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New Testament Interpretation VIII

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Question #1: 

Dear Professor

He sent me a challenge to read and get the meaning of Matt:12:22-32; with the little hint word “spiritual”. After a quick read, AND checking some of your Subject Index, I texted him:

“There is a lot in these verses! Looking for your enlightened thoughts here. One part says the Pharisees did not believe Him, so were rejecting a clear witness from the Spirit. Unbelief by choice against the Spirit”.

I will wait for his reply. A thought came to me which is somewhat unrelated, however possibly precipitated from reading your writings about the deceptions of the antichrist. It is regarding Matt. 12:32. “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this (my emphasis) age or the age to come.” ESV. This scripture could be twisted by the antichrist to say that those who do not believe in his “miracles” are denying the Spirit, for which there is no forgiveness in this age - BUT there is a PENALTY! (In THIS age).

Thanks so much for your ministry. As you can see, it is always on hand to help me out; with the Word.

In our dear lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Response #1:  

Nice reply!

On your observation, it is a good one. Being on the wrong side of God is never good, and being there not just by default and failure to respond but by giving active allegiance to the enemy makes a person God's enemy. No good will come of that! And certainly we will see that in the Tribulation where numerous curses and judgments befall those who choose for evil (trumpets, bowls and thunders), culminating in their complete obliteration. I would rather be on God's side, no matter what it is necessary to suffer temporarily in this world of dust.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hello, Bob,

I'm sure you've addressed this. If you would, please point me to the links. I didn't find anything on my search.

Mark 9:1. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there
be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death,
till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Even given Elizabethan English, this is unmistakably plain. Am I safe in assuming this corresponds to the Greek? It suggest that some were translated a la Enoch. Is that a reasonable understanding? There were none mentioned in the Bible after that as having been translated of which I'm aware, but there were a number not mentioned at all.


Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #2: 

KJV's rendering of Mark 9:1 is perfectly fine (and the figure is buttressed by the same phraseology being used in Matt.16:28 and Lk.9:27). Further, we can say from John 8:52 that this idiom, "taste death" for "die", was a commonplace. They mean the same thing.

Not sure what this has to do with Enoch, however.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

 Hi Bob,

The relation to Enoch is that Enoch didn't see death as far as the Bible account goes unless I've missed something. If "some standing" there would not die until the 2nd advent, it suggests to me that some of them would be translated without physical death. Or, as true believers, while the physical body would perish, they would go directly and consciously to a pre-resurrection state with the Lord.

The later seems probable as far as my understanding today, but the Lord's comment seems to make a distinction between those "some" and others. Enoch is a precedent suggesting the former.

Maybe I'm over-thinking.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #3:  

"Tasting death" is a Greek-Hebrew idiom for dying.

"Not see death until . . . " means just that. The disciples, the three of them chosen by our Lord anyway, did in fact see the second advent before "seeing death", because they say it on the Mount of Transfiguration where our Lord was transformed in appearance before them and spoke with the two witnesses who herald His coming during the Tribulation, Moses and Elijah. But all three of those disciples did indeed die physically. Moses and Elijah are unique in that their human bodies were preserved by God so that they may return during the first half of the Tribulation (see the link).

Enoch was "translated" (cf. Heb.11:5); meaning he did not die in the normal sense; God "took him" (see the link). So he did not "see death" in the way that the rest us do / will – except of course for those still living when the Lord returns: all such will experience the living resurrection described in 1Thes.4:13ff (see the link). Scripture gives no indication of what happened to Enoch's first body; we may be sure, however, that along with all of the other departed saints he is in heaven today in an interim body (see the link).

So all of these things are somewhat different.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hello, Bob,

Of all the times I've read that account, I didn't understand it as a preview of the second coming. Even rereading the accounts, I don't think I do or see where they say it. I don't doubt you, I just
don't see it.

I understood "tasting death" which is why I could only relate it to Enoch since the apostles have died before the second advent. Understanding all this and the links you provided is, I think, above my pay grade at this point but has given me much to brood over. It's raised more questions as well.


Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #4: 

Here is what I read in the Bible:

“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Matthew 16:28 - 17:3 NIV

Our Lord says that these three will "see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom", and then immediately following we have the mount of transfiguration. So these are connected. One has to keep in mind that the English chapter divisions are not part of the original. They were invented in the 17th century. These divisions (the ones we are familiar with) do not occur in the Greek manuscripts. So while we today might leave off reading for the day after Matthew 16:28 and start tomorrow with Matthew 17:1, few reading the Greek text would have done so. The connection is clear in the Greek and the division in English is entirely artificial. Of course in Mark the division is different with Mark 9:1 speaking of seeing "the kingdom of God coming with power"; Luke 9:27 says "the kingdom of God" will be seen; and in all three cases the transfiguration of the Lord comes next. Taken together, the three gospels thus pretty clearly identify the transfiguration as a preview of the second advent. If that were not enough, we also have Peter's words:

For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
2nd Peter 1:16-17 NIV

Peter says he told his recipients "about the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ in power", and the key word here, parousia, is almost always a reference to the second advent (as it certainly is here). When Peter relates the words spoken by the Father, we see that they are the same words spoken at Christ's transfiguration. So Peter very clearly identifies that transfiguration with the second advent (as a preview of it).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5: 


Recently I came across Luke 2:36 about prophetess Anna.

"King James Bible
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;"

seems like only in King James versions has the "one" before Anna

Do you have deeper understanding why the "one" Anna on this scripture?

Could the "one" stand for only?


Response #5:  

Good to make your acquaintance.

The word "one" is being used here in the KJV as a type of indefinite pronoun. It would be more common in English today to say "a certain Anna" or "a certain woman named Anna" (that is what KJV means by "one" here). The reason for this that in the Greek we have "And there was Anna, a prophetess, daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher". This is rough in English and could lead to the presumption that Anna had been mentioned before (she had not). So KJV uses "one" to smooth this out. It seems to me an inconsistency in the KJV editing style that they did not place "one" in italics (for there is no such Greek word present).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #6: 

 Bro. Bob,

Thanks for your explanation and it's helpful. Now this leads to another ?. Have you ever find another example in other part of Bible with "one" in a scripture? I am not a scholar into so many types of Bible versions...interesting...as long as someone to explain, like you; but if no one to help...it's confusing.

Thx for taking time to answer

Response #6: 

You're most welcome. Here are some parallels where "one" in KJV represents an English indefinite pronoun where such a word does not actually occur in the Greek text being translated:

Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
Matthew 12:22 KJV

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Mark 1:3 KJV

And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
Mark 2:3 KJV

And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.
Mark 15:7 KJV

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
Acts 9:11 KJV

And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
Acts 10:5 KJV

The last example here is in particular a very close parallel to the passage you asked about. Here, however, the word "one" is italicized in the KJV (as it should by rights be in your passage as well).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

On Lazarus and the rich man, I don't see the rich man as receptive to get out of hell/torments. He doesn't try to repent at all or beg to get out. I personally think when we die God confirms the choice for or against so that it is a part of us. You have to understand I grew up around narcissists and controlling and abusive people; this guy is asking (to me) is 'Lazarus is enjoying himself a bit too much, I should be able to boss him around. I am higher than him.' First, he asks for Lazarus to serve him with the water, then he asks Lazarus to serve him with his brothers. I know people like this! If someone else is even resting, they will try to make them get up and do what they want (even if it is something stupid). They can't bear to see someone else even rest or enjoy the tiniest morsel, even as they feast on the best food. I see it more as a 'I want Lazarus to be at my whim' than anything else (and it is also common for them to cloak it in some virtuous sounding way).

Response #7:  

Remember that this rich man is in hell.

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:12-15

There are "small" people in hell and "great" people in hell. But all these unbelievers have in common the fact that they are in hell – Torments at the moment; the lake of fire soon enough.

Your observations on the mindset of these kinds of people are truly fascinating and very helpful to consider. But rather than getting exercised about it, I would call your attention to the fact that such behavior has led the person to be in hell for rejecting Jesus Christ – and hell (Torments then the lake of fire) is where he and his ilk will be forever.

You are right! What selfishness! That is the kind of self-centered attitude that leads to spitting in God's face and rejecting Jesus Christ. That is the kind of attitude that leads to hell.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Just two more comments on the Lazarus story-and this is just theorizing. If he didn't order him around on earth, it stands out a bit to suddenly start in the after life (and seems presumptuous in a different way). But if he did, it is interesting that he apparently saw fit to do that, and then watched him starve and live on the street for a long period. In medieval times, the lord was responsible for providing for his servants (those he ordered around and had authority over). (Now I am NOT saying all, or even the majority, fulfilled this obligation but I just remember learning about it. I think we would call it (in a pejorative way) medieval noblesse oblige.

And on Abraham's response to the first request, it isn't according to the flesh (in anger like mine originally was), though he does appear to be familiar with what went down on Earth. He doesn't mention the chasm first, but first mentions that Lazarus is finally enjoying some rest and good now, while the rich man has had lots of that already (an appeal to compassion more than justice in my opinion). The other thing is, in doing that, he seems to not be responding to the part about being in agony and wanting water, but straight ot the part about ordering Lazarus (i.e.: artistic rendering: "why don't you give Lazarus a break, he shouldn't have to that, doesn't have to, and by the way-can't do that anyway").

Response #8: 

One thing the parable of the workmen (Matt.20:1-16) makes clear is that all who receive eternal life are equal in that very important respect. Putting this together with what we are told in Revelation (Rev.7:17; 21:4) and elsewhere about our eternal life we can say that no one is going to be put upon the way Lazarus was (regardless of how badly he or anyone else was treated in this life, including us, including if we are martyred). We will not carry any emotional scars into eternity, and, once we pass the judgment seat of Christ (where we may well rue some of our decisions if and when some or a good deal of our "works" are burned up), eternity will be happy and blissful with "no more division" of any kind between any member of the family of God forevermore (Rev.22:3: in the Greek it's "division" not "curse").

So we can only fret ourselves about such things in this life. Once we are in heaven and once we are resurrected, that will be impossible – praise the Lord!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

But he says Lazarus is 'comforted' which seems to imply some state from which he needs comforting. He is also resting on Abraham which I always saw as a 'recovering thing.' The fact there needs to be leaves for healing of division (that there is any division) seems to imply a situation in the human psyche that is not perfect but will become perfect. That does make some sense, some people have all the reason not to trust people generally, and over time would come to trust them more (unless God made them trust them completely automatically at Resurrection). Despite my own long term efforts, I don't really have friends. So when I die, unless God does something to me, I will probably be standoffish for awhile. But yes praise the Lord because I will be able to be with the one who does come up to me first and really is my friend. I don't have to go chase Him. And Paul was right, 'forgetting what lies behind.'

Response #9:  

We're told in Revelation that there will be no more tears for believers in eternity (Rev.7:17; 21:4), and I have to take that to mean that there will be no discomfort or regret or emotional scars in need of healing . . . at all. Whatever of this we have in this life will be gone as soon as we move to the next one. So I think we can take Abraham's words to the effect that "Lazarus is being comforted/encouraged" as referring to the fact that he is now feeling no pain either in body or in mind – rather than that he is in need of remedial work. If that was true in paradise below the earth before the resurrection, how much more will it not be so in resurrection and glory rejoicing before the Lord Himself?

In anticipation of being with Jesus in bliss and glory forever,

Bob L.

Question #10: 

Good day

Hope all is well. Can you please assist me with this verse : John 10:34: Ye are gods. Jesus also referred to it in John. Well I have heard people saying we are gods, or God in you. I really battle to understand that a person can be god.


Response #10: 

Good to hear from you, my friend.

On this issue in John 10:34 (our Lord quoting Ps.82:6), the "problem" has to do with Hebrew (and Greek) vs. English. In English "God" or "a god" means something particular and technical. But in Hebrew (reflected in NT translations into Greek of Hebrew passages as in this case), the word 'el means "mighty one". Now a "mighty one" might be a human being, especially a human being who, as in the Hebrew of Psalm 82:6 and its context, is acting in the place of God as a judge or official with responsibility over others (compare Rom.13:4 "For he is the minister of God to thee for good"; KJV). The problem in Psalm 82:1ff. is that these officials were not acting as they should, doing what THE God would have them to do, so they were poor reflections of Him and the justice which all in power are responsible to Him to dispense.

So in English god and God can only mean a being far above a human being, but in Hebrew the word 'el is a metaphor used of human beings and then applied to beings greater than we are. In fact, except in poetry (where there are different rules of diction in all languages), when speaking of THE God, Hebrew expands and pluralizes the word 'el to 'elohiym to make the point of His greatness beyond anything that could be attributed to a mere human being.

Human beings do have one important aspect of the divine nature which should also never be underestimated: we bear the very "image of God" (Gen.1:26). That is to say, we have free will, the God-given ability to determine our own final destiny . . . and for those who chose wisely, to win wonderful eternal rewards – or not – based upon the choices we all make.

Here is a link on this too: I said "You are gods".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

I doubt this idea originated with Dr. White but I heard it from him: that John was able to include more names of people and stories that the other gospels didn’t (e.g. Nicodemus, Lazarus, Malchus, etc.) because at the time he was writing those people had already died, whereas if the earlier gospels had included those people’s names/stories it would have put them in danger of persecution by having a publicized document associating them with Jesus.

Response #11:  

There are a great many differences between the three synoptic gospels and the gospel of John, and that makes sense too since John wrote last and had many years to talk to other first hand witnesses as well. So John not only knew more (than, say, Luke and Mark) but was also in a position to fill in things not found in the other three gospels which, guided by the Spirit, he found to be important not to have left out. There are plenty of names in the first three gospels too and I don't find any reticence in them about naming people. One thing, though: John wrote last but somewhat earlier than is often supposed (see the link).

Question #12: 

Hi Bob,

Does Matthew 18 regarding the parable of the unforgiving servant refer to a true born-again believer? I read a commentary where the theologian said that it refers to a true brother in Christ who "grabs" his "fellow believer" by his throat and asks him to pay him back the money he owes. This does not seems like a believer to me because I believe that a true believer forgives because he/she IS forgiven. To me, such an act is unthinkable!

Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, [and delivered him to THE TORMENTORS], till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
(Matthew 18:32-35)

Henry Matthew's commentary said that there will be demons (the tormentors) who will be the ones tormenting those in hell. I didn't realize that there were already demons in hell. I only heard of fallen angels in Tartarus or the Abyss. And from what I've read, they are not the same as hell.

God Bless,

Response #12: 

Taking these in reverse order, you are absolutely correct. Hell is an English word; departed unbelieving human beings are in Torments and will remain there until the last judgment, after which they will be cast into the lake of fire; they are tormented by the heat, not demons (there are no demons / fallen angels there). There are fallen angels / demons in the Abyss, but that is only a portion of Satan's followers, and many of these will be let out during the Tribulation. All fallen angels / demons will be thrown into the Abyss at the second advent where they will remain until the last judgment at which time they too will be cast into the lake of fire. No tormentors there either – the fire will be bad enough and the demons will be tormented by it as well.

On the parable, this is a parable. In parables, only the critical details contain doctrinal information. There may be some application to be made from the non-essential details, but this sort of thing is usually overdone to the point of obscuring the main interpretation and confusing the issue (as your report of commentators demonstrates). So while a person might make a point of comparison from the fact that the steward had a wife and children who were going to be sold into slavery before his master relented, trying assign significance to what the wife and children "represent" is no doubt a mistake.

The particularly violent action of this fellow is chosen by our Lord to make the point in parable style of just how hard-hearted he is. It is not to be taken as the only possible negative action a person might take – it merely represents an unforgiving attitude which results in actions which bespeak a lack forgiveness. We have all certainly seen believers act in that way I would imagine. It's not proper believer behavior, but it happens. Whenever, for example, a believer is poorly treated by another believer, it is tempting to retaliate or else remain aloof in an unforgiving way. This does not mean, of course, that we are required to stay best friends with someone who betrays us, e.g. That would be foolish. But it does mean that we need to forgive them in our hearts and move on, and not withhold prayer, for example, because of the wrong we have been done.

So as to the question, this parable applies to everyone. Remember, our Lord came to the lost sheep of Israel, and Israel was God's special nation. Everyone was supposed to be a believer; those who were not were supposed to be stoned. So everyone to whom Christ spoke this parable was to understand from it that, having been forgiven everything by the Lord, that the need for being forgiving towards neighbors (other members of Israel) was not optional – not if a person wanted to continue to receive God's forgiveness. And, after all, that is exactly what the Lord says we should do, and without the use of a parable, when asked by His disciples how to pray:

(12) "And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors . . . (14) For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (15) But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Matthew 6:12 & 14-15 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

 Hi Bob,

Re: Sicarii in Acts

Why does Luke use this word in Acts 21:38?

Response #13:  

First, sikarios is a generic word in spite of the fact that is it sometimes capitalized in English and may sometimes be used technically of the group that went by that name. So "bandit" or "assassin" or "rebel" is not a bad translation. We would have a better idea about the "why" if we knew more about the incident referred to by the centurion. But this was apparently the word used by the centurion – which is why Luke uses it. A good word for a Roman to use, to, because the sica is a dagger in Latin, and because we can't expect Roman soldiers to be concerned about the niceties of Jewish politics and sectarianism. Paul no doubt related the event to Luke personally – unless Luke was present (which is also possible). Josephus, writing about this time:

Upon Festus's coming into Judea, it happened that Judea was afflicted by the robbers, while all the villages were set on fire, and plundered by them. And then it was that the sicarii, as they were called, who were robbers, grew numerous.
Antiq. 20.8.10

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #14:

What is the meaning of Nathaniel's Remark?

"'Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?' Nathanael asked."
(John 1:46)

Response #14: 

Remember that Galilee was not the area resettled by the exiles returning from Babylon so that many of the inhabitants of Galilee were not Jewish; some were pagans, some were Samaritan, and those who were Jewish were looked down upon by their Judean brethren. Nathanael, a god-fearing man, has picked up this legalistic prejudice (cf. Jn.7:52).

Question #15: 

Hello Bob, hope you are well. Have a question for you if you don't mind. What exactly is meant by this passage? I get the general idea but wanted to get your take.

In Jesus Christ

"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Matthew 12:36-37 NKJV

Response #15:  

Good to hear from you, my friend. I keep you and your family in my prayers daily.

This passage is meant more for unbelievers than for believers. The last judgment is a complete critique of a person's life. For unbelievers that means demonstrating that everything they thought, said and did was consistent in not desiring to have any relationship with God. The words they have spoken will demonstrate this very well. The last judgment will destroy every excuse and rationalization unbelievers tell themselves to harden their hearts against the inevitability of death and judgment before a righteous God – of whom they actually did know (Rom.1:18-32).

Believers' lives are evaluated too, of course, but everything we have thought and said and done which is sinful has been forgiven. For unbelievers too Christ died for all their sins, but they did not accept the redemption offered. Believers' worthless words, thoughts and deeds are burned up before the judgment seat of Christ – but we are all saved, even if we have stored up a large bonfire for ourselves (1Cor.3:9-15). The main point of our judgment is to demonstrate what we did that was good in God's eyes – so as to reward us.

Please see these links:

The judgment and reward of the Church

The last judgment

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

What was the age of Mary when she became pregnant with the Holy Spirit?

Response #16: 

Scripture doesn't say, I don't know of anything in the very few details given about her that would lend themselves to anything more than speculation on that point. She does give the impression (to me at least) of a someone relatively young (late teens or early twenties), and youthful marriage from our cultural point of view – she was on the point of marrying Joseph after all – was the standard practice for women in the ancient world. For what we do know about these matters please see the link: "Events surrounding the birth of Christ".

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Hi Bob,

Could you explain the last part of this verse ("over all and through all and in all")?

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."
(Ephesians 4:4-5)


Response #17:  

The Father is God over all, omnipresent in the creation, and present in the hearts of all believers, but in the hearts of unbelievers too in terms of the image of God and the essential truth that is the heritage of all mankind (e.g., Eccl.3:11), even if rejected by most.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

I heard Dr. James White state a couple of opinions that I found interesting and I’d like to get your take. For the record, both of these things were suggested as possibilities by Dr. White, not stated as facts. He said that he thinks the book of Hebrews was something taught by Paul, but written down by Luke because, in his opinion, while the argumentation is definitely Pauline, the Greek of Hebrews is much closer to Luke/Acts than Paul’s epistles. I know you believe Paul wrote Hebrews, but what do you think of the idea that the Greek is more similar to Luke/Acts?

Response #18: 

Paul did have an amanuensis (Tertius: Rom.16:22). But the words were Paul's, that is, the Spirit's words, working through Paul. I don't find anything Lucan about the Greek of Hebrews. Absent convincing parallels, this would be W's impression only. The Greek does have a bit of a different feel to me than some of the other epistles, but some things shout "Paul!" to me. For example, in Hebrews 2:9 Paul places the explanatory dia phrase before the hopos purpose clause it modifies. Inserting explanatory "parentheses" of this sort before the finishing of the point is typical of Paul (Rom.2:15-16 is another good example where anyone else would have put v.16 earlier in the period). I've never seen any other Greek writer do this sort of thing.

One other thing to keep in mind here is that the intended audience very often influences a writer's style. The way Paul writes to Timothy and Titus is somewhat different from his epistles to churches, e.g. The Jerusalem church was not only not his church but there was some touchy history there, so much so that he doesn't even add his name to the letter. If the style is at all noteworthy in its differentiation from other letters, I would classify it as slightly more formal – and that makes sense inasmuch as his authority was not likely to have been perceived as great there as at, e.g., Philippi.

Question #19: 

On the post, there was this passage: "the 'spirit' of NT is against discriminating believers on the basis of biology". I pray God does discriminate on the basis of biology for all of our sakes. We can offer this lady a trip with the Army Rangers through the muddy miles and see if she still wants equal treatment. I did a level ground short hike with one of those rucksacks and could not stand up straight for a while.

Just a few more and then I am empty of questions for a break.

1) What does "no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things" mean?

2) What do you think of the idea that we only forgive when the person repents (not if they don't)?

3) I read someone else interpretation of the Greek in John 21:3, that Peter is saying he is going fishing permanently instead of into ministry and that the Lord had to come and encourage him to return to ministry. Is that in there?

4) I also read someone else's interpretation of the Greek in Acts 18:26 that the 'set out' means physical. Meaning, like you 'set out' a textbook before someone, or other materials. I think they were saying that this isn't an example of a woman teaching since they just handed Apollos materials. Is that right?

That is it. Thank you,

Response #19:  

On your new questions:

1) It means that ACTUAL prophecy (of the sort which is now to be found only in the Bible) is the product of the Holy Spirit and was not devised by the human beings given to write it – even though the Spirit did not waive their personalities and word choices: the message is inspired and it is His.

2) We are to forgive unconditionally. That does NOT mean that we are required to go back to wherever the relationship was before the "thing" that needed to be forgiven happened. Genuine repentance on a person's part may affect our decision on that, but it is not obligatory, e.g., for a spouse cheated on to continue in the marriage, even if the offender repents; we are to forgive from the heart and bear no ill will, but that does not obligate us to enslave ourselves to others, especially if they have proven unworthy of our continuing fellowship (and have shown us clearly that we are foolish to continue it). Having an attitude of "not forgiving" is also very detrimental to a person's spirituality. No one does well in an attitude of anger and resentment.

3) It's not in the Greek which is very straightforward and correctly translated in all the major English versions I know of. Even after the resurrection, the apostles were not THE apostles until after the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. Just as Saul became "a different person" when the Spirit came upon him (1Sam.10:6), so Peter was transformed immediately as can be seen from his speech on the day of Pentecost. But right before that in the prior chapter of the Book of Acts, he was leading the foolish effort to "elect" a new apostle (even casting lots to do so!) when he certainly should have known that this was the Lord's decision to make, not his (after all, the Lord chose Peter – Peter didn't win a lottery).

4) It's hard to see how Acts 18:26 is not a form of "teaching". However, this in no way invalidates the clear scriptures which prohibit women from teaching "in the church". That is what Paul prohibits under the inspiration of the Spirit. As I've said many times, women are naturally excellent teachers. There is no reason why a woman shouldn't be a college teacher, for example. And there is no reason why a woman shouldn't or couldn't instruct a man on some point, even a biblical point, where she has knowledge and he does not. The Samaritan woman with whom Jesus conversed at the well was instrumental in sharing the gospel with the men of her town – and she did so in a very smart way, not being dogmatic but asking them questions which led them to draw the correct conclusion and so to be saved. Likewise Priscilla instructs Apollos in concert with her husband. But we don't hear of her holding forth in the church that met in their home, for example.

Good points on "biology" (the quote was from the reader with whom, obviously, I disagreed about a great many things). Given what is required of young men in the USMC advanced infantry course nowadays, I don't think I personally could have done that in my day (things have gotten tougher!).

You friend in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

How does the terminology of works and faith differ with James and Paul in James 2:14-26 and Romans 3:27-4:5?

Response #20: 

Paul's words in Romans 3:27-4:5 are consistent with everything he says everywhere else (e.g., Gal.2:16). But James words about "faith without works" (James 2:14-26) are sometimes wrongly taken to be contradictory to what Paul says. However, Paul was combating the erroneous idea that a person could be saved by "keeping the Law", and James says nothing to suggest that "Law keeping" is a means to salvation. On the other side, Paul certainly never suggests that all a person has to do is to have an intellectual faith and then the Christian life stops – far from it. And it is also generally little appreciated that the two examples James uses to describe the "works of faith" are not only not Law-keeping but are also nothing like what legalistic religions and groups have in mind when they talk about "works", namely, James tells us of Abraham obeying God out of faith, trusting in Him when called upon to do something incredibly hard, that is, to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and of Rahab likewise responding in faith and trust to the message she had heard about God being "with" the children of Israel through protecting the spies even at the risk of her own life. In other words, living one's life and behaving according to faith, trusting God in spite of what is seen and heard and felt, that is the "work" that Christians are called upon to do, learning, believing, following and sharing all of the truth of the Word of God:

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Luke 6:46-49 NIV

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
Romans 2:7 NIV

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22 NKJV

See the links:

Faith without works

Bible Interpretation VIII (see Q/A #7)

Bible Interpretation VII (see Q/A #12)

Free Will Faith (see Q/A #6)

Faith, Hope and Love (see Q/A #6)

Sanctification, Separation, Restraint (see Q/A #13)

Question #21: 

James 1:22-25 (NASB)
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

I) How would you explain James’ teaching with the mirror?

II) Is the gospel meant by “the perfect law, the law of liberty”? Is it the gospel or the New Testament teaching more generally (some commentators, for example, refer to the sermon on the Mount by our Lord)?

Response #21:  

I) As to the mirror, just as a mirror reflects what we really look like – which is often different from the mental image we retain of ourselves (the discrepancy growing with age I can tell you!) – but we have a tendency not to keep the new "real image" in mind as we go about our business, so also the Bible perfectly reflects who we really are inside, and we need to retain that perspective and act on it instead of being forgetful hearers – in the way that we are naturally (and blessedly) forgetful viewers.

II) On "the perfect law, the law of liberty", along with Peter and Paul and all other NT writers, James recognizes that the Law has been replaced by the New Covenant, and this is his way of saying that; so this phrasing refers to the entire NT and its teaching as replacing the shadows of the OT.

Question #22: 

James 2:8-12 (NASB)
8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

Could you walk me through this whole passage? I'm unclear about it and the references to both the “royal law” and what seems like the law of Moses also in verse 9. What does James mean by “royal law”? What law is James referring to in verse 9 - “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors”? James says in verse 10 that "whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all", as if the Law of Moses was supposed to be kept. Could you explain this? If James is here discussing the law of love, then I don't know why he compares it to the Law of Moses.

Response #22: 

On the Law in James, here we see his argument against the Law-keeping continued. Especially to James' audience, Jews in Jerusalem, the tendency to fall back on the Law of Moses was notable. There are two alternatives: either follow the Law of Moses – which is impossible because to do so requires being perfect in every point and no one is perfect; or to follow the law of love which Paul also explicitly taught (and James had clearly read: Rom.13:8-13). The law of love is "royal" because it has to do with the Kingdom, and James emphasizes this point because of his audience' focus on the Messiah as King. Why does James use this argument here in respect to partiality? While the example is of a poor man being mistreated in favor of the rich, we know from Acts that the real problem in Jerusalem was gentiles being given short shrift in favor of Jews (Acts 6:1ff.). It is diplomatic in the Spirit for James to couch this in a more general way, but the lesson is so clearly applicable to the other example of partiality that it couldn't have gone unnoticed. So James moves from "right thinking" with the law of love, to wrong thinking wrongly justified by the Law of Moses (which excludes gentiles but is antithetical to the New Covenant where gentiles are to be included as James himself had proclaimed: Acts 15:13ff.), to pointing out that this alternative way is impossible (the commandments mentioned refer only to keeping the Law of Moses – even though of course all sin is contrary to the law of love), and then back to doing things the right way: since we are going to be judged by the regulations of the New Covenant which is a perfect law that gives us freedom to do good even as it requires that we walk in love so as to avoid wrong – REAL wrong as opposed to regulations which were only symbolic.

Question #23: 

I wanted to ask one more question about James 2:8-12. What is unclear to me is the transition from the law of love to the law of Moses in verses 9 and 10.

8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
James 2:8-12 NASB

I would have assumed that he must mean the royal law at the end of verse 9 (are convicted by the law as transgressors). But then in verses 10 and 11 he refers to the law of Moses and I'm not clear about that.

Response #23:  

The way I see this passage is that James views the Law of Moses and the royal Law as one and the same – just as the Old and the New Covenants are really one and the same. In both sets the old looks forward to and symbolizes the new. And in both instances, looking back to the old is a mistake. But if a person does that, said person will be judged on the basis of the old, not the new. That is a problem since no one was ever saved under the Old Covenant or by keeping the Law; the Mosaic Law demonstrates the need for a Savior and prefigures His death on the cross. "Royal Law" is taking about the King and the Kingdom – the Law of Love which our Lord told us encapsulates the true meaning and purpose of the written law. In our passage, the hypothetical person rejects the new and embraces instead the old – but then is subject to the rigors of the old as a result when really we all need the forgiveness of the new empowered by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

"Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."
(Jude 1:23-24)

Could you explain this for me personally? It's hard to figure out how he's relating ideas here.

Response #24: 

Jude is talking about two categories of problematic believers: 1) those with very little faith; and 2) those who are "playing with fire" in terms of their non-sanctified walk. Mercy in ministering to all of them is appropriate, but in the latter case getting anywhere close to gross sinfulness is problematic and requires an extra measure of circumspection.

Question #25: 

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Revelation 2:4 KJV

On Ephesus, I see two possibilities: They did read the Bible, but not with love (going through the motions), works at first=works with love and not ritual. Or they didn't read the Bible at all anymore and works at first=reading the Bible (at all) Why do you think it is the second? It doesn't mention reading the Bible specifically from what I can tell, just that they lost the love.

Response #25:  

I wouldn't say reading the Bible (although that is good to do) is the love they lost during the era of Ephesus (link), but rather learning the truth that is in the Bible – which required assembly then (we may do it electronically today), responsiveness to good teaching not only in showing up for Bible class but also in believing what was taught, and supporting the elder / pastor / teacher who was doing the teaching (blessedly not necessary at present in my case). Rather than doing things this way – as we see it being done in the churches meeting in homes during the period of the apostles, the era of Ephesus started "church" in the way it is thought about today (empty form replacing dynamic spiritual function), and that began the downhill slide.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #26: 

Another question I had asked before that you didn't answer was on the first church and spiritual growth. I had asked "So, I guess, the losing of love and growth are connected and you can't have one without the other?"

Response #26: 

It's no problem. I thought I had answered this. The "love" is the "love for the truth", that is, the "love for Bible truth as it is taught by a prepared pastor-teacher". They may have read scripture and apparently they did lead sanctified lives but their spiritual growth was allowed to ossify and that is the beginning of all manner of spiritual troubles. Even an unbeliever can memorize the Bible; learning what it means and believing the truths contained therein requires teaching and response to teaching on every level: listening to it, believing it, and applying it in one's Christian walk. That is where the era of Ephesus fell down – and we see the same throughout our own era of Laodicea (see the link).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27: 

Hello--I hope you are well. Could you please help me with a question? In John 20:25, it says "nails", plural, but the actual Greek is "nail." I was wondering why it is translated as plural. Jehovah's Witnesses think Jesus was nailed to the cross with His hands crossed, over His head, with a single spike driven through His wrists. NO cross piece.

I do know an actual cross was used, though there was no Greek word then for "cross" just "stauros" for the upright piece, which was left in the ground. The prisoners carried the cross piece. Dr. Raymond Brown, in his encyclical 2 Volume THE DEATH OF THE MESSIAH goes into some detail about the different kinds of crosses and why Jesus was crucified on the typical "t" cross. I know there were several kinds

Thanks for your help, as always.

Response #27:  

Your correspondent is mistaken: the Greek has "the nails" (των ἥλων) – a clear plural.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #28: 

It does? Well I'll be...and this JW, has been mocking Christians, whom he calls "churchoids" that it is "nail" singular and that translators have been dishonest and biased, etc. etc. This will take the wind out of his sails.

Write it in plural? In English letters? Or are the words the same, but the plural is in the article, "ton"?

Thanks so much!

Response #28: 

Of course in Greek we also have cases. The form I gave you is genitive plural: helOn (ἥλων) – long "o" (omega) followed by "n" (nu); the nominative singular form is helos (ἥλος) – short "o" (omicron) followed by "s" (sigma).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

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