Volume 2 -- March 1999 (45 pages)
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Nazarene Saints Publishing is a Bible research group for a better Scriptural understanding. We are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid Friends of the Nazarene to "follow the Lamb no matter where the Lamb goes." (John 15:14; Revelation 14:4) The Friends of the Nazarene are a spiritual community of Messianic Christians. We are apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that "God is One" and not three. The Bible is our credo. We view this "God-breathed" book as inspired alone, while the thoughts of men about it are not. We wish to respect the views of our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15) The Friends of the Nazarene web page is www.nazarene-friends.org .]
IN THIS ISSUE ---
1. The Biblical Woman -- Part Five (Women in the Early Church)
3. The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
4. Faith Perspectives:
a. True Service and True Religion
b. The Divine Name and Your Translation
5. The Prophetic Horizon: What Can We Expect of the Future?
6. Thoughts on Proverbs
7. Qualifications of Elders Wives and the Deaconess
8. The Family Corner: Quantity or Quality Time With the Family
The Biblical Woman
WOMEN IN THE EARLY CHURCH
As we approach the year 2,000 it is clear women have taken on major roles in religion. There are women clergy in Protestant churches, with frequent appearances of evangelical female preacherson the electronic pulpit. Some women have taken up the roles of spiritual advisers and teachers on the Internet. As sensitive as this subject of female teachers in the Christian Church is, there is one man blamed for negative views on this subject of women teachers: the Apostle Paul. What does the widowed missionary teach on the place of women within the Christian congregation? Is it just one mans opinion or much more?
A Brief Overview of Women in the Apostolic Writings
The word group "woman" (women, female, wife, etc.) occurs 126 times. It has been observed before that in all the inspired writings of the Lords disciples it is First Corinthians which discusses women the most, with about four dozen occurrences. So, we expect in this epistle to the urban congregation to tell us the most about the place of women in the first century church.
In the historical records of the Acts of the Apostles by the physician Luke, women appear about two dozen times. There are some particular "acts" which involve women that attract our notice.
WOMEN DURING PENTECOST
Of course, women are also seen waiting in Jerusalem until the foretold outpouring of the Holy Pneuma as Jesus promised. The apostles are seen engaged in prayers with women, "With one accord all these were persisting in prayer, together with some women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers." (Acts 1:14) Little is told us about what appears to be an informal gathering where prayers were the highlight. We are not told whether any of these women prayed audibly or merely followed the lead of the apostles.
Were these same godly women present at the replacement of Judas and the later outpouring of holy Pneuma? Many feel they were. In the account at Acts 1:15-26, which really represents the first "organizational" or official gathering of the apostles and others the main item on the agenda was the replacement of an episkopen (later a "bishop"). Acts 1:15 states it was the "brothers" who were gathered, totaling about 120. Acts 1:15, 16 records the meeting: "Now during these days Peter rose up in the midst of the brothers and said (the crowd of persons was all together about one hundred and twenty): Men, brothers ... ". Peter addresses an assembly group of "brothers." The phrase "crowd of persons (names)" is in the masculine gender. Peter opens his address with the Greek ANDRES ADELPHOI, "men, brothers." There is no hint that women are present at this official organizational meeting. It is very possibly the 120 were the total of the men during all the time during the Lords ministry and were composed in part by the "seventy." That would include with the apostles at least 81 males. Nothing indicates any woman, no matter how close to the Christ, nor whether a witness of the Nazarenes resurrection, is given a moments consideration.
Who were present at the Pentecostal outpouring of holy Pneuma? Acts 2:1 has a conjunctive break and it may indicate the move to a new time period or place. It is good to remember that when Jesus foretold the arrival of the Comforter or Helper it should be remembered that the Nazarene spoke these words to his apostles in private meeting. No where does Jesus ever indicate a general outpouring of spirit on his congregation as a whole.
We feel the contextual evidence in Acts chapter two points to only the twelve apostles being present at this particular manifestation of the holy Pneuma. The account describes the episode and then notes the multitude of Jewish "men" present in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven. (Acts 2:1-5) These godly Jews heard in their own languages "the magnificent things of God." We note their first response: "Indeed, they were astonished and began to wonder and say: "See here, all these who are speaking are Gal·i·le'ans, are they not?"(Acts 2:7) The question is phrased in the masculine gender and it is acknowledged that those speaking are "all Galileans." This description fits the apostles, for all were Galileans save for the now dead Judas.
Acts 2:14 further points to only the apostles being present when it states, "Peter stood up with the eleven ... " Additionally, after Peter gives his stirring spirit-inspired Pentecostal speech the spell-bound men asked what they were to do. The phrase of those men begins, "Males, brothers ... " (Acts 2:37; compare Acts 15:7, 13) This address also points to the truth that only the twelve apostles were present at this Pentecostal outpouring.
This does not mean women were overlooked. For even in his sermon, Peter, using Joel 2:28-30, proves that the holy Pneuma would be poured out on "all flesh" (something to occur later) with the future result that young women would "prophesy." (Acts 2:16-18) The first indication women were being added to the truly formed congregation of Christ is recorded in Acts 5:14. [NOTE: women are to be mentioned over a dozen times in Acts of the Apostles.] Women now coming to the Lord is again stated in Acts 8:12. Both men and women "belong to the Way." (Acts 9:2)
There are a few women who are named and featured in dramatic moments in the good doctors historical record.
One of the first of these named women is Sapphira who makes the disastrous mistake of lying to Christs apostolic representative. (Acts 5:1-11) The next Christian lady named is Tabitha (Dorcas, meaning "Gazelle") and becomes the only woman named a "disciple" in the Christian Bible. After her death she is praised by her "good deeds and charity." When Peter arrives on the scene the local widows showed the apostle the many garments Dorcas had made for her fellow Christians. (Acts 9:36-42)
The traveling merchant Lydia is next named as a woman, likely a Jewess, meeting with other women for prayer. She is noted for her sincere hospitality where "she just made us come" to her own home as a place to stay. (Acts 16:14, 15)
A Christian woman who has been much noted is Priscilla (Prisca) the wife of a tent-maker. They were Jews who fled Rome. Paul worked with them as a tent-maker. Some make something out of the fact she is always mentioned first in the mention of the couple. (Acts 18:18, 26; Romans 16:3; 2 Timothy 4:19) However, Paul does once put her husband first. (1 Corinthians 16:19) In the account in Acts the couple is seen in dealing with a Jew "mighty in Scripture" who had not been baptized in the name of Jesus and thus having not received the holy Pneuma. The account reports: "Now a certain Jew named A·pol'los, a native of Alexandria, an eloquent man, arrived in Eph'e·sus; and he was well versed in the Scriptures. This man had been orally instructed in the way of the Lord (YHWH) and, as he was aglow with the spirit, he went speaking and teaching with correctness the things about Jesus, but being acquainted with only the baptism of John. And this man started to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Pris·cil'la and Aq'ui·la heard him, they took him into their company and expounded the way of God more correctly to him." (Acts 18:24-26) This is not the case of a Christian woman teaching or correcting a Christian male. It is the case of a couple teaching a Jew who had been baptized in Johns baptism, possibly after Christian baptism became legitimized following Pentecost.
Acts 21:9 describes Philip the missionary as, "This man had four daughters, virgins, that prophesied." These women were certainly part of what Peter had mentioned regarding the prophecy of Joel in Acts chapter two. At this time in the early history of the church the gift of prophecy -- a gift later to be "done away with" (1 Corinthians 13:8) -- did move certain women under the inspiration of God to speak. Whether this speaking in a prophetic mode is limited to groups of women, or to non-Christians, will be discussed later.
Role of the Wife in Marriage
It is appropriate at this time to discuss women in their role as wives within marriage. Both Paul and Peter incorporate this important topic in their letters. The tenor of their counsel echoes what the kings mother told him in Proverbs chapter 31. Let us consider these inspired teachings.
We here combine what Paul wrote regarding wives:
"Be in subjection to one another in fear of Christ. Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord -- 1 Corinthians 11:3, "The head of a woman is the man." -- because a husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation, he being a savior of [this] body. In fact, as the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, so let wives also be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it, that he might sanctify it, cleansing it with the bath of water by means of the word, that he might present the congregation to himself in its splendor, not having a spot or a wrinkle or any of such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish. ... The wife should have deep respect for her husband. ... You wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord. You husbands, keep on loving [your] wives and do not be bitterly angry with them. (Wives) love their husbands, love their children, be sound in mind, chaste, workers at home, good, subjecting themselves to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be spoken of abusively." (Ephesians 5:21-27, 33; Colossians 3:18, 19; Titus 2:4, 5)
There is much here for both husbands and wives. Since our focus in this particular work is on the Biblical woman we will limit our commentary on that counsel directed to Christian women.
It seems clear -- consistent with the Hebrew Bibles thrust (1 Corinthians 14:34) -- that wives are to be in "subjection" to their husbands. This is how God so stated the matter to Eve in Genesis 3:16 (LXX). Paul encourages the Christian ladies to be in subjection: a) in fear of Christ; b) as the church is in subjection to Christ; c) as it is becoming in the Lord; and, d) so the word of God is not blasphemed. These are powerful reasons for a wifes subjection to her husband.
Additionally, Paul uses the Greek word PHOBOS (phobia) often rendered reverence (KJV), or deeply respects (LB). How does a wife display subjection and respect? In the former matter of subjection such would only be necessary if the wife disagreed with some action or decision on the part of her husband. When they perfectly agree there is never a need for "subjection." A wifes subjection then is demonstrated by her obedience to either her husbands lead or his direct command as her head. Her respect is mainly shown by her speech. If she is publicly argumentative or critical. Certainly it seems clear that a woman who speaks disparately of her husband to others, or even gossips to other women about her husband, has lost her respect long ago. Of course, it is best if this respect is won and deserved. However, this idea is not present in Pauls inspired remarks. By virtue of her marriage to a man the Biblical woman agrees with the divine role placed upon her husband as head, leader and director of the family. This requires that she submit to her husbands decisions which she does not agree with them. It also requires that she control her speech so that she truly demonstrates she respects her husband, if not because of who he is, then surely because of Gods own appointment.
The apostle Peter gives similar advice to women at 1 Peter 3:1-6:
"In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect. And do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and of the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God. For so, too, formerly the holy women who were hoping in God used to adorn themselves, subjecting themselves to their own husbands, as Sarah used to obey Abraham, calling him lord. And you have become her children, provided you keep on doing good and not fearing any cause for terror."
Peter encourages "subjection" even when a husband is "not obedient to the word." It is the wifes chastity and respect which will win her husband. Peter teaches that what ought to characterize the Biblical woman is "the quiet and mild spirit." Other versions use words for this phrase like, gentle (amiable, courteous, tame), meek (humble, calm, submissive), peaceful (gracious, dignified, mellow), and, modest (humble, unpretentious, unassuming). Such a woman is not heartless, cruel, assertive, arrogant, noisy, violent, or excessive -- the opposite of those qualities Peter lists.
As a new Christian woman grows in the development and perfecting of her character and attitude she will resemble more and more Sarah and less and less Jezebel. An older Christian lady married for many years will, indeed, reflect those attributes both Paul and Peter highlight.
There are ungodly, unchristian and evil men. Peter argues that a quiet and mild woman
demonstrating deep respect and virtue may win over her husband without giving any sermon
to him at all. Despite these godly efforts on the part of the woman there will be those
men so vile that nothing -- not even God -- can change their virulent disposition and
unclean character. No woman is bidden to disobey God in her subjection to her husband. Nor
should she violate her virtue because of a disgusting husband. God is very aware of what
goes on in a marriage. He was the main witness to their original union. Indeed, the Hebrew
Bible ends with this warning:
"On this account, that Jehovah himself has borne witness between you and the wife
of your youth, with whom you yourself have dealt treacherously, although she is your
partner and the wife of your covenant. And there was one who did not do [it], as he had
what was remaining of [the] spirit. And what was that one seeking? The seed of God. And
you men must guard yourselves respecting your spirit, and with the wife of your youth may
no one deal treacherously. For he has hated a divorcing, Jehovah the God of Israel
has said; and the one who with violence has covered over his garment,"
Jehovah of armies has said. And you must guard yourselves respecting your spirit,
and you must not deal treacherously (with your wives)."
"On this account, that Jehovah himself has borne witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you yourself have dealt treacherously, although she is your partner and the wife of your covenant. And there was one who did not do [it], as he had what was remaining of [the] spirit. And what was that one seeking? The seed of God. And you men must guard yourselves respecting your spirit, and with the wife of your youth may no one deal treacherously. For he has hated a divorcing, Jehovah the God of Israel has said; and the one who with violence has covered over his garment," Jehovah of armies has said. And you must guard yourselves respecting your spirit, and you must not deal treacherously (with your wives)."
Thus the godly Biblical woman can be assured that her husband will receive his judgment before the throne of God. Meanwhile, her "quiet and mild spirit" is highly valued by God who is not ignorant of what occurs in the marriage and family.
Having considered what Paul and Peter taught on the womans role in marriage, we
now move on to her role within the Christian congregation.
"What is to be done?" -- In the Congregation
Twice Paul asks the Corinthian congregation, "What is to be done?" (1 Corinthians 14:15, 26) These questions fall in the context of Christian meetings as well as the womans place in such. To answer this question first, we turn to Pauls conclusion. How are we to view the following? He concludes his congregational instructions with the words: "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or a spiritual man, let him fully know the things I am writing to you, because they are the Lord's commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this he is not to be recognized."(1 Corinthians 14:37-38) Can we view them simply as the opinion of a man? Those who choose not to recognize or acknowledge this position within the Lords commandment, Paul says, "let him refuse it at his peril." (Confraternity version)
By way of introduction to the words of Paul there were four thousand years of Gods dealing with humankind, both men and women. (See parts 1-4 of The Biblical Woman) We have covered this in the previous sections.
In the Hebrew Scriptureswomen do not occupy the offices of priest, under-priests, judges, elders, teachers, or prophets with but very rare exceptions. Eight times "prophetess" is mentioned and include Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Isaiahs wife, Anna, and Jezebel. (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22; Nehemiah 6:14; Isaiah 8:3; Luke 2:26; Revelation 2:20) So in 1,500 years of Biblical history only six women are mentioned as "prophetesses." The word group "prophetess" occurs 8 times whereas the male "prophet" appears 569 times.
How do the Scriptures refer to women? When the "capable wife (woman)" is praised in Proverbs chapter 31 she is not described as a teacher or leader in Jewish worship. In Pauls list of the faithful of old he notes only two women by name, Saraha Hebrew and Rahab a non-Israelite. Though Jesus the Nazarene is famous for his liberation of women in the matter of divorce, he does not select any females as part of the Apostles or the Seventy. Though he violates some Jewish social rules in talking to women, no woman is called a "disciple" during the ministry of the Messiah. Paul is also well aware of the tradition within the synagogue arrangement: women remained separated from men and only men speaking in the synagogue. With this background in mind we examine those verses in Pauls letters where he discusses women in the context of congregational (GRK: ecclesia) matters: First Corinthians and First Timothy.
There are fourteen (14) inspired affirmations Paul makes in the verses dealing with women in the congregation. These are numbered in brackets [ ] within the verses and listed following the texts.
Headship and Women in the Ecclesia
1 Corinthians 11:5-16---
a) A woman may pray or prophesy as directed by a gift of the Pneuma.
" Every woman that prays or prophesies (under the Pneumas influence) with her head uncovered shames her head, for it is one and the same as if she were a woman with a shaved head." (1 Corinthians 11:3)
Paul does not state whether this is outside the congregation or within. We note earlier Paul had said a particular type of "prophecy" was to be done away with. (1 Corinthians 13:8, 9) Peter quotes from Joel (Acts 2:17) agreeing that men and women may "prophesy," that is speak forth Gods righteousness. It is to be noted only men have visions and dreams according to Peters quotation. Acts 21:9 describes four virgin "daughters who prophesied" without indicating the environment of such speaking. Even though the Pneuma may have fallen on some women to allow them to prophesy, Paul teaches this kind of female "prophet" will be done away with and so this gift is no longer in operation today.
b) Even when she prays the Christian woman must have her head covered.
Paul gives his reasons:
"For if a woman does not cover herself, let her also be shorn; but if it is
"For if a woman does not cover herself, let her also be shorn; but if it is disgraceful
[The words sign and her are not present in the Greek text. Read literally, this verse can, therefore, be understood differently. According to The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament In Greek and English, by Alfred Marshall, 1 Corinthians 11:10 reads, "Therefore ought the woman authority to have on the head because of the angels." Head in this case, possibly can refer to her head or the man which is her head. (However, read NEB, PME, and TAY]
Pauls reasons include: a) Male (aner) is Gods image and glory; b) Woman is "out of" man (andros) as Eve is take from Adam; c) Woman (Eve) was created for the males (aner) (Adam) sake.
Paul mentions the congregational "custom":
"Judge for your own selves: Is it fitting for a woman to pray uncovered to God?
Does not nature itself teach you that if a male has long hair, it is a dishonor to him;
but if a woman
"Judge for your own selves: Is it fitting for a woman to pray uncovered to God? Does not nature itself teach you that if a male has long hair, it is a dishonor to him; but if a woman
There is no other custom among the "congregations" -- he is not discussing an isolated situation but something common among all the congregations. Paul seems to expect "dispute" on this matter but he simply states no "other custom" is to be accepted for there is only one among "the congregations of God."
[NOTE: RE: BEYTh HaK:nESETh or Synagogue (("The Place of Women in the 1st-Century
Synagogues," by S M Safrai in "The Jerusalem Perspective.") ---
"According to the Halachah to have a congregation (or, EDAH), ...a minimum of 10
persons... Before 500 CE, women could be counted as part of the 10 ...public or
congregational prayer could not be conducted without this number... It is NOT true that
there was a set time for Synagogue services ..or that public worship is a religious
obligation... One could pray anywhere and at any time of the day.. (Women's Section) ...
In the 1st Century there was no special women's section or divider... It should be
emphasized that there was also no separation of men and women in the temple.. In the Court
of the Women men and women mingled.. Women normally did not go beyond that court... (An
Inequality) Women were not allowed to read the Scriptures publicly."]
Who Speaks in the Congregation?
1 CORINTHIANS 14:1-40
Paul continues in these verses:
"Pursue love, yet keep zealously seeking the spiritual gifts, but preferably that
you may prophesy.
"Pursue love, yet keep zealously seeking the spiritual gifts, but preferably that you may prophesy.
Paul then asks his first of the two questions:
" What is to be done, then? I will pray with the [gift of the] spirit, but I will also pray with [my] mind. I will sing praise with the [gift of the] spirit, but I will also sing praise with [my] mind. Otherwise, if you offer praise with a [gift of the] spirit, how will the man (male) occupying the seat of the ordinary person (he) say Amen to your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? True, you give thanks in a fine way, but the other man is not being built up. I thank God, I speak in more tongues than all of you do. Nevertheless, in a congregation I would rather speak five words with my mind, that I might also instruct others orally, than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers, do not become young children (GRK: LITTLE BOYS) in powers of understanding, but be babes as to badness; yet become full-grown in powers of understanding. In the Law it is written: "With the tongues of foreigners and with the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and yet not even then will they give heed to me," says Jehovah. Consequently tongues are for a sign, not to the believers, but to the unbelievers, whereas prophesying is, not for the unbelievers, but for the believers. Therefore, if the whole congregation comes together to one place and they all speak in tongues, but ordinary people or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are mad? But if you are all prophesying and any unbeliever or ordinary person (MAN) comes in, he is reproved by them all, he is closely examined by all; the secrets of his heart become manifest, so that he will fall upon [his] face and worship God, declaring: God is really among you." (1 Corinthians 14:15-25)
Paul asks his question the second time:
"26 What is to be done, then, brothers? When you come together, one (he, a male) has a psalm, another (MALE) has a teaching, another (MALE) has a revelation, another (MALE) has a tongue, another (MALE) has an interpretation. Let all things take place for upbuilding. And if someone speaks in a tongue, let it be limited to two or three at the most, and in turns; and let someone (him) translate. But if there be no translator, let him keep silent (GRK: SIGATO) in the congregation and speak to himself and to God. Further, let two or three prophets speak, and let the others discern the meaning. But if there is a revelation to another one while sitting there, let the first one (HIM) keep silent. (SIGATO) For you can all prophesy (A GIFT TO BE DONE AWAY WITH) one by one, that all may learn and all be encouraged. And [gifts of] the spirit of the prophets are to be controlled by the prophets. For God is [a God], not of disorder, but of peace." (1 Corinthians 14:26-33)
Paul again refers -- as he did earlier -- to a matter observed in "all the
congregations of God":
"As in all the congregations of the Saints, let the women  keep
silent (GRK: SIGATOSAN) in the congregations, for it is  not permitted for them
to speak, but let them be  in subjection, even as the Law says. If, then, they
want to learn something, let them  question their own husbands at home, for it
is  disgraceful (GRK: AISCHRON -- as 11.6) for a woman to speak in a
"As in all the congregations of the Saints, let the women  keep silent (GRK: SIGATOSAN) in the congregations, for it is  not permitted for them to speak, but let them be  in subjection, even as the Law says. If, then, they want to learn something, let them  question their own husbands at home, for it is  disgraceful (GRK: AISCHRON -- as 11.6) for a woman to speak in a congregation."
Paul may be summarized here: a) if the above is so then the former ones prophesying are men and not women; b) this is a rule in all the congregations; c) women are not to ask a question in the congregation.
"If anyone thinks he is a prophet or gifted with the spirit, (spiritual man) let him acknowledge the things I am writing to you, because they are the Lord's commandment. But if anyone is ignorant, he continues ignorant." (1 Corinthians 14:37, 38)
Thus, these are not just opinions but "the Lords commandment."
"Consequently, my brothers, keep zealously seeking the prophesying, and yet do not forbid the speaking in tongues. But let all things take place decently and by arrangement." (1 Corinthians 14:39, 40)
Now, we continue with Pauls exhortation to Timothy.
How to Conduct Oneself in the "Household of God"
Paul discusses women more often in this letter to Timothy than any other, save First Corinthians. His reason involves the purpose of his letter to the young elder Timothy: "That you may know how to conduct yourself in Gods Household." (1 Timothy 3:15) This conduct will involve women, including widows.Paul is to mention women and widows 21 times. His first two references to women involve dress and congregational conduct. (1 Timothy 2:9-15) A women should dress modestly and with good sense, avoiding elaborate hair styles, gold, pearls and expensive clothing.
Paul states his authority regarding women within "the Household of God" and the limitations to their roles in the congregation:
"Let a woman learn in silence with full submissiveness. I do not  permit a woman to teach, or  to exercise authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. Also, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was thoroughly deceived and came to be in transgression." ((1 Timothy 2:11-15)
The phrase "exercise authority over a man" is variously rendered: ALF: to rule over; ASV: to have dominion; BER: neither to domineer; MOF: dictate to men; LB: lord it over; PME: position of authority. Paul concludes his statements with, "that statement is faithful." (1 Timothy 3:1) Is Paul only giving his opinion which has strong limitations to it? (2 Peter 3:16) Why allude to the Book of Genesis for authority regarding, a) the seniority of the male; b) the females deception? Are these words in harmony with those in First Corinthians where they were the "commandment of the Lord"?
Paul continues to discuss the office of Overseer. (GRK: episkopes = KJ: bishop; GDSP: superintendent; MON: minister; WMS: pastor; NJB: presiding elder) He does not include women in this leadership role. When he considers "deacons" he may include women in verse 11 though some feel these are the wives of elders and deacons. Paul teaches Timothy how to treat women: the older as mothers and the younger as his own sisters "with all chasteness." (1 Timothy 5:2) When Paul discusses widows, older and younger, he no where includes teaching or leadership roles within the congregation. He says to honor those who are characterized by: devotions at home, care of parents and grandparents, prayers, a good testimony, hospitable, washed the feet of saints, and relieved the afflicted. These matters are right at the heart of the Nazarenes teachings. On the other hand women are to avoid gossip and slander, being unoccupied and busybodies.
What does Paul omit when discussing women in chapter 1 Timothy 5:9-16? He does not mention preaching or teaching or leadership roles. The apostle has full opportunity to add to the list works of preaching or teaching or leadership within the congregation.After considering all the above verses dealing with women in the Christian congregation a list may be compiled of those affirmations by Paul.
A LIST OF AFFIRMATIONS:
01) A woman praying without a head-covering shames her head
02) Woman is to glorify man
03) The source or origin of woman is man
04) Woman is created for the sake of man
05) Woman must have a sign of authority
06) Long hair glorifies a woman
07) There is only one custom
08) Women keep silent in congregation
09) Women not permitted to speak
10) Woman to be in subjection
11) Woman not to ask questions in congregation
12) It is a disgrace for a woman to speak in a congregation
13) Woman are not permitted to teach Christian males
14) Woman are not permitted to exercise authority over a man
CONCLUSION. Christian women are to remain silent in congregational meetings. Christian women are not permitted to teach within the congregation. Christian women are not to exercise authority over Christian males. Paul states this is "the Lords commandment" and those who do not fully acknowledge this are putting themselves in peril.
There is much for women to do under the blessing of God the Father and in obedience to their Lord, Jesus Christ the Nazarene. The Father considers these important and women who submit to their Creator will be blessed with all that salvation entails along with men. Those men or women who do not understand this Biblical position must either search the Scriptures with an open mind or wait until that future moment when God will reveal the correct attitude. (Philippians 3:15)
We expect that some women, and some men, will strongly disagree with the above given the"political correctness" of the Nineties, particularly those "fond of disputing" (philo-neikos). (1 Corinthians 11:16 KIT) We affirm that there are those matters of a doctrinal nature with which Christians disagree as well as matters such as the above. Paul seems to expect this reaction or "dispute" (1 Corinthians 11:16) from some for he adds to his remarks: "However, though woman cannot do without man, neither can man do without woman, in the Lord; woman may come from man, but man is born of woman---both come from God." (1 Corinthians 11:11, 12 NJB)
Pauls own argument rests upon what he calls "custom" (1 Corinthians 11:16) as well as the "Lords commandment." (1 Corinthians 14:37) Both men and women accept their God-given places in the Divine arrangement and refrain from reacting as Paul describes: "But what right have you, a human being, to cross-examine God?" (Romans 9:20, 21 NJB)
Some contemporary interpreters who seem to strain for the political correctness of the 90s -- and appear terrified of female reaction to a straightforward interpretation of Paul -- have suggested the following. The critical verses in First Corinthians are explained to be a quotation by Paul of the Corinthian claim so that the account ought to read: (1 Corinthians 14:33-35, 37, 38) --- "BUT YOU CORINTHIANS ERRONEOUSLY INSIST: As in all the ecclesias let the women keep silent for it is not permitted for them to speak. Let them subject themselves as the Law also says. But, if any (woman) wants to learn something, let them question their own husbands at home. For it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in an ecclesia." Paul could have written it that way if he intended to consider a question or assertion on the part of the Corinthians.
Thus, these interpreters of Paul, insist he is really attacking the mistaken notion of the Corinthians that a woman should be in subjection and remain silent in the congregational meetings. This approach has numerous adherents. But, is it reasonable and consistent with Pauls teachings? We remember that if we did not have Pauls words to the Corinthians we have something similar in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Peter 3:1-6.
It is true in Pauls letter to the Corinthians he often refers to their questions or statements. For example, consider the following: 1 Corinthians 1:11, 12; 1 Corinthians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 9:3; 1 Corinthians 10:28; 1 Corinthians 11:18; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Corinthians 15:35; 1 Corinthians 16:1; 1 Corinthians 16:12.
Thus, there are a dozen examples of those case where Paul does address a question or subject posed by the Corinthians. However, we note these are always made very clear. We do not see this kind of wording in the context of headship, women, and their roles within the congregation and family.
Others suggest Paul is only giving his opinion when he comments on women. However, note how Paul always makes it clear where he is presenting his own uninspired view: 1 Corinthians 7:12, "But to the others I say, yes, I, not the Lord."
1 Corinthians 7:25, "Now concerning virgins I have no command from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who had mercy shown him by the Lord to be faithful."
1 Corinthians 7:40, "But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my opinion. I certainly think I also have God's spirit." 2 Corinthians 8:10, "And in this I render an opinion."
On the other hand when Paul is revealing to the Corinthians what he has received from the Lord he also states that: "For I received from the Lord that which I also handed on to you." (1 Corinthians 11:23) This he has also done in 1 Corinthians 14:37 right in the context of women within the congregation. He declares what he has written as "the Lords commandment" and warns any who would insist on another view.
Elsewhere Paul lists characteristics of a mature Christian woman: "Thus, older women --- be reverent in bearing, not slanderers, not enslaved by a lot of wine, teachers of what is good so they may help the young women to have healthy thoughts: to be fond of males, fond of children, healthy in their thinking, chaste, home-workers, good, subjecting themselves to their own husbands so the Word of The God is not blasphemed." (Titus 2:3-5)
Here Paul says that such an elderly woman, perhaps over 60 years of age, ought to be a "teacher." What is the realm of this woman as a teacher? He seems to make clear this is teaching of younger women, not within congregational meetings. This would naturally follow what women do and have done throughout cultural history: they teach younger women within the community. Thus, these Christian ladies have a wide and strong influence on the character of the Nazarene community.
What is the Major Role of Women in the Church
The Nazarene emphasized the subject of love -- mainly in a material, charitable way -- and the natural role of the wife and mother in the family puts her right in the middle of that loving role. The Biblical womans role within the Nazarene community and Christian congregation is similar to that of those female followers of the Lord who "ministered to him from their belongings." (Luke 8:3) It was just such charity and giving that characterized the only woman designated a "disciple" -- Dorcas, or Tabitha. (Acts 9:36, 39)
Paul mentions one woman in particular who was something like a "deaconess" within the congregation. Romans 16:1-2records: "I recommend to you Phoe'be our sister, who is a minister [DIAKONON] of the congregation that is in Cen'chre·ae, that you may welcome her in [the] Lord in a way worthy of the Saints, and that you may assist her in any matter where she may need you, for she herself also proved to be a defender of many, yes, of me myself." In what way was Phoebe a "minister"?
The Jerusalem Bible describes Phoebe as a "deaconess," while the New English says, "She holds office in the congregation at Cenchrea." The Christian woman was a "servant" -- a diakonos -- one with dusty feet from doing errands in service on behalf of others. When it comes to men who are diakonos ("deacon" is an old English corruption of this word) they serve, not in teaching or governing positions, but as servants to the material needs of the congregation. Consider Acts 6:1-7 and the first Christian appointments of "deacons."
Some suggest Romans 16:1, 2 and the Greek word PRO-STASIS may infer a leadership role in the congregation. They reference Lidell & Scott: "one who is a leader, or ruler ; a front-rank person; one who exercises authority." However, consider, "The word PRO-STATIS (before + stand) is unique to this single verse. The masculine version PRO-STATES took on a technical sense." (BAG, page 726) However, this work defines the word as "protectress, patroness, helper ... she has been of great assistance to many, including myself." Thayers adds: "caring for the affairs of others and aiding them with her resources." (page 549)
The word is variously translated: NWT: defender; KJV: succourer; ASV: helper; GSPD: protector; TCNT: staunch friend; NRSV: benefactor/helper; NJB: come to the help of; WMS: befriended many; BW: assistant of many; PME: of great assistance to. Thus Phoebe was much like those "many women who ministered [DIEKONOUN] to (Jesus and the apostles) from their belongings." (Luke 8.3) Irrespective of the unique meaning of PRO-STATIS Paul could not contradict himself elsewhere.
"THE HEAD OF A WOMAN IS THE MALE"
Some have argued for a meaning of the word "head" regarding the male or husbands position to completely neutralize the traditional role of the man in the family.
The Greek for "head" is kephale and is used 20 times by Paul to refer to the human "head" as well as figuratively for a husbands leadership role regarding his wife. Regarding Christ as head (kephale) Paul indicates this involves his authority and rule as well as the submissiveness and subjection of those within his realm:
Then again in Ephesians 5:22-27 Paul uses kephale twice, once with regard to Christ and then with regard to husbands: "Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation, he being a savior of [this] body. In fact, as the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, so let wives also be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it, that he might sanctify it, cleansing it with the bath of water by means of the word, that he might present the congregation to himself in its splendor, not having a spot or a wrinkle or any of such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish."
Regarding the meaning of kephale note the comments from The Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Volume 2, pages 156-158: "In secular Greek kephale means: ... 2. What is decisive, superior. ... Thus kephale in the LXX can denote also the head i.e. the one who occupies a position of superiority in the community. ... [First century Jewish philosopher] Philos use of kephale was seminal. The logos is the head of the universe which God created, its source of life, overlord, ruler."
While the woman is to be fully submissive to her husband, the "head" is to imitate Christs love in his marriage. This love was demonstrated by Christ in two ways: a) he sacrificed his physical life for his Woman; b) he is the one who "cleanses" her "by means of the word." The former is something of the physical relationship and the later the spiritual.
Of course, this is all well and good when the husband is Christ, or a perfect man. Godly women of all ages have been sometimes married to a man for whom it was difficult to be in subjection. (Compare Abigail at 1 Samuel 25:3-38) Surely, Paul was aware that your average husband is less than perfect. Nonetheless, his wife was "to be in subjection in everything." Surely no woman can display this "subjection" by gossiping about her husband and publicly showing disrespect for Gods own appointment. The wife is to be in subject "as to the Lord." What can one get from this other than how a woman should view her husband as the appointment of the Lord.
Paul says something similar to this when he uses kephale three times in 1 Corinthians 11:3, "The head of every male is the Christ, but the male is the head of a woman, and the Head of Christ is The God." Paul continues to list three Biblical reasons for this relationship between man and woman at 1 Corinthians 11:7-9:
1) The male exists in Gods image and glory; but the woman is the glory of the male.
2) The male is not out of the woman; but the woman is out of the male.
3) The male was not created for the sake of the woman; but the woman was created for the sake of the male.
This role as "head" in the marriage is one of "lord" (English = bread-winner and thus master). Peter when arguing women should demonstrate "deep respect" [Greek = phobia] for their husbands points to Sarah who considered Abraham "lord." (1 Peter 3:6) Another example of this recognition that the husband is "lord" and to be obeyed is seen in the wedding psalm: "For (your husband) is thy Lord [NJB: he is your master now]; and worship thou him." (Psalm 45:11 KJV) Other translation render this: ASV: reverence thou him; RS: bow to him; ABPS: do him homage; HAR: submit to him.
This secondary position of the woman in the marriage relationship reaches a terrible judgment in the case of Eve. The Jewish Bible of the third century BC when translating the Hebrew into Greek rendered Genesis 3:17, "And thy submission shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee." It may be to this "submission" Paul refers when he writes: "But let them be in subjection even as the Law says." (1 Corinthians 14:34)
In all the Christian Bible the single word which describes that characteristic of the husband is agape. A wife is never told to "love" her husband. Rather, she is told to "respect" him. So, LOVE is the husbands characterizing word, while RESPECT the wifes characterizing word. This "respect" is something commanded of the woman, not necessarily earned by the husband. However, if the husband should be respected he ought to prove respectable. Nor, does the woman have to earn the husbands love -- he is commanded to love her despite any "spot or wrinkle" which it is his duty by bathing her spiritually with the word, bring her before God as holy and unblemished. No where is a woman so instructed to, as it were, cleanse her husband. However, if this woman would be loved she must show herself lovable.
The husbands love is shown, according to Paul, by "feeding and cherishing" his wife as his own body. How will the womans respect be shown? The major way this is manifest is by the use of the tongue. If she belittles and berates her husband, she behaves as if she were the "lord" in the marriage. If she speaks slightenly about him to others, she proves she has no respect for him. If she contradicts or criticizes him in public, she again demonstrates she does not view him "as the Lord." Actually no friend does these things to another friend loved and respected.
Note, among other things, what caused David to fall in love with Abigail. Read the account in 1 Samuel chapter 25. Consider her manner and attitude. Note how often she calls David "lord" and uses the word "please." It is no wonder he was attracted to this god-fearing and beautiful Biblical woman.
It is interesting to note about the name-change of Abrahams wife. She was first called Sarai which means "contentious." One wonders how she got this name. However, one day when her husband came home, at some point her name was changed to "Princess." Possibly Abraham said to her: "Well, dear Contentious, there is good news and there is bad news. The good new is God has talked to me. The bad news is we have to leave our beautiful home in the Ur of the Chaldees, travel 1,500 miles to live the rest of our lives in tents with herds of animals surrounding us." One wonders how Contentious responded? How ever it was, her attitude must have had a bearing on her new name, Princess. She was clearly lovable and there is no question Abraham was respectable. What a perfect marriage! No wonder she called her husband "lord." Can modern women learn from this? Peter writes they better. Even as should their husbands. (1 Peter 3:1-7)
"There Is Neither Male nor Female"
There is a text much discussed and debated regarding the equality of men and women within the congregational arrangement. It is Pauls statement of faith in Galatians 3:28, "There is neither male nor female." What does Paul mean by this affirmation? Does he mean that in the order and arrangement in the formal congregation, male and female are equal in authority and role?
Would it be fair to state that it is highly unlikely Paul would contradict himself in three of his other letters? Let us consider the context.
"You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one person in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham's seed, heirs with reference to a promise." (Galatians 3:26-29)
Pauls major point is that all who have been baptized in Christ are one as a congregational body, the Seed of Abraham. In other words, this single corporate body is not a Jewish body, a Greek body, a body of slaves, a body of freeman, a male body, or a female body. It is one body in Christ as the Seed of Abraham.
Paul cannot mean there are no Jews, Greeks, slaves, freeman, males or females. For all of these truly existed within the Christian congregation. A survey of a concordance will establish the truth of this. Therefore, Pauls affirmation is the that Body of Christ, the Church itself, is not identified as Jewish, Greek, slave, freeman, male, or female. In doing so he looks forward to that celestial place of the Church following the resurrection in which there is no such institution as marriage, but rather the glorified Saints are like angels, sexless. (Luke 20:35, 36)
We judge that the Christian Bible agrees with the Hebrew Bible that women, and particularly wives, should be characterized by subjection and deep respect within the family arrangement. Consistent with this the role of the Christian woman in a formal meeting of the ecclesia is one of respectful observer. Her role, approved by God, is the charitable and hospitable care of their families, the Christian fellowship, and others in material need. This places the Biblical woman right at the center of those matters which declare a person righteous and sheeplike. (Matthew 25:31-46)
[The entire booklet of 63 pages, The Biblical Woman, is available on the Friends of the Nazarene web page. Here is the url:
"MEMORIAL" MARCH 30, 7 PM:
WESTERN BELIEVERS CONFERENCE: This assembly of Free Bible Students will be of interest to many JWs, xJWs, Bible Students, xBible Students, Friends of the Nazarene, and Free Bible Students and their friends. For information on the April 2-5 convention in San Bernardino, California email David Karavas .
FRIENDS OF THE NAZARENE: Though individuals and isolated groups meet around the world we are pleased to announce a regular Nazarene Ecclesia or synagogue/gathering in Hemet, California on Sunday at 10 AM. This is a formal congregational meeting featuring a Scriptural reading, a Commentary on the Bible, and a 30-45 minute Public Address by a visiting speaker. This meeting is followed by an open fellowship and Agape Feast. On Wednesday 7 PM at a home of a Friend the weekly Discussion Group will meet for prayer, hymns, personal testimonies, and an open questions and answers consideration of the Bible.
21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES: We are in the process of a new rendering/translation of the Gospel According of Matthew. Matthew chapters 1-12 are complete with 700 footnotes on virtually every key word and phrase. The words of the Nazarene are in red, quotations of the Hebrew Bible in blue, and allusions to the Hebrew Bible in green. This an ongoing effort but any who wish an email attachment of the work in progress is welcome to email us for it.
ELDERS SEMINAR: March 31 there is a seminar on church doctrine and order being held in California. Brothers from various parts of the world associated with the Friends of the Nazarene have been invited to discuss the future of the Christian Church as we approach the year 2,000.
THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
The Parable --
(Luke 16:19) "There was a certain
rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.
The Greek name Lazarus (from the Hebrew Eleazar) means, "God is your help."
Satire can be defined as "biting wit, irony or sarcasm used to expose vice or folly...".1 And good satire never fails to inspire "laughter, contempt, or horror as it seeks to correct the follies and abuses it uncovers". 2 Long before Jonathan Swift penned his famous "A Modest Proposal" or Alexander Pope composed, "The Rape of the Lock," Jesus of Nazareth distinguished himself as Master Satirist by His astonishing account of, "The Rich Man and Lazarus." It is only hoped that this essay will serve to reveal and glorify Him, whose unique ability to use this literary genre, to torment the religious establishment and advance the Kingdom of God, remains unparalled in history.
It is interesting that, whenever Jesus dealt with the religious rulers in Israel, He seemed to purposefully cloak the truth in the mystery of imagery, parable and allegory. When it came to actual condemnation of these same religious authorities however, Jesus was usually far more direct, blunt and sometimes "overtly antagonistic". Even then, that antagonism was occasionally disguised in a satirical parable or allegory that contained a punch or barb (biting wit and irony) designed to alter false perceptions of those same religious authorities. Luke 16, almost in its entirety, incorporates this kind of veiled indignation; where the
targeted religious authorities, (i.e. the Pharisees), were being set up for public ridicule by unexpected revelations of their hidden vices, including covetousness,
self-righteousness and hypocrisy.
This becomes quite evident as we consider the parable of The Dishonest Steward immediately preceding our story of The Rich Man and Lazarus. (Luke 16:1-16) The account begins with the Master discovering that the steward handling all his business affairs has squandered his possessions. With the cat out of the bag, the covetous steward makes one final dishonest attempt to secure his own temporal future, by ingeniously letting his master's debtors off the hook with a rather attractive partial-debt repayment plan. Jesus, no doubt, had most of
the people in his immediate audience in stitches by having the Master, who seems entirely impressed, commend his servant for shrewdly carrying out this absolutely unscrupulous and financially ruinous scheme.
A Parable Explained
"And I say unto you, (Go
ahead) make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when ye fail,
they may receive you into everlasting habitations."
Assuming that God is the Master who is being defrauded, this parable appears to be saying that God will honour servants who swindle him in the pursuit of self interest. Jesus then concludes this "tongue in cheek" presentation with advice that more than merely borders on irony.
Luke 16:9 --
HAVING ESTABLISHED THAT JESUS USED SATIRE AS A TEACHING STRATEGY IN THIS CHAPTER, COULD
THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS BE ANOTHER FORM OF SATIRE DIRECTED AGAINST THE PHARISEES? AND IF
IT IS, WHAT MIGHT BE THE POINT OF THIS FICTIONAL EPISODE?
WELL, HOW ABOUT THEIR TRADITION? LET'S LOOK AT TRADITION: WHAT ELEMENTS OF PHARISAIC
TRADITION ARE INCLUDED IN THIS STORY?
History confirms that Hades (Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Sheol)
was originally understood by the Jews to be, "the ultimate resting place of all
mankind". 3 The Hebrew scriptures relegated the good as well as the wicked to this
location at death. (Genesis 42:38, Psalm16:9-10, Job 14:13). The idea that sheol
was not a place of slumber, but of conscious experience first developed in the
intertestamental period with the influence of Greek culture and philosophy upon Judaism.
The apparent enigma of the righteous experiencing sheol (hades) along with
the wicked was then tentatively resolved, in some but not all rabbinical circles, by
compartmentalising sheol into two distinct regions. As The New International Dictionary
Of New Testament Theology states, "With the infiltration of the Greek doctrine of
immortality of the soul, paradise becomes the dwelling place of the righteous during the
intermediate state." In Jesus' day, the part of hades where the righteous were
detained was commonly referred to by the Pharisees as Abraham's Bosom. This was a place of
rest and banqueting where the souls of the righteous enjoyed "intimate fellowship
with the father of the race (Abraham), who is still alive and blessed in death."
PLACE OF TORMENT:
While the righteous were segregated and awaiting redemption in a part of sheol having
paradisiacal dimensions, Pharisaic tradition consigned the wicked to an area of sheol
where punishments were applied commensurate with one's performance in life. This
traditional belief which similarly developed during the intertestamental period is clearly
documented in the Apocrypha (eg. Judith 16:17) and the Pseudepigrapha (eg. II Enoch
40:12). Jewish literature (i.e. religious folklore) circulating in the first century often
graphically detailed the retributive misery of the dammed in hades. For example,
licentious men were spoken of as hanging by their genitals, women who suckled their young
in public, as hanging by their breasts, and those who talked during synagogue prayers, as
having their mouths filled with hot coals.
A point worthy of note here, is that when Jesus used the terms "Abraham's Bosom", and "Torment" in reference to Hades, he was employing terms and concepts not rooted in scripture, but in rabbinical tradition. He was using terms
fully comprehended by the Pharisees and clearly endorsed by their teachings about the afterlife. And equally important, Abraham's Bosom, and Torment were terms the Pharisees used regularly to justify their total neglect of the poor.
That the view of hell depicted in Luke 16 was an integral part of first century
Pharisaic tradition is nowhere more clearly delineated than in the following excerpt
written by Josephus, (himself a Pharisee) to explain the Jewish concept of Hades to the
Now as to Hades, wherein the souls of the righteous and unrighteous are detained, it is necessary to speak of it. Hades is a place in the world not regularly finished; a subterraneous region...allotted as a place of custody for souls, in which angels are appointed as guardians to them, who distribute to them temporary punishments, agreeable to everyone's behaviour and manners... while the just shall obtain an incorruptible and never-fading kingdom. These are now indeed confined in Hades, but not in the same place wherein the unjust are confined. For there is one decent into this region...the just are guided to the right
hand and are led with hymns, sung by the angels appointed over that place, unto a region of light, in which the just have dwelt from the beginning of the world; not constrained by necessity, but ever enjoying the prospect of good things they see, and rejoice in the expectation of those new enjoyments which will be peculiar to every one of them, and esteeming those things beyond what we have here; with
whom there is no place of toil, no burning heat, no piercing cold, nor any briers there; but the countenance of the Fathers and of the just, which they see always smiles upon them, while they wait for that rest and eternal new life in heaven, which is to succeed this region. This place we call The Bosom of Abraham.
But as to the unjust, they are dragged by force to the left hand by the angels allotted for punishment, no longer going with a good-will, but as prisoners driven by violence... they are struck with a fearful expectation of a future judgment, and in effect punished thereby: and not only so, but where they see the place of the fathers and of the just, even hereby are they punished; for a chaos deep and large is fixed between them; insomuch that a just man that hath compassion upon them cannot be admitted, nor can one that is unjust, if he were bold enough to attempt it, pass over it.
Now assuming that justification for the Pharisee's indifference to the poor was drawn from their tradition and not from the scriptures, Jesus had a choice of doing one of two things to combat their rationale. He could either reason with the Pharisees from scripture to prove their tradition was unsound, or he could enter into their tradition with them, mimic it with mastery and expose its absurdity. Jesus chose the latter course because He knew that reasoning with the Pharisees would prove futile.
HOW DID THE PHARISEES AND OTHER TEACHERS OF THE LAW USE THEIR TRADITIONAL TEACHINGS TO JUSTIFY THE TOTAL ABDICATION OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO THE POOR (I.E. THEIR REFUSAL TO EVEN "LIFT A FINGER" TO ALLEVIATE THEIR BURDENS -- Luke 11:46)? PERHAPS WE CAN GET SOME INSIGHT BY SPENDING A FEW MOMENTS LOOKING AT THE STORY ITSELF:
THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS is a classic "reversal of fortune" story. Before death, the rich man was well off while Lazarus was in physical torments. But after
death, it's Lazarus who is well off and the rich man is experiencing torment. Before death, Lazarus was begging crumbs from the rich man; now the rich man is begging droplets of relief from Lazarus.
THE KEY POINT: A "Reversal of Fortune"
Why were their fortunes reversed? In other words, why did Lazarus end up in Abrahamic
bliss and the rich man in torments?
What reason does the text give for the reversal in their fortunes? Let's examine verse 25, the punch line of this enigmatic parody. You will recall that the rich man had just made a desperate plea for Lazarus to "lift a finger" to help relieve his misery. Jesus has a somewhat dispassionate Abraham respond to this appeal by dispensing some rather outrageous logic that completely ignores the moral dimension of either man's life.
Luke 16:25 -- "But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented."
Abraham paternalistically justifies the rich man's intolerable situation by reminding him of a simple rule of parity. To paraphrase here, Abraham says, "Don't you remember Son; it's those who experience bad things in this life that can expect good things in the next...". Now where in the world did such logic originate? Actually, the logic, originated with the Pharisees themselves. Jesus was merely having Abraham parrot back to the rich man, the Pharisee's own unhelpful counsel to the poor and tormented. Visualise for a moment, a Pharisee giving the following advice to a destitute widow who has just approached him for assistance.
Daughter, remember God punishes to the 3rd and 4th generation; Your present suffering is obviously His judgment. We would really like to help, but, as you know, it is God who has fixed this wide gulf of disparity between us - so that those who would traverse that gulf and ease your torment, even a little, only find themselves contravening His judgment. God is your help my daughter! If we help to alleviate your torment now, you will only experience much worse later. But if you faithfully bear His judgment for your sins and those of your fathers, and endure bad things in this life, you will surely enjoy the comforts of Abraham's Bosom in the hereafter.
JESUS HAD PIQUED THE PHARISEES INTEREST AS HE INTRODUCED THE STORY OF LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN.
He talked about Lazarus' poverty and struggles, and in death, he had him carried off to
Abraham's Bosom. You can imagine the Pharisees nodding their heads in agreement here. But
what the Pharisees were not expecting, was having their own concept of "redemptive
suffering" reversed and extended to its logical conclusion. "Bad now - Good
later", then becomes, "Good now - Bad later". [Savour for one moment, the
poetic justice of having Abraham, the ultimate Patriarch and religious authority,
rationalising the Pharisee's exclusion from the
kingdom of God, by turning their own dispassionate logic back on them.] The twist in the rich man's fate sends the Pharisees reeling, and more so as they hear laughter swelling up from the crowd who were all too familiar with the Pharisee's self-justifying rhetoric.
The Rich Man and Lazarus then is a masterful expose of the Pharisees. Through satire, Jesus effectively strips the Pharisees of any pretence of righteousness and thoroughly discredits their justification for ignoring the poor in Israel. They are now left no cloak for their sins or their hard hearted refusal to repent. Their refusal to repent despite all God's blessings, instructions and possible miracles is the real point of this passage. And true to Abraham's prediction (Luke 16:31), only weeks later, after Jesus actually raised one named Lazarus, the Pharisees simply react with vehement determination to put both Jesus and Lazarus to death. (John11:47, 53)
BY WAY OF SUMMARY:
When we examine Luke 16:19-31 in the light of history, we note a rather suspicious
resemblance between Jesus story of The Rich Man and Lazarus, and the traditional
teachings of the Pharisees. But Jesus was not setting out to confirm Pharisaic beliefs
about the afterlife. True, he told their story; the same story they had told a thousand
times before, but with one important difference; a rather ironic twist you might say, that
sees the Rich Man waking up in torment in hades and being denied the slightest assistance
by application of the same logic whereby he had regularly denied the poor and destitute.
It would not take much imagination to visualise the headlines in the Jerusalem Gazette the
morning after Jesus told His version of their story, humorously conveying how the Lord had
turned the tables on the Pharisees in the afterlife.
CLOSING COMMENT ON THIS PASSAGE:
Satire is serious business. It is most effectively employed when reason is not welcome.
Satire embraces irony, parody, condemnation and even ridicule. Because it is often biting,
it should be used carefully; perhaps as a last resort. Satire entertains the ridiculous as
a possibility - to highlight the incongruities of
immoral or irrational positions. Satire however, is slippery footing for doctrine.
[Contributed: RV & LU]
[This is a forum for the free expression of faith and conviction no matter the view or opinion. You are welcome to submit anything in good taste, respectful, and mannerly.]
True Service and True Religion
It has been computed that in the century previous to the Crucifixion no fewer than 200,000 Jews lost their lives in futile rebellions. Before men could preach Christ, they must know who and what Christ was; and until Jesus had taught his followers the necessity of the Cross, they had to be silent and to learn. It is not our ideas, it is Christ's message, that we must bring to men; and no man can teach others until Jesus Christ has taught him.
We see here the constant demands made upon Jesus. Straight from the glory of the mountain top, he was met by human suffering. Straight from hearing the voice of God, he came to hear--the clamant demand of human need. The most Christ-like person in the world is the man who never finds his fellow-man a nuisance. It is easy to feel Christian in the moment of prayer and meditation; it is easy to feel close to God when the world is shut out. But that is not religion--that is escapism. Real religion is to rise from our knees before God to meet men and the problems of the human situation. Real religion is to draw strength from God in order to give it to others. Real religion involves both meeting God in the secret place and men in the market place. Real religion means taking our own needs to God, not that we may have peace and quiet and undisturbed comfort, but that we may be enabled graciously, effectively and powerfully to meet the needs of others. From William Barclay
The Divine Name and Your Favorite Translation
God has a Name. There is no question this Name occurs upwards of 7,000 times in the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures. It occurs in the Hebrew Bible from Genesis to Malachi as YeHoWaH (YHWH). [For some who think YHWH is missing from Esther will have to look closer.] When the Jewish scholars of the third century BC translated the Hebrew into Greek they left YHWH unchanged as the Greek language cannot precisely accommodate all these consonants.
Though the Jews of the time of Christ did not pronounce YHWH according to Josephus (a Jewish historian of that period) wrote that they instead say Adonay (Lord) or Elohim (God). Despite this the Jews NEVER removed the Divine Name from their sacred Scriptures. Who did remove YHWH from the Bible? The failure falls at the feet of certain Christian scholars who went beyond the Jewish tradition and actually omitted YHWH and substituted KYRIOS or THEOS. This possibly took place during the time of the evolution of the Trinity doctrine.
Thus today most modern versions no longer contain YHWH in their multitude of versions. One is instantly driven to apply certain verses of the prophets to these translators -- like Jeremiah 23:26, 27, "How long will it exist in the heart of the prophets who are prophesying the falsehood and who are prophets of the trickiness of their own heart? They are thinking ofmaking my people forget my name by means of their dreams that they keep relating each one to the other, just as their fathers forgot my name by means of Ba'al [meaning Owner, or Lord]." .
Not only does the Divine Name appear in every book of the Bible, the phrase "your Name" also occurs many hundreds of times in most books. Consider these:
Isaiah 25:1 -- O Jehovah, you are my God. I exalt you, I laud your name, for you have done wonderful things. Isaiah 26:8 -- For your name and for your memorial the desire of the soul has been. Isaiah 26:13 -- By you only shall we make mention of your name. Isaiah 63:16-- O Jehovah, (you) are our Father. Our Repurchaser of long ago is your name.
Malachi 1:6 -- And if I am a grand master, where is the fear of me?' Jehovah of armies has said to you, O priests who are despising
Malachi 1:11 -- "For from the sun's rising even to its settingmy name will be great among the nations, and in every place sacrificial smoke will be made, a presentation will be made to my name, even a clean gift; because my name will be great among the nations," Jehovah of armies has said.
Malachi 3:16 -- And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for thosethinking upon his name.
When God first explained the meaning of His Name to Moses the point could not be missed that this was the Creators eternal name. Consider the Almightys own words from a Jewish version:
Moses said to God, "When I come to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, "What is His name?" what shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses, "
Here even the Jewish editors remove YHWH and substitute LORD in caps. To remove any portion of Gods inspired word is a dangerous matter, as even the Law states: "You (Jews) must not add to the word that I am commanding you, neither must you take away from it, so as to keep the commandments of Jehovah your God that I am commanding you (Jews). ... Every word that I am commanding you is what you should be careful to do. You (Jews) must not add to it nor take away from it." (Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32)
Even the Proverbs warn: "Every saying of God is refined. He is a shield to those taking refuge in him. Add nothing to his words, that he may not reprove you, and that you may not have to be proved a liar." (Proverbs 30:5, 6) The Book of Revelation ends with this warning: "I am bearing witness to everyone that hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone [a Christian] makes an addition to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this scroll; and if anyone takes anything away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life and out of the holy city, things which are written about in this scroll." (Revelation 22:18,19)
The comprehensive work Dictionary of New Testament Theology states: "God is not without a name; he has a personal name (Yahweh). ... Gods name belongs with his revelation." (Volume 2, pages 649, 653)
Is it fair to conclude that adding the word LORD when it was not in the Hebrew original is a very serious matter? Is it fair to conclude that removing the divine Name represented by YHWH is down right dangerous?
It is true that there is some disagreement on the exact form of YHWH however some outstanding scholars agree YEHOWAH (or, in English, Jehovah) is correct. (Compare Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, volume 1, pages 210, 211) Some prefer YAHWEH and even others forms. The failure to use the name of the Father has led to much ambiguity among some Christian groups. For example, many hymns do not use the Name and as a result the identity of Lord Jehovah and Lord Jesus is confused. Many of these hymns were composed by Trinitarians and thus certain Bible phrases or verses that contextually involve Yehowah are wrongly applied to Jesus. Also, most Christians speak of an ambiguous "Lord" often confusing the Father and the Son in their speech.
The Name of God was not less minimized by the Christian Bible. The importance of the Fathers Name is seen in the Lords Prayer,"Hallowed be Thy Name." (Matthew 6:9) During the Nazarenes ministry the Voice of God was only heard three times. One of these had a direct bearing on His Name: "Father, glorify your name." Therefore a voice came out of heaven: "I both glorified [it] and will glorify [it] again." (John 12:28) Sixty years later this same point is mentioned in the Bibles last book: "Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal?" (Revelation 15:4 NWT)
In his closing prayer with his disciples Passover night, Jesus stressed his Fathers "name" four times:"I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world. ... Holy Father, watch over them on account of your own name which you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I used to watch over them on account of your own name which you have given me. ... I have made your name known to them and will make it known, in order that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in union with them." (John 17:6, 11, 12, 26) Can anyone argue that the Fathers "name" is so unimportant that it can be removed from those places where it originally occurred?
It is true the word "name" has a wider meaning including reputation, character, authority, and fame. It is also true that there is little or no evidence that Jesus himself uttered the divine Name in private conversation. It has been suggested he may have used it when quoting those places in the Hebrew Bible where YHWH occurs. (Compare Matthew 4:4 with Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:7 with Deuteronomy 6:16; Matthew 4:10 with Deuteronomy 6:13) Jesus was bound to keep all the Law of Moses. This would have included that warning not to add or remove anything from the Law. This may suggest the Nazarene could possibly have used YHWH in these Hebrew Bible texts above.
Despite this, there is no justification for removing and replacing YHWH with LORD in the Hebrew Bible. What may this mean for some Christians in these days of a profusion of Bible translations? Though it is not forbidden any where not to read a Bible lacking YHWH, would it be preferable, based on the above, to use a Bible which reads YHWH (Yehowah; Yahweh; Jehovah) in the largest part of the Holy Scriptures?
There are a number of excellent versions available which preserve the 7,000 occurrences of YHWH in the Hebrew Bible. Some of these are the New Jerusalem Bible (Yahweh), the American Standard Version (Jehovah), the New World Translation (Jehovah), Rotherhams Emphasized Bible (Yahweh), King James II (Jehovah), Interlinear Bible (Jehovah).
The reason some translations included the Divine Name in its 7,000 occurrences are interesting to read:
American Standard Version (1901): "[They] were brought to the unanimous conviction that a Jewish superstition, which regarded the Divine Name as too sacred to be uttered, ought no longer to dominate in the English or any other version of the Old Testament . . . This Memorial Name, explained in Exodus 3:14, 15, and emphasized as such over and over in the original text of the Old Testament, designates God as the personal God, as the covenant God, the God of revelation, the Deliverer, the Friend of his people . . . This personal name, with its wealth of sacred associations, is now restored to the place in the sacred text to which it has an unquestionable claim."
The German Elberfelder Bibel states: "Jehova. We have retained this name of the Covenant God of Israel because the reader has been accustomed to it for years."
Steven T. Byington, The Bible in Living English: "The spelling and the pronunciation are not highly important. What is highly important is to keep it clear that this is a personal name. There are several texts that cannot be properly understood if we translate this name by a common noun like 'Lord,' or, much worse, by a substantivized adjective."
The reknowned scholar J. B. Rotherham in Studies in the Psalms (1911): "JEHOVAH.-The employment of this English form of the Memorial name (Exodus 3:18) in the present version of the Psalter does not arise from any misgiving as to the more correct pronunciation, as being Yahwéh; but solely from practical evidence personally selected of the desirability of keeping in touch with the public ear and eye in a matter of this kind, in which the principal thing is the easy recognition of the Divine name intended."
All things considered, is it not the course of wisdom to use a Bible which incorporates the Divine Name YHWH. Jesus did. So did Paul and the other inspired writers.
THE PROPHETIC HORIZON:
How We Can Know the Future?
A Desire to Know the Future
Most Christians want to know what the Bible says about the future. Unfortunately some presumptuous false prophets -- who claim to be anointed representatives of Jesus -- go about preaching, "Christ is here!" and, "The Time is at Hand!" (Deuteronomy 18:21-23; Matthew 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; 2 Peter 2:1)They have gone so far as to predict the date of the Messiahs Return (1844, 1874, 1914, 1915, 1926, 1975, 2,000, 2,001, 2,002 etc, etc, etc.). Regarding these dates disciples devoted to "following the Lamb no matter where he goes" have no difficulty. For their Lord spoke regarding these false prophets when he said:"DO NOT FOLLOW THEM!" (Luke 21:8; Matthew 7:15; 1 John 4:1)
No Christian can claim to know the appointed time. There are two reasons for this: a) Jesus himself said he did not know "the day and hour" of his own Return (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44; Mark 13:32-36); and, b) he specifically taught that neither did his disciples know the date nor the "season" or "appointed times." (Acts 1:7) Who is so "presumptuous" to claim to know more than Christ or any of his inspired disciples?
However, can a studious Christian Bible student learn what some future body of believing disciples will experience? Can this be done based on a prophetic understanding of both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures? We have high confidence that this can be the case from an examination of the prophet Daniel and the Book of Revelation. For these not only predicted human history up to our own time, but also future history leading right up to the Return of Christ, the ultimate victory of the Church, and the final end of all human rulerships whether democratic, republican, or communistic. How can we know this for sure?
2,500 Years of Human History Foretold by Daniel
Over 500 years before the birth of Jesus Christ the Jewish prophet Daniel foretold the exact developments of human history. He predicted the rise and fall of four major historical powers and what was to follow these. Without going into precise detail we provide here the general outline of what Daniel foresaw. [NOTE: For details see the online publication NAZARENE APOCALYPSE -- a 400 page commentary on Revelation with 1,000 footnotes.http://www.nazarene-friends.org/pubs/apocalypse/default.htm
Daniel 7:1-7 -- Four World Empires
In these verses Daniel saw four beasts rise out of the sea. Each of these four find parallels in Daniel chapter 2 and predict the march of world powers beginning with Babylon (today Iraq) in the sixth century BC. Babylon is followed by Persia (today Iran) in the fifth century BC. Persia is conquered by Greece (today Greece) in the third century. Finally, the fourth of these "four kingdoms" (Daniel 7:17) Rome overcomes Greece during the first century BC. It is during the life-span of Rome that someone like a "son of man" or "a human being" is to ascend to heaven and receive an entirely different kingdom from the Most High Yehowah.
Daniel 7:7, 24 -- The Fragmentation of Rome
The angel indicates there are only four of these "kingdoms." What is to happen to this fourth kingdom? Ultimately this Roman beast is to be "slain" (Daniel 7:11) while the other three are to continue to exist. By the fifth through eighth centuries AD Rome had fragmented first into East and West and then in, as it were, ten Papal European state-nations, which essentially comprise present day Europe.
Something else of enormous prophetic importance is the rise of another "horn" after the first ten. This is called an eleventh "little horn." This apparently insignificant and small power was foretold to "pluck up" or "fell" three of the original ten European powers. It is the conviction of some that it is highly possible this "small power" (the eleventh horn" is America which began with the insignificant thirteen colonies on the eastern coast of North America in the eighteenth century AD. [NOTE: According to The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament by John R. Kohlenberger III, Daniel 7:8 reads, ". . another little
she came up among them . ." and Daniel 7:24 reads, ". . and another he will arise after them . ." Also note that the NWT, as well as other translations, reads the same as the Interlinear. The word until can give the reader a different understanding than the phrases among them and after them.]
Who would be identified as the three of the ten European powers overcome by the "small power"? It is not hard to identify these in American history. They are Great Britain on the east coast, the French in the south and middle-America, and, Spain in the west. By what some call "manifest destiny" and the political developments America finally occupied North America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and from the Canadian border to the Caribbean and Mexico.
The Prophetic Horizon
If this be the prophetic scenario, what lies on the prophetic horizon? Without being dogmatic that America is the eleventh "small power" of Daniel chapter seven, what can we learn will be the future developments?
It is quite clear that the "small horn" of Daniel is explained to be the same as the wild sea beast of Revelation chapter 13. This is understood because in Daniel 7:21, 25 the "small power" is seen oppressing the Saints for three and a half years just as the wild sea beast wars against the end-time disciples for 42 months in Revelation 13:5-7. That this is the Devils instrument is illustrated in Revelation chapter 12. How is this apocalyptic beast in Revelation chapter 13 identified and what can we rightfully expect on the prophetic horizon.
This may be compared to watching the mast of a ship rising over the horizon. The closer the ship comes the more of it we can see until it is fully visible. Just so there are matters of a Biblical nature regarding the future which will become more sharply defined the closer we get to these momentous events. However, even now we can predict -- based on our present understanding of Revelation chapter 13 -- certain sure details which will indicate that the time grows closer and closer.
This wild sea beast is identified by several important aspects:
1) This wild sea beast controls seven previous world powers as well as the former European Papal States:
Revelation 13:1, 2 -- "And I saw a wild beast ascending out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, and upon its horns ten diadems, but upon its heads blasphemous names. Now the wild beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were as those of a bear, and its mouth was as a lion's mouth. And the dragon gave to [the beast] its power and its throne and great authority."
2) The wild sea beast is killed and revived in some manner:
Revelation 13:3, 12; Revelation 17:8 -- "And I saw one of its heads as though slaughtered to death, but its death-stroke got healed, and all the earth followed the wild beast with admiration. .. It makes the earth and those who dwell in it worship the first wild beast, whose death-stroke got healed. The wild beast that you saw was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss, and it is to go off into destruction. And when they see how the wild beast was, but is not, and yet will be present, those who dwell on the earth will wonder admiringly."
3) The wild sea beast exercises absolute power and because no other government dare go to war with it there is a degree of enforced global peace:
Revelation 13:4 -- "And they worshipped the dragon because it gave the authority to the wild beast, and they worshipped the wild beast with the words: "Who is like the wild beast, and who can do battle with it?"
4) The wild sea beast will enforce global economic control:
Revelation 13:16, 17 -- "And it puts under compulsion all persons, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, that they should give these a mark in their right hand or upon their forehead, and that nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name."
5) The wild sea beast -- by its instrument the Earth Beast -- forces a global religion which worships some future Idol:
Revelation 13:14,15 -- "And it misleads those who dwell on the earth, because of the signs that were granted it to perform in the sight of the wild beast, while it tells those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the wild beast that had the sword-stroke and yet revived. And there was granted it to give breath to the image of the wild beast, so that the image of the wild beast should both speak and cause to be killed all those who would not in any way worship the image of the wild beast."
6) the wild sea beast -- by the instrument of the Earth Beast (or, False Prophet, the Spokesman or Mouthpiece) has the power to in some manner command fire to come down out of the sky:
Revelation 13:13 -- "And it performs great signs, so that it should even make fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the sight of mankind."
7) The wild sea beast executes or imprisons those who refuse to practice the government religion:
Revelation 13:10 -- "If anyone [is meant] for captivity, he goes away into captivity. If anyone will kill with the sword, he must be killed with the sword."
8) The wild sea beast oppresses the end-time Saints for a specific period foretold by Daniel -- three and a half years:
Daniel 7:21, 25 -- "I kept on beholding when that very horn made war upon the holy ones, and it was prevailing against them. (Daniel 7:25) He will oppress continually the holy ones themselves of the Supreme One. And he will intend to change times and law, and they will be given into his hand for a time, and times and half a time." Revelation 11:2, 3 -- "But as for the courtyard that is outside the temple [sanctuary], cast it clear out and do not measure it, because it has been given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will cause my two witnesses to prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days dressed in sackcloth." Revelation 11:7-10 -- "And when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them. And their corpses will be on the broad way of the great city which is in a spiritual sense called Sod'om and Egypt, where their Lord was also impaled. And those of the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their corpses for three and a half days, and they do not let their corpses be laid in a tomb. And those dwelling on the earth rejoice over them and enjoy themselves, and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those dwelling on the earth." Revelation 12:13, 14, 17 -- "Now when the dragon saw that it was hurled down to the earth, it persecuted the woman that gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place; there is where she is fed for a time and times and half a time away from the face of the serpent. ... And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus." Revelation 13:5-7 -- "And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies was given it, and authority to act forty-two months was given it. And it opened its mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his residence, even those residing in heaven. And there was granted it to wage war with the holy ones and conquer them, and authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation."
Can one reasonably look at world events and developments and see on the horizon the above possibilities? Is there a world government in existence today which has the potential of global control, global communication, global economic power, the ability to in some manner command fire out of heaven -- whether the atmosphere or space?
It does not take much imagination to see the potential in several contemporary areas. Is world peace possible if enforced by a single power with whom it is impossible to do battle or fight a successful war? Who has the potential for global communication? Who has the potential to call down fire out of heaven? Who has the potential to control a global economy? Where do a majority of the worlds Christian Saints live?
When You See These Things Occurring?
There will come a moment on the prophetic horizon when those Christians who have studied Daniel and Revelation carefully will see that the words of the Nazarene are realized:
Matthew 24:29-33; Luke 21:25-28 -- "Immediately after  the tribulation of those days the  sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, on the earth  anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and [its] agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; and the  powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then  the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will  see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will  gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity. Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors. But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near."
Our Lord lists seven events -- moving from the less evident to the more apparent -- which his disciples will witness at these true "last days" or "end-times." The first indication would be the actual three and a half years of Great Oppression upon Christians. Following this period celestial phenomenon will occur; then horrible turmoil among peoples world-wide; the powers of the atmosphere or outer space in a seismic tremor; a "sign" in the atmosphere or outer space; the appearance in a visible Return of the Son of Man; the visible gathering of the Saints world-wide. (Revelation 11:12)
Clearly many Christians see these things developing like a building storm on the prophetic horizon. There is nothing there to discourage us from thinking IT IS POSSIBLE that the Parousia MAY occur in our life-times. They believe this without preaching to others that "the time is at hand" or "the Christ is here." Our Lord said not to follow or join those who point to a specific year; or, who claim we are already in the "last days."
This we cannot know until the Great Oppression is obviously under way. Whether this begins gradually without any clear indication of a precise beginning, or starts off with a very defined moment where those alert will know the three and a half years of oppression has started. Certainly a global economy, global worship, an enforced global peace, concentration camps, executions, and false evidence of Heavens blessing by some fire being called down from the sky -- all these would bestir in us tremendous excitement that "he is at the doors.
Indeed, even now, there is something missing from anyone who is not absolutely electrified with excitement at the thought that each day we move nearer that thrilling moment on the prophetic horizon. The tip of that ships mast is even now appearing far out there. How quickly or suddenly it will move in our direction is known only to God the Father.
THOUGHTS ON THE PROVERBS
Proverbs 14:15 -- "Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps."
TRANS: NEB: a simple man believes every word he hears; a clever man understands the need for proof
CROSS REF: Proverbs 27:12 and Acts 17:11 = proof
NOTE: "Trust is a lovely thing but it cannot stand unless it get truth to lean upon." (Arnot p 277) The young and unsuspecting may be gullilble and trust the promises of anyone. Older, and more experienced people, know this is not a shrewd thing. Though the shrewd should consider where they walk, the Christian believer should remain guileless in general dispostion. It is not spiritually or physically healthy to become a suspiscious person, not trusting anyone.
Proverbs 14:16 -- "The wise one fears and is turning away from badness, but the stupid is becoming furious and self-confident."
TRANS: RHM: but a dullard is haughty and confident; AAT: but the fool is blustering and confident in himself; JB: the wise man sees evil coming and avoids it, the fool is rash and presumptuous
CROSS REF: Genesis 39:12 = Joseph fled; 1 Kings 19:2 = Elijah fled; 1 Samuel 25:11 = Nabal
NOTE: The is a wisdom in fear which keeps the wise in a state of caution when evil is a possibility whereas the fool becomes furious with a wicked threat and his self-confidence in his own ability to handle the matter leads him to catastrophe.
Proverbs 14:17 -- "He that is quick to anger will commit foolishness, but the man of thinking abilities is hated."
TRANS: KNX: the impatient man blunders as surely as the schemer makes enemies; KJ: a man of wicked devices is hated; BER: a man who plans wickedness is hated; LXX: a passionate man acts inconsiderately but a sensible man bears up under many things
CROSS REF: Proverbs 12:16 and Proverbs 16:32
NOTE: There are a variety of approaches to this verse. Generally the hot-tempered person ends up doing and saying things later regretted. There are several types of persons who are publically or privately "hated" (or, loved less) because of jealousy or envy: the beautiful, the rich, the educated, the wise, and the socially or politically powerful. This jealousy may cause quick anger with regard to the envied person. This hatred may manifest itself in a spiritual or religious environment where there are persons gifted with knowledge of the Bible or influencial in church matters. Such persons may become the objects of slanderous hatred in secret conversations.
Reflecting a rather general view is the following quotation from the book The Age of Conformity, by Alan Valentine, pages 105 and 106: "Einstein was another kind of national hero in a more remote way; almost no one understood him but nearly everyone accepted the experts' verdict that he was a tremendous adventurer on the exalted heights of mathematics. But when he began to express opinions on public issues his admirers diminished. To think independently is to challenge the democratic norm, and 'highbrow' and 'theorist' are not complimentary terms. 'I'd rather be a bonehead than an egghead,' is simply the latest slogan to defend the commonplace."
[The Crown of Knowledge]
Proverbs 14:18 -- "The inexperienced ones will certainly take possession of foolishness, but the shrewd ones will bear knowledge as a headdress."
TRANS: SPRL: the foolish inherit folly but the pride shall be diademed with knowledge; NAB: the adornment of simpletons is folly but shrewd men gain the crown of knowledge
CROSS REF: Proverbs 3:22 and Proverbs 4:9
NOTE: The shrewd are clearly visible by their crown of knowledge but those who persist in inexperience will have mere foolishness as their possession. Find foolishness and you find inexperience.
[Evil Pays Homage]
Proverbs 14:19 -- "Bad people will have to bow down before the good ones, and the wicked people at the gates of the righteous one."
TRANS: SPRL: the wicked have to bend low before the good and sinners before the gates of the righteous; LAM: evil men shall prostrate themselves before good men and the wicked shall come to beg at the gates of the righteous
CROSS REF: Revelation 3:9 = vindication; Zechariah 8:23 = bow and kiss
NOTE: "Goodness, however scant its earnings, commonly wins a reluctant or unconscious respect." (Kidner) The Ultimate Outcome is described here. Often "gates" were kept low or small to prevent easy access so one entering such a gate must bow low. The "gates" were also the place where judicial decisions were made and help was rendered to the needy. As much as bad people resent the good there is often a certain hesitant respect the wicked hold for those who have always followed a right course.
Proverbs 14:20 -- "Even to his fellowman one who is of little means is an object of hatred, but many are the friends of the rich person."
TRANS: NEB: the rich have friends in plenty; KNX: of the beggar his own neighbors grow weary, wealth never lacks friends
CROSS REF: Proverbs 19:4, 7 = materialism
NOTE: This friendship to the rich is hypocrisy and serves its own political ends. The rich can seldom trust their friends and the poor are disliked even by their own families. A rich man who looses his wealth will find himself with considerably fewer friends. One can often tell or expose his true friends depending on the checking book balance or the credit card limits. It often amazes the innocent to see someone quickly deserted who has fallen on hard times. The leeches look for blood elsewhere.
[Any who wish for the full Thoughts on Proverbs may receive it by email attachment.]
REGARDING "ELDERS" AND "DEACONS"
Qualifications of Elders
[Reprint from Nazarene Community]
AN OVERSEERS WIFE; OR, A DEACONESS
a) SERIOUS ---
#307.MARG: see Philippians 4.8 = serious concern.
TRANS: KJ: grave; NASB: dignified; AMP: worthy of respect; BER: honorable; PHI: share their serious outlook.
#308. NOTE: See verse 8 for discussion on "serious." It does not mean overly sober or too serious, rather it means a woman who takes her responsibility seriously, not frivolously or foolishly.
b) NOT SLANDEROUS ---
#309.MARG: see 1Timothy 5:13, gadding about; 2 Thessalonians 3:11, meddling; 1 Peter 4:15, busybody.
TRANS: NEB: not talk scandal; GDSP: not gossips; NASB: not malicious gossips; BAS: saying no evil of others; PHI: must be women of discretion.
#310. NOTE: Nothing can destroy a Christian association -- a discussion group, or a House Church -- quicker than gossip and slander. Therefore, the wife of the overseer (or, a deaconess) must control her tongue and must be an example for all other women in the congregation regarding her speech with respect to her own husband as well as "current events" among the brothers at large. She cannot be known as a gossip, or a woman who cannot hold a sensitive confidence. "The law of loving-kindness" is on her tongue and not the latest tidbit. Nor does her language tend to the negative but when she speaks it is about those positive aspects of Christian associates. This mature woman has learned to curb "catty" remarks about other women or disrespectful opinions of her husbands fellow elders. She knows those things God hates (Proverbs 6:19) and in no wise wants to "allow a place for the Devil" in slanderous "whisperings." (Ephesians 4:25, 27; 2 Corinthians 12:20) She is a woman familiar with James 3:3-12 because she is a true "formal worshipper" who bridles her tongue. (James 1:26)
c) MODERATE IN HABITS ---
#311.NOTE: See verse 2 for discussion on "moderate." She is balanced and not given to extremes one way or the other. She believes: "Moderation in everything including moderation." She is not a faddist chasing after every current trend, nor is she the last to leave an old style. Moderation would be evident in dress, eating and drinking habits, entertainment, home and family.
d) FAITHFUL IN ALL THINGS ---
#312.MARG: see Titus 2:3
TRANS: BER: altogether trustworthy; GDSP: perfectly trustworthy; BAS: true in all things; PHI: women who can be trusted.
#313. NOTES: This is a reliable woman, trustworthy with responsibility. Faith characterizes her life and manner. She is a genuine Christian in her walk. She is dependable and loyal. Now, back to the qualifications for men as overseers.
THE FAMILY CORNER
I will walk in my house in the integrity of my heart." Psalm 101:2
Quantity or Quality Time with Your Children?
There always seems to be discussion surrounding the subject of How do I spend time with my children. Mostly, the issues seem to go in one of two directions. To the author, the most popular seems to be quality time. Quality time boils down to a couple of facts you can think of but certainly the one fact: Working parents have very little time after work for themselves, never mind their children. So thinking upon this you might say to yourself, So if I spend a short amount of time with my children a day, this will fill their need of attention. Well, if you take this conclusion and look at it in as putting gas in the tank of your car, you may draw a different conclusion. Imagine a situation where you stop to get gas but only put in 2 gallons. No problems for the next 20 miles or so, but pretty soon the tank needs more fuel. This analogy describes the quality time well, for your childrens gas tanks will be happily full for a short while but they are going to clamor for more fuel fairly soon!
So perhaps quantity time is the answer. Well lets look carefully at this concept as well. The idea behind quantity time is spending larger amounts of time with the children. However, spending relatively large amounts of time is not adequate if you are not giving them your full attention. Lets take a look again at our gas tank analogy. This is the equivalent of putting low octane gas into your 8 cylinder car. Yes, it will run but man the car sure seems to drag and the engine knock. Man, did you see that Honda Civic pass you by? How did it do that.
Whats the answer you ask? The answer is not either quality time or quantity time, but both. Now I know Ive sent some of you parents into orbit, but calm down for a minute and Ill explain. Keep in mind that this is something I have been successful at, praise God, and he deserves all the credit. To better understand, let me give you a look at the activities in a fairly typical week. Sunday Meeting till 3:00, Family gathering on Sunday night, Writing this article, miscellaneous Deacon assignments, 4 hours OT on Saturday, Thursday Bible study (1 of 3 of which I lead), Internet outreach for CMF, teaching friends and family email and computer items, starting work at 6 AM, about 3 sermons per year mixed in Well, you get the picture, I hope. I still manage combine quality and quantity time with my daughter, but it takes a very determined and well planned effort.
To fill up her tank, I put aside on night a week to do something with her that I know she really appreciates. During the cold months, we go to the video store and she picks out an approved video (like C.S. Lewis The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.) Sometimes we stop at a local ice cream store and pick up a scoop of her favorite, then we come home and watch the movie. I sit with her on the couch, not getting up to some personal whim, discuss parts of the movie with her that are funny. After the movie, we play a board game or a computer education game together. When the weather is warmer, I rent a bike trailer and we go for a 10 mile ride. She takes her stuffed animals to enjoy the ride as well. We stop at a park along the way to swing on the swings, do the slides. The point is that she knows I am doing something with her that she enjoys. Even though she is still young she understands that I am giving up my personal time to do things with her. Wednesdays are one of her favorite days of the week now. A short time ago she would sniffle when Mom would leave the house. Now she is very comfortable to have her Dad around, even if he cant directly spend time with her.
To keep her tank from running dry in between Wednesdays, I spend a ˝ hour a day doing something with her, even if it is just sitting by her while she plays, trying to dig up some daily emotional waves she rode during the day. Some days situations demand my attention so that I cant spend that time, but those days are the exception rather than the rule. Then by Wednesday, her tank needs to be filled up once again.
One important condition behind these actions is that you must reinforce in your own mind that your mind must be with your children and not elsewhere. Children are very perceptive. They will quickly recognize that you are just going through the motions. Make the choice to be single minded about spending time with the kids. Sometimes that means not answering the phone, not thinking about what other things you have to accomplish after your done serving time with the kids. Your children will notice your choice for them over everything else. Attitude is everything!
So, what are you going to do this week? Choose to spend a lot of time with your kids. Look into their eyes when they are talking to you about school or other activities they do. Ask provoking questions that will bring out how they handles emotional situations during the day. In other words, dont ask how was school. Ask was your presentation as hard as you thought it was going to be? Get specific and detailed in your questions. The long term benefits for these relatively few hours out of your week can never be shaken loose from their emotional stability. They will love you more than you can imagine. If you dont know how, pray and watch for Jesus intercession. He will help you, just yield to his authority and wisdom.
The choice is yours. Will you make the sacrifice to spend quality and quantity time? It will be big sacrifice at first, but if you enter with the right spirit, the sacrifice becomes smaller until its not a sacrifice at all. As Nike says, "Just do it!"
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