Volume 3 -- July 1999 (41 pages)
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Nazarene Saints Publishing© is a Bible research group for a better Scriptural understanding. We are dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid Friends of the Nazarene© to "follow the Lamb no matter where the Lamb goes." (John 15:14; Revelation 14:4) The Friends of the Nazarene>© are a spiritual community of Messianic Christians. We are apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that "God is One" and not three. The Bible is our creed. We view this "God-breathed" book as inspired alone, while the thoughts of men about it are not. We wish to respect the views of our multitude of Christian brethren. (1 Peter 3:15) The Friends of the Nazarene© web page is http://www.nazarene-friends.org/ . [Mark Miller / Senior Editor (USA West coast); Ralph Slaney / Senior Spanish editor (Europe); Alberto Padilla / Associate Spanish Editor (USA Northeast); Andy Weeks / Associate Editor [Webmaster] (USA Midwest); Andrew Foss / Hebrew editor (Northwest USA)]
Two Attitudes Toward Prophecy
As we approach the year 2,000 the interest in prophecy has never been higher. It is true some are taking financial advantage of this by pumping out every conceivable publication to make money off Y2K.
On the other hand there are sincere and genuine Christians and other interested persons who keenly interested in prophecy in general and the Book of Revelation in particularly. They yearn for any information which will help them understand this most apocalyptic book in the Bible.
Despite this interest in prophecy on the part of some there are two observable attitudes among some Christian groups. One view is that the study of prophecy is part and parcel to Christian belief and hope. They feel it should be studied to get some idea about the future and thus be like the wise man "who sees calamity and prepares for it." (Proverbs xx)
The other attitude is that prophecy is unimportant and really a waste of a Christians time. They express themselves in this vein regarding the Book of Revelation. They feel no one understands it and therefore much time spent in studying it is essentially a waste of time. "Why study Revelation?" they ask. "When it all happens we will know it. So there is no reason to belabor whether its futuristic prophecies are necessary. It is more important to develop Christian character and dwell on those inspirational aspects of Christianity."
It has been noted regarding the latter attitude above that it is generally expressed by persons who simply are not good students of any part of the Bible. Since they have not spent much time in the Book of Revelation they cannot really carry on a discussion on the subject and so would rather avoid it altogether.
What is the right Christ-minded attitude to have toward prophecy? Is prophecies only purpose to build faith after it is fulfilled? Or, has some prophecy been provided so that a Christian might prepared spiritually and emotionally for those days ahead on the prophetic horizon. Let us consider this subject from a Biblical perspective.
That the Bible is a book which places much emphasis on prophecy can be seen by just the words "prophet" and "prophecy." The word group "prophet" occurs about 520 times in the Bible. The first occurrence is at Genesis 20:7, occurring most often in Jeremiah (100 times), and its last occurrence at Revelation 22:9. So, from Genesis to Revelation the Bible is a book about prophecy.
Jesus himself was called a Prophet. Indeed, this office was foretold by an earlier prophet 1,500 years before in Deuteronomy 18:15. This prophecy by Moses is quoted by Peter in Acts 3:?? and in doing so he predicts something for future:
"But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you--even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, `The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.' [Deuteronomy 18:15] Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, `Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed. [Genesis 22:18]'" (TEV)
This Prophet from Galilee did indeed give many a prophecy. Among the most striking -- because we can examine it fulfillment -- was the desolation of Jerusalem. In doing this, Jesus alluded to the ancient prophet Daniel and Isaiah. This prophecy began a few days before Jesus' crucifixion. Consider a series of these taken from Matthew and Luke: (Luke 19:42-44; Matthew 24:15, 21, 22, 29-31)
"If you, even you[inhabitants of Jerusalem -- editor], had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another. [Daniel 8:11; Daniel 11:15] ... So when you see standing in the holy place `the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel [Daniel 9:27; Daniel 12:11]--let the reader understand-- [When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.] Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. Immediately after the distress of those days [Daniel 12:1] the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. [Isaiah 13:10, 13] At that time the sign [Isaiah 11:12] of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. [Zechariah 12:12] They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky [Daniel 7:13], with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other [Isaiah 11:12]."
We have inserted those possible verses to which Jesus may have alluded in developing his prophecy about the desolation of Jerusalem and what would follow in prophetic time. Now, what was the purpose of this prophecy? May we suggest there are two kinds of prophecies in this context: vertical and horizontal. There are those prophecies not to be understood until their fulfillment and this we call vertical. Their purpose is to strengthen faith. Jesus mentions such when he says to his apostles: "And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe." (John 14:29 RSV)
The other type of prophecy we call horizontal for it is some to be understood in advance so that some action may be taken. The prophecy above by Jesus regarding Jerusalem is clearly horizontal -- futuristic. Its purpose was to allow the disciples to know when to take action ahead of time -- before it was too late. Clearly, these disciples could not argue that prophecy was unimportant because "we will only understand it after it is fulfilled." In this case it would have been too late for many thousands of them living in Jerusalem.
Most fell interwoven in these verses above in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 are horizontal prophecies about the end-times and the things the latter day Saints will experience prior to the Return of Christ. Jesus promises his apostles the night before his death that he would send a prophetic spirit which would help them to prepare for the future. Note how the Nazarene does this in John 16:13, "However, when he, the Spirit of true knowledge, has come, he will be your guide into all true knowledge: for his words will not come from himself, but whatever has come to his hearing, that he will say: and HE WILL MAKE CLEAR TO YOU THE THINGS TO COME." (BAS)
It seems clear that Jesus taught the importance of prophecy. He told his apostles they would be guided into "into all truth" (KJV) and this "truth" would involve "the things to come" or the prophetic future.
It was one of these apostles present when Jesus uttered the above in John 16:13 who was later to write concerning the importance of paying attention to the words of prophecy. Note this in 2 Peter 1:19-21,
"Now because of this we have the word of prophecy on a stable foundation. You do well if you pay attention to (prophecy) in your hearts as if it were a lamp illuminating the way through a dark wilderness, until that future time when the dawn approaches and a morning star rises on the horizon. However, realize this first that any prophetic Scripture is not of some human origin or personal interpretation. Rather God spoke to humans who were enraptured by the holy spirit." (NR)
No one could argue from this that Peter considered prophecy unimportant. Rather, he says to "pay attention to it." Certainly Jesus would not ignore any prophecy of the Great Prophet after the likeness of Moses for he himself had told the Jews when quoting Deuteronomy 18:15 at Acts 3:23, "Any person who does not listen to that Prophet will be destroyed completely." With that thought in mind we ask: What was the greatest of that Great Prophet's prophecies?
Jesus was among the future great spiritual leaders who left behind no written scriptures. When he ascended on high he left behind only that truth found in the hearts of his disciples. However, he had promised them he would send a spirit helper, a spirit of prophecy, that would "guide them into all the truth ... and reveal future things." (John 16:13) What might be included in this prophetic help?
Though Jesus wrote nothing during his life time he was to send a letter in seven parts to seven churches very near that modern trouble spot in south eastern Europe. This was a letter from the Risen Lord. Most Christians have never read this Christine epistle. Very few have studied it seriously. What is it?
Read Revelation 1:1-3 (examine the footnotes a-g) --
"A revelation of Jesus Christ which The God gave to hima to show his slavesb those things which will happen suddenlyc; and Jesus signified it sending it through an angel to his servant John who testifies that everything he saw is the Word of The God and the testimony of Jesus Christd. Favored by God is anyone who readse (or hears this reading) these prophetic words and also obeysf these things in writing -- for the time draws nearg." (NR)
Realizing this is a precious letter from our Lord, there are several points we do well to consider here.
a. The words of the Book of Revelation are from our God by means of His Son. (Hebrews 1:1) They are not to be taken lightly but approached with the greatest vigor.
b. This prophetic letter is addressed primarily to those who are known as the "slaves of Jesus Christ," that is, all Christians who claim Jesus as their Lord.
c. The prophecies in this revelation will be fulfilled suddenly and unexpectedly upon not only those slaves of Jesus but also upon the world.
d. John testifies, as he does in John 21:24, that what is presented here is truly the Word of God and includes the testimony of Jesus himself. (Compare Revelation 21:5; 22:6.)
e. John declares that readers and listeners of Revelation will be blessed or favored.
f. John declares that this blessing or favor will only come if the words heard are obeyed.
g. One reason for reading and obeying Revelation is because "the time has drawn near." What this means will be revealed in a deep study of Revelation. It at least stresses the urgency of reading and obeying what our Risen Lord has revealed to us his slaves. Exactly how can we obtain this blessing?
Obviously, this divine blessing begins with reading the Book of Revelation. Is this all that is required, however? Just a cursory reading of the book out of a passing interest as part of a program to read the whole Bible, as if that were enough? It would not seem so.
Something read is virtually useless if it is not understood at least in principle. Perhaps there is a principle on one occasion when the Law of God was read to Israel: "And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading." (Nehemiah 8:8 RSV) If this effort was put forward to "understand" the Mosaic Law, what kind of effort should be put forward to understand someone greater than Moses?
Indeed, a prophecy very much linked with Revelation predicts such effort to understand. Note this in Daniel 12:3, 10: "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. .. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand." (NIV) So, the very prophets involved assure us that "understanding" is possible and, indeed, warns that the "wicked will not understand." This ought to motivate the wise and purified to pursue a true understanding of Revelation.
It is true there are many difficult things "hard to understand" in Revelation just as there were in Paul's epistles. (2 Peter 3:16) Yet there are times in Revelation where the intelligent, or those with the mind to, should apply themselves to come to an understanding. (Revelation 13:8; 17:9) Truly, one wall be blessed if they do so.
Now how Revelation comes to its conclusion when the angle of apocalypse, speaking for both The God and His Son Jesus Christ:
And now the angel told me: "These words are completely trustworthy. Indeed, the Lord God who inspired the prophets sent forth His angel to reveal to His slaves those things which will suddenly occur. And, behold! I am arriving suddenly! Blessed with favor is anyone observes the prophetic words of this small Bible."
The angel also told me: "Do not seal up this small Bible's prophetic words -- for the time approaches." (Revelation 22:6, 7, 10 NR) The translation by Weymouth renders Revelation 22:10 this way: "Make no secret ... of the meaning of the prophecies contained in this book for the time of their fulfillment is now close at hand."
Yes, the Book of Revelation is not now a "sealed" or closed book. It is open for our understanding. And we are blessed, indeed, if we make it our constant study. By this we demonstrate our love for its author, Jesus Christ, inspired by his Father, God. Surely, Christian discussion groups, home churches, and large congregations ought to make this letter from our Lord an ongoing study.
But, you ask: "How can I understand Revelation? I cannot make heads or tails of it." The key to understanding will be discussed in a following article.
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The apostle Paul in writing to the congregation at Ephesus wrote, "I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3, ASV)
Paul encouraged the believers at Ephesus to "walk worthily" of their calling. He describes a person who is modest and gentle, slow to anger, and enduring of adversity; a person who, in essence, puts up with others in love, and endeavors to keep the unity of the Holy Spirit in a bond of peace. The Greek word here translated "longsuffering," and also at Galatians 5:22, is makrothumia. According to The Complete Word Study Dictionary, compiled and edited by Spiros Zodhiates, TH.D., makrothumia (Strong's #3115), means "Forbearing, long-suffering, self-restraint before proceeding to action. The quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so."
The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, includes in its definition, the term "fortitude." The Webster's College Dictionary, lists as one of its definitions of "fortitude," the following: "mental and emotional strength in facing adversity, danger, or temptation courageously." [Bold italics mine for emphasis]
So, in looking at the various New Testament references where makrothumia is used, we now have a more accurate understanding of what is meant by the quality of "longsuffering." A person who is manifesting the virtue of longsuffering is forbearing, able to restrain him or herself, and faces and endures adversity courageously. Paul in his epistle to the Colossians also describes "long-suffering with joy." As children of the Father, and students of his Son Jesus Christ, we are called, not only to be slow to anger, and enduring of adversity, but we must strive to develop and manifest this quality with a joyful attitude.
Paul writes, "Because of this, we also, from the day in which we heard, do not cease praying for you, and asking that ye may be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, to your walking worthily of the Lord to all pleasing, in every good work being fruitful, and increasing to the knowledge of God, in all might being made mighty according to the power of His glory, to all endurance and long-suffering with joy." (Colossians 1:9-11, YLT)
So important is this quality of longsuffering, that Paul stressed it to "pastor" Timothy, whom it is obvious Paul already viewed as a "genuine child in faith." (1Timothy 1:2, YLT) He wrote, "I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom: preach the Word. Be instant in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but having itching ears, they shall heap to themselves teachers in accordance with their own lusts. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned toward fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry." (2 Timothy 4:1-5, KJ21)
The Hebrew words arek (Strong's #750) and aph (Strong's #639), used together in the Hebrew Scriptures, are translated in the King James Version of the Bible as "longsuffering." Interestingly, all four of the Old Testament references in the King James Version, where the word "longsuffering" occur, are used to describe God himself. It is never used in reference to man. The four references are as follows [Bold and underlines mine for emphasis]:
Jeremiah 15:15 "O LORD, Thou knowest; remember me and visit me, and avenge me of my persecutors. Take me not away in Thy longsuffering; know that for Thy sake I have suffered rebuke."
Exodus 34:6-7 "And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation."
Numbers 14:18 "The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation."
Psalms 86:15 "But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth."
While the King James Version consistently translates the words arek and aph, when used together, as "longsuffering," other translations render the phrase "slow to anger," which is more descriptive. For example, The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament, by John R. Kohlenberger, renders Jeremiah 15:15, "in length of anger;" and Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, and Psalms 86:15, "slow of angers."
As previously mentioned, "longsuffering" in the King James Version of the Hebrew Scriptures, is never used in reference to man, but this quality certainly was manifested by God's faithful servants. For example, David's love, respect, and fear of Jehovah, enabled him to be slow to anger in his dealings with Saul. Even though Saul had attempted to kill David on several occasions, when the opportunity presented itself, David did not take the king's life. David truly proved to be "a man agreeable to [God's] heart."
Something else to consider in reference to possessing the virtue of being longsuffering, is that it is a necessary quality, if we have any hope of God continuing to be longsuffering with us. And, when we are patient and slow to anger, even in the face of adversity, we lay the groundwork, so to speak, for us to continue on and show others mercy. Likewise, a person who is merciful, will tend to manifest patience. In other words, patience and mercy go hand-in-hand.
Jesus said," Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy;" (Matthew 5:7, ASV) and "Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful."
(Luke 6:36, ASV) In Jesus' parable about the unmerciful servant, we see a clear this example of what Jesus meant:
For this reason the kingdom of heaven is like a king, who went over his accounts with his servants. And at the start, one came to him who was in his debt for ten thousand talents. And because he was not able to make payment, his lord gave orders for him, and his wife, and his sons and daughters, and all he had, to be given for money, and payment to be made. So the servant went down on his face and gave him worship, saying, Lord, give me time to make payment and I will give you all. And the lord of that servant, being moved with pity, let him go, and made him free of the debt. But that servant went out, and meeting one of the other servants, who was in debt to him for one hundred pence, he took him by the throat, saying, Make payment of your debt. So that servant went down on his face, requesting him and saying, Give me time and I will make payment to you. And he would not: but went and put him into prison till he had made payment of the debt. So when the other servants saw what was done they were very sad, and came and gave word to their lord of what had been done. Then his lord sent for him and said, You evil servant; I made you free of all that debt, because of your request to me: Was it not right for you to have mercy on the other servant, even as I had mercy on you? And his lord was very angry, and put him in the hands of those who would give him punishment till he made payment of all the debt. So will my Father in heaven do to you, if you do not everyone, from your hearts, give forgiveness to his brother." (Matthew 18:23-35, BBE)
This particular servant, even after having been shown compassion, and after having been forgiven of his own debt, went out, found one of his fellow-servants, (who owed him what amounts basically to a few dollars), and was neither forgiving, nor slow to anger. The scripture shows us that he "took him by the throat!" As it turns out, the actions of this impatient, unforgiving, and hot tempered servant, was found out by his lord. Jesus ended his lesson with the powerful words, "So will my Father in heaven do to you, if you do not everyone, from your hearts, give forgiveness to his brother."
It is quite evident that in order for each one of us to "be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21, ASV), we must, among other things, be merciful. However, this is impossible, if we do not develop patience and fortitude.
The key quality of the Spirit's fruitage is love. From love, all other qualities spring forth. Love is "a perfect bond of union." (Colossians 3:14, NWT) One cannot experience true joy without love, nor can one be filled with true peace without love. Likewise, it is impossible to be patient, slow to anger, and able to joyfully endure adversity from persecutors, without love. Praying for, and actively working towards having a loving heart, is the best way to develop the quality of longsuffering. As we grow in love, (which is not just a feeling, but rather, a deliberate and active exercise of principle), we can grow in patience and fortitude.
A devoted disciple of Jesus the Nazarene will make prayer a regular aspect of his or her daily life, just as Jesus did. We can have confidence in the true God, who is himself slow to anger. What saith the scriptures? "Jehovah is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and great in loving-kindness. Jehovah is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works." (Psalms 145:8-9, NWT)
And elsewhere, "But you, O Jehovah, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and trueness." (Psalms 86:15, NWT)
The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines the word chrestotes (#5544), which is commonly translated kindness or goodness, as meaning "usefulness, i.e. mor. excellence (in character or demeanor)."
Paul states, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23, ASV) We have just discussed the connection between patience, and compassion and mercy. If there be one word that properly describes both compassion and mercy, it is "kindness."
In writing to the congregation in Rome, Paul states, "For all who are led by God's spirit, these are God's sons." (Romans 8:14, NWT) It is understood then, that if one of the qualities or characteristics of God's spirit is kindness, then those who are making claim to be children of God, will be led by his spirit, and thus manifest kindness themselves. It is evident from the scriptures that the Father is kind, but "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." (Romans 8:16, KJV) Paul is declaring that God's spirit corroborates by concurrent evidence with our spirit that we are God's offspring. Since God is loving, his true children will be loving; since he is peaceful and kind, his true children will be peaceful and kind.
Understanding the concept of "son" or "child" of God is important, because it gives us better understanding of what is expected of us as beloved children. The devil said to Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, "If you are a son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread . . . If you are a son of God, hurl yourself down . . ." (Matthew 4:3, 6; NWT) The devil wanted Jesus to doubt God, and he wanted him to act in ways that were contrary to God's ways and God's will.
But as Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30, KJV) Jesus and his Father Jehovah God are in complete unity, i.e. in complete agreement. In one of Jesus' heart-felt prayers to the Father, he prays the same type of unity for all believers. Jesus prayed, "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory that thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." (John 17:19-23, KJV) Each and every day, we too are being tested as to whether or not we are truly children of God. When we are being drawn away from harboring a peaceful, loving, joyous, and kind spirit, we must know that at the heart of the matter lies for us the question, "Are you a son of God?"
In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures), chrestotes is used more in reference to God than man. Just a few examples are the following:
"Praise ye Jehovah. Oh give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good; For his lovingkindness endureth for ever." (Psalms 106:1, ASV)
"Jehovah is good; his lovingkindness endureth for ever, and his faithfulness unto all generations." (Psalms 100;5, ASV)
"Jehovah is good to all; And his tender mercies are over all his works." (Psalms 145:9, ASV)
Notice how chrestotes ["good"], is used consistently with "lovingkindness" and "tender mercies." The psalmist declares Jehovah "good," and qualifies his declaration by describing him to be merciful and compassionate. Again, all who make claim to be Jehovah's children, and disciples of Jesus, will strive constantly to manifest those characteristics which are in agreement with God's nature. He or she will put on Christ and be merciful and compassionate.
According to The Scribner-Bantam English Dictionary, "compassion" is "sorrow for the sufferings of others," and "mercy" is "willingness to forgive or treat an offender leniently." Therefore, the believer who is exhibiting "kindness" as described by Paul at Galatians 5:22, is one who feels sorrow for the suffering of another, and is a person who is willing to forgive or treat another less severely, even if that person has offended them. This describes a sympathetic, friendly, gentle, and tender-hearted person.
As mentioned early on in this study, chrestotes means, "usefulness." It is more than simply "kindness." It is kindness that is useful! For example, James wrote, "If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet a certain one of you says to them: 'Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,' but you do not give them the necessities for their body, of what benefit is it?" (James 2:15-16, NWT)
If the person who lacks clothing and food, were given a couple of books to read, they may appreciate the "kind" gesture, but this is not chrestotes. Chrestotes is compassion and mercy with appropriate and useful action. A good example of this is in Jesus' parable about the good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10.
When Paul describes the nine qualities or characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, it must be understood that these virtues are "actions" and "responses," and are also commands given to the believer. Throughout the scriptures, one can find many instances where these virtues are commanded, rather than requested or suggested. For example, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
(Matthew 5:43-48, KJV)
Notice that loving our enemies, blessing those that curse us, doing good to those that hate us, and praying for those who despitefully use and persecute us is important, because by doing so we prove to be children of God, rather than children of the devil.
"Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience, and let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4, ASV)
"Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord: looking carefully lest there be any man that falleth short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled." (Hebrews 12:14-15, ASV)
"Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful." (Colossians 3:12-15, ASV)
It certainly would behoove us to hold fast all the commandments of our Lord, that we may grow and bear much fruit. "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:30-32, ASV)
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The new site looks great. God bless you all in your outreach. Christian love to all the Friends. [a Free Bible Student]
The word "love" some would say is much used and abused. It is one of those words in English which has wide abstract applications. "Love" can be romantic and cruel. "Love" can be made, as in intimate relations. "Love" can be misguided and even hypocritical. But, what is "love"? First in the English language and then in the Biblical language of the Christian Greek Bible.
The English word "love" has an interesting root system. Webster's New World Dictionary (Second College Edition) lists a full page on "love" and related words. We are told "love" comes from Old English lufu and is related to the Gothic lubo and the root leubh (where one begins to hear German). The root meaning is: fond and desire. The first definition of "love" is: 1. a deep and tender feeling of action for or attachment or devotion to a person or persons. ... SYN: implies intense fondness or deep devotion and may apply to various relationships or objects.
Thus, essentially in English love is a feeling of a certain type. It is for this reason that it falls short or is misunderstood when it comes to the Greek as used in the Christian Bible.
Generally in the Christian Greek Bible the word "love" is translated from agape (noun) or agapo (verb). In many ways is resembles the English word "love" and often must be understood by the context in a sentence. There is good and bad love. There is hypocritical and unhypocritical agape. The word agape is very rare outside of the Christian Bible. Some would state that had it not been for its preservation in the Christian Bible we would know nothing of agape today.
In Greek there are four general words often rendered "love." There is sexual or romantic love as found in the word eros. There is family love, storge. There is brother love, philia. And, lastly there is agape which is sometimes referred to as "principled" love. What is meant by this?
The answer lies in the real meaning of agape. We will see that the English "love" is unsatisfactory in conveying this word. However, agape may be understood to be an action rather than a feeling. Now when we take some action toward others there are generally two factors at work: a) motive; and, b) principle. Admittedly, often actions toward another are based on a selfish or impure motive though the principle behind it may be correct. Consider, the action of charity, a good and godly principle. However, the motive of charity may be pride or personal glory. Or, consider "love of money" where the principle is erroneous from a Christian standpoint. (Compare John 3:16, 19; EGAPESAN.) [NOTE: Paul uses the word-group agape 128 times, while John uses it 95 times.]
Saint Paul shows this difference when he takes on a description of agape in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:
"Now if I were capable of speaking in human and angelic languages but do not possess AGAPEN I have become no more than a noisy gong or clanging cymbals. Also, if I possess the prophetic gift and know all mysteries and (religious) knowledge, as well as conviction so strong I could move mountains, but do not possess AGAPEN, I am nothing. Also, if I sacrifice all my possessions to feed the needy, sacrificing my own physical body so I may brag, and yet lack AGAPEN, I profit nothing." Here Paul is not defining agape but rather the motive behind certain gifts or actions.
Paul then continues to list what agape is and is not. We note he speaks of a certain type of agape by including the article, "The Agape is TOLERANT (patient) and BENEVOLENT. ... Agape is joyous in honesty and truth. Agape covers over everything. Agape trusts and believes everything. Agape hopes always. Agape endures everything. The agape never stumbles." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Here he has told us what agape does. Now he tells us what agape is not. "The agape is not JEALOUS, not BOASTFUL, not ARROGANT, not ILL-MANNERED, not SELFISH, not ADVERSARIAL, does not KEEP A LOG OF INJURIES, is not HAPPY OVER WRONG." (1 Corinthians 13:4-6)
We read what Paul says what agape is or is not. Note that in 1 Corinthians 13:4 he refers to "the agape." He writes of a certain kind, a specific type of agape -- The Love. But, what is it, exactly? We may define agape as possessing three attributes: interest, concern, and action.
In order to have agape one begins with INTEREST in another. Now this may be either rightly or wrongly motivated. A person rushes into a burning building to save another. (Right Principle) However, the motive for this action was because the other person is one's sole source of income and well-being. A person gives to another because they wish to curry favor or further along their own political ambitions.
Often agape is never manifest because there is simply no interest in another. Some people show themselves constantly aware or interested in how others might be getting along. While another person is always oblivious of another's need, having no interest whatsoever.
Once INTEREST is cultivated it must be followed by CONCERN. The awareness or interest in another's situation arouses a concern or worry so that some action might be anticipated. Failure to follow through on this interest and concern results in a failure to be loving, or changing the noun (agape) to the verb (agapoo) -- does not love.
Thus, the third link in the agape chain is POSITIVE ACTION. This action, as defined by the Greek scholar William Barclay, "seeks the highest good of another." Actually, non-action (though interest and concern be present) is described as hate in the Bible. It is the sin of omission, one of the worst kinds described in the teachings of Jesus. (Note the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46 and see what the unrighteous goats were guilty of not doing. Compare also 3 John 5, 6.)
In the writings of John we can see this agape at work and how vital The Agape becomes. Note in the following verses the three factors of: INTEREST, CONCERN, AND POSITIVE ACTION in 1 John 3:13-18 (NCMM) ---
"My brothers and sisters, do not worry about why the world hates you. We realize we have stepped over the gulf between death and life because we continue to love [AGAPOMEN] our fellowship. The individual who is unloving [ME AGAPON] in their disposition continues under the condemnation of death. Anybody who hates a fellow is guilty of manslaughter. You realize that anyone guilty of manslaughter does not have everlasting life remaining within. Here is how we really understand what love is [TEN AGAPEN = THE LOVE]: our Lord sacrificed his very existence for us. For this reason we are obligated to sacrifice ourselves for our fellowship. For example: if any of us has this world's resources for maintaining life and is aware [INTEREST] that another Christian is in need [CONCERN] and yet slams shut the doors [NON-ACTION] of his tender affections -- how is it possible that God still loves [THE AGAPE] that person? My little children, make it your habit to always show loving concern [AGAPOMEN], not in speech or words only, but in positive and real action."
We learn several important things from these verses: There is a divine type of love which is The Love, or The Agape; The Love goes beyond mere feeling (interest and concern); The Agape is manifest by positive action which seeks the highest good of another; even though this may call from some sacrifice after the example of our Lord; an absence of this positive action is hateful; and, finally, such non-action places on outside of God's own agape.
Almost without exception The Agape is in the context of charity and hospitality. (3 John 5, 6) The disciple James describes the same circumstances above in 1 John but in the context of faith and works. Consider this at James 2:8, 15-17; 4:17: "You must love your neighbor as yourself. ... Now should a (Christian) brother or sister lack the proper clothing and daily nourishment, and yet someone among your Christian community tells them: 'Peace to you! Now leave and find warmth and food!' -- and you Christians refuse to provide them with what their bodies need -- who does it benefit? So also conviction without charitable works is completely dead. ... So, if someone knows how to do good but does not perform, it is their sin." In both verses we become aware that without interest, concern, and positive action we cannot remain in God's love and our faith is dead.
The Agape may be shown in another way. Consider the example of our Lord in Mark 10:17-22. A Jewish man rushes toward the Nazarene and falls on his knees and then begs to know what he need do to inherit everlasting life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments and then lists several from the Ten Commandments. The fellow states that he has been keeping all these from his youth. Now the account states: "But having looked upon him [INTEREST], Jesus loved [EGAPESEN] him." [CONCERN] (Mark 10:21) But, here in this Jew's case Jesus sought his highest good by giving him what he really need: spiritual advice. The Nazarene told him: "You lack one single thing: Go and sell your possessions and give to the poor -- then you will have heavenly treasure -- and after doing this then come and follow me." (Mark 1:21) So, one may demonstrate agape in both material and spiritual ways.
We do well as Christians and fellow members in the Nazarene Community of Friends to strive every day to become a more loving person by INTEREST IN OTHERS, CONCERN FOR OTHERS, AND POSITIVE ACTION SEEKING THE HIGHEST GOOD OF OTHERS. Paul makes this appeal to a congregation known for its love:
[AGAPEN] for one another. Do nothing motivated by contention or egotism. Rather be humble with one another, always considering that others are your superiors. Do not just show interest in your own affairs, but be concerned about other people." (Philippians 2:2-4)
"Make me completely happy by minding one thing: Hold this one thought -- continue demonstrating the same love
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In defending the position regarding an invisible parousia when the King Messiah returns, the following was offered. Please see a response from those who believe in a "visible" return of Christ.
INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: As in Bible study on all topics, each passage using 'see' or 'look' should be interpreted in harmony not only with its immediate context, but also in a way that does not conflict with other inspired testimony. 1 Tim. 6:14-16 bears on the intended meaning of Revelation 1:7. Whether it should be "his times" (about the manifestation of "our Lord Jesus Christ") or "its times" (see Marshall Interlinear, the times of "the appearing"), that which will be shown and identified is the same:
VISIBLE PAROUSIA: Without addressing "each passage using 'see' or 'look'" -- nor indicating the context of these verses -- an attempt is made to rely on one major text -- 1 Timothy 6:14-16 -- as proof that all these unstated verses are to be understood as referring to some symbolic seeing or mental discernment.
Before addressing 1 Timothy 6:14-16 we wish to comment on Revelation 1:7 mentioned in passing above. We have not employed Revelation 1:7 as proof of a visible return of King Messiah because we do not believe it is to be applied that way. We believe Revelation 1:7 -- "Look! (Jesus) is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him" -- amounts to a praise-hymn combining two texts: Daniel 7:13 and Theodotion's version of the Septuagint at Zechariah 12:10. Compare John's own application at John 19:37.
INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: "The blessed and only Potentate, the King of the [ones] reigning and Lord of the [ones] ruling, the only [one] having immortality, inhabiting light unapproachable, whom no one of men saw nor can see,"<>
VISIBLE PAROUSIA: 1 Timothy 6:16 presents an interesting problem. Indeed, two problems: a) to whom is the verse addressed; and, b) how are some of the phrases to be understood. It is be no means "clear and simple." The contextual phrase begins in 1 Timothy 6:13, "I am laying a charge upon you -- in the sight of The God (the One generating alive everything) and of Christ Jesus (the one who testified a fine confession before Pontious Pilate) -- to observe the commandment, spotless and irreprehensible, until the Appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Timothy 6:13-15)
In these verses there are two persons: a) The God; and, b) Jesus Christ. Now one of these will one day Appear and he is identified as Jesus Christ. The word Appearing comes from the Greek EPI-PHANEIAS and is used often with regard to those appearances after his resurrection (John 21:1) and that future Appearing identified with his Parousia. (2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8; 1 John 2:28-3:2) This word is variously rendered: KJV: appearing; MOF: appearance; RHM: forthshining; NOR: until our Lord Jesus Christ shall make his appearance. From this it seems clear of the two persons mentioned above one is going to make an appearance.
Now, in 1 Timothy 6:15 one of these two is described: " ... which (Appearing) the Happy and Only Potentate [MOF: only Sovereign] -- the King of those ruling as kings and Lord of those ruling as lords (the one alone possessing immorality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no one among men saw nor is able to see) -- will show [NASB: will bring about; NEB: will bring to pass; PME: the final denouement of God] at his own appointed times." Now brother Rice suggests this "Happy and Only Potentate" is Jesus Christ. Note the following:
INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: ... is Jesus Christ our Lord. ("Kings" and "lords" used in this passage are words differently numbered, with different meanings, than those plurals used in Revelation 17:4 and 19:16). All other kings reigning and lords ruling are human fleshly potentates or fictional deities of human imagination, and thus all lacking eternal life. The Father is here excepted (otherwise the comparison implies that Jesus lacks immortality). Jesus is he of whom the Apostle affirms "no one of men ... can see."
VISIBLE PAROUSIA: The context has suggested that one of the two persons named will Appear. This would infer that the "Only Potentate" is God Himself and some translations capitalize He and Him to indicate this. Is The God of our Lord the "only Potentate" in the absolute sense? The Greek is MONOS DYNASTE and is no where ever applied to Jesus Christ.
It is true the title "King of kings and Lord of lords" is used of Jesus as shown above. However, the title in Timothy is slightly different: "The King of those ruling as kings and the Lord of those ruling as lords." Yehowah is described in a similar fashion in Deuteronomy 10:17. Judging from Psalm 110:1 and Revelation 11:15 the Father is King and Lord of Jesus Christ. (Psalm 136:3)
That it is not actually clear that these phrase refer to Jesus is shown by the rendering in the New Jerusalem Bible: " .. who at the due time will be revealed by God, the blessed and only Ruler of all, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal, whose home is in inaccessible light, whom no human being has seen or is able to see: to him be honour and everlasting power. Amen."
There a couple of interesting problems, however. First, in what way is The God "the only one having immortality"? This is cleared up if we view the "kings" and "lords" as human kings and lords. If we change the meaning to fit Jesus we still have the same problem. For if Jesus "is the only one having immorality" then we leave out God. So in either case the kings and lords must be viewed as those lesser than divine. For Paul makes it clear that both The God and the Risen Christ possess immortality.
Next, is it true that the Risen Lord can be characterized by the phrase, "no one among men saw nor is able to see"? How could Paul himself make such a statement applying to Jesus when he himself claims: "Have I not seen our Lord?" (1 Corinthians 9:1) Did not Paul also stated that others saw the Risen Lord? (1 Corinthians 15:6-8)
Now can it be said regarding The God of Jesus that "no one among men saw nor is able to see"? This is evident from Exodus 33:20, John 1:18, John 5:37, and 1 John 4:12.
Based on the above the "only Potentate" will Himself show the Appearing of Jesus Christ who must of that necessity be visible. Never is Jesus described as The God is in 1 Timothy 1:17, "King of the Ages, incorruptible, invisible, Only God -- honour and glory into the Ages of the Ages. Amen." Another occasion where Paul prays concerning God.
INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: To interpret "... every eye shall see him" (Revelation 1:7) to mean literal sight would be in direct conflict with 1 Timothy 6:14-16. I view that as clear, simple Bible teaching on the topic raised in Bro. Mark Miller's last post. If it is not so viewed by others, I shall continue to respect my dear devoted brethren in Christ.
VISIBLE PAROUSIA: To clarify matters here, as above, we would not apply Revelation 1:7 to the Return of Christ. However, if I were, as many do, it would in no way be "in direct conflict with 1 Timothy 6:14-16."
I suspect that others will see that this is not "clear, simple Bible teaching," but an attempt to use a text which is not applied to Jesus Christ as though it were. JWs follow the same line of reasoning.
INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: If that seems insufficient, there are other clear but less explicit apostolic teachings to the same effect:
"Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2) To me that says that those who will see Jesus as the immortal glorified spirit being will be like him, that is, of the same spirit nature, and probably above the angels. If His present spiritual brethren must be like Him in order to see Him as He is, reason suggests that any who are not like Him, but still under condemnation through sin and death, surely would not see Him. I understand that is clear, simple Bible teaching.
VISIBLE PAROUSIA: This text in 1 John 3:2 is interestingly applied by some to God and not Jesus. We believe it does apply to Jesus as John's normal use of PHANEROTHE is with regard to Jesus. However, John has just made the comment in the previous verses: "Now, little children, remain in (the Son) so that whenever he should be manifested we (Christians) might not be shamed from him IN HIS PRESENCE [Greek: ev te parousia autou; compare 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13]." We would understand this to mean an appearance before the Lord for judgment as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10. (Compare also 1 John 4:17.) "In his presence" the Saints will finally see him as he really exists within the celestial realms.
INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: Perhaps there is further testimony that will be helpful. "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though [if indeed] we have known Christ after [according to] the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." Since Jesus never lived to the flesh, or according to fleshly interests, I understand the reference to flesh refers to His nature as God's son living in the earth in a flesh and blood body. If we His faithful followers are to know him in flesh ever again henceforth no more, it is not with reason that any could say that Jesus will be seen again by the unbelieving world. I consider this clear, simple Bible teaching. It would not surprise me if all you dear brethren would also so consider it.
VISIBLE PAROUSIA: It is unclear why this text would be resorted to since we would essentially agree that neither we nor mankind will ever know Christ after the flesh now. His flesh and blood he sacrificed once for all.
That Jesus will not be "seen again by the unbelieving world" is made clear and simple by the Nazarene himself: "Then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves (in grief) and they will see [Greek: OPSONTAI] the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of the Sky with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27) Can anyone reasonable argue that the Lord does not state that he as the Son of Man will be seen by all the grieving tribes of earth? It plainly says they will.
However, what will they "see"? (Perhaps another topic for another time?)
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SECOND PETER: The Bible book Second Peter has been translated in the 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures. Like the other Bible books available on the Friends of the Nazarene web page it comes in two renderings: a paraphrase and a literal version with 163 footnotes on the later. It is available as an Adobe download and as an email version in several formats. The 21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures now include Matthew, John (chapter 1), Ephesians, and First John.
PROPOSED CD-ROM: The construction of Nazarene Commentary CD-ROM is presently in the works. Generally it will include all the material on the Friends of the Nazarene web page with some other material. This would include Nazarene Commandments, Nazarene Community, Nazarene Principles, Nazarene Apocalypse, all the main articles in over two years of the Friends of the Nazarene on-line magazine and other articles. These are being prepared with an internal search engine for ease of research and a wide number of subjects.
NEXT BOOK OF THE BIBLE: Currently Second Thessalonians is in the works.
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[The following is taken from Nazarene Apocalypse, a comprehensive commentary on the Book of Revelation.]
#471. Many teach that the general resurrection will occur during this 1,000 Years. However, read for yourself Revelation 20:5-15 and ask, What is the sequence of events involving the 1,000 Years? Are there not two resurrections? One of the Saints, the First Resurrection, before the 1,000 Years begin; and, a second or last resurrection after the 1,000 Years have ended. Indeed, this last resurrection occurs after the Devil is destroyed, for "death" is "the last enemy," not Satan. (1 Corinthians 15:26) These billions of mankind who "died in Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:20, 21) are raised to their Judgment Day as described in Revelation 20:12-14. They are then judged on the basis of their works in their former life on earth. Can you find any phrase in these verses, or anywhere in the Bible for that matter, where the Bible describes a resurrection during the 1,000 Years?
#472. What will happen to these "nations" alive at the beginning of the Thousand Years? Or, we might ask, first, what will not happen to them? They will no longer be misled by the Devil. (Revelation 20:3) However, other than these verses here in the Apocalypse there is only one other portion of Scripture which might directly answer this question. It is Isaiah chapter 65, verses 17 to 21: 'For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. ... No more will there come to be a suckling a few days old from that place, neither an old man that does not fulfill his days; for one will die as a mere boy, although a hundred years of age; and as for the sinner, although a hundred years of age he will have evil called down upon him.' (NWT) This prophecy may indicate that during this period there will be successive generations. Do not these verses indicate there will be death and even sinners during the Thousand Years? Evidently, then, the Thousand Years is a period of judgment by the glorified Church and the Lamb on those living in successive generation on earth. The "sinner" will have a curse called down upon them, likely the Second Death. This is inferred in the prophet Zechariah 14:17-19 when those who refuse to obey God will have those previous plagues befall them.
#473. Revelation 20:4, 6 state only the resurrected Saints are free of the Second Death's authority. Does that mean that others are still subject to the Second Death during the Thousand Years? Judging from Isaiah and Zechariah it would appear so.
#474. The Apocalypse does not give a complete description of life on earth during the Thousand Years leaving it to our imaginations. Many texts are often brought to bear on this subject but generally these are taken out of contexts dealing with the restoration of Israel. (Isaiah chapters 11, 32-36) However, one thing is sure: Messiah with his Church reign without any interference from demonic influence, for Satan is out of commission. That alone should make for a true New Heaven and New Earth. Further descriptions in chapters 21 and 22 give indications as to life on earth during the Thousand Years.
#475. Skipping quickly over the Thousand Years, the Apocalypse describes what happens at the end. The Devil is released from his prison and there is a brief period of misleading some living when the Thousand Years end. According to the Apocalypse the Devil is successful and a great number under his influence try to make an attack on the New Jerusalem. This does not succeed because fire descends from heaven (or, sky) and destroys the opposers. The Devil is specifically described as being thrown into the Second Death, but the misled nations are not. Possibly they are also resurrected shortly to stand with the rest of mankind in their own judgment.
#476. Only after the Devil is destroyed forever is there a vision of Judgment Day for all those who have died, whether they disappeared in the sea or were buried in Hades, or in some other way finished their life in Death. They have their day of appearing before the Throne of the Messiah to give an account for their words and deeds when alive on earth. A word search on the subjects of judg(ment) will reveal what the writers of the Christian Bible had to say on this subject. We provide many of these texts here and you judge what will be the basis for this judgment.
#477. Matthew 12:31-32, 35-37, 41: 'On this account I say to you, Every sort of sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven. For example, whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the holy spirit, it will not be forgiven him, no, not in this system of things nor in that to come. ... The good man out of his good treasure sends out good things, whereas the wicked man out of his wicked treasure sends out wicked things. I tell you that every unprofitable saying that men speak, they will render an account concerning it on Judgment Day; for by your words you will be declared righteous, and by your words you will be condemned. ... Men of Nin'e·veh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because they repented at what Jo'nah preached. The queen of the south will be raised up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Sol'o·mon, but, look! something more than Sol'o·mon is here.'
#478. John 3.19-21; 12.30, 31, 48: 'Now this is the basis for judgment, that the light has come into the world but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For he that practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, in order that his works may not be reproved. But he that does what is true comes to the light, in order that his works may be made manifest as having been worked in harmony with God. ... Now there is a judging of this world. ... He that disregards me and does not receive my sayings has one to judge him. The word that I have spoken is what will judge him in the last day.'
#479. Romans 2:1-2, 5-6, 15, 16: 'Now we know that the judgment of God is, in accord with truth, against those who practice such things. ... on the day of wrath and of the revealing of God's righteous judgment. And he will render to each one according to his works. ... They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them and, between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused. This will be in the day when God through Christ Jesus judges the secret things of mankind.'
#480. John 5:28-29: 'Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.'
#481. Acts 17:30-31: 'God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent. Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.'
#482. Romans 14.10-12: 'For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written: "As I live," says Jehovah, 'to me every knee will bend down, and every tongue will make open acknowledgment to God." So, then, each of us will render an account for himself to God.'
#483. These make it clear that mankind is judged on their works in their previous life. What kind of world on earth does God want? He requires but three things: a) that God become everything to everyone (1 Corinthians 15:24-28), that is, the center of their lives, for that is only reasonable as products of the Creator; b) they acknowledge that "Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:9-11; 1 John 3:23); and, c) that they love one another and seek not their own interests. (1 John 3:23)
#484. Imagine for a moment Day One on earth as the "day of eternity" begins. (2 Peter 3:18) The billions alive on earth all believe that "God is everything to everyone." They are all Christians who acknowledge their Lord is Jesus Christ. And, they all have the loving interest of others in mind. In other words, they are all willing to become Christ and behave like Christ in their daily lives. What could this kind of world become? Not just from the standpoint of science, the arts, and the humanities, but in human conduct toward one another? Imagine such a world! Nothing will be impossible for such a world! Whatever the human imagination can create, not only on earth, but surely anywhere within the material universe where humankind seems to have a magnetic urge. But, now, on to the final, uplifting chapters of the Apocalypse. These were written to encourage the Nazarene Saints throughout the ages down to the year 2,000 and beyond.
Concluding note: For a moment let us assume it was God's purpose to raise all the dead during the Thousand Years. The Thousand Years is only mentioned in one chapter of the Bible -- Revelation 20. Where in this chapter does God state His purpose of raising mankind during the Thousand Years? Does it seem fair that if that were God's will He might state so here where opportunity clearly affords? Not only does God not state, "the rest of the dead were resurrected during the Thousand Years," He seems to inspire a verse which states exactly the opposite. Also the flow of the context agrees with the straight forward statement of Revelation 20:5 by showing mankind is resurrected to judgment following the end of the Thousand Years. (For more details on Revelation 20:4-15 see the verses with some footnotes below. The entire publication Nazarene Apocalypse may be downloaded at the Friends of the Nazarene web page or by obtaining the Nazarene Commentary CD-ROM.)
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thronesa<> and those who sat down on them.
Power of judgmentb<> was given to them. These are the souls who had been executed with the axc because of the Word of The God and the Testimony of Jesus. They had not worshipped the wild Sea Beast nor its Image. They did not accept the engraving upon their forehead or their hand. They came to life
and reigns with the Messiah for the 1,000 Years. Revelation 20:6 This is the Firstd Resurrection. Happy and holy are those sharing in the First Resurrection! Over these the Second Deathe has no authority. They will be priestsf<> of The God and the Messiah and they will reign with him for the 1,000 Years.
aTHRONES. Compare Matthew 19:8; Daniel 7:27; Revelation 3:21.
bJUDGMENT. This Greek phrase kai krima edothe autois is a strong echo of Daniel 7:22 and may mean a judgment in their favor. Compare 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3.
cAX. The phrase is the same as that of Revelation 6:9. There seem two groups here: that one of Revelation 6:9-11 who were the martyrs; and, those contemporary with the wild Sea Beast and the Return of Christ. Compare Revelation 13:9, 11 and Revelation 15:2. In affect the ancient Christians of the Church Age and those of Paul' "we the living." (1 Thessalonians 4.16, 17)
dFIRST RESURRECTION. And, therefore, there must be a second or last. Compare Philippians 3:11 with 1 Thessalonians 4.15-17. 1 Corinthians 15.23 has two basic resurrections (after Christ): a) Christians at the Return of Christ; and, b) everyone else. (Acts 24:15; John 5:28, 29; Hebrews 9:27) Note in 1 Corinthians 15:22 the Greek word zoopoiethesontai which is related to John's ezesan. ( = "made alive")
eSECOND DEATH. That is eternal destruction. This suggests, though it may not be authorized over the glorified Saints, it still stands ready for use against any during the 1,000 Years or those who are later found not to be inscribed in the Lamb's Book of Life. (Revelation 20:13-15; compare Isaiah 65:20-22)
fPRIESTS. Compare Isaiah 61:6; 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6; .10. The glorified Saints have two functions during the 1,000 Years: priests and kings. They fulfill those functions over those "nations" no longer misled by the Devil during the 1,000 Years, evidently throughout successive generations. (Isaiah 65:20-27) This duty as "priest" must relate to worship, sin-bearing, and education. It is possible they are also "judges" if verse 4 is shown to be different from Daniel 7:22.
Revelation 20:5 The rest of the Deada<> did not come to life until the 1,000 Years ended.b Revelation 20:7 And when the 1,000 Years end The Satan will be loosed from his prison. Revelation 20:8 He will go forth to make the nations err,c those in the four corners of the earth, The Gog and Magog. He will gather them for war. Their numberd is as the sand of the sea. Revelation 20:9 They rose over the breadth of the earth and encircled the encampmente of the Saints and the beloved City.f<> Then fire descended out of Heaven and devoured them. Revelation 20:10 The Devil who was making these nations err was thrown into the Lake of Fire and sulfur. This is where the wild Sea Beast and the False Prophet are. They will be tormented day and night into the Ages of the Ages. Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great White Throne.g Heaven and earthh fled from before the face of the One sitting upon the Throne and no place was found for them. Revelation 20:12 Then I saw the Dead,i the great and the small, standing in sight of the (white) Throne. Little Booksj were opened and another Little Book was opened, the Book of Life.k <>The Dead were judgedl out of the things written in the Little Books, according to their works. Revelation 20:13 The Sea gave up its dead and The Deathm and the Hades gave upn their dead. They were all judged according to their works.o Revelation 20:14 Then The Death and the Hadesp were hurled into the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20:15 Also, if any were not found written in the Book of Life, they were hurled into the Lake of Fire.
aTHE REST OF THE DEAD. As pointed out above this must mean "not resurrected" as those not Saints are raised in the Last Resurrection prior to the Last Judgment of Revelation 20:12-15. No where is there a text which would prove there is some ongoing resurrection during the 1,000 Years. Indeed, Isaiah 65:20-22 may indicate "death" occurs during Messiah's reign. Compare Revelation 20:5 with 1 Corinthians 15:24 where telos is used. Here the Greek telesthe is related. Note Daniel 12:13 LXX synteleian (form of telos) when Daniel is to stand up, be raised, or resurrected.
bEND. The Greek telesthe is related to Paul's ho telos at 1 Corinthians 15:24 where he infers the resurrection of "all" those other than they "who are of Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:23)
cERR. Right back to what he was doing before in Revelation 12.10. By this time, after 1,000 years of kingdom control with successive generations living 100 years (Isaiah 65:20-22) under royal Messianic conditions earth's population must be considerable.
dNUMBER. A Hebraic phrase which indicates an unknown number as in the case of the millions of Abraham's seed. (Genesis 22:17; 32:12; 41:49)
eENCAMPMENT. In Greek this may be a temporary army bivouac. See word studies on parembolen and compare Hebrews 13:11, 13 where paremoles is used. It may suggest a temporary position with regard to the Saints and the earth. Note Zechariah 9:8 and Yahweh's defense of His house.
fCITY. The fact that these hordes can surround the Holy City gives further indication the golden Cubic City has settled down upon the earth proper where it has ruled for the 1,000 Years. Since the next phrase shows fire coming down out of heaven, this City is truly resting on its foundations on earth and its dimensions, though great, are limited and capable of being encircled. Note the cycloumenen of Luke 21:20 with the ecycleusan here. That the City is "upon" the earth may be proved by the epi at Revelation 5:10.
gA THRONE. This must be different throne from that of Revelation 4:1 because the article is absent and suggests another throne. God has committed all the judging to the Son (John 5:22) so this must be the Judgment Throne of Messiah at the Last Judgment on what Jesus called "the Last Day." (John 6:39, 44, 54)
hHEAVEN AND EARTH. There are a variety of views, some holding to the literal heaven (the starry universe) and earth. A study of the search groups "heaven" (Ephesians 6:12) and "earth" may indicate that celestial realm of the Devil as well as his domain, his "earth." Compare 2 Peter chapter 3. Here, in this context, those demonic heavens over which the Devil resumed his rule are gone, as are those on earth who were misled.
iTHE DEAD. Of course, not including those of Revelation 20:4. These are the "dead" of Revelation 20:5. Paul teaches "all" the dead from Adam will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22) and judged (Acts 17:31; Hebrews 9:27) When there are these judgments it is always of the "living and the dead." (Ruth 2:20; Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 4:8) At the parousia-Judgment, following the Return of the Master, it is those dead Saints as well as "we the living" of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. At the Last or final judgment there will be those "nations" still alive at the end of the 1,000 Years and those dead resurrected.
jBOOKS. By comparing Daniel 7:10 these seem to be those records of personal human activity; that is, the "logs" of the Almighty. The Nazarene teaches, 'I tell you that every unprofitable saying that men speak, they will render an account concerning it on Judgment Day; for by your words you will be declared righteous, and by your words you will be condemned.' (Matthew 12:36, 37 NWT) In order for this to happen there must be some record.
kBOOK OF LIFE. Compare Daniel 12:1; Malachi 3:16; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5. The Saints were inscribed in this Book and those who accepted the mark of the Beast and worshipped the Image are not. Neither are those who are eternally judged (Hebrews 6:1-3) or condemned at the end of the 1,000 Years.
lJUDGED. Compare a word search on the group "judg(ment)" and related words, like "recompense" and "award" or "reward." From these six dozen occurrences it appears all persons are going to be judged on the basis of their lives on earth and now they give an accounting and receive their judgment. Mankind gets only once chance during life on earth. it is brief and quickly over. But, those attitudes, speech and actions toward others will be remembered by the "Judge of the whole earth." (Genesis 18:25) Included in these are those sins of omission which one fails to tender kindness to someone deserving.
mDEATH. This is an abstraction for that death inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22) Here "the last enemy is destroyed (or rendered ineffective KIT)" (1 Corinthians 15.24-26) The only death authorized during the 1,000 Years and after is the Second Death. (Revelation 20:6, 15) Jesus must hint of this protection from the Second Death regarding the Saints when he says, 'Neither can they die any more.' (Luke 20:36) If his words apply to the "first resurrection" then death still continues during the 1,000 Years upon those successive generations of "nations" no longer misled by the Devil. This Death is destroyed when the last one comes out to Judgment.
nGAVE UP. This would equal a resurrection in which Christ renders death ineffective. (1 Corinthians 15:25, 26 KIT) Those who have become victims of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and entered Hades, or Death, will come out to their judgment. (Hebrews 6:2; Hebrews 9:27)
oWORKS. Individual works in their life times. Compare Matthew 12:32, 36, 37, 41, 42; Matthew 16:27; Mark 8:38; John 5:28, 29; John 12:48; Romans 14:10, 11; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
pHADES. See word studies on the Greek hades. This is the place of the dead, the grave. When "all" come out of the tombs (John 5:.28, 29) Hades will no longer exist even as Death has been rendered ineffective. (1 Corinthians 15:26 KIT)
Addendum: Some of those who believe the general resurrection of mankind will occur during the Thousand Years reject Revelation 20:5. They argue the verse is not found in some manuscripts. If this line is pursued it suggests that they agree what Revelation 20:5 seems to say: the rest of the dead are not resurrected until the end of the Thousand Years. It is true some manuscripts omit verse 5: Codex Alexandrinus (5th century); Vulgate (5th century); Codex Sinaiticus (4th century); Syriac Peshitta (5th century). However, there are more recent manuscripts. The older manuscripts do not omit the verse. [NOTE: Received Text = ouk an-ezesan = live not again; Westcott and Hort = ouk ezesan = NOT LIVED; Byzantine Majority Text = ouk ezesan = not lived; Latin Vulgate = ceteri mortuorum non vixerunt donec consummentur mille anni haec est resurrectio prima; Nestle-Aland = ouk ezesan.]
"The rest of the dead lived not until the end of the thousand years. The sublime faith of the martyrs pervades the saints during this period, and other men, wicked or less noble, sleep in silence, unseen and unknown, without influence upon the earth, until the millennial period is ended." [B. W. Johnson, The People's New Testament (1891) ]
[NOTE: the view presented in the above article is one of many held by different Christians. The material is not meant to mean it is the only view.]
==== END ====
"You cannot serve two masters!"<>
The crowd was so huge that a report states: "They were stepping upon one another there were so many thousands." Why were they gathered? Who had they come to see or hear? What did this Jewish Rabbi have to say that so many thousands would assemble? At first the speaker could not be heard because he spoke only to a close circle of friends.
Finally a lone individual in the crowd of thousands raised his voice against the throng: "Teacher, tell my brother to share his inheritance with me!" What an unusual thing to shout in the middle of such a multitude. His sincere request must have quieted the throng. They settle down to hear what the answer might be.
After a long pause to let the thousands to settle down, the one single person they came to hear, spoke so as to be heard by all: "Man, no one appointed me as your judge! However -- All of you here, watch out and be on guard against every kind of greed!"<> What an amazing response! Surely the man who asked for the favor, as well as all those around him, must have shrugged and questioned one another.
A doctor received the eyewitness report on what happened next. The physician recorded
it in what is called the Gospel of Luke in chapter 12, verses 13-53 when he recounted the
life of one Jesus of Nazareth. But, we, two thousand years later, are interested in the
reason for the answer given. Can what follows help us today? Let us continue to read the
good doctor's account. He has the Nazarene explaining:
But, what does the Nazarene mean by this? Many then, and many today, would argue there is no life without possessions. Indeed the Capitalist West -- as well as most cultures -- are based on the drive for more in riches and possessions. Indeed, though three thousand years have passed the words of the ancient sage are still true: "A person who loves money will never be satisfied with money. Nor, will a person who loves affluence ever be satisfied with their earnings." (Ecclesiastes 5:10) In contrast, one famous line in a contemporary motion picture film has the protagonist stating: "GREED IS GOOD!"
Before we examine the Nazarene Rabbi's complete answer we pause to examine this word "greed." In Latin it is cupidatis after the lovely little angel Cupid. In Greek it is pleonexias. It is often translated "covetousness." The Greek word comes from two roots -- much + have. It means the desire to have more.
Now this is a common -- almost natural -- human characteristic -- the wish or desire to have more of something. The Ten Commandments warned about certain dangers with this desire when God Himself wrote the words of the last commandment (here presented according to the Jewish Greek version (LXX) --
"You should never overly-desire (epi-thymeseis) your neighbor's wife. You should never overly-desire (epi-thymeseis) your neighbor's house. Nor his field, nor his boy-servant, nor his girl-servant, nor his ox, nor any of his animals, nor anything that belongs to your neighbor."
So, the warning of Jesus is this: "Always remain alert and on guard against any desire for more. Because even after you possess an abundance of things your Real Life does not depend on these things."
Illustrating the Danger of Greed
The Nazarene Rabbi continues with a parable to illustrate his moral about greed. This is recorded for our own benefit so many centuries later in Luke 12:16-21. If we claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ we read these words with the greatest care, having already been warn to be alert and on guard. Jesus told the thousands, but must have looked directly at the one who raised the question in the first place:
A rich man's farm was very productive. However, he began to ask himself: "Now what am I going to do with all this produce?" So he concluded: "Here is what I will do -- I will tear down my granary silos and construct much bigger ones. Then I will have room to harvest all this crop as my possessions. Then I will tell myself: I have enough laid up for years. Now is the time to retire -- live a life of ease, eating and drinking well and completely enjoying myself."
We pause here because if we read this as a strict capitalists this parable makes good sense. Coming from the egotistic-empowered West we are missing a single word repeated several times. Can you find it? Note the personal pronouns "I" and "my" which occur about 8 times. Can you tell where this is leading? Can you tell what is fundamentally wrong? Now for the kicker:
However The God spoke to him, "You stupid man -- tonight you will die! Now who will have all these things you saved?" Now that is the situation of the person who saves for self but is not rich in God."
Now our rich farmer has left two things out of his self-satisfied equation: God and others. Not once has he mentioned God or how he might be of help to the needy. Thus, God calls him a fool or stupid for missing true realities --- God is his Maker and he is not alone on this planet.
Now there is a change of focus. We do not hear from the original voice who asked the question about his inheritance. Jesus turns from the crowd of thousands and again speaks directly to his own apostles. He tells them not to be overly-concerned about the needs of the human soul -- the physical body. He points to the birds and the flowers to demonstrate God's care for these temporary things. He tells them, "Surely you are more valuable than ravens?"<> Then the Nazarene concludes, speaking only to his disciples: "Continue seeking His Kingdom and all these necessities will be given to you." (Luke 12:22-31)
It is now the Nazarene rabbi says a shocking thing to these apostles made up of at least four fishermen and a tax-collector. It is to disturb Christians for two thousand years. Listen as they must have: "Do not be fearful, little flock, because your Father has thought well enough of you to give to you the Kingdom. You, sell everything you own, and give gifts of charity. ... Because whatever your treasure is --- there is where your heart will be."<> (Luke 12:32-34) It is not unfair to conclude that up to this moment Jesus' own disciples still owned their possessions. We are most curious as to what they will do.
A few days later another situation develops which brings up this same subject. It is recorded in Luke 18:18-28. A Jewish elder of the people, evidently well-off, asked what was necessary to gain everlasting life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments but the elder said he had observed them all from his youth. What Jesus is to tell him probably would cause the same reaction today among multitudes of Christians. Note what the Nazarene says: "You only lack one single thing: Sell everything you have and give to the poor. Then you will have celestial treasure. After doing this -- then become my follower."<> We are told the man began to depart -- "very much grieved for he was very rich." (Luke 12:18-23)
However, that is not the end of the matter, for before departing Jesus looked at the devastated man: (We imagine Jesus' expression fixed on the man's eyes.)
"It is so very difficult for those with money to enter God's Kingdom! Really, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to gain entry in God's Kingdom!"<> Some of those listening asked: "Who can possibly be saved then?" Jesus told them: "With humans it is impossible. With God anything is possible."<> (Luke 18:24-27)
We are very much interested in the response of Jesus' own disciples. Peter speaks for all of them: "Look, we have left everything and followed you!" But there is a difference between "leaving" something and "selling" something. Thanks to the apostle John we see this after the resurrection of Jesus.
After several manifestations of the Lord he finds his apostles fishing in their boats. They have fished all night and caught nothing. At dawn a stranger calls from the shore, "Little boys, do you have anything to eat?" They yelled back across the water, "No!" Then the stranger suggest something very strange: "Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will catch something!" For some reason these fisherman follow the ludicrous idea and to their amazement the latter count of the fish would be exactly 153! It is then they realize it is the risen Lord.
Gathered on the beach, probably with the pile of fish laid out on the sand, the miracle-working stranger provides them with breakfast. Jesus then asks Peter, likely gesturing toward the catch of fish, and maybe the boats and the nets: "Do you love me more than these?" (John 21:15) Though spoken to Peter it is possible the question is directed to all seven present.
This question has puzzled many Bible students. What is the possible meaning and the reason for the question. Is it possible these men, though having "left" their possessions to follow Jesus as Peter had earlier claimed, had not actually followed through upon Jesus' instructions to his "little flock"? Jesus had told them, "Sell your possessions and give charitable gifts to the poor." (Luke 12:33; 18:22, 28) Here, only a few days after his death, they have returned to their fishing business. The fact that they could may indicate they still had their boats and all the other fishing equipment needed. Thus, "Do you love me more than then these," pointing to the miraculous catch of fish and the fishing business.
Jesus and the disciples had come full circle. The Nazarene had begun his ministry when he told some of these same men: "You will become fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19) And here we find them cowering in fear, and not knowing what else to do, they return to their fishing business. The shame of such a thing must have dropped on them like a huge rock: there was their Lord on the beach with a little charcoal fire and breakfast enough for all.
We put ourselves in their place. We have been clearly instructed to "sell all" and share with the poor. We have seen another example of this need to unburden oneself and share with the poor in the case of the Jewish ruler. We have heard one of our number claim we had left everything. And, that was not completely accurate. We trusted in our own secular efforts and came up empty. And, here the poorest man to walk the earth is sharing his breakfast with us! Now, what will we do? (2 Corinthians 8:9)
The Apostolic Example
Fortunately for us the historical record has been preserved. We now know what these united apostles must have done shortly thereafter. We read the account in the Good Doctor's report:
And all the believers kept together, and had everything in common. They sold their lands and other property, and distributed the proceeds among all, according to every one's necessities. ... Among all those who had embraced the faith there was but one heart and soul, so that none of them claimed any of his possessions as his own, but everything they had was common property; while the Apostles with great force of conviction delivered their testimony as to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all. And, in fact, there was not a needy man among them, for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the money which they realized, and gave it to the Apostles, and distribution was made to every one according to his wants. In this way Joseph, whom the Apostles gave the name of Bar-nabas--signifying Son of Encouragement -- a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a farm which he had, and brought the money and gave it to the Apostles. (Acts 2:44, 45; 4:32-37 Weymouth)
It seems fair to conclude that the Apostles had now set the example. They also had sold their possessions and now the matter of giving and sharing was demonstrated to the poorest group in Jerusalem: the Christians themselves. Truly they had listened to Jesus' warning: "Be alert and on guard against every kind of greed." But, what did the apostles do with the money?
We have no need to worry or be skeptically critical. For a couple of reasons: first, we find in chapter 6 of Acts that, despite some initial problems, the weakest among them, the widows, were being cared for. (Acts 6:1-7; James 1:27) Second, the most zealous Christian missionary of all is to write later: "God, it seems to me, has exhibited us Apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; for we have come to be a spectacle to all creation--alike to angels and to men. We, for Christ's sake, are labeled as foolish. ...To this very moment we endure both hunger and thirst, with scanty clothing and many a blow. Homes we have none. Wearily we toil, working with our own hands." (1 Corinthians 4:9-12 Weymouth)
The Seriousness of Greed
Paul gives several commands and warnings about greedy or covetous Christians. Note this in the following:
(1 Corinthians 5:9-13; Deuteronomy 17:7) "Or do you not realize that unrighteous persons will never share a lot in the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. ... Greedy Christians who covet more ... will never share a lot in the Kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) "Do not even discuss or mention (for such talk is disgraceful) ... greediness ... For you are completely aware that no ... idolatrous greedy person will ever inherit the royal government of Christ and God." (Ephesians 5:3-5 NR; compare Phillips Modern English: " ... the itch to get your hands on what belongs to other people.")
"In my earlier epistle to you I wrote you to stop socializing with any Christian who is ... a greedy person who covets more ... not even sharing a meal with such a person. ... 'Remove the wicked person from among yourselves.'"
It is clear that the desire to have more possessions is something the Christian needs to be on guard against as our Lord warned. The person in the Nazarene's audience who requested Jesus settle his problem with his brother may well have had a sincere and genuine request. He may have had a proper right to his share of the inheritance. However, even given this, Jesus cautions us regarding greed, covetousness or the desire to possess more. It is not necessarily wrong in itself. Rather, the danger lies in the wicked doors which are opened by the love of money or the possession of things.
Paul tells Timothy to charge the rich, not to divest themselves of their wealth, but in essence, to "be on guard against every kind of greed." Note how Paul words this:
(1 Timothy 6:9-11, 17-19)
"But those Christians who wish to have the surplus of the rich stumble into a tempting snare, leading to many stupid and painful envies, sinking into the dark depths of bankruptcy and destruction. Because a fondness for silver is at the root of all kinds of misfortune. Those Christians who have tried to grab more silver have many self-inflicted wounds. But, you (Timothy), O man of God, flee from these things. ... Lay this charge on those Christians rich in this current period: Do not be arrogant or self-absorbed. Rather put their hope and trust -- not in illusory wealth -- but in the One who provides us abundantly everything we need to satisfy us, God. (Charge the rich) to continue working at goodness, to be rich in good works, to be charitable, ready to share in common, putting into their savings an excellent foundation for the future so that they may receive the Real Life."
Modern Warnings Against Greed
Peter and other inspired disciples foretold an apostasy from the original teachings of the Nazarene: greed would be one identifying characteristic. "Now just as there were false prophets among the people of Israel, just so there will also appear among you false teachers confidentially introducing destructive heresies. They will dispute the very teachings of the Master who purchased them. Thus, they will bring a quick and unexpected annihilation on themselves. Now many will join them and leave your number to follow their impure and destructive teachings. Because of this the real way of Truth will be spoken against with abuse. These false teachers will take advantage of you with words molded by greed. However, that ancient judgment is not without purpose and their destruction is not slumbering."
Just so there have come to be "prosperity preachers" proclaiming to Gospel of Success. They have rejected the teachings of the Savior above, rationalized and justified their rich life-style (so in contrast to Jesus and Paul) as evidence of God's blessing. They preach that Christians should "sow their seed" by giving to them so that they will in turn be blessed by God. These greedy preachers, Christian publishers, tele-evangelists, and others, enjoy life-styles in total contradiction to their supposed Lord, Jesus Christ. They have become like the angelic presbyter in ancient Laodicea of Revelation 3:16, 17: "Because you claim: 'I am rich and have become wealthy. I have no need for anything!' --- I am going to vomit you out of my mouth!" Surely it is possible that such modern prosperity evangelists -- with their Leer jets, luxury automobiles, prestige residences, expensive watches and diamond rings -- are in danger of being vomited out of the mouth of the Lamb.
Failure to be "on guard and alert to every kind of greed" can reduce a person to the level of an animal. This may be illustrated in a famous photograph of a starving Ethiopian child: too weak to move, his empty palm outstretched after a rich man who grabbed the child's food and left without a backward glance. We would not know this story unless the photojournalist had not witnessed this horrible display of greed. How will this rich man endure on Judgment Day?
Let every Christian pray to be "on guard against every kind of greed"!
==== END ====
Luke 17:20-24, 30-37 takes place some days before that account in Matthew 24:3-28. What the Nazarene is to teach is in response first to the Pharisees and their interest regarding "when the Kingdom of God would come." The account in Matthew 24:23-28 may be viewed by some as a parallel account on the same subject but worded and constructed differently. It would seem fair to conclude that the "coming of the Kingdom of God" is in Luke is the "Presence of the Son of Man." Consider the account in Luke: [The inserted letters a-k are guides to notes below.]
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come,a Jesus replied, "The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation [Greek = paratereseos = RSV: signs to be observed; WMS: visible display; WEY: does not come watch closely for it], nor will people say, `Here it is,' or `There it is,' because the kingdom of God has entered among you."b Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.c Men will tell you,d
`There he is!' or `Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning,e which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. ... It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealedf [Greek = apocalyptetai]. On that dayg no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot's wife!h Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that nighti two people will be in one bed; one will be takenj [Greek = para-lemphthesetai] and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken [Greek = para-lemphthesetai] and the other left. "Where, Lord?"k they asked. He replied, "Where there is a dead body <>[Greek = soma], there the vultures [Greek = aestoi = KJV: eagles; MOF, WEY: vultures] will gather."l (NIV)
a When the kingdom of God would come: The question is the coming [Greek = erchetai] or arrival of the Kingdom. This subject is to be raised again a sort time later, but still before the Olivet discourse. Note Luke 19:11, 12, "Because Jesus was approaching Jerusalem (a mixed group at Zacchaeus' home) were thinking that the Kingdom of The God would appear instantly. So, Jesus told them, 'A person of noble birth departed to a distant land to receive to himself a kingdom and then return.'" It would seem clear from this that the Nazarene's answer to the imminent appearance of the Kingdom of God would only occur after the nobleman (Jesus Christ) had departed and later returned to judge his household.
Matthew 25:19 is a repetition of this parable a few days later. There Jesus adds the phrase that the Lord "arrives [Greek = erchetai] after a long time." Combining the two accounts the nobleman leaves his household to travel to a distant land to receive a kingdom and then after a long time to return. That this period of absence would not be just a few decades is revealed in a study of Daniel chapter 7 where it is shown that Rome must be divided in two and then fragment into ten with an eleventh small power to rise and at some moment in history humiliate three of the original fragments by putting them down. Some would argue this process still continues to our own day.
b Because the kingdom of God has entered among you: Jesus possibly discerns that the Pharisees have an inaccurate understanding because now the Nazarene says the "kingdom" is already present among them. Some believe Jesus means two things: a) the King of Israel is walking among them; and, b) the opportunity of entering the realm of profession (the domain over which the King will reign) is already a possibility.
c You will not see it: Jesus now moves to an event he calls "one of the days of the Son of Man." This phrase seems to parallel that in Matthew, "the parousia of the Son of Man." What else can be learned from this other than Jesus tells his disciples and those in Zacchaeus' home that they will not live to see this parousia? This conclusion agrees with what Jesus is to say a bit later as we read in Luke 19:11, 12. The period of the Lord's absence is longer than the lifetime of those disciples.
d Men will tell you: Despite these truths the disciples are warned that during this long absence -- while he rules as king (1 Corinthians 15:23-25; Daniel 7:13, 14) -- they and others will be told that the returning King is here or there. A few days later Jesus is to use this phrase: "They will say to you: 'There Christ is here!' or, 'Look, Christ is in the desert," or, 'Look, Christ is in the bed-chamber!'" (Matthew 24:23-27) In Matthew Jesus continues to use language similar to that in Luke 17:24 employing the example of lightning.
It seems to some that the context is about seeing the returning Christ. These false prophets and pseudo-anointed claim it is a private appearance either in an isolated place like a wilderness, or in a personal appearance in someone's "inner chambers." This infers that only a select few would discern this secret arrival, or an appearance invisible to most.
e For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning: Jesus compares himself as the Son of Man to lightning. The context is about seeing something: whether the Son of Man will be revealed in a private and limited fashion, or in a highly visible manner seen by huge numbers of people.
That this visible revelation of the Son of Man is over a wide region -- horizon to horizon as it were -- Jesus amplifies what he means by lightning: "For just as the lightning flashes from beneath the sky and shines into another part beneath the sky, so the Son of Man will be." (Luke 17:24) Now a few days later Jesus will use the same example when discussing the parousia of the Son of Man. He changes his wording slightly (Matthew 24:27): "For as the lightning comes out of the east<> and shines to the west so will be at the Arrival of the Son of Man."
What may Jesus mean by "from east to west"? Some who have experience great lightning displays would understand this to mean "from horizon to horizon." Job 37:3 puts it this way, "Under the whole heavens he lets it loose, and his lightning is to the extremities of the earth." (NW) How far reaching this display of the Son of Man is later revealed to impress "all the tribes of the earth" as well affecting sky, land and sea spreading fear among mankind. (Luke 21:25, 26)
f On the day the Son of Man is revealed: The context of Jesus' statement about the horizon to horizon illumination deals with the apocalypse of the Son of Man. Surely this can be understood to be a parallel to the "parousia of the Son of Man"? Paul uses similar wording in his two letters to the Thessalonian congregation: (2 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8) "However, regarding the parousia of our Lord and our being gathered to him: ... You who are oppressed will experience relief together with us at the apocalypse of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his mighty angels in a flaming fire. ... And (the Lord) will annihilate the lawless by the appearing of his parousia." (On the word "lawless" compare Matthew 7:21-23, 13:41; 24:12.)
g On that day: This is the "day" of that brilliant illumination and it is no long period of years or even of some generation -- it is a day of less than 24 hours. So quick are the events that no Christian disciple is to rush back into the house to grab some item. The farmer will have no time to return to his house to gather or warn his own family.
h Remember Lot's wife: Lot's salvation and his wife's disaster occurred on one "day" as Jesus himself states. (Luke 17:29)
i On that night: In this context there is a night-time and day-light and yet the events occur quickly on one day. Some are sleeping and some are working. Such would be the case for at the apocalypse of Christ, like lightning from horizon to horizon, will be day on one side of the earth and night on the other. (Genesis 1:16) Indeed, the Nazarene stresses the fact that no one can know the timing of this "day and hour" (note not "year") by telling his disciples: "You do not know the appointed time ... whether (the Lord's coming) is in late afternoon, midnight, at cockcrowing, or early morning." (Mark 13:33, 35) This is less than a 24-hour period and would include both day and night. Thus the sleeping couple and the working couple.
j One will be taken: The Greek cannot be overlooked here for it has a bearing on where this and related words are used: paralemphthesetai. This may help us understand what Jesus means here where one of a couple is "taken" and the other left or abandoned.
First note the word paralempsomai in John 14:3,
The Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Volume 3, page 747ff explains these related words: "lambano, originally grasp, seize [editor: compare 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and harpagesometha] ... paralambano means to draw someone to oneself. ... Forms of the word (analambano) are used of the ascension of Christ in Acts 1:11 ... analempsis, lifting up high, being taken up in Luke 9:51 is generally interpreted of Christ's ascension. paralambano to take someone with oneself, to choose out from a large number. (John 14:3; Matthew 24:40)."
k Where, Lord?: The disciples now ask a question in relation to these persons being "taken along"? The question is not "when" but "where"? That is, where are such taken? It is now Jesus evidently expresses a truth in a very cryptic manner.
l Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather: The word "body" here is the Greek soma. Though some render the Greek word aetoi as "eagles" others use vultures. (NASB, WMS, BECK, NJB, NRSV) The word "gather" is a possible clue -- epi-synachthesontai. Jesus uses a related word in Matthew 24:31, " ... and the angels will gather together [epi-synaxousin] the Elect." Paul does the same a related word in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 when he responds to a misunderstanding of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, "Regarding the parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him [epi-synagoges] ..." Judging from this the gathering eagles (or, vultures) of Luke 17:37 would be the Elect gathered to one Body (soma). The word soma is used often of the body of Jesus or the Body of his Church.
With this in mind we would understand Jesus' answer to "Where?" to mean the Elect or "chosen ones" at that moment Paul declares, "Those of us who are living and remain to the Lord's Arrival shall not go before those sleep in death, because the Lord himself will come down from the Sky with the descend from heaven in complete command with the voice of an archangel and the trump of God. Then those who are dead in Christ will be resurrected first. After that those of us who are living and remain will at the same time together with them be raptured into the clouds to meet with the Lord in the Sky." (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) In other words, the "where" of it is the Lord in the Sky where eagles and vultures fly.
There is another possibility to this understanding which is revealed in the later Olivet discourse.
A Question Regarding the Parousia of the Son of Man
Matthew 24:26-28 takes place in the context of a question from the Nazarene's four apostles regarding two or three main topics: a) the desolation of Jerusalem's Temple; and, b) the Return (or, Parousia) of Messiah. Note these:
MT24:26Therefore, if ever they say to you: "Look! He is in the desert!"a<> you should not follow them. Or, "Look! He is in the inner chambers!"b you should not believe them. MT24:27For as the lightninga comes out of the east<> and shines to the west so will be the Arrivalb of the Son of Man.<> MT24:28Where the carcass is there the eaglesc will gather.
a DESERT. There are to be no isolated appearances of the Christ in deserted locations, or wilderness areas where some false prophets might try to gather their followers, where others in general cannot view him. There will be no Arrival only discernible by a limited few.
b CHAMBERS. There are to be no private appearances of Christ to individuals in their bedrooms or elsewhere. Any who claim to have had the Christ appear in their private rooms would be false prophets. Some of the four Christian religions actually founded in America during the 1,800s make such claims.
c LIGHTNING. Lightning is something visible and discernible with the naked eye from horizon to horizon by all under its illumination. Lightning can be seen even with the eyes closed. Compare Luke 17:24 where the 'revealing of the Son of Man' is compared to lightning.
d ARRIVAL. For the first time the Nazarene uses the disciples' word parousia as Matthew translates the Hebrew. Jesus is to use parousia three times (Matthew 24.27, 37, 39) according to the Greek translator of Matthew's Hebrew version. The word parousia only occurs here in the Gospels. It should be kept in mind that Jesus most likely spoke in Hebrew (Acts 26:14) and the disciple Matthew recorded his original Gospel in that language. (Irenaeus, a Christian teacher of the Second Century wrote: "Matthew published a written gospel for the Hebrews in their own tongue." The History of the Church by Eusebius, page 210) So, it was a later translator, possibly Matthew himself, who put the Greek word parousia in the mouths of Jesus and his disciples.
What Hebrew word might the Nazarene have used? Since parousia is always connected with the "Son of Man" it is likely Jesus borrowed a word from Daniel 7:13 or Daniel 7:22: athah Strongs # 857, 858) which means "arrive," the same meaning of parousia. See notes on Matthew 24.3 for more details. Parousia means the arrival or visit of a king or important person. The English word "coming" has become a common noun referring to such a royal visit. Paul uses parousia in the context of the Second Coming only once outside of his Thessalonian letters. (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8)
Mark and Luke do not use parousia but choose other synonyms: erkhetai, erkhomenos, elthon which mean "come" or "arrive." Matthew does this himself. (Matthew 24:30, 42, 44, 45; Matthew 25:19) Erkhomenos happens to be the word used in the Jewish Greek Bible, the Septuagint (LXX), at Daniel 7:13 with elthen being used at Daniel 7:22. Is this enough to establish that parousia (presence) is roughly the same as erkhomenos (coming) or elthon (arrive)?
c EAGLES. (Or, vultures; aetoi) This sudden cryptic is not the first time the disciples heard it. See something similar at Luke 17:27 when the disciples respond to certain ones being "taken along." The disciples ask, "Where, Lord?" The Nazarene responds in words similar to Matthew 24:28. If the "eagles" are those "taken along" (a word similar to that in John 14:3 and Luke 17:34) and these are raptured or gathered, then the "body" is the returning Christ. (Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1 with Matthew 24:30) Luke uses soma (body) whereas Matthew uses to ptoma (fallen body, carcass, corpse).
This happens to be a most interesting difference. This word for corpse or carcass -- to ptoma -- occurs at Revelation 11:2, 7-12 in a context suggesting the Rapture following words paraphrased from Luke 21:24. (Revelation 11:2) Consider these:
"(The Temple courtyard) has been turned over to the Gentiles, and they will trample the Holy City (New Jerusalem) underfoot for forty-two months. ... And after the Two Prophets have given their testimony, the wild Sea Beast that ascends out of the abyss war with them, conquer them, and kill them. And their corpses [to ptoma] will be within Babylon the Great's main street ... where their Lord was also impaled [becoming a to ptoma; compare Mark 15:45] . And those of the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will observe their corpses [to ptoma] for three and a half days, and they refuse to bury their corpses [ta ptomata] in a grave. Now after the three and a half days life's Pneuma from The God enters them, and they rise up on their feet, and tremendous dread falls upon all those who had been watching their dead bodies. And the Two Prophets heard a great voice out of the Sky call to them: 'Ascend up to here!' And the Two Prophets ascended into the Sky in the cloud and all their enemies watched them."
At the very least this is an interesting coincidence when compared to Jesus' words in Matthew 24:25-28, 40, 41 and Luke 17:23, 24, 34-37 that so many factors should be interwoven: the Parousia, a corpse, a gathering, and a rapture. What could all this possibly mean?
That 'discerning reader' of the prophet Daniel (Matthew 24:15), Jesus Christ himself would have known what Daniel 7:21-25 foretold:
[And that Small (eleventh) Power will blaspheme the Most High. That power will constantly oppress the Saints of the Most High. The Saints will be turned over to him for three and a half years. (Daniel 7:25)] Then the time came and the Ancient of Days arrived and judgment was given in to the Saints of the Most High. The appointed time came for the Saints to inherit the kingdom."
"I continued to watch when that Small (eleventh) Power began to war against the Saints and was victorious over them.
We may wish to assume our Lord understood that at some future time -- "after a long time" (Matthew 25:19) -- just before his Return, his living disciples would experience a "great oppression" (Revelation 7:14; 13:5-7) and be as good as dead -- like a corpse. It will be at this historic moment when the remnant of the Elect will become, as it were, a to ptoma -- dead corpse. It would be at this moment the "eagles will gather." O victory, come, Lord Jesus!
[NOTE: some of the above article is taken from Nazarene Apocalypse, a commentary on Revelation. You may receive a copy of this work by download or email: http://www.nazarene-friends.org/pubs/apocalypse/default.htm. The article above has been presented as one view among others without insisting it is the only view.]
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Paraphrased Version --
[Key word: Things]
2 PETER 1:1 -- PETER TO THE FAITHFUL
Simon Peter, an apostolic slave of Jesus Christ -- to those who have obtained with us a most precious faith through the justice of The God and our savior, Jesus Christ --
2 PETER 1:2-4 -- SHARERS IN DIVINE NATURE
... grace and peace be doubly increased incorporate in your intimate relationship with God and our Lord Jesus. For He has endowed us freely with every thing we need by His divine power. God invited us to share His own glory and vital strength by means of our intimate relationship with Him. Through these things He has endowed us freely with His priceless and transcendent promises. As a result you faithful may gain an experience in a godlike cosmic process, escaping a cosmos filled with corrupt passions.
2 PETER 1:5-8 -- THINGS PREVENTING INACTIVITY
For these reasons above, apply yourselves diligently to supply to your strong conviction, moral excellence; and to your moral excellence supply knowledge; and to your knowledge supply self-restraint; and to your self-restraint supply an awesome reverence for God; and to your awesome reverence for God supply warm brotherly affection; and, to your warm brotherly affection supply loving concern demonstrated by positive action for good. For if these qualities dwell within you and overflow you will never become inactive or unproductive in your intimate relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.
2 PETER 1:9-11 -- MAKE THE CALLING SURE
Because if these qualities do not reside in your heart you have become blind by closing your own eyes. You have forgotten the cleansing of yourself from your sins in the past. Rather, my brothers, be swift about making your invitation and election steadfast for yourselves. For if your are practicing these qualities you will never stumble in some point. Then you will supplied the wealth of entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
2 PETER 1:12-15 -- AROUSED BY REMINDERS
For this reason I will always be inclined to constantly remind you about all these same things even though you know them well and are solidly established in present truth. I only consider it the right thing to do -- for as long a time I have in this tabernacle -- to continually stimulate you with these reminders. For I am aware that this tabernacle of mine may be suddenly taken down just as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. So with all the speed in me I shall at every opportunity continue to remind you, so after my departure you will mention these things among yourselves.
2 PETER 1:16-18 -- EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS
For it was not by following sophisticated, fabricated fables that we revealed to you the powerful presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rather it was because we actually became eyewitnesses of our Lord's glorious brilliance. For we were together with him in the mountain of holiness when we heard a proclamation out of heaven, "This is my beloved Son who has my approval."
2 PETER 1:19-21 -- PAY ATTENTION TO PROPHECY
Now because of this we have the word of prophecy on a stable foundation. You do well if you pay attention to (prophecy) in your hearts as if it were a lamp illuminating the way through a dark wilderness, until that future time when the dawn approaches and a morning star rises on the horizon. However, realize this first that any prophetic Scripture is not of some human origin or personal interpretation. Rather God spoke to humans who were enraptured by the holy spirit.
[See 2 Peter 1-3 complete with footnotes on web page]
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