The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

Volume 2 -- May 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 creed. We view this "God-breathed" book as inspired alone, while the thoughts of men about it are not. We wish to respect the views of our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15) The Friends of the Nazarene web page is www.nazarene-friends.org . [Mark Miller / Senior Editor (USA West coast); Ralph Slaney / Senior Spanish editor (Europe); Alberto Padilla / Associate Spanish Editor (USA Northeast); Andy Weeks / Associate Editor [Webmaster] (USA midwest).]


IN THIS ISSUE ---

1. ARE THE TWO PROPHETS AMONG US?

2. ANNOUNCEMENTS

3. THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: LOVE

4. FAITH PERSPECTIVES

a. Encouragement

b. Viewpoint on the Great Crowd

5. WHO ARE IN THE "NEW COVENANT"?

6. THOUGHTS ON PROVERBS

7. QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS

8. 1999 REPORT ON ANNUAL ELDERS’ CONFERENCE


ARE THE "TWO PROPHETS" AMONG US?

Revelation 11:4-13 (KJV) predicts that "two witnesses" (later called "two prophets" Revelation 11:10) will manifest themselves during the three and a half year period of Great Oppression just prior to the Parousia of our Lord Messiah. Are these "two prophets" among us now? Who are these two? How can we identify them? How can we pinpoint the prophetic moment when they will appear?

Who are the "Two Prophets"?

We propose here at the beginning that the "two prophets" are symbolic of that class of Christians who are alive when the Lord returns. In other words, these "two prophets" include those Paul identifies as "we the living who survive to the Parousia of the Lord" at 1 Thessalonians 4:16. We propose that three chapters of Revelation precisely describe the same three and a half years of Great Oppression which precede the Parousia. These chapters are eleven, twelve, and thirteen. They may be viewed as overlays which may be applied to each other as they view this period from different prophetic angels. In this process these chapters provide details based on Daniel chapter seven where the period three and a half years first occurs in the context of "the People who are the Saints of the Most High." (Daniel 7:21, 27)

First, we consider it appropriate to begin with the context itself where the "two prophets" are mentioned in the Book of Revelation. From these cryptic verses we can glean prophetic hints as to their identity. First consider Revelation 11:1-3.

Revelation 11:1 "And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. Revelation 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. Revelation 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."

We focus on a precise period of time mentioned in all three chapters of Revelation. Here the Two Prophets have an experience lasting 42 months or 1,260 days which equals three years and six months. During this period they prophesy in sackcloth -- a symbol of grief -- apparently while being trampled underfoot by the "nations" (Gentiles) as worshippers within the "courtyard" of the Temple of God. Verse 2 would seem to infer that the Two Prophets are some how connected to, or citizens of, the Holy City New Jerusalem to appear in detail later. (Compare Hebrews 12:22, 23)

Jesus had promised to the faithful members of the Philadelphia ecclesia: ""Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name." [Revelation 3:12 (KJV)] It seems fair to conclude that while on earth these loyal disciples of the Nazarene are not yet in the Temple but worship in that "courtyard outside the Temple." Just so, they are prospective inhabitants of the New Jerusalem, "citizens" of heaven. (Ephesians 2:19-21; Philippians 3:20)

This special period of three and a half years finds its source first in Daniel 7:21-25, and thereafter, Daniel 12:7. This prophetic root helps us identify who the Two Prophets stand for. Daniel 7:21-25 and 12:7 read in part :

Daniel 7:21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; [ Daniel 12:7 that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.] Daniel 7:22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Daniel 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time [A Hebrew way of saying "three and a half years."]. Daniel 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." [Daniel 7:21, 22, 25, 27 (KJV)]

It does not seem taking matters out of context to see here something exactly like Revelation 11:1-4 -- here in Daniel it is the "saints of the Most High" who are oppressed by the 11th Horn for exactly the same length of time given in all three chapters of Revelation (11, 12, 13) -- three and a half years. From this it would seem clear that the Two Prophets are a prophetic metaphor for those "Saints" on hand at this critical moment in Biblical history.

We arrive at this same conclusion by comparing chapters twelve and thirteen of Revelation. These also mention this same time period, both in the context of an oppression. For example, consider Revelation 13:5-7 and compare it with Daniel 7:21-25 and Revelation 11:1-3:

Revelation 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies [compare Daniel 7:8, 20, 25]; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months [compare Revelation 11:2]. Revelation 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. Revelation 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints [compare Daniel 7:21], and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. Revelation 13:10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." [Revelation 13:5-7, 10 (KJV)]

Again the parallels and similarities seem to lead to the conclusion that the Two Prophets symbolize the "end-time" Saints who experience the Great Oppression of three and a half years. It would appear that the Two Prophets are a "remnant" left on earth at the historic moment when the Lord returns to rescue the Saints from that oppression by that one who fulfills the role of the Eleventh Horn or Small Power of Daniel and the Wild Sea Beast of Revelation. That the Two Prophets are a "remnant" is seen in Revelation 12:6, 13, 14, 17:

Revelation12:6 And the woman [The Holy City New Jerusalem of Revelation 11:2] fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days [three and a half years]. Revelation12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman [the Holy City’s courtyard "citizens"] which brought forth the man child. Revelation12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [three and a half years], from the face of the serpent. Revelation12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war [compare Daniel 7:21 and Revelation 13:5] with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." [Revelation 12:6, 13, 14, 17 (KJV)]

Again it seems fair -- and not at all ‘twisting Scripture’ -- to see that the Two Prophets of chapter eleven, the Saints of chapter thirteen, are the same as the "remnant of the woman’s seed." Thus we may summarize by stating that the Two Prophets are indeed those Paul describes as "we the living" at 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 which are the same as the "great crowd" of Revelation 7:9-17 -- Saints who survive the Great Oppression. (Compare Matthew 24:20, 21, 29-31 and Daniel 7:21-25; 12:1)

What do the Two Prophets Experience During the Great Oppression?

Jesus alludes to Daniel 12:1 when he mentions "a great oppression of a type not occurring from the beginning of the world until now and will never occur again." (Matthew 24:21) The "great oppression" here is the Greek thlipsis megale as it is in Revelation 7:14 (thlipseos tes megales). (Compare Daniel 12:1 in the LXX = thlipseos) Many render thlipsis at Revelation 7:14 as "tribulation" (KJV) which conveys to some that it is a tribulation brought on the world by God. However, others note that the root of this Greek word is to "press" and thus render the word "affliction" (KNX) or "persecution" (TCNT; WMS). This would harmonize with the prophetic contexts above that this "great oppression" is not against the world but against the Saints, or "chosen ones." Since the English word "oppression" is closer to the Greek thlipsis we prefer it.

How can we further identify the Two Prophets? How is their prophecy described? What happens to them at the end of the three and a half years of Great Oppression. Let us consider further verses in Revelation 11:4-6 --

Revelation 11:4 "These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. Revelation 11:5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. Revelation 11:6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will."

First, we note the Two Prophets are compared to "two olive trees and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." This cryptic phrase is really a quotation of Zechariah 4:2-14 and Zechariah 6:11-13 --

Zechariah 4:2And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: Zechariah 4:3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. Zechariah 4:4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Zechariah 4:5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Zechariah 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD [YHWH] unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD [YHWH] of hosts. Zechariah 4:7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone [of the Temple] thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Zechariah 4:8 Moreover the word of the LORD [YHWH] came unto me, saying, Zechariah 4:9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this [Temple] house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD [YHWH] of hosts hath sent me unto you. Zechariah 4:10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD [YHWH], which run to and fro through the whole earth. Zechariah 4:11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? Zechariah 4:12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? Zechariah 4:13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Zechariah 4:14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. ... Zechariah 6:11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; Zechariah 4:12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD [YHWH] of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD [YHWH]: Zechariah 6:13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD [YHWH]; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." [Zechariah 4:1-14; 6:11-13 (KJV)]

We see clear connections between Revelation 11:1-4 and Zechariah 4:1-14 -- the context is the building of Yahweh’s Temple. It also seems fair to conclude that the "two anointed ones" are the Jewish Governor Zerubbabel and Priest Joshua. Thus the Two Prophets (the end-time Saints) act as representatives of the true Branch and King, Jesus Christ who is the builder and architect of the "the greater and more perfect Tent." (Hebrews 9:11) Lord Messiah serves in both offices as King and Priest (Hebrews 7:2-26) and will one day be joined by his entire Body of Saints, his Church, who will become "kings and priests" during his Millennial Reign. (Revelation 5:9, 10; 20:4) Even while serving on earth -- within the spiritual "courtyard" -- they are seen by Peter as "living stones" and to some extent "kings an priests." (1 Peter 2:9; compare Ephesians 2:19-22; Revelation 1:6, "He made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father"; Revelation 5:9, 10: "You made them a kingdom and priests to our God and they are reigning upon the earth.")

However, there are two other famous Biblical men identified with the Two Prophets. We note above that during the three and a half years of their prophesying the Two Prophets are described -- a) fires issues from their mouths and devours their enemies; and, b) as shutting up the rain of heaven for three and a half years. These two characteristics identify the prophet Elijah who was used as an instrument to do exactly those things described in Revelation 11:5, 6. (Compare 2 Kings 1:10; 1 Kings 17:1)

The account in First Kings does not reveal the exact length of time of this drought. However, Jesus does. In Luke 4:25 the Nazarene gives the period as three and six months. His inspired disciple James gives the same period. (James 5:17) Based on this it seems fair to conclude that from one standpoint the Two Prophets are like Elijah. Elijah was foretold to make his appearance at some prophetic moment. (Malachi 4:5) To this day in many Jewish homes a special empty chair is left at Passover in case Elijah should return.

What was it about Elijah that we can find in the Two Prophets (that is, the end-time Saints)? First, their message is a torment to others like fire descending from heaven. (There is something of the Trumpet Blasts 1-4 here.) Elijah does this on one occasion in order to prove that the true God is Yahweh or Jehovah. (1 Kings 18:20-40 NJB) Also, Elijah is associated with 7,000 fellow worshippers of Yahweh who have refused to bow to Baal. Elijah is hounded and persecuted and he runs to hide alone in a desert cave where he is fed by ravens. (1 Kings 17:2-6; compare Revelation 12:14.) ) Later he feels completely alone when Yahweh reveals there are 7,000 others. (1 Kings 19:10, 14, 18).

Judging from Revelation 13:5-10 the Two Prophets (the end-time Saints) will have to endure great oppression, including executions and concentration camps. None may buy or sell without the mark of the beast. This must place great burdens on those who are "the least of Messiah’s brothers" in the parable of the sheep and goats, finding some without food, drink, proper clothing, and in prison. (Matthew 25:31-46) Surely, there will be times when these Saints feel alone like Elijah. While prophesying the fiery word of God (Jeremiah 23:29), and fearlessly declaring the judgment upon those who worship the wild Sea Beast, they can draw comfort from Elijah’s own experience, knowing there at least 7,000 others who are true friends of the Nazarene. But, there is another Biblical character which adds to the identity of the Two Prophets.

We note in Revelation 11:6 the Two Prophets also, a) can turn water into blood; and, b) strike the earth with various plagues. We cannot help but remember the trumpets in Revelation 8:7, 8. But, more we cannot read this verse without thinking of Moses. Just as Moses brought plagues upon ancient Egypt, the Two Prophets will do something similar by their prophesying to a spiritual Egypt. (Revelation 11:8) We see striking similarities with the plagues on Egypt in the seven trumpets at Revelation chapters 8 and 9 as well as later the plagues which befall Babylon the Great in Revelation chapters 16 and 17.

Moses was also the main instrument in revealing the Name of God Yahweh as well as delivering the Israelites out of Egypt. Surely, the Two Prophets must be willing to identify themselves with the Name of God as well as the means of salvation, the redemptive sacrifice by the "blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 12:11; 15:3, 4)

So, in summary thus far, we see that the Two Prophets are the corporate body of the Remnant, those "Saints of the Most High" in Daniel 7:21, 22. (Revelation 13:5-7) Though suffering the great oppression brought upon them by the wild Sea Beast (the Eleventh Small Horn of Daniel) they fearlessly trumpet the messages of Revelation chapters 8 and 9. Now, having endure faithfully -- though some will be martyred (Revelation 6:9-11; 13:10) -- what happens at the close of the three and a half years of Great Oppression?

Triumphant Victory at the Parousia of Lord Messiah!

The great oppression cannot begin until after the wild Sea Beast "ascends out of the abyss" having experience a "sword stroke" followed by a healing or revival. (Revelation 11:7; 13:1, 3, 12, 14; 17:8-11) At the end of three and a half years of oppression the Two Prophets (the end-time Saints) are "killed." Let us consider these verses in Revelation 11:7-10 -- 

Revelation 11:7 "And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. Revelation 11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city [Babylon], which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Revelation 11:9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. Revelation 11:10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth." [Revelation 11:7-10 (KJV)]

It seems obvious that the outcome to the Two Prophets is known by "the people, kindreds, tongues, and nations" [Compare Revelation 13:7, 8, 16.] so there is a global awareness that for all appearances the wild Sea Beast has brought an end to genuine Christianity. We, of course -- possible future members of this Two Prophet class -- greatly desire to know if this means a literal death to every one of the "Saints of the Most High"? There is a clue to our answer.

Note the next verse:

Revelation 11:11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life [Greek = pneuma zoes; exactly as at Ezekiel 37:5 LXX] from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them." [Revelation 11:11 (KJV)]

The phrase, "the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet," is borrowed from Ezekiel 37:5, 10. This will answer our question whether this ‘killing’ is literal or figurative. Compare now Ezekiel 37:1-14 --

Ezekiel 37:1 The hand of the LORD [Yahweh] was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD [Yahweh], and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, Ezekiel 37:2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. Ezekiel 37:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord [Yahweh] GOD, thou knowest. Ezekiel 37:4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD [Yahweh]. Ezekiel 37:5 Thus saith the Lord GOD [Yahweh] unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath [Greek LXX = pneuma zoes; exactly as at Revelation 11:11] to enter into you, and ye shall live: Ezekiel 37:6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath [Greek LXX = pneuma] in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD [Yahweh]. Ezekiel 37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. Ezekiel 37:8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath [Greek LXX = pneuma] in them. Ezekiel 37:9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind [Greek LXX = pneuma], prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind [Greek LXX = pneuma], Thus saith the Lord GOD [Yahweh]; Come from the four winds, O breath [Greek LXX = pneumati], and breathe [Greek LXX = pneumaton] upon these slain, that they may live. Ezekiel 37:10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath [Greek LXX = pneuma] came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Ezekiel 37:11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Ezekiel 37:12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD [Yahweh]; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Ezekiel 37:13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD [Yahweh], when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, Ezekiel 37:14 And shall put my spirit [Greek LXX = pneuma] in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD [Yahweh] have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD [Yahweh]."

[Ezekiel 37:1-14 (KJV)]

The phrase above in Ezekiel 37:10 in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) is identical to the Greek of Revelation 11:11. Thus we are not speculating or distorting the prophetic context if we judge from this that the ‘killing’ of the Two Prophets is not literal. The dead Israelite bones above in Ezekiel pictured the "lost hope" of Israel -- a dried up state judging from only a human perspective. This is also something of the state or condition of that apocalypse New Israel (Galatians 6:15) in Revelation 11:7-10. The whole earth sees what appears to be the wild Sea Beast’s victory in its war of oppression against the Two Prophets (end-time Saints) and for all practical purposes genuine Christianity has ended. The wild Sea Beast has executed, imprisoned, or possibly driven completely underground those symbolized by this Two Prophet class of end-time Saints. However, this earth-wide rejoicing is misplaced as seen from the next verses. 

Revelation 11:12 "And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. Revelation 11:13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city [Babylon the Great] fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." [Revelation 11:12 (KJV)]

The language of verse 12 is so similar to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 to judge that this resuscitation to heaven is actually the Rapture. (Note: The word "rapture" is based on Jerome’s Fourth Century Latin Vulgate version of 1 Thessalonians 4:16.] If we combine in a conflate related verses from Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonians we end up with language very similar to that in the Book of Revelation. Consider --

2 Thessalonians 1:5 "Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 2 Thessalonians 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation [Greek, thlibousin] to them that trouble [Greek = thlipsin = oppress] you; 2 Thessalonians 1:7 And to you who are troubled [oppressed] rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels [compare Matthew 24:29-31; Luke 17:30], 2 Thessalonians 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Thessalonians 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; [2 Thessalonians 2:1by the coming [Greek = parousia = Presence] of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him (compare Matthew 24:29-31)] 2 Thessalonians 1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. ... 1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [or, precede] them which are asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the [Seventh] trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words." [2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 (KJV);1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (KJV)]

It seems fair to conclude that the rapture is very much associated with tribulation or oppression in the verses above. The Nazarene makes it clear that this angelic gathering (by resurrection and rapture) occurs after the "great oppression." Note his words at Matthew 24:20, 21, 29-31 --

Matthew 24:21 "For then shall be great tribulation [Compare Revelation 7:14; Daniel 12:1], such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's [the Two Prophets; end-time Saints] sake those days shall be shortened. ... Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun 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: Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet [Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:50-52; Revelation 11:15], and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. ... so shall also the coming [Greek = parousia = Presence] of the Son of man be. ....Matthew 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. [Compare Revelation 11:12, 13] Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." [Matthew 24:21, 22, 29-31, 40-43 (KJV)]

First, there is a "great oppression" following which Lord Messiah returns to gather his Saints from all over the globe -- some asleep (Luke 17:34) and some working. (Luke 17:35) This pattern fits the apocalyptic one in Revelation chapters 11, 12, and 13. What happens though at this moment within the great city Babylon where the remnant of New Israel were held bondage?

Revelation 11:13 "And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city [Babylon the Great] fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven."

The Two Prophets are within the "great city" Babylon as Revelation 11:8 has shown. The only way the end-time Saints can escape Babylon is by a miraculous rescue just as it occurred in ancient times to those Jews who were released out of that ancient city Babylon on the Euphrates. This divine rescue is foretold by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. Consider their prophecies [Isaiah 48:20 (KJV); Isaiah 49:9-10 (KJV); Jeremiah 51:6 (KJV)]:

Isaiah 48:20 Go ye forth [Greek LXX = exelthhe] of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans. Isaiah 49:9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth [Greek LXX: exelthate]; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. Isaiah 49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them [Compare Revelation 14:4, 5.]. Isaiah 52:11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. Isaiah 52:12 For ye shall not go out [Greek LXX = exelthate] with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward. Jeremiah 51:6 Flee out of [Greek LXX = exelthate] the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD'S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence."

These delivered Jews did not leave Babylon piece-meal. They did not dribble out slowly, or one at a time over an eighty year period; but altogether as one united body with the purpose of restoring the Temple. Their leaving Babylon was as a group. This is similar to the deliverance of the end-time Saints out of that apocalyptic Babylon the Great in the Book of Revelation. Note how Revelation describes the triumphant event:

Revelation 18:4 "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."

The phrase "Come out of," is exelthate in the Greek. It is the same word used in the texts above from Isaiah and Jeremiah. This is a resounding call by a celestial Voice. It speaks of deliverance. Surely, this is the same Voice who once called to his dear friend Lazarus, "’Lazarus, come on out!And the dead man came out." (John 11:43, 44) This later phrase is drawn from the Greek exelyhen. Surely, this is the Voice the Christian dead are to hear! (John 5:28) This surely is that "commanding voice" in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 heard by the living Saints.

At this historic and prophetic moment -- as Babylon is seized by a great seismic phenomenon (Revelation 11:13; 6:12-14; 16:) -- a very small percentage of Babylon’s inhabitants are delivered, something of a "remnant" who had been declared "dead" by their enemies. Consistent with this Revelation 11:13 says, "A tenth [Greek = dekatou] of the city (of Babylon) fell and seven thousand names were killed."

What can this mean? To whom do these cryptic terms apply? Let us examine them with a heart thrilled with the idea of deliverance. Consider Isaiah 6:13 where a "tenth" refers to a remnant which is preserved: "But while a tenth part [Greek LXX = epi-dekaton) yet remains in it, it shall repent." This may indicate that "tenth" in Revelation 11:13 refers to the delivered (raptured) Remnant as that part of collapsed Babylon.

The second number in Revelation 11:13 also points to a Remnant. The number 7,000 we have already considered in the context of Elijah. Based on this it would seem that the number would deal with those who had not worshipped the wild Sea Beast and its apocalyptic number. We remember that Paul quoted from 1 Kings 19:10-18 at Romans 11:4, 5 and applies the "7,000" to a "remnant" in Paul’s own day. Thus, it does not seem unreasonable to view the number as applying to that same "remnant" mentioned in Revelation 12:17. What of those others still in Babylon?

Revelation 11:13 also refers to some "left-over" who now "fear God" and "give Him glory." Thus, as witnesses of this rapture there are those within Babylon, former enemies, who repent. Though the King James Version uses the word "remnant" the Greek is really "those left over" (loipoi). This reminds us of those "left behind" or "abandoned" in Matthew 24:40, 41 -- those who miss the Rapture but whose experience is not lost on them resulting in their repentance. It is possible these become part of those "nations" which survive into the Thousand Year reign of Messiah, free of the Devil’s influence. (Revelation 20:3; 21:24 KJV)

Upon the deliverance of the Two Prophets (end-time Saints) what worthy announcement is most timely? What will the Seventh Trumpet triumphantly make clear? Read Revelation 11:15-18 to see for yourself:

Revelation 11:15 "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. Revelation 11:16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Revelation 11:17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord [YHWH] God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. Revelation 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. Revelation 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament." [Revelation 11:15-19 (KJV)]

Now has arrived that moment our Lord the Nazarene had warned his disciples about: the need to remain awake and alert in expectation of his sudden Coming. (Matthew 24:42-51; Luke 12:35-40) It is the appointed time of the parousia-judgment: the Master has returned and begins to judge his own Household of faith. It is that time Paul and John wrote about: "For it is a necessity that we all appear in front of the Judgment-Seat of the Messiah so that we might be awarded for those things done while in the (physical) body, whether good things or vile things. ... And now, little children, remain in him so that whenever he becomes visible we might speak freely (in the day of judgment) and not be ashamed before him at his Parousia [presence]." (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28; 4:17; Compare Daniel 12:2 and John 5:29)

It is the wonderful moment to reward those Christian slaves and prophets who feared the Divine Name -- the Saints of all periods during the Gospel Age -- and thereafter to ruin those who have ruined the earth. Those liberated Saints, now part of the Church Triumphant, will return with their Lord for Armageddon. (Revelation 17:14)

Here is where it means the endurance of the Saints

Are the Two Prophets among us now? That will depend on future developments on the prophetic horizon. They may will be gathering now. But, world and historic events must continue to point to that moment when the Great Oppression bursts upon the Christian world in the worst Holocaust ever experienced by mankind. The Great Oppression will be a horror of an experience worst than anything which befell the Christians of the first two centuries. Whether we are privileged to be sealed as martyrs as part of the Two Prophets only the future will reveal. it is possible we are nearing that foretold prophetic horizon.

Whether we experience the Great Oppression ourselves, what will ensure final victory? There are several factors highlighted in the Book of Revelation. Revelation 13:10 counsels, "Here is where it means the endurance and faith of the Saints." Consider some of the following factors which will guarantee the approval of the Father and His anointed Son.

Revelation 12:10 "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by (1) the blood of the Lamb, and by (2) the word of their testimony; and (3) they loved not their lives unto the death. Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which (4) keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 14:4 These are they which (5) follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth."

Here are five important attributes of those who will prove to faithful end-time Saints enduring he test of the Great Oppression.

(1) The Lamb’s protective blood and conviction in its power is paramount. The "large crowd" of survivors of the Great Oppression are described as those who "wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:15; 22:14) This requires great faith and deep belief as a result of continuous meditations on the Nazarene’s teachings.

(2) The word of their testimony includes their initial confession of faith that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. (Romans 10:9, 10) It also includes having their "feet shod with the Gospel" -- that is, "beautiful feet declaring the Gospel." (Ephesians 6:15; Roman 10:15)

(3) They loved not their own lives. It was the Nazarene himself who taught, Matthew 16:24"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." There can be no question that a life of genuine discipleship following Jesus is one of self-sacrifice. The true Friend of the Nazarene must love his Lord more than life itself. Throughout the Gospel Age millions of Christians have shown themselves willing to die rather than deny their faith or disobey God. Fear of death is a satanic tool and thus it is a triumphant victory when a martyr does not succumb to this dread.

(4) They keep the commandments of God. In the context of the beloved apostle John these "commandments" are two-fold: 1 John 3:22 "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 1 John 3:24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." There it is in all its simplicity: faith and love. These are the commandants of God and the life of the Saint must be characterized by deep conviction and genuine love for others.

(5) They follow the Lamb no matter where he goes. This is true discipleship. It requires a full knowledge of what Jesus taught and did in his own walk on earth. A book which is of great help in this regard is Nazarene Principles for it outlines the full breadth of our Lord’s teachings. Discipleship then requires a strenuous effort to walk after the model of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:21) As our Lord put it, "You must strain every nerve to enter the narrow gate." (Luke 13:24 GDSP)

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

• ELDERS: Following the recent first annual Friends conference four elders were appointed following prayer and the laying on of hands. These may found at the Friends web page under Elders. See the 1999 Report.

• NAZARENE COMMENTARY: A 1,482-page commentary in 733,219 words with 3,427 footnotes on the Bible will soon be completed and available on CD-ROM. Nazarene Commentary contains all the main articles, booklets, magazines, and books from the web page plus others not available on the web site. This library contains up-dated and newly edited versions of Nazarene Principles, Nazarene Community, Nazarene Commandments, Nazarene Apocalypse, De Trinitatis Erroribus, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, and many other subjects. It is designed for ease of research in finding subjects, titles, or Bible texts. It is a unique Bible study and research tool.

• TRANSLATION OF MATTHEW: A new translation and rendering of the Gospel of Matthew has just been completed. It is 200 pages in length with 2,000 footnotes on every element of Matthew. It includes studies on all the major Greek words and phrases, translation comparisons with over two dozen versions, cross references with the Gospels of Mark and Luke, so that in one commentary the Synoptic Gospels are essentially considered. Jesus’ words are in red; quotations of the OT in blue; allusions to the OT in green. It is only available as part of Nazarene Commentary though attachments may be requested.

• TRANSLATION OF EPHESIANS: We have begun on a new translation and rendering of the Letter to the Ephesians by Paul. This work includes two versions: literal and paraphrase. Then the literal version has full footnotes on every major word and phrase similar to the works on Matthew and Revelation.

• WEB PAGE CHANGES: Those who have visited the Friends web page lately have seen some refreshing and encouraging changes and updates, including an Affirmation of Convictions which is a general outline of beliefs. Other developments are in the works and we pray these bring soothing consolation and a heightened knowing of our God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

• SPANISH: Various works are in the works to translate articles and books into Spanish. A qualified Biblical student with knowledge of Spanish is translating Nazarene Apocalypse as well as shorter articles.

• TRACTS: Tracts and booklets of various lengths for use in witnessing to others are now being prepared.

 

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THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT:

1. LOVE

[This is the first in a series of articles on the Fruitage of the Spirit.]

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

(Galatians 5:22-23, KJV)

AN OVERVIEW OF THE FRUIT

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he describes what he calls the "works" of the flesh, and contrasts these "works," with the "fruit" of the Spirit. It is interesting to note that in the twenty-three translations reviewed by this author for this particular study, all of the translations except one, render the Greek word karpos (Strong’s #2590), as "fruit," that is, in the singular. In addition, all twenty-three translations render the Greek word ergon (Strong’s #2041), in the plural as "works."

In the English language, the word "fruit" is sometimes used both in a singular sense and in a plural sense in some cases. It is likewise true that in scripture, that the word karpos is translated both as the singular "fruit," as in Galatians 5:22, and in the plural as "fruits," as in Matthew 7:16, 20; Matthew 21:34, 41, 43; Luke 3:8; 2 Timothy 2:6; James 3:17; and Revelation 22:2.

Bible authorities offer several explanations for this, but one of the most common understandings is that this seems to indicate that while the "works" of the flesh are varied, and not necessarily related, the "fruit" of the Spirit is one "kind" or "sort," but possessing various "qualities."

The inter-related qualities of the "fruit" of the Spirit are alluded to, for example, by Peter. He states, "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:5-8, NIV)

So, just as an orange is round, juicy, sweet, and orange in color, the "fruit" of the Spirit is "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, self-control." (DBY) There does not seem to be, as it were, a plurality of "fruits," but rather, one "fruit" with a number of "qualities" or "characteristics."

Paul says, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these. As to these things I am forewarning you, the same as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom." (Galatians 5:19-21, NWT)

In looking at these "works" of the flesh, it is evident that this is not an exhaustive list in that Paul uses the phrase, "and things like these." Also, it can be said that these "works" are not necessarily directly related to one another. For example, one can be guilty of "fornication" without being guilty of "drunken bouts." One can be guilty of "loose conduct," without being a practitioner of "spiritism."

On the other hand, the "fruit" of the Spirit is characterized by various inter-related "qualities." For example, one cannot exhibit "patience" if there is not a measure of "gentleness." A person cannot manifest "love" if they do not possess a measure of "joy." When one takes the time to truly ponder these "qualities" of the "fruit" of the Spirit, they will find that even those characteristics that are not immediately obvious, are nonetheless related, albeit slightly.

Therefore, it can also be said that a person is not truly abounding in the "fruit" of the Spirit if they are not manifesting all nine "qualities." We are all human beings, merely flesh and blood. It is a daily struggle to battle the desires of the flesh. This is undoubtedly one reason why the emissary Paul wrote:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:10-18, ASV)

Of note is that the "works" of the flesh are in direct opposition to the "fruit" of the Spirit. As it is written, "For the flesh is against the spirit in its desire, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, so that the very things that you would like to do you do not do." (Galatians 5:17, NWT)

As difficult as it may be, we must keep on the helmet of salvation and always remember that, "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."

(Romans 8:3-11, KJV)

The Scribner-Bantam English Dictionary, lists as one of its definitions of "fruit," as follows: "fruit...1seed and all its enveloping parts."

Notice that the "fruit" includes the "seed." This is in complete agreement with the biblical record. Genesis 1:11-12 reads, "And God said: 'Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit-tree bearing fruit after its kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth.' And it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after its kind, and tree bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after its kind; and God saw that it was good." (Jewish Publication Society Old Testament)

Notice also that from the beginning, the fruit-tree develops fruit "after its kind."

Jesus spoke often in parables (i.e., illustrations or comparisons). In a couple of his parables, he used "seed" to make his point. In the parable of the sower (Luke 8:5-15), Jesus defines the "seed" as "the word of God," and he goes on to describe the various types of ground that the seed fell upon. The parable reads as follows:

"The sower went forth to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden under foot, and the birds of the heaven devoured it. And other fell on the rock; and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other fell amidst the thorns; and the thorns grew with it, and choked it. And other fell into the good ground, and grew, and brought forth fruit a hundredfold. As he said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to the rest in parables; that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And those by the way side are they that have heard; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. And those on the rock are they who, when they have heard, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among the thorns, these are they that have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. And that in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience." (ASV)

We can see that in Jesus’ parable, the "ground" represents the condition of the heart. In the Spirit-led believer, the heart condition will prove to be "honest and good." Just as with edible fruit, the believer will retain the "seed" (i.e., the word of God), and will bear "fruit" with constancy. If the "seed" is not retained, the believer cannot continue to bear "fruit" after its kind. And the kind of "fruit" the 

  • Spirit-led believer will bear, is the "fruit" of joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." (YLT)
  • As James wrote, "Can a fig-tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a vine yield figs? No; and neither can salt water yield sweet." (James 3:12, WNT)

    Just prior to describing the "works" of the flesh and the "fruit" of the Spirit, Paul reminded the Galatians that if they are led by the Spirit, they are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18)

    As it is written: "...Law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers, for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine."

    (1 Timothy 1:9-10, ASV)

    At the close of Paul’s statement where he describes the characteristics of the "fruit" of the Spirit, he states, "Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:23, NWT) There is therefore, no prohibition placed on possessing and manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. It may abound thirty, sixty, or even a hundredfold. (Matthew 13:23)

    A BRIEF COMPARISON WITH "GIFTS" OF THE SPIRIT

    Many claim that the "gifts" (charisma, Strong’s #5486) of the Spirit, as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (i.e., the message of wisdom, the message of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues), are the evidence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within the believer.

    If one is to claim that the ‘’gifts" of the Spirit are the "evidence" of the indwelling Holy Spirit, or as many make claim that tongues specifically, is the "initial evidence" of the Holy Spirit baptism, then we must find examples in scripture where the apostles made the same ascertains. A good honest look at the scriptural facts will reveal that no such statements are made. The importance of adhering to the same gospel as preached by Jesus’ hand-picked apostles is self-evident. For Paul himself stated to the churches of Galatia, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed." (Galatians 1:8-9, NRSV) [Bold mine for emphasis]

    It is true that Paul describes these "gifts" as "manifestation" of the Spirit

    (1 Corinthians 12:7), but his statement in its entirety is, "But to each of us a manifestation of the Spirit has been granted for the common good. To one the utterance of wisdom has been granted through the Spirit; to another the utterance of knowledge in accordance with the will of the same Spirit; to a third man, by means of the same Spirit, special faith; to another various gifts of healing, by means of the one Spirit; to another the exercise of miraculous powers; to another the gift of prophecy; to another the power of discriminating between prophetic utterances; to another varieties of the gift of `tongues;' to another the interpretation of tongues. But these results are all brought about by one and the same Spirit, who bestows His gifts upon each of us in accordance with His own will. " (1 Corinthians 12:7-11, WNT) [Bold mine for emphasis]

    Paul also asks, "Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all in possession of miraculous powers? have all gifts of healings? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?" (1 Corinthians 12;29-30, DBY) The answer to each of these questions is quite obviously "No." This is clear indication that these "gifts" are not the "evidence," i.e., the "signs" or the "proof" of the Holy Spirit dwelling within the believer, since all believers did not , nor do not at present, manifest all and the same "gifts."

    Scripture reveals that tongues was certainly used as "evidence" or "proof" of Jehovah’s Spirit being present, but it was a "sign" for the unbelieving at the time. For example, on the day of Pentecost in the year of our Lord’s death and resurrection, tongues was one of the signs God used to dramatically prove to the unbelieving "Jews, reverent men, from every nation of those under heaven" who were at that time dwelling in Jerusalem that Jesus is Lord and Messiah, and that God had raised him from the dead. (Acts 2:5, 32, 36; NWT) The other "sign" was "tongues as if of fire" that were "distributed about" and "sat upon each one of them." (Acts 2:4, NWT)

    Similarly, the brothers from Joppa who accompanied Peter, were the potential

    unbelievers when Cornelius, his relatives and close friends, received the Holy Spirit. As it is written, "The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God." (Acts 10:23-24, 45-46, NIV) [Bold mine for emphasis]

    While Paul was in Ephesus, his authority was proven to disciples of John the Baptist. When he proclaimed Jesus to them, "they got baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 19:5, NWT) But it was not until Paul laid his hands upon them that they began "speaking with tongues and prophesying. All together, there were about twelve men." (Acts 19:6-7, NWT)

    It appears from the context of Acts chapter 19, that it was Paul’s authority in union with Christ Jesus, that was being proven to these twelve men and for that matter, all in Ephesus, for we read, "And God kept performing extraordinary works of power through the hands of Paul, so that even cloths and aprons were borne from his body to the ailing people, and the diseases left them, and the wicked spirits came out." (Acts 19:11-12, NWT) [Bold mine for emphasis)

    As Paul states, "Consequently tongues are a sign, not to the believers, but to the unbelievers, whereas prophesying is, not for the unbelievers, but for the believers." (1 Corinthians 14:22, NWT)

    The supremacy of the "fruit" of the Spirit over the "gifts" of the Spirit, is also seen in the fact that Paul describes the congregation in Corinth as not falling short in any gift at all (1 Corinthians 1:7), yet rebukes them for being carnal, which obviously, means they were lacking "fruit." (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). He asked straightforwardly, "Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God shall destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which you are."

    (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, MKJV)

    Fruit (with its nine-fold quality), will be manifested by all true believers, and is exactly what Jesus is seeking. He spoke this parable: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the vinedresser, ‘Here it is three years that I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, but have found none. Cut it down! Why really should it keep the ground useless?’ In reply he said to him, ‘Master, let it alone also this year, until I dig around it and put on manure; and if then it produces fruit in the future, [well and good]; but if not, you shall cut it down.’" (Luke 13:6-9, NWT)

    Jesus also said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit. Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples." (John 15:1-8, ASV) Again, it is by bearing much "fruit" that we prove to be Jesus’ disciples and prove that the Spirit of God dwells within us.

    It is also important to understand that while the "fruit" of the Spirit is a "product" or "result" of the believer’s faithful devotion to God and his word, the characteristics of the fruit, i.e. love, joy, peace, etc., are "commands" given to Jesus’ followers. "Gifts," on the other hand, are never given as "commands" made incumbent on believers.

    For example, Christians are commanded to ". . . love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole law hangs, and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40, NWT)

    Another example is the virtue "joy." The believer is commanded to rejoice in all kinds of circumstances. James states, "Let it be all joy to you, my brothers, when you undergo tests of every sort; Because you have the knowledge that the testing of your faith gives you the power of going on in hope." (James 1:2-3, BBE) Paul states, "Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4, ASV) Elsewhere Paul declares, "Rejoice always."

    (1 Thessalonians 5:16, ASV)

    Peace is another quality of the fruit of the Spirit. Paul writes, "If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men." (Romans 12:18, NWT) Jesus said, "You have knowledge that it was said in old times, You may not put to death; and, Whoever puts to death will be in danger of being judged: But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be in danger of being judged; and he who says to his brother, Raca, will be in danger from the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, You foolish one, will be in danger of the hell of fire. If then you are making an offering at the altar and there it comes to your mind that your brother has something against you, While your offering is still before the altar, first go and make peace with your brother, then come and make your offering. Come to an agreement quickly with him who has a cause against you at law, while you are with him on the way, for fear that he may give you up to the judge and the judge may give you to the police and you may be put into prison. Truly I say to you, You will not come out from there till you have made payment of the very last farthing." (Matthew 5:21-26, BBE)

    Goodness is a characteristic of the fruit, and is also clearly "commanded" to be pursued. For it is written, "Return evil for evil to no one. Provide fine things in the sight of all men. If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’ But, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals upon his head. Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good."

    (Romans 12:17-21, NWT)

    The scriptures, either directly or indirectly, "command" Christians to exercise the very same qualities that describe the "fruit" of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 9:25-27; Colossians 3:10-15; 2 Peter 1:5-8)

    The Nine Qualities of the Fruit of the Spirit:

    It should be stated that we should not view Galatians 5:22-23 as an exhaustive list of the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit, but it is, nonetheless, powerfully descriptive. Let us take a closer look at each of these qualities individually.

    The Virtue Love

    The apostle John wrote, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

    (1 John 4:8, ASV) Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians wrote, "But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three: and the greatest of these is love."

    (1 Corinthians 13:13, ASV)

    The apostle Peter wrote, "Above all things being fervent in your love among yourselves for love covereth a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8, ASV) Paul wrote to the Colossians, "Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness." (Colossians 3:12-14, ASV) It is not difficult to see why Paul lists "love" first in describing the fruit of the Spirit.

    The word "love" at Galatians 5:22 is translated from the Greek word agape (Strong’s #26). It is derived from the word agapao (Strong’s #25). According to The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, agape means "love, i.e. affection or benevolence; spec. (plur.) a love feast," while agapao means "to love (in a social or moral sense)."

    Agape has to do with the mind--not simply an emotion of the heart. It is a principle by which one lives. It has ultimately to do with the will. In other words, agape is not an unrestrained reaction of the heart. It is a focused exercise of one’s will. It is more than a feeling. It is an action. "Agape" love is also expressed unconditionally toward all, and is not dependent on the object of such love having to earn it. It is a decision to love. Mark wrote, "Now one of the scribes that had come up and heard them disputing, knowing that he had answered them in a fine way, asked him: "Which commandment is first of all?" Jesus answered:The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.’ The second is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him: ‘Teacher, you well said in line with truth, ‘He is One, and there is no other than He’; and this loving him with one’s whole heart and with one’s whole understanding and with one’s whole strength and this loving one’s neighbor as oneself is worth far more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ At this Jesus, discerning he had answered intelligently, said to him:You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ But nobody had the courage anymore to question him." (Mark 12:28-34, NWT)

    An excellent biblical example of the type of love where one loved his "neighbor" even as himself, is seen with David and Jonathan, King Saul’s son. We read, "And it happened, when he finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knitted with the soul of David; and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would not let him return to his father's house. And Jonathan and David cut a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul."

    (1 Samuel 18:1-3, GRN)

    As believers, we are "commanded" to love. Paul said, "Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, as an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell." (Ephesians 5:1, ASV)

    The type of love we are to walk in is clearly illustrated in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but also for us to consider is the love of God the Father. Paul wrote to those in Rome about the completely undeserved love of the Father, "But God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8, NWT) What do the scriptures say? "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13, ASV) Jesus fully demonstrated God’s love! We are able now to come to know what love is when we keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ. Just as it is written, "Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1 John 3:16, ASV)

    Jesus is the perfect biblical example of love manifested. When we think of how we can manifest this type of love, we need only to look at Jesus’ example of laying his life down for the brethren. We may or may not find ourselves in a situation where we would literally have to make a decision to lay our lives down, but this can certainly be accomplished "figuratively" every day.

    For example, we can demonstrate love by helping those who are in material need. As John asks, "But whoso hath the world’s goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him?" (1 John 3:17, ASV) John also declares, "My little children, let us now love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth."

    (1 John 3:18, ASV)

    Love can also be demonstrated by helping those in spiritual need. Note what James stated, "My brethren, if any among you err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins."

    (James 5:19-20, ASV)

    True "agape" love is not, as already pointed out, limited to fellow Christians. Jesus said, "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the Gentiles the same? Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 6:27-34, ASV)

    A perfect example of this is illustrated in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Most are very familiar with this parable, yet to truly appreciate it, one must understand that this Samaritan knowingly crossed long-held traditional boundaries to help someone in need. As John comments, ""For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans." (John 4:9b, ASV) But the good Samaritan made a decision to act. This is an "agape" type love--It is the focused exercise of one’s will, and an unconditional response to need, irregardless of who the person in need is. In the words of our Lord Jesus, "This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you." (John 15:12, NWT)

    [Next issue: The Qualities of Joy and Peace]

    ===== END =====

    FAITH PERSPECTIVES

    ENCOURAGING COMMENTS --

    I just finished reading your publication. I found it to be very thought provoking. I agree with 95% of your interpretations. I found the children's prayers a unique chance to see the humor of God. I thought the prayers were well placed within the context of the subject matter you presented. My prayers are with you as you continue to spread God's Truth. Keep up the good work.

    Sincerely in Jehovah through His Son, Christ Jesus

    PP

    ***

    Viewpoint on the "Great Crowd"

    Revelation 22:17 says: "And the spirit and the bride keep on saying: 'Come!' And let anyone hearing say: 'Come!' And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone  that wishes take life's water free."

    This is an invitation that is also mentioned in Revelation 21:6, 7 where Jehovah says: "To anyone thirsting I will give from the fountain of the water of  life free. Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son." These words are applied to the "anointed" class so verse 17 doesn't suggest two classes of Christians. This invitation of the "Bride" (which would also include the prospective members of that "Bride") has been extended to others since the first century and continues down to our day. The apostles invited others to "become reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). These would then also form part of the "bride class" back then.

    That text alludes to Isaiah 55:1 in which an invitation to "Israel" is given to "come to the water." Jesus also in John 4:13 extends an invitation to drink water also. He was then speaking to the Samaritan woman who would've been of the "anointed" back then. It's interesting how Revelation 21:7 after the invitation to drink water is made mentions about those "conquering." This makes us think of what Jesus said about those who conquer in Revelation 3:21. These "conquerors" sit on thrones.

    What is said about the "great crowd" in Revelation 7:16, 17 alludes to Isaiah 25:8 and Isaiah 49:8-10 which are quoted by the apostle Paul first in 1 Corinthians 15:55 (which discusses immortality gained) and then 2 Corinthians 6:2 that apply all to the "anointed." Since the words that describe the "great crowd" are words that are taken right out of those that apply to the "anointed" there is no basis for the idea that the "great crowd" is an earthly class of Christians.

    The "great crowd" coming "out of all nations" (Revelation 7:9) doesn't at all prove that they are an earthly class since the same is said of those who are made "to be a kingdom and priests to our God" in Revelation 5:9, 10.

    The words "temple" and "before the throne" are all used in Revelation to apply to heaven. The heavenly creatures in Revelation 7:11 all fall upon their faces "before the throne" which would of course situate them in heaven and this is all in the same chapter that discusses the "great crowd" being "before the throne" of God. The "temple" where they serve God is obviously in heaven since the word naos in Greek always refer to the inner "sanctuary". The idea that the "great crowd" serves in the earthly courtyard of the temple holds no
    water since Revelation 11:2 makes it clear that the courtyard is outside the "temple" (naos). The same naos where the "great crowd" serves God. This brings us to what Revelation 19:1 says: "After these things I heard what was as a loud voice of a GREAT CROWD IN HEAVEN." Chapter 7 that discusses the "great crowd" is very similar to chapter 19 that discusses a "great crowd in heaven." Both 'great crowds' cry out that salvation belongs to God and afterwards the heavenly creatures fall down to worship God. The Society in the Reasoning book says that the "great crowd in heaven" apply to the angels. That's a pointless argument. And remember, ancient Israel does not serve as a pattern to describe two classes of Christians since the "alien resident"  would have become "anointed" in the first century (Ephesians 2:11-22). So with these texts in mind, how can the "alien resident" foreshadow an earthly class of Christians? It surely doesn't.

    The invitation is extended to all faithful Christians to be a part of that heavenly kingdom to rule over that future "new earth" inhabited by righteous humans. An honest and natural reading of the Greek Scriptures shows this. The "great crowd" is the same as the 144,000 that represent those faithful Christians alive during the "great tribulation." They are "we the living who are surviving" mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. And they are also the ones whom Jesus referred to when he says "everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all" mentioned at John 11:26. The concept that the Society has of the "great crowd" is really based on the old idea that 1914 was the start of the "great tribulation." If the "great tribulation" started then, then it would seem logical that a "great crowd" would appear on the scene. But if the "great tribulation" is yet future, we cannot determine who makes up the "great crowd" since those alive today may not be a part of it.
    So to say that the "great crowd" was identified in 1935 would be pointless as the years go by and that whole generation living then were to pass away, not alive to be a part of that "great crowd." How can Jehovah identify in 1935 those who are to make up the "great crowd" if they all die off and the "great tribulation" hasn't started yet? That would make no sense! This would be another version of "the generation of 1914." In the years before 1925 when Rutherford gave the talk "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" to those alive then, today could be said "Millions Then Living Are Now Dead." [Contributed by a JW Presiding Overseer]

    ===== END =====

    WITH WHOM IS THE "NEW COVENANT" MADE?

    The New Covenant is foretold in Jeremiah 31:31-35 (KJV):

    31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

    The question would be two-fold: a) who is included in the phrase "house of Israel"; and b) are there any inspired applications of Jeremiah 31:31-35 by Jesus or his spirit-guided disciples.

    We note that Jesus said: "I was not sent forth to any but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24) Surely this included his Jewish apostles and disciples. Jesus sent these apostles to "go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 10:6) This "house of Israel" would have included all those early Jewish disciples who accepted Jesus by the thousands. For Peter speaks: "Let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36) Would this "promise" include only literal Jews? Peter continues when he promises: "For the promise is to you and to your children (house of Israel) and to all those afar off (Gentiles; compare Isaiah 49:5 6, 8 12 with Ephesians 2:11-13), just as many as the Lord our God may call to him."

    Did Peter consider the Gentile believers as part of that spiritual nation? He gives his own inspired answer when he writes to Gentiles (1 Peter 2:4-10 KJV):

    5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

    Surely we can testify with a surety that the new covenant was made with the "house of Israel" and that said "house" include the Jewish disciples of Jesus as well as those Gentile believers who flocked to him? Do we have any other inspired writers who make applications of Jeremiah 31:31-35? Indeed, a most outstanding one, for he quotes the entire passage in Jeremiah when he writes:

    14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament [new covenant], that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:14, 15 KJV)

    And, again, it is the "blood of Jesus" and none other that inaugurates this "new covenant" with the "house of Israel."

    14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God." (Hebrews 10:14-21 KJV)

    And he writes again in his letter:

    22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

    We confess that this "house of God" includes both Jews and Gentiles as this same writer states in Ephesians 2:19-22:

    19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

    Thus, that Passover night, our Lord pointed to that blood of his which would soon be poured out to inaugurate that "new covenant" foretold by Jeremiah. There in that upper room were the "foundation stones" of his apostles as Jewish members of the "house of Israel" with whom the "new covenant" was made. Our Lord told these:

    15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament [covenant] in my blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:15-20 KJV)

    So, we have the inspired words of Jesus, Peter and Paul to confirm the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31-35 as applying to those Jewish and Gentile disciples of Jesus as members of the "Israel of God" -- the "real Israel." (Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6, 7; Galatians 3:29) They were in the legal contract called the "new covenant" which was enforced by the blood and flesh of one man -- Jesus Christ the Nazarene.

    ===== END =====

    THOUGHTS ON THE PROVERBS

    Proverbs 23:1-3 [Discomforts of Social Heights]

    Proverbs 23:1 When you sit down to eat with someone important, keep in mind who he is. Proverbs 23:2 If you have a big appetite, restrain yourself. Proverbs 23:3 Don't be greedy for the fine food he serves; he may be trying to trick you.

    Translations: RHM: if of great appetite; SPRL: restraint; AAT: if you be a man of keen appetite; MOF: when you are sitting down at a ruler’s table be careful how you eat; control yourself if you have a large appetite; JB: doubtful nourishment; BAS: the bread of deceit; ABPS: treacherous food; RSV: deceptive food; AAT: larded with deceit

    CROSS REFERENCE: Galatians 5:23 = self -control

    NOTES: The sin here warned against, is, luxury and sensuality, and the indulgence of the appetite in eating and drinking, a sin that easily besets us. God requires his rational creatures to be the lords, not the slaves, of animal appetites. His prohibitions only say to us, "Do thyself no harm." [HENRY]

    Proverbs 23:4, 5 [Materialism]

    Proverbs 23:4 Be wise enough not to wear yourself out trying to get rich. Proverbs 23:5 Your money can be gone in a flash, as if it had grown wings and flown away like an eagle.

    Translations: YLT: labour not to make wealth; BER: do not toil to get wealth; surrender that personal ambition; NEB: cease to be concerned

    CROSS REFERENCE: Proverbs 3:5; Proverbs 26:12; Proverbs 27:24; Proverbs 28:20; compare 1 Timothy 6:7-19 = determined to be rich; love of money

    NOTES: "Wealth is no less elusive than social prestige." (KIDNER) "Possessions are sparrows in flight which can find no place to alight." (NIPPU)

    Proverbs 23:6-8 [The Calculating Host]

    Proverbs 23:6 Don't eat at the table of a stingy person or be greedy for the fine food he serves. Proverbs 23:7 "Come on and have some more," he says, but he doesn't mean it. What he thinks is what he really is. Proverbs 23:8 You will vomit up what you have eaten, and all your flattery will be wasted.

    Translations: RV: an evil eye; MOF: he counts his dishes; RSV: do not eat the bread of the man who is stingy; BER: eat not the bread of him whose eye is selfish neither desire his delicacies for as one who inwardly figures the cost; SPRL: and war thy complimentary speeches; JB: find your compliments wasted

    CROSS REFERENCE: Matthew 6:22, 23 = envious eye; Matthew 6:33 = God knows

    NOTES: Meals can be very political and a host can have a hidden agenda in which your gluttony and drunkenness is his price for buying your soul. It is not worth the tasty meal and smooth expensive wine.

    Proverbs 23:9 [Wisdom Wasted on the Fool]

    Proverbs 23:9 Don't try to talk sense to a fool; he can't appreciate it.

    Translations: MOF: never talk to a fool; NEB: hold your tongue in the hearing of a stupid man

    CROSS REFERENCE: Proverbs 9:7 and Proverbs 26:4

    NOTES: It is useless to talk of any serious issues with some persons.

    Proverbs 23:10, 11 [Champion of the Fatherless]

    Proverbs 23:10 Never move an old property line or take over land owned by orphans. Proverbs 23:11 The Lord is their powerful defender, and he will argue their case against you.

    Translations: AAT: remove not the widow’s landmark nor enter the fields of orphans for their champion is strong and he will defend their cause against you

    CROSS REFERENCE: Proverbs 22:8; James1:27

    NOTES: To take advantage of a widow or orphan - those who can least protect themselves - either in fraud or extortion is among the most despicable acts. However, such selfishness and greed does not go unnoticed. A quick check of the word "poor" in the Scriptures will reveal how God feels about this afflicted group.

    ===== END =====

    QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS

    1 Timothy 3:3

    (8) NOT A DRUNKEN BRAWLER

    #331. WORD: paroinon given to wine.

    Cross References: see Romans 13:13 = drunken .

    Translations: NASB: not addicted to wine or pugnacious; WEY: hard drinker; AMP: not combative; PHI: neither intemperate nor violent; NOR: not be quarrelsome.

    #332. NOTE: "Drunken brawler" occurs only again at Titus 1:7 and is unique to these two verses. It seems clear such a man would not only not qualify to be an overseer but would be disfellowshipped if the practice was habitual. So, the word is often given a metaphorical meaning, that is, not pugnacious, adversarial, combative -- that is a fighter or contentious individual given to frequent arguments and disputes and giving the impression he would become physical if pushed or challenged.

    (9) NOT A SMITER ---

    #333. WORD: plekten no bully

    Translations: ASV: not contentious; ABUV: adverse to strife; RHM: adverse to contention; NEB: avoiding quarrels; BER: conciliatory; CON: peaceable; KNX: neither quarrelsome; PME: not be a controversialist.

    Cross References: see Titus1:7 = smiter.

    #334. NOTE: Some men are, by nature, given to dominance and others have become "bullies" used to throwing their weight around. When unable to use physical force as in actually "smiting" or striking another they avert to verbal blows or abusive speech (2 Peter 2:11; Jude 8; Proverbs 12:18) and are recognizable by the terms and manner of their speech in which they browbeat those they consider inferiors. Such men are not in harmony with the spirit of Romans 12:18 and James 3:17 and therefore do not have the "mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16; Colossians 3:15) This does not mean an overseer need not be "stern" or even "curt" if the occasion call for it. (Compare Matthew 9:30; 16:20; Luke 9:21; see KIT at Titus 1:13 on word "severity") However, there is not a single occasion where Jesus used belittling terms that denigrated his disciples.

    (10) REASONABLE ---

    #335. WORD: epieike gentle

    Translations: KJ: patient; ASV: gentle; ABUV: forbearing; RHM: considerate; NEB: forbearing disposition; BER: genial.

    Cross References: see Philippians 4:5 = reasonableness.

    #336. NOTE: Gentleness is not often a characteristic of men who may be raised in a culture which praises strength and power. Yet gentleness can reflect tremendous power as self-control is mightily needed. A gentle man will often be found to be also reasonable or yielding. A reasonable person is one you can reason with and who, upon the facts, is willing to yield; or, lacking satisfactory facts where principle is not an issue, is willing to yield to the majority of God-fearing elders. However, there are times not to yield as demonstrated in Paul’s case at Galatians 2:5 or even to be unreasonable -- as some may judge it -- as Paul also admits. (2 Corinthians 11:16-19; 12:6, 11)

    #337. "Seemly, fitting; hence, equitable, fair, moderate, forbearing, not insisting on the letter of the law; it expresses that considerateness that looks 'humanely and reasonably at the facts of a case.'" (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1981, Vol. 2, pp. 144, 145.) Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says of this term: " . . . not insisting on the letter of the law; it expresses that considerateness that looks 'humanely and reasonably at the facts of a case.'"

    [For more details see Nazarene Commentary CD-ROM or Nazarene Community.]

    Friends of the Nazarene: A Spiritual Community of Messianic Christians Dedicated to ‘Following the Lamb No Matter Where He Goes’

    13 April 1999

    FIRST ANNUAL FRIENDS ELDERS CONFERENCE REPORT

    We four brothers and Friends of the Nazarene send you greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. We pray every "spiritual blessing" upon each one of you.

    We are pleased to send you a united report on our meeting here in California as ‘founding elders’ for the Friends of the Nazarene movement. We begin with a general statement and then each of the elders will express themselves personally.

    General Report

    Memorial

    Christian men journeyed from Spain, New York, and Chicago to meet with some local California brothers and sisters to commune together at Memorial or Lord’s Supper. Four of the brothers shared the talk and service with thirteen present and two additional brothers offered prayers. We are pleased to mention that other Christians of similar heart and mind met elsewhere in the southern California area as well as throughout the world. We look forward to hearing reports from these dear Friends. After Memorial happy conversation and fellowship continued into the night.

    Elders Conference

    The following day six Christian men met to discuss the forum theme: "The Future of the Christian Church." Those brothers present were Greg Jones, David Karafas, Alberto Padilla, Mark Miller, Ralph Slaney, and Andy Weeks. Our purpose was defined as laying the foundation in belief and fellowship for the Friends of the Nazarene ‘movement’ as "a spiritual community of Messianic Christians dedicated to following the Lamb no matter where he goes." (Revelation 14:4)

    Doctrine

    Following prayer we began to discuss a list of Biblical teachings which will be attached to this report. We agreed on three categories:

    1. Strong Biblical affirmations which are highly unlikely to change

    2. Subjects which may have several views with the majority leaning to one bias

    3. Unknown items with several possibilities but with no firm conviction over-riding others; or, something simply unknown at the moment either because of lack of study in that area, or high degrees of difficulty in coming to one or more views.

    We majority were in complete agreement that love ought to dominate all our dealings and that each Christian is entitled to his or her own view and were perfectly free to express these opinions. However, in formal congregational environments we agreed on those subjects which were strong affirmations and those which have two or more perspectives. In the later matter it was loving and respectful to clarify that such a view expressed was one of others and not necessarily the only view.

    We must state generally speaking all were respectful of one another and presented their views and opinions in the spirit of Colossians 4:6. We were clearly moved by the holy Pneuma to strive for unity expressed in love. The outcome was characterized by those fruits which come from our Father through His Son, Jesus Christ the Nazarene.

    This kindly and respectful note was seen in the comments of some that made it clear that though they had not thoroughly studied a given subject they thought it was likely they would arrive at the same conclusion given time. We all had to admit that none understood the Bible perfectly or completely and that we were all in the process of continual growth. It was expressed that though one might not agree with another on a given point not absolute this was not a basis for judging another and always every effort to extend the right-hand of fellowship and communion would be extended.

    Following the discussion on ‘doctrine’ David Karavas, a Free Bible Student, had to excuse himself to receive guests arriving from out of the state as well as his duties as chairman of the Free Bible Students western conference. We four were unanimous in our deep respect and love for our brother David. He is an outstanding Christian in every sense of the word and we look forward to ongoing Christian relationships.

    In the afternoon we continued discussing ‘church order’. That is, just how was the early church arranged in its formal congregational worship and representation. We attach below the general outline of points upon which the four of us agreed.

    At some point in the discussion in became evident that brother Greg Jones no longer wished to continue working along with the rest of us. Despite this we prayed together and all four of us embraced brother Jones with genuine affection despite his misgivings. Those of us below who wish to expand on this or any other matter may do so under their own name.

    ‘Laying on of Hands’

    In conclusion, after a discussion of the qualifications of elders and deacons, the laying on of hands with prayers occurred with the result we agreed in supplications that Mark Miller, Alberto Padilla, Ralph Slaney, and Andy Weeks were elders appointed by holy Pneuma and were duty-bound to treat the Flock with tenderness. (Acts 20:28, 29) Following this unianimous agreement we resolved time and the future would work out other details but that a legal entity would be formed and in accordance with the laws of the United States a non-profit and charitable corporation be created. This would require the future appointment of a president, vice-president, and secretary-treasurer.

    We agreed that from this moment no one person is either leader or in charge but that only One Leader guided us and our joint Friends of the Nazarene. We agreed that future matters would be by the vote of these four and that other elders and deacons would be appointed after the laying on of hands with prayers. We also agreed that each elder may also hold the job description or ‘office’ of either apostle, teacher, prophet, shepherd, or missionary. We agreed that though elders may vary in age, experience, Christian maturity, godly circumstances, and other characteristics, all were equals before our Father and His Son. We agreed that we share a mutual and equal responsibility and that each of us would baptize in the name of Jesus Christ as well as appoint elders and deacons as the need arose. We agreed that faith, love, and humility ought to characterize our dealings with one another and all others within the Church of our Lord.

    We also resolved that if any elder or deacon should wish to resign an office, or otherwise wish for any reason to discontinue association, no recrimination should follow but, rather, the giving of thanks for that assistance and labor thus far given.

    INDIVIDUAL REPORTS

    [In alphabetical order]

    Mark Miller (West Coast)

    After three years of living ‘like a pelican in the wilderness’ (Psalm 102:6) it was a sublime joy to meet physically with other godly men dedicated to ‘following the Lamb no matter where he goes.’ Surely this was the answer to my own prayers that Ralph would journey all the way from Spain, Alberto from New York, and Andy from Chicago. That four Christian men who had never met one another physically -- who had come to similar prayerful thoughts independent of one another -- would come to perfect unity on such. In addition these men agreed on what our activities for the future might be.

    From my own perspective I state without any qualifications that these three Christian men are each gifted in their own ways and are determined to use these in the service of the King.

    All things considered I am very joyful regarding the happy outcome to our conference and hopeful for the future. As matters develop they will be explained. I want to express my own feelings that there are many among you who would have contributed a great deal as Christian elders. I am happy that already locally we have prepared to begin a regular Sunday devotional discussion group and pray that soon a true Nazarene ecclesia may materialize in Orange, California.

    It is my own hope that I may travel to Oregon to meet with Andy Foss as well as others back East and Europe for face to face spiritual encouragement.

    There will be some changes and additions to the Friends web page. Nazarene Commentary (2,000 pages and 3,000 footnotes of Biblical studies material) will be put on cd-rom. Translation of Matthew is finished and Ephesians just begun.

    I was blessed by the kindness of the Free Bible Students to attend a long weekend conference at a beautiful facility in Arrowhead, California above San Bernardino. I was interviewed on Sunday and brother Slaney called on for prayer. We will always feel a kindred spirit with these lovely brothers and sisters. I am confident the Free Bible Students will always appeal to the needs of others leaving highly controlled religious sects. It seems we can exchange speakers in the future and indeed Andy Weeks a Free Bible Student shared a portion of the Memorial service. I also which to personally praise David Karavas of the Free Bible Students as an outstanding Christian dedicated to the flock.

    I am prayerful that God’s blessing will materialize on hard publishing of tracts, booklets, and books for Biblical studies on the part of those persons who do not have computers or Internet access. I encourage those of you who are isolated to develop a local devotional group which may one day become an ecclesia. I am set here to give every ounce of my energy to the building up of the Body of Christ and I ask for your prayers in this regard. (Mark Miller friend and brother in CHrist)

    Alberto Padilla (North East)

    It was a pleasure for me to have met dear and wonderful brothers that I only knew through e-mail. The week my wife and I were there in beautiful California was a very fond and memorable experience for the both of us. In the love shown to us we truly saw the application of the inspired words of the apostle Paul in Hebrews 13:2 that says: "Do not forget hospitality, for through it some, unknown to themselves, entertained angels." We are forever grateful.

    The week of the Memorial and the Elders Conference was very encouraging and faith-strengthening. This Memorial in particular was a moving experience for me since it was very heartfelt and sincere. We were able to feel like a family in sharing that oneness of the body of Christ. The Elders Conference also proved to be a positive influence in strengthening our heart to "follow the Lamb no matter where he goes." This meeting brought together godly men who can focus their efforts and gifts to unite Christians in a strong fellowship. We dealt with major issues in which most agreed. When we closed with prayer I felt that a foundation was laid for us to move forward with this 'movement'. A peak to my joy was that through prayer we also were able to establish the 'founding elders' for the spiritual community known as the Friends of the Nazarene. It was and will continue to be a privilege and an undeserved kindness from our dear heavenly Father to work together with Mark, Ralph and Andy. My prayers are with all of you. Your brother, Alberto.

    Ralph Slaney (Spain)

    This week proved to be most encouraging and productive. I was very pleased to meet many of you that before I had only spoken to or heard of over the Internet. Yet there are still others I hope one day to meet who were unable to make it to California. It was very stimulating to meet with a larger group for the Memorial. Last year we had a family Memorial with nine at my house. However, this year at Hemet among brothers I had never seen face to face who obviously love our heavenly Father, I felt a close affinity. Others showed me wonderful hospitality.

    At the first annual Elders Conference of the Friends of the Nazarene many things were discussed. We were able to agree on all the major doctrinal issues and had a creative discussion about how to hold Christian meetings. We also talked about ways to spread the Gospel. It is hoped that some economic but thought provoking tracts could be produced.

    I was also invited to the conference of the Free Bible Students which I attended. This was also uplifting with lots of hymns and prayers. The brothers there were very pleasant. What I like about them is that they apparently are accommodating to various views but at the same time see the need to hold a close dependence upon God and our Lord Jesus Christ. I thank them.

    Lets us all keep in close contact with each other, because many are those that oppose us so lets continue to encourage each other. Your brother and Friend Ralph.

    Andy Weeks (Mid West)

    I was blessed with tremendous blessings by being able to visit with my brethren as well as attend the Memorial and the Friends of the Nazarene conference. The Apostle John states in his first epistle about our Master, "What we have seen... handled... heard..." and it was a great blessing to be able to do the same with the brethren. I was able to start a few new friendships and have cemented some old ones as well.

    While the Memorial was taking place I realized what a special occasion this was! There were brethren from the East Coast, West Coast, Spain, Midwest, most of whom I had never met before that day. Even so, the bond in Christ Jesus was very strong and cultivated fascination on my part. Some partook of the emblems for the first time and it was a joy to see the thankfulness in their hearts.

    Regarding the conference, I was unsure what to expect given that a have a
    Free Bible Student background. Any concerns I had going in were alleviated however. I appreciated the strong conviction of personal belief amongst the more studied Elders. Even more, I was impressed at the same time that others who are not as well studied in the Scriptures were allowed room for growth regarding prophetic matters. This was very encouraging to me. I often wished during the conference that other brothers could have been there with us. I hope that our Father opens the door for an opportunity for the other Research Associates to do this in the future. Perhaps, if our Father is willing, those of us in the mid-west could do something similar.

    I was glad to see some of the brothers able to attend the FBS conference as well. I enjoyed it very much and still think constantly during the day about "knowing Him and the power of the resurrection." I'm glad to see the crossover between the two groups and hope and pray that it will continue for years to come.

    I hope and pray for all of the Friends, and the efforts being made on their behalf is that our Father will richly prosper what we are doing. There is much work that can be done to further the gospel. Please pray for all us as well. - Andy


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