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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:

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)

conclusion

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.