"FOLLOWING JESUS WITHOUT DENOMINATIONALISM" Further Thoughts Related To Authority In Religion INTRODUCTION 1. In the past two lessons in this series, I have stressed that to be free of religious division we must have the same "standard of authority" a. That standard is the Will of Christ... 1) As revealed in the "apostles' doctrine", that is, the teaching of Christ's apostles 2) As inspired by the Holy Spirit, and preserved for us in the pages of the New Testament b. Other standards, both objective and subjective, are not suitable guides to lead us in the way of salvation... 1) Not the Old Testament, majority rule, parents, preachers, creeds and traditions of men 2) Nor conscience, human wisdom, or feelings 2. But before we leave the subject of authority, there are some questions I believe worthy of our consideration... a. Exactly how does one use the New Testament to establish authority? b. Are there limitations placed upon how far we may go in matters of religion? c. Will having the same standard of authority "guarantee" unity among the followers of Christ? -- In this lesson I wish to share some thoughts along these lines [Beginning with...] I. HOW AUTHORITY IS ESTABLISHED A. AUTHORITY CAN BE ESTABLISHED IN ONE OF THREE WAYS... 1. Direct command or precept - a direct statement of something that can or cannot be done a. E.g., "repent and be baptized" - Ac 2:38 b. E.g., "love one another" - Jn 13:34 c. E.g., "abstain from sexual immorality" - 1Th 4:3 2. Approved example - an illustration that shows a practice was done with the approval of the Lord's apostles a. As an apostle, Paul taught by both precept and example 1) He encouraged others to imitate him, and sent Timothy to remind people of "his ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church" - 1Co 4:16-17 2) The God of peace will be with those who do the sort of things both heard (precept) and seen (example) in an apostle like Paul - cf. Php 4:9 b. So when we have an example that meets with apostolic approval, we know there is authority for the practice 1) E.g., having a plurality of elders in one church - Ac 14:23; 20:28; Php 1:1 2) E.g., meeting on the first day of the week for the purpose of breaking bread (i.e., the Lord's supper, cf. 1Co 10:16-17) - Ac 20:7 3. Necessary implication, or "forced conclusion" - something neither expressly stated nor specifically exemplified, yet it is necessarily implied by the clear import and meaning of the language used so that one can only draw a particular conclusion a. Jesus appealed to necessary implication when He reasoned that there must be a resurrection of the dead based upon the implication of God's statement to Moses - cf. Mt 22: 29-33 b. Peter and the brethren in Judea understood the necessary implication of the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit, that it meant Gentiles were permitted to be baptized and enjoy the repentance that leads to life - cf. Ac 10:44-48; 11:15-18 c. Therefore, if the evidence of the Scriptures warrant it, we may draw certain conclusions because of the necessary implication 1) E.g., the issue of baptizing infants... a) The prerequisites for baptism include faith and repentance - Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38; 8:37 b) Infants are incapable of faith and repentance -- Therefore the necessary implication (or forced conclusion) is that baptism is not required of infants 2) E.g., the matter of using unleavened bread in partaking the Lord's Supper... a) There is nothing expressly stated nor specifically exemplified in reference to using unleavened bread as we observe the Lord's Supper b) But when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper at the Last Passover, we know that He was using unleavened bread - cf. Lk 22:7-19 -- Therefore the necessary implication is that we should use unleavened bread as we keep His command to observe the Lord's Supper B. THERE IS BOTH "GENERAL" AND "SPECIFIC" AUTHORITY... 1. Using a "direct command" as an example, sometimes it is "general" in its authority a. That is, "not limited in scope, area, or application" (The American Heritage Dictionary) b. E.g, the command to "go" in Mt 28:19 is generic enough to authorize all methods of transportation 2. Sometimes a "direct command" is "specific" in its authority a. That is, "explicitly set forth; definite" (The American Heritage Dictionary) b. E.g., when God commanded Noah to build the ark with "gopher" wood (Gen 6:14), the specific nature of the command ruled out using any other kind of wood 3. A "specific" command may itself have a degree of "general" authority a. E.g., the command to "sing" specifically authorizes acapella music b. It is not generic enough to authorize instrumental music... 1) ...which is totally different class (or kind) of music 2) ...but it is generic enough to authorize different aids or "expedients" (see below), such as song books, to carry out the command to sing C. "EXPEDIENTS" MAY BE USED TO CARRY OUT AUTHORIZED PRACTICES... 1. "Expedient" means "appropriate to a purpose" (The American Heritage Dictionary) 2. Thus an "expedient" is an aid that is suitable for carrying out that which is authorized 3. Sample "expedients" based upon what is authorized in the Scriptures: a. Assembling is authorized, so the meeting house is an expedient to carry out the command to assemble b. Teaching is authorized, so arrangement in classes is an expedient to carry out the command to instruct c. Giving is authorized, so collection baskets are an expedient for gathering the contribution d. Baptism is authorized, so the baptistery is an expedient to provide a place for immersion e. Singing is authorized, so hymn books are expedient to helping us sing [These principles on how to establish authority from the Scriptures may seem prosaic, but they can be very useful in applying the "apostles' doctrine" (i.e., the Word of God) to our lives. When properly understood and applied correctly, they can be useful "tools" to maintain the unity and peace of a local congregation. Another question that often arises when the subject of authority in religion is being discussed: "Are there limitations placed upon how far we may go?" I.e., must we have authority for all that we do in religious matters? To help answer such questions, consider these...] II. WARNINGS FOUND IN THE NEW TESTAMENT A. WE MUST NOT CHANGE ITS MESSAGE! 1. This is especially true in regards to the gospel of Christ! - Ga 1:8-9 2. Even if we claimed a change was authorized by an angelic messenger, we would be accursed! 3. Therefore, the gospel of salvation in Christ must be preserved in every respect! B. WE MUST NOT ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM IT! 1. We find such a warning at the conclusion of the last book of the Bible - Re 22:18-19 2. Though primarily applicable to the book of Revelation, this warning is consistent with others pertaining to the revelation of God's will to man - Deut 4:2; Pr 30:5-6 C. WE MUST ABIDE IN THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST! 1. Otherwise, we will not have fellowship with the Father and the Son - 2Jn 9 2. Is this passage referring to the doctrine "about" Christ, or the doctrine "taught by" Christ (along with His apostles)? a. As pointed out in the Expositor's Bible Commentary, the question is of little importance for John holds equally to both positions 1) It is fundamental to the faith to hold to the proper views about Christ - cf. 2Jn 7 2) It is fundamental to the faith to obey the commandments of Christ - cf. 1Jn 3:24 b. Thus what John says here applies in either case D. WE MUST NOT ALLOW "TRADITIONS OF MEN" TO MAKE THE "COMMANDS OF GOD" OF NO EFFECT! 1. Jesus charged the Pharisees with "vain" worship for doing this - Mk 7:5-13 2. In view of this warning, we should evaluate our religious practices: a. Are they based upon "traditions of men", or the "commandments of God"? b. If "traditions of men", does our keeping them render the "commands of God" of no effect? c. E.g., by keeping the man-made tradition of sprinkling for baptism, we render the command of God for immersion (Grk. "baptizo") of no effect E. WE MUST NOT ABUSE OUR LIBERTY IN CHRIST! 1. In Christ we enjoy wonderful freedom, but we must be careful in our use of it - Ga 5:1, 13 2. We must be considerate of our brothers' consciences - Ro 14: 14-15:3 3. We should be willing to forego our liberty rather than let it destroy a brother - 1Co 8:9-13 4. We should not only ask "Is it lawful?", but also "Does it edify?" - 1Co 10:23-24,31-33 [With such "warnings" weighing upon our hearts, we are more likely to approach the Word of God with the humility it deserves as we seek to establish the authority for our service to God. But one last question related to having the same standard of authority: Will it "guarantee" unity among the followers of Christ?] III. AGREEING UPON THE SAME STANDARD WILL NOT GUARANTEE UNITY A. THERE ARE STILL CHALLENGES TO FACE... 1. Which commands are binding today? a. Some commands must be understood to be limited in application b. Effort must be made to determine whether a command was intended to be limited or universal in application 2. Which approved examples are to be considered normative for the church today? a. Much of what we learn about the church pertaining to its work and organization is by example, not precept b. Effort must be made to determine whether an example should be understood as teaching a binding principle for the church to observe universally 3. When are necessary implications really necessary implications? a. People often infer things from the Bible and call their conclusion a "necessary" implication b. But it may only be a "possible" implication, not one to be "necessarily" inferred -- These are some of the questions or challenges faced by every congregation of Christians B. AS CHRISTIANS SEEK UNITY, WE NEED MORE THAN JUST THE SAME STANDARD OF AUTHORITY... 1. Barton W. Stone, an effective promoter of Christian unity in the early 1800's, had these insightful words in an article entitled "Christian Union" published in The Christian Messenger (1828): "On no other foundation can the parties ever meet, than on the Bible alone, without note or comment; and in no other name will they ever unite, but in that given to the disciples at Antioch--CHRISTIAN. But should all the professors of Christianity reject all their various creeds and names, and agree to receive the Bible alone, and be called by no other name than Christian, will this unite them? No, we are fully convinced that unless they all possess the spirit of that book and name they are far, very far, from Christian union." (As quoted by J. M. Powell, The Cause We Plead: A Story Of The Restoration Movement, 20th Century Christian, 1987, p. 56) 2. In addition to agreeing on the same standard of authority (i.e., the Word of God), we need the proper spirit to "rightly divide the word of truth" - cf. 2Ti 2:14-16 3. As Paul told Timothy, the servant of the Lord must carefully apply the Word when seeking to teach others - 2Ti 2:23-25 CONCLUSION 1. The apostle Paul has more to say on the attitudes necessary to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace", but we will consider those in our next lesson 2. My purpose in this lesson has been to share some thoughts that I pray will help steer us in the right direction as we "Follow Jesus Without Denominationalism": a. The Bible teaches us, not only by way of direct commands, but through approved examples and necessary implications b. It is helpful to understand the principles of general and specific authority, and when something may be expedient to fulfill things that are authorized c. Warnings throughout the scriptures should serve to keep us on the "straight and narrow" d. But as valuable and needful the same standard of authority may be, simple agreement on what the standard is will not guarantee unity - we need to apply the proper spirit of love, patience and humility as we grow together towards unity in Christ What is your attitude toward the authority of God's Word? Are you willing to accept the authority of Jesus Christ, as delegated to His apostles? - cf. Mt 28:18-20; Ac 2:36-38
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011
From Mark Copeland... "FOLLOWING JESUS WITHOUT DENOMINATIONALISM" Further Thoughts Related To Authority In Religion
Moses and the Art of Writing
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Some time ago, a young lady from a local university visited our offices at Apologetics Press and requested to speak to someone about a “new theory” she had been taught in her freshmen literature class. For the first time in her life, she was told that Moses could not have been the author of the first five books of the Old Testament. Supposedly, Jesus, Ezra, Paul, and others were wrong in ascribing these books to Moses (cf. Mark 12:26; Ezra 6:18; 2 Corinthians 3:15). This impressionable young freshman was beginning to think that what she had learned regarding the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch in her Sunday school classes and at the Christian school she had attended nearly all of her life was wrong.
The idea that Moses did not write the Pentateuch—a theory known as the Documentary Hypothesis—actually has been thrown into the faces of Christians for more than two centuries. And yet, amazingly, one of the first assumptions upon which this theory rests was disproved long ago. From the earliest period of the development of the Documentary Hypothesis, it was assumed that Moses lived in an age prior to the knowledge of writing. One of the “founding fathers” of the Documentary Hypothesis, Julius Wellhausen, was convinced that “ancient Israel was certainly not without God-given bases for ordering of human life; only they were not fixed in writing” (1885, p. 393, emp. added). Just a few years later, Hermann Schultz declared: “Of the legendary character of the pre-Mosaic narrators, the time of which they treat is a sufficient proof. It was a time prior to all knowledge of writing” (1898, pp. 25-26, emp. added). These suppositions most certainly had an impact on these men’s belief in (and promotion of) the theory that Moses could not have written the first five books of the Old Testament.
One major problem with the Documentary Hypothesis is that we now know Moses did not live “prior to all knowledge of writing.” In fact, he lived long after the art of writing was already known. A veritable plethora of archaeological discoveries has proven one of the earliest assumptions of the Wellhausen theory to be wrong.
- In 1949, C.F.A. Schaeffer “found a tablet at Ras Shamra containing the thirty letters of the Ugaritic alphabet in their proper order. It was discovered that the sequence of the Ugaritic alphabet was the same as modern Hebrew, revealing that the Hebrew alphabet goes back at least 3,500 years” (Jackson, 1982, p. 32, emp. added).
- In 1933, J.L. Starkey, who had studied under famed archaeologist W.M.F. Petrie, excavated the city of Lachish, which had figured prominently in Joshua’s conquest of Canaan (Joshua 10). Among other things, he unearthed a pottery water pitcher “inscribed with a dedication in eleven archaic letters, the earliest ‘Hebrew’ inscription known” (Wiseman, 1974, p. 705). According to Charles Pfeiffer, “The Old, or palaeo-Hebrew script is the form of writing which is similar to that used by the Phoenicians. A royal inscription of King Shaphatball of Gebal (Byblos) in this alphabet dates from about 1600 B.C.” (1966, p. 33).
In 1901-1902, the Code of Hammurabi was discovered at the ancient site
of Susa (in what is now Iran) by a French archaeological expedition
under the direction of Jacques de Morgan. It was written on a piece of
black diorite nearly eight feet high, and contained 282 sections. In
their book, Archaeology and Bible History, Joseph Free and Howard Vos stated:
The Code of Hammurabi was written several hundred years before the time of Moses (c. 1500-1400 B.C.)…. This code, from the period 2000-1700 B.C., contains advanced laws similar to those in the Mosaic laws…. In view of this archaeological evidence, the destructive critic can no longer insist that the laws of Moses are too advanced for his time (1992, pp. 103,55, emp. added).The Code of Hammurabi established beyond doubt that writing was known hundreds of years before Moses.
In this connection it may be said that writing was well known in Palestine and Syria throughout the Patriarchal Age (Middle Bronze, 2100-1500 B.C.). No fewer than five scripts are known to have been in use: (1) Egyptian hieroglyphs, used for personal and place names by the Canaanites; (2) Accadian Cuneiform; (3) the hieroglyphiform syllabary of Phoenicia; (4) the linear alphabet of Sinai; and (5) the cuneiform alphabet of Ugarit which was discovered in 1929 (1938, p. 186).Numerous archaeological discoveries of the past 100 years have proved once and for all that the art of writing was not only known during Moses’ day, but also long before Moses came on the scene. Although skeptics, liberal theologians, and college professors will continue to perpetuate the Documentary Hypothesis, they must be informed (or reminded) of the fact that one of the foundational assumptions upon which the theory rests has been shattered by archeological evidence.
REFERENCESAlbright, W.F. (1938), “Archaeology Confronts Biblical Criticism,” The American Scholar, 7:186, April.
Free, Joseph P. and Howard F. Vos (1992), Archaeology and Bible History (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Jackson, Wayne (1982), Biblical Studies in the Light of Archaeology (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Pfeiffer, Charles F. (1966), The Biblical World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Sayce, A.H. (1904), Monument Facts and Higher Critical Fancies (London: The Religious Tract Society).
Schultz, Hermann (1898), Old Testament Theology (Edinburgh: T&T Clark), translated from the fourth edition by H. A. Patterson.
Wellhausen, Julius (1885), Prolegomena to the History of Israel (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black), translated by Black and Menzies.
Wiseman, D.J. (1974), The New Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
God’s Ceramics Are More Than Pottery
|by||Kyle Butt, M.A.|
Scientists all over the world are constantly looking for better materials with which to build things. Companies need stronger metals, more flexible nylon, and tougher fabrics. This intense demand for better “building blocks” often makes it difficult for scientists to originate new ideas fast enough to keep pace. One approach that has greatly enhanced scientists’ ability to supply fresh, practical ideas has been to turn to nature and copy the structures found there. Copying design in nature has become so prevalent that the scientific community has named the field of study “biomimicry.” From the research done in this field, it has become obvious that nature’s Designer is possessed of far more creative ability than anything humanity has been able to produce.
Specific examples of excellent design in nature abound. In an article for Technology Review, Katherine Bourzac recently detailed one such example. In her article, titled “Ceramics That Won’t Shatter,” she mentioned the challenge that materials scientists face when working with ceramics. Ceramics can be an excellent construction material since they are hard and lightweight. One major drawback of using ceramics, however, is the fact that they fracture and break, much like a flower pot or dinner plate. Bourzac summarized this difficulty by saying that scientists are trying to find ceramics “that combine strength (a measure of resistance to deformation) with toughness (a measure of resistance to fracture)” (2008). Interestingly, researchers have discovered exactly what they are looking for in “the porous but resilient material called nacre that lines abalone shells.”
Bourzac explained the marvelous design of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl. It is a combination of calcium carbonate, which breaks very easily, and special natural glue. Combined, these two substances are “3,000 times tougher than either constituent.” The efficiency of this composite material is amazing. Robert Ritchie, a scientist from the University of California who co-led the research and development of the new biomimetic ceramic, said: “When nature makes composites, the properties are better” (as quoted in Bourzac). The list of possible applications for the new ceramic is virtually endless. The new material could be used to make lightweight automobile frames, airplane hulls, bulletproof vests, and military vehicle armor.
Ritchie and his team are still working to perfect the new ceramic that is based on the natural mother-of-pearl structure. He noted that in nature, the ceramic has structures that are “smaller and closer together,” qualities that the team hopes to mimic in newer versions of their ceramic. The researchers are optimistically hopeful that they can come even closer to designing a ceramic that can be mass-produced, and that combines the strength and toughness of the natural material.
While the discovery of a new, efficient ceramic is interesting, it pales to insignificance in light of the necessary implication that should be drawn from such a discovery. If brilliant scientists have only recently discovered this technological wonder of the natural world, and they cannot mimic the structure as effectively as nature constructs it, then it must be admitted by the honest observer that nature’s Designer possesses superior mental abilities to those of the scientists. And yet, as clear and straightforward as this implication is, millions of people will utilize technology based on God’s original designs, but claim that random, chance processes of evolution should be given the credit.
In the Old Testament book of Job, the Bible records one of the most interesting verbal exchanges in all of human history (chapters 38-42). Job wanted an answer from God about why he was suffering. God spoke to Job with a series of questions that Job could not possibly answer. God asked where was Job when God hung the foundation of the world on nothing (38:4)? Could Job command the morning to occur or cause the dawn to break (38:12)? Could Job count the clouds (38:37) or cause the hawk to fly (39:26)? After God’s intense questioning, Job realized that he could not begin to answer God’s questions, much less possess the power to accomplish the things that are necessary for the Universe to continue to exist. Job responded to God by saying: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.... Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know” (42:2-3, emp. added). We in the 21st century would do well to learn from Job’s wise response. The fact that we are just now scratching the surface of the technology found in a “simple” abalone shell should force us to humble ourselves and worship nature’s divine Designer.
Christians and the Theory of Evolution
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
It is not uncommon to hear Christians in the 21st century claim to believe in evolution. I have read, corresponded with, and met many people in the past decade who professed to believe both in the inspiration of the Bible and in many aspects of macroevolution. Some claim that the multi-billion-year Big Bang theory is valid, but that God played a part in it. Others assert that the Earth’s layers represent hundreds of millions of years of time, and that the fossils found therein are many millions of years old. Some “Christians” even think that God made man from monkey-like creatures. They believe that humans evolved from lower life forms, while God supposedly directed the process.
I am continually baffled by such claims from alleged Christians for three different reasons. First, as we have addressed many times in the past, the Bible clearly teaches that the Earth is only five days older than man, and even atheistic evolutionists do not believe that man has been on Earth for billions of years (cf. Lyons, 2006). Christians can choose to believe the multi-billion-year evolutionary time scale, which claims that people evolved approximately 13.996 billion years after the beginning of the Universe, or they can believe what Jesus and Paul taught—that man has been on Earth since the foundation of the world (Luke 11:49-51; Mark 10:6; Romans 1:20). You cannot logically or scripturally believe both views.
Second, macroevolution has never been proven. Many Christians have accepted evolution even though the entire theory is based upon assumptions. Evolutionists assume that because there are certain similarities between humans and animals, humans must have evolved from animals. In truth, however, these similarities prove no such thing. (They more accurately point to a common Creator Who made living creatures with many similarities because we live on the same planet, breathe the same air, eat the same kinds of food, drink the same water, etc.). Furthermore, neither geology nor paleontology proves macroevolution. All methods of dating rocks are based upon built-in assumptions (see Riddle, 2007). Evolutionary geologists and paleontologists have not “proven” that the layers of the Earth and the fossils in the Earth are millions of years old, they merely assume that the assumption-based dating methods are accurate. Moreover, there are no evolutionary family trees in the fossil record, but only evolutionists’ interpretations of the fossils. Simply put, macroevolution has never been observed or confirmed.
Finally, many Christians seem willing to defend evolution more blindly than some atheistic evolutionists. For example, even though many professed Christians have swallowed Big Bang Theory hook, line, and sinker (e.g., a senior biology major at a Christian University once informed me that all of her science professors “believe in the validity of the Big Bang”), some of the world’s most decorated evolutionary astrophysicists freely admit that “we are still as confused as ever about how the universe began” (Coles, 193:37). In short, while Big Bang Theory is falling on hard times within some atheistic evolutionary circles (cf. Brooks, 2008, 198:31; Coles, 2007, 193:33-37), it is still propagated among some “Bible believers” as factual. Unbelievable! “Christian” evolutionists are even known to accept alleged “missing links” as proof of human evolution. Another Christian college student once told me about one professor’s espousal of the idea that “Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis) was likely one of our hairy, half-human, half-ape ancestors who lived a few million years ago. In truth, the idea of Lucy being our ancestor has been known for years to be riddled with problems, which even some atheistic evolutionists have acknowledged (see Harrub and Thompson, 2003, pp. 41-57).
Sadly, many professed Christians have bought into Darwin’s damnable doctrines despite (1) it never being proven, (2) notable atheistic evolutionists having doubts about, and problems with, many aspects of evolution, and (3) Scripture clearly teaching that the Earth is relatively young and not billions of years old. Scripture and science do not disagree with each other, but God’s Word and the General Theory of Evolution do. May God help His people stop kowtowing to evolutionary scientific elitism and start accepting God at His Word.
Coles, Peter (2007), “Boomtime,” New Scientist, 193:33-37, March 3.
Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2003), The Truth About Human Origins (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric (2006), “Man Has Been on Earth Since...,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3068.
Riddle, Mike (2007), “Does Radiometric Dating Prove the Earth is Old?” [On-line], URL: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/does-radiometric-dating-prove.
Female Leadership and the Church
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Amid the polarization that plagues American civilization in general, and Christendom in particular, one chasm continues to widen between those who, on the one hand, wish to conform to Bible protocol, and those who, on the other, wish to modernize, update, adjust, and adapt Scripture to a changing society. The cry of those who are pressing the feminist agenda is that the church in the past has restricted women in roles of leadership and worship simply because of culture and flawed hermeneutical principles. They say that the church as we know it is the product of a male-dominated society and that consequently it has misconstrued the contextual meaning of the relevant biblical passages.
As attitudes soften and biblical conviction weakens, Scripture is being reinterpreted to allow for expanded roles for women in worship. If one who studies the biblical text concludes that women are not to be restricted in worship, he is hailed as one who engages in “fresh, scholarly exegesis.” But the one who studies the text and concludes that God intended for women to be subordinate to male leadership in worship is viewed as being guilty of prejudice and of being unduly influenced by “church tradition” or “cultural baggage.” How is it that the former’s religious practice and interpretation of Scripture is somehow curiously exempt from imbibing the spirit of an age in which feminist ideology has permeated virtually every segment of our society?
RELEVANT BIBLE PASSAGES
1 Corinthians 11,14Chapters eleven and fourteen of First Corinthians constitute a context dealing with disorders in the worship assembly. The entire pericope of 11:2-14:40 concerns the worship assembly, i.e., “when you come together” (cf. 11:17,18,20,33; 14:23-26). Paul articulated the transcultural principle for all people throughout history in 11:3—“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” “Head” clearly refers not to “source” but to “authority” (see Grudem, 1985, pp. 38-59). Therefore, God intends for women to be subordinate to men in worship. Corinthian women were obviously removing their veils and stepping forward in the assembly to lead with their Spirit-imparted, miraculous capabilities, i.e., prophecy (12:10; 14:31) and prayer (14:14-15). Such activity was a direct violation of the subordination principle, articulated by Paul in chapter fourteen. In chapter eleven, he focused on the propriety of females removing the cultural symbol of submission.
The women were removing their veils because they understood that to stand and exercise a spiritual gift in the assembly was an authoritative act of leadership. To wear a symbol of submission to authority (the veil) while simultaneously conducting oneself in an authoritative fashion (to lead in worship) was self-contradictory. Paul’s insistence that women keep their veils on during the worship assembly amounted to an implicit directive to refrain from leading in the assembly—a directive stated explicitly in 14:34. The allusions to Creation law (11:7-9; cf. 14:34) underscore the fact that Paul saw the restrictions on women as rooted in the created order—not in culture. Also, Paul made clear that such restrictions applied equally to all churches of Christ (11:16).
In chapter fourteen, Paul addressed further the confusion over spiritual gifts, and returned specifically to the participation of women in the exercise of those gifts in the assembly. He again emphasized the universal practice of churches of Christ: “as in all churches of the saints” (14:33). [NOTE: Grammatically, the phrase “as in all churches of the saints” links with “let your women keep silence”; cf. the ASV, RSV, NIV, NEB, NAB, etc.] The women who possessed miraculous gifts were not to exercise them in the mixed worship assembly of the church. To do so was disgraceful—“a shame” (14:35). To insist upon doing so was equivalent to: (1) presuming to be the authors of God’s Word; and (2) assuming that God’s standards do not apply to everyone (14:36).
Granted, 1 Corinthians chapters eleven and fourteen address a unique situation. After all, spiritual gifts no longer are available to the church (1 Corinthians 13:8-11; see Miller, 2003), and veils, in Western society, no longer represent a cultural symbol of female submission. Nevertheless, both passages demonstrate the clear application of the transcultural principle (female subordination in worship) to a specific cultural circumstance. The underlying submission principle remains intact as an inbuilt constituent element of the created order.
1 Timothy 2: The Central Scripture
I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control (1 Timothy 2:8-15).The premier passage in the New Testament that treats the role of women in worship is 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The remote context of the book is: proper behavior in the life of the church (1 Timothy 3:15). The immediate context of chapter two is worship, specifically prayer (1 Timothy 2:1,8). The context does not limit the worship to the church assembly, but includes the general life of the church.
Paul affirmed that adult males (andras) are to lead prayers anywhere people meet for worship. “Lifting up holy hands” is a figure of speech—a metonymy—in which a posture of prayer is put in place of prayer itself. Their prayers are to usher forth out of holy lives. On the other hand, women are admonished to focus upon appropriate apparel and a submissive attitude. Notice the contrast set up in the passage: Men need to be holy, spiritual leaders in worship while women need to be modest and unassuming. “Silence” and “subjection” in this passage relate specifically to the exercise of spiritual authority over adult males in the church. “Usurp” (KJV) is not in the original text. Authentein should be translated “to have authority.” Thus Paul instructed women not to teach nor in any other way to have authority over men in worship.
Why would an inspired apostle place such limitations on Christian women? Was his concern prompted by the culture of that day? Was Paul merely accommodating an unenlightened, hostile environment—stalling for time and keeping prejudice to a minimum—until he could teach them the Gospel? Absolutely not! The Holy Spirit gave the reason for the limitations—a reason that transcends all culture and all locales. Paul stated that women are not to exercise spiritual authority over men because Adam was created before Eve. Here, we are given the heart and core of God’s will concerning how men and women are to function and interrelate.
Paul was saying that God’s original design for the human race entailed the creation of the male first as an indication of his responsibility to be the spiritual leader of the home. He was created to function as the head or leader in the home and in the church. That is his functional purpose. Woman, on the other hand, was specifically designed and created for the purpose of being a subordinate (though certainly not inferior) assistant. God could have created the woman first—but He did not. He could have created both male and female simultaneously—but He did not. His action was intended to convey His will with regard to gender as it relates to the interrelationship of man and woman.
This feature of Creation explains why God gave spiritual teaching to Adam before Eve was created, implying that Adam had the created responsibility to teach his wife (Genesis 2:15-17). It explains why the female is twice stated to have been created as a “help meet for him,” i.e., a helper suitable for the man (Genesis 2:18,20, emp. added). This explains why the Genesis text clearly indicates that, in a unique sense, the woman was created for the man—not vice versa. It explains why God brought the woman “to the man” (Genesis 2:22), again, as if she was made “for him”—not vice versa. Adam confirmed this understanding by stating, “the woman whom You gave to be with me” (Genesis 3:12, emp. added). It explains why Paul argued on the basis of this very distinction: “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” (1 Corinthians 11:9, emp. added). It further clarifies the implied authority of the man over the women in his act of naming the woman (Genesis 2:23; 3:20). The Jews understood this divinely designed order, evinced through the practice of primogeniture—the prominence of the firstborn male. God’s creation of the man first was specifically intended to communicate the authority/submission order of the human race (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:8).
Observe that Paul next elaborated upon this principle in 1 Timothy 2:14 by noting an example of what can happen when men and women tamper with God’s original intentions. When Eve took the spiritual initiative above her husband, and Adam failed to take the lead and exercise spiritual authority over his wife, Satan was able to wreak havoc on the home and cause the introduction of sin into the world (Genesis 3). When Paul said the woman was deceived, he was not suggesting that women are more gullible than men. Rather, when men or women fail to confine themselves to their created function, but instead tamper with, and act in violation of, divinely intended roles, spiritual vulnerability to sin naturally follows.
God’s appraisal of the matter was seen when He confronted the pair. He spoke first to the head of the home—the man (Genesis 3:9). His subsequent declaration to Eve reaffirmed the fact that she was not to yield to the inclination to take the lead in spiritual matters. Rather, she was to submit to the rule of her husband (Genesis 3:16; cf. 4:4). When God said to Adam, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife...” (Genesis 3:17), He was calling attention to the fact that Adam had failed to exercise spiritual leadership and thereby circumvented the divine arrangement of male/female relations.
Paul concluded his instructions by noting how women may be preserved from falling into the same trap of assuming unauthorized authority: “She will be saved in childbearing” (1 Timothy 2:15). “Childbearing” is the figure of speech known as synecdoche, in which a part stands for the whole. Thus, Paul was referring to the whole of female responsibility. Women may avoid taking to themselves illicit functions by concentrating on the functions assigned to them by God—tasks undertaken with faith, love, and holiness in sobriety (i.e., self-control).
Some argue that this text applies to husbands and wives, rather than to men and women in general. However, the context of 1 Timothy is not the home, but the church (1 Timothy 3:15). Likewise, the use of the plural with the absence of the article in 2:9 and 2:11, suggests women in general. Nothing in the context would cause one to conclude that Paul was referring only to husbands and wives. Besides, would Paul restrict wives from leadership roles in the church but then permit single women to lead?
The term is used in the New Testament in two senses. First, it is used as a technical term for a formal office in the church to which one may be appointed by meeting certain qualifications. Second, it is used as a non-technical term for the informal activity of serving or attending to. Additional words in the New Testament that have both a technical and non-technical meaning include “apostle,” “elder,” and “shepherd.” To be rational in one’s analysis of a matter, one must draw only those conclusions that are warranted by the evidence. In the matter of deaconesses, one should only conclude that a deaconess is being referred to when the context plainly shows the office itself is under consideration.
In Romans 13:4, the civil government is said to be God’s deacon. In Romans 15:8, Christ is said to be a deacon of the Jews. In 2 Corinthians 3:6 and 6:4, Paul is said to be a deacon of the New Covenant and a deacon of God. Apollos is listed with Paul as a deacon in 1 Corinthians 3:5. Obviously, these are all non-technical uses of the term referring to the service or assistance being rendered.
Nothing in the context of Romans 16:1 warrants the conclusion that Paul was describing Phoebe as an official appointee—a deaconess. Paul’s phrase, “our sister,” designates her church membership, and “servant” specifies the special efforts she extended to the church in Cenchrea where she was an active, caring member. Being a “servant of the church” no more implies a formal appointee than does the expression in Colossians 1:25 where Paul is said to be the church’s servant.
Some have insisted that the term in Romans 16:2, translated “help,” implies a technical usage. It is true that prostatis can mean a helper in the sense of presiding with authority. But this word carries the same inbuilt obscurity that diakonos does, in that it has a formal and informal sense. But since the verse explicitly states that Phoebe was a “helper” to Paul, the non-technical usage must be in view. She would not have exercised authority over Paul. Even his fellow apostles did not do that, since he exercised high authority direct from the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37-38; Galatians 1:6-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:14). Only Christ wielded authority over Paul.
Romans 16:2 actually employs a play on words. Paul told the Corinthians to “help” (paristemi) Phoebe since she has been a “help” (prostatis) to many, including Paul himself. While the masculine noun prostates can mean “leader,” the actual feminine noun prostatis means “protectress, patroness, helper” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 718). Paul was saying, “Help Phoebe as she has helped others and me.” She had been a concerned, generous, hospitable, dedicated contributor to the Lord’s work. Paul was paying her a tremendous tribute and expressing publicly the honor due her. But he was not acknowledging her as an office holder in the church.
The second passage to which some have appealed in order to find sanction for deaconesses in the church is 1 Timothy 3:11. In the midst of a listing of the qualifications of deacons, Paul referred to women. What women? Was Paul referring to the wives of the church officers, or was he referring to female appointees, i.e., deaconesses? Once again, the underlying Greek term is of no help in answering this question since gunaikas (from gune) also has both a technical and non-technical sense. It can mean a “wife” or simply a “female” or “woman.” It is used both ways in 1 Timothy—as “female” (2:9-12,14) and as “wife” (3:2,12; 5:9).
Five contextual observations, however, provide assistance in ascertaining the meaning of the passage. First, a woman cannot be “the husband of one wife” (3:12). Second, in speaking of male deacons from 3:8-13, it would be unusual for Paul to switch, in the middle of the discussion, to female deacons for a single verse without some clarification. Third, referring to the wives of church officers would be appropriate since family conduct is a qualifying concern (3:2,4-5,12). Fourth, “likewise” (3:11) could mean simply that wives are to have similar virtues as the deacons without implying they share the same office (cf. 1 Timothy 5:25; Titus 2:3). Fifth, lack of the possessive genitive with gunaikas (“of deacons”) or “their” does not rule out wives of deacons, since neither is used in other cases where men/women are being described as wives/husbands (Colossians 3:18-19; Ephesians 5:22-25; 1 Corinthians 7:2-4,11,14,33; Matthew 18:25; Mark 10:2).
Insufficient textual evidence exists to warrant the conclusion that the office of deaconess is referred to in the New Testament. Outside the New Testament, Pliny, Governor of Bythynia, wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan about A.D. 110 referring in Latin to two ministrae. This term has the same ambiguity within it that diakonos has. He could have been referring to official appointees, or he just as easily could have been referring simply to servants. In any case, a passing reference by an uninformed non-Christian is hardly trustworthy evidence. Christian historical sources from this same period do not refer to the existence of female appointees even though they do discuss church organization (Lewis, 1988, p. 108).
Not until the late third century in the Syrian Didascalia do we find a reference to deaconesses. Their work consisted of assisting at the baptism of women, going into homes of heathens where believing women lived, and visiting the sick (ministering to them and bathing them). A full-blown church order of deaconesses does not appear until the fourth/fifth centuries. Again, their responsibilities consisted of keeping the doors, aiding in female baptisms, and doing other work with women (Lewis, pp. 108-109). Those within the church today who are pressing for deaconesses and expanded roles for women, hardly would be content with such tasks.
Even if women were deacons in the New Testament church, they would not have functioned in any sort of leadership or authority position over men. They were not to be appointed as elders. If Acts 6:1-5 refers to the appointment of deacons (the verb form is used) in the Jerusalem church (Woods, 1986, p. 199), they were all males, and their specific task entailed distribution of physical assistance to widows.
The evidence is simply lacking. The existence of a female deaconate within the New Testament cannot be demonstrated. Those who insist upon establishing such an office, do so without the authority of the Scriptures behind them.
A final word needs to be said concerning the fact that both men and women must remember that Bible teaching on difference in role in no way implies a difference in worth, value, or ability. Galatians 3:28 (“neither male nor female”), 1 Timothy 2:15 (“she shall be saved”), and 1 Peter 3:7 (“heirs together of the grace of life”) all show that males and females are equals as far as their person and salvation status is concerned. Women often are superior to men in talent, intellect, and ability. Women are not inferior to men, anymore than Christ is inferior to God, citizens are inferior to the President, or church members are inferior to elders. The role of women in the church is not a matter of control, power, or oppression. It is a matter of submission on the part of all human beings to the will of God. It is a matter of willingness on the part of God’s creatures, male and female, to subordinate themselves to the divine arrangement regarding the sexes. The biblical differentiation is purely a matter of function, assigned tasks, and sphere of responsibility. The question for us is: “How willing are we to fit ourselves into God’s arrangement?”
If the Bible authorized it, no man should have any personal aversion to women having complete access to leadership roles in the church. Indeed, many talented, godly women possess abilities and talents that would enable them to surpass many of the male worship leaders functioning in the church today. However, the Bible stands as an unalterable, eternal declaration of God’s will on the matter. By those words, we will be judged (John 12:48). May we all bow humbly and submissively before the God of heaven.
Grudem, Wayne (1985), “Does kephale (‘head’) Mean ‘Source’ or ‘Authority over’ in Greek Literature? A Survey of 2,336 Examples,” Trinity Journal, 6 NS, 38-59.
Lewis, Jack (1988), Exegesis of Difficult Passages (Searcy, AR: Resource Publications).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2569.
Osburn, Carroll, ed. (1993), Essays On Women in Earliest Christianity (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Osburn, Carroll (1994), Women in the Church (Abilene, TX: Restoration Perspectives).
Woods, Guy N. (1986), Questions and Answers: Volume Two (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Torah and ageless moral goodnessI'm one of the countless who believe that salvation and life with God begins with, is nourished and completed by the sheer grace of God. Any aspects of Pelagianism or Arminianism that promote notions of self-salvation should be decisively rejected.
I'm also one of many who thinks that evangelicals tend to undermine the ethical element in God's redeeming and blessing activity. There's too much talk about "God's free forgiveness" (there isn't too much of "God's free forgiveness," just too much talk about it) and too little about the character of the life God brings and means to bring. The bottom line with God is life and not simply forgiveness when we sin or a pain-free post-mortem existence; it's life together with God and one another he has in mind; life that is lived in the image of God; life that is characterized in us by a love of truth, joy, goodness, kindness and holiness.
Moral richness and uprightness isn't something tacked on to life with God it's a constituent element of life itself.
I for one am desperately in need of that and feel in my bones that an unceasing diet of "sugar" has hurt me. Self-righteous and hard-hearted moralists haven't helped me either, but I'm sure that a more balanced message down the years about God's holistic work of blessing and redemption would have resulted in my being a better man than I am today.
F.W. Robertson was on target when he said, "The sacrifice of Christ does not alter God's Will: it does not make sin a trifle: it does not make it safer to commit offenses. It does not abrogate, but declares God's law." I think the "Sermon on the Mount" will support that view.
The Sermon on the Mount can and should be read at several levels. There is Christ sitting on a mountainside instructing his followers. The thought of mount Sinai with its Torah (instruction, law, guidance, profiling of God's people) is probably in the background. And so is mount Gerizim with its "blesseds" (see Deuteronomy 11:29 with 28:1-14). The Master profiles the people of God in new (but not unknown) terms and pronounces blessings on them that stand in contrast to the blessings that rang out from Gerizim.
His followers are made distinct from the crowds (5:1) as Israel was made distinct from the crowd of nations that also belonged to God (Exodus 19:5). As Israel was to be a kingdom of priests (thus serving God by serving the nations) so the followers of Christ were the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13,14). Their response to God and their good deeds were to have a salutary effect on the world and bring their Father glory (5:13-16) so that the world might be blessed.
Who they were and how they were to live their lives out before God was of critical importance. The Torah was not being abolished nor was its goal to be jettisoned. (Compare Matthew 23:2.)
Whatever else it might include, Matthew 5:17-20 dealt with ethical response and Jesus said he hadn't come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. In a later discussion dealing with ethical response the Master again made use of the "law and the prophets" phrase when he insisted that loving God and our neighbor as ourselves was the core of "the torah" and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).
The Master had no intention of undermining the moral foundations of life with God; he uncovered them rather than burying them (as his, "But I say unto you..." in Matthew 5:21-48 indicates). The Master nowhere gives the impression that life with God is without ethical and moral content, or is the result of some mechanical transfer of our sins to Christ's personal credit and the transfer of Christ's personal righteousness to our own credit. Because God's holy grace could have it no other way, there is no life between him and sinners unless homage is paid to his holiness and righteousness. There can no no fellowship between light and darkness and no agreement between Christ and Belial. This means there can be, in fact, no reconciliation between a human and God if that human will not acknowledge what the cross insists on. Those who have life with God in Jesus Christ are those who pay homage to the righteousness and holiness of God manifested in Jesus Christ. They pay homage to that cross-work by entering into union with the now-living Christ.
Atonement theories and stresses which minimize or hide the Bible's full-blooded call for that homage are not helpful. So seriously did Christ take the moral authority of the Torah that he had stern things to say of those who minimize "even the least" of it's commands (5:19). Rather than set the cross of Christ against the Torah's moral authority we ought to be fully aware that the cross highlights it. All this he said to his own disciples.
The moral content of the Jewish Torah was the furthering of God's agenda in Genesis 18:19 (see below) which means moral transformation is part and parcel of the redeeming process rather than merely some grateful response to what God had already completed.
The Torah & God's Ethical Agenda
In G.K. Chesterton's "Father Brown" story The Blue Cross, the priest-detective is talking to Flambeau, a famous thief, who is pretending to be a fellow-priest because he means to steal the silver cross with the blue sapphire which Father Brown has in his care. They're sitting on an old wooden bench on a lonely heath. The sun is just disappearing and the starlit sky is bathed in the blue and green of evening while they debate about reason and the nature of things. The sham priest thinks there might be other worlds where reason and truth are not as reason and truth are in this world, but Brown insists that truth is always truth and concludes with this: "Reason and justice grip the remotest and loneliest star. Look at those stars. Don't they look as if they were single diamonds and sapphires? Well you can imagine any mad botany or geology you please. Think of forests of adamant with leaves of brilliants. Think the moon is a blue moon, a single elephantine sapphire. But don't fancy that all that frantic astronomy would make the slightest difference to the reason and justice of conduct. On plains of opal, under cliffs cut out of pearl, you would still find a notice-board, 'Thou shalt not steal.' "
I'd like to make the point that what the Torah was after, what all "moral law" is and was after, remains the same--the alignment of the heart with God. It doesn't matter if we're nomads living in tents or ancient Scythians living in wagons; it doesn't matter if we live in rain-forests or an artic wilderness, whether we're 21st century moderns or 6,000 B.C. dwellers on the Tiber--what is grand in living, what we call "real life" has always been and will continue to be the same. Of course it will be fleshed out differently in each individual but it will still be recognizable as the will of the one God for the one human family. We still recognize moral grandeur as the true greatness, as distinct from political, economic or military greatness. We allow the term "great" to the applied to Herod or Alexander or Cyrus but we know we're using it in a seriously limited way.
The truths of moral goodness didn't begin with the Mosaic covenant and they didn't end with it. Whatever the newness or peculiarities of the Mosaic covenant, it's ethical thrust was simply furthering God's ethical goals of earlier days and it does the same to this day.
In a passage that is rich in theological content we hear what God had in mind for Israel's future. "Then the Lord said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.' " (Genesis 18:17-19)
The prime mover in the text, of course, is God. It is what he is about to do. It is God who has chosen Abraham, it is God who has promised and will bring about what he has promised. To deny that is to violate the very words of the text.
But Abraham himself is involved in the fulfillment of the world-wide blessing. God's doing requires from Abraham a creative response. Abraham has been chosen by God "so that" he will direct his descendants "to keep the way of the Lord". There is an ethical element in the purposes of God. That "way of the Lord" is seen in Abraham's children "doing what is right and just". And that is where the Torah comes in. What we see at Sinai is no brand new ethical program; it is the "way of the Lord" being fleshed out in the doing of righeousness and justice.
This text connects that keeping of "the way of the Lord" in righteousness and justice with God's fulfilling his purpose of universal blessing and salvation. The first "so that" relates to God's choice of Abraham ("so that he will direct his children...") and the closing "so that" relates to the fulfillment of what God promised Abraham (multitudes of descendants in world-wide salvation). Other texts look in other directions but this text says God chose Abraham so that he will shape the ethical life of his descendants in righteousness so that world redemption will be brought about.
The life that God's offers humans is a relationship with himself --no relationship, no life. Because God is who and what he is that life cannot be one in which darkness is loved and cherished and light is despised. God doesn't say, "I will give you life with me as a reward if you will only live uprightly." As if to say one is to some degree distinct from the other. Light can't have fellowship with darkness, Christ and Belial cannot live in union. There can be no life with God unless the heart is willing to pay homage to the righteousness which is in God.
This is what "moral law" has always been about. At it's highest and richest, to live morally is to live in the image of God and that's what the Torah was about. What is true in the Torah was true before the Torah came along and is true to this moment.
It's no surprise then to hear Christ affirm the continuing validity of the Torah (and the exposition of it given by the prophets). Nor does it surprise us to hear the whole New Testament corpus use the Torah to call Christians to live morally upright. New Testament writers followed their Master in this.
Paul had been accused of undermining the moral aspect of life by his preaching of justification by faith in Jesus Christ (note Romans 3:8; 6:1). He strenuously denies this and insists that his teaching upholds the Torah (Romans 3:31) and brings about the "righteous requirement" (NJKV) of the Torah (Romans 8:4). He insisted that the ethical thrust embodied in the Torah was of central importance to Christians. Notice this in Romans 13:8-10.
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love on another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." Note the reason he gives for the continued debt to love each other, for he who loves...has fulfilled the Torah. What has this for to do with Christians? Love one another because that's how you fulfill the Torah, he teaches. Why should they be concerned about fulfilling the Torah? Obviously it must have moral authority to which Christians are to submit themselves. Paul would have thought us more than a little naive if we had said to him, "Since Gentiles aren't under the law of Moses, you can't connect them with the Jewish Torah in this way."
If we should say that "law" in this text doesn't have the Old Testament Torah in mind, but has some general moral law in view, we'd need to pay attention to 13:9, where Paul quotes three commandments directly from the Decalogue, and as a summary, Leviticus 19:18.
I think it's important for reasons I'll make clear later that we allow the "law" throughout Romans to be the Jewish Torah, but at this point it doesn't really matter since Paul has earlier insisted (Romans 2:14-15, 26) that true morality is the same whether in the form of the Jewish covenantal Torah or not. Some Gentiles who didn't, of course, have the Torah were doing the works of Torah and even had the things of the Torah "written on their hearts."
This means that when Paul quotes the Jewish Torah he is quoting something that is relevant to the entire human family. Of course the Torah had a covenantal form and that covenant was made with no people but Israel,but that's not the same as saying the moral truth inscribed in the Torah was relevant only to Israel. The New Testament use of this moral truth shows that it speaks to us all. Even in the prophets, when the nations are addressed (see sections in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and places in Daniel), the moral teaching of the Torah is laid on them. We have abundant teaching in Genesis that moral truth written into the Torah was known and binding long before Sinai.
The book of James (written to both Christian and non-Christian Jews) is saturated with the moral truths of the Torah; and it insists that a man can't pick his way through the Torah's moral authority, obeying what he likes and ignoring the rest. That, says James (2:8-11), would be to make yourself a judge over the whole moral law (he quotes from the Jewish Torah). Peter writes to Jewish Christians ("the Diaspora" in numerous provinces) and opens this ethical call with Leviticus (see 1:16) and supplements it from Old Testament writings as he moves on through the book.
Let me repeat, the moral content of the Jewish Torah was the furthering of God's agenda in Genesis 18:19. That agenda had as part of the saving work of God the moral shaping and transforming of Abraham's decendants into God's image . If that's true, it means that the Torah was not a moral code that stood over against people as an obstacle.
God's ethical agenda was the creation of a redeemed people. Whom he foreknew he foreordained to be "conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:29). Restoring them to the image of God was part of the saving process. To have people reconciled to God at that moment back at the cross misses the point. It has people at-one with God whose hearts are not realigned with God. It's to make reconciliation something bank clerks do when they transfer one column of figures over to another. The grace of God that saves comes transforming, initially and continuously (Titus 2:11-15).
Life With God As An Alignment of the Heart
To remove the moral and ethical element from life with God as if it were something added on, something expected "now that we have life" is to miss the nature of life. To make it merely a "condition" to be met so that we might have life is to miss the point from another end. Of course it's legitimate to say that moral uprightness is to be expected in response to God's gift of life and it's correct to say, "If you don't pursue holiness you won't see God." But to say these things as if they were the whole story leaves out too much truth.
To "know" God is eternal life. To have our hearts in tune with God's heart is life and not merely a response to it or a condition to be met to get it. To be at-one with God, to be related to him is to live. Not to love, not to be reidentified with God is not to live. It is to be away from home.
As Luke 15 tells it, the prodigal son is "dead" and "lost". This is not only his own view, we're expressly told that it is his father's view. The boy's later penitence in no way generated or earned the grace in the father's heart, in fact, it was the memory of the father and his grace that led him to "come to himself." It nevertheless remains true that the boy was dead and lost until his heart was realigned with his father. The return to the father was not simply a "condition to be met" if he wanted life nor was it the appropriate response to life already restored. Though these are truths they miss the point that life is relationship, life is reconciliation with his father. To be reconciled to his father is not simply the way to life, it is life. To have one heart with the father is to be at-one with him, it is to be at home with him, it is to be received by him and to receive him.
To "return" to the father doesn't make the father gracious, he is that while the prodigal is wallowing in selfish stupidity. To return to the father, to be reidentified with him, changes the father's judgment of the child. The always gracious father insisted that the boy was dead but is now alive; he was lost but now is found. And this is true, not simply because the son "met the condition" for life, but because life is to be with the father. There is no life without being with the father and there is no being with the father unless the heart is realigned with the father!
If the boy had returned with a swagger, heart as vicious, inwardly as hostile as ever--had he done that he wouldn't have been home. He would just have moved the location of his pig-pen. He comes home in holy penitence and life begins for him not simply because he is now behaving appropriately but because there is no life without being at-one with the father and moral realignment is part of what it means to be at-one with the father.
The Torah's Place in Spiritual Realigment with the Holy Father
Any man who thinks he has merited life with God is a fool! Any man who doesn't know that life with God is a gift of sheer grace and mercy is completely blind and has been robbed of true peace. Anyone who thinks his obedience somehow makes God his debtor or makes it easier for God to save him rather than some other knows nothing of the grandeur of the gospel. The ground of all our hope is the free, gracious, creative and redemptive work of God done on our behalf, culminating in his coming as Jesus Christ to live, die and live again. All of this I hold to be true.
Not a bit of it comes into conflict with this truth: our spiritual realignment with God is an aspect of his redeeming work and it is experienced in us and not apart from us.
Life is being related to God. It is a dynamic, continuing relationship. It is a relationship which can't exist if our hearts are aligned with Belial rather than Christ. This relationship is more than a single moment's decision--it is a life together with God. And that life is sustained and enriched by God's gift of grace, the law of God.
In Luke 10:25-37 an expert in the Torah came to Christ asking him, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
The Master's response was, "What is written in the Torah? How do you read it?"
The teacher responds by joining Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 and the Lord says to him, "You have answered correctly. Do this and live."
The man wanted to know what he "must do" to inherit eternal life but it apparently never entered his mind that in loving God and his neighbour he would "earn" eternal life. He didn't see "doing" as part of some mathematical scheme good deeds out-weighing bad deeds=eternal life. And he wasn't alone in this.
It seems like everyone in the Bible thought there was something to "do" in order to be saved or gain eternal life. This is especially clear in Luke's writings. In 3:10-14 the people come asking John what they should "do"? In Acts 2:37 people wanted to know what they must "do". Saul wanted to know what he must "do" and the risen Christ told him he would be told what to "do". The angel told Cornelius that he would be told what he must "do" and the man repeats that to Peter. The Philippian jailer wants to know what he must "do" and the rich young ruler comes to Christ, wanting to know what he must "do". And whoever responded to such a question, whether it was the Master or an authorized representative, refused to treat it as implying a "meritorious works" mind set.
When the teacher of Torah asked what he had to "do" he didn't get a sermon saying, "Now, that's your first mistake. You can't 'do' anything to inherit eternal life. That's part of the trouble with you Torah people, you're always going on about 'doing'."
Not at all! The Christ asks him what the Torah taught he must do and the man gave the correct answer. The Master didn't contradict him; he confirmed the man's answer and insisted, "Do this and you will live." It's important that people receive assurance about their salvation with God but the way to give them assurance is not to deny their need to respond to God. They must be taught that they do not save themselves but the way to do that is not to teach them that obedience is in no way related to that salvation. They most certainly do have to obey him!
Christ does not deny that the man can inherit life with God through obedience to the Torah he insists that loving obedience that accords with the Torah is the way to life (10:28, note also 10:37b).
Had the man said, "Eternal life is a gift of God and I need not do anything to inherit it true or false?" Christ would have said it was false. Had the man come saying, "I know I have to 'do enough' to make God gracious toward me and to inherit eternal life and I'm wondering what that involves?" Christ might well have taken the time to instruct him that all the obedience in the world would still leave him an unprofitable servant and in need of grace to cover his sins.
When a rich young man came asking what he had to do to get eternal life, the Christ said (Matthew 19:17), "...if you want to enter life, obey the commandments." We can speak all the truth we wish about salvation and life rising out of the sheer grace of God but we mustn't speak as if Jesus himself were ignorant of the truth we know. All the teaching of grace and God's redemptive work in Christ changes nothing of what Christ said about obeying the commandments if you want to enter life. If this young man is excluded from eternal life it is because he will not follow the Torah.
I've been assured more than once down the years that Christ was simply going along with the young man's legalism for a while in order to convict him from another angle. The story was that Christ was thinking something like, "This young man thinks he merits life by good works. The truth is, it's impossible to enter life by keeping the commandments, but I'm going to speak as if it's possible." At which point he says, "...if you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
But all of this is needless conjecture generated by certain theological perspectives. Talk about "doing enough" to have life or "earning" life is what we bring to the text; it doesn't appear to be in it. Jesus Christ believed that in the absence of obedience to God there could be no life. Nobody knew better than he that humans had life with God because of the sheer grace and generosity of the holy Father. Nevertheless, he still insists that this young man keep the Torah. "...if you want to enter life, obey the commandments." (Compare Matthew 23:2.)
But that business about "keeping the Torah" if you want life is what unsettles us. It keeps jarring us with the ring of "legalism". Well, maybe we need to allow the scriptures to shape our theology rather than have our theology to shape the biblical witness. I think I recognize that there will always be something circular about our understanding of scripture; it's nevertheless true that by God grace we need to keep our reasons in line with the obvious import of a mass of texts. A major contributor to our unease, I suspect, arises because we have misread Paul for a very long time. (More about that later.)
Briefly, then, how does the Torah fit in with the realignment of our souls with God? The Torah as we find it in the scriptures and not as some abstraction, ripped away from its biblical soil, rises out of God's saving grace; and is God's saving grace expressed in Torah form. The initial moment of rescue is not the end of the matter; it is only the beginning point of a relationship which is saving in nature. That relationship requires a heart that is reidentified with (the image of) God and that means it is a heart that pays homage to God's holiness and righteousness as reflected in the Torah.
To offset what is a plain insistence on human submission to God some make it all a matter of "trust" with obedience following when you already have life through trust. Not only is "trust" watered down to a mental concept, a theological way of seeing salvation, this approach ignores the mass of scriptures that explicitly use the word "obedience" (and synonyms) when speaking of human response to God's gracious and free gift of eternal life.
Not only is such a view of "trust" foreign to scripture (see Hebrews 11 as one long illustration of what trust entails), we New Testament people talk about "trust" as if originated in the New Testament. Just take a look at a concordance and see how unfounded this is. And see how the notion of trust occurs in critically important texts like Genesis 15:6; Isaiah 7:9; 8:17; 28:16.
Finally, obedience is not only "unto" life, it isn't only in response to life, it is life. Life is living in loyal love toward God and that's where the Torah comes in.
Expository Lectures on the Corinthians, Henry S. King & Co., London, 1876, page 156
I'm not suggesting here that obedience to moral law is a mechanical reproduction of some abstract moral concepts. Nor do I wish to suggest that "moral law" is some eternal, self-existing, independent-of-God, reality. God is the source and shape of all that we call morally grand. Without him it doesn't exist.
Chesterton: First published in 1911, published in 1950 by Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, pages 24-25
See R.W.L. Moberly's brief but really helpful discussion on "faith" in The Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, Volume 1:427-433, Paternoster Press, United Kingdom, 1997.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
The World English Bible
Est 4:1 Now when Mordecai found out all that was done, Mordecai tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and wailed loudly and a bitterly.
Est 4:2 He came even before the king's gate, for no one is allowed inside the king's gate clothed with sackcloth.
Est 4:3 In every province, wherever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
Est 4:4 Esther's maidens and her eunuchs came and told her this, and the queen was exceedingly grieved. She sent clothing to Mordecai, to replace his sackcloth; but he didn't receive it.
Est 4:5 Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs, whom he had appointed to attend her, and commanded him to go to Mordecai, to find out what this was, and why it was.
Est 4:6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai, to city square which was before the king's gate.
Est 4:7 Mordecai told him of all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the destruction of the Jews.
Est 4:8 He also gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given out in Shushan to destroy them, to show it to Esther, and to declare it to her, and to urge her to go in to the king, to make supplication to him, and to make request before him, for her people.
Est 4:9 Hathach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai.
Est 4:10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a message to Mordecai:
Est 4:11 "All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, know, that whoever, whether man or woman, comes to the king into the inner court without being called, there is one law for him, that he be put to death, except those to whom the king might hold out the golden scepter, that he may live. I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days."
Est 4:12 They told to Mordecai Esther's words.
Est 4:13 Then Mordecai asked them return answer to Esther, "Don't think to yourself that you will escape in the king's house any more than all the Jews.
Est 4:14 For if you remain silent now, then relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Who knows if you haven't come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Est 4:15 Then Esther asked them to answer Mordecai,
Est 4:16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day. I and my maidens will also fast the same way. Then I will go in to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish."
Est 4:17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
Est 5:1 Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal clothing, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, next to the king's house. The king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, next to the entrance of the house.
Est 5:2 When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther came near, and touched the top of the scepter.
Est 5:3 Then the king asked her, "What would you like, queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you even to the half of the kingdom."
Est 5:4 Esther said, "If it seems good to the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him."
Est 5:5 Then the king said, "Bring Haman quickly, so that it may be done as Esther has said." So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
Est 5:6 The king said to Esther at the banquet of wine, "What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request? Even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed."
Est 5:7 Then Esther answered and said, "My petition and my request is this.
Est 5:8 If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I will prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king has said."
Est 5:9 Then Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart, but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he didn't stand up nor move for him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai.
Est 5:10 Nevertheless Haman restrained himself, and went home. There, he sent and called for his friends and Zeresh his wife.
Est 5:11 Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, the multitude of his children, all the things in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king.
Est 5:12 Haman also said, "Yes, Esther the queen let no man come in with the king to the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow I am also invited by her together with the king.
Est 5:13 Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate."
Est 5:14 Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, "Let a gallows be made fifty cubits high, and in the morning speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on it. Then go in merrily with the king to the banquet." This pleased Haman, so he had the gallows made.
Est 6:1 On that night, the king couldn't sleep. He commanded the book of records of the chronicles to be brought, and they were read to the king.
Est 6:2 It was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who were doorkeepers, who had tried to lay hands on the King Ahasuerus.
Est 6:3 The king said, "What honor and dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?" Then the king's servants who attended him said, "Nothing has been done for him."
Est 6:4 The king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had come into the outer court of the king's house, to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
Est 6:5 The king's servants said to him, "Behold, Haman stands in the court." The king said, "Let him come in."
Est 6:6 So Haman came in. The king said to him, "What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?" Now Haman said in his heart, "Who would the king delight to honor more than myself?"
Est 6:7 Haman said to the king, "For the man whom the king delights to honor,
Est 6:8 let royal clothing be brought which the king uses to wear, and the horse that the king rides on, and on the head of which a crown royal is set.
Est 6:9 Let the clothing and the horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man whom the king delights to honor with them, and have him ride on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him, 'Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!' "
Est 6:10 Then the king said to Haman, "Hurry and take the clothing and the horse, as you have said, and do this for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Let nothing fail of all that you have spoken."
Est 6:11 Then Haman took the clothing and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and had him ride through the city square, and proclaimed before him, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!"
Est 6:12 Mordecai came back to the king's gate, but Haman hurried to his house, mourning and having his head covered.
Est 6:13 Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, "If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him, but you will surely fall before him."
Est 6:14 While they were yet talking with him, the king's eunuchs came, and hurried to bring Haman to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
Est 7:1 So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen.
Est 7:2 The king said again to Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, "What is your petition, queen Esther? It shall be granted you. What is your request? Even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed."
Est 7:3 Then Esther the queen answered, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request.
Est 7:4 For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondservants and bondmaids, I would have held my peace, although the adversary could not have compensated for the king's loss."
Est 7:5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen, "Who is he, and where is he who dared presume in his heart to do so?"
Est 7:6 Esther said, "An adversary and an enemy, even this wicked Haman!" Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.
Est 7:7 The king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden. Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.
Est 7:8 Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman had fallen on the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, "Will he even assault the queen in front of me in the house?" As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.
Est 7:9 Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were with the king said, "Behold, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman has made for Mordecai, who spoke good for the king, is standing at Haman's house." The king said, "Hang him on it!"
Est 7:10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.
Est 8:1 On that day, King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the Jews' enemy, to Esther the queen. Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was to her.
Est 8:2 The king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.
Est 8:3 Esther spoke yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and begged him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews.
Est 8:4 Then the king held out to Esther the golden scepter. So Esther arose, and stood before the king.
Est 8:5 She said, "If it pleases the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and the thing seem right to the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king's provinces.
Est 8:6 For how can I endure to see the evil that would come to my people? How can I endure to see the destruction of my relatives?"
Est 8:7 Then King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, "See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged on the gallows, because he laid his hand on the Jews.
Est 8:8 Write also to the Jews, as it pleases you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring; for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may not be reversed by any man."
Est 8:9 Then the king's scribes were called at that time, in the third month Sivan, on the twenty-third day of the month; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, and to the satraps, and the governors and princes of the provinces which are from India to Ethiopia, one hundred twenty-seven provinces, to every province according to its writing, and to every people in their language, and to the Jews in their writing, and in their language.
Est 8:10 He wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by courier on horseback, riding on royal horses that were bread from swift steeds.
Est 8:11 In those letters, the king granted the Jews who were in every city to gather themselves together, and to defend their life, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, their little ones and women, and to plunder their possessions,
Est 8:12 on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.
Est 8:13 A copy of the letter, that the decree should be given out in every province, was published to all the peoples, that the Jews should be ready for that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.
Est 8:14 So the couriers who rode on royal horses went out, hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment. The decree was given out in the citadel of Susa.
Est 8:15 Mordecai went out of the presence of the king in royal clothing of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a robe of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and was glad.
Est 8:16 The Jews had light, gladness, joy, and honor.
Est 8:17 In every province, and in every city, wherever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had gladness, joy, a feast, and a good day. Many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews was fallen on them.
Est 9:1 Now in the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the month, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, on the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to conquer them, (but it was turned out the opposite happened, that the Jews conquered those who hated them),
Est 9:2 the Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the King Ahasuerus, to lay hands on those who wanted to harm them. No one could withstand them, because the fear of them had fallen on all the people.
Est 9:3 All the princes of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and those who did the king's business helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them.
Est 9:4 For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces; for the man Mordecai grew greater and greater.
Est 9:5 The Jews struck all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and with slaughter and destruction, and did what they wanted to those who hated them.
Est 9:6 In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men.
Est 9:7 They killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha,
Est 9:8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha,
Est 9:9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha,
Est 9:10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Jew's enemy, but they didn't lay their hand on the plunder.
Est 9:11 On that day, the number of those who were slain in the citadel of Susa was brought before the king.
Est 9:12 The king said to Esther the queen, "The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in the citadel of Susa, including the ten sons of Haman; what then have they done in the rest of the king's provinces! Now what is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your further request? It shall be done."
Est 9:13 Then Esther said, "If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Shushan to do tomorrow also according to this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on the gallows."
Est 9:14 The king commanded this to be done. A decree was given out in Shushan; and they hanged Haman's ten sons.
Est 9:15 The Jews who were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and killed three hundred men in Shushan; but they didn't lay their hand on the spoil.
Est 9:16 The other Jews who were in the king's provinces gathered themselves together, defended their lives, had rest from their enemies, and killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them; but they didn't lay their hand on the plunder.
Est 9:17 This was done on the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of that month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
Est 9:18 But the Jews who were in Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth and on the fourteenth days of the month; and on the fifteenth day of that month, they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
Est 9:19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the unwalled towns, make the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, a good day, and a day of sending presents of food to one another.
Est 9:20 Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both near and far,
Est 9:21 to enjoin them that they should keep the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar yearly,
Est 9:22 as the days in which the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the month which was turned to them from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning into a good day; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending presents of food to one another, and gifts to the needy.
Est 9:23 The Jews accepted the custom that they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them;
Est 9:24 because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast "Pur," that is the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them;
Est 9:25 but when this became known to the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he had devised against the Jews, should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
Est 9:26 Therefore they called these days "Purim," from the word "Pur." Therefore because of all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and that which had come to them,
Est 9:27 the Jews established, and imposed on themselves, and on their descendants, and on all those who joined themselves to them, so that it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to what was written, and according to its appointed time, every year;
Est 9:28 and that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memory of them perish from their seed.
Est 9:29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority to confirm this second letter of Purim.
Est 9:30 He sent letters to all the Jews, to the hundred twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,
Est 9:31 to confirm these days of Purim in their appointed times, as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had decreed, and as they had imposed upon themselves and their descendants, in the matter of the fastings and their cry.
Est 9:32 The commandment of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.
Est 10:1 King Ahasuerus laid a tribute on the land, and on the islands of the sea.
Est 10:2 All the acts of his power and of his might, and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?
Est 10:3 For Mordecai the Jew was next to King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted by the multitude of his brothers, seeking the good of his people, and speaking peace to all his descendants.
Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God, and turned away from evil.
Job 1:2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters.
Job 1:3 His possessions also were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the children of the east.
Job 1:4 His sons went and held a feast in the house of each one on his birthday; and they sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
Job 1:5 It was so, when the days of their feasting had run their course, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned, and renounced God in their hearts." Job did so continually.
Job 1:6 Now it happened on the day when the God's sons came to present themselves before Yahweh, that Satan also came among them.
Job 1:7 Yahweh said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Then Satan answered Yahweh, and said, "From going back and forth in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."
Job 1:8 Yahweh said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant, Job? For there is none like him in the earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil."
Job 1:9 Then Satan answered Yahweh, and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing?
Job 1:10 Haven't you made a hedge around him, and around his house, and around all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
Job 1:11 But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will renounce you to your face."
Job 1:12 Yahweh said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power. Only on himself don't put forth your hand." So Satan went forth from the presence of Yahweh.
Job 1:13 It fell on a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house,
Job 1:14 that there came a messenger to Job, and said, "The oxen were plowing, and the donkeys feeding beside them,
Job 1:15 and the Sabeans attacked, and took them away. Yes, they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
Job 1:16 While he was still speaking, there also came another, and said, "The fire of God has fallen from the sky, and has burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
Job 1:17 While he was still speaking, there came also another, and said, "The Chaldeans made three bands, and swept down on the camels, and have taken them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you."
Job 1:18 While he was still speaking, there came also another, and said, "Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house,
Job 1:19 and behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young men, and they are dead. I alone have escaped to tell you."
Job 1:20 Then Job arose, and tore his robe, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshiped.
Job 1:21 He said, "Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away. Blessed be the name of Yahweh."
Job 1:22 In all this, Job did not sin, nor charge God with wrongdoing.
Job 2:1 Again it happened on the day when the God's sons came to present themselves before Yahweh, that Satan came also among them to present himself before Yahweh.
Job 2:2 Yahweh said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered Yahweh, and said, "From going back and forth in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."
Job 2:3 Yahweh said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? For there is none like him in the earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil. He still maintains his integrity, although you incited me against him, to ruin him without cause."
Job 2:4 Satan answered Yahweh, and said, "Skin for skin. Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.
Job 2:5 But put forth your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce you to your face."
Job 2:6 Yahweh said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand. Only spare his life."
Job 2:7 So Satan went forth from the presence of Yahweh, and struck Job with painful sores from the sole of his foot to his head.
Job 2:8 He took for himself a potsherd to scrape himself with, and he sat among the ashes.
Job 2:9 Then his wife said to him, "Do you still maintain your integrity? Renounce God, and die."
Job 2:10 But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job didn't sin with his lips.
Job 2:11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come on him, they each came from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and to comfort him.
Job 2:12 When they lifted up their eyes from a distance, and didn't recognize him, they raised their voices, and wept; and they each tore his robe, and sprinkled dust on their heads toward the sky.
Job 2:13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.
Job 3:1 After this Job opened his mouth, and cursed the day of his birth.
Job 3:2 Job answered:
Job 3:3 "Let the day perish in which I was born, the night which said, 'There is a boy conceived.'
Job 3:4 Let that day be darkness. Don't let God from above seek for it, neither let the light shine on it.
Job 3:5 Let darkness and the shadow of death claim it for their own. Let a cloud dwell on it. Let all that makes black the day terrify it.
Job 3:6 As for that night, let thick darkness seize on it. Let it not rejoice among the days of the year. Let it not come into the number of the months.
Job 3:7 Behold, let that night be barren. Let no joyful voice come therein.
Job 3:8 Let them curse it who curse the day, who are ready to rouse up leviathan.
Job 3:9 Let the stars of its twilight be dark. Let it look for light, but have none, neither let it see the eyelids of the morning,
Job 3:10 because it didn't shut up the doors of my mother's womb, nor did it hide trouble from my eyes.
Job 3:11 "Why didn't I die from the womb? Why didn't I give up the spirit when my mother bore me?
Job 3:12 Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breast, that I should suck?
Job 3:13 For now should I have lain down and been quiet. I should have slept, then I would have been at rest,
Job 3:14 with kings and counselors of the earth, who built up waste places for themselves;
Job 3:15 or with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver:
Job 3:16 or as a hidden untimely birth I had not been, as infants who never saw light.
Job 3:17 There the wicked cease from troubling. There the weary are at rest.
Job 3:18 There the prisoners are at ease together. They don't hear the voice of the taskmaster.
Job 3:19 The small and the great are there. The servant is free from his master.
Job 3:20 "Why is light given to him who is in misery, life to the bitter in soul,
Job 3:21 Who long for death, but it doesn't come; and dig for it more than for hidden treasures,
Job 3:22 who rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?
Job 3:23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, whom God has hedged in?
Job 3:24 For my sighing comes before I eat. My groanings are poured out like water.
Job 3:25 For the thing which I fear comes on me, That which I am afraid of comes to me.
Job 3:26 I am not at ease, neither am I quiet, neither have I rest; but trouble comes."
Job 4:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered,
Job 4:2 "If someone ventures to talk with you, will you be grieved? But who can withhold himself from speaking?
Job 4:3 Behold, you have instructed many, you have strengthened the weak hands.
Job 4:4 Your words have supported him who was falling, You have made firm the feeble knees.
Job 4:5 But now it is come to you, and you faint. It touches you, and you are troubled.
Job 4:6 Isn't your piety your confidence? Isn't the integrity of your ways your hope?
Job 4:7 "Remember, now, whoever perished, being innocent? Or where were the upright cut off?
Job 4:8 According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity, and sow trouble, reap the same.
Job 4:9 By the breath of God they perish. By the blast of his anger are they consumed.
Job 4:10 The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion, the teeth of the young lions, are broken.
Job 4:11 The old lion perishes for lack of prey. The cubs of the lioness are scattered abroad.
Job 4:12 "Now a thing was secretly brought to me. My ear received a whisper of it.
Job 4:13 In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men,
Job 4:14 fear came on me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake.
Job 4:15 Then a spirit passed before my face. The hair of my flesh stood up.
Job 4:16 It stood still, but I couldn't discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes. Silence, then I heard a voice, saying,
Job 4:17 'Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker?
Job 4:18 Behold, he puts no trust in his servants. He charges his angels with error.
Job 4:19 How much more, those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before the moth!
Job 4:20 Between morning and evening they are destroyed. They perish forever without any regarding it.
Job 4:21 Isn't their tent cord plucked up within them? They die, and that without wisdom.'
Aug. 13, 14
Act 25:1 Festus therefore, having come into the province, after three days went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea.
Act 25:2 Then the high priest and the principal men of the Jews informed him against Paul, and they begged him,
Act 25:3 asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem; plotting to kill him on the way.
Act 25:4 However Festus answered that Paul should be kept in custody at Caesarea, and that he himself was about to depart shortly.
Act 25:5 "Let them therefore," said he, "that are in power among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong in the man, let them accuse him."
Act 25:6 When he had stayed among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he sat on the judgment seat, and commanded Paul to be brought.
Act 25:7 When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing against him many and grievous charges which they could not prove,
Act 25:8 while he said in his defense, "Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar, have I sinned at all."
Act 25:9 But Festus, desiring to gain favor with the Jews, answered Paul and said, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem, and be judged by me there concerning these things?"
Act 25:10 But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also know very well.
Act 25:11 For if I have done wrong, and have committed anything worthy of death, I don't refuse to die; but if none of those things is true that they accuse me of, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar!"
Act 25:12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, "You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you shall go."
Act 25:13 Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the King and Bernice arrived at Caesarea, and greeted Festus.
Act 25:14 As he stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, "There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix;
Act 25:15 about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, asking for a sentence against him.
Act 25:16 To whom I answered that it is not the custom of the Romans to give up any man to destruction, before the accused has met the accusers face to face, and has had opportunity to make his defense concerning the matter laid against him.
Act 25:17 When therefore they had come together here, I didn't delay, but on the next day sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought.
Act 25:18 Concerning whom, when the accusers stood up, they brought no charge of such things as I supposed;
Act 25:19 but had certain questions against him about their own religion, and about one Jesus, who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
Act 25:20 Being perplexed how to inquire concerning these things, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters.
Act 25:21 But when Paul had appealed to be kept for the decision of the emperor, I commanded him to be kept until I could send him to Caesar."
Act 25:22 Agrippa said to Festus, "I also would like to hear the man myself." "Tomorrow," he said, "you shall hear him."
Act 25:23 So on the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and they had entered into the place of hearing with the commanding officers and principal men of the city, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in.
Act 25:24 Festus said, "King Agrippa, and all men who are here present with us, you see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
Act 25:25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and as he himself appealed to the emperor I determined to send him.
Act 25:26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write to my lord. Therefore I have brought him forth before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, that, after examination, I may have something to write.
Act 25:27 For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to also specify the charges against him."
Aug. 15, 16
Act 26:1 Agrippa said to Paul, "You may speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand, and made his defense.
Act 26:2 "I think myself happy, King Agrippa, that I am to make my defense before you this day concerning all the things that I am accused by the Jews,
Act 26:3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.
Act 26:4 "Indeed, all the Jews know my way of life from my youth up, which was from the beginning among my own nation and at Jerusalem;
Act 26:5 having known me from the first, if they are willing to testify, that after the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
Act 26:6 Now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers,
Act 26:7 which our twelve tribes, earnestly serving night and day, hope to attain. Concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa!
Act 26:8 Why is it judged incredible with you, if God does raise the dead?
Act 26:9 "I myself most certainly thought that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Act 26:10 This I also did in Jerusalem. I both shut up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death I gave my vote against them.
Act 26:11 Punishing them often in all the synagogues, I tried to make them blaspheme. Being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
Act 26:12 "Whereupon as I traveled to Damascus with the authority and commission from the chief priests,
Act 26:13 at noon, O King, I saw on the way a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who traveled with me.
Act 26:14 When we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
Act 26:15 "I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' "He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Act 26:16 But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you;
Act 26:17 delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you,
Act 26:18 to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
Act 26:19 "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
Act 26:20 but declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.
Act 26:21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple, and tried to kill me.
Act 26:22 Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen,
Act 26:23 how the Christ must suffer, and how, by the resurrection of the dead, he would be first to proclaim light both to these people and to the Gentiles."
Act 26:24 As he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are crazy! Your great learning is driving you insane!"
Act 26:25 But he said, "I am not crazy, most excellent Festus, but boldly declare words of truth and reasonableness.
Act 26:26 For the king knows of these things, to whom also I speak freely. For I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him, for this has not been done in a corner.
Act 26:27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe."
Act 26:28 Agrippa said to Paul, "With a little persuasion are you trying to make me a Christian?"
Act 26:29 Paul said, "I pray to God, that whether with little or with much, not only you, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these bonds."
Act 26:30 The king rose up with the governor, and Bernice, and those who sat with them.
Act 26:31 When they had withdrawn, they spoke one to another, saying, "This man does nothing worthy of death or of bonds."
Act 26:32 Agrippa said to Festus, "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar."