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 77

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.[1]  Even the King James translators rendered it, Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.[2]  This has never quite meant what kings hoped, nor was it a call to political revolution.  The Greek word translated governing or higher is ὑπερεχούσαις (a form of ὑπερέχω).  More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,[3] Paul wrote believers in Philippi.  The phrase the far greater value is ὑπερέχον (another form of ὑπερέχω) in Greek.  Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.[4]  Here as more important is ὑπερέχοντας (another form of ὑπερέχω).  And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.[5]  Here that surpasses is ὑπερέχουσα (another form of ὑπερέχω).

Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, Peter wrote, whether to a king as supreme (ὑπερέχοντι, another form of ὑπερέχω) or to governors as those he commissions to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do good.[6]  Peter’s writing was not as nuanced as Paul’s.  In my opinion the translators don’t help Peter here: for the Lord’s sake is διὰ τὸν κύριον.  The more literal translation is “through the Lord.”  Peter, through the Lord, led by the Holy Spirit did not behave as he wrote.  He behaved more like Paul wrote (Acts 5:27-29 NET):

When they had brought [Peter and the apostles], they stood them before the council, and the high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name.  Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!”  But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people…

At the same time, however, Peter and the apostles did not think their loyalty to God exempted them from the wrath of the human authorities (Acts 5:40-42 NET):

…they [the human authorities] summoned the apostles and had them beaten.  Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.  So they [Peter and the apostles] left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.  And every day both in the temple courts and from house to house, they [Peter and the apostles] did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the Christ.

For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, Paul continued, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.[7]  I would think—οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ—is something more like, “for no authority exists if not under God,” and—αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν—“these moreover exist under God’s active ordering.”  This may seem difficult to believe at times but God is always doing more than we see.  Paul wrote believers in Ephesus (Ephesians 3:7-12 NET):

I became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the exercise of his power.  To me – less than the least of all the saints – this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ and to enlighten everyone about God’s secret plan – a secret that has been hidden for ages in God who has created all things.  The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities (ἐξουσίαις, a form of ἐξουσία) in the heavenly realms (ἐπουρανίοις).  This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ’s faithfulness.

I think this is a continuation of Paul’s treatise on Lovewithout hypocrisy because only the Holy Spirit can lead us here.  No rule-based belief system can tell anyone authoritatively in real time when to submit to the commands of human authorities and when to reverently decline, fully accepting the consequences imposed by the human authorities that have been instituted by GodSo the person who resists such authority, Paul continued, resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment[8]  Though the human authorities of the moment are instituted and ordained by God I don’t think one can infer their goodness in any objective sense (Acts 1:6-8 NET):

So when they had gathered together, they began to ask him, “Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”  He told them, “You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority (ἐξουσίᾳ, another form of ἐξουσία).  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”

Paul wrote specifically about the Roman government.  Most in Israel who hoped for the Messiah hoped He would overthrow Roman rule, but Jesus said, My kingdom is not from this world.[9]  And before the Holy Spirit was given He said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat.  Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it.  But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach.  They 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.”[10]  Those called to resist specific commands of human authorities know what it means to be considered as sheep to be slaughtered (Romans 8:35-37 NET):

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!

They also experience that complete victory through him who loved us.  But none of us is called to pugnacity.  Paul continued, (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad).  Do you desire not to fear authority?  Do good and you will receive its commendation, for it is God’s servant for your good.[11]  The good we are to do is good relative to the human authorities understanding of good (when it does not conflict with God’s).  Paul specified: pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing.  Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.[12]  And the good the authorities do for us is a peaceful and quiet life (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NET):

First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority (ὑπεροχῇ, a form of ὑπεροχή), that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

But if you do wrong, Paul continued, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain.  It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer.[13]  Again, I think this wrong is wrong as the human authorities perceive it.  I do not believe that God expects, or relies on, Gentile human authorities to punish all sins against his law.  Paul continued (Romans 13:5-10 NET):

Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience.  For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing.  Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.  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.

So I have bookends distinguishing the beginning—Love…without hypocrisy—and the ending—love is the fulfillment of the law—of Paul’s definition, amplification or explanation of love in his letter to believers in Rome.  And this love is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit.  I turn now to be subject (ὑποτασσέσθω, a form of ὑποτάσσω) and subjection (ὑποτάσσεσθαι, another form of ὑποτάσσω).

We are given one glimpse into Jesus as a child.  By age twelve he was a precocious spiritual prodigy. But when He realized how upset his parents were he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient (ὑποτασσόμενος, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to them.[14]  This behavior is not natural to the old human, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit (ὑποτάσσεται, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.[15]  For the creation was subjected (ὑπετάγη, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to futility – not willingly but because of God who subjected (ὑποτάξαντα, another form of ὑποτάσσω) it – in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.[16]  For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit (ὑπετάγησαν, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to God’s righteousness.[17]

Jesus did not ignore the righteousness that comes from God.  He is the first new human (1 Corinthians 15:20-28 NET):

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man.  For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him.  Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be eliminated is death.  For he has put everything in subjection (ὑπέταξεν, another form of ὑποτάσσω) under his feet.  But when it says “everything” has been put in subjection (ὑποτέτακται, another form of ὑποτάσσω), it is clear that this does not include the one who put everything in subjection (ὑποτάξαντος, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to him.  And when all things are subjected (ὑποταγῇ, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to him, then the Son himself will be subjected (ὑποταγήσεται, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to the one who subjected (ὑποτάξαντι, another form of ὑποτάσσω) everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

Paul encouraged us to submit (ὑποτάσσησθε, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to people like the household of Stephanus, that as the first converts of Achaiadevoted themselves to ministry for the saints, and to everyone who cooperates in the work and labors hard.[18]  He encouraged believers in Ephesus to be filled by the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and submitting (Υποτασσόμενοι, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to one another out of reverence for Christ.[19]

Slaves are to be subject (ὑποτάσσεσθαι, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to their own masters in everything, Paul wrote Titus, to do what is wanted and not talk back, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, in order to bring credit to the teaching of God our Savior in everything.[20]  I benefited greatly from this encouragement during my most recent job change.  My employer subcontracted my work to another company and I was sent to that company also.  I was so grateful to have a job I failed to fully appreciate how I was foisted on the owner of the subcontracting company.  But over time my new employer’s attitude has moderated and he seems happy to have me as an employee.  I work hard when I am working.  I study the Bible when I am off.  And I am paid every two weeks regardless.

Married women are called to submit to one other human authority.  Paul wrote Titus to have older women teach younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject (ὑποτασσομένας, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited.[21]  When men attempt to teach this it sounds like man-made rules for women to obey.  But this is not law.  Rather it is part of the loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, Holy-Spirit-controlled righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ produced in believing wives by the Holy Spirit.

Preach the Gospel
Peter wrote, wives, be subject (ὑποτασσόμεναι, another form of ὑποτάσσω) to your own husbands.  Then, even if some are disobedient to the word, they will be won over without a word by the way you live, when they see your pure and reverent conduct.[22]  This is an example to us all.  We have convinced a world of sinners that we want to impose arcane and archaic rules on them while the truth is: sinners have no share in our righteousness.  It is the gift of God by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to all who believe.

A youth group in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport wore these shirts.  I asked one of their leaders to pose for this photograph.

Romans, Part 78

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 1

[1] Romans 13:1a (NET)

[2] Romans 13:1a (KJV)

[3] Philippians 3:8a (NET)

[4] Philippians 2:3 (NET)

[5] Philippians 4:7 (NET)

[6] 1 Peter 2:13, 14 (NET)

[7] Romans 13:1b (NET)

[8] Romans 13:2 (NET)

[9] John 18:36a (NET)

[10] Matthew 23:1-4 (NET)

[11] Romans 13:3, 4a (NET)

[12] Romans 13:6, 7 (NET)

[13] Romans 13:4b (NET)

[14] Luke 2:51a (NET)

[15] Romans 8:7 (NET)

[16] Romans 8:20, 21 (NET)

[17] Romans 10:3 (NET)

[18] From 1 Corinthians 16:15, 16 (NET)

[19] Ephesians 5:18b-21 (NET)

[20] Titus 2:9, 10 (NET)

[21] Titus 2:4, 5 (NET)

[22] 1 Peter 3:1, 2 (NET)

Romans, Part 55

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Mark Luke

John

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

Matthew 14:13a (NET)

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

Mark 6:30-32 (NET)

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

Luke 9:10 (NET)

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

John 6:1 (NET)

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

 Matthew 14:13b (NET)

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

Mark 6:33 (NET)

But when the crowds found out, they followed him.

Luke 9:11a (NET)

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

John 6:2 (NET)

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

Matthew

Mark

Luke

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

Matthew 14:14 (NET)

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

Mark 6:34 (NET)

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

Luke 9:11b (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Mark

Luke

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

Matthew 14:15, 16 (NET)

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

Mark 6:35-37a (NET)

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

Luke 9:12, 13a (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus the Leg-breaker, Part 1

Romans, Part 56

Back to Romans, Part 57

Back to Romans, Part 58

Back to Romans, Part 60

Back to Romans, Part 70

Back to Romans, Part 73

Back to Romans, Part 78

Back to Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited – Part 1

Back to Romans, Part 85

Back to To Make Holy, Part 2

Back to Who Am I? Part 7

Back to Romans, Part 88

[1] Romans 12:11 (NET)

[2] John 1:19 (NET)

[3] John 4:9b (NET)

[4] John 5:10  (NET)

[5] Romans 3:20a (NET)

[6] Romans 10:3a (NET)

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

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

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

[10] John 5:46 (NET)

[11] Genesis 1:1 (NET)

[12] Genesis 2:4 (NET)

[13] John 8:58 (NET)

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

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

[16] John 1:14 (NET)

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

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

[19] 2 Timothy 3:5 (NET)

[20] John 4:34 (NET)

[21] John 4:32 (NET)

[22] John 6:3 (NET)

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

Romans, Part 54

To continue my attempt to view—Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord[1]—as a definition of love (ἀγάπη) rather than as rules, I’ll turn to the next item on the table I constructed: Love is…not self-serving[2] (οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ ἑαυτῆς; literally, “not seek itself”).

If someone owns a hundred sheep, Jesus said, and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go look for (ζητεῖ, a form of ζητέω) the one that went astray?[3] He made it clear He was not talking only about sheep and shepherds.  Looking at children, He added, In the same way, your Father in heaven is not (οὐκ, a form of οὐ; the absolute negation[4]) willing (θέλημα) that one of these little ones be lost[5] (ἀπόληται, a form of ἀπόλλυμι).  This is Jesus’ expression of David’s confidence, Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days[6]

Still, I began to wonder in what sense the Father seeking his own was not self-serving or love seeking itself. I found a satisfying distinction in the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand men plus women and children.

Matthew

Mark Luke

John

Now when Jesus heard [about John the Baptist’s death] he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place.

Matthew 14:13a (NET)

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

Mark 6:30-32 (NET)

When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done.  Then he took them with him and they withdrew privately to a town called Bethsaida.[7]

Luke 9:10 (NET)

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee[8] (also called the Sea of Tiberias).

John 6:1 (NET)

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John took pains to place the story in space and time. In Matthew’s Gospel narrative Jesus went to an isolated place after He heard of John the Baptist’s death.[9] John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it and went and told Jesus.[10]  Mark pointed out that this coincided with the return of the twelve,[11] the apostles Jesus had sent out two by two.  The purpose of this trip was rest and relaxation for the twelve and perhaps a moment for Jesus to grieve over the beheading of his cousin.  Luke added the destination, Bethsaida, and John added the body of water traversed, the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberias).

John didn’t mention the apostles’ return (or that they were sent out for that matter). John didn’t make much of John the Baptist’s death.  He was still alive in chapter three[12] and spoken of in the past tense in chapter five.[13]  John set the story conceptually, if you will.

The fifth chapter of John’s Gospel account begins with a curious healing. A man lay by a pool in Jerusalem, believing apparently that if he were first to enter its waters after they were stirred up[14] (ταραχθῇ, a form of ταράσσω) he would be healed.  At least, that’s how his answer to Jesus question— Do you want to become well?[15]—sounds to me.[16]  Jesus healed him apparently by simple command (John 5:8, 9 NET):

Jesus said to him, “Stand up!  Pick up your mat and walk.”  Immediately the man was healed, and he picked up his mat and started walking.  (Now that day was a Sabbath.)

Perhaps I should see this as a living expression of God’s grace as totally unmerited favor, but I can’t help but see Jesus as provocateur here, since the most important part of this story is the parenthetical—Now that day was a Sabbath.

When the religious leaders saw the man walking carrying his mat on the Sabbath, they said, “It is the Sabbath, and you are not permitted (οὐκ ἔξεστιν) to carry your mat.”[17]

“The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”[18]

“Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?”[19]

The man didn’t know Jesus, nor could he point Him out, since He had slipped out[20] among the crowd gathered in Jerusalem for a Jewish feast.[21]  After this Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “Look, you have become well. Don’t sin any more, lest anything worse happen to you.”  The man went away and informed the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Now because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began persecuting him.[22]

John had a long lifetime to consider with the Holy Spirit what Jesus had said and done before he wrote his Gospel narrative. He related this story of the healing of a man by a command to break the Sabbath (as the religious authorities interpreted the Law) a man so ignorant of Jesus he could not even implicate Him when the religious authorities questioned him.  So Jesus met him again in the temple, all to orchestrate an opportunity for Jesus to say to the religious authorities, My Father is working until now, and I too am working.[23]

The religious authorities reacted exactly as one would expect religious authorities to react when confronted with a knowledge of God superior to their own, if the religious authorities in question were self-serving rather than God-serving: For this reason the Jewish leaders were trying even harder to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal with God.[24]

Jesus had a lot more to say to these religious authorities (John 5:19-23 NET):

I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing.  For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.  For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds 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.  Furthermore, the Father does not judge (κρίνει, a form of κρίνω) anyone, but has assigned all judgment (κρίσιν, a form of κρίσις) to the Son, so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

I can do nothing more than listen to Yahweh come in human flesh speaking to religious authorities, THE religious authorities of the only religion ever authorized by the One living and true God (John 5:24-30 NET):

I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned (εἰς κρίσιν οὐκ ἔρχεται; literally, “into judgment is not coming”), but has crossed over from death to life.  I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming (ἔρχεται) – and is now here – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.  For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment (κρίσιν, a form of κρίσις), because he is the Son of Man.

Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming (ἔρχεται) when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out – the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation (κρίσεως, a form of κρίσις, or, judgment).  I can do nothing on my own initiative.  Just as I hear, I judge (κρίνω), and my judgment (κρίσις) is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me.

Here is a powerful clue to the meaning of a love that is not self-seeking: I do not seek (ζητῶ, another form of ζητέω) my own will (θέλημα), but the will (θέλημα) of the one who sent me.  Jesus continued speaking to the religious authorities (John 5:31-40 NET):

If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true.  There is another who testifies about me [the Father, I assume], and I know the testimony he testifies about me is true.  You have sent to John [the Baptist], and he has testified to the truth [John 1:19-37].  (I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved.)  He was a lamp that was burning and shining, and you wanted to rejoice greatly for a short time in his light.

But I have a testimony greater than that from John.  For the deeds that the Father has assigned me to complete – the deeds I am now doing – testify about me that the Father has sent me.  And the Father who sent me has himself testified about me.  You people have never heard his voice[25] nor seen his form at any time, nor do you have his word residing in you, because you do not believe the one whom he sent.  You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me, but you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.

I’ll take a moment to highlight what Jesus said about the authorities of the only God-ordained religion on the planet:

1) You people have never heard his voice nor seen his form at any time, nor do you have his word residing in you, because you do not believe the one whom he sent.  Contrast this to his words to Philip, John 14:8-14.

2) You study the scriptures thoroughlyit is these same scriptures that testify about me, but you are not (οὐ, the absolute negation) willing (θέλετε, a form of θέλω) to come to me so that you may have life.  This is utterly self-serving. For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, Paul wrote, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.[26]

Jesus concluded his discourse with the religious authorities (John 5:41-47 NET):

I do not accept praise from people, but I know you, that you do not have the love of God within you.  I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me.  If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.  How can you believe, if you accept praise from one another and don’t seek the praise that comes from the only God?

Do not suppose that I will accuse you before the Father.  The one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope.  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.  But if you do not believe what Moses wrote, how will you believe my words?

Here I’ll add a third item to the list:

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

In this light I’ll continue to look into the feeding of the five thousand men plus women and children in the next essay.

Romans, Part 55

Back to Romans, Part 79

[1] Romans 12:11 (NET)

[2] 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NET)

[3] Matthew 18:12b (NET)

[4] I will leave it to others to debate whether the Father’s unwillingness was limited only to the children present at the time and place Jesus spoke.

[5] Matthew 18:14 (NET)

[6] Psalm 23:6a (NET)

[7] http://bibleatlas.org/bethsaida.htm

[8] http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/sea-of-galilee.html

[9] John 14:10, 11 (NET)

[10] Matthew 14:12 (NET)

[11] Mark 6:7-13 (NET)

[12] John 3:22-36 (NET)

[13] John 5:31-36 (NET)

[14] John 5:7 (NET)

[15] John 5:6 (NET)

[16] The explanation given in the KJV (John 5:4)—For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had—has been rejected as not original to the text by most contemporary Bible scholars.

[17] John 5:10 (NET)

[18] John 5:11 (NET)

[19] John 5:12 (NET)

[20] John 5:13 (NET)

[21] John 5:1 (NET)

[22] John 5:14-16 (NET)

[23] John 5:17 (NET)

[24] John 5:18 (NET)

[25] The Father’s voice, that is: Exodus 20:1, 19; Deuteronomy 4:12; 5:24.  I assume the voice they heard was Yahweh’s, the Son.

[26] Romans 10:3 (NET)

Son of God – 1 John, Part 3

Dear friends, John wrote to fellow believers, let us love (ἀγαπῶμεν, a form of ἀγαπάω)[1] one another, because love (ἀγάπη)[2] is from God, and everyone who loves (ἀγαπῶν, another form of ἀγαπάω) has been fathered (γεγέννηται, a form of γεννάω)[3] by God and knows (γινώσκει, a form of γινώσκω)[4] God.[5]  John used the word ἀγαπῶμεν over and over again in his letters to describe this love (ἀγάπη).

For this is the gospel message that you have heard from the beginning: that we should love (ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους) one another[6]  We know that we have crossed over from death to life because we love (ὅτι ἀγαπῶμεν τοὺς ἀδελφούς) our fellow Christians.[7]  Little children, let us not love (μὴ ἀγαπῶμεν λόγῳ μηδὲ τῇ γλώσσῃ) with word or with tongue but in deed and truth.[8]  Now this is his commandment: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love (καὶ ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους) one another, just as he gave us the commandment.[9]  No one has seen God at any time.  If we love (ἐὰν ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους) one another, God resides in us, and his love (ἀγάπη) is perfected in us.[10]  We love (ἡμεῖς ἀγαπῶμεν) because he loved (ἠγάπησεν, another form of ἀγαπάω) us first.[11]  By this we know that we love (ὅτι ἀγαπῶμεν τὰ τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ) the children of God: whenever we love (ὅταν τὸν θεὸν ἀγαπῶμεν καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ ποιῶμεν) God and obey his commandments.[12]  But now I ask you, lady (not as if I were writing a new commandment to you, but the one we have had from the beginning), that we love (ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους)[13] one another.[14]

This love (ἀγάπη) is from God,[15] not from us.  It is the love (ἀγάπη) that does no wrong to a neighbor, and the love (ἀγάπη) that is the fulfillment of the law.[16]  It is the love (ἀγάπη) that is patient, the love (ἀγάπη) that is kind, and the love (ἀγάπη) that does not brag.[17]  It is the love (ἀγάπη) that never ends as opposed to prophecies, tongues and knowledge that will be set aside.[18]  It is one of the three that remain along with faith and hope, but the greatest of these is love (ἀγάπη).[19]  It is the love (ἀγάπη) of Christ[20] that controls (συνέχει, a form of συνέχω)[21] us,[22] and it is the love that holds the preeminent place in the fruit of his Spirit: But 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.[23]

John emphasized, everyone who loves has been fathered (γεγέννηται, a form of γεννάω) by God and knows (γινώσκει, a form of γινώσκω) God.[24]  The person who does not love (ἀγαπῶν, another form of ἀγαπάω) me, Jesus said, does not obey (τηρεῖ, a form of τηρέω)[25] my words.  And the word you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.[26]  And Paul wrote, the one who loves (ἀγαπῶν, another form of ἀγαπάω) his neighbor has fulfilled the law.[27]

This love is the natural (e.g., super-natural) state of those born (γεννηθῇ, another form of  γεννάω) from above,[28] born (γεννηθῇ) of water and spirit,[29] not born (ἐγεννήθησαν, another form of  γεννάω) by human parents (οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων, literally, “not out of blood”) or by human desire (οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκὸς, literally, “neither out from the will of the flesh”) or a husband’s decision (οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος ἀνδρὸς, literally, “neither out from the will of a husband”), but by God (ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν, literally, “but out from God born”).[30]

If you know (εἰδῆτε, a form of εἴδω)[31] that he is righteous, John wrote, you also know (γινώσκετε, another form of γινώσκω) that everyone who practices righteousness has been fathered (γεγέννηται) by him.[32]  Everyone who has been fathered (γεγεννημένος, another form of γεννάω) by God does not practice sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered (γεγέννηται) by God.[33]  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered (γεγέννηται, a form of γεννάω) by God[34]

I am the good shepherd, Jesus said.  I know (γινώσκω) my own and my own know (γινώσκουσι, another form of γινώσκω) me – just as the Father knows (γινώσκει, another form of γινώσκω) me and I know (γινώσκω) the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.[35]  And John added, The person who does not love (ἀγαπῶν, another form of ἀγαπάω) does not know (ἔγνω, another form of γινώσκω) God, because God is love (ἀγάπη).[36]  The point here is not for me to act like a hypocrite and turn Paul’s definition of  ἀγάπη into a list of rules I strive to obey to con people into believing that I have been fathered by God.  The point is for me to believe Him and receive all that He has given to me in Christ.

By this the love (ἀγάπη) of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him.  In this is love (ἀγάπη): not that we have loved (ἠγαπήκαμεν, another form of ἀγαπάω) God, but that he loved (ἠγάπησεν, another form of ἀγαπάω) us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.[37]

Dear friends (Ἀγαπητοί, a form of ἀγαπητός),[38] John continued, if God so loved (ἠγάπησεν, another form of ἀγαπάω) us, then we also ought to love (ἀγαπᾶν, another form of ἀγαπάω) one another.  No one has seen God at any time.  If we love (ἀγαπῶμεν, another form of ἀγαπάω) one another, God resides in us, and his love (ἀγάπη) is perfected in us.[39]  Once again, lest I stray into hypocrisy believing that this ἀγάπη originates with me so that I may prove that God resides in me, John made it plain.  By this we know (γινώσκομεν, another form of γινώσκω) that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit,[40] both gifts and fruit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world,[41] i.e., through his ἀγάπη (God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him).

Then John connected knowing and believing this ἀγάπη with confessing that Jesus is the Son of God:  If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God resides in him and he in God.  And we have come to know (ἐγνώκαμεν, another form of γινώσκω) and to believe (πεπιστεύκαμεν, a form of πιστεύω)[42] the love (ἀγάπην, another form of ἀγάπη) that God has in us.[43]  I began this study of the Son of God because I was curious[44] how Peter, James and John followed through on Jesus’ command to tell (after his resurrection)[45] about the vision when a voice from the cloud said, “This is my one dear Son, in whom I take great delight.  Listen to him!”[46]

Peter obeyed Jesus’ command to the letter.  He recounted the story of the transfiguration.[47]  But John wrote more in the spirit of Jesus’ command about the Son of God and all that meant.  From the very beginning of his ministry Paul proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God: For several days [Paul] was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “This man is the Son of God.”[48]  And the writings of John and Paul most vividly portray the truth, And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us.  I can’t say much about Peter’s knowledge or faith, but his writing did not convey this same knowledge and faith in God’s love.

You have not seen him, Peter wrote, but you love (ἀγαπᾶτε, a form of ἀγαπάω) him.  You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith – the salvation of your souls.[49]  This sounds like my feeling for Jesus rather than his ἀγάπη in usYou have purified your souls by obeying the truth, Peter continued, in order to show sincere mutual love (φιλαδελφίαν, a form of φιλαδελφία).[50]  So love (ἀγαπήσατε, a form of ἀγαπάω) one another earnestly from a pure heart.[51]  This sounds like our love for each other.  Perhaps brotherly affection and ἀγάπη were essentially interchangeable in the Greek language when Peter wrote.  But this usage doesn’t indicate any appreciation for the meaning that Paul ascribed to the ἀγάπη from God, or that John carried forward in his Gospel and letters.

Peter continued to make brotherly affection equivalent to ἀγάπη.  Honor all people, love (ἀγαπᾶτε, a form of ἀγαπάω) the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.[52]  Above all keep your love (ἀγάπην, a form of ἀγάπη) for one another fervent, because love (ἀγάπη) covers a multitude of sins.[53]  The love in this quotation of Proverbs 10:12 was φιλία[54] in the Septuagint not ἀγάπη.  And Peter used ἀγάπη to describe a religious rite: Greet one another with a loving (ἀγάπης, a form of ἀγάπη) kiss.[55]

He did grant some ascendency to ἀγάπη over φιλαδελφίᾳ (brotherly affection) when he wrote, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection (φιλαδελφίαν, a form of φιλαδελφίᾳ); to brotherly affection (φιλαδελφίᾳ), unselfish love (ἀγάπην, a form of ἀγάπη).[56]  But while I was busy adding all of these things to my faith I failed to understand that God’s divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.[57]  Or I thought the rich knowledge of the one who called us and the key to this life and godliness was the law.  

In other words I mistook the knowledge of sin[58] for the knowledge of God,[59] that intimate form of knowing alluded to in Romans 7:4, God is ἀγάπη,[60] ἀγάπη is from God,[61] and ἀγάπη is the fulfillment (πλήρωμα;[62] fulfilling KJV) of the law.[63]  Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets, Jesus said.  I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill (πληρῶσαι, a form of πληρόω)[64] them.[65]  Apart from Paul’s and John’s writings I never would have understood that this ἀγάπη from God was the fruit of the Spirit, and, in a word, the credited righteousness of God.

God is love, John wrote, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him.  By this 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.  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.[66]  For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments do not weigh us down, because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world.  This is the conquering power that has conquered the world: our faith [i.e., in Him, yes, and in this love (ἀγάπην, another form of ἀγάπη) that God has in us].  Now who is the person who has conquered the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?[67]

If we accept the testimony of men, John continued, the testimony of God is greater [referring, I think, to the vision of the transfiguration], because this is the testimony of God that he has testified concerning his Son.  (The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has testified concerning his Son.)[68]  And this is the testimony… And here, I think, John made the ἀγάπη from God functionally equivalent[69] to the life that is eternal (Love never ends).[70]  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  The one who has the Son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life.  I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.[71]

And finally having received this ἀγάπη from God (Give us today our daily bread[72]):  We know that everyone fathered by God does not sin, but God protects the one he has fathered, and the evil one (πονηρὸς, a form of πονηρός)[73] cannot touch him.  [And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (πονηροῦ, another form of πονηρός).[74]]  We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (πονηρῷ, another form of πονηρός).  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us insight to know him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.  This one is the true God and eternal life.  Little children, guard yourselves from idols.[75]

It takes a religious mind to be in close proximity to this ἀγάπη from God and yet reject it for the self-aggrandizing vindication of religious works.  For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.[76]  I’ve been there, and I’ve done that.

I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! – 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.  My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.[77]

Back to Everyone Fathered by God Does Not Sin 

Back to Romans, Part 46

Back to The Righteousness of God

Back to Fear – Exodus, Part 9

Back to Torture, Part 2

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 3

Back to Conclusion


[5] 1 John 4:7 (NET)

[6] 1 John 3:11 (NET)

[7] 1 John 3:14 (NET)

[8] 1 John 3:18 (NET)

[9] 1 John 3:23 (NET)

[10] 1 John 4:12 (NET)

[11] 1 John 4:19 (NET)

[12] 1 John 5:2 (NET)

[13] Why was “should” inserted into 1 John 3:11 (NET)? …that we should love one another… (ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους).  1 John 4:19 (NET) We love because he loved us first (ἡμεῖς ἀγαπῶμεν, ὅτι αὐτὸς πρῶτος ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς).  1 John 5:2 (NET) By this we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and obey his commandments (ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἀγαπῶμεν τὰ τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅταν τὸν θεὸν ἀγαπῶμεν καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ ποιῶμεν).

[14] 2 John 1:5 (NET)

[15] 1 John 4:7 (NET)

[16] Romans 13:10 (NET)

[17] 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NET)

[18] 1 Corinthians 13:8 (NET)

[19] 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NET)

[20] NET note: “The phrase ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Jh agaph tou Cristou, “the love of Christ”) could be translated as either objective genitive (‘our love for Christ’) or subjective genitive (‘Christ’s love for us’). Either is grammatically possible, but with the reference to Christ’s death for all in the following clauses, a subjective genitive (‘Christ’s love for us’) is more likely.”

[22] 2 Corinthians 5:14 (NET)

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

[24] 1 John 4:7 (NET)

[26] John 14:24 (NET)

[27] Romans 13:8 (NET)

[28] John 3:3 (NET)

[29] John 3:5 (NET)

[30] John 1:13 (NET)

[32] 1 John 2:29 (NET)

[33] 1 John 3:9 (NET)

[34] 1 John 5:1a (NET)

[35] John 10:14, 15 (NET)

[36] 1 John 4:8 (NET)

[37] 1 John 4:9, 10 (NET)

[39] 1 John 4:11, 12 (NET)

[40] 1 John 4:13 (NET)

[41] 1 John 4:14 (NET)

[43] 1 John 4:15, 16 (NET)

[46] Matthew 17:5 (NET)

[47] 2 Peter 1:16-18

[48] Acts 9:19b, 20 (NET)

[49] 1 Peter 1:8, 9 (NET)

[51] 1 Peter 1:22 (NET)

[52] 1 Peter 2:17 (NET)

[53] 1 Peter 4:8 (NET)

[55] 1 Peter 5:14a (NET)

[56] 2 Peter 1:5-7 (NET)

[57] 2 Peter 1:3 (NET)

[61] 1 John 4:7 (NET); love comes from God (CEV, GWT, ISVNT, TEV, TMSG); love has its origin in God (MSNT), Greek: ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν (“because this love [1) out of, from, by, away from] the God is”)

[65] Matthew 5:17 (NET)

[66] 1 John 4:16b-19 (NET)

[67] 1 John 5:3-5 (NET)

[68] 1 John 5:9, 10 (NET)

[71] 1 John 5:11-13 (NET)

[72] Matthew 6:11 (NET)

[74] Matthew 6:13 (NET)

[75] 1 John 5:18-21 (NET)

[76] Romans 10:3 (NET)

[77] Philippians 3:8-11 (NET)

Son of God – 1 John, Part 2

Who is the liar but the person who denies (ἀρνούμενος, a form of ἀρνέομαι)[1] that Jesus is the Christ?  This one is the antichrist: the person who denies (ἀρνούμενος, a form of ἀρνέομαι) the Father and the Son.[2]  This is one of the things John wrote to his contemporaries about those who are trying to deceive you.[3]

It is interesting that this became a problem among believers after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, after those in Israel who rejected Jesus as Christ (or, Messiah) were compelled to accept Him as a credible prophet: Now while some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and offerings, Jesus said, “As for these things that you are gazing at, the days will come when not one stone will be left on another.  All will be torn down!”[4]  And, I tell you the truth, not one stone will be left on another.  All will be torn down![5] All will be torn down![6]

Believers were not particularly troubled by the unbelief of enemies of the Gospel (enemies for your [believers’] sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers[7]) so long as the enemies defamed the Lord Jesus and threatened and harmed his followers.  The trouble began when the enemies softened their approach, accepted Jesus as a prophet, even a good man—but not the Messiah, not the Christ.

John continued: Everyone who denies (ἀρνούμενος, a form of ἀρνέομαι) the Son [i.e., denies that the Son is the Christ] does not have the Father either.  The person who confesses the Son has the Father also.  As for you, what you have heard from the beginning must remain in you.  If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.[8]  For John, what you have heard from the beginning was the Gospel, and he had written more about it previously, or perhaps it was more warning about those who are trying to deceive you (1 John 2:12, 13 NET):

I am writing to you, little children, that your sins have been forgiven because of his name.  I am writing to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning.  I am writing to you, young people, that you have conquered the evil one (πονηρόν, a form of πονηρός).[9]

The note on the evil one in the NET reads: “The phrase the evil one is used in John 17:15 as a reference to Satan. Satan is also the referent here and in the four other occurrences in 1 John (2:14; 3:12; 5:18, 19).”  But in the definition of πονηρός they effectively acknowledge that they added the word one because the nominative case in Matthew 6:13 means “‘The Evil,’ and is probably referring to Satan.”

I think this is too limiting in both verses.  When I pray, And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil (πονηροῦ, another form of πονηρός),[10] I am not praying to be delivered from Satan only, but from the meaningless deeds that are 1) full of labours, annoyances, and hardships; from being 1a) pressed and harassed by those labours; I pray to be delivered from 1b) this time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness that causes so much pain and trouble;  to be delivered from everything 2) bad, or of a bad nature or condition; from 2a) disease or blindness; as well as from that which is 2b) evil or wicked.

Likewise I believe that John wrote to young people that you have conquered the evil (πονηρόν, a form of πονηρός); not Satan only, but the meaningless deeds that are 1) full of labours, annoyances, and hardships; they are not 1a) pressed and harassed by those labours; they have overcome 1b) this time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness that causes so much pain and trouble; they have conquered everything 2) bad, or of a bad nature or condition; 2a) disease or blindness; as well as that which is 2b) evil or wicked.  John continued (1 John 2:14 NET):

I have written to you, children, that you have known the Father.  I have written to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning.  I have written to you, young people, that you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil (πονηρόν, a form of πονηρός)…

I fantasize sometimes what the world might be like if young people were taught that they are strong, and the word of God resides in them, that they have conquered the evil, and how all of this is true in Christ through his Holy Spirit, rather than being taught the rules their elders have devised for them.  In my mother’s day the path of righteousness was that girls shouldn’t wear lipstick.  My mother and her contemporaries religiously put on their lipstick every Sunday morning, some even refreshed it in the pew during the service.  In my day the path of righteousness was not listening to rock music.  Most of my contemporaries attend churches that rock.  Why not try John’s approach?  Could it be any worse?

At best these rules are equivalent to gezerot.  A gezerah (singular of gezerot) according to the online Jewish Encyclopedia was a “rabbinical enactment issued as a guard or preventive measure….The Rabbis based their institution of such enactments upon the Biblical passages, ‘Thou shalt not depart from the sentence,’ etc. (Deut. xvii. 11), although at the same time they transgressed another commandment: ‘Ye shall not add unto the word which I command thee, neither shall ye diminish from it’ (Deut. iv. 2; Shab. 23a; Ab. R. N. 25b).”[11]  Perhaps any particular “preventive measure” was a good idea at a particular time in a particular place.  But gezerot are not the Gospel.

The first gezerah followed swiftly after God’s first prohibition: The Lord God planted an orchard in the east, in Eden; and there he placed the man he had formed.  The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow from the soil, every tree that was pleasing to look at and good for food.  (Now the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the orchard.)…The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it.[12]

God’s Prohibition

Eve’s Knowledge of God’s Prohibition

Then the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.”

Genesis 2:16, 17 (NET)

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the orchard; but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it, or else you will die.’”

Genesis 3:2, 3 (NET)

The circumstantial evidence points to Adam as the originator of the first gezerah, and you must not touch it.  It sounds like a good idea.  “If you don’t touch it, Eve, you won’t eat it and you won’t die—whatever that means.”  But in practice when Eve touched it she did not die—whatever that means.  She saw with her own eyes that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, and it was attractive to the eye.[13]  She had the serpent’s assurance that she would not die—whatever that means—and that God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open and you will be like divine beings who know good and evil.[14]

If I take the sequence of events recorded in Genesis literally, after she took some of its fruit and ate it nothing happened, neither the serpent’s promise nor God’s.  After all, God’s prohibition was given to Adam.  Eve was created afterward.  Perhaps it was reasonable for Adam to assume that God’s prohibition applied also to his wife, but nothing happened until Eve also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked.[15]  I sincerely doubt that realizing she was naked was the wisdom Eve desired.[16]

So the Lord God expelled [Adam] from the orchard in Eden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken.  When he drove the man out, he placed on the eastern side of the orchard in Eden angelic sentries who used the flame of a whirling sword to guard the way to the tree of life.[17]  Adam and Eve and all their descendants will surely die.  Perhaps Adam and Eve understood death when, The Lord God made garments from skin for [them], and clothed them.[18]  If not, they certainly understood it about a century later[19] when their firstborn Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.[20]  But I want to remove the serpent from the equation for a moment.

If I suppose that the serpent did not persuade Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and Eve did not persuade Adam, and if Adam raised his sons to stand guard over the tree of the knowledge of good and evil like the angelic sentries guarded the way to the tree of life, if they, or we to this very day, faithfully kept Adam’s gezerah not to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, would that be the righteousness of God?  My answer is an unequivocal, “No.”  It would simply mean that tanks and machine guns and the fear of death had kept us from sinning against Adam’s gezerah, which only incidentally also kept us from violating God’s prohibition.

So at worst gezerot when practiced promote actions that ignore the righteousness that comes from God, and [seeks] instead to establish [one’s] own righteousness.[21]  It is a catastrophe if those who believe and practice them do not submit to God’s righteousness.  For Christ is the end (τέλος;[22] “the end to which all things relate, the aim, purpose”) of the law, with the result that there is righteousness for everyone who believes.[23]  This people honors me with their lips, Jesus said, but their heart is far from me, and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.[24]  As a teaching practice gezerot are sin relative to the Gospel.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness, John continued, indeed, sin is lawlessness.  And you know that Jesus was revealed to take away (ἄρῃ, a form of αἴρω) sins[25]  John also used ἄρῃ in his Gospel account.  After Jesus died Joseph of Arimatheaasked Pilate if he could remove (ἄρῃ, a form of αἴρω) the body of Jesus.[26]  So as Joseph sought to take away the body of Jesus from the cross, Jesus was revealed to take away (ἄρῃ) sins from us, and in him there is no sin, John continued.  Everyone who resides in him does not sin; everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him.  Little children, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Jesus is righteous.  The one who practices sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.[27]

But there is still hope: For this purpose the Son of God was revealed: to destroy the works of the devil.[28]  Jesus was still revealed to take away even the sin of rejecting his righteousness for our own gezerotEveryone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God.  By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone who does not practice righteousness – the one who does not love his fellow Christian (ἀδελφὸν, a form of ἀδελφός)[29] – is not of God.[30]

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth.  And by this we will know that we are of the truth and will convince our conscience in his presence, that if our conscience condemns us, that God is greater than our conscience and knows all things.  Dear friends, if our conscience does not condemn us, we have confidence in the presence of God, and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing to him.  Now this is his commandment: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he gave us the commandment.  And the person who keeps his commandments resides in God, and God in him.  Now by this we know that God resides in us: by the Spirit he has given us.[31]

I included the Greek text of Jesus’ quote from Isaiah for completeness.

Jesus

Septuagint

Parallel Greek Text – NET

This people honors me with their lips,but their heart is far from me, and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

Matthew 15:8, 9 (NET)

ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσιν αὐτῶν[32] τιμῶσίν[33] με ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ μάτην[34] δὲ σέβονταί με διδάσκοντες ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων καὶ διδασκαλίας

Isaiah 29:13

ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσιν με τιμᾷ,[35]ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ᾿ ἐμοῦ μάτην δὲ σέβονται μεδιδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων

Matthew 15:8, 9

Translation from a contemporary understanding of ancient Hebrew

These people say they are loyal to me; they say wonderful things about me, but they are not really loyal to me.  Their worship consists of nothing but man-made ritual.[36]

Isaiah 29:13 (NET)

 

Addendum (7/15/2015): Jim Searcy has published that the Septuagint is a hoax written by Origen and Eusebius 200 hundred years or so after Christ.  “In fact, the Septuagint ‘quotes’ from the New Testament and not vice versa…”  His contention is that the “King James Version is the infallible Word of God.”  So, I’ll re-examine the quotations above with the KJV.

Jesus

KJV

Parallel Greek Text – NET

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Matthew 15:8, 9 (KJV)

Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

Isaiah 29:13

ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσιν με τιμᾷ, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ᾿ ἐμοῦ μάτην δὲ σέβονται μεδιδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων

Matthew 15:8, 9

If as Jim Searcy claimed the Septuagint was written after the New Testament, But in vain (μάτην δὲ) was not a part of Isaiah’s original prophecy as Jesus claimed.  Rather, Jesus added it on the spot.

Son of God – 1 John, Part 3

Back to Fear – Exodus, Part 6

Back to Antichrist, Part 5

Back to My Reasons and My Reason, Part 4

Back to Prayer


[2] 1 John 2:22 (NET)

[3] 1 John 2:26 (NET)

[4] Luke 21:5, 6 (NET)

[5] Matthew 24:2 (NET)

[6] Mark 13:2 (NET)

[7] Romans 11:28 (NET)

[8] 1 John 2:23, 24 (NET)

[10] Matthew 6:13 (NET)

[12] Genesis 2:8, 9, 15 (NET)

[13] Genesis 3:6a (NET)

[14] Genesis 3:5 (NET)

[15] Genesis 3:6b-7a (NET)

[16]the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise… (Genesis 3:6a NET)

[17] Genesis 3:23, 24 (NET)

[18] Genesis 3:21 (NET)

[19] Genesis 4:25; 5:3

[20] Genesis 4:8 (NET)

[21] Romans 10:3a (NET)

[23] Romans 10:3b, 4 (NET)

[24] Matthew 15:8, 9 (NET)

[25] 1 John 3:4, 5a (NET)

[26] John 19:38a (NET)

[27] 1 John 3:5b-8 (NET)

[28] 1 John 3:8b (NET)

[30] 1 John 3:9, 10 (NET)

[31] 1 John 3:18-24 (NET)

[36] NET note: “Heb ‘their fear of me is a commandment of men that has been taught.’”

Romans, Part 39

Paul wrote that the Lord richly blesses all who call (ἐπικαλουμένους, a form of ἐπικαλέομαι)[1] on him.[2]  When he was sent by the Lord to Paul (then called Saul) Ananias said, Lord, I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem, and here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call on (ἐπικαλουμένους, a form of ἐπικαλέομαι) your name![3]  As Paul [Saul] began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “This man is the Son of God (υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ).”  All who heard him were amazed and were saying, “Is this not the man who in Jerusalem was ravaging those who call on (ἐπικαλουμένους, a form of ἐπικαλέομαι) this name, and who had come here to bring them as prisoners to the chief priests?”[4]

For everyone who calls (ἐπικαλέσηται, another form of ἐπικαλέομαι) on the name of the Lord will be saved,[5] Paul continued in Romans, quoting the same verse from the prophet Joel that Peter quoted in his first sermon on Pentecost.[6]  Then he asked a series of rhetorical questions:  How are they to call on (ἐπικαλέσωνται, another form of ἐπικαλέομαι) one they have not believed in (ἐπίστευσαν, a form of πιστεύω)?[7]  And how are they to believe (πιστεύσωσιν, another form of πιστεύω) in one they have not heard of (ἤκουσαν, a form of ἀκούω)?[8]  And how are they to hear (ἀκούσωσιν, another form of ἀκούω) without someone preaching (κηρύσσοντος, a form of κηρύσσω)[9] to them?  And how are they to preach (κηρύξωσιν, another form of κηρύσσω) unless they are sent (ἀποσταλῶσιν, a form of ἀποστέλλω)?[10]

To put this back into temporal order: 1) The Lord sent Apostles to preach.  2) The Apostles preached to those who heard.  3) Those who heard believed.  4) Those who believed called on the name of the Lord.  5) [E]veryone who calls (ἐπικαλέσηται, another form of ἐπικαλέομαι) on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Then Paul capped off this section with what has always sounded to me like a eulogy of the Apostles’ feet, but the NET translators cracked the idiom and present it as a eulogy of God’s timing: How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.[11]   But I think to really grasp what Paul was wrestling with I have to add another step, his assumption that 6) all Israel will be saved, as it is written[12]

But not all have obeyed (ὑπήκουσαν, a form of ὑπακούω)[13] the good news,[14] Paul continued.    To translate ὑπήκουσαν obeyed here, disrupts the obvious flow of Paul’s thought.  Paul referred back to step 3) above, And how are they to believe (πιστεύσωσιν, another form of πιστεύω) in one they have not heard of (ἤκουσαν, a form of ἀκούω)?  Here are the possible definitions of ὑπήκουσαν in the NET online Bible: “1) to listen, to harken 1a) of one who on the knock at the door comes to listen who it is, (the duty of a porter) 2) to harken to a command 2a) to obey, be obedient to, submit to.”  I think Paul deliberately equated ὑπήκουσαν with ἤκουσαν.  But not all have [listened to] the good news, for Isaiah says,Lord, who has believed (ἐπίστευσεν, another form of πιστεύω) our report (ἀκοῇ, a form of ἀκοή)?”[15]

Consequently faith (πίστις)[16] comes from what is heard (ἀκοῆς, another form of ἀκοὴ), Paul continued, and what is heard (ἀκοὴ) comes through the…word (ρήματος, a form of ῥῆμα)[17] of Christ.[18]  I deliberately left out the word preached (preached word of Christ) because as I said elsewhere I believe that Paul meant something like what is heard comes through the word (or, utterance) of Christ (or, God).  The note in the NET reads: “The genitive could be understood as either subjective (‘Christ does the speaking’) or objective (‘Christ is spoken about’), but the latter is more likely here.”  And I am contending, more likely to whom? to Paul?

Two men heard the same Gospel preached by the same Apostle.  The πόρνος[19] believed.  The Pharisee did not.  It is common to assume that the difference was something intrinsic to the believer, some wisdom, some virtue.  After all we call the believer good and the unbeliever evil.  The good believe and are saved.  The evil do not believe and are not saved.  But Paul knew that he was not looking for Christ when he was arrested on the road to Damascus.  Christ’s salvation was what happened to him while he was busy making other plans.[20]

I don’t think Paul was looking to the human individual for a reason why some believe and some do not, but to God.  I think Paul wrote that faith comes from what is heard, the Gospel he preached, and what is heard comes through the…word of Christ, that is Christ (or God) saying something like, “hear…now.”  Perhaps this becomes clearer in the negative in the next chapter when Paul wrote about a remnant chosen by grace:[21]  The rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, to this very day.”[22]

The first thing that came to my mind when I began to hear Paul that way was, “Why does [God] still find fault?  For who has ever resisted his will?”[23]  Of course, Paul already knew my objection and countered it in the previous chapter (Romans 9:20-23 NET):

But who indeed are you – a mere human being – to talk back to God?  Does what is molded say to the molder, Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use?  But what if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction?  And what if he is willing to make known the wealth of his glory on the objects of mercy that he has prepared beforehand for glory…

But I ask, have they not heard (ἤκουσαν, a form of ἀκούω)?[24] Paul continued.  And his answer was, Yes, they have (μενοῦνγε),[25] in the sense that the message has gone out and they were “endowed with the faculty of hearing;” they were “not deaf.”  Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.[26]  But there are other meanings listed in the NET online Bible for ἤκουσαν:  “1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf 2) to hear 2b) to attend to, consider what is or has been said 2c) to understand, perceive the sense of what is said 3) to hear something 3a) to perceive by the ear what is announced in one’s presence 3b) to get by hearing learn 3c) a thing comes to one’s ears, to find out, learn 3d) to give ear to a teaching or a teacher 3e) to comprehend, to understand.”  I doubt that Paul meant definitions 2b) through 3e), with the possible exception of 3) and 3a).  What they lacked was that ρήματος Χριστοῦ (word of Christ)

But again I ask, didn’t Israel understand (ἔγνω, a form of γινώσκω)?[27]  First Moses says,I will make you jealous by those who are not a nation; with a senseless nation I will provoke you to anger.”  And Isaiah is even bold enough to say, I was found by those who did not seek me; I became well known to those who did not ask for me.”[28]  Here Paul allowed the expected negative response to his question to stand, and reinforced his first question:  Yes, they were told what to expect by Moses and Isaiah, but no, they did not understand the messageFor ignoring (ἀγνοοῦντες, a form of ἀγνοέω;[29] literally, being ignorant of) the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.[30]

But about Israel [Isaiah] says, Paul concluded, “All day long I held out my hands to this disobedient (ἀπειθοῦντα, a form of ἀπειθέω)[31] and stubborn (ἀντιλέγοντα, a form of ἀντίλεγω)[32] people![33]  I’ll conclude this essay with the definitions from the NET online Bible.

ἀπειθοῦντα: “1) not to allow one’s self to be persuaded 1a) to refuse or withhold belief 1b) to refuse belief and obedience 2) not to comply with.”

ἀντιλέγοντα: “1) to speak against, gainsay, contradict 2) to oppose one’s self to one, decline to obey him, declare one’s self against him, refuse to have anything to do with him.”

Romans, Part 40

Back to Romans, Part 13

Back to Son of God – John, Part 5

Back to Saving Demons, Part 1

Back to Romans, Part 49

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 4

 


[2] Romans 10:12b (NET)

[3] Acts 9:13, 14 (NET)

[4] Acts 9:20, 21 (NET)

[5] Romans 10:13 (NET)

[10] Romans 10:14, 15a (NET)

[11] Romans 10:15b (NET)

[12] Romans 11:26a (NET)

[14] Romans 10:16a (NET)

[15] Romans 10:16 (NET)

[18] Romans 10:17 (NET)

[22] Romans 11:7b, 8 (NET)

[23] Romans 9:19 (NET)

[24] Romans 10:18a (NET)

[25] NET Note: “Here the particle μενοῦνγε (menounge) is correcting the negative response expected by the particle μή (mh) in the preceding question. Since the question has been translated positively, the translation was changed here to reflect that rendering.”

[26] Romans 10:18b (NET)

[28] Romans 10:19, 20 (NET)

[30] Romans 10:3 (NET)

[33] Romans 10:21 (NET)

Romans, Part 37

Brothers and sisters, Paul continued, my heart’s desire (εὐδοκία)[1] and prayer to God on behalf of my fellow Israelites is for their salvation.[2]  This sounds to me like the justice Paul nagged the Lord about, something he would always pray and not lose heart[3] over.  But the Greek word translated desire leads rather inexorably to Jesus’ strange prayer of praise and the revelation of his Father’s gracious will:  I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed (ἀπεκάλυψας, a form of ἀποκαλύπτω)[4] them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will (εὐδοκία).[5]  I recognize the pattern:

MERCY

WRATH

So then, God has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy…

Romans 9:18 (NET)

…and he hardens whom he chooses to harden.

Romans 9:18 (NET)

[God] is willing to make known the wealth of his glory on the objects of mercy that he has prepared beforehand for glory

Romans 9:23 (NET)

God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction

Romans 9:22 (NET)

[Those] who did not pursue righteousness obtained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith

Romans 9:30 (NET)

[Those] even though pursuing a law of righteousness did not attain it….Because they pursued it not by faith but (as if it were possible) by works

Romans 9:31, 32 (NET)

[The] Lord of heaven and earth…[has] revealed [these things] to little children [KJV, babes]

Matthew 11:25 (NET)

[The] Lord of heaven and earth…[has] hidden these things from the wise and intelligent

Matthew 11:25 (NET)

So Jesus praised his Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, because his followers were neither wise nor intelligent, but like little children.  And little children might be overstating the case.  The Greek word νηπίοις[6] is a compound of νη (not) and ἔπος[7] (a word), not speaking, an infant.  But with that I begin to understand.  The wise and intelligent believe they know how, and expect, to do it for themselves.  Infants trust and expect someone who loves them to provide for them and, in fact, do it for them.

For I can testify that they are zealous for God, Paul continued, but their zeal is not in line with the truth (ἐπίγνωσιν, a form of ἐπίγνωσις).[8]  The word translated truth here was translated knowledge in, For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge (ἐπίγνωσιν) of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…[9]  This truth or knowledge is the noun form of the verb ἐπιγινώσκω.[10]  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, Jesus continued.  No one knows (ἐπιγινώσκει, a form of ἐπιγινώσκω) the Son except the Father, and no one knows (ἐπιγινώσκει, a form of ἐπιγινώσκω) the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides (βούληται, a form of βούλομαι)[11] to reveal (ἀποκαλύψαι, another form of ἀποκαλύπτω) him.[12]

For ignoring (ἀγνοοῦντες, a form of ἀγνοέω;[13] literally being ignorant of, not knowing, misunderstanding) the righteousness that comes from God, Paul continued, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.[14]  Even after saying that no one knows his Father except those to whom the Son decides to reveal him, Jesus offered to teach the wise and intelligent, the hardened objects of wrath prepared for destruction, saying: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened (πεφορτισμένοι, a form of φορτίζω),[15] 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.[16]  

I’m reminded of an old hymn[17] that begins, “Would you be free from the burden of sin?”  But I think in this case Jesus was addressing those who were weary and burdened pursuing a law of righteousness, seeking instead to establish their own righteousness.  They didn’t tend to think of themselves as having a burden of sin.  That was for others who didn’t work as hard as they did pursuing a law of righteousness.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load (φορτίον)[18] is not hard to carry,[19] Jesus concluded, relative to the load they were already carrying.

They tie up heavy loads (φορτία, a form of φορτίον), hard to carry, He said of the experts in the law and the Pharisees,[20] and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move (κινῆσαι, a form of κινέω) [or, remove][21]) them.[22]  Woe to you experts in religious law, Jesus said.  You load (φορτίζετε, another form of φορτίζω) people down with burdens (phortion, φορτίον; specifically φορτία) difficult to bear, yet you yourselves refuse to touch the burdens (φορτίοις, another form of φορτίον) with even one of your fingers!”[23]  

For Christ is the end (τέλος)[24] of the law, with the result that there is righteousness for everyone who believes,[25] Paul concluded.  I certainly don’t believe that it is necessary to interpret the word τέλος as a termination here, putting Paul into direct conflict with the Lord Jesus: 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.[26]  To interpret τέλος in the sense of aim or purpose of the law is much more in keeping with Paul’s own understanding that 1) the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good;[27] 2) he himself would not have known sin except through the law;[28] 3) though no one is declared righteous before [God] by the works of the law, the law has an ongoing usefulness in that through the law comes the knowledge of sin;[29] and 4) we do not nullify the law through faith; Instead we uphold the law.[30]

Romans, Part 38

Back to Romans, Part 39

Back to Fear – Exodus, Part 1

Back to Son of God – John, Part 4

Back to Romans, Part 46

Back to Saving Demons, Part 2


[2] Romans 10:1 (NET)

[3] Luke 18:1 (NET)

[5] Matthew 11:25, 26 (NET)

[8] Romans 10:2 (NET)

[9] Colossians 1:9 (NET)

[12] Matthew 11:27 (NET)

[14] Romans 10:3 (NET)

[16] Matthew 11:28, 29 (NET)

[17] “There Is Power in the Blood,” by Lewis E. Jones, 1899  http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/There_Is_Power_in_the_Blood/

[19] Matthew 11:30 (NET)

[20] Matthew 23:2 (NET)

[21] Therefore, remember from what high state you have fallen and repent!  Do the deeds you did at the first; if not, I will come to you and remove (κινήσω, another form of κινέω) your lampstand from its place – that is, if you do not repent. (Revelation 2:5 NET)

[22] Matthew 23:4 (NET)

[23] Luke 11:46 (NET)

[25] Romans 10:4 (NET)

[26] Matthew 5:18 (NET)

[27] Romans 7:12 (NET)

[28] Romans 7:7 (NET)

[29] Romans 3:20 (NET)

[30] Romans 3:31 (NET)

Romans, Part 36

What shall we say then? Paul continued, that the Gentiles who did not pursue (διώκοντα, a form of διώκω)[1] righteousness (δικαιοσύνην, a form of δικαιοσύνη)[2] obtained it (δικαιοσύνην, a form of δικαιοσύνη), that is, a righteousness (δικαιοσύνην, a form of δικαιοσύνη) that is by faith, but Israel even though pursuing (διώκων, another form of διώκω) a law of righteousness (δικαιοσύνης, another form of δικαιοσύνη) did not attain it.[3]  In other words, people who really worked at achieving righteousness by pursuing God’s law did not attain that righteousness, while people who did not pursue righteousness at all did attain it.

Isolated from any context, this sounds extraordinarily unfair.  But this decision was made so far beyond any judgment of mine regarding what is fair, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.[4]

When Rebekah had conceived children by one man, Paul had written earlier, our ancestor Isaac – even before they were born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose in election would stand, not by works [ἔργων, a form of ἔργον][5] but by his calling [καλοῦντος, a form of καλέω][6]) – it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger,” just as it is written:Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”[7]  Complaining about this is about as productive as complaining about who my parents were.  But just as God knows my parents and my upbringing, what advantages or debilities that afforded me, He knows who has received mercy and who He has hardened: God has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens (σκληρύνει, a form of σκληρύνω)[8] whom he chooses to harden.[9]

Why not? Paul continued.  Why didn’t Israel attain the righteousness they pursued by law?  Because they pursued it not by faith but (as if it were possible) by works (ἔργων, a form of ἔργον).[10]  Paul wasn’t writing about faith alone, dead faith that produces no works: So also faith, if it does not have works (ἔργα, another form of ἔργον), is dead being by itself.[11]  Instead he wrote of deeds that have been done in God through faith in His credited righteousness: For everyone who does evil deeds (φαῦλα, a form of φαῦλος),[12] Jesus said, hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds (ἔργα, another 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, another form of ἔργον) have been done in God.[13]

Israel did not attain righteousness because they pursued it by dead works, if you will, apart from faith in the righteousness that comes from God:  For ignoring the righteousness (δικαιοσύνην, a form of δικαιοσύνη) that comes from God, Paul wrote early in the next chapter, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, (δικαιοσύνην, a form of δικαιοσύνη) they did not submit to God’s righteousness (δικαιοσύνῃ, another form of δικαιοσύνη).[14]

One more point of clarification before moving on:  The Gentiles who did not pursue (διώκοντα, a form of διώκω) righteousness (δικαιοσύνην, a form of δικαιοσύνη) before Paul preached the Gospel to them, did pursue it afterward, but not a law of righteousness (except those he wrote to at Galatia and Colossae in order to correct that very error).  Paul’s instructions to the young Gospel preacher Timothy are helpful here: pursue (δίωκε, another form of διώκω) righteousness (δικαιοσύνη, a form of δικαιοσύνη) (e.g., the righteousness that comes from God), godliness, faithfulness (πίστιν, a form of πίστις),[15] love (ἀγάπην, a form of ἀγάπη),[16] endurance,[17] and gentleness (πραϋπαθίαν, a form of πρᾳότης);[18] and again, pursue (δίωκε, another form of διώκω) righteousness (δικαιοσύνην, a form of δικαιοσύνη), faithfulness (πίστιν, a form of πίστις), love (ἀγάπην, a form of ἀγάπη), and peace (εἰρήνην, a form of εἰρήνη),[19] in company with others who call on the Lord from a pure heart.[20]  I note again how much of this flows directly from the Holy Spirit: the fruit of the Spirit is love (ἀγάπη), joy, peace (εἰρήνη), patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (πίστις), gentleness (πραΰτης, a form of πραΰτης), and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.[21]

They stumbled over the stumbling stone, Paul wrote of those who pursued a law of righteousness, just as it is written,Look, I am laying in Zion a stone that will cause people to stumble and a rock that will make them fall, yet the one who believes in him will not be put to shame.[22]  I think it is worthwhile to unpack this a bit.  The first phrase is very reminiscent of Isaiah 28:16.

#

Paul (NET)

Blue Letter Bible (Septuagint)

NET Bible (Greek parallel text)

1

Look, I am laying in Zion a stone…

Romans 9:33

ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐμβαλῶ[23] εἰς τὰ θεμέλια[24] Σιων λίθον

Isaiah 28:16

ἰδοὺ τίθημι[25] ἐν Σιὼν λίθον

Romans 9:33

Look, I am laying a stone in Zion, Isaiah wrote, an approved stone, set in place as a precious cornerstone for the foundation…I will make justice the measuring line, fairness the plumb line…[26]  The rabbis who translated the Septuagint chose ἐγὼ ἐμβαλῶ (I throw) a stone, which is quite evocative of Moses and the stone tablets of the law: When he approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses became extremely angry.  He threw the tablets from his hands and broke them to pieces at the bottom of the mountain.[27]  Paul did not believe that the cornerstone for the foundation (θεμέλια) stone (λίθον, a form of λίθος) of Zion was the law.  He chose the word τίθημι (I will lay) instead.

For no one can lay (θεῖναι, a form of τίθημι) any foundation (θεμέλιον, another form of θεμέλιος) other than what is being laid, Paul wrote the Corinthians, which is Jesus Christ.[28]  And Jesus said, I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down (τίθημι) my life for the sheep…This is why the Father loves me – because I lay down (τίθημι) my life, so that I may take it back again.  No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down (τίθημι) of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down (θεῖναι, a form of τίθημι), and I have the authority to take it back again.[29]

Then Paul alluded to Isaiah 8:14—a stone that will cause people to stumble and a rock that will make them fall—but he didn’t quote from the Septuagint.  Indeed this is what the Lord told me, Isaiah wrote.  He took hold of me firmly and warned me not to act like these people (Isaiah 8:11-16 NET):

“Do not say, ‘Conspiracy,’ every time these people say the word.  Don’t be afraid of what scares them; don’t be terrified.  You must recognize the authority of the Lord who commands armies.  He is the one you must respect; he is the one you must fear.  He will become a sanctuary, but a stone that makes a person trip, and a rock that makes one stumble – to the two houses of Israel.  He will become a trap and a snare to the residents of Jerusalem.  Many will stumble over the stone and the rock, and will fall and be seriously injured, and will be ensnared and captured.”  Tie up the scroll as legal evidence, seal the official record of God’s instructions and give it to my followers.

So Paul equated the stone the Lord would lay and the stone He would become to Jacob (the two houses of Israel).  Did the translators of the Septuagint make this connection?  It’s hard to say.  They amended the text apparently to read, “and you shall not come against him as against a stumbling-stone, neither as against the falling of a rock.”[30]

Finally Paul concluded with, yet the one who believes in him will not be put to shame, which is quite similar to the end of Isaiah 28:16 in the Septuagint.

#

Paul (NET)

Blue Letter Bible (Septuagint)

NET Bible (Greek parallel text)

2

…yet the one who believes in him will not be put to shame

Romans 9:33

καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ[31]

Isaiah 28:16

καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται

Romans 9:33

The differences here are subtle.  The Septuagint “uses the stronger negation, οὐ μὴ, whereas the NT uses the more normal weaker negation of merely, ‘οὐ’.”[32]  The words καταισχυνθῇ and καταισχυνθήσεται are different forms of the same verb.  “Thus, the difference here is only in regards to the mood and tense of the verb, having the aorist form and subjunctive mood in the LXX [Septuagint] and the future form and indicative mood in the NT.  In the end since the subjunctive can be said to represent the verbal action (or state) as uncertain but probable (GGBB, 461), both Greek texts look forward to a future pleasant fulfillment for those who trust in him.  While the LXX’s subjunctive may be a bit weaker in force, do not forget the strong οὐ μὴ which precedes the subjunctive, thus putting away any doubt as to its completion.  Both Greek texts follow the MT equally as well, and the sense is not changed by this variation.”[33]

 

Addendum (6/20/2015): Jim Searcy has published that the Septuagint is a hoax written by Origen and Eusebius 200 hundred years after Christ.  “In fact, the Septuagint ‘quotes’ from the New Testament and not vice versa…”  His contention is that the “King James Version is the infallible Word of God.”  So, I’ll re-examine the quotations above with the KJV.

#

Paul (KJV)

KJV

NET Bible (Greek parallel text)

1

Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone…

Romans 9:33

Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone…

Isaiah 28:16

ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον προσκόμματος

Romans 9:33

I’ll leave it to others to reason why Origen or Eusebius changed τίθημι (I lay) to ἐμβαλῶ (I throw) in their false Septuagint rather than copying Paul here.

#

Paul (KJV)

KJV

NET Bible (Greek parallel text)

2

…and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Romans 9:33

…he that believeth shall not make haste.

Isaiah 28:16

καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται

Romans 9:33

The KJV here is similar to the NET: The one who maintains his faith will not panic.[34] If the original Hebrew read make haste or panic rather than be ashamed (καταισχυνθήσεται), I leave it to Mr Searcy or others to understand why Paul changed it and why Origen or Eusebius almost (καταισχυνθῇ) but not quite copied Paul.

Romans, Part 37

Paul’s OT Quotes – Romans 9:25-33

Back to Justice, Vengeance and Punishment

Back to Fear – Exodus, Part 3

Back to Romans, Part 43


[3] Romans 9:30, 31 (NET)

[4] Romans 9:16 (NET)

[7] Romans 9:10-12 (NET)

[9] Romans 9:18 (NET)

[10] Romans 9:32a (NET)

[11] James 2:17 (NET)

[13] John 3:20, 21 (NET)

[14] Romans 10:3 (NET)

[18] 1 Timothy 6:11b (NET)

[20] 2 Timothy 2:22 (NET)

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

[22] Romans 9:32b, 33 (NET)

[24] Suddenly a great earthquake occurred, so that the foundations (θεμέλια, a form of θεμέλιος) of the prison were shaken (Acts 16:26 NET).

[26] Isaiah 28:16a, 17a (NET)

[27] Exodus 32:19 (NET)

[28] 1 Corinthians 3:11 (NET)

[29] John 10:14, 15, 17, 18a (NET)

[34] Isaiah 28:16b (NET)

Jedidiah, Part 3

Apparently God sent Nathan to forgive David while David still believed he had gotten away with his cover up.  God was certainly overreaching the limits of our contract.  More to the point, probably, He was shattering and prying away the pieces of the hard shell my contract had become, a shell that was preventing me from knowing Him.  After I saw God’s overreaching with David, I saw it with Jesus and Peter, too (Luke 22:31-34 NET).

Simon, Simon, pay attention!  Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.  But Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death!”  And Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know me.”

Was I going completely nuts?  Or had Jesus covered for Peter by transmuting foreknowledge of Peter’s three strike denial into a prophetic utterance as sure and certain as any prophecy in Scripture?

Cleanse me of my sin! David’s song continued.  For I am aware of my rebellious acts; I am forever conscious of my sin.  Against you – you above all – I have sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.  So you are just when you confront me; you are right when you condemn me.[1]

Joshua said to Achan, My son, honor the Lord God of Israel and give him praise!  Tell me what you did; don’t hide anything from me![2]  David amplified how confession of sin honors and praises God:  The repentant sinner agrees with God and proclaims in effect, you are just when you confront me; you are right when you condemn me.  Paul quoted this same verse in his letter to the Romans, so that you will be justified (δικαιωθῇς, a form of δικαιόω)[3] in your words and will prevail when you are judged (κρίνεσθαι, a form of κρίνω[4]).[5]  Here again, Paul quoted from the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament completed about 200 years before the birth of Jesus, but Bible translators have preferred the Hebrew text since about the fifth century.  Below is a comparison of the text from Isaiah 51:4b in the Septuagint and the Greek text of Romans 3:4b used for the NET translation.

Blue Letter Bible (Septuagint)

NET Bible (Greek parallel text)

ὅπως ἂν δικαιωθῇς ἐν τοῖς λόγοις σου καὶ νικήσῃς[6] ἐν τῷ κρίνεσθαί σε

Isaiah 51:4b

οπως αν δικαιωθης εν τοις λογοις σου και νικησεις[7] εν τω κρινεσθαι σε

Romans 3:4b

I found a website by Bill Braun that is very helpful for these quotations from the Septuagint (except Acts).  He actually knows Greek, and wrote of these verses: “There is only one difference between the Greek texts.  This involves a change in the form of the verb νικάω.  The NT presents the verb in the future active indicative (νικήσεις), whereas the LXX uses the aorist active subjunctive form (νικήσῃς). This difference does not significantly effect the meaning of the passage.”

Though I haven’t read everything on his site yet, I get the impression that Mr. Braun is a peacemaker.  He sees the differences between the Hebrew and Greek texts as mostly insubstantial.  I am not so holy.  I see that at a specific point in time before Jesus was born the Hebrew was translated into Greek a certain way.  Then after Jesus was rejected as Messiah that translation can no longer be teased out of the Hebrew.  Am I being anti-Semitic or blaming the Jews?  On the contrary, I admire their faith.  I’ve practically admitted that I would do the same thing.  But this is how faith works.

One’s faith obviously effects one’s scholarship.  It chooses what one sees, why one pursues it, and how one interprets it.  The point isn’t will my faith make a fool of me.  Of course it will.  Eventually faith in anything or anyone will either make me foolish, or make me appear foolish to others.  That really isn’t the question.  The question is, Is Jesus worthy of my faith whether I am, or appear to be, foolish or not?  The keepers of the Hebrew language of the Old Testament have bet the farm on their faith that Jesus is not their Messiah.  I am betting that Jesus is Yahweh become human flesh.

To get back to David’s song, I’ve already mentioned what sense might be made of, So you are just when you confront me; you are right when you condemn me, as translated from Hebrew currently.  What possible sense could so that you will be justified in your words and will prevail when you are judged have made two centuries before Jesus was born?  Who judges God?  Well, every one of us judges God, every moment of everyday.  Granted, those of us with a philosophical bent of mind do it consciously more often than others.

Consider how cruelly Jephthah judged God when he sacrificed his daughter to keep a reckless vow.  How harshly might he judge God for forgiving David for adultery and murder if David did not confess, Against you – you above all – I have sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight, the very thing Jephthah refused to acknowledge about his oath?

Consider how foolishly the men of Ezra’s day judged the God who hates divorce, when they divorced their foreign wives and sent their children away to earn his favor.  How harshly might they judge God for forgiving David for adultery and murder if David did not pray, Wash away my wrongdoing!  Cleanse me of my sin!  For I am aware of my rebellious acts; I am forever conscious of my sin, the very thing the men of Ezra’s day did not do as they tried to establish their own righteousness according to the law?[8]  For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.[9] 

Look, I was guilty of sin from birth, David’s song continued, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.[10]  David was not acknowledging that his mother was a uniquely sinful woman who gave birth to especially sin-filled children, but that all parents are sinners who give birth to sinful children like themselves.  [F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans.  But they are justified (δικαιούμενοι, another form of δικαιόω) freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith.[11]

The mercy seat was the top of the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies in the temple in Jerusalem.  In this ark, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews explained, were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.  And above the ark were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat.[12]  The high priest entered into the most holy place once a year not without blood that he offer[ed] for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.  The Holy Spirit is making clear that the way into the holy place had not yet appeared as long as the old tabernacle was standing.[13]

But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come.  He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption,[14] the writer of Hebrews concluded.

This was to demonstrate his righteousness (δικαιοσύνης, a form of δικαιοσύνη),[15] Paul continued in his letter to the Romans, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed.  This was also to demonstrate his righteousness (δικαιοσύνης, a form of δικαιοσύνη) in the present time, so that he would be just (δίκαιον, a form of δίκαιος)[16] and the justifier (δικαιοῦντα, another form of δικαιόω) of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness.[17]

It is difficult to judge the Lord Jesus too harshly for forgiving David, or anyone else for that matter, since He accepted the death penalty in our place.  But forgiveness as a concept in the Bible doesn’t end here.


[1] Psalm 51:2b-4 (NET)

[2] Joshua 7:19 (NET)

[5] Romans 3:4 (NET)

[8] Ezra 10:3 (NET)

[9] Romans 10:3 (NET)

[10] Psalm 51:5 (NET)

[11] Romans 3:23-25a (NET)

[12] Hebrews 9:4b, 5a (NET)

[13] Hebrews 9:7, 8 (NET)

[14] Hebrews 9:11, 12 (NET)

[17] Romans 3:25b-26 (NET)