This is a guest post by one of my former master’s students at Dallas Seminary, Kyle Hughes. This was his term paper in the course Advanced Greek Grammar, now published in the vaunted journal Novum Testamentum. Although he credits me with strong input and support, he went much further and worked far more closely with the primary sources than I would have. I am grateful for his endeavors.
Kyle R. Hughes, “The Lukan Special Material and the Tradition History of the Pericope Adulterae,” Novum Testamentum 55.3 (2013): 232–251.
The great majority of scholars hold that the so-called pericope adulterae or “PA” (the story of Jesus and the adulteress found in John 7.53–8.11) is not original to John’s Gospel. The first manuscript of John to include this story is Codex Bezae (D), which dates to the fifth century, and on internal grounds these verses interrupt the narrative of John’s…
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Fear and anxiousness.
Despondency and hopelessness.
Most of all, the silence. It pressed like a weight on one’s chest, making every breath difficult and painful.
So different from how things were just a few days ago when the world seemed filled with hope and promise.
The laughter and cheers filled the air and echoed off the walls of the narrow street of the ancient city.
And there was joy!
But this Saturday morning, normally a day set aside each week for quiet reflection on all that God had done through the ages, the reflections were dark, helpless, hopeless.
The mind held the raw terror and shocking violence of the previous day like a mother holding a still-born child. Numbness and distress both battled for supremacy. Neither won.
The small group of the faithful huddled together in the shadows couldn’t make eye contact with each other. They were each lost in their own misery and gloom.
They were living Jeremiah’s lament: “”So I said, ‘My endurance has expired; I have lost all hope of deliverance from the Lord.’”
They were unaware that, tomorrow, the world would change forever. There would be hope and promise like they had never known.
No, today all they could hold onto was yesterday.
Yesterday they had watched—well, some of them had—the brutal killing of the one they believed had been promised from of old.
The One they had believed was the Messiah promised through the prophets for as there had been prophets.
Yesterday was what would be known in later times as “Good Friday.” For them, however, it was an evil day.
And they had no inkling that tomorrow would be Resurrection Day. Somehow they had missed the greatest promise of the One they had believed and followed these last few years—that He would rise again as Victor over Death.
No, all they could see was the darkness and hopelessness of today.
How like us so often. So easy for us to see our circumstances of the moment with no vision of the promises of the One who lay entombed that Saturday.
How easy for us to hold on to hopelessness and despondency instead of holding on to the sure knowledge that that tomb is empty, that death and defeat lost their power that Sunday morning.
How easy for us to wallow in Saturday, overshadowed by Friday.
How easy for us to focus more on the darkness of today rather than the promise of The Risen One, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die.”
How easy for us to huddle in the shadows, weighted down by doubt and worry instead of trusting and living in the promise that He “has overcome the world,” and that, in Him, “we are more than conquerors.”
Let us remember that, yes, we may be living in Saturday right now, Sunday IS coming!
Soli Deo Gloria
A great deal I could say. Simply put, though: this is a well-written blog that is reasoned and gracious. Well worth the read.
“What are your thoughts about _____?
Is she doctrinally sound? Is she a false teacher?”
That’s probably the number one question I’m asked by readers. It gives me so much joy each time I receive that question because it’s encouraging to hear from Christian women who don’t want to be led astray and want to worship Christ in spirit and in truth.
I’m delighted to answer readers’ questions about various teachers (You can find information about many of today’s best known evangelical personalities and ministries under my “Popular False Teachers” tab at the top of this page.) but, unfortunately, my answers often take a while. I’ve never heard of many of the teachers I’m asked about, and in order to give a fair and biblically accurate answer, I have to research each of them. The less famous they are, the less information there is out there about them, and…
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“You need to trust me and allow me to lead you. I expect unconditional support of the leadership of this church in all ministry environments.”
What?! Are you KIDDING me?!
This is cult-talk, not Christian Church talk.
This is bullying, not leading.
This is oppression, not Christian servant-leadership.
This HAS to stop!
If you are in leadership in the church and this is your attitude, you need to get on your face and repent, begging God to change your heart and protect you from His due punishment for oppressors (Malachi 3:5; see also Psalm 94:20, Jeremiah 25:34; Zechariah 9:8; et.al.).
In fact, God has something to say about oppression and oppressors 84 times in Scripture…it is SO not okay with Him!
Jesus gave us His example of leadership (see the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet, for example, in John 13, especially John 13:14, 15, 17).
In fact, Jesus admonishes His disciples (that includes you, pastor),
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” ~ Matthew 20:25-28
If you think your position in the church entitles you to “lord it over” (bully and oppress) those you are there to serve, better go back to Bible school – if you ever went.
You are there to serve, NOT to be served. You are to gently lead from in front, not drive from behind (that’s the role of the butcher!).
Also, there seems to be a great deal of confusion about what authority is and what it isn’t.
Other than Jesus Himself, NO ONE has any authority. Let me say that again…
“Other than Jesus Himself, NO ONE has any authority.”
- Jesus: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18b)
- Paul: “And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things.” (Ephesians 1:22)
- Paul again: “For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1b)
Bottom line is this: NO one “has” any authority; they simply exercise the authority God in Christ has assigned TO A POSITION, NOT A PERSON.
Example: If you get elected mayor, you will exercise the AUTHORITY OF THE POSITION of mayor until you are no longer mayor. Once you are no longer mayor, YOU NO LONGER EXERCISE THE AUTHORITY of the position of mayor.
If you serve as a pastor or other elder, your exercise the authority of that POSITION, and it DOES NOT belong to you!
Oh, and this nonsense about “spiritual authority?” Go back and read Matthew 28:18 and Ephesians 1:22 – again.
And before you take Titus 3:1 out of context (“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.”), this was part of Paul’s instructions to Titus on teaching the people in his congregation about how to treat THOSE OUTSIDE the church.
Also, your limited scholarship in dealing with Hebrews 13:17 needs to be repented of and you need to seek to understand what is meant, not just what is being said. It requires more than a “letter of the law” approach based on English translation:
- 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. (KJV)
- Obey your leaders 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. (NASB)
- Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. (NIV)
- The word often translated “obey” is πείθω (peithō), and it means (among other things) “to suffer one’s self to be persuaded, yield to persuasion, to be convinced.”
- In the very next verse, the same word is translated either “convinced” or “sure”, depending on translation (“Pray for us. We are sure…”NIV; “Pray for us, for we are sure…” ESV; “Pray for us, for we are sure…” NASB)
- Even the go-to translation (KJV) for many hyper-headship and other oppressive authoritarians renders that same word in the next verse as “Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience…”
- Some of the variants of this word are translated “But the ruling priests and the elders persuaded (epeisan | ἔπεισαν the crowds …” in Matthew 27:20; “And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will bribe (peisomen | πείσομεν ) him…” Matthew 28:14; and “He also told this parable to some who were confident (pepoithotas | πεποιθότας) in themselves…” Luke 18:19).
It seems quite clear that the idea of “obeying spiritual leaders” is not consistent with what God’s Word actually teaches, doesn’t it?
For those of you who think that a pastor or husband or father IS the authority or HAS authority, you have been deceived. Throw that off. Not only is that a man-made construct, it is oppressive at base.
Christ’s leadership was a servant-leadership.
It was self-sacrificial, not self-serving ( “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28).
It was for the good of us, not for the good of Him (Ephesians 5:25), and He had a passionate desire for God’s best for us, even if it cost Him everything (Philippians 2:3-11).
Pastor? Elder? STOP IT AND BE WARNED!
“Weep and wail, you shepherds; roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock. For your time to be slaughtered has come; you will fall like the best of the rams.” Jeremiah 25:34
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.'” Ezekiel 34:10
“The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence [opression] His soul hates.” Psalm 11:5 (emphasis added)
For those who agree with God on the exact nature and character of their wrong, He provides forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). It requires a contrite heart to be truly repentant and confessing (Psalm 21:7; Isaiah 66:2).
Serve others as you have been commanded, or relinquish the position you are not entitled to because of your oppression. He will not long tolerate His sheep being oppressed.
Soli Deo Gloria
Here is a quote from a blogger with an important message to those in leadership in “Church, Inc.”
‘Abuse isn’t “marital difficulties”. Our abusers aren’t just “angry men” or “men with anger issues” who “really want to do better”. They aren’t men who “aren’t understood by their wives” or who “aren’t being treated with respect” by us…’
Love is probably the most sought-after and least understood aspect of the human experience. We long for it, we hunger for it, we actually need it, and yet those things are at the very root of our inability to Love God’s Way.
The most famous passage in all of Scripture regarding love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a: “Love is patient, love is kind, and it is not envious. Love does not brag; it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, and it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Nice thoughts; great words; lovely sentiments. You’ve seen them on greeting cards, plaques on the wall, even hundreds of times on Facebook. What do they mean, and who are they for?
The Greek word for “love” in this passage of Scripture is agapē. It does not refer to brotherly love, familial love, or even romantic love. Agapē is unique and quite distinctive from our usual understanding and use of the word “love.”
Agapē is rooted in the very nature and character of God (1 John 4:8, 16b). Agapē is self-sacrificial (see Philippians 2:5-8). The verb form of this word means to love, highly value, honor, greatly esteem, manifest lavish concern for, be faithful towards, to delight in, and to emphasize the importance and value of another.
AGAPĒ EQUALS GIVE
To love God’s way is to give; there is no “take” in love (although there is a “receive” aspect to it which we will discuss in a moment).
- John 3:16: “For this is the way God loved [agapaō, the verb form of agapē] the world: He gave [abandoned and delivered up for] His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
- Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved [agapaō], me and gave Himself for me.”
- Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love [agapaō] your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.”
To “love” someone with any expectation at all of anything coming back in return is NOT love – it is a business deal, not relationship. Quid pro quo (this for that) is not love because it is not sacrificial; it is self-serving and self-seeking. This is not how God has loved us and not how we are to love others.
Jesus emphatically establishes a brand new economy for relationships for all those who are His true disciples (more than just followers). Three times in John 13:34-35, He uses the same words to express His command to them (and to us): “I give you a new commandment – to love one another [agapaō]. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.”
As we have discussed in other lessons, repetition in Scripture is a device used to add emphasis to what is being said. Since they did not have exclamation marks, didn’t italicize or use all upper case for words, and didn’t have a way to bold the letters, they used repetition. Repeating something once meant it was highly significant; repeating twice (saying it three times) was like using all upper-case letters AND underlining-italicizing-bolding and adding several exclamation marks!!!
Loving God’s Way cannot be faked, pretended, or counterfeited for long because loving like God loves (even with our human limitations) is about much more than just behavior. To agapaō someone is to have a higher regard for them than you do for yourself (Philippians 2:3-4), to have a passionate desire for God’s best for them, even at great expense or sacrifice to yourself. This is something that happens on a heart level, not just with a bunch of words and some temporary actions.
His Word includes the commands to “love one another, just as I have loved you.” How has He loved us? “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life” (From Romans 5:5-6, 8, 10).
So, when we read that we are to “love your neighbor as you love yourself,” (Mark 12:31a) these words take on a significantly powerful meaning. They are commanded by God in the Old Testament and retaught by Jesus in the New.
When we give to another with the expectation of receiving something in return, we have just dehumanized and objectified that individual. They have now gone from being regarded in our hearts as a fellow image-bearer of God to a resource for us to have our needs met by. Again, that is not relationship; that is using.
In a marriage, this can be an especially easy trap to fall in to. Most people get married because of what needs are being met or what emotions they experience being connected to that other person. That is not a Biblical or a Christian model. To “love another” is to passionately desire God’s best for them, not for you.
Another important idea to hold fast to is the idea that the “one another’s” are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to love them first and love them best. It is from a solid “one anothering” love that the Body of Christ is able to love the lost.
One more thing: We are also instructed to love our enemies with the same love we love our fellow believers. This is an even more difficult kind of love. If you read Luke 6:35, you will find that Jesus explains what that love looks like with these instructions: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”
Matthew has a different quote from Jesus along these same lines (5:43-47): “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?”
Paul picks up this theme in Romans, Chapter 5 (verses 6, 8, and 10), and gives us the baseline for us to love others – even our enemies:
- “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Verse 6)
- But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Verse 8)
- For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? (Verse 10)
So, let us not forget that, just as God has loved us in Christ, so we are to love others – also in Christ, just as God has loved us. His love is not conditional, and neither should ours be.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day