How loyal are you to loving God and your neighbour? Ruth shows true loyalty to God and her neighbour and she will not be forgotten by the passage of time. Ruth Chapter 1.14-22

February 20, 2021

Before we start; let us read this section of Ruth.

14 And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

19 So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”

22 So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. Ruth 1:14-22

Commentary

So we saw that Naomi was dedicated to the Lord.  Although her future seemed completely destroyed God was active and at work on her behalf and Ruth’s behalf as she had great faith in the face of adversity.   So Orpah cried, kissed her mother in law and left back to her people.   Ruth clung onto Naomi and it is in the perfect form.   As Orpah was leaving Ruth was clinging and it is in the cal perfect 3rd person singular.  Ruth was already determined to stay with Naomi even before Naomi tried to discourage her from going to Bethlehem with her.  Still Naomi was trying to persuade Ruth to go back to the old life.  Naomi said look your sister in law has gone back (cal perfect).  Orpah is gone and she is not coming back, that’s what the cal perfect means here.   but Ruth did not, on the contrary what did she say?

16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus, may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

This is packed with information about the determination of Ruth. Ruth is clinging and this clinging is a symbol of staying around way into the future.   Then when Ruth speaks it is in the imperfect with will.  The imperfect carries the idea that it is not a completed state but rather takes Naomi into a future relationship.  She hasn’t left like Orpah this is a continual state and into the future and Ruth will die as a true Jew worshipping the Lord.  The story continues in the imperfect into verse 19 when the villagers ask if this is Naomi.  They were excited.  Naomi was really sad and she says a few things in the perfect as if this was the end of the situation;

20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” NASB

From Naomi’s point of view there was disaster from the Lord and the destiny of Elimelech’s name was going to be cut off.  She is thinking in the perfect.  The men died (Perfect); Orpah left her (perfect). The Lord has acted bitterly towards her (Perfect).  Naomi’s personal world had collapsed and in her soul, she was a broken woman (on the surface of things.)

Verse 22. 

The return was a real thing and these verbs are in the perfect.  It looks like Naomi and Ruth’s situation is now going to start to change for the better.    The reason I say this is because Deuteronomy tells us about the widow, orphan and foreigner. God will fight their case.  Rabbi Sacks made this point in a you tube video where he talks about Ruth and Naomi.

Deuteronomy 10:18 says,” 18 He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the stranger by giving him food and clothing.”

These are indicators from the Torah.  Naomi is a true widow.  Ruth is a true foreigner.  God says that they will not be abandoned. Ruth also has no family as her family is Naomi.  Naomi has also come to a place of the first beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.  God will step in, there is no question about tha

The Dire Situation of Naomi; Ruth 1;6-13

February 14, 2021
Photo by Haley Black on Pexels.com

Let us begin by reading verses 6 through to 13

What can we learn from verses 6-13

6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food. 7 So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, but we will surely return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.” Ruth 1:6-13

In Chess a knight might move back to make progress.  Life can be like that.  A family went out and the vestiges of a family returned.  Naomi and Ruth.  The future looks quite bleak.

Naomi heard that the famine in Judah had finished and that there was food.  The bread winners for the family were dead in Moab.  Even when Naomi returns who says they will have any security?

Verse 7

Naomi being the head of the house released the two daughters in law to return to the families they came from so that they could find new husbands.  Naomi would return then to face her shame of failing to get an heir for her husband.

Verse 8.

If this was a worldly situation there would be no hope because on the face of things Elimelech’s name would soon be forgotten.  But something amazing is happening; Naomi is trusting God. She is not trusting herself. May the Lord deal kindly and May the Lord grant…  Most verbs in this chapter are in the Hebrew the active form. The imperfect is not a completed action the story keeps on moving forward.  Here in verse 8;

 h6213a. עָשָׂה asah; a prim. root; do, make:– 

(From Olive tree Bible software.)

This root verb here in the story takes on the perfect form. In other words a completed action.

The women had kept to their duty to the dead and Naomi.  There duty was ‘complete’.  They were now released from their obligations and were free to go back to Moab and find new husbands.  This is a very serious situation in Judaism; the cutting off of a line of a Jewish family.  Naomi would have to live with this until she died and then she also would be forgotten in the annals of time.  However, Naomi never spoke against the Lord.  She was completely faithful and devoted.

Verses 9-13 goes back into the active story mode. She tries to put her daughters off from following her.

Even though things have gone against her and she is suffering with these two ladies, it looks like a hopeless situation.  At the end of verse 13 she says, “the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.” 

She is stating fact about her situation, but she is not blaming God.  The Lord in the Old Testament is moving and living.  Brueggemann shows this in his writings and how the verbs are used.

When things go against you; How do you as a believer deal with the situation? Naomi is sad and upset about the situation, but she has not lost her faith.  Her faith is being tried out as if in a furnace.  She is a tough lady of faith and will accept whatever the future throws at her alone before her Lord. 

Reflection

As a teenager all those years ago, I heard a preacher talk about this in a prosperity mode.  Although blessing is involved, it is not the main point of this story.  This is about our devotion to God and for this Jewish family it is God’s covenant devotion to the family.  Even in dire situations God is acting for the good of his people.  We sometimes cannot see the good, but it is a relationship of quiet worship and trust.  The Lord Loves Naomi and what looks like on the surface a broken situation that can never be fixed.

This inner spiritual strength is not her doing but it will be found in the greatest king of Israel in the Old Testament; King David.

Is there a future after destruction?

February 11, 2021

Let us start by reading the first few verses from the book of Ruth

Naomi Widowed
1 Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there. 3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons. 4 They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband. Ruth 1:1-5 NASB

So, the story starts from this very old town in Bethlehem.  It was at the time of the Judges.  Joshua had defeated most that lived in that land in fair combat.  After the main wars a time of peace and prosperity must have entered the area.  Unfortunately, the text says that there was a famine in Bethlehem. 

As we found out in the book of Genesis God made Joseph second in command over the whole of Egypt to protect life and the lives of those who belonged to Jacob.

This man made the decision to leave the area and go to Moab.  Obviously, he took his wife and two sons.  The American dream forced on him and his family because of necessity. If we were in the same situation of Elimelech, we would certainly be tempted to move away from the small town of Bethlehem. 

The names of this family also have meanings.

“  The realistic nature of the story is established from the start through the names of the participants: the husband and father was Elimelech, meaning “My God is King”, and his wife was Naomi, “Pleasing”, but after the deaths of her sons Mahlon, “Sickness”, and Chilion, “Wasting”, she asked to be called Mara, “Bitter”.[4]

Taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Ruth

Elimelech and Naomi were G-d fearing.  ‘My God is king’ and ‘Pleasing’.  The father died and their boys married foreigners.  The father probably would not have liked these marriages to those outside of the faith.  Anyhow the boys died.  Naomi is left devastated.   This is a very serious situation for Naomi and her tradition.  Elimelech’s name seems to be getting blotted out.  Elimelech whose name means G-d is my king is going to be forgotten in Moab.  Naomi’s integrity seems to be thrown back in her face as the pleasing one has inherited a very displeasing situation.  These Ephraphites (fruitful) through the two sons of Sickness and Wasting  have become very unfruitful.   This is a dire situation:

How will God start to change this dire situation?

There are two interpretations for the name that I know of.

  • Bethlehem means house of Bread
  • Bethlehem means the house of Lahmu.
  • Beth-lahm  in Arabic means house of meat.

In the ancient Middle East visiting various ‘houses’ was not uncommon as these houses were usually temples.  So its original meaning for me would be the House of Lahmu but after the area passed into a monotheistic religion the name ended up as a place name that is easier to say for the local people. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lahmu

Reflection so far

Everyone faces a crisis situation sometime.  We have plans for the future, but something happens, and our future seems to be ruined.  How do we deal with this situation?

The socially rejected woman who can teach us a lesson or two about faith and how to live.

February 6, 2021

The book of Ruth is a jewel of a book after Judges and before Samuel.  No one has claimed to be the writer of this book.  My own opinion is that it was written during the time of King David or after king David had died.  My reasoning for this is that the Book itself shows that Ruth the Moabitess was in the genealogy of King David.  She was a great woman of faith.  

A friend of mine when I was 16, Edith Heaton gave me a tape with the following song on it.  It is a Lullaby, but it talks about the faith of Ruth.

This was sung by Nancy HoneyTree: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Honeytree

When I think of this song I think of Edith.  She used to pray that God would allow her to walk again but she never did.  She had a deep evangelical faith from the AOG Pentecostal tradition.  She said to me that being in a wheelchair was a way to reach a lot of people with the Gospel, people who were also in her situation. 

The Gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ. Paul said;”If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your hear that God raised him from the dead, You will be saved!” (From memory) Added to this the word Gospel ‘euangelion’ has a history. When armies returned from a successful battle it was good news. This was from an Old commentary I read on the Gospel of Mark. (From Memory) Later on if I remember we can look at this.

Anyhow at the moment I am doing some background reading for this lovely book and next week we can start to look into it deeper.

As Followers of Christ we are co-workers looking out for the needs of the poorest among us. 1 Cor. 16 whole chapter

January 29, 2021

We now come to the last chapter of 1 Corinthians namely chapter 16.  When this letter was originally written there were no chapter and verses added to it.  Let us remember that this was a letter St Paul wrote and it involved real people who loved Jesus Christ and wanted to serve him. We sometimes might think that there wasn’t much social movement in the ancient world.  With the Roman peace at the time of St Paul people could move around freely and this is one of the main reasons why the Church grew so fast.  The churches at this time also at times knew how to move on the international scale.  Let’s begin by looking at the whole chapter;

Instructions and Greetings

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 3 When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem; 4 and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me.

5 But I will come to you after I go through Macedonia, for I am going through Macedonia; 6 and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I may go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; 9 for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid, for he is doing the Lord’s work, as I also am. 11 So let no one despise him. But send him on his way in peace, so that he may come to me; for I expect him with the brethren.

12 But concerning Apollos our brother, I encouraged him greatly to come to you with the brethren; and it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity.

13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

15 Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints), 16 that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labours. 17 I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have supplied what was lacking on your part. 18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore, acknowledge such men.

19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21 The greeting is in my own hand—Paul. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. 1 Corinthians 16 NASB

You can see straight away that there was a collection for the Church in Jerusalem.  The Church is one big family and wherever there is a need, the needs were met.  Paul wanted to spend time at Corinth and eventually stayed there for a while.  This chapter is buzzing with life with itinerant preachers and teachers passing through and building the church.  At the same time however, there were the trouble makes inside the Church trying to take advantage.   Verse 22 is a hard verse.  If anyone does not love the Lord let him be accursed.   I don’t believe he is talking about outsiders but those who wiggles there way into the Church pretending to be part of the church and bringing false teachings with them.  There are a lot of names in this chapter;

  • Timothy
  • Apollos
  • household of Stephanas
  • Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus
  • Aquila and Prisca
  • We know about Timothy because two letters were sent to him and he was an important ambassador for the Gospel.  Paul really trusted him.
  • Apollos was a top theologian and some think that he wrote the book of Hebrews because of its Alexandrian style not Paul.  The first four verses of Hebrews are one sentence.  I don’t believe that Paul could have written this way.
  • “Stephanas has been supposed by some to have been the repentant “jailer of Philippi” (comp. Acts 16:33). The First Epistle to the Corinthians was written from Ephesus some six years after the jailer’s conversion, and he was with the apostle there at that time.” From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephanas
  •   “  I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you Teignmouth Shore, writing in Ellicott’s Commentary for Modern Readers, suggests that Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus had come from Corinth to Ephesus, probably with the letter from the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 7:1) to which Paul was sending a response.[6] Paul urged the church in Corinth to “be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labours” and to “acknowledge such men”.” From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephanas
  • Priscilla (/prɪˈsɪlə/; Greek: Πρίσκιλλα, Priskilla or sometimes misspelled as Priscila) and Aquila (/ˈækwɪlə/; Greek: Ἀκύλας, Akylas) were a first century Christian missionary married couple described in the New Testament. Aquila is traditionally listed among the Seventy Disciples. They lived, worked, and travelled with the Apostle Paul, who described them as his “fellow workers in Christ Jesus” (Romans 16:3).[1]  Priscilla and Aquila are described in the New Testament as providing a presence that strengthened the early Christian churches. Paul was generous in his recognition and acknowledgment of his indebtedness to them (Romans 16:3–4). Together, they are credited with instructing Apollos, a major evangelist of the first century, and “[explaining] to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26).  It is thought by some to be possible, in light of her apparent prominence, that Priscilla held the office of presbyter.[2] She also is thought by some to be the anonymous author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.[3] from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priscilla_and_Aquila

So, we have some very powerful members in the Church.  I found it interesting that some think that Priscilla wrote the Book of Hebrews.  I would ask the question; Was she trained in Alexandrian grammar?  She would need this in her job description.  If the answer is ‘no’, then she is certainly not a contender.  That brings us to the end of our study on 1 Corinthians! Wow what a city! Life in the first century then wasn’t necessarily that slow.  I am so glad that this book is in the Bible because it helps us now in the 21st century.  They were ordinary people just like us today and they also had fast food shops like we have.  They were into beauty and staying clean like we are.  They were a literate society like we are.  They had children and family problems and quarrels like we have today.   We really need to listen to what God is trying to teach us in this letter of St Paul.

This was just a quick study but perhaps I want to later look at the book even deeper but I have to say those who followed this study will have a greater understanding of what life was like for Christians at the time of Paul.  Not long after these times great persecutions came into the ancient world. The destruction of the temple in AD 70; the burning of Christians and feeding them to the lions under Nero and other emperors of the time.  The Jewish and Christian religions made it through to the modern era which is an amazing feat. 

We can look forward to eternity; death is certainly not the end!

January 23, 2021

35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

Verse 35 -42

Paul now starts to put correction on the Corinthians thinking.  Paul is going to follow through the logic, so the opening statement is also his intention.

•          How are the dead raised?

•          What kind of body do they come?

According to the.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Paul is covering ground that the Pharisees and Sadducees would have covered. The two sides; one side disagreeing with a real resurrection of the body and the other side agreeing about the resurrection of the body. So, he goes into smaller detail explaining that there are different types of body; fauna, animal, celestial bodies such as the moon and stars.

Paul starts by the simple fact that unless a seed (body) dies there cannot be another body.  Ver36 this argument is seen in nature.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

So, in the previous section Paul answered the first of his intentions that there are various types of bodies.  He is now intending to explain the second question from verse 35.

What kind of body do they come?

Paul gives the contrasts of the resurrected to the natural man.

Buried                        resurrected

perishable                   imperishable

Dishonour                   Glory

weakness                   power

natural body          spiritual body

Paul tells the Corinthians what type of body will be when we are resurrected.   We should take encouragement from this.

Paul doesn’t stop here but he goes into detail how God would accomplish this. Jesus Christ: Being fully God and fully man was in the perfect position to make this happen.

So, let us dig a little deeper by looking at verse 45

45 So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

This is very important, and it is sometimes overlooked. My first point is that when Adam was created, he was perfect and there is no reason why he would not have lived forever but unfortunately, He sinned and the whole human race died.  Not literally but the separation and broken relationship from God.  God did not give up on the human race but sent his Son and through the son we are brought back into this divine fellowship by faith and grace.

So let us work out how this resurrection works and why it works;

46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

Paul is following God’s creation. For there to be life death came first.  From this life would spring up.  Adam is like the original natural seed that falls into the ground.  This needs to take place so that there can be a resurrection for eternal fellowship with God.  This is our destiny and it was our destiny from before the foundation of the world.

The Mystery of Resurrection

50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55 O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

Death is cruel and in the natural world because of the fall there is a sting in death.  The sting of death is that we are separated from our relatives; we can be separated from God. But it does not have to be that way and in Jesus Christ through the cross and his resurrection this situation by faith can be reversed.  As it says in these verses the perishable will become imperishable and the mortal will become immortal.  Verse 37 tells us that the victory over death is through Jesus Christ. 

Isaiah 25:8 says.

“8 He will swallow up death for all time,

And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,

And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth.

For the LORD has spoken. “(NASB)

This idea of a resurrection is especially alive in Ezekiel.

“12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. 14 I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’” Ezekiel 37:12-14 NASB

So then, the idea of resurrection my friends from the time of the great prophets into the New Testament spoke of the defeat of death.  At the last trumpet call we will all be changed.  This work was achieved through Jesus Christ.  In the last verse “58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. “1 Corinthians 15:58 NASB

All we are asked to do is stay steadfast and continue to work and live for the Lord. 1 Corinthians is very interesting at many different levels.  These early believers would have known some of the eyewitnesses.  These eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ had started to die and perhaps they started to lose hope.  Perhaps some of them started to doubt in the resurrection.  Paul came at the right time to dispel these doubts. St Paul reminded the Corinthians of these basic Bible truths that culminated in Jesus Christ and in the Lord, the Corinthians and us in the 21st century will have a taste the resurrection too.  This is the great promise. The hope of the resurrection started in the Old Testament and was fulfilled in the new.  This really excites me about the future.  We can look forward to eternity; death is certainly not the end!

Did Paul allow people to be baptized on behalf of the dead? My answer is no.

January 16, 2021

1 corinthians 15 29-34

Whole books have been written on verse 29.  The reason being is that is Paul talking about baptism on behalf of the dead.   I will go into these arguments in more detail, but I think this is a problem that is grammatically easy to resolve. The little word Otherwise is seriously important, and my argument is that Paul switches back to those who don’t believe in the resurrection.  Let us follow the logic

Verses 12 – 20 is about those who don’t believe in the resurrection.

Verses 21 – 28 is about those who believe in the resurrection.

Verse 29 switches topic again to those who don’t believe in the resurrection.

That word otherwise is my paraphrase interpretation rather than translation.

From the point of view of those who don’t believe in the resurrection is there any real point to be baptized on behalf of a dead person.  Then verse 30 He switches back to the 1st person plural pronoun we. Let us be clear from this vantage point the argument continues for the resurrection.  This section is pure ethics.  The Apostles ‘we’ are in danger of dying on a daily basis. This was not a problem for Paul because he has the hope of the resurrection.

29 Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? 30 Why are we also in danger every hour? 31 I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE. 33  Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34  Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15:29-34 NASB

Verse 29

Did Paul allow people to be baptized on behalf of the dead? My answer is no he didn’t.  Having said that though whole books have been written on this verse.    I will first give my view on this first.  Paul is writing in the third person plural.  No where in the verse or before or after the verse did Paul ever say that he agreed with baptism of the dead.   I have to admit though I think that there were Pagan traditions that obviously did believe and do this sort of thing somehow.  Halfway through this section Paul does mention human motives.  So, he is questioning things.  So, to get the meaning could I read … What are the human motives of those who are baptized on behalf of the dead?  What is the motives behind us as Apostles putting our lives in danger?  From Paul’s point of view Paul in Jesus Christ ‘dies daily’ for his beliefs and this is an affirmation.  In verse 32 Paul goes into uncertainties about people’s motives for what they do.  I don’t actually think he fought with wild beasts although it was a Roman thing to see at the gladiator’s ring.  There probably were gladiators that were just down the road from where he stayed because Corinth was a popular Roman resort where lots of soldiers would have retired to.  He goes on to quote, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!” Even more uncertainties going on.  Then Paul lets rip and gives the readers a good telling off! (in love) It seems to be the case that some of these believers may have got mixed up with the wrong crowd and were doubting the resurrection of the dead; People mythologizing and who did not know what they were talking about.  I think we see a battle of spiritual ideas going on here.  Christianity being at the forefront of a battle with Paganism. 

When time becomes unnecessary, we will be sharing in the Trinitarian Divine Life for eternity!

January 10, 2021

Note; My last blog has been updated about three times until we reached the end of verse 28.

My reflections on 1 Corinthians 15 verses 1-28

Paul begins his teachings with reminding them of what Christ did for us and that he did indeed rise from the dead with a real physical body. We also need to remember that Judaism and Christianity did not completely split at this time.  In fact, the life and work of Christ was about the perfection of Judaism and not all groups agreed with this.  One can see the fractures taking place over time.  Paul defends the resurrection of the physical body and our union with God at the end of times.

What we have learned so far is that there were some in Corinth that did not share Pauls optimism of a resurrection.  The possible places this could have come from could have been from those with a background in the mystery religions in Corinth at that time; and or Sadducee groups from within Judaism; and or from those who held gnostic tendencies of matter being evil therefore a salvific birth of the flesh or matter would be seen as completely abhorrent.  These three types of teachings were completely against the teachings of the Apostles and it also goes against the Judaic idea that when God created and gave the world life that it was ‘good’ and not ‘bad’. 

The Apostolic teaching is that Christ indeed did rise from the dead according to God’s plan and one day we will also rise from the dead.  The day will come when Jesus as the King will hand over everything to the Father including the greatest enemy ‘death’.  Then Christ will subject himself to the Father and the Church in Christ will be brought into the Trinitarian Divine Life and everything will be Perfect.

I want to finish by quoting one of my favourite Church Fathers from his Against Heresies Chapter 3.  The Apostolic Tradition is so reach with Apostolic Teaching;

https://earlychurchtexts.com/public/irenaeus_on_recapitulation_in_christ.htm

3.18.1
As it has been clearly demonstrated that the Word, who existed in the beginning with God, by whom all things were made, who was also always present with mankind, was in these last days, according to the time appointed by the Father, united to His own workmanship, inasmuch as He became a man liable to suffering, [it follows] that every objection is set aside of those who say, “If our Lord was born at that time, Christ had therefore no previous existence.” For I have shown that the Son of God did not then begin to exist, being with the Father from the beginning; but when He became incarnate, and was made man, He commenced afresh the long line of human beings, and furnished us, in a brief, comprehensive manner, with salvation; so that what we had lost in Adam—namely, to be according to the image and likeness of God—that we might recover in Christ Jesus.

5.21.1
He has therefore, in His work of recapitulation, summed up all things, both waging war against our enemy, and crushing him who had at the beginning led us away captives in Adam, and trampled upon his head, as thou canst perceive in Genesis that God said to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; He shall be on the watch for (observabit) thy head, and thou on the watch for His heel.” For from that time, He who should be born of a woman, [namely] from the Virgin, after the likeness of Adam, was preached as keeping watch for the head of the serpent. This is the seed of which the apostle says in the Epistle to the Galatians, “that the law of works was established until the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” This fact is exhibited in a still clearer light in the same Epistle, where he thus speaks: “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman.” For indeed the enemy would not have been fairly vanquished, unless it had been a man [born] of a woman who conquered him. For it was by means of a woman that he got the advantage over man at first, setting himself up as man’s opponent. And therefore does the Lord profess Himself to be the Son of man, comprising in Himself that original man out of whom the woman was fashioned (ex quo ea quae secundum mulierem est plasmatio facta est), in order that, as our species went down to death through a vanquished man, so we may ascend to life again through a victorious one; and as through a man death received the palm [of victory] against us, so again by a man we may receive the palm against death.

The resurrection order and our future lives as believers!

January 3, 2021

From time to time I will add to this page new verses until I get to the end of verse 28.

1 Corinthians 15 and the first section had a lot of ifs.  In this next section I only see our future life in Christ with a resurrected body.  This is a very important subject for all times and Paul does not hold back but shows us that in Christ we are going to have a real resurrected body.  After we die, if we stay in spirit form, how will someone know us?  On the other hand, if we have a real body then we can be recognised immediately. It is through our speech, the way we look, the gestures we show that people know who we are.  This is the inheritance we have in Christ.  In Christ we will be made perfect even as he is perfect.


20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 NASB

20 Νυνὶ δὲ Χριστὸς ἐγήγερται ἐκ νεκρῶν, ἀπαρχὴ τῶν κεκοιμημένων.

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

This is very straight forward.  There are no ‘ifs’ here but certainty.  The phrase’ has been raised from the dead’ this is in the perfect tense.  The perfect tense an action that has happened in the past but has continual effect for all time.  Here Jesus is ‘the first fruits’.  He is the first man to be raised from the dead. The first fruits are the first agricultural offering to God, but I think it can also be used of the first person in a family to be born (especially in Jewish thought).  The equivalent to first fruit is Bikkurim meaning ‘promise to come’ (https://get.tithe.ly/blog/first-fruit)

With reference to the firstborn person, the Hebrew word is bekor.  A Jewish use of the term I find helpful to give us a deeper understanding of it being used for Christ;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firstborn_(Judaism)

Where it says first fruits(plural) I don’t know if I agree with the NASB here.  First fruit is in the feminine singular.  I would translate the verse as and now Christ has been raised from the dead who is the first fruit from those who are asleep.  Before being conclusive I think one needs to read and compare other translations and commentaries on this text.  This is my interpretation for what it is trying to say.  It may be that the translators wanted to somehow follow the Hebrew Bekkorim (plural)

There are other reasons why I would translate it as this.  If one reads all the verses up to verse 28 one can see that Christ is the subject not the church or the dead believers.

When we look at the section of ‘those who have fallen asleep’ this is a verbal noun or participle in Greek, and it is in the perfect! I find this encouraging because the sleep is in Christ the first fruit from the dead.  When we die, we will also sleep in Christ and we will rise with Christ.  This is our hope.  All the mystery religions found it Corinth could not give this promise;  

In relation to the mystery religions I found Terri D. Moore’s paper from Dallas theological seminary College very interesting; http://tdarbymoore.com/

Her dissertation on the mystery religions I think may have a lot more bearing on how we understand parts of 1 Corinthians.

I will continue to publish on this page until I hit verse 28 so if you are a subscriber you might not see this new add ons so please every few day have a look. It takes time to write this blog especially as I need to check my facts and make correct judgements. As I see the Bible as sacred scripture I feel it important to comment in a reverential way and give God the glory.

Added 04.01.2021

Verse 21

21 ἐπειδὴ γὰρ δι’ ἀνθρώπου θάνατος, καὶ δι’ ἀνθρώπου ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν·

. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.

Here is a woody translation for you without verbs; ‘For since by a man death and by a man resurrection from the dead.’

The verb in the English translation was added to get the sense of the meaning!  Translators do these types of things to make it easier for us to understand the actual text.

For ‘by a man’ or ‘though a man’.  This man, human being is not mentioned yet but we know who he is talking about; Adam from the garden. It is through this man that death came into the world, but we also know that it was by a man, a human being namely Christ that there would be a resurrection from the dead. This is a very important verse because it compares Adam and Christ. They were both the same in that they were human beings, but they had different functions namely;

  • Through Adam came death
  • Through Christ came eternal life in a physical body

One man brought death to the human race and the other man eternal life.  I know who I want to follow! We don’t have any serious verbs in the comparison here, but we certainly get the meaning

Feel free to visit my other blog https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/

09.01.2021

22 ὥσπερ γὰρ ἐν τῷ Ἀδὰμ πάντες ἀποθνῄσκουσιν, οὕτως καὶ ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ πάντες ζῳοποιηθήσονται.

22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

In this verse we now have the actual names of those who are responsible for life and death.  Adam and Christ are mentioned. Hosper gar is best translated as ‘For as’; The word ‘for’ is important because it points to what preceded it.  The important point we learned is that both Adam and Christ were fully human.

A theological digression

At the creation as Bavinck would say humanity did not lose their humanity until after the fall but sin changed their humanity somehow.  When we think of death it can mean for some non-being but as Bavinck says spiritual death is never none-being but rather a state.  He says on page 93, Reformed Ethics, Herman Bavinck. The state of natural humanity is generally called death.  This death means a life that is lived in opposition to God. In this natural state we stand corrupted and we need Jesus Christ by his Holy Spirit to bring new life into us.

To put it bluntly;

Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we may have eternal life, in the future, a new physical eternal life!  Looking at the verse again we have two verbs to die and to live.  The first verb in regard to Adam is in the present and now, but the second verb that relates to Christ, and us, is in the future!  Paul makes sure that we understand our future hope…

10.01.2021

The resurrection and the events around it will follow a particular order;

  • Christ the First Fruit verse 23
  • Those who belong to Christ at his second coming verse 23
  • ‘The end’ When Christ hands over the Church (Kingdom) to the Father verse 24
  • This includes ‘death’ verse 26
  • When all things have been subjected to the Father
  • Then the Son will also subject himself to the Father.
  • Then there is ‘completion’ verse 28 all in all

From my reading of this text we are brought into to be sharers of this divine trinitarian life of God

So let us recap what we have learned. 

Verse 20; Christ has been raised from the dead intro

Verse 21; through an ordinary person death came into the world so to through an ordinary person life would enter the world once again.

Verse 22; Namely through Adam’s disobedience death came into the world but through the work of Christ all could be brought to life

Verse 23; The order of the resurrection and allied activities start; Christ the first fruit; His Church at his second coming

Verses 24- 26; At the end Christ will reign until all enemies including death are subjected to Christ.

Verses 27 -28; At the end when Christ is in complete control of everything good and bad, he will subject himself to the Father.  In Christ we are brought into the Divine Life of the Trinity in the ‘all in all’ perfection. 

Let us now look at some background stuff.  Psalm 8 is not any ordinary Psalm; For Christians it is a Messianic Psalm and it is about the Son of Man; one of the titles of Jesus Christ the anointed one.  This Psalm is seen as a reference to the Kingship of Christ in relationship to YHWH (Tetragrammaton).

Part 1; The Greek text; 1 Corinthians 15:12-14 (Appended text 29/12/2020 )

December 27, 2020

From verses 12 to 19 St Paul is laying into these people who want to deny a physical resurrection.  The tone of those verses is fairly negative, and a lot of the verbs tend to be in the aorist. An action that happened in the past and has no future consequences.  If he does use actives, he is relating it to the present troubled situation.  We will go through this section in small bits so that we can build a masterpiece of understanding.  I will begin each section by the verse from the NASB.  The software I am using is olive tree.  The Greek text is from the SBL new testament within olive tree.  I’m not interested in variants because that would be another level of spade work and I think this is enough to get the main gist of what Paul is saying about the troublemakers.  Maybe on a later date, when I decide to turn this into a commentary I will probably take more of an interest in the variants.  The thing is that there are never enough hours in the day to do everything on their own.

12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 1 Corinthians 15:12 NASB

Commentary

Basically, Paul is telling them in the present and active tenses that the Apostles and Paul himself came and were preaching that Christ was raised from the dead. Then Paul says that some of the Corinthians were saying that Christ wasn’t raised from the dead.

This is a very serious situation because it is at the heart of the Christian hope and teaching.  There were different types of people in Corinth.  From the Greek side there were the Gnostics who basically taught that the material body was evil and salvation was when the body could break out of its prison, then there was a particular Judaic group and sympathizers of the Sadducee type, who also denied the resurrection.

We don’t really know who these groups were so this is a calculated guess.

Notes

12 Εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς κηρύσσεται ὅτι ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγήγερται, πῶς λέγουσιν ἐν ὑμῖν τινες ὅτι ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν οὐκ ἔστιν; 1 Corinthians 15:12 SBL NT

This verse is in question form (notice the ‘;’) You can see the Greek question mark.

If Christ is preached that he is raised for the dead

This comes with an ‘if’

How is it that ‘some of you’ say that he has not been raised from the dead.

So, we have ‘How’

‘They say’ is in the present active third person plural

/////////////////

13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 1 Corinthians 15:13 NASB

Commentary

So, he takes their position to pieces by saying that if the dead are not raised neither has Christ been raised.   So, I think Paul is saying that if resurrection is not a possibility then according to their point of view Christ has not been raised.  

Notes

13 εἰ δὲ ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν οὐκ ἔστιν, οὐδὲ Χριστὸς ἐγήγερται·

1 Corinthians 15:13 SBL NT

Up to the comma I think Paul is saying generally / universally if there isn’t any resurrection then the logical conclusion after the comma is that Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead.  This makes the materialists position completely untenable.

/////////////

14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 1 Corinthians 15:14

Commentary

Paul is not holding back; this little word which is translated ‘vain’ in the NASB is used twice.  If Christ hasn’t been raised then basically the preaching is worthless and their faith is also ‘worthless, empty, in vain’

Notes

14 εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς οὐκ ἐγήγερται, κενὸν ἄρα τὸ κήρυγμα ἡμῶν, κενὴ καὶ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν, 1 Corinthians 15:14

κενὸν and κενὴ = meaning ‘empty’ ‘vain’

If Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead, then the Corinthians faith is also empty.  St Paul is milking this argument to the very last drop.  There is no escape for the materialists who deny the resurrection. Empty or vain is used twice in one sentence this has consequences in the interpretation.

Verse 15

15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 1 Corinthians 15:15

Commentary

(In the Greek text image above I have shown the tenses of the verb and also some of the word order with the numbers. Where you see 1, 2, 3. Just follow the word order.)

No perfect tenses are used in this verse.  It is in the here and now and it is a conversation that shows Paul explaining to the Corinthians that if the resurrection didn’t happen then the apostles would be found out to be false witnesses.

///////////////

Verses 16-19

16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15:16-19

Commentary

He continues in the same way.  The word mataios = worthless found in verse 17 was interesting.  Obviously, it carries the same idea of vanity and worthlessness as we found in verse 14 but this word here has been used in Acts 14:15 of idolatrous ‘vain things.  He goes even as far as to say that those who believed and died in the faith would have done so for nothing. Out of all of this in verse 15 I like ‘εἴπερ ἄρα’= if then (indeed or in fact). If the dead are not raised.  This section finishes off with lots of ‘if’ words! Verses 15, 16 and 19 start the sentences with ‘if’ words.  This is good news for us as believers because if there are if then there has to be a lot of ‘then’ words. This section has been very disquieting on the Corinthians. Paul in the next section is going to start to build the believers faith and give them hope. Paul had to go this way because of the troublemakers in the Corinthian assembly of believers. I hope and pray that you will follow me into the next section that hasn’t been commented on just yet.

Feel free to visit my other theological blog; https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/

Is there a resurrection or is there not a resurrection; Who were those that were causing all the problems? Part 1

December 18, 2020

 

18 12 2020

Introduction to 1 Corinthians 1512-19

Verses 12 – 19

There is a logical argument here.  The reason that Paul said this must have been that in the congregation there were people who didn’t believe in the resurrection.  Who could they be? Calvin suggested that it could have been the Sadducees.

I thought that Wayne. A. Meeks would have something to say in this section from a sociological perspective. I didn’t find any verses for this section that we are looking at. So, I looked at what Meeks said about the resurrection and I have to say I was disappointed.  He mentions something about the ‘death resurrection paradox’ and then he mentions Ephesians and Colossians as deutero-Pauline letters. 

The First Urban Chrsitians pages 182 – 183

Obviously, there were some groups that rejected the resurrection; Has he got nothing to say about these groups who did not believe in the resurrection?  There was evidence that there were Jewish communities throughout the whole known Roman world; for example, sometimes Jews were kicked out of cities because of their different values.  There were Saducees in Israel at the time of Christ because they were one of the opposing groups.  Did they as a group of Saducees not travel outside of Israel?

Yes, there were Jewish groups that were hostile to Paul in Corinth;

CORINTH, Greek city. The earliest evidence of Jews in Corinth is contained in Agrippa I’s letter to Caligula (Philo, De Legatione ad Caium, 281). The apostle Paul spent one and a half years in Corinth, preaching in the synagogue on Sabbaths (cf. the two Epistles to the Corinthians), and through his influence Crispus and his family were baptized. The Jews were embittered by Paul’s activities; they brought him before Gallio, procurator of Achea, who, refusing to judge in a religious matter, said they would have to resolve their differences themselves (Acts 18:2ff.). Corinthian Jewry apparently belonged to the lower classes. Aquila and Priscilla, with whom Paul dwelt, were weavers, and he worked with them for his bread. These Jews went to Corinth from Rome when Claudius expelled the Jews from the city. There were no direct links between the Jews of Corinth and Ereẓ Israel, but Corinthian products were known in the Holy Land. Josephus (Wars, 5:201) mentions the Corinthian copper that coated one of the Temple gates, the Gate of Nicanor (whose special copper is also noted in talmudic sources, Tosef., Yoma 2:4; Yoma 38a), and he similarly mentions the Corinthian candelabra in Agrippa II’s house (Life, 68). Vespasian, after his victory in Galilee, sent 6,000 captive youths to Nero to dig at the Isthmus of Corinth (Wars, 3: 540). Conceivably, some of them might have escaped and found haven in the nearby settlements including Corinth.”

From

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/corinth

If Meeks is looking at Corinth from a sociological perspective, he should have made more of the disagreeing groups. Death and resurrection were not a paradox.  The fact is that the Apostles including Paul believed in this message and they died for the message of the Gospel.   Yes, the Christian message vied with Pagans and Jews.  Actually, Christianity was at the time still in a sense a Jewish religion if it wasn’t seen as this Paul would not have been allowed to go into synagogues to preach!  We need to remember that there have also always been various schools of thought in Judaism.  Some hold to the First five books such as the Sadducees whereas the Pharisees had a wider view.  Both these groups would have definitely been represented in Corinth.  In various Wikipediaes even today we have Rabbinic Judaism and Karaite Judaism two forms of Judaism although there are a lot more.  By no way am I an expert but if there is someone with knowledge of the links between the saducees and the Karaites of today please point me in the right direction.

What I am saying is that Meeks could have argued that in Corinth there was a highly likelihood that there were two groups of Judaism.  Those that believed in a bodily resurrection and those that didn’t.

I found this article interesting for my above reflection.

https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v06-n09/resurrection-rabbinic-judaism-hebrew-scripture-and-the-new-testament

Having looked at the evidence I am firmly in agreement with John Calvin that the Saducee type of groups were causing problems for the Corinthian church and St Paul.  St Paul gave a direct refutation to those who did not believe in a physical resurrection!

Next time we will start working our way through the text in 1 Corinthians 15. This was meant to be some background information to help us analyse the text in a way that respects the text and do exegesis rather than eisegesis.

Meanings

  1. Exegesis is reading out of the text the original meaning for the writer and the original readers. This is a scientific endeavour in search of the truth
  2. Eisegesis is reading into the text our own imagnery assumptions. This is not scientific but can be dangerous. If we go down this road then it is safer to stick to the Noddy books series!

St Paul proves his credentials before moving into the beautiful deep waters of the resurrection!

December 10, 2020
This to me is one of the most wonderful chapters in the whole Bible.  You might ask why, and I can explain why;

 Jesus rose from the dead with a resurrected body and the day will come that we will also have resurrected bodies.  You might ask the question; Why is the body important after we are dead?  

If you are without a body but have a soul and spirit it sounds good enough.  My friends, it is not enough!  How do I know your identity if I cannot see you face?

We all have gestures and we all speak words, and this is the wonderful thing about a body.  This chapter is wonderful because Paul goes into great detail to explain to us why the resurrection is so important.  I am not an expert in the resurrection, but I hope by the end of this commentary we will all have a certain amount of expertise that we can share. I will just go through a basic commentary for the first eleven verses and then I will look at some of the technical stuff afterwards to make it more interesting.  

1 Corinthians chapter 151-11 The first 11 verses set the scene and is a summary for the  preaching of the Gospel that they heard; It is also a summary of what the essence of the Gospel is in a nut shell.  He starts from the foundational beliefs before moving into the deeper things that make being a Christian a worthwhile thing.
Verse 1
1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, NASB    

This is a reminder to them of the gospel they believed in.  They stand in these basic teachings;
  Verse 2
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. NASB  

The Apostles were those who were sent by Jesus and we need to take their words very seriously.  St Paul was also an Apostle and he was validated by the other Apostles.  If the Corinthians reject St Paul, then they reject the Lord Jesus Christ.   

As I was reading this section, I found it interesting that John Calvin mentioned the Sadducees.  Obviously, they had a problem with the resurrection.  If we mirror read the text, there must have been some who were saying things contrary to the Apostles.  Even if we cannot prove that it was the Sadducees there were those who just would not agree with the resurrection; At that juncture John Calvin is surely right. From https://biblehub.com/commentaries/calvin/1_corinthians/15.htm    

Verses 3-8
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.  NASB      

Here Paul sums up the series of events (verses 3-8) from the death and resurrection of Christ all the way to when he got his Apostleship. So, let us sequence it out;  

1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
2. Christ was buried
3. Christ was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures
4. Christ appeared to Peter
5. Christ appeared to the other disciples
6. Christ appeared to more than 500
7. Christ Appeared to James
8. Christ appeared to all the Apostles
9. Christ appeared to St Paul  

This list is very important because it shows solid eyewitness account to the resurrection.  Look at how many times he uses the word appeared in the text.  A historian who reads this bit which is one of the oldest letters in the whole New Testament sees a heavy weight of evidence for the resurrection.  Before Paul even goes into the subject of the resurrection, he shows them the evidence.  This evidence cannot be refuted by the Corinthians and it ought not be refuted by us.  We need to take this seriously and to fall on our knees and worship God for everything he has done for us in Christ by the Holy Spirit.  This is really exciting stuff.    

Verse 9-11

9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. NASB    

Paul calls himself the least of the Apostles.  We see from the Book of Acts and Galatians that Paul was a persecutor of the church.  At the time he was happy at the martyrdom of Stephen, but something happened.  Jesus Met Paul and he was chosen to be an Apostle out of time.  When Jesus was going on about his itinerary around Palestine for those 3 years Paul was not there. Yet as far as the Apostles were concerned after his conversion he was accepted as an Apostle.  God works in mysterious ways and his plans are beyond our plans.   

So, let us dig a little deeper here in these verses and find out a little more about Paul the Man and look at the facts;

1. Paul did not see himself fit to be called an Apostle
2. Paul  persecuted the church and he was forgiven
3. Paul was chosen by Jesus, literally out of the blue and Paul was converted.
4. Paul had to work harder than all the other Apostles  

We can see that indeed Paul did work harder than all of the other Apostles and if tradition is correct, he was rewarded by being beheaded in Rome.  He truly repented of his sins and sold himself completely to the service of Christ; He suffered, was ostracized, laughed at, mocked, stoned and left for dead!  There are people that mock Paul even today, but we can see from the evidence that he was one of the Apostles.  He was an Apostle because Jesus chose Paul to work tirelessly for the gentiles.  In Galatians; How could Paul stand up to St Peters hypocrisy if he was not an Apostle? The Corinthians accepted him as an Apostle and as Christians we accept him as an Apostle.  The Apostolic Hand on this scripture in this chapter is seriously important for us today and we can be assured that we are in safe hands when trying to understand the resurrection that will also happen to us one day.          

We lost our way and since the Fall in relation to God we have lost our free will. God did not give up on the human race.

December 6, 2020

I posted this on the wrong blog but you might find this interesting anyway;

So, on page 82 we have seen a change of condition and now we found ourselves separated from God. 

Bavinck raises the question of whether or not this condition is permanent and whether or not we as humans have the power to change our human condition in relation to God.  This is a very important question because if it is permanent then we would be separated from God for all eternity. 

In this situation according to Bavincks interpretation of Pelagius the heretic we are of our own accord able to change our condition. For Pelagius ‘sin only has power because of habit’.  So, all you have to do is break the habit of sin.  Bavinck then proves from the Scriptures that this is completely impossible.

As Bavinck says, “The will has lost its real, material freedom”.  This is the traditional and right view for me as well.  I know for example that Martin Luther in a huge disagreement with Erasmus wrote the Bondage of the Will that the will is a prisoner and cannot break out of this prison of sin which humanity through Adam’s sin put itself in.

Bavinck then gives us an undisputed walk through the New Testament showing the condition after the Fall.  So, let us learn from Bavinck.  Before I start, I will make a table with the phrase and then the verses. 

Even before we look at Bavinck here a little deeper, I think there are dangers of interpreting terms out of context.  First of all, in the New Testament writings ‘flesh’ has different contexts.  For example, when John uses flesh it can be used in a positive manner; ‘Christ came in the flesh’.  The use of flesh here was to counter gnostic tendencies of saying that Christ wasn’t really a physical man in the flesh but only seemed to be this.

A text out of context is a pretext so Bavinck does not fall into this trap but as a reader you may not have been aware of this.  Before interpreting any word it is good to look at the context and ask the question ‘What did this text mean to its original audience that it was intended for?’ After this we can start asking other questions.

Sayings

The Old Self

In Romans 6 verse 6 Christ had to die so that we could be set free from sin.  We are referred to as ‘slaves.’ A slave is not a free person.

6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; Romans 6:6 NASB

Flesh

We are naturally born as flesh and God wasn’t happy with the situation.

From the New Testament Jesus explains, that there are two births.  Flesh and Spirit.

3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless, his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” Genesis 6:3; NASB

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6; NASB

Flesh is used a lot by Paul

Here Paul is referring to the condition of sinful man after the Fall. 

5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. Romans 7:5; NASB

The Body of sin

Paul is using a figure of speech here.  The New life in Christ has reversed our condition to what it ought to have been. It has to be a figure of speech because this circumcision does not need a blade e.g. ‘made without hands’ They didn’t have lasers in those days such as found in the James Bond film Gold Finger.

Taken from: Yahoo.com

11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; Colossians 2:11; NASB

And

Obviously, people are not zombies it has to be a certain type of death.  The death Paul is talking about is the broken relationship with God.

10  If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. Romans 8:10; NASB

The natural person

This is the person living for himself and not for God.

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Corinthians 2:14; NASB

By nature, ‘children of wrath’

The converted person is a changed person towards the light and a closer relationship with God. 

3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2:3 NASB

And contrasted to

In contrast to the ‘spiritual person’

15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 1 Corinthians 2:15; NASB

These verses clearly show that our condition was a fallen condition after we were created perfect.

Herman Bavinck was no dualist and he was very careful to prove it.  In the last paragraph of page 82 he says;

“However, there is this one difference—namely, that the “old self” and the “new self” each flow forth from the activity of the flesh and the activity of the Spirit, respectively. In other words, they are the phenomena, the manifestations, of human nature itself, in the one case the fallen nature and in the other the new nature in Christ. “

Herman Bavinck Reformed Ethics page 82.

Or in my words being in the condition of the Fall and the Condition of regeneration in Christ. Dualism in Christianity is a dangerous concept and it would allow gnostic ideas to seep into Christian teaching and separate us from the pure Gospel.   Bavinck on page 83 is right to not accept this;

“Ammon, Baur, Hausrath, and Pfleiderer® all argue that Paul was a dualist because he held that sin has its origin and seat in sensuality, in matter”.  Page 83 Bavinck

Bavinck rebuffs this by giving a list of reasons why this is not the case;

•             The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit

•             Paul teaches about the resurrection of the body

•             Paul is not an ascetic as he sees marriage as sacred and all for is good food.

•             Jesus was in the flesh but without sin

From Page 83; Bavinck; Reformed Ethics

And then he goes on.  Bavincks interpretation goes on over the next few pages and he has very important things to remind us. 

Reflection about what we have learned up to now.

Paul has a lot to teach us about what condition the human race finds itself.  Only God in Christ by the Holy Spirit can break this cycle as we are slaves to the sinful nature. 

I haven’t even gone below the surface, but Herman Bavinck the Master theologian has a lot to teach us about our human condition.  We will continue to plough through this material because through it we can get closer to Christ and live the life God wants us to live.  In todays world there are many dangers for the Christian but there were great men of God such as Herman Bavinck who were willing to stand up against false teachers who were also found in the universities.  We also need to remember that Scripture was given to the Church and there are outside forces that would like to have rid of it.  On Twitter I have seen for example that there are forces that are trying to outlaw the reading of the Bible in your own home (Scotland).  As believers we need to stand up and be counted for the protection of our liberties.  Let us not forget people like William Tyndale who was murdered by the state to allow us to have our translation in English.  Yes, Bavinck is seriously important for not only the Reformed tradition but also for all the other denominations.  They might not realize it now but one day they will. 

What these scholars did that Bavinck spoke out against was to get rid of the idea of the fall. 

What does this mean in real terms?

•             People are free and they don’t have to be accountable to a higher Force

•             They make their decisions based upon secular and atheistic principles

•             The family is less important than individual rights.

•             The state works towards dismantling religious rights.

•             Crimes become relative and are based on ethics of relativity.

•             Human DNA becomes relative and they can do as they please.

I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Bavinck reminds us that;

•             We are accountable to God

•             Decisions made are based on Scripture and the fear of God

•             The family as an institution is important for the welfare of the individual and the welfare of the state.

•             Religious Rights need to be protected.

•             Crime is against God’s law (10 commandments) there is a place for reformation of the criminal, but justice has to be fair

•             Human DNA is not a tennis ball but is sacred because God created us, and we should accept people as they are and protect life.

Let us love God and our neighbour for this will hold us in good stead.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate question of You living into Infinity with your Creator by the defeat of Death.

December 4, 2020

A general introduction on the Resurrection

Before we move into 1 Corinthians chapter 15, I felt it important to look at general ideas about the resurrection in the English-speaking world.  This is the order that I will follow;

  • Everyday use of the word resurrection
  • Historical roots of the word ‘resurrection ‘in the English-speaking world
  • Vines definitions found in the Greek New Testament
  • Resurrection in the New Testament
  • Work will then begin on 1 Corinthians 15

So, let us look at a definition found in the Learners Definition of the Resurrection;

“The act of causing something that had ended or been forgotten or lost to exist again, to be used again, etc.”

Every day Use

A resurrection from a secular perspective can be negative or positive. 

“Stop resurrecting old news!”

A person does not want to be reminded about something that happened in the past.

“We can now make a pudding from Gran’s resurrected recipe”

Something that was important to the family has been found again and they will be able to enjoy the food that they enjoyed when they were small.

History and Etymology for resurrection

Middle English resurreccioun, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin resurrection-, resurrectio act of rising from the dead, from resurgere to rise from the dead, from Latin, to rise again, from re- + surgere to rise — more at surge”  From: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resurrection

I find the etymology here very interesting because we have two parts for the English. Re when put on the front of words means again, for example ‘revamp’ making something new.  We also have the word surge which in modern English is used in English in various ways

  • Electrical surge; When too much power goes through and cause havoc
  • Sea waves surge; Water rising and moving fast
  • A mob of people surging forward.

In all of these words we have an idea of ‘power’ involved.

So, re-surging some ‘powerful force moving forward again’.

As well as that the word erect (standing).

In the end we have the word resurrection.

So even within a natural point of view there is a reanimation of something that was dead.  In this word there is energy, there is life and there is something that can bring a dead stone to life.

The word resurrection then is a beautiful word which has a lot of meaning in the English-speaking world as it came down to us.

  • Middle English
  • from Late Latin
  • Anglo-French

Vines Definition from the Greek page 290

So, the words is anastasis and it means a raising or a raising up and it is made up of two words; ana = up and histemi= to cause to stand.

The word anastasis is used here, Romans 14

who was declared the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, NASB from BibleGateway.

The word resurrection in the New Testament

This is just a very general brush but as you can see at first glance one can see that the word resurrection is a central concept in the New Testament.   It is dealing with an ultimate question. Is there life after death? The New Testament answer to this is a resolute yes. I could have also looked at other words such as ‘rose’ from the dead and I would have an even larger list.  This list will suffice, however.  

The Gospels

The first thing I noticed that the word resurrection for the synoptic Gospels usually starts in the second half of the Gospels.  This is telling because the resurrection is centrally linked to the Lord Jesus Christ and his resurrection.  From the Gospels point of view including Johns Gospel, the central theme revolves around the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There are many stories of resurrections even today but for the Apostles who penned down information about the resurrection, it was mostly if not completely linked to Christ.  For the book of Acts which is the second edition of Luke’s work, the resurrection is central to the whole book of Acts!

Jesus is risen from the dead and what does this mean to you, to me and to the world?  The resurrection of Christ is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of; What happens after death?

The ancient world realized this, and they dropped Paganism and turned to the Christian religion.   This is also important to us!  The world today in the West has been turning its back on Christianity and has begun to take science as having all the answers.  My friend’s science cannot answer this ultimate question about the resurrection.  Science can make us more comfortable and helps us to live longer and helps to find new ways to feed the world, but it is not the ultimate answer.  Politics is the same. Politics can make us more comfortable and make things work for our good and give us things, make us rich but it cannot answer the ultimate question about our ultimate destiny; Our destiny to meet death.  What then?  The West has gone out of its way to make you comfortable and live the hedonist way (not all).  It has failed on the ultimate question of life after death.  As you can see 1 Corinthians 15 is a central chapter in the whole of the New Testament that goes out of its way to answer this ultimate question. Next time I will start to go through this chapter.  Let us go through chapter 15 then and turn to Jesus Christ as our personal saviour who can bring us into a living relationship with God. 

You can also visit my other blog at; https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/       

Should women stay quiet in the church? Check out verses 34 to 35 to find out! 1 Corinthians 14

November 30, 2020

Verse 15; When praying with the spirit, obviously one is in an emotional state.  That emotional state might have come about by God doing something very important for you.  You have a feeling of indebtedness to God and perhaps you show this outwardly through speaking in tongues.  Although this is important to you and it is important to Paul as well.  For the sake of other people praying with understanding is also important.  If everyone speaks in tongues and there is no interpretation there will be a lack of understanding and perhaps confusion.

Verse 16; Paul understands that the mind is the seat of understanding and it is where the spiritual battle takes place.  Blessing in the spirit can show thanks and gratitude but it cannot give reasons for this thanks and gratitude.

A person can only really be built up if he understands why!

Verse 18; I don’t know what to make of this verse.  Paul says that he speaks in tongues more than all of them.  What does he mean? Should we take this literally or is Paul using irony.

CK Barrett translates it as; “than any of you”.

If Paul was using irony, it would be to say that their gift wasn’t so important. On the other hand, I think it makes better sense to take it literally.  F.F. Bruce cites 2 Corinthians 123 In which Paul was caught up to heaven somehow and saw things that he wasn’t allowed to talk about!  If anyone could brag Paul could brag.  Even from a natural point of view, being a rabbi, he would have known possibly a few different languages; Hebrew, Greek and being a Roman citizen possibly Latin and also what language was spoken in Tarsus (a local Greek, or Aramaic). This is just guessing work. 

Verse 19-23; Although Paul could brag, that wasn’t the main point. In the Church one ought to speak intelligible words.  Paul is interested in order not chaos.  We have the same problems today in Churches.  In their thinking and speech, they should be mature. Concerning the evil, he is basically saying ‘stay away from it’. In verse 21 Paul quotes a verse from the Old Testament and he says that this is a sign for unbelievers (outsiders from the church).  Prophecy (preaching kind of) is for the believers (Those in the church)

Verse 23; There isn’t much point in tongues when outsiders walk into the church.  From Paul’s point of view, they will say that you are crazy.

When God speaks there is repentance.  There is one church there is order there will be convictions of the mind and heart.

Verse 25; He or she will see their sin and fall before God declaring that God is truly in that place.

Verse 26 give order to the church at Corinth. 

  1. A psalm; a hymn of worship
  2. A teaching; learning something new
  3. A revelation; a disclosure from God
  4. A tongue and interpretation; from experience.

Verse 27 coming to the final parts of Pauls argument about prophecy and speaking in tongues; Paul does not condemn tongues, but it has to be in a framework of order, and it must be for edification.

Verse 27; Paul gives directions for when they can speak in tongues and interpret.

Verse 28; No interpreter = no tongues spoken in the Church, but he can speak in tongues to himself and to God. 

Prophets were around for quite a long time in the church and there were directions on how to spot false ones. The information can be found in the Didache an early church manuscript.

Verse 29; when a prophet speaks the others had to check what they were saying was from God.

Verse 30; When God discloses something, this has to be done in order. Letting someone else speak is important.

Verse 31; Prophecy isn’t the way it was understood in the first century.  William Barclay and Margaret E Thrall make the point that it is closer to preaching as we understand it today.  We actually touched on this earlier in the chapter.

Verse 32; Prophets are not robots; they can also make decisions.

Verse 33: Order in the churches is very important.  Paul has pushed this agenda very hard.

Verses 34 – 35; These two verses are seriously misunderstood I hope my explanation helps;

1 Corinthians 14 34-35 Women being silent in the church.

Before we begin let us look at the places in which Paul uses the ‘keeping silent’ phrase.  There were different types of people that had to say silent in the Church under certain conditions.   At first reading it seems on the surface that Paul was biased towards women, but this is reading a 21st century mindset on to a first century document.   Within the congregation probable inherited from Judaism that women were not allowed to read the scripture publicly. All that Paul did was to validate a law that was already accepted by the churches in the first century.  I think that sometimes feminists find a pink elephant in an empty room devoid of historicity.  This is one of those situations. 

28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 1 Corinthians 14:28

30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 1 Corinthians 14:30

34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 1 Corinthians 14:34

In the following article there is evidence to suggest that Paul wasn’t putting women down, only following a legal tradition accepted by first century Christians;

“An Inequality In Jesus’ time, women participated fully in the religious life of the community. This included participation in synagogue services and in the regular study sessions that were conducted in the synagogue’s bet midrash (house of study). There was no separation of the sexes in synagogues, and women could be counted as part of the required congregational quorum of ten adults. There was, however, one inequality. For social reasons, women were not allowed to read the Scriptures publicly.

In the Babylonian Talmud and the Tosefta, we find an early rabbinic (tannaic) ruling: “All are qualified to be among the seven [who read from the Torah in the synagogue on the Sabbath], even a minor or a woman; however, the sages ruled that a woman should not read from the Torah out of respect for the congregation.”21 This is apparently a reference to the same social custom or decorum that we find mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “Women should keep silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Torah states. If they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in the congregation.”22

Paul felt it necessary to issue his corrective because in early Christian congregations, following Jewish practice, it was permissible and customary to interrupt the preacher to ask questions. In first-century synagogues, a sermon followed the reading of Scripture. This exposition of Scripture was more a lesson than a sermon, and congregants were encouraged to ask questions. In fact, the asking of questions was so central to the rabbinic teaching method that often the preacher-teacher began his sermon by just seating himself and waiting until someone from the audience asked a question. There is a whole category of Jewish literature called xxx xxxxx (ye lam DE nu ra BE nu, May our teacher instruct us). It is similar to what we now call “Questions and Answers.” Today public speakers often employ a Question-and-Answer period, especially as a means of clarification at the end of a lecture. In first-century Jewish society this approach was usually the main method of instruction.

From Paul’s injunction we learn that at public religious gatherings of early Christians, women sat with men in the same hall, perhaps even next to their husbands or fathers. Paul’s command itself implies a mixed audience: there would have been nothing indecorous about a woman asking a question in a group composed entirely of women.

If there had been separation of men and women in first-century synagogues, it is likely that the early church would have continued the custom. However, the New Testament gives no indication that the early church had such a custom.” From https://www.cbeinternational.org/resource/article/priscilla-papers-academic-journal/place-women-first-century-synagogues

Verse 36; Paul challenges their pride that they think higher of themselves.  Verse 37; It is ok to be a Prophet but please follow Pauls advice. 

Verse 38; If anyone contradicts Paul and does not recognize what he said then they should not be recognized

Verse 39-40; Both prophecy (preaching) and speaking in tongues is allowed but desire prophecy more.  Make sure that everything in church is done in an orderly manner. 

I will return to this chapter at some point but before I finish, I found some of William Barclays words interesting here.  He said that in the early church they did not have professional ministers, and everyone had to take part somehow in the churches.  We may have gained something with having a main minister, but we might have also lost out.  Lost out because congregations don’t do much spadework like their predecessors from the early church.

You can also visit my other blog at; https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/       

An excursion from Corinthians in understanding Paul’s teaching on the mind.

November 27, 2020

Before I move on, I think that for Paul the ‘mind is very important’ in all his writings.  This is not an exhaustive study it is only on the word ‘nous’.

The Mind in Romans and Corinthians

As I said we need to look at Pauls use of nous (mind).  1/3 of all occurrences in Paul happens in Romans so it is an appropriate book to start from.  I am baffled with Galatians though.  He never uses it in Galatians.  I will save that question for a rainy day.  What we can do now is go through each verse and reflect on how mind is used there.  Please feel free to come to your own decisions about this.  You may come to conclusions I didn’t come to but that is ok.

Let us start;

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, Romans 1:28

God gave them over to a depraved mind.  This use is negative.  If you live in sin then one is going to be sinful because the influence of the world is sin, for example materialsm, greed and so on.

23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Romans 7:23

There is a spiritual battle here and the body is physical and its nature is obviously pulled in the sin direction like a magnet.

25  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

So, it is important to think about good things in Christ but there is a north pole and a south pole


Romans 7:25

6  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:6

The mind can be set in a direction by God’s grace

7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, Romans 8:7

The mind without God can only point to the south pole of sin.

27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:27

Only the Holy Spirit can set the mind. It is a gift of God for the mind to be set towards the North Pole God and holiness.

34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Romans 11:34

Only the Holy Spirit knows the mind of the Lord.

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may  prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

Your mind needs to be renewed and it can only be renewed by the Holy Spirit

16  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Romans 12:16

Being of one mind is also a group of minds working together for the glory of God

5  One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. Romans 14:5

You are in control of your own mind by the Holy Spirit.

5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5

Love is a  driving force for the mind as God is love.

10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no  divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Being on the same page with each other.

16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

By the Holy Spirit we can have the mind of Christ

14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 1 Corinthians 14:14

The mind needs to understand

15  What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. 1 Corinthians 14:15

Praying with understanding and without understanding are both ok but with the mind is important.  Obviously when you feel in your soul something one cannot always put it into words.  I think this is part of the human condition; empathy, feel, sympathy et al.

19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
1 Corinthians 14:19

Understanding with the mind is more important than just living with not knowing or feeling.

13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 2 Corinthians 5:13

Sound mind is having an appropriate level of understanding.

Reflection

So for Paul the mind is the seat of understanding.  This mind can be influenced either by the Holy Spirit or by the world.  The mind can also be a group of minds agreed on something.   It is the main human processor for making rational judgments.  Metanoia (repentance) literally means change of mind.  The Holy Spirit gives us faith so that we have the capability to turn away from sin and to God.  Once we have accepted Christ as our saviour then we are grateful for his love towards us and we reciprocate this love back to God by worshiping Him and loving our neighbour through practical deeds (Ethics).

This is my basic understanding but there are many other words that Paul uses but I will leave this here.   We can now return to 1 Corinthians because we have an idea of how Paul uses the word mind.  I think knowing in an appropriate way and making rational decisions was very important for St Paul

You can also visit my other blog at; https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/           

The Gospel is Public Knowledge and when someone comes into a Church they should be able to understand what you say. We are not Gnostics there is no secret knowledge that make you into meta-human beings.

November 20, 2020

20th November 2020

6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? 7 Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? 8 For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. 11 If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. 12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. 1 Corinthians 14:6-12

Verse 6; So his talk of edifying the Church is Pauls primary concern.  Tongues does not edify unless it comes with an interpretation.  He lays down for key words.

  • Revelation
  • Knowledge
  • Prophecy
  • Teaching

The above are important for Paul because it is through these ways of sharing that the church can be built up.  Paul is very concerned about understanding with the ‘mind’.   You just have to take my word for it for the moment but we will touch on this theme later.

Verse 7 – 9; He talks about music and the importance of the distinctive sounds.  This is a very important example because he is basically saying that tongues on its own cannot build the church because the elements from verse 6 are missing. 

Verse 10; Paul makes the point that there are many languages in the world, and they all have a meaning. I inverted the meaning, but the point is made.

Barbarian basically means a foreigner who cannot speak each other’s language hence there is no understanding between you and the Barbarian.  The context is tongues so his meaning must point to the lack of edification between brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Verse 12; So he is basically saying is that the gifts the believers need to seek have to touch on the list from verse 6;

Revelation; Knowledge; Prophecy; Teaching

The Gospel is no secret knowledge.  It is public knowledge that everyone ought to understand.  Obviously in Corinth there were aesthetic groups and some of these groups would have believed in this secret knowledge that only the initiated could take part in.  This type of knowledge has never been part of the Gospel.  Even with the gift of tongues, Paul I think emphasizes its meaning to you personally before God but apart from interpretation it has no part in the edification of the church. As a spiritual gift it has a place, but it is at the bottom of the list of importance.  Secret knowledge is a ‘no, no!’ because the New Testament is wary about this.  All you need to do is look at Johns Gospel and 1 John to realize why secret knowledge was a danger to the historicity of Christ.  The movement was known as Gnosticism and it took on various shapes and forms. 

Verse 13; Interpretation leads to edification because others understand what has been said.  Interpretation means that it is public knowledge that is open to all so that they can question what has been said

Verse 14; It is not good that the mind doesn’t understand what is going on.

Before moving on to other verses I feel the need to do a Pauline Study on the mind.  The reason for this is that the term for me is loaded with inuendo.  As an example, a simple word such as metanoia in NT Greek literally means a change of mind.  In English meta can be used in various forms such as meta-physics. Beyond the physical realm.

Preaching (prophecy) is more important than tongues but does tongues have a value or can it be misused?

November 13, 2020

So let us look at some of the Greek in the first two verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 14;

1 Διώκετε τὴν ἀγάπην, ζηλοῦτε δὲ τὰ πνευματικά, μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύητε. 1 Corinthians 14:1

  1. Διώκετε τὴν ἀγάπην Seek after love (the goal is love)
  2. δὲ τὰ πνευματικά and desire the spiritual (gifts)
  3. μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύητε  but especially (mallon) that you might prophecy

The first part of verse one the verb diokete seek   is imperative 2nd person plural.  It is a command that Paul gives.

The second verb ζηλοῦτε desire (zealous) is also in the imperative and is therefore a command.

Mallon; especially or more is a comparative… but linked to prophecy. 

Prophecy  is in the subjunctive  and active (in the now ).  It means may prophecy

So, what is Paul saying?

My paraphrase after all the reading;

Make love your goal and at the same time be zealous for spiritual gifts and more so for the gift of prophecy.

In the first verse tongues doesn’t even get a look in!  

Why?

Paul will spell it out and he isn’t against tongues but tongues (ecstatic speaking) doesn’t build the church.  This was the problem. Let us continue looking at verse 2

2 ὁ γὰρ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις λαλεῖ ἀλλὰ θεῷ, οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἀκούει, πνεύματι δὲ λαλεῖ μυστήρια· 1 Corinthians 14:2

2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 1 Corinthians 14:2

Obviously verse two is interesting that speaking in a tongue is seen as speaking to God and it is a mystery.  At the time of Paul, a lot of the cults in Greece and Turkey would have been classified as mystery religions.  One had to be initiated into the rite of a particular god.  Paul was using language that they understood because everyone inside the church and outside the church used this language. 

Christianity is not a mystery religion; it is a public religion that all can understand.  It is the antithesis of mystery.   I don’t have a problem with tongues being used in this way and used in one’s own devotional times, the problem is though, if no one understands the message of the Gospel in church. There is a danger that when tongues are used that people want to know the ‘secret’.  Could this also be a danger in all tongues speaking churches that there is a hankering for a mystery that God wants to share.  Could the ordinary church goer be misled and give over hard cash for some secret?

So, we have had Pauls premise that prophecy is superior in the first five verses.  This hasn’t changed but now he is going to go into an example.   I think the key word here would be ‘clarity’.  Tongues speaking at Corinth wasn’t clear for the outsider.  It seems very strange to me that Paul starts talking about bugle sounds and so forth, but I think the tongues here is in a particular genre type.  The genre has come from the Hellenic world.

Encyclopaedia Britannica says;

“Glossolalia, also called speaking in tongues, (from Greek glōssa, “tongue,” and lalia, “talking”), utterances approximating words and speech, usually produced during states of intense religious experience. The vocal organs of the speaker are affected; the tongue moves, in many cases without the conscious control of the speaker; and generally unintelligible speech pours forth. Speakers and witnesses may interpret the phenomenon as possession by a supernatural entity, conversation with divine beings, or the channelling of a divine proclamation or inspiration.” Taken from https://www.britannica.com/topic/glossolalia

In Corinth speaking in tongues was a norm inside and outside of the Church especially I think in the Temples.  The question I suppose is what spirit is controlling the speaker.  Obviously tongues of a different genre could be seen at Peters proclamation of the Gospel where everyone understood him!  Paul could not deny tongues as the Holy Spirit has also used this as a vehicle to proclaim the Gospel.  This Apostolic Tongues was very special, and it was a sign and the people literally understood everything the Apostles said; as the Holy Spirit was the interpreter of the tongues.    

In Corinth tongues speaking compared to the Apostolic version was a mere shadow of the real thing.  Nether the less St Paul did not condemn it.  This was seen as a gift from the Holy Spirit.  For the user of tongues in their own devotion, there wasn’t a problem. The other difference was that; in Acts the Apostles, Peter spoke with all of his faculties, there was no loss of the conscious mind.  The tongues in Corinth was the opposite; they would have gone into uncontrollable bliss (experience).  It would have been closer to how tongues were spoken in the Pagan Temples but sanctified tongues. The type of tongues speaking from my point of view is that it is only a copy of the real thing but still within the framework of the Holy Spirit.               

You can also visit my other blog at; https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/                                              

Paul, Chrysostom, Calvin and speaking in tongues

November 10, 2020

Before we dig deeper which I have, let us see what some Bible commentators have said which represent quite a large section of the Church.  Historically in about ad 400 Chrysostom had a few words also to say about the gift.  Have they any words of wisdom for us as it seems to be the case that in various parts of the church anything goes, and I think this is not healthy and comes from a lack of understanding.  It is dangerous I think to read out of the text our culture or to read into the text our culture.  God speaks to us by his Holy Spirit and we must be humble and keen to learn.

Calvin wasn’t negative about tongues, but it had to be in its rightful place.  Prophecy was more important because it edifies the Church.  Tongues only edifies the person who does it and it is speaking to God.  Prophecy is speaking God’s message to the people.  As said earlier, I agree with Margaret. E Thrall that prophecy was more like preaching.  In verse 3 the functions of prophecy were “for edification and exhortation and consolation”.  Tongues doesn’t do any of that.  Tongues was in a sense ecstatic speech and it differed from the miracle of Acts of the Apostles when Peter preached, and many were converted. As Paul said this tongues that was spoken at Corinth was speaking to God. It didn’t touch on edification and exhortation and consolation.

The early church fathers were not negative either but an interesting thought from Chrysostom AD 407;  

“The Corinthians thought that speaking in tongues was a great gift because it was the one which the apostles received first, and with a great display. But this was no reason to think it was the greatest gift of all. The reason the apostles got it first was because it was a sign that they were to go everywhere, preaching the gospel. “ https://catenabible.com/1cor/14

He goes on to say;

“At this point he makes a comparison between the gifts, and lowers that of the tongues, showing it to be neither altogether useless, nor very profitable by itself. For in fact they were greatly puffed up on account of this, because the gift was considered to be a great one. And it was thought great because the Apostles received it first, and with so great display; it was not however therefore to be…”

Tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit but unfortunately for the Corinthians they were too puffed up and only thought about themselves.  Anyone seeking any gift of the Holy Spirit needs to start from humility but unfortunately today many churches prioritise this gift and they are as puffed up as much as the Corinthians.  Order in the church is very important but I get confused when I see ‘new gifts introduced’ which are not found in the Bible.  The Toronto blessing for example its characteristics;

Freshwind band leading worship at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in 2008

The Toronto Blessing has become synonymous within charismatic Christian circles for terms and actions that include an increased awareness of the God’s love, religious ecstasy, external observances of ecstatic worship, being slain in the Spirit, uncontrollable laughter, emotional and/or physical euphoria, crying, healing from emotional wounds, healing of damaged relationships, and electric waves of the spirit.[1][4] “Holy laughter”, as a result of overwhelming joy, was a hallmark manifestation,[5] and there were also some reports of instances of participants roaring like lions or making other animal noises.[6][7] Leaders and participants present in these services claim that most of these manifestations, including some people roaring like lions, were physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, while some Pentecostal and charismatic leaders believe these were the counterfeits of the Spirit as is mentioned in the biblical passage of 2 Thessalonians 2:9.[8][9] In December, 1994, Toronto Life Magazine declared TAV as Toronto’s most notable tourist attraction for the year.[10]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_Blessing#Characteristics

The Azuza street phenomenon of 1908 was different and it claimed that this was the tongues found in Scripture and it is possible to argue for it.  The Pentecostal movement was born from this.   However, this phenomenon from Toronto has to perhaps be rejected as unscriptural.  In other words, the experience is not found in the Bible at all.

Paul made the point that there has to be order in the Church.  Has your church thought through these issues?  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is God and He gives good gifts to his children not ‘electric shocks’.  One needs to be careful with the religious ecstasy as well.  Even though Paul himself had such as experience in 2 Corinthians 12 he would not put his name to it;

12 Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations [a]of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. NASB

Boasting is dangerous and it can puff up the selfish human Spirit.  All I am saying is that we need to be careful before our Holy God and give him the worship that is due to him alone.  None-charismatics will reject both Azuza Street and the so-called Toronto blessing.  I have a Pentecostal background in my faith but unfortunately, I have seen too much greed and unprofessional practices.   I used to enjoy the AOG.  The preaching of the word was central and Bible studies on top with the prayer meetings.  In a lot of these Churches; Where is the Bible? Where is the prayer meeting?  Tongues as a gift shouldn’t be pushed out but it ought not to be rejected either. 

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Persue Love second part of 1 Corinthians 4 verses 1 -5

November 8, 2020

Of course, love is more important, so sometimes both sides will disagree with me but remember Love.  Paul is so right for putting that chapter in the middle of this conversation.  The master Pastor at work weaving a tapestry of love by the Holy Spirit.   We can disagree God has given us a mind and that is so important. But let our minds be tempered with God’s grace and his love. 

6th November 2020

So, let us look at the first few verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 14 verses 1 to 5

1  Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men  . 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. 1 Corinthians 14:1-5

We will start from a general reading and then get more particular as we go deeper.  The first assumption we can make is that we ought to pursue love. This is Pauls command but even when he says yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts.  If we then jump to verse 3, we see that that the gift isn’t for any selfish reason but to edify others.  In love there is an I, you, and a them, it is relational. In verse 4 Paul spells it out and talks about the edification of the Church.  This is a long way from the earlier chapters of Corinthians where they were only interested in their own little groups.

When we look at prophecy Paul here in these verses gives it three functions

  1. Edification
  2. Exhortation
  3. Consolation

So, in whatever church even today Pauls advice is really important, and he lays down three principles that ought to be followed in any prophecy.  It is interesting that he didn’t make telling the future one of them.   This is very interesting because sermons in traditional churches would follow these three points and yet in a Charismatic setting the three points above would be a locus for encouraging the believers to come closer to God.  Could the understanding of prophecy in Corinth have a wider scope than the 21st century?  I don’t know the answer to that, but the ancient world certainly has a place for prophecy inside the church and outside of the church.  This was part of the culture and it a historical fact. 

The next general overview of these verse also talks about tongues.  I’m not interested in the question of whether they died out or not, you need to come to your own conclusions about that. 

  1. Tongues edifies the self and prophecy edifies the Church.
  2. Unless tongues have an interpreter

The main point I think is are other believers other than yourself being built up in the faith.  This is what Paul is getting at.  Love shows greater esteem to the other.  Isn’t that so?  It is a fact that Paul was a little upset in the early parts of the letter in which he has told them off. So however, your church works;

  1. through the sermon (A traditional reformed church type)
  2. or prophecy and the sermon (Pentecostal type)
  3. or tongues with interpretation and a sermon (Charismatic type)
  4. Or no sermon at all (I certainly think this is not healthy for a church// new age type)
  5. Sacramental, sermon, tongues with interpretation (Some type of neo- orthodox, for example a local Church of England type)

I’m not making any judgements but as you can see the Church has rich and diverse traditions.  It is not for me to say which is right. When one looks at the varied backgrounds of Christians; How could I ever say this is right or that is right.  We ought to agree on one thing though.  The Bible as Holy Scripture needs to be looked at and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can get closer to God.

We will look at the Greek text of verses 1 – 5 next time. It just takes a long time to dig into the text so patience is needed!

my other blog is https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/

The Hermeneutic of Love, Introductory note to 1 Corinthians 14 before we start.

November 5, 2020

4th of November 2020

Introductory note to 1 Corinthians 14

As we said earlier, this world of the Corinthians seems very strange to the European mind.  Things are going on and as far as intellect is concerned, we can indeed say we only know in part.  It is so important to try to piece together the background to this letter without demeaning Holy Scripture because that is what it is.  Paul has given us the tools to walk through this maze.  The most important thing he has reminded us is the importance of love;

  1. Here we have a bunch of Christians who couldn’t even agree on a lot of things. 
  2. Paul reminds them of the importance of love.

Love is the glue that holds the church together.  Love is something that can overlook wrongs. Love makes a friend stick to you closer that a brother or sister.  Love makes the other person more esteemed than yourself. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.   Every person has baggage from their old life, but the baggage is not always anti.  Culture is not necessarily a bad thing; it just means things in that culture are done in a particular manner.  It isn’t a sin to come from a culture.  Everyone has a culture even anti-cultures, but I don’t want to go down that road just yet. So, let us remind ourselves where we came from.  In 1 Corinthians we had our Lord show us the power of love, even to die on the cross so that we wouldn’t die of the second death. We then went into 1 Corinthians 11 and we looked at the spiritual gifts.  We found out that perhaps the Corinthians at times could be a little proud.  Let us not get proud either because we are not any different to them.  1 Corinthians 13 was also about love and what love is all about.  Paul spelled it out to the Corinthians! Are we listening to the words of St Paul? Now we are going to embark on chapter 14 and we need to move with humility otherwise we will ‘miss the whole of the heavenly glory’ (Bruce Lee).  I don’t really care if you believe or don’t believe in the gifts but please stay humble before the Holy Spirit. Love should be a driving force not the gifts.  We need to get this the right way around. Isn’t this so?  O Charismatic person is love more important than the gift. Strict Brethren believer; Is love more important than thinking the gifts died out?

The Timeline for Faith, Hope and Love.

November 1, 2020

1st November 2020

Let us begin by reading the following from 1 Corinthians 139-1313.

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:9-13 NASB

Verse 9

Love is still the theme but there is still a lot to unpack here.  We don’t know everything and because we don’t know everything, we can only say a certain amount. 

Verse 10

Teleios (end, maturation) This partial knowledge we have will one day give way to perfection or maturation, so that we understand everything.  The word hope in verse 13 is not an accident.  Hope is about the future.  Hope will one day be turned into the now and there will be no need for hope anymore. Because we will be there in God’s presence for all eternity.

Verse 11

With this example Paul is showing some type of timeline.  Where on the timeline can we be found as Christians?

Verse 12

Again, he speaks about a mirror.  We don’t know everything yet but hopefully one day we will.  One day we will see Jesus face to face and then we will understand but until then our knowledge is incomplete although the Lord’s knowledge is always complete.

Verse 13

Calvin makes a comment about this verse;

“Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” Calvin. (I haven’t found the source of this quote yet but I found it at; https://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_corinthians/13-13.htm It is very true, love indeed is the second greatest commandment and we are expected to show love to all our neighbours.  It is true also that faith is personal, and hope is personal, although hope can also be understood in a collective manner.  More thinking is needed here.

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The True Lover; 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verses 4 – 8

October 25, 2020

What love is?

Last time we looked at what love is not. Now we will look at what love is.  Before we go deeper, I think it is important to look at the idea of the nature of love.  In the English language love can be used in many different ways and it is not always love.  In the Greek language there are a few words for love

  • Eros, or sexual passion
  • Philia, or deep friendship
  • Storge  (Love of family, ptriotic love) https://conservapedia.com/Storge ()
  • Ludus, or playful love
  • Agape, or love for everyone
  • Pragma, or longstanding love (modern idea)
  • Philautia, or love of the self (Two types; healthy love of self or narcissistic)

Taken from (www.yesmagazine.org/health-happiness/2013/12/28/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life/)

The type of love Paul means is sacrificial love, putting others before yourself.

Let us now read 1 Corinthians 134-8 ;

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7   bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

So, there could be two types of people the Hater or the True Lover.  We as well as the Corinthians have choices to make.  I have personified the above text negatively and positively and this was the result;

The Hater

  1.  I am impatient and want things now; I am unkind and seriously jealous; I brag a lot and I am full of myself; At times I act disgracefully no matter what people may think;  I am selfish and always want my own way; I am provoked easily and get into verbal or physical fights regularly; If someone takes advantage of me I will make them pay for it; If someone breaks the law and steals something, I think good for them, I wish I could get away with that too.  I am a compulsive liar and if someone crosses me they are going to know about it;  I don’t trust anyone; Hope is for weaklings; if some one does me wrong they are going to pay me back in kind and then some more on top!

The True Lover

  1. I am very patient even when it hurts me and makes me sad; I always show a kind act, if someone is hungry I will buy them a sandwich and put them in contact with the Salvation Army;  If I here something that is a little bit  off I keep quiet about it so that I can help them on the straight and narrow;  I am always doing the right thing and keep on the straight and narrow with humility; If someone does me wrong I will pray for them but I won’t look to pay them back because that isn’t me; When I see someone break the law and steals something then I feel sad and I pray about it; If someone want a fight I try peaceful means and if I do get hit I try to keep my composure even though I know the martial arts well, I understand the importance of wisdom; I like people who are always honest with me even if it means I get hurt sometimes; I will go the extra mile to help people out;  I have a great hope that I will one day be in heaven and I put up with people doing bad things to me on a regular basis although I am no weakling.

The question is; Paul is asking the Corinthians what type of person they want to be. A loving person or an unloving person.  They had their faults at Corinth and the majesty of the second type of person is what Paul wanted the Corinthians to become. The second type of person is only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit.  I personified this love in verses 4 -8 to find out what Paul was really getting at.  One does not need to understand the Greek to get the feel of Pauls meaning.  It is now your call and your choice. 

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When there is no love! 1 Corinthians 13

October 16, 2020

Once the late professor Stanton said to me, “A text out of context is a pretext”. (1 Corinthians in English lectures KCL about 1995).  So, I think a general discussion about the letter is important.  From the beginning of the book we learned that this group of people liked to argue, “I am of Paul, I am of Cephas, I am of Apollos” and so on.  Each group thought they were the best.  It doesn’t surprise me that there is a chapter on love. Having had discussions about moral/ethical issues he moved on to the Last Supper in which Christ showed ultimate love for us by dying on a cross.  He then began talking about Spiritual gifts (gifts from the Holy Spirit). Right smack bang in the middle of these gifts there is a chapter on love.  After the gifts Paul will move on to talk about the resurrection.  Paul is taking the believers of Corinth from their sinful earthy ways to the glorious heights of the Gospel.  He will finish the book by AOB (any other business)

Let us read the first three verses and reflect on it;

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NASB

IfExtreme activityPlus no love = A complete waste
  If   Able to speak divine and human languages.+ no love= Nothing achieved
  If    Prophet who knows everything.+ no love= Nothing achieved
  IfMost powerful faith+ no love= Nothing achieved
If  Giving all wealth away+ no love= Nothing achieved
IfDie for a cause+ no love= Nothing achieved
The Logic of the first three verses

I like the logic in these verses as we see Paul the great master of letter writing takes us to another dimension.  Let us break it down a little

It seems strange to a person born in the 21st century that Paul speaks in this way but let us remember that this was written approximately 2000 years ago.  It was a very different world, and this was the world of Rome.  They had many gods who the people consulted for advice.  Priestesses’ of orders would have claimed to be in contact with the gods.  They spoke in tongues; they believed the gods spoke to them so they could give advice to people how they should live.  They would have had a deep belief in their divine heroes.  Sometimes they would give their wealth away and even be willing to die for their god.  This was commonplace in a lot of Roman cities especially Corinth.  Poseidon’s Temple can still be seen. So why did I come to these conclusions you may ask. 1 Don’t be surprised then that this culture can also be found in the Church but here it has become a sanctified culture.  The believers are no longer under the influence of Paganism but under the Gospel.

A general introduction to the relationship of faith and love before proceeding to 1 Cor 13 proper

October 12, 2020

1 Corinthians chapter 13

Where should I start? God is love and being created in his image should love not be the goal of faith? So, we need to start to open up this glorious chapter.   The chapter is full of beautiful language it seems a long way away from earlier book in which there are all these factions vying for who’s preacher or teacher is the greatest.  Paul pushes in the opposite direction and his love for the Corinthians is to bring them to maturity as Christians. 

31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
   And I show you a still more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:31

At the end of chapter 12 and halfway through the discussion on gifts we have this excellent verse.   Without this ‘way’ the gifts are no different to the Pagan use of their gifts of the ‘spirit/spirits’.

The way of love! As Bavinck says, ‘the fruit of faith is love’. (Pages 68- 69 of his ethics). 

  1. I think there are different strands we need to look at as a general introduction to the relationship of faith and love and we will do this through Herman Bavinck the great Dutch theologian (What Bavinck says).
  2. Our second stage will be to go through 1 Corinthians 13 and look at especially how he speaks in the negative and those key words.  Perhaps these words will give us a deeper understanding and goal found in Corinthians (What the Greek says).
  3. Our third stage will be to ask the questions; Why this chapter on love bang smack in the middle of the gifts and prophecies; There is a reason (The order and topic of love).
  4. Any other findings (any other Business)
  5. Conclusions

Stage 1

What Herman Bavinck Says

The following quotation is taken from;

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, created and fallen and converted Humanity, edited by John Bolt.

I hope John Bolt doesn’t mind me using this quote but I seriously would urge anyone to read it who is interested in the relationship of faith and love. 

Page 68

The fruit of faith is love:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good Conscience

and a sincere faith. (1 Tim. 1:5)

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar

and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love

of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he

abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:44

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything,

but only faith working through love. (Gal. 5:6)

So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say,

“You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works,

and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18)

Page 69

Similarly, “every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  

A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good

Fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the

fire” (Matt. 7:17=195 cf. 12:33; Luke 3:9; 6:43- 45). A tree is known by its fruit.

The examples of people given in Scripture also demonstrate the same connection

between faith and deeds: Lydia (Acts 16:14-15); Tabitha (Acts 9:36);

Cornelius (Acts 10:2, 48); Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8); the church at Colossae

(Col. 1:4); the church at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 1:3). New birth brings about

changed lives: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were

sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the

Spirit of our God™ (1 Cor. 6:11). Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22); faith

in Christ Jesus results in love for the saints (Eph. 1:15). Paul’s prayer for the

Ephesians is that their new faith may bring forth love, “that according to the

riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through

his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through

faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to

comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height

and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that

you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16—19; cf. Col. 1:4).

Love is the highest virtue, the bond of perfection: “And above all these put

on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).

So, Scripture teaches that also subjectively religion and morality cohere

intimately and inseparably. The one demonstrates itself and is authenticated

in the other. The one is the fruit of the other.

5. The church of all ages has taught this, including Gregory the Great,

Bernard of Clairvaux, Lactantius, Augustine, Luther, and Calvin.” Zwingli

showed the relation more psychologically and ethically. For Zwingli, even

the good works of the unbelievers were the fruit of faith. In answer to the

question “What are good works?” the Heidelberg Catechism (Q&A 91) gives

this answer: “Only those which are done out of true faith, conform to God’s

law, and are done for God’s glory; and not those based on our own opinion or

human tradition.” And this is what all the Reformed teach. There is no morality

except what proceeds from faith, but also there is no faith without morality.”

The problem is in a lot of theologies is that we get lots about faith but it seems to be disjointed on how we live this life in God’s way.  This is why Bavincks ethics advice is so important because we have a deeper understanding of this faith love rationale.  Galatians 5 6,another book of Paul’s, he says, ‘faith working through love’.  He then gives examples of people who after conversion lives ‘new lives.’  We are not any different!  Then he quotes;

15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, Ephesians 1:15

Then Bavinck quotes;

14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:14

‘put on’ is not in the Greek here but is implied by context.  I think you can see the link between faith and love.  There can be no sacred love without true faith and the outworking of faith is works and love in that order.  Faith is a gift and it comes from A God who is described by John as ‘Love’.  At the end Bavinck says;

There is no morality except what proceeds from faith, but also there is no faith without morality.”

So now we have a deeper understanding of the relationship of faith and love and how it works.  This was important because as we go through this chapter, we have an inkling into Pauls use of faith and love in his other writings.   This is where higher criticism fails: It tries to dissect each text individually and think of the books and letters as separate entities. How Many St Paul’s were there?  There is only one Paul, there are not five or six Pauls. I am stating the obvious, but this needs to be stressed.  The man Paul directed by the Holy Spirit will come to a sanctified understanding of love.

Pauls analogy of the body for the Church!

October 3, 2020

One Body

‘Each One’ comes up a lot in 1 Corinthians and the questions is why (13x in the letter).  We need to take note of this as it an important syntax that Paul uses.  In no other letter of Paul or other writers does the words each one come up so often.  This underlying theme of unity and division is something that runs through the whole of the book and sometimes we might not realize that.

The list;

  1. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:12
  2. 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 1 Corinthians 3:5
  3. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 1 Corinthians 3:8
  4. 7  Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.
    1 Corinthians 7:7
  5. 17 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7:17
  6. 24 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.
    1 Corinthians 7:24
  7. 21 for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 1 Corinthians 11:21
  8. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:7
  9. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
    1 Corinthians 12:11
  10. 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 1 Corinthians 12:18
  11. 26  What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26
  12. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 1 Corinthians 14:27
  13. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 1 Corinthians 16:2

This is important because Paul is separating each member of the Church. The Holy Spirit deals and gives gifts on an individual basis.  The problem in this letter tends to be that some people think they are better than others.  Paul needs to change this arrogant mindset to one of humility and get the Corinthians to realize that they are ‘all’ important and that it is time to ditch their divisions.  Paul can only now turn to talk about ‘the body’  which is a fitting and suitable topic by Paul for the Corinthians.

Before we turn to the text of 1 Corinthians; What does body actually mean?

The Greek is σῶμα sōma and it means body.  We need to find the context from the passage.  The passage that we are going to read uses words such as feet hands unseemly parts.  It sounds like the human body so in his example we interpret body as any human body.


12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For  by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 28 And God has  appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then  miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
And I show you a still more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:11-31 From Olive tree.

My interpretation of this would be that Paul is using analogy of the body to explain that all members of the church are equally important.   In that sense perhaps the ‘the spiritual gifts of prophecy, tongues etc’ was room for Paul to be concerned with the pride in the church; that some members, because they practiced such and such gifts were better and more important than the other members.  This goes on in the Church today. In some churches it might not be spiritual gifts, but it could be something else; ‘I am the treasurer of the church and everyone needs me’ at the expense of the cleaner.  In Pentecostal churches and other charismatic churches this is directly relevant and also the other things I said that was aimed at a non-charismatic readership of my writings. 

Going back to whether or not Paul is using analogy I found this

‘The point needed to be made in a concrete way and

the body analogy achieves this by showing first that diversity is

necessary in the body, and then that the members of the body are

interdependent and interrelated.

Gale10 locates several elements in the analogy which evidence the

influence of the situation on its use. Among these are:

(i) The inclusion of v. 13 after the initial analogical statement

in v. 12 shows that something other than the picture of the

human body occupied the central position in Paul’s mind.

This was an explanation of how this unity in diversity came

into being.

(ii) Reflection on the physical body would not suggest even the

possibility that one member or another might not “belong

to the body” (vv. 15, 16.).

(iii) The idea of discord is not a possibility within the physical

body (v. 25).

(iv) Members of the physical body cannot “have the same care

for one another” (v. 25), nor strictly speaking can they

“suffer together” or “rejoice together” (v. 26).

All this indicates that Paul has introduced the analogy for a

polemical purpose.’

Brian Daines, Evangelical quarterly 1978;

I think analogy is a better word to describe the body than metaphor because in a metaphor the idea is to use one idea to make with comparisons with another.  It is up to you to decide on that; I’m now going to dive into the text and see where it takes us.

12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12

The general word used for body here is soma (body).  The church of Christ is one body, one Church. The number one (εἷς heis) is used; One body = One Christ.  Paul is emphasising the importance of the unity of the church   and we haven’t even left verse 12. I have an interesting question here though; Why does Paul give us ‘so also is Christ?’  οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστός 1 Corinthians 12:12  So also is Christ.  Maybe a better way to read this might be thus indeed is the Christ.

Christ is the head of the Church let us leave it at that for now.

I’m also interested in the switch verse 12 – 13

οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστός· 13 καὶ γὰρ ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι ἡμεῖς πάντες εἰς ἓν σῶμα ἐβαπτίσθημεν 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

so also is Christ. 13 For  by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

Something is missing here in the NASB and has been left untranslated.  The small ‘kai’ which is usually a conjunction ‘and’.  However, when it is used with ‘gar= for’ then the ‘and’ turns into indeed or something like it(adverbial).  I looked at a few translations and they all don’t add that little extra.  I think the reason might be that the idea of ‘indeed’ came with the earlier ‘kai’.  The NIV from my point of view was a disaster in translation;

13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.’ Taken from Bible Gateway.

The words ‘so as to form’ is not in the Greek text at all.  Dynamic equivalence is acting more as a commentary on the text than a translation.   The body of Christ is already here we don’t need the Bible translators to tell us the obvious.  I suppose that a more literal and wood text will protect scripture more.  If one starts adding a little here and a little there, there is room for religious cults to mince up the Holy Scriptures and give us a fairy tale.

The Giver of Gifts is Holy and therefore let us reciprocate this great love for the church and look beyond ourselves in love.

September 25, 2020

Now I decided to go over this section again.  I felt that it was important to look at some key words that can help us get deeper into the text.  So, the first thing I will do is just give a word list based on the text below.  Once we have gotten acquainted with the words, we can start to find out what Paul was really trying to say to the Corinthians.  When I do give the list of words don’t fret.  Like in English a word can have several meanings or interpretations.   But I felt it was important for you to see other ways it has been translated in the Bible.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of  miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the  distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

EnglishGreek
Varieties  3xg1243. διαίρεσις diairesis ; from 1244; a division:–   varieties(3).
Gifts x2g5486. χάρισμα charisma ; from 5483; a gift of grace, a free gift:–
favor(1), free gift(3), gift(5), gifts(7), spiritual gift(1).

Ministriesg1248. διακονία diakonia ; from 1249; service, ministry:–
ministries(1), ministry(19), mission(1), preparations(1), relief(1), serve(1), service(7), serving(2), support(1).
giveng1325. δίδωμι didōmi ; redupl. from the root δο- do-; to give (in various senses lit. or fig.):–
add(1), allow(2), bestowed(4), cause(2), commanded*(1), dealing(1), drew(1), gave(79), give(122), given(117), gives(14), giving(12), grant(15), granted(10), granting(2), leave(1), make(1), offer(2), pass(1), pay(5), permitted(1), pour(1), poured(1), produce(1), produces(1), producing(1), put(6), puts(1), putting(1), show(1), struck*(1), utter(1), venture*(1), yielded(3).

So in verse 4 Paul  says that there  are a varieties of gifts.  It just means that there are various gifts.  The word for gift here is χάρισμα charisma which is to do with grace. In other words a free gift from God that has positive implications and is supposed to benefit the whole church.   I went on to Wikipedia and I found it interesting that this word come from being happy (from χαίρω (khaírō, “I am happy”)) + -μα (-ma).) . 

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%CF%87%CE%AC%CF%81%CE%B9%CF%83%CE%BC%CE%B1

Anyway, we should be happy that God loves us so much that he meets all our needs.  From the point of view of the 21st century however, people can interpret this in a selfish manner.  For example, this is a gift for me.  God wants to bless the whole church and not just the individual although I am not saying that you are not important.  When you are given a gift what do you do with it?  Perhaps you were given some money for some new clothes; Did you spend it on alcohol instead?  The gifts that are given here are by God, so we ought to show them the greatest of respect for we stand on holy ground.  If we stand on holy ground, then the gifts must be holy and must be used in a holy manner and how the Giver intended them to be used.

These gifts whatever they are those mentioned here and elsewhere have been given by the Holy Spirit for the Church.  Not any one person has all the gifts.  They are shared out.  Paul keeps saying ‘to another’ 4 or 5 times. 

The gift that has the most contention I suppose in the 21st century outside of Pentecostal and charismatic circles is tongues. Glossolalia from my point of view ought to be understood as a divine language rather than a foreign language.  Why do I come to this conclusion?  The reason is that as well as Christian glossolalia there were other mystic religions at the time that used it.  It was part of the ancient universal culture of the Middle East at the time. 

This article is interesting even if you don’t agree with it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossolalia

I don’t claim to really understand what is going on in these chapters but I can say that God is bigger than us, his love is bigger than us, and his gifts are bigger than we could imagine or think.  God became a man and died in our place so that we could be in an eternal relationship with the divine.  What a blessing. Let us look beyond the gifts to our great Trinitarian God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Where does wisdom and knowledge in the Church come from?

September 20, 2020

9/20/2020

8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 1 Corinthians 12:8

It is God the Holy Spirit who gives wisdom and knowledge to the Church through its members. Whether we take these words literally depending on our church tradtions; We can agree that the Holy Spirit shares out this wisdom and knowledge so, let us give God the glory and not puff up our own pride.

I want to say a few more words on a more general topic concerning chapters 12 through to chapter 14. For a lot of teachers of the Bible it causes them problems because they don’t know what to do with the spiritual gifts so they are denied. We cannot escape the fact that they are found in every Bible and it is God’s word. So are there any keys in the text itself to help us interpet these things. I think Paul really helps us here and let us not forget how 1 Corinthians actually started. There were different groups in the Church and this caused a lot of confusion for the church. Paul is laying down ground rules for the edification of the Church. Tongues was not a problem in the first century as it was practiced all over the ancient world especially in the temples, Roman and Greek. It is only natural for this culture to also be found in the Church among the believers as a mirror of society. This was not a problem; The problem was that their was a lack of discipline.

The Holy Spirit likes order as the text says and Paul lays this out. For me, my opinion; 1 Corinthians was an introduction to the spritual gifts and how they are used in the Church. Chapter 13 is the glue that gives cohesian to everything. Let us not forget chapter 11 in all of this as the launch pad for the rest of 1 Corinthians is Holy Communion. Be aware though that tongues was usually the last in the list of spiritual gifts unless there was an interpretor

Whatever our view on these verses as Christians we ought to love one another as a reality in our lives. We will continue on these verses.

Just a short note; I have decided to slow down on my blogs as I am studying and working at the moment. However I will attempt to still write two or three times a Week. Thanks a lot for following my blogs and feel free to leave mesages or even follow.

God the Holy Spirit manifests Himself in the believers for the good of all in the Church.

September 19, 2020

9/19/2020

7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:7

We ought to remember the Holy Spirit gives these manifestations for the common good in the Church.  We do not force the Holy Spirit.  The problem I have in a lot of this is that some pastor somewhere comes up with some ‘new gift’ and he says that this is for the 21 century.   Test everything by Scripture and prayer with humility. There are too many false prophets out there claiming this and that.

The same God who works all things in all!

September 18, 2020

9/18/2020

6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 1 Corinthians 12:6

I like this verse.  The reason I like it is that the Holy Spirit works how he wills.  Who is to say that because these spiritual gifts are not practiced that this effect may be what the Holy Spirit wants or that where these gifts are practiced that that may be what the Holy Spirit wants? It is that as human beings we all think our way is the best way.  Let us stop and remember that it is the Holy Spirit that works in the church and so we ought to put are false humility aside.

There is but one Lord!

September 17, 2020

9/17/2020

5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 1 Corinthians 12:5

There is one Lord.  It is interesting that Jesus said whoever is the first will be the last and whoever is the last will be the first.  We ought to practice this in our congregations.  A ministry is a service whatever the service might be.  It could be making a cup of tea for someone in the church or buying a burger for a homeless person because they haven’t had anything to eat.  

There are many gifts which God the Holy Spirit shares out as He wills

September 16, 2020

9/16/2020

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:4

When we talk about the gifts, let us be aware that it is God the Holy Spirit that gives these gifts. There is no evidence in the Bible that these gifts died out as some segments of the Church says.  God does not Change; He is the Same yesterday, today and forever. In Corinth there were many false gifts in these cultic religions but not the real thing. The Church is different. We need to search our hearts and make sure it is in the appropriate place. If we are from a charismatic background do, we emphasis the ‘power’ and get some type of emotional kick out of it and offer false worship to God and live a lie. We think more about the gift that the Giver.  This is a real danger and if you have done this repent and get your life aligned how it ought to be.

We might be on the other spectrum and say that the gifts are dead and gone.  I would say; What are you afraid of? Are you scared that the outer appearance of church discipline will break the church? Perhaps you as a church are being too disciplinarian and stifling the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God and you are not the giver of these gifts.  Be careful that you don’t stand in Gods way.  Although as Christians let us always remember the Lords table that we humble ourselves.  It is no accident that the greatest gift to the world and the church is the death of Christ and everything should point us to Christ and what he accomplished.

In all of this let us remember that there is no such thing as the perfect Christian and when discussing let us show true humility in these things. Whatever side of the Church you are from.  For there is only one church, not three hundred or four hundred.

The Use of Spiritual Gifts

September 15, 2020

9/15/2020

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:1-3

If we have learned anything from the previous chapter, it is this; Christ gave Himself for us in the sacrifice.  It is also very interesting that in the Gospels Christ said that the first will be last and the last will be first.  We need this mindset when we come to 1 Corinthians 12 and leave all selfishness outside the church door.  So here at the beginning of chapter 12 Pauls sets out some base rules for Chrsitians.  Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity so let us walk in humilty when talking about these things.  The spiritual gifts do exist and they exist for the building up of the church.   So, Paul starts with ‘I do not want you to be unaware… you were led astray by mute idols and then he reinforces it ‘howver you were led astray.’

My question at this point is; If the Corinthians were led astray in the first place, could this going in the wrong direction happen in the Church.  Yes, you already know the answer; We can be led astray.

Paul here at the very beginning of his talk puts down some base rules…

He says that ‘no one by the Holy Spirit can say Jesus is accursed’Then he continues Except by the Holy Spirit no one can say Jesus is Lord.

This is a very fundamental saying Paul Makes and it should hit us to the core of our lives… How do we walk in this world.  Is Jesus indeed our Lord? Do we love our neighbour and our enemies?  Do we desire only the will of the Lord… For to call someone Lord means being obedient to that Lord.  As the Corinthians already knew they used to worship idols. The idols were their gods.   Have you really repented of your sins? Have you genuinely made Jesus your Lord.   Humility is a prereuisite for anything spiritual so if a persons seeks out of selfish motives for some type of emotional power kick then there is something seriously wrong.

The Lords Supper. A reflection

September 14, 2020

9/14/2020

The Lord’s Supper

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come. 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 NASB

Holy Communion is a Sacrament in the main line churches, so we shouldn’t come to it with selfish and greedy motives.  The Lord Jesus commanded us to celebrate and remember Him in this meal.  The Old Testament pointed to the great hope of Gods salvation work through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  From the time of His death and resurrection we look to this moment when God who became a man paid a great price for the whole of mankind, the world, the universe.  Every believer must stop and ‘remember’ what great an act for our salvation was made.  We are brought into a new covenant.  Any covenant one makes is serious.  This covenant is more serious than all the other covenants because we are brought into the divine presence of the Holy Trinity.  If we truly understand what Christ did for us at the cross and the pure unselfish love he poured out in his love for us.  If we come with gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ bow down and worship him by the Holy Spirit we are brought into the very presence of God the father and in Christ, The Father could say; ‘You are my beloved children’ or something like that.  As we come into chapter 12 it is the most natural place to be with the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to his Church.  We must leave selfish motives outside God’s presence other wise we will indeed suffer judgement or discipline or both.

The remaining matters I will arrange when I come…!

September 13, 2020

9/13/2020

34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come. 1 Corinthians 11:34

What is judgement? From a natural point of view, there are law courts. When someone does a crime there has to be a response. The worse the crime, the worst the pay back. In the world a person might get away with crimes not so with God. God sees everything and nothing can be hidden from his sight. It is a terrifying thing to fall into judgement.  Paul mentioned the mistakes of Israel.  Let us not make the same mistakes then as they did!

Eating together in Harmony!

September 12, 2020

9/12/2020

33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 1 Corinthians 11:33 nasb

Let us not be hedonists ready to binge until we throw up.  This is despicable.  Let us care for the poorest and the most needy in our gatherings.  If we cannot do this then we are not Christians. We ought to show love to our brothers and sisters in Christ, Love to family members and love to those who do not love us. Waiting is an important skill in life. Waiting is an important skill at the Table of the Lord too as it shows genuine trust and respect.

Disciplined by the Lord!

September 11, 2020

9/11/2020

Disciplined by the Lord!

32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:32

Do you like discipline? Probably not but in the end a person becomes a better person because of it or a better teacher. In all walks of life discipline is important. In the same way, God disciplines us because we are his children.  We are on our way to the heavenly gates.   Discipline at the moment hurts but we are better for it at the end.

If we judged ourselves rightly!

September 10, 2020

9/10/2020

If we judged ourselves rightly!

31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11:31

We as humans can be so selfish, that we cannot judge ourselves correctly.  The Holy Spirit shines a light into us and he sometimes sees a lot of dark stuff.  How we need to repent and follow Christ!

Are you awake?

September 9, 2020

9/9/2020

30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 1 Corinthians 11:30

So the problem with many people is that they want to have fun and they forget about being in the presence of a Holy God.  Remember that earlier Paul told us to learn from Israels mistakes.   They were partying and many of the group tasted death for their mistakes.  Let us respect the table of the Lord and let us not be weak and sick and sleep with our hedonistic customs or the juggernaut of judgement might over take us!

Judgement!

September 8, 2020

9/8/2020

29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 1 Corinthians 11:29

If we haven’t examined our selves appropriately, then the Lord will examine us and we may find ourselves under some type of discipline or a self inflicted judgement.

Have you examined you heart and mind today and is it pure or filled with a dark cloud?

September 7, 2020

9/7/2020

28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:28

As I said earlier, before looking at this section to do with the Lords table in Greek tradition having long feasts with debate was a custom in Corinth.  There is a Greek word for this custom that has been passed down to the present.  The actress Joanne Lumly mentioned it in her programme on Greece.  So then the Breaking of Bread needed some corrections for this practice.  Holy Communion isn’t open to debates with lots of eating and drinking because we are coming into the very presence of God and we should show sobriety and respect to the Lord.   The Corinthians being a lively bunch of people needed to be reminded of this and we are not any different. So let us stop and look into our hearts.  Have we examined ourselves in a sober manner or have we come with a hedonistic mind set?  

Some Questions we could ask when we examine ourselves.

Have we sinned since the last time we broke bread?

Have we said sorry and repented of any wrong doing?

Have we repented of any unintentional sin?

If we have hurt someone in the congregation, have we made ammends Is my conscience clear?

What state is your heart and mind?

September 6, 2020

9/6/2020

27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11:27

Remembering Jesus on a regular basis helps us to get our priorities in order.  God loves us and if we spend time in his presence then our minds will become more pure.  As I said the sacrifice of Chrsit as the propitiation for our sins was a very high price.  God died for usin the human life of Jesus Christ.

Would you die for a stranger? 

The answer to that is really easy; ‘No’

Yet Chist died for us even though we were strangers.  This love is really deep. Let us drink of this sacrificial love and remember Christ on a daily basis.  Let us spend time in prayer every day worshipping the Holy Trinity, the true One God.  We come to the Father through the son by the Holy Spirit.

A regular tradition

September 5, 2020

9/5/2020

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26

This is another fact, as long as we eat this bread and drink the cup, the world will continue to hear of the Lord of the Universe revealed in the three persons and the possibility of salvation.  Salvation is a reality and we have the hope of this salvation that takes us to our real home.  We were created to have communion with God and when Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit comes into our lives we are connected with our real home.  In this world at the moment there is much death and destruction and plenty of Covid.  The world has come to a stand still.   The politicians and world leaders have shown that they are only really interested in their own careers.   Where can we find true love?

In science? Where is the antidote to all these deases cause by Man and scientists.

In the family?  Divorce rate is more than 50%

In Friends?  How alcohol and drugs have caused many deaths.

close friends? How many abortions including the after morning pill.

Our world is a mess.  Jesus said; ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ I believe and trust this tatement… Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

This is the cup!

September 4, 2020

9/4/2020

25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 1 Corinthians 11:25

We are commanded by Christ to ‘remember him’ regularly.  God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ and he died the death on a cross so that we could be brought into communion with God,  and be  fellowsharers in this new life with Christ for all eternity.  This covenant is costly but it shows how much God loved humanity.  Even though we are not even a speck of dust compared to the size of the universe Christ loved us from before the foundation of the world so we should be thankful and grateful for what has been done for us.

Different denominations have various views on the Eucharist.  I just want to focus here on the facts.  This is a new covenant, the most precious covenant.

Do this in remembrace of me!

September 3, 2020

9/3/2020

24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24

Jesus the Lord praying to his heavenly Father and our heavenly Father through and in Jesus Christ gives thanks.  Before moving on and speaking about this verse let us think about thanks in a general sense.  What does ‘thanks’ actually mean?  It is an ‘ appreciation and pleasure because of something that has been done for you:’

Taken from;  https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/thanks

So what sort of things have you given thanks for, not necessarily spiritual stuff but rather in your every day living.  Perhaps it was your birthday and someone gave you a present or perhaps someone got married 10 years ago and your give thanks.

The Lord gave thanks. According to FF Bruce perhaps this Judaic thanks could have been in Jesus Mind; “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe , who bringest forth bread forth from the earth…” Or perhaps as it is the new covenant written in Jesus’ blood the annaugaration of the Church.  Whatever the case might mean in any thanksgiving by its very context there has to be gratitude.  The first blessing is important in that we need food for our daily lives but even more we should be grateful to our Lord for allowing us into the very presence of God through the blood of Christ.

The Tradition

September 2, 2020

9/2/2020

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 1 Corinthians 11:23

Paul had received the Gospel from the Lord and this was checked out by the Council in Jerusalem (Galatians 2).  Obviously the Gospel includes Holy Communion as it is a  major Sacrament.  It has the correct time element too ‘the night he was betrayed’.  In this night Jesus did take the bread and he broke it.  I am assuming that this bread might have been unleavened bread as the timing of the Passover and the Eucharist are linked.  Jesus is spoken as our pascal lamb… The sacrifice.  In Egypt a lamb was sacrificed and the blood was put over the doorways.  On that passover night the angel of death ‘passed over’ those houses and the firstborn were not slain.  In Egypt the story was not the same… Many first born sons upto pharoah himself lost their firstborn in a Judgement from God.

Breaking of Bread. Coming into the presence of the Lord; An Introduction.

September 1, 2020

9/1/2020

The Lord’s Supper

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come. 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 NASB

When we come to the Lords Table or Thanksgiving a few words are necessary.  This passage is crucial for the Christian community.  When looking at the four Gospels scholars sometimes speak about Q a common source that all the Apostles drew from thus some story might be in one Gospel but not in another.  When it comes to the Passion narratives and the Last Supper, all four Gospels give the account.   This is very important.  All the Apostles here are ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ figurately speaking.  All the Apostles agree on this.  St Paul is following this tradition and in the same way it is encumbent on us to follow this tradition too.  The core tradition is the same for all churches although there are huge disagreement on how the Thanksgiving meal should be interpreted and celebrated.  When going through these verses I will go through the facts and what the text says.  I may at times point to various ways of interpretation but this does not mean that it is my interpretation.  First and foremost I am a religious educator and I think it is an appropriate thing to understand these various ways of interpreting the text. We need to move beyond our prejudices and not think that we are somehow better than another Christian.

Somethings are never easy to understand!

August 26, 2020

26th August 2020

This next passage is not an easy passage to understand but remember that Paul has a context and he is a man that is steeped in Old Testament knowledge and he was taught by one of the top Rabbis of the day.  Obviously if we read this passage carefully, we can assume that women had their heads covered in the Church as a sign of respect.   However, if we read this more carefully, we do not see any commands in this text.  Though Pauls point of view is that a woman should have her head covered. I’m not going to make any final judgement on this but let us try to get to know what Paul is talking about

2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. 13  Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God. 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Verse 2

So he is really encouraged that the Corinthians are keeping firm with the traditions

Let us follow the Christ like characteristics of Paul. Like us Paul was not perfect.

August 25, 2020

25th August 2020

1  Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 NASB

The people in Corinth must have really loved Paul.  After dealing with some very serious issues, he says to the Corinthians to imitate him.  Remember though he says, ‘as he is of Christ’. In other words, as he imitates Christ so we should imitate him.  Obviously, Paul died 2000 years ago but his life is captured in the Holy Scriptures.  He wasn’t perfect, he could lose his temper at times and there is evidence for this, yet at the same time he would be the first one there to help you if you were in trouble.  Figuratively he would give you the shirt on his back.  How many pastors would do that for their congregation?