Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 4

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

The Forty Day Covenant

After the Golden Calf

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

Exodus 33:1 (NET)

“I am going to send an angel before you…

Exodus 23:20a (NET)

I will send an angel before you…

Exodus 33:2a (NET)

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

Exodus 23:20b-22 (NET)

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

Exodus 23:23 (NET)

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

Exodus 33:2b (NET)

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

Exodus 33:3 (NET)

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

Exodus 33:4-6 (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What shall we say then?  Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?  Absolutely not!  How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[2] John 12:47 (NIV)

[3] 1 Timothy 4:13 (NET)

[4] Luke 1:13 (NET)

[5] John 3:36 (NKJV)

[6] Acts 20:20a (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[11] Exodus 33:2 (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 2

I’ll continue to contrast “Paul’s Regime” to “Jesus’ Regime.”  Paul finally turned his attention to the man who had his father’s wife as follows.

Paul’s Regime

Jesus’ Regime

For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit.  And I have already judged (κέκρικα, a form of κρίνω) the one who did this, just as though I were present.  When you (ὑμῶν) gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus, turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 5:3-5 (NET)

Furthermore, I will strike [Jezebel’s] followers with a deadly disease, and then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts.  I will repay each one of you what your deeds deserve.

Revelation 2:23 (NET)

The English translation of 1 Corinthians 5:3 might actually be clearer than the Greek.  I think Paul may have written something like, “I have already decided[1] as follows about what was done.”  Considering what he had already decided the translators cut through all that: I have already judged the one who did this…  Paul urged the believers in Corinth to turn this man over to Satan.

The Greek word translated turn over is παραδοῦναι (a form of παραδίδωμι).  Paul also handed Hymenaeus and Alexander over (παρέδωκα, another form of παραδίδωμι) to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.[2]  I assume that to turn or hand one over to Satan was the antithesis of commending one to the grace of God.

After their first missionary journey Paul and Barnabas sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended (παραδεδομένοι, another form of παραδίδωμι) to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.[3]  Later, Paul chose Silas and set out, commended (παραδοθεὶς, another form of παραδίδωμι) to the grace of the Lord by the brothers and sisters[4] for his second missionary journey after parting company with Barnabas over John Mark.  So I assume that both, being commended to the grace of God and being turned, or handed, over to Satan, were matters of prayer.  We’re not told how God responded to this prayer vis-à-vis the man who had his father’s wife.  What is recorded in Paul’s letters are the changes in his own perspective.

Here in 1 Corinthians Paul turned a man who committed πορνεία, one of the works of the flesh (σαρκός, a form of σάρξ), over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (σαρκός, a form of σάρξ): Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality (πορνεία), impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things.  I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice (πράσσοντες, a form of πράσσω) such things will not inherit the kingdom of God![5]

But is the destruction (ὄλεθρον, a form of ὄλεθρος) of the flesh a work of Satan (Romans 7:4-6 NET)?

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God.  For when we were in the flesh (σαρκί, another form of σάρξ), the sinful desires (ἁμαρτιῶν, a form of ἁμαρτία), 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.

But I say, live by the Spirit, Paul wrote the Galatians, and you will not carry out the desires (ἐπιθυμίαν, a form of ἐπιθυμία) of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ).  For the flesh (σὰρξ) has desires (ἐπιθυμεῖ, a form of ἐπιθυμέω) that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh (σαρκός, a form of σάρξ), for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.[6]  The one thing I can say with certainty about the man who had his father’s wife is that he was not led by the Holy Spirit at the moment he chose to take her.  His flesh had taken control.

Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin (παραπτώματι, a form of παράπτωμα),[7] you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness.[8]  The spiritual (πνευματικοὶ, a form of πνευματικός) are those who live (περιπατεῖτε, a form of περιπατέω) by the Spirit (πνεύματι, a form of πνεῦμα).  Paul’s teaching in his letters to the Romans and Galatians doesn’t explain, expound or even hint at any reliance on Satan for blessing—for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord—or cursing—to be taught not to blaspheme.

In the movie Miracles From Heaven Jennifer Garner completed her stunning transformation from Elektra through adoptive-mother-to-be Vanessa in Juno to Christy the Christian mother of three girls.  There are spoilers here, and though Christy is based on an actual person Christy Beam, I am writing about a character in a film.

“No one here is going to hell,” Christy says to her three daughters.  “Unless you girls get your clothes dirty.  How many times have I told you not to play outside in your Sunday school dresses?”  Then she yells to her husband in the field, “Hey Kevin, I have to tell you not to play outside before church, too?”

With these few deft lines we understand that Christy has succumbed to the primary occupational hazard of motherhood: She doesn’t merely inhabit a world of rules and religion, she is its architect and chief executive.  When her middle daughter Anna is diagnosed with an incurable disease Christy is utterly lost.  Concerned about the cost of traveling every six weeks from Texas to a specialist in Boston she argues with Kevin (Martin Henderson).

Christy: I need to know how we’re going to do it.

Kevin: Well, We’ll figure it out.

Christy: No, No.  You can’t say that.  I hate when you say that!

Kevin: Well, I’m sorry, babe, but I don’t have any answers right now.

Christy: I need an answer!…I cannot operate under the assumption that it’s all just gonna be okay!

Kevin: It’s called faith, Christy.

Christy: I don’t have faith about anything.  I can’t even pray, Kevin.  I’m sorry.

Kevin: No.  I hear you.  But I can’t help you with your faith.

If I hadn’t known someone exactly like him, Kevin would have seemed like the least believable character in the film.  The man I knew grew up in the faith.  Being led by the Spirit was as natural to him as breathing.  The faith that is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit seemed like his own.  And he was just as tone deaf and incapable of explaining the Holy Spirit’s faith to someone for whom such faith was not natural as Kevin.  He was also just as persistent and consistent an example of that faith as Kevin.  Only his wife knew him intimately enough to perceive any wavering or inconsistency.

Christy talks with Pastor Scott (John Carroll Lynch):

Christy: Well, you could tell me why a loving God would let Annabel suffer the way she has.

Pastor Scott: I’m sorry.  I don’t have an answer for that.

While it was dramatically necessary for Christy to discover her own answer, and Pastor Scott probably didn’t know specifics in her particular case, I want to explore a similar situation recorded in the New Testament.

Lord, if you had been here, Lazarus’ sister Martha said to Jesus, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will grant you.[9]  This sickness will not lead to death, Jesus had said when he heard that Lazarus was sick, but to God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.[10]  Lazarus has died, He told his disciples, and I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe.[11]  Jesus put Martha and Mary (not to mention Lazarus), whom he loved (ἠγάπα, a form of ἀγαπάω), through sickness and death so that when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead his disciples may believe.

Though raising Lazarus from the dead was effective enough among the Ἰουδαίων that the chief priests planned to kill Lazarus too, for on account of him many of the Jewish people (Ἰουδαίων, a form of Ἰουδαῖος) from Jerusalem were going away and believing in Jesus,[12] it failed in its primary purpose for Jesus’ disciples.  Not only did they not wait expectantly for three days for Jesus to rise from the dead, they didn’t even believe it when someone told them it had happened.

Who were these infidels?

They were handpicked by Jesus Himself.  They were purified, purged of the evil among them in classic Old Testament fashion: Judas killed himself after he confessed his παραδοὺς (another form of παραδίδωμι).  But before the Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost each remained a natural human (ψυχικὸς…ἄνθρωπος):

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.  But a natural (ψυχικὸς, a form of ψυχικός) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.[13]

Though Jesus’ display of power over death failed to persuade natural humans to faith and hope it continued to eloquently expound the theme He thought was sufficiently demonstrated in the Old Testament writings: You must all be born from above.[14]  To be born from above entails, includes and ultimately means to be led by the Holy Spirit: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.[15]

In Miracles from Heaven Anna (Kylie Rogers), writhing in pain, says to her mother Christy, “Don’t you understand that it never stops hurting.  It never stops…I want to die…I want to go to heaven where there’s no pain…I’m sorry, Mommy.  I don’t want to make you sad.  I just want it to be over.”

This might have been the turning point of the story.  If my daughter complained this way to me I would fall on my face confessing to anything and everything.  But Anna’s doctor persuaded Christy that her daughter’s childlike faith was depression caused by prolonged illness.

When Anna fell and was trapped inside a rotten tree, however, Christy knelt and prayed the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV), not as a sing-song chant but, as a heartfelt expression of faith, not my will but yours be done.[16] Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, Paul wrote the Corinthians in a later letter, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.[17]

No viewer of the film is forced to believe that God healed Anna when Christy learned to rely on the faith (πίστις) of the Holy Spirit.   She clearly spells out an alternative to Anna’s specialist that is wholly compatible with progressive[18] evolution: “So you’re telling me that when this baby girl fell 30 feet, she hit her head just right and it didn’t kill her and it didn’t paralyze her and instead it healed her?”  If this explanation rings hollow, one may be hearing from the Spirit of God because a natural [human] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.

Jesus’ Regime by contrast did not incite his followers to turn to Satan for remediation: Furthermore, I will strike her followers[19] with a deadly disease, and then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts.  I will repay each one of you what your deeds deserve.  Eventually Paul perceived the practical sense of this, too (Romans 12:17-21 NET):

Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.  Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Preferring Jesus’ Regime in Revelation 2:18-29 to Paul’s Regime in 1 Corinthians 5[20] I have been brought full circle.  This world governed by God’s wrath is the world I thought I lived in before I became an atheist.  I didn’t expect to return here again.  But this time I am led by the Holy Spirit.  This time I believe that πορνεία has much more to do with the pagan worship practices of Exodus 32 and Numbers 25 than it does with two young people marrying, that is to say having sex, before receiving Church, State or even parental sanction.  This time I expect to weather my ordeal without serious incident.

Studying the various forms of παραδίδωμι has deeply colored my understanding of these things.  The table I constructed during that study is below.

παραδίδωμι

NET

Reference

Jesus’ Arrest, Prosecution and Crucifixion (66)

παραδεδώκεισαν For [Pilate] knew that the chief priests had handed [Jesus] over because of envy. Mark 15:10
παραδίδως “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:48
παραδιδόναι …Judas, one of the twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:71
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was going to betray him)… John 12:4
παραδιδόντα For Jesus knew the one who was going to betray him. John 13:11
παραδιδόντος …the hand of the one who betrays me is with me on the table. Luke 22:21
παραδίδοσθαι The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. Matthew 17:22
…for the Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. Luke 9:44
παραδίδοται …the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified. Matthew 26:2
…woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Matthew 26:24
…the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Matthew 26:45
The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men. Mark 9:31
…woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Mark 14:21
…the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Mark 14:41
…woe to that man by whom he is betrayed! Luke 22:22
παραδιδοὺς Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Matthew 26:25
Get up, let us go.  Look!  My betrayer is approaching! Matthew 26:46
Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I kiss is the man… Matthew 26:48
Now when Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus had been condemned… Matthew 27:3
Look!  My betrayer is approaching! Mark 14:42
Now the betrayer had given them a sign… Mark 14:44
Now Judas, the one who betrayed him… John 18:2
Now Judas, the one who betrayed him… John 18:5
“Lord, who is the one who is going to betray you?” John 21:20
παραδῷ …Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:16
…how he might betray Jesus, handing him over to them. Luke 22:4
παραδώσει I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me. Matthew 26:21
The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. Matthew 26:23
I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me will betray me. Mark 14:18
I tell you the solemn truth, one of you will betray me. John 13:21
παραδώσω What will you give me to betray him into your hands? Matthew 26:15
παραδώσων …and who it was who would betray him. John 6:64
παραδώσουσιν …and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged severely and crucified. Matthew 20:19
They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles. Mark 10:33
παραδοῖ …went to the chief priests to betray Jesus into their hands. Mark 14:10
So Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray him. Mark 14:11
…the devil had already put into the heart of Judas…that he should betray Jesus John 13:2
παραδόντος I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
παραδοθῆναι …that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men… Luke 24:7
παραδοθήσεται …the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the experts in the law. Matthew 20:18
…the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and experts in the law. Mark 10:33
For he will be handed over to the Gentiles… Luke 18:32
παραδοθῶ …fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. John 18:36
παραδοῦναι …so that they could deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. Luke 20:20
So Judas agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus… Luke 22:6
παραδοὺς …and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Matthew 10:4
I have sinned by betraying innocent blood! Matthew 27:4
Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of greater sin. John 19:11
παρεδίδετο …the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread… 1 Corinthians 11:23
παρεδώκαμεν If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you. John 18:30
παρέδωκαν …led him away, and handed him over to Pilate… Matthew 27:2
For [Pilate] knew that they had handed [Jesus] over because of envy. Matthew 27:18
…led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Mark 15:1
…our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be condemned to death… Luke 24:20
Your own people and your chief priests handed you over to me. John 18:35
παρεδώκατε …Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected… Acts 3:13
παρέδωκεν he handed him over to be crucified. Matthew 27:26
…Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Mark 3:19
he handed him over to be crucified. Mark 15:15
But he handed Jesus over to their will. Luke 23:25
Then [Pilate] handed him over to them to be crucified. John 19:16
Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
…he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all… Romans 8:32
…live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us… Ephesians 5:2
…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her… Ephesians 5:25
παρεδόθη He was given over because of our transgressions… Romans 4:25

Arrest, Prosecution and Persecution of Jesus’ Followers (19)

παραδιδόντες When they arrest you and hand you over for trial… Mark 13:11
…they will seize you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. Luke 21:12
παραδιδοὺς I persecuted this Way even to the point of death, tying up both men and women and putting them in prison… Acts 22:4
Παραδώσει Brother will hand over brother to death… Matthew 10:21
Brother will hand over brother to death… Mark 13:12
παραδῶσιν Whenever they hand you over for trial, do not worry… Matthew 10:19
παραδώσουσιν Beware of people, because they will hand you over to councils… Matthew 10:17
Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. Matthew 24:9
…and they will betray one another and hate one another. Matthew 24:10
You will be handed over to councils and beaten in the synagogues. Mark 13:9
…and will hand him [i.e., Paul] over to the Gentiles. Acts 21:11
παραδοθῆναι Now after John was imprisoned Mark 1:14
παραδοθήσεσθε You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends… Luke 21:16
παραδοὺς handing him [i.e., Peter] over to four squads of soldiers to guard him. Acts 12:4
παρεδίδου …[Saul] dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Acts 8:3
παρεδίδουν they handed over Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion… Acts 27:1
παρέδωκεν …the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard… (NKJV) Acts 28:16
παρεδόθη …Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned Matthew 4:12
παρεδόθην I was handed over as a prisoner to the Romans. Acts 28:17

Other Usages (35)

παραδεδωκόσι who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 15:26
παραδεδομένοι …Antioch, where [Paul and Barnabas] had been commended to the grace of God… Acts 14:26
παραδέδοται …and the glory that goes along with it, for it [i.e., this whole realm] has been relinquished to me, and I [i.e., the devil] can give it to anyone I wish. Luke 4:6
παραδιδῷ Then comes the end, when he [i.e., Christ] hands over the kingdom to God the Father… 1 Corinthians 15:24
παραδιδόμεθα For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death[21] for Jesus’ sake… 2 Corinthians 4:11
παραδῷ Reach agreement quickly with your accuser while on the way to court, or he may hand you over to the judge… Matthew 5:25
…and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love… 1 Corinthians 13:3
παραδώσει …and the judge hand you over to the officer… Luke 12:58
παραδοῖ And when the grain is ripe, he sends in the sickle because the harvest has come. Mark 4:29
παραδοθεὶς Paul chose Silas and set out, commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers and sisters. Acts 15:40
παραδοθείσῃ …contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Jude 1:3
παραδοθείσης …the holy commandment that had been delivered to them. 2 Peter 2:21
παραδοῦναι turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh… 1 Corinthians 5:5
παρεδίδοσαν they passed on the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the Gentile believers to obey. Acts 16:4
παρεδίδου …he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23
παρέδωκα …maintain the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 1 Corinthians 11:2
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you… 1 Corinthians 11:23
For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received… 1 Corinthians 15:3
…whom I handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:20
παρέδωκαν they have given themselves over to indecency… Ephesians 4:19
παρέδωκας …Sir, you entrusted me with five talents… Matthew 25:20
…Sir, you entrusted two talents to me… Matthew 25:22
παρεδώκατε Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. Mark 7:13
παρέδωκεν And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards… Matthew 18:34
…who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. Matthew 25:14
…change the customs that Moses handed down to us. Acts 6:14
gave them over to worship the host of heaven… Acts 7:42
Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity… Romans 1:24
For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. Romans 1:26
…just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind… Romans 1:28
delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment… (NKJV) 2 Peter 2:4
παρέδοσαν the accounts passed on to us by those who were eyewitnesses… Luke 1:2
παρεδόθη All things have been handed over to me by my Father. Mathew 11:27
All things have been given to me by my Father. Luke 10:22
παρεδόθητε …you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to… Romans 6:17

Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 3

Back to Romans, Part 83

Back to Paul’s Religious Mind Revisited, Part 4

[1] When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided (κέκρικα, a form of κρίνω) to spend the winter there. (Titus 3:12 NET)

[2] 1 Timothy 1:20 (NET)

[3] Acts 14:26 (NET)

[4] Acts 15:40 (NET)

[5] Galatians 5:19-21 (NET)

[6] Galatians 5:16-18 (NET)

[7] In Paul’s letter to the Romans παραπτώματι was translated transgression, a violation of a specific command (Romans 5:15, 17; 11:11 NET). I wrote about the relationship between παράπτωμα and ἁμαρτία in Is Sin Less Than Sin? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

[8] Galatians 6:1a (NET)

[9] John 11:21, 22 (NET)

[10] John 11:4 (NET)

[11] John 11:14b, 15a (NET)

[12] John 12:10, 11 (NET)

[13] 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 (NASB)

[14] John 3:7b (NET)

[15] Romans 8:14 (NET)

[16] Luke 22:42b (NET)

[17] 2 Corinthians 1:9 (NET)

[18] I think most evolution/creation arguments are tangential because the actual issues are mindless vs. mindful creation and progressive vs. degenerative evolution.

[19] Though it is not literal I think the NET translators were right to translate τέκνα (a form of τέκνον) followers here (Mark 10:24, Luke 13:34, John 1:12, John 8:39, John 11:52, Romans 8:16, Romans 8:17, Romans 9:7, Romans 9:8,  Ephesians 5:8, Philippians 2:15, 1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 5:2).

[20] I want to be very specific here because I think that Paul’s Regime in Galatians 6:1-5 is more of the faith of Jesus’ Regime in Revelation 2:18-29 and shows much more respect for the wrath of God.

[21] If Paul meant this exclusively for apostles it would belong in the category above (Arrest, Prosecution and Persecution of Jesus’ Followers).  But I take the Holy Spirit to mean that death to what controlled us.  Though that death is a one time event, I need to be brought back to it continually—constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake—because I am proud and slow to believe.

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)

NET

NETS

Tanakh

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:

Refuse
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.”

“Why?”

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

“Mom!”

“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)

David’s Forgiveness, Part 3

The Social Construction of Reality helped me understand my own life in a new way.  I didn’t take my Dad’s advice to avoid or watch out for women too much to heart.  Though, now that I think about it, I’ve never had sex without the benefit of some form of birth control.  I did, however, deeply internalize my uselessness and meaninglessness.  And I learned even better than I knew that I was the cause of my Dad’s problems.  They were my fault.

Now before I go too far with this I need to say that my Dad was not a son of his father’s youth but of his old age.  My Dad’s father died when my Dad was eight, leaving the family destitute and my Dad fearful for his own welfare and survival.  In other words, while I might fault my father for who or what he was, my father’s father for all practical purposes was not.

My father provided well enough for my survival and welfare that I grew up taking it and him for granted.  And to be fair to him, the other legacy he bequeathed me was his constant admonition from Proverbs 4:7 (KJV): Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.  There are times, admittedly, when I look at myself with dismay as little more than a program carrying out my father’s command.  But considering the relationship with my father in this multigenerational-social-construction-of-reality way made it fairly obvious to me that there are many ways to make a son less than a blessing, ways that fall far short of taking that son’s life.  So I discarded that reason for the death of David’s first son with Bathsheba.

Another thought occurred to me: maybe the Lord Jesus didn’t want the child of an adulterous affair and a murderous cover-up to become king of Israel.  But Jephthah—one of the Judges—was the son of an adulterous affair between Gilead and a prostitute, and The Lord’s spirit empowered Jephthah.[1]

I’ve covered Jephthah pretty thoroughly elsewhere and won’t do it again here, except to comment on the reality that was socially constructed for Jephthah’s daughter by her father and other adults around her.  They apparently wholeheartedly believed the Lord’s command, 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.[2]  Jephthah’s daughter’s response when she learned of her father’s oath, and who was to be the victim, indicated that she knew and believed this command, too.  My father, she said, since you made an oath to the Lord, do to me as you promised.  After all, the Lord vindicated you before your enemies, the Ammonites.[3]

Nothing I believe or think or feel about Jephthah can or should taint my admiration for this girl’s childlike faith.  It is as stunning today as it was to Jephthah’s contemporaries.  She only asked for two months reprieve that she might mourn her virginity with her friends.  Jephthah granted her request.

Perhaps he hoped she would flee.  He would never see her again.  She would be as good as dead to him, but she would live.  But she, like her father, was true to her word and returned after two months as she promised.

Perhaps he hoped for a pardon as he prepared the sacrifice.  The Lord Jesus had commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac and then at the last moment provided a substitute for the boy.  No angel came to stay Jephthah’s hand.  No substitute was provided.  Jephthah sacrificed his daughter, his only child.  Even after the fact the Lord Jesus remained silent.  No prophets came, no dreams, no word from the Lord.  Every year Israelite women commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days.[4]

Since the Lord was silent, what social reality could the Israelites of Jephthah’s day construct except that Jephthah was an honorable and righteous man, fulfilling his vow to the Lord, no matter the cost?  After all, Jesus told his disciples, whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.[5]  It was many years after Jephthah’s time in the Proverbs of Solomon that I see the first glimmer of a subtle hint: It is a snare for a person to rashly cry, “Holy!” and only afterward to consider what he has vowed.[6]  To declare something “Holy” was equivalent to vowing it to the Lord.  This proverb may have had Jephthah in view.  Even so, it said little more than to consider your vows carefully or you may end up like Jephthah, sacrificing your daughter for righteousness’ sake.

It was many years after that, when the Israelites were sacrificing their children to Baal, the Lord Jesus finally spoke to the prophet Jeremiah and said: Such sacrifices are something I never commanded them to make! They are something I never told them to do! Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind![7]  The first time I understood this passage, I thought it was the most disingenuous thing I had ever heard.  Actually, I went ballistic, “What did you expect them to think?!” I shrieked with that tone in my voice that said, “what, are you stupid or something?”

If you ever hear that I was struck by lightning, you’ll know why, though subsequent years of daily infusion of spiritual fruit[8] have tempered my temper some, especially with the Lord.  And beginning to recognize the religious mind as a human phenomena as opposed to a divine one, that God is always reaching out to communicate to us through this ungodly barrier, hasn’t hurt.  Let’s face it, historically speaking God was late to the game with both a law and a religion.  There is no indication in Genesis that Cain’s (or Abel’s) offering was God’s idea.

At the designated time Cain brought some of the fruit of the ground for an offering to the Lord.[9]  It was either Cain’s idea or if the phrase And it happened at the end of days actually carries the meaning At the designated time that the translators of the NET have assigned it, it was Adam’s idea.  The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, but with Cain and his offering he was not pleased.  So Cain became very angry, and his expression was downcast.[10]  His religion and his worship were unacceptable, but his younger brother’s religion and worship was?  I am an older brother, believe me, I feel Cain’s anger and dejection.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “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.”[11]  My mom tells a story about a time when I was angry with the boy next door.  She tried to soothe my anger with counsel about Jesus and turning the other cheek.  Apparently, I didn’t get the message any better than Cain did.  I left the house, saying, “I’ll make him turn the other cheek.”  Cain subdued his brother Abel by killing him.  I don’t recall what I did to the boy next door.  I know he survived it.

What have you done? The Lord said to Cain.  The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!  So now, you are banished from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  When you try to cultivate the ground it will no longer yield its best for you.  You will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.[12]  Cain said, My punishment is too great to endure![13]

For a long time I believed Cain.  But as I look back now this banishment from his occupation as a tiller of the field sounds more like the events that became David’s life after the Lord forgave his sin.  Cain’s punishment would have been his death.  Now scripture rolls and boils and tumbles in my mind:  before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law.[14]

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.[15]

The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.[16]  He was not slow to establish a law of specific commandments and punishments, or a religion of specific rites and obligations.  He was positively resistant to the idea.  He chose to drown all but eight human beings and start over rather than establish a law or a religion.  I can only assume that He relented when it proved to be the only way to communicate to and through the ungodliness of human religious minds.  Even as He gave the law and founded the Hebrew religion He resisted it, saying defiantly to Moses, I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.[17]

But that was all in my future the first time I understood Him to say, such a thing never even entered my mind![18]  “All this started when you told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac,” I continued my rant.  “It culminates with God the Father sacrificing his only begotten Son, and somewhere in the middle of it all is Jephthah.  It never entered your mind that desperate people might think this was a good way to get your attention?”

I calmed down eventually and felt bad.  But I didn’t have some wonderful intuitive answer.  For me at the time it was a matter of brute faith.  I had to force myself to give the Lord Jesus the benefit of the doubt and simply believe that He is self-aware enough to determine the boundary between his thoughts and ours, to distinguish between his intent and his foreknowledge of our misunderstanding of that intent, and that He speaks sincerely and without guile.

Finally, with his feet firmly planted on earth, Jesus gave a definitive answer to Jephthah, to Israel and to me in the Sermon on the Mount: Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, “Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.”  But I say to you, do not take oaths at all….Let your word be “Yes, yes” or “No, no.”  More than this is from the evil one.[19]  The NIV translated this verse:  “Simply, let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Now if I ask, Why would Jesus consider Jephthah’s oath from the evil one? the answer seems fairly obvious.  If you really do hand the Ammonites over to me, Jephthah vowed to the Lord, then whoever is the first to come through the doors of my house to meet me when I return safely from fighting the Ammonites – he will belong to the Lord and I will offer him up as a burnt sacrifice.[20]  I’m going to give Jephthah the benefit of the doubt that he intended to offer a goat to bribe God to help him defeat the Ammonites, and he was willing to let God choose which, or any, or all, of his goats.  I think the translators of the NET have deliberately made Jephthah’s oath even more from the evil one.[21]

But imagine with me for a moment that Jephthah intended to bribe God with any or all of his goats.  God could have brought any goat, or as many goats as He wanted, out to meet Jephthah on his triumphant return.  But God didn’t bring any goats to meet Jephthah.  God wasn’t satisfied with goats as a bribe.  God wanted Jephthah’s daughter, his only child.  What was Jephthah to do?  Certainly God deserves to be bribed with something better than goats.

Jephthah acted on a kind of faith.  It would have been very difficult for him to see that the bribe, the oath, was the evil, and the thing that Jephthah should have repented.  To paraphrase Paul, I can testify that Jephthah was zealous for God, but his zeal was not in line with the truth.  For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish his own righteousness, he did not submit to God’s righteousness.[22]  But Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and Paul’s letter to the Romans were not part of Jephthah’s socially constructed reality.  Why not? I began to wonder.

Why were You silent for so long? I asked the Lord.

David’s Forgiveness, Part 4

Back to Romans, Part 11

Back to Romans, Part 12

Back to The Will of God – Jesus, Part 3

Back to Romans, Part 55

Back to Deuteronomy, Part 1

Back to Romans, Part 63

Back to Romans, Part 64

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 4


[1] Judges 11:29 (NET)

[2] Numbers 30:2 (NET)

[3] Judges 11:36 (NET)

[4] Judges 11:40 (NET)

[5] Matthew 10:37b (NET)

[6] Proverbs 20:25 (NET)

[7] Jeremiah 19:5bc (NET)

[9] Genesis 4:3 (NET)

[10] Genesis 4:4b, 5 (NET)

[11] Geneis 4:6, 7 (NET)

[12] Genesis 4:10-12 (NET)

[13] Genesis 4:13 (NET)

[14] Romans 5:13 (NET)

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

[16] 2 Peter 3:9 (NET)

[17] Exodus 33:19b (NET)

[18] Jeremiah 19:5 (NET)

[19] Matthew 5:33-37 (NET)

[20] Judges 11:30, 31 (NET)

[21] Consider the same passage in the KJV: And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

[22] Paraphrase of Romans 10:2, 3 (NET)

The Jerusalem Council

The end of their first mission in Pisidian Antioch became a pattern of sorts for Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:49, 50; 14:1, 2 NET):

So the word of the Lord was spreading through the entire region.  But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high social standing and the prominent men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their region.

The same thing happened in Iconium when Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a large group of both Jews and Greeks (Ἑλλήνων, a form of Ἕλλην)[1] believed.  But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles (ἐθνῶν, a form of ἔθνος)[2] and poisoned their minds against the brothers.

Paul and Barnabas…fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding region[3] after they learned of an an attempt to mistreat them and stone them.[4]  In Lystra they faced the opposite situation.  They were greeted as gods after Paul healed a lame man (Acts 14:12, 13 NET).

They began to call Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.  The priest of the temple of Zeus, located just outside the city, brought bulls and garlands to the city gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

Paul and Barnabas had to do some pretty fast talking.  They had difficulty persuading the people that they were men not gods.  But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and after winning the crowds over, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, presuming him to be dead.  But after the disciples had surrounded him, he got up and went back into the city.  On the next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.[5]

After they proclaimed the Gospel in Derbe, they returned to many of the cities they had already visited, encouraged the new believers and appointed elders.  Finally they made their way back to Antioch in Syria and made their missionary report to their home church.  Sometime later some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”[6]  Paul and Barnabas argued against this.  The church in Antioch sent them again to Jerusalem to resolve this disagreement (Acts 15:4, 5 NET).

When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all the things God had done with them.  But some from the religious party of the Pharisees who had believed stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law of Moses.”

Paul was also from the religious party of the Pharisees.  He gave a bit more insight into his own state of mind in Galatians 2:1, 2 (NET): Then after fourteen years I went up to Jerusalem again with Barnabas, taking Titus along too.  I went there because of a revelation and presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.  But I did so only in a private meeting with the influential people, to make sure that I was not running – or had not run – in vain.

Both the apostles and the elders met together to deliberate about this matter.[7]  I may be reading too much into this, but I get the impression that Paul and Barnabas were not included among the apostles and the elders who met together to deliberate.  I am thinking they were present as something like expert witnesses.  The whole group kept quiet and listened to Barnabas and Paul while they explained all the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.[8]

I quoted Peter’s and James’ addresses from this council elsewhere and won’t do it again here.  Peter’s reasoning was pre– or proto-theological in the sense that it was based on a vision he saw and actual experience more than Scripture.  James brought Old Testament prophecy into the debate, but again it was the apostles’ experience with Gentile believers that was held forth as the fulfillment of that prophecy.  That experience was very persuasive to those who shared it.  But consider Peter’s and James’ conclusions in a table next to Jesus’ teaching.

Peter

James

Jesus

So now why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?

Acts 15:10 (NET)

Therefore I conclude that we should not cause extra difficulty for those among the Gentiles who are turning to God…

Acts 15:19 (NET)

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:17-19 (NET)

If this were all I had to go on my religious mind would agree with those from the religious party of the Pharisees who…said, “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law of Moses.”[9]  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe wholeheartedly that what was unanimously decided[10] at the Jerusalem Council was on the right track, but the arguments in defense of that position were fairly weak.  I imagine the addition of James’ abbreviated version of the law secured a unanimous consensus in the council.  It was also contrary, however, to what Jesus had taught.  Jesus had not come to καταλῦσαι (a form of καταλύω)[11] the law or the prophets, loosen them down, but to πληρῶσαι (a form of πληρόω),[12] fill them up.

Of course, this is not all I have to go on.  Jesus was fairly clear all things considered that love fulfills the law and the prophets.  But I say to you, love (ἀγαπᾶτε, a form of ἀγαπάω)[13] your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.[14]  Paul was explicit: the one who loves (ἀγαπῶν, a form of ἀγαπάω) his neighbor has fulfilled (πεπλήρωκεν, another form of πληρόω) the law.  For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,(and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love (ἀγαπήσεις, another form of ἀγαπάω) your neighbor as yourself.”  Love (ἀγάπη)[15] does no wrong to a neighbor.  Therefore love (ἀγάπη) is the fulfillment (πλήρωμα)[16] of the law.[17]

Paul appreciated the whole law for what it was and did accomplish: I would not have known sin except through the law.  For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”[18]  And, through the law comes the knowledge (ἐπίγνωσις)[19] of sin.[20]  Paul was also quite explicit about what the law could not do: no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law[21]

He stopped teaching James’ abbreviated version of the law eventually[22] and taught instead that the law is lord over a person as long as he lives.[23]  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.[24]

But all of this was still in the future when Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch with the following letter (Acts 15:23b-29 NET):

From the apostles and elders, your brothers, to the Gentile brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, greetings!  Since we have heard that some have gone out from among us with no orders from us and have confused you, upsetting your minds by what they said, we have unanimously decided to choose men to send to you along with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas who will tell you these things themselves in person.  For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality (πορνείας, a form of πορνεία).[25]  If you keep yourselves from doing these things, you will do well.  Farewell.

This letter was a very satisfactory solution for the Jewish converts, God fearers or Gentile people who had attached themselves to a Jewish synagogue in some fashion in Antioch.  When they read it aloud, the people rejoiced at its encouragement.[26]

Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and proclaiming (along with many others) the word of the Lord.  After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s return and visit the brothers in every town where we proclaimed the word of the Lord to see how they are doing.”  Barnabas wanted to bring John called Mark along with them too, but Paul insisted that they should not take along this one who had left them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work.  They had a sharp disagreement, so that they parted company.  Barnabas took along Mark and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and set out, commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers and sisters.  He passed through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches…. As they went through the towns, they passed on the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the Gentile believers to obey.  So the churches were being strengthened in the faith and were increasing in number every day.[27]

I think it is worth mentioning that Barnabas, who sought out the rejected Saul to help in the ministry in Antioch, was true to form when he took the rejected John Mark under his wing as well.  The result of that second chance (and apparently a cousin’s[28] tutelage) was that Paul’s opinion of Mark was altered (2 Timothy 4:9-11 NET).

Make every effort to come to me soon.  For Demas deserted me, since he loved the present age, and he went to Thessalonica.  Crescens went to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia.  Only Luke is with me.  Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is a great help to me in ministry.

 

 


[3] Acts 14:6 (NET)

[4] Acts 14:5 (NET)

[5] Acts 14:19, 20 (NET)

[6] Acts 15:1 (NET)

[7] Acts 15:6 (NET)

[8] Acts 15:12 (NET)

[9] Acts 15:5 (NET)

[14] Matthew 5:44, 45 (NET)

[17] Romans 13:8b-10 (NET)

[18] Romans 7:7 (NET)

[20] Romans 3:20b (NET)

[21] Romans 3:20a (NET)

[22] Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that there is no more mention that Paul passed on the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem after Acts 16:4 (NET), but Acts 18:23 (NET) seems to me to be saying more than that by silence.  After he spent some time there [in Antioch after greeting the church in Jerusalem], Paul left and went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.  Granted, this is some of the same ground that Paul covered in the beginning of his second missionary journey, perhaps he (or Luke) simply didn’t feel the need to repeat himself.  But Paul’s own writing and Luke’s choice of words as well as omission of words leads me in the other direction.  In Acts 16:4, 5 the churches were ἐστερεοῦντο (a form of στερεόω, strengthened, established) on the basis of the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem.   In Acts 18:23 Paul went about στηρίζων (a form of ἐπιστηρίζω, strengthening)—the word might have been translated reestablishing—all the disciples without the aforementioned decrees.

[23] Romans 7:1 (NET)

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

[26] Acts 15:31 (NET)

[27] Acts 15:35-41; 16:4, 5 (NET)

[28] Colossians 4:10 (NET) Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him).