Friday, April 30, 2010

Biblical Names And Meanings

"There are many biblical words and concepts that cannot be brought into English well, which is one reason learning the Bible sometimes requires the study of materials outside the Bible itself.

Among the things that cannot be easily brought into English are: puns, idioms, and times when the original word had more than one meaning and both are applicable. This happens regularly with names, because many biblical names had meanings that are important to the story.

People reading the original language see both the name and the meaning at the same time.

Job” means “attacked,” and so people reading the Hebrew text knew that the book of Job was
the book of the attacked one.

Abraham” is “father of a multitude,” and he is exactly that.

Deborah” means “bee,” and she certainly stung the Canaanites (Judges 4 and 5).

Delilah” means “pining away” or “wasting away,” which is exactly what happened to Samson under her influence.

Gideon revealed his aspiration to rule Israel when he named his son “Abimelech,” meaning, “My father is king.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Than a Lady

The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth;... II John 1:1

"This verse is usually translated something such as: “The elder, to the chosen lady and her children… (NIV). The Greek word translated “lady,” (kuria) is the feminine form of the word “lord” (kurios), as in “Lord” Jesus. Using the word “lady” worked very well at the time the King James Version was written, because at that time, “lords,” and “ladies” were those of high society who ruled households and had great influence. Over time, however, the word “lady” came to be used more of a well-mannered woman, not necessarily a powerful and influential one.

Some versions use “mistress” to translate kuria, and 100 years ago that worked very
well, because the “mistress” was the ruler of the house. However, we today usually think
of a mistress as a “kept woman,” and the translation does not work well.

As our society loses its social stratification, the words and titles that clarified those positions disappear too, leaving us without a good English translation of kuria."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Child-Conductor

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galations 3:24

"Galatians 3:24 says the Law was our “schoolmaster(KJV) to bring us to Christ. However the Greek word is paidagogos, and it referred to a very trusted household slave who oversaw the rearing of young boys, and accompanied them to and from school to oversee their safety.

It is easy to see that this Greek word is hard to bring into English just by the large number of ways it has been translated: “child-conductor(YLT); “schoolmaster(KJV); “guardian(ESV); “tutor(NASB); “put in charge(NIV); “a slave to look after us(NJB); and “disciplinarian(NRSV).

None of those translations really perfectly describe the paidagogos, so at some point the student of Scripture simply has to learn what the paidagogos was and what he did, and then the truth of Galatians can be clearly seen: the Law was God’s trusted slave that took charge of educating and raising the people of God, and assuring them of ultimately getting safely back to Him."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Eye For An Eye

You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say unto you: Do not resist him who is evil, but whosoever shall smite you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:38-39

"ALL TOO OFTEN, Christians try to make a contrast between Christianity and Judaism. When making these comparisons, the goal is usually to show the superiority of "New Testament" Christianity over "Old Testament" Judaism. At times, it gets a bit unfair.

The scripture verse above conjures up brutal images of someone, perhaps even accidentally, knocking out the eye of someone else. The guilty party is hauled into a Jewish court, which orders the guilty party to have his eye knocked out. In point of fact, this commandment, quoted from Deuteronomy 19:21, was a limiting feature on vengeance, basically saying, let the punishment fit the crime.

In many ancient, and even current cultures, it was (and sometimes is) common to have a punishment way out of proportion to the crime. Even in England a few hundred years ago, the penalty for pickpockets was hanging! In many Islamic cultures, the penalty for stealing is to have one's right hand chopped off. The commandment from Torah is actually remarkably liberal. The rabbis took this commandment and made it even more liberal.

The maximum penalty stays as written for its deterrent effect. However, there was always "grace," even in Torah. For instance, the penalty for desecrating the Sabbath was death. However, the number of times that the death penalty was actually applied could be counted with the fingers on one hand.

Likewise, the "eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" was applied very liberally. According to the Mishna, the guilty party was to pay the injured party for 5 different aspects of the injury: damage, pain, healing, loss of time from work, and insult. [The VALUE of an eye for an eye and the VALUE of a tooth for a tooth.]

Even keeping the Biblical command literally, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," looks outrageously liberal by comparison to penalties imposed by the nations surrounding Israel. The Biblical command was actually putting a limit on the punishment to be meted out."

"An Eye For An Eye" (Continuing Studies in Matthew)
Rick A. Chiamberlin

Monday, April 26, 2010


Bible Study Guide has the following interesting insight:

"The Bible contains some sarcasm or irony, which should not be considered unusual,
because sarcasm can be used to make a very graphic point. However, sarcasm can be
misinterpreted if the context is not read carefully, because sarcasm is usually carried in
the tone of voice, not in the words themselves.

“Attack and be victorious.” In 1 Kings 22:15 the king of Israel asked the prophet
Micaiah about going to war. “‘Attack and be victorious,’ he [Micaiah] answered, ‘for the
LORD will give it into the king’s hand.’” A careful reading of the context show that
Micaiah’s answer was sarcasm, and he did not mean it at all.

“The foolishness of preaching.” 1 Corinthians 1:21b says “…it pleased God by
the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Preaching the Word of God is
never foolishness, but the context makes it clear that preaching seemed like foolishness to
those people who reject it (1 Cor. 1:18).

“You have become rich.” 1 Corinthians 4:8 says, “Already you have all you want!
Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us!” This
sarcasm powerfully points out that the exact opposite was true of the Corinthians. They
were worldly (1 Cor. 3:3) and had many problems.

Jeremiah’s sarcasm. Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the LORD do so! May the LORD
fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the LORD’s house and
all the exiles back to this place from Babylon(Jer. 28:6). Jeremiah spoke these words to
Hananiah the false prophet, but he was being sarcastic, something that is quite evident
from the context. God had told Jeremiah the captivity would last 70 years (Jer. 25:11),
while Hananiah was saying two years (Jer. 28:3)."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rachel's Recipe For Conception

And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes. And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son's mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son's mandrakes. Genesis 30:14-15

Rachel, wife of Jacob, may be the first woman in history about whom we have a clinical account of effects from the use of a tranquilizing drug. In her case the potent stuff was self-prescribed.
Frantic because she was unable to present her husband with a son, Rachel took drastic steps (Gen. 30:14-15). She bargained with Leah for a supply of roots from a plant supposed to increase one’s sexual potency. Leah’s son Reuben had found a colony of mandrakes—plants that grow wild throughout the eastern Mediterranean region—in a wheat field. Once Rachel got her hands on them, she used them in a fashion prescribed by folk doctors of many cultures.

Since prehistoric times the mandrake has been valued for its alleged power to foster human fertility. In the Bible it is mentioned five times in connection with Rachel, once in the Song of Solomon. Recipes and charms linked with it remained current until comparatively recent times. Some medieval vendors even carved human features on mandrake roots. Then they claimed to have dug them from the ground, shaped by nature to resemble the babies they were supposed to bring. Such a mandrake image was known as a mannikin or erdman (“earthman”).

Regardless of whether Rachel’s mandrakes were carved or plain, she got results in the form of a son whom she named Joseph. Whatever its other effects may or may not be, the mandrake (distantly related to belladonna or “deadly nightshade”) has a soothing effect upon the nerves of some who use it. Since some physicians now administer modern tranquilizers to foster conception, it may be that Rachel’s self-prescribed dose actually did enable her to become a mother.

(Garrison, Webb., Strange Facts About the Bible, Testament Books, New York, 1968, pgs 22-23)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eating "Karats"

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. Luke 15:16

"Locust/carob could be the same word – Carob could be a “locust bean” – also called St. John’s bread – The carob seed became a standard of weight because of the regularity of each seed’s weight. The weight of one carob seed later became one “karat” and eventually became the measure of weight for diamonds. The prodigal son was probably feeding carob bean husks to the swine in Luke 15:16."

(Lash, Neil & Jamie., “Jewels From the Journey,” Jewish Jewels, Ft. Lauderdale, FL., pg 4)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gashing "Bad" Figs

Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: Amos 7:14

"The word “gather” (Hebrew bawlas) only occurs here, and it means “to pinch sycomore figs” in order to ripen them. This is peculiar to sycomore figs. Normally, figs that don’t receive wasps just shrivel and fall off.

However, if sycomore figs are gashed or pierced at the right time – when the female flowers are in blossom – they will increase their size and weight 7-fold in only 3-4 days. They ripen well before their time.

In this I see the awesome love our Father has for all of His children. Even bad figs, if gashed, have the opportunity for salvation through Jesus Christ Whom also was pierced for us (Isaiah 53:5). In turn, He gashes bad figs with His Word (Revelation 1:16).

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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Poorest of the Poor

Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: Amos 7:14

The sycamore fig has been an important food among the poor of the Near East since prehistoric times, although it is much inferior to the common fig. No one ate it who could afford anything better.

When Amos said he was a gatherer of sycamore figs (“a dresser of sycamore trees,” Amos 7:14), he was describing himself as being among the poorest of the poor.

(Juengst, Sara Covin., Like a Garden: A Biblical Spirituality of Growth, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1996, pg 9)

Monday, April 19, 2010

We are Blessed With Bread

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
1 Corinthians 11:24

On the night in which he was betrayed and given up to death, Jesus took bread and, as he had done so often, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. He blessed it. Bread, one of the most basic of all God’s gifts and human creations, was blessed.

Before the bread, there had been seed, the thousands of seeds scattered across some hillside. The fields had been plowed. The rains watered. The soil had been fertilized and tilled and nurtured until the wheat was brought to full growth. Then it was harvested, gathered, and ground into flour. The flour was mixed with shortening, salt, yeast, and milk. It became batter, then dough; then the dough was kneaded and shaped into loaves where it was allowed to rise. Then it was baked. All of this–the soil, the farmer, the sower, the miller, the baker, the earthly, the corporeal, the commercial, the creaturely, the mundane stuff of everyday life–all of this was blessed.

All of this was claimed by Christ as part of the self-giving love of God. All of this became sacramental. Never again, after that blessing, can we look upon a field of grain or a loaf of Communion bread or a slice of breakfast toast in the same casual way we did before.

God is in all that, in the people who work with them, in the people who partake of them, in us. The bread might end up on the Lord’s table, being blessed as part of the Lord’s Supper. Even if it does not, Jesus has blessed it. "This is my body...for you," he has said (1 Cor. 11:24). For you. He took bread and blessed it . And thereby we are blessed.

(Willimon, William. 1981. Sunday Dinner: The Lord*s Supper and the Christian Life. Nashville, TN: The Upper Room., pgs 33-34)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Did Jesus Teach Cannibalism?

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. John 6:53

"Today, the rabbi discussed the absolute prohibition against eating blood. My question concerns [Jesus'] statement, "Unless you eat (my body) and drink (my blood) you have no part of me." How do you understand [Jesus'] seeming blatant denigration of eating/drinking blood when there is such a Jewish revulsion against this very idea?

Obviously [Jesus] wasn't telling his disciples to break the prohibition against eating blood by offering his own blood to drink. This is one of the so-called "hard sayings" of [Jesus]. A passage that sheds excellent light on these passages is 1 Samuel 23:17.

A couple of verses earlier, David was very thirsty at the encampment awaiting the battle with the Philistines. He made the comment, "Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate." Then three of David's men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem and brought it to David. However, David poured it out, saying, "Be it far from me, O YHWH, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?" Now, obviously David's men weren't giving David their own blood to drink, but water from the well in Bethlehem.

Likewise, Yeshua didn't change the Passover wine into his own blood. At this time, Yeshua hadn't even had his blood poured out in the crucifixion at Golgotha. No, this is purely symbolic. When we partake of the wine (or grape juice if you prefer), we are drinking wine or grape juice, not the blood of [Jesus].

However, symbolically we identify it with the blood of [Jesus]. Likewise, when we partake of the...matzo, we are eating unleavened bread, not the literal body of [Jesus], which would be tantamount to cannibalism. It was also not his intention to turn us into cannibals.

However, symbolically, we are partaking of [Christ's] crucified body, which the matzo [cracker-like bread] symbolizes so clearly with its pierce marks, stripes, and "bruises," clearly foreshadowed by Isaiah 53:5. I trust that this clears up your questions. "


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Samson's Clever Ploy

And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man. Judges 16:7

The story of one of Samson’s actions was brought to light by Dr. Ephraim Hareuveni... after he had studied one of the interesting plants growing both in the many dry river beds of the Negev (together with the white broom and the saltplant), as well as on the coarse sandhills and sandy loam of the coastal plain – areas that were in Philistine hands in Samson’s time.

In Arabic the plant is called mitnan, a word taken from tamtin or tamtan meaning the guyrope of a tent – yeter in Hebrew. This plant’s Hebrew name, suggested by Dr. Ephraim Hareuveni, is yitran, derived from yeter. [This was the name of Yitran ben Dishon of the descendants of Esau (Genesis 36:26 and I Chronicles 1:41) and of Yitran ben Tzofakh (I Chronicles 7:37).] The yitran is, in fact, the best plant for making ropes. [The Latin name is Thymelea hirsuta (L.) Endl.]

The leaves of the yitran are small and flush with the branch. They have a thick membrane on the bottom (outside) and on the upper side (inside) they are covered with white, feltlike hairs. These characteristics are related to the arid regions in which the yitran grows. Its roots penetrate to the deep strata of the soil, enabling the plant to remain fresh and green throughout the year in Israel, even in desert areas.

The yitran’s branches are bent, especially at the tips. This gives the bush a soft shape, most prominently in the bow-shaped young branches that whip about rapidly in the breeze. This characteristic makes it easy to distinguish the yitran even at a distance from similarly colored and shaped plants growing in its habitat. The yitran also has a sharp sulfurous odor that is diffused when the branches are rubbed or when the bark is peeled to make ropes.

Familiarity with the
yitran plant and the lengthy, complex rope-making process enables us to understand how Samson outmaneuvered the Philistines and at the same time publicized his strength far and wide.

“Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah who lived in the Wadi (valley of) Sorek. The lords of the Philistines went up-country to see her and said, ‘Coax him and find out what gives him his great strength, and how we can master him, bind him, and so torture him; then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.

So Delilah said to Samson, ‘Tell me what gives you your great strength, and how you can be bound and tortured?’ Samson replied, ‘If they bind me with seven yetarim that are moist and have never dried, then I shall become as weak as a normal man.’ So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven yetarim not yet dry, and she bound him with them. She had men already hidden in her room. Then she called out to him, ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon you!’ Where upon the snapped the yetarim as a strand of tow comes apart at the touch of fire. So the secret of his strength remained unknown. (Judges 16:4-9)

In the foothills of the Judean mountains where Samson lived..., the yitran does not grow. Ropes made from yitran fibers could certainly have been bought in the local marketplace, but Samson’s instructions to Delilah explicitly prevented this, for he told her that they must be “moist and never been dried.” In other words, he ensured that these would be freshly picked and not rewetted, thus precluding their purchase in the local marketplace as ready-made, dry ropes that Delilah could have wetted before using.

Samson’s conditions required the Philistines to get an enormous amount of work done in one day: They had to gather huge quantities of yitran fibers on the coastal plain for the actual plaiting; immediate plaiting – before the strands dried out – all the while paying strictest attention to the quality of the rope that had to be plaited with special care to ensure the greatest possible strength. All this required marshalling a number of experienced teams capable of finishing the work in the morning hours. For after the ropes were finished, they still had a long journey of at least twenty kilometers from the land of the Philistines to Samson’s home – many hours walk in the heat of the day. All this activity must have caused great curiosity in the Philistine villages along the way. Quite a crowd must have gathered to see the capture and submission of the fabled Samson.

One can almost hear the cries of amazement and excitement from the crowds at Samson’s unbelievable feat when he snapped seven ropes made from this incredibly strong yitran fiber as easily as “a strand of tow comes apart at the touch of fire.” It takes but little to imagine how the story of Samson’s feat grew like wildfire in the telling and retelling as the people returned to their villages and embroidered upon what they had seen and heard. Samson succeeded in multiplying the deterrent power of his actual strength by applying an intuitive understanding of crowd psychology in this clever “public relations” ploy.

(Hareuveni, Nogah., Tree and Shrub in Our Biblical Heritage, Neot Kedumin Ltd., Kiryat Ono, Israel, pgs 54-56)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Eaters of Barley Bread

And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. Judges 7:13-14

The common bread–such as was used by the very poor and unfortunate, or in times of famine–was made of barley. The Lord fed the hungry multitude with five barley loaves which belonged to a small boy. The sons of the prophets in the days of Elisha ate barley bread. Nothing was more common than for the people to complain that their oppressors had left them nothing but barley bread to eat. The Bedouins often called their enemies “eaters of barley bread.”

The diet of the East has always been light and simple. The chief points of contrast between their diet and ours are the very small amount of animal food consumed and the variety of articles used with bread; but the chief point of agreement is the huge consumption of bread.

The preparations of bread were various and simple. Sometimes the fresh grains, after being carefully picked, were roasted in a pan over a fire, and eaten as “parched corn” in which form it was and is an ordinary article of diet.

I have watched women in Syria make bread a great many times. First they made a fire of dried dung and withered vine branches, which were laid upon the hearth; and the bread, being spread out with the hands like a pancake, was baked over this. Each cake was exceedingly thin, and could be rolled up and placed in the mouth at once.

Sometimes they made unleavened wafers, anointed with oil, which were baked in a plate or pan; and likely the cakes which Sarah made upon the hearth for the three angels, were of this kind (Gen. 18:6). Sometimes the grain was bruised and dried in the sun; then eaten, either mixed with oil, or made into soft cakes (the “dough” of the Old Testament).

The common people have little other food than durra bread, which consists of a sort of coarse millet, kneaded with camel’s milk, oil, butter, or grease.

The best bread–such as was used in the sacred offering–was always made of wheat, and then ground and sifted formed the “fine flour” used in the offering. The ground but unsifted wheat would answer to the “flour” and “meal” of Judges 6:19.

In villages the bread is either baked on cakes of dried dung, or by means of clay ovens, built on the floor of the house. Each household possessed such an article except the very poor, when one oven sufficed for several families. It was heated with dried twigs and grass and thorns. The bread to be baked was placed both inside and out.

(Bowen, Barbara M., Strange Scriptures that Perplex the Western Mind, WM B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1944, pgs 87-88)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Scriptural Confections

And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:
Exodus 30:35

"Confection and confectionary are words which now refer to candy and sweetmeats, things good to eat because of their sugar. As used in the KJV, they refer to compounds of spices, things good to smell, whether for perfume or for incense. "Confection" occurs in the instructions given to Moses for the making of the holy incense—"Thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary" (Exodus 30:35). RSV has "make an incense blended as by the perfumer." This was to be used only in the worship of the LORD.

"Confectionary" occurs in 1 Samuel 8:13, where the prophet Samuel warns the people who were asking for a king: "he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers." RSV has, "He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers."'

(The Bible Word Book, Bridges & Weigle pg 80)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Grieve Not the Spirit

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

The word grieve is taken from the Greek word lupete, which comes from the word lupe. Lupe denotes a pain or grief that can only be experienced between two people who deeply love each other.

The word lupe normally is used to describe a husband or wife who has discovered that his or her mate has been unfaithful. As a result of this unfaithfulness, the betrayed spouse is shocked, devastated, hurt, wounded, and grieved because of the pain that accompanies such a betrayal.

This tells us that the relationship that exists between us and the Spirit is tender and precious. The Holy Spirit is faithful to lead us to Christ, to empower us to keep God’s commandments, and to help sanctify us. When we deliberately enter into sin, it grieves him.

One scholar has translated Ephesians 4:30 in the following way:

Stop deeply wounding and causing such extremely emotional pain to the Spirit of God, by whom you have been sealed till the day of your redemption.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dirty Laundry

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word,.... James 1:21

The words “lay apart” in the verse above are taken from the Greek word apothimi—a compound of apo, meaning away and thimi, meaning to place or lay something down. It gives us a picture of someone who is laying something down and at the same time he is pushing it far away from himself.

In New Testament times, apothimi was frequently used to describe someone taking off his dirty clothes at the end of the day. James uses this illustration to explain how we must deal with wrong attitudes and actions in our lives.

Just as we wouldn’t go to bed in stinky dirty clothes, neither should we go to bed holding wrong attitudes. We must deal with them like filthy clothes. We have to clean up our bad attitudes.

It is important to realize that dirty clothes don’t fall off your body by accident! To get them off, you have to push the buttons through the button holes, unzip the zipper, and slip the clothes off your arms and legs one piece at a time. Dirty clothes don’t automatically come off just because you realize they are dirty. They only come off if you do something to remove them.

When James says to “lay apart” all filthiness from our lives, he is telling us to first acknowledge what is wrong with our actions and attitudes, and then to take appropriate measures to remove those things from our lives.

[Note: For more info on the word "naughtiness," see post on "naughty" figs on Feb. 4, 2009]

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Divine Umpire

- Col 3:15 -

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Colossians 3:15

The word “rule” used in the verse above is the Greek word brabeuo. It was used in ancient times to describe an umpire or referee who moderated and judged the athletic competitions so popular in the ancient world.

Paul uses this word to tell us that the peace of God can work like a referee in our hearts, minds, and emotions. When detrimental emotions attempt to exert control over us or try to throw us into an emotional tailspin, we can stop it from happening by making the choice to let God’s peace rise up from deep inside us to ‘referee’ or moderate our emotions.

As we do, we will be kept under the control of that divine peace as it rules in our hearts. When the divine umpire called ‘peace’ steps into the game, it suddenly begins to call the shots and make all the decisions—instead of fretfulness, anxiety and worry being in charge.

Col. 3:15 could be translated:

Let the peace of God call the shots in your life....
Let the peace of God be the umpire in your life and actions....
Let the peace of God act as a referee regarding your emotions and decisions....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Doers of the Word

The next few posts mainly come from a Greek New Testament and an electronic book called Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner. When I took notes, I generally followed the text, but I did make some additions based on other references works I have.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22

The words “hearers only” are taken from the Greek word akroates, which was used in classical Greek times to describe people who audited a class rather than taking it for credit.

In other words, these people didn’t attend the class to receive credit for the course. They were simply there to hear the lecture, think about what was taught, and later discuss it with their friends. They had no intention of actually applying what they heard. In addition to being intellectually stimulating, these lectures could be quite entertaining.

These “hearers only” would roam from meeting to meeting because they loved special speakers and the excitement of hearing something they hadn’t heard before. Sometimes they followed their favorite speakers from city to city. Although the “hearers only” had no intention of applying anything they heard, they loved to gather new information that made them look more knowledgeable in the eyes of other people. It was their delight to attend meetings in order to be with the crowd, to have a good laugh, or simply to hear something new.

But they never put any effort or action into what they heard. They didn’t consider that it was a message to apply or obey. They weren’t listening to master information, get credit or progress. They simply wanted to have a good time.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Allusions to the Cross in the Old Testament

And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
Exodus 17:11-12

"And again He speaks of this in Moses, when Israel was attacked by foreigners. And that He might remind those who were being attacked that they had been given over to death because of their sins—the Spirit speaks to the heart of Moses, that he should make a type of the cross, and of Him who was to suffer thereon. He is saying that if they do not place their hope on Him, they shall be under attack forever.

Moses therefore placed one shield upon another in the midst of the battle, and standing upon it, so as to be higher than all the people, he stretched forth his hands. And as long as he did so, Israel again prevailed; but whenever he let down his hands, they were again being killed. Why? So that they might know that they could not be saved unless they put their trust in him.

And again, in another prophet He says: "All day long I have stretched out my hands to a people who are disobedient and who oppose my righteous way (Isa 65:2)." And again Moses makes a type of Jesus—signifying that it was necessary for Him to suffer, and also that He whom they believed had perished would bestow life. For since transgression was committed by Eve through means of the serpent, the Lord brought it to pass that every kind of serpent bit them, and they were dying, so that He might demonstrate to them that it was because of their transgression they were given over to the straits of death.

Furthermore, it is this same Moses who commanded: "Ye shall not have any graven or molten image for your God (Deut 27:15)." He did so that he might reveal a type of Jesus. Moses then makes a brazen serpent and places it upon a beam, and by proclamation assembles the people. When, therefore, they were come together, they begged Moses that he would offer sacrifice in their behalf, and pray for their recovery.

And Moses spoke unto them, saying: "Whenever anyone of you is bitten, let him come to the serpent erected on the wooden pole; and let him hope, believing that even though dead, it is able to give him life, and immediately he shall be healed." And they did so."

(Ehrman, Bart D., The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings, Oxford University Press, New York, 1998, “The Letter of Barnabas”, chapter 12:2-7, pgs 353-354)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dust and Robes

And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, Acts 22:23

Easterners, when not at work, generally wear expensive and heavy robes. The outer robe or garment usually worn on such occasions is called abaya. It is an expensive and heavy garment which many men wore as a token of dignity and not because of necessity. When men enter a house they remove their abayas. Likewise, when at church or mosque, the robe and shoes are removed and set aside. Then again, when people quarrel, they throw off their garments to avoid getting them soiled. A man would almost rather have his body stabbed than have his good robe destroyed.

These men cast off their robes as a signal of protest and of readiness to attack Paul, as in the case of the stoning of Stephen.

Dust is symbolic of mourning, or of repudiation of some act wrongly committed. When a man is killed, his relatives throw dust over their heads and garments. Likewise, when some awful deed is committed, Easterners lose their tempers and act almost mad. Paul, in the eyes of the Jews, had defiled the Temple by bringing Gentiles into it. The priests and religious men tried to magnify the seriousness of the incident in order to incite the crowd and bring about the arrest of Paul.

(Lamsa, George. New Testament Commentary, A.J. Holman Co., Philadelphia: 1945, pgs 163-164)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Mourning Clothes

And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
Genesis 37:33-34

Rending clothes is a chief sign of mourning in the East. It is customary to lay aside jewels and fine clothing and to be clothed in sackcloth while making loud wailing. See Josh. 7:6; I Sam. 4:12; II Sam. 1:11; 3:31; 13:31; II Ki. 2:12; 18:37; 19:1; Ezra 9:3; Job 1:20.

The ceremony of rending clothes requires the use of a knife. Cuts are first made on the right side of the upper garment for brother, sister, son, daughter, or wife, and on the left side for a father or mother. Then, other garments are likewise cut.

When sackcloth is used it is generally material made of the hair of goats or camels, a cloth that is very coarse and black. Such was used for straining liquids, for sacks, and customarily for mourning garments. Sometimes in mourning sackcloth was worn next to the skin and at other times over the outer garments, or instead of them.

(Dake, Finis Jennings., Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Dake Publishing, Inc. Lawrenceville, Georgia, 1999, pg 101)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lukewarm Laodicea

And unto... the church of the Laodiceans write; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: ..... So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Rev. 3:14-16

"Laodicea had a monopoly in textiles, a world-renowned medical industry, and a prosperous financial center. Writers of the ancient world speak openly of their envy of Laodicean wealth. Record after record attests to their status.

Their one weakness was the water supply. Water had to be piped in to Laodicea. Cold water could come from the abundant supply at Colossae, but by the time it traveled the ten or so miles from the cold springs, it was lukewarm. About six miles away in Hierapolis were hot springs, but that water, too, was lukewarm when it reached Laodicea. Whether they piped in the cold or the hot water, it arrived at Laodicea lukewarm.

What does Christ mean by this metaphor? Cold water stimulates and invigorates. Nothing refreshes more than drinking a glass of cold water on a hot day. And hot water? It is useful for health. Not only do we mix it with teas, herbs, broths, and the like, but it also works as a solvent, good for cleaning just about anything.

What does lukewarm water do? Christ's complaint against the Laodiceans is revealed here: It is good for nothing! The Laodicean is useless to Him. Lukewarm water is an emetic: It makes one vomit. In terms of God's work, a lukewarm Christian is useless. The other traits of Laodiceanism spring from this characteristic of uselessness. As Head of the church, Christ cannot use them in the spiritual state in which He finds them. We should think of this in terms of biblical symbolism: Water represents God's Holy Spirit."