Christ's Laws


There's been times during our twenty-plus years of internet forum activity when we've encountered people wanting to know what they're supposed to do now that they decided to become a Christian.

A mega Baptist church that we attended back in the decade of the 1970's had a discipleship program that incorporated an outreach booklet called "The Four Spiritual Laws" authored in 1952 by Campus Crusade for Christ founder Dr. Bill Bright.

Those guidelines are helpful as far as they go, but they're pretty elementary and in our opinion inadequate for taking Christ's believing followers to infinity and beyond, so to speak.

Some years ago, just for the fun of it, we set out compiling a home-spun catalogue of Christ's instructions from the new Testament that apply to all his followers regardless of denominational affiliation. In time we realized that his instructions, accompanied by a little commentary, would make a pretty good how-to handbook.

We chose to start in the book of Acts because that's pretty much where Christ's apostles began telling his believing followers what to do in accord with the Lord's instructions per Matt 28:19-20.


1a) Acts 15:20 . . Abstain from food tainted by idols,

Here's the text of a common Christian prayer.

"Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ, Our Lord. Amen."

That prayer credits the providence of God for the nourishment on the table. Well; in the old Roman world, they sometimes credited the providence of a pagan deity for their nourishment. According to 1Cor 10:25-31; this is one of those don't ask situations; we'll get to that.

1b) Acts 15:20 . . Abstain from promiscuity

Promiscuity typically refers to things like adultery, incest, shacking up, one night stands, sleeping around, etc.

1Thess 4:3-5  It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.

1c) Acts 15:20 . . Abstain from the meat of strangled animals.

Strangulation is a slow, inhumane way to die. If you know that the meat you're being served came from an animal that was choked to death, consider it food fit only for barbarians. We want nothing to do with animal abuse.

1d) Acts 15:20 . . Abstain from blood

In other words: Christ's followers are forbidden to imbibe blood as a beverage.

There are cultures that poke holes in cows' necks in order to drink blood straight out of the living animal utilizing its own blood pressure like a tap to fill their cups; a rather ghastly thirst that might be okay for Edward Cullen's family but certainly not for us.

2) Rom 6:11 . . Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

"dead to sin" in this case doesn't mean Christ's sheep can't, won't, and/or don't sin (cf. 1John 1:8-10). It means that sin can no longer give God cause to slam them with the sum of all fears.

Rom 5:12-21 explains, in so many words; that Christ's believing followers are accounted as having gone to the cross with him similar to accounting them as having tasted the forbidden fruit with Adam. This principle is at the very core of Christianity's plan of salvation so it's important to get it.

In a nutshell: When Jesus went to the cross; he died for the sins of the world from first to last. That being the case, then when his believing followers went to the cross with him, they died for their sins from first to last. As a result: when the books are opened as per Rev 20:11-15, there will be nothing on record with which to charge them. (cf. 2Cor 5:19)

FYI: Rom 6:11 is an order, and Christ's believing followers are expected to obey it.

3) Rom 6:12-13 . . Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.

If I'm understanding John 5:24-25 correctly; Jesus spoke of a non-physical resurrection that his believing followers undergo in this life— now —before they pass on.

It's a pretty good resurrection too because it doesn't rejuvenate ordinary life, rather; it's a step up to eternal life— a superior kind of life that brings with it not only immortality, but also a change from human nature to divine nature. (2Pet 1:4)

Anyway, the point is: Christ's non-physically resurrected followers really should make an effort to walk as insiders who live in heaven rather than outsiders on their way to the other place. Political theorists like Niccolò Machiavelli would not recommend Christ's way of life of course because in this world, situation ethics are better; viz: the end justifies the means so long as the end, no matter how obtained, benefits the so-called greater good.

Well; to my knowledge, Machiavellian thinking doesn't fly in heaven so it's best for those "brought from death to life" to avoid it.


5) Rom 12:1 . . Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

The Greek word for "sacrifice" technically refers to a victim; but it's not always applied that way. For example speaking well of God, doing good, and sharing are legitimate sacrifices. (Heb 13:15-16)

The sacrifice required by Rom 12:1 is a living sacrifice rather than deceased so Christ's followers don't have to martyr themselves in order to fulfill it; but their bodies do have to be holy in order to be accepted; which means avoiding things that defile their bodies like indecency, promiscuity, adultery, and LGBT stuff.

The Bible calls those requirements "reasonable". In other words: It isn't asking too much of Christ's followers to keep themselves pure.

NOTE: One of the tools employed by communism, in its quest to influence the governance of a foreign country, is moral corruption; which is very effective when it gets into places like education, entertainment, literature, family values, and/or religious ideologies

6) Rom 12:2 . . Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Christianity, when taken seriously, can't help but radically change the way, the what, and the how we think about things in this life and in the next.

Personal Bible reading is a good place to begin with Rom 12:2; however, the will of God isn't meant to be self-taught; it's meant to be instructed by teachers empowered by God for that specific purpose. (Rom 12:4-8, 1Cor 12:1-30)

1Cor 12:29 . . Are all teachers?

No, not all are teachers. Only some are teachers and the rest of Christ's believing followers are supposed to be students, i.e. disciples.

Eph 4:11-13 . . And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith

According to that passage, the goal of God-given teaching is unity. Well, when Christians come together with differing perspectives— debating and engaging in perpetual bull sessions that never get to the bottom of anything —congregations are in danger of becoming divided and taking sides as rivals and intolerant bigots instead of unified. Like it's said: Too many cooks spoil the soup.

Sermons and Sunday school classes are Christianity's traditional sources of teaching. But these days with radio, television, and the internet; God-given, Spirit-enabled teaching is wide-spread and readily available.

In centuries gone past, it was necessary to journey to Christ's teachers in order to hear them speak. Nowadays, they speak to the whole world by means of electronic gadgets.

7) Rom 12:3 . . I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

"soberly" is from the Greek word sophroneo (so-fron-eh'-o) which means to be of sound mind, i.e. sane, sensible, rational.

A popular saying going around is this: "You can be anything". No, you can't be anything, and it's unreasonable to think otherwise. Know your limits and stay within them; don't be setting impossible goals for yourself; especially in matters of faith and practice.

Rom 12:4-8 . . Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

. . . If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to athe needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Some church managers have a really bad habit of recruiting people to teach Sunday school who don't have a gift for it in accordance with Rom 12:3-8, 1Cor 12:1-30, and Eph 4:7-12. Well; if teaching is not your spiritual specialty; then the sensible thing to do is turn them down. Stay within your limits like Rom 12:3 says, and don't let those managers pressure you into submission by making you feel guilty for refusing. Nobody gains points with Christ by going off-reservation.

8) Rom 12:6 . . If God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you.

The Greek word for "prophesy" in that verse is from propheteia (prof ay-ti'-ah) which encompasses predictions. Predicting was common in the early church; for example Agabus at Acts 11:27-28 and Acts 21:10-11.

Hunches don't count as God speaking through you. You have to really know it. Don't ask me how to really know it because I don't have the gift; nor do I want it. There was quite a bit more acceptance of paranormal activity back in Paul's day; but in our day, prophecy mongers are written off as kooks.

NOTE: One of my dad's favorite ways to annoy mom was to ask her how she didn't know if maybe God was speaking through him. Well, dad didn't know; that's what counts. He didn't "have faith that God is speaking through you" so mom could justifiably ignore him; like she always did anyway.

9) Rom 12:7a . . If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well.

"serving well" implies serving conscientiously and whole-heartedly rather than half-baked, grudging, and/or hit and miss.

One of my brothers has been a construction foreman for decades and one of his perpetual complaints is that he never knows from one day to the next whether some of the men he hires on jobs will show up. In other words: they aren't reliable, he can't count on them.

What I'm saying is: if you're thinking about becoming helpful in some way, don't do it unless you're willing to commit to the long haul because people need to know that they can depend on you to stay the course.

10) Rom 12:7b . . If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching.

I had a Sunday school teacher once who worked as a maintenance man in a public swimming facility. One Saturday he had to work very late repairing some equipment at the pool and had no time to prepare his lesson plan for Sunday morning so he just threw something together. It stunk; and my wife and I got nothing out of it.

In contrast, I once knew a pastor who took all week long to prepare his Sunday morning sermons rather than put it off till Saturday night. Now there was a guy who knew what it means to do a good job of teaching; viz: a conscientious job.

1Cor 10:31 . . So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

One of the meanings of the Greek word for glory is "honor" which in this case can be defined as doing something out of respect for someone admired and/or held in high esteem.

11) Rom 12:8a . . If your gift is to encourage others, then do so.

Developing children benefit from encouragement in a big way. Thoughtless grown-ups can destroy a young child's fragile spirit by criticizing them all the time and never once giving them an "attaboy" or a single vote of confidence.

A fitting word spoken at just the right moment can really beef up somebody's resolve to meet life head on. If you're good at that sort of thing, then watch for opportunities among your fellow Christians to do so. It has to be honest though because leaving people with a false impression of themselves is all the same as treachery, and sets them up for disappointment.

Prov 29:5 . .Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet.

12) Rom 12:8b . . If you have money, share it generously.

Generously is quite the opposite of sparingly.

Jesus once compared a widow's contributions to those of the wealthy. The small amount she gave counted more than the larger amounts contributed by the wealthy because her donation pretty much cleaned her out; while the wealthy's contributions scarcely made a dent in their prosperity. (Mark 12:41-44)

I don't think Rom 12:8b is commanding Christ's followers to ruin themselves, rather, to avoid being miserly; for example:

“Christmas is a poor excuse every 25th of December to pick a man's pockets.”
(Ebenezer Scrooge / A Christmas Carol / by Charles Dickens)

Ol' Scrooge is known the world over as the king of tightwads. He's an extreme example, to be sure; most people aren't that grasping, but I think quite a few are maybe a bit too frugal.

13) Rom 12:8c . . If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.

A natural aptitude for church management doesn't count. It has to be God-given; that is: a legitimate Spirit-endowed ability. (cf. Rom 12:3-8, 1Cor 12:4-11, 1Cor 12:27-30)

There are far too many people sitting on church boards merely because they're a success in business. Well; if your church is a commercial enterprise; then maybe you should think about finding another one.

God-given leadership ability is spoken of as a "responsibility". In other words; it should never be taken as an achievement. I just hate it when City, State, and Federal government officials celebrate their positions as something they "won".

"The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me: He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." (2Sam 23:3)

Too many of the men and women in power do not rule in the fear of God; rather, they rule in the fear of power and prestige; and rather than morally upright with their fellow man's best interests at heart, they are often Machiavellian instead.

14) Rom 12:8d . . If you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

This particular gift relates to sympathy and compassion; which are emotions, i.e. feelings.

Well; the problem is: we have very little, if any, control over those kinds of feelings; and I think we too often resent people for touching our soft spot and tugging at our heart strings, a.k.a. pushing our buttons.

The ability to show kindness is referred to as a gift. I think most folks, given the option, would prefer the gift of tongues over the gift of kindness because the one is merely a skill whereas the other makes us sensitive to need; which at times can be both uncomfortable and inconvenient.

1John 3:17 . . If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

15) Rom 12:9a . . Don't just pretend that you love others.

The Greek word translated "love" is derived from agape (ag-ah'-pay) which primarily refers to benevolence rather than affection and/or fondness.

Benevolence is defined as acts of kindness and/or generous gifts.

Pretense is defined as fiction, make-believe, and/or simulation.

Anyway, talk is cheap and, like it's said: Put your money where your mouth is, i.e. if you sincerely believe that benevolence is a Christian virtue, then practice it for real rather than merely giving others the impression that you do.

16) Rom 12:9b . . Hate what is evil.

Hating evil is second nature to God-fearing people; or at least it should be.

Ps 97:10 . .You who love The Lord: hate evil.

Job 1:1 . . In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.

Prov 8:13 . .The fear of The Lord is to hate evil. Pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate.

I think it's fair to say that when somebody hates the same things that God hates, and loves the same things that God loves; the two of them have the makings of a rapport: defined by Webster's as a friendly, harmonious relationship— especially a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible and/or easy.

17) Rom 12:9c . . Cling to what is good.

The Greek word translated "cling" speaks of adherence; and it's pretty much the same meaning as the Hebrew word in Gen 2:24 relative to a man and his wife.

The word is appropriate in a variety of applications, e.g. join, keep company, team up, stick to, stick with, bond, unify, become one with, band together, follow, etc.

18) Rom 12:10a . . Love each other with genuine affection

The Greek word translated "love" is derived from philadelphia (fil-ad-el-fee'-ah) which refers to fraternal feelings. It goes beyond things like courtesy, kindness, consideration, and charity, etc. Those things exhibit civility which is a non affectionate love; in other words: being nice to people without necessarily liking them isn't philadelphia.

Rom 12:10a is not an easy command to obey because it requires the emotions of fondness and affection; loyalty included, i.e. actually liking your fellow Christians as opposed to only being nice to them.

Real affection is easy to imitate, but not so easy to duplicate. Going through the motions is just not the same as feeling the feelings.

* There are people in this world who, by nature, are affection-challenged. They can't even feel anything for their own children, let alone other people. For them, parenting is a nightmare rather than a dream come true. Their children are a burden rather than a blessing. Children ruin those parents' lives instead of brightening them up and making their lives more worth the living.

However, affection-challenged people aren't defective beyond repair because Christianity isn't entirely a do-it-yourself religion; it's also a supernatural religion; viz; part of the plan of salvation is regeneration.

Rom 8:11 . . If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His spirit, who lives in you.

2Cor 4:16 . .Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

A heads up to affection-challenged people: Love is inconvenient. It will make you a better human being, but it will also make you pretty uncomfortable at times too because love gets into your gut and makes you emotional, sensitive, compassionate, and sympathetic.

19) Rom 12:10b . . Honor others above yourselves.

Christians infected with narcissistic personality disorder will find that rule difficult, if not impossible, to obey. NPD is a mental condition characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for excessive admiration, exploitive behavior in relationships, and a lack of empathy.

Narcissistic people are by nature insufferably arrogant, self-absorbed, indifferent, and insensitive. They see nothing wrong with their behavior, nor are they attuned to its impact on others. Were you to confront narcissistic folk with your concerns about their attitude; be prepared for a counterattack because they'll no doubt become indignant and defensive; possibly accusing you of selfishness, jealousy, overreaction, hysteria, and unloving behavior. You see; they're never the problem: you are.

As I was watching a recent series on the National Geographic channel about geniuses; it became readily apparent to me that people in the genius category crave recognition. Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso are two very good examples. Their contributions to art and science were secondary to their ambitions for greatness. I wouldn't say that all geniuses are like that of course, but apparently the desire for greatness is not uncommon among the gifted genre.

I should think that most alpha achievers would have trouble complying with Rom 12:10b too. I mean. why be a winner if not to feel superior to everyone else? The alpha achiever's motto is: It's not enough to succeed: everyone else must fail.

Feelings of value are important to everyone's sense of well being, but the alpha achiever feels only himself to be of any real value. In his mind's eye, those inferior to him are of little worth, i.e. expendable and/or a dime a dozen. (cf. Est 6:6, Matt 27:26, Mark 12:38 39, and 3John 1:9)

20) Rom 12:11a . . Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit

The Greek word for "slothful" is okneros (ok-nay-ros') which, according to its use in Matt 25:26-27, indicates failure to honor one's fiduciary responsibilities.

In other words: when people have put their trust in you, in whatever capacity or circumstance: do not disappoint them, nor (God forbid) make lame excuses for failing to deliver on your commitments.

"fervent in spirit" sort of means on fire-- i.e. dedicated and/or committed --which is just the opposite of half-hearted, lukewarm and/or stone-walling and procrastination.

21) Rom 12:12a . . Be glad for all God is planning for you.

Christians unsure of their afterlife destination cannot, in all honesty and a good conscience, comply with that. For all they know, God has outer darkness planned for them. That's not something to be glad about.

There are obvious benefits to a permanent association with God; most especially resurrection to immortality, i.e. a superior body and perpetual youth. But those aren't the end-all.

Humanity was given the blessing of fertility specifically for the purpose of populating the earth and subduing it. Well; the angels' purpose and way of life is very different. They're an organization of celestial beings engaged in a variety of capacities other than populating, conquering, and/or colonizing.

Folks who make the cut won't be returning to their familiar way of life, pairing up with spouses like before (Matt 22:30). Instead, they too, like the angels, will be organized to engage in a variety of capacities other than populating, conquering, and/or colonizing; and they will be kept very busy getting things done in accord with God's expectations in a new and improved cosmos.

"It is not to angels that He has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking." (Heb 2:5)

22) Rom 12:12b . . Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.

Patience in trouble requires a hang-in-there, tough-it-out attitude; i.e. perseverance, which can be defined as continued effort to do, or achieve, something despite difficulties, adversity, failure and/or opposition.

I've heard of people giving up on religion due to adverse circumstances which they felt were undeserving. But life goes on whether one is pious or not.

1Cor 10:13 . . Adversity that comes into your life is no different from what others experience.

Job 5:7 . . Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.

I guess some people figure that life should be a bed of roses for Christians; but alas, such is not the case.

"To be, or not to be, that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them: to die, to sleep no more; and by a sleep, to say we end the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished." (Hamlet. Act III, Scene I)

Wishing one's self dead in order to escape troubles doesn't comply with patience; and wishing one's self was never born is futile.

Job 3:11-13 . .Why didn't I die at birth as I came from the womb? Why did my mother let me live? Why did she nurse me at her breasts? For if I had died at birth, I would be at peace now, asleep and at rest.

A Christian buddy of mine died in his mid forties. Sometimes I envy his untimely death because he doesn't have to go through old age like I'm doing. I've had lots of troubles in my lifetime: the sudden passing of my favorite nephew, betrayed by people I thought were BFFs, dumped by girl friends, financial reversal, appendicitis, thyroid failure, total knee replacements, cataract surgery, diminishing libido, loss of kidney function, loss of teeth, lay-offs, etc. None of those misfortunes have been as destructive to my peace of mind as the aging process.

Fortunately I'm neither demented nor suffering from onset Alzheimer's, but nevertheless, I'm disintegrating-- wasting away little by little and day by day --and there's no remedy. The aging process is like Arnold Swarzenegger's relentless movie character The Terminator; of whom it is said: feels neither pain nor pity, nor remorse nor fear; it cannot be reasoned with nor can it be bargained with, and it absolutely will not stop-- ever --until you are dead.

I don't really mind getting old, nor mind dying: what I do mind is falling apart along the way. But others have fallen apart before me, others are falling apart along with me, and others will fall apart after me. My own personal Terminator is nothing new or unusual; so I'm riding it out like people in hurricane zones ride out the storms that come their way year after year. I don't know if anyone ever gets comfortable with the aging process; but at least they can take comfort in knowing we only have to go through it once, and never again.

23) Rom 12:13a . . Share with God's people who are in need.

The Jews are God's people in accordance with an unconditional covenant that He made with Abraham. (Gen 17:7-8)

NOTE: Nazi Germany was very nearly 99% Christian. Had they all complied with Rom 12:13a, the effects of the Holocaust would've no doubt been greatly reduced.

24) Rom 12:13b . . Practice hospitality.

Webster's defines hospitable as:

1» given to generous and cordial reception of guests

2» promising or suggesting generous and cordial welcome

3» offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.

In other words; a hospitable person is civil, courteous, thoughtful, easy on one's nerves, helpful, non threatening, non confrontational, non militant, non reactive, non defensive, approachable, accommodating, and relaxing to be with.

25) Rom 12:14 . . Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

The Greek word for "persecute" basically means to pursue; i.e. to hound. In other words; a persecuting personality is one whose mission in life is to ruin somebody's day at every opportunity.

Bless is from a Greek word that basically means to invoke a benediction, e.g.

"Good Morning."

"Live long and prosper."

"Have a nice day."

"Good Luck!"

"Bon Voyage!"

"Buen Camino."

"Happy Birthday."

The Greek word for "curse" is from a Greek word meaning to execrate, i.e. damning.

26) Rom 12:15 . .When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow.

It's surprising the number of Christians that I've encountered, even Sunday school teachers, who honestly believe that feelings have no role whatsoever in the practice of Christianity. As a result, they go about the business of their spiritual life as insensitive mannequins: cold, academic, and metallic; sort of like the Tin Woodsman of the Wizard of Oz who, without a heart, couldn't feel the passionate emotions he once felt for the love of his life. Without a heart; the poor, pitiful man was barely a sentient being

27) Rom 12:16a . . Live in harmony with each other.

It isn't necessary to be in 100% agreement with others on everything in order to comply with that command. But it is necessary to practice courtesy, tolerance, patience, and tact, i.e. make every effort to avoid feuding, one-upmanship, and debating. The opposite of harmony is dissonance, which can be defined as a mingling of sounds that strike the ear harshly, e.g. sour notes.

For some people, every disagreement is an act of war to be won at any cost. That's not harmony, that's militant. It's far and away better for Christians to be diplomatic rather than be right all the time.

2Cor 12:19-20 . . For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

28) Rom 12:16b . . Don't be elitist, but willing to associate with people below you.

I'd have to say that those instructions apply only in church where it's understood by Spirit-led Christians that no one in attendance is somehow better than another. (cf. Jas 2:1-4)

Church managers should be given a higher degree of respect than pew warmers because they're in positions of authority and greater responsibility; but all in all, church is a congregation of redeemed sinners, and that includes the managers; so we're all equals on that basis. Christ had to undergo just as much suffering, indignity, and death to redeem church managers as he did for everyone else so God forbid that the hierarchy should exhibit a holier-than-thou attitude; viz: a superiority complex. (cf. Matt 23:2-7)

29) Rom 12:16c . . Don't be wise in your own conceit.

Webster's defines "conceit" as excessive self-appreciation of one's own worth or virtue. In other words we're talking about hubris; which often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence, accomplishments or capabilities.

Conceit is uncivil, untrainable, and intolerable. It truly believes nobody beneath its dignity could possibly have anything to tell that it doesn't already know; and if it doesn't already know, then that's because the information possessed by those beneath its dignity isn't worth knowing.

Those kinds of people will interrupt you right in the middle of your sentence and begin talking about their own perspective as if your voice is nowhere to be heard in the whole room. You know why they do that? Because they sincerely believe that nothing you are in the midst of saying is nearly as important as what they have to say. In other words: you, and your thoughts, are superfluous.

Conceited folk are generally very picky about their influences too; in other words, even if somebody is a Spirit-gifted Bible teacher, but are neither published, accredited, or properly educated, then forget it. That Spirit-gifted somebody is eo ipso undeserving of conceit's intellectual attention right out of the box.

Conceit is not only stuck on itself; but very critical of others too. I've seen it to happen time and again that when a Spirit-gifted Bible teacher comes across with a personality like Elijah's or John the Baptist's that conceit summarily brushes them off as "unloving" no matter even if they speak as the very voice of God. In other words; conceit disdains to be taught; rather, conceit seeks to be accommodated.

I think most people in church are aware that conceit is unacceptable.

Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Conceit is a psychological disorder, so people can't just turn it off at will. But unless something radical is done to correct their conceit; people will have to face the sum of all fears.

Matt 18:3 . .Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

30) Rom 12:17a . . Never reciprocate evil with evil to anyone.

That is a really tough command to follow; for example: when someone makes a demeaning comment, and/or a sarcastic remark about us, the urge to bounce back with a rejoinder in kind is very difficult to resist.

Well-to-do families at one time sent their daughters off to finishing school to learn a variety of social graces. I don't know, maybe they still do; but surely diplomacy ought to be a common social grace among Christians.

31) Rom 12:17b . . Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

The Greek word for "right" is a bit ambiguous. It can mean: honorable, decent, sensible, mature, conforming to social norms of decency and propriety, beautiful, virtuous, honest, having worth, fitting, and/or appropriate. Those are all good qualities and should be practiced not only inside church, but outside church too.

Human nature has a way of adjusting to a variety of social environments. For example: a boy might be gentlemanly and gracious with his best girl while a brutish punk with his buddies. Thus he "reads the crowd" sort of like the way professional stand-up comedians do. In other words: he respects what's right when with the girl, but not when with his buddies.

The boy can get by with that just so long as his two worlds don't collide; like in the early scenes of the 1978 movie "Grease" starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John where a bad boy returns to school only to be confronted by a sweet girl he met during Summer vacation whom he never expected to see again.

32) Rom 12:18 . . If possible, so far as it in your power, be at peace with all men.

NOTE: The Greek word translated "men" is somewhat ambiguous. It mostly refers to h.sapiens of either gender-- male and female --which bounces back to the very beginning where both genders are labeled Man & Adam (Gen 1:27 & Gen 5:1-2)

Assertive, defensive, demanding, fault-finding, imperious, judgmental, confrontational, argumentative, bossy, spirited, hard-nosed, implacable, moody, thin skinned, vindictive, abrasive, spiteful people are not allowed in heaven. Why? Because heaven is a place of peace (Matt 5:9, Rom 14:17).

Disagreeable people who fight at the drop of a hat simply don't fit in heaven and besides, not only would they be a fish out of water; but it wouldn't be fair to the others to let difficult people in to heaven where they would surely turn it into the same kind of hellish world to live in that they've made the Earth.

Christians should not be difficult. Of all people, they should be the easiest to get along with.

33) Rom 12:19 . . Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written: Vengeance is mine, I will repay; testifies The Lord.

The focus is upon one's "own" revenge; in other words: if the matter can't be settled legally; let it go rather than take it upon yourself to be prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, i.e. a vigilante. Those who seek justice outside the justice system are no less criminals than the people they seek to punish.

34) Rom 12:20 . . If your personal enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.

Heaping real live burning coals upon somebody's head would be terribly vindictive and unchristian; as would wishing them dead and condemned to Hell. It's probably just meant to be a colloquialism for making someone feel ashamed of themselves, i.e. guilty.

Way back when the television show "SURVIVOR" was in its second or third season, two of the women fell out of sorts and one vowed that even if the other were lying in the street near death from thirst, she'd walk right past and not give her so much as a drop of water.

Bad form. Christians have to remain civil and not permit detestable people to dictate the way we treat our fellow men. It is far better for Christ's followers to exemplify humanitarian principles than satisfy a grudge. I'll admit it's galling to have to be courteous with people that mistreat us; but what can I say? Christ expects it.

Matt 5:46-47 . . If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

35) Rom 12:21 . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In other words: fighting fire with fire is not always the wisest course of action for Christians to follow.

Compliance with that particular command requires some self control on our part because human nature's impulses usually steer us into the wrong course of action when coping with evil.

36) Rom 13:1-5 . . Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

. . . For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

There are Christians out there sincerely believing that all capital punishment is wrong; and how can they be faulted when a Pope says it's wrong. But according to the passage above, and the one below, capital punishment isn't wrong, rather, it's divine.

Gen 9:4-6 . . And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.

Murder deserves the death penalty not so much because it's morally wrong, but because it disparages the image of God. In other words: murder is an act of blaspheme.

Rom 13:1-5 is a fair warning to Christians that should they break the law; to expect neither favoritism nor immunity. So then, if you can't do the time, then don't do the crime.

Christians that commit capital crimes should expect their heads to roll just like any other capital criminal's head; and that goes for lesser crimes too, e.g. J-walking, illegal U-turns, feeding parking meters, drifting through stop signs without coming to a complete halt, exceeding the speed limit, unsafe lane changes, road rage, disturbing the peace, littering, trespassing, shoplifting, civil disobedience, animal abuse, etc.

God has given governments the right to play God; any Christian who opposes government's right to play God, is playing the Devil. God forbid! Christians ought not to be scofflaws; no, they really ought to be the most law-abiding citizens on Earth.

37) Rom 13:6a . . Pay your taxes

While it's true that tax dollars often get wasted on fraud, graft, pork, bail outs, ear marks, and such things; by and large taxes are essential if we're to expect services like schools, parks, national defense, law enforcement, fire protection, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, foster care, endowments, reparations, flood control, TANF, SSI, and the maintenance of infrastructure, etc.

Taxes are also used to pay government salaries, wages, and benefits. Though they are not holy people in the religious sense, they should probably be regarded as such-- maybe even as angels. (of a sort)

Rom 13:6b . . for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.

38) Rom 13:7 . . Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Christians don't have to particularly like the folks in government, but we do have to allow them the dignity that their positions deserve; in compliance with Rom 13:1-5.

For example: tearing up a US President's state of the union address, banning him from social media platforms, censoring his comments, and/or impeaching him contrary to Constitutional law, is not the Christian way; so don't let Christ catch you participating in those kinds of impious behaviors.

39) Rom 13:8 . . Owe no man anything.

Some have construed item #39 to mean that it's a sin to have a mortgage, a car payment, and/or a credit card balance. However, the Greek word for "owe" is opheilo (of-i'-lo) an ambiguous word with a number of meanings, one of which is to fail in duty; viz: fail to meet your obligations.

In today's world; debt is nigh unto impossible to avoid; but debt is acceptable for Christians just so long as they pay their bills on time. Christ is neither pleased nor honored when his followers are known as deadbeats.

40) Rom 13:12 . . Put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Among the first things that God created for the cosmos was light (Gen 1:3). He didn't have to create darkness because darkness per Gen 1:2 is just simply the default condition in the absence of light.

At that time, God made a distinct difference between light and darkness (Gen 1:4). I think it is very notable that God labeled the light "good" but He didn't label the darkness good.

I believe Gen 1:4 set the stage; in other words: from that point on in the Bible, darkness typically represents something harmful and/or distasteful; while light always represents something tasteful and/or beneficial. So then we could label the deeds of darkness as deeds unbecoming Christ's followers, and we could label the armor of light as deeds befitting his followers. In other words: deeds befitting Christ's followers are their first line of defense in a world gone mad with evil.

1Pet 3:10-12 . .Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

41) Rom 13:13 . . Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and envy.

"in the day" could be construed to mean "in that day" which would indicate life and society as it will be in the kingdom God. Well; needless to say, people then won't be acting like they do now, so maybe we should start preparing for that day by putting these instructions into enough practice to make them become a habit.

The Greek word for "envy" is somewhat ambiguous. It includes— along with envy —jealousy, indignation, and outrage.

The Greek word for "strife" is somewhat ambiguous too. It includes— along with strife —quarrelling, wrangling, contention, debate, and a whole other bunch of ugly stuff associated with variance.

"in the day" probably refers to daytime when the sun is up as opposed to nighttime when the sun is down; which is usually when people are out partying, drinking, and picking each other up for one night stands.

Though strife and envy can be seen during both day or night, they're listed as nighttime behavior due to their being shameful.

NOTE: What I find interesting about Christ's commandments is that his followers have to be instructed how to properly conduct themselves; viz: it's never assumed they can be trusted to instinctively and/or intuitively know how. (cf. Rom 12:2)

42) Rom 13:14 . . .Clothe yourselves with The Lord Jesus Christ

Clothing one's self with a personage was a colloquialism many years ago which would correspond in our day to "emulation" which Webster's defines as trying to be like someone or something you admire.

They say that imitation is the highest flattery. Well; if you'd like to flatter Christ; then adopt his integrity, his principles, and his core values. But don't guess at them; learn them, by instruction, from someone that The Lord has empowered to teach for him per Eph 4:11-15.

43) Rom 14:1 . . Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

A strong faith consists of the elements of knowledge, confidence, assurance, and conviction. A weak faith can be defined as vacillating; viz: one that's not all that sure whether something is wrong for a Christian; or even that something is right. In other words: a weak faith lacks the elements of knowledge, confidence, assurance, and conviction.

Disputable matters are matters of opinion rather than matters of fact. Opinions are often subjective, biased, and arbitrary, rather than objective, unbiased, and by-the book. Opinions inevitably invite perpetual debating that never really gets to the bottom of anything; which, in matters of spiritual significance is strictly forbidden within the context of the 14th chapter of Romans; because debatable matters are not matters of doctrine; but rather; matters of conscience.

We're not talking about black and white doctrines and principles here. Those are not open to debate. We're talking about gray areas.

"Thou shalt not commit adultery" is black and white; while issues like video games, music, fashions, foods, cosmetics, movies, self defense, gambling, swim suits, politics, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, fasting, religious art, crucifixes, couture, and holy days of obligation are debatable. In regards to those areas; let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind rather than somebody else's mind.

Those are things about which each has to decide for themselves according to the dictates of their own conscience; and God forbid they should impose their personal dictates upon others and thus become dictatorial because that's playing God and usurping Christ's sovereign prerogative to make the rules for his own church.

44) Rom 14:2-4 . . One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.

If somebody sincerely believes that fast food, GMO, high fructose corn syrup, non organic produce, processed foods, grain-fed beef, raw oysters, sushi, and/or anything fried in lard is sinful; well; more power to them; but God forbid they should condemn others who disagree.

So then; whether or not to eat grass-fed beef or grain-fed beef is your call; although in my judicious estimation; you run a much higher risk of contracting E.coli 0157-H7 by eating grain-fed beef. But the choice to run that risk is yours alone; not mine. The important point to note is that either way, God will accept one's diet just so long as they are convinced in their own mind it's not a sinful diet. And God forbid that we should undertake to pressure someone via debating and sophistry to violate their conscience.

45) Rom 14:5 . . One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Common Christian holy days are The Lord's Day (Sunday), Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, the Epiphany, Solemnity of Saint Joseph Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Ascension Trinity Sunday, Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Good Friday, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, All Saints, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas), and the Sabbath. Some would probably include Easter and Ash Wednesday, et al.

If your denomination, or your church of choice, rules that days like the above are sacred, then for you they are. Whether God himself really and truly rules them as sacred is irrelevant. What matters is whether you are convinced He does because the focus of the 14th of Romans is upon matters of conscience rather than matters of fact.

NOTE: The Jehovah's Witnesses' personal opinions about birthdays, holidays, and holy days are protected by the 14th chapter of Romans; and forbids debating with them about it.

46) Rom 14:13a . .Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.

Within the context of the 14th of Romans, "passing judgment" pertains to criticizing others for refusal to accept and/or comply with your own personal gray-area beliefs and practices.

47) Rom 14:13b . . Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

The Greek word translated "stumbling block" means a stub. For example: one year I cut down a troublesome bush in my front yard and left a bit of a stump sticking up out of the ground that later damaged my lawn mower when I accidentally ran over it while cutting the grass; which had grown tall enough to conceal the stump. In that respect, stumbling blocks are hazards not easily detected.

Within the context of the 14th of Romans, I would equate stumbling blocks to the clever sophistry that silver-tongued Bible thumpers employ to persuade people to do things contrary to their convictions and their conscience. Should you get pulled into a debate with one of those thumpers you'll be frustrated because no matter how skillfully defended your position, they will continue to oppose it; so the best track is: decline to argue.

48) Rom 14:14-16 . . I know and am perfectly sure on the authority of The Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don't let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be condemned for doing something you know is alright.

For example: We may believe that there is nothing wrong with eating freaky, barbarian foods; but our Christian dinner companion might feel very strongly about it. Well; sure, we can get by with eating freaky, barbarian foods; but Rom 14:14-16 is saying don't. In other words; Christ expects his own to restrain themselves from eating distasteful stuff in front of our Christian companions in thoughtful and sympathetic regard for their personal sensibilities, i.e. as a courtesy.

I'm pretty sure this principle isn't restricted to diet, but can be applied to any debatable issue with the potential to drive an unnecessary wedge between ourselves and other Christians. For example; if you have friends over for an evening of entertainment, and know they're uncomfortable with movies saturated with crime, cruelty, obscenity, vulgarity, deviance, indecency, and violence; then accommodate their feelings by selecting something a bit more tolerable for them.

49) Rom 14:19 . . Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

The Greek word for "edification" is oikodome (oy-kod-om-ay') which is a word related to the building trades; and in this instance would be related to structural improvements like a new wing, or a bedroom, or another floor; and in many instances adds square footage to an already-existing structure and/or improves its appearance, its value, and it's utility. Edification then, is just the opposite of demolition, i.e. it builds up instead of tearing down.

Webster's defines "peace" as a state in which there is no war or fighting; viz: harmony and mutual concord. In other words: there are times when it's appropriate to accommodate people's feelings about certain things for the sake of us all getting along together.

NOTE: An important element in the practice of love is deference; which, in a nutshell, implies regarding the wishes of others as trumping yours; viz: subordination. (Eph 5:21)

50) Rom 14:20-21 . . Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.

We would think that the work of God is indestructible; but not so. People have been destroying the Earth and themselves— the work of His hands - for an untold number of centuries and millennia: (Gen 1:1)

The critters that God lists in the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God— on oath —per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy as unsuitable for human consumption aren't intrinsically unsuitable. They're only designated unsuitable for the Jews because that's how God wants it for a particular people. But outside the covenant, for everybody else, whatever you'd like to eat can be eaten; all flora and all fauna; and that dates all the way back to the Flood.

Gen 9:3 . . Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

Acts 10:15 . .The voice spoke to him a second time; "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

But still; we wouldn't want to invite someone over for dinner serving foods that they sincerely believe are wrong for them to eat; and thus lead them to contradict their own personal convictions about what's right and what's wrong for Christians. Prepare something else that you both can eat without feeling guilty. That's the Christian way to go about it; it's also the sympathetic way to go about it.

51) Rom 14:22a . . So whatever you personally believe in debatable areas keep between yourself and God.

The old adage "Let sleeping dogs lie." certainly applies to this requirement in regard to gray-area beliefs and practices.

52) Rom 14:22b. . Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

The Greek word translated "blessed" means fortunate and/or well off, i.e. one's situation and/or circumstances. The opposite of that would be like deprived and/or missing out on something worth having.

(53) Rom 14:23 . . But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Where there's doubt; it's possible to be wrong even when you're right because it's a sin to forge ahead when one's conscience is not sure it's okay to do so.

I once knew a Christian who felt guilty just setting foot inside a Block Buster video store. Was he silly for feeling that way? Not in his mind; and it's your own personal moral compass that counts in gray areas. Some Christians can't permit themselves to dine in a restaurant that serves alcohol; while others see nothing wrong with it. If those two kinds of Christians should perchance dine out together, it's the more sensitive conscience that determines where to eat.

In other words; it makes good spiritual sense to avoid insisting upon your freedoms and rights sometimes in order to prevent dragging your fellow Christians into something that makes them feel guilty and/or uncomfortable.

54) Rom 15:1-2 . . We may know that certain things make no difference, but we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves. We must be considerate of the doubts and fears of those who believe certain things are wrong.

Webster's defines "considerate" as thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others, i.e. deferent, gallant, chivalrous, sensitive, yielding, and diplomatic.

NOTE: The subject of "yielding" is currently very relevant; especially in this day and age when certain elements of American society are perpetually clamoring for so-called equal rights in matters relative to wealth, race, and gender.

Consideration is almost a dirty word among strong-willed, bossy Christians who perpetually insist upon having everything their own way; even in trivial issues that, in the grand scheme of things, mean nothing at all. But these folk are militant; every disagreement is an act of war to be won at any cost; even to the destruction of the dignity and self respect of their fellow Christians for whom the Lord gave his life.

55) Rom 15:7 . . Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

That's a bit tricky but I think it just means all Christians should acknowledge each other as Christians, and treat one another as Christians though they may differ in opinion about what constitutes a real Christian.

Too many Christians are bigots; they have the opinion that unless others believe and practice the very same way they believe and practice, then those others are not Christians. Well; the easiest way to settle this is to follow Webster's definition that a Christian is simply someone who professes a belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. That's it: no more, no less, and no qualifiers. They don't even have to practice The Lord's teachings; they only have to profess to believe in them.

An internet forum I was on in the past made it even easier. In order to qualify as a Christian on that forum; one only had to believe they were a Christian; viz: they didn't have to prove they were a Christian; no, they only had to be convinced in their own minds that they were a Christian. If we all followed that rule it would put a stop to a lot of unnecessary quarreling, name calling, and bad feelings.

"just as Christ accepted you" speaks of a lack of discrimination and/or prejudice, for example:

John 9:31 . . Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth.

56) Rom 15:27 . . For if the Gentiles have shared in the Israelite's spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Israelites to share with them their material blessings.

Within the context of Rom 15:25-27, the Israelites to whom Paul refers are not those who believe and practice Judaism; but those who believe Jesus (a.k.a. Y'shua) is the Messiah. It is unbecoming for Christians to support religions that undermine Christ; especially when it's taken into consideration that 1Cor 16:22 requires Christ's followers to regard the followers of religions opposed to his as cursed, i.e. not in harmony with God.

NOTE: The Jews' original beliefs and practices were primarily biblical. By the time of Jesus' day, their religion had become rabbinical, i.e. defined by the Talmud; which incorporates the Bible but isn't strictly limited to it.

57) Rom 16:17-18 . . I urge you, brothers, beware of those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.

Naïve folk can be characterized as credulous, i.e. easily convinced by slight or uncertain evidence, viz: non-critical thinkers.

"smooth talk" is the practice of sophistry; defined as a reason or an argument that sounds correct but at its core is actually false; viz: subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation. Sophistry is typically rational, reasonable, and sensible; but the thing to keep in mind is that faith believes what's revealed to it rather than only what makes sense to it.

According to Eph 4:11-14 the very reason that Christ endows some of his followers to speak for him is so that the rest of his followers may have access to true premises upon which to build their faith and thus achieve the unity for which he prayed at John 17:20-21.

NOTE: Rom 16:17-18 contains somewhat universal instructions because, with a little adjustment here and there, they can be incorporated as counseling for just about every ideology known to man, e.g. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Baha'i, Protestant, Catholic, Democracy, Communism, Socialism, etc. It's kind of humorous, in an ironic sort of way, that everybody's ideology warns its adherents about the dangers of everybody else's ideology.

58) 1Cor 1:10 . . I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Official belief systems— e.g. the Nicene Creed and/or proprietary church covenants and statements of faith —are very effective for achieving the unity required by 1Cor 1:10; and should always be imposed upon new people applying for membership in a local congregation. A church composed of a variety of beliefs and practices isn't a unified church: it's a forum.

NOTE: I would have to say that after belief in God and His son, the next thing that church members need to believe in is each other; and if they can't believe in each other, then I really think they ought to disband. I'm not kidding around about this; without trust and loyalty a church is just as dysfunctional as any other maladjusted family.

59) 1Cor 1:26 . . Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you.

We should never forget that the path to safety in Christ is humanly impossible to discover. Were they not revealed; nobody would ever figure out the spiritual mechanisms involved; let alone how to go about implementing them. In this world of ours: money, IQ, and influence make a difference. But pertaining to safety in Christ, none of that is helpful in the least.

1Cor 1:30-31 . . God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself; he is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom.

60) 1Cor 3:9-15 . .We are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

. . . Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

It's easy mistake the judgment spoken of in that passage for the judgment spoken of by Rev 20:11-15. But there are crucial differences worth noting.

1_ The fire spoken of in 1Cor 3:9-15 burns works. The fire spoken of by Rev 20:11-15 burns people.

2_ Builders walk away alive from the fire spoken of in 1Cor 3:9-15. Nobody walks away alive from the fire spoken of by Rev 20:11-15.

3_ Builders are awarded at the judgment spoken of in 1Cor 3:9-15 whereas the dead are punished at the judgment spoken of by Rev 20:11-15.

4_ 1Cor 3:9-15 pertains to God's field, God's building; whereas Rev 20:11-15 pertains to folks dead to God.

5_ Builders' substandard works are burned up rather than burned off.

FAQ: What is the meaning of "he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire."

RESPONSE: It's a depiction of people who waken inside a burning home with barely enough time to get out; taking nothing with them but whatever they wore to bed. Their home is destroyed, and all their valuables and all their mementoes; but at least the occupants themselves are safe, and suffer no harm from the fire.

Take for example a hypothetical builder akin to Mother Teresa. Should it turn out that her entire five decades of work in India fail to qualify as gold, silver, and/or precious stones; it will all go up in smoke, so to speak; but she herself, though walking away empty-handed, would be spared.

NOTE: It is sometimes assumed that 1Cor 3:9-15 is speaking of a Purgatory. However, Greek words for "purify" and "purge" are nowhere to be found in that passage; and a note in the current official Catholic Bible— the 2011 New American Bible —says: "The text of 1Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of a purgatory, though it does not envisage this."

If perchance there are Catholics reading this, I should clue them that the non Biblical materials (foot notes) in the 2011 New American Bible have a nihil obstat by Reverend Richard L. Schaefer, Censor Deputatus, and an imprimatur by Most Reverend Jerome Hanus, O.S.B. Archbishop of Duguque.

Nihil Obstat is defined as: The certification by an official censor of the Roman Catholic Church that a book has been examined and found to contain nothing opposed to faith and morals

Imprimatur is defined as: Approval of a publication under circumstances of official censorship

61) 1Cor 3:18 . . If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a fool so that he may become wise.

In our age, "wise" would pertain to people high up in finance, education, science, art, computing, crafts, music, philosophy, politics, etc. Many of those kinds of people are brilliant and utterly self-reliant.

Well; I can say from personal experience that above-average folks tend to make very poor Sunday school students because their intelligence gets in the way. If only they would leave their IQ at the door, even they themselves would be the better for it because when it comes to spiritual discernment; many of those egg heads are about as bright as an elementary school kid just starting out in kindergartner in need of beginning right from square-one and learning some basics; which for the wise, is very demeaning to say the least.

But nobody arrives from the womb knowing everything; thus the enjoinder:

"Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." (Jas 1:21)

62) 1Cor 3:21-23 . . So don't take pride in following a particular leader. Everything belongs to you— Paul and Apollos and Peter —the whole world and life and death; the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

I've noticed that avid sports fans are afflicted with chronic identity syndromes. When their favorite team wins; they say "we" won; as if they were on the field playing the game instead of up in the bleachers or on the couch at home watching the action on TV.

Christians that idolize their favorite pastors and/or Sunday school teachers are just as avid. They want to be identified with those kinds of church luminaries because it makes them look really smart and elite; when in reality it just makes them look silly and star-crossed.

But the thing is; when it comes to inheritance; Christ's believing followers are equals, i.e. the celebrity and the pew warmer are on the same level.

NOTE: People penned up in the fiery section of Hades may or may not be fully aware of all they've lost. Many are doubtless aware of at least their loss of immortality; but I'm not so sure they know about the bulk of their loss because not even that many Christians are aware of all they've gained by their association with Christ.

We today are living in what's sometimes called the church age; which is an era that began with the day of Pentecost per Acts 2:1-2 wherein Christ has been busy assembling the "my church" he spoke of in Matt 16:18.

The "my church" is very fortunate because it is a joint-heir (a.k.a. heir in common) with God's son in his Father's estate. (Eph 1:11 and Rom 8:16 17)

A joint-heir is different than a regular heir. Regular heirs are apportioned an individual percentage of their benefactor's estate. But joint-heirs inherit, not a percentage, but the entire estate, as community property, i.e. whatever the Father bequeathed His son, He bequeathed everyone associated with His son.

For example: supposing a benefactor's estate totals 60 acres of land, 18 gold bars, plus a hedge fund worth 200,000 US Dollars; and he left it all to six heirs in common. In that situation; the heirs are corporately one beneficiary instead of six; viz: all six inherit all the land, all the gold, and the entire fund as if each one were the only heir.

The extent of the Father's estate is astonishing. It encompasses not only all that is in Heaven, but also whatever pertains to the new cosmos spoken of in Isa 66:17, 2Pet 3:13, and Rev 21:1; and I don't know what else.

John 3:35 . .The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.

John 16:15 . . All things that the Father has are mine

Heb 2:5 . . It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come

It's a good thing that God's son has been appointed chief executive officer of his Father's estate because I don't think anybody else among men could ever be relied upon to manage it properly.

Point being: disbelievers in today's era who fail to be accepted into the "my church" will end up as miserable paupers in the afterlife, whereas those associated with God's son will be wealthy and privileged beyond imagination.

63) 1Cor 4:1 . . So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ, and as those entrusted with the mysteries of God.

Big names like Mother Teresa, Charles Spurgeon, and Billy Graham are practically sacred cows— but Christian celebrities like those are only human rather than divine. Just be grateful you're not one of them because their responsibility is proportional.

Jas 3:1 . . Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (cf. 1Cor 3:9-15)

64) 1Cor 4:5 . . Judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till The Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and expose the motives of men's hearts.

Human nature has a propensity to shower accolades on religious celebrities without having all the facts.

For example: we now know from Mother Teresa's private letters— made public by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk's book "Mother Teresa / Come Be My Light" —that Ms. Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was a nun with so little personal belief in God as to be an agnostic; and yet for decades everyone the world over thought she was the cat's meow and the bee's knees: a veritable poster child of piety in thought, word, and deed. It turns out Teresa was a remarkable actor. Her public image bore no resemblance whatsoever to the secret life of her inner being.

The Spirit's corroboration that comes to Christ's followers via Rom 8:16 never happened for Teresa. As a result, the remarkable nun came to the end of her life wondering if there really is a God out there; and worried that if perchance there is a God, He didn't want her in India to begin with; maybe even didn't particularly like her, and might actually be quite intent upon condemning her.

* To be honest: I just don't know how the Roman Church could proceed with fast-tracking Mother Teresa to sainthood while fully aware of her deplorable spiritual condition; unless she was just too widely admired, and too big a global figure, not to.

65) 1Cor 5:1-5 . . It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst.

. . . For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of The Lord Jesus.

Gentiles of course do sleep with their stepmothers on occasion; but the world's practice of that kind of behavior is more an aberration than a custom.

Well, the Corinthians were treating that man's behavior as if it were a norm, i.e. they apparently felt that the man's conduct was trivial, undeserving of either attention or criticism. They must have wondered why Paul was reacting so badly rather than just "get over it". After all; it's none of his business what goes on behind closed doors. Had he not heard of the right to privacy? And besides, didn't the Lord say: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Delivering someone to Satan for the destruction of the flesh just simply means to cull them from the herd, so to speak. In other words: exclude them from congregational activities; e.g. worship, Sunday school, and prayer meetings. This is not as radical as totally breaking off contact with someone; it's purpose is church discipline rather than the social blacklisting practiced by Jehovah's Witnesses, et al.

66) 1Cor 5:6b . . Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?

The first few chapters of the book of Revelation list several of Jesus' complaints about the spiritual condition of specific churches. It's unlikely that every member of those churches deserved criticism, but Jesus slammed the churches as corporate bodies rather than individuals. So then if, and/or when, those churches failed to correct their shortcomings; then the whole church-- the good and the bad --was taken to task.

1Cor 5:7-13 . . Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

. . . I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world.

. . . But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

That's a good argument against church expansion. The bigger a congregation gets, the more difficult it is for the staff to gauge their sheep's spiritual condition.

Churches can't be expected to police every soul that comes thru their doors, but they should be expected to keep an eye on those they accept, and those they keep, on their membership roles because the substandard members have have as much influence upon Jesus' evaluation of their operation as the pious members.

67) 1Cor 5:6a . .Your boasting is not good.

The Corinthian church was liberal in its attitudes about intimacy. That's no surprise considering that particular city's culture in their day and age.

Then, as now, liberals tend to think of themselves as sophisticated and progressive; and vastly superior to stodgy, inflexible conservatives.

NOTE: An article recently in the Epoch Times shares some of the secrets of a former KGB agent whose standard plan for moving countries towards communism includes demoralization. He said that Americans make the task easy because they were, and are, corrupting themselves on their own; and actually accomplishing the task much quicker than the KGB could even dream.

America's moral decadence began gaining momentum with the counter culture back in the 1960s -- it continues to this day and, sort of like the expansion of the cosmos, is picking up speed instead of slowing down as might be expected.

68) 1Cor 6:1-6 . . If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

. . .Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another-and this in front of unbelievers!

Apparently some of the Christians in the church at Corinth let the Sermon On The Mount go in one ear and out the other.

Matt 5:39-40 . . But I say unto you: That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

Luke 12:57-59 . .Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

The Lord began his teaching in Luke with the words "Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?" In other words; if someone threatens to take you to court over a tort matter, and you know good and well he's in the right; don't force him to go to law. Instead, admit to your wrong and settle out of court. According to The Lord, it’s unrighteous to tie up the courts when you know your own self that you are the one who's in the wrong. There's just simply no righteous reason why Christian defendants and plaintiffs can't be their own judge and jury in tort matters.

1Cor 6:7-8 . . Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

The Greek word translated "defraud" is apostereo (ap-os-ter-eh'-o) which is an ambiguous word with more than one meaning, and more than one application. The meaning that seems appropriate in this instance is "deprive".

It works like this: Were I to trip and fall because of a crack in the walk leading up to the front door of the home of one of my kin; I wouldn't haul them into court over it because we're related; viz: any injury I might incur by tripping and falling because of a crack in their walk would be a family matter rather than a legal matter; and they have a right to be treated by me as family rather than foes. Were I to sue them for tripping and falling due to a crack in their walk; I would be depriving them of the lenience that kin have a right to expect from one another.

1John 3:14-16 . .We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. . . We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

I think it's safe to say that if somebody is comfortable taking a fellow Christian to court; then they certainly are not prepared to lay down their life for the brethren.

It's sad to see relatives suing each other in court; but it happens all the time. When the world does it; well, that's to be expected; but when Christians sue each other; that's dysfunctional.

69) 1Cor 6:18 . . Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body.

The Greek word for "fornication" is porneia (por-ni'-ah) which doesn't especially mean pornography; it means harlotry; a term that Webster's defines as sexual profligacy. Porneia would include things like prostitution, adultery, promiscuity, date sex, free love, shacking up, one-night stands, swingers, wife swapping, and that sort of thing.

The command is not to walk away from fornication; but to run away from it as if your very life depends upon putting distance between you and it. The same Greek word is used at Matt 2:13 where an angel instructed Joseph to flee into Egypt in order to save his little boy's life.

Fleeing is different than shunning. I think what we're talking about here are the times when a golden opportunity comes along to mess around with somebody who is absolutely irresistible. Some people would call that getting lucky; but in God's estimation, it's getting stupid if you play along and see what happens.

The phrase "sins against his own body" is sort of the same wording as at 1Cor 11:27 where it's said "whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of The Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of The Lord."

Some Christians construe 1Cor 11:27 as murder. Well if so, then sinning against one's own body would be suicide. But actually, what we're talking about here is gross contempt and disrespect. In other words; Christian fornicators are treating their body like a chamber pot instead of a holy vessel; and all the while dragging God's Spirit into situations that He finds extremely unbecoming.

1Cor 6:19 . . Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?

Eph 4:30 . . Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

They're also dragging Christ into shame and disgrace too.

1Cor 6:14-16 . . Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with an harlot? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with an harlot is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." (cf. Gen 2:18-24)

70) 1Cor 6:20 . . For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Christ's crucifixion and resurrection ransomed his followers from facing justice and the second death in the scene depicted at Rev 20:11-15. That was a mighty big favor, and I should think it earns him the right to expect a favor in return. All things considered; conducting ourselves in ways that honor God is really not too much to ask seeing as how it was He who donated His No.1 son's life to pay the price for people's ransom. (1Pet 1:18-19)

* Spirit (a.k.a. the breath of life) gave Man his sentient existence (Gen 2:7) viz: Man's body and spirit together pretty much describe the very fiber of his being.

71) 1Cor 7:2 . . To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

The above is especially pertinent in 2022 America. Fornication is everywhere: on a pandemic scale. It's in our music, in our schools, in the White House, in our offices, on our televisions, in our movies, in our novels, and in our conversations. People are even sleeping together on their very first dates.

Even Congressmen, Senators, and US Presidents are indulging in forbidden love. The previous Governor of Oregon was openly shacking up with a girlfriend.

According to the 2020 World Almanac and Book of Facts, there was a total of 3,855,500 live births in 2017. Of those, 1,534,000 were illegitimate (a.k.a. out of wedlock) which means that nearly 40% of 2017's live births were the result of immoral activity. Back in 1970, the ratio was only 10%.

This country is in a state of moral decadence, and steadily becoming more and more like the ancient city of Pompeii just prior to its destruction by the volcanism of Mt. Vesuvius.

It's important to note that 1Cor 7:2 makes it okay to marry for pleasure. My childhood religion taught me that it's a sin to marry for any other reason except procreation and that couples who decide to remain childless are living in sin. They get that from Genesis 1:28 where it's says: "God blessed them; and God said to them: Be fruitful and multiply". But that is clearly a blessing rather than a law. It's always best to regard blessings as benefits and/or empowerment unless clearly indicated otherwise.

Ironically the original purpose of marriage was neither pleasure nor procreation; it was companionship. (Gen 2:18)

72) 1Cor 7:3-4 . . Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not authority of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not authority of his own body, but the wife.

What we're talking about in that verse is the principle of private property in marriage that was established right from the get-go.

Gen 2:23-24 . . And Adam said: This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

There are no specific Hebrew words for "wife". The word for wife in that passage comes from the very same word as woman— 'ishshah. The possessive pronoun "his" identifies an 'ishshah as somebody's wife. The same grammar works for husbands too, for example:

Gen 30:20 . . And Leah said: God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons.

The Hebrew word for "husband" in that verse is 'iysh which is a nondescript word for males. The possessive pronoun "my" identifies a male as somebody's husband.

So Eve became Adam's woman; and Adam of course became Eve's man. They quite literally owned each other: consequently they had a right to all that a conjugal relationship with each other implies.

73) 1Cor 7:5 . . Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan not tempt you by means of your lack of self control.

I think it goes without saying that spouses have an inalienable right to expect their need for companionship to be satisfied in marriage; and if one, or both, is feeling lonely and marginalized at home, then they will be vulnerable outside the home when someone comes along with whom they click.

I heard a story some time ago about a rather conniving Christian woman who wanted a divorce from her Christian husband; but seeing as how God only allows death or adultery to dissolve the marital bond; she deliberately began shunning her husband in order to force him to think about finding an alternative; and when he did; she proceeded to divorce him on the grounds of unfaithfulness. That way, in her mind's eye, she was the victim and he the villain. (chuckle) What people won't do to circumvent the laws of God.

74) 1Cor 7:8-9 . . Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn.

Paul said it's good to remain single; but he didn't say it's best.

The Greek word for "burn" is puroo (poo-ro'-o) which means: to kindle, to ignite, to glow, and/or to be inflamed. I seriously doubt Paul meant to convey the thought that the believers who lacked self control at Corinth were in grave danger of the flames of Hell since he had already assured them in 1Cor 6:9-11 that they were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of The Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Paul was one of those kinds of men with a very low-powered libido. But not everyone is like him; nor is everyone cut out to live alone.

Webster's defines "celibacy" as (1) the state of not being married, (2) abstention from sexual intercourse, and (3) abstention by vow from marriage. Celibacy then, isn't limited to zero carnal activity; it includes zero marriage; even platonic unions.

Not long ago, a Catholic priest here in Oregon quit the priesthood after serving more than 30 years in order to get married because he couldn't stand being alone anymore. He wasn't especially looking to get naked with somebody, he just wanted a companion; which is exactly how normal guys are designed.

"The Lord God said: It's not good for Adam to be solitary" (Gen 2:18)

The problem with a vow of celibacy is that although it may hinder a priest from getting married, it does nothing to prevent him from pining for a female companion. 1Cor 7:9 should suffice to silence the mouths of ascetics who preach it's holy to abstain from every form of earthly pleasure; and also the mouths of those who preach it's a sin to marry solely to obtain someone to sleep with.

NOTE: Typical wedding vows are unconditional, i.e. couples, as a rule, don't promise to love each other in proportion to the amount of love they get from the other. It would be educational for couples to review their vows now and again to see just how conscientious they've been in complying with the unconditional portions of their vows.

75) 1Cor 7:10-11a . . Unto the married I command— yet not I, but The Lord —let not the wife depart from her husband: but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband.

Divorcing a man for any cause other than infidelity is unacceptable (Mat 5:32). However, according to Christ's sabbath teachings, the safety and welfare of human life takes priority over strict observance of religious laws and customs; which tells me that women can, and no doubt should, walk out on abusive husbands and get away from them.

76) 1Cor 7:11b . . and let not the husband put away his wife.

A man doesn't have sufficient scriptural grounds for divorce just by his wife walking out on him. But now should his estranged wife take up with a lover during their separation; that would definitely be sufficient. (Matt 19:9)

77) 1Cor 7:12-13 . . If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

It's very common for marriages to start off on common ground, and then later on to become religiously divided; like for instance when one of the spouses gets converted at a Luis Palau crusade. As long as the situation doesn't cause intolerable friction in the home, the couple should stay together.

1Cor 7:14-15 . . For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

According to Matt 5:32 and Matt 19:9, divorce and remarriage are holy only if one of the spouses has been unfaithful. So; if a believing spouse divorces their unbelieving spouse on the grounds of religious differences, and remarries; then as far as the New Testament is concerned, any children produced in a second marriage will be illegitimate.


79) 1Cor 7:15 . . But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

In this situation, Christians are neither required, nor encouraged, nor under even the slightest obligation to attempt reconciliation; rather, "let him depart" strictly forbids getting back together with the unbeliever.

The unbeliever's departure is a golden opportunity, to permanently resolve a difficult situation that Christ's followers would be foolish to let slip through their fingers.

80) 1Cor 7:17 . . But as God hath distributed to every man, as The Lord hath called every one, so let him walk.

"distribution" is likely talking about spiritual gifts. All of Christ's believing followers are supposed to have at least one.

"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit, yada, yada, yada." (1Cor 12:5-8)

The "call" is likely the venue where each individual's gift is put to good use for the Lord. I don't think we need to worry about how to find that venue; it'll find us. Thing is, stay in your own zone; don't crash somebody else's party and/or stick your nose into something that's none of your spiritual business.


82) 1Cor 7:18a . . Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised.

It was of course impossible to literally reverse circumcision in Paul's day. However, there did exist a procedure to ceremoniously reverse it. (cf. 1Maccabees 1:15)

"Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised." (1Cor 7:18b)

The circumcision in question is ritual circumcision; specifically the initiation rite into Judaism.

Paul's advice is very practical because when men undergo Judaism's circumcision rite, they obligate themselves to comply with the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God on oath per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

As a result; they put themselves in danger of God slamming them with the curses for noncompliance listed at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69.
(cf. Gal 3:10)

All one has to do is research the last 3,500 years of the Jews' history, up to and including the Holocaust, to see for themselves that God is serious about those curses.

FAQ: If 1Cor 7:18b is a hard and fast rule, then why did Paul circumcise Timothy at Acts 16:1-3?

A: The procedure wasn't done to initiate Timothy into Judaism, but rather, so that the Jews wouldn't make an issue of Paul associating with an uncircumcised Gentile which, in their minds, would effectively invalidate his message.

A similar problem exists today among Christians fixated on the King James translation of the Bible. They will not listen to a teacher, not even a Spirit empowered teacher, unless he quotes from the KJV. In their minds; all who use any other version are heretics right from the get-go.

83) 1Cor 7:20 . . Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.

I once knew a really good Christian man who felt guilty never going out as a missionary to a foreign land to help people less fortunate than himself. Well, I assured him that somebody has to stay back here in the States and hold down a job in order to earn the money needed to finance missions already in place.

The ratio of soldiers in the rear compared to the ones at the front is something like six to one. It takes a massive support base to keep our guys on the line out there facing off with the other guys; all the way from workers in state-side factories manufacturing war materiel, to the sailors, soldiers, and airmen moving men and materiel over land and seas, to the doctors and nurses staffing MASH facilities, to the guys and girls driving supply trucks to the front. We can't all be in the doo-doo. Somebody has to be in the rear with the gear.

So take comfort in knowing that if you're involved in the effort, then you're a part of the effort; and will be rewarded accordingly. (cf. 1Sam 30:1-25 and Matt 20:1-16)

84) 1Cor 7:21-22 . . Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in The Lord while a slave is The Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave.

Were this the only life, then slavery would be a terrible fate because there would be nothing better to look forward to; viz: Christian slaves should think of their situation as only a temporary set-back. They're missing out on the best that life has to offer for now, but I'm pretty sure they can look forward to Christ making it up to them in the next life.

The situation of Christians behind bars, without possibility of either release or parole, is little different than that of slaves. However, though their time inside may be for life, it isn't permanent. No, their time inside is just a bump in the road: it's not the end of the road.

As I was watching a prison documentary on NetFlix some time ago, one of the inmates interviewed— an elderly man sweeping with a broom out in the yard —said, in so many words: Guys come in here thinking their life is over. It ain't over, it's just different.

That old guy was a lifer, but he was at peace with his situation— an amazing attitude for an institutionalized man with no hope of ever again having a normal life on the outside.

85) 1Cor 7:23 . .You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

In other words; selling your body is one thing, while selling your soul is quite another; Christ has first dibs on that so don't even think about it.

The point is; whether bonded or free, every believer is indentured to The Lord. But it is his wish that believers remain free rather than make a habit of indenturing themselves to humans primarily because a free man's labor earns him wages: a portion of which can be donated towards The Lord's work; while a slave earns no wages to donate towards The Lord's work. Also; a free man is at liberty to move about and make himself useful to The Lord, while a slave's movements are pretty much limited to their human master's jurisdiction.

86) 1Cor 7:24 . . Brethren, let each one remain with God in the situation in which he was called.

If you're a slave; don't become a runaway slave. If you're a secretary, don't quit your job and/or abandon your husband to run off and become another Joan of Arc. Stay put; always keeping in mind that whether slave, free, or crusader; will make no difference in your association with God.

NOTE: Ambitious Christians sometimes feel as though they are not being utilized by God to their fullest potential, i.e. they could be doing more. Well; it just might be that in His opinion you're doing enough, and more is a nice thought, but unnecessary.

87) 1Cor 7:25 . . Now about virgins: I have no command from The Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by The Lord's mercy is trustworthy.

The Greek word for "virgins" is parthenos (par-then'-os) which basically refers to maidens and/or unmarried daughters.

There's an ancient temple in Greece called the Parthenon; which was at one time a sort of shrine to the goddess Athena (a.k.a. Minerva). Apparently it was common for Athena's followers to donate their young girls to her service.

I'm guessing that the Christians in ancient Corinth, influenced by Greek and Roman culture, were curious whether they were supposed to donate their young girls to Christ's service; viz: make nuns of them; which of course would seal them into celibacy and thus preclude the possibility of ever having a man and a family of their own.

Paul's claim to be "trustworthy" is saying that he could be relied upon to speak as Christ and for Christ on certain issues without having to first inquire the Lord's mind about them.

That's a pretty advanced degree of inspiration when somebody is 110% confident that their thoughts on a matter are God's thoughts.

Too many Christians are wishy-washy. They have an annoying habit of pontificating their opinions as the God's truth; when in reality they have neither the authority nor the confidence to stand up and announce themselves trustworthy, i.e. infallible.

88) 1Cor 7:26-28 . . Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.

The "present crisis" probably relates to circumstances that make it difficult and/or inadvisable to settle down and raise a family, e.g. Jer 16:1-4 and Matt 24:19-22.

However, marriage, overall, doesn't displease God; and best of all, the Corinthian Christians didn't have to donate their maidens to Christ as nuns; rather, the girls were perfectly at liberty to settle down with a man.

89) 1Cor 7:36 . . If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.

We have a saying in America that goes like this: So and so married what's her name and made a decent woman out of her. Well, most grown-ups know what that means without me having to say so. The point is: if a Christian man finds himself on the brink of exceeding the limits of propriety with his best girl; it's time to either break up or tie the knot.

And then too there's the so-called biological clock that stalks women during their productive years. It's cruel, unthinkable, and utterly selfish and psychopathic of a man to keep a girl on hold during those years if and when he's fully aware that she's longing to settle down and have a family of her own. A man who does that has no clue as the the meaning of words like love and honor.

90) 1Cor 7:39 . . A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must be in The Lord.

When people sound-bite a verse like that one out of context, they run the risk of coming to some very false conclusions; and one of those is that Christians can never, under any circumstances, divorce and remarry while their spouses are alive. Well, obviously they can, under certain conditions. (e.g. Matt 5:32)

However, a Christian ex-wife has to be careful not to re-marry outside her faith as that would be like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. (cf. 2Cor 6:14-18)

91) 1Cor 8:4-13 can be said to be a codicil to the 14th chapter of Romans.

Putting this into a modern context: In my State of Oregon. we have tavern-style restaurants; viz: a section of the tavern is a bar, and another section is dedicated to dining. The bar sections usually host State-sanctioned gambling machines and typically off-limits to minors.

Suppose you have Christian friends who sincerely feel it's wrong to dine in a tavern-style restaurant because of the alcohol and the gambling. Though you yourself might be comfortable in your own mind that there is no sin in dining at taverns, your friends are not so sure. So if you were to take them to a tavern, they would be committing sin in compromising their conscience; and you would be committing sin by knowingly leading them into a situation that causes them to make that compromise. (Rom 15:1-2)

Another pertinent example is Hooters; where the waitresses are cute buxom girls filled out in all the right places clothed in short shorts, and clingy tops; so that the situation is a double whammy of babes and alcohol. Supposing your Christian buddy sincerely feels it's wrong for Christian men to dine at Hooters? Then you would be wrong in taking him there for a burger even if you were convinced in your own mind there is nothing wrong with Hooters because you would be leading your Christian buddy into a situation that causes him to feel guilty and/or less of himself.

The Bible says that Christians should accommodate others to their edification (edification means to build someone up as opposed to tearing them down), Well, when we please ourselves to their detriment; that's very bad. Some guys feel that cute buxom girls and yummy gams are a God-send, while other guys regard them as the Devil in disguise. The correct route here is to accommodate the more sensitive conscience. (Rom 14:3-4)

Self defense is another gray area. Some Christians sincerely believe they should "turn the other cheek" in every situation, even criminal situations; while others believe it is permissible to use as much force and violence as is necessary to prevent the commission of a felony-- even lethal force and violence. Let each individual be fully persuaded in their own mind rather than someone else's mind. (Rom 14:5)


93) 1Cor 9:13-14 . . Don't you know that those who work in the Temple get their food from the Temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way: The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

The covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God in the Old Testament doesn't allow Levitical priests to own land where they can provide themselves sustenance by working their own farms and ranches. It's God's decree that a number of the sacrifices and offerings that the priesthood's constituents bring are dedicated to not just sustaining a friendly association with God, but also to nourishing His servants. (e.g. Ex 29:31-32, Lev 2:1-10, Lev 7:11-15)

Obviously then, 1Cor 9:13-14 is saying that Christian congregations ought to pitch in and help provide their churches' full-time Pastor with a decent standard of living. This is not optional; no, it's something that "The Lord has commanded."

* Though pastors may not always preach the gospel, many are at least capable of doing so. Of course pastors who never preach the gospel should be required to maybe go out and get a job somewhere and support themselves rather than depending upon a congregation to take care of them when they don't deserve it.

94) 1Cor 9:24-25 . . Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

The prize that Olympians won back in those days wasn't much. No medals: just a simple garland for the head consisting of a wreath made with wild olive leaves from a sacred tree near the temple of Zeus at Olympia. In time the leaves dried out and crumbled.

The important thing to note about 1Cor 9:24-25 is that the prize isn't a pass into the kingdom of God. No; the prize is an award rather than a wage; and there is more than one kind; e.g. Phil 4:1, 1Tim 4:8, Jas 1:12, 1Pet 5:4, and Rev 14:14.

95) 1Cor 10:6-7 . . Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to play.

The Bible doesn't provide much detail at Ex 32:1-6 as to what went on in camp while Moses was up on the mountain. But one thing we know for sure is that there was a golden calf; and the "eat and drink" to which the apostle refers was a ritual where people sacrificed to the calf and afterwards consumed the sacrifice as an act of communion with it; as a sort of unlicensed Passover celebration:

"Aaron answered them: Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me. So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said: These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt. (Ex 32:2-4)

Though the idol is singular, the grammar refers to it in the plural and that's likely because the Hebrew word translated "gods" is a plural noun. That last sentence really should say; "this is your God, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt" because the next two verses say that their celebration was in honor of Jehovah. (vs. 5 and 6)

Now, it's true that Jesus is the captain of our salvation in a manner similar to how Jehovah was the captain of their salvation; but I think we need to be careful how we honor him in that capacity. In other words: it's probably a good idea to avoid building a shrine for Jesus because sure enough people will begin kneeling before it and praying to it and maybe even kissing its feet so often that they wear one of its big toes down like Peter's in Rome.

96) 1Cor 10:8 . . Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

That event took place at Num 25:1-9. The fornication he's talking about wasn't believers with believers. It was believers with unbelievers. In other words; Christ's followers need to avoid getting romantic with unbelievers lest unbelievers lead his followers down the primrose path into something shameful and very unbecoming.

1Cor 15:33 . . Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.

97) 1Cor 10:9 . .We should not test The Lord, as some of them did— and were slain by snakes.

That event took place at Num 21:5-9.

The obvious lesson is that it's risky to complain about the quality, the quantity, the nature, and/or the absence of God's providence.

98) 1Cor 10:10 . . And do not grumble, as some of them did— and were killed by the destroying angel.

That incident took place at Num 14:2-38. The "grumbling" grew into a pretty large anti-God protest. Anon it became violent and within a hair's breadth of culminating in Joshua's and Caleb's assassination. That was a very grave moment in Israel's history.

Anyway, Moses' people were of the opinion that God had led them out of the frying pan into the fire by assigning them an impossible task; one that would result in everybody's deaths had they attempted to obey His orders; viz: a suicide mission. Joshua and Caleb tried to convince them it wasn't a suicide mission; and that with God on their side; they would not only survive; but easily succeed. They refused to listen; and thus became resolutely insubordinate.

Now; the obvious fatal error in their thinking was simply a lack of belief that God would assist them to conquer the land. In point of fact, they didn't believe God was able to in spite of all His amazing displays of supernatural power in rescuing them from Egyptian slavery; and that's what made their unbelief all the more inexcusable. Most of us today have never seen God in action; we've only heard tell of His exploits; but Moses' people were eyewitnesses.

Putting this in a modern context:

New Christians are often led to believe that accepting Christ will improve their mood and remedy their circumstances. Well; apparently somebody neglected to tell them that they would first have to knuckle down and live a life pleasing to both God and Christ. (John 14:23, John 15:11, Rom 12:1-2)

I'm sure you can see how easy it would be for a new Christian to become disillusioned, disappointed, and somewhat bitter at being seemingly tricked into trusting something that turns out to be too good to be true-- then they get to complaining that a number of Christ's commandments are too difficult; nobody can keep them so what's the point in even trying.

Well; that complaint is reasonable, I'll admit; but it's also insubordinate; and worse; it's contagious. If they want to give up trying to comply with The Lord's expectation; fine, just so long as they don't kindle large-scale rebellion in the ranks that results in taking an entire congregation down with them.

99) 1Cor 10:11-12 . .These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!

* Communism, cultural revolutions, book burning, and Islamic fanatics etc, have thus far failed to eradicate the Bible; which is very fortunate because without a knowledge of His people's history, God's modern-day followers would find it very easy to repeat their mistakes.

Moths that circle too close to the flame sometimes end up scorching their wings. That's an old proverb that pretty much echoes Paul's warning. Christians should never think that their favored position in Christ's body somehow insulates them from God's oversight.

The substandard compliance of Moses' people with God's expectations didn't bring about their return to Egypt; no, "once saved always saved" applied to them as well as to us. However, their conduct did cause them to "fall" that is: fall out of favor with God.

That's a risk even for Christ's followers whose destiny in heaven is a sure thing; iron clad and set in concrete. The good shepherd's sheep will never again be in danger of eternal suffering; but they are always in danger of losing out on the benefits of providence due to conduct unbecoming.

"If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love." (John 15:10)

.100) 1Cor 10:14 . .Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

There's that word "flee" again; which in many of its applications in the New Testament means to run for your life.

There's more to idolatry than just bowing and/or praying to sculptures, shrines, and paintings. It's possible to be an idolater without even being especially religious.

"Don't be greedy for the good things of this life; for that is idolatry." (Col 3:5)

Greed then, is one of the characteristics of an idolater. In other words: idolatry is both a personality disorder and a religious issue. Even atheists qualify as idolaters if they have a greedy personality; e.g. Wall Street's investment bankers and commodities traders. Their "golden calf" is capital gains

It's okay to want the good things in life: after all; God has given us richly all things to enjoy (1Tim 6:17). It's the insatiable desire for good things that makes people idolaters; in other words avarice; which is never content; no, avarice always wants more, more, more, more, and then some. Nowhere is that more rampant than corporate practices that walk over the dead bodies of their employees if that's what it takes for a better quarterly report.

I'm not exaggerating. Made-in-China outlet WALMART used to take out life insurance policies on its employees-- not for the families; but for itself. In other words; it named itself the beneficiary so that when an employee died, the big-box chain recovered some of the wages and benefits they had to pay the employee while they were on the job.

The policies are called COLI-- corporate-owned life insurance. But they're better known in the insurance industry as "dead peasant" and/or "dead janitor" policies. WALMART isn't the only big business doing this sort of thing. An attorney for the Hartford Life Insurance Co. estimates that one fourth of the Fortune 500 companies have them; which cover the lives of between 5 million and 6 million workers.

COLI policies seem to me a ghoulish way to make a buck; but then it shouldn't surprise us that idolaters have no soul to speak of seeing as how they revere profitability rather than God.

101) 1Cor 10:24 . . Nobody should seek only his own good, but also the good of others.

That's not saying it's wrong to seek your own good; just wrong to seek it at the expense of another's good; viz: selfish ambition might be an acceptable modus operandi in professional sports, politics, and big business; but it's totally unacceptable in one's association with fellow believers for whom Christ died.

And there's nothing new in that; I mean after all; it's just another way of expressing the so-called golden rule; which states: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (Matt 7:12)

102) 1Cor 10:25-26 . . Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for the earth is The Lord's, and everything in it.

Seeing as how God owns everything in existence, and answers to no one how He goes about managing it; then what He says goes because nobody can stop Him from making and/or enforcing whatever rules He wishes.

Whether God's rules are loving, moral, just, and/or right and wise is irrelevant. It's as futile to criticize lightning for being so bright, and thunder for being so loud, as it is to criticize God's rules because no matter how much people complain about thunder and lightning; there is nothing they can do to get them exterminated.

One of the Greek words translated "lord" in the New Testament is despotes (des-pot'-ace) from which we get our English word despot; defined by Webster's as a ruler with absolute power and authority.

A percentage of the meat sold by vendors in Corinth was either blessed by, or dedicated to, pagan deities. Paul instructed his friends to avoid asking which was which since it doesn't matter to God if the foods Christians ingest are religiously tainted without their knowledge: and since it's The Lord's earth, then if He says it's okay; then it's okay; but again, only if we're unaware of the meat's religious significance.


104) 1Cor 10:27-29 . . If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you "This has been offered in sacrifice" then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake— the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours.

If we go ahead and dine in someone's home knowing in advance the food is either dedicated to, or blessed by, a pagan deity, or that when they say grace around the table it will be to a god other than our own, or to a sacred personage that we do not accept; then our host is quite possibly going to come to the conclusion that his religion is just as valid as ours if we don't decline.

But please, when declining; be kind, gentle, thoughtful, tactful, and diplomatic about it, i.e. considerate of the other person's feelings about their religion just as we wish for them to be considerate of ours; especially here in the USA where religious tolerance is normally regarded as good manners, i.e. civil.

105) 1Cor 10:31 . . So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

One of the meanings of the Greek word for glory is "honor" which in this case can be defined as conducting one's self in a manner that's thoughtful of the principles and moral values of someone admired and/or held in high esteem; for example:

John 14:15 . . If you love me, you will obey what I command.

106) 1Cor 10:32-33 . . Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

The main idea here is courtesy with respect to cultural differences, viz: tolerance; roughly defined as sympathy or indulgence for beliefs, practices, and/or life styles differing from, or conflicting with, one's own.

No doubt a whole Sunday-morning sermon could be devoted to that passage in regard to how people are turned off to the gospel by the thoughtless ways they're treated by someone reputed to be a Christian.

107) 1Cor 11:1 . . Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

In the Catholic religion, a "saint" is a role model for others. Well, 1Cor 11:1 lists an exceptional model for everyone regardless of their age, race, gender, and/or religious affiliation.

Christ is very famous 'round the world for exemplifying the virtues of kindness, loyalty, forgiveness, lenience, and generosity.

108) 1Cor 11:3 . . But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

It never seems to fail that somebody will actually attempt to refute Paul's statement by quoting another of his own statements.

"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:26-28)

(chuckle) Paul pitted against Paul; the clash of the titans, only in this event, both titans are one and the same titan. Yes, both genders are one in Christ; but then Jesus and God are one also, yet there is a hierarchy in the Divinity because "the head of Christ is God"

109) 1Cor 11:4-5a . . Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disrespects his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disrespects her head

That's a little tricky seeing as how the word "head" can refer to a skull and/or a superior; so to clarify this a bit, I'm going to revise some of the above a little.

"Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disrespects Christ. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disrespects men."

Some of the world's women have made disrespecting men their life's work; and nothing makes them happier than finding ways to chafe one. When they become a Christian, it's imperative they give up that particular ambition.

This issue isn't really a gender issue, it's a progenitor issue.

The woman wasn't made directly from the dust of the ground like the man was. She was constructed with material taken from the man's body; which makes him every woman's father. So that when women disrespect men, they are actually disrespecting their paternal ancestor; which is a shameful thing to do in any culture; not just the Christian religion.

Christian women aren't required to cover their hair all the time; only whenever they pray and/or prophesy; especially in the presence of men.

No doubt this is very disagreeable with a certain number of Christian women whose heart's ambition is to assert their independence and demand equality. Well, if they don't want to cover their hair when praying and/or prophesying out of respect for men, then they should at least woman-up and do it out of respect for Christ's feelings about it; after all, he's supposed to be every Christian woman's lord and master. In other words; this is more a test of one's loyalty than a test of their politics.

John 14:15 . . If you love me, you will comply with what I command.

John 14:21 . .Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.

John 14:23-24 . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching . . He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

John 15:14 . .You are my friends if you do what I command you.

NOTE: According to 1Cor 14:37 and 1Thess 4:1-2, the apostles' doctrine is Christ's doctrine; it's a domino effect all the way to the top.

Luke 10:16 . .Whoever listens to you; listens to me. Whoever rejects you; rejects me. And whoever rejects me; rejects the one who sent me.

110) 1Cor 11:5b-6a . . it is just as though her head were shorn. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off;

In other words: if Christian women want to be treated equal to Christian men, then they should go all out to imitate Christian men by first of all getting themselves a man's haircut, and leave their hair short all the time like a masculine lesbian, viz; a dyke.

111) 1Cor 11:6b . . If it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.

Okay: if Christian women would be somewhat embarrassed to show up in church looking like a man and/or LGBT, then they have only one other option; and that's to show up in church looking like women. But in order to retain their femininity whenever they pray and/or prophesy; they are simply going to have to cover their hair with something or heaven will have no choice but to assume the worst about them.

NOTE: A number of rules regulating Christian women are often viewed as subjugation. But those rules are actually for the purpose of subordination rather than subjugation; i.e. Christianity's gender hierarchy is based upon primogeniture, i.e. the man was created before the woman; plus she was created from the man and for the man; and thus owes the very reason for her existence to a man; and her role is a supporting role rather than a starring role.

That's true Christian doctrine; it's ironic the number of Christian women calling themselves Christ's followers that don't like it and resolutely refuse to abide by it.

112) 1Cor 11:7-10 . . A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a token of authority on her head.

There's probably as much disagreement about the identity of the angels in that passage as there is about the sons of God in the 6th chapter of Genesis. Well; whoever these angels are, or whatever they are, they're apparently indignant when they see women in church acting as though they're equals with men.

Christians have simply got to come to grips with the fact that women will never be equal to men in the divine order of things. No, they will always be daddy's little girl. Ergo: women aren't from Venus after all; no, they're actually the daughters of Mars (so to speak).

POSIT: Paul meant that hair coverings are optional when he said: "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God" (1Cor 11:16)

RESPONSE: That is yet another example of people refuting Paul by quoting Paul.

The "custom" he's talking about is women praying and or prophesying bare-headed. Apparently the Jews' synagogues, and all the rest of the Christian churches in the Roman world required their women to attend with something on their heads. Since that was so, then why ever would the Corinthian Christians think that their women were somehow exempt?

"Judge in yourselves: is it proper that a woman pray unto God uncovered?" (1Cor 11:13)

The answer of course is NO; it isn't proper— it's insolent, inappropriate, and disrespectful; plus it is conduct unbecoming for women professing to revere Christ's right to tell his followers how to be Christians.

113) 1Cor 11:27-30 . .Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

The Greek word for "unworthy" is anaxios (an-ax-ee'-oce) which means: irreverently; which Webster's defines as: lacking proper respect or seriousness. In other words "sacrilege" which is gross irreverence toward a hallowed person, place, or thing.

"sinning against the body and blood of the Lord" is very similar language to 1Cor 6:18, which states: The immoral man sins against his own body. There, as here, we're not talking about suicide and/or homicide; were talking about desecration; which Webster's defines as: to violate the sanctity of, to profane— viz: to treat with disrespect, i.e. irreverently and/or outrageously.

People sin during the Lord's supper when they fail to take it seriously that the elements represent his body— not his so-called glorified body; but the one that was crucified; viz; his disfigured, bloodied body.

What do you suppose went on during those three hours of thick darkness around the cross? (Matt 27:45) Well; the abuse that the Romans inflicted on Christ was merely a warm up for the main event. When the darkness came; that's when God stepped into the ring; and the gloves came off. When the darkness lifted, people saw a Jesus so beaten and bloodied beyond recognition that they could scarcely tell he was the same man.

Isa 52:14 . .There were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man, and his form marred beyond human likeness.

Isa 53:10 . . Jehovah was pleased to crush him, putting him to grief

I have to wonder how ever a father could do something like that to his own son; especially for a world that wouldn't even appreciate that the injuries God inflicted upon His own son were for their benefit.

"A man ought to examine himself" is an imperative to make double sure that one's heart is in the right place when consuming the elements (a.k.a. species). Some people gulp them down as if they were nothing more than a snack of hot wings and cold beer during a Super Bowl game instead of a sacred reminder of what God's son endured to ransom their souls from a second death in the lake of brimstone depicted at Rev 20:11-15. Those people have to expect that a very indignant father is going to come down on them for that— maybe not with sickness, maybe not with death, and maybe not right away; but eventually with something; and really, who can blame Him?

NOTE: Observance of the  Lord's supper isn't a mandatory requirement; so if you are a bit nervous about going about it in the wrong way, then don't take chances; play it safe and refrain.

114) 1Cor 11:33-34 . . My brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

The command doesn't frown upon things like church banquets, men's' breakfasts, ladies' luncheons, and/or potlucks per se. What it's criticizing is a lack of congregational unity. Here's some comments leading up to that verse.

1Cor 11:17-22 . . Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.

. . .Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat The Lord's Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

Their lack of courtesy and unity during church functions was nothing short of hypocrisy seeing as how The Lord's supper speaks of sacrifice rather than selfishness, elitism, and hoarding. In other words; seeing as how Christians all share in Christ's blood equally— and deserve Hell equally —then everyone should be given equal treatment at church regardless of age, gender, skin color, intelligence, income level, nationality, what side of the tracks they live on, or social status.

None of Christ's body parts are untouchable as if Christianity is a caste system; nor are any expendable. God forbid that there should be some sort of value system in a gathering of people for whom Christ suffered and died equally for each one. That just wouldn't be right: it would be an insult to the principles underlying The Lord's supper.

Matt 26:27 . . Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying: Drink from it, all of you.

If Christians are all drinking from the same cup, then they should all be, at the very least, eating the same food and not be overly concerned about where they sit and/or who they sit next to and/or who they're seen with. And they should also make double sure that everyone gets enough to eat and that no one gets left out and nobody gets more than his fair share. And they should all sit down together at the same time. I just hate it when people don't wait for each other. Some get back to the table and start in gulping, slurping, clattering, and clanking while others from their table are still in line.

And they should also take into consideration the possibility that a number of their congregation are in assistance programs like TANF and SNAP. In other words; don't just bring enough food from home for yourself; but, if you're able, bring enough for those among you who can't bring anything at all. And for heaven's sake, don't bring a side dish of gourmet food along just for yourself. Leave your special gourmet stuff at home. There's just no excuse for flaunting your "sophistication" around church thus giving everyone the impression that everyone else's tastes are below yours.

115) 1Cor 12:24-27 . . God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no schism in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

In the beginning, Man was made in the image and likeness of God, which is a kinship with Divinity that makes all of us equals on the human plane. It's likely because of this equality that the Golden Rule is so appropriate.

In other words: the Golden Rule gives your fellow man the respect and dignity that the image and likeness of God deserves. I believe the very same principle applies to fellow members of the body of Christ.

116) 1Cor 14:1a . . Pursue charity

The Greek noun for "charity" in that command is agape (ag-ah'-pay) which, in most cases, is a very easy kind of love to practice. Though agape may, or may not, include the sentiments of fondness and/or affection like the Greek word phileo (fil-eh'-o), it always exemplifies benevolence; defined by Webster's as the disposition to do good, i.e. kindness, consideration, generosity, courtesy, lenience, tolerance, patience, sympathy, assistance, civility, friendliness, etc.

Agape love does no harm to its neighbor. (Rom 13:10)

In a nutshell, agape love allows us to be nice to people without particularly liking them.

117) 1Cor 14:1b . . eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.

This particular gift of prophecy is what might be called "inspirational speaking".

1Cor 14:3 . . Everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, their encouragement, and their comfort.

118) 1Cor 14:13 . . anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says.

If Acts 2:1-12 is the model; then a genuine Spirit-endowed tongue should be an honest to gosh real-life language instead of incoherent blabber that's intelligible to no one, not even the speaker.

"Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

. . . Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs— we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"

Mozart composed some amazing music; but had he not arranged the components sensibly, it would likely grate on people's nerves instead of entertaining them; sort of like when an orchestra verifies the pitch of its instruments just prior to a performance. The discordant din that the orchestra makes is a cacophony instead of a rhapsody.

1Cor 14:7 . . Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?

Modern tonguers typically don't compose anything pleasant to the ear. At least if they would chirp like birds their speech would be a discernible song instead of an unintelligible warble.

I was informed by a Charismatic friend that he prayed in a tongue because he couldn't express his deepest feelings any other way. Mind you this was an American adult of almost fifty years old; educated in America and spoke, wrote, and read English— his native language his entire life. So I asked him how it is that his command of the English was so poor that he could only express his thoughts in a language that not even he himself could either identify or understand?

1Cor 14:13-15 . . If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.

In other words: there are Christians out and about blabbering incoherently because they choose to, rather than because they have to. With just a simple act of their own will they could easily switch to something composed with real words.

Why on earth would a grown-up prefer incoherent blabbering? Isn't that the way small children communicate? Well, I can excuse small children because they're uneducated. But shouldn't supposed educated adults be just a bit more mature with their language and grammar than small children?

The true gift of tongues is very handy for communicating with foreigners. But in our day and age, Charismatics typically don't communicate with anybody, either foreign or domestic . As a result, Charismatics are looked upon with the same disdain as the kooks that hurl themselves on the floor, faint, scream, writhe, shout, and dance with rattlesnakes.

Well; not too many sensible people care to accommodate kooks, so if you're serious about influencing people for Christ, I highly recommend sticking to an intelligible language. Here in my country, English is a good choice because most people can understand it without requiring the services of a translator.

And for heaven's sake, please do not allow yourself to be drawn to participating in a tongues meeting.

1Cor 14:23 . . So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand, or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

119) 1Cor 14:22a . .Tongues are for a sign

The sign isn't intended for the benefit of believers, but rather, for non-believers.

1Cor 14:22b . . Not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.

The purpose of any tongue is communication.

1Cor 14:9 . . Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.

So if a tonguer is speaking a language nobody understands, they've actually created a barrier to communication; viz: a regression to the tower of Babel; and you can see for yourself how destructive that was to unity (Gen 11:1-9). Webster's defines "regression" as: movement backward to a previous, and especially worse or more primitive state or condition; viz: backwards thinking.

Since tongues are for the benefit of unbelievers, then it's de facto that a tongue should be a valid language that the unbeliever himself speaks and understands (cf. Acts 2:4-11). Somebody who exercises a tongue for any other reason has missed the point; and they're behaving like a little kid with a toy.

1Cor 14:20 . . Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.


121) 1Cor 14:27-28 . . If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

Tonguers are not permitted to speak all at the same time like a mob of howling political protesters. One of the reasons why I get so annoyed by talk shows like Today's Talk with Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kodb, and ABC's The View is because everyone talks all at once like a bunch of undisciplined dogs barking and yapping in a kennel. And the way they interrupt each other back and forth before the other can even finish a sentence is one of the very things we teach children not to do. You'd think those supposedly mature adults grew up without supervision the way they conduct themselves in a conversation.

NO! tonguers are to take turns; speaking one at a time, rather than an entire congregation of tonguers barking and yapping like dogs in a kennel whenever they "feel the Spirit" moving them. And if there's no one to interpret, tonguers are not permitted to speak at all. If Christians the world over followed those rules, it would put the charismatics out of business right quick.

FYI: These directives regulating the exercise of tongues in a church meeting were written by the apostle Paul— a duly authorized agent speaking on behalf of Christianity's Christ.

1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

Therefore, when Christians proceed to defy the rules regulating the exercise of tongues, they are in shameful rebellion against the very lord and master of Christianity; and yet, ironically, many tongue violators still have the chutzpah to pass themselves off as the Lord's Spirit-filled followers. However; a follower can be defined as someone who gets in step and/or falls in line rather than going off-reservation to do their own thing.

1Sam 15:23 . . Rebellion is as the sin of divination; and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.

1John 1:6 . . If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth

122) 1Cor 14:29-31 . .Two, or three, prophets should speak, and everyone else should weigh carefully what is said. If a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.

Though God endows certain Spirit-selected people in church with the gift of prophecy (1Cor 12:4-11) it is not He who endows them with the impulse to talk out of turn. Self control is their responsibility; not His.

1Cor 14:32 . . The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

Actual prophets channel God's thoughts; viz: they speak as the voice of God. People with opinions don't speak as the voice of God at all; they speak as themselves. True prophets are revelators; people with opinions are little more than a nuisance; they muddy the waters and if not kept in check will quickly derail a Sunday school class and drag it off onto perpetual debating that never gets to the bottom of anything.

123) 1Cor 14:34 . . Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak; but must be in submission (i.e. subordinate to the men)

It could be argued, with some merit, that this rule applies only to tongues and prophecy; but Paul goes further with this rule in a letter to his friend Timothy.

1Tim 2:11-13 . . Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

It's important to note that this is neither a gender issue nor an issue related to competence; it's an issue related to primogeniture. For that reason it's an insubordinate act of contempt for authority when Christian women lead Christian men in a Christian congregation.

FAQ: Doesn't 1Cor 11:3-10 permit women to pray and/or prophecy just so long as they cover their hair?

A: There is a gender limit to that privilege. In other words: Christian woman are not allowed to pray and/or prophecy in the hearing of a mixed congregation; i.e. where Christian men are present.

FAQ: What about women like Anne Graham Lotz. Is she out of order?

A: Though women aren't permitted to speak to a mixed-gender Christian congregation, that doesn't mean they can't speak to a mixed-gender public forum, or in the street; or in a coliseum, or in a stadium, or in a convention center, or on radio and television.

The best place in church for women blessed with the Spirit's gift to teach for Christ is in a women's group; and if a man should invade a women's group led by a Spirit-gifted woman; I think he should be asked to leave.

FAQ: What about Deborah in the Old Testament book of judges? Exactly how was she an exception to this rule, if indeed she was?

A: Things are quite a bit different now with Christ at the helm, i.e. Christ's association with his church trumps Deborah's association with the Jews. I do not recommend using her, or any other woman in the Bible, as an excuse to defy Christ's edicts in matters pertaining to the governance of Christian congregations.

Paul appealed to "the law" as the basis for 1Cor 14:34. Normally when Paul speaks of the law he's referring to the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Exactly where in the covenant that women are forbidden to preach, or teach, or usurp authority over men in matters of religion, I don't know. However, it's quite obvious that the covenant is very sexist, i.e. women are not permitted in either the priesthood or the Sanhedrin.

NOTE: The law doesn't always speak explicitly about certain things. Sometimes the law's rules and procedures imply principles that we call "the spirit of the law". Whereas anybody can parrot the law, not just anyone is able to discern the spirit of the law. (cf. Neh 8:1-8)

124) 1Cor 14:35 . . If women have questions, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

What's an inquiring wife to do if her husband is spiritually inept? I'd suggest that women married to spiritually inept Christian men, and/or women married to non-Christian men, and/or unmarried women; seek assistance from one of the ladies in church known to be somewhat of a Bible expert.

But for safety's sake, she shouldn't seek assistance from another woman's husband; even if he's the pastor, or a deacon, or an elder; it's not only disobedient, but that's also how rumors (and other things) get started.

125) 1Cor 14:37-38 . . If anybody thinks he's a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.

If your Sunday school, or your catechism class, is being chaired by somebody who disagrees with the Lord's commands regulating women's subordination, or the use and abuse of tongues, and/or the speaking of prophecy; then believe me you have a serious problem because it indicates that your leader is humanistic rather than inspired.

The Opposition                             

We've accumulated a list of common objections to The Lord' wishes regarding Christian women that I'd like to insert at this location before continuing with the numbered items.

OBJECTION:  Were females prohibited from ever saying a word in church; you would have to get rid of every female in your choir or church band.

RESPONSE: I am not at liberty to tailor the application of Christ's wishes to accommodate the internal affairs of modern churches. My only concern is that everything Paul taught reflected The Lord's commandments.

1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.

1Thess 4:1-2 . .We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by The Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by The Lord Jesus.

People who truly love The Lord will comply with the commandments that Paul gave the churches by The Lord Jesus. Those who don't truly love The Lord won't comply.

John 14:15 . . If you love me, you will comply with what I command.

John 14:21 . .Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.

John 14:23-24 . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching . . He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

John 15:14 . .You are my friends if you do as I wish.

OBJECTION: The apostle Paul said Christian women are equal to Christian men: "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:27-28)

RESPONSE: The man who wrote Gal 3:27-28 is the self-same man who penned 1Cor 11:5-10, 1Cor 14:34-35, and 1Tim 2:11-14. I'm always somewhat baffled by people who quote Paul's writings to refute Paul's writings. It's a zero-sum game that they play with scripture.

Paul is speaking of unity in Gal 3:27-28 while in places like 1Cor 14:34 and 1Tim 2:11-13 he's speaking of authority; and in matters of authority, there is eo ipso limited equality because somebody has to be the superior and somebody has to be the subordinate. In Christian congregations; gender-wise, females are the designated subordinates. So then, they have no right to sit on a church board, nor to pastor a church, nor to lead a mixed-gender adult Sunday school class. In point of fact, the women in mixed-gender adult Sunday school classes aren't even so much as permitted to open their mouths and participate in discussions.

OBJECTION: Philip had four daughters endowed with the gift of prophesy. "And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." (Acts 21:9)

RESPONSE: in a healthy congregation, female prophets are the norm rather than the exception (1Cor 11:5)

Let's say Philips daughters really did have a bona fides Holy Spirit gift of prophesy. Female prophets are at liberty to practice their gift in a congregation just so long as they comply with the rules listed below.

1Cor 14:29 . .Two, or three, prophets should speak, and everyone else should weigh carefully what is said.

1Cor 14:30-31 . .If an inspiring thought comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should pause. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.

1Cor 14:33-35 . . As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

1Tim 2:11-15 . . Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.

Though female prophets obviously aren't allowed to speak in a group containing Christian men; there's always a need for competent women to lead ladies' prayer meetings and Bible studies.

OBJECTION: Rhoda wasn't rebuked for speaking in church. (Acts 12:13-16)

RESPONSE: When Paul, by The Lord's fiat, says women are not allowed to "speak" in church, he's not saying they can't do things like chat, mingle, or answer the phones. His focus is upon tongues, prophesy, pastoring, and teaching.

OBJECTION: What do you mean by The Lord's fiat?

RESPONSE: Paul's instructions for regulating Christian women in Christian congregations were not his invention.

1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.

1Thess 2:13 . .When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God.

1Thess 4:1-2 . .We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by The Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by The Lord Jesus.

When people resist Paul's instructions regulating Christian women in a Christian congregation, they are actually resisting the wishes of the lord and master of New Testament Christianity; plus evidencing the fact that they are neither spiritual nor inspired while doing so and need to come to their senses and stop sinning.

OBJECTION: It's not a church when Christians meet in private homes to discuss the Bible.

RESPONSE: The early church, for the most part, met in private homes prior to Christianity's infatuation with campuses and cathedrals and such; for example :

Col 4:15 . . Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea; and to Nympha and the church in his/her house.

The Greek word for "church" is ekklesia (ek-klay-see'-ah) which just simply means: a calling out; viz: a popular meeting. The venue for the meeting is immaterial; it's the people themselves that constitute a New Testament church.

Matt 18:20 . . For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

OBJECTION: When under the authority of the pastor whom Christ has placed as head over a congregation; women are permitted to speak if the pastor says so. And as for you; my husband shall rule over me and no other man!

RESPONSE: Apparently that objector forgot that The Lord is a man: one that makes some demands upon his sheep.

Luke 14:26 . . If anyone comes to me, and hates not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

It has always fascinated me that there are actually women wearing the Christian label out and about who sincerely believe that pastors and husbands have somehow been endowed with the authority to overrule God.

Ex 20:2-5 . . I am The Lord your God . . you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself any graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth : you shall not bow yourself down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I The Lord your God am a jealous God.

Luke 10:27 . . You shall love The Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.

1Cor 8:5-7 . . For even if there are so-called gods— whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords") —yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone knows this.

OBJECTION: Who are you to tell me when I can speak in my own home!

RESPONSE: If and when a married couple host a mixed-gender home prayer meeting and/or a Bible study; then The Lord's wishes as per1Cor 14:33-35 and 1Tim 2:11-15 dictate when the women speak, pray, prophesy, and/or discuss the Bible. Husbands have no say in this matter. It is the expressed will of Christianity's monarch.

Luke 6:46 . .And why do you call me Lord and Master and do not what I say?

Mal 1:6 . . A son honors his father, and a servant his lord. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a lord, where is the respect due me?— protests The Lord Almighty.

OBJECTION: Paul's letters were written to specific churches with specific instructions for that one specific church. Not everything he says in his letters applies to every church.

RESPONSE: It was Paul's wishes that those letters be passed around and their information shared; for example:

Col 4:16 . . And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

2Thess 2:15 . .Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word of mouth, or by our epistle.

In particular, the rules regulating Christian women speaking in a Christian congregation aren't limited to a singular congregation; but to congregations plural..

1Cor 14:34 . . Women should remain silent in the churches.

It is The Lord's wishes that all congregations pay attention to what he says in regards to any one particular congregation.

Rev 2:7 . . He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

OBJECTION: Paul identified the woman Junia as an Apostle. "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me." (Rom 16:7)

RESPONSE: Were Junia, or any other female, one of The Lord's apostles, Paul would contradict Paul's own instructions that women are forbidden to either teach or dominate men in the Christian community. So then; to be "of note among the apostles" doesn't indicate equality of rank. It simply means the apostles thought very highly of those two early Christians.

Women active in early churches were what we today might call a Deaconess; which Webster's defines as: a woman chosen to assist in a church's ministry. Deaconesses then, by definition, are neither church managers nor leaders; no, their function is in a support role; like the women who accompanied The Lord.

Mark 15:40-41 . .There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome (who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him and ministered unto him) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.

And like the woman God assigned to Adam.

Gen 2:18 . . The Lord God said : It's not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helper for him.

OBJECTION: Priscilla took part in teaching Apollo. (Acts 18:24-26)

RESPONSE: That's a pretty weak argument since language like "whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." doesn't eo ipso indicate that that Priscilla took part in the discussion. During Abraham's interview with three men in the 18th chapter of Genesis, the plural pronoun "they" indicates all three men; yet only one of the three did all the talking.

OBJECTION: Have you considered Deborah of the Old Testament book of Judges? Surely you can't deny that The Lord put her in charge of men— in charge of a whole nation in fact.

RESPONSE: Deborah was a Jewess whose religion consisted of Israel's covenanted law. Christianity's commandments are not for her religion; on the contrary; they are for a very narrow cross-section of the human race identified as the people to whom Paul and his contemporaries penned their letters; in other words, Christianity's commandments are for Christians. However, the mandate below applied to her too.

Gen 3:16 . .To the woman God said : he shall rule over you.

So how did God justify putting a woman in charge during the time of the Judges? Well; in point of fact; it was an act of desperation because Moses' people at the time were so decadent that there was not a man to take Deborah's place. Even Israel's top military general was a sissy too scared to go to war without Deborah by his side. (shrug) Barak wasn't really a commander at all; he was a momma's boy. God pity any nation or church whose leaders are strong women leading momma's boys around by the nose; because you know what that's saying; right? Yes, it's saying that nation, and/or that church, is so decadent that there aren't men that are man enough to take their place.

Isa 3:12 . . As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

Judging by the context; the "women" in that verse no doubt refers to men lacking the virtue and moral fiber of real men.

NOTE: The preceding list of objections are but a sampling of the ways in which rebellious women, passing themselves off as Christ's followers, are stretching the limits of their imaginations to find loopholes and circumvent the God-given rules regulating the conduct of Christian women in a Christian congregation; the meanwhile risking potentially disastrous consequences.

Matt 7:21 . . Not everyone who says to me "Lord, Master" will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only they who do the will of my Father who is in heaven.

I just have to wonder how many of those assertive, presumptuous, confrontational women actually have the chutzpah to pray the below:

Matt 6:9-10 . . Our Father in heaven, holy be your name : your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Father's will? yeah sure; more like their own will be done.

126) 1Cor 14:38 . . But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

In other words: if a Bible teacher refuses to accept the apostle Paul as a duly authorized agent speaking for Christ; then his believing followers are under orders to ignore that person's opinion of themselves that they're a prophet and/or spiritually gifted.

127) 1Cor 14:39 . .Therefore, brethren, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

That rule applies only to people who actually have the gifts of tongues and/or prophesy because according to Rom 12:4-6, 1Cor 12:10, 1Cor 12:29-30, and 1Cor 14:5 not everyone does.

So then; it's okay to speak in a tongue, and it's okay to prophesy, but both must be done not only according to the rules, but also with intelligence and grown-up behavior.

1Cor 14:40 . . Let all things be done decorously and in proper order.

128) 1Cor 15:34 . . Come to your senses and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don't have the knowledge of God.

That directive is in connection with some of the Corinthians' insistence that dead people stay dead and never recover.

1Cor 15:12 . . Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Apparently some of the Corinthians couldn't see that Christ's resurrection is evidence that it's possible for dead people to recover. A measure of that blindness exists even today among people who insist that Christ's crucified dead body didn't recover. They insist he rose from the dead with another body: a so-called glorified body; and some even insist that Christ returned from the dead as a spirit being rather than a human being, and others postulate that his post crucifixion appearances were done as an angel disguised in a fully functioning human avatar. But if any of that were true, then Christ's prediction at John 2:19-22 would be easily invalidated.

According to 1Cor 15:51-53 and 1Thes 4:13-17, the natural remains of Christ's followers will first revive as they were and then be transformed into something very wonderful during a flight up to meet the Lord in the air.

There is really no sensible reason to not believe that Christ underwent the very same process, i.e. his crucified remains were first returned to life just as he predicted; and then forty days later, at some point during the flight up to heaven as per Acts 1:9, his revived mortal body underwent transformation into an immortal superhuman body.

According to 1Cor 15:34, people who believe Christ's crucified dead body is still dead aren't fully conscious; viz: they're like someone in a stupor; i.e. dazed.

129) 1Cor 15:56-58 . .The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is The Commandments; but thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing discourage you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of The Lord, because you know that your labor in The Lord isn't futile.

When I was a growing Catholic boy, The Commandments kept me anxious about my afterlife future. Well, no more; not since I discovered that Jesus' crucifixion somehow manages to insulate people from The Commandments' ability to ruin their chances for happiness in eternity.

"He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isa 53:5-6)

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross." (Col 2:13-15)

In light of those two passages. I have to agree with the angel the night Christ was born that his was a message of "great joy". (Luke 2:10)

Now; just imagine if somebody had it in the back of their mind that they might be giving The Lord unreserved quantities of their time, talent, and resources in a thankless endeavor only to end up being condemned anyway as per Matt 7:22-23. Well, Paul assured the Corinthians that Christ's work on the cross, and in the grave and out of the grave, guaranteed that wouldn't happen to them-- their future in a better life was in the bag; therefore they needn't fear that in the end their work for The Lord will be judged all for nothing.

Ironically; and at the time of his writing, the Corinthians were not all that spiritual. (1Cor 3:1-3). However; though their work in The Lord was being performed by Christians whose spirituality was basically substandard, they were still useful; which tells me that it isn't necessary to be a super saint before one can begin serving Christ. Just serve him as best you can and pay no attention to your location on the curve: keeping in mind that loyalty and reliability count more than quantity.

130) 1Cor 16:1-3 . . Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.

The "God's people" to whom Paul referred were Jewish Christians whose church was located at Jerusalem. They were having it pretty rough in the early days of Christianity.

Lest somebody should get the wrong idea, that wasn't a tithe. Christ left it up to each individual in Corinth the amount that they felt like donating towards the Jews' relief effort.

2Cor 9:7 . . Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

* People shackled with Socialism are typically under compulsion.

Tithes are not gifts; no, tithes are demanded rather than donated out of the goodness of one's heart. I don't give the government my taxes; no, they wrest them from me by force of law; viz: I pay taxes against my will, both reluctantly and under compulsion; and I have absolutely no voice in the percentage of my income that they take. When it comes to taxes: I am not cheerful; no, I am grudging. Well; that is not Christian giving. No; Christians have a faith that works by love, not by law. (Gal 5:6)

NOTE: It would be interesting to take a poll among America's churches just to see, out of curiosity, how many have a program for assisting Jewish Christians over in the modern State of Israel.

131) 1Cor 16:13a . . Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage; be strong.

The Greek word for "men of courage" is andrizomai (an-drid'-zom-ahee) which basically means to act manly; defined by Webster's as: (1) having qualities generally associated with a man; viz: strength and virility, and (2) appropriate in character to a man.

Well; we sure don't want the Christian women in church to become so-called strong women; i.e. she-males. Masculinity is appropriate for men; but definitely not for women. We want them to stand firm in the faith in a feminine way rather than a man's way.

132) 1Cor 16:14 . . Do everything in love.

The Greek word translated "love" in this instance is agape (ag-ah'-pay) which doesn't necessarily indicate fondness or affection, but always indicates benevolence; defined by Webster's as the disposition to do good, e.g. generosity, charity, altruism, compassion, and sympathy, i.e. thoughtful, cordial, affable, genial, sociable, cheerful, warm, sensitive, hospitable, considerate, tactful, diplomatic, accommodating, cooperative, kind, courteous, lenient, tolerant, patient, helpful, civil, and friendly, etc.

I would imagine that "everything" includes the business of managing a Church in a loving manner.

If a church officer's management practices tend to be more Machiavellian than Christian, then maybe he really ought to consider stepping down and finding himself a seat in a pew rather than a chair on the board. I mean it; this is not something to take lightly. 1Cor 16:14 isn't optional; it's mandatory.

133) 1Cor 16:15-18 . .You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

Paul and his associates depended pretty heavily upon the hospitality of local believers for accommodations and daily necessities. Congregations do well to follow the examples of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus either by opening their homes to missionaries or by funding their stay in a motel, providing them with some pocket money, and possibly a rental car. (Universal gift cards would be good too.)

134) 1Cor 16:20 . . Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Kissing was a common form of greeting in the old world; and still is in the Middle East and certain parts of Europe; but here in America— a super-sized racial/cultural/ethnic amalgam of customs from all over the globe —it's wise to dispense your kisses with discretion. Some of us don't even like to be hugged, let alone bussed; and if you should perchance try to make physical contact with an autistic Christian, you're liable to cause them a panic attack; so go easy on the touchy-feely stuff.

The people to whom Paul referred as "one another" are one's fellow born-again Christians. We're not required to be cozy with unbelievers. You can be courteous to them, yes (cf. Matt 5:47) but reserve especially warm greetings for your siblings; viz: those who've undergone a second birth as per John 1:12-13 and John 3:3-8, and thus share your adoption into God's home as per Rom 8:15-17.

135) 1Cor 16:22 . . If anyone love not The Lord, let him be accursed.

One's love of The Lord is exemplified by loyalty.

John 14:15 . . If you love me, you will comply with what I command.

John 14:21 . .Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.

John 14:23-24 . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching . . He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

Does a Muslim have to be a terrorist to be accursed? No; they only have to be a loyal follower of Muhammad ibn `Abdullāh instead of a loyal follower of Jesus Christ; same goes for Atheists, Nonreligious, Baha'i, Buddhists, Chinese Universalists, Confucianists, Jains, Kabbalah mystics, Shintoists, Spiritists, Taoists, Zoroastrians, Jews, Sikhs, and Hindus— they're all accursed and there is nothing to be gained in arguing about it.

How many people am I talking about? Well, as of mid 2014, worldwide there were:

550,000 Scientologists
1,500,000 Mormons
8,200,000 Jehovah's Witnesses
7,794,000 Baha'i
515,951,000 Buddhists
451,292,000 Chinese Folk Religionists
8,424,000 Confucianists
974,597,000 Hindus
5,567,000 Jains
14,142,000 Jews
1,673,590 Muslims
2,819,000 Shintoists
24,918,000 Sikhs
14,183,000 Spiritists
8,660,000 Taoists
196,000 Zoroastrians
828,594,000 Nonreligious
692,111,000 Agnostics
136,483,000 Atheists.

The grand total of just those categories alone is 5,369,071,000

If those figures are in the ball park, and if classical Christianity is the reality; then a minimum of at least 75% of the earth's 2014 population of 7.2 billion people didn't love The Lord.

NOTE: Scientology, though not actually a religion, has an IRS tax status as such.

Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are Christians in the popular sense, yes, but not in the classical sense.

Joseph Smith's movement is a spin-off; in other words: there's some classical Christianity in Mormonism, but comprises only a portion of Mormonism. The rest of it is extreme, to say the least.

Neither do Jehovah's Witnesses qualify as Christians in the classical sense. Charles Taze Russell's movement is a spin-off too. There's some classical Christianity in the Watchtower Society's doctrines, but comprises only a portion of Russell's doctrines; and his slant on it is very peculiar.

BTW: An informative book that I personally consider an essential volume in every Christian's library is called: "Kingdom Of The Cults" by Walter Martin.

136) 2Cor 2:6-8 . . The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

The cause for which Paul wrote that section was a guy in the Corinthian church sleeping with his stepmother (1Cor 5:1). Paul had commanded the congregation to not only hold the man's feet to the fire, but also to ostracize him.

Some time had passed since then, and the man was apparently regretting his actions, and broken off the illicit relationship with his kin, so it was time to let him back into the group. No doubt the humiliation of it all had a tremendous impact upon his attitude— probably upon the congregation's too because at first their attitude wasn't all that good about it either. (cf. 1Cor 5:2)

Here in America scolding and ostracizing a church member would probably just make them resentful rather than repentant. (cf. Ps 51:17)

FAQ: Does 2Cor 2:5-10 support the Watchtower Society's shunning and Scientology's disconnection?

REPLY: Those organizations practice an extreme form of ostracizing that oftentimes destroys friendship bonds, destroys family ties, and even destroys marriage vows.

Christian ostracizing is pretty much limited to congregational functions, e.g. worship, communion, prayer meetings, banquets, etc. Taking Paul to extremes puts people in jeopardy of failing to comply with Christ's instructions at Matt 5:44-48. (cf. 2Thess 3:14-15)

137) 2Cor 2:10-11 . . If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven— if there was anything to forgive —I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

One of the opposition's tactics is to create disunity in a church. Sure enough when that happens— as when one portion of the congregation believes in judging and ostracizing while the other doesn't —people start taking sides and the church will end up divided into cliques and factions. According to the lord and master of New Testament Christianity, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Paul mentioned that his extension of forgiveness was "in the sight of Christ". There exists some controversy as to the exact meaning but I think it's just saying that Paul's forgiveness of that man was done in accordance with Christ's approval; to the end that the Corinthians all go along with it, i.e. stand together as one in their compliance with the apostle Paul's decisions.

138) 2Cor 5:20-21 . . We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

There's two different aspects to reconciliation. One is a criminal justice kind of reconciliation (Rom 5:6-11, Rom 6:3-11, 1John 2:2) and the other is a fellowship kind of reconciliation. (Gen 4:1-7, Gen 5:22-24, Gen 6:9, Gen 17:1, 1John 1:3-7)

For example, a man and his wife may not be speaking to each other; and sleeping in separate beds; but they're still married: they're just not getting along; in other words, they're out of fellowship with one another. It's God's wishes that His own walk with Him in fellowship while they're waiting for their departure; and the Corinthians weren't doing very well at it.

In order to restore diplomatic relations between themselves and their Father above, that congregation had to knuckle down and deal with sin in their midst in accordance with their master's wishes rather than their own. Compare Josh 7:2-26 where Moses' people couldn't win anymore battles until they first dealt with a sin in their midst.

It's ironic that a fully functioning Christian church like the one at Corinth was in need of reconciliation with God. How many Christian churches are just like that today? They pride themselves in being Spirit-filled congregations, yet their congregational attitude is completely out of touch with Christ. Yes, Christian congregations are oftentimes out of touch and need to come to their senses and reconnect or else they risk becoming like the church at Laodicea where the central figure of Christianity is depicted outside the building banging on the door trying to get someone's attention to let him in. (cf. Rev 3:14-22)

139) 2Cor 6:1-2 . . As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain; for He says: In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.

There's a saving relative to the sum of all fears.

A saving relative to providence and support.

A saving relative to regeneration,

A saving relative to hope, and

A saving relative to resurrection.

When people fail to discuss those five savings separately and distinctly, they inevitable embroil themselves in futile debating that never gets to the bottom of anything.

The saving relative to the sum of all fears is of course obtained entirely thru faith via the kindness and generosity of God, viz; it's a gift, totally free of charge and no strings attached; no works required. In point of fact, it has to be obtained that way or nobody would make it to safety when they passed on— all would be lost.

On the other hand; works are very key in the saving relative to providence and support.

John 15:1-7 . . No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

Nobody really wants to be a stick of ol' dried up yard debris, but that's what happens when Christ's followers go off-reservation and follow their own noses.

Anyway, the Corinthian church was in danger of losing out on God's providence and support due to their leniency with sinful members in their midst. Were that to continue, then they'd still be a Christian church alright, but it would be a christless Christian church.

1John 1:6 . . If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

The Greek word for "fellowship" is koinonia (koy-nohn-ee'-ah) which basically refers to partnership and/or participation.

140) 2Cor 6:14-18 . . Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?

. . . for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith The Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith The Lord Almighty.

That commandment clearly forbids intermarriage between Christians and non-Christians. Failure to comply is not only grossly disobedient, but it's unwise and can have tragic results; for example:

Gen 6:1-2 . .When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.

If we posit that the "sons of God" were believers and the "daughters of men" were not; then it would appear that back in Noah's day, believing men threw caution to the wind and built themselves harems of unbelieving women. What happened to those believing men when it came time for the Flood? Well, for one thing; they had lost their piety.

Gen 7:1 . .The Lord then said to Noah: Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.

None of the other sons of God in that day were righteous; hence they weren't invited aboard the ark. All of those men— whose women were chosen based solely upon sensual allure sans any spiritual prudence whatsoever —perished in the Flood right along with everybody else.

Another incident is located at Nehemiah 13:23-31; which led to the break-up of homes. Were Nehemiah to do so in our day, the media would crucify him for cruelty to children. But Nehemiah wasn't the one at fault. His people had entered into illegal marriages; consequently their families became collateral damage.

141) 2Cor 7:1 . . Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of deference to God's will.

Webster's defines "deference" as affected and/or ingratiating regard for another's wishes. Deference is the opposite of resistance, rebellion, defiance, indifference, stubbornness and/or doing things your own way.

Contaminations of one's body would include things like drug addiction, alcoholism, adultery, promiscuity, gluttony, eating blood, etc.

Contaminations of the spirit likely refers to things that influence one's thinking and/or have an effect upon the personality; for example: Critical Race Theory, the political philosophies of Carl Marx, Mao Zedong, and Vladimir Lenin, Planned Parenthood, Liberalism, LGBTQ Sex Education, etc.

* The promises are those listed at 2Cor 6:14-18.

142) 2Cor 8:11-15 . . If the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.

. . . At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.

* The equality we're looking at here has nothing to do with private property, nor the distribution of wealth; viz: we are not looking at politics, so please don't attempt to defend and/or promote Socialism with that passage.

It's inevitable that some churches would be disadvantaged compared to others. For example: here in the USA's big cities, churches have no lack of resources to take care of themselves; while small town churches are barely scraping by. The charitable thing for the big-city church to do is take a small town church under its wing, like any normal person would a needy relative. The idea here is to moderate the small church's disadvantages and keep things closer to a level playing field, so to speak, i.e. fair vs. unfair.

NOTE: "if the willingness is there" tells me that church officers should not pressure and/or shame their people into sharing their abundance, viz: should not attempt to break down their resistance; like talking people into buying cars and vacuum cleaners, so to speak.

The directive is an excellent passage for debunking the so-called Faith Promise; which is a popular scheme for conning church members into pledging money they don't have while expecting God's providence will somehow provide it. That is not the Lord's way. By means of Paul, the Lord says to help out with what you already have, not what you hope to have later; I mean: it is not His wish to copy ENRON's mark-to-market accounting practices and/or futures trading with pork bellies and soy beans.

143) 2Cor 9:7 . . Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver.

* People shackled with Socialism are typically under compulsion.

Towards what end is the giving spoken of in the New Testament? To finance ambitious building programs? Well; Christians back then met in homes. Did their contributions go towards obtaining more homes to meet in? No.

Within the context of the New Testament, giving in the early church was charitable. It met needs rather than expenses; and those needs were typically congregational rather than universal; viz: their charity went towards those amongst themselves and/or other congregations that were hungry, sick, injured, homeless, alone, helpless, missionaries, full-time-church officers, orphans, widows, abandoned, and/or oppressed, etc.

144) 2Cor 10:7 . . If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should reconsider that we belong to Christ just as much as he.

It's amazing that any Christian's ego would be so inflated as to think themselves holier than an apostle, however, there are some people out there infected with a pretty bad case of conceit who are up to it.



147) 2Cor 13:5 . . Examine yourselves, whether you're in the faith; test your own selves. Don't you know of your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you're all reprobates?

The only proof-positive way for individuals to know for sure whether Christ is in them is by getting it from the horse's mouth.

Rom 8:15 . .The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

The Greek word translated "testifies" means to corroborate; defined by Webster's as: to support or help prove (a statement, theory, etc.) by providing information or evidence.

This kind of support usually isn't public: it's private. In other words: it's one on one, spirit to spirit, heart to heart. Needless to say then, this kind of corroboration is supernatural rather than academic which is why Paul said to test "your own selves" rather than others because no one but you and God together can do this for you.

Smokey the Bear says: Only you can prevent forest fires, whereas scripture says: Only you can know whether Christ is in you.

148) Gal 1:8 . . But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

The Greek word for "accursed" in that passage is anathema (an-ath' em-ah) which has to do with banishment and/or disassociation.

An application of this, within the epistle to Galatians, is 5:4 where it says:

"You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."

Whenever Paul spoke of "law" he was usually referring to the five books of Moses per Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. So, in a nutshell; the anathema clearly applies to people who insist that it's necessary to comply with the Ten Commandments to get to heaven, e.g. Acts 15:5.

More groups worthy of anathema are those who insist that Christ's crucified dead body wasn't restored to life; for example Jehovah's Witnesses. Another group is the Latter Day Saints-- a.k.a. Mormons --whose version of the gospel is embellished with some very strange notions. And then there's Muslims, whose holy book, the Koran, says that Jesus didn't even die on the cross let alone undergo resurrection.

The JWs currently number around 8.7 million, the Mormons around 16.6 million, and the Muslims around 1.9 billion. That's a whopping minimum of 1,925,300,000 people that we should never, ever, assume counted as Christ's friends and followers.

149) Gal 5:1 . . Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The yoke of bondage about which Paul wrote is no doubt the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; which is described by Acts 15:10 as "neither our fathers, nor are we, able to bear"

A very serious problem with that covenant is that it allows no atonements for willful disobedience.

Num 15:30-31 . . Anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes The Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised The Lord's word and broken His commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.

Deut 27:26 . . Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.

Heb 10:26-27 . . If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment.

The pronoun "we" in that passage refers to the author's fellow Jews whose association with God is regulated by the first covenant, viz: the yoke of bondage. Christ's followers don't associate with God by means of that covenant; nor are they expected to.

150) Gal 5:2-3 . . Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

The Greek word for "man" in the above passage is anthropos (anth' ro-pos) a common word in the New Testament for humans of either gender. The specific word for males is arrhen (ar'-hrane) and/or arsen (ar' sane).

Modern females undergo conversion to Judaism by means of a ritual bathing called Mikveh; which, for them, is equivalent to male circumcision. The exact process by which females in the Old Testament underwent conversion-- e.g. Ruth --is unknown, but for certain, covenanted circumcision is specifically a male requirement. (Gen 17:9-14)

I think it safe to assume that the circumcision Paul warned against was a nondescript label that included not only the male kind but also by whatever means that females in his day underwent conversion to Judaism.

Seeing as how the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy doesn't specify a God-given procedure for female conversion to Judaism, then I'd guess that just about any method would be sufficient so long as the ritual is conducted by someone authorized to do so.

The primary "value" of Christ that's lost by conversion to Judaism is access to God via Jesus' high priesthood. Judaism's high priesthood gets no closer to heaven's ear than the inner sanctum in the back of the Temple down here on the ground; and even that's only once a year on Yom Kippur; whereas Christ's high priesthood is seated in heaven at God's right hand 24/7/365; which of course is far and away superior to Judaism's access to God.

151) Gal 5:13a . . You, my brethren, were called to be free. But do not use your liberty to indulge the base nature;

Christ's followers are sometimes accused of practicing a religion that gives people a license to steal, so to speak. Well; that's true to a certain extent because his followers do have immunity from any, and all, of the curses that the Old Testament imposes on scofflaws per Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69. However, God prefers that people dead to Old Testament law not allow human nature be the dominant force in their lives. (cf. Rom 6:1-13 and Col 3:1-17)

152) Gal 5:16 . . I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the base nature.

Some years ago, in a boatyard where I was employed on Shelter Island in San Diego, I was listening to a young Christian boast of his dedication to Christ. So I asked him: What about the command to walk in the Spirit? How are you doing with that one?

Well, the brash, pleased-with-himself youngster admitted he didn't even know what that meant, let alone how to do it. (chuckle) In regards to "dedication" Mr. Super Saint hadn't even got to first base yet. (judging by the fact that was on a third marriage the last time we touched base, I'd have to say he never did get the hang of it.)

Anyway, there's nothing mystical about this. Walking in the Spirit is just simply pleasing God rather than letting your natural impulses and/or your own thinking control your conduct all the time.

For example: "Abstain from food tainted by idols, from promiscuity, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood." When a Christian complies with those instructions; they're walking in the Spirit, but when they're indiscriminately eating whatever, drinking whatever, and sleeping around without regard for God's feelings about it; then they're fulfilling the desires of the base nature. It's that simple.

NOTE: The Greek word translated "lusts" can refer to bad lusts as well as good. For example:

"And he said to them: I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." (Luke 22:15)

Christ's eager desire is translated from the same Greek word as the lusts spoken of in Gal 5:16


154) Gal 5:25-26 . .  Since we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The life that's in pagan folks is the natural life that they obtained from Adam. There's an additional kind of life in Christian folk which they obtained from God, viz: there is natural life and there is supernatural life, i.e. there's the life that's in the flesh, and there's the life that's in the Spirit. When a Christian's natural life ends, they live on in the power of the Spirit's life.

In a manner of speaking: natural life is terminal; whereas supernatural life is perpetual, i.e. unlimited.

"I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish" (John 10:28)

Webster's defines "conceit" as excessive self-appreciation of one's own worth or virtue.

To my knowledge, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with having strong core values and/or believing in yourself, but if you should find yourself somewhat indignant and/or resentful when others don't believe in you, or when they think very little of your core values; then watch out because that's a symptom of conceit, and it will hinder you from complying with The Lord's instructions in regard to getting along with fellow believers.

People motivated by conceit risk losing a place in Messiah's world.

Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Greek word for "provoke" is prokaleomai (prok-al-eh'-om-ahee) which means to challenge; viz: to get in somebody's face in an obnoxious, assertive, militant manner; which is a kind of behavior that prevents people from deserving identification with God's people.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peaceable: for they shall be called the children of God." (Matt 5:9)

The Greek word for "envy" is phthoneo (fthon-eh'-o) which means hostile toward a rival, or towards someone believed to enjoy an advantage. In other words: we're talking about a competitive spirit-- not the good-natured, friendly kind but a malicious kind of competitive spirit that resents others doing better than itself, or more popular than itself, or more recognized than itself, or more admired than itself; viz: it's all about self.

Rivalry is a very destructive passion. It got Abel slain by his own brother, and it got Christ slain by his own people. Rivalry makes otherwise sensible people behave contrary to their own better judgment, and gets them embroiled in oftentimes unnecessary vendettas; e.g. gender rivalry, political rivalry, financial rivalry, and racial rivalry. Those kinds of rivalries are very destructive influences.

155) Gal 6:1a . . Brethren, even if someone is caught in the very act of any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness;

The Greek word for "trespass" is interesting. It can refer to willful misconduct and/or to unintentional misconduct. Seeing as how willful misconduct is dealt with harshly and summarily as per 1Cor 5:1-13 while in this situation gently, then I'd say Gal 6:1 is referring to unintentional misconduct; which doesn't merit a public flogging; but rather a quiet talk; and the more private the better in order to avoid embarrassing the unintentional offender.

Restoration does not apply to visitors; only to members on a church's roles; i.e. the congregation. The visitors' business is none of our business so don't go sticking your nose in it.

The Greek word for "restore" basically means to repair or adjust, viz: restoration applies to maladjusted Christians, i.e. the ones whose misconduct is habitual, and quite possibly detrimental to a church's overall health.

A spirit of gentleness precludes the use of bullying, intimidation, rage. yelling, demeaning comments, lecturing, scolding, biting sarcasm, ugly remarks, carping criticism, brow beating, and such. Those kinds of behaviors aren't gentle, no, they're cruel and abusive. They're also unwarranted when the accused has committed an unintentional trespass.

NOTE: The instructions given in Gal 6:1 pertain only to spiritual Christians. The garden variety, rank and file pew warmers— viz: marginal Christians —need not concern themselves with it.

In churches where people are conceited, assertive, confrontational, embroiled in petty rivalries, debating, quarrelling, and maybe even jostling for notoriety; the spiritual ones are obviously going to be as scarce as California Condors.

"each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted." (Gal 6:1b)

The Greek word for "tempted" is somewhat ambiguous. It primarily means to test; but can also mean endeavor, scrutinize, entice, and/or discipline.

I think what the restorers are being cautioned against is going about a right thing in a wrong way so that they themselves wind up taken to task for conduct unbecoming. In some people's minds, the end justifies the means so long as it benefits the so-called greater good. But that's Machiavellian thinking rather than Christian thinking.

In other words: the restorers need to tread lightly because if they go after an alleged offender like a lynch mob; then they themselves should expect to be seen by others as a toxic menace and a threat to congregational peace, trust, and cohesion.


157) Gal 6:2 . . Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

It's human nature to shun people with problems so they don't drag us into a world of inconvenience and/or negativity. But that is not what I call fulfilling the law of Christ; which reads thusly:

John 13:34-35 . . A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

The love that is defined by "As I have loved you" is a kind of love willing to suffer inconvenience, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and disgrace for the sake of another. Christ's love isn't a fault-finding attitude; it's a supportive virtue: it doesn't only feel your pain, it gets involved in your pain.

Church can be the loneliest place on earth when nobody cares enough about you to get involved in your pain; but instead would just as soon not know about it. Sadly, there is about as much love for one another in modern churches as there is amongst an audience of strangers at the movies. I sincerely believe that a lot of that indifference has to do with modern churches just simply being too big, too busy, and too complex; where individuals are as anonymous and inconspicuous as a drop of pigment in a bucket of paint.

158) Gal 6:6 . . And let the one who is taught the word, share all good things with him who teaches.

159) Gal 6:7a . . Don't be deceived into thinking God is a silly old fool.

A silly old fool is a senior citizen that people know they can mistreat and/or take advantage of without fear of complaint, resistance, or reprisal.

People in our day and age are easily persuaded that God is harmless and that the Old Testament's version of God is obsolete, i.e. no longer someone to fear since Jesus came along. But as God was capable of withholding blessing for conduct unbecoming back then; He still is.

160) Gal 6:10 . . So then, whenever we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Good can take any number of forms but I think a useful description we could apply here is "beneficial".

Jesus did good (Acts 10:30) i.e. he was very definitely beneficial; not just on the cross or by his teachings, but in non practical ways too.

Those who are of the "household of the faith" are actually kin; viz: siblings; and like they say: charity begins at home.

Some churches have what they call a deacon's fund; to assist members who are down and out and/or in dire straits.

And don't overlook your church's senior citizens. Some may be getting up in years and finding it difficult to even maintain their own homes and yards anymore. Chores may not seem all that spiritual; but pitch in anyway if for no other reason than your assistance is beneficial.

161) Gal 6:12-13 . .Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the commandments themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh. (cf. Acts 15:5-32)

"boast in your flesh" is somewhat similar to missionaries and such bragging about the number of their proselytes.

Gal 6:14-15 . . But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor un-circumcision, but a new creation.

Some Christians truly believe it's possible to be an adherent of both Judaism and Christianity at the same time (e.g. Messianic Judaism). No, that's against the rules. Judaism must be abandoned if one is to take up Christianity because human sacrifice is illegal within the terms and conditions of the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. If you try to take up both religions at the same time, each will invalidate the other.

And besides, Moses' covenant falls short. It offers lots of blessings for compliance, but it doesn't offer a miraculous transformation from one's natural-born self to a new self— a self that takes after God instead of human parents.

"He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world." (2Pet 1:4)

The Greek word translated "corruption" speaks of decay, i.e. rot. In a nutshell, human nature is a lethal cancer. People who've got it are dead men walking, viz; human nature is fatal, no exceptions. Moses' covenant can treat human nature's symptoms, but can't cure human nature. That requires nothing less than a miracle; like when Jesus cured lepers and restored their flesh like new.

"if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law." (Gal 3:21)

For those unfamiliar: "the law" speaks of Moses' covenant. It's a term that appears quite often in the New Testament.

162) Eph 2:11-22 . .Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called uncircumcised by those who call themselves the circumcision— that done in the body by the hands of men —remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

. . . But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household

Christians are prone to forget; and one of the things they forget is that their religion didn't begin with the Roman Catholic Church; no, it began with Abraham; and the purpose of Gentiles hearing the gospel is not so they can replace the Jews as God's chosen people, but rather, so they can join them and share in their blessings.

Rom 11:17-18 . . If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, don't boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You don't support the root, but the root supports you.

John 4:22 . . Salvation is of the Jews.

163) Eph 4:1 . . As a prisoner for The Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Some time long ago, a pastor in Arizona utilized a highway billboard to poll people's opinion not of Christianity, rather; what people think of Christians. Here's the gist of his message:

Text Me-- 480-630-1152

The results of the poll can be viewed at iamlandonmacdonald on Instagram.

Some responses:


Not everybody despises Christians, but for sure everybody despises a phony. i.e. Christians don't have to live the life of a saint to become a saint, but they do have to life the life of a saint in order to merit the respect their religion deserves.

164) Eph 4:2 . . Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, putting up with another in love.

The Greek word translated "love" in that passage is agape (ag-ah'-pay) which is fortunate because it doesn't necessarily speak of affection like the Greek word phileo. It mostly pertains to personal conduct, e.g. civility, courtesy, sympathy, thoughtfulness, tolerance, charity, kindness, lenience, understanding, diplomacy, etc. which are common social skills that even the most insensitive clod on earth can practice if they put their mind to it.

"Humility" is one of those virtues that people love to talk about; but rarely ever seem to exemplify. The Greek word is a tongue twister. It's tapeinophrosune (tap-i-nof-ros-oo'-nay) which means humiliation of mind, viz: modesty; defined by Webster's as free from conceit and/or vanity.

"Conceit" is defined as excessive appreciation of one's own worth or virtue, viz: arrogance, i.e. a superiority complex and/or a master-race mentality. (A conceited supervisor was a very key factor in the Chernobyl disaster. Had he been more reasonable, and less arrogant, the disaster might've been easily averted.)

"Vanity" is defined as inflated pride in oneself, viz: narcissism and/or self adoration.

Cosmetics and figure-shaping undergarments don't really qualify as the kind of vanity that Paul is talking about; which is a kind of vanity that goes way beyond just trying to look your best.

Sinful vanity is an ugly creature. It's self aggrandizing and it isn't gentle either, on the contrary; vanity can be quite cruel and competitive, caring only what's best for itself. Vanity abhors associating with people whose station in life is decidedly below its own; and God forbid someone below themselves should have the nerve to correct either their conduct or their knowledge.

"Patience" is defined as the power, or capacity, to endure without complaint something and/or someone difficult or disagreeable; especially when it comes to certain folk who seem to have a knack for getting on people's nerves.

165) Eph 4:3 . . Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

The Spirit is the one thing that all born-again Christians have in common regardless of their denominational affiliation. The Spirit keeps them combined in a fraternity held together with stronger force than a labor union.

Peace can be roughly defined as the absence of strife, e.g. debating, quarrelling, rivalry, competition and/or envy, etc.

The Spirit has much to say in regard to Christian social skills; and if each and every believer would listen to Him, the natural result is going to be harmony wherever and whenever they associate with one another.

166) Eph 4:17-19 . . So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the pagans do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

The Greek word translated "sensitivity" is apalgeo (ap-alg-eh'-o) which refers to apathy; defined by Webster's as a lack of feeling or emotion and/or a lack of interest or concern, i.e. indifference. This is the only place in the entire New Testament where apalgeo appears so we can't compare its use in other contexts.

There are immoral people out there who wish they could stop themselves but can't. I wouldn't call them indifferent; apalgeo applies to hard-core immoral folk who view themselves as perfectly normal and satisfied with themselves just as they are; having neither wish nor interest in any other way of life.

The Ephesian church had a number of those hard-cores in their midst that needed to wake up and realize that their attitude was maybe acceptable as citizens in the Ephesian culture of that day, but thoroughly unacceptable as Christians in any day. One of the very things they cherished, and that made their lives worth the living, had to go.

167) Eph 4:20-24 . .Surely you heard of Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

When God completed the six days of creation, He went on sabbatical (Gen 2:1-3). The six days were all bounded by an evening and a morning. The seventh wasn't bounded; i.e. it hasn't ended, indicating that God has yet to resume creating things for the current cosmos. So then, the new self spoken of in the passage above isn't for the current cosmos, rather, it's a self created for a cosmos yet to come. (Isa 65:17, 2Pet 3:13, Rev 21:1)

The Greek word translated "desire" is epithumia (ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah) which means: a longing.

Epithumia by itself doesn't indicate sinful desires. The very same word describes The Lord's personal longing to dine in the company of his apostles just prior to being crucified. (Luke 22:15)

The kind of longings in view are "deceitful" which is from the Greek word apate (ap-at'-ay) and means delusion, which Webster's defines as: a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self, or persons or objects outside the self, that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary— in other words: deceitful longings are delusional longings, a.k.a. pipe dreams.

For example: the old saying "The grass is greener on the other side" which of course is an unreasonable expectation. Some people sincerely believe that they would be happier if only they had more money. Well; sad to say, money can be guaranteed to buy you neither love nor happiness.

Delusional longings get people to chasing after pots of gold at the end of rainbows that may or may not satisfy; viz: sometimes the dream is better than the reality. Meanwhile, their life clock is winding down while they're in pursuit of those pots and they are steadily becoming more and more secular and unspiritual. Paul "insists" that Christ's followers avoid squandering their time and energy chasing after delusional longings; viz: keep their feet on the ground and their heads out of the clouds.

168) Eph 4:25 . . Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

One's neighbor is not the same as one's brother; i.e. the former is an acquaintance, the latter is kin.

The command is directed at "each" of you— i.e. individuals —because one dishonest Christian disgraces all Christians, and raises questions about the credibility of their religion because dishonesty is the oil that lubricates propaganda machinery.

NOTE: Dishonesty is an unkind, destructive behavior. (Prov 26:28)

169) Eph 4:26a . . In your anger do not sin.

Anger isn't eo ipso evil. It's how one manages their anger that matters. Anger can be a very useful tool when it's applied by somebody who knows what they're doing. For example:

Mark 3:5 . . And when Jesus had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man: Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Everybody gets angry from time to time; just don't let it drive you to doing something contrary to your better judgment, e.g. violence, profanity, malice, cruelty, uncivil behavior, spite, ugly remarks, emotional outbursts, demeaning comments, grudging, hysteria, shouting, shrieking, spraying spittle, throwing things, etc.

170) Eph 4:26-27 . . Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.

The Greek word translated "wrath" indicates rage; defined by Webster's as violent and uncontrolled anger.

People in that state of mind are susceptible to doing things, and saying things, that they will very much regret later.

Apparently the Devil is quick to find uses for Christians stuck in a lengthy rage, i.e. they become what's called in the spy business; an asset

171) Eph 4:28 . . He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Isn't is just amazing that early Christian church members were active criminals? Yes, right there in the Ephesian church were thieves. Ironically Paul didn't forbid the Ephesian Christians to steal, no, of all things; he ordered them to stop stealing; and not only to stop stealing, but to stop stealing for a living!

You'd think church would be the one place on earth where you'd be safe from crime, but not so. Back in the 1970's I sang bass in the choir of a monster Baptist church in San Diego. The 90+ member choir would meet in a rehearsal room and the ladies would all leave their purses in there when we moved out to be seated in the loft. The room had a very sturdy door and was always securely locked when we left the room.

Well, one Sunday morning when we returned to the room, that Fort Knox door and its lock were smashed open and all the ladies' purses were rifled. No other door in the hallway was damaged so the break-in wasn't random, viz: that burglary was an inside job.

172) Eph 4:29 . . Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

"helpful" is from the Greek word oikodome (oy-kod-om-ay') which means: to build up (as opposed to tearing down).

"foul or abusive" is from the word sapros (sap-ros') which means: rotten, i.e. worthless (literally or morally) viz: inappropriate.

The foul and abusive category no doubt includes not only profanity, but also biting sarcasm, thoughtless remarks, demeaning comments, chafing, relentless fault-finding, sneering, ridicule, mean spirited rejoinders, mockery, and unnecessary criticism.

FAQ: Why was it okay for Jesus and John the Baptist to sometimes speak to people in an abrasive manner?

A: Special men of God— e.g. prophets, priests, etc —operate under orders differing from what's required of ordinary rank and file pew warmers. (e.g. John 3:34, John 8:26, John 8:28, John 12:49, and John 14:24)

173) Eph 4:30 . . Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

The Greek word translated "grieve" is lupeo (loo-peh'-o) which means: to distress; to make sad; for example:

"The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the Earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the Earth, and He was grieved in His heart." (Gen 6:5-6)

So then, we can safely conclude that the Holy Spirit of God is especially grieved when one's conduct is unbecoming, and every intent of the thoughts of one's heart are only secular and/or impious, i.e. evil continually.

The Greek word translated "redemption" means to ransom fully. In short, those sealed with the Spirit have their salvation locked in; however, it won't be finalized until they step into a new, immortal body; which is yet a future event (Rom 8:23-25). So then; the "day of redemption" could be said to be speaking of closure.

174) Eph 4:31 . . Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.

It wasn't The Lord's wish that Ephesian Christians avoid all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice; no; on the contrary, he wanted the Ephesians to "get rid" of them.

"bitterness" is from the Greek word pikria (pik-ree'-ah) which means: acrid, poisonous, and/or toxic (literally or figuratively). Christians like that are nothing in the world but deadly reptiles.

Rom 3:13b . .The poison of asps is under their lips

"rage" is from thumos (thoo-mos') which means: passion (as if breathing hard). Passion is just the opposite of reason; and as everyone knows, emotions are incoherent; so it's to be expected an emotional person is not acting rationally. This is a kind of conduct that Paul says brings sorrow to God's Spirit.

"anger" is from orge (or-gay') which means: desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), i.e. (by analogy,) violent passion, ire, (by implication: punishment)

People overcome by orge typically want some satisfaction; even to the point of at least your ruin; if not your death.

"harsh words" is from krauge (krow-gay') which means: outcry.

Out-crying is what protestors do; in other words: assertive, in-your-face confrontational complaints and/or demands.

"slander" is from blasphemia (blas-fay-me'-ah) which means: to vilify. Webster's defines "vilify" as: (1) to lower in estimation or importance, and (2) to utter slanderous and abusive statements against; viz: defame, discredit, and/or denigrate.

A statement need not be false in order to qualify as slander; it need only to be unnecessary; viz: you'll often hear people say: Well, I was only telling the truth. Were they? No, that's a ruse. In reality, they're insensitive; and they don't care who gets hurt by their thoughtless remarks.

The Lord notices the words people say, and he also takes note of the spirit in which they say them.

  Matt 12:36 . . But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

"malicious behavior" is from kakia (kak-ee'-ah) which means: badness, i.e. (subjectively) depravity, or (actively) malignity, or (passively) trouble:

Malice sometimes includes the element of "spite" which Webster's defines as: petty ill will, or hatred, with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart. Compare that to the Greek word for "persecute" in the eighth Beatitude which means, literally: to pursue; viz: to stalk, to hound, to harass.

Webster's defines "thwart" as: (1) to run counter to so as to effectively oppose or baffle; viz: contravene, and (2) to oppose successfully; viz: to defeat the hopes or aspirations of; in other words: to deliberately get in someone's way; block, discourage.

Whew, that Ephesian church was as rough-hewn and crude as the old logging community of Stump Town (now Portland) out here in the Oregon of the 1800's. They cussed, they brawled, they bad-mouthed, they held grudges, they were thieves, they were arrogant, they somehow had the idea that Jews were below them, they were immodest, conceited, vain, and impatient, they walked unworthy of their calling, and they were splintered into cliques.

NOTE: I've heard more than one expositor praise the Ephesians as "the church at its spiritual peak" but I thoroughly disagree. Yes, there were some outstanding individuals, but by and large that congregation's spiritual condition was decadent, deplorable, despicable, and unbecoming.

Paul began his letter to the Ephesians by saying that he made mention of them in his prayers; asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, might give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation; and also that the eyes of their heart might be enlightened. (Eph 1:17-19)

Well, it seems to me that kind of prayer isn't for advanced Christians, rather, for Christians just starting out. From thence, Paul went on to explain some of Christianity's most treasured doctrines, which I assume the Ephesians had no knowledge of till Paul wrote to them.

I'll grant that the letter to the Ephesians is lofty, but I will not grant that the Ephesians themselves were lofty: not from how Paul lectured them.

175) Eph 4:32 . . Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Within the context of the letter Paul wrote and sent to the Christians residing in the ancient city of Ephesus; the objects "one another" and "each other" are exclusive; viz: the comments refer only to Christ's fraternity of Bible-believing Christians rather than the world at large. So if you're unwilling to be kind and compassionate to outsiders; at least be so with people at church so as to help prevent church from becoming a hostile worship environment.

The Greek word translated "kind" is chrestos (khrase-tos') which means: employed; viz: useful.

Chrestos is found in only seven places in the New Testament, and without exception implies being beneficial to others for their own good rather than using people to benefit your own self.

The word for "compassionate" is eusplagchnos (yoo'-splangkh-nos) which means: sympathetic.

Webster's defines sympathy as: 1) an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other, 2) inclination to think or feel alike: emotional or intellectual accord, 3) feeling of loyalty: tendency to favor or support, 4) the act, or capacity, of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another, 5) sensitivity, and 6) heart; as in "have a heart".

Eusplagchnos would make a good substitute for a word found in one of The Lord's beatitudes.

Matt 5:7 . . Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

"merciful" is from the word eleemon (el-eh-ay'-mone) which means pretty much the same thing as eusplagchnos: compassionate and sympathetic.

It used to be that Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts were trained to be useful to others as just simply a matter of good deeds and good citizenship. I don't know, maybe they still are; but I've known lots of churchians who were totally useless to others because they're infected with an ugly spirit of conceit, rivalry, and indifference. Far from being kind and compassionate; those Christians are actually sociopathic and don't even know it.

The word "forgiving" is charizomai (khar-id'-zom-ahee) which basically means: to grant as a favor; viz: gratuitously, i.e. courtesy.

Webster's defines gratuitous as: 1) given unearned or without recompense, 2) not involving a return benefit or compensation or consideration, 3) costing nothing: free, 4) not called for by the circumstances: unwarranted, 5) complimentary, 6) gratis, and 7) voluntary. In other words; charizomai seeks no reciprocation; it never says "you owe me one"

Sailors are oft heard to say that the sea is very unforgiving: meaning it allows no room for error or weakness. Christians ought not be like the sea. We ought to be the most forgiving people on the planet; and not because we expect others to reciprocate; but just because we enjoy being gratuitous. For some Christians though, courtesy is an effort.

Eph 4:31-32 isn't easy. What we're looking at there is not just good citizenship; no, what we're looking at is something divine in both its nature and its behavior.

176) Eph 5:1 . . Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

Webster's defines "imitate" as to follow as a pattern, model, or example; i.e. reproduce.

One's dad is probably the most important role model a kid can have, that is, if he's a good man; otherwise, he'll just be another bad influence. It's pretty kool when a kid can look at its dad and honestly say, from the bottom of its heart: "Dad; when I grow up, I want to be just like you".

177) Eph 5:2 . . Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Christ's love went way beyond just being friendly and helpful. His was a sacrificial kind of love; in other words: it was protective and supportive at the cost of deep expense to himself— but not just as a humanitarian. Christ's life counted for more than just being neighborly, his life of love was an act of service to God.

John 6:38 . . I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.

John 8:29 . . I do always those things that please Him.

In point of fact, God prefers to be served by concern for others than by rituals and/or church attendance.

1John 3:16 . .This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Hos 6:6 . . For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

178) Eph 5:3a . . Among you; there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality

One of Communism's tactics when going about destabilizing a country and bringing it under their control is to corrupt its morals; which is for sure at least one of the reasons why Communism seeks to undermine and eradicate religions and/or ideologies that emphasize decency.

179) Eph 5:3b . . nor any kind of impurity, or of greed

Impurities can be defined as contamination and/or pollutants. For example water is impure when it contains fertilizers, fungicides, insecticides, parasites, heavy metals like lead and cadmium, untreated sewage, and/or radioactive fall-out from a nuclear accident.

It's tempting to zoom in on naughty fantasies and porn-like behavior as the impurities that Paul is talking about; but any conduct unbecoming is an impurity.

So then, maybe you're an usher in church; but are you dishonest? And maybe you sing in the choir, but are you a malicious gossip? And maybe you attend mid-week prayer meetings; but do you deny your children even common courtesy and their fundamental human rights? And maybe you teach Sunday school, but do you go over the speed limit, feed parking meters, J-walk, and drift through stop signs? And maybe you even stand in the pulpit; but do you have a drinking problem?

Webster's defines "greed" as avarice; which is an excessive, or insatiable, desire for wealth or gain. Wanting money per se isn't sin. It's wanting money simply for the sake of accumulating it that's bad. Ben Franklin once said a penny saved, is a penny earned; but to greedy people a penny saved is a penny stockpiled. Were you to ask a greedy person to name the dollar figure and/or the amount of real estate that would satisfy them, they would likely respond: "more"

180) Eph 5:4 . . Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

"out of place" is a pretty good way to put it; sort of like a fish out of water, viz: heavenly people are mature up there, and really ought to be down here.

The Greek word translated "foolish talk" is morologia (mo-rol-og-ee'-ah) which means silliness; viz: buffoonery.

Webster's defines a buffoon as: 1) a ludicrous figure; viz: a clown, and 2) a gross, and usually ill-educated stupid person; viz: an ignoramus. I think I would put "gross" high on the list of undesirable buffoon-type behaviors. It's okay for kids to be gross, but thoroughly unbecoming for a mature adult.

The word for "coarse joking" is eutrapelia (yoo-trap-el-ee'-ah) which means witticism in a vulgar sense; viz: ribaldry. Double entendres would probably fall into that category along with suggestive remarks.

The word for "thanksgiving" is eucharistia (yoo-khar-is-tee'-ah) which means: gratitude; viz: grateful language.

You know "thank you" is not a dirty word, nor is gratitude a bad habit. Christ's people should never take the attitude that just because somebody is doing their job that they don't deserve recognition.

One of my favorite romantic comedies is "No Reservations" starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. Prior to filming, Catherine took a job waiting tables to get a feel for working in a restaurant.

On several occasions, patrons didn't even look up at her nor speak in a cordial, courteous tone when they ordered. It struck her as remarkable that some of the people whom she was serving totally took her for granted and displayed not the slightest inclination to even so much as acknowledge her as a fellow human being, let alone express any gratitude for her taking care of them.

181) Eph 5:5-7 . . For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person— such a man is an idolater —has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with futile words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be numbered among them.

Christ's followers are not idolaters in any sense of the word. Jesus Christ is not, nor has he ever been, a tin god. The term "such a man" identifies non Christian people who not only lack an inheritance in the kingdom of God, but they're on a road to ruin and the the sum of all fears.

In contrast to "such a man" Christ's followers are joint heirs with him in his Father's estate. (Eph 1:11, Rom 8:16-17)

A joint-heir is different than a regular heir. Regular heirs are apportioned an individual percentage of their benefactor's estate. But joint-heirs inherit, not a percentage, but the entire estate, as community property. According to Peter, this is already set up and beneficiaries are safe to feel confident they won't lose it. (1Pet 1:3-5)

Christ's believing followers are in no danger of the sum of all fears.

John 5:24 . . I assure you; those who listen to my message, and believe in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. (cf. Heb 8:6-12)

1Thess 5:9-10 . . For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ; who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.

Col 1:13 . . He has rescued us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of His dear son.

In addition, none of the sins committed by Christ's believing followers go on an indictment against them.

2Cor 5:19 . . God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them (cf. Jer 31:31-34)

The Greek word in that passage for "imputing" is logizomai (log-id'-zom-ahee) which means to keep an inventory; in other words: an indictment.

At the great white throne event depicted at Rev 20:11-15, the dead's personnel files will be opened. Well, were one of Christ's believing followers to appear before God at that event, their file would contain not one single sin: zero; viz: nothing with which to charge them.

Rom 4:8 . . Blessed is the man whose sin The Lord will never count against him.

So then, in light of the facts that Jesus Christ's followers are joint heirs with him in his Father's estate, already citizens of the kingdom, and in absolutely no danger of the sum of all fears; then we may safely interpret Eph 5:5-7 to simply mean that things like immorality, impurity, and greed are 110% inappropriate for them, i.e. those unchristian behaviors are unbecoming for a people whose status is so far above any on Earth.

182) Eph 5:8-9 . . For you were once darkness, but now you are light in The Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)

That verse reveals that light and dark are not only conditions but also categories, just as death and life and not only conditions, but also categories; for example:

"Death was cast into the lake of fire." (Rev 20:14)

Seeing as how death can't be picked up and thrown like a baseball or a javelin, then I suggest that death is likely a category consisting of everything and anything one can possibly imagine that God considers dead to Himself; both visible and invisible. Darkness then, would be something like that.

Anyway; some Christians just can't seem to get it through their thick skulls that when somebody pins the Christian label on themselves, they're expected to act like one.

Matt 5:16 . . Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Rom 6:1-2 . . Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? God forbid! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

2Tim 2:19 . . Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

1John 1:6 . . If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.

In that verse, darkness is a world of its own.

NOTE: An example of the dreadful opposite of Matt 5:16 is David's tryst with Bathsheba that resulted in the death of both her husband and her baby boy. Nathan the prophet informed David that his conduct reflected on The Lord so that instead of cultivating respect for God, his conduct caused people then, and now, to lower their opinion of Him. (2Sam 12:14)

183) Eph 5:10 . . Find out what pleases The Lord.

That's contrary to human nature's universal inclination to tune God out.

"There is no one who seeks God. All have turned away." (Rom 3:11-12)

"What would Jesus do?" is a popular modus operandi, but it depends too much upon one's intuition; and doomed to failure because the information we need isn't available like that, no, it's something that has to be found out, i.e. researched; which involves learning by means of books, sermons, lectures, seminars, radio Bible teachers, Sunday school classes, and personal Bible reading.

This particular process of discovery has to include the Old Testament too in order to avoid the possibility of missing something important.

Rom 15:4 . . For whatever things were written before were written for our learning

1Cor 10:11 . . Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

184) Eph 5:11-12 . . Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of what the disobedient do in secret.

For an example of this directive: Genesis is mute about the despicable things that the Sodomites had in mind for the two men sheltered in Lot's home. It's as if inspiration drew a curtain over Sodom and said: This is just too shocking. I'm not going to spell out what the people of Sodom wanted that night. You will just have to use your imagination.

Jude didn't give away much either. He simply, and concisely, wrote that they were utterly unchaste; even to the point of having their way with innocent visitors. (Jude 1:7)

I think it's fair to ask just exactly how one might "expose" shameful deeds without at least identifying them and/or describing them to some degree.

The Greek word for "shameful" is aischron (ahee-skhron') which means indecorum; defined by Webster's as: impropriety. In other words, despicable acts should never be described explicitly in polite company, nor in the presence of children; which quite obviously precludes the use of a pulpit for explicit descriptions since congregations are an amalgam of men, women, wives, husbands, dads, moms, and underage children.

I don't think The Lord's directive forbids any and all mention of despicable acts. In other words, his directive doesn't say that we cannot speak in polite company about how that the Bible disapproves gays, lesbians, bestiality and pedophiles, etc. just so long as we don't start describing those disturbing facts of life in all their lurid detail.

185) Eph 5:14 . .Wake up, O sleeper! . . rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Sleeper and dead are probably talking about indifference seeing as how Christ's believing followers are all among the living rather than the dead. (John 5:24, Rom 6:11, and Eph 2:1-5)

So the command to "rise from the dead" would apply to Christians who honestly think that compliance with their master's instructions is not all that important.

Rom 8:12-13 . . Brothers, we have an obligation-- but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die.

Christianity is not only a faith to believe in, but it's also a faith to live by; as James wrote in 2:17:

"Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

Dead faith is still a faith, but it's not a vigorous faith, viz: dead faith lacks a lifestyle that's compatible with Christ's moral values. (cf. 1Thess 5:5-11)

186) Eph 5:15 . . So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise.

"Wise" of course meaning to live your life in such a way that it counts for Christ instead of only counting for yourself and/or counting for the world. For example: if you get pulled into the worlds of corporate management, political activism, and/or civil disobedience; I can just about guarantee that your life is not counting for Christ because those are really big distractions and sometimes its players have to break the law and/or play dirty to be effective.

The "fools" then can justly be described as people who live with little regard for scruples; defined by Webster's as an ethical consideration or principle that inhibits action. For example, the pioneer of a currently very popular social network stole the idea. That particular theft of intellectual property broke no laws, but it was unethical, ergo: it was the work of a fool rather than wise.

187) Eph 5:17 . .Therefore do not be uninformed, but understand what The Lord's will is.

In other words: Christians are not supposed to fly by the seat of their pants, but rather, fly by instruments: viz: fly intelligently; and that entails reading a driver's manual before attempting to operate a car, so to speak.

Moses instructed his people that there is no need to go on a special "golden fleece" quest to discover what The Lord's will is; either out in space nor across the ocean in a foreign land. No, The Lord's will is easily accessible between the covers of even the cheapest second-hand Bible on the shelves of a thrift store.

However; no Bible— no matter how cheap, nor how expensive, nor what version— is of any real use if it's not studied. But even systematic Bible study is quite thwarted when the information isn't heeded.

Jas 1:22-25 . . Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it— he will be blessed in what he does.

188) Eph 5:18 . . Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

( It isn't forbidden to drink; only to get intoxicated, a.k.a. hammered. )

Webster's defines "debauchery" as extreme indulgence in bodily pleasures; e.g. sex, drugs, and alcohol. In this case alcohol. People that can limit themselves to one drink are very fortunate. For many, that one drink is only the beginning of the road to AA.

I've heard of studies indicating that some people have a genetic weakness for alcohol, viz: a natural-born predilection. Nevertheless, drunkenness is sin and Christians are under orders to subdue it.

Col 3:5 . . So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.

Why do people get plastered anyway? Isn't it to make themselves feel good and better able to cope with life's difficulties? Alcohol therefore could be said to be an antidote to one's existence.

Some of us seem born with a melancholy disposition but that's really not the same. Real depression literally drives people to suicide.

So in that respect, alcohol is a crutch. I'm not saying a crutch is a bad thing; I mean, after all, God created Eve as a crutch for Adam so then if all crutches are bad, then women are bad too. No, crutches per se are not bad; it's one's choice of crutch that matters.

God's Spirit is a crutch for believers; but His effectiveness is moderated by their conduct.

Rom 8:13 . . If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,

In other words; Christ's followers should not expect to be filled with the Spirit when their conduct is unbecoming.

189) Eph 5:19 . . Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs: singing and making melody with your heart to The Lord

That verse is actually pretty good justification for a church choir; but I really think it should also be used to justify hymn books in the pews too so the congregation can all sing together. And make very sure the topics of your music are a credit to The Lord rather than celestial celebrities; e.g. saints, angels, and/or Jesus' mom.

190) Eph 5:20 . . Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Moses' people were so accustomed to God's providence that they began to take it for granted, and would get upset with Him when He failed to produce. Be on your guard; don't let that happen.

"We should not test the Lord, as some of them did— and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did— and were killed by the destroying angel.

. . .These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! (1 Cor 10:9-12)

"in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" indicates that any and all providence that comes our way is due to Christ's work on the cross. It was his sacrifice for the sins of the world that makes it possible for God to come alongside and bless rather than curse. We don't ever want to forget that.

191) Eph 5:21 . . Submit to one another out of respect for Christ.

The Greek word translated "submit" is hupotasso (hoop-ot-as'-so) which means: to subordinate (as a verb) which is just the opposite of dominance and/or rivalry.

A workable synonym for the kind of submission we're talking about here is "deference" which Webster's defines as: (1) respect and esteem due a superior or an elder, and (2) affected, or ingratiating, regard for others' wishes; viz: honor.

This isn't about a pecking order. What we're talking about here is a Christian social skill; it's about regarding others as not equal to yourself, but actually better than yourself; and it pleases Christ to do so; besides being just plain all around good manners.

Matt 18:3-4 . . Whoever humbles himself as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Little children in that day were minors who had little or no social status at all to speak of. If somebody abused a minor; it was just too bad since there were no Child Services bureaus to defend them. Minors were typically among those ruled rather than among those who do the ruling; and they got like zero-to-none respect from their elders.

In other words; an imperious Christian— one that's assertive, bossy, take charge, demanding, argumentative, quarrelsome, impudent, conceited, domineering, confrontational, manipulative, reactive, independent, non negotiable, opinionated, obstinately or intolerantly devoted to their own opinions and prejudices, stubborn, and/or insistent upon their own way —is definitely a failure at associating with their fellow Christians in a manner acceptable to Christ.

192) Eph 5:22 . .Wives, submit to your husbands as to The Lord.

"as to the Lord" probably means that women ought to revere their husbands with the same degree of courtesy, civility, and respect that they would give Christ were he their spouse.

The Greek word for "submit" in this verse is the very same for submit in Eph 5:21, and never means that wives take orders from their husbands as if marriage were a totalitarian arrangement.

What we're talking about here is deference rather than obedience. An attitude of deference is mandatory for Christians on both sides of the gender aisle-- both men and women.

Deference is agreeable, approachable, tactful, and diplomatic. Deference isn't confrontational, demanding, assertive, militant, dominating, nor always clamoring "I am woman! Hear me roar!"

In a nutshell: deference is just the opposite of rivalry. Christian women striving for equality with their men have not yet learned what it means to submit to a husband as they would to Christ.

193) Eph 5:23-24 . . For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Christians, no less, have tried to circumvent that requirement by quoting Paul to refute Paul; for example Gal 3:26-28

But if we were to make Gal 3:26-28 a rule in family affairs; then Christian marriages would be same-sex unions; and that, to say the least, is quite unacceptable.

Though both husband and wife are equals as believers, and equally Christ's subjects, they are definitely not equals in marriage though they be one flesh; just as Christ and his Father are not equals in the Godhead though they be one deity.

194) Eph 5:25-27 . . Husbands love your wives, etc.

The English word translated "love" in that passage is conjugated from the Greek verb agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o) which is a very easy kind of love to practice because it's more about conduct than affections. Agapao-- unlike phileo (fil-eh'-o) --doesn't require that we like people or be fond of them.

Examples of agapao are: kindness, courtesy, greetings, civility, loyalty, thoughtfulness, sympathy, loyalty, lenience, tolerance, patience, charity, long-suffering, deference, hospitality, generosity, etc.

This is very fortunate because some wives are impossible to like. However, the command to love one's enemies also applies in a man's relationship with a difficult wife who's just as much his enemy as any other.

195) Eph 5:28-33a . . Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.

. . . "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself,

That, of course, is a practical application of the so-called golden rule; which first shows up in the Bible at Lev 19:18, applied at Lev 19:34, and reiterated at Matt 7:12 and Luke 6:31.

The very opposite of the golden rule would be for a husband to do unto his wife the very things that he does do not enjoy being done to himself; either by word or by deed.

I'm not a qualified marriage counselor, but in my unprofessional opinion, were couples to practice the golden rule in their association with each other, it would go a long ways towards preventing their relationship from becoming a cold war instead of a home.

There are toxic wives out there who do not deserve their husband's affections; and in fact have done all in their power to destroy them. Nevertheless, it is his Christian duty to continue looking after her, and to treat her well as if his very life depended upon it in spite of the fact that she may be someone he deeply regrets courting.

196) Eph 5:33b . . The wife must respect her husband.

The Greek verb for "respect" is phobeo (fob-eh'-o) which essentially refers to fright; and is used just that way in numerous places throughout the New Testament.

Some translators render phobeo as "reverence" which Webster's defines as honor or respect; felt or shown; which means that wives don't especially have to like their husbands in order to respect them, nor even have to admire them. An attitude of respect will do in lieu of felt respect. In other words: the Christian wife would do well to stifle the disgust she feels for her husband and be civil.

"You have heard that it was said: You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?" (Matt 5:43-48)

"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same." (Luke 6:31-33)

I overheard a female caller on radio imperiously announcing to Dr. Laura that she couldn't respect her husband. So Dr. Laura asked her why. The caller responded: Because he doesn't deserve it. So Laura asked the caller: Have you earned your husband's love? The caller retorted: I don't have to deserve his love. It's a husband's duty to love his wife just as she is.

So Laura pointed out that the caller was practicing a double standard. She demanded that her husband love her unconditionally, while refusing to respect him unconditionally. And on top of that; had the chutzpah to dictate the rules of engagement regardless of how her husband might feel about it; thus making herself not only impossible to like, but also quite difficult to live with.

197) Eph 6:1 . . Children, obey your parents in The Lord, for this is right.

The Greek word translated "obey" in that verse is interesting. It's hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo'-o) which means to pay attention; viz: to heed; to mind.

The primary reason given for children minding their parents is simply that it's the right thing to do.

The parents of the command are "in The Lord" in other words, this rule doesn't pertain to kids with secular parents; which is a good loop hole because there may come times for kids to disobey their parents out of loyalty to a higher power. (cf. Matt 4:10, Matt 10:37)

Incidentally, have you noticed how little the respect that parents get from their insolent progeny in modern television sit-coms, Hollywood movies, and advertising? It's a reflection of modern American culture's attitude towards doing what's right. Kids today are encouraged to do what's wrong in their homes instead of doing what's right. Modern entertainment trains children how to be demonic instead of divine.

Kids that mind their parents are usually much the happier for it. The brats and the rebellious typically end up living in a home that's more like Hell than Heaven.

198) Eph 6:2-3 . . Honor your father and mother— which is the first commandment with a promise —that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

The promise doesn't guarantee long life; it promises that, should you perchance survive to a ripe old age, they'll be good years. In other words; though a demon seed may live long and prosper, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll have a pleasant time of it. Things like happiness, peace, love, understanding, and contentment may end up eluding them every step of the way.

The Greek word translated "honor" in Eph 6:2 is timao (tim-ah'-o) which means to prize, viz: to fix a valuation upon; to revere, to think highly of.

The very same word is used at Matt 15:4-6 where Jesus related the fifth commandment to caring for one's dependent parents. Compare that to 1Tim 5:4 where it's said:

"If a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God."

I should point out that one's parents need not be deserving of honor. They only need to be one's parents; whether good parents or bad parents makes no difference. Compare that to Lev 19:32 where respect for senior citizens is required merely because God says so. The citizen need not earn people's respect; all that's required of them is old age.

199) Eph 6:4 . . Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of The Lord.

Too often the first half of that verse is omitted and the focus swung entirely upon the second. Well; let's break ranks and include the first half for a change because a daddy's parenting style has far more effect upon a growing child than his religion.

To begin with: despotism, tyranny, and unfairness are not The Lord's way of raising kids; but rather; his way is the manner of a shepherd; and "good" shepherds aren't cruel to their flocks.

Maybe you don't burn your kids with cigarettes, pour Tabasco sauce in their eyes, or lock them in a hall closet without food and water for two days; but do you ignore their opinions, demean them with denigrating labels, ridicule them, threaten their lives, work them as slaves without compensation, deny them things just so you won't appear to indulge them, and/or say "no" to their requests for no good reason than that you don't want to seem weak and under their control?

Do you routinely abuse their human rights, and/or relegate them to the level of livestock rather than bona fide human beings with feelings and a mind of their own? Do you nurture within them a feeling of importance, of belonging in your home, or do you make them feel like an invasive species and/or an uninvited guest? Kids pick up on things like that.

200) Eph 6:5-6 . . Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.

The Greek word translated "slaves" is doulos (doo'-los) which is an ambiguous word that can mean slaves by voluntary or involuntary means.

The first would be something like an indentured slave; which Webster's defines as a contract binding one person to work for another for a given period of time. Jacob is a good biblical example of indentured slavery. He sold fourteen years of his life to uncle Laban in exchange for Rachel's hand in marriage. (Gen 29:18, Gen 29:27)

The practical application applies to giving one's employer an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. But pay is not really the primary issue. Subordination is the primary issue, and has been in this epistle since 5:21. Believers may not like the idea, but they are not independent agents with Christ; no, he owns you: bought and paid for as flesh on the line.

1Cor 6:19-20 . .You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

So then, God's men and women ought to serve workplace employers with a conscientious regard for their indentured-slavery status with Christ; which is really difficult for American believers because their country has such an abhorrence for slavery and such a high regard for freedom, revolution, and independence; and when they're mistreated and/or treated unfairly, they react; which is not always a good thing for Christians to do.(1Pet 2:18-19)

201) Eph 6:7 . . With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men

"good will" excludes grumbling and foot-dragging. Compare Jonah's service to the Lord . Now there is a primo bad example if ever!

202) Eph 6:9a . . And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven,

I have yet to discover a passage in the Bible either condemning or forbidding slavery. I'm not saying there are none; it's just that as for myself, I have yet to run across one. But I have discovered passages related to the treatment of slaves.

"in the same way" hails back to Eph 6:7 where it says:

"With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men"

Note that herein masters are not required to liberate their slaves; rather, to treat them with good will; roughly defined as benevolent interest or concern, i.e. kindness and charity.

In a situation where both the slave and his owner are Christians, things become just a bit complicated because they're siblings together in God's family (Gal 3:28). Therefore, Christ's law is to be exemplified by both the slave and his master.

John 15:12-13 . . My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

A slave owner willing to sacrifice his life to protect his slaves would be an unusual master; but that is the very thing expected from him when he's a Christian and his slaves are Christians; and should probably be the attitude of a Christian supervisor towards his Christian employees: which is the attitude of a good shepherd rather than that of a self-serving predator.


214) Phil 1:27 . .Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.

"conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" is talking about Christian social skills, e.g. kindness, courtesy, tact, diplomacy, tolerance, lenience, civility, encouragement, sympathy, compassion, etc.

Those kinds of behaviors have the effect of bonding people instead of alienating them. When people are bonded, they are more likely to pull together instead of working independently and/or against each other.

215) Phil 1:28 . . In nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

Followers of classical Christianity are much hated by a number of opponents for a variety of reasons-- some political, some moral, and some religious: e.g. Islam, Communism, Totalitarianism, Marxism, Leninism, Socialism, Collectivism, Liberalism, Despots, Dictators, and Machiavellian politicians and business moguls.

216) Phil 2:1-2 . . If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

"unity" is a buzz word among liberals and cheap politicians; but Christ's directive in no way pertains to those folks. No, the above is limited to a very narrow cross section of society whom Jesus labeled: "those you have given me" (John 17:9). It is they for whom The Lord prayed for unity. (John 17:11, John 17:21-22)

The Greek word for "tenderness and compassion" is splagchnon (splangkh' non) which means: an intestine. Your gut is the very place where you "feel" pity and/or sympathy for others-- that is; if you're capable of those kinds of feelings; not everyone is. Splagchnon is easy to imitate, but not so easy to duplicate.

217) Phil 2:2-3 . . Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

If there is at least one place on earth where believers should be on the same plane with each other it's church; but that's not always the case as human nature values status, and prone to rivalry.

Some people aren't content with mediocrity; no, they have to be head and shoulders above the crowd, they have to be admired: they have to be feted, they have to be heard, they have to be noticed, they have to be somebody, they have to be a mover and a shaker, they have to be up in an ivory tower; they have to have their finger on the pulse; they have to be in the limelight. And above all; they have to be right because it is totally contrary to conceit's nature to be wrong about anything; even superfluous minutiae.

If you should find yourself in a position around your church, whether as an usher or a cook for men's Saturday morning prayer breakfast, make sure your heart's in the right place because there is coming a performance evaluation for the Lord's sheep where some of the elite are going to be very embarrassed when they're exposed for the ambitious achievers they really are.

1Cor 4:5 . . He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness, and will expose the motives of men's hearts.

An especially bad case of "vain conceit" is on display at 3John 1:9-10

218) Phil 2:4 . . Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The "others" in that verse are exclusive. Paul's directive pertains only to the fraternity to whom he penned his letter; viz: "saints in Christ Jesus . . together with the overseers and deacons" (Phil 1:1)

Seeing as how The Lord expressly forbids selfish ambition amongst his own, then before proceeding to implement an idea, be very sure to ponder all the possible ramifications of your actions first; and for sure avoid Machiavellian thinking that asserts the end justifies the means. Also to be avoided is the tiresome excuse that what you're doing is for the greater good; which has a lot in common with collectivism wherein the individual is marginalized and has little to no value.

Stepping on people's toes, and/or thwarting their ideas so that yours prevail, fails to satisfy the law of Christ; which requires his followers to have the same care for their fellows as Christ cares for them (John 15:12). It also fails to satisfy the Golden Rule which says: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. (Matt 7:12). Always looking out for No.1 just simply isn't very nice.

219) Phil 2:5-8 . .Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross.

That's an interesting contrast between Christ and Adam. He and his wife made a definite grab for equality with God. (Gen 3:4-5)

It's just amazing how well Christ played down his origin and conducted himself as a common man. Even the people with whom Jesus grew up in his home town were highly doubtful Jesus was so well connected because there was really nothing particularly distinctive about him to indicate he was a divine aristocrat.

John 6:42 . .They said: Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say: I came down from heaven?

And his cousin John had no clue that Jesus was the very person for whom he was the forerunner.

"I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me: The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." During the thirty years leading up to Jesus' public ministry, he could've easily made a name for himself, but didn't because that wasn't his superior's time for it.

John 6:38 . . I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.

220) Phil 2:12 . . As you have always obeyed— work out your own salvation with fear and trembling

Some people's interpretation of that passage pretty much echoes Santa Claus' holiday practices. For example the lyrics from the classic jingle: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

You better watch out, you better not cry,
Better not pout, I'm telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town

He's making a list, and checking it twice;
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice:
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you're sleeping,
He knows when you're awake,
He knows if you've been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!

There's no grace in that song— none at all —no generosity, no altruism, no kindness, no charity, no love, no peace, no understanding, no sympathy, no patience, no tolerance, no courtesy, no compassion, no forgiveness, viz: there are no gifts in Santa's bag; only merit awards for those who prove themselves worthy enough to deserve them.

But we know from other passages that an exemption from the sum of all fears isn't a merit award, rather; it's a totally free-of-charge rescue from the wrath of God by means of the ransom that Christ himself paid with his own life's blood rather than out of the sinner's pockets, so to speak. In point of fact the Greek word soteria, from which is translated "salvation" means rescue, i.e. remove from peril.

But now once the sinner is removed from the peril of the sum of all fears, he's expected to begin developing a rapport with God and a life of piety (a.k.a. holiness) which serves an altogether different purpose in the plan of salvation.

The phrase "fear and trembling" was one of Paul's favorite colloquialisms; for example:

1Cor 2:3-4 . . For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

And another:

Eph 6:5-8 . . Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to The Lord, and not to men

"fear, and in trembling" doesn't mean Paul recommends shivering in terror and anxiety like a frightened gerbil; but that a believer's attitude should be free of pride, arrogance, and conceit, i.e. free of a superiority complex and/or a master-race mentality; for example:

Paul was very courteous to the Corinthians and came to them not as a celebrity even though he was one of The Lord's hand-picked apostles and they were a bunch of pagan heathens at the time who deserved nothing but the cold shoulder. Paul's attitude rubbed off on the Corinthians because they in turn deferred to Paul's associates with fear and trembling just as he had treated them all at one time.

2Cor 7:14-15 . . I had boasted to [Titus] about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling.

So then, what we're talking about here with "fear and trembling" is honor, respect, submission, deference, and reverence rather than terror and anxiety; and it's actually one of the Beatitudes.

Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

221) Phil 2:14 . . Do everything without grumbling or debating

It used to be an unwritten rule in the US Army that GIs could complain all they wanted just so long as they did what they were told. Well; Christ isn't pleased with that.

Col 3:23 . .Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

The problem with grumbling is that it's an attitude of rebellion; for example:

Num 21:5-6 . . And the people spoke against God and Moses saying: Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.

Well; long story short, God punished the people's grumbling by sending a swarm of deadly reptiles among them, and many bitten by the reptiles died because their venom was wasn't just lethal, it was 100% fatal.

The Greek word translated "debating" is from dialogismos (dee-al-og-is-mos') which is sometimes translated "evil thoughts" for example:

Matt 15:19 . . For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

Dialogismos sometimes keeps people awake at night as they obsessively re-wind and re-play a conflict with somebody over, and over, and over again in their heads.

222) Phil 3:1 . . Finally, my brethren, rejoice in The Lord!

The Greek word for "brethren" is adelphos (ad-el-fos') which is a masculine noun for a male relative. But its use is flexible. Adelphos can also include one's female relatives too; I mean; after all, men and women are all siblings around the table in God's home. And when Paul wrote to a church, he oftentimes used the word adelphos to address the entire congregation.

NOTE: In the beginning, Man consisted of male and female (Gen 5:32). Treating the those genders as if they are two distinctly separate species is very wrong because they aren't and they never were. Some women are chafed when they're included among male nouns and pronouns in the Bible, but we're Christians so we accept it and we move on.

Rejoicing "in The Lord" is way different than rejoicing in yourself; which is vulnerable to one's mood and/or circumstances. The Lord once told his disciples that they shouldn't rejoice that demons obeyed them; but that their names were written in Heaven. (Luke 10:20)

Col 3:1-4 . . Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

That passage could be said to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say:
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
(Horatio P. Spafford, 1828-1888)

223) Phil 3:2a . . Beware of dogs,

Dogs in ancient Israel were regarded with the same degree of abhorrence that we in the west regard ridents. They weren't your average domesticated pet, but rather feral, homeless curs that prowled city streets and landfills, feeding on garbage, road kill, and the remains of low income folk who died without proper burial  A study of the dogs of the Old Testament reveals just how low in one's estimation is the person regarded as one (e.g. 1Kgs 14:11, 1Kgs 21:19, 1Kgs 21:24, 2Kgs 9:29-37; cf. Luke 16:21).

Feral dogs are not only unsanitary, but treacherous too.

Matt 7:6 . . Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

There are also guard dogs; which would correspond to people so passionate and protective of their religion of choice that they will literally kill people who refuse to agree with them; for example:

Ps 22:16 . . Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

The "dogs" in that passage were Israel's religious elite; the very ones who had Jesus arrested and put to death on trumped up charges. Pilate caught on right quick that the Jews weren't after Christ's blood on account of crime; but because of envy (Matt 27:18). In other words: Christ was an effective rival that had to be eliminated. Christians have really got to watch their backs around Machiavellian zealots deranged enough to murder people who dare to oppose and/or criticize their belief systems.

A "dog" then can be categorized as someone who is spiritually feral; which Webster's defines as: (1) of, relating to, or suggestive of an animal; viz: savage, (2) not domesticated or cultivated; viz: wild, untamed, (3) having escaped from domestication and become wild, and (4) beastly.

So a dog, in the spiritual sense, is little more than a brutish human scavenger destined for a very unpleasant future in the same category as witches, fornicators, murderers, idolaters, and liars. (Rev 22:13-15)

224) Phil 3:2b . . Beware of evil workers,

"evil workers" probably refers to ersatz missionaries like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. In the apostle Paul's day, it was followers of Judaism going about disputing with Christians; e.g. Acts 15:1.

225) Phil 3:2c . . Beware of mutilation.

Mutilation in this particular instance isn't criminal mutilation, rather; it refers to voluntary ritual circumcision; viz: initiation into the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. There were Jews in various cities back in the apostles' era telling Christians that protection from the sum of all fears depends upon circumcision.

Acts 15:1 . . And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

The apostles disagreed.

Acts 15:24 . . Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:

The primary reason the apostles disagreed is simply because Christians don't associate with God via Moses' covenant; rather, they associate with God via Christ's covenant, a.k.a. the new covenant. (Heb 8:1-13)

226) Phil 3:17 . . Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before, and now say, again even with tears: many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their appetites, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

I'm pretty sure that passage can be said to be speaking of the tares that Christ spoke of in Matt 13:24-30 and Matt 13:36-43. The law of averages, combined with Satan's machinery, insures that every church has a percentage of tares on the roles.

The tare is an interesting plant. In its early stages, only a well-trained eye can tell the difference between it and wheat or barley. Plus the tare's root system so intertwines with the roots of good plants that they can't be pulled up without destroying both.

It's all saying that churches are pretty much stuck with tares once they've become an integral part of operations; so we just have to learn to live with them; sort of like backpackers learning to live with snow and ice, wind, heat, cold, soggy, and snakes, bears, cougars, and insects. Just as it's futile for backpackers to try and eliminate nature from their backpacking world; so it's futile for churches to try and weed tares out of their midst. But churches can, at least, take steps to protect themselves once the tares become apparent.

Tares are somewhat different than heretics. Tares are sort of like Esau. Though Isaac's eldest son was irreverent; he was content at home and made no attempt to reform his family's spiritual values.

Tares hinder a church's spiritual growth, and are quite useless for the Lord's purposes; but they're usually content to co-exist with the conscientious Christians in church. Though tares are more or less worldly, I wouldn't go so far as to say they're a serious threat to unity.

Tares are a curious lot. Though they go Sunday after Sunday in church and Bible class listening to hours and hours of preaching and teaching, nothing they hear ever seems to sink in. It all bounces off like bananas thrown at a Russian tank.

Heretics, on the other hand, are typically reverent; maybe even religious from their toes to their fingertips. They love Bible study and likely attend prayer meetings too. But they're detrimental to unity because of their activism. They not only push to reform their church's spiritual values; but worse: steer it off in another direction. Heretics are far more than just enemies of the cross; they're a disease; and though tares are to be pitied, heretics deserve to be cursed.

Titus 3:10-11 . .Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

227) Phil 4:4 . . Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again: Rejoice!

Words and grammar in the Bible convey information; otherwise language serves no useful purpose. When the apostle Paul says "always" he means always or he wouldn't say it like that. So then, part-time rejoicers in the Lord are failing to comply with the Lord's wishes.

Now the thing is: rejoicing in the Lord is not the same as rejoicing in life. In point of fact, there's really not all that much to be permanently happy about in life on earth.

Ecc 1:2-3 . . Utter futility! —said Koheleth— Utter futility! All is futile! What real value is there for a man in all the gains he makes beneath the sun?

We can name lots of things in life that bring us happiness and satisfaction, but the problem is: it's all fleeting, i.e. it's all temporary, viz: transient. There's very little that brings us lasting happiness and satisfaction. And then on top of that, there's the specter of death; viz: it's only a matter of time when our life on earth— everything we've accomplished, everything we've accumulated, and everyone we've ever known —is separated from us like a young military recruit's hair falling to the floor in a Marine Corps barber shop.

The negativity of life on earth can be greatly moderated by always keeping one's eye on the future as it's revealed in the teachings of Christianity's lord and master.

John 15:11 . .These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your own joy might be full.

John 16:33 . . I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

228) Phil 4:5 . . Let your gentleness be evident to all.

The Greek word translated "gentleness" is epieikes (ep-ee-i-kace') which essentially means: mild.

Webster's defines "mild" as gentle in nature or behavior, moderate in action or effect; not sharp or bitter, i.e. mellow; which is just the opposite of fierce, harsh, rough, scathing, mean, abrasive, stormy, intemperate, strict, and/or severe.

Though a mild/mellow person is affable, they aren't necessarily a wimp; no, they're just not easy to provoke. The quite opposite would be a thin skinned, reactive, defensive personality that goes to war at the drop of a hat.

Mild people don't threaten, nor come at you with bared teeth and narrowed eyes. They're reasonable and rational, rather than emotional and reactive. Assertive, confrontational people have no clue what it is to be mild; and those are the very ones losing sleep with evil thoughts as they obsessively re-wind and re-play a conflict with somebody in their heads over, and over, and over again rehearsing things they should've said, and would've said, had they thought of them.

Matt 5:5 . . Blessed are the meek.

Moses was meek (Num 12:3) and Christ was meek (Matt 11:29, Matt 21:5). Personally I wouldn't categorize either of those two men as meek. So then, what really is meekness?

Primarily, to be meek, in the Biblical sense of the word, is to be temperate. A temperate person isn't eo ipso a cowering milk toast. Anybody who's studied the life of Moses and Jesus can easily testify that neither of those men were timid; no, they walked softly but carried a big stick, so to speak. Never mistake true meekness for a yellow streak.

Jacob and his dad Isaac were temperate men; but could be very strong when the situation called for it. Temperate people pick their battles carefully, and never waste anger and energy on trifles.

There are Christians in this world who're simply implacable. They just cannot live and let live. Turning the other cheek is to them a worn-out cliché that no one takes seriously anymore. For them rivalry, conflict, revenge, competition, retaliation, recriminations, and grudging are a way of life: every disagreement is an act of war— they're peevish, emotional, bitter, harsh, unloving, cruel, thoughtless, and reactive; and they thrive on complaining, criticizing, chafing, carping, finding fault, tattling, bickering, retort upon retort, rejoinder upon rejoinder, sarcasm, endless debate, dredging up old unresolved conflicts, gainsaying, and getting in people's faces and giving them a piece of their mind.

It seems like those people are always getting indignant about some petty outrage or another. Well; those kinds of Christians are definitely not in the "gentle" category. They're hellish, toxic demons who relish letting their wrath be evident to all instead of gentleness because when they're upset; they want everybody to know it.


230) Phil 4:8 . . Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy —think about such things.

I think we may take Phil 4:8 to mean that Christ's followers should make an effort to remember the Bible's values and its principles, i.e. not let them go in one ear and out the other; which is somewhat similar to Deut 11:18-20 where Moses' people were urged to make use of every opportunity to meditate upon God's ways so as not to forget them and thus neglect their practice.

231) Phil 4:9 . . Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me— put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I think Paul often spoke from experience. In other words; he didn't just believe what he taught, but he knew what he talking about as someone who tasted the goods.

You know, sometimes I think that too many Christians are somehow under the impression that the New Testament's epistles are not all that important in matters related to faith and practice. They've made the Sermon On The Mount their religion and they think that's all they need. But if they want the God of peace to be with them instead of off in the distance; then they are simply going to have to revise their estimate. Compliance with the epistles is not optional; no, it's essential.

1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.

1Thess 4:1-2 . .We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by The Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by The Lord Jesus.

Jas 1:22-25 . . And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don't obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don't obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into God's perfect law— the law that sets you free —and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

232) Col 2:6-7 . . So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.

That directive, of course, is restricted to the faith as you were taught by Paul and his contemporaries. He and they taught only one faith rather than a buffet of faiths to choose from.

Eph 4:4-5 . . There is one faith

It's neither wise nor humane to encourage somebody rooted and built up in Christian cults to continue in those faiths: e.g. Moonies, Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Herbert W. Armstrong, Mormonism, and/or the Watchtower Society, et al.

Paul emphasized receiving Christ Jesus as "lord". The Greek word is kurios (koo'-ree-os) which means: supreme in authority. Curiously there are a number of Christians out there who regard Jesus' authority no different than they regard the authority of the prophets. But when the Old Testament seems to oppose Christ's teachings; Christians have to go with Christ.

"I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)

And besides: Christ comes highly recommended.

"Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and a voice out of the cloud, saying: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him." (Matt 17:5)

233) Col 2:8 . . See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

That's likely talking about versions of Christianity adjusted to appease one's culture-- viz: compromising --which are insidious because they're typically a clever product of divine instruction tempered by natural logic, i.e. sophistry; thus the command to Christianity's leaders:

"Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when they will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and seek teachers who will tell them what it is they wish to hear. They will reject the truth and heed fantasies." (2Tim 4:2 4)

The olde adage to "strike while the iron is hot" certainly applies in this situation, i.e. Christianity's leaders need to be teaching their people God's ways and means while they have their ear instead of waiting to chase after them after they've lost their attention. Calling folks to repentance is always harder because it's easier to influence folks when they're close to home than when their minds are afar off.

234) Col 2:16-17 . .Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

Some liturgical versions of Christianity incorporate diets, rituals, rites, holy days of obligation, and even special dress codes in their worship practices. According to the principles stipulated in the 14th chapter of Romans, those things are optional rather than mandatory. To insist otherwise is to play God and to usurp Christ's sovereign right to make the rules for his own church.

235) Col 2:18a . . Don't let anyone condemn you by insisting on self-denial.

Now we're getting into the sphere of asceticism; which Christ has never approved. Asceticism describes a life-style characterized by abstinence from materialism and various sorts of worldly pleasures (e.g. sex, cosmetics, movies, dancing, alcohol, romance novels, soaps, gambling, and the accumulation of material wealth) often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals. Ascetics, by the very nature of their philosophy, insinuate that Christ was wrong to consume wine and/or provide it for a wedding.

Ascetics think themselves to possess a superior spirituality over and above regular Christians; but Paul popped that bubble soundly.

Col 2:18c-19 . .These people claim to be so humble, but their sinful minds have made them conceited. They are not connected to Christ, the head of the body.

(chuckle) Paul depicted ascetics as sort of like the headless horseman in the Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.

NOTE:  Webster's defines conceit as an excessive appreciation for one's own worth or virtue; viz: a superiority complex. Conceited folk typically regard themselves infallible, smarter than you, and holier than you.

236) Col 2:18b . . And don't let anyone say you must worship angels, even though they say they have had visions about this.

That passage is a good one to keep paired with the one below.

Rev 22:8 . . I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me: You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.

237) Col 3:1-2 . . Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Christianity is a lethal religion. It puts Christ's followers to death on the cross with him as joint principals in the purpose of his crucifixion. They are encouraged to think of that as a reality; and not only that, but also to account their resurrection to immortality a done deal, i.e. it's in the bag because they are joint principals with Christ in that too. (Rom 6:3-11, Gal 2:20)

NOTE: The Greek word translated hidden can also mean secret, for example Matt 13:35 where it says:

"I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."

And John 19:38 where it says:

"And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus."

238) Col 3:5a . . Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature

The earthly nature of Christ's believing followers was judged, sentenced, and executed on his cross but they won't be rid of it till they pass on because man's earthly nature is part and parcel of his earthly human body.

Rom 7:18 . . Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh

However, if Christ's followers want to take advantage of God's kindly patronage and providence, they have got to take the bull by the horns. This has been an axiom since the very beginning.

Gen 4:6-7 . . If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

1John 1:5-7 . . And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth

The Christian way of life is literally an on-going perpetual fight against nature.

Rom 7:21-25 . . I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

. . .What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

At this point, the epistle lists a catalogue of behaviors that aren't practiced in heaven; and since Christ's sheep are destined for that place, they need to start living now like they'll be living then because that life is permanent whereas now is only temporary.

239) Col 3:8 . . Put off all these: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Webster's defines "malice" as desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another. Behaviors like deliberate chafing, needling, ridicule, mockery, taunts, demeaning comments, ugly words that tear people down rather than build them up, denigrating labels, biting sarcasm, fault-finding, carping criticism, thoughtless remarks, petty ill will, spite, vindictiveness, and stalking are all malicious behaviors that no one in heaven ever practices because heaven is a place of kindness and peace.

The Greek word for "filthy language" is aischrologia (ahee-skhrol-og-ee'-ah) and means vile conversation.

Webster's defines "vile" as (1) morally despicable or abhorrent, (2) physically repulsive; viz: foul and/or odious, (3) of little worth or account; viz: common, vulgar, (4) tending to degrade, demean, and/or denigrate, (5) disgustingly and/or utterly bad; viz: obnoxious, contemptible, unacceptable, disagreeable, and (6) base; viz: crude, churlish, and/or unrefined.

240) Col 3:9-10 . . Do not lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Humanity's original self began its created existence in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). In other words; Adam started off as an honest man. Clearly then; dishonesty doesn't reflect the image of God, rather, it reflects the Devil's image.

NOTE: It's interesting that the Colossian believers were lying to each other, and no doubt would have continued had not Paul commanded them to stop it.

The Greek word translated "renewed" basically means to renovate; defined by Webster's defines as: (1) to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding), and (2) to restore to life, vigor, or activity, i.e. revive.

The word appears in only one other place in the entire New Testament at 2Cor 4:16, which says:

"Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."

Sometimes renovation requires demolition and beginning all over again from scratch, In other words: total regeneration.

The Greek word translated "knowledge" basically refers to recognition, i.e. acknowledgement, viz: discernment.

Reconstruction of one's innermost being-- especially the conscience --is essential because humanity's intuitive knowledge of what's acceptable and what's unacceptable is unreliable due to the forbidden fruit incident portrayed in the third chapter of Genesis.

This relates to one of the tragedies of Hell. People down there never gave God an opportunity to overhaul their spiritual condition; so now they're no better as persons in the afterlife than they were in this life. After all is said and done-- after the big judgment of Rev 20:11-15 is completed, and the new cosmos of Rev 21:1 is up and running --Christ caps everything by announcing:

"Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile." (Rev 22:10)

In other words: people who end up in the lake of fire will remain just as much in need of renovation there as they were here.

241) Col 3:12 . .Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Apparently the Colossian believers were neither compassionate, nor kind, nor humble, nor gentle, nor patient; and would have continued to be that way had not the apostle Paul spoken up.

His basis was the Colossians' standing as "God's chosen people, holy and dearly beloved" I mean: is it appropriate for people in a favored position with God to behave as devils?

You know; judging from the descriptions of some of the first century churches, I get the impression that were we to go back in time to visit one, we'd be walking into a snake pit!

242) Col 3:13-14 . . Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

1John 4:10-11 contains a brief synopsis of how the Lord forgave.

"Herein is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."

Jesus taught his followers to be nice to not only their friends, but also their enemies. Apparently God was practicing Jesus' teachings long before many of us ever heard of them. (Matt 5:44-48)

Col 3:13 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

The virtues began their list with Col 3:9, which are honesty, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness.

One of The Lord's constant rubs with his religious opponents was their virtually 100% lack of kindness and compassion; which effectively invalidated their rituals.

"Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice." (Matt 9:13)

Some folk honestly believe that Christ's statement, taken from Hosea 6:6, practically repealed the entire God-given book of Leviticus. But that's not what either Hosea or Jesus were saying. They meant that God much prefers that people be civil to each other rather than religious to their fingertips.

In other words; an ungracious person's lack of things like sympathy, patience, tolerance, lenience, helpfulness, pity, and common courtesy causes God to reject their worship just as thoroughly and bluntly as He rejected Cain's. I really think that God is insulted when people lacking humanity come to church actually thinking He's glad to see them show up for some quality time together.

243) Col 3:15a . . Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

This calling to peace is probably not a call to produce peace, rather, a peace relative to John 14:7, wherein Jesus says:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid."

And Phil 4:6-7, wherein the apostle Paul says:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Webster's defines "anxiety" as: characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind, or brooding fear about some contingency; viz: worry— which implies an incessant goading, or attacking, that drives one to desperation.

If believers were never to be anxious then there would be little, if any, need to pray and share one's concerns with their father in Heaven. The point here, is to avoid desperation. When people get desperate, they start making mistakes; and some of those mistakes can be life-changing; and cause permanent damage.

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2009 a deranged man named George Sodini walked into an LA Fitness gym in Philadelphia and gunned down twelve women in an exercise class. His impetus? According to information police later found on his blog, the 48 year-old man was in a mental state brought on by his long-held personal conviction that not one woman in the whole world could possibly love him. In his mind; women were a threat to his survival— cruel, venomous sirens whose mission in life is to torment males and make them unhappy. No doubt in Sodini's thinking, murdering those women was justifiable homicide for ruining his life, viz: they had it coming.

His case is extreme, yes, but it serves to illustrate what happens to people when they let desperation gnaw at their feelings for too long a time. Pretty soon they crack and do something irrational.

C.S. Lewis-- famed author of "The Screwtape Letters" and "The Chronicles Of Narnia" --once remarked that he prayed, not because he expected results but, because it made him feel better.

Well, if prayer makes you feel better, then more power to you— in point of fact, I highly recommend conversational prayer because talking things out with somebody, even an imaginary playmate, is far and away better than holding everything in.

There are instances in the Old Testament where God actually sent His people troubles just to get their attention and start them talking to Him again. Sort of like a little boy in third grade spitting on the hair of a girl sitting in front of him so she'll notice him. (chuckle) Well, if God spits on your hair, so to speak, then maybe it's time you and He had a fireside chat.

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, and guards your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, serves to settle people down. In other words: prevent them from over-thinking their problems. Always dwelling on negative aspects is destructive even for strong people.

Nobody knows the trouble I've been through,
Nobody knows my sorrow.
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen;
Sometimes I'm up, sometimes I'm down,
Oh, yes, Lord; sometimes I'm almost to the ground.

Well; some of us would be to the ground were it not for going to prayer instead.

244) Col 3:15b . . And be thankful.

You know "thank you" isn't profanity; and Christ's people should never take the attitude that just because somebody is doing their job that they don't deserve recognition.

One of my favorite romantic comedies is "No Reservations" starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. Prior to filming, Catherine took a job waiting tables to get a feel for working in a restaurant.

On several occasions, patrons didn't even look up at her nor speak in a cordial, courteous tone when they ordered. It struck her as remarkable that some of the people whom she was serving totally took her for granted and displayed not the slightest inclination to even so much as acknowledge her as a fellow human being, let alone express their gratitude for her taking care of them.

245) Col 3:16 . . Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom

Before attempting to teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, it's essential that the word of Christ first dwell in you richly; which is from the Greek word plousios (ploo-see'-oce) which means: copious; defined by Webster's as yielding something abundantly. In other words: fruitful— very fruitful.

John 15:8 . . By this my Father is glorified; that you bear much fruit

Col 3:16 is not an easy command to obey because it requires walking the walk rather than merely talking the talk.

Heb 6:7-8 . . For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and yields crops useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. (cf. Luke 8:5-15)

In other words; the wisdom we're talking about here is gained by life experience wherein a quantity of Christ's teachings have been put into actual practice rather than only memorized.

246) Col 3:17 . .Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of The Lord Jesus.

In other words; Christ's followers should conduct themselves as Christians as opposed to conducting themselves in any old way they feel like.

A simple way to apply Col 3:17 is just to ask yourself: Can my master put his signature on this? If you know in your heart he cannot, then you do not have Christ's authorization to proceed. If you proceed anyway, then you will be off-reservation, in your own little world of anarchy and rebellion against Christ's sovereign right, as the lord and master of Christianity, to manage your affairs.

247) Col 3:18 . .Wives, submit to your husband, as is fitting in The Lord.

NOTE: Here's a new word for your vocabulary: Womxn. You know what that is? It's the latest desperate attempt by man-hating women to avoid identifying themselves with men in every way possible. I suppose they'll next revise the spelling of their gender to look like this: femxle.

The word "submit" raises a lot of unnecessary hackles. But it isn't referring to a pecking order. What it's referring to is just the opposite of defiant, stubborn, uncooperative, domineering women. Especially wives that tend to marginalize their husbands in everything.

For example: there was a wife in one of my Sunday school classes who made up her mind to go back to school and work towards a degree regardless of how her husband felt about it. She actually had the chutzpah to announce her intentions in class while her husband sat there in silence with his head down in utter shame and embarrassment.

Anyway: in a nutshell; the submission we're talking about here is related to a Christian husband's position in the home rather than his gender in the marriage.

For example; we ought to respect senior citizens not because they themselves have done anything to earn it, rather, because it's a respect that their age deserves. (cf. Lev 9:32)

Back when Queen Elizabeth Second became monarch, her husband Philip felt humiliated to have to kneel to his own wife till she explained to him that he wouldn't be kneeling to her, rather, to the crown.

In other words: it's the position that deserves the respect rather than the person in it. So, Christian wives ought to give their husbands the respect due to his position in the home rather than the blokes they are.

"Wives, submit to your husband as to The Lord." (Eph 5:22)

In other words: if it's unchristian to be assertive and confrontational with Christ, then we ought to agree that it's unchristian to be assertive and confrontational with one's husband too.

That's a pretty tall order for Christian wives in a modern culture that constantly pressures them to be strong and masculine rather than soft and feminine; to be superiors rather than subordinates; and to be assertive, confrontational, and defiant rather than reasonable, peaceable, and cooperative.

248) Col 3:19 . . Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

The Greek verb translated "love" is agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o) which doesn't necessarily imply either affection and/or fondness. It's more about civility than emotion. This is the kind of love that we extend to everyone— friend, foe, and stranger alike—regardless of how we might feel about them. It's the very same love that Jesus taught in Matt 5:44 which reads:

"You have heard that it was said: You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies,"

In other words; you don't especially have to like your enemies, but you do have to be civil with them, i.e. courteous, kind, charitable, tolerant, patient, diplomatic, tactful, gentle, reasonable, fair, deferent, approachable, cordial, genial, affable, sociable, helpful, thoughtful, sympathetic, considerate, and cooperative, etc.

I readily admit the difficulty of being nice to people who rub us the wrong way; but still, Christian men whose marriages resemble an on-going cold war would greatly ease the tensions in their homes, and make the situation bearable for both sides of the bed, were they to simply practice agapao.

"Harsh" can be exemplified any number of ways.

Fault Finding
Giving Her No Say In Important Decisions
Laying Down The Law
Money Rationing
Nit Picking
Penny Pinching
Public Scolding
Remarks About Her Appearance

Those behaviors are very effective at making a Christian wife's existence bitter, i.e. a living hell; especially a Christian wife who's making an honest effort to comply with Col 3:18.

249) Col 3:20 . . Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases The Lord.

That command pertains only to Christian kids; not to just any kid who happens to be looking in. And it needs to be said that not every kid in a Christian home is a Christian kid. Some are demon seeds: that's just a fact of life and it can't be helped.

The Greek word for "obey" in that verse is hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo'-o) which is somewhat ambiguous. It can mean, variously, to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority.

Too many television sit-coms today portray kids who don't listen to their parents. But of course those sit-com kids typically have no desire to please The Lord.

250) Col 3:21 . . Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

The Greek word translated "discouraged" is athumeo (ath-oo-meh'-o) which has to do with breaking the spirit. Really bad cases of athumeo can cause a child to lose the will to excel; sometimes even the will to live, i.e. suicidal.

251) Col 3:22-25 . . Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for The Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for The Lord, not for men

Some Christians tend to forget that they live in a fishbowl; a sort of Big Brother society where God misses nothing.

1Pet 1:13-17 . . Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy. Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

252) Col 4:1 . . Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

I have yet to find a passage in the Bible condemning slavery as a moral evil. I'm not saying that such a passage doesn't exist; only that in my 52 years as an ongoing Bible student via sermons, books, seminars, lectures, Sunday school classes, radio programs, and personal study, I've yet to run across one. The Bible's primary issue with slavery is the treatment of slaves.

The master in heaven is providential. In other words: Christian masters have a sacred obligation to house their slaves in decent accommodations, clothe them with adequate garments, and nourish them with good food too because slave masters are a father to the souls in their house; they depend on him to care for them; there's no one else; and according to Gen 1:26-28 and Matt 12:11-12, people deserve to be treated better than an animal.

Whether the above rule should be taken to apply in normal labor relations can be disputed, but in my judicious estimation; Christian employers really ought to pay their workers a living wage— augmented with timely adjustments for inflation —rather than just paying them the least they can in order to keep profits up and overhead down. (Just saying)

253) Col 4:2 . . Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

The Greek word for "devote" is proskartereo (pros-kar-ter-eh'-o) which means: to persevere; viz: not give up and/or lose interest.

Luke 18:1 . . And he spoke a parable unto them to this end: that people ought always to pray, and not lose heart.

For many of us, prayer is a last resort; a grasping at straws because we simply have nowhere else to turn. We wish for success with prayer, while not really expecting it because we already know from plenty of experience that prayer too often leads into a cul-de-sac of perplexity and discouragement; so then, what's the use? In other words: prayer is very difficult for some Christians because it's often so futile.

Why doesn't God respond? And if He's not going to respond, then why keep on making a fool of ourselves trying to get through to an imaginary playmate when all the while its phone is off the hook?

It was this very issue that led Mother Teresa of Calcutta to question whether there really is a God out there. During virtually her entire five decades in India, Teresa felt not the slightest glimmer of The Lord's presence and suffered a good deal of anxiety wondering why Christ abandoned her.

I'm not making this up. You can read it for yourself in a collection of Teresa's private letters titled Mother Teresa / Come Be My Light; The Private Writings of the "Saint Of Calcutta" published with hierarchy approval by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, director of the Mother Teresa center and a postulator for her canonization.

In one of Teresa's private letters, penned to a Father Picachy, Teresa complained: I am told God loves me; and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.

In yet another letter, penned to a Father Joseph Neuner, S.J. Teresa again complained: Now Father— since 1949 or 1950 this terrible sense of loss— this untold darkness— this loneliness, this continual longing for God— which gives me pain deep down in my heart— Darkness is such that I really do not see neither with my mind nor with my reason— the place of God in my soul is blank— There is no God in me— when the pain of longing is so great— I just long & long for God— and then it is that I feel— He does not want me— He is not there— God does not want me— Sometimes— I just hear my own heart cry out— "My God" and nothing else comes— the torture and pain I can't explain.

In yet another letter, Teresa complained: When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. How painful is this unknown pain— I have no faith.

If the most pious nun the 20th century ever produced found heaven's phone off the hook for virtually five decades, then why should John Q and Jane Doe pew warmer persist with prayer? Well; primarily because it's commanded. I would suppose that's reason enough for most. I mean; were God to ask us to throw a baseball at the Moon every so often; wouldn't we comply just to please Him, even knowing we couldn't possibly hit it?

254) Col 4:3-4 . . And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Proclaiming the mystery of Christ clearly as one should means to avoid sophisticated intellectualism. (1Cor 2:1-5)

For example: when physicist Stephen Hawking set out to write his fabulously popular book "A Brief History Of Time" he determined to make an effort to speak of complicated cosmological concepts in layman's terms. Well; he succeeded, and consequently just about anybody with an average IQ and the ability to read can pick up Stephen's book and get something out of it.

When the Bible is taught with too many uncommon words, the result isn't much different than speaking in a foreign language. So to avoid a language barrier, I suggest keeping one's presentation colloquial, i.e. informal.

1Cor 14:19 . . In the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

255) Col 4:5 . . Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

I once heard a story about a well-meaning sidewalk evangelist who was handing out Gospel tracts. A man came by and asked the side-walker what he was doing. The side-walker handed the man a tract and said: Here, read this. Well, the man was illiterate. So he told the side-walker: I can't read your tract, so I'll just watch your tracks.

In other words; don't just talk the talk; walk the walk too: live it because for some people, your life speaks volumes.

256) Col 4:6 . . Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt

Grace can be defined as kind, courteous, gentle, patient, lenient, inclined to good will, generous, charitable, altruistic, compassionate, sympathetic, thoughtful, cordial, affable, genial, sociable, cheerful, warm, sensitive, hospitable, considerate, and tactful.

It seems to me from the language and grammar of Matt 5:13, Mark 9:50, and Luke 14:34 that the primary purpose of salt is to enhance flavor and make otherwise naturally insipid and/or bad-tasting things palatable, viz: salt can be thought of as diplomacy; roughly defined as conversation that makes an effort to maintain peace rather than provoke conflict and/or annoy people and make them uncomfortable.

257) Col 4:16 . . After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.

That directive has little application today except to point out that the epistles are meant to be studied in every Christian church; not just special Christian churches.


259) 1Thess 4:1-2 . . Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in The Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of The Lord Jesus.

The commandments instituted in the apostle Paul's letters are given to the Lord's followers for the purpose of taking the guess work out of walking and pleasing God; viz: nobody should expect to excel in the Lord's commandments when they don't even know what they are.

"Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame." (1Cor 15:34)

260) 1Thess 4:3-5 . . It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;

The Greek word translated "sanctified" speaks of purity, i.e. clean living.

Some folk, not quite understanding the nature of the Spirit birth about which John wrote in John 1:12-13 and about which Christ spoke in John 3:3-8, have been led to believe that born-again Christians are supposed to be free of their libido and their romantic impulses. Well, obviously not, or why else would it be God's will to control them?

1Thess 4:7 . . . and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.

"this matter" refers not only to fornication, but also to adultery.

Heb 13:4 . . Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Christians commit adultery with Christians? Haw! Does that even need to be answered? Of course they do; and it goes on all the time, even among church officers; who by all rights should be setting the example for the rank and file.

My wife was once friends with the wife of a counselor in a very big church in a large California city. She confided with my wife (on the QT of course) that it was amazing the number of church officers and their wives who were messing around.


262) 1Thess 4:6b-8 . . God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Why "gives" the Spirit instead of gave? Well; although Christ's believing followers are all equally endowed with the Spirit (1Cor 6:19, Eph 1:13) its benefits are doled.

His holy Spirit is depicted as a source of living water.

John 7:37-39 . . On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said: streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

When Christ's followers go rogue, and allow human nature to dominate their lives instead of complying with Christ's commandments; the water is withheld. Consequently it's possible for them to dry up and become like yard debris. (John 15:1-10, Rom 8:5-13)

263) 1Thess 4:11a . . Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,

I highly recommend avoiding political activism like the plague. Demonstrations, protests, marches, and the like are not what I call a quiet life; and they sometimes result in violence and civil disobedience; which are really bad things for Christ's believing followers.

1Thess 4:11b . . and tend your own business.

Getting one's self involved with stuff that doesn't pertain to you whilst neglecting your obligations. commitments, and responsibilities is irresponsible.

I think this rule may be intended to regulate meddling too; which in my opinion is a very annoying habit practiced by people who honestly believe they know how to live your life better than you. Well; maybe they do; but if there is one thing I and quite a few others really despise it's unsolicited counseling.

264) 1Thess 4:11c-12 . . Work with your own hands, just as we instructed you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders; and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

In times of economic stress— e.g. the 2008 Wall Street collapse, downsizing, wage reductions, corporations expatriating for tax advantages and/or outsourcing and moving their manufacturing offshore to take advantage of cheap labor and skimpy government controls, and the covid-19 virus chaos —a pretty large percentage of America's employable Christians were, and have been, out of work not because they were lazy free-loaders; but because their opportunities for full time work with decent wages and benefits evaporated.

So tread lightly when services like unemployment benefits, SNAP, and TANF, etc, come up in conversations. Innocent people's feeling might get hurt if you become too critical of those kinds of relief systems. And don't ever assume that you are immune to poverty. It can happen to anyone; even overnight and then you'll be looking around for assistance; maybe even from the very agencies that you at one time thought were below you.

265) 1Thess 4:18 . . Encourage each other with these words.

Below are the words to which Paul referred

1Thess 4:13-17 . . Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to The Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of The Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

. . . For The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet The Lord in the air. And so we will be with The Lord forever.

In other words: when non Christians and such lose a non Christian loved one, the loss is assumed permanent; but when Christians lose a Christian loved one, the loss is presumed temporary.

266) 1Thess 5:5-6 . . We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.

Is it possible for a Christian to be asleep at the wheel? Yes, absolutely or why else would Paul encourage his friends to remain wide-awake and bushy-tailed?

Mark 4:18-19 . . Others are like seed sown among thorns: they hear the word; but are distracted by the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth; and longings for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Well, the lesson is obvious. Christians ought not to be distracted by worldly pursuits to such an extent that the day about which The Lord spoke comes as a big disappointment. No; they ought to be glad to see it rather than be all broken up about it because like it nor not; Christians take no more out with them than the lost when they leave this sphere. So try not to get too attached.

1Tim 6:7 . . For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

267) 1Thess 5:8 . . Since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

There's likely any number of explanations for "the day" and probably all are useful. However, we can narrow them all down to just saying that we who belong to the day are alive to God as opposed to when we were dead to God.

When someone is dead to you, then you're saying that they are someone with whom you do not care to associate; and as far as you're concerned they don't even exist.

"Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness." (Rom 6:11-14)

According to Rom 8:23-25 the "hope" of salvation is the gain of another body.

"We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

This hope isn't a wishing hope, nor is it a hope-for-the-best hope, nor a cross-your-fingers hope. The Greek word is elpis (el-pece') which means to anticipate with pleasure and confident expectation.

Anticipation is way different than wishful thinking. When a daddy loads up the car with wife and kids for a day at Six Flags, his family is no longer wishing he'd take them there. No, they're in the car and on the way. They no longer wish, but are now looking forward to having a day of great fun, food, and excitement. That's elpis hope; and when people have it, they have peace of mind as regards their afterlife future.

When I was young and strong, the resurrection of the dead wasn't very meaningful. But now that I am old and my body is deteriorating, resurrection is very meaningful; along with being very comforting to know that there is a day coming when I will be young again.

268) 1Thess 5:11 . . Therefore encourage one another, and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Building up is just the opposite of tearing down. Christians in Galatia were busy doing just that.

Gal 5:15 . . But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another!

Biting and devouring one another describes cannibals and carnivorous beasts.

269) 1Thess 5:12-13a . . Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in The Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.

I would say that if the officers in your church are just too impossible for you to respect then it's time to abandon ship. Don't mutiny though because mutiny is just as much a sin as heresy. The rank and file aren't called to reform church officers; but to cooperate with them. (Heb 13:17)

If they can't cooperate with them; then I sincerely believe the rank and file should leave and find a church where they can because Christ isn't pleased with grudging cooperation; rather, with whole-hearted cooperation. (cf. Mark 12:30)

270) 1Thess 5:13b . . Live in peace with each other.

In this instance, "each other" probably refers to the fraternity of believers, i.e. Christ's body

The category of peace Paul is talking about is social; viz: harmony in personal relations. The Hippies and the peace-nics failed to achieve peace primarily because they couldn't be civil among themselves unless they were high on mood-altering drugs.

Peace can be defined as: calm, pacific, tranquil, at rest, quiet, and free of trouble, friction, and strife.

A lack of peace is characterized by war, quarrelling, debating, vendettas, hostility, grudging, fault finding, nit picking, chafing, competition, rivalry, cold shouldering, factions, taking sides, cliques, hostility, militancy, disorder, antagonism, fighting, conflict, struggles, et al.

271) 1Thess 5:14a . . We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly

The "brothers" in this case likely addresses church managers.

The Greek word translated "unruly" is ataktos (at-ak'-toce) which means: irregular; viz: out of order; disorderly.

Unruly people are like kindergartners. Little kids are disruptive, boisterous, and impulsive. They go off-subject and say whatever they want right out of the blue. They provoke and antagonize each other, they don't listen, they talk out of turn, can't stay in their seats, and they meddle and can't mind their own business: but that's to be expected from their age group:

When I hear of four supposedly adults on a television talk show throwing hissy fits and walking off the set, and/or talking out of turn; and spontaneously interrupting each other in mid sentence— sometimes all four speaking at once —I have to wonder.

And so-called presidential debates where again two supposedly mature adults, competing for the power to run the country, are hurling accusations and recriminations, assassinating each other's character, and calling each other names; I get disgusted. God forbid that Christ's followers act like that either in church or out in the world.

272) 1Thess 5:14b . . Comfort the discouraged

A discouraged person is someone who's given up all expectation that a situation will improve or change; viz: despairing.

In order to obey that directive, it's necessary to become personal with the people with whom you attend church. Too many Christians are like little islands of humanity in church. They warm a pew on Sunday morning and then get up and leave without bothering to spend even one minute mingling. They don't attend Sunday school because in Sunday school you meet people— you associate with them; you get to know them, and they get to know you.

As disagreeable as that might be for private types of Christians, Sunday school is the best place in church to go for sympathy, for encouragement, and for support. Unfortunately, not many Christians are comfortable with negativity; and tend to distance themselves from people down in the dumps.

Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot released a sentimental song back in 1975 that speaks volumes about sympathy. Its lyrics are very touching. Here's a few that we feel especially appropriate.

Rainy day people always seem to know when it's time to call.
Rainy day people don't talk, they just listen till they've heard it all.
Rainy day lovers don't lie when they tell 'ya they've been down like you.
Rainy day people don't mind if you're cryin' a tear or two.

NOTE: In Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book "Ten Stupid Things That Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives" she lists men's propensity to fix things. In other words: instead of simply lending a sympathetic ear to people's problems, some men tend to see people with problems as "broken" and in need of repair— i.e. damaged —and then of course they take the initiative to begin offering unsolicited remedies. No; the idea is to console the discouraged rather than talk them out of their low state of mind.

FYI: There're quite a few sites online offering helpful lists of Sympathy Do's and Don'ts that are pretty easy to find via search engine query.

273) 1Thess 5:14c . . Support the weak

That could probably be stretched to mean any number of things; but I should think it includes care for your church's aged and/or infirm; viz; people on crutches, people getting around in wheel chairs, people who can no longer drive a car, people lacking enough health to even leave their residences and go shopping on their own, people stuck in assisted living: that sort of thing.

274) 1Thess 5:14d . . Be patient with everyone.

The Greek word for patient is makrothumeo (mak-roth-oo-meh'-o) which has little to do with getting fed up with people. In James 5:7-8 it speaks of giving things space to happen in their own good time.

I would say that in this case, makrothumeo speaks of giving people a chance to either catch on or catch up. For example: we all perfectly understand what we're saying while those hearing may need to have us restate ourselves in different words in order to clarify a misunderstanding.

And there are occasions when we need to give people time to get used to a new idea or a new method, etc. which at first they might resist.

275) 1Thess 5:15a . . See that none render evil for evil unto any man;

Reciprocation is a normal response to abuse, injustice, and ill will but it isn't an acceptable response; unless of course turning the other cheek is somehow no longer in vogue for Christ's followers.

1Thess 5:15b . . but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

Christian conduct isn't a temporary uniform kept in the closet just for Sunday mornings like the rather odd patrons who wear costumes at Star Trek conventions. No, Christian conduct is every-day wear: in the home, on the job, at school, at the beach, at the mall, at the park, at the beach, in restaurants, at the dentist, in amusement centers, at the zoo, at the circus, on the internet, et al; in other words: ever-followed; not just at church on Sunday morning; which makes ever-following that which is good somewhat stressful at first; until it becomes second nature, i.e. a habit.

276) 1Thess 5:16 . . Rejoice evermore.

I think we'd better include the passage below with the one above.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

. . . In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1Pet 1:3-7)

In other words: regardless of the severity of our misery, we're supposed to take heart in the fact that it's temporary, that it serves a divine purpose; and that there's the reality of something much, much better in store for us down at the end of the tunnel.

NOTE: For those of us whose safety from eternal suffering is in the bag, the coming salvation spoken of in 1Pet 1:3-7 is most likely the resurrection that Paul spoke of in Rom 8:23-25, 1Cor 15:12-57, and 1Thess 4:13-18.

277) 1Thess 5:17 . . pray continually

The Greek word for "continually" is adialeiptos (ad-ee-al-ipe'-toce) which means: uninterruptedly; viz: without omission. Webster's defines omission as: 1) something neglected or left undone, and 2) apathy toward, or neglect of, duty.

Believers who pray seldom, or not at all, are like a young man in the military who never writes home until his parents complain about his silence. I wrote home so infrequently when I was in the US Army back in the 1960's that my dad finally threatened to contact my company commander about it. (I thought that rather out of character for my dad since he never really cared anything about what I was doing all the years when I lived at home.)

You know, I have to admit, that even if I had a red phone installed in my home with a direct connection to God's desk, it would gather dust and cobwebs from lack of use. I sometimes suspect that's one of the reasons trouble comes our way. It's to provoke some of us to call home.

It's not that I don't like God; it's just that all my life I've been conditioned to feel peripheral, and important to no one. My natural siblings are just the opposite. They have always perceived themselves at the center of the universe— essential to its existence —while I have always perceived myself as not even belonging in the universe; let alone being at its center and/or having anything to do with its existence.

But feelings of unimportance are a handicap: not just in life, but in the spiritual realm too. It is just about nigh unbearable for believers like myself to comply with 1Thess 5:17 since we simply cannot believe ourselves missed by anyone; especially Christ's Father who we believe in our hearts must certainly prefer the company of people far more interesting than ourselves. But that command applies to everybody whether we think God cares or not. All must comply; no exceptions.

Luke 18:1-2 . .Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not lose heart.

278) 1Thess 5:18 . . Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

The Greek word for "give thanks" is eucharisteo (yoo-khar-is-teh'-o) which means to be grateful. This goes much deeper than just common courtesy. Appreciation is an attitude; which Webster's defines as: to value or admire highly.

They say every cloud has a silver lining. Whether that's so or not matters little as one should never let disagreeable circumstances make them bitter and resentful towards the Bible's God; for example:

Job 1:20-22 . .Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and The Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of The Lord. Through all this Job did not sin nor did he condemn God.

Hab 3:17-18 . . Although the fig tree fails to blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no food; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in The Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Regardless of what the unbelieving world may say, think, or feel about the Bible's God, the one thing He's done for me that I will always sincerely appreciate is donate His one and only son towards rescuing my soul from a terrible future.

John 3:16-17 . . For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

279) 1Thess 5:19 . . Quench not the Spirit.

People were quenching the Spirit long before there was any such thing as a Christian; even before the Flood.

"Then the Lord said: My Spirit will not contend with man forever" (Gen 6:2)

The Spirit's contention was accomplished by means of preachers, e.g. Abel (Luke 11:50-51), Enoch (Jude 1:14) and Noah (2Pet 2:5)

Had the antediluvians listened to the preaching that the Spirit made available to them, the Flood might have been averted.

Nowadays when Christians fail to listen to the preaching and/or teaching that the Spirit makes available to them, they end up drifting away from God instead of working with Him

1John 1:6 . . If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth

280) 1Thess 5:20 . . Do not despise prophecies.

The Greek word translated "prophecies" is propheteia (prof-ay-ti'-ah) which basically refers to predicting the future; for example: Matt 25:31-46, 1Cor 15:51-52, 1Thess 4:13-17, 2Pet 3:10, Rev 16:18-20, Rev 20:11-15, and Rev 21:1.

Webster's defines "despise" as (1) to look down on with contempt, loathing, or aversion, (2) to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful, and (3) to regard as unworthy of one's notice or consideration.

Just the opposite of relegating prophecy to the status of a superfluous field of study below one's dignity and/or likely not to hold one's interest; is a morbid fascination with it to the extent of construing prophecy to mean all sorts of things except what it actually says in writing.

I'm pretty sure that the prophecies Paul means for us to avoid despising are bona fide scriptural prophecies rather than crazy stuff that's likely not to be inspired but rather, the product of some crackpot's fertile imagination.

281) 1Thess 5:21-22 . . Evaluate everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.

In this instance: every form of evil pertains to the wild utterances of prophesy mongers. They seem to show up most often whenever there's a major crisis; e.g. insane government policies, economic collapses, massive earthquakes, tsunamis, and diseases like the Black Plague, Spanish flu, and the Corona Virus emergency.

282) 1Thess 5:25 . . Brethren, pray for us.

I can't help but wonder exactly who Paul addressed as "brethren" in that verse. Was it the whole church in Thessalonica, congregation and all, or limited to the hierarchy? I kind of suspect Paul was speaking to the hierarchy because just up ahead he's going to request that the epistle be read to "all" the brethren whereas he didn't request prayer from all the brethren.

Piety ia a bit strange sometimes. Take for example when Jesus came to Zechariah's son John to be baptized, he protested, no doubt incredulous: I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me!?

Likewise; I can't see the value in an apostle requesting prayers be made for himself by folk whose spiritual status was much inferior to his own. Interesting thought.

283) 1Thess 5:26 . . Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.

I honestly doubt that Paul actually meant that the hierarchy should physically kiss the congregation, rather, in a manner of speaking, to say "hi" for Paul, from him to them.

In America, it's common for friends to end a letter, or a cell text, or an instagram with XOXOXO; which means hugs and kisses; which aren't literal, rather, non physical expressions of affection; which are harmless enough, and certainly far more sanitary.

284) 1Thess 5:27 . . I adjure you by The Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.

I think it safe to say that Paul wasn't talking about picking out a verse here and there as a spring board to a sermon, no, he meant the whole epistle, not just excerpts.

The word "adjure" has a variety of meanings; they all pretty much relate to putting someone under a solemn obligation (e.g. Matt 26:63-64) viz: church officers who neglect reading Paul's epistle(s) to their congregations are in serious dereliction of duty.

285) 2Thess 2:1-4 . . Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, that the day of Christ is at hand.

. . . Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, presenting himself that he is God.

The temple of God will be located in the city of Jerusalem in the country of Israel. Seeing as how there is no temple there now, then we should beware falling prey to fanatical claims that the current global chaos related to the Covid virus is a sign that the end is near.


287) 2Thess 2:15 . . Brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

The "traditions" to which Paul refers are in two categories: (1) word of mouth, and (2) in writing. Seeing as how Paul and his contemporaries are no longer available for personal appearances, then the only reliable traditions in existence are the ones they left us in writing; viz: their letters; i.e. the epistles written by Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude. If we include Acts and the Gospels, then the traditions would consist of the entire New Testament.

288) 2Thess 3:6-10 . . In the name of The Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it.

. . . On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

People unemployed due to circumstances beyond their control are exempt from that directive. It specifically targets what we here in the USA call a bum: which Webster's defines as someone who sponges off others not because they can't find work; but because they have an aversion to work; viz: they avoid work as if it were an inconvenient imposition on their leisure time.

289) 2Thess 3:11-13 . .We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in The Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

I'm pretty sure that the "brothers" in that passage are church officers seeing as how it speaks of "some among you" which would indicate the congregation.

Some might not think that holding down a job qualifies as Christianity but it certainly does, especially when working for a living is categorized as "doing what is right".

1John 3:7 . . Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

290) 2Thess 3:14 . . If anyone does not obey our commands in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.

Back then when churches were small cells meeting in private homes rather than auditoriums seating hundreds of people, it was easy for church officers to hold their congregation's feet to the fire. Nowadays, forget it. Church sizes are such that officers haven't a clue what's going on in the lives of their membership roles. As a result, modern churches are permeated with conduct unbecoming.

  2Thess 3:15 . .Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Mandatory consequences were usually for the purpose of discipline; viz: child rearing. So when officers ostracize one of Christ's followers, they should keep in mind that the errant follower is one of their own: a sibling around the table in God's home. So wayward followers shouldn't be permanently culled from the herd as if they're the devil in disguise. They aren't devils; no, they're just naughty kids that deserve grounding, so to speak. (cf. 2Cor 2:6-11)


NOTE: Quite a bit of the material in the apostle Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus contain written instructions for church officers; but as his instructions are very likely of interest to seminary students on a path towards becoming church officers; they bear repeating on the internet just in case one or more wanna-bees happen to be looking in. If so, then please consider our comments merely a primer, i.e. a taste of the really good stuff available from seminary faculties

292) 1Tim 1:3-5 . . As I urged you when I went into Macedonia— remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

The epistles of Timothy and Titus are sometimes called the pastoral epistles because Paul's instructions target mainly church managers rather than congregations.

"no other doctrine" is the information Paul mentioned in another letter.

2Thess 2:15 . . So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

"by letter" would of course include 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus; and all the other epistles too, including Peter's, James', John's, and Jude's.


294) 1Tim 2:8-9 . . I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and evil thoughts.

Lifting up one's hands is the posture of an anxious beggar seeking charity and compassion. Holy hands are loyal hands. Other kinds of hands should be kept at one's side till such a time as they qualify as true blue, thru and thru.

The Greek word for "wrath" is orge (or-gay') which means: hot desire. Orge is sometimes translated anger, indignation, and vengeance. The idea is that a believer should never pray out of spite and/or use prayer as a tool to hurt somebody's feelings. That is the ugliest abuse of the privilege of prayer that I can possibly imagine. In my opinion, people who pray out of spite are no different than slanderers, witches, sorcerers, and voodoo priests. Especially annoying are people who can't keep a civil tongue in their heads, and then have the nerve to say "you're in our prayers"

295) 1Tim 2:9-10 . . In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becomes women professing piety) with good works.

The Greek word for "sobriety" is sophrosune (so-fros-oo'-nay) which means soundness of mind; viz: sane, composed, and self controlled. A woman in the throes of hysteria, passionate rage, misandry, door-slamming, or a hissy fit doesn't fit the definition.

Some folk, obsessed with asceticism, use that verse to prove it's wrong for women to use cosmetics and dress themselves in current fashions. But the passage doesn't forbid that. What it forbids is a woman putting a higher priority on her appearance than her character.

The old adage "You can't judge a book by its cover" applies here as well as in literature. I've met women with tattoos, studs in their tongues, multicolored hair, fishnet stockings, outrageous earrings, tight-fitting concert tee shirts, low-slung hip huggers, and black lipstick that were really peaches while I've met elegant, neatly dressed women with horrible personalities. They say a rose in any language is still a rose; yeah, well, a pig, no matter how it's dressed, is still a pig whether in belly shirts and flip-flops or haute couture.

Prov 11:22 . . An attractive woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig's snout. (cf. 1Pet 3:1-6)

The Greek word for "shamefacedness" is aidos (ahee-doce') which means: bashfulness, i.e. diffidence; which is just the opposite of insolence, impudence, and brazenness. Bashful people have a hard time looking people in the eye because they are so shy, non-confrontational, timid, self conscious, and non-assertive. What we're looking at here relates to one of The Lord's beatitudes.

Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

That's a very comforting beatitude because it confirms that there's coming a day when difficult people will be eradicated.

296) 1Tim 2:11 . . Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.

The Greek word for "submissiveness" is hupotage (hoop-ot-ag-ay') which basically refers to subordination.

Hupotgage appears in a number of applications. In Matt 22:12 the word means tongue tied. In Mark 4:39 it means calm down. In 1Tim 5:18 it infers suppression. In 1Tim 2:15 it means to negate, i.e. render invalid and/or unworthy of consideration.

During my 74 years on this planet; I've encountered quite a few women that enjoy debating with men; and especially pointing out men's faults and/or proving men wrong. I don't know why they're like that, I guess it's just a female thing. But Christ doesn't allow it.

If 1Tim 2:11 is telling me anything at all it's that Christ doesn't want to see Christian women debating, quarrelling, or arguing with men in church; and that includes Sunday school discussions. In point of fact, according to 1Cor 14:35, women aren't even allowed to raise their hands and ask a question.

Gender equality is a big issue out in the world; but God forbid it should become an issue in church because Divine opinions trump human opinions.

Ps 16:11 . . Be still and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.

297) 1Tim 2:12-15 . . I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

The "my church" that Christ spoke of at Matt 16:18 isn't meant to be steered by personal opinions, popular culture, and/or political correctness. He has some say about it and his say is the final word.

In the "my church" males are the gender designated to captain the ships; not the females. I don't trust a church supervised by female managers and pastors. Why? Because it tells me that Christ is not active in that church providing it with the tools the congregation needs in order to grow in strength and maturity per Eph 4:11-16.

298) 1Tim 2:15 . . Women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

In other words, it isn't necessary for women to be pastors, deacons, and/or adult Sunday school teachers in order to serve Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively. Homemaking is just as high a calling as any in church.

Can a female church manager or a pastor; continue in faith, love, and sanctity with self-restraint? In point of fact, it is a non sequitur to say a female church manager or pastor continues in faith. If she did, she would be neither a church manager nor a pastor. This is precisely why God rejected Cain's offering. It was a perfectly good offering, and no doubt Cain had brought God the very same thing in the past, but God rejected it that time because that's the one time that Cain failed to offer it in faith. (Gen 4:7, Heb 11:4)

299) 1Tim 3:2a . . An overseer, then, must be above reproach

The Greek word for "overseer" is episkopos (ep-is'-kop-os) which basically refers to supervisors.

Why must they be above reproach? Because the work they do is a "good" work (1Tim 3:1) but much good can be ruined by even a little wickedness.

Ecc 10:1 . . Dead insects will cause even a bottle of perfume to stink! Yes, an ounce of foolishness can outweigh a pound of wisdom and honor.

Before the wonders of modern chemistry, perfumes were made (and many still are) from animal and vegetable sources. Those, being 100% organic in a time when chemical preservatives didn't exists, could spoil if the perfumer wasn't careful to keep his product protected from exposure to temperature, insects, dirt, moisture, and other contaminants. All the skills and patience and knowledge exercised in the making of expensive ointments could be completely annulled by simply forgetting to put the cap (or the cork; whatever) back on a jar.

Anyway, Ecc 10:1 certainly rings true in this day and age as Christendom's credibility steadily diminishes because of its ongoing morality scandals, embezzling, and deplorable cover-ups.

300) 1Tim 3:2b . . the husband of one wife

That directive is a bit ambiguous. Some feel it says that a church officer can have only one wife at a time; viz: not a polygamist; while others feel it says that he can be married only once in a lifetime; viz: not a widower or a divorced man.

Whichever; the rule here in 1Tmothy is limited to the home life of church officers, so it would be wrong to force this verse upon the rank and file.

An overseer must also be:

1Tim 3:2c . . temperate

This kind of temperance relates to a personality that's self controlled, sensible, disciplined, levelheaded, avoiding extremes of behavior or expression, i.e. observing reasonable limits.

1Tim 3:2d . . prudent

The Greek word for "prudent" is sophron (so'-frone) which means: having a sound mind; viz: rational, reasonable, and sensible as opposed to emotional and reactive.

1Tim 3:2e . . respectable

The word for "respectable" is kosmios (kos'-mee-os) which means: orderly, viz: decorous.

Webster's defines decorous as marked by propriety; viz: correct; and exhibiting good taste in conduct, language, or appearance. A decorous person is— among other things —neat, tidy, well-mannered, well-groomed, and polite. They bathe often too.

1Tim 3:2f . . hospitable

The word for "hospitable" is philoxenos (fil-ox'-en-os) which means: fond of guests.

In other words, church officers shouldn't be hermit types, or friendless loners preferring solitude. Not that there's anything wrong with hermits and loners; it's just that church officers are supposed to be shepherds, which requires them to associate with the sheep entrusted to their care. A man who doesn't mingle easily and comfortably really should consider taking a position in church where he doesn't have to meet the public.

1Tim 3:2g . . apt to teach

"apt to teach" is from the word didaktikos (did-ak-tik-os') which means: instructive ("didactic")

That word is tricky. It's sometimes translated "able to teach". That's okay I guess, but I suspect didaktikos actually refers to role models, i.e. people whose manner of life exemplifies Christianity. In other words; their teaching is in shoe leather rather than only in a classroom.

1Tim 3:3a . . not addicted to wine

Church officers aren't forbidden alcohol; just too much alcohol.

"No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." (1Tim 5:23)

A "little" wine can lead to a lot for someone with a predilection to over imbibe. For people like that, it's best to avoid wine altogether rather than risk becoming a candidate for AA.

For church officers with health issues, I suggest consulting a doctor because there are much better treatments available in our day than there were back then.

1Tim 3:3b . . not pugnacious

Webster's defines pugnacious as: militant, defensive, warlike, combative, pushy, assertive, intimidating, scrappy, and belligerent.

Some men are natural-born bullies and others are ready to "take it outside" at every challenge. With them, turning the other cheek is not an option. Well; you sure don't want personalities like that on the board of your church and/or helming a pulpit. Heaven forbid!!!

1Tim 3:3c . . gentle, non contentious

A good church officer isn't what might be called shrinking; but rather, he's an affable, courageous man who selects his conflicts carefully.

For some people, every disagreement is an act of war: they're assertive, demanding, reactive, defensive, and confrontational not just some of the time; but all the time. A gentle man is not so quick to draw his guns at the slightest provocation.

A gentle, non contentious man is a good choice to chair a Sunday school class because there's always at least one or more hecklers, fault-finders, and/or know-it-all kibitzers in the room that are sure to try his patience.

1Tim 3:3d . . free from the love of money

I would highly recommend that a prospective church officer's background be checked before proceeding with the interview process. Is his credit good? Does he have gambling debts? Does he prefer gourmet foods and restaurants? Does he wear Armani suits, hand-made shoes, a Cartier wrist watch, and drive a new Lexus SUV? What's his current home worth? What part of town does he live in?

Because, unfortunately, there are men out there seeking careers in the business of religion, and are very good at finding ways to get their fingers in a church's treasury— and not a few are looking for lucrative wage and benefit packages instead of an opportunity to serve Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively; and to look out for his best interests instead of their own.

1Tim 3:4-5 . . He must manage his own family well, and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)

There's respect, and then there's "proper" respect; which has to be nurtured because a father cannot get proper respect by coercion and/or intimidation; which instead earn fear, suspicion, mistrust, and dread. Tyranny might be good Machiavellian management, but should never be construed as good Christian management; which the above defines as "care".

1Tim 3:6 . . He must not be a novice, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the Devil.

According to Ezek 28:12-19, the Devil's fall was due to his insufferable conceit.

Conceited people are usually infected with a superiority complex; which can be roughly defined as a sort of master-race mentality.

If an inexperienced Christian is advanced too soon in church, they could easily become so proud of themselves that they regard their position as an achievement instead of a sacred trust. When someone is promoted to a position in church they ought not celebrate as if they won valedictorian in their senior graduating class; no; they really ought to be nervous because God is holding them to a higher standard than the rank and file. (Luke 12:48, cf. Jas 3:1)

1Tim 3:7 . . He must also have a good reputation with outsiders

Paul lists that qualification as a must, as opposed to merely a good idea.

You know; that's all a church needs is to install a new church officer only to find out later he's the classic neighbor from Hell.

The new guy might be a one-eyed Jack in church, but the kids on his street, and the people whose property adjoins his, the post man, the convenience store, the gas station, the super market, the department store, the drive-up at Burger King, the trick-or-treaters, the bank, the paperboy, etc, have all seen the other side of his face.

It had better match the one he's shown you or your church's overall influence in the community will be in the tank; and you will have a man in a key spot whom Christ does not approve, and with whom he does not care to associate.


313) 1Tim 3:8-9 . . Deacons likewise must be men of dignity; etc, etc.

"dignity" is from the Greek word semnos (sem-nos') which means venerable, i.e. deserving honor and respect, especially by reason of age; viz: esteemed.

The Greek word for "deacons" is diakonos (dee-ak'-on-os) which means: an attendant, i.e. (genitive case) a waiter (at table or in other menial duties).

Deacons aren't necessarily clergy. In point of fact, many are laymen because theirs is a support role rather than a shepherd's role. And "deacon" isn't a career track, rather, deacons are typically uncompensated volunteers.

It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for a church's officers to run the operation all by themselves without a ready pool of reliable grunts; viz: ones who step up to routine, unglamorous tasks, (a.k.a. scut).

314) 1Tim 3:10 . . And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.

The vetting process must of necessity include interviewing people who've had experience with a candidate; for example:

Acts 6:1-4 . . Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

. . . And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

The men considered for deacons in that passage were not only above average spiritually, but also "of good repute". In other words: men being considered for deacons really ought to be required to provide some character references from among the congregation.

315) 1Tim 3:11 . . In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect; not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

Though an applicant for deacon may himself be a pious man, he's to be disqualified if his wife's piety isn't on a par with his own.

I think that may be based upon Gen 2:18; where it's stated that a wife's purpose is a supporting role rather than a starring role. An impious wife is probably not going to be very enthusiastic about her pious husband's devotion to the care and function of a church.

316) 1Tim 3:12-13 . . Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.

Qualifications for deacons are very similar to those for the officers they assist. (cf. 1Tim 3:2 & 1Tim 3:4-6)

Monogamy is a practical consideration. Keeping it down to one wife, rather than more, is one less influence for church men to cope with.

NOTE: This rule isn't limited to Christian church men. It's a requirement for Israel's monarchs too. (Deut 17:17)

317) 1Tim 4:7a . . Have nothing to do with the worldly fantasies of withered old women.

I think this refers to spiritual traditions that the seniors of every generation customarily pass down to the young; thus perpetuating man-made beliefs and practices rather than biblical.

The USA's indigenous cultural traditions would be a good example of this. When a Native American becomes a Christian, the Bible will expects them to disown portions of their spiritual heritage, and let them go; not entirely of course; but certain elements like contacting the spirits of one's deceased ancestors would have to be scrubbed for sure.

Quite a few Native Americans are satisfied that the cosmos is the result of intelligent design However, one of their indigenous beliefs is quite in the reverse of Christianity's. According to the Bible, a man was created first and from him the woman was constructed. This may seem inconsequential but it's a very important element in both the plan of salvation and the human condition. (Rom 5:12-21)

Anyway, native culture is a very sensitive issue and one where non-native Christians, unschooled in Indigenous culture, seriously need to tread lightly. The White Man's early attempts to completely wipe out everything Native American was a terrible mistake that today's non-native Christians have got to be extra careful not to repeat.

318) 1Tim 4:7b-8 . .Train yourself to be pious. For physical training is of some value, but piety has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

The Greek word translated "train" refers to the conditioning that athletes underwent in order to be in top form during competition, i.e. practice.

Webster's defines piety as devoutness, i.e. committed or devoted to religion or to religious duties or exercises; also: devoted to a pursuit, belief, or mode of behavior.

James wrote that faith without works is dead, and encouraged his readers to put Christ's ways into practice rather than just study them in Sunday school. (Jas 1:22-25)

I'm pretty sure that one of the things "promise for the present life" refers to is providence, which works to our best advantage when we're pious rather than worldly. (John 14:21-23, 1John 1:6)

NOTE: There was a Christian formula circulating back in the day that went something like this: "Practice the presence of Christ." Well that's all well and good as far as it goes, but I would rather encourage practicing piety instead.

319) 1Tim 4:11 . . Command and teach these things.

I believe Paul was referring to everything written in his letter; not just the last few verses.

320) 1Tim 4:12 . . Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

It's commonly assumed that Paul's instructions were in reference to Timothy's age; but I suspect it had more to do with his looks.

Some men age well; for instance the actor Rob Lowe. As of today, he's 57 years old; but honestly doesn't look it. Rob is one of those lucky guys who seem to be forever 21; and handsome too.

I think Timothy may have been like that. He just didn't look old enough to take the reins of a church, let alone an entire diocese. In other words: it could be that Timothy didn't look the part so he was going to have to really mean business if he was to win people's respect. I would say that preventing folks from looking down on one's youthfulness means: don't give them a reason to.

321) 1Tim 4:13 . . Focus upon the public reading of scripture, and to preaching and teaching.

Public reading was necessary because of the scarcity of Bibles in print those days. All were hand-written; none were mass-produced like now. But even with the ease of access to Bibles nowadays, the danger lies in Christians becoming self-taught if church officers neglect to preach and teach. (cf. Eph 4:11-16)

Scripture in those days would have been pretty much limited to the Old Testament since the New Testament's canon had not yet been compiled. The Old Testament is very important because it is impossible for believers to obtain a full understanding of The Lord's mission and purpose without a comprehensive knowledge of the Old Testament.

Luke 24:44-45 . . And he said unto them, These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.

The Old Testament is also very useful for other purposes too.

2Tim 3:15-17 . . The holy scriptures are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Rom 15:4 . . For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

322) 1Tim 4:15-16 . . Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

Goods and services are often advertised by means of comparisons; i.e. before and after, e.g. weight loss programs, age resisting cosmetics, hormone replacements, house paints, etc.

Well; Christianity is reputed to be not only a life-changing religion, but also a person-changing religion. For example:

2Cor 4:16 . .Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Of all the people in church, its officers really ought to be living exhibits of the before-and-after results of their own religion; viz: the congregation really ought to be seeing improvements in their personality, their civility, their integrity, and their piety because if Christianity doesn't work to improve its officers, then I believe the rank and file have a justifiable reason to expect it won't work for them either.

323) 1Tim 5:1a . . When speaking to an older man, appeal to him respectfully as though he were your own father.

There's probably nothing more humiliating to a parent than to be treated like dirt by their children— except maybe to be treated like dirt by a spouse.

Americans have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. Well, a child is not a parent's peer; he's not even the parent's equal let alone his peer. Parents are not children's peers; no, parents are their betters, not their equals. It's a thoughtless, wicked, insolent dunce who treats their parents with no more respect than a college beer buddy.

I was in a Sunday school class one morning where a young fellow substituted for the regular teacher. After practically every sentence during his lecture, the fellow would pause, tighten his lips, turn down the corners of his mouth, squint his eyes into narrow slits, and look around the room with a fierce scowl on his face; and better than half that room was older than he was. I don't know about the rest of the group, but as a man easily twice his age; I deeply resented the looks that youngster was giving us.

NOTE: Disrespect for elders, especially one's own parents; was very prevalent during Mao Zedong's so-called cultural revolution.

Some and/or all of Mao's principles are still practiced in various societies around the globe where the powers that be encourage children to spy on their parents-- to rat them out as enemies of the State --thus effectively breaking up family solidarity; which can result in frightful consequences. (cf. Matt 10:34-36 & Malachi 4:5-6)

324) 1Tim 5:1b . .Speak to the younger men as you would to your own kin.

In this case, the "kin" would be sort of like a man's younger siblings; viz: his kid brothers. Young boys look up to their big brothers; who by all rights should be setting the example as role models that a growing boy can be proud of. Big brothers ought to be available too, and not treat their younger siblings as excess baggage and/or uncool nerds and morons beneath their dignity to be seen with.

Church officers who grew up in dysfunctional homes, where human relationships were an ongoing cold war, are going to find that 1Tim 5:1b is very difficult to obey in a manner that exemplifies peace, love, and understanding. But were they to speak to the younger men in church the very same way that they're accustomed to speaking to their families growing up; it would produce disastrous results.

325a) 1Tim 5:2a . . Speak to the older women as mothers,

Speaking to older women as mothers means doing so in compliance with the fourth of the Ten Commandments.

"Honor your mother" (Ex 20:12)

Honoring one's mother means giving her the respect that her age and her maternal position deserve. It means watching your language, and it means keeping a civil tongue in your head. It means speaking to her as a grown-up instead of a child. It means treating her as superior and you as subordinate. It means deferring to her wishes instead of demanding your own.

NOTE: In some cultures, women have to earn respect, i.e. they have to deserve it; whereas in Christianity their respect is taken for granted; they don't have to earn it. For example: according to Lev 19:32 the younger generation is expected to honor the older; not because they deserve it, but because God requires it.

325b) 1Tim 5:2b . . Speak the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

The Greek word for "purity" is hagneia (hag-ni'-ah) which means: cleanliness; viz: chastity

Webster's defines "chastity" as: abstention from unlawful sexual intercourse and/or purity in conduct and intention

Church officers are sometimes admired as celebrities; ergo: they're in an advantageous position for meeting star-struck women; thus opportunities for trysts abound.

Officers should especially avoid speaking to the young women in church as if hanging out in a beer joint or a bowling alley. These days it's all too easy to inadvertently pick up inappropriate speech habits due to the proliferation of vulgar language in television and Hollywood movie scripts. Keep it professional guys.

326) 1Tim 5:3-4 . . Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, her kin should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.

A widow in real need would be one who is unable to work and has no one of her own to look out after her. Here in modern America that situation isn't nearly as serious as it is in third world countries where there are no government assistance programs for senior citizens. So you can see that in those circumstances a widow's church may be the only thing between her and grinding poverty.

A widow's Christian progeny have a sacred obligation to provide for their aging ancestor.

1Tim 5:8 . .Those who won't care for their own kin, especially those living in the same household, have disregarded what we believe. Such people are worse than infidels.

327) 1Tim 5:5-7 . .The widow who is really in need, and left all alone, puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.

The New Testament Greek word for "pleasure" means voluptuous; which Webster's defines as luxury and/or sensual gratification.

People who live only for the best that life has to offer generally regard religion as a ball and chain holding them back from living their lives to the fullest. Well; not everyone has access to either the means or the wherewithal to live life to the fullest. For some, life offers no options other than a tin shack, a dirt floor, and a bowl of white rice; if that.

Basic necessities aren't the issue here, rather, the goal to satisfy one's appetite for the best that life has to offer. It's said that one cannot serve God and money, well neither can one serve God and one's inherent cravings. True, it's difficult to stop one's self from craving the best that life has to offer; but one can choose whether to let the satisfaction of those cravings be the dominant force in their life.

Mark 4:18-19 . . Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the concerns of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

328) 1Tim 5:9-10 . . No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble, and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

There are unprincipled individuals out there who love nothing better than taking advantage of a church's good nature, and its desire to be helpful. Following Paul's directive is a good way to avoid being victimized by one of them. (cf. Ruth 2:11)

329) 1Tim 5:11 . . Refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith.

The Greek words for "first faith" don't necessarily have to do with chronology. The word for "first" is protos (pro'-tos) which is somewhat ambiguous. It can refer to— besides chronology —priority, i.e. order of importance.

The passage seems to me a caution that there's always the possibility that young widows will want to get married bad enough to do so contrary to Christ's wishes that they marry only someone from among his followers (2Cor 6:14, 1Cor 7:39) thus failing to maintain their loyalty to a higher power. (cf. Luke 14:26-27)

330) 1Tim 5:14 . . I will that younger women marry, have children, manage their homes, and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.

The Greek word for "younger" actually means new and unused; so I'd say that Paul's orders are for girls not yet married and settled down, and maybe thinking of putting all that off awhile for careers, adventure, and/or whatever.

A very real danger for young single women is immorality. Desire, loneliness, and longings for appreciation, have a way of building up to unbearable levels in people who live alone; and just about that time, along comes a really great somebody who maybe breaks down their defenses and gets a little too chummy. That can be a difficult moment.

1Cor 7:2 . . To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

NOTE: Immorality isn't the only danger related to long-term celibacy. Those who've decided on that path need to think rationally and objectively about their future; and ask themselves: Do I really want to live out my youth without someone; alone and unloved in the world? Can I bear up without a nervous break-down and/or turning to alcohol, Prozac, and overeating? Will I become irritable and difficult, and/or a chronic man-hater like aunt Lucy?

Have to be brutally honest with these questions because one's mental health is on the line here. It's very possible for a woman to wake up one day and realize, with terrible regret, that the aging process has set in and she's allowed the very best years of life for love and family to slip through her fingers.

331) 1Tim 5:16 . . If any believing man or woman have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

A "widow indeed" is defined by 1Tim 5:9-10 an usually a woman who has no one else and/or nowhere else to turn.

332) 1Tim 5:17-18 . .The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the scripture says: "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain" and "The laborer is worthy of his hire."

The Greek word for "elder" is presbuteros (pres-boo'-ter-os). It corresponds to aldermen; which Webster's defines as: members of a legislative body. In other words; elders enact and enforce the proprietary rules and bylaws that govern everybody in a local church; including its pastor.

In some churches those rules and bylaws are called a covenant; which new members are required to accept. The aldermen are also responsible for settling disputes between church members (1Cor 6:1-5) so that they correspond to "the church" that Christ spoke of at Matt 18:15-18.

Aldermen aren't peculiar to Christianity. Councils pre-existed amongst Moses' people prior to Moses' commission (Ex 3:16). Anon, seventy of Israel's elders were established by God as a supreme council (Num 11:16-17). One's failure to cooperate with their church's aldermen is grounds for removing their name from the role. (Matt 18:15-18)

Since Christian aldermen sometimes wear more than one hat as preachers and teachers; then it's very possible in a large church for them to have time for nothing else, like for instance holding down a job. For that reason, their constituents should try and compensate them with a decent standard of living. I mean, after all, if their service to a local church is invaluable, then by all means the congregation should do whatever it takes to keep them on staff where they can devote all of their time and energy towards governing (that is; if you feel your church is a worthwhile endeavor).

Let's say for example, that one of your church's aldermen is a retiree trying to survive on Social Security and a diminished 401K. He'll be a lot more effective towards your church's good if the congregation, whatever its size, pitches in to help him make ends meet; and the outside world surely won't blame your church for doing so unless of course they're as callous towards the needs of a senior citizen as the heels of a hobnailed jackboot.

But beware that the congregation doesn't overcompensate its aldermen to the point where they can afford to drive a Cadillac Escalade, wear a Rolex, and own an expensive home in an up-scale district. That will really make Christianity look bad, and actually work against Christ's best interests.

333) 1Tim 5:19 . . Do not accept an accusation against an elder except before two or three witnesses.

The Old Testament requires a minimum of two witnesses in capital cases (Deut 17:6-7). But the Greek word for "accusation" doesn't specify capital crimes. It can apply to every variety of conduct unbecoming.

The way I see this: it isn't required that two or three witnesses accuse the elder, but that an accuser do so in the hearing of two or three witnesses. The witnesses are not there to testify against the elder; rather, to testify against the accuser in the event it's discovered that he's the perpetrator of a slander.

The Old Testament requires that false accusers be punished with the very same punishment that they expected for their victims. (Deut 19:16-21)

334) 1Tim 5:20 . .Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Once it's discovered that an accuser's allegations are libelous, then it's time to get up in front of the entire congregation and expose him for the cheap goods he really is because nobody's reputation is safe in the hands of someone like that. This is where the testimony of the aforementioned two or three witnesses comes into play.

1Cor 5:11-13 . . I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is a slanderer. With such a man do not even eat. Expel the wicked man from among you.

A roast of this nature can be a very humiliating experience for a church member, and when the others see how it goes, they'll think twice before making spurious allegations against aldermen.

335) 1Tim 5:21 . . I charge thee before God, and The Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

I seriously doubt that very many modern Christian churches are following Paul's instructions in regards to spurious accusations against elders. They probably find it much easier to just gloss over issues rather than comply with the mandatory procedure for roasting and expelling. (as if any of this is ever optional and/or negotiable)

Another thing that modern churches are very good at these days is covering up an elder's indiscretions when what they really deserve is a public hanging, so to speak. Happens all the time.

336) 1Tim 5:22a . . Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily.

The laying on of hands was a commissioning ritual back in the day. (Acts 6:1-6, Acts 13:1-3)

The ruling seems primarily concerned with the avoidance of fast-tracking candidates for aldermen, senior pastors, associate pastors, deacons, and deaconesses; in other words: church officials; whether high ranking or low ranking.

337) 1Tim 5:23 . . No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

In the days prior to the proliferation of antiseptics, antibiotics, inoculations, and a host of other mass-produced treatments; wine was an important remedy for just about everything from indigestion to open wounds. (e.g. Mark 15:23, and Luke 10:34)

Medicine has come a long ways in the last 2,000 years so that even if a little wine would still help whatever ailed Timothy's tummy, there's probably much better over-the-counter, non-alcoholic remedies available for his condition in our day.

Paul mentioned that his friend had other problems too. I have no clue what those might have been; but I have to ask: Why didn't Paul utilize his apostolic gift of healing to cure his friend? My answer is: probably because Timothy's problems didn’t require a miracle. For example Mark 16:13 where Christ' men utilized oil to treat certain people rather than miracles. In other words: when First Aid will do, surgery is unnecessary.

I suspect Timothy simply wasn't taking proper care of himself and/or getting enough rest. His diet may have been inadequate too. The old adage— God helps those who help themselves —is very true in some cases. My view is: if you can fix your own flat tire, then don't expect God to fix it for you. Like when a farmer prays for a good crop, he really needs to say amen with a hoe.

What else might be taken from 1Tim 5:23? Well; I would say do NOT rely upon so-called faith healing. Too many children are being lost these days to treatable conditions because their parents are putting so much trust in their church's interpretation of passages like Jas 5:14-15. If Paul recommended a remedy for Timothy's tummy; don't you think he would recommend a remedy for your child's treatable condition? Yes; of course he would. In many, many cases; people don't need a miracle; they just need a doctor.

338) 1Tim 6:1-2 . . Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against. And let those who have believers as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved.

I've heard that Masons practice favoritism; but Christians should never impose upon a fellow believer in that manner. Give your Christian employer the respect and subordination due his position; and give him a full day's work for a full days' pay. People are watching, and they pick up on things like disparity.

339) 1Tim 6:2 . .Teach and preach these principles.

Pastors should ensure their congregations are taught these things even when they don't care to hear them; and should never let the indifference of their flocks smother the voice of God.

2Tim 4:1-2 . . I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus— who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom —preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

. . . For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but desiring to have their ears pleased, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own longings; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to fiction.

To be "ready in season" likely speaks of windows of opportunity. In other words; pastors may have their people's attention for now, but shouldn't take them for granted. The old saying, "strike while the iron is hot" is just as apropos in church as it is in parenting.

340) 1Tim 6:3-6 . . If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness; he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved minds and deprived of the truth.

I'm pretty sure that the "conceit" Paul wrote about is relative to know-it-alls. Such people are often self-taught; and with them there is no such thing as a second opinion: only their own. And like the man said; they tend to be quarrelsome, i.e. perpetual debaters, constantly arguing and never getting to the bottom of anything. For them, opposition to, and/or disagreement with, their core values is an expression of hatred and disrespect for their value as a person.

341) 1Tim 6:8 . . Having food and raiment let us be content therewith.

According to 1Tim 1:1-3, this epistle wasn't written to a church, rather, it was written to one of Paul's contemporaries— a fellow church officer —so when he uses a pronoun like "us" I think it's safe to assume, unless indicated otherwise, that he's not speaking to a congregation.

Paul's instructions are handy for steering church officers away from wanting too much out of life.

1Tim 6:6 . . Piety with contentment is great gain.

The Greek word for contentment is sometimes translated "sufficient". In other words, when good is adequate, better isn't necessary. Good is easier on budgets than better too. So then: if a church officer can get by with things that are less than best, then he shouldn't waste time and energy concerning himself with improving his situation; because, after all, their lives here are transient.

Heb 13:14 . . For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come.

342) 1Tim 6:11 . . But you— O man of God —flee these things and pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.

German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) believed that Christian virtues, especially compassion, are an impediment to achieving greatness; which is just another way of saying that nice guys finish last.

The Greek word for "flee" is pheugo (fyoo'-go) which means: not to walk away; but rather, to run away; as if for your life. (cf. 1Cor 6:18)

FAQ: What is a man of God?

A: Well; first off we should point out that the Greek word for "man" in that passage is anthropos (anth'-ro-pos) which refers to h.sapiens; viz: human beings, of either gender, not just males; so it would be far more useful to translate that phrase "person of God".

NOTE: Man of God is okay too because when the creator made humans, he called both genders "man". (Gen 1:27 & Gen 5:2)

Men of God are typically inspired individuals; for example: Moses was a man of God (Deut 33:1) and David was a man of God. (Neh 12:24)

Numerous passages in the Old Testament identify men of God as prophets. In that respect; Abel was a man of God (Luke 11:49-51) Abraham was a man of God (Gen 20:7) and a whole bunch of other people too, including women; e.g. Miriam (Ex 15:20) Deborah (Judg 4:4) Asahiah (2Kgs 22:14) and Huldah (2Chron 24:32).

Obviously then, if your church's officers aren't inspired; then they aren't men of God; they're just church managers on a career path.

343) 1Tim 6:12a . . Fight the good fight of the faith.

The first Greek word for "fight" in that verse is agonizomai (ag-o-nid'-zom-ahee) which means: to struggle; literally to compete for a prize. This is the kind of conflict played out in competitive sports.

The second word for "fight" is agon (ag-one') which means: a place of assembly; viz: the field of completion; e.g. arenas, coliseums, and/or stadiums.

The object of a Christian's struggle is not so much conquest, but rather, a prize. In Paul's day athletes won wreaths. In our day, they win medals and lucrative contracts for product endorsements.

1Cor 9:24-26 . . Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

In Paul's day, there were no second-place winners; only first. When the competition is that fierce, athletes really go all out. So Paul is saying that Christians should battle for their reward as if there were only one gold to go around; in other words; really put their hearts into it.

However, in order to be adjudged a good fight, the contestants, win or lose, have to go by the book.

2Tim 2:5 . .When someone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.

344) 1Tim 6:12b . .Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good profession in the presence of many witnesses.

All of Christ's believing followers were called to eternal life. Note the grammatical tense of the "have" verb in the passages below. It's in the present tense; not future; indicating that Christ's believing followers have eternal life right now— no delay, and no waiting period.

John 3:36 . . He who believes in the Son has eternal life

John 6:47 . .Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

John 5:24 . . I assure you, those who heed my message and trust in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from Death into Life.

1John 5:13 . . I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

FAQ: Why would Paul encourage Timothy to take hold of eternal life if he already had it?

A: Having it, and making use of it, are two very different things. It's like having a lawn mower in your garage and a can of gas sitting beside it. Well; the mower won't be much use for cutting grass unless gas is transferred from the can to the mower's tank. The mower is a perfectly good machine, and the gas is a perfectly good fuel; but the two need to be combined in order to be effective.

345) 1Tim 6:13-14 . . I charge you in the sight of God— who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession —to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Greek word for "commandment" in that passage is entole (en-tol-ay') which means: an injunction, i.e. an authoritative prescription. It's difficult to tell if Paul had a specific instruction in mind or if he intended Timothy to accept his entire epistle as the law of Christ. If the latter is the case, then the NLT' seems the better version; which reads like this:

"And I command you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey his commands with all purity. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ returns."

The NLT's version encompasses all of Christ's expectations; from Acts to. Revelation.

The Geek translated "without spot/purity" is aspilos (as'-pee-los) which means: unblemished. It takes a pretty concentrated, uncompromising effort for a man to finish up a life of Christian service with a flawless record.

346) 1Tim 6:17-19 . . Command those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

In other words; providence is where the real security is because God controls it rather than market fluctuations.

Webster's defines "conceit" as an excessive appreciation of one's own worth and/or virtue. It's is all too common for the rich and famous to exhibit an aristocratic masters-of-the-universe demeanor, so to speak. In other words: conceited people think of themselves as self-reliant; they don't need God for anything; no, they can get by just fine without Him. In their mind's eye, only the weak need religion.

1Tim 6:18-19 . . Command them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

"that which is life indeed" refers to the divine nature about which Peter wrote at 2Pet 1:4, which offers a lasting return on one's investment.

Prov 19:17 . . He who is gracious to a poor man lends to The Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.

347) 1Tim 6:20 . . Avoid impious and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

Not all science is false. However, there are disciplines that fall into a category called "theoretical" referring to unproven ideas and concepts in chemistry, astronomy, geology, archeology, medicine, genetics, paleontology, anthropology, history, literature, physics, engineering, mathematics, etc.

Impious babbling probably refers to science-sounding arguments deliberately intended to discredit the Bible.

Vain babbling tells us that science-sounding arguments are futile; defined by Webster's as trifling and frivolous, i.e. of no real practical use or value.

1Tim 6:20 is especially applicable to informal group discussions, i.e. forums, bull sessions, and brain storming; conducted by people with a head full of scientific opinions who likely haven't a clue what they're talking about.

For example: one day at work a man in the break room said it's arrogant to assume there is no other intelligent life in the universe but that found on earth. You know why he said that? Because he heard it said first by someone he admires, ergo: he was perpetuating false science in the form of a respectable opinion.

People throw that kind of unproven stuff up to Christians all the time in attempts to debunk their religion and prove that it deserves no more credibility than myth, superstition, and/or fantasy. But seriously; don't impossible-to-prove scientific theories deserve the very same labels?


349) 2Tim 1:8a . . Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord (cf.1Pet 4:16-19)

Christianity is rooted in Jesus Christ. So when people identify themselves as Christians they're saying that they're his followers; i.e. they're aligned with him and they accept his teachings and his claims as the God's truth; while at the same time categorizing themselves as kooks and religious fanatics; and thus open to mockery and unkind gossip.

It's tough, but we have to bite the bullet lest when we meet Jesus, he gives us the same look he gave Peter on the night of the Lord's arrest. (Luke 22:61-62)

"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)

350) 2Tim 1:8b . . Don't be ashamed of me his prisoner; but Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

Peter distanced himself from Christ on the night of the Lord's arrest, no doubt fearing that if he were to admit to being one of the Lord's associates, he'd be arrested too. It appears Paul was concerned that Timothy, who was normally a loyal associate, would do the same to him while he was behind bars.

The power of God is involved in one's suffering for the gospel when He sets you up for it.

Phil 1:29 . . For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.

Suffering for the Gospel doesn't necessarily include martyrdom. The more common forms of suffering are privation, humiliation, threats, hunger, loss of friends and family, ostracizing, ridicule, mockery, harsh criticism, judgmental remarks, insults, intimidation, name calling, demeaning comments, ugly insinuations, slander, teasing, harassment, bullying, unfairness, prejudice, intolerance, disassociation, treachery, and betrayal; in other words, the kinds of stuff that really get you right down in the gut.

351) 2Tim 1:13 . . Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me.

The Greek word for "hold fast" is echo (ekh'-o) which means: to clutch, cling, or adhere to.

The word for "pattern" is hupotuposis (hoop-ot-oop'-o-sis) which means: a sketch; viz: a blueprint and/or a schematic diagram.

When Noah was commissioned to build the ark, he wasn't left clueless as to what it was supposed to look like. God gave him a design to work with. And when Moses was tasked to fabricate articles of worship for the Tabernacle, he too was given designs. In other words, Moses and Noah both made everything according to God-given specifications; viz: Christianity is a God-given religion; He has not left its design to human ingenuity.

What this boils down to is that modern churches have been handed down from Paul, and to a certain extent from Peter, a God-given pattern for their operations. When they depart from His pattern, then they are no longer following Christ; rather, they are attempting to lead him.

352) 2Tim 1:14 . . With the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us; carefully guard what has been entrusted to you.

This probably refers to congregations whose spiritual welfare is the responsibility of church officers. The officers found in dereliction of duty are known as non vigilant watchdogs and self-seeking, incompetent shepherds; for example:

Isa 56:10-11 . . Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep. They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain.

So; exactly what is the "help of the Holy Spirit". Well; I'd say it's a motivation, to the point of obsession, because i think we can safely assume that God is never half-hearted about His business, viz: a church officer who lacks obsession with his congregation's spiritual welfare should probably not be in a position to influence folks in that way.

353) 2Tim 2:2 . . And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

Paul's instructions were given to Timothy "in the presence of many witnesses" indicating that his instructions were never intended to be privileged information for the eyes-only of an elite category of super saints. The things he taught were transferred publicly rather than deep inside a secret chamber whose access was restricted to a special clique.

I also suspect that Paul sand-bagged Timothy. By instructing him in the hearing of witnesses, Timothy could never fall back on the tiresome old excuse of saying "I didn't know I was supposed to do that." Well, witnesses would certainly testify that he did know what he was supposed to do because they themselves heard Paul instruct him with their own ears.

It's a wise church that fully understands a pastor's duties and responsibilities just in case a time comes when they need to hold his feet to the fire; especially a complacent pastor or one that's gotten mixed up in political activism and civil disobedience. If a church doesn't know what a pastor's sacred obligations are, then there's no way they can know whether or not they're getting their money's worth. In my opinion, an ignorant church is a private pond stocked with hatchery fish.

Paul's directive in this matter was also a practical consideration as nobody resides forever on this earthen globe. Pastors die; that's just a fact of life. And they also get diseases like dementia, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's. It's a wise pastor busy training his replacements so that all his knowledge and experience isn't lost to future church generations. Abraham was commended for this very thing.

Gen 18:18-20 . . For I have chosen Abraham, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of The Lord.

A good example of the result of neglecting to train reliable men in "all the things you have heard me say" is the church of Laodicea described in Rev 3:14-20.

According to Col 2:1-2 and Col 4:13-16; the Laodicean Christians were at one time solid believers. But between the time of Paul's writing his letter to the Colossians, and John writing the 3rd chapter of Revelation, the congregation meeting in Nymphas' home somehow went dark. It was still Christian in name, yes; but it no longer followed Christ.

The Laodicean church had all the trappings of a Christian church; except for one salient feature: the Christ of Christianity wasn't even a member let alone the captain of its industry. It was literally a christless Christian church. He's depicted outside the building banging on the door trying to get somebody's attention to let him in. Not a single member of that church followed him, not one; no, not even the senior pastor.

John 14:23-24 . . If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me.

354) 2Tim 2:3-7 . . Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs— he wants to please his commanding officer.

A soldier's primary responsibility is to accomplish the mission assigned by their commanders. They don't give themselves leave to abandon their posts to go off on their own personal agenda doing other stuff. Desertion and dereliction of duty are courts martial offenses.

These days; successful activism depends to a larger and larger extent upon the participation of evangelical Christians; hence the smart organizers make recruiting them and their ministers a priority; and their numbers typically end up in a poll somewhere; thus activists utilize religion as a sort of stamp of approval for their causes; like the way professional athletes sell their names to endorse NIKE sports apparel.

Political activism and civil disobedience may seem like every Christian citizen's duty when a "worthy cause" comes along; but those causes can be treacherous sirens; leading to a shipwreck of the ministry of a man ordained to serve Jesus Christ.

355) 2Tim 2:8 . . Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel

There are Bible-toting missionaries out there going door to door all over the world teaching that Jesus Christ's crucified dead body wasn't restored to life; they're saying it's still dead, and his remains are squirreled away somewhere on Earth in a condition and a location known only to God.

That is NOT the kind of gospel that Christ wants to hear preached about himself.

Others are adamantly opposed to any ideas that even so much as suggest that Jesus Christ is David's biological progeny. That too is NOT the kind of gospel that Christ wants to hear preached about himself. In point of fact, it is very easy to prove that Jesus Christ is not only David's biological progeny, but Adam's too.

356) 2Tim 2:14 . . Command them in God's name to stop quarrelling over trifles.

I take it that it's okay to discuss trifles, but not okay to get into food fights over them.

In a Sean Connery movie titled "The Name Of The Rose" church dignitaries assembled a meeting of the minds to reach a resolution on a theological question which was: Did the Christ own the clothes that he wore or not?

Well, needless to say, the discussion turned into bickering wherein nothing was resolved. Tempers flared, shouting ensued, feelings were hurt, and people were alienated over the issue— a rather meaningless issue; which is precisely what it means to fiddle while Rome burns down around you.

Christians are often embroiled in arguments over things that in the grand scheme of things have almost zero importance while all around them are weightier matters begging their attention.

It's interesting that Paul didn't want Timothy's flock instructed to avoid quarrelling over trifles, rather, to stop. I can't help but wonder how many Christians think to seek absolution for the sin of quarrelling over trifles when they go to God in prayer.

357) 2Tim 2:15 . . Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Some folks construe rightly dividing the truth as instructions to keep the Old Testament completely separate from the New. But that's not even close to what Paul is instructing.

He was a blue collar tradesman: Paul fabricated portable shelters for a living (Acts 18:3). The Greek word for "rightly dividing" is orthotomeo (or-thot-om-eh'-o) which means: to make a straight cut— as opposed to a crooked cut —or a cut that misses the line and yields a piece of material that's either too long, too short, or the wrong contour; thus resulting in a tent whose pieces won't join properly when it comes time to sew them together. The results? A distorted tent and a black mark for the craftsman.

The intent is not one of severing the Bible in half and treating each as a separate book, nor of breaking the New Testament in two pieces with the gospels in one and the epistles in the other; but to be accurate in the whole's interpretations and applications so that it all fits together perfectly from first to last, like a well made armoire instead of a hastily constructed rabbit hutch.

358) 2Tim 2:16 . . Avoid worldly, empty chatter; for it will lead to further impiety.

The Greek word for "worldly" refers to heathenism, i.e. secular.

What he's talking about there are bull sessions wherein untrained people discussing the Bible haven't a clue what they're talking about; and their perpetual deliberations— consisting of sophistry, conjecture, theory, and personal opinions —never get to the bottom of anything.

Well, truth isn't meant to be learned by means of discussion; it's meant to be learned by instruction, taught by someone especially enabled by God for that purpose. (Eph 4:11-14)

1Cor 12:29 . . Are all teachers?

The answer to that is a great big NO.

Some years ago I was invited to a home Bible study. Before considering his invitation; I asked the man if his group was led by a competent Bible teacher. He said: No; we don't have a teacher. The group teaches itself. In other words: we speak as the Spirit leads us to speak.

They say iron sharpeneth iron. But that doesn't work when both irons are soft; all they end up doing is chafing each other. That's why files are hardened and tempered. Well; that man's group lacked a file, so to speak; so I declined.

NOTE: We're always being pressured by well-meaning ministers to share our faith with the outside world every chance we get. I highly recommend exercising some sanctified common sense in that pursuit lest you get yourself into a discussion with feral brutes whose sole intent is to discredit Christianity.

"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." (Matt 7:6)

Be cautious out there. Gauge the listeners carefully before you speak.

359) 2Tim 2:19 . . Let everyone who names the name of The Lord abstain from wickedness.

The wickedness he's talking about in this particular instance regards unskilled use of the Bible; and sophistry, conjecture, semantic double speak, wild-eyed posits, theories, flimsy science, and lines of spiritual rhetoric that sound very convincing but are nevertheless quite spurious.

360) 2Tim 2:22 . . Flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on The Lord from a pure heart.

The Greek word translated "lusts" is somewhat ambiguous. It can refer to both inordinate longings and legitimate longings. For example; the same word is used at Luke 22:15 referring to Christ's desire for one last Passover dinner with his apostles.

Hippies pursued love and peace but failed because they could obtain neither except by means of promiscuity and mood-enhancing drugs like marijuana and LSD.

A "pure" heart is one that's unadulterated; in other words: it's not an amalgam of good and bad; viz: it's a heart that's whole-heartedly devoted to pleasing God rather than half-hearted.

Righteousness, Love, Peace, and Purity are all blessing-worthy attributes.

Matt 5:6 . . Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

Matt 5:7 . . Blessed are the compassionate

Matt 5:8 . . Blessed are the pure in heart

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peaceable

The Greek word translated "blessed" means fortunate. In other words; people lacking those attributes are deprived; i.e. in a regrettable spiritual condition.

361) 2Tim 2:23 . . Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce debating.

Not all speculation is forbidden; only the kind that's absurd and uneducated.

I seriously doubt that 2Tim 2:23 is addressing one's IQ, but rather, the propensity of some to shoot from the lip without really knowing what they're talking about and/or having the slightest basis for their perspective.

So; if Christians are to refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, then they really ought to avoid spouting their own too.

Anyway, the focus is upon debating which, at its worst, are typically running gun battles, food fights, and/or perpetual bull sessions that never get to the bottom of anything.

Classical debates are quite a bit different. Neither side interrupts the other, nor shouts to be heard, nor strives to get in the last word; rather, opponents take turns to present what they believe to be evidence supporting their argument until there comes a sensible point in the discussion when both sides "rest" which is a legal term for concluding all arguments when neither side has any new evidence to submit.

Sensible discussion is peaceful and orderly whereas running gun battles, food fights, and perpetual bull sessions typically deteriorate into quarreling, anger, frustration, animosity, malice, reciprocity, recriminations, antagonism, and hurt feelings.

Phil 1:27 . . Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

362) 2Tim 2:24a . . The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome

The Greek word translated bond-servant means slave; ether voluntary or involuntary. Bond servants are different than captive slaves. A bond servant is typically someone who's entered into a service agreement without compensation; usually to satisfy a debt.

Although the choice to translate the Greek to indicate a bond servant was probably done so arbitrarily, it fits the Christian concept of one's allegiance to Christ.

As regards quarrelling:

Sometimes it's best to follow Han Solo's advice and "let the Wookie win one". In other words; when one is wise; two are happy. Be the wise one and pick your fights carefully. Don't expend your energies on hot button topics; they'll just lead to anger, frustration, demeaning comments, and flaming remarks.

Especially avoid getting into discussions with obtuse individuals driven by a rather annoying propensity to challenge everything you say simply because they thrive on perpetual debating that never gets to the bottom of anything.

Another thing: Do we really have to be right all the time? People are entitled to a second opinion so let them have one. It's good diplomacy; which can be defined as skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility, i.e. tact.

363) 2Tim 2:24b-26 . . The Lord's servant must . . be kind to all, apt to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them a change of heart leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the Devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

The all in "be kind to all" really should be taken to mean all in Christian congregations rather than all in the world. The reason being, according to Eph 4:11-16, Christ doesn't dispense his servants for the world's benefit, rather, for his body's benefit.

For the above reason; Sunday school teachers need to treat the people in church who oppose them with the same sympathy and consideration as they would patients in a mental hospital who lack the faculties to know what they're doing and/or to think for themselves; hence the instructions to be kind, gentle, and patient because according to the last words in that passage, those folks are entangled in a bit of paranormal activity not easily overcome by argument.

364) 2Tim 3:12-15 . .You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The "sacred writings" upon which Timothy cut his teeth are of course the Old Testament's collection; which Paul affirms is useful to Christians.

Rom 15:4 . .Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction that we, through patience and the encouragement of the scriptures, might have hope.

NOTE: The Greek word for "hope" in that passage is elpis (el-pece') which means: to anticipate (usually with pleasure and confidence). In other words: elpis hope doesn't entail crossing your fingers and praying for the best while in the back of your mind dreading the worst. No; elpis hope entails having something to look forward to with the bold unreserved expectation of obtaining it.

365) 2Tim 4:1-2 . . I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus— who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom —preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Preaching and teaching are areas where pastors must take the reins. They can't wait until their boards take a vote on it. No, the pastor's vote is the only one that counts because left to themselves, congregations (and boards) are just like any other flock of dim-witted sheep: they're prone to wander.

2Tim 4:3-4 . . For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears rubbed, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to fiction.

Once somebody adopts an error for themselves as the God's truth, they like to hear it reinforced, over and over again so they feel good about themselves rather than feeling like a fool for thinking a certain way.

That mindset is very difficult to correct. So, like it's said; the best remedy is prevention; hence the instruction to "preach the word' lest by preaching something else a pastor's congregation gets their heads full of wrong ideas, and from then on they tune out everything that opposes those ideas and/or fails to reinforce them.

366) 2Tim 4:5a . . Be discreet

Webster's defines "discreet" as: using good judgment, caution, and prudence.

Human nature can be so inconsistent. Though most adults have fairly good judgment, they oftentimes do things that are contrary to their better judgment and make foolish choices (especially on Black Friday) because they don't always use their heads but instead yield to their feelings; and everybody knows that one's feelings, by and large, are mostly incoherent.

367) 2Tim 4:5b . . endure hardship

Some of the aspects of hardship are adversity, mischance, misfortune; danger, hazard, peril; affliction, trial, tribulation; drudgery, toil, travail; discomfort, and distress. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are a part of that too. Nobody really cares to sympathize with somebody when they're at the top of the food chain. Pastors comfort others, but who comforts the pastors? Hardly anybody; though maybe his wife; if she's the type.

The lives of Christ's pastors are not supposed to be a piece of cake. If they're doing their jobs in a way that pleases The Lord, pastors will have some struggles. Hardship comes with the turf; it's a given when Christ's pastors serve him faithfully and effectively.

The reason being that a pastor is essentially a shepherd. Well; according to Jacob, that job was a rough career path back in the day.

Gen 31:40 . .Thus I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.

Part of the reason that tending sheep was rough in Jacob's day is because a shepherd was essentially a security guard, constantly keeping an eye out for rustlers and predators. That part alone was a 24-7 task; not to mention monitoring the herd so none of them wandered off; as sheep are prone to do. It's no wonder Jacob lost a lot of sleep outside in the fields; and when you throw in exposure to the elements; a shepherd's life was really not one to be desired.

368) 2Tim 4:5c . . do the work of an evangelist

The Greek word for "evangelist" is euaggelistes (yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace') which means: a preacher of the gospel.

Here in America, we typically think of evangelists as guys like Billy Graham and Louis Palau. But according to Paul, pastors are supposed to be evangelists within the walls of their own churches rather than on the road.

My ex-Catholic wife begged and cajoled her Catholic father to accompany her to a Protestant church back in the 1970's before we met. On that particular Sunday, of all days, the pastor spoke about money; especially giving it to support his church and its programs.

My father-in-law was disgusted, and commented afterwards: Protestants are no different than Catholics; all they care about is money. He never went back. Had that pastor spoken about Christ instead of money, my father-in-law might have returned.

The same goes for tongue services, political activism, and people dancing with rattlesnakes, shouting, shrieking, rolling on the floor and fainting in the aisles. That kind of stuff is entertaining but certainly not conducive to fulfilling Christ's command to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matt 28:18-20)

Sunday morning services are a mission field right here at home. A sharp pastor will make sure that visitors leave his church with a full hour of real gospel preaching to think about.

Paul described pastoral evangelism as: fulfilling their ministry. (2Tim 4:5)

369) Titus 2:2 . . Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.

The Greek word for "older men" is presbutes (pres-boo'-tace) which means: an old man. Presbutes is different than presbuteros, which refers to church officers; e.g. deacons (1Tim 5:17).

I used to get my watches serviced by an aging repairman at a local mall until the day finally came when I could no longer tolerate his manners. He was around seventy-five years old, cantankerous as can be, and perpetually cross. I often felt like asking him if he ever gave any thought to his future. You know, heaven is a place of peace. A hateful man like that repairman would not only never fit in there, but it wouldn't be fair to the others to permit him in their world.

"Cantankerous" can be defined as: habitually ill-humored, irritable, disagreeable, bearish, cankered, cranky, cross-grained, dour, morose, sour; crabby, cross, crusty, huffy, petulant, prickly, snappish; dyspeptic, ill-conditioned, thin-skinned, complaining, and ill-natured.

A Christian man in old age really ought to be a sweet, mellow guy: a pal and a big brother for the younger ones rather than somebody they'd prefer do the world a favor by stepping in front of a bus.

370) Titus 2:3a . . The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness: not traducers,

Traducers are particularly ugly human beings; especially the kind that misrepresent their own friends and say things about them that their friends would never approve; thus needlessly disparaging their friends' reputations save for the pure pleasure of having something to say about somebody.

Traducers aren't regular gossips, no, they're malicious gossips. Webster's defines malice as: a deep-seated, often unexplainable desire to see another suffer. In other words, traducers like to hurt people for no reason other than that it's gratifying.

Titus 2:3b . . not addicted to much wine

A sensible amount of wine isn't forbidden. It's the alcoholic consumption of wine that's a no-no.

One of the problems associated with booze is it's negative effect upon the heavy drinker's judgment, and also the sometimes strange way they interpret reality.

Titus 2:3c-5 . .teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.

Too many young women in America have been trained for marriage by militant feminism. Far from teaching younger women to respect their husbands, feminism teaches the younger women to stand up to their husbands; and rather than be keepers at home, feminism has them out seeking means to compete with men and break the so-called glass ceiling; and rather than love their children, feminism has them dominating their offspring in a home-life society structured on divisions of labor, command and control, tyranny, and regimentation. Those behaviors certainly can never be categorized as honoring the word of God.

The biggest road block to feminism-trained women becoming true disciples is The Lord's gender. You see, at the heart of women's hostility towards men is the drive to resist male supremacy. Yet the very lord and master of Christianity, the supreme male in the universe; demands death to a woman's self interests, and her subordination to His monarchy.

"If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children brothers and sisters— yes, more than your own life. And you cannot be my disciple if you do take up your own cross and follow me." (Luke 14:26)

In The Lord's era, crosses were for executions. So when he told his disciples to "take up their own cross" it meant stifling their own way; viz: it was a call to abandon self interests, and comply with their Master's wishes.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God— this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is— His good, pleasing and perfect will." (Rom 12:1-2)

That mandate runs 180° counter to modern feminism's self-aggrandizing attitude that homemaking is oppressive and demeaning to women, and that respect for one's husband is somehow abusive; which is obviously an attitude that vilifies the word of God instead of honoring it.

Christian marriage and motherhood are not for militant females; no, marriage and motherhood are for grown-up, mature, emotionally stable women; and I'm not talking about years of life; no, even some 35 and 40 year-old women often fall short of being grown-up. Their association with men is on no higher a level now than when they were the 17 year-old, self-absorbed insolent brats they were in high school. Christian women like that seriously need to read, and heed, the guidance offered in the three books recommended below.

For Women Only
By Shaunti Feldhahn
ISBN 1-59052-317-2

The Proper Care And Feeding Of Husbands
By Dr. Laura Schlessinger
ISBN 0-06-052061-2

What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us
By Danielle Crittenden
ISBN 0-684-83219-4
ISBN 0-684-85959-9 (paper back)

371) Titus 2:6 . . Similarly, encourage the young men to be sensible.

Just in case the young women were feeling a bit persecuted; Paul switches over to the guys and urges them to be just as sensible as the girls; in other words: to love their wives, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, and good; that the word of God not be dishonored.

Chastity is getting to be almost non-existent in America as more and more male celebrities engage in extra-marital affairs. Not all that long ago Governor Kitzhaber here in the state of Oregon was shacking up with a woman right in broad daylight in the governor's mansion and cared not what anybody thought about it. Former US President Clinton messed around with women while he was in office, and former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer was discovered to be seeing expensive escorts which eventuated in his resignation. So Christians really can't depend upon America's leaders to set the example for young men.

Paul urged Titus to "encourage" the young men in his church to be sensible; which is quite a bit different than hounding them or getting on their backs. There's an awful lot of young men out there today with metal pinned in their faces and tattoos on their necks, taking ecstasy, smoking pot, joining gangs, using meth, shoplifting, and missing school because the adults in their lives refuse to let them grow up at their own pace.

Many years ago, before I was even interested in having a family of my own, there was a cartoon in the newspaper comics called Rick-O-Shay. Rick was sheriff in a small town out in the olde west. Well, he had a son that was a bit immature and Rick was concerned the boy was never going to amount to anything and he didn't know what to do about it.

So, while he was complaining about his son to his good friend Hipshot Percussion (a local gunfighter) Hipshot interrupted and gave Rick some very good words of wisdom. He said (in so many words): Instead of frettin' about turning your son into someone you can admire, why not instead try and find out who he is and go with that?

Relentless criticism and ridicule, unreasonable expectations, zero sympathy, and disapproving everything they think, say, or do are the surest ways I know to ruin a young man's attitude and drive him far, far from home and from their parent's religion.

372) Titus 2:7-8 . . In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that those who oppose us may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say.

Young men today desperately need morally sound, grown-up role models because you can't just disapprove their life-style and not show them an alternative; and the best way to do that is by your own example; viz: instead of preaching to youngsters with words; preach to them with your lifestyle.

NOTE: It's very important for church officers to practice what they preach because conduct unbecoming reflects on Christ. (cf. 2Sam 12:14)

373) Titus 2:9-10a . . Bond slaves are to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering;

A bond slave is someone who has sold themselves into slavery for any number of reasons. But the one aspect I would like to dwell on is pilfering because this is a serious problem for employers here in the USA.

The Greek word for "pilfering" is nosphizomai (nos-fid'-zom-ahee) which means to squirrel something aside for one's self: viz: embezzle; which Webster's defines as: to appropriate (as property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use.

Embezzling isn't limited to strictly stealing money; no, it's also the misuse of an employer's property such as company cars, office materials and office equipment, and/or shop materials and shop equipment; including water and electricity.

My last job before retiring was as a civilian employee with the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Portland Oregon district. It was a violation of Federal law for us to even take anything out of a dumpster, or use a battery charger to jump-start our cars, or even to so much as pump up a low tire on our cars with the air produced by a government air compressor. We were definitely not supposed to use the government's computers for surfing the web or composing personal e-mails.

Everything on the facility where I worked was US Government property, including the trash, and could not be used in an unofficial capacity without first obtaining special permission. Violators were subject to prosecution for Fraud, Waste, and Abuse.

Unofficial use of office computers alone is costing employers multiplied thousands of hours of wages and benefits paid to employees who are online during the work day for personal reasons. The most outrageous case I heard of at work was a lady downtown in the district office who was caught conducting her Mary Kay cosmetics business via a US Government computer; and on official time no less.

Those are examples of things from which Christ's followers are ordered to cease and desist.

374) Titus 2:10b . . but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our savior in every respect.

The Greek word for "adorn" is kosmeo (kos-meh'-o) which means: to put in proper order; viz: decorate

When women buy a pretty new dress, they usually get things to go with it; things we call accessories; like a purse, shoes, stockings, necklace, earrings, and/or a watch and a bracelet. In the old days, women usually bought some gloves to go with their new dress too— thus they create an "ensemble" which gives them a complete look rather than an unfinished look as if they just threw the dress on to work around the house or run down to a nearby convenience store.

Well, a Christian who's a Christian in label only is like a pretty dress without accessories. In point of fact, they are quite basic: just a house-dress Christian. In other words; religion without piety is like leaving the house for work in the morning half dressed.

NOTE: This touches on the very thing that hampered Cain's association with God. Cain had religion, that much is evident (Gen 4:3) but he didn't have piety. That much is evident too (Gen 4:7). In other words: Cain had a faith, but it wasn't an "all good faith" like his brother's.

375) Titus 2:15 . . These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

I'm pretty sure this doesn't mean that pastors should speak with a bullying, imperialistic, intimidating tone of voice. Pastors, after all, are supposed to be shepherds rather than a bull o' the woods bossing a logging crew; so to speak.

The Greek word for "disregard" is periphroneo (per-ee-fron-eh'-o) which basically means to depreciate; viz: to marginalize. i.e. to consider superfluous, expendable, and/or nonessential.

Once a minister has been made to feel that he's weak and ineffective and/or that in the grand scheme of things he doesn't really matter; then for sure he'll lose heart in his vocation and likely won't give it his best effort. The ministers with whom I've been in contact over the years all agree that one of their most difficult personal obstacles to overcome is discouragement.

376) Titus 3:1 . . Remind your people to submit to the government and its officials. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.

A popular form of anarchy here in the USA is something called civil disobedience-- defined as the active, professed refusal of a citizen to obey certain laws of the state, and/or demands, orders, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power; i.e. non compliance with constituted law and order.

Henry David Thoreau insisted that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice.

At first glance, Thoreau's ideas makes good sense. However; it's important to take into account that Thoreau was a secular humanist indifferent to the dictates of a supreme being whose commandments, laws, rules, statutes, and edicts trump all other forms of control.

Self-rule in accord with one's conscience got its start in the garden of Eden.

Gen 3:22 . .Then the Lord God said: Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.

Unfortunately the conscience that Adam obtained via tasting the forbidden fruit transformed himself into a deity guided by its intuition instead taking directions from his maker.

Self-rule was the primary form of government during the Judges' era of spiritual decadence in the land of Israel.

Judg 17:6 . . In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

377) Titus 3:2 . . malign no one, be non-contentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

The Greek word for "malign" is blasphemeo (blas-fay-meh'-o) which means: to vilify, defined by Webster's as: to lower in estimation or importance, and/or to utter abusive statements against. In other words; blasphemeo is talking about tearing someone down and changing people's impression of them; mostly for the worse. There's a lot of that goes on in the world of politics.

It probably goes without saying that the kind of vilification were talking about here is mean-spirited and unwarranted. For example; is it tearing a Ponzi scheme mogul like Bernie Madoff down to say that he's a louse of marginal integrity who can't be trusted with other people's money? No; the man has been proven to be exactly that.

"non-contentious" refers to peaceable; i.e. not ready to fight at the drop of a hat.

"gentle" actually means mild, i.e. temperate: exercising self restraint; viz: controlling one's impulses.

"showing every consideration" is simply making an effort to avoid hurting people's feelings for no good reason. This no doubt includes common courtesy along with keeping a civil tongue in one's head.

378) Titus 3:8 . .This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds.

To "speak confidently" implies speaking with an assertive, "no buts" attitude; viz: the things a preacher teaches his congregation should not be open to debate and/or perpetual bull sessions that never get to the bottom of anything.

The Greek word for "deeds" is very common throughout the New Testament; more often translated "works" than deeds. We're not talking about Boy Scout kinds of deeds but just simply the spiritual morality of one's day to day conduct; viz: a life that pleases God instead of one that irritates Him to no end.

Eph 4:30 . . Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

379) Titus 3:9 . . Shun foolish controversies, and genealogies, and strife, and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless.

The "law" in question is the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God in the Old Testament. Disputes generally revolve around its interpretation and its correct application. The Lord stipulated the formation of a panel of lawyers to interpret the law for those among His people who lacked the wherewithal to do it for themselves (Deut 17:8-13).

But since Christians are outside the covenant's jurisdiction, then they can get by without those lawyers to interpret it for them; and besides; when you consider there are nine Justices on the US Supreme Court who seldom agree unanimously on anything, how much chance do you reckon a panel of seventy has of reaching a consensus?

One of the "foolish controversies and genealogies" I would highly recommend that believers avoid is Rome's roster of so-called apostolic successors. Don't even go there. It's unprofitable, futile, and pointless to strive over something like that. Pick your battles, and make sure your conflicts accomplish something truly useful for Christ. And besides; the Vatican has much bigger problems within its walls and its dogmas than that one.

380) Titus 3:10-11 . . A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

The Greek word for "heretic" is hairetikos (hahee-ret-ee-kos') which means: a schismatic; which is someone in your very own church who causes dissent, rebellion, division, discord, and disharmony.

Webster's defines a heretic as: 1) a dissenter from established church dogma; especially one who disavows a revealed truth, and 2) one who dissents from an accepted belief or doctrine; viz: a nonconformist.

My wife and I are former Catholics turned Protestant. However, we don't fit the definition of a heretic. We're what's known in Christian circles as apostates; viz: defectors; which Webster's defines as people who forsake one's cause, party, or nation for another often because of a change in ideology.

Heretics don't usually defect; but remain inside to foster insurrection: to undermine hierarchy, to bring about reform, to weaken unity, and to cause division. Every church has its fair share of heretics and they can be very disruptive in a Sunday school class.

The Greek word for "reject" is paraiteomai (par-ahee-teh'-om-ahee) which means: to beg off; viz: deprecate, decline, and shun. In other words, don't give heretics the time of day, i.e. don't engage them in discussions related to resisting your church's leadership, its management practices, and/or its curriculum.

Some religions, e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses, practice total shunning; viz: not only in church, but outside too; even in homes and families. That's pretty extreme and I really don't think Paul means we should go that far with it; instead limit our shunning to matters related to church life rather than regular life.

NOTE: Heresy is oftentimes subjective. In other words: what's heresy to a Catholic may not be heresy to a Methodist, and vice versa. And what's heresy to a Mormon may not be heresy to a Jehovah's Witness, and vice versa. And what's heresy to a Baptist may not be heresy to the Church Of God, and vice versa. So my advice is: never, ever call another Christian a heretic.

Many of us would be wise to limit the heretic label to divisive folks within our own particular denominations, viz: be circumspect with your choice of words lest the hapless day arrive when you are forced to eat them.

It ain't what you know that gets you into trouble.
It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
— Mark Twain —

381) Titus 3:13-14 . . Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos with their trip. See that they are given everything they need. For our people should not have unproductive lives. They must learn to do good by helping others who have urgent needs.

Zenas and Apollos of course passed on long ago, but Paul's instructions are applicable to missionaries in any era.

"urgent needs" implies necessities; e.g. food, water, shelter, companionship, assistance, medical attention, etc.

"our people" excludes congregational heretics who, by their very nature, are essentially a malignant rather than benevolent.



384) Heb 2:1-4 . .We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by The Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.

NOTE: The pronoun "we" probably refers specifically to Jews because, in essence, that's to whom, and for whom, the letter was penned. (Heb 1:1-2)

I don't think the words "drift away" imply apostasy; not in this case anyway. No; it's more like a curious crowd that gathers around a soap box speaker, and little by little, man by man, boredom sets in— the audience begins dispersing and people move on to find something else to do. That would be akin to attending a Billy Graham crusade for its entertainment, and a month later totally forgetting everything he talked about.

BTW: The passage above mentions angels. Stephen verified that Moses received the Law at the hands of angels (Acts 7:53) but if you go back and read that story, you won't find any celestial beings in the picture other than Jehovah and that's because the Hebrew word for angels doesn't always speak of personages. Sometimes it speaks of apparitions; for example: smoke, fire, earthquakes, thundering, and loud horns. (Ex 19:10-20, Ex 20:18, Heb 12:18-21)

385) Heb 3:1 . .Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and High Priest whom we acknowledge: Christ Jesus

The "holy brethren" are Moses' people as per Deut 14:2 and Ps 135:4; and the "heavenly calling" very likely refers to the nation that God promised to make of Abraham as per Gen 12:1-2, Gen 13:14-16, and Gen 22:16-18.

The Greek word for "consider" is katanoeo (kat-an-o-eh'-o) which means: to observe fully; viz: to study; to examine.

You know, giving Christ a cursory glance as if he were a curiosity or a brief distraction leads nowhere. His purpose and his mission are just too extensive for that sort of once-over approach.

386) Heb 3:7-11 . . So, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried Me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said: Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways. So I declared on oath in My anger; they shall never enter My rest.

That's a quote from Psalm 95; which pertains to Moses' people whom The Lord rescued from Egyptian slavery. No doubt there are lots of modern Jews who would say: Had I been out there with Moses in the desert, I would have obeyed God and entered the promised land when The Lord said to the first time. Sure, sure, it's easy to be obedient in hindsight sans the added handicap of peer pressure. But where's the average Jew today? The majority are hiloni (secular). And if you were to take a poll of the more than twelve million Jews resident on today's Earth, how many would you find who have ever even one time read Psalm 95?

In point of fact, the generation that followed Joshua into Canaan didn't get rest; no, they got warfare; years of it. And instead of obtaining a permanent state of peace and prosperity, they wound up getting oppression, slavery, poverty, environmental disasters, plagues, defeat, and dispersal.

Heb 4:8-9 . . For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. There remains therefore a rest to the people of God.

I'm going to deliberately misquote that last sentence like this:

"There is another rest for the people of God."

No, it doesn't say "another" rest; it's the same rest, the one they failed to obtain the first time; viz: it's been on hold all these many long years; and observers only need look at the state of that country today to easily perceive that Moses' people have yet to obtain rest of any kind: either politically, environmentally, or economically.

387) Heb 3:12-13 . . Take heed, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But implore one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

That's a call to theocratic unity; Jewish theocratic unity. But good luck getting the Jews to rally around The Lord. Oh well, the author was duty-bound to try; as all the prophets before him in the past were duty-bound to try; usually to no avail.

Heb 3:16-19 . .Who were they who heard and rebelled? Was it not all those whom Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was The Lord angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So then, we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Belief is not only consent to a statement's truthfulness. No, Bible belief contains the element of trust; the absence of which led to the Jews' downfall in the Sinai. God told them to attack Palestine, but they didn't believe they were strong enough to do it. Well, that part was true; they weren't. However, The Lord promised to be on their side. That part was true too, and had they been as convinced of that second part as strongly as they were the first, they would have been okay.

But alas, they failed to rely upon The Lord as a man of His word; and subsequently, they missed out on their one and only opportunity to enter an era of peace, prosperity, and providence.

388) Heb 4:1-2 . .Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had the gospel preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it wasn't mixed with faith in those who heard.

When reading the Bible; it's always important to pay strict attention to language, grammar, and syntax. In this passage we're looking at, the pronouns us, you, we, they, and those don't refer to Gentiles; no, not at all. They refer to the author's fellow Jewish countrymen. This is, after all, a letter to Hebrews, not to the world.

The "gospel" spoken of in this instance is a concise version of the message with which most Christians are familiar, and its focus was mainly upon the kingdom of God rather than the grace of God. (e.g. Matt 4:23, Mark 1:14-15). The Jews' homeland would've been the center of the kingdom of God back then just as it will be in the future. In other words: the kingdom of God has been offered to the Jews at least twice already— once by Moses and once by Jesus —and will be offered to them yet a third time in the future. But I rather suspect that next time the Jews won't have a say in the matter.

Jews are now in an era sometimes called the church age; which is an open-season opportunity for them to at least enroll in the kingdom as its future citizens. (Col 1:13)

Heb 4:6-7 . . It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later He spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts."

389) Heb 4:11 . . Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disbelief.

The "fall" in that instance refers to the failure of Moses' people to enter the kingdom's land when they were given the opportunity; which was indeed a very brief open season.

390) Heb 4:14 . . Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us cling to what we acknowledge

Prior to Christ, the closest proximity that Moses' people had to God was their Aaonic priest. But even he was earth-bound and his own closest proximity to the actual person of God was the holy place in either the tabernacle or the Temple.

One of the advantages of Christ's priesthood is his immortality; in other words: The Lord continues as a priest forever because he rose from the dead impervious to death. Aaron and his sons were not so lucky.

Rom 6:9 . . Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

Heb 7:23-25 . . Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But he, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

391) Heb 4:14-16 . .Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

The Greek word translated "confidence" is parrhesia (par-rhay-see'-ah) which means all out-spokenness, i.e. frank, blunt, and/or candid.

A recited prayer-- especially rote repetition --is neither frank, nor blunt, nor candid.

Take the Old Testament's luminaries for example. Their one-on-one prayers with God were typically conversational and to the point.

NOTE: Jesus is depicted as a high priest in the above passage. Those are chosen from among men rather than celestial beings because it's necessary that mediators between God and Man-- e.g. Aaron -- be someone who can relate to their constituents.

It's much to everyone's advantage to be represented before God by a fellow man rather a divine being because the gods don't know what it's like to live in this world as an h.sapiens. Guys like Jesus and Aaron know because they've been down this road of ours. (Heb 5:1-10)

392) Heb 6:1-3 . . Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

At this point in the letter to Hebrews, the author begins talking to Jews about a high priest named Melchizedek back in Abraham's day.

Mel is largely ignored on internet forums; which is really a shame due to the fact that his priesthood, and its constituents, are outside the jurisdiction of the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy because the laws of God are not retroactive (Deut 5:2-3 & Gal 3:17) which is just the thing Jews need because they are in constant danger of prosecution for even the tiniest of infractions; most especially for willful sins, viz: acts committed by folks who know very well that what they are doing is forbidden.

Num 15:30-31 . . But the person, be he citizen or stranger, who acts defiantly reviles the Lord; that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has spurned the word of the Lord and violated His commandment, that person shall be cut off-- he bears his guilt.

Deut 27:26 . .Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.

393) Heb 10:21-22 . . Since we have a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience

The Greek word translated "guilty" is okay as far is it goes, but what it really means is condemned, i.e. rejected, defective, unacceptable, disqualified.

This goes all the way back to the forbidden-fruit incident where it's said: "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:22)

The man didn't become one of them, rather, he became "like" one of them, i.e. supreme in his own mind, viz: the man became independent and self-reliant.

For example: upon tasting the forbidden fruit, Adam immediately perceived that full frontal nudity is indecent. Well, his creator hadn't said a word about decency; Adam came to a decision about it on his own, viz: a dress code was something Adam felt proper rather than something he was instructed.

Sprinkling was a common ritual in the Old Testament-- sometimes with water, sometimes with oil, and sometimes with blood --for example: Ex 29:16, Ex 29:21, Lev 14:7, Lev 14 16, and Num 8:7, et al.

Sprinkling typically serves to sanitize things in order to make them suitable for God's purposes; and some sprinklings are only good for the moment, requiring additional sprinklings from time to time. The sprinkling spoken of herein is a one-time sprinkling that never needs repeating. (Heb 10:1-14)

394) Heb 10:23 . . Let us cling to the acknowledgment of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised)

"He is faithful" could also be said "He is unwavering"

One can scarcely blame the author's Hebrew audience for wondering if perchance they're making a really big mistake dumping the covenant that Moses' people made with God as per Deut 29:9-15. A lot is at stake.

For one thing, the covenant is their sacred heritage and their cultural identity; and for another, the covenant is a contract that obligates God to lower the boom on His people with some pretty severe penalties for breaching it: they're all on file at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69. When Hebrews convert to Christianity, they have to wonder if maybe they're stepping off into an abyss from whence there is no return.

But the reality is: they have nothing to lose by taking that step because the original covenant provides neither forgiveness nor atonement for willful sins; which can be defined as deeds committed by someone knowing beforehand that what they were about to do is wrong.

"The priest shall atone for the erring soul which sinned inadvertently before The Lord, so as to atone on his behalf, and it shall be forgiven him. One law shall apply to anyone who sins inadvertently from the native born of the children of Israel and the proselyte who resides among them.

. . . But if a person should act highhandedly, whether he is a native born or a proselyte, he is blaspheming The Lord, and that soul shall be cut off from among its people. For he has scorned the word of The Lord and violated His commandment; that soul shall be utterly cut off; for its iniquity is upon it." (Num 12:28-31, cf. Heb 10:26)

I'm pretty sure it was Num 12:28-31 that Paul had in mind when he informed his Jewish countrymen "through Jesus everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the law of Moses" (Acts 13:39)

One of the more common willful sins is dishonesty. Everybody knows it's wrong but go about it anyway. Well; dishonesty is forbidden by the original covenant.

"You shall not lie, one man to his fellow." (Lev 19:11)

So then, when a Torah-trained Jew tells a lie; they act highhandedly; viz: they commit a willful sin for which the original covenant provides neither forgiveness nor atonement. That Jew is a scofflaw and in desperate need of a safety net.

"Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them." (Deut 27:26)

395) Heb 10:24 . . And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Man is a species of life that is quite naturally, and comfortably, inclined to provoke and annoy each other and bring out the worst in their fellow men. It is Christ's expectations that his own make an effort to do just the opposite; viz: bring out the best in each other.

396) Heb 10:25 . . Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another

There are secret believers who avoid being seen with Christians so they'll not be identified with them, i.e. they're ashamed and embarrassed of their trust in Christ; especially when Christians are portrayed in one's community as kooks and extremists.

For example: one day at work one of the guys overheard women in the office talking about me as a Jesus Freak; which was a common expression back in the late 60s and early 70s. That would've never happened had I kept my religion a secret; but of course we dare not.

Mark 8:38 . . If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.

Do any of us relish the thought of Jesus looking at us the way he looked at Peter on the night of his arrest?

1Pet 4:16 . . If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.


398) Heb 10:35-36 . .Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of perseverance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

The kind of perseverance the author is talking about is not the dogged determination of US Navy SEALS; which are a group of military guys who absolutely refuse to be beaten at anything you might name. If SEALS were to play hop-scotch it would turn violent.

I would liken the kind of perseverance in mind here as that of a farmer. The hard rock band ACDC says it's a long ways to the top if you wanna rock and roll. Well, farmers have a long ways to harvest if they wanna make it to market. First they have to till the soil, then rake it, then plant seeds, then wait on mother nature to irrigate them with rain, then they have to wait more yet for their crops to grow to maturity before harvesting.

Farmers look forward to their harvests; they anticipate them otherwise who would plow, rake, and plant if there were nothing to expect later on down the road?

That kind of perseverance anticipates a benefit. Webster's defines anticipate as: to look forward to as certain; viz: to expect. As a rule, farmers don't begin the planting season expecting their fields to produce nothing. No, they plan on going to market because they expect to see crops in the fields at harvest time. It would be a very strange farmer indeed who looked forward to the ravages of drought, disease, and insect plagues every year.

399) Heb 12:1 . .Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses all around us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

The comparison is made to sporting events— e.g. baseball, football, track and field, hockey, basketball, etc —where the audience is basically seated in a circle or an oval watching the games.

The term "cloud" was apparently an ancient colloquialism simply referring to large numbers of just about anything. Compare Gen 15:5 where "stars" are a term for the same purpose.

I don't think the audience in this instance pertains to the spirits of deceased saints, rather, the ordinary people all around us in our daily lives. The moment someone comes out as a Christian, then kibitzers, fault-finders and blood-thirsty skeptics and critics start watching their every move for opportunities to boo tand/or destroy their credibility.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a candle, and put it under a bowl, but on a lamp stand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:14-16)

I don't know exactly how the world glorifies God when it sees Christians putting their religion into practice; but I'm pretty sure the world has nothing but disgust for a hypocrite's religion. (cf. 2Sam 2:14)

400) Heb 12:3-4 . . For consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin

I'm pretty sure the "sin' spoken of in that passage encompasses a whole lot more than merely something of your own; it's the entire sphere of evil in this world.

The Jews to whom the author wrote must have had it pretty good because it was only a matter of time before Christians were targets for arrows, swords, lances, pyres, and the teeth of beasts in the coliseum at Rome. Even today, it is very dangerous to be a Christian in Muslim countries.

Saturday, August 03, 2009, a frenzied mob of 3,000 Muslims stormed the tiny Pakistani Christian village of Gojra. Enflamed by (unconfirmed) charges that a Christian had incinerated pages of the Koran, the mob burned down fifty homes, cremated eight Christians alive, and wounded twenty others. Thousands of Christians fled the area.

* The spread of communism is hampered by Christian beliefs, scruples, and virtues. Hence it is to communism's advantage to infiltrate Christian churches; to subtly indoctrinate them with communist propaganda, to subvert religion, weaken and/or destroy people's reliance on God, corrupt their morals, and suppress the faithful who believe in God. This approach can be just as effective in bringing a country down as bombs and bullets.

If you're in a church that supports Black Lives Matter, approves of intimate sex education for young children, defends transgender and non binary, prefers political discussion rather than Bible instruction, and/or approves Critical Race Theory; I would urge you to seriously consider escaping that church as you would a burning building.

401) Heb 12:5-6 . . My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.

Christians have to expect that God is going to find fault with their lives from time to time, and take appropriate steps to correct it. So be very cautious about cursing your luck because it just might be the hand of God at work rather than one of the Fates.

402) Heb 12:7-11 . . If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

. . . Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.

. . . Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Child training is quite a bit different than child abuse; training builds character, while abuse breaks the spirit.

NOTE: Seeing as how most of us lack a red phone line to Heaven's front desk; there's really no way to know for sure when God is chastening us or if life in general is just being its usual unpleasant self. That being the case I suggest we reckon all unpleasantness to be providential in one way or another; and follow job's example.

Job 1:22 . . In all this Job did not sin, nor charge God with wrong.

403) Heb 12:12-13 . .Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak, and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

That almost sounds like physical therapy; which of course it is. When I had one of my knees replaced, the therapist had to teach me how to walk all over again-- how to walk properly because with the bad knee, I couldn't; and that had gone on for more than a decade. And not only that, but the leg with the bad knee had become feeble because I favored the other and wasn't using the bad one to full advantage. So a large percentage of my therapy involved getting that game leg strong again by means of an exercise regimen.

The Greek word translated "straight" is orthos (or-thos') which doesn't necessarily define the shortest distance between two points. It can also mean smooth and level; in other words: free of tripping hazards; which someone undergoing treatment for a joint problem (e.g. hips, knees, and ankles) has to really watch out for. In other words: an orthos path is a therapeutic path-- in this case in respect of one's spiritual conditioning rather than their physical conditioning.

Compare Heb 5:12-14 where it says, in so many words: that children don't arrive from the womb intuitively knowing what people eat. It's only by instruction and experience that they learn which things are safe for human consumption and which things are not, viz: which things are nourishing, and which things will make them sick. By gradually introducing them to a variety of foods, parents train their growing children to recognize good stuff when they see it so that in time they will know on their own what's edible and what's not without having to be babied all the time.

404) Heb 12:14a . . Pursue peace with all men,

The Geek word for "peace" is eirene (i-ray'-nay) and means not only a lack of strife, but also the presence of prosperity; which implies always seeking the good of others rather than only your own.

People of peace are in an advantaged category.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

That looks ahead to a day when peace will be highly valued, and much to be preferred over aggression. In that day; truly peaceable folk will be widely, and commonly, known as children of God-- for now, they aren't: no, for now they're known by other labels; some neither civil nor courteous.

"For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him: for He seeth that His day is coming." (Ps 37:10-1 cf. Ps 2:1-12)

405) Heb 12:14b . . Pursue holiness, without which no one will see The Lord.

The Greek word translated "pursue" is sometimes translated persecute; which implies persistence, doggedness, and/or stalking, i.e. determination.

The Greek word translated "holiness" basically refers to purity; defined by Webster's as chastity, innocence, modesty; i.e. goodness, righteousness, virtue, morality, decency, decorum, and propriety.

The same Greek word is sometimes translated "sanctification" which is supposed to be a work in progress involving not only the hand of God, but also one's own hand. (Rom 6:19, 1Thess 4:4, and 1Tim 2:15)

The word "see" is somewhat ambiguous. It can relate to physical eyesight and it can also relate to mental perception. I'm inclined to believe it's related to mental perception in this case.

As an allegory: at one time I had cataracts in both eyes. As a result, my vision was really blurry because the cataracts scattered light, thus preventing the natural lenses in my eyes from bringing things into sharp focus. After surgery to replace the natural lenses with artificial lenses, I can now see sharply; i.e. my vision's clarity was greatly improved and I'm able to notice details that were virtually invisible before.

In other words; people with no interest in pursuing holiness lack clarity; i.e. their perception of The Lord is fuzzy at best because there are details in view that they are unable to make out due to their mind's mental cataracts, so to speak.

John 14:21 . . .Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.

406) Heb 12:15a . . See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God

The Greek word translated "comes short" also means destitute; defined by Webster's as lacking possessions and resources; especially suffering extreme poverty.

I think it's pretty much a given that there are always going to be members in every congregation that are spiritually destitute. The idea here is that their spiritual destitution not be due to negligence.

In other words, the spiritual element in congregations should take it upon themselves to make an effort to assist the non spiritual element to at least know how to obtain the grace of God, i.e. congregations are responsible to police themselves, so to speak, rather than leave this aspect of the Christian way of life entirely up to church staffs.

The answer to Cain's question "Am I my brother's keeper?" was NO to his way of thinking, but it's supposed to be YES to the spiritual Christian's way of thinking.

407) Heb 12:15b . . See to it that no root of a bitter plant, sprouting up, causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

The Greek word for "defiled" means to taint, sully, and/or contaminate.

Seeing as how this epistle is addressed to Hebrews, then I think we're pretty safe to assume that the "root of a bitter plant" likely refers to Deut 29:18-19 which reads thus:

"Make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison. When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks: I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way."

Why those kinds of people even bother coming to church is a bit of a mystery seeing as how they have no intention whatsoever to either exemplify and/or implement Christ's teachings. As far as they're concerned, Jesus should mind his own business and stop trying to meddle in their affairs. Such folk aren't harmless, no, they are quite pernicious.

Moses warned in the 29th chapter that toxic people can lead a country to ruin. Well, the lesson here is obvious: bitter plants can lead a church to ruin; and if allowed to become pervasive, will be difficult to eradicate.

408) Heb 12:16-17 . . that there be no immoral or secular person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

Webster's defines "secular" as not overtly or specifically religious, viz: irreverent, which can be roughly defined as having little or no respect for sacred things.

Esau is a good example of the limits of God's patience. Another example is located at 1Cor 11:27-30

I think it's nigh unto impossible to fix all the secular people attending churches, but at least they can be warned of the consequences so they don't go around with the false assumption that God is flexible with their behavior. Same goes for the immoral people.

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong;
Gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
(Thomas Paine)

NOTE: In a nutshell: items No.407 and No.408 speak of culling unacceptable livestock from the herd (so to speak) and ideally in a spirit of regret rather than militancy.

When God came to the point where it was necessary to destroy much of the human life that He brought into existence; He expressed regret for even creating human life in the first place.

I would suggest following His example when complying with Heb 12:15-17. In other words: do so with sympathy, with reluctance, and with regret; rather than like a barracuda.

409) Heb 12:25-26 . . See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on Mt. Sinai, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying: Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.

"Him who spoke on Mt. Sinai" was an angel of the Lord rather than God in person. (Acts 7:53) In point of fact, Jesus said that the Jews had neither heard God's voice nor seen his shape. (John 5:37)

The voice of the angel of the Lord was audible; but the voice that shook the mountain was inaudible-- it's quite possibly the self-same voice that did all that work of creation beginning with Genesis 1:3.

In contrast Jesus wasn't an angel, nor did he speak for God as a run of the mill holy man; rather, Jesus spoke as the embodied voice of God. (John 1:1 3, John 1:14 & Heb 1:1-2) and though we today only have Jesus' words in print form, they are just as serious as his voice in human form because Jesus' recorded words were spoken as God's voice rather than speaking for God like the prophets once did.

"Yet once more" indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:27-29)

The "kingdom that cannot be shaken" is very likely a reference to Dan 7:9- -22.

It's not uncommon for people to ask: What is grace? Well; you're likely to hear any number of definitions; but quite few of grace's aspects are touched upon in the letter to Hebrews, e.g. concern for the welfare of others, generosity, morals, marital fidelity, clean speech, maturity, gratitude, and a sensible attitude towards wealth. Those aspects easily qualify as serving God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

What is reverence and godly fear? Well, a rough-hewn definition is: having a high enough opinion of God's core values to adopt them for your own and put them into practice. (Eph 5:1)

410) Heb 13:1 . . Let brotherly love continue.

The Greek word for "brotherly love" in that passage is philadelphia (fil-ad-el fee'-ah) which refers to fraternal affection. Philadelphia is different than the neighborly love required by Matt 19:19 and Matt 22:37-40.

The Greek word for "love" in those passages is agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o) which doesn't necessarily contain the element of affection; rather, it's an impersonal kind of love exemplified in behaviors like courtesy, kindness, sympathy, civility, good will, deference, and consideration. In other words, you don't have to be especially fond of your neighbor in order to comply with Matt 19:19 and Matt 22:37-40. (cf. Matt 5:43-48)

Philadelphia love is difficult because it requires the involvement of one's affections, viz: one's feelings rather than only their manners. A really good example is located at John 16:27 where Jesus stated:

"The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God."

For those of us who grew up deprived of love; that passage is nigh unto impossible to believe that God is actually, and truly, fond of us in any way at all.

1John 3:1 . . Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God

The manner of love that a normal father feels for his own children is far more sensitive, than the love he might feel for his neighbor's children. A normal father's love for his own children is down in his gut, viz: his affections.

There's no fondness expressed in passages like John 3:16; which speaks of benevolence but not necessarily fondness and affection. God cares for the world, yes, but that doesn't mean that He likes the world. In point of fact, God quite despises the world; it disgusts Him and He'd really like for the world to give Him reason to improve His opinion.

411) Heb 13:2 . . Do not neglect to be hospitable with strangers; for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Artists generally depict angels as heavenly creatures with wings and/or aglow with some sort of ethereal light. But the Greek word doesn't always indicate celestial beings, rather, it refers to all manner of messengers, e.g. prophets (Matt 11:10), delegates (Luke 7:24), fire (Heb 1:7), ecclesiastic authorities (Rev 1:20-3:14), visions (Rev 22:16), and even acts of God like fire, wind, smoke, voices, and earthquakes. (Acts 7:53)

Webster's defines "hospitable" as: given to generous and cordial reception of guests, promising or suggesting generous and friendly welcome, offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.

Inviting strangers into one's own home could easily result in the murder of your entire family, along with the theft of your belongings. So, I'm thinking Heb 13:2 is not saying that; rather, it's talking about congregational homes; viz: churches.

I think it's very important to make non members— visitors —feel at home in your church: make them feel welcome to return. Not only is that the neighborly thing to do, but you just never know if that next stranger through the door was guided there by providence, and selected by God for a special purpose.

412) Heb 13:3 . . Remember prisoners, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

The prisoners mentioned are not just any jailbird in lock-up; but rather, it's limited to those who are "in the body" viz: in Christ.

Eph 5:30-32 . .We are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church.

1Cor 12:12-13 . . For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body

The tenor of the command is, I think, restricted to Christians mistreated and/or confined for their religious beliefs and practices rather than actual crimes. There's a lot of that sort of thing going on today in Muslim countries. America is well-known for its religious tolerance; other countries, not so much.

413) Heb 13:4 . . Let marriages be highly valued: and the bed kept unsoiled; for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

There's a popular song going around with these words:

You don't own me,
I'm not just one of your many toys.
You don't own me,
Don't say I can't go with other boys.

The lyrics of that song— originally recorded by Lesley Gore in 1963 —depict a defiant girl standing up to a possessive boyfriend. Well; those lyrics may be true for temporary lovers; but are very contrary to God's thinking when it comes to marriage.

There is no Hebrew word for either husband or wife in the Old Testament. No, the English words for husband and wife are derived from the presence of gender-sensitive possessive pronouns; viz: her and his.

Gen 2:24 . . Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

The Hebrew word for "wife" in that passage is 'ishshah (ish-shaw') which just simply indicates a female; regardless of age. The possessive pronoun "his" makes the 'ishshah somebody's wife. i.e. his woman.

It's the same both ways:

Gen 3:6 . . And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The Hebrew word for "husband" in that verse is 'enowsh (en-oshe') which just simply indicates a mortal; viz: a guy, a male; regardless of age. The possessive pronoun "her" makes the 'enowsh somebody's husband, i.e. her man.

So the principle of possession is a key element in marriage; ergo: adulterers have no right to share their bodies with lovers outside marriage without their spouse's full knowledge and consent.

1Cor 7:4 . . The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife.

414) Heb 13:5a . . Let your conduct be without covetousness;

Not all covetousness is prohibited; for example 1Cor 12:31 where Christians are exhorted to eagerly desire certain spiritual gifts.

The Greek word in this instance refers to avarice; defined by Webster's as excessive, or insatiable, desire for wealth or gain; viz: greediness and cupidity.

Were an avaricious person asked how much and/or how many it would take to satisfy them; their answer would no doubt be "more" because it's in their nature to grasp.

415) Heb 13:5b . . and be content with such things as ye have.

Since the writer connected this directive with avarice, I would have to say his focus in this verse is on moderation; defined by Webster's as reasonable limits and/or average; viz: avoiding extremes.

Heb 13:5-6 . . He himself has said: I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can Man do to me?

Well, I should think thwarted domestic oil production, extravagant Federal spending, runaway inflation, politicized business practices, the cancel culture, lock-downs, a foreign collusion hoax, election fraud, insane immigration policies, falsified science, a compromised Food and Drug Administration, a Gestapo-style FBI, outlawing perfectly safe and useful medications, creeping Socialism, Critical Race Theory, suppressing second opinions, denying treatment, mandatory inoculations with experimental vaccines, and perpetual masking easily demonstrate that even if Man can't hurt me, he can certainly make a nuisance of himself.

* I lost an appreciable amount from my retirement account back in 2008 when the housing bubble burst, and the market crashed due to the bankruptcy of Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, and AIG; thus proving The Lord's words that thieves break in and steal (Matt 6:49-21) and some of those thieves are managing banks and innocent people's investments!

However, in spite of all those threats to my safety and my peace of mind, I still believe in providence; i.e. The Lord will get me through it all somehow; and so far so far so good.

416) Heb 13:7 . . Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

The "leaders" of that particular verse refer to the ones who captained Moses' people over the centuries; e.g. Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David. Elijah, Ezra, and Nehemiah; and the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Micah; et al.

There was once an advertisement for a beer on television that said, in so many words: "You only go around once in life. So grab all the gusto you can get." Well; Christ's believing followers should not be thinking like that. They don't go around once; the real gusto is yet to come.

417) Heb 13:9 . . Do not be carried away by strange and varied teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace rather than foods, through which those who were thus occupied were not benefited.

The words "carried away" weren't translated from Greek words. They're arbitrary insertions; viz: they're words that a translating committee penciled into the English text so as to make the passage say what they guessed it's supposed to be saying. Arbitrary insertions are pretty common and nobody seems to fear they might be adulterating the Bible; though they can be misleading at times so caveat lector.

The word "strange" is translated from the Greek word xenos (xen'-os) which essentially refers to someone or something with which Christians are unfamiliar, i.e. not cozy.

For example; though most Christians are familiar with the dietary laws contained in the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God, Christ's followers are under no obligation to comply with them for the simple reason that those laws are contractual. Well; Christians per se, are not contracted with God to comply with those laws. Hence those dietary laws amount to "strange" teachings; viz: they're unchristian.

Now, what I find curious about Heb 13:9 is the fact that the anointing spoken of in 1John 2:26-27 is supposed to steer those who have it away from deception while at the same time aligning them with the truth. So then, that being the case, then it's clearly possible for those with the anointing to ignore its guidance and buy into strange and varied teachings.

Another thing I should point out is that according to 1Thess 5:19, it's possible to quench the anointing's guidance; viz: snuff it out like one would snuff a candle so that it no longer produces light to illuminate one's path: and that's not a good thing.

1John 1:5-6 . .This is the message we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

418) Heb 13:16 . . And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Doing good and sharing are bloodless sacrifices; and in point of fact are far more likely to be accepted by God than the death of birds and beasts.

In the first chapter of the book of Isaiah, God lambasted Moses' people for bringing all the correct, God-mandated sacrifices to the Temple. Why? Because those sacrifices were insulting while His people were not only crooks; but also lacking the milk of human kindness. The sacrifices that God preferred over and above the Temple offerings were the below:

Isa 1:17 . . Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Hos 6:6 . . For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

So "doing good" consists of doing what's right, and seeking kindness and fairness across the board for everyone; including the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised.

The US Federal Government has been notoriously negligent in doing good by its chronic failure to honor its treaties with Native Americans. Not long ago I read in my local paper about 50 years of Federal foot-dragging in respect to honoring its commitment to provide tribes situated along the Columbia River with fishing villages to replace the ones that were obliterated due to construction of The Dalles dam. Well; God takes note of that sort of thing; nobody is getting by with anything.

419) Heb 13:17 . . Heed those who lead you, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Christianity is not a democracy. No; it is a theocracy with a monarch at its head— a monarch who regards dissent and disobedience as heresy and insurrection.

1Sam 15:22-23 . .Has The Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of The Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.

If perchance Christ's believing followers should find themselves under church leadership that they cannot— in all good conscience —respect, follow, and obey; and/or simply cannot give their whole-hearted, unreserved support; then it's time to abandon ship and move on rather than remain and rack up negative points against themselves that will most certainly erode their reward when they stand before the King for their personal evaluation.

420) Heb 13:22 . . I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.

The letter to Hebrews doesn't seem brief to me, but according to the author it's a concise version of his thoughts, i.e. it's to the point; free of elaboration and/or unnecessary details.

Christ's teachings per the epistles are sometimes regarded as guidelines rather than rules. That's not the way his thoughts are supposed to be taken; no, not at all. The writer of Hebrews didn't say his word is a collection of suggestions, rather, as exhortation; which Webster's defines as language intended to incite and encourage. In other words: the teachings in Hebrews are meant to be taken seriously rather than with a grain of salt; if you know what I mean.

Exhortation is taken from the Greek word paraklesis (par-ak'-lay-sis) which is an ambiguous word that not only means exhortation, but also solace; which Webster's defines as a source of relief and/or consolation; viz: encouragement. In other words; the letter to Hebrews is for the reader's own good; in more ways than just rules and laws.

It's interesting how various people perceive the Bible. Some see it as a threat to human safety and dignity; while others see it as a source of friendship and mentoring.

2Cor 2:14-17 . . For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being rescued and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

421) Jas 1:2-4 . . Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

It is so frustrating to open a package supposedly containing all the parts needed to assemble a complicated device only to discover that some of the pieces are missing. Well, a lot of Christians are like that. They might be really good at church attendance, while at work committing theft by using their employer's computers for personal purposes without authorization and/or in the habit of breaking the law by J-walking and driving too fast, drifting through STOP signs without bringing their vehicle to a complete halt; and given to outbursts of road rage. That's not a complete Christian; no, that's a half-baked Christian.

Not all tests of faith are intended for behavior modification; but rather, for proof-testing. Take for example Abraham's test in the 22nd chapter of Genesis; which he passed to God's 110% satisfaction.

Other testing is the kind that engineers do with things like machines, toys, cribs, printers, flashlights, guns, tools, pumps, motors, cars, etc. Before putting a new idea into production, they subject it to a series of tests to determine if it will perform under the circumstances for which it is designed. Nowadays, not all testing is destructive testing, but rather via computer models. But the purpose is the same: to reveal any weaknesses in the design and function of the part; which are then addressed and rectified.

Prov 25:4 . . Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith


423) Jas 1:5 . . If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Within the context of James' epistle, the phrase "any of you" pertains to the recipients of his letter; viz: the Diaspora— specifically those among the Diaspora whose religion is Christianity. So then, the phrase "gives to all men" has to be interpreted with that in mind; which means that "all men" doesn't pertain to just any and all men on earth.

Jas 1:6-8 . . But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from The Lord : he is a vacillating man, unstable in all he does.

Christians should never begin a prayer by saying "God; if you're out there".

Heb 11:6 . . Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is

Note the words "impossible" and "must" in that verse. A vacillating Christian who's not sure there's a God out there is an unbelieving Christian, and can just forget a reply from the Bible's God— the instant the words of a vacillating prayer leaves somebody's lips it goes directly to the dead-letter office.


425) Jas 1:9 . . Let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position;

According to 1Cor 1:26-29, relatively few prominent people make it to safety when they cross over to the other side.

What is this "high position" that James wrote about? Well, I can think of no higher position than being legal kin to the Bible's God and a family member around the table in His own home. In my book, that beats an invitation to the White House any day of the year.

The Greek word for "glory" in Jas 1:9 is kauchaomai (kow-khah'-om-ahee) which means: to vaunt; which Webster's defines as: to make a vain display of one's own worth or attainments; viz: to brag; to call attention to with pride and often boastfully. At the very least, I think the Lord's people should exult in their good fortune to be an insider.

"The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Neh 8:10)

426) Jas 1:10 . . but the rich should glory in that he is made low:

Jesus once remarked that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

The rich generally get above-average respect from the world due to their riches, but God isn't influenced by wealth. No, with God wealth gets no red carpets, no comps, and no VIP preferences; everyone is a commoner.

When the rich come before God with hat in hand and their heads down low instead of held up high, then they have done something worthy of an attaboy because that is a really, really big accomplishment for pampered folk accustomed to better receptions.

427) Jas 1:13 . . No one who wants to do wrong should ever say: God is tempting me. God cannot be tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else to do wrong either.

Human nature has a dastardly propensity to blame others for its own faults. A prime example is right in the beginning of the Bible in the book of Genesis. Adam blamed the woman God gave him for his part in eating the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:12) and she in turn blamed the Serpent for her part in the act. (Gen 3:13)

Although God tempts no one to evil, He does put certain ones through the ringer to see what they're made of— even His own friends —to test and/or prove their loyalty; e.g. Abraham (Gen 22:1-12) Jesus (Matt 4:1) the Jews. (Ex 15:23-25)

Criminals often gripe about entrapment when the cops catch them red handed in a sting. But if the crooks were good citizens, entrapment wouldn't work on them.

Another popular excuse is enabling. For example some folks insist it's God fault that Adam and Eve tasted the forbidden tree because He put it in the garden where they could find it, viz: product liability.

Former US President Clinton was once asked in an interview why he messed around with Monica Lewinski. He answered: Because I could. In other words: Ms Lewinski wasn't a temptation; no, she was available, i.e. an opportunity.

And alcoholics blame their habit on genetic predilection.

I once heard it said that locks were invented to keep an honest man honest. (chuckle) I think there's a lot of truth in that statement.

Jas 1:14-16 . .Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death. So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.

428) Jas 1:19 . . Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

Some folks have a really bad habit of responding to others' comments, suggestions, and remarks without first hearing them all the way thru.

"It is folly and shame to him who answers a matter before he hears it." (Prov 18:13)

* I can't help but wonder how many Christian parents teach their children that it's impolite to interrupt when others are speaking, but yet allow themselves liberty to practice just the opposite.

Anger per se isn't evil; I mean after all, The Lord himself wasn't immune to anger (Mark 3:5). And neither is God immune to anger. (Ex 4:14, Num 11:1, Rom 1:18, Rom 2:8)

Anger can be a valuable tool if it's administered sparingly and intelligently. However, human anger is often spontaneous, impulsive, unfair, unjustified, inappropriate, irrational, unnecessary, controlling, violent, emotional, petulant, selfish, and reactive.

Jas 1:20 . . Man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

429) Jas 1:21 . .Get rid of all moral filth, and the evil that is so prevalent; and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

"moral filth and evil" in this case pertains especially to the wrong kind of anger; which only leads to more and more actions the likes of which The Lord cannot approve.

Christians are sometimes victims of a sort of knee-jerk reflex whenever they encounter a word like "save". The Greek word for it is sozo (sode'-zo) which is an ambiguous word that can mean save, rescue, protect, and/or spare.

Ambiguous words are not only a nuisance at times; but worse, they can be misleading. James isn't talking about saving yourself from Hell and eternal suffering by eliminating "all moral filth". No, that part of a believer's association with God is past tense rather than future (John 5:24, Rom 6:3, Rom 6:6, Gal 2:20, Col 3:3, 1Thes 1:10, 1Thes 5:9, 2Tim 1:9, Titus 3:5).

People whose anger easily flares up are slaves to their anger and enjoy far less peace than somebody whose anger is under control: thus peaceable souls succumb to temptation with much less frequency than angry ones. In other words; the "save" we're looking at here is the kind that spares you the difficulties that folks with anger issues often find themselves entangled.

Prov 14:17 . . A quick-tempered man does foolish things

430) Jas 1:22 . . Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

I think what he's getting at in that verse is a self-induced false impression of ourselves, i.e. delusion; which in psychology is defined as a persistent false belief regarding one's self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary, viz: a conscious refusal to accept facts and/or reality.

Jas 1:23-25 . . Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it— he will be blessed in what he does. (cf. John 14:21-23)

431) Jas 2:1 . . My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ— The Lord of glory —with respect of persons.

The Greek word for "respect of persons" is prosopolepsia (pros-o-pol-ape-see’-ah) which means: partiality.

Webster’s defines "partiality" as: partisan, prejudiced, biased, and/or granting one person more value as a human being than another in regards to particulars like age, race, gender, looks, size, education, intellect, bank account, career, clothing, popularity, neighborhood, and social status.

Jas 2:2-4 . . For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in flashy clothing and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is low-income and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, "You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor" —well, doesn’t this kind of discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives?

When I first began attending church as an adult back in the decade of the 1970's, my wardrobe consisted entirely of shirts and trousers that I bought on the cheap at Value Village— a popular second hand store on the west coast similar to Salvation Army and Goodwill.

I never told anybody where I shopped, although I've no doubt that some of the folk I encountered in church could tell that my fashions were a tad out of date because there were some upper income people attending that looked a whole lot nicer than me; but I figured: what the hay; I had as much right to attend in my previously-owned clothing as they did in their untainted high-end threads. Some of them had gold watches too while I sported a simple Timex with an imitation leather strap; and I drove an aging 1968 VW Beetle that needed paint.

You know, looking back on that era, I sometimes wonder how many people at church avoided me without my knowing it because my appearance and my vehicle offended their sensibilities.

432) Jas 2:12 . . So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

The law of liberty is different than the law of the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. That law is depicted in the New Testament as a law of bondage rather than freedom. (Gal 5:1)

A law of bondage makes iron-clad demands and stipulates penalties for non compliance. A law of liberty requests your willing cooperation rather than demanding obedience; no exceptions. A law of liberty allows for dissent and conscientious objection, whereas a law of bondage is often intolerant of both.

In a nutshell; non compliance with the law of bondage can endanger one's self with any one of the curses listed at Lev 26:14-39, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:15-68 whereas non compliance with the law of liberty doesn't.

Anyway: within the context of James' epistle, the law of liberty-- i.e. the liberator's law (Rom 8:2) --judges Christians by their treatment of other people in accord with how Christ wants them to be treated in his name.

* There are Christians out there who are so uncivil, so militant, so uncompromising, so implacable, so irritable, and so lacking the milk of human kindness, that they would actually be doing Christ service by not identifying themselves with him. Compare Mark 3:11-12 where Jesus commanded some evil spirits to keep their mouth shut about his identity.

433) Jas 3:1 . . Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly.

I've no doubt there will be some very embarrassed Christians when the day arrives it's discovered they propagated heresy and didn't know it simply because they were presumptuous instead of Spirit-enabled.

1Cor 12:29 . . Are all teachers?

No, not all are teachers; nor do that many need to be. Only some are teachers and the rest of Christ's believing followers are supposed to be students, i.e. disciples.

Eph 4:11-13 . . And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith

So don't put yourself at risk unless you know for sure what you're doing.

434) Jas 3:13-18 . .Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter rivalry and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.

. . . For where rivalry and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of compassion and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

The "seed whose fruit is righteousness" is oftentimes not sown in peace on internet forums; nor is it sown on internet forums by people who make peace. It's sown by flaming, competitive, assertive, confrontational people— toxic, impulsive, mean-spirited personalities given to rejoinders, demeaning comments, recriminations and fault finding. And if there's a problem, it's never them; no, you are the problem, and as for them; turning the other cheek is no longer in vogue.

Those kinds of people do not like to be wrong, nor can they even think of themselves as wrong, nor are they likely to admit when they're wrong because they're really not all that interested in the truth; but only in defending their version of the truth; viz: their truth is far more important to them than even the God's truth; and should you not accept their truth, then it's because you have no understanding and need to come to your senses. These people are neither wise nor gentle. They'll ride rough-shod over your feelings like a skate-boarder barreling through Autumn leaves on the sidewalk. It's just awful how little they care for the injuries their attitude and their choice of words cause others.

People who take it upon themselves to teach, preach, and/or discuss the Bible ought to be sensible, and they ought to exemplify the Gospel. They can't be doing it for the prestige, showing off, impressing their friends, and/or competing with a rival. They have to be honest and forthright. They have to have a heart, they have to be dedicated and reliable: they cannot be vacillating, they have to practice what they preach, and they cannot be sarcastic, obtuse, difficult, contrary, quarrelsome, snobby, pretentious, demeaning, domineering, despotic, assertive, confrontational, stubborn, militant, pernicious, or pugnacious.

Christians that teach and/or discuss the Bible with others really ought to be someone they can trust, and someone with whom they may speak their minds without fear of reprisals instead of someone in whose presence everybody has to walk on egg shells all the time.

435) Jas 4:7 . . So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will shun you.

The Devil has the tactical advantage of being completely invisible, and no more solid than the vacuum of space. So the human eye not only can't see the Devil, but human touch can't feel him either. The Devil can't be bumped into, he gives off no odor; he makes no sound, he takes up no space.

The Devil rules in the world of men primarily by punching human nature's buttons. There's your first clue in how to resist the Devil.

Gal 5:16-17 . . So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the inclinations of the flesh.

Living by the Spirit isn't mysterious. All it really means is doing as God expects rather than permitting one's self to be manipulated by the impulses, proclivities, predilections, and propensities of human nature. We can't stop those forces of human nature from doing their thing any more than we can stop our lungs from demanding we take breaths. But they can be suppressed if one puts their mind to it.

1Pet 5:9 . .Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith.

The Devil has many allies, not only in the form of spirit beings, but also in the form of ordinary human beings who agree with his ways unaware.

2Tim 2:24-26 . . .The Lord's servant must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient: in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Eph 2:1-2 . . As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

Among the disobedient are Christian teachers, preachers, and ordained ministers (2Cor 11:14-5). It's fairly easy to avoid being hoodwinked by cults; but not so easy to avoid being misled by bona fide Christian churches and whatnot who are covertly working for the Devil. According to Eph 4:14, they can be very convincing.

The point is: since we can't fight the Devil's kingdom on its own terms, then the best defense is submission to Christ's commandments which, if complied with, will go a long ways towards frustrating our adversary's attempts to degrade the quality and/or effectiveness of our spiritual condition.

436) Jas 4:8-10 . . Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites. Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done.

. . . Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. When you bow down before The Lord and admit your dependence on Him; then His opinion of you will be greatly improved.

This seems to be targeting pretense, i.e. passing one's self off as a Christian while having little to no concern about putting Christianity's principles into practice. In other words: not just regular sinners, rather, career sinners; Christians for whom non compliance with Christ's expectations is a way of life.

John 5:44 . . How can you believe if you accept approval from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the approval that comes from the only God?

437) Jas 4:11a . . Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.

The Greek word for "speak evil" is katalaleo (kat-al-al-eh'-o) which means: a traducer, a slanderer.

Webster's defines "slander" as: the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and/or damage another's reputation and/or a false and defamatory oral statement about a person; viz: libel.

Webster's defines "libel" as: 1) a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression, and 2) a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt.

According to Webster's, a statement (or a photograph) need not be untrue to qualify as libel. If the statement, and/or the photograph, is unnecessarily denigrating and/or embarrassing to someone, though it be 100% true, then it qualifies as libel.

There are some things we could say about others that, though true, aren't necessary. For example, if you were to inadvertently see one of the ladies in the office scratching an itch on her derriere; is it really necessary to go blabbing about it all over the office? (cf. Gen 9:20-22)

No; and in point of fact, to do so would be libelous, not to mention possibly in violation of local labor laws banning the fomentation of a hostile workplace; and these days, it could even be construed as sexual misconduct. If that lady ever found out you were blabbing about her derriere she might be so mortified as to make it difficult for her to show up for work.

Words are weapons,
Sharper than knives.
The Devil Inside, INXS, Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence

438) Jas 4:11b-12 . . He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

Someone is sure to jump to the conclusion that James is referring to Matt 7:1-5 but this has nothing to do with that. What we’re talking about here is a kangaroo court which Webster’s defines as: (1) a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted, (2) a court characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized, or irregular status or procedures, and (3) judgment or punishment given outside of legal procedure.

One way to speak evil of the law, and judge the law, is to misrepresent the law by construing it to mean things it doesn't say in writing; in other words: to overrule it and/or criticize the law as out of date.

When a group of beer buddies, and/or a coffee clutch of girl friends, get together and rake somebody over the coals behind their back, those buddies and girl friends are conducting a kangaroo court in which the evidence presented is typically hear-say, feelings, thoughts, and impressions. I believe the common colloquialism for that activity is "character assassination."

Typically the accused is never informed of the trial, nor given an opportunity to confront their accusers, nor are they granted the right to an appeal. Sadly, yet all to commonly, once kangaroo courts reach a consensus, the condemned person’s reputation among those kinds of “judges” is ruined with little chance of repair.

My good opinion, once lost;
Is lost forever.
Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austin

439) Jas 4:13-16 . . Come now, you who say: Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.

. . .Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say: If The Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that. But as it is, you boast in your self confidence; all such boasting is evil.

There are two benefits to my association with God that I value very highly. One is the ransom that His son paid to rescue my soul from the death depicted at Rev 20;11-15; viz: the destination spoken of at Isa 66:23-24, Mark 9:43-48, and Luke 16:19-31.

The second benefit that I value very highly is providence; which is the thing that James is getting at. His criticism is directed towards overly ambitious Christians who deliberately neglect to take into consideration God's thoughts about their schemes.

They also neglect to take into consideration the brevity of life. In other words: if you're getting by alright in your present circumstances, don't seek better circumstances. Instead, live out the remaining days of your fragile life where you are now unless circumstances beyond your control force you to relocate and make some changes.

1Tim 6:6-10 . . Piety, with contentment, is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with much grief.

440) Jas 5:1-3 . . Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days.

Gold doesn't react with oxygen so it won't rust. However, gold isn't indestructible. Under certain conditions gold will tarnish, e.g. long-term storage in boxes, bins, and or environments containing organic sulfur compounds. In other words; James condemns the rich for stockpiling their gold and never putting any of it to a use beneficial to their fellow man.

The worst case scenario is the hoarding of gold that rightfully belonged to laborers who worked to earn it.

Jas 5:4 . . Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of The Lord of Sabaoth.

James' final comment actually accuses unfair labor practices of murder because they deprive the working man of a living wage; and of course most of the world's working men do not challenge unfair labor practices in court because they simply cannot afford to; and in some countries, they would risk severe political reprisals if they dared.

Jas 5:6 . .You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

The "righteous man" in this context refers to people putting in an honest day's work and not being fairly compensated for it and/or employers contriving tricky ways to short change them by deducting trumped up expenses from their pay. There's a lot of that goes on in the garment industry.

It's still true even in our day that only the rich and powerful can afford justice. However; there's a day coming when that imbalance will all come to an end.

Ps 72:4 . . He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.

Isa 11:4 . . But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;

441) Jas 5:7-8 . . Persevere, therefore, brethren, until the coming of The Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; be strong, for the coming of The Lord is at hand.

The Greek word translated "at hand" is eggizo (eng-id'-zo) which means: to make near; viz: approach

So then, "at hand" doesn’t necessarily mean The Lord is poised to drop in any second now, but rather, his arrival is approaching and getting nearer by the minute.

Although James' encouragement no doubt applies to all believers, it especially applies to his Jewish countrymen. They have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for God to fulfill the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and to restore David's kingdom per the words of the prophets. I'm told that many have given up hope of the promises and the predictions ever coming to pass. But James says don't give up; God is reliable; and He and the kingdom are both worth waiting for no matter how long it takes.

The problem is: according to 2Pet 3:9, The Lord is actually reluctant to return; primarily because of the amount of suffering and loss of life that will occur when He does.

Take for example Rev 16:18-19 where there's predicted a world-wide earthquake preceding Christ's return so severe on the Richter scale that cities all over the world will collapse at once.

Something like 2,829 lost their lives when the World Trade Center was demolished by a terrorist attack in 2001. Well that was only a few acres of New York City. Just imagine the body count when all of Manhattan comes down at once. along with other major cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mexico City, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, et al. The carnage will be beyond belief. Surely nobody in a right mind is anxious to see all of that start to happen. (cf. Isa 2:1-4:6 and Jer 31:1-7)

442) Jas 5:9 . . Do not complain against one another, brethren, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

* I can't help but wonder if maybe James patterned his figurative language after Gen 4:7 where God said to Cain:

"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

Anyway: If there’s a personality clash between you and a fellow believer; God forbid you should drag other people into the middle of it! And keep in mind that God is an eavesdropper. He hears and sees everything we do, think, or say. Don't let Him catch you maliciously shredding a fellow believer's reputation, assassinating their character and/or running them into the ground behind their back. (cf. Matt 18:15)

443) Jas 5:10 . . For an example of suffering and patience, brethren; take the prophets who spoke in The Lord's name.

The days of Israel, wherein many of the prophets resided, were not ideal, Much of the time, their country was largely dystopian.

There's an era looming on the horizon wherein the world will be governed by a man of honor; and justice and stability will be the rule rather than the exception. But for now, we here in America, and many folks abroad, are stuck in a world where commerce and government are in the hands of men and women gone mad with evil. The year 2020 was especially discouraging in America when a man was elevated the office of President by illegal means and unscrupulous methods.

In times like these, it's helpful to keep in mind that God has not been overthrown, nor has He abdicated. The Lord is still on God's throne; and His plan, purpose, and program for us has neither been altered nor thwarted. It will go forward even when all 'round us are fear, anxiety, pessimism, despair, and insecurity.

444) Jas 5:12 . . Above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no be no; so that you may not fall under judgment.

Christ took an oath. (Matt 26:62-64, Mark 14:61-62)

God takes oaths. (Gen 22:15-18, Heb 6:13-18, Heb 7:20-21)

Angels swear (Rev 10:5-6)

Paul swore. (Rom 1:9)

Israel's covenanted law, which Christ came to defend (Matt 5:17-19) requires oaths on special occasions. (e.g. Ex 22:10-11, Lev 5:1, Num 5:19, Deut 29:10-15)

So then, not all oaths are wrong.

The problem is, people are too careless with their oaths. They’re wont to say “I swear to God” and/or "Hand to God" for just about everything. And they make promises sealed with the same words.

Those promises are a snare because like Jesus said “you cannot make one hair white or black”. Sure enough, when you seal a promise by God's name, the forces of heaven and hell, the stars in their courses, dumb luck, brute force, circumstances beyond your control, and the neighbor's dog are going to make it impossible for you to keep that promise.

Will God grant you an excuse? Probably not because In order to grant you an excuse, He would have to compromise not only His integrity; but also the dignity of the name by which you swore; and that He will never do.

So, it's okay to give your word on a matter, but if at all possible; avoid attaching God's name into it.

Ex 20:7 . .You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.

445) Jas 5:13a . . Is anyone among you undergoing hardship? Let him pray.

Though Jesus' followers weren't experiencing difficulty while he was getting ready for his destiny on the cross (Luke 22:39-46) he no doubt knew that they were soon to undergo a stress test that would cause them to do something really stupid if they failed to seek God's providence in what lay ahead. (e.g. Mark 14:50-52 & 66-72)

Most any kind of "hardship" can cause us to become irrational, lose our composure, and do something contrary to our better judgment, e.g. layoff, illness, death in the family, old age, betrayal, divorce, legal problems, student debt, traffic incidents, crime, political events; etc.

FAQ: Why pray about our difficulties? In hopes that God will make them go away?

REPLY: Well; if God is any kind of a friend at all; He will no doubt want to be a part of your life rather than an audience or a bystander. Just having someone you can talk to, or a shoulder to cry on, is very helpful at times.

446) Jas 5:13b . . Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.

The Greek word translated "sing praises" is psallo which corresponds to the Hebrew word zamar (e.g. Ps 18:49) Both mean pretty much the same thing, to wit: vocals accompanied by instrumental music for the purpose of celebration.

Unfortunately quite a few traditional Christian hymns are dreary: suitable for a funeral rather than throwing a party. Compare the 150th Psalm wherein song and dance are accompanied by high-voltage music.

* The apostles sang a hymn during Jesus' last supper; with him, I expect, serving as choir director. (Matt 26:30) Their song was likely familiar to the Jews, and probably even utilized in the synagogues. We today study many of the Jews' ancient songs as scripture, without realizing they were set to music: some of the prophets too, e.g. Hab 3:19.

447) Jas 5:14 . . Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of The Lord

NOTE: From Egyptian hieroglyphics and ancient Chinese manuscripts, we know priests and physicians have been using essential oils for centuries in embalming, medicinal, emotional, and spiritual purposes. They included Rosemary, Frankincense, Myrrh, and Cedarwood. The Greeks and Romans adopted essential oils in the practice of aromatherapy.

Religious fanatics here and there are allowing their underage children to suffer and even die from treatable medical conditions on the basis of Jas 5:14. Christ addressed this issue indirectly by means of his teachings at Mark 2:27 which say:

Matt 12:11-12 . . And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath days.

The sanctity of human life trumps the sanctity of the Sabbath. So then, hospitals, doctors, nurses, firemen, law enforcement, soup kitchens, rescue missions, Red Cross, disaster emergency workers, etc. who are busy on the Sabbath do not sin. Do they break the Sabbath? Yes; but the sanctity of the seventh day is secondary to the sanctity of human life.

So then, I would have to say, in accordance with Matt 12:11-12, that people who deny their children adequate medical care in the name of religion regard the value of their own flesh and blood as something less than that of a beast.

It's okay to have elders pray for your child, and it's okay to anoint them with oil. But after that, parents really should take their children to a doctor because medicine today is far and away superior to the practices available to Christians back in James' day when oil and prayer were just about the best there was.

There used to be an old saying going around in Christian circles that went something like this: When a farmer prays for a crop, he should say amen with a hoe. In other words, don't just sit back and wait for a miracle when it's in your power to take some action; and if you don't, then in my opinion, you deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law when a child in your care dies from a treatable condition.

1Tim 5:8 . . If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

448) Jas 5:16a . . Confess your sins to one another

Words for "your sins" aren't in the Greek manuscript; viz: they're editorial insertions. Some pencil in the word "faults" which is no less arbitrary.

So we can safely omit "your sins" and clean up that verse to read "Confess to one another".

The Greek word translated "confess" means things like consent, assent, acknowledge, agree, and/or concur. It can also mean to "own-up" (a.k.a. man-up) for example:

When folks are deathly ill-- for instance dying from terminal cancer --then is a good time to make amends with those whom we've hurt or done wrong in some way or another. We sure don't want to leave this life while at the same time leaving a bad taste in people's mouth. And besides, folks need to know of our regretting the way we treated them.

449) Jas 5:19-20 . . My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.

Not all sins are worthy of death (1John 5:16-17). And a sin that's fatal for one believer may not be lethal for another.  I mean, look at David; he committed the awful sins of premeditated murder and adultery, yet God allowed him to live (2Sam 11:1-2Sam 12:14). But when Ananias and his wife Sapphira lied about the proceeds from the sale of their property, they were summarily executed. (Acts 5:1-10). And in Corinth, the health of only some was struck after desecrating The Lord's supper; while others were executed for the same reason (1Cor 11:17-30).

Some kids are easily corrected simply by a cross glare and a stern scolding; while other kids require a stronger hand.

I once heard a cute story of a man who would whack his mule upside the head with a wooden stake prior to getting up on the seat of his buckboard. Someone asked him why he hit the animal. The man replied: That was to get his attention, otherwise he won't budge when I snap the reins and yell giddy-up.

Ps 32:8-9 . . I wish to instruct you, and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Don't be like the horse or the mule, which have no discernment, but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not obey you.

For some believers, a whack up alongside the head is all it takes to motivate them to straighten up and fly right. Others are so incorrigible that only a brush with death finally convinces them that God is serious.

450) 1Pet 1:13-18 . . Gird up your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Greek word translated "hope" means anticipation; which is quite a bit different than crossing one's fingers; viz; praying for the best while in the back of one's mind dreading the worst.

The grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ is of course a glorious, superhuman, immortal body. That's good to know for those of us undergoing the damage being done to our appearance, and the loss of our vitality, due to the aging process. I can only imagine the despair that unbelievers must feel knowing that they will never be young ever again. Once the youth they have now fades away; it's gone, never to be restored

451) 1Pet 1:14-16. . As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written: You shall be holy, for I am holy.

"conformed" is speaking of habits. Take for example alcoholism. The popular diagnosis these days is that it's a disease. Well; it if is, then it's the only disease I know of practiced by fools.

Prov 20:1 . . Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Alcoholism isn't a disease; it's a habit, and one of the habits that Christ's believing followers are commanded to make a habit of avoiding. (Eph 5:18)

"You shall be holy, for I am holy" speaks of the old proverb: Birds of a feather, flock together. So if people wish to cultivate a rapport with God; they have to work on becoming heavenly rather than earthly because He tends to avoid mingling with invasive species; so to speak.

452) 1Pet 1:17-18 . . And if you address as "Father" the one who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in reverential fear during the time of your stay upon earth

Addressing God as Father is the correct meaning of an Aramaic word for father found in Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:16. In other words: Abba isn't a proper noun, rather,  it's a filial vocative.

People in heaven no doubt make a habit of treating God with reverential fear; that is: they respect both Him and His expectations. Down here, people make a habit of indifference and rebellion; even some of the people wearing a Christian ID tag.

453) 1Pet 1:22b . . See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently

A pure heart is one that's honest and sincere rather than pretentious, deceitful, and/or dissembling.

The Greek word translated "love" in that passage is agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o) which is actually a very easy love to practice because it doesn't consist of sentiments like affection and fondness; which are components of the other love in the New Testament translated from the Greek word phileo (fil-eh'-o).

Agapao is impersonal; commonly expressed in things like charity, kindness, sympathy, lenience, and tolerance; viz: agapao isn't expressed by liking people; rather, it's expressed by being nice to people, i.e. civil; defined by Webster's as adequate in courtesy and politeness: mannerly.

Phileo, on the other hand, is personal and not as common as agapao because phileo is felt rather than expressed; viz: phileo refers to emotional attachments.

An excellent contrast between the two loves is seen by comparing John 3:16 and John 16:27.

In the first; God is shown sympathetic.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

In the latter, God is shown affectionate.

"The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God."

Obtaining God's sympathy is very easy because that's on Him; whereas winning His affections is not so easy because that's on us.

John 15:10 . . If you obey my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and abide in His love.

Anyway; 1Pet 1:22b only requires Christians to be civil, which I'm convinced is within everyone's capabilities; even for Christians whose sensitivities are those of a catcher's mitt or a wooden nickel.

A pure fervent heart refers to taking Peter's requirement seriously enough to make a determined, conscientious effort to comply with it; viz: every Christian, even the bi-polar ones, really ought to be doing their level best to be good people not just some of the time, nor even most of the time; but all the time— at the very least among themselves and with each other.

454) 1Pet 2:1

2:1a . . Lay aside all malice

The Greek word for "malice" is kakia (kak-ee'-ah) which basically refers to badness, i.e. depravity, malignity, and trouble.

Malignity commonly describes aggressive cancers, which tend to spread and produce death or deterioration, viz: malignant people are passionately and relentlessly malevolent; defined by Webster's as having, showing, or arising from intense often vicious ill will, spite, or hatred.

Seeing as how malice is controllable; then I think it safe to conclude that there are some people whose mean-spirited behavior is by choice, i.e. deliberate.

2:1b . . Lay aside all deceit (a.k.a. guile, cunning, and duplicity)

The Greek word for "deceit" is dolos (dol'-os) which basically refers to a decoy; defined by Webster's as someone or something used to lure or lead another into a trap.

Decoys can also be used as diversions, e.g. red herrings.

Dolos also refers to trickery; defined by Webster's as the practice of crafty underhanded ingenuity to deceive or cheat, for example Gen 3:1.

A very common form of deceit is something called dissembling; which basically means to conceal one's true feelings with pretense. I think it's pretty safe to say that everybody at one time or another practices dissembling; it's pretty much a natural propensity.

Peter's instructions don't say to avoid deceit, they say to lay it aside; viz: stop it.

2:1c . . Lay aside all hypocrisy

The Greek word for "hypocrisy" is hupokrisis (hoop-ok'-ree-sis) which is a mite ambiguous. It basically refers to acting under a feigned part.

Not all hypocrisy is bad; quite a few people earn an honest living by accepting parts in movies and plays. That we can live with.

But hypocrisy in religion is insufferable; for example Mark 12:13-15, which reads like this:

"Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said: Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn't we? But Jesus knew their hypocrisy."

Their inquiry was reasonable; but it was based upon a hidden agenda. They didn't care one whit about the taxes; they were only looking for a legitimate excuse to have Jesus arrested and put away where he could no longer influence public opinion.

Hypocrisy is also exemplified in double standards, for example Luke 6:41-42 and Matt 23:2-4

"And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother: Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye, when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye."

"The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them. And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger."

To put this in a modern context: A prominent member of the US Congress recently quoted a passage from the Bible to justify sending aid to Ukraine. Some time later, the Catholic archbishop in that person's district announced his intention to deny them Communion because of their pro abortion stance. In other words: that member of congress attempted to politicize their religion without taking it serious enough to live it.

2:1d. . Lay aside all envy

Webster's defines envy as painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, coupled with a desire to possess the same advantage

There are musicians that I greatly admire for their talent and their creativity. But I don't hate them for it; no, I truly love their work, i.e. I'm a fan rather than a rival. For example; famed sessions musician Carol Kaye can lay down smooth jazz lines with an electric bass using nothing more than a flat guitar pick. I wish I could do what Carol does; at the same time wish her all the best and would sincerely like for her to continue playing and teaching forever.

But when admiration is mixed with pain and resentment, it can become ugly and extremely dangerous.

For example, it was the ugly kind of envy that motivated Cain to murder his kid brother, and it was the ugly kind of envy that motivated Joseph's brothers to sell him into slavery, and it was the ugly kind of envy that motivated Jesus' opponents to have him arrested and put to death.

People prone to envy share a very common denominator: they simply must be either equal to, or better than, others. It's that simple. And if they cannot be equal to, or better than others, then nothing would make them happier than to see those others failed, maimed, silenced, disfigured, dishonored, disgraced, humiliated, handicapped for life and/or deceased.

2:1e . . Lay aside all evil speaking

The Greek word for "evil speaking" is katalalia (kat-al-al-ee'-ah) which basically means defamation; defined by Webster's as the act of deliberately communicating false statements about a person that injures their reputation.

For example there's a case in the courts even now wherein a notable politician initiated a Russian collusion hoax in order to question a previous US President's integrity and undermine the effectiveness of his administration.

Talking about someone behind their back counts as defamation only when the statements are untrue; especially if the statements are deliberately untrue and calculated to assassinate someone's character and/or question their good name.

2:2 . . As newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.

The people to whom Peter wrote his epistle probably were not brand new Christians. I think it best to interpret his remark like this: Yearn for the pure milk of the word as if you were hungry little babies.

Infants are typically very demanding when they're hungry and refuse to be put off; which is a good thing because were they never to alert their mothers, they'd likely end up deprived of proper nourishment and at risk of growing up stunted like so many of the children living under Kim Jong-Un in communist North Korea.

455) 1Pet 2:11 . . Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do" is normally good advice to tourists and immigrants; but when your real world is in Heaven rather than on the earth, then Christians have to be on guard against picking up cultural mores that conflict with Heaven's.

The words "fleshly lusts" are derived from 1) sarkikos (sar-kee-kos') which pertains to the base nature, and, 2) from epithumia (ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah) which means: a longing.

What Peter is talking about there is giving in to whatever comes natural: viz: doing what's instinctive and reactive as opposed to one's better judgment.

Webster's defines instinct as: 1) a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity, 2) a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason, and 3) behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level.

Fleshly lusts are not what you might call "reasonable behavior" because they are basically gut passions and impulses that require no thinking. When people fly off the handle, sleep with somebody on the first date, utter an epithet, make a smart-aleck remark, and/or act on impulse and such; they are only doing what comes natural to the beast residing within themselves. People are, in the final analysis, little more than human wildlife; just naked apes ruled by the drives of an ape.

456) 1Pet 2:12 . . Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as malefactors, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

The Greek word for "malefactors" is somewhat ambiguous. It can refer to a criminal or to someone regarded as an all-around bad person or bad influence; viz: toxic i.e. harmful: hazardous.

Curiously, some of the principles and core values held dear by Christians are sometimes regarded by non Christians as detrimental to the so-called greater good; especially in communist and/or totalitarian societies.

The Greek word for "visitation" is: episkope (ep-is-kop-ay') which is an ambiguous word that means, among other things, inspection and/or evaluation.

Webster’s defines "inspection" as a checking or testing of an individual against established standards; for example: the avoirdupois ounce is a standard, the meter is a standard, and the inch is a standard.

In the old days, merchants used a balance to count out monies like gold and silver. They would put a "standard" weight in one of the balance's pans and then begin placing gold and/or silver in the other pan until the pans balanced; viz: until the pans were at the same elevation on either side of the scales' fulcrum point. Justice is often depicted as a blindfolded woman holding a balance in one hand, and a sword in the other. The law is in one pan, and the defendant's conduct is in the other; for example:

Dan 5:27 . .You have been weighed on the balances; and came up short.

If it turns out that the criticism that the outside hurled at believers was unjustified, then they will have to pay. In so doing, how will they glorify God? Well, the slanderers themselves may not pay their respects to God, but their retribution will certainly honor His standards.

457) 1Pet 2:13-15 . . Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for The Lord's sake : whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Every ordinance of man of course includes traffic laws like J-walking, unsafe lane changes, drifting through stop signs, tailgating, road rage, exceeding speed limits, feeding parking meters, crossing streets against the light, blocking driveways, failure to yield the right of way, illegal U-turns; etc.

"foolish men" would include employee theft, factions like ANTIFA, and activists involved in civil disobedience.

"ignorance" can be defined as a lack of knowledge, education, and/or awareness. Used the wrong way; labeling someone ignorant is an effective insult. But to us it means that someone hasn't been catechized sufficiently to know any better.

* According to passages like Matt 12:1-13, human welfare sometimes moderates religious requirements. So there are times when Christians find themselves in situations where they have to disobey passages like 1Pet 2:13-15 and Rom 13:1-5.

458) 1Pet 2:16a . . Live as free men

Some of Christ's believing followers in the Roman empire were slaves; so it was legally impossible for them to live as free men without risking severe consequences. I think what we're looking at here is that Peter is encouraging the Christians to whom he wrote to voluntarily accept their status as slaves instead of resenting it. In other words: free men have choices; and even though some of the Christians were slaves against their will, they were free to choose to make the best of it or let it get to them.

A pretty useful platitude that I once heard goes like this: Bloom where you're planted. So; if you should find yourself planted in adverse circumstances; make up your mind to make the best of it. This is something wherein you have a choice; even though you have no choice about being stuck. It's really all about attitude adjustment.

459) 1Pet 2:16b . . Do not use your freedom as a cloak for evil; live as servants of God.

That passage is likely a reiteration of the one below:

"You were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh" (Gal 5:13)

No sin that a believer commits will ever again put them in danger of the wrath of God.

"I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life." (John 5:24)

However, believers should never regard John 5:24 as a license to steal, so to speak. It's freedom to steal, but certainly not license because theft is just as wrong for God's servants as it is for His opponents (Rom 6:1-15). Just because believers won't suffer the sum of all fears for theft is not an eo ipso exemption for them to have a go at it.

460) 1Pet 2:17a . . Honor all men.

The Greek word translated "honor" is timao (tim-ah'-o) which basically means to prize, i.e. fix a valuation upon and/or to revere

The first place that timao shows up in the New Testament is Matt 15:4 which reads:

"God said: Honor your father and mother."

Right after the Flood, God outlawed murder; and the reason given for the ban was not because murder is necessarily wrong, but because people are made in the likeness of God. (Gen 9:5-6)

James criticizes the use of language that expresses a wish that someone be sent to Hell. The reason given is not because that sort of language is necessarily wrong, but because people were made in the likeness of God. (Jas 3:8-9)

I gather that failure to treat everyone with dignity— regardless of age, race, or gender —not only dishonors men but by extension also dishonors God in whose likeness all men were made.

FAQ: Does that mean even serial killers, mass murderers, and monsters like Osama Bin Laden, Robert Mugabe, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and crooks like Al Capone and Bernie Madoff have to be treated humanely and with dignity the same as everyone else?

REPLY: Yes, absolutely because the honor that Peter is talking about doesn't have to be earned, merited or otherwise deserved, i.e. it's divine.

Take for example Lev 19:32 which reads like this:

"Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am The Lord"

Senior citizens don't have earn your respect, i.e. it's neither merited nor otherwise deserved. The only requirement is age; and failure to dignify senior citizens fails to satisfy God's expectations.

NOTE: I've seen young Christians in Sunday school treat senior citizens as peers, and sometimes even as children. That kind of conduct is not only disturbing, but it's also very unbecoming for Christian people.

461) 1Pet 2:17b . . love the brotherhood

The Greek word translated "brotherhood" is adelphotes (ad-el-fot'-ace) which appears in only two places in the entire New Testament; both are in the apostle Peter's epistles: one here and the other in 1Pet 5:9.

It's a curious word because it doesn't specifically refer to "the church which is his body". Adelphotes basically means a fraternity; defined by Webster's as a group of people associated or formally organized for a common purpose, interest, or pleasure; i.e. persons of the same class, profession, character, or tastes: for example leagues, guilds, societies, and trade unions.

Just to be on the safe side, assume that Peter's instructions apply to anyone and everyone identifying themselves as a Christian regardless of their denominational affiliation.

One thing to our advantage is that the Greek word for "love" in 1Pet 2:17 is impersonal, viz: it requires neither fondness nor affection; it only requires that we be humane, e.g. civil, courteous, friendly, peaceable, hospitable, sympathetic, tolerant, lenient, forgiving, charitable, and generous. In other words; we don't especially have to like everyone identifying themselves as Christians; we just have to be friendly.

462) 1Pet 2:17c . . fear God, honor the king.

There are times when it isn't possible to honor both God and king. When that happens-- and it does --take the high road, i.e. honor God above the king because God is superior to everyone there is, and to every name that can be named. This principle goes way back; especially for God's people: the Jews.

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deut 6:4-6)

"You be the judge; whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to men rather than to God." (Acts 4:19)

"We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)

463) 1Pet 2:18-19 . . Servants, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the grief of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

In free lands like the USA, the master/servant relationship is a thing of the past. However, Peter's instructions still apply to all who work for a living as employees.

The Greek word translated "commendable" is surprising. It’s charis (khar' ece) which is commonly translated "grace".

Whether supervisors are angels or pigs we still have to give them the level of courtesy that their position deserves because that's how we need to behave if we wish to be seen in Heaven as gracious instead of ill-bred.

464) 1Pet 3:1-2 . . In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

Peter began his instructions with the words “in the same way” which refer back to 1Pet 2:18-25 wherein he taught Christ's followers the Christian way to cope with abusive management practices.

465a) 1Pet 3:3-5 . . Wives, let not your adornment be merely external— braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses —but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

Some of the more ascetic Christians have attempted to use that passage to insist it's wrong for women to wear cosmetics. No, the apostle Peter is only reflecting an old Portuguese proverb that goes something like this: A beleza não ajusta a tabela. (Beauty doesn't set the table) which simply means a pretty girl might be amazing in yoga pants but quite ineffective as a homemaker.

Hollywood movies often portray "spirited" women as somehow desirable. No, they aren't desirable; they're feral, they demean men and make them miserable. Hollywood also commonly portrays women slapping men in the face and getting away with it. That is NOT what Peter means by a "gentle and quiet spirit" and besides, slapping is the criminal act of assault and battery— not what I would call setting a good example for growing girls.

Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peaceable: for they shall be known as God's kin.

An assertive, confrontational woman is neither peaceable nor poor in spirit; no, in point of fact she's quite militant, obnoxious, chafing, critical, temperamental, impudent, and arrogant. Those might be desirable characteristics for strong females in television and movie roles but clearly not desirable in a Christian wife.

When a Christian wife gets all dressed up to her nines, but yet lacks a "gentle and quiet spirit" then her ensemble is incomplete. In point of fact, an assertive, confrontational wife is, in reality, nothing less than a domesticated beast.

Prov 11:22 . . As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.

So then, by all means Christian women should continue to shop at SEPHORA, but at the same time make an effort to be agreeable too.

465b) 1Pet 3:6 . . . Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; and you have become her daughters if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

According to that, Sarah's submission to Abraham was voluntary, i.e. she was neither coerced nor intimidated. Abraham didn't have to break Sarah's spirit by violence, neglect, or abuse.

That's very interesting because Sarah's original name was Sarai (Gen 17:15) which in Hebrew means dominative, i.e. domineering. I can't imagine any parent tagging their little girl with a bossy name like that, but apparently it was appropriate, viz; baby Sarai must've been a crabby little tyke right from the get-go.

I don't know how or why it came about, but somewhere along the line in their relationship; Sarah decided within herself that it was far better for the home to negotiate with her husband rather than destroying his peace of mind with ultimatums, walk-outs, foot stomping, looking at him with daggers, silent treatments, withholding conjugal rights, serving cold food, grumpiness, assertiveness, stone walling, brow beating, chafing, nagging, slamming doors, hissy fits, and likely a number of other methods that toxic wives employ to manipulate their men.

In other words: Sarah decided to exercise diplomacy in her relationship with Abraham; and the important point to note is that she chose that route voluntarily, i.e. by simply making up her own mind about it.

466) 1Pet 3:7a . . You husbands, dwell with your wives according to knowledge

The Greek word translated "knowledge" is gnosis (gno'-sis) which means knowing (as information) in other words: facts and/or ideas acquired by study, investigation, observation, research, and/or experience.

Gnosis is different than "intuition" which Webster's defines as: the power, or faculty, of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.

Gnosis is different than "instinct" too, which Webster's defines as: (1) a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity, (2) a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason, and (3) behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level; viz: a mental and/or emotional knee-jerk reflex.

So then, Peter is talking about husbands applying instructed knowledge of Christian social skills to their marriages.

There are young boys being brought up by macho (a.k.a. toxic) fathers teaching their sons to "control their women". Well, that might be an acceptable marriage philosophy in the home of a Muslim fundamentalist and/or a club-toting Neanderthal, but not in the home of a man passing himself off as one of Christ's followers. In a pious home, Christian husbands are neither required nor expected to tame their Christian wives seeing as how the onus is upon the wives themselves to exercise self control.

NOTE: It's required of Christ's followers to love their enemies, but it's not required to like their enemies nor is it required to always have a good opinion about them. If a man's enemies include his wife, then of course Jesus' instructions apply.

However, though a Christian husband's love for his wife need not include the elements of affection and/or fondness; the love he extends to his wife does need to include the element of benevolence, along with diplomacy; which Webster's defines as skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility, viz: tact. Benevolence is defined as the disposition to do good, i.e. kindness.

467) 1Pet 3:7b . . Give honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel,

The Greek word for "honor" is time (tee-may') which means: a value, i.e. money paid.

The word for "weaker" is asthenes (as-then-ace') which means: having no strength, i.e. fragile.

And the word for "vessel" is skeuos (skyoo'-os) which can indicate anything from a soup bowl to a cardboard box; in other words: a container.

Peter isn't saying women are physically weaker than men; but that Christian husbands should exercise the same care with their wives as they would a fragile antique worth thousands of dollars like, say, a Ming vase. Nobody in their right mind handles a Ming vase like a farmer handles a 5-gallon bucket. Not that some women couldn't take that kind of handling; it's just that its unbecoming for a Christian man to lack sensitivity for his wife's feelings.

This particular assessed value isn't an intrinsic value, nor is it a deserved value either; but rather, it's a gratuitous value. In other words: Christ commands Christian husbands to categorize their wives up there with Dresden china even if she's as tough as a female cop and/or a UFC mixed martial artist the likes of Rhonda Rousey— and this is not a choice; no, it's not a choice; it's an order.

Christian husbands who treat their Skil saws and their tomato plants with more care and concern than they treat their wives can just forget about associating with God on any meaningful level.

1Pet 3:7c . . as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Note the word "together" which is quite the opposite of autonomy and/or independence.

Couples sometimes assert themselves with words like "What I do is between me and The Lord." No; not when you're married. Marriage changes everything between one's self and The Lord because people become one flesh in marriage: no longer two sovereign individuals.

468) 1Pet 3:8a . . Finally, all of you be of one mind,

Peter’s not talking about the nerve center of a Borg-hive collective. The Greek word for "one mind" is homophron (hom-of'-rone) which means: harmonious; and this is the only place in the entire New Testament where that word appears.

Webster’s defines "harmonious" as: 1) musically concordant, 2) having the parts agreeably related; viz: congruous, and 3) marked by accord in sentiment or action.

Peter's instructions emphasize the third element— "marked by accord in sentiment or action". Head-strong Christians, domineering Christians, and those for whom every disagreement is either an affront or an act of war to win at any cost— those for whom the words diplomacy and tact have no meaning —of course have trouble complying with 1Pet 3:8a; that is: if they even consider it worthy of their notice.

Anyway; Peter's instructions relate to a timeless complaint that goes something like this: Why can't we all just get along?

469) 1Pet 3:8b-9 . . Have compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing.

"compassion" is from the Greek word sumpathes (soom-path-ace') which means: having a fellow-feeling; viz: sympathetic, i.e. (by implication) mutually commiserative.

One of the meanings of commiserate is condole: like when we share someone's grief at the passing of a loved one, or their job has been outsourced to cheap labor in a foreign country, or they've lost their entire retirement fund to an unscrupulous corporation like ENRON, or their life savings to a crooked Ponzi schemer like Bernie Madoff, or when there's news from their doctor they have to begin chemo-therapy for a recently detected advanced cancer, or when the car of a single mom with limited income needs expensive repairs.

People in those predicaments are in sore need of condolences, and they are in no mood for philosophical platitudes.

The Greek word translated "railing" is from loidoria (loy-dor-ee'-ah) which means slander or vituperation; which Webster's defines as 1) to abuse or censure severely or abusively; viz: berate, and 2) to use harsh condemnatory language.

Rejoinders fall into that category; which are defined as a usually rude or angry reply to something written or said; viz: insensitive retorts deliberately meant to hurt people's feelings; viz: tit for tat. That kind of behavior doesn't go unnoticed.

Matt 12:36-37 . . I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

470) 1Pet 3:10-11 . . Let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. And let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.

Webster's defines "guile" as duplicity which is defined as: contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; especially in the belying of one's true intentions by deceptive words or action; in other words, speaking with a forked tongue and/or saying one thing while meaning another.

Quite a bit is said in the Bible about the words people speak, whereas little to nothing is said about the words they write. That could be because so many people back in the day were illiterate. But surely one's written words have just as much voice as one's spoken words; else we couldn't justify calling the Bible the word of God.

Good and evil are here juxtaposed as benevolence vs malevolence, i.e. good will vs ill will.

To "seek peace and pursue it" is blessing-worthy.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

If it's true that only peaceable kinds of people qualify to wear the label "children of God" then the opposite is just as true: difficult Christians are unworthy of the distinction.

471) 1Pet 3:14a . . If you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.

The Greek word translated "blessed" means fortunate.

Peter isn't talking about one's religious beliefs per se, but about one's own righteousness; in other words, one's conduct and their moral values, i.e. their personal convictions about what's right and what's wrong in thought, word and deed.

The Greek word for "righteousness" in that passage is dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo' nay) which means: equity (of character or act). Webster's defines equity as: justice according to natural law or right; specifically freedom from bias, partiality, disparity, favoritism, and/or hypocrisy and double standards.

472) 1Pet 3:14b . . And do not fear their intimidation, nor be shaken,

Peer pressure, mob rule, cultural influences, group-think, survival, ostracism, changing customs, and political powers are always at work seeking to manipulate Christians and tone down their moral values.

This is especially true in communist countries like North Korea and China. Their governments do not tolerate attempts to correct their unholy management practices consisting of cunning, duplicity, bad faith, dishonesty, cruelty, abuse, thought control, unjust legal practices, gulags, murder, beatings, kidnapping, political prisons, media control, and dissent suppression.

In addition: Christianity seeks to unify families whereas communism seeks to splinter them, even to the point of family members spying on each other and reporting each other to the authorities. Christians value God as an ally, whereas communism regards God as an enemy of the State who despises their way of doing things and wants them taken down.

473) 1Pet 3:15a . . Dedicate your hearts to The Lord God

A word not commonly heard in Christian circles is loyalty; variously defined by Webster's as allegiance, faithfulness, and fidelity.

This goes much further than just merely believing in God; it includes following His instructions.

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)

The Greek word for Lord in that passage is kurios (koo'-ree-os) which is a title applied to just about anybody considered a superior and/or an authority figure. People often called Jesus "master" and sometimes "rabbi" which refers to teachers, especially spiritual counselors.

We might paraphrase Luke 6:46 to say: If you are convinced that the words I preach are true and reliable, then why are you not complying with them?

474) 1Pet 3:15b . . Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you.

The only requirement here is to always be ready; we are not required to always give an answer. In point of fact Christ limits our responses to sincere men rather than every man.

"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." (Matt 7:6)

The Greek word for "hope" in that passage is elpis (el-pece') which means expectation; viz: elpis isn't wishful thinking, nor crossing your fingers; no, elpis is a confident kind of hope that looks forward to something that's already in the bag, ergo: elpis is an anticipating hope; viz: it doesn't pray for the best, while in the back of its mind dreading the worst.

When people are uncertain what the future has in store for them— if there is even the slightest anxiety or unease —they can't possibly comply with 1Pet 3:15b for the simple reason that the hope that is in them, if any, is the wrong kind of hope.

Rom 12:12 . . Rejoicing in hope.

When people are unsure of their afterlife destination, they have absolutely no cause for rejoicing; no; but they do have plenty of cause to fear the unknown.

Know-so hope is a calling.

Eph 4:4 . .You were called to one hope when you were called

FAQ: What is this so-called one hope?

REPLY: One of its components is a new body. (Acts 2:26-27, Acts 23:6, Rom 8:23-25, and 1John 3:2)

Having a new body to look forward to is comforting, and helps me cope with my current one's deterioration. Death is bad enough, but the aging process to my thinking is worse. Thank heavens we only have to get old just the one time and never again.

475) 1Pet 4:1-2 . .Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

The Greek word for flesh is sarx (sarx); which basically indicates the meaty parts of either man or beast; i.e. the body. The meaty parts of course consist of not only muscle and fat; but also the brain and nervous system along with the body's chemistry, e.g. its hormones.

The "lusts of men" is speaking of lusts that are common to everyone. (cf. 1Cor 10:13)

The Greek word for "lusts" is epithumia (ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah) which means: a longing, defined by Webster's as a strong desire, i.e. a craving.

Cravings aren't necessarily bad. Problems arise when we let our cravings rule us to the point of acting contrary to good scruples and/or our better judgment especially when it comes to making God frown upon our conduct as unbecoming, i.e. inappropriate for His son's followers.

NOTE: It offends some Christians to even so much as suggest that Christ might've had human longings just like everybody else. They truly believe he should have been above all that— he wasn't. Much of Jesus' suffering in the flesh came from suppressing his body's natural cravings. (Heb 5:7-8)

As the Word in heaven above, Jesus knew by omniscience that it's not easy to live the life of an h.sapiens down here on the ground; but now he knows for himself by personal experience just how tough it is. (cf. Heb 2:16-18, Heb 4:15)

476) 1Pet 4:7 . . The culmination of all things is approaching; therefore be serious, and watchful in your prayers.

I think we can safely apply some of the parable of the ten virgins to this passage. (Matt 25:1-13)

The big mistake made by the five foolish virgins was abandoning their watch to go in pursuit of something far less important than the arrival of the bridegroom.

Seeing as how nobody knows either the date or the hour of Christ's arrival spoken of in 1Thess 4:13-17, then everyone would be well-advised to avoid getting too absorbed in worldly pursuits lest the Lord suddenly appear unexpected right over their heads yelling "All aboard!" and they be unprepared to go with him; consequently getting themselves left behind.

477) 1Pet 4:8 . . Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love hides a large number of sins.

A person easily provoked is not a loving person.

One Saturday morning I and another man at church were moving some furniture from one place to another inside the main building where, completely unknown to us, a wedding rehearsal was being conducted.

The woman in charge of organizing the wedding came out into the hall and began scolding us for talking and making noise. When I pointed out that there were no posted signs in the hallway indicating a function in progress on the other side of the door, she became sullen, and tightened her lips and narrowed her eyes in anger.

Had that lady exemplified the love about which Peter wrote, she would have handled her inconvenience with a little more tact and sensitivity, i.e. diplomacy.

BTW: That same lady was also in the choir, and sang doxologies in front of about 2,000 people every Sunday morning. She was good at musical harmony, but obviously in sore need of some training in the civil kind.

478) 1Pet 4:10 . .As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

The Greek word for "manifold" is poikilos (poy-kee'-los) which means: motley, i.e. varied in character. All that’s really saying is that the gifts of God are multifarious; viz: having a number of different aspects or characteristics. (cf. Rom 12:5-8, 1Cor 12:1-11)

Unfortunately, people with natural aptitudes generally make up the majority of those in church capacities for which is supposed to be required a spiritual gift from God. They may look like they're "on fire" for The Lord, but really all they are is ambitious.

Now, the important thing is: good stewards of the manifold grace of God use their gift not for showing off, nor for a feather in one's cap; rather, for the benefit of others.

Paul encourages gifts (1Cor 12:31) and I would add to that by warning to exercise restraint because the Greek word translated "serving" refers to attendants, waiters, and hosts. In other words, if you're not comfortable with the thought of seeing to the needs of others, then you may not enjoy the life of someone entrusted with a spiritual gift, i.e. they're not achievements, rather, they're a serious responsibility with accountability to go along with it. (1Cor 3:11-15)

479) 1Pet 4:11a . . If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.

I don't see standing in for God's voice as a privilege; to me it is a heavy responsibility, and incumbent upon the speaker to know for sure that his teachings are infallible and without error.

* Though the Bible isn't one long quotation of God's actual spoken words from cover to cover; nevertheless, for all practical intents and purposes, Christians do well to regard the Bible as the voice of God anyway; and that applies to both the Old and the New testaments for the reason that all scripture is by inspiration of God— whether He actually spoke the Bible's words Himself makes no difference. (2Tim 3:16-17)

480) 1Pet 4:11b . . Whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Serving in the strength which God provides consists of not exceeding that strength, i.e. stay within your limits because by doing so, you will serve the Lord's best interests rather than their own.

481) 1Pet 4:12-13 . . Beloved, don't be perplexed by the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very gladbecause these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world.

The USA is currently undergoing a period of cultural, political, economic, and religious disintegration in the hands of some very unholy people. I don't like it, but I have to live thru it as best I can; always keeping in mind that for Jesus' followers; these kinds of disagreeable circumstances are conditioning us to better associate with Christ.

It's easy to think of his sufferings as only those that occurred on the cross and the night of his arrest. But it's important to remember that Christ lived on this earth for about 30 years prior to his public appearances; and during those years did not lead a sheltered life; in point of fact, during those 30 years he underwent a sort of boot camp.

Heb 5:7-9 . . During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

There aren't many of Jesus' impassioned prayers in the Gospels. The place to look for those is the Psalms where David did quite of a bit of ghost writing for him. (cf. Luke 24:44-45)

The Bible says there is no trial taken you but such as is common to the entire human race (1Cor 10:13). Jesus wasn't shielded from any of those. The Word not only came as a man, but he also lived as a man.

Heb 2:17-18 . . It was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is qualified to help us when we are being tempted.

Heb 4:15-16 . .This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will obtain mercy, and find grace to help us when we need it.

So then, when we meet with Christ around the table in God's home, I don't expect to meet a stranger to my way of life; no, I fully expect to meet a man who's been around the block a time or two. Not only will he be able to relate to my stories, but I in return will be able to relate to his. Sharing in Christ's glory would have the nature of an entourage if not for the fact that I will have the satisfaction of knowing that Christ, in a manner of speaking, came from the same neighborhood as I to get to where he is today.

482) 1Pet 4:15-16 . . Let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's affairs. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

NOTE: The Greek word for "Christian" is christianos (khris-tee-an-os') which means: a follower of Christ. That word appears in only three places in the entire New Testament. The other two are Acts 11:26 and Acts 26:28. Peter’s is the only epistle where it appears; and it’s nowhere in any of the four gospels.

A good example of glorifying God in the midst of one's troubles is Mr. Job.

Job 1:20-22 . . At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave, and The Lord has taken away; may the name of The Lord be praised. In all this, Job did not sin by accusing God with wrongdoing.

Job 2:9-10 . . His wife said to him: Are you still clinging to your integrity? Curse God and die! Job replied: You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

James speaks of the "patience" of Job (5:11) which is illustrated by the fact that in all his trouble, Job remained loyal to God and never once lost his confidence that God is blameless in all that He does, instead of accusing Him of being a cruel sadist who enjoys toying with His creations and amusing Himself by making them suffer.

483) 1Pet 4:19 . .Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

In the world of business, it’s sometimes necessary to take a concern to court in order to force venders of goods and services to honor their commitments. Well, the Bible’s God is not like that; no, the Bible's God is not a slimy weasel: He's a person of real integrity.

Peter emphasized that human soul was created rather than produced by a mysterious interaction of time, space, and matter. In other words: human soul had both a beginning and a beginner; viz: human soul would not exist at all had not a higher power willed it into existence.

FAQ: What is meant by souls?

REPLY: Soul began appearing in the Bible in the book of Genesis by the Hebrew word nephesh (neh'-fesh) which isn't unique to human life. Its first appearance is at Gen 1:20-21 in reference to aqua creatures and winged creatures; again at Gen 1:24 as terra creatures; viz: cattle, creepy crawlies, and wild beasts; and again in Gen 2:7 as the human creature; and yet again at Gen 9:10 to classify every living thing aboard Noah's ark.

God has a soul too. (Lev 26:11, Lev 26:30, Judg 10:16, Isa 42:1, Jer 32:41, Zech 11:8)

Soul is somewhat ambiguous but basically refers to consciousness, self-awareness, and individuality. It's sometimes a reference to one's heart, e.g. Gen 34:3, and to the core of one's being, e.g. Gen 27:4.

All in all, soul is just another way of referring to that part of human life that we call "self" which is defined by Webster's as the union of elements (such as body, emotions, thoughts, and sensations) that constitute the individuality and identity of a person, i.e. the you that you are.

In its entirety, normal human life consists of body, soul, and spirit. (1Thess 5:23). Those three components are divisible, viz: the soul and the spirit are capable of surviving the body's demise. (Matt 10:28, Luke 23:46, and Heb 4:12)

484) 1Pet 5:1-3 . .Therefore, I exhort the elders among you— as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed —shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

The conjunction "therefore" refers to one of Peter's previous statements; specifically this one:

"For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God" (1Pet 4:17)

That's an echo of 1Cor 3:4-23 and 1Cor 4:2-5 where Paul revealed that people "serving Christ" are facing a possibly very unpleasant evaluation.

The New Testament doesn't record Peter presence at Christ's crucifixion, but that obviously doesn't eo ipso preclude his attendance somewhere in the audience that day, or observing everything from a safe distance. (cf. Matt 26:58, Matt 27:55)

First off; Peter assures church officers that his proximity to Christ says very clearly, and without ambiguity, that he knows what he's talking about so they really ought to listen to what he has to say about managing a church.

Church is no country for achievers, nor is it a career track, nor is it a country for control freaks and power-hungry imperious despots, nor for people who love to bask in limelight and crave admiration and the center of attention; no, serving in a church is for shepherds.

If you're not sure what shepherding entails; then next time you're at a county fair strike up a conversation with some of the 4H kids and they'll be nly too glad to tell you just what a thankless, man-killing, drudgery-ridden, time consuming, smelly, expensive, inconvenient, filthy, and sometimes dangerous line of work that animal husbandry really is.

So why do 4H kids do it? Primarily because of their affection for animals; and if a luminary in church doesn't feel a genuine affection for those under their supervision, then that luminary will utterly fail to exercise oversight according to the will of God. Self-seeking luminaries are depicted as very poor sources of water. (2Pet 2:17)

Professional church officers are basically hirelings; and according to God's son, a hireling cannot be depended upon to protect the sheep when a wolf is at the door.

"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is an hireling, and not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and abandons the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep." (John 10:11-13

A paid church officer might be willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of The Lord's sheep; but will he sacrifice his wife who has cancer, and/or his two daughters' future whom he has to put through college, and/or the mortgage on his home and/or his medical insurance?

No, the best interests of The Lord's sheep will be very low on the hireling's list of priorities because his primary interest is in keeping his job, protecting his income, his health benefits, his life insurance, and his wife and children. The hireling will circle the wagons when the wolf comes; yes, but not around the sheep; no, around himself and what's his. So be very cautious in putting too much confidence in church officers; you just might end up disillusioned and very disappointed.

485) 1Pet 5:5a . .You younger, be subject to your elders

The elders in this instance are church elders; not just any nondescript person of age that happens to be in the area; and the inference is that the inexperienced Christians should not think of themselves as know-it-alls, but rather, respect the mature Christians as mentors who genuinely know a thing or two.

Peter's command isn't optional; no, it's mandatory, and requires compliance.

Heb 13:17 . . Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

486) 1Pet 5:5b . . and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

The Greek word for "humble" is tapeinophrosune (tap-i-nof-ros-oo'-nay) which means lowliness of mind; viz: modesty, which Webster's defines as freedom from conceit or vanity. Lowliness of mind is to be greatly desired for its blessing.

Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Humility is very rare on internet forums. Active members are typically easily insulted and infected with vanity; plus imperious, domineering, despotic, assertive, confrontational, arrogant, conceited, reactive, thin-skinned, self-righteous, emotional, critical, and defensive. Those are not what I would call good Christian attributes. They also have a propensity to jump to conclusions, get the wrong impression, and fly off the handle. Those aren't good Christian attributes either; in point of fact; none of those attributes are blessing-worthy.

"Grace" is one of those ambiguous abstract nouns that nobody seems to agree upon. Noah found grace in God's eyes (Gen 6:8) which in his case, regarded providence; which can be defined as kindly patronage. It was by God's providence that Noah and his family survived the Flood while the sons of God and their harems didn't. Let that sink in. Just because people label themselves a Christian, and profess a belief in Christ, is no guarantee they'll escape the horrors of the book of Revelation. Noah was a righteous man, and perfect in his generation; too many of today's card-carrying Christians are neither.

The Greek word for "proud" is huperephanos (hoop-er-ay'-fan-os) which means appearing above others, viz: haughty. Those kinds of people typically regard others with contempt, i.e. undeserving of respect or even so much as common courtesy. Haughty people are typically cruel, thoughtless, insensitive, and badly infected with a superiority complex, which goes hand in hand with arrogance: defined as an exaggerated sense of one's importance, sometimes manifested in an overbearing manner.

Arrogant people can be intolerably pushy and assertive at times; standing up to them usually always provokes an indignant reaction and a call to arms, so to speak, because these folk regard any and all disagreements with their way of thinking as demeaning attacks upon their core values and their distorted sense of self worth. These people have very little interest in harmony; they're stand-up fighters whose primary interest is winning and/or suppressing the opposition.

Seeing as how Heaven is reputed a place of peace, then the arrogant, the haughty, and the proud cannot be allowed to go there with their impious personalities. For sure they'd just end up making things very uncomfortable for Heaven's normally mild-mannered, affable society.

 487) 1Pet 5:6 . . Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time

Humility is defined by Webster's as ranking low in a hierarchy or scale, e.g. Matt 18:4, Matt 23:2-7, Luke 14:8-11, Luke 22:24-27, and John 13:12-17

It's said that familiarity breeds contempt. I think perhaps quite a few of us are so accustomed to having Jesus and his Father in our lives that we forget just how high above us they really are.

The Christian social skills taught in the Bible prepare us for the day when everybody will be required to meet Christ face to face. If we can master those skills down here, then the quality of our etiquette will be satisfactory enough for associating up there with not only Christ, but also his Father.

488) 1Pet 5:7 . . casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.

That command is very difficult for a person afflicted with Reactive Attachment Disorder; which is basically the inability to believe that even one person in the whole universe cares a whit about your welfare.

RAD is characterized by the inability to trust. For example: when a RAD victim reads 1Pet 5:7, they're likely to brush it off as true for others, but has no application to themselves. RAD is a very effective faith-inhibitor.

NOTE: There are two varieties of love in the New Testament: one is a civil kind of love that's exercised in behaviors like courtesy, kindness, tolerance, lenience, sympathy, condolences, and respect for human rights. The other is a bonding kind of love that's expressed in feelings like affection and fondness.

God's civil love is seen in passages like John 3:16, whereas His affection and fondness are restricted to those closest to Him; for example:

John 16:27 . .The Father himself loves you dearly because you love me, and believe that I came from God.

489) 1Pet 5:8-9 . . Be discreet, stay alert. Your adversary, the Devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour; whom resist, steadfast in the faith

The word "discreet" is translated from the Greek word nepho (nay'-fo) which basically means to abstain from wine. Well; you know the first thing to go when too much alcohol gets in your system is judgment; especially what's known as better judgment; viz: there are things that people do when under the influence that they would never do when sober. Alcohol loosens people up, slackens their inhibitions, makes them let their guard down, makes them careless, clumsy, inefficient, and certainly less intelligent even when their normal IQ is in the hundreds.

Lest someone get the wrong idea; Peter isn't forbidding drink; rather, getting tipsy. If you're one of those rare people with good self control, alcohol poses no threat to your spiritual condition, But if you're one of the many with an unbreakable habit of always exceeding their limit; then I'd have to say that, relative to God's favor vs satanic predation, total abstinence is really the only sensible option.

"the faith" isn't only a collection of beliefs, but includes a collection of practices, i.e. behaviors; since according to James, faith without practices is a half-baked faith.

Jas 1:22-25 . . And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don't obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don't obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into God's perfect law— the law that sets you free —and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

490) 2Pet 1:5-7 . . Make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

All those things listed by the apostle Peter are "supplements" defined by Webster's as things that are added.

If Peter's list is chronological, then it's evident that believers are not supposed to start with love and work towards faith, rather they're supposed to start with faith and work towards love, viz: unloving believers are still believers yes, but they've plenty of room for personal improvement. Their confidence in Christ's crucifixion as a price he paid to ransom their souls from the wrath of God is good, but it's only the beginning; a foundation upon which Peter urges them to accumulate the traits on his list.

The Greek word for "virtue" is arete (ar-et'-ay) which basically refers to the strength, and the courage, to stand for what's right.

The word for "knowledge" is gnosis (gno'-sis) which basically refers to information obtained by teaching, instruction, and study rather than known naturally by intuition and/or instinct.

The word for "self-control" is egkrateia (eng-krat'-i-ah) which means: continence. The opposite of continence is incontinence; which is the condition where a person cannot restrain their natural impulses.

The word for "perseverance" is hupomone (hoop-om-on-ay') which means: cheerful (or hopeful) constancy. A hupomone person always keeps looking for the light that they know is at the end of the tunnel; and even if they can't see it for now; they fully expect to.

The word for "godliness" is eusebeia (yoo-seb'-i-ah) which means: piety; defined by Webster's as dutifulness in religion; viz: devoutness; i.e. dedication.

The word for "brotherly kindness" is philadelphia (fil-ad-el-fee'-ah) which means fraternal affection; i.e. fondness. In these days of dysfunctional homes in the USA, fraternal affection has no point of reference in the thinking of some people because they've never seen it, nor ever experienced it. Is it any wonder then that so many homes in America are producing sociopaths, and kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder?

The word for "love" is agape (ag-ah'-pay) which may or may not contain the elements of affection and fondness; but always contains the element of benevolence.

Benevolent people are good folk; they're typically helpful, kind, generous, cordial, hospitable, courteous, tolerant, sympathetic, loyal, and civil.

Agape was a sorely-missing element in my three years of service in the US Army from 1961 to 1964. The men disliked each other; and the men disliked the officers and non-coms; and they in turn disliked the men. Everybody mistrusted each other and each guy had at the most only a couple of guys in my whole 200-man unit he could lean on. That lack of agape had an impact on unit cohesiveness and made America's enemies seem more like friends than foes.

I really appreciate Charlie Sheen's line towards the end of the Hollywood movie "PLATOON". It goes something like this: "I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy— we fought ourselves . . . and the enemy was in us." That line is profound; and an excellent companion to a line in "Terminator 2, Judgment Day" when Arnold Schwarzenegger commented to the young John Connor: "It is in your nature to destroy yourselves."

491) 2Pet 3:1-2 . . Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of The Lord and Savior.

I just don't know why so many professing Christians insist that it's unnecessary for believers to study the Old Testament when Peter insisted just the opposite. The Greek word for "mindful" is mimnesko (mim-nace'-ko) which means: to recall to mind; viz: to keep in mind; to never dismiss, discard, nor forget.

Luke 24:44-45 . . And he said unto them: These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.

The "scriptures" to which Jesus referred are those of the Old Testament since there was as yet none compiled for the New.

1Cor 10:11 . . These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.

The "things that happened to them" refer to the adventures of Moses' people during their forty years in the wilderness prior to entering the promised land; which consists of the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Those are things that Paul says believers should know. (1Cor 10:1)

2Tim 3:13-17 . . But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God; and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul's instructions to his friend Timothy targeted pastors; of whom Paul says are ill equipped to do their jobs if they don't study the Old Testament.

Rom 15:4 . . For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through patience, and the counseling of the scriptures, we might have hope.

The Greek word for "hope" in that passage is elpis (el-pece') which doesn't mean to cross your fingers and hope for the best. It means to expect; viz: to anticipate, usually with pleasure and confidence. The world's hope consists of little more than longing, while the believer's hope is in the bag and that's why he can look forward to it rather than wish for it.

According to Paul, elpis hope is reinforced by studying the Old Testament so that believers who neglect the Old Testament are more likely to suffer doubts about their future than a believer who studies the Old just as diligently as he studies the New. And besides, the Old and New are not two separate Bibles; no, there is only one Bible. and it is a continuous revelation from front to back; ergo: people who choose the New Testament as their Bible are working with an incomplete revelation.

But back to Peter's statement: "the commandment of us, the apostles of The Lord and Savior." Too many Christians regard the apostles' writings in the epistles as merely information rather than divine edicts that Christ expects to be obeyed just as much as he expects his own personal words to be obeyed. Failure to obey the apostles' writings in the epistles is a domino effect of insubordination all the way to the top.

Luke 10:16 . .Whoever listens to you; listens to me. Whoever rejects you; rejects me. And whoever rejects me; rejects the one who sent me.

492) 2Pet 3:8-10 . . Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with The Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of The Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Humans have but a short time in the grand scheme of things to accomplish their ambitions before death catches up with them and puts a cap to all their hopes and dreams.

Ps 145:4 . .Who, breathing his last, returns to the earth; that day all his planning comes to nothing.

But God is under no such time constraints. He exists in eternity; viz: God always was, He always is, and He always will be. As such, God is at liberty to take as much time as He pleases to work things out.

It's theorized by a number of scientists and laymen alike that a big bang initiated the cosmos. Well for sure a big bang will end it; and that's not a theory: that's a divine prediction.

The Bible says The Lord's return will be of a sudden (Luke 17:24, Rev 22:20) but sudden is not the same as soon.

2Pet 3:11-12 . . Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

I've noticed that some people endeavor to leave themselves a legacy in the form of all sorts of man-made structures like highways, buildings, libraries, museums, stadiums, bridges, dams, etc. Those structures are neither permanent nor eternal. One day; they'll all disappear in a tremendous cataclysm: defined by Webster's as a momentous and violent event marked by overwhelming upheaval and demolition.

493) 2Pet 3:14 . .Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless

Christians heavily involved in political activism and/or civil disobedience really need to stop what they're doing because too often those pursuits are neither conducive to peace nor even legal.

Ps 37:11 . .The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

494) 2Pet 3:17 . .You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness,

"unprincipled" is translated from the Greek word athesmos (ath'-es-mos) which appears in only two places in the entire New Testament; once here and once in 2Pet 2:7 speaking of the manner of life of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah of whom the Bible says: "The men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly, and sinners against The Lord. (Gen 13:13)

In other words: the people of Sodom weren't just defiant; they were outright impudent; knowing full well that their ways were offensive to God, but they didn't care whether He liked it or not.

The Greek word translated "steadfastness" is sterigmos (stay-rig-mos') which appears in no other place in the New Testament but right here so we don't have other passages to compare and thus help us understand what Peter means by it.

Sterigmos basically refers to stability; defined by Webster's as resistance to change, i.e. the ability to withstand force or stress without being distorted, dislodged, or damaged.

Resistance to change doesn't imply impervious to change; in other words; it's possible to weaken the kind of steadfastness Peter was talking about.

The word for "error" is plane (plan'-ay) which means, among other things, fraud and deception, e.g. false impressions; hopes based upon conjecture and/or wishful thinking, false premises, and wrong ideas— even when innocent. Honest mistakes are still mistakes, and their consequences can be just as serious as willful steps in the wrong direction.

495) 2Pet 3:18 . . But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A gracious person is honest, kind, courteous, inclined to good will, generous, cheerful, reliable, trustworthy, faithful, genial, sociable, generous, thoughtful, patient, lenient, tolerant, temperate, approachable, helpful, peaceable, charitable, altruistic, compassionate, sympathetic, cordial, proper, elegant, polite, genteel, reasonable, affable, agreeable, genial, cheerful, warm, sensitive, hospitable, considerate, diplomatic, and tactful.

Why the instruction to grow in grace? Because people in Heaven are nothing like the churlish race of brutish hominids infesting the world down here. Heaven's society is populated with really nice folk: they're good people; the best of the best. Unrefined behavior doesn't fit in there; it's a fish out of water. Thoughtless clods would likely hate the place anyway; and very definitely disgust God and annoy Him to no end.

496) 1John 2:24 . . Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

Now; the trick to abiding in Jesus Christ is to first off have at your disposal the correct way to go about it. Well; that is not so easy sans the possession of a special anointing.

1John 2:26-27 . .These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. And as for you, the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

So then, we may conclude from 1John 2:26-27 that people lacking the anointing:

1» Are susceptible to deception

2» Have very possibly bought into a lie and don't know it, because that's the nature of deception: it's stealthy

3» Do not have in their possession the information one needs to abide in him

4» Are not abiding in him

That describes the spiritual condition of pretty much every Watchtower Society missionary that comes to our doors because they quite candidly admit they do not have the anointing nor do they ever expect to obtain it; neither in this life nor the next.

497) 1John 2:28 . . And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

Jesus had quite a bit to say about abiding in him at John 15:1-10; which is just about an impossibility if the little children give no time to studying the New Testament either by private Bible reading, Sunday school classes, sermons, seminars, books, and/or radio Bible programs.

Rom 12:2 . . Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is— His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Jas 1:21 . . Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

But knowledge is only a part of abiding in him. It's essential to work Christ's teachings into one's life in order to be sure they won't be ashamed in his presence.

Jas 1:22-25 . . Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

. . . But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it— he will be blessed in what he does.

498) 1John 3:6-8 . .Whoever abides in him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who sins is of the Devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

John started off by saying: "whoever abides in him does not sin".

This is tricky because according to 1John 1:8-10 even the apostle John sinned; and surely no one would suggest that John didn't abide in Christ; nor dare say that he had neither seen Christ nor known him.

In a nutshell: "He who sins is of the Devil" refers to people whose religion and/or whose spiritual ideology is something other than Christianity. Those outside of Christianity are practicing unrighteousness; while those inside Christianity are practicing righteousness. Bottom line: the practice of Christianity is the right thing to do while the practice of all other religions and/or spiritual ideologies is the wrong thing to do.


500) 1John 3:11-12 . . For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another— not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous.

The curious thing about Cain is that he was religious, but he wasn't pious. In other words: Cain's association with God seems to have been based entirely upon ritual with apparently little thought given to personal conduct. Cain couldn't even keep a civil tongue in his head when speaking to the object of his worship. Now that's really messed up.

501) 1John 3:18 . . My little children, let us not love only in word or in tongue, but in deed, and in truth.

What is truth? (John 18:38)

Pilate's question was meaningful in his day because ancient philosophers perpetually discussed and debated the nature of truth without ever achieving a universal agreement about it. In other words: their bull sessions were perpetual, and they never got to the bottom of anything.

Well; one of Webster's definitions of "truth" is: a state of being the case; viz: fact; which Webster's defines as the quality of being actual. In other words: truth is the way it is; viz: truth is reality as opposed to speculation, fantasy, opinion, error, inaccuracy, inexactness, theory, imagination, and false impressions, etc.

The trick to loving in truth is first of all knowing the truth.

Well to begin with; "thy word is truth" (John 17:17). So the Bible is the Christian's first choice as a source of truth relative to love.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Rom 12:2)

There are no short-cuts to the truth. The good path is according to Eph 4:11-15; viz: by teachers and preachers. I do not recommend the self-taught route. People who go that way usually end up with disinformation lodged in their heads that is not easily corrected. Beware.

"Some of Paul's comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters around to mean something quite different from what he meant, just as they do the other parts of Scripture— and the result is disaster for them." (2Pet 3:16)

Love in accordance with truth may at times seem very unloving to the world because it doesn't know the truth, nor does it care to know. I think a fair percentage of the world would agree with Pilate that truth is uncertain and unknowable.

The Greek word translated "deed" is ergon (er'-gon) which primarily has to do with toil as an effort or occupation; but can also imply the way people act, i.e. the things they do as opposed to the things they say. Some Christians can tell you all about love, and readily quote the classic scriptures about love, but seem utterly incapable of exemplifying any of it.

502) 1John 4:1 . . Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

The Greek word for "spirits" is pneuma (pnyoo'-mah) which means, among other things; a current of air; viz: winds and breezes. I doubt that John is talking about supernatural beings, rather, spurious doctrines. (Eph 4:14)

The common Greek word translated "prophet" is prophetes (prof-ay'-tace) which essentially identifies a foreteller; i.e. someone who claims to know something about the future.

Jesus said that false prophets are known by their fruits (Matt 7:15-20). For example: the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has predicted Christ's return and Armageddon several times in the past and been wrong every time. Well; if their predictions are false, then we have to assume that their teachings are highly suspect no matter how reasonable they may sound. Below is a paraphrase of Eph 4:14 that applies to religions like the Watchtower Society's.

Relative to Eph 4:11-13 Paul wrote:

"Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth."

503) 1John 4:20-21 . . If someone says "I love God," and hates his brother, he's a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

NOTE: The commandment referenced is located at John 13:34

The Greek word translated "liar" isn't restricted to hard-core dishonesty, but applies to anyone whose statements can be proven unsound; including misrepresenting themselves, whether deliberate or mistaken makes no difference. In other words: we could paraphrase the above to read: If anyone says "I love God" and hates his brother, he's in need of correction.

In my opinion "liar" is a harsh description to pin on somebody, and I really think we ought to reserve it for people who we know for sure are fully aware that what they are saying is untrue. (This is only a suggestion. I'm not attempting to issue an edict here.)

The Greek word for "love" throughout 1John 4:20-21 is agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o) which is an indistinct word for love that may or may not include affection and fondness; but it certainly includes things like civility, courtesy, generosity, lenience, tolerance, charity, kindness, patience, forgiveness, diplomacy, humility, hospitality, sympathy, respect, tact, etc.

I think that what John is trying to get across is that inconsiderate treatment of a child of God betrays one's lack of consideration for a father's feelings; which is the behavior of a churlish Christian rather than a spiritual Christian.

504) 1John 5:16-17 . . If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

The most common sins unto death are those classified as capital crimes; viz: those for which the death penalty is the right thing to do. It would be a miscarriage of justice to pray somebody out of that jam. If the courts and the laws of the land have decided that they must die; then they must die; and that's that.

If a fellow believer is on death row for a capital offense; it's best to stay out of it and let God and the courts handle it. Christians on death row should be encouraged to man-up (or woman-up, as the case may be) and face the music rather than expect sympathy from either their church or their Christian friends. Christians who pray for the release of believers on death row for capital crimes are not only attempting to obstruct justice, but also in shameful rebellion against Almighty God's sovereign edicts.

Rom 13:3-4 . . For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

FAQ: What does this mean? "God will give him life"

A: It's quite possible that a fellow Christian's conduct is sinful, but in their own honest opinion it's not. The kind of life spoken of in this passage is an enlightenment that pierces into the conscience and improves its sensibilities enough to persuade the errant Christian to take the initiative to rectify their mistakes. (cf. Gal 6:1)

505) 1John 5:21 . . Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

The Greek word for "idols" is eidolon (i'-do-lon) which means: an image (for worship) viz: by implication, a heathen god.

Most modern Christians know better than to worship a figurine or a statue as their god, but not all know better than to set up a figurine or a statue— i.e. a shrine —where they can kneel and pray for providence; not from God, but from the person whom the statue or figurine represents; e.g. a patron saint and/or Jesus' mom.

Religious art such as paintings and sculptures don't really qualify as idols until somebody gets a little too carried away; for example:

There's a statue of the apostle Peter in Rome whose big toe has been eroded over the years by the lips of people kissing it. I would have to say that easily qualifies as idolatry. I've no objection to paintings, statues, and stained glass, but when people kneel to, pray to, speak to, and/or kiss those items, then I believe they've trespassed into forbidden territory, and broken the very first of the Ten Commandments.

Deut 4:15-16 . . Be strictly on your guard not to act corruptly by fashioning an idol for yourselves to represent any figure, whether it be the form of a man or of a woman.

Using that as a guideline, I would have to say that praying to, and/or looking to, patron saints and/or Jesus' mom for providence easily qualifies as both polytheism and idolatry; as well as marginalizes God and diminishes one's affections for Him. If somebody loves The Lord their God with all their heart, all their soul, all their mind, and all their strength, as per Mark 12:30, there will be nothing left for patron saints, Jesus' mom, and/or artworks and statuary; thus idolatry would never be an issue.

NOTE: Idolatry back in Paul's day oftentimes included immoral activities with temple prostitutes. We sure wouldn't want Christ's believing followers involved in that sort of thing.

1Cor 6:15-18 . . Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with The Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

506) 2John 1:5-6 . . And now I beseech you, lady, not as writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

The precise identity of the "lady" of this epistle is impossible to know for sure. Some have construed it to be Christ's mom, and yet others as a local church to which John mailed his letter, while others believe it refers to the church as per Matt 16:18. I tend to think it was a local church since 2John 1:13 indicates the lady had a sister; viz: a sister church.

The first of the two loves in the passage is agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o) which is a verb. The second love is agape (ag-ah'-pay) which is a noun. Neither of those two words specifically refer to either affection or fondness.

Things like courtesy, generosity, loyalty, sympathy, kindness, civility, and charity can all be extended to one's fellow Christians without especially liking them; in point of fact, we may even wholly despise them with every fiber of our being. But we dare not allow our low opinion to dictate how we treat them.

Anyway, the bottom line is: though Christians obsess and chirp about love till the cows come home, the bald fact is that if they are not complying with Christ's commandments in their association with other believers, then as persons they have little to commend them.

NOTE: Christianity is a very practical religion. It not only brings sinners into a right relationship with their creator, but it also makes them better people; viz: makes them more civil and humane.

507) 2John 1:8 . .Watch yourselves, that we might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.

The Greek word for "lose" is apollumi (ap-ol'-loo-mee) which doesn't mean to lose as if stolen or misplaced, but rather, it means to lose something by its destruction like when people's homes were demolished in New Orleans by the hurricane Katrina.

Apparently it's okay if your successor wrecks what you've accomplished for Christ because that will be on their head. Just make sure you yourself don't do anything to wreck it; and it doesn't really take all that much: a little adultery, a little immorality, a little fraud, a little embezzling, a little dishonesty, a little abuse of power, a little hypocrisy, a little dereliction of duty, a failure to honor promises and commitments; et al.

Take for example Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He started off as an okay Christian minister ordained to serve Jesus Christ, and then deserted the sheep that Christ entrusted to his care and diverted his energies to political activism. King's pastoral work went abandoned and neglected; and he cheated on his wife too.

Moral of the story is: nobody is twisting anybody's arm to commit to serving Jesus Christ; but once the commitment is made: then they'd do well to hold fast, stay the course, and not get distracted.

Luke 9:62 . . No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.

2Tim 2:4 . . As Christ's soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army.

Two things that Christ and his Father value very highly are integrity and loyalty. When those are someone's guiding lights; the likelihood of their bottom line with God showing a profit, instead of a loss, is greatly improved.

508) 2John 1:10-11 . . If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

The greeting in view is the holy kiss mentioned in Rom 16:16, 1Cor 16:20, 2Cor 3:12, 1Thess 5:26, and 1Pet 5 :14. The holy kiss is reserved for brethren, not for outsiders.

Some have construed 2John 1:10-11 to mean believers are forbidden to respond to a knock on their door by Latter Day Saints and Jehovah's witnesses, or invite them in for a chat. That's not really what John's saying.

In his day, missionaries were put up in people's homes during their travels; thus assisting them in their mission. So then, if you greet cultists as brethren, and/or put them up for the night, or assist them in any way to accomplish their mission, then you become an accomplice; and that includes buying flowers from Moonies.

509) 3John 1:5-8 . . Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth.

The "Gentiles" in this instance can be considered another word for unbelievers because that's what most of the non-Israelites were thought of by Jews in the Roman world of that day.

Paul and his contemporaries did not stoop to the despicable practice of selling tickets to their meetings, and/or passing the hat among the crowds that gathered to hear them. No, just as the Old Testament's priests were supported by their constituents, so Christ prefers to draw support from his own rather than from strangers; for example Luke 4:41 where Jesus forbid demons to identify him.

510) 3John 1:11-12 . . Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.

The "one who does evil" refers is a believer who habitually give in to their base nature instead of resisting it.

For now, it isn't possible to literally feast your glims on the actual person of God. But what John's saying is that believers who do evil are somehow unaware who they're dealing with. I think one of the more serious temptations is for Christians to take their God for granted; and to forget that first and foremost He's a monarch who frowns upon insurrection in His kingdom. God may be your Father, but He's your sovereign too.

Mal 1:6 . . A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?

1Pet 1:17 . . And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

The Greek word for "fear" in that verse is phobos (fob'-os) which means: alarm or fright. In other words: a little Theophobia goes a long ways towards giving God the degree of respect He not only wants; but also fully deserves. If it's unwise to trifle with rattlesnakes, high voltage electrical wires, arsenic, and IRS audits; then surely it's agreeable that it's just as unwise to trifle with God.

Inquiring minds can "see" God on the pages of holy writ by means of The Lord's personal tutoring.

Matt 11:27 . . No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son: and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

So then, a believer who's lazy at Bible study, and/or indifferent to complying with Christianity's commandments, will fail to see God, and subsequently, they will fail to imitate Him simply because they don't know enough about their Father in order to utilize Him as a role model.

Eph 5:1 . .Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children

511) Jude 1:3 . . Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Given the peace-loving nature of true God-given Christianity, I seriously doubt that Jude means Christians should get involved in inquisitions and crusades. Instead, contending for the faith means taking a serious interest in helping to prevent your Church from becoming infected with, and/or influenced by, godless ideologies; especially liberalism and so-called political correctness.

512) Jude 1:20-21 . . But you, beloved— building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit —keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

"keep yourselves in the love of God" is somewhat vague. It can indicate God's love for the believer, and/or it can indicate the believer's love for God. I tend to suspect it's both because Jesus said:

John 14:15 . . If you love me, you will obey what I command

John 14:21 . .Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him

John 15:9-10 . . As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.

The Greek word translated "keep" is very ambiguous. One of its meanings refers to safe-guarding and/or protecting so as to prevent loss.

It's impossible for a believer to stop God from caring for them, but by their conduct they can, and they often do, make it difficult for Him to actually like them.

Prayer in the Holy Spirit simply means to communicate with heaven via the God-given method rather than one's own, or a method prescribed by one's denomination; i.e. man-made methods. The protocol has to be God-given or else your thoughts will just bounce off heaven's door like popcorn off the side of a brick house.

The mercy spoken of is one's resurrection to a permanent, immortal body; which is something that Jude says them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ and called should anticipate, viz: not just wish for, but instead fully, and confidently, expect to obtain. (Phil 3:20-21, 1John 3:2-3)

513) Jude 1:22-23 . . On some have compassion, making a distinction; but others rescue with fright, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

Some Christians are offended by fright because it violates their concept of love. But fright can be a good thing if it's applied judiciously. For instance: it is just as wise to be afraid of God as it is wise to be afraid of cactus spines, a mule's kick, and/or a forest fire.

Christians neglecting to build themselves up on their most holy faith, to pray in the Holy Spirit, to keep themselves in the love of God, and to look for the mercy of their Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life; are seriously off-reservation. Some are so far off-reservation that somebody needs to get in their face and confront them about their condition, even if it means becoming harsh, insensitive, and judgmental because stray Christians are also away from God's providence; and that is a very risky situation to be in.

Some off-reservation Christians can be stopped from destroying themselves; while others are too far gone. Of those with possibilities, counselors have to use a little God-given common sense as it isn't necessary to employ fright with everyone— just the ones who are particularly difficult. Some people can be reasoned with, while others only understand fear and can be persuaded to move in the right direction only by lighting a fire under them, so to speak.

514) Rev 14:6-7 . . And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the everlasting gospel to preach to the people who dwell on the earth— to every nation, tribe, language, and people. Fear God! he shouted. Give glory to Him! For the time has come when He will sit as judge. Worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all the springs of water!

The everlasting gospel is very elementary. Pretty much all it says is:

1• There's a supreme being.

2• He deserves respect.

3• There's a frightful reckoning looming on the horizon, and

4• The cosmos— all of its forms of life, matter, and energy —is the product of intelligent design.

Giving glory to God basically requires giving Him credit where credit is due; and worship basically consists of admiration, reverence, applause, and dignity.

The everlasting gospel's points are as valid in our day as they will be in the days ahead; viz: the everlasting gospel is timeless.

The End



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