρονομίαν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ

So I began a subtractive process, trying to determine what πόρνοι did not mean.  As I studied ἀρσενοκοῖται (a form of ἀρσενοκοίτης; translated, practicing homosexuals) the obvious became more clear.  The Greek word ἀρσενοκοίτης is a compound of two words: 1) αρσην, male, and 2) κοίτη, couch, bed.

Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male (ἄρσεν, a form of αρσην) and female,[1] Jesus answered the Pharisees who asked Him about divorce.  The men (ἄρσενες, another form of αρσην) also abandoned natural relations with women, Paul wrote the Roman believers, and were inflamed in their passions for one another.  Men (ἄρσενες, another form of αρσην) committed shameless acts with men (ἄρσεσιν, another form of αρσην) and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.[2]  The Greek is a bit more graphic: ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι (literally, “male in male this unseemliness performing”).  The writer of Hebrews penned: Marriage must be honored among all and the marriage bed (κοίτη) kept undefiled, for God will judge sexually immoral people (πόρνους, another form of πόρνος) and adulterers (μοιχοὺς, a form of μοιχός).[3]  I can’t imagine one word better than ἀρσενοκοίτης (male marriage bed) to describe You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman.[4]

I combined this with the fact that Paul’s particular usage of πορνεία in 1 Corinthians 5:1 is a fairly clear reference to You must not have sexual intercourse with your father’s wife; she is your father’s nakedness.[5]  And I came to one inescapable conclusion irrespective of whether Paul used πορνεία because he thought it meant anything and everything that was not sex between one man and one woman or because it was the only word he had had to use when he arrived in Corinth, constrained by his reliance on James’ abbreviated version of the law:

James’ abbreviated version of the law

…to abstain from things defiled by idols and from sexual immorality and from what has been strangled and from blood…

Acts 15:20 (NET)

ἀπέχεσθαι τῶν ἀλισγημάτων τῶν εἰδώλων καὶ τῆς πορνείας (a form of πορνεία) καὶ |τοῦ| πνικτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος
…that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality…

Acts 15:29a (NET)

ἀπέχεσθαι εἰδωλοθύτων καὶ αἵματος καὶ πνικτῶν καὶ πορνείας (a form of πορνεία)

The inescapable conclusion is: in the letter called 1 Corinthians Paul taught Levitical law (as knowledge of sin not as a path of salvation) to Gentiles (1 Timothy 1:8-10 NET).

But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, sexually immoral people (πόρνοις, another form of πόρνος), practicing homosexuals (ἀρσενοκοίταις, another form of ἀρσενοκοίτης), kidnappers, liars, perjurers – in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.

Gone was any pretense to be concerned about nothing among [them] except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.[6]  More importantly, perhaps, the pretense of not placing on the neck of the [Gentile] disciples a yoke that neither [Peter’s] ancestors nor [his contemporaries had] been able to bear[7] was utterly gone from Paul’s thinking.  That yoke would not be borne by the works of the flesh.  That is true.  But it would not be shirked either.  The yoke would be borne by the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe,[8] the fruit of the Spirit, the love [that] is the fulfillment of the law.[9]  Jesus said (Matthew 11:28-30; 5:17-20 NET):

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Do we then nullify the law through faith? Paul asked rhetorically.  Absolutely not!  Instead we uphold the law.[10]  Have I just made the case for πορνεία as a violation of Leviticus 18 or 20?  But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful [πορνείας, a form of πορνεία]) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.[11]  I don’t think so.

I might have made that case.  I have a philosophical bent to my mind; I am a legalist in theory and in practice.  Why not see Matthew 5:32 as Jesus’ instruction to governor-priests and as vindication or exoneration of Ezra the priest?  Ancient Roman legislators had articulated concepts of lawful connubium.  The priests and bishops Constantine left to govern Rome when he abandoned it for Byzantium heard Jesus’ words as Roman law.  Wouldn’t Jesus follow Roman law?  It’s certainly more in line with the way my mind works.  Until, that is, I heard yehôvâh in the prophet Malachi (2:14b, 15a, 16 NET):

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) is testifying against you on behalf of the wife you married when you were young, to whom you have become unfaithful even though she is your companion and wife by law.  No one who has even a small portion of the Spirit in him does this.

“I hate divorce,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of Israel, “and the one who is guilty of violence,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) who rules over all. “Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful.”

This is the intellectual and spiritual equivalent of a ratchet, and I cannot go back.  Now I hear, For God has consigned (συνέκλεισεν, a form of συγκλείω) all people to disobedience (ἀπείθειαν, a form of ἀπείθεια; literally, disbelief) so that he may show mercy to them all.[12]  We are all like fish caught in a net of disobedience.  Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under (ἐν; literally, in) the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable (ὑπόδικος; literally, under sentence, under judgment) to God.[13]

Ezra was exactly where yehôvâh wanted him to be when he said: O Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God of Israel, you are righteous, for we are left as a remnant this day.  Indeed, we stand before you in our guilt.  However, because of this guilt no one can really stand before you.[14]  Who knows what would have happened if Ezra had stayed there, waiting on yehôvâh, instead of chasing after Shecaniah’s get-righteous-quick scheme (Ezra 10:2-4 NET).

Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, from the descendants of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the local peoples.  Nonetheless, there is still hope for Israel in this regard.  Therefore let us enact a covenant with our God to send away all these women and their offspring, in keeping with your counsel, my lord, and that of those who respect the commandments of our God.  And let it be done according to the law.  Get up, for this matter concerns you.  We are with you, so be strong and act decisively!”

I want to make this as clear as I possibly can.  If a man has married the wrong sort of woman he cannot redeem himself in God’s eyes, he cannot make himself righteous again, by divorcing her and sending their children away.  The religious mind encourages us to change our own behavior, to conform us to some image of righteousness derived from the law (or some lesser doctrine) by that religious mind.  The mind of Christ speaks to the wriggling soul caught in a net of disbelief, saying, Stop your striving (râphâh, הרפו) and recognize (yâdaʽ, ודעו) that I am God!  I will be exalted over the nations!  I will be exalted over the earth![15]  Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’[16]

I don’t live in Rome in the first half of the fourth century.  I don’t hear Jesus speaking to Roman legislators about external controls.  I hear Him speaking to the ἐκκλησία, those called by God the Father through Jesus Christ to be led by his Holy Spirit.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.[17]  For this and other reasons I still hear Jesus’ use of πορνείας (a form of πορνεία) in Matthew 5:32 and πορνείᾳ in Matthew 19:9 as a reference to the same πορνεῦσαι (a form of πορνεύω, e.g., sexualized worship) He condemned in Revelation 2:20 (NET):

But I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and by her teaching deceives my servants to commit sexual immorality (πορνεῦσαι) and to eat food sacrificed to idols (εἰδωλόθυτα, a form of εἰδωλόθυτον).

Such sexualized worship was the bane of Israel’s descendents from the beginning of their existence as a nation: So do not be idolaters (εἰδωλολάτραι, a form of εἰδωλολάτρης), as some of them were.  As it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”  And let us not be immoral (πορνεύωμεν, another form of πορνεύω), as some of them were (ἐπόρνευσαν, another form of πορνεύω), and twenty-three thousand died in a single day.[18]  Rather than thinking of it as an abbreviated version of the law it would be far more charitable to assume that sexualized worship was what James had in mind at the Jerusalem Council:

Jesus (NET)

Parallel Greek James (NET)

Parallel Greek

…to commit sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols…

Revelation 2:20b

πορνεῦσαι καὶ φαγεῖν εἰδωλόθυτα …to abstain from things defiled by idols and from sexual immorality and from what has been strangled and from blood…

Acts 15:20

ἀπέχεσθαι τῶν ἀλισγημάτων τῶν εἰδώλων καὶ τῆς πορνείας (a form of πορνεία) καὶ |τοῦ| πνικτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος
…that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality…

Acts 15:29a

ἀπέχεσθαι εἰδωλοθύτων (another form of εἰδωλόθυτον) καὶ αἵματος καὶ πνικτῶν καὶ πορνείας (a form of πορνεία)

I want to substitute a more literal understanding of ὁμολογεῖ (a form of ὁμολογέω) translated confesses and confess respectively in 1 John 4:1-3 (NET):

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that [speaks the same as] Jesus as the Christ who has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not [speak the same as] Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now is already in the world.

To that extent that the religious mind encourages us to reform our own behavior rather than to rely on the fruit of the Holy Spirit, it is the spirit of antichrist no matter how well-intentioned the mouthpiece. Suspicious of the Gospel I tried to be good first to prove that I was, failing that, I tried because “God will get you if you don’t watch out.”  My fear was flight from rather than toward God.  And yet, in that dark foreboding I became most aware of His forgiveness and patience.  Paul put it this way for Timothy (1 Timothy 1:15, 16 NET):

This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them!  But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life.

Amanda Bynes delivers one of the funniest and most poignant lines in the movie Easy A: “Jesus tells us to love everyone.  I mean, even the whores and the homosexuals, but it’s just so hard.  It’s so hard because they keep doing it over and over again.”  An attitude of forgiveness toward others flows from the love that comes from the Holy Spirit.  Still, Jesus said, the one who is forgiven little loves little.[19] One who is forgiven much is forgiven often for the same offense, sometimes many more than seven times a day.  And that experience is far more persuasive than any threat (Matthew 18:34, 35 NET):

And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture [the unforgiving slave] until he repaid all he owed.  So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart.

In that sacred space of loving forgiveness the truth began to dawn on me that not only the desire and effort were God’s but the fulfillment of his desire and his effort was his as well, the kingdom, the power and the glory.  I’ll substitute the same literal understanding I used above for ὁμολογήσῃς (another form of ὁμολογέω) translated confess, and ὁμολογεῖται (another form of ὁμολογέω) translated confesses in Romans 10:9, 10 (NET):

…if you [speak the same as Jesus] with your mouth that Jesus is Lord[20] [e.g., yehôvâh as opposed to a Lord or Sir] and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness [πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην; literally, “believes unto righteousness”] and with the mouth one [speaks the same as Jesus] and thus has salvation [ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν; literally, “speaks the same as Jesus unto salvation”].

 

[1] Matthew 19:4 (NET)

[2] Romans 1:27 (NET)

[3] Hebrews 13:4 (NET)

[4] Leviticus 18:22a (NET)

[5] Leviticus 18:8 (NET)

[6] 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NET)

[7] Acts 15:10 (NET)

[8] Romans 3:22 (NET)

[9] Romans 13:10b (NET)

[10] Romans 3:31 (NET)

[11] Matthew 5:32 (NAB)

[12] Romans 11:32 (NET)

[13] Romans 3:19 (NET)

[14] Ezra 9:15 (NET)

[15] Psalm 46:10 (NET)

[16] John 3:7 (NET)

[17] Romans 8:14 (NET)

[18] 1 Corinthians 10:7, 8 (NET)

[19] Luke 7:47b (NET)

[20] NET note 10: Or “the Lord.” The Greek construction, along with the quotation from Joel 2:32 in v. 13 (in which the same “Lord” seems to be in view) suggests that κύριον (kurion) is to be taken as “the Lord,” that is, Yahweh. Cf. D. B. Wallace, “The Semantics and Exegetical Significance of the Object-Complement Construction in the New Testament,” GTJ 6 (1985): 91-112.

Romans, Part 78

And do this because we know the time[1]  The words because we know are a way the NET translators translated the Greek word εἰδότες (a form of εἴδω; also, 2 Corinthians 5:11).  They translated it because youknow (Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:24; 1 Peter 5:9), when you didknow (Galatians 4:8), and we know (1 Thessalonians 1:4).  More often than not εἰδότες occurs in the New Testament as εἰδότες ὅτι; because is a legitimate translation of ὅτι.

Greek

NET

References

εἰδότες ὅτι because they knew that Luke 8:53
εἰδότες ὅτι because they knew John 21:12
εἰδότες ὅτι knowing that Romans 5:3; 1 Corinthians 15:58
εἰδότες ὅτι we know that Romans 6:9; 2 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 2:16
εἰδότες ὅτι because we know that 2 Corinthians 1:7
εἰδότες ὅτι because we know 2 Corinthians 4:14
εἰδότες ὅτι because you know that Ephesians 6:8; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:24; Colossians 4:1; James 3:1
εἰδότες ὅτι because they know that Philippians 1:16
εἰδότες ὅτι you know that 1 Peter 1:18

So I question the wisdom of translating εἰδότες “as a causal adverbial participle” (NET note 11), adding because when ὅτι is not present.  But I question even more the wisdom of translating nothing, no Greek word at all, as do (NET note 10).  That one word shifts the focus of the text from the phenomenal revelation that love is the fulfillment of the law[2] to a list of works that I must do.  The verse continues, [because (ὅτι)] it is already the hour for us to awake from sleep.[3]

The word translated us is ὑμᾶςyou.  So Paul was very direct:  And this, he wrote highlighting and accentuating that love is the fulfillment of the law, knowing the time, because it is already the hour for you to awake from sleep… and one extraneous word turned my attention from God reconciling the world to himself in Christ, from the power of his resurrection, from the fruit of his Holy Spirit to my own puny efforts to do rules, to love like God in my own strength.

I’m not angry with the NET translators, I’m grateful.  Their footnotes, revealing their thought processes, have disabused me of my notion that Bible translators are something more than human beings doing the best they can—given their beliefs.  I didn’t even read the NET back when I had most of my difficulties.  I read the NASB and then the NIV.

NASB

NIV

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now [a] salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.

Romans 13:11

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

Romans 13:11

The NIV has no footnote here.  My NASB fell apart years ago, but it has the telltale italics.  Do in italics didn’t alert my Bible-believing heart to dig deeper, not like a footnote did (10): “Grk ‘and this,’ probably referring to the command to love (13:8-10); hence, ‘do’ is implied from the previous verses.”  Unless, of course, one believes that Paul and the Holy Spirit intended to accentuate the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise, as it pertains to the law, through faith rather than works (Matthew 5:17-20 NET):

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, Paul wrote believers in Rome, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believedThe night has advanced toward dawn; the day is near.  So then we must lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the weapons of light.  Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy.[4]

The Greek word translated darkness is σκότους (a form of σκότος).  Paul wrote believers in Ephesus, for you were at one time darkness (σκότος), but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of the light – for the fruit (καρπὸς) of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth – trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  Do not participate in the unfruitful (ἀκάρποις, a form of ἄκαρπος) deeds of darkness (σκότους, a form of σκότος), but rather expose them.  For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention.  But all things being exposed by the light are made evident.  For everything made evident is light, and for this reason it says: “Awake, O sleeper!  Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!”[5]

To the Romans Paul stressed carousing and drunkenness…sexual immorality and sensuality…discord and jealousy as works of darkness.  The list stressed in Ephesians included sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greedvulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting.[6]  But I don’t think I’m stretching his words at all to include 1) attempts to be righteous by obeying rules in one’s own strength, or 2) attempts to share credit for the fruit of the Spirit, among the unfruitful deeds of darkness.  For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness,[7] Paul summed up the righteousness of the Pharisees.  He wrote believers in Philippi, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness.[8]

The Greek work translated light in the phrase weapons of light is φωτός (a form of φῶς).  Jesus is the light (John 1:6-9 NET):

A man came, sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify about the light (φωτός, a form of φῶς), so that everyone might believe through him.  He himself was not the light (φῶς), but he came to testify about the light (φωτός, a form of φῶς).  The true light (φῶς), who gives light (φωτίζει, a form of φωτίζω) to everyone, was coming into the world.

Instead, put on (ἐνδύσασθε, a form of ἐνδύω) the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires,[9] Paul concluded.  Here the new human is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20, 21 NET):

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

I’ll conclude this essay by quoting from four commentaries.  My purpose is to show the decline in enthusiasm for the power of God’s love as a function of time.  First, Matthew Henry (1662-1714):

Love intends and designs no ill to any body, is utterly against the doing of that which may turn to the prejudice, offence, or grief of any. It worketh no ill that is, it prohibits the working of any ill: more is implied than is expressed it not only worketh no ill, but it worketh all the good that may be, deviseth liberal things. For it is a sin not only to devise evil against thy neighbour, but to withhold good from those to whom it is due both are forbidden together, Proverbs 3:27-29. This proves that love is the fulfilling of the law, answers all the end of it for what else is that but to restrain us from evil-doing, and to constrain us to well-doing? Love is a living active principle of obedience to the whole law. The whole law is written in the heart, if the law of love be there.

Second, John Gill (1697-1771):

therefore love is the fulfilling of the law: so far as a man loves his neighbour, he acts agreeably to the law, and the particular precepts of it above mentioned: what the apostle says of love to the neighbour, the Jews frequently say of love to God; “he that loveth God (they sayF4) מקיים עשר אמירן, “hath fulfilled the decalogue”, both above and below.  And againF5, “there is no service like the love of God, R. Abba saith it is כללא דאורייתא, “the sum of the law”; for the ten words of the law הכא אתכלילו, “are herein comprehended”, or “fulfilled”:’ and elsewhereF6 they observe, “that כל התורה כלולה באהבה, “the whole law is comprehended”, or fulfilled “in love”.’

Third, Albert Barnes (1798-1870):

Therefore … – “Because” love does no harm to another, it is “therefore” the fulfilling of the Law, implying that all that the Law requires is to “love” others.

Is the fulfilling – Is the “completion,” or meets the requirements of the Law. The Law of God on this “head,” or in regard to our duty to our neighbor, requires us to do justice toward him, to observe truth, etc. “All” this will be met by “love;” and if people truly “loved” others, all the demands of the Law would be satisfied.

Of the law – Of the Law of Moses, but particularly the Ten Commandments.

Fourth, the Pulpit Commentary (1884):

From specific admonitions on this subject, the apostle passes naturally to the principle which, in these regards as well as others, should inspire all our dealings with our fellow-men. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another (literally, the other, meaning the same as his neighbour) hath fulfilled law. νόμον here is anarthrous, denoting law in general, not the Mosaic Law in particular, though the instances of transgression that follow are from the Decalogue. The idea of the passage is but a carrying out of our Lord’s saying, Matthew 22:39, Matthew 22:40. We find it also in Galatians 5:14 more shortly expressed. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended (or, summed up) in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of law.

No one mentioned the fruit of the Spirit directly, that this is God’s love rather than ours.  But from Matthew Henry’s “more is implied than is expressed [love] not only worketh no ill, but it worketh all the good that may be” to the Pulpit Commentary’s assessment that love is a “principle which…should inspire all our dealings with our fellow-men,” confidence in the love that God has in us took a nose dive in about two centuries.  Listen to John (1 John 4:16, 17 NET):

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in (ἐν) us.  God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him.  By this [e.g., God’s residence, his possession of us through the Holy Spirit] love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world.

Romans, Part 79

[1] Romans 13:11a (NET)

[2] Romans 13:10 (NET)

[3] Romans 13:11b (NET)

[4] Romans 13:11b-13 (NIV)

[5] Ephesians 5:8-14 (NET)

[6] Ephesians 5:3, 4 (NET)

[7] Romans 10:3 (NET)

[8] Philippians 3:8b, 9 (NET)

[9] Romans 13:14 (NET)

Romans, Part 57

In this essay I’m looking at the aftermath of Jesus feeding five thousand plus people in the light of his assessment of the Jewish leaders (Ἰουδαῖοι, a form of Ἰουδαῖος)[1] as an answer to how the Father seeking his own is not self-seeking.  And ultimately it is a continuing part of my attempt to view—Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord[2]—as a definition of love (ἀγάπη) rather than as rules.  Matthew and Mark end this thread of their narratives focused on people who did not eat from the five loaves and two fish.

Matthew

Mark

After they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret.  When the people there recognized him, they sent word into all the surrounding area, and they brought all their sick to him.  They begged him if they could only touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Matthew 14:34-36 (NET)

After they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and anchored there.  As they got out of the boat, people immediately recognized Jesus.  They ran through that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever he was rumored to be.  And wherever he would go – into villages, towns, or countryside – they would place the sick in the marketplaces, and would ask him if they could just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Mark 6:53-56 (NET)

John grappled with the more distressing story of many who did eat from the five loaves and two fish (John 6:22-24 NET).

The next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the lake realized that only one small boat had been there, and that Jesus had not boarded it with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone.  But some boats from Tiberias came to shore near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.  So when the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”[3]

Jesus didn’t answer their question.  Instead He said to those who were part of the crowdfollowing him because they were observing the miraculous signs he was performing on the sick,[4] who saw the miraculous sign that Jesus performed, [and] began to say to one another, “This is certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world,”[5] who were going to come and seize him by force to make him king:[6] I tell you the solemn truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs (σημεῖα, a form of σημεῖον), but because you ate all the loaves of bread you wanted.[7]

They didn’t argue with Him about it.  In fact, they said something a bit later that confirms his assessment of their motives.[8]  And I’m reminded of Mark’s Gospel narrative, they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.[9]  Who and what did they believe instead of Jesus?

I’ll hazard a guess that they were afraid (ἐφοβοῦντο, a form of φοβέω) of the Jewish (Ἰουδαίους, a form of Ἰουδαῖος) religious leaders.  For the Jewish leaders (Ἰουδαῖοι, another form of Ἰουδαῖος) had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.[10]  We are disciples of Moses, the Ἰουδαῖοι said.  We know that God has spoken to Moses!  We do not know where this man comes from![11]

Jesus didn’t walk into anyone’s place of employment, interrupt him and say, Do not work for the food that disappears.  Instead, He said it to those who had spent their time, their effort and their money to follow Him not because [they] saw miraculous signs, but because [they] ate all the loaves of bread [they] wanted: Do not work for the food that disappears, but for the food that remains to eternal life – the food which the Son of Man will give to you.  For God the Father has put his seal of approval on him.[12]

I played the organ, and sometimes the piano, at a downtown mission the summer after I got my driver’s license.  The man who ran the mission was a nice enough guy in everyday life but an angry[13] preacher.  I felt sorry for the homeless men, sometimes a few women, sitting through that angry tirade everyday for the free meal that followed.  But as I look at it in this light, maybe they got what they paid for, indigestion.

Those who followed Jesus not because [they] saw miraculous signs, but because [they] ate all the loaves of bread [they] wanted seemed to grasp his meaning when He told them to work for the food that remains to eternal life.

What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?[14] they asked.

This is the deed God requires, Jesus answered, to believe in the one whom he sent.[15]

They understood that Jesus claimed to be the one God sent: Then what miraculous sign will you perform, so that we may see it and believe you?  What will you do?[16]  Here they unmasked themselves, for they already had a sign in mind.  Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written,He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’[17]  In other words, give us more free food and we’ll believe you.

I’m going to hazard another guess that what they really wanted wasn’t free food.  What they really wanted was confirmation of their own goodness and acceptability in God’s sight (Deuteronomy 28:12, 13 NET):

The Lord will open for you his good treasure house, the heavens, to give you rain for the land in its season and to bless all you do; you will lend to many nations but you will not borrow from any.  The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always end up at the top and not at the bottom, if you obey his commandments which I am urging you today to be careful to do.

Let me put this back in perspicuous form:  If you obey his commandments, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail.  If you obey his commandments, you will always end up at the top and not at the bottom.  Those who followed Jesus not because [they] saw miraculous signs, but because [they] ate all the loaves of bread [they] wanted didn’t feel like they were the head, at the top, under Roman rule.  It was a jarring, glaring, living example of denying the consequent, modus tollens, a deductively valid argument that they were not obeying the Lord’s commandments.  And it wasn’t from a lack of trying.  That needs to be clearly understood.

The Jewish Encyclopedia online defines Zealots (Hebrew, Ḳanna’im) as follows: “Zealous defenders of the Law and of the national life of the Jewish people; name of a party opposing with relentless rigor any attempt to bring Judea under the dominion of idolatrous Rome, and especially of the aggressive and fanatical war party from the time of Herod until the fall of Jerusalem and Masada. The members of this party bore also the name Sicarii, from their custom of going about with daggers (‘sicæ’) hidden beneath their cloaks, with which they would stab any one found committing a sacrilegious act or anything provoking anti-Jewish feeling.”[18]

“This unfailing ‘zeal for the Law’ became the standard of piety in the days of the Maccabean struggle against the Hellenizers. Thus it is asserted that when Mattathias slew the Jew whom he saw sacrificing to an idol, ‘he dealt zealously for the law of God, as did Phinehas[19] unto Zimri the son of Salu’; and Mattathias’ claim of descent from Phinehas implies that, like the latter, he obtained for his house the covenant of an everlasting priesthood (I Macc. ii. 24, 26, 54).”[20]

“‘Ḳanna’im’ was the name for those zealous for the honor and sanctity of the Law as well as of the sanctuary, and for this reason they at first met with the support and encouragement of the people and of the Pharisaic leaders, particularly those of the rigid school of Shammai.[21] It was only after they had been so carried away by their fanatic zeal as to become wanton destroyers of life and property throughout the land that they were denounced as heretic Galileans (Yad. iv. 8) and ‘murderers’ and that their principles were repudiated by the peace-loving Pharisees.”[22]

Jesus’ disciples were steeped in this milieu.  Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?[23]  This question was foremost in their minds moments before Jesus’ ascension.  And Jesus’ response to his faithful followers was, You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you[24]

So Jesus instructed them to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit, the source of the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control[25] that is the fulfillment of the law.[26]  Jesus was focused on the work his Father had sent Him to accomplish (Matthew 5:17-20 NET):

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

So how did Jesus respond to those who followed Him not because [they] saw miraculous signs, but because [they] ate all the loaves of bread [they] wanted?

I tell you the solemn truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but my Father is giving you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God (ἄρτος τοῦ θεοῦ) is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.[27]

Give us today our daily bread (ἄρτον, a form of ἄρτος).[28]  I wouldn’t alter the translation but it’s important to realize that as I pray this I’m asking, Give us today our daily Jesus, the fruit of his Spirit.  Sir (κύριε, a form of κύριος), give us this bread all the time,[29] those who followed Jesus not because [they] saw miraculous signs, but because [they] ate all the loaves of bread [they] wanted said.

Outwardly, they appeared to be doing right, following Jesus.  They said the right words: Sir (literally, Lord), give us this bread all the time.  The note in the NET reads: “The Greek κύριος (kurios) means both ‘Sir’ and ‘Lord.’ In this passage it is not at all clear at this point that the crowd is acknowledging Jesus as Lord. More likely this is simply a form of polite address (‘sir’).”  And I agree, for when Jesus clearly identified Himself as the ἄρτος τοῦ θεοῦ saying, I am the bread of life (ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος τῆς ζωῆς),[30] they began complaining about him.[31]

I am the bread of life.  The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty.  But I told you that you have seen me and still do not believe.  Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.  Now this is the will of the one who sent me – that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise them all up at the last day.  For this is the will of my Father – for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.[32]

Then the Jews who were hostile to Jesus (Ἰουδαῖοι, a form of Ἰουδαῖος) began complaining about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven…”[33]  The note in the NET reads: “Grk ‘Then the Jews.’ In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory, the authorities in Jerusalem, or merely those who were hostile to Jesus…Here the translation restricts the phrase to those Jews who were hostile to Jesus (cf. BDAG 479 s.v. ᾿Ιουδαῖος 2.e.β), since the ‘crowd’ mentioned in 6:22-24 was almost all Jewish (as suggested by their addressing Jesus as ‘Rabbi’ (6:25). Likewise, the designation ‘Judeans’ does not fit here because the location is Galilee rather than Judea.”

Yes, I get it.  The Jews who responded to Jesus this way were hostile or hardened.  There were other Jews who were not so hostile, who had heard and learned from the Father.[34]  But I think another important point that John and the Holy Spirit have made here is that it was “Jewishness” that began complaining about him because he said…  It was the religious mind, and the religious mind comes in many flavors, even scientific, even atheist, even Christian flavors.

Romans, Part 58

[1] John 5:16-47 (NET) Now because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders (Ἰουδαῖοι) began persecuting him (verse 16).

[2] Romans 12:11 (NET)

[3] John 6:25 (NET)

[4] John 6:2 (NET)

[5] John 6:14 (NET)

[6] John 6:15 (NET)

[7] John 6:26 (NET)

[8] John 6:31 (NET)

[9] Mark 6:52 (NET)

[10] John 9:22 (NET)

[11] John 9:28b, 29 (NET)

[12] John 6:27 (NET)

[13] James 1:20; 3:17, 18 (NET)

[14] John 6:28 (NET)

[15] John 6:29 (NET)

[16] John 6:30 (NET)

[17] John 6:31 (NET)

[18] Kaufmann Kohler  http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/15185-zealots

[19] Numbers 25 (NET)

[20] Kaufmann Kohler  http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/15185-zealots

[21] An interesting insight on Paul: http://readingacts.com/2011/09/07/paul-at-the-feet-of-gamaliel/  In my zeal for God I persecuted the church (Philippians 3:6a NET).

[22] Kaufmann Kohler  http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/15185-zealots

[23] Acts 1:6 (NET)

[24] Acts 1:7, 8a (NET)

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

[26] Romans 13:10b (NET)

[27] John 6:32, 33 (NET)

[28] Matthew 6:11 (NET)

[29] John 6:34 (NET)

[30] John 6:35a (NET)

[31] John 6:41a (NET)

[32] John 6:35-40 (NET)

[33] John 6:41 (NET)

[34] John 6:45