Showing posts with label #Advent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #Advent. Show all posts

Word!

by K.W. Leslie, 22 December

John 1.1-5.

Many Christians are fascinated by the word “word.” Mostly ’cause of the following passage. It tends to get translated into past-tense verbs, but the aorist verb tense has no time; it’s neither past, present, nor future, but just is. So without other past-tense verbs to set that context for it, I just go with present tense.

John 1.1-5 KWL
1 The word’s in the beginning.
The word’s with God.
The word is God.
2 He’s in the beginning with God.
3 Everything came to be through the word.
Nothing that exists came to be without him.
4 What came to be through him, is life.
Life’s the light of humanity.
5 Light shines in darkness,
and darkness can’t get hold of it.

“The word” John speaks of, existed in the very beginning, is with God, and is God. And around 7BC became the man we know as Christ Jesus of Nazareth.

Why’d the author of John (whom, for tradition’s sake, let’s call St. John) use “word” to describe the pre-incarnate Jesus? For centuries, the assumption was λόγος/lógos came from Greek philosophy. Blame the gentiles: The early church’s writers didn’t know what the Pharisees taught, but they did know Greek philosophy, and insisted on interpreting bible through the lens of their own culture. Christians still do the very same thing today… but that’s a whole other rant. Let’s get back to criticizing ancient Christian gentiles.

Just our luck, ancient Greek philosophers had written a whole bunch of navel-gazing gibberish about the word lógos. ’Cause they were exploring the nature of truth: What is it, how do we find it, how do we prove it, how do we recognize logical fallacies, and what’s the deal with words which can mean more than one thing? For that matter, what’s a “word” anyway? Is it just a label for a thing, or a substantial thing on its own? Maybe that’s why God can create things by merely saying a word. Ge 1.3

And so on. Follow their intellectual rabbit trails, and you’ll go all sorts of weird, gnostic directions. Which is exactly what gentile Christians did.

Now let’s practice some actual logic, and look for once at John’s culture. What’d Pharisees teach about what “word” means? Apparently they had their own interesting ideas behind it.

Heretics won’t believe the incarnation.

by K.W. Leslie, 20 December

1 John 4.1-6.

From time to time Christians ask me how I know whether someone’s an on-the-level Christian, or whether they’re a phony, a heretic, a hypocrite, or just generally on the wrong track. For two reasons, usually:

  • They honestly don’t know. And these guys make them nervous… and somehow I don’t, which is odd, but whatever. They’ve decided they can trust me enough to pick my brain.
  • They not-so-honestly do know, or think they know. So this is a test to see whether I believe as they do, and whether I can be trusted.

Let’s set the dishonest folks aside. The reason Christians get so nervous about heretics and wayward Christians is because most of ’em think if they follow the wrong guy, their salvation is in jeopardy. And they’re not wrong. They should be following Jesus!

Frequently I point ’em to 1 John. It’s a letter full of good commonsense advice about living in a fallen world, including a world full of Christians gone corrupt, ’cause that’s exactly what John had to deal with when he ran the church of Ephesus: Gnostics and heretics and antichrists. People who were trying to pull away some of the Christians of his church, who knew better but need a little reminding and a little encouraging.

“Spot the heretic” isn’t a complicated game when we know what Christians oughta believe. Problem is, so many of us know nothing. Or we’re looking for the wrong thing: We’re being very very careful to remain orthodox, or at least carefully conform to popular Christian culture. But in so doing, we’re not looking out for what Jesus warns us time and again to watch out for: Bad fruit.

So often, I’ve heard ignorant Christians say of fruitless, jerklike leaders, “But they believe all the right things.” They seem to have all their theological ducks in a row, so it’s okay that they’ve created little cults where you’re never allowed to ask them questions, nor be disloyal to them—as if our loyalty belongs to anyone but Christ Jesus alone.

Yeah, on the other extreme people will follow heretics because they’re such nice people. Because they’ve confused niceness with rightness. They’re not the same thing. My friendly waiter might never wash her hands; friendly or not, she’s wrong. As would I be if I decided to tip her with a tract instead of money.

But fruit counts. And orthodoxy counts. Christians oughta have both. Good works and faith in God. Obedience to Jesus’s commands and compassion and mercy and grace for those who flub those commands. John wrote about both. Read the letter sometime, and learn the importance of both.

Today’s passage focuses mainly on orthodoxy, but I figured I should first remind you both fruit and orthodoxy are important, lest you get the idea it’s just orthodoxy. You might also notice a little bit of good fruit comes up in this passage too. And of course Jesus’s incarnation—which is why I flagged it as a scripture for Advent.

1 John 4.1-6 KWL
1 Beloved, don’t believe every spirit!
Instead examine whether the spirits are from God,
because many fake prophets have gone forth into the world.
2 This is how you know God’s spirit: Every spirit is from God
who acknowledges Christ Jesus came in the flesh.
3 Every spirit is not from God
who doesn’t acknowledge Jesus is even from God.
And this behavior is of antichrist,
which you heard “is coming”: It’s already in the world. Now.
4 You children are from God, and you conquered them,
because the One in you is greater than what’s in the world.
5 They’re from the world, which is why they speak from the world,
and the world heeds them.
6 We’re from God. One who knows God heeds us.
One who’s not from God doesn’t heed us.
From this we identify the truthful spirit, and the erroneous spirit.

When the fullness of time came, God sent his Son.

by K.W. Leslie, 15 December

Galatians 4.1-5.

There’s a verse in the bible about how “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” Ga 4.5 KJV Christians like to quote it ’cause it references the birth of Christ Jesus, the first coming of Jesus. It’s an advent scripture.

In context there’s a lot more to unpack, so I’ll unpack it. First the passage:

Galatians 4.1-5 KWL
1 I say for as long as heirs are children,
all of them are nothing more than a master’s slaves.
2 Instead they’re placed under nannies and butlers
until the father’s appointed time.
3 Likewise us. When we’re children, learning the basics of the universe,
we’re like slaves.
4 When the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son,
birthed by a woman, birthed under the Law,
5 so he might redeem the Law,
so we might receive God’s adoption.

It’s used as a proof text for the incarnation, but it’s not actually about incarnation. It’s part of Paul’s explanation about the Christian’s relationship to the Law of Moses. As Paul regularly taught, the Law is a schoolmaster: It teaches us the difference between following God, between rightness and righteousness, and sin.

But now that Christ Jesus has come, we follow him, not the Law.

Not that the Law’s irrelevant! Nor nullified. But our relationship is with Jesus, so we follow Jesus. We’re saved by Jesus’s self-sacrifice and God’s grace, not the Law.

Foreknown before the world was founded.

by K.W. Leslie, 13 December

1 Peter 1.17-21.

God doesn’t have two wills, but he’s always had two plans, and they’re no secret. Plan A is that we follow him, do what’s right, love God and our neighbor, and live with him in his kingdom. Plan B, the one which has to get implemented far too often, is that we totally botch the job of following him, so he has to forgive us and give us yet another chance to follow plan A.

1 John 2.1-2 KJV
1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

When God created us humans, our sin didn’t blindside him. None of our sins make him throw up his hands and say, “Well I can’t fix that.” He already had plan B in mind; he already knew how he was gonna fix everything. He knew how to crush the serpent’s head. He’d become human and atone for our sins himself. That’s why our sins don’t drive him away, and never have. Jesus took ’em out. For all time, all of human history; from Adam and Eve’s sins, to Moses and the ancient Hebrews, to the apostles and the people of Jesus’s day, to ours, to our descendants’. There is no dispensation where Jesus’s atonement doesn’t yet apply. Because God always foreknew it.

The apostles knew this, which is why they regularly wrote of Christ Jesus being foreknown—that long before he did anything, the LORD knew Jesus would accomplish it, and acted as if it’s already done. God fills all of time, and from his eternal perspective, it is already done. He’s not just speculating about what might happen someday; he’s there, at that point in history, observing it in real time. It’s not guesswork. It’s certainty. He knows it—and because he knows it millennia before we do, we say he foreknows it, but that’s just a fancier way of saying he knows it.

Hence all the Old Testament’s prophecies of a coming Messiah, and what he’d do. Because the LORD already knew it, and was just telling the rest of us about his wonderful plans to save us.

1 Peter 1.17-21 KWL
17 If you call upon the Father,
who impartially judges us by each person’s work,
one who sojourns for a time among you must live in godly fear,
18 knowing no perishable thing, no silver nor gold,
frees you from your empty lifestyle nor heritage.
19 Instead, like that of a spotless lamb,
it’s the valuable blood of a blameless Christ.
20 Foreknown—really, from the foundation of the world—
and revealed to you all at the last times.
21 Faithful to God, by whom he was raised from death,
who gave glory to him,
so that your faith and hope are to be in God.

And here Simon Peter reminds the churches of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia about how our good works, though important, don’t save us and don’t establish our individual relationships with God. Christ Jesus does. Don’t put the cart before the horse; our relationships are entirely because Jesus died for us, and therefore we can call upon the Father, and he can empower us to do good works. The cart’s the works. The driving force is Christ.

It’s a lesson we Christians regularly need to be reminded of, ’cause it’s so easy to take pride in our good deeds, and think they’re what make us righteous. They don’t. Faith and hope in God do.

The Carmen Christi: When Jesus made himself nothing.

by K.W. Leslie, 10 December

Philippians 2.5-11.

Many scholars and historians think this part of Philippians is actually a hymn sung by ancient Christians. Possibly composed by someone other than Paul, and Paul was only quoting it when he and Timothy wrote Philippians. But if this isn’t the case, it nonetheless became an ancient Christian hymn, known in Latin as the Carmen Christi/“Christ hymn.”

In it Paul and Timothy told (or reminded) the Philippians that God became human, died for us, and will be exalted at his coming. “Christ Jesus is Lord,” to the glory of God the Father.

I really like the way the International Standard Version translated it, ’cause they made it rhyme. (It used to have a proper rhythm too. It doesn’t now, ’cause when they updated it, they swapped out “Christ” for “Messiah”—which means the very same thing, but whatever. I prefer the old meter, so I swapped it back in verse 11.)

Philippians 2.5-11 ISV
5 Have the same attitude among yourselves that was also in the Messiah Jesus:
 
6 In God’s own form existed he,
and shared with God equality,
deemed nothing needed grasping.
7 Instead, poured out in emptiness,
a servant’s form did he possess,
a mortal man becoming.
In human form he chose to be,
8 and lived in all humility,
death on a cross obeying.
9 Now lifted up by God to heaven,
a name above all others given,
this matchless name possessing.
10 And so, when Jesus’ name is called,
the knees of everyone should fall,
wherever they’re residing.
11 Then every tongue in one accord,
will say that Jesus Christ is Lord,
while God the Father praising.

This passage comes right after Paul instructed the Christians of Filippi, Greece, to work together. Not in competition—not even “healthy competition”—but submissively, taking others into consideration instead of looking out for number one. And as an example of submission, of working with people instead of against ’em, here’s Christ Jesus—who does it par excellence.

Christ Jesus’s attitude is that love takes priority over power, so he divested himself of that power and became human, out of his love for us. Therefore we likewise should prioritize others.

The ikon of the invisible God.

by K.W. Leslie, 07 December

Colossians 1.15-20.

The apostles often dictated their letters, as you can tell from their big run-on sentences. This’d be one of them. I broke it up into sentences, as do most interpreters, but really it’s just one big eulogy Paul and Timothy wrote as they were greeting the Christians of Colossae, Phrygia Pacatiana (now ruins outside Honaz, Turkey).

In so doing they described how they thought of Christ, the Son of God. They identify they’re talking about the beloved Son in Colossians 1.13, then go into greater detail about who this Son really is: Ikon of God, firstborn of creation, through whom God created matter and power; firstborn from the dead, so he could be firstborn of everything; leader of the church, fully containing God within himself, reconciling all creation to God.

It’s a pretty cosmic description for a Nazarene handyman-turned-schoolteacher. But that’s our Jesus.

Colossians 1.15-20 KWL
15 The Son is the ikon of the invisible God,
firstborn of every creature,
16 so that by the Son everything in the heavens and on the earth is created,
the visible and the invisible (thrones, dominions, chiefdoms, or powers)
—everything was built through him and by him.
17 The Son is above everything,
and everything holds together because of him.
18 The Son is the head of the church’s body.
The Son is first.
Firstborn from the dead,
so that he might take first place in everything.
19 Because God is pleased in all fullness to dwell in the Son,
20 and by the Son reconcile everything to him,
making peace through him by the blood of his cross,
whether with things on the earth or things in the heavens.

The living word. Whom the apostles have seen.

by K.W. Leslie, 01 December

1 John 1.1-4.

Just as John introduced his gospel by pointing to the Word who became human, Jn 1.1-5 he also introduced his first letter by pointing to the living Word again. The Word who’s with God and is God, Jn 1.1 the Word who created everything in the cosmos, Jn 1.3 but specifically the Word who’s in the beginning. Jn 1.2 This is the person John proclaims, and writes about, to the recipients of his letter.

Some have argued John’s really writing about the Father. After all, the Father’s there in the beginning. But John wrote this person is with the Father, 1Jn 1.2 so he’s clearly not the Father. He’s a different person. So… which other person was with the Father in the beginning? Well there’s the Holy Spirit… but nah, John’s writing about Christ Jesus.

Yeah John doesn’t come right out and bluntly say he’s writing about Jesus. But did he really have to? Are we that dense? Well… maybe those of us who insist John’s writing about the Father. Everybody else, who isn’t trying to be contrary for contrariness’ sake, should have no trouble recognizing who John meant.

1 John 1.1-4 KWL
1 About the living word: He’s in the beginning.
We saw him with our eyes. We saw him up close and our hands touched him.
2 He revealed life. We saw it, witnessed it, and report it to you:
The life of the age to come which is with the Father, revealed to us.
3 We saw it, heard it, and report it to you all, so you can also have a relationship with us—
and our relationship is with the Father and with his son, Christ Jesus.
4 We write these things so our joy might be full.

Scriptures for advent.

by K.W. Leslie, 30 November

Each advent season I focus on scriptures which are related to advent topics. Namely Jesus’s first coming, and his second. So expect to see some such articles… but if you can’t wait that long, here’s some stuff I’ve written already.

Nativity stories.

Word! Jn 1.1-5 Why identifying Jesus as “the word” was so profound to the first Christians.
Recognizing and embracing the light of the world. Jn 1.1-13 The true light came into the world—and we get to see him.
The word became human, and explains God. Jn 1.14-18 Getting a really good look at God through Jesus.
One heck of a birth announcement. Lk 1.5-25 Gabriel’s announcement to the father of John the baptist.
How Mary became Jesus’s mother. Lk 1.26-38 What sort of person God selected as his mother.
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. Lk 1.39-56 When Jesus’s mother and John’s mother both prophesied about his coming.
The birth of John the baptist. Lk 1.57-80 And his father’s prophecy about just what sort of man he’d be.
How Joseph became Jesus’s father. Mt 1.18-25 Not foster father; adoptive father. God commissioned Joseph to raise his Son.
Christ the Savior is born. Lk 2.1-7 The political circumstances at the time Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
The sheep-herders’ vision of the angels. Lk 2.8-20 Jesus came to save everyone. Here, some of the everyone hear the good news.
The prophets who recognized Jesus. Lk 2.21-40 In temple, two prophets confirm who Jesus is to his parents.
The magi and the monstrous king. Mt 2.1-18 When word got out Messiah had been born, people died.

Messianic prophecies. (Or not.)

The first prophecy of a savior. Ge 3.14-15 After humanity messed up the universe, God indicated he has a plan to fix it.
The star coming out of Jacob. Nu 24.17 Centuries before Israel had a king, Balám predicted one.
The prophet like Moses. Dt 18.15-19. Moses spoke of prophets in general, but this particularly applies to Jesus.
The heir to David’s throne. 2Sa 7.1-17 The LORD told David his throne would last forever. In Jesus, it does.
Not allowed to rot. Ps 16.10 Jesus wasn’t in the grave long enough to rot… which resembles a line in a psalm.
Messiah and Melchizedek. Ps 110.4 How God’s chosen king is like this obscure ancient gentile king.
Jesus, our Immanuel. Is 7.14 How Jesus is like a prophecy about an oddly-named little boy.
The Son who was given us. Is 9.6-7 As disaster drew near to 8th-century BC Israel, Isaiah foretold a Messiah who’d set everything right.
One who brings justice to the gentiles. Is 42.1-4, Mt 12.14-20 A passage Jesus fulfilled—which is about Israel, but Jesus actually does it.
Plucking Jesus’s beard. Or not. Is 50.6 In stories of Jesus’s passion, we regularly hear of people tearing out his beard. It’s not in the gospels; it’s in Isaiah—and he’s speaking of himself.
Our suffering servant. Is 53 ’Cause usually people try to conquer the world by defeating others, not by suffering.
Rachel weeping for her children. Jr 31.15-17 The destruction of Ramáh is a lot like when Herod massacred Bethlehem’s children.
The Son of Man. Da 7.13-14 Jesus’s favorite description of himself comes from a Danielic vision.
“Out of Egypt I called my Son.” Ho 11.1 How fulfillment isn’t the same as a prediction coming to pass.
Christ is born in Bethlehem. Mc 5.1-4 Why the scholars figured Messiah came from that little town.
Is there a prophecy of Jesus’s hometown? Mt 2.23 No; it’s wordplay. But wordplay can be a type of fulfillment.

The second advent.

The Son of Man’s returning. And everyone will see it. Mt 24.23-28 It won’t be any secret rapture; it won’t happen quitely in some obscure corner of the world; it won’t be something only Christians can see.
Jesus describes his second coming. Mk 13.24-27 After Jesus describes the great tribulation, he talks about his return.
When is Jesus returning? Mk 13.32-37 Jesus didn’t say. So watch out for his return.
The Five Stupid Teenagers Story. Mt 25.1-15 Don’t get tricked into missing the second coming.
The Lambs and Kids Story. Mt 25.31-46 Those who are headed for the kingdom are already acting as if they’re in it.
The Talents Story. Mt 25.13-30 What’re we doing with our king’s investments in our lives?
The Wheat and Darnel Story. Mt 13.24-30, 13.36-43 Till the second coming, we gotta put up with the weeds.
When Jesus got raptured. Ac 1.6-11 What goes up must come down.
Apostasy before the second coming. 2Th 2.1-12 Before Jesus returns, there’ll be a lawbreaker running amok.
Set your hearts for Jesus’s return. Jm 5.7-8 The End takes place on Jesus’s timetable, not ours.
No, seriously: When’s Jesus returning? He’s taking forever! 2Pe 3.1-9 I know; it’s been 20 centuries. Don’t give up hope.

There’s a nice pile of reading material there. More to come.

Advent Sunday.

by K.W. Leslie, 28 November

Four Sundays before Christmas, the advent season begins with Advent Sunday. That’d be today, 28 November 2021. (Next year it’ll be 27 November. It moves.)

The word advent comes from the Latin advenire/“come to [someplace].” Who’s coming to where? That’d be Jesus, formally coming to earth. We’re not talking about his frequent appearances here and there, but the formal appearances: Either the first time around, when he was born in the year 7BC, which is what we celebrate with Christmas; or the second time around, in the future, to take possession of his kingdom.

Historically this has been the time for Christians to get ready for his coming. Which we do for his first coming, by getting ready for Christmas. But Christians, Evangelicals in particular, forget it’s also about getting ready for his second coming. We might tell ourselves we oughta always be ready for that event—and we oughta!—but advent’s when we particularly pay attention to the idea. He’s coming back, y’know. Could happen at any time.

Since Evangelicals have kinda lost sight of this tradition, or figure it’s a Catholic thing (as if Roman Catholics don’t likewise lose sight of this tradition), we kinda let popular culture redefine the season for us. And of course they prefer to promote Mammonism. Gotta buy stuff for Christmas! Gotta shop. Advent gets reduced to the advent calendars (which count down from 1 December instead of the ever-changing date of Advent Sunday) and the daily treat you get from the calendar each day before Christmas. I prefer chocolate, and I know a growing number of alcoholics who prefer wine. But because manufacturers don’t care to change the product every year, we get 25-day advent calendars even though this year there are 28 days. They owe us three chocolates!

But this is what happens when we let Mammonists define the Christmas season: Wrong focus and attitude, more humbug and hypocrisy, more Santa Claus and reindeer and snowmen, and less Jesus and good fruit and hope.

So ditch the secular “holiday season” and let’s celebrate advent. Joy to the world: The Lord is come!

The Five Stupid Teenagers Story.

by K.W. Leslie, 25 October

Matthew 25.1-13.

The Five Stupid Teenagers Story is also called the parable of the virgins, of the maidens, of the bridesmaids; of the wise and foolish virgins, or of the 10 virgins. Usually they’re called virgins ’cause that’s traditionally how people have translated παρθένοις/parthénis: A girl, or unmarried woman, and women back then used to marry mighty young. Like as soon as they attained legal adulthood, so 13 years old. Since they were unmarried, the usual assumption is in that culture they’d be virgins, which is a reasonable assumption. But parthénos was sometimes used in Greek literature to describe young women who weren’t virgins, like in the plays of Sophocles and Aristophanes.

Maiden is alternately used to describe them, but maiden historically means the same thing as virgin. And in either case I’m not sure Jesus’s point had anything to do with their virginity nor marital status. More like with their youth. You know how some kids can be wise and clever, and some kinda dense and foolish? And how some kids can sometimes be one and sometimes the other? So, that.

So my translation focuses on their age as well: These are young teenagers, old enough to be responsible for themselves, but not all of ’em were necessarily mature enough. Kinda like Jesus’s own students. Kinda like newbie Christians.

Like all Jesus’s parables, this story’s about his kingdom, and since it’s part of his Olivet Discourse he’s talking about his second coming. Unlike dark Christian interpretations which are all about doom, tribulation, death, and hellfire, Jesus’s parables are about encouragement: He’s not returning to destroy the world, but save it. Get ready to join his entourage! Otherwise you’ll miss out on the fun parts.

We don’t know when Jesus is returning, and he instructs his kids more than once to stay awake and be prepared. This is one of those times. Dark Christians insist it’s about missing the rapture and going to hell. But the stakes are nowhere near that high in Jesus’s story.

Matthew 25.1-13 KWL
1 “Then heaven’s kingdom will be like 10 teenagers
who come out to meet the husband, bringing their own lamps.
2 Five of them are morons, and five wise,
3 for the morons who bring their lamps don’t bring oil with them.
4 The wise teens bring oil in flasks, with their lamps.
5 During the husband’s delay, all the teens fall asleep, and sleep.
6 In the middle of the night, a loud voice came:
‘Look, the husband! Come to meet him!’
7 Then all those teenagers rise and get their own lamps ready—
8 and the morons tell the wise teens, ‘Give us some of your oil,
because our lamps are out.’
9 In reply the wise teens were saying, ‘Likely there’s not enough for us and you.
Instead go to the oil-sellers and buy your own!’
10 And as they went away to buy, the husband comes,
and those who were ready, enter the marriage feast with him.
He closes the door.
11 Later, the remaining teenagers also come to the door,
saying, ‘Sir, sir, open it for us.’
12 In reply the husband says, ‘Amen, I promise you, I don’t know you.’
13 So be awake—because you don’t know the day nor the hour.”

The Wheat and Darnel Story.

by K.W. Leslie, 20 December

Matthew 13.24-30, 13.36-43

Elsewhere in Matthew Jesus tells a story often called the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, from the word tares used in the King James Version to translate ζιζάνια/zidzánia, “darnel.” It’s a specific weed, Lolium temulentum, frequently called “false wheat.”

In ancient times darnel was constantly found in wheat fields. Some darnel always got mixed up with the wheat during the harvest, and it wasn’t until we invented separating machines that people finally got the darnel problem under control. Darnel looks just like wheat when it’s growing… but once the ears appear, any farmer will realize it’s not wheat at all. When they ripen, wheat turns brown and darnel turns black.

If it’s harmless, why did the ancients make a big deal about darnel? Because darnel is very susceptible to Neotyphodium funguses, and if you ate any infected darnel, the symptoms were nausea and a little drunkenness. (The temulentum in darnel’s scientific name means “drunk.”) And of course it might kill you. Hence people sometimes refer to darnel as poison.

So Jesus’s audience realized the serious problem these specific weeds posed. The rest of us, who only read “tares” or “weeds” in our bibles, not so much. Weeds are inconvenient, and use the water meant for our crops, but otherwise they sound kinda harmless, and it should be easy to sort them out, right? Um… not so much with darnel. And not so harmless.

Matthew 13.24-30 KWL
24 Jesus set this idea before his students,
saying, “Heaven’s kingdom is like a person scattering good seed in his field.
25 During his slaves’ sleep, his enemy came,
scattered darnel in the middle of the grain, and left.
26 When the shoots sprouted and bore fruit, then the darnel also appeared.
27 Going to him, the householder’s slaves told him,
‘Master, didn’t you scatter good seed in your field? So where’d the darnel come from?’
28 The master told them, ‘This was done by a person—an enemy.’
The slaves told him, ‘So do you want us to maybe pull them up?’
29 The master said, ‘No, lest pulling the darnel up uproots the grain together with it.
30 Allow them to both grow together till harvest.
At harvest time I will tell the harvesters, “Pull up the darnel first.
Bundle them into bundles for them to be burnt up.
Get the grain into my granary.” ’ ”

Later in the chapter, Jesus interprets his own story for his students. They really should’ve been able to interpret this story without his explanation—and probably did, but just wanted him to confirm their conclusions. I’ll get to that later.

The Lambs and Kids Story.

by K.W. Leslie, 13 December

Matthew 25.31-46.

The next story in Jesus’s Olivet Discourse, where he taught his students about the End Times, is usually called the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. It all comes from verses 32-33, in which Jesus compares the division of humanity into camps of righteous and reprobate, like a shepherd segregating his flock by species: Lambs on one side, kids on the other. One group to get shorn, one to get milked. Or in this case, one group to go one way, the other to go another.

This story terrifies legalists. Because outside the proper context of God’s grace, it looks like you get into God’s kingdom entirely on merit. You do for Jesus—or, as Jesus puts it, you do for the very lowest of the people he identifies with, which is all the same to him—and you inherit his kingdom. Or you don’t, so you go to hell. So get cracking! Start feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, reforming the prison and healthcare system, and otherwise fixing society!

Wait, is that what legalists do? Nah. Usually they’re too busy getting all paranoid about the rules they designated for themselves, or their cult leaders assigned them. Doing for society?—they don’t. Or they interpret “one of the least of these my brethren” Mt 25.40 KJV as only meaning fellow Christians—or, if they wanna get strict about it, only meaning members of their churches; or if even stricter, only church members of good standing. The stricter you get, the less you gotta love your neighbors. Funny how that works.

More often, Christians just ignore this passage altogether. We figure we’re saved by grace (which we are), but this passage sounds like we’re saved by good works. And we’re not. We know we’re not. We know that we know that we KNOW we’re not. So whatever this passage means, it can’t mean that… and we’re fine with not really knowing what it’s about, so we skip it. Unless we wanna terrify pagans with it.

Of course you realize I’m gonna apply historical context to it, and explain what it’d mean to Jesus’s students who heard it, and point out how entirely consistent it is with God’s grace. Probably to the degree it’ll outrage many a legalist Christian. But whatever. Let’s begin with my translation, and if you wanna compare it with other translations be my guest. I don’t think mine is far different.

Matthew 25.31-46 KWL
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, all the angels with him,
he’ll then sit on his glorious throne
32 and every nation on earth will be gathered together before him.
He separates them like a shepherd, lambs from kids,
33 and will place the lambs at his right, and the kids at his left.
34 The King will then tell those at his right:
‘Come, you who’ve been blessed by my Father!
Inherit the kingdom, prepared for you from the world’s foundation!
35 For I hunger and you feed me. Thirst and you water me.
A foreigner and you include me. 36 Naked and you clothe me.
Weak and you look out for me. Imprisoned and you come to me.’
37 In reply the righteous lambs will then say, ‘Master?
When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and water you?
38 When did we see you a foreigner and include you, or naked and clothe you?
39 When did we see you weak and imprisoned and come to you?’
40 In reply the King will tell them, ‘Amen! I promise you:
Whatever you do for one of the lowest of these people in my family, you do for me.’
 
41 The King then says to those at his left:
‘Get away from me, you damned people!
Go to the fire of the age, prepared for the devil and its angels!
42 For I hunger and you don’t feed me. Thirst and you don’t water me.
43 A foreigner and you don’t include me. Naked and you don’t clothe me.
Weak and imprisoned and you don’t look out for me.’
44 In reply the kids will say, ‘Master?
When did we see you hungry, thirsty, a foreigner, naked, weak, or imprisoned, and not serve you?’
45 In reply the King will tell them, ‘Amen! I promise you:
Whatever you don’t do for one of the lowest of these, you neither do for me.’
46 These people will go to the correction of the age to come.
The righteous, to life in the age to come.”

The Textus Receptus added the word ἅγιοι/áyiï, “holy,” to verse 31, which is why the King James has “holy angels” instead of just “angels.” As if Jesus would bring unholy angels with him. But whatever.

The Talents Story.

by K.W. Leslie, 07 December

Matthew 25.13-30.

Nowadays when we say talent we mean a special ability; something one can do which most others can’t. The word evolved to mean that, but in ancient Greek a τάλαντον/tálanton meant either a moneychanger’s scale, or the maximum weight you put on that scale. Usually of silver. Sometimes gold… but if the text doesn’t say which metal they’re weighing, just assume it’s silver.

Talents varied from nation to nation, province to province. When Jesus spoke of talents, he meant the Babylonian talent (Hebrew כִּכָּר/khikhár, which literally means “loaf,” i.e. a big slab of silver). That’d be 30.2 kilograms, or 66.56 pounds. Jews actually had two talents: A “light talent,” the usual talent; and a “heavy talent” or “royal talent” which weighed twice as much. But again: Unless the text says it’s the heavy talent, assume it’s the light one. And of course the Greeks and Romans had their own talents: The Roman was 32.3 kilos and the Greek was 26.

Using 2020 silver rates, a Babylonian talent is $30,200. So yeah, it’s a lot of money. Especially considering you could get away with paying the poor a denarius (worth $3.51) per day. Mt 20.2

When Jesus shared parables about his second coming, he told this story about a master with three slaves, each of whom was given a big bag of silver to supervise. And Jesus compared their experience to what our Master kinda expects of his followers once he returns.

Matthew 25.13-30 KWL
13 “So wake up!—you don’t know the day nor hour.
14 For it’s like a person going abroad:
He calls his slaves to himself, and hands them his belongings.
15 He gives one five talents [$151,000]
and one two [$60,400] and one one [$30,200]
—each according to their own ability. He went abroad.
16 The slave who got five talents went to work on them, and made another five.
17 Likewise the slave with two talents made another two.
18 The slave who got one talent burrowed in the ground
and hid his master’s silver.
19 After a long time, the master came to these slaves
to have a word with them.
20 At the master’s coming, the slave who got five talents
brought another five talents,
saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me.
Look! I made another five talents.’
21 His master told him, ‘Great! My good, trustworthy slave,
you’re trustworthy over a little, and I will put you in charge of much.
Come into your master’s joy.’
22 At the master’s coming, the slave who got two talents
said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me.
Look! I made another two talents.’
23 His master told him, ‘Great! My good, trustworthy slave,
you’re trustworthy over a little, and I will put you in charge of much.
Come into your master’s joy.’
24 At the master’s coming, the slave who got one talent
said, ‘Master, I’ve come to know you as a hard person,
harvesting where you don’t plant, gathering from where you don’t scatter.
25 Fearfully going away, I hid your talent in the ground.
Look! You have what’s yours.’
26 In reply his master told him, ‘My useless, lazy slave,
you figured I harvest where I don’t plant and gather from where I don’t scatter?
27 Therefore you needed to put my silver with the loan sharks!
At my coming I would receive what was mine, with interest!
28 So take the talent away from him.
Give it to the slave who has the 10 talents.
29 For to one who has everything, more will be given, and more will abound.
And to one who hasn’t anything, whatever one does have will be taken away from them.
30 The useless slave? Throw him into the darkness outside.
There, there’ll be weeping and teeth gnashing in rage.’ ”

The word δοῦλος/dúlos tends to get translated “servant” (as the KJV did), but nope; it means slave. Hebrew slavery didn’t treat slaves as permanent property, but as people contractually bound to their master till the next Sabbath year. American slaves would rarely, if ever, be entrusted with as much authority as Hebrews did their slaves. Whole different mindset.

One who brings justice to the gentiles.

by K.W. Leslie, 23 December

Isaiah 42.1-4, Matthew 12.14-20.

After Jesus cured the man with the paralyzed hand, this happened.

Matthew 12.14-20 KWL
14 Going out, the Pharisees took a meeting about this—so they could have Jesus destroyed.
15 Jesus, who knew this, left there, and a great crowd followed him; he had cured them all.
16 Jesus had rebuked them, lest they reveal what he might do
17 so that he might fulfill the word from the prophet Isaiah, saying,
18 “Look at my servant whom I chose, my beloved. My soul approves of him.
I put my Spirit in him, and he’ll bring justice to the gentiles.
19 He won’t struggle or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20 He won’t split a broken reed, won’t extinguish smoking linen, till he can issue justice in victory.
21 Gentiles will put their hope in his name.” Is 42.1-4

Since Matthew quotes Isaiah and says Jesus fulfilled it, Christians presume this particular part of Isaiah is a messianic prophecy; that it’s specifically about Jesus. I may as well translate it too, instead of just translating Matthew’s translation of it:

Isaiah 42.1-4 KWL
1 “Look at my slave. I support him, my chosen one. My soul is pleased with him.
I put my Spirit upon him: Judgment goes forth to the gentiles.
2 He doesn’t cry out, doesn’t stir things up; his voice isn’t heard in the street.
3 He doesn’t break up crushed reeds, nor put out a dimming wick.
Judgment is issued to promote truth. 4 Likewise he doesn’t fade nor break down till he brings judgment to the earth.
The border lands await his instruction.”

Y’notice there are minor differences. No, not because I translated it differently; it’s because either Matthew was quoting a bad copy, or paraphrasing. (I prefer to think he was paraphrasing.) Matthew simply laid his ideas on top of Isaiah, same as Christians still do… and really shouldn’t.

Anyway, because Christians don’t understand what fulfillment means, again we assume the Isaiah passage is about Jesus. It’s actually not. It’s about Israel. The LORD specifically said so in the previous chapter of Isaiah.

Isaiah 41.8-9 KWL
8 “And you, my slave Israel, Jacob whom I chose, my beloved Abraham’s seed:
9 I seized you from the land’s end, called you one of its chiefs, and told you,
‘You’re my slave, my chosen. I don’t reject you.’ ”

No, he didn’t switch from Israel being the servant he meant, to Messiah being the servant he meant, in the course of a few verses. He was still telling Isaiah about Israel. He’s gonna put his Spirit on Israel and use the nation to promote justice among gentiles. True, Israel isn’t currently doing the best job of promoting justice towards anyone but fellow Israelis. But I don’t figure this prophecy is describing the present day anyway.

The LORD has big plans for Israel—and for Jesus as Israel’s king. So it’s entirely likely this prophecy refers to Israel when it’s finally following its Messiah during his millennium, after his second coming.

Meanwhile Matthew jumped the gun a little, ’cause though Jesus was starting his kingdom it hasn’t come yet. (Keep praying for it!) So in what way did Jesus fulfill this Isaiah passage in the first century?

Our suffering servant.

by K.W. Leslie, 16 December

Isaiah 53.

Mixed in with all the Messianic prophecies about a king who’d restore Israel, conquer the world, and set aright everything gone wrong, there are also prophecies about a suffering servant who’d get crushed.

We Christians likewise recognize these prophecies to be about Jesus. But people only realized it after the fact. Before Jesus went through his suffering, Pharisees believed these prophecies can’t be about Messiah. He’s gonna conquer the world! It’s gonna be an easy victory, achieved through the Almighty’s power. Suffering and death? Has to be some other guy.

Y’might recall as soon as Jesus brought up the very idea this suffering servant was him, his best student Simon Peter recoiled. “This will never happen to you,” was his rebuke. Mt 16.22 Human nature being what it is, we pick and choose the bible passages we like, skip the rest… and consequently miss most of the story. ’Cause the parts we avoid are frequently the really important parts. Jesus’s death saves the world just as much, if not more so, than his second coming will.

The Pharisees believed Messiah would come once, to conquer the world. They presumed he’d do it same as other conquerors: Take it by force, and make humanity submit. Smite his enemies with an iron scepter. Politically-minded Christians figure they can take over their society on his behalf, and make our nation into an outpost of his kingdom. They don’t realize Jesus demonstrated, by humility and self-sacrifice, not conquest, how very much he deserves the world as his inheritance. They don’t get how he gets people to submit to him out of love, out of recognizing the absolute wisdom and rightness of his rule. That’s much harder to achieve than mere force. (Plus there’s a certain amount of satisfaction in the idea of forcing people to submit, instead of getting ’em to want to. Such is human nature.)

But winning the world through his suffering, rather than seizing it by force, is what Isaiah saw him do. And reported thisaway.

Isaiah 53 KWL
1 Does anyone believe what we’ve reported?
The LORD’s arm is upon this person who’s been revealed.
2 He grew up in God’s presence like a sapling, like something rooted in dry ground.
We could see nothing honorable in his form. He wasn’t anything to look at.
3 People dismissed and refused to hear him. A man in pain, familiar with illness,
dismissed like one who hides his face from people—we took no account of him.
4 But in fact he’d taken up our illness. He carried our pain.
We figured he’d been smited: God had struck him down to humble him,
5 but he was wounded for our rebellion, crushed for our evil deeds.
Our peace came from his punishment. His beating brought us healing.
6 Like sheep, all of us have wandered off; we all went our own way.
The LORD put all our evil deeds on him.
7 He was abused and humiliated, and didn’t open his mouth.
Like a sheep to slaughter, or an ewe to her shearers, is silent: He didn’t open his mouth.
8 Arrested, judged, he was carried off. His peers—who spoke up for him
when he was cut off from the land of the living? beaten for the evil deeds of my people?
9 They put him in the grave with evildoers, with the rich in death,
though he’d treated no one violently. No deceit was in his mouth.
10 The LORD was pleased to crush him, to make him unwell, to make his soul a guilt offering,
and see his seed survive. God will prolong its days. The LORD is pleased to make it prosper in his hand.
11 God will be satisfied by the trouble of this servant’s soul:
He will be right in knowing the righteous one, my servant, will bear the weight of both the great and the evildoers.
12 Therefore I will give him something from the great ones. He’ll be given spoil with the mighty ones.
For under them, his soul was poured out to death. He was counted with the rebels.
He carried the sin of the great. He brings light to the rebels.

The Son who was given us.

by K.W. Leslie, 12 December

Isaiah 9.6-7.

Isaiah ben Amoch (KJV “Amoz”) was a prophet all his life. His book contains prophecies spanning the 60-plus years of his ministry in the second half of the 700s BC. And it was during this time, in 722, that the Assyrian Empire conquered and scattered northern Israel.

Isaiah lived in southern Israel, also called Judah or Judea. The Judeans worried greatly about the threat of Assyrian invasion. A number of Judeans were convinced the LORD would never let any dirty foreigners conquer their great land; after all, God’s temple was there, and he’d never let ’em destroy his temple. And a number recognized, same as Isaiah, their covenant with God dictated he’d totally let the land get taken if his people defied him. If you didn’t believe this, just look at what happened to northern Israel.

But even when we think the End has come, that everything’s been destroyed and is over and done with, God knows better. He had Isaiah say this to all Israelis—both the defeated, discouraged northerners scattered all over Assyria; and the southerners fearfully getting their End Times bunkers ready in Judea:

Isaiah 9.6-7 KWL
6 For a child was begotten by us. A son was given to us. The empire is on his shoulder.
His name is called Wondrously Helped by God, Great God, Eternal Father, Peace Chief.
7 There is no end to the abundance and peace of his empire, over his kingdom, David’s throne.
It establishes it, upholds it with justice and rightness, from now to forever.
The zeal of the LORD of War does this.

It’s another messianic prophecy, a prediction of a messiah, “anointed king,” like David ben Jesse—but a greater messiah, the Messiah, who’d rule Israel forever. More; he’d conquer the world.

Christians have definitely adopted this passage as applying to Jesus. We regularly refer to him by these titles.

  • WONDERFUL (as in KJV; פֶּ֠לֶא/pelé, “unique, great, difficult, miraculous”). Properly this describes the next word—it tells us which sort of counselor this Messiah is—but Christians frequently interpret it on its own, and describe Jesus as wonderful. Which he is; I’m not saying otherwise.
  • COUNSELOR (as in KJV; (יוֹעֵץ֙/yohéch, “YHWH-aided”). Because people insist on word-for-word translation, they convert this idea into too few words. In the 1600s a counselor was what you called an aide or assistant, meaning someone who helps you, and not just with useful advice. Yohéch means the LORD’s the one providing the aid. This Messiah’s gonna be miraculously helped by God. But, y’know, Christians prefer the idea of Jesus being our counselor—which, again, he is. 1Jn 2.1
  • MIGHTY GOD (אֵ֣ל גִּבּ֔וֹר/El-Gibbór, “God the powerful warrior”). The word El means “God,” but same as in our culture, it can refer to a lowercase-G “god” who’s not so much a divine being as just a really powerful person, like a superhero. So the folks who initially read Isaiah might not’ve taken this literally and imagined Messiah would be God incarnate; he’d just be a really mighty king. Thing is, Jesus is God incarnate. So, y’know, take it literally.
  • ETERNAL FATHER (אֲבִיעַ֖ד/aviád, “perpetual father,” KJV “everlasting Father”). Occasionally we get modalists who insist this means Jesus is the Father, and use it to confound how trinity is described. Properly, this refers to how the ancients tended to call their spiritual leaders “father” (something Jesus discouraged Mt 23.9), and this Messiah would likewise be their spiritual father—but not merely for a short time. He’d perpetually be their father. He’d be their go-to guy about God.
  • PEACE CHIEF (שַׂר־שָׁלֽוֹם/sar-shalóm, KJV “Prince of Peace”). A sar refers to any leader, and Hebrews used it to describe nobles, generals, civic leaders, or anyone else in charge. Messiah’s gonna be in charge of peace: He’s gonna get it, and grant it to his people.

So if you’re worried about the specter of chaos and war looming over your land, if you’re one of those dark Christians worried the End is nigh ’cause things are worse than they’ve ever been, this Messiah’s gonna put everything right. He’s gonna take over and fix the world.

Plucking Jesus’s beard. Or not.

by K.W. Leslie, 09 December

Isaiah 50.6.

Jesus fulfills a lot of Old Testament scriptures, and this advent I wanna look at the ones he particularly fulfilled from Isaiah.

Some of them explicitly refer to Jesus, ’cause a future Messiah, a savior, a suffering servant, a King of kings, is precisely who Isaiah was writing about. But some of ’em actually aren’t about Jesus. They’re either about humanity in general, Israelis in general, or even Isaiah himself. But because the same or similar events happened to Jesus, he fulfilled them. His experiences fleshes out these verses. That’s what fulfillment in the bible actually means: Not that Jesus did as predicted, but that Jesus reflects these ideas better, sometimes, than the original ideas.

So today’s passage is one of those reflections. It’s not about Jesus; it’s explicitly about Isaiah himself. About how, as a prophet, he gets crapped on.

Isaiah 50.4-9 KWL
4 The LORD my Master gave me an educated tongue so I might know to say a timely word to the weary.
He wakes me every morning; he wakes up my ear so I can hear like an educated man.
5 The LORD my Master opens my ear, and I won’t rebel or backslide.
6 I gave my back to those who’d beat it, my jaw to those who’d strike it.
I didn’t hide my face from disgrace… and spit.
7 The LORD my Master helps me, so I’m not confused;
so I steady my face like a flint, and I know I won’t be disappointed.
8 He who justifies me is near. Who wants to fight me? Stand up together!
Who’s my lord who justifies me? Have him approach!
9 Look, the LORD my Master helps me; who’s making trouble for me?
They’ll wear out like moth-eaten clothing.

If you believe “prophet” is a title which gets people acclaim and honor, you don’t know any real prophets. Or you might, but you don’t know them; you don’t really see what they go through. Actually hearing and sharing from God means you’re gonna get pushback.

Usually from people who only want a prophet to tell them happy thoughts. Who have their own ideas about who God is (and make him a lot like them), and don’t wanna hear otherwise. Who certainly don’t wanna hear God correct and rebuke the hypocrisy and sin of those who claim to follow him.

Less often, and usually from outside our own churches, we get pushback from people who prefer the idea God doesn’t talk anymore. A number of people like to condemn any and all prophecy, and claim only preaching is a form prophecy—and they’re preachers, so they’re prophets, so listen to them, and no one else. It’s a professional jealousy thing.

Isaiah dealt with both types. And since ancient Israel had no such thing as freedom of speech, Isaiah had to suffer consequences for anything he said. No, not prison; they’d just cane you. Usually without trial: The mob would just whack you with their walking sticks. Or punch you in the jaw.

Ascension: When Jesus got raptured.

by K.W. Leslie, 30 May

Forty days after Easter, Jesus left. For now.

On Thursday, 15 May 33 (if we take Luke’s count of 40 days Ac 1.3 literally, and not as an estimate) this happened.

Acts 1.6-9 KWL
6 So when they came together, the apostles questioned Jesus:
“Master, is it at this time you’re restoring the Kingdom of Israel?”
7 Jesus told them, “It’s not for you to know times or timing.
That, the Father sets by his own free will.
8 But you’ll all get power: The Holy Spirit is coming upon you.
You’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the world.”
9 Saying this as they watched him, Jesus was raptured.
A cloud concealed him from their eyes.

Christians call this Jesus’s ascension, and celebrate it 40 days after Easter—and 10 days before Pentecost Sunday. ’Cause it’s when Jesus went up, or ascended, into heaven, to stand in service or sit in judgment, at the Father’s right. Ac 2.33, 7.55-56

Various people who don’t believe Christians are getting raptured when Jesus returns love to point out the word “rapture” isn’t in the bible, but that’s only because their favorite translations don’t use it. Rapture simply means “lifted up,” and since ἐπήρθη/epírthi (KJV “he was taken up”) means the very same thing, there’s no reason to translate it otherwise. Jesus got raptured, and we’re getting raptured to join his forces when he returns.

’Cause what goes up must come down.

Rachel weeping for her children.

by K.W. Leslie, 20 December

Jeremiah 31.15-17.

A pet peeve of mine is by Noël Regney and Shayne Baker’s historically inaccurate Christmas song “Do You Hear What I Hear?” In it, when Jesus gets born, a night wind tells a little lamb of the nativity. The lamb tells a shepherd boy, who then tells a mighty king, who then tells the people everywhere. In real life, the mighty king responded a bit more like this:

Said the king to the soldiers at his gate:
“Massacre the toddlers!
Everyone below two years old:
Massacre the toddlers!
Slay all, slay all, leave my rivals dead
Put your spears through this child's head
Put your spears through this child's head

Not at all heartwarming, but that’s Herod bar Antipater for ya.

Matthew 2.16-18 KWL
16 Then Herod, seeing he was made a fool of by the Zoroastrians, was enraged.
Sending agents, he destroyed all the children in Bethlehem and the whole area around it,
from two years old and under, according to the time he exacted from the Zoroastrians.
17 Thus was the word of the prophet Jeremiah fulfilled, saying,
18 “A voice was heard in Ramáh: Weeping and great lament.
‘Rachel’ weeps for her children and doesn’t want comfort: They’re gone.” Jr 31.15

We don‘t find this massacre recorded anywhere but in Matthew, but Herod committed much greater atrocities, so the other histories focus more on those. In any event the bit I wish to zero in on today would be how Jesus fulfills Jeremiah’s word about “Rachel’ weeping for her children.

Christians incorrectly presume Jeremiah was prophesying about Jesus. Nope; not even close. It’s not what fulfillment means either: Matthew didn’t mean Jeremiah’s prophecy had come to pass by Herod slaughtering the children. Only that Jeremiah’s words describing a previous historical event, likewise describe this historical event. Arguably describe it better than they did the previous event. History repeated itself.

To the ancients, history repeating itself was a sign of order instead of chaos. A hint God is in control of history. Which is why Matthew and the other apostles fished through the Old Testament for examples of how Jesus’s situation was just like other situations in the bible. Coincidence? They thought not.

I know: Certain Christians are really fond of the idea Jeremiah foretold Jesus. And he did! But not with this passage. This passage is about Nabú-kudúrri-usúr 2 (KJV “Nebuchadnezzar”) demolishing Ramáh, a town in a whole other tribe.

Not allowed to rot.

by K.W. Leslie, 17 December

Psalm 16.10.

Previously I referred to King David ben Jesse as “the prophet David.” Somebody actually tried to correct me for saying so. I remind you a prophet is someone who hears God and shares what he hears: By that metric David’s obviously a prophet. Considering all the Spirit-inspired psalms he wrote, David’s got more actual prophecy in the bible than Elijah and Elisha combined.

Jesus recognized David as a prophet, Lk 20.41-44 and taught his students to do likewise. Ac 2.30 This is why the apostles had no problem using David for proof texts when they taught about Jesus. One verse they particularly liked to use was David’s line, lo-tittén khacídkha li-reót šakhát/“You don’t give [over] your beloved to see rottenness.” Or in better English, “You don’t allow your beloved to rot.” Ps 16.10 Both Simon Peter and Paul of Tarsus quoted it in Acts—Peter in chapter 2, Paul in 13.

Acts 2.22-28 KWL
22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene is a man endorsed by God to you
by power, wondrous things, and miracles which God did through him in your midst,
just as you know personally.
23 This Jesus, by the decided counsel and foreknowledge of God,
was given into lawless Roman hands, crucified, and killed.
24 But God raised Jesus up, loosing death’s pains.
For it’s impossible for Jesus to be held by death.
25 For David spoke of him: ‘I foresee the Master before me, throughout all.
Because he’s at my right hand, lest I might be shaken.
26 For this reason my heart rejoices and my tongue exults. Again: My flesh will dwell in hope,
27 because you won’t abandon my soul to the afterlife, nor allow your Righteous One to rot.
28 You make the road of life known to me. You’ll fill me with joy with your face.’ ” Ps 16.8-11
Acts 13.34-37 KWL
34 “Because God raised Jesus from the dead, no longer to go back to rotting,
he said this: ‘I’ll give you the righteous, faithful David.’ Is 55.3
35 Because David also said in another place,
‘You won’t allow your Righteous One to rot.’ “ Ps 16.10

When Jesus died, he was only dead two days before the Father raised him the third day. His corpse wasn’t in the sepulcher long enough for decay to happen. So Jesus’s situation sounds exactly like this line from David’s psalm. To the apostles and their listeners, Jesus absolutely fulfilled it. Better than David himself.

Acts 2.29-30 KWL
29 “Men—brothers—if I may boldly speak to you about the patriarch David:
He died, was entombed, and his monument is among us to this day.
30 Thus, as a prophet, knowing God swore an oath to him—
one from the fruit of David’s loins is to sit on his throne—
31 he who foresaw, spoke about Messiah’s resurrection:
He’s neither left behind in the afterlife, nor did his body rot.
32 God raised this Jesus. All us apostles are his witnesses.”
Acts 13.36-37 KWL
36 “After serving God’s will to his own generation, David ‘slept,’ was gathered to his ancestors,
and rotted— 37 and Jesus, whom God raised, didn’t rot.”

Now. Because your average Christian nowadays doesn’t understand how fulfillment works in the bible, they immediately assume David’s psalm is a specific prophecy about Jesus. It’s actually not, as you can tell when you actually read the psalm.