The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

Volume 3 – December 2000 (60 pages)

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Nazarene Saints Publishing© is a Bible research group for a better Scriptural understanding for serious students of the Bible. We are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid Friends of the Nazarene© to "follow the Lamb no matter where he goes." (John 15:14; 3 John 14; Revelation 14:4) The Friends of the Nazarene© is a spiritual community of Messianic Christians.  We are apologists dedicated to the defence 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 show respect for our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15)

Contributors:

Mark Heber Miller - - Senior Editor – Hemet, California

Ralph Slaney - - Senior Spanish editor - Almeria, Spain

Andy Weeks – - Webmaster – Chicago, Illinoise

Sergei Kremenitsky - - Russian translator - Kiev, Ukraine

James Noble - – Long Beach, California

Timo Koorns tra - – Dutch translation - Belgium

James McCarthy Sr. - – French translation - USA.

Luis Padilla - - Spanish Editor – Whittier, Calif

 

 

IN THIS ISSUE

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

==== END ====

 

FAITH PERSPECTIVES

"If we want truth,

every person ought to be free to speak what they think

without fear." [Erasmus (1520 AD)]

[A forum for the free and open expression of beliefs without fear.

We welcome brief thoughts and articles on any appropriate subject

addressed in a kind and respectful manner.]

words of encouragement

Yes, I'd love a copy of the Commentary On Romans. Please forward one to me.

Thank you and God bless you for your obedience. [Chris]

>>>>>

Thank you again and again for all your writings and thoughts.
Love in Christ, [G&M]

>>>>>

A great and eye opening site. I continue to read and learn from your articles. Is it possible to be put on your bible study list? I find the information I am getting challenging my churches ideas in a few areas. My church has made a remarkable turn around in Jesus’ Word - basically going from OT conventions to the NT ideals. Much has been learned and changed but I wonder if we have changed too much. Your Bible study seems like an ideal way to seek the truth. [Jim]

>>>>>

That reminds me of the many footnotes in the Nazarene Commentary 2000© that appeal to the reader's imagination. … It is refreshing and keeps me from reading the Bible from too large a distance. [TK – Belgium]

 

>>>>>

I just clicked that link and took a look at the H2O
site. I was absolutely shocked at some of the
absolutely garbage-y statements some participants have
posted to one another. It makes me appreciate the
Nazarene Friends group even more. The difference in
spirit is notable. Robert - California

>>>>>

You have been the subject of some posting on the xJW list for women I belong to.

Mark: "I hope it was positive? "

Very positive. … Wow! This is some achievement. But how could anyone expect any less from you? … Thank you so much. Your logic is brilliant as always and I was right in coming to the appropriate counselor. -- AM


>>>>>

Dear Mark,
What can I do to help others become aware of The Friends web site? Now that I
have been given the opportunity to help with the gospel thanks to you. I want
to do what I can according to your instructions. This will be new to me though
I have desired to help with the gospel. Yet I could not direct others to
groups I could not become a member of myself because of their teachings. I
enjoy reading and rereading the magazines. Now my attention is on the
September 1999 issue. A scripture I hold very dear is God is not respector of
persons not matter what some groups teach. To read about God and Judgment in the September issue is wonderful. To read how all will to judged by the
works we do in this life as the Bible teaches is refreshing. I believe a
group that teaches that God's judgment is fair and just will bring forth
fruit from all nations because all will feel welcome. That is the type of
group I would like to be apart of and I believe I have found it with the
Friends. In Christian love, Diane

>>>>>

I'm enjoying the list immensely. I wanted you to know that. I don't post. I just lurk, as my 2 cents wouldn't amount to a hill of beans what with my ramblings. [JM, Maine]

>>>>

I read with interest your email message. It is clear to me that It is food from our Master's table. May YEHOWAH bless your timely and obedient distribution of
his word and may strength be yours in Christ. – Mitch

>>>>

Hi Bro. Mark!

Bro. Timo has sent me the first pre-release of the Nazarene Commentary 2000© module made to be used with this OnLine Bible that we have been discussing. Bro. Mark, if you saw all this it would leave you shaking your head and saying, "how Great and Awe-inspiring God we serve!" What great gifts He has seen fit to give to men. The work that is currently going on reminds me of when the holy spirit first descended upon the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2: et al) and how everyone heard the apostles each speaking in their own language. This OnLine Bible and the Commentary module that Bro. Timo has made is like that great day.

Let me give you just a small example of what I mean: At the moment I have my OnLine Bible opened to Philippians 1:19 "Yes, and I shall rejoice. For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance..." I likewise have the NCNOTES opened in another window explaining that verse. In your note you point that Paul was alluding to Job 13:16 in the LXX. So I click on Job 13:16 in the commentary and it comes up in another window in the RSV (by the way, I have that set as my default version which is why it does this). Now, in this window I have that verse, next in the same window I can call that verse up in the Greek LXX, and then I can call up in the same window the English translation of that Greek. Now I can see what you meant, where you were refering to, etc, in boxes laid side by side with the commentary running underneath in plain view. But say that I want to research this theme of Salvation even further. In another box I can call up cross references to Job 13:16. Not only that, but I have the NCMM running across the top of the commentary as well!

All of this information I can see with just a few simple clicks. Not only this, but I have downloaded 18 different versions of the bible permitting me to view just this one verse in various other versions, plus in several Greek interlinear versions, the Syriac Peshettia, plus translations in 2 French versions, 2 Spanish versions, the Latin Vulgate, etc. As you can see there is an entire wealth of information---literally a virtual library---for comparison.

The amount of work that Bro. Timo has put into this work just boggles my mind---plus makes it so much easier on me for study and comparison. This module could really revolutionize the way the Brethren on our list study the Scriptures, spread the Word, and build us up in the Faith.

Well, Brother Timo said that he might write to you about this. But I couldn't contain myself and had to share with someone just how excited I am (I've already pestered the poor guy to death with my heaps of praise---and you know what a pest I can be >wink<). Anyway, I hope I didn't jump the gun too quickly here. If I did, just try to act surprised. >g<

Talk with you later Brother Mark. May Jehovah God continue to bless this work that you are doing. Peace in Christ, jimmymac

>>>>>

WHY I CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS

I celebrate Christmas as a Holy Day with the Center being on the Messiah.
It is a time of year that all have days off in our families and our only chance
of getting everyone together at one time and location.

I will not judge anyone on a particular day they chose to worship and glorify
God and his Son. It is a time we can share our faith, belief and hope in Christ.

Scriptural reference for not judging anyone in reference to a day of observance
is found in Colossians 2:16-23. In Christ, Dan

>>>>>

 

WHY I DO NOT CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS

I do not celebrate December 25th as the birth date of Jesus Christ. I do celebrate the birth of Christ as did the Heavenly Host, and there is a difference. One is a pagan holiday, and the other is the birth of the Savior of the world. I do celebrate giving. I celebrate charity. I celebrate good cheer and heavenly joy. I celebrate family togetherness. [MM - USA]

>>>>>

WHO WHERE THE FIRST TO CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF CHRIST?

Luke 2:8-14 -- Now there were shepherds in the same area who were living outside keeping watch at night over their flock. Then Jehovah’s angel appeared to them and Jehovah’s glory shown all around them and so they became frightened with a great fear. And the angel said to them: "Do not be frightened. For, behold, I declare to all of you a great joy for all the people. Because today there was born to you in David’s city a savior who is Lord Christ. And this will be your sign – you will find an infant wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager." Then suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of celestial armies praising the God and saying: "Glory to God in the heights, and on earth peace among men of goodwill!" [NCMM] [MM – USA]

 

>>>>

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DINOSAURS?

Despite reading Darwin’s Origin of Species and other related works, I am not an "evolutionist." When I was in my mid to late teens -- and my friends were all college and university students majoring in biology and geology – the theory of Uniformitarianism was an established "fact." Or, though it was thought. This theory believed that as things are today they have always been. That is, all the ancient past millions of years have proceeded in a uniform manner just as today.

Slowly over the decades since the 50s this idea has been radically altered. No decent biologist or geologist wanted to even give a hint of some kind of Biblical Flood. When it became evident that there have been major influences affecting the earth and life on it, the great glacial ages were the cause of obvious changes on earth. Of course, in doing this they agreed that water has been the major shaping influence – only disagreeing on its temperature – on dimensions equivalent to the Biblical Flood.

In more recent years this has changed even more. One now sees words once avoided – catastrophe, cataclysm – as actually having occurred with global results. Now many think a comet or gigantic meteor impacted the earth in Middle Amercia and sent a five-hundred-foot tidal wave around the earth several times. This also resulted in enormous climatic changes. Thus, water was still the reason for this cataclysm.

The word "cataclysm" is a Greek word that means "wash-down-much," that is a flood or deluge. This global catastrophe is thought to explain the sudden disappearance of dinosaurs and other living creatures. Indeed, some estimate that 30 million years ago 95% of ALL LIFE on earth was destroyed. So the 30 million species of life on earth today are the result of evolution over only 30 million years starting over with only 5% left to evolve into humankind.

This "cataclysm" scrapped up all the dinosaurs, other species, great rain forests, and deposited them into chasms and fissures. The results were the gigantic oil and coal deposits around the globe. It took humankind awhile to discover the use of these. First, as coal for heating, and much later natural gas. When scientists learned to crack petro-chemicals into gasoline, then heating oils, and thousands of other uses were discovered. One petroleum company’s logo was the dinosaur. Indeed, the world has become so dependent on petro-chemicals [also called "fossil fuels"] that it can see said the entire globe turns and lives on old dead dinosaurs that perished in the great cataclysm. Indeed, if all the products from these "fossil fuels" were to vanish, we would not be having this communication. You would possibly be half-naked, your water bottles would vanish, and virtually everyone in a hospital, airplane, highway would die. The planet has become absolutely dependent on fossil fuels.

This very need has now created two of the globe’s biggest problems: a] world economy and energy is a slave to fossil fuels; and, b] the habitat is in great danger from "global warming." Many scientists and informed observers have expressed great concern over both of these problems.

Now, my question on all of this is this: Did God know this would happen? Did God know that dinosaurs would be the cause to global warming and the possible ruin of the environment? Did God know that humankind’s economy would be so dependent on dinosaurs? Did God know that they factors could move the nations of the earth toward that final conflict called "Armageddon"? Time and prophecy will ultimately tell the tale, but it is an interesting thing to ponder. [Mark Heber Miller – California]

>>>>

 

=== END "FAITH PERSPECTIVES" ====

 

 

JEHOVAH CREATES A MASTER WORKER

By Mark Heber Miller – California –

 

What Did Jehovah Create?

Most of earth’s inhabitants throughout its history have believed in a Creator. Today 95% of the globe’s population believe this. Most of these believe the Creator created all of the visible, physical universe. Many also believe there is also an invisible realm created by God and that this includes what are called angels, gods, demons or spirits.

Among all these "angels" [ = messengers], or "sons of God," [Job 38:6] the Bible identifies someone unique and premier to all others save God Himself. This spiritual being is called "the Son of God" and is described by the beloved apostle John as "the only begotten god" who acts as a Word, or Spokesman, for the invisible God, explaining Him. [John 1:18] As a "son" such a being could not have always existed. He would have to come into existence at some point in the past. That is, he would have been "created" or "produced" by God before the calling into being all other things. For over two thousand years Proverbs 8:22-31 has been viewed by Christian scholars and lovers of His Word as a reference to the creation of this unique and particular "son of God." Let us review this amazing text. It begins …

 

Proverbs 8:22, "Yehowah created me [the] beginning of His way, before His ancient works." [These verses are taken from the new 21st Century Paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures [NCMM] of Proverbs as part of Nazarene Commentary 2000©.]

The King James Version of this verse uses "possessed me" instead of "created me." The Hebrew is QA-NA’NI [ = produced me; Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 7069, erect, create ]. The Greek EKTISEN ME means "created me." And, the Latin is POSSESDIT ME meaning "possessed me." It is clear the KJV and others have followed Jerome’s 4th Century Latin Vulgate. Other versions use: BAG: created me; NWT: produced me; RHM: constituted me; TAN: created me; NJB: created me; KJV: possessed me; JPS: made me; RSV: created me; NAB: begot me; BAS: made me; TAY: formed me; BER: made me.

In Proverbs the attribute of Wisdom is personified in several places and is shown to speak or cry out. Such "wisdom" had a "beginning" when it was created. Thus, such Wisdom did not always exist. For this reason this Wisdom could not be specifically describing God’s own inherent wisdom which has always existed.

The 3rd Century BC Jewish Septuagint version [LXX] uses ARCHEN for "beginning" just as John 1:1 does. Genesis 1:1 [LXX] also uses EN ARCHE ["in (the) beginning"]. Revelation 3:14 has the Glorified Christ calling himself, ARCHE TES KTISEOS TOU THEOU [ = the beginning of the creation of the God ] a virtual allusion to Proverbs 8:22.

The whole phrase, "Yehowah created me [the] beginning of His way," is rendered by others: KJV: The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way; JPS: the LORD made me as the beginning of His way; SPR: Jehovah possessed Me in the beginning of His going forths; RSV: the LORD created me at the beginning of his works; NAB: the Lord begot me, the firstborn of his ways; BAS: the Lord made me as the start of his way; TAY: the Lord formed me in the beginning; BER: the LORD made me in the beginning of His way; BAG: the Lord made me the beginning of his ways; NWT: Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way; NJB: Yahweh created me, first-fruits of his fashioning; TAN: the LORD created me at the beginning of His course; RHM: Yahweh constituted me the beginning of his way; NIV: the LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work; MOF: the Eternal formed me first of his creation; IB: Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of His way.

It is clear that versions are biased by their theology sometimes and those who hold that the Son, as Wisdom, always existed, tend to obscure what the original languages actually say.

 

 

Who is this Created Wisdom?

Paul taught, "Christ ... the Wisdom of God," and, "hidden in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom [Greek = sophias]." (1 Corinthians 1:24; 2:7; Colossians 2:3) It is hard to believe Paul could write this under inspiration and not echo Proverbs 8:22 where such Wisdom is mentioned to have existed with God before the creation of everything else. Is it fair to state this proves "Wisdom" was the first thing created? It also seems fair to conclude there can be only two meanings: a) God did not possess wisdom so created it as the first of His acts; or, b) Wisdom here personifies the Logos (the Word) as the Jewish philosopher -- and later apostolic fathers -- saw the Wisdom of Proverbs 8:22. We believe the first is ludicrous and thus the second is the most viable.

In Proverbs 8:12 the word for Wisdom is sophia (feminine) and this is the same word Paul used in the texts above, all feminine. Interestingly, some of these same words are used in describing that "Anointed Cherub who was in Eden." Note Ezekiel 28:13-15, "Thou wast in the delight of the paradise of The God. ... from the day thou was created [= ekisthes] thou wast with the cherub. ... Thou wast faultless in thy days that thou was created [= ekisthes] until iniquity was found in thee." (LXX Bagsters) The same word, created, used in Proverbs 8:22 is used (ekisthes) of the Devil.

Another word related to this in Proverbs and Ezekiel is that found at Colossians 1:15 where Christ is called, "the firstborn of all creation [= ktiseos]." And, again the beloved John uses the word at Revelation 3:14, "the beginning of the creation [= ktiseos] of The God." These later texts are in complete agreement with Proverbs 8:22, that "Christ [as the] ... the Wisdom of God" was created as the very first or beginning of God’s works.

 

How Did Early Christians Interpret Proverbs 8:22?

It seems that the first appearance of the Greek PROTO-KTISTOS [first+created; created + before] in Hellenist literature from the time of Homer is in the writings of the 1st Century Christian, Clement. In his work Stromata Clement calls Christ "first-created" [TON PROTOKTISTON]. He also composes the line [alluding to Proverbs 8:22]: TES SOPHIAS TES PROTOKTISTOU TO THEO. [ = "Wisdom that was the first created of God."]

One scholar comments on this: "Clement repeatedly identifies the Word [editor: John 1:1] with the Wisdom of God [editor: Proverbs 8:22], and yet he refers to Wisdom as the first-created; while in one passage he attached the epithet ‘first-created,’ and in another ‘first-begotten,’ to the Word. … At a later date a sharp distinction was drawn between ‘first-created’ and ‘first-born’ or ‘first-begotten,’ but no such distinction was drawn in the time of Clement [80-90 AD], who with the Septuagint rendering of a passage in Proverbs [8:22] before him could have had no misgiving as to the use of these terms. … Clement makes a sharp distinction between the Son and the Word who was begotten or created before the rest of creation and the alone Unbegotten God and Father." [Clement of Alexandria, John Patrick (1914)]

More than a century later this view had not changed. Compare the words of Justin Martyr in Dialogue With Trypho: "But this Offspring which was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures, and the Father communed with him; even as the Scripture [at Proverbs 8:22-31] by Solomon has made clear that he whom Solomon calls Wisdom, was begotten AS A Beginning BEFORE all His creatures and as Offspring of God. … We [Christians] know [Christ] to be the first-begotten of God, and to be before all creatures. … He is the Son of God and since we call him the Son, we have understood that he proceeded before all creatures from the Father by His power and will."

Thus, Willis B. Shotwell in The Biblical Exegesis of Justin Martyr concludes: "The language here is such that it cannot be argued that Justin considered the Logos to be eternal. The most that can be said about the Logos is that he was created before anything else." [London 1965]

Some think Paul’s language in Colossians 1:15 may have been borrowed from a Jewish contemporary, the Hebrew philosopher Philo Judaea. Philo writes in On the Confusion of the Tongues: "God’s firstborn, the Logos, who holds the eldership among the angels, [is] an archangel as it were."

There is another obscure phrase in Hermas [S. 5. vii (Lightfoot, page 207)]: "God ... created the people, and delivered them over to His Son. ... (who) is Himself Lord of the people, having received all power from His Father. ... The Holy Pre-existent Spirit, Which created the whole creation, God made to dwell in flesh that He desired. This flesh, therefore, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt, was subject unto the Spirit." Hermas seems to make clear God the Father is the Creator, and the Pneuma which He used in creation came to dwell within the Son and the Son’s flesh was obedient to the indwelling Pneuma.

The verses most often referenced by Trinitarians are those in S. 9.x, 12 (Lightfoot, page 229): "The Son of God is older than all His [God’s - editor] creation, so that He became the Father’s adviser in His creation. Therefore also He is ancient." We note Hermas says of the Son that he was "adviser" and "is ancient" not eternal. This term "adviser" may be drawn from Proverbs 8:22, 30 which reads in the Jewish Tanakh: "The LORD created me at the beginning of His course, as the first of His works of old. ... I was with Him as a confident."

Chapter CXXIX of Dialogue with Trypho has Justin Martyr quoting Proverbs 8:22 and applies the Wisdom to the Christ: "The Lord created me the beginning of His ways for His works. ... He begets me before all the hills." He adds: "You perceive, my hearers, if you bestow attention, that the Scripture has declared that this Offspring was begotten by the Father before all things created; and that which is begotten is numerically distinct from that which begets, any one will admit."

We are dealing first with Hebrew poetry loaded with metaphors and analogies. We note shifts in first person to third person. We note Prudence does not speak, only SOPHIA. What are the possibilities? First, how did the earliest Christian scholars of the 1st and 2nd centuries view the verse? Second, are there strong parallels between Proverbs 8:22 SOPHIA and the Son, or the Logos? Note how SOPHIA is compared to Christ:

Ignatius writes to the Magnesians (chp. 8 & 13): "There is one God who manifested himself through Jesus Christ his Son, who is his Word which proceeded from silence and in every respect pleased him [God] who sent him. … Jesus Christ was subject to the Father." Regarding the Spirit he says in his letter to the Ephesians (chp. 9): "The Holy Spirit does not speak His own things, but those of Christ, … even as the Lord also announced to us the things that He received from the Father. For, says He [the Son], 'the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father's, who sent Me.' "

THE FORMATION OF CHRISTIAN DOGMA (Professor Martin Werner, Bern) states: "The earliest Church authors, however, did not apparently take over their Logos doctrine from Gnosticism. (page 225) ... Thus in the great Gnostic systems, as later in Neoplatonism, the Nous [mind] held the place within the Church in its doctrine assigned to the Logos. ... Sometimes Philo is clearly the source of inspiration, sometimes Proverbs 8:22 ff., sometimes it is a question of an attempt at a compromise between this key passage [Proverbs 8:22] of the Old Testament and John i, I. (226) ... With Justin and Irenaeus the process of de-eschatologising the Primitive Christian conception of Christ, assisted by the Logos doctrine, was able even to achieve the transformation of the apocalyptic Christ into the Platonic World-Soul." (228)

Page 574 of Eusebius’ Preparation of the Gospel says, "And Solomon, David’s son and successor, presenting the same thought by a different name, instead of the ‘Word’ called Him Wisdom ... The LORD formed me as the beginning of His ways ... When He was preparing the heaven, I was beside Him.’ [Proverbs 8:22ff]"

Page 575 of the same work quotes Philo Iudaeus in his On the Confusion of Tongues: "For it becomes those who have made companionship with knowledge to desire to behold the true Being, but should they be unable, then at least to behold His image, the most holy Word. ... But even if one be not as yet worthy to be called the son of God, let him strive earnestly to be adorned after the likeness of His first-begotten Word, who is the eldest of the Angels, and as an Archangel, has many names. ... For the Universal Father made Him rise as His eldest Son, whom elsewhere He named ‘First-begotten.’"

 

Created Before What?

Proverbs 8:23, "I was established from times unknown, at the beginning, before He made the earth."

If the Bible taught the Son had always existed then Proverbs 8:22, 23 goes about explaining that in a contradictory manner. Wisdom describes its creation as "Before His ancient works." Or, KJV: before his works of old; JPS: the first of His works of old; SPR: before His works of antiquity; RSV: the first of his acts of old; NAB: the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; BAS: the first of his works in the past; TAY: before he created anything else; BER: before His works of old; NJB: before the oldest of his works; BAG: for his works; NWT: the earliest of his achievements of long ago; RHM: before his works, at the commencement of that time; TAN: as the first of His works of old; IB: from then, before His works; NIV: before His deeds of old. [For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on John 1:1, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:1-3, and Revelation 3:14.]

Wisdom says, "I was established from times unknown at the beginning: Or, IB: I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning; RHM: at the outset of the ages [age-during time] had I been established; KJV: I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning; AAT: in the earliest ages was I fashioned, at the first; LXX: before this age he founded me, in the beginning; BER: from everlasting was I anointed, from the beginning; BER: I was poured out from ages past, from the beginning; RSV: ages ago I was set up, at the first; NEB: alone, I was fashioned in times long past, at the beginning; NWT: from time indefinite I was installed, from the start; BAG: he established me before time was [ftn: before the age] in the beginning; NJB: from everlasting, I was firmly set [ftn: anointed], from the beginning; TAN: in the distant past I was fashioned, at the beginning.

One can see the bias of some Trinitarian renderings. The Hebrew is OWLAM [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 5769, concealed, vanishing point, out of mind] NACACH [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #5258, pour, cast, set up]. The Hebrew OWLAM, like the Greek AIONOS [LXX], may mean everlasting depending on the context; or, a period of unknown length, that is, an indefinite period of time.. Since the phrase OWLAM NACACH is paralleled with "at the beginning" it cannot mean "eternal" or "everlasting."

The parallels that follow deal with the beginning of the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1:1. "Wisdom" was "created" and therefore had a "beginning." The Greek LXX has the phrase PRO TOU AIONOS, which is literally "before the ages." Judging from what follows it refers to that time period BEFORE the creation of material heaven and earth. John 1:1 echoes the whole idea.

Wisdom makes it clear that its creation was "before He made the earth." [Or, created.] Yehowah is clearly the Creator and Wisdom is in His presence. If "wisdom" was created or had a beginning, then it means there was a time Yehowah lacked such wisdom. Paul echoes Proverbs 8:22 by referring to Christ as "the Wisdom of the God." [1 Corinthians 1:24] John writes, "The Word existed in the beginning," which is later associated with the cosmos, world, or humankind. [John 1:3, 10]

 

Who Was In God’s Presence? Before What Other Events?

Proverbs 8:24-29, "I was brought forth before He made the watery abyss – before there were any fountains gushing with water. [Yehowah] begot me before the mountains settled down, before the hills. I was in His presence when He prepared the Celestialum -- before He had yet made the earth and the uninhabited lands of vegetation – before even the dust particles of the cosmos. [I was in His presence] when he prepared the Celestialum, and when He marked out the depths as a sphere. When He established the clouds above -- when He made the fountains of the abyss powerful –when He commanded the Sea not to break His commandment – when He appoint earth’s foundations."

Wisdom not only says it was "created" but also uses the parallel, "I was brought forth." [KJV, SPR, NWT etc.] [Or, MOF: I was born (JB, TAN); BAS: I was given birth (NIV); TAY: I lived before; BAG: he begets me; NJB: I came to birth; RHM: I had been brought forth.] The Hebrew is CHUWL [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 2342, twist, whirl, bear, bring forth, be in pain] and is rendered, "I travailed" by IB. That is, Wisdom by its creation or birth experienced "birth-pangs." The Greek LXX is GENNA ME [birthed me].

Again Wisdom emphasizes that this creation or begetting was "before [Yehowah] made the watery abyss." [Or, KJV: when there was no depths; SPR: when no chaos; MOF: when there were no abysses; JB: the deep was not; BAS: no deep; TAY: before the oceans were created.] The LXX uses ABYSSOUS as it does at Genesis 1:2 [ABYSSOU]. Wisdom is saying that it was created or born before the events of Genesis 1:1, 2.

Who were present at the creation of the earth? Job 38:7, "When the morning stars sang together and all the divine beings [BENEH’ ELO-HIM’ = sons of God] shouted for joy." [TAN, Hebrew Text] The Greek text has it: "When the stars were made, all my angels [PANTES ANGELOI MOU] praised me with a loud voice." [BAG] Therefore, what is said here in Proverbs could be also said of the celestial beings that God created before He created the material world. Chief of these "angels" was the Word [ = Wisdom] the "firstborn [first-created] of all creation." Paul surely echoes this at Colossians 1:15-19.

Similar language is used of Satan in Ezekiel 28:12-16, "You … were full of wisdom. You have been in Eden, the garden of God. … You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created." If this is viewed literally as applying to Satan, then it could also be said of him that he was perfect wisdom "from the day you were created" before Eden was made. The LXX [Bagster] renders the Greek: "From the day you were created you were WITH THE CHERUB [possibly meaning the Word/Wisdom]." And after sinning, "the Cherub brought you out of the stones of fire." Thus, although all the angels, including Satan, would have also been present at the creation of the earth, there was One who was unique and premier above all these as "the only-begotten god." [John 1:18]

Wisdom says it was created or begotten before earth’s "fountains" just as Genesis 2:6 uses the same Greek PEGAS. Wisdom was begotten "before the mountains settled down." This parallel to the creation of Wisdom would make no sense if Wisdom had existed from eternity.

Wisdom says, "I was in His presence." [Or, In His preparation of the Heavens I was there.] The Hebrew is SHAM [or, SHEM; Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 8033/34, position] and the Greek is SYMPAREMEN AUTO [I was present with Him]. Or, I was there. [KJV, RHM, NEB, BAS, SPR; NWT, NJB]; TAN: I was there then.

Could Jesus, as Paul’s "wisdom of the God," also say this? Jesus prays to his Father in John 17:5, 24, "And now Father, You glorify me beside You with the glory I had beside You before the Cosmos existed. … I wish that where I am they also may be with me, so that they may behold my glory which You have given to me, because You loved me before the founding of the Cosmos." [NCMM] The Nazarene’s words are simple and straightforward: he pre-existed in his Father’s presence before the creation of the Cosmos [world]. [For more details on the pre-existence of Christ see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000© on John 1:1-3, 10, 30; 3:23; 6:33, 38, 51, 62. For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 search pre-existence in Matthew, Mark, Luke, Colossians 1:15, Philippians 2:5-7 and other places.]

Wisdom does not say this was from eternity but before "The dust particles of the cosmos." [Or, KJV: when he appointed the foundations of the earth; ASV: when he marked out the foundations of the earth; KNX: the foundations of the world; NEB: knit together earth’s foundations; LXX: prepared his throne upon winds [marked out]; NJB: the first elements of the world; RHM: the dry parts of the world [ftn: first of earth-particles]. And this is paralleled with what God did regarding the Sea or oceans. Wisdom was created or begotten, and in God’s presence, when He "marked out of the depths as a sphere."

Others render this: RHM: when he decreed a vault upon the face of the resounding deep; NJB: when he drew a circle on the surface of the deep; TAN: fixed the horizon upon the deep; NWT: decreed a circle upon the face of the watery deep; NIV: marked out the horizon on the face of the deep; KJV: set a compass; RV: set a circle; SPR: described a sphere upon; BAS: put an arch over; NEB: girdled the ocean with the horizon. The Hebrew is CHAQAQ [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 2710, engrave, prescribe, appoint, decree] CHUWG [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 2329, a circle, circuit, compass].

 

Who Was the Master Worker?

Proverbs 8:30, 31, "… then it was that I was in His presence like a master craftsman, arranging everything. And daily I was His delight and I rejoiced in His presence –rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth. And my delight was in humankind." [NCMM]

Wisdom calls itself a "master worker" who was in God’s presence before the creation of the earth. This designation is translated in several different ways. For example: KJV: one brought up with him; JPS: nursling; MOF: foster-child; ASV: master workman; JB: master craftsman; RHM: sure worker; NIV: craftsman; NWT: master worker [ftn: fosterling]; TAN: a confidant; LXX: arranging all things; NJB: master craftsman [ftn: artisan, artist].

The Hebrew is AMOWN [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 525, sense of training, skilled, architect]. Another Hebrew version carries the idea "beloved child" or "faithful disciple." It seems clear from John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-19, and Hebrews 1:1-3 that the Son was present as a creative agent. Many believe it is the Son who is included in the "us" of Genesis 1:26.

One version of the Greek Septuagint suggests a certain reading, "arranging everything." This is almost echoed at Hebrews 1:2, 3: "In these last days He spoke to us [Hebrews] by means of a Son whom He appointed heir of the Universe. By means of [His Son] [The God] made the Periods of Time. [The Son] is the very ‘reflection of His glory’ [Wisdom 7:22] and the very ‘imprint of His substance’. [Wisdom 7:22] [The Son] upholds the Universe by his powerful word. After [the Son] made a cleansing of the sins, he ‘sat down at the right hand of’ [Psalm 110:1] the Majesty in exalted places." [NCMM]

These words prove most interesting because Paul echoes or alludes to phrases used in Wisdom 7:22 where Wisdom [SOPHIA] is being described. Thus, we have a strong suggestion that the Wisdom [SOPHIA] of Proverbs 8:22 is the same as that "Son" Paul describes here in Hebrews 1:2, 3.

 

Delighting in Created "Wisdom"

Wisdom states that in God’s presence before and during earthly creation, "Daily I was His delight." [Or, JPS: I was daily all delight; MOF: I was his delight day after day; JB: delighting him day after day; RHM: filled with delight day by day.] May these be the creative days?

Wisdom says that God was delighted daily. We also take great delight in Wisdom Personified in Jesus Christ the Nazarene, now returned to the right hand of his Father. Proverbs 8:31 says that Jesus – "the wisdom of God" – took particular delight himself in humankind. We rejoice to know that not only was our Lord involved in our creation, but also he is fond of humanity in general. We rejoice to be that part of humankind that have come to believe "Yehowah created [Jesus] the beginning of His works."

==== END ====

 

 

The Golden Rule Around the World
Submitted by James Noble - California
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The same essential golden rule has been taught by all the major religions (and philosophies) of the world going back approximately 3500 years.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HINDUISM (Vedic religion from c. 13th century BC)
Do not do others what ye do not wish done to yourself...
--This is the whole Dharma, heed it well.
The Mahabarata, cited in Das, 1955, p. 398.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ZOROASTRIANISM (c. 12th century BC)
Human nature is good only when it does not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self.
Dadistan-i-Dinik, 94:5; in Müller, chapter 94, vol 18, 1882, p. 269.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
JUDAISM (c. 10th? century BC)
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor; that is the entire Torah; the rest is commentary; go learn it.
Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a, as cited in Glatzer, 1969, p. 197.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BUDDHISM (c. 6th century BC)
Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
Udanavargu, 5:18, Tibetan Dhammapada, 1983.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CONFUCIANISM (c. 6th century BC)
Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.
Confucius, Analects, 15:23, 6:28; Mahabharara, 5:1517,
in Confucius, The Analects, 1992.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BAHÁ'Í (c. 19th century AD)
Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not. This is my command unto thee, do thou observe it.
Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Arabic 29
[Editor’s note: Now compare the "Golden Rule" as stated by Jesus Christ the Nazarene.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. [Luke 6:13]
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. [Matthew 7:12]
In other words, the so-called Golden Rule as found in non-Christian sources is negative and passive, so that one could live in an isolated cave and still keep this Golden Rule. However, that of the Nazarene is proactive and requires positive action motivated by empathy to seek the highest good of another. [MM]

==== END ====

 

CHRISTIAN TESTIMONIES

LIFE STORIES IN SPIRITUAL JOURNEYS

 

SERGEI from Kiev, Ukraine

Dear brother

I’m happy to tell you tomorrow I’m sending you my Russian translation of that short version of "Nazarene Principles" you mailed me. I’m not sure you will be able to view it correctly (you should have Russian fonts support), if something is wrong, please, consult Andy Weeks (as far as I understood, he helps you managing the web site).

Sometimes I think: "I’m a kind of a grown up person, I have busy work day, wife to consider, son to care car, aging parents, I’m always worn out, and after all of this I have desperately not enough time to really study the Bible to the extent I truly want and need. So, no way to understanding, to knowing God, to worship him acceptably. After reading your story, Messianic Confession, I think different. I’m only 28, and there are lots to do and accomplish.

Now I plan to study web designing to make my own use of this ever reachable and extendable communication tool. Checking possibilities to learn Greek in Kiev (Kiev is viewed as "Mother of Russian cities" and a spiritual center of Orthodox Church).

My details. We live in a "flat" (4th floor) with small entrance hall and kitchen, standard conveniences and two rooms. It is close to the north-west outskirts of the city and not so noisy place as in the center. In ten minutes walk there is a wide and deep forest to spend time resting. Dnieper river is slowly flowing through the city dividing it in to parts. There are lots of small and big lakes around Kiev. Adding to it numerous parks and side street trees, makes Kiev city the coziest place to live in. I like it.

You know, my wife is anxious of what will happen to babies of those mothers, some of them may be even pregnant (now you see the reason of her concern), who will be viewed as faithful at Lord’s parousia and raptured into the heavens. I was not able to give a Scripture based answer. I would welcome any comment of yours.

Next week I plan to scan some pictures of my family so that you will be able to "look at the outward appearance". If you have any recent photos of you I will be happy to have them in my "gallery".

Always thinking of you with pleasure, I’m simply happy to read your encouraging replies. Do share with me your experience.

In trust in God the Father and faith in Lord Jesus.

With ever supporting hope,

Sergei.

>>>>>

John Lawrence – Maine, USA

DEAR MARK,

THANK YOU FOR THE INVITATION. MAYBE WHEN I AM RICH AND FAMOUS! HA

AT ONE TIME I MENTIONED THAT I WOULD RATHER KEEP A LOW PROFILE AND NOT ADVERTISE THE FACT THAT I LEFT THE Watchtower Society. HOWEVER, FEEL FREE TO USE MY NAME & EXPERIENCE, WHICH FOLLOWS. THANKS

IN 1978, AUGUST 6, I WAS BAPTIZED IN A PRIVATE CEREMONY. WHAT LED UP TO THIS WAS 18 MONTHS OF BIBLE STUDY. DURING THOSE 18 MONTHS I WENT FROM AN ATHEIST WHO KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE BIBLE OR GOD TO AN INDIVIDUAL WHO WAS SURE HE NOW KNEW GOD'S WORD AND PURPOSE. THE FIRST STUDY I HAD WAS EXPLAINING TO ME THE KINGDOM'S ESTABLISHMENT IN 1914. FROM THEN ON I WAS IMPRESSED BY THE WTS TEACHINGS. I STARTED GOING TO ALL THE MEETINGS RIGHT AWAY AND TOOK MY 6 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WITH ME. MY WIFE SOON FOLLOWED. LIFE WAS GOOD. I WAS SCHEDULED TO BE BAPTIZED AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION IN NEW ORLEANS AT THE SUPERDOME IN 1978. THE DAY BEFORE THE BAPTISM MY LUNG COLLAPSED WHILE WAITING IN LINE TO GET THE NEW CHILDREN'S BOOK, "MY BOOK OF BIBLE STORIES". WE LEFT THE NEXT MORNING FOR HOME IN MOBILE, ALABAMA. AFTER I RECOVERED ONE OF THE ELDERS IN THE CONGREGATION GAVE A SHORT BAPTISM TALK AT THE HALL AND I WAS BAPTIZED IN A LOCAL BROTHER’S SWIMMING POOL. THIS WAS DONE SO I COULD BE BAPTIZED IN THE LOCATION WHERE I LEARNED THE "TRUTH".

THE NEXT WEEK WE WERE TO MOVE OUT OF STATE. MOVING AROUND HAD BECOME A WAY OF LIFE FOR US AND STILL IS. THIS SLOWED ME UP A LITTLE ON MY PROGRESS. MY WIFE WAS BAPTIZED THE FOLLOWING YEAR. I WAS APPOINTED A MINISTERIAL SERVANT TOWARD THE END OF 1979. SIX YEARS LATER AND ANOTHER MOVE I WAS APPOINTED AN ELDER AND ASSIGNED THE SECOND SCHOOL. THE NEXT YEAR AND ANOTHER MOVE I WAS IN ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A NEW CONGREGATION AND WAS MADE THE SCHOOL SERVANT IN THE MAIN HALL. I KEPT THIS POSITION FOR12 YEARS AND THREE MOVES AND THREE CONGREGATIONS. THE LAST APPOINTMENT I HAD WAS THE WATCHTOWER CONDUCTOR.

NOW I PAID MORE ATTENTION TO WHAT THE SOCIETY WAS TEACHING. I WAS STILL WEARY FROM THE ARTICLES ON "GENERATION" A FEW YEARS EARLIER. I WAS ALSO GETTING BURNED OUT WITH ALL THE ACTIVITY, WORK, MEETINGS, CONDUCTING TWO MEETINGS, TALKS AND SERVICE. THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMELS BACK WAS THE OUTRAGEOUS ARTICLE ON THE CHIEFTAIN. I VOICED SEVERAL COMPLAINTS TO "CLOSE FRIENDS?". THE NEXT THING I KNEW THE CIRCUIT OVERSEER, P.O. & SECRETARY WANTED TO TALK WITH ME. I STEPPED DOWN AS AN ELDER BEFORE THEY ASKED AND SOON JUST LEFT.

IT TOOK ME ALMOST A YEAR TO RECOVER EMOTIONALLY AND MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY. THANKS TO OUR HEAVENLY FATHER AND OUR LORD JESUS I AM FREE OF THE CONTROL THE [SOCIETY] HAD OVER ME. I CAN ONLY SUGGEST TO THOSE WHO MIGHT BE CONTEMPLATING LEAVING TO NOT RUN AWAY BUT WALK AWAY. MARK MILLER HAS MUCH GOOD INFORMATION TO FILL ONES MIND, ALSO RAYMOND FRANZ HAS WRITTEN TWO BOOKS WHICH ARE ENCOURAGING AND UP BUILDING AND INSIGHTFUL INTO THE WORKINGS OF ORGANIZATIONS AND THE GOVERNING BODY. THE MOST ESSENTIAL READING, THOUGH, IS GOD'S WORD. IT HAS A GREAT HEALING CAPACITY. WITH NO ONE TRYING TO TELL YOU HOW YOU SHOULD READ OR THINK ABOUT THE BIBLE IT WILL BECOME FRESH AND EXCITING TO YOU. NOW THAT YOU ARE FREE FROM MEN DO NOT BECOME SLAVES TO ANYONE. I WISH YOU WELL.

JOHN PARTRIDGE LAWRENCE

==== END ====

 

Spiritual Depression

—Its Causes and Cure

By James Noble - California

Why are you downcast, O my soul? And why are
you so disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I
will yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.

Psalm 42:5

Why are you downcast, O my soul? And why are
you so disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I
will yet praise Him, who is the health of my
countenance and my God.

Psalm 42:11

An interesting phenomenon has been observed. A dreaded, often debilitating, condition is afflicting vast numbers of men and women who, many believe for certain seemingly logical reasons, particularly should not be victims of it. This dreaded condition is a particular type of depression; the sufferers are Christians. Since depression has become increasingly common and obviously effects many people of religious persuasions other than Christian, as well as non-religious persons, let us make it clear from the start that the type of depression we are defining here is quite distinct in origin from the so-called 'endogenous', bio-chemically or physically caused types that health-practitioners often treat with pharmaceutical medications. While there definitely is some overlap causationally with other emotionally induced depressions, we shall see the cause (or causes) of this particular type to be mostly spiritual in nature. Since Christians are by definition spiritual persons leading spiritual lives (or, let's say, at the very least spiritually inclined persons seeking to lead spiritual lives), it should not be surprising that aspects of a Christian's spiritual life could potentially produce an adverse emotional effect , just as a person's physical life-style may adversely effect him or her physically or emotionally. For these reasons it seems quite appropriate to call this condition spiritual depression.

The idea that something about one's spiritual condition is the basic cause of depression is not an original one. Author D. Patrick Miller explored the spiritual meaning of depression in The Book of Practical Faith, wherein he states: "Though depression is widely regarded as a psychological or biochemical disorder, I have come to understand it also as a form of spiritual crisis." Also, Psychiatrist Alexander Lowen, author of Depression and the Body, expressed a similar thought. The cause-effect relationship of 'spiritual crisis' to depression is applied by these authors to depressed persons per se, not just to Christians. But we shall see that, in the case of Christians, there frequently are --in a much stronger and more specific sense-- spiritual causes for their depressed condition. This, however, is not a fact that should in any way make one feel more down or depressed or discouraged, but it actually is good news, as it means the condition can be healed, as we shall see.

Spiritual depression is not a recent phenomenon and neither is it unique to just the Christian worshipers of God. It is described in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures as afflicting people worshiping God right from the beginning. Since this particular theme is dealt with so frequently in the Bible one can not help but conclude that it is a very common condition of God's worshipers throughout the history. This fact, sad as it may be in itself, is very much to our advantage, as we shall see.

No one could properly think that the 'faithful men of old' in the Bible were in any way essentially different than we are today. There is no reason to believe that they were made emotionally superhuman due to some miraculous action of God's Holy Spirit. Neither were people in those days in general simply made of 'stronger stuff' than those of us living today. Anyone who comes to such conclusions has obviously not read the Scriptures with very close attention nor with much comprehension. James, for example, stated in the fifth chapter of the book bearing his name: "Elijah was a man with feelings like ours". Paul, wrote in his letter to the Christians at Phillipi that their spiritual brother Epaphroditus was depressed. (Phillippians 2: 25, 26) And men assigned to shepherd the Spirit-anointed Christians in the Thessolonica congregation were counseled to "speak consolingly to the depressed souls" under their care. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

 

WHY EXAMINE THIS SUBJECT?

It is vitally important that we approach this particular subject with proper motive. There is, in fact, more than one appropriate reason for considering this subject. First, there is the obvious objective of helping those Christian men and women who are suffering from this troubled state so they may be delivered from it. Depression seems in many ways to at once be the particular trouble with many of God's people and, perhaps, the special problem troubling them. The fact is large numbers of Christian people today give the impression of being unhappy. They are downcast, their souls are 'disturbed (or 'disquieted' [AV]) within them' as was that of the Psalmist writing about himself in Psalm 42, quoted above.

Our objective, then, is to find out why this is so and what can be done to remedy it. They are experiencing this unhappiness, this 'disquiet', this tension, this lack of ease that is described so perfectly by the Psalmist from his own experience. It is very sad to contemplate the fact that there are Christian people who live the greater part of their lives in this world in such a condition. it does not mean that they are not Christian. It does mean, however, that they are missing a great deal. They are missing so much, in fact, that it is vitally important that —if only for their sakes—we inquire extensively into the condition of spiritual depression outlined in this Psalm.

Another appropriate reason for considering the causes of spiritual depression --one that we can not side step-- is that a depressed Christian is a very poor recommendation for the power of the Good News of God's Kingdom. A Christian who is depressed gives a very poor testimony that the news of the kingdom is good. This is not meant to make a depressed Christian more discouraged than he or she may already be, but, the truth is that, in a sense, a depressed Christian is a contradiction in terms. But that very fact should give us more motivation to get well, and it means as well as that the condition can be remedied.

The exuberant joy of the early Christians was one of the most potent factors in the spread of Christianity ('Why are these people so happy?'). And we know that throughout the age since then God has extended His kingdom in part through His people. He has oftentimes done some of the most notable things in the history of the Christian congregation through the example of the simple Christian living of some quite ordinary people. We must remember that we are living in a pragmatic age where people are not primarily interested in Truth, but in results.

The one question they ask is: "Does it work?" Many are frantically seeking and searching for something that can help them. This can be seen by the proliferation of 'self-help' books on the best seller lists, various seminar courses purporting to teach 'self-empowerment,' as well as new religions/cults claiming to have the solution or at least a solution to the problems of life.

Nothing is more important, therefore, than that we should be delivered from a condition which gives other people, looking at us, the impression that to be a Christian means to be unhappy, to be sad, morbid, and that the Christian is one who leads a joyless, laborious life.

There are many in the world observing this who indeed give this as a reason for not being Christian, and for giving up all interest they may ever have had in the Christian faith. In fact, some are very fond of contrasting Christians with people out in the world who seem to be so thrilled by the things in which they have chosen to believe. They are full of excitement and want everybody to know it. But Christian people too often seem to be perpetually in the doldrums and too often give this appearance of unhappiness and of lack of freedom and of absence of joy.

There is no question that this is the main reason why large numbers of people have ceased to be interested in Christianity. And —let us be quite frank and admit it— we must confess that their criticism is a fair and totally understandable one and there is definitely some justification for their attitude.

It behooves us, therefore, that —not just for our own sakes, but also for the sake of the Kingdom of God itself and the glory of Christ in whom we believe—we represent Him and His cause, His message and His power in such a way that men and women, far from being repelled, will be drawn and attracted as they observe us. This experience can obviously result in adding to the Christian's joyfulness and make being a Christian far more meaningful and spiritually fulfilling than otherwise.

We will examine, therefore, the causes of spiritual depression and the way in which it should be treated in the light of Scriptural example and instruction. Perhaps nowhere in the Scriptures is the plight of a depressed worshipper of God better portrayed than in this Psalm we are about to consider. It has been written that the Psalms 'are inspired revelations of truth, not abstractly, but in the terms of human experience. The truth revealed is wrought into the emotions, desires, and sufferings of the people of God by the circumstances through which they pass.'

The truthfulness of that description is undoubtedly the reason why the Psalms have always proved to be a great source of solace and encouragement to God's people throughout the centuries, first to the children of Israel and then to the members of the Christian Congregation. In them we are able to watch noble souls struggling with their problems and with themselves. They talk to themselves and to their souls, baring their hearts, analyzing their problems, chiding and encouraging themselves. Sometimes they are elated, at other times depressed, but they are always honest with themselves. That is why these Psalms are of such real value to us if only we also are honest with ourselves.

 

A GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE CONDITION,

ITS CAUSES AND ITS TREATMENT

Spiritual depression has many causes. Since that is so it therefore will take some explaining to completely cover the subject For that reason, we must make an extensive analysis of the subject. But, these days it seems we are all in such a hurry. People want everything at once. Many of us do not even take the time or give the attention needed to get proper instructions from our doctors on how to take the medicine he or she has just prescribed for us. Every thing must be 'fast and easy.' When people ask questions they want concise answers rather than a detailed explanation. We believe that all truth can be stated in a few minutes. In reality, it cannot.

A good way of facing any problem in the spiritual life is always to start with the Bible. The Bible has not only explicit teaching on every human condition, but also good examples and illustrations which clarify what can be done, as well as what should not be done. We must really start, then, with a general picture of our subject, to first lay a ground work that will allow us to understand a more detailed examination of the reasons for the condition. We will proceed along two lines. First of all, we must deal with the Biblical teaching pertaining to this matter, looking at certain notable examples in the Bible illustrating this condition, and then observe how the persons concerned behaved and how God dealt with them.

To do this we start with Psalm 42. In this particular Psalm which we are going to consider the Psalmist is unhappy and in trouble. That is why he cries out in the dramatic words: "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him who is the health [or salvation] of my countenance, and my God." This statement, which occurs twice in this Psalm, is found also in the following Psalm. (Some, in fact, regard Psalm 43 as being part of the same statement and not a separate Psalm.)

 

WHAT THE CONDITION LOOKS LIKE

Nowhere can we find a better description of spiritual depression that that which is given us here by this man. In fact, it is an extraordinarily accurate picture of the condition. Read the words and you can almost see the man looking cast down and dejected. You can almost see it in his face. The Psalmist is giving an account of his unhappiness, the unhappiness of his soul, the condition through which he was passing when he wrote these words. He tells us the cause of his unhappiness. It seems that, first of all, he was at this particular time prevented from joining with others in public worship in the House of God.

This in it self caused him much unhappiness, but also certain enemies were attacking him. These enemies may have even been men from among his own people or they could have been loved ones of his who had turned against him for self-serving reasons. In any event, there clearly were persons whose actions were greatly depressing him and his account of that has been included in the Bible by divine direction so as to be of benefit to persons since then right up to us day. We will be interested chiefly, however, in two aspects of what he writes— the way in which he faces the situation and the way in which he deals with himself.

First, notice the difference between verse 5 and verse 11. Take verse 11:'"Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance and my God.' In verse 5 he puts it: 'Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of his countenance.' Did you notice: in verse 5 he declares that the sight of God's countenance is always helpful; but by verse 11 he speaks of his own countenance as being made healthy. In other words the man who is dejected and disquieted and miserable shows it in his face. He looks troubled and he looks worried. If we had the power to see ourselves as others see us, it would often times be the main step to victory and release.

It is good to look at ourselves and to try to conjure up this picture that we are presenting to others: a depressed person, tearful and weeping, not wanting to eat (the Psalmist says his tears have been his "food" or "meat" [AV]) or to see anybody. Such a one is so preoccupied with his miseries that the kind of picture and impression presented is quite naturally one of gloom and depression. Now that we have described the condition in general, we can proceed to state some of the general causes of it.

 

WHY ME? OR, WHAT TEMPERAMENT TYPE AM I?

First and foremost we must consider temperament. There simply are different types of people. There is no getting around that fact. Christianity, to the surprise of some people, does not do away with that. Temperament, psychology and make-up do not make the slightest difference in the matter of our salvation, however. There is every conceivable type of temperament in the congregation of the living God. But one's temperament does not have any effect on his or her salvation. It does not matter what we are by temperament; we are all saved in the same way, by the same act of God in and through His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can thank God for that. However, while it does not effect our salvation, it does make a very great difference in our actual experience in Christian life now.

The fact of the matter is that though we are all Christians together, we are all different is some ways. Therefore the problems and the difficulties, the perplexities and the trials that we are likely to meet are in a large measure determined by the difference of temperament and of type. We are all in the same fight, of course, and have the same common central need. But the manifestations of the trouble vary from case to case and from person to person. There is nothing more futile, when dealing with this condition, than to act on the assumption that all Christians are identical in every respect. They are not, and they are not meant to be.

For the purpose of our consideration we will use a model that simply divides people into two main types. There are, in this model we are using, the so-called introverts and the extroverts. That is, there is the type of person who is generally looking inwards and the type of person who is always looking outwards. It is of the greatest importance that we should realize not only that we belong to one or the other of these two groups, but furthermore that this condition of spiritual depression tends to affect the one more than the other.

There is, therefore, nothing quite so important as that each of us should without delay, as quickly as possible, get to know him or her self. We must start by knowing ourselves and by understanding ourselves. In fact, the chief reason why so many today in general are living superficial Christian lives is that they will not take time to examine themselves. If that is so damaging to many Christians who are not depressed, it is especially important that the depressed Christian does self-scrutiny, gets self-knowledge.

 

THE TYPE THAT IS PRONE TOWARD DEPRESSION

One of these types is particularly prone to spiritual depression. This does not mean that they are any worse than others. Quite often, in fact, the people who stand out most gloriously in the history of true worship are people of this very type. Some of the greatest 'saints' belong to the introverts; the extrovert is often a more superficial person. In the natural realm there is the type of person who tends to be always analyzing himself, analyzing everything he does and what has been done to him, and worrying about the possible effects of his actions, always harking back, always full of vain regrets and blaming. He cannot undo what has been done, but he still spends his time analyzing and judging and blaming himself or others. All that is transferred into the spiritual realm and into their spiritual life. It is obvious that the danger for such people is to become morbid.

The two terms indicate that the fundamental trouble with these people is that they are not always careful to differentiate between self-examination and introspection. We can all agree on the value of examining ourselves, getting to know ourselves as we are, but we also agree that introspection and morbidity are harmful. So, what is the difference between examining oneself and becoming introspective? A balanced Christian examines himself periodically because of a conscious decision to do so with the purpose of improving himself spiritually and thereby pleasing God in a greater way by living more in imitation of Christ. The introspective person agonizingly examines himself continually, compulsively, and not with a healthy spiritual motive. In fact, he almost does nothing but examine himself. Self-examination becomes the main and chief end in his life. He, as it were, constantly puts his soul, and his life experience, on a plate and dissects it.

How can we know which type we are? If we are always talking to people about ourselves and our problems and troubles, and if we are forever going to them with that kind of frown upon our face and saying: I am in great difficulty, or if we are simply ruminating about these things in our own minds—that is probably a sure sign that we are all the time centered on ourselves. That is introspection, and that, in turn, leads to morbidity.

Here then is the point at which we must start. We must know ourselves. Do we know our own particular tendencies and particular danger? Do we know the thing or things to which we are particularly subject? The Bible warns us to be careful about our strength and about our weakness. Take Moses. He was the meekest man then in the world we are told; and yet his great sin, his great failure was in connection with that very thing. He asserted his own will. He became angry. The essence of wisdom is to know what we are, to know our strengths and our weaknesses. If I am naturally an introvert I must always be careful about it, and I must warn myself against it lest I unconsciously slip into a condition of morbidity. The extrovert must likewise know himself and be on guard against the temptations peculiar to his nature. But, some of us, by nature and by the very type to which we belong, are more given to this dis-ease of spiritual depression than are others.

 

YOUR PHYSICAL CONDITION A FACTOR, TOO

We cannot ignore that physical conditions can play their part in all this. It is very difficult to draw the line between this and the previous cause because temperament seems to some degree to be controlled by our physical condition and there are certain people who constitutionally, in almost a physical sense, are prone to this condition. There are certain physical ailments that tend to promote depression. Gout, for instance, or any condition of chronic pain for that matter, is one. Into this group you can also put, generally speaking, tiredness, overstrain, and almost any form of illness or physical distress. You cannot completely isolate the spiritual from the physical for we are body, mind and spirit. The greatest and the best Christians, when they are in a physically weakened state, are more prone to an attack of spiritual depression than at any other time, as is greatly illustrated in the Scriptures.

 

EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCES AND DEPRESSION

We usually think of sad or tragic or disappointing or hurtful experiences as precipitating depression. We will deal with that later in our consideration. However, it is a strange phenomenon that spiritual depression frequently occurs also following a great blessing or is a reaction after some unusual and exceptional experience. We may see this illustrated in the Bible with Elijah when he was under the Juniper tree after what had happened on Mount Carmel. (1 Kings 19) He became discouraged. His attack of this spiritual virus came --as it does to many of us-- at a time when he had just passed through a great victory and when he was physically exhausted. To add to the situation, he had just received the word of the wicked queen that she had vowed to kill him. So, "when he saw that , he arose and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba...left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and st down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die." (1 Kings 19:3,4) Abraham had a similar experience. (Genesis 15) It is good to be aware of this possibility, as inexplicable as it may be to us.

 

THE DEVIL

In the broadest view the one and only cause of spiritual depression is the Devil. [Editor: Indeed, the Greek word often translated "depression" is aDEMONon. (Philippians 2:26)] He is the god of this world and the adversary of our souls. [2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Peter 5:8] He can use conditions around us, our temperaments, our physical condition and our own minds against us. [Job 1, 2] He so deals with us that we allow our temperament to control and govern us, instead of keeping temperament where it should be kept. He plays upon our weaknesses. He may know us better than we know ourselves. There is no end to the ways in which the devil produces spiritual depression. We must always bear him in mind. The devil's one object is so to depress God's people, not only in order to get them down, but that he can go to the man of the world and say: There are God's people. Do you want to be like that? Obviously the whole strategy of the adversary of our souls, who is also God's adversary, is to depress us and to keep us looking as long as possible as this man in the Psalms looked when he was passing through this period of unhappiness.

We must never forget the existence of the Devil and his machinations. [Ephesians 6:12, 13] On the other hand, we must not allow him to trap us into regarding as spiritual that which is fundamentally physical. But we also must be careful in drawing this distinction, because if you give way to your physical condition you become guilty in a spiritual sense. If you recognize, however, that the physical may be partly responsible for your spiritual condition and make reasonable allowances for that, you will be better able to deal with the spiritual.

 

FAITH AND BELIEF

In the final analysis, the ultimate cause of all spiritual depression is unbelief, weak or non-existent faith in God. Psychiatrist Alexander Lowen wrote in his book Depression and the Body that he could not avoid the evidence that lack of faith is the main factor in depression, and that it is not merely lack of faith in 'life,' but, undeniably, lack of faith in God that is involved. For if it were not for unbelief even the devil could do nothing. It is because we listen to the devil instead of listening to God that we go down before him and fall before his attacks. That is why this psalmist keeps on saying to himself: 'Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him. . . .' He reminds himself of God. Why? Because he was depressed and had forgotten God, so that his faith and his belief in God and in God's power, and in his relationship to God, were not what they ought to be. We can sum it all up by saying that the final and ultimate cause is just sheer unbelief.

 

TREATMENT: A GENERAL CONSIDERATION

We have up to this point looked at the general causes of spiritual depression. But now what about the treatment for it? Briefly, the first thing we have to learn is what the Psalmist learned—we must first learn to take ourselves in hand. This man was not content just to lie down and commiserate with himself. He does something much more about it, he takes himself in hand. But he does something that is more important still: HE TALKS TO HIMSELF. This man turns to himself and says: 'Why are you cast down O my soul, why are you disquieted within me?' But isn't this contradictory to what we just said above against being introspective because it leads to morbidity? No, it is not. You see, the important thing is that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing our 'selves' to talk to us! And this is the main trouble in this matter of being spiritually depressed, that we allow our 'self' to talk to us instead of talking to our self. This is not paradoxical.

Do you realize that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to your (sinful) self instead of talking to yourself? That inner voice starts expressing thoughts in your head the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated the thoughts, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, the problems you may face today, etc. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man's treatment was this: instead of allowing his self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. 'Why are you cast down, O my soul?' he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: 'Self, listen for a moment , I will speak to you and put you straight'. Do you understand this? It is really everyone's situation and everyone's need that is dealt with here.

The main art in spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: 'What are you so down about?'—what reason do you really have to be depressed? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, reason with yourself and say to yourself: 'You! Hope in God!'—instead of letting your self get you muttering in a depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who He is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has promised He will do. Having done that, then defy yourself, defy other people, defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: 'I shall yet praise Him for the help of his countenance, He who is also the health of my countenance and my God'!

Yes, the Psalmist is saying in effect: 'When I really look at God, I get better, and as I get better my face or countenance gets better also —'He is the health of my countenance.' I then lose that drawn, haggard, vexed troubled, perplexed, introspective appearance and I begin to look composed and calm, balanced and bright.' This is not the putting on of a mask, but something that is inevitable. If we are depressed or unhappy, focused on ourselves, we will show it in our face. On the other hand, if we are in the right relationship with God and in a true spiritual condition, that again quite inevitably must express itself in our countenance. This does not mean, however, to perpetually have an inane grin on our faces that some seem to think is essential to the manifestation of true Christian joy. You will not need to put anything on, it will be there; it cannot help expressing itself—'He is the health of my countenance.'

That is treatment in a nutshell. As we proceed with our consideration of this subject we can but only elaborate on that. But the essence of this matter is to understand that this self of ours, this other man within us, has got to be handled. Do not listen to him; turn on him; speak to him; condemn him; upbraid him; exhort him; encourage him; remind him of what you know, instead of listening placidly to him and allow him to drag you down and depress you. For that is what he will always do if you allow him to be in control. The devil takes hold of self and uses it in order to depress us. We must stand up as this man did, question it and say: 'Why are you cast down? Why are you disquieted within me?' Stop being so! 'Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance,' He, 'who is the health of my countenance and my God.'

END OF PART I

==== END ====

 

LIBERATED CHILDREN AND THE INDWELLING SPIRIT

A Commentary on Romans Chapter Eight

By Mark Heber Miller ©MM – California –

 

All humankind came under the burden of sin following the rebellion in Eden. [Romans 5:12] God told Adam his entire life would be a "season of groaning pain" when he passed this judgment on our original parents: "The ground is cursed because of you and so throughout your life you will eat its produce in pain. It will grow thorns and nettles for you. … By the sweat of your brow you will eat bread until you finally return to the ground." [Genesis 3:18, 19 NCMM]

Then for 1,500 years God’s People Israel came under another burden – the Law of Moses. It did not liberate them but turned them into slaves. How can such worshippers gain a freedom and at the same time become children of God? How and when will these "sons of God" be revealed to all the world? Will humankind in general some day experience the freedom of the children of God?

We come to one of the most beloved chapters in the Christian Bible – Romans chapter eight. It surely ought to be one part of the Scriptures that each Nazarene disciple learns AND understands. From the subjects of laws and principles in chapter seven Paul moves to the liberating spirit -- or Pneuma, among his favorite words. Though there are those united in Christ as his disciples there are two kinds of minds: the fleshly [the Physical] and the spiritual (the Pneumatic). One leads to death and the other to life and peace. No fleshly-minded Christian can ever please God. Paul writes:

 

FREEDOM AND THE INDWELLING SPIRIT

ROMANS 8:1-8

1 Therefore, there is no condemnation against those united with Christ Jesus. 2 For the spiritual principle of the life united with Christ Jesus completely liberated you from that principle of the sin and death. 3 Because the Law [of Moses] is impotent because of the flesh’s weakness. The God Himself, by sending His Son concerning sin in the likeness of sinful flesh judged against fleshly sin. 4 In order that the righteous demands of the Law [of Moses] may be [rightly] fulfilled in us -- those not conducting ourselves in harmony with the flesh but rather in harmony with the Pneuma. 5 For those who are in harmony with the flesh are thinking about fleshly things. However, those in harmony with the Pneuma the things of the Pneuma. 6 Because fleshly thinking means death, but Pneumatic thinking [means] life and peace. 7 Because fleshly thinking [means] enmity with The God, for [such thinking] will not subject [itself] to the Law of The God -- nor ever can be. 8 Those who are fleshly can never please God. [NCMM]

Anyone who has ever been condemned by another – whether justly or unjustly – knows the feeling of guilt and shame. The depressing experience of the burden of a conscience that only condemns is unsettling, and like a bad nightmare, seems never to release its breathless grip. The very idea that we might be relieved of such a spirit of condemnation – that there might just be some hope – brings relief just in the thought. The reality that we may not be guilty after all – not just from the perspective of judgmental associates, but from God’s own view – causes our hearts to leap with joy in anticipate of a new sense of freedom! This is the very promise Paul introduces with Romans chapter eight.

While those Jews under the Law rested under a curse and possible condemnation [Galatians 3:10], the liberated Christian Saint united with Christ rests under no such condemnation. [Or, KJV: there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus; MOF: no doom] These are most comforting words for Friends of the Nazarene. [Colossians 1:22] This sense of no condemnation from God results in a cleansed and perfected conscience. [Hebrews 9:9, 14; 10:22]

This does not say there will be no "judgment" for Christ Jesus, Paul, Peter and John all teach a future parousia-judgment. (John 5:29; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28; Matthew 25:1-46) Each Christian Saint will stand before the judgment-throne of Lord Messiah to receive just payment or punishment for conduct while living in the human body.

The question becomes what does it mean to be "in" Christ. The Greek is simply EN, as the English "in." It can mean united, belonging to, incorporate with, in union with. The phrase occurs scores of times in Paul’s epistles. (Romans 8:1, 2, 10; 12:5; 16:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 15:18; 16:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 12:2; 13:5; Galatians 1:22; 2:4, 20; 3:28; 5:10; Ephesians 1:1, 3, 4, 11; 2:6, 7, 10, 13, 15, 21, 22; 3:6; 6:1; Philippians 1:1; 3:9; 4:21; Colossians 1:2, 27, 28; 2:6; 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:14; 4:16; 5:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:1, 12; 2 Timothy 1:1; 2:10) The word "in" suggests a relationship with Christ where heart and mind are one.

Paul writes that this lack of condemnation is because of "The spiritual principle of the life united with Christ Jesus." Other versions render this phrase "spiritual principle" as KJV: for the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus; PME: new spiritual principle of life; WEY: for the spirit’s law -- life in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 5:16; James 1:25) Here Paul adds another "law" to his list -- a spiritual one related to justification and sanctification resulting in a spiritual life with promises of an immortal existence. [See notes on Romans 2:5, 6]

The Greek word PNEUMATOS (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4151 - PNEUMA) occurs 38 times in Romans and 22 times in chapter 8 -- surely the key word of the chapter. The Greek literally means breath or wind (an invisible force or pressure), often translated by the English "spirit." PNEUMA is used of mind, disposition or attitude, spirit-being, pressure or inclination.

This spiritual law or principle frees the Saint from that law or principle of sin and death inherited from Adam’s defective DNA. (Romans 5:15-19; Hebrews 10:14) This freedom or liberty is from sin’s condemnation and the fear of death. Paul writes about this emancipation in Christ: "[Jesus] might emancipate all the living enslaved to a fear of death." [Hebrews 2:15 NCMM] The disciple is released from a conscience under the burden of Adamic sin and the hopelessness of death.

This liberation or freedom is also from the Law of Moses. Paul writes that the "The Law [of Moses] is impotent because of the flesh’s weakness." [Or, KJV: for what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh; MON: for God has done what the Law could not do; NEB: what the law could never do, because our lower nature robbed it of all potency; WEY: thwarted as it was by human frailty.] Paul sums up the "problem" with the Law -- human sinfulness. The Law of Moses is right, just and good and fulfills the role God intended for it. [See Galatians 3:19 and Hebrews 7:18 and compare notes on Romans 3:20.]

Of course, it is clear, Paul is speaking to Hebrews according to the flesh who had formerly been under the Law of Moses. Now for their benefit, indeed for the benefit of all humanity, "the God Himself, by sending His son concerning sin – [that is, as "a sacrifice for sin (NEB)] – in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned fleshly sin." (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28) The New English Bible likely has the right idea. That is, "...sending His Son concerning a sin offering." (Isaiah 53:10-12; Philippians 2:5-7; Hebrews 2:14, 15; Hebrews 4:15.) When the Risen Lord ascends to heaven as the glorified Son of Man he is seen as "someone like a son of humankind" or a hominid. (Daniel 7:13 Latin Vulgate) Thus, our Lord "has signed the death-warrant of sin in our nature." [KNX]

Note the prophetic attitude of the Jews toward the Messiah at Isaiah 52:13-53:3:

"Behold, my Servant will behave with perceptiveness. He will be exalted on high and his elevation will be given the highest ranking. Just as multitudes have gazed on him in astonishment – for he was disfigured in appearance more than other humans, and also his royal appearance more than any among humankind – just so, he will also astonish multitudes of non-Jews. In his presence kings will stop speaking, for the reports they heard they will actually behold, and what they had never head about they will pay strict attention. Who has believed in what we reported? To whom has Yehowah’s arm been revealed? [Messiah] will sprouted like an offshoot before others, and just like a root in a desert. He did not have any royal presence, nor any pomp. When we [Jews] looked upon him, we saw nothing desirable in his appearance. He was spurned and shunned by humans. He was a person intended for pain and one who experienced illness. We hid our faces from him. He was scorned and we [Jews] did not consider him worthy." [NCMM]

In contrast to the legalistic Jews and their burden, the Christian Saints were "those not conducting ourselves in harmony with the flesh." That is, KJV: who walk not after the flesh; GDSP: we live not on the physical (plane); WEY: our lives are ruled not by our lower (natures). [Compare Colossians 3:2, 5-9; Galatians 5:19, 20.]

Rather, liberated Christian Saints conduct themselves "in harmony with the Spirit." That is they "walk after the Spirit" [KJV], or "live now in obedience to the Spirit" [TCN] The American Translation says: "we live ... on the spiritual plane." And the Weymouth Translation puts it: "our lives [are] ruled ... by our spiritual natures." It seems likely that this is God’s Pneuma [or, Spirit]. If we accept Paul’s parallel at 1 Corinthians 2:16 with Isaiah 40:13 then God’s Pneuma [or, Spirit] is His Mind. That is, the PNEUMA (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4151) of God is an invisible mental pressure that He exerts as a power manifest either in His Word (the conduit into the heart of the disciple), or, in a variety of pneumatic, spiritual manifestations. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Galatians 5:16, 18; see notes on Ro8:14) John 6:63 has the Nazarene teaching, "The teachings I have spoken to you are PNEUMA." [Compare this with Hebrews 4:12.]

THE FLESHLY

Paul contrasts the liberated Saint in Christ with that pseudo disciple "who are in harmony with the flesh [and who] are thinking about fleshly things." Other versions out this: KJV: they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; TCNT: earthly minded; GDSP: people are controlled by the physical think of what is physical; MON: give their attention to the things of the flesh; WEY: their thoughts are shaped by the lower nature. One way to determine this is the subjects that dominate a person’s conversation, or would reflect a Christian’s life-style. The Nazarene taught, "Those born of flesh are fleshly." (John 3:6; Galatians 5:19, 20)

Paul is clear on how to identify the fleshly-minded when he writes: "And so, brothers, I was unable to speak to you as [spiritual] persons, but rather as fleshly persons, as infants in Christ. I gave you only milk to drink and not solid food, because you were unable to accept up. Neither are you able even now. For you are still fleshly because jealousy and strife are in your midst. Are you not yet fleshly? Are you not walking as humans do?" [1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NCMM] The fleshly Christian who lives in harmony with the flesh would be characterized by spiritual immaturity, jealousy, and contentiousness. The danger of fleshly thinking, Paul writes, "means death." Or, as one version puts it: "to set the mind on the flesh brings death." [NOR] (Colossians 3:1-5)

Paul warns that "Fleshly thinking [means] enmity with The God." That is, "interests of the flesh are hostile to God." [MOF] (Isaiah 59:2 Colossians 1:21)) What one thinks about, or is minding, is usually revealed in speech and conduct. James 4:4 and 1 John 2:15-17 are like commentaries on Paul’s phrase: "Do you not realize the friends of the world means enmity with The God?Stop showing worldly concern for worldly things. Everyone who shows more concern for the world no longer has any love for the Father inside. That is because the entire world -- fleshly passions, greedy eyes, and that pretentious display that comes with possessions -- none of it has the Father as its source. The world with all of its greedy desires is passing away. However, the person who does the will of God will live forever in that future New Age." [NCMM] So Paul concludes that "those who are fleshly can never please God." Never can an "earthly minded" Christian please the Father who is so willing to pour His Spirit on the godly and spiritual. (1 Corinthians 3:3)

THE SPIRITUAL

On the other hand the true liberation from the burdens of the Law of Moses comes to "Those in harmony with the Spirit." Such are "people who are controlled by the spiritual" and so "think of what is spiritual." [GDS] That is, they "give attention to spiritual things." Again, the Nazarene taught, "Those born of the Spirit are spiritual." (John 3:6) As above, the "spiritual" may be identified by: a) the subjects that dominate language; and, b) those actions that dominate life-style. [Compare 1 Corinthians 2:15; Galatians 5:22, 23; Colossians 3:1-5; Philippians 4:8]

Spiritual or pneumatic [under the pressure of the Pneuma] thinking results not in a sense of condemnation but in "life and peace." [Or, KJV: to be spiritually minded is life and peace] The literal Greek is "minding of the pneuma." One sees the meaning in "minding the store" or "minding your own business." The Greek for "minding" is PHRONEMA (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #5427) and refers to that mental inclination or purpose of the mind. Spiritual mindedness, or, spirituality, produces life and tranquillity. [Compare Galatians 6:8; 1 Corinthians 2:12-15] Paul continues to examine the life resulting from the indwelling Spirit.

 

 

LIFE BY INDWELLING SPIRIT

ROMANS 8:9-11

Most people share a concern regarding any who might move into our home and live among us. The wrong person taking up residence in our home can make life miserable. On the other hand it is a real joy to have a guest who is both encouraging and upbuilding. Particularly is this so if this person actually helps with out daily problems in life. Such a guest in our home provides good direction and guidance. Paul now writes about such a new resident guest. It is God’s Spirit.

If the spirit of God dwells within then the Christian lives, not in harmony with the flesh, but with the spirit. The sinful body is deadened to sin if Christ resides within, leading to everlasting life because of His righteousness. If God’s spirit dwells within then this dying body will be changed into a truly living one just as Christ was raised up from the dead. Paul writes:

9 However, you are not in flesh but in Pneuma, if God’s Pneuma even resides within you; but, if anyone has not Christ’s pneuma this one is not His. 10 Indeed, if Christ is in you, [the] body is dead by means of sin, but Pneuma -- life by means of righteousness. 11 But, if the Pneuma of the One who raised up The Jesus from the Dead resides within all of you, the One who raised up Christ Jesus will also make your mortal bodies alive by His indwelling Pneuma in you. [NCMM]

Paul literally writes "you are not in flesh" and by this he means "you are not fleshly." Or, "You are not in harmony with the flesh." That is, "not controlled by the flesh." [BER] Paul uses the plural "you" referring primarily to the Roman Christians. Some, though professing discipleship, may yet be "fleshly." (1 Corinthians 3:3). Most of Paul’s readers were "in Spirit" or "spiritual." In contrast to the first phrase, likely, "but [you are] in harmony with the Spirit." That is: spiritually minded, not fleshly minded as discussed above. (Galatians 5:25)

This spiritual mindedness can only occur "if God’s Spirit resides within you." Other versions render this phrase: KJV: if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you; TCNT: since the Spirit of God lives within you; GDSP: has really taken possession of you; WMS: has His home within you. All of these attempt an interpretative paraphrase. It seems possible that Paul’s meaning is: "You (Romans) are spiritually-minded because God’s Spirit dwells within you (Romans)." Jesus may paraphrase this whole phrase when he rebukes Peter: "You are not minding the things of The God, but the things of humans." (Matthew 16:23 NCMM)

Any person who does not possess "Christ’s spirit" does not belong to him. This possibly means: "If any disciple does not have the mind of Christ such a person does not belong to him." The Greek PNEUMA may be used of mind, mental inclination or disposition. Christ is also the conduit or instrument of the dispensation of God’s holy Spirit. A true spiritual person is someone in whom Christ has taken up residence by the Spirit. Twice Paul has qualified the matter with "if." It seems likely that he means, "… if, indeed, Christ does dwell within ..." In both cases the meaning could also include Christ’s dwelling within the Romans as a corporate body. (1 Corinthians 3:16)

The fleshly body of the Christian "is dead because of sin." [KJV] James Moffatt paraphrase the meaning: "though the body is a dead thing owing to Adam’s sin." Despite this situation the indwelling Spirit provides "life by means of righteousness." A difficult sentence, but if read listening for Paul’s tone and pause, it becomes clear. Translators approach the verse phrase from different angles allowing for several views -- MON: your spirit is full of life because of righteousness; WMS: your spirits are now enjoying life because of right standing with God; NEB: yet the spirit is life itself because you have been justified. The meaning may be: "your body is dead because of sin while your pneuma [mind, inner being, mental inclination] is living because of righteousness." [Compare Galatians 2:20.]

Paul uses the analogy of this new life in Christ to God’s use of His Spirit to resurrect Christ. Paul has used PNEUMA in several forms or modes in these verses. PNEUMA may mean the mental pressure of God which is exerted as an invisible force to accomplish His will. God thinks and it is done. Twice Paul will repeat the powerful miracle of the resurrection of Christ. (Acts 2:24; 1 Corinthians 6:14) The result of this indwelling Spirit of God and Christ is explained by Paul.

The indwelling Spirit of God has "taken possession of you." [GDS] The disciple is possessed of divine thinking, spiritually minded because God’s thinking through Christ resides within. This also results in "the making of your mortal bodies alive." Rotherham renders this: "shall make alive even your death-doomed bodies." There are several views: a) a reference to the resurrection (Philippians 3:11, 21); and, b) a reference to the justified condition in which one formerly died in sin is now spiritually alive. (John 5:24; Ephesians 2:5; 1 John 3:14) Though some will se the resurrection of the human body here, others do not. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10) One thought would be: "by his indwelling Spirit in your lives" [MON] though the human body is dying due to sin, this dying body is energized and enlivened by godly thinking. The result is that this fleshly, dying, sinful body can still be used habitual good. Those who use such a body in a good way will be so rewarded in the parousia-judgment. [2 Corinthians 5:10]

 

 

GOD’S CHILDREN ARE LED BY SPIRIT

ROMANS 8:12-17

12 Truly, then, brothers, we are accountable not to fleshly living -- [that is] to live in harmony with flesh. 13 For, if you live in a fleshly manner you are destined to die. However, if you [live] a spiritual [life], and put the body to death, you will live. 14 For everyone led by God’s Pneuma are God’s sons. 15 Because, you did not receive a slave’s frame of mind causing more fear. Rather, you received an adoptive son’s frame of mind, in which we cry out, "Abba! The Father!" 16 The Pneuma [of God] itself provides testimonial evidence with our frame of mind that we are God’s children. 17 Therefore, if we are children [we are] also heirs. Indeed, God’s heirs, but [also] Christ’s joint-heirs. [That is] if, indeed, we suffer together so that we also will be glorified together.

 

No one likes to be misguided when asking for help or directions to a certain desired destination. It is a real joy to have a parent who has been a godly and correct guide throughout life. Such guidance protects from real dangers – fleshly dangers that may have life-long affects. Spiritual guidance, however, can only result in success at the end of life. Paul now raises the thrilling idea that our Heavenly Father, by means of His Son, and through the inner energy of the holy spirit, provides just such guidance.

THE FLESHLY LIFE

It likely confused some who were used to living a fleshly life under strict regulations in the Law of Moses. How could one live spiritually without 600 rules and commands? Paul writes that now that Christ has taken up residence within us we are not bound to a fleshly form of life. Or, as the New English Bible puts it: "we are not obliged to live on that level." Paul’s alludes back to his previous point regarding a new life, not a fleshly one, but a spiritual one. (Galatians 5:19) The disciple of the Nazarene ceases to live a life driven by the fleshly or physical. For "if you live in a fleshly manner you are destined to die." The Christian is not "under the control of the physical." [GDS] A life without God is driven by self -- fleshly in character -- and doomed. [See notes on Romans 1:32]

Rather than living a life driven by the flesh Paul urges to "put the body to death." Or, NEB: put to death all the base pursuits of the body; TCNT: put an end to the evil habits of the body. [Compare 1 Corinthians 9:27; Colossians 3:5; Galatians 5:24; 6:8.] Putting the body to death, or deadening the body, is a process of sanctification, "perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1, 2; 1 Thessalonians 4:3) Paul writes in a similar vein in Colossians 3:1-5, "If however you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, enthroned at God's right hand. Give your minds to the things that are above, not to the things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ appears -- He is our true Life -- then you also will appear with Him in glory." [Weymouth Translation] This requires living a true spiritual life.

 

THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

In contrast to the above fleshly life, Paul writes, "If you live a spiritual life you will live." This is a new life -- opposite of the former -- which is God-centered and Christ-minded. For as Paul writes, "All led by God’s Pneuma are God’s sons." Knox renders this: "those o follow the leading of God’s Spirit are all called God’s sons." Humanity is not by nature "children of God" for they have been born in sin inherited from their fleshly father, Adam. (See notes Romans 5:12-14.) Jesus did not teach the divine childhood of all humankind. [Compare notes on John 1:12, 13.] All persons led by the divine mental pressure of God are His children by virtue of a spiritual birth and regeneration. (See John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3, 4, 23; James 1:18; 1 John 5:1)

Upon their spiritual rebirth following their water baptism Paul writes: "You did not receive a slave’s frame of mind causing more fear." That is, fear caused by the Law of Moses. The Christian Saint is no longer a slave to such commandments. The Greek PNEUMA occurs several times in this context with different meanings: God’s power, a disposition, inclination, or frame of mind. (Galatians 4:24, 25; 5:1; Hebrews 2:15)

In contrast to that former sense of condemnation and slavery, Paul says the God-born disciple "received an adoptive son’s frame of mind." The "spirit" (PNEUMA) of a slave and a son are quite different: the slave living in fear, the son in hope of an inheritance by a father’s love. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:11, 12; 2 Timothy 1:7 where PNEUMA may be the mind or a mental disposition characterized by certain attributes. Humankind are not children of God by natural birth. Due to sin a person must be adopted to become a child of God. (Galatians 4:5; John 1:12, 13; Romans 8:23; Romans 9:4; Ephesians 1:5]

This new frame of mind or spirit can now "cry out, Abba! The Father!" [Or, MON: my Father, my Father.] ABBA is an Aramaic word meaning Papa. It is the endearing term first used of small children for father or grandfather. Jesus used the precious yet respectful term for God once. (Mark 14:36) Paul uses it in one other place. (Galatians 4:6) According to some it was a designation rarely used in Judaism (Isaiah 64:8) and never in Greek literature. In the Hebrew Bible God is never addressed as "Father" save in those Messianic contexts. (Psalm 89:26) In some cultures elderly persons are addressed respectively as Papa or Mama. Jews in Paul’s day did not address God as ABBA, and so he means the Christian Saint has entered a new and intimate relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus. How would the individual Christian know this new relationship exists?

 

A PERSONAL TESTIMONY

Paul answers this question with the words "The Spirit [of God] itself provides testimonial evidence with our frame of mind that we are God’s children." This well known phrase is also rendered: KJV: the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God; KNX: assures our spirit; PME: endorses our inward conviction; TAY: speaks to us deep in our hearts. God’s own mental thoughts exert pressure upon the mind and heart of the disciple as if providing testimony in a court of law, giving evidence of a genuine sonship with God. And since no one can read another’s mind, or spirit, this is a private testimony between God and the Saint. [Compare 1 Corinthians 2:10-12.] This is also called being "born again" or "spirit begotten." (John 3:3-8)

In the 1st Century many Christians received a gift of the Spirit as visible evidence of God’s adoption of them as His children. This continued until the Church reached maturity about the end of the 1st Century. [For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000© on 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.] This phrase regarding the Spirit’s witness is also used in Hebrews 10:15 where Paul quotes Jeremiah 31:31-33 regarding the New Covenant: "Additionally, the holy Spirit testifies to us, for later it has spoken to us [in Jeremiah 31:31 ‘This is the covenant that I will covenant toward them after those days’." [NCMM]

This may be compared to a slave who receives two letters: one from the slave-owner and one from his father. The heart and mind [the inner spirit] reacts in two different ways to both letters. There is a different disposition or attitude between the slave-master and the father and this is reflected in the reaction of the recipient of the letters. In a similar manner as the disciple of the Nazarene reads and meditates on his Sayings -- and the inspired letters of his own inspired disciples – God’s spirit inspires a sense of sonship or childhood. As a result a real and intimate relationship develops between the spiritual child and Father. This strengthens and grows throughout the Christian life as child and Father grow closer and closer to one another.

 

AN INHERITANCE FOR ADOPTED CHILDREN

Paul argues that "If we are children [we are] also heirs." The words inherit or heir(s) occurs dozens of times in the Christian Bible. Jesus uses the idea in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:5; 19:29; 21:38; 25:34; Mark 10:17) Paul uses it at Acts 20:32; 26:19; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 15:50; Galatians 3:18; 5:21; Ephesians 1:14, 18; 5:5; Colossians 1:12; 3:24; Hebrews 1:4, 14; 6:12; 9:15. Peter uses it at 1 Peter 1:4; 3:9; 5:3. And, John in Revelation 21:7. These Christian Saints are "God’s heirs" and as children they will receive the inheritance from their Father.

There are also joint-heirs with Christ Jesus. That is, they share the inheritance with Jesus. [Ephesians 3:6] Note the prophecy on inheritance at Psalm 2:8 and Daniel 7:27. World rule by the Church and Messiah is part and parcel of the inheritance. This inheritance however is conditioned.

Paul adds his "if" when he says that in order to gain the inheritance each Christian must be willing to "suffer together" with other members of the Church. The inheritance is condition upon this requirement. One version puts this, "share Christ’s sufferings." [TCN] This was the kernel of truth in the Nazarene’s teaching: "If anyone wishes to follow me they must disown ‘self’, heft a personal cross, and then keep following me constantly." [Matthew 16:24 NCMM] It is only then that "we will be glorified together." That is, receive the promised inheritance. (2 Timothy 2:11; Revelation 3:11) Will others besides the Saints experience ultimate freedom? Paul writes:

 

FREEDOM OF GOD’S CHILDREN

ROMANS 8:18-25

 

18 For, I consider that the sufferings of this current season are unworthy compared to that future glory to be revealed in us. 19 Because the eager anticipation of the [human] creation is eagerly anticipating the revealing of the sons of The God. 20 For, the [human] creation was subjected unto vanity, not willingly, but through the One who subjected, in hope 21 that also the [human] creation itself will be liberated from slavery to decay [in the grave] unto the glorious liberty of the children of The God. 22 For we realize that all the [human] creation groans together in painful moans until the present. 23 And not only that, but also we the firstfruits of the Pneuma, we also groan within ourselves, fervently anticipating an adoption as sons -- the release by ransom of our Body. 24 Because we were saved [in this] hope; but hope beheld is not hope. For who hopes for what one beholds? 25 But, if we behold not what we hope for we fervently anticipate it by endurance. [NCMM]

Anyone who has ever been in prison, or in some other manner been enslaved, knows the oppressiveness of a complete loss of freedom or liberty. All of us by instinctive nature long for personal liberation. We do not like to feel trapped or enslaved. Freedom need not mean absolute or unqualified self-determination, for we all indebted to our Maker who knows what is best for us. What, exactly, did our heavenly Father have in mind for His future children?

 

A REVELATION OF HEAVENLY SONS

Paul contrasts this present time period with its sufferings and that of future heavenly glory. The King James Version renders Paul’s words: "I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with" that wondrous inheritance in union with Christ. For a consideration of Paul’s own suffering read 1 Corinthians 4:11-13 and 2 Corinthians 11:21-29. Not all suffering is because of persecution. Suffering may include the sin and death at work in our bodies -- the sickness and decay. Suffering may be matters beyond our control -- wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilence. Suffering may be self-inflicted. (1 Timothy 6:10) Peter uses the word "suffering" more than any other writer, with sixteen uses of it in his two epistles.

These are nothing in contrast with "that future glory to be revealed in us." There is a future glory for all the Saints that will surely be revealed to all human creation. (2 Corinthians 4:17) No sufferings in this life can equal the glory of the Church. In making this contrast there is something of Psalm 90:10, 15, "The span of our lives is seventy years – eighty for those who are strong – but their whole extent is anxiety and trouble, they are over in a moment and we are done. … Let our joy be ass long as the time that you afflicted us, the years when we experienced disaster." [NJB]

All the human creation since Eden have longed for God’s solution to humanity’s seasons of suffering. Without knowing all the details men and women have longed for an earth living in peace and security. Paul phrases it this way: "The eager anticipation of the [human] creation is eagerly anticipating the revealing of the sons of The God." The Weymouth Translation words it this way, "all creation is yearning, longing to see the manifestation of" of the Saints in their inheritance. And another version paraphrases it: "The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own." [PME]

Paul has in the mind the human creation that began in Eden. It is unlikely that Paul means every human creature who has ever existed looks forward to the revealing of the sons of God. Surely, the Jews and other peoples anticipated the fulfillment of God’s purpose first revealed in Genesis 3:15. On the other hand, few peoples of all tribes and races, have not had some hope that the Creator’s people -- whoever they may be -- will one day come to light. By "sons of God" Paul means the Body of Christ, the Church, the Messianic Kingdom. (Daniel 7:27; Revelation 20:4, 6)

God’s judgment on our original parents, Adam and Eve, meant "creation was subjected unto vanity." Others render this word "vanity" as imperfection, or futility. [Compare Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 1:2-4.] Because of the rebellion of the prime parents in Eden their offspring were cursed by a defective DNA, causing them to become imperfect role models so that all human families became dysfunctional. (See notes on Romans 5:12.) God was "the One who subjected" the human creation because of disobedience. [Romans 5:14-17]

However, God did not leave humankind without hope. In a cryptic manner Genesis 315 foretold that "Creation itself will be liberated from slavery to decay." By "decay" Paul means corruption, or the shackles of mortality. [NEB] Psalm 49:7-11 describes this suffering life ending in decay: "But no one can ever redeem himself or pay his own ransom to God, the price for himself is too high; it can never be that he will live on for ever and avoid the sight of the abyss. For he will see the wise also die, no less than the fool and the brute, and leave their wealth behind for others." [NJB] [Compare Hebrews 2:14] Liberation from the decay and corruption of sin and death infers a restoration or resurrection from the grave. [Compare Psalm 16:10.]

 

THE FREEDOM OF HUMAN CHILDREN OF GOD

Paul now changes the use of his terms. He has up to this point spoken of the HUIOS, or "sons" of God. Now he mentions, "The glorious liberty of the children of The God.": It is possible that Paul is deliberate in not using HUIOS (sons) here, but TEKNON (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #5043), children. There appear to be two groups: a) the sons of God to be revealed to human creation; and, b) the human creation longing for such revelation who will also become "children." These two groups are seen in Daniel 7:12, 27 where the "saints of the Most High" [the Sons of God] exercise dominion over all peoples, tongues, tribes, nations, and kingdoms [the Children of God]. We hear in Paul’s words the restoration of Eden. [Compare Ephesians 1:9-11.]

Both the sons of God and all human creation "groans together in painful moans." The Philips Modern English Version renders this: "It is plain to anyone with eyes to see that at the present time all created life groans in a sort of universal travail." And even "we the firstfruits of the Spirit …groan among ourselves." The Prophets foretold an out-pouring of holy Spirit. The first of these were the Jews at Pentecost and some years later the non-Jews, beginning with the household of Cornelius. All these became the "firstfruits of the holy Spirit." [Compare Isaiah 32:15; 44:3; 61:1; Acts 2:17.] Despite the glorious hope of the future there is that groaning of the Church suffering in pain for the Day of the Lord. [Compare 2 Corinthians 5:2.]

The Saints "fervently anticipate an adoption as sons" while the human creation longs for that liberty or freedom to be enjoyed in Edenic paradise here on earth. While this hope is a given based on God’s original purpose for humanity [Genesis 1:28; Isaiah 45:18] the "sons of God" with the hope of an inheritance in Christ looked forward to a "release by ransom of our Body."

There are several views on this reading. Some, accepting the King James Version and others think it is the individual human bodies of the Saints that will be redeemed or ransomed. [KJV: the redemption of our body; TCNT: the redemption of our bodies; BER: bodily redemption.] However, the Greek SOMA (body) is singular with the article: "the redemption of the body of us." This may suggest Paul does not have in mind the individual bodies of each Christian but the entire deliverance of the whole Church.

Judging from what Paul writes elsewhere the human body of the Saint is dissolved in the decay of the grave. [2 Corinthians 5:1, 2] Upon their resurrection they receive a completely different body. [Philippians 3:21] Paul describes this spirit-body as heavenly, spiritual, immortal, incorruptible, without blood and flesh, and patterned after the image, not of Adam, but of the risen Christ. [For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on 1 Corinthians 15:20-54.]

Paul writes that those Christian Saints "were saved in this hope." In the Church there is only this "one hope." [Ephesians 4:4] To Paul there is a present saving state and also a future, ultimate salvation. [2 Timothy 4:8] Peter is of the same mind on this subject of future salvation. [1 Peter 1:3-5] Though the living Saint is in a saved condition, the dead Saint must await the Parousia and heavenly salvation. [1 Corinthians 15:22, 23; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17] Paul says that "hope behold is not hope" but rather the Saints "fervently anticipate such hope by endurance." However, if the Christian disciple cannot see this hope, or envision this hope, how can each one pray regarding it?

 

HOW THE SPIRIT HELPS THE SAINTS

ROMANS 8:26-30

 

Who is the Christian Saint – that is, a disciple of Jesus the Nazarene – that has not at times felt helpless? Who has not experienced some form of weakness? Particularly is this true when a godly person is at a loss about what and how to pray to God. There are times in life so confusing and desperate that the only One who can provide a measure of relief is God the Helper. But, exactly what should we pray for?

Having discussed the unseen thing hoped for, Paul addresses this weakness in prayers. It is not always possible to know what to pray for as the occasion arises. Paul explains how the "spirit" of the praying disciple is understood by God and so silent moans make their pleadings before Him. God’s works cooperate with these prayers on behalf of the Saints in harmony with His purpose. Paul explains this "cooperation" or synergy on God’s part in arranging for everything in advance. The sons of God have been pre-arranged to be patterned after their eldest brother, Jesus. Paul writes:

 

26 And likewise also the pneuma joins in with help for our weaknesses. Because what we should pray for as is necessary we do not know; but, the pneuma itself pleads our case in moans unspoken. 27 However, the One searching the hearts knows what the mind[ing] of the Pneuma is according to pleadings to God regarding the Saints. 28 But, we are aware that the synergy of The God is for the good of those loving The God, to those who have been invited according to His purpose. 29 Because whomever He foreknew He also marked out in advance that they be conformed to the image of His Son that he might be the Firstborn of many brothers. 30 Now whomever He marked out in advance He also invited. Those He invited these He also pronounced innocent; and those whom He pronounced innocent, these He also glorified. [NCMM]

Christians though having died to sin still have many weaknesses. Here the weakness is not a complete understanding of the "one hope." Thus, this weakness may lead to an inability to know what to pray for as needed. The problem is prayer. The problem is knowing what to always pray for. An example might be Paul’s own prayer regarding his "thorn in the flesh." (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) However, Paul writes that the "spirit joins in with help." Or, as the Phillips Modern English version has it: "helps us in our present limitations." This whole series present translation problems and there are various understandings. The Greek word SYN-ANTI-LAMBANETAI (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4878) is "together-opposite-take hold of," or, cooperates.

Paul assures that "the Spirit itself pleads our case in moans unspoken." Translations vary in their approach: KJV: the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; RHM: sighings unutterable; GDS: inexpressible yearnings; BER: sighs too deep for words. Paul has mentioned groans and moans above when he described the suffering pain during the present season. The Greek word for "pleads our case" is HYPENTYGKHANEI (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #5241), or, above-entreat, intercession.

The question is how does this PNEUMA do this. Some use this as proof of the Person of the Holy Ghost feeling the PNEUMA here is the holy spirit. The subject is prayer. Did the PNEUMA pressure, or inspire, the prayers of the first Christians? Compare language similar to that in these phrases here at 1 Corinthians 14:14, 15, "For if I pray in a tongue it is my PNEUMA praying but my mind is unfruitful. ... I will pray with the PNEUMA but I shall pray with [my] mind." It seems possible that the pneuma here (breath, wind) is that of the person praying under the pressure of God’s PNEUMA.

When the charismatic Christian was praying under the pressure of God’s PNEUMA, inspired as it were, Paul says, "the One searching the hearts knows what the mind[ing] of the PNEUMA is." Others render this: KJV: he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the spirit; CON: the desire of the spirit; RHM: preferred by the spirit; TCNT: what the spirit’s meaning is. God is the one who searches hearts. (Acts 1:24; Hebrews 4:12) The meaning may be: the One who reads hearts reads the mind of the one praying under inspiration. The phrasing is similar to 1 Corinthians 14:14, 15 where prayers as gifts of the spirit are the subject. These inspired prayers of the 1st Century Christians were part of the Spirit-Helper Jesus promised to send to his apostles "to guide them into all the truth." [John 16:13] In the Christian Bible we have several examples of such inspired prayers. [Ephesians 3:14-21]

The main focus and purpose of these inspired prayers were "according to pleadings to God regarding the Saints." The "pleadings" may be those of the petitioner "praying in spirit." (Compare notes on Ephesians 6:18 and Jude 20)

Paul expresses his confidence that what God does or wills He does so, not at cross purposes, but with a certain "synergy [Greek: SYNERGYEI] … for the good of those who love God." [Or, KJV: we know that all things work together for good to them that love God; MON: continually work together; PME: everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.] God has known exactly what He was going to do from the beginning. He had an "eternal purpose" in relation to not only Christ, but also to all the Saints as members of his Church.

Paul identifies such as "those who have been invited according to His purpose." [Or, KJV: to them who are the called according to his purpose.] Compare the "invitation" (same word for "called") at Matthew 22:1-14. All are invited, and God knew in advance what kind of persons these would be. He did not predestine the individuals, but the type of individual and their place in His "administration." [Ephesians 1:9, 10, 18] It is not enough to just be called or invited. One must also be "chosen and faithful." [See Revelation 17:14.]

Paul says God "foreknew" those that would compose the Church. The Greek for "foreknew" is PRO-EGNO (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4267), that is, before-know, prognosticate, prognosis. Otheres render this word: RHM: fore approved; GDS: marked out. Though some see the makings of predestination in this verse, others understand that God purposed a type or class to reign with Christ. There is a major difference between predestination and knowing something in advance. [On predestination see the publication Nazarene Principles.]

Paul explains exactly what God foreknew: "He also marked out in advance that they be conformed to the image of His Son." [Or, KNX: moulded into the image of his Son.] The question is what did God mark out in advance, or foreordain. The Greek is PRO-ORISE (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4309, or, before-horizon). It is conformity to a certain image that God has foreordained the Saints. Likely this means He predetermined two major things: a] The Saints would inherit the same kind of spirit life as the Son; and, b] they would live lives patterned after the role model left by the Son – a course of self-sacrifice in humble obedience.

This is made clear in Paul’s parallel phrase: "That he might be the Firstborn of many brothers." [Or, MON: the eldest of a great brotherhood.] Paul writes of the same thing in Hebrews 2:10, 11: "For it was fitting for [The God] -- for whom the Universe exists and from whom the Universe originates -- in bringing many sons unto glory, to perfect the Chief Leader of their salvation by means of sufferings. Because [Jesus] the One sanctifying, and those who are being sanctified, all originate from One [God]. So for this reason [Jesus] has no cause to be ashamed in calling [those sanctified] ‘brothers’." [NCMM] Christ and the Saints are "brothers" -- all sons of God.

God knew in Eden He would "mark out" first the Jews and that He would give them a seven year period of grace to accept the Messiah and the heavenly invitation. Paul writes: "Now whomever He marked out in advance He also invited." God had foreordained first the Jews and then the non-Jews to be invited. The Nazarene himself gave a parable illustrating this invitation. [Matthew 22:1-14] When the time came by means of His Son He invited the Jews between 29-33 AD to the celestial marriage. After seven years, beginning in 36 AD, God had foreknown He would invited non-Jews. Paul states this good news was prophesied in the case of Abraham. (Galatians 3:8)

Not only were these Jews and non-Jews invited, or called, they were also "pronounced innocent." Others render this phrase: KJV: whom he called them he also justified; RHM: declared righteous; WEY: acquitted; GDS: makes upright; WMS: brings into right standing. [See notes on Romans 5:18.] The calling or invitation comes first, then justification to righteousness. (1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:7)

Such invited and justified persons, whether Jew or non-Jew, can now be authorized as children of God. [John 1:12, 13; 3:3-5] This brings a certain glory or honor to them from God’s standpoint. Those invited and justified are now in a glorified state from the standpoint of God. [See 2 Corinthians 3:7, 18; 4:6.] In such an innocent and glorified standing who would dare to file some accusation against them? Paul writes:

 

 

WHO ACCUSES THE ELECT?

ROMANS 8:31-34

No one likes to be accused of anything. It even takes a very humble person who is even willing to listen to an accusation, and then, if true, to make a reasonable adjustment. But sometimes even the most godly of persons is still criticized by jealous enemies. They may be slandered and accused of vile practices they never did. Even if no human accuses a godly Christian with a good reputation, there is someone else – someone hiding in evil darkness – who daily files accusations as if in a court of law. The Devil. [Revelation 12:10]

Paul begins to summarize his arguments. He gives two reasons why none should accuse the Elect: God Himself was willing to sacrifice His own Son in behalf of the Church; and, Christ is the one who pleads the case of the chosen ones. Who, then, can possible make a judgment against the Saints? Paul uses Psalm 110:1 and Isaiah 53:12 as part of his argument.

31 What, then, will we say? If The God is for us who will be against us? 32 [The God], who did not spare His own Son but surrendered him in our behalf, how will He not also -- together with [His Son] -- charitably give us everything? 33 Who will make an accusation against God’s chosen ones? God is the One who pronounces innocent! 34 Who is the one judging against [them]? Christ Jesus -- the one who died -- rather, [the one] who was raised up from those dead -- who is at the right hand of The God [Psalm 110:1] -- who also pleads our case [Isaiah 53:12] in our behalf. [NCMM]

Not all agree with this innocence and glorification of these children of God. However Paul assures: "If The God is for us who will be against us." [Or, TCN: if God is on our side, who can there be against us.]God "did not spare His own Son but surrendered him in our behalf." The thought is overwhelming and beyond description! (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21) Each Saint rests safe in the Father’s bosom so that no harm may come to him or her. The Son shares in this charitable act of unmerited favor. (Philippians 2:5-7) The Messiah with his Saints will be "freely given everything." This is part of their inheritance. The New English Bible expresses it this way: "and with this gift how can He fail to lavish upon us all He has to give."

Paul asks some rhetorical questions to comfort all the Saints. First he asks, "Who will make an accusation against" the Saints? The Greek is ENG-KALESEI KATA Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1458 and #2596, or, in-call-against, as in bringing a charge against someone for a debt or something else. There is a strong echo here of Isaiah 50:8 in the LXX. Satan is one who accuses the Saints as he did Job. (Job 2:1-5; Revelation 12:10) Weak or wicked "brothers" make false accusations amounting to blasphemy. [See notes on 2 Peter 2:10.] Jewish and non-Jewish opponents also falsely accused the early disciples. (Romans 3:8; Colossians 1:22.)

It is a shame that even some Christians begin to slanderously accuse glorious members of the Church, particularly elders. Both Peter and Luke mention this: "These false teachers are arrogant and impudent, completely absorbed in themselves. They have no respect for godly authority. They speak abusively of these authorities while angels who stand before the Lord -- though much more superior in strength and power -- dare not utter any kind of abusive criticism." [2 Peter 2:10, 11 NCMM Paraphrase] And the disciple Jude writes: "Indeed also just so these fleshly fantasizers disrespect authority and reject those honored by their abusive talk." [Jude 8 NCMM]

After all these are "God’s chosen ones." The Greek is ECLECTON (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1588) and means elect or chosen. It is a designation used of Israel and the members of the Christian Church. In this choosing it is "God is the One who pronounces innocent." If the ‘Judge of All the Earth’ (Genesis 18:25) declares a person not guilty, or innocent from sin, who dare utter any kind of accusation against them? (Hebrews 10:17, 18) All in the Church do well to reflect on this matter in the context of gossip and slander.

Paul asks a second question, "Who is the one judging against [them]?" [Or, KJV: who is he that condemneth; CON: what judge can doom us.] The Greek is KATA-KRINON (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1458, or, down-judge.) According to the teachings of the Nazarene it is not a good idea to judge or condemn others of like faith. Jesus taught: "You, condemn not, that you are not condemned. For you will be judged with that judgment by which you are judging!" [Matthew 7:1, 2 NCMM] [Romans 14:10]

Not only does God "pronounce innocent" those Saints "patterned after the image of His Son" but Paul also says Jesus "’pleads our case’ [Isaiah 53:12] in our behalf." [Or, KJV: maketh intercession; NEB: pleads our cause.] There seems an allusion here to the Hebrew Text of Isaiah 53:12 which uses the word PAGA [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #6293, to make intercession]. [Compare notes on Hebrews 7:25 and 1 John 2:1.] The image of our Lord before the Throne arguing our case as a defense attorney is refreshing – even liberating! With such loving and powerful Persons fighting for our defense and liberty it is comforting that complete liberty is assured!

 

COMPLETE VICTORY

ROMANS 8:35-39

Considered by some as one of the most sublime portions of Holy Scripture, Paul bursts into a crescendo of praise for the love of God by means of Christ Jesus. He first lists seven possible obstacles to God’s love. Though treated as sheep for the slaughter by oppressive powers, Paul assures the Church that victory is already attained. Paul expresses his conviction regarding ten things that will never separate us from God’s love in Jesus. Paul writes:

 

35 Who will separate us from the loving concern of Christ? Oppression? Distress? Persecution? Food shortage? Lack of clothing? Danger? Execution? 36 Just as it has been written, "For Your sake we are being put to death all day long! We have been considered sheep for slaughter." [Psalm 44:22] 37 However, in all of these things we are victorious by means of the One showing loving concern for us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things future, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation will ever be able to separate us from God’s loving concern in Christ Jesus our Lord. [NCMM]

THINGS THAT COULD SEPARATE US FROM CHRIST’S LOVE

Paul demands, "Who will separate us from the loving concern of Christ?" [Compare the love of Christ for his Church in Ephesians 5:24-32.] Paul now joyously bursts into one of his famous lists in a series of questions.

All of these things which could possibly separate the disciple from Christ were foretold in the Bible. Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 and applies the principle to the Christian Church. The Saints are likened to sheep for slaughter even as was Jesus. (Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32)

VICTORY!

Paul is triumphant when he sings, "In all of these things we are completely victorious!" [Or, KJV: more than conquerors; WMS: keep on gloriously conquering; PME: an overwhelming victory.] [See notes on 1 John 4:4; 5:4; Revelation 3:21; 2 Corinthians 2:14] Paul’s list of those things that might separate a disciple from Christ’s love may be conquered by the very love of Christ. He only sees victory and liberation in the future of the Saints.

Paul expresses his conviction that nothing can separate the Saint from Christ. Paul lists exactly ten things that can never separate the Church from God’s love through Jesus Christ.

None of the above, according to Paul’s own conviction "will ever be able to separate us from God’s loving concern." The sum total of everything that is in the cosmic universe is unable to break God’s love for us. "In Christ Jesus our Lord" God’s love is never apart from His own Son for whom he first expressed His love and through whom He demonstrates His love to all.

==== END ====

 

 

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER

Godly Treatment of the Elderly

By Mark Heber Miller – California –

All of us – an estimated 20 billion human beings who have ever lived – came to life on earth by means of parents. With but few exceptions, these parents nurtured and cared for us for over a decade, and in the case of some two decades. They were older and our seniors and therefore we learned from them and drew from their experiences. None of these parents were perfect. We are not telling God anything He does not already know. In a general sense it can be stated according to divine principles that the entire human race is dysfunctional, not just a few isolated families. [Romans 5:12] Despite these acknowledge imperfections, how are the elderly – most of whom are parents – to be treated? What is God’s own view on this matter?

The question is asked because of observations made in some parts of the world. Though many cultures continue to respect, honor, and care for elderly parents, this is not the case every where. It has been observed and experienced that in parts of America there is little "natural affection" for the elderly. [2 Timothy 3:3] An interview with "senior citizens" in their 60s and 70s in an American retirement community revealed some sad facts. All interviewed seldom saw or heard from their children or grandchildren. In some cases these were gray-haired mothers in their 70s living in small trailers or mobile homes with none to care for them. Often they live on meager social security payments and must sometimes choose between food and medicines. One lady in her 80s was reduced to collecting cans for their five cent deposit to assist with her food.

What has happened to America and other places in the world that the elderly should not be treated in such a manner? Many complain that there is a general disease about in the Western World – a lack of character and responsibility. The horror of this is that most of the same persons claim to be Christians! What is the Biblical view how parents and the elderly should be treated? The Bible has much to say on the subject and in the process reveals how the Father of us all feels.

 

PARENTS AND THE ELDERLY AMONG THE HEBREWS

In the famous story of Joseph and his brothers, the account shows that this son was concerned about his father. Genesis 43:26-28 records this worry about an elderly father: "When Joseph went on into the house, then they brought the gift that was in their hand to him into the house, and prostrated themselves to him to the earth. After this he inquired whether they were getting along well and said: ‘Is your father, the aged man of whom you have spoken, getting along well? Is he still alive?’ To this they said: ‘Your servant our father is getting along well. He is still alive.’ Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves." [NWT]

In the Hebrew Bible often called the Old Testament much is said about the elderly and older parents. Wisdom is often associated with older persons. [Job 12:12; Isaiah 9:15] The treatment of elderly parents was so vital that God included it in the Ten Commandments: "Honor your father and your mother in order that your days may prove long upon the ground that Jehovah your God is giving you." [Exodus 20:12 NWT] This is repeated in the "second law": "Honor your father and your mother, just as Jehovah your God has commanded you; in order that your days may prove long and it may go well with you on the ground that Jehovah your God is giving you." [Deuteronomy 5:16 NWT] Centuries later Jesus the Nazarene was to quote these verses and explain what was meant by "honor."

Indeed, a son who abused his parents was stoned to death in the land of Israel. "In case a man happens to have a son who is stubborn and rebellious, he not listening to the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and they have corrected him but he will not listen to them, his father and his mother must also take hold of him and bring him out to the older men of his city and to the gate of his place, and they must say to the older men of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he is not listening to our voice, being a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his city must pelt him with stones, and he must die. So you must clear away what is bad from your midst, and all Israel will hear and indeed become afraid." [Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NWT]

 

Deep respect was to be show the elderly. Indeed, when "gray hair" approached the youth were to stand up out of respect. Leviticus 19:32 records the exhortation: "Before gray hair you should rise up, and you must show consideration for the person of an old man, and you must be in fear of your God. I am Jehovah." [NWT] In some cultures it used to be the custom to rise when an older person entered the room, and particularly a women. God through Moses states that "consideration" should be shown such persons. And Jehovah adds a warning: "You [more youthful persons] must be in fear of your God."

 

The Proverbs stress the dignity and respect due the righteous senior: "Gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness." [Proverbs 19:31] "The beauty of young men is their power, and the splendor of old men is their gray-headedness." [Proverbs 20:29 NWT]

How children were to treat older parents is indicated by Proverbs 23:22, "Listen to your father who caused your birth, and do not despise your mother just because she has grown old." [NWT]

The psalmist prayers that God would never desert him during his senior years: "And even until old age and gray-headedness, O God, do not leave me, until I may tell about your arm to the generation, to all those who are to come, about your mightiness." [Psalm 71:18 NWT]

What did Jesus teach regarding honoring elderly parents?

 

PARENTS AND THE ELDERLY AMONG CHRISTIANS

In the days of Jesus superficially religious men among the Jew hierarchy had devised a way around the Commandment to honor their parents. The Gospels all record this exchange when Jesus condemned these men who ignored their parents: "For Moses said: ‘Honor your father and mother.’ [Exodus 20:12] And, ‘Whoever speaks badly of father or mother, let them be put to death.’ [Exodus 21:17] But, all of you say, ‘If a person tells father or mother: "Whatever I possess which might benefit you is corban [that is, ‘a gift (dedicated to God)] – you [Jews] do nothing to help your father or mother! Thus, you invalidate the Word of the God because of your tradition handed down to you, as well as many other similar things." [Mark 7:10-13 NCMM]

It is clear here that the Nazarene defines what is involved in this "honor." First, honor for parents involves their financial care in their old age or need. Jesus calls this "honor" – "to help your father and mother." Honor is sometimes associated with material giving in the Bible. [Proverbs 3:9] Additionally, it would seem obvious that honor would include respectful speech. But these men called by Jesus "hypocrites" also evidently "spoke badly of father and mother." Under the Law of Moses, as Jesus quotes Exodus 21:17, such a son or daughter ought to be put to death. Such was the seriousness of the godly care of elderly parents.

The inspired emissary of the Risen Lord also quotes the Commandment regarding the care of parents: "You children, keep on being obedient to your parents in harmony with the Lord Jesus for this is the right and correct thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the very first commandment that contains a promise within it: ‘in order that your life will be well and you will continue living a long time on earth.’" [Ephesians 6:1-3 NCMM] So, the principle behind the Commandment of Moses was applied among the early Church. Did the first Christians have more to say on how to honor older persons and elderly parents?

Paul devotes a portion of his inspired epistle to Timothy on the subject of the proper care for the elderly.

1 Timothy 5:1, 2 counsels: "Do not rebuke an elderly man, rather entreat him as a father … [and] elderly women as mothers."

The early Christians were taught to treat their elders with respect, particularly when it came to their speech and treatment of such seniors. The Weymouth Translation renders this: "never a sharp reprimand." [BER: do not chide; NEB: never be harsh.] Given the Jewish background to the early Church where all had to rise when a person with gray hair entered the room, Paul makes sure the young minister remembers to be respectful to age. [Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 16:31; 20:29] Though some render this elder, possibly regarding the office, most observe the context and apply it to an elderly Christian. Old age began at 40, priests retired at 50, and the mighty lived to be 80 or more. This injunction from Paul is just plain good manners. Timothy was to be respectful to these elderly Christian ladies who would no doubt treated him as a son on occasion, regardless of his apostolic appointments.

 

Does Paul write anything about the material care of parents and grand parents. Indeed, he does: "Honor widows who are genuine widows. However, if any widow has children or grandchildren, let these [children] learn first to demonstrate godliness to their own household, and to repay their parents, for this is acceptable in the sight of The God." [1 Timothy 5:3, 4]

This seems to mean that before the church offers aid, an elderly mother’s own family ought to demonstrate their godliness by providing the proper care. This phrase "repay their parents" may also mean: requite, return remuneration, return the care, pay the debt they owe their parents, repay their obligation. Having raised their children from babies into their teens, the children owe a debt of 15 years or more to their parents. [Compare our Lord’s teaching at Matthew 15:4. When the commandments said, "honor your mother and father" it meant a material recompense. (Ephesians 6:2)] Paul says such godly treatment "is acceptable in the sight of God." God is aware of a son or daughter’s treatment of their parents. [Proverbs 23:22]

Just how serious was this according to Paul? These were not mere suggestions. These were commands from the apostle. He writes:

Command these [Christians] to be beyond reproach. But if any one -- especially household members -- does not provide for their own relatives, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." [1 Timothy 5:7, 8 NCMM] First Paul tells Timothy to "command" these Christians to be above reproach in this matter of caring for elderly parents. Then he plainly says that the person who refuses to do this is ‘worse than an infidel or unbeliever and has denied the faith.’ Such, ‘failing to provide’ have ‘repudiated the faith.’ [WMS, MOF] Paul echoes Isaiah 58:7, "You should not hide yourself from your own flesh." [NWT]

What does it mean to become "worse than an unbeliever"? Judging from James 1:27 any worship rendered by such a person is worthless. They have behaved as those Christian goats destined for everlasting extinction in Jesus’ parable. [Matthew 25:31-46] Such persons will rise in the parousia-judgment upon the return of the Lord and become struck with shame and embarrassment for their failure to honor their elderly parents. [1 John 2:28] This reproach and shame will last forever. [Daniel 12:2]

Such godly counsel from the Bible itself out to move each one of us to examine our thinking toward the elderly. Can you begin today to improve your treatment of those who have walked life’s path ahead of us? Is their a widowed neighbor without family you can assist and show kindness? When you are in the market and see a small elderly lady looking high on the shelves, can you offer to reach something for her? If you know someone who lacks sufficient food, can you quietly leave them a bag of groceries on their doorstep? Can you children find one elderly person each day to assist in some expression of Christian love? Can those with material surplus financially aid those rare Christian parents rejected by their own children? Begin this day to seek and create opportunities to make the elderly feel needed and cared for.

 

So then, as we have opportunity, let us labour for the good of all, and especially of those who belong to the household of the faith. [Galatians 6:10 Weymouth Translation]

==== END ====


FUTURE BIBLE RESEARCH TOOL

By Timo Koorns tra - Beligum

The details about the 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures [NCMM] & footnotes for "Online Bible"

Let me first explain what the application called "The WORD" from Online Bible (OLB) is all about.

It is a desktop application with a Windows interface. It is also available for the Mac and will be made available for Unix platforms.

This tool allows you to look up verses by reference The version used depends on which Bible versions you install. There are currently about 13 English translations available for free. Copyrighted versions like NIV you have to pay for. Besides those there are versions available in some 20 other languages. Even the Hebrew, Greek (Westcott & Hort or Scrivener’s TR) and Latin texts (Jerome’s Vulgate) can be consulted in the same way.

Some versions, like the KJV and the Westcott & Hort Greek version are keyed with the Strong’s numbers which are hidden by default but can be made visible with a single click. If a Greek/Hebrew Lexicon is installed such as Strong’s, a click on a Strong’s number will open a window with the explanation given by that Lexicon for that particular word. Strong’s numbers in Lexicon entries are also clickable, so one can follow through to find a root word. Online Bible has extended the Strong’s numbering system with extra numbers that indicate the tense used for a certain verb. For example: 5656 = Indicative Aorist Active.

Many commentaries can be added to OLB. When looking at a verse one can immediately see what different commentators have written on that verse. Commentaries can themselves contain references to scriptures, Strong’s numbers and links to other comments. There are some 20 official commentaries available and at least 15 user made commentaries.

OLB also supports books, which can contain all types of references. The number of books available increases every month or so (I estimate there are at least 100 of them available, many user-made).

All these modules can be searched with logical operators (i.e. and, or, not) and wildcards (e.g. "open*" will locate occurrences of "open", "opened", "openeneth", etc). Search results appear in a separate window, and each item can be opened in a separate window as well. It is possible to search for text in other languages (e.g. Hebrew, Greek, and Latin) and to combine words with Strong’s numbers in searches.

This is what I have done so far to make the NCMM and footnotes available in OLB:

Since I use OLB daily, I soon saw the value of having the NCMM and footnotes available in the OLB. I knew it was possible to create new commentaries in OLB, so that is what I did. At first copied I text from the Nazarene Commentary 2000© Word documents into this new empty OLB module, but soon I realized that was going to take eternity. What’s more, I would have to redo all of that when new (corrected) versions of Nazarene Commentary 2000© would be published. So I decided to take a different approach. I learned that OLB has an upload facility to import text files into OLB. These text files have to conform to a certain format, let’s call it OLB format. So I have now created an MS-Word macro which will go through a Nazarene Commentary 2000© document and reformat it to this OLB format. After the macro has done its work, the result is a text file, which can be uploaded into OLB. The advantage of having such a macro, is that the work required to produce a new OLB version when a new Nazarene Commentary 2000© is published, will be minimal.

Getting this macro to do the reformatting has been a major task. In order to make the verse references and Strong’s numbers clickable in OLB, they must be formatted in a distinct way. For instance, clickable verse references in OLB must be preceded by a hash ("#"). So I had to find algorithms to locate such references in the Nazarene Commentary 2000© documents. Although the formatting of the Nazarene Commentary 2000© is not the same for each Bible book (different fonts) with a lot of text that did not really belong in the OLB version (e.g. Greek interlinear as in Romans), I didn’t want to write a separate macro for each document. And this seems to be successful: one macro can now convert each Nazarene Commentary 2000© document to OLB format. Of course, during the conversion I came across typos in the Nazarene Commentary 2000© that prevented the macro from running properly (e.g. errors in the verse markers).

But today I can say to goal of this exercise is getting closer: I have a draft version of the NCMM & footnotes in OLB format. I am now correcting the errors the OLB program lists when I let OLB check the module for bad references. All these errors are passed to MM so that the original documents match the OLB version.

For those who are familiar with OLB, I should note that the NCMM will not be a true "bible version" module, since it is not yet possible for users to create such modules. Instead the SR text will appear together with the attached footnotes in a "notes" module. Also, besides black, OLB only supports one other text color, which by default is green. This means that the color scheme used in the Nazarene Commentary 2000© cannot be maintained in the OLB version.

Here is a screenshot of what the NCMM and its footnotes will look like in OLB:

 

In this screenshot three windows are open. At the top-right is a passage window, where two Bible versions are displayed in parallel (KJV & Westcott Hort). You can use the scrollbar to scroll back or forward through the Bible. The option to display Strong’s numbers is on. The definition of each of these numbers is only a click away.

The bottom window contains the material converted from the NCMM & Nazarene Commentary 2000© verse-by-verse commentary. It displays the NCMM rendering for the verse selected in the passage window and – separated by a line – the footnotes for this verse.

I have just clicked on the verse reference at the end of the first footnote, and the results are shown in the top-left window. The context in which these verses appear is only a keystroke away.

[Editor’s Note: For assistance in downloading the OLB with Nazarene Commentary 2000© contact either Timo Koorns tra in Belgium [], or James McCarthy Sr. in the USA [].

==== END ====


Nazarene Saints Publishing © 

Write us at:

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

 

Back to the Main Magazine Page

Copyright © 2000 Nazarene Saints Publishing  
All Rights Reserved
Reproductions may be made
as free gifts to friends and relatives.