Nazarene Commentary 2000©

By Mark Heber Miller
31 December 2000

Introduction to
Nazarene Commentary 2000©

Nazarene Commentary 2000© is a complete reference to the 29 books of the Christian Bible and a few works in progress in the Hebrew Scriptures. These books have been presented in a new version called the 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures [or, 21st Century Paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures for the Hebrew books] This special study of the New Testament includes over 2 million words, 12,000 footnotes, and 3,000 pages. This entire work was completed Sunday 31 December 2000. It is the intellectual property of Mark Heber Miller and may not be reproduced without written permission accept in reasonable portions as free gifts to friends and relatives for the purpose of increasing Biblical knowledge. Portions of the work is being translated into Spanish, French, Dutch, German, and Russian. All this material may be downloaded from the Friends of the Nazarene web site – www.nazarene-friends.org

It is hoped that this spiritual aid will be a blessing to present and future Saints and that in time it will also be hard published so that those who do not have access to computers and the Internet may also benefit.

Contents

How to Understand the Bible

Nazarene Commentary 2000© is designed to help you understand Biblical Truth by doing your own research into the meaning of the Scriptures. I have tried to avoid being dogmatic, or insisting on only one view. I will be the first to admit that there are some Biblical subjects -- despite 2,000 years of research -- on which not everyone agrees. This does not mean the Friends of the Nazarene do not have their own firm views on most matters.

Nazarene Commentary 2000© is designed to provide you with as much information as is reasonably possible so you can arrive at your own conclusions. I have endeavored to supply a deep and broad coverage of the major phrases and key words dealt with here in this Bible study aid. However, I encourage any comparison with other lexicons, dictionaries, encyclopedias and commentaries. There is a wealth of knowledge cultivated by the Church of Christ throughout the Gospel Age. Though I do not agree with every Biblical "scholar" during the history of the Church, I respect their godly labors. Each disciple of the Nazarene is responsible before God to first understand the EPI-GNOSIS [heightened knowledge] of the eternal purpose of God. [Ephesians 3:9-11] Secondly, each individual Christian bears their own responsibility of coming to a mature comprehension of the will of God, to "the end of fully pleasing Him." [Colossians 1:9, 10]

Interest in the Bible

Despite its age of over four thousand years -- and despite the attempts over this same period to destroy the "People of the Book" [Koran] and their Scriptures -- more sincere people are interested in the Bible at the beginning of the 3rd Millennium CE than any other time in human history. More copies of the Bible are distributed in thousands of languages and tongues in every corner of the world. Millions of Bibles in a variety of translations continue to be distributed internationally.

Where Do I Start?

Where one starts in their use of Nazarene Commentary 2000© depends on their level of Christian maturity. I encourage any person new to Nazarene discipleship to begin first in harmony with Hebrews 1:1, 2: "On many occasions, and in a variety of ways in ancient times, The God spoke to our [Hebrew] forefathers by means of the Prophets. In these last days He spoke to us by means of a Son whom He appointed heir of the Universe." [21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures - NCMM] In other words, begin a study of the Bible with what Jesus Christ the Nazarene taught.

For brevity that would include the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5-7], the parables of Jesus [Matthew 13], and the Nazarene’s prophecy about his promised Return. [Matthew 24, 25] In this regard one may find it beneficial to use the Nazarene Commentary 2000© on the Gospel of Matthew. This is a completely new rendering of the Greek of Matthew’s Gospel with 1,500 footnotes. Beginning with the Sermon on the Mount one first learns what Jesus actually taught in his most famous public discourse. The publication Nazarene Principles 2000©is a basic primer on the fundamental teachings of Jesus. The same title and subject is also available in a condensed version of about ten pages.

If you want to learn about the early Church and how it was arranged, you may wish to begin with the Nazarene Commentary 2000© on First Timothy and Titus. There you will learn how Christians ought to conduct themselves in God’s House. Also helpful here is the work Nazarene Community 2000©. This work is a consideration of how early Christian meetings were conducted, how elders and deacons were chosen, and how Christians can maintain a degree of unity and harmony despite different backgrounds.

Many have attempted to read the Bible but the majority stop after a few months. Only a small portion complete the entire Bible. Fewer still understand what they have read. Hundreds of thousands want to know how to understand the Bible and then remember what they have learned. The Friends of the Nazarene are devoted to helping any honest person by publishing many publications on the World Wide Web. That is the purpose of Nazarene Commentary 2000 ©. Under the title How to Read the Bible below there are some helpful suggestions. There are hints to help anyone to remember key words that will aid memorizing important truths and principles.

All books of the Christian Bible in Nazarene Commentary 2000© contain review questions on every paragraph and/or chapter. Most of these Bible books contain two or more other versions for comparisons, as well as individual words compared against two dozen translations.

After Matthew I recommend beginning with Paul’s epistle to the Philippians which is both simple and encouraging. Each major thought or subject is presented in a paragraph. This paragraph has been assigned a topical heading in just a few words. You may wish to create your own brief statement on each chapter and paragraph.

Read the chapter heading before beginning. Note the key word and plan to look for these and related synonyms. You may wish to read the "Theme Verse" first to give you an over all view of the subject. Read each paragraph slowly and carefully. Compare the Bible versions provided to aid in a wider understanding. Noting the footnotes will also expand horizons of understanding.

You will note a couple things in your reading of the footnoted literal version: 1) Where Paul quotes or alludes to the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures these are noted; and, 2) Greek words of interest are usually printed in CAPS and often followed by the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and its numerical codes. [#1334, etc] By using this concordance, or another lexicon keyed to the Strong’s numbers, more can be learned about the meaning.

Memorizing Important Bible Subjects

Some people, like Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt, have memorized the entire New Testament. Though this is commendable, few have accomplished this feat. Your purpose here ought to be to learn and remember key words and subjects in certain Bible books. Take one book of the Bible at a time beginning with Philippians as an example of the process. Each paragraph grouping or chapters contains "Review Questions." Review these and try to find the answers as you proceed. Usually there are cross-referencing texts that will provide more information on that subject and question. [There is a section called Key Words of the Bible in the Nazarene Commentary 2000© which gives a key word for each chapter of the Bible.]

After reading a paragraph, review these verses and associate what you have read with the subject theme provided for that material. Do this with each paragraph, one after another. Then at the end of each chapter ask yourself these summary questions without looking at the chapter reading. Write these down. If you need to look over certain portions again, do so. "Repetition is the mother of retention."

Proceed through the four chapters in Philippians at your own pace. Take your time and meditate on what you are learning. [Psalm 1:1, 2] Do not worry if you do not grasp everything on the first reading. Few subjects worth learning are clearly understood upon a first reading. It usually takes several readings to begin to grasp the overall purpose and the details.

Devotional Bible Study Groups

Many prefer to be involved with a local Devotional Bible Study Group. [This is usually held on a mid-week evening.] You may be able to invite friends, family, or neighbors to share in such a Bible reading and discussion. If there is a qualified teacher present, or if the group wishes someone to take the lead, most will feel the discussion ought to be opened with prayer. [For details see Nazarene Community 2000.]

The leader of the group may wish to review what was read and discussed the previous week. This can be done by going over some of the questions and summaries emphasizing key words for memory purposes. It is always beneficial to pay close attention to certain principles that will enhance a Christian’s life.

Before reading a paragraph ask the preliminary Lesson or Study Questions so all in the group can be looking for the main points. Different members of the group can take turns in reading the paragraph in a single version which all can follow. After the reading the Lesson or Review Questions can be asked one at a time and the answers discussed. As needed the Cross Reference verses can be examined to gain more detail. Some may wish to examine a special Greek word, or make a comment on a footnote. Those who prepare in advance will find they get more out of the discussion.

No doubt some in the group will have questions. These may be discussed in brief and further direction given on how to learn more about that subject. It is only natural that some will have one view while others have another. Each view should be respected and individuals can make up their own minds as they study further. It is hoped that a humble and loving Christian group can come to "one mind" on most matters. [Philippians 2:1-3] The important thing is to grow as a Christian in knowledge, faith, and love. [Ephesians 4:12-16]

Following a reasonable length of time -- most feel about an hour is beneficial -- the leader of the devotional study group can review some points with the purpose of remembering the information and applying key principles in one’s life.

Persons new to Bible reading and study do well to begin with the letter to the Philippians.. The Bible books in Nazarene Commentary 2000© include review questions on each paragraph or at the end of chapters. Most will want to pass on to other Bible books. It is believed by most Christians that a study of the teachings of Jesus Christ the Nazarene should be a life-long project. These follow a format similar to the one described above can be created locally. We suggest the following books of the Bible in this order: Matthew, Acts, First Timothy, Ephesians, First John. Though many are interested in Revelation, I recommend reading Daniel first, and then do not draw any conclusions until both are read several times. Revelation is heavily based on other books of the Old Testament, and in part on the New Testament. If one does not have a sound knowledge of these first, false leads and paths will be experienced in a study of Revelation.

These follow a similar format as those epistles mentioned above. They are all new versions with a fresh literal rendering from the Greek language. Most key words and phrases are footnoted and all critical Greek words are studied.

The 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures in Nazarene Commentary 2000© contains the following tools and information:

If the above project is regularly practiced most will find they have developed a deeper and broader understanding of the Bible. They will also note that they are growing in Christian character, as a New Person in Christ. Others will recognize the change in their lifestyle and Christian growth. Some who began as first-time readers of the Bible may discover a true love of teaching the Scriptures to others.

Other Publications for Biblical Study

In addition to the above there are numerous magazines, booklets, and books on a variety of subjects in Nazarene Commentary 2000©. These include:

How to Find or Research

When using the Word documents, you may find any key word or subject by entering such in the "Find" [Ctrl + F] window. Bible verses may be located by entering the individual book code [40MT = Matthew] and the chapter-verse code -- MT1:1 etc. The following are the codes for each Bible book in Nazarene Commentary 2000©.

These will lead you quickly to the Bible books. For any Bible verse just enter, for example JN3:16 in the Find window. To find all occurrences of John 3:16 throughout Nazarene Commentary 2000© enter the text fully spelled out. This will take you to all places that verse occurs. In researching where a verse is referenced enter, for example, Daniel 7:13. In some cases that will be considerable.

Key words and subjects may also be located by entering the word in the Find window. Some words in the footnotes are underlined indicating this subject is covered elsewhere. You may find many subjects of interest in this manner.

Bible Translation Abbreviations:

Many Bible versions were used in the preparation of Nazarene Commentary2000© and these are indicated by a three-letter code.

The choice of a personal Bible is just that "personal." Many use the current versions produced with a profit in mind: New Revised Standard Version, New International Version, Today’s English Version, New King James, New American Standard.

An excellent Bible is the New Jerusalem Bible which has a pleasant read, is mildly paraphrased, and contains superb cross-references and footnotes. It also uses the Divine Name YAHWEH.

Some would consider the most accurate literal versions to be Rotherham, Goodspeed, Revised Standard Version — in that order.

Someone said: "All translations of the Bible are paraphrased versions." There is no Bible without its individual bias.

One way to determine overall accuracy is to use the RSV and compare it against a couple of interlinears remembering ALL TRANSLATIONS HAVE THEIR BIAS.

It is my prayer is that the Nazarene Commentary 2000© Bible study aid will be a blessing to your continued growth as a disciple of the Nazarene.

The Author and Editor

The work contained in the Nazarene Commentary 2000© is the result of the efforts of one Christian man devoted to Jesus Christ the Nazarene, Mark Heber Miller. This work may be viewed as nothing more than one Christian’s notes on the Bible entering the 21st century. The 2.5 million words here were composed during the years 1996 to 2000, though the preparation and research actually involved a period of 50 years. The author was christened a Lutheran [1938], baptized as a Baptist [1949] and completed his first reading of the King James Version when he was 12 years old. He was re-baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses [1956], and for doctrinal reasons parted company with "the Society" in 1996. In the 50 years following his first complete reading of the Bible his life has been dedicated to a love of God’s Word the Bible. The last two years have absorbed his determination to create a new rendering of the New Testament Christian Bible called the 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures.

Mark turned down college scholarships in English, creative writing and swimming to enter self-supporting missionary work in four countries over a 40-year period, 20 years in the full-time ministry. He has been the Presiding Minister or "pastor" of ten congregations in several states. Mark is well-known for his ongoing self-education. He has read the Bible completely scores of times, and the New Testament innumerable times. Mark has read the entire Bible in numerous translations, including: King James Version [6 times], Revised Standard Version [3 times], American Standard Version [2 times], James Moffatt [1 time], Smith and Goodspeed [2 times], New World Translation [20 times], Benjamin Wilson [2 times], New International Version 1 time], Today English Version [1 time], New Jerusalem Bible [3 times], Isaac Leeser [1 time], Green’s Interlinear Bible [1 time], K Wuest [3 times], William Barclay [1 time], Catholic Douay [2 times], F R Weymouth [2 time], G M Lamsa [1 time], Confraternity [1 time], Phillips Modern English [3 times], Amplified, New English Version [1 time], Living Bible [2 times], New Revised Standard Version [1 time], J B Rotherham [2 times], Bagster’s Septuagint [3 times]. In addition he has read and studied portions of another 80 versions.

He is a student of most Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek or Latin words of the Bible, having compared word for word Greek texts in half a dozen interlinear versions with over three dozen translations. He has studied virtually every cross-reference in several Bibles, including computer searches. He has read all the classic, secular and religious literature published in English, both the ancient Greek classics, history, philosophy, and the complete volumes of Will Durant’s Story of Civilization, Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Josephus, [Wars of the Jews], and most of the Church fathers during the first four centuries. He has read all the most well-known religious books of Christian and non-Christian sources. There is probably no important work in literature and religion that he has not read or studied.

In addition he has lectured and taught at a variety of learning centers on the American authors Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and William Faulkner. He has appeared on television in discussions of Shakespeare. His Bible discussions and lectures have been given in several churches, including Mormon, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist. He has discussed the Bible personally with such persons as the president of the American Bible Society, a Secretary of State, rabbis, and hundreds of clergymen and scholars. Other the years he has had Bible discussions with scores of clergymen and university scholars, including a Noble Prize winning chemist.

As an internationally known photographer Mark has traveled widely, including China, Canada, Mexico and most of Europe. He has lived for more than a year in each of the countries of Italy, England, The Bahamas, Canada, and Spain. His most recognizable photo is the inspirational "Footprints in the Sand." He has had many one-man art shows, won numerous awards for magazine photography, and spoken before numerous college groups interested in magazine and corporate photography. His photography may be viewed on the world wide web address: www.markmillerphotos.com. Mark was one of the first photographers selected by Canon to produce a "signature" CD of his photography and this may be seen at Photo Essentials -- http://www.photoessentials.com/d/pe118.html . He was senior editor of the very first laser disk of photography.

There are few men living today who have studied the Bible so intently for over 50 years -- from the age of 12 to 62 -- and at the same time have brought so many disciples one-on-one to Christ. He has been published in 80 languages in over 200 countries and it is safe to say that a vast portion of the globe has seen or read his work in one form or another. He was educated in private schools in the United States, Italy, Spain, The Bahamas, and England. He has been an instructor in public speaking and Christian apologetics. His speaking engagements and lectures have included audiences upwards of 50,000 persons in four countries. He has spoken before hundreds of churches in America in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Colorado.

In 1995 Mark "walked away" form Jehovah’s Witnesses for doctrinal reasons. He devoted the next 5 years to full-time study of the Bible without the influence and bias of any sectarian perspective. During this period he began to prepare Nazarene Commentary 2000. Much of it has been published on the World Wide Web. Thousands of people in over 30 countries have down-loaded this material. His own life story is told in the autobiography Messianic Confessions which has been read by over 7,000 persons in scores of countries.

Mark makes no claim of inspiration or special revelation from God. He states that it is his belief that each individual Christian will stand before the judgment throne of Christ [2 Corinthians 5:10], and therefore is responsible for their own choices in matters of doctrine and Christian worship. He believes that no church, sect, or religious organization has an exclusive on Biblical truth. He has never told a person to leave or join any particular group. He believes there have been "wheat" Christians [or, sheep] scattered all around the world throughout the Gospel Age. Not all Christian teachers have agreed during the past 2,000 years, nor does perfect harmony obtain now at the beginning of the 3rd Millennium. Despite this, Mark believes major Bible truths are self-evident in the Scriptures and that any honest person who reads the Bible without bias, or some sectarian filter, will come to understand those truths taught by Jesus Christ the Nazarene and his inspired disciples.

Mark has dedicated certain portions of Nazarene Commentary 2000© to family members and personal friends.

Friends of the Nazarene Publishing

Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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