The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

VOLUME 1 ISSUE 8 DECEMBER 1997

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:The Nazarene Saints are a research group for better Bible understanding dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid the Father’s Children to "follow the Lamb no matter where the Lamb goes." We are Unitarian Apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that "God is One." The Bible is our credo and we wish to respect the views of our multitude of Christian brethren.

c/o Shawn Mark Miller
177 Riverside Ave
Newport Beach, California 92663 USA
email:

Inside this Newsletter:

1.) The Nazarene’s Death on Stake and Tree

2.) Does John 1:1, 18 Mention Two Gods?

3.) Is the Bible Inspired?

4.) Perfecting the Christian Character: Persevere in Prayer

5.) Regarding the Subject of "Shunning"

6.) Anouncements

How Jesus Died on Both a Tree and a Stake?

MURDER OF THE NAZARENE

How Attempted and Diverted

The subject of the earthly death of The Nazarene-Son of man has had volumes of comments, but, unfortunately as with most ‘Christian’ writings, they are conditioned by the traditions of the past which started hundreds of years after his physical death.

This information will of course strike one as off the course of 'traditions' as such, since The Bible evidences some other aspects, noted by a ' little flock' of Bible students, as not comporting with the generally understood ideas regarding the attempt, mode and result of The Son's ceasing to exist in a physical body.

Anyone familiar with The Bible's record, cannot fail to appreciate the fact, that, the opposing spirit, whose character became his title, Satan, was really behind this most famous of executions. (Satan = Resistor or Opposer [The Bible gives no name for this opposing spirit creature; Lucifer is a mistaken name drawn from the King James Version ]). This Satan is out to destroy, or distract anyone and anything that is attracted to YHWH and His Son's Truth and Purpose.

The information now presented is given as 'food for thought' since the records we have now are not explicit and descriptive of every detail. Therefore, any conclusion derived from prayerful and contextual unconditioned research, should not be judged as the correct or incorrect explanation by any self-claimed orthodox or self-proclaimed "true religion." This is true particularly if such want to use a finding as a basis of labeling others as pseudo Christians, or followers of The Nazarene-Son of Man.

It has been observed by many that the first prophetic utterance recorded is found in Genesis 3:15, in which we are given insight into the intent of murdering the Seed of the Woman, a figurative term for YHWH's Heavenly Family. (Hebrews 12:22-24) This Seed is The Son of Man brought forth from that Family. (John 8:23)

This prophecy also shows how the attempt would fall short of it's intended purpose: ‘You will bruise him in the heal.’ This is definitely not a death-blow, as would be the case when what (the Seed) would do by inflicting a crush[ed] head upon the Serpent. (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20) This resulting fulfillment is in harmony with another Biblical principle: ‘He digs a trap, scoops it out, but he falls into the snare he made himself.’ (Ps 7:15 New Jerusalem Bible)

So, the question is: "How did the intended murder of The Son of Man occur?"

The Bible uses the Biblical Hebrew and Greek terms: `ETs and T.ALAH (Heb); and ... STAURo'O>STAURoS', and in referring to the instrument of death. ['ETs & XU'LoN having primary senses of wood, tree, post, gibbet ... various Biblical Greek lexicons]; and, the 'hanging' [ = T.ALAH and STAURo'O ] of some one upon a tree-wood, as the means to effect a torturous death. In fact, one of the derogatory names applied to Christian followers of The Son of Man in the Talmud is: ילת ידבע [you may not receive the Heb fonts] or "worshippers of the Hung." And, according to their fable, he was first stoned, then hung on the Tree. There are both, in Jewish and Roman histories, testimony of the killing of some before hanging them up for public display. (LC / FF-p 638 & ScrtGolg / EM p 184)

There are references that could indicate our Lord was taken to be fastened to a tree, his wrists (hands) to be nailed to a patibulum, by which he was hoisted up and this patibulum secured to the living tree. The Bible's proscribed order was to hang one upon a tree after being executed, for an "object lesson" to the nation: ‘... you shall surely kill him ... you shalll stone him to death with stones, because he has sought to draw you away from Yahweh... and he is put to death and you hang him on a tree...’ (Dueteronomy 13:10,11; 21:21-23, The Sacred Scriptures)

However, some think that while he was on the wood (xy-lon), is when the stoning occurred. [This also because it was the Romans who did the actual executing process, NOT the Jews, and so Mai.mon'i.des' and Kalinski's comments would not apply] In either case, such further continued physical abuse possibly contributed to death by heart attack. The later from bearing the burden of the nation's sin and sorrow over their callousness toward his Father's purpose -- evidenced by the separation of water & blood when stabbed in the side. Such separation occurs when the main aorta burst, in this case, from extreme stress. (Matthew 27:49) And so both contributed to his physical death, the heart-attack first, immediately followed by hypovolemic shock caused by continued hours of bodily abuse.

The Nazarene was "hung" on a large tree, together with two others judged to also be worthy of being executed. Hung, that is fastened, to the Tree-wood, Jesus, along with the two other offenders, could be said to be in their midst while, depending on the angle of approach to the tree come to the Nazarene last instead of second. This may account for the record telling how the soldiers broke the legs of these two and then when they came to The Son of Man they, ‘coming unto YAHSHUA, when they saw that he was already dead, they brake not his legs.’ (John 19:31-34, Restoration of the Original Sacred Name Bible)

This reveals that the event was a hurried affair because of the religiosity of the Jews. Also this may hint at the mistreatment he must have suffered before. Should he not, as a perfect physical person, have outlasted the two criminals.

All the above, is a sort of combining of observations regarding the records. Was it on a living tree, wood, stake, pole or cross that the hanging of our Lord took place? Since the Bible uses terms that initially indicate a tree in most of its usage’s, and since trees were valued and not abundant (adding the fact that it was a hurried event) a large live tree seems most probable, in the contextual descriptions. This would have been something like the West’s "hanging tree." Additionally, some think wood-stake or pole, drawn mostly from just STAURoN, and possibly from the influence of the mentioning of how Jews at that time viewed this instrument connected with the death of a Jew, was abominable, and should, therefore, be burned and/or buried after its use. In affect, the instrument was unclean.

However, as mentioned earlier, the original process, described in Deuteronomy chapters 13 and 21, was to first kill the convicted one, then hang that one up, just for the day. It was the victim that was viewed as accursed, not the tree on which he was hung. As Paul himself puts it: ‘Cursed [is] everyone having been hung on a tree.’ (Gal 3:13 Literal Translation of The Holy Bible) Again, keep in mind, this was not a Jewish process. They "contracted" the Roman secularist to carry out their murderous intent! [Though in the Book of Acts much of the blame is placed on the Jews for the execution of the Nazarene. (Acts 2:23; 4:27)]

Of course, this disrupts the well used passage understood with the later-Latin '"cross" definition: ‘pick up your cross and follow me.’ However, as with many other subjects discussed in the Nazarene Saints Newsletter, we are not concerned with old traditional religious sentimentality, but YHWH's Revealed Truth's. With this other sense considered, Matthew 16:24 could be literally paraphrased: ‘Be resolved to hold to YOUR intent to the death following Me!’ Or, more poetically, ‘Be resolute to the Tree if YOU follow Me.’

Does The Nazarene-Messiah's early death free any involved from being guilty of murder? Not really, for if it had not been cut short, their intent was unchanged. No where do we read of anyone trying to stop the situation. We must admit here, we are still in wonderment that not any of Jesus' chosen twelve Apostles, or any other Disciple, stepped in to protest. Particularly considering the prided loyalty of the Orientals known for their martial zeal as something much like the Japanese kamikaze in our generation. Surely, it was in part to the prophetic development of events.

Some try to pass this off lightly, saying that the Nazarene was foretold to die, and any obstruction would not change that, but only cause punishment on those attempting it! As ‘Abraham (as good as) offered up Isaac’ (Heb 11:17), so those involved with our Lord's intended death, "as good as" murdered him!

By extension into the symbolic: thinking of how unending-Life was lost, through the Edenic instrument of a Living-Tree, what a parallel it makes that the means for restoring that same quality of Life be restored by using the instrument of another Living-Tree on Golgotha. From the first the "fruit" was wrong removed initiating death, and in the latter, fruitage was put back on the branches, making a restoration of unending-Life possible again. (1 Corinthians 15:23, 45)

Also, his early death by his own internal causes, [and likely YHWH’s intervention (Compare Isaiah 53:10 Heb Txt with Luke 22:44)] cut short Satan and his earthly agents' plan to murder the Nazarene!

Constantine's ' Latin cross' ? Latin lexicons show that the earlier meanings of crux as being a tree, frame, or other wooden instrument of execution. IF it was the traditionally represented cross, later called the "Latin cross." There is no devotional or symbolic use of this type of cross among the early Nazarene community until after the 4th century CE began. This should be kept in mind when viewing "cross" as a 'definition and rendering in dictionaries, lexicons and documentaries!

It certainly would add to the insult of the homicidal purpose toward the Son of Man, since this type of cross was a secular symbol used in non-Biblical religions. H. Fulda's stake is the next closest probability, but the language of The Bible, and the above reasoning, seem to present more closely the sense of a tree. Note also the sense and renderings in Luke 23:31 and Acts 5:30 in various translations and Biblical Greek / English interlinears.

Does it matter what the mode and manner was? As was mentioned earlier, this should not be an issue over which to "judge" one another. The records do not specify in exact terms the subject considered about which we can make any bold assertions. What has been presented is based on the texts and knowledge we have at the present time. For surely, did not his death pay a price alone for which we all can be grateful? Why become divided over that precious sacrifice with isolated theological-semantic demands? -- Canby, Oregon

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Questions From Readers: Are there two "gods" in John 1:1-3, 18?

The Greek text of John 1:1-3 (including the Strong’s # -- YOU MAY NOT RECEIVE THE HEB/GRK CHARACTERS) reads:

εν αρχη746 ην ο λογος3056 και ο λογος ην προς4314
In beginning was the word and the word was toward

τον θεον2316 και θεος2316 ην ο λογος αυτος3778 ην
the god and god was the word the same was

εν αρχη προς τον θεον
in beginning toward the god

The 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures:

1:1 In (a) beginning the Word existed, and the Word existed with The God

and the Word was (a) god.

1:2 This (god) existed in the beginning with The God.

1:3 Everything came into existence by means of (this god’s) agency

and without (that god) nothing came into existence.

This prologue of the Beloved most be among the premier texts quoted to prove the Trinity. Not, of course, by scholars, even Trinitarian ones, for obviously the Third Person is absent. It is often, though, resorted to by new Christians who have been erroneously told somewhere it proves the Trinity. The volumes of dissertations on this verse alone would fill the oceans of the world. So, we wish to be as simple as possible so we do not increase the depths of the oceans of ink.

There is one word we are unable to find in any translation we have examined. There may be some which contain this missing word and no doubt we will locate it some day. The original First Century Greek copies would have read, using English, something like this:

INBEGINNINGTHEWORDWASANDTHEWORDWASWITHTHEGODANDGODWASTHEWORD.

Can you find the word missing in your own translation? Take a minute and read slowly. You will find it. It is the word "the" --- in Greek ton (τον) before the first occurrence of "god" --- that is, "the god." Now centuries of Christian monotheism, and later the Trinitarian filter, has rendered "the god" as "God." Now, this is fair enough if one clearly understands what is going on in this verse. The 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures [NCMM] chooses to add the article "the" and make the phrase "The God" because there were so many "gods" (1 Corinthians 8:4-8) in the ancient Greek and Roman world, John wants to make clear he has The God in mind. So, "the Word was with The God." A particular, singular, and absolute "God."

Mohammed did something similar when faced with a world filled with pagan gods, and with the Trinity popular among the powerful Roman Christian world. He describes the Creator as Allah which literally means the same as ho theos --- The God. In the modern Western world with its Judaeo-Christian and Moslem backgrounds we need only see the word capitalized, God, to know this is different from "god." One way to do this in Greek is use the only article the Greek language had -- "the."

Some scholars believe ho theos is never used of Christ whereas theos is on rare occasions. These will be discussed later.

Do you think it fair for any translation to omit an important word from the original Greek of the Christian Bible? Well, what does this mean? The Word was with someone, and this someone was The God. At the same time "the Word was god." But, this "god" lacks the article "the" and so cannot be the same "The God" with whom the Word was. Now, modern Trinitarian monotheists (something of a contradiction) will howl "polytheism!" Because that is what results from reading the verse literally in Greek: there are two gods in verse one: The God and another "god." How can this be? We in the Twentieth Century, looking backward through centuries of Trinitarian filters and straw-man definitions, do not share the same views that John’s readers did. So, we must first understand how Jews, Greeks and Romans would have viewed the word theos or "god." Few English-speaking persons can state the root meaning and sources for the word "god" let alone the Greek theos of the Hebrew elohim.

Regarding John 1:1, Professor Martin Werner writes: "This problem was one which had not hitherto existed for Christianity. Now for the first time, owing to the new doctrine of Redemption, Christ becomes tantamount to ‘another God,’ (Justin) or, rather, the God ‘in the second place,’ ‘the second rank’ after the Creator-God (Justin), the ‘second God’ (Origen), the ‘second God after the Father.’ (Hippolytus)

"That there should be a second God with or after the first and only God the Father constituted, inevitably, for Christian monotheism a great problem. ... This Prologue (John i, 1 ff.) became in increasing measure for the theology of the following period both the point of departure and the object of a discussion which grew ever more intense. The fact that discussion centered here, and not primarily on the Synoptic and Pauline statements, is significant. For it reveals the instinctive feeling that a problem was involved here which had not existed in the Apostolic Age and which the Post-Apostolic Church had itself created." (The Formation of Christian Dogma, Martin Werner, pp 216, 217)

On the matter of monotheism and polytheism, who is authorized to determine what the definitions of these words must mean? If they are arbitrarily defined as "worship of one God" as opposed to "belief in one God" interesting conflicts result. What was the truth of the Hebrew and Greek worlds? Anyone can study lexicons and discover for themselves that both Jews and Christians believed that though there was only one God, there were others who were called "gods" both among celestial pantheons and terrestrial emperors, heroes, idols, and noteworthy persons, such as judges and kings. (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6; Ps 45:6 JBftn; 82:1-6)

That John has two gods in mind is shown by verse 18 of this same chapter, presented in Greek with Strong’s numerical codes and a literal interlinear:

θεον2316 ουδεις3762 εωρακεν3708 πωποτε4415 μονογενης
god no one has seen ever only-begotten

θεος ο ων5607 εις1519 τον κολπον3859 του πατρος3962
god the one who is in the bosum of the father

εκεινος1565 εξηγησατο1834
that one explained (Him)

This reads: ‘No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten god, the one in the bosom of the Father, that one explained Him.’ Is it fair to say that in this verse there are two gods: a) the invisible one, and, b) the only-begotten one? The former is not only invisible but never begotten the same verse inferring this is the Father; the later, holds the favored position with the Father and is the mono+genes of the Father. This word monogenes is like saying this son is the only one who has the DNA of the Father or the only one genetically related to the Father.

The Greek word monogenes occurs four times in reference to the only child born of a parent. (Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; Hebrews 1:17) The Greek monon (monos) is translated "only" scores of times. John 1:14 itself states: ‘ ... glory like an only-begotten of a father.’ Verse 12 had referred to "children of God" so there must be something particularly unique and singular in the begettal of the Son. While sophia ( = Wisdom; Logos) was "created" (Proverbs 8:22) before the earth, Proverbs 8:25 continues to say (LXX), ‘He begets me.’ (Greek = genna me)

Paul explains how this could happen: ‘The God’s .... beloved Son ... is the image of The Invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for in (the Son) was everything -- celestial and terrestrial, the visible and the invisible -- created. ... All things have been created through (the Son) and for him. (The Son) is before all things and in (the Son all things hold together.’ (Co 1:15-17 NR; RSV) This description is similar to John’s (1:1-3) own as well as Hebrews 1:1-4: .... a Son whom (The God = ho theos) appointed heir of all things, through whom He also created the worlds. (This Son) is the reflection of (The God’s) glory and the exact imprint of (The God’s) very being, and (the Son) sustains all things by his powerful word. ... (The Son) sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels.’ Does a fair reading of these verses not indicate the Son is "the only-begotten god" because he was the first and only thing The God created directly and thereafter all other things through His Son as His creative-agent?

John 1:18 also explains what the essential meaning of John’s word logos means by his use of εξηγησατο (exegesato), that is an Exegete, which is someone who explains complex spiritual matters. The Logos is the Exegete of the Creator and it is by means of His Word, the Logos, that God Almighty utters creative words as well as revelations of spiritual illumination. (Re 1:1)

There are some similarities between the relationship of The God and the Word which are illustrated with Moses and Aaron. Exodus 4:15, 16 records this God-arranged relationship: ‘And you (Moses) shall speak to (Aaron) and put words in his mouth. ... (Aaron) shall speak for you (Moses) to the people, and (Aaron) shall be a mouth for you, and you shall be to (Aaron) as God. (RSV) And, again, later: ‘And the LORD said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh; and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet.’ (Ex 7:1 RSV) We leave the footnotes to explain details of what is going on in these verses.

However, we might paraphrase these verses this way: "In the beginning Aaron was, and Aaron as with the God Moses, and Aaron was God." Yahweh himself describes Aaron as "mouth" and "prophet" in that the brother of Moses spoke for him who had God speaking directly to him. Some versions use "Spokesman" instead of "mouth." The Jewish Greek (LXX) version uses laon for "words" in which logos is rooted. But, there is something that pops off the page in the Septuagint.

It is the Greek προς τον θεον (pros ton theon) which occurs in Exodus 4:16 (LXX), exactly the same phrase occurring in John 1:1 when it states "the Word was with The God." Would this not confirm the relationship of Aaron to Moses is compared to John’s Logos or Word? Moses was, in affect, The God, and Aaron was his "mouth" or "spokesman" or "prophet" and spoke for him.

It is the Nazarene himself who explains (exegete) that what he speaks is not his own but what The God told him to speak. Jesus does this several times: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. ... I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge. ... My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me; if any man’s will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teaching is from [The] God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. ... I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.’ (John 5:19, 30; 7:16-18; 8:28 RSV) These are words Aaron could have used if asked where his words came from.

Some renderings of John 1:1 are: 1808: "and the word was a god." The New Testament in an Improved Version, Upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome's New Translation: With a Corrected Text. 1864: "and a god was the word." The Emphatic Diaglott, interlinear reading, by Benjamin Wilson. 1928: "and the Word was a divine being." La Bible du Centenaire, L'Evangile selon Jean, by Maurice Goguel. 1935: "and the Word was divine." The Bible-An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed. 1946: "and of a divine kind was the Word." Das Neue Testament, by Ludwig Thimme. 1950: "and the Word was a god." New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures. 1958: "and the Word was a God." The New Testament, by James L. Tomanek. 1975: "and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word." Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Siegfried Schulz. 1978: "and godlike kind was the Logos." Das Evangelium nach Johannes, by Johannes Schneider. [Editor: the above article is an excerpt from De Trinitatis Erroribus.] -- Hemet, California &

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Announcements:

• There is a proposed meeting in December, the date to be announced. If you are interested in attending please contact us.

• Copies of past newsletters are available.

• Copies of a few NAZARENE MOUNTAIN TEACHINGS dealing with the Sermon on the Mount are available free.

• Because one member of the Nazarene Saints has mainly been bearing the brunt of the financial expense for other publications it has become necessary to ask for a "donation" if any wish Xerox three-hole punched copies of the items below:

• The Seven Principles -- $15; Apocalypse 2,000! $20; and, messianic CONFESSIONS $20. These figures cover only the cost of duplication. Shipping and Handling is free. No profit is made on these publications. &

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The Manuel of Discipline: Perfecting the Christian Character.

The consideration of Romans chapter 12 continues with verse 12b:

11. Persevere in prayer. Various renderings of the phrase are: GDSP: persistent in prayer; PHI: steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer; CON: in your prayers be unwearied. The Nazarene teaches the same thing, ‘Always pray, never give up.’ (Luke 18:1) Not only does our Lord teach it, he demonstrates it, as Luke 22:41-44 records: ‘And (Jesus) withdrew (for the third time -- Matthew) about a stone’s throw, and kneeling, he began to pray: "Father, if you wish it, take this cup away from me, but let not my will, but yours be realized." But, an angel from heaven became visible strengthening him. And in agony he prayed with greater earnestness. His sweat became as drops of blood dripping onto the ground.’ Is there any question the Nazarene was here ‘persevering in prayer’? In this we find a good lesson, for if the Son of God can heighten the intensity of his prayers, we too, must realize we may need to ‘pray with greater earnestness.’

Paul and Peter give this same encouragement elsewhere: ‘Carry on every form of prayer.’ (Ph 4:6) ‘Pray incessentantly.’ (1 Thesalonians 5:17) ‘Be vigilant with a view to prayers.’ (1 Peter 4:7) Prayer ought to characterize the Nazarene Saint each day. The Nazarene taught several principles which will highlight our prayers: a) persistence (Matthew 5:42); b) pray for your persecuting enemies (Matthew 5:44); c) privacy in prayer (Matthew 6:6); d) avoid repetitious and wordy prayers (Matthew 6:7).

The Bible is a book of prayers and about prayers. The word group occurs about 400 times in one translation. The first occurrence is the prayer of a woman, Hannah at 1 Samuel 1:12. The word is used most often in the Hebrew Bible in the Psalms (34) and in the Christian Bible in the Gospel of Matthew 13 times. Why this constant reminder to pray? It seems the sad part of human nature to forget to pray save with those who are spiritual through and through. Many get so preoccupied and distracted they actually forget to go to the Father in prayer, other than in those formal situations such as meals and Christian meetings. When Christians pray for one another they create a spirit of harmony for it is impossible to approach God in sincere prayer and harbor ill feelings about another. Pray for harmony. Pray for that Nazarene disciple you suppose to be your enemy. Also, pray for yourself that no spirit of envy invade your Christian character. --- Hemet, California &

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Is The Bible Inspired?

2 Timothy 3:16 has a phrase in Greek: pasa graphe theopneustos which may be rendered literally: ’All Scripture (is) god-breathed.’ Other renderings are: "Every scripture [is] God-breathed" (RHM); "Every Scripture is God-inspired" (TCNT); "All scripture is divinely inspired" (GDSP); "Every holy Writing which comes from God ... " (BAS); "Every Scripture inspired of God." (ASV) There is a subtle difference to these renderings: some asserting all scripture is inspired; or, every scripture inspired of God. Some hold to the former and include the phrase "all scripture" to be essentially those traditional 66 books which have been passed down through the centuries. Others qualify both "scripture" and the word "inspired" in varying degrees so that there is wide range of which parts of the Bible and which verses or phrases are considered "inspired" by such liberal interpreters.

The later have lists of hundreds, if not thousands, of verses in which they see misspellings, contradictions, poor grammar, or inaccuracies between the Christian Greek Bible and the Jewish Hebrew Scriptures. A recent one observed on the Internet among a subscription discussion group of ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses was the charge that Stephen erred in his defense before the Jewish court by stating ‘ ... the tomb Abraham had bought .... from the sons of Hamor’ (Acts 7:16) and the accounts in Genesis which identify someone else as well as attributing this purchase to Jacob or Joseph. We found half dozen of the most vocal in this particular "chat" room, including a professor, seemed very inclined to a liberal approach to the words ‘scripture" and "inspired."

What did Paul himself have in mind when he used the Greek word graphe, normally translated "scripture" though it may also refer to "writing"? Did Paul, and Jesus as well, understand something in particular when they used the word "scripture"? First, we note in the exact context of Paul’s use of this phrase "god-breathed scripture" he has reminded Timothy: ‘ ... from an infant you have known the Holy Writings ... ‘ (2 Timothy 3:15) Is it fair to state that when Paul goes on to mention the "god-breathed writings" he means the same was what Timothy, as a Jew, was raised on? Paul has already referenced at least two texts from these "holy writings" at 2 Timothy 2:19 -- Numbers 16:3, 26 and Isaiah 26:13. Would it then be fair that Paul himself would have included the Books of Numbers and Isaiah?

In Paul’s first epistle to Timothy he calls "scripture" a reference to the Book of Deuteronomy as well as a phrase out of the Gospel of Luke. (1 Timothy 5:17-19) In just these two letters alone we seem embolden to state Paul considered three books of the Jewish Bible and one from the Christian Bible to be part of "god-breathed scripture."

A word-search examination of just the word "scripture" alone shows Jesus and some of his disciples listing these books as part of such "scripture" --- Exodus, Leviticus, First Kings, Psalms, Jonah, Daniel, and Zechariah. Now, Peter himself adds to such a list of "scripture" by including "all of Paul’s letters." (2 Peter 3:15) And, Jude, possibly with reference to his use of the word "Scriptures" in verse 4, later quotes Peter! (Ju18) If to this list of specifically mentioned "scripture" we are to include those quotations and allusions which strongly infer the same thing, the list grows to incorporate almost all of the Jewish Bible canon.

Many of these allusions are extremely subtle and will be missed unless one has a good knowledge of the Jewish Greek Septuagint. For example, John 5:28, 29 has the Nazarene referring to Isaiah 26:19 in the phrase "those in the memorial tombs" and to Daniel 12:2 in the latter part in verse 29. Would it be fair to state then that the Nazarene viewed Isaiah and Daniel to be part of the "god-breathed scripture"?

The Nazarene seems to refer to the Jewish Bible canon when he and his disciples use the phrase "Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" as inspired prophecy. (Luke 24:27, 45)

We found the criticism of Stephen’s speech to be interesting. The first Christian martyr is delivering a thorough outline of Israel’s history as part of his defense. He faces the sure possibility of execution and yet these critical persons find fault with the angelic disciple! Nothing in the account states the speech of Stephen itself is inspired and therefore "inerrant." Certainly, either Luke or another later Christian editor could have corrected the "error" if they thought it to be an inaccuracy, or they left "the error" as it is because Luke was only reporting the speech perhaps from a court record or Paul’s memory as an eyewitness.

Here we will not go into the details of harmonizing the words of Stephen with the Books of Genesis and Joshua. We have done this directly by the Internet. However, what kind of person criticizes what must have been the immensely emotional self-defense of the first Christian martyr? And then picks at such a questionable case asserting someone is claiming the speech itself was "god-breathed"?

The Dictionary of New Testament Theology gives this commentary: "In about 70 cases we have an introductory formula, which is then followed by a Bible citation giving proof. ... Sometimes Scripture is quoted in a way which is tantamount to quoting God himself. ... The adj. theopneustos (v. 16) means lit. ‘God-breathed’. It does not imply any particular mode of inspiration, such as some form of divine dictation. Nor does it imply the suspension of the normal cognitive faculties of the human authors. On the other hand, it does imply something quite different from poetic inspiration. It is wrong to omit the divine element from the term implied by theo-, as the NEB does in rendering the phrase ‘every inspired scripture’. The expression clearly does not imply that some Scriptures are inspired, whilst others are not. The sacred scriptures are all expressive of the mind of God; but they are so with a view to their practical outworking in life." (Volume 3, pages 488-492)

Paul argues for the "superiority (or, advantage) of the Jew" to include the fact ‘they were entrusted with the scriptures of God.’ (Romans 3:1 ASV, MOF) Apparently every one of the 66 books of the Bible were the production of a Jewish scribe or editor. It is the belief of the Nazarene Saints these are "god-breathed scripture" and the miracle lies in the fact there are so few discrepancies and that it was preserved throughout three thousand years to our own day.-- Hemet, California &

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On the Subject of "Shunning" ---

A reader has submitted a few thoughts on the subject of "shunning" or excommunication which we wish to include with this Nazarene Newsletter: The Nazarene warned that his disciples would face excommunication because of their following his footsteps: ‘They will put you out of their gatherings.’ (John 16:2 NR) Others render the Greek apo-synagogous as "synagogue" where elsewhere it is rendered "gathering" or "meeting." (2 Thesalonians 2:1; James2:2) The Greek preposition apo means "from" and infers "out of." So, various renderings are: TCNT: expel you; MON: excommunication; NWT footnote: "unchurch."

The Jews practiced excommunication in several phases. Did the Christians disfellowship or "shun"? In what manner? Paul uses a phrase which can mean "not mixing selves up with" (synanamignysthai) three times. This long word is rendered variously: NWT: quit mixing in company with; WMS: stop associating with. In 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 Paul uses this word twice to discourage association with "a brother" who is a fornicator, greedy, an idol-worshipper, a slanderer, a drunkard or extortioner. Paul amplifies his meaning of "quit mixing with" to include "not eating with" such a habitual sinner.

Paul tells the congregation ‘you are judges within the fellowship.’ (1 Corinthians 5:11 NEB) Exactly who the "you" is/are is explained in 2 Corinthians 2:6, ‘this rebuke by the majority .... ‘ (NWT; CON) indicating it is not necessarily a rebuke or sentence by all.

Paul’s third and final use of the above Greek word is found in 2 Thessalonians 3:14 where another category for non or limited association is outlined: ‘some walking disorderly not working at all.’ Men who take advantage of the congregation by their spiritual position and refuse to physically work to earn their food are to be avoided. However, Paul limits this "quit mixing in company with" when he adds: ‘Do not consider him as an enemy but continue admonishing him as a brother.’ (NWT) How was even an "enemy" to be treated according to the teachings of Jesus? The Nazarene has some interesting commandments which could be linked with this: ‘Love and do good to your enemies lending without expecting repayment.’ (Luke 6:35)

While Christians need to guard their personal integrity from bad company both Jesus and Paul demonstrate how to treat them with the view to their recovery. (1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Timothy 2:20, 21) -- Twenty-nine Palms, California &

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