Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? (John2. 46)

December 11, 2022

Nathaniel asked the question; “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” 

Let’s look at the context: 

The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and *said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael *said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He *said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:43-51 

As you can see Nazareth is a backwater town in which nothing much happened.  Nathaniel certainly knew his Bible, that the Town Nazareth is not found in the Old Testament and no prophet came from this town.   

(The quotations I have used in much of the next sections are taken from Spurgeon’s writings:

Spurgeon reminds us of a verse that was to do with the arrest of St Paul:

“For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Acts 24:5”

Spurgeon continues:

“Thus, it appears that our Lord and Master is called a Nazarene, and his disciples are styled “the sect of the Nazarenes,” while Christian doctrine was called by the Jews the heresy of the Nazarenes.

     Our Saviour, though actually born at Bethlehem, was commonly known as Jesus of Nazareth, because Nazareth was the place where he was brought up. There he remained with his reputed father in the carpenter’s shop until the time of his showing unto the people. This Nazareth was a place very much despised. It was a small country town, and the people were rough and rustic. They were some three days’ distance from Jerusalem, where I suppose the Jews thought that everything that was learned and polite could be found, as we are apt to think of our own city, or of Oxford, and Cambridge, and other seats of learning. The people of Nazareth were the boors of Galilee, the clowns of the country.”

Although Matthew puts ‘prophets’ in the plural Spurgeon gives us a messianic text from Isaiah with reference to the first verse but for context I will quote a little bit more:

“1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,

And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,

The spirit of wisdom and understanding,

The spirit of counsel and strength,

The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD,

And He will not judge by what His eyes see,

Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;

4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor,

And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;

And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,

And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.

5 Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,

And faithfulness the belt about His waist.

6 And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,

And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,

And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

And a little boy will lead them.

7 Also the cow and the bear will graze,

Their young will lie down together,

And the lion will eat straw like the ox. Isaiah 11:1-7”

As we continue looking at verse 1; “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1)

The word branch here is translated from נֵצֶר netser.  Originally before the birth of the Masoretic text Hebrew was written without vowels so what you have is “ntzt= NaZaReth”.  Spurgeon and I think correctly sees a reference to the Messiah who would be a descendant of King David. This is why I quoted from the longer passage because the passage is obviously Messianic.

Concerning Jesse’s line and king David we have the following quotation from St Pauls first missionary journey:

“After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’ 23 From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, Acts 13:22-23”

This line of thaouyght about Jesus being a branch of King David is found.  There are other references in the Old Testament but I think this is sufficient to show the importance of Jesus as the Messiah from the Old Testament.  Even to the time of Spurgeon someone from Nazareth was looked down on:

Spurgeon continues:

“As Nazarene was a term of contempt in the olden times, so it has continued to be. The apostate emperor Julian was wont always to call our Lord the Galilean; and when he died, in his agony of death, he cried, “O Galilean, thou hast vanquished me.” He was obliged to confess our Lord’s supremacy, though he still showed his contempt by calling him the Galilean. The Jews to this day, when they feel wroth against our Christ, are wont to call him the Nazarene.

     Nazarene is not at all the same word as Nazarite. It is a different word in the Hebrew, and you must not confound the two. Never suppose that when you say, “He shall be called a Nazarene,” that it signifies that he was called a Nazarite. Nazarite among the Jews would have been a title of honour, but Nazarene is simply a name of contempt. A late traveller tells us that he had a Mahometan guide through Palestine, and whenever they came to a village that was very dirty, very poor, and inhabited by professed Christians, he always said, “These are not Moslems; they are netza,” or “Nazarenes,” throwing all the spite he possibly could into the word, as if he could not have uttered a more contemptuous term. To this day, then, our Lord has the name of the Nazarene affixed to him by those who reject him, and to this day Christians are called among (Muslims), Nazarenes.

     Our Lord Jesus Christ was never ashamed of this name: in fact, he called himself “Jesus of Nazareth” after he had risen from the dead. He told Paul when he smote him to the earth, “I am Jesus of Nazareth whom thou persecutest.” His disciples were not ashamed to call him by that name; for as they walked to Emmaus, and he joined them, and asked them what they were speaking of, they said they were talking of Jesus of Nazareth. This is a name at which devils tremble, for they besought him, even Jesus of Nazareth, that they should not be sent into the deep when he cast them out. It was the name which in contempt was nailed above his head upon the cross— “Jesus of Nazareth the king of the Jews.” Oh, but it is a glorious name, as I shall have to show ere I have done. But still this is the meaning of it— the meaning of Matthew when he says that the prophets declared that he should be called a Nazarene. He meant that the prophets have described the Messiah as one that would be despised and rejected of men. They spoke of him as a great prince and conqueror when they described his second coming; but they set forth his first coming when they spoke of him as a root out of a dry ground without form or comeliness, who when he should be seen would have no beauty that men should desire him. The prophets said that he would be called by a despicable title, and it was so, for his countrymen called him a Nazarene.”

So, Jesus was spoken of with a ‘despicable’ title.  Nazarene was a title of contempt but for believers the shame of the cross is full of glory and honour for the Christian.


Before I continue with this reflection, we need to be reminded that we are called to love everyone no matter what their background.  We are called to love Muslims, Jews, other Christians, Hindu’s, atheists and all the varieties found in the human race.  We are in this blog talking about Jesus the Nazarene. 

On reflection anyone claiming to be something special from Nazareth would be looked on with contempt.  This is exactly what the Old Testament expected from the Messiah in his first coming.  Spurgeon in this particular piece of writing gives us three collecting points:

  1. First, then, our Master, the Nazarene, was despised, and is despised even to this day.
  2. secondly, our other text informs us that Christ’s followers have been known as the sect of the Nazarenes
  3. there is, after all, nothing despicable in either Christ or his people.

So, then we know that Jesus is the Son of God in his birth and what followed even in the small print of the Old Testament, we find what sort of person the Messiah was going to be. Our Lord would be despised and rejected and killed on our behalf.  This is only Half the story as the Old Testament as well as the New Testament would show his glorious return as the real Judge and king of Israel, the Church and the world. 

‘The Word of God’ in the Christmas story and Jesus’ Second Coming from John the Apostles point of View is Grounded in History.

December 2, 2022

Have we been deceived by the commerce of the Christmas tree and the use of tinsel and bling that makes us like magpies running to and thro building our castles on snow? The real meaning of Christmas is very deep, if we could only see beyond the lights of our Christmas fairy tale.  The Christmas story is no Cinderella theme.  Christmas is about God becoming a person like you and me.  The question is why would God give up his heaven and be willing to be born in a barn?  If you were God, would you do that? Anyhow let us get started and look at John the Apostles World which was full of death and destruction.

I believe that John the Apostle wrote the Gospel, letters, and the Apocalypse.  During his life, he lived through the time of:

  • some cruel Roman rulers,
  • earthquakes such as Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Heracleum (AD 62)
  • and the destruction of the Second Temple (AD 70) where Jesus preached, and the Second Temple was at the heart of Jewish life.

John also saw many of his brothers and sisters in the faith murdered by the State of Rome. Two of those people that were murdered were Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna (Izmir).  There was an unbroken line of succession of believers in the Faith from Our Lord Jesus:

  • John the Apostle
  • Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch
  • Irenaeus

Irenaeus was a student of Polycarp.  These basic historical facts obviously influenced John in his writings.  There were some serious political, economic, theological and geological events taking place around John including the deaths of many Christian Martyrs.  He was also the disciple who took care of Mary the mother of Jesus our Lord.  In the letters of Ignatius there is evidence of this.  So, then we begin looking at Jesus as the Word of God.

Jesus was not ‘a god’, he is God, fully Divine and fully human at the same time.  It is a mystery that the universal Church of Christ accepts these as fact and indeed John names Jesus as the Word of God in the book of Revelations.  I have two key texts found in the writings of John so let us read them:

The first coming (Incarnation)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5

The Second Coming

“He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” Revelation 19:13

Look at how superior to the angels Jesus is.  The angel’s functionality was working as emissaries and Mediators between Heaven and earth.  They never had the power of creation from nothing.  Angels are creatures just like humans, they had a beginning.  For John Our lord from his Divine side was instrumental with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the Creation of the world.  It is no accident that John started with ‘in the beginning’:

ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν” (from LXX Genesis 1 verse 1)

“ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος” (from John 1)

Even if you do not know Greek one can see that both sentences start the same: ‘ἐν ἀρχῇ’= in the beginning.  The Hebrew Masoretic text also begins with in the beginning:

“1 בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃” Genesis 1:1

My transliteration:

Berosheyth ||bara ELOHIM ||eth ha-shamayim va he-aretz

In the beginning =Berosheyth ||God created = bara ELOHIM ||the heavens and the earth = eth ha-shamayim va he-aretz

So then our Lord had a functionality of Creator at the creation of the world this means that on his divine side, Jesus was the ‘Eternal Son’.   

Reflection on the Christmas meaning of John 1.1

When we dig a little bit deeper on the meaning of Jesus as the Word of God, what it is actually saying is that God became a human being and lived among us. Jesus was no angelic being as an angelic being did not create the world.  God Himself in the economic Trinity created the world.  The Trinitarian God the Father by the two hands of God created the world and all life on it.  There is only One God but as Karl Barth would say there are ‘three modes of being’ in the Godhead.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit were involved in the creation.  The Trinitarian God was also involved in the incarnation of Christ.  The incarnation ‘God becoming a human being’ was the work of the Trinitarian God.  The incarnation was not just the birth story but includes the whole life of Christ up to his death and resurrection. Professor Thomas. F. Torrance goes into detail about this in his book the Incarnation.

Christ is named The Word of God in Revelations

So, we have looked and seen that Jesus as the Word of God was involved with the creation, so it is no surprise that John calls Jesus the ‘Alpha’.  My interpretation of Jesus as the Alpha is do with the Christmas story and his life on earth. 

The last time John speaks of Jesus as the ‘Word of God’ is in the Book of Revelation.   In the Book of revelations:

  • the Harlot Babylon (Rome) had been judged.  (Not the Catholic Church but rulers who professed to be divine)
  • We then have the fourfold Hallelujahs as we see God as the Judge.
  • We see the Lamb of God Jesus marrying his Church.

After this the Second coming of Christ is mentioned and he is called ‘The Word of God’:

“The Coming of Christ

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh, He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”

19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.” Revelation 19:11-19

This is a different depiction of Jesus.  In Johns Gospel Jesus was the ‘sacrifice’.  This picture is Jesus as the glorified ‘Word of God’.  This really encourages me in my personal walk with God.  I can look back at the cross at Jesus as the Word of God who died in my place but then with this text as a believer we can look forward to the future with boldness to the same ‘Word of God’ but this time he rides as Judge. Our Lords function was both as sacrifice and as king (Messiah).  My focus however is on Revelations9:13, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says:

“13. vesture dipped in blood—Isa 63:2 is alluded to here, and in Re 19:15, end. There the blood is not His own, but that of His foes. So here the blood on His “vesture,” reminding us of His own blood shed for even the ungodly who trample on it, is a premonition of the shedding of their blood in righteous retribution. He sheds the blood, not of the godly, as the harlot and beast did, but of the blood-stained ungodly, including them both.

The Word of God—who made the world, is He also who under the same character and attributes shall make it anew. His title, Son of God, is applicable in a lower sense, also to His people; but “the Word of God” indicates His incommunicable Godhead, joined to His manhood, which He shall then manifest in glory. “The Bride does not fear the Bridegroom; her love casteth out fear. She welcomes Him; she cannot be happy but at His side. The Lamb [Re 19:9, the aspect of Christ to His people at His coming] is the symbol of Christ in His gentleness. Who would be afraid of a lamb? Even a little child, instead of being scared, desires to caress it. There is nothing to make us afraid of God but sin, and Jesus is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. What a fearful contrast is the aspect which He will wear towards His enemies! Not as the Bridegroom and the Lamb, but as the [avenging] judge and warrior stained in the blood of His enemies.”” Taken from

Let us remind ourselves of verse 13 again:

“He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” Revelation 19:13

Reflection on Revelations 19:13

Jesus here is no Lamb to his enemies.  He is pictured as the Messiah who has just trodden over his enemies.  Babylon the Great Whore (Rome with its evil emperors) who were killing Christians at a whim has now met its fate.   Here Jesus is seen as the avenging Judge and the blood that soiled his robe is that of his enemies. 

Reflection on John 1:1 and Revelations 19:13

Jesus came as the Word of God.  In the first place God became a human and humbled himself to be born into a stable where animals were kept and then he humbled himself to death on a cross so that we could be saved from eternal death.

Jesus will come again into the world as the Word of God but this time his function will be as the Messiah to judge his enemies. His enemies were murderers who killed Christians. Jesus’ enemies have brought down their own doom through their own sins.

Final Reflection

I find John the Apostles Christology very interesting because his use of Alpha and Omega does really touch on the Word of God. Christ as the Son of God was involved with the Holy Spirit and the Father at the creation of our world, and it was good.  We then see the Christmas story when the Word of God became a human being and lived among us for a time as a servant and Sacrifice to fix our fallen world.  We then see Jesus, the Word of God at the End of time at the eschaton the final Omega the Judge of the living and the dead.

A call to repentance

In today’s society it is very fashionable to turn away from God and to worship ourselves through various forms of Atheisms and agnosticisms. Have you stopped and thought about who Jesus is?  There are three choices:

  1. Was Jesus mad?
  2. Was Jesus a liar?
  3. Was Jesus who he claimed to be?

For me the evidence is overwhelming that Jesus was who he claimed to be.  His disciples believed in him so much that most of them were killed or imprisoned for him.  He healed people and scholars such as Josephus wrote about Jesus.  The effects of Jesus’ teaching is still with us today throughout the whole world. Christmas time is a time of reflection on the birth and incarnation of Jesus Christ.  Christmas time is not only about Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt.  The Christmas story is much bigger, and this Weeks Advent blog is about looking behind the pretentious tinsel picture of Jesus.  This Week we followed the Apostle John’s picture of Jesus as the Word of God.  Jesus as the King, Jesus as the Judge, and as the Judge who was willing to take our judgement on himself.  There are not many judges in the world that would be willing to take the place of the convict.  This is what Jesus did. Let us not believe in a make-believe fairy tale in which the shops get rich on Christmas season by giving us a glossy page.  

Like magpies we fly to this pretentious image that the media gives us, and this is so disrespectful towards people of faith. I am not saying there is anything wrong with these trappings of Christmas time as it can be a time to teach our young ones about the birth of Jesus but let us move on to maturity and dig deeper into the mountain full of spiritual jewels that will help us get closer to God in a living relationship.

The Heroic Women of Jesus’ Ancestry

November 24, 2022

In the ancestry of Jesus, we find some really interesting women of faith:

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary the mother of our Lord.

One will notice that in a conventional genealogy we have such and ‘such begat’ or ‘the father of’…  In Matthews genealogy there is a twist and the reason there is a twist is that sometimes God works in unconventional ways. All these women have a story to tell, and they all faced some type of persecution in their lives. 

Tamar and Judah

Tamar was married to one of Judah’s sons and he died.  According to the law (levir practice) she was to have a surrogate husband.  She got a surrogate husband, but he wasted his seed on the ground so that she wouldn’t get pregnant.  God judged him and he died.  Judah decided that Tamar was not going to get the youngest son but lied to her… that when he grew up, he would perform by making her pregnant.  It didn’t happen. Judah lied to her.  So, one day she got dressed and pretended to be a prostitute so that she would ensnare Judah so that she could keep the line of her dead husband alive.  Judah fell into her temptation and Tamar took his seal and cord in waiting for his payment for sex.  Three months later she was found to be with child, and he was going to burn her to death. Tamar pulled out the cord and the seal and he admitted that he was at fault.   

Although it is against Leviticus to sleep with one’s father or sister-in-law.  The levir law is an exception and the law here is suspended so that it is not counted as incest:

“You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 16 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness. Leviticus 18:15-16”

If Tamar who was a foreigner did not do this act, then the genealogy to David and then to Christ would have been broken.  Tamar was a very brave woman as she wanted her rights and by faith she fought for her rights before God and protected her husbands and her blood line to the next generation.  It is also very interesting what Rabbi Sacks says about Judah on this issue when he admitted he was in the wrong:

“This moment is a turning-point in history. Judah is the first person in the Torah explicitly to admit he was wrong.[5] We do not realise it yet, but this seems to be the moment at which he acquired the depth of character necessary for him to become the first real baal teshuvah. We see this years later, when he – the brother who proposed selling Joseph as a slave – becomes the man willing to spend the rest of his life in slavery so that his brother Benjamin can go free. (Gen. 44:33) I have argued elsewhere that it is from here that we learn the principle that a penitent stands higher than even a perfectly righteous individual. (Brachot 34b) [6] Judah the penitent becomes the ancestor of Israel’s Kings while Joseph the Righteous is only a viceroy, mishneh le-melech, second to the Pharaoh.

Thus far Judah. But the real hero of the story was Tamar. She had taken an immense risk by becoming pregnant. Indeed she was almost killed for it. She had done so for a noble reason: to ensure that the name of her late husband was perpetuated. But she took no less care to avoid Judah being put to shame. Only he and she knew what had happened. Judah could acknowledge his error without loss of face. It was from this episode that the Sages derived the rule articulated by Rabbi Rabinovitch that morning in Switzerland: it is better to risk being thrown into a fiery furnace than to shame someone else in public.” From

(I also used

Rahab and Salmon

Rahab was another foreign woman in King David’s and Jesus’ genealogy and originally she was a prostitute.  Yet she had respect for the God of Israel and protected the spies.  God protected Rahab and she married some Jewish general and became a citizen of Israel.  The following is about the promise to Rahab:

“Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, 18 unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. 19 It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.” 21 She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.” Joshua 2:15-21

Then later in Joshua it says:

“25 However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Joshua 6:25”. 

Then in Matthew’s genealogy we have:

“Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Matthew 1:5”

The function of Rahab in the story according to Tikva Frymer-Kensky:

“Rahab has a special function in the biblical narratives of Israel’s existence in the land. When uncovering the men, she explains that she knows that God will give Israel the land (2:8). She has heard about the events of the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea) and the defeat of the Amorite kings Og and Sihon, and she declares (quoting from the Song of Miriam in Exodus 15; see v. 11) that “dread” has fallen on the inhabitants and that they all “fear” Israel (2:9). This is the message that the men bring back to Joshua. Rahab is thus the oracle, or prophet, of Israel’s occupation of the land.” Taken from

So, Rahab was a Canaanite and a prostitute which is a double whammy as far as social niceties go but because of her faith and by God’s grace she became an ancestor of Kings and princes.

Ruth and Boaz

Naomi was married to Elimelech, and they had two sons.  One of the sons was married to Ruth the Moabitess. Unfortunately, there was a famine and Naomi’s Husband and two sons also died.  She was left with nothing. She decides to go back to Israel, and she encouraged the daughters to go to their lands.  Ruth refused as the God of Israel was also her God.  This was a dire situation, and the situation was similar to Tamar and Elimelech’s family genealogical line was about to be cut off.  God intervened for Naomi and Ruth and the Davidic genealogical line was not cut off.

“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”

There was only one way for the line not to be cut off and that was that Naomi through her foreign daughter in law could be her surrogate and so it happened, and Boaz married and had children with Ruth.

Bathsheba and David

Bathsheba is the first Jewish woman by blood we actually meet, and she was originally married to a Hittite (a foreigner).  She was a pawn in David’s hand to satisfy King David’s lust.  She got pregnant and David tried to cover it up by getting Uriah to lie with his wife.  Uriah was too honourable so David sent him to the front line where he got killed.  David then took Bathsheba to be his wife. Judgement fell on David and the baby died.  Nathan the prophet confronted David about this and David’s repentance is found in Psalm 51:

“1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity

And cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

And my sin is ever before me.

4 Against You, you only, I have sinned

And done what is evil in Your sight,

So that You are justified when You speak

And blameless when You judge. Psalms 51:1-4”

According to some Rabbinic writings Bathsheba was destined for David but he went about it the wrong way.  Bathsheba along with Nathan played an important role in setting up Solomon for kingship and hence the first Temple to be built for the God of Israel.  Even after David died there were those in court that tried to use Bathsheba for the usurpation of king Solomon’s position to someone else.

Mary (The mother of our Lord) and Joseph the stepfather of Jesus

Mary freely chose to be the receptacle for God taking on humanity through Christ.  Because of her obedience God’s salvation for the world became possible.  It is well worth quoting her song the Magnificat:

46 And Mary said:

“My soul exalts the Lord,

47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;

For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me;

And holy is His name.



51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;

He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones,

And has exalted those who were humble.


And sent away the rich empty-handed.

54 “He has given help to Israel His servant,

In remembrance of His mercy,

55 As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

56 And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home. Luke 1:46-56

Mary was devoted to her God and our God.  She conceived as a virgin and King Herod attempted to kill her child.  She had to flee with Joseph to Egypt.  They only came back to Judah when Herod the Great was dead. In Islam she is also very important and there is even a chapter named after her ‘Meryem’.  In the Quran Mary faced persecution by some in the Jewish community for this miraculous birth:

“Later, after Jesus’ birth, Mary brought him to the temple. All of the men in the temple mocked her, except Zechariah, who believed in the virgin birth. The Israelites demanded to know how she could possibly have had a baby without a man, whereupon the Virgin Mary responded by pointing to Jesus who then spoke his first prophecy.” (Taken from

Reflection on these women of great faith

God cares for the unwanted of society as an example in Isaiah it says:

“Learn to do good;

Seek justice,

Reprove the ruthless,

Defend the orphan,

Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17


All the cards were stacked up against these women of faith.  They were helpless and society can at times have a blind eye towards the weak and helpless.  In this genealogy women were especially mentioned as they played a seriously important part for the coming of the Messiah into this sinful world.  It is also very important that in the background of the ministry of Jesus, the backbone that held Jesus’ ministry together was in fact women. This is not a man’s world; it is God’s world and women are just as important as men.  The majority of those in power in history have tended to be mainly men although there are exceptions such as Cleopatra and the Late Queen Elizabeth the Second.  The world is in a mess as we face lots of challenges.  Jesus cared for women that society cast aside, he cared for children, he cared for the sick and he cared for the foreigners (Romans and Samaritans as he taught against racism).  In fact, in Jesus’ life and works (his incarnation) we see a blueprint for an inclusive society. As jesus cared for the weak and vulnerable in society so we too should care for those less able than ourselves, this to me is also an extension of the Christmas story.  As Jesus reminds us later in his sermons that we ought to love God and our neighbour.  Our neighbour is ‘anyone.’


The image of Mary I am using has been taken from:,_mother_of_Jesus

I am using it according to the creative commons law.)

An overview of the genealogies of Christ though the eyes of Matthew the entrepreneur and Luke the white collared professional

November 17, 2022

Have you ever thought about your own family background and where your roots are found?  In today’s world this is big business and with the advent of DNA testing one can find out even more. We all want to know where we are from as it helps us to build a picture of our identity and where we belong.  Sometimes when we read the news either from the papers or online it is sometimes the only good news we can find. However, DNA may also bring one bad news, perhaps one is related to a despot such as Hitler, Mussolini or even Ceausescu and Stalin. Perhaps sometimes it is better to keeps one’s ancestry at a safe distance.  Herod for example was half Edomite and he wanted to hide this from Judaism of the time so he destroyed the archives in which his ancestry could be found.

In Judaism genealogies are very important as they can show in the Old Testament if one is fit to be a priest or not or to be considered Jewish.  So then today we are going to ask the question why two different genealogies about Christ in two Gospels (both legitimate). Before we even consider opening the Gospels we need to be reminded how different Matthew and Luke are.  Matthew was a tax collector for the Romans but had also spent three years with Jesus and Luke was a doctor who could write a profound history. In one children’s encyclopaedia it says about Matthew:

“Saint Matthew is one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Sometimes, he is called Levi. He was a tax collector before his decision to follow Christ.

In the New Testament

Among the early followers and apostles of Jesus, Matthew is mentioned in Matthew 9:9 and Matthew 10:3 as a publican who, while sitting at the “receipt of custom” in Capernaum, was called to follow Jesus. He is also listed among the twelve, but without identification of his background, in Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. In passages parallel to Matthew 9:9, both Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27 describe Jesus’ calling of the tax collector Levi, the son of Alphaeus, but Mark and Luke never explicitly equate this Levi with the Matthew named as one of the twelve.

Early life

Levi was a 1st-century Galilean (presumably born in Galilee, which was not part of Judea or the Roman Iudaea province), the son of Alpheus. As a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic and Greek. His fellow Jews would have despised him for what was seen as collaborating with the Roman occupation force.

After his call, Matthew invited Jesus to his home for a feast. On seeing this, the Scribes and the Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners. This prompted Jesus to answer, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32)” (Taken from

The same children’s encyclopedia says:

“Luke the Evangelist is said to be the man who wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Irenaeus, Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome say that he was a friend of Saint Paul and a doctor, and that he accompanied Paul on some of his travels. These people also say that he was of Greek origin, from Antioch in Syria.

Modern-day scholars think that the person that wrote the two books was not the same that accompanied Paul. Paul had a theology that was special, and slightly different from that of other writers of the New Testament. The two books written by Luke never refer to this theology. Also, the name of Paul’s companion is never linked to writing the two books. The Acts of the Apostles often tell things about Paul which Paul does not tell himself in his letters.

Luke wrote about the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus in the Bible. Luke never said there were 3 wise men, only wise men from the east.” (Taken from

To sum up then these two Gospel writers one was a physician who was highly educated and the other was originally a tax collector for the Romans!  He would have been seen by his own people ‘worse than scum’ for collaborating with the Romans.  Having said that Matthew had some special qualities and in the Masters hand he wrote a beauytiful Gospel in which one of the geneologies is found. 

So how intelligent was Matthew to be a tax collector and what were their jobs?


“Tax farming deals in newly acquired eastern provinces in Asia Minor proved to be a highly lucrative source of income for the companies, which placed publicani in competitive positions with the appointed local governors of the provinces. Also, the exclusion of the publicani from the Senate opened up positions for them in the special courts, allowing them to weigh the limits and practices of government power.[1]

The actions of the publicani were fiercely criticised. They were accused of insurance fraud in delivering goods during the Punic wars, of excessive greed when collecting taxes in the provinces, of exceptionally cruel conduct towards slave labour working in the mines, and of fraudulent practices in trying to get rid of unprofitable public contracts. However, surviving literary sources are mainly based on accounts of senators, who were in a competitive position with the publicani. Still, the overall operation of the private contractors seems to have supplied satisfactory results for the management of the Republic.

The degradation of the role of private contracting coincided with the beginning of the rule of the emperors, during which the oligarchic power of the Senate had to give way for the autocratic rule of the Caesars, and a more centralised public civil service system replaced private contractors in implementing the most important parts of public policy. However, the order of the knights, to which the publicani belonged, formed the backbone of the population from which civil servants were recruited. Throughout history, the publicani, or, more precisely, their local henchmen, were probably best known from their minor local tax collecting duties in Roman provinces during the imperial era [3]

By New Testament times, the provincial people came to see the publicans chiefly as tax collectors. It is in this sense that the term is used in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. However, their role as public contractors, especially as regards building projects, was still significant.[citation needed] With the rise of a much larger Imperial bureaucracy, this task of the publicans, as well as their overall importance, declined precipitously. Evidence for the existence of publicans extends as far back as the 3rd century BC, although it is generally assumed[by whom?] that they existed at still earlier times in Roman history. Knowledge of a tentative terminus post quem is taken from the histories of the 1st century AD Imperial historian Livy.” (Taken from

In that sense Matthew was a businessman who knew the inner workings of the financial systems governed by Rome which included building projects.  From this point of view Matthew was probably one of the most educated disciples.

Luke on the other hand was a doctor and a friend of Paul’s.  When I say a doctor I mean a physician, someone who heals people.  He would have known all of the classics such as Plato and so forth.  Luke Greek is some of the most polished Greek anywhere in the New Testament bar (except) the book of Hebrews.  Matthew and Luke are like chalk and cheese; They were very different people.  Yet, Matthew and Luke had one thing in common Love for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Their personalities and their roots from my point of view are completely different but they created two genealogies of Jesus Christ.  We need to be aware of this when we start to look at these geneologies in closer detail.  We can learn a lot about the Lord Jesus because the genealogies are so different.  In Jewish circles genealogy is important to prove identity.  It is possible for example that Luke wrote to a Sadducee priest named Theophilus (See notes below (Taken from Anyhow concerning Jesus identity Mark Matthew Mark Luke and John call Jesus the Son of God.  In Psalm 2 the King ‘The Anointed One’  was the Messiah and the Son of God:

  • The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah Matthew 1:1 …And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” Matthew 14:33
  • The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1
  • the son of God Luke 3:38
  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

I find the above partial verses very interesting.  Matthew starts by stating the facts before the genealogy starts calling Jesus the Messiah. Matthew’s genealogy is very Jewish in style and was aimed at a readership of those who were Jews. Sticking the genealogy at the beginning of the Gospel was the appropriate thing to do.

Mark does not bother with genealogies as he was more interested in his Gentile readership, and it was all to do with action with a powerful first verse that the Son of God has broken into our space and time. For example Mark uses a lot of ‘ands’ in his sentences to join sentences which is really bad Greek but it gets the job done.  He also uses ‘immediately’ a lot.  His Gospel is a fast paced Gospel for the ordinary person on the street.

Luke on the other hand starts to build the evidence slowly and the genealogy does not come until chapter 3 which seems rather late but if he was writing to a high priestly Sadducee official this makes perfect sense.

John does not mess around with convention as for his point of view Jesus being fully Divine breaks into our time and history here on earth.

Matthew’s Genealogy

Matthew was only interested in getting the facts out in terms of salvation history for Israel. He breaks the genealogy into three time spans:

  • From Abraham to David
  • From David to the deportation to Babylon
  • From the Babylonian captivity to the advent of Christ

Matthew prefers to use ‘Father of’ instead of ‘son of’.  From my point of view this is one reason for the chronological direction differences in Matthew.  This way of doing the chronology also allows women to be included in his chronology. 

Luke’s genealogy

The time order is in reverse order from that of Matthew and he says, “When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, Luke 3:23”

  • He starts from Joseph
  • He ends with before Adam as the Son of God

In Luke’s genealogy it is followed by the ‘son of ’.  It only reflects the male line of descendants

Reflection on the two chronologies.

If Luke was writing to an important priest in the Sadducee party to show the facts about Jesus, then this was a wise move from Luke.  He kept his genealogy within acceptable standards in the Jewish community

Matthew in contrast metaphorically throws an incendiary bomb into his work.  He is not afraid to mention women in his genealogy:

  • Tamar got pregnant outside of wedlock
  • Rahab was a prostitute (a foreigner)
  • Ruth was a Moabitess (a foreigner)
  • Mary was a virgin (Pregnant outside of marriage although she was a virgin)

We have two versions of the genealogy of Jesus, one that is safe for the standards of the day and Matthew’s genealogy which smashed the ‘safe boundaries.’


Matthew and Luke were very different people.  Matthew who was a bit of an entrepreneur made deals with the Romans for his living.  A lot of Jews would have hated Matthew’s lifestyle and he would be seen by a lot as a traitor to his country.  As an extra thought Josephus too would have been seen as a traitor as (metaphorically speaking) he caved into the Romans but at the same time today, Jews and Christians will definitely use his sources for information about the destruction of the second temple.  Although Matthew was despised by his fellow Jews Jesus called him and changed him into a true man of God and that is why we have such a beautiful Jewish Gospel.

I think of Luke as ‘steady Luke’.  Luke was highly intelligent, and he was not one of the twelve disciples but a friend of Paul.  I read somewhere that Luke was possibly pleading for Paul when he was in jail in Rome.  Metaphorically speaking he had a safe set of cards and he knew how to communicate in a hostile world. We are privileged to Have Luke and Acts in our Bible written in excellent Greek of the Ancient world.

When I looked at how the two genealogies were formed, I could see two very different people which reflects on how the genealogies were put together:

  • Luke the white collared worker (medical doctor, lawyer and historian)
  • Matthew the entrepreneur. (He was good at making money)

As followers of Christ, we are much richer because of their individual contributions to the Church.


Jewish priest

Some scholars[9] point to Theophilus ben Ananus, High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem from 37 to 41. In this tradition Theophilus would have been both a kohen and a Sadducee. That would make him the son of Annas and brother-in-law of Caiaphas, raised in the Jewish Temple. Adherents claim that Luke’s Gospel was targeted at Sadducee readers. This might explain a few features of Luke. He begins the story with an account of Zacharias the righteous priest who had a Temple vision of an angel (1:5–25). Luke quickly moves to account Mary’s purification (niddah), Jesus’ Temple redemption (pidyon ha-ben) rituals (2:21–39), and then to Jesus’ pilgrimage to the Temple when he was twelve (2:46), possibly implying his bar mitzvah. He makes no mention of Caiaphas’ role in Jesus’ crucifixion and emphasizes Jesus’ literal resurrection (24:39), including an ascension into heaven as a realm of spiritual existence (24:52; Acts 1:1). Luke also seems to stress Jesus’ arguments with the Sadducees on points like legal grounds for divorce, the existence of angels, spirits, and an afterlife (Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead). If this was the case then Luke is trying to use Jesus’ rebuttals and teachings to break down Theophilus’ Sadducean philosophy, maybe with the hope that Theophilus would use his influence to get the Sadducees to cease their persecution of the Christians. One could also look at Luke’s Gospel as an allegorical (רֶמֶז remez) reference to Jesus as “the man called the Branch” prophesied in Zechariah 3:8; 6:12–13, who is the ultimate high priest foreshadowed by the Levitical priesthood.

Most, if not all, of the commentaries on the Gospel of Luke say the “Question about the Resurrection” pericope presented in Lk. 20:27-40 is the only account in Luke of Jesus confronting the Sadducees. It is true that Luke only mentions the Sadducees by name once but it is not true that this pericope is the only one concerning the Sadducees. The Parables about the Good Samaritan, the Unjust Steward, the Rich Man and Lazarus and the Wicked Tenants are directed to the Sadducees who controlled the temple establishment. These parables are about unfaithful priests. They are the wicked sons of Eli.[10][self-published source?]

All of the New Testament passages concerning alms and almsgiving, except one in Matthew, are in Luke-Acts. Therefore, these parables may be about alms, almsgiving and the proper use of the wealth controlled by the temple authorities. Luke’s criticism focuses on the use of these temple resources by the religious aristocracy for their own selfish purposes. This means that the religious authorities controlled tremendous wealth that had been in times past properly distributed to the people as part of the institutional form of almsgiving. The priests in these parables are unfaithful, dishonest and disobedient because, inter alia, they have not invited the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind to the banquet table. Once the office of the High Priest became non-hereditary, and available to the highest bidder, the institutional role of almsgiving was abandoned or reduced as the purchaser had to recoup his purchase price.[10][self-published source?]

A minority view[who?] identifies Theophilus as a later high priest: Mattathias ben Theophilus who served from 65 to 66. Note that Luke refers to high priest Joseph ben Caiaphas simply as “Caiaphas”.[11] Thus, the reasoning goes, Luke used this pattern when addressing Theophilus.

Gloom and Darkness Before the Rising of the Son (The state of humanity before Christmas time)

November 11, 2022

Before we embark on our programme of learning about Advent and Christmas time it is good to pause and think about light and darkness.  It is great to get up in the morning and the sun is shining. however here in Finland as we come closer to the Christmas it gets darker and darker.  When it gets dark where I live it is very dark. It is so dark that it is easy to fall into the ditch. Here in Finland in certain places we have wolves and bears.  When it is dark there are dangers. Darkness can be scary on certain people like to watch horror films. I personally don’t like horror films and I certainly don’t want to be scared.

When I was a child I lived in Cyprus. Cyprus is a beautiful island, and the sun shines a lot. However, if you stay in the in the sun too long you will get burnt. Part of the culture is for the ladies especially, to stay where it is cool inside the house.  the men tend to go to the cafes and drink coffee. The sun is very hot, and you can get burned. If you put sunshine through a prism one can see lots of beautiful colours.  Show my friends light and darkness are very different. Emotionally when we’re in the light we can feel positive about life. When we are in the darkness it can make us feel negative. I don’t know if it’s true anymore, but I do know but at one time suicide was a serious problem in Finland because of the dark.

John uses light and darkness in his gospel. It is very interesting that John started to write his gospel with in the beginning. The beautiful thing about is his start to this gospel is that jaune takes his readers back to genesis chapter one, the creation story! What is look at genesis 1:

“The Creation

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. Genesis 1:1-5”

This is an amazing story! So, there was darkness everywhere and there was no order for the world. After the material universe was created it wasn’t a place where we could live as human beings. If anything the the the universe was a hostile place for human beings. Something had to happen and God created but heavens on the earth on the first day.  It wasn’t just darkness anymore but there was light. So the first day hard both light and darkness.  capital God’s word is very powerful my friend. The impressive thing is that God spoke and everything was created. I once read something by Rabbi Sacks.  He said that the Jewish religion is a spoken religion other nations put more emphasis on the visual stuff such as idols and so on. There are some very powerful stories in the Bible and stories are made-up of words. So then in Hebrew aren’t in Greek culture words play an important part for philosophy and religion. Without words you can’t have an argument.  Just imagine a world without words people would have to mime Found it will take a lot longer to get ones message across. In both Hebrew and Greek culture word has an important meaning it is linked to wisdom. For Greeks the logos was wisdom and this is how the philosophers used to talk about it. The power of word and wisdom has played a very important part in western cultures.

For Johns Jesus is the Word, “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God on the word was God”.  We also need to realise that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. In theology Jesus is fully God and fully Man at the same time. Jesus is usually referred to as the eternal Son and he has always existed with the father and the Holy Spirit.  God sent his son into the world not that the world would be destroyed but by through the work of Christ the world would be saved.

In all the great religions of the world light and darkness are important motifs in explaining great spiritual truths. Before we move on we need to realise what some  great Christians have said about this world. This is a fallen world and people have turned their backs on God. The natural man wants to enjoy himself and this seems to be the most important thing sometimes. In today’s world the idea of duty has been thrown out with the bathtub. There was a time row when there wasn’t sin in the world when God created the garden of Eden. I’m not really interested if you take it literally or whether you take it as an allegory both have the same message. The world God created was perfect and God walked in the garden and he talked with Adam and Eve and they had blissful communication.  This was such a beautiful picture but it was ruined because of disobedience and lies. Do not think that Satan hadn’t a part to play in this fall. Satan took on the form of a serpent and he started to give ideas to eve and he just twisted the truth a little bit to make it look beautiful. He said that if you eat of the tree you will not die but you will be like God.  That’s what he’s good at he deceives. This is why he was cast out of heaven. There is light and darkness my friends and we have been called to live in the light by faith in Christ.

We cannot save ourselves, yet God didn’t give up on us even though creation was marred.  On that special relationship we had with God, that was broken all that time ago, and it was not the end my friends. It would take great courage from God to save us. God became a man he lived among us; he was crucified, he was buried, but death could not hold him down as he was resurrected. Our Lord Jesus was resurrected and in him we can also have eternal life.  God had a plan for us from before the foundation of the world.

I don’t know how election works and there are different takes on it from different theological points of view. On the one hand you have the calvinists who Who talk about the five points of Calvinism:

  • total depravity
  • unconditional election
  • limited atonement
  • irresistible calling
  • perseverance of the Saints

the main drive is to protect the idea of the sovereignty of God that God elects his chosen people.  Others say that it is up to you to make that decision and to become a Christian. For some Christians this takes away the idea of the sovereignty of God.

Karl Barth has got a completely different idea, that Jesus is the as the elect of God and he is both judge on the one who is judged so that we can have eternal life. 1000 words is quite a lot actually

let the theologians argue over these things because it isn’t my point to win an argument. I’m only interested in looking at light and darkness as these are important motifs for the Christmas story.

Why did Jesus have to come into this world in the first place?

It’s because of sin, it is because of darkness, it is because we turned our backs on God. Even though we turned our backs on God, God did not give up on us. We are God special creation and he loves us, This is why the Christmas story is so special. We’re going to drill down a little bit into light and darkness now and we’re going to look at the beginning of John’s gospel in a little more detail where these motifs of light and darkness are found.

The Deity of Jesus Christ

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5

Verse one

This verse tells us that Jesus is God and it is a very important statement. Some have said that Jesus is a God with a small g.  this is not the case the eternal son was one with the father.

Verse 2

The second verse says that Jesus was with God at the beginning and this excludes angels. Believe it or not angels are created beings just like we are. As a general rule of thumb the good angels reside in the heavens but still they are only created beings. Satan is only a created being.

verse 3

If you remember we read genesis chapter one earlier and John John is reminding us dodgy Jesus played a part in the creation of the world. The creation was perfect my friends because God said on each day that it was good. If God said that it was good then what does it exclude?

It means it wasn’t bad, it was good, it was perfect and this is our God my friends.  In the letters of John it tells us that God is love. The nature of God is perfect love. God through the Son proved that he was perfect love. As a loving father you may be willing to give your life for your child. As a human being would you give your life up for a tramp? Human nature tells me no. This is what God did for us while we were grovelling in our sins and in our lawless state on our way to hell, God became a man. The perfect Creator the perfect Judge, the holy and perfect God became a human being. If you lived in heaven, would you be willing to give it all up?  In our human and selfish state, I don’t think we would leave heaven, that is my opinion.  God however left heaven the place of light and came t oa place full of darkness and lawlessness to sdave us.

Verses 4 -5

Our communion with God was broken and even though as Bavinck puts it somewhere we were spiritually dead to the things of God we were as it were a ‘dead twig’.  Jesus title in the Gospel of John is ‘Light of the World’.


This world is a mess and too many people live in poverty, sickness or in war situations.  If as humans, we cannot even take care of this world then how can we save ourselves from destruction.  I think you already know the answer to that question.  We are in dire straits and the only way this world can be saved is through direct intervention from the Divine (The Trinity).  When we think about this time of year leading into the advent period and into Christmas let us ponder where we as individuals stand.  Perhaps the person reading this blog is from another religion, no religion or agnostic.   All that I can say to you is that whoever you are, God loves you and he wants you to come into fellowship with him.  It is an invitation of love, pure love.  Pure love from God’s side is selfless love wanting only your good.  Even though I am exclusivist in my Christian faith it is because of my exclusivity that allows me to talk to people of other faith or no faiths in humility.  I am not any better than anyone else; God loves the wealthy and the tramps.  God loves the Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, atheist et al and the invitation is open to all.  Obviously, you might be from another faith and you might have an exclusive belief system that your religion is correct.  The truth is possibly the golden rule of loving ones neighbour is found in all of the great religions.  This Week we have started looking at this dark world.  We will continue looking at the Gospel and the Christmas story and picking various strands.  Thankyou for reading this blog. 

Let us build a house on a solid embedded rock and not on any sand

November 6, 2022

My apologies to my readers because I have not posted anything for a couple of Weeks.  The reason was that my computer gave up the ghost. I’m sure this has happened to a lot of people since computers came into the modern era.  So then in this connected world it can be so easy to lose ourselves with our digital friends.  We need to remember that when God created us, he created us in such a way that we didn’t have wires coming out of our heads.  Our Lord explains to us in the Sermon on the Mount the importance of our relationship with God and with our neighbours.  By God’s grace and mercy let us have our lives aligned in love with God and our neighbour. 

Today we are going to finish our series by looking at

  1. The narrow and wide gates Matthew. Matthew 7. 13-14
  2. A tree and its fruit Matthew 7. 15-23
  3. The two foundations Matthew 7. 13-29

Let’s begin by reading:

The Narrow and Wide Gates

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”


Tyndale the English Martyr says the following:

The strait gate is the true knowledge and understanding of the law,* and of the true intent of works: which whosoever understandeth, the same shall be driven to Christ, to fetch of his fulness, and to take him for his righteousness and fulfilling of the law, altogether at the beginning, and as oft as we fall afterward, and for more than the thousandth part of our fulfilling of the law and righteousness of our best works all our life long. For except the righteousness of Christ be knit to the best deed we do, it will be too short to reach to heaven.

And the narrow way is to live after this knowledge.* He that will enter in at this gate must be made anew: his head will else be too great; he must be untaught all that he hath learned, to be made less for to enter in; and disused in all things to which he hath been accustomed, to be made less, to walk through that narrow way; where he shall find such an heap of temptations, and so continual, that it shall be impossible to endure or to stand, but by prayer of strong faith.

(William Tyndale, Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures, Together with the Practice of Prelates, ed. Henry Walter, vol. 1, The Works of William Tyndale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1849), 120–121.)

So, then I would have missed this point which is very important:

” The strait gate is the true knowledge and understanding of the law, and of the true intent of works: which whosoever understandeth, the same shall be driven to Christ,”

As we already know from our regular Bible readings of this Sermon on the Mount that Jesus did not come to ‘abolish’ the law but to fulfill it.  The summing of the law is very simple:

  1. Love God
  2. Love your neighbour

Outside of Christ in our own strength it is impossible to please God because we have a lot of sinful baggage we carry on our shoulders. Just to make it easy St Paul gives us a whole list of vices that break the law of God:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21 NASB

Which ones of these have we not done in our daily living?

These things (and others) we have inherited from the sinful world we have been born into because of the Fall.  This list excludes us all from the kingdom of God.  However, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus kept the law perfectly and through his death on the cross and the resurrection by faith in Christ by the Holy Spirit we can have eternal life.

The wide gate then is naturally an easy gate to follow and as human beings by doing these things in the worldly sense we could become financially well off at the expense of others.  I am not saying that every rich person has followed this way but I am saying that wealth is a great temptation and even our Lord warns about the trappings of mammon.

Our Lord while he was in this corrupt world kept the following and others perfectly:

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. “Galatians 5:22-23 NASB

Even when our Lord was dying on the cross he said, “forgive them for they know not what they do”

Our Lord through his life death and resurrection showed us perfectly how to live by faith because he live the narrow gate.  There is only one narrow gate, and it is the way of faith, hope and love. 

Before we move on to the next section the gates are a time for us to focus at where we stand before God or don’t stand.   It is not by good works that we are saved though, but good works flow from the Christian person ‘out of gratitude’, for what God has done for us already or putting it another way, works are the fruit of faith.  The disciple of Jesus having focused on their walk with God is now ready to focus on being aware of counterfeit Christianity within the Church.  In the following section our Lord gives his disciples advice:

A Tree and Its Fruit

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  So, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’


William Tyndale begins by saying:

 Here Christ warneth thee,* and describeth unto thee those captains that should so blind the great multitude that they should not find the strait gate, and lead them the broad way to perdition. Note first, that though they be false, yet he calleth them prophets, which word in the new testament is taken for an expounder and an interpreter of scripture. And he saith, “They shall come to you,” my disciples.

(William Tyndale, Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures, together with the Practice of Prelates, ed. Henry Walter, vol. 1, The Works of William Tyndale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1849), 121.)

Tyndale with his keen eye on the text makes a very important point.  These false disciples are called ‘false prophets.’  It means that these particular false teachers have not come from outside the church but from within (heresy).  Our Lord gives us some advice on how to spot false teachers:

“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” Matthew 7:16

I think this is very good advice from our Lord.  Today we see in the Church the ‘rejection of holy living’.  I see people dangerously reforming the interpretation of the text.  The excuse being that ‘the world has changed and we need to change with the times.’ No, my friends our Lord says:

““Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” Matthew 7:21-23

In many churches the idea of holiness is thrown out that one can be a Christian and still practice immoral acts.  This is false teaching.  The Nicolaitans the precursors of the gnostics practised immorality and John in his book on Revelations wrote about their teachings.  As Christians we are called to love our neighbour no matter what their practices, but we are also called to hate the sin that is practised and through repentance purify the Church.  Some of the Churches have caved into this false teaching.  The reason why they caved in is because the Church has been willing to put people into positions of authority whilst not living to the standards of Scripture.  Those people became the future leaders who were able to vote at the synods for unholy objectives.  Corruption is rife. 

The corruption that was in secret has ebbed its way to the front.  What our Lord Jesus said here has come true.  What our Lord has said has come true over many centuries even to today.  We need to beware of false teachers in our midst and cut the gangrene away. 

So, then my friends we have learned many things along the way.  The beatitudes for me is the key to understanding the Sermon on the Mount.  The natural person needs to come to a realization that they are full of sin and that they cannot save themselves. By the work of the Trinity, we realize that God did everything for us.  God sent his Son the Lord Jesus into the world who died for us and rose again from the dead.  Jesus has opened a new and living way and through the Holy Spirit this spiritually dead stick can be born again to newness of life through the gift of faith. Our Lord finishes off by giving us two options.  One way leads to eternal life and the other way leads to eternal death:

The Two Foundations

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:13-29


  • There is a narrow gate and a wide gate
  • There is a firm foundation and a sandy foundation

Our Lord starts by getting us to focus on where we are spiritually.  Only then does he look at the false teachers in our midst.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the law which is the opposite of lawlessness. Our Lord begins by giving us steppingstones to get closer to the kingdom of God.  Once through the maze of our own sin Christ takes us to look at our relationships with others. 

So looking back we have covered:

  • The Sermon on the Mount; The Beatitudes Matthew 5:1
  • Disciples and the World Matthew 5:13
  • Personal Relationships Matthew 5:21
  • Giving to the Poor and Prayer Matthew 6:1
  • Fasting; The True Treasure; Wealth (Mammon) Matthew 6:16
  • The Cure for Anxiety Matthew 6:25
  • Judging Others Matthew 7:1
  • Prayer and the Golden Rule Matthew 7:7
  • The Narrow and Wide Gates Matthew 7:13
  • A Tree and Its Fruit Matthew 7:15
  • The Two Foundations Matthew 7:24

No matter what denomination or no denomination I hope that you have gotten closer to the teachings of Jesus.  The next big celebration will be Christmas where we will be reminded about his incarnation.  When God became a man. We need to realize though these teachings are also part of the incarnation.  They are part of the incarnation because Jesus indeed was a real human being who lived a real life among us in this corrupt world.

The Golden Rule as a reflection for Asking and Seeking from God

October 23, 2022

We have already seen how our Lord wants us to pray in the Our Father:

  • Adoration; We give God the glory that belongs to him (Our Creator, the One who gave us life and redeems us and keeps us)
  • Confession; We confess that he is God, The Most Holy et al.
  • Thanksgiving; We continually thank God for all good things come from Him
  • Supplication; We make our requests to a Holy God through Christ.

The above is just some things about the prayer.  The prayer also has at the end about forgiving others.

The verses below I think are some of the most misinterpreted verses in certain churches that push wealth as important (on a pedestal).  That is a complete misfit of what the text is about. 

Let us begin by reading the text:

(Prayer and the Golden Rule)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:7-12 NASB

The Word commentary, William Barclay and William Tyndale (Martyr for the English Bible) give us important explanations about the tenses.

Grammatical and contextual Points

Verse 7

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

The verbs to ask to seek and to know are in the present imperatives. 

These verbs should be interpreted as keep asking; keep seeking; keep knocking. Prayer is a continual thing, and it does not stop.   I can also mention that these verbs are also in the plural.  Jesus was speaking to his disciples and others at this event on ‘the mountain’.

The verbs will receive; will find; will open are all in the future tense. 

Verse 8

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Receives, finds and knocks in this verse are in the present tense.  It is also in the singular

Verses 9-10

Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?

Here we have everyday objects in two different categories:

  • Bread and fish are staple foods in a fishing and farming village
  • Stone and snake have negative and opposite connotations are from my point of view found in the temptation story earlier on in the Gospel

Verse 11

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

Good and evil compared and contrasted in light of our creator and our evil nature.

Verse 12

The Golden Rule!

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:7-12 NASB

My commentary on this section

God is our heavenly Father and in Christ our Redeemer and through the work of the Holy Spirit we as disciples are given advice for the nitty gritty daily living of our lives on the backdrop of the eschaton (The End Times).  God is love and this love principle of God’s goodness ought to also drive our walk with God (verse 12).  Even though we are evil, we still have the capacity to look after those under our care (verse 11).  So too God is indeed (Most Holy and Most Good) and he encourages us to live by faith and the motivation is love.

We ought to keep praying and asking God and by the Holy Spirit; By the incarnational life of Jesus on Earth; through the Holy Scriptures by God’s grace poured into our hearts and lives.  God will indeed answer our prayers.

There are prayers that God will not answer.  Those prayers that go against what we have learned through his Trinitarian teachings as found in Holy Scripture. Prayers that:

  • Feed our selfish ego (greed and money)
  • Revenge
  • Pride
  • And so, on

In summary then verse 12;

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:7-12 NASB


As Christians in our relationships, we ought to love each and every person and it is not always an easy thing to do.  In our prayers things can get in the way such as greed for monetary gain, pride, revenge et al.   Through prayer, reading and studying holy Scripture and spending time with others of the same mind, our hearts and minds are purified.  As each day goes on in our lives, we become more like our Master the Lord Jesus Christ; although fully God he became fully man and as the Prototype and Image of God in Him our reflection becomes continually more like our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

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William Tyndale’s comments here if you are interested

First, note of these words,* that to pray is God’s commandment, as it is to believe in God, to love God, or to love thy neighbour; and so are alms and fasting also. Neither is it possible to believe in God, to love him, or to love thy neighbour, but that prayer will spring out there-hence immediately.* For to believe in God is to be sure that all thou hast is of him, and all thou needest must come of him: which if thou do, thou canst not but continually thank him for his benefits, which thou continually, without ceasing, receivest of his hand; and thereto ever cry for help, for thou art ever in need, and canst no whence else be holpen. And thy neighbour is in such necessity also: wherefore, if thou love him, it will compel thee to pity him, and to cry to God for him continually, and to thank as well for him as thyself.

Secondarily, this heaping of so many words together, “ask,* seek, and knock,” signify that the prayer must be continual; and so doth the parable of the widow, that sued to the wicked judge: and the cause is, that we are ever in continual necessity, as I said; and all our life [is] but even a warfare and a perpetual battle;* in which we prevail as long as we pray, and be overcome as soon as we cease praying: as Israel overcame the Amalekites, as long as Moses held up his hands in prayer; and as soon as he had let down his hands for weariness,* the Amalekites prevailed and had the better. Christ warned his disciples at his last supper, to have peace in him; affirming that they should have none in the world.* The false prophets shall ever impugn the faith in Christ’s blood, and enforce to quench the true understanding of the law, and the right meaning and intent of all the works commanded by God; which fight is a fight above all fights. First, they shall be in such number, that Christ’s true disciples shall be but a small flock in respect of them. They shall have works like Christ’s; so that fasting, prayer, poverty, obedience, and chastity, shall be the names of their profession. For, as Paul saith to the Corinthians, the angels or messengers of Satan shall change themselves into angels or messengers of light and truth.* They shall come in Christ’s name, and that with signs and miracles; and have the upper hand also,* even to deceive the very elect, if it were possible. Yea, and beyond all this, if thou get the victory of the false prophets, and pluck a multitude out of their hands, there shall immediately rise of the same, and set up a new false sect against thee. And against all these Amalekites the only remedy is to lift up the hands of thy heart to God in continual prayer:* which hands if thou for weariness once let fall, thou goest to the worst immediately. Then, beside the fight and conflict of the subtle sophistry, false miracles, disguised and hypocritish works of these false prophets, cometh the dogs and wolves of their disciples, with the servants of mammon, and the swine of thine own scholars: against which all thou hast no other shield or defence but prayer. Then the sins and lusts of thine own flesh, Satan, and a thousand temptations unto evil in the world, will either drive thee to the castle and refuge of prayer, or take thee prisoner undoubtedly.

Last of all,* thy neighbour’s necessity and thine own will compel thee to cry, “Father, which art in heaven, give us our daily bread;” though thou wert as rich as king Salomon. For Christ commandeth the rich, as well as the poor, to cry to God continually for their daily bread; and if they have no such need, then is Christ a deceiver and a mocker. What need I to pray thee to give, or lend me, that is in mine own possession already? Is not the first commandment, that there is but one God, and that thou put thy whole trust in him? Which if it were written in thine heart, thou shouldest easily perceive, and though thou hadst as many thousands as David left behind him, and Salomon heaped more to them, that thou hadst no more than the poor beggar that goeth from door to door; yea, and that the beggar (if that commandment be written in his heart) is sure that he is as rich as thou.

For first, thou must knowledge that thou hast received that great treasure of the hand of God. Wherefore, when thou fetchest an halfpenny thereof, thou oughtest to give God thanks in thine heart for the gift thereof.

Thou must confess,* also, that God only hath kept it and thee that same night, and ever before; or else be an idolater, and put thy trust in some other thing than God. And thou must confess, that God only must keep it and thee, the day and night following, and so continually after; and not thine own wit or power, or the wit or power of any other creature or creatures. For if God kept it not for thee, it would be thine own destruction, and they that help thee to keep it would cut thy throat for it. There is no king in christendom so well beloved, but he hath enow of his own evil subjects (if God kept them not down with fear) that would at one hour rise upon him and slay him, to make havoc of all he hath. Who is so well beloved throughout all England, but that there be enow in the same parish, or nigh about, that would, for his good, wish him to hell if they could, and would with their hands destroy him, if God kept him not, and did1 cast fear on the other?

Now, then, if God must ever keep it for thee, and thou must daily receive it of his hand (as a poor man doth receive his alms of another man), thou art in no more surety of thy daily bread, no, though thou were a cardinal, than the poorest is. Wherefore, howsoever rich thou be, yet must thou ever cry to God for thy daily bread. So now it is a commandment to pray, and that continually; short, thick, and oft, as the psalms be, and all the prayers of the bible.

Finally,* the third is, that we be commanded to pray with faith and trust; and that we believe in the Lord our God, and doubt not in his promises, unto which Christ induceth us with an apt similitude, saying, “If ye being evil can give good things unto your children, how much more shall God fulfil his promises of mercy unto his children, if they cry unto him!” He is better and more merciful than all men. Wherefore, seeing God commandeth thee to pray, and forasmuch as thou hast so great necessity so to do, and because he is merciful, and hath promised and is true, and cannot deny his own words; therefore pray; and when thou prayest, look not on thine unworthiness, but on his commandment, mercy, and goodness, and on his truth and faithfulness, and believe stedfastly in him. Moreover, whatsoever thou hast done, yet if thou repent and will amend, he promiseth that he will not think on thy sins.* And though he defer thee, think it not long, nor faint not in thy faith, or be slack in thy prayer: for he will surely come and give thee more than thou desirest, though he defer for thy profit, or change thy request into a better thing.

  All things, therefore, whatsoever ye would men should do to you, so do ye to them. This is, verily, the law and the prophets.

This is a short sermon, that no man need complain that he cannot,* for the length, bear it away. It is so nigh thee, that thou needest not to send over sea for it. It is with thee, that thou needest not to be importune upon master doctor, saying, ‘Sir, I pray you, what say ye to this case and to that; and is not this lawful, and may I not so do, and so, well enough?’ Ask thine own conscience, what thou mayest or oughtest to do. Wouldest thou men did so with thee? then do it. Wouldest thou not be so dealt with? then do it not. Thou wouldest not that men should do thee wrong and oppress thee: thou wouldest not that men should do thee shame and rebuke, lie on thee, kill thee, hire thine house from thee, or tice thy servant away, or take against thy will aught that is thine.* Thou wouldest not that men should sell thee false ware, when thou puttest them in trust to make it ready, or lay it out for thee; nor thou wouldest not that men should deceive thee with great oaths, swearing that to be good which indeed is very naught: thou wouldest not, also, that men should sell thee ware that is naught and too dear, to undo thee. Do no such things, then, to thy neighbour. But as loth as thou wouldest be to buy false ware, or too dear, for undoing thyself, so loth be thou to sell false ware, or too dear, for undoing thy neighbour. And in all thy needs how glad thou wouldest be to be holpen, so glad be to help thy neighbour. And so, in all cases, examine thy conscience, and ask her what is to be done, in all doubts between thy neighbour and thee; and she will teach thee, except thou be more filthy than a swine, and altogether beastly.

He saith here,* “This is the law and the prophets.” And he saith,* “Thou shalt love thy Lord God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind:” and, as Mark addeth, “with all thy might,* and thy neighbour as thyself. In these two commandments hangeth the whole law and the prophets.” And Paul (Rom. 13 and Gal. 5) saith, that “love is the fulfilling of the law.” And it is written, that “Christ is” the fulfilling or “end of the law.” To make all these agree, this thou must understand; that to love God purely is the final and uttermost end of all the law and the prophets.* To love thy neighbour is the end of all laws that is between man and man; as are, kill not, steal not, bear no false witness, commit none adultery, covet not thy neighbour’s wife, his house, ox, ass, maid, man-servant, nor aught that is his, &c. Christ is the fulfilling of the law for us, where we be imperfect; and when we break and repent, his fulfilling is imputed unto us. And this text, “This is the law and the prophets,” mayest thou understand as when Paul saith, “Love is the fulfilling of the law:” that is, to do as thou wouldest be done to, is all the law that is between thee and thy neighbour; and that according to the true understanding and interpreting of all true prophets.

William Tyndale, Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures, Together with the Practice of Prelates, ed. Henry Walter, vol. 1, The Works of William Tyndale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1849), 115–120. Taken from Logos Bible Software

The picture I used this Week for the blog was taken from:

““You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7; With emphasis on blasphemy

October 15, 2022

Today we are going to look at blasphemy and let’s look at the third commandment that Moses wrote down:

““You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7; from Olive Tree Software

 This commandment forbids blasphemy in the strongest terms.  Unfortunately, in our society most people don’t go to church.  If they hear the word blasphemy, they probably don’t know what it is or its meaning.  Even if the meaning was known, perhaps they still wouldn’t see the point in it because possibly they are atheists or haven’t thought about what religion is all about.  So, let’s begin by finding out what the English language has to say about it. 

Blasphemy and its root in English

Etymonline says:

” “impious or profane speaking of God or sacred things,” early 13c., from Old French blasfemie “blasphemy,” from Late Latin blasphemia, from Greek blasphemia “a speaking ill, impious speech, slander,” from blasphemein “to speak evil of.” Second element is phēmē “utterance” (from PIE root *bha- (2) “to speak, tell, say”); first element uncertain, perhaps related to blaptikos “hurtful,” though blax “slack (in body and mind), stupid” also has been proposed; de Vaan suggests a connection with the root of Latin malus “bad, unpleasant” (from PIE root *mel- (3)). In Old Testament usage the word applied to a more specific crime, against the reverence for Jehovah as ruler of the Jews, comparable to treason.”

In this section we can see that it is to do with slandering and speaking evil towards God our Trinitarian Creator.  Then below from the same page we are given a definition way back from 1895.  At this time Herman Bavinck was making a serious impact on Dutch society.

    “Blasphemy cognizable by common law is described by Blackstone to be “denying the being or providence of God, contumelious reproaches of our Saviour Christ, profane scoffing at the Holy Scripture, or exposing it to contempt or ridicule”; by Kent as “maliciously reviling God or religion”; and by Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw as “speaking evil of the Deity with an impious purpose to derogate from the Divine Majesty and to alienate the minds of others from the love and reverence of God.” [Century Dictionary, 1895]” Both quotations From;

Contumelious = (of behaviour) scornful and insulting; insolent. From Google search

Basically, blasphemy then is about:

  • denying the existence of God
  • Scoffing at Holy Scripture which tells us about God
  • Impious purpose using derogatory means to insult God and believers
  • To alienate people from the love and reverence of God.

This then is basically what blasphemy is about.  It happens every day in society as Christians are mocked and taken to court for their religious beliefs in the 21st century.  Blasphemy is serious and it shows how low our society has gone since the 1970s.  When I was a child in the 1970’s I used to think to myself:

 “Why are the shops closed on a Sunday?”

I didn’t really understand what the Sabbath was and why the Lord’s Day Sunday is so important (and I went to Church!).  The point is that the population moved away from God in their living.  In the UK and possibly in Europe too in all the countries that participated in World War 1 and World War 2, so many Christian men were slaughtered on the fields of Europe and around the world.  If one goes into various churches thought Great Britain one will see lists of the dead soldiers.  All Christian communities lost the heads of the families.  The man was important in the moral dimension of the family and hence the moral dimension of the morality of the country from which they came.   The UK lost its moral compass for the family, and this has led to ‘alternative families’ although in the first century AD in the Roman world slaves were also a part of family life.  For the Christian the family is made up of only husband, wife and children:

St Paul says:

“Marriage Like Christ and the Church

22 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.

Family Relationships

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.

4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

9 And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. Ephesians 5:22 – 6:9”

Using the World Wars as the moral compass we are now as a country a boat without a rudder, and anything goes.  Whether or not one is religious or not look at the facts how society has changed.  Don’t just blame the internet, the rot was already there.  We could have also looked at the French Revolution too for a lot of the root cause too.  Kuyper and Bavinck certainly thought so in their time.

So, when we look at blasphemy, please look at what is going to be said with some empathy.

Moving on from some basic ideas Herman Bavinck explains to us why blasphemy is so wrong.  Here are some Old Testament verses Herman Bavinck look at on page 190 of his Ethics:

  • Bavinck reminds us that in the Old Testament in the Law of Moses (Torah) blasphemy was punishable by death to the Israelite and the foreigner: (Lev. 24:15—16) (vv. 10-16; cf. Exod. 5:2; 14:23-30; 1 Kings 20:23; 2 Kings 18:19—-40; 19:10-18; Dan. 3:15).
  • Contempt for God Numbers 16:30
  • Forsaking God Isaiah 1:4

Contempt for God

30 But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.” Numbers 16:30

This verse is in the context of Korah’s rebellion.  Perhaps they were looking for power.  We have this problem even today when people want to be number 1.  This is also one of the reasons that Satan was thrown out of heaven. 

Turning away from God (Forsaking)

Alas, sinful nation,

People weighed down with iniquity,

Offspring of evildoers,

Sons who act corruptly!

They have abandoned the LORD,

They have despised the Holy One of Israel,

They have turned away from Him. Isaiah 1:4

There are different ways of turning away from God. This is my summary:

  • Love for God and giving him worship which rightfully Belongs to God.
  • Love of neighbour (the image of God), Gods reflection especially the poor, widows and orphans.

After the Lord saved Israel, He made a covenant with them at Sinai.  The covenant kept on being broken through their history and therefore judgement came.

Blasphemy and the New Testament from the point of view of Herman Bavinck

Bavinck says: “In the New Testament to blaspheme is to appropriate what belongs only to God” and then we have this verse:

The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” John 10:33

Jesus was accused of claiming to be God (from the point of view of his critics).  They refused to accept him as the Messiah.  Bavinck goes on to say that they were blaspheming Jesus while he hung on the cross:

And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads Matthew 27:39

Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, Mark 15:29

St Paul before his conversion used to force believers to blaspheme so he could punish them:

6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Acts 18:6

11 And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities. Acts 26:11

God saved Paul from his evil self and gave him a second chance:

13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 1 Timothy 1:13

Bavinck goes on to say that these blasphemies come out of the heart of people:

(Mark 7:20—23)

20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

This is the most serious blasphemy:

“To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is to directly oppose the activities of God, whom one acknowledges and must acknowledge as divine. Blasphemy is an outburst of hatred against God and his world dominion because they conflict with the sinful human reality; it is demonic madness. Humans then declare that they are not beings who sin against God, but that God sins against them; they posit their worldview as higher than and superior to God’s, whose view is deemed to be unjust and unreasonable. This sin is committed in thought as well as words.” Blasphemy is thus not a mere denial of God’s existence, properties, and providence, but instead attributing to him the opposite: to deem God to be unjust, cruel, or the like, to mock his assumed holiness and love, and to represent oneself as much holier, wiser, and just.”

From Reformed Ethics volume 2; page 191; edited by John Bolt; Baker Publishing House

Reflection on Blasphemy

For billions of people God who takes on various shape and form in their cultures is seen as Omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient:

  • All powerful
  • Present everywhere
  • All knowing
  • The Ultimate Intelligent being who is responsible for the creation of all known reality

Even though this is a fact, God is slandered every single day!  Religious people and non-religious people need to get on with each other in the world.  This includes:

  • In the workplace
  • With the family
  • At social gatherings
  • In politics.

If a person slanders another person, they can be taken to court and be sued.  There are laws to protect the various religious groups in the UK but somehow when speaking about the Divine Reality, He God can be slandered and there is no comeback.   This has actually been the case since 2008.  The religious make of the UK changed in 2018 in which religion is now the minority view.  Most people are brought up without relgion somehow. This is an interesting graph from wikipoeadia:

From Wikipedia about religion in the United Kingdom

You can see that Christian Protestantism started a downward trend in 1939.  By 2018 the number of none-affiliates started to grow. Then in the 1970’s there is another sharp decline.  At one time shops used to be closed on a Sunday and this has changed.  Religion in the past played a major role in moral values but this is not the case anymore.  As we know marriages, divorces other types of family have been growing.  It isn’t a surprise that the laws against blasphemy were got rid of.  It doesn’t surprise me that same sex marriages have been on the up.  A large section of the British community do not take God very seriously.  With death of the Protestant Christian men from the two World Wars, I believe that the rot set in. 

Secularism on its own is supposed to give an equal playing field for the different interest groups.  Unfortunately, it does not take human nature into account.  Materialism in Europe and Britain has gone off the charts.  Greed has been rampant in British politics for a long time. Brexit was a smoke screen for this greed especially for those in power.  Religious values are all the time getting replaced by utilitarian values and in welfare terms each person has a price tag on their life.  So, if one is medically ‘not whole somehow’ then they have less money thrown to their upkeep.  It is not religious ethics that is doing this kind of thing.  In religion the human being has an innate value because each one of us no matter what is wrong with us has been a special creation.  Secularism and science working in tandem do not see the human being this way.   If one holds to the sanctity of life and all that this entails one is marginalised as ‘right wing’. 

Religious people seem to be under a lot of pressure at the moment and are ostracized for their faith.  They are ostracized for their views about the Sabbath, Sunday, blasphemy, heterosexual relationships being too narrow minded.  Religious people are not narrow minded but rather the opposite.  Their faith gives them stability in this turbulent world.  The Trinity gives us the bedrock for living in any society:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 John 3:16-18

Or Irenaeus’ great statement about our humanness:

Now man is a mixed organization of soul and flesh, who was formed after the likeness of God, and moulded by His hands, that is, by the Son and Holy Spirit, to whom also He said, “Let Us make man.”

(From ‘’)

Most people then speak out of ignorance about blasphemy.  Uneducated in the realms of Religious Education.  However, as believers we can say that when God created the world it was good.  The sin of Adam and Even sent humankind into a spiritual death.  We are the emissaries of a divine call.  We love God and we love our neighbour whoever they may be.  Christ died for the sins of the world because he loves the creation this includes reaching out to those alienated from God with the message of the Gospel by the Father and through the two hands of God; the Holy Spirit and the Son of God.

Scripture Index

Blasphemy and the New Testament quotations

(Matt. 27:39; Mark 15:29)

39 And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads Matthew 27:39

29 Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, Mark 15:29

(Matt. 26:65)

65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; Matthew 26:65

(John 10:33)

33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” John 10:33

(Acts 18:6; 26:11)

6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Acts 18:6

11 And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities. Acts 26:11

(1 Tim. 1:13)

13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 1 Timothy 1:13

(Rom. 2:24)

24 For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written. Romans 2:24

(Mark 7:20—23)

20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:20-23

(Matt. 12:32)

32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:32

(Mark 3:28-29)

28 “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— Mark 3:28-29

(Luke10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. Luke 12:10 12:10)


26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, Hebrews 10:26

(1 John 5:16-17)

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. 1 John 5:16-17

Bavincks OLD Testament verses on Blasphemy

15 Corresponding to the number of years after the jubilee, you shall buy from your friend; he is to sell to you according to the number of years of crops. 16 In proportion to the extent of the years you shall increase its price, and in proportion to the fewness of the years you shall diminish its price, for it is a number of crops he is selling to you. 17 So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 25:15-17

2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2

23 Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea. 24 At the morning watch, the LORD looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion. 25 He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from Israel, for the LORD is fighting for them against the Egyptians.”

26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. 29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Exodus 14:23-30

23 Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they. 1 Kings 20:23

19 Then Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, “What is this confidence that you have? 20 You say (but they are only empty words), ‘I have counsel and strength for the war.’ Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me? 21 Now behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed, even on Egypt; on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him. 22 But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’? 23 Now therefore, come, make a bargain with my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. 24 How then can you repulse one official of the least of my master’s servants, and rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 25 Have I now come up without the LORD’S approval against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’”’”

26 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah and Joah, said to Rabshakeh, “Speak now to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak with us in Judean in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 27 But Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me only to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, doomed to eat their own dung and drink their own urine with you?”

28 Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand; 30 nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, “Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern, 32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die.” But do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” 33 Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 35 Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’”

36 But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.” 37 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of Rabshakeh. 2 Kings 18:19-37

10 “Thus you shall say to Hezekiah king of Judah, ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, “Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, destroying them completely. So will you be spared? 12 Did the gods of those nations which my fathers destroyed deliver them, even Gozan and Haran and Rezeph and the sons of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, and of Hena and Ivvah?’”

Hezekiah’s Prayer

14 Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. 15 Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands 18 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. 2 Kings 19:10-18

15 Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” Daniel 3:15

30 But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.” Numbers 16:30

20 For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant. Deuteronomy 31:20

4 Alas, sinful nation,

People weighed down with iniquity,

Offspring of evildoers,

Sons who act corruptly!

They have abandoned the LORD,

They have despised the Holy One of Israel,

They have turned away from Him. Isaiah 1:4

The Judge who was Judged In our place; Main emphasis on judgementalism and Matthew 7 verses 1-6

October 8, 2022

This Week we have two English Theologians namely Colin Gunton commenting on Karl Barth (my tutor in the final year at King’s College London and William Tyndale who was martyred for his faith (16th Century)

We sometimes take our freedoms for granted.  William Tyndale (the Martyr) reminds us that some freedoms such as reading Scripture is worth dying for.  At the end of this blog, I give his view on Matthew 7 verses 1-6.   Later on, we will also be looking at Matthew 7:1-6 and we will be considering what our Lord Jesus said about judging others (especially within the Christian community.)

What is judgment?

There are many definitions in the English language:

‘The ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion’ (From;

Actually, there are many definitions for judging and this one was the second meaning (from the above web site).  The definitions I have seen tend to be very simplistic and usually the word is explained in a positive light (making good judgements).  We know differently because a lot of the time we can get it wrong.  In life we make judgements a lot of the time from the perspective of how it can ‘make me look better’.  When a person goes for a job, there can be competition and if one gets the job there is a feeling of elation but not for the one who failed the interview.  Unfortunately, in this world some interviewees will cheat to put themselves in a better light, or the interviewers have already chosen the candidate beforehand (which is illegal, but I am sure it goes on).

In God talk we know that the Judge is God.  We also know that our Lord Jesus in Christian confessions is both fully God and fully man (which is what I believe as I am Trinitarian).  For example, John 1 says:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 From NASB Olive Tree software

In the passage we are going to look at Colin Gunton is going to explain Karl Barth’s Metaphor of Christ as Judge who was judged in our sinful place.  This is found in book four; volume 1 of the Church Dogmatics:

“That section of Barth’s Church Dogmatics has to be understood in the context of Volume IV as a whole. In it, the atonement—or reconciliation as Barth prefers to call it—is understood as the threefold action of God’s self-humbling, humankind’s elevation to true humanity and the mediating action of Jesus Christ as both God and man. In our section, Barth argues that God exercises his function of judgement by taking to himself ‘the lost cause of man’ (p. 3). That human lostness is itself understood in terms of the primary metaphor to mean that, after the manner of Adam in Genesis 3, ‘man wants to be his own judge’ (p. 220). We stand in judgement on our neighbour in the attitude which for Barth encapsulates human sinfulness. We want to be ‘godlike’ and to convince ourselves that we are in the right and everybody else in the wrong. In response to our demonic self-divinisation God refuses to exercise a like judgement of superiority, but instead himself undergoes the judicial process. But just as our victories are really defeats and God’s defeat on the cross really a victory, so it is here. The refusal to exercise judgement is the way by which the judge of all things does effect his righteous rule.

How is this exercise of divine judgement to be understood? First of all, by means of an apparent paradox: ‘to show His grace in the execution of His judgement, to pronounce us free in passing sentence, to free us by imprisoning us, to ground our life on our death, to redeem and save us by our own destruction’ (p. 222). The paradox, however, is resolved in a twofold way by, so to speak, unpacking and expounding the metaphor. We have already seen that one of the functions of metaphor is to reveal hidden features of the human condition by carrying over meaning from one sphere of reality to another, and so it is here. To understand the cross as a judgement is to hold that just as a court decides and so declares a verdict of guilt, so the cross lays bare certain aspects of our condition—for example, the pride of our standing in judgement on others. But it is not simply a matter of showing something to be so. Because it is the action of the eternal Son become man, it is also a redemptive action taking place at the heart of our lostness:

  The ‘for us’ of His death on the cross includes and encloses this terrible ‘against us’. Without this terrible ‘against us’ it would not be the divine and holy and redemptive and effectively helpful ‘for us’ in which the conversion of man and the world to God has become an event. (p. 296) The judgement of which Barth speaks is a kind of death sentence, the metaphorical but real execution of the sinner:

 For the fact that God has given Himself in His Son to suffer the divine judgement on us men does not mean that it is not executed on us, but that it is executed on us … That Jesus Christ died for us does not mean, therefore, that we do not have to die, but that we have died in and with Him, that as the people we were we have been done away with and destroyed. (pp. 294f) God exercises his justice by revealing our sin, by bearing it and by destroying its power.

Colin E. Gunton, The Actuality of Atonement: A Study of Metaphor, Rationality, and the Christian Tradition (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2003), 110–112.” From

The reason I wanted to look at the metaphor of the Judge (our Lord) who was judged is because here in Matthew 7 Jesus talks about judging.  We find God doing something very special for us as Gunton says:

…the threefold action of God’s self-humbling, humankind’s elevation to true humanity and the mediating action of Jesus Christ as both God and man.  That is amazing that God humbled himself and this was the only way for humankind to be brought closer to God and this can only happen through Christ. Remembering that Jesus is fully God and fully human we now turn to Matthew 7 and read his special words on judging others:

1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:1-6

The basic meaning of judging and not judging is relatively simple to understand but there are a lot of things going on here in the text that we could miss.

  1. The basic meaning of the text
  2. Jesus our Lord the great Judge was judged in our place, and he is saying these words (Karl Barth on election)
  3. The log and the speck make me think that this example perhaps was taken from the carpentry shop in which our Lord probably helped Joseph. The Word commentary comments that the speck is really a piece of ‘saw dust’
  4. He talks about the ‘hypocrites’
  5. He makes a contrast between holy and unholy
  6. There is an indirect allusion to Judgement (‘tear you to pieces’)
  7. What we can learn.

Verse 1

Jesus here is talking to his disciples.  We know he is speaking to more than one person because there are plenty of second person plurals in the Greek.  Do not judge! literally in the Greek you(plural) do not judge! so you should not be judged (second person plural and future). 

These are important facts because it fits well with the beatitudes and the future state (heaven) that we will be in.  Although God as the Judge is not mentioned here, we have to accept that the text takes it as a given.

Verse 2

Our Lord gives us a warning that we ought to be careful what verdicts we give in this life.  We will not get away with a false verdict in the future state (eschaton). God is the perfect Judge, and his measure is always correct.  However as human beings we make mistakes many times.  For those in authority it is even more pronounced especially when someone goes to prison for a false verdict or even worse in some parts of the world the death sentence for a false verdict.  In our relations let us love God and love our neighbour and focus on love rather than finding fault with others.

Verse 3-4 the Log and the splinter (saw dust)

In this example of the log and the splinter Jesus Our Lord makes this example very personal.  The verbs switch from plural to singular.  Even in a very simple verdict such as a log and a splinter we personally can make serious mistakes. Before we can even sort out our brother or sisters’ mistakes, we need to first sort ourselves out.

Here we also see a great Jewish Rabbi (Our Lord) use hyperbolic language to make a point.  We know this because here our Lord is using metaphorical language.  A log is literally a beam of wood that is used for holding up houses! In contrast Our Lord also used the smallest (speck).   How can a log fit into someone’s eye? Obviously, it is nonsense.    The evaluation is made though our faults can be very big, and our brother’s fault can be very small.  Let’s be careful how we give verdicts.

Verse 5 (Hypocrite!)

The above word in the Greek is in the vocative singular.  It is singling out anyone who is judgmental and gives false verdicts.  

These are some verses earlier on in which the word hypocrite is used:

“So, when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honoured by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. Matthew 6:2

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. Matthew 6:5

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. Matthew 6:16 (verse taken from olive tree Bible software)

Up to this point our Lord does not point out who the hypocrites are but later on in the Gospel we find the finger pointing to the Pharisees and the Sadducees who were also those who were the religious leaders of Judah at that time.

This is why the beatitudes are so important for the believer.  The beatitudes hone in on our bad attitudes and values in light of the Last Judgement.

Verse 6 (the Judgement)

6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:6

This has all the features of Hebraic Parallelism as used in the book of proverbs:

  1. Do not give what is holy to dogs  
  2. do not throw your pearls before swine
  • or they will trample them under their feet
  • and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:6

In Judaism dogs and swine are seen as unclean animals and they would not be eaten:

Holy and dogs are opposites and so are pearls and pigs

The judgement is that those who abuse holiness (the hypocrites face Gods judgement).


Jesus our Judge

Jesus our Lord taught us about humility through his life’s work. Karl Barth and Colin Gunton shows us that the God of glory became a human being and died in our place on the cross.  O what humility from God! Our Mediator the Lord Jesus Christ is explaining to us about showing love in our relationships with other believers. 

The thing I like about this judging metaphor is that our Lord uses it from the world of carpentry.  Jesus our Lord was indeed a carpenter!

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” Mark 6:3

 Jesus takes this metaphor straight from his human world of work.  Our Lord probably mended some of those fishermen’s boats as well as roofs of houses such as the one that had a hole in it to let the paralytic down to be healed:

Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. Mark 2:4

Jesus possibly before starting his commissioning probably at the workshop, made beds, chairs and various fittings for his customers.


We need to be careful though, not all Pharisees were bad (Nicodemus).  When we look at this section, we need to read it in light of what has already been said.  Jesus our Judge lived out the beatitudes absolutely perfectly and his goodness took him to the cross on which he was judged for our sins! Karl Barth is certainly onto something here!

The meaning of the text

I agree with the Word commentary series because Jesus is not saying ‘don’t judge at all’.  It is talking about attitudes towards others that we shouldn’t be so arrogant but through love speak the truth.  However, there is a warning and we noticed there was also an allusion to the ‘Lord Day’ at the end of time.  Jesus will speak more of this later on in Matthews Gospel.  Judgement starts with the household of God (the Church).


Anyhow I continued reading and I came across William Tyndale (The Martyr for the English Bible). This is what he says.  I’ve included his translation.  The truth is that the majority of the New Testament that came to be known as the King James Version (1611) was his work!

 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For as ye judge, so shall ye be judged; and with what measure ye mete, with the same shall it be measured to you again. Why lookest thou on the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, and markest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how canst thou say to thy brother, Let me pluck out the mote out of thine eye, and, behold, there is a beam in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, pluck first the beam out of thine own eye; and then thou shalt see clearly to pluck the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

THIS is not meant of the temporal judgments;* for Christ forbade not that, but oft did stablish it; as do Peter and Paul in their epistles also. Nor here is it not forbidden to judge those deeds which are manifest against the law of God; for those ought every Christian man to persecute, yet must they do it after the order that Christ hath set. But when he saith, “Hypocrite,* cast out first the beam that is in thine own eye,” it is easy to understand of what manner of judging he meaneth.”

William Tyndale, Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures, together with the Practice of Prelates, ed. Henry Walter, vol. 1, The Works of William Tyndale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1849), 112.  From

The Greek Tyndale (Tindal) used was that by Erasmus.  This Greek was also the basis for the German Bible that Luther translated. If one wants to parse the personal pronouns of the Greek New Testament just follow the King James version.  Tyndale did a great job.  When, he translated it, it was not only for accuracy but that it would sound good too when it is read out loud.  The Finnish Bible too used Erasmus’ Greek. 

  • Roman Catholic Erasmus New Testament Greek          1516
  • Roman Catholic Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples New Testament  in French  1523
  • Protestant Tyndale translated New Testament in 1534
  • Protestant Agricola translated New Testament in 1548
  • Protestant Luther translated New Testament in 1522


William Tyndale was murdered (1536) for his work on the New Testament and his beliefs.  His work and his legacy in the English-speaking world changed the world for ever.  It was because of his work that in Britain we have free speech.  Today it seems to be fashionable to attack Christian faith in the workplace.  The very freedoms that are taken for granted today came out of the Bible. 

The Third Commandment: How praying, Reading Scripture can Protect us from Dishonouring God’s Holy Name (Reflections from Herman Bavinck)

September 30, 2022

 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. Exodus 20:7 NAS

Here in this command, we are dealing with the honour of God’s name.  As believers we are ambassadors of Christ, and we are called to be holy and blameless in Christ by the Holy Spirit.  The truth is though, we fail time and again to live up to these standards.  For the believer it is very important to eat ‘humble pie’.  We are sinners saved by grace and there are these two natures in us vying to control us, have sovereignty over our life.  Christ said in Matthew 5 that true religion begins with ‘poverty in spirit’.  Only God can save us from our sins and that it is important to live the life of faith and by faith.  We realize that God created us, he redeemed us through Christ, and we have been given the Holy Spirit our Comforter and Teacher and Trainer in righteousness.  For Bavinck the fruit of faith (good works) is out of heart of gratitude for what God did for us first.  We love our Trinitarian God so let us keep the third commandment and honour his good name.  Today I will in the long run look at one aspect of this commandment; ‘cursing’.  I hope to give practical advice through this study to help us to walk the path of truth and thus honour God’s name by the grace he gives us on a daily basis.

It is amazing how Bavinck the Master Theologian speaks about the third commandment as he says:

“The First Commandment deals with the true God, the Second with the true religion, the Third with private religion, and the Fourth with the public (communal) exercise of that true religion.”  (From: Reformed Ethics, Herman Bavinck, volume 2, page 180, Baker Academic)

If we look at his list very carefully:

  1. The True God
  2. The true religion
  3. Private religion
  4. Public (communal) religion

Here in the first commandment God starts by giving his personal name ‘the Lord’ in English translations. The second commandment rejects other gods as no gods.  This is a strict Monotheism. Bavinck somewhere else reminds us that God has other names too.  He points out that from the Christian perspective Father, Son and Holy Spirit are some other names for God too. (John Bolt the editor gave us a reference from E. Sartorius a Lutheran theologian from the 19th century which Bavinck cites). True Monotheistic religion has no place for any form of Paganism in which other gods are worshipped.

We then come to the third commandment the one that we have been looking at last time:

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. Exodus 20:7 NASB (from Olive Tree software)

Bavinck here labels this commandment as ‘private religion’.  This commandment is about us as human beings at work, home, in marketplace, with friends et al.  God has said here that wherever we are and whatever we are doing we ought to show love to our Lord by not abusing his name.  Obviously, there are times when we are not so guarded about our beliefs and at these times it is so easy to fall into a trap and sin against God (even without realizing it).

Obviously, we are under grace, and we know Christ died for us, but have you also realized that it is even more serious for the Christian.  These laws are no longer written on stone, but Scripture says that the law is written on our hearts! Becoming a Christian only means that we have been brought into the Church.  This does not mean that as soon as we become Christians that we have reached perfection.  No, my friends it is a work that takes a lifetime and even when we have gone to heaven, Christ is still working on us.  As we grow older in the faith in Christ by the Holy Spirit, we start to become more mature.  Bavinck helps us here to realize where we could sin (with or without realizing it). 

For Bavinck there are five areas in which the third commandment does not allow:

  1. Cursing
  2. Swearing falsely
  3. Unnecessary swearing
  4. Blasphemy
  5. Any misuse of God’s name

Bavinck shows us that cursing is the opposite of ‘praying or blessing’.  In cursing there is usually sin and anger involved.  In his summary he also says:

“’ Instead of persons offering their wills to serve God, the curse uses God’s holy will for the service of our sinful will. Cursing is not praying that God’s righteousness may be revealed and shown, but demanding, requiring, charging God to punish our enemy.”

Bavinck is right.  It is so easy to curse and I’m sure we have all done it sometime in our lives.  I think various countries have different ways of showing their anger. In English speaking countries the ‘F’ word is very popular and the two fingered salute.  In actuality these particular words depending on the social criteria can mean both a curse and a blessing to the person who it is aimed at.  The two fingered salute came into being from the medieval periods when the bowmen of England would show their fingers.  If the French capture an English bowman, they would cut off his finger so he couldn’t shoot arrows anymore.  So, as a defiance on the battlefields it was customary to show two fingers to the French as a mark of defiance (From the time of Henry the 5th at the Battle of Agincourt).

(The two fingered salute= From:

The F word origins = From:

As believers we should refrain from this sort of language, but it is very difficult.  The reason it is difficult is, because it is so ingrained into society that no matter what job a person does, one is going to hear these profanities.  This is why prayer, worship times, reading the Bible regularly are very important. St Paul talks a lot about the importance of the renewal of the mind.  It is also very interesting that the Dalai Lama always seems to be very happy.  What is the connection?

Practical helps to overcome cursing and allied subjects


Prayer helps us to think about issues outside of ourselves and it helps to build an inward attitude of empathy and love towards others wanting their good.  Whether we are religious or not we are all spiritual beings.  Believers talk about God and the soul whereas secularists would talk about a person’s psychology.  It is the inner person.

Reading the Bible

Reading the Bible has a purifying effect as the Holy Spirit speaks directly to us and changes us from the inside out.  Somewhere it says:

“For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord: “I will put My law within them and write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33 From Bible Gateway; See also Hebrews 8 verse 10


When we worship whatever way, we do it, we give God his glory as the True Creator and Redeemer of our souls.  God is holy and to stand in his presence there has to be some reverence for God.

These are just some practical ways a believer through his/her Trinitarian faith can protect themselves from cursing.

Bavinck’s Scriptural Evidences on cursing

Our Master Theologian Herman Bavinck gives us a whole List of Scriptures on cursing that is found in the Bible.  In the first set of texts, it is God who is cursing.  In the second set various people have been given permission to curse for the honour of God’s name.  Thirdly we have the ‘imprecatory Psalms’ which are also quoted in the New Testament:

God Curses

  • Not all cursing is wrong. God himself curses humans (Gen. 3:16-19) and the earth and all it contains (Gen. 3:17),
  • sends the Flood as a curse (Gen. 5:29; 8:21),
  • God will curse those who curse Abraham (Gen.12:3).
  • God curses transgressors of his law (Deut. 28:15—68),
  • Israel and its blessings (Mal. 2:2),
  • everyone who does not remain in the book of the law (Deut. 28:58-60; Gal. 3:13), and whoever rejects Christ (1 Cor. 16:22).
  • The curse proceeds from God (Zech. 5:3-4),
  • God’s curse strikes home (Deut.28:15—68).
  • God can nevertheless instruct people to curse in his name: Moses (Deut. 11:26) and the Levites (Deut. 27) hold up before Israel curse and blessing.

Certain People Curse

  • People also can speak a curse in the certainty that God will confirm it: Noah curses Canaan (Gen.9:25);
  • Isaac blesses Jacob by cursing those who curse him (Gen. 27:29);
  • Jacob curses the wrath of his sons Simeon and Levi (Gen. 49:7)
  • Joshua curses the one who rebuilds Jericho (Josh. 6:26)
  • Peter curses Simon the Magician (Acts 8:18—21).

The Imprecatory Psalms

  • We must also understand the imprecatory psalms in this way (Pss. 69:23-29; 109:6—20). Both psalms are quoted in the New Testament (Acts 1:16, 20; Rom. 11:9).” (From; Reformed Ethics; Herman Bavinck; page 181; Editor John Bolt; Baker House Publications)

Note Imprecatory is about invoking curses.

So then let us remind ourselves why we looked at cursing:

7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. Exodus 20:7

As I said earlier God’s name is taken in vain on a daily basis.  In Finland some swearing goes around with God’s name and also others such as the place of fire and sulphur (I do not want to actually write the word).  The UK has also got the same type of words. This particular chapter is actually called ‘The Honour of God’s name’.  In modern society it has become so bad that cursing has also led to murder in God’s name.  This is why for example Rabbi Sacks wrote the book, ‘Not in God’s Name’; Hodder and Stoughton. (I find it interesting that Herman Bavinck has written a chapter that is closely related to Rabbi Sacks.)   I can add to this that Scripture says that we were created in the image of God. Thus, if a person curses another person, they are cursing God’s image.  I Don’t think Bavinck mentioned this (I could be wrong).  From that point of view self-pleasing destructive cursing of another created human being is in a way cursing God directly.  As Bavinck said cursing is the opposite of blessing in the same way in earthly terms hatred is the opposite of love.  God is love so we ought to walk in love treating others as we would like to be treated.

Final Reflection on cursing

Cursing God directly or cursing another human being are both breaking this commandment.  Cursing God directly or his reflection (another human being); both are sinful.

In this world of sin, it is easy for a believer to break this commandment.  To the believer I would say Love God and love your neighbour as both these commands are closely related.  We ought to read our Bible regularly as this by the Holy Spirit purifies our inner being.  By praying regularly and spending time in God’s presence we are in the presence of Pure Love because John tells us that God is love.  Having regular fellowship with other believers also encourages us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.  However, there are situations when it is impossible to have fellowship because of distances, illnesses and so forth so I am not pushing this.

Personal note

Bavinck has given us some serious food for thought and perhaps one day I will revisit these texts and look even deeper into this topic.  Alas, there are only 24 hours in the day and as a carpenter who having scrubbed undercoat of paint all Week, my energy is spent.  Yet I will return.  This Weekend I will be visiting my son in Helsinki as he is studying animation.

I am also really saddened with Hurricane Ian in which many people have been displaced or died.  Let us remember them in our prayers.