The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 25

Sermon on the Mount ~ Part E

We continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount, beginning in Mattityahu 5:17.

Yeshua Came to Fulfill the Law ~ Part 1

17 “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete.

This is an essential verse for us to wrap our minds around. Briefly, Yeshua states that He wants to make the meaning of the Torah and the Prophets complete. David Stern provides some further insight for us:

The Hebrew word “Torah,” literally “teaching, doctrine,” is rendered in both the Septuagint and the Brit Hadashah by the Greek word “nomos,” which means “law.” Greek has had a more direct and pervasive influence on English and other modern languages than Hebrew has, and this is why in most languages, one speaks of the “Law of Moshe” rather than the “Teaching of Moshe”. It is also part of the reason why the Torah has mistakenly come to be thought of by Christians as legalistic (see Romans 3:20b, Galatians 3:23b).

In Judaism, the word Torah may mean:

  1. Chumash (the Pentateuch, the five books of Moshe); or
  2. That plus the Prophets and the Writings, i.e., the Tanakh (known by Christians as the Old Testament; see 4:4–10; or
  3. That plus the Oral Torah, which includes the Talmud and other legal materials; or
  4. That plus all religious instruction from the rabbis, including ethical and aggadic (homiletical) materials.

Here it means the first of these, since “the Prophets” are mentioned separately.

The word “Prophets,” capitalized, refers to the second of the three main parts of the Tanakh (both Major and Minor). When the Tanakh prophets as persons are referred to, the word is not capitalized; “prophet” in the singular is never capitalized. By mentioning both the Torah and the Prophets, Yeshua says that He has not come to modify or replace God’s Word, the Tanakh. Compare Luke 24:44–45.

The Greek word for “to complete” is plêrôsai,” literally, “to fill”; the usual rendering here, however, is “to fulfill.” Replacement theology, which wrongly teaches that the Church has replaced the Jews as God’s people, misunderstands this verse in two ways.

First, Yeshua’s “fulfilling” the Torah means that it is unnecessary for people to fulfill it now. But there is no logic to the proposition that Yeshua’s obeying the Torah does away with our need to obey it. In fact, Sha’ul, whose object in his letter to the Romans is to foster “the obedience that comes from trusting” in Yeshua, teaches that such trusting does not abolish Torah but confirms it (Romans 1:5, 3:31).

Second, with an identical lack of logic, Yeshua’s “fulfilling” the Prophets is thought to imply that no prophecies from the Tanakh remain for the Jews. But the Hebrew Bible’s promises to the Jews are not abolished in the name of being “fulfilled in Yeshua.” Instead, fulfillment in Yeshua is an added assurance that everything God has promised the Jews will yet come to pass (see 2 Corinthians 1:20).

It is true that Yeshua kept the Torah perfectly and fulfilled predictions of the Prophets, but that is not the point here. Yeshua did not come to abolish but “to make full” (plêrôsai) the meaning of what the Torah and the ethical demands of the Prophets require. Thus he came to complete our understanding of the Torah and the Prophets to try more effectively to be and do what they say to be and do.

We will learn in verses 18–20 three ways in which the Torah and the Prophets remain necessary, applicable, and in force. The remainder of chapter 5 gives six specific cases in which Yeshua explains the fuller spiritual meaning of points in the Jewish Law. In fact, this verse states the theme and plan of the entire Sermon on the Mount. Yeshua completes, makes fuller, the understanding of His talmidim concerning the Torah and the Prophets so that they can more fully express what being God’s people is all about. [1]

Well, we didn’t get very far in our study of this complete passage, but we’ll pick it up next time around.

18 Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah – not until everything that must happen has happened. 19 So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness is far greater than that of the Torah-teachers and P’rushim, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven!  ~ Mattityahu 5:17-20.

In our next post, we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount from Mattityahu’s Gospel.

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[1] Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 23

Sermon on the Mount ~ Part C

Before we move on to the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, I want to continue to go back to the first twelve verses of Chapter 5 and provide some commentary. We pick up in verse 6.

“How blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness! for they will be filled.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness is a metaphor for moral uprightness. This may allude to Psalm 37:12–17, which speaks of a time when oppressors will be no more. This line expresses a deep desire for personal righteousness and a world characterized by God’s righteousness.

“How blessed are those who show mercy! for they will be shown mercy.

To receive mercy is not getting what you deserve, to receive pity instead of just condemnation. Rather, when you’re guilty, mercy removes the misery you ought to receive. There’s a blessing for those who extend it because you can bank on the fact that a time is coming when you’ll need mercy. This is the Golden Rule in action: “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets.” ~ Matt 7:12.

“How blessed are the pure in heart! for they will see God.

The pure in heart (Psalm 73:1) were those in Isra’el whose hearts were clean or undefiled, those who recognized that God alone was their help and reward (Psalm 73:2–28). The righteous would see God on the day of judgment (e.g., Isaiah 30:20), as in the first exodus (Ex 24:10–11).

“How blessed are those who make peace! for they will be called sons of God.

To be at peace is to be in harmony. To be a peacemaker is to be a mediator and resolve conflicts between estranged parties – whether individuals or groups. You make peace by identifying the truth, addressing the sin, and constructing a bridge between those at odds with one another. Peacemaking can be difficult work. But, if we persevere in it, we will be called sons and daughters of God because we will resemble our Father. He sent the Son of God to be our mediator, bridging the gap created by our sin and granting us peace with Him.

10 “How blessed are those who are persecuted because they pursue righteousness! for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 11 “How blessed you are when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of vicious lies about you because you follow me! 12 Rejoice, be glad because your reward in heaven is great – they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way. ~ Mattityahu 5:6-12.

Verses 10-12 address persecution and likely reflect those who first read Mattityahu’s Gospel which may explain why the theme receives such extensive treatment. Later in the narrative, Yeshua encounters each form of persecution recorded here and suffers the same fate as many of the prophets in the Tanakh (see Matt 23:29–37).

It’s hard to believe that undergoing persecution is a blessing, but Yeshua wanted His talmidim to know that He was serious. Notice that the persecution that brings blessing is directly tied to Yeshua. You are blessed when people insult you and tell lies about you because of Yeshua (5:11). Since essentially the same thing happened to the prophets in the Tanakh, you’re in good company. But how can you be glad and rejoice amid the mess? You can remember that your reward is great (5:12). God knows how to deliver. And as Sha’ul told the Romans, I don’t think the sufferings we are going through now are even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us in the future ~ Romans 8:18.

In our next post, we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 21

As I stated in Part 2 of this series, I want to set the stage for what Yeshua says. The first two topics are introductory to the third topic.

Yeshua Appoints His Emissaries

The three Synoptic Gospel accounts prioritize Kefa and end with Y’hudah (Judas from Iscariot).

12 It was around that time that Yeshua went out to the hill country to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 When day came, He called His talmidim and chose from among them twelve to be known as emissaries:

Luke has previously described how Yeshua called some of His talmidim (see 5:4–11, 27–28). Now He describes how He chose twelve of them to be his emissaries. Before this, He spent all night praying to God (6:12). Given this significant moment and the mounting hostility to His ministry, Yeshua sought time with His Father. This was how the Son of God approached critical moments and is the pattern we should follow when facing a decision.

14 Shim’on, whom he named Kefa; Andrew, his brother; Ya‘akov; Yochanan; Philip; Bar-Talmai; 15 Mattityahu; T’oma; Ya‘akov Ben-Halfai; 16 Shim’on, the one called the Zealot; Y’hudah Ben-Ya‘akov; and Y’hudah from K’riot, who turned traitor. ~ Luke 6:12-16 (see Mark 3:16-19 and Mattityahu 10:1-4)

Luke names the twelve men whom Yeshua designated as emissaries – including the one who turned traitor. These handpicked men would travel with Yeshua, learn from Him, and be granted special authority to share in the responsibility of proclaiming His Kingdom message.

Great Crowds Gather

17 Then, He came down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of His talmidim was there with great numbers of people from all Y’hudah, Yerushalayim, and the coast around Tzor and Tzidon; they had come to hear Him and be healed of their diseases. 18 Those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being healed; 19 and the whole crowd was trying to touch Him because power kept going out from Him, healing everyone. ~ Luke 6:17-19

Having been on a mountain (6:12), Yeshua descended and stood on a level place with a large crowd of his talmidim who had traveled from far and wide to hear him teach and be healed (6:17–18). Thus we come now the Sermon on the Mount.

Sermon on the Mount ~ Part A

As most of you already know, the Sermon on the Mount covers Mattityahu 5-7. We start with the Beatitudes and the Woes.

Seeing the crowds, Yeshua walked up the hill. After He sat down, His talmidim came to Him, and He began to speak. This is what he taught them:
“How blessed are the poor in spirit!
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs

How blessed. Greek Makarios corresponds to Hebrew Asher and means “blessed,” “happy,” and “fortunate” all at once so that no one English word is adequate.

“How blessed are those who mourn!
for they will be comforted.
“How blessed are the meek!
for they will inherit the Land!
“How blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness!
for they will be filled.
“How blessed are those who show mercy!
for they will be shown mercy.
“How blessed are the pure in heart!
for they will see God.
“How blessed are those who make peace!
for they will be called sons of God.
10 “How blessed are those who are persecuted
because they pursue righteousness!
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “How blessed you are when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of vicious lies about you because you follow me!
12 Rejoice, be glad because your reward in heaven is great—they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way. ~Mattityahu 5:1-12 (see Luke 6:20-23)

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you, have already had all the comfort you will get! 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you will go hungry! “Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and cry!
26 “Woe to you when people speak well of you, for that is just how their fathers treated the false prophets!
~ Luke 6:24-26

I deliberately did not comment on the Beatitudes or Woes in this post, as I will do that in the next post (or two).

In our next post, we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount.

The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 12

Yeshua Rejected in Natzeret

16 Now when He went to Natzeret, where He had been brought up, on Shabbat He went to the synagogue as usual. He stood up to read, 17 and He was given the scroll of the prophet Yesha‘yahu. Unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written (emphasis added)

He went to the synagogue as usual, like any good Jew. He stood up to read publicly from a scroll. The custom in the synagogue now is to read through the Torah each year, with portions of several chapters read on Monday, Thursday, and Shabbat mornings, ending and beginning over again on Simchat-Torah (“Rejoicing of the Torah”), which comes at the end of Sukkot (September 29th this year). At an earlier stage in Jewish history, three years were taken to read through the Torah.

There is a second reading called the haftarah (“conclusion”); it consists of portions from the Prophets and Writings related to the Parashat-hashavua’ (“[Torah] portion for the week”). While there is uncertainty over exactly what the first-century customs were, it seems clear that if Yeshua was given the scroll of the prophet Yesha‛yahu, He was being offered the haftarah reading. Since there is uncertainty about the practices of the time, it is not clear whether he found the place set by the lectionary for that Shabbat, or the place He himself chose, or the place where the scroll happened to open.

18 “The Spirit of Adonai is upon me
because He has anointed me
to announce Good News to the poor;
He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned
and renewed sight for the blind,

to release those who have been crushed,
19 to proclaim a year of the favor of Adonai.

20 After closing the scroll and returning it to the shammash, He sat down, and the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 He started to speak to them: “Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled!” 22 Everyone was speaking well of Him and marveling that such appealing words were coming from His mouth. They were even asking, “Can this be Yosef’s son?”

Verses 18–19 quotes Isaiah 61:1–2a but do not include the immediately following words, “ … and the day of vengeance of our God.” Although usually, a citation of Scripture implies the surrounding context, here Yeshua may have stopped short so that he could say, Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanakh (up to but not including the “day of vengeance”) was fulfilled.

STOP!!!

Take a few moments to digest what He just said: “Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled!” Remember the setting. He was early in His ministry and speaking to His family and neighbors. No wonder C.S. Lewis opined that Yeshua was either a liar, lunatic, or the Lord.

For at His first coming, He healed and brought Good News of the Kingdom and salvation (Mt 4:17); it was not His time to take vengeance or judge (Yochanan 8:15, 12:47).

Shammash in Hebrew or shammes in Yiddish. A synagogue attendant or caretaker, the “servant” of the congregation (the word literally means). The Greek word here is upêretês (“attendant, servant”).

23 Then Yeshua said to them, “No doubt you will quote to me this proverb: “Doctor, cure yourself!” We’ve heard about all the things that have been going on over in K’far-Nachum; now do them here in your hometown!’ 24 Yes!” He said, “I tell you that no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 It’s true, I’m telling you – when Eliyahu was in Isra’el, and the sky was sealed off for three-and-a-half years, so that all the Land suffered a severe famine, there were many widows; 26 but Eliyahu was sent to none of them, only to a widow in Tzarfat in the Land of Tzidon. 27 Also, there were many people with tzara’at in Isra’el during the time of the prophet Elisha; but not one of them was healed, only Na‘aman the Syrian.”

28 On hearing this, everyone in the synagogue was filled with fury. 29 They rose up, drove him out of town, and dragged him to the edge of the cliff on which their town was built, intending to throw him off. 30 But he walked right through the middle of the crowd and went away. ~ Luke 4: 16-30

Everyone was filled with fury since Yeshua was implying that God’s grace would be withheld from them and given to the Gentiles. They drove him out of town and intended to kill Him by tossing Him off a cliff (4:29). Yet, He miraculously escaped what would have been a premature death (4:30). It was not yet His time. His death would be at the time and place of His choosing.

Our next post will examine a Great Catch of Fish and the calling of Shim’on, Ya’akov, Yochanan, and Andrew.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 10

Yeshua Meets the Women at the Well ~ Part 3

We conclude the story of Yeshua’s ministry in Shomron.

27 Just then, His talmidim arrived. They were amazed that He was talking with a woman, but none of them said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you talking with her?”

It would have been unusual for a rabbi (like Yeshua) or any Jewish man to converse publicly with a woman. Jewish teaching warned against spending too much time talking with women because of temptation and the appearance of impropriety. Through this interaction, Yeshua is showing care for the lowliest of people in the eyes of Jews.

28 So the woman left her water-jar, went back to the town and said to the people there, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could it be that this is the Messiah?” 

The woman’s question implies hesitation and doubt. The Greek text indicates that a negative response is expected: “This cannot be the Messiah, can it?”

30 They left the town and began coming toward Him. 31 Meanwhile, the talmidim were urging Yeshua, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But He answered, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”

Just as with the Samaritan woman and the metaphor of living water, Yeshua uses tangible physical things to teach intangible spiritual truths.

33 At this, the talmidim asked one another, “Could someone have brought Him food?” 34 Yeshua said to them, “My food is to do what the one who sent me wants and to bring His work to completion. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest’? Well, what I say to you is: open your eyes and look at the fields! They’re already ripe for harvest!

Harvest imagery has overtones of end-time abundance (compare Joel 2:18–27). Yeshua draws on a common proverb about a lack of urgency to emphasize the immediacy of His work. (See Matthew 9:37–38).

36 The one who reaps receives his wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the reaper and the sower may be glad together –

The sowing was the expectation of the prophet laid out in Deuteronomy 18:18. The reaping will be the belief of the Samaritans. Yeshua emphasizes that it’s not always the one who first tells someone about salvation (as the prophets had done for the Samaritans) who brings them to believe, but often it’s those who come later. No matter who reaps, God alone deserves the credit.

37 for in this matter, the proverb, ‘One sows and another reaps,’ holds true. 38 I sent you to reap what you haven’t worked for. Others have done the hard labor, and you have benefited from their work…” 43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. ~ Yochanan 4:27-43

Our next post will begin to examine that Yeshua’s Great Galilean Ministry.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 9

Yeshua Meets the Women at the Well ~ Part 2

We continue our story of Yeshua’s ministry in Shomron as He Meets the Women at the Well.

15 “Sir, give me this water,” the woman said to Him, “so that I won’t have to be thirsty and keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 She answered, “I don’t have a husband.” Yeshua said to her, “You’re right; you don’t have a husband! 18 You’ve had five husbands in the past, and you’re not married to the man you’re living with now! You’ve spoken the truth!”

If the woman had five previous husbands who either died or divorced her, she would have exceeded the traditional limit of three husbands in Jewish law.

19 “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet,” the woman replied.

I can see that you are a prophet because you supernaturally knew about my sin. The Tanakh prophets spoke forth God’sWord concerning the sins of Isra’el and other nations; the prophecy was a secondary aspect of their ministry.

20 “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you people say that the place where one has to worship is in Yerushalayim.”

This mountain refers to Mount Gerizim, the holy mountain for the Samaritan community. The mountain was visible from the well where Yeshua and the woman were speaking.

21 Yeshua said, “Lady, believe me, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Yerushalayim. 22 You people don’t know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know because salvation comes from the Jews.

Yeshua does not take up the debate over legitimate holy places. Instead, He points to a future time of salvation when worship will not be limited to any local sacred site, neither Mount Gerizim nor Jerusalem. How one worships is more important than where one worships.

Salvation comes from the Jews. Messianic Believers should acknowledge the Jewish roots of their faith and present close involvement with the Jewish people (Ephesians 2:13). Jews should acknowledge more specifically that only through Yeshua comes yeshu’ah, “salvation.”

 23 But the time is coming – indeed, it’s here now – when the true worshippers will worship the Father spiritually and truly, for these are the kind of people the Father wants worshipping Him. 24 God is spirit, and worshippers must worship Him spiritually and truly.”

Verse 24 is sometimes misappropriated to support the mistaken idea that the Torah is inferior or is no longer in force, having been replaced by worship “in spirit and in truth” (the literal rendering of spiritually and truly). But spiritual and genuine worship is not to be set alongside or compared with the Torah. Instead, authentic, spiritual worship is God’s universal standard, which He also commands in the Torah itself. The Torah opposes legalism and the mere performance of acts and routines without genuine, spiritual involvement.

25 The woman replied, “I know that Mashiach (Messiah) is coming” (that is, “the one who has been anointed”). “When he comes, he will tell us everything.” 26 Yeshua said to her, “I, the person speaking to you, am He.”  ~ Yochanan 4:15-25

I, the person speaking to you, am He, literally, “I am, the one speaking to you.” Thus, He answers everyone who questions whether Yeshua proclaimed his own Messiahship. The declaration, “I am,” echoes Adonai’s self-revelation, I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). Yeshua says this “I am” nine times in Yochanan’s Gospel (here; 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:9; 18:5, 6, 8), implying a claim even more significant than being the Messiah.

Our next post will continue to examine that YeshuaMeets the Women at the Well ~ Part 3.

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The Red-Letter Words of Yeshua ~ Part 4

Yeshua Calls His First Talmidim

The early ministry of Yeshua is reported solely by the Apostle Yochanan. His account shows the Yeshua’s teaching quickly appeals to ordinary people and results in many faithful talmidim.

35 The next day, [1] Yochanan (the Immerser) was again standing with two of his talmidim. 36 On seeing Yeshua walking by, he said, “Look! God’s lamb!” 37 His two talmidim heard Him speaking, and they followed Yeshua. 38 Yeshua turned and saw them following Him, and He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi!” (which means “Teacher!”) “Where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” So, they went and saw where He was staying and remained with Him the rest of the day – it was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who had heard Yochanan and had followed Yeshua was Andrew, the brother of Shim’on Kefa. 41 The first thing he did was to find his brother Shim’on and tell him, “We’ve found the Mashiach!”(The word means “one who has been anointed.”)

Mashiach …. The word means one who has been anointed. This is one of the two places in the Brit Hadashah where the Hebrew word for Messiah is transliterated into Greek as Messias (the other is at 4:25). It shows that the author wanted to reflect the Jewish or Hebraic character of the speaker’s words. [2]

42 He took him to Yeshua. Looking at him, Yeshua said, “You are Shimon Bar-Yochanan; you will be known as Kefa.” (The name means “rock.”)

43 The next day, having decided to leave for the Galil, Yeshua found Philip and said, “Follow Me!” 44 Philip was from Beit-Tzaidah, the town where Andrew and Kefa lived. 45 Philip found Natan’el and told him, “We’ve found the one that Moshe wrote about in the Torah, also the Prophets – it’s Yeshua Ben-Yosef from Natzeret!”

The one that Moshe wrote about in the Torah. See Deuteronomy 18:15–18 and Acts 3:22, which quotes this passage. Yeshua fulfills Moshe’s prophecy. Also the Prophets wrote about Yeshua.

It has always amazed me that all Yeshua had to say to Philip was Follow Me! He said the same thing to Mattityahu. In both narratives, there is no indication that Yeshua had any prior exposure to these two talmidim. According to my Logos software, thirty-nine times Follow Me is used by Yeshua in the Gospel’s.

Natan’el is not mentioned as one of the Twelve in the Synoptic Gospels but is usually identified with Bartholomew (whom Yochanan never mentions by name). Natan’el means “God has given.”

46 Natan’el answered him, “Natzeret? Can anything good come from there?” “Come and see,” Philip said to him. 47 Yeshua saw Natan’el coming toward him and remarked about him, “Here’s a true son of Isra’el – nothing false in him!” 48 Natan’el said to him, “How do you know me?” Yeshua answered him, “Before Philip called you when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Natan’el said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Isra’el!” 50 Yeshua answered him, “you believe all this just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than that!” 51 Then He said to him, “Yes indeed! I tell you that you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man!”  ~ ~ Yochanan 1:35-51

Yeshua Performs His First Miracle

In chapter 2, Yochanan (the Apostle) presents a series of signs or miracles designed to prove Yeshua’s identity as the Messiah and Son of God. In this first sign, Yeshua turns water into wine at a wedding in Kanah attended by His family and talmidim.

On Tuesday, there was a wedding at Kanah in the Galil; and the mother of Yeshua was there. Yeshua too was invited to the wedding, along with His talmidim. The wine ran out, and Yeshua’s mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.” Yeshua replied, “Mother, why should that concern me? – or you? My time hasn’t come yet.”

My time (literally, “my hour”) hasn’t come yet. Yochanan’s Gospel often has Yeshua speaking about His time (7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1), and each occasion has a reason. Here the reason is that Yeshua’s mother had been informed, even before He was born, that He was meant for greatness (Luke 1:35, 43); she had heard others prophesy about Him (Luke 2:25–38); she had observed His development (Luke 2:40, 51), although not always with understanding (Luke 2:41–50); and she had known that future generations would bless her (Luke 1:48). Yeshua’s comment is meant to aid her in the transition from seeing Him as her child to seeing Him as her Lord, to keep her from undue pride, and to indicate that He as Lord sovereignly determines when He will intervene in human affairs. He does not perform miracles on demand merely to impress His friends. [3]

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”

From Miryam’s response, Do whatever he tells you, it is evident that she was neither dissatisfied nor put off by her son but received his communication in the right spirit.

Now, six stone water jars were standing there for the Jewish ceremonial washings, each with a capacity of twenty or thirty gallons. Yeshua told them, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. He said, “Now draw some out, and take it to the man in charge of the banquet,” and they took it. The man in charge tasted the water; it had now turned into wine! He did not know where it had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. So, he called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone else serves the good wine first and the poorer wine after people have drunk freely. But you have kept the good wine until now!” 11 This, the first of Yeshua’s miraculous signs, (emphasis added) He did at Kanah in the Galil; He manifested His glory, and His talmidim came to trust in Him.

This verse states the purpose of Yeshua’s miracle: to anchor the trust of His new talmidim in the glory of God as manifested through Him.

12 Afterwards, He, His mother and brothers, and His talmidim went down to K’far-Nachum and stayed there a few days. ~ Yochanan 2:1-12

Our next post will examine Yeshua’s Driving Merchants for the Temple, and He Has an Encounter with Nicodemus.

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[1] The day after His Baptism.

[2] Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[3] Ibid.

Creeds of the Kehillah ~ Part 36

The Nicene Creed~ Part 22

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 with the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified 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.

WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON

Wherever the Son’s divinity was questioned, it followed that the divinity of the Ruach was questioned. As a result of the Arian controversy, the Council of Nicaea in 325CE worked out the relationship between the Father and the Son, confessing its belief that the Son is homoousios (the same in being} with the Father. The third article of the Nicene Creed of 325CE also confessed a belief in the Ruach HaKodesh but did not expand on what that belief entailed concerning the Father and the Son. It simply said, And we believe in the Holy Spirit, followed by a condemnation of the Arians. It is also true that, while the Nicene Creed may have settled in principle the debate regarding the Son being of the same substance of the Father, it still took another fifty years before the kehillah definitively settled the issue. The relationship of the Son to the Father was being debated during this time. Still, the ancient kehillah writers and the heretics also realized that if the Ruach was in any way denigrated, this too affected the Son: as goes the Ruach, so goes the Son. The logic was inescapable. Thus, at the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 381CE and again at the Council of Rome in 382CE in the West, the full divinity of the Ruach too was confessed and included in the Creed formulated for the Council at Constantinople in 381CE, once the full implications of what had been decided at Nicaea had been debated.

There was no inclusion of the homoousios in its confession of the Ruach, however. Such an omission may reflect the unwillingness of the period evidenced in such writers as Athanasius. Still, Basil, who said to worshiped and glorified, was as close as they came to say that the Ruach HaKodesh was God. Gregory of Nazianzus also reflects the ambivalence prevalent among some at that time when he remarked, “To be only a little in error about the Ruach HaKodesh is to be orthodox.” Such caution of not using homoousios in its confession of the Ruach may also stem from the attempts at the time to be conciliatory to the bishops who were allies against the Arians but followed the teaching of Macedonius and were present at the Council of Constantinople. There may have also been the realization that not everyone among even the orthodox, had come around yet fully to the idea of the Ruach HaKodesh being consubstantial with the Father and the Son. But this would not remain so for long. The full divinity and consubstantiality of the Ruach with the Father and the Son was soon the consensual teaching of the entire kehillah.

HE IS WORSHIPED AND GLORIFIED

The ancient kehillah’s worship and glorification of the Ruach HaKodesh is perhaps the most precise witness to its understanding of the role of the Ruach in the divine economy before such an understanding became enunciated in the Nicene-ConstantinopolitanCreed. The worship life of the kehillah not only informed the kehillah’s theology; it also expressed that theology in a way more often caught than taught. The technical way of referring to this is lex orandi et lex credendi (the rule of prayer expresses the rule of faith). Such a rule is already evident in the commission of Yeshua to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Ruach HaKodesh. While not the only formula used in the Brit Hadashah period, this formula for baptism became the most common and then the only one used in the subsequent life of the kehillah. The benediction of Sha’ul in his second letter to the Corinthians includes the Ruach in the same breath with the Father and the Son. The enlivening and unifying role of the Ruach in the life of the early kehillah and its worship is clearly evident throughout the pages of the Brit Hadashah and the post-apostolic documents of the second century. References to the Ruach’s work and activity, especially in worship, continue in the writings leading up to the fourth century and beyond. [1]

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

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Elowsky, J. C., & Oden, T. C. (Eds.). (2009). We Believe in the Holy Spirit (Vol. 4, pp 225-246).

Creeds of the Kehillah ~ Part 30

The Nicene Creed~ Part 16

In our last post, we continued to explore the Nicene Creed. In this post, we continue to dig into the third article of faith 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 ~ In Creation

When it came time to formulate the Ruach’s role in the Trinity and its interaction with the world, the ancient Kehillah chose to emphasize the Ruach’s role as the Giver of Life. They viewed the work of the Ruach as bringing to completion the work of the Father and the Son. This is especially true when contemplating the Genesis account. On its most basic level among the ancient Messianic writers, the phrase Giver of Life evokes the Ruach’s presence with the other persons of the Trinity at creation, brooding over the waters, bringing life to them and through them, animating all living creatures with the breath of life.

Even though the Hebrew and Greek words for Ruach in Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 2:7 are different words, this did not stop the Fathers from understanding the same Ruach as the breath breathed ultimately into Adam, which brought life to him and his descendants.

Passages that connected the breath and the Ruach of God with creation, such as Genesis 1:2, as well as Psalm 33:6, figured prominently in the ancient Kehillah’s understanding of the third person of the Trinity’s involvement in creation. Other passages, such as Proverbs 8:22 and Wisdom 1:7, spoke of the Wisdom of God present at creation, which was often identified from the second century with the Ruach just as John had identified the Word (Logos) with the Son. Thus, in writers such as Irenaeus, there arose the conception of the two hands of God operative in creation: The Word and Wisdom, that is, the Son and the Ruach. This later evolved into the Son is referred to as the right hand of the Father and the Ruach as the finger of God. Either of these conceptions has as its preconception the source of creative power in the Father. The creative work originated in the Father and was exercised through the Son and perfected in Ruach. Thus, the peculiar work of the Ruach was to actuate and bring to fulfillment the creative work of Father and Son. The Ruach is the vitalizer and perfecter of the Trinity’s work in creation, and it was to Him, along with the Word, that God said, Let us make man in our image. Thus, the spiritual nature of humanity also became the unique purview of the Ruach, whose work is to bring fallen humanity back to the image that was lost. The ancient Kehillah did not confine the Ruach’s work to the original creation. The same Ruach present at creation enlivened the dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision and will revitalize our dry bones at the Resurrection. The Fathers also spoke of the Ruach’s role in the Son’s conception, memorializing it in the creedal statement and was incarnate by the Ruach of the Virgin Mary. They realized that just as human and divine were joined together in the incarnation through the power of the Ruach, so the Ruach also joins the divine to created things, bringing life through them too when His presence and power is invoked in consecration and blessing as the giver of Life. [1]

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

Click here for the PDF version.

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

Y’hudah (Jude) ~ Call to Persevere and Blessing

In my last post, we explored the Judgment of False Teachers ~ Part 2. We conclude our study of Y’hudah by experiencing his Call to Persevere and His Blessing.

19 These are the people who cause divisions. They are controlled by their impulses because they don’t have the Spirit.

The people who cause divisions again refers to the false prophets and teachers who are dividing the community, seeking the values of society rather than God.

Y’hudah denounces the actions of the scoffers as devoid of God; they don’t have the Spirit. This seems to compare to the false teachers’ claims that they rely on visions, which they argued were from God (v. 8).

20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in union with the Ruach HaKodesh. 21 Thus, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for our Lord Yeshua the Messiah to give you the mercy that leads to eternal life.

Y’hudah contrasts you, dear friends, genuine Believers, with the ungodly free thinkers of vv. 4–19 and prescribes four things to do: keep the faith, pray in concert with the Ruach HaKodesh, keep yourselves immersed in God’s love, and wait for Yeshua to bless you with mercy.

22 Rebuke some who are disputing; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and to yet others, show mercy, but with fear, hating even the clothes stained by their vices.

There are three kinds of people who have left the most holy faith (v. 20):

  1. Those who are disputing have closed themselves off to the truth. One can neither teach nor save them, only rebuke them, praying that God will change them.
  2. Others, who have been swept along by the free thinkers, are relatively innocent but in grave danger of falling away. Save them first by snatching them out of the fire, then ground them in the principles of truth.
  3. Yet others have fallen into sin but have not lost their basic teachability so that they may be restored. To them, show mercy, but with fear, hating even the clothes stained by their vices – love the sinner, but hate the sin. Brothers, suppose someone is caught doing something wrong. You who have the Spirit should set him right, but in a spirit of humility, keeping an eye on yourselves so that you won’t be tempted too. ~ Galatians 6:1 (CJB).

Not only must we grow in a relationship with the Lord, but we must also consider our relationships with the rest of God’s family. We must have mercy on those who waver. Some Believers struggle in their faith and need compassion. Others need to be aggressively snatched from the fire, that is, redirected from behavior or relationship that will burn them. But helping the latter, be wise: hate even the garment defiled by the flesh. As sure as clothing contaminated by a leper’s skin could infect you, helping others overcome their sinful tendencies could drag you down with them. Reject the sin; help the sinner.

24 Now, to the One who can keep you from falling and set you without defect and full of joy in the presence of His Sh’khinah (glory)2to God alone, our Deliverer, through Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord – be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen. ~ Jude 19-25 (CJB).

In addressing God as the One who can keep you from falling, the closing prayer follows the theme of vv. 22–23. This passage is one of the greatest of the Brit Hadashah doxologies, comparable with Romans 11:33–36, 16:25–27; Rev. 4:10–11, 5:12–13, 15:3–4.

God keeps you from being fooled by the deceptions of false teachers. He can also keep you from being tripped up so that you stand before Him without blemish and with great joy. No one is sinless. To be blameless means that whatever your failures, they are sufficiently covered. When you stand before God, based on your commitment to the truth, He is going to declare that you look exactly right.

Y’hudah closes by saying that to Yeshua belongs all glory, majesty, power, and authority. It is a reminder that God has the attributes, the position, and the legitimate right to get you through whatever challenges confront and the moral decay in the world around you. [1]

In my next post, we will begin to explore the Creeds of the Kehillah.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The Tony Evans Bible Commentary.