Volume 3 – JANUARY 2001 (50 pages)
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Nazarene Saints Publishing© is a Bible research group for a better Scriptural understanding. We are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid Friends of the Nazarene© to “follow the Lamb no matter where he goes.” (John 15:14; 3 John 14; Revelation 14:4) The Friends of the Nazarene© are a spiritual community of Messianic Christians. We are apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that “God is One” and not three. The Bible is our creed. We view this “God-breathed” Book as inspired alone, while the thoughts of men about it are not. We wish to show respect for our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15)
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
q FAITH PERSPECTIVES
q “HOW WILL GOD JUDGE THE WORLD?” [Mark Miller – USA]
q IS THERE ‘ANYTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN’? [Ralph Slaney – Spain]
q THE FIFTH SEAL: THE CRY OF THE MARTYRS [Mark Miller – USA]
q GIVE THANKSGIVING TO GOD [Mark Miller – USA]
q COMMENTARY ON EPHESIANS CHAPTER THREE [Mark Miller]
q COMMENTARY ON EPHESIANS CHAPTER FOUR [Mark Miller]
q 2001!!! Who would have guessed we would reach this monumental date? Some reminded of the book turned into the movie 2001 – A Space Odyssey will hear a Straus waltz. It seems evident that humankind has not quite made the progress in science that the book/film anticipated. There is no hotel/space-station. There is no permanent residence on the moon. There is no manned space-ship approaching Jupiter. Many see this New Year of 2001 as the real beginning of the 21st Century and the Third Millennium since the birth of Christ.
q NAZARENE COMMENTARY 2000: Our brothers Timo in Belgium and JimmyMac in Maine, USA have combined a marvelous Bible study and research tool. They have merged the Online Bible with Nazarene Commentary 2000© [Matthew to Revelation] Those who have begun to use it are thrilled with the results. If you wish to add this feature to your computer get in touch with these brothers. Their email addresses are above. It is hoped that this feature will soon be added to the Friends of the Nazarene web site for easy download. We also anticipate that the following will be added to the Friends web page.
q COMMENTARY ON ROMANS: The new Commentary On Romans was finished last month and is available by email attachment. In time it will be downloadable from the FON web site. One article in this issue is based on Romans chapter two form this material.
q COMMENTARY ON EPHESIANS: The work on Commentary On Ephesians moves along with chapters 1-4 completed. Two articles in this issue are based on this material.
q 21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE CHRISTIAN SCRiPTURES: We are pleased to announce that the entire New Testament, or Christian Bible, in the complete 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures will be made available in the future. It is a version of Matthew to Revelation in a two-column page without footnote commentaries. It is hoped it will provide easy reading as well as easier Copy and Paste purposes. To date Galatians to 2 Thessalonians has been completed.
q A REFRESHER: Just to make sure all are aware of some forms of FON spiritual fellowship: On the Nazarene-Friends eGroup talk list there is a Daily Bible Verse commentary handled by various brothers, a Daily Inspirational Thought as contributed by different brothers and sisters. Each week on Sunday the weekly Bible reading is announced along with an attachment of that chapter from Nazarene Commentary 2000©. We are discovering that some churches and individuals are following this same weekly program. There is a special mailing list for this and if you wish to be added contact Mark Miller.
==== END ANNOUNCEMENTS ====
"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 –
Really enjoyed the five part series on Where are the Dead? Don’t know if I agree with it, but I really got some food for thought out of it. I have been tormenting myself lately on where the "soul" of a relative is. Now, I believe I know where it is. Thanks to you. I really appreciated the work that went into that subject and time spent. Thank you.
But thank God they finally put a link to
what I believe is the best anti-trinity site on the net. God bless you, Mark.
Your site on the net is like none other that I have seen. It is so full of spiritual information. Also so full of God’s love and Spirit. I do feel Jehovah through His Son Christ Jesus is calling and His servants will hear his voice as it says.
I have been greatly encouraged by the
things I have been reading at the
"Friends Of The Nazarene" site. Also enjoying the posts to my e-mail
box. [JM - Oregon]
I'd be happy to receive the December
magazine if you would please. … May Jehovah continue to use you as an
instrument of his word and a blessing -
thanks again for all your hard work and that of the other brothers and sisters
It's a pleasure working with you in this
Bible-educational and fellowship activity.
God is quite evidently blessing you. [JN – California]
Since finding (being directed to?) the Nazarene web site I have been more content than I have in many years. [RN]
Your web site is wonderful. [RW]
I just spoke of you in conversation today with my cousin, as one who has endured the difficulties of being a solider of the cross to the extent of loss of family and friends. But through all the difficult experiences you are being transformed into the image of Christ. Praise God. … I spoke of other Christians we met during these last few years that are wonderful examples of men being led by GOD, and that is when your name came up. … I read the November [Friends of the Nazarene magazine] wonderful. We especially enjoyed the penned autobiography. [Gene and Mary – California]
I do want to commend you on what a fine internet site you & others with you have developed, it is a great study & fellowship aid. … Please keep up the good work. I hope to see you at one of the future conventions. I'll definitely keep you in my prayers as well as the rest of the brethren & please keep me in yours. In our FATHER & HIS Son. [JS]
Our heavenly Father had recorded the
teachings of Jesus that He wanted us to know. Things that He felt it necessary
for us to know at this time. If it's not in the New Testament than I am to
assume we are not to have knowledge of it at this time. There is a time and
place for everything. Jesus only taught what he heard from the Father. There is
NOTHING NEW...... NO NEW REVELATIONS. We need to read, meditate and pray on the
scriptures we have. Pray to God for understanding and not lean on our own. I
believe as that to study means MORE THAN MERELY READING. WE MUST CONSIDER
CONTEXT, TO WHOM Jesus is speaking and other things. [GB – California]
==== END “FAITH PERSPECTIVES” ====
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Someone, who shall remain nameless (but whose initials are Mark Miller---oups!), sort of asked me to write a short biography about myself, or to give a testimonial. As many of you know me from the eGroup and how I can ramble, I suddenly find myself for lack of words. Ok...so there's a first time for everything.
Maybe I should give a little biographical background and work outwards from there. First of all, many of you know me as "jimmymac". My name is really "James Edgar McCarthy, Sr." But I've been going by "jimmymac" before the song came out. So to hear someone call me by my birth name...it just doesn't feel right. I'm 42 (I think?), have been married to my wonderful wife, Becky, for the past 21 years, and we have 3 children. Our son, James, is 21; our eldest daughter, Liz, is soon to be 20, and our youngest daughter, Gail, will be 17 soon. I am Irish, French, Native American; my wife is Arab, English, and Afro-American---which makes our children their own United Nations. I speak French and English, my wife English and Arabic, and our kids speak Confusion. And there's my family.
I was raised a Catholic, but it was really a thin veneer of Catholicism over Native American pagan beliefs. My first contact with Protestantism came from a Pentecostal movement that swept through our town. While I loved the worship there was always that feeling of "something's missing here." It was then where I came in contact with the Maronite Catholic Church (a Rite of the Roman Church) and Greek Orthodoxy. I think the mysticism of it all attracted me. I settled in becoming a Maronite and decided to enter the priesthood. This is when I met my wife. Well, we think of "Catholic" and we think immediately of "celibate". So I told the Maronite priest that I'd have to pass up going to the seminary. His reply was, "Oh---you can still be a Maronite priest---just not in America." So once again that feeling that "something's not quite right here." My wife and I became basically "nothing."
It was about this time that we moved to Portland, Maine. There was a knock on the door one day (and many of you know where this is leading to) and it was a "friend" from work. I immediately invited him into our home only to find that he was there to invite me to a Bible study. I accepted the books and went the whole Nine Yards in investigating this religion, the Jehovah's Witnesses. Of course, this wasn't my first contact with them as I'd had a friend in school who was one. But this was my first real serious examination of them. So I read the books, read the Bible, and still found that something wasn't quite right. I'd had friends and family who were Seventh-Day Adventists, and to make a long story short, I ended up becoming one mainly because of the Sabbath issue. This lasted for perhaps 4 years. But there still was something that wasn't quite "right." So I left and we moved back to our first city of residence, Waterville, Maine.
I worked in a radio station and I used to produce a show for a local talent and one day after her show we got to talking. We held many of the same ideals, Brotherhood of Mankind, world peace, etc. Come to find out this lady was a Baha'i. Now this is an Eastern religious movement who recognise a certain Baha'u'llah as Jesus returned in the flesh in 1844 or thereabouts. Sounded good and I bought the entire thing and felt comfortable in my new beliefs.
So on I lived as a happy Baha'i. We were encouraged to not only read the Baha'i Holy Writings, but the writings of all major religions. So I've read the Koran, the Upanishads (I think that's how it's spelt), the Tao, Buddhist writings, etc. Then one day I decided to pick up the Bible. I discovered several verses in there that didn't quite jive with my religious beliefs. One was John 14:6 where Jesus says he's the ONLY way to heaven. Another was Acts 4:12 where we're told that there is NO other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved. I had a dilemma! How could Baha'u'llah be my saviour if Jesus is said to be the ONLY way? And then here we had in the first chapter of Acts the angels saying that this SAME Jesus would be coming back to us. But this Baha'u'llah was born of a woman and a father with nothing supernatural about his birth, unlike Jesus's conception. Plus the Master's coming seemed to be with great power so that we'd ALL know it was Him, unlike Baha'u'llah's quiet arrival.
So I had a lot of problems. Would I reject Jesus, the ONLY means of salvation and continue along with Baha'u'llah, or would I accept the Hope of the Whole World? The choice was actually easy---I chose Jesus! And when I did there was a certain "realization" that came over me that I'd never experienced before. I wasn't accepting the creeds of some man, I wasn't following someone else's interpretation of Him, but I was following Him alone. This realization was akin to a "rebirth", for lack of a better way to describe it. I have an experience with the Master, I have a life with the Master, a life that goes beyond all words. For once it feels "right". :o)
Now I'm basically home-bound due to an illness called systemic lupus. Being homebound and there being no like-minded believers in my city I was looking over the web one day when I happened upon the Friends of the Nazarene web site. I sat there for what seemed like hours, reading, downloading, reading more...and I was so excited because here were like-minded believers!
So I have more than any person could ever ask for, who could ever dream of having: I have you Brothers and Sisters, I have the computer so I can communicate with all of you, and most importantly of all---I have Jesus, and knowing Him has revealed what Jehovah is truly like---a God of supreme compassion and unlimited love for His children. To God be all the Glory! [JimmyMac – Maine, USA]
==== END ====
By Mark Heber Miller – California
Paul can hear the objections from the pseudo Jews, or former Jews who had become Christians. There is no basis for their sense of superiority resulting in their judgmental attitude. Paul now launches into a condemnation of the judgmental who hypocritically criticize others while doing the very things they condemn. They, like all the rest of humanity, will be exposed to God’s judgment in His Day of Wrath. In the process he deals with one of the Bible’s major themes: “How Will God Judge the World?” [Romans 3:6 KJV]
Romans 2:1, 2 -- The Judgmental Defenseless
1 Therefore, O [Jew], you are without a defense! For you judge yourself when you are judging everyone else as guilty if you habitually practice the same things you are judging. 2 Because we know that God’s judgment -- upon those who habitually practice such things -- is in harmony with truth. [NCMM]
The Greek is literally, “O, man (or, human),” but it is clear Paul addresses his Jewish protagonist. The singular “you” follows, indicating Paul is not criticizing all Jews but an individual type. The context makes it clear his audience is Jewish at this point. He tells his “Jew” that he is “without a defense.” The Greek word for “defense” is APOLOGIA (from which the English apology or apologetics comes). Paul says this Jew has “nothing to say in your own defense.” [TCN] Why?
Because “you, [the Jew], judge yourself when you are judging everyone [else].” The Jews were notorious for their judgmental attitude of all the non-Jews. This thought echoes the Nazarene when he teaches, “For you will be judged with that ‘judgment’ by which you are judging!” [Matthew 7:2 NCMM] [Compare notes on Romans 2:9, 9:20, and 14:10.] The word judgment is a major theme dominating the epistle to the Romans. It is the self-righteous, religious hypocrite who “habitually practices the same thing being condemned.” The very word “hypocrisy” comes from two words: under + judge. [See notes on Romans 2:21.]
Paul means by “such things” those he has already listed above in Romans 1:18-32]. These vices or sins have degrees of gravity, ranging from God-hater and murderer to whisperer. Some sins are grave when done only once while others become increasingly more serious the more habitual they become. So that given time the habitual whisperer has done as much damage as the murderer. Virtually everyone is guilty of at least one on this Pauline list, and some continue to fail in a number of them. On the practice of sin see notes on 1 John 3:4, 9.
When God makes a judgment – whether of a Jew or non-Jew – it is always “in harmony with truth.” There is a factual reason or governing principle behind all of God’s judgments or judicial decisions. The sinner may not understand why a sin is so grave, but a study of each one makes it clear there is a universal principle behind it. Isaiah 11:3 speaks of Judge Messiah, “(The Messiah) will not judge on just what the eyes see; nor will he rebuke just because of rumors.” In time God’s judgments will be revealed to every human being who ever existed.
Romans 2:3-11 -- God’s Judgment Revealed
Paul begins to introduce one of his major themes -- God’s judgment -- and he will go on to use several words related to judgment. Here he has taken on an unknown Jew who we can presume is a hypocritical, self-righteous critic of others while doing the very things he condemns. Nothing in Paul’s language would not apply to a Christian. Paul divides the worshippers of The God (ho theos) into two classes: those persisting in badness (which is generally that which harms others) and those enduring in goodness, that which seeks the highest good for others. The reward for both will be quite different and based on their conduct. Paul draws on Moses at Deuteronomy 10:17 is discussing God’s judgment:
3 But, is this your logic, O Jew: Do you think you can escape the judgment of The God while you continue to do the same things as those you judge who habitually practice such things? 4 Or, do you despise the rich kindness [of The God] -- His restraint and tolerance? Not realizing that the kindness of The God is [trying] to lead you to repentance? 5 However, in harmony with your hard and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in a day of wrath when the righteous judgment of The God is revealed. 6 [The God] ‘will reward each one in harmony with [their] works’ [Psalm 62:12]. 7 Indeed, to those who endure in good works -- glory, honor, and incorruption to those searching for ageless life. 8 But, to those who out of selfishness disobey the truth, obeying rather unrighteousness --- wrath, anger, 9 oppression and distress -- upon every human soul who persists in working harm to others -- first to the Jew, but also to the Greek. 10 But, glory, honor, and peace to everyone who continues to work at good --- to the Jew first, but also to the Greek. 11 ‘For there is no partiality or favoritism of persons with The God.’ [Deuteronomy 10:17]
Paul continues to talk to his individual Jewish protagonist. (Romans 2:17) Paul asks this Jew: “Do you think you can escape the judgment of The God?” The hypocrite is without logic in that he is critical of those who practice the vices listed above, and at the same time continues in these vices himself. He convinces himself that he will escape the judgment of God while these others will not. [Compare Matthew 23:33; 1 Timothy 5:24.] It is interesting that some modern Christians reason the same way: because they have been “saved” no matter what they do will condemn them, while all others stand condemned for these same actions.
In the process of this self-deceptive thinking – this deep religious rationalization – Paul asks his Jewish friend: “Do you despise the rich kindness [of The God] -- His restraint and tolerance?” Or, “Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God’s generosity and patient mercy.” [PME] [Read Psalm 86:5 and see notes on Ephesians 1:7.] By this hypocritical, self-righteous judgmental attitude, the self-appointed judge really shows scorn and disdain for the Judge Himself. While God is patiently restraining Himself this critic exercises no such mercy and compassion toward those he judges, mainly non-Jews.
This does not mean that this Jew is automatically lost even if he is “not realizing that the kindness of The God is [trying] to lead you to repentance.” [2 Peter 3:9] But, despite God’s patient kindness this Jew remains “hard and unrepentant” in his heart. He is has a deep obstinacy and stubbornness when it comes to feeling regret for his own sins. As a result of this deeply ingrained attitude this Jew is “storing up wrath for [himself] in a day of wrath.” By the expression “day of wrath” Paul means that future judgment of God. [Compare James 5:5.] Each new criticism and self-righteous opinion goes on the record to be accounted for in that Day.
The Nazarene taught the same: “Out of the good person’s heart comes a treasure of goodness; and expelled out of the wicked person’s wicked treasure comes wickedness. But I tell you that every fruitless word human’s speak will be held to account on Judgment Day. For by your words you will be declared ‘Not Guilty,’ and by your words you will be accursed.” [Matthew 12:35-37 NCMM] Paul agrees with his Lord that this would be “when the righteous judgment of The God is revealed.” Or, “when God will reveal to the sight of men the righteousness of His judgment.” [CON] It will be then that every Jew and non-Jew will find that “God will reward each one in harmony with [their] works.” This is a strong allusion to Psalm 62:12, “O Yehowah, mercy and kindness are yours, for You will reward every person in harmony with each one’s work.” [NCMM] The judgment of God is based on conduct in this life.
This same verse in the Psalm 62:12 is alluded to three times in the Bible’s final mention of God’s judgment: “Then I saw the Dead, the great and the small, standing in sight of the (white) Throne [of Messia]. Little ‘books were opened’ [Daniel 7:10] and another Little Book was opened, the ‘Book of Life’. [Psalm 69:28] The Dead were judged out of the things written in the Little Books, ‘according to their works’. [Psalm 28:4] The Sea gave up its dead and The Death and the Hades gave up their dead. They were all ‘judged according to their works’. [Psalm 62:12] … Look! I am arriving suddenly. ‘My reward is with me to give back to each one according to his works’.” [Isaiah 50:10; Psalm 62:12] [Revelation 20:12, 13; 22:12 NCMM] Compare also Job 34:11, Ezekiel 18:30, and notes on Proverbs 24:12. [For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000© on the subject “God and Judgment”.] No where does Paul teach about some probationary period of judgment for humanity.
Paul now compares those who do good works and those who disobey the truth out of selfishness. Nothing in Paul suggests “works” are of no value in God’s judgment. Obviously, “good works” include the opposites of those vices listed above in Romans 1:18-32 . (1 Timothy 2:10) These “good” persons will attain to “glory, honor, and incorruption.” The Greek for “incorruption” is APHTHARSIAN, literally non-decayable, or non-rotting. It is contrasted with “immortality” in 1 Corinthians 15:50-53. This means an ageless or everlasting life to those searching for such. It seems apparent that immortality and endless life is not a natural attribute of the human soul but must be search for if it is to be realized. (Ezekiel 18:20; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10)
On the other hand “those who out of selfishness disobey the truth and instead obey unrighteousness” will experience “wrath, anger, tribulation and distress.” When Paul mentions “unrighteousness” he has in mind that list of his in Romans 1:21-32 above. Note, the unrighteous and disobedient are not described as being punished by hell-fire torment. Paul never uses the word “hell” in his epistles. Many of these apostate Jews would live to experience the holocaust of the Roman war between 66-73 CE. However, at the very latest this would befall them during God’s Day of Judgment for all humanity.
None who “persists in working harm to others” will escape God’s condemnation. This would include the Jew first, but also the Greek. [Note the phrase elsewhere. (Romans 1:16; 2:9, 10) The word “Greek” is a surrogate for “non-Jew” (Gentile).] Paul repeats his phrase when he mentions again “everyone who continues to work at good.” Jesus had taught the same when he said both the good and vile would be resurrected with two different outcomes: “Do not wonder about this, because the hour is coming in which all ‘those in the memorial tombs’ [Isaiah 26:19 LXX] will hear [the Son’s] voice and those having done good things will come out unto ‘a resurrection of Life’. [Daniel 12:2 LXX] ‘Those who have habitually done corrupt things unto a resurrection of condemnation’. [Daniel 12:2]” [John 5:28, 29 NCMM]
Thus Paul emphasizes the need to lead a good life in order to attain a righteous judgment from God. For “there is no partiality” with God. This is a strong allusion to Deuteronomy 10:17. (2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts 10:34) “For God pays no attention to this world’s distinctions.” [WEY] Both Jew and non-Jew will face God’s judgment. But how will this occur?
Romans 2:12-16 -- Doers of Law Pronounced Innocent
All humankind will be judged by God on judgment day. The two groups of humankind will be judged in two different ways: Jews will be judged by the Law of Moses, while the non-Jews will be judged by their implanted conscience. The function of the conscience and logical thought is something of a demonstration of how God places his laws within the hearts of the Saints in New Israel according to the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-35. The subject of judgment is a major part of Paul’s Gospel as he now explains:
12 For all those who sinned without the Law will also be destroyed without the Law; and, all those who sinned under the Law will be judged by that Law. 13 Because, the innocent before The God are not those who just hear the Law. Rather it is those who keep the Law who will be pronounced innocent. 14 For when non-Jews, though not having the Law, naturally keep the Law, they are a law unto themselves. 15 They demonstrate the Law’s work ‘written within their hearts’ [Jeremiah 31:33] -- the combined testimony working between their conscience and their logical thoughts either prosecuting or defending them. 16 According to my good news through Christ Jesus [this is how] it will be in the day The God judges the secret things of all humankind.
Paul says that those non-Jews “who sinned without the Law” will not be judged according to Jewish Law and so if they be sinners “will be destroyed without the Law [of Moses].” Paul introduces his next major theme -- law. Since he later says ‘that without law there is no sin’ it seems he must mean here The Law of Moses. Paul will use the word “law” in half a dozen different ways in the epistle to the Romans. It is not always easy to determine which “law” he has in mind. Here he means the non-Jews who were not under the Law Covenant given through Moses. Many translations will capitalize Law to indicate that law given to Israel as Yehowah’s chosen people. [See the notes on Ephesians 2:12.] Likely Paul may mean that in the judgment these non-Jews will be judged without the Law of Moses. He goes on to explain the manner by which they will be judged though not having the Law of Moses.
On the other hand all those Hebrews and Jews will be “those who sinned under the Law [of Moses] will be judged by that Law.” That is, the Jews themselves under their Mosaic Law will be judged before God on Judgment Day. [See the notes on Romans 3:19.] As Paul goes on to explain, in the coming day of judgment all the Jews raised on that Day will be judged by their own Law. [See notes on Romans 7:9.]
For it is not enough to “just hear the Law [of Moses].” That is those Jews who heard Moses read every Sabbath in the synagogue. (Acts 15:21; 2 Corinthians 3:15) Only those who “keep the Law [of Moses] will be pronounced innocent before The God.” The Greek here for “innocent” is DICAIOTHESONTAI [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1344] and is traditionally rendered justified or declared righteous. It is a legal word from the court-room which infers “not guilty.” This word will become one of Paul’s favorites and will occur many times in the epistle to the Romans. [Compare Acts 13:39; Galatians 3:11.] However, for two thousand years there has been much confusion over the delicate nuances of his meaning. It is doubtful Paul means in an absolute sense as he later argues that none can be declared innocent by keeping the Law. He seems to mean in a general since it is the law-abiding person is found “not-guilty” before the law, whether Jewish or non-Jew.
What about the non-Jews? Those who were not exposed to the law of Moses as God’s chosen people. Paul says these non-Jews did not have such a Law. [Compare notes on Ephesians 2:12; Psalm 147:20.] These multitude of international nations, peoples, tribes, tongues of non-Jewish peoples have, unknown to themselves ‘naturally kept a form the Law [of Moses] because they are a law unto themselves’. The non-Jewish nations, including tribes and all peoples, have had their laws, including taboos, whether oral tradition or written, which contain the essential principles of the moral Law of Moses -- theft, murder, adultery, false witness. No peoples have been purely anarchistic without some law to govern themselves. But, Paul has also another law or principle in mind – the conscience.
These non-Jewish peoples throughout the millennia have “demonstrated the Law at work as ‘written within their hearts’” or conscience. In their primitive way the non-Jews are a demonstration of what the prophet Jeremiah meant when he foretold a new covenant with Israel and a law written on hearts. (Jeremiah 31:33) Paul explains this mechanism as “the combined testimony working between their conscience and their logical thoughts.” Paul echoes the mechanism fore-viewed in Jeremiah 31:33: the conscience and the thought process combine to make inner judgments of the heart. The Greek word for “conscience” is SYNEIDESEOS, or literally “with + idea (or, knowledge)”. The English “conscience” also means “with + knowledge”. “Conscience” is a word Paul uses most often in 1 Corinthians chapters 8 and 10.
Thus, this was what the Nuremberg judges called “the universal human conscience.” This conscience “either prosecutes or defends them.” Like prosecuting and defending attorneys, the conscience and the logical process makes its judgments. Thus, no non-Jew can beg that he was “under orders” or that “everyone was doing it” when, in fact, their own conscience condemned wrong actions and thoughts.
The subject of salvation is not the only theme included in Paul’s gospel. Judgment and punishment are also part of his good news. We have been introduced to certain key words associated with his Gospel: judgment, law, punishment. These will all come to a conclusion “in the day The God judges the secret things of all humankind.”
We may infer from the above that in the judgment (Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:12-14) the non-Jews will be judged according to their implanted conscience and the Jews by their own Law. (Luke 8:17; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Peter 4:5) All humankind will rise in the judgment to receive their payment for what they have done in their lives. (See notes on Matthew 12:36, 37; Hebrews 9:27) This becomes a major theme in Paul’s Gospel and is discussed in further chapters. Judgment Day is among the Bible’s prime subjects. Paul lists judgment among the elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ at Hebrews 6:2. Though some would place salvation as the theme of the Bible, judgment must come first before salvation can occur.
Given the above, what will be the outcome for a judgmental Jew?
Romans 2:17-24 -- Judgmental Jews Guilty
Again Paul challenges his “Jew” with a series of questions, no doubt with a degree of sarcasm. Hypocrisy is the charge. Paul knows from his own experience that the self-righteous legalists were often the most guilty in their secret transgressions of the Law. Often the most critical are the biggest hypocrites. Paul quotes Isaiah 52:5 to show how all of this brings dishonor to God.
17 But, if you are a Jew in name and rely upon the Law, boasting in God, 18 knowing His will, approving of excellence, educated in the Law, 19 convinced you are ‘a guide to those blind’ [Isaiah 42:7], ‘a light to those in darkness’ [Isaiah 49:6], 20 an educator of the foolish, a teacher of babes, possessing the framework of ‘The Knowledge’ and ‘The Truth’ within the Law -- 21 hence the [Jew] teaching others, do you not teach yourself? The [Jew] preaching, “Do not steal,” [Exodus 20:15] do you steal? 22 The [Jew] saying, “Do not commit adultery,” [Deuteronomy 5:18] do you commit adultery? The [Jew] abhorring idols, do you rob temples? [Jeremiah 7:11] 23 You [Jew], are you boasting about the Law but by transgressing the Law are you dishonoring The God? 24 Just as it has been written, “For the Name of The God is being blasphemed among the non-Jews because of you [Israelites].” [Isaiah 52:5]
Paul becomes sarcastic, or righteously indignant, with that “Jew in name” who relies on the Law of Moses and continues to make his boast in God from this standpoint. Paul launches into one of his lists, possibly with a degree of bitterness in his voice.
This Jew had his own self-righteous judgments in “approving what is excellent.” Or, “a sense of what is vital in religion.” [MOF] Here self-righteousness flourishes as it does among other religions that pride themselves in their unique opinions. He also thinks himself “a guide to those blind.” This is a possible allusion to Isaiah 42:7. He also claims to be “a light to those in darkness.” A possible allusion to Isaiah 49:6.
This “Jew in name” preaches according to the Ten Commandments, “Do not steal,” and yet does steal. From the Ten Commandments at Exodus 20:15 indicating Paul’s use of the word “law” here includes these commandments and not just the ceremonial law. [Compare also notes on Romans 7:1.] This “Jew in name” preaches, “Do not commit adultery,” but violates this law also.
As much as the Jew wishes to adhere to the Law of Moses “by transgressing the Law are you dishonoring The God.” Any transgression of the Law dishonors God. And Paul confirms this by quoting from Isaiah 52:5. Paul here quotes the Jewish Greek Septuagint at Isaiah 52:5. The differences between the Greek and Hebrew Texts is an interesting study. One of the ways in which God’s Name is defamed is by transgression of Law. [Compare also Ezekiel 36:23 in the Hebrew Text.]
By this course of action “the Name of God is blasphemed” by the non-Jews. Isaiah 52:4 shows that this “name” is YEHOWAH [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #3068]. Compare also Exodus 6:4 and Psalm 83:18. A study on the word “name” will show much more is involved than just the actual name of God. Clearly, to be honest and fair, there are two kinds of Jews. And, one kind has resulted in blaspheming of God throughout the generations, just as so-called “Christians” have done throughout the past two millennia.
Romans 2:25-29 -- The Inner Jew
Finally, Paul deals with circumcision and that feeling of superiority of being a unique and chosen people related to the Hebrew Abraham. Merely belonging to a “chosen (covenant) people” is not enough. What is important is obeying the Law. What appears to be a Jew on the outside may not be one at all. The real Jew is the spiritual one who has undergone circumcision of the heart. The praise of God ought to concern us, not human praise.
25 For, indeed, the Law benefits only if you observe it. However, if you are a transgressor of the Law your “circumcision” has become “uncircumcision.” 26 Therefore, if the uncircumcised observe the judicial decrees of the Law his “uncircumcision” will not be reckoned; for his uncircumcision will be accounted in the log as circumcision. 27 And so those who are physically uncircumcised but are fulfilling the Law will judge you as a transgressor who are circumcised and have the Writings. 28 For the true Jew is not manifest in the fleshly circumcision; 29 but, in the secret Jew (with a) spiritual “circumcision” of the heart and not in writing. His praise is not from humans but from The God.
If a Jew, observant of the Law of Moses, is actually hypocritical then his “circumcision” has become “uncircumcision.” [Compare Acts 7:51.] On the other hand, if a non-Jew – not bound to the Law of Moses – does by nature the things of the Law, such a person is truly circumcised. Paul undermines the pride of the Jew and the circumcision that separated them from the non-Jews in general. True circumcision is only of value if one observes the Law. If a Jew is a habitual transgressor of the Law then his circumcision is really useless. There is an important lesson here for Christians who may be in a sect or organization and so feel that this is enough. They feel they could transgress and still remain in favor with God. This example of the Jews shows this cannot be the case and such are misguided.
In contrast, the ‘uncircumcised [non-Jewish] observe the judicial decrees will judge [the Jew who have the Writings] as a transgressor [of the Law of Moses].’ Paul is shocking the Jew by stating that a non-Jew who is uncircumcised but keeps the Law by a natural course -- see Romans 2:15, 16 -- will be reckoned or judged as if circumcised. Paul argues that the non-Jew who naturally keeps such laws against theft, adultery or idolatry will judge the Jew who is the transgressor of the revealed Law of Moses. This echoes something of the Nazarene who teaches the non-Jews will be raised in the judgment and condemn a generation of Jews. (See notes on Matthew 12:41, 42.)
The “true Jew” -- that is, “the secret Jew” -- is the one who has experienced a spiritual circumcision of the heart without any written code. The Greek is literally “manifest Jew.” [Or, KJV: outwardly; RHM: in appearance.] Compare the notes on Romans 9:6. (Galatians 3:29; 6:16) “The secret Jew” is taken from the Greek CRYPTO [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #2927]. [Or, IB: private Jew; TCN: real Jew; PME: true Jew.] Note a similar use of CRYPTOS regarding the godly woman at 1 Peter 3:4.
There is a “spiritual circumcision of the heart” that does not rely on some written code with hundreds of commandments. It is a “true circumcision achieved in the heart.” [KNX] Such a circumcision involves a faith operating out love. [Galatians 5:6] It is the result of a “new creation.” [Philippians 3:3] It involves the very thing Jesus taught – worshipping god in spirit and truth. [John 4:22-24; Colossians 2:11] [Compare Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 10:16.]
We rejoice in learning “how God will judge the world”! Are we not glad we have come to understand His mercy, justice, and wisdom?
REVIEW QUESTIONS ON CHAPTER TWO
1. Define “hypocrisy.”
2. God’s judgments are always in harmony with what?
3. What questions does Paul ask this unknown Jew?
4. How is God’s judgment described?
5. What two groups are highlighted?
6. What is the hope of those who endure in goodness?
7. Regarding law and judgment what two groups does Paul define?
8. How are Jews and non-Jew to be judged?
9. How do the non-Jews demonstrate a principle regarding Jeremiah 31:33?
10. 4.What does Paul include in his Gospel?
11. How did the Jews view themselves?
12. How was their hypocrisy revealed?
13. What Scriptures does Paul quote or allude to?
14. How may one dishonor the Name of God?
15. How does Paul compare the circumcised transgressor with the uncircumcised law-keeper?
16. What is the real “circumcision”?
17. Whose praise should we really seek?
==== END ====
“Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5 Revised Standard Version)
(by Ralph Slaney – Almeria, Spain -- )
The Bible tells us that God made the Earth and the Heaven. It then says that God made all the things upon the surface of the ground, including Man. The account is rather general but in logical order and useful, as without it humanity would have no understanding of its own origin. The events are split into six ‘days’ with God resting on the seventh. The word ‘day’ is taken from the Hebrew word yohm which actually means a period of time. This becomes evident from the use of that same word in Genesis 2:4 where the whole period of creation is spoken of as occurring in a ‘day’ -- yohm . So it would seem that rather than considering each ‘creative day’ as a literal twenty-four hours, they can be seen as periods of time, not necessarily equal in length. A brief review is as follows:
Before the first day — Heaven and Earth created.
First day — Light appears on the watery surface.
Second day — A biosphere was formed between the watery surface and the watery sub-sphere somewhere within the atmosphere.
Third day — Land rises though the watery deep, upon which vegetation grows.
Fourth day — Sun, Moon and stars appear within the biosphere.
Fifth day — Sea creatures and birds emerge.
Sixth day — Land animals and reptiles are formed. Then Man is created.
As can be seen from this listing only the barest of facts are given. This has lent itself to lifetime studies by zoologists, biologists and entomologists etc. So much is this the case that the Scriptures declare, man will never find out all the works of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It takes little imagination to realize the complexity of just one field of science. For example, to become truly proficient one would in all probability need to take a university course, possibly studying for a degree. This could take several years, and then, to become a master another year or two. But that is for one subject alone, so how many subjects, should one be blessed with the time and resources, would it be possible to achieve in a lifetime? Yet even so Solomon the writer of Ecclesiastes made a most amazing statement, he said: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 King James Version)
Now, what about that allegation that ‘there is nothing new under the sun?’ It is possible in more recent years to point to the industrial revolution and a vast number of new inventions are often furnished as evidence of a new creation. Let us consider some of them: One of the most resourceful of inventions has to be the steam engine. There were many inventors starting as early as Giambattista della Porta (1538-1615) through Denis Papin (1647-1712) and onward to Thomas Savery (c1650-1715) who theorized on the workings of steam engines. But it was Thomas Savery who actually constructed a practical water pumping steam engine. From his workshop in London he built an engine using a spherical boiler heated by an underneath fire the steam from which was fed into a metal receiver it was then condensed and by pressure differential water could be drawn up. It was however, Thomas Newcome (1663-1729) using a totally different approach who was able to produce a machine, using reciprocating action and generating much power, that basically brought the steam engine into the field of commercial viability. Then persons like James Watt (1736-1819) developed and improved their designs to help the industrial revolution on at a fast pace. There followed the steam locomotive with all the benefits of movement. The invention of steam engines led to the mechanization of the textile industry, steam ships and all manner of agricultural equipment. The world had indeed seen a new invention.
During this period and onward other things were being discovered, or made, such as: electricity, radio, television, steel, plastics and, of course, the telephone to mention a few.
Also other sciences were discovering things. Take for example the domain of chemistry where new elements were coming to the fore. Up to the mid-nineteenth century only 63 of the 92 naturally occurring elements were known. Then more discoveries were made: Gallium 1875, Scandium 1879, Germanium 1886 etc. It was later though, that science went beyond discovery of existing natural elements to the creation of those beyond the heaviest, Uranium (atomic number 92). Using specialist scientific apparatus, including such things as particle accelerators, these ‘new’ elements being synthetically produced are within the actinide series (atomic numbers above 89 which are all radioactive).
When all is considered about the tremendous achievements of man with his inventions, discoveries and ‘creations’ it has to be said that they are all with the help of things already existing. So in that sense Solomon’s words still hold true “that there is nothing new.”
Notwithstanding all the foregoing, it was Jesus that first indicated there was to be a new creation. This hint is contained in his conversation, with a Jewish member of the Sanhedrin called Nicodemus, in these words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Naturally Nicodemus wished for an explanation of such an apparently strange statement. Just as surely as flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50), one that is not born both of water and of spirit will not enter the Heavenly Kingdom of God. As that is the ‘one hope’ of true Christians a different arrangement is a necessity. The Christian is a person who has come to know both God and Christ and wishes to have a fine and holy association with them. Despite a Christian’s heavenly hope he is not to be an angel or cherub or a seraph. And certainly will no longer be a creature of flesh and blood, although his taking this on may still be possible. He is then most assuredly, a new creation!
Why a new creation? Because he is to be with his Lord, the glorified Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I want those you have given me to be with me where I am.” (John17:24 New International Version) This is the reason he is called a Christian, a follower of Christ. Although living in this world the Christian is distinguished by the new personality that conforms to the Lord and becomes baptized into Jesus for new life (Romans 6:4, Ephesians 4:20-24) This awareness comes as God calls him into a new life. (See Romans chapter 8.) Of course, the full and glorious realization is not presently grasped while still in blood and flesh (if it were it would not be called a hope. Romans 8:24) Yet it is to come by means of a resurrection, as the apostle Paul says in his first letter, chapter fifteen, to the Corinthians. Should the Lord return first it will then be by rapture. (1 Thessalonians 4:17) So, yes, as 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, the Christian is a new creation.
With such an all encompassing expectation set before a consecrated disciple of Christ what possibly can be of more importance to the Christian than being part of his holy Church, reigning with him from his heavenly throne. Actually, nothing matters more than being a new creature of God’s making. (See Galatians 6:15.) Already in this life, he is given a superior heavenly position (by Christ’s substitution) as shown in the hallowed word of God. (See Ephesians 2:6.) All of this can only come about by the will of God. The Christian is a product, a creation, of God: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 King James Version)
[See the following notes on Ephesians 2:6 found in the Nazarene Commentary 2000©: “—He raised us up together: When Christ ascended he carried with him the value of his sacrificial blood which had the purchasing power to buy the Church and restore mankind to Eden. (Hebrews 9:11-14; 1 John 2:2) Additionally those willing to be baptized into his death are now raised in Christ to a new life. (Romans 6:3-5) —He seated us together: Or, WEY: enthroned us with Him in the heavenly realm; GDSP: made us sit down with him in heaven. Vicariously, the Church sits enthroned with Christ in heaven where their thrones and crowns wait in reservation. —The heavenlies: The “uranic” or “celestialum.” Or, WEY: heavenly realms; NWT: heavenly places.]”
The Christian is already a new creation due to his God-given elevated position, and upon his resurrection he will be given a place in Heaven along side his master Christ. He will not be an angel or a seraph or a cherub or even a human, but a new creation, something that did not previously exist. So while Solomon in all his kingly glory could say in his day there was nothing new, since the time of Jesus things have changed. And the message of Christ is still being proclaimed. The offer is still being advanced. All those who wish to grasp hold of the hope will become one of Jesus’ disciples with the hope of being a new creation. This will mean reigning with Christ in his Heavenly Kingdom where the Saints will rule over and judge the people of the Earth in righteousness.
==== END ====
THE FIFTH SEAL:
THE CRY OF THE CHRISTIAN MARTYRS
RV 6:9 And when the Lamb opened the Fifth Seal I saw underneath the Altar souls slaughtered because of the Word of The God and their testimony. RV 6:10 They cried out with a great voice, saying: “Holy and True Master, until when are you not judging
and not avenging our blood upon those inhabiting the earth.” RV 6:11 And each one of them was given a white robe. They were told to rest for a little while until the completion
of their fellow slaves and brothers, those about to be killed just as they were. [NCMM]
Not only have the masses of mankind suffered – as the horsemen in the first four Seals predict -- but history bulges with the accounts of the untold numbers of Christian martyrs which exceed all those deaths in the Holocaust. These Christian martyrs, many of them Jewish, sealed their confessions of Christ with death by imprisonment, torture, or execution. Fox’s Book of Martyrs recounts many of these. This ongoing persecution of Nazarene Saints has continued unabated down to our own time. Even in these enlightened years just before the year 2,000, Christians are still martyred for their faith in one place after another around the globe. The greatest Christian Holocaust lies ahead in the future Great Oppression.
With this Fifth Seal the Lamb’s Small (Apocalyptic) Bible covers those many centuries since the enthronement of Christ down to our own day. From here on in the Small (Apocalyptic) Bible or the Apocalypse, the main subject under consideration in the various visions will be those Christians alive in those critical years before the Return of Christ. There is yet a Great Oppression which will be the single greatest example of a Christian Holocaust without parallel since the days of Nero!
The Fifth Seal (Revelation 6:9-11) has the blood of the martyrs crying out for vengeance much as Abel’s blood called out to God. Genesis 4:10 records this: “Listen! Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground.” [NWT] And Paul alludes to the same verse at Hebrews 12:24, “Jesus, to a mediator of a New Covenant – and to the blood of sprinkling which speaks in a better way than Abel.” [NCMM]
Some feel the martyrs are here resurrected to their place in heaven. However, the word “rest” generally means an unconscious sleep in death waiting the resurrection. (Daniel 12:13; John 11:11-14; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 20, 51) In Revelation 6:11 these martyrs are told to “rest” until the final tally of all others who would seal their faith with death, ‘Rest a little time until the number is fulfilled of your fellow slaves and brothers about to be killed as you.’ There is to be many more martyrs, and judging from Revelation 13:5-10 many of these Saints will perish in the Great Oppression. [From Nazarene Apocalypse 2000©]
It is clear that this cry of the Christian martyrs throughout the Gospel Age occurs before the Sixth Seal. The Sixth Seal includes the celestial darkness and the approach of the Day of Wrath of both Yehowah and the Lamb. What is to happen before this celestial phenomenon? The receiver of the Revelation, Jesus the Nazarene, is consistent with himself, for he taught that after the Great Oppression the Son of Man would Return visibly to gather all the Saints through the Church Age. Matthew 24:29-31 [and related verses] records the truth of Christ’s prediction:
Matthew 24:29 But immediately after the oppression of those days ‘there will be signs in sun and moon and stars: the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light and the stars will fall from the heaven and the heavenly dynamics will be shaken. Luke 21:25And upon the earth anguish of nations in perplexity (noise of an agitated sea) men fainting from fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth. Matthew 24:30 ‘And then there will appear in the sky the sign of the Son of Man. Then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and much glory.’ Luke 21:28 But as these things start to occur rise and look upward ‘because your deliverance is drawing near.’ Matthew 24:31 And the Son of Man will send off his angels ‘with a great trumpet and they will gather his Chosen Ones from the four winds Mark 13:27(from the extremity of earth to heaven’s extremity) from one extreme of the sky to another extreme.’ Mark 13:28 But learn from the fig tree, and all the trees, this parable: when the branch becomes tender and the tender leaves begin to sprout you know that summer is already near. Mark 13:29 So, also, when you see these things you will know that he is near at the doors. Luke 21:31Know the Kingdom of God is near!” [NCMM]
The 5th Seal describes the cry of the Christian martyrs throughout the Gospel Age. They scream for vengeance against those who persecuted them. This 5th Seal occurs before the 6th Seal. The 6th Seal will describe the final moments of the end-time as far as the Saints are concerned. The celestial phenomenon occurs as a “sign” that the King is about to return. The entire globe is aware and frightened of this approach of the Day of Wrath of God and the Lamb. However, what might break forth immediately is suspended for a moment when the four angels are constrained. There must be a period to “seal” the remnant of the twelve tribes of Israel – the 144,000. They are described as a Large Crowd of survivors of the Great Oppression and this is outlined in Revelation 6:12-7:17. Chapters 11-14:5 will go on to describe this worst holocaust of all time and the final triumph of the end-time Saints who experience these times of horror.
==== END ====
By Mark Heber Miller
Based on Nazarene Apocalypse 2000©
#352. Now, in chapter fourteen, a series of angels make their appearance, each with a different assignment. The first angel announces “the hour of judgment has come, so fear The God the Creator.” This injunction to fear God at this moment may indicate that there is opportunity to survive the coming Day of Wrath with all of its plagues.
RV14:6 And I saw another angel flying in the atmosphere having everlasting good news to declare as glad news to those sitting upon the earth and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people RV14:7 saying in a great voice: “Fear The God and give to Him glory because the hour of the judgment has arrived and so worship The One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and fountains of waters.” [NCMM]
#353. The second angel announces the collapse of Babylon the Great. This subject is greatly expanded in chapters 17 and 18 where the details are given.
RV14:8 And another angel, a second, followed, saying: “She fell, she fell, Babylon the Great! She made all nations to drink out of the angry wine of her fornication.” [NCMM]
#354. A third angel announces the outcome to those who would worship the wild Sea Beast and its Image, by accepting the engraving on their forehead or hand. These all suffer “torment” before the celestial angels and the Lamb. Those who receive this economic mark will end up in what is later called the Second Death. Would it be fair to give this warning, if, in fact, all had already done so? Does it seem fair to say that these announcements are made at the critical moment when mankind is about to be forced into this kind of worship. Here they are warned and given an opportunity to refuse and “fear God and give him glory.”
ANGEL 3 –
THOSE WHO WOULD BECOME BEAST WORSHIPPERS WARNED
RV14:9 And another angel, a third, followed the first two, saying in a great voice:
“If anyone worships the wild Sea Beast and its Image and accepts an engraving
upon his forehead or hand RV14:10 he also will drink out of the cup of the undiluted wine of God’s anger, the cup of His wrath. Such ones will be tormented in fire and sulfur in sight of holy angels and in sight of the Lamb. RV14:11 And the smoke of their torment is ascending into Age after Age. Those who worship the wild Sea Beast and its Image have no rest day and night, anyone who accepts the engraving of the Name of the wild Sea Beast. RV14:12 Here is the endurance of the Saints those who observe the commandments of The God and keep the Faith of Jesus. [NCMM]
#355. Verse 12 again cautions the 144,000-Saints regarding their endurance in observing God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus. This may be a parenthetical warning much like Revelation 16:15; or, the whole angelic warnings and announcements may be contemporary with that moment just before the Rapture. This is indicated by verse 13 which is still in the context of this third angel. Some of the Saints will be executed during the period of the Great Oppression (Revelation 6:11; 13:10) and here is assurance for those who endure (verse 12) to the death. (Revelation 2:10) They will rest in death until that moment of the resurrection foretold at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.
RV14:13 And I heard a voice out of the heaven, saying: “Write: Happy those who die in the Lord, those dying from right now. Yes, the (prophetic) spirit is saying that they will rest from their labors, for their works follow them.” [NCMM]
#356. The Nazarene draws on Daniel 12:1, 2 twice in his teachings about the resurrection. (John 5:28, 29; 11:25, 26) We may summarize the teachings of Jesus as: a) the resurrection is future during what he calls “the last day” (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; Daniel 12:13); b) there will be two groups: 1] dead believers who will rise; and, 2] living believers who will not die; 3) the dead will be judged upon their resurrection with two outcomes: a] everlasting life for the good; and, b] judgment and thus reproach to the vile. [John 5:29; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28]
#357. It is Paul who draws from these teachings at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and outlines the same scenario: a group of dead Saints who are raised at the Arrival of the Lord; and, a living group who are snatched from the earth in what can be called a Rapture. He makes it clear both of these, the resurrection and the Rapture, all occur “at the same time.” Writing some time after his epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul includes thoughts from a special revelation in a “mystery” in which he again discusses these two groups: the living Saints and the dead Saints. (1 Corinthians 15:23, 50-53) Here he describes a “change” and teaches “all will be changed . . . in an (atomic) moment, or blink of the eye.” [For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000© on 1 Corinthians 15.]
#358. So, as explained by Paul above, the Christian dead can hope to rise only when the Lord returns. “In his Presence,” Paul puts it, even as does John. (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 John 2:28) That is, “at his Arrival.” None of the Christian dead are raised, resurrected or wakened from their sleep before this Parousia, or the Second Coming. Verse 13 above is one of the Seven Apocalyptic Beatitudes which encourage the faithful Saints forward in their endurance as they face the Great Oppression. That this encouragement is given before Christ returns (verse 14) is shown in the context.
#359. Still part of the third angel’s announcements, there is a vision of Daniel 7:13 in reverse. That is, having once ascended to heaven in clouds in the year 33 AD, the Son of man now returns in that “same manner” as the Apostles had seen him vanish into heaven. (Acts 1:9-11) Consider:
RV14:14 And I saw and look! a white cloud and upon the cloud sat someone like a Son of Humankind having a golden crown upon his head and in his hand a sharp sickle. [NCMM]
#360. The first harvest is of the Christian “wheat” and the second the grape harvest thrown into the angry winepress of God Almighty. (Matthew 13:39; 24:31) The “firstfruits” of the harvest are the sealed and confirmed 144,000-Saints who come out of the Great Oppression having faithfully endured the program of the wild Sea Beast and Image worship. Before they are raptured, however, the Christian dead rise first, as Paul wrote. They then must undergo their judgment before the Judge, Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 25:31) After this the “righteous” inherit the Kingdom and stand ready to receive that special group called the “firstfruits,” the 144,000-Saints, as they rise in the Rapture to a general assembly with their celestial Lord, Jesus Christ the Nazarene. This “harvest” continues:
RV14:15 And another angel went forth out of the Divine Habitat crying out in a great voice to the One sitting upon the cloud: “Send your sickle and harvest for the hour to harvest has arrived for the harvest of the earth has dried up.” RV14:16 And the One sitting upon the cloud threw his sickle upon the earth and the earth was harvested. [NCMM]
#361. The final “harvest” is one unto death! It is likened to gathering grapes for the winepress, only this one is that of “the anger of the wrath of God Almighty.” Consider:
RV14:17 And another angel went forth out of the Divine Habitat this heavenly one also had a sharp sickle. [NCMM]
RV14:18 And another angel went forth out of the Altar (this one with authority over the fire) and he cried with a great voice to the One having the sharp sickle, saying: “Send your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the earth’s vine because the grapes are ripe. RV14:19 And the angel threw his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth and threw the vine into the Press of the Great Anger of The God. RV14:20 And the Winepress was trampled outside of the City and the blood came out of the Winepress up to the horses’ bridles for 1,600 stadia. [NCMM]
#362. This trampling of the winepress is described as “outside the (Holy) City” of New Jerusalem. This idea of “outside” the New Jerusalem also occurs at Revelation 22:15. When exactly this City descends to the earth will be discussed later, but it is possible that the City has already descended with its glorious inhabitants, including God Almighty, the Lamb, the holy angels, and the glorified Church. (Hebrews 12:23, 24) Let us propose that after the Saints have ascended to meet their Lord, and the marriage of the Lamb has occurred, with the Church safely inside the Holy City, the great Cubic City, glistening like gold, begins to return to the earth. Imagine this enormous “extra-terrestrial” cube approaching the earth, passing the moon and entering the atmosphere. When would earth’s nations with their defensive radar and satellite communications first pick up the blip of this approaching phenomenon? How will earth’s inhabitants react to this vision, this visit by true aliens?
#363. This winepress is the same as the unleashing of the “four winds” mentioned earlier. (Revelation 7:1-3) It will result in Armageddon (Revelation 16:14, 16) and the death of one-third of earth’s inhabitants. (Revelation 9:15, 16) Much of the images of this winepress are taken from the apocalyptic Book of Joel:
‘For the day of Jehovah is coming, for it is near! It is a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick gloom, like light of dawn spread out upon the mountains. ... Before it [the] land has become agitated, [the] heavens have rocked. Sun and moon themselves have become dark, and the very stars have withdrawn their brightness. And Jehovah himself will certainly give forth his voice before his military force, for his camp is very numerous. For he who is carrying out his word is mighty; for the day of Jehovah is great and very fear-inspiring, and who can hold up under it?" ... And rip apart your hearts, and not your garments; and come back to Jehovah your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and he will certainly feel regret on account of the calamity. Who is there knowing whether he will turn back and actually feel regret and let remain after it a blessing, a grain offering and a drink offering for Jehovah your God? ... "And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun itself will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah. And it must occur that everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will prove to be the escaped ones, just as Jehovah has said, and in among the survivors, whom Jehovah is calling." ... "Thrust in a sickle, for harvest has grown ripe. Come, descend, for [the] winepress has become full. The press vats actually overflow; for their badness has become abundant. Crowds, crowds are in the low plain of the decision, for the day of Jehovah is near in the low plain of the decision. Sun and moon themselves will certainly become dark, and the very stars will actually withdraw their brightness. And out of Zion Jehovah himself will roar, and out of Jerusalem he will give forth his voice. And heaven and earth certainly will rock; but Jehovah will be a refuge for his people, and a fortress for the sons of Israel. And you people will have to know that I am Jehovah your God, residing in Zion my holy mountain. And Jerusalem must become a holy place; and as regards strangers, they will no more pass through her.’ (Joel 2:2-3.17 NWT)
#364. What follows now in the Apocalypse are details of this winepress period with the pouring out of various plagues upon the earth. The time has come to “ruin those who ruined the earth.” (Revelation 11:18) This all occurs after the 144,000-Saints have been raptured off this earth to begin their around the clock service in the Celestial Temple before the Throne of God Almighty. (Revelation 7:15-17; 15:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)
#365. Chapters 15 through 19 recount the horrors of this period on earth absent of all true Christians. What is to happen?
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By Mark Heber Miller
The Bible is a Book of Thanksgiving. The word group “thank[s]” and “thanksgiving” occurs about 200 times throughout the Scriptures. The first occurrences are in the Law of Moses [Leviticus 7:12-15] and the final mention of thanksgiving occurs in the Bible’s last book. [Revelation 7:12] As we might expect the word “thanksgiving” occurs most often in the Psalms.
Giving thanks to God is urged upon His worshippers: “To cause thanksgiving to be heard aloud, And to declare all your wonderful works.” [Psalm 26:7 NWT] Also, such thanksgiving is associated with keeping vows made to God and to follow a “set way” in true worship. The Psalmist sings: “Offer thanksgiving as your sacrifice to God, And pay to the Most High your vows. … The one offering thanksgiving as his sacrifice is the one that glorifies me; And as for the one keeping a set way, I will cause him to see salvation by God." [Psalm 50:14, 23 NWT]
In the Christian Bible “thanksgiving” is also encouraged within the Nazarene community. Paul writes in Philippians 4:6, 7, “None of you be anxious over anything, but in everything let your petitions be made known to the God through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Then the peace of the God that ascends above all thought will safeguard all of your hearts and mental thinking incorporate in Christ Jesus.” [NCMM] We rejoice what Paul associates with such thanksgiving – a lack of anxiety and “the peace of the God.”
Paul writes that the sharing of food and drink on any occasion should be accompanied with thanksgiving: “God created these foods to be eaten with thankful hearts by his followers who know the truth. Everything God created is good. And if you give thanks, you may eat anything. What God has said and your prayer will make it fit to eat.” [Contemporary English Version (1995) -- American Bible Society]
In this regard, it is always good to remember our Lord’s own warning as the end-times approach: “Continue paying strict attention to yourselves lest your hearts become burdened in overeating and drunkenness and life’s anxieties, for that Day will arrive upon you suddenly like a trap. For that Day will come upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Continue to remain awake, supplicating in every season of time so that you might be strong enough to escape all these things destined to occur and [finally] to stand in the very presence of the Son of Humankind.” [Luke 21:34-36 NCMM]
Surely during all seasons of the year we are continually expressing thanksgiving for our Father’s “indescribable free gift” in the form of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ and in every prayer we thank Him for the forgiveness of our sins.
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“Mystery Revealed! Non-Jews to be Joint Heirs!”
[This article and the following one are based on material from Nazarene Commentary 2000©, Commentary on Ephesians by Mark Heber Miller (MM©) soon to be published on the Friends of the Nazarene web site.]
Since 1948 BC the Hebrews [later called the Israelites and then the Jews] thought only fleshly descendents of Abraham would share an inheritance with the future Messiah. This assumed exclusivity caused the first Christians, who were only Jews, to harbor certain feelings of superiority over those non-Jews [Gentiles] who later became Christians. Paul has already addressed this subject in chapter two of Ephesians. Consider, please, Paul’s inspired writing regarding a revealed spiritual mystery that also non-Jews would be joint heirs with the Christ.
Mystery Revealed -- non-Jews Joint Heirs [Ephesians 3:1-7]
Paul now brings the focus on his own part in the revealing of a divine mystery hidden from past generations of Jews. This mystery or sacred secret – a completely new revelation from the God – was that not just Jews would inherit the Messianic promises, but so also would the non-Jews.
1 Because of this I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you non-Jews 2 (if in fact you heard of the household management given me by the unmerited favor of The God for you) 3 to whom I wrote previously in a short letter about the mystery made known to me by a revelation, 4 by reading this you will understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was unknown in past generations of humankind as it has now been revealed by inspiration to his holy apostles and prophets, 6 that the non-Jews are to be joint heirs and a joint body and joint partakers of the promise in Jesus Christ through the good news, 7 of which I became a deacon according to the charitable free gift of The God given to me through His power working within. [NCMM Literal]
1-3 For these foregoing reasons I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles to whom I wrote previously in a brief letter about the sacred mystery revealed to me -- for surely you heard about the stewardship given me by the grace of God with you in mind. 4 When you read this letter you will realize my comprehension of the Christine mystery. 5 All past generations of humankind were ignorant of this sacred mystery as it has been revealed to the sanctified apostles and prophets by Pneuma. 6 The mystery is this: non-Jews are to be fellow heirs in a consolidated Body! Collective partakers of the promise incorporated in Jesus Christ according to the Gospel! 7 Of this Gospel I became a minister by an unmerited free gift of God, given to me by means of His inner dynamics. [NCMM Paraphrase]
This is a profound, complicated compound sentence running from verse 1 to verse 12. It is among the longest in the Christian Bible. See Ephesians 1:1. As a result there are various versions. Paul mentions his imprisonment again. See also Ephesians 4:1 and Ephesians 6:20. Either written in prison or someone imprisoned by Christ. He states that this stewardship of “household management” has been given him. He has in mind that “household” mentioned Ephesians 1:10 and Ephesians 2:19. [Or, KJV: dispensation; most use “stewardship.”] He mentions a previous letter about which we know nothing. [Or, CON: I have already shortly written to you; NEB: I have already written a brief account of this.]
This stewardship involve that “mystery made known to me by a revelation.” [Or, TCN: it was by direct revelation that the hidden purpose of God was made known to me; KNX: a revelation taught me the secret; PME: allowed me to understand his secret by giving me a direct revelation.] He hopes the Ephesians will realize his “insight into the mystery.” [Or, KJV: my knowledge in the mystery of Christ; TCN: how far I understand this hidden purpose; WEY: you can judge my insight into the truth; KNX: how well I have mastered this secret.] Some who do not understand Paul’s humility and self-sacrifice may read into these words a degree of arrogance. He admits to the Corinthians that he at times speaks in a certain unreasonableness or boastfulness not after the manner of Christ. This may what prompted verse 8.
This mystery was “unknown in past generations of humankind.” [Or, KJV: in other ages was not made known; TCN: former generations; WEY: earlier ages ... to mankind; PME: in former generations this was not disclosed to the human race.] Though the promise was mentioned to Abraham at Genesis 22:18 the meaning was not understood until the Pneuma revealed it to Paul. Compare Galatians 3:16. Thus former Jewish generations were not aware of how God’s promise to Abraham would work itself out.
This unknown mystery was that non-Jews would be included in the outworking of God’s eternal purpose. In this regard, Paul uses three expressions to describe these spiritual blessings upon the non-Jewish members of the Church of Christ. First, he says they are “joint heirs.” The Greek is syn-kleronoma (lot named together), Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4789 = one who obtains something assigned to himself with others, a joint participant. KLERO is the root of “clergy.” Compare Romans 8:17 and notes on Ephesians 1:11. Regarding “heirs” see Romans 4:4; 8:17; Galatians 3:29; Titus 3:7; Hebrews 6:17; James 2:5; 1 Peter 3:7. Or, KJV: fellow-heirs; CON: heirs of the same inheritance; GDS: fellow-heirs; MON: coheirs. Second, he calls them a “joint body.” The Greek is syn-soma, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 4954, belonging to the same body; (together + body). Or, KJV: of the same body; ASV: fellow-members of; WEY: they form one body with us. See notes on Ephesians 2:16. And, finally “joint partakers.” The Greek is syn-metokha. [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 4830, partaking together with one, a joint partaker] Or, ASV: fellow-partakers; WEY: same interest; PME: equal partners. Paul has joined something in threes which is a tool he uses.
Paul identifies himself as a minister or deacon of this mystery. The Greek is diakonos and usually rendered minister or servant. Paul is but a servant of this “charitable free gift.” [Or, KJV: the gift of the grace of God TCN: in virtue of the charge with which God entrusted me.] This was the result f “His power working within.” The Greek is energeian tes dynameos autou. [Or, KJV: the effectual working of his power; CON: full measure of His mighty working; MON: energy of his power; WMS: the exercise of his power; TCN: the exercise of his power.] Thus, all of this stewardship and the dispensation of God’s sacred revelation is not the result of one human like Paul, but by the inner-energy that flows from God.
1. From where does Paul write?
2. What may have the Ephesians heard of Paul?
3. What was revealed to Paul?
4. Did other generations understand this?
5. What is this mystery?
6. What did Paul become?
Eternal Purpose Known Through Church [Ephesians 3:8-13]
As if to make sure no one thinks he boasts in this revelation, Paul makes it clear he considers himself the least of all the Saints. Also, it is not he, but the Church itself who is the agency for dispensing God’s wisdom regarding the secret mystery of His eternal purpose.
8 … to me! -- one who is the lesser of the least of all the Saints -- was given undeserved charity to declare the good news to the non-Jews, the untraceable riches of Christ, 9 and to enlighten everyone regarding the household dispensations of the mystery hidden in The God throughout the Aeons -- the One who created everything, 10 so that it might now be made known through the Ecclesia to the arch-rulers and authorities in the heavenlies the immensely diversified wisdom of The God, 11 according to the purpose of the Aeons which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we are free to speak with a confident approach by our faith in him. 13 Because of this I request you not to despair over my oppressions for you, which is glory for you. [NCMM Literal]
8 This grace was shown me! One who is the absolute least of all the Saints. The privilege of proclaiming the Gospel to the non-Jews, the unsearchable wealth of the Christ. 9 Also, to illuminate everybody regarding the administration of the household sacred mysteries concealed within The God -- The One who created everything -- during the past periods of time. 10 So that now at the present time there might be revealed to the heavenly governments and authorities -- by means of the Church the innumerable aspects and many-sided wisdom of The God. 11 And this in complete harmony with the ageless purpose which He formed incorporate in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 It is because of Christ we are completely free to express ourselves without embarrassment as we approach God completely confident because of our faith in Jesus. 13 For this reason I beg you not to be depressed because of my persecutions in your behalf, because it will bring glory to you. [NCMM Paraphrase]
Paul is not bragging about his privileges and blessings for he considers himself “the lesser of the least of all” the Christians. [Or, GDS: the very least of all his people.] Compare this humble attitude at 1 Corinthians 15:9 and 1 Timothy 1:15, 16. Despite Paul’s transcendent expressions of God’s use of him, he remains a humble missionary whose lifestyle and manner provide a role model for modern evangelists. Paul is but a deacon of “the untraceable riches” of God. [Or, KJV: unsearchable riches; TCNT: boundless wealth; WEY: exhaustless wealth; MOF: fathomless riches; TAY: endless treasures.] As such it is his duty and honor to “enlighten everyone about God’s revelation. [Or, KJV: to make men see; RHM: to bring to light; TCN: make clear; WMS: make clear; TAY: explain.] This is his stewardship, or “household administration” of this sacred secret. [KJV: fellowship of the mystery; RHM: administration; TCN: working out; WEY: my stewardship.] The idea behind these words is that of a “faithful steward” providing “food at the proper time.” (Matthew 24:45; Luke 12:42; 1 Corinthians 4:1)
Paul writes that this was “mystery hidden in The God throughout the Aeons.” [Or, KJV: from the beginning of the world; ASV: for ages hath been hid in God; TCN: from the first had been concealed in the mind. This phrase does not mean from eternity. See notes on Ephesians 1:4. It was during the Edenic Age the need arose for a Seed to crush the Devil. (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20) We note this was “hidden in God” which infers the Son did not know. (Matthew 24:36; Revelation 1:1)
It is “the God” [HO THEOS] “who created everything.” The God created EVERYTHING which would include His own Son whom he procreated or created. (Proverbs 8:22-30) Compare Colossians 1:15 where Paul calls Jesus, “the firstborn of every creature.” (KJV) When the Logos or the Son is involved in creation he is always the agency (DI, DIA) by means of which creation occurred. (Colossians 1:15-18; Hebrews 1:2, 3) It will be noted by serious students that the KJV adds, “created all things by Jesus Christ.” Other Greek texts omit this. Both Nestle-Aland and Wescott-Hort use for “create” ktisanti.
It is not Paul alone who is the revealer of these sacred and divine mysteries, for the whole Church is this channel or agency. Paul says this mystery of God’s eternal purpose is not to be made “known through the Ecclesia.” [Or, KJV: made known by the church; RHM: through means of the assembly.] The Church (Household) becomes the vehicle for dispensing divine wisdom regarding God’s purpose and the future. Even the celestial creatures learn from the Church. In this regard Paul makes no use of such texts as Matthew 24:45.
Even heavenly, angelic or celestial beings must learn these truths by means of the Church. Paul alludes to such angelic “arch-rulers and authorities in the heavenlies.” [Or, TCN: the Archangels and to all the Powers on high; PME: angelic powers. See notes on Ephesians 1:21 and Ephesians 6:12. With this 1 Peter 1:12 agrees when it says, “Into these very things angels are desiring to peer.” Thus the whole Church is the channel or agency for making known “the immensely diversified wisdom.” [Or, TCN: all-embracing; WEY: innumerable aspects; GSPD: many-sided; WMS: many phrases; KNX: subtlety of; NOR: supreme.] This includes God’s “eternal purpose” or His “purpose of the Aeons.” [Or, KJV: eternal purpose; RHM: plan of the ages; PME: conformity to that timeless purpose.]
As members of this Church of revelation, “we are free to speak” about these celestial matters. [Or, KJV: we have boldness; RSV: freedom of speech; CON: approach without fear; TAY: come fearlessly.] This includes “a confident approach” to God. [Or, KJV: access with confidence; RSV: introduction with assurance; MOF: enjoy our confidence of free access.] Rejoicing in these privileges Paul exhorts them “not to despair over my oppressions for you.” [Or, KJV: faint not at my tribulations; TCN: not to be disheartened at the sufferings that I am undergoing for your sakes.] The Greek for “oppressions” is thlipsesin [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 2347, a pressing, pressing together, pressure].
1. How does Paul describe himself?
2. What does he say about God’s mystery?
3. How is the Church used by God?
4. What does our faith allow?
5. What does Paul say about their afflictions?
Prayer for Indwelling Christ [Ephesians 3:14-19]
Paul now offers a prayer through verse 21, asking God for His strength so that Christ may take up residence in the hearts of the Ephesians. He asks that they may all come to comprehend the universal dimensions of Christ’s love within the fulness of God’s purpose.
14 Because of this I bend my knees facing toward the Father, 15 from whom every fatherhood in heaven and upon earth is named, 16 so that He might give to you (Ephesians) the glorious riches of His dynamism to be made mighty through His Pneuma within the inner person, 17 the Christ taking up residence in your hearts because of your faith in love; you (Ephesians) having been rooted and founded, 18 so that you might have the strength together with all the Saints to grasp what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 to know surpassing knowledge of the love of Christ, so that you might be filled with all the fullness of The God. [NCMM Literal]
14 For these reasons I fall to the ground on bended knees facing upward to the Father. 15 From Him every father’s family is named, whether in the celestialum or upon the earth. 16 I so pray that the Father may make you Ephesians strong within the inner person in spiritual mightiness through the wealth of His glorious power. 17 I pray the Christ will reside within your hearts because of your faith and love. 18 You Ephesians have strong roots and are well founded, so that you will have the combined strength with all the Saints; and with all the Saints seize from above the cosmic dimensions -- breadth, length, height, depth -- of Christ’s love. 19 And to comprehend the transcendental ‘knowing’ of Christ so you may be completely filled with all the wholeness of God. [NCMM Paraphrase]
Here begins Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and all future members of the Church. We see Paul in his prison, fingers stained black by ink, parchment scattered around him, eyes gazing out his cell bars to the heavens -- thinking only of the Ephesians and the triumphant glory of the Church in Christ. The KJV text adds, “... of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But this portion is lacking in Nestle-Aland and Westcott-Hort Greek texts. Paul prays only to the Father, the God of the Lord Jesus. [Ephesians 1:3, 17]
Paul describes the Father as the One “from whom every fatherhood in heaven and upon earth is named.” The Greek is ex ou pasa patria ... onomazetai. The thought is that all those who are the progeny of the Father in heaven, and all those produced by fathers on earth, owe their “name” or lineage to the one absolute God. [Or, KJV: from whom the whole family in heaven and earth; TCN: from whom all ‘fatherhood’ in heaven and on earth; KNX: takes it title; TCN: derives its name.] There is one universal family of angelic sons and spiritual children on earth who name a single Father.
Paul prays that God grant the Ephesians, and, indeed, all members of the Church, to comprehend “the glorious riches of His dynamism.” [Or, KJV: riches of his glory; WEY: in accordance with the wealth of His glorious perfections; PME: out of the glorious riches of his resources.] This will result in being “made mighty through His Pneuma within the inner person.” [Or, KJV: to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; WEY: with the power permeating your inmost being; PME: to know the strength of the Spirit’s inner reinforcement.]
In addition that “the Christ take up residence in your hearts.” [Or, KJV: that Christ may dwell in your hearts; TCN: so that Christ, through your faith, may make his home within your heart sin love; PME: that Christ may actually live; TAY: I pray that Christ will be more at home in your hearts.] Such indwelling Christ will result in all members of the Church being “rooted and founded.” [Or, KJV: rooted and grounded in love; WEY: having your roots deep and your foundations strong in love; TCN: firmly rooted and established; PME: now firmly fixed in love; TAY: may your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. Thus, all together “might have the strength together.” [Or, RHM: mighty enough to grasp.]
To do what? Comprehend “the breadth and length and height and depth.” [Or, NOR: the dimensions.] Possibly a phrase from the Stoics describing ‘the totality of the cosmos.’ The dimensions are cubic. The dimensions of what? The “surpassing knowledge of the love” of Christ Jesus. [Or, KJV: the love of Christ which passeth knowledge; MON: may know the love of Christ which transcends all knowing; NOR: really beyond human understand; PME: that love so far beyond our comprehension.] It is this love that helps all to be “filled with all the fullness.” [Or, TCN: filled to the full with God himself; KNX: with all the completion God has to give.] Note the same language is used of Christ at Colossians 2:9. The joyous goal of every disciple of Christ is to be completely filled with God so that “God may be everything to everyone.” (1 Corinthians 15:28 MOF) This is that ultimate state of future New Age.
1. What does Paul pray?
Prayer for God’s Glory by Christ’s Church [Ephesians 3:20, 21]
Paul concludes his inspired prayer with confident expressions as well as praise to the One who has the power to carry out His own eternal purpose by means of the Church and Christ Jesus.
20 To the One who is able to do immeasurably beyond whatever we request or mentally perceive according to the dynamic inner-energy within us – 21 to Him the glory in the Ecclesia and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations of the eons of Eons. Amen. [NCMM Literal]
20 Now I pray: To the One who answers every request infinitely beyond every superabundance and beyond anything we can mentally conceive according to that dynamic energizing with us: 21 Glory to Him by means of the Church and by means of Christ Jesus, throughout all eternal generations. Amen. [NCMM Paraphrase]
In his prayer Paul affirms that the God is “able to do immeasurably beyond” whatever we can possible conceive. [Or, KJV: exceedingly abundantly above; GDS: unutterably more than; NEB: immeasurably more than.] “Mentally perceive,” Paul says. The Greek is a philosophical technical term, NOOUMEN and means to “mentally see” something. [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 3539, or perceive with the mind, to understand, to have understanding] Paul has used a related term in Ephesians 3:4, NOESAI, to see mentally. Our worship and service to God must not only be rooted in the heart, but also the mind. [Compare notes on Romans 12:1, 2.]
God can do more working within us that we can possibly conceive or comprehend. For His “dynamic inner-energy within us” works according to His purpose. The Greek is dynamin ten energoumenen. [Or, KJV: the power that wortheth in us; RHM: the power which doth energise itelf within us; RSV: by the power which is at work within us.]
Paul sings God’s praise and asks that His glory continue “throughout all generations of the eons of Eons.” [Or, KJV: throughout all ages, world without end; ASV: all generations for ever and ever; TCN: for all generations age after age. There is a strong inference that Ecclesiastes 1:4 is an eternal principle: humankind will continue to generate new human beings throughout the endless ages. Since the planet earth could never accommodate such population increases, homes must be found elsewhere in the Universe. Throughout all the eternal ages and throughout all the expanses of the Universe, including celestial beings, God the Father will receive honor. This is to take place by the agency of the Church and Christ Jesus.
[NOTE: one could create a triune formula here – God the Father, the Church, and Christ. It is interesting that this everlasting honor is directed primarily to the Father by means of – according to Paul’s prayer -- the Church and also Jesus Christ.]
1. How does Paul end his prayer?
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AND THE NEW PERSON”
[A commentary on Ephesians chapter four
by Mark Heber Miller ©2000]
One of Paul’s major themes in Ephesians is the unity of the Body of Christ. He has in chapters two and three indicated the former divisiveness between Jew and non-Jew. This had wormed its way into the early Church. [See Commentary On Romans chapters 9, 11.] This conflict between Jew and non-Jew remained an inner Church problem for many decades in the 1st Century. Now Paul gives practical counsel on how unity may be attained and maintained within the Body of Christ. This involves two primary factors: a] the appointed men who served as elders with various capacities; and, b] the individual Christian as a New Person in Christ. Paul begins with one of his classic appeals and exhortations. He first makes it clear that this maintenance of Body unity involves the worthiness of the calling.
Observe the Oneness [Ephesians 4:1-6]
1 Therefore, I -- bound in the Lord -- encourage you to walk worthily of the calling by which you were called, 2 with all humility of mind and mildness, putting up with one another in love, 3 fervently attentive to the unity of the Pnuema in the joint bond of peace: 4 one body and one Pneuma, even as you were called in one hope of your calling – 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of everyone, the One who is over all, through all, and in all. [NCMM Literal]
1 And so, as the prisoner of the Lord, I beg you to conduct yourselves in a way worthy of that invitation by which you were called. 2 Do this in all lowliness and meekness, persevering in tolerance for one another in loving concern. 3 Earnestly endeavor to observe the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. 4 There is only one Body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling. 5 There is only one Master, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of everyone. God the Father is the One who is over all, through all, and in all. [NCMM Paraphrase]
Paul offers one of his many exhortations or encouragements. His intent is that the mixed congregation in Ephesus of both Jewish and non-Jewish Christians strive for unity and harmony among their fellowship. He appeals as one who is a prisoner “bound in the Lord.” [Or, KJV: the prisoner of the lord.] He wants to “encourage” them to a certain course of action. [Or. KJV: beseech; TCN: urge; PME: beg. Compare Philippians 2:1.]
His encouragement, exhortation or urging is that they “walk worthily.” [Or, TCN: to live lives worthy; TAY: to live and act in a way worthy; NEB: live up to.] Compare Philippians 1:27. In Colossians 1:10 he puts it, “... in order to walk worthily of the Lord to the end of fully pleasing him.” The Christian’s life-style and conduct must be worthy of the glorious celestial calling. It must be accompanied by a “humility of mind.” [Or, KJV: lowliness; MOF: perfect modesty; GDS: perfect humility.] Humility is a great aid in preserving unity and harmony, for the humble will not insist on their own selfish way. The humble do not create disunity.
Two other attributes or characteristics describe those who desire unity and harmony. One is an attitude of “mildness.” [Or, KJV: meekness; CON: gentleness.] The meek, mild, or gentle are persons around which unity is possible for they are not so arrogant or egotistical to divide their Christian companions. And the other is a tolerant love. Paul says, “putting up with one another in love.” [Or, KJV: with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; RHM: bearing one ith another in love; TCN: patient, bearing lovingly with one another; KNX: patient, too, in bearing with one another’s faults, as charity bids; PME: making allowances for one another because you love one another.] Compare these exhortations to Paul’s definition of AGAPE (AGAPOO) in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Tolerance and forgiveness contribute greatly to unity. Love, or AGAPE, may be defined as concern followed by action which seeks the highest good of another. Therefore it does not insist on its own interests and opinions.
Paul urges them to pay fervent attention to “the unity of the Pneuma (or, Spirit).” [Or, KJV: endeavoring to keep; ASV: giving diligence to keep; ALT: earnestly striving to maintain; WMS: continuing with eager earnestness to maintain.] This is more than a passing, casual interest in Church unity. It is something to be diligent and earnest about. The phrase “unity of the Spirit” is also rendered: RHM: oneness of the Spirit; CON: unity of the Spirit; TCN: unity given by the Spirit.] God’s Pneuma causes only one result: loving unity.
Note that divisiveness and dissension come from another source. James warns: “If you have in your heart bitter jealousy and selfishness, do not boast and continue to lie against the truth. This is not the wisdom which descends from above, but rather, is earthly, soul-like, demonic. For where there is jealousy and selfishness there is disorder and the practice of every kind of evil.” [James 3:14-16 NCMM]
Paul now lists some factors or attributes that encourage unity and harmony.
1. One hope. Paul says there is only “one hope.” [Or, CON: called to share in common hope; TCN: just as there was but one hope set before you; WEY: the same hope; WMS: there is but one hope resulting from the call.] There is only “one hope” in the Christian Church and that is the one hope as a result of “a heavenly calling” to take up residence wherever Christ resides. (Hebrews 3:1; John 14:1-3) This hope is to dwell “eternal in the heavens.” [2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV] When a group of people have one common hope or expectation they will rally around this conviction and create their own unity.
2. One Master. [Or, one Lord] That is, Jesus Christ as the lord and master of his disciples. Paul teaches elsewhere that there are “many lords” in a generic sense. (1 Corinthians 8:5) Also, Yehowah is described as “Lord of lords.” Psalm 110:1 in the KJV has two Lords: one Yehowah and one the Messiah. In Paul’s qualified and limited context here he has in mind the Lord Jesus. When slaves have one master they have on direction. On the other hand, if a person has two masters – as in the case of “God or Riches” the Nazarene mentions in Matthew 6:24 – then his slavery is divided and conflicted.
3. One baptism. Paul states that the “one (common) baptism” of all Christians contributes to congregational unity. [Or, RHM: one immersion.] In Hebrews 6:2 “baptisms” (plural) are part of the “elementary doctrine of the Christ.” Several baptisms can be identified in the Christian Bible: water baptism (Matthew 3:15; 1 Peter 3:21), spirit baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13), baptism into leadership (1 Corinthians 10:2-4), baptism into Christian death (Romans 6:3-5), baptism in fire (destruction) (Matthew 3:11). There are different views on this “one baptism.” It is possible Paul means the whole process beginning with water immersion, followed by spirit baptism into Church membership under the leadership of Christ and the consecration into a life-course of baptism into a death like that of Jesus.
4. One God. Obviously if worshippers have two or more gods they will be divided in favor of one over the other. [Compare the notes above on “one Lord.”] In the absolute sense there is only one God as expressed in both the Hebrew and Christian Bible. However, in a more qualified or limited sense the Bible also teaches there are others called “god.” Jesus taught this (John 10:34. 35) as well as Paul. (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6) Compare Deuteronomy 10:17. The Bible, as well as the early “church fathers” of the first and second centuries were henotheistic. For more information on this research henotheism. This “one God” is identified in the Hebrew Bible as Yehowah and in the Christian Bible as the Father, “the God of our Lord Jesus.” [See notes on Ephesians 1:3, 17.] Even Jesus has but one God he obeys and worships. [Revelation 3:12] This God -- usually called “the God” [HO THEOS] by Paul – is the “Father of everyone” including His “only-begotten Son.” The Bible does not teach that God is the Father of all, including the wicked. It is possible Paul means “Father of all His children.” Research fatherhood elsewhere for detail on what is required to become a child of God. (John 1:12, 13) Such a God and Father is “over all.” [Or, KJV: above all; WEY: rules over all; KNX: above all beings.] This would include His Son, Jesus Christ. He is “through all.” [Or, CON: works through all; TCN: pervades all; WEY: acts through all.] That includes His Son. The Father is also “in all.” [Or, KJV: in you all; CON: dwells in all; KNX: lives in all of us.] This also includes His Son.
1. What does Paul exhort?
2. What should be their earnest endeavor?
3. What are some unifying elements?
Unifying Gifts Given to Humans [Ephesians 4:7-10]
How else does God provide the keys to unity and harmony within the Church of Christ? Paul now uses a key verse from the Psalms to prove that God, by Christ, has provided certain “gifts” with the purpose of achieving and maintaining unity.
7 But to each one was given unmerited charity according to the measure of the free gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore He says, “Upon his ascension into the height he led prisoners into captivity and he gave gifts to humans.” 9 But, the “He ascended,” what is it if not that he also descended ‘into the lower parts of the earth’? 10 The one who descends this is also the one who ascends far above all the heavens so hat he might completely fulfill everything. [NCMM Literal]
7 Now Grace was given to everyone in the way it was measured out as a free gift from the Christ. 8 That is why David writes, “When he ascended on high he led in procession captives as prisoners of war and these he gave as gifts to people.” 9 Now what does, “he ascended,” mean but that Christ also descended ‘into the lowest places on earth’? 10 The person who descended to the earth is the same one who ascended above the entire celestialum. This was so that Christ might fulfill completely everything (purposed). [NCMM Paraphrase]
Paul is to discuss “gifts” but he begins by assuring that “to each one was given unmerited charity” as God “measured out the free gift.” [Or, KJV: unto every one of us is given grace; KNX: his own special grace; TAY: special abilities; TCN: entrusted with some charge; NEB: each one of us has been given his gift.] Compare Romans 12:3. Others render “the measure of the free gift as -- WEY: measured out with the munificense of Christ; GDP: generous measure; PME: rich diversity; NEB: due portion of Christ’s bounty. Every member of the Body of Christ is possessed of certain gifts. [See notes on Ephesians 4:16. Read carefully 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and Romans chapter 12.] To prove the point that special gifts have been provided through Christ to attain and maintain Church unity Paul points to a verse in the Psalms.
The quote is from Psalm 68:18. Both the Hebrew and Jewish Greek texts say “in men” while Paul paraphrases slightly “to humans.” It is clear the allusion to David’s imprisoned human booty that was contributed to the Tabernacle and future Temple to become “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” (Hebrew: Nethinim) Psalm 68:18 reads: “You [YHWH] have ascended on high; You have carried away captives; You have taken gifts in the form of men.” Or, it may read: “gave gifts to humans.”
Though the credit for these captives of war is giving rightly to Yehowah, it was actually David who captured them and ascended Mount Zion to present them as gifts for Temple service and thus gifts to not only the priesthood but the Hebrew worshippers who benefited from these human gifts. Compare 2 Samuel 5:7. Likewise, Paul’s inspired interpretation has the David Messiah-type, Christ Jesus, doing something similar. (Compare Deuteronomy 29:11; Joshua 9:21, 23; 1 Chronicles 9:2; Ezra 8:17 Nehemiah 3:26; Psalm 68:6; Psalm 69:33.
Paul strongly affirms that Jesus of Nazareth had a heavenly pre-existence when he argues from Psalm 68:18 that the one who had “ascended” and “descended” prior to this. Christ himself taught the same thing. Compare John 3:13; 6:62; 17:5. (Acts 1:9-11; Daniel 7:13) This “descent” was into “the lower regions.” There is a high degree of possibility that this phrase is a strong allusion to Psalm 139:15 (LXX: Psalm 138:15). The Septuagint reads en tois katotato tes ges; and Paul’s phrase, eis ta katotera mera tes ges. If this be the case then this Hebraism refers to the womb where the fleshly body of Jesus was being formed from the embryo. Following his death and resurrection, the Christ then “ascended … far above all the heavens.” [Or, TCN: beyond the highest Heaven.] Beginning with Acts 1:9-11 Jesus’ ascent passed through the atmosphere, the solar system, the stellar universe, the angelic “heavens” to God’s own celestial dwelling. (Daniel 7:13; John 6:62) Hebrews 4:14 puts it, “We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” But, what were these “gifts given to humans” as a result of this ascension? Paul explains:
1. What gift was given?
2. What text does Paul quote? Proving what?
3. What of Christ’s ascension?
11 And he gave these in fact: apostles, prophets, evangelizers, shepherds and teachers, 12 for the purpose of reorganizing the Saints for work of servants, for building up the Body of Christ, 13 until we all might attain the oneness of the faith and a heightened knowing of the Son of The God, (attaining) perfect manhood unto the measure of stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may not remain babes, being tossed about by waves and borne around by every wind of teaching, by the slight of hand of persons always working toward methodical error, 15 but rather maintaining truth in love, growing into him in everything, the one who is the head, Christ, 16 from whom all the body joined together and made to go together by means of every connection of the supply according to the energizing within in each one’s measure, a part of the growth of the body it makes for building up itself in love. [NCMM Literal]
11 These “gifts” given to humans include apostolic representatives, prophetic spokesman, missionaries of the good news, pastoral shepherds of congregations, and teachers within the Church. 12 The purpose of these “gifts” is to rearrange and perfectly equip all the Saints for the work of service to others; and, for the upbuilding and strengthening of the whole Body of Christ. 13 And this until all of us attain a perfect unity of faith and a heightened relationship with the Son of God. Until we all together grow into perfect maturity measured by the full stature of the Christ. 14 So we no longer remain babies, tossed here and there by (doctrinal) waves, carried aimlessly by every wind of teaching. By the deceptive slight of hand always engaging in methodical plans. 15 Rather, these “gifts” aid all of us to maintain loving truth, constantly growing in Christ in every way. Christ is the Head, the one from whom the whole Body is perfectly joined and fitted together by means of every connective muscle and tissue. 16 Thus the entire Body is furnished by an inner energy according to each members gift, each one a part contributing to the Body’s growth and maturing as it is built up in loving concern. [NCMM Paraphrase]
FIVE “GIFTS” TO THE BODY. Paul says that after his ascension Christ “gave gifts to humans.” [Or, “gifts in the form of men.” That is Christ presented these “gifts” to the Father upon his ascension. He went to heaven with the perfect price in the value of his blood to purchase such gifts. These gifts took the form of male elders in the Christian Church who held at least five different offices. These were, “apostles, prophets, evangelizers, shepherds and teachers.” For details research these individual words that describe the work of elders. Compare 1 Corinthians chapter 12 for more information. What was the purpose of these male “gifts” to the Church?
THE SIX-FOLD PURPOSE OF THESE “GIFTS”
1. Readjusting. Paul first mentions these gifts were for the purchase of readjusting the Church. The Greek kat-artismon [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #2677] is use as a medical term for the resetting of a broken bone. It is a metaphor for a range of meanings: KJV: perfecting; RHM: the fitting; WEY: to order fully to equip; PME: properly equipped. The Body or Church of Christ was to become a tool or agency for the revealing of God’s “eternal purpose.” Compare notes on Ephesians 3:10. In order to be such a fit and proper vehicle for the dispensation of God’s will it had to be equipped or readjusted perfectly. This was the first purpose of these “gifts to [Christian] humans.” Here it can be noted that some of these men were to end up abusing their authority, and as “ravenous wolves they did not treat the flock with tenderness.” [Acts 20:29]
2. Work of servants. These “gifts to humans” were to prepare the individual members of the Body of Christ for the “work of servants.” [Or, KJV: work of the ministry; CON: appointed service; WEY: work of serving; BEC: to serve as workers.] All the Saints should be workers in the service of others in imitation of their Lord. These gifts of anointed elders were to aid in the training of the Saints for the work of serving others, whether materially or spiritually.
3. Building up the Body. The result was that the entire Body of Christ would be built up or strengthened. [Or, KJV: edifying; WMS: ultimate building up.] These gifts of anointed elders are to build up and not tear down. 1 Corinthians 14:26 encourages, “Let all things take place for upbuilding.” Though some of these men throughout the Church Age proved destructive does not negate the original spiritual gifts from the Lord Jesus. Just as God has appointed the political rulers for the social order among humanity, He has also appointed men in the Church to do constructive work that leads to the mature faithfulness of all. [Romans 13:1ff] If any of these men abuse their authority or position they will have to answer to the Head of the Church, Christ Jesus. These men will receive “a heavier judgment.” [James 3:1-3]
4. Attaining Unity of Faith. These “gifts to humans” would continue throughout the Gospel Age to “unify all in the faith.” This is a unified attainment, and it is a process of maturing as Paul goes on to say. In 1 Corinthians 13:11 Paul likens the Church to a babe growing up to maturity into full adulthood. There are two major things to attain: unity of faith and perfect knowledge. Simply put Paul calls it a “oneness of the Faith.” [Or, KJV: unity of the faith; TAY: believe alike; TCN: that unity which is given by faith.] Paul has already said there was “one faith” and the Nazarene asks: “When the Son of Man arrives will he really find The Faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8) The Church must not become a divided tool made up of many faiths. It has one “creed” [Latin = CREDO = I believe] and this based upon the solid Word of God.
5. A heightened knowing: This unified faith would also be based upon, or result in, a “heightened knowing.” The Greek is epi-gnoseos or (over + know) [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 1922, precise and correct knowledge]. [Or, ALF: perfect knowledge; TCN: personal knowledge, fuller knowledge.] Suck knowledge or knowing may be viewed from two standpoints: a) a heightened or elevated ‘knowing’ of the Son in an intimate personal relationship; b) a complete or more accurate knowledge of what Jesus taught. One of purposes of these “gifts to humans” is their teaching abilities to educate and encourage in the Sayings of the Nazarene and his inspired disciples.
6. Attaining maturity. The final result of these “gifts to humans” is the attainment of personal maturity and overall Church maturity. The Greek is EIS (into) ANDRA (male) TELEION (end) and means full-growth into maturity or manhood. [Or, KJV: a perfect man; ASV: full grown man; CON: reach the stature of manhood; TCN: until we reach the ideal man -- the full standard of perfection; WEY: to mature manhood.] Compare 1 Corinthians 13:11 and 1 Corinthians 14:20. This maturity s individuals as well as the corporate whole of the Body of Christ is measured by Christ’s own stature. Paul says, “unto the measure of stature of the fullness of the Christ.” [Or, GDS: that full measure of development found in Christ; NEB: to mature manhood measured by nothing less than the full stature of Christ.] On the individual level it is a matter of growing in Christ to his full image. [2 Corinthians 3:18] As a Body, the Church also grows from infancy to adulthood. The traits of babyhood included those gifts of the spirit provided before the Christian Bible was completed and full separation from the Jewish example around the year 150 AD.
THE RESULT OF THESE “GIFTS”
The end result to the Church as a whole and as individuals is that its membership “no longer remain infants.” Compare 1 Corinthians 13:11. That is, TCN: no longer be like infants. Christian growth continues throughout one’s life, and each year witnesses an ever closer growth in Christ manifest by faith and love. Proof of this grow is that grown up Christians are no longer “tossed about by waves” of different and conflicting teachings. [Or, KJV: tossed to and fro; RHM: billow-tossed and shifted around; CON: by every current of teaching; TCN: tossed backward and forward.] The mature Christian is not like a rudderless ship at the mercy of tossing seas.
Paul here warns regarding “every wind of teaching.” [Or, KJV: every wind of doctrine; TCNT: blown round by every breath of human teaching; WEY: every changing wind of doctrine; KNX: the wind of each new doctrine; NEB: every fresh gust of teaching; BEC: every windy thing that is taught. An infant can be taught almost anything, but a mature adult may follow reasonable logic founded on the Scriptures. It is a knowledge of the Scriptures which provide a firm anchor. Thus, the mature Christian has no difficulty in defining and explaining the established truths or doctrines of the Bible and Christ Jesus. He or she is not confused, or in a quandary as to what to believe. They have come to know the Truth.
Mature Christians will not be misled “by the slight of hand” of false teachers. The Greek is CUBIA and refers to dice. [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 2940] These teachings are about as trustworthy as a lucky throw of the dice whether one teaching is accepted over another. [Or, KJV: sleight of men; TCN: craftiness and trickery; NEB: dupes of crafty rogues; PME: the jockeying of men who are expert in the crafty presentation of lies. These men, or women, present no firm foundation in the Scriptures and the teachings of the Nazarene. Rather they result in “working toward methodical error.” The Greek is panourgia pros ten methodian tes planes. [Or, NEB: deceitful schemes; GDS: ingenuity in inventing error.] This is not a case of just a mistaken idea though sincere. It is a deliberate plan to lead others astray. Paul warns of this throughout his letters. [Acts 20:30]
There is one motivating force behind God’s “gift to humans” within the Christian Church. That is, the “maintaining of truth in love.” [Or, KJV: speaking the truth in love; ALF: being followers of truth in love; WEY: lovingly hold to the truth; AMP: let our lives lovingly express truth in all things. Love must be honest and truthful, not deceitful. This loving truth continues to “grow into Christ in everything.” [Or, KJV: grow up into him in all things; CON: grow up in ever part.] We should mature in every part of our lives, in our character, as Christ is our single focus. “What would Christ do?” must be our continual question. The result of such truth and love will be that “all the body will be joined together and made to go together.” [Or, KJV: fitly joined together and compacted; WEY: various parts closely fitting and firmly adhering to one another; TCN: closely joined and knit together.] Note Paul’s illustration of the human body and its mutual need for all its parts in 1 Corinthians chapter 12.
This unity involving the whole Church and the “gifts given to humans” leads to unity if applied rightly and in harmony with Scripture. Paul says it is “by means of every connection of the supply.” [Or, KJV: every joint supplieth; WEY: every contributing ligament; TCN: by the contact of every part with the source of its life; RSV: every joint with which it is supplied. Compare a similar idea by Paul at Colossians 2:19, “ ... the head, to the one from whom all the body, being supplied and harmoniously joined together by means of its joints and ligaments.” Some believe these connective tissues and joints are the “gifts to humans” themselves.
Whatever, the result is “the energizing within in each one’s measure.” The Greek is energeian en metro enos ekastou merous. [Or, KJV: the effectual working in the measure of every part; WEY: aid of every contributory ligament, with power proportioned to the need of each individual part; TCN: in proportion to the vigour of each individual part; RSV: when each part is working properly.] So that “a part of the growth of the body it makes for building up itself in love.” [Or, KJV: maketh increase of he body unto the edifying of itself in love; WEY: so as to build itself up in a spirit of love; RSV: makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. Not only does each individual contribute to the whole growth of the Body but also the individual part will grow only as long as it is part of the Body.
However, the above deals mainly with the part the “gifts to humans” play in unifying the Body of Christ. What about each individual member of the Body? What must each Church member do, or not do, in order to assure total Body harmony? First, there is a certain way the membership of the Nazarene CANNOT conduct themselves and maintain unity in the Body.
1. What were these gifts?
2. Given for what purpose?
3. Until when?
4. How is maturity measured?
5. How are we to grow?
6. How does Paul describe this Body unity?
7. Growing in what main characteristic?
The Unified Walk Not as Worldly [Ephesians 4:17-19]
17 Therefore, this is what I tell you (and I give my testimony in the Lord): do not also continue walking just as the non-Jews in walking in a vanity of their minds, 18 their perceptions darkened, those who are alienated from the life of The God, because of their ignorance, by the dulling of their hearts, 19 ceasing to feel in themselves any pain, they surrendered to loose conduct, greedy to work all uncleanness. [NCMM Literal]
17 Because of this I tell you this testimony in the Lord: Do not continue to conduct yourselves as the Gentiles. They conduct themselves with empty minds. 18 Their understanding is blind. They are estranged from the Life that comes from God. They no longer have a conscience that can pain them because of their willful stupidity and their numb hearts. 19 They have surrendered to sensuality and licentious behavior. They have an insatiable appetite for every kind of filthiness. [NCMM Paraphrase]
So, now Paul moves on to what each individual Christian can do. He offers another exhortation continuing from verse 1. “This is what I tell you,” Paul says. [Or, RHM: protesting in the Lord; CON: adjure you in the Lord; NASB: affirm together with the Lord; TCN: I urge upon you; GDP: so what I mean and insist upon in the Lord’s name; TAY: speaking for the Lord. He then gives this command: “Do not also continue walking as the world does.” [Or, KJV: walk not as other Gentiles walk. Go back to Ephesians 2:11. And what kind of walk or conduct was this? He writes: “walking in a vanity of their minds: [Or, GDS: with their frivolity of mind; KNX: who make vain fancies their rule; NEB: good-for-nothing notions; CON: whose minds are filled with folly.] Compare Romans 1:21. This includes that “their perceptions were darkened.” [Or, KJV: understanding darkened; TCN: powers of discernment darkened; KNX: their minds are clouded with darkness; PME: they live blindfold; NEB: their wits are beclouded; NWT: in darkness mentally.] Compare 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Romans 1:21. Note Paul’s commission from the Lord at Acts 26:18.
These persons in the social order of humanity are “alienated from the life of The God.” [Or, TCN: cut off from; WEY: having no share in; NEB: strangers to the life that is in God; BEC: excluded from.] Compare Ephesians 2:12. This is “because of their ignorance.” [Or, NEB: because ignorance prevails among them.] Paul writes in a similar vein at Colossians 1:21 has it, “You were also formerly estranged and enemies because your thinking concentrated on evil works.” This resulted also in “the dulling of their hearts.” [Or, KJV: past feeling; TCN: lost all sense of shame; GDS: become callous; PME: they have stifled their consciences; NEB: dead to all feeling.] Such words can be used to describe the world today despite the fact that one third of it claims to be Christian.
In this mental state “they surrendered to loose conduct.” [Or, KJV: lasciviousness; GDS: abandoned themselves to sensuality; NEB: vice.] See notes on uncleaness, loose conduct, or aselgeia [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #766, unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence]. Compare Galatians 5:19. They were “greedy to work all uncleanness.” [Or, KJV: to work all uncleanness with greediness; RHM: making a trade of all impurity with greed; TCN: to practice every kind of impurity without restraint; WMS: excessive practices of all sorts of immorality; PME: practicing any form of impurity which lust can suggest.] Compare the same thing among apostate Jews at Romans 1:24-32. The Greek for “greed(iness)” is PLEOEXIA [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 4124] and means the desire for more. The Greek for “uncleanness” is AKATHARSIAS [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 167] which is from the metaphor of garbage thrown out. No such person who is characterized by the above can contribute to the unity of the Body of Christ from a moral sense. Permitting such persons who are habitual sinners membership in the Church leads only to moral confusion and disunity. What kind of person, then, ought each member of the Church be?
1. What should the Ephesians cease?
2. What does Paul write about this past life?
20 But you (Ephesians) did not learn about Christ like that, 21 if really you heard and we taught according to the truth that is in the Jesus, 22 to put away the old person (your former course of conduct) who was corrupted by seductive desires, 23 but be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new person (the one God created according to righteousness and true loyalty. [NCMM Literal]
20 This is not at all the way you learned about the Christ 21 because you certainly heard and were taught in accordance with that truth in Jesus. 22 You were taught to put away the former type of person you were by ceasing your former life-style that was completely perverted by a deceptive desire for more. 23 Rather let your mental attitude undergo a complete renovation. 24 Put on the New Person created by God in accordance with righteousness and true loyalty to God. [NCMM Paraphrase]
LEARNING COMES FIRST
There is nothing in learning about Jesus Christ the Nazarene that is harmful or dangerous. There is nothing in him that is unclean or unkind. These Ephesian non-Jews had “learned” about Jesus and his teachings. Hebrews 7:26 describes Christ as, “ .. loyal, guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners.” [NWT] [Or, TCN: far different is the lesson you learnt from the Christ; TAY: that isn’t the way Christ taught you. Rather, each “genuine disciple” first heard and then were taught about what kind of person they need to become. [Or, TCN: you really listened to him; GDS: instructed in him. New Christians received instruction even as Jesus commanded his apostles. [Matthew 28:19] Paul also writes at 1 Thessalonians 4:1, “Just as you received [the instruction] from us on how you ought to walk and please God.” Whatever that comes from such instruction confirms that “the truth is in the Jesus.” [Or, WEY: this is true Christian teaching; WMS: as it is seen in Jesus; TCN: to be found in Jesus.] John 1:14 describes, “(Jesus) was full of truth.” This full “truth” encompasses all that is spiritual and moral.
There must be a real change in the Christian’s conduct, and in time in his or her character and personality. So that the latter person is much different than the former. Paul says to “put away the old person.” [Or, KJV: the former conversation of the old man; RHM: strip off; TCN: cast off your old nature; WEY: your original evil nature; PME: to fling off the dirty clothes of the old way of living.] Romans 6:6 puts it, “our old Self was crucified with Jesus.” Colossians 3:9 has it, “Remove the old person’s clothes with its bad habits.” This past conduct, like old dirty clothing were “corrupted by seductive desires.” [Or, CON: whose way is destructive, following the desires which deceives; TCN: yielding to deluded passions, grows corrupt; KNX: the self that wasted it aim on false dreams.] Romans 7:23 describes sin’s work, “There is another principle fighting with my mind’s own law taking me as a prisoner to the principle of sin at work in my bodily parts.” (Romans 7:23; James 1:14, 15)
How is such a change to take place? How is it achieved? Paul says, “by the renewing in the spirit of your minds.” [Or, GDS: adopt a new attitude of mind; PME: with yourselves mentally and spiritually remade; TCN: constantly renewed.] Read and prayerfully meditate on Psalm 51:10, “Create in me even a pure heart, O God, and put within me a new spirit, a steadfast one.” [NWT] Romans 12:2 describes the process, “Stop moulding yourselves after this time period. Undergo a metamorphosis by your remade mind.” There must be a real change, so that an old friend meeting such a New Person will have difficulty identifying the person they knew before.
This results in the “putting on of the New Person.” [Or, KJV: put on the new m; TCNT: clothe yourselves in that new nature; WEY: new and better self; PME: put on the clean fresh clothes of the new life.] Colossians 3:10 has it, “Put on the New Person which is renewed through a heightened knowing in accordance to the image of the One who created it.” Galatians 3:27 simple says, “Put on Christ.” As if the Christ were an entire new wardrobe, the Christian has become a New Person, one “God created.” [Or, TCN: created to resemble God; PME: made by God’s design; BEC: created to be like God.] See notes on Ephesians 2:10. Two attributes describe this New Person: “righteousness and true loyalty.” The Greek here for “loyalty” is rare, HOSISTETI and infers piety to God in holiness [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 3742, piety towards God, fidelity in observing the obligations of piety, holiness]. [Or, TCN: holiness springing from the Truth; PME: holiness which is no illusion.] So, one may recognize such a New Person by their habitual obeying God’s law and a pious lifestyle in devotion to Christ.
However, there is a danger here which may not only corrupt the unity of the Body, but also offend God.
1. How did they learn of Christ?
2. What should be put off?
3. How should they be renewed?
Ephesians 4:25-30 -- How Not to Grieve God’s Pneuma
25 So having put off the pseudo let each one ‘speak truthfully to his neighbor’, because we are members of one another. 26 ‘Do not sin if you become angry’; do not let the sun go down on your provocation to wrath, 27 nor give the Devil any room. 28 Let the former thief no longer steal, but rather let him do laborious work with his own hands so that he may have something good to give a share to the person in need. 29 Let not a single rotten word proceed out of your mouth, but rather any good word for building up of the needy, so that those listening are favored. 30 Also do not sadden the holy Pneuma of The God in which you were sealed unto a day of releasing by ransom. [NCMM Literal]
25 Therefore, having gotten rid of that fake life let everyone ‘speak honestly with a neighbor’, because we all really belong to one another in our community. 26 If you should become very upset or ‘angry do not let this lead to a sinful action’. Do not let the sun set while you are still provoked to anger. 27 Do not let the Devil have a place among you. 28 Let the person who used to steal stop stealing. Now let him work hard with his own hands so he will have something good to share with the needy. 29 Do not speak a single putrid remark come out of your mouth. Rather speak good words to upbuild the needy. Thus those who hear you will feel blessed. 30 Additionally, do not grieve God’s holy spirit. With this spirit you were confirmed with a seal until that Day of Redemption. [NCMM Paraphrase]
What now, then? Paul begins, “having put off the pseudo.” There are those false, fake, phony clothes to remove. The Greek is PSEUDOS [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 5579]. [Or, KJV: putting away lying; RHM: stripping off what is false; KNX: away with the falsehood then; PME: finish, then, with lying.] Colossians 3:9 puts it, “Do not be lying to one another.” The New Person in Christ is characterized by honest and truthfulness and is no liar. Rather, Paul urges, “Let each one speak truthfully to his neighbor.” [Or, KJV: speak every man truth with his neighbour; WEY: truth to his fellow man.] This phrase is an allusion to Zechariah 8:16, which is from the Hebrew Text: “Speak truthfully with one another.” And why be truthful? Because “we are members of one another.” [Or, TCNT: we are united to one another like the parts of a body; PME: intimately related to one another; KNX: membership of the body binds us to one another.] Compare Romans 12:5. But, there are other attributes of this honest and truthful New Person in Christ.
The kernel of the problem of human character or personality is ego or self-centeredness. This causes many thoughts and inclinations, or conduct and actions to be selfishly motivated. Paul exhorts” “Do not sin if you become angry.” This phrase is an exact quote from Psalm 4:4 in the Jewish Greek Septuagint, “Be ye angry, and sin not.” [Or, KJV: be ye angry, and sin not; WMS: if you do get angry, you must stop sinning in your anger; KNX: do not let resentment lead you into sin; TAY: don’t sin by nursing your grudge.] This requires a deep introspection as to what is best for another. So, Paul urges, “Do not let the sun go down on your provocation to wrath.” [Or, KNX: the sunset must not find you still angry; PME: never go to bed angry; NEB: do not let sunset find you still nursing it.] If you have been provoked to anger, you must let it go, or settle it before sundown. Colossians 3:13 puts it, “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.” [NWT] The New Person in Christ cannot demand on his or her own opinion, but be willing to forgive before the sun sets. There is a real danger here.
This danger is to “give the Devil any room.” [Or, KJV: neither give place to the devil; TCNT: give no opportunity to; GDS: you must not give the devil a chance; PME: don’t give the devil that sort of foothold; NEB: leave no loop-hole for the devil.] James 4:7 puts it, “Oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” [NWT] And, how does one know whether the Devil is being allowed into the Church? James 3:15, 16 gives some parameters: “This is not the wisdom which descends from above, but rather, is earthly, soul-like, demonic. For where there is jealousy and selfishness there is disorder and the practice of every kind of evil.” [NCMM]
Paul gives a specific example of a former thief who has now become a Christ. He says to such a person: “Let him do laborious work with his own hands.” [Or, TCNT: let him toil with his hands at honest work; WMS: rather he must keep on working ad toiling with his own hands at some honest vocation; PME: you must learn to make an honest living. 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.” And, what is the intent or purpose of such honest work? Paul states one of the only two exhortations to save: “So that he may have something good to give a share to the person in need.” [Or, WEY: so that he may have something of which he can give the needy to share; WMS: something to contribute to the needy.] Paul gives one reason to save a surplus: charity. Acts 20:35 records Paul’s words to Ephesian elders, “By so laboring I have demonstrated to you [elders] in every way how you must also work hard and thus assist those who are weak. You must keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.” [NCMM]
Not is only right and godly action necessary but also speech. Paul commands: “Let not a single rotten word proceed out of your mouth.” [Or, KJV: no corrupt communication; RHM: putrid discourse; WEY: no unwholesome words ever pass your lips; TCN: never let any foul word.] Colossians 3:8 puts it, “Put them all away from you, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk.” [NWT] Jesus gives a warning on such speech that will be condemned on Judgment Day. [Matthew 12:35-37] Rather, the New Person in Christ must speak “Any good word for building up of the needy.” [Or, ASV: such as is good for edifying as the need may be; RSV: as fits the occasion; TCN: let all your words be good for benefitting others according to the need of the moment.] Colossians 4:6, “Let your language be always seasoned with the salt of grace, so that you may know how to give every man a fitting answer.” [Weymouth Translation]The reason for this is “so that those listening are favored.” [Or, KJV: that it may minister grace unto the hearers; WEY: a means of blessing to the hearers; PME: which God can use to help other people.]
The terrible danger of failure to put on the New Person and to walk accordingly is not limited to just the ruin if Church unity. Such negative attitudes and actions can also “sadden the holy Spirit.” [Or, KJV: grieve not the holy Spirit; GDS: not offend; KNX: not distress; PME: never hurt.] The phrase is very similar to Isaiah 63:10, “ ... and [they] made His holy spirit feel hurt.” The one saddened or grieved is God who is the source of the Pneuma, the mental force of His mind. (1 Corinthians 2:16; Isaiah 40:13 LXX) It is like trying to resist the wind at sea in a sailboat. If God sent a favorable wind and a sailor deliberately resists this blessing, then it amounts to grieving God.
It was with this holy Pneuma or Spirit that “you were sealed unto a day of releasing by ransom.” [Or, WEY: in preparation for the day of redemption; GDS: marked; PME: the personal pledge of your eventual full redemption; NEB: marked for the day of our final liberation.] See notes on Ephesians 1:13. The initial “seal” bestowed upon spirit-begettal confirms sonship with the Father as His possession. (2 Corinthians 1:22) The end-time Saints (144,000 / Large Crowd) receive the final and absolute “seal” or confirmation in their flesh before the Rapture. (Revelation 7:1-4, 9; 11:12, 13; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) Compare Romans 8:23. Thus, it is always dangerous to resist, and thus grieve, that divine pressure that comes from God’s will to move each one toward the fulfillment of His “eternal purpose.” What else is involved in this Spirit-directed walk as a New Person in Christ? Paul continues in chapter five to discuss more specifics.
1. How should a neighbor be treated?
2. What should stop by sunset?
3. Who is not welcome?
4. What counsel is given to the former thief?
6. What counsel is given regarding the mouth and speech?
7. What should not be grieved?
Speech and Forgiveness [Ephesians 4:31, 32]
31 Remove from yourselves every bitterness and animosity and vengeance and shouting and blasphemy, together with every kind of hurtfulness. 32 Rather become benevolent to one another, well inclined to sympathy, compassionately forgiving to others, just as The God in Christ graciously forgave you. [NCMM Literal]
31 Rid your whole community of every kind of bitterness, hatred, angry screaming and speech that is abusive. Also, remove every type of wrong. 32 On the other hand become graciously charitable to each other, with a tendency to sympathetic compassion full of forgiveness to all, exactly as God by Christ graciously forgave you. [NCMM Paraphrase]
The wrong persons in any community can destroy its unity. It is no different with the Church. So, Paul commands, “Remove from yourselves” … and then goes on to list several attitudes that ought not exist among harmonious Christians. [Or, KJV: put away from you; TCN: be banished from among you; WEY: be unknown among you.] First, “bitterness.” Compare James 3:14, “ ... bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your hearts.” Bitterness always leads to hatred that drives Christ from the heart. Second, “animosity.” [Or, NWT: anger.] Such is contradictory to that love the Nazarene taught. Third, “vengeance.” [Or, KJV: anger; NWT: wrath.]
The above always lead to “shouting and blasphemy.” That is, these attributes may always be identified by the raised voice that slanders. [Or, KJV: clamour; ASV: railing; TCN: brawling and abusive language; PME: no more violent assertiveness, no more slander.] We may assume these Ephesians suffered from these problems in their congregation otherwise Paul would have no need to tell them to get rid of such attitudes. Note how Paul writes to the Colossians, “But now you must rid yourselves of every kind of sin -- angry and passionate outbreaks, ill-will, evil speaking, foul-mouthed abuse -- so that these may never soil your lips.” [Colossians 3:8 Weymouth Translation] The Nazarene warns about Judgment Day, “But I tell you that every fruitless word human’s speak will be held to account on Judgment Day. For by your words you will be declared ‘Not Guilty,’ and by your words you will be accursed.” (Matthew 12:36, 37 NCMM) This clearly involves “every kind of hurtfulness,” as Paul puts it. [Or, KJV: all malice.]
In contrast to the above Paul says, “Rather become benevolent to one another.” [Or, KJV: be ye kind one to another; NEB: be generous to one another.] That is, “Well inclined to sympathy.” [Or, KJV: tenderhearted; RHM: tenderly affectionate; PME: be understanding.] To the Colossians Paul writes something similar: “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.” (Colossians 3:12 NWT) This sincere feeling of empathy leads to “compassionately forgiving.” [Or, TCN: ready to forgive.] Colossians 3:12, 13 has it, “Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own people holy and dearly loved, with tender-heartedness, kindness, lowliness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another and readily forgiving each other, if any one has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, you also must forgive.” [Weymouth Translation]
1. What bad things should be stopped?
2. What should characterize the Christian?
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