The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

Volume 2 -- April 1999 (40 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 pray we sanctify our Lord by defending our Hope in a gentle and respectful manner. (1 Peter 3:15)


IN THIS ISSUE ---

1. PREDESTINATION: GOD AND THE FUTURE

2. ANNOUNCEMENTS

3. FAITH PESPECTIVES:

KIND WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

How can we best understand Hebrews 13:17

The Prayers of Children

4. THOUGHTS ON THE PROVERBS

5. QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS

6. WHEN THAT WHICH IS PERFECT IS COME

7. REGARDING HEBREWS 7:1-3


PREDESTINATION: GOD AND THE FUTURE

"But we shall always find it hard to love the man (John Calvin) who darkened the human soul with the most absurd and blasphemous conception of God (found in the doctrine of predestination) in all the long and honored history of nonsense."

(Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol VI, The Reformation, page 490)


The argument has been presented by the most eminent theologians that God
literally knows all of the future. This idea was further refined into the concept of Predestination, which means that God has predetermined everything that occurs. Among the advocates of this view, it is considered proper to believe that God knew of the evil, which the world has known since the fall of Adam, from before the time of creation. They also consider that God, while knowing of the evil that would result from creation, nevertheless, formulated a plain to counteract it before anything was created!


Aside from attributing the initial cause of evil to God, rather than to his adversaries, the proponents of this view have credited God with a characteristic that stands in conflict with his attributes as they are presented in scripture. God's attributes, according the Bible, are, justice, power, love, and wisdom; these are represented, respectively, by the four living creatures, which surround his symbolic throne. The text in Revelation provides a description in symbolic terms:
"In front of the throne was a sea as transparent as crystal. In the middle of the throne and around it, were four living creatures all studded with eyes, in front and behind. The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third living creature had a human face, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle." (Revelation 4:6, 7; The New Jerusalem Bible)


Additionally, other texts can be cited to explain the symbolic meaning of the four living creatures. The lion is presented first and denotes God's courageous pursuit of justice. (Proverbs 19:12; 20:2; 28:1; 30:30; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalms 89:14; Jeremiah 25:38) The bull represents God's power. (Job 21:10; 39:11; Proverbs 14:4; Psalm 62:11; Isaiah 40:26) The third creature, with the face of a man, symbolizes God's love as only man was created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 22:36-40; 1 John 4:8, 16) The eagle represents God's superior wisdom. (Job 39:27-29; Proverbs 2:6; James 3:17) Ezekiel, in his vision, saw four living creatures with these same qualities. (Ezekiel 1:5-10)


Moreover, all of God's attributes function in complete harmony. There is no
imbalance among his judgments as is often found in sinful human judges. He
deals with every situation exactly as it is. And his vision is not flawed since he sees exactly what is in the hearts of men. All his ways are perfect and without flaw. For this reason Moses could say: "The Rock, his work is perfect; For all his ways are justice: A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, Just and right is he. They have dealt corruptly with him, they are not his children, it is their blemish; They are a perverse and crooked generation." (Deuteronomy 32:4-5; American Standard Version)

The idea that God caused evil by creating the first human pair, while knowing beforehand that they would sin, certainty undermines his quality of justice. It was not God who led Adam and Eve into sin. Satan introduced that course of action when he chose to rebel against God's sovereignty. (Genesis 3:1-7) Initially, Satan was created without flaw, and there was no sin in him. The text in Ezekiel explains exactly what happened: "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee." (Ezekiel 28:15)

Scripture teaches that unrighteousness was not created in Satan; rather, it was found in him at the time of his transgression. When Satan told the first lie to Eve he became of the father of the lie. The lie was his conception and not God's. Jesus made reference to this fact in his discourse to the Jews of his day: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof." (John 8:44)

Consequently, Satan abused his free will when he lied to Adam and Eve. And Adam and Eve choose, of their own free will, to disobey God and join the rebellion that was initiated by Satan. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that God knew beforehand what course of action his intelligent creatures would take in response to his stated command. There is nothing to support the claim that God was the cause of the evil that occurred. Moreover, God had warned Adam of the consequences for disobedience before he sinned. Prior to his sin Adam had existed in the perfect image of God, and just as God had the ability to will, so too, he endowed Adam with the ability to will. Adam's will, however, was not absolute like that of God's.

Adam was not to abuse his ability to will by taking a course in opposition to the absolute will of God, which was expressed in his command concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Although Adam was created in the image of God, he was by no means equal to God. Adam's existence was dependent on his subjection to the will of God. Thus, Adam had the opportunity to express his love for God by obeying his commands, while God expressed his love for Adam by providing him with the necessary direction contained in his commands, which would have ensured his continued existence and happiness.

The relationship between God and his intelligent creatures was based on faith and trust. Had God predetermined that Adam would sin, then no element of faith or trust could have existed. They would have been mere robots, devoid of the ability to will. They could not have freely chosen for themselves to demonstrate their love for God by their obedience to his commands. Had predestination been a reality then God could never have hoped that Adam would love him.

Predestination would have meant that Adam did not have the ability to express his love for God since all of his actions would have been preprogrammed into him. It would have also meant that God, too, would have been a preprogrammed being since Adam was created in the image of God.

In the Bible the word know is often used with the sense of experience. Moses, in speaking of Adam's sexual relations with Eve, stated that "the man knew Eve his wife." (Genesis 4:1) Thus, he had an experience with her. Later, God warned the nation of Israel not to seek out gods with whom they had not known; i.e., had no experience. (Deuteronomy 11:28) This fact becomes more evident when more examples are cited. When God had heard the cry of complaint about the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, no doubt by means of angels, he stated: "I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know." (Genesis 18:21.)

Thus, it is easy to see that God had not taken notice of the degree of the sin that had occurred in those cities. This is not to say that God did not know that people were living in those cities; rather, it means that he had not inspected them at the time when their sin had became notorious. For this reason he undertook to make an inspection so as to know or experience whether or not the report was correct. Additionally, after God had put Abraham to the test, in order to determine whether or not he would prove faithful, God sent an angel to inform him that he knew or had experienced that Abraham had proved faithful. "And he said, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him. For now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me." (Genesis 22:12)

It would have been no test at all had Abraham been preprogrammed to do as God had told him to do. And had God known the outcome ahead of time how could he say, "For now I know that thou fearest God?" Of Abraham the scriptures relate that "God had found his heart faithful." (Nehemiah 9:8) The idea that to know means to experience is also found in the New Testament. (Galatians 4:9)

Since it is not possible to support the doctrine of predestination, how then can the prophetic texts proclaiming future events be explained? In an effort to answer this question, Jonah's prophecy, concerning the account of the Nineveh's sin, provides valuable information about how God dealt with that nation without predetermining the outcome of events. As in the case with Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh's wickedness had "come up before" God. (Jonah 1:2) He had, by some means, become fully aware of the severity of the wickedness that was perpetrated by the Ninevites. The king of Nineveh, himself, had acknowledged the reality of evil and violence in that city. (Jonah 3:8) After his initial delay, Jonah, upon entering the city began to prophesy of its destruction by proclaiming, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." (Jonah 3:4) The most poignant verse in the entire book reads, "And the people of Nineveh believed God." (Jonah 3:5)

This means that they, like God, had considered the reality of the situation at hand, and they believed that God was about to do exactly as Jonah had declared.   Understanding that their destruction was imminent, the Ninevites, including their king, took the following action: "And they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. And the tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he made proclamation and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water; but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and beast, and let them cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in his hands." (Jonah 3:5-8)

This action, taken by the entire populous, demonstrated their regret for their error. It was their hope that God would notice their change of heart, and not do to them as he had promised. This general attitude was expressed by the king when he said, "Who knoweth whether God will not turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" (Jonah 3:9) From this it can be concluded that God had continued to allow them to exercise their free will during the forty-day period. Had he predetermined their destruction they could not have turned aside from their evil ways. Had he predetermined their repentance then they could not have expressed hope that God would change his mind as a consequence of their repentance. Nevertheless, God did take notice of their repentance. And for this reason he changed his mind; something that he could not have done as a consequence of their repentance had he predetermined to reverse his initial declaration prior to their change of heart. The prophet Jonah expresses this in a wonderful way: "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not." (Jonah 3:10)

Although Jonah was displeased at the outcome of the situation, he did accurately describe the nature of God by saying that he was gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and one who repents of evil. (Jonah 4:1-2) Jonah had learned these things about God from the writings of Moses, who wrote, not his own opinion of God, but of what God had said about himself: "And Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6, 7)

If God were a being who knows or experiences future events before they occur it would not be possible for him to change his mind, or repent from his anger, and forgive transgressions when sinners turn from the ways of their fathers. God does not punish the children for the sins of their fathers; rather, he punishes the children who take up and persist in the ways of their fathers. (1 Kings 14:22; 2 Kings 15:9; Nehemiah 9:2; Daniel 9:16; Ezekiel 18:1-32) If God had predetermined for sons to take up the evil ways of their fathers then they could not, of their own free will, repent from that evil because God would have predetermined it.

Nevertheless, we ought to note that although God pardons the wicked when they repent, his patience does, however, have its limitations. Consider the case of the Amorites, a severely wicked people, whom God spoke of to Abraham: "Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete." (Genesis 15:16)

God had taken notice of the severity of the wickedness practiced by the Amorites, whose practices included, adultery, incest, homosexuality, and bestiality; he recognized that the inclination of their hearts was bent toward evil to such a degree that repentance was not possible. Thus, there is a condition of the heart from which no repentance is possible, and it is this condition that leads to what God views as the completion of error, for which capital punishment must be forthcoming. Such was the condition of the earth at the time of the flood: "And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And Jehovah said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the ground; both man, and beast, and creeping things, and birds of the heavens; for it repenteth me that I have made them." (Genesis 6:5-7)

However, we ought not to conclude that God did not attempt to distinguish between those worthy of capital punished and those who, although born in sin, had expressed genuine concern over the wickedness, which had developed around them. For this reason God spared Noah and his family because God saw that Noah was righteous when compared with his contemporaries. (Genesis 7:1) Thus, it can rightly be concluded that God provides a means of deliverance for those who seek to do his will when he visits punishment upon the wicked.

Such was the case in the days of the kingdom of Judah, which had degenerated further and further into wickedness, during the forty-year period of Jeremiah's prophesying of impending doom. Early in the reign of Jehoiakim God began to separate the incorrigibly wicked from those who sought to do his will: "Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so will I regard the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans, for good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Jehovah: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. And as the bad figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so bad, surely thus saith Jehovah, So will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt." (Jeremiah 24:5-8)

Moreover, God had sent those whom he favored (the good figs) off as captives to Babylon, and he had kept those whom he regarded as totally wicked (the bad figs) in the land of Judah, so that they might suffer destruction when the Chaldeans returned during the reign of wicked king Zedekiah. After the exile in Babylon God allowed his people to return to their land; however, he did not allow them to have a king. The period of the sinful kings had ended, and it was well established that God did not want a sinful king representing him. (Ezekiel 43:7-9) This idea did not originate with God. (1 Samuel 8:4-22; 12:16-25)

Some thirty five hundred years had passed since God had promised to send the seed that would bruise Satan in the head and lay the foundation for God's righteous rule to begin again as it had existed in Eden. (Genesis 3:15; 22:18) However, the time for the coming of the seed remained some five hundred years away. (Daniel 9:24-27) And the people continued to break God's laws and engage in acts of wickedness. (Malachi 2:1-17) Then when the seed did arrive the time for judgment was set. (Malachi 3:1-6)

Thus, after four thousand years God had not changed his standards, and his people were ready to be harvested. The wicked were marked for destruction at the hand of the Roman armies, and the righteous were marked for deliverance in accordance with their obedience to the word's of the promised seed, Jesus Christ, who had given his disciples the following command: "But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand. Then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains; and let them that are in the midst of her depart out; and let not them that are in the country enter therein. For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:20-22)

The Roman armies first surrounded Jerusalem under Cestius Gallus in 66 CE. But their stay was brief, and they withdrew for no apparent reason. Some of the Jews then followed them all the way to Antipatris, attacking and killing over five thousand Roman soldiers as they fled. It was during this time that the Christians fled Jerusalem for the city of Pella. While the Christians fled, the Jews were preparing themselves for war with the Romans. This marked the beginning of the tribulation prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24:15-20, Mark 13:14-17, and Luke 21:20, 21.

When Nero learned of the losses he had incurred at the hands of the Jews he ordered Vespasian to gather forces from Syria and Alexandria for an assault against the Jews. Vespasian marched into Galilee and fortified all the strategic locations around Jerusalem, taking several cities on the way. During this time many of the Jews stayed within Jerusalem, as much of the land had been subdued by the Romans. There was also a great deal of internal strife within the city itself. As Vespasian was preparing to attack Jerusalem he learned of the death of Nero. He then ordered that the attack be delayed while he saw to the affairs of the empire. There was also a great deal of turmoil within the empire at this time, due to the deaths of three emperors between the years 68-69 CE. While Vespasian went to Rome to secure his position as emperor he ordered his Son Titus to march on Jerusalem. The coming of Titus to take Jerusalem marked the beginning of the fulfillment of Matthew 24:21 - 30, Mark 13:18 - 26 and Luke 21:22-27.

The Jews were celebrating the Passover when Titus laid siege to the city. The siege had lasted less than five months, during which time there was great distress within the city. The figurative language used by Christ, "the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken," describes the destruction of the city and the temple, and with their demise came the end of the Jewish system of that age. (Matthew 24:29)

Josephus records that during the siege 1,100,000 died and 97,000 were taken as captives at the end. Thus, the days were "cut short" or else the devastation would have continued throughout all the land and no flesh would have been saved. All these things came upon that generation. (Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32) This was the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and those who had pierced him had seen his coming on the clouds. (Revelation 1:7) It was after these events that the work of gathering the elect of the Lord continued as was foretold. (Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27)

In spite of these momentous events, which were foretold to come upon the Jewish system of that era, there is nothing to indicate that God had predetermined who would be saved and who would be spared. The individuals who escaped the destruction did so as a result of their obedience to Christ's command. God did not know who would be saved or who would be destroyed until the time of his judgment arrived. The judgment upon the wicked was the result of their own refusal to repent before the coming of the day of Yahweh. The wicked had exercised their free will in opposition to God to the point where they had put his own Son to death; and many of them did not repent before the day of judgment had come upon them in all of its fury.

The Scriptures that prophetically speak of the elect or those called out by God, refer not to any predetermined individuals, but rather to those who were willing to receive the Son of God at the time of his appearance. Thus, God had faith that there would be those who would receive his Son, and he made positions available for those willing to accept him. The elect were those who elected to fill those positions by means of their faith in Jesus. These were the ones called out of the world when they believed in God's Son.

The phrase foundation of the world (Greek: katabolas kosmou), found in various texts in the New Testament, does not mean creation. The noun foundation comes from the Greek compound katabola. Kata forms the prefix to the basic noun form and implies downward motion. The noun form, bola, means cast, fall, or throw. The Greek word for world is kosmos, which is often used to refer to the world of mankind. (Matthew 4:8; 1 John 2:15-17)

Thus, the expression means the falling down of the world of mankind. It refers to what is called in modern terms as the fall of man, which is specifically the time when Adam was judged and cast out of Eden. It was at that time that God planned for the sacrifice of his Son. In passing judgment on Satan, God said, "and you will bruise his heal." (Genesis 3:15) Thus, it was determined before Adam was judged and cast out that Jesus would be slain. This is why the Lamb is said to have been slain from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 13:35; 25:34; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8; 17:8)

The following text, from Ephesians, is often cited to support the view that God predetermined those who would and who would not be saved: "Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." (Ephesians 1:4, 5)

The compound Greek verb Proorizo, here translated foreordained, is formed from the stem horizo and the prefix pro. Pro means before, and horizo means mark out or set bounds. From this it can be properly understood that the verb is used, not to describe who are predestined, but what they are predestined to. The ones chosen are always predestined to salvation, or to adoption. Thus, from the time of Eden God had marked out for sonship those who would be chosen based on their acceptance of Jesus as the coming Messiah.

The following text from Romans is also used to support the idea of predestination: "And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30)

The word foreknew comes form the Greek compound verb proegno. Pro forms the prefix to the stem and means before. The stem, egno, is the aorist form of the verb ginosko, which means know. Thus, God is said to have known before those whom he foreordained (proorizo), or marked out, to be conformed to the image of his Son. When God commanded Adam and Eve to "be  fruitful and multiply" he viewed these ones whom he foreknew as existing in the loins of Adam. God, indeed, looked forward to having fellowship with them.

Paul also speaks in this way when he speaks of Levi as existing in the loins of Abraham long before he was born. (Hebrews 7:9, 10) Thus, when God decreed that the promised seed would bruise Satan in the head, he foreknew those, whom he would call, and foreordained them to be conformed to the image of his Son. When they were called by Holy Spirit in response to their faith in Christ, they were justified and glorified in him. In this sense God had previous knowledge or foreknew individuals prior to their manifestation in Christ and called them according to his purpose.

A similar statement indicating what it means for God to foreknow something or someone is found in the book of Jeremiah: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5) The verb "knew" comes from the Hebrew yadah, which has various shades of meaning. Primarily it is used to denote knowledge of someone or something (Genesis 12:11; 22:12); often in the sense of having an experience (Joshua 23:14); sometimes to define carnal relations (Genesis 19:5; Judges 19:22); it can mean discriminate, or distinguish (2 Samuel 19:35 Jonah 4:11); it can also mean to be acquainted with. (Genesis 29:5)

Thus, when God told Jeremiah that he knew him before he was formed in the belly, he distinguished him from his contemporaries, and related to him that he had already, in his mind, determined what his course of action would be in regard to his work as a prophet. It was God's purpose that Jeremiah would perform his role as a prophet according to what God had predetermined for him. This does not mean that God had experienced, in an external sense, the work of Jeremiah before it began; rather, it means that God had envisioned it in his mind and made it known to Jeremiah. Moreover, David used the word know in a similar way when he lamented over the priests, whom Doeg had killed in the city of Nob: "And Abiathar told David that Saul had slain Jehovah's priests. And David said unto Abiathar, I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul." (1 Samuel 22:21, 22)

Thus, the word know is often used when the speaker desires to relate what he considers certain to become reality. It is also important to note that although God gives everyone free will, and he does not predetermine who will be saved and who will be lost, he, nevertheless, does interpose in the affairs of men so as to accomplish his purposes. God made this point very clear in his dealings with Pharaoh of Egypt. (Exodus 9:15, 16)

The foremost example of a person doing the will of God, rather than his own will, can be seen in the execution of Jesus Christ. In his hour of trial he prayed to God: "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:39)

At the time of his arrest Jesus said: "Or thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be? In that hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a robber with swords and staves to seize me? I sat daily in the temple teaching, and ye took me not. But all this is come to pass, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples left him, and fled." (Matthew 26:53-56)

Jesus knew the course that God had predetermined for him. He followed that course willingly, even to the point of death. Nevertheless, it can be said that God knew him and loved him before he came to the earth. (John 10:17) God had confidence, trust, and faith in him, that he would fulfill the task that was set before him from the time of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. [Contributed: GJP]


ANNOUNCEMENTS

• CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS WESTERN CONFERENCE: The Free Bible Students west coast conference is being held April 2-5 near Arrowhead, California in excellent facilities. For information email David Karavas: .

• FRIENDS OF THE NAZARENE MEMORIAL: March 30 at 7 PM the Friends of the Nazarene in Southern California will observe the Lord’s Supper in commemoration of the death of our Lord. It will be held in Hemet. The meeting will be shared by four brothers and last about an hour and a half. Any interested in attending should email Mark MIller or call (909) 925-9140.

• SEMINAR -- "THE FUTURE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH": A special day long seminar for elders and deacons is being held March 31 in Hemet, California. It begins at 9 AM and continies with lunch and dinner breaks until 7 PM. Friends of the Nazarene elders are coming from as far away as Spain and New York.

21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW: The new rendering of the Gospel of Matthew has been completed through chapter 19 with 1,200 footnotes. It is hoped the completed work will be available by the end of April. Many have expressed interest and appreciation in this new online work. If you wish the work to date please contact us for an email attachment.

• INTERNET FRIENDS MEETING: We have experimented with a new meeting held weekly on Wedensday and Sunday between 7-8 PM (Pacific Time Zone). A moderator or chairman directs the meeting with an opening and closing prayer. Each moderator introduces topics for discussions, questions, or problems facing modern Christians. We have had brothers in the chat room from Wales to California. The url and password may be obtained from a Research Associate. This is a godly meeting of spiritual persons who demonstrate love, respect and honor for others.

• NAZARENE COMMENTARY: An exhaustive work is being prepared which is something like a dictionary or Biblical commentary on major topics of the Bible. It is a work in progress with over 2,000 pages and 3,000 footnotes. It is being prepared on a cd-rom for speed of research and study. Thousands of Bible texts and subjects may be researched. It will include articles from the web page, all major articles in two years of online magazines, a complete commentary on the Gospel of Matthew and Revelation, and partial commentaries on Proverbs and Psalms.


FAITH PERSPECTIVES

[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.]

KIND WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

I enjoyed your website. -- JT / USA

Thanks for the links to your web page. I’m sure the articles will be useful in my research. (G E / LUXEMBURG)

I must tell you that as I read the various publications of the Friends of the Nazarene, I and my wife are greatly encouraged. There truly seems to be an honest desire on the part of "The Friends" to follow the Lamb wherever he goes.We truly believe that this is the message of The Friends of the Nazarene and we greatly appreciate your obvious dedication to these facts. It is also quite evident to us that you have spent a great deal of your life studying God's word. (M & J / USA)

Loved the latest Naz saints and anxious to see it printed! (RB / Ohio)

Thank you for your YEAR END letter. Interesting to hear about your experiences and the Lord's guidance and direction in your life. May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you in His loving care in 1999. (J K / Temecula CA)

I must thank you again. This post really helped me clarify matters in my head. (RB / Ohio)

I then came across the Nazarene Saints and , boy!! was it a God-send. I now feel that Christ truly blesses his sincere followers even though we live among the wheat and the weeds. I still serve as the presiding minister because such a controlling environment is hard to just get up and leave. But God has blessed me with a beautiful wife who also realized immediately as truth all that I've learned. My friend is also an elder from Japan. In time I will take steps to phase out from the organization even though I love my friends there, but loyalty to God and Christ (and my conscience) must take precedence. I am thrilled to have a very small part in this effort with the Friends of the Nazarene and very humbled to have a start in the Spanish translation of articles. I started translating also on the Nazarene Apocalypse and it will take some time. But I consider this a dear project very much worth the effort. I'm starting a small bible discussion group privately with a couple that have realized many things also. It's a bit odd at first to see that many others have much of the same doubts but feel that its just them. But at the same time it's liberating to see that faith in God and Christ and not in an organization is what leads to salvation. I very much hope to see some of you in March. (USA)

I'm still in awe over the amazing information that is published at the Nazarene Saints website. Reading it feels so liberating. You feel like serving God and following Jesus footsteps is not a burden...yet rather a privligde. (New Jersey)

I have finished reading Messianic Confessions and I am appalled at your personal situation. If I had the means to make sure that you had adequate housing, medical care etc., I would provide it immediately. I have however, asked Dr. Bacchiocchi if he would find someone to check on you and who might be able to assist materially or in any other way that is necessary. Forgive me if I have acted hastily Mark, but I couldn't stand the thought of you going without necessary medication and other basics. (RL / Australia)

First, we want to say how thankful we are to Jehovah for the fellowship (even though right now it is through the computer) and encouragement we have found from the Nazarene Saints. He has heard our prayers for these very things. It is very refreshing to us to find true believers of like faith who's concern are love and truth. ... We started to read your most recent Newsletter and we were extremely excited to learn about the new translation of the New Testament Christian Bible you are putting together. We would very much appreciate receiving the entire translation. We would like to give a contribution to the Nazarene Saints. Could you let us know where and to who's attention it should be sent. We do not fellowship at an organized "church", however, we want to give back to God by giving to people who are putting forth the truth of God's word and of the gospel of Christ so that they can continue to do so. Sincere thanks for including us on your mailing list. (MW / USA)

I would like to thank you very much for sending me by e-mail the book NAZARENE PRINCIPLES. It is a very wonderful book. I hope that by it I can slowly guide my family away from this man-made organization to a friendship with the Nazarene. I have given copies of the Nazarene booklet to some people and I expect feedback about their interest soon. I contacted others by e-mail with a link to the Nazarene websites. Despite limitations at the moment I see a lot of opportunities. I have faith that God will bless our efforts. I'd also like to thank you very much for the February issue of the Nazarene booklet which I enjoy reading very much, and also for forwarding my post to my spiritual brother . I'm going to send him an e-mail shortly. Although I have a Spanish surname, I speak little Spanish. Neither is English my first language. I'm originally from Manila, Philippines and have been here in Canada for four years. (AM / Canada)

Would it be possible to receive some literature form you? I am very interested in the historical origin and development of your group. (MA / Argentina)

+++

Early this month of December I stumbled upon your website, Nazarene Saints.
I read the entire authobiography: Messianic Confessions. I have downloaded many of the essays, and booklets. Now I am studying the Bible with a passion greater than I have ever experienced since I studied the Bible.I am happy to have been freed from the enslavement. I consider myself one of you, a Nazarene Saint. Thank you very much for being instrumental in my enlightenment, in my being set free and in finally knowing the truth. I know that our knowledge of the truth is still partial as the apostle indicated in 1 Corinthians 13:9-13. But it's encouraging to know that what counts the most are faith, hope and love, the greatest of which is love. (AM / Canada)

+++

I just want to say that I have been enjoying your publications on the trinity and the Nazarene Community. My husband and I have seen much truth in Scripture and are at this point having our own Sabbath readings and meetings with our kids at home. We no longer can sit in a church and hear non-truths and have them taught to our children. We put all our trust in Jehovah through our Lord Jesus
Christ. We do at times wish that we had others of like faith for encouragement and edification, however, through the internet we have found many that are having their eyes opened which has encouraged us a great deal. We look forward to visiting your web site again. (USA)

+++

I'm just plowing my way through the online publication Nazarene Apocolypse on your pages. Gripping stuff. (CG / Wales)

+++

I have read up to the end of chapter 11 of Messianic Confessions from your web-site, and have recommended that a number of my friends do the same. There are many aspects of your story that are quite unique and absorbing. (RL / Australia)

+++

I have made hard copies of most of the publications in your website, but there is one that I can't find, Nazarene Principles. I want to use it in conducting a regular Bible study with my family. My wife has shown some interest. I have children of 12 and 11. We live in Toronto, Canada. I hope to start a home church someday, God willing. I would appreciate it very much if you can show me how I can get a copy. If I can download it I can make a hard copy of it. -- AM / Canada

+++

Visited your web site and found it to be very thought provoking. You have obviously spent a great deal of time studying God's word. We plan on visiting the site often. You keep coming through with great articles and accurate nterpretation of scriptures. Keep up the good work. Bless Your efforts. Enjoyed your hought-provoking essays, especially on the radiometric dating and Jesus' kingship: clearly presented and well-reasoned. Thanks. (TC / USA)

+++

This information has opened my heart and mind to a new understanding of the Bible. Thank you for providing this spiritual food. (AP / New York)

+++

We copied the newsletter off of the internet. Thank you for the work you do. It's spiritual food for us! (C / USA)

+++

Let me just say that only by the spirit of God can such great things come from such humble beginings. I am very much impressed by the application of the fruits of the spirit amongst yourself and all of the Research Associates I have been able to contact. It is so refreshing to finally be able to express opinions, bring up points, question issues, express your faith freely amongst such devoted people. I only wish that I could do more. Since I started to associate with all of you fine Christians, I see my fellow man with different eyes. I feel more empathetic to human sufferings and emotions.

I'd like to once again appreciate all that through God and Christ I have been able to learn at the Friends of the Nazarene Website. My hopes are to one day be able to fully and openly share all these wonderful things with all who are willing to accept the Love Christ has shown us. Please continue this arduous work you are doing. You don't know how much our Father is truly blessing you. You and the Associates and mankind in general are constantly in my prayers.

This brings me back again to the Book of Romans, what a gem of a work. That
letter showed me truly what God and his Son are all about. It encourages me more and more to want to be like them.

Thank you for sharing the gifts that Our Father has given you.

God Bless, your Brother


How can we best understand Hebrews 13:17

"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." (English-NIV)

By getting a better understanding of the word "OBEY" in this text, we can acquire a fuller understanding of the text itself. The word "OBEY" has several meanings in the Greek language. In this particular text the greek work used is peitho {pi'-tho}. There are 63 instances of verses containing Strong's number 3982. Vines Expository Dictionary of Bible words gives peitho the following meaning: "to persuade, to win over," in the Passive and Middle Voices, "to be persuaded, to listen to, to obey," is so used with this meaning, in the Middle Voice, e.g., in Acts 5:36-37 (in Acts 5:40, Passive Voice, "they agreed"); Romans 2:8; Galatians 5:7; Hebrews13:17; James 3:3. The "obedience" suggested is not by submission to authority, but resulting from persuasion.

"Peitho and pisteuo" 'to trust,' are closely related etymologically; the difference in meaning is that the former implies the obedience that is produced by the latter, cp. Heb. 3:18,19, where the disobedience of the Israelites is said to be the evidence of their unbelief. Faith is of the heart, invisible to men; obedience is of the conduct and may be observed. When a man obeys God he gives the only possible evidence that in his heart he believes God. Of course it is persuasion of the truth that results in faith (we believe because we are persuaded that the thing is true, a thing does not become true because it is believed), but peitho, in NT suggests an actual and outward result of the inward persuasion and consequent faith." [From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 254,255.] See ASSURANCE, B, No. 3.

Notice the contrast between the Greek word peitho and the Greek word peitharcheo which also means "obey": peitharcheo, [Verb, 3980] "to obey one in authority" (No. 2, and arche, "rule"), is translated "obey" in Acts 5:29,32; "to be obedient," Titus 3:1, RV (AV, "to obey magistrates"); in Acts 27:21, "hearkened." See HEARKEN.

The striking contrast is that in Hebrew 13:17 the obedience is due to "Persuasion" or "Winning over" by the Leader or Guide. Notice once again an excerpt from the above definition of peitho: The "obedience" suggested is not by submission to authority, but resulting from persuasion.

Now notice the meaning of the other word for "OBEY", peitharcheo : "to  obey one in authority", "to be obedient,". It appears that the "Obedience" mentioned here is subject to some kind of authority as examplified in Acts5:29, 32, "But Peter answering, and the apostles, said, God must be obeyed rather than men....And we are [his] witnesses of these things, and the Holy Spirit also, which God has given to those that obey him." (English-Darby).

Is it fair to say that a leadership role amongst the flock is one of humbleness of mind and heart. Would it be strectching it to say that a good leader or elder (See footnote below) leads by example and makes every effort to win the respect and love of his fellow brothers. Considering the example of the Nazarene, who was in the position to exercise all guidance and leadership the apostol Peter wrote at 1 Peter 5:2-4, "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be;  not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." (English-NIV )

Elder = (Greek presbuteros, [Adjective, 4245]) (3) in the Christian churches, those who, being raised up and qualified by the work of the Holy Spirit, were appointed to have the spiritual care of, and to exercise oversight over, the churches. To these the term "bishops," episkopoi, or "overseers," is applied (see Acts 20:17, 28, and Titus 1:5, 7) Vines Expository Dictionary of Bible words.


The Prayers of Children

 

Dear God,

I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday. That was cool! Eugene

Dear God,
Did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident? Norma

Dear God,
Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don't you just keep the ones you have now? Jane

Dear God,
Who draws the lines around the countries? Nan

Dear God,
I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that okay? Neil

Dear God,
Thank you for my baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy. Joyce

Dear God,
It rained for our whole vacation and is my father mad! He said some things about you that people are not supposed to say, but I hope you will not hurt him anyway. Your friend (but I am not going to tell you who I am)

Dear God,
Please send me a pony. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up. Bruce

Dear God,
If we come back as something, please don't let me be Jennifer Horton because I hate her. Denise

Dear God,
I want to be just like my daddy when I get big, but not with so much hair all over. Sam

Dear God,
I think about you sometimes, even when I'm not praying. Elliott

Dear God,
I bet it is very hard for you to love all the people in the world. There are only four people in our family and I can never do it. Nan

Dear God,
Of all the people who worked for you, I like Noah and David the best. Rob

Dear God,
My brothers told me about being born, but it doesn't sound right. They are just kidding, aren't they? Marsha

Dear God,
If you watch me in church Sunday, I'll show you my new shoes. Mickey

Dear God,
We read Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday school, we learned that you did it. So I bet he stole your idea. Sincerely, Donna

Dear God,
I do not think anybody could be a better God. Well, I just want you to know that I am not just saying this because you are God already. Charles

Dear God,
Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother. Shawn


THOUGHTS ON THE PROVERBS

[The Sin of Contempt]

Proverbs 14:21 -- The one despising his own fellowman is sinning, but happy is he who is showing favor to the afflicted ones.

Translations: NAB he sins who despises the hungry but happy is he who is kind to the poor

Cross References: see Proverbs11:12; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 28:27

NOTE: Surely James 2:15,16 and 1John 3:17 are commentaries on this verse. Jesus may have meditated on this proverb when he taught the words of Luke 6:30,35, 38. This is also the sin of ommission as seen in Jesus parable of Matthew 25:31ff.

[Paid in Their Own Code]

Proverbs 14:22 -- Will not those devising mischief go wandering about? But there are loving-kindness and trueness as regards those devising good.

Translations: BER: do they not go astray who plot mischief? Loyal love and stability are for those who plan good; MOF: good-natured men find people kind and true

Cross References: see Genesis 4:12 = Cain

NOTE: An example of a rhetorical question. Devise good or mischief and become a nomad or blessed with loyalty and truth.

 

[Toil or Talk]

Proverbs 14:23 -- By every kind of toil there comes to be an advantage, but merely the word of the lips [tends] to want.

Translations: BAS: talk only makes a man poor; AMP: in all labor there is profit but idle talk leads only to poverty; JB: hard work always yields its profit, idle talk brings only want KNX hard work is sure wealth; of chattering comes only poverty

Cross References: see Proverbs 12:24 and Proverbs 28:19

NOTE: Action not words makes for success. Though some talk show hosts, super-salesmen, and lecture circuit speakers would disagree with some trans of this vs, it is generally true as the Preacher says, good comes from hard work but those who lay around in the shade idly chatting do not produce anything of value. One sees such men in country after country, gathered in plazas, at corners, in bars, one railing with gestures and loud tongue about the ills of the country while others continue their hard work and bring home a profit. Advantage occurs 22 times in NWT with most (10) in Ecclesiastes. In the Christian Bible in occurs 6 times in the Corinthian letters. There almost appears a variant with Ecclesiastes 3:9 but note the harmony with Proverbs at Ecclesiastes 10:10,11.

[Crown of Dunce Cap]

Proverbs 14:24 -- The crown of the wise is their riches; the foolishness of the stupid ones is foolishness.

Translations: Most agree with the above but note MOF: the crown of wise men is their wisdom; the coronet of fools is their own folly (these tend to incline to the LXX)

Cross References: see Proverbs 27:22 = riches

NOTE: "If you’re so smart why aint you rich?" This proverb is generally true but with the coming of Christ there are those disciples of the Nazarene who have chosen to forsake riches in obedience to the Master’s teachings (Luke12:33) and parables (Matthew 13:44-46) and therefore their "riches" are of a spiritual nature with great "credit" in their heavenly reward. (Compare 1Timothy 6:5-19) Riches or rich. The word-group occurs 183 times in NWT with Proverbs dominating its use 24 times. In the Christian Bible it is Luke who uses it the most, 12 times and Ephesians 5 times. In these books of Luke and Ephesians it is spiritual wealth which is stressed.

[Unyielding Honesty]

[Two Kinds of Witnesses]

Proverbs 14:25 -- A true witness is delivering souls, but a deceitful one launches forth mere lies.

Translations: RHM: a deliver of souls is a faithful witness but he that uttereth falsehoods is a fraud; AAT: a truthful witness saves lives but he who utters lies destroys them; JB: a truthful witness is a saver of lives, he who utters lies is an impostor

Cross References: Proverbs 11:30 and Proverbs 14:5 deceit (Compare Leviticus 5:1)

NOTE: There are two kinds of witnesses here and a similarity to Philippians 1:15-18. A "true witness" delivers souls in a variety of ways: one by honest examination in judicial matters, but also, in truthful and straightforward counsel. (James 5:20) A "deceitful" witness is a liar, whether in a judicial environment or in the public market where rumors are spread by loose tongues.

[Trust Well Placed]

Proverbs 14:26 -- In the fear of Jehovah there is strong confidence, and for his sons there will come to be a refuge.

Translations: ABPS: strong trust; RHM: strong security; AAT: strong ground of confidence; NAB: strong defense

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 18:10 = name

NOTE: "His sons" are no doubt the father’s who has such confidence in Jehovah. The possibility that "his sons" refer to Jehovah’s is unlikely. The son-father relationship in worship was a rare expression not dominant until the coming of the Nazarene.

[Fear in a Well]

Proverbs 14:27 -- The fear of Jehovah is a well of life, to turn away from the snares of death.

Translations: RHM: the reverence of Yahweh; MOF: shows how to evade the nets of Death; NAB: strong defense

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 19:23 and Proverbs 22:5

NOTE: The unique expression "well of life" occurs only here and one other place in the NWT, Proverbs 16:22. See discussions elsewhere on the benfits of "the fear of Jehovah."

[A King’s Glory]

Proverbs 14:28 -- In the multitude of people there is an adornment of a king, but in the lack of population is the ruin of a high official.

Translations: LAM: in the abundance of population is the king’s honor; NEB: many subjects make a famous king; with none to rule a prince is ruined; RSV: without people a prince is ruined

CROSS REFERENCE: see Psalm 72:8 and Daniel 7:27 = Messiah’s subjects

NOTE: Upon this later principle Satan counted for if he could turn all earth’s inhabitants away from God it would prove Jehovah had no sovereign right to rule because He was without subjects. However, the kingdom of the Son has abounded with subjects since Pentecost and earth will yet team with billions of Messiah’s "people."

[Wisdom of Living Peaceably]

Proverbs 14:29 -- He that is slow to anger is abundant in discernment, but one that is impatient is exalting foolishness.

Translations: BAS: he who is slow to be angry has great good sense but he whose spirit is overquick gives support to what is foolish; AAT: quick-tempered

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 17:27 and Proverbs 25:28 = impatience

NOTE: Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion: "Expressing anger makes you angrier, solidifies an angry attitude, and establishes a hostile habit."

[Reward of Living Peaceably]

Proverbs 14:30 -- A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.

Translations: ASV: tranquil heart; SPRL: benevolent heart; RHM: the life of the whole body is a tranquil mind but a decay of the bones is jealousy; BER: a relaxed mind makes for physical health; JB: the life of he body is a tranquil heart but envy is a cancer in the bones

CROSS REFERENCE: Proverbs 4:23 = safeguard; Genesis 37:4 = Joseph’s brothers; 1 Samuels 18:8 = Saul

NOTE: Jealousy is slow death, like cancer, to its victim while at the same time injuring the object of such envy.

[You, Your Maker and the Poor]

Proverbs 14:31 -- He that is defrauding the lowly one has reproached his Maker, but the one showing favor to the poor one is glorifying Him.

Translations: ABPS: he that honors him has compassion on the needy; NAB: he who oppresses the poor blasphemes his Maker

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 17:5; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 22:2; Proverbs 28.8 and Job 31:15 = fraud

NOTE: This is not the sin of omission but outright fraud against those in need of help. Such a fraud in business is a reproach not only to God but the whole human race. The word group "fraud" occurs about 30 times in the NWT but make special note of Proverbs 22:16 and Proverbs 28:3, 16. See also Leviticus 6:4 and Acts 13:10.

[Final Ruin or Final Refuge]

Proverbs 14:32 -- Because of his badness the wicked will be pushed down, but the righteous will be finding refuge in his integrity.

Translations: KJ: the righteous hath hope in his death; LXX: a wicked man shall be driven away by his wickedness but in his sanctity the righteous is secure

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 2:7 and Proverbs 10:9

NOTE: No matter the course of life integrity is always a refuge and there is no danger in it whereas the badness of the wicked is fraught with danger.

[Where Wisdom is at Home]

Proverbs 4:33 -- In the heart of the understanding one there rests wisdom, and in the midst of stupid ones it becomes known.

Translations: NEB: wisdom is at home in a discerning mind but is ill at ease in the heart of a fool; KNX: in the discerning heart wisdom finds a resting-place; even among fools it can impart understanding; LXX: in the good heart of a man there is wisdom but in the heart of fools it is not discernable

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 15:28

NOTE: Because wisdom resides in the understanding heart it is capable of revealing wisdom among even the morally senseless. Many a stupid man has been transformed by the wise and understanding heart.

[A Nation’s Stature]

Proverbs 14:34 -- Righteousness is what exalts a nation, but sin is something disgraceful to national groups.

Translations: LB: sin is a reproach to any people; NAB: virtue exalts a nation but sin is a people’s disgrace

CROSS REFERENCE: see Deuteronomy 4:6 = great nation; Deuteronomy 9:5 = wicked nations

NOTE: Though righteousness exlated Israel on occasion in its history in the end it became a reproach to the Gentiles. In modern times certain nations by virtue of the enormity of their sin are still a disgrace among united nations. One need only mention such names as Nanking, Auschwitz, Nagasaki, Cambodia, Rwanda as proof of the lingering shame.


QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS

[This is reprinted from Nazarene Community. The list of qualifications is an on going subject covering several issues of Friends magazine.]

OVERSEER QUALIFICATIONS, CONTINUED ---

(3) MODERATE IN HABITS ---

#314. Cross References: see Proverbs 23:20 = drunkard

WORD: nephaleon temperate

#315. NOTE: Like their wives (or, deaconesses) the man who would be overseer must be characterized by his moderation in all matters of his Christian walk. His footsteps behind his Lord do not zigzag this way or that, but consistently follow the Master’s lead. When others think of him he is neither right or left, a liberal or a conservative -- but a moderate.

#316. All his habits, and he may have them, are not extreme or erratic, but pleasantly normal and regular in moderation. This would be seen in recreation, styles, eating and drinking, secular employment, and family living.

(4) SOUND IN MIND ---

#317. WORD: sophrona wise or prudent

Cross References: see Romans 12:2 = humility

#318. Translations: ASV: sober-minded; NASB: prudent; RSV: sensible; MOF: master of himself; TCNT: discreet; CON: self-restrained; BAS serious-minded.

#319. NOTE: Soundness of mind is a kissing cousin to moderation. It is reflected in healthy thinking, not led to extremes. This soundness is reflected first in spiritual matters where he is characterized by balance between zealous extremes and loose liberality. When others think of him they see a man who is sensible, prudent, and in control of himself.

(5) ORDERLY ---

#320. WORD: kosmion = well-behaved

Cross References: see Philippians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 14:33,40 = order

Translations: AMP: leading an orderly (disciplined) life; BAS: respect for order.

#321. NOTE: Moderation and soundness of mind will lead to an orderly, well-arranged life. This is not a lazy, sloppy man who is characterized by disorder or confusion. He is a man who is consistent in the management of his affairs so he can be trusted and relied upon to be punctual and well-managed. The word has the idea of "well-behaved" so he is known in the community as a mannerly man who is not involved in disorder or lawlessness.

(6) HOSPITABLE ---

#322. WORD: philoxenon loving strangers

Cross References: see Acts 28:7 = entertain; Romans 12:13 = share.

Translations: BAS: opening his house freely to guests.

#323. NOTES: The culture of the Middle East was famous for its hospitality to strangers or foreigners. In this the Christians even impressed people known for their hospitality. Thus, the man who would be an overseer must be characterized by this kind quality more than the general populace, or even the average Christian.

#324. The importance of hospitality is stressed by the Nazarene in two of his parables: the Good Samaritan and the illustration of the Sheep and Goats. The later, the goats, were characterized by an absence of hospitality.

#325. Hospitality is praised throughout the Bible: from Abraham’s treatment of the three angelic visitors, to Rahab’s reception of the Israelite spies, to little Zachaeus and his hospitality to our Lord. Hospitality means an open home which often sees the visits of strangers and the needy. The principle of the Nazarene -- love those not loving you -- limits this hospitality not to just friends and loved ones. (Luke 6:32-36) Note the Nazarene’s commandment regarding feasts and banquets. (Luke 14:12-14) Paul counsels: "Do not forget hospitality, for through it some, unknown to themselves, entertained angels." (Hebrews 13:2 NWT)

(7) QUALIFIED TO TEACH ---

#326. WORD: didaktikon skillful at teaching

Cross References: see James 3:1 = teacher; 2 Timothy 2:2, 22, 24 = qualified.

Translations: CON: skilled in teaching; NEB: a good teacher.

#327. NOTES: Teaching is one of the main duties of an overseer or elder, so the man who would take on this office must already be grounded in Christianity and Bible study. It takes years of serious Scriptural studies and spiritual meditations to master the Bible to a degree one may begin to teach it. As a teacher the overseer has the greatest teacher of all as a role model --- Jesus. The foundation of a good teacher is a firm grasp of Bible doctrine and principles.

#328. Teachers vary in knowledge, background, experience, and mental agility. Some can hold a great audience spell-bound for hours; while this same teacher does not do well one on one. Another man is a delight one on one but stumbles before large audiences. These are just different gifts in teaching, none greater than the other.

#329. Both Paul and Peter stress the overseer take his teaching responsibilities seriously which requires meditation and preparation. Note their counsels: "He that teaches, [let him be] at his teaching; or he that exhorts, [let him be] at his exhortation." (Romans 12:7, 8 NWT) "In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God's undeserved kindness expressed in various ways. If anyone speaks, [let him speak] as it were [the] sacred pronouncements of God; if anyone ministers, [let him minister] as dependent on the strength that God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 4:10, 11 NWT)

#330. At the same time teaching is a heavy responsibility and any man who embarks on this course ought to think long and hard about James’ warning: "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment. For we all stumble many times. If anyone does not stumble in word, this one is a perfect man, able to bridle also [his] whole body." (James 3:1, 2 NWT)


WHEN THAT WHICH IS PERFECT IS COME

In writing to the "church of God" which was "at Corinth," (1 Corinthians 1:2, KJV) Paul states, "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." (1 Corinthians. 13:10, KJV).

Many refer to this verse in support of the belief that tongues and prophesy no longer exist today. The purpose of this article is not to refute that belief, but merely to present another viewpoint for prayerful consideration.

At 1 Corinthians 13:2,8 Paul uses the words "prophecy," and "prophecies," which are translated from the Greek word propheteia (Strong’s #4394), and at 1 Corinthians 13:9, Paul uses "prophesy," i.e. propheteuo (Strong’s #4395). Before discussing "that which is perfect," let’s take a look at these two Greek terms. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, defines propheteia (#4394) as "prediction (scriptural or other)." Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., in The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament, states in reference to propheteia, "A prophecy is something that any believer may exercise as telling forth God’s Word. This, however, does not make him a prophet (prophetes [#4396] which is used in the New Testament in a very restrictive sense. A prophet prophesies, but one who prophesies is not necessarily a prophet." (Page 1242, Column. 2, paragraph 3) [bold mine for emphasis]

Strong’s defines propheteuo (#4395), as "to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office." In reference to propheteuo, Zodhiates states, "To tell forth God’s message, hence the noun prophetes (#4396), prophet, is the proclaimer, one who speaks out the counsel of God with the clearness, energy, and authority which spring from the consciousness of speaking in God’s name and having received a direct message from Him to deliver. Thus one may prophesy without being a prophet in the strict sense of the word." (Page 1244, Column 1, Paragraph 1) [bold mine for emphasis]

Therefore, in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul could very well be referring simply to those who have an extraordinary ability in speaking and proclaiming the word of God, not necessarily those who "predict" future events. In the former sense of the two terms then, "prophesy" has certainly not yet ceased. There are obviously those today, within the Nazarene Community, who clearly have the spiritual gift of speaking forth God’s word, and bringing it to paper.

It is also interesting to note that the word "gifts" (charisma, #5486) appears at

1 Corinthians 12:4, 9, 28, 30, 31, and not at all in 1 Corinthians 13. It means "a (divine) gratuity, i.e. deliverance (from danger or passion); (spec.) a (spiritual) endowment, i.e. (subj.) relig. qualification, or (obj.) miraculous faculty." (The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible) It does not always refer to "miraculous faculty." This is another indication that Paul may not necessarily be referring to miraculous abilities, such as the apostles themselves were given, but to the various personal God-given abilities each believer is endowed with through the Spirit for the edification, and the bringing to perfection of the "body." We must remember that it is written, "And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles." (Acts 2:43, ASV) [bold mine for emphasis] Paul even asks at 1 Corinthians 12:29, ". . . Not all perform powerful works, do they?" (NWT)

Throughout chapters 12 and 13 of 1 Corinthians, there are different Greek words translated "knowledge," "know," and "known." They are ginosko (#1097), gnosis (#1108), and epiginosko (#1921). Each of these words are used throughout the Christian Greek Scriptures, and although in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 they are used in conjunction with "gifts" of the Spirit, they are elsewhere used simply to convey "being aware, understanding, perceiving, recognizing, being fully acquainted with, etc." Therefore, "knowledge" in and of itself, is not necessarily a "miraculous faculty."

This understanding of "knowledge" is here mentioned in this article because Paul states, "For we have partial knowledge and we prophesy partially; but when that which is complete arrives, that which is partial will be done away with." (1 Corinthians 13:9-10, NWT) [bold and italics mine for emphasis] Paul states, "that which is partial will be done away with." This is clearly referring, at the very least, to both "prophesy" and "knowledge."

Let’s review the facts thus far: (1) "Gifts" do not necessarily refer to "miraculous faculty;" (2) the word "prophesy" many times refers to simply proclaiming or speaking forth God’s message, and is not always a reference to miraculously predicting the future; and (3) "knowledge," which is partial, and is to be done away with along with "prophesy," when "that which is perfect is come," is one of the very things we are exhorted to grow in!

It is written: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18, ASV) "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge." (2 Peter 1:5, KJV) "And this is what I continue praying, that your love may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment." (Philippians 1:9, NWT) "Why, for that matter, I do indeed also consider all things to be loss on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. On account of him I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ." (Philippians 3:8, NWT)

"That is also why we, from the day we heard [of it], have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the accurate knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual comprehension, in order to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing [him] as you go on bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the accurate knowledge of God." (Colossians 1:9-10, NWT) "This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, who’s will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth." (1 Timothy 2:3-4, NWT)

Jesus even said while praying to God, "This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ." (John 17:3, NWT)

So now, what is meant by "that which is perfect?" It is extremely important to know what "perfection" Paul is referring to, considering the fact that when it arrives, "prophesy," being partial, as well as "knowledge," also being partial, will be abolished. It is evident that both prophesy and knowledge are partial, "For ‘who has come to know the mind of Jehovah . . .?’ But we do have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16, NWT)

It is also written, and clearly has not yet fully come to pass, "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more." (Jeremiah 31:34, ASV)

Elsewhere it is written, and clearly has not yet fully come to pass, "They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea." (Isaiah 11:9, NWT)

The word translated "perfect" or "complete" at 1 Corinthians 13:10, is the Greek word teleios (#5046), which means "complete, finished, that which has reached its end, term or limit, wanting nothing necessary to completeness; consummate human integrity and virtue; of men, full grown, adult, of full age, mature."

Many believe "that which is perfect" refers to Christ himself. Perhaps it does. Many believe it is a reference to the Christian Greek Scriptures, which now makes "complete" God’s written word. Perhaps it is. Regardless of the present belief each one of us may have, in our quest for more and more accurate knowledge, we must be careful to consider, as much as possible, what the actual and most accurate meanings of the words "gifts," "prophesy," "knowledge," and "perfect" are, and then we must carefully examine the context of Paul’s discourse to see if "perfect" can mean something more in this particular case. It seems that Paul’s use here of the word "perfect" leans more towards the congregation, i.e. the "body" moving towards a state of maturity.

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle, among other things, addressed the issue of divisions forming within the congregation. (1 Corinthians 1:12-13) In chapter 12, Paul drives home the point that although the "body," i.e. the "congregation," has many members, it is nonetheless one "body." Each member is important and gifted differently. Although Paul mentions some of the various "gifts," he states, "yet I show you a surpassing way." (1 Corinthians 12:31, NWT)

It is evident from Paul’s discourse in this letter, and also in his letter to the Ephesians, that these gifts and the various offices are given for the perfecting of the body, "until we all attain to the oneness in the faith and in the accurate knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of the Christ; in order that we should no longer be babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in contriving error. But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ. From him all the body, by being harmoniously joined together and being made to cooperate through every joint that gives what is needed, according to the functioning of each respective member in due measure, makes for the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." (Ephesians 4:13-16, NWT)

Notice the similarity in Paul’s discourse to the Corinthians: "When I was a child,

I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become

a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly;

but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also

I was fully known. But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the

greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13: 11-13, ASV)

In chapter 13 Paul implies, in hyperbolic fashion, that even if he spoke in every human language, and even if he spoke the languages that angels speak, if he does not have love, he’s just making a lot of noise! Paul has now powerfully introduced the aforementioned "surpassing way." He drives home the preeminence of love, which is a product of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), over all other "gifts." He says, "Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:8, NWT).

Although he mentions some pretty awesome "gifts" (prophesy, knowledge, and different languages), which are for "the upbuilding of the congregation"

(1 Corinthians 14:12, NWT), his purpose seems not to dismiss these "gifts," but to show the supremacy of the "fruit" of love. Prophesy, the ability to speak different languages, and even knowledge, according to Paul, should be zealously sought (1 Corinthians 14:1), but above all, love should be pursued.

Certainly, we should desire to be able to mightily speak forth the word of God (prophesy), or to speak and interpret different languages (tongues), so that we can edify brothers and sisters who may not speak the same language we do; and we most certainly need to seek accurate knowledge, but above all, we must pursue love! As it is written, "...there should be no division in the body, but its members should have the same care for one another." (1 Corinthians 12:25, NWT)

Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves." (John 13:36, NWT) So, in all probability, Paul, in mentioning "that which is perfect," given the context of his discourse, is referring to the congregation itself, i.e. the "body," as it is moving toward perfection (completeness, maturity, becoming full grown). Just as it is written, "But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established." (Proverbs 4:18, NWT)

"Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18, ASV)

It is interesting to see some of the references in scripture where "love" and "perfection" are used in conjunction with one another:

Jesus said during his Sermon on the Mount, "You heard that it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous. For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing? You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48, NWT)

Jesus said during one of his prayers, "Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth. Just as you sent me forth into the world, I also sent them forth into the world. And I am sanctifying myself in their behalf, that they also may be sanctified by means of truth. I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word; in order that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, in order that the world may believe that you sent me forth. Also, I have given them the glory that you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one. I in union with them and you in union with me, in order that they may be perfected into one, that the world may have the knowledge that you sent me forth and that you loved them just as you loved me." (John 17:17-23, NWT)

Paul wrote to the congregation at Colossae, "Accordingly, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, [clothe yourselves with] love, for it is a perfect bond of union." (Colossians 3:12-14, NWT)

John wrote, "But whoever does observe his word, truthfully in this [person] the love of God has been made perfect. By this we have the knowledge that we are in union with him. He that says he remains in union with him is under obligation himself also to go on walking just as that one walked." (1 John 2:5-6, NWT)

John also wrote, "Beloved ones, if this is how God loved us, then we are ourselves under obligation to love one another. At no time has anyone beheld God. If we continue loving one another, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us. By this we gain the knowledge that we are remaining in union with him and he in union with us, because he has imparted his spirit to us. In addition, we ourselves have beheld and are bearing witness that the Father has sent forth his Son as Savior of the world. Whoever makes the confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, God remains in union with such one and he in union with God. And we ourselves have come to know and have believed the love that God has in our case. God is love, and he that remains in love remains in union with God and God remains in union with him. This is how love has been made perfect with us, that we may have freeness of speech in the day of judgment, because, just as that one is, so are we ourselves in this world."

(1 John 4:11-17, NWT)

In conclusion, while it certainly appears that "prophesy," i.e. the miraculous ability to predict future events has ceased, "prophesy," i.e. the ability or "gift" to powerfully and energetically speak forth God’s word has not, at least not until that which is perfect (mature, full-grown man) is come!

Let us continue then to pursue love, yet keep zealously seeking that we may prophesy (speak forth and declare powerfully and accurately the word of God), for he that prophesies, upbuilds and encourages and consoles men by his speech, and upbuilds the congregation. (1 Corinthians 14:1-4)


REGARDING HEBREWS 7:1-3

Hebrews 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; Hebrews 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Hebrews 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

It is suggested by some that verse three proves the Son of God was "without descent" and had no "beginning of days" and thus must be ‘eternally begotten’ or part of the plural triune Godhead.

If we assume that the Bible already teaches the full doctrine of the Trinity and Hebrews 7:3 is just another expression of this truth, then perhaps these phrase could be applied in such a manner without difficulty. On the other hand, if the Bible, including the Letter to the Hebrews, does not clearly express and define the Trinity doctrine, then it would not be unfair to state that Hebrews 7:3 would have to be understood in harmony with the context as well as the general thrust of Hebrews.

Before doing this type of examination we might firs examine the wording here in Hebrews 7:3. We ask regarding this priest of Salem to whom Abraham paid the tithe: was this human priest actually, "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life"? Would this not make Melchizedek himself something of God Himself? Does the writer of Hebrews mean that? Or, does he mean: this priest pops up in Genesis without any known father, mother, descend, beginning, or end IN THE WRITTEN RECORD?

Regarding the Son of God we wish to ask: was he "without father"? This could not be for Hebrews has already mentioned the "Father" of the Son, Jesus Christ. (See Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 5:5) Additionally, the very designation "Son" infers a "father" and Hebrews so described Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:1; Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 1:8; Hebrews 2:6; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 5:5, 8; Hebrews 6:6; Hebrews 7:28; Hebrews 10:29) Without argument the Jews would have believed that a father precedes a son and a son only exists because of procreation by the father.

We are interested in a couple of matters related to this question regarding Hebrews 7:3: 1) what has the letter to the Hebrews being trying to prove? 2) what has Hebrews already stated regarding the Son? 3) Did this "Son" have a "beginning" in any manner?

 

1) What has the writer of Hebrews been trying to prove to Jews of his day?

The proposition of Hebrews has been declared right in the introduction:

Hebrews 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hebrews 1:2 Hath in these last days aspoken unto us by his Son, whom bhe hath appointed heir of all things, cby whom also he made the worlds; Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express dimage of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, esat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Hebrews 1:4 fBeing made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance gobtained a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, hthis day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? Hebrews 1:6 And again, when he bringeth in the jfirstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

There are at least nine assertions or affirmations regarding Jesus Christ: a) first, in that first century of the Common Era, ‘God began to speak by His Son.’ It may be noted that verse one in Greek literally uses ho theos as the designation for the Father: The God. The article is there because in that ancient world there were "many gods" (1 Corinthians 8:5) Also, the Jews understood that theos may be used of lesser gods such as angels and judges. (Psalm 8:5; 82:1, 6) Without any explanation Hebrews introduces "The God" and "his Son." We know the Jews were strong monotheists (or, henotheists to be more accurate) and believed their Yehowah of the Hebrew Scriptures was "The God." Their teachers and philosophers also believed there was "a Son" as Psalm 2:1-7 so described the Messiah, or christened One.

b) The God has "appointed" his Son to a particular position and honor. Such an appointment would indicate to those Jews that this office or position was not enjoyed prior to the appointment.

c) The God made (or, created) the cosmos "by means of" (the Greek is di meaning through, by means of the agency of another). This idea of a Son being used in creation was also not unknown to the Jews of this period. They drew these conclusions based on Genesis 1:26 and Proverbs 8:22-30.

d) This Son was not the Father, not The God, but an "image" of Him. The Greek here is character which means an impress or imprint. Clearly what is harder or stronger imprints the softer. The idea of others being in the "image" of The God was understood by Genesis 1:26.

e) Upon his ascension to heaven the Son was enthroned beside The God, his Father. The Jews understood this on the basis of Psalm 2:6, 7 and Psalm 110:1.

f) By this appointment the Son now becomes "better than the angels." Later Hebrews 2:6-9 is to argue that the Son was made less than the angels (or, less than "god") when it quotes Psalm 8:5. [For a thorough discussion on this matter see the article attached at the end. Or, research Psalm 8:5 in NAZARENE COMMENTARY.] No Jew would have understood by this that the Son was God but that the Messiah on earth was "less than angels" and only upon his appointment did he "become better than angels."

g) Only by this does the Son now "inherit a better name" -- reputation, character, or authority.

h) At some point the Son was "begotten" in a special way by appointment to his throne in heaven as King. The phrase is a quotation of Psalm 2:6, 7.

j) This Son is called "firstbegotten" (proto-tokon) indicating there are others so begotten by the Father. Any Jew would understand the language to mean the Father preceded the Son and the Son only came into existence after the procreation of the Father.

2) What has Hebrews already stated regarding the Son?

Before Hebrews 7:3 what has the letter to the Hebrews already stated regarding this Son? Consider some verses in the second chapter:

Hebrews 2:6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? Hebrews 2:7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Hebrews 2:8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. Hebrews 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Hebrews 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. Hebrews 2:13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.

These Jews heard the writer of Hebrews state several things about this "son of man" who is later identified as Jesus: "aThou madest him a little lower than the angels; bthou crownedst him with glory and honour, and cdidst set him over the works of thy hands: dThou hast put all things in subjection under his feet." (Hebrews 2:7, 8)

Let us consider these four affirmations as Jews in the first century would: a) ‘The God (Yehowah) made His Son Jesus ‘lower than the angels.’ The writer has quoted Psalm 8:5 from the Jewish Greek Septuagint version which uses "angels" while the Hebrew uses elohim which may be rendered either "God" or "gods." [See attached notes; or, research Psalm 8:5 in NAZARENE COMMENTARY.]

b) The God Yehowah "crowned" the Son with glory and honor by installing him as King. (Psalm 2:6, 7; Psalm 110:1; compare Ephesians 1:19-22)

c) The God Yehowah "set" the Son over all His own works.

d) The God Yehowah purposed to subject everything under the Son’s feet. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Psalm 2:6, 7; Psalm 110:1)

Now the writer of Hebrews continues to show that the Son and his "brothers" all have the same source or origin. Note: "For it became ahim, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the bcaptain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both che that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of done: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them ebrethren." (Hebrews 2:10, 11 KJV)

a) First we note the God Yehowah (the "him" of verse 10; see Weymouth, Amplified) purposed to "bring many sons unto glory." b) The God Yehowah perfects "the captain" (or, His Son) through human "sufferings." c) The Son of God "sanctifies" these "many sons" through his own sufferings. d) The "Captain" and these "sons" are all "one." Indicating these are all of one kind or type some translations render this: Rotherham: are all of One; Confraterinity: have all one Father; Basic English: are all of one family; Moffatt: have all one origin. e) these (the captain and the many sons) are all "brothers" and therefore sons of The God Yehowah.

This "captain" (the Son of Yehowah), following his sufferings and enthronement became a "high priest." The writer of Hebrews continues:

 

Hebrews 3:11 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

The Son did not appoint himself as high priest but was called by The God (ton theon). To prove his point the writer of Hebrews quotes two texts: Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:4. Note this:

 

Hebrews 5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but ahe that said unto him, bThou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. Hebrews 5:6 As he saith also in another place, cThou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

The Son does not glorify himself for it is The God Yehowah who calls and appoints him. That a Son of God would also become a "priest" the writer quotes the two verses in the Psalms. Examine the above: a) it is the God Yehowah who speaks to His Son; b) at his enthronement at the right hand of his God in heaven

(Revelation 3:12, 21) Jesus becomes a Son, begotten on that day; and, c) The God Yehowah declares his Son to be a priest similar to the ancient king of Salem, Melchizedek.

What was required of this Son in order to become such a priest is next explained:

 

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto ahim that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet blearned he obedience by the things which he suffered; Hebrews 5:9 And cbeing made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Hebrews 5:10 dCalled of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

a)The writer of Hebrews explains that during "the days of his flesh" he prayed most earnestly to the only one who could save him from death, his Father, the God Yehowah. b) This Son learned something new; c) this Son was "made perfect"; and, d) after which his God Yehowah "called" him to become a priest like Melchizedek. We note this Son was not like this priest Melchizedek before his calling. Jesus, the Son of God, was to be the first to go "within the (heavenly) veil." Note this:

 

Hebrews 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Hebrews 6:20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Only now with his entry into heaven, "within the veil," does the Son become a high priest like Melchizedek.

Now the writer of Hebrews draws comparisons between the exalted Son and the ancient human priest and king of Salem. He draws on Genesis 14:18 when he writes:

 

Hebrews 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, apriest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; Hebrews 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation bKing of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Hebrews 7:3 cWithout father, dwithout mother, ewithout descent, having neither fbeginning of days, nor gend of life; but hmade like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

The writer of Hebrews makes several comparisons: a) the Son is a priest of the Most High God who is elsewhere identified as Yehowah.

b) the Son is not only a priest but also a king identified with righteousness and peace. (Isaiah 9:6, 7)

c) Now the writer of Hebrews says Melchizedek was "without father." From what standpoint does he mean this? If Melchizedek be a human king of Salem (Jewish tradition teaches Melchizedek may be Shem, son of Noah.) then in reality he did have a father and a mother in Adam and Eve, the later being described as "the mother of all living." We are puzzled: for in what way would the Son be "without father"? For all through Hebrews it has been argued Jesus is the Son of God who clearly had a Father. (Hebrews 1:1)

d) Indeed, Jesus was not actually without a "mother" for in the process of becoming "flesh" (Hebrews 5:7) he was "born of a woman." (Galatians 4:4)

e) It is true we cannot prove or find the "descent" of Melchizedek in the book of Genesis. He just shows up as it were in the account with Abraham. However, Jesus did have a "descent" which is recorded in Matthew chapter one and Luke chapter three. Indeed, Hebrews 7:14 reports: "For it is quite plain that our Lord has sprung up out of Judah, a tribe about which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests."

f) Did the writer of Hebrews actually mean in absolute truth that the human king Melchizedek had no "beginning"? Would this make Melchizedek himself equal to God?

g) Did the writer of Hebrews mean in reality Melchizedek the human king of Salem never died? Elsewhere he writes about those in the Book of Genesis: "In faith all these died, although they did not get the [fulfillment of the] promises." (Hebrews 11:13) It would seem strange that he would not mention the one person in Genesis who "had no end."

h) In what manner was Melchizedek "made like unto the Son"?

Are we forced to accept what the writer of Hebrews speaks in a most literal fashion without giving him some latitude in the comparison he draws? Some argue from Hebrews 7:3 that the Son Jesus Christ is ‘without father, descent, or beginning’ for according to their belief the Son is part of the plural God who exists in Three Persons. We must admit that no where in Hebrews does the writer introduce such a Trinitarian idea. We must admit that the writer of Hebrews has been trying to prove that the Son, though made lower than God (Psalm 8:5), has become better than the angels. He has been arguing that such a Son was appointed to his office as priest.

 

3) Did this "Son" have a "beginning" in any manner?

May we raise the question whether the Son was begotten, created, or had an origin? There can be no question that the Son of God was "begotten" for Hebrews 1:5, 6. In addition to this we have seen from the second chapter that the writer of Hebrews believes Jesus and his "brothers" all have the same source or origin. Additionally, the writer of Hebrews points to the fact that Jesus become the Son in the fullest since upon his resurrection and enthronement. (Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 5:5; Hebrews 10:12, 13; compare also Romans 1:4; Acts 13:33)

What does the Bible mean by "begotten" in this context of the Son? There is a series of verses which combine the word "create" and "begotten" in the same breath. (This text was always applied to the pre-existent life of Jesus Christ by the earliest church fathers.) Consider Proverbs 8:22-30:

 

Proverbs 8:22 The LORD created me [NJB, LXX; JPS: made; NAB: begot], at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Proverbs 8:23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. Proverbs 8:25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth [LXX: begotten; LAM: conceived]. Proverbs 8:30 then I was beside him [John 1:1; John 17:4], like a master workman; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always. (RSV)

 

For details on these verses as well as commentary by scholars and early church fathers research the words created me or Proverbs 8:22 in NAZARENE COMMENTARY. It seems fair to conclude that the Son was "created" and this was how he was "begotten." In addition to this Paul asserts that the Son was created when he writes: "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." Colossians 1:15 KJV)

May we ask in view of this if the Son had a "beginning"? It seems obvious that a father exists before his son, so that there was a time when only the father existed until the son was procreated. Thus just from the designations given the Father and the Son there must be a time when the Father existed alone and thereafter the Son came into existence. Revelation 3:14 makes it clear from a literal rendering from the Greek that the Son had a "beginning" for the verse reads: "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God." It seems fair and reasonable to conclude that the Son did have a "beginning."

Now, may we speak of the Son as having an "origin" -- something that could not be said if he had existed from all eternity. "Origin" is not a word that can be used of God. We note that, indeed, the word "origin" is used to describe the beginning of the Son of God. We find it in a context which is applied to Jesus by the inspired writer Matthew. (Matthew 2:6) Micah 5:1, 2 reads: "But you, O Bethlehem Eph'rathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days." On the scholarship of rendering this Hebrew word "origin" see Gesenius and other translations in NAZARENE COMMENTARY.

SUMMARY

Thus, we have discovered that the Son was begotten, created, and thus had an origin unlike God. On the basis of the context and arguments in the Letter to the Hebrews, as well as what the rest of the Bible teaches on the subject of the Son’s beginning, how are we to understand Hebrews 7:3?

"Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually." Giving the writer of Hebrews some literary latitude and not forcing his words into an inconsistent literality, we understand the verse to draw on the unusually appearance in Genesis of the human king-priest Melchizedek: from the standpoint of his occurrence in the account about Abraham, the man is "without a father who can be named, a mother who can be identified. Also there is no beginning to his story, nor any record of the end of his life. Literally none of this contrasts in any absolute way with Jesus Christ. It seems the main thrust is that, like Melchizedek, the priesthood of the Son is not based on his genealogy (something repeated in Hebrews 7:14), nor his beginnings, but on the call of God. In addition since the Genesis account reports no end to Melchizedek the Son is a "priest forever." (Psalm 110:5)

 


Nazarene Saints Publishing

Write us at:

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

Back to the Main Newsletter Page

Copyright (C) 1999 All Rights Reserved
Reproductions may be made
as free gifts to friends and relatives.