Bible Questions Answered (Part 2)

There are over 10,000 footnotes in the Nazarene Commentary 2000© reference on the Christian Bible. These below are samples of some of these.

How does maturity aid in unity?

Ephesians 4:14 “ … so that we may not remain babes, being tossed about by waves and borne around by every wind of teaching …” [ 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures - NCMM (Literal)]

In giving instructions on how unity could be achieved in the Body of Christ, Paul encouraged that Christian disciples should “Not remain babes.” [Compare 1 Corinthians 13:11.] Christian growth continues throughout one’s life, and each year witnesses an ever closer growth in Christ manifest by faith and love. The result is that the mature, grown-up Christian is not “tossed about by waves.” The mature Christian is not like a rudderless ship at the mercy of tossing seas. That is, having come to a solid foundation of the “first principles of the doctrine of Christ … and pressed on to maturity” [Hebrews 6:1] they are no longer “borne around by every wind of teaching.” [Or, KJV: every wind of doctrine; TCNT: blown round by every breath of human teaching; WEY: every changing wind of doctrine; KNX: the wind of each new doctrine; NEB: every fresh gust of teaching; BECK: every windy thing that is taught.] An infant can be taught almost anything, but a mature adult may follow reasonable logic founded on the Scriptures. It is a knowledge of the Scriptures that provides a firm anchor so that a “different Jesus,” or, “a different Gospel,” do not unsettle the unity of the Church. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What is the meaning of Revelation 1:7?

Revelation 1:7 “Behold! ‘He arrives with clouds’ [Daniel 7:13] and ‘every eye will look to him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth beat themselves in grief’. [Zechariah 12:10 LXX] Yes! Amen!” [NCMM]

The phrase is straight from Daniel 7:13. Here there is a hymnal praise which may be viewed as the theme verse for the Apocalypse. This verse is a compound of two Hebrew Bible verses: Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10 (possibly from Theodotion’s LXX version; compare John 19:37). Verse 7 closes with an “Amen!” which draws particular attention to it, much as the Nazarene said, ‘Amen, amen,’ when introducing an important truth. So some would view Revelation 1:7 as a praise-hymn, not of the future, but the past, as it highlights the death and enthronement of Messiah. It may also serve as a prophetic reference to the parousia or Second Coming of Christ who returns as redeemer to deliver his own. This would be in harmony, not with the original fulfillment of Daniel 7:13, but the angel’s promise at Acts 1:9-11. [From notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Who should Christians not greet?

2 John 10 “If anyone approaches you and does not bring this Doctrine, do not receive such into [your] house. Do not say a greeting to such. 2 John 11 For the person who says a greeting to such is sharing with the wicked works of [such persons].” [NCMM]

The apostle John pens a warning when he describes a certain type of person: “If anyone approaches you and does not bring this Doctrine.” [Or, if you are visited by anyone, and does not bring this teaching.] Some would limit this “doctrine” to just the belief that Jesus did not come in the flesh. It is “Christ’s doctrine” John has mentioned in verse 9. It seems fair to conclude John refers to those deceivers and antichrists who were once part of the Nazarene community but have now gone apostate. John says: “Do not receive such into [your] house.” [Or, stop welcoming him.] There is a story of John who was on his way to the public baths with some disciples. Upon entering it was learned an apostate was present. John told the others: “Let us get out of here, lest the building collapse.” This is a more severe reaction that those who have sinned as ordinary humans. [Compare notes on 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15.] Note how such apostates work their way into households and lead away captives. [2 Timothy 3:5-13] Thus, John says not to even greet this type of person: “Do not say a greeting to such.” [Or, welcome him.] It is best to have no communication at all with such antichrists. Let them pass without notice. Romans 16:17 counsels to “avoid” or “shun” such sectarians. [From note in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What is “love”?

1 Corinthians 13:1 “If I should ever speak in the languages of humans and angels, but do not possess real [divine] love, I have become merely the sound of copper or a clanging cymbal.” [NCMM]

At 1 Corinthians 13:1 Paul begins his discussion of “love.” [Or, KJV: charity.] The word “charity” is closer to the real meaning of AGAPE than most people realize. Both AGAPE and charity are marked by three things: interest, concern, positive help. Though the Greek AGAPE can have negative aspects because one may love for the wrong thing or for wrong reasons. There can actually be a hypocritical love or AGAPE. Paul will begin with 1 Corinthians 13:4 to use the article with AGAPE [HE AGAPE] meaning “the Love.” That is a love of a specific sort, thus we use here “real [divine] love” for this is a godly quality. The word “love” [AGAPE] occurs 24 times in all of the Synoptic Gospels and 44 times in John. After the Gospel of John the word “love” occurs most often in his letters to the Corinthians. [24 times] Love occurs in his other letters: Romans, 17; Galatians, 5; Ephesians, 17; Philippians, 4; Colossians, 6; 1 Thessalonians, 8; 2 Thessalonians, 5; 1 Timothy, 8; 2 Timothy, 11; Titus, 6; Philemon, 3; Hebrews, 6. James uses it only twice, Peter 10 times, and Jude 4 times. In John’s three epistles he uses love 46 times. Though some think John uses love more often it is about equally divided between him and Paul. This real [divine] love has been defined by William Barclay as “that which seeks the highest good of another.” Two texts, lacking the word love, best describe it:

1 Corinthians 10:24 - “Let no one seek just self-concerns, but rather the concerns of others.” [NCMM]

Philippians 2:4 - “ … not just looking after your own selfish things, but also those things of others.” [NCMM] [From notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How will non-Jewish humanity be judged?

Romans 2:14 “For when non-Jews, though not having the Law, naturally keep the Law, they are a law unto themselves. Romans 2:15 They demonstrate the Law’s work ‘written within their hearts’ [Jeremiah 31:33] -- the combined testimony working between their conscience and their logical thoughts either prosecuting or defending them. Romans 2:16 According to my good news through Christ Jesus [this is how] it will be in the day The God judges the secret things of all humankind.” [NCMM]

Paul writes that the non-Jewish world is without the Law of Moses. [Compare notes on Ephesians 2:12. (Psalm 147:20)] However, their divinely implanted conscience produces something of a “natural law.” Paul puts it: “[The non-Jews] “Naturally keep the Law, they are a law unto themselves.” The non-Jewish nations, including tribes and all peoples, have had their laws, including taboos, whether oral tradition or written, which contain the essential principles of the moral Law of Moses -- theft, murder, adultery. Paul states that these non-Jews “demonstrate the Law’s work ‘written within their hearts’.” In their primitive way the non-Jews are a demonstration of what the Prophet Jeremiah meant when he foretold a new covenant with Israel and a law written on hearts and here Paul alludes to Jeremiah 31:33.

How this “universal human conscience” operates is explained by Paul: “The combined testimony working between their conscience and their logical thoughts.” Paul explains the mechanism foreseen in Jeremiah 31:33: the conscience and the thought process combine to make inner judgments of the heart. The Greek word for “conscience” is SYNEIDESEOS, or literally ‘with + idea’ (or, knowledge). The English word “conscience” also means ‘with + knowledge’. “Conscience” is a word Paul uses several times and most often in 1 Corinthians chapters 8 and 10. Thus, the conscience of the non-Jew acts something like either the prosecution or defense lawyer. Paul writes, “either prosecuting or defending them.” Like a prosecuting and defending attorneys, the conscience and the logical process makes its judgments.

Judgment and punishment are part of Paul’s Gospel. We have been introduced to certain key words associated with his Gospel: judgment, law, punishment. Paul mentions this judgment in the context of both Jews and non-Jews when he continues: “In the day The God judges the secret things of all humankind.” We may infer from the above that in the judgment (Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:12-14) the non-Jews will be judged according to the implanted conscience and the Jews by their own Law. (Luke 8:17; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Peter 4:5) All mankind will rise in the judgment to receive their payment for what they have done in their lives. (See notes on Matthew 12:36, 37 and Hebrews 9:27) This becomes a major theme in Paul’s Gospel and is discussed in further chapters. Judgment Day is among the Bible’s prime subjects. Research on the words judge and judgment in a concordance or in Nazarene Commentary is an important study. Paul lists judgment among the elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ at Hebrews 6:2. Though some would place salvation as the theme of the Bible, judgment must come first before salvation can occur. [From notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What kind of thinking may defile a Christian?

Matthew 15:18 “But the words pouring out of the mouth originate from the heart. Those are the things which defile a person. Matthew 15:19 For it is from the heart these originate: evil dialogue, murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, perjuries and slander, abusive speech.” Matthew 15:20 These are the things defiling a person.” [NCMM]

When Jesus was condemning the Jews for the traditional rituals he explained that the real things that defile a person “originate from the heart.” [NEB: has its origins in the heart; PME: comes from his heart and mind.] The disciple of the Nazarene James says something similar when he writes that sin begins in the mind: “Rather, everyone is tempted by their own desire, being drawn away and allured. Then, the desire having conceived gives birth to sin, and this sin, when it reaches full growth, brings forth death.” [James 1:14, 15 NCMM] Thus, Christ lists some of the things originating in the heart that may defile a person. [Mark 7:20, 21 adds several characteristics: “injurious reasonings issue forth: fornications, thieveries, murders, adulteries, covetings, acts of wickedness, deceit, loose conduct, an envious eye, blasphemy, haughtiness, unreasonableness.” (NWT)

In Matthew Jesus lists six of these things that originate in the heart. He calls these generally, “Evil dialogue.” [The Greek is dialogismoi poneroi. Or, KJV: evil thoughts; KNX: wicked designs.] These “designs” include: 1 Adulteries [Or, BAS: broken faith between the married.]; 2) Fornications [The Greek is porneiai and is drawn from “prostitution.” Or, MOF: sexual vice; GDSP: immorality; BAS: unclean desires of the flesh.]; 3) Thieveries [MOF: stealing]; 4, 5) Perjuries and slander [Or, KJV: false witness; NWT: false testimonies.]; and, 6) Abusive speech [The Greek is blasphemiai. Or, KJV: blasphemies; ASV: railings; RHM: profane speaking; WEY: slander.] For more details on the full list in Matthew and Mark see the book Nazarene Principles in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What kind of ‘wisdom’ should we pray for?

James 1:5 “However, if any of you lacks wisdom, let them ask God who gives to everyone generously and without any reproach, and it will be given to them.” [NCMM]

James writes about the need to possess wisdom if one is to endure a variety of trials or tests. He says, “If any of you lacks wisdom.” [Or, RHM: coming short of wisdom; GDSP: deficient in.] Wisdom is the right use of knowledge; knowing what right action to take. No human is possessed of perfect wisdom. We all lack knowledge of how to act on it in different occasion and circumstances. [Proverbs 2:3; compare notes on Romans 8:26] The request here is for the wisdom needed to endure various trials -- the understanding to make right decisions that influence endurance. The spirit of this is right out of the Nazarene’s Mountain Teachings and elsewhere when Jesus stressed persistence and faith in prayer. Consider Matthew 7:7, “Keep on asking.” Mark 11:24, “Everything you ask for in pray, have faith.” Luke 18:1, “[Jesus taught them] the necessity to always continue to pray and never give up.” The Proverbs encourage this search for wisdom. [Proverbs 2:4, “Keep seeking wisdom.”]

James assures: “Let them ask God who gives to everyone generously.” The thought is straight out of the Nazarene himself. [See notes on Mark 11:24 and 1 John 3:22.] James says this giving will be, “without any reproach.” [See notes on Matthew 7:11.] God never accuses for a lack of wisdom if one is repentant and willing to change in order to conform to His will. Thus, “it will be given to them.” [From note in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How many gods are in John 1:18?

John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God -- the only-begotten god, favored by the Father, explains Him.” [NCMM]

John writes about two different gods in John 1:18. The first is the Invisible God whom no one has ever seen. That is a statement which agrees with Exodus 33.20: “For no one may see my face and remain alive.” [Compare also John 6:46; 1 John 4:12.] The other God is designated by John as “the only-begotten god.” [Or, KJV: the only begotten Son; MON: God, only begotten; MOF: the divine One, the only Son.] Most modern versions agree THEOS should occur here. There are two Gods in the verse: the one no one as ever seen (the Father), and the “only-begotten god.” This is similar to verse 1 which also has two gods: “The God” of phrase b and “a god” of phrase c. Two Gods is shown in Psalm 45:6, 7 and Hebrews 1:8, 9. [Deuteronomy 10:17] The Greek MONOGENES (mono/only) + genes) infers the Son is “monogenetic,” [see an English dictionary] that is, unique and one of a kind, the only one genetically related to the Father. The whole idea echoes Proverbs 8:22-30. This latter “God” serves as the Word or Spokesman for the Invisible God and thus “explains” Him, as John puts it. The Greek is EXEGESATO from which comes “exegete” or “exegesis,” a teacher, or one who explains a subject, particularly theological. This is the function of the Word. [From notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Did Paul observe the Law of Moses?

Acts 21:23 “Therefore, we want you to do as we direct. We have here four men who are under a vow. Acts 21:24 Take these along with you, then, and cleanse yourself and them, paying all their expenses, and afterward they may shave their heads. Then all will realize that those things they have heard concerning you are of no concern. But rather you yourself walk orderly and observe the Law [of Moses].” [NCMM]

Many thousands of the first Christians were Jews who had formerly observed the Law of Moses. Elements within the Church leadership presented a strong influence to continue to observe the Law of Moses. The word had spread that claimed Paul had rejected Moses and the Law and was telling new converts that it was not necessary to circumcise their male children. James, the presiding officer of Christian elders and a member of what was called the Circumcision Class, order Paul in these word: “We want you to do as we direct.” [Or, TCN: do what we are going to suggest.] Whether this is only a suggestion or a direct order is unclear, probably the latter. Paul will obey this order, or suggestion, as he does not sin in what he is about to do. By considering the details it is clear much as involved in the observance of the laws involved.

James explains: “We have here four men who are under a vow.” That is four Jewish men who have either made a particular vow or were what the Law called the Nazirite, like Samson. Such could not cut their hair, drink wine, or touch a dead relative, even a mother until they had fulfilled their vow. [For details see Numbers 6.] At the end of the fulfillment of this vow there was a period of one week of purification. Three animals must then be sacrificed: two rams and a lamb, as well as other offerings. Then he must shave his head. The sacrifice itself must be handled in a precise way according to the Law requiring a Hebrew priest and an altar of sacrifice. After the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD it would be impossible to fulfill or observe this law.

James commands Paul: “Take these along with you, then, and cleanse yourself and them.” James is directing for Paul to observe the requirements of Numbers 6 to placate certain Jewish Christians. [Acts 15:1, 2] Also Paul was to, “Pay all their expenses.” This would have required the purchase of 12 farm animals, a considerable expense. James draws the conclusion: “Those things they have heard concerning you are of no concern.” [Or, TCN: no truth in the things they have been told about you; LAM: what has been said against you is false; BAS: there is no basis for the reports.] Judging from Galatians 2:4, 12 it seems clear who has started this “rumor” which is based in some fact. Later Paul will write in almost all of his letters against this Judaizing influence within the Church. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD the Jews themselves will desist from the observance of the majority of the Law of Moses having no priesthood or altar on which to make sacrifices. One view here is that Paul knows the Law is not sin so he in no way sins by going through with this directive. In the process he does what he has written: “to Jews I became a Jew that I might win Jews.” [1 Corinthians 9:20]

Paul is patient with the misunderstandings of the Jewish Christians and the relationship of the Christian Jew or non-Jew to the Law will be cleared up within a decade. Paul has already written that in the Church, “there is neither Jew or Greek.” [Galatians 3:28, 29; compare Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6] James assumes: “You yourself walk orderly and observe the Law [of Moses].” Because James, a sympathizer for the Law of Moses, claims this does not make it so. For Paul will write later as mentioned above that as a Jew he is “dead to the Law.” [Romans 7:4] Had he said these things on this occasion it would have caused a rift or schism beyond imagining. [From notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What two attributes ought to characterize a disciple of the Nazarene?

1 Corinthians 13:4 “Real [divine] love is tolerant and kind.” [NCMM]

Paul describes love as “tolerant.” Or, suffers long, long-suffering, patient. [1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Peter 3:15] The most difficult test is to tolerant the intolerable. To be patient with the impatient. The Greek MACRO [ = long] THYMEI [ = desire; feeling] is variously rendered: MOF: patient; RHM: gracious; PHM: slow to loose patience; UBS Int: suffers long. The word occurs about two dozen times. God possesses the attribute. (Romans 2:4; 9:22 1 Timothy 1:16) It is a fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22) It is proof of an outstanding minister or servant. (2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Timothy 3:10. It contributes to unity. (Ephesians 4:2) It is reflected in joy. (Colossians 1:11) A Christian should show it toward everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Paul also describe this love as “kind.” Or, gracious; PME: looks for a way to be constructive. When it doubt, love does the kind thing. Kindness is a fruitage of the Pneuma. [Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12] Kindness is well reflected in the parable of the Good Samaritan. [Luke 10:30ff] “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number. But they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.” (Victor Frankl (1905-1997), Psychiatrist and writer)

The Greek KHRESTEETAI and most use the English "kind." The Middle English root KYNDE means sympathetic, friendly, gentle, tender-hearted, generous. The Greek is a rare word in the Christian Bible, occurring only here in 1 Corinthians 13:4b. Related forms occur about 70 times. Christ’s yoke is kind. (Matthew 11:30) God is kind even toward the unthankful and wicked and thus kindness and mercy are the path to godly perfection. (Luke 6:35; Matthew 5:45) Kindness is often associated with hospitality and giving. (Acts 26:2, 30; 2 Corinthians 8:6, 7, 9) God is characterized by kindness. (Romans 2:4; Titus 3:4; 1 Peter 2:3) Paul elsewhere counsels kindness. (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12) Kindness is a fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Of course, kindness is related to "grace" which is really undeserved kindness. So, kindness, or being kind, would be characterized by hospitality, charity, giving, mercy, and good manners, or gentility (a word rooted in the old English related to KYNDE). Someone has said, "When in doubt about what to do to another -- do the kind thing." Our Christianity should be characterized by our kindness, particularly toward even our enemies, those unthankful, or even wicked. Only then can spiritual perfection be attained. (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:30-36) [From notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

In what hope do Christians rejoice?

Romans 12:12a Always rejoice in the hope. [NCMM]

Romans 12:12a reads in the King James Version: “rejoicing in hope.” The Greek has the article and thus it is “the hope.” Paul had earlier described the condition of the human creation as, “The (human) creation groans together and travails in pain together.” (Romans 8:22 NCMM) He continues to show that despite this groaning pain there is a sustaining hope: “We groan eagerly awaiting the adoption (as children), the release by ransom of our Body. For to this hope we were saved. But, hope seen is no longer hope, for why hope for what you can see. But if we hope for the unseen we keep waiting by enduring.” (Romans 8:23-25 NCMM)

This hope is “one” and unique to the Body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:4) It is The Hope. It is the hope of “partaking in the heavenly calling.” (Hebrews 3:1) This “hope” has two premier elements. The first is described by 1 John 3:2, “Now we are children of God but when (the Son) is made visible we shall see him as he really is.”[NCMM] What a joyous part of our hope, seeing our Lord! But, if possible, there is another feature of the hope even more transcendental and it is recorded at Revelation 22:3, 4: “His slaves will serve Him reverently and they will see His face.” [NCMM] The power of this “one hope” -- one day meeting both the Celestial Christ and his Father, God Almighty -- is beyond description. Such a hope, renewed daily in prayer and Scriptural meditations, will be characterized in our joy. When we find ourselves overcome by “the groaning pain of this human creation” we will prayerfully reflect on that “one hope” of viewing the Father and the Son within the golden walls of the Celestial New Jerusalem. (Revelation chapters 19, 22)

The Bible is a Book of joy and hope. The word groups “joy” and “happy” occur 650 times in one translation. These words appear most often in the Psalms (118 times) and so meditating on these will build the joy of this God-given hope. In the Christian Bible Luke has been called “the theologian of joy” with over 50 occurrences in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. The Bible is also a book of “hope” with this word occurring 240 times. By regularly reading God’s Word and prayerfully meditating on it, hope can be sustained and will manifest itself in a happy and joyful disposition. As in all matters of life, when things are particularly difficult, this joy may reside within instead of revealing itself by the countenance. But, it will be helpful and healthy to keep this hope alive like a burning coal which keeps the inner self warm while the outside may shiver in the cold. Ask: When I consider everything else what is my grandest hope? Did something material come to mind? If I was to make a list of those things which bring me the greatest joy what would be at the top? [From the footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How are all genuine disciples joined together?

Ephesians 2:21 … in whom all the building, jointed together, is growing into a sacred, lordly Divine Habitat, Ephesians 2:22 in whom you also are being built up together into a spiritual dwelling place of The God. [NCMM]

The stones in this spiritual Temple have been “jointed together.” The image is of finely chiseled stones carefully made to fit into the next. The Saints are compared to “living stones” by Peter. (Read 1 Peter 2:4-10; compare 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19. Note 1 Kings 5:17; 7:9.) The stones in the quarry were so well chiseled that no improvements needed to be made when ‘jointed together’ in Solomon’s temple. 1 Kings 6:7 says, “As for the house, while it was being built, it was of quarry stone already completed that it was built; and as for hammers and axes or any tools of iron, they were not heard in the house while it was being built.” The test in the quarry is so perfect each Christian fits flawlessly into the celestial Temple. [Compare Colossians 2:19.] This hammering and chiseling involves a process of growth personally and as a Body. [Compare notes at Ephesians 4:13 and Ephesians 4:16.] [From the footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How do some religious teachers control their flock?

2 Corinthians 11:19 For you, as sensible persons, gladly tolerate those who are senseless. 2 Corinthians 11:20 You [Corinthians] tolerate anyone who tries to enslave you, anyone who devours you, anyone who takes from you, anyone who exalts himself, anyone who strikes you in the face. [NCMM]

Paul will list five characteristics of the minister of Satan posing as a church representative, giving all the appearance of an angel of light or a minister of righteousness. [2 Corinthians 11:14, 15] Firs, some, even today, enslave their membership by organizational control. The Christian Judaizers would impose more and more rules and regulations from the Law of Moses to “enslave” the Corinthians. [Note the same language at Galatians 2:4; 4:9; 5:1.] Second, these attempt to “devour” the flock. [Or, plunders, prey upon, spends your money.] One characteristic consistent with most of these ministers of Satan is - money. [1 Timothy 6:5] Third, these satanic ministers are takers and not givers. [Or, TCN: gets you into his power; KNX: vaunt their power over you; PME: if a man takes away your liberty, spends your money, takes advantage of you.] Any minister who attempts to control the lives of the flock, and who expects to live in luxury at the expense of the sheep, is a minister of Satan. Notice his wrist-watch, his car, his home, his clothing, his life-style - and you may find that lovely “angel of light.” Third, the satanic minister exalts himself. [Or, TCN: puts on airs of superiority; PME: puts on airs.] A minister of Satan can be no different than the one who sent him - filled with arrogance and pride. [Compare 1 Timothy 3:6.] Fifth, the satanic ministers “do not treat the flock with tenderness.” [Acts 20:29, 30] There is more than one way to do this: verbal accusations made in public from the pulpit. Satan’s ministers abuse the flock. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How did the apostles expect Jesus to return?

Acts1:11 [The angels] said to the apostles: “Men of Galillee, why do you standing watching toward the sky? This same Jesus, who is departing from you into the sky, will return in the same manner as you watched him ascend into the sky.” [NCMM]

The apostles seem to wonder what is happening. If the apostles had understood Daniel 7:13 at this moment they would have understood: “In my night visions I beheld someone similar to a human being arriving on the clouds of heaven.” [NCMM] This is the Risen Lord now in a spirit-like body. [1 Corinthians 15:40-50; 1 Peter 3:18] The former, fleshly body sacrificed on the Tree, has been accepted by God and used as a sin-offering. [Compare the notes on Hebrews 13:11, 12.] “This Jesus” is the one who will return at his Parousia. [John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17] The Hebrew and Greek for “heaven” may be used of the atmosphere or Sky. [Note Genesis 1:8, 20; Revelation 14:6] How did “this Jesus” depart? It was visibly, until a cloud caught him from beneath out of the sight of the apostles. If this was like a film rewound backward, "this Jesus" would be seen visibly coming on the clouds, and so Jesus foretold. [Matthew 24:30, 31] In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Christ is in the “air.” In Revelation 11:12, 13 the raptured Saints are seen by their enemies as they ascend in clouds. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Can any Christian know the time of Christ’s return?

Acts 1:7 However, Jesus answered them: “It is not for you [apostles] to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed within His own authority.” [NCMM]

The apostles had one question to ask before Jesus left: “Was he going to restore the Davidic kingdom to Israel now?” About a week before Jesus had already answered a similar question. He had told them: “Regarding that day or that hour, no one knows - not the angels, nor the Son, but only the Father. So, be on the lookout and remain awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is.” [Mark 13:32, 33 NCMM] Here in Acts 1:7 Jesus says something similar but uses the phrase “times and seasons.” [Or, KIT: times and appointed times; WMS: times and dates; MOF: periods of time; NAS: times and epochs.] The Nazarene’s language rules out even knowing the “season.” And, certainly it rules out computing some “appointed times” and arriving at some chronological date for his Return. Jesus had clearly told his apostles that no one could know the time of his Return. [Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32] The Nazarene warned that any who preached, “the time is at hand,” were not to be followed. [Luke 21:8] [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

To whom would the apostles preach?

Acts 1:8“You [apostles] will be my witnesses throughout Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” [NCMM]

There are three divisions here: Judea, Samaria, and the non-Jewish world. The Nazarene told Peter he would give to him the “keys of the kingdom” and in the case of the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Gentiles, it is Peter who initiates the Gospel with these three groups. [Acts 8:14; 10:24] Daniel 9:25-27 suggests that the “Jews first” [Romans 1:16] would have a seven year period of special grace during which the Gospel was presented solely to them. [Matthew 10:6; 15:24] This period covered 29-36 AD, following which the non-Jews were then given the invitation. [Compare notes on Matthew 22:1-14.] It is thought by some that many of the apostles departed Jerusalem before the year 66 and went to distant lands, including England and India. Peter himself writes from Babylon. [1 Peter 5:13] [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How many tongues did the apostles speak?

“So how are we all hearing in our own native languages? Parthians, Medes and Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, those from Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egyptians, and those from Cyrene in Libya, visitors from Rome [both Hebrews and Jewish converts], Cretans and Arabs - all of us in our own languages hear them in other languages the mighty acts of the God.” [Acts 2:8-11 NCMM]

The pious Jews from “every nation under heaven” heard these twelve men speaking in their own languages about the magnificent things of God. By examining each of the language groups it can be seen the great distances these men traveled. Thus, later after their baptism and they returned home, we can see thousands of paths leading to every part of the Roman world. Parthians came from south east of the Caspian Sea including as far as India. Christianity would develop in the world of the Persia religion. Medes and Elamites from the Iran Plateau were also from a Persian background. Elam was southeast of Mesopotamia, also called Khuzestan in southwest Iran. Mesopotamia is something of another name for Babylon, including present day Iraq. Thus, these peoples, though likely also speaking Hebrew and Greek, generally spoke a related Persia language. [Aramaic] Judea would indicate that one of the apostles was speaking Hebrew. Cappadocians were from what is today Turkey and Armenia. Pontus was the area around the Black Sea. Asia in the Christian Bible does not mean China, but Asia Minor which included such places as Galatia. Phrygia was also part of Asia Minor. Pamphylia was also part of Asia Minor. All these above places were north of Israel reaching as far as Turkey and India. Most spoke either Persian, Greek, or Latin. Now the list goes south to North Africa where there were large populations of Jews in Egypt and Libya. Then northwest to Rome, the island of Crete; and back to the southwest in Arabia. Thus, like seed-bearing birds, these first Christians carried the Gospel to the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What warning did Paul give about philosophies?

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. [Revised Standard Version]

Paul warns against being misled by Greek philosophy. The word PHILO-SOPHIAS [love+wisdom] is also rendered: MOF: theosophy; PME: intellectualism; NEB: delusive speculations. Having alluded to Aristotle above, Paul means Greek philosophy in particular. [1 Corinthians 2:13]. Paul also calls this philosophy: empty deceit, hollow sham, idle fancies, make-believe, empty fantasies, high-sounding nonsense, delusive speculations, empty seduction. [Ephesians 4:14, 15; 5:6] Most inspired epistles warn of the coming of false teachers just as the Nazarene foretold. [Matthew 24:4, 24; compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1ff; 2 Peter 2:1ff; 1 John 4:1ff; and, the letter of Jude] The modern Church in the 3rd Millennium is filled with such persons who continue to “twist the Scriptures.” [2 Peter 3:16] There are thousands on the World Wide Web.

Paul also mentions “human tradition” or “the tradition of men.” Such echoes Matthew 15:9 and the corrupted Jewish doctrines. Such “traditions of men” or man-made doctrine can result in vain worship. [Isaiah 29:13] From the Egyptians, the Greeks developed such doctrines as hell-fire, soul immortality, and the Trinity - none of which are taught in the Bible.

Paul lastly identifies “the elemental spirits of the universe” and such language may confuse a modern reader. The phrase is also rendered: KJV: rudiments of the world; RHM: first principles of the world; GDS: material ways of looking at things; NOR: he may set forth some human tradition, or some theory about the nature of the universe. The phrase “elemental spirits” is from the Greek STOICHEIA [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4747] and literally “elementary things.” This is also an allusion to the Stoic philosophers. [Compare Acts 17:18] The Stoics believed matter and force were the elementary principles of a wholly material world, without a personal God. They believed the soul was the result of an impersonal deity. They were naturalists who sought happiness as the highest virtue. Ultimately their souls would be reabsorbed by the universal Soul or be destroyed with the Universe. They rejected the idea of a resurrection. One does not have to think long before identifying similar thinking in the modern world - a mixture of Darwin and Sartre and evolutionary existentialism. One also sees modern attempts to mix Hinduism [and Buddhism] in a Taoist philosophy of the Universe.

Paul writes that these were “not according to Christ.” A disciple of Christ is a learner of Jesus Christ, their master and teacher. There is a serious danger that modern disciples may spend more time on the doctrines of men rather than the teachings of Jesus. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

About what strength did Paul speak?

Philippians 4:13 For I continue to have strength for everything by the One empowering me. [NCMM]

This verse reads in the King James Version: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.” This text has been much misapplied to other matters, but one can see Paul has in mind the strength he needs to both have a lack and an abundance.The previous verses read: “I know how to be in humble circumstances, as well as how to have more than enough. In every situation and in all circumstances I have been initiated into the secrets of how to be satisfied with [more than enough] food and how to be hungry, how to abound and how to lack.” [NCMM] It is doubtful many Christians have ever asked God’s strength when they had a surplus. Others may blame God if they have to go without for awhile; or, wonder where they have lost God’s pleasure. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

In what manner did Philemon owe Paul?

PHILEMON 18 If he has wronged you, or owes you, put this to my account. PHILEMON 19 I, Paul, writing in my own hand, will repay you, though I will not mention you yourself owe me. PHILEMON 20 Yes, brother, let me have this fleshly profit from you, to refresh my inner being united in Christ. [NCMM]

It is likely Philemon, in “sharing his faith” mentioned above, showed charity to Paul. Paul is to use appealing language to suggest Philemon is much more indebted to him. Paul, a poor prisoner, assures Philemon he will cover any debts accrued because of Onesimus. [On personal loans compare the Nazarene at Luke 6:30-35.] Likely Paul was instrumental in introducing Christ to Philemon. By such Paul such Philemon really owes him. Paul appeals to a well-off Christian master to release his slave to serve in the place of Philemon, so that the zealous Christian missionary may find some refreshment while imprisoned. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Did early Christians preach door to door?

Acts 5:42 And so every day in the Temple area, as well as in private homes, they did not stop teaching and preaching Christ Jesus. [NCMM]

The Christian historian Luke records the zeal of the early Christians to spread the Good News of Messiah’s coming and resurrection. Some versions like NWT and KNX state they preached” from house to house.” Other versions say KJV: in every house; ASV: at home; TCN: in private houses. The Greek KAT’ OIKON is claimed by some to mean the apostles preached from door to door. The only occurrence of the actual phrase “from house to house” is at Luke 10:7 where Jesus tell his apostles not to do it: “Do not go from house to house.” The Greek here is EX [from] OIKIAS [house] EIS [unto] OIKIAN [house]. That KAT’ OIKON means “in private homes” is shown by Acts 2:46 where the same Greek phrase occurs regarding the taking of meals. It is unlikely the early Christians went from door to door getting their meals. The apostles set the example of tirelessly preaching and teaching about the Messiah in both public and private places. Thus, the more than 8,000 men [and unnumbered women] had the apostolic role model. With such a concentrated teaching program these thousands of people journeyed back to their homelands throughout the Roman world fully trained as disciple-makers. [Matthew 28:19; 2 Timothy 2:2] [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What faith did the early Christians show?

Acts 4:34 For there was no one needy among them, because anyone who owned lands or houses sold them, and they continued bringing the value of the things they sold, Acts 4:35 placing them before the feet of the apostles. The apostles then distributed to each person as they had need. [NCMM]

When the early Church got started Luke records that “there was no one needy among them.” The later disunity of the Church, in fulfillment of the Nazarene and Paul, saw this pristine society change. Not only did the Church drift away from the fundamental doctrines, it also became more and more materialistic - and capitalistic. Over two decades later Paul still argues for the original attitude of “sharing according to needs.” [See notes on Romans 12:8, 13 and Philippians 4:15.] The more apostate the Church became the less it was a true commune of Nazarene believers. The modern Church - often very wealthy no matter which religious organization one examines - have a hierarchy living much better than the average Christian. Virtually none of the modern religious movements can state: “there was no one needy among them.”

This took enormous faith, to trust in God’s provision, to even chose poverty, so that others may benefit. The modern craving for economic security may betray a weak faith. The Nazarene had specifically commanded his “little flock” to “sell your belongings and give charity [to the poor].” [Luke 12:32, 33] Any who claim to be part of such a “little flock” are pseudo-anointed if they do not abide by this command. They are no longer “friends” of the Nazarene if they do not follow his commands. [John 14:15] It is the self-professed “rich” that the Apocalyptic Lord promises to “vomit out of my mouth.” [Revelation 3:16] Paul instructs Timothy to “order” the rich to become “liberal and willing to share.” [1 Timothy 6:17-19] It should be kept in mind that in Jesus’ teachings the “rich” are those with a surplus, and the poor are those who must depend on others for necessities of life. [Luke 21:1-4] Many of these would have been disciples permanently living in Jerusalem or nearby. It should be kept in mind that Jerusalem had only about three decades before it was completely destroyed with one million deaths. Anyone who had property then lost it in the conflagration of 70 AD. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Were the first Christians communists?

Acts 2:44 And all those believing were gathered at the same place and they had everything in common. Acts 2:45 They would sell their possessions and went to distributing the money to everyone as each had a need. [NCMM]

The historian Luke records the communal nature of the first Christians. He says, “they had everything in common.” Some render this: GDS: shared everything; BER: had everything jointly; RIE: they lived as a community and shared everything. The Greek is again COINA as above. The word is the source in English for “community,” “communal,” and “communism.” At least here, at this moment, the Church is communistic, as are all small tribal peoples. Jesus had instructed his apostles to sell all and give to charity to the poor. [Luke 12:32, 33] Paul encourages an “equalization.” [2 Corinthians 8:14] Though the Church was not purely communistic, the rich were given “orders” to remember to share and be liberal. [1 Timothy 6:17-19] Some Christian groups to this day chose to operate as a communal society. It is worthy of note that it has been Jews in modern history who were the origin of communism in Europe.

Luke writes: “They would sell their possessions and went to distributing the money.” Exactly as Jesus instructed his apostles. [Luke 12:32, 33] This may be one of the reasons that the Saints in Jerusalem were poor. [Compare notes on Hebrews 10:34; 13:2, 16. (Romans 15:25-31; 1 Corinthians 16:3)] The world owes it to the Jewish community in Jerusalem and their charity for the bloom of Christianity. The Christians shared with “everyone as each had a need.” [Compare notes on Romans 12:8, 13.] It is a sad statement on the corruption of western capitalism that the vast bulk of modern Christianity no longer reflects this self-sacrificial giving. This may come back to haunt millions of Christians. [Matthew 25:31-46] [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Does death cancel sin?

Romans 6:7 For sin is no longer credited against those who have died. [NCMM]

Some quote this verse from the King James Version to prove all that die are cleared of their debt of sin: “He that is dead is freed from sin.” Or, as the New World Translation has it: “For he who has died has been acquitted from [his] sin.” Some believe this should read in such a manner that a person who has died has paid the debt of sin and thus has been justified or acquitted from sin. This suggests that the most vile and ungodly persons, like Adolph Hitler, would have his debt of sin canceled by his suicide. However, both in Romans chapters 2 and 14 Paul argues that each dead person must rise to their judgment based on their past conduct. Death is the result of sin. [Romans 3:23; 5:12] Death does not cancel the responsibility for sin. [Matthew 12:35-37] [Research the word judgment for more details.] Paul writes elsewhere that all die and then are judged. (Hebrews 9:26; 2 Corinthians 5:10) The point in Romans 6:7 seems to be: the dead no longer sin, and it is an analogy of the righteous life the Saint should live. This is harmony with the context of Paul’s argument. Thus, Philips Modern English version reads: “For a dead man can safely be said to be immune to the power of sin.” [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What “days” did Peter mean?

2 Peter 3:3 For you know this first that during the end of the days there will come scoffers making mockery in accordance with their own desires. [NCMM]

The Greek for “during the end of the days” is eschaton ton hemeron. [Compare 2 Timothy 3:1, eschatais hemerais; Hebrews 1:2, eschatou ton hemeron; Acts 2:17, eschatais hemerais.] The KJV renders this phrase: “in the last days.” Many will make this something of a prophecy about a future moment. Research the phrase last days which occurs about 6 times in the Christian Bible. Note whether they refer to those contemporary times or some future period. Note also Jesus never uses the phrase “last days” nor does it ever occur in the Book of Revelation. Jude 18 actually alludes to Peter’s words here and applies them to their time period in the first century. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Did Paul believe the Parousia was imminent?

2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, 2 Thessalonians 2:2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. [Revised Standard Version]

Paul begins chapter two with the words in Greek: TES [the] PAROUSIAS [presence] TOU [of the] KYRIOU [Lord] HEMON [our] and means literally, “the presence of our Lord.” It is likely this subject resulted from two things: a) the previous letter; and, b) something said during the previous visit. It seems this is a reference to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “to meet the Lord in the air ... and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” In his previous letter Paul has mentioned both the Parousia and the Gathering. (Compare Matthew 24:31; Matthew 25:31; see notes on Matthew 24:31 and Matthew 25:31) Consider the Nazarene’s grand promise at John 14:1, 2. It seems reasonable that this Parousia is the same as the Appearing or Revelation of 2 Thessalonians 1:7. [Compare Luke 17:30 (revelation) and Luke 17:34, 35 (taken along).] Some misunderstanding, or someone’s misinterpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, has led to a misplaced excitement in the church. Likely, judging from what follows, Paul’s phrase “we the living” was either misunderstood or twisted, implying the imminent Return of Christ and the resurrection. Though Paul may mean the epistle 1 Thessalonians and a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of it, it seems possible they have also received a letter from someone else. This letter may have claimed to have heard from Paul, or represents what Paul says, giving the impression “the Day of the Lord has come” and the Parousia and resurrection were near -- in their life-time. Paul could not have violated the Lord’s warning at Luke 21:8. The suggestion is that they misunderstood Paul or were deceived by gossip or another inspiration that the PAROUSIA had come or was near. If Paul understood the Parousia was imminent he might well have so indicated. Jesus had also cleared up any thought the Day was imminent at Luke 19:11, 12. [Compare also the “after a long time” at Matthew 25:19.] To this day at the beginning of the 3rd Millennium Christians must be on guard against false prophets. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Does “firstborn” mean “first-created”?

Though some read Colossians 1:15 and understand that the Son is the “firstborn” [PROTOTOKOS] of all God’s creatures, others - through a Trinitarian filter - understand this to mean the Son is actually the first-birther, or the Creator himself. Here we wish to provide a few concluding thoughts: some early church scholars of the 1st and 2nd Centuries understood “firstborn” to mean “first-created.” It seems that the first appearance of the Greek PROTO-KTISTOS [first+created; created+before] in Hellenist literature from the time of Homer is in the writings of the 1st Century Christian, Clement. In his work Stromata Clement calls Christ “firstcreated” [TON PROTOKTISTON]. He also composes the line [alluding to Proverbs 8:22]: TES SOPHIAS TES PROTOKTISTOU TO THEO. [ = “Wisdom that was the first created of God.”]

One scholar comments on this: “Clement repeatedly identifies the Word [editor John 1:1] with the Wisdom of God [editor Proverbs 8:22], and yet he refers to Wisdom as the first-created; while in one passage he attached the epithet ‘first-created,’ and in another ‘first-begotten,’ to the Word. … At a later date a sharp distinction was drawn between ‘first-created’ and ‘first-born’ or ‘first-begotten,’ but no such distinction was drawn in the time of Clement, who with the Septuagint rendering of a passage in Proverbs [8:22] before him could have had no misgiving as to the use of these terms. … Clement makes a sharp distinction between the Son and the Word who was begotten or created before the rest of creation and the alone Unbegotten God and Father.” [Clement of Alexandria, John Patrick (1914)]

More than a century later this view had not changed. Compare the words of Justin Martyr in Dialogue With Trypho: “But this Offspring which was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures, and the Father communed with him; even as the Scripture [at Proverbs 8:22-31] by Solomon has made clear that he whom Solomon calls Wisdom, was begotten AS A Beginning BEFORE all His creatures and as Offspring of God. … We [Christians] know [Christ] to be the first-begotten of God, and to be before all creatures. … He is the Son of God and since we call him the Son, we have understood that he proceeded before all creatures from the Father by His power and will.” Thus, Willis B. Shotwell in The Biblical Exegesis of Justin Martyr concludes: “The language here is such that it cannot be argued that Justin considered the Logos to be eternal. The most that can be said about the Logos is that he was created before anything else.” [London 1965] Some think Paul’s language in Colossians 1:15 may have been borrowed from a Jewish contemporary, the Hebrew philosopher Philo Judaea. Philo writes in On the Confusion of the Tongues: “God’s firstborn, the Logos, who holds the eldership among the angels, an archangel as it were.” [From Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How does love “cover” everything?

1 Corinthians 13:7 [Real (divine) love] covers over everything. [NCMM]

The phrase is variously rendered: WMS: it bears up under everything; NEB: there is nothing lover cannot face; PME: love knows no limits to its endurance; WEY: love can overlooks faults; MOF: always slow to expose. The Greek STEGEI (STEGE) is rooted in the idea of a roof (Matthew 8:8; Mark 2:24; Luke 7:6). STEGO may convey two meanings: a) to cover by silence, or keep a confidence; and, b) to bear up against, or hold out against. Given the immediate context STEGEI here may mean "love covers by silence" those matters which could be damaging or misunderstood about someone loved. Families do this all the time. So do true and genuine friends who are very reluctant to reveal negative information about a close companion. The Proverbs teach the same thing: "Hatred is what stirs up contentions, but love covers over even all transgressions." (Proverbs 10:12) This thought from Proverbs is likely what Paul has in mind when he says, "Love covers everything."

One of the most unloving things a friend can ever do is reveal a bit of confidential information to those who have no need or right to know it. Such may not be slander in the strictest sense, for the subject is truthful, but unknown. It is rather terribly harmful gossip. Many a close friendship has been destroyed by such failures to cover or keep a confidence. Additionally, love will cover others’ weaknesses or failures by a willingness to explain unchristian conduct. For example, if someone reveals an error or trespass on the part of another, love may cause one to make an excuse for the person rather than multiplying and passing along such gossip. A loving person might defend the person by saying, "Well, perhaps he (or, she) was just having a bad day like we all do from time to time." [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How does love trust everything?

1 Corinthians 13:7 [Real (divine) love] trusts in everything. [NCMM]

This phrase also may have more than one meaning. The phrase is variously rendered: WMS: it exercises faith in everything; BER: unquenchable faith; MOF: always eager to believe the best; NEB: there is no limit to its faith; PME: no limit to its trust. If the Greek PISTEUEI is viewed more as "trust" then this kind of love always trusts a friend’s truthfulness or honesty. This love is not paranoid, distrusting, or suspicious. There is a certain guilelessness in such a loving person. This person has no agenda, is no manipulator. These loving persons take people as they are without judging them wrongly without strong evidence to the contrary. Translator James Moffatt may have come the closest: "(love) is always eager to believe the best." What a Christ-like attitude to trust and believe that there is some goodness in everyone. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Who is the Absolute Sovereign?

Acts 4:24 When the whole community heard, they raised their voices to the God with one mind, and said: “Sovereign Lord, the One who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea and everything in them. [NCMM]

With one unified mind and heart Peter and some early Christians prayed to the God, addressing Him as “Sovereign Lord.” The Greek is DESPOTA and according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance [#1203] means, an absolute ruler, that is the One over whom no one else rules, the only One with absolute power and autority. The first occurrence of DESPOTA in the 3rd Century BC Jewish Greek Bible is Genesis 15:2 and is used of Yehowah. Never is this absolute title used of Jesus Christ, for his power and authority are not absolute but limited and qualified. The word occurs two others times at Luke 2:29 and Revelation 6:10. This latter verse is the voice of the martyred Saints who call out to “the DESPOTES.” As a lord, Jesus has his own Lord, his Father Yehowah, for He alone is “God of gods and Lord of lords.” [Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 110:1 KJV] It is clear from this early Christian prayer that they considered the Creator to be the Absolute Ruler, while Jesus was the servant-boy anointed by Yehowah. [Psalm 2:1] The DESPOTA is the Creator. Though Christ was used as a creative agent, he is no never called the Creator. [Colossians 1:15-18; Revelation 3:14] It should also be noted that DESPOTA created “everything” in the heaven and that would include His own Son. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What demons did the Greeks fear?

Acts 17:22b “Men of Athens, I behold in every way you are more demon-dreading than others.” [NCMM]

Paul calls the Greek philiosphers as “demon-dreading.” The Greek is DEISIDAIMONESTEROUS [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 1174, rooted in fearing+demons]. The great cyclic religions such as the Egyptians, Hindus and Buddhists all have the fear of demons as a major part of their religious ritual. In the western world Hinduism and Buddhism are presented in a different guise though anyone who has traveled in such worlds has seen this continuous attempt to placate demons. It is well known Plato studied the Egyptian religion and plagiarized much of its central theology. [Compare Eusebius’ Preparation of the Gospel, 3rd Century AD] Paul writes to the Corinthians that the non-Jews or Greeks commune with demons. [1 Corinthians 10:20] As with the Egyptians and Hindus many of these demons or gods were triune or triads. For even Aristotle writes in On the Heavens: “It is just as the Pythagoreans say, the whole world and all things in it are summed up in the number three; for end, middle, and beginning give the number of the whole, and their number is the triad [or, trinity]. Hence it is that we have taken this number from nature, as it were one of her laws, and make use of it even for the worship of the gods.” [English translation by W. K. C. Guthrie M. A., Cambridge] The French Biblical commentary also says: "The Platonic trinity, itself merely a rearrangement of older trinities dating back to earlier peoples, appears to be the rational philosophic trinity of attributes that gave birth to the three hypostases or divine persons taught by the Christian churches. . . . This Greek philosopher's [Plato, fourth century B.C.E.] conception of the divine trinity . . . can be found in all the ancient [pagan] religions." [Nouveau Dictionnaire Universel (Paris, 1865-1870), edited by M. Lachâtre, Vol. 2, p. 1467.] [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Who are the 144,000?

Revelation 7:4 And I heard the number of those sealed: “144,000.” [NCMM]

Note John now “hears” what he is soon to “see.” This point is noted by New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Colin Brown editor), Vol 2, page 695: “ . . . 12 x 12,000 = 144,000 who are sealed ... from the tribes of Israel; cf. also 14:3. Thus the number 144,000 does not denote a numerical limitation of those who are sealed; it symbolizes the final perfection of the people of God (cf. also 7.9). In this respect when John sees them, as opposed to hearing the number of the sealed, they are ‘a great multitude which no man can number . . . (cf. Rev. 7:9 with 7.4).’”

If the prophetic context is sequential from the First Seal and the ride of the white horse and occurs after the Sixth Seal begins, this sealing occurs contemporary with the celestial darkness. The sealing of the 144,000 would take place at a moment when the Four Winds could occur but are restrained. The logical placement for this is exactly where the Apocalypse has it, near the end of the Sixth Seal. The 144,000 are strongly linked with the Large Crowd which is soon to be seen by John. In other words, John hears the number 144,000 and then he sees the same group who are to be rescued from the Great Oppression. In Revelation 9:4 there are only two groups during the Locust Plague: the unsealed harmed and the sealed unharmed. The 144,000 are on earth during this plague. The 144,000 are the same as the “we the living” of 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The number 144,000 occurs only 3 times. (Revelation 14:1, 3) 144 is a variant on the number 12. But, the number 144 can be mystically seen in the cherubs on the tabernacle tapestry. (Numbers 26:21) By comparing Revelation 14:5 with Zephaniah 3:13 it is seen the 144,000 are the “remnant of Israel” and not the full number of this New Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16) [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How is Jesus a “Helper”?

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing you this so that you may not commit a sin. And every time anyone commits a sin, we have a Helper facing the Father, a righteous person, Jesus Christ. [NCMM]

John calls Jesus a “heper.” The Greek is parakleton. Or, KJV: advocate; TCNT: we have one who can plead for us; GDSP: intercede; BER: a counsel for defense. Despite his death, Messiah will “make intercession for sinners.” (Isaiah 53:12 JPS) Romans 8:34 describes: “(Jesus) is on the right hand of The God, who also pleads for us.” Also, Hebrews 7:25 says: “(Jesus) is always alive to intercede for them.” Jesus promised to send the Paraclete to his apostles (John 14:26) as guide into all the truth but here it is the Son of God as mediatorial helper who intercedes or interposes in behalf of the Saints. (Numbers 21:7 and Isaiah 53:12) Using this understanding the “sin” of verse 1 could not be apostasy, or, those sins which “incur death” for which Saints are not encouraged to pray, but those habitual sins which would finally lead to failure in the Christian course. His one sacrificial death has already canceled their debt of sin in the past and through their faith they attained perfection by justification. (Romans 5:1, 9 and Hebrews 9:9, 12, 14) It is a pleasant and reassuring thought our Lord Jesus faces our Father to act as our Helper when we stumble into “a false step.” [Galatians 6:1] [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What is “divine nature”?

2 Peter 1:4 He has freely granted to us the precious and greatest promises so that by these things you might become sharers of divine nature, having escaped a world of corrupt desire. [NCMM]

Peter writes about God’s “precious and great promises.” Such include becoming “sharers in divine nature.” The Greek is theias coinonoi physeos. Theias is “a general name of deities or divinities as used by the Greeks.” (Strong’s #2304) It means god-like. Coinonoi means to share in “common” or commune, communion. Physeos is rooted in “swell” and thus “beget” and may mean: “the nature of things, the force, laws, order of nature ... the sum of innate properties and powers.” (Strong’s #5449) It is the word from which “physics” comes. Most translations use “divine nature.” It suggests the hope of the Saints: to gain a god-like, or divine existence. 1 Corinthians 15:53, “this which is mortal must be clothed with immortality.” [NCMM] 1 Peter 1:4, “The God has regenerated us into a living hope ... into an incorruptible inheritance -- immaculate and never fading brilliance -- reserved for you in the heavens.” [NCMM] This promise is conditioned on what Peter says next: that each Saint must have escaped or fled from “the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed).” [AMP] Thus, only after leaving behind such a corrupt world, may we become shares in a god-like existence. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Where will Christians dwell eternally?

2 Corinthians 5:1 For we realize that if ever our earthly habitat of this tent should be taken down, we are going to possess a building originating from God - not a handmade house - ageless in the Heavens. [NCMM]

Paul compares the bodies in which we live as a tent that will one day be taken down, or as the KJV has it “dissolved.” Other renderings are: destroyed, dismantled, demolished. The human body is to be destroyed. The Greek refers to the pulling up stakes of a tent so that it collapse and be rolled up. Peter uses a similar metaphor. [2 Peter 1:13, 14] The faithful Saint does not take this collapsed tent to heaven, but rather receives an entirely new residence. As Paul says: “a building in heaven to live in” [GDS], or, “a permanent house in heaven.” [PME] This is a “house” not made by human hands. Paul explains this phrase in Hebrews 9:11 to mean “not of this creation.” [Note also Daniel 2:45.] The new spiritual body of the resurrected Saints is “not of this creation.” [Compare 1 Corinthians 15:48, 50; Philippians 3:21.] Will such a new eternal dwelling be on earth? Paul describes it as “ageless in the heavens.” Or, “eternal in the heavens.” [KJV] The Saints do not live forever on earth, but in a celestial home. However, this does not exclude the temporary “encampment” of the New Jerusalem during the Thousand Years. [Revelation 5:10; 21:2] [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How should the Saints cleanse and perfect themselves?

2 Corinthians 7:1 As a result, having these promises, beloved, we should cleanse ourselves from every fleshly and spiritual pollution, perfecting holiness in godly fear. [NCMM]

Paul writes that in order to partake of “these promises” the Nazarene disciple must first “cleanse” themselves by a process of perfecting holiness in the fear of God. This “cleansing,” or self-purification, would include those Babylonish doctrines and standards alluded to previously by Paul. Also, those things that pollute the flesh. [Consider these at Galatians 5:19-21.] Jesus himself provides his own list of such defilements. [Matthew 15:19, 20] That is anything that pollutes the spirit. Paul describes this process as “perfecting holiness in godly fear.” One version puts it: “ … deepest reverence for God, aim at perfect holiness.” [TCN] The fear of God is inseparable from such perfect holiness. Paul has in mind holiness from three perspectives: spiritual, moral, and physical. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Who are the “other sheep”?

John 10:16 “I have ‘other sheep’ [Isaiah 49:12; 56:8] that do not belong to this sheep-fold. Those [sheep] I must lead also, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, ‘one Shepherd.’ [Ezekiel 34:23] [NCMM]

Jesus told his disciples that he had “other sheep.” It is likely the Nazarene echoes either Isaiah 49:12 or Isaiah 56:8, the latter reading: “Yehowah the Absolute Lord - the One gathering together Israel’s scattered ones - says: "I will gather together to [Israel] others besides those already gathered together." [NCMM] Jesus came to call “the lost sheep of the House of Israel” [Matthew 10:6; 15:24], and with but rare exceptions he does not witness to non-Jews. Later some Greeks wanted an audience with Jesus but he does not arrange for such. [Compare John 12:20] It is likely these Greeks were included in Jesus’ words at John 12:32, that after his ascension to heaven he would draw people of all kinds, not just “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” It is these who are the “other sheep” who are not naturally part of the Jewish sheepfold. Compare these two groups - Jew and non-Jews -- becoming one in Ephesians 2:11-22. Some arbitrarily, and without any support, apply these “other sheep” to another class of Christians who do not attain heaven, the American Indians, and even homosexuals. However, these “other sheep” - non-Jewish Saints - will become “one flock” led by “one Shepherd.” This latter designation is an exact allusion to Ezekiel 34:23, 24 where the Messiah-type David is the parallel. [1 Peter 5:4] [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What change must a Christian make?

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this period of time, but rather, be transformed, by the renewing of your mind, proving to yourselves the good, acceptable and perfect will of The God.” [NCMM]

Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this period of time.” [Or, KJV: to this world; RHM: configuring yourselves unto this age; NOR: fashion of the times; GDSP: not adopt the customs; LAM: do not imitate; WMS: stop living in accordance with the customs.] The world is an enemy of God (James 4:4) and under the power and influence of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4) and will one day pass away (1 John 2:17). The Nazarene prayed that his disciples would not be part of this world. (John 17:15, 16) Thus, the Christian must “be transformed.” [Or, ALF: transfigured; WMS: mold your minds; PME: remold.] The Greek word is METAMORPHOUSTHE (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #3339) and is the same word that describes the transfiguration of Christ. (See notes on Matthew 17:2) This suggests the degree of change required. The person who becomes a Nazarene disciple is as different to the former life as the butterfly to the caterpillar. Paul’s counsel is not to be molded by the world (or, age) around you but let your mind undergo a transformation. Only after this can the Nazarene disciple discern the perfect will of God. People who remain "worldly" or whose lives are based on a schematic patterned according to the characteristics of the Roman Age will not likely create a harmonious community. Is it clear that a real change must come about when one becomes a Christian or Friends of the Nazarene? How do these changes or transformations affect the structured part of the Christian community? There are certain key fundamentals necessary for a group of people to work in harmony for their mutual purpose and encouragement. First, Paul discusses certain attributes or characteristics which would apply to all within the Nazarene community.

This transformation requires what Paul calls the “Renewing of your mind.” [Or, GDSP: new attitude of mind; WMS: new ideals. This is a complete new way of thinking. Paul has mentioned the changed mind earlier.] And only then can the changed disciple begin “Proving to yourselves good, acceptable and perfect will of The God.” The Greek word for “proving” is DOCIMAZEIN (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1381) and one can see the root for “document.” Each disciple must prove to themselves that worship of God is the logical thing to do. For some this is an easy process, for others it amounts to climbing the highest mountain. (1 Timothy 4:15) God’s will and purpose is good (perfectly virtuous and kind, destined to perfect fulfillment); and, acceptable (His will pleases perfectly His worshipers who have used their logical mind to prove it to themselves); and, His will is perfect (not lacking anything, and complete in every aspect to fulfill His wishes). God’s will never harms us and is always good for us. His will for the Nazarene’s disciples is there complete sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) [From the footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

Why avoid judging another?

Romans 14:4 “Who are you to be judging another’s household servant, for to his own lord he stands or falls. However, that person will stand [firm] because the Lord is strong enough to make such a person stand [firm].” [NCMM]

Paul asks the challenging question of each judgmental Christian: “Who are you to be judging another’s household servant?” [Or, TCNT: who are that you should pass judgment on the servant of other; MOF: who are you to criticize the servant of Another.] The Nazarene warned of the same thing when he taught: “Stop criticizing others so that you may not be criticized yourselves.” [Matthew 7:1 WMS] Paul gives the reason: “For to his own lord he stands or falls.” [Or, GDSP: to say whether he succeeds or fails.] Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:4, 5: “For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but in this I am not pronounced innocent. But, ‘The One judging me is YHWH.’ So, do not judge anything before the season, until the Lord arrives. He will bring to the Light the hidden things of darkness and manifest the motives of [all] hearts. And, then, each person’s praise will be from The God.” [NCMM] And, despite any critical opinions of others, Paul explains why the object of our judgment can stand: “The Lord is strong enough to make such a person stand [firm]” [Or, KJV: God is able to make him stand; ASV: for the Lord hath power to make him stand; KNX: God is well able.] So, any judgment we make against others only reveals our own jealousy and ends up hurting us. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How is a brother who is a habitual sinner to be treated?

1 Corinthians 5:11 “However, now, I write you not to associate with anyone called a ‘brother’ [who is] sexually immoral, a greedy person, an idolater, a reviler, a drunkard, or an extortioner - not even eating with such a person.” [NCMM]

Paul commands: “Not to associate with anyone called a ‘brother’.” Paul will now list a few other reasons to shun someone, as well as explaining what “not to associate with” includes. He means a ‘brother’ [or, sister] who is habitually, “Sexually immoral, a greedy person, an idolater, a reviler, a drunkard, or an extortioner.” Paul has now expanded his list for shunning to six reasons. [For details on these words reference the same in Nazarene Commentary©.] Though some sects who practice shunning regularly disfellowship or excommunicate sexually immoral persons, they seldom, if ever, address the “greedy person,” or even, the “extortioner.”

Paul says, “Not even eating with such a person.” [Or, TCN: sit at a table with.] If we compare 2 Thessalonians 3:10 the same is suggested. It would seem obvious that the above does not mean to cast out a family member, though some sects include such in their shunning practices. It would seem that the principle stated at 1 Timothy 5:8 would bear on that matter. Paul writes that such a person should “not be treated as an enemy, but as a brother.” [See Nazarene Commentary© on 2 Thessalonians 3:15.] It is possible the early Christian Church copied something of the Jewish practice in shunning. The Jews did expel undesirables from their spiritual community. [John 9:22; 16:2] They had three steps: a] NID-DUY’ was for a short period of a month to let the person know what he might be in for - such a person could attend the Temple but his family had to remain six feet away from him. B] CHE’REM included a more serious ban during which the person could not share in teaching with others, nor any business in buying or selling save essentials for subsistence. C] SHAM-MAT-TA’ which was a complete casting out of the Jewish community. [From the footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What were older Christian women to teach younger Christian women?

Titus 2:4 “ … so that they may encourage the young women to be fond of males, fond of their children … “ [NCMM]

Paul writes to Titus that the older Christian women should, “encourage the young women.” Though Christian women would not appointed to any office of teacher or prophet in the early Church, this did not limit the good they could do in teaching the younger women. Paul goes on to list what these older ladies ought to teach the young females. He first mentions: “To be fond of males.” [Or, KJV: love their husbands; CON: loving wives. (See Weymouth)] The Greek is PHIL-ANDROUS [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #5362] from which the English corruption “philanderer” comes with a contradictory meaning. It literal means “fond of males” and is usually rendered “love their husbands.” It does show that the older women should teach the younger to be fond of males and not hateful of them as if in a battle of the sexes. Also, they should teach the young wives to be “fond of their children,” something most natural to billions of mothers throughout history. There may have been a particular problem on Crete for it is the nature of women to love their children unless there is another force at work. There can be no greater work in the Church than rearing the next generation. [From the footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

How is the next generation of Christian teachers prepared?

2 Timothy 2:2 “… entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” [NCMM]

Paul gave instructions to Timothy, though a young man himself, to prepare other loyal Christian men to become teachers. He wrote: “Entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” [Or, KJV: the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also; GDSP: trustworthy men; BER: reliable men; PME: who will be able to pass it on.] Paul suggests a teaching program involving qualified Christian men with the object of their teaching other men. This indicates Timothy was well qualified in Paul’s opinion despite his youth. It also tells us something of the early Church’s program to prepare the next generation of teachers. [See notes on Ephesians 4:11-14.] A vital church must have elders who prepare others to become teachers. These “faithful men” would likely become qualified elders if they met the more than a dozen requirements. [Compare notes on 1 Timothy 3:1-12] [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

What does the parable of the Sleeping Farmer mean?

Mark 4:26 Then Jesus said: “God’s Realm is as if a person scattered seed on the ground, Mark 4:27 then goes to sleep at night and rises the next day. The seed sprouts and grows and the person has no idea how.” [NCMM]

Jesus uses the designation “God’s Realm,” or, the Kingdom of God, to refer to the Church, or the Realm of Profession, the domain or territory over which Christ reigns by God’s power. [Compare notes on Matthew 13:40-42 and Ephesians 1:19-23.] This parable is unique to Mark and there are several views. The growth of the Church has occurred miraculously as without any outside help, like a seed that grows of itself to produce fruitage. Here the Sower has planted the seed, and then it would seem to the world, showed no interest in how it develops. Like a planted seed, the growth of the Church has amazed historians, and certainly no one could have predicted that within three centuries such a small movement would become the state religion. As a comparative analogy see Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 13:9-12. [From footnotes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©]

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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