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Showing posts with the label #ChristAlmighty

The Golden Rule.

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Matthew 7.12, Luke 6.31. “Do as you’d be done by.” That’s C.S. Lewis’s wording. It’s probably the briefest form I’ve found of the “Golden Rule,” as it’s called. I grew up hearing it as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”—and it actually doesn’t come from the King James Version, which has it, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Lk 6.31 KJV I tried tracking down the other wording, and the earliest I’ve found it is 1790. My translation of the two different ways Jesus taught it: Matthew 7.12 KWL “So as much as you want people doing for you, you do that for them: That’s a summary of the Law and the Prophets.”   Luke 6.31 KWL “Just as you want people doing for you, do likewise for them.” It’s “the Law and the Prophets,” as Jesus put it—meaning the bible of his day, the Old Testament. (Yes the OT consists of Law, Prophets, and Writings. But back then, when Sadducees and Samaritans insisted the bible only cons

The widow’s mite, and ancient money’s value.

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Mark 12.41-44, Luke 21.1-4. On the temple grounds there’s a room called the treasury; Greek γαζοφυλάκιον / yadzofylákion , a “guarded vault.” Thing is, the treasury’s in a place inaccessible to women. And since there’s a woman in this story, throwing an offering in, it simply can’t be what the writers of these gospels meant by “treasury.” It has to be in some other place. Hence most commentators are pretty sure yadzofylákion actually refers to the lockboxes which the priests set in the Women’s Court. Each of these boxes were at the end of a big metal funnel—which looked like a shofar , a ram’s-horn trumpet, and may very well have been what Jesus was thinking of when he talked about trumpeting your charitable giving. Mt 6.2 Because throwing metal into a big metal funnel made a loud noise. And throwing lots of metal—like a big pile of bronze coins, as opposed to, say, far fewer silver or gold coins—made a big ol’ noise. Probably too noisy to teach! Yet that’s what the gosp

Double standards.

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Mark 4.24, Matthew 7.1-5, Luke 6.37-38, 41-42. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is a really popular verse for people who don’t wanna condemn anyone. But I already wrote an article about how people take it out of context. People use it to avoid making judgment statements, or to rebuke those who do… and it’s not at all what Jesus means. So today I get to what Jesus means. This bit of his Sermon on the Mount comes right after Jesus taught us about worry. Which is appropriate: Don’t prejudge circumstances indiscriminately, and don’t prejudge people unfairly. Matthew 7.1-2 KWL 1 “Don’t criticize. Thus you won’t be criticized. 2 For you’ll be critiqued by the very criticism you criticize with. The measurement you measure with, will measure you.”   Luke 6.37 KWL “Don’t criticize, and you won’t be criticized. Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Forgive, and you’ll be forgiven.” Obviously I translate κρίνετε / krínetë, “criticize,” differently than the KJV ’s “jud

The Talents Story.

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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 rate

The Five Stupid Girls Story.

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Matthew 25.1-13. When Jesus talked about his second coming, sometimes he’d share parables. Dude loves his parables. Dense Christians won’t get them, and commonly get suckered into dark Christian interpretations where they’re all about doom and death and hellfire. But Christians who seek wisdom, who know Jesus is returning to save the world instead of destroy it, know these parables are about hope : Jesus is returning! For everybody . Be ready to join his entourage. Otherwise you’ll be left out of the fun parts. The “parable of the 10 virgins,” or as I prefer to call it, “The Five Stupid Girls Story,” is one of those warning parables. Dark Christians like to compare it to missing the rapture, and therefore going to hell. But the stakes are nowhere near that high in the story. Let’s start with the story. Matthew 25.1-13 KWL 1 Then heaven’s kingdom will be like 10 teenage girls, who took their own oil lamps to go out to meet the groom. 2 Five of the girls were stup

Deliver us from evil.

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Matthew 6.13. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus has us pray not to be led to temptation —properly, not put to the test, whether such tests tempt us or not. Instead, in contrast, we should pray we be delivered from evil. Matthew 6.13 KJV And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. The original text is ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ / allá rýsë imás apó tu ponirú , “but rescue us from the evil.” Now. The Greek τοῦ / tu is what grammarians call a determiner , although I’m pretty sure your English teachers called it a definite article , ’cause that’s what English determiners usually do: This noun is a particular noun. When you refer to “the bus,” you don’t mean a bus, any ol’ generic interchangeable bus; you mean the bus, this bus, a specific bus, a definite bus. So when people translate tu ponirú , they assume the Greek determiner is a definite article: Jesus is saying

The Holy Spirit reminds us what Jesus taught… assuming we know what Jesus taught.

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John 14.25-26. Most Christians figure Jesus’s students followed him three years. It might actually have been longer than that. The idea of three years comes from the fact three Passovers get mentioned in John , Jn 2.13, 6.4, 11.55 the last one being the Passover for which he died. But just because John mentioned three particular Passovers doesn’t mean these were the only Passovers which took place during Jesus’s teaching time. Coulda been nine for all we know. No I’m not kidding: 7 BC : Jesus was born. 24 CE : Jesus’s 30th birthday. Luke states he was ὡσεὶ / oseí , “like,” 30 when he started teaching. Lk 3.23 Didn’t say exactly 30, but let’s start from there. 33 CE : Jesus died. And woulda been about 39. Time for some basic arithmetic. If Jesus started teaching in the year 24, and “like” just means he was a few months shy of 30, by the year 33 he’d’ve been teaching nine years. If “like” instead means he was already in his thirties; say 33… he’d’ve been teac

The Holy Spirit of truth… and dense Christians.

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John 14.15-17. Christians take for granted that we receive the Holy Spirit by virtue of being Christian: When we say the sinner’s prayer and claim Jesus as our individual savior, we individually, automatically get the Holy Spirit to indwell us and guarantee us an eternal place in God’s kingdom. Right? Right. But the assumption Jesus makes when he says as much to his students in John , is his students don’t just passively believe in him. Don’t just passively believe all the correct things about him, and have the proper “faith”, and that’s what saves us. And once we die after a lifetime of taking God’s grace for granted, we get to use the Holy Spirit as our entry fee to heaven. The Holy Spirit’s been granted to us to help us continue to follow Jesus. John 14.15-17 KWL 15 “When you love me you’ll keep my commands, 16 and I’ll make a request of the Father, and he’ll give you another Assistant, because he’ll be with you in this age: 17 The truthful Holy Spir

Mammonists versus God.

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Luke 16.8-15. the Shrewd Butler Story, Jesus commended the butler for using his boss’s money to generate goodwill instead of profits, and his moral was for his followers to do likewise. Mammonists stumble all over this story. To them the point of money isn’t to use it as a resource, but to accumulate it and gain power by it. To their minds the butler was completely untrustworthy. He was already accused of squandering it, Lk 16.1 and then he turned round and deliberately squandered it by changing his boss’s debtors’ receipts. Lk 16.5-7 He made it look like he collected more money than he actually had; like his boss was owed less than he truly was; and he did it to benefit himself instead of enriching his boss—which was his job , wasn’t it? He embezzled from his boss. He stole . He’s a thief . There’s a command against theft in the bible somewhere; it’s one of the bigger ones! So Mammonists really don’t know what to do with Jesus commending this butler… except to conclud

Mammon in the Shrewd Butler Story.

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Luke 16.1-9. As you know, Jesus said you can’t be a slave to both God and Mammon, Mt 6.24 and as a result people tend to think of Mammon as a person. It’s not really. Whenever Jesus and the Pharisees spoke about mammon, they meant money, and they were speaking of it negatively. Exactly like we do whenever we describe money as “lucre.” Nobody ever talks about clean lucre; it’s always filthy lucre; it’s always money used wrong, used for evil. Same deal with mammon, which is why I translated τῷ ἀδίκῳ μαμωνᾷ / to adíko mamoná ( KJV “the unrighteous mammon”) as “filthy lucre.” You come across lucre in this story, it means mammon . Got it? Good. Jesus tells this story right after the Prodigal Son Story, Lk 15.11-32 if that context helps: A man squandered all his money, and when he came home his father threw him an expensive party; and his brother objected to the wastefulness (or to use old-timey English, the prodigality ) of both the wasteful man and his extravaga

The Spirit empowers us to speak.

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Mark 13.9-10, Matthew 10.17-20, Luke 21.12-15. When Jesus warned his students about the coming tribulation in his Olivet Discourse, he told ’em he (or the Holy Spirit, depending on the gospel) would have their back when it came time to testify before kings and leaders. He put it this way. Mark 13.9-11 KWL 9 “ Now look at you yourselves. They’ll turn you in to the Senate. They’ll cane you in synagogues. They’ll stand you before leaders and kings because of me, to witness to them. 10 You have to first declare the gospel to all the gentiles. 11 When they turn you in, don’t premeditate what you might say: Instead whatever’s given you at that hour, say it, for you aren’t speaking; the Holy Spirit is .”   Matthew 10.17-20 KWL 17 “Watch out for the people: They’ll turn you in to the Senate and their synagogues. They’ll flog you. 18 They’ll take you to leaders and kings because of me, to testify to them and the gentiles. 19 When they turn you in, don’t worry abo

Warnings when persecution comes. (Unless you’re American.)

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Mark 13.9, Matthew 24.9-13, Luke 21.12-19. In his Olivet Discourse, Jesus told his students about what’d happen before as predicted, the Romans destroyed the temple in the great tribulation. Many fearful Christians insist Jesus wasn’t speaking of the next 40 years, but our future; the events of the End Times. That’s largely because they don’t know first-century history, nor their bibles, and only believe other fearful Christians. If you aren’t as paranoid, peaceless, and agitated as they, they feel you’re too stupid to listen to. The End Times has gotta be all about fear , not hope—and they explain away the fruitlessness of fear by claiming it’s really “the fear of God” they’re about. Yeah right. Today’s passage tends to trigger ’em more than most, because here Jesus speaks about the active persecution of Christians. Which, at that time, was coming soon. Really soon; possibly before the year was out. Jesus gave this discourse during Holy Week, and he’d be killed at th

Quit prematurely freaking out about the End.

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Mark 13.7-8, Matthew 24.6-8, Luke 21.9-11. Jesus ordered his followers not to worry. When we haven’t surrendered our entire lives to Jesus, we’re gonna suck at obeying his teaching: We’re gonna worry. We’ll fuss about food and drink and clothing, like Jesus specifically highlighted in his lesson. We’ll worry about what others think of us. Worry about money and financial stability. Worry about politics. Worry about our guns. Worry about anything which threatens our comfort and stability. Most of the professional End Times prognosticators especially want you to worry about your comfort and stability. Not just because they wanna sell you food buckets for your End Times bunker. Most of ’em are preaching out of their very own paranoia. They worry even more than you do about the stuff they agitate about. Their own End Times bunkers are very well-stocked. All of ’em ignore what Jesus taught on the subject. Or in some cases flip its meaning over entirely. Mark 13.7-8 KWL 7