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Author Topic: Christ's Rules Of Conduct
Sa:ji:sdo:de
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285) 1Ths 5:27 . . I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.

None of the epistles are "eyes only" for the big shots in church. All church members are supposed to have access to them, and expected to know what's in them. How else are they to evaluate everything carefully, and hold fast to that which is good, and abstain from every form of evil if they aren't given access to the epistles?

The gospel conveys sinners into the family of God, while the epistles instruct the family how to behave as family members; so you can see that the epistles have a very important role in the lives of believers.

†. 1Tim 3:14-15 . . I am writing these things to you now-- even though I hope to be with you soon --so that if I can't come for a while, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God.

286) 2Ths 2:1-2 . . Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, that the day of Christ is at hand.

The "day of Christ" can be defined as all that terrible stuff that's to take place in the book of Revelation. Paul is saying that Christ's followers need not be nervous about it because they are slated to be spared all of that.

†. 1Thes 1:10 . .Wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.

†. 1Thes 5:9-10 . . For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him

287) 2Ths 2:3-4 . . Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, presenting himself that he is God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

288) 2Ths 2:15 . . So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

The "traditions" to which Paul refers are in two categories: (1) word of mouth, and (2) in writing. Seeing as how Paul and his contemporaries are no longer available for personal appearances, then the only reliable traditions in existence are the ones they left us in writing; viz: their letters; those written by Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude.

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Sa:ji:sdo:de
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289) 2Ths 3:6-10 . . In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it.

. . . On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

People unemployed due to circumstances beyond their control are exempt from that directive. It specifically targets what we here in the USA call a bum: which Webster's defines as someone who sponges off others not because they can't find work; but because they have an aversion to work; viz: they avoid work as if it were an inconvenient imposition on their leisure time.

290) 2Ths 3:11-13 . .We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

Some might not think that holding down a job qualifies as worship but it certainly does. Working for a living is categorized as "doing what is right". So then, since the fruit of The Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth (Eph 5:8-9) then working for a living is Spirit-worthy.

291) 2Ths 3:14 . . If anyone does not obey our commands in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.

Back then when churches were small enough to meet in homes rather than auditoriums that seat hundreds of people, it was easy to keep an eye on Christ's followers and hold their feet to the fire. Nowadays, forget it. Church sizes are such that management hasn't a clue what's going on in the lives of their membership roles. As a result, modern churches are permeated with conduct unbecoming.

292) 2Ths 3:15 . .Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Mandated consequences were usually for the purpose of discipline; viz: child rearing. So when officers ostracize one of Christ's followers, the congregation should keep in mind that the errant follower is one of their own: a sibling around the table in God's home. So wayward followers shouldn't be permanently culled from the herd as if they're the devil in disguise. They aren't devils; no, they're just naughty kids deserving a whipping. (cf. 2Cor 2:6-11)

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Sa:ji:sdo:de
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293) 1Tim 1:3-5 . . As I urged you when I went into Macedonia-- remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

The epistles of Timothy and Titus are sometimes called the pastoral epistles because Paul's instructions target mainly church managers rather than congregations.

The "no other doctrine" is the information he mentioned in another letter.

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

It was one of the Lord's last wishes that his church be unified.

†. John 17:11 . . And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

The sphere of Christianity today isn't unified; and actually, hasn't been since the first century. Even while the apostles were still alive, even in their own day, professing Christians were already breaking away and starting apostate movements (e.g. Gal 1:6-9, 1Tim 1:3-4, 2Tim 2:15-18, 1John 2:18-19, Jud 1:17-19). And churches were infested with counterfeit believers (2Cor 11:13, 2Cor 11:26, Gal 2:4, 2Pet 2:1, 1John 4:1). It's just amazing how soon that happened.

Somewhere within Christianity's world of chaos is Christ's unified church. One denomination says it's theirs, while another says it's theirs. Christianity truly is a world of confusion because not every church's managers are standing firm and holding to the traditions taught in the New Testament letters.

294) 1Tim 2:1-5 . . I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

The purpose of blanket prayers is not for the benefit of the people about whom we pray, but for our own benefit that "we" may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

As an example: should believers pray that President Obama govern with wisdom? No, that would be a total waste of perfectly good prayer time. Mr. Obama is a politician. He doesn't have the option to govern with wisdom. Rather, pray that God block the efforts of Mr. Obama's administration to pass laws and/or initiate programs, executive orders, and policies that make it that much more difficult for Christ's followers to serve him faithfully and effectively.

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295) 1Tim 2:8-9 . . I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and evil thoughts.

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

The koiné Greek word for "wrath" is orge (or-gay') which means: hot desire. Orge is sometimes translated anger, indignation, and vengeance. The idea is that a believer should never pray out of spite and/or use prayer as a tool to hurt somebody's feelings. That is the ugliest abuse of the privilege of prayer that I can possibly imagine. In my opinion, people who pray out of spite are no different than slanderers, witches, sorcerers and voodoo priests. Especially annoying are people who can't keep a civil tongue in their heads, and then have the nerve to say "you're in our prayers"

296) 1Tim 2:9-10 . . In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becomes women professing piety) with good works.

Women are not exempt from the directive to abstain from wrath and evil thoughts. And their hands ought to be holy hands too; viz: doing good instead of up to no good.

Some folk, obsessed with asceticism, use that verse to prove it's wrong for women to use cosmetics and dress themselves in current fashions. But the passage doesn't forbid that. What it forbids is a woman putting a higher priority on her appearance than her character

The old adage "You can't judge a book by its cover" applies here as well as in literature. I've met women with tattoos, studs in their tongues, multicolored hair, fishnet stockings, outrageous earrings, tight-fitting concert tee shirts, low-slung hip huggers, and black lipstick that were really peaches while I've met dignified, neatly dressed women with horrible personalities. They say a rose in any language is still a rose; yeah, well, a pig, no matter how it's dressed, is still a pig whether in belly shirts and flip-flops or haute couture.

†. Prv 11:22 . . An attractive woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig's snout. (cf. 1Pet 3:1-6)

The koiné Greek word for "shamefacedness" is aidos (ahee-doce') which means: bashfulness; which is just the opposite of insolence, impudence, and brazenness. Bashful people have a hard time looking people in the eye because they are so shy, non-confrontational, timid, self conscious, and non-assertive. What we're looking at here relates to one of the Lord's beatitudes.

†. Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

That beatitude was taken from the book of Isaiah.

†. Isa 66:2 . .But on this one will I look: on him who is of a poor and contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.

The koine word for "sobriety" is sophrosune (so-fros-oo'-nay) which means soundness of mind; viz: sane, composed, and self controlled. A woman in the throes of hysteria, passionate rage, door-slamming, or a hissy fit does not quality a sophrosune.

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Sa:ji:sdo:de
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†. Gen 14:18a . . And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine;

Melchizedek's name is Malkiy-Tsedeq (mal-kee-tseh'-dek) which means: king of right or possibly just simply righteous king; in contrast to the wickedness which was the stock in trade of Bera, king of Sodom.

I tend to think that King Mel was a widely-accepted circuit judge in that region; a sort of one-man Supreme Court in his day like Samuel was in his.

"Salem"-- an early name of Jerusalem --is from Shalem (shaw-lame') which means: peaceful.

Some make a big deal out of the bread and wine; relating it to the elements of the Christian Eucharist. However, the word for "bread" is lechem (lekh'-em) which isn't strictly limited to bakery products. It just means food (for man or beast), especially bread, or grain (for making it).

A good example of the ambiguity of lechem is the feast that Joseph ordered prepared for his brothers. (Gen 43:25-31)

The "bread" Joseph ordered wasn't a basket of Focaccia al rosmarino; it was a whole banquet. In contrast, the bread that the Lord broke at his last passover was the koiné Greek word artos (ar'-tos) which always, and every time; specifically indicates nothing else but bakery products.

There's really nothing especially symbolic about the wine either; it was a common dinner beverage introduced to the post Flood world by none other than grampa Noah. (Gen 9:20-21)

Mel's catering service probably brought enough food and drink for Abram's entire detachment. They certainly deserved to be feted for their efforts, not just the old boy himself. Mel's feast was a celebration; no doubt instigated by Mel, but participated in by the whole region as a gesture of deep gratitude to Abram and his men for ridding Canaan of that awful Ched person. In other words: I think that what we're looking at here is a fiesta.

The wine that Mel brought to this event was capable of making everybody quite drunk if they imbibed an amount beyond their tolerance. The word is yayin (yah'-yin) which means: to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication, intoxication. It's the very same word used of the beverage that hammered gramps in chapter nine.

Mel was not only a political figure in that region; but a religious figure as well.

†. Gen 14:18b . . he was a priest of God Most High.

"Most High" is a brand new superlative for God at this point in Genesis. It's 'elyown (el-yone') which means: an elevation, i.e. lofty. As a title it means: the Supreme, or the Very Highest.

We might have thought that Abram's camp comprised the only God-fearing people in all of Canaan. But surprise of surprises. There was another man in the land who was a God-fearing sheik just like Abram. But Mel went one better. This man was not just a sheik, but also a priest of the Supreme God; and he holds the honor of being the very first official priest of God in the entire Bible; many years before Aaron.

Abram was a great sheik, and a great man of God; and although he did the part of a priest for his clan-- as did Job, Noah, and others-- he was never really an official priest nor was he ever really a true king. So Mel easily outranked Abram. (cf. Heb 7:4-7)

True priests are mediators between God and Man; and in that capacity, have the authority and the wherewithal to effect a reconciliation between the two whenever there's a breakdown in diplomatic relations. Priests also have a knowledge of God; which they have a sacred duty to dispense to their constituents. (Mal 2:7)

The Bible is completely silent about Mel's origin. It doesn't list his genealogy; no, not even so much as his mother and father; which is very unusual because Aaronic priests have to prove their lineage before being permitted to take office. So that, in reality, a priest like Mel doesn't have to be related to Aaron, nor does he even have to be particularly Jewish; nor any other specific ethnic for that matter. He just has to be a human being.

However, humanness doesn't eo ipso qualify someone for the office of Melchizedekian priest because it's an appointment rather than a career track. (Ps 110:4, Heb 5:4-6)

Mel was definitely a Gentile because Abram (himself also a Gentile, from the region of Iraq) had yet to engender Isaac; the father of Jacob, who was to become the progenitor of the twelve tribes of the people of Israel; viz: the Jews. So; though Christ was a Jew, a number of his ancestors weren't.

NOTE: The most important thing to note about Mel is that he was a priest prior to the institution of Israel's covenanted law. Therefore, since Bible law isn't retroactive-- viz: doesn't have ex post facto jurisdiction (Deut 5:2-4, Gal 3:17) --then Mel's constituents weren't obligated to comply with the Commandments; ergo: the Commandments cannot be used to prosecute them in heaven's court of law (cf. Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13).

This rather outstanding advantage carries over to Christ's constituents too because the Lord's priesthood is patterned after Mel's. (Ps 110:4, Heb 5:4-6)

Another thing to note about Mel's priesthood is that according to the letter to Hebrews; it's a high-priest priesthood; which means that only one man at a time can hold the office.

That right there totally invalidates Mormonism's order of Melchizedek. It also invalidates Mormonism's Aaronic order too because Aaron's is also a high-priest priesthood. In other words: the high priest's priesthood doesn't consist of a panel of priests like the nine justices comprising the US Supreme Court. No, the high-priest's priesthood is a one-man show.

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Sa:ji:sdo:de
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297) 1Tim 2:11 . . Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.

The koiné Greek word for "quietly" is hesuchia (hay-soo-khee'-ah) which mean: stillness; viz : desistance from bustle or language.

The submissiveness Paul is talking about is not abject servitude; but rather, deference to male primogeniture.

298) 1Tim 2:12-15 . . I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.

In the "my" church of Matt 16:18, male Christians are the gender designated to captain the ships; not the females. I pity a church supervised by female managers and pastors. Why? Because it tells me that Christ is not active in that church providing it with the tools the congregation needs in order to serve him faithfully, loyally, and effectively. The men in that church need to lift up holy hands and pray that Christ send them males to replace the females; and if not, then the men should evacuate-- now! --while they can.

299) 1Tim 2:15 . . Women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

In other words, it isn't necessary for women to be pastors and teachers in order to serve Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively. Homemaking is just as high a calling as any in church.

Can a female church manager or a pastor; continue in faith, love, and sanctity with self-restraint? In point of fact, it is a non sequitur to say a female church manager or pastor continues in faith. If she did, she would be neither a church manager nor a pastor. This is precisely why God rejected Cain's offering: it wasn't offered in faith. (Gen 4:7, Heb 11:4)

300) 1Tim 3:2a . . An overseer, then, must be above reproach

The koiné Greek word for "overseer" is episkopos (ep-is'-kop-os) which means: a superintendent; viz: a church's highest officer-- the senior pastor.

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

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

Why must pastors be above reproach? Because the work they do is a "good" work (1Tim 3:1) but much good can be ruined by even a little wickedness.

†. Ecc 10:1 . . Dead insects will cause even a bottle of perfume to stink! Yes, an ounce of foolishness can outweigh a pound of wisdom and honor.

Before the wonders of modern chemistry, perfumes were made (and many still are) from animal and vegetable sources. Those, being 100% organic in a time when chemical preservatives didn't exists, could spoil if the perfumer wasn't careful to keep his product protected from exposure to temperature, insects, dirt, moisture, and other contaminants. All the skills and patience and knowledge exercised in the making of expensive ointments could be completely annulled by simply forgetting to put the cap (or the cork; whatever) back on a jar.

Anyway, Ecc 10:1 certainly rings true in this day and age as the Roman Catholic Church's credibility steadily diminishes because of its ongoing pedophilia scandals and the hierarchy's deplorable cover-ups.

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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by Sa:ji:sdo:de:
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285) 1Ths 5:27 . . I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.

None of the epistles are "eyes only" for the big shots in church. All church members are supposed to have access to them, and expected to know what's in them. How else are they to evaluate everything carefully, and hold fast to that which is good, and abstain from every form of evil if they aren't given access to the epistles?

The gospel conveys sinners into the family of God, while the epistles instruct the family how to behave as family members; so you can see that the epistles have a very important role in the lives of believers.

†. 1Tim 3:14-15 . . I am writing these things to you now-- even though I hope to be with you soon --so that if I can't come for a while, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God.

286) 2Ths 2:1-2 . . Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, that the day of Christ is at hand.

The "day of Christ" can be defined as all that terrible stuff that's to take place in the book of Revelation. Paul is saying that Christ's followers need not be nervous about it because they are slated to be spared all of that.

†. 1Thes 1:10 . .Wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.

†. 1Thes 5:9-10 . . For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him

287) 2Ths 2:3-4 . . Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, presenting himself that he is God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

288) 2Ths 2:15 . . So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

The "traditions" to which Paul refers are in two categories: (1) word of mouth, and (2) in writing. Seeing as how Paul and his contemporaries are no longer available for personal appearances, then the only reliable traditions in existence are the ones they left us in writing; viz: their letters; those written by Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude.

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[rapture] [rapture] [rapture]

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That is all.....

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301) 1Tim 3:2b . . the husband of one wife

That directive is a bit ambiguous. Some feel it says a pastor can have only one wife at a time; viz: not a polygamist; while others feel it says he can be married only once in his lifetime; viz: not a widower or a divorced man.

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

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

302) 1Tim 3:2c . . temperate

The koiné Greek word for "temperate" can be either nephaleos (nay-fal'-eh-os); or nephalios (nay-fal'-ee-os) and means: sober. This kind of sobriety has nothing to do with alcohol rather it relates to an even-keeled personality: not overly silly, not overly excitable and not overly serious: right in the middle; viz: well-balanced.

303) 1Tim 3:2d . . prudent

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

304) 1Tim 3:2e . . respectable

The koiné Greek word for "respectable" is kosmios (kos'-mee-os) which means: orderly, viz: decorous.

Webster's defines decorous as marked by propriety; viz: correct; and exhibiting good taste in conduct, language, or appearance. A decorous person is-- among other things --neat, tidy, well-mannered, well-groomed, and polite. They bathe often too.

305) 1Tim 3:2f . . hospitable

The koiné word for "hospitable" is philoxenos (fil-ox'-en-os) which means: fond of guests. In other words, a pastor shouldn't be a hermit type, or a friendless loner who prefers solitude. Not that there's anything wrong with hermits and loners; it's just that pastors are supposed to be shepherds, which requires them to associate with their flock. A man who doesn't mingle easily and comfortably really should consider another line of work.

306) 1Tim 3:2g . . able to teach

Just because somebody has a head full of knowledge and wisdom doesn't mean they are able to teach it to others. Teaching is a skill that requires an aptitude; in point of fact, teaching Christ's sheep requires a supernatural aptitude; viz: a gift.

†. Rom 12:6-7 . . Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching

307) 1Tim 3:3a . . not addicted to wine

Pastors aren't forbidden alcohol; just too much alcohol.

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

A "little" wine can lead to a lot for someone with a predilection to over-imbibe. For people like that, it's best to avoid wine altogether rather than risk becoming a candidate for AA.

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308) 1Tim 3:3b . . not pugnacious

Webster's defines pugnacious as: militant, defensive, warlike, combative, confrontational, pushy, assertive, scrappy, and belligerent. Some men are natural-born bullies and others are ready to "take it outside" at every challenge. You sure don't want one of them in your pulpit. God forbid!

309) 1Tim 3:3c . . gentle, non contentious

A good pastor isn't what might be called shrinking; but rather, he's an affable, courageous man who selects his conflicts carefully. For some people, every disagreement is an act of war: they're assertive, reactive, defensive, and confrontational not just some of the time; but all the time. A gentle man is not so quick to draw his guns at the slightest provocation. However, though shepherds walk softly so as not to frighten the sheep; at the same time; they carry a big stick.

310) 1Tim 3:3d . . free from the love of money.

L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, started out as an author of pulp fiction novels for a penny per word. One day he came to the conclusion that the real money was in religion, especially if it had a non-profit tax exemption. Well; today, the net worth just the top three of Scientology's upwards of thirty entities-- Scientology International, the Flag Service Organization, and the Church Of Spiritual Technology --is in the neighborhood of 1.5 billion dollars. The personal net worth of David Miscavige, Scientology's current head, is rumored to be somewhere around 50 million. It's very curious how a supposedly non-profit church, and it's head, amassed such fortunes.

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

I would highly recommend that a prospective pastor's background be checked before proceeding with the interview process. Is his credit good? Does he have gambling debts? Does he prefer gourmet foods and restaurants? Does he wear Armani suits, hand-made shoes, a Cartier wrist watch, and drive a Lexus? What's his current home worth? What part of town does he live in? . . because, unfortunately, there are men out there seeking careers in the business of religion, and are very good at finding ways to get their fingers in a church's treasury-- and not a few are looking for lucrative wage and benefit packages instead of an opportunity to serve Christ faithfully, loyally, effectively' and look out for his best interests instead of their own.

311) 1Tim 3:4-5 . . He must manage his own family well, and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)

There's respect, and then there's "proper" respect which has to be nurtured because a father cannot get proper respect by force. Tyranny doesn't earn respect; it earns fear, suspicion, mistrust, and dread. Instilling fear into the hearts of one's children is sure to backfire some day when they're older.

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

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

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

312) 1Tim 3:6 . . He must not be a novice, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the Devil.

A novice doesn't have enough spiritual experience under his belt to shepherd Christ's people. Youngsters coming out of seminaries these days think they're ready to take the reins? They haven't a clue.

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

There's nothing wrong with a healthy self-image; but a conceited person is above and beyond; actually to the point of narcissism. They're infected with unbearable superiority complexes. But let me tell those fat heads something: the world was getting by just fine before you came along, and it will get by just fine after you're gone. Don't even think for a minute that you can't be replaced.

A serious side effect of conceit is self reliance. In other words: it's possible to think of one's self as so competent, and so in with God, that they take His providence for granted; or worse, unnecessary.

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313) 1Tim 3:7 . . He must also have a good reputation with outsiders

Paul lists that qualification as a must rather than an option. You know; that's all a church needs is to install a new pastor only to find out later he's the classic neighbor from Hell. Your new pastor might be a one-eyed Jack in church, but the kids on his street, and the people whose property adjoins his, the post man, the convenience store, the gas station, the super market, the department store, the drive-up at McDonald's, the trick-or-treaters, the bank, the paperboy, etc, have all seen the other side of his face. It had better match the one he's shown you or your church's overall influence in the community will be in the tank; and you will have a man in the pulpit whom Christ does not approve, and with whom he does not care to associate.

314) 1Tim 3:8-9 . . Deacons likewise must be men of dignity; etc, etc.

That's another must.

The koiné Greek word for "deacons" is diakonos (dee-ak'-on-os) which means: an attendant, i.e. (genitive case) a waiter (at table or in other menial duties). A deacon's duties and responsibilities are typically lower on the glamour scale than pastors and associate pastors.

Deacons are supposed to serve as the pastors' go-fers; viz: his support.

315) 1Tim 3:10 . . And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.

The very same interview process and background checks utilized in pastor selection is supposed to be applied to deacons. Paul cautioned his friend to "lay hands on no man suddenly" in other words; avoid being too hasty in appointing support staff.

316) 1Tim 3:11 . . Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.

Yes, there are female deacons and it's perfectly alright just so long as they accept the fact that they are in no way exempt from 1Cor 14:33-35, 1Tim 2:9-10, 1Tim 2:12-15, and 1Tim 3:10.

The koiné Greek word for "malicious gossips" is diabolos (dee-ab'-ol-os) which means: a traducer; which Webster's defines as someone who exposes others to shame or blame by means of falsehood and/or misrepresentation.

Deaconesses are in a position to become privy to some sensitive information about their church and its members. It would be a serious violation of trust to blab about those things to people for whom those things are none of their business. We expect baby sitters to be mum about things that they see in our homes. Shouldn't the congregation have a right to expect as much from deaconesses?

317) 1Tim 3:12-13 . . Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.

Qualifications for deacons are very similar to those for the pastors they serve. (cf. 1Tim 3:2, 1Tim 3:4-6)

318) 1Tim 4:7 . . Have nothing to do with the worldly fantasies of withered old women.

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

The USA's indigenous cultural traditions would be a good example of this. When a Native American becomes a Christian, the Bible's God expects them to disown portions of their spiritual heritage, and let them go; not entirely of course; but certain elements like praying to the spirits of one's deceased ancestors would have to be scrubbed for sure.

This is a very sensitive issue and one where non-native Christians, unschooled in Indigenous culture, seriously need to tread lightly. The White Man's early attempts to completely wipe out everything Native American was a terrible mistake that today's non-native Christians have got to be extra careful not to repeat.

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319) 1Tim 4:7-8 . .Train yourself to be pious. For physical training is of some value, but piety has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Physical training like baseball practice makes a player like Derek Jeter a whiz at short stop. While his mind is deciding what best to do with the ball, his body's reflexes automatically carry out its decision without Derek having to think about it. That comes from conditioning. But Jeter's baseball ability is only good for when he's playing baseball, not for everything he does in life; while piety moderates everything, including one's conduct on the playing field.

320) 1Tim 4:11 . . Command and teach these things.

I believe Paul was referring to everything he wrote in his letter; not just the last few verses.

321) 1Tim 4:12 . . Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

There is nothing a young-ish pastor can do to stop some members of his congregation from despising him for being younger than they are, but there is plenty he can do to prevent their attitude from dictating the spirit of his ministry. Like a man once said: You can please some of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time. So then, please Christ, and leave the attitude adjustments to the Almighty.

322) 1Tim 4:14 . . Focus upon the public reading of scripture, and to preaching and teaching.

Had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. complied with that directive instead of getting involved in politics; he might still be alive today.

There are scholars who specialize in debunking cults and isms; for example Walter Martin, whose excellent work "The Kingdom Of The Cults" should be in every Christian's library. However, it is not a pastor's responsibility to debunk cults and isms nor is it in the best interests of his congregation for him to do so. His responsibility is to ensure the scriptures are read aloud, and that preaching and teaching are the norm because by doing so, his flock will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Bible's God. (cf. Eph 4:11-16)

Public reading was necessary because of the scarcity of Bibles in those days. All of them were hand-written, and none were mass-produced like now.

Scripture in those days would have been pretty much limited to the Old Testament since the New Testament's canon had not yet been compiled. The Old Testament is very important because it is impossible for believers to obtain a full understanding of the Lord's mission and purpose without a comprehensive knowledge of the Old Testament.

†. Luke 24:44-45 . . And he said unto them, These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.

†. 2Tim 3:15-17 . . The holy scriptures are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

†. Rom 15:4 . . For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

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323) 1Tim 4:15-16 . . Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

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

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

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

324) 1Tim 5:1a . . When speaking to an older man, appeal to him respectfully as though he were your own father.

There's probably nothing more humiliating to a parent than to be treated like dirt by their children-- except maybe to be treated like dirt by a spouse.

Americans have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. Well, a child is not a parent's peer; he's not even the parent's equal let alone his peer. Parents are not children's peers; no, parents are their betters, not their equals. It's a thoughtless, wicked, insolent dunce who treats their parents with no more respect than one of their college beer buddies.

I was in a Sunday school class one morning where a young fellow substituted for the regular teacher. After practically every sentence during his lecture, the fellow would pause, tighten his lips, turn down the corners of his mouth, squint his eyes into narrow slits, and look around the room with a judgmental attitude, and better than half that room was older than he was. I don't know about the rest of the group, but as a man easily twice his age; I deeply resented those reprimand-ish glares.

325) 1Tim 5:1b . .Speak to the younger men as you would to your own kin.

In this case, the "kin" would be sort of like a man's younger siblings; viz : his kid brothers. Young boys look up to their big brothers; who by all rights should be setting the example as role models that a growing boy can be proud of. Big brothers ought to be available too, and not treat their younger siblings as excess baggage and/or un-cool nerds and morons who are beneath their dignity to be seen with.

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326) 1Tim 5:2 . . Speak to the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

The koiné Greek word for "purity" is hagneia (hag-ni'-ah) which means: cleanliness; viz: chastity

Webster's defines "chastity" as: abstention from unlawful sexual intercourse and/or purity in conduct and intention

Pastors are in an advantageous position for meeting women; thus opportunities for trysts abound; as the news media often attests. That's just what every church needs is a pastor who uses his position as a means to cruise chicks isn't it? According to 1Tim 5:2, a man who does that is, in all practicality, an incestuous older brother.

Speaking to older women as mothers means doing so in deference to the fourth of the Ten Commandments. Is there benefit to a pastor who keeps a civil tongue in his head and respects the feelings of the older women in his congregation? Yes.

†. Eph 6:1-3 . . Honor your father and mother-- which is the first of the commandments that contains a promise; which is: that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

There's really not much that's more hurtful to a mother than an insolent child.

327) 1Tim 5:3-4 . . Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, her kin should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.

A widow in real need would be one who is unable to work and has no one of her own to look out after her. Here in modern America that situation isn't nearly as serious as it is in third world countries where there are no government assistance programs for senior citizens. So you can see that in those circumstances a widow's church may be the only thing between her and grinding poverty.

A widow's Christian offspring have a sacred obligation to provide for their aging ancestors.

†. 1Tim 5:8 . .Those who won't care for their own kin, especially those living in the same household, have disregarded what we believe. Such people are worse than infidels.

328) 1Tim 5:5-7 . .The widow who is really in need, and left all alone, puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.

The New Testament Greek word for "pleasure" means voluptuous; which Webster's defines as luxury and/or sensual gratification.

People who live only for the best that life has to offer generally regard religion as a ball and chain holding them back from living their lives to the fullest. Well; not everyone has access to either the means or the wherewithal to live life to the fullest. For some, life offers no options other than a tin shack, a dirt floor, and a bowl of white rice; if that.

Paul says to decline widows whose goal is to satisfy their appetite for the best that life has to offer. As it's said that one cannot serve God and money, well neither can one serve God and one's inherent cravings. True, you can't stop yourself from having cravings for the best that life has to offer; but you can choose whether to let them be the dominant force in your life.

†. Mark 4:18-19 . . Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the concerns of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

329) 1Tim 5:9-10 . . No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

There are unprincipled individuals out there who love nothing better than taking advantage of a church's good nature, and its desire to be helpful. Following Paul's directive is a good way to avoid being victimized by one of them. (cf. Ruth 2:11)

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330) 1Tim 5:11-12 . . As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.

The words "sensual desires" are translated from a Greek word that means voluptuous against. In other words; their craving for the good things in life will outweigh any importance that they might put upon serving Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively.

The koiné Greek word for "widow" in this section is chera (khay'-rah) which doesn't necessarily indicate a woman whose husband died. It simply indicates a woman that's lost her man; by either by divorce or death; viz: a grass widow.

The "first pledge" is a woman's wedding vows. If a married Christian woman doesn't want to live with her husband anymore; fine: don't. But if she divorces her husband in order to take up with a man she likes better; that's not fine; no, that's totally wrong.

331) 1Tim 5:14 . . So I will that younger widows marry, have children, manage their homes, and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.

That almost seems to contradict a previous verse condemning young widows for remarrying; but in this case, it's assumed she hasn't broken her first pledge; viz : she has a legitimate right to remarry.

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

Dr. Laura Schlesinger used to tell her divorced female callers to forget about even so much as dating till their children are at least 18. Well, that's easy for Laura to say because she's a tomboy, but real women are going to find that restriction unbearable; and besides, Paul's instructions are Christ's rules for Christian women, not Laura's rules.

†. 1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.

Unattached ex-wives need to think rationally and objectively about their future; and ask themselves: Can I really live out the rest of my life without a man to share it? Can I bear up without a nervous break-down and/or turning to alcohol, Prozac, and overeating? Will I become irritable and difficult, and/or a chronic man-hater like aunt Lucy? Have to be brutally honest here because this is pretty serious stuff.

†. 1Cor 7:8-9 . . Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Another danger of an ex-wife going too long without a man is immorality. Desire, loneliness, and longings for appreciation, have a way of building up to unbearable levels in people who live by themselves and just about that time, along comes a really great somebody who maybe breaks down their defenses and gets a little too chummy. That can be a difficult moment. It's for this very reason that Paul discouraged couples from avoiding each other for too long a time.

†. 1 Cor 7:2 . . To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

†. 1Cor 7:4-6 . . Do not deprive each other of intimacy. The only exception to this rule would be the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from intimacy for a limited time, so they can give themselves more completely to prayer. Afterward they should come together again so that Satan won't be able to tempt them because of their lack of self-control.

They say a man has his needs. Well; a woman has her needs too. Let's not forget that.

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332) 1 Tim 5:16 . . If any believing man or woman have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

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

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

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

333) 1Tim 5:17-18 . .The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the scripture says: "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain" and "The laborer is worthy of his hire."

The koiné Greek word for "elder" is presbuteros (pres-boo'-ter-os). It corresponds to aldermen; which Webster's defines as: members of a legislative body. In other words; elders enact and enforce the proprietary rules and bylaws that govern everybody in a local church; including its pastor. In some churches those rules and bylaws are called a covenant; which new members have to accept. The aldermen are also responsible for settling disputes between church members (1Cor 6:1-5) so that they correspond to "the church" the Lord spoke of at Matt 18:15-18.

Aldermen aren't peculiar to Christianity. Councils pre-existed amongst Yhvh's people prior to Moses' commission (Ex 3:16). Anon, seventy of Israel's elders were established by God as a supreme council (Num 11:16-17). One's failure to submit to their church's aldermen is grounds for removing their name from the role. (Matt 18:15-18)

Since Christian aldermen sometimes wear more than one hat as preachers and teachers; then it's very possible in a large church for them to have time for nothing else, like for instance holding down a job. For that reason, their constituents should try and compensate them with a decent standard of living. I mean, after all, if their service to a local church is invaluable, then by all means the congregation should do whatever it takes to keep them on staff where they can devote all of their time and energy towards governing (that is; if you feel your church is a worthwhile endeavor).

Let's say for example, that one of your church's aldermen is a retiree trying to survive on Social Security and a diminished 401K. He'll be a lot more effective towards your church's good if the congregation, whatever its size, pitches in to help him make ends meet; and the outside world surely won't blame your church for doing so unless of course they're as callous towards the needs of a senior citizen as the bottom of a soldier's boot.

But beware that the congregation doesn't overcompensate its aldermen to the point where they can afford to drive a Cadillac Escalade, wear a Rolex, and own an expensive home in an up-scale district. That will really make Christianity look bad, and actually work against Christ's best interests.

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334) 1Tim 5:19 . . Do not accept an accusation against an elder except before two or three witnesses.

It isn't required that two or three witnesses accuse the elder, but that an accuser do so in the hearing of two or three witnesses. The witnesses are not there to testify against the elder; no, they are there to testify against the accuser in the event it's discovered that he's the perpetrator of a slander.

In the event an accuser's accusations prove false, then Israel's covenanted law requires that they be punished with the very punishment that they wished for the victim of their slander (Deut 19:16-21). In a Christian environment; I should think it wise to at least ostracize, and/or excommunicate the slanderer because nobody's reputation is safe in the hands of someone like that.

†. 1Cor 5:11-13 . . I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is a slanderer. With such a man do not even eat. Expel the wicked man from among you.

335) 1Tim 5:20 . .Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Once it's discovered that an accuser's allegations are libelous, then it's time to get up in front of the entire congregation and expose him for the cheap goods he really is. This is where the testimony of the aforementioned two or three witnesses comes into play.

A roast of this nature can be a very humiliating experience for a church member, and when the others see how it goes, they'll think twice before making spurious allegations against aldermen.

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

336) 1Tim 5:21 . . I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

I seriously doubt that very many modern Christian churches are following Paul's instructions in regards to spurious accusations against elders. They probably find it much easier to just gloss over issues rather than comply with the mandated procedure for roasting and expelling. (as if any of this is ever optional)

Another thing that modern churches are very good at these days is covering up an elder's indiscretions when what they really deserve is a public hanging, so to speak. Happens all the time.

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

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

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337) 1Tim 5:22 . . Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily

That ruling seems primarily concerned with the avoidance of fast-tracking candidates for aldermen, senior pastors, associate pastors, deacons, and deaconesses; in other words: church officials; whether high ranking or low ranking.

338) 1Tim 5:23 . . No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

In the days prior to the proliferation of antiseptics, antibiotics, inoculations, and a host of other mass-produced treatments; wine was an important remedy for just about everything from indigestion to open wounds. (e.g. Mark 15:23, and Luke 10:34)

Medicine has come a long ways in the last 2,000 years so that even if a little wine would still help whatever ailed Timothy's tummy, there's probably much better over-the-counter, non-alcoholic remedies available for his condition in our day.

Paul mentioned that his friend had other problems too. I have no clue what those might have been; but I have to ask: Why didn't Paul utilize his apostolic gift of healing to cure his friend? My answer is: probably because Timothy's problems didn’t require a miracle. For example Mark 16:13 where Christ' men utilized oil to treat certain people rather than miracles. In other words: when First Aid will do, surgery is unnecessary.

I think that Timothy simply wasn't taking proper care of himself and/or getting enough rest. His diet may have been inadequate too. The old adage-- God helps those who help themselves --is very true in some cases. My view is: if you can fix your own flat tire, then don't expect God to fix it for you. Like when a farmer prays for a good crop, he really needs to say amen with a hoe.

What else might be taken from 1Tim 5:23? Well; I would say do NOT rely upon so-called faith healing. Too many children are being lost these days to treatable conditions because their parents are putting so much trust in their church's interpretation of passages like Jas 5:14-15. If Paul recommended a remedy for Timothy's tummy; don't you think he would recommend a remedy for your child's treatable condition? Yes; of course he would. In many, many cases; people don't need a miracle; they just need a doctor.

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339) 1Tim 6:1-2 . . Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against. And let those who have believers as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved.

I've heard that Masons practice favoritism; but Christians should never impose upon a fellow believer in that manner. Give your Christian employer the respect and subordination due his position; and give him a full day's work for a full days' pay. People are watching, and they pick up on things like disparity.

340) 1Tim 6:2 . .Teach and preach these principles.

Pastors should ensure their congregations are taught these things even when they don't care to hear them; and should never let the indifference of their flocks smother the voice of God.

†. 2Tim 4:1-2 . . I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus-- who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom --preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but desiring to have their ears massaged, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own longings; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to fiction.

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

341) 1 Tim 6:3-6 . . If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness; he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved minds and deprived of the truth.

Some day, just out of curiosity, peruse the discussions taking place on a variety of internet Christian forums. What will you see? You will see a morbid interest in controversial questions; and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction. Forums are the armpit of Christianity and cesspools of apostasy, heresy, humanistic theories, and universalism where the attitude is: nobody's going to Hell; and everyone's a Christian if they say so.

342) 1Tim 6:8 . . And having food and raiment let us be content therewith.

The koiné Greek word for content is sometimes translated "sufficient". In other words, when good is adequate, better isn't necessary. Good is easier on your budget than better too.

Madison Avenue's mad men make their living by convincing consumers that better is always to be preferred. No, it isn't. You can easily get by on something that's less than best. Technophiles especially are constantly falling victim to new upgrades of electronic products. I remember when Apple's second generation iPhone was introduced, techies lined up for blocks to get one even though their first iPhones were still working just fine! Now it's the iPhone seven and people with the six can hardly wait to get one though they could easily make do with the phone they arlready have.

†. 1Tim 6:6 . . Piety with contentment is great gain.

The desire to have more than enough and/or to have better, is a mark of covetousness; which the Bible's Christ listed right up there with evil thoughts, adultery, fornication, murder, theft, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, and blaspheme. (Mark 7:21-23)

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343) 1Tim 6:11 . . But you-- O man of God --flee these things and pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.

The koiné Greek word for "flee" is pheugo (fyoo'-go) which means: not to walk away; but rather, to run away; as if for your life.

Q: What is a man of God?

A: Men of God are typically inspired individuals; for example: Moses was a man of God (Deut 33:1) and David was a man of God (Neh 12:24). Numerous passages in the Old Testament identify men of God as prophets. In that respect; Abraham was a man of God (Gen 20:7) and a whole bunch of other people too, including women; e.g. Miriam (Ex 15:20) Deborah (Judg 4:4) Asahiah (2Kgs 22:14) and Huldah (2Chrn 24:32).

Obviously then, if your pastor isn't an inspired man; then he isn't a man of God. He's just another church manager on a career path.

344) 1Tim 6:12a . . Fight the good fight of the faith.

The first koine Greek word for "fight" in that verse is agonizomai (ag-o-nid'-zom-ahee) which means: to struggle; literally to compete for a prize. This is the kind of conflict played out in competitive sports.

The second word for "fight" is agon (ag-one') which means: a place of assembly; viz: the field of completion; e.g. arenas, coliseums, and/or stadiums.

The object of a Christian's struggle is not so much conquest, but rather, a prize. In Paul's day athletes won wreaths. In our day, they win medals and lucrative contracts for product endorsements.

†. 1Cor 9:24-26 . . Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

In Paul's day, there were no second-place winners; only first. When the competition is that fierce, athletes really go all out. So Paul is saying that Christians should battle for their reward as if there were only one gold to go around; in other words; really put their hearts into it.

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

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

Probably most of us rank and file believers aren't going to win anything, but at least we're assured of making it to safety.

†. 1Cor 3:12-15 . . If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; though he himself will be spared, but only as one escaping through the flames.

The picture there is of redeemed believers leaving this life with absolutely nothing to their credit that honored Christ. It's like a family suddenly wakened in the middle of the night with their house so badly on fire that there is scarcely enough time for them to exit the building. Their entire life's collection of mementoes, furniture, paintings, valuables, photographs, clothing, and such, go up in smoke and they escape with nothing but their lives and the clothes they wore to bed. Their persons are spared, but everything else is ruined; hence: "he himself will be spared".

Some Christians see in 1Cor 3:12-15 proof of a Purgatory; but a place of temporary suffering and misery isn't even remotely consistent with either the activity or the purpose depicted in 1Cor 3:12-15.

Purgatory can be roughly defined as a place, or condition, of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are not entirely free from venial faults and/or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.

An additional purpose assigned to Purgatory is for teaching the offender a lesson, e.g. David (2Sam 11:1-12:14) where he was fully absolved of the heinous sins of premeditated adultery and murder, but still had to go to the wood shed for what he did (cf. Heb 12:5-11). Absolution and punishment may seem strange bed fellows; but not so when you regard one as related to criminal justice, and the other as related to discipline; which Webster's defines as: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

But does that sound anything like what Paul wrote about in 1Cor 3:12-15? No, he wrote of works and rewards; not of venial faults, punishment, discipline, fully paying the satisfaction due one's transgressions; and so forth. And besides. Paul said that "he" doesn't undergo flame; his works do. In other words; that depicts very much the way gold ore is assayed to determine whether the metal in it is real gold or fool's gold. They don't put the miner of the ore in a crucible; no, just the ore the miner brought in; viz: that which was the result of his labor.

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345) 1Tim 6:12b . .Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good profession in the presence of many witnesses.

Note the grammatical tense of the "have" verb in the passages below. It's in the present tense; not future; indicating that Christ's believing followers have eternal life right now-- no delay, and no waiting period.

†. John 3:36 . . He who believes in the Son has eternal life

†. John 6:47 . .Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

†. John 5:24 . . I assure you, those who heed my message and trust in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from Death into Life.

†. 1John 5:13 . . I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

In addition, believers who correctly ingest the Lord's flesh, and correctly imbibe his blood, are also in the right-now possession of eternal life.

†. John 6:53 . .Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life

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

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

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

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

†. Rom 8:13 . . If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live

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

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

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346) 1Tim 6:13-14 . . I charge you in the sight of God-- who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession --to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, we have to ask the question: How did Paul know what went on between Christ and Pilate? Was Paul there? Were any of the apostles there? No.

Paul got his version of the gospel directly from Christ. (Gal 1:11-12)

The koiné Greek word for "commandment" in that passage is entole (en-tol-ay') which means: an injunction, i.e. an authoritative prescription. It's difficult to tell if Paul had a specific instruction in mind or if he intended Timothy to accept his entire epistle as the law of Christ. If the latter is the case, then the NLT's version is the better one; which reads like this:

"And I command you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey his commands with all purity. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ returns."

The NLT's version encompasses all of Christ's wishes, which up to this point has totaled 346; with more to come.

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

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

347) 1Tim 6:17-19 . . Command those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Command them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Webster's defines "conceit" as an excessive appreciation of one's own worth and/or virtue. It's is all too common for the rich and famous to exhibit a masters-of-the-universe demeanor and regard commoners as not just below themselves; but existing solely to expedite their own selfish ambitions; viz: the haulers-of-water, and the hewers-of-wood; so to speak.

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

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348) 1Tim 6:20a . .Turn away from impious chatter

This probably refers to sophistry, which Webster's defines as the use of reasoning or arguments that sound correct but are actually false and/or subtly deceptive.

This isn't the first time that Paul warned about unholy rhetoric. The same alert was sounded at Eph 4:11-14 where Paul describes people whose line of bull sounds very convincing but is nevertheless quite unreliable.

349) 1Tim 6:20b . . and the opposition of science-- falsely so-called.

Galileo believed that science and religion are allies rather than enemies-- two different languages telling the same story. But the category of "science - falsely so-called" is not the kind of science Galileo was talking about. Theoretical physics, theoretical cosmology, theoretical chemistry, theoretical anthropology, conjecture, and speculation etc; are entertaining, but not yet proven to be true and reliable. People throw that kind of science up to Christians all the time as if it's been tested and proven when it's anything but.

Another thing to take into consideration is that scientific results are provisional; viz: susceptible to being overturned by some future experiment or observation. Scientists rarely proclaim an absolute truth or an absolute certainty. Uncertainty is inevitable at the frontiers of knowledge. (Joel Achenbach, National Geographic Magazine, March 2015)

350) 2Tim 1:8a . .Do not be ashamed of our Master's testimony

Everything the Lord ever taught is "testimony" that is; all of his teachings, preaching, comments, remarks, and lectures can be used as evidence either by the defense to get people into Heaven, or by the prosecution to put people behind the bars of Hell.

†. John 12:48 . . He who rejects me, and does not receive my sayings, has one who judges him: the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

How is it that Jesus' words are evidence? Answer: Because he never spoke for himself; no, he was an ambassador who spoke for a superior.

†. John 8:26 . . He that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him.

†. John 8:28 . . I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught me.

†. John 12:49 . . I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

†. John 14:24 . .The word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me.

Timothy was ordained a minister by the laying on of Paul's own hands (2Tim 1:6). At that moment, Timothy became an ambassador for Christ. So then, he became responsible to speak for Christ just as Christ was responsible to speak for God.

†. 1Pet 4:11 . . If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God

That is a very heavy responsibility, and anybody who tones down their message out of insecurity and/or fear of humiliation, mortification, loss of popularity, loss of cooperation, and/or loss of face, or whatever, is going to regret it. If a speaker cannot speak as God and for God; then it would be wise if that speaker didn't speak at all.

†. Jas 3:1 . . Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

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351) 2Tim 1:8b . . Join with me in suffering for the Gospel

Suffering for the Gospel doesn't necessarily include martyrdom. The more common forms of suffering are privation, humiliation, threats, hunger, loss of friends and family, ostracizing, ridicule, mockery, harsh criticism, judgmental remarks, insults, intimidation, name calling, demeaning comments, ugly insinuations, slander, teasing, harassment, bullying, unfairness, prejudice, intolerance, disassociation, and betrayal; in other words, the kinds of stuff that really get you right down in the gut.

Suffering because of the Gospel is, believe it or not, a sacred gratuity.

†. Php 1:29 . . For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.

†. John 15:20-21 . . Remember the word that I said unto you? the servant is not greater than his lord? If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not Him that sent me.

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

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

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

352) 2Tim 1:13 . . Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me.

The koiné Greek word for "hold fast" is echo (ekh'-o) which means: to clutch, cling, or adhere to.

The word for "pattern" is hupotuposis (hoop-ot-oop'-o-sis) which means: a sketch; viz : a blueprint and/or a schematic diagram.

When Noah was commissioned to build the ark, he wasn't left to his own imagination. God micro-managed construction right from the start. And when Moses was tasked to fabricate articles of worship, he too was micro managed; in other words, Moses and Noah both made everything according to specs; viz: Christianity is no more a man-invented religion than Israel's covenanted law. Both are God-given religions; and God wishes neither left to one's own imagination.

Putting this in construction-speak: if the blueprint calls for welding, and the builder substitutes bolting, he'll have to do it over. If the blueprints call for oak panels, and the builder substitutes pine, he'll have to do it over; and do it right the next time or be rejected again. Practically nothing is manufactured without first planning it out on a drawing. Sometimes drawings are created on the fly. I've had plans handed to me that were nothing in the world but a free-hand sketch on a piece of scrap paper; while others were gorgeous, finely-detailed computer-assisted drawings. Either way, CAD or free-hand, I was expected to follow specifications to the letter and not take it upon myself to revise the engineers' instructions without their consent.

What this boils down to is: modern churches have been handed down from Paul a God-given pattern for their operations. When they depart from His pattern, then they are no longer serving Christ; rather, serving their own ideas and following their own ambitions.

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353) 2Tim 1:14 . . With the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us; carefully guard what has been entrusted to you.

To put this in construction-speak again: it was Timothy's responsibility as a project supervisor to ensure no unauthorized person changed anything on the original plans without his knowledge and especially without first obtaining approval from the designer-- viz: Christ --and the Holy Spirit is the duly assigned quality-control specialist; or the White Hat as we used to call them. Nobody messes with the White Hat. Like the captain of a ship, the White Hat is God to everyone involved in production: from the top down,

354) 2Tim 2:2 . . And the things you have heard me say (in the presence of many witnesses) entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

Paul's instructions were given to Timothy "in the presence of many witnesses" indicating that his instructions were never intended to be privileged information for the eyes-only of an elite category of super saints. The things he taught were transferred publicly rather than deep inside a secret chamber whose access was restricted to a special clique.

I also suspect that Paul sand-bagged Timothy. By instructing him in the hearing of witnesses, Timothy could never fall back on the tiresome old excuse of saying "I didn't know I was supposed to do that." Well, witnesses would certainly testify that he did know what he was supposed to do because they themselves heard Paul instruct him with their own ears.

It's a wise church that fully understands a pastor's duties, attitudes, and responsibilities just in case a time comes when they need to hold his feet to the fire; especially a complacent pastor. If a church doesn't know what a pastor's duties, attitudes, and responsibilities are, then there's no way they can know whether or not they're getting their money's worth. In my opinion, an ignorant church is a private pond stocked with hatchery fish.

Paul's directive in this matter was also a practical consideration as nobody resides forever on this earthen globe. Pastors die; that's just a fact of life. And they also get diseases like dementia, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's. It's a wise pastor busy training his replacements so that all his knowledge and experience isn't lost to future church generations. Abraham was commended for this very thing.

†. Gen 18:18-20 . . For I have chosen Abraham, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of Yhvh.

A good example of the result of neglecting to train reliable men in "all the things you have heard me say" is the church of Laodicea described in Rev 3:14-20.

According to Col 2:1-2 and Col 4:13-16; the Laodicean Christians were at one time solid believers. But between the time of Paul's writing his letter to the Colossians, and John writing the 3rd chapter of Revelation, the congregation meeting in Nymphas' home somehow went dead. It was still Christian in name, yes; but it no longer followed Christ.

The Laodicean church had all the trappings of a Christian church; except for one salient feature: the Christ of Christianity wasn't even a member let alone the captain of its industry. It was literally a christless Christian church. He's depicted outside the building banging on the door trying to get somebody's attention to let him in. Not a single member of that church was one of his believing followers, not one; no, not even the senior pastor.

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355) 2Tim 2:3-7 . . Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-- he wants to please his commanding officer.

Combat soldiers are focused. They have but one solitary goal, and that's to accomplish their mission while doing their level best to stay alive. Soldiers dodging bullets, ducking shrapnel, and looking for trip wires, IED's, booby traps, and snipers, are not distracted by Wall Street, the real estate market, universal health care and/or the civil rights movement.

I truly believe that if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr had stayed in the pulpit and complied with Paul's directives as per the epistles of 1&2 Timothy instead of getting involved in politics, he could have served Christ and his sheep another thirty-five years instead of getting himself shot to death as a political activist when he was only 39 years old.

Was Dr. King a martyr? Well, if he was, it certainly wasn't for Christ. No, it was for his political agenda. Dr. King marginalized his pastoral responsibilities as per the epistles of 1&2 Timothy. He put duty to the color of his skin first, and duty to Christ second. That was a very bad move for a Christian pastor.

356) 2Tim 2:8 . . Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel

It may seem preposterous, beyond belief, and even impossible to comprehend; but there are literally millions of people wearing the Christian label who refuse to believe that Christ was a human being. They'll readily mouth that he was fully God and fully Man; but in reality they only believe he was fully God; in other words: a divine being only, rather than a divine being and a human being. Well, according to 2Tim 2:8 Christ does not wish to be remembered as a divine being.

On numerous occasions, Christ identified himself as "son of man" which literally means "son of Adam". That title was neither new nor unique in his day. God addressed the prophet Ezekiel as "son of man" on at least 93 occasions, and Daniel at least once. In every case, the Hebrew word for man is 'adam (aw-dawm') which is the proper name of the human race God created in the beginning. (Gen 1:26-27, Gen 3:9, Gen 5:2)

You would think that Christ's humanness would be a given in Christian circles; but no, it isn't. To this very day, people passing themselves off as his believing followers, and as beneficiaries of his crucifixion, still challenge his humanness. They're okay with him being God's progeny-- but David's progeny? No; that they won't allow.

†. Rom 1:3-4 . . who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh

Disbelief in Christ's humanness is due to the success of satanic influences.

†. 1John 4:2-4 . . By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

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357) 2Tim 2:14 . . Command them in God's name to stop quarrelling over trifles.

In a Sean Connery movie titled "The Name Of The Rose" church dignitaries assembled a meeting of the minds to reach a resolution on a theological question which was: Did the Christ own the clothes that he wore or not?

Well, needless to say, the discussion turned into bickering wherein nothing was resolved. Tempers flared, shouting ensued, feelings were hurt, and people were alienated over the issue-- a rather trifling issue; which is precisely what it means to fiddle while Rome burns down around you. Christians are often embroiled in arguments over things that in the grand scheme of things have almost zero importance while all around them are weightier issues needing attention.

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

358) 2Tim 2:15 . . Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Some folks construe rightly dividing the truth as a mandate to keep the Old Testament completely separate from the New. But that's not even close to what Paul is instructing.

Paul was a blue collar tradesman: he fabricated portable shelters for a living (Acts 18:3). The koiné Greek word for "rightly dividing" is orthotomeo (or-thot-om-eh'-o) which means: to make a straight cut as opposed to a crooked cut, or a cut that misses the line and yields a piece of material that's either too long, too short, or the wrong contour; thus resulting in a tent whose pieces won't join properly when it comes time to sew them together. The results? A distorted tent and a black mark for the craftsman.

The intent is not one of severing the Bible in half and treating each as a separate book; but to be accurate in its interpretations and applications so that the whole Bible fits together perfectly, like a well made armoire instead of a hastily constructed rabbit hutch.

Pastors who relegate the Old Testament to the status of a non-essential, are not yet journeyman Bible students; no, they're apprentices: they lack the skills necessary to piece the Bible all together and make everything fit; thus they're stalled at a rudimentary level.

359) 2Tim 2:16 . . Avoid worldly, empty chatter; for it will lead to further impiety.

What he's talking about there are bull sessions wherein people discussing the Bible haven't a clue what they're talking about. Their interpretations consist of sophistry, conjecture, theory, and personal opinions.

Some years ago I was invited to a home Bible study. Before considering his invitation; I asked the man if his group was led by a competent Bible teacher. He said "No; we don't have a teacher. The group teaches itself. In other words: we speak as the Spirit leads us to speak." I declined.

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360) 2Tim 2:19 . . Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.

The wickedness he's talking about in this particular instance regards quarrelling over trifles, unskilled use of the Bible; and sophistry, conjecture, speculation, theories, false science, and lines of bull that sound very convincing but are nevertheless quite untrustworthy.

361) 2Tim 2:22 . . Flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Hippies tried to obtain love and peace but failed because they could obtain neither except by means of promiscuity and mood-enhancing drugs like marijuana and LSD.

A "pure" heart is one that's unadulterated, in other words, it's not an amalgam of good and bad; viz: it's a heart that's whole-heartedly devoted to pleasing God rather than half-hearted.

Righteousness, Love, Peace, and Purity are all blessing-worthy attributes.

†. Matt 5:6 . . Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

†. Matt 5:7 . . Blessed are the compassionate

†. Matt 5:8 . . Blessed are the pure in heart

†. Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peaceable

According to the Lord's testimony as an expert witness in all matters pertaining to the hereafter, people whose personalities fail to exemplify those four beatitudes will neither see God, nor obtain sympathy from God, nor obtain a place around the table in God's home.

362) 2Tim 2:23 . . But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce debating.

The Lord doesn't forbid all speculation; only the kind that that's foolish and ignorant.

The koiné Greek word for "foolish" is moros (mo-ros') which means, essentially: unwise.

The koiné word for "ignorant" is apaideutos (ap-ah'-ee-dyoo-tos) which means: uneducated.

I seriously doubt that 2Tim 2:23 is addressing one's IQ, but rather, the propensity of some to shoot from the lip without really knowing what they're talking about. That's not a smart thing to do when one is supposed to be representing a master who says of himself "I am the truth". Well, ignorant speculation isn't truth, no, it's one's own personal opinion; and typically a subjective opinion based upon incomplete information.

363) 2Tim 2:24a . . And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome

Quarrelling is just the opposite of peacemaking. Sometimes it's best to follow Han Solo's advice and "let the Wookie win one". In other words; when one is wise; two are happy. Be the wise one and pick your fights carefully. Don't expend your energies on discussions that never seem to get to the bottom of anything. There's always going to be that one individual who will disagree with everything you say simply because they love to argue. I call them the "yes, but" people. Those kind refuse to believe that anybody really knows the truth; least of all you.

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364) 2Tim 2:24b-26 . . The Lord's bond-servant must . . be kind to all, apt to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them a change of heart leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the Devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

We're still talking about instructions for pastors rather than rank and file pew warmers.

What Paul spoke of there is a category of demon possession that gets very little press these days. It doesn't make people foam at the mouth nor fall on the ground quivering with spasms. It's a silent killer like high blood pressure. It can't be detected by scientific instruments like oscilloscopes, X-rays, CatScans, Sonograms, Echoes, or MRIs.

People don't usually get the creeps when demonic spirit beings are present because they have no effect upon human intuition, nor upon the five natural human senses of taste, touch, hearing, sight, and smell. Demonic spirit beings are covert-- ultra covert-- secrecy, silence, and invisibility are the keys to their success.

Anyway, what Paul is revealing is somewhat disturbing. He's saying that there are people in church, quite possibly your church, who have ideas in their heads that they think are their own ideas; but in reality those ideas have been skillfully implanted in their organic minds by supernatural means beyond our comprehension.

That kind of possession is socially acceptable because it's so common and widespread; and infects everyone regardless of race, age, or gender.

All believers, including Paul himself, were at one time manipulated by demonic spirit beings.

†. Eph 2:1-3 . . And you He made alive, who were at one time dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the kingdom of the air-- the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience --among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

From that passage, I know three facts about the current state of the world we live in.

1) Demonic spirit beings are all around us, in every situation; inhabiting the very air we breathe. Astronauts in the International Space Station have demonic spirit beings on board with them. Whenever the US Navy's nuclear submarines go out patrol, demonic spirit beings go out too because wherever there's people; there's going to be demonic spirit beings.

Demonic spirit beings are invasive and pervasive: they're in coal mines, subways, office buildings, barber shops, bedrooms, restaurants, elevators, waiting rooms, television studios-- and there are no known control measures. Demonic spirit beings are similar to geological forces of nature like earthquakes and volcanoes in that puny little humans are completely at their mercy.

(2) Those who have not yet been "made alive" constantly undergo demonic manipulation; and don't know it.

(3) Those who have not yet been "made alive" are in grave danger of the lake of fire depicted at Rev 20:11-15 because they are "by nature" children of wrath.

This is why Paul instructed his pal Timothy to "be kind to all, apt to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition." In other words; to treat those who opposed him as he would patients in a mental hospital who lack the faculties to know what they're doing and/or to think for themselves.

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365) 2Tim 3:12-15 . .You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The "sacred writings" upon which Timothy cut his teeth are of course the Old Testament's collection; which Paul affirms are useful to Christians.

†. Rom 15:4 . .Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction that we, through patience and the encouragement of the scriptures, might have hope.

NOTE: The Greek word for "hope" in that passage is elpis (el-pece') which means: to anticipate (usually with pleasure and confidence). In other words: elpis hope doesn't entail crossing your fingers and praying for the best while in the back of your mind dreading the worst. No; elpis hope entails having something to look forward to with the full, unreserved, expectation of obtaining it.

366) 2Tim 4:1-2 . . I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus-- who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom --preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Preaching and teaching are areas where pastors must take the reins. They can't wait until their boards take a vote on it. No, the pastor's vote is the only one that counts because left to themselves, congregations (and boards) are just like any other flock of dim-witted sheep: they're prone to wander.

†. 2Tim 4:3-4 . . For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears rubbed, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to fiction.

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

367) 2Tim 4:5a . . Be discreet

Webster's defines "discreet" as: using good judgment, caution, and prudence.

Human nature can be so inconsistent. Though most adults have fairly good judgment, they oftentimes do things that are contrary to their better judgment and make foolish choices (especially on Black Friday) because they don't always use their heads but instead yield to their feelings; and everybody knows that one's feelings, by and large, are mostly incoherent.

368) 2Tim 4:5b . . endure hardship

Some of the aspects of hardship are adversity, mischance, misfortune; danger, hazard, peril; affliction, trial, tribulation; drudgery, toil, travail; discomfort, and distress. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are a part of that too. Nobody really cares to sympathize with somebody when they're at the top of the food chain. Pastors comfort others, but who comforts the pastors? Hardly anybody; though maybe his wife; if she's the type.

The lives of Christ's pastors are not supposed to be a piece of cake. If they're doing their jobs in a way that pleases the Lord, pastors will have some struggles. Hardship comes with the turf; it's a given when Christ's pastors serve him faithfully and effectively. The reason being that a pastor is essentially a shepherd.

Well; according to Jacob, that job was a rough career path back in the day.

†. Gen 31:40 . .Thus I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.

Part of the reason that tending sheep was rough in Jacob's day is because a shepherd was essentially a security guard, constantly keeping an eye out for rustlers and predators. That part alone was a 24-7 task; not to mention monitoring the herd so none of them wandered off; as sheep are prone to do. It's no wonder Jacob lost a lot of sleep outside in the fields; and when you throw in exposure to the elements; a shepherd's life was really not one to be desired.

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369) 2Tim 4:5c . . do the work of an evangelist

The koiné Greek word for "evangelist" is euaggelistes (yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace') which means: a preacher of the gospel.

Here in America, we typically think of evangelists as guys like Billy Graham and Louis Palau. But according to Paul, pastors are supposed to be evangelists within the walls of their own churches rather than on the road.

My ex-Catholic wife begged and cajoled her Catholic father to accompany her to a Baptist church back in the 1970's before we met. On that particular Sunday, of all days, the pastor spoke about money; especially giving it to support his church and its programs. My father-in-law was disgusted, and commented afterwards: "Baptists are no different than Catholics; all they care about is money." He never went back. Had that pastor spoken about Christ instead of money, my father-in-law might have returned.

Services are the best venue for in-church evangelism because the public is more likely to visit those than Sunday school.

Paul described pastoral evangelism as: fulfilling their ministry. (2Tim 4:5d)

370) Titus 2:2 . . Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.

The koiné Greek word for "older men" is presbutes (pres-boo'-tace) which means: an old man. Presbutes is different than presbuteros, which refers to church officers; e.g. deacons (1Tim 5:17).

I used to get my watches serviced by an aging repairman at a local mall until the day finally came when I could no longer tolerate his manners. He was around seventy-five years old, cantankerous as can be, and perpetually cross. I often felt like asking him if he ever gave any thought to his future. You know, heaven is a place of peace. A hateful man like that repairman would not only never fit in there, but it wouldn't be fair to the others to permit him in their world.

"Cantankerous" can be defined as: habitually ill-humored, irritable, disagreeable, bearish, cankered, cranky, cross-grained, dour, morose, sour; crabby, cross, crusty, huffy, petulant, prickly, snappish; dyspeptic, ill-conditioned, thin-skinned, complaining, and ill-natured.

A Christian man in old age really ought to be a sweet, mellow guy: a pal and a big brother for the younger ones rather than somebody they'd prefer do the world a favor by stepping in front of a bus.

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

Traducers are particularly ugly human beings; especially the kind that misrepresent their own friends and say things about them that their friends would never approve; thus needlessly disparaging their friends' reputations save for the pure pleasure of gossip. Traducers aren't regular gossips, no, they're malicious gossips. Webster's defines malice as : a deep-seated, often unexplainable desire to see another suffer. In other words, traducers like to hurt people for no good reason other than that it feels good. One could hardly characterize malicious gossips as either good or discreet.

Too many women in America have been trained for marriage by feminism. Far from teaching younger women to respect their husbands, feminism teaches the younger women to stand up to their husbands; and rather than be keepers at home, feminism has them out seeking means to compete with men and break the so-called glass ceiling; and rather than love their children, feminism has them dominating their offspring in a home-life society structured on divisions of labor, command and control, tyranny, and regimentation. Those behaviors certainly can never be categorized as honoring the word of God.

The biggest road block to feminism-trained women becoming true disciples is the Lord's gender. You see, at the heart of women's hostility towards men is the drive to be independent of males. Yet the very lord and master of Christianity, the supreme male in the universe; demands death to a woman's self interests, and submission to His monarchy.

†. Luke 14:26 . . If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children brothers and sisters-- yes, more than your own life. And you cannot be my disciple if you do take up your own cross and follow me.

In the Lord's era, crosses were for executions. So when he told his disciples to "take up their own cross" it meant stifling their own way; viz: it was a call to abandon self interests, and comply with their Master's wishes.

†. Rom 12:1-2 . .Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- His good, pleasing and perfect will.

That mandate runs 180° counter to modern feminism's self-aggrandizing attitude that homemaking is oppressive and demeaning to women, and that respect for one's husband is somehow abusive; which is obviously an attitude that vilifies the word of God instead of honoring it.

Christian marriage and motherhood are not for militant females; no, marriage and motherhood are for grown-up, mature, emotionally stable women; and I'm not talking about years of life; no, even some 35 and 40 year-old women often fall short of being grown-up. Their association with men is on no higher a level now than when they were the 17 year-old, self absorbed brats they were in high school. Christian women like that seriously need to read, and heed, the guidance offered in the three books recommended below.

For Women Only
By Shaunti Feldhahn
ISBN 1-59052-317-2

The Proper Care And Feeding Of Husbands
By Dr. Laura Schlessinger
ISBN 0-06-052061-2

What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us
By Danielle Crittenden
ISBN 0-684-83219-4
ISBN 0-684-85959-9 (paper back)

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372) Titus 2:6 . . Similarly, encourage the young men to be sensible.

Just in case the young women were feeling a bit persecuted; Paul switches over to the guys and urges them to be just as sensible as the girls; in other words: to love their wives, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, and good; that the word of God not be dishonored.

Chastity is getting to be almost non-existent in America as more and more male celebrities engage in extra-marital affairs. Not all that long ago Governor Kitzhaber here in the state of Oregon was shacking up with a woman right in broad daylight in the governor's mansion and cared not what anybody thought about it. President Clinton messed around with women while he was in office, and former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer was discovered to be seeing expensive prostitutes which eventuated in his resignation. So Christians really can't depend upon America's leaders to set the example for young men.

Paul urged Titus to "encourage" the young men in his church to be sensible; which is quite a bit different than hounding them or getting on their backs. There's an awful lot of young men out there today with metal pinned in their faces and tattoos on their necks, taking ecstasy, smoking pot, joining gangs, using meth, shoplifting, and missing school because the adults in their lives refuse to let them grow up at their own pace.

Many years ago, before I was even interested in having a family of my own, there was a cartoon in the newspaper comics called Rick-O-Shay. Rick was sheriff in a small town out in the olde west. Well, he had a son that was a bit immature and Rick was concerned the boy was never going to amount to anything and he didn't know what to do about it. So, while he was complaining about his son to his good friend Hipshot Percussion (a local gunfighter) Hipshot interrupted and gave Rick some very good words of wisdom. He said (in so many words): Instead of frettin' about turning your son into someone you can admire, why not instead try and find out who he is and go with that?

Relentless criticism and ridicule, unreasonable expectations, zero sympathy, and disapproving everything they think, say, or do are the surest ways I know to ruin a young man's attitude and drive him far, far from home and God; hence the below:

373) Titus 2:7-8 . . In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that those who oppose us may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say.

Young men today desperately need role models because you can't just disapprove their life-style and not show them an alternative; and the best way to do that is by your own example; viz: instead of preaching to youngsters with words; preach to them with your conduct.

374) Titus 2:9-10a . . Bond slaves are to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering;

A bond slave is someone who has sold themselves into slavery for any number of reasons. But the one aspect I would like to dwell on is pilfering because this is a serious problem for employers here in the USA.

The koiné Greek word for "pilfering" is nosphizomai (nos-fid'-zom-ahee) which means to squirrel something aside for one's self: viz: embezzle; which Webster's defines as: to appropriate (as property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use.

Embezzling isn't limited to strictly stealing money; no, it's also the misuse of an employer's property such as company cars, office materials and office equipment, and/or shop materials and shop equipment; including water and electricity.

My last job before retiring was as a civilian employee for the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Portland Oregon district. It was a violation of Federal law for us to even take anything out of a dumpster, or use a battery charger to jump-start our cars, or even to so much as pump up a low tire on our cars with the air produced by a government air compressor. We were definitely not supposed to use the government's computers for surfing the web or composing personal e-mails.

Everything on the facility where I worked was US Government property, including the trash, and could not be used in an unofficial capacity without first obtaining special permission. Violators were subject to prosecution for Fraud, Waste, and Abuse.

Unofficial use of office computers alone is costing employers multiplied thousands of hours of wages and benefits paid to employees who are online during the work day for personal reasons. The most outrageous case I heard of at work was a lady downtown in the district office who was caught conducting her Mary K cosmetics business via a US Government computer; and on official time no less.

Those are things from which Christ's believing followers are ordered to cease and desist.

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375) Titus 2:10b . . but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our savior in every respect.

The koiné Greek word for "adorn" is kosmeo (kos-meh'-o) which means: to put in proper order; viz: decorate

When women buy a pretty new dress, they usually get things to go with it; things we call accessories; like a purse, shoes, stockings, necklace, earrings, and/or a watch and a bracelet. In the old days, women usually bought some gloves to go with their new dress too-- thus they create an "ensemble" which gives them a complete look rather than an unfinished look as if they just threw the dress on to work around the house or run down to a nearby convenience store.

Well, a Christian who's a Christian in label only is like a pretty dress without accessories. In point of fact, they are quite basic: just a house-dress Christian. In other words; faith without piety is like leaving the house for work in the morning half dressed.

376) Titus 2:15 . . These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

There's really nothing a pastor can do to prevent people from blowing him off, but it is in his power to not let negative people dissuade him from his duty.

I have been often criticized for posting daily-bread style topics on Christian message boards that nobody reads or responds to. I answer my critics that everybody has an audience of at least one, and that one is God. Be faithful to God, and He will be faithful to you. Don't ever let anyone marginalize you and/or make you feel like a moron in what you're doing for Christ.

†. Ezk 2:7 . .You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious.

†. Mark 8:38 . .Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also will the Son of Man be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

†. 2Tim 4:1-2 . . I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus-- who is to judge the Living and the Dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom --preach the word; be ready whether it's convenient or inconvenient: reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and with doctrine.

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377) Titus 3:1 . . Remind your people to submit to the government and its officials. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.

Seeing as how we're talking about the law of the land-- viz: civil ordinances --what might be some examples? Well; I should think that things like J walking, illegal U-turns, feeding parking meters, drifting through stop signs without coming to a complete halt, exceeding the speed limit, impeding traffic by driving too slow and refusing to pull over, double parking, failure to yield the right of way, unsafe lane changes, parking in a red zone, road rage, horn blowing, littering, trespassing, fishing without a license, keeping illegal size fish, keeping too many fish, feeding city-park ducks where it's prohibited, setting off fireworks where they're prohibited, dumping radiator coolant into a storm drain, ignoring California water restrictions, removing a swallow's nest that has eggs in it, killing a protected species, etc.

If there is one kind of person that God has always despised all the way through the Bible it's a scofflaw. In point of fact, according to the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God; scofflaws merit neither forgiveness nor atonement; that's how serious it is.

†. Num 15:30-31 . .The person, be he citizen or stranger, who acts defiantly reviles the Lord; that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has spurned the word of the Lord and violated His commandment, that person shall be cut off-- he bears his guilt.

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

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

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

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

Should I consider Bernard "Bernie" Madoff as better than myself? (chuckle) No. It isn't vilification to say the man is a crumb when he's been clearly proven to be one. That's neither malignant nor malevolent. What we're talking about here are innocent victims of mean-spirited, unwarranted vilification rather than those fully deserving of it. And besides, pastors need to be careful what they say about people because sometimes it seems the walls themselves have ears.

†. Ecc 10:20 . . Curse not the king, even in your thought; curse not the rich, even in your bedroom; for a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may tell the matter.

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379) Titus 3:8 . .This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds.

The koiné Greek word for "deeds" is very common throughout the New Testament; more often translated "works" than deeds. We're not talking about Boy Scout kinds of deeds but just simply the spiritual morality of one's day to day conduct; viz: a life that pleases God instead of one that irritates Him to no end.

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

The Greek word for "speak confidently" means to speak with an assertive, "no buts" attitude; viz: the things a preacher teaches his congregation should not be open to debate and/or perpetual bull sessions that never get to the bottom of anything.

380) Titus 3:9 . . Shun foolish controversies, and genealogies, and strife, and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless.

The "law" in question is the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God in the Old Testament. Disputes generally revolve around its interpretation and its correct application. Yhvh stipulated the formation of a panel of lawyers to interpret the law for those among His people who lacked the wherewithal to do it for themselves (Deut 17:8-13). But since Christians are outside the covenant's jurisdiction, then they can get by without those lawyers to interpret it for them; and besides; when you consider there are nine Justices on the US Supreme Court who seldom agree unanimously on anything, how much chance do you reckon a panel of seventy has of reaching a consensus?

One of the "foolish controversies and genealogies" I would highly recommend that believers avoid is Rome's roster of so-called apostolic successors. Don't even go there. It's unprofitable, futile, and pointless to strive over something like that. Pick your battles, and make sure your conflicts accomplish something truly useful for Christ. The Vatican has much bigger problems within its walls and its dogmas than that one.

381) Titus 3:10-11 . . A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

The koiné Greek word for "heretic" is hairetikos (hahee-ret-ee-kos') which means: a schismatic; which is someone in your very own church who causes dissent, rebellion, division, discord, and disharmony.

Heretics are not outsiders; no, a true heretic goes to the same church you go to and professes to believe and practice the very same religion that you profess to believe and practice; viz: for Catholics, a heretic would be a professing Catholic who openly disagrees with Rome, and attempts to persuade other Catholics to join their cause in opposing Vatican Council II in order to reform the Church.

Webster's defines a heretic as: 1) a dissenter from established church dogma; especially one who disavows a revealed truth, and 2) one who dissents from an accepted belief or doctrine; viz: a nonconformist.

I am an ex-Catholics and I oppose Rome. However, I don't fit the definition of a heretic. I'm what's known in Christian circles as an apostate; viz: a defector; which Webster's defines as a person who forsakes one's cause, party, or nation for another often because of a change in ideology. Heretics don't usually defect; but remain inside to foster insurrection: to undermine hierarchy, to bring about reform, to weaken, and to cause division. Every church has its fair share of heretics and they can be very disruptive in a Sunday school class.

The koiné Greek word for "reject" is paraiteomai (par-ahee-teh'-om-ahee) which means: to beg off; viz: deprecate, decline, and shun. In other words, don't give heretics the time of day, nor even be seen with them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So heresy is pretty serious.

384) Philemon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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385) Heb 2:1-4 . .We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

That commandment is unusual in the New Testament in that it wasn't written to Christians, but rather, to potential Christians; in particular, potential Jewish Christians.

When studying a difficult epistle like Hebrews, it's extremely important, for an accurate understanding of the letter, to first determine who wrote it, and to whom the author mailed it.

The author, unknown either by name or gender; was obviously a Jew because he's identified by the use of the pronouns "our" and "us" since it was to the Jews' forefathers that the prophets spoke.

Next, it's important to determine the target audience. Few people write letters and send them nowhere unless they're maybe a little touched in the head. So this letter was intended to communicate with somebody. According to Heb 13:22. the audience wasn't to just one recipient; but to a plurality identified as "brothers".

"Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter." (Heb 13:22)

Just exactly how many are indicated by "brothers" is impossible to determine. The recipients may have been even as few as two. A plausible scenario is that the author, in his activities as an evangelist, traveled to various places throughout the Roman empire, and would eventually end up in a local Jewish synagogue. Jesus did it that way in Israel (Matt 4:23, Matt 9:35, Luke 4:16) and Paul did it that way later. (Acts 15:21, Acts 17:1-4)

Usually a number of Jews in those synagogues (whom the Jewish author calls brothers) would take an interest in the Gospel and want to know more. I believe this epistle was sent to an unspecified group of those kinds of Jews. Where were they located? Nobody knows. The only thing about the location that's known for sure is that it wasn't Italy. (Heb 13:24)

Moving through the letter, I believe at least three categories of Jews are addressed.

Chapters 1 thru 4:13 address nondescript Jews.

Chapters 4:14 and thru to 10:39, address a special group of Jews that I've labeled teetering Jews. Those were Jews who heard the Gospel, and interested in finding out more, but not quite convinced yet to follow Jesus whole-heartedly, and were in very real danger of turning completely away from the Gospel and permanently clinging to Judaism.

Chapter 11, and thru to the end of the epistle, addressed Jews who were past teetering: they made a solid commitment, and were ready to begin living a serious, Christ-following way of life.

My divisions of the epistle are no doubt rough hewn, but they do serve to help put the contents in perspective.

Getting back to Heb 2:1-4, I don't think the words "drift away" imply that people get saved and then later lose their salvation. No; it's more like a curious crowd that gathers around a soap box speaker, and little by little, man by man, boredom sets in-- the audience begins dispersing and people move on to find something else to do. That would be akin to attending a Billy Graham crusade for its entertainment, and a month later totally forgetting everything he talked about.

Were you to ask an evangelistic associations like Jews For Jesus; they would tell you it takes a lot of hard, dedicated, persistent effort to convert Jews to Christianity; hard effort with lots of prayer and follow-up because Jews have a very strong tendency to drift away from Christ and cling to their Judaism.

386) Heb 3:1 . .Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and High Priest whom we acknowledge: Christ Jesus

The "holy brethren" are Yhvh's people as per Deut 14:2 and Ps 135:4; and the "holy calling" very likely refers to the nation that God promised to make of Abraham as per Gen 12:1-2, Gen 13:14-16, and Gen 22:16-18.

The pronoun "we" in the phrase "whom we acknowledge" doesn't apply to just any Jew who happens to be looking in: only the Christian Jews with whom the author was then associated.

The koiné Greek word for "consider" is katanoeo (kat-an-o-eh'-o) which means: to observe fully; viz: to study; to examine.

You know, giving Christ a cursory glance leads nowhere. His purpose and his mission are just too complicated for that sort of half-hearted approach. Giving the Bible's Christ a brief once-over is just about as wise as investing in stocks without knowing some details about the company behind them; but that is just how modern Jews typically view Christ-- He's not Moses is he? No? End of discussion!

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387) Heb 3:7-11 . . So, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried Me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said: Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways. So I declared on oath in My anger; they shall never enter My rest.

That's a quote from Psalm 95; which pertains to the people of Israel whom Yhvh rescued from Egyptian slavery. No doubt there are lots of modern Jews who would say: Had I been out there with Moses in the desert, I would have obeyed God and entered the promised land when Yhvh said to the first time. Sure, sure, it's easy to be obedient in hindsight sans the added handicap of peer pressure. But where's the average Jew today? The majority are hiloni (secular). And if you were to take a poll of the more than twelve million Jews resident on today's Earth, how many would you find who have ever even one time read Psalm 95?

In point of fact, the generation that followed Joshua into Canaan didn't get rest; no, they got warfare; years of it. And instead of obtaining a permanent state of peace and prosperity, they wound up getting oppression, slavery, poverty, environmental disasters, plagues, defeat, and dispersal.

†. Heb 4:8-9 . . For if Joshua had given them rest, then would not Psalm 95 afterward have spoken of a different day. There remains therefore a rest to the people of God.

I'm going to deliberately misquote that last sentence like this: There is another rest for the people of God. No, it doesn't say "another" rest; it's the same rest, the one they failed to obtain the first time; viz: it's been on hold all these many long years; and observers only need look at the state of that country today to easily perceive that Yhvh's people have yet to obtain rest of any kind: either politically, environmentally, or economically.

388) Heb 3:12-13 . . Take heed, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But implore one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

That's a call to theocratic unity; Jewish theocratic unity. But good luck getting the Jews to rally around Yhvh. Oh well, the author was duty-bound to try; as all the prophets before him in the past were duty-bound to try; usually to no avail.

†. Heb 3:16-19 . .Who were they who heard and rebelled? Was it not all those whom Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was Yhvh angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So then, we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Belief is not only consent to a statement's truthfulness. No, Bible belief contains the element of trust; the absence of which led to the Jews' downfall in the Sinai. God told them to attack Palestine, but they didn't believe they were strong enough to do it. Well, that part was true; they weren't. However, Yhvh promised to be on their side. That part was true too, and had they been as convinced of that second part as strongly as they were the first, they would have been okay. But alas, they failed to rely upon Yhvh as a man of His word; and subsequently, they missed out on their one and only opportunity to enter into some good solid perpetual rest.

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389) Heb 4:1-2 . .Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had the gospel preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it wasn't mixed with faith in those who heard.

When reading the Bible; it's always important to pay close attention to language, grammar, and syntax. In this passage we're looking at, the pronouns us, you, we, they, and those don't refer to Gentiles; no, not at all. They refer to the author's fellow Jewish countrymen. This is, after all, a letter to Hebrews, not to the world.

The "gospel" spoken of in this instance is a concise version of the message with which most Christians are familiar, and its focus was mainly upon the kingdom of God rather than the grace of God. (e.g. Matt 4:23, Mark 1:14-15). The Jews' homeland would've been the center of the kingdom of God back then just as it will be in the future. In other words: the kingdom of God has been offered to the Jews at least twice already-- once by Moses and once by Jesus --and will be offered to them yet a third time in the future. But I rather suspect that next time the Jews won't have a say in the matter.

Jews are now in an era sometimes called the church age; which is an open-season opportunity for them to at least enroll in the kingdom as its future citizens.

†. Heb 4:6-7 . . It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later He spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts."

390) Heb 4:11 . . Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disbelief.

The "fall" in that instance refers to the Jews' failure to enter the kingdom's land when they were given the opportunity; which was indeed a very brief open season.

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391) Heb 4:14 . . Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us cling to what we acknowledge

Prior to Christ, the closest proximity that Yhvh's people had to God was their Aaonic priest. But even he was earth-bound and his own closest proximity to the actual person of God was the holy place in either the tabernacle or the Temple.

One of the advantages of Christ's priesthood is his immortality; in other words: the Lord continues as a priest forever because he rose from the dead impervious to death. Aaron and his sons were not so lucky.

†. Rom 6:9 . . knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

†. Heb 7:23-25 . . Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But he, because he continues forever, has an unending priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since he ever lives to make intercession for them.

392) Heb 4:15-16 . . For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

One of the advantages of worship via a human priest is his ability to intuitively sympathize with human weaknesses. That is something that angels simply cannot do because they are a different species of life. They may empathize, but can never truly sympathize.

Webster's defines empathy as: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

In other words: Christ experienced human weaknesses and therefore understands human weaknesses.

†. Heb 5:1-3 . . Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.

Another aspect of worship via a human priest is temptation. Christ was fully tempted (Heb 4:15). Worship did not come easy for Jesus as some have been led to believe. That poor guy suffered just as much, if not more, temptation in his life as anybody else-- real trials; not just symbolic trials.

†. Heb 5:7-8 . . Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered

It's not that Jesus was at one time disobedient. What he learned was just how difficult it is to be faithful to God when everything is working against you.

There's an old Native American prayer that goes something like this: Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked in his moccasins. Well, the Bible's Jesus walked in our moccasins and he knows by personal experience just exactly how it feels. He's not just some indifferent, court appointed lawyer; no, nothing like that: Jesus is genuinely kin to his fellow men; therefore they can approach the throne of grace with confidence because it truly is a throne of grace rather than a throne of criminal justice. We don't approach the throne as fugitives; no, we approach it as worn-out travelers in need of a place to stay for the night. We're like the man set upon by thieves, and Jesus is like the Samaritan who got him back on his feet. Christ doesn't pass us by on the other side of the road; no, he goes out his way to be helpful. That's really good to know.

The koiné Greek word for "confidence" in Heb 4:16 is parrhesia (par-rhay-see'-ah) which means: all out-spokenness; viz: frankness, bluntness. Since Jesus is a man who's been around the block a few times; there is no need to be reticent with him. The author's fellow Jews may speak their minds-- be frank, be candid --just as they would speak with beer buddies and/or a ladies' coffee clutch. That is a huge improvement over stuffing pieces of paper in the stone chinks of the so-called Wailing Wall.

FYI: Webster's defines a clutch as: a brood of chicks. (chuckle) At my age, a girl of 50 is a chick. In my father's day, chicks were dames. Sometimes chicks are dolls as in the Broadway play: Guys And Dolls. So I guess you could call a clutch a brood of dolls. Either way, it's a zone of free speech rather than guarded speech.

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393) Heb 6:1-3 . .Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

A large section of Hebrews talks about a man named Melchizedek: a priest of the Most High God who lived in Abraham's day. Mel is not a popular topic on internet Christian forums; which is really a shame because his priesthood, and its constituents, are above The Commandments and thoroughly immune to prosecution for breaking them.

Discussions of Melchizedek are pretty much limited to the acumen of mature believers; primarily because the average Jew is spiritually-challenged. Another large section of Hebrews talks about the new covenant, but that also is too advanced for the spiritual acumen of the average Jew.

Yhvh's people were spiritually-challenged when they came out of Egypt.

†. Deut 29:2-5 . . And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them; You have seen all that Yhvh did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. Yet to this day Yhvh has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.

The condition persisted to Isaiah's day,

†. Isa 6:9-10 . . And Yhvh said; Go, and tell this people: Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, lest they see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and come back to Me and be healed.

Continued in Ezekiel's day,

†. Ezk 12:1-2 . .Then the word of Yhvh came to me saying; Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house.

Was chronic in Christ's day,

†. John 12:39-40 . . For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says: He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor repent --and I would heal them.

And still a problem in Paul's day too.

†. 2Cor 3:12-16 . . Since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull; for to this day the same veil remains when Torah is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to The Lord, the veil is taken away.

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394) Heb 10:21-22 . . Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience

Sprinkling was a common ritual in the Old Testament-- sometimes with water, sometimes with oil, and sometimes with blood --for example: Ex 29:16, Ex 29:21, Lev 14:7, Lev 14 16, and Num 8:7, et al.

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

The Bible says that Christ was raised again for our justification. (Rom 4:25). The Greek word is dikaiosis (dik-ah'-yo-sis) which essentially means acquittal-- a legal term that can be roughly defined as the act of adjudicating that a person is not guilty. In other words; an acquittal is a legal declaration of innocence.

Now the interesting thing about this is that Christ's believing followers are never actually innocent.

†. 1John 1:8-9 . . If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

However, His son's resurrection made it possible for God to cleanse the consciences of Jesus' believing followers once and for all time. In other words: their consciences may never in this life be truly free of guilt, but the sprinkling sanitized their consciences so effectively that God can legally, and justifiably, declare Christ's believing followers innocent for all time.

†. Heb 10:14 . . By one offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Seeing as how God is the supreme court in all matters pertaining to sin, then in order for a prosecutor to make a charge stick against one of Christ's believing followers, the prosecutor would have to convince God that the accused is indeed guilty. Well; that would be very difficult seeing as how God has already ruled that Christ's believing followers are innocent for all time.

†. Rom 8:33 . . Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.

So then; in order to adjudicate one of Christ's believing followers guilty, God would have to reverse Himself; and that is not likely to happen.

†. Rom 11:29 . . God's gifts, and His call, are irrevocable.

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395) Heb 10:23 . . Let us cling to the acknowledgment of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised)

One can scarcely blame the author's Hebrew audience for wondering if perchance they're making a really big mistake dumping the covenant that Yhvh's people made with God as per Deut 29:9-15. A lot is at stake. For one thing, the covenant is their sacred heritage and their cultural identity; and for another, the covenant is a contract that obligates God to lower the boom on His people with some pretty severe penalties for breaching it: they're all on file at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69. When Hebrews convert to Christianity and the new and improved covenant as per Jer 31:31-34, they have to wonder if maybe they're stepping off into an abyss from whence there is no return.

But the reality is: they have nothing to lose by taking that step because the original covenant provides neither forgiveness nor atonement for willful sins; which can be defined as deeds committed by someone knowing beforehand that what they were about to do is wrong.

†. Heb 10:26 . . For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.

†. Num 12:28-31 . . The priest shall atone for the erring soul which sinned inadvertently before the Lord, so as to atone on his behalf, and it shall be forgiven him. One law shall apply to anyone who sins inadvertently from the native born of the children of Israel and the proselyte who resides among them. But if a person should act highhandedly, whether he is a native born or a proselyte, he is blaspheming the Lord, and that soul shall be cut off from among its people. For he has scorned the word of the Lord and violated His commandment; that soul shall be utterly cut off; for its iniquity is upon it.

I'm pretty sure it was Num 12:28-31 that Paul had in mind when he informed his Jewish countrymen "through Jesus everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the law of Moses" (Acts 13:39)

One of the more common willful sins are lies. Everybody knows it's wrong but still do it anyway. Well; lies are forbidden by the original covenant.

†. Lev 19:11 . . You shall not lie, one man to his fellow.

So then, when a Torah-trained Jew tells a lie; he acts highhandedly; viz: he commits a willful sin for which the original covenant provides neither forgiveness nor atonement. That man is a scofflaw and in desperate need of a safety net.

Now, the author mentioned that "He is faithful that promised". So then, what is the promise? Well; the promise is located in the words and grammar of the new and improved covenant located at Jer 31:31-34.

"Such is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after these days-- testifies Yhvh: I will put My teachings into their inmost being and inscribe it upon their hearts. Then I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they need to teach one another and say to one another, "Heed the Lord"; for all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, shall heed Me-- testifies Yhvh. For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more."

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

†. Deut 27:26 . . Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them.

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396) Heb 10:24 . . And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Man is a species of life that is quite naturally, and comfortably, inclined to provoke and annoy each other and bring out the worst in their fellow men. It is Christ's wishes that his own make an effort to do just the opposite; viz: bring out the best in each other.

397) Heb 10:25 . . Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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

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

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

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

NOTE: the Day the author spoke of is the day of the Lord, in which several judgments are scheduled to take place. The one most pertinent to Christ's people is their performance evaluation depicted at 1Cor 3:10-15, and the one most pertinent to the world is the Tribulation depicted in the book of Revelation, and the one most pertinent to the lost is their day in court depicted at Rev 20:11-15; and the one most pertinent to Yhvh's people is a sort of Ellis Island depicted at Ezk 20:33-44.

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

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

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

Jesus freaks often carried, and distributed, copies of Good News for Modern Man; a 1966 translation of the Bible that fit the bill by including, at first, only the New Testament in a modern vernacular. "Jesus Freak" is currently a disparaging term for Evangelical Christians.

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

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

399) Heb 10:35-36 . .Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of perseverance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

The kind of perseverance the author is talking about is not the dogged determination of US Navy SEALs; which are a group of military guys who absolutely refuse to be beaten at anything you might name. If SEALs were to play hop-scotch it would turn violent.

I would liken the kind of perseverance in mind here as that of a farmer. ACDC says it's a long ways to the top if you wanna rock and roll. Well, farmers have a long ways to harvest if they wanna make it to market. First they have to till the soil, then rake it, then plant seeds, then wait on mother nature to irrigate them with rain, then they have to wait more yet for their crops to grow to maturity before harvesting.

Farmers look forward to their harvests; they anticipate them otherwise who would plow, rake, and plant if there were nothing to expect later on down the road?

That kind of perseverance anticipates a benefit. Webster's defines anticipate as: to look forward to as certain; viz: to expect. As a rule, farmers don't begin the planting season expecting their fields to produce nothing. No, they plan on going to market because they expect to see crops in the fields at harvest time. It would be a very strange farmer indeed who looked forward to the ravages of drought, disease, and insect plagues every year.

400) Heb 12:1 . .Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses all around us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Whether it's meant that all the heroes of faith listed in the 11th chapter are in some sort of celestial grandstand as an audience watching those of us who are still alive, is uncertain. But if they are . . . . . .!

Believers aren't supposed to be Christ's followers for a short distance, as if their life of faith is only a 50-yard dash. No, they're not in a dash, they're in a marathon; so they have to hang in there if they expect to win an at-a-boy at the finish line.

The Greek word for "encumbrance" means weight; which athletes competing in track and field generally do their best to keep to a minimum, including the shoes they wear; if any. "the sin" is actually only "sin" seeing as how the modifier is an editorial insertion. For example, competitors typically avoid things like alcohol, sex, over-eating, and staying up late before the games. In other words: if one isn't careful, their lifestyle will hold them back from following Christ loyally and consistently.

401) Heb 12:3-4 . . For consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin

At a Padres baseball game I attended in San Diego back in the 1970's, the First Baseman of the visiting team was a player named Pete Rose. For the entire duration of the game, Pete was bombarded with insults and remarks by rows of hecklers seated right along the first-base line. The hecklers were relentless but Pete tuned them out and played that game as if they were invisible. He was a real pro; however, Pete may have reacted differently had they threatened him with bodily injury, confiscation of his property, and/or death.

The Jews to whom the author wrote must have had it pretty good because it was only a matter of time before Christians were targets for arrows, swords, lances, pyres, and the teeth of beasts in the coliseum at Rome. Even today, it is very dangerous to be a Christian in Muslim countries.

Saturday, August 03, 2009, a frenzied mob of 3,000 Muslims stormed the tiny Pakistani Christian village of Gojra. Enflamed by (unconfirmed) charges that a Christian had incinerated pages of the Koran, the mob burned down fifty homes, cremated eight Christians alive, and wounded twenty others. Thousands of Christians fled the area.

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402) Heb 12:5-6 . . My son, do not despise Yhvh's chastening, nor detest His correction; for whom Yhvh loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Prov 3:11-12)

The Bible's God doesn’t relate to His family as pets; but as a father with legally adopted children; viz: kinfolk. I suppose there are some rather imbalanced sorts out there (e.g. Leona Helmsley) who treat their dogs as kin; but the Father's sensibilities are on a bit higher plain than that.

What's your definition of a good kid? Well; I don't know about yours, but my definition of a good kid is one that minds his parents. Does that make him a pet? No, it makes him a pleasure to live with.

†. John 14:23-24 . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

†. John 15:10 . . If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love.

Abiding in His love is just the opposite of abiding in His wood shed; if you know what I mean.

403) Heb 12:7-11 . . If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

. . . Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.

. . . Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Some of the Lord's children are so incorrigible that no amount of discipline works on them.

"For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (Ps 44:22, Rom 8:36).

Well, all I can say is: don't push God to the point of shortening your life. It's much better for all concerned that you reform, and live.

†. Rom 8:13 . . For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live

†. 2Tim 2:19-21 . . Let everyone who names the name of the Lord desist from wickedness. Now in a great house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if a man cleanses himself, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

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404) Heb 12:12-13 . .Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak, and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

That almost sounds like physical therapy; which of course it is. When I had one of my knees replaced, the therapist had to teach me how to walk all over again-- how to walk properly because with the bad knee, I couldn't; and that had gone on for more than a decade. And not only that, but the leg with the bad knee had become feeble because I favored it and wasn't using it properly. So a large percentage of my therapy involved getting that game leg strong again.

The Greek word for "straight" is orthos (or-thos') which doesn't necessarily define the shortest distance between two points. It can also mean smooth and level; in other words: free of tripping hazards; which someone undergoing treatment for a joint problem (e.g. hips, knees, and ankles) has to really watch out for. In other words: an orthos path is a therapeutic path-- in this case in respect of one's spiritual conditioning rather than their physical conditioning.

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

The word for "peace" is eirene (i-ray'-nay) and means not only a lack of strife, but also the presence of prosperity; which implies always seeking the good of others rather than only your own.

People of peace are in an admirable category.

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

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406) Heb 12:14b . . and pursue sanctification, without which no one will see the Lord.

The Greek word for "sanctification" is hagiasmos (hag-ee-as-mos') which means both purity and purification; which can be defined as not mixed, adulterated, contaminated and/or amalgamated with any other substance or material; for example:

†. 1Cor 5:6-7 . . Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened.

This is basically a reiteration of the very first of the Ten commandments.

†. Mark 12:28-31 . . One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that he had answered them well, asked him; "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered; "The foremost is: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

"without which no one will see the Lord"

What is that saying? Does it mean if perchance one of Christ's believing followers fails to achieve purity in this life, they will be lost when they pass on? No doubt the Devil could but dearly wish that were true because then nobody would go to heaven. But the statement below is just as true today as it was when the apostle John penned it.

†. 1John 1:8-10 . . If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Nobody has ever achieved 100% purity in this life; apparently not even the apostle John or why else would he use pronouns like "we' and "ourselves" and "us". Whoever thinks they can do it is only chasing a carrot on a stick. The idiom depicts a donkey pulling a wagon while in pursuit of a treat dangled just out of its reach.

My musical instrument of choice is electric guitar; but as many years as I have been trying to get the hang of electric guitar, I have yet to master it nor will I ever master it in this life; because I simply do not have a talent for guitar. But I do what I can with my limited abilities.

That's a pretty good metaphor for explaining what it means to pursue sanctification. You're never going to get it in this life; but I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that the Lord is pleased when his own do the best they can with their limited abilities.

However, the saying ""without which no one will see the Lord" stills hold true, and one day, those of us bound for heaven will finally achieve 100% purity because the Lord himself will make sure that we do.

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

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

Grace comes out pretty early in the Bible.

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

Noah found that grace because he was righteous.

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

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

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

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408) Heb 12:15b . . that no root of a bitter plant, sprouting up, causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

It's interesting the author didn't say "seed" rather than root. The seeds of noxious plants are prevalent: they're everywhere at all times; like cold germs. Farmers, gardeners, and landscape maintenance personnel have to stay alert for those that germinate and hit them with a shot of herbicide to keep them under control. Left unchecked, those noxious plants will dominate the surface of the soil and muscle out the plants you want to keep.

One example of a "root of bitterness" is heresy; which is defined as a belief or opinion that does not agree with the official dogma of a particular religion; viz: an heretic is a dissident. They don't defect and go outside; no, they remain inside and stir up discontent with the hierarchy and campaign for reform. Those kinds of church members are invasive species that have to be dealt with in a summary manner lest they succeed in destroying a church's unity.

†. Titus 3:10-11 . . A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

409) Heb 12:16-17 . . that there be no immoral or secular person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

At first glance it appears that verse is saying that Jacob's brother was immoral, but actually two types of spiritual conditions are on display-- the one is immoral and the other is secular.

Worldly church members aren't the noxious menaces that characterize heretics; but one thing they are is dead weight. They're indifferent to Christ's best interests and have little concern whether a church is operating in a manner that honors his wishes. They'd just as soon forgo preaching and Sunday school to organize a banquet where they can mingle, talk business and politics, and meet interesting people.

You'll likely encounter very few secular types on-campus during a Saturday morning church work day set aside for maintaining the grounds and applying fresh paint to the buildings. I once attended a mega church in San Diego with over 4,000 members on the books. Less than twenty of those members ever showed up on work days. What does that tell you about the spiritual condition of that church?

The problem with secular types is that they typically comprise the majority; in other words: as a voting bloc, they carry a lot of weight and they contribute most of the money towards a church's budget so its risky taking them to task for their lack of appreciation for spiritual things. But too many secular types can ruin a church's association with Christ in short order; for example:

†. Rev 3:20-22 . . Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what The Spirit says to the churches.

The church to whom that letter was written was so indifferent to associating with Christ that he was left standing outside the building banging on the door trying to get somebody's attention to let him in. Not even its pastor wanted Christ on board.

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410) Heb 12:25-29 . . See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on Mt. Sinai, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying: Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.

. . ."Yet once more" indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.

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

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

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

The Greek word for angels doesn't necessarily indicate a celestial being. It just means a messenger; especially one that truly represents God. Hopefully the pastors and Sunday school teachers in your church are people like that.

In the modern world, it's risky to be too friendly with strangers; especially in the USA. Letting strangers into one's home could easily result in the murder of your entire family, along with the theft of your belongings. So use a little sanctified common sense in applying Heb 13:2.

†. Matt 10:16 . . Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

413) Heb 13:3 . . Remember prisoners, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

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

†. Eph 5:30-32 . .We are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery-- but I am talking about Christ and the church.

The prisoners mentioned are not just any jailbird in lock-up; but rather, it's limited to those who are "in the body" viz: in Christ.

†. 1Cor 12:12-13 . . For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body

So then, paying a visit to fellow believers behind bars is like visiting one's family-- a heavenly family to whom believers owe far more loyalty than their biological families.

†. Matt 10:37 . . He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

The "love" spoken of in that passage is easily mistaken for feelings when more likely it's actually talking about loyalty instead.

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