Tiptoe through the Tulips

When we start reading a new book of the Bible, how many of us just zoom over the “Greeting”? I know I tend to do that…until I slow myself down by translating the Greek. (And trust me…I’m still at the “tiptoe” stage…not going to break any land records yet!;)

When you s..l..o..w..l..y read throught 1Pet.1:1-2, you get so excited you want to…write a Blog Post!! [WARNING: If you are planning to TAKE this Ladie’s class on 1 Peter, you must forget everything you read so you can “discover” it yourself when the time comes! ;)]

Concerning God’s “elect ones” (v.1), we learn in (v.2):
1) God Elected: They are elected by the “forethought/pre-arrangement of God (the) Father.” The cause of their salvation is NOT that THEY reached out to God, BUT that GOD reached out to them. [cf.Paul: Rom.8:29-30; Eph.1:11]

2) God Effected: The new relationship becomes possible “by means of” the Spirit’s sanctifying power. [cf.2Thess.2:13; 1Cor.6:11]

3) The Response of Faith: Obedience to the gospel of Christ [cf.Rom.1:5]

4) Establishment of New Covenant Relationship: [Eg. Ex.24:3,7-8 sprinkling of blood follows pledge of obedience to Covenant (in Exodus: Mosaic Covenant; in 1Peter: New Covenant (Mk.14:24)]

A Perspective on Trials

Never say I am not responsive to criticism!! [even though I HAVE been recently accused of “sitting around all day reading ancient Greek”]

In preparing for a one-on-one session with a lady going through a trial, I was hit by the power of Eph.3:10-21. Here’s Paul being unjustly incarcerated in Rome, writing to the church at Ephesus in order to tell them not to become discouraged about his circumstances.

v.10 Purpose for Trials: “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places”

v.11 Source of Trials: “according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus…”

v.12 Comfort in Trials: “in Whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.”

v.13 The Conclusion: “don’t lose heart”

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians:
v.16 they would “be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man”

v.17 How? God-enabled:
“having been rooted and grounded in love”
“rooted”: established, firmly planted, literally: “been made stable”; Passive Voice, done TO believer
“grounded”: foundationed; Passive Voice, done TO believer
Both in reference to the love of Christ

v.19 Reason for Trials: “that you may know the love of Christ…be filled with all the fullness of God”; be totally dominated by the Lord with nothing left of “self”

v.21 Result of Trials: God is glorified

this is the world we live in…

I’ve recently run across a few things that have surprised even me. The more time passes the more irrational people become.

Check out this story. Apparently talking about God makes a movie ‘dangerous’. but while i’m on this story, i don’t know if this is the bext example of God working in people’s lives. The description of the movie at the end might raise a false hope of God working in situations. just weird all around.

I loved the commentary on this story.

If you’ve ever wanted to run someone off the road, don’t worry. It wasn’t a sinful issue in your heart. It may have been Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

How much more people have to die or get raped before we deal with sex offenders differently? A sad ending to this story.

My Whacko Theory: Part Two

Due to the overwhelming positive response to Part 1, I’ve decided to not make you wait for Part 2 a moment longer than necessary…

Part of the exegesis of 1Pet.3 included determining WHO “the spirits in prison” were. I found the Greek word for “spirits”, in the plural, with only one exception (where the text qualifies the meaning), always refers to angelic beings, both righteous and fallen. An entirely different word, psuche, is used of men’s spirits. Revelation contains 7 references to a subset of fallen angels who have been imprisoned in a place called “the Abyss” and “the pit”, where they await future judgment. 2Pet.2:4-5 speaks of fallen angels imprisoned by God in Tartarus during the time of Noah. The Greek verb tartarow means, “I send to Tartarus.” [Warning…we are rapidly approaching whacko theory…]

This concept would have been familiar to both 1st Century Jews and pagan Greeks. In the Book of Enoch, Tartarus is the place where fallen angels are imprisoned. In Greek mythology, Tartarus is the name for the underworld, the realm where the imprisoned Titans (2nd generation gods who battled against and lost to the 3rd generation Olympian gods) are imprisoned, as well as being the realm of dead men. NOW, my whacko theory is…what if the Greek myths concerning the Titans are based upon those imprisoned fallen angels? What if the Titans were actually the fallen angels “who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared” (1Pet.3:20)? What if “the Abyss”, “the pit” of Revelation is the same place called Tartarus by the Greeks?

I haven’t looked too closely at Gen.6:1-4, other than to know this term “sons of Elohim” is used only four other times in the OT and in all four instances it refers to supernatural beings: Job 1:6, 2:1; 38:7 (angels) and Dan.3:25 (a theophany of Christ). And in Gen.6:2 “sons of Elohim” are carefully distinguished from the “daughters of men”. In the LXX “sons of Elohim” is translated “the angels of God”. In the OT men are sometimes referred to as “sons of Jehovah”, but never as “sons of Elohim”. The only other applicable reference is in Jude 6-7, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of that great day”. In v.7 Jude says these imprisoned angels are like Sodom and Gomorrah in that they went after “strange flesh”, an unholy alliance.

Gen.6:4 calls the offspring of these “sons of Elohim” and “daughters of men” – “giants” [nephilim], “mighty men”, “men of reknown”. [I know some say v.4 is not talking about the same group as vv.1-2, but the same term “sons of Elohim” IS used in both places. Book One of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” gives the Greek mythological account of the Creation through the Flood (containing lots of interesting “pieces”, btw!). Hades becomes ruler of Tartarus [in the division of rule among the 3 brothers after they have defeated the Titans: Hades gets the underworld, Poseidon the seas and Zeus/Jove the heavens and the earth – Zeus/Jove did the dividing and gave himself a double portion as the firstborn son. [He’s REALLY the last conceived, but ends up being the firstborn…but that’s entirely another story…] The “iron age”, the final age before the Flood, called “the worst of ages, suddenly gave way to every foul impiety; earth saw the flight of faith and modesty and truth – and in their place came snares and fraud, deceit and force and sacrilegious love of gain.” It’s so bad on earth that that “guests cannot trust hosts”! [a MAJOR sin to the Greeks!!] “And in this age, not even heaven’s heights are safer than the earth. They say the Giants, striving to gain the kingdom of the sky, heaped mountain peak on mountain mass, star-high.” [a conflation with the Tower of Babel?] Zeus throws thunderbolts and they crash down, but “Earth soaked up the blood of her dread sons; and with their blood still warm, she gave their gore new life: so that the Giant’s race might not be lost without a trace, she gave their shape to humans whom she fashioned from that blood. But even this new race despised the gods; and they were keen for slaughter, bent on force: it’s clear to see that they were born of blood.” When Zeus/Jove sees the condition of men on earth he groans, becomes angry, and after consulting with the other gods, decides to “destroy the mortals’ race” with a flood. Only Deucalion and his wife survive the Deluge. “Their small skiff” lands on Mount Parnassus. Then the wind Boreas is sent out to dry the earth.

Now, I’m not going to write a book outlining my whacko theory, naming all of you as my family and friends. But it is interesting to contemplate. And maybe I’ve interested you enough to want to read “Metamorphoses” (The Mandelbaum translation is a poetic, easy read) or to pay a little more attention to the art of ancient civilizations the next time you visit a museum. And if you happen to have me along with you…I’ll tell you some more…

My Whacko Theory: Part One

ONE of the reasons I so enjoy studying the history, art and myths of ancient civilizations is because I see the outworking of Rom.1:20-32. Mankind once KNEW the Truth. The people who stepped off the ark KNEW God as Creator and worshipped Him as such. As time progressed, much of mankind chose NOT to know God and worshipped the creation rather than the Creator. When I study the myths and art of ancient civilizations, I am always looking for the “pieces” of truth they retained…and embellished upon. You see this in the oldest mythic literature of Egypt, the Near East and Greece. Though I don’t know it as well (yet…;), I’ve also found pieces of Truth in the myths of the Americas, particularly those of the Mayans. I’m also interested in the interconnection of myths and how local gods became absorbed into more universal gods/goddesses and how they morphed from one civilization to another. For example, Mesopotamian Inanna became the Semitic Ishtar, “Queen of Heaven”(found in Scripture), who became the Greek Aphrodite, then the Roman Venus. The early Mesopotamian god Enlil, “lord of the air”, became the later Babylonian god, Marduk, featured in Scripture. Also in Scripture: Satan is called “lord of the air”. [No whacko theory yet…]

You find universalities in many of the creation myths & Flood myths containing pieces of Truth in them. Almost all have the idea of an original “Golden Age”, which man longs to return to. (Eden?) For example, according to Greek myth, “corn appeared without labor” during this Golden Age. And there’s the myth of the “Five Races”…could that have started from the 3 races that developed from Noah’s sons? Now, if you’ve ever actually READ those myths AND read Genesis (I’m convinced people who propound the theory that the Jews used these stories to write Genesis from have either never done this OR they are so intent on disproving the Bible that they make themselves look ridiculous), it is like reading the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk” and an agricultural manual on how to grow green beans. There is just NO comparison in literary style!! It is ridiculous to even suggest it!! The God of the Bible is soooo far removed from the gods of pagan literature, who don’t care about men except to use them, who are incredibly immoral and unreliable, who are NOT omnipotent, omniscient or any of those other “omnis”. Nor do any mythic gods create matter ex nihilo. [No whacko theory yet…]

OK…here comes the set-up for the “whacko theory” part. Our major paper in Greek 2 involved the exegesis of 1Pet.3:18-22. Unlike us, 1st Century readers had no problem understanding exactly what Peter was talking about, which is [probably why he didn’t have to elaborate. [Just like the frustration of reading Classical and Alexandrian Greek myths that presuppose the hearer has a clear understanding of the background behind the story, and so they don’t have to elaborate on the background details. But modern day readers are left in a quandary, not understanding all the allusions.] I certainly didn’t come up with “the definitive” interpretation of 1Peter 3, but I did make a valiant attempt at being consistent with the language and with the rest of the Bible. [Which, btw, I discovered many Commentators do NOT…eg. Wayne Grudem. He makes a “logical” interpretation that looks pretty good, but totally ignores basic rules of Greek! Actually, I was quite surprised to find how few Commentaries were careful with the language! I strongly recommend having a set of Wuest’s NT Word Studies, Dr. Zodhiates’ NT Word Study and a set of Robertson’s “Word Pictures in the NT” in your library.]

Stay tuned for Part Two…the actual “whacko” part. [Always keep ’em coming back for more, I say. ;)]

books VS The Book

I recently read a book sent to me concerning “Women’s Ministries”. Now…I find myself appalled by most books written on this subject. They are usually steeped in the world’s ideas and have very little to say about God’s ideas. But this one caught my attention in the first line, “The subject of this book is not women; it is the Church of the Lord Jesus.” Good start!! While the book was heavily steeped in the particular denominational beliefs of the authors, overall I found it to be quite encouraging.

But when I leafed through the Appendix, what did I find but the same old, same old. Buy our material, read our booklist. An article entitled, “How to Evaluate Bible Study Materials”. How about studying THE BIBLE instead of “materials” about the Bible? And this line KILLED me, “You are not to teach a lesson. You are to facilitate a discussion based on an assigned chapter of the book (i.e. the material you buy from them).”

We just finished our Ladies’ Study on “Philippians”. We didn’t skip ahead and spend all of our time on the application. We didn’t read a verse here and there out of context. We didn’t read what OTHER people thought the book said. We read the Bible, in context, the book as a whole, repetitively. We did analytical charts, we did Word Studies, we found the themes in the book, we divided up each chapter into subject groups and titled them, we outlined the entire Epistle and paid attention to how Paul developed his ideas. We looked up cultural practices, enlightening a few areas for us. We read companion passages in “Acts” concerning Paul’s establishment of the church at Philippi and his subsequent relationship with them. We studied the history of the city of Philippi and the Roman Empire as it applied to what we were studying. We found out more about the people and places mentioned within the Epistle. We looked at the ruins of the city as they appear today, learning a little archaeology on the side. [you KNOW I had to fit that in somehow! ;)]

We studied the Word!! Why are Christians so anxious to “study” the Bible ANY possible way, EXCEPT…to study…the…Bible?! And what was the result of all this effort? Amazing!! Week after week I saw “light bulbs” pop on as they really began to understand what the text was saying and what the implications were! I saw women CONVICTED by God’s Word. I saw women who were EXCITED about studying God’s Word. [One of my favorite moments was when Jen ran up to me one week after the Sunday AM sermon, her Bible open, and asked, “Is this a Granville-Sharp construction?” and wanted to discuss the implications!] She was getting MORE understanding out of what was being preached because of her own practice studying God’s Word…FROM God’s Word!! THAT is exciting stuff, people!

I tell you…there’s just no other way to go! Why are so many Bible teachers so intent on keeping people AWAY from their Bibles? Why do we want to focus so exclusively on the “doing” that we completely miss the power BEHIND the “doing”? The Word changes your heart and mind as you immerse yourself in it, and THEN…the “doing” becomes the fruit that emerges!