Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 7

In this essay I’ll consider three occurrences of yârêʼ (תירא), the first two very briefly.  They simply mean fear, the fear of those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more they can do.[1]

Numbers 21:33-35 (NET)

Deuteronomy 3:1-4 (NET)

Then they turned and went up by the road to Bashan.  And King Og of Bashan and all his forces marched out against them to do battle at Edrei.  And the Lord said to Moses, “Do not fear (yârêʼ, תירא) him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand.  You will do to him what you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon. Next we set out on the route to Bashan, but King Og of Bashan and his whole army came out to meet us in battle at Edrei.  The Lord, however, said to me, “Don’t be afraid (yârêʼ, תירא) of him because I have already given him, his whole army, and his land to you.  You will do to him exactly what you did to King Sihon of the Amorites who lived in Heshbon.”
So they defeated Og, his sons, and all his people, until there were no survivors, and they possessed his land. So the Lord our God did indeed give over to us King Og of Bashan and his whole army and we struck them down until not a single survivor was left.  We captured all his cities at that time – there was not a town we did not take from them – sixty cities, all the region of Argob, the dominion of Og in Bashan.

I also commanded Joshua at the same time
, Moses continued, “You have seen everything the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God did to these two kings; he (yehôvâh, יהוה) will do the same to all the kingdoms where you are going.  Do not be afraid (yârêʼ, תיראום) of them, for the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God will personally fight for you.”[2]

The third occurrence of yârêʼ requires more consideration (Deuteronomy 4:10 NET):

You stood before the Lord your God at Horeb and he said to me, “Assemble the people before me so that I can tell them my commands.  Then they will learn to revere (yârêʼ, ליראה) me all the days they live in the land, and they will instruct their children.”

The Hebrew word was yârêʼ.  The Tanakh reads: ‘Assemble Me the people, and I will make them hear My words that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.’[3]  The Septuagint reads: “Assemble the people to me, and let them hear (ἀκουσάτωσαν, a form of ἀκούω; See Luke 16:29) my words so that they may learn to fear me all the days as long as they live on the earth and may teach their sons…”[4]  Yet the NET translators chose revere and I don’t have any quarrel with it.  Doing this study has helped me realize that something is happening to the fear of yehôvâh.

I’ve already heard Moses associate this fear with faith.  Here, too, it is associated with something like faith.  Moses said (Deuteronomy 4:1-4 NET):

Now, Israel, pay attention to the statutes and ordinances I am about to teach you, so that you might live and go on to enter and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.  Do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I am delivering to you.  You have witnessed what the Lord did at Baal Peor, how he eradicated from your midst everyone who followed Baal Peor.  But you who remained faithful to the Lord your God are still alive to this very day, every one of you.

The Hebrew word translated remained faithful was dâbêq (הדבקים), clinging, adhering to in the NET dictionary.  But ye that did cleave unto HaShem your G-d are alive every one of you this day.[5]  I picture a child clinging to her parent’s leg for comfort and security.  It reminded me of President Obama’s gaffe on the campaign trail:[6]

For a second day, Mr. Obama sought to explain his remarks at a recent San Francisco fund-raiser that small-town Pennsylvania voters, bitter over their economic circumstances, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” as a way to explain their frustrations.

A believer looking back might easily perceive the clinging of those who did not join themselves to Baal Peor as a kind of faith.  In the Septuagint it was προσκειμενοι (a form of προσκαρτέρησις; translated held fast in English): “strong perseverance which prevails by interacting with God.”

I’ve been thinking lately about the ubiquity of the hero’s journey as a function of the religious mind, the pride (ἀλαζονεία, a form of ἀλαζονεία) of life.  Looking back—after the judgment and condemnation (Numbers 25:4, 5) that distinguished those who engaged in πορνεία with the Moabite women and their gods (Numbers 25:1-3) from those who did not—the latter group may seem the more heroic whether through a “strong perseverance which prevails by interacting with God” or having remained faithful.  But Moses’ choice of dâbêq (הדבקים) may reflect the actual situation when the next step on the hero’s journey seemed to be a love and peace initiative with the descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot through his eldest daughter (Genesis 19:37), while the less heroic in Israel clung to yehôvâh’s commands regarding idolatry and adultery.

The only other occurrence of dâbêq (הדבקים) in the Old Testament was in Solomon’s proverb: there is a friend who sticks closer (dâbêq, דבק) than a brother.[7]  I have no idea what that meant to Solomon.  To someone who knows the Holy Spirit it is difficult not to think of Him as that friend.  Moses continued, a significantly different attitude toward the law than Luther/Graebner indicated  (Deuteronomy 4:5-8 NET):

Look!  I have taught you statutes and ordinances just as the Lord my God told me to do, so that you might carry them out in the land you are about to enter and possess.  So be sure to do them, because this will testify of your wise understanding to the people who will learn of all these statutes and say, “Indeed, this great nation is a very wise people.”  In fact, what other great nation has a god so near to them like the Lord our God whenever we call on him?  And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this whole law that I am about to share with you today?

Then Moses recalled the giving of the law:

Exodus 20:18-20 (NET)

Deuteronomy 4:9, 10 (NET)

All the people were seeing the thundering and the lightning, and heard the sound of the horn, and saw the mountain smoking – and when the people saw it they trembled with fear and kept their distance.  They said to Moses, “You speak to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak with us, lest we die.”  Moses said to the people, “Do not fear (yârêʼ, תיראו), for God has come to test you, that the fear (yirʼâh, יראתו) of him may be before you so that you do not sin.” Again, however, pay very careful attention, lest you forget the things you have seen and disregard them for the rest of your life; instead teach them to your children and grandchildren.  You stood before the Lord your God at Horeb and he said to me, “Assemble the people before me so that I can tell them my commands.  Then they will learn to revere (yârêʼ, ליראה) me all the days they live in the land, and they will instruct their children.”

Here Moses chose yârêʼ for the fear that was yirʼâh in Exodus.  The translation revere seems cognizant at least of a meaning other than simple fear.  “We want it understood that we do not reject the Law as our opponents claim,” Luther/Graebner asserted in their “Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians” under the heading The Twofold Purpose of the Law. “On the contrary, we uphold the Law.”

Their twofold purpose was “to check civil transgression, and to magnify spiritual transgressions.”  Paul added another purpose: through the law comes the knowledge of sin.[8]  Luther/Graebner allowed:

The Law is also a light like the Gospel. But instead of revealing the grace of God, righteousness, and life, the Law brings sin, death, and the wrath of God to light. This is the business of the Law, and here the business of the Law ends, and should go no further.

I would add under this rubric of light that the law like all Scripture is a way to knowthe only true God, and Jesus Christ.[9]

Luther/Graebner recognized “three ways in which the Law may be abused”[10] (actually, four ways):

First, by the self- righteous hypocrites who fancy that they can be justified by the Law. Secondly, by those who claim that Christian liberty exempts a Christian from the observance of the Law…Thirdly, the Law is abused by those who do not understand that the Law is meant to drive us to Christ. When the Law is properly used its value cannot be too highly appraised. It will take me to Christ every time.

The fourth way the law may be abused is to be ignorant of it.  Luther/Graebner cited this as the introduction to the other three ways: “The doctrine of the Law must therefore be studied carefully lest we either reject the Law altogether, or are tempted to attribute to the Law a capacity to save.”  I was ignorant of Leviticus 5:4-6 (though I had certainly read it) while Numbers 30:1-2 stuck with me.

Numbers 30:1, 2 (NET)

Leviticus 5:4-6 (NET)

Moses told the leaders of the tribes concerning the Israelites, “This is what the Lord has commanded: If a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath of binding obligation on himself, he must not break his word, but must do whatever he has promised.” …when a person swears an oath, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips, whether to do evil or to do good, with regard to anything which the individual might speak thoughtlessly in an oath, even if he did not realize it, but he himself has later come to know it and is guilty with regard to one of these oaths – when an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned, and he must bring his penalty for guilt to the Lord for his sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, whether a female sheep or a female goat, for a sin offering. So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin.

I hope Jephthah (Judges 11:34-40) was ignorant of Leviticus 5:4-6 (though I just stumbled across an essay that claims Jephthah didn’t sacrifice his daughter but merely consigned her to a life of celibacy [according to her own will]).[11]  I had thought that Jephthah’s sacrifice was necessary and in some sense “good,” given my understanding of the law.  Now I consider Jephthah’s attempt to justify himself by law a failure, whether he sacrificed his daughter or consigned her to celibacy, for he did not confess his thoughtless oath.  As James wrote (James 2:10, 11 NET):

For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.  For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.”  Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law.

This time however I see the hero’s journey as an aspect of the religious mind as well.  It seems so much more “heroic” (in the sense that I pay the price of obedience to God’s law) to sacrifice one’s daughter, whether to death or celibacy, than to confess one’s sin.  To confess sin is a weakness and a disgrace by comparison to a hero’s journey.

In the book of Esther, Letters were sent by the runners to all the king’s provinces stating that they should destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews, from youth to elderly, both women and children, on a particular day, namely the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar), and to loot and plunder their possessions.[12]  Esther interceded with the king on behalf of her people: let an edict be written rescinding those recorded intentions of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, which he wrote in order to destroy the Jews who are throughout all the king’s provinces.[13]

But the king’s decree could not be rescinded: Any decree that is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring cannot be rescinded.[14]  The only solution was to write another decree authorizing a day of civil war in the kingdom: The king thereby allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and to stand up for themselves – to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any army of whatever people or province that should become their adversaries, including their women and children, and to confiscate their property.[15]

When Moses interceded with yehôvâh, pleading for the lives of the descendants of Israel (Exodus 32:9-14), the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), unlike the king of Persia, repented (nâcham, וינחם; Septuagint: ἱλάσθη, a form of ἱλάσκομαι) of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.[16]  Follow me, Jesus said.  John wrote (1 John 1:8-2:2 NET):

If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.  (My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.)  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.

The fear of yehôvâh might compel one to sacrifice his daughter, whether to death or celibacy.  To confess one’s sin and bring the appropriate sacrifice, So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin is something else altogether.  To revere yehôvâh is not an altogether unworthy attempt to encapsulate that difference in a word.

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 8

[1] Luke 12:4 (NET)

[2] Deuteronomy 3:21, 22 (NET)

[3] Deuteronomy 4:10b (Tanakh)

[4] Deuteronomy 4:10b (Septuagint)

[5] Deuteronomy 4:4 (Tanakh)

[6] New York Times, April 13, 2008, On the Defensive, Obama Calls His Words Ill-Chosen, by KATHARINE Q. SEELYE and JEFF ZELENY

[7] Proverbs 18:24b (NET)

[8] Romans 3:20b (NET)

[9] John 17:3b (NET)

[10] Commentary on Galatians 3:23

[11] The opposing view is defended adequately in “Jephthah’s Vow

[12] Esther 3:13 (NET)

[13] Esther 8:5b (NET)

[14] Esther 8:8b (NET)

[15] Esther 8:11 (NET)

[16] Exodus 32:14 (KJV)

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 6

My gift is showing mercy.  Also, I’m an outsider in many ways.  I was persona non grata when I returned to my childhood church, ostensibly because my wife divorced me, but the impossibility of repentance after apostasy (Hebrews 6:4-6) is an ever-present potential refutation of my existence.  Rather than feeling marginalized these days I perceive that I am right where I should be at the epidermal interface of the body of Christ and the world.  I see more people flowing out of the body than in presently.  Admittedly, that limited perspective may be a measure of my own ineffectiveness as a witness rather than a measure of problems in the churches from which people have fled.

Given my bias toward mercy I want to consider what I called “Paul’s religious mind” through the lens of Jesus’ teaching: If your brother sins, go and show him his fault (ἔλεγξον, a form of ἐλέγχω) when the two of you are alone.[1]  Paul had every right to bring Leviticus 20:11 to the attention of the man in Corinth who had his father’s wife.  (This study has given me the confidence to write that.)  The primary purpose of such confrontation was clearly stated: If he listens (ἀκούσῃ, a form of ἀκούω) to you, you have regained (ἐκέρδησας, a form of κερδαίνω) your brother.[2]

This was not a slash and burn purging of wickedness.  Paul concurred: Preach the message, he wrote Timothy, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove (ἔλεγξον, a form of ἐλέγχω), rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction.[3]  This straightforward approach, however, was severely hampered since Paul, Silas and Timothy passed on the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the Gentile believers to obey.[4]  For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us, the council had written, not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality (πορνείας, a form of πορνεία[5]).  If you keep yourselves from doing these things, you will do well.[6]

I think Paul wrote about the law—through the law comes the knowledge of sin[7]—in his letter to the Romans to correct the erroneous impression fostered by the Jerusalem Council that everything is lawful.[8]  Obviously, not everyone agrees.  Justin Lee wrote in the essay titled “Justin’s View” under the heading “Not Under a New Law”: “Paul makes it perfectly clear that we as Christians are not under the law — Old Testament or New Testament.  He’s not trying to remove one law only to put us under another one; he’s trying to show us that in Christ, we are free from the law.”

I’ll assume that the man who had his father’s wife was an elder, rebellious, an idle talker, deceiver or someone with Jewish connections[9] and ignore the fact that Paul did not go and show him his fault privately.  So I’m skipping—But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established[10]—assuming that members of Chloe’s household may have done this already.  And I am going straight to, If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.[11]  Paul instructed Timothy: Those [elders] guilty of sin must be rebuked (ἔλεγχε, another form of ἐλέγχω) before all, as a warning to the rest.[12]  For there are many rebellious people, he wrote Titus, idle talkers, and deceivers, especially those with Jewish connections,[13] who must be silenced because they mislead whole families by teaching for dishonest gain what ought not to be taught.  A certain one of them, in fact, one of their own prophets, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”  Such testimony is true.  For this reason rebuke (ἔλεγχε, another form of ἐλέγχω) them sharply that they may be healthy in the faith[14]

The Greek word translated sharply was ἀποτόμως.  It was necessary to add ἀποτόμως to ἔλεγχε to achieve this effect because ordinarily ἔλεγξον (another form of ἐλέγχω) was to be done with complete patience and instruction.  Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians while absent, so that when I arrive I may not have to deal harshly (ἀποτόμως) with you[15]  All those I love, Jesus said, I rebuke (ἐλέγχω) and discipline[16] (e.g., with complete patience and instruction).  And when he comes, Jesus promised, he [the Advocate] will prove the world wrong (ἐλέγξει, another form of ἐλέγχω) concerning sin and righteousness and judgment[17]  I would like to function in harmony with the Holy Spirit rather than at cross purposes.

I don’t know Justin Lee or any more about him than has been revealed on the Gay Christian website, but this study compels me to consider why I am patient with him.  Whether I do it myself or not, should I desire that he be rebuked before all?  He is a leader.  He has used his insights into Scripture to gather a group of followers.  I’ve already acknowledged that more people leave the body of Christ than join or re-enter in my immediate vicinity.

The only person I know who has ever taken my insights seriously died of a brain tumor when we were thirty-six-years-old.  He was my biggest fan and encouraged me to write down what he and I discussed together.  I refused at that time.  Young and still full of delusions of grandeur I said, “The last thing the world needs is another Protestant sect.”  I don’t recall if I said it or not at the time, but I feel for Martin Luther.  Can you imagine being Martin Luther, standing before Jesus?  He looks you in the face and says, “Lutherans? Really?”

After I wrote this I went to work for nine days.  I couldn’t think much more about this essay, so I read Luther’s “Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians” in my down time.  Though I’ve heard and read about Martin Luther all my life I’d never actually read any of his writings.  I still haven’t.  I didn’t read his commentary in Latin but an abridged translation by Theodore Graebner who only consented to write it if he were “permitted to make Luther talk American, ‘streamline’ him, so to speak–because you will never get people, whether in or outside the Lutheran Church, actually to read Luther unless we make him talk as he would talk today to Americans.”[18]  So what I’ve read may actually be more useful to my understanding than unadulterated Luther since it was considered by it’s author (translator, abridger) and publisher to be popular marketable Luther, published four years before I was born.

Justin Lee under the heading “Prooftext #4: The Abomination (Leviticus 18-20)” wrote: “I’ve heard people quote Leviticus to forbid homosexuality and tattoos, but other than that, people generally don’t turn to Leviticus for moral guidance.”  Luther/Graebner wrote: [19]

Either we are not justified by Christ, or we are not justified by the Law. The fact is, we are justified by Christ. Hence, we are not justified by the Law. If we observe the Law in order to be justified, or after having been justified by Christ, we think we must further be justified by the Law, we convert Christ into a legislator and a minister of sin.

If we are discussing justification Mr. Lee has unflagging support from Luther/Graebner:[20]

Now the true Gospel has it that we are justified by faith alone, without the deeds of the Law. The false gospel has it that we are justified by faith, but not without the deeds of the Law. The false apostles preached a conditional gospel…The true Gospel declares that good works are the embellishment of faith, but that faith itself is the gift and work of God in our hearts. Faith is able to justify, because it apprehends Christ, the Redeemer…

Human reason can think only in terms of the Law. It mumbles: “This I have done, this I have not done.” But faith looks to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, given into death for the sins of the whole world. To turn one’s eyes away from Jesus means to turn them to the Law.

True faith lays hold of Christ and leans on Him alone.

Martin Luther’s perhaps unfortunate[21] saying—faith alone—clearly means “faith in Christ alone.”  As Edward Snowden did to the clandestine services Martin Luther blew the whistle on the inner workings of the monastery: “In their writings [the hypocrites] play up the merits of man, as can readily be seen from the following form of absolution used among the monks,” Luther/Graebner wrote:[22]

“God forgive thee, brother. The merit of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the blessed Saint Mary, always a virgin, and of all the saints; the merit of thy order, the strictness of thy religion, the humility of thy profession, the contrition of thy heart, the good works thou hast done and shalt do for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, be available unto thee for the remission of thy sins, the increase of thy worth and grace, and the reward of everlasting life. Amen.”

Faced with this who among us wouldn’t say, “No, justification is by faith alone”?  Yet the intent of even so blatant a denial of Christ was to assuage the inner guilt of unbelieving hearts, something Luther knew intimately:

The person who can rightly divide Law and Gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian. I must confess that in times of temptation I do not always know how to do it. To divide Law and Gospel means to place the Gospel in heaven, and to keep the Law on earth; to call the righteousness of the Gospel heavenly, and the righteousness of the Law earthly; to put as much difference between the righteousness of the Gospel and that of the Law, as there is difference between day and night. If it is a question of faith or conscience, ignore the Law entirely. If it is a question of works, then lift high the lantern of works and the righteousness of the Law. If your conscience is oppressed with a sense of sin, talk to your conscience. Say: “You are now groveling in the dirt. You are now a laboring ass. Go ahead, and carry your burden. But why don’t you mount up to heaven? There the Law cannot follow you!” Leave the ass burdened with laws behind in the valley. But your conscience, let it ascend with Isaac into the mountain.

In civil life obedience to the law is severely required. In civil life Gospel, conscience, grace, remission of sins, Christ Himself, do not count, but only Moses with the lawbooks. If we bear in mind this distinction, neither Gospel nor Law shall trespass upon each other. The moment Law and sin cross into heaven, i.e., your conscience, kick them out. On the other hand, when grace wanders unto the earth, i.e., into the body, tell grace: “You have no business to be around the dreg and dung of this bodily life. You belong in heaven.”[23]

I’m not sure I could endorse so severe a distinction between “faith or conscience” and “civil life,” so strict a separation of church and state as this.  But I get the concept that a weak conscience is extremely offended by God’s law.  So in that sense I would say a harsh criticism of Mr. Lee is unwarranted if justification is the issue.  A homosexual is justified by faith in Christ just as a man prone to outbursts of anger is justified by faith in Christ.  I’m keying here on the phrase will not inherit the kingdom of God, θεοῦ βασιλείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and βασιλείαν θεοῦ οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν in Galatians 5:21 to equate μαλακοὶ (a form of μαλακός) and ἀρσενοκοῖται (a form of ἀρσενοκοίτης) with θυμοί (a form of θυμός translated outbursts of anger.

Mr. Lee argued under the heading “Prooftext #3: The Sinful ‘Arsenokoitai’ (1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10)”: “The most likely explanation is that Paul is referring to a practice that was fairly common in the Greek culture of his day — married men who had sex with male youths on the side[24]…many scholars believe that ‘malakoi’ and ‘arsenokoitai’ are meant to be taken together, so that the malakoi are the young men who service the arsenokoitai.”  In my opinion his arguments should be accepted or refuted on their own merits without questioning Mr. Lee’s justification by faith in Jesus Christ.  I don’t intend to argue any of that here.  I’ve already stated my belief that, You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman,[25] still functions as knowledge of sin.  I believe that the civility of that argument is of far more importance spiritually than its outcome.

As long as people who share my belief impugn the justification of people who believe as Mr. Lee believes, more homosexuals will be called to faith (which is not necessarily a bad thing).  Consider what Paul understood about God’s calling (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NET):

Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters.  Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position.  But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.  God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence.  He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

What concerns me here is what if we are right?  What if, by constantly harassing and forcing them to defend their justification, we do not give homosexual believers the space and liberty to hear from the Holy Spirit?  I take Martin Luther as my point of departure.  On his website Shameless Popery under the heading “2. Less Catholic, Less Christian,” Joe Heschmeyer wrote:

When Catholics point out that several of Luther’s early writings sound pretty Catholic, the standard Protestant response (and a quite reasonable one, I might add), is that Luther wasn’t completely reformed yet. Even after he went into schism, he spent another quarter-century slowly divesting himself of his Catholic beliefs. But what’s remarkable is that, as Luther became less and less Catholic, he became less and less Christian.

Mr. Heschmeyer diagnosed Luther’s problem as pride but that sounds like begging the question to me.  What was it in Martin Luther’s knowing of Jesus’ Father and Jesus Himself that encouraged or allowed him to become more prideful as he aged?  I’ll pick this up in another essay.

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 7

Back to Who Am I? Part 5

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 1

Back to Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2

[1] Matthew 18:15a (NET)

[2] Matthew 18:15b (NET)

[3] 2 Timothy 4:2 (NET)

[4] Acts 16:4 (NET)

[5] I think this is why Paul called the sin of a man who had his father’s wife πορνεία twice in in 1 Corinthians 5:1.

[6] Acts 15:28, 29 (NET)

[7] Romans 3:20b (NET)

[8] 1 Corinthians 10:23a (NET)

[9] Titus 1:10 (NET)

[10] Matthew 18:16 (NET)

[11] Matthew 18:17a (NET)

[12] 1 Timothy 5:20 (NET)

[13] NET note 14: “Grk ‘those of the circumcision.’ Some translations take this to refer to Jewish converts to Christianity (cf. NAB ‘Jewish Christians’; TEV ‘converts from Judaism’; CEV ‘Jewish followers’) while others are less clear (cf. NLT ‘those who insist on circumcision for salvation’).”

[14] Titus 1:10-13 (NET)

[15] 2 Corinthians 13:10 (NET)

[16] Revelation 3:19a (NET)

[17] John 16:8 (NET)

[18] Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, Martin Luther, translated and abridged by Theodore Graebner, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1949, Preface

[19] Commentary on Galatians 2:17

[20] Commentary on Galatians 2:4, 5

[21] I found this interesting article on his “epistle of straw” comment online.

[22] Commentary on Galatians 2:18

[23] Commentary on Galatians 2:14

[24] This is the meaning of “love” espoused by some in Plato’s Symposium: “For I know not any greater blessing to a young man who is beginning life than a virtuous lover or to the lover than a beloved youth…And if there were only some way of contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and their loves, they would be the very best governors of their own city, abstaining from all dishonour, and emulating one another in honour; and when fighting at each other’s side, although a mere handful, they would overcome the world. For what lover would not choose rather to be seen by all mankind than by his beloved, either when abandoning his post or throwing away his arms? He would be ready to die a thousand deaths rather than endure this. Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger? The veriest coward would become an inspired hero, equal to the bravest, at such a time; Love would inspire him.”

[25] Leviticus 18:22 (NET)

Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 11

My bias that—He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked[1]—prophesies Jesus’ return to earth to preach the Gospel effectively (as opposed to executing people for a thousand years) led me to investigate just who the wicked are.  I found a succinct definition of wicked sinners as those who would not Stop trusting in human beings, whose life’s breath is in their nostrils.[2]  Isaiah’s prophecy about the life these wicked sinners lead continued (Isaiah 3:12-15)




Oppressors treat my people cruelly, creditors rule over them.  My people’s leaders mislead them; they give you confusing directions. O my people, your extractors strip you clean, and your creditors lord it over you. O my people, those who congratulate you mislead you and confuse the path of your feet. As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.
The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) takes his position to judge; he stands up to pass sentence on his people.   But now the Lord will stand up to judge, and he will make his people stand to judge them. The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.
The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) comes to pronounce judgment on the leaders of his people and their officials.  He says, “It is you who have ruined the vineyard!  You have stashed in your houses what you have stolen from the poor.   The Lord himself will enter into judgment with the elders of the people and with their rulers. But you, why have you burned my vineyard, and why is the spoil of the poor in your houses? The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
Why do you crush my people and grind the faces of the poor?”  The sovereign (ʼădônây, אדני) Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) who commands armies has spoken. Why do you wrong my people and shame the face of the poor? [In the Septuagint “This is what the Lord says” begins verse 16.] What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

The NET translators explained their word choices in verse 12 in a long note (29).  Perhaps only the leaders (zâqên, זקני) and officials (śar, ושׁריו) were the wicked sinners, but I’m not hearing it that way.  I think the leaders and officials merited special mention because they led and encouraged yehôvâh’s people to become wicked sinners, those who trust in human beings, who rebel (mârâh, למרות) against yehôvâh, both their words (lâshôn, לשונם) and their actions (maʽălâl, ומעלליהם).  This definition of wicked sinners more or less applies to all of us.  As a case in point I’ll quote from a blog I receive regularly.

John Wesley Reid ended a post with advice from his pastor:  “My pastor laid out a pretty solid approach to avoiding sexual temptation, while the model can be used for any form of temptation.”  It was essentially a to-do list: refuse, consider the consequences, focus on God and ignore the lies of the enemy, avoid/run, and accountability.  I asked Mr. Reid if this was presented as an alternative or adjunct to our death to sin and the fruit of the Spirit, but haven’t received a reply.  He may not remember.  It is exactly the kind of list I would have fixated on to the exclusion of everything else.

The list follows in detail with my comments:

Just say no. Remember that you’re made for more than this.

“Just say no” from the Nancy Reagan anti-drug campaign reminds me of yehôvâh’s words to Cain (Genesis 4:6, 7 NET):

Why are you angry, and why is your expression downcast?  Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.

This is where sin (chaṭṭâʼâh, חטאת) enters the pages of the Bible, pictured as a four-legged beast about to pounce on its prey, Cain.  And this is yehôvâh at his most aloof.  He prophesies what is about to happen to Cain and says simply—rule (mâshal, תמשל).  As I’ve said before I don’t know Hebrew, but you must subdue it looks and sounds to me like a religious mind trying to turn a word into a law long before the law was given.  In fact, knowing what is about to happen and what He is not doing about it, yehôvâh seems to be actively not making a specific commandment for Cain to disobey.

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”  While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.[3]

Though my religious mind wants to argue that Cain was more wicked than itself, Cain was a fair representative of the descendants of Adam.  Seth wasn’t the only one born in Adam’s own likeness, according to his image.  On the contrary, though Adam and Eve were made (ʽâśâh, עשׁה) originally in the likeness of God[4] (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) after he violated God’s command Adam had children in his own likeness, according to his imageLook, I was guilty of sin (ʽâvôn, בעוון; Septuagint: ἀνομίαις, a form of ἀνομία) from birth, David confessed, a sinner (chêṭʼ, ובחטא; Septuagint: ἁμαρτίαις, a form of ἁμαρτία) the moment my mother conceived me.[5]  Paul explained (Romans 5:12-19 NET):

So then, just as sin (ἁμαρτία) entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law.  Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam (who is a type of the coming one) transgressed.  But the gracious gift is not like the transgression.  For if the many died through the transgression of the one man, how much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ multiply to the many!  And the gift is not like the one who sinned.  For judgment (κρίμα), resulting from the one transgression, led to condemnation (κατάκριμα), but the gracious gift from the many failures led to justification.  For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ!

Consequently, just as condemnation (κατάκριμα) for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man many will be made righteous.

Again Paul contrasted the image of Adam and the image of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 45-49 NET):

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man.  For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living person”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual.  The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven.  Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly.  And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven.

“I tell you the solemn truth,” Jesus said to Nicodemus, “unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’”[6]

So if I am tempted to sin and the Holy Spirit reminds me—you are more valuable than many sparrows[7]—or— do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own[8]—or any other Scripture, and I hear and believe and turn from that sin, that is walking or living by the Spirit.  But to turn back then and say—I refused to sin; I just said no; I ruled—is to misunderstand what happened, mislead those who hear me and grieve the Holy Spirit.

Consider the consequences
Sin fosters sin and sexual sin carries implications of insecurity and a lack of self-worth.

This is Old Testament law plain and simple.  Today I invoke heaven and earth as a witness against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you.  Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live![9]  And, Then Joshua read aloud all the words of the law, including the blessings and the curses, just as they are written in the law scroll.[10]  We know how this worked out for Israel: not only did they fail to obey yehôvâh’s law, they rejected Him  when He came to forgive them for it and fulfill (πληρῶσαι, a form of πληρόω) the law and the prophets.

Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God?  Absolutely not!  For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.  But the scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin so that the promise could be given – because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ – to those who believe.[11]  Through the law comes the knowledge of sin.[12]  God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh,[13] born in the likeness of Adam, according to his image.  If I try to fulfill my desire for righteousness by obeying rules I play to sin’s strength; the power of sin is the law.[14]

For I don’t understand what I am doing.  For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate.  But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good.  But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me.  For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.[15]

For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh.  By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.[16]

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God.  For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.[17]

For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.  For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.[18]

When Olive (Emma Stone) finally confessed her fake prostitution in the movie “Easy A”, her mother (Patricia Clarkson) shocked her daughter, confessing:

“I had a similar situation when I was your age.”

“What?” Olive asks incredulously.  “Everyone called you a slut?”

“I had a horrible reputation and people said awful things about me.”


“Because I was a slut.  I slept with a whole bunch of people.  A slew, a heap, a peck.  Mostly Guys.”


“Sorry, I got around.  Before I met Dad, I had incredibly low self-worth.”

I can’t say that I think much about my self-worth.  I am not loved because I am worthy but because God is love (1 John 4:7-19).  I do consider whether He is getting what He is owed out of me.  Jesus said, So you too, when you have done everything you were commanded to do, should say, “We are slaves (δοῦλοι, a form of δοῦλος) undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty.” [19] The Greek word translated was our duty is ὠφείλομεν (a form of ὀφείλω), literally “what was owed.”  Why is it owed?

Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Jesus asked.  Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.  In fact, even the hairs on your head are all numbered.  Do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows.[20]  And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus,[21] Paul wrote the Philippians, including the gift of righteousness, the love that is the fulfillment of the law, the fruit of his Spirit.  But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.[22]

I’ll pick this up again next time.

Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 12

Back to Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 13

[1] Isaiah 11:4b (NIV)

[2] Isaiah 2:22a (NET)

[3] Genesis 4:8 (NET)

[4] Genesis 5:1 (NET)

[5] Psalm 51:5 (NET)

[6] John 3:5-7 (NET)

[7] Matthew 10:31b (NET)

[8] 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NET)

[9] Deuteronomy 30:19 (NET)

[10] Joshua 8:34 (NET)

[11] Galatians 3:21, 22 (NET)

[12] Romans 3:20b (NET)

[13] Romans 8:3a (NET)

[14] 1 Corinthians 15:56b (NET)

[15] Romans 7:15-20 (NET)

[16] Romans 8:3, 4 (NET)

[17] Romans 7:4-6 (NET)

[18] Romans 8:5-9a (NET)

[19] Luke 17:10 (NET)

[20] Luke 12:6, 7 (NET)

[21] Philippians 4:19 (NET)

[22] Galatians 5:16 (NET)

My Reasons and My Reason, Part 7

I am persuaded that the primary meaning of πορνεία in the New Testament refers to ancient idolatrous worship practices.  It can be stretched to mean adultery in general (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 NET):

For this is God’s will: that you become holy, that you keep away from πορνείας (a form of πορνεία), that each of you know how to possess his own body in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God.  In this matter no one should violate the rights of his brother or take advantage of him, because the Lord is the avenger in all these cases, as we also told you earlier and warned you solemnly.  For God did not call us to impurity (ἀκαθαρσία) but in holiness.

At least I hope Paul meant that one should not violate the rights of his brother by committing adultery with his wife, rather than that he should simply pass by her at a cultic festival (though I admit that ἀκαθαρσία sounds a lot like demonic worship here).  Paul may have used πορνεία to mean the list of sins found in Leviticus 18:6-23 (1 Corinthians 5:1 NET):

It is actually reported that πορνεία exists among you, the kind of πορνεία that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with (ἔχειν, a form of ἔχω) his father’s wife.

If the man’s father was alive this is simply another instance where Paul used πορνεία for adultery.  (Remember πορνεία was almost the only word Paul had for sin as long as he accepted the gutting of the law at the Jerusalem Council.)  If the man’s father was dead πορνεία meant: You must not have sexual intercourse with your father’s wife; she is your father’s nakedness[1] or, A man may not marry his father’s former wife and in this way dishonor his father.[2]

In contemporary Greek πορνεία translates as prostitution in the headline Παιδική πορνεία.  If I select “Translate this Page” Παιδική πορνεία is rendered “Child prostitution.”

The one thing I am persuaded now that πορνεία does not mean in the New Testament is what two teenagers might do in the backseat of a Chevy on a Friday night.  They are not committing πορνεία but marriage by performing the only wedding ceremony yehôvâh ʼĕlôhı̂ym ever created, authorized or honored: If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged and has sexual relations with her, he must surely endow her to be his wife.  If her father refuses to give her to him, he must pay money for the bride price of virgins.[3]

When I was young it angered me that God gave such undue authority to an autocratic father.  Now that I know Him better and have lived with, and loved, a daughter, though the autocratic father may always be a possible type, I think the point was to give that authority to the one most attuned to his daughter’s heart on the matter in an uncomfortable social situation.  One reason for rejecting this law is the embarrassment a contemporary person feels over its companion legislation (Deuteronomy 22:28, 29 NET):

Suppose a man comes across a virgin who is not engaged and overpowers and rapes her and they are discovered.  The man who has raped her must pay her father fifty shekels of silver and she must become his wife because he has violated her; he may never divorce her as long as he lives.

A scene in the movie “Fury” cast this legislation in a different light.  In April 1945, days from the end of the war in Europe, First Sergeant Collier—Wardaddy—an American tank commander, spies a woman peeking down at them from an upstairs window in the German town they have just conquered.  Wardaddy calls to Norman, Private Ellison, and the two men, armed with machine guns, head inside and up the stairs.  I have every reason to assume that Wardaddy is continuing Norman’s indoctrination into the ways of war.

Norman, a clerk trained to type 60 words per minute, was assigned to Wardaddy’s tank crew as a replacement assistant driver.  His failure and refusal to pull the trigger endangers the rest of his crew and everyone around him.  Wardaddy has already forced him to kill a German prisoner in a macabre hand-over-hand imitation of a mother teaching a child to form letters with a crayon.  I can only imagine what new lesson Wardaddy has in store for him, though the two German women have no illusions that they are anything to their armed invaders but spoils of war.

Wardaddy puts down his weapon, and tells Norman to do likewise, once he has determined that the two women are the only occupants of the apartment.  It’s a clear sign to the women, beautiful young Emma and her older cousin, that they may survive their ordeal if they comply with Wardaddy’s wishes.

Wardaddy wishes to wash with hot water, shave and eat a fried egg.  Norman plays a piece of sheet music at the piano.  Emma, delighted, sings the song and turns the page for him.  She stops when she notices the scars on Wardaddy’s back.

“She’s a good clean girl,” Wardaddy says to Norman.  “If you don’t take her in that bedroom, I will.”

Emma doesn’t need a translator to know what’s expected of her.  Given the opportunity to choose her rapist, she leads her young accompanist into the bedroom.  Norman retrieves his machine gun on the way.  Emma’s older cousin attempts to follow them, whether to intervene or to serve as a substitute is unclear.  Wardaddy stops her with a gesture and a word in German:

“No.  They’re young and they’re alive.”

As a rapist Norman is patient and gentle as a lover.  He and Emma, representing the human beings least degraded by war, exit that bedroom as husband and wife.  They know it.  Wardaddy knows it.  And so does Emma’s older cousin.  As they sit down to a wedding feast of fried eggs the rest of his tank crew—Coon-Ass, Gordo and Bible—knock at the door, calling for Norman.

Coon-Ass and Gordo have cajoled or coerced a “whore” to “entertain” them, and others, one at a time in the tank downstairs.  They have come to share her with Norman.  I get the impression that if Norman were not already married to Emma, Coon-Ass and Gordo would make it very difficult for him to refuse his share.  But seeing Emma, Coon-Ass in particular, representing the man most degraded by war, wants his share of her.  Now, however, even Coon-Ass isn’t likely to take her without Norman’s acquiescence.

“Don’t touch her!” Norman says with the all the force of a petulant child.

“Anyone touches the girl,” Wardaddy says, putting not only his rank but his personal power and authority on the line, “they get their teeth kicked in.”

Coon-Ass and Gordo are deeply hurt.  Even Bible, though apparently powerful enough in the pecking order to abstain from the women without suffering personal repercussions, is hurt to have been excluded from the wedding feast.  They remind Wardaddy that they have been together, brothers in arms, since the Normandy invasion.  Norman has not.

I suspect that Wardaddy would not have denied his brothers, Coon-Ass and Gordo, if they had gotten to Emma first.  He, as degraded by war as any of them, could not risk his rank, personal power or authority except for Norman’s or, if necessary, his own new bride.

And for those who think it might have been a better film, or Emma might have been a better woman, if she had fought to the death to defend her honor, a stray shell kills her in the next scene.  Norman grieves like a widower, though duty calls and limits his opportunity to do her justice.

If one or both of the teenagers in the Chevy come back Saturday night to perform the same ceremony with different partners, they would be guilty of adultery as long as the other lives.  The point was never to make adultery—or divorce, for that matter—the unpardonable sin.  The point was to get religious people to acknowledge that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.[4]

Other reasons for rejecting the view of marriage described in the law are 1) that a daughter who acted so precipitously may have robbed her father of a better bride price.  Or, 2) in more contemporary terms she may rob herself of a more lucrative match.  And 3) governing bodies, both secular and religious, want to regulate marriage.

Do they have that right (Matthew 16:19; 18:18 NKJV)?

And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

This certainly sounds like Peter and James had the authority to gut the law.  Were they the only ones?  In the United States of America a woman is free to couple or uncouple as she pleases because she is “endowed by [her] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”[5]  I often wonder why the lawyers, legal historians, philosophers and ministers who signed the Declaration of Independence didn’t forsee that the pursuit of personal happiness would come to dominate and define both life and liberty.

I’ve been taught to think like John Miller in his March 7, 2015 response to comments and an essay on happiness on blog.dictionary.com:

Everyone here really doesn’t understand the colonial meaning of the phrase.  Pursuit of happiness referred to the pursuit of holiness or godliness.  It had nothing to do with personal pleasures.  Our founders understood that morality and religion were required for a republic to succeed and in those times when someone pursued happiness it was a pursuit of that which is godly.  Sadly, that’s something very few Americans do these days and will be the source of our nation’s demise.

But the Declaration of Independence did not say “that all men are…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are” the pursuit of Christ and his righteousness.  It said, “pursuit of Happiness.”  And I think I can say on the authority of Scripture and a bare knowledge of American history that “the pursuit of Christ and his righteousness” would never have gained consensus.

That, I think, is what I witness in both the Jerusalem Council and the Declaration of Independence.  They are prime examples of the achievements of committee work and consensus building.  They happened.  They are there for all to see.  I don’t believe these particular results of either exercise.  They are not my faith.  I think what Jesus meant was that those who trust Him would be led by his Holy Spirit (Matthew 16:19; 18:18 NET):

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.

I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.

One of the ways to know what has been bound and released in heaven is to know God’s law, not because one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law but because the law discloses what displeases Him: through the law comes the knowledge of sin.[6]

I should clarify my thoughts on happiness: I had my ticket home.  I was ready to go.  I would have been happy to sit and watch my daughter’s graduation ceremony from college.  But my twenty-three-year-old daughter had a stroke before I arrived.  Then I was happy to sit and watch as she chewed food and swallowed without choking on it.

I am grateful for happiness.  I think it is essential to the ongoing occupation of living here and now.  But I don’t have a clue how to pursue it.  When I’ve tried, the people, achievements, occupations and possessions I thought would make me happy, did not, not any more or any less than the normal ebb and flow of when I had not pursued happiness.  I will pursue Christ and his righteousness instead.

And to the wag who may say I only do that because it makes me happy, I can honestly answer, not always, my friend, at times it is a sad or a painful thing to do.  Still, it has its moments.

Back to David’s Forgiveness, Part 6

Back to Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 12

My Reasons and My Reason, Part 8

[1] Leviticus 18:8 (NET)

[2] Deuteronomy 22:30 (NET)

[3] Exodus 22:16, 17 (NET)

[4] Romans 3:23, 24 (NET)

[5] http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

[6] Romans 3:20 (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


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).




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


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 51

Love must be without hypocrisy.[1]  A note in the NET explained that must be “is understood in the Greek text”  Ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος.  I am inclined to see it more as a subject heading: The love unfeigned,[2] as Robert Young[3] translated it.  I think Paul’s thinking shifted naturally from the gifts of the Spirit in Romans 12:3-8 to the fruit of the Spirit in Romans 12:9-21, this unfeignedwithout hypocrisygenuine[4]sincere[5] love.  I don’t know Greek so I thought it best to study the translation of the words ἀγάπη and ἀνυπόκριτος to see if the NET translators had a good reason for regarding Ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος as a rule rather than a subject heading.

James used ἀνυπόκριτος in exactly this form, the wisdom from above is (ἐστιν, a form of εἰμί)[6] first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical (ἀνυπόκριτος).[7]  The verb of being ἐστιν (is) occurs in this sentence, while no verb occurs in Ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος.  The mere presence of ἀνυπόκριτος, however, did not persuade the NET translators to supply must be here: the wisdom from above [must be] first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical.  I found over sixty occurrences of ἀγάπη in the New Testament (listed at the end of this essay).  I’ll only comment on those where a verb was supplied by the translators.

There is no verb in, But the greatest of these is love,[8] μείζων δὲ τούτων ἡ ἀγάπη.  Is was supplied here and in Robert Young’s translation, and the greatest of these is love.[9]  Love [is] without hypocrisy would still be definitional rather than a rule if is had been supplied rather than must be.  In, My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus,[10] the preposition μετὰ[11] was translated be with, as in, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with (μετὰ) you all.[12]  Young supplied is in both instances, my love is with you all in Christ Jesus,[13] and, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, is with you all.[14]

The clause in English—so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love,[15] which seems more like a phrase in Greek, ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι—is interesting.  Consider, Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted (ἐρριζωμένοι, a form of ῥιζόω)[16] and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.[17]  Here ἐρριζωμένοι was translated simply rooted.  Young translated it being rooted: as, then, ye did receive Christ Jesus the Lord, in him walk ye, being rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith[18]  At first glance I thought the NET translators described something that happened in the past while Young described ongoing action.  On closer inspection it seemed that the NET translators tried to accommodate the sense of ongoing action with the word continue.  They translated περιπατεῖτε (a form of περιπατέω)[19] continue to live, where Young translated it simply walk.

It is the same in, And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds, but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him – if indeed you remain in the faith, established (τεθεμελιωμένοι, a form of θεμελιόω)[20] and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard.[21]  Here τεθεμελιωμένοι was translated simply established, while Young translated it being founded: if also ye remain in the faith, being founded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the good news[22]

So I wondered why ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι wasn’t translated “in love rooted and established” in the NET rather than, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:14-19 NET).

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named.  I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, [in love rooted and established] so that…you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Young’s translation reads, that the Christ may dwell through the faith in your hearts, in love having been rooted and founded[23]  Obviously there is something more than the word ending that determines the tense of the verb, whether it indicates something that happened in the past or something ongoing.  This exercise however has made it much clearer to me how intricately faith and love are intertwined in God’s action and mine.  He strengthens me in the inner person with power through his Spirit that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith, or, that the Christ may dwell through the faith in my heart, in love having been rooted and founded, established, grounded.  I for my part continue to live my life in Him just as I received Christ Jesus as Lord; that is, by faith, being rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith.  And so I remain in the faith, being founded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the good news.

This is why I want  Ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος to be a subject heading—“This love without hypocrisy”—rather than a rule—Love must be without hypocrisy.  And I’m not deaf.  I hear how ridiculously pedantic that sounds.  But for me it is a matter of life and death.  I used to rush through Paul’s “jibber-jabber” to get to his rules, to honor my contract with God, as if the man who wrote of God’s law—For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin[24]—believed that adherence to his own rules could make anyone righteous.

In the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul described God’s love, the love that is the fruit of his Spirit, the love that is the fulfillment of the law.  I believe he described that same love here in Romans 12:9-21.  Abhor what is evil, he wrote, cling to what is good.[25]  In the past this “rule” only confirmed me in my folly.  It was up to me, I thought, to abhor sin and keep the law, or Paul’s definition of love as if it were a law.  But the word translated evil is πονηρόν, a form of πονηρός.[26]

Frankly, I can think of nothing more “1) full of labours, annoyances, hardships 1a) pressed and harassed by labours 1b) bringing toils, annoyances, perils; of a time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness; causing pain and trouble 2) bad, of a bad nature or condition 2a) in a physical sense: diseased or blind 2b) in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad” than the belief that I should or could make myself righteous by obeying the law or Paul’s definition of love as if it were a law.

Whenever I attempted it I wasn’t living my life in Him just as I received Christ Jesus as Lord.  I wasn’t remaining in the faith, being founded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the good news.  I wasn’t even clinging to what is good (ἀγαθῷ, a form of ἀγαθός).[27]

No one is good (ἀγαθὸς) except God alone,[28] Jesus said.


Translation in NET

Greek Text


…the love of many will grow cold.

Matthew 24:12 (NET)

ψυγήσεται ἡ ἀγάπη τῶν πολλῶν ψυγήσεται (will grow cold)
…remain in my love.

John 15:9 (NET)

μείνατε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐμῇ μείνατε (remain)
…you will remain in my love…

John 15:10 (NET)

μενεῖτε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ μου μενεῖτε (you will remain)
…and remain in his love.

John 15:10 (NET)

καὶ μένω αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ μένω (remain)
…so that the love you have loved me with may be in them…

John 17:26 (NET)

ἵνα ἡ ἀγάπη ἣν ἠγάπησας με ἐν αὐτοῖς ἠγάπησας (you have loved)
…because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts…

Romans 5:5 (NET)

ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ ἐκκέχυται ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν ἐκκέχυται (has been poured out)
Love does no wrong to a neighbor.

Romans 13:10 (NET)

ἡ ἀγάπη τῷ πλησίον κακὸν οὐκ ἐργάζεται ἐργάζεται (does)
Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:10 (NET)

πλήρωμα οὖν νόμου ἡ ἀγάπη πλήρωμα (is the fulfillment)
Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

1 Corinthians 4:21 (NET)

ἐν ράβδῳ ἔλθω πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἢ ἐν ἀγάπῃ πνεύματι τε πραΰτητος ἔλθω (Shall I come)
…but love builds up.

1 Corinthians 8:1 (NET)

ἡ δὲ ἀγάπη οἰκοδομεῖ οἰκοδομεῖ (builds up)
Love is patient…

1 Corinthians 13:4 (NET)

Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ μακροθυμεῖ (is patient, i.e., perseveres)
…love is kind…

1 Corinthians 13:4 (NET)

χρηστεύεται ἡ ἀγάπη χρηστεύεται (is kind, i.e., full of service to others)
Love never ends.

1 Corinthians 13:8 (NET)

Ἡ ἀγάπη οὐδέποτε πίπτει πίπτει (ends)
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NET)

Νυνὶ δὲ μένει πίστις, ἐλπίς, ἀγάπη, τὰ τρία ταῦτα μένει (remain)
But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NET)

μείζων δὲ τούτων ἡ ἀγάπη None (is was supplied)
Everything you do should be done in love.

1 Corinthians 16:14 (NET)

πάντα ὑμῶν ἐν ἀγάπῃ γινέσθω γινέσθω (do should be done)
My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 16:24 (NET)

ἡ ἀγάπη μου μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ None (be was supplied)
For the love of Christ controls us…

2 Corinthians 5:14 (NET)

ἡ γὰρ ἀγάπη τοῦ Χριστοῦ συνέχει ἡμᾶς συνέχει (controls)
…by genuine love…

2 Corinthians 6:6 (NET)

ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἀνυποκρίτῳ None
…and in the love from us that is in you…

2 Corinthians 8:7 (NET)

καὶ τῇ ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐν ὑμῖν ἀγάπῃ None
…and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:13 (NET)

καὶ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἡ κοινωνία τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν None (be was supplied)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love…

Galatians 5:22 (NET)

ὁ δὲ καρπὸς τοῦ πνεύματος ἐστιν ἀγάπη ἐστιν (is)
…that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love.

Ephesians 1:4 (NET)

εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ εἶναι (may be)
…so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love…

Ephesians 3:17 (NET)

ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι (rooted and grounded; so that [ἵνα v. 18], because you have been was supplied)  In Colossians 2:7 (NET) ἐρριζωμένοι is   translated rooted.  In Colossians 1:23 (NET) τεθεμελιωμένοι is translated simply established.
…bearing with one another in love…

Ephesians 4:2 (NET)

ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἀνεχόμενοι (bearing, i.e., to hold up, to sustain, to endure)
But practicing the truth in love…

Ephesians 4:15 (NET)

ἀληθεύοντες δὲ ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἀληθεύοντες (practicing the truth, i.e., speaking, teaching, professing truth)
As each one does its part, the body grows in love.

Ephesians 4:16 (NET)

ἑνὸς ἑκάστου μέρους τὴν αὔξησιν τοῦ σώματος ποιεῖται εἰς οἰκοδομὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ (as each one its part grows the body does into building up himself in love)
…and live in love…

Ephesians 5:2 (NET)

καὶ περιπατεῖτε ἐν ἀγάπῃ περιπατεῖτε (live, lit. to walk)
…and love with faith…

Ephesians 6:23 (NET)

καὶ ἀγάπη μετὰ πίστεως None (nothing supplied)
…that your love may abound even more and more…

Philippians 1:9 (NET)

ἵνα ἡ ἀγάπη ὑμῶν ἔτι μᾶλλον καὶ μᾶλλον περισσεύῃ περισσεύῃ (may abound)
…having been knit together in love…

Colossians 2:2 (NET)

συμβιβασθέντες ἐν ἀγάπῃ συμβιβασθέντες (having been knit together)
And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love…

1 Thessalonians 3:12

ὑμᾶς δὲ ὁ κύριος πλεονάσαι καὶ περισσεύσαι τῇ ἀγάπῃ πλεονάσαι καὶ περισσεύσαι (cause to increase and abound)
…and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work.

1 Thessalonians 5:13 (NET)

καὶ ἡγεῖσθαι αὐτοὺς ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ διὰ τὸ ἔργον αὐτῶν ἡγεῖσθαι (to esteem)
…and the love of each one of you all for one another is ever greater.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 (NET)

καὶ πλεονάζει ἡ ἀγάπη ἑνὸς ἑκάστου πάντων ὑμῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους πλεονάζει (is ever greater)
But the aim of our instruction is love…

1 Timothy 1:5 (NET)

τὸ δὲ τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας ἐστὶν ἀγάπη ἐστὶν (is)
…if she continues in faith and love and holiness with self-control.

1 Timothy 2:15 (NET)

ἐὰν μείνωσιν ἐν πίστει καὶ ἀγάπῃ καὶ ἁγιασμῷ μετὰ σωφροσύνης μείνωσιν (she continues, literally, they continue)
…but set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity.

1 Timothy 4:12 (NET)

ἀλλὰ τύπος γίνου τῶν πιστῶν ἐν λόγῳ, ἐν ἀναστροφῇ, ἐν ἀγάπῃ, ἐν πίστει, ἐν ἁγνείᾳ γίνου (set, literally, to become – τύπος γίνου: become the mark or image)
Hold to the standard of sound words that you heard from me and do so with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:13 (NET)

῾Υποτύπωσιν ἔχε ὑγιαινόντων λόγων ὧν παρ᾿ ἐμοῦ ἤκουσας ἐν πίστει καὶ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἔχε (hold, literally to have)
You, however, have followed my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance…

2 Timothy 3:10 (NET)

Σὺ δὲ παρηκολούθησας μου τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ, τῇ ἀγωγῇ, τῇ προθέσει, τῇ πίστει, τῇ μακροθυμίᾳ, τῇ ἀγάπῃ, τῇ ὑπομονῇ παρηκολούθησας (have followed)
Older men are to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

Titus 2:2 (NET)

Πρεσβύτας νηφαλίους εἶναι, σεμνούς, σώφρονας, ὑγιαίνοντας τῇ πίστει, τῇ ἀγάπῃ, τῇ ὑπομονῇ εἶναι (are to be)
I have had great joy and encouragement because of your love…

Philemon 1:7 (NET)

χαρὰν γὰρ πολλὴν ἔσχον καὶ παράκλησιν ἐπὶ τῇ ἀγάπῃ σου ἔσχον (I have had)
…because love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8 (NET)

ὅτι ἀγάπη καλύπτει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶνSeptuagint: δὲ τοὺς μὴ   φιλονεικοῦντας καλύπτει φιλία (Proverbs 10:12) καλύπτει (covers)
…truly in this person the love of God has been perfected.

1 John 2:5 (NET)

ἀληθῶς ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ τετελείωται τετελείωται (has been perfected)
…the love of the Father is not in him…

1 John 2:15 (NET)

οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ ἔστιν (is)
…how can the love of God reside in such a person?

1 John 3:17 (NET)

πῶς ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ μένει ἐν αὐτῷ μένει (can reside)
…because love is from God…

1 John 4:7 (NET)

ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν ἐστιν (is)
…because God is love.

1 John 4:8 (NET)

ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν ἐστιν (is)
By this the love of God is revealed in us…

1 John 4:9 (NET)

ἐν τούτῳ ἐφανερώθη ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν ἐφανερώθη (is revealed)
In this is love…

1 John 4:10 (NET)

ἐν τούτῳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἀγάπη ἐστιν (is)
…and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:12 (NET)

καὶ ἡ ἀγάπη αὐτοῦ |ἐν ἡμῖν| τετελειωμένη ἐστίν τετελειωμένη ἐστίν (is perfected)
God is love…

1 John 4:16 (NET)

Ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν ἐστιν (is)
…and the one who resides in love resides in God…

1 John 4:16 (NET)

καὶ ὁ μένων ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ ἐν τῷ θεῷ μένει μένων (resides); μένει (resides)
By this love is perfected with us…

1 John 4:17 (NET)

Ἐν τούτῳ τετελείωται ἡ ἀγάπη μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν τετελείωται (is perfected)
There is no fear in love…

1 John 4:18 (NET)

φόβος οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ ἔστιν (is, literally, “fear is not in love”)
…but perfect love drives out fear…

1 John 4:18 (NET)

ἀλλ᾿ ἡ τελεία ἀγάπη ἔξω βάλλει τὸν φόβον βάλλει (drives; i.e., “to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls”)
The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:18 (NET)

ὁ δὲ φοβούμενος οὐ τετελείωται ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ τετελείωται (has been perfected); οὐ τετελείωται (has not been perfected)
For this is the love of God…

1 John 5:3 (NET)

αὕτη γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν (is)
Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us … in truth and love.

2 John 1:3 (NET)

ἔσται μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν χάρις ἔλεος εἰρήνη … ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ ἀγάπῃ ἔσται (will be)
Now this is love…

2 John 1:6 (NET)

καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἀγάπη ἐστὶν (is)
They have testified to your love before the church.

3 John 1:6 (NET)

οἳ ἐμαρτύρησαν σου τῇ ἀγάπῃ ἐνώπιον ἐκκλησίας ἐμαρτύρησαν (They have testified)
May mercy, peace, and love be lavished on you!

Jude 1:2 (NET)

ἔλεος ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη καὶ ἀγάπη πληθυνθείη πληθυνθείη (May be lavished)
…maintain yourselves in the love of God…

Jude 1:21 (NET)

ἑαυτοὺς ἐν ἀγάπῃ θεοῦ τηρήσατε τηρήσατε (maintain, i.e., “1) to attend to carefully, take care of 1a) to guard 1b) metaph. to keep, one in the state in which he is 1c) to observe 1d) to reserve: to undergo”

Romans, Part 52

Back to Romans, Part 68

Back to Romans, Part 77

[1] Romans 12:9a (NET)

[7] James 3:17 (NET)

[8] 1 Corinthians 13:13b (NET)

[10] 1 Corinthians 16:24 (NET)

[12] 2 Corinthians 13:13b (NET)

[15] Ephesians 3:17b (NET)

[17] Colossians 2:6, 7 (NET)

[21] Colossians 1:21-23a (NET)

[24] Romans 3:20 (NET)

[25] Romans 12:9b (NET)

[28] Luke 18:19b (NET)

Romans, Part 49

If [the gift] is showing mercy (ἐλεῶν, a form of ἐλεέω),[1] he must do so with cheerfulness.[2]  This is my gift, the one given to me.  It is the way I see Jesus and his Father.  It is the way I see the world.  It is my bias.  Blessed are the merciful (ἐλεήμονες, a form of ἐλεήμων),[3] for they will be shown mercy (ἐλεηθήσονται, a form of ἐλεέω).[4]  Given that bias it is probably good to start with something I do not mean by mercy.

“Have mercy (ἐλέησον, a form of ἐλεέω) on us, Son of David!”[5] two blind men shouted.  Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  They said to him, “Yes, Lord.”  Then he touched their eyes saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”  And their eyes were opened.[6]

The blind men asked Jesus for mercy, believed He was able to do what they asked, and received the mercy they asked for, according to [their] faith.  And I don’t want anything to do with this kind of faith or this kind of mercy.

Jesus sternly warned (ἐνεβριμήθη, a form of ἐμβριμάομαι)[7] them, “See that no one knows about this.”[8]  But they disobeyed Him; they went out and spread the news about him throughout that entire region.[9]

As he was entering a village, ten men with leprosy met him.  They stood at a distance, raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy (ἐλέησον, a form of ἐλεέω) on us.”  When he saw them he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”[10]  It took some faith to obey Jesus, to go back to priests who were likely to tell them what they already knew, that they were leprous.  And as they went along, they were cleansed.[11]  You see that [their] faith was working together with [their] works and [their] faith was perfected by works.[12]

Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.  He fell with his face to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.  (Now he was a Samaritan.)  Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed?  Where are the other nine?  Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?”[13]

Assuming that the other nine were descendants of Israel, they may have been too busy to turn back and give praise to God, too busy trying to make themselves worthy of the mercy Jesus had shown them, too busy obeying the law (Leviticus 14:1-20 NET):

The Lord spoke to Moses: “This is the law of the diseased person on the day of his purification, when he is brought to the priest.  The priest is to go outside the camp and examine the infection.  If the infection of the diseased person has been healed, then the priest will command that two live clean birds, a piece of cedar wood, a scrap of crimson fabric, and some twigs of hyssop be taken up for the one being cleansed.  The priest will then command that one bird be slaughtered into a clay vessel over fresh water.  Then he is to take the live bird along with the piece of cedar wood, the scrap of crimson fabric, and the twigs of hyssop, and he is to dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird slaughtered over the fresh water, and sprinkle it seven times on the one being cleansed from the disease, pronounce him clean, and send the live bird away over the open countryside.

“The one being cleansed must then wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and bathe in water, and so be clean.  Then afterward he may enter the camp, but he must live outside his tent seven days.  When the seventh day comes he must shave all his hair – his head, his beard, his eyebrows, all his hair – and he must wash his clothes, bathe his body in water, and so be clean.

“On the eighth day he must take two flawless male lambs, one flawless yearling female lamb, three-tenths of an ephah of choice wheat flour as a grain offering mixed with olive oil, and one log of olive oil, and the priest who pronounces him clean will have the man who is being cleansed stand along with these offerings before the Lord at the entrance of the Meeting Tent.

“The priest is to take one male lamb and present it for a guilt offering along with the log of olive oil and present them as a wave offering before the Lord.  He must then slaughter the male lamb in the place where the sin offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered, in the sanctuary, because, like the sin offering, the guilt offering belongs to the priest; it is most holy.  Then the priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the right earlobe of the one being cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.  The priest will then take some of the log of olive oil and pour it into his own left hand.  Then the priest is to dip his right forefinger into the olive oil that is in his left hand, and sprinkle some of the olive oil with his finger seven times before the Lord.  The priest will then put some of the rest of the olive oil that is in his hand on the right earlobe of the one being cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the blood of the guilt offering, and the remainder of the olive oil that is in his hand the priest is to put on the head of the one being cleansed.  So the priest is to make atonement for him before the Lord.

“The priest must then perform the sin offering and make atonement for the one being cleansed from his impurity.  After that he is to slaughter the burnt offering, and the priest is to offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar.  So the priest is to make atonement for him and he will be clean.[14]

Get up and go your way, Jesus said to the foreigner who returned to Him and gave praise to GodYour faith has made you well.[15]  This is better, perhaps, but still not the mercy I want.

The next example is found in three gospel accounts:




As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed them.  Two blind men were sitting by the road.

Matthew 20:29, 30a (NET)

They came to Jericho.  As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the road.

Mark 10:46 (NET)

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging.

Luke 18:35 (NET)

If someone wants to impeach the witnesses the discrepancies in these accounts seem very important.  They sound like the limited perceptions and faulty memories of eye witnesses who didn’t necessarily understand what they were seeing, and the alterations that naturally occur when favorite stories are passed on by word of mouth.  The more I want to know God, however, the less important they seem.




When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Have mercy (ἐλέησον, a form of ἐλεέω) on us, Lord, Son of David!”  The crowd scolded them to get them to be quiet.  But they shouted even more loudly, “Lord, have mercy (ἐλέησον, a form of ἐλεέω) on us, Son of David!”

Matthew 20:30b, 31 (NET)

When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy (ἐλέησον, a form of ἐλεέω) on me!”  Many scolded him to get him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy (ἐλέησον, a form of ἐλεέω) on me!”

Mark 10:47-48 (NET)

When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was going on.  They told him, “Jesus the Nazarene is passing by.”  So he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy (ἐλέησον, a form of ἐλεέω) on   me!”  And those who were in front scolded him to get him to be quiet, but he shouted even more, “Son of David, have mercy (ἐλέησον, a form of ἐλεέω) on me!”

Luke 18:36-39 (NET)

Though the accounts differ regarding when and how many blind men asked for Jesus’ mercy, they agree that the crowd scolded him/them but couldn’t silence him/them.




Jesus stopped (στὰς, a form of ἵστημι),[16] called (ἐφώνησεν, a form of φωνέω)[17] them…

Matthew 20:32a (NET)

Jesus stopped (στὰς) and said, “Call (φωνήσατε, another form of φωνέω) him.”  So they called (φωνοῦσιν, a form of   φωνέω) the blind man and said to him, “Have courage!  Get up!  He is calling (φωνεῖ, a form of φωνέω) you.”  He threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

Mark 10:49, 50 (NET)

So Jesus stopped (σταθεὶς, another form of ἵστημι) and ordered (ἐκέλευσεν, a form of κελεύω)[18] the beggar to be brought to him.

Luke 18:40a (NET)

This is new[19] relative to the first two stories of mercy.  In each of these accounts Jesus stopped (στὰς in Matthew and Mark, σταθεὶς in Luke) and called (ἐφώνησεν, a form of κελεύω) them (Matthew).  Mark offered detail to that call: Jesus stopped (στὰς) and said, “Call (φωνήσατε) him” to those who traveled with Him, presumably his disciples.  So they called (φωνοῦσιν) the blind man and said to him, “Have courage!  Get up!  He is calling (φωνεῖ) you.”  The blind man threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus.  Luke, the historian, resolved these accounts with, So Jesus stopped (σταθεὶς) and ordered (ἐκέλευσεν, a form of κελεύω)[20] the beggar to be brought to him.

These are not the words Paul used to describe God’s calling, but together they form a vivid picture of what he meant by them.  And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called (κλητοῖς, a form of κλητός)[21] according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And those he predestined, he also called (ἐκάλεσεν, a form of καλέω);[22] and those he called (ἐκάλεσεν, a form of καλέω), he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.[23]




…and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”  They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”  Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes.  Immediately they received their sight and followed (ἠκολούθησαν, a form of ἀκολουθέω) him.

Matthew 20:32b-34 (NET)

Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”  The blind man replied, “Rabbi, let me see again.”  Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has healed you.”  Immediately he regained his sight and followed (ἠκολούθει, another form of ἀκολουθέω) him on the road.

Mark 10:51, 52 (NET)

When the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”  He replied, “Lord, let me see again.”  Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”  And immediately he regained his sight and followed (ἠκολούθει, another form of ἀκολουθέω) Jesus, praising God.

Luke 18:40b-43a (NET)

When all the people saw it, they too gave praise to God.

Luke 18:43b (NET)

In the first story two blind men thought it was more important to tell others about Jesus than to obey Him themselves.  In the second story obedience was not at issue.  There is no indication that the lepers were doing anything other than obeying Jesus’ command, Go and show yourselves to the priests.  At issue was the matter of gratitude, demonstrated in praise for God.  Jesus raised the question whether the other nine lepers were praising God or, perhaps, praising themselves for their adherence to the works of the lawFor no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.[24]

Yet the blind man/men called by Jesus followed Him, not because he/they were given a law.  Jesus did not say, Follow Me.  Yet the work of the law [was] written in their hearts.[25]  They were doers, poets, of the law, speaking their own lines from their own hearts, as opposed to actors (hypocrites), wearing a false face and speaking a poet’s lines.  They not only praised God themselves, When all the people saw it, they too gave praise to God.

This is more like it, mercy that causes me to follow Jesus, praising God, a mercy that causes others, when they see me following Jesus, to praise, not me, but God.  I will have mercy (ἐλεήσω, another form of ἐλεέω) on whom I have mercy (ἐλεῶ, another form of ἐλεέω), and I will have compassion on whom I have compassionSo then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy (ἐλεῶντος, a form of ἐλεέω).[26]  This is the mercy I want to receive.  This is the mercy I long to extend to all around me.  This is the mercy Paul found in the Lord when he had great sorrow and unceasing anguish in [his] heart.[27]

Just as you were formerly disobedient to God, but have now received mercy (ἠλεήθητε, a form of ἐλεέω) due to their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy (ἐλέει, a form of ἔλεος)[28] shown to you, they too may now receive mercy (ἐλεηθῶσιν, a form of ἐλεέω).  For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy (ἐλεήσῃ, a form of ἐλεέω) to them all.[29]

This mercy is to be shown with cheerfulness (ἱλαρότητι, a form of ἱλαρότης),[30] not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful (ἱλαρὸν, a form of ἱλαρός)[31] giver.[32]  I fall down here because of the gospel presented as law rather than grace handed down to me from my religion that still adheres to my religious mind: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ before you die, or burn in hell for all eternity.”  I am the dark side of the proverb, Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.[33]  To counteract that darkness I want to look at two instances when Jesus didn’t want to show someone mercy.

A Canaanite woman from [the region of Tyre and Sidon] came and cried out, “Have mercy (ἐλέησον, a form of ἐλεέω) on me, Lord, Son of David!  My daughter is horribly demon-possessed!”[34]

This woman was a living remnant of the people Jesus, as Yahweh, had commanded Israel to exterminate with extreme prejudice—because the Canaanites were wicked idolaters?  Yes, as a matter of legal justification, but more to the point, for the faithfulness of his chosen people: for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invites you, you will eat from his sacrifice; and you then take his daughters for your sons, and when his daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will make your sons prostitute themselves to their gods as well.[35]

So Jesus ignored the woman’s persistent plea.  Then his disciples came and begged him, “Send her away, because she keeps on crying out after us.”[36]

So Jesus began to explain to the woman the obligations of righteousness, the law He was under from his Father: I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.[37]

But she came and bowed down before him and said, “Lord, help me!”[38]

“It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” he said.[39]

The Canaanite woman might have said, “I’m as good as any Jew here!”  And Jesus might have agreed with her, but I don’t think that response would have moved him from the law of his Father.

“Yes, Lord,” she said instead, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”[40]

When Jesus said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them,[41] He meant what He said.  So He answered the Canaanite woman, “Woman, your faith is great!  Let what you want be done for you.”  And her daughter was healed from that hour.[42]

So, did Jesus sin by disobeying the law of his Father?  No, because Jesus and his Father knew, long before Paul wrote any letter to the Galatians, that if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law,[43] and regarding the fruit of the Spirit: Against such things (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) there is no law.[44]

The second instance deserves its own essay.  I’ll conclude this one with Paul’s words of gratitude because it seems fitting in the context of the gift of showing mercy.  My religion teaches me to present the gospel with Paul’s words from his letter to the Romans (Romans 1:18-20 NET):

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made.  So people are without excuse.

But privately in his letter to the young preacher Timothy, Paul wrote (1 Timothy 1:12-17 NET):

I am grateful (Χάριν, a form of χάρις)[45] to the one who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me faithful (πιστόν, a form of πιστός)[46] in putting me into ministry, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor, and an arrogant man.  But I was treated with mercy (ἠλεήθην, a form of ἐλεέω) because I acted ignorantly (ἀγνοῶν, a form of ἀγνοέω)[47] in unbelief (ἀπιστίᾳ),[48] and our Lord’s grace (χάρις) was abundant, bringing faith (πίστεως, a form of πίστις)[49] and love (ἀγάπης, a form of ἀγάπη)[50] in Christ Jesus.  This saying is trustworthy (πιστὸς) and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them!  But here is why I was treated with mercy (ἠλεήθην, a form of ἐλεέω): so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience (μακροθυμίαν, a form of μακροθυμία),[51] as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life.  Now to the eternal king, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever!  Amen.

[2] Romans 12:8 (NET)

[4] Matthew 5:7 (NET)

[5] Matthew 9:27 (NET)

[6] Matthew 9:28-30a (NET)

[8] Matthew 9:30b (NET)

[9] Matthew 9:31 (NET)

[10] Luke 17:12-14a (NET)

[11] Luke 17:14b (NET)

[12] James 2:22 (NET)

[13] Luke 17:15-18 (NET)

[14] Leviticus 14:1-20 (NET)

[15] Luke 17:19 (NET)

[19] In Luke’s account the lepers stood (ἔστησαν, another form of ἵστημι) at a distance (Luke 17:12b NET).

[23] Romans 8:28-30 (NET)

[24] Romans 3:20 (NET)

[25] Romans 2:15 (NET)

[26] Romans 9:15, 16 (NET)

[27] Romans 9:2 (NET)

[29] Romans 11:30-32 (NET)

[32] 2 Corinthians 9:7b (NET)

[33] Proverbs 22:6 (NET)

[34] Matthew 15:22 (NET)

[35] Exodus 34:15, 16 (NET)

[36] Matthew 15:23 (NET)

[37] Matthew 15:24 (NET)

[38] Matthew 15:25 (NET)

[39] Matthew 15:26 (NET)

[40] Matthew 15:27 (NET)

[41] Matthew 5:3 (NET)

[42] Matthew 15:28 (NET)

[43] Galatians 5:18 (NET)

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

Saving Demons, Part 2

While studying the different gifts of the Spirit I came across the following (2 Corinthians 3:7-9 NET):

But if the ministry (διακονία)[1] that produced death – carved in letters on stone tablets – came with glory, so that the Israelites could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face (a glory which was made ineffective), how much more glorious will the ministry (διακονία) of the Spirit be?  For if there was glory in the ministry (διακονίᾳ) that produced condemnation, how much more does the ministry (διακονία) that produces righteousness excel in glory!

I can’t help but ask, what if the glory of the ministry (διακονίᾳ) that produces righteousness is made ineffective (καταργουμένην, a form of καταργέω)[2] by the religious mind?  The note on made ineffective in the NET reads: “Or ‘which was transitory.’ Traditionally this phrase is translated as ‘which was fading away.’ The verb καταργέω in the corpus Paulinum uniformly has the meaning ‘to render inoperative, ineffective’; the same nuance is appropriate here. The glory of Moses’ face was rendered ineffective by the veil Moses wore. For discussion of the meaning of this verb in this context, see S. J. Hafemann, Paul, Moses, and the History of Israel (WUNT 81), 301-13. A similar translation has been adopted in the two other occurrences of the verb in this paragraph in vv. 11 and 13.”

So, if verse 7 means that the “glory of Moses’ face was rendered ineffective by the veil Moses wore,” Paul expanded that meaning in verse 10: For indeed, what had been glorious [the ministry that produced condemnation] now has no glory because of the tremendously greater glory of what replaced it[3] [the ministry that produces righteousness].  Paul continued (2 Corinthians 3:11, 12 NET):

For if what was made ineffective (καταργούμενον, another form of καταργέω) came with glory, how much more has what remains (μένον, a form of μένω)[4] come in glory!  Therefore, since we have such a hope, we behave with great boldness, and not like Moses who used to put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from staring at the result of the glory that was made ineffective (καταργουμένου, another form of καταργέω).

The Greek word translated remains is μένον a form of μένω, as is μένει in, And now these three remain (μένει, another form of μένω): faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.[5]  It is easy to see why some translators related the forms of καταργέω in 2 Corinthians 3 to those in 1 Corinthians 13 (vv. 8, 10, 11set aside, NET) and rendered them as passing away.  But the word μένον is also found in, The one on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining (μένον) – this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.[6]

So it is also easy to see why other translators related what Paul said about the law, the ministry that produced condemnation, and the ministry of the Spirit, the ministry that produces righteousness, to Romans:  For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened (ἠσθένει, a form of ἀσθενέω)[7] through the fleshBy sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.[8]

It also makes sense then to relate this weakness through the flesh to the forms of καταργέω in 2 Corinthians 3 and render them as made ineffective (the law was weakened through the flesh to the point that it was made ineffective as far as righteousness is concerned).  This makes even more sense if the writing of 2 Corinthians followed the writing of Romans sequentially rather than directly after 1 Corinthians.

Mosesput a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from staring at the result (τέλος)[9] of the glory that was made ineffective,[10] Paul wrote.  In one sense he referred to the basic facts of Exodus 34:29-33 (NET):

Now when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand – when he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.  When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to approach him.  But Moses called to them, so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and Moses spoke to them.  After this all the Israelites approached, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken to him on Mount Sinai.  When Moses finished speaking with them, he would put a veil on his face.

So the result that the Israelites were kept from staring at was the glowing skin of Moses’ face.  There was another meaning to Paul’s metaphor as well.  But their minds were closed, He continued.  For to this very day, the same veil remains when they hear the old covenant read.[11] Here, the result or end that the veil keeps people from staring intently at is the fact that the law is the ministry that produced condemnationFor the law brings wrath[12]  For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.[13]  [The veil] has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away (καταργεῖται, another form of καταργέω).[14]  My mind was also closed when I tried to pass myself off as in Christ (ἐν Χριστῷ) while striving to make myself righteous by keeping the law.

But until this very day, Paul continued, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom.  And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.[15]

In my case the Lord was faithful even when I was not; If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself.[16]  And perhaps I should let it go at that.  But I still wonder, if I had remained faithless, or while I persisted in my faithlessness, did I give Him cause to show mercy to demons or fallen angels, since He was and remains faithful to me?

Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God – harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.  And even they – if they do not continue in their unbelief – will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree?[17]

For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.  Just as you were formerly disobedient to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God has consigned all people [the qualifier “people” is not literally in the text though “these” (τοὺς) is] to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all.[18]

Back to Fear – Exodus, Part 7

[3] 2 Corinthians 3:10 (NET)

[5] 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NET)

[6] John 1:33b (NET)

[8] Romans 8:3, 4 (NET)

[10] 2 Corinthians 3:13 (NET)

[11] 2 Corinthians 3:14a (NET)

[12] Romans 4:15 (NET)

[13] Romans 3:20 (NET)

[14] 2 Corinthians 3:14b (NET)

[15] 2 Corinthians 3:15-18 (NET)

[16] 2 Timothy 2:13 (NET)

[17] Romans 11:22-24 (NET)

[18] Romans 11:29-32 (NET)

Romans, Part 37

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



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

Romans 9:18 (NET)

…and he hardens whom he chooses to harden.

Romans 9:18 (NET)

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

Romans 9:23 (NET)

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

Romans 9:22 (NET)

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

Romans 9:30 (NET)

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

Romans 9:31, 32 (NET)

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

Matthew 11:25 (NET)

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

Matthew 11:25 (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans, Part 38

Back to Romans, Part 39

Back to Fear – Exodus, Part 1

Back to Son of God – John, Part 4

Back to Romans, Part 46

Back to Saving Demons, Part 2

[2] Romans 10:1 (NET)

[3] Luke 18:1 (NET)

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

[8] Romans 10:2 (NET)

[9] Colossians 1:9 (NET)

[12] Matthew 11:27 (NET)

[14] Romans 10:3 (NET)

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

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

[19] Matthew 11:30 (NET)

[20] Matthew 23:2 (NET)

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

[22] Matthew 23:4 (NET)

[23] Luke 11:46 (NET)

[25] Romans 10:4 (NET)

[26] Matthew 5:18 (NET)

[27] Romans 7:12 (NET)

[28] Romans 7:7 (NET)

[29] Romans 3:20 (NET)

[30] Romans 3:31 (NET)

Romans, Part 16

I want to begin this essay with Psalm 143:8-12 (NET):

May I hear about your loyal love in the morning, for I trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, because I long for you.  Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord!  I run to you for protection.  Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God.  May your kind presence lead me into a level land.  O Lord, for the sake of your reputation, revive me!  Because of your justice, rescue me from trouble!  As a demonstration of your loyal love, destroy my enemies!  Annihilate all who threaten my life, for I am your servant.

David was probably considering other human enemies, but in this context I think it’s important to view things through the eyes of the cartoon character Pogo:   “We have met the enemy and he is us.”[1]  I hear the Mission Impossible theme in my imagination: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”  Clearly, sinner that I am, I am my own worst enemy.  How can I be destroyed, annihilated, rescued and revived?

But now apart from the law (νόμου, a form of νόμος),[2] Paul continued his letter to the Romans, the righteousness (δικαιοσύνη)[3] of God (which is attested by the law [νόμου, a form of νόμος] and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness (δικαιοσύνη) of God through the faithfulness (πίστεως, a form of πίστις)[4] of Jesus Christ for all who believe (πιστεύοντας, a form of πιστεύω).[5]  The righteousness of God as I see it these days is nothing less than the love that fulfills the law which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  It might be more than that.  My journey doesn’t fill me with confidence that I can say I have the final word on something.  But it cannot be less.

I know that I will never justify myself or be declared righteous before God by my efforts to keep his law, For no one is declared righteous (δικαιωθήσεται, a form of δικαιόω)[6] before him by the works (ἔργων, a form of ἔργον)[7] of the law (νόμου, a form of νόμος).[8]  My own experience has confirmed over and over again that as I attempted to keep God’s law by my own efforts I only got better acquainted with my sin, for through the law comes the knowledge (ἐπίγνωσις)[9] of sin.[10]  Only with God’s righteousness, the love that fulfills the law by the fruit of His Spirit, is it possible for me to say with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”[11]  For there is no distinction, Paul continued, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  But they are justified (δικαιούμενοι, another form of δικαιόω) freely (δωρεάν)[12] by his grace (χάριτι, a form of χάρις)[13] through the redemption (ἀπολυτρώσεως, a form of ἀπολύτρωσις)[14] that is in Christ Jesus.[15]

I didn’t see that at first because I had separated Christ’s redemption or justification, spending eternity in heaven as opposed to the lake of fire, from righteousness.  Redemption or justification was God’s doing, the “finished work of Christ.”  Righteousness was my obedience to Christ and the law.

Paul continued, God publicly displayed [Christ Jesus] at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith (πίστεως, a form of πίστις).  This was to demonstrate his righteousness (δικαιοσύνης, a form of δικαιοσύνη), because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed.  This was also to demonstrate his righteousness (δικαιοσύνης, a form of δικαιοσύνη) in the present time, so that he would be just (δίκαιον, a form of δίκαιος)[16] and the justifier (δικαιοῦντα, another form of δικαιόω) of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness (πίστεως, a form of πίστις).[17]

I was all for God’s vindication.  He had put up with more than enough from me.  If Jesus’ death demonstrated his righteousness and made it so he would be just (or, righteous) and the justifier, that was a good thing.  And these verses do stand as a pithy declaration of the “finished work of Christ.”

The mercy seat was discussed more in the letter to the Hebrews.  I don’t know who wrote it.  I thought it was Paul, at first.  The more I read Paul’s other letters it seemed it was someone else, someone who knew Paul and his teaching but lacked his style.  The writer of Hebrews’ amplification on what it meant to be publicly displayedat his death as the mercy seat follows (Hebrews 9:2-8, 11, 12, 15 NET):

For a tent was prepared, the outer one, which contained the lampstand, the table, and the presentation of the loaves; this is called the holy place.  And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies.  It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold.  In this ark were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.  And above the ark were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat…. So with these things prepared like this, the priests enter continually into the outer tent as they perform their duties.  But only the high priest enters once a year into the inner tent, and not without blood that he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.  The Holy Spirit is making clear that the way into the holy place had not yet appeared as long as the old tabernacle was standing.

But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come.  He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption….And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant.

So I thought my life consisted of bringing my sacrifice, my faith, to church every Sunday, confessing my sins for the week and going home and trying to do better next week.  [T]he person who fears (φοβούμενος, a form of φοβέω)[18] [God] and does (ἐργαζόμενος, a form of ἐργάζομαι)[19] what is right (δικαιοσύνην, a form of δικαιοσύνη) is welcomed (δεκτός)[20] before him.[21]  And this is the time in my life when I could only distinguish myself from a Pharisee by the fact that I went to church on Sunday instead of synagogue on Saturday, ate ham for Easter rather than lamb for Passover, and by and large the Pharisee was much better at it than I was.  It was a hard truth to recognize and accept.  For I tell you, Jesus said, unless your righteousness (δικαιοσύνη) goes (περισσεύσῃ, a form of περισσεύω)[22] beyond (πλεῖον)[23] that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.[24]

Still, I don’t think I could have skipped this step.  This was where I learned that I will never justify myself or be declared righteous before God by my efforts to keep his law.  It was during this time, years too embarrassing to number, that my own experience confirmed that as I attempted to keep God’s law by my own efforts I only got better acquainted with my sin.  If someone reads this who is there now, and needs to be there, he needs to hate me, ignore what I’ve written and continue serving God.  But if someone is ready to move on, well, I’m not necessary, but I would like to help if I can.

Romans, Part 17

Back to Romans, Part 35

[1] Walt Kelly, The Pogo Papers, 1953

[5] Romans 3:21, 22a (NET)

[8] Romans 3:20a (NET)

[10] Romans 3:20b (NET)

[15] Romans 3:22b-24 (NET)

[17] Romans 3:25, 26 (NET)

[21] Acts 10:35 (NET)

[24] Matthew 5:20 (NET)