Friday, February 26, 2010

The Earnest of the Spirit

Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
2 Corinthians 1:22

"A fascinating example comes to mind. Paul writes to his community at Corinth “he [God] has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor 1:22). The word translated here “guarantee” is the Greek word arrabon (arrabwn).

It is actually a word of Semitic origin and is used in Gen 38:17 for a “pledge.” However, it gets picked up in the Greek world and we have many examples of its usage. It is actually an economic term that refers to a “down payment” or a “first installment” in a purchase. That is why the King James Version translated it “earnest,”—like the “earnest money” in a real estate deal.

It is also used in the surviving Greek papyri in connection with an engagement ring—a pledge of marriage. One of our most valuable and fascinating sources for understanding the Greek contemporary with the writing of the N. T. documents are the papyri. These are the hundreds of thousands of scraps of letters, receipts, notes, and other documents, both formal and informal, that have survived, mostly in “garbage dumps” in Egypt where the climate is dry.

These texts offer us many examples of the ways in which words, so common in the New Testament, are used in the contemporary culture, often in an “everyday” context. For example the word euangelion (euangelion), or “Gospel,” which Christians properly hold sacred, is actually a common Greek term for “good news,” and is even used in a Greek inscription that survives at Ephesus in connection with the emperor Augustus Caesar and his policies in the eastern Mediterranean."

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Look to me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.
D&C 6:36

Gary Carter wrote the following about worry:

"What are we really saying when we worry? We are saying:

Maybe Heavenly Father doesn’t care, after all.
Maybe Heavenly Father isn’t good, after all.
Maybe Heavenly Father’s promises aren’t true, after all.
Maybe Heavenly Father isn’t in control, after all.
Maybe Heavenly Father isn’t sovereign, after all.
Maybe Heavenly Father doesn’t work all things for good for those who love Him, after all.
Maybe Heavenly Father isn’t all wise in the trials He sends us, after all.
Maybe Heavenly Father isn’t a faithful Father, after all.

What terrible things to say! Let us think about what we are really saying when we worry."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Romans 1:28

The word "adokimos" is translated ''reprobate" (Rom. 1:28; 2 Cor. 13:5-7, 2 Tim. 3:8; Tit. 1:16), "castaway" (1 Cor. 9:27), and “rejected" (Heb. 6:8). It is used to describe a counterfeit coin, deficient as to weight or quality of metal.

It is also used, figuratively, to describe a cowardly soldier who fails the test of battle; a candidate rejected for office; and a stone rejected by the builders. In each case, that which is "reprobate" has promised something by its outward appearance which it cannot deliver!

Booker, George., By The Way, ChristadelphianBooksOnline, Section IV

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

False Accusations

And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
Luke 19:8

The words, “false accusation,” come from the Greek word sukophanteo, from which comes our English word, “sycophant,” a “flatterer” or “accuser.” Literally it means “fig-informer” or “fig-identifier.”

This job [tax collector] involved inspecting, and consequently stopping the illegal exporting of figs, thus preventing them from leaving the country, and keeping them were they belonged – especially in times of drought. The term became synonymous with fraud and extortion. Perhaps a few figs here and there went unnoticed, for a price.

(Meyer, Allen R., Insects and Other Critters of the Bible, Bible-Student Resources, Claimont, Alberta, Canada, 1997, pg 48)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Especially for Teens

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied;

evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring.

Imaginary good is boring;

good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.”

Simone Weil

Friday, February 19, 2010

Handed Down

Even as they delivered [handed down] them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
Luke 1:2

In the preface to his Gospel, Luke uses two standard terms from the vocabulary of philosophical schools. First, he speaks of a succession of teaching from the teacher. He will record the deeds of Jesus, “even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us” (Luke 1:2). This word is the same one that Josephus used to describe Moses’ “handling down” of the laws to the succession of priests, and the Pharisees’ tradition, which was “handed down” from the fathers.

By Luke’s time of writing, the deeds of the revered founder of Christianity have become a tradition that must be carefully guarded from error. This recalls the concern of the Greco-Roman philosophical schools to preserve their various traditions through successions of teachers.

Another interesting term in Luke’s preface is asphaleia [“certainty” Strong’s # 803]: Luke writes so that Theolophilus might come to realize the “secure basis” of what he has been taught. Although this word is characteristic of historical prefaces, as we have seen, philosophers also used the term to describe their efforts. Their goal was to provide a sure basis for ethical action.

The philosopher Plutarch (ca. A.D. 100) distinguishes philosophy from superstition on the ground that only philosophy offers a way of seeing the world that is “secure(On Superstition 171E). Justin Martyr (mid-second century), having set out to find a “philosophy which is secure and profitable(Dialogue 8.1), finally became a Christian.

Although he uses a different Greek word, Justin’s contemporary Lucian has one of his characters turn to philosophy in order to find a “plain, solid path in life (Menippus 4). These words had numerous other applications, but their appearance in the preface to Luke fits the notion that he wanted to present the religion of Jesus as a philosophy.

Mason, Steve. 1992. Josephus and the New Testament. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers., pgs 216-217)

[ NOTE: the use of the words “secure basis” is interesting because the term philosophers use today to establish a given concept is “grounding.” Luke was written to the gentiles, so it figures that he would use an approach that would appeal to their sensibilities. Justin Martyr especially was concerned as a Christian apologist with reconciling Christianity with the popular philosophy of his day.]

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Good Work

And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

Mark 14:6

He begins by saying that the woman has done “a good work.” This is a technical term. It means almsgiving, putting up strangers, visiting the sick, burying the dead or the like.

According to Rabbi. Simlai, of the second half of the 3rd century A.D., the Torah opens with “a good work,” God clothing the naked, and concludes with one, God burying Moses.

Daube, David., The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1956, pg 315)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.
Matthew 12:1

[His disciples were an hungered] Were hungry. The former is a mode of expression totally obsolete. How near does the translation of this verse come to our ancient mother-tongue, the Anglo-Saxon!—The Healer went on rest-day over acres: truly his learning knights hungred, and they began to pluck the ear and eaten.

We may well wonder at the extreme poverty of Christ and his disciples. He was himself present with them, and yet permitted them to lack bread!

A man, therefore, is not forsaken of God because he is in want. It is more honorable to suffer the want of all temporal things in fellowship with Christ and his followers, than to have all things in abundance in connection with the world.

Clarke's Commentary

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From Heaven

The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
Matthew 21:25

By the time of the Second Temple, Jews had developed an aversion to using the name of God for fear of violating the Third Commandment. They substituted evasive synonyms for "God" such as "the Name" (an abbreviation of "the Name of the Lord"), "the Place," "the Power," and "Heaven" (as in Matthew 21:25). In the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven," this substitution is clearly seen.

In Luke 15:18 the Prodigal Son says, "I have sinned against Heaven..." There also, "Heaven" is a clear substitute for "God."

Bivin, David, and Roy Blizzard, Jr. 1994. Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights from a Hebraic Perspective. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers., pgs 58-59

Monday, February 15, 2010

Remember the SEED

My guest blogger today shared a fun and helpful memory key to use with a Book of Mormon scripture and it was too good to just keep to myself. Thanks, Jennifer!

"I found the one in Alma, where it spells the word S-E-E-D with the phrases starting "beginneth to":

Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. Alma 32: 28 "

Friday, February 12, 2010


Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: Matthew 7:7

The first word of Matthew 7:7 is a handy key for the memorizing of the entire verse:

the word is "ASK"; and the three phrases of that verse begin, respectively, with A (ask), S (seek), and K (knock).

Booker, George., By The Way, ChristadelphianBooksOnline, Section I

Thursday, February 11, 2010


My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
Job 27:6

The New Testament uses the word syneidesis for “conscience”; this English word, derived from the Latin conscientia, “with knowledge” is an accurate equivalent of the Greek–a man “knows with” his inner self if something is not right.

Old Testament Hebrew does not have a word for conscience at all. Modern Hebrew has coined the word matspun from a word which means “to conceal”­–we hear the voice of God concealed within us. The same root yields matspen, “compass”–our conscience gives us the direction in our lives.

When the Old Testament speaks of the conscience it uses the word “heart.” Job could say, "My conscience will not reproach me as long as I live" (27:6). The Hebrew phrase lô yeharev levavi, “my heart does not sting me,” underlines the part played by the heart as an indicator of the state of one’s relationship with God.

When David had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe in the cave at En Gedi we read that he was afterwards "conscience stricken" (1 Sam. 24:6). The Hebrew states badly that "his heart beat" inside him. The same phrase is used when the census is taken of the fighting men in Israel and Judah, when David, in his lack of faith, weighs up his own human potential (2 Sam. 24:10)...the act implied a lack of trust in God. Solomon, in 1 Kings 8:38, prays for mercy for Israel since "each one is aware of the afflictions of his own heart.” The phrase nega levavô means ‘heart pains’.

Our hearts ‘sting’ and ‘hurt’ unless we are honest before God.

Santala, Risto. 1992. The Messiah in the New Testament. Jerusalem: Keren Avah Meshihit., pg 144

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Clear Before the Lord

And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless (Heb. “clear”) before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. Numbers 32:22

Clear before the LORD, and before Israel. The idea contained in this phrase became a general moral maxim among the Rabbis. “Man should be clear not only before God but also in the estimation of his fellowmen.

It is not enough that a man’s conscience is pure. He must strive to make even his outward actions irreproachable and above suspicion. A man should avoid doing things that appear wrong.

Hertz, Dr. J.H., The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 2nd Ed., Soncino Press, London, 1992, pg 709

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Have Gotten

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
Genesis 4:1

Lekoneh means “to get as result of a relationship of love” or “to conceive.” Eve says, Qanithi, I have gotten a man from the Lord(Genesis 4:1) when she gave birth to her first son.

Later on, the word became used for “buying.” The Jews did not intend commerce to be a cold, selfish transaction, but rather a relationship in which, governed by love, two parties exchange needed items.

Let Christian merchants profit by this teaching.

Wurmbrand, Richard., 100 Prison Meditations: Cries of Truth from Behind the Iron Curtain, Living Sacrifice Books, Bartlesville, OK, 1982, pg 193

Monday, February 8, 2010


A friend was telling me about an upcoming conference on Chiasmus to be be held in Salt lake on May 15th, and it sounded really intriguing. A chiasm is like God's fingerprint and many significant documents-including the Declaration of Independence- have that form.

So I just found this in my file and thought I'd share another verse that has that structure.

Poets call this matching pattern a chiasmus: 1, 2, 3:3, 2, 1. A clear example of it is Jesus’ quote of Isaiah:

Sluggish indeed is this people’s heart.
They have scarcely heard with their ears,
they have firmly closed their eyes,
otherwise they might see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15

The end-words form a chiasmic pattern: heart, ears, eyes:eyes, ears, heart.

(Link, Mark S.J., The Seventh Trumpet, Tabor Publishing, Allen, TX, pg 15)

Friday, February 5, 2010

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

As I was reading the excerpt below, I was struck with how much good is missed when one does not have a Book of Mormon perspective. It is a great blessing and wonderful second witness to the Bible.

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Psalm 46: 7; 11

"It is common sense that the true God would only reveal Himself to sincere and earnest seekers who want to know Him in truth in order to obey Him. The first prerequisite to knowing God is the willingness—indeed, the passion—to know Him as He really is, not as one imagines or would like Him to be. It is no less idolatry to create an imaginary god in one’s mind than to make one out of clay, wood, or stone.

So, who is the true God who proves Himself by unfailingly foretelling the future in the Bible? The Bible identifies Him as “the God of Israel” 203 times, “the God of Jacob” 28 times, “the God of Abraham” 17 times, and “the God of Isaac” 13 times.

[Note: We can add God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob at least 9 times in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. He is called God, The Holy One of Israel nearly 300 times in modern scripture.]

Never is He called the “God of any other ethnic group.”

[Note: Not a specific ethnic group, but He is also God of the whole earth
3 Nephi 11:14]

These designations are foundational to everything the Bible teaches, including the very character of God. To profess to believe in God and at the same time to hold a prejudice...against Israel, turns these clear biblical identifications into meaningless titles. If you are seeking a God who can be trusted, be sure you know the God who never slumbers nor sleeps— He is the Lord God of Israel."

By Ron Ross, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio Host

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Biblical Names Have Meanings

"After learning some Hebrew, I found that the names in the Bible were more meaningful. Suddenly, I was seeing words, not just names. Melchizedek is an interesting example (Genesis 14:18). It is actually two Hebrew words, melchi and tzedek. Melchi means “my king,” and tzedek means “righteous.” So, whenever someone called him by name, they were saying “my righteous king.”

The name Yeshua is the Hebrew word “salvation.” Isaiah’s two sons’ names formed a sermon when said together. His first son’s name was Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means “swift is the booty, speedy is the prey (Isaiah 8:3–4). The second son’s name is Shear-Jashub, which means “a remnant shall return.” Every time Isaiah’s wife called the boys to dinner, she was proclaiming to the entire neighbourhood that there was going to be war and captivity, but a remnant would return."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blessing God For Our Food

The blessings used by Jews over the bread and wine are wonderful examples of blessing God every day. The blessings are as follows:

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.”

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”

It is customary in many families to pray before meals, and to bless the food. One phrase frequently used is “bless this food to our bodies.” Jewish people are a little surprised by this kind of prayer. They assume the food is good because God made it and gave it to us as a gift. The prayers above are prayers of thanksgiving and honor to God who gave us the good gifts of food and wine.

When Christ fed the five thousand, it says He blessed.

Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes” (Matthew 14:19).

Reading that before learning about life in Israel, I thought Christ just blessed the food. Now I'm inclined to believe He blessed God, who gave the food, as is the Hebraic custom.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Secret Place

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Psalm 91:1

"We do not know who wrote this psalm. Some say it was David, but Jewish tradition claims it was Moses. The mention of the plague in the psalm reminds the Jewish people of the plagues of Egypt, so it is often called the Song of Plagues. Also, the language of Deuteronomy 32, which Moses wrote, is very similar.

The “secret place” in Hebrew is sayter (Strong’s #5643). It means a hiding, a covert in a mountain, a veil or covering, a protection, a defense, or a private or clandestine place. It comes from the verb that means to hide, keep close, conceal, or keep secret. Many Scriptures use this word though it is not always translated into English as “secret place”: “You are my hiding place (Ps. 32:7); “I will trust in the shelter of your wings(Ps. 61:4). Psalm 91 tells us that the secret place is a refuge from enemy attacks, whether by day or by night.

Some Jewish sages understand the terror, the arrow, the pestilence, and the destruction described in verses five and six as demons. So the psalm includes enemies from the spiritual realm. It is a reassuring psalm and a great one to have hidden in our hearts for the days ahead.

However, the many stories of Christians living under terrible persecution tell us that God does not always choose to keep His faithful ones from harm. So how are we to understand these words about God’s protection? While God always wants us to cry out to Him for protection and deliverance from our physical enemies, ultimately that secret place is the inner place. When Christian martyrs die, I believe they are in that secret place that no man can touch. Too often we focus on physical protection, so when God does not choose to protect, our faith is shaken. We need to focus on the secret place where no man, no enemy (natural or supernatural), can disturb or invade.

Paul possibly suffered more than any other follower of Jesus mentioned in the Bible. He lists his trials:

in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (2 Cor.11:23b–27).

Yet, he seems to go through it all with grace, peace, joy, and an unwavering faith. When he and Silas were imprisoned, they sang and worshipped the Lord (Acts 16). When he was on a storm-tossed ship for over two weeks, he demonstrated no anxiety whatsoever, even as he watched the ship’s cargo being tossed overboard (Acts 27). The situation was so desperate that the crew took no time to eat for 14 days. Although Paul was not a sailor and only a passenger (and a prisoner), he spoke with such confidence and authority that the crew listened and obeyed. When he was bitten by a poisonous viper, he simply shook it off (Acts 28). There is no panic or fear of death.

How does one walk through such circumstances with such peace of mind? Paul lived in that inner place with God. It was so real to him that what he experienced in the flesh was of no consequence. His expressions of faith, recorded in Romans 8:38–39, were not mere words to Paul; he knew them to be true: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” These harrowing experiences did not separate him from God because that secret place was a reality to him."

Charleeda Sprinkle

Monday, February 1, 2010

Words Used For "Love" in the Bible

Helmut Richter, a German linguist gives these thoughts:

"In the Greek New Testament, there are three different words used which can be translated by the English word "love":

· agapê (love, charity) and words derived from it

· philia (friendship, love) and words derived from it

· storgê (natural affection), only as astorgos (lacking natural affection) in Ro.1:31 and 2Tim.3:3.

The translations given in parentheses are those one would find most often as explanations of the difference between these words.

A fourth Greek word for "love", eros (attraction, sexual love) is not found in the Greek NT, neither the word itself nor as root of another word.

For the Hebrew of the Old Testament, the picture is quite different. With respect to words for love, it resembles our languages like English or German: there is one and only one word for love (the verb ahav and the noun ahava) which covers the concept as broadly as our modern word "love". God's love (Jr.31:3), love of God (Dt.6:4), love of the fellow man (Lv.19:18), love of a friend (2Sam.1:26), love of a girl (Gen.29:20), mere sex (Prov.7:18), love of money (Eccl.5:9), and love of vanity (Ps.4:3) are all called by the same name.

Now, are agapê and philia synonymous? This question has been discussed for quite some time. In particular, the story of the reinstatement of Peter plays with the different words meaning love:

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" - "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. ...
" (John 21:15-17, NIV)

In this translation, the verb agapaô is rendered as "truly love" and the verb phileô as "love". It looks as if Jesus had asked a different, perhaps a less demanding, question at the third time, and Peter had committed himself only to friendship, not to "true" love. But is that really meant?

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time the same question, and not relieved that Jesus reduced his demands at his third attempt. In what follows, Jesus announced that Peter would have to bear the full burden of friendship, reminding him that "greater love (agapê) has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (philoi)" (John15:13, NIV). - Whatever the interpretation of the change of words in this discourse, there is little evidence that philia is an inferior kind of love compared to agapê."

Here is another article on this topic: