I Thessalonians 5:20, 21

Do not despise expounding of scripture, but scrutinize all things. Hold fast that which is right.

Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

- I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery.


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Friday, November 30, 2012

Details of Scripture

A Christian fellow recently told me I was too concerned with the "details of Scripture." That I was "striving about words to no profit" according to 2 Timothy 2:15. How do we know those "words" Paul was referring to were words found in Scripture? I asked.  The word we were discussing was found in Scripture and that the word this fellow said there was no profit in understanding was Gentile. I had pointed out Gentile is a Latin word and not found in the original Greek (or Hebrew for that matter) and, being a  Latin word,  should not be used in an English translation of either the Old or the New Testament.

The Importance of Context

Telling my acquaintance that context is important and needs to be considered, I pointed out that the very next verse in 2 Timothy 2, verse 16, Paul tells us to "study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

The reason it is important to know that Gentile is not in the original Greek New Testament is because that word is used to confuse and obfuscate the original Greek word, ethnos, which most times should be translated nations, not Gentiles. Today, a Gentile is often considered to be a "non-Jew," which is not the meaning of the word Gentile. Gentile is from the Latin genus, and meant, at the time of its use in the New Testament, one who is not a Roman citizen

Details in Scripture Are Important

The point is, it is important to know the details of Scripture. When Christ Himself was tempted of the devil to  "command that these stones be made bread," (Matthew 4:3) Christ answered and said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Which words of God are we to ignore?Which words in Scripture are not important?

This fellow went on to tell me, quoting John 3:16,  that what was  important was that Jesus Christ is in your heart and that we share the love of Christ within us with others. In other words, the most important verse, and perhaps the only verse needed by a Christian, is John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave his only beloved Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

 Misuse of the Word "World"

I pointed out that the word "world," in the context of Scripture, doesn't mean the entire population of the world, but the Society of Israelites for whom Christ specifically said he came for:"I am not come save for the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Surely the word "world" as used in Luke 2 when Caesar Augustus sent out a decree that the world should be registered, the entire "world" is not meant. The Chinese, the Aborigines or the Polynesians of the South Sea or the African tribes in the heart of the jungles of the Dark Continent, were not included. Neither are they included in John 3:16, despite what Christian missionaries erroneously believe. Nor was the faith of the Romans "spoken of throughout the whole world," (Romans 1:8) but only throughout the known Roman world or Society, centered around the Mediterranean Sea region during the time of Paul and his missionary journeys to his fellow Israelites, preaching the gospel to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, as commanded by Jesus Christ.

Every word, in the original languages of Scripture, Hebrew and Greek, is important and put there for a reason. A good reason. If Christ declared that not even "one jot or one tittle  shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled," should we not also be concerned with entire words, their meaning, context and proper application when we study and live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God?


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Heap Coals of Fire Upon His Head

Today, being the 25th of November, I read Proverbs 25 where we find: 21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.

Paul quotes this verse in Romans 12:20.

Paul is writing to the Israelites in Rome, not everyone, everywhere. Enemies here are fellow Israelites that are, unfortunately, at odds with each other, are opposing one another.

"Thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head ... " has been an idiom quite misunderstood. Read any commentary on this subject to prove this for yourself.

In the ancient world, walled cities were built to protect the occupants of an area from attacking invaders. During an invasion, the inhabitants would seek safety within the walls of the city. 

Often, the invaders would lay siege upon the city constructing sloping ramparts of rocks and soil to reach the top of the wall to allow their armies to breach the walled-in city. Also,  the main entrance gate of the city might be rammed with a trunk of a tree - a battering ram -  by several men working in unison - to break down the formidable barrier and allow entrance. 

Those inside the city walls did not stand idly by waiting for their attackers' success. Those within the walls would shoot arrows, throw sizable rocks and debri down upon the heads of their attackers. 

They would also build fires within the walls producing coals. Those hot coals were carried to the top of the walls in metal containers. These burning coals would then be rained down up their enemies working hard to gain entrance below the wall and do those within the city harm. 

Obviously, these hot coals were an effective deterrent to such activity and did much damage to those working fervently below.

This practice is, I believe, where the idiomatic term "for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head" originated. 

The lesson here is: find a need our kinsman, but temporary enemy has, and meet it. If he is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink. By not avenging ourselves and returning the evil being done to us but instead, by doing good and not evil to those who oppose us, we use an effective means to get our enemy to stop their attack. We use good, rather than evil.

We heap coals of fire upon his head. 

Should your enemy not accept your peaceful overtures of good, rather than evil, he will then have to deal with the Lord, who has promised vengeance on your behalf; but only if you do not take vengeance yourself.

I pity the man who does not cease from his attack after having coals of fire heaped upon his head.


Friday, November 16, 2012

The Last Days of the Big LIe