Post Index

Friday, October 2, 2015

Government and Church

Summary: This article is about the concept of government as church. Make no mistake about it. This is not to equate or unify the two as one. They each serve a very different purpose, but the different purposes of the same God who is one. There are seven aspects, roles or functions of government which are examined in this article, which are similar to the body of believers, that is, the church. Clearly, the saints in Christ have a model or pattern in the scriptures from which they are able to draw and assess the lessons of those functions in government. Five of these seven are presented here mostly in light of the New Testament (NT) scriptures with the other two viewed in light of God’s commandment to the nation of Israel in the Tanakh; the Old Testament (OT) scriptures. Government in America is not unique to America and despite its secular nature, there is a challenge and opportunity for the saints in Christ to understand how government is an active instrument of God. Government, as an instrument of God is quite capable of making manifest the will, love and compassion, but justice, and, yes, mercy of God among those who know not the love of God in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

the church
building up
discipline of so-called citizens
responsibility towards other nations
poor, orphans, widows and aliens
conclusion: when government goes wrong

government and church

I anticipate the response, perhaps offense or indignation and charges to the title of this article about state worship or separation of church and state; both of which would be mistaken. This article is to encourage the saints in Christ to look at government as something more than a mere mindless, disembodied entity, and, oh yes, a minister of God. More specifically, it is a call to examine scripture and to understand how, conceptually government is, humanly speaking and in the misunderstood but no less true word; church. This is not an attempt to provide an item by item comparison and contrast of similarities and differences between government and church. Yes, there are similarities just as there are differences, but to merely create a list to commit to memory and to parrot does not make for an understanding of the proposed subject of this article. Citations, quotations and biblical references are at a minimum because I trust disciples are familiar with the mention and use of these or I have left it for them to examine those matters more closely if they are so inclined.

the church

First, it seems necessary that I should ever so briefly relate the above seven aspects as these are true characteristics of the church. She receives from the saints contributions from a cheerful heart and not by compulsion or tithes. The church gives generously from those collection funds for members and nonmembers as they might have a need. The church builds up the faith, knowledge and understanding of the members who make up the body of Christ, that is, the church, by teachers and preachers. The church disciplines, not non-believers or non-members, by brothers or sisters in the faith who fall away into sin. She is lead by leaders called bishops, shepherds, elders, pastors and overseers.

Attitudes and views of Christians towards government are often colored  by their association and affinity as Republican, Democrat, independent or Libertarian and not necessarily on the basis of their understanding of the scriptures. This is not a bash against political party affiliation or participation in politics. Politicians and their constituents speak of extending the reach of government or of too much government. These slogans are the stuff for supporters to parrot and to rally others to their cause, but the truth is these slogans are often a very distant cry from both the sacred and the secular influences which have formed and shaped America. This article will view seven areas as these are found in scriptures either with respect to the church or from the overall message of scripture concerning nations with specific lessons taken from Israel and God. These are the seven areas to be examined and which represent the functions of government as church: 1) receiving, 2) giving, 3) building up, 4) discipline of so-called citizens, 5) responsibility towards other nations, 6) poor, orphans, widows and aliens, and 7) leadership. I have combined numbers 2 and 6.


Jesus and his apostle Paul were clear on their message concerning the expectations of the Jews and the disciples of Jesus towards Caesar and government respectively. Much to the dismay and chagrin of the Jews Jesus exhorted the Jews to render the taxes due unto Caesar. Similarly, they were to render to God the things that are God’s. The disciples were to submit to the authority of government. Government, as a minister of God, Paul stated, has authority. Its authority is given to it by God. It has authority to collect taxes. It does not ask for tax revenues or generous gifts from its citizens; it demands it and takes it. It does not require that citizens give it cheerily or grudgingly; only that they give up what is due the government. How much and how often it collects those taxes is for its citizens to tell government. When Jesus nor Paul gave their teaching concerning government, disciples and taxes they were not oblivious and ignorant of the diverse uses, including immoralities, which Caesar made with those tax revenues which the government in Rome collected.

giving, poor, orphans, widows and aliens

There is a view held by some that God in the Bible states there will always be poor people. This is true. However, this statement as I have observed in various discussions often reveals a motive, namely, that there is no point in doing anything to alleviate or eradicate poverty. There is no duty or obligation to help the poor. However, whether one views these words of scripture on the poor as an indictment on mankind or a prophecy to be fulfilled; the question remains: why do we have the poor and what is the duty of government towards the poor?

7 "If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother;
8 but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.
9 "Beware that there is no base thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,' and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you.
10 "You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.
11 "For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore  I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.' (Deuteronomy 1510, 11)

The apostle Paul was sent out to the ministry of preaching the gospel with the blessing of his fellow apostles in Jerusalem and the saints in Christ with this exhortation:

10 They only asked us to remember the poor -the very thing I also was eager to do. (Galatians 2:10)

which he did:

17 "After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. (Acts 24:17)

What do the Deuteronomy and Galatians passages reveal about the priority of the poor, orphans, widows and aliens in the land? They reveal what God instructed Israel, by way of a reminder, of the fact that the land they would soon receive and live in was given to them by God. Similarly, the land that was to become the United States of America was given to those seeking to live in faith and in worship to God. America, not unlike the church, was acquired with the price of the blood of those who fought for her. The act of giving to the poor was a way for Israel to be reminded of what they had received freely from God, but also for God to acknowledge their faithfulness towards God through Israel’s treatment of the poor, orphans, widows and aliens. God would, in turn, bless them for their generosity towards the poor. Israel was commanded just as much to care for the orphans, widows as for the alien; the foreigner, in their midst and to not oppress either one.

The tenets in the Preamble to the Constitution written by our wise Founding Fathers about the pursuit of happiness as an endowment of God for all men is not limited to Americans. We are reminded of this founding tenet of American democracy in the new republic in The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus etched in the Statue of Liberty:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

As in the church so too in government there are some who may contribute to the aid of the poor even if voluntarily but grudgingly or under compulsion. What the church does in her own way to aid the poor is what government does for the poor. These are the guiding tenets for government, if not from scripture, than American documents and our heritage to care for the poor and the alien and which was recognized by France through her gift of the statue of Liberty to America.

building up

The terminologies of the sacred church and secular government may be different, but the concepts, expectations and practices are similar. The building up, that is, the edification or education of America’s electorate, if democracy is to flourish, was one of paramount importance as President Jefferson was keen to remind and admonition young republic of America.

An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. It is therefore imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens. It should be noted, that when Jefferson speaks of "science," he is often referring to knowledge or learning in general. (President Thomas Jefferson)

One of the ways in which government seeks to maintain an enlightened citizenry is through the disbursement of grant monies for education. The objective is not merely that people might be able to compete in the job marketplace for employment but that they become tax paying citizens who support the functions of government towards its citizens and others.

discipline of so-called citizens

The saints in Christ may recognize as familiar the above title. I allude to an instance in which the apostle Paul exercised his authority. He not only judged the immorality of a Christian whose behavior prompted the apostle to refer to him as, a “so-called brother,” but he urged the church in Corinth where this occurred for them to judge him. This was not a license for the church to engage or revel in a carnal spectacle of casting insults, aspersions or bodily assaults on that individual. Rather, it was that the judgment of Paul and the church might result in the salvation of the individual which it did when the individual repented of his immoral behavior involving the wife of his father.

Government, at city, state and federal levels and through the proper branches of government, has the authority to arrest, indict and to convict, acquit or sentence to imprisonment or execution those who violate the law. This reality is not necessarily something which produces a warm feeling anymore than when the church disciplines her own. However, it serves to highlight the available choices for those who live in the land, namely, whether to submit wilfully and live under the greater law and the love of Jesus, or to have government impose the law of the land with its statutes on the individual.

responsibility towards other nations

There are, to be sure, voices which cry out that America, through the arm of government, has no business in the affairs of other nations. However, nations are an extension of neighbor, neighborhood, city, state and country. This is why the church understands and accepts that as she will respond to a human need abroad either through the long-term involvement of supporting a mission work or through a response to an emergency human need in the aftermath of a man-made or natural disaster.

Hence, the human empathy and actions by which we engage with our neighbor are no different than those of world governments. This human obligation to respond to the one in need was, curiously or bizarrely enough, uttered by Cain after he had murdered his brother Abel: Am I my brother’s keeper? was the retort of Cain when God inquired about his brother Abel. The equally rhetorical response to Cain’s question is that, yes, you are your brother’s keeper.


The leadership of government is manifold, but whether or not leaders are elected they are servants, or they are to serve, the nation’s citizens. When the early Americans fought and died in battle against Britain for the creation of the nation of America it was not to create an country without government. They fought and died for a government which is of the people, by the people and for the people. Just as the church designates those who are filled with the Spirit to lead; government is entrusted to those whose primary desire is to uphold the tenets of the U.S. Constitution and to serve the American public. It is a task which requires no less wisdom than Solomon asked of God in order that he might rule Israel in accordance with the will of God.

conclusion: when government goes wrong

The kingdom which God established in Israel went wrong. It divided into a northern kingdom (Israel) and a southern kingdom. (Judah) What is there for the disciples to note: It is that when Judah strapped their swords to go up against their brother Israel it was Shemaiah, the prophet of God who was sent to tell and enlighten Judah on what God had to say concerning the division of the kingdom, even if they didn’t understand it, that, this thing is from me.

What unfolded between the two kingdoms for many years after that division was a diverse number of kings, some who did according to the will of the Lord, others who not only did they not carry out the will of God, but they encouraged immorality and apostasy from God.

When government goes wrong it is not because of a sole individual Democrat or Republican politician. So, what are the evidences or signs that government has gone wrong? The nation of Israel is a showcase example of a people whom, 1) before they became a nation, 2) when they became a nation, and 3) when that nation turned away from the God who had made them a nation and blessed them.

What followed when Israel fell away from God were droughts where the floodgates of heaven were closed, but the floodgates of immorality opened wide and justice gave way to bribery and righteousness was despised. The poor, orphan, widow and alien but also the rich; all became keenly aware of what happens when government goes wrong.

As an example, there is the reign of King Uzziah in Judah of whom the scripture testifies that, He did right in the sight of the Lord. King Uzziah was an environmentalist: he loved the soil. He also devised, built and amassed weapons of war. What was his undoing? He became proud and took it upon himself to defy what God had ordained. Uzziah entered the temple with incense; this was something which only the priests were to do. Uzziah was immediately struck with leprosy and remained a leper until his death in isolation. (II Chronicles 26)

These things, such as droughts, the naturalist would say, happen as a due course of nature. However, what happened to Israel and its leaders when the nation was ravished by droughts and attacks by foreign nations was precisely as Israel had been forewarned centuries before by God as to what would come upon them on the day they turned away from God. What happens and is happening in America is not soley because of the individual Democrat, Republic and Libertarian in public office. It is just as much because of the general populace who see, think, assess and respond to these things of nature and human behavior in such a manner as to be no different than when Israel who knew God and then turned away from God. Hence, there is no glory or honor for God who calls the saints in Christ to honor and glorify him by those who profess to know him and serve him when government goes wrong.

peace to all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

He called them gods

34 Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS '?
35 "If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken ),
36 do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God '? (John 10)

the objective of Jesus

Jesus, in the gospel according to John, reiterated these words from Psalm 82 to the Jews who took offence at him. They were ready to stone him, as they said, not for doing a good work, but for blasphemy. This was the blasphemy, as the Jews saw it, for which they were ready to stone Jesus because You, being a man, make yourself out to be God. Jesus knew quite well why they wanted to stone him when he posed the question to them I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?

The dialog into which Jesus drew them was in order for them to articulate what they did not understand about the scriptures (and the scripture cannot be broken) but which they could see plainly with their own eyes. This is an understatement about the unbroken unity of the scripture as the revelation of the word of God. Here is a clip from my blog article:

what God sought to impress on Israel

God sought to impress something on Israel for all time when He spoke through his servant Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4,5; the Shema. There are various words and phrases which appear before and after the Shema. Here are a few of those words and phrases:

the commandment, the statutes and the judgments . . . to teach . . . to keep . . . you should listen . . . Hear, oh Israel . . . These words . . . talk of them . . . bind as a sign . . . You shall write them . . .

All of these words and phrases are about the words God was saying to Moses in that moment. Since Deuteronomy is a second telling of the law to Israel those words and phrases are as much about what God had said (past) already. These were things which Israel was to learn and keep as of that day. (present) Israel was to teach these things to their children going forward. (future) Their children were to learn, keep and teach these things to impress to their children; generation after generation.

This is what Israel was to understand from that moment going forward. Israel was to understand that the revelation of the will of God was one in unity and harmony as is God. Israel was to understand that 1) everything that God said was to be obeyed, 2) everything that Moses said that God said was to be obeyed, 3) everything that the prophets said God said was to be obeyed, 4) everything that Jesus said was from the Father said was to be obeyed, 5) everything that the apostles said was from the Holy Spirit was to be obeyed, and 6) everything that the saints in Christ read from the written word as what God said was to be obeyed. There is no variation. There is no discrepancy. What God said is no less the authoritative commandment of God after he spoke it, when it was repeated, before it was written, after it was written, before it was printed, after it was printed and when the reading of his commandments is heard by listeners. The saints in Christ are living in a time when many among them, as in the days of ancient Israel, so desperately and frantically seek after something, surely, anything that is flashier than words.

There is complete, total harmony and oneness from beginning to end from God himself, from Moses, from the prophets, from Jesus, from the apostles and the saints. This is the unity, oneness, true nature, characteristic and description of God who is one; not a quantitative, numeric value; as is his word so too is the Father, with the Son, with the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus accomplished his objective when the Jews articulated their response to these words of Jesus: I and the Father are one. (John 10:30) Specifically and technically as the text reads in English, (rest easy. we’re not going Greek) these four expressions in order, 1) I and the Father are one, 2) You . . . yourself out to be God, 3) You are gods, and 4) I am the Son of God spoken between the Jews and Jesus equate to and amount to the same thing. This is the clarification which Jesus reveals openly even if they no more understand him than they understand the scriptures.

the Word that came

These words from the psalmist were taken by Jesus to respond to that situation in which the Jews were ready to stone him. The application of these words was, on the surface, simple enough: if God called "gods" those (men and women) to whom the word of God came why are you (the Jews) so upset because I (Jesus) say, I am the Son of God? Unlike those to whom the word of God came, the word did not come to Jesus: He was the Word that came into the world that was with God and is God. (John 1) Ironically, the psalmist's words have come to be taken by some as a back paddling, denial or diminishing by Jesus himself of any semblance of self-claims of his deity as well as any mistaken claims concerning the deity of Jesus by his followers. Ostensibly, and perhaps arguably and for the sake of discussion, one could conclude that, 1) Jesus had misspoken some things about himself, or 2) that the Jews had misunderstood him. However, after stirring their minds concerning the scriptures and the meaning of what they read in those scriptures what follows in the passage debunks both of these conclusions.

The works

The fact is that the Jews had failed to understand the scripture. Jesus did not expound the theology of the text, but he held firmly to his assertion. What he did urge and direct them to examine for significance and understanding was the works which they had seen Jesus perform before their own eyes. These works were just as powerful as the scripture and capable of bringing them to faith in Jesus. The works were what the Father had given him to perform in order that they might believe in the one whom the Father had sent.

the prophet

There is another instance which serves as an example in which the Jews' revealed their misunderstanding of the scriptures. It was concerning what they had likely been taught by the scribes about the prophet (Deuteronomy 18) mentioned by Moses. The popular belief and expectation of that prophecy by Moses was reflected by the Jews. (John 6:14) They expected an individual who would fulfill that prophecy. This mistaken interpretation is just as common among Christians today. However, in the only two instances in which the Deuteronomy 18 reference to the prophet is found in the New Testament it is cited by Peter and Stephen in Acts 3 & 7 respectively. The references to the prophet in both passages are encompassed by Peter and Stephen's messages with_ the prophets. Note the specific use of the plural form. The Deuteronomy 18 passage on the prophet was a prophecy concerning the succession of servants of God; the prophets, whom God would raise up from among Israel’s brethren to send to Israel. They were to heed and obey these prophets as messengers of God as much as they heeded the words which Moses was given by God.

There is something interesting in Peter's response to Jesus in Matthew 16 as to the people's view concerning the identity of Jesus. Peter did not include the prophet of Deuteronomy 18 in that popular survey concerning the people's understanding of the identity of Jesus. Conversely, Jesus did not correct the Samaritan woman in John 4 when she stated that she perceived he was a prophet. However, Jesus was aware of that popular perception of himself as a prophet and he was quite willing to be cast along with the prophets who suffered, were despised and rejected, and without honor except in their own hometown.

what Jesus said, might have said, should have said, and what he did not say

There is much in our view of scripture, but so much of it centers on what Jesus might have or should have said and what he did not say. The problem with these approaches is that they reflect a test of God where not only do we presume to tell God to jump when we say jump in order for him to prove that he is mighty and that he is God or to tell him how high we want him to jump in order for us to believe beyond all doubt. This is the similar approach to the words, he called them gods.

There is the cry (it's hardly an argument) that Jesus DID NOT say he was God. He didn't jump when he could have and should have jumped if he really intended to prove to the Jews that he was indeed God. This is a play on the single word god with the intent to dilute and generalize it as conveying anything meaningful about the deity of Jesus. Yet, does anyone who plays that single word in that manner do likewise with the word lord? After all, it’s use is widespread in the Old Testament. Would anyone conclude therefore that the lord is not god? (caps being of no significance) If the word god was applied, as Jesus noted, to mortals to whom the word of God came would anyone conclude that there is no God, just mere mortal men and nothing more? These are rhetorical questions, but the reality is that the answers are often speculative questions themselves seemingly to create the impression that the questioner, especially when there are no responses to his questions, must certainly be right and definitely understands the subject in discussion.


What Jesus responded to the Jews when he quoted the psalmist was neither a denial of his deity nor a diminishing of his deity so as to calm down the enraged Jews. Today, some saints in Christ, like the Jews, struggle to understand both the works and words of Jesus and the scriptures. The only time that Jesus denied an accusation and responded to it immediately was when the Jews accused him of having a demon (John 8:49) and of doing works by the power of Satan. (Matthew 12:22-29) The Jewish misunderstanding of the scriptures which cannot be broken was indeed severed when it became a muddle of disjointed, piecemeal words of God without the unity that is the God who is one. We, the saints in Christ, have every opportunity to accept the challenge of the Spirit when we go to the scriptures for our understanding, edification and teaching.

Peace to the saints in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Sisters in Christ: Fulfilling the Ministry of Teaching and Preaching

two reasons

There are two reasons, one really, often given for not only the suppression of sisters in Christ to fulfill their ministry in preaching and teaching. There is the outright denial for them do so, also. The first reason on which all other reasons behind this dogma are rooted is in the Genesis account. The reason, according to proponents of this teaching, centers on 1) the order of creation, and 2) the woman sinned first.

The second related reason for this suppression and denial is essentially the same as the first reason. It is found in I Timothy 2 and is directly associated with and related to the Genesis account by the apostle Paul. Again, the argument from the I Timothy passage, proponents argue, is that the passage is clear enough and requires no interpretation. The apostle Paul conveyed to Timothy who was in Ephesus that he did not permit a woman to teach. Paul then proceeded to give two clear, specific reasons as to why he forbade women to teach, 1) Adam was created first, and 2) it was Eve who was deceived. The similarity between I Timothy 2 and the Genesis account is undeniable. It seems quite clear, right?

a third reason

A third reason is actually the response to any plausible explanations and suggestions concerning Paul's instructions in the light of his and Timothy's ministry under the shadow of the temple of Artemis in Ephesus to dismiss these as nonsense, irrelevant and unnecessary. The reason these are dismissed, proponents argue, is because Paul never mentions Artemis. This is quite true. However, this response also reflects an utter oversight and neglect of the one who did mention Artemis, namely, Luke in Acts 19. Yahweh was to the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea what Artemis was to the Gentiles in Ephesus and Asia. See the testimony of Demetrius in Acts 19 concerning the widespread presence and influence of Artemis. (The content of this article is covered in this lengthier article.

what the saints learn

Yet, the saints in Christ mostly embrace and parrot what those who lead, teach and preach and declare as dogma. There is no need for any substantive exposition of the scriptures or understanding for the edification of the saints. The teaching to the saints concerning our sisters in Christ is rooted more on male dominance than servanthood. One clear indicator of this is how teaching and preaching are equated with and viewed as synonymous with leadership. Such notions of dominance are unknown to a servant. Those who teach and preach are foremost called to be servants, specifically in the ministry of the word of the Lord. Furthermore, the tokenism that sisters in Christ can indeed teach and preach _ to other sisters has the same, familiar shade and ring of another time when black brothers in Christ, to say nothing of our sisters under that male-dominant fellowship of the saints, lived under the dire spoken and unspoken message that they, too could indeed preach and teach _ to other blacks only. There are three responses as to why these reasons are an insufficient explanation to the words of Jesus and Paul. My response to these explanations is in the following order: the second reason, then the first reason and the third reason last.

First, lets look at the response to the explanation of Artemis to the second reason that Paul's instructions to Timothy to forbid women from teaching are clear and require no interpretation. If this were an example of the right handling of the scriptures it ought to hold equally true of other equally clear texts. Here is one of those texts: Matthew 5. When was the last time you knew or heard of  someone who put out the eye that offended them? When was the last time you knew or heard of someone who cut off the hand that offended them? Of course, the point is that these very clear words of Jesus are invariably presented and taught with an explanation. Why? Is there something about the text of these words of Jesus which is not clear? The indication concerning Paul's words to Timothy, at the very least, is that while they may be quite clear they, like those words of Jesus, require an interpretation and explanation. It is hardly responsible to stake a case with the argument that Paul never mentioned Artemis and here is why such irresponsibility is suspect.

Just as it is true that the apostle Paul never mentioned Artemis in I Timothy and his other writings; Jesus never mentioned Rome in Matthew 24. This was the prophecy of Jesus concerning the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 AD. Those words of Jesus were just as much as the words of Paul a matter of salvation; the former concerning the physical salvation of the saints in Jerusalem, the latter concerning the spiritual salvation of the saints in Christ in Ephesus. Does the fact that Jesus did not mention Rome by name mean that the disciples were clueless as to what the words of Jesus might mean? How is that the saints are able to discern the political power in question, namely, Rome in Matthew 24, but seem so utterly clueless to discern the spiritual power in question, but clearly named by Luke in Acts 19 as Artemis in Ephesus? Now, with this very brief orientation on Artemis as a real factor in Paul's message and ministry and Ephesus in mind lets backtrack to the first of the two reasons on the order of creation and who sinned first.

Second, the explanation that Paul was reiterating a primer in I Timothy 1 on Jewish theology on the Genesis creation account for the Gentile saints in Christ may possibly have elicited a hearty amen from the Jews and a nice response from the Gentiles. However, Paul's mission was considerably more than eliciting hardy amens from his listeners. His mission was to debunk and dethrone the deception of Artemis before the Gentiles in Ephesus and throughout Asia and to that end what he wrote to Timothy would likely have resonated with the Gentiles as being in opposition to Artemis. They were familiar with and knew the claims of Artemis of being born first and then assisting her mother Leto give birth to her twin brother, Apollo. They were familiar with and knew the claims of Artemis as being the savior of women in childbirth. Contrast these claims of Artemis with Paul's words throughout his letters (five of six written to churches and individuals in Asia; six if Titus is included) concerning Jesus as the firstborn and the savior, not of women only, but of all mankind.

The following is an excerpt from my article, The belief of childbearing in I Timothy 2.

There are three elements Paul bears out concerning salvation and which focus exclusively on the woman: 1) the instruction (I do not permit a woman to teach), 2) the reason for the instruction ( FOR Adam was first formed . . . BUT the woman being deceived), and 3) the expected results from the instruction (BUT she will be saved through her childbearing). There is a another instance of an objective with a similar end result involving the salvation of a certain individual who became the focus of Paul's admonition in I Corinthians chapter five. Paul gave an instruction deliver such a one to Satan, (I Corinthians 5:5a) the reason for that instruction, for the destruction of his flesh, (I Corinthians 5:5b) and that his spirit may be saved. (I Corinthians 5:5c) The progression from point 1 to point 2 to point 3 in the I Timothy passage suggests these (instruction, reason for instruction and expected results from that instruction) are related and are inseparable. Any response to one part can not be done while disregarding or discarding the other two.

So, why did Paul, given the NT examples of obedience to the gospel message of salvation (a belief) through faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior state the expected results for points 1 & 2 in point 3 that the woman will be saved through her childbearing?

The apostle Paul's reference to the creation account would not be something with which his former pagan brethren would be familiar. What would definitely resonate with them was the references to firstborn and savior as these related to Artemis. They learned from Paul and Timothy that 1) not only were Adam and Eve NOT born, but they were CREATED, and 2) Jesus was FIRSTBORN, not from woman, but from the dead through the power of the RESURRECTION. (see Paul exposition on the Begotten from Psalm 2 in Acts 13)


The instruction of Paul concerning the silence of our sisters and to not permit them to teach can not be appraised without acknowledging the presence and influence of Artemis in Paul's ministry and message. Those sisters, priestesses particularly, who had emerged out of the cult of Artemis and had become disciples of Jesus as Savior could easily be mistaken for teaching a message of Artemis. It was simply not expedient for them to be teaching at the time. The time would come for them to join with their brothers in the fulfillment of their ministry in teaching and preaching. The instruction to them to learn quietly and to forbid them to not teach was no different than when the apostle himself was earlier in his travels and on the way to Ephesus was, not once, but twice forbidden to preach in north Asia by the Holy Spirit . Just as we do not see or read, but rightly understand, that the prohibition on Paul by the Holy Spirit was removed it is neither a stretch nor implausible to understand that the same was true of our sisters in Ephesus. Admittedly, the idea of being present with a sister teaching or preaching is not in my comfort zone, but heeding and proclaiming the word of God is not about what makes us or keeps us comfortable.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Image and Power

It is hard to look anywhere and not see it. It is seen from both the rich and the poor as well as from the school dropout and school graduate. It is a flexing, an exhibition, a taunting, a display, a flaunting. It may be through speech, actions or behavior. The sole purpose is to impress and shock through displays of image and power. It may be loud. It may be crass. It may be subtle. It may be manipulative. It may be forceful. It may be humorous. It may be violent. Image and power may even be, in this cyber age, virtual.

These two, image and power, as seen by the witting and the unwitting, the impressed and the shocked are not necessarily true, typically. These are not necessarily actual or substantive. These, whether or not it is intended, merely convey the desired effect on others what is the individual's desire and notion of image and power. These two are not necessarily mutually exclusive and even though I have presented these two separate from each other they are very much intertwined. If these appear as negatively cast in this article it is not because image and power are wrong or evil. Rather, it is because this is the reality of what has become corrupt. These facades of image and power are represented and assumed as though these were real.

the image of attire and body

What are some ways by which image is conveyed? Here are two of those ways. The image of abundance, of affluence or simply having a little more than just barely enough on which to live, may be displayed through the clothes one wears. It may be the expensive brand which speaks for itself or how the clothes are worn. Clothes may be worn to reveal, (such as underwear; more on that later) to form-fit the body so as to accent the physical shape or to reveal as much flesh as the wearer wishes to expose and to elicit arrest for indecency. Image, such as through clothes, is not necessarily what one wears, but how one wears what he or she wears.

The image of rebellion such as against parents or society may be conveyed, for example, through leather, metal spikes, chains, tattoos and more. However, rebellion can and is conveyed just as well through nothing more than an attitude, speech and behavior. Additions to one's attire such as these are intended to project the desired image of being bad, a hard case, a bad-ass, or the neutral non-commitment of indifference and apathy. After all, what could be cooler in the eyes of the witting and unwitting than to project the image that, I don't care? Isn't this the shallow, empty image message of sagging pants? The exposing of one's underwear is to simultaneously reveal to the witting and unwitting the individual's great, abysmal facade and farce of an image of power. So, unlike affluence and abundance, or their seeming presence in the person's life, the image of rebellion, by its very nature, is not likely to be closely associated with clothes as much as it is behavior.

the need for image and image change

America is a consumer-driven society. Don't like your image? We'll find one for you. We'll get you one. We'll make one for you. It is not in society's interest, and quite understandably, it is not the business of society, to redirect the new-image shopper back to square one. So, why do you need an image?

What if image didn't involve succumbing to peer pressure, seasonal, annual refurbishing or reinvention? How about if it were detached, removed and free of all association with gender and the clothes you wear? Does this sound like a ridiculous and preposterous notion in our consumer-driven society? Yet, image as a reality and a discussion point appears in the dialog of the Bible in the book of Genesis, that is, the book of beginnings. It is there that after the narrative relates how God created man it also notes that God created man, that is, mankind, man and woman, and MADE them in the image of God.

This image of God in the man and woman had nothing to do with gender.

The reason it had nothing to do with gender is because whatever the image of God might be, for the moment and for later discussion, it is definitely not related to the physical features which define the male and female body. In other words, any view of the image of God which fails to account for the differences in the human male and female body is less than true to the image of God. What does this say about image?

It says that image is as embedded and is as permanent and non-removable as is our human DNA code.

The deception of image to which Eve succumbed unwittingly was not unlike women, and men, today. She desired what was 1) pleasant to the eyes (it looked good), 2) it was good to eat (it was filling), and 3) it would make her wise, or proud (something to boast about).

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6, also I John 2:16)

The reason why anyone would feel they do not have an image, that they need an image or that they need to upgrade their image like something from the American tech mall is because they either 1) never knew they were born with an image, 2) they forgot they were born with an image, or 3) they rejected the truth of the image with which they were born. Knowledge nor acknowledgment of God is not a prerequisite for anyone to ponder this reality.

The impudence of blatant consumerism! The business of image has gone, in the vernacular of technology, from the hardware upgrades of attire to the software alterations of gender image in complete oblivion as to the ramifications. The desire for mistaken notions of image by women and men today is no different than Eve's complete oblivion to the ramifications of her disobedience. The embrace and allowable peddling of image by therapists and surgeons is akin to accepting without question the salesman's pitch for a new computer when a simple removal of temporary files would have improved speed and performance.

made in the image of God

What is it about the image of God which can not be found, will not be found and can not be made in the American tech mall? How could a believer who once knew the image of God forget it? Why would he or she reject the image of God? The salient point of the human response to these questions is as understandable as it is undeniable. For example, a Ford does not cease to be a Ford with a new paint job. swapping an icon or by calling it a Chevrolet. These things do not change the fact that it is a Ford which has been altered to look like a Chevrolet. It would not take much for even a casual observer to discern that despite all efforts and appearances the car is, in fact, a Ford. Amazingly enough, what holds true of a metal and plastic car holds equally true of a flesh and bones human being.

It is not as though altering one's image hurts anyone else, as is so often heard, but what is it and how is it then, that image can be obscured and overlooked in favor of an American mall-purchased image? How is it that the image of God, that is, love, in which God made the man and the woman and which is certainly not available or found in the shopping mall, has come to be obscured and overlooked? Simply but truthfully stated it is a matter of looking of acceptance and love in all the wrong places.

This love is not to be mistaken for being loving which God is that, too. What the scriptures reveal is that it was the will and purpose of God to make the man and woman with this same love. It was his will to imbue the man and the woman with his love. It was this love which it pleased God to see in the physical love affection between the man and woman; the husband and wife. It is the love of God and towards God which becomes a far greater reality between the man and the woman when they reclaim the image of God for themselves and towards all mankind through faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Love, not gender, is the image of God. Love is divine and not natural.

Love is greater than what is natural, that is, what is earthly. Love is not easy because it is not the mere appearance of image or a facade. It is, on the other hand, easier to alter and call something love than to submit to love itself. Love is two different persons, two different personalities, two different genders working diligently  over a lifetime together to go past their differences and to make and display the love and unity that is the God who is one. This is the mystery and marvel; that two different human beings strive to be one like God and with God. It is the mystery and marvel seen in the human interaction and relationship of marriage. The failure and shortfall of image is that it is a facade of what has been altered. There is no glory in deceiving or being deceived by an image of what is false. There is no lasting joy in facades.

the will of power and death

The flesh, Jesus said, is weak. The reason the flesh appears to exert its power over the spirit is not because the flesh is strong. It is not because the spirit is weak. It is because the spirit calls and waits for those who hear its call to come in obedience and submission without manipulation, compulsion or coercion. This is not the way of the flesh.

Power is, even more so than image, flexed and flaunted to create the desired effect; that is, to impress and shock the witting and unwitting. It is a visual, carnal spectacle. The visual nature of power and how it reveals itself in the flesh exposes, for example, the hunger of bankers, performers, athletes and others for power. The carnal desire for power is not unlike the carnal desire for image: Eve desired what was 1) pleasant to the eyes (it looked good), 2) good to eat (it was filling), and 3) would make her wise, or proud (something to boast about).

Carnal, as in, carnival. Originally, carnival, literally, a farewell to meat, was the celebration and joy of meat and drink before the beginning of the days of fasting from meat and drink. Carnal is used in the scriptures in the representative, or symbolic sense, for what is opposed to the spirit, the Holy Spirit or a mind set on the things of this world.

This power is no more real or substantive than the image much desired and pursued by some. It is loud. It is the brash, crass, crude, rude, vulgar and a bravado of defiance in the song playing, in the workplace exchange, and even as is often displayed, between the bond of husband and wife. Children in such families are often nothing more than insignificant collateral casualties to obscenities and vulgarities. Crassness and vulgarities which were at one time indicators that the power of physical aggression was soon to follow are the stuff of casual exchanges as much between friends as between lovers. Some of the devices of power, in addition to words, of those who seek power include weapons to hurt,  maim or kill stranger, friend or family alike.

The quest for power is as old as the quest for image. The irony and the travesty of the events in the Garden of Eden is that by forgetting, neglecting and dismissing for one brief moment the image in which they were made, Eve and Adam corrupted their image. While they were obedient there was nothing to fear. There was no power over them. Yet, in the aftermath of their disobedience the immediate result was, as God himself stated, that the man and the woman had become like God knowing good and evil. However, the price they paid was heavy. The price was they acquired the association of power, but it was not to serve them. It was to lord it over them. The power was death.

Those who believe they are powerful because they have power never realize and never ask themselves what is that vague, remote sense of awareness in their minds: What is the fear from which this false notion of power delivers them? What is the ultimate power from which this false power can deliver them? The lust and hunger for image and power in the unwitting Eve and Adam was that their confidence before the Lord was lost. They covered their nakedness as a result.

the power of God

The truth is the power of the flesh with all its bravado, violence, trash talk, weapons and devices may fend off momentarily the assault, but death will have the last word over those who crave and thought they had power in those false images of power. What is the purpose of an image which alters or conceals one's true identity? Why does one have a need to conceal their true identity? What is the purpose of power which is exerted over others? Is it not because they lack the power and confidence to face and confront what they fear?

Death is the great equalizer. It is the sobering agent for those who are drunk with mistaken notions of image and power. The power of death is, not unlike the image in which God made man and woman, as undeniable and non-removable. What is one to do when they come to the realization of the deceptive futility of image and power? This is the beginning, the genesis, where one examines closely the claims and fulfillment of the message of Jesus concerning his own death, burial and resurrection.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 

15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Hebrews 2:14, 15)

The message (note the reference to power and the past tense of death) of this love of God, the apostle Paul wrote, is the power of God. More specifically and literally, the apostle Paul stated that the message of the gospel is the dynamite, (δύναμις, dunamis) , the power of God. The gospel has the explosive potential to transform the fearful and powerless into the image of God through the power of the gospel and the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer. Be of good cheer.