Corrections to NT text

July 30, 2009

Hello, everyone.  Dan will put these corrections into the PDF copy in the next couple weeks, but for those of you who may have made your own copy, here is the list of corrections which you can add by hand, yourselves:

Corrections for NT text – July 2009

 Mt.5:25   add [opponent] after “accuser”  (twice)

Mt.8:5,8, and 13, and 12:18   add [servant] after “child”

Mt.14:31  add “t” to “hesitate” 

Mt.26:25, 26:64, and 27:11   add at end, [or, “What do you say?]

Mk.15:2   same as above

Lk.17:3  typo:  “each other”     

Lk.23:3  same as Mt. 26:25

John – all ok    

Ac.8:22  typo:  “removed”  (insert “v” and “d”)

Ac. 8:39   typo:  remove extra “r” in “later”

Rest of Acts ok

Romans ok      

I Cor.1:2  change “were” to “are” in parentheses          

I Cor. 1:30  typo:  omit “h” before “identification”

II Cor. Ok

Gal. ok

Eph. Ok          

Phil. 2:16  typo:  “c” at beginning of “continue” in [].

I and II Thess. Ok

I and II Tim. Ok

Titus ok

Philemon ok

Heb. Ok          

James ok

I Peter 2:20  should be [] instead of ()  around “demonstrates”

I Peter 3:17   insert alternate [or, It is better (for) those who are doing good, if they want God’s will, to suffer rather than doing wrong.]

II Peter ok

I and II John ok           

 Rev.6:16-18   typos:  Remove “ at beginning, Put it before “fall”.  Remove ‘ after “anger”.  The closing “ at the end is correct.

Rev 18:20   make sure “exacted” is corrected.  The “x” was omitted in the printed version.

 In NOTES:  Rev.4:6-8  close parentheses after “speculation”.

   Intro to John’s letters:  add “t” to “written”

I will still be glad for any suggestions you have.

A Note from the Translator

July 16, 2009

Well, folks, these 15 examples will have given you some idea of the possibilities of Word Study.  Refer back to the methods and resources suggested at the beginning of this series, and start digging in.

I am going to take a break from these postings for a while, as while working on them, I have discovered a few typos and corrections that need to be made in the translation.  I will be going over the whole text again, and when that’s done, we will post a corrected version.

That means this would be an excellent time for you to communicate any adjustments you might care to suggest, as well as other words that you would like to see handled.

Together, we can all hear the Lord much more clearly.

Thanks for your interest and participation.


Word Study #15 — “The Image of God”

July 16, 2009

The word eikon, “image,” is one where the Greek and English concepts are unusually parallel. Historically, it referred to “a likeness, picture, or statue; one’s reflection in a mirror; a personal description; a representation or imaginary form; a pattern, archetype, similitude or comparison.”

The whole idea of “the image of God”, of course, derives from the Genesis account of the creation. Interestingly, this event is never mentioned in the context of “image” in the New Testament, where Jesus is the only person to whom the term “image of God” is applied (II Cor.4:4 and Col.1:15), and his people are being re-created in his image (Rom.8:29, I Cor.15:49, II Cor.3:18, Col.3:10). Nevertheless, the creation account includes significant elements that deserve our attention.

When Scripture speaks of the creation of “Man”, the word used is anthropos, a generic term which refers to the species, not to gender. The term includes both aner (man) and gune (woman). It might better be translated “people” except that it occurs also in the singular. Sometimes “person” works, but not always. On Creation Morning, when the Creator spoke everything into existence, he is quoted (in the Septuagint – “LXX” — the third century BC translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek) in Gen.1:26, “Let us make man according to our image…”. “Man” uses the singular form of anthropos, therefore referring to the species (the next phrases refer to “them”). The plurals “us” and “our” with which God refers to himself have often been considered the earliest hint of the concept of the Trinity, although some have treated it as the “royal ‘we’” referring to the English custom – which is unlikely. That practice arose many centuries later.

It is not my intention here to get into a technical discussion of the Trinity. That is a game for folks who need complicated theories to enhance their egos! I simply call your attention to the fact that the initial intent was for Man (the species) to function with the unity and mutuality seen in interaction between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: varied in function and activity, but perfectly one in purpose and devotion. This idea is developed in greater detail in Citizens of the Kingdom, chapter 2. Sadly, the species — anthropos — chose not to cooperate.

The point of what God has been trying to do throughout all the ages since Creation, is to reveal himself – to, in, and through his people. The same theme appears in Jesus’ final recorded prayer for his disciples, in John 17: “that they may be one … so that the world may know …”
Please note that none of this is directed to or about individuals. No one person, however faithful, is capable of reflecting fully the image of the Triune God! We are not big enough, wise enough, nor yet sufficiently “conformed to his image.” Only by functioning as one, as our Sovereign prayed, can we begin to become what he intends, and “bear his image.”

Outside of Genesis, virtually all of the rest of the Old Testament occurrences of eikon, as well as those in Revelation, refer to idols and idolatry. Having totally missed – or rejected – the calling to reflect the image of their Creator, people created “images” of their own design, incorporating characteristics (power, ferocity, fecundity, etc.) which they hoped thereby to acquire. In Romans 1, Paul describes the tragic downward spiral that resulted. Jesus, too, described efforts to turn people back to their created purpose, having sent a long stream of messengers and prophets (see Mt.23:34 and parallels), until finally he came in person, to walk among men and create a demonstration project of his intentions.

The encounter between Jesus and his challengers (the only Synoptic use of eikon–Mt.22:20, Mk.12:16, Lk.20:24) over the payment of the Roman taxes (actually, tribute-money – the fee imposed by a conqueror upon vassal states, symbolic of their submission) is instructive. It combines several concepts of “image.” In ancient empires, as in modern times, coinage was designed bearing the “image” of a ruler – who (more overtly in those days) frequently insisted upon being worshipped as a divinity. It is partly for this reason that “money-changers” were required in the temple courts: money bearing an idolatrous image could not be used in a “holy” place. The religious potentates who accosted Jesus on that occasion should not have had such a thing as a Roman coin in their possession! It was “unclean”! Note that Jesus did not have one. This is further, seldom-noticed evidence of his opponents’ duplicity.
The Lord’s question is probing and perceptive: “Whose image is this?” The ensuing conversation reveals the cultural convention that the “image” is also a sign of ownership. It belongs to Caesar, and to his system. Let him have it.
But don’t stop there! Let God also be given what belongs to him – what bears his image – ourselves, and our very life. Is it too much of a stretch, then, to suggest that his people, the bearers of his image, are in fact the “coinage” of the Kingdom, intended to be used for the King’s purposes?

“The image of God” refers not only to our provenance and ownership, but also to our destiny! Please notice: all of these assurances and admonitions are addressed in the plural. We will “arrive” together, or not at all.
Romans 8:29: Those whom the Lord has called, are intended (or, if you prefer, “destined”) to become “conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus – who is himself (II Cor.4:4) “the image of God.” Paul repeats this designation in the letter to Colossae (1:15) “he (Jesus) is the image of the unseen God!”
Earlier, he had explained to the folks at Corinth (I Cor.15:47-49), “The first person was from the dust of the earth; the second person was from heaven. “Dust people” are like the dust-person; and heavenly people are like the one from heaven. Just as we bore the image of the “man of dust”, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.”

This is the transformation that begins when people enlist in the Kingdom, and continues until its consummation. “The one who initiated a good work among you all, will keep working on it until it’s complete at the Day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil.1:6).
It requires our cooperation – Paul frequently speaks of “putting off” the old ways and “putting on” the new, as one changes one’s clothing. Typical of the shifting responsibility is the passage in Col.3:10: “Put on the new person,” he directs – an aorist (single, snapshot action) middle (verb voice in which the subject both acts and is affected by the action) form — “which is continually being renewed” — a present (continuous) passive (the subject is acted upon by an external force or person) participle — “in understanding, after the image of the one who created it.” The choice of direction is ours; the heavy lifting is in the capable hands of our Lord and King.
“And we all, with faces that have been uncovered, reflecting the Lord’s radiance,
are being transformed (another present passive) into his image.”

Amen, Lord! Let it be so!

Word Study #14 — “Humility”

July 11, 2009

It’s certainly true that we/you’re not “perfect” — but we/you’re not scum, either!

It must cause real distress for our gracious Lord, having chosen, called and redeemed “a people” to populate and demonstrate his Kingdom, when he sees those people, instead of rejoicing in that calling and buckling down to work at it, preferring to wallow in lamentations about their self-diagnosed “unworthiness,” and proclaim themselves to be “wretches” and “worms”, instead of Kingdom citizens personally selected by the King of Kings!
It’s all over our hymnody: “such a worm as I,” “guilty, vile, and helpless we,” “false and full of sin I am,” “saved a wretch like me” … and so on and on.
But it’s NOT in the New Testament!
And as such, it is dishonoring to the Lord who has called us! Paul admonished the Colossian brethren (1:12) rather, to “Joyfully keep giving thanks to the Father, who qualified you all for a share in the inheritance of his people!” Do you really intend to call brother Paul a liar? Or when Jesus himself says of the faithful, (Rev.3:4) “They will walk with me in white, because they are worthy,” is he mistaken?
I don’t think so.
Some call it “humility;” I “humbly” submit that a better word would be “falsehood”!

Tapeinos (adj.), tapeinoo(v.), and tapeinophrosune(n.), the words usually translated “humility” or “to humble”, are indeed commended as attitudes and behavior becoming for the people of God. But the actual meaning of the words is poles apart from their usual demeaning English connotations.
Tapeinos was originally a geographical word, used of “low-lying” land, or low water in a river or pond. Astronomically, it referred to stars near the horizon; and physically, to people of short stature. From there, its usage morphed into ideas of powerlessness, poverty, weakness, or a lack of prestige. In a moral sense, it could have either good or bad connotations – probably depending upon the perspective of the speaker.
, the verb form, indicates a decrease in size or influence, fasting or abstinence of any kind, as well as humiliation or abasement.
– with the addition of a suffix taken from the verb phroneo (to have understanding, to be wise or prudent, to be sane, to know by experience, to purpose or direct one’s attention, to be in possession of one’s senses) – directed the implication to a person’s deliberate attitude of mind.

The New Testament frequently contrasts “humbled” with “exalted”. In Mary’s song, for example (Lk.1:51-53) she refers to the “putting down” of the “mighty” with the exaltation of the “lowly.” Jesus uses a similar comparison (Mt.18:4 and 23:12, and parallels in Lk.18:14 and 14:11) of “humbling oneself” — tapeinoo — leading to “exaltation” — hupsoo.
This appears to be what has led some folks to conclude that they are being asked to adopt a stance of groveling, self-deprecating worthlessness, and (proudly!) to label it “humility”! They fail to notice that
tapeinoo is used of Jesus himself (Phil.2:8), and Jesus never pretended to think he was worthless! Paul’s point is that Jesus deliberately chose to forego the privileged position that was rightfully his. He focused on Jesus’ absolute obedience to the Father’s will: simply the direct opposite of self-promotion.
A similar healthier tone is seen in the Isaiah prophecy quoted by John the Baptist (Lk.3:5). The scene is one of road construction, where hilltops are scraped off (
tapeinoo) and valleys filled (hupsoo) to create a level super-highway for the arrival of the King! This was a common practice in antiquity. It is leveling that is called-for — not degradation!

Although he did not use the word, a similar attitude is evident in Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in Mt.20:25: “You all know that the rulers of the nations (Gentiles) dominate them, and their great ones wield oppressive power over them; but it shall not be that way among you all!” and in Mt.23:12, “You are not to be called Rabbi, for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And don’t call any one on earth Father, for your one Father is in heaven. And do not be called Leaders, because your one Leader is Christ.” Jesus himself is the only superior, among his people: he has expressly forbidden human hierarchy! How sad, that these instructions are so universally ignored!

James, in his instructions about the rich and poor in the church (chapter 2) becomes quite specific in denouncing status and favoritism in the brotherhood. Paul went to great lengths in his letter to Colossae (chapter 2) to point out the “false humility” of various pagan practices, which had been touted as representing some sort of superior “spirituality” (does that sound contemporary?!). He makes the point that such exercises are only a form of showing-off, and have no value for Kingdom living.

In his farewell to the elders from Ephesus (Ac.20:13-35) Paul listed the characteristics of his service among them, which he described as “humility” — his faithful teaching, his self-support, and his honesty before them all. “Lowliness” (tapeinophrosune), an assumption of completely level standing, is listed along with gentleness, patience and forbearance, as needful for healthy relationships in the Body (Eph.4:2).

I like the motto I copied from a friend’s desk:
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
it is thinking of yourself less!”
Deliberate focus upon Kingdom affairs and interests rather than our own self-interest – obedience modeled after the Lord Jesus — the absence of posturing and pretentious behavior – are worth a lot more in the service of our King, than abject servitude and songs about “wretches” and “worms”!
The observation may be coarse and ungrammatical, but it is nevertheless gloriously true:
“God don’t make no junk!”
We are created and called to be servants – even children! — of the King, citizens of the Kingdom in which there is only one superior – the King himself – and the citizens serve him, and one another, in the
true “humility” of mutual respect, honor, and love!

Word Study #13 — “To be Perfect”

July 3, 2009

The English word “perfect” carries many different ideas.  To illustrate:  when parents enfold a newborn child in their first “group hug”, gingerly unwrap the precious bundle to marvel at the tiny fingers and toes, and exclaim, “He/she’s perfect!” — nobody argues.  When the school child proudly brings home a “perfect” paper, he is praised.  Later, with considerably less delight, they may refer to their teenager as a “perfect storm!” and still later, he may land the “perfect” job for which he is “perfectly” qualified, and find the “perfect” match with whom to start the whole process all over again.  In each case, a different idea is in view.
Ironically, it is the sense of the “perfect” (without error) schoolwork, the only concept that is not represented among the Greek words used in the New Testament, upon which people have become fixated when pontificating about the “Christian life”.  Too often, it then becomes a weapon of theological warfare, ignoring the fact that none of the seven different words that traditional versions have rendered “perfect” carries any implication of being totally free from error!

Akribos (from akriboo) refers to “accurate information, careful investigation, thorough understanding.”  Luke uses it to describe his own research (1:3), Priscilla and Aquila correcting the errors in the teaching of Apollos (Ac.18:26), and legal investigations by government officials (Ac.23:15, 23:20, and 24:22).

Artios — “suitable, a perfect example of its kind, full grown, mature” — is used only once in the New Testament, (II Tim.3:17), of the maturity Paul sets before Timothy as a goal.

Epiteleo — “to pay in full, to discharge one’s duty, to complete, finish or accomplish a task” — is translated “perfect” only twice (II Cor.7:1 and Gal.3:3). In other contexts, the translations are more in accord with its definitions, especially those referring to the completing of a task (Rom.15:28, II Cor.8:6 and 8, and Phil.1:6).

Katartizo — “to adjust, put in order, restore, mend, furnish, equip, prepare,” involves the process of teaching, an important component of maturity.  It is even used classically of the setting of a broken or disjointed limb!  Jesus uses it of a disciple “becoming like his teacher” (Lk.6:40); Paul includes it in his instructions for the growth of the Body in Corinth (I Cor.1:10, II Cor.13:11) and his intention to add to his teaching in Thessalonica (I Thess.3:10).  God himself is doing the teaching in Heb.13:21 and I Pet.5:10:  “on-the-job training” of the very best kind!

By far the most common among the references are two related words:
teleios (adj.) — “complete, entire, whole; fully constituted, valid; full-grown, married; accomplished, trained, qualified; absolute or final, serious or dangerous (0f illness); and unblemished (of an animal sacrifice),      and
teleioo (v.) — to make perfect, complete, or accomplish; to execute or make valid a legal document; to be successful; to reach maturity (fruit, animals, or people); to be fulfilled or brought to consummation (a prophecy or promise.)
I have tentatively sorted the passages where these latter words appear into three groups on the strength of these definitions (definitely open to challenge!):  those that refer to a task or purpose being finished or accomplished; those that refer to maturity; and those that indicate completeness, validity, or fulfillment.

Jesus, for example, referred to “finishing” the particular healing work in which he was involved when he was warned to leave town because of Herod’s plotting (Lk.13:32).  In Phil.3:12, Paul speaks of God’s work in him not being yet “finished”.  James 1:4 refers to wisdom “finishing” its work in shaping God’s people, and Hebrews 9:11 to the better tabernacle than the elaborate tent in the desert.  In most of these, the word “complete would have worked equally well.

Frequently, “complete” is contrasted with “partial” or “in progress,” and refers to a goal that is still before us — James 2:22 refers to faithfulness being “made complete” by action; I Jn.4:17 to love being “made complete”; and Heb.11:40 to the faithful folks of the past being “made complete” only together with the followers of Jesus.  In his prayer (Jn.17:23) Jesus asks that his disciples be “made complete” in unity with each other, with himself, and with the Father.  And of course, there is the most familiar statement, in I Cor.3:10, that when all is “complete,” the partial will no longer be needed.

The greater portion of the references refer to maturity.  Paul frequently admonished his readers to “grow up” — a constant, lifetime assignment for all of us.  Clearly, that is the sense of Jesus’ statement in Mt.5:48, in the context of his teaching that the attitudes and behavior of his disciples are expected to be patterned after the Father, rather than the local culture, as a child learns to mimic his adult role models.  Paul, in Eph.4:13, Phil.3:15, and Col.1:28 and 4:12, incorporates the same idea of working/growing toward maturity, and John (I Jn.4:18) highlights the result of that maturing process: fear being replaced by a total confidence in the love of God.
Hebrews 2:10 and 5:9 suggest that maturity may have been a process, even for Jesus himself, as our forerunner.  This may also include the sense of establishing his qualifications for the work of conforming us to his own image.  Please note, to think of Jesus “maturing” is NOT to suggest that he was ever less than the earthly manifestation of our holy God.  But also remember that he did deign to be born and reared as a person.  I refuse to engage in the argument as to whether he ever had a normal childhood spat with his brothers.  To insist that he could not, however, is to miss the meaning of teleios altogether, as well as to deny his total identification with our human condition.  I do think this indicates that in our quest for the maturity to which we are called, we need not categorize immaturity as “sinful”, wrong, or evil.  It’s simply what a dear friend used to call “a No Parking zone.”

Note also that maturity is never represented as an instantaneous achievement. “Mature” looks different at age 10 — or 20 — or 40– or 70, physically, socially, and spiritually.  Jesus, and the faithful of historic times, are the only ones for whom it is spoken of as an accomplished fact.
For the rest of us, “Nobody’s perfect” must describe a goal, not an excuse:  a motivation, not a lame apology.  It is our privilege to declare with brother Paul,
“Not that I’ve already arrived, or already have been made complete (teleios) — but I’m striving intensely to take possession (of that for which) I was taken-possession-of by Christ Jesus.” (Phil.3:12), and later (v.15) “Anyone who is mature (teleios) must have this mind-set.”
Keep on keeping on!