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Exegetical Snippets Repository

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This page is a repository of exegetical snippets of bible passages submitted to thedebriefing.net.

They do not represent the view of the editor or of other authors on thedebriefing.net. If they are clearly ‘way out’ they won’t be put on this page.

A snippet is just a small part of something bigger. So this page is not an archive of articles on bible passages. Just a collection of ideas around various bible passages which are not necessarily fully developed in the authors mind, or not substantial enough to be given a full page in the “Solid Food” archive.

There may or may not be an author attached to it, depending on the author’s preference.

Snippets?

We believe the bible is God’s inspired word, communicating to us things that are otherwise unknowable. However, God has revealed things ‘piecemeal’ and so each piece needs to be separately examined, understood, explained then put into the ‘big picture whole’.

This needs to happen in every generation. This explanation of biblical texts is called by it’s Greek term “exegesis”.

A few things we need to understand about explaining the bible.

  1. The organised Church and it’s clergy do not have a monopoly on exegesis.
  2. God can speak through anyone. Anyone can have an insight into a passage. They don’t have to be a ‘Prophet’ though their insight by definition is ‘prophetic’.
  3. Most ideas are not fully developed and so authors don’t publish or submit them. But they might prompt someone else to add to their thought (s). Eventually a better understanding of what God is communicating to us might come about. But the ideas, regardless of how complete or incomplete need to be there.
  4. Ideas should be ‘tested’. Effectively, consider them, then comment.

 

Is there any idea you have about a bible passage.

Submit it here or via the contact page.

You should get some comments.

 


Genesis 1:26-28

See the following http://101.0.115.80/~thedebri.routing.yourhost.co/articles/solid-food/image-of-god/ in which Agios Dimitrios examines the “image” of God – what it is and what it isn’t

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Genesis 6:1-3

by James Fratzia, July 2015

The Bible talks of the ‘sons of God’ in Genesis 6:1-2 “when human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose”.

1. Some interpreters claim that in the Old Testament, the phrase “sons of God” (beney elohim) always refers only to ‘divine’ ‘beings’ and/or ‘angels’ (this is more of a ‘functional’ term). This is consistent with Rabbinical views and early Church Fathers. Job 1:6 and 2:1support their claim that sons of God refers to divine beings and/or angels. It is certainly reasonable to argue that all divine beings are elohim with God himself being the unique uncreated almighty elohim presiding over them in a ‘heavenly assembly’ as described in Psalm 82, Psalm 89 & Job 1. However, the phrase is used in Hosea 1:10 to refers to humans. Admittedly, Hosea used the singular form of the word “God,”El, whereas the writer of Genesis 6 used the plural form, elohim. It raises the possibility that humans intrinsically share something with divine beings which makes them sons of God (beney elohim)  – perhaps this is part of being made in God’s image’.

Some use Jude 6–7 to argue that the “sons of God were unfallen or heavenly beings and/or angels who then fell because they had sexual relations with female humans (adam). Apocryphal books, such as the Book of Enoch (quoted in the NT), refer to such beings. They then produced hybrid offspring who were ‘mighty men’, ‘men of renown’. There is no dispute with the notion that some of the elohim (divine beings) rebelled.

However, the assumption that divine beings and/or angels can have sexual relations who produce offspring with female humans is problematic. It is not the sex that is the problem because a number of possibilities make it possible. It is the production of offspring that is problematic. Though Satan (and other heavenly beings) are ‘spirit’ who can take on physical form, they cannot create as God does – they can only alter or corrupt what God has made. The production of hybrid spiritual-physical offspring  in this view is unlikely.

2. A common interpretations is that “sons of God” refers to the descendents of Seth, while the daughters of men” refers to the descendents of Cain. In other words, the righteous line of Seth intermarried with the unrighteous line of Cain resulting in corruption prompting the flood. The meaning of Naamah’s name, the reference to Noah’s wife call Naamah, and the fact that the sons of God saw that the daughter’s of mean were beautiful” is often used to make the connection.

I’ve always found this argument difficult because

  • it seems to me that the term sons of God’ can mean both humans and/or ‘divine’ beings. It seems to me that ‘divine’ beings cannot have offspring-producing sex with humans, let alone marry them. Jesus makes this clear with unambiguous reference to sex –γαμοῦσιν οὔτε γαμίζονται in Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25. Sex in this case implies offspring.
  • why should the sons of God be limited to Seth’s ‘righteous’ line only. Was the calibre of antediluvian humanity as simple as some sort of righteousness based on genetic lineage? If Cain married his sister, was she also unrighteous, genetically. Was unrighteousness an inherited trait? This is hard to believe. I would expect the genetics of both lines to be the same and I can’t see any good evidence anywhere in Scripture that righteousness is based on genetics, pedigree or lineage.

3. Therefore, if both Cain and Seth’s lineage in this antediluvian era is of the line of Adam, then so is Lamech. Could it be that all of Adam’s genetic descendants are sons of God’ – perhaps designated as such because man is made in God’s image? As ‘sons of Adam, might they not be endowed beyond creativity, intelligence, and strength with biological superiority as well? It is clear that Lamech typifies that he in Cain’s line was not righteous but why should it be concluded that Seth’s line be considered all righteous. Maybe some were righteous and some were not in both lines.

At this point it seems to me that there is a direct link, interrupted simply by the genealogy in Genesis 5, between Lamech’s story in Genesis 4 and the account preceding the flood in Genesis 6. Could it be that Lamech (like Cain) is an example of a son of God”seeing that the daughters of men (adam in Hebrew) were beautiful and married any of them they chose. Unfortunately, this creates a foundational problem for many Christian theologians – the possibility of humans who are not in the image of God – not descendents of Adam and Eve – coexisting with, and perhaps pre-existing, Adam’s lineage.

This allows the possibility that Lamech as a son of God” is biologically superior to non-sons (other humans not of the line of Adam). Then, in the manner of Lamech overcoming the ‘young man (adam)’, could not any of the vastly superior ‘sons of God’ effectively pick and chose from the humans who are not sons? The sons of God presumably were less in number than the non-sons because we are told that man (adam) began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them. By this time the descendents of Seth would be also be many, and it may be that many were ‘unrighteous’ and copied Cain and Lamech and chose wives from this pool?

If so, God had a problem with their interbreeding. The hybrids were definitely superior to the beast-like humanity from which their mothers came, though possibly deficient as ‘sons of God’. There may be a clue in God’s creation of Eve from Adam. Perhaps this represents an expectation of inbreeding within Adam’s line, continued in the geneology of Seth down to Noah but breached by those ‘sons of God’ who copied Lamech? It may be that these humans were best thought of as animals who were not in the image of God, who did not share something with the divine elohim but who were otherwise sufficiently human biologically to breed with Adam’s offspring. Not very smart, not creative, not physically as strong or fit as those created in God’s image.

It is likely that ‘giants’ (Nephilim) Genesis 6:4 are not the hybrid offspring. The passage implies the ‘giants’ (Nephilim) were there, perhaps as observers or encouragers of the production of these hybrids. They were there afterwards too, and disruptors of God’s plan for humanity (the Israelites fear entering the promised land under Moses because their spies identified ‘giants).

4. Another possible definition for the ‘sons of God’ is that to be a ‘son‘ of God, one must be directly created by God. In this case, created spiritual beings are ‘sons of God’ and so are Adam and Eve. But their genetic descendants, though in God’simage,‘ are not ‘sons of God’.There are a number of things to note here :

  • Jesus is the only ‘begotten‘ son of God. That is, he is unique and uncreated. In the same way, God the unique, transcendent, uncreated, all powerful all knowing Creator,  is still an elohim,  like created spiritual beings. The term  sons of Godhere does not apply to Jesus.
  • In the New testament, those who become Christians by divine re-creation are called  ‘sons of God’. They are ‘reborn‘ by God’s will.
  • The nation Israel is directly ‘created’ by God through the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and called God’s ‘son‘ in the Old Testament.
  • Men began to call upon the name of the Lord‘ after Cain killed Abel, and Adam and Eve produced Seth. Could these ‘men’ be equated to born again Christian converts in the New Testament, and therefore, validly be called  ‘sons of God’? Are they directly re-created by God as well? In that case, is Genesis 6:1-2 referring to faithful  ‘sons of God’? That seems unlikely.
  • If the term  ‘sons of God’ can be ascribed functionally to those who rule (ideally under God’s sovereignty), whether in the spiritual realm or on earth, then the genetic line of Adam call all be correctly described as  sons of God’ point 3. above remains valid. The alternative is that the  ‘sons of God’ were not human and did actually breed with human women!
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Genesis 4:17-25 Lamech

A detailed article can be found on this site

Article on Genesis 4:17-25 Lamech   

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John 1:11

Posted by Agios Dimitrios on 2011-04-07

John 1:11

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him”

Who are these people?

  1. In the first instance “his own” are the Jews, particularly the nation as an entirety, including its religious establishment, those who studied the Scriptures, the zealots ‘for God’ but also the common people.
  2. However, the context has a more general scope, speaking of the entire creation (1:1-3), and all peoples, not just Jews (1:3,4; 1:7-9, 1:12-13)

Immediate application:

Ultimately, he is talking about all people past, present and future.

He is talking about us because if he came today the response would be the essentially the same.

I doubt he’d be authorised to preach anywhere. [Editor]

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John 12:27-33

by James Fratzia, Easter Sunday : 27 March 2016

“27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.”  John 12:27-33

John 12:33 What “kind of death” is Jesus going to die? (Greek: 33 τοῦτο δὲ ἔλεγεν σημαίνων ποίῳ θανάτῳ ἤμελλεν ἀποθνῄσκειν)

Jesus anticipates his upcoming death in v27 “Now My soul has become troubled“. He gives 4 features that distinguish Jesus’ death from all other deaths in history:

  1. He will glorify God when he dies on the cross v28
  2. His death will bring inevitable judgement upon the earth v31 and the basis of that judgement will be whether they believe Jesus and follow Jesus as the Son of God who is one with the Father. 44 And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 46 I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” John 12:44-48. It is not a judgement simply because of individual human sin, but a judgement upon the earth because the only way to deal with sin justly and for any humans to survive at all is for the Father to send His Son to die for the sins of the world. That is, the world will be judged because Jesus has to die to pay for it’s sin.
  3. It is a death that will free humanity from the clutches of Satan who has enslaved them since Adam and Eve listened to Satan in the garden (Genesis 3: 15). In other words, his death will provide a victory over all the Spiritual beings in the spiritual realm opposed to God and enemies of humanity. Jesus speaks of this when Jesus is accused by the Jewish religious establishment of being Satan or a Prince from the spiritual realm, Mark 3:27.
  4. He “will will draw all men” to Himself v32. In other words, when he is lifted up, or exulted, he will become the gateway and the beacon for people to come to God.

Though this may refer to either the crucifixion itself, or the resurrection itself, it could easily refer to the entire death and resurrection which Jesus will soon experience. Against it including the resurrection is that this is to the glory of the Father’s name, rather than the glorification of the Son specifically which is ordinarily understood to refer to the resurrection. It is not surprising that Jesus tells this to his disciples in response to a group of Greeks (rather than Jews) wanting to see Him John 12:20.

It seems Jesus is indicating that the Jews will not listen (since they’ve already had so many dealings with God yet have not recognized, or simply rejected, His Son) so His mission is to save all people in all the nations, who since the Tower of Babel have been both enslaved to human sin and spiritual powers in rebellion against God, whom the Greeks represent.

But how does the upcoming death of Jesus glorify the Father in heaven v28? The answer is in John 12:24 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. ”  The key word here isalone” which is a faithful translation of the words in the Greek text (“μόνος μένει“). Jesus is speaking of reversing the fall of God. Prior to being ejected from the Garden of Eden, God and man were in fellowship together. Though God is revealed in the Bible to be ‘three’ who are ‘one’ God, and though it appears there there were the spiritual beings in the heavenly realms prior to, and witnesses, to the creation of humanity, God created humanity ‘in his image‘ (Genesis 1:27) to have fellowship with humanity. I suggest that Jesus will glorify the Father by restoring fellowship between God and man, and thereby ensuring that neither human sin, nor the power of Satan ultimately thwart his good purposes in the creation of the universe (both visible and invisible) and the human creatures he placed over it.

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Acts 9:15

9:15   Why does Paul’s commission include “carrying [Jesus’] name” before “the people of Israel“?

Possibilities to consider include:

1.      Jesus needed a 13th apostle to go to Israel too, along with the other twelve

2.      Paul was to be a witness of the truth to the other 12 apostles. He was to hold them to account because somehow they were incomplete as the ‘foundation’ of the church (Eph 3:20) without this accountability. This argument seems to have this evidence

a.      The 12 Apostles appear to have carried too much baggage from their “Jewish religion” and despite their insight and power, they  failed to see that  that the “power” that came upon them in Acts 1 was in order to “witness”, not just in Jerusalem but also “in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:4). Therefore:

                         i.      They didn’t get scattered with the rest of the church after the persecution of Stephen (Acts 8:1). Perhaps the Lord expected them to go but they didn’t obey his command.

                         ii.      They were “forced” to go to Samaria [by Jesus] after Philip had preached the gospel to them and they “believed”.

                         iii.      Now Paul is made the 13th apostle to keep them from allowing their baggage to “quench the Spirit” and to ensure that the gospel remains intact and goes to the ends of the earth.

               iv.      Why does God need to show Peter 3 times that man’s religion must not treat “as impure that which God has made clean” (Acts 10:15; 11:9). By being a curse under the law for law-breakers, Jesus fulfilled the law on behalf of all believers. Why does Peter “wonder about the meaning” of this vision (Acts 10:17)? Why does Jesus need to send men from Cornelius’s house to get him to understand that JESUS is the fulfillment of salvation for all people, not just Jews. 3 times reminds us of the 3 times Peter denied Christ. What effect do you think this connection between incomplete understanding of Jesus atoning sacrifice for all people regardless of ethnicity and denial of Jesus at his time of need might have on Peter? God has raised up a 13th apostle because in a sense his inclination is to ignore the implication that all people are now just as privileged to receive salvation through Jesus as are Jews. Now the risen Lord Jesus goes to great lengths to get Peter to accept this fact. Peter again must again humble himself before the grace & mercy that Jesus is showing him, despite the religious baggage from his past.

              v.       While the apostles remained in Jerusalem unscattered, persecuted Christians go to Cyprus and Cyrene and from there to Antioch and tell Greeks the gospel (Acts 11:19-21). The persecuted Christians seem to understand the call to be witnesses to the entire world (Acts 1:8) and act on it. Peter needs special effects to understand (Acts 11:17) and to accept non-Jews as brothers. Even after this, Paul needs to oppose him and insist that Peter remain faithful to this revelation.

b.      We see Paul in conflict with the apostles in the remainder of the NT from time to time (eg with Peter Gal 2:11). It appears that since they have God’s power in them, the conflict is usually resolved in unity. However, Barnabas is considered by Paul to have taken on a different gospel & perhaps some of the 12 in Jerusalem (Gal 2:14) turned a blind eye to it.

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Acts 10:4

10:4   Why does the angel of the Lord say to Cornelius “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”? How they be a “memorial” (Greek: mnhhosunon)?

  1. It is likely that Cornelius’ prayer and concern for the poor are a reflection of a heart that is right before God. Where it says “he and his family were devout and God-fearing” Scripture is declaring that even though he is not a Jew but an Italian Gentile, he is in fact one of God’s people. Jesus taught that “it is not what goes into a man’s mouth that makes him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth” (Matthew 15:11). This man’s expression of a sincere and genuine faith in God is based on the “fear of God” which is the beginning of spiritual wisdom. It is not the observance of religious rules, regulations and traditions that is the beginning of spiritual wisdom which unfortunately was the attitude of many of the the Jewish nation at the time of Jesus (and still is the false premise of many religious traditions today). Therefore, Cornelius accepts the gospel about the death of resurrection of Jesus (Acts 10:36-43) and receives the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-45) as promised by the Father for the authentic followers of God (Acts 1:4, 2:38). God “does not show favoritism  but accepts men from every nation who fear him and [therefore] do what is right ” (Acts 10:34-35). God doesn’t forget his people and their efforts to live as his people in a world that ridicules them, even a centurion in the Roman Imperial Army! It is a “memorial” because it reflects the membership of God’s people that Cornelius and his family already have as people who fear God. Their prayer and work for the poor do notmake them God’s people. They prayer and work for the poor are a reflection that they already are God’s people.
  2. In this passage we see the difference between the false promise of acceptability by God by religious performance made by many “humanitarian” religions, compared to the true acceptability by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – who he is, and what he has done for us. That is the proclamation of authentic Christianity!
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Acts 11:27-30

11:27-30     The initial experiment of communal ownership of everything seems to have ended in Jerusalem. Here in Antioch there is no mention of such a practice. The church in Jerusalem just after Pentecost appears to have been a fulfillment of the OT Kingdom of Israel, with reversion to pre-king days and the installation of the 12 apostles as 12 judges. God is their king.  Since the famine will strike the entire Roman world (Acts 11:28), it is reasonable to assume that Antioch too will experience famine. The church in Antioch includes significant numbers of Gentiles and so a “Jewish” “new nation” organization might be inappropriate. Perhaps the previous communal experiment is why the famine will strike the church so hard in Jerusalem?

In Scripture, there appear to be two reasons for Christians to collect and use money corporately.

  1. One is to provide for relief of the needs of the poor. Here the poor are starving brothers in Jerusalem. Earlier in Acts it was the widows.
  2. the other might be to enable specific missionary activity, though it is likely Paul and Barnabas worked with their hands (see Paul’s approach in general 1 Cor 9, and in Ephesus Acts 20:32-35)
  3. either way it is under the Spirit’s direct guidance (Agabus’ prophetic activity v27)
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Acts 12:12

12:12 “many were gathered together and were praying”

They were praying for Peter (12:5) who was about to be executed by Herod. This is what Christians do when they are being persecuted. But the effect of praying to a God who listens can be extraordinary. These persecuted Christians rely on God to act supernaturally for the glory of His name & to bring justice to his people against their oppressors.

In this passage (Acts 12:1-25) we see extraordinary things happening as God sends an angel to rescue Peter, and as we see God judge and destroy their oppressor Herod. This is proof for the people of Tyre and Sidon that Jesus, not Herod (or the Roman Caesar) is King. One of the mysteries of evil is that God uses it to bring good, and so many Phonaecian (in Lebanon today) people are saved by believing & receiving Jesus (‘The word of the Lord continued to multiply’ 12:24).

The Christian God doesn’t always destroy those opposed to Him and who seek to harm his people. Sometimes He chooses to have mercy on the persecutor(s). God makes it clear ; “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” Exodus 33:19. God often chooses to relieve persecution in answer to prayer by causing a change of heart in the oppressor so that the oppressor turns to Jesus himself and is saved. This is what happened to Saul in Acts 9. This is the essence of the Christian response to their enemies. This what Jesus meant when he taught to love your enemies. That is, pray for deliverance, and that somehow in this deliverance, good will come to their enemies too – their enemies good is to turn to Jesus and be saved, and to be reconciled to both God and his people. It is probably in this sense that when oppression comes from the state or from other authorities (including ecclesiastical) that Christians “pray for” those “kings and authorities”, that they might avoid persecution from them and have peace as they live “quiet lives” of witness to Jesus (1 Timothy 2:1-7), but also that those kings and authorities might submit to Jesus too. So in this passage we see that in response to his own glory and in response to the prayer for justice from his people God who is normally “slow to anger” can suddenly flare up as a consuming fire. “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire”(Deuteronomy 4:24). No-one can argue that Herod didn’t deserve it for all the blood he had on his hands!

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Acts 18:24-19:1

see article on The Apollos Heresy in the Church today 

Read the artcle The Apollos Heresy

Some people have queried by E-mail the apparent difference that talking to Priscilla & Aquilia made to Apollos between vv 25 & vv 27-28 in Acts 18.

 

Apollos is essentially doing the same thing pre and post his interaction with Priscilla & Aquilia. What the passage curiously doesn’t tell us (as is the pattern in Acts) is that Apollos received the Holy Spirit after talking with them. We are left wondering in regards to Apollos whether he has been baptised in the Holy Spirit. This question is brought into relief as we are immediately told that the disciples of John in Acts 201-2, who likewise had received only the ‘baptism of John, hadn’t even heard of the Holy Spirit. I believe that Priscilla & Aquilia explained the role of the Holy Spirit to Apollos in Acts 18:26. What Apollos certainly took away from that interaction was a doctrine of the Holy Spirit that would have included God’s initiative in salvation through the Holy Spirit and the ongoing ministry of the risen Lord Jesus by the Holy Spirit through the disciples to the world in the new age. That is, the ministry of Jesus by the Holy Spirit that we see in the book Acts, and which is exemplified and taught by the apostles, including Paul.

 

In other words, Apollos would have been ‘helpful to ‘those who had by grace believed (Acts 18:27) because he now understood (at least intellectually) the initiative of God in salvation through the gift of the Holy Spirit. For it is by grace you have believed, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-90). This doctrine of the Holy Spirit in ‘salvation by grace through faith’ would have been useful in his public debates with the Jews (in Acts 18:28). That’s because it would explain the new covenant authenticity (as God’s people) of those who had by grace believed’. There is no reason to consider this public debate anything but an intellectual exercise. We’re not told that these debates were a demonstration of God’s power in any way. For example, Apollos could have intellectually overturned the Jewish argument that a person needs to be a Jew to be saved, or that they needed the right religious pedigree. He could have affirmed what John says in John 1:12-13; Yet to those who received Him, those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent , nor of  human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God”. Apollos would have now understood that believers received Him by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, whereas before Priscilla and Aquilia he probably would have though simply in terms of faith based on human reason from the Scriptures!

 

This ability to engage in intellectual argument in itself is not a sign of God’s power. However, it can be useful. In my view, this is similar to the usefulness of many eloquent teachers of doctrine in the church today.  However, unless they have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they are not saved, and their ultimate effect is not the unity of the Spirit, but division and factionalism caused by human intellect, wisdom and wrong motives.

James Fratzia  13 March 2005

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Acts 21:16

Acts 21:16 Paul obeys the Jewish interpretation of the Law

“The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.”

Many argue that Paul was simply exhausted with continual conflict over the Jewish interpretation of the Law and tradition. James the apostle advises him to comply Acts 21:24. James has already shown compromise by imposing rules on Gentile believers in Acts 15:20.

Paul’s behaviour here is very much at odds with his veracious opposition to submission to the Jewish interpretation of the Law being a precondition for Gentiles becoming Christians. In fact, for anyone becoming a Christian. Take a look at the book of Galatians for example.

Paul appears meek here, and just does as James suggests. No dispute, he just does it. And ends up getting arrested, sent to Rome, and eventually killed as a Christian martyr (tradition).

In some ways he is reminiscent of Jesus after the Garden of Gethsemane, who just quietly goes like a lamb to the slaughter. Jesus had spent time in prayer all night, conferred with the Father one last time, then in a determined manner submitted to God’s will to death on a cross.

Is this what Paul does? Does Paul come to terms with God’s final demand of him, and just allow circumstances to enable him to submit to God’s plan. This is certainly whatActs 23:11 implies “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

So rather than be exhausted, he understood the bigger picture, recognising the Lord’s use of both the ‘compromising nature’ of James, and the animosity of the Jews to Christian freedom in the gospel, to enable him to humbly comply with the Lord’s purpose for him to go to Rome and testify to Jesus there.


 

While reading these passages in Acts what came to my mind was Paul’s ardent defense, unlike our Lord who spoke little in his defense when before Pilate. It seems to me that Paul’s compliance with the “purification rites” and “obedience to the law” was because he wanted to defend himself to the widest possible audience and on the greater issue – the resurrection of our Lord. His “appeal to Caesar” another indication of wider motives, he would have been set free if not for his appeal. Rather than “just allow circumstances to enable him to submit to God’s plan” I see Paul as cleverly and bravely manipulating his accusers and judges to achieve God’s plan for him.

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Acts 24:15

It’s impossible to read these passages in Acts without again admiring the character of Paul. Acts 24:15 seems to be saying, amongst other things, that Paul’s actions are also for the benefit of those that are persecuting him

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Romans 10:1-21

Submitted by James Fratzia on 2015-06-30 at 13:51:45

Romans 10

This passage is intriguing and means different things to different christian traditions. Some exegetical points from me :

Rom 9:33 is a merged quote from the Septuagint Isa 8:14;28:16 “33 As it is written:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

this verse is the context for Romans 10. It refers to Jesus who makes righteousness by ‘works’ impossible.

Rom 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Rom 10:12 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Humans first began to call upon the “name of the LORD” after Seth was born in Genesis 4:25. So since then, human’s who call upon the “name of the LORD” have been saved by faith. The link here is that the “name of the LORD” is about Jesus.

Again, quoting Isa 52:7 from the Septuagint Romans 10:14-15 refers to this good news (Rom 10:16) and says “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

These verses have been used over and over again by many christians and churches in reference to the work of missionaries and preachers of the gospel.

The following passages are interesting if that is true.

Firstly, “faith” consequent to “hearing” a “message” is on view in Romans 10:16-17. But how is this the work of christian missionaries and preachers if Rom 10:18 (quotingPsalm 19:4) true since the time of Seth Genesis 4:26, where faith is on view and there are no Christian missionaries. “But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:

“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”

What is actually being ‘preached’ throughout the world (universe)? We are told in the Psalms it is the ‘glory of God’, seen in what has been made. It is hard to imagine what else has been preached to all the earth. This is probably what is referred to in Rom 1:15-20. This content is ‘heard’ “through the word about Christ” Rom 10:17.

This “word about Christ” is instrumental in God declaring in Isa 65:1 “I was found by those who did not seek me;
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”

So this “word about Christ” ‘reveals’, and allows ‘hearing’, of ‘good news’ by those who aren’t listening (Gentiles), and is not heard by those who are listening (the cultic, ethnic nation of Israel) Romans 10:19, 10:21.

Secondly. the voice of the ‘preacher(s)’ “goes to the ends of the earth” Rom 10:18. This doesn’t sound to me like christian preaching and missionary work because it predates them. It sounds like the work of the Holy Spirit that allows people to see and hear the good news about Jesus, and is so well documented in the New Testament, but was operating before Christ, heard by listeners and expressed by them as faith (Hebrews 11:1-39). This ‘voice’ (Psalm 19:4) sounds like it causes internal change in the hearts of people who hear then, and in response they then accept Jesus by faith.

This is not unexpected. Ezekiel 36:26 says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

This is something that is internal and spiritual (a “circumcision of the heart”) described in Romans 2:29 “No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”

Let’s look at Romans 10:17 again.
NIV the word about Christ
NASB the word of Christ or the word concerning Christ
NRSV the word of Christ
NKJV the word of God
RSVCE preaching of Christ
Greek
1881 Westcott-Hort ρηματος χριστου
1550 Stephanus ρηματος θεου
Scrivener ρηματος θεου
SBLGNT ῥήματος Χριστοῦ

Often, the English “word” (of God) is a translation of the Greek word “λόγος” eg John 1:1-3. In Romans 10, the Greek word for “spoken word” or “utterance”, “ῥῆμα” is used many times. This “ῥῆμα” is is referring to a more personal spoken communication by Christ or the Holy Spirit1. A sort of directed specific communication related to inspiration, insight and understanding of the word..

“λόγος” also refers to the “word” of God, but appears less specific. It may convey content such as the “word” or communication that is written down in the Bible, or a deeper creative significance in the mystery of the person of Jesus and divinity, or even an alternative spirituality in Ancient Greek philosophy (λόγος is used by both Plato (c. 428–347 BC) and Aristotle (384–322 BC) along with ῥῆμα)2.

So here, in Romans 10, the instrumental ‘word’ which is voiced throughout all the earth, since the beginnings of human worship of God, which is revelatory to individuals specifically spoken to by God, who turn in faith to God, is not referring to simply to intellectual content. It is referring to a transformative communication to specific individuals from God. And the preacher, since the beginning of time, is Jesus Christ himself.

This is not the modern christian preaching and missionary movement.

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1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:1-4, 16:12
1 Corinthians 3:18-4:16

Submitted by James Fratzia on 2015-7-22 at 15:07:45

1 Corinthians 3:18-4:16

In the Church in Corinth, people are following human leaders and using their alliegance to their ‘spiritual leaders’ to consider themselves superior to other ‘christians’ – to judge others. This follows the Greco-Roman traditional exultation of the philospher orators, or other ideologies proposed by charismatic or influential leaders, who provide wisdom. This should have nothing to do with christians meeting together as a church. But it does in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

Sadly, such identification with specific preachers is common in churches today and throughout history. It is the pattern of the ‘world’ and it is futile. It is also fatal for our relationship with God. In this passage Paul argues essentially that christians follow Christ and only Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” ‘Cephas’ is the apostle Peter. Quite clearly, the papacy in Roman Catholicism is a historical example of following ‘Cephas’, and been puffed up about it.

Paul’s point when he says All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours,” is expanded in 1 Corinthians 4:1-4 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” 

The function of ‘leadership’ amongst Christians is not to have a following as is commonly understood in the world’s futile thought. It is not about the leader getting something in return – like money for preaching or leading or performing ‘magic’ in religious rituals. It is not about being a Chief Executive Officer, or running an institution or an organisation. A leader too has a relationship with Jesus which means that they too are ‘forgiven’, not ‘perfect’. A genuine leader doesn’t worry about whatever worldly standard is applied to them, and expects nothing in return – they do what God has equipped them to do for the benefit of God’s people and the glory of the risen Christ Jesus. So leadership is about encouraging Christians to be ‘self-sufficient’ in Jesus Christ, to recognise that they need no-one but Christ as their leader.

1 Corinthians 4:8 “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!

The really profound thing Paul is advocating to the Corinthians is that they are ‘kings’ who ‘reign’ simply because Christ chose them; simply because they live a life of faith following the risen Lord Jesus. This is a marvel to powerful beings in the spiritual realm when they look at what humans become when they move from being targets of God’s wrath to becoming His children in Christ. But it requires faith for christians living in a skeptical world to resist worldly thinking and trust Jesus alone to lead them through it perils.

1 Corinthians 4:9-12 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands.When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.” 

The Christian concept of leadership is ‘upside-down.’ Leaders should just do what they do – encourage christians to follow Jesus, and Him alone – because that is ‘authentic’ leadership. 1 Corinthians 4:2  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” There should be nothing to gain for christian leadership but praise from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5 “At that time each will receive their praise from God”. Christians should be wary of leaders who gain material benefits “this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless …….We work hard with our own hands”, high position, special status, or extra-ordinary praise etc from their brethren. Christian leadership should not expect or take benefits.

Authentic Christian leadership is always an encouragement because it reveals things to christians of which they may not be aware 1 Corinthians 4: 1 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. With renewed thinking, christians should recognise that leaders are equals who contribute what God has given them and requires them to contribute. Nothing more is required but to treat them as any other brother or sister in the Lord. Any Christian has the capacity to encourage other christians, whether they are leaders or not.

Paul is levelling all christians as equal in the eyes of God. There is no laity – clergy separation, no clerical model, no ‘paid ministry’ model here, no leader/follower model. 1 Corinthians 4:6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.”  This is necessary because all Christians as receive and share the same spirit (Ephesians 4) who empowers them; 1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” 

Paul asks christians to immitate this approach in one of the shortest verses in the Bible; 1 Corinthians 4:16 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” And Paul does so out of concern for christians in Corinth because many of them first heard of Jesus from Paul. His concern is as a father to a grown up child, not as a leader to a follower 1 Corinthians 4:14-15 14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children.15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.”

These things from this passage do not reflect historical, institutional Christianity do they? Jesus’ name has been exploited in history to build human ‘spiritual’ empires and exploit people just like the ‘name’ of God has been used to exploit people by all sorts of religion since time immemorial.

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Philippians 1:18

Submitted by Agios Dimitrios on 2011-04-07 at 14:12:42

Philippians 1:18 “But what does it matter? the important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.”

  1. Paul is making a comment on the importance of the testimonyabout Christ.
  2. Paul is also making a comment on that which consoles him. These people, even though they seek to do him harm, are actually doing something (not anything else) that is in accordance with Paul’s purposes.
  3. Paul is not saying it is OK to have people masquerading as authentic messengers of the gospel.
  4. Paul is not saying that Christians should ignore the motives of teachers/preachers because they preach the gospel. In fact, the overwhelming force of the NT is that such people must be dealt with and expelled from fellowship if necessary.
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  1. What Every Christian Ought to Know by Adrian Rogers 2005 ISBN 0-8054-2692-2 page 162
  2. General linguistics by Francis P. Dinneen 1995 ISBN 0-87840-278-0 page 118
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