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Topics - Brian Stoffregen

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Your Turn / Sanctification
« on: January 14, 2023, 04:40:19 PM »
A recent discussion turned to sanctification before it was deemed too off-topic and shut down. We can continue.

In checking my notes, I found this indication that it had been discussed before.

I think that Gary is talking about sanctification in the narrow sense, of which the Lutheran Cyclopedia has this to say: In a narrow sense, sanctification is the spiritual growth (1 Co 3:9; 9:24; Eph 4:15; Ph 3:12) that follows justification (Mt 7:16–18; Jn 3:6; Eph 2:10). By God's grace (Gl 5:22–23; Ph 2:13) a Christian cooperates in this work (2 Co 6:1; 7:1; Ph 2:12; 1 Ti 4:14; FCSD II 65–66); through the Holy Spirit's work faith is increased daily, love strengthened, and the image of God renewed (cf., e.g., Jn 14:26; 16:13–14; Ro 6:15–23; 8:15–16, 26; 14:17; 15:13; 1 Co 12:7–11; Gl 5:16–18; 2 Ptr 3:18). A believer's good works are not perfect; but sins of weakness are forgiven (Jn 15:3). Sanctification differs in the same Christian at different times (Ro 7:14–19; Gl 2:11; 5:17; 1 Jn 1: 8) .

I recently checked "sanctify, sanctification" in the New Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible. The article begins:
[ ??? ??? qadash, ??? ??? hagiaz?, ??? ??? ??? hagiasmos, ??? ??? hagniz?] [The ? are where I had written the Hebrew and Greek words.]
The NRSV uses a variety of words to render this word group into English, e.g., sanctify, consecrate, dedicate, set apart, hallow, purify, make sacred/holy, be/become holy, show/display/manifest/maintain holiness, sanctification, consecration, holiness, sanctuary. In general terms, sanctification is the act or process by which persons or objects are cleansed and/or set apart for God’s purposes. In its full canonical significance, to be sanctified is to be graciously taken up into, and set apart for active participation in the saving, reconciling purposes of God. For Christians this happens only as they become and remain part of the community of God’s people, a people who are corporately and personally being shaped by the Spirit into the image of the crucified Son, and thereby being restored into the image of the holy, life-giving, Triune God.

Reading through the nearly five pages of the NIDB article, the thought struck me as to whether a consecrated bowl, i.e., set apart for God's purpose; is consecrated in itself or when it is used in the temple in the service of God. Related to that, and discussions I remember back in seminary, was whether the consecrated bread was in itself the body of Jesus, i.e., if one stuck it in a pocket, they would be carrying a piece of Jesus with them; or if the consecration is connected to its actual use in God's service, the eating of the blessed food?

The author of the article, Robert B. Coote, stresses that the purpose of God, i.e., missio dei, is related to community. He summarizes about the OT (boldface added): … both God’s and Israel’s sanctifying actions ultimately move toward the corporate formation of a distinct and public people as a set-apart instrument for the mission Dei, i.e., God’s intent to engender life in all its fullness for Israel, and through Israel, for the nations and creation as a whole.

His summery of the NT includes (boldface added): Sanctification continues to entail being set apart from those outside the people of God for the sake of God’s ultimate life-giving purposes in the mission Dei. But both sanctification and the mission Dei have been reconfigured in light of the Christ event. Sanctification occurs when persons are forgiven, cleansed, set apart and incorporated into a holy people by means of, and in order to participate in, God’s cruciform pattern of redemptive/reconciling activity. The Spirit’s enabling of the church to participate in practices of costly, self-giving love is the means by which God continues sanctifying his people, shaping them more fully into the image of the crucified Son, “the Holy One of God.”

At least according to his article, sanctification involves being part of a community that is different from people outside of that community. Or, a phrase I had used, it's about our relationship with other people. I now add: with those within the body of Christ and those outside of the body.

Your Turn / Mary the Tower
« on: December 29, 2022, 08:04:14 PM »
Diana Butler Bass in a sermon argues first of all that the Mary and Martha in Luke 10 are not the same Mary and Martha in John 11-12. Secondly, based on research that a friend has done on papyrus 66, the oldest manuscript of John, that originally, the story had one Mary and no Martha. Looking closer at the text, one letter in ΜΑΡΙΑ was changed to form ΜΑΡΘΑ. She found other changes to introduce Martha as a second sister. Thirdly, when Tertullian writes about this passage he states that Mary confesses that Jesus is the Messiah. It's possible that his version of John didn't have Martha, who is the one who confesses in our translations (John 11:27). All this leads up to the theories: this was Mary Magdalene and "Magdalene" doesn't refer to a place, Magdala, (which wasn't the first century name of the place that is claiming that name now,) but comes from the Aramaic for Tower. Just as Jesus called Peter a rock when he made his good confession, it's possible that Jesus called Mary a tower when she made her good confession.

Further articles by Elizabeth Schrader on her studies can be found by googling her name or papyrus 66 Martha.

Your Turn / The Contexts of OT Quotes in Matthew 1-2
« on: December 20, 2022, 02:13:37 PM »
Matthew gives us five OT quotes in his first two chapters. He repurposes them to show how Jesus fulfills prophetic texts. However, the original contexts say something quite different.

Isaiah 7:14 quoted in Matthew 1:23. Isaiah is talking what King Ahaz about Aram's King Rezin and Israel's King Pekah (Is 7:1). Isaiah tells Ahaz that before this child reaches the age of reasoning, the lands of the two kings will have vanished. Matthew follows the LXX more closely than the Hebrew, but changed "she will call his name" to "they will call his name."

Micah 5:2 is quoted in Matthew 2:6. Micah is writing while Judah is in the midst of a crisis. Assyrian is named in vv. 5-6. Micah promises a king who will lead surviving Judeans to victory over the Assyrians. Matthew doesn't seem to follow either the Hebrew nor LXX. Neither have the line "among the rulers of Judah." It's omitted in Hebrew and reads "among the thousands in Judah" in LXX. The line: "who is to shepherd my people Israel" comes from 2 Samuel 5:2 and refers the LORD's promise that David will shepherd his people.

Hosea 11:1 is quoted in Matthew 2:15b. Matthew uses the verse to talk about Joseph taking the holy family to Egypt. Hosea's context is about Israel (who is called "son" in Hebrew) having been led out of Egypt. Here Matthew is closer to the Hebrew than Greek which says "I [God] called back his [Israel's] children." Hosea's context is that these people continued to worship other gods even after their God had saved them from the Egyptians.

Jeremiah 31:15-17 [38:15-17 in LXX] is quoted in Matthew 2:17-18. Jeremiah is using "Rachel," Jacob's favored wife, and grandmother of Ephraim (Gen 41:50; 46:20,) who is the personification of the wayward nation who have been exiled to Babylon. Jeremiah promises that the lost children will return home. This is quite different than the execution of children who will not return to their wailing mothers.

In Matthew 2:23 he quotes an known verse. The closest connections could be that the Hebrew nzr refers to a nazirite (see Num 6) like Samson (Judg 13;2-7) or Samuel (1 Sam 1-2); or Hebrew ntsr which could refer to the "sprout" or "shoot" of Jesse in Isaiah 11:1. The NT uses three spellings of "Nazareth." a. Ναζαρά, b. Ναζαρέθ, c. Ναζαρέτ. "Nazorean" is a closer translation of Ναζωραῖος, which is used 13 times in the NT. The LXX uses ναζείρ, ναζίρ, and ναζιραῖος for nazirite. ῥίζα is the Greek word for "root."

Your Turn / Christ's Mass?
« on: December 14, 2022, 07:59:00 PM »
It was my practice in the parish to celebrate communion on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (even though not many showed up on Christmas Day, but we often had folks from other congregations who didn't offer a worship on the 25th). I was asked to accompany the Christmas Eve service at the congregation I served (where I also accompanied the worship services). There is no communion on Christmas Eve - and there is no service on Christmas Eve, even though it's a Sunday. Part of it may be that the pastor they have called, is Canadian, and is having troubles getting a work visa to legally come and work in the U.S. The interim, had a strike and is recovering out of state. I believe that they are just doing the same Xmas Eve service that he did the year before.

It's not my place to comment on what they are doing where I formerly served. (I'll accompany the hymns they chose to the best of my ability - and use hymns they didn't choose as a prelude and postlude.) So I thought I'd see what others are doing in this forum.

Your Turn / Was Paul Aware of the Apostolic Council?
« on: November 21, 2022, 07:32:20 PM »
1. Yes, Paul knew, he was there according to Acts 15 and hears about it again in Acts 21 when Paul returned to Jerusalem and faced charges that he was teaching the Jews who live among Gentiles to reject Moses. (Quotes from the CEB)

Acts 15:2: The church at Antioch appointed Paul, Barnabas, and several others from Antioch to go up to Jerusalem to set this question before the apostles and the elders.

Acts 15:12: The entire assembly fell quiet as they listened to Barnabas and Paul describe all the signs and wonders God did among the Gentiles through their activity.

Acts 21:18 On the next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James. All of the elders were present.

While this council affirmed "On the contrary, we believe that we and they are saved in the same way, by the grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11); also imposed a few rules from Moses that are repeated three times in Acts.

Acts 15:20 avoid …                            Acts 15:29 refuse …               Acts 21:25 avoid …
the pollution associated with idols       refuse food offered to idols     avoid food offered to idols
sexual immorality                              blood                                    blood
eating meat from strangled animals    meat from strangled animals   meat from strangled animals
consuming blood                               sexual immorality                   sexual immorality

Acts 15:20 τοῦ ἀπέχεσθαι …        Acts 15:29 ἀπέχεσθαι …     Acts 21:25 φυλάσσεσθαι αὐτοὺς …
τῶν ἀλισγημάτων τῶν εἰδώλων   εἰδωλοθύτων                     τό τε εἰδωλόθυτον
καὶ τῆς πορνείας                         καὶ αἵματος                       καὶ αἷμα
καὶ τοῦ πνικτοῦ                          καὶ πνικτῶν                       καὶ πνικτὸν
καὶ τοῦ αἵματος                          καὶ πορνείας                      καὶ πορνείαν

2. Paul does not make any reference to this decision when he writes about εἰδωλόθυτον in 1 Corinthians 8(:1, 4, 7, 10) and 10(:19). He does not prohibit it.

There are some with "knowledge." They know that false gods are nothing. The food has been sacrificed to nothing, so there's nothing wrong with (probably going to the pagan temple) and eating food there.

There are some who don't have this knowledge, who believe that such food was really dedicated to a false god. They cannot eat it. To illustrate the power of forbidden foods, a former Muslim talked about the first time he ate pork. He didn't know that it was pork. An hour later he asked about that meat. They told him it was pork. His body reacted. He vomited. My wrestling coach had a similar experience when he learned that the food he was eating in Japan was slug.

Food issues involve more than just knowledge in our heads.

While Paul doesn't talk specifically about εἰδωλόθτον that could be the context in his comments "One person believes in eating everything, while the weak person eats only vegetables" (Romans 14:2).

Paul confesses: "I know and I'm convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is wrong to eat in itself. But if someone thinks something is wrong to eat, it becomes wrong for that person" (Rom 14:14). [Note that "wrong to eat" is the CEB's translation of κοινός. Generally, it refers to "what is common, ordinary," but in regards to the cultic, it is often in contrast to what is sacred, consecrated, and thus can mean "profane" or "defiled." We continue to make this distinction between the consecrated bread and wine of the sacrament, and "ordinary" bread and wine that we eat at other places.]

I believe that this verse was the background for listing four positions within the ELCA in regards to same-sex relationships. For those who consider them wrong, they are wrong. For those who consider them acceptable, they are acceptable. I also see it in the LCMS in regards to women's participation in worship. Some think its OK and women read some lessons, etc. Others do not think it's acceptable, so women do not read.

Back to the main topic. Paul does not seem to indicate any knowledge about the Jerusalem Council's decree, which in participated in, according to Acts. Rather than advising Gentile believers to refuse to eat food sacrificed to idols; he indicates that he can be acceptable for some to do so - those who have the knowledge that they are nothing. He also puts himself into that category.

He seems to have had no knowledge of the prohibition against eating food that had been sacrificed to idols; or, if he knew, he disagreed with it.

Your Turn / Whatever happened to Molech?
« on: November 07, 2022, 08:30:02 PM »
Molech game up in a discussion. I decided to do some biblical research on it.

The Hebrew consonants מלך [MLK] generally refer to "king" or "ruling as king." A feminine form is "queen".

The pointing for the gods name, Molech/Moloch occurs in Leviticus 18:21; 20:2, 3, 4, 5; 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:10; Possibly Isaiah 57:9 (it is sometimes "king" there); Jeremiah 32:35. 1 Kings 11:5; 11:33; 2 Kings 23:13 have the name "Milcom" as the name of the God of the Ammonites.

In checking the LXX, in nearly all of these verses, "Molech" (and "Milcom") disappear.

In all five texts in Leviticus, the LXX uses ἄρχων = "ruler".
In 1 Kings 11:5, 11, 33; and Jeremiah 32:35, the LXX uses βασιλεύς = "king"
Only in 2 Kings 23:10 does the LXX transliterate: Μολοχ. (It also uses this word in Amos 5:26 where the Hebrew has "king." This is used when Luke quotes the passage in Acts 7:43.)

For a flavor of what difference this makes, here is the New English Translation of the Septuagint rendering of Leviticus 20:2-5:

You shall also speak to the sons of Israel: If any of the sons of Israel or of the guests who have come in Israel - whoever gives any of his offspring to a ruler, by death let him be put to death; the nation in the land shall stone them with stones. And it is I who will set my face against that person and will utterly destroy him from his people, because he has given of his offspring to a ruler, to defile my holy things and to profane the name of those consecrated to me. But if the natives of the land should by an oversight overlook with their eyes away from that person when he gives his offspring to a ruler in order not to kill him, then I will set my face against that person and his family and will utterly destroy him from among his people, him and all who are like-minded in going out to commit fornication with the rulers.

What might this version say about the type of allegiance folks give to rulers, e.g., the president (regardless of what party)?

Or, as a meme I copied: "Over the next six days don't let the elephants and donkeys make you forget that you belong to the Lamb."

Your Turn / Why our children and grandchildren don't go to church.
« on: November 01, 2022, 12:52:35 AM »
I'm at our synod's retirees retreat. (The first one I've attended.)
Dr. David Lose is the key speaker and his general topic is: Why our children and grandchildren don't go to church - and what can we do about it. (He's in the process of writing a book on this topic - but has slowed since accepting the call as a pastor of a very large congregation.

He is the senior pastor at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN, one of the largest ELCA congregations.
Prior to that, he was president of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
Before that, he taught on the faculty of Luther Seminary for 14 years.

He's giving three presentations:
1. Exploring the Cultural Landscape in which We Minister
2. Spiritual but not Religious - How We Became a Church without Youth
3. Faith that is Caught, Not Taught - What Can We Do

My impression is that many of the retired clergy at this retreat have children and grandchildren who are not attending church.

A key reason from his first presentation is that they live in a different culture than we oldsters grew up in. He related a story from a colleague about a family who made a list of all their activities and what they were getting out of them. Attending church didn't make the cut. Making such a decision was not on my parent's radar when we were growing up. Sunday morning we went to church. In addition, to even ask, "What am I getting out of it?" wasn't a question we asked.

It should be an interesting two more days.

Your Turn / Emmett Till et. al.
« on: October 27, 2022, 07:06:54 PM »
In watching ads for the movie "Till," about the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till, I wondered, is teaching about what happened to him fall under Critical Race Theory? Is it something that should be taught in our schools about our unfortunate racial history.

If we teach about his torture and death, about about Matthew Shepherd's torturous death? His wasn't motivated by race.

Your Turn / The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« on: September 29, 2022, 06:22:22 PM »
The discussion on Luke 16:19-21 has centered on wealth throughout Scriptures. It's a topic that will occur in some later texts, too.

To begin with, I ported over this post:

Brian, above you wrote:  "In contrast to thinking that the man was wealthy because God blessed him, the common thinking in the 1st century Mediterranean world was that he was a crook."  Although Jewish beliefs were not monolithic in Jesus' day and some DID have a correct view of wealth as an undeserved gift from God and that one should give freely to the needy out of faith in the coming Messiah, the fact is that the Pharisees viewed their wealth as a sign that they had been blessed by God for their obedience - and thus their shock at the reversal in Jesus' story in Luke 16:19-31.

In a good article on this linked below it says:  "The Pharisees believed that being rich was a sign of being spiritual. The wealthier a person was, the more he was thought to be favored and blessed by God, a reward for his righteous conduct. In contrast, poor people were believed to be sinful and under God's judgment because of their unrighteous conduct ... This parable isn't about money, though Jesus tells it in response to the Pharisee's ridicule of his view on money. No, this parable is about believing in God and obeying his laws and commandments, which teaches us how we should manage his provision, including wealth, as well as other principles necessary for godly living ... The rich man was not unrighteous because he had wealth; he was unrighteous because he chose to live for himself and disobey God's instructions, ultimately leading him to reject God. Lazarus was not righteous because he was poor; he was righteous because he depended on and trusted in God for his provision."

I read no sources from which he based in his conclusions.

In his book The World of the Early Christians, Kelly writes that material wealth is highly valued in the Tanakh and that the Hebrews sought it and believed that God promised to bless them with it if they followed his commandments and that biblical writers portray God as enabling men such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon to achieve wealth and that this wealth was considered a clear sign of divine favor.

In this article, The Morality of Wealth ( Rabbi Herman Abramovitz writes:  "In short, the Torah displays no trace of animus or ambivalence on the subject of the patriarchs’ financial prowess. While they are not without their shortcomings, wealth does not diminish their moral stature. On the contrary, the Torah highlights it as a sign of God’s favor."

Also, The Talmud (Babylonian Talmud, Yuma 22b) states that one who becomes a leader/administrator involved in community affairs becomes wealthy as a divine reward for serving the public honestly and dependably.

Many commentaries I've read (by both conservative and liberal Christians) mention how SOME Jews of Jesus' day viewed wealth as a sign of God's favor and poverty as a sign that one had sinned.  I don't have time to check their sources now, but they're there.

The point is that SOME (not ALL) Jews of Jesus' day - especially the Pharisees! - viewed wealth as a reward for one's piety and poverty/illness as a curse from God because of some sin.  Obviously, not ALL wealthy people in Jesus' day were viewed as pious because some wealthy were open sinners, such as the Tax Collectors.  But the Pharisees believed that the Tax Collectors would not enter heaven whereas the Pharisees believed they HAD merited heaven by their works (including their charity!) - and their wealth was a sign of this.  Jesus was dealing with this false teaching.

We even see this false theology as early as the Book of Job where Job's friends view his negative circumstances (including his loss of wealth!) as a sign that he had sinned against God.

In any cases, there is much information out there that confirms what I've been writing.

What might surprise some; I agree with Tom's post. Especially when preaching/teaching about the rich man, I've made the same kind of comments: That wealth was a sign of God's favor.

I decided to broaden this discussions as I'm doing a deeper dive into πλούσιος, πλουτέω, πλουτίζω, and πλοῦτος in the LXX and the Hebrew words they translated.

As a word group, they occur very seldom in the Torah - and generally show that the person was blessed by God:
Gen 13:2 - Abraham was very rich (πλούσιος).
Gen 14:23 - Abraham makes sure that it was not the King of Sodom that made him rich. (πλουτίζω)
Gen 30:43 - Jacob became very, very rich (πλουτέω)
Gen 31:16 - Reference to Leban's wealth (πλοῦτος).
Ex 30:15 - Both the rich (ὁ πλουτῶν) and the poor (ὁ πενόμενος) had to pay the same amount for the census compensation tax.
Deut 33:19 - Zebulon and Issachar will reap riches of the sea (πλοῦτος).

What I've seen so far, is that Wisdom Literature isn't as positive towards wealth as these verses in Torah. Sirach 13 has quite a bit to say about the rich.

Possible thesis: the positive sense of wealth as a sign of God's blessing in the Torah becomes less prevalent in the later OT writings. (I'm still looking up and recording verses from the prophets and writings.)

« on: September 19, 2022, 08:17:27 PM »
When I try to log on to ALPB from my computer I've been getting this warning.

This server could not prove that it is; its security certificate expired 3 days ago. This may be caused by a misconfiguration or an attacker intercepting your connection. Your computer's clock is currently set to Monday, September 19, 2022. Does that look right? If not, you should correct your system's clock and then refresh this page.

I can get on without problems with my iPad, but it's more difficult to type than on the computer keyboard.

Your Turn / Third Use of the Law Is Legalism
« on: September 05, 2022, 06:46:51 PM »
The Third Use of the Law always leads to legalism regardless of how it is described.
1. These are the rules that Christians must obey.
2. These are the rules that Christians should obey.
3. These are the rules that Christians should want to obey.
4. These are the rules that the Spirit leads Christians to obey.

The one exception, which is what I was taught at seminary, and a classmate who occasionally looks in on the forum recently wrote me that what I've said is also what he remembers learning at Wartburg Theological Seminary. That understand is that the Third Use declares that the first two uses continue to apply to believers. There were those who claimed that the regenerated were free from the Law, perhaps because they believed that the Spirit within them would guide them into proper behaviors. The Formula says, "No." God continues to use the law even on the regenerated (1) to curb (and guide) behaviors for the good of society; and (2) to convict of sinful behaviors and our inner sinful nature.

However a separate 3rd use is imposed on Christians, it boils down to, if someone isn't obeying the guiding laws or doesn't want to obey them or isn't trying to obey them, or the Spirit isn't leading the believer to obey them, the conclusion must be that the disobedient or unguided person must not really be a Christian.

How do those who hold to a 3rd Use explain it in such away that it doesn't become legalism?

Your Turn / Righteous before God?
« on: August 07, 2022, 08:11:58 PM »
Luke says the following about Zechariah and Elizabeth:

Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. (Luke 1:6)

So, I wondered, Is it possible for humans to be "righteous before God?" Can we live "blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord?"

Luke also calls Simeon "righteous" (δίκαιος) (Luke 2:25) and Joseph (Arimathea) (Luke 23:50) and Cornelius (Acts 10:22).

In contrast to this, Paul states: “There is no one righteous, not even one," quoting Psalm 14:3.

One approach is to conclude that Paul and Luke had different beliefs about human abilities to do δίκαιος. 

Your Turn / Justin's "President"
« on: August 04, 2022, 01:53:14 PM »
In another discussion, Justin came up. More specifically, I became interested in the role of the "president" in Justin's First Apology. (He doesn't use "bishop" in any of his writings - at least as I have found.)

The Greek word that is translated "president," in Justin, is προΐστημι (a perf. part. form) = lit. "having set before."

BDAG defines it (with biblical references - some under both definitions):
1. to exercise a position of leadership (1 Ti 3:4f., 12; 5:17; 1 Th 5:12; Ro 12: 8)
2. to have an interest in (1 Th 5:12; Ro 12:8; Tit 3:8, 14)

It is something a bishop is to do (1 Ti 3:4f.) and deacons (1 Ti 3:12) and elders (1 Ti 5:17).
It is something all believers are to do (Tit 3:8, 14).
It may be seen as a particular gift of some people (Ro 12: 8)

The verses where it is found in Justin (all in First Apology):

3There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. 4This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it]. 5And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. (65:3-5)

3And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; 4then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. 5Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. 6And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. (67:3-6)

Except for finances being deposited with the president (although many pastors have a discretionary fund to help the needy, our function as pastors hasn't changed much. However, the emphasis of deacons (not the president?!) taking communion to those who are absent isn't practiced as much as it seemed to be back then.

Your Turn / The original sin?
« on: July 27, 2022, 02:08:35 PM »
I suggested in another discussion that the first humans sinned by desiring the fruit of the forbidden tree (Gen 3:6). The Hebrew word for "to desire," (חָמַד) is the same word (although different form) translated "to covet" in the commands against it.

While this word can be used in a good sense, such as its use in Gen 2:9 for all the desirable trees in the garden; it is usually used in negative senses - to desire what one should not have. It is clear in the context that Eve should not eat of the forbidden tree in the garden.

As Jesus points out in Matthew 5, our inner desires, when focused on things we shouldn't do, are sins.

Thus, I posit that the first sin of the humans was their desire to eat what God had forbidden. That came before the act of eating the forbidden fruit.

Interestingly (at least to me,) the LXX changes the verb, "to desire," into an adjective, "beautiful." Where the the ESV has "the tree was to be desired to make one wise," the LXX (NETS) has "it was beautiful to contemplate" [ὡραῖόν ἐστιν τοῦ κατανοῆσαι]. Could she have been obsessed with the beauty of this one tree and fruit?

If this desire for what was forbidden was part of their nature/essence before the sinful act, what might that indicate about our understanding of pre-fall life? I remember a speaker pointing out that the while the first creation account often says, "It was good," the second account (from which Gen 3 also comes,) has God saying, "It is not good" (Gen 2:18).

Your Turn / Colossians 3:15
« on: June 06, 2022, 10:17:38 PM »
I was recently studying this verse and thought it applicable to a number of the discussions here. I also think that many translations miss key nuances in these words.

καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Χριστοῦ
βραβευέτω ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν,
εἰς ἣν καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι:
καὶ εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε.

Line 1
"and the peace of Christ"

εἰρήνη is primarily a term about interpersonal relationships, e.g., not fighting with one another; rather than some sort of individual inner tranquility.

I think that this "peace" is defined in line 3:
"into which (=the peace) also you were called in one body"

Line 3 becomes a tricky one.
βραβευέτω only occurs here in the NT.
It is related to βραβεῖον which refers to a prize that is won in a contest. It is used in 1 Corinthians 9:24 and Philippians 3:14.

The verb refers to the process used by umpires, judges, officials, and others to determine who wins the prize. When umpires call a pitch a strike and batters disagree, the batters' opinion doesn't matter. The umpires' opinion is the one that matters.

What struck me about this is that it is not doctrine, or teachings, or grace, or faith, that should be the "umpire" of our hearts, but "peace." If everyone thought, "How is peace determining what I say or write?" "How does peace determining my response?" "How am I supporting the unity of the one body?" Things might be a bit different.

Line 4
Frequently this line starts a new section. βραβευέτω is a third person imperative, a form that we do not have in English. It is usually translated with "Let peace rule/control/make decisions for your heart".

This line uses a second person imperative which in English becomes a command: "Be thankful." However, we could use the same kind of grammar as in lines 1 & 2: Let you be thankful. Our response to letting peace (i.e., the unity of the body) control our hearts should result in us being thankful - perhaps for all the different parts of the body that Christ has given us.


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