Reading Section 9: Works of the Flesh / Fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5.13-26

➡ Average Reading Time: 17 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 Storyline: 5.13-21
Interpreting the Storyline
Called to Freedom (5.13-15)
Live by the Spirit (5.16-18)
The Works of the Flesh (5.19-21)
So What?
Faithfulness to One Gospel: A Request (5.1-6.10)
Interpreting the Story
The Context in Galatians
A Short Theology of The Spirit
The Fruit of the Spirit (5.22-23)
Final Thoughts (5.24-26)
So What?
Living into the Story

Reading the Storyline: New International Version (2011)

Free At LastYou, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Reading the Storyline: Interpretative Paraphrase

Brothers and sisters, you were called to freedom so don’t let your freedom to allow your sinfulness to gain a foothold. Rather, allow your love to generate service to one another. Remember the saying, “love your neighbor just like you love yourself. However, if you continue to wipe out each other you might end up consuming each other. On the other hand, permit yourself to walk with the assistance of the Spirit. When you do, you will not fulfill the fallen nature. Your fallen nature is always at war with the Spirit because they are opposed to each other. If you follow the fallen nature you will probably not do the edifying things. Remember, when you allow the Spirit to you will not under the law of additives that those agitators want to lead you toward. These acts of the fallen nature are obvious. They are adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, an outburst of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murder, drunkenness, orgies, and other actions like the these. Continue in these acts and you will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Rather than following the old fallen nature, follow the fruit that the Spirit provides which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and allowing to control you. Against such a lifestyle, there is no amount of additives that can produce a life that is infused with the Spirit. Since you belong to Christ you have crucified the fallen nature with all its filth and lusts. Since we live by the Spirit, it is imperative that we also walk with the help of the Spirit. Remember, don’t get a big head by provoking and envying each other.

Observing the Storyline: 5.13-21

Paul called the Galatians to the life of freedom from the flesh about which he provides a list. In 5.16-18 he provides them the clue for living in freedom from the flesh: it is living by the Spirit. Then he turns to a listing of some of the “works” that are the outflowing of rebellion against God. We must remember that all lists in the Second Testament are not complete: they are representative.

The first part of this passage (Gal 5.22-23) is a list of what is often called the “fruit of the Spirit.” The last few verses (Gal. 5.24-26) is an exhortation to keep in step with the Spirit.

Interpreting the Storyline

Called to Freedom (5.13-15)

It is clear that Paul is speaking to the members of the Galatian ecclesiae by using the word brothers, which had been expanded to brothers and sisters, in the NIV, as he calls them to freedom and exhorts them to not use their freedom to indulge in fleshly works. A word about the NIV translation is in order. At this point, the NIV translates flesh (sarx) as sinful nature. This translation suggests that there is a nature of sin inherited by humankind. While this may be the case, this is not what Paul means in these verses in Galatians. He clearly wants his readers to understand him as meaning rebellion against God. The antidote to the flesh for Paul is live in the Spirit rather than trying to live life by adding boundary markers.

It is important to understand why the Jewish missionaries had difficulty with Paul’s rather cavalier “law-free” (boundary-marker-free) gospel. It appears that they argued that the Galatians and all others who believed in Jesus had to add the Law or there would be no valid way of curbing man’s inclination to live a careless life. Therefore, the Galatians needed to add the boundary stipulations to be accepted by God as the people of God and then take on the whole of the Law and everything would be solved. They would be fully accepted by God. They would not live in immorality. The ecclesiae in Jerusalem would accept them and their nationalism would be resolved. To live by the Spirit, on the other hand, was inadequate by itself because the Spirit would never be able to hold back the forces of evil in their lives. It appears, from reading Paul in this letter, that the Galatians had swallowed this line of thinking, hook, line, and sinker (to use an old fishing phrase).

For Judaism, battling with the forces of the flesh was because of the human’s inclination to sin. Rabbis contended that all humans had two desires: good and evil.[ref] Scot McKnight. Galatians (The NIV Application Commentary Book 9) (Kindle Locations 5136-5138). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. [/ref] The battle for following good or evil was a function of the heart and that evil impulses often enticed people into sexual sins and idolatry. The chief means for fighting against this human tendency was the Law and repentance. Some thought that in the age to come that the impetus for sexual immorality and idolatry would be destroyed.

It may have been that the Galatians were simply insecure about how to handle their moral lives. The Jewish missionaries, having been taught the law of Moses was God’s moral guide, suggested that the Galatians would be able to fight off this human tendency for evil.

Without an adequate understanding of the kingdom come and coming, about living the life to come in this present evil age, the Jewish missionaries showed themselves unaware of Paul’s belief that the age to come had already invaded this age and that the flesh was dead—but not yet. The Spirit was now available to enable all believers to put off the works of the flesh and put on the life of the future age. As we have stated previously, the Second Testament should be understood within the context of the kingdom of God. We live in the present evil age that has been invaded by the age to come. For Paul, this future-in-the-present is expressed in this passage. The works of the flesh are the habits of life that belong to this present evil age. The fruit of the Spirit is the habit of life of the age to come. Remember, the Spirit-indwelt Jesus follower lives their lives during the present evil age awaiting the full arrival of the age to come. The flesh characterizes this old age for Paul.

So Paul told them to not use their freedom as the freedom to follow fleshly desires, but rather to serve one another in love, because the whole of the law is summed up in one single command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The result of not serving in love is to devour each other.

Live by the Spirit (5.16-18)

Living by the Spirit is living during a war. For each, flesh and Spirit, want different things. This is not some “mind struggle” or a struggle within one’s spirit. It is a war that has to do with the power a person belongs to. The flow of Paul’s thought is in opposites. When a person lives according to the Spirit, he or she will escape their desire to rebel against God. On the other hand, when one lives according to the habits of this present evil age, one does not do what God wants or desires. Paul told his readers in these few words how he viewed the Christian life. It was not earth-shattering. It was not the latest Christian fad delivered with the finesse of a conference. It was not a dig-deeper blessing. It was simply living in the Spirit, a life in which a person allows the Spirit to have complete control. Mustering up some kind of energy does not do this or being hyped by the latest “hip” set of beliefs on how to dominate the flesh by “seven simple but effective steps.” Life in the Spirit is a constant, moment by moment, intentional surrender to the Spirit.

The Works of the Flesh (5.19-21)

“Flesh” is Paul’s term for everything aside from God in which one places his trust. It is a rebellion against God. Flesh (sarx) for Paul is not rooted in sensuality but rebellion against God. The flesh is not the skin in which our body lives. It is a theological or technical word. It is the actions and attitudes of this present evil age. This lifestyle or habit of life is mentioned elsewhere in the Second Testament (Rom. 1.29-37; 1 Cor. 5.11; 6.9; 2 Cor. 12.20; Eph. 4.31; 5.3-4; Col. 3.5-9). Jesus gave such a listing in Mark 7.21-22. In Galatians 5.19-21, these habits of life fall into four categories (ours, not necessarily Paul’s). Note: Galatians 5.16-18 exhorts us to live by the premises of the age to come. It also tells us that this age and its lifestyle are at war with the age to come and its lifestyle.

The works of the flesh are open and visible to sight. As we said earlier, this list is not exhaustive. Just because a person cannot find a specific “work” here does not mean that it may not be a rebellion against God. Scot McKnight writes that the “works of the flesh” divides into four areas.[ref] Scot; McKnight. Galatians (Kindle Locations 5251-5255).[/ref] As with all lists in the Second Testament, the items on the list are suggestive, not exhaustive.

Sexual Sins: There are three in this list:

Sexual immorality: Sexual intercourse outside of the marriage relationship (Illustration: 1 Cor. 5.1ff). Intercourse outside of marriage breaks down the stability of a family. The word “adultery” found in the KJV does not appear in reliable manuscripts.

Impurity: The general word for an immoral activity that shuts a person off from God’s presence. The opposite lifestyle is found in Matthew 5.8 where Jesus says that God will bless those who have a pure heart. One could translate “pure in heart” as “with no ulterior motives. Those empowered people will have continued fellowship with God. It is fair to say that our motives should be adjusted to God’s motives.

Debauchery: This means a lack of restraint. A love for sin was so reckless that the one sinning has ceased to care what God or man thinks of his actions. No attempt is made to hide the sin; it is committed in the open (1 Pet. 4.3; Jude 4). Debauchery shocks public civility. It does not care what God or people think.

Religious Sins. There are two in this list:

Idolatry: The worship of gods that men have made. It is the sin in which material things have taken the place of God. This is the worship of a created thing instead of the Creator (Rom. 2.22-23; 24-25; 1 Cor. 10.18-20; 1 John 5.2).

Witchcraft: The original word translated in NIV as witchcraft is pharmakia from which we get our English word “pharmacy.” To practice witchcraft was to use drugs for magical purposes, to bring on spells, etc. (Acts 13.4ff).

Human Relationship Sins. There are eight in this list:

Hatred: Hatred is the attitude of total hostility toward another person. It is the attitude that puts up barriers and draws the sword, ready to fight (Luke 23.12). It is a state of enmity between individuals and communities.

Discord: The attitude that leads to contentions, quarrellings, strife, rivalry, debate, and wrangling. This more often happens in the church where the life of the age to come is supposed to be lived out. Out of the nine times discord is used in the New Testament, four of them refer to the life of the church.

Jealousy: Jealousy is the desire to have what someone else has.

Fits of rage: Fits of rage is an uncontrolled temper. It is a burst of temper that flames quickly and dies quickly (Rev. 12.12). Passion boils over and instantly becomes a white heat of rage, then cools off.

Selfish ambition: This is the attitude of self-seeking. It is pushing one’s self with no conception of serving others (Phil. 1.17). It is always putting oneself forward above everyone else. Aristotle used this word in referring to the self-seeking pursuit of political office by the manipulation of unfair means.

Dissensions: The attitude of disagreement that leads to division. It means to “stand apart.” It tries to get people to think of each other as an enemy.
Factions: Factions arise from a self-willed opinion that leads to divisions and the formation of sects. The end of which is disliking a person’s views as well as disliking the person who holds the view. We need to be aware even today so that we do not adopt this habit of criticizing those who hold different views.

Envy: This is not the attitude that desires something someone else has. It is the attitude that grudges the fact that someone else has anything at all.

Sins of Drunkenness. There are two in this list:

Drunkenness: This is habitual intoxication. It is being an alcoholic. While society has forwarded a belief that alcoholism is a sickness, which it may be, Scripture sees its roots as a work that is in rebellion against God.

Orgies: Sexual orgies. Drunkenness and sexual orgies were characteristic of pagan worship.

Paul concludes this list with “and the like,” which indicates that this long list of rebellions against God is “only” representative. The list only scratches the surface of sins.

These fifteen things plus others mentioned in various other lists are the habits of life of this present evil age. These are the things in which Satan wishes to continually ensnare people. In Galatians 5.21b, Paul gives a solemn warning – those who continue these habits of life will not inherit God’s rule. We never grow beyond the need to be warned that Satan wishes to devour us. So Paul says, “Hey guys and gals, don’t continue in those habits of life. Instead, adopt the habit of life of the age you have become a part of. Adopt its lifestyle.”

So What?

This list provides the first readers of the book of Galatians an opportunity to look first hand at what life in this present evil age is like. These are the works that no set of laws can control. God has now given his Spirit so that we don’t have to commit these sins, either individually or corporately as an ecclesia. Instead, as we shall see later, he has given us the lifestyle of the age to come to live out in the here and now. We don’t have to be controlled by this present evil age. The power of sin has been broken.

Faithfulness to One Gospel: A Request (5.1-6.10)

The word “fruit” as compared with “works” (in the verses above) indicates that the issue is not about what humankind can do, but what God grows into his people. One cannot grow his or her personal fruit. This is the business of God. His fruit is the actions and attitudes of the kingdom that have dawned into this age. Human responsibility is not negated, but attention should be drawn to whose fruit this is that believers are living out.

Interpreting the Story

The Context in Galatians

This small section of Galatians has had volumes written about it. Most of the time in these writings these verses are not at all related to their context in Galatians. They are taken as individual characteristics that believers should develop in their lives. The expression “the fruit of the Spirit” is a metaphor that is used by Paul to describe the lifestyle of the age to come that followers of Jesus are empowered to live into this present evil age. They are not dependent on additional boundary markers, as the Jewish missionaries would like to have had the Galatians believe. They are enjoyed moment by moment as followers of Jesus surrender to the Spirit.

Paul’s concern was to demonstrate that freedom from the Law of Moses did not mean doing away with the obligation to live an ethical life. One must get in alignment with how God works. Moral conduct is not accomplished by keeping a set of “rules or regulations.” Moral conduct must always be shaped by living in the Spirit, which means bringing the life of the future age into the present one. The “fruit of the Spirit” is not a few “good ideas” about living a Christian life. They are “living out” the life of the kingdom in the present. They are living in the story of God in this present evil age.

When we note the grammar (here we go again), the word “works,” listed in the previous verses of Galatians (5.19-21) is plural. This indicates that each may stand on its own without any of the others. You might say that one could be jealous without worshiping idols (idolatry). But, this is not the case with the “fruit of the Spirit.” Noting the grammar again: The text says, “fruit of the Spirit is.” “Fruit” is singular. “Fruit” comes in one package. All are together. When someone living according to the lifestyle habits of this present evil age looks at a local ecclesia, he or she should be drawn to the ecclesia because of the manifestation of the “fruit of the Spirit.” In short, the fruit should be visible in the lifestyle of that local ecclesia. The ecclesiae is the image-bearer of God for this present world to see. Of, course, individuals who make up the ecclesiae will be the vehicles through which the “fruit” is seen by the world. Being kind is for the sake of the world, not for one’s own sake. The latter is a benefit, but not the primary reason for the “fruit of the Spirit.” “Fruit” is not something that you ask God to give you. The “fruit of the Spirit” is something that is given to you when you became part of the people of God. Since you have all of them, it is useless to pray to have one of them.

Once while attending a New Year’s Eve service, I heard the leader ask which of the “fruit of the Spirit” would folks like to receive during the next year? There were several answers. The point of the text was missed. I suggested an alternative way of thinking, which I later heard from attendees, that they had never heard before. You can’t receive something you already have. If there is any prayer to be prayed it is for God to grow what he has already planted in you.
We must remember that Paul wrote this list to Galatian Jesus followers who were being pushed by the Jewish missionaries to add the boundary markers of Judaism to their faith in Jesus. These “fruit” must, finally, be understood in that context and not stripped of their context for a handy devotion. It is Paul’s concern that the Jesus followers living in the ecclesiae in Galatia were not going to live out their God-intended lifestyle (fruit of the Spirit) if they connected themselves nationalistically to Judaism and then took on the whole Law. A new day had dawned in Jesus. The Spirit bringing Kingdom life had arrived and nothing less than living and walking (a journey) in the Spirit would do for Galatia Jesus followers.

A Short Theology of The Spirit

Remember, the key to thinking theologically in the Second Testament is to understand the overlapping of the two ages. In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) the kingdom/rule of God is the future blessing belonging to the age to come (Mark 10.232-30). In the mission of Jesus, the kingdom had come among humankind (Matt. 12.28). In John, eternal life is the life of the age to come (John 12.25). But, in Jesus, this life has come to humankind as a present existence (1 John 5.13). In Paul’s writings, life in the Spirit has already come to those following Jesus.

The gift of the Spirit is a future (eschatological) gift that is now present. Two metaphors that are used of the Spirit are aparche (ah-par-kay) and arrabon (are-a-bone).

The first, firstfruits (aparche Rom. 8.23) indicated the actual beginning of the harvest. It is not a promise or hope of harvest. It was the harvest that was already being experienced. The second, (arrabon – Eph. 1.14), tells us that the Spirit was the down payment of a future inheritance: an inheritance that begins in the present, but is not completed until a future time.

In Galatians, this same future-in-the-present scheme is seen regarding the Spirit. Galatians 1.4 has set the tone for Paul’s outlook in Galatians. We are rescued from this present evil age. We are not removed from it, but in anticipation of the age to come, we are freed from the present evil age. In Jesus, the age to come has broken into the present evil age to rescue us from the power of the god of this world (2 Cor. 4.4). There is then an overlapping of the two ages. The old-age remains and believers and unbelievers are subject to its power. For Paul (Gal. 3.1-5), the Spirit was received now, even though he was also the blessing of the age to come.

The gift of the Spirit is seen as the fulfillment of the promise (Gal 3.14). In the First Testament, the prophets frequently referred to a day when the Spirit would be given (Isa. 44.3; Ezek. 36.26-27; 37.14; 39.29). Such prophecies in the First Testament look forward to the salvation that the Messiah will bring. From a First Testament perspective, the promise of the Spirit is a future (eschatological) promise and is one of the blessings of the establishing of the rule of God on earth. For Paul, this had occurred in the present (Gal. 3.2-3; 4.6; 5.25).

It is because the Spirit dwells in us and because we rely on the Spirit rather than the flesh, that we can live the lifestyle of the future right now both corporately (the ecclesia) and individually.

The Fruit of the Spirit (5.22-23)

As before stated, this is not an exhaustive list, but it was a list that was needed for the Galatians themselves. These are the lifestyle of those who are indwelt and energized by the Spirit. These ethical characteristics are in sharp contrast to the activities and attitudes of a self-centered, it’s all about me, lifestyle. The “fruit of the Spirit, is really “all about others.” And the “others” are those for whom God sent Jesus to die and rise again. There are nine listed.

Love (agape): Love stands at the head of the list because love characterizes God. It is the virtue that demonstrates to the world the Creator God’s concern for his creation. It can be defined as the act of seeking the best and highest potential for others—even for those who seek the worst for us.[ref]Willaim Barclay, New Testament Words. The Westminster Press. 1974. 22.[/ref] This love (seeking the highest potential for others) was the love that God demonstrated in Jesus for those who sought the worst for him. Remember, it is that God loved the world that he gave Jesus. Sometimes I get the impression that folks today believe that John 3.16 reads, “For God so loved me or the ecclesiae.”

Joy (chara): The delight that comes from experiencing God’s work in our lives (not from material things). Joy is not the same as happiness. It is not a state in which most of the circumstances of one’s life are satisfactory. It is born out of and rooted in life in the Spirit (Rom 14.17).

Peace (eirene): The inward calm that everything is okay because it is in God’s hands. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but a quiet rest during conflict.

Patience (makrothimia): The gentle tolerance of others. It is a positive value in dealing with people, not things and events.

Kindness (chrestotes): Kindness is treating others the way God treats us. It is the quality of God’s gracious attitude and actions toward sinners.

Goodness (agathosine): Treating others the way God treats us. It includes the idea of generosity. It may be understood as the attitude of generous kindness to others that is happy to do far more for others than is required by mere justice in a situation. (Illustrations: Kindness (Luke 7.37-50); Goodness (Matt. 21.12-13; 23.13-29). This may be the large-hearted generosity that is the antithesis of envy (Gal. 5.21).

Faithfulness (pists): Faithfulness means to be reliable. As an image-bearer of God, his church should be faithful as he is faithful. Individuals who make up the church are to be reliable and trustworthy.

Gentleness (prautes): The balance between excessive anger and excessive patience. The quality of a person who is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time. Another antithesis of a “work of the flesh.”

Self-control (enkrateia): This fruit is not the person controlling her/his own self. It is the Spirit producing mastery over self to gain the freedom to serve others. If anything would be a message to the Galatians, confused by the Jewish agitators about boundary markers securing morality by taking on the whole Law, having one’s person being controlled by the Spirit would be the message. For those Galatians who had been duped by the Jewish agitators to believe that not adding the Law would lead to libertinism, Paul assures them that against the life in the Spirit there is no need for Law, nor should the ecclesiae find in these virtues a codification of a new law. The “fruit of the Spirit” does not originate in any form of “good works,” but is the outgrowth of the Spirit’s eschatological activity in the ecclesiae.

Final Thoughts (5.24-26)

Galatians 5.24 points to the crucifixion of this age’s habits, while verse 25 says, “Since (not if) we live by the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit.” Walking in the Hebrew world suggested a “way of life,” a continuing journey.” It was not an event or a sudden inspiration. Finally, in verse 26 Paul told his readers to watch out for the habits of this evil age while walking in the Spirit.

So What?

It is fair to say that God’s desire is for us to stop acting as we belong to this age (doing the works of the flesh), and start acting like the people he has created us to be: people empowered by the Spirit to walk by his direction. People who live the adventuresome life of the age to come presently in the day-to-day life of this present evil age. As the ecclesiae and the individuals who make up the people of God live out this new alternative life, it (the ecclesiae) and they (the people of God) provide for the world the image of the Creator God.

Living into the Story

End of Session
 

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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.)