The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 84

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 6

In our last post, we examined Yeshua’s Death is Again Foretold. This post looks at several topics starting with Yeshua’s Concern for the Young.

Yeshua’s Concern for the Young

36 He took a child and stood him among them. Then He put His arms around him and said to them, 37 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes not Me but the One who sent Me.[1]

The attitude of heart Yeshua is teaching does not even overlook a lowly child (at times marginalized in ancient societies) but welcomes, and thereby cares for, such a little one in His name. In contrast to the status-seeking of the talmidim (v. 34), Yeshua shows them they should willingly take on lowly, often unnoticed tasks and care for those with minor status worldwide. Anyone who does this, Yeshua says, welcomes Me and, in so doing, also receives the Father (the One who sent Me). Humbly caring for people of lowly status out of obedience to Yeshua will be rewarded by rich personal fellowship with both the Son and the Father.

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. [2] 10 See that you never despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually seeing the face of my Father in heaven.

Their angels in heaven are constantly seeing the face of my Father. The imagery recalls Oriental court ceremonies. The verse does not say that each believer has a guardian angel, but that recent Believers as a group have angels in heaven. The apocryphal book of Tobit (c. 300 BCE) speaks of guardian angels; Daniel and Zechariah mention angels of particular countries. The talmidim praying for Kefa thought that the knock at the door was that of “his angel” (Acts 12:15), but their ideas were not necessarily correct. There may be guardian angels, but Scripture does not prove it. Angels have many functions concerning believers: ministering to God on their behalf (Messianic Jews 1:14), protecting them (Psalm 91:11, Mt 4:6), overseeing their worship (1 Corinthians 11:10), in judgment, separating them from the wicked (Mattityahu 13:41, 24:31). Their function here is not stated.

(11 Some manuscripts include verse 11: For the Son of Man came to save the lost.) 12 Whats your opinion? What will somebody do who has a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away? Wont he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go off to find the stray?

The Greek verb used here, planaō  (“to go astray” or “wander away”), is often connected to people who abandon the faith.

13 And if he happens to find it? Yes! I tell you, he is happier over it than over the ninety-nine that never strayed! 14 Thus, your heavenly Father does not want even one of these little ones to be lost. [3]

In our next post, we continue to examine Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End by looking at Works Done in Yeshua’s Name and other encounters.

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[1]  Mark 9:36–37.
[2]  Mattityahu 18:6.
[3] Mattityahu 18:10–14.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 83

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 5

In our last post, we examined Yeshua Heals A Demon-Possessed Boy. This post looks at several topics starting with Yeshua’s Death is Again Foretold.

Yeshua’s Death is Again Foretold

22 As they were going about together in the Galil, Yeshua said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of people 23 who will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were filled with sadness. [1]

Mattityahu’s first reference to Yeshua’s impending betrayal by Judas Iscariot. The talmidim are grieved but do not dispute this prediction, as Kefa did the first time.

Yeshua’s Death is Again Foretold

24 When they came to K’far-Nachum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Kefa and said, “Doesn’t your rabbi pay the Temple tax?” 25 “Of course he does,” said Kefa. When he arrived home, Yeshua spoke first. “Shim’on, what’s your opinion? The kings of the earth – from whom do they collect duties and taxes? From their sons or from others?” 26 “From others,” he answered. “Then,” said Yeshua, The sons are exempt. 27 But to avoid offending them – go to the lake, throw out a line, and take the first fish you catch. Open its mouth, and you will find a shekel. Take it and give it to them for you and for me.” ~ Mattityahu 17:24-27.

A per-capita tax of one half-shekel to support the activities of the cohanim is specified in Exodus 30:11–16, 38:26. This was equivalent to one or two days’ wages for an average worker.

Unique to Mattityahu’s Gospel, this passage addresses whether Jewish followers of Yeshua’s day should continue to pay the Temple tax. This was particularly relevant to Mattityahu’s audience since they were most likely Jews. Yeshua’s response communicates the Temple’s continued sanctity and demonstrates the miraculous ways in which God provides for His people.

Who Is the Greatest?

33 They arrived at K’far-Nachum. When Yeshua was inside the house, He asked them, “What were you discussing as we were traveling?” 34 But they kept quiet; because on the way, they had been arguing with each other about who was the greatest.

The talimidim’s inability to comprehend Yeshua’s destiny, or perhaps its significance, matches their distorted understanding of their own futures.

35 He sat down, summoned the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.” [2]

Servant of all echoes the words of Isaiah 52:13–53:12, which Yeshua will fulfill. He demonstrates this principle by sacrificing His own life.

If one of you has a slave tending the sheep or plowing when he comes back from the field, will you say to him, ‘Come along now, sit down and eat’? No, you’ll say, ‘Get my supper ready, dress for work, and serve me until I have finished eating and drinking; after that, you may eat and drink.’ Does he thank the slave because he did what he was told to do? No! 10 It’s the same with you—when you have done everything you were told to do, you should be saying, ‘We’re just ordinary slaves, we have only done our duty.'” [3]

This passage’s final set of Yeshua’s sayings is unique to Luke’s Gospel.We’re just ordinary slaves” implies that His talmidim should comport themselves as humble slaves to God, in contrast to the self-aggrandizing P’rushim.

He called a child to Him, stood him among them, and said, “Yes! I tell you that unless you change and become like little children, you won’t even enter the Kingdom of Heaven! So the greatest in the Kingdom is whoever makes himself as humble as this child.” [4]

In our next post, we continue to examine Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End by looking at Yeshua’s Concern for the Young and other encounters.

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[1] Mattityahu 17:22–23 (see also Mark 9:30-32 & Luke 9:43b-45).
[2] Mark 9:33–35.
[3] Luke 17:7–10.
[4] Mattityahu 18:2–4.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 81

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 3

In our last post, we examined Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End, including suffering foretold, taking up our cross, and Kingdom within a lifetime. In this post, we examine His Transfiguration.

Yeshua’s Transfiguration

I have always been fascinated with His Transfiguration. It means a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state. Not only that, but how did His three talmidim know that the two people with Him were Moshe and Eliyahu?

Six days later, Yeshua took Kefa, Ya’akov, and his brother Yochanan and led them up a high mountain privately. As they watched, He began to change form – His face shone like the sun, and His clothing became as white as light. Then they looked and saw Moshe and Eliyahu speaking with Him.

Yeshua’s face shone like the sun, and his clothing became white as light. Why? So that his glory would not be less than that of Moshe and Eliyahu, who was speaking with Him. According to Jewish tradition, when God sent an angel at the end of Moshe’s life to fetch his soul, he “saw Moshe sitting and writing down the Unutterable Name of God, and how the radiance of his appearance was like that of the sun.” This is an aggadic (Text recited at the Seder on the first two nights of the Jewish Passover) extension of what the Tanakh itself says about him, “that the skin of his face shone” (Exodus 34:29–35).

Kefa said to Yeshua, “It’s good that we’re here, Lord. I’ll put up three shelters if you want – one for you, one for Moshe, and one for Eliyahu.” While He was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them; and a voice from the cloud said, This is my Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the talmidim heard this, they were so frightened that they fell face down on the ground. But Yeshua came and touched them. Get up!” He said, “Don’t be afraid.” So they opened their eyes, looked up, and saw only Yeshua by himself.

As they came down the mountain, Yeshua ordered them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

The Transfiguration confirmed Yeshua’s“coming in his kingdom” (Mattityahu 16:28) to these three talmidim. Still, without the more public confirmation which followed His resurrection, the testimony would have been of little value in proving Yeshua’s identity. It would have raised more questions than it answered. Hence Yeshua advised keeping quiet about what they had experienced for the time being.

10 The talmidim asked Him, “Then why do the Torah-teachers say that Eliyahu must come first?”

The Torah-teachers say Eliyahu must come first. This teaching is based on Malachi 3:1 and 3:23–24, and it is kept alive in Judaism every Pesach, at the Seder meal, when an extra place is set for Eliyahu HaNavi (“Elijah the prophet”). The door is opened to welcome him, should he be there.

Three points: (1) Yochanan the Immerser, “if you are willing to accept it,” was Eliyahu (Mattityahu 11:10–14), and (2) Eliyahu himself had, in fact, “come first” by appearing there on the mountain (v. 3), and (3) Eliyahu may yet appear before Yeshua’s second coming (see Revelation 11:3–6).

11 He answered, “On the one hand, Eliyahu is coming and will restore all things; 12 on the other hand, I tell you that Eliyahu has come already, and people did not recognize him but did whatever they pleased to him. In the same way, the Son of Man too is about to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the talmidim understood that he was talking to them about Yochanan the Immerser. [1]

In our last post, we continued to examine our topic on Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End. In our next post, we will examine Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End by looking at Yeshua Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy.

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[1] Mattityahu 17:1–13 (see also Mark 9:2-13 & Luke 9:28-36b).

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 80

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 2

In our last post, we began a new series on Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End. In this post, we continue with His preparation.

Suffering Foretold

21 From that time on, Yeshua began making it clear to His talmidim that He had to go to Yerushalayim and endure much suffering at the hands of the elders, the head cohanim, and the Torah-teachers; and that He had to be put to death; but that on the third day, He had to be raised to life. 22 Kefa took Him aside and began rebuking him, “Heaven be merciful, Lord! By no means will this happen to you!”

Yeshua teaches His talmidim what must happen to Him as Messiah and is completely misunderstood, both here and on two later occasions (Mattitayhu17:22–23, 20:17–19), so different is His scenario from that popularly expected. Even at the Last Supper (Yochanan 14:28) and after His resurrection (Acts 1:6–7), they did not comprehend God’s plan for the Messiah.

23 But Yeshua turned His back on Kefa, saying, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path because your thinking is from a human perspective, not from God’s perspective!”  [1]

When Yeshua says, “Get behind me, Satan!” He could be talking to Satan, conceived of as speaking through Kefa; if so, Yeshua is telling Satan not to be an obstacle to him but to get behind him, out of the way. Or Yeshua could be addressing Kefa; it could refer to Kefa as an adversary who is opposing Yeshua so that Yeshua is saying: “Bo acharai,” (come after me), and see that the things I have predicted for Myself will indeed happen, contrary to what you are saying and that this will be for the benefit of all concerned. This interpretation is based on the fact that Hebrew achar means both “behind” and “after” or “following,” with the implication that the translator of the incident into Greek misunderstood it. The context certainly does not support an interpretation I occasionally hear that Yeshua is inviting Satan to become His follower (with the universalistic doctrinal implication that eventually, even Satan will be “saved”). [2]

Take Up Your Cross

24 Then Yeshua told his talmidim, “If anyone wants to come after Me, let him say ‘No’ to himself, take up his execution stake, and keep following Me. 25 For whoever wants to save his own life will destroy it, but whoever destroys his life for My sake will find it. 26 What good will it do someone if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Or, what can a person give in exchange for his life? 27 For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory, with His angels; and then He will repay everyone according to his conduct. [3]

Yeshua’s great call to discipleship is His teaching on how to think the way God thinks (v. 23). Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran theologian who was imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp and shot by the Nazis at age 39, days before the close of World War II, wrote in The Cost of Discipleship that there is no “cheap grace,” no primrose path to Heaven. Jews have often thought Christianity to offer exactly that; some Christian theologies, emphasizing God’s work and de-emphasizing man’s in the salvation process, encourage this misunderstanding. This verse is the antidote. To follow Yeshua is to say no to oneself, not by practicing asceticism or developing low self-esteem, but by placing the will above one’s own feelings, desires, and urges. To take up one’s execution stake is to bear the instrument of one’s death, for, as Bonhoeffer put it, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” The consequences of wholeheartedly taking this stand are given in vv. 25–26. [4]

Kingdom Within Lifetime

28 Yes! I tell you that there are some people standing here who will not experience death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom!” [5]

Some of the Twelve standing there with Yeshua in Caesarea Philippi would live to see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom. This predicted event has been variously interpreted as referring to: (1) Yeshua’s Transfiguration (17:1–8); (2) His resurrection; (3) the coming of the Ruach at Shavuot; (4) the spread of the Kingdom through the preaching of the early church; (5) the destruction of the Temple and Yerushalayim in 70 CE; or (6) the Second Coming and final establishment of the Kingdom. The immediate context indicates the first view, the Transfiguration, which immediately follows (see also Mark 9:2–10; Luke 9:28–36). There, “some” of Yeshua’s talmidim “saw” what Yeshua will be like when he comes into the power of his Kingdom. This interpretation is also supported by 2 Kefa 1:16–18, where Kefa equates Yeshua’s “glory” with His Transfiguration, to which Kefa was an eyewitness. At the same time, interpretations (2), (3), and (4) are also quite possible, for they are all instances where Yeshua “came” in the decisive advance of His Kingdom, which was partially but not yet fully realized. Some interpreters think that Yeshua generally speaks of many or all events in views (2) through (4). View (5) is less persuasive because the judgment on Yerushalayim does not reflect the positive growth of the Kingdom. View (6) is unacceptable, for it would imply that Yeshua was mistaken about the timing of His return. [6]

In our last post, we introduced our next topic on Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End. In our next post, we continue to examine Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End by looking at the Transfiguration.

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[1] Mattityahu 16:21–23 (see also Mark 8:31-33 & Luke 9:21-22).
[2] David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary.
[3] Mattityahu 16:24–27 (see also Mark 8:34-38 & Luke 9:21-26).
[4] Ibid.
[5] Mattityahu 16:28 (see also Mark 9:1 & Luke 9:27).
[6] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 79

Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End ~ Part 1

Our last post looked at P’rushim Ask for a Sign, Warning About Leaders, and Yeshua Heals a Blind Man Near Beit-Tzaidah. In this post, we begin a new series on Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End. To date, we have looked at Yeshua’s interactions with all His talmidim (His followers). From here on, we will focus more on the Emissaries (His twelve Apostles).


As Yeshua continues His extensive tour north through Caesarea Philippi and then south again into Galil, He uses this time to prepare His chosen talmidim to become His Emissaries for His death and strengthen their ministry in carrying on His work. At this point in His ministry, the Emissaries are convinced that Yeshua is the Mashiach (Messiah), but apparently, they have notions of a political/militaristic Mashiach. He begins to tell them about his impending death and the burdens they themselves will face.

The highlight of this preparation period comes when Yeshua takes Kefa, Yaakov, and Yochanan (the inner circle of His talmidim) to Mount Herman, where He is transfigured.

Kefa Acknowledges Yeshua as the Mashiach

13 When Yeshua came into the territory around Caesarea Philippi, He asked His talmidim, Who are people saying the Son of Man is?”

Caesarea Philippi, the present-day town of Banyas at the foot of Mount Hermon, is where the Yarden River springs forth. Herod Philip refurbished this town and renamed it in honor of the Emperor and himself.

14 They said, “Well, some say Yochanan the Immerser, others Eliyahu, still others Yirmeyahu or one of the prophets.” 15 “But you,” He said to them, “who do you say I am?” 16 Shim’on Kefa answered, “You are the Mashiach, the Son of the living God.” 17 “Shim’on Bar-Yochanan (Bar means “son of”),” Yeshua said to him, “how blessed you are! For no human being revealed this to you. No, it was My Father in heaven. 18 I also tell you this: you are Kefa,” [which means ‘Rock,’] “and on this rock, I will build my Community [1], and the gates of Sh’ol will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” 20 Then, he warned the talmidim not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah. [2]

In consequence of his confession, Yeshua makes Kefa both (1) shammash (steward) with the keys and (2) Dayan (judge), who, as the one who can prohibit and permit, establishes a new covenant halakhah (the entire body of Messianic Law).

In our last post, we concluded our examination of Yeshua’s Extensive Ministry Throughout the Galil. In our next post, we continue to examine Yeshua’s Preparation of the Emissaries for the End.

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[1] This is one of the most controversial and debated passages in all of Scripture. Roman Catholics have appealed to this passage to defend the idea that Peter was the first pope. What is being spoken about is a spiritual community of people based on trust in God and his son the Messiah Yeshua. This can be all people throughout history who so commit themselves, or a group of such people at a particular time and place, such as the Messianic community in Corinth or Jerusalem.

[2] Mattityahu 16:16–20 (see also Mark 8:27-30 & Luke 9:18-20).

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 69

Miracles and Multitudes ~ Part 3

In our last post, we began a new topic entitled Miracles and Multitudes. This post as we look at more Miracles and Multitudes.

Yeshua and Kefa Walk on Water

16 When evening came, His talmidim went down to the lake, 17 got into a boat and set out across the lake toward K’far-Nachum. By now, it was dark, Yeshua had not yet joined them, 18, and the sea was getting rough. [1] 48 He saw that they were having difficulty rowing because the wind was against them; so at around four o’clock in the morning, He came toward them, walking on the lake! [2] Because a strong wind was blowing. 19 They had rowed three or four miles when they saw Yeshua approaching the boat, walking on the lake! He meant to come alongside them; [3] 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and let out a shriek; 50 for they had all seen him and were terrified. However, He spoke to them. “Courage,” He said, it is I. Stop being afraid!” [4]

28 Then Kefa called to him, “Lord if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come!” he said. So Kefa got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Yeshua. 30 But when he saw the wind, he became afraid, and as he began to sink, he yelled, “Lord! Save me!” 31 Yeshua immediately stretched out His hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “Such little trust! Why did you doubt?”

Such little trust Kefa has, even though a moment before he had much (v. 29). Trust is only present tense; it does not build up like a bank account. Yeshua’s rebuke restored it: he walked back to the boat (v. 32). From this, we learn the value of well-founded rebuke to the spiritually sensitive, that is, people open to correction.

32 As they went up into the boat, the wind ceased. [5] 51 He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves; on the contrary, their hearts had been made stonelike. [6] 33 The men in the boat fell down before Him and exclaimed, “You really are God’s son!” [7]

22 The next day, the crowd which had stayed on the other side of the lake noticed that there had been only one boat there and that Yeshua had not entered the boat with His talmidim but that the talmidim had been alone when they sailed off. 23 Then, other boats from Tiberias came ashore near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had made the b’rakhah. 24 Accordingly, when the crowd saw that neither Yeshua nor His talmidim were there, they themselves boarded the boats and made for K’far-Nachum in search of Yeshua.[8]

In our next post, we will continue examining the Miracles and Multitudes series beginning in Yochanan 6:25.

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[1] John 6:17b-18a.

[2] Mark 6:48.

[3] John 6:18b-19.

[4] Mark 6:49-50.

[5] Matthew 14:28-32.

[6] Mark 6:51–52.

[7] Matthew 14:33.

[8] Yochanan 6:22–24.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 13

Great Catch of Fish

One day, as Yeshua was standing on the shore of Lake Kinneret, with the people pressing in around Him in order to hear the word of God, He noticed two boats pulled up on the beach, left there by the fishermen, who were cleaning their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Shim’on, and asked him to put out a little way from shore. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat.

The shore of the lake functioned acoustically like an amphitheater; withdrawing a little from the crowd and addressing them from the boat thus would have made Yeshua much easier to hear.

 When He had finished speaking, He said to Shim’on, “Put out into deep water, and let down your nets for a catch.” Shim’on answered, “We’ve worked hard all night long, Rabbi, and haven’t caught a thing! But if you say so, I’ll let down the nets.” They did this and took in so many fish that their nets began to tear. So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats to the point of sinking.

They motioned to their partners…the group likely includes Andrew, Kefa’s brother, since they fished together; this may also be a parallel, expanded account of Yeshua’s calling of these talmidim recorded in Mattityahu’s Gospel (see below). Luke likely leaves Andrew unnamed because this episode aims to record the calling of Yeshua’s three most influential talmidim.

When he saw this, Shim’on Kefa fell at Yeshua’s knees and said, “Get away from me, sir, because I’m a sinner!” For astonishment had seized him and everyone with him at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and likewise both Ya’akov and Yochanan, Shim’on’s partners. ~ Luke 5:1-10a

In verses 3–5, Luke called him merely Shim’on, but in verse 8, he pointedly notes that Shim’on Kefa (Simon the Rock) fell at Yeshua’s knees.

The Calling of Shim’on, Ya’akov, Yochanan, and Andrew

“Don’t be frightened,” Yeshua said to Shim’on, “from now on, you will be catching men—alive!”11 And as soon as they had beached their boats, they left everything behind and followed him. ~ Luke 5;10b-11 18 As Yeshua walked by Lake Kinneret, He saw two brothers who were fishermen – Shim’on, known as Kefa, and his brother Andrew – throwing their net into the lake.

Lake Kinneret is the name used in Isra’el for the body of freshwater formed by the River Yarden (Jordan) in the Galil (Galilee); it is so-called because it is shaped like a harp. English versions of the Bible identify it as the Sea of Galilee; at Yochanan 6:1, 23, and 21:1, the Greek text calls it the Sea of Tiberias.

Kefa is the name Yeshua gave Shim’on Bar-Yochanan (Yochanan 1:42); it means “rock” in Aramaic. The Greek word for “rock” is “Petros,” which is usually brought into English as Peter.

19 Yeshua said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men!” 2At once they left their nets and went with him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers – Ya’akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan his brother – in the boat with their father Zavdai, repairing their nets; and he called them. 22 At once, they left the boat and their father and went with Yeshua. ~ Matthew 4:18-22 (compare Mark 1:16-20) [emphasis added]

One of the things that has always fascinated me is Yeshua’s charisma in calling His talmidim. He spoke, and they followed. The Faithlife Study Bible explains it this way: Capernaum was small, and Yeshua had been preaching the coming of the kingdom of heaven (compare v. 17). The two brothers, Kefa and Andrew, had probably already heard of Yeshua. Ya’akov and Yochanan were associated with Andrew and Shim’on Kefa. They were likely also familiar with Yeshua. [1]

There’s an important principle here. If you’re not fishing, you’re not following. If your Messianic life does not involve evangelizing the lost, you’re not functioning like the talmid Yeshua intends you to be. Evangelism includes sharing the gospel and intentionally seeking to convert the hearer to faith in Yeshua HaMashiach.

Our next post will examine Yeshua Driving Out an Unclean Spirit and Healing Others in Capernaum.

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[1] Faithlife Study Bible. Lexham Press.

Creeds of the Kehillah ~ Part 33


The Nicene Creed~ Part 19

In our last post, we continued to explore the Nicene Creed. In this post, we continue to dig into the third article of faith, keeping with the phrase the giver of life in the Nicene Creed.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

THE GIVER OF LIFE ~ Christ’s Life in Us Through the Spirit – Theosis [1]

The Nicene Creed~ Part 19

is the primary source for the kehillah’s teaching on Justification and its teaching of incorporation and union with Yeshua via the Ruach. Sha’ul often uses the phrase in Yeshua or in Yeshua Messiah to indicate a change in our relationship with God and a change in us through our incorporation into Yeshua. However, it is the apostle Kefa who has provided the kehillah with the clearest text concerning our participation in the divine nature. This concept has been found predominantly in the East, although the selections here will demonstrate that this was teaching in the West. In the first chapter of his second letter, Kefa writes:

3 God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowing the One who called us to His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us valuable and superlatively great promises so that through them you might come to share in God’s nature and escape the corruption which evil desires have brought into the world. ~2 Kefa 1:3-4 (CJB)

Kefa and Sha’ul no doubt took this idea from Yeshua as inspired writers. But what did they have in mind when they spoke of Believers being in Yeshua and partakers of the divine nature? This teaches the kehillah of which many in the West, including evangelicals and some Roman Catholics, are unaware. What follows is an attempt to introduce what this teaching is about and to explore the significant place and influence this teaching exerted in the early kehillah’s understanding of the Ruach’s work in us.

The ancient writers believed that the apostles were speaking of deification. Their choice of such terminology was not cavalier. It was a bold and deliberate move meant to evoke and challenge the pagan language of exaltation. Human beings, especially heroes, sages, and ultimately emperors, advanced to the rank of deity. However, those writers avoided the term deification because it fundamentally transgressed on the divine prerogative, something that some present-day Believers believe occurs in the doctrine of Theosis, although such a transgression could not have been further from the patristic mind. Early Believers chose a polemical term and concept in a deliberate confrontation with the paganism of their day to differentiate what it truly meant to partake of the divine nature of the one true God. They were careful to note that it was not the polytheism of their pagan neighbors they were espousing. Instead, as Athanasius states, “it is as ‘sons,’ not as the Son”; as ‘gods,’ not as God himself that we partake of the divine nature. This is an important distinction since the Greek kehillah emphasized only one God by nature over classical religion with its deified men and women and its anthropomorphic gods and goddesses.

According to the orthodox, scriptural understanding of Theosis, we are given the right to become children of God by grace as we are born of God through the waters of baptism. We thus become sons and daughters of God at our baptism. What follows, then, is an ongoing process of sanctification by which we, through the indwelling of the Ruach, become more and more conformed to the image of our God and Father in which we were created. This conforming process ultimately realizes its full potential as the just receive their promised inheritance in heaven when their own glorious transfiguration takes place in the new heavenly kingdom. It is both a moral and ontological ascent toward the fullness of life and, ultimately, eternal life in communion with the divine, which was God’s original intention for humanity all along. [2]

In my next post, we continue to dig into the third article of the Nicene Creed: We Believe in The Holy Spirt.

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[1] Theosis is the belief, mostly found within the Eastern Orthodox Church, that a Believer can experience a union with God and become like Him so much that they participate in the divine nature. This concept is also known as “deification.” Theosis does not mean that they become Gods or merge with God but that they are deified. They participate in the “energies” of God with which He reveals Himself to us in creation.

[2] Elowsky, J. C., & Oden, T. C. (Eds.). (2009). We Believe in the Holy Spirit (Vol. 4, pp. 37–38).

Y’hudah (Jude) ~ Judgment of False Teachers ~ Part 2

In my last post, we began to explore the Judgment of False Teachers ~ Part 1. This post will continue to explore the Judgment of False Teachers ~ Part 2.

Scripture instructs us to obey the legitimate authorities appointed over us. But false teachers reject authority. In this case, they were accountable to no one but themselves.

Likewise, these people, with their visions, defile their own flesh, despise godly authority, and insult angelic beings. When Mikha’el, one of the ruling angels, took issue with the Adversary, arguing over the body of Moshe, he did not dare bring against him an insulting charge but said, “May Adonai rebuke you.”

Mikha’el is one of two archangels mentioned in the Bible (the other is Gabriel; see Dan 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19; Rev 12:7). Others, such as Raphael and Phanuel, are mentioned in early Jewish texts (see 1 Enoch 40:9; 71:8–9). Daniel 12:1 portrays Mikha’el as a special guardian to Israel.

These people refer to the false teachers we encounter in my last post. Although modern Jewish popular ideology holds that angels are a Christian invention reflecting a departure from pure monotheism, the Tanakh speaks of them often, and post-Tanakh Judaism developed an intricate angelology that helps explain this verse. Moreover, the tantalizing brevity of the Tanakh’s account of Moshe’s death and the fact that he was buried in the valley across from Beit-P’or in the land of Mo’av, but to this day, no one knows where his grave is. ~ Deuteronomy 34:6).

Here Y’hudah reportedly alludes to a story included in the Testament of Moshe, a Jewish writing from the beginning of the first century CE. However, some portions of it have survived; the relevant ones have not. However, elements of the legend are found elsewhere. Mikha’el, who, based on Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1, is regarded in Jewish tradition as Israel’s defender and HaSatan’s opponent.

Instead, in keeping with the warning, Adonai says, ‘Vengeance is my responsibility; I will repay’ (Rom. 12:19); Mikha’el said only, May Adonai rebuke you, echoing God’s rebuke of HaSatan (Zechariah 3:1–2).

10 However, these people insult anything they don’t understand; and what they do understand naturally, without thinking, like animals – by these things they are destroyed! 11 Woe to them, in that they have walked the road of Kayin (Cain), they have given themselves over for money to the error of Bil’am, they have been destroyed in the rebellion of Korach.

The road of Kayin took him out from the presence of Adonai (Genesis 4:16) because he refused to accept God’s advice and did not take advantage of any of the five or six opportunities God gave him to repent (Genesis 4:1–16). Kayin’s road led him to murder his brother Hevel, but murder was not the road itself.

They have given themselves over for money to the error of Bil‛am (Balaam). Numbers 16 reports the rebellion of Korach (Korah) against God’s appointed leader Moshe as a significant threat to the community of Isra’el, eliminated only when God had the earth swallow up Korach and his 250 co-conspirators. Because the false prophets and teachers similarly wish to take on themselves the authority in the Body of the Messiah which God has given to others, Y’hudah says they have been destroyed.

12 These men are filthy spots at your festive gatherings meant to foster love; they share your meals without a qualm while caring only for themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; trees without fruit even in autumn, and doubly dead because they have been uprooted; 13 savage sea-waves heaving forth their shameful deeds like foam; wandering stars for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

In Jewish culture, meals have always been festive gatherings meant to foster love; among Believers in Yeshua, this is seen in Acts 2:42 and 1 Cor 11:21.

Waterless clouds carried along by the winds may be an allusion to Proverbs 25:14, Like clouds and wind that bring no rain, he who boasts of gifts he never gives.

14 Moreover, Hanokh (Enoch), in the seventh generation starting with Adam, also prophesied about these men, saying, “Look! Adonai came with his myriads of holy ones 15 to execute judgment against everyone, that is, to convict all the godless for their godless deeds which they have done in such a godless way, and for all the harsh words these godless sinners have spoken against him.”

Y’hudah quotes 1 Enoch 1:9. 1 Enoch, a compilation of writings by several authors who lived in the last two centuries BCE., is one of the Pseudepigrapha, Jewish books attributed to famous biblical figures, such as Hanokh (Genesis 5:18–24), in the seventh generation starting with Adam (Genesis 5:1). Such attribution was not deceptive but either honorific or a means of identifying the message of the actual author with the character and activity of the supposed one; compare the writer of a historical novel or documentary who puts words in the mouth of George Washington. Y’hudah’s quoting a non-canonical book does not make 1 Enoch inspired Scripture, nor does it disqualify Y’hudah’s letter. Sha’ul quoted pagan authors at Acts 17:28–29 and Titus 1:12, and no one supposes that their works should be included in Holy Writ or Sha’ul’s excluded. [1]

16 These people are grumblers and complainers; they follow their evil passions, their mouths speak grandiosities, and they flatter others to gain an advantage. 17 But you, dear friends, keep in mind the words spoken in advance by the emissaries of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. 18 They told you, “During the acharit-hayamim (end times), there will be scoffers following their own godless passions.” ~ Jude 1:8-18 (CJB)

The majority of scholars hold that Second Kefa is an expansion of Y’hudah’s letter. Still, these verses suggest that Y’hudah drew on Second Kefa since Y’hudah not only excludes himself from the emissaries of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah but in reciting what they told you, he seems to be quoting 2 Kefa 3:3. A third possibility is that both books partly depend on a common source.

In my next post, we will conclude our exploration of Y’hudah by looking at his Call to Persevere and His Blessing.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary.

2 Kefa 3:14-18

Kefa’s Final Words

In my last post, we unpacked Kefa’s prediction that The Day of the Lord Will Come ~ Part 2 in 3 Kefa 1:8-13. In this post, we examine Kefa’s Final Words in 2 Kefa 3:14-18.

14 Therefore, dear friends, as you look for these things, do everything you can to be found by Him without spot or defect and at peace. 15 And think of our Lord’s patience as deliverance, just as our dear brother Sha’ul also wrote you, following the wisdom God gave him. 16 Indeed, he speaks about these things in all his letters. They contain some things that are hard to understand, things which the uninstructed and unstable distort, to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

This final section recaps some of the themes highlighted elsewhere in the letter. In light of the imminent return of Yeshua, Believers are to make every effort to be holy and godly. As sacrificial animals in the Tanakh were to be without spot or defect.

Interestingly, verses 15-16 is the only place in the Brit Hadashah where one of its authors refers to another of its authors specifically by name. In fact, with the phrase, the other Scriptures, Kefa gives Sha’ul’s letters the status of Holy Writ.

Kefa commends Sha’ul as our dear brother; there is no conflict between them, some nineteenth-century scholars thought to the contrary. It is possible, says Kefa, to distort what Sha’ul writes. The most common distortion is in the direction of antinomianism [1] ; this happens mostly when Sha’ul’s letters are read apart from their Tanakh and Gospels-Acts background.

The Lord’s delay in coming is designed to give men and women time to repent of their sins and come to salvation. Therefore, we must take advantage of His patience by repenting, rather than presuming upon His patience and living for unrighteous purposes.

17 But you, dear friends, since you know this in advance, guard yourselves; so that you will not be led away by the errors of the wicked and fall from your own secure position. 18 And keep growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah. To Him be the glory, both now and forever! Amen. ~ 2 Kefa 3:14-18 (CJB)

Since Kefa’s readers had now been warned about the false teachers in their midst, he instructed them to be on their guard and not be led away. He also encouraged them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Yeshua, the Messiah. Recall from our study of the Gospel accounts that Kefa was the first talmid (disciple) to acknowledge Yeshua as the Messiah. The theme of spiritual growth bookends the letter, recurring here after its introduction in 1:1-15. Believers should resist false teachers, focusing on growth and spiritual development in a way that glorifies God now and throughout eternity.

Closing Thoughts

We started our journey of Kefa in the Gospels-Acts way back on May 24, 2020, before examining his two letters to the saints. I pray that you have enjoyed the journey as much as I have. As I stated in that first post: “Kefa has always amazed me since I first learned about him. As we will see, he is quite the character.”

In my next post, we will…???? Well, I am not entirely sure. Although a few of my blogging friends have already posted on this topic, I have planned on doing a series on Ya’akov (James). Then I was recently reminded that I have also intended on writing on the early Creeds of the church. Not many modern Believers know they even exist. As finishing up our study of Kefa reminded me, his writings, especially in Second Kefa, have a lot in common with Y’hudah (Jude). So, you will have to check back to learn what the Lord has directed me to write on..

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[1] Relating to the view that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law.