Reading Section 7: Allegory or Typology? 4.21-5.6

➡ Average Reading Time: 19 minutes

The material in the following chapters of this draft is being proofed.
They are NOT finished chapters. I invite you to read them and leave comments about what you liked, didn’t like, didn’t understand, etc.

Thanks,
Winn

Where Are We Going?

Reading the Storyline: New International Version (2011)
Reading the Storyline: Interpretative Paraphrase
Observing the Story The Flow of Galatians 4.21-31
Interpreting the Storyline
Faithfulness to One Gospel: A Rebuke (3.1-4.31)
Flesh
Allegory
The Story and Its Application (4.21-31)
So What?
Indicative-Imperative (Affirmation and Exhortation)
Romans 12.1-2
Romans 6.1-2; 12-13
Colossians 3.3-5
Galatians 4 and 5
Consequences (5.2-4)
Living into the Story

Reading the Storyline: New International Version (2011)

Free At LastTell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the freewoman was born as the result of a divine promise.

These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written:

“Be glad, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
shout for joy and cry aloud,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband.”

Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the freewoman.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Mark my words! 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. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Reading the Storyline: Interpretative Paraphrase

Inform me if you would, all of you who desire to be captivated by the Law, have you really paid attention to what the Law says?

In the First Testament, there is a story about Abraham who was the father of two sons. One of the sons was born to a slave woman and the other to a free woman. The birth of the son by the slave woman was born in the normal course of nature, but the other son was born because of a promise of God. The story that I am telling can be understood as an allegory. (To the present reader, this does not make the story an allegory because the word is used. Allegory had a broad range of meanings in the present culture of the day when the story was occurring). There are two agreements (covenants) that are represented by the two women. Hagar’s son was a representative of Mt. Sinai that bore children into slavery. (As an aside, Sinai was in Arabia were the descendants of Ishmael came from). In the present time that I am writing this is the area of present-day Jerusalem because the Jews are right now as I am writing, “slaves.” On the other hand, the free woman represents the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the mother of all things living and is spiritually “free.” For it is written by the prophet Isaiah

“Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord.

You, my brothers and sisters, are like Isaac, children born by promise. Just as in previous days the natural son presented the spiritual son, it is the same today. What is this instruction of the scripture? Put the bondwoman outside the camp. Why? Because the sone of the bondwoman will never be the heir with the freewoman’s son.

Brothers and sisters, we are not to perceive ourselves as the sons and daughters of the slave woman, but rather children of the freewoman. We are surely not sons of slavery to the Law but we are children of grace and freedom.

It’s time for you to plant your feet firmly in the freedom of Jesus that he won for us and not be caught as the agitators are in the shackles of bondage.

Listen up! I Paul, say all of this to you as soberly as I can: if you consent to the follies of the agitators and add their additives (the representative is circumcision), then remember this moving forward, Jesus will not be of any use to you at all, none! Let me repeat myself to make my point if you commit to circumcision you are consenting to follow all the Law, every single one of them. Are you up for that? Again, if you try to find justification by the Law, you automatically “cut” yourself off for the power of Jesus and put yourself outside the range of the grace of God. That’s a serious decision. It is only by “faith” that we wait in his Spirit for the righteousness we want and hope to see and experience. When you are living in tandem with Jesus, there is absolutely no validity in circumcision or uncircumcision. Following Jesus is completely a matter of faith that expresses itself in love.

Observing the Story: The Flow of Galatians 4.21-31

Paul begins with a question (Gal. 4.21). He then tells a story from the First Testament (Gal. 4.22-23). He continues by providing his readers with an interpretation of the story (Gal. 4.24-27) and finally, he provides his readers with a way to live into the story he has told (Gal. 4.28-31).

Paul now turns the corner in his letter and begins to help his readers in Galatia understand what freedom in Christ is. He begins in the first sentence with a call for freedom and then calls them to “stand firm” lest they burden themselves by a “yoke of slavery.” Again, Paul contests the results of following the proclamation of the Jewish missionary agitators and the “different gospel” that they tried to influence the Galatians to follow.

Interpreting the Storyline

Faithfulness to One Gospel: A Rebuke (3.1-4.31)

In the case Paul has built against the Jewish missionaries, his climactic point is an interesting use of the First Testament. Remember, the Jewish missionaries, who had come to Galatia after Paul, thought that the converts to Paul’s gospel had not experienced God’s completed work because they did not commit to the boundary markers (circumcision, food laws, and calendar events) in addition to their trust in Jesus. In a rare use of allegory, Paul suggested that knowing the story of Abraham and Sarah and their offspring Isaac along with the comparable story of Abraham and Hagar and their son Ishmael taught the point that he had made to the Galatians, namely, adding the boundary markers was living according to the “flesh” while trusting Jesus as Paul’s gospel was proclaimed to them meant living by the “Spirit.”

There are two ideas here that we must understand for this passage to make sense. The first is the concept of “flesh,” and the second is the use of “allegory” as a way of interpreting Scripture.

Flesh

The English word “flesh” is a frequent translation of the Greek word sarx. We are often prone to find a conclusive definition for a word and then apply that definition every time the word occurs in our Bible translation. We don’t even think to ask the question “what does Paul mean when he used the word?” When we see it, we often think that it means the various notions to which the term refers to in our use of it in English. Of course, the latter way of thinking is not true of Paul. He was not a twenty-first-century writer and speaker in English. Thus, we must discover what the “range of meaning” of the original word (sarx) meant in Paul’s day. Just as in our language, a single word can have various meanings. It is fair to say that Paul does not have “a single view of the flesh” in his writings.

Paul uses the word sarx in at least six different ways. First, in a physical manner as the substance that makes up the bodies of animals and humans, i.e., “flesh and blood” [Gal. 1.6] together means a physical body.

Second, flesh (sarx) is used as a parallel to “body” (soma). We can observe Galatians 4.13-14 where Paul says he has an illness. The phrase translated “my illness” is literally “through a weakness of the flesh,” meaning a condition in his body. Another example is Galatians 6.13 where it refers to circumcision as an operation applied to the body.

Third, it is used with the meaning of the human race or a human person. Galatians 2.16 translates sarx as “no one,” meaning a human being or the human race.

Fourth, under this category are passages that refer to sarx as natural human life. In Galatians 2.20 Paul wrote, “The life I live in the body (sarx), I live by faith in the Son of God….” This is a passage about Paul’s natural life lived out in the flesh.

Fifth, in some passages Paul used sarx as a part of the world’s human value system as it stood against the value system of God. The NIV is foggy and not very helpful in their translation of Galatians 6.12 where they translate, “Those who want to make a good impression outwardly.” It is better translated by the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) as, “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh,” i.e., according to their value system of the additives of Jewish boundary markers.

Sixth, flesh is seen as human rebellion. This undoubtedly is his most characteristic use of the word sarx. However, about half of the occurrences of the word with this meaning are found in Romans and specifically in Romans 8. All other usage but one (1 Cor. 5.5) appears in Galatians. When Paul contrasts flesh and Spirit (sarx and pneuma), about two-thirds of the time sarx means fallen humankind. In this category flesh is Paul’s term for everything aside from God in which a person places his or her trust. “Flesh” is not rooted in sensuality, as is often thought, but in clear rebellion to God. “Flesh” is the attitudes and actions of the present evil age from which Jesus had come to rescue thus making a people of God to bear his image. As we will see later (Gal. 5.19ff.) Paul uses the word flesh with the meaning of human rebellion. In the present passage under consideration (4.21-31) Paul contrasts Ishmael as the son of a slave according to the flesh, which may also fit with the meaning of human rebellion.

From a theological standpoint, we might say that flesh can be seen as a natural part of creation. This is because Paul had high regard for the Jewish heritage of creation. It can also be understood as in complete opposition to God. We live in the flesh (body) and sometimes the flesh (rebellion because of fallenness) rebels against God. The solution to this tension is the continual putting to death of the flesh (rebellion) and its works (Gal. 5.19). To “die” to the flesh (rebellion) is to “put on Jesus” and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5). This effectively means to reverse Genesis 3 by once again putting ourselves under the protective custody and provision of God (Genesis 2). To “die” to the flesh means to become dependent on and the trusting of God.

Allegory

As a first-century Jew, Paul would have known the range of techniques employed in that time for interpretation of the First Testament. The Jews of Paul’s time lived in many parts of the world and were constantly faced with pagan culture and their survival required them not to compromise their faith as built on the First Testament narrative. The existence of the Septuagint (LXX: a Greek translation of the Hebrew First Testament) is evidence of the fact that Jewish folk pre-first century wanted to be able to still read and hear their story.

During this period one of the great stories (books) of the day was Homer’s Iliad. The Stoics who were offended by some of the elements of these stories resorted to a form of interpretation called allegorizing. This allegorical approach to interpreting ancient texts was borrowed by Hellenistic Jewish thinkers, especially in the area of Alexandria (Northern Egypt). The best known among the Jews who borrowed this method of interpretation was Philo (13 BC-AD 45). One cannot prove or disprove Paul’s familiarity with Philo’s work, though attempts have been made to do so to understand what Paul was doing in part of his writings (1 Cor. 9.9; 10.3; 2 Cor. 3.12-16) and our present passage, the Sarah-Hagar allegory (Gal. 4.21-31).

Paul used the actual word allegory (allegoroumena) in Galatians 4.24. This does not make the story an allegory because the word is used. It had a broad range of meanings. In the Philo scheme of allegorizing, there was a clear desire to dehistoricize the First Testament and to integrate the story into a Greek philosophical scheme. These are both missing in Paul’s use of the story in Galatians. It may be fair to say that Paul is not using the Alexandrian method of interpretation in this passage.

In 1946/47-1956 of the last century, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. These findings have greatly aided in understanding Judaism during that time period. The Jews, who had moved to the desert at Qumran and were responsible for the scrolls that were found, had a distinctive and interesting way of thinking and writing about the First Testament stories. One of the obvious features common to Qumran and Paul is the use of a certain expression (it is written in various constructions) for an introduction to a citation from the First Testament. These Jewish interpreters were not like those of their brother Philo in Alexandria. Their approach to the text was much more literal (not in the same way American fundamentalists think about literal). At another level, the Qumranic community placed the meaning of the text into an eschatological frame of reference. This is somewhat common with the writers of the Second Testament including Paul. However, this does not mean that the writers of the Second Testament came to the same theological conclusion as those in Qumran. As an example, the Qumranic community believed that the age to come was still in the future, while Paul saw the age to come as already here.

In addition to Philo and the Qumranic community’s way of interpreting Scripture, there was also the Rabbinic approach to interpretation. These first-century rabbis resorted to an exposition of their Scripture through a process called Mishnah. The Mishnah is a collection of sixty-two treatises or norms of action and attitude that all together set forth a philosophy of life for Judaism. It is generally agreed that no book in the Second Testament is a Mishnah. For the rabbis, the text of Scripture was a living text and its interpretation (Mishnah) could not be separated from the application of the text.

But what does all this have to do with Paul’s story in Galatians 4.21-31? Is Paul using allegory or is he using a simple correspondence that occurs according to the plan of salvation history? Allegory usually means something like using historical concrete matters and vesting them with deep hidden meaning. Typology would mean events or persons in Scripture that are taken as prototypes of present persons or events that bring fulfillment within the framework of salvation history. More than likely we have a case of typology in which there is a correspondence between the persons in the story and the situation in Galatia.

The Story and Its Application (4.21-31)

Paul begins with a question. He told the Galatians that the Jewish agitators who wished them to live with the additional boundary markers should learn to read the stories of the First Testament when possible, in light of what God had done in Jesus. Paul then told the story of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Hagar, and Ishmael. Paul’s attention is on the two women in the story: Sarah and Hagar. He describes Hagar as a slave woman and Sarah as a free woman. Second, he focuses on the two sons, Ishmael born in an ordinary way, and Isaac born according to the promise of God.

He suggested that the women corresponded to two covenants: Hagar to the Mosaic covenant at Sinai and Sarah to the covenant established in the “heavenly Jerusalem.” What Paul is telling his readers is that those who associate with the covenant of the “heavenly Jerusalem,” are those who believe in Jesus and have now entered into the future era of the age to come. Finally, he proposed an application of this story to his readers. Ishmael persecuted Isaac so the Galatians that had believed in Jesus were being persecuted by the Moses plus Jesus missionaries. As Sarah expelled Hagar and her son, so the Galatians should expel the Jewish missionaries and reject their teaching.

So What?

What a mouthful! It appears to me that there may be several ideas floated above that would be interesting for dialog. First, the idea that we need to understand what an author of a New Testament book may have meant by the Greek words that he chose to write, not try and solely understand what the author might have meant by defining an English-translated word (in this case flesh), especially when it has been impregnated with much theological content layered over the actual word or words that Paul used. Second, we have become heirs of a certain strain of allegory in which most readers simply look for some deeper meaning to a word or story without letting the story speak out of its historical context. We have come up with some pretty fanciful and hurtful interpretations by using a method that is strictly Greek in its worldview.

It seems to me that we must let the text of Scripture teach what it taught and not use rather modern and oftentimes confusing methods of interpretation to try and understand the text. We must at some point learn and do the hard work of hearing with fresh ears what God may have said so many years ago. Finally, to Paul’s point, everyone is either an Ishmael or an Isaac. We either follow a course that adds layer after layer to the simple gospel of grace (usually not knowing that we are doing it or that what was passed on to us was also layered) or we follow the simple but fascinating message of Paul that salvation comes through the work of Jesus in this present evil age. To repent means to begin the process of living a completely different lifestyle than we did in our former lives. This change is not specifically just for our pleasure (which is a by-product), but our changed lives are a subversive message to the world that there is another way of life than the dominant paradigm proposes.

Indicative-Imperative (Affirmation and Exhortation)

Now for a short grammar lesson that hopefully won’t be too dull. The call for freedom is an “indicative” and the call to stand firm is an “imperative.” This structure of indicative-imperative is a standard way that Paul writes. When he uses this structure, the indicative involves the declaration of what God has done to inaugurate the new age in the present world. The imperative involves the exhortation to live out this new life in the setting of the old world.

This structure in Scripture, which is fundamental for us to understand, is the tension between the two ages. The concept of two ages pervades Scripture. Followers of Jesus live in two ages simultaneously. Scripture calls these ages by several names, the most common being this present evil age and the age to come. Paul uses this kind of language in Galatians.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Gal. 1.3-5).

We are citizens of two worlds at the same time. We live in this present evil age while we are members of the age to come. The future has invaded the present in the first coming of Jesus. We now live in the presence of the future. The old-age remains with all its evil and corruption. The new has pervaded the old. This structure is seen in the indicative and the imperative. The indicative then involves the affirmation of what God has done to inaugurate the new age. The imperative involves the exhortation to live out this new life in the setting of the old age.

Here are some illustrations from Paul that will give you a taste of how this structure works. Knowing about this structure and looking for it will help you see this structure throughout Scripture as you are reading.

Romans 12.1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.

In this passage, God’s mercy is the indicative. Mercy is something that God has given to each believer. Based on what God has given, one must respond to the imperative. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world….” The ultimate act of worship is to offer oneself to God. Paul wants his Roman readers to understand that the mercy of the age to come has arrived. He also wants them to understand that there is a response in this age to that mercy.

Romans 6.1-2; 12-13

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Rom. 6.1-2)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Rom. 6.12-13)

The affirmation (indicative) that Paul is giving is directed toward stimulating human responsibility to become active. The exhortation (imperative) is given in verses 12 and 13.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as in¬struments 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.”

What we can see developing in Scripture is a “his part – our part” perspective. God will always do his part. He empowers us and expects us to do our part.

Colossians 3.3-5

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Death to our former life has occurred. We are dead now—but not yet. The power of sin has been broken, but we still choose to sin. The question is often asked: If we are re¬ally dead and our life is hidden with God, then why do we continue to sin? Because we live be¬tween the times, we are dead—but not yet. We can see this very thing illustrated in this passage of Scripture. The next verse in Colos¬sians is the exhortation for us to do our part.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Having once died with Jesus was God’s part; our responsibility is to put to death what belongs to the fallen desire to rebel against God. Having died with Christ gives us a more ur¬gent reason for putting the things mentioned in this passage to death in our lives. In short, the life pattern of a believer living in this present evil age now becomes the life pattern or standard of living which is a part of the age to come. We live now as if we were living then.

Galatians 4 and 5

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Gal. 4.6-7).

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5.25).

What Paul wanted his readers to under¬stand is that in their new life they had re¬ceived the Spirit. But receiving the Spirit and living by the precepts of the Spirit is the dif¬ference between the indicative and the im¬perative. Receiving is the affirmation of what God has done now, followed by the exhortation.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Gal. 5.16).

The imperatives in Scripture are grounded in the reality of what has been accomplished by God, i.e., the indicative-imperative structure is intended to be brought to full reality by the indicatives. We are new people in Christ. We have been fully forgiven of our sins. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling in our lives. The imperatives of Scripture are to be obeyed to bring to full reality what already is.

Thus, when Paul calls the Galatians to freedom (indicative) and follows with a call to stand firm (imperative), he is telling them that what they must do (stand firm) is based on what God has already done (given freedom in Christ). What God has done gives us the power and opportunity to do what we should do. To be free in Jesus was possible for the Galatians if they refused the value-added suggestions of the Jewish missionaries. To be free meant to have a relationship with God based on what Jesus had accomplished on the cross. There now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

Consequences (5.2-4)

Paul sends an earsplitting warning to the Galatians. He indicates by the use of the present tense that circumcision had already begun among the Galatian believers. He wants the knife cutting to end. Circumcision today is a surgical procedure performed in the hospital (for the most part). It has no theological significance for us today, so it is difficult to understand why Paul was so upset that this procedure had already begun. Paul is not so much interested in the actual rite of circumcision as much as their reason for undergoing circumcision. To allow the act of circumcision to be performed meant that they were saying that Christ was not sufficient.

He told his readers that if they let themselves be circumcised, then Jesus has no value for them. What does it mean that “Christ will be of no value?” This is the ramification for submitting to the rite of circumcision: Jesus will not deliver them from the present evil age (Gal. 1.4) nor the curse of added boundary markers (Gal 3.13), nor can they become true children of Abraham (3.6-9).

In Galatians 3.4 Paul sheds more light on “Jesus plus” having no value. He makes three points. First, if they are circumcised they must then keep all the boundary markers. Second, their act will separate them from the grace of Christ. Finally, they will miss the only thing that counts: faith.

To be obligated to keep the whole Law did not mean to keep it perfectly. No Jew in the first century believed that they had to keep the Law perfectly to be God’s people. This is why they had been given the atonement system in the desert so many years before. To be obligated to keep the Law was to think of God’s work in the world as purely nationalistic. Live inside the boundary markers and you will surely be the people of God.

Paul continues in verse 4 by telling his readers that those who opt for living within the boundary markers as an additive to the gospel at the same time opt-out of the Christ system of grace.

There is a sensitive part to the verse that has caused endless debates (often shedding more heat than light). His readers were being told that opting for the additional boundary markers meant that they had fallen away from grace. Does he mean that the Galatians had lost their salvation? One must think differently when reading Scripture, especially in the area of individualism. Individualism is the product of the Enlightenment project of the last 300 or so years. Paul is not thinking about one specific Galatian follower of Jesus and how the act of choosing circumcision had caused that one specific Galatian Jesus follower to now be lost from the people of God. Rather, he is speaking corporately to all the followers of Jesus.

It is so appealing to turn to one verse and build a theology of “lostness.” It is the downside of modernity and our Greek inheritance. The solution to this problem would require a massive analysis of the protection of God’s people and human responsibility before God (neither is the purpose of this teaching). For those who hold the Calvinist view that one cannot lose his or her salvation, this verse describes a person that has never been fully committed to the gospel message of saving faith. For those who believe that a person can lose his or her salvation (Arminian view), this verse describes a Galatian who opted for the wrong stuff and, thus, truly lost his or her eternal salvation. These are the positions that this verse fosters, neither of which was most likely in Paul’s mind.

Finally, Paul told his readers that choosing to follow the Jewish missionaries’ gospel would cause the Galatians to miss the only thing that counts, which was and is faith. The act of circumcision or not being circumcised doesn’t count, only faith.

Living into the Story

End of Session
 

Other Books by Winn Griffin


googling God’s Will


God’s EPIC Adventure


Gracelets


{ 0 comments… add one }

Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.

Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)

Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)