January 17, 2014

Good morning, everyone —

This is just to let you all know that I haven’t forgotten you!
The Two Hundred Word Studies have finally been compiled into one document.  Now you just have to wait till Dan has a chance to do the new index with his better software, and it will be available.

As I was working, I found (surprise, surprise!) a number of corrections that needed to be made in the original studies.  They are fixed in the new document, but  I realized that most of you will be still using the original postings. So I have begun making the same corrections in the old ones.  So far, I have done fifty.  This will take a while, so I will let you know as they are finished.  The changes are not major: a few places where I neglected to italicize the Greek words, a number of typos, and some changes in words, phrasing, or emphasis — but I want you to have the best information that I can provide.

Meanwhile, please send me a note if there are other studies you would like to see, or if there are things you would like to add to the existing ones.  There are a lot of folks using the site now — it is about to pass 52,000 uses, and the site has not counted all the individual people.  Even more gratifying is the reach to 165 countries!  Won’t it be great when we can all meet!

Thanks for your continued interest.  May we help each other to greater faithfulness!


The new revision

September 19, 2013

Hello, friends —

As you have seen, Dan has posted the latest PNT revision for your free download.  Some of the corrections you have already seen, in the updates we did the last couple years;  but there are quite a few more.  Notably, I have italicized more of the plural uses of “you” that were previously missed.  This is an important feature to note, as it materially affects the mutuality that is endemic to Jesus’ message.  I have also offered a number of alternate readings — indicated by brackets [ ] — which I consider to be a matter of linguistic ethics, since they are equally valid interpretations of the vocabulary and grammar.
There are no major changes — a few typos — yes, we are still finding those — but if you have already made yourself a copy, it is still reasonably reliable.

I cannot tell you how much work and patience it has taken for Dan to shepherd me through these revisions.  It is amazing — and my gratitude knows no bounds.  And not just the technological expertise:  to have a son be this much concerned to enable his mom’s “handing in the assignment” made by the Lord more than 50 years ago, is an unspeakably precious gift.  To all you young folks out there :  it is a beautiful example for you, and can give the “old folks” incredible hope and delight!

Unless something else intervenes, I  am going to be taking a break from the word studies for a bit now, since they have reached 200 entries, and working at assembling them in a unit as we did previously.  This is a good time for you to express an opinion:  would you rather have them in two sets of 100, or all together?  And are there aspects that should be included, which I have neglected?

When that is done, I hope to hit the more challenging task of indexing the Greek words.  But I will have to learn some different computer operations for that, so don’t hold your breath!

Meanwhile, please do send your observations about any errors or oversights that should be included in the word study compilations.

And thanks for your participation.  This work has now passed 45,000 uses, in 156 countries!  What fun it will be to meet you all when the Lord brings us all together!

The Latest Revision of the PNT is here!

September 17, 2013

After a painstaking process of revision and reformatting, I’m happy to announce that the Fourth Digital Edition of the Pioneers’ New Testament is available for download!  Mom will append some notes on what’s actually new with this version, but in the meantime, you can get it here:

Download the Pioneers’ New Testament, 4th Digital Edition

Word Study #200 — Of Stewards and Stewardship

August 29, 2013

It’s the fall of the year as I am writing this: the time when “churches” of nearly every stripe gear up for their annual “stewardship campaigns.” The title, I am convinced, is chosen to give a slightly more “sanctified” flavor to plain-old, manipulative fund-raising: but nobody is really fooled. They all know it takes “big bucks” to run big institutions, and to pay hired staff to run big programs, so somehow the “country-club dues” need to masquerade as one’s “spiritual stewardship obligation.” Dust off the much-misinterpreted parables of “talents” and such, along with the tear-jerking “widow’s mite”, and here we go again!

Is that “laying it on too thick”? Maybe – but I don’t think so. None of the three word-groups referring to “stewardship” in the New Testament carry any implication whatever of funding salaries, real estate, or programs.

The most common word group consists of oikonomos – a person – (L/S: one who manages a household, the steward of an estate, manager, administrator, the title of a state financial officer, housekeeper, housewife); oikonomia – the job – (L/S: the management of a household, thrift, direction, regulation, arrangement, government proceedings, transaction, legal contract; Thayer: management or oversight of another’s property; Bauer: being entrusted with a commission); and oikonomeo – the verb – (L/S: to order, regulate, manage, administer, dispense, or handle). These are all connected with oikos (L/S: house, dwelling, home; household goods or substance, members of a household or a ruling family; estate, inheritance). Oikodomeo ( building, edification) is another word entirely (note the insertion of the “d”), and is not connected. Sorry, folks: a “building fund” doesn’t qualify!

Only Luke, among the gospel writers, uses this term, once in a positive sense (12:42) and once in a negative (16:1-8 – a very puzzling parable which I will not attempt to exegete), both concerning individuals entrusted with the management of someone else’s property.
Most of the usage in the epistles concerns the faithful performance of responsibility assigned by the Lord. Paul speaks of “stewardship” of “the mystery of God” (see #57), which he defines as the inclusion of both Jew and Gentile into one Body (I Cor.4:1, and Eph.3:9, where it was incorrectly rendered “fellowship”); of “the grace of God” (#60) (Eph.3:2, incorrectly translated “dispensation”, and also used by Peter in I Pet.4:10); of “the gospel” (#67) (I Cor.9:17, also incorrectly rendered “dispensation”), and simply “of God” (Col.1:25, Tit.1:7).
Each of these references the careful, accurate and responsible handling of the message with which he / they/ we are entrusted, as well as its faithful embodiment.
Eph.1:10 looks forward to the final consummation when everything in heaven and earth finally acknowledges its rightful Owner and Lord.
In Rom.16:23, the same word is used as the title of Erastus, the city treasurer.
In Gal.4:2, it refers to the guardian of a minor child, in combination with the next word.

The second cluster of words comprises primarily references to permission granted by a superior authority, whether spiritual or secular. It includes epitropos – the person – (L/S: one to whom the charge of anything is entrusted; a steward, trustee or administrator; the executor of an estate; a governor, viceroy, guardian or protector); epitrope – the task – L/S:an arbiter in a lawsuit; the office of a Roman procurator; guardianship, stewardship); and epitrepo – the verb – (L/S: to bequeath, commit, or entrust; to refer a legal issue; to permit, allow, or command). Although like the former group, they involve the management of people or property not one’s own, the most common New Testament usage is of simple permission. Traditional translators often used the old English “suffer” (10x) in the sense of “allow” (Mt.8:21,31; 19:8; Lk.8:32, 9:59; Mk.10:4; Ac.21:39; I Tim.2:12), as well as other expressions of the granting of a request (Mt.5:13, Jn.19:38; Ac.21:40, 26:1,12; 27:3, 28:16) or a hope for the Lord’s permission (Lk.9:61, I Cor.14:34, 16:7, Heb.6:3). Individuals are designated with specific assignments in Mt.20:8, Lk.8:3, and Gal.4:2. Only in the Matthew and Luke references just cited is the word “steward” traditionally used, but the original word is the same.

The function (performing an assigned task) is also present in the usage of huperetes (L/S: a servant or attendant, a helper in any work, an assistant, a petty officer). Trench calls this a military word, and connects it to diakonos in a civilian context (see #79) , often rendered “minister”, which is an occasional translation of huperetes as well. In the New Testament, it is applied to low-level government officials such as guards (Mt.5:25, 26:58; Mk.14:54,65; Jn.7:32,45,46; 18:3,12,18, 22; 19:6, Ac.5:22,26); to other individuals commissioned to any sort of service (Lk.1:2, 4:20; Ac.13:5, 26:16) and in Jesus’ statement (Jn.18:36) contrasting his “servants” with the forces of a military “king”.

In view of this, what, then, is the proper understanding of “stewardship” or “stewards”?
In every case, the word refers to responsibility conferred by a superior: delegated authority over people or property not one’s own.
That responsibility can be revoked (Lk.12,16), if abused or otherwise not faithfully handled.
It definitely requires an accounting, as illustrated in parables that do not specifically use the word: Mt.21:33-41, Mk.12:2-9, Lk.20:9-16; Mt.25:2-25, Lk.19:12-25.

It is entirely in order that we should regularly help each other to examine the faithfulness of our handling (“stewardship”) of all that has been entrusted to us, taking meticulous care that it is administered according to the orders of the One to whom “everything / everyone in heaven and earth belongs”!

Whether or not that includes any particular fund-raising campaign, is a question that needs to be asked – and answered – frequently , very seriously, and with extreme caution.

“Just as each one has received a spiritual gift [empowerment], serve each other with it, as good trustees [stewards] of the many-faceted grace of God!” (I Pet.4:10) remembering that
(I Cor.4:2) “It is required [expected] of caretakers [stewards] that a person be found faithful!”


Word Study #199 — Search, Study, Read

August 19, 2013

In the course of the previous study three words that would seem to the reader of English somewhat synonymous with “seeking” were conspicuous by their absence! Perhaps they may be regarded as either the methodology or the direction of the “seeking”, or even its result, since earnest seeking after the Lord and his ways is never finished. In any case, they are worthy of our attention.
Search” appears in the New Testament much more rarely than “seek”, although it encompasses four separate Greek words. In none of these do we find any implication of searching for an object, person, or condition of life, as was common with zeteo (“seek”) , except for the single incident (Mt.2:8) where Herod commanded the Magi to “search” (exetazo)for the child Jesus, and report back to him. Even there, the primary concern was for information.

The predominant word, ereunao, (L/S: to inquire or search, to examine into a question, or to perform exploratory surgery) appears 6x, and is exclusively rendered “search”. Three of those involve careful perusal of the Scriptures (Jn.5:32, 7:52; I Pet.1:11), which at that time would of necessity have been the LXX; and three refer to God being fully apprised of the condition of people’s “hearts” [motivations] (Rom.8:27, I Cor.2:10, Rv.2:23). Peter uses the intensified prefixed form, exereunao, in I Pet.1:10, of the urgency of the prophets’ investigations – the only New Testament use of that word.
Exetazo, (L/S: to scrutinize, examine closely, to question a person intently, or approve by test), in addition to the Mt.2 reference above, appears with two other translations: Jn.21:12 when the disciples “did not dare to ask Jesus who he was”, and Mt.10:11 where they were instructed to inquire for a worthy person with whom to stay, on their journeys.
The fourth word, anakrino, is rendered “search” only once (Ac.17:11), of the Bereans’ “searching the Scriptures” to authenticate Paul’s message. L/S lists “examine closely, interrogate (legally), to examine one’s qualifications for a position, to dispute or wrangle” as alternatives. Most of the New Testament uses refer to courtroom examinations (Lk.23:!4, Ac.4:9, 12:19, 24:8, 28:18) or other sorts of evaluation (I Cor.2:15, 4:3,4; 9:3, 10:25,27; 14:24).

The idea of “searching the Scriptures”, quite common in the usage outlined above, leads logically to the idea of study. Oddly, that (English) word only appears twice in the New Testament, each time from a different Greek source. This seems strange, until one realizes that most “study” in ancient times was done as the “disciple” of a teacher (see #51), and not independently. Notice the comment of observers in Jn.7:15, when they wondered how Jesus came by his expertise, “never having [studied] been a disciple.” The words rendered “study” by traditional translators both incorporate a sense of diligent effort, not simply “book-learning”.
Spoudazo (L/S: to be busy, eager, in haste or hurry; to pay serious attention; to work hard, to study, lecture, or teach), is rendered “study” only in II Tim.2:15. All its other appearances simply imply serious, diligent effort (Gal.2:10, Eph.4:3, I Thes.2:17, II Tim.4:9,21; Tit.3:12, Heb.4:11, II Pet.1:15, 3:14).
Philotimeomai (L/S: to be ambitious, to aspire, to strive eagerly, – or literally, to seek after honor), appears only three times: II Cor.5:9 traditionally translated “labor”, referring to Paul’s aspiration to be pleasing to God; Rom.15:20, to his “striving” to preach in places where the gospel had not previously been carried; and I Thes.4:11 where it was rendered “study”, but where if one considers the entire thought in vv.11 and 12, it plainly advocated pursuing the goal of a peaceful life.

“Reading”, of course, for most of us, is an integral part of “study.” It represents only a single Greek word: the verb anaginosko (33x) and the noun anagnosis (3x). Early in its history, before Homer, it signified “to know for certain, to recognize, to persuade or convince”, but as literacy became more widespread, there was a shift to “recognizing written characters,” and thence to “read, or read aloud”

While “scribes” were customarily employed for legal issues or documents (rather like a modern notary), or, in the case of the Jewish culture, for sifting and interpreting the intricacies of their Law, basic literacy was not rare in the first century Roman world. Luke’s notation that Jesus went into the synagogue and “stood up to read” (Lk.4:16) implies that this was customary behavior. There was no objection until he started to preach! It was his message that bothered them. See also the invitation extended to Paul and Barnabas (Ac.13:15) in Antioch.

Jesus’ challenge to the scribes who opposed him, “Haven’t you read …..?” (Mt.12:3, and parallels Mk.2:25 and Lk.6:3; Mt.12:5, 19:4, 21:16; Mt.21:43 and parallel Mk.12:10; Mt.22:31 and parallel Mk.12:26; Mt.24:15 and parallel Mk.13:14), and to the young lawyer (Lk.10:26) did not assume a negative reply. Of course they had read the accounts to which Jesus referred! They prided themselves on their “knowledge of the Law”, had only scorn for those with less expertise (Jn.7:49), and delighted in debating all of its many irrelevant details. I am sure you have encountered their contemporary “cousins” who can quote “Bible verses” by the yard – if not the mile! – and offer “proof-texts for the most intricate of “doctrines” (see #47), but remain not only blissfully unaware of Jesus’ own standard of “judgment” (clearly outlined in Matt.25!), but scornful of folks who consider it vital to faithfulness! No, “having read” does not necessarily assume understanding!
With similar attitudes, passersby read the sign Pilate had attached to the cross, and complained about its wording! (Jn.19:20)
There is ample evidence of the custom of public reading from the Law and the prophets in a synagogue meeting (Ac.13:27, 15:21, and II Cor,3:14,15). Paul asserts that, just as it was for the scribes who argued with Jesus, familiarity should have enabled them to recognize him: but something akin to Moses’ use of a veil (see Citizens of the Kingdom, chapter 8) prevented their understanding.
Philip (Ac.8:28-32) “heard” the Ethiopian traveler reading from Isaiah’s prophecy, and quickly recognized what he was reading. Many newly literate people find it easier, especially in a foreign language, to understand what they are reading if they read it aloud.
To Timothy, Paul sent instructions for “reading, exhortation, and teaching” to be emphasized among the brethren (I Tim.4:13).
He also directed that his own letters be read in the churches, and passed around to neighboring groups (II Cor.1:13, Eph.3:4, Col.4:16, I Thes.5:27).
John strikes a similar theme in Rv.1:3.
Perhaps these are adaptations from the Jewish synagogue practice.
The writing and reading of letters was the normal method of communication for many centuries, before our electronic age! See Ac.15:31. They provided a vital link, for instruction, for maintaining affectionate contact (II Cor.3:2) with scattered brethren, and even served as official communications (Ac.23:34).

So by all means, let those who “seek” for the Lord and his ways include “searching”, “study”, and “reading” in their “seeking” , as well as the concerted efforts described in the studies of discipleship (#51) and “following instructions” (#55).
Be aware of the context of all these admonitions, which are almost uniformly directed to a group of seekers after faithfulness. Be aware also that the shared discernment of a faithful brotherhood is vital to the faithful results of any search.
May we help each other toward that end!

Word Study #198 — What, or Whom, do you Seek?

August 14, 2013

The answer to this question reveals a lot about a person. Although it represents only one single Greek word in the New Testament, zeteo and three prefixed forms, its 98 appearances encompass quite a variety of intensity – from casually “looking for” a person or an object (Mk.1:37, 3:32), or, more urgently, parents looking for a lost child (Lk.2:45,48,49) , to God “seeking” (Jn.4:22) for honest and earnest worshipers! There is an even greater variety of objects mentioned: a “home” sought by an evil spirit (Mt.12:43), material security (Lk.12:29), Judas’ efforts to betray Jesus (Mk.14:11), the rulers’ wish to kill him (Jn.5:16,18), the Lord himself (Ac.17:27), personal profit (I Cor.10:33), glory and honor and immortality (Rom.2:7), and many more. Clearly identifiable lexical clues would be helpful in discerning both the urgency of the “seeking” and its positive or negative connotations, but this is one of those aggravating situations where there are none, and we have only the contexts from which to make a call.

For example, on numerous occasions when great crowds were “seeking” for Jesus (Mk.1:37, Lk.4:32, Jn.1:38, 6:24,26; 7:11, 34,36; 8:21, 11:56, 13:33) most of them were probably just curious. However, exactly the same word is used of those who were eagerly “seeking” healing for themselves or others (Lk.5:18, 6:19), the scribes who were “seeking”to trap him in technicalities of disputes about their “law” (Mk.14:1, Lk.11:54), the mob “seeking” to arrest him (Mt.21:46, Mk.12:12, Lk.20:19, Jn.10:39), and the authorities “seeking” an excuse to kill him (Lk.22:2, Jn.5:16, 7:1, 25, 30; I:37,40: 11:8), Judas’ betrayal (Mt.26:16, Mk.14:11, Lk.22:6), and Pilate’s half-hearted effort to release him (Jn.19:12)!

Much more significant – and amazing! – is Jesus’ statement in Jn.4:23, noted above, that the Father himself is also “seeking”, for people to worship him in spirit and in truth, and representing himself, in the Lk.15 parables, as determinedly “seeking” for lost or wandering individuals (also Lk.19:10, Mt.18:12). This is no casual curiosity! It is an effort so determined as to involve willingness to pay an incredibly high price for its realization!

A similar attitude is reflected in the parables of the merchant “seeking” fine pearls (Mt.13:45) and, although the word is not used there, the finder of buried treasure (v.44), which support Jesus’ admonition to “seek the Kingdom of God and his justice” (Mt.6:33, Lk.12:31) above all else. Here, he introduces a scene of sharp contrast, as he describes the “seeking” of the “nations/Gentiles” [people outside the disciple group] for the necessities (or luxuries) of life (Lk.12:22-30, Mt.6:25-32), a contrast repeated in the several statements regarding the “saving” and “losing” of one’s earthly life and possessions (Lk.17:33, Jn.5:30,44). We see the same idea with different vocabulary in Mt.16:25, 10:38, Jn.12:25. In each of these cases, the “seeking” appears to imply the primary focus of one’s life and efforts.

Nevertheless, it is not appropriate to assume that every appearance of zeteo carries such weight. The listings in L/S also include “to inquire, investigate, or examine; to seek to do something; to require or demand; to conduct a judicial inquiry”, none of which would automatically involve a strong degree of personal commitment. These senses also occur in the New Testament. When Andrew and his companion “followed” Jesus home from John the Baptist’s meeting, they probably had nothing very monumental in mind (Jn.1:38), only asking “where are you staying?”. Jesus used zeteo regarding a discussion in which several disciples were trying to figure out what he meant (Jn.16:19). The Lord instructed Ananias to “inquire” for Paul in Damascus (Ac.9:11), and Cornelius’ emissaries to “inquire” for Peter in Joppa (Ac.10:19,21). The same word is used of Elymas’ opposition to Paul (Ac.13:8), and his later search for a guide (13:11) after losing his sight, of the decision by Paul’s party to sail for Macedonia (Ac.16:10), and the sailors’ efforts to abandon ship during the storm (Ac.27:30).
Zeteo carries the sense of “require or demand” in the Jews’ repeated demands for a “sign” (Mt.16:4, Mk.8:11, Lk.11:16), in Jesus’ statement that more will be required of those to whom much has been entrusted (Lk.12:48), and his warning that responsibility for all the unjust persecution of God’s messengers (Lk.11:50-51) would be charged against those who opposed him.

Parallel uses of zeteo can be found in the epistles. Reinforcing his Areopagos sermon (Ac.17:27) comment that all people everywhere were expected to “seek the Lord”, Paul returns to that theme in Rom.10:20, supplementing it with the admonition to “seek for glory and honor and immortality” (Rom.2:7), “seek to excel for the edifying of the Body” (I Cor.14:12), and “seek those things that are above, where Christ is”(Col.3:1). Perhaps more significantly, he cautions against selfish “seeking” (I Cor10:24, 13:5, Phil.2:21), and holds up his own behavior as an example (I Cor.10:33, II Cor.12:14, Gal.1:10, I Thes.2:6).

Peter, in his turn, urges his readers to “seek peace, and pursue it!” (I Pet.3:11), pairing zeteo with dioko, which is used of relentless pursuit or persecution – certainly not a casual affair! Earlier, Peter had used the prefixed (emphatic) forms, ekzeteo and epizeteo, to describe the urgent “seeking” of the ancient prophets to understand about Jesus’ coming (I Pet.1:10,11). He returns to the unprefixed zeteo (5:8) to describe the devil “seeking” for people to “devour” – but that certainly does not represent a reduction in intensity!

The writer to the Hebrews also makes more use of the prefixed forms: ekzeteo in 11:6 and 12:17, and epizeteo in 11:14 and 13:14, all of which carry a flavor of urgent effort. Several of these are supplemented with a form of spoudazo (to be eager, in haste, or serious; to be earnest, to study, lecture or teach, to pursue zealously), with which we will deal in more detail in the next study.

There is certainly a tone of desperation present in Rv..9:6, which was somewhat prefigured in Jn.7:34,36; 8:21, 13:33.

Much harder to characterize are Jesus’ enigmatic statements to his challengers in Jn.7:18, 19, 20, 25, 30 and 8:50. Those folks simply didn’t “get it”, and, I’m afraid, neither do we. This much is certain: his life on earth was not focused upon himself and his own “glory” (see #74). That seems to have been a concern that he willingly left in the Father’s hands (Jn.17). Perhaps we should simply follow his example! Very likely, his earlier statement (5:30), “I seek not my own will”, is closely connected, as is his critique of those who bask in the acclaim of their fellows, but “don’t seek honor from God!” (5:44).

Finally, in every account of the resurrection, the same theme precedes the glorious news: either “I know you’re looking for Jesus” (Mt.28:5) or “What/who are you looking for?” (Mk.16:6,Lk.24:5, Jn.20:15.) The faithful women were only “seeking”/expecting to pay their final respects to the body of one they had loved. Instead, they were entrusted with the most glorious message this poor world had ever received!
For the loving and faithful, what you “seek” is not always what you “find”! It’s much better!

 May all of our “seeking” be born of loving faithfulness, and yield that message of joy!

Word Study #197 — Unity: Being/becoming One

July 25, 2013

In view of all the attention given in the New Testament to the idea of the mutual dependence and community life of the citizens of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus, it would be reasonable to assume that “unity” would be a common subject of discussion. I expect that many of you will be as surprised as I to realize that the word “unity” itself occurs only twice in the entire New Testament. Maybe if you’re busy “doing it” you don’t spend as much time “talking about it”!
Henotes – (L/S) “union, unity”, a common word in the mathematical works of Aristotle and Pythagoras and the philosophical writings of Epicurus, is used only by Paul, and only in Eph.4:3 of “the unity of the Spirit” and Eph.4:13 of “the unity of the faith [faithfulness]”. These are indeed critical to the life and health of the brotherhood, whose members are urged to work at maintaining the unity that the Spirit is in the process of building. Note that people are not to do the “creating”. No one but the Lord can do that. We are charged only with the maintenance work.
The building process is described in the immediately following paragraphs, and “faithfulness” is presented as both its source and its goal in vv.13-16. Both “the Spirit” and “faithfulness” are cast in the genitive case, of which one of the primary uses is to identify the source or origin of the principal noun (“unity”, in this case). This use of the genitive is second only to possession, which would not make any sense here. These two, together, are essential to genuine unity.

For clarification of specifics, however, we must turn to other vocabulary. In contrast to henotes, the word “one” (heis, mia, hen), which is so prominent in Jesus’ final recorded prayer for his followers in Jn.17, occurs in the New Testament (with varying implications) more than 300 times! The vast majority of these are simply counting (229x), or referring to “someone, a certain – , other, some, another, or simply a/an” (about 50x). It is the outliers with which we are concerned.

Jesus had shocked people earlier, already (Jn.10:30), with the simple statement, “The Father and I are one.” It nearly got him stoned! (v.31). His opponents correctly discerned – but did not understand or accept – the import of his words. Some of the implications of that statement are explored in chapter 2 of Citizens of the Kingdom. The union of Father and Son was so complete that the words, actions, goals, and even personalities of Jesus and the Father were virtually inseparable. And this relationship is the pattern (Jn.17:11) for the object of Jesus’ prayer “that they may be one, as we are”! The same phrase is repeated in Jn.17:21,22,23. Notice, please, that this is not a list of instructions to the disciples! Mere people could never possibly achieve it! It is a prayer for the sovereign action of God, which began to be answered with the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, and has been in process ever since. Ac.4:32 describes the “multitude” being “of one heart and one life [identity, “soul”]”. Paul’s later descriptions of the Body of Christ (see #84, and chapter 7 of Citizens) detail some of the ways this unity found expression. Consult Ac.2:42-47, 4:32-37; Rom.12:4,5; I Cor.10:17, 12 (whole chapter); Gal.3:28, Eph. 2 and 4; Col.3:15.

Second in frequency of New Testament usage is the figure, also initiated by Jesus, in Mt.19:5,6 and Mk.10:8,9, of the union of husband and wife. The idea is repeated in I Cor.6:16,17 and Eph.5:31. This, too, is represented as an act of God – not the whim, desire, custom, or law of people. Only God is able to “out of two create one”, since in the beginning it was he who created “out of one, two” (Gen.2).

Another outstanding aspect is seen in the “breaking down of walls” (Eph.2:14) – the bringing together of folks whose former alienation certainly equaled that of any modern foes, and forming them into a single unit, demonstrating the power and glory of their Lord (Rom.15:6-13, Gal.3:28, Eph.2:13-17, Col.3:12-15). A similar admonition to the folks at Philippi (1:27, 2:2), while not as specifically addressing opposing groups, advocates the same mutuality. (Refer again to #84).

Finally, there are clues to be found in the cases, many of which occur only in Christian writings, where the preposition sun– – “with, together, belonging to, with the help of, in company with” – is prefixed to other words. It is significant that Christian writers needed essentially to create a whole new vocabulary since their Greco-Roman culture was as individualistic as ours, and the principles of mutuality were just as foreign in the first century as they are in the twenty-first! Here is a partial list, with relevant references and lexical information. (Note: the substitution of gamma (g), mu (m), or sigma (s) for the nu (n) in “sun-” , as well as its occasional omission, is due to the written accommodation to phonetic issues, a common practice in the Greek language. It does not change the meaning.)
sugkleronomos – “joint heir, neighbor, one having adjoining property” – Rom.8:7, Heb.11:9 with Christ, Eph.3:6, I Pet.3:7 with each other
sugkoinoneo – “to have a joint share, to take part in, to be in partnership, to have fellowship with” – I Cor.9:23, Phil.4:14, Eph.5:11, Rv.1:9, 18:4. Note that two of these warn against unwholesome partnerships
suzeugnumi – “yoked together, paired, closely united. Commonly refers to marriage.” Used only twice: Mt.19:6, Mk.10:9
sumbibazo – “to be knit together, brought together, reconciled, or taught”. Referring to people: Col.2:2, 19; Eph.4:16. Referring to instructions: Ac.16:10, I Cor.2:16, Ac.9:22
summathetes – “fellow disciple, schoolmate”. Only used in Jn.11:16
sumphoneo – “to fit in or agree with, to fit together, as cut stones in a building, to harmonize”. Mt.18:19, 20:2,13; Lk.5:36, Ac.5:9, 15:15
sumpsuchos – “of one mind, at unity”. Used only once: Phil.2:2
sunagonizomai – “to struggle together” . Used only once: Rom.15:30, of urgent prayer
sunathleo – “to struggle together, to fight side by side, to practice”. Phil.1:27, 4:3, of working together in the interest of the kingdom
sunarmologeo – “to be fitted together like the blocks of a pyramid”. Eph,2:21, 4:16
sunoikodomeo – “to be built up together” . Only use: Eph.2:22
sussomos – does not exist at all in pagan literature, and is used only once in the N.T. Eph.4:6, where Paul speaks of Jews and Gentiles being a part “of the same Body”. This concept would have been foreign to anyone who lacked understanding of the Body of Christ.

Take particular note of the preponderance of instances where the operative verb is passive. The unity described in the New Testament is not and cannot be a do-it-yourself project. Notice that none of these words suggests the “anything goes” or “I’m ok, you’re ok” attitudes which today are often confused with the idea of “unity.” Neither do they suggest the slavish uniformity demanded by folks of more rigid persuasions. The goal is neither a hodge-podge of individuals blithely “doing their own thing” without challenge, nor a collection of identical automatons marching in artificial unison. Quite the opposite: the New Testament concept of unity requires the supernatural transformation of committed individuals into a supernatural unity that can faithfully reflect the image of its Creator!
Faithful individuals need to cooperate with the Builder, but dare not try to usurp his authority. The carefully fitted blocks of the pyramids (see sunarmalogeo, above) did not shape themselves! They were carefully cut and shaped, each to fit in its designated place, by master craftsmen. This is equally true of the building of “God’s dwelling place”.
The remaining, lexically unrelated, word reveals the same need for outside intervention. Katartizo, rendered “framed” in Heb.11:3 and “joined” in I Cor.10 is also used of “mending nets” (Mt.4:21, Mk.1:19) and the “restoration” of a fallen brother (Gal.6:1). Lexically, it also includes “to adjust or put in order, to set a dislocated limb, to learn, to discipline.”

If the unlikely combination of folks representing vastly different cultural backgrounds and assumptions that makes up the mixed multitude who are called into the Kingdom are ever going to be built together as the dwelling place of God and the manifestation of his kingly rule, it will take a lot of fitting and adjustment! But it is beyond the bound of possibility that the prayer of his own Son, asking that his people be “perfectly one, as we are”, should not be answered!
For exactly that purpose, we have been lovingly placed into the hands of the supreme Architect of the universe – and he is certainly equal to the task!

Thanks be to God!

Word Study #196 — The Head

July 14, 2013

I am well aware that in approaching this subject, I am opening the proverbial “can of worms”. Few seemingly simple words have been used so viciously to abuse and suppress the very people that they were intended to empower and protect! And we will get to that; but first, a few interesting observations.
For those who get bent-out-of-shape about words that in nearly every European language except English have “gender” as a part of their grammatical form: I find it amusing that kephale, the only Greek word translated “head”, happens to be a feminine noun! Since grammatical “gender” is completely independent of actual fact, this observation is just as irrelevant to correct translation as is the masculine grammatical form of anthropos – usually rendered “man” (the species), but just as accurately “person” or “human”. I only mention it by way of illustration, and with this reminder: don’t get hung up on grammatical gender! To do so only displays linguistic ignorance.
To those who consider the concept of “head” to denote the top of a hierarchy: there is a related word for that, kephalaios, “principal or chief”, but it never occurs in the New Testament. Lexically, the idea of “head honcho” is completely absent from the extensive uses of kephale.
These include (L/S) the physical head of a person or animal, a way of counting people, philosophically the “noblest” part of a person, life (as in risking – see Lk.21:8, Ac.27:34), a term used in imprecations or oaths (as in Mt.5:36, Ac.18:6); of inanimate things: the inflorescence of a plant, the top or brim of a vessel, the capital of a column, the source of a river; of statuary: a bust; and metaphorically: crown, completion, consummation, sum, or total.
Of the 76 appearances of the word in the New Testament, 47 have merely anatomical reference. Most of these are in the gospels or the Revelation. Other than those, Ac.18:18 and 21:24 refer to the Jewish custom of shaving one’s head in connection with a vow, and in Paul’s insightful description of the functions of the parts of a body, he mentions the head in I Cor.12:21.

There are two other clusters of the use of kephale. In Mt.21:42, Mk.12:10, Lk.20:17, and Ac.4:11, reference is made to Ps.118:22, regarding “the stone that the builders rejected” having been made “the head of the corner” (KJV). Peter quotes the same passage (I Pet.2:6,7) and adds the comment from Is.28:16. In doing so, he agrees with Paul’s statement in I Cor.3:11 where he speaks of Jesus as the “foundation,” but these are completely different from the former group. Clearly, the KJV translators did not understand the construction of the Roman arch, which was ubiquitous in the first century, and consequently, they totally missed the wry humor in the statement. The writers/speakers are calling attention to the utter cluelessness of those who considered themselves the “builders”, pointing out that they did not even know what the carefully but oddly shaped keystone of an arch is for! It bears no resemblance to a cornerstone – a ceremonial, decorative (but useless) component slipped into place at the dedication of a building – or even if it were a part of the foundation. The keystone, uniquely shaped for a perfect fit, is integral to the integrity of the entire structure! Without it, the whole building – arch or dome – would collapse! The point is that only Jesus is capable of holding the “building of God” (whether one applies that term to the church or to the entire universe) intact. These same translators likewise erred in the rendering of the alternate word, akrogoniaios. Used only twice, it refers also to the top of the arch: The prefix akro– is from the word “high” (think “acropolis”). It has no reference to their choice of “chief” (Eph.2:20, I Pet.2:6). There is no such thing as a “chief” cornerstone.

Finally, and arguably the most important, are the references, all in Paul’s epistles, to Jesus himself as the “head”: not only of the church, which is represented as his Body (Eph.4:15, Col.1:18), but of “all things” (Eph.1:22), even of “all principality and power” (Col.2:10) – spiritual forces of all kinds! Although the word is not repeated there, the statement in Col.1:15-17 succinctly summarizes the realization that from the beginning of creation (perhaps even before that!) it is only in Jesus that “everything holds together” – precisely the function of a keystone (Col.2:19). He is the only way the Body can work together as intended. The reverse is also true: one may observe that while a Body is unable to function without its head – it simply dies – neither can a Head accomplish much unless it has a Body with which it can interact with its surroundings!

It is this glorious truth of Jesus as the Head of the Body that must be the context for any responsible interpretation of the remaining passages (I Cor. 11:1-10 and Eph.5:32-33). Reinforced (or perhaps established) by Jesus’ prayer in Jn.17, especially v.22, a New Testament understanding of the function of the “head” is, like so many other aspects of life, radically different from any patterns that exist outside Jesus’ Kingdom. Whether the “list” is the I Cor. “God – Christ – husband – wife” or the Ephesians “Christ – church – husband – wife”, it does not describe a hierarchy as has been represented by the arrogant and oppressive “chain of command” teaching that has been prominent in some circles off and on for at least the last 50 years, but an equation!
Perhaps some of you learned as a school-child the expression of relationships in a math or science problem that looked like this: “a:b::c:d”, representing that the pair “a” and “b” are related to each other in the same way as “c” is to “d”. That is exactly what Paul is trying to say here. And all the components of both lists are encompassed in Jesus’ prayer to the Father “that they may (continually) be one, just as we are one”!

In such a context, being designated as a “head” is not an assignment of status, but of responsibility! In his prayer, Jesus detailed the provision, protection, and empowerment that he had afforded to his followers while he was with them. Similar patterns of nurture and protection are noted in the Ephesians passage. Both are in the context of total self-giving love, and are to be emulated, in his present Body, by any who are designated “head”, in any capacity. Remember also that in the Corinthian letter, we are reminded that both men and women have been entrusted with heretofore unheard-of responsibility and privilege (Please see fuller discussion in chapter 13 of Citizens of the Kingdom). Whether on a physical or spiritual level, the “head” is responsible for the protection and the welfare, as well as the direction and enabling of the activity of the rest of the Body.

If you are tempted to react – either gleefully or resentfully – to the idea of a husband as a “head”, take a deep breath, get out your New Testament, and review the characteristics of Jesus’ relationship to his Father, and to the Church, his beloved Bride! Because here, as in everything else concerning the Kingdom, it’s all about Jesus! Make no mistake: Jesus was not a doormat – and neither was he a tyrant! He expects neither of his people! And where there is no husband to serve as enabler and protector, that role is assigned to the church (I Tim.5) as well as to whatever family is available. This would not have been an uncommon situation in a context of intense persecution.

After detailing the superiority of Jesus over all the ideas and beings, hypothetical or actual, to which the Colossian brethren had been introduced, Paul bluntly diagnosed their problem as “not holding on to the Head.” “It’s only from him that all the Body, supplied through its joints and ligaments, and knit together, keeps growing with the growth that comes from God.” (Col.2:19).
“The growth that comes from God”, for all of his people, is neither more nor less than the building together and functioning together of all of the members of the Body of Christ, learning, under the supremely loving and competent direction of its Head, to reflect all that he is, to a world so desperately in need of his loving touch.

Word Study #195 — Hands, and Touch

July 2, 2013

The most common use of the word cheir requires no research or explanation: the hand is the part of one’s body with which he performs the most ordinary of daily tasks. Even in reference to God’s messengers – natural or supernatural – (Mt.4:6), hands may simply be viewed as a tool or implement. However, the figurative uses of the term, referring to custodial care, power, or authority, and the employment of one’s hands to convey blessing and healing, or judgment and arrest, can require discernment, and it is these upon which I propose to focus this study.

The ambiguity is not unique to New Testament usage. It occupies an entire (very large) page of very small print in L/S, the Oxford lexicon of Greek usage. In addition to “hand or paw”, they note that it may refer to position (“on which hand [side]?”), careful rearing (“by hand”) of a child or animal, and leading (by taking one’s hand). It is used of prayer, voting, reaching out to help or protect, or in a hostile sense, to harm or destroy. “In hand” may denote “under control, in process, or at close quarters.” To place someone or something “in the hands” of another confers responsibility; giving or offering one’s hand attests authenticity or trustworthiness. The hand is often used to describe the attributes of the person using it, and may even be represented as acting of itself (“what your hand finds to do”). Indeed, it may be used of any act or deed, a person’s handiwork or handwriting, and even an anchor, axle, or pillar! And that is just a random sampling.

Forty-seven of the New Testament references to “hands” are purely physical. There are however a few significant points among them.
Pilate (Mt.27:24) clearly had in mind something deeper than simple cleanliness in his highly public “hand-washing” as he disclaimed responsibility for Jesus’ execution.
Paul’s statements that “God is not worshiped [helped or assisted] by men’s hands” (Ac.17:25) and “they are not gods which are made by hands” (Ac.19:2), define limits not only to physical hands, but to the domain of human effort.
His repeated (Ac.20:34, I Cor.4:12) reminder of his having personally earned the expenses of his labors and his associates reinforces his admonition that the faithful likewise should “work with their hands” (Eph.4:28, I Thes.4:11) in order to have resources to share with people in need.

“The Hand of God” or “the hand of the Lord” is credited with leading and protection (Lk.1:66, Jn.10:29, Ac.7:25, Heb.8:9) and creation (Ac.7:50, Heb.1:10, 2:7, I Pet.5:6), as well as judgment (Mt.3:!2, Ac.13:11, Heb.10:31). It was “into the hands of the Father” (Lk.23:46) that Jesus released his spirit as he died.

Jesus’ own hands seem to have been constantly busy! Offering loving blessing to children (Mt.19:13-15, Mk.10:16), and to his bewildered disciples (Lk.24:50), identifying his disciples as family (Mt.12:49), rescuing Peter from the consequences of his impetuosity (Mt.14:31), many unspecified “mighty works” (Mk.6:2), and healing “all manner of weaknesses” (at least 20x, probably more) by “laying his hands upon them”.
The Lord Jesus, who personified the love of God, was always touching people! Especially those who were not “supposed “ to be touched! Nothing more effectively communicates love – especially to folks that others deem “untouchable” – than a compassionate touch, or a comforting (or celebratory!) hug! And no, the idea of a “hug” is not a silly modern notion, and not at all extraneous. The word which has been rendered “touch” is haptomai – L/S:”to take hold of, to hang on to, to grasp, cleave, cling to” , and only secondarily “engage, undertake, perceive,” and even “to attack or apprehend”. It appears 13x as Jesus’ initiative toward a person in need, and 17x as people crowded to grab hold of “even the edge of his robe.” The result of those touches was usually healing, except for Jesus’ reassuring his frightened disciples after his transfiguration (Mt.17:7), and blessing little children (Mk.10:13, Lk.18:15). (Could this last have been the origin of the “group hug”?
Only once did he make a negative response to “touching”, gently telling Mary not to hang on to him (Jn.20:17), but to get busy and spread the wonderful news that he was alive. There were also parts of that glorious event yet to be completed.

The disciples, later apostles, and others in the early church, continued this practice of “laying their hands on” folks in need of healing, as Jesus had mentioned before his departure (Mk.16:18), but it seems also to have acquired additional significance among them. People were commissioned in this way for particular assignments (Ac.6:6, 13:3, I Tim.4:14, II Tim.1:6). Remember (#48) that this was simply a sign of brotherly approval and participation, and NOT the conferral of a lifetime title or position of status as it has become in modern rituals of “ordination”.
The gesture also accompanied prayer – not only for healing (Ac.3:7, 5:12, 9:12, 25:8), but also for the bestowal of the Holy Spirit (Ac.8:17,18; 9:12, 9:41, 19:6) and various unspecified “miracles” (Ac.5:12, 14:3, 19:11). It appears on the list of “basic” teachings in Heb.6:2.
Relief was sent to the sufferers in the Judean famine “by the hands of Barnabas and Saul” (Ac.11:30). Five times, Paul identifies the authenticity of a letter by his own handwriting (I Cor.16:21, Gal.6:11, Col.4:18, II Thes.3:17, Phm.19).
Some sort of spiritual empowerment seems to have been conferred on at least one occasion (II Tim.1:6).
Paul’s advice to Timothy to use the act of official commissioning cautiously and judiciously (I Tim.5:22) could be better heeded today.

We should also be aware that neither being “in the hands” [power, authority] of someone, nor “laying hands on” a person is always a good thing. Jesus warned that he was about to be “betrayed into the hands” of his enemies, who had repeatedly tried to “lay hands upon him” (13x), and that his followers could face similar treatment (9 or 10 times) – which they did.

But they did so with the full assurance of their Master’s confidence, promised in Jn.3:34, 10:28,29; and demonstrated in Jn.13:34, that not only they, but “all things” had been “given into his hands” by the Father – and that no force in heaven or earth could snatch them away.
May we also rest in that certainty, as we offer our hands in his service!

Word Study #194 — Heal, Healing

June 30, 2013

It is sad that a topic which was such a welcome and compassionate feature of the ministry of Jesus, his disciples, and the early church, should have become a focus of controversy for contemporary groups, even resulting in the overt abuse of many suffering people and their caregivers.
Clearly, we will not solve all the problems of two millennia in one brief study, but perhaps we can make a few suggestions to add some light and reduce the heat of the discussions. Please bear in mind that this is the earnest intention of this posting!

The first surprise is in the lexical meanings of the three different word groups that have been rendered “heal.” The most common, therapeuo (v.), therapeia (n), is also the least specific. L/S lists “to do service (to gods or people), to honor parents, to wait upon a master, to pay attention, to treat medically, to train animals, to cultivate land, to prepare food or drugs, to mend garments”! It is only in juxtaposition with a diagnosis that one can be anywhere near certain that “healing” is the intention. Perhaps we should start by expanding our understanding of the extent of Jesus’ ministrations to folks with widely varied needs!
Iaomai (v.), iama and iasis (n), are more exclusively focused upon medical attention: “heal, cure, treat diseases; remedy or counteract” are primary, with “repair” also included as well as “refine” (as in alchemy).
Sozo, more commonly rendered “save” with “eternal” consequences by modern evangelicals, seems primarily to be used in more desperate situations: its first listing is “to save from death, to keep alive”, but also includes “to recover from sickness, to keep safe or preserve, to remember or keep in mind, to rescue.” Its prefixed form, diasozo, is similar, but more emphatic.

The words referring to diagnoses are likewise extremely diverse. About half the time, the accounts specify the problem of the sufferer: blindness, deafness, crippling of legs, feet, or hands; paralysis, leprosy, hemorrhage, fever, or even a cut-off ear! Notice, please, that demonic conditions are treated as a separate malady (16x), and not, as some would have it, simply showing ignorance of the source of distress. Elsewhere, usually in a crowd setting, the record shows Jesus being presented with “all kinds of diseases” and “healing them ALL”. Descriptions of these “generic” afflictions also use widely varied vocabulary.
Arrhotos, (arrhoteo, -ia) (5x) may refer either to “sickness, especially epidemics, a lingering infirmity, or moral weakness.”
Asthenos (astheneo) the most common, (35x) can include weakness, feebleness, sickliness, disease”, but also “poverty” (Herodotus), “moral weakness” (Plato), or “any person who is needy, insignificant, or powerless”! Most of us fit somewhere in there!
Malakia (3x) may be “moral weakness, sickliness, or cowardice.”
Nosos, nosema (13x), the only one essentially confined to physical conditions, encompasses “sickness, plague, disease, distress, anguish, any disease of the mind, or any grievous affliction.”
These words usually occur in different combinations of two or three in the various gospel narratives, seemingly thereby to indicate that whatever the problem, Jesus, and by extension, his people, both care, and do something about it!

Regardless of the specific vocabulary, the vast majority of references to healing occur in the gospels (58x), and nearly all of those focus on Jesus’ personal action, although there are 7 instances of authority being delegated to the disciples (in one of which their attempt failed – Lk.9:42). Healing definitely figured into the expectations and ministry of the early church, as evidenced in Ac.3 and 4, 5:16, 8:7, 9:34, 10:38, 14:9, 28:8,9; I Cor.12:9, 28, 30; Jas.5:16). Here, too, though, it was not always immediately successful (Ac.9:36).

Contrary to the claims of folks who propose to “teach” others to “heal”, the New Testament reveals no requirements, techniques, prescribed incantations, or ceremonies; and any healing that occurs is overtly and immediately attributed to the power of God in Jesus.
There are no flamboyant professional healers, except the sons of the Jewish priest, Skeva, (Ac.19:13-17), who did not fare so well in Ephesus. Peter and John (Ac.3:12,16) and Paul and Barnabas (Ac.14:8-18) had clear opportunity to take credit to themselves for miraculous healings, but uniformly rejected personal acclaim, insisting repeatedly that it was the Lord’s doing and not theirs.

“Gifts of healing” (I Cor.12:9, 28, 30) are indeed among the equipment provided by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of folks both within and outside the Body, but as noted in #25, “gifts” are not the possession of the person who employs them, but rather the Lord’s provision for the individual who is in need. James (5:14-16) assigns this responsibility to the elders (#42) of the group.

It is just as fruitless to try to develop a prescribed “methodology” as it is to identify “qualified” individuals or “appropriate” occasions for healing. The occasion is appropriate wherever / whenever there is a need: healing consistently accompanied Jesus’ own teaching. The Sabbath was no problem for him, as it was for the “official” types who opposed him (Lk.6:7, 13:14, 14:3), nor did it matter where it happened: on a public street (Lk.8:44), in someone’s home (Lk.4:38,39 and others), or in a synagogue (Lk.4:33). His instructions to his disciples (Mt.10:1, 10:8, Mk.3:15, Lk.9:1,2; 10:9) and the subsequent ministries of Philip (Ac.8), Peter and John (Ac.3,4), Paul (Ac.16:18, 28:9) and others, likewise, had no restrictions or outlines to follow.
Jesus’ examples of “technique” are just as varied. He did not even need to be present for his “word” to accomplish a healing (Mt.8:7-13, Lk.7:7, Mk.7:26-30), but at other times, he gave explicit instructions to the patient (Mk.2:11, Jn.5:8, 9:7), or addressed commands to a demon (Mt.8:28-32). But most frequently of all, he reached out and touched the suffering person – whether or not that was officially sanctioned or socially acceptable. According to the Law, a leper (Mt.8:3), a dead person (Lk.7:11) or a woman (Mk.1:31) was not to be touched. We will revisit this graciousness in the next post.
There were even occasions where the afflicted were restored by simply touching his clothing (Mt.9:20, 14:36, and parallels)!

The commissioned disciples seem to have added the practice of anointing with oil (Mk.6:13): there is no record of Jesus having done so, although he did use mud [clay] once (Jn.9:6). James (5:14) later advocated this practice. No one gives any explanation, although the purely secular example of the “good Samaritan” illustrates the common use of oil in treating wounds.
Apostles also employed a simple command (Ac.3:6, 9:34, 14:9), or a touch (Ac.28:8, 3:7, 9:12, 9:41) even, again, of a garment (Ac.19:11). Their carrying on of the healing ministry often specifically includes prayer (Ac.4:30, 9:40, Jas.5:16), although this is not mentioned in Jesus’ activity.

But what of that shibboleth of self-styled healers – the “magic word”, “faith”?
First of all, please refer back to study #1, exploring the word pistis, and remember that it is NOT an alternative term for autosuggestion! In most contexts, “trust”, “faithfulness”, or “loyalty” is a more accurate translation. Jesus only once scolded anyone for its lack: and that was in explaining to the disciples the reason for their failure to heal a demon-tormented child. He did ask the father in that scene to trust him – but that is the only record of his articulating any such condition. There are places where he credited a person’s trust / loyalty for their healing (Mt.9:22, 29; 15:28 and parallels), but the vast majority of incidents include no such statement – and the man introduced in Jn.5:13 did not even know who had healed him! In Mk,.2:5, it is the trust / loyalty of the men who carried their friend to Jesus that is commended. And in the many crowd scenes, no sorting of any kind is recorded. We have only the simple statement that “he healed them ALL.” (Mt.4:23,24; 8:16, 9:35, 12:15, 19:2, 21:14, and parallels)

Completely absent is any requirement that a person “claim” a healing of which there has been no evidence. Had the blind man in Mk.8:24 been urged to do so, Jesus would have had no occasion to offer the “second touch” that completed his restoration! And it was the irrefutable evidence of the lame man strolling around with Peter and John that so flummoxed the bigwigs at the temple (Ac.4:14). Repeatedly, observers are described as marveling at what they had SEEN.
Also absent
is any suggestion of “blaming the victim” for his condition – a concept that Jesus plainly repudiated in Jn.9:1-4 – and which is the apex of the cruelty of the modern “healing business”!

So – with all this variety, is there anything of which we may be certain?
Most assuredly!
*Jesus not only announced his purpose “to heal the broken hearted” (Lk.4:!8) in his inaugural address, but demonstrated the compassionate use of his power to restore people throughout his earthly career, whether the need was physical illness, lack of food, moral laxity, or even death!
*In assigning responsibility to his disciples, these same concerns are dominant: both before and after his departure.
*The provision by means of the Holy Spirit, for the continuation of Kingdom service on the part of its citizens included physical healing among the many assignments and enablements by which they are expected to represent their King to the world.

May we help each other to learn to do so responsibly!