Mark R Lindsey

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Agony & Escape: Preferring death to suffering

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2020 at 7:41 am

“Give me relief – or give me death!” How do we cry to God in our agony without grumbling and doubting?

And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt [enslaved], when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” — Exodus 16:2-3

The Israelites were on a difficult mission, walking through the wilderness. But they were saying in their grumbling, “Keep me out of suffering, God! I’m ok if you let me die — just be sure I’m comfortable while I go.” They paint a picture of dying gently at the fireside with a full belly….as enslaved people. They weren’t asking for relief and help in God’s goodness — but for escape from the mission. “In fact, I’m so miserable, it’ll be ok if you just take me out of your mission entirely, God.”

As he gives us work, God calls us to suffering and discomfort. But don’t make like of the suffering. Don’t imagine you can endure on your own. Don’t believe your suffering goes unnoticed by God. Follow Jesus’s example: ask Him for relief, trusting he will act, expecting to see him do good for you.

Immediately after this complaint from the Israelites, their kind God gave them a supply of meat, and bread from heaven. Though they were insolent, God DOES care about suffering.

For he [the LORD God] has not despised or abhorred

the affliction of the afflicted,

and he has not hidden his face from him,

but has heard, when he cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;

my vows I will perform before those who fear him.

The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;

those who seek him shall praise the Lord!

May your hearts live forever!

— Psalms 22:24-26


Stumbling to Reconciliation, & Acceptance for Resurrection

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2019 at 9:10 am

11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. — Romans 11:11-16 (ESV)

Paul is talking about the way the vast majority of the Jewish people stumbled and trespassed, and that meant riches for the world.

We would expect Paul to say: that failure is permanent, so you should beware that you, the non-Jws to whom the gospel has been offered, do not fail and lose out as well. We want to imagine that stumbling means falling, and entering a state of non-grace.

Yet God’s word is clear: “did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means!” The offer to the Jewish people has not meant they have lost any chance for acceptance.

By God’s power, the rejection means the reconciliation of the world, but it isn’t any final failure. This is the God who reigns over death. So the stumbling, the trespass, the failure leave the door open to a dramatic acceptance and life from the dead.

The first-century failure has brought reconciliation of the world; the acceptance by many Jewish people will mean life from the dead.

How Great is our God, who describes the widespread rejection among the first-century Jewish people of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a mere stumble, and promises victory that is more vibrant and beautiful than what we have seen before.

Enduring Violence, and God’s Call to Protect the Weak

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2018 at 9:07 am

Should a Christian stay in a physically dangerous place? No. And we Christians must provide protection!

1. Jesus’s language assumed persecution would mean the danger was avoided. Jesus presumed that when you’re chased, you run.

Matthew 10:22-23 — “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

2. Violence toward a woman in marriage violates God’s law. We must never tolerate sin but always work against it.

Colossians 3:19 — Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

3. Christian leaders are to “shepherd” — and our Biblical model of care necessarily includes physical protection. To “bind up the injured” cannot be any less than working for safety and protection for the vulnerable.

Failing leaders as bad shepherds: Ezekiel 34:4 — The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.

God as good shepherd: Ezekiel 34:16 — I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

4. John Bunyan wrote how there is no Christian principle that means staying while persecuted.

“He that flies, has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man may both fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be.

Moses fled, Ex. 2:15;

Moses stood, Heb. 11:27.

David fled, 1 Sam. 19:12;

David stood, 24:8.

Jeremiah fled, Jer. 37:11­–12;

Jeremiah stood, 38:17.

Christ withdrew himself, Luke 19:10;

Christ stood, John 18:1–8.

Paul fled, 2 Cor. 11:33;

Paul stood, Acts 20:22–23. . . .”

5. If a Christian leader teaches a truth and it’s unpopular, then that’s to be expected, and Christians should support that truth, while admitting the teacher is always error-prone and fallible. Jesus told us to expect to be hated (John 15:18-20).

But if a Christian leader sins by genuinely teaching falsely, and doesn’t repent of it, he should be held to account publicly.

1 Timothy 5:19-20 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

Praising the trust in God held by one person in one instance that already occurred doesn’t necessarily make a recommendation for other people. Just enduring hard things doesn’t make us Holy.

But it’s difficult to see other examples of trust and bravery, and not try to make inferences. Hebrews 11 is full of examples of good and bad people are cited for trusting God. In nearly every case, we cannot follow their actions as examples because we’re not living the same lives. But we who believe Jesus died for us to bring us to God can trust that God is with us, and provides for us, and will always protect us — this year, and in a billion years. “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.”

Christian, Armed to Rescue Hostages. Ephesians 6:10-20

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2015 at 11:13 am
As I studied Ephesians 6:10-20 for LifeChange at North Wake Church in April through June, 2015, the overall impression was that Christians are Hostage Rescuers. Like the American FBI Hostage Rescue team, we’re fully armed, we have radio communication with the commander, and the enemy is going to try to stop us from going in to get the hostages.
The lesson of Jesus in Mark 3:22-27, he teaches that, to rob the Strong Man, Satan, someone has to restrain him.
Mark 3:22-27
22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
Jesus has bound the strong man:
Hebrews 2:14-15 (ESV)
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Colossians 2:13-15 (ESV)
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
The weapons we see in Ephesians 6 are to protect the Hostage Rescue Team. While Satan has been defeated, Spiritual Beings are still active and resisting our efforts to rescue.

Ephesians 6:10

Ephesians 6:10
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

1. Why is this the final part? Why wasn’t this placed earlier in the letter?

— This is an echo and repeat of the calls to claim God’s strength earlier in the book: Ephesians 1:19, 3:16.
— Other letters have a final call for rejoicing (2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 3:1), dwelling on good things (Philippians 4:8), and harmony (1 Peter 3:8)
— This is a climax. It faces the issue that all the righteous demands are DIFFICULT because we have sentient, determined, intelligent stackers.

2. What is the difference between “strengthened by the Lord” and “his vast strength”? Or is there no difference, only emphasis? If you’re strong in his vast strength, aren’t you also strong in the Lord?

— You have enemies AND God is with you! Deuteronomy 20:3
— God’s power is completed in weakness; the strength in our arms must be from God and devoid of our own strength. 2 Corinthians 12:10
— (ECS: Ephesians) It would have been sufficient for Paul simply to say, “be strong in the Lord,” but he expands on the magnitude of God’s power by adding the phrase, “and in his mighty strength” (καὶ ἐν τῷ κράτει τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ). The “and” (καί) does not connect two different sources of strength, but rather elucidates this attribute of the Lord. These are the same terms Paul used in eph. 1:19 – 20 to describe the divine power that brought about the resurrection and exaltation of Christ

3. What are the links between God’s power and strength used here and previous references to strength earlier in this letter? (In what way is this conclusive?)

— As he gave glory to God and trusted God, Abraham grew strong. Romans 4:20. We grow the same way.
— See #1

4. We’re admonished to “be strong;” does that suggest we would naturally be feeling weak or discouraged about now?

— You are expected to engage in battle. So strengthening is required.
— We ARE weak against spiritual opponents, whether or not we feel it.

4.1. Where does the strength come from? We’re told to do something, but then it’s clear that God is active. What is our part of strengthened, and what is God’s part?

— (ECS: Ephesians) Western readers might be conditioned to miss the fact that Paul is calling his readers to a relationship of dependence and not urging them to draw on their own internal fortitude and strength.t
— The words tell us to be strengthened BY God and His Vast Power. The “armor” given to us by God is what holds us up to be able to stand.
— (ECS: Ephesians) “Be strong” (ἐνδυναμοῦσθε) should be interpreted … stressing the idea of receiving strength from an outside source… Because it is imperative, it does imply volition and action on the part of the hearers to seek God and present themselves to him for filling with his power. Paul used the same verb to appeal to Timothy to “be strong” (2 Tim 2:1)
— This reminds me a bit of David taking on Saul’s armor. Saul was making an attempt to do God’s job. The armor David needed for a mere human foe, Goliath, was hope! But we can try to provide our own armor.

5. When else are people told to be strengthened like this in Scripture?

— (ECS: Ephesians). The language here evokes the memory of God’s repeatedly calling Joshua to “be strong” (Josh 1:6; 7, 9; see also Deut 31:6 – 7) as he was about to lead God’s people into the land of Canaan, where they would face many enemies and fight many battles. The difference now, however, is that God’s people face more powerful enemies than mere human opponents.

Ephesians 6:11

Ephesians 6:11
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

1. Even though the angel said, “the LORD rebuke you Satan”, why does Paul act as if WE will be doing the standing?

— Jude 1:9 — the archangel Michael didn’t revile satan directly, but said “the LORD rebuke you.”
— 2 Peter 2:7 – we must not heap revile on angelic beings
— The strength to stand is given by God; but we do participate with our will.

2. Why does it say to put on armor rather than “put on Christ?” Or, “put on the new man”

— “Armor of light” is proper clothing instead of darkness, and represents living the life we’ve been chosen for. Romans 13:12.
— Ephesians 4:24 — Putting on the new man is essentially the same as putting on the armor here, argues Clinton Arnold
 In ECS: Ephesians. But here we’re given so much more details.

3. How can we be sure that the armor will be sufficient against the schemes of the devil?

— These weapons have power from God, not us. 2 Corinthians 10:4
— God does not allow temptations that are beyond the ability he gives. 1 Corinthians 10:13
— It is called. “Full, complete armor”, (ECS: Ephesians) πανοπλία, not just a few random bits picked up by someone rushing into a fight. God is the one described as equipping us, not unlike the giving of gifts to men that was described in Ephesians 4:7-11.

4. What are the schemes of the devil? What’s the effect of we do fail to stand?

— Being led astray by false teaching. Mark 13:22, 2 Corinthians 11:13, 2 Peter 2:1
— Not forgiving. 2 Corinthians 2:11

5. Is there any other putting on in Ephesians?

— Ephesians 4:24. Clothe yourselves with the new nature created to be godly.
6. Is the “standing” only offensive, or also defensive?
— The word is used to describe offensive military action in the LXX (ECS: Ephesians)

Ephesians 6:12

Ephesians 6:12
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

1. Why would we be tempted to think that the battle is against flesh and blood?

— Ephesians 2:2 – the sons of disobedience, probably humans, are actively at work. And we can see them.
— Paul had been physically attacked by flesh and blood. 2 Corinthians 11:25. Acts 14:19.

1.1 We have on battle for war, but we’re discussing wrestling. That’s a mixed metaphor. Why?

— (ECS: Ephesians) It is possible that the image of wrestling may also have evoked the readers’ recollection of a widely attested tradition (presumably well-known in Asia Minor) regarding an Ephesian wrestler who used magic to help him defeat his opponents.
— (ECS: Ephesians) There was a tradition in the ancient world of the advantage a fully armed soldier had if he was also trained as a wrestler… If this is what Paul had in mind, then both images combine to express the notion of close, difficult, tiring, hand-to-hand combat.

1.2 What is the error Christians might make, which Paul is concerned about by saying “we wrestle not against blood and flesh…”?

— (ECS: Ephesians) The fact that the struggle is not “against blood and flesh” (πρὸς αἷμα καὶ σάρκα) strongly underlines the spiritual nature of the warfare. The order is reversed from Paul’s normal “flesh and blood” (1 Cor 15:50; Gal 1:16). He may have done so to prevent the potential confusion of some readers thinking that they were no longer urged to struggle against “the flesh” (see Gal 5:17). This expression also highlights the fact that the readers should not consider their fight as one against Roman rule or any of the local civic rulers who might oppose them or cause them harm. Paul is here unmasking the ultimate source of many of the evils they experience — the influences behind the Roman Imperium.
— Our REAL struggle is not political, or civic

2. What is the difference is between A. rulers B. authorities C. world powers of darkness D. spiritual forces of evil in the heavens?

— 1 Peter 3:22. Angels, authorities, and powers are subjected to Jesus.
— Colossians 2:15. Jesus disarmed rulers and authorities.
— Romans 8:38. Angels and rulers might put our connection to Jesus’ love at risk.
— World Powers: (ECS: Ephesians) The third expression, “world powers” (κοσμοκράτορες), is unique, never appearing elsewhere in the NT or LXX. This is, in fact, the earliest appearance of the term in Greek writings. … The word appears in second-century AD Anthologies of Vettius Valens, which is a compilation of more ancient works. This text gives evidence of its use by Pseudo-Petosiris in the second-century BC in reference to the planets (thought of as animated by spirits). This same term was also used to magnify the omnipotence and universal power of various deities. An inscription found in a bathhouse in Rome reads, “One Zeus, Serapis, Helios, world power (κοσμοκράτωρ), unconquerable.”

3. Why does Paul list out all these different categories? Why doesn’t he just say “bad guys you can’t see?”

— Mark 5:9. The “legion” of demons shows there are many.
— Luke 8:2. Mary Magdalene had 7 spirits.

4. We are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3); it seems like that would be a happy place. But is it really a place of warfare?

— Heavenly beings are disarmed by Jesus’s work on the cross (Colossians 2:15), and they see the proof of God’s wisdom (Ephesians 3:10)
5. What do we know about this “darkness”?
— Ephesians 5:8: without Jesus, we lived in the domain of darkness.

Ephesians 6:13

Ephesians 6:13
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

1. What’s the difference between A. “withstanding the devil”, B. “having done all”, and c. “stand firm”? Each expression suggests firm action undertaken by the Christian, but they seem to be sequential.

— Withstand is “stand against”, as in Lev. 26:37
— 1 Peter 4:1. “Arm yourself” can be a way of thinking and living like the flesh has died because we died with Christ.
— Colossians 4:12 Epaphras has PRAYED that God would make them stand firm.
— “Stand firm” sounds like a battle line reference; shoulder-to-shoulder with other soldiers.

2. What does “having done all” refer to?

— is it doing all in this book?
— (ECS: Ephesians) Preparation for the battle does not take place once it begins, but well in advance. With the temporal participle “once you have prepared” (κατεργασάμενοι), Paul indicates that a significant investment of time and effort is expended in becoming well prepared for the inevitable attacks. … It is better to side with the majority of commentators on this issue and see the participle as expressing the idea of making all necessary preparations before the struggle ensues. In other words, because of the certainty that believers will face concerted demonic attack at various intervals through their lives in the present evil age, it is imperative to grow deeper in a knowledge of God’s gifts and cultivate the practices essential to dependence on the unsurpassed power of God. The goal of the preparation is “to stand” (στῆναι) — to keep from falling into sin and to advance on enemy territory to bring the good news of deliverance to those who are oppressed.

2.5 What is suggested by “take up armor”?

— Romans 13:12. Armor of light is the appropriate way to dress for the “day” when God reveals all.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Instead of drowsiness or drunkenness, we’re to put on armor of faith and love on our chests.
— (ECS: Ephesians) Paul then repeats his appeal from 6:11 to put on the armor of God, but here with a different imperative verb, “take up” (ἀναλάβετε). This verb occurs frequently in ancient literature in connection with taking up weapons, as in Jer 46:3, “take up arms and spears”

3. When is “the evil day”?

— Is it the day of testing, common to man, from Luke 8:13, Ecclesiastes 12:1?
— or is it some great day of disaster we may never live to see, like Amos 6:3 and Revelation 3:10?
— Ephesians 5:6 refers to a day of punishment on those who do evil
— Ephesians 5:16 says we all live in evil days.
>> my best guess: We’re going to have some days that are harder than others and undergo trials, like in Luke 8:13 and Ephesians 5:16. We need to be ready for all those.

4. Components of this armor:

  • Belt — truth
  • Breastplate — righteousness
  • Shoes — readiness of the gospel of peace
  • Shield — faith
  • Helmet — salvation
  • Sword — of the spirit, the Word of God
  • (Like a war-time radio) — Prayer at all times in the Spirit

Ephesians 6:14

Ephesians 6:14
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

1. How is the truth like a belt?

— Jesus is the truth; John 14:6.
— Isaiah 11:4-5 calls truth, faithfulness a belt or waste cloth, the innermost piece of clothing. This Isaiah passage seems to be the basis of the imagery Paul is using. The messiah’s belt of truth is now provided to Us In Christ.
— John 1:14,17  — truth came in Christ.
— God’s spirit is the Spirit of truth. John 14:17, 15:26.
— Jesus asked his father to sanctify/consecrate us IN truth; and there’s some link between being sent into the world as Jesus’ emissaries, and the way Jesus consecrates/sanctifies himself. John 17:17-18.
— “Specifically, this belt is described as the belt of truth. That is, as Christians fastened this piece of God’s armor, they will be strengthened by the truth of God revealed in the gospel and consequently they will display the attributes of the Messiah in their attitudes and actions. ” (Merkle 2015)
— (ECS: Ephesians) The most pertinent background to Paul’s image here is the depiction of the coming Messiah in the LXX of Isa 11:5: “He shall be girded with righteousness around the waist (ἐζωσαμένος τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ) and bound with truth around the sides” (NETS). Although many interpreters have looked to the Roman soldier as Paul’s model here, the messianic warrior is much more likely.

1.1. What is the truth referenced here?

— (ECS: Ephesians) The “truth” (ἀλήθεια) that Paul speaks of here can be interpreted in two ways: in the objective sense of the truth of the gospel or the elements of “the faith” (eph. 4:5), that is, the doctrinal truth of the common confession of the early church; or in the subjective sense of practicing honesty and living with moral integrity.

2. How is righteousness like a breastplate?

— A breastplate would be a front shield; or maybe it wraps around?
— Righteousness is a defense against accusation.
— Isaiah 59:17 refers to the messiah having a breastplate of righteousness.
 — We are given the messiah’s righteousness now; Jesus personally is our righteousness.  Romans 4:5, 5:17
— Righteousness can be weaponized. 2 Corinthians 6:7
— “Although some take the reference to righteousness here as God’s justifying, forensic righteousness, it is best to regard it as an ethical quality (see 4:24; 5:9). Thus, the breastplate that protects Christians from the assault of the enemy is nothing other than imitating the righteous character of God himself. Of course, shunning sin and cultivating holiness in life is impossible without first experiencing the objective gift of God’s righteousness which is received  through faith in Christ.” (Merkle 2015)
— It is the Messiah’s righteousness that is upon us: Romans 3:22
— Righteousness is given to us as a free gift. Romans 5:17

3. Is it important to be aware of the specific features at work?

— (ECS: Ephesians) One of the strategies of the accuser or slanderer (the meaning of διάβολος, often translated “devil”) is to call into question our status before God as righteous. Paul sought to counteract this through his continual reassurance that all who are in Christ are “saints” (see, e.g., Eph 1:1; Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:15, Ephesians 1:18)
— (ECS: Ephesians) Simultaneously, they are called to grow into a self-awareness of their new identity. This involves becoming profoundly cognizant of the changes that have occurred in their lives now that they have come to a knowledge of the truth, received righteousness, experienced salvation, been endowed with the gift of the Spirit, and are now able to exercise increasing faith in God.
— Knowledge of my status as Righteous is a defense against accusation by the devil.
— (ECS: Ephesians) The good news of the gospel Paul proclaims is that now “a righteousness from God …has been made known” (Rom 3:21), a “righteousness from God [that] comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (3:22). The believers in Ephesus had experienced this, Paul claims, when they heard the word of truth, put their faith in Christ, and received the Holy Spirit (1:13). The gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17) they received renders them free of all guilt on the day they will eventually stand before God in the end-time judgment, but right now they live in the freedom of that already realized verdict (Rom 5:1). They have been completely forgiven of all their sins on the basis of Christ’s blood (Eph 1:7), been reconciled to God as friends (2:16; Rom 5:10; Col 1:22), and enjoy a new status as sons and daughters (Eph 1:5; Gal 4:6).

Ephesians 6:15

Ephesians 6:15
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

1. What is the “gospel of peace”?

— reconciliation; we serve God by bringing it. 2 Corinthians 5:18.
— “the war is over”!

1.1 How are feet connected to the gospel of peace?

— Isaiah 52:7; the feet of the one bringing good news are special. This is probably the basis for the imagery Paul is using.
— Romans 10:15 also quotes Isaiah in connection with spreading the gospel.

2. What is the readiness given by that good news?

— since the war is over, and we are in the reconciliation business, then we’re equipped to do the job of the good news of peace.
— We’re prepared by having good news to share! «One debated issue is whether the phrase “the readiness of the gospel of peace” (literal translation) means (1) the preparation that comes from the gospel (ESV, NET, NIV, NLT) or (2) the readiness to proclaim the gospel (NJB, NRSV, TEV). The first option means that the believers are prepared for spiritual warfare and able to stand firm through the powerful message of the gospel, which is a message of peace. The focus is then on the defensive posture of the believer who keeps his ground, holding steadfast against the forces that are arrayed against him since his victory is already been won through the work of Christ. The second option involves the willingness of the believer to announce the good news about Jesus Christ and the peace he brings through reconciling God and man. This view involves a more offensive posture which views the shoes (or soldier’s boots) not merely as something to help him securely hold his position but something that helps him advance in order to attack into enemy territory. If Isa. 52:7 is seen as the source of Paul’s imagery, then the latter is to be preferred.» (Merkle 2015)
— (ECS: Ephesians) The third form of preparation that Paul advises believers to make is to ready themselves to share the gospel, which contains the message of peace with God.

3. How is this spreading of the gospel an active assault?

— (ECS: Ephesians) The proclamation of the gospel represents a major assault on the kingdom of Satan. By his work on the cross, Jesus has bound the strong man so that now God’s people can plunder the possessions of the strong man (Matt 12:29; Mark 3:27), that is, free the captives from Satan’s domain by announcing the good news of God’s salvation.

4. How is “peace” a weapon of war?

— (ECS: Ephesians) …weapon of peace. The warfare that believers are called to engage in does not view people as the enemies but as the victims. Unbelievers are in bondage to a threefold form of evil (the ruler of the realm of the air, the flesh, and the age of this world; eph. 2:2-3), which has led them to live sinfully and results in alienation from God and exclusion from his people (eph. 2:12). But at the heart of the gospel message is the good news that Jesus Christ can now be “our peace” (eph. 2:14) because he has shed his blood (eph. 2:13) for the forgiveness of sin. Spreading this good news means opposing the work of the principalities and powers, who endeavor to blind the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor 4:4).

Ephesians 6:16

Ephesians 6:16
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

1. What do we know about these darts?

— Faith is an adequate defense against them.
— They come in burning; but through trusting God we extinguish them.
— Every single dart can be extinguished!
— Without extinguishing, the fire of the evil one could spread.

2. Is faith a defense anywhere else in scripture?

— ephesians 2:8. You were delivered by grace through trusting.
— 1 john 5:4. With faith we overcome the world. In fact, faith seems to be the entire defense!
— in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Faith and love together are a breastplate
— 1 Timothy 1:19. Faith (together with a good conscience) defends us against spiritual shipwreck.

3. “In all circumstances” — are we tempted to not trust in some circumstances, and so make ourselves vulnerable?

— we need to be reminded that we cannot coast along through some encounters
— The flaming darts can and do shoot at us from anywhere.

4. What’s a flaming dart extinguished by faith?

— my guess: temptation?
— challenges to God’s ability, truth, holiness
— mark 4:40 — fear of being drowned in a boat
— it’s not the size of the faith that matters, but its existence, and the size of the thing trusted. Luke. 17:5-6
— Cultic gods might attack Christians, but: (ECS: Ephesians) The assurance of this passage is that they need not fear since the shield of faith supplied by the one true and omnipotent God is adequate to quench any of the flaming arrows sent by spirits associated with the Artemis cult or any other cult.
— Tempting thoughts, put in my mind. (Origen, Jerome)
— (ECS: Ephesians) persecution from political authorities,
—- thoughts of accusation of sin that bring intense feelings of guilt,
—- false teaching by those who claim to be Christians,
—- direct demonic attack through sickness and dreams,
—- and temptations to engage in behaviors displeasing to God (e.g., spontaneous “thoughts of doubt and disobedience, rebellion, lust, malice or fear”).

5. Are flaming arrows specific to Ephesians?

— No; (ECS: Ephesians) from Ammianus Marcellinus describes weaponry: But fire-darts (a kind of missile) (malleoli, teli genus) are made in this form: the shaft is of reed, and between this and the point is a covering of bands of iron; it looks like a woman’s distaff for making linen threads. It is skillfully hollowed out on the lower side with many openings, and in the cavity fire and some inflammable matter are placed. And if it is shot slowly from a somewhat loose bow (for it is extinguished by too swift a flight) and has stuck anywhere, it burns persistently, and water poured upon it rouses the fire to still greater heat; and there is no way of extinguishing it except by sprinkling it with dust.
— SPECIALLY ASSOCIATED WITH ARTEMIS. (ECS: Ephesians) One of the many ways that the Ephesian readers experienced the attacks of the enemy was through the local pagan cults, particularly the cult of Artemis. The bow and arrow was the preferred weapon of the Greek Artemis, and this was also the main weapon of the Asia Minor goddess. There is an important Roman era Ephesian inscription that records the instructions received by an embassy from an area northeast of Sardis who consulted the oracle god, Apollo. In this inscription, Artemis is described as the goddess “with the golden quiver” (line 2), as “the shooter of arrows” (line 11), and as “the straight-shooting one” (line 11). When this is combined with the last line (line 18) of the inscription that issues the warning that if they do not fulfill the rites prescribed by Apollo, then they “will pay the penalty of fire,” it is easy to see how Artemis could be seen as one taking vengeance “with fiery arrows” on those who do not live according to her code.

Ephesians 6:17

Ephesians 6:17
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

1. How is salvation like a helmet?

— 1 Thessalonians 5:8. The HOPE of salvation is a helmet.
— Isaiah 59:17: God wears a helmet of salvation.
— «Paul does not urge his readers to embrace salvation because they do not already possess it, but because they possess it, they must constantly appropriate it by faith. Thus, to put on salvation “means to realize and appropriate one’s new identity in Christ, which gives believers power for deliverance from the supernatural enemies on the basis of their union with the resurrected and exalted Lord.” (Clinton Arnold) (1 Thess. 5:8). » (Overall quote from Merkle 2015)
— God fights for us, but also gives us the gear we need to be in the fight ourselves.

1.1 is this salvation future hope, or something present?

— Ephesians 2:5. You HAVE BEEN saved.
2. How is the spirit like a sword, an offensive weapon?
— “We demolish arguments…take thoughts captive,” attacking 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
— Dangerous: Enemies are slain by the word of God’s mouth. Hosea 6:5
— Dissecting: Word of God compared to a sword, discerning between soul/spirit, thoughts/intentions of heart. And it is surgical: joints/marrow.  Hebrews 4:12.
— The Messiah armed: Isaiah 49:2
— God strikes the wicked with the sword of his mouth. Isaiah 11:4, revelation 19:15-21.
— The word of the Saints’ TESTIMONY defeats the accuser. Revelation 12:11
— (ECS: Ephesians) this weapon represents an appeal to the church to make known the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, an action that amounts to a major form of aggression against the kingdom of evil.

3. Do we have examples of God’s word used as a weapon?

— Jesus’ temptations. Matthew 4:4-11, he quotes the Bible.
— Our own struggle against sin and assailants. Hebrews 12:3-6. God’s words remind us that the struggle is allowed by God for our good.
4. Is it significant that this is the only clearly offensive weapon?
— (ECS: Ephesians) Believers will assuredly come under attack and need to take a defensive stance, but this will frequently happen in the context of making offensive inroads into the dominion of darkness by sharing the gospel and freeing the captives.

Ephesians 6:18

Ephesians 6:18
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

1. Why is prayer directly linked to the panoply?

— Perhaps it’s the image of alertness that a soldier should have
— maybe it’s really not so directly linked: Maybe, as in HCSB, this is a new sentence.
— Luke 22:46. Prayer is itself a defense against temptation.
— Deuteronomy 11:19. We’re to be constantly considering the Word of God. So praying at all times — in the spirit, with all prayer and supplication, alert with perseverance making supplication for everybody — is the METHOD of taking the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
— 1 Corinthians 14:15. Alertness: Prayer happens In My spirit sometimes, but should also occur in your MIND.
— (ECS: Ephesians) [Prayer] ties the passage back to eph. 6:10 – 11, which calls on believers to depend on the power of the Lord, and it thus forms an inclusio bracketing the entire passage. Prayer is the means by which believers depend on the Lord and request his empowerment for themselves and others in the body of Christ.

2. This reminds me of the scene of prayer in Gethsemane, when the disciples failed to keep alert (Matthew 26:41). How are prayer and alertness linked?

— Colossians 4:2-4. Stay alert with thanksgiving; be ready == persevere.
— Mark 13:33-36. “Watch, and stay alert!” For the coming of the Son of Man. We’re to be like the overnight staff, expected to be alert.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8. We belong to the day, so we must be alert. So put on the armor…

3. What supplication for all the saints, I.e., all the Christians everywhere, required here?

— 1 Timothy 2:1. Prayers and supplications for ALL people
— Philippians 4:6. Prayers and supplications are a defense against anxiety,
— Supplication specifically for Paul to have boldness opening his mouth.
— Supplication for all the Christians, most obviously to STAND against the wiles of the attacker.
— (ECS: Ephesians) Since soldiers typically need help in putting on their armor, prayer can be seen as a way that we can help “arm” fellow believers for the struggle. Paul modeled this with his regular intercessory prayers for the people and even gives us an insight into how to pray for others. Since many Christians have a tendency to spend most of their small group prayer times praying for those who are sick or facing a crisis, Paul models here a different approach that stresses ongoing prayer in a way that prepares people to face inevitable struggles.

4. “To that end…” I.e., “Keep alert with all perseverance making supplication for all the saints [because you are to be] praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” What is the structure and meaning here?

—  “(Complete Jewish Bible) …As you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God’s people”
— HCSB 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
— ESV: It seems like “keep alert…saints” is a specific way commanded to follow a more general command to be “praying at all times…supplication”.

4.1. What does the expression “with all perseverance” add?

— This is the way the early church prayed. Acts 1:14, acts 2;42, acts 6:4)
— (ECS: Ephesians) The term was often used in Greek literature to express the relentless pursuit of something, or (as a standard lexicon puts it) “to persist obstinately in” something.

5. “praying at all times with all prayer and supplication”. What is “praying … with all prayer”? what is the difference between prayer and supplication?

— Ephesians 1:16. Paul never stops praying and thinking God for them.
— praying: verb. Prayers: expressions of need. Supplication: expressions of desires.
— (ECS: Ephesians) With every kind of prayer and request” (διὰ πάσης προσευχῆς καὶ δεήσεως) indicates that Paul is thinking of every conceivable form of prayer. In the normal usage of the terms, the first indicates prayer generally and the second refers to asking God to fulfill various requests.

5.1 Praying in/with the spirit: what does it mean?

— (ECS: Ephesians) It is better understood as a dative of means, that is, praying “by the Spirit.” The Spirit stands by the side of believers to prompt them to pray, to direct them whom to pray for and how to pray, as well as to energize them in praying for themselves and others. To limit the meaning of this expression to praying in tongues hinders us from seeing the full range of what Paul is saying here about the work of the Spirit in conjunction with prayer. Even when we do not know how we should pray, the Spirit is involved in interceding with God on our behalf (Rom 8:26 – 27).

6. Why the sudden emphasis on ALL the Christians in the world?

— There are lots of references in Ephesians to “all the Saints”
—- Ephesians 1:15 — the Ephesians are known for their love for all the saints
—- Ephesians 3:8 — Paul, the evangelist to Gentiles, is the least of all the saints
—- Ephesians 3:18 — The Ephesian Christians are called to comprehend with all Christians everywhere the enormity of God’s power
— Paul demonstrated this kind of prayer for the Ephesians in this book: (ECS: Ephesians) Paul has already modeled for them what to pray (see Ephesians  1:15 – 23; eph 3:14 – 21). In effect, he has repeatedly sought to “arm” them through his prayers.

6.1 What kind of prayer is this that Paul is recommending for everybody? What are we asking God to do?

— (ECS: Ephesians) far beyond a tendency for Christians to limit most of their praying to prayers for people in crisis (with health problems or in the midst of other kinds of difficulties). While that is important, there is much intercessory prayer that needs to take place “for all the saints” before the crises hit. This is probably the way that Epaphras was praying for the Colossians when Paul commended him in his letter: “Epaphras …is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm (ἵνα σταθῆτε) in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Col 4:12).

7. Is prayer in battle part of the Roman military tradition?

— Yes: Devotio, a solemn offer of one’s life in exchange for victory.
— Soldiers would sacrifice to Mars before a war to ensure victory.
— After the battles the rite of supplicatio was prayer to gods.

Ephesians 6:19

Ephesians 6:19
and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,

1. Paul asks elsewhere (Colossians 4:3) for an open door. Acts frequently describes the disciples preaching boldly. Does bold speaking fit in with the rest of Ephesians?

— A man wearing armor can be bold.
— Ephesians 3:12 — we have boldness and access to God through Jesus the Messiah

2. How common is it in the Bible to see a request for the clear, bold, undisturbed spread of the gospel?

— 1 Thessalonians 5:25
— 2 Thessalonians 3:1
— Acts 4:29-31

3. The term “παρρησία” translated as boldness (“opening my mouth boldly”) is elsewhere translated as clarity, and openness. However, in Ephesians 6:20, the word παῤῥησιάζομαι is also used specifically referring to boldness and courage. What’s the link between clarity and boldness?

— 2 Corinthians 3:12: to teach the gospel clearly is to teach without a veil, so the message can be seen clearly and directly.
— You can preach, but hide behind vagueness and obscurities to reduce the effect of the message.

4. Why does Paul pray for λόγος, logos, the message in words? Doesn’t he already have the words?

— Apparently he needs it for every interaction
— Boldness and the Logos have gone together elsewhere: Acts 4:31
— (ECS: Ephesians) The situation is not that Paul does not know what to say; he knows the gospel message extremely well. He wants divine leading and strength to put the words together in a timely and powerful way.

5. Paul asks here for boldness/clarity for declaring a mystery of the gospel. There’s an ironic tension between BOLDLY explaining a MYSTERY.

—  Ephesians  3:3-9 — numerous references to clearly explaining the mystery. Paul’s job is to “bring to light” for everyone; this sounds a lot like the 2 Corinthians 3:12 reference to the veiled truth.
— (ECS: Ephesians) the “mystery” is an apocalyptic expression from the book of Daniel that refers to God’s redemptive plan for the end of the age. In Paul’s understanding, Jesus is the fulfillment of this plan and is thus the content of the mystery (eph. 3:3 – 4). Here Paul explains the mystery as “the gospel” (τοῦ εὐαγγελίου; the genitive is explanatory, i.e., epexegetical). Although Paul could have stated this more simply as a request for boldness “to proclaim the gospel,” the idea of revealing the mystery puts this activity in the broader scope of God’s sovereign plan for the ages and for the nations of the world.
6. Is it selfish to ask people to temporarily stop praying for other stuff, and ask them to focus prayer on me?
— Paul does this right here so he can be bold in his desperate situation in Rome.

Ephesians 6:20

Ephesians 6:20
for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

1. Why does Paul repeat the boldness request?

Ephesians 3:19 “open mouth boldly”
Ephesians 3:20 “declare it [mystery of the gospel] boldly”
— 3:19 is παρρησία: outspokenness, frankness
— 3:20 is παῤῥησιάζομαι: speaking freely and frankly
— Both carry an idea of free speech, without masking or veiling the truth.
— see Ephesians 6:19 &N

2. “As I ought to speak”: there’s a particular way Paul believes he SHOULD speak, as if it’s moral. How do I apply that? Does the nature of the mystery of the gospel also mean that I *SHOULD* speak in a particular way, or is this necessity due to Paul’s commission as apostle to Gentiles? (See Ephesians 3:1)

— He doesn’t say “how we all ought to speak.” He’s not turning the prayer request into a sermon.
— But it seems reasonable for us to adopt this prayer for ourselves. Philippians 1:7 — we are partakers with Paul both in spreading the message and his imprisonment; so we can be sure Christ will complete his work in us.

3. “Ambassador in chains” seems ironic; I’m accustomed to an ambassador having some immunity. He’s an ambassador and emissary for Jesus, and he was also in chains. Why put these two together, here?

— Even in antiquity, an ambassador was to be treated well by the host country. The risk of mistreating an King’s envoy is that the King might attack the host.
— 2 Corinthians 5:20 — Paul and others are ambassadors for God, trying to win us over to be reconciled to God.

4. If he’s already in chains, shouldn’t he be bold already? How much worse could it get — he’s already arrested! Or maybe in being in prisoner, he’s that much closer to being executed.

— 1 Thessalonians 2:2-4 — His imprisonment would tend to make him fearful and timid. But he was MORE anxious about pleasing God than about pleasing men, even his captors.

5. How does Paul’s imprisonment contribute to his argument in Ephesians?

  • — Ephesians 3:1. He’s imprisoned for the sake of the Gentiles. And he’s committed, serious, about the gospel as he prays for us to be strengthened and to comprehend.
  • — Ephesians 4:1. Paul is taking this gospel seriously, and suffering personally for it. The man suffering for it wants us to live in a manner worthy of it (and worthy of the price.)
  • — Ephesians 6:20. He’s taking risk by preaching, and wants to keep doing so boldly.
  • — 1 John 3:16. He’s laying down his life for the spread of the gospel. He could have gone quiet to make himself more comfortable.
  • — He’s demonstrating the seriousness of the calling. He’s inviting us to prison along with him. Prison seems just the opposite of being a free and powerful, armed soldier; but it’s not the opposite.

6. What is the battle we’re to stand for?

  • — For Paul, it was: DECLARING the GOSPEL
  • — All this armor and alertness and prayer seems to come down to a single battle line: 1. praying for all the saints in general, but also, for an apostle, 2. Opening his mouth to speak boldly.
  • — Is declaring the gospel verbally and boldly the battle for everyone? He doesn’t say. He only says that we’re to pray for everyone.


All references are from the ESV unless noted.

“Merkle 2015” is Ephesians: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament by Benjamin Merkle.

“ECS: Ephesians” is by Clinton Arnold, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Ephesians.

Is Lacking Wisdom Evidence of Sin?

In Uncategorized on March 11, 2015 at 4:02 pm

We Christians believe there were people who lived before sin. When we study their nature, we learn more about God’s design for all of us.

God says we need His wisdom

God teaches in the Bible that we cannot depend entirely on our own discernment, wisdom, judgment as the ultimate answer to any question. For example, Proverbs 3 argues not to rely exclusively on your own capacity:

Proverbs 3:5-7:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

Jesus’ brother, James, taught us to recognize our lack of wisdom on a subject, and then to ask God for it.

James 1:5:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

But both of these were written after the fall of man, and after the sin nature was well ensconced in every naturally-born human’s heart.

Does our need for wisdom, and our inability to have adequate judgment, come from sin?

Basilique Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul d’Andlau, Alsace, France

Look at God’s advice to Adam and Eve, who had not yet sinned:

Genesis 2:16-17:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

Then Eve, using her own judgment and misled by the serpent, directly contradicted God’s instruction.

Genesis 3:1-6:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden ’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. ’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

So 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 to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Before sin, Eve was unable to make the right decision depending on her own capability.

God comes and confronts Adam and Eve about it in Genesis 3:8-11:

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “ I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said,  “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

God didn’t design us to be wise enough on human strength alone.

With her own judgment, Eve couldn’t put together all of the factors, including God’s instructions, the trustworthiness of the serpent, and the value of her own logic. Was it sin to use the wrong judgment or to be deceived?

God had never told Adam and Even that they needed to use impeccable logic, and never forget any facts. He had told them they were to trust him on the matter of the fruit of this one tree.

Both Adam and Eve, without any sin in their hearts, used poor judgment. They needed God’s help, God’s wisdom. God did not equip them to make perfect decisions.

It does not require a sin nature to have bad logic, to be deceived or to be misled.

Eve evaluated the fruit and the consequences. She ultimately used poor logic and had bad data, by judging the benefits of the fruit to be greater than the risk that God was right about the consequences.
She also had a conversation with the serpent, and took its advice. But none of that was condemned by God. 
Without a sin nature, she did several foolish, risky actions. But the only sin was taking the fruit and eating it. 

With or without Sin, we’re not capable of doing it alone

God didn’t put is on earth, in this life, to do it alone. Without any distortion of sin, or fog of depression, none of us are equipped to go it alone, using our own judgment, our own data, our own faculties.
But aren’t our own intelligence and skills gifts from God? Yes! And still Solomon teaches us, don’t rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Even though it is a gift of God to have any sense at all, we’re warned not to rely on it. 

What does it mean to be adopted by God?

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Take a minute to wrap your mind around everything it means to be a child of God:

Ephesians 1:5 In love he [God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will

— Romans 8:15-17: we are children for our heavenly Abba; confirmed in our spirit by suffering with Jesus

— fatherhood is an unending, faithful promise that expects faithfulness from both. Jeremiah 3:4,19

— being a child of God is the opposite of not even being a nation, a people. Hosea 1:10

— being a child of God is not a right granted to all, but is granted to those who believe Jesus and receive him, and comes about by God’s will. John 1:12-13.

— being a child is being led by God’s spirit, and having an affectionate, non-fearing  relationship with God the Father. Romans 8:14 and Galatians 4:6-7

— being a child of God makes us heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17 and Galatians 4:7

— and makes us able to suffer with Christ. Romans 8:17

— being a child of God means we have a glory now and awaiting us as our full adoption is completed. Romans 8:21-23

— being a child of God means we are expected to live in holiness. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

— God trains, tutors, educates, corrects us as sons to be holy, and the training isn’t pleasant in the short term. Hebrews 12:5-11

— being a child of God is to be loved with an unimaginable love, and we cannot even see all its implications yet. 1 John 3:1-2.

— being a child means thirsting for God, and conquering. Revelation 21:6-7.

Being God’s child means I am amazingly loved with my brothers and sisters, that I’m not on my own, but I’m part of a whole people, and have free-flowing conversation with a Father I trust and adore, and have responsibilities he has given me, and that I should expect difficulty.

How does God Lavish? Interrogating Ephesians 1:8

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Ephesians 1:3-10

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
1. What exactly is lavished on us?
— the riches of his grace (but that’s hardly concrete)
— in Titus 3:5 the Holy Spirit is also described as being poured out on us
>> God’s grace seems to be key here
2. Are we told how the lavishing is accomplished?
— See Ephesians 1:9 — by making known to us the mystery of his will
— Colossians 2:2 says riches are the full understanding of the mystery that is Christ
— Romans 9:23 talks about making known (revealing) God’s riches of mercy.
— Ephesians 3:8 preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ
— Ephesians 3:10 through the church, the wisdom would be MADE KNOWN
— Ephesians 3:16 According to the riches, God strengthens us to comprehend the enormity of Christ’s love
— Ephesians 2:4,7 God’s richness of mercy, because of great love, made us alive with Christ in order to SHOW the immeasurable riches of his grace
— There is something intrinsic to the lavishing about the making known, and the comprehension and the understanding
— APPLICATION: In the great commission we’re told to go and make this message known, to the extent of making disciples. That might mean that missions and preaching and teaching are mechanisms of lavishing!
>> The lavishing is in the forgiving and the redemption, but especially in the MAKING KNOWN to us
3. Why is grace depicted as being lavished upon or poured over us?
…Why did the grace have to be lavished upon us? Why not just “grace in appropriate measure for your sin”?
— in Eph 1:5 the grace belonged to God; and it is praiseworthy because he predestined us for adoption.
— Here the grace is overflowing onto us
— Romans 5:15,20 Grace abounds through Jesus’ resurrection
— Romans 5:21 grace reigns through righteousness leading to eternal life. (It’s like righteousness is the mechanism for grace in this case.)
4. In all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will…See eph 1:9 &N
5. Why is it important to emphasize wisdom and insight?
…What is particularly wise about what God was doing? Or why might one consider it unwise?
— Jesus’ work and resurrection is called wisdom; Isaiah 52:13
— Jesus says “wisdom is justified by her deeds”; in explanation of eating with sinners Matthew 11:19
— Paul extols God’s wisdom and inscrutability after explaining how he wields disobedience for our good; Romans 11:33
— Human wisdom doesn’t lead to repentance; but for those who believe, God reveals his wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:21
— If the human rulers had understood God’s wisdom, they wouldn’t have crucified Jesus. 1 Corinthians 2:7
— All treasures of wisdom and knowledge are knit together in Christ. Colossians 2:3
— Insight: God revealed the mystery long kept secret; it is the foundation of the good message. But God knew it all along, Romans 16:25
— Luke 1:17 — God will turn the disobedient to the wisdom [insight, φρόνησις phronēsis] of the just
>> God’s wisdom, and the secrets God has kept, are essential to God’s plan

Redemption, forgiveness, riches of grace. Interrogating Ephesians 1:7

In Uncategorized on January 29, 2015 at 12:47 pm
Ephesians 1:3-10

Spiritual Blessings in Christ
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
1. In him. Who is him?
— It could be either God the Father (the subject in Ephesians 1:3,4,5, and the independent clause in verse 6)
— it could be Jesus, the beloved, the closest antecedent being “the beloved”. But also in this verse we have “his blood,” which seems to clarify semantically that this referee to Jesus. This is because we’re never told about God the father having something like blood.
>> So I take the “in him” to mean “in Christ”.
2. We have redemption. Who is we?
— Paul along with the Ephesians Christians and those elsewhere.
— we and us throughout…with a distinction among believers made in Ephesians 1:12,13 about “we who were first to believe” and “you also”
>>> in this section, “we” are the Ephesians 1:1 saints, who are faithful
3. Redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses. What is “redemption?”
— This redemption must be the same as the forgiveness of our trespasses
— This means commission of trespasses must create bondage from which we are redeemed, ransomed
— Romans 6:18,20 — slaves to sin is what you are before
— Hebrews 9:15 — a death occurred that bought the redemption
— Matthew 20:28 — The son of man came to pay a ransom
— Galatians 1:4 — Jesus gave himself to free us from this present evil age.
>>> redemption is the paying of the ransom, to buy us out of bondage to other powers
4. According to the riches of his grace. What does “according to” tell us?
— The grace was the controlling motivation
— the grace sought to forgive sins and redeem
— the degree of forgiveness and redemption is as big as the riches. 
— so the grace is as at least as effective at redeeming and at forgiving as our sins are at capturing us
— Ephesians 3:18 — God’s love is so large even comprehending it takes God-given strength
4.1 What do we know about the riches of his grace?
— Ephesians 2:7. The riches of his grace are on display through the way God shows love for us: making us alive with Christ, raising us with him, seating us with him in heavenly places 
— Ephesians 3:16. The riches give us strength to have Christ dwell within, to trust God, to be rooted and grounded in love, to comprehend the enormity of the love of Christ, and to be filled with God’s fullness.
4.2 what is the link between forgiveness and uniting all things to himself?
— Ephesians 1:7-10. Grace to us in mighty magnitude poured onto us, and with it forgiveness and redemption, and it made us know God’s plan to unite all things to him.
4.3 Why does God reveal the riches of his grace?
— so we would know the purpose, and the plan, and the mediator of the plan, Jesus
— Romans 2:4. So we would be lead to repentance.
— Ephesians 3:8,9. Paul made apostle to Gentiles to illuminate the Riches and the plan
— Ephesians 1:18. So we will know the hope, and have the hope; so the eyes of our hearts will be enlightened.
— Proverbs 11:28. 1 Timothy 6:17. Worldly, corruptible Riches are something we falsely put hope in. (But God’s wealth is trustworthy.)
> Riches are to help us know and trust God’s goodness, and put our confidence and hope in Him.
5. This is the first of three statements about being “in him”. How are they linked?
— Ephesians 1:7 In him we Have redemption
— Ephesians 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance
— Ephesians 1:14 In him you also were sealed
>They all speak of realities not fully visible or to be more greatly completed later.
6. Is there any difference between redemption and forgiveness? 
…Colossians 1:14 seems to make them synonyms, or at least concurrent. 
— Romans 3:24. The redemption is IN Jesus. The grace comes THROUGH the redemption. 
— 1 Corinthians 1:30 Jesus is wisdom from God; and righteousness; and sanctification; and redemption
>> Redemption is escape and ransom from slavery. But we weren’t unwilling slaves to sin and Satan; by our willing choices, we had had our ear pierced to stay in The Dominion of Darkness forever. We needed ransom AND we needed forgiveness. 
7. Do we have the full forgiveness and redemption now, or will it come later?
— Ephesians 4:30 refers to the Holy Spirit sealing us for a day of redemption which seems to connect to Ephesians 1:13, the future day of full inheritance. So that seems like some sort of redemption is future.
— Romans 8:23 talks about the future date of the redemption of our bodies. Is that redemption the same one discussed here?
8. Why mention blood here, and not some other way of explaining it?
— Hebrews 9:12 Jesus’ access to the heavenly Most Holy Place was due to him because he had his own blood to offer
— Hebrews 9:14. Jesus’ blood purifies our conscience so that we can serve God.
— 1 John 1:7. Jesus’ blood makes a way for us to have pure relationships.
— 1 Pet. 1:18, 19: Jesus, the pre-existent, eternal one, who has now received glory has made us put our faith in God, and his mechanism was offering his own blood for paying the ransom of our sin
— Rev. 5:9. Jesus’ worth to conquer earth is demonstrated by making a people for himself through paying their ransom, which he did by his blood.
— But in some other parts of the Bible, God redeems without sin sacrifice: 
—- 2 Samuel 7:23 God redeemed by mighty acts before the other nations
—- 1 Chronicles 17:21 God drove out other peoples to redeem Israel
—- Psalm 44:26 Redeem David by rescuing him from enemies
—- Psalm 130:7 Redemption by love
—- Romans 8:23 FUTURE redemption of our bodies, but clearly not by a bloody sin sacrifice (Hebrews 10:26)
>> While redemption may come by other means, clearly God has chosen to redeem and ransom us from the power of sin by Jesus’ bloody death. 
9. “Redemption” and “paying ransom” have in them ideas of buying release from a power. Does the power have the right to do so? 
— If the power held us against propriety, it’s ironic that we’re predestined to be sons of God, but had to be redeemed from its power.
— Romans 6:19. We had willingly chosen to do wrong and grow in sinfulness. See #6 — we had pierced our ear to stay slaves forever.
>>> We individuals submitted ourselves as slaves to sin, and were held in its power.
10. Do we know anything else about Jesus’ blood?
— Mark 14:24: Jesus’ blood is the blood of the covenant. And it is poured out for many, (1 John 2:2 — the whole world)
— Hebrews 9:12. Jesus’ offered blood gave him the right to enter the heavenly holy of Holies.
— Hebrews 9:14. Jesus’ blood was offered without blemish. Jesus’ blood purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
— Hebrews 10:4. Jesus’ blood actually does TAKE AWAY sin.
— 1 Peter 1:18-19. Jesus’ blood paid the ransom price, and to free us from futile ways of our families.
— 1 John 1:7. Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin.
> Jesus’ blood cleanses from sin, removes the sin, sets us free, gives Jesus access to the Holiest place, confirms the new covenant, and is given for EVERYBODY! 

Praising Grace, but why? Interrogating Ephesians 1:6

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2015 at 12:12 pm
Ephesians 1:6
to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
1. What can we learn about all the good in Ephesians 1:4-5 by the statement that it is done “to the praise of his glorious grace”?

— If predestination, or adoption, or his will is interpreted to put God in a bad light, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG
— for example: if in explaining predestination you turn God into an unloving monster who makes children to die and burn in hell for eternity, and kind but ignorant, unevangelized pygmies who long for God but burn for never knowing the name Jesus, then YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG
>>> APPLICATION — is the way and contexts that I talk about predestination, election, etc., TO THE PRAISE OF GOD’s GRACE? Or is it argument? Divisive — the insiders vs the unlearned? The pro-missions against the complacent?
2. “With which he has blessed” We have been blessed with Grace. Or is it “blessed by grace?” Or is it “blessed using grace?” What does that mean? Is it called glorious grace because of greatness of the blessing?
— Ephesians 1:7 and 2:7 discuss “riches of his grace”
3. What does it mean to be blessed IN the beloved? 
— It parallels being adopted as sons THROUGH Jesus
— I suspect that there’s a shade of difference in THROUGH Jesus vs IN Jesus. 
—- THROUGH Jesus might mean Jesus is a conduit to us
—- IN Jesus might mean our only existence is our union with Jesus
— The difference is one of emphasis on our 
(a) blessings that come to us by way of Jesus, contrasted with 
(b) facts true of Jesus that become true of us when we are reconciled to Christ, and believe in him, and come to be IN Him.
>>Adoption as sons IN Jesus would make sense mostly of Jesus were adopted. But Adoption THROUGH Jesus can happen even though Jesus was begotten. 
4. Who is the beloved? Is it Jesus?
>> Yes; see eph 1:8
5. What was intended to receive the praise discussed here?
>> His glorious grace
6. What events or actions were leading to the praise discussed here? (Options from Eph 1:5)
… maybe: purpose of his will
… maybe: adoption as sons through Jesus Christ
… maybe: he predestined us
… maybe: In love he acted
— In any case, the action (I.e., the one that brought the praise to his glorious Grace) caused blessings IN the Beloved, Christ. 
— Isaiah 43:21: God blesses and cares for the people he formed for himself SO THAT they will bring Him praise.
— Isaiah 61:1-3,11: God grants freedom and deliverance and comfort and gladness SO THAT he will be glorified.
— Jesus died to purchase righteousness and life! This is the reason The Father loves the son.
7. Is “blessed (χαριτόω charitoō) in the beloved” is a reference back to “adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”?
… I.e., what was the blessing?
— Romans 5:15-17. The free (charisma, and dorea) gift is righteousness that comes through an abundance of grace. 
— Ephesians 1:13. The Holy Spirit is another gift, the guarantee of their inheritance.
— Colossians 1:13. The Father has transferred us from  the DOMAIN OF DARKNESS to the kingdom of his agape beloved Son!
— 1 Timothy 1:13-14. Grace overflows bringing faith and love.
— 1 Peter 2:9-10. We were not a people in the dark, and had received no mercy; but now we ARE a people, and not only a nation but a priesthood. And that is so we can proclaim the wonders of Him who brings us marvelous light!
— Ephesians 1:7. Redemption through his blood. Forgiveness of trespasses. 
>>> The blessings of being adopted and made IN Christ are numerous: forgiveness, righteousness, citizenship, a job, marvelous light, mercy, faith and love, TRANSFER from darkness, escape from the enemy kingdom, redemption from slavery, the right to proclaim God’s goodness.
8. Is the purpose of saying “to the praise of his glorious grace with which he has blessed…” is intended to establish that the glorious grace was integral in either the adoption, or to the predestining?
— my best guess: the grace was integral in the adoption as sons
— my best guess: the praise is triggered by his purpose, and his will, and his love, and his action of predestining us for adoption.
>>> therefore whatever it means to be “predestined as sons for adoption” it must also bring “praise to his glorious grace”.
9. Are we blessed WITH praise, or blessed WITH grace? And if grace, what does it mean to be blessed WITH grace (charis)?
— Philippians 3:9. We have a righteousness, and a share in His sufferings. 
— 1 Peter 2:5. We are like living stones building a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood to offer acceptable-to-God spiritual sacrifices. 
— Romans 3:22,26. We are justified to have righteousness of God, and that comes through faith in Jesus.
— Romans 8:1. There is no condemnation to those IN Christ.
— Could it be the praise we’re blessed with? Although God’s people will be attractive (Philippians 2:15 shine like stars, Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43 righteous will shine like the sun) that’s probably not the main point here.
>> It seems most likely that the WITH refers to grace that brings pardon.
10. Why is the grace itself praiseworthy, and not God himself?
— 2 Corinthians 4:15. As grace extends to more and more people, that increases thanksgiving, and that brings glory to God. 
— 1 Timothy 1:13-14. Grace overflows with faith and love.
— Grace is like a beautiful river flowing from a mountain; we are blessed by drinking it and irrigating with it, and our hearts are drawn back to the source of the stream. The river flows with faith, and love, and it floods our land; and we know the mountain is even more beautiful. 
11. Whatever is the the praise of his Glorious Grace here:
…in Ephesians 1:12, the first to hope would be to the praise of his Glory
…in Ephesians 1:14, your hearing and believing and sealing with the Holy Spirit is to the praise of his Glory
…so is there something essentially in common about the three praiseworthy things?
> hearing and believing and hoping and sealing and adopting and predestining are all part of the same package
12. What is the difference between “blessed IN The Beloved” here and “adoption as sons THROUGH Jesus Christ”?
— blessedness isn’t as powerful as adoption. 
>> see 3. 
13. What’s the significance of calling Jesus the beloved (ἀγαπάω agapaō)? Why not the title Christ again, or the pronoun “him”?
— it helps answer the question of the object of love in Ephesians 1:4
— it connects to Jesus’ baptism, where he was called the beloved son, in whom God was well pleased. Matthew 3:17.
— it becomes a name of Jesus.
— John 3:35. God’s love of the Son is linked with Jesus’ authority and ownership of all things.
— John 10:17. The reason that God loves the Son: because the son willingly lays down his life.
14. When and how did God begin planning for his praise?
— before the age began
— before foundation of the world
— God is strategic!
>> God had general objectives, specific plans, specific actions, to accomplish this end: praise of his glorious grace.
15. Do I learn something about my need to plan and be strategic for God’s glory?
>>> APPLICATION. God has planned, had general desires, specific stated goals, specific actions for His plan. It was the way he worked from BEFORE THE DAWN OF TIME. I only have a few years to live on earth: how is my planning going? What are my stated, explicit goals? What are my concrete actions? What steps am I taking to ensure my efforts auger to the PRAISE OF HIS GLORIOUS GRACE and not some other prestige for myself?

Predestined for adoption because of a Purpose. Interrogating Ephesians 1:5

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2015 at 12:50 pm
Ephesians 1:5 (ESV)
5 [in love] he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
>>> The key thrust of this section is on the implications of being IN JESUS, and good THROUGH JESUS.
1. “In love”: was it 
(A) in love of his Son (see beloved, verse eph 1:6), or 
(B) love of us, 
(C) in his nature which is love
that led God to do this?
— Ephesians 5:1-2 — Jesus’s example of giving himself up for us as a fragrant aroma and sacrifice is our standard for walking in love.
— 1 John 4:16-22. God is love; God loved us first; thus we are compelled to love others.
>> Ephesians 1:6 Identifies the Beloved (ἀγαπάω agapao), Yeshua Messiah
1.1 What would love of the Father for Jesus have to do with predestining us for adoption?
— John 17:24. *Because* God loved Jesus before the foundation of the world, Jesus asks for those given to Jesus to be with Jesus where Jesus is.
>> Adoption through Jesus is the way God answers Jesus’s prayer.
1.2 Does this verse provide any information about those who do not believe currently, or about those who do seem to believe but don’t endure in belief (Philippians 2:16, Romans 8:17, Hebrews 10:35-36, Philippians 3:11, Luke 8:13)?
… Does John 12:32 “I will draw all men to myself” mean that those who reject the Gospel are acting against God’s “purpose of His will”?
2. From the perspective of double election: Was it like, “Son, Jesus, you know I love you, and that’s why I have to punish you [by condemning some to die by blinding some from belief]?” 
— 2 Corinthians 4:4 Gods of this age have done the blinding
— Luke 10:21 God is delighted to have revealed his message to children, and hidden from the wise and understanding
— How does it delight God to make some vessels for dishonor? Romans 9:21
— How can it be God’s pleasure to hide it from anybody? 
2.1 Is this predestination for adoption (a) something that applies to a class of all who believe (“us”) and not applied easily to individuals, or (b) something applied to individuals at some time in history, prior to their lives?
— all of the nearby descriptions of the elect are of a group: “chose us”, “that we should live”, “predestined us for adoption”
— Ephesians 1:4 refers to this happening before the earth began
— 2 Timothy 1:9 refers to these things happened before the ages began
>>> This happened before or outside of what we call “history” or “time”
2.2 What does “predestine” (προορίζω proorizō) mean?
— The common definition is to limit or define in advance
— The component word “pro” can mean “from above” as well as “in advance”, so I don’t know why it’s always taken to have a temporal idea rather than a spatial or authority idea. But it certainly is taken that way.
— Titus 1:2 and 2 Timothy 1:9 refer to things that happened before the ages began; before time
— If προορίζω meant “determine from above” or “determined from a place of priority,” it might subtly shift views on election.
>>> It probably has the conventionally-applied definition.
2.3 How does adoption change things — e.g., affect our relationship with God?
— Romans 8:15-17: we are children for our heavenly Abba; confirmed in our spirit by suffering with Jesus
— fatherhood is an unending, faithful promise that expects faithfulness from both. Jeremiah 3:4,19
— being a child of God is the opposite of not even being a nation, a people. Hosea 1:10
— being a child of God is not a right granted to all, but is granted to those who believe Jesus and receive him, and comes about by God’s will. John 1:12-13.
— being a child is being led by God’s spirit, and having an affectionate, non-fearing  relationship with God the Father. Romans 8:14 and Galatians 4:6-7
— being a child of God makes us heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17 and Galatians 4:7
— and makes us able to suffer with Christ. Romans 8:17
— being a child of God means we have a glory now and awaiting us as our full adoption is completed. Romans 8:21-23
— being a child of God means we are expected to live in holiness. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18
— God trains, tutors, educates, corrects us as sons to be holy, and the training isn’t pleasant in the short term. Hebrews 12:5-11
— being a child of God is to be loved with an unimaginable love, and we cannot even see all its implications yet. 1 John 3:1-2. 
— being a child means thirsting for God, and conquering. Revelation 21:6-7.
>>> Being God’s child means I am amazingly loved with my brothers and sisters, have free-flowing conversation with a Father I trust and adore, have responsibilities he has given me, and that I should expect difficulty.
3. “Adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” What does it mean we were adopted THROUGH Jesus?
…Jesus wasn’t adopted himself. Jesus was begotten.
>> All of the New Testament teaches that being IN Christ is trusting and believing in him, and living by him and through him. 
4. “According to the purpose of his will”: why not just “according to his will” or “according to his purpose”? The phrase “purpose of his will” seems long and complex, almost evasive.  What does it mean?
— see also Ephesians 1:12 &n where a different word for  “purpose”  (πρόθεσις) and the same word translated “will” (θέλημα) are discussed
— here, “purpose” is rendering of εὐδοκία eudokia, also used elsewhere as “good will”, “delight” or “desire” or “pleasure”
—- eudokia aligns with agape ἀγάπη:  (A) love, affection was the basis, of the predestination, while (B) the predestining worked to accomplish good pleasure, delight, and happy purpose.
—- It is God’s gracious will (eudokia)  to reveal things to little children hidden from the wise. Luke 10:22
—- It Pleased God (eudokio)through the folly of preaching to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21
—- God wills and works his good pleasure (eudokia) in us. Philippians 2:13.
— here, “will” is rendering of θέλημα thelema, general objective and desires.
—- in Matthew 26:42, Jesus chose to follow God’s will rather than avoid the pain of the cross
—- see Romans 12:2 — God’s will is (a) not obvious to everybody, and in alignment with it we do what (b) is good, (c) is acceptable and (d) is perfect.
>>> God’s great plan had a delightful manifestation: predestining us for adoption through Christ. The predestination isn’t the great plan, but a happy part of it.
5. Does the sense of delight in “purpose (eudokia) of his will” refer to the way God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23), but at the same time this verse refers to adoption as sons?
… God does not delight in (חָפֵץ, ḥâp̱êṣ) anyone’s death, while this predestining was his delight (εὐδοκία eudokia)
6. Does this verse tell us whether anybody on earth was not predestined for adoption? I.e., is there a way to reject God’s predestination or adoptions?
>>> Surely the “us” includes believers in Christ; and some do not believe.
6.1 Does this verse tell us whether any named person on earth, yet to be born, was predestined for adoption? I.e., could someone potentially opt in to this role, not through the their own merit (Ephesians 2:8-9)?
>>> 2 Corinthians 5:20 Be reconciled to God! That’s how you opt in.
7. The whole idea of “predestination for adoption” is not obvious. Is it anything like a couple who decides they will adopt, and buys a house and a baby bed and clothes, but only actually adopts several years later?