Romans, Part 59

The most obvious translation of Do not lag in zeal[1] (τῇ σπουδῇ μὴ ὀκνηροί) is something like “this haste not slothful.”  Thus we urged Titus, Paul wrote the Corinthians, that, just as he had previously begun this work, so also he should complete this act of kindness for you.  But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness (σπουδῇ) and in the love from us that is in you – make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too.  I am not saying this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love by comparison with the eagerness (σπουδῆς, a form of σπουδή) of others.[2]

The translation of σπουδῇ and σπουδῆς as eagerness above is not wrong if I recognize that Paul’s concern was the timeliness of completing this act of kindness rather than an emotional affect.  Certainly Paul was also interested in the Corinthians’ emotional affect, but he used a different word for that (2 Corinthians 8:10b-12 NET):

It is to your advantage, since you made a good start last year both in your giving and your desire to give, to finish what you started, so that just as you wanted to do it eagerly (προθυμία), you can also complete it according to your means.  For if the eagerness (προθυμία) is present, the gift itself is acceptable according to whatever one has, not according to what he does not have.

The Greek words σπουδῇ and σπουδῆς seem to refer here to the fact that the Corinthians made a good start last year but had failed thus far to finish what [they] startedI know your eagerness (προθυμίαν, a form of προθυμία) to help,[3] Paul assured them.  The Corinthians’ προθυμία and προθυμίαν were not at issue.  It was σπουδῇ and σπουδῆς they lacked or needed to address (2 Corinthians 9:2b-4 NET):

I keep boasting to the Macedonians about this eagerness of yours, that Achaia has been ready to give since last year, and your zeal (ζῆλος) to participate has stirred up most of them.  But I am sending these brothers so that our boasting about you may not be empty in this case, so that you may be ready just as I kept telling them.  For if any of the Macedonians should come with me and find that you are not ready to give, we would be humiliated (not to mention you) by this confidence we had in you.

As a description of love “this haste not slothful” makes a good deal of sense.  A feigned or hypocritical love, the love of an actor, wearing a false face, speaking another’s lines, will tend to be too fast or too slow in action.  While the Lovewithout hypocrisy (ἀνυπόκριτος),[4] the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is timely, at a measured pace, this haste not slothful, full of the recognition that love unfeigned lasts a lifetime and beyond.

“This haste not slothful,” however, makes a terrible rule.  Here is a listing of various English translations.

Romans 12:11a

Bible Version

Never be lacking in zeal… New International Version
Never be lazy… New Living Translation
Do not be slothful in zeal… English Standard Bible
Do not become apathetic… Berean Study Bible
not lagging in diligence… Berean Literal Bible
not lagging behind in diligence… New American Standard Bible, NASB 1977
Not slothful in business… King James Bible, KJV 2000, American KJV, Webster’s Bible Translation
Do not lack diligence… Holman Christian Standard Bible
Never be lazy in showing such devotion. International Standard Version
Be diligent and do not be lazy… Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GOD’S WORD Translation
not slothful in earnest care… Jubilee Bible 2000
in diligence not slothful… American Standard Version, English Revised Version
In carefulness not slothful. Douay-Rheims Bible
as to diligent zealousness, not slothful… Darby Bible Translation
Do not be indolent when zeal is required. Weymouth New Testament
not lagging in diligence… World English Bible
in the diligence not slothful… Young’s Literal Translation

I won’t take issue with translating σπουδῇ (a form of σπουδή) abstractly as diligent or diligence: if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence (ὁ προϊστάμενος ἐν σπουδῇ).[5]  I do question translating it zeal or zealousness.  Paul did not write ζῆλος.  Matthew, Mark and John recounted two different occasions when Jesus demonstrated a godly zeal.

Matthew

Mark

John

Then Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying in the temple courts, and turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.

Matthew 21:12 (NET)

Then they came to Jerusalem. Jesus entered the temple area and began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts. He turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.

Mark 11:15, 16 (NET)

Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables.  So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

John 2:13-15 (NET)

And he said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are turning it into a den of robbers!”

Matthew 21:13 (NET)

Then he began to teach them and said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have turned it into a den of robbers!”

Mark 11:17 (NET)

To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!”

John 2:16 (NET)

 

The chief priests and the experts in the law heard it and they considered how they could assassinate him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed by his teaching.

Mark 11:18 (NET)

His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal (ζῆλος) for your house will devour me.”

John 2:17 (NET)

 

Paul actually distinguished between this kind of zeal and love: Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline or with love (ἀγάπῃ, a form of ἀγάπη) and a spirit of gentleness?[6]  And though I have no doubt that Jesus consciously fulfilled Scripture, the incidents were also remarkable because they were uncharacteristic and atypical of Him.  The religious mind is all too eager to consider hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, and envying[7] righteous indignation or zeal for God.  Paul gave no law encouraging the religious mind not to lag in this kind of zeal.

The description continues, be enthusiastic in spirit (τῷ πνεύματι ζέοντες [a form of ζέω]), literally “this spirit boils” or “this boiling spirit.”  If I put it back together I have, this haste not slothful, this boiling spirit.  These words make sense if applied to a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria.[8]  He was an eloquent speaker, well-versed in the scriptures.  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and with great enthusiasm (ζέων, another form of ζέω) he spoke and taught accurately the facts about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John.[9]

The danger of this kind of enthusiasm wasn’t actually revealed until the next chapter of Acts:  Paul found some disciples in Ephesus and said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”  They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”[10] It gives me a different impression when Apollos began to speak out fearlessly (παρρησιάζεσθαι, a form of παῤῥησιάζομαι) in the synagogue.[11]  I contrast it to Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, παρρησιαζόμενοι ἐπὶ τῷ κυρίῳ (literally, “speaking freely upon the Lord”).  Here, I think, Paul and Barnabas relied on the Lord rather than their own “fearlessness” and He testified to the message of his grace, granting miraculous signs and wonders to be performed through their hands.[12]

Priscilla and Aquila, who had spent time with Paul,[13] slowed Apollos’ haste (without dampening his enthusiasm): when Priscilla and Aquila heard him [speak out fearlessly in the synagogue], they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.[14]  Apollos traveled from Ephesus to Achaia.  When he arrived, he assisted greatly those who had believed by grace,[15] the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers[16] who had responded to Paul’s presentation of the Gospel.[17]  (No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, Jesus said, and I will raise him up at the last day.[18])  Apollos greatly assisted them, not by browbeating them to live better lives, but by preoccupying those who might have done so: for he refuted the Jews (Ἰουδαίοις, a form of  Ἰουδαῖος) vigorously in public debate, demonstrating from the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.[19]

This haste not slothful, this boiling spirit, serve (δουλεύοντες, a form of δουλεύω) the Lord,[20] or serving the Lord,[21] or “this Lord enslaved,” or “enslaved to this Lord.”  Ordinarily I might think of being enslaved as a negative thing.  But Paul compared the slavery of righteousness to the slavery of sin (admittedly, speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh), just as you once presented your members as slaves (δοῦλα, a form of δοῦλος) to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves (δοῦλα, a form of δοῦλος) to righteousness leading to sanctification.[22]

For we too were once foolish, Paul wrote to Titus, disobedient, misled, enslaved (δουλεύοντες, a form of δουλεύω) to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another.[23]  If I think of serving (δουλεύοντες, a form of δουλεύω) the Lord or being enslaved to the Lord as something like the work I do to please my employer, I will think that I am obeying a rule: serve the Lord.  If on the other hand I think of serving (δουλεύοντες, a form of δουλεύω) the Lord or being enslaved to the Lord as something more like being enslaved (δουλεύοντες, a form of δουλεύω) to various passions and desires, well, that’s more like what I did on the weekends after work.

And I think that is more like the δουλεύοντες Paul described here, the natural (super-natural) outpouring of this boiling spirit.  In fact, I should work for my employer in this same way and not like I used to work before I was enslaved to the Lord.  Slaves, obey (ὑπακούετε, a form of ὑπακούω) your human masters with fear and trembling, Paul wrote the Ephesians, in the sincerity (ἁπλότητι, a form of ἁπλότης) of your heart (καρδίας, a form of καρδία) as to Christ, not like those who do their work only when someone is watching – as people-pleasers – but as slaves (δοῦλοι, a form of δοῦλος) of Christ doing the will of God from the heart (ψυχῆς, a form of ψυχή).  Obey with enthusiasm (εὐνοίας, a form of εὔνοια), as though serving (δουλεύοντες, a form of δουλεύω) the Lord and not people[24]

Part of the definition of ἁπλότητι in the NET is “free from pretence and hypocrisy,” “not self seeking.”  This ἁπλότητι comes from the love that is not self-serving.[25]  All of this is accomplished as slaves (δοῦλοι, a form of δοῦλος) of Christ, not as someone in some wretched social condition but as one whose attitudes and actions are produced by the fruit of the Holy Spirit: For the love of Christ controls (συνέχει, a form of συνέχω) us[26]  Doing the will of God from the heart[27]with enthusiasm (or, good will), as[28]… serving (or, enslaved to) the Lord and not people.  We have died to what controlled (κατειχόμεθα, a form of κατέχω) us, so that we may serve (δουλεύειν, a form of δουλεύω) in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.[29]

And so I have, “this haste not slothful, this boiling spirit, enslaved to the Lord.”  Transforming a description of Lovewithout hypocrisy into three rules—Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord—may be equivalent to the παρρησιάζεσθαι of Apollos in the synagogue, but it will never rival the παρρησιαζόμενοι ἐπὶ τῷ κυρίῳ of Paul and Barnabas in Iconium.  For it lacks all the power of God.

Romans, Part 60

Back to Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 11

Back to Romans, Part 87

[1] Romans 12:11a (NET)

[2] 2 Corinthians 8:6-8 (NET)

[3] 2 Corinthians 9:2a (NET)

[4] Romans 12:9a (NET)

[5] Romans 12:8 (NET)

[6] 1 Corinthians 4:21b (NET)

[7] Galatians 5:19, 20 (NET)

[8] Acts 18:24a (NET)

[9] Acts 18:24b, 25 (NET)

[10] Acts 19:2 (NET)

[11] Acts 18:26a (NET)

[12] Acts 14:3 (NET)

[13] Acts 18:2, 3 (NET)

[14] Acts 18:26b (NET)

[15] Acts 18:27b (NET)

[16] 1 Corinthians 6:9b, 10a (NET)

[17] 1 Corinthians 6:11 (NET)

[18] John 6:44 (NET)

[19] Acts 18:28 (NET)

[20] Romans 12:11 (NET)

[21] Romans 12:11 (NAS)

[22] Romans 6:19 (NET)

[23] Titus 3:3 (NET)

[24] Ephesians 6:5-7 (NET)

[25] 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NET)

[26] 2 Corinthians 5:14a (NET)

[27] The NET note on obey in verse 7: “Though the verb does not appear again at this point in the passage, it is nonetheless implied and supplied in the English translation for the sake of clarity.”

[28] I don’t see anything to translate though in the Greek.  This is not something to be faked as though, but is the real righteousness of God, the love that is the fulfillment of the law..

[29] Romans 7:6b (NET)

Romans, Part 58

In this essay I’ll continue looking at the aftermath of Jesus feeding five thousand plus people in the light of his assessment of the Jewish leaders (Ἰουδαῖοι, a form of Ἰουδαῖος)[1] as an answer to how the Father seeking his own is not self-seeking.  And ultimately it is a continuing part of my attempt to view—Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord[2]—as a definition of love (ἀγάπη) rather than as rules.  Jesus spoke to those who followed Him not because [they] saw miraculous signs, but because [they] ate all the loaves of bread [they] wanted[3] after they began complaining about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven”[4] (John 6:43-45 NET):

Do not complain about me to one another.  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’  Everyone who hears and learns from (παρὰ) the Father comes to me.

As I’ve written elsewhere the translation draws may be understating the case a bit if I think in terms of the hymn, “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling.”[5]  The Greek word ἑλκύσῃ (a form of ἑλκύω) translated draws above means something more like drags more often than not in the New Testament.  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me [drags] him gives a little different picture of the situation.

Jesus’ summary of the prophets—‘And they will all be taught by God’—was translated as follows in the KJV: And they shall be all taught of God.  Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.[6]  To a contemporary ear this may sound like “they will all be taught about God” and “Everyone who has heard and learned about the Father, comes to Jesus.”  The editors of the NKJV, aware of this quirk of contemporary English, clarified the meaning of the text:  ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’  Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.[7]  And it becomes doubly clear when I recognize that Jesus, the Holy Spirit and John felt the need to include the parenthetical: Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from (παρὰ) God – he has seen the Father.[8]

I don’t want to pass by too quickly without examining Jesus’ summary of the prophets: ‘And they will all be taught by God.’  A note in the NET claimed this as a quotation of Isaiah 54:13.  So I’ll look at that chapter a bit (Isaiah 54:4-13a NET):

Don’t be afraid, for you will not be put to shame!  Don’t be intimidated, for you will not be humiliated!  You will forget about the shame you experienced in your youth; you will no longer remember the disgrace of your abandonment.  For your husband is the one who made you – the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) who commands armies is his name.  He is your protector, the Holy One of Israel.  He is called “God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of the entire earth.”

“Indeed, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) will call you back like a wife who has been abandoned and suffers from depression, like a young wife when she has been rejected,” says your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיך).  “For a short time I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you.  In a burst of anger I rejected you momentarily, but with lasting devotion I will have compassion on you,” says your protector, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).

“As far as I am concerned, this is like in Noah’s time, when I vowed that the waters of Noah’s flood would never again cover the earth.  In the same way I have vowed that I will not be angry at you or shout at you.  Even if the mountains are removed and the hills displaced, my devotion will not be removed from you, nor will my covenant of friendship be displaced,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), the one who has compassion on you.

“O afflicted one, driven away, and unconsoled!  Look, I am about to set your stones in antimony and I lay your foundation with lapis-lazuli.  I will make your pinnacles out of gems, your gates out of beryl, and your outer wall out of beautiful stones.  All your children will be followers of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה)

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from JacobAnd this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”[9]

“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.  It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt.  For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds.  I will be their God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, לאלהים) and they will be my people.

“People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me.  For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) has made a promise to Israel.  He promises it as the one who fixed the sun to give light by day and the moon and stars to give light by night.  He promises it as the one who stirs up the sea so that its waves roll.  He promises it as the one who is known as the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) who rules over all.[10]

A note in the NET acknowledges that, Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me, might have been translated “listens to the Father and learns.”  The latter translation actually fits the Greek word order (πᾶς ὁ ἀκούσας παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μαθὼν ἔρχεται πρὸς ἐμέ) better than the former.  I’m pleasantly surprised that it was translated as it was.

A narrow path is created by 1) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; 2) ‘And they will all be taught by God;’ and 3) Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me.  I definitely relate this to, So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word (ρήματα, a form of ῥῆμα) of God.[11]  If everyone who hears from God also learns from God, they will all be taught by God carries a different weight than everyone who hears from God must learn on his own to come to Jesus.[12]

I found a thoughtful sermon online from John Piper that accurately portrays the teaching of my religion:

In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” And in John 12:32, Jesus says, “I will draw all people to myself.” So John 6:44 teaches, I argued last week, that the Father draws people triumphantly to the Son, and all whom he draws come, because the drawing is decisive. And John 12:32 teaches that Jesus draws all to himself.[13]

The solution to this dilemma (dilemma because my religion rejects the notion of universal salvation) is that all in John 12:32 (NET)—And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself—does not mean all people (people is not in the original text).  All means “all the children of God” or “all of my sheep.”[14]  To my mind this limitation disregards, Let God be proven true, and every human being shown up as a liar, just as it is written:so that you will be justified in your words and will prevail when you are judged.”[15]

If the Lord does not wish (βουλόμενος, a form of βούλομαι) for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,[16] we need to consider these “couplets,” as I think of them, in another way.  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him;[17] And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.[18]  So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy;[19] For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all.[20]  And consider these in the light of his unilateral declaration: I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.[21]

All the Lord has to do is declare that these words justify Him to call as many, up to and including all, to repentance as He desires and John Piper and I have no way to contradict Him.  There are three reasons I won’t go all the way and say I believe in universal salvation: 1) I have no standing to tell the Lord He must save all; 2) my own theory how this might be possible, that universal salvation entails universal condemnation, while intellectually satisfying, is emotionally horrifying; and 3) it seems to me that the arguments of Scripture lock me out from determining such a thing at the same time they free me to pray for “the mercy on which everything depends, for it does not depend on human desire or exertion but on You who shows mercy, and You have consigned all to disobedience so that You may show mercy to all.”

Jesus continued (John 6:47-51 NET):

I tell you the solemn truth, the one who believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life (Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος τῆς ζωῆς).  Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread that has come down from heaven, so that a person may eat from it and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats from this bread he will live forever.  The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

Then the Ἰουδαῖοι began to argue with one another, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”[22]  The Church’s answer to their question was Transubstantiation.  If Transubstantiation is Jesus’ answer, too, then He might have said: “You will walk to the front of the congregation and kneel before the priest who will give you a morsel of bread and a sip of wine, the substance of which he has changed into my literal body and blood respectively, but it will still look and taste like bread and wine.”  And I’ll read what He actually said in that light (John 6:53-58 NET):

I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.  The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood resides in me, and I in him.  Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who consumes me will live because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the bread your ancestors ate, but then later died.  The one who eats this bread will live forever.

In this case I would assume that Jesus deliberately used offensive language to thin the herd of his followers.  If, on the other hand, I believe that Jesus’ answer to their question—How can this man give us his flesh to eat?—came later in the text when He spoke privately with his disciples, I will have a different perspective: The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature (σὰρξ) is of no help![23]  The words (ρήματα, a form of ῥῆμα) that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.[24]

I may still wonder if He spoke something like a parable that may have been misunderstood by others, that He explained to his core disciples, but I also recognize that He spoke of something deeper than my ability to learn in my natural self from spiritual teaching.  And I recall that the concept of eating the words of God was familiar to Jesus’ audience (Ezekiel 3:1-4 NET):

He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you see in front of you – eat this scroll – and then go and speak to the house of Israel.”  So I opened my mouth and he fed me the scroll.

He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll I am giving to you.”  So I ate it, and it was sweet like honey in my mouth.

He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak my words to them.”

In this case his hearers may not have been offended because they thought Jesus spoke of cannibalism.  They understood his allusion.  They were offended because Jesus didn’t hand them the law of Moses to eat, but Himself and his own teaching as the Spirit words to be ingested.  They rejected Him not because they were confused but because they understood Him perfectly and their hearts were hardened (Ezekiel 3:5-7 NET):

For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel – not to many peoples of unintelligible speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand – surely if I had sent you to them, they would listen to you!  But the house of Israel is unwilling to listen to you, because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hard-headed and hard-hearted.

 After this many of his disciples quit following him and did not accompany him any longer.  So Jesus said to the twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”[25]

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go?  You have the words (ρήματα, a form of ῥῆμα) of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God!”[26] 

If Jesus were only seeking those who have come to believe and to know that [He is] the Holy One of God, then I’m not sure if that would be self-serving or not.  If He is serious about seeking those who are his own in name only but in actual point of fact are hardened and reject Him, it is clear that seeking his own is not self-seeking, but clearly an act of the love that is not self-serving.[27]

Romans, Part 59

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

[2] Romans 12:11 (NET)

[3] John 6:26 (NET)

[4] John 6:41 (NET)

[5] http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Softly_and_Tenderly/

[6] John 6:45 (KJV)

[7] John 6:45 (NKJV)

[8] John 6:46 (NET)

[9] Romans 11:26, 27 (NET)

[10] Jeremiah 31:31-35 (NET)

[11] Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

[12] Even the KJV translators chose this path: Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me (John 6:45b KJV).  Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me (John 6:45b NKJV).  I’m afraid I would have assumed in the past that learned was my own work, to blunt the impact of And they will all be taught by God (e.g., only those who learned by whatever wisdom or virtue they possessed innately would benefit from being taught by God or having heard from God).

[13] http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/they-will-all-be-taught-of-god

[14] http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/they-will-all-be-taught-of-god

[15] Romans 3:4 (NET)

[16] 2 Peter 3:9b (NET)

[17] John 6:44a (NET)

[18] John 12:32 (NET)

[19] Romans 9:16 (NET)

[20] Romans 11:32 (NET)

[21] Romans 9:15 (NET)

[22] John 6:52 (NET)

[23] ἡ σὰρξ οὐκ ὠφελεῖ οὐδέν appears almost as a double negative: “the flesh, no, it assists (is useful, advantageous or profitable, to) no one.”

[24] John 6:63 (NET)

[25] John 6:66, 67 (NET)

[26] John 6:68, 69 (NET)

[27] 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NET)

Romans, Part 57

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

Matthew

Mark

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

Matthew 14:34-36 (NET)

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

Mark 6:53-56 (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans, Part 58

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

[2] Romans 12:11 (NET)

[3] John 6:25 (NET)

[4] John 6:2 (NET)

[5] John 6:14 (NET)

[6] John 6:15 (NET)

[7] John 6:26 (NET)

[8] John 6:31 (NET)

[9] Mark 6:52 (NET)

[10] John 9:22 (NET)

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

[12] John 6:27 (NET)

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

[14] John 6:28 (NET)

[15] John 6:29 (NET)

[16] John 6:30 (NET)

[17] John 6:31 (NET)

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

[19] Numbers 25 (NET)

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

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

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

[23] Acts 1:6 (NET)

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

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

[26] Romans 13:10b (NET)

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

[28] Matthew 6:11 (NET)

[29] John 6:34 (NET)

[30] John 6:35a (NET)

[31] John 6:41a (NET)

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

[33] John 6:41 (NET)

[34] John 6:45

Romans, Part 56

Ezekiel prophesied: For this is what the sovereign (ʼădônây,  אדני) Lord (yehôvih, יהוה) says: Look, I myself will search for my sheep and seek them out.  As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will seek out my flock.   I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy, dark day.[1]  I will seek the lost and bring back the strays; I will bandage the injured and strengthen the sick, but the fat and the strong I will destroy.   I will feed them – with judgment![2]

I will save my sheep; they will no longer be prey.  I will judge between one sheep and anotherI will set one shepherd over them, and he will feed them – namely, my servant David.  He will feed them and will be their shepherd.  I, the Lord (yehôvâh,  יהוה), will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them; I, the Lord (yehôvâh,  יהוה), have spoken![3]

This is a fitting introduction to this section of the story of Jesus feeding five thousand plus people in the light of his assessment of the Jewish leaders (Ἰουδαῖοι, a form of Ἰουδαῖος)[4] as an answer to how the Father seeking his own is not self-seeking.  And ultimately it is a continuing part of my attempt to view—Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord[5]—as a definition of love (ἀγάπη) rather than as rules.

Matthew Mark Luke

John

And they said, “Should we go and buy bread for two hundred silver coins and give it to them to eat?”  He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

Mark 6:37, 38a (NET)

They replied, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish – unless we go and buy food for all these people.”

Luke 9:13b (NET)

They said to him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”  “Bring them here to me,” he replied.

Matthew 14:17, 18 (NET)

When they found out, they said, “Five – and two fish.”

Mark 6:38b (NET)

One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “Here is a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many people?”

John 6:8, 9 (NET)

If I accept John’s contention that— 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?”[6]—I get a slightly different picture of the situation.  I suspect that while Jesus taught and healed the people his disciples, anticipating, were on the lookout for food.  They didn’t really expect to spend two hundred silver coins, the amount Phillip assessed earlier that day: Philip replied, “Two hundred silver coins worth of bread would not be enough for them, for each one to get a little.”[7]

Later that evening when they came to Jesus and said—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[8]—their compassion for the people was tinged by their perceived failure to find a sufficient supply of food.  Mark captured their astonishment when Jesus replied—You give them something to eatShould we go and buy bread for two hundred silver coins [recalling Philip’s earlier assessment] and give it to them to eat?[9]

How many loaves do you have? Jesus asked.  Go and see.[10]

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “Here is a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many people?”[11]

Matthew

Mark Luke

John

Then he instructed the crowds to sit down on the grass.

Matthew 14:19a (NET)

Then he directed them all to sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they reclined in groups of hundreds and fifties.

Mark 6:39, 40 (NET)

Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.”  So they did as Jesus directed, and the people all sat down.

Luke 9:14b, 15 (NET)

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” (Now there was a lot of grass in that place.)  So the men sat down…

John 6:10a (NET)

He took the five loaves and two fish, and looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke the loaves.  He gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, twelve baskets full.

Matthew 14:19b, 20 (NET)

He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. He gave them to his disciples to serve the people, and he divided the two fish among them all.  They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces and fish that were left over, twelve baskets full.

Mark 6:41-43 (NET)

Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke them. He gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.  They all ate and were satisfied, and what was left over was picked up – twelve baskets of broken pieces.

Luke 9:16, 17 (NET)

Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed the bread to those who were seated.  He then did the same with the fish, as much as they wanted.  When they were all satisfied, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather up the broken pieces that are left over, so that nothing is wasted.”  So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves left over by the people who had eaten.

John 6:11-13 (NET)

Not counting women and children, there were about five thousand men who ate.

Matthew 14:21 (NET)

Now there were five thousand men who ate the bread.

Mark 6:44 (NET)

(Now about five thousand men were there.)

Luke 9:14a (NET)

… about five thousand in number.

John 6:10b (NET)

I have nothing to add to this scene except the words of yehôvih (יהוה) through the prophet Ezekiel: In a good pasture I will feed them; the mountain heights of Israel will be their pasture.  There they will lie down in a lush pasture, and they will feed on rich grass on the mountains of Israel.  I myself will feed my sheep and I myself will make them lie down, declares the sovereign (ʼădônây,  אדני) Lord (yehôvih).[12]  Only John’s Gospel narrative picked up on this.

Matthew

Mark Luke

John

Now when the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus performed, they began to say to one another, “This is certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

John 6:14 (NET)

Immediately (εὐθέως) Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he dispersed the crowds.

Matthew 14:22 (NET)

Immediately (εὐθὺς) Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dispersed the crowd.

Mark 6:45 (NET)

And after he sent the crowds away, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.

Matthew 14:23a (NET)

After saying good-bye to them, he went to the mountain to pray.

Mark 6:46 (NET)

Then Jesus, because he knew they were going to come and seize him by force to make him king, withdrew again up the mountainside alone.

John 6:15 (NET)

Luke’s Gospel abandoned this particular narrative thread.

Matthew

Mark

John

When evening came, [Jesus] was there alone.  Meanwhile the boat, already far from land, was taking a beating from the waves because the wind was against it.

Matthew 14:23b, 24 (NET)

When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea and he was alone on the land.  He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.

Mark 6:47, 48a (NET)

Now when evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat, and started to cross the lake to Capernaum.  (It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.)  By now a strong wind was blowing and the sea was getting rough.

John 6:16-18 (NET)

John’s Gospel narrative gives me the impression that Jesus’ disciples waited around for Him a bit longer than Matthew’s εὐθέως (translated, immediately NET or straightway KJV) or Mark’s εὐθὺς (translated, immediately NET or straightway KJV) led me at first to believe.  As I look at it now I think εὐθέως and εὐθὺς spoke more to Jesus’ urgency dismissing his disciples because he knew [the people who saw the miraculous sign] were going to come and seize him by force to make him king.

Matthew

Mark

John

As the night was ending, Jesus came to them walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw him walking on the water they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” and cried out with fear.  But immediately (εὐθὺς) Jesus spoke to them: “Have courage! It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

Matthew 14:25-27 (NET)

As the night was ending, he came to them walking on the sea, for he wanted to pass by them.  When they saw him walking on the water they thought he was a ghost.  They cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified.  But immediately (εὐθὺς) he spoke to them: “Have courage!  It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

Mark 6:48b-50 (NET)

Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they caught sight of Jesus walking on the lake, approaching the boat, and they were frightened.  But he said to them, “It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

John 6:19, 20 (NET)

Only Matthew recorded what happened next.  I wonder if the tax collector’s prayer Jesus spoke[13] about was Matthew’s (also known as Levi).[14]

Matthew Mark

John

Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water.”  So he said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately (εὐθέως) Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith (ὀλιγόπιστε, a form of ὀλιγόπιστος), why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:28-31 (NET)

I have written about this before.[15]

Matthew

Mark

John

When they went up into the boat, the wind ceased.  Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:32, 33 (NET)

Then he went up with them into the boat, and the wind ceased. They were completely astonished, because they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Mark 6:51, 52 (NET)

Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately (εὐθέως) the boat came to the land where they had been heading.

John 6:21 (NET)

Matthew wrote, Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  Mark wrote, They were completely astonished, because they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.  And John let both stand without comment.  This was curious until I stepped back into the scene.

If I crawl into the boat and look first through Matthew’s eyes as he watched Peter get out of the boat at Jesus’ command and walk on the water toward Him, it’s immaterial to me that Peter began to flounder.  Of course he did.  What was astonishing was that he stood and walked at all!  Truly, Jesus is the Son of God.

If, on the other hand, I get out of the boat with Peter (the presumed source of Mark’s Gospel narrative) and take those few tentative steps, see the wind whipping up the waves, fear and begin to sink… While it is not immaterial that Jesus reached out his hand and caught me, my focus is his question: why did you doubt?  And until the Holy Spirit was given, truly, Peter’s heart was hardened, as were the hearts of all the rest of Jesus’ disciples and all Israel (Isaiah 6 NET): it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.[16]

I’ll continue this thread in the next essay.

Romans, Part 57

[1] Ezekiel 34:11, 12 (NET)

[2] Ezekiel 34:16 (NET)

[3] Ezekiel 34:22-24 (NET)

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

[5] Romans 12:11 (NET)

[6] John 6:5 (NET)

[7] John 6:7 (NET)

[8] Matthew 14:15 (NET)

[9] Mark 6:37 (NET)

[10] Mark 6:38a (NET)

[11] John 6:8, 9 (NET)

[12] Ezekiel 34:14, 15 (NET)

[13] Luke 18:9-14 (NET)

[14] Compare: Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:14-17, Luke 5:27-32 (NET)

[15] Romans, Part 17

[16] Romans 9:16 (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)

Romans, Part 53

So, how can I view—Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord[1]—as a definition of love (ἀγάπη) rather than as rules?  Again, I’ve constructed the following table to help.

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

love (ἀγάπη)

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.  Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint, because the love (ἀγάπη) of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.[2] Love (ἀγάπη) does no wrong (κακὸν, a form of κακός) to a neighbor. Therefore love (ἀγάπη) is the fulfillment of the law.[3] Knowledge puffs up, but love (ἀγάπη) builds up.[4]
Love (ἀγάπη) is…

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NET)

…not self-serving (οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ ἑαυτῆς; literally, “not seek itself”)…

1 Corinthians 13:5 (NET)

If someone owns a hundred sheep 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?[5]  But above all pursue (ζητεῖτε, another form of ζητέω) his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.[6]
This Love Without Hypocrisy…

Romans 12:9-21 (NET)

Do not lag in zeal (σπουδῇ, a form of σπουδή), be enthusiastic (ζέοντες, a form of ζέω) in spirit…

Romans 12:11a (NET)

…serve (δουλεύοντες, a form of δουλεύω) the Lord.

Romans 12:11b (NET)

But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness (σπουδῇ) and in the love from us that is in you – make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too.[7] Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived in Ephesus.  He was an eloquent speaker, well-versed in the scriptures.  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and with great enthusiasm (ζέων, another form of ζέω) he spoke and taught accurately the facts about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John.[8] Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ, not like those who do their work only when someone is watching – as people-pleasers – but as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart.  Obey with enthusiasm (εὐνοίας, a form of εὔνοια), as though serving (δουλεύοντες) the Lord and not people, because you know that each person, whether slave or free, if he does something good (ἀγαθόν, a form of ἀγαθός), this will be rewarded by the Lord.[9]

In the previous essay it seemed to make intuitive sense to place cling to what is good[10]under that aspect of the fruit of the Spirit translated goodness.  Here it may seem like begging the question[11] to simply place—Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord—under love.  In one sense love (ἀγάπη) is the master key that can stand for all aspects of the fruit of the Spirit.  I think John used ἀγάπη that way often, but I want to follow Paul’s thinking here.

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith (πίστεως, a form of πίστις), he wrote.  By our own faith?  I think not, for πίστις[12] is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit.  Since we have been declared righteous by faith we have peace (εἰρήνην, a form of εἰρήνη) with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.[13]  Again, peace (εἰρήνη) is an aspect of the fruit of his Spirit.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ we have also obtained access by faith (πίστει, another form of πίστις) into this grace (χάριν, a form of χάρις) in which we stand.  And by grace, though Paul may mean more, I think he cannot mean less than the credited righteousness of God, this very fruit of God’s Holy Spirit.  And we rejoice in the hope of our glory!  But that’s not what Paul wrote.  And we rejoice (καυχώμεθα, a form of καυχάομαι) in the hope of God’s glory.[14]

Though the NET translators chose rejoice for καυχώμεθα here and in the next verse, boast is a more obvious meaning.  I say again, let no one think that I am a fool.  But if you do, then at least accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast (καυχήσωμαι, another form of καυχάομαι) a little.  What I am saying with this boastful (καυχήσεως, a form of καύχησις) confidence I do not say the way the Lord would.  Instead it is, as it were, foolishness.  Since many are boasting (καυχῶνται, another form of καυχάομαι) according to human standards, I too will boast (καυχήσομαι, another form of καυχάομαι).[15]  By the way, according to human standards is κατὰ σάρκα in Greek, according to the flesh (NKJV).

It gives me the sense that Paul meant we boast in the hope of God’s glory.  We boast in the hope that God will be glorified by the lives we live in the flesh (not according to the flesh), crucified with Christ (it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me),[16] living by the Spirit,[17] not by the works of the flesh.[18]  Translated that way we might be less likely to gloss over it and boast in the hope of our own glory.  Not only this, Paul continued, but we also rejoice (καυχώμεθα, a form of καυχάομαι; or, boast) in sufferings.[19]  So where does Paul get off writing this wacko stuff?

If I must boast (καυχᾶσθαι, another form of καυχάομαι), I will boast (καυχήσομαι, another form of καυχάομαι) about the things that show my weakness (ἀσθενείας, a form of ἀσθένεια).[20]  There was method to Paul’s madness.  For the Lord said to him, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (ἀσθενείᾳ).” So then, Paul concluded, I will boast (καυχήσομαι) most gladly about my weaknesses (ἀσθενείαις), so that the power of Christ may reside in me.[21]  And in Romans we find a similar method to his madness: we also rejoice (or, boast) in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope.[22]  And here I get a beautiful glimmer of an understanding why the NET translators chose rejoice over boast.

We don’t rejoice or boast in our own suffering because of a rational understanding: knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope.  We can only rejoice or boast in our own suffering because we are filled with the joy (χαρὰ) of God, another aspect of the fruit of his Spirit.  And rejoice hearkens back to that fact better than boast ever could.  I am confident they chose rejoice for this reason because of a note on the next verse.

And hope does not disappoint, Paul concluded, because the love (ἀγάπη) of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.[23]  The note in the NET reads: “The phrase ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ (…‘the love of God’) could be interpreted as either an objective genitive (‘our love for God’), subjective genitive (‘God’s love for us’), or both (M. Zerwick’s ‘general’ genitive [Biblical Greek,§§36-39]; D. B. Wallace’s ‘plenary’ genitive [ExSyn 119-21]). The immediate context, which discusses what God has done for believers, favors a subjective genitive, but the fact that this love is poured out within the hearts of believers implies that it may be the source for believers’ love for God; consequently an objective genitive cannot be ruled out. It is possible that both these ideas are meant in the text and that this is a plenary genitive: ‘The love that comes from God and that produces our love for God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us’ (ExSyn 121).”

Here is one place I can say with confidence the NET translators really got what Paul was saying.  This love (ἀγάπη), which has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us, does no wrong (κακὸν) to a neighbor.  Therefore love (ἀγάπη) is the fulfillment (πλήρωμα) of the law.[24]  Pouring this love out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us is what Jesus meant when He said: 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 (πληρῶσαι, a form of πληρόω, the verb from which the noun πλήρωμα is derived) them.[25]

I want to spend some time with κακὸν (a form of κακός) since this ἀγάπη does (or, works) no wrong (or, harm) to a neighbor.  The first time κακὸν occurs in the New Testament was from the mouth of the Roman governor.  Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?”  They all said, “Crucify him!”  He asked, “Why? What wrong (κακὸν) has he done?” But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”[26]  Though Pilate found no κακὸν in Him under Roman law the chief priests and elders of Israel had accused Him of many things: “Don’t you hear how many charges they are bringing against you?”[27] Pilate asked.  When Jesus was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he did not respond.[28]

Now, with 20-20 hindsight I can see Jesus consciously fulfilling Scripture: He was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth.  Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth.[29]  At the time in the moment, however, He appeared obstinate, belligerent and disdainful of authority.  Consider his teaching (Matthew 23:1-12 NET).

Jesus 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.  They do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries wide and their tassels long.  They love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces, and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’  But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers.  And call no one your ‘father’ on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.  Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one teacher, the Christ.  The greatest among you will be your servant.  And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Even here there is a very rough edge that is disdainful of human authority.  More to the point, perhaps, Jesus did nothing that would inhibit his progress toward the cross.  My commandment (ἐντολὴ, a form of ἐντολή) is this, He also said, to love (ἀγαπᾶτε, a form of ἀγαπάω) one another just as I have loved (ἠγάπησα, another form of ἀγαπάω) you.  No one has greater love (ἀγάπην, a form of ἀγάπη) than this – that one lays down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command (ἐντέλλομαι) you.[30]  Hanging on the cross, after thirty plus years of human experience, eating it, drinking it, pissing and shitting it, Jesus prayed what I consider the real prayer of salvation: Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.[31]

My point here, I suppose, is that the love that does (or, works) no wrong (or, harm) to a neighbor may not always appear to all the people all the time to be doing or working no wrong or harm to a neighbor.  By his own admission Jesus’ death on a cross was not his will but his Father’s.[32]  Like most human beings Jesus wanted to live; whoever is among the living has hope; a live dog is better than a dead lion.[33]  Perhaps I’ve overstated the case.  Jesus was not suicidal as He hung on the cross.

I want to follow this just a bit farther (Luke 16:25 NET).

Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things (ἀγαθά, another form of ἀγαθός) and Lazarus likewise bad things (κακά, another form of κακός), but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish.’

When I considered this in the light of the gospel I gleaned from my religion,[34] Abraham’s words seemed like karmic nonsense.  But in the light of the knowledge of God I’m compelled to reconsider.  God is love (ἀγάπη).[35]  Love (ἀγάπη) does no wrong (κακὸν, a form of κακός) to a neighbor.[36]  (And this is οὐκ the absolute negation, modifying ἐργάζεται [a form of ἐργάζομαι] apparently not κακὸν.)  So while I might be intellectually stimulated to wonder what role God’s love played in Lazarus’ life, the Holy Spirit reminds me that Knowledge puffs up, but love (ἀγάπη) builds up.[37]  All in all it is simpler then to assume that God’s love was revealed after Lazarus’ death.  This is in accord with Jesus’ knowledge of God: he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live before him.[38]  And it is prudent to accept that I do not dictate when God reveals his love to anyone (or, in anyone for that matter).

I’ll continue looking into—Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord—as a definition of love rather than as rules in the next essay.

Romans, Part 54

Back to To Make Holy, Part 1

 

[1] Romans 12:11 (NET)

[2] Romans 5:1-5 (NET)

[3] Romans 13:10 (NET)

[4] 1 Corinthians 8:1b (NET)

[5] Matthew 18:12b (NET)

[6] Matthew 6:33 (NET)

[7] 2 Corinthians 8:7 (NET)

[8] Acts 18:24, 25 (NET)

[9] Ephesians 6:5-8 (NET)

[10] Romans 12:9b (NET)

[11] http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/begging-the-question.html

[12] Galatians 5:22 (NET) translated faithfulness

[13] Romans 5:1 (NET)

[14] Romans 5:2 (NET)

[15] 2 Corinthians 11:16-18 (NET)

[16] Galatians 2:20 (NET)

[17] Galatians 5:16 (NET)

[18] Galatians 5:19 (NET)

[19] Romans 5:3a (NET)

[20] 2 Corinthians 11:30 (NET)

[21] 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NET)

[22] Romans 5:3, 4 (NET)

[23] Romans 5:5 (NET)

[24] Romans 13:10 (NET)

[25] Matthew 5:17 (NET)

[26] Matthew 27:22, 23 (NET)

[27] Matthew 27:13 (NET)

[28] Matthew 27:12 (NET)

[29] Isaiah 53:7 (NET)

[30] John 15:12-14 (NET)

[31] Luke 23:34a (NET)

[32] Luke 22:42 (NET)

[33] Ecclesiastes 9:4 (NET)

[34] “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ before you die or burn in hell for all eternity.”

[35] 1 John 4:8, 16 (NET)

[36] Romans 13:10a (NET)

[37] 1 Corinthians 8:1b (NET)

[38] Luke 20:38 (NET)

Romans, Part 48

I want to continue with the next item in Paul’s list of the different gifts (χαρίσματα, a form of χάρισμα)[1] we have according to the grace given to us.[2]  If [the gift] is leadership (προϊστάμενος, a form of προΐστημι),[3] he must do so with diligence (σπουδῇ)…[4]

I want προϊστάμενος to mean προηγούμενοι (a form of προηγέομαι),[5] go first and leave a trail.  That’s what the Holy Spirit says to me about leadership.  Follow me, Jesus said.  Paul wrote, Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness (προηγούμενοι, a form of προηγέομαι) in honoring one another.[6]  So when Paul used προηγούμενοι he wanted me to “lead the way” in honoring others.  When he wrote about leadership he used the word προϊστάμενος (a form of προΐστημι), which seems to imply a less itinerant existence, the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep by living among them and protecting them rather than dying for them.

To overcome my own bias I’ll start with things Paul didn’t mean about προϊστάμενος (leadership).  He certainly didn’t mean πλανάω,[7] “to lead astray.”  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Paul asked rhetorically.  Do not be deceived (πλανᾶσθε, a form of πλανάω)!  The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.[8]  And the implication is that some claiming the gift of leadership were teaching these very things.

I don’t want this to come down disproportionately hard on those who favor the “Side A” position discussed on the Gay Christian Network website.[9]  My reasons can wait for another essay.  For now I will simply quote Paul’s own words (1 Corinthians 6:11 NET):

Some of you once lived this way.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

In other words, despite his assertion that such sinners will not inherit the kingdom of God, Paul did not dispute that God called, sanctified, and justified them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  The most anyone can assert about this passage is the Apostle’s fervent belief that sinners who were washed…sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God would not continue in sin.

Do not be deceived (πλανᾶσθε, a form of πλανάω): “Bad company corrupts good morals.”  Sober up as you should, and stop sinning!  For some have no knowledge of God – I say this to your shame![10]  Do not be deceived (πλανᾶσθε, a form of πλανάω).  God will not be made a fool.  For a person will reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.[11]  But evil people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceiving (πλανῶντες, another form of πλανάω) others and being deceived (πλανώμενοι, another form of πλανάω) themselves.[12]

Still, for Paul it was not a simple matter of “we” the good guys versus “they” the evil deceivers leading themselves and others astray:  For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled (πλανώμενοι, another form of πλανάω), enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives (διάγοντες, a form of διάγω)[13] in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another.[14]  Here we are introduced to ἄγω,[15] the primary verb to lead.  I’ll look at that after I finish with πλανάω.

The difference between Paul in his past as Saul along with others who were led astray, and Paul in his present as an Apostle of Christ, was the Father’s call through the resurrected Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit, God, in a word and not something intrinsic in Paul himself.  For the appeal we make does not come from error (πλάνης, a form of πλάνη)[16] or impurity or with deceit, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts.[17]

For Paul the word πλάνη (one led astray) not only described his former life but the natural state of all humanity.   Hear, for instance, how he described God’s wrath[18] on those who worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator:[19] God gave them over to dishonorable passions.  For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another.  Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error (πλάνης, a form of πλάνη).[20]

But in Christ we are all empowered to overcome our natural state: So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes (μεθοδείαν[21] τῆς πλάνης).[22]  While there is nothing particularly wrong with translating πλάνης error or deceitful, it implies awareness and ill-purpose.  And we might be led astray by the earnest sincerity of one led astray, one who does not know that his method or way leads others astray, one who wasn’t gifted with leadership (προϊστάμενος, a form of προΐστημι).

Paul also wrote (2 Corinthians 2:4-11 NET):

For out of great distress and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not to make you sad, but to let you know the love (ἀγάπην, a form of ἀγάπη)[23] that I have especially for you.  But if anyone has caused sadness, he has not saddened me alone, but to some extent (not to exaggerate) he has saddened all of you as well.  This punishment on such an individual by the majority is enough for him, so that now instead you should rather forgive (χαρίσασθαι, a form of χαρίζομαι)[24] and comfort (παρακαλέσαι, a form of παρακαλέω)[25] him.  This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair.  Therefore I urge (παρακαλῶ, a form of παρακαλέω) you to reaffirm your love (ἀγάπην, a form of ἀγάπη) for him.  For this reason also I wrote you: to test you to see if you are obedient in everything.  If you forgive (χαρίζεσθε, a form of χαρίζομαι) anyone for anything, I also forgive him – for indeed what I have forgiven (κεχάρισμαι, a form of χαρίζομαι) (if I have forgiven [κεχάρισμαι, a form of χαρίζομαι] anything) I did so for you in the presence of Christ, so that we may not be exploited by Satan (for we are not ignorant of his schemes [νοήματα, a form of νόημα][26]).

I can’t help but think that the forgiveness, comfort and love that played such an important role in keeping the Corinthians from being exploited by Satan’s schemes might be key as well to thwarting people’s methods or ways that lead astray (μεθοδείαν τῆς πλάνης).

As I turn here to ἄγω it is possible to glean what the gift of leadership (προϊστάμενος, a form of προΐστημι) is like.  God’s kindness leads (ἄγει, a form of ἄγω) you to repentance.[27]  It is not too much to expect one with the gift of leadership to exhibit God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience.  The gifted leader exhorts us with: all who are led (ἄγονται, a form of ἄγω) by the Spirit of God are the sons of God,[28] and teaches us: if you are led (ἄγεσθε, a form of ἄγω) by the Spirit, you are not under the law.[29]  The gifted leader is not overly interested in money.  For the love of money is the root of all evils.  Some people in reaching for it have strayed (ἀπεπλανήθησαν, a form of ἀποπλανάω)[30] from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains.[31]

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, Paul wrote the Thessalonians, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over (προϊσταμένους, another form of προΐστημι) you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work.[32]  [The overseer] must manage (προϊστάμενον, another form of προΐστημι) his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity.[33]  Though the overseer may be an itinerant position, one must exhibit that lay-down-his-life leadership at home first with his family.

Paul’s exhortation, Do not lag (σπουδῇ) in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord,[34] gives me a picture of the diligence (σπουδῇ) one should demonstrate in the exercise of God’s gift of leadership.   It is translated eagerness in, But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness (σπουδῇ) and in the love from us that is in you – make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too.[35]

Romans, Part 49

Back to My Reasons and My Reason, Part 1


[2] Romans 12:6a (NET)

[4] Romans 12:8 (NET)

[6] Romans 12:10 (NET)

[8] 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 (NET)

[10] 1 Corinthians 15:33, 34 (NET)

[11] Galatians 6:7, 8 (NET)

[12] 2 Timothy 3:13 (NET)

[14] Titus 3:3 (NET)

[17] 1 Thessalonians 2:3, 4 (NET)

[18] Romans 1:18 (NET)

[19] Romans 1:25 (NET)

[20] Romans 1:26, 27 (NET)

[22] Ephesians 4:14 (NET)

[27] Romans 2:4b (NET)

[28] Romans 8:14 (NET)

[29] Galatians 5:18 (NET)

[31] 1 Timothy 6:10 (NET)

[32] 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13 (NET)

[33] 1 Timothy 3:4 (NET)

[34] Romans 12:11 (NET)

[35] 2 Corinthians 8:7 (NET)