Archive for the ‘Moral Issues’ Category

Let us love, show hospitality, empathize with the needy and honour Marriage!

November 6, 2021

Today we are going to look at some reasons why Apollos wrote Hebrews but not Paul.  We also need to remember that in theology it is within a Pauline school of theology but written in a High Alexandrian Greek style (Philonic style).

We then move on to look at some of the ethical material in chapter 13 namely the first four verses.

Background to Hebrews 13

We have shown and proven using probability that Apollos is the most likely contender as the writer of the book of Hebrews.   Some have argued that the style in chapter 13 has changed.  Yes, the style has changed to being more Pauline like.  Perhaps the reason for this is that Apollos was part of this Pauline school.  Throughout the whole of this letter, we have come across Pauline ideas, and this should not be a surprise.  Apollos in this last section switches to giving advice on how believers ought to live.   In Orthodox traditions Apollos was one of the seventy elders and he was bishop sometime in Corinth.  He may also have been Bishop at Izmir (Smyrna), Caesarea (An archaeological site between Tel Aviv and Haifa) and other places.  Some have also contended that Paul must have written this letter because Timothy is mentioned:

When Paul is writing formally to other churches, he has in a couple of places written ‘our brother’.  However, in other places (more informal perhaps at the end of letters or to Timothy Himself) he calls him his child or son.  There are about 23 references to Timothy in the New Testament

Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you. Hebrews 13:23

This to me would not make sense because Paul usually refers intimately about Timothy more like a ‘son’ than a brother! Having said that the Church had a special place for Timothy in their affections.  He indeed was a special brother, and it was not unusual for Timothy to team up with Paul or Silas.  There are possibly many instances of Timothy teaming up with other members of the Church.  The writings we have are a snapshot of what was going on. Below are some references to Timothy:

For this reason, I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:17

Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.

Romans 16:21

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. 1 Corinthians 16:10

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:

2 Corinthians 1:1

Bibliography

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges; THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS; VEN. F. W. FARRAR, D.D., F.R.S.; Farrar, F. W. (1893). The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, With Notes and Introduction (p. iii). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Logos.com

(The introduction in the above commentary explains a lot how Apollos could have been the writer and the evidence is very compelling that Apollos wrote it.  Farrar also shows how the Pauline ideas are found in the book of Hebrews but it has an Alexandrian and Philonic style, this includes his vocabulary and choice of words.)

Summary

The writer of Hebrews was a man who was from the school of Paul. At the same times he was a writer that wrote in an Alexandrian style.  His style in the Scriptures is pure originality and we can be grateful to have such a masterpiece of writing in the New Testament. According to tradition he was one of the seventy elders, and this gave him God’s authority to command the Church to live godly lives.

COMMENTARY

Let’s read the first six verses:

Let love of the brethren continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. 4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” 6 so that we confidently say,

“THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID.

WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”

Verse 1

Let love of the brethren continue.

The word used here is φιλαδελφία (Philadelphia).  It is brotherly love.  Brotherly love happens within the family (God’s people the Church).  This word is not the same one as used in love of neighbour by Jesus:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Matthew 5:43-47

In this section Jesus uses the word ἀγαπάω (agapaō).  Basically, Jesus commands us to love everyone.  When Jesus preached, he preached in public to everyone.  The situation of Hebrews is different in the sense that this letter was only addressed to a close-knit congregation (s).  Then again Jesus uses agapaō in the High Priestly prayer:

I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. John 17:23

I am not making any deeply theological statements here, but I am saying that in the Greek language they use a variety of words for love whereas in English we use one word to cover a plethora of meanings.   

Verse 2

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Obviously, Apollos is referring to this situation:

Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3 and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. 4 Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; 5 and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes.” 7 Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it. 8 He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate. Genesis 18:1-8

So, the key words are love and hospitality.  Hospitality is something that believers should just do and it is even commanded as it is here.  Apollos goes a stage further that we ought to think about ‘strangers’.  We do not know who they are but it may be that they need help.  Perhaps they don’t even have any food and are hungry.  How far would we go out of our way to help some one who is in need? (Or not in need but a friend).

Verse 3

Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

So, our three key words are love, hospitality, and now empathy.  

At the end of this chapter, we see that Timothy was in prison and he had only recently been released.  We have also seen it near the end of chapter 10:

But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. Hebrews 10:32-35

Over the centuries things haven’t changed that much.  Innocent people still get thrown in prison from various situations.  Let us remember too those who are suffering through no fault of their own and are languishing in prison.  We ought to remember even those who have been thrown in prison because of what they have done so that they can come to faith in Christ.  God works in mysterious ways and we don’t always know what the outcome is going to be.

Verse 4

So up to now we have had Love, hospitality, empathy and now honour.

4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews 13:4

Marriage in the UK usually lasted a lifetime, but the laws were relaxed in the 1970’s and it got easier to get divorced.  The following link shows different religious groups and some dovorce rates:

https://divorce.lovetoknow.com/Divorce_Statistics_by_Religion

This is a sad state of affairs because God is love and those who divorce have decided to break their vows.  I’m not standing in judgement, but it does show that we live in a dysfunctional world and the Fall is very much evident.

As in the early church (such as Corinth) there were believers married to unbelievers; believer married to believers but in all of Paul’s advice marriage was important.  For example, believing couples were commanded to pray for each other 1 Corinthians 7. 5.  When reading chapter 7 Satan is also mentioned in verse 6 (lack of self-control).  We can see that in marriage the old fallen nature and the new nature are at odds.  Prayer is very important because when we pray even for our partners and children it build God’s empathy in our hearts.  Love is the glue that holds a marriage together so it does not surprise me that Marriage is used as a metaphor for Christ and the Church:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33

Reflection

As Paul did in his letters; Apollos gave advice for faithful living in Christ.  In the first 4 verses we touched on some very important themes, so we ought to take these commands very seriously because they are indicators of how our walk with God is.

Apollos in these first few verses touched on

  • Love
  • Hospitality
  • Empathy
  • Honour

Where do we fit into this picture?

Do we love our neighbour whoever they may be?

Do we love those who have abused or wronged us in some way?

Do we have empathy for those who have had their freedoms taken away from them?

Do we respect marriage and the idea of marriage especially when it is a metaphor of the marriage of Christ and the Church?

Through out the book we had a feast of high Alexandrian Christian Theology, but Apollos is also concerned about our individual walk with God in the nitty gritty of daily life.  Hebrews is definitely part of the Pauline school of Theology written by a Master theologian namely Apollos.

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.

Mariage continued, 1 Corinthians chapter 7, 5

July 1, 2020

1st July 2020

1 Corinthians chapter 7 verse 5

5  Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:5

In a Christian Marriage prayer is important.  Put God first and seek His advice… It is ok to make agreements with the other half about when to get together.  Not all people have so much self-control.  In any big city there are always places we should stay away from if we have a lack of self-control.  This was good advice to the Corinthians.

The importance of marriage 1 Corinthians chapter 7, 3-4

June 30, 2020

30th June 2020

1 Corinthians chapter 7 verse 3

3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 1 Corinthians 7:3

Paul follows through good Jewish advice.  The word fulfil here is ‘didomi’ obviously in in terms of conjugal rights.  Both parties are supposed to show affection and love to the other in the physical form.  Maybe render would be a good word here.  Conjugal rights are equal on both the mans and the woman’s side.

1 Corinthians chapter 7 verse 4

 

 

4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise, also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 1 Corinthians 7:4

There are equal rights on both sides of the gender divide.

Chiasmus continued 1 Corinthians chapter 7, 1-15

June 29, 2020

29th June 2020

I think this is a good overview of the structure as it tells us what some of the main themes are.  It also shows that these themes are important because most of them cover the same ground twice! Obviously.

A: Separation. B: Don’t deprive. C: As Paul does. D: Difference of each life.

So, the centre of this chiasmus is that everyone has a particular gift…

What could that gift be? Is that person already married? Is that person not already married? Is the person married? Not married? Does the person have self-control? Does the person not have self-control?

These are serious and interesting questions for all Christians not only the Corinthians.  So, let us go beyond the greater chiasmus and I am sure there are many more (there are) and start to look at the nitty gritty details!

A Chiasmus in Pauls writing, 1 Corinthians chapter 7, 1-15

June 28, 2020

28th June 2020

Verse 3 with a chiasmus that starts at 1 and ends at 15.

3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 1 Corinthians 7:3

When looking at 1 Corinthians it is interesting that here Paul agrees with Jewish opinion on marriage.  C.K. Barrett also says there is a chiasmus literary tool being used here.  I don’t want to go to great deal,

 but I found this…

[9]Directions concerning marriage  1 Cor 7:1-16)
     A(7:1-4)    7:1 It is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman (7:1)       B(7:5)       7:5 Do not deprive each other (7:5)          C(7:6-7a)          7:7 Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am (7:7)             D(7:7b)             7:7 each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. (7:7)          C'(7:8-9)          7:8 it is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do,(7:8)       B'(7:10-11)       7:10 a wife should not separate from her husband (7:10)    A'(7:12-16)    7:15 If the unbeliever separates, however, let him separate (7:15)
 
   A: Separation. B: Don’t deprive. C: As Paul does. D: Difference of each life.

http://www.bible.literarystructure.info/bible/46_1Corinthians_pericope_e.html

Immoralities 1Corinthians Chapter 7 verses 1-2

June 27, 2020

27th June 2020

Verses 1 -2 continued

1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 1 Corinthians 7:1-2

Immoralities here means sexual immoralities.  You shouldn’t be surprised with this after all the spadework we did.   If I was to read verse one the mirror of this would be that many of the Corinthians just did not have self-control.  There are men that do have self-control but not all men.  What type of man or woman is he or she when it comes to self-control? If you are a pastor or minister of a church; How do you deal with these situations in your own church?

The Capricious Lifestyle of Corinth

June 25, 2020

I think it is an interesting read… There was not any aspect of human activity that was out of bounds from the gods and goddesses at Corinth… Even though Corinth had the stamp of Julius Caesar on it, it never lost its Grecian appeal.  So then if the gods and goddesses could be capricious (“given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behaviour.” from Google search.)  What then of people who lived in Corinth.  Obviously, they would follow their object/s of worship and behave in the same type of way.  However, there were current of society that pulled in the opposite direction such as Judaism that had strict moral laws in place. 

So as background to 1 Corinthians chapter 7 it is interesting what Barclay says “ We have already seen that in Greek thought there was strong tendency to despise the body and the things of the body; and that that tendency could issue in a position where men said, “The body is utterly unimportant; therefore we can do what we like with it and it makes no difference if we allow its appetites to have their fullest play.” But that very tendency could issue in a precisely opposite point of view. It could move a man to say, “The body is evil; therefore we must bring it into subjection; therefore we must completely obliterate, and if that is not possible, we must completely deny, all the instincts and desires which are natural to it.” It is that second way of looking at things with which Paul is dealing here. The Corinthians, or at least some of them, had suggested that, if a man was going to be a Christian in the fullest sense of the term, he must have done with physical things and must refuse to marry altogether.

Isis the Egyptian goddess and Aphrodite the Cyprian goddess of love and beauty at Corinth

June 24, 2020
Isis Egyptian goddessIsis is a goddess in Egyptian mythology. She was known as the goddess of the moon. As goddess of life and magic, Isis protected women and children, and healed the sick. Closely linked to the throne, she was one of the greatest goddesses of Ancient Egypt. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isis  
AphroditeGreek Goddess of Love, Beauty & Eternal Youth Aphrodite is the Goddess of Love and Beauty and according to Hesiod’s Theogony, she was born from the foam in the waters of Paphos, on the island of Cyprus. She supposedly arose from the foam when the Titan Cronus slew his father Uranus and threw his genitals into the sea. However, according to Homer, in Iliad, Aphrodite may instead be the daughter of Zeus and Dione. As with so many Greek deities, there are many stories about the origins of the gods. https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/goddesses/aphrodite/  

Hercules and the Roman god Jupiter in Corinth

June 23, 2020
HerculesHeracles the semi-god  was the most popular Greek hero ever. He was known for his exceptional strength, even surpassing many gods, as well as for his courage, his appetite for wine, food and sexuality with both women and men. It was also believed that despite his ingenuity in several of his quests, he lacked a fair amount of intelligence. He was very passionate, short-tempered and emotional individual, although many comic playwrights described him as primitive, brutal and violent in their games. Heracles was the kind of person who would often get into trouble but was then also determined to resolve the issues and make things right. Actually, many of his good deeds came from solving his trouble. The most famous of these are the twelve labours. After completing many more deeds than anyone else and gained favours by the gods, Heracles eventually ascended to Mount Olympus upon his death in the mortal world. https://www.greek-gods.org/greek-heroes/heracles.php  
Jupiter The roman god = ZeusJupiter, also known as Jove, is the god of sky and thunder, as well as the king of gods in Ancient Roman Mythology. Jupiter is the top god of the Roman pantheon. Jupiter was considered the chief deity of Roman state religion during the Republican and Imperial eras until Christianity became the dominant religion. Zeus is Jupiter’s equivalent in Greek Mythology. The two share the same features and characteristics. https://www.thoughtco.com/profile-of-the-roman-god-jupiter-119328