This is an excerpt from a letter I wrote giving forth an Apologia for the faith.
You use two Scriptures and I have no problem with the first two and I find no problem with you using them. However, you cite Colossians 1:15-18 and you fall into classical errors simply because you are not discerning the use of English grammar, let alone Greek grammar, which is how the NT was originally penned.
Let’s address your first classical error: Scriptures were not written as a hodge-podge in which we are allowed to lift them out of context as we so desire in order to prove our doctrinal inclinations. I’m glad you are trying to exegete the Scriptures; however, you have need of a teacher yet. This then entails that we should go back to at least the beginning of the chapter to establish what is going on in this personal letter that Paul is writing to the church at Colosse.
V1 Paul establishes his apostleship that it is by the will of God and introduces Timothy as well.
V2 Paul names who this letter is to be addressed: saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colosse. He next blesses them with grace and peace, etc.
V3 Paul lets them know that he prays for them and thanks God…
V4 especially since they have faith in Christ Jesus and they love the saints.
V5 Paul reminds them of their hope which has been laid up for them, which had been proclaimed to them through the Gospel.
V6 The Gospel is bringing forth fruit and in them as well since they have known the grace of God in truth.
V7 Paul reminds them that they learned this through Epaphras their faithful minister of Christ.
V8 Paul tells them that Epaphras has told Paul and others of their love in the Spirit.
V9 Since the day that Paul heard the news, [What news? The news that the Gospel was bringing forth fruit in their lives], he has not ceased to pray for them and to desire that they might be filled with the knowledge of ‘his’ will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. So who does ‘his’ refer to exactly? Let’s go backwards to v4 and we find the subject of ‘his’ which is Christ Jesus. How do we know this? Because what is bringing forth fruit in these saints’ lives? The Gospel and who is the Gospel proclaiming…none other than Christ Jesus.
V10 [what will be the purpose of them being filled with the knowledge of ‘his’ (Christ Jesus’) will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding?]. That you might walk worthy of the Lord (Jesus), unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. [Because the Lord Jesus Christ came to announce the grace of God for reconciliation to God the Father by the shedding of his (Jesus’) blood.]
V11 Strengthened with all might [whose? Jesus’] according to ‘his’ [Jesus’] glorious power unto all patience and longsuffering with joy;
V12 Giving thanks unto the Father, who [God the Father] has made us meet to be full partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
V13 who [God the Father] has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated [moved] us into the kingdom of his [God the Father] dear Son:
V14 in whom [Jesus] we have redemption through his [Jesus] blood, the forgiveness of sins:
V15 who [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God….
So now let’s unpack verse 15….it is critical indeed for your understanding. So the verse tells us that Jesus is the IMAGE of the INVISIBLE GOD. Hmmm. Does God the Father have an IMAGE? The verse just tells us that HE is invisible and no one can see Him. So what does that tell us…except that GOD IS SPIRIT, even as John 4:24 tells us, and that God is seeking those who will one day be born again and be filled with His Spirit to worship Him perfectly. So now what does this tell us about Jesus Christ? If He is the IMAGE of God, it is saying that Jesus is SPIRIT too. If we think about the opening chapters of Genesis, what does God say about everything that He is making? It will REPRODUCE after ITS OWN KIND. Now, however, is this truly saying that Jesus was CREATED? NO! Why? Was God the Father created at some point in time? The Greek word for ‘first-born’ is πρωτότοκος and from this word, we get our English word ‘prototype,’ the first one in a series. So therefore, Jesus is the IMAGE OF GOD, and we are being made in Jesus’ image. How? We get born-again and we become SPIRITUAL BEINGS once again. This is what Adam and Eve were originally when God said in Genesis 1:26, “Let us MAKE man (their spirits) after ‘OUR IMAGE’ and then he FORMED their bodies and then He MADE their souls by blowing in the SPIRIT into their flesh and mankind became a living soul. So who was God talking to in Genesis? He states, ‘our’ (plural) image. Okay on to
V16 For by ‘him,’[who is ‘him’? It is the Lord Jesus and not God the Father. God in the Greek is in the genitive (possessive) case and not the nominative (subject)], were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him [Jesus] and for him [Jesus]:
V17 and he [Jesus] is before all things, and by him [Jesus] all things consist.
V18 and HE [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the prototype from the dead; that in all he [Jesus] might have the preeminence.
Verse 18 clearly states who the ‘HE’ the passage has been talking about and so HE was not CREATED as you are thinking of creation, but rather Jesus is the prototype, or the first in a series of spiritual sons and daughters that we should be like HIM and thus be able to worship the Holy Father in spirit and truth, especially since after Pentecost we are filled with the Holy Spirit so that we may do just that: worship the Most High God (the Father) and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.
Since we have been looking closely at the various Scriptures that pertain to the laws of God and as we are finally going to wrap this series up, let us look at Galatians, which is a book that is consistently cited in that total grace-ites state that this book definitively declares that the laws of God have ended. Really? Did they? Let’s see. First of all, before we go into the book of Galatians, let’s establish our ground work first; of course, these articles have already covered these Scriptures, but we will list them again.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Now the diehard grace-ite will be the first to argue and say that this was written to Israel and not to the church. Really? Using that same logic, then Jesus Christ himself said that He had come to the lost sheep of Israel. Oh-Oh! Houston…we have a problem! That doesn’t include the Gentiles if one has to be fair at this point. Now what? Okay, one more Scripture so that we can all know that everyone can get a ticket and get on board the GodShip Gospel Line.
And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
Paul writes that the Gentiles have been grafted into the root stock of Israel. Why? So that we can receive all of the promises and requirements and that they are made available to us as well. This writer finds it very interesting that those who deny that we have to obey God’s commandments are more than willing to claim the goodness of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants as well as the new covenant written with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, but those same people want nothing to do with the laws of God. We offer our condolences to you at this point…simply because you cannot have your cake and eat it too, my friends. You either take the whole Word of God or please don’t take any of it; we are not allowed to pick and choose which Scriptures we would like to have and throw out the ones that make us squirm. But unfortunately, this is exactly what has happened. Many pastors and teachers have taught the populace that the Scriptures should be viewed as something akin to a Smorgasbord or items on an À la carte menu. All of the Scriptures make up a whole body of evidence and you simply cannot dissect the Word of God, no matter how badly you may wish to do so.
Let us now define some terms that often cause confusion. These terms were not clear to this writer either growing spiritually mature in the church; this writer simply didn’t know what they meant. If the question was asked of those who were supposed to be more learned, the answer generally given was doing the laws of God. Exactly, what does that mean? Who knew…probably no one understood it, nor could define it when asked to do so. This is why this writer walked around in a fog for most of the years waiting to grow up.
What are they and what do they mean?
There are two terms that are the same thing, but they use two different words and they are:
works of the law…and…deeds of the law
simply pertain to the sacrificial portion of the law. Every Israelite male was to continually offer up the Passover sacrifice; the Yom Kippur sacrifice; they were to make peace offerings, heave offerings, free-will offerings, etc. etc. By doing so they would attain to righteousness and have their sins, transgressions and iniquities covered up by the blood of the animal offered. But too many people have been taught that this pertains to the entire Law of God and not to just one portion, thereby ‘ending’ the Law of God because we are told that we cannot be justified by the ‘deeds or the works of the Law.” This is true if applied to the sacrificial portion of the Law. These works or deeds were Israel “working out their own salvation” if you will in an attempt to make themselves righteous, even though it was available to be made righteous through faith, but they couldn’t receive it and so they focused on the works and therefore they were never justified. Christians however, accept the “atoning works of the Lord Jesus Christ” and we accept by faith that His perfect blood has made us righteous through Him and therefore we are made justified.
This is going to shock a lot of people….but oh, well. But hold on, this writer will explain. The sacrificial portion of the law didn’t end either. WHAT? No, it did not. It TRANSFERRED from the tribe of Levi to the Tribe of Judah, and the Ha Mashiach, Yeshua Adonai (or Christ Jesus) on the appointed Passover, at the time of sacrifice, did not offer up an animal but offered up Himself, and His own perfect blood seeing that He also became our High Priest. He is also our eternal High Priest because the Scriptures plainly state Yeshua was after the priestly order of Melchisedec.
Hebrews 3:1, 5:1, 5:6
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Now that that particular truth is established…here is one more for those that may not know these things: there were three parts of God’s laws. First, there was the Ten Commandments (or the moral laws); Second, there were the food laws, which were established to teach Israel on how to choose between the holy and the unholy, or the clean and the unclean, plus, it was also in place to keep Israel healthy in their physical bodies; and the Third, there was the sacrificial laws pertaining to the forgiveness of the sins of Israel. The Ten Commandments have never ended; the food laws have been modified, at least for the Gentiles coming into the church, but still having to keep some of them for the sake of their Jewish brothers and sisters, which we find in Acts 15. The third portion did not end but merely transferred to Yeshua Adonai who became the High Priest and the sacrifice that year. His office of High Priest has still not ended even to this day, for He acts on our behalf and when we humble ourselves and confess our sins, He goes before the Heavenly Father and presents His perfect blood on the altar so that we may obtain forgiveness.
There is still so much more to cover and we did not even get to the book of Galatians as hoped for and therefore this will have to be continued in Part 17. God Bless.
In the last article, we were studying in Genesis 1 and 2 to see how the Lord God Almighty set up and defined marriage between a woman and a man or a man and a woman. In this article, Part 2, we will be examining Scripture from 1 Corinthians 11:2-3, (but also including verses 4-16 for the full treatment), as these Scriptures were listed at the bottom of Gavin Peacock’s article. When dealing with words in the Scriptures, the student must first acquaint themselves with the words and how they were understood in the day that they were spoken. Too often, verses of Scripture are lifted out of their context in order to establish a point that was never intended by the author of the epistle. Plus, there are instances of cultural issues that the author is addressing within the letter that are not relevant to our day and time. In those cases, the heart of the prohibition should be established and then the central idea can be applied to our day.
In the case of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, it is addressing the cultural issue of head coverings. Furthermore, looking to the last chapter of 10:1-14, which deals with Israel’s tendencies to fall into idolatrous practices; Paul addresses both Jew and Gentile Christian believers, especially those that were former pagans, who shopped for their meat supplies in the ‘shambles,’ which contained meats first offered to idols and then were thrown out. This meat was collected and sold at greatly reduced prices. Paul allows for this meat to be bought and eaten as long as they basically do not practice the pagan rites that went along with the meat. So in v. 25, Paul instructs them to go ahead and eat the meat sold in the shambles, yet just do not ask any questions about its history. So we are dealing with the cultural issues of Corinth. In v. 32, Paul once again instructs the believers to
1 Cor 10:32-11:1
Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God. Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Then in v. 33 Paul is basically saying that (without sin) he accommodates other people in order that he might save them; then in 11:1 instructs the Corinthians to be followers of him just as he follows Christ. So this then sets the stage for the following verses in which Paul lays out what seemingly looks like a prescriptive command that women should be veiled. However, according to James B. Hurley, “women in ancient Judaism and in the Greco-Roman culture were generally not veiled in public–the shawl/face veil for women came into Near Eastern custom later through Islam…Men and women were given a cooperative social mandate in creation; women’s role was restricted only religiously in Israel*”
Whether there was a specific sect that was present in Corinth that required veiling or as some have suggested that gnostic influences had perhaps penetrated the church community and were bringing disruption into the church. Further, Paul is answering the question that was sent to him and so verses 2-15 elaborate upon this fact and Paul lays out his reasons, making reference to Genesis 2 that woman came from man, etc. This brings to mind that the religious cults were dominated by women, such as worshipping Bacchus, and if certain adherents had come into the Christian community bringing disruption concerning the order of creation, i.e. women being the first created, this would then explain why Paul brings up Genesis 2, to establish truth among the believers. However, in v.11 he clearly shows his liberationist perspective by clearly announcing that while woman came from man, God had created their spirits at the same time, thereby showing their equality before God (see Genesis 1:26-27).
1 Corinthians 11:8-11
For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
It was only the woman’s body that came from man, probably with God taking some of Adam’s DNA and thus forming her body. Her soul was unique to her own self, having received it after God blew her own spirit into her body, thus was her soul made. Further, with Paul answering the Corinthians’ questions regarding the veiling of women, we come to verse 16, which almost always is never addressed by those who are trying to affirm their patriarchal or complementarian views regarding the subordination of women to men. Quite clearly, Paul states
1 Corinthians 11:16
But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
Therefore, if any of the Corinthian believers were going to still be argumentative about this subject, Paul declares, WE HAVE NO SUCH CUSTOM, NEITHER THE CHURCHES OF GOD. This writer understands the WE to be a reference to Israel and then Paul includes the other churches of God who also do not have the practice or custom of veiling women for worship. Why? Because Paul affirms that women have already been given a permanent covering, namely, their hair.
Basically, Paul was addressing their internal quarrels and squabbling about who was right, and since most commentators do not believe that Greco-Roman women practiced veiling, one can only surmise that perhaps this had come into their community from an external source such as Gnostic beliefs that were assailing the community. The portion concerning the creation reflects Paul’s teaching to Timothy in Ephesus, which was also dealing with Gnostic infiltration into their churches. This writer does not believe that Paul was attempting to establish or re-establish patriarchal views, because other letters affirm and further the ideas first established by the Lord Jesus Christ that women were to now be on the same par as the men. They were to be allowed to learn right along with the men, and when finally established in the doctrine, they were being allowed to teach and to preach, thus showing that the Lord Jesus Christ had re-established at least that portion of Eden back to mankind, that men and women were created by God to be fully equal with each other.
Therefore, those who practice complementarianism are still trying to live under the sinful regime of patriarchalism which had its beginnings after the first couple had been expelled from the Garden. So with the purchased redemption paid for by Christ, why indeed would anyone want to go back to the former repressive lifestyle first perpetrated by sinful men? It does make one wonder.
*Excerpt taken from “Slavery, Sabbath, War & Women” by Willard M. Swartley
Since we have been studying in the book of Galatians, we have learned that the works of the Law should not be equated with the Ten Commandments; but rather the Mosaic Law, which was the outworking or the edicts that came down from the judgment seat of Moses, as he heard legal cases and then rendered his verdicts. So let us start in Galatians chapter 3:
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
The people of Galatia had come into Christianity believing that the Lord Jesus Christ had purchased their righteousness with His death and resurrection, but because of those Jews who were seeking to turn the new Christians into Jewish proselytes first, the Apostle Paul vehemently asks them, “who has bewitched you…?” Paul then wanted to know why these Galatians had obviously believed that they had received the Holy Spirit, but were now trying to make themselves righteous through the keeping of the Mosaic laws.
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Paul was telling them that they were already in the family of God…through faithful Abraham who had received his righteousness because he chose to believe what God had told him regarding the promise of a son being born to him and Sarah even when they were too old to have any children. Yet he believed and so received righteousness.
The Galatians had believed what the Apostle Paul had taught them and so had believed that the Lord Jesus Christ had purchased their salvation through His holy blood, which He shed at the cross at Calvary, and they too like all other new converts to Christianity are given the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But they had been led astray to believe that they had to establish their own righteousness through the keeping of the Mosaic laws.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
This author has heard many interpretations of this next passage: blatant misinterpretations; deliberate eisegetical attempts and then there are those who have been taught that because of this passage, we are no longer under ANY laws (cough, cough). Okay…readers are you ready?
1) Being under God’s law is a curse!
2) The laws of God ARE a curse!
3) Jesus Christ redeemed us from that cursed law.
4) Jesus tried to keep them and He became cursed.
But are these last four views really true? No. The problem lies in the fact that a lot of people skim read and they do not reflect on that which they have just read, thereby making the text totally open to their own personal interpretation. Or, they try to pigeon-hole what they just read with other teachings that they have heard and then arrive at a totally new mixture.
Here is a brief correction to the four views listed above:
1) Being under God’s laws is a blessing
2) The laws of God are HOLY
3) Jesus Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, not the cursed law.
4) Jesus didn’t TRY to keep God’s laws; He KEPT all of them, yet still chose to bear our curse, thus becoming a cursed one for us by bearing our punishment and being put to death in our place.
In a nutshell, the curse of the Law was that if you broke these laws, you were worthy to be put to death; it was that serious. But God’s laws are Holy. So what is the problem? If you choose to reject God’s Holy One, the Lord Jesus Christ, you end up trying to establish your OWN righteousness rather than receiving the free gift which is ‘the righteousness of Christ.’ From this starting point, we are now able to keep God’s laws, His Ten Commandments, when and as we submit to the leading of His Holy Spirit.
Stay Tuned for Part 14!
There have been many interpretations of Biblical passages over the last fifteen hundred years and most conservative seminaries teach their students to “let the Biblical text speak for itself.” In most cases this is sound and prudent advice. Why is this so? Because there are many passages in the Holy Bible that tend to confuse a lot of people, plus there are sections in the writings of the Apostle Paul that seem to contradict each other. To get to the core interpretation of any Biblical passage there are several things the Bible student can do to aid their understanding.
1) First, just read the text. What does it say? What do you “think” it says?
2) Are they any words in the passage that you truly do not know the dictionary meaning for that particular word. Even if you think you know what the meaning is, it can sometimes be very helpful to look them up in a college level dictionary.
3) Do you know Koine Greek? If not, do you have access to a “Young’s Analytical Concordance” or a “Strong’s Concordance?” It is one thing to know what the current meaning of a particular word is and yet we also need to know what that word meant two or more thousand years ago. Because words can and do change their meanings since language is a living entity. This is why we need to know what the lexical or the native meaning of a word may be in its original setting.
This of course is just the beginning when we study the Holy Scriptures. This of course, does not leave out the power of the Holy Spirit, nor should it preclude our prayers to the Lord Jesus Christ to have His Holy Spirit teach us the meaning of a text. This also does not say that we should never read commentaries or other articles about the text in question. When we read other Christian authors it can help keep us on the right path as well. However, with that said, when the Biblical authors wrote what we now call the Bible, they were seen and heard to be espousing new and strange doctrines such as the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We take this as accepted doctrine, but at the beginning it was definitely new and strange.
This has been stated in order to lead up to what this article is really all about, namely the passage in 1 Corinthians 11. There have been many interpretations upon this passage concerning the idea of whether we should understand that women should wear veils when praying and what the modern application of this might mean as well. This also extends to the idea of a woman having authority in her own right.
This author was recently made aware of a theological paper that was written by Troy Martin. His thesis in this paper is that a woman’s hair is equivalent to the male testicles. He employs ancient medical texts to help him to understand confusing Biblical passages, such as this one in 1 Corinthians 11. I can appreciate his egalitarian stance on women having equal authority with men, for so we do since it was established by God in Genesis 1:27. However, the first question that I asked after reading about this article that was being quoted by another author, Richard Beck, was this: Even if Paul was aware of medical practices in his day would he have known every medical idea posited? Not hardly, since information such as this would have been found only in very large metropolises, such as Athens, Greece or Alexandria, Egypt and if it did travel to other regions of the then known world, it would have taken literally decades for it to travel.
Furthermore, when Paul wrote this, would all of his listeners or readers have been familiar with such medical ideas? Perhaps the more erudite and learned of his followers may have traveled to Athens or Alexandria and posssibly been made aware of such thoughts. But again, it is very unlikely that any of the poor and illiterate gentiles that made up the larger portion of the church would have undertood the analogy that Paul (according to Martin) was attempting to posit.
So, let’s just keep to the Biblical text shall we? If we examine the text in question v.2-16, the Greek word for head in v.3 is η κεφαλη which can be translated as the literal head on a person, it can also be translated as origin as in the head-waters of a river and as authority. In v.3 Paul breaks down the origin of everything and states that ultimately everything has come from God. Beginning in v.4 and ending in v.6 it has been thought that this is not the Apostle Paul setting down doctrine, rather he is quoting from a portion of their letter to him. Then in v.7, Paul begins his answer to the Corinthian church. Let us also keep in mind that Paul is probably not addressing anyone in the Jewish synagogue at this point; because when a Jewish man prayed in the Temple, he did cover his head with his talith. But the woman also covered her head when she prayed in the women’s section.
What Paul is addressing here are cultural issues in the city of Corinth. Remember also that the majority of the church that he was addressing had come from the pagan temples and they were still very much immersed in pagan ideology and traditions. Even though they were learning Christianity; converts to a new religion cannot just erase a life-time of prior traditions and cultural expressions overnight.
Then in v.10 we find that there is this strange allusion to angels and because of them a woman should have authority on her own head as well. Paul did not just pull a theological rabbit out of his hat so to speak by referring to the angels. Let us go back to 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 and we find Paul teaching that we shall be judging the world, and in v.3 he states that we shall also judge the angels. This is why he refers to the issue of angels in 11:10 and that women should have authority as well, simply because women will also be included as well as the men, and we shall judge the angels . In v.13-15 Paul equates that a woman is already covered….covered by her hair…and therefore needs no other covering. This negates the false churchianity doctrine that a woman’s husband is her covering. A woman already has her own covering and furthermore, even as Paul states that we are all one in Christ and it is this Christ that is our eternal covering.
Then in the last verse, v.16, Paul affirms for them that
But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
The Bible student cannot expect to have it any clearer. Paul states: “we have no such CUSTOM… could you be any more exact? Paul was dealing with cultural issues not doctrinal issues. Furthermore, these cultural issues had their origin in pagan god worship, not the worship of the One True God. Finally, Paul closes with, “neither the churches of God.”
First and foremost in studying the Bible, we should allow the text to speak for itself and then do our word studies in English and in the Koine Greek. Through all of this we should still be reading and re-reading the text in question. Then if necessary, we should research and read various commentaries to see what other Christians have written about the subject matter. Then throughout it all, we should be seeking the teaching from the Holy Spirit. This is our final authority when it comes to understanding the Scriptures.