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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Quick Reminder on the Use of Words in Scripture (Another "Yeshua" Reference)

Just because there are still people out there insisting that the only proper name to use for the Savior is the Anglicized name "Yeshua." The irony is not lost in me when they Anglicize the Hebrew, but I've covered that in previous entries. 

Today, I just want to remind us of how the Holy Spirit relies on us to use context and common sense. This is part of "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2:15). Some people have been put in bnadage to fear of their use of certain words.

Context matters... a lot of people get hung up on certain words, but not so the Holy Spirit.

Hebrew Texts (Old Testament)

Yeshua (יְהוֹשׁוּעַ) is used over 200 times in scripture, yet never of the Savior. The Holy Spirit never refers to the Lord Jesus Christ as יְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yeshua. It is Ok to use the Hebrew, but it is in no way "superior" or required or necessarily biblical.

Greek Texts (New Testament)

  • The Holy Spirit refers to the Savior as well as "a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew" (Acts 13:6) as Jesus (Iēsoûs, Ἰησοῦς) , or Bar-Jesus. The name is also used of one of Paul's fellow worker in Col 4:11. One thing that is unique, is calling the Lord, "The Lord Jesus Christ" or "Christ Jesus" or "Jesus Christ." "Kyrios Iēsoûs Christos." This should be our practice in any language.

  • Judas (Ἰούδας) is the name of the one who betrayed the Lord, also the name of another apostle (Zealotes), and the Lord's brother (author of Jude). In the Greek, it is also used for Judah (son of Jacob).

  • The "ecclesia" (ekklēsía, ἐκκλησία, church, assembly) is used of the worshippers of Diana (Acts 19:32), of the called out assembly of the Lord, individual local assemblies, and of Israel under Moses. We must make a difference, even among its uses in the epistles.

  • Theos (θεός) is used of the true God, the false god of the Greeks, and of "the god of this world" (Satan).

There is also the issue of pronouns. Clearly, we must interpret pronouns in context. "He," for example, could refer to everyone from the true God to Satan. A favorite evangelistic verse is based on pronouns alone:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Hail, Believer, Full of Grace

 Those of us with a Catholic upbringing (or any familiar with the prayers of the Catholic Church) will be familiar with the "Hail Mary." Known officially as "The Hail Mary," it is one of the (if not the) most offered prayers in Catholicism. In the saying of the Five-Decade Rosary, the prayer is repeated over 50 times.

 The text of the prayer is made up a first half carved from scripture (Luke 1:28) and the second half was codified by the RCC in AD1568 as one of the responses of the RCC to the Reformation. It was informally used for several centuries before that, but as with the canonization of the Apocrypha, it found itself becoming "official" in the counter-reformation.

Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
-Douay-Rheims (1899)

The Greek word here is "charitóō." Strong's defines it thusly:
to grace, that is, indue with special honor: - make accepted, be highly favoured.

"Special Honor" and "be highly favored." Wonderful! But let us not miss "make accepted."

Mounce defines it this way:

to give graciously, to show acts of kindness by freely giving; (n.) one highly favored

We note that "freely giving." This explains why such a one is "highly favored." It is not internally true. It is a bestowed honor in this context.

Thayer defines it:

  1. to make graceful charming, lovely, agreeable
  2. to peruse with grace, compass with favour
  3. to honour with blessings

Note "to MAKE" and "to HONOR." 

This Greek word, "charitóō," is used by the Holy Spirit in one other instance in the Greek text of scripture.

Ephesians 1:6

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced us in his beloved son.
-DR 1899

As with Mary, we are graced from the outside. We are the recipients of honor we do not deserve. Note in Ephesians the praise is for "the glory of his grace." Incredible! His grace surely is glorious! How blessed are we? Blessed beyond measure. Those of us in the One Body are blessed with "unsearchable riches" in the far above the heavens!

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ...

The great apostle Paul takes his place as "less than the least of all the saints." He recognizes the grace given him, an undeserved grace. A grace we all need. A grace we are dependent upon for our hope of resurrection life in the ages to come.

We turn back to Mary and look at her example as well.

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

The word translated "maidservant" here is the Greek word "doúlē." It was used to refer to a female slave or female servant. One who had no rights. Neither Mary nor Paul claimed anything before the Lord. Both understood they were highly graced, blessed beyond measure by a gracious and loving God!

That is the example we need to take from these saints of God. As saints ourselves, we should never forget all our blessings and our hope of life to come is purely by grace alone through faith alone in the death, burial, lack of decay, and resurrection of the Savior, the Holy One of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ!

As to the ending of the Catholic prayer ("pray for us now and at the hour of our death"), we must reject. It is a negation of the grace of God. These words are not found in scripture and surely Mary would have no thought of such a thing.

And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

God, Mary's Savior. Yes, we call her blessed. Such an honor to bear her own Savior and the Savior of the world!  Mary took her place as God's servant, Paul was faithful to his calling to bring the truth of the Mystery of the current dispensation to us Gentiles. Let us be thankful for their faithfulness and, along with them, give all glory to our Savior and the author of Life eternal, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The Reference in Romans 2 to Gentiles Blaspheming God's Name

For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

-Romans 2:24-25

Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord,
that my people is taken away for nought?
they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord;
and my name continually every day is blasphemed.

-Isaiah 52:5

The question arises when comparing these passages, why does Paul's quotation differ from that which is found in Isaiah? It could be as simple as Paul referencing the Septuagint (which we shall review) or it could be that he was quoting Ezekiel, or combining the prophecies.

The NIV notes: 

And when it had come to the Gentiles, where they went, the Gentiles profaned my holy name, when they said to them, ‘These are the Lord's people, but they have come out of his land.’ Then I had pity on my holy name which the house of Israel had profaned among the Gentiles to whom they went. So say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what my Lord the Lord says: «I am not acting for your sake, O house of Israel, but for the sake of my holy name which you have profaned among the nations to which you have gone. And I will sanctify my great name which has been profaned among the Gentiles, which you profaned among them, and the Gentiles will know that I am the Lord, says my Lord the Lord, when I am sanctified among them in their sight.

-Ezekiel 36:2-23 (Far Above All translation)

A noted, the Lord (as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and the Apostles tended to quote from the Septuagint since they were speaking/writing in Greek.

Here is Isaiah 52:5 in the Septuagint:

καὶ νῦν τί ὧδέ ἐστε τάδε λέγει κύριος. ὅτι ἐλήμφθη ὁ λαός μου δωρεάν, θαυμάζετε καὶ ὀλολύζετε· τάδε λέγει κύριος. δι᾿ ὑμᾶς διὰ παντὸς τὸ ὄνομά μου βλασφημεῖται ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν [éthnos].

Using a couple of online translators:

and what is this, saith the Lord. for my people have been pitied, Ye Marvel, and Marvel· thus saith the Lord. for all my name is blasphemed in this world.

And now what are you, sir? for my people have been free of charge, you admire and solve; for you, for all my name is blasphemed in the nation.

What I am looking for is "éthnos" which is there (ἔθνεσιν, the last word) and why the KJV and others seem to blend it in instead of translating it. It almost always means "gentiles" (the other nations) as used in the OT. Brenton (Brenton Septuagint Translation, 1870) uses "gentiles" which makes it far more clear.

I don't want to open any can of worms, but the Masoretic text doesn't seem to have the reference to Gentiles.

ועתה מה לי פה נאם יהוה כי לקח עמי חנם משׁלו יהילילו נאם יהוה ותמיד כל היום

And now, what -- to Me here, An affirmation of Jehovah, That taken is My people for nought? Its rulers cause howling, -- an affirmation of Jehovah, And continually all the day My name is despised. 
(Young's Literal Translation)

No reference to the gentiles. Implied, maybe, but the word is missing (as far as I can tell, I'm no Hebrew scholar). So, if you stick with the Masoretic text, Ezekiel 36:23 makes more sense. I happen to like the Septuagint (minus the Apocrypha, which has value, it's just not inspired). I would again suggest combining both prophecies. 

Here is Ezek 36:23 in several translations:

And I have sanctified My great name, That is profaned among nations (YLT)

And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen (KJV)

And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the Gentiles (Jubilee)

Verse 22 has the same wording.

I would add that since Paul wrote Romans with the re-establishment of the Kingdom in Israel and the return of the Lord "at hand," his reference to Ezek 36 would be quite appropriate as it goes on to note Israel's future cleansing from sin and the establishment of the New Covenant (which was not yet in place).

Now I want to go back to the verse that follows in Romans 2 (quoted above) and the verse that precedes:

Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. (KJV)

You who tell people not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abominate idols, do you steal sacred items? You who boast in the law, do you through your transgression of the law dishonor God? “For the name of God is blasphemed because of you among the Gentiles”, as it stands written. For circumcision is indeed of benefit if you carry out the law, but if you are a transgressor of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. (Far Above All)

Clearly Paul is addressing the people of Israel who boated and trusted in the Law and God's covenant with them. As we have noted many times, during the Book of Acts age, the Kingdom was still "at hand," Israel was still be offered "the times of refreshing" (Acts 3) and the "restoration of the Kingdom in Israel" (Acts 1) as the Lord had offered in his earthly ministry "to none, but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel" (Matt 15). This was an extension of the "gospel of the Kingdom" Matt 4) the Lord forbade his disciples to teach outside of Israel or to preach to Gentiles (Matt 10). 

Of course, by the writing of Romans, the Lord had grafted in Gentiles for the sake of making Israel jealous (thus exhibiting, again, that God was still dealing with Israel, the root, in the Acts Age). This is part of Paul's argument in the Book of Romans (as we have seen in other studies).

Allow me to turn to the Berean Expositor (Vol 44), not as an authority, but in words which express the teaching here quite well and ties it back to the Lord's teaching in Matthew:

Instead of God’s name being sanctified by the sanctified people serving the Lord and keeping the Law, rather was it being blasphemed through them. Obedience to the voice of the Lord and the keeping of His covenant with them, would have constituted them a “kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exod. xix. 5, 6), but this covenant they brake. Under the terms of the New Covenant there will yet be the fulfillment of this promise in Exodus, and during the Acts period it was anticipated:  
“Peter . . . . . to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus . . . . . ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a people for a possession, that ye should shew forth the virtues of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Pet. i. 1; ii. 9).

 During the future Millennium the promise will find its fulfillment, and then will the Lord God be sanctified in His people, and the prayer, ‘sanctified be Thy Name’, answered in its fullness. 

“For in mine holy mountain . . . . . saith the Lord God, there shall all the house of Israel . . . . . serve me in the land . . . . . and I will be sanctified in you in the sight of the nations . . . . .” (Ezek. xx. 40, 41 R.V.). “When the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their way . . . . . and I scattered them among the nations . . . . . and when they came unto the nations . . . . . they profaned my holy name . . . . . I will sanctify My great name, which hath been profaned among the nations . . . . . and the nations shall know that I am the Lord . . . . . when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes . . . . .” (Ezek. xxxvi. 17-23 R.V. See also Ezek. xxxix. 25-27, etc.). 

The close connection of the clause ‘sanctified be Thy Name’ with ‘Thy kingdom come’ and ‘Thy will be done’, suggests when the answer to this part of the prayer will be fulfilled. The will or wishes of the Father being done on earth will be when this kingdom (the subject of the Lord’s Prayer) shall have come, and at that time will the Father’s Name be sanctified. 

Note the context here recalls the "Lord's Prayer" from Matthew 6:9-13. This is all "Kingdom" truth. Imagine the conditions in Israel during the Tribulation, then read The Lord's Prayer. It makes far more sense in that context than for me to pray it in this current age (while we also recognize the general truths in it, we are careful to place it in its correct context).

Paul is arguing that it is not in being under the Law that fulfilled the covenant of Sinai, but keeping the Law. To that end, no Jew was truly innocent of the Law. They had to trust in the finished work of the Savior on Calvary (in his death, lack of decay, and resurrection) to be eligible for the blessings of the New Covenant (which is not eternal life, but a restored people into a restored Kingdom with renewed hearts and minds, Jer 31, Heb 8, etc.).

As an application, we can bring the Lord's name into disrepute if we teach (or appear to teach) that believers have any hope in our own righteousness. Just Jews in the Acts age still kept the Law (in their daily lives, Acts 15, Acts 20, etc.) as part of an earthly hope, so do we seek to lead lives of purity, love, and kindness with a heavenly blessing before us (and the related judgment of our works for rewards). That is, neither the Jew then nor the believer now should point to his own "righteousness." We preach, teach, and present Christ in all his glory as our only hope.

We could say this to believers today, "do not boast in your supposed morality as your morality is not perfect, boast only in the Lord as you seek a moral life for His sake.'

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

-Ephesians 3:8-10

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

-1 Corinthians 2:1-2

To God alone be the Glory!