Friday, December 8, 2017

72 - The Leaven of the Pharisees

How is it you do not perceive that I did not speak to you about bread, but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?" 
Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He was questioning His disciples, saying, "Who do men pronounce Me, the Son of Man, to be?" 
So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others say Elijah, and yet others say Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 
He said to them, "But who do you pronounce Me to be?" 
And Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 
Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I shall build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. 
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth will have been loosed in heaven." Mat. 16:11-19 

The setting:

Christ and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee and too late realized that they had forgotten to bring along some bread.  In the meantime, Christ was thinking about spiritual things and He said to them, Look out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Mat. 16:6. Rabbinical writers regularly use leaven as a symbol of evil (Lightfoot). [ISBE] It seems that since Christ mentioned the leaven they thought He was censuring them for forgetting the bread.


T
he Conversation:


Christ corrected their false notion by saying, How is it you do not perceive that I did not speak to you about bread, but to beware of the leaven (evil teachings) of the Pharisees and Sadducees?"


After leaving the Scribes and the Pharisees behind He was curious to know "Who do men pronounce Me, the Son of Man, to be" so He asked His friends.  

In response they gave Him a list:

  • John the Baptist, 
  • Elijah, 
  • Jeremiah, 
  • or one of the prophets.
Now that Christ knew what others were saying about Him He zeroed in on His main point; But who do you (plural) pronounce Me to be?

Simon Peter, always the outspoken one, replied: You are the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the living God.

Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah (Simon son of Jonah) because flesh and blood (human teachers) did not reveal this to you. This is not something you can learn in seminaries or from books.  This is something you can only grasp by faith and then only when it is revealed to you by My Father who is in heaven.

I also say to you that you are Peter (in Greek Petros, meaning: rock).  This was not the name his parents had given him but it was the name Christ gave him when He called him to be His disciple.

upon this rock I shall build My church.  This statement wields a major point of contention.
  1. Some have supposed that the word “rock” refers to Peter’s confession, and that Jesus meant to say, upon this rock, this truth that thou hast confessed, that I am the Messiah and upon confessions of this from all believers, I will build my church.                                                               
  2. Others have thought that Jesus referred to himself. Christ is called a rock, Isa_28:16; 1Pe_2:8. And it has been thought that he turned from Peter to himself, and said, “Upon this rock, this truth that I am the Messiah - upon myself as the Messiah, I will build my church.”                                           
  3. Another interpretation is, that the word “rock” refers to Peter himself.  This is the obvious meaning of the passage; and had it not been that the Church of Rome has abused it, and applied it to what was never intended, no other interpretation would have been sought for. [Barnes] 


Points 1 & 2 make the Scriptures say something that is not written there. Theologians have come up with these ideas because they do not like what the Roman church has done to the meaning of these words which Christ spoke.  Why not let the words of Christ mean what He said but let's rid these words of the false connotations which the third and fourth-century church forced on to them? 

To Peter, Christ said, “Thou art a rock. Thou hast shown thyself firm, and suitable for the work of laying the foundation of the church. Upon thee will I build it. Thou shalt be highly honored; thou shalt be first in making known the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.” [Barnes]

This statement is shown to be true in the Book of Acts where we find Peter preaching to both the Jews and to the Gentiles before Paul was even converted.

Christ did not mean, as the Roman Catholics say he did, to exalt Peter to supreme authority above all the other apostles, or to say that he was the only one upon whom he would rear his church.[Barnes]

Earlier we studied Christ's choice of the twelve disciples and there we learned that Peter was not mentioned as being superior to any of the other disciples. The wall of the city also had twelve foundation stones, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Rev. 21:14.   See:                  https://wwwthinkagai.blogspot.com/2017/08/55-choosing-foundation-stones-of-holy.html

More than all, it is not said here, or anywhere else in the Bible, that Peter would have infallible successors who would be the vicegerents of Christ and the head of the church. [Barnes]

and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.  In fortified cities of ancient times, the walls around the cities had "council" chambers at some of the gates.  It was in those "chambers" where the "council" members would make the major decisions for the city.  So the word gates represented the decisions or actions of the city's leaders.  Christ says the decisions or actions of Hell will not prevail against the Church.

Just a casual reminder: Hell (Hades) is the place where the wicked dead are kept until judgment day.  It is not taught anywhere in the Bible that Hell is a Lake of Fire.  This, of course, is not to say that the Bible does not speak of a Lake of Fire.

The Rules


I will give you the keys (the authority) of the kingdom of heaven (the Church on earth), and whatever you bind (the things which you forbid) on the earth (for the Church) will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose (permit) on the earth will have been loosed in heaven (permitted by heaven's decree).

With this statement in mind, we can look back to the first meetings held by the church council in Jerusalem.   It was there that the disciples laid the ground rules for the future of the church.  The rules they made were accepted in heaven and are not to be changed by any sect or off shot group who claim to belong to the church of Christ.   

We had a list of these rules in:                                               https://wwwthinkagai.blogspot.com/2017/11/70-clean-dirty-hands.html.

The church has not failed too badly in keeping most of the rules laid down by the disciples but it has really messed-up by making many more rules than the disciples ever dreamed off.  Note:

  1.  Many first-generation Christians insisted that all Christian males must be circumcised.  The disciples vetoed that teaching.
  2.  You must "keep the Sabbath".  The disciples did not say which day to gather to worship.
  3.   It is a sin to have electricity on your farm our in your house.
  4.   It is a sin to fly in an aeroplane.  Sailing on a cruise liner is not a sin.
  5.   It is a sin to wear a necktie.
  6.   You are not a spiritual person if you cannot speak in tongues.
  7.   Oh, why continue, the list is endless.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  I can't decide whether this following scene is from TV comedies, serious serials or movies, or some flippant jokes, maybe even from some unknowing Bible teacher, but I am sure it is not from the Bible.  

Saint Peter is standing at heaven's gate, with keys in hand, and when any human on earth has passed away that human goes up to Saint Peter and asks for permission to enter Heaven.  Peter checks the records and accordingly he makes his decision.  How uninformed can people really be?

Friday, December 1, 2017

71 - Water, Fish and Jonah

And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. 
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Have courage! It is I AM; do not fear." Mat 14:26-27.

The Impossible is Not


The story of Christ walking on the lake has created a lot of debate.  From "it is impossible" to "Christ is God and God can do anything".   

First of all, it would not be necessary for Christ to be God for Him to be able to walk on water.  Here is a repeat from a former post; "when John baptized Christ He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. Mat 3:16.  This statement may well be the key to defining the ministry of Christ."  https://wwwthinkagai.blogspot.com/2017/04/39-forerunner-meets-messiah.html

Since the spirit of Jehovah was resting on Christ, walking on water would not have been a problem for Him.

W
hen the disciples saw Him walking on water they thought they saw a ghost and were afraid so, to calm their nerves, Christ said, Have courage! It is I AM. In Greek "I am" is "EGO EIMI".  By writing, I AM, in capital letters, trinitarian Bible students falsely emphasize the idea that Christ is "the great I AM - Jehovah Himself".  The more exact meaning is Jesus said to them, "Don't worry! I am Jesus. Mat. 14:27, CEV.

T
hat Christ did not mean to imply that He was God is made very clear in a blog by Krista Mariia.  I quote, "John 9:9 is a similar verse. In this verse a man who had been blind from birth (John 9:1), and was healed by Jesus, said the same Greek words, "EGO EIMI", "I am". Did he claim to be God?"

This removes all basis for trinitarians to argue that Jesus was trying to fit Exodus 3:14 to himself in Mark 6:50, or in any other scripture having the words "EGO EIMI".  
https://plus.google.com/113319691454674109629/posts/KrzZCur9HFJ

For much more good Bible teaching I suggest:
  https://plus.google.com/collection/IICTNE\

Enough Bread and Fish 


So they all ate and were satisfied, and they took up what they had left of the fragments, twelve baskets full. 

Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, apart from women and children. Mat. 14:20-21

So they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up what they had left of the fragments, seven hampers full. 
Now those who ate were four thousand men, apart from women and children.  Mat. 15:37-38


These two stories, side by side, have caused some to believe that it is the same situation with some random numbers changed.  Perhaps one storyteller rounded-up the numbers and another rounded-down the numbers.

However, Christ did not think that the two stories refer to the same incident.  He said, Do you not ... remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? 
Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many hampers you took up? Mat. 16:9-10

The Sign of Jonah


Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him, they asked Him to show them a sign out of heaven. 
... 

An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And leaving them behind He went away.  Mat. 16:1-4

came ... testing Him.  They wanted to ensnare Christ; perhaps they could catch how he did His "slight of hand" tricks; things like making the blind see or the lame walk. 

they asked Him to show them a sign out of heaven.  These earthly miracles you do are nothing compared to the miracles the "real" prophets "back then" did.  Moses gave us manna; Joshua made the sun stand still; there were thunder and lightning at the giving of the law.

The appearance of the rainbow, in a very extraordinary manner, is looked upon by the Jews as a sign of the Messiah's coming. "Says a certain Jew, when my father departed out of the world, he said thus to me; do not look for the Messiah until thou seest the bow in the world, adorned with light colours, and the world enlightened by it; then look for the Messiah, as it is written, Gen. 9:16.'' [Gill] 

Back then, already, Bible students put meanings into the Scriptures which were not even hinted at there.  And the rainbow shall be in the cloud. And I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. Gen. 9:16.

Do We Always Need to be Politically Correct


Christ well knew that they were not interested in believing Him.  With their request, they were just scorning Him.  So He bluntly said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.  It sounds as if Christ did not mind "stepping on the toes" of those who refused to believe Him.  He did not find it necessary to always be politically correct!  When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility. [Matthew Henry]   Why are we, The Christian Church, so eager to fit into the non-Christian's worldview?  

He said, I am not going to indulge you in your petty games; no sign will be given to it (an evil and adulterous generation) except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Christ walked away; leaving them behind.

What is the sign of Jonah?  Probably just the most impressive sign in the Old Testament.  Christ referred to that sign at another time, also.  He said, For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  Mat. 12:40 

That sign has been shared with humankind.  There are more copies of the Bible in the world than any other book.   History has vindicated that sign's accuracy. Whether or not humans believe that Christ died and rose again is their choice.  However, the fact stands secure; historical studies attest to it; Christ died and after three days and three nights He came back to life.

Friday, November 24, 2017

70 - Clean Dirty Hands

Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 

Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with ceremonially unclean, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 

For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands with their fist, holding the tradition of the elders. 

And coming from the marketplace, unless they bathe, they do not eat. And there are many other things which they have received by tradition, like the washing of cups and pitchers, copper vessels and couches.

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but they eat bread with unwashed hands?" 

And answering He said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 

And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' 

Well do you set aside the commandment of God, so that you may keep your tradition.


For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother';
But you say, 'If a man says to his father or to his mother, "Whatever you might be profited by me is Corban"--' (that is, a gift),
then you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or for his mother, 


thus nullifying the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down. Mark 7:1-13; 



You surely know that the food you put into your mouth cannot make you unclean. 
It doesn't go into your heart, but into your stomach, and then out of your body." By saying this, Jesus meant that all foods were fit to eat. 
Then Jesus said: What comes from your heart is what makes you unclean. 
Out of your heart come evil thoughts, vulgar deeds, stealing, murder, 
unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, meanness, deceit, indecency, envy, insults, pride, and foolishness. 
All of these come from your heart, and they are what make you unfit to worship God. Mark 7:18-23 CEV.


Traditions


when they, the Pharisees, saw some of His (Christ's) disciples eat bread with ceremonially unclean, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.  It seems that finding fault was their most obvious talent.


When we think of the words unwashed hands we think of dirty hands and, of course, we would wash before we eat.  This, however, is not what the Pharisees were referring to.


For these ceremonial washings, special stone vessels of water were kept, because ordinary water might be unclean. To wash your hands in a special way, you started by taking at least enough of this water to fill one and one-half egg shells. Then, you poured the water over your hands, starting at the fingers and running down towards your wrist. [Guzik]



they wash their hands with their fist, Then you cleansed each palm by rubbing the fist of the other hand into it. Then you poured water over your hands again, this time from the wrist towards the fingers. [Guzik]

holding the tradition of the elders.  They were overwhelmed with traditions and this is what bothered Christ about their religion.  Christ came to dispel cold religion and traditions. He said I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10.  


It is probably natural to think that the opposite of enjoying the abundant life Christ gives is being totally irreligious.  Isn't a religion weighed down by rules and traditions much more binding than no religion at all?  Not being bound by religious rules is more in line with Christ's attitude of freedom.

Of course, just because we reject religious, man-made, rules we do not reject the need for decency, honesty and obeying the laws laid down at the first church council meeting.  We looked at these in an earlier post:

1. to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols
2. and from blood, do not drink blood,
3. and from things strangled, do not eat meat with the blood still in it,
4. and from fornication. Acts 15:28-29; Acts 21:25.

Cancel the Traditions, Already!



Ceremonially, they wash their cups, pitchers, copper vessels and couches and coming from the marketplace, unless they bathe, they do not eat. We must not forget that this has nothing to do with making anything cleaner; it is just religious tradition.



Here are a few interesting side notes concerning the couches.

  1. These couches were not used for sleeping on.  They were the couches that, in Roman times, were used for leaning on while eating.
  2. These couches were too large to be completely submerged in water in any container that would normally be in a home.  Yet the word for wash, in this case, is the same word that is used for baptize.  They baptize their couches!
People who insist that baptism is valid only for those who have been completely immersed in water should have a problem with this verse.  If a couch can be baptised, and considered to be clean, without being completely immersed in water, why can't a Christian?

Christ could see right through their facade and said Isaiah was right when, speaking for Jehovah, he said This people honors Me with their lips.  You know all the right religious words to say; you know what kind of things to do to make people think you are really spiritual but your heart is far from Me.


Christ continued by saying, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men ... Well do you set aside the commandment of God, so that you may keep your tradition.  Here are a few quotes from Jewish teachers:


  • He who expounds the Scriptures in opposition to the tradition has no share in the world to come  
  • It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself. 
  • If the scribes say our right hand is our left, and our left hand is our right, we are to believe them. 
  • There is more in the words of the scribes than the words of the law. [Guzik]

Example One

Christ then gives an example of what the Jews, His peers, had done.  For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; this does not mean only to speak nicely to them, it also means to help them with whatever they need help with.


But you say, 'If a man says to his father or to his mother, "Whatever you might be profited by me is Corban"--' (that is, a gift).  In modern English: Your parents cannot fulfil their mortgage payment and they ask you for help but you say to them, Oh, I would love so much to help you but all the money in my bank account has been promised to God so I'm sorry I cannot help you.  Christ does not accept that vow as a good reason to break one of the ten commandments!


then you no longer allow (once you have made that vow to God you cannot undo it no matter how much your parents need your help and in that way you have nullified the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down.

Example Two


Christ gave His listeners another example.  He said You Jews are so fussy about what you eat and how it has been prepared You surely know that the food you put into your mouth cannot make you unclean.  It simply passes through the body and becomes waste.

Then Jesus said: What comes from your heart is what makes you unclean.
Out of your heart come:
evil thoughts, 
vulgar deeds, 
stealing, 
murder,
unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, 
meanness, 
deceit, 
indecency, 
envy, 
insults, 
pride, 
foolishness.  
All of these come from your heart, and they are what make you unfit to worship God.