Christ's Ways


There's been times during my twenty-plus years of internet forum activity when I'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 I 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 my opinion inadequate for taking Christ's believing followers to infinity and beyond, so to speak.

Some years ago, just for the fun of it, I 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 I realized that his instructions, accompanied by a little commentary, would make a pretty good devotional.

I 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 as per Matt 28:19-20.

FYI: Should someone prefer a better quality devotional than ours; there's a very popular one available online and in print called Our Daily Bread that's been around for a long time. It's not only instructional; but also quite entertaining, and it's available in children's versions too.


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.

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

3) Rom 6:12 . . Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

4) Rom 6:13 . . 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 avoidances "reasonable". In other words: Is it asking too much of Christ's followers to keep themselves pure?

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 —we're 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 there's radio programs too, e.g. Thru The Bible with Dr. J. Vernon McGee. 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 go where Christ's teachers were in order to hear them speak. Nowadays, they come to speak right where we are 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 the 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 koiné 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.

NOTE: Internet forums have given many of Christ's obscure followers a convenient venue for sharing their time-won knowledge and experience with a worldwide audience. For the world's sake, I highly recommend making an effort to compose legible posts; neatly arranged, sensible, and tidy.

Shouting with king-size bold letters, scribbly italics, lack of adequate paragraphing, twitter spelling, unnecessary emogies, horrible grammar, and a confusing mixture of fonts, sizes, and colors, makes for tiresome clutter and annoying forum graffiti that leave a bad impression.

I rather suspect that some people regard forums as a canvas for painting their comments instead of composing them. Well; that might be okay for outsiders, they can be as messy as they want because it doesn't matter. But for those of us who honestly believe ourselves to be representing God's son; it's unacceptable.

Phil 1:27 . . Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

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

You know who really benefits from encouragement in a big way? Little kids. Thoughtless grown-ups can break a growing child's fragile spirit by criticizing them all the time and never once giving them an "atta boy" 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 flattery is all the same as treachery.

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.

“Christmas is a poor excuse every 25th of December to pick a man's pockets.”
Scrooge / A Christmas Carol / 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.

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

That would probably correspond to incidents like the one depicted in the parable of the man attacked by road agents in Luke 10:30-36. In that instance, a passerby had the skills and the wherewithal to provide care for a total stranger in need.

Personally, I'm not much at first aid and/or emergency medical services. But what we're getting at here is that should you find yourself in circumstances where you can be of genuine, effective assistance; don't lend a hand grudging. It ought to make Christians happy to be of assistance instead of getting irritated and grumpy about an unexpected inconvenience.

A solo Pacific Crest Trail hiker named Cheryl Strayed, in her book WILD, recounts an evening wherein she was very low on funds and having no luck locating a suitable place in the woods to set up her tent before it got really dark. Cheryl found her way into a fee campground and set up at the extreme end of the facility where she thought no one would mind; but later that night the caretakers came by and, in a not-so-friendly tone, insisted that she either pay the $12 fee or break camp and leave.

The "Christian" thing to do would have been to take Cheryl's I.O.U. and loan her the fee instead of forcing a woman to wander out into the pitch black forest all alone at night. The PCT is dangerous enough in daytime, but night is much worse, even with a strong camper's headlamp.

NOTE: The law is the law and rules are rules, that's true but according to Jesus' teachings; there are instances when human need— e.g. health, safety, and welfare —come first. His hard-hearted, strictly by-the-book religious opponents just couldn't get that through their thick skulls. (cf. Ex 1:15-21)

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

Webster's defines "pretense" as fiction, make-believe, and/or simulation. Ironically, pretense is foundational to ordinary civility and common courtesy. But when it comes to love; Christians should never put on a front. In other words: don't lead someone on to believe you care about them when in reality you don't. That's not only dishonest; it's cruel.

I once asked a rather incompetent Sunday school teacher, in so many words, whether feelings play a role in Christianity. He said that feelings are emotions and therefore insignificant. Well; I have to disagree.

Col 3:12 . . Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies

The koiné Greek word for "bowels" in that passage is splagchnon (splangkh'-non) which basically refers to one's intestines; i.e. the tummy; which says to me that bowels of mercies are emotions rather than just good manners.

In other words: real love isn't a non emotional academic concept; it contains things like pity, sympathy, empathy, compassion, thoughtfulness, and sensitivity. Real love is easily mimicked, but not all that easy to feel; especially by people who, by nature, are more monster than human.

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 or easy.

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

The Greek word translated "good" is agathos (ag-ath-os') which refers to good in just about every sense imaginable, e.g. beneficial, fitting, suitable, acceptable, adequate, all right, alright, creditable, decent, fine, useful, commendable, nice, OK (or okay), passable, respectable, satisfactory, serviceable, sufficient, well— everything from doing good, tasting good, looking good, to sounding good, etc.

Christian CEOs on the boards of multi-national corporations have my sympathy. Good luck complying with Rom 12:9c.

I recently watched a very interesting documentary on NetFlix that analyzed corporations; and they found that corporations, as a personality, typically exhibit all five of the psychopathic behaviors listed below.

• Callous unconcern for the feelings of others.

• Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.

• Reckless disregard for the safety of others.

• Deceit and dissembling; viz: repeated lying, suppressing information, stretching the truth, and conning others for profit.

• Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors.

One of corporate America's more shameful management practices is the exploitation of foreign poverty, cheap labor, defenseless employees, minimal safety requirements, and hardly any environmental regulations in order to keep costs down and the bottom lines of quarterly reports up. It's all about profits with corporations; while the human suffering exploited to obtain them is collateral damage, so to speak; and nowhere has that been more prevalent than the manufacture of textiles and garments.

One of corporate America's more shameful management practices is the exploitation of foreign poverty, cheap labor, defenseless employees, minimal safety requirements, and hardly any environmental regulations in order to keep costs down and the bottom lines of quarterly reports up. It's all about profits with corporations; and nowhere has that been more prevalent than the manufacture of textiles and garments.

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

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 entirely hopeless because Christianity isn't a do-it-yourself religion; it's a supernatural religion.

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.

Some might argue that verse is talking about the future. Well; their argument is okay as far as it goes, but doesn't go far enough. It's futile to resurrect a mortal body because it would be still be mortal; i.e. vulnerable to disease, aging, and death. No, the "life" that Rom 8:11 is talking about is a benefit package defined as the fruit of the Spirit; spoken of in Gal 5:19-25. One of the benefits in that package is love.

A heads up to affection-challenged people: The fruit of the Spirit 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 heart and makes you sensitive, compassionate, and empathetic . . . for real.

People who've never felt those kinds of feelings before would be overwhelmed were love to come upon them in full power. Fortunately the fruit of the Spirit doesn't come on people all at once; instead, the fruit sort of grows on people a little at a time; sort of like gradually bringing a frog up to the boiling point by starting him out in cold water.

Of course the process is lethal to the frog; but I'm only using the doomed amphibian as an analogy rather than a reality. The fruit of the Spirit is life rather than death. So the fruit gradually brings people up from a cold dead heart to a warm living heart.

NOTE: The fruit of the Spirit isn't a particularly Christian thing. It was predicted for the Jews many, many years prior to the New Testament in Ezekiel 36:24-27.

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

Christians infected with narcissistic personality disorder will find that rule difficult, if not impossible, to obey. It's 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 them.

I should think that most alpha achievers would have trouble complying 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 "below" 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 koiné 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. highly motivated —which is just the opposite of half-hearted, lukewarm, and/or procrastinating.

A touching example of the kind of reliability I'm talking about is Boaz. He made a promise to Ruth that goes like this:

Ruth 3:11-13 . . And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as The Lord liveth

That man must've had a reputation in Bethlehem as someone you could believe because here's Naomi's response upon hearing all about Ruth's midnight experience.

Ruth 3:18 . .Then Naomi said: Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.

And sure enough, Naomi knew what she was talking about: Boaz got right to it just as he promised.

Here's an interesting thought. If Christ's followers are required to be reliable, don't you think Christ would be required to be reliable too?

Well; I tend to think that Christ not only leads by decree, but by example too; and I, for one, am counting on him to honor his promises and his commitments: not just some of them; all of them; especially the one below.

John 10:7-9 . . I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever enters through me will be saved."

Were Christ a so-so shepherd instead of the the good shepherd he claims to be; then he wouldn't dare say "will be" saved; no, he'd have to tone it down a bit and say "can be" saved. That would allow him some room for error. But when Christ says "will be" he's claiming a 0.0% failure rate.

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 item #21. For all they know, God has outer darkness planned for them. That's not something to be glad about.

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, failure, 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, 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 not demented nor suffering from onset Alzheimer's, but nevertheless, I'm disintegrating, 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.

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, approachable, accommodating, and relaxing to be with.

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

The koiné Greek word for "persecute" is dioko (dee-o'-ko) which 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; and they are pretty good at finding ways to do it.

Christians are under orders to remain civil with people deliberately out to get them; and not let snipers discourage the practice of hospitality. If they want to behave like predators, that's their choice; just be careful you don't choose to react in kind.

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

A number of factors play a role in the making of an insensitive clod; one of which is defective areas of the brain called amygdalae. In brief, the amygdalae control, to a large extent, our emotions; i.e. our feelings, especially relative to empathy.

Normal amygdalae make it possible to commiserate; which can be roughly defined as feeling sympathy and/or compassion as opposed to just going thru the motions. For example: I heard somewhere that half of us go to funerals to honor folk we couldn't be bothered with when they were alive and then lie through out teeth when we tell the family "I'm sorry for your loss."

Defective amygdalae are usually a genetic problem; i.e. people with them were born that way. So, they are going to have a pretty difficult time of it when it comes to sharing in the happiness and/or the sorrow of others.

"Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?" (Jer 13:23)

The answer to both those questions is of course NO; like they say: you can't get blood out of a turnip. So then, how is it reasonable to expect empathy-challenged Christians to share the happiness of happy people and/or the sorrows of sad people?

Well; it isn't reasonable, but neither is it hopeless seeing as how a portion of the fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal 5:22). In other words: there's a supernatural remedy for personality disorders. (cf. Ezek 36:26)

BTW: 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 Christian life as insensitive mannequins: heartless, cold, and metallic; sort of like the Tin Woodsman of the Wizard of Oz— without a heart, he 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 diplomacy, 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 hostility. It's far and away better for Christians to be diplomatic than to 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; 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 koiné 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.

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

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.

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? It's Christ's wishes.

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 of late Pope Francis himself has been saying it's wrong. But according to the passage above, and the one below, capital punishment is 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, 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.

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.

There is currently throughout America a wave of hate, hysteria, and disrespect for the U.S. President the intensity of which is unlike anything I've ever seen in my 73 years on this planet. I should hope that none of Christ's followers get caught up in it. We don't have to particularly like Mr. Trump, but we do have to honor his position. Don't be a Mordecai— Esther's guardian is not a suitable role model for Christ's followers.

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 koiné 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 pert near impossible to avoid; but debt is okay 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 as 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.

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.

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 The Lord; adopt his integrity, his principles and his core values. But don't guess at them; learn them, from someone that the Lord has empowered to teach for him as 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, 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.

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.

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 gray-area beliefs and practices.

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

The koiné 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 orators employ to persuade people to do things contrary to their convictions and their conscience. In other words; there are people out there with the skills to make a lie sound like the God's truth (cf. Eph 4:11-14) and if you get pulled into a debate with those people you'll probably lose.

NOTE: The Star Wars era spawned a pertinent colloquialism that goes like this: "Let the Wookie win one." When it comes to gray-area disputes, that colloquialism is pretty good advice.

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 non-Kosher foods; but our Christian dinner companion might feel very strongly about it. Well; sure, we can get by with eating non-Kosher foods; but Rom 14:14-16 is saying don't. In other words; it is Christ's wishes that we restrain ourselves from eating non-Kosher foods in front of our Christian companions out of respect for their feelings about it.

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

The koiné 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, 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.

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.

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.

The critters that God lists in the Jews' covenanted law as unsuitable for food aren't intrinsically unsuitable. They're only unsuitable for the Jews because that's how God wants it for His people. But outside the covenant; and for everybody else: whatever you'd like to eat can be eaten; all flora and all fauna.

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; you wouldn't want to invite someone over for dinner serving foods that they sincerely believe are wrong for them to eat. Prepare something else that you both can eat. That's the Christian way to go about it; it's also the sympathetic way to go about it. There are times when it's appropriate to accommodate people's feelings about certain things. The world has enough bigots as is; don't be one.

51) This position intentionally without quote or comment

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

53) Rom 14:22b-23 . . Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 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.

In other words, 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 BlockBuster 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. sympathetic regard; which is no doubt near impossible for Christians afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder: a toxic psychological condition characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for excessive admiration, exploitive behavior in relationships, and a lack of empathy.

I think this would be a good place to interject a note pertaining to the statement below:

John 13:35 . . By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

For many of us who grew up in dysfunctional families, broken homes, foster systems, gangs, and/or orphanages et al; the concept of love doesn't resonate in our thinking; viz: it just goes in one ear and right out the other because we quite literally have no points of reference in our minds to aid comprehending what Christ means by love. We know what Hollywood and contemporary music mean by love, but we haven't a clue what Christ means.

This is why the epistles are so valuable— many of them not only show Christ's followers how to recognize love when they encounter it; but also how to exemplify it in their own lives so that those of us who were deprived of love growing up are not left to figure it out on our own.

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 true Christian.

For example: it's not unusual to hear a Christian pontificate that real Christians would never watch R-rated movies, gamble, wear a speedo or a string bikini, use cosmetics, smoke marijuana, expose cleavage or wear skin tight yoga pants in public, stop for a beer on the way home from work, have a glass of wine before bedtime, listen to RAP music, ditch church and Sunday school for years at a time, or go in a bar or a nightclub where there's topless female dancers up on a stage twining themselves around a pole while leering men stuff currency into the hems of their skimpy little costumes.

Too many Christians 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.

NOTE: Heresy is 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.

Just to be on the safe side; edit that label from your remarks because it just might be that you yourself are the one infected with heresy and don't know it; viz: be circumspect with your choice of words because the hapless day just may arrive when you are forced to eat them.

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 and practice Christianity. It is unbecoming for Christians to support religions that undermine their Master's; 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.

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.

In the 17th chapter of John's gospel, Christ prayed for unity. People in church who cause division and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned are detrimental to his wishes.

NOTE: Christianity isn't a democracy. It's a theocracy. The New Testament Greek word for lord and/or master in Luke 2:29, Acts 4:24, 2Tim 2:21, 2Pet 2:1, and Rev 6:10 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.

People in church following a fire in their belly instead of the wishes of Christianity's despot are guilty of insurrection. In their own minds; the rebels no doubt honestly believe themselves working for the greater good, but that path is risky. For example: failure to obey God cost King Saul the loss of his reign. (1Sam 15:22-26)

"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.

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.

I think it would be interesting to analyze the incident that prompted Paul to issue that order.

1Cor 1:11-12 . . My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this; one of you says: I follow Paul; and another says: I follow Apollos; and another says: I follow Cephas; and still another says: I follow Christ.

The "divisions" that Paul addressed were apparently related to the sins of rivalry and elitism— some even going so far as to allege that their baptism was superior to the "second-rate" baptisms undergone by others.

Modern examples of that kind of elitism today might go like this: one might brag "I was saved at a Louis Palau crusade" while, not to be outdone, another might retort "That's nothing; I was saved at a Billy Graham crusade" or "My pastor got his degree at Dallas Theological Seminary" while another may counter by saying "So? My pastor got his doctorate at Yale Divinity School" or "I listen to Thru The Bible with J.Vernon McGee every day on the radio" while another may retort by saying "He's okay for some people; but Back To The Bible with Woodrow Kroll is where it's really at." or "I use nothing but the King James version of the Bible" while another may scoff with "People serious about Bible study use a Scofield Reference Bible in the NIV." or "I can read and write Greek" while another might retort: "You should try learning Hebrew sometime. Now there's a challenge." And then there's the hermeneutics know-it-alls who insist that the truth of a passage can only be seen in context and no other way

Those kinds of petty rivalries are harmful to unity; plus: they generate unnecessary bad feelings amongst Christians, and should be avoided.

59) 1Cor 1:26-31 . . Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

. . . 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. As the Scriptures say: The person who wishes to boast should boast only of what The Lord has done.

Some of us tend to think ourselves pretty smart for having enough good sense to believe the gospel. But according to the passage above, we didn't become believers due to our IQ; were that the case, then Carl Sagan would've stood on the side of intelligent design instead of opposing it.

No; the credit is due to God's IQ, i.e. God alone was smart enough to make it possible for any of us to be in Christ Jesus. Personally, I look upon that as something not for me to boast about, rather; an incredible stroke of luck. (One of the meanings of "blessed" is fortunate.)

Boasting in what the Lord has done is sort of like the pride that sports fans feel for their favorite teams; especially when they win. Well; it goes without saying that God is a winner— maybe He's not accounted a winner by the world's best and brightest, but certainly by those of us very pleased that Christ's mission succeeded.

The next commandment is embedded in the following scripture. It's indicated by underlined text.

60) 1Cor 3:5-15 . .What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe. As The Lord has assigned to each his task: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For 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 spared, yet so as through fire.

Sorry for that big gob of scripture, but in order to explain what is meant by the underlined text it's essential that I retain it's context.

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

1 The fire spoken of at 1Cor 3:5-15 burns works. The fire spoken of at Rev 20:11-15 burns people.

2 People walk away alive from the fire spoken of at 1Cor 3:5-15. Nobody walks away alive from the fire spoken of at Rev 20:11-15.

3 People are awarded at the judgment spoken of at 1Cor 3:5-15. People are punished at the judgment spoken of at Rev 20:11-15.

FYI: Koiné Greek words for "purify" and "purge" are nowhere to be found in 1Cor 3:5-15; 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

So; if 1Cor 3:15 doesn't envision the notion of a purgatory, then what does it envision? 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.

The works in context are those pertaining specifically to Christians like Paul and Apollos; viz: people involved in ministerial capacities e.g. apostles, missionaries, evangelists, pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, church administrators, home Bible study leaders, et al. Though John Q and Jane Doe pew warmer's works will some day be evaluated too; they are not the ones whose works will be evaluated as per 1Cor 3:5-15 because John Q and Jane Doe are depicted not as God's fellow workers, but as: (1) God's field, and (2) His building.

It's extremely important to note that only the Christian worker's works are tested with fire; not the worker himself. Compare this to the great white throne event depicted at Rev 20:11-15 where the dead's works are not tested; but rather, their works are introduced as evidence in the prosecution's case against them. The Christian worker's works aren't evaluated as evidence against them, but as potential credit to justify giving them a performance award.

Another extremely important thing to note is that the Christian worker's substandard works are burned up rather than burned off.

"let each man be careful how he builds upon it" indicates that Christian workers need to keep in mind that what they produce will be thoroughly scrutinized; and projects that don't measure up will be summarily culled; resulting of course in reduced compensation for their service. How sad it would be to see workers like Mother Teresa who, after devoting decades of their lives to a Christian service capacity, only to be stripped of everything and come away with nothing to show for it; not even so much as a Boy Scout merit badge.

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.

I'm guessing that command relates to one of Christ's instructions.

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

The koiné Greek word for "converted" is strepho (stref'-o) which basically means to twist, i.e. turn quite around or reverse (literally or figuratively)

In a nutshell, strepho is talking about taking a new direction.

Many of those in Jesus' audiences were mature, educated folk. Jesus is as much as saying that they need to go back to school and learn a new trade— so to speak — which is what quite a few people had to do back when the housing bubble burst in 2008 and they found themselves not only out of work, but also quite over-qualified and/or their skills no longer in as much demand like they once were.

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, but when it comes to knowing the ways of God, they're 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.

"The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; that they are worthless." (1Cor 3:20)

Christ also spoke of humbling one's self as a little child. Well; I can say from personal experience that wise people like those mentioned above 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.

Jas 1:21 . .Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

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— the big shots with the little nobodies —because they are all, regardless of status, co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17) which is somewhat different than a regular heir.

Regular heirs each receive an individually specified portion of a benefactor's estate while co-heirs are heirs in common. For example: supposing a benefactor's estate totals 60 acres of land plus $10,000 in a bank account. Co-heirs— i.e. heirs in common —inherit the whole ball of wax corporately as one beneficiary instead of six; viz: all six inherit the 60 acres and the $10,000 as if each one were the only heir. So then, whatever the Father bequeathed His son, He bequeathed everyone belonging to His son.

I honestly cannot wrap my mind around that because the ramifications are just too, too remarkable; I really don't even want to think about it.

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.

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.

The "appointed time" is probably referring to the event described at 1Cor 3:5-15 when the work done by outstanding Christians will be evaluated for performance awards.

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 worried that if perchance there is a God, He didn't particularly like her and might actually be quite intent upon condemning her.

Well; I'd have to say that if somebody is a Christian missionary with those kinds of thoughts going thru their head, maybe they really ought to seriously consider another line of work.

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.

66) 1Cor 5:6b-8 . . Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 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.

The apostle Paul's leaven analogy indicates that the shameful conduct of just one member of the congregation is the whole congregation's shame. This isn't a proprietary Christian principle. It first shows up in the 7th chapter of Joshua. The insubordination of one insignificant Jewish man— just one —caused God to stop assisting Joshua's army in battle. As a result, 36 men were needlessly killed in action; and ultimately capital punishment was inflicted upon not only the insubordinate man himself, but also his sons and his daughters. What did God say? Achan has sinned? No: Israel has sinned. (Josh 7:11)

This is one of the best arguments against church expansion. The bigger a congregation gets, the more difficult it is to keep an eye on everyone's conduct.

FAQ: What about saved and born-again LGBT? Do they have to be culled from the herd too?

A: There was a time in the not-so-distant past when there would have been no need to ask that question. But the question is very pertinent nowadays what with so many State, local, and Federal laws practically giving LGBT the status of protected species. It's got to the point when labeling their sexual preferences as sin is considered hate speech.

The key to correctly applying Paul's instruction to Christian LGBT is the word "indulges" which Webster's defines as: excessive compliance and weakness in gratifying another's or one's own desires. In other words: before culling an LGBT they have to be sexually active; and not just active, but openly active.

And please; let's not level all the heavy guns at LGBT because the list takes in all forms of immorality; plus slander, heavy drinking, greed and swindling.

Those last two were responsible for the Wall Street crash of 2008 that led to thousands of people everywhere losing their jobs, their retirements, and their homes. LGBT are of no consequence at all in comparison to the power of greed and swindling to ruin people's lives, collapse entire economies, and create fear, panic, and havoc on a titanic scale.

NOTE: If there's an old leaven, then there must be a new leaven; which, I believe, requires an explanation.

Well; biblical leaven has practically nothing to do with yeast; after all, even freshly milled flour contains an amount of naturally-occurring fungi so it's just about impossible to find flour that doesn't contain some. But the presence of fungi isn't the focus in leaven. It's all about age rather than ingredients.

Naturally-occurring fungi will, in time, spoil even the very freshest lump of pure dough. Old leaven then, probably speaks of a lump of dough that has been allowed to get so old, and consequently so spoiled, that it's no longer fit for human consumption, not even for making sour dough bread, and has to be thrown out.

Paul's instructions relate to a parable that Christ told of a woman mixing some spoiled dough in with her fresh flour (Matt 13:33 and Luke 13:20-21). That's an old trick for making fluffy bread, which in our day has been replaced by adding cultured yeast to the mix instead of spoiled dough. In other words: adding yeast and/or spoiled dough speeds up the aging process; and if done just right, results in a pretty tasty product; which is a useful metaphor for saying that many of us, even the most dedicated Christians, prefer the flavor of our old ways rather than Christ's because our old ways are an acquired taste, so to speak, whereas Christ's ways take some getting used to

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

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

Then, as now, liberals tend to think of themselves as sophisticated and progressive; and vastly superior to the stodgy, old-fashioned ways of conservatives.

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 darn 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 koiné Greek word for "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 as enemies in a lawsuit because we're related. Were I to sue them for tripping and falling because of a crack in their walk; I would be depriving them of the love that kin have a right to expect from one another.

Well; Christians are supposed to be brethren; in the highest possible sense of the word.

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 koiné 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.

Young Christian couples often want to know how far they can go with their dates before they're into forbidden territory. Well, we all instinctively know the upper limits, but since the lower limits aren't chipped in stone then I would have to say let your own conscience be your guide in accordance with The Lord's principles stipulated in the 14th chapter of Romans regulating gray areas. The key principles are:

Rom 14:5 . . Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Rom 14:22 . . Happy is he that feels no guilt in that thing which he allows."

Rom 14:23 . . He that doubts is guilty if he eats, because he eats not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

However, as an old senior guy of 72 who's been around the block a time or two: I must forewarn youngsters that the human conscience is trainable. What I mean is, if you manage to suppress your first-time pangs of guilt, the second time will be easier; and each succeeding suppression of your conscience gets easier and easier till the day comes when you feel no guilt at all. In other words: you will eventually succeed in cauterizing your conscience. (cf. 1Tim 4:1-2)

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)

"in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1Cor 6:20b)

Human life consists of not only body and spirit, but also soul. (1Thess 5:23, Heb 4:12). So, that being the case; why isn't soul mentioned in 1Cor 6:20? Well; I'm pretty sure it's implied by the pronoun "ye". In other words: soul speaks of the person as a conscious, sentient being.

"Soul" is somewhat ambiguous. In the very beginning, the Hebrew word for soul (nephesh) simply distinguished between fauna life and flora life.

It shows up first at Gen 1:20-21 as sea creatures and winged creatures. Then again at Gen 1:24 as terra creatures; again at Gen 2:7 as the human creature; again at Gen 2:19-20 as the creatures to whom Adam gave names; and again at Gen 9:8-16 as all creatures aboard the ark, including Noah and his family.

NOTE: Speaking of conscious, sentient beings: God's spirit is viewed by some not as a person, but as a force. However, according to Isa 63:10 it's possible to vex God's spirit. The Hebrew word for "vex" is 'atsab (aw-tsab') which means distress, worry, pain, or anger. 'Atsab's first appearance in the Bible is located at Gen 6:6, where it's stated:

"Jehovah was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to his heart."

'Atsab's equivalent in the New Testament is lupeo (loo-peh'-o). For example:

"Do not grieve the holy spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Eph 4:30)

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 2014 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. An item in the January 2011 issue of National Geographic reported that 41% of America's births in 2008 were illegitimate; which is up 28% from 1990.

This country is in a state of moral decadence, and 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 sex. 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 empowerments unless clearly indicated otherwise.

Ironically the original purpose of marriage was neither sex nor procreation; it was companionship (Gen 2:18). Leave it to people to construe God's words to mean things they don't say in writing.

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 2:24 . . Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife

There are no specific Hebrew words for "wife". The word for wife in that verse comes from the very same word as woman— 'ishshah. What makes an ishshah somebody's wife? The possessive pronoun "his". 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 specifically males; for example Gen 2:23-24 where it says:

"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."

So Eve became Adam's woman; and Adam of course became Eve's man. They quite literally owned each other.

Adultery is very serious not only because it's immoral, but also because it's an act of theft. Spouses that cheat on their partners are no different than carjackers taking an SUV that doesn't belong to them and selling it to a chop shop.

So then; if you're looking for a man, or for a women, then go out and find one of your own instead of taking a married one who has no right to give themselves to you without their spouse's consent.

TRIVIA: Leah speaks of Jacob as her man something like five times in Genesis while Rachel never once speaks of him in that way.

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 tempt you not for your incontinency.

It's not uncommon for wives to withhold intimacy from their husbands as a strategy to manipulate them. God forbid that any woman believing herself to be one of Christ's followers should ever pull a stunt like that! Same goes for the husbands. There is just no excuse for that kind of behavior in marriage. It's deplorable and it's unbecoming.

The koiné word for "defraud" is apostereo (ap-os-ter-eh'-o) which means: to despoil; which Webster's defines as: to strip of belongings, possessions, or value; viz: pillage.

In other words, married people who withhold intimacy from their spouses without a valid reason to do so are nothing less than thieves, and in violation of the 8th commandment.

Ex 20:15 . .Thou shalt not steal.

The temptation in question is of course adultery. In other words; if one spouse denies the other spouse's conjugal rights for too long a time they run the risk of pushing them into another's arms.

I heard a story recently 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 denied her husband his conjugal rights in order to force him to think about taking a lover; 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 koiné 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 sex, but also 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.

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

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 for sex.

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. 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.

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.

81) 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)

82) 1Cor 7:18b . . Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

The circumcision in question is ritual circumcision; specifically the initiation rite into Judaism. Paul's advice is very practical because if a believer undergoes Judaism's circumcision rite, they will obligate God to come down on themselves with the curses listed at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69 for noncompliance with the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. 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.

A fair question one might ask is: If 1Cor 7:18b is a hard and fast rule, then why did Paul circumcise Timothy at Acts 16:1-3? Answer: that 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 Catholic 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.

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 koiné 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 his 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 confidence nor the integrity to stand up and announce themselves trustworthy, i.e. infallible; the meanwhile quick to call others heretics for disagreeing with them.

NOTE: Be circumspect with your choice of words lest the hapless day arrives when you are forced to eat them. Never call someone a heretic because it just may be that your own beliefs are heretical without your knowing. It's okay to be positive, but for heaven's sake don't be conceited: leave yourself some room for error.

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 an honest 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 what the word "honor" means.

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 circumstances (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 . .We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 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. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

. . . Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

That passage can be said to be a codicil to the 14th chapter of Romans.

Putting this into a modern context is pretty simple; e.g. here in 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 too 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 in a situation that causes them to make that compromise.

Rom 15:1-2 . .We may know that these 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 think these things are wrong. We should please others. If we do what helps them, we will build them up in The Lord.

A 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 Christians 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's below him and 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 being selfish. 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.

This is one of those situations that requires that each individual to be convinced in their own mind whether Hooters is wrong for themselves or okay for themselves (Rom 14:5) and God forbid that Christians should criticize a fellow Christian who frequents Hooters because this is indeed one of those gray areas; and just who are you to legislate the rules for others in gray areas (Rom 14:3-4). It's unfortunate that there are some very imperious, domineering Christians out and about who see nothing wrong with bullying others to compromise their convictions just so long as they get their own way and everybody conforms to their way of thinking.

For example: it is my own personal feelings that Luke 22:35-36 makes it okay for Christ's followers to own guns for self defense. Well; a rather opinionated Christian in one of my Sunday school classes sneered at me for feeling that way and proceeded to pontificate that Jesus' instructions were only "preparatory" for the upcoming confrontation with Judas and the crowd that came with him that night to arrest Jesus. Okay; that's fine with me if that's the way he feels about it; but sneering at me for feeling my way about it was not only thoughtless, but improper too.


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. 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 the priests. (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 officers with a decent standard of living. This is not optional; no, it's something that "The Lord has commanded."

NOTE: I would say that Christians whose officers rarely, if ever, preach the gospel are exempt.

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, 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; sort of like an old fashioned Passover.

"to play" in Ex 32:6 is from the Hebrew word tsachaq (tsaw-khak') which means: merriment; viz: pagan songs and dances dedicated to the calf; a kind of worship revelry; the likes of which in the ancient city of Corinth no doubt culminated in a drunken orgy.

Apparently some of the religions in the Roman world were pretty wild and sensual, and as a result; very popular. In comparison; Christianity was dull and boring. Those pagan religions really gave you your money's worth, while Christianity has very little to offer in the way of entertainment, except maybe for Catholicism. The late-night television comedian David Letterman once remarked they put on a pretty good show.

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 have to fight for it, i.e. in order to obtain the fruit of the Spirit spoken of at Gal 5:22-23 they would have to knuckle down and live a life pleasing to both God and Christ; viz: comply with their wishes. (John 14:23, John 15:11)

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 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 wishes; fine; but they really ought to keep their discontent with his wishes to themselves in order to avoid kindling large-scale rebellion and discontent in the ranks.

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!

Their substandard compliance with God's wishes didn't bring about the return of Moses' people 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.

Rom 8:35-36 . .Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

That's a reference to Psalm 44 which speaks not of damnation, rather, of discipline.

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. So you can see that idolatry can have very serious consequences.

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

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

Greed then, is one of the characteristics of an idolater. In other words: idolatry is a personality issue rather than only 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 profit.

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 greed which will walk over the dead bodies of its employees if that's what it takes for a better quarterly report.

I'm not exaggerating. Made-in-China goods merchant 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 on those employee life insurance policies so that when one died, they recovered some of the wages and benefits they had to pay the employee while they were alive and working for them.

The policies are called COLI (corporate-owned life insurance) policies. 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 should surprise no one that idolaters have no sensibilities to speak of seeing as how they revere not God, but rather the power, the prestige, and the comforts of wealth.

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. And there is 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: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matt 7:12)

It's interesting to note that if people weren't so hard-hearted; there would be no need for laws that force people to do right by their fellow man.

I once took a city slicker friend out shooting in the Oregon woods with a cowboy style six-gun. In typical wrangler fashion he yelled yahoo and fired the six-gun up into the air before I could stop him. It then became necessary for me to remind my friend that bullets eventually come down and can quite possibly hit someone off in the distance; maybe even a child.

Drive-by shooters know this, but they're typically psychopathic so it's to be expected they don't care where their bullets go. However, I should hope no Christian reading this is psychopathic; but will think about their words and actions before those words and actions impact an innocent person's life in a way that's not easily repaired.

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 lightening 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 lightening; there is nothing they can do to get them abolished.

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 you go ahead and dine in someone's home where you know 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 your own, or to a sacred personage that you do not accept; then your host is quite possibly going to come to the conclusion that his religion is just as valid as yours if you don't decline.

This is not saying that Catholics and Protestants can't eat together and/or pray together around the table; nor is it saying that Christians and Jews can't eat together and pray together around the table: not when Catholics, Protestants, and Jews are all praying to the same God: just from a different perspective.

I will say this though: if you are a Catholic host, and your guests are either Protestants or Jews; then for heaven's sake DO NOT pray around the table to Christ's mom and/or to one of Catholicism's many patron saints. That is extremely offensive to Protestants and Jews, and totally unnecessary anyway when you can just as easily say grace to the one supreme being common to you all.

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 doing something out of respect for someone admired and/or held in high esteem.

A pretty good example of this particular motivation is recorded at Luke 5:4-5. In Peter's opinion, it would be futile to cast a net for fish where Jesus said, but did so anyway; and it turned out to be a very important turning point in Peter's life.

In other words: some of Christ's prescriptions for our lives may not be all that agreeable, but it's best to accommodate him anyway if we value his friendship.

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

"All those who love me will do what I say." (John 14:23)

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.

If only more Christians the world over would just make an effort to be civil— if only that and nothing else —it would improve the gospel's chances of at least being heard, if not accepted.

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, friendship, 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 made from material amputated 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 koiné 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 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 love 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; nor are any of them expendable. God forbid that there should be some sort of caste 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.

You know; why am I even saying these things? In point of fact, why even did Paul? I mean: shouldn't Christians be eo ipso sources of the milk of human kindness without somebody shaming them and lecturing them into being humane with their fellow believers and taking thought for their feelings? Why must so many Christians be practically strong-armed into being civil with one another?

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.

It's sad that congregations have been reduced to the level of an invasive species in some churches by over-achieving, ambitious types passing themselves off as pastors, deacons, and elders. Churches like that might just as well start selling tickets to their sermons and Sunday schools; and set up red carpets outside so the rank and file might crowd up like the Oscars; where they can ooh and ahh over the Cadillac Escalades and Lexus LX10's driven by their church's managers; admire their fashions, cheer, kiss derrieres, lick shoes, pose for selfies, and ask for autographs.

John Q and Jane Doe pew warmers aren't expendable commodities; nor do they constitute a fan base. You have to figure that, maybe not all but, at least a number of them have been placed in Christ's body by the very same Holy Spirit that places people in a church's hierarchy. God forbid that church managers should begin to think of their congregations as just numbers.

I once attended a mega Baptist church in San Diego that hired a hot shot business man that we all had to address as "reverend" to help them increase their membership. Why would they do that when there was 4,000+ members on the books already? Well; I'll tell you why. They had an ambitious building program in mind that couldn't proceed without more money in the church's coffers. Well; Mister HotShot got the church's numbers up, and the managers got their building program. My wife and I bailed. We wanted no part of it.

BTW: After the church's managers got the congregation deeply in debt to finance the building program, they all took new positions elsewhere, including the pastor, leaving his flock holding the bag. That was the most disappointing church I ever attended. It treated the congregation like so many head of livestock: just dollars per pound on the hoof and cheap labor easily exploited.

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

The koiné Greek word for "charity" in that command is agape (ag-ah'-pay) which basically means love, e.g. affection, benevolence, kindness, compassion, empathy, tenderness, understanding, devotion, caring, thoughtfulness, generosity, and a host of other things like that. Love will cause you to look out for someone's best interests without them even having to ask you to.

The word for "pursue" is dioko (dee-o'-ko) which in many places in the New Testament means persecute. Well; it hardly seems a good idea to persecute love. I think what the command is wanting to get across to Christians is that they're supposed to go after and obtain love with a determined attitude like a hunter, or a stalker, or someone who just won't take "no" for an answer; like the woman who hounded the Lord at Mark 7:25-28.

Love is the heart and soul of all of Christ's commandments. Christians without love haven't even got to first base yet. I think it's very safe to say that without love; one won't be loyal because love and loyalty go together like a horse and a carriage.

You know, when you love somebody, you will do all in your power to do what's best for them. Nobody has to crack the whip on people who truly love because their affections compel them.

People with a tin woodman's soul don't understand what I'm talking about because there's a cold piece of steel inside them where a heart is supposed to be. Well; thank God there's a remedy for that.

"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." (Rom 8:11)

At first glance that passage appears to be speaking of the body's future resurrection, and it probably is; but it's also talking about the here and now regarding the power of a supernatural benefit package called the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal 5:19-25)

The fruit of the Spirit wasn't a new revelation in the days of the apostles. It was predicted many years before them in the Old Testament.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws." (Ezek 36:26-28)

An "heart of flesh" would normally be regarded in modern Sunday school classes as a bad thing. There in Ezekiel, flesh is juxtaposed with stone to indicate that God is talking about tenderness; which can be defined as gentleness, kindness, sensitivity, and deep affection; i.e. the warm, softer emotions.

A heart of stone is cold and dead, like those massive granite monoliths in Yosemite Valley. They feel not the slightest bit of pity for climbers who lose their grip and fall. Nope, those big rocks just go on like nothing ever happened; silent, indifferent, unconcerned, non grieving, uncompassionate, and unsympathetic; i.e. they feel nothing: nothing at all.

"As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion" (Col 3:12)

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

An actual spiritual gift is an ability that comes from God, and there are quite few of them, e.g.

• The word of wisdom (1Cor 12:8)
• The word of knowledge (1Cor 12:8)
• Faith (1Cor 12:9)
• Healing (1Cor 12:9)
• Miracles (1Cor 12:10)
• Prophecy (1Cor 12:10)
• Distinguishing spirits (1Cor 12:10)
• Languages (1Cor 12:10)
• Interpreting languages (1Cor 12:10)
• Helps (1Cor 12:28)
• Administration (1Cor 12:28)
• Ministering (Rom 12:7)
• Teaching (Rom 12:7)
• Encouragement (Rom 12:8)
• Charity (Rom 12:8)
• Leadership (Rom 12:8)
• Compassion (Rom 12:8)
• Evangelism (Eph 4:11)
• Pastoring (Eph 4:11)

The New Testament Greek word for "prophesy" is propheteuo (prof-ate-yoo'-o) which essentially means to speak under inspiration. That definition is very similar to the Old Testament Hebrew word for "prophet" which is nabiy' (naw-bee'). That word describes an inspired person of either gender; e.g. Abel was a prophet (Luke 11:50-51) Abraham was a prophet (Gen 20:7) Moses was a prophet (Deut 18:18) Miriam was a prophet (Ex 15:20) Deborah was a prophet (Judg 4:4) and Huldah was a prophet (2Kgs 22:14).

Inspired people need not be highly educated; for example Amos was just a simple farm boy whom God drafted into service right out of the blue. (Amos 7:14-15)

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 discernable 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; and if not kept in check they will quickly derail a Sunday school class and drag it off onto a perpetual bull session 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". Not everyone is able to discern the spirit of the law. I think most of us would prefer having everything spelled out in clear, succinct, and unequivocal language.

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 koiné 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.

Though Mother Teresa put up a very convincing public image during those five decades of missionary activity in India, her private letters to spiritual counselors reveal that the poor woman was never really sure that Christianity's God even exists; and if He did exist, she was plagued with dread that He didn't particularly like her and might be quite disposed to condemn her. Though she never said so in public, there were was hardly ever a time when she didn't truly wonder if God wanted her in India in the first place.

Had Teresa's personality not been the D-9 Caterpillar tractor that it was, I think the celebrity nun would have given up in India after only one year. But as anyone who knew her will vouch, Teresa wasn't a quitter; no, she was a little bulldog, a survivor; and poverty was her dream venue. However, bull-doggedness is not what Paul is talking about in 1Cor 15:56-58; no, quite the contrary.

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, guaranteed that wouldn't happen to them— their resurrection to 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.

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 take 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 parentage 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)

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 koiné 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 definitely not appropriate in character to Christian women. We want them to stand firm in the faith in a womanly way, viz: feminine rather than masculine.

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

In context; "everything" probably refers to managing a church.

If church officers aren't sure how to be in charge and at the same time be civil, then they might take some time to study 1Cor 13:1-8 with a commentary and/or read How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Well; Carnegie's instructions are okay as far as they go, but though he can teach people how to go thru the motions, he cannot give people a heart; viz: he can teach people how to act, but he cannot empower people how to feel.

Love is something that shouldn't be an effort. It's supposed to come naturally to Christians due to the power of God promised to His people way back in the Old Testament.

"I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you and bring it about that you will walk in My statutes and you will keep My ordinances and do them." (Ezek 36:26-27)

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 and providing them with a rental car.

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 kiss 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 evidenced 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: Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are Christians, 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: A book that I personally consider an essential volume in every Christian's library is called: "Kingdom Of The Cults" by Walter Martin.

136) 2Cor 2:5-10 . . 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 indignant rather than repentant.

137) 2Cor 2:9-11 . . 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.

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 assume 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 sex appeal 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. The Jews 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 wishes.

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 their personality.

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.

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

That directive is an excellent passage for debunking the so-called Faith Promise; which is a popular scheme for tricking church members to pledge money they don't have while expecting God's providence will somehow provide it. That is not the Lord's wish. By means of Paul, the Lord says to give out of 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.

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 persecuted, 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 with a pretty bad case of conceit who are up to it. I can just hear the sneer in their voices as they think to themselves: "What's so special about him? He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else." That's the voice of one of the most destructive human passions there is: malicious rivalry. It got Abel murdered (1John 3:12) and it got Christ crucified. (Matt 27:15-18)

Mark 12:13 . . And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words

Just look at that! The Lord's enemies actually stalked him, hoping he would slip up and say something they could use against him. Who were the "they" in that passage? None other than Judaism's religious elite: the best of the best among Moses' people.

Mark 11:17-18 . . And as he taught them, he said: Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of robbers. The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

Matt 26:3-5 . .Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. But not during the feast— they said —or there may be a riot among the people.

You've got to wonder how it came about that holy men ordained to represent God, and to speak for God, ever became so Machiavellian.



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 koiné Greek word for "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.

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 koiné Greek word for "accursed" in that passage is anathema (an-ath' em-ah) which has to do with banishment and/or disassociation, viz: do not think of these people as fellow Christians

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 "the law" he was usually referring to the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per 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.

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 wasn't put to death on the cross. The JWs currently number around 8.2 million, the Mormons around 16.3 million, and the Muslims around 1.2 billion.

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." "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.

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. Christians 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 koiné 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 bath 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.

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.

151) Gal 5:13a . . You, my brethren, were called to be free. But do not use your liberty to indulge the base nature;

A number of years ago, I raised my hand in Sunday school and asked the teacher for an explanation of "the flesh". Well; before he could answer, his wife chimed in uninvited and, in a confident tone, went on to give me and the class a rather confusing spiritual definition. The teacher embellished her comments with a few of his own and by the time they wrapped, I figured neither of them knew what they were talking about.

Well; in time I discovered that "the flesh" is just simply humanity's base nature, a.k.a. human nature; and most everyone instinctively knows what that is without me having to explain; so I won't.

Christ's followers are sometimes accused of practicing a religion that gives people a license to steal, so to speak. Well; that is very 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 as 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 last time I checked, 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 doing what God wants rather than letting your natural impulses and/or your own thinking control your conduct all the time.

For example: item #1 contains these instructions: "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 ignoring those instructions and eating whatever they want and sleeping around without regard for God's feelings about it; then they're fulfilling the lusts of the base nature. It's just that simple.

153) Gal 5:25 . . Since we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

154) Gal 5:26 . . Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Webster's defines "conceit" as: excessive self-appreciation of one's own worth or virtue.

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 obeying The Lord's orders in regard to getting along with fellow believers.

The koiné 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 and racial rivalry. Now those two there are very destructive social influences.

If none of the above describes you; consider yourself fortunate.

The koiné 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, confrontational manner; which is a kind of behavior that prevents people from deserving identification with God's kin.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peaceable: for they shall be called the children of God.

155) Gal 6:1a . . Brethren, even if a man is caught in the very act of any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness;

None of what I'm about to say down below applies to church visitors; only to members on the roles; i.e. the congregation. In other words; we sure wouldn't want churches hanging signs out front saying:

Ø Swindlers
Ø Fornicators
Ø Murderers
Ø Envious
Ø Gossips
Ø Slanderers
Ø Arrogant
Ø Deceivers
Ø Faithless
Ø Boasters
Ø Heartless
Ø Ruthless
Ø Juvenile Delinquents

No, we want all those kinds of people to come in. It is my personal feelings that Sunday services should be a neutral zone where people indulging in every category of sin imaginable are welcome; everyone on that list, all of them including, but not limited to: witches, drug addicts, outlaw bikers, Wall Street barracudas, sexual predators, wife beaters, cheap politicians, vandals, felons, dead beats, tax cheats, fugitives, neighbors from hell, etc. It has been my feelings for some time now that Sunday services should be thought of as mission fields because, really, that's what they are: especially on Easter.

Now as for the members on the roles . . .

The restoration process is specifically the turf of "spiritual" Christians. 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.

A spirit of gentleness precludes the use of bullying, intimidation, rage. yelling, demeaning comments, ugly remarks, brow beating, and such. Those kinds of behaviors aren't gentle, no, they're cruel.

The koiné Greek word for "trespass" is interesting. It can refer to willful misconduct and/or unintentional misconduct.

156 Gal 6:1b . . each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.

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 offender like a lynch mob; then they themselves should expect to be seen by others as a toxic menace and a threat to unity.

Confronting somebody in a holier-than-thou attitude is unacceptable too. Just because someone has been taken in fault does not make the jury somehow superior human specimens.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." (Phil 2:3)

157) Gal 6:1-2 . . 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 expensive.

158) Gal 6:6 . . And let the one who is taught the word, share all good things with him who teaches.

That verse is commonly interpreted as referring to providing a teacher with material necessities. Well; it can mean that; but the Greek words for "share" and "good things" are ambiguous.

I suggest that Gal 6:6 refers to feed-back; i.e. to tell the teacher how and/or in what ways the things you've learned from him have been a help to you.

Some teachers just like to hear themselves talk; while others would like what they say to be useful. Feed-back can be very encouraging to the latter.

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 no longer someone to fear since Jesus came along. But as God was capable of withholding blessing back then; He still is.

Gal 7b-8 . . A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his flesh, will, of the flesh reap corruption; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

The koiné Greek word for "corruption" is phthora (fthor-ah') which means: decay; viz: decadence; which is saying that when Christians make a habit of indulging the propensities of their base nature; God withholds the fruit of the Spirit as per Gal 5:22-23; which consists of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

Rom 8:11-13 . . If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.

 . . .So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

To "live" then has to do with the fruit of the Spirit; without which Christians revert back to their old selves.

There's a parallel to this back in the book of Genesis in the story of the forbidden fruit. God warned Adam that he would die if he ate some of that fruit. The interesting thing is; God didn't' have to assassinate Adam in order to make good on the warning; no, God simply cut off Adam's access to the tree of life and let nature take its course.

160) Gal 6:10 . . So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

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. Contributing to that fund easily qualifies as sowing to the Spirit; and what I would call a "wise" investment.

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 like much of a holy calling; but pitch in anyway if for no other reason than that it's neighborly.

161) Gal 6:11-16 . .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.

. . . 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. (cf. Acts 15:5-32)

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 under 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.

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.

What if Christ's followers neglect to live a life worthy of their calling? Will they be lost? No; they have eternal life, which is a kind of life that cannot die; therefore, it's impervious to the wages of sin.

Rom 6:23 . . The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

People with eternal life have 100% immunity from prosecution.

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.

The reason they will never be condemned for their sins is because Christ was raised again for their justification. (Rom 4:25). The Greek word is dikaiosis (dik-ah'-yo-sis) which essentially means acquittal— a legal term that can be roughly defined as the act of adjudicating that a person is not guilty, i.e. an acquittal is a legal declaration of innocence.

According to 1John 1:8-10, Christ's followers are never 100% sinless in this life; but that's no longer a legal issue for his sheep seeing as how according to 2Cor 5:19 God is no longer keeping a record of their sins as an indictment to hold against them at the great white throne event depicted at Rev 20:11-15.

164) Eph 4:2 . . Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, putting up with another in love.

NOTE: That's an interesting command because no doubt it's not asking us to do something that Christ doesn't do every day: endure his sheep's stupidity, their lack of civility, and their natural preference for impiety.

Humility is one of those virtues that people love to talk about; but rarely ever seem to exemplify.

The koiné 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: a too-high opinion of one's self; i.e. a master-race mentality.

Vanity is defined as: inflated pride in oneself or in one's appearance; 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. Vanity isn't gentle either, on the contrary, vanity can be quite cruel, thoughtless, competitive, given to rivalry, indifferent, and insensitive; and 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 a jewel. It's defined as: the power, or capacity, to endure without complaint something difficult or disagreeable. Patient people seem to have a predilection for retaining their composure while under stress. These make the best leaders because they don't get flustered when everything around them is disintegrating into chaos.

Patience is very useful when it comes to "putting up" with certain kinds of chafing Christians who seem to have a knack for getting on people's nerves.

During my forty years working as a professional welder, I encountered numerous fellow employees whose skills and performance were excellent; but nobody could work with them. They were just too difficult.

Heaven forbid that Christ's followers should ever be "difficult". It is rather to be desired that they be civil, courteous, thoughtful, sociable, agreeable, helpful, approachable, accommodating, affable, rational, reasonable, temperate, and self-controlled. Christians around whom everybody has to walk on egg shells all the time, are in sore need of a personality make-over if they're to ever have any realistic expectation of associating with God as His kin.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

165) Eph 4:3 . . Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Peace is what everybody wants but seem thoroughly unable to attain— either by force or by diplomacy —even in Christian churches; where you'd think that at least there you'd find peace seeing as how it's related to one of Christ's beatitudes (Matt 5:9). It's also a fruit of the Spirit. (Gal 5:22)

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.

Sensuality and the life of God are diametrically opposed to each other. The one is carnal and the other is spiritual, the one is human and the other is divine. The one does whatever comes natural below, and the other does whatever comes natural above.

Paul said that pagans live as they do because of the hardening of their hearts which doesn't always refer to ones emotions— those can be roughly defined as one's bowels (e.g. 2Cor 6:12, Phil 1:8, Phil 2:1, Col 3:12, et al).

Hardening of the heart takes place at the core of one's being; the very marrow of their bones; for example the heart of the Pharaoh who opposed Moses and Aaron in the book of Exodus.

Some things are said to be scratch-resistant, fire-resistant, mold-resistance, UV-resistant, rust-resistant, and so forth. Well; a hard heart is God-resistant, really God-resistant. If the highway to Hell could be said paved with sensuality, then the substrate upon which the pavement is laid could be depicted as hard hearts; for example:

Zech 7:11-12 . . But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which The Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from The Lord of hosts.

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 koiné Greek word for "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 koiné 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.

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 brass rings 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 brass rings 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.

The Greek word for "neighbor" is somewhat ambiguous. It normally relates to one's fellow man regardless of age, race, gender, or religious preference.

I think in this case, the application is similar except for religious preference because not everyone is identified with Christ's body. Membership is exclusive; viz: only people who've undergone a special, supernatural initiation are admitted.

1Cor 12:13 . . For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Christ's body constitutes a church (Eph 1:22-23). However, this particular church isn't a denomination, or an agency, or a society that we might find listed in the Yellow Pages of a phone book.

169) Eph 4:26a . . In your anger do not sin.

Anger isn't eo ipso evil. It's how one handles 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, emotional outbursts, hysteria, etc.

170) Eph 4:26b-27 . . Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the Devil a foothold.

Some people treat their anger like a prized possession: they don't want to lose it. They actually prefer to stay angry rather than "get over it" and/or calm down.

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 order the Ephesian Christians to not 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 theft wasn't random. The culprit knew that the ladies were leaving their purses in there during services; viz: whoever it was attended that church on Sunday mornings and was familiar with its operation.

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 koiné word oikodome (oy-kod-om-ay') which means: to build up (as opposed to tearing down).

"foul or abusive" is from the koiné Greek 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, cruel remarks, thoughtless comments, chafing, relentless fault-finding, sneering, ridicule, mockery, and unnecessary criticism.

Language that's good, helpful, and encouraging is essential if one is to be serious about exemplifying the fifth beatitude.

Matt 5:7 . . Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Speaking of humanity as a corporate body, the Bible says:

Rom 3:13a . .Their throat is an open sepulcher

It's not advisable to open a sepulcher seeing as how the contents are no doubt going to be quite odious and in a state of decay; especially in locales where the remains weren't cremated or treated with formaldehyde.

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

The koiné Greek word for "grieve" is lupeo (loo-peh'-o) which means: to distress; to make sad; for example:

Gen 6:5-6 . .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.

So then, we can safely conclude that the Holy Spirit of God is grieved by wickedness; especially when every intent of the thoughts of one's heart are only evil continually.

Seals aren't always a mark or a tattoo or an impression made in wax with a signet ring. Sometimes a seal is merely a vocal validation. For example:

Matt 3:16-17 . . And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

In other words: God vouched for Jesus' credibility by sending His spirit to mark him out, and also by a solemn pronouncement. By that method; God himself personally sealed Jesus' mission; viz: signed off on it; so to speak.

John 6:27 . . On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.

Christ's followers are singled out by the Spirit too; but not with a visible bird or an audible voice, but rather; by the Spirit's occupation inside their very bodies. (John 7:37-39, 1Cor 3:16)

Christ's followers can't see the Spirit for themselves of course; but God can see it and that's really all that matters anyway in the long run.

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 koiné 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 the koiné word 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 the koiné word 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 the koiné word 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 the koiné word 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 the koiné word kakia (kak-ee'-ah) which means: badness, i.e. (subjectively) depravity, or (actively) malignity, or (passively) trouble:

Malice usually 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 koiné 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.

Boy I'll tell you, 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 boast that the Ephesian believers represent "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.

(chuckle) that resembles a line from one of Bill And Ted's adventure movies: "Be excellent to each other"

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 one's fellow 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 koiné Greek word for "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 koiné Greek word eleemon (el-eh-ay'-mone) which means pretty much the same thing as eusplagchnos: compassionate and sympathetic.

In my dad's final months of battling with a terminal cancer back in the late 1960's, he was in a great deal of pain and discomfort which made it difficult for him to sleep. In fact, he couldn't sleep in a bed at all. He sat on a small stool and rested face-down with his forehead on a coffee table in the front room.

One day, as we were driving to our week-end ritual of coffee and donuts on a Saturday morning, he complained that his third wife (call her Rosa) seemed indifferent to his condition. He remarked that he didn't want sympathy, just some understanding. Well, I was both perplexed and amused; and asked him: Dad, how can Rosa possibly appreciate your feelings without being sympathetic?

Dad was stumped. The problem was, he never knew his own father; and his mother abandoned him with relatives when he was just a toddler. My dad was a tough, self reliant old ex-Navy farm boy who himself was thoroughly unable to sympathize with anybody. In his prime, Dad was a brutal man, given to outbursts of rage and purple epithets. He was defensive, combative, thoughtless, and quite cruel to animals too. In my dad's mind, sympathy was for panty-waists not for "real men" but there he was in old age, dying of a terminal cancer; and starving for compassion— something he'd yearned all his life but could never admit.

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 essentially 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.

Phil 2:1-2 . . If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

The koiné Greek word for "bowels" 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.

176) Eph 5:1 . . Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

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".

In this case, the imitator isn't a pretender; no, he's not a stand-up comic mimicking a famous celebrity. What we're talking about here is duplication; in other words: God's children shouldn't just act like Him, they should reproduce Him; so that when the angels observe God's child at work or at play, they can say: "Yep; that kid sure takes after his old man; he's a chip off the olde block"

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's protective and supportive at the cost of deep expense to himself— but not just as a humanitarian. Christ's life of love was an act of worship, e.g. Rom 12:1-2, which reads:

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And 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." (cf. Matt 4:10)

178) Eph 5:3a . . Among you; there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality

I've lost count of the number of celebrities I've seen on television talk shows shacking up with people and boasting about their babies while in reality those children are illegitimate and nothing to be proud of at all.

When my sister got knocked up by a sailor boyfriend back in the late 1950's at the age of seventeen, our parents whisked her off to an aunt out of state to avoid the disgrace. My sister gave up her baby to adoption right out of the womb and nobody back home was any the wiser; but today, who really cares anymore?

FYI: The illegitimacy rate in the USA during 2013 was almost 41% of total births and it's no longer illegitimacy; now it's labeled Non-marital Childbearing. (chuckle) a rose by any name is still the same flower.

My wife once belonged to a woman's group in a mega-church we attended back in 1980. One of the ladies was married to an assistant pastor whose duties included counseling married couples. She told my wife you wouldn't believe the amount of adultery that goes on among married church members, and she wasn't talking about your average rank and file pew warmers either; no, her husband counseled church members a whole lot higher up than that.

That church was very impressive and had something like 4,000 members on the books. It's budget was over $16,000 per week. (The buying power of $16,000 in 1980 was comparable to the buying power of roughly $47,000 in 2017).

To look at that church with its buildings, its property, it's programs, its membership numbers, its music, its missionary outreach, and its whopping budget; you would think it housed the holiest collection of saints on earth. But no; behind the scenes, behind the façade, behind the curtain, behind the pulpit; there was moral decadence. (cf. Matt 23:27-28)

Ecc 3:16 . . And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

179) Eph 5:3b . . nor any kind of impurity, or of greed

It's so easy to assume that naughty fantasies and porn-like behavior are the impurities that Paul is talking about; but any behavior associated with sin 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 civil up there, and really ought to be down here.

The koiné Greek word for "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. 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 believing 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 fact that Jesus' believing followers are citizens of the kingdom, and joint heirs with Christ in his Father's estate; then things like immorality, impurity, and greed are 110% inappropriate for them, i.e. those 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)

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.

NOTE: An example of the dread opposite of Matt 5:16 is David's tryst with Bathsheba that resulted in the death of her husband. Nathan the prophet informed David that his conduct reflected on The Lord so that instead of bringing glory to God, his conduct brought disgrace. (2Sam 12:14)

183) Eph 5:10 . . Find out what pleases The Lord.

People depending upon their intuition to know what pleases The Lord are of course doomed to failure because the information 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 study.

This particular process of discovery has to include the Old Testament 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 lusted to do to the two men lodging at Lot's house. It's as if the author drew a curtain over Sodom and said: This is just too shocking. I'm not going to spell out what the people of Sodom had in mind that night. You will just have to use your imagination.

Jude simply, and concisely, says 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 koiné 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 I cannot tell polite company that the Bible condemns gays, lesbians, bestiality and pedophiles, etc. just so long as I don't start describing, in all their lurid detail, the revolting things they do to, and with, each other and/or with, and to, animals.

185) Eph 5:14 . .Wake up, O sleeper! . . rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

The word "rise" is translated from the Greek anistemi (an-is'-tay-mee) which basically means to stand up (literally or figuratively — transitive or intransitive)

A corpse cannot stand up on its own, viz: once people die, they're stuck— the jaws of death are very strong and very tight —people, as a rule, cannot will themselves back to life. So I think it's pretty safe to assume Eph 5:14 isn't talking about the kind of death that populates cemeteries.

Death is sometimes depicted as sleep, e.g. Matt 9:24, John 11:11, 1Cor 15:51, and 1Thess 4:14. So the command to "rise from the dead" is appropriate for Christians who honestly think obedience to their master's commandments 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, 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 faith, but it's not a healthy faith, viz: dead faith lacks vigor and vitality.

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 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 FaceBook stole the idea. Though the theft was legal, it was unethical.

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.

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.

Eph 5:18 doesn't forbid drinking; only getting drunk. 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 a sedative, i.e. an antidote to one's existence.

Prov 31:6-7 . . Liquor is for the dying, and wine for those in deep depression. Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more.

Some of us seem born with a melancholy disposition but that's really not the same. Real depression literally drives people to suicide. I know because I've been there.

So in that respect, pills and alcohol are 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; e.g. cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, valium, Prozac, overeating, etc.

God's Spirit is supposed to be a crutch for believers; but His effectiveness as a crutch is found only in something called the fruit of the Spirit.

Gal 5:22-23 . . The fruit of the Spirit is joy, peace, and self control.

Two elements of the Spirit's fruit that have a powerful influence on a believer's well-being in life are Joy and Peace; which are obtained out of a bottle for only a short time; and are actually chemically dependent rather than supernaturally dependent.

But joy and peace come require initiative.

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 expect to neither obtain, nor to retain, the Spirit's joy and peace when their conduct is unbecoming.

189) Eph 5:19 . . Speaking 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 sing together. And make very sure the object of your music is Christ and/or his Father rather than other kinds of celestial personages; e.g. saints and angels.

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 koiné Greek word for "submit" is hupotasso (hoop-ot-as'-so) which means: to subordinate (as a verb) which is just the opposite of dominance, equality, and/or rivalry and competition.

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 another's 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 the 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 insistent upon their own way —is definitely a failure at subordinating themselves to their fellow Christians in a manner consistent with the Lord's instructions.

192) Eph 5:22 . .Wives, submit to your husbands as to The Lord.

The koiné 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 like in some sort of despotic monarchy. We haven't changed the subject; in point of fact we're actually being redundant because 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.

We should emphasize that these instructions are only for Spirit-filled couples. They're not for the average rank and file pew-warming couple, nor for the world's couples at large.

First of all; Spirit-filled wives walk in the fruit of the Spirit; which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self control. That alone filters out most wives. And they also speak to themselves with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; making music in their hearts to The Lord rather than going around with a grumpy disposition all the time with a cross look on their face.

Spirit-filled wives don't strive for equality, nor do they compete with their husbands as rivals for supremacy, nor do they have to be right all the time. And most importantly, a Spirit-filled wife treads lightly on her husband's feelings.

A wife that's independent, quarrelsome, complaining, fault-finding, chafing, hostile, violent, carping, dominating, manipulating, critical, thin-skinned, defensive, assertive, aggressive, thoughtless, insensitive, loud, stubborn, difficult, cruel, gender-biased, confrontational, always clamoring about empowerment, and harboring a "I am woman! Hear me roar!" mentality is not The Lord's concept of deference.

A deferent wife is diplomatic; she's gracious, cordial, affable, approachable, temperate, genial, sociable, ready to turn the other cheek, generous, charitable, altruistic, tactful, sensitive, sympathetic; and above all coherent, reasonable, and rational rather than incoherent, emotional, and reactive.

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 . . For 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, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

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.

If a Christian wife cannot treat her husband with the respect due him in accordance with Eph 5:21 then she should at least try to treat him with respect in accordance with Eph 5:23-24; in other words; treat her husband the way she would treat Christ were he the one sharing a home with her.

Though both husband and wife are equals as believers, and equally Christ's subjects, they are definitely not equals as man and wife though they be one flesh; just as Christ and his Father are not equals though they be one God. A Christian wife who humiliates her husband in any way literally humiliates Christ when she does so; and gives herself away that she's neither walking in the Spirit, nor filled with the Spirit, nor loyal to the lord and master of Christianity.

It's said that familiarity breeds contempt; and I'm afraid that a good number of Christians have gotten so accustomed to thinking of Christ as a sibling that they've forgotten he's primarily a monarch who expects the realm to comply with his edicts rather than challenge them.

NOTE: Men and women have very different needs as regards to respect. Shaunti Feldhahn, author of "For Women Only" relates a survey taken among segregated groups of men and women with this question: Given a choice; would you rather be disrespected, or would you rather be alone and unloved in the world? The majority of the ladies chose disrespect rather than living alone and unloved in the world while the majority of the men chose to live alone and unloved rather than be disrespected.

A young bride just starting out, with a head full of feminism and a heart infected with contempt for males; not caring how important respect is to men, will have no trouble turning her husband's marriage into a living hell for him without even half trying.

So then, what's one thing that every Spirit-filled wife can do to please Christ? Simple. Respect her husband. And don't respect him only if he earns your respect: no, respect him all the time just as you'd respect Christ all the time were he your husband. A wife cannot expect a husband to love her unconditionally when she won't make an effort to respect him unconditionally.

A very disturbing display of disrespect took place in my own home. My wife and I used to baby-sit for a couple at church whenever they were away. When they came over one night to pick up their kids, my son and theirs were playing a really good Nintendo game. The daddy informed the kids it was time to go, and in customary kid-fashion they ignored him and kept playing their game. So he became gruff and ordered them out to the car.

His wife then proceeded to come down on him like the wrath of God and exclaimed: You're yelling at the kids in front of our hosts! You're hurting their feelings!

Well, guess what? Mrs. Self Righteous was scolding her husband in front of us and hurting his feelings. If you could have seen the look on his face you'd know that her husband was not going to get over the effects of his wife's public scolding for a long while to come; if ever.

You know, kids get used to their parents demeaning them in front of others. To kids, it's just a fact of life. However, I seriously doubt there's a husband on earth who can get used to a wife treating him like a child.

Prov 14:1 . . A wise woman builds her home; a foolish woman tears her home down with her own hands.

Eph 5:15 . .So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise.

194) Eph 5:25-27 . . Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Christ's love for the church is expressed in the grammatical past tense, which indicates he loved his own even before they existed in real life; which makes sense seeing as how the Bible says that Christ was the lamb slain before the cosmos was completed; and the names of the people in his church were already on record. (1Pet 1:19-20 and Rev 13:8 cf. Eph 1:4 and Rev 17:8)

Though Christ went to the cross for the whole world's benefit, it was the church that he had in mind all along. (1Tim 4:10)

I suppose any number of sermons could be written based upon Eph 5:25-27 but we need to keep moving.

195) Eph 5:28-33a . . In this same way, 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 homes from becoming the semblance of a cold war.

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'd prefer avoiding.

NOTE: If a man finds it impossible within himself to practice the golden rule with a witch, then maybe he should reconsider getting himself shackled to one. Choose wisely.

196) Eph 5:33b . . and the wife must respect her husband.

We're not talking about admiration here. 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. A show 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.

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 hasn't earned my respect. So Laura asked the caller: Have you earned your husband's love? The caller retorted: I don't have to earn 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 koiné Greek word for "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 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 from hell; i.e. dysfunctional.

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 koiné Greek word for "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.

199) Eph 6:4 . . Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of The Lord.

We're not talking about religious training here— the focus is upon a daddy's parenting style. 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.

But aren't there moms out there exasperating their kids? Of course! Mothers can be just as tyrannical, just as despotic, and just as unfair as dads.

I believe it is a Spirit-filled dad's sacred filial duty to defend his children from their own mother's abuses should the need arise. Not many dads are willing to do that because it means risking having the wife turn against him; so quite a few dads opt to sacrifice the children in order to keep momma happy. In my opinion, throwing one's own children to the wolves in order to avoid living in the same house with a moody woman has to be one of the worst possible sins a man can ever commit in his own home. It's just downright cowardly; and tells the kids they can't trust the one man in the whole world upon whom they should be able to rely in times of distress.

FYI: The Bible predicts that towards the end, parents will become callous with their babies.

2Tim 3:1-3 . . This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For people shall be . . .without natural affection

The koiné Greek word for "without natural affection" is astorgos (as'-tor-gos) which means: hard-hearted towards kindred.

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 koiné Greek word for "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, a Spirit-filled employee will 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. But though believers are slaves to Christ, they are not slaves to a slave driver. Note the gentle demeanor of the request below.

Matt 11:28-30 . . Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Rom 12:1-2 . . I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice— holy, acceptable to God —which is your reasonable service. And 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.

I once worked with two Christian men in a welding shop who demanded a sit-down with the superintendent to air some grievances. I took it upon myself to remind them that Peter directed Christians to endure what they thought of as unfair treatment from employers (1Pet 2:18-25). Well, they ignored both me and Peter because they felt insulted to be treated like children by management and wouldn't rest until they told them so.

What you have there is a case of rabid male pride overruling The Lord's wishes. Not good. Peter was given the keys of the kingdom (Matt 16:19). If Christians believe that to be true, then for them, scorning Peter is all the same as their scorning Christ— 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.

201) Eph 6:7-8 . . Slaves, serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving The Lord instead of men.

If believers wish to hear The Lord say "Well done thou good and faithful servant" then fighting with management is simply out of the question. No, don't fight, instead: bite the bullet.

Phil 1:29 . . For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. 

1Pet 2:18-24 . . Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently?

. . . But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not reciprocate; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.

Now there's a good, practical application of turning the other cheek.

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,

The "masters" in that verse are believing masters; Paul's letters were written and sent to churches rather than to the world at large.

If there is one political maxim that seems to ring true in every generation, it's that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It's in the human heart to abuse authority and to oppress and exploit people rather than manage them to everyone's advantage.

Believing masters, and believing slaves, are siblings in God's family (Gal 3:28). Therefore, Christ's law is to be exemplified by both the slave and by 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 master willing to sacrifice his life to protect his slaves would be a very unusual master; but that is the very attitude of a Spirit-filled master towards his believing slaves; and should be the attitude of a Spirit-filled supervisor towards his believing employees: which is the attitude of a good shepherd rather than that of a self-serving predator.

John 10:10-13 . .The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

. . . But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

Eph 6:9b . . and there is no favoritism with him.

The believing master's rank doesn't mitigate his accountability. No, he has no advantage over the believing slave. Both must give an accounting of themselves, and neither the master nor the slave will be given the slightest preferential treatment. No, they will be recompensed on the merits of their faithfulness; rather than their positions.

Items 203-214 Removed

215) Phil 1:27 . .Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel

"let your conversation" is from the Greek word politeuomai (pol-it-yoo'-om-ahee) which means to behave as a citizen. It appears to me that Paul is talking about something akin to the lyrics below:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
John Donne

In other words: politeuomai speaks of a unified community rather than random independent individuals.

"as it becometh the gospel of Christ" likely has reference to the Lord's wishes that his followers be as united together in purpose as he is with his Father. (John 10:30, John 17:22)

Phil 1:28 . . And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

This is not to say that Christ's followers are forbidden to be intimidated by adversity. It's all in how they cope with it.

Take for instance king Hezekiah in the 18th and 19th chapters of the book of 2Kings. When Sennacherib's army threatened to take Jerusalem, Hezekiah got scared but he also got to praying. Even had his prayers been futile, it was still the right thing to do.

Ezra also encountered adversity when he returned to Israel to oversee reconstruction of the Temple but stood tall and prayed his way through all of it.

When churches are effective for Christ, they have to expect bumps in the road; but bumps in the road aren't the end of the road; they're just inconvenient.

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 ecumenicals; but Christ's directive in no way pertains to ecumenicals whose core belief it is that no one's wrong, and everyone's a Christian if they say so. No, The Lord's directive only pertains to a very narrow cross section of Christians whom he 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)

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 beings are just naturally prone to status; especially among pastors, choir members, Sunday school teachers, Deacons, Deaconesses, etc.

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 you're your heart's in the right place because there is coming an 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 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 classification of people 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; therefore, before proceeding with your ideas, be very sure to ponder all the possible ramifications of your actions first.

Stepping on people's toes, and or thwarting their ideas so that yours prevails, fails to satisfy the law of Christ; which requires believers to love their fellow believers as Christ loves 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 #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 divine origin and conducted himself as a regular guy. Even the people with whom Jesus grew up in his home town were highly doubtful he was so well connected.

"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?" (John 6:42)

Even 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." (John 1:32-34)

But there is always that one "king of the mountain" in church who just has to be head and shoulders above everybody else; for example:

"I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not." (3John 1:9)

Diotrephes not only opposed the apostles; but also excommunicated people who dared to ally with them. And to think that guy operated not in a Devil worshipping church, but in a Christ-worshipping church. (3John 1:10)

(chuckle) Mr. Diotrephes apparently was on, what we today would label, an ego trip.

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, i.e. there are no gifts in Santa's bag; only merit awards for those who prove themselves worthy enough to deserve them.

Well; Paul didn't say work for your salvation, no he said work it out; which speaks of something entirely different than merit awards.

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 made himself of no reputation at all, 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 very lethal.

The word for "debating" is 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 koiné Greek word for "brethren" is adelphos (ad-el-fos') which is a masculine noun for a male relative. But it's 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.

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.

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 rats. 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 corpses 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 were 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 zealots like that crazy enough to murder people who dare to oppose and/or criticize their belief systems.

A "dog" 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.

A dog then, in the spiritual sense, is little more than a brutish human scavenger. Human dogs are destined for a very unpleasant future in the same category as witches, fornicators, murderers, idolaters, and liars.

Rev 22:13-15 . . I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

224) Phil 3:2b . . Beware of evil workers,

"evil workers" probably refers to ersatz missionaries like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. In that 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 Judaism and the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. There were Jews in various cities back in those days telling Christians that their salvation depended upon circumcision.

"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." (Acts 15:1)

The apostles disagreed.

"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:" (Acts 15:24)

Hence; Paul's warning.

"So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ cannot help you. I'll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey all of the regulations in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace." (Gal 5:1-4)

The law represented by ritual circumcision is a good law: there's nothing intrinsically wrong with it.

"Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law." (Rom 3:3)

"The law itself is holy and right and good." (Rom 7:12)

"We know these laws are good when they are used as God intended." (1Tim 1:8)

The problem is: it's very difficult to satisfy the law's requirements.

"For Moses wrote that the law's way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands." (Rom 10:5)

Obedience to all the law's commands has to be consistent in order to obtain righteousness by it. In other words: obeying all the law some of the time, or all the law most of the time; isn't good enough. It's necessary to be consistent, i.e. obey all the law all the time: no let up.

"To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality; He will give eternal life." (Rom 2:7)

"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal 3:10, cf. Deut 27:26)

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 it's 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 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 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.

"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." (Titus 3:10-11)

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 Lord says "always" he means always or he wouldn't say always. So then, part-time rejoicers in the Lord are failing to comply with God's wishes.

There is a joy available from Christ that's able to overcome all the sadness this world can possibly throw at you.

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.

The koiné Greek word for "joy" in that verse is chara (khar-ah') which doesn't mean ecstasy; but rather: cheerfulness; viz: calm delight and/or gladness; in other words: pacific. This doesn't mean believers should be bubbling over all the time; but it sure does mean they shouldn't be overwhelmed with feelings of despair and melancholy sadness all the time; or even some of the time. Paul says to rejoice "always" which of course is beyond human capability; but not beyond the Spirit's.

Gal 5:22 . .The fruit of the Spirit is joy.

228) Phil 4:5 . . Let your gentleness be evident to all.

The koiné Greek word for "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. just the opposite of fierce, harsh, rough, scathing, mean, abrasive, stormy, intemperate, strict, and/or severe.

Though a mild 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.

229) Phil 4:6 . . Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

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 revenge for what females had done to him all his life.

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 talking things out with nobody.

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.

Phil 4:7 . . And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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.

It's a common practice among emergency medical service personnel to get a patient's mind off their injuries by distracting them with a barrage of questions and/or chit-chat because thoughts and emotions have power to make things worse.

Sometimes late at night when the demons come, and negative thoughts start festering in my mind enough to keep me awake, I get up and do something like watch a documentary on NetFlix, or a movie on DVD, play a video game, read a book, or work on the computer. Just getting my mind on something besides those negative thoughts really helps restore my peace of mind so I can go back to bed and get some sleep. Phil 4:8 makes good mental-health sense.

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 thankfulness.

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 koiné 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: he 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.

What he's talking about there are humanistic versions of Christianity; especially those built upon proprietary traditions rather than "the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us" (2Thess 2:15). Those kinds of Christianity are insidious because they're typically a subtle blend of truth and error. Paul wasn't just being rhetorical; no, the time is now when pew warmers are buying into humanistic versions of Christianity.

2Tim 4:2-4 . . 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.

The reason that they will heed what Paul calls "fantasies" is because anything but the truth is far and away more appealing to the human mind. Take for example Stephen Hawking's theory that a cosmos can come into existence sans intelligent design; in other words: sans a creator. Stephen's arguments are clever, sophisticated, and scientific; viz: they make sense; and they are widely accepted by his admirers.

Christians are privy to the origin of the cosmos— in all its forms of life, matter, and energy —not by science, but by revelation; which of course die-hard scientists cannot accept due to revelation's lack of so-called empirical evidence; though there's circumstantial evidence aplenty all around in nature and indeed the very heavens in which men like Hawkings are so absorbed.

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 humanistic versions of Christianity incorporate diets, rituals, rites, and holy days of obligation. 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 kind of like the headless horseman in the Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.

236) Col 2:18b . . And don't let anyone say you must worship angels, even though they say they have had visions about this.

I have actually encountered Christians who claim to have patron ghosts: spirits with whom they communicate and that help them in daily life. I do not dispute their claim seeing as how the existence of familiar spirits is validated by Lev 20:6 et al; but Christ rules against letting them influence your thinking; even as The Lord condemns to death any among His people who dabble in that sort of thing.

Apparitions are very effective. Just look at the number of Christians whose religious beliefs are influenced by appearances like Our Lady of Fatima and the Miracle of the Tilma (Our Lady of Guadalupe). That only goes to show how true it is that people tend to believe only what they can see with their own two eyes. In the end, that "show me" attitude will result in humanity's ruin as they watch a statue come to life and start giving orders to execute people who refuse to worship it. (Rev 13:13-15)

Heed what Rev 13:13-15 says; and be warned. Its lesson is obvious: miracles and/or apparitions cannot be trusted to validate one's religious beliefs. In point of fact; numbers of people passing themselves off as Christians are going to Hell and eternal suffering in spite of their ability to perform miracles. (Matt 7:22-23)

Paul said he would never listen to even a real live genuine holy angel of God from Heaven unless the angel preached the very same message as the one he himself preached (Gal 1:6-9). As anyone familiar with Virgin sightings knows, they never preach the same message as Paul's; no they preach things like world peace, devotion to Jesus' mom, immaculate hearts, and rosaries.

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 its believers to death on the cross with Christ 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 in that too. (Rom 6:3-11, Gal 2:20)

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 . . So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 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 will be living then.

239) Col 3:5b-11 . . 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 peace.

The koiné Greek word for "filthy conversation" 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, 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.

It's interesting that the Colossian believers were lying to each other, and no doubt would have continued to lie if Paul had not commanded them to stop it.

The koiné Greek word for "renewed" is anakainoo (an-ak-ahee-no'-o) which means: to renovate; which 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: revive. This renovation process takes place only by means of conscientious Bible study combined with uncompromising personal evaluations. (Rom 12:1-2)

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 Paul hadn't commanded them otherwise.

Paul's basis for these commands is the Colossians' standing as "God's chosen people, holy and dearly beloved" I mean: is it appropriate for people in that kind of a relationship with God to act like 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.

Love can be roughly defined as affection; which itself can be roughly defined as tenderness. One of The Lord's constant rubs with his religious opponents was their virtually 100% lack of tenderness; which effectively invalidated their rituals.

Matt 9:13 . . Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.

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 insensitive person's lack of things like empathy, compassion, sympathy, patience, tolerance, affableness, helpfulness, pity, courtesy, humility, peace, love, and understanding, causes God to reject their worship just as thoroughly and bluntly as He rejected Cain's. I really think that God is insulted when cold-hearted, implacable people 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.

The world is not impressed when believers are at war with themselves. There is a very subtle hint to that effect at Gen 13:1-7. How do you suppose Abram's and Lot's squabbling looked to the pagans? When God's people can't get along, outsiders become disgusted with them and they sure won't be influenced for God in a good way when The Lord's people are fighting amongst themselves like that.

Years ago, when I was a young welder just starting out on my own, I rented a small room in a daylight basement from a man who was the senior pastor of a medium-sized Seventh Day Adventist church in the Portland Oregon area. He and his wife radiated the luster of polished spirituality whenever I spoke with them out in the yard, but in my location under the floor of the house, I could overhear their bitter quarrels upstairs behind closed doors. Was I favorably inclined to attend his church? No.

A church without peace is a church deprived of the Spirit.

Gal 5:22-23 . . The fruit of the Spirit is peace.

NOTE: Christ's followers are also called to hope (Eph 4:4), fellowship (1Cor 1:9), blessing (1Pet 3:9), grace (Gal 1:6), liberty (Gal 5:13), kingdom and glory (1Thess 2:12), holiness (1Thess 4:7), eternal life (1Tim 6:12), suffering (1Pet 2:21), and eternal glory (1Pet 5:10)

244) Col 3:15b . . And be thankful.

In an America accustomed to entitlements, bail-outs, reparations, stimulus packages, federally funded school lunches, FEMA, SNAP, TANF, and an abundance of perks, free-bees, and social programs; it's very unusual to find thankful citizens. Most are arrogant and demanding; taking their blessings for granted.

I was particularly annoyed back in January 2010 by a Haitian man's angry complaint in the news that America wasn't responding fast enough to his country's needs created by their earthquake. That man is a perfect example of someone who has no appreciation for charity; but rather, sees charity as an entitlement rather than a blessing.

My #1 nephew was a Seneca man who took the spiritual values of his Iroquois ancestors very seriously. Some Christians would no doubt think of my nephew as a heathen, but he was far more thankful for his blessings— due to the influences of Hiawatha and Handsome Lake —then many of the intellectual pew warmers that I've encountered in the several churches I've attended over the years.

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 always 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.

In other words; the wisdom we're talking about here is gained by life experience wherein Christ's teachings have been put into 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 husbands, 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.

Anyway: in a nutshell; the submission we're talking about here is entirely positional.

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 19:32)

Back when Queen Elizabeth II 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, wives give your husbands the respect due to their position in the home rather than the blokes they are.

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to The Lord." (Eph 5:22)

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.

Harsh can be defined a number of ways.

1• Abrasive
2• Abusive
3• Critical
4• Unfriendly
5• Uncivil
6• Rough
7• Oppressive
8• Cruel
9• Hostile
10• Loud
11• Demanding
12• Intolerant
13• Impatient
14• Insensitive
15• Unyielding

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 have no desire to please The Lord.

250) Col 3:21 . . Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

The koiné Greek word for "discouraged" is athumeo (ath-oo-meh'-o) which has to do with breaking the spirit. Really bad cases of embitterment 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.

If America's corporations, factories, and businesses would comply with just that one teensy little edict, it would end the need for labor unions. It would also put sweatshops and the exploitation of foreign poverty and immigrant labor out to pasture too.

Most businesses try to avoid giving their employees what is right and fair in order to get better bottom lines on their quarterly reports. Fair and right wages and benefits are expensive and cut into profits. Herein is one of the evils of corporatism. The ones that have gone public have a fiduciary responsibility (they say) to share-holders to grow and produce profits; therefore they will not hesitate to throw workforces to the wolves in order to fulfill that responsibility.

Whenever you see a big corporation like Boeing ask it's workforce to take a wage cut; that is what they are doing— throwing their workforce to the wolves to protect the corporation from sustaining a loss; the meanwhile taking little thought to the fact that wage cuts make it that much more difficult for workforces to survive in an inflationary economy. Corporations complain that the cost of doing business is hurting them. Well; what do they think the cost of living is doing to their workforces?

A popular corporate business plan nowadays involves moving headquarters offshore, thus sheltering millions, and even billions of dollars of profits from US taxes. What that means is; the US taxes that would have been paid on those profits do not go towards funding the Federal budget and/or servicing the Federal debt. In other words: corporations are not all that civic-minded nor patriotic when it comes to money; on the contrary, they are showcases of greed and selfishness to the detriment of their fellow Americans; while the chief executive officers gorge themselves at the hog trough of stupendous salary and benefit packages, and colossal bonuses.

253) Col 4:2 . . Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

The koiné 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 believers 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 Rome's 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 "devote" themselves to prayer? Well; primarily because it's commanded. I would suppose that's reason enough for most.

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)

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.

NOTE: In my opinion it is far better to appeal to common folk than the educated elite because most of them are a lost cause no matter.

1Cor 1:26 . . For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh.

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, 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, Luke 14:34, and Col 4:6, that the purpose of salt is to enhance flavor and make otherwise naturally insipid and/or bad-tasting things palatable, viz: diplomacy; which can be 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;

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?

There's a downside to sleeping around; not only a spiritual downside but a practical downside too. The below is from a study done by two psychology researchers from the university of Denver after studying 418 people who participated in a Relationship Development Study.

"The more sexual partners one sleeps with prior to marriage, the less quality of life they can expect to have in marriage. This also goes for people who shack up prior to marriage; even among those whose only sexual partner has been the person they eventually marry. People who have been through a divorce, or who had shacked up with someone before meeting their current spouse, were also less likely to have a high-quality marriage."

261) 1Thess 4:6a . . In this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.

"this matter" refers 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 San Diego. 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. She couldn't reveal their names of course due to confidentiality considerations.

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.

God's rules are the edicts of a monarch; and He expects compliance; but because people hear His rules as hear-say rather than straight from the horse's mouth, they quite naturally tend to be scofflaws.

NOTE: 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) it's benefits are not equally doled. The fruit of the Spirit as per Gal 5:22-23 has a string attached: compliance with Christ's wishes; viz: when Christ's followers go rogue and live in accordance with their base nature, they die. In other words: the fruit of the Spirit is withheld; they shrivel and dry up 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 hate 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— such as the one the USA experienced due to 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; a pretty large percentage of America's employable Christians were 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 SNAP, TANF, Unemployment Benefits, etc come up in conversations. Innocent people's feeling might get hurt if you become too critical of those kinds of social services. 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 . .Therefore 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 permanent; but when Christians lose a Christian loved one, the loss is only temporarily.

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.

The "hope" of salvation speaks of a specific element of the overall plan.

Job 14:13-14 . . If only You would hide me in sheol and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only You would set me a time and then remember me! If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come.

Ps 16:10 . .You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy one see decay.

Acts 23:6-7 . .Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin: My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.

Rom 8:23-25 . .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.

1Cor 15:51-53 We will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

1 Thess 4:13-18 . . 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. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

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 undergoing the ravages of the aging process, it is very meaningful; along with being very comforting to know that when this body of mine finally goes down the drain, it isn't a permanent loss. I have second body waiting for me even better than the first.

2Cor 5:1-6 . . Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

This "hope" isn't a wishing hope, nor is it a hope-for-the-best hope, nor a cross-your-fingers hope. The koiné 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.

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 speaks of cannibalism.

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.

Real men respect real men. When church officers are mice; then 1Thess 5:12-13a becomes a challenge for real men to obey; but regardless; comply they must.

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.

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. 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 compliance; rather, with whole-hearted compliance. (cf. Mark 12:30)

270) 1Thess 5:13b . . Live in peace with each other.

In this instance, "each other" probably refers to fellow believers.

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 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, disorder, antagonism, fighting, conflict, struggles, et al.

NOTE: Never assume that everyone you meet in church is a fellow  believer. Going to church on Sunday is just what some people do, and probably have done ever since they were kids. There was a time when going to church on Sunday was considered good citizenship; and quite a few people were there for no other reason; i.e. church sort of fills out their social résumé. And then some people attend church because they're lonely and wanting to meet some new friends; etc, etc, etc, etc.

271) 1Thess 5:14a . . And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly

The koiné Greek word for "unruly" is ataktos (at-ak'-toce) which means: irregular; viz: out of order; disorderly. Unruly people are like kindergartners; but that's to be expected from their age group: little kids are disruptive, they're boisterous, 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, they're impulsive, they can't stay in their seats, and they meddle and can't mind their own business.

When I hear of four supposedly adult women on television like "The View" 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 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 can deal with negativity; and tend to distance themselves from people down in the dumps.

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; and then of course they take the initiative to begin offering unsolicited remedies. No; the idea is to console the discouraged, not to "fix" them.

But even Sunday schools have their problems. If the class size is enormous, then you will be swallowed up and no more visible than a termite in the floor boards. Look for small classes; especially those where the people sit around tables rather than in rows of chairs. You get to meet people around tables, while rows of chairs tend to isolate people from one another.

And don't forget your church's pastors, deacons, and elders. They need encouragement and support too just like anybody else. Don't ever assume your leaders are rocks who don't need anybody. No, they're only human, and if they're truly humble, they'll really appreciate your interest in their welfare— usually.

I once complimented a young speaker at a men's breakfast about the lecture he delivered that morning. He glared at me with daggers— his mouth a tight grimace, his eyes narrow slits of hate and suspicion —and turned away without speaking a single word in response. That young man's reaction took me by surprise; chilling me to the bone and causing me to forget everything he said that day up in front. Obviously he was a rock in his own mind and insulted by encouragement from the audience. Well, I kept my distance from then on. God pity a church with people like that on staff.

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 koinè 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.

275) 1Thess 5:15 . . See that none render evil for evil unto any man; 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, 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. That's an order; and it's at all times rather than some times.

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 koiné 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 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.

One evening, while attending a single's group at church back in the 1970's, the leader of the group went around the room asking each of us to name something special about ourselves. I could not think of a single thing; while another in the room said everything about themselves was special. They weren't being vain; they were being honest. That fortunate person had a very good self image and a healthy appreciation for their own worth.

It's very difficult for Christians like myself to believe that Christ's Father has any real interest in us. We have always believed ourselves ostracized, unnecessary, marginal, unwanted, and unimportant— but we're used to it so it's no big deal.

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 koiné 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 cared for the world that He sacrificed His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God didn't send His son into the world to condemn it, but to rescue it.

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 participating with Him in a joint effort.

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 koiné Greek word for "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.

The "evaluation" spoken of here should be understood in relation to verse 20 where it's said: "Do not despise prophecies". The NLT's placement of a comma after "prophecies" is helpful because it puts prophecy and evaluation in a proper perspective.

In a nutshell: don't be gullible and buy into a prophecy just because it's gripping or sensational and/or seems reasonable. For starters, make sure the prophecy is at least in the Bible; anything outside the Bible should always be eo ipso regarded as suspicious and unreliable.

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. 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 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, simply well-meant.

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 to their congregations are in serious dereliction of duty.

NOTE: Some years ago, before we were married, my Protestant wife invited her Catholic dad to church. Well; that day, of all days, the minister's sermon focused on the church's finances.

On the way home, my wife's father commented: Protestants are no different than Catholics. All they care about is money. He never went back, nor did my wife feel it wise to ask him to.

I've often wondered how my wife's dad would've felt about Protestants had the minister that day taught the Bible instead of laying a guilt trip on the congregation to give his church more money.

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.

Some religions have a rather bad habit of predicting the Lord's return. For example the Watchtower Bible And Tract Society predicted his return for 1878, 1881, 1914, 1918 and 1925. Armageddon was predicted for 1975, and that flopped too.

One of the salient features of the day of Christ is that there will be a one-world religion. All currently known forms of religion will be banned upon penalty of death. That means Christianity in all its Protestant and Catholic forms and denominations will be illegal; as well as Islam, Mormonism, Baha'i, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Scientology, et al, and even atheism and agnosticism— everybody will be required to worship that man of sin; the son of perdition.

The koiné Greek word for "falling away" is apostasia (ap-os-tas-ee'-ah) which means: defection from truth; viz: apostasy. This is not the same as heresy. An heretic stays with his church and undermines its unity by subtly introducing unapproved doctrines; while an apostate doesn't stay, but instead totally renounces his church, and quite possibly his entire denomination, and walks away; sort of like a Baptist switching to Seventh Day Adventism.

In the future; people will apostatize to save their skins and here's why:

Rev 13:11-15 . . And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.

. . . And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

In my opinion, the man to fear is not the first beast, but the second because of his miraculous powers. Anyway since no one on earth at present has fulfilled any of those predictions, then it's a safe bet that the day of Christ isn't in progress yet so don't worry about it. In point of fact, believers are commanded to abstain from worrying about it.

NOTE: The disclaimer below is located in paragraph 12, under the heading; "Who is leading God's People today?" of the Feb 2017 Watchtower—Study Edition:

"The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible. Therefore, it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction. In fact, the Watch Tower Publications Index includes the heading “Beliefs Clarified,” which lists adjustments in our Scriptural understanding since 1870. Of course, Jesus did not tell us that his faithful slave would produce perfect spiritual food."

In spite of that disclaimer; faithful, hard working JWs go door to door all over the globe propagating Watchtower Society teachings as if they're honest to gosh true and reliable.


287) 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.

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.

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.

291) 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)

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.

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." (2Thess 2:15)

"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.

293) 1Tim 2:1-2 . . First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

Not all Christians in the world are peace-loving. But those of us who are would just like to be left alone by the world's governments so we can go about the practice of our religion without fear of crack-downs, especially in communist countries and Arab lands.

What the world needs now,
Is love, sweet love.
It's the only thing,
That there's just too little of
(Hal David and Burt Bacharach, 1965)

Well; love is okay; but what the world really needs now is a whole lots more religious tolerance; and not just for some, but for everyone.

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 hands dedicated to serving Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively. Other kinds of hands should be kept at one's side till such a time as they qualify as holy.

The koiné 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 koiné Greek word for "shamefacedness" is aidos (ahee-doce') which means: bashfulness; 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 difficult people aren't permitted in the kingdom of heaven.

296) 1Tim 2:11 . . Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.

The koiné 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 the personal feelings and/or opinions of Christ's believing followers are trumped by a final opinion higher than any on Earth.

297) 1Tim 2:12-15 . . I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

In the "my" church of Matt 16:18, males are the gender designated to captain the ships; not the females. I pity 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 as per Eph 4:11-16.

Speaking of "authority over a man" a very common violation of that rule is on the internet where women are installed as moderators on Christian forums known to me frequented by Christian men.

NOTE: The apostle Paul remarked "We are not unaware of Satan's schemes" (2Cor 2:11). Well; the Devil's oldest scheme in the book is to lead a woman astray so that she in turn will lead a man astray. Need I say more?

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 koiné Greek word for "overseer" is episkopos (ep-is'-kop-os) which means: a superintendent; viz: church officers.

Pastors of modern churches aren't really pastors in the true Biblical sense; they're actually managers. A true pastor is essentially a shepherd; which is totally different (and somewhat rare too). In point of fact, pastors no longer supervise churches at all: boards run churches, and pastors are merely employees; viz: hirelings.

To tell the truth, I'm afraid of today's career pastors; I don't trust them, and do my best to avoid them because I don't feel safe in their presence; which is very abnormal. If there's anybody on God's green earth that The Lord's sheep should be able to trust, it's their local shepherd but far too many church managers today regard their congregations as numbers and/or threats to their security.

Why must pastors 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 sexual 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 a pastor can have only one wife at a time; viz: not a polygamist; while others feel it says he can be married only once in his lifetime; viz: not a widower or a divorced man.

I tend to think it means one wife at a time. If so; then this passage, and Titus 1:5-6 have the distinction of being the only places in the entire Bible prohibiting polygamy.

However; the rule is very narrow. It specifically regulates the home life of church officers, so it would be wrong to use those passages to justify forcing monogamy upon the rank and file. But, if polygamy conflicts with the laws of one's State of residence, then of course the State has the final say in that regard. (cf. Rom 13:1-5)

301) 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: observing reasonable limits.

302) 1Tim 3:2d . . prudent

The koiné word for "prudent" is sophron (so'-frone) which means: having a sound mind; viz: rational, reasonable, and sensible as opposed to emotional and reactive.

303) 1Tim 3:2e . . respectable

The koiné Greek 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.

304) 1Tim 3:2f . . hospitable

The koiné 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 another line of work.

305) 1Tim 3:2g . . apt to teach

"apt to teach" is from the Greek 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.

306) 1Tim 3:3a . . not addicted to wine

Church officers aren't forbidden alcohol; just too much alcohol.

1Tim 5:23 . . No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

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'd suggest confiding in a doctor because there are much better treatments available in our day than there were in Timothy's.

307) 1Tim 3:3b . . not pugnacious

Webster's defines pugnacious as: militant, defensive, warlike, combative, pushy, assertive, 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 the pulpit. Heaven forbid!!!

308) 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. However, though shepherds walk softly so as not to frighten the sheep; at the same time; they carry a big stick.

309) 1Tim 3:3d . . free from the love of money.

L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, started out as an author of pulp science fiction novels for a penny per word. One day he came to the conclusion that the real money was in religion, especially if it had a non-profit tax exemption.

Well; today, the net worth of just the top three of Scientology's upwards of thirty entities— Scientology International, the Flag Service Organization, and the Church Of Spiritual Technology —is in the neighborhood of 1.5 billion dollars. The personal net worth of David Miscavige, Scientology's current head, is rumored to be somewhere around 50 million. It's very curious how a supposedly non-profit church, and it's head, amassed such fortunes.

Back in 1988-99, a tel-evangelist named James Orsen Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in Federal prison (later reduced to 8) for embezzling millions of dollars from his own ministry and using some of the money to construct an extravagant mansion— complete with gold plumbing —for he and wife Tammy, and a luxurious kennel for their pet dog.

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.

310) 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 force. Tyranny doesn't earn respect; it earns fear, suspicion, mistrust, and dread. Instilling fear into the hearts of one's children is sure to backfire some day when they're older.

Back in Ephesians, we pointed out that children are discouraged by fathers that abuse their human rights. Well, abusive church officers are just as bad. Despots and dictators are certain to discourage their congregations just as surely as abusive fathers break their children's spirit.

Managing a home falls into the category of stewardship; which is a power very easily abused if one isn't careful. I would say that Joseph was a good steward because he didn't use his power for personal gain, but rather for the protection of the Egyptians under whom Pharaoh put his control. But not all stewards are like Joseph.

Take for example Bhumibol Adulyadej, the late king of Thailand. His personal wealth at the time of his death was estimated to be 30 billion dollars. I really have to question the integrity of a steward who goes to his grave with 30 billion dollars the meanwhile that poverty levels in his country are rising.

311) 1Tim 3:6 . . He must not be a novice, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the Devil.

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 scared because God will hold them to a higher standard than the rank and file.

312) 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 McDonald's, 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 koiné 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.

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.

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. While true that some homes are content with sister wives, Jacob's sure wasn't. Keeping it down to one wife rather than two is one less distraction for church men to cope with.

317) 1Tim 4:7a . . Have nothing to do with the worldly fantasies of withered old women.

Paul isn't speaking of action comics and/or pulp novels that can be purchased at venders like Barnes & Noble and Borders; but rather, of the religious traditions that the seniors of every generation customarily pass down to the young; thus perpetuating non Christian beliefs and practices.

The USA's indigenous cultural traditions would be a good example of this. When a Native American becomes a Christian, the Bible's God 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.

This 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.

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)

319) 1Tim 4:11 . . Command and teach these things.

I believe Paul was referring to everything he wrote 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 think it had more to do with his looks.

Some men age well; for instance the actor Rob Lowe. As of today, he's 54 years old; but honestly doesn't look it. He's one of those lucky guys who seem to be forever 21.

I think Timothy was like that. He just didn't look old enough to take the reins of a church, let alone an entire diocese. In other words: Timothy didn't look the part so he was going to have to really mean business if he was to win people's respect.

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 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.

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.

A church officer can progress in only one of two directions. If he goes downwards, as the Laodicean pastor of Rev 4:14-20; that's not progress, that's regress; which Webster's defines as: movement backward to a previous, and especially worse, or more primitive, state or condition. This doesn't mean that a church's facility needs paint and its weeds sprayed with Roundup. We're talking about an officer's personal spiritual condition. He may be the head honcho of an illustrious, impressive, big-city church campus, and still be in a condition of regression because it's not the outside of a church that testifies to an officer's true spiritual condition, but rather, his own insides; for example:

Matt 23:27-28 . . You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and all kinds of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

The koiné Greek word for "hypocrisy" is hupokrisis (hoop-ok'-ree-sis) which means acting under a feigned part. Hypocrisy is a lucrative profession for people employed in movies, sit-coms, and soaps. But that's okay because it's all above board. We know they're just playing roles and they're not trying to get by with anything; but an officer is not supposed to be an actor; he's supposed to be a man of integrity.

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.

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 who are 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. Were they to speak to the younger men in church the very same way that they're accustomed to speaking to their own kin; it would produce disastrous results.

325) 1Tim 5:2 . . Speak to the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

The koiné 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 in an advantageous position for meeting women; thus opportunities for trysts, assaults, and abuse abound.

Speaking to older women as mothers means doing so in compliance with the fourth of the Ten Commandments.

Ex 20:12 . . Honor your mother

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.

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 offspring have a sacred obligation to provide for their aging ancestors.

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 5:11-12 . . But 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. And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

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, besides to chronology, to priority, i.e. order of importance.

I don't really know why some versions translate the Greek word for "faith" as a pledge. 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 to marry only someone from among his followers (2Cor 6:14, 1Cor 7:39) thus shirking their duty to a higher calling.

330) 1Tim 5:14 . . So I will that younger widows marry, have children, manage their homes, and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.

According to Paul's criteria, a widow qualifies as "younger" if she's not yet undergone menopause. A young ex-wife still has a good supply of active hormones, and a very lively libido that needs an outlet. This is just a fact of life and all the religion in the world is not going to make it go away. A few women are okay with celibacy, but not all that many are. Even women that some men might evaluate as "frigid" will feel comfortable in the right man's arms, so don't be too quick to write them off.

Dr. Laura Schlesinger often advised single moms to forget about even so much as dating till their children are at least 18. Well, that's easy for Laura to say because she's somewhat masculine (i.e. androgynous), but real women are going to find that restriction unbearable; and besides, Paul's instructions are Christ's rules for Christian women, not Laura's rules.

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.

Single women need to think rationally and objectively about their future; and ask themselves: Can I really live out the rest of my life without a man to share it? 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 here because this is pretty serious stuff.

Another danger of single women going too long without a man is immorality. Desire, loneliness, and longings for appreciation, have a way of building up to unbearable levels in people who live by themselves 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: They say a man has his needs. Well; a woman has her needs too. Let's not forget that.

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.

It's awful to think that a religion based upon love, has to command its adherents to extend kindness to their own kin.

But in all fairness, I should point out that Paul's directive only impacts believing widows, not unbelieving, because a Christian church is under zero obligation to support widows who fail to meet all the requirements of a "widow indeed" as per 1Tim 5:9-10.

What we're talking about here are specifically Christian widows; so if those among your relatives are say, Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim, Buddhist, Bahái, Hindu, Jehovah's Witness, Scientology, or Mormon, et al; then don't even think about asking your church to help support them. If you want to help them, okay, but leave your church out of it.

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 koiné 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 have 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 submit to 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 bottom of a soldier's boot.

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.

However, if the accusations prove to be true, then the shoe is on the other foot. Then it's time to expose the elder.

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 mandated procedure for roasting and expelling. (as if any of this is ever optional)

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.

Matt 23:27-28 . . Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

How very true that is of the staff of some of the churches in this day and age.

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 think that 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.

A competent pastor can't be blamed when members of his congregation drift away to cults; but he can at least make an effort to ensure they have some truth under their belts before they go because if perchance they become disillusioned with the cult, they'll have something solid to fall back on.

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 . . And 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 koiné 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.

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 koiné 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".

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; 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 and/or mini Czars for whom power and prestige are irresistible.

343) 1Tim 6:12a . . Fight the good fight of the faith.

The first koine 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, a "good" race is won only when the winner plays by the rules; or otherwise it's a bad race: they're disqualified and win nothing.

2Tim 2:5 . .When someone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.

In other words: in "the good fight", the end rarely, if ever, justifies the means.

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 are 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.

So then, why would Paul encourage Timothy to take hold of eternal life if he already had it?

Well; having it, and making use of it, are two very different things. By telling his friend to lay hold of eternal life, Paul was telling him to lay hold of the fruit of the Spirit.

Gal 5:22-25 . .The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance . . if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

So then, how does one lay hold of the fruit of the Spirit? Well; it's here where conduct plays a very important role in the lives of Christ's believing followers.

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

Gal 6:7-8 . . Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.

NOTE: Seeing as how eternal life is a quality of life that's immune to death, then when Christ's believing followers live according to the sinful nature, they don't lose their eternal life; they just lose the use of it.

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 koiné 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's version is the better one; 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 wishes, which up to this point has totaled 345; with more to come.

The koiné word for "without spot/purity" is aspilos (as'-pee-loswhich means: unblemished.

It takes a pretty concentrated, uncompromising effort for a man to finish up a life of Christian service with an unblemished record. He's really got to mind his p's and q's the meanwhile maintaining graciousness; which consists of being honest, trustworthy, reliable, affable, tactful, genial, sociable, generous, charitable, altruistic, cheerful, reasonable, sensitive, thoughtful, patient, peaceable, kind, considerate, temperate, tolerant, approachable, helpful, supportive, unselfish, compassionate, sympathetic, mild, not easily provoked, humble, and courteous; plus characterized by a lack of stubbornness, assertiveness, despotism, conceit, and arrogance.

NOTE: The epistles of Titus, 1Timothy, 2Timothy, and to some extent 1Peter, are sometimes referred to as "pastoral" because they contain a large number of instructions related to the function of ordained Christian ministers.

Had Martin Luther King Jr complied with those instructions instead of going off-reservation into political activism and civil disobedience, he might've lived to a ripe old age. As it is, King died a martyr to a worldly cause instead of Christ's. That aspect of his ministry will no doubt go up in smoke as wood, hay, and stubble as per 1Cor 3:5-15. (cf. John 15:1-8)

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. 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.

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 a 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 God's help.

"that which is life indeed" refers to the divine nature about which Peter wrote at 2Pet 1:2-11, and the fruit of the Spirit about which Paul wrote at Gal 5:22-25, which are of far greater lasting value than the fruits of earthly wealth.

347) 1Tim 6:20-21 . . Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from impious chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.

"impious chatter" is likely referring to informal discursive group discussions, i.e. bull sessions; conducted by people with a head full of opinions who likely haven't a clue what they're talking about.

"opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge," could be referring to unproven scientific theories in chemistry, astronomy, geology, archeology, medicine, genetics, paleontology, anthropology, history, literature, physics, engineering, mathematics, etc.

People throw that kind of 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 religious fantasy.


349) 2Tim 1:8a . . Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,

Some situations call for quoting Jesus; which has the consequence of making us feel like kooks and/or religious fanatics. It's tough, but we have to bite the bullet and get past it.

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.

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.

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, and betrayal; in other words, the kinds of stuff that really get you right down in the gut.

NOTE: The Devil and his invisible minions are always at work secretly pushing the buttons of people all around pastors; and the very ones pastors really have to look out for are the people under their noses running their own churches.

An Evangelical Lutheran Church minister named Rev John H. Beck conducted a three-year study of church conflict; and his findings are not comforting. According to an article in the Aug 24, 2009 edition of the Oregonian in Portland OR: the issues that cause congregational conflict are typically (1) a pastor and his staff not getting along, (2) a board wanting to take a different direction, and (3) two strong-willed people getting into it and others in the congregation taking sides.

What's going on there? Well, that's not too hard to figure out is it? The Devil is pushing the buttons in those churches while The Lord is outside the building banging on the door trying to get somebody's attention to let him in.

351) 2Tim 1:13 . . Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me.

The koiné 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.

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 dead. 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 was one of his believing followers, not one; no, not even the senior pastor.

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.

I truly believe that if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr had stayed in church and complied with the Bible's directives for ordained Christian ministers as per the epistles of Titus, 1&2 Timothy, and to some extent 1Peter instead of getting involved in political activism and civil disobedience, he could have served Christ another thirty-five years instead of getting himself assassinated when he was only 39 years old.

Was Dr. King a martyr? Well, if he was, it certainly wasn't in a cause for Christ. No, it was for a worldly cause. Dr. King marginalized his pastoral responsibilities. He put duty to the color of his skin first, and duty to Christ second. That was a very bad move for an ordained Christian minister obligated to a congregation above all other interests.

Eph 4:11-12 . . He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ

1Tim 4:13 . . Focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.

1Pet 5:1-4 . .To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:

. . . Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers— not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

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.

356) 2Tim 2:14 . . Command them in God's name to stop quarrelling over trifles.

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 trifling 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 issues begging their attention.

It's interesting that Paul didn't want Timothy's flock instructed to avoid quarrelling over trifles, rather, to stop quarrelling. I can't help but wonder how many Christians think to seek absolution for the sin of quarrelling over trifles when they go to confession.

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 koiné 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; 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.

What he's talking about there are bull sessions wherein 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, the Bible isn't meant to be learned by means of discussion; it's meant to be learned by instruction, taught by someone 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. That's why files are hardened and tempered. Well; that man's group lacked a file, so to speak; so I declined.

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.

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 for "blessed" means fortunate. In other words; people lacking those attributes are unfortunate; i.e. in a regrettable spiritual condition.

361) 2Tim 2:23 . . But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce debating.

Not all speculation is forbidden; only the kind that's absurd and uneducated; i.e. way out in the Kuiper Belt, so to speak.

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.

362) 2Tim 2:24a . . The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome

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 you 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 teachers for the world's benefit, rather, for his body's benefit.

For that reason; Christ's teachers need to treat the people in church who oppose them 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.

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.

Gently caressing your pet's ears sometimes soothes them and has a marked calming effect; especially when they're itching from mites and fleas. The truth actually does hurt sometimes— with or without mites and fleas.

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 koiné 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 Baptist 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: Baptists 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 koiné 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 2:3-5 . . The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness: not traducers, not given to much wine, teachers of right; that they may train the young women to be sensible, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and subordinate to their own husbands; that the word of God not be dishonored.

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 gossip.

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. One could hardly characterize malicious gossips as either good or discreet.

Too many women in America have been trained for marriage by 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 be independent of males. Yet the very lord and master of Christianity, the supreme male in the universe; demands death to a woman's self interests, and submission to His monarchy.

Luke 14:26 . . 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.

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.

Rom 12:1-2 . .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.

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 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. 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 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 conduct.

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 koiné 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 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 koiné 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 koiné 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.

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.

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 —is essentially criminal.

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 government. Thoreau's concept of civil disobedience foments anarchy which, according to Rom 13:1-5 and 1Pet 2:13-15, is strictly forbidden for Christ's followers.

I highly recommend that Christ's followers NOT get themselves involved in political activism; viz: movements and/or protests, demonstrations, and marches, etc. You'll just get yourself in trouble with the law and in trouble with God too.

A bad example is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's activism wherein he was arrested upwards of thirty times. His civil disobedience was political, i.e. patterned after Thoreau's philosophy with just enough religion thrown in to give the impression that King was on a mission from God. If you get arrested while following Thoreau's philosophy and/or King's example, you will fully deserve jail time; and don't expect God to applaud. You'll be on your own. (cf. John 15:1-10)

377) Titus 3:2 . . malign no one, be non-contentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

The koiné Greek word for "malign" is blasphemeo (blas-fay-meh'-o) which means: to vilify

Webster's defines vilify as: to lower in estimation or importance, and/or to utter abusive statements against

Vilification is a clear violation of Phil 2:3, which reads: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Should I consider Bernard "Bernie" Madoff as better than myself? (chuckle) No. It isn't vilification to say the man is a louse when he's been clearly proven to be one. That's neither malignant nor malevolent. What we're talking about here is mean-spirited, unwarranted vilification.

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 koiné 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. 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 koiné 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.

We 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 forsakes 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, and to cause division. Every church has its fair share of heretics and they can be very disruptive in a Sunday school class.

The koiné 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, nor be seen with them attending church.

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.

381) Titus 3:14 . . And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

"good works for necessary uses" implies necessities; e.g. food, water, shelter, companionship, assistance, etc.

The pronoun "ours" obviously excludes the heretics. They don't need to maintain good works since they're essentially tares rather than wheat and nothing they do in Christ's name is merit-worthy.

Matt 7:22-23 . . Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Master, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them : I never knew you. Depart from me, you that work iniquity.

382) Titus 3:15 . . Greet them that love us in the faith.

Heretics are of course excluded from the group that Paul labeled "them that love us in the faith". It would be a sin to require believers to say hello to them for Paul; since his orders are to shun heretics. He didn't want to know them anymore. They were not his favorite kinds of Christians.

You know what that says to me? It says to me that heretics are even less acceptable than a stranger because Christ instructed his disciples to greet strangers.

Matt 5:47 . . And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the publicans do so?

So heresy is pretty serious.

383) Philemon

In the little communiqué to his friend Philemon, Paul went to bat for a runaway slave named Onesimus. By all rights, Philemon could legally, under Roman law, put Onesimus to death; but as Onesimus' fellow believer, and his sibling around the table in God's home, Philemon was bound by a higher sense of duty and association.

Onesimus ran away prior to his conversion to Christianity. Had he been a Christian, he would have been mindful of Eph 6:5-8, Col 3:22-25, 1Tim 6:1- 2, and Titus 2:9-10a and not run away.

Now that Onesimus was a fellow believer, Philemon was obligated to comply with Eph 6:9a, and Col 4:1.

You know, I keep using words like "obligated" but though that word is appropriate, it shouldn't have to be emphasized because Christianity is supposed to be a religion of devotion rather than obligation to duty.

Gal 5:13 . . By love serve one another.

Israel's covenanted law requires people to love others as themselves; but Jesus commands believers to love their fellow believers with the same degree of love with which he himself loves them.

John 15:12 . . My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

That being the case, it must have been very easy for Philemon to let bygones be bygones and welcome Onesimus back into his home.

When Onesimus became Philemon's fellow believer, the nature of their association took on a whole other dimension; viz: every one of the commands that I've posted up till now, in regards to believers associating with one another, came into play at the moment of Onesimus' conversion.

He and Philemon would never again relate to one another the same as before Onesimus' conversion. Where once Onesimus and Philemon were merely fellow men; in Christ they became siblings, and both will one day sit side by side, shoulder to shoulder as equals around the table in God's home.

Philem 1:15-16 . . For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; not now as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in The Lord?

As a conscientious Christian, Onesimus no doubt became a real asset because it wouldn't be necessary for Philemon to ever again beat an honest day's work out of him.

1Tim 6:1-2 . . All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them.

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 7:30, Ex 19:16-18)

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 koiné 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, then would not Psalm 95 afterward have spoken of a different day. 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 4:15-16

When I was a little boy, just about every night at bedtime I recited the classic Lay Me Down To Sleep children's prayer. In my opinion; a rote prayer like that one is okay for getting children started communicating with God.

Jesus' disciples were full-grown men physically. But they were just babies spiritually. A prayer like the Our Father is a good place for spiritually immature Christians like Jesus' disciples to begin, but it's not a good place for them to stay.

"When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things." (1Cor 13:11)

Now let's take Jesus for example. There is no record of him ever even once praying the Our Father. In point of fact, when examining Jesus' prayers, it's readily apparent that he typically prayed in a conversational style instead of reciting rote. Two good examples of his style are located at Matt 11:25-26 and John 17:1-26. Jesus' style is the style that mature Christians are supposed to follow as their role model.

"We should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ" (Eph 4:15)

"And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ" (Eph 4:11-13)

When people have been Christians for some time, and still reciting rote prayers, I'd have to say that their spiritual growth has been stunted, i.e. they're not developing properly because they haven't been getting adequate nourishment.

Christians who've attained "mature manhood" are supposed to pray in accord with the instructions given at Heb 4:15-16 which reads thus:

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need."

The Greek word for "confidence" is parrhesia (par-rhay-see'-ah) which means all out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, and/or candor.

Reciting the scripted lines of prayers like Lay Me Down To Sleep, the Hail Mary, and/or the Our Father is not what I call forthright, nor blunt, nor out spoken, nor candid. It's actually not much different than one of those Hindu mystics chanting mantras, or a Jew stuffing pieces of paper in the stone chinks of the so-called Wailing Wall while rocking back and forth like a plastic bobble toy and reciting rote prayers from a siddur.

Does anyone speak to their friends, their associates, their spouse, their domestic partner, their significant other, their doctor, dentist, supermarket cashiers, or the cops with rote chanting? Of course not. They would write us off as one in desperate need of therapy if we did. Then why would anyone speak to God with rote chanting?

Don't you think He looks upon rote chanters as mental cases when they do that? Of course He does; who wouldn't? How would you like it if everybody spoke to you like that? Well, He doesn't like it either. God has a higher IQ than anybody you could possibly name and rote chanters are treating Him like a totem pole. The Bible's God is a king who deserves far more respect than a US President yet people are speaking to Him like a tape recorder rather than the ultimate Sovereign that He is.

Christianity's God is a sentient, sensible person; and we all need to show some respect for His intelligence.

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 talks to Jews about a high priest named Melchizedek who lived in Abraham's day. Mel is largely ignored on internet forums; which is really a shame because his priesthood, and its constituents, are above the Ten Commandments and thoroughly immune to prosecution for breaking them; which is just the ticket for Jews because they have no immunity from prosecution for even the tiniest infraction.

Deut 27:26 . .Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.

Matt 5:18 . .Truly; until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.

Jas 2:10 . .Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

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

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 de-contaminate someone or some thing in order to make it suitable for God's purposes. Well, in point of fact; none of the Old Testament's sprinklings served to cleanse people's conscience once and for all time. They had to keep bringing one sacrifice after another in a perpetual stream of sacrifices because each sacrifice cleansed their conscience just that one time instead of for all time.

Heb 10:10-14 . .We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but he, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until his enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Christ sat down at the right hand of God; which is something the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God does not allow for its high priest, He dare not linger with God in the holy of holies behind the veil primarily because the blood of a beast that the priest sprinkles on the mercy seat doesn't suffice to permanently sanitize either himself or the people.

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; he acts highhandedly; viz: he commits a willful sin for which the original covenant provides neither forgiveness nor atonement. That man is a scofflaw and in desperate need of a safety net.

Now, the author mentioned that "He is faithful that promised". So then, what is the promise? Well; the promise relates, among other things, to God's spirit; which began its journey to His people back in the Old Testament thusly:

"This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, I will pour out My spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out My spirit in those days, and they will prophesy." (Joel 2:28-29, cf. Acts 2:16-18)


"I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws." (Ezek 36:24-27)

The promise is gold because the forgiveness it promises applies to "all your impurities" i.e. willful sins just as much as inadvertent sins; viz; it's the safety net that every Torah-trained Jew so desperately needs to get him out from under the original covenant's terrible consequences for breaching it.

"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 wishes 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— and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

When my brother and I were growing up, we shared the same bedroom. Well, one day our parents decided to separate us, so they moved my brother to another room. When I asked them why; they said it was because we egg each other on. (I guess it was okay for my parents to egg themselves on but not okay for us.)

Anyway, point being, the old strategy of divide and conquer still works even to this day. It's much easier to be strong in a group of supportive friends and allies than it is all alone when the only resources available are your own. It's still true that two heads are better than one; plus, in a group, the right kind of peer pressure can work to everyone's advantage.

For example, there was a time in America when it was mocked as hippy-ish to subsist on organic food. But lately, organic has become so popular that nobody feels weird anymore when they shop for it. That's what I mean by the right kind of peer pressure.

Anyway; when people are isolated, they're much easier to suppress, and prevent from conspiring against a common foe; which is why unions are called "organized" labor. One or two workers alone against the front office are probably going to get themselves crushed but when the entire workforce is united in a common cause, it's not so easy for corporate bulldozers to abuse human rights.

NOTE: The "day" the author spoke of is the Day Of The Lord, in which several judgments are scheduled to take place. The one most pertinent to Christ's people is their performance evaluation as per 1Cor 3:5-15, and the one most pertinent to the world is the Tribulation depicted in the book of Revelation, and the one most pertinent to the lost is their day in court as per Rev 20:11-15; and the one most pertinent to Moses' people is a sort of Ellis Island as per Ezek 20:33-44.

397) Heb 10:32-34 . . Remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly, by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated . . knowing in yourselves that you have for yourselves a better possession: one that abides

I think one of the worst injuries to my feelings I had to endure when I was an up-and-coming Bible believer was to be called a Jesus Freak; which is a denigrating label once pinned on those involved in the Jesus movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was quickly embraced by some, and soon broadened to describe a Christian subculture throughout the hippie and back-to-the-land movements that focused on universal love and pacifism, and relished the supposed "radical" nature of Jesus' message.

Well, I was neither a hippie nor an organic gardener; I was just a simple guy very interested in Christianity. The heck of it was that the people who called me that name were (I thought) my friends.

Another term I was labeled was Mr. Clean; and that was by a girl I had known in high school as (I thought) a close personal friend. Well, later in life, after she divorced and began sleeping around, my "friend" got ticked off at me because I had no intention of getting in her pants so she called me that name. There I was the best friend and role model she knew of for her four fatherless children and she ridiculed me for being a decent man. (I can't help but wonder if a life of promiscuity was the goal she had in mind for her little ones.)

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.

I don't think the audience in this instance pertains to the spirits of deceased saints, rather, the people all around us in our daily lives.

"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.

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 it and wasn't using it properly. So a large percentage of my therapy involved getting that game leg strong again by means of an exercise regimen.

The Greek word for "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 5:14 where it says: "Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."

404) Heb 12:14a . . Pursue peace with all men,

The 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 advantageous category.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

405) Heb 12:14b . . Pursue holiness, without which no one will see The Lord.

The Greek word translated "holiness" actually means purity; which can be defined as free from immorality, especially of a sexual nature; and can also be defined as free from contamination.

There's a day coming when everybody associated with Christ will be pure.

Eph 5:25-27 . . Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

So, which might the focus be here: the pursuit of holiness or the possession of holiness? Well; I'd have to say that pursuit is the focus because I can't imagine anyone ever achieving flawless purity in speech, thought, and conduct in the brief amount of time we're allowed on earth no matter how how hard they try nor how they go about it.

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.

406) Heb 12:15a . . See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God

Grace comes out pretty early in the Bible.

Gen 6:8 . . Noah found grace in the eyes of The Lord.

Noah found that grace because he was righteous.

Gen 7:1 . .The Lord said to Noah: Enter the ark, you and all your household; for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.

Some Christians are so obsessed with the imputed righteousness that God grants via faith as per Rom 3:20-26 that they neglect to cultivate any of their own. Well; maybe they have no interest in their own personal righteousness; but God is plenty interested. He wants to see it; in point of fact: Christians lacking personal righteousness are missing out on the sunshine of a father's love.

John 14:23 . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

NOTE: Mother Teresa complained in private letters to spiritual counselors that the place for God in her soul was blank, He was not there; there was no God in her.

Teresa felt not the slightest glimmer of the Lord's presence during virtually the entire five decades she was in India; and referred to Jesus as "the absent one". Her prayers were pings; and God's silence was so extensive that she actually came to doubting that a God even exists; and if one did exist, it didn't want her.

In the final weeks of her life, Teresa was greatly disturbed. At the urging of Henry D'Souza, the Archbishop of Calcutta (a.k.a. Kolkata), the poor woman finally agreed to an exorcism— performed by Father Rosario Stroscio —if perchance demons were clouding her mind.

All in all, Teresa's spiritual condition was incredibly substandard considering her ranking as one of the most pious nuns the 20th century ever produced. What went wrong? How did her Christian experience fall into such a state of malfunction? Well; the answer to that question can be easily deduced from portions of this web page so I need not say more.

407) Heb 12:15b . . 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)

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.

Jehovah is sometimes called the god of the second chance. Well; this epistle is basically an open letter to the Jews so it's appropriate to remind them that their ancestors, as a corporate body, failed to take advantage of their privileges and ended staring down the wrong end of a rifle barrel, so to speak. The Jews of today are in the very same danger.

Heb 12:27-29 . ."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.

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.

410) Heb 13:1 . . Let brotherly love continue.

Brotherly love is way different than neighborly love. Brothers are kin, while neighbors are outsiders; ergo: one's kin in Christ should always have the priority when forced to make a choice between a brother and a neighbor. The directives are different too. Christians love their neighbors as they love themselves (Matt 19:19) while loving their brothers as Christ loves them (John 13:34).

411) Heb 13:2 . . Do not neglect to be hospitable with strangers; for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

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 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 has the potential to increase your church's spiritual value to God.

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 things like fire, wind, smoke, voices, and earthquakes. (Acts 7:53)

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 body" isn't referring to the overall, worldwide Christian fraternity. No, it's a specific human body: the one in which Christ was crucified.

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.

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.

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 respected: and the bed kept unsoiled; for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

A number of despicable behaviors are listed in the 18th chapter of Leviticus; and one of them— listed right along with incest and LGBT —is adultery.

Rom 1:18 says that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and goes on to list not only LGBT as one of those ungodly, unrighteous behaviors worthy of the wrath of God, but also sexual impurity and the degrading of people's bodies with one another. Sexual impurity and degradation includes not only sleeping around and/or cohabitating, but also adultery.

Some Christians don't know the meaning of "respect" when it comes to marriage. It means to treat someone else's spouse as a sacred object. I've seen for myself how some Christians think it's terrible to trespass on private property and/or steal the silverware when they're invited over for dinner; but at the same time get just a bit too chummy with their host's spouse.

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.

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; and adulterers are nothing in the world but thieves. In point of fact, in 2007, when a suburban Chicago man, Arthur Friedman, found out his wife was cheating on him with another man named German Blinov, he was heartbroken. But unlike many other people, Friedman didn't "get over" it. Instead, he filed a lawsuit against Mr. Blinov for stealing the love and affections of his wife. A Cook County jury ordered Blinov to pay a total $4,802 to Mr. Friedman for stealing his wife.

While the idea of suing your wife's or husband's lover for stealing their affections might sound ridiculous, it is indeed quite legal to do so. Mr. Friedman used a lesser-known state law to attack and sue his wife's lover. The law is called the "alienation of affection" law. In fact, there are eight of these types of laws across the United States. It allows violated spouses to seek damages for the loss of love to a wife or husband's lover.

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.

A wedding vow then, could be said to be a transfer of ownership just like signing over the pink slip to a car or the deed to real estate. So then, always keep those possessive pronouns in mind when associating with somebody else's spouse; and keep your pea-pickin' paws off the merchandise!

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 think the mortgage crisis in 2008, the stock market crash, the 401K meltdowns, the ENRON collapse, the decline in oil production, the GM financial mess, the national debt, massive nationwide lay-offs, the proliferation of Islamic terrorism, and Mr. Bernard Lawrence Madoff easily demonstrate that Man can hurt me quite a bit.

I lost an appreciable amount from my retirement account 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 peace of mind, I still believe in providence; i.e. The Lord will get me through it all somehow. Well; 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, Micah; et al. about whom the Bible says:

Heb 11:33-34 . .Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

Heb 11:35-38 . .Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them.

Heb 11:39-40 . .They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

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.

The word "strange" is translated from the Greek word xenos (xen'-os) which essentially refers to someone or something with which Christians are unfamiliar. 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 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 epistle to Hebrews hardly seems "brief" but maybe in those days it amounted to little more than a memo.

Christ's teachings as per the epistles are sometimes regarded as recommendations; viz: as advice, rather than law. 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.

The epistle of James is another like the epistle to Hebrews whose target audience is the author's "brethren" viz: the twelve tribes of Israel; a.k.a. the Diaspora (Jas 1:1). So then, the epistle is probably best interpreted from the perspective of a Jewish Christian rather than that of a Gentile Christian.

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.

424) 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 koiné 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.

426) Jas 1:10 . . but the rich should glory in that he is made low:

This verse, taken with Jas 1:9, appears to be taking a stand against socio/economic strata, i.e. a caste system. In other words: nobody "in Christ" is somehow better, cleaner, or holier than another because in Christ all are one body rather than many bodies.

Rom 12:16 . . Be of the same mind toward one another; not haughty, snobby, or conceited; but identifying with the lowly.

Identifying with the lowly entails keeping company with them as equals.

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 Eve blamed the Devil for her part in the act (Gen 3:13). It takes really big men and women to admit their culpability and say: The buck stops here! No recriminations!

However, though God tempts no one to evil, He does put certain ones through the ringer to see what they're made of— even His own kin —to test and/or prove their resilience to temptation; e.g. The Lord himself.

Matt 4:1 . . Then was Jesus led up of The Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil.

Heb 5:7-8 . . While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could protect him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his reverence for God. So even though Jesus was God's son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.

In other words, a truly righteousness person retains their innocence in the presence of temptation.

Criminals often gripe about entrapment when the cops catch them red handed in a sting. But if the crooks were truly righteous, 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.

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;

I can't help but wonder how many Christian parents have children whom— in teaching them good manners —they taught 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 the Bible's God immune to anger. (Ex 4:14, Num 11:1, Rom 1:18, Rom 2:8)

Non-sinful anger can be a valuable tool if it's administered 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 . .Therefore, 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 koiné Greek word for it is sozo (sode'-zo) which is another 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).

Gal 5:19-21 . . Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are . . hatred, contentions, and outbursts of wrath

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.

There's a guy up here in Oregon who founded a bread factory with his brother that became very successful. You might know it as Dave's Killer Bread. Well; Dave has rage issues. He was paroled from prison not all that long ago and his life was on easy street until he lost his temper and got in a bucket of trouble with law enforcement.

430) Jas 1:22 . . Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Some Christians need to hone-up on their spiritual grooming habits.

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.

NOTE: Jesus attached a really big blessing to compliance. (John 14:21-23)

I believe that "the perfect law that gives freedom" is the whole Bible from cover to cover; as Paul said:

"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" (Rom 15:4).

He also told his friend Timothy that all Scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Tim 3:16-17)

Back in those days "all Scripture" was pretty much limited to the Old Testament. Today it includes the New Testament canon.

People who make a life-long habit of studying the Bible from cover to cover for its spiritual content can't help but be improved by it a least a little bit. The easiest, and the best way I know to do this is by listening to a ½ hour program on radio called Thru The Bible; hosted by a now-deceased minister named J.Vernon McGee. His program takes five years to go through the entire Bible practically verse by verse. The program loops; viz: when McGee gets to the end; the program starts all over again. His method is pretty cool. When he gets done with an Old Testament book, he starts one in the New Testament, and vice versa. Program information is online at

431) Jas 2:1 . . My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ— The Lord of glory —with respect of persons.

The koiné 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 the same as 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 avoided me without my knowing it because of all that.

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 as Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. That law is depicted in the New Testament as a law of bondage rather than freedom. (Gal 5:1)

Within the context of James' epistle, the law of liberty— a.k.a. Christ's law (Rom 8:2) —judges Christians by how they treat other people in accord with how Christ wants them to be treated in his name.

NOTE: There are Christians out there who are so uncivil, 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 seen people actually boast of leading a Sunday school class; as if the position were an achievement. Let me warn those people about something. If they accept a position to teach Sunday school for the prestige, their heart is definitely in the wrong place; they are not fully aware of just how frightening a responsibility it is to stand in for Christ.

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 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, 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 cannot see the Devil, but human touch cannot 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 wishes 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 without their knowledge.

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 God. Up to this point, I've listed 400+ of Christ's commandments that, if complied with, will go a long ways towards frustrating our adversary.

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, he will lift you up and give you honor.

437) Jas 4:11a . . Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.

The koiné 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? 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.

Some years ago when I was working as a welder/ship fitter in a family-owned boatyard on Shelter Island in San Diego, one of the boss' adolescent sons came out on a skiff I was helping to construct. He remarked to one of the men standing there, in my hearing, that I looked stupid.

Do I look stupid? Yes, I do. It's been a curse my entire life. If you were to meet me, your first impression would be that I'm a lummox. Some people look intelligent, and some people look just the opposite. I'm among the ones who look just the opposite; and I was looking low-brow way before Weird Al Yankovic came out with a rock parody in 1985 titled:  "Dare To Be Stupid."

So then, what the boss' son said was true. But was it necessary? No; it was thoroughly unnecessary, and in point of fact his thoughtless remark cut me deeply; but what could I do? He was the boss' son. Anon, that boy grew up to become one of worst cases of male vanity it has been my misfortune to encounter in life. Though he came of a good family, the boss' son had the nature of a churl; through and through.

"Words are weapons,
Sharper than knives."
The Devil Inside
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 forever with no chance of repair.

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 vaunt your braggadocio; all such vaunting is evil.

What’s wrong with prosperity? Nothing. The problem here is not prosperity; the problem is personal ambitions to the exclusion of God's feelings about them.

According to John 15:16, The Lord informed his followers that he selected them for three purposes : (1) to go, (2) to bring forth fruit, and (3) to associate with his Father.

Even Christ was subject to another's agenda.

John 5:30 . . I seek not to please myself, but rather, Him who sent me.

John 6:38 . . I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me.

I think Christians sometimes forget just how fragile human life really is. At any moment, they can be terminated by health, crime, or accident. It's the brevity of life that makes it so essential that people not squander it. If at all possible, bloom where you're planted instead of arbitrarily running off to greener pastures.

Eph 5:15-17 . .Therefore be intelligent in how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of The Lord is.

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, 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 koiné Greek word for "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 as per the voices 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 The Lord'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 small portion 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.

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.

Although watching porn, quarrelling with a spouse, mistreating the kids, road rage, J-walking, coasting through a stop sign, spray-painting graffiti on a subway car, or cussing the neighbor’s dog, is bad enough; kangaroo-courting is even worse.

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.

443) Jas 5:10 . . For an example of suffering and patience, brethren; take the prophets who spoke in The Lord's name.

In rock music, role models are called influences. But whatever your preference, role models and/or influences are handy for providing a pattern for the kinds of people we wish to be and/or the kinds of people we think we ought to be.

One of my favorite prophets was Noah. Can you just imagine the mockery, and the cruel remarks that poor man must have endured while he was constructing the ark? And the feelings of futility? He was a preacher of righteousness for 120 years (2Pet 2:5) and the only converts Noah won were his own wife, his three sons, and their wives. When the ark embarked, there was only a paltry eight human beings aboard.

According to Gen 6:1-2, there were other holy men on earth during Noah's days but they sold their souls for sex and subsequently died in the Flood right along with everybody else.

Noah was an oak; he never caved to the pressures of his era’s social customs nor duplicated their spiritual hypocrisy. Noah held his ground, remained true to the Bible’s God; and as a result, survived the Flood totally unharmed. He’s listed in the Bible as one of the most righteous men who ever lived.

Ezek 14:13-14 . . Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness: testifies The Lord God.

NOTE: Speaking of suffering and patience, I think the prophet Jeremiah should take the prize in that contest.

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 was ahead.

Most any kind of "hardship" can cause us to become irrational, lose our composure, and do something stupid, e.g. layoff, illness, death in the family, old age, betrayal, divorce, legal problems, student debt, traffic incidents, crime; etc. When that happens, it's a good idea to speak with God about the possibility of being led into doing something really stupid.

446) Jas 5:13b . . Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.

It's not impossible to sing when sad and depressed. A man named Horatio P. Spafford composed a very moving hymn while recovering from the deaths of his four daughters whose lives were lost aboard the S.S. Ville du Havre when it sank during a transatlantic voyage in 1873.

However, I recommend not asking the ones undergoing hardship to sing. They're very likely not in the mood.

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

It's all too common for religious fanatics to allow their underage children to die from treatable medical conditions on the basis of that verse. Where do we draw the line with the so-called "freedom of religion" guaranteed in the US Constitution's first amendment? Answer: We draw the line at the child's inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; which, according to America's Declaration of Independence; are not only God-given rights, but also a self evident truth that men were created with those rights.

The DOI goes on to say that all men are created equal. It doesn't say grown-up men; it says all men, which means that women and children have just as much right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as anybody else. Parents who deny the truth of those rights are nothing in the world but wicked despots; and in point of fact the very kinds of twisted monarchs the DOI targets.

Christ addressed this issue indirectly by means of his teachings on the seventh day Sabbath; which, in a nutshell, says that the seventh day was made for man, not the other way around. (Mark 2:27)

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, Haiti emergency workers, etc. who are busy on the Sabbath do not sin. Do they break the Sabbath? Yes; but the sanctity of the Sabbath 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 as per James 5:14. But after that, parents really should take their children to a doctor because the sanctity of human life is far more important than strict observance of one's religious rituals.

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 5:16 . . Confess your sins to one another

The word "sins" is an arbitrary editorial insertion rather than a translation; viz: it isn't in the Greek manuscripts so somebody penciled it in. So we could safely re-translate that verse to read "Confess to one another".

There's quite a number of key words in the Bible that sometimes trigger a knee-jerk-reflex in people's minds and "confess" is one of them. It would seem to me that James isn't commanding Christians to confess their sins to one another as Father Confessors for the purpose of absolution; but rather: to simply man-up and admit when they're wrong. (cf. Matt 18:15-17).

I think testimonies would fall in this category too. In other words: own that some of the faults we find in others are ours too. (Rom 2:1)

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 koiné Greek word for "gird up" is anazonnumi (an-ad-zone'-noo-mee) which means: to gird afresh; viz: re-gird. Webster's defines gird as: to encircle or bind with a flexible band (as a belt).

The re-girding Peter is talking about is sort of like a man putting his pants on in the morning and tightening his belt to hold them up. He does that every day before he goes out the door for the day. But here we're putting on pants in one's mind; viz: it's a daily attitude adjustment.

A purposeful life is a life with an objective; and the one objective that every believer should keep in their mind's sights is that this life is only a stop-over. Their permanent destination is yet to come (cf. Heb 11:8-16). So they shouldn't get too attached to this life; rather, get themselves attached to the next; and the next is a world ruled by a monarch who has very different ideas than the world's in regards to good citizenship.

There used to be a popular term going around in Christian circles regarding the "purposeful life". It's a good term, and quite the opposite of a drifter's life; which is a life that has no purpose. Webster's defines a drifter as one that travels and/or moves about aimlessly. In other words, a drifter is a vagabond, which Webster's defines as somebody who leads an unsettled, irresponsible, or disreputable life. Though believers inhabit the current earth as pilgrims (1Pet 2:11) they're not to do so as vagabonds and/or drifters.

I have, on occasion in the past, recommended that unbelievers take a time-out to consider the possibility of their going to hell, and begin using what time they have remaining to prepare themselves for the worst when they pass on. Well; believers would be wise to take a time-out to consider just the opposite; viz: their going to heaven, and begin using what time they have remaining to prepare themselves for it when they pass on.

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

I once heard of a preacher complain that he wished his congregation were as afraid of the Devil as they are of holiness. (chuckle). Well, obviously his congregation lacked purpose; their attitude was that of drifters and vagabonds. They were all believers; they had that much going for them. They just needed somebody to throw cold water in their faces and wake them up to getting their eyes off the ground and getting their eyes up on the brass ring.

Col 3:1-4 . . So then, since you have been resurrected 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 will you also appear with him in glory.

People in heaven no doubt make a habit of treating God with reverential fear; that is: they respect both Him and His wishes. Down here, people make a habit of insolence and rebellion; even some of the people wearing a Christian ID tag.

453a) 1Pet 1:22a . . Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit

The grammatical tense of the words "have purified" is past rather than future. In other words, the souls of the Christians to whom Peter penned his epistle were already purified before it arrived.

The Greek word for "purify" generally refers to making something clean and/or sanitized; usually by washing. It doesn't refer to sinless perfection; for example your pots and pans and dishes may be dented, scratched, and chipped, but they're still suitable for their intended purpose just so long as they're clean.

Jesus once told his men "Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15:3). His word didn't make them sinless. In other words: they retained their various dents, scratches, and chips, so to speak; in point of fact, Peter went on from there to deny even knowing Jesus.

A number of the Old Testament's rituals served to cleanse the people of contamination brought on them by their sins, but did nothing to make the people sinless; not even the great day of atonement Yom Kippur. The people went right on sinning as before just as soon as the ritual was over. So purification and sinless perfection are two very different spiritual conditions.

This was addressed in a bit more detail back in item No.393. It's a very important element of Christianity so it's worth taking the time to understand.

453b) 1Pet 1:22b . . See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently

The koiné Greek word for "pure" in this case is katharos (kath-ar-os') which means: lacking impurities; which can be illustrated by tap water versus distilled water. Tap water contains impurities like chlorine and various metallic and non metallic elements; whereas distilled water consists of nothing but hydrogen and oxygen; viz: H2O

I think what Peter is saying that believers be on guard against hypocrisy; viz: one's lips mouthing love for their fellow believers while in their hearts actually thinking very little of them.

For example; my wife and I were once invited over to the home of a fellow Sunday school couple for dinner. When we arrived, guess what? An AMWAY manager was all set up and waiting for us. The dinner invitation was a bait and switch to conceal the Sunday school couple's scheme to lure us into signing on with AMWAY.

That was not an exhibition of pure, fervent love; but rather an exhibition of dishonesty, deceit, and ulterior motives. That couple was friendly and cordial enough in Sunday school, but away from church they were covert and predatory; taking advantage of the good nature of their fellow Christians to snare them in a commercial venture.

Matt 5:8 . . Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

454) 1Pet 2:1-3 . .Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking; as newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.

Oftentimes it's a good idea to read the Bible with a dictionary at hand because words like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, and envy tend to fly right past our eyes without giving them much thought.

Here in 1Pet 2:1-3 certain toxic behaviors are categorized as junk food, which is not the kind of nourishment one should be feeding a growing child; as if they could even digest it. So then, believers who neglect to study the Bible —and learn what is and what is not appropriate behavior for a believer —are certain to end up stunting the spiritual growth of the new self they obtained via their second birth as per Jesus' testimony at John 3:3-8.

An especially ugly behavior Peter listed is envy; which Webster's defines as: painful, or resentful, awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, coupled with a desire to possess the same advantage. In other words, envy is the root of rivalry which is one of the most destructive human passions there is. Cain killed his brother Abel out of a spirit of rivalry.

1John 3:12 . . Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

It was a spirit of rivalry that led to The Lord's crucifixion.

Matt 27:16-18 . . And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them: Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ? For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.

Webster's defines "rivalry" as: 1) to be in competition with and, 2) to strive to equal or excel.

Envy not only breeds rivalry, but other toxins too like spite; which Webster's defines as: petty ill will, malice, or hatred coupled with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart; which is defined as: to defeat the hopes and aspirations of another. In other words, thwart's intent is to discourage someone, to break their spirit and make them lose heat and/t lose respect for themselves. Needless to say, a spiteful person is a person so bitter that they're unable to feel pity, compassion, or sympathy; which is a bad thing because pity, compassion, and sympathy are highly blessing-worthy.

Matt 5:7 . . Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

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.

Yes, envy is a very, very ugly beast: there's no love in envy, only hatred mingled with malicious feelings and imaginations. Where's the Good Samaritan in that? A cute fable. Where's turning the other cheek? Out of vogue. Where's the golden rule? A cliché.

455) 1Pet 2:11 . . Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.

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 nature 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: a threat.

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 communistic societies.

The koiné 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 lost 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 pertains to all manner of citizenship, including civil disobedience; which is defined as the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power, e.g. protests, tax revolts, draft card burning, anti-war movements, occupancy, demonstrations, blockades, etc. Civil disobedience typically has to do with rebellion against State, Local, and Federal policies.

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.

People who disregard the ordinances of man are described by the apostle Peter as ignorant and foolish. God forbid that Christ's followers fall into that category!

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 cool 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.

The koiné Greek word for "cloak" is epikaluma (ep-ee-kal'-oo-mah) which means: a covering, i.e. (figuratively) pretext

Webster’s defines "pretext" as a purpose, a reason, or motive alleged, or an appearance assumed, in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs; viz: a pretense.

Webster’s defines "pretense" as: a professed, rather than the real intention or purpose

Pretense is one of those behaviors that nobody has to be taught how to do; no, even little kids can do it because pretense is a natural behavior— a basic instinct.

Ps 58:3 . . Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.

Christ is known for honesty.

John 1:17 . . grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

John 8:45 . . I tell you the truth

John 14:6 . . I am the truth

1Pet 2:22 . . Neither was guile found in his mouth

Therefore, those who live as servants of the Bible's God really ought to be honest too.

Eph 5:1 . . Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

Eph 4:25 . .Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Dishonesty, in any form, is not only conduct unbecoming for God's servants; but it's also hell-worthy.

Rev 21:7-8 . . All liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Rev 21:27 . . No one who practices lying, shall ever come into the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

460) 1Pet 2:17a . . Honor all men.

The word "men" is not actually in that verse. It was added by translators presumably to clarify the text. So it should read: Honor all.

The koiné Greek word for "honor" is timao (tim-ah'-o) which means: to prize, i.e. fix a valuation upon; by implication, to revere.

Bias, prejudice, and favoritism are natural proclivities. People tend to make an effort to accommodate the folk they admire, and marginalize the ones they don't.

461) 1Pet 2:17b . . love the brotherhood

The koine Greek word for "brotherhood" is adelphotes (ad-el-fot'-ace) which refers to a fraternity. It's located in only two places in the entire New Testament: here and in 1Pet 5:9.

In this case; the fraternity is pretty much restricted to Christ's believing followers and excludes the outside world because in order to qualify for Christ's family circle; it's necessary to undergo a special birth in order to obtain the right to identify one's self with God's son.

John 1:12-13 . .To all who received him; to those who believed in his name; he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, nor a husband's desire; but born of God.

1Pet 2:17b is impossible for a snob to obey since the degree of love that must be felt for one’s Christian siblings has to be on the same plane as the love that Christ feels for them.

The command to "love thy neighbor as thyself" is widely thought to be one of Christ's commandments; but it isn't. He got it from the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Lev 19:18 and Lev 19:34.

Christ's commandment goes beyond the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God. He says: As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34 and John 15:12)

Bottom line is: the Jews' covenant demands humane love, while Christ demands divine love; which is a much harder love to produce than humane love because only people blessed with a divinity's nature can produce divine love. Good luck with that.

462) 1Pet 2:17c . . fear God, honor the king.

The word "king" is translated from a Greek word meaning sovereign. Although current US President Donald Trump isn't a monarch, he still represents the highest seat of constituted authority in America and I really think that Christians should make an effort to honor him just as Peter commands.

There's an awful lot of disrespect for Mr. Trump festering in America; and I really think Christ expects his followers to keep themselves from getting caught up in it. Well; one thing's for sure: if they aren't honoring Mr. Trump, then it's a forgone conclusion that they aren't honoring God. In point of fact, according to Jude 1:8-10, people going about talking down on Mr. Trump and running him into the ground, aren't even civilized; i.e. they're behaving like animals.

Some things in life are inseparable; like it’s just about impossible to go swimming in a pool that has no water in it. Well, fearing God and honoring a king are like that; in other words: Christian scofflaws, by their civil disobedience, actually dishonor the very God whom they profess to revere.

Rom 13:1-2 . . Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

Christians need to be cognizant of Rom 13:1-2 whenever they're tempted to drift through a STOP sign, feed parking meters, Jay-walk, lie to their state's Employment Department, obtain food stamps under false pretenses, or cheat on their taxes.

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.

The koiné Greek word for "servants" in that verse is oiketes (oy-ket'-ace) which means: a fellow resident, viz: a menial domestic.

Menial domestics are in the same category as the household staff in the Hollywood movie Remains Of The Day; in which a master butler supervises everyone in service, including the under-butlers, and all the women. The home owner typically communicates with his staff by means of the master butler rather than doing so personally. So the “masters” of 1Pet 2:18 probably correspond to the master butler; viz: a supervisor.

Master butlers are like a ship's first officer, who, as far as the crew is concerned, is God to them when all hands are on board and the vessel under way. First officers can't be expected to be sweet little diplomats all the time in the performance of their duties and responsibilities. It has to be expected that they are going to become curt, cross, imperious, and demanding on occasion. And then again, some supervisors are just naturally rude. They're that way with everybody. Though they might be very competent in the performance of their duties and responsibilities, some are imbalanced; viz: they're somewhat lacking in social skills. In other words; it could be said of some: The man is a pig.

Some employees chafe under the supervision of abusive supervisors; and there are certain labor laws on the books that permit employees to pursue grievances. However that may be, it is far better for a Christian to take advantage of a disagreeable situation to prove himself because Peter says it is “commendable” to bear up under unjust suffering.

The koiné Greek word for "commendable" is surprising. It’s charis (khar' ece) which is commonly translated "grace". In other words, bearing up under abuse— while in the performance of one's duty as a service person (employee) —is the conduct of a gracious Christian as opposed to one that's ill-bred; viz: the belly-achers and the thin skinned cry-babies have some growing up to do.

Heb 12:28 . .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.

The gracious Christians are the ones serving God acceptably. The rest, no matter how lofty their goals, and no matter what they attempt to do for God, are just spinning their wheels because they are "ungracious" which Webster’s defines as: disagreeable; viz: lacking propriety.

For Christians who're compliant by nature, 1Pet 2:18-19 is very easy to obey. But for those who are proud, arrogant, conceited, overly indignant and/or easily insulted; I can only say you have my sympathy because this is something you're going to have to work at. Why? Because this is not optional; no, it's a "calling"

1 Pet 2:21-24 . . For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps . . who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously

The koiné Greek word for "reviled" is loidoreo (loy-dor-eh'-o) which means: to reproach; viz: vilify.

Webster’s defines vilify as: 1) to lower in estimation or importance; viz: demean, and 2) to utter slanderous and abusive statements against; viz: defame; denigrate.

"Reviling in return" (e.g. retorts, rejoinders, and recriminations) is a common knee-jerk reflex; a natural reaction of the base nature (the flesh) and contrary to one of The Lord's fundamental teachings in the Sermon On The Mount.

Luke 6:29 . . And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other.

In this day and age of assertiveness, Luke 6:29 is very unpopular with some Christians. Oh, they'll vote for turning the other cheek alright and agree it's good Christian character. But you know, good Christian character is sort of like the Classics: everybody says we ought to have the Classics in our libraries, but who really reads them? I have to chuckle sometimes at Christians when one says: The Sermon On The Mount is all the religion I need. Okay, fine; so when did you plan on beginning to exemplify its principles?

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 command with the words “in the same way” which refers to the preceding verses which read like this:

1Pet 2:18-25 . . Slaves, 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 pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

. . . He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

In other words; Christ is the role model for anyone who would be truly submissive; either man or woman or married or unmarried.

Christian wives really should make an effort to exemplify Christ even with a husband they despise rather than only a husband that deserves their respect.

I once overheard a conversation between a female caller and Dr. Laura on radio that went something like this:

Caller: My husband doesn't deserve my respect; he hasn't earned it.

Laura: Have you earned your husband's love?

Caller: I shouldn't have to earn his love. It's a husband's place to love his wife unconditionally.

Laura: Aren't you being a bit unfair? You expect your husband to love you unconditionally, while refusing to respect him unconditionally? Isn't that a double standard? No wonder you two drifted apart!

(chuckle) Apparently Dr. Laura's caller was somehow under the impression that wives not only have the right to lay down the law in marriage, but also the right to exempt themselves from any and all laws their husbands might have in mind; viz: some people's marriages aren't love nests; they're cold wars tempered with détente.

465) 1Pet 3:3-5 . . And 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. An interpretation of that nature would mean putting on dresses is wrong too and thereby Christian women would be in danger of being arrested for indecent exposure whenever they went out. No, he's 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 the bedroom but quite useless as a homemaker.

Hollywood movies often portray "spirited" women as somehow desirable. No, they aren't desirable; they're feral, they attack 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 barnyard animal.

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.

1Pet 3:5-6 . .That is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and were subordinate to their husbands. For instance: Sarah submitted to her husband, Abraham, when she called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.

Sarah, as you might recall, was a stunning girl not only in her youth, but even later on after menopause. But from what I gather from their association, Sarah's physical attributes are not why Abraham chose to live with her, and in point of fact, I really don't think Abraham paid all that much attention to Sarah's looks at all. No, Sarah was special in other ways; and even when she couldn't bear Abraham a child, he stuck with her; though in that day, he didn't have to.

What is it that a Christian wife might fear from her husband? Well, that's pretty easy. No doubt her biggest concern is that he might take advantage of her affable personality. Well, that's insufficient grounds to stop a Christian woman from being the kind of woman that Christ can approve. If it's any comfort; we're all in the same boat. People are naturally predatory, and can't help but take advantage of Christianity's good nature. What can I say: it comes with the turf.

Phil 1:29 . . For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.

466) 1Pet 3:7a . . Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge

The koiné Greek word for "knowledge" is gnosis (gno'-sis) which means : knowing (as information) in other words: facts and/or ideas acquired by study, investigation, observation, 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, what Peter is talking about is a husband applying his learned knowledge of Christian conduct to his marriage. It should go without saying that studying the Bible is merely the satisfaction of one's curiosity when somebody never applies its instructions to real life.

Jas 1:22-25 . . And keep in mind that it's a message to apply, not just to listen to. If you don't apply it, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen, 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.

Anyway, the word "likewise" points us back to the principle below.

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.

In other words, Christian husbands are called to be consistent with Christian conduct even with a difficult wife, and a portion of what Peter instructed wives, also applies to husbands.

1Pet 3:1-2 . . 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.

The koiné Greek word for "chaste" is hagnos (hag-nos') which has no direct reference to sexual conduct but just simply means innocent, decent, civil, modest, and/or perfect. (e.g. 2Cor 7:11, Phil 4:8, 1Tim 5:22, Jas 3:17, and 1John 3:3)

There are young boys being brought up by macho 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 Christian home, husbands are neither required nor expected to tame their wives seeing as how the onus is upon the wives themselves to exercise self control.

Eph 4:30-32 . . And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

It's tragic when Christian couples practice neither Christian conduct nor Christian principles in their own home— in point of fact that's not a home at all; that's a perpetual cold war.

NOTE: It's required of Christ's followers to love their enemies but it's not required of Christ's followers to like their enemies nor is it required to always have a good opinion about them. However, though Christian love need not include the element of fondness; Christian love does need to include the element of diplomacy; which Webster's defines as skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.

467) 1Pet 3:7b . . giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel,

The koiné 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 file cabinet or 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 Ming-vase 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.

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 koiné 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 directive emphasizes the third element— "marked by accord in sentiment or action". Head-strong Christians, domineering Christians, those for whom every disagreement is either an affront or an act of war to win at any cost— those for whom the word diplomacy has no meaning —of course have trouble complying with 1Pet 3:8a; that is: if they even consider it worthy of their notice.

469) 1Pet 3:8b-9 . . having 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 koiné 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 India, 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. That is no time to be thoughtless. People in those predicaments are in sore need of condolences, and they are in no mood for philosophical platitudes.

The Greek word for "railing" is 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 come-backs 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.

You know, it's ironic; but if we were to take guile out of the political process, nobody would get elected. I simply cannot imagine an America with forthright politicians either in Congress, or the Senate, or the White House.

My father-in-law, who retired from Safeco Title as a senior vice president and general counsel, once remarked that advertising is the art of deception. You know what that says to me? It says that Madison Avenue's Mad Men really have gone mad after all.

FYI: 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.

Peter isn't talking about one's religious beliefs per se, but about one's personal righteousness; in other words, one's personal conduct, and their convictions about what's right and what's wrong.

The koiné 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 or favoritism.

When Adam and his wife indulged in the forbidden fruit, they became their own Gods with their own opinions about what's right and what's wrong.

Gen 3:22 . . And The Lord God said: The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.

To give an idea of just how much this situation effects everyday life: the US Supreme Court not too long ago voted 5-4 on an important firearms issue. What does that tell me? It tells me that there are justices on that Court whose opinions are unrighteous because if the justices were all righteous, then the vote, whichever way it went, would have been unanimous.

The effects of humanistic righteousness are evident in mainstream Christianity too. Some time ago, a Presbyterian General Assembly voted whether or not to allow LGBT clergy. The measure passed by the slimmest of margins: 51%. What does that tell me? It tells me that fully half of that Presbyterian General Assembly is not listening to God because had they all been listening, the vote would have been unanimous one way or the other rather than two opposing opinions.

NOTE: There should be no question that LGBT clergy is wrong.

1Tim 3:7 . . He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the Devil's trap.

An LGBT Christian church elder would be seen by the world as a bona fide hypocrite; which can be roughly defined as somebody who should be standing for the Bible but at heart does not care to live by it. With a Christian church officer like that; it's reasonable to suspect that the congregation is compromised in other areas of faith and practices.

472) 1Pet 3:14b . . And do not fear their intimidation, nor be shaken,

Peer pressure, mob rule, cultural influences, group-think, survival, and customs are always at work seeking to manipulate people.

Take for example the current wave of suicide bombings and acts of terrorism perpetrated by Islamic extremists. In their own sick estimation, the murders and destruction of private property they cause are justifiable; but any unbiased person can easily see that what they are committing are crimes against humanity.

The extremists no doubt see themselves as martyrs and patriots, but the unbiased world only sees them as criminals; which, in the grand scheme of things; is exactly what they are. Meanwhile, the extremists are exerting peer pressure on peaceable Muslims all over the world to join their cause. When peaceable Muslims refuse, then they too become targets just as if they were devils rather than followers of Mohammad. In other words, the extremists are insinuating that unless Islamists commit murder and destruction of private property, they aren't true Muslims. That's a pretty extreme example of how peer pressure, mob rule, cultural influences, group-think, survival, and customs cause people to do unrighteous things.

In this current world, if you side with God in matters of right and wrong, you become a target for intimidation; which Webster's defines as: inducing fear and/or a sense of inferiority. Intimidation need not be a threat of violence to be effective. Peer pressure and ostracism are powerful tools of intimidation. Human beings are herd animals; we all want to fit in and belong. If you follow the herd, you will be accepted; but if you dare to buck the tide; you will find yourself unpopular in a very short time. It's ironic. Here in America we idolize the concept of rugged individuality. But the truth is; we despise people who do their own thinking; and Americans really despise individuals who dare to side with God.

I was reading an article in the newspaper recently that said in the past, it was wise for candidates for Federal office take sides with religion, but nowadays, in an increasingly irreligious American society, it's becoming best not to if they hope to win enough votes to get elected.

473) 1Pet 3:15a . . Dedicate your hearts to The Lord God

The koiné Greek word for "hearts" in that verse is from kardia (kar-dee'-ah); an ambiguous word that can mean the organ pumping blood throughout the body, the core of one's being, one's affections, one's basic nature, one's center, and/or one's thoughts and feelings,

Dedicating one's heart is sort of like setting it upon something, i.e. to have a strong (and sometimes inflexible) desire for something; for example:

Luke 22:14-15 . .When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them: I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

Within the context of 1Pet 3:10-16, dedicating one's heart to The Lord pertains to moral goodness with respect to how God feels about certain things, i.e. one's conscience.

It is first necessary to know what constitutes moral goodness in respect to how God feels about things; and in order to know, His followers have to get into the Bible.

Rom 12:1-2 . . 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.

Heb 5:14 . . Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

A training regimen, though it be the best, is quite useless unless people work at it on a regular basis. That's just common sense. For example: Yoga will improve your balance; but you've got to make Yoga a regular part of your life in order for it to work. A little Yoga here, and a little Yoga there, is not exactly the ideal way to go about it.

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 koiné 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 aren't 110% sure what the afterlife has in store for them— if there is even the slightest concern, 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 praying for the best, while in the back of their mind dreading the worst, 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 also called to the one hope

So when people are unsure of their afterlife destiny; it's an indication that they have not yet responded to the call to the one hope.

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 koiné 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 include one's brain.

The "lusts of men" isn't speaking of catering to the wants of others, rather, to our own wants.

The koiné 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 judgement especially when it comes to making God frown upon our conduct as unbecoming, i.e. inappropriate for His son's followers.

NOTE: It surprises, and even sometimes offends, Christians to think that Christ had longings just like everybody else. They truly believe he should have been above all that— he wasn't. Jesus' suffering in the flesh came from suppressing his cravings whenever he was called upon to do so.

"The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." (John 8:29)

476) 1Pet 4:7 . . The culmination of all things is approaching; therefore be serious, and watchful in your prayers.

The koiné Greek word for "watchful" is nepho (nay'-fo) which means: to be discreet; viz: exercise discretion caution in speech, prudence, and care taken to consider all circumstances and possible consequences.

Nepho prayer implies being realistic and avoiding flowery bombast, rhetoric, and rote chanting. After all, there's a high priest in heaven representing his fellow men who speaks your language and knows for himself how people think and how people feel; so get down to business with God and tell Him what's on your mind without beating around the bush about it.

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.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be known as God's kin.

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 koiné 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.

479) 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.

Hardly anybody seems to care much about that anymore, nor would anybody probably know the difference anyway. It’s been my observation that the truly spiritually-gifted Christians are mostly invisible, and go about their business right under the noses of the stars in church, whose own spiritual decadence is oftentimes very embarrassing to Christianity.

Point being; those that do have genuine spiritual gifts need to make very sure that when they exercise those gifts in church; they do so in the Lord's best interests rather than their own.

480) 1Pet 4:11a . . If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.

The koiné Greek word for "oracles" is logion (log'-ee-on) which means something spoken as opposed to something written. In other words; logion isn't talking about quoting the Bible, rather, it's talking about speaking as God and for God.

If speakers can't to do that— if they can't sincerely believe themselves infallible and speaking for God ex cathedra, i.e. standing in for God —then they really need to do us all a favor and keep quiet because they'll only be speaking as themselves and for themselves; they'll only be muddying the waters with their opinions, sparking debates, and preventing unity; which, according to Eph 4:11-14, is contrary to the Lord's wishes.

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.

It's easy to think of Christ's 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, he 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.

It's a piece of cake for the Word of John 1:1 to comply with God's wishes because the Word himself is God too. But when the Word took on the nature of a human being; that's when he found out just how difficult it is for flesh and blood to comply with God's wishes; hence the prayers and loud cries and tears. The incarnate Word had a mission; and left on his own, Jesus would have surely failed. But God was onboard to insure he didn't.

John 3:34 . . God's Spirit is upon him without measure or limit.

However, Jesus didn't take the Spirit for granted but kept up a barrage of prayers for assistance. You won't see much of that in the Gospels. The place to look for Jesus' prayers is the Psalms where David did quite of a bit of ghost writing for him. (cf. Luke 24:44-45)

The koiné Greek word for "partners" is koinoneo (koy-no-neh'-o) which means: to share with another; viz: to participate. In other words, football fans are not on the team, no they're up in the safety of the stands either cheering, hissing, or booing. In order to "participate" in a game, you have to be down on the gridiron in harm's way getting some bruises.

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.

For a good many millennia, the Word's compassion for Man was pretty much limited to empathy rather than sympathy. In other words, until John 1:14, the Word could understand your pain, and he could pity your pain; but he could not feel it because the Word had zero experience at being human.

So then, when I 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 . . But 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 koiné 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.

Jas 5:11 speaks of the "patience" of Job; 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.

Sometimes people complain by asking: Why me? Well; why not you? Welcome to the human race. Man is born into trouble just as naturally as the embers from a fire go up instead of down. (Job 5:7)

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.

2Tim 2:13 . . If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny himself.

FAQ: What is meant by souls?

A: According to Gen 1:20-21, Gen 1:24, and Gen 2:7, soul essentially refers to consciousness and individuality; i.e. persons, either in the form of fauna life or human life.

It's interesting that Peter emphasized that human soul was created rather than produced by a mysterious interaction of time, space, and matter. In other words: human consciousness had both a beginning and a beginner; viz: human consciousness would not exist at all had not a higher consciousness willed it into existence.

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.

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.

The New Testament doesn't record Peter as being present 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 respectable distance. (cf. Matt 26:58, Matt 27:55)

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.

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; and 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 only 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? Because they love their 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 poor sources of water. (2Pet 2:17)

You know what a professional church officer is? They're a hireling; and according to God's son, a hireling cannot be depended upon to protect the sheep when a wolf is at the door.

John 10:11-13 . . 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.

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 health 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, 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 trust in a church officer; you just might end up disillusioned and very disappointed.

485) 1Pet 5:5a . .You younger, likewise, 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 it's very serious.

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.

If you should find yourself in a church whose elders you don't trust and/or simply cannot respect, then it's time to move on and find a church whose elders are worth their salt.

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 koiné 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 koiné 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. underserving 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.

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 unholy 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; for example:

Matt 18:4 . .Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

"greatest' is a category. In other words: there is more than one great person in heaven certainly. But Jesus taught it is better that you be made great than to make yourself great; for example:

Luke 14:8-11 . .When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both shall come and say to you "Give place to this man" and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.

. . . But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you; "Friend, move up higher" then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

Speaking critically of the religious luminaries of his days; Jesus once said:

Matt 23:2-7 . .The scribes and the Pharisees do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments. And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men: Rabbi.

488) 1Pet 5:7 . . casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He is concerned about 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 instinctively believe it may be true for others, but has absolutely no application to themselves. RAD is a very effective faith-inhibitor.

However, even just vocalizing your anxieties can be very therapeutic; while holding it all in can be destructive to your nerves. I think I'd rather talk to an imaginary playmate than to no one at all.

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 goodness; and to goodness, 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.

This is yet another place where The Lord says to make "every" effort. He didn't say a half baked effort or a half-hearted effort; but every effort; viz: a whole-hearted effort; for example:

Rom 12:11 . . Never be half-hearted in your work, but serve The Lord enthusiastically.

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

Rev 3:15-16 . . I know your works, that you art neither cold nor hot : I would you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will expectorate you out of my mouth.

The koine Greek word for "goodness" is arete (ar-et'-ay) which means: manliness (valor).

The Rev. Jesse Jackson has a book on the market titled: Dare To Be A Man. Well, I haven't read his book but I've heard of his public life and according to Mr. Jackson's public life, real men apparently father children out of wedlock.

The word for "knowledge" is gnosis (gno'-sis) which means: the act of knowing; viz: being educated and/or informed. In other words; one cannot please God without first knowing what displeases Him.

Rom 12:2 . . Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.

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) endurance and/or 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; which Webster's defines as: dutifulness in religion; viz: devoutness.

Devoutness corresponds to sanctified; which just simply means to be dedicated and/or committed. (e.g. John 8:29)

The word for "brotherly kindness" is philadelphia (fil-ad-el-fee'-ah) which means: fraternal affection. 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?

Fraternal affection was a sorely missing element in my three years of service in the US Army from 1961 to 1964. The men hated each other; and the men hated the officers and non-coms; and they in turn hated 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 fraternal affection had an impact on unit cohesiveness and made America's enemies seem more like friends than foes.

I, for one, 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."

Peter put "love" last on the progression of graces; yet love is where most Christians put the emphasis rather than the others; in other words; they typically start at the finish and work back towards the beginning. That's sort of like a six year-old kid beginning the twelve-year educational process as a senior in high school and gradually working his way towards graduation in kindergarten.

The word for "love" is agape (ag-ah'-pay) which is not just acts of love and feelings of affection and/or benevolence; but actually a love feast; viz: an all-you-can-eat buffet. Agape love is a guardian kind of love with a sense of duty, loyalty, and responsibility that never burns out; whereas romantic love, and brotherly love are both vulnerable to one's moods and emotions.

If love could be quantified; and packaged in a container, how much love would God's container hold? Since God's love knows no bounds; then it cannot be quantified. See what I mean by an all-you-can-eat buffet? No matter how much love you consume from God's container, it will never be exhausted; sort of like the cosmos; it's infinite.

What most Christians don't seem to realize is that it's God's all-you-can-eat kind of love that they are supposed to add to brotherly kindness rather not just ordinary human love. (John 13:34)

See now why love comes last on the list? It's said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Well that single step for Christians is goodness; without which they cannot obtain more knowledge, nor more perseverance, nor more self control, nor more godliness, nor more brotherly kindness, nor any degree of agape whatsoever. Christians not yet accomplished in the primary graces might just as well forget about the advanced grace of agape for now.

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 koiné 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 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 koiné 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. The world's hope is nothing but wistful thinking, 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 great roaring fire ball.

493) 2Pet 3:14 . .Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless

Some of the brethren haven't a clue what it is to be in peace; their temperaments won't permit. But that's something they really need to work on because temperamental behavior will not be permitted in the new cosmos.

The koiné Greek word for "looking forward" is prosdokao (pros-dok-ah'-o) which means: to anticipate; viz: to await; for example:

When I was a small boy living in Santee California back in the late 1940's, I used to climb one of the olive trees in the front yard so I could see down the road in the direction that my dad came home every evening in a black 1933 Model A Ford. I always climbed the tree ahead of time so I could begin watching for my dad and spot him coming a long ways off, and then I'd get down and sprint out to the end of our dirt driveway and jump on the running board of that old Ford and ride it back to the house with my dad.

Prosdokao is like that. It fully expects the arrival of a future event; and the future event Peter spoke of in previous verses is not only The Lord's return; but also the utter annihilation of the current cosmos to be replaced by one in which only righteousness exists. Today, righteousness and unrighteousness exist side by side, but in the future, it won't be like that.

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,

What might be the error of unprincipled men? Well, they are utterly mindless of the impending termination of the cosmos. It doesn't concern them in the slightest; nor does any other portion of the Day Of The Lord; which begins with the rapture, followed by three and a half years of fragile world peace and prosperity, followed by three and a half years of horrific events and conditions the likes of which the world has never seen or experienced, followed by The Lord's personal return to rule the world for a millennium, followed by the utter annihilation of the current cosmos, followed by the Great White Throne event depicted at Rev 20:11-15, and followed by the creation of a brand new cosmos where only righteousness is permitted to exist.

Christ's believing followers need to keep in mind at all times that they are merely pilgrims on this Earth rather than permanent residents. We're passing through the current cosmos on our way to a land far and away better than the one we inhabit now. So don't get too attached to this world, nor diverted by its distractions; because the current Earth's days are numbered and we've much bigger fish to fry.

495) 2Pet 3:18 . . But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The above quote from the apostle Peter's second epistle isn't addressed to just any John Q and Jane Doe looky-loo. It's specifically addressed to Christ's believing followers. (2Pet 1:1)

The two pursuits that the apostle Peter ordered are worthwhile for Christ's believing followers because whatever growth in grace they obtain is a permanent growth; and whatever knowledge of God they gain, they keep too: throughout eternity.

Why become more and more gracious? Because the people in heaven are gracious. Yes; they are nothing like the churlish race of cruel hominids infesting the world that you and I live in. If you should perchance go to heaven as an ungracious churl yourself; then you will be in for culture shock because people in heaven are truly civilized and would make even Emily Post seem as rough-hewn as a third-generation Oregon logger.

It's for that very reason that I sincerely believe every new arrival in heaven has to first attend a sort of finishing school where they are forged into decent human beings before being permitted to associate with the others. We pick up a lot of bad, anti-social habits down here on the planet and those habits have to be broken because God's home is a place of peace. It isn't conducive to peace to have thoughtless morons running loose annoying people and committing senseless acts of unkindness.

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.

Within the context of John's letter, "the beginning" is Jesus Christ.

1John 1:1-2 . .That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched— this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

Jesus Christ identified himself as the beginning.

Rev 1:8 . . I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith The Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come: The Almighty.

Rev 3:14 . .These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God

Rev 21:6 . . And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

Rev 22:13 . . I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

The koiné Greek word for "beginning" is somewhat ambiguous and doesn't strictly mean the first item to roll off an assembly line. The word is arche (ar-khay') which means: (1) a commencement, and/or (2) chief (in order, time, place, or rank).

So then, Jesus Christ isn't the beginning of the creation of God as if he were its first thing created; but rather, he is the one who got the ball rolling; viz: Christ is both the creation's senior officer and its construction supervisor.

John 1:3 . . All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.

Col 1:16 . . For by him were all things created; that are in heaven, and that are in earth

Heb 3:1-6 . . Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all His house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

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 pretty much describes the spiritual condition of 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.

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.

That directive is meant only for "little children" which is a category identifying an elite group of Christ's believing followers who have undergone a supernatural birth.

John 1:12-13 . .To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

Within the scope of John's first epistle, the little children have two salient features in common— features which they do not have in common with ordinary rank and file pew warmers.

1• They all have eternal life right now— no delay and no waiting period. Note the grammatical tense of John's "have" verb. It's in the present tense; not future.

1John 5:13 . .These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life

2• They all have God's son by virtue of their possession of eternal life.

1John 5:11-12 . . And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His son. So whoever has God's son has the life; whoever does not have the life, does not have His son.

If God's testimony is true, then we may safely conclude that Christians lacking eternal life are quite christless; and that is not a good thing.

Rom 8:9 . . And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

Christians lacking eternal life are not only quite christless, but they also abide in death, and grave danger of the wrath of God.

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.

Christ's statement reveals why a number of Christians lack eternal life.

1• They do not listen to his message

2• They do not believe in God

When Christians fail to believe in God, they insinuate that He's a dishonest person of marginal integrity who can't be trusted to tell the truth.

1John 5:9-10 . .We accept human testimony; but God's testimony carries more weight because it's the testimony of God, which He has given about His son. He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.

The little epistle of 1John is really handy for differentiating between Christ's believing followers and his make-believe followers. Try it sometime. Ask your Christian contacts if they're going to heaven. I'll bet you that the majority will answer: I don't know, but I hope so. And some will even go so far as to say: Nobody knows things like that. Those kinds of answers reveal a profound ignorance of Christ's message; not to mention a shameful lack of trust in God's integrity.

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.

499) 1John 2:28-29 . . And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame at his coming.

The koiné Greek word for "shame" is aischunomai (ahee-skhoo'-nom-ahee) which means disgrace.

There's no doubt quite a few born-again, saved Christians who, once they get what they want out of Christianity, go off-reservation and live their lives as they see fit rather than how Christ sees fit: by doing so, they become dried-up yard debris, so to speak.

Rom 8:12-13 . . Brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if you live after the flesh, you shall die:

John 15:4-11 . . Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me.

. . . I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

. . . If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.

. . . Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

500) 1John 3:11-13 . . 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. Do not be perplexed, my brethren, if the world hates you.

Evil people just naturally despise righteous people. It's one of the facts of life.

Ps 37:12 . .The wicked plot against the righteous and grate their teeth at them.

My wife and I witnessed a humorous example of grating one day. This elderly lady made a sudden U-turn right in front of us in the middle of the street and when we honked our horn in protest; granny jutted her defiant face in our direction as she passed by and bared her teeth at us like a snarling dog. Start watching people. You'll be amazed at how often they curl their lips and show their teeth because of some irritation.

One of the boys involved in the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School shooting incident murdered a girl in the cafeteria just because she believed in God. Isn't that amazing? That boy was nothing in the world but a twentieth century Cain with a gun.

My own brother and I were paired similar to Cain and Abel. Both of us worshipped the same God, as those two brothers did, and mine was even an altar boy for a while. One evening at church, the priest asked everyone to stand and give their word that they would always honor and obey God. My brother stood along with the rest of us, but did not promise because, he said, there were things he wanted to do. My brother really changed after that. In time he began treating me with an unusual amount of hostility and disrespect; taking every available opportunity to ridicule, mock, demean, and taunt me.

It was so odd because I honestly never gave him any justification to act that way. Of the two of us, he was the best looking, the bravest, the most athletic, the most popular, had all the luck with girls, went to all the dances, owned lots of cars, always had good jobs, and knew all the right people in school. Yet he despised me.

Do you know what made my brother hate me? It was because he sensed that I approved of neither his character nor of his core values. I've since discovered it's an earmark of Cainish people that unless they are admired and approved by others, they become hateful and very resentful.

There's lots more Cainish people out there. They may not carry guns, but they're in business, in the stock market, in the police department, in the fire department, at the grocery store, at the mall, at the movies, on the freeways, and at your place of work. They are everywhere: they are everybody, and they are nobody sometimes they are obvious, sometimes they are subtle. Way too many people in America hate God; and they bitterly despise all who admire God and are in any way loyal to Him at all; especially loyal to the Bible. This condition exists even in the best of churches (cf. Acts 20:29-30, Jude 1:3-4) and I've encountered plenty of "Christians" who will hate your guts simply for disagreeing with their religious beliefs and practices. Now that really ought not to be.

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.

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, deception, falsehood, error, inaccuracy, inexactness, dishonesty, theory, imagination, invention, misrepresentation, and half-truth, etc.

The trick to loving in truth is first of all knowing the truth.

I was once asked by an atheist why Christians need so many rules when their whole religion is summed up by just one: the Golden Rule.

Well, the world's idea of the so-called golden rule is one thing; which may not may not conform to God's idea; hence the following commandment.

Rom 12:2 . . 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.

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.

2Pet 3:16 . .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.

Anyway, point being: 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.

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 koiné Greek word for "spirits" is pneuma (pnyoo'-mah) which means, among other things; a current of air; viz: winds and breezes. Probably what John is talking about are spiritual influences; viz: 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 predict 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 wrong, then we have to assume that their teachings are highly suspect no matter how reasonable they may sound.

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.

The love that's being spoken of in that verse is specific. It's not the love of one's fellow man; but rather, the love of one's kin; but not one's biological kin. The kin in this respect are The Father's children rather than in respect to one's natural father's children; viz: Christians have a natural family and they have a supernatural family.

I think that what John is trying to get across is that hatred for The Father's children betrays one's lack of consideration for The Father's feelings.

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 wishes.

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.

505) 1John 5:21 . . Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

The koiné Greek word for "idols" is eidolon (i'-do-lon) which means: an image (for worship) viz: by implication, a heathen god.

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 Ste. 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 for providence and protection 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, artworks and/or statuary; and so 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 The Lord'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.

1John 3:18 directs the lady to love in deed and in truth. What is truth? It's Christ's commandments.

So then, 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, then they are loveless Christians— just stage actors playing a role.

507) 2John 1:8 . .Watch yourselves, that we might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.

The koiné 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 in The Lord 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 man 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 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, for all intents and purposes, unbelievers because that's what most of the non-Israelites were 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. God forbid! 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.

510) 3John 11-12 . . Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one w