There are negative and positive commandments and there are not (in general) legal punishments for breaking the positive ones. Negative commands use the Hebrew words for “no” and “not” which are לא and אין to describe what one should avoid doing, such as “thou shalt not” in the ten commandments. However a negative can also be implied, like describing a rebellious son and issuing punishment for him. (implication: don’t be a rebellious son)
18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place. 20 They shall say to the elders of his town, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. So you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NRSV)
However, what if this is actually the case throughout? It would be another rule of interpretation we could use. Just like the rules of Hillel are found throughout the Bible, Hillel just described the rules as Newton described the law of gravity. Hillel no more instituted the rules of Hillel than Newton instituted gravity. So it is possible that this is a principle of biblical law and we can make an argument based on the idea of positive commandments not having a legal punishment.
One of the positive Passover commandments states:
10 Speak to the Israelites, saying: Anyone of you or your descendants who is unclean through touching a corpse, or is away on a journey, shall still keep the passover to the Lord. 11 In the second month on the fourteenth day, at twilight, they shall keep it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it; according to all the statute for the passover they shall keep it. 13 But anyone who is clean and is not on a journey, and yet refrains from keeping the passover, shall be cut off from the people for not presenting the Lord’s offering at its appointed time; such a one shall bear the consequences for the sin. (Numbers 9:10-13)
My argument follows:
1. The Passover is a positive command and therefore does not have a legal punishment.
2. “Cut off from the people [of israel]” taken literally, means not being considered an Israelite.
3. “Cut off a from people [of israel]” would not be punishment for foreigners who were already not israelite.
4. Therefore if you gain the status of Israelite via the Passover then being considered a foreigner would not be a legal punishment, you would just not get the benefit of the Passover.
5 But if “cut off from people” is legal punishment this contradicts with number 1.
6. To reconcile, we suppose the Passover gave the legal right to be Israelite. Therefore, being cut off is not a legal punishment, just a lack of benefit from the positive command.
Additional evidence seems to imply the Passover was a conversion ritual:
If an alien who resides with you wants to celebrate the passover to the Lord, all his males shall be circumcised; then he may draw near to celebrate it; he shall be regarded as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it; (Exodus 12:48)
It’s interesting that this idea of positive and negative commandments assumes that God can decide to write things in a specific way in order to convey a message. “God said let there be light and there was light” is written as “וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אֹור וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור” you’ll notice that “and there was light” and “let there be light” are written in the same way ” וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור” and ” יְהִי אֹור” except for the vav (meaning “and”) and the nikkud (nikkud weren’t added till later). How can this be? Because of the vav conversive which changes the tense of the statement, so they can be written the same way even though the tenses are different. However, the vav does not force this to be the case all the time. Therefore, this may be conveying “it happened exactly as God said it would” through the syntax. If I see a pattern in the way punishment is given for negative and positive commandments then that may be evidence of a pattern that has meaning.
For instance, with the positive command of honoring your father, you can do things that wouldn’t honor your father that should not be legally punished like squandering your inheritance. Another example, Christ criticized some Pharisees for teaching that people can make offerings of things instead of supporting/honoring their father. Mark 7:10-12. However, it would be inappropriate for the legal system to step in and tell them that you had to give your parents things to support them, this is a family matter. (at the very least it would be inappropriate if it dictated the specifics)
But can “cut off” really mean that? The LXX has what may appear to a more violent interpretation of “cut off.” “that soul shall be utterly destroyed from it’s people” https://studybible.info/interlinear/Numbers%209:13 For those who aren’t familiar with the Septuagint (LXX), it is simply a translation of the Hebrew and is trying to convey the meaning behind the Hebrew. It will also reflect their understanding of the Hebrew at that time. I think it is a good reference which was quoted by Jesus and his disciples but I don’t view it as the final authority on something. It is something that must be weighed with the rest of the evidence. It is also useful because it is translated sometimes from more ancient Hebrew texts than the Masoretic so you can use the Dead Sea scrolls as a second witness to see if a certain reading is correct (for example it turns out the Goliath is not as tall as he is the Masoretic text according to the witness of the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls)
In addition, the LXX also uses some greek words that mean violence in much less forceful ways, for example, read the context of these and often “force” just means “persuade” https://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G971Also, the LXX translates “cut off” as “destroyed from his race” which isn’t the same thing as destroyed. Also, observe that that same word is used to just mean “destroyed” without the corresponding “from his race” qualification: https://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G1842 If something is qualified it is usually not the same as the unqualified thing and should be restricted to that context, another example would be “olam” or “forever” it is sometimes used in context of a human life where it just means “forever until death” The LXX actually uses “forever” to translate “all of his days” from the Hebrew multiple times (i.e. https://studybible.info/interlinear/ex%2021:6 )
Going back to positive commandments, another interesting set of verses is:
25 The priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the Israelites, and they shall be forgiven; it was unintentional, and they have brought their offering, an offering by fire to the Lord, and their sin offering before the Lord, for their error. 26 All the congregation of the Israelites shall be forgiven, as well as the aliens residing among them, because the whole people was involved in the error. 27 An individual who sins unintentionally shall present a female goat a year old for a sin offering. 28 And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the one who commits an error, when it is unintentional, to make atonement for the person, who then shall be forgiven. 29 For both the native among the Israelites and the alien residing among them—you shall have the same law for anyone who acts in error. 30 But whoever acts high-handedly, whether a native or an alien, affronts the Lord, and shall be cut off from among the people. 31 Because of having despised the word of the Lord and broken his commandment, such a person shall be utterly cut off and bear the guilt. (Numbers 15:30)
This would seem to include any sin, including breaking positive commands. So is “cut off from among the people” a legal punishment here? Not in my mind; the law is part of the covenant and if you reject part of the law by sinning purposely then you reject the whole covenant. (James 2:10) Therefore it’s hard to see if this is actually punishment or is just a statement of the result of purposely rejecting part of the covenant. You get the benefit of the covenant by being Israelite, if you reject it you lose that benefit. Therefore this may not actually be punishment but a lack of obtaining the benefit of the covenant.
Interestingly, in addition to sinning on purpose, verse 30 may refer to taking an improper place of judgment for oneself. The previous context is about forgiving sins and the following context is about them asking what to do to a man who had picked up sticks on the sabbath so the would judge properly.
It actually uses the same word to talk about claiming responsibility for something yourself: (“ought” is supplied in the KJV)
Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, H7311 and the LORD hath not done all this. (Deu 32:27 KJV)
But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, H7311 whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. (Num 15:30 KJV)
The Septuagint uses the same word here for people who refuse to listen to the priest to carry out the law properly:
And the man who ever should do in pride G5243 to not obey the priest standing beside to officiate in the name of the lord your God, or the judge who ever should be in those days, then [2shall die 1that man], and you shall lift away the wicked one from out of Israel. (Deut 17:12)
And the soul who shall do a thing by hand through pride G5243 — of the native born, or of the foreigners — [3God 1this one 2provokes], and [2shall be utterly destroyed 1that soul] from out of its people,(Num 15:30)
11 You must carry out fully the law that they interpret for you or the ruling that they announce to you; do not turn aside from the decision that they announce to you, either to the right or to the left. 12 As for anyone who presumes to disobey the priest appointed to minister there to the Lord your God, or the judge, that person shall die. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again. (Deut 17:11-13 NRSV)
While none of that conclusively shows it also refers to presumptuous judgment it does provide an interesting parallel. If you purposely reject God’s authority structure by taking up judgment and not listening to the priest you also reject God’s covenant.
Update 2020-03-14: I have found a possible flaw in my idea of “cut off from people” (KJV version) This seems to parallel “put to death” with “cut off from people”:
Exo 31:14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work H4399 therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
Exo 31:15 Six days may work H4399 be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work H4399 in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Exo 35:2 Six days shall work H4399 be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work H4399 therein shall be put to death.
One possible explanation to save my theory is that both happen. Not only is the person killed but they are no longer considered an Israelite since working is a purposeful act of breaking the covenant.
All verses are in the NRSV unless otherwise noted. When I first started writing this I thought I had to admit that the Bible did not explicitly prohibit rape of an unmarried unbetrothed woman. However, I have now realized that the Bible does explicitly prohibit rape in Ex 21:16 and Deut 24:7 because it prohibits the capture/seizure of people which is part of rape. I argue that Deuteronomy 22:28-29 is connected with Exodus 22:16-17 and is about seduction and not rape but I don’t have time to make that argument here, instead see this article: https://cbmw.org/topics/sex/did-old-testament-law-force-a-woman-to-marry-her-rapist
I do think rape is explicitly against other laws–for instance it would at least be covered under the laws concerning damages to people and certainly against the law to love your neighbor. However, I will argue that just because it is not explicitly named that the Bible’s attitude should not be taken as lax towards it. In fact, I will argue that under the biblical law that rape requires the death penalty.
So why isn’t rape itself explicitly mentioned in the law? For a few reasons I suspect
1 The first one is pretty obvious: it was covered directly by other laws against capturing and indirectly by laws against slavery which came almost immediately in the giving of the law.
There was no reason to add specific cases to a good comprehensive general one. This comes by observing that the Tanakh is very much against capturing and slavery:
Whoever kidnaps h1589 a person, whether that person has been sold or is still held in possession, shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:16)
If someone is caught kidnaping h1589 another Israelite, enslaving or selling the Israelite, then that kidnaper shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 24:7)
Notice it uses the same Hebrew word for “steal” in the 10 commandments. There are some translations that have “and” in-between each case here rather than “or” which causes some to argue that it only prohibited the combination of them: kidnapping, selling, and found in their possession. However, in YLT this seems to be the result of translating the vav literally and consistently as “and” and is not a mandate for how to understand the vav in that particular context. Keil and Delitzsch correct the misconception that vavs can only mean “and” and note the severity with which this capturing was treated:
Maltreatment of a father and mother through striking (Exodus 21:15), man-stealing (Exodus 21:16), and cursing parents (Exodus 21:17, cf. Leviticus 20:9), were all to be placed on a par with murder, and punished in the same way. By the “smiting” (הכּה) of parents we are not to understand smiting to death, for in that case ומת would be added as in Exodus 21:12, but any kind of maltreatment. . . . Man-stealing was also no less a crime, being a sin against the dignity of man, and a violation of the image of God. For אישׁ “a man,” we find in Deuteronomy 24:7, נפשׁ “a soul,” by which both man and woman are intended, and the still more definite limitation, “of his brethren of the children of Israel.” The crime remained the same whether he had sold him (the stolen man), or whether he was still found in his hand. (For ו – ו as a sign of an alternative in the linking together of short sentences, see Proverbs 29:9, and Ewald, 361.) This is the rendering adopted by most of the earlier translators, and we get no intelligent sense if we divide the clauses thus: “and sell him so that he is found in his hand.”
This attitude is consistent with the Bible’s libertarian treatment of individual freedom and the prohibition against forced servitude:
15 Slaves who have escaped to you from their owners shall not be given back to them. 16 They shall reside with you, in your midst, in any place they choose in any one of your towns, wherever they please; you shall not oppress them. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16 )
It even says the type of slavery that happened in Egypt was wrong since it says that you shall not crush (H3905) the sojourners like has been done to you in Egypt:
You shall not wrong or oppress H3905 a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:21)
This is because the same word H3905 is used to describe the oppression of the Egyptians upon the Israelite:
The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress H3905 them. (Exodus 3:9)
You shall not oppress H3905 a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. H3906 (Deu 26:7)
It in fact says that you should treat sojourners as natives:
The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
It says that you should never rule over anyone like the Egyptians did to the Israelites (the context in Ezekiel is criticizing their behavior):
The Egyptians became ruthless H6531 in imposing tasks on the Israelites, (Exo 1:13)
You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled H6531 them. (Ez 34:4)
So if they couldn’t behave like the Egyptians and they couldn’t capture or force people to stay with them then what motivation could servants have for staying? I think this was a way for people who had gotten into debt (by committing a crime or otherwise) to get back on their feet by making an extended contract with someone. The servant could break that contract but if they broke it for no good reason then other people would be less likely to want to have them as a servant. It also says to provide them with resources when they went out, this may have been partially motivation for staying. In addition this may imply that they came in with nothing, hence were working to get back on their feet:
And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14 Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 15:13)
There are intricacies to these contracts that often escape our notice; servants could be given authority to manage the household and manage the marriage of a son (Genesis 24:2) and also may have been heirs automatically when no children were present (Genesis 15:3). They could own property (2 Samuel 19:17), and they, or a relation, could buy their freedom regardless of the master’s will to keep them (Lev 25:47–50).
And it seems to have had a positive connotation:
Then she said, “May I continue to find favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, even though I am not one of your servants.” (Ruth 2:13)
You could replace “servant” with “daughter” and it would still make sense. Interestingly a son is said to serve the father and it uses the same word that means “servant” elsewhere:
They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve H5647 them. (Mal 3:17)
Since you have to capture someone to rape them and you can’t capture people this would outlaw rape. Also raping a person is like taking them temporarily as a sex slave so the prohibition against forced servitude or slavery would indirectly outlaw rape as well.
2 The second reason it does not explicitly mention rape is because of the nature of ancient law which is not meant to be comprehensive:
Excursus: The Paradigmatic Nature of Biblical Law
Modern societies generally have opted for exhaustive law codes. That is, every action modern society wishes to regulate or prohibit must be specifically mentioned in a separate law. Under the expectations of this exhaustive law system, state and/or federal law codes run to thousands of pages and address thousands of individual actions by way of requirement or restriction or control or outright banning of those actions. By this approach, all actions are permitted that are not expressly forbidden or regulated. Thus it is not uncommon that criminals in modern Western societies evade prosecution because of a “technicality” or a “loophole” in the law—their undesirable actions are not exactly prohibited or regulated by a written law, so they cannot be convicted even though an objective observer may be convinced that what they did surely deserved punishment.
Ancient laws did not work this way. They were paradigmatic, giving models of behaviors and models of prohibitions/punishments relative to those behaviors, but they made no attempt to be exhaustive. Ancient laws gave guiding principles, or samples, rather than complete descriptions of all things regulated. Ancient people were expected to be able to extrapolate from what the sampling of laws did say to the general behavior the laws in their totality pointed toward. Ancient judges were expected to extrapolate from the wording provided in the laws that did exist to all other circumstances and not to be foiled in their jurisprudence by any such concepts as “technicalities” or “loopholes.” When common sense told judges that a crime had been committed, they reasoned their way from whatever the most nearly applicable law specified to a decision as to how to administer proper justice in the case before them. Citizens of ancient Israel, and especially its judges, had to learn to extrapolate from whatever laws they had received from Yahweh to whatever justice-challenging situation they were dealing with. The number of laws dealing with any given application of justice might be few, but that would not prevent justice from being applied. It would simply have been the case that all parties were expected to appeal for guidance to those laws that did exist, whether or not expressed specifically in terms that dealt with the case under consideration. In other words, the Israelites had to learn to see the underlying principles in any law and not let the specifics of the individual casuistic citation mislead them into applying the law too narrowly.
God’s revealed covenant law to Israel was paradigmatic. No Israelite could say: “The law says I must make restitution for stolen oxen or sheep (Exod. 22:1), but I stole your goat. I don’t have to pay you back,” or “The law says that anyone who attacks his father or mother must be put to death (Exod. 21:15), but I attacked my grandmother, so I shouldn’t be punished,” or “The law says that certain penalties apply for hitting someone with a fist or a stone (Exod. 21:18), but I kicked my neighbor with my foot and hit him with a piece of wood, so I shouldn’t be punished.” Such arguments would have insulted the intelligence of all concerned and made no impact on those rendering judgments. It is in connection with the paradigmatic nature of Israel’s covenant law that Jesus, following the established tradition in Judaism, could make so sweeping an assertion as that two laws sum up all the rest [Matt. 22:34-40]. Properly understood, two laws do indeed sum up everything in the entire legal corpus of the Old Testament. So do ten laws (the Ten Words/Commandments); so do all six hundred and thirteen. The numbers go no higher, nor would they need to. If a reasonable number of comprehensive and comprehensible laws (as few as two, as many as six hundred and thirteen) are provided to a people as paradigms for proper living, there is no excuse for that people to claim ignorance of how to behave or to claim innocence when their sins are found out.
. . .
A final implication of paradigmatic law: not all laws will be equally comprehensive in scope. That is, some will be very broad in their applicability (love Yahweh your God) and some much more narrow (do not bear false witness). One might ask, “Why not say ‘don’t be dishonest in any way,’ which would be broader and more comprehensive than ‘don’t bear false witness’?” But that would be missing the way paradigmatic law works: through a somewhat randomly presented admixture of rather specific examples of more general behaviors and very general regulations of broad categories of behavior, the reader/listener comes to understand that all sorts of situations not exactly specified (either because a law is so broad or so narrow) are also implicitly covered. In other words, when all the laws are considered together, one’s impression is that both the very narrow, precise issues and the very broad, general issues fall under the purview of God’s covenant. The wide variability of comprehensiveness is intended to help the person desiring to keep the covenant to say, “I now see that in the tiniest detail as well as in the widest, most general way, I am expected to try to keep this law—in all its implications, not just in terms of its exact wording.” Some commandments are thus less broad in scope in the way they are expressed than is necessary to cover all the intended actions; others are so broad in scope in the way they are expressed that one could never think up all the ways they might be applied. This is just as it should be. The narrow and the broad taken together suggest the overall comprehensiveness of God’s covenant will for his people. (p. 442-45) https://www.rodneychrisman.com/2010/08/11/the-paradigmatic-nature-of-biblical-law/ see original source: https://books.google.com/books?id=8H9E00e5PSwC&pg=PA442#v=onepage&q&f=false
3 There was already a law mandating that servants not be held against their will. This can be combined with the rule of “light and heavy” to also outlaw holding anyone against their will which is a prerequisite for rape.
15 Slaves who have escaped to you from their owners shall not be given back to them. 16 They shall reside with you, in your midst, in any place they choose in any one of your towns, wherever they please; you shall not oppress them. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16 )
Essentially servants would have had the least rights in the society, so if people with the least rights couldn’t be held against their will then how much more the non-servants? Light and heavy is described below:
Kal Vahomer (Light and heavy)
The Kal vahomer rule says that what applies in a less important case will certainly apply in a more important case. A kal vahomer argument is often, but not always, signaled by a phrase like “how much more…”
The Rabbinical writers recognize two forms ok kal vahomer:
kal vahomer meforash – In this form the kal vahomer argument appears explicitly. kal vahomer satum – In which the kal vahomer argument is only implied. There are several examples of kal vahomer in the Tenach.
For example: Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. (Proverbs 11:31)
And: If you have run with footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? (Jerermiah 12:5a)
Other Tenach examples to look at: Deuteronomy 31:27; 1 Samuel 23:3; Jerermiah 12:5b; Ezekiel 15:5; Esther 9:12
There are several examples of kal vahomer in the New Testament. Y’shua often uses this form of argument.
For example: If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the Law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? (Jn. 7:23)
And: What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. (Mt. 12:11-12)
Other examples of Y’shua’s usage of kal vahomer are: Matthew 6:26, 30 = Luke 12:24, 28; Mathhew 7:11 = Luke 11:13; Matthew 10:25 & John 15:18-20; Matthew 12:12 & John 7:23
4 The fourth reason rape may not have been mentioned is because of cultural differences that made it not as important to address directly.
Unlike the Greeks and Romans, the ANE was not very ‘into’ using slaves/captives for sexual purposes, even though scholars earlier taught this:
“During the pinnacle of Sumerian culture, female slaves outnumbered male. Their owners used them primarily for spinning and weaving. Saggs maintains that their owners also used them for sex, but there is little actual evidence to support such a claim” [OT:EML:69]
There’s no case in the Bible where rape was taken lightly. The rape of the concubine in Judges was avenged by a national civil war. (Judges 19-21) The rape of Tamar by Amnon was avenged by Amnon’s death and possibly was the cause of another national civil war because David didn’t punish Amnon. (2 Sam. 13) What’s commonly called the rape of Dinah (Gen 34:2) (which may have even been consensual) was avenged by genocide. (Gen 34:25-31) Do we even take rape that seriously today? I think not.
The one possible exception to this pattern is in judges 21 where the men of Benjamin are given women that were captured from Jabesh-Gilead, in addition, they are invited to steal women at a festival which they accomplish. However, a few points: 1. This was a terrible time in Israel and the story illustrates that. 2. There is also genocide and killing going on left and right so the fact that another atrocity is overlooked is expected. 3. The women of Jabesh-Gilead that Benjamin take are specifically those that have never lain with a man. There is no way to test for virginity reliably–especially in that day–and so this was most likely because the women were too young to have been with a man, hence they would have had to wait for them to mature before marriage. 4. It is never said that they raped anyone, rather the women seeing that they were taken and that their fathers were not going to do anything about it may have eventually acquiesced willingly (although admittedly this still terrible and is not consensual since it is done under duress and manipulation). Nevertheless, these cases differ from the explicitly stated cases of rape and do not show an–overall–cultural acquiescence to those cases.
In the Torah women were protected from having their conjugal duty diminished “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.” (Ex 21:10) and Rachel and Leah were able to trade a night with Jacob for mandrakes Gen 30:14-18. Also note that it’s the less attractive Leah that tells Jacob: “‘You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ So he lay with her that night.” God killed Onan for not having sex in a way that would cause pregnancy when he was supposed to perform the duty of the Levarite in Genesis 38:8-10. Hannah’s prayer was answered by God when she cried because she was not able to become pregnant and was ridiculed by her rival 1 Samuel 1:1-28. Part of one of the Jewish interpretations of Leviticus 19:29 in the Talmud is to not deny your daughter her right of marriage for too long:
Ein Yaakov (Glick Edition), Sanhedrin 9:1 (Fol. 76) You shall not profane your daugher (Lev. 19, 29). R. Eliezer says: “This refers to one who marries off his [young] daughter to an old man.” R. Akiba says: “This refers to one who leaves his daughter unmarried until she enters the age of womanhood.” R. Cahana in the name of R. Akiba said (Ib. b) Who is to be considered poor and shrewd-wicked? He who has left his daughter unmarried until she enters the age of womanhood.”
Rather than sex being an obligation of women, it seems that it was an obligation of men especially for the purpose of giving women children. This probably breaks a lot of the preconceptions most people have about the Biblical culture.
Here’s an interesting statement on how culture really determines what people are likely to do:
At the same time, many of the men who have violated a woman sexually do not meet clinical diagnostic criteria as either sociopaths, sexual deviants, or for that matter neurologically (or intellectually) impaired. While “stranger danger” stirs deep, easy dread (and is hence a useful trope for screenwriters and politicians), most sexual violence takes place among otherwise normative people who are familiar with each other and are involved in some type of relationship. This raises the possibility that to these perpetrators, the violence appears, in context, normative. By this argument, a sizable proportion of the men who attack women are following, rather than flaunting, social dictates.
The role of social dictates in shaping individual behavior is often overlooked because we are inclined to favor internal causes when explaining other people’s behavior. This tendency is so fundamental that it has a name: The Fundamental Attribution Error. (When evaluating our own, particularly negative behavior, however, we often rely on less damning external explanations. To wit: you’re late for work because you’re lazy. I’m late because of traffic. This is called the “actor-observer effect”).
It turns out, however, that social and situational variables often override individual characteristics in predicting one’s behavior and overall future. If I need to predict whether you’ll be dancing next Friday night, it’s better for me to inquire about where you’ll be that night than about your extraversion score on a personality test. If I want to know whether you’ll become wealthy, I’m better off basing my prediction on whether your parents are wealthy than on the conscientiousness score on your personality test. We are more beholden to our circumstances than we tend to believe. This is true in general; and it’s true for sexual violence in particular. For example, contextual and group factors (such as orders from the leadership, pre-conflict rates of sexual violence, intra-group dynamics, gender inequality) predict the prevalence of war rapes better than the personalities or characteristics of individual soldiers.
Circumstances matter in part because they set (or remove) certain hard parameters. Regardless of your personal characteristics, if you’re at your wedding, you’re going to dance. The fact also remains that if you are born in Afghanistan to poor parents, you have no access to capital. If you’re born in Manhattan to wealthy parents, you do. Circumstances, particularly social ones, also matter greatly because as herd animals, we are utterly dependent on the approval, acceptance, cooperation, and support of others. Thus, we are wired to notice, take into account, and align with the behavior of those around us.
If you’re still telling yourself that you are your own person, doing your thing, not giving a damn about what others think—then you need to grow up and face the (social) facts. Society gives you life. It is your main source of strength and identity. Without it you’re hopeless—an ant that has lost its colony. Society provides you with the tools and rules for living. It has fearsome powers of reward and retribution. In other words society, as the sociologist Randall Collins has argued brilliantly, is God. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-therapy/201902/when-men-attack-why-and-which-men-sexually-assault-women
We expect people back then to be like they are today. However, this isn’t always the case. The first difference we do know is that they were a polygynist society which is sometimes caused by a need to deal with the issue of lack of men (sometimes caused by war):
However, this is speculation. I haven’t had any luck on finding what the actual gender ratio was in biblical times and when I have found articles there seem to be different opinions.
However, some things I can observe from the law and culture is that: 1. there is no premarital sex, a man who sleeps with a woman is supposed to marry her “he shall surely marry her” and “unless the father absolutely refuses” in Exodus 22:16 and Deuteronomy 22:29 (I argue that this is indeed a seduction but don’t have time to go into this now) Here’s something I wrote that touches on premarital sex: https://hebrewroots.intentionalcommunities.world/2019/02/03/gesenius-and-leviticus-1929/ This makes early sexual competition over mates virtually non-existent if followed correctly. 2. Marriage is arranged by the family at a young age which also prevents any rejection based on sexual prowess that seems to increase the risk of men becoming rapists. It is possible however that someone’s wife would reject them and that might increase the risk of rape. However, based on my arguments on the Torah the consent of both the person being married and the guardian was required because the Torah gives the freedom to run away for any reason based on not holding servants against their will and the rule of light and heavy. Also, the modern rise in narcissistic personality disorder may be a result of modern living and individualism all of which would be absent in the tribal society of the Bible: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201401/why-is-narcissism-increasing-among-young-americans
The following is about rape being associated with narcissism:
Heavy drinking, perceived pressure to have sex, a belief in “rape myths” — such as the idea that no means yes — are all risk factors among men who have committed sexual assault. A peer group that uses hostile language to describe women is another one. Yet there also seem to be personal attributes that have a mediating effect on these factors. Men who are highly aroused by rape porn — another risk factor — are less likely to attempt sexual assault if they score highly on measures of empathy, Dr. Malamuth has found. What about the idea that rape is about power over women? Some experts feel that research into hostile attitudes toward women supports this idea. In general, however, researchers say motives are varied and difficult to quantify. Dr. Malamuth has noticed that repeat offenders often tell similar stories of rejection in high school and of looking on as “jocks and the football players got all the attractive women.”As these once-unpopular, often narcissistic men become more successful, he suspects that “getting back at these women, having power over them, seems to have become a source of arousal.”
I should be clear when arguing this that I am not blaming women rejecting men for causing men to rape. I am saying based on science allowing men to freely compete and be rejected by women on an individual basis seems to increase the likelihood that narcissistic men will rape. A family-based method of choosing mates would redirect anger towards a rival family which could be bad as well, it’s just not likely to result in rejected narcissistic men blaming women. There’s a similar behavior in orangutans for those who find animal studies helpful in explaining human behavior:
One possible reason for the rapes, she said, is because it takes so long for males to mature in the rain forest. In zoos, captive male orangutans usually become mature at age 13 or 14. In the rain forest of Borneo, however, they do not become mature until age 20, only then developing the cheek pads and large throat sac of a male adult. Although they are capable of sexual activity before that, females in heat are not attracted to them, so their only sexual option becomes force.
There’s a Biblical ethics paper I am working on that will address more misconceptions like this and fill in some details on how ancient Israelite law was supposed to work. I think there is a huge amount of bias in the way people interpret the Bible from chronological bigotry. Us moderns looking backwards/downwards like to feel good about ourselves and like we are making moral progress. We also just like to be able to feel outraged about something, whether it’s Harambe’s killing or ancient people mistreating their women. This seems to be the case irrespective of our level of knowledge on these topics. However, the bias that comes with interpreting the law through a lens that assumes words like “slave” (used by some translations of the Bible) meant the same thing back then as it does today is even worse. If we poison the well with misunderstandings as bad as that, it’s no wonder that we see other parts of the law as barbaric.
Introduction: The Modern Concept of Hell in the Old Testament doesn’t exist
Verses are in the KJV unless otherwise stated. Hell is never mentioned in the Hebrew Old Testament, but only “the grave” (“sheol” in Hebrew). Some translations will translate sheol as “hell,” but it is without basis. For example in the KJV here Sheol is the inevitable destiny of all mankind and in Job 14:13 and Amos 9:2 a place where one would hide from God’s wrath” (if that were possible) Gen 37:35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave H7585 unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? H7585 Selah.
O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, H7585 that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
Though they dig into hell, H7585 thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:
The Old Testament and the New Testament do not contradict, so it’s hard to believe that the foreign concept of eternal torment would be introduced into the NT without any precedent in the OT. However, the OT goes further and contradicts this concept. Take these verses for example that say God’s wrath is only temporary:
Psalm 30:5 NKJV For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
Isaiah 54:8 NKJV 8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the Lord, your Redeemer.
Lamentation 3 NKJV 31 For the Lord will not cast off forever. 32 Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies. 33 For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men.
And these verses show that the wicked will be destroyed or consumed, not tormented:
Psalms 37 NKJV 10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. … 20 But the wicked shall perish; And the enemies of the Lord, Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish. Into smoke they shall vanish away.
Psalm 68:2 NKJV As smoke is driven away, So drive them away; As wax melts before the fire, So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
Psalm 104:35 NKJV May sinners be consumed from the earth, And the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!
Malachi 4 NKJV 4 “For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the Lord of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves. 3 You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this,” Says the Lord of hosts.
Isaiah 1:16 NKJV “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,
Ezekiel 28 NKJV 18 “You defiled your sanctuaries By the multitude of your iniquities, By the iniquity of your trading; Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you. 19 All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; You have become a horror, And shall be no more forever.”
The New Testament Does Not Change from the Old Testament
We must keep this in mind when we investigate the NT. As Yeshua (Jesus) states KJV:
Luke 24 44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled,G4137 which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.G4137 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break G3089 one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
The same greek word G3089 for “break” is used here when talking about making rules in the church and makes the undeniable connection that the rules it says not to “break” or “loose” are the rules in the old testament.
Mat 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose G3089 on earth shall be loosed G3089 in heaven.
Mat 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose G3089 on earth shall be loosed G3089 in heaven.
Hence we see the word “fulfilled” as meaning the accomplishment of something, but not the passing away of something. The Law of Moses, and The Prophets, and The Psalms, remain after they have been fulfilled in Christ, for example:
Mat 8:17 KJV That it might be fulfilled G4137 which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
This is just to point out that everything remains unchanged by their fulfillment. (they are indeed not destroyed as Yeshua says) My point is that if the OT speaks against the concept of eternal torment, then that cannot change in the NT. However, let us examine some of the verses commonly used to argue for the modern concept of hell in the NT anyway. It is not my intent here to provide a full proof argument for an alternate interpretation but just give evidence for and provide a possibility for an alternate interpretation. This will be sufficient to resolve the contradiction and provide people with options for interpreting the Bible that are not contradictory.
New Testament Words Translated As “Hell”
The words that are translated into english in the NT as “hell” are “Hadēs,” “Tartarus,” and “Gehenna.” Hadēs is the mythological Greek underworld and is also the greek word which is used for “sheol” in the new testament e.g.
Act 2:27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.
Psa 16:10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
Probably the closest word in the Greek language to what we think of as hell is Tartarus (the reason I say closest, is because it is the bad part of Hadēs where people were punished) Hadēs is a more neutral concept but Tartarrus is only used once in the new testament here:
2 Pe 2:4 KJV For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, G5020 and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
And notice it isn’t even used as a place of judgement but a place to be stored until judgement.
Gehenna is a real place: gehinom
And the lake of fire is also probably a real place on earth. (see: http://www.askelm.com/secrets/sec106.htm and see: https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/lake-of-fire/ ) Rico Cortes argues that the lake of fire symbolically corresponds to ancient legal devices to determine innocence or guilt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2V-Uf3v0aE )
With these three concepts, none on their own charactize eternal torment.
“Hell” Didn’t Mean Hell Originally
In fact even the english translation of hell may have meant something different in older meaning of the word:
Another interesting thing to note is that webster’s 1806 dictionary:
Hell, n. the place of the damned, the grave, prison
Here hell has the meaning of Sheol included. In addition from the Watchtower online library, they quote another version of webster’s dictionary:
“It is, in fact, because of the way that the word “hell” is understood today that it is such an unsatisfactory translation of these original Bible words. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, under “Hell” says: “fr[om] . . . helan to conceal.” The word “hell” thus originally conveyed no thought of heat or torment but simply of a ‘covered over or concealed place.’ In the old English dialect the expression “helling potatoes” meant, not to roast them, but simply to place the potatoes in the ground or in a cellar.”
Interestingly enough both the Online Etymology Dictionary, and Google Entymology backs up part of their assertions:
“Old English hel, hell, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hel and German Hölle, from an Indo-European root meaning ‘to cover or hide.’”
Old English hel, helle, “nether world, abode of the dead, infernal regions,” from Proto-Germanic *haljo “the underworld” (cognates: f. Old Frisian helle, Dutch hel, Old Norse hel, German Hölle, Gothic halja “hell”) “the underworld,” literally “concealed place” (compare Old Norse hellir “cave, cavern”), from PIE *kel- (2) “to cover, conceal” (see cell).
The English word may be in part from Old Norse Hel (from Proto-Germanic *halija “one who covers up or hides something”), in Norse mythology the name of Loki’s daughter, who rules over the evil dead in Niflheim, the lowest of all worlds (nifl “mist”). Transfer of a pagan concept and word to a Christian idiom. In Middle English, also of the Limbus Patrum, place where the Patriarchs, Prophets, etc. awaited the Atonement. Used in the KJV for Old Testament Hebrew Sheol and New Testament Greek Hades, Gehenna. Used figuratively for “state of misery, any bad experience” since at least late 14c. As an expression of disgust, etc., first recorded 1670s.”
“cell (n.) Look up cell at Dictionary.com
early 12c., “small monastery, subordinate monastery” (from Medieval Latin in this sense), later “small room for a monk or a nun in a monastic establishment; a hermit’s dwelling” (c.1300), from Latin cella “small room, store room, hut,” related to Latin celare “to hide, conceal.”
The Latin word represents PIE root *kel- (2) “to cover, conceal” (cognates: Sanskrit cala “hut, house, hall;” Greek kalia “hut, nest,” kalyptein “to cover,” koleon “sheath,” kelyphos “shell, husk;” Latin clam “secret;” Old Irish cuile “cellar,” celim “hide,” Middle Irish cul “defense, shelter;” Gothic hulistr “covering,” Old English heolstor “lurking-hole, cave, covering,” Gothic huljan “cover over,” hulundi “hole,” hilms “helmet,” halja “hell,” Old English hol “cave,” holu “husk, pod”)…”
So we see that hell, is related to cell, which is in turn related to cellar: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cellar which is an interesting connection to the fact that helling potatoes could mean just putting them in a place like a cellar.
Verses Used to Argue for Hell
If we don’t get any of this stuff about hell from the words themselves, where do we get it? Well we probably get it from the Greeks and their teaching that the human soul is nessesarilly immortal. (Judaism was quite Hellenized at the time of Jesus, no pun intended) The Bible specifies no such thing universally (you can get the idea that if some people have eternal life, then their souls must be immortal, however this is not true by nessesarilly for everyone)
Now let’s look at some common verses used to argue for the modern Christian concept of “hell.”
Matthew 25:41 (NKJV) 41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: … 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Notice we have an immediate problem with the modern christian reading. Eternal life is contrasted with everlasting punishment, but that would mean the wicked would also attain eternal life. If you search for the word used for “punishment” “κόλασιν” in the septuagint you come up with these results:
Search result: κόλασιν
I John 4:18
The corrosponding hebrew words used in Jeremiah 18:20 is H2534 which means “wrath”.
for all but one of the passeages in Ezekiel it is H4383 which means “stumbling stone” http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H4383&t=KJV
for Ezekiel 43:11 it is H3637 which means “ashamed” http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3637&t=KJV
So we see the majority usage in the septuagint is the Hebrew for “stumbling stone.” This might even remind us of the word used in Romans 9:32 where christ is refered to as a stumbling stone. The words are however different.
In addition Liddle and Scott bring out a different possiblity for the meaning in the greek, which is:
“kol-a^sis, eôs, hê, checking the growth of trees, esp. almond-trees, Thphr.CP3.18.2 (pl.).”
So thus far, we have an implication of not nessesarilly torment or punishment but prunning, shame, stumbling, but what about the eternal part? Even if we take the fire literally here (which I don’t) that just means the fire here is said to be eternal but not the time people are in the fire. Also This passage from Daniel needs also to be considered:
Daniel 12 NKJV 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.
So yet another punishment is mentioned, that of contempt. The only other time this word is used is in this passage.
Isa 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring H1860 unto all flesh.
Now here we have two types of consuming forces mentioned. “Fire” and “worm.” One should notice that both of these things together are not possible: worms cannot survive in fire. When we have incompatible statements we can resolve the statements by taking them metaphorically and see what is common between them. The thing in common seems to be consumption, both worm and fire consume and destroy. The shame can be read as eternally shamed or that their memory is looked on with contempt, so this can coincide with their consumption. Although I find it quite interesting that the Bible would even bother mentioning shame and not mention eternal torment, since the latter is of so much more import than the former. I see a tension there that can be resolved by a metaphorical reading.
Anouther example of these coinciding metaphors appears in the passages where Isaiah is quoted:
Mk. 9:43-48 NKJV
43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where
‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where
‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where
‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
I mention these passages so we can kill two birds with one stone: If Isaiah is not talking about the afterlife, then neither are the passages that quote it. Keil and Deilitzch comment on Isiah 66:24 passage thusly:
“The prophet had predicted in Isaiah 66:18, that in the last times the whole multitude of the enemies of Jerusalem would be crowded together against it, in the hope of getting possession of it. This accounts for the fact that the neighbourhood of Jerusalem becomes such a scene of divine judgment. בּ ראה always denotes a fixed, lingering look directed to any object; here it is connected with the grateful feeling of satisfaction at the righteous acts of God and their own gracious deliverance. דראון, which only occurs again in Daniel 12:2, is the strongest word for “abomination.” It is very difficult to imagine the picture which floated before the prophet’s mind. How is it possible that all flesh, i.e., all men of all nations, should find room in Jerusalem and the temple? Even if the city and temple should be enlarged, as Ezekiel and Zechariah predict, the thing itself still remains inconceivable. And again, how can corpses be eaten by worms at the same time as they are being burned, or how can they be the endless prey of worms and fire without disappearing altogether from the sight of man? It is perfectly obvious, that the thing itself, as here described, must appear monstrous and inconceivable, however we may suppose it to be realized.”
Keil and Delitzsch don’t suppose instead that the passage could be metaphorical but say that it must be realized. And they imply (correctly in my view) that the passage has to do with the battle for Jerusalem also known as armegeddon in revelation.
John Gill also observers:
“… these are not the carcasses of the camp of Gog and Magog, the Jews so call, as Kimchi interprets it; though it may have reference to the carcasses of Gog’s army, the Turks, that will be slain in their attempt to recover Judea, Ezekiel 38:1 or else the carcasses of those that will be slain at the battle at Armageddon, Revelation 16:16 or the army of Gog and Magog, at the end of the thousand years, Revelation 20:8.”
So whichever way you take it (casualties of Armegeddon or the army of Gog and Magog) it is a reference to something happening on earth in the future, which makes the worm and fire almost certainly incompatible.
Rashi comments here:
“their worm: The worm that consumes their flesh.
and their fire: in Gehinnom.
and abhorring: Heb. דֵרָאוֹן, an expression of contempt. Jonathan, however, renders it as two words: enough (דֵּי) seeing (רְאִיָה), until the righteous say about them, We have seen enough.”
A Look at Revelation:
Revelation 14 NKJV 9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
While their torment is continual here, it does not specify how long a duration it is. The smoke rises forever, but that is metaphorical language also used elsewhere. See for example the parallel description in Revelation 18:18 and Revelation 19:3, the smoke of Babylon is described in both places to be rising forever even though Babylon is ultimately destroyed, and doesn’t burn forever. The smoke be a hyperbole that the destruction was very great or that it symbolizes an eternal remembrance of the destruction by the smoke being an eternal memorial. The lake of fire (which this may refer to) is probably a real place. (as we’ve seen before) In addition the fire here is used metaphorically. Look at:
Revelation 21 (YLT) 4 and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and the death shall not be any more, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain, because the first things did go away.’ 5 And He who is sitting upon the throne said, Lo, new I make all things; and He saith to me,Write, because these words are true and stedfast;’
Since the fire is on earth and he is making all things new it makes no sense for it to last forever.
In fact Revelation 14 is a quote from Isaiah 34:9-10 about the judgement of Edom, in NKJV:
Isaiah 34 NKJV 9Its streams shall be turned into pitch, And its dust into brimstone; Its land shall become burning pitch. 10 It shall not be quenched night or day; Its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; No one shall pass through it forever and ever.
And this verse relates this future Judgement of Edom to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorah in NKJV:
Jeremiah 49 NKJV 17 “Edom also shall be an astonishment; Everyone who goes by it will be astonished And will hiss at all its plagues. 18 As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah And their neighbors,” says the Lord, “No one shall remain there, Nor shall a son of man dwell in it.
Deuteronomy 29 NKJV 23 ‘The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and His wrath.’
Genesis 19 NKJV 24 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
The reason I point this out, is that Sodom and Gomorah is said to be destroyed by eternal fire:
Jude 1 NKJV 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
One way to resolve this problem of “why aren’t the fires of Sodom still burning?” is to say that the fire is not actually eternal, but infact a metaphor for eternal consumption. Sodom and Gomorah were destroyed, and that destruction was eternal (the people never came back or were revived), it was consumed, and that consumption wasn’t reversed (eternal consumption). That is why I think it is said to be destroyed by eternal metaphorical fire or… eternal consumption.
There are other examples of hyperbolic or metaphorical language in scripture such as this. When the word “hated” is used in the old testament it often means “loved less.”
Genesis 29 KJV 30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. 31 And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.
This is to show that hyperbolic language is often used. Eternal fire could be the same way. Now for Revelation 20:
Revelation 20 NKJV 9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
At first glance, you may see a problem for my argument especially when paired with the previously mentioned Matthew 25
Matthew 25:41 NKJV 41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: … 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
However, observe that the devil and his angles aren’t nessesarilly made of the same stuff as others. Hence, they may indeed be tormented forever but others may be consumed instantly. In addition this is an expounding upon revelation 14:9-11 and not describing something new so we can’t read something contradictory to Revelation 14 here. (read Revelation 19:17-20:10 to see the parallel) This is similar to how Revelation 18:1-19:3 expounds upon Revelation 14:8. Also it says the beast, the false prophet, and the devil are tormented, and the beast is probably an abstract concept such as an empire, or a world system. (using the metaphors of beasts in the book of Daniel) So the implication here is that the torment may be abstract as well. The devil and his angels also seem to be treated differently by the lake of fire than humanity is, consider these verses:
Rev 20 NKJV “12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
When it says this is the “second death” we have to include this verse in our analysis:
Mat 10:28 KJV
And fear not them which kill G615 the body, but are not able to kill G615 the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
This indeed sounds like a second death: destruction of the soul, not eternal life with torment. Again we have the concepts of Death and the Hades (read “grave”) thrown into some physical place like Gehenna or The Dead Sea, this has to be metaphorical (probably for destruction) especially since the word second death is used. Hebrew words used for death here in the septuagint are: H01698, H04194, H06913, H01565, H04191
They all mean death or destruction. The first one H1698 which may be a little different is often translated as pestilence or plagues, but it is used to mean destruction as well. For example:
Hos 13:14 NKJV I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; H1698 O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
1Pe 1:7 NKJV That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, G4442 might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
One also needs to recall the material we have already reviewed regarding Isaiah 34 noticing that the terms “day” and “night” are again used and notice that with regards to Matthew 25. In addition to all this, the word for torment here may imply to test for quality or to destroy as well.
Taking the greek definition:
G928 βασανίζω – Strong’s Greek Lexicon Number
Derivation: from G931;
KJV Usage: pain, toil, torment, toss, vex.
1) to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the colour of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal
2) to question by applying torture
3) to torture
4) to vex with grievous pains (of body or mind), to torment
5) to be harassed, distressed
5a) of those who at sea are struggling with a head wind
Encyclopedia Britannica: Alternate titles: Lydian stone; Lydite
Alternate titles: Lydian stone; Lydite
Touchstone, black siliceous stone used to ascertain the purity of gold and silver. Assaying by “touch” was one of the earliest methods employed to assess the quality of precious metals. The metal to be assayed is rubbed on the touchstone, adjacent to the rubbing on the touchstone of a sample of a metal of known purity. The streaks of metal left behind on the touchstone are then treated with nitric acid, which dissolves impurities, and thus, when the streaks are compared, the contrast between pure and impure metal is heightened. Because other metals, such as copper, can be alloyed to silver without significantly changing its colour, the touchstone method is not usually employed now to assay silver. It is still used, however, to assay gold and provides a reasonably accurate guide to quality.”
Or taking the corrosponding Hebrew definition that is often translated to mean “make desolate” or “destroy.”
G928 appears in the old testament:
But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed H8074 them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
So whichever definition we take, either from the Greek or the hebrew, both have alternate definitions to torment. However, I must admit the way the word is used in this verse adds some difficulty to this possibility:
Revelation 9 NKJV
5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment G928 them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.
However, revelation is a highly metaphorical book in general. The rider of the horse that has the sword his mouth may be a symbol of the word of God going out to convert people. Hence revelation may use a militaristic metaphor to talk about spiritual warfare. See the previous series on Herb Montgomery Knowing this, it is interesting that a good number of the verses used to argue for the modern concept of hell (with eternal torment) come from revelation.
Check out the usage of fire in revelation 19 in NKJV:
Rev 19 NKJV 19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire G4442 burning with brimstone 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G4442 Here are a couple corrosponding hebrew words to this greek one:
With the first you will notice the usage in KJV: Exo 3:2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire H784 out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, H784 and the bush was not consumed. Exo 12:10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. H784
What fire does is consume things, if it doesn’t, it is a miracle like the burning bush.
Also the word Brimstone Rev 19:20 is most often used to describe destruction, here in NKJV:
Job 18 NKJV 15 They dwell in his tent who are none of his; Brimstone is scattered on his dwelling. 16 His roots are dried out below, And his branch withers above. 17 The memory of him perishes from the earth, And he has no name among the renowned.
Isaiah 30 NKJV 27 Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar, Burning with His anger, And His burden is heavy; His lips are full of indignation, And His tongue like a devouring fire. 28 His breath is like an overflowing stream, Which reaches up to the neck, To sift the nations with the sieve of futility; And there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, Causing them to err. 29 You shall have a song As in the night when a holy festival is kept, And gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute, To come into the mountain of the Lord, To the Mighty One of Israel. 30 The Lord will cause His glorious voice to be heard, And show the descent of His arm, With the indignation of His anger And the flame of a devouring fire, With scattering, tempest, and hailstones. 31 For through the voice of the Lord Assyria will be beaten down, As He strikes with the rod. 32 And in every place where the staff of punishment passes, Which the Lord lays on him, It will be with tambourines and harps; And in battles of brandishing He will fight with it. 33 For Tophet was established of old, Yes, for the king it is prepared. He has made it deep and large; Its pyre is fire with much wood; The breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, Kindles it.
Ezekiel 38:22 And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
To summarize some of what is said here and in http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/2001-1_021.pdf Revelation describes destructions:
Revelation 6:12-17, 11:15-18, 14:6-20, 16:17-21, 17:1-19:5, 19:6-20:21
There are many mappings from short to long descriptions of things:
Revelation 14 is the Judgement of Babylon (14:8) and expanded in 18:1-19:3
14:9-11 is expanded in 19:17-20:10.
14:12-13, is expanded in 20:11-21:8.
18 and 19 is of destruction and the expanded form in 14:6-11 cannot contradict this.
You will notice that the order in the Isaiah 34 is:
1 burning and brimstone
2 not quenched (no rest) day and night
3 ascending forever
Some argue that since 2 and 3 are reversed in revelation John is switching the emphasis to them having no rest day and night. However, there is another reason why John would modify the order and that is to preserve a certain structure. To quote Ralph G. Bowles:
“To see how John has structured this description of judgement
against the worshippers of the Beast, it is necessary to examine the
whole unit, Revelation 14:9-11. It can be set out in its inversion as follows:
(A) If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a
mark on his forehead or on his hand, (9)
(B) he also shall drink the wine of God's wrath, poured
unmixed into the cup of his anger, (lOa)
(C) he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the
presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the
(Ci) And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and
(Bi) and they have no rest, day or night, (l1b)
(Ai) these worshippers of the beast and its image, and whoever
receives the mark of its name. (l1c).
This pattern conforms to the recognised structure of introverted
parallelisms in the Bible. This structure has been described thus:
‘There are stanzas so constructed that, whatever be the number of
lines, the first line shall be parallel with the last; the second with the
penultimate; and so throughout, in an order that looks inward, or to
borrow a military phrase, from flanks to centre.’21 Using the marks of
this figure listed by K. Bailey, it is possible to trace the structure of
Revelation 14:9-11. The climax ofthe unit is found in the centre (the
tormenting destructive judgement by God’s fire)…”
Now lets look at Matthew 18
Matthew 18 NKJV 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
This one is in fact a parable, which cannot at all be read literally, hence the argument for hell here is especially weak, and one should note that hell is not portrayed as a torment that motivates you to pay back any sort of debt. However, even more prominent is the observation that this torment may not be in the afterlife at all but a consquence of the human conscience.
There are in fact just 4 texts that are used mainly for these types of arguments: Matthew 18:34-35; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 14:10-11 and Revelation 20:10
The last thing we should deal with is the parable of lazarus. It is indeed a parable but some still use it to argue for a literal interpretation.
Luke 16:19-31 New King James Version (NKJV)
19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”
I contend that this parable is directed at the hellenized Jews using their worldview to get a message across. Other problems that this parable brings up if taken literally is that there you will literally be able to see your relatives tormented while you are relaxing in heaven or “Abraham’s bosom.” Also why wasn’t this place called “Abraham’s bosom” mentioned before in the Bible?
Citation taken from Herb montgomory “Do I have to Believe in Hell?” https://renewedheartministries.com/sermons/2015jesusdialogue/outlines/12doihavetobeleiveinhell.pdf Concentric Circles - Free to Think and ask Questions “In order to understand the parable in detail and as a whole, it is essential to recognize the first part derives from a well-known folk- material . . . This is the Egyptian folk-tale of the journey of Osiris, the son of Setme Chamois to the under-world . . . Alexandrian Jews brought this story to Palestine, where it became very popular as the story of the poor scholar and the rich publican Bar Ma’Jan.” - J.Jeremias, Parables p. 183
From what I know this was common in early hellenized Jewish literature:
Other early Jewish works adapt the Greek mythical picture of Hades to identify the righteous dead as being separated from unrighteous in the fires by a river or chasm. In the pseudo- epigraphical Apocalypse of Zephaniah the river has a ferryman equivalent to Charon in Greek myth, but replaced by an angel. On the other side in the Bosom of Abraham: “You have escaped from the Abyss and Hades, now you will cross over the crossing place… to all the righteous ones, namely Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, Elijah and David”
Herb Montgomery makes the connection that since God is an all consuming fire, and in the Song of Songs it says love is a fire
Song of Songs 8 (NKJV) 6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as [am]cruel as [an]the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame.
Since it says that God is love that being in the presence of God is the real fire that is spoken of. For instance Isaiah 33 talks about the everlasting burnings being the destination of all, but that only the righteous survive: (NKJV)
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” 15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil:
Isaiah 43 says something similar about the fire being for all and in this life:
1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.
Here is the link to Herb Montgomery’s series. The ones I have drawn from are “Do I Have To Believe In Hell? Part 1″ and Do I Have To Believe In Hell? Part 2”
The first parallel is for the purpose of showing that sometimes the word “nations” (gentiles) was used to refer to the lost tribes of Israel from the northern kingdom also called “Ephraim:”
Romans 11:25 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) 25 For I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this secret — that ye may not be wise in your own conceits — that hardness in part to Israel hath happened till the fulness of the nations may come in;
Genesis 48:19 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) 19 And his father refuseth, and saith, `I have known, my son, I have known; he also becometh a people, and he also is great, and yet, his young brother is greater than he, and his seed is the fulness of the nations;’
Paul Parallels, apostle to the Gentiles or to the lost tribes of Israel? Read these verses and the context around them:
Rev 21 YLT 12 having also a wall great and high, having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve messengers, and names written thereon, which are [those] of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel, . . . 24 and the nations of the saved in its light shall walk, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it,
Acts 9 (referring to Paul) (YLT) 15 And the Lord said unto him, `Be going on, because a choice vessel to Me is this one, to bear My name before nations and kings — the sons also of Israel; 16 for I will shew him how many things it behoveth him for My name to suffer.’
Isaiah 60 (YLT) 3 And come have nations to thy light, And kings to the brightness of thy rising. 4 Lift up round about thine eyes and see, All of them have been gathered, they have come to thee, Thy sons [referring to Israel] from afar do come, And thy daughters on the side are supported.
Isaiah 49 (YLT) 7 Thus said Jehovah, Redeemer of Israel, His Holy One, To the despised in soul, To the abominated of a nation, To the servant of rulers: `Kings see, and have risen, princes, and worship, For the sake of Jehovah, who is faithful, The Holy of Israel, and He chooseth thee.’ . . . 22 Thus said the Lord Jehovah: `Lo, I lift up unto nations My hand, And unto peoples I raise up Mine ensign, And they have brought thy sons in the bosom, And thy daughters on the shoulder are carried. 23 And kings have been thy nursing fathers, And their princesses thy nursing mothers; Face to the earth — they bow down to thee, And the dust of thy feet they lick up, And thou hast known that I [am] Jehovah, That those expecting Me are not ashamed.
Gen 35:10 (YLT) 10 and God saith to him, Thy name [is] Jacob: thy name is no more called Jacob, but Israel is thy name;’ and He calleth his name Israel. 11 And God saith to him,I [am] God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply, a nation and an assembly of nations is from thee, and kings from thy loins go out;
I’m not arguing that what Jesus said then is applicable to our situation today since the Herodians were different (and worse) than our government. Herod was actually divinely executed for starting to accept that he was God (an anti-Christ) in Acts 12:22-23. Here’s some other evidence I think shows people have misread “give unto Ceasar”:
The Herodians were the political party of Herod the king and favored submitting to Herod and to Rome, hence it is interesting that they brought that group in order to trap him:
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians. . .(Matthew 22)
Luke’s version is even more clear:
20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. 21 They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. 22 “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”(Luke 20)
An unorthodox reading of Christ’s responses can be made in light of Deuteronomy 10:14 which says
“Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.”
and Genesis 1:27 which states
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Compare this with:
“And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” . . . “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.'” (Matthew 22:20-21)
Here’s how I think the inscription connects: “But what did the inscription say? On the front, the coin said “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus.” The reverse side of the coin read “Greatest Priest.” But that is how it was inscribed in Latin. In Greek, Tiberius coins and inscriptions read theouhuios (“son of the god”). Note with special emphasis that Tiberius put the word “god” before the word “son” in his inscriptions and coins.” http://christianmonthlystandard.com/index.php/son-of-god-in-roman-world/
“son of” can mean “in the nature of”, or “in the image of” e.g. Colossians 1:15 Add on to this that Jesus had charges of opposing the payment of taxes: Luke 23:2 and that he says to not let tax collectors in the Church: Matthew 18:17 and you can see why you might read Jesus as saying cryptically not to pay taxes. (cryptically because the Herodians were there and he didn’t want to get killed just yet) However, this must not be used to negate: 1 Peter 2:13-25 for those rulers who “punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” I think this holds for most governments in general even though there are a lot of problems in the world.
From my experience the standard messianic or Hebrew roots way of reading Matthew 12 is to say that Yeshua is dealing with matters of weight in the law, like what is more important, to keep the Sabbath or to feed oneself when desperately hungry?
However, in 1 Samuel 21 (which Yeshua references here) it seems that the priest thought that it was perfectly legal for David to eat the show-bread. This got me thinking and talking to some people. The priest just asked if his men (and David as well in some translations) had not had sex, which is kind of a weird question. Then David said: “5….“Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” (ESV) Depending on the translation verse 5 will be different, but just humor me and read it in the ESV or one of many others that are similar for now.
Anyways, the reason the question is weird is that if you read the stipulations for the Aaronic priests to eat the holy things, there is a very similar requirement of not eating if they have recently had an emission of seed. (this could be close enough that they used one as an equivalent for the other) Some verses about the show-bread follow:
4 `Any man of the seed of Aaron, and is leprous or hath an issue — of the holy things he doth not eat till that he is clean; and he who is coming against any uncleanness of a person, or a man whose seed of copulation goeth out from him, 5 or a man who cometh against any teeming thing which is unclean to him, or against a man who is unclean to him, even any of his uncleanness — 6 the person who cometh against it — hath even been unclean till the evening, and doth not eat of the holy things, but hath bathed his flesh with water, 7 and the sun hath gone in, and he hath been clean, and afterwards he doth eat of the holy things, for it [is] his food; 8 a carcase or torn thing he doth not eat, for uncleanness thereby; I [am] Jehovah. 9 `And they have kept My charge, and bear no sin for it, that they have died for it when they pollute it; I [am] Jehovah sanctifying them. 10 `And no stranger doth eat of the holy thing; a settler of a priest and an hireling doth not eat of the holy thing; 11 and when a priest buyeth a person, the purchase of his money, he doth eat of it, also one born in his house; they do eat of his bread. 12 `And a priest’s daughter, when she is a strange man’s, — she, of the heave-offering of the holy things doth not eat; 13 and a priest’s daughter, when she is a widow, or cast out, and hath no seed, and hath turned back unto the house of her father, as [in] her youth, of her father’s bread she doth eat; but no stranger doth eat of it. (Lev 22:4-13 YLT)
5 `And thou hast taken flour, and hast baked twelve cakes with it, two tenth deals are in the one cake, 6 and thou hast set them two ranks (six in the rank) on the pure table before Jehovah, 7 and thou hast put on the rank pure frankincense, and it hath been to the bread for a memorial, a fire-offering to Jehovah. 8 `On each sabbath-day he arrangeth it before Jehovah continually, from the sons of Israel — a covenant age-during; 9 and it hath been to Aaron, and to his sons, and they have eaten it in the holy place, for it [is] most holy to him, from the fire-offerings of Jehovah — a statute age-during.’ (Leviticus 24:5-9 YLT)
So why didn’t the priest just ask David to make sure his men were free from that before they ate? And there are other restrictions besides that, so why didn’t the priest ask something like “are they ceremonially clean?” Why that specifically?
There is a theory that David was actually a high priest, but of a different order, probably the same one that his descendent Yeshua was after: the order of Melchizedek. Notice that the first time David inquires of God it mentions that Abiathar had brought the ephod to him:
20 But one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21 Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I am responsible[c] for the lives of all your father’s house. 23 Stay with me, and do not be afraid; for the one who seeks my life seeks your life; you will be safe with me.” 1 Now they told David, “The Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing floors.” 2 David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” 3 But David’s men said to him, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4 Then David inquired of the Lord again. The Lord answered him, “Yes, go down to Keilah; for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 So David and his men went to Keilah, fought with the Philistines, brought away their livestock, and dealt them a heavy defeat. Thus David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah. 6 When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand. (1 Samuel 22:20-1 Samuel 23:6 NRSV)
Before that Ahimelech inquired for David but after the ephod is brought to David, David inquires for himself:
And he enquired H7592 of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine. (1Sa 22:10)
Did I then begin to enquire H7592 of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more. (1Sa 22:15 KJV)
Therefore David enquired H7592 of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. (1Sa 23:2 KJV)
Then David enquired H7592 of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand. (1Sa 23:4 KJV)
In addition this inquiring is associated with David being brought the Ephod:
9 When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to the priest Abiathar, “Bring the ephod here.” 10 David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. (1 Samuel 23:9-10 NRSV)
In addition, if David is not a priest, he would be the only non-priest in the Bible to wear the ephod:
And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. H646 (2Sa 6:14)
And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod H646 of linen. (1Ch 15:27)
David’s sons are also called priests in 2 Samuel 8:18 The word is Kohen and is almost always translated as “priests” elsewhere except in that one spot: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3548&t=KJV However, the ESV translates it as priests:
and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and David’s sons were priests. (2 Samuel 8:18 ESV)
Some people take this to mean “ministers” because of a parallel in 1 Ch 18:16:
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and the sons of David were chief about the king. (1Ch 18:17)
However, Gesenius mentions that if you compare the following verses then priests do seem to be the intended meaning. I’m guessing he means that the previous verse has the same word used for actual priests in 2 Samuel 8:
17 and Zadok son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech son of Abiathar, [are] priests, (h3548) and Seraiah [is] scribe,18 and Benaiah son of Jehoiada [is over] both the Cherethite and the Pelethite, and the sons of David have been ministers. (h3548) (2 Samuel 8:17-18 YLT)
And David saith to Ahimelech the priest, `The king hath commanded me a matter, and he saith unto me, Let no man know anything of the matter about which I am sending thee, and which I have commanded thee; and the young men I have caused to know at such and such a place; (1 Samuel 21:2 YLT)
9 And answer doth Doeg the Edomite, who is set over the servants of Saul, and saith, `I have seen the son of Jesse coming in to Nob, unto Ahimelech son of Ahitub, (1 Samuel 22:9 YLT)
However, Gesenius thinks the writer of Chronicles interpreted the word as “chief” because he was unable to admit any priests that weren’t of the tribe of Levi. However, this contradiction may be solved by noting that priests were a type “chief” or by postulating that David’s sons were first after him as priests as the word is literally “rishon” or “first.” Of course, Gesenius’s obnoxious translator argues with him about this in the brackets:
There is one interesting objection to this theory which is that of Uzziah being opposed by the priests in 2 Chronicles 26:18 where they say this:
18 and they stand up against Uzziah the king, and say to him, `Not for thee, O Uzziah, to make perfume to Jehovah, but for priests, sons of Aaron, who are sanctified to make perfume; go forth from the sanctuary, for thou hast trespassed, and [it is] not to thee for honour from Jehovah God.’ (2 Chronicles 26:18 NRSV)
Uzziah was a descendant of David but just like not all Levites are priests, not all Davidic descendants may have been priests. Also, Uzziah was not trying to sacrifice or inquire of God like David or Solomon. It is only the offering of incense that is expressly forbidden him by the priests, notice they do not say he is forbidden from temple work in general. In addition, the kingdom is split in two and there seem to be different rules in action when that happens. For example, Elijah was able to offer sacrifices in his contest with the priests of Baal away from the temple in the northern kingdom. It is true that the H6999 in the Hiphil can also mean other types of offering according to Gesenius but since the context uses the same wordform to describe his attempted burning of incense on the alter it seems to me we can restrict this meaning and not go with translations such as the NRSV which make the priests argue against him doing offerings in general: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6999&t=KJV
How could David’s sons be priests if they were not descended from Aaron? Maybe because they were descended from David who was priest after a different order. And since David was a priest after another order that order had different requirements for how to eat the holy things. (requirements that are not listed in the Bible, but may only be hinted at here) David’s servants (or young men) may have been able to eat either because the bread was given to them by David, maybe in some ceremony such as listed here that reminds me of the last supper: Gen 14:18 “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)” or because there was a similar allowance as with the Aaronic priesthood where servants (or slaves) of the priests could eat of the things for the priests:
but if a priest buys a slave as his property for money, the slave may eat of it, and anyone born in his house may eat of his food. (Lev 22:11 ESV)
(The word translated “young men” in 1 Samuel 28:5 can mean “servant” Jdg 19:11 “And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant H5288 said unto his master…..” http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?page=2&strongs=H5288&t=KJV#lexResults )
Of course David is being dishonest in his dealings with the priest here and he regrets it later because the priests get killed by Saul. David is not on a mission from the King and we don’t know if actual servants are going to meet him. However, this explains the priest’s questions and reactions in another way than the standard reading.
Hence, we can interpret Matthew 12 as Jesus first being confronted with an oral law from the Pharisees that interprets the plucking of grain–even without using a farm tool–as work. The Lightfoot commentary states: ‘Fathers of the Traditions write thus; “He that reaps on the sabbath, though never so little, is guilty. And to pluck the ears of corn is a kind of reaping; and whosoever plucks any thing from the springing of his own fruit is guilty, under the name of a reaper.”‘
Matt 12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”
Jesus starts out by pointing out problems with their oral law; that their law can’t explain these things:
3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? (Matthew 12)
Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? (Matthew 12:5)
Verse 5 may be referring again to the show-bread in Leviticus 24:
8Every Sabbath day Aaron shall arrange it before the Lord regularly; it is from the people of Israel as a covenant forever. 9And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion out of the Lord’s food offerings, a perpetual due.” (Lev 24:8-9)
He is not only criticizing the oral law for not being able to explain the priestly activities of David and of the Aaronic order, but he is also pointing out that even in the law there are exceptions made. He is saying “if making, picking up, and eating bread is ok here, then why not picking up and eating grain?”
One objection to the idea that a priest of the order of Melchizedek could jump in and eat the bread is the following passage which seems to suggest that the priests were supposed to burn everything they didn’t eat:
26 and out of the basket of unleavened things, which [is] before Jehovah, he hath taken one unleavened cake, and one cake of oiled bread, and one thin cake, and putteth [them] on the fat, and on the right leg; 27 and putteth the whole on the hands of Aaron, and on the hands of his sons, and waveth them — a wave-offering before Jehovah. 28 And Moses taketh them from off their hands, and maketh perfume on the altar, on the burnt-offering, they [are] consecrations for sweet fragrance; it [is] a fire-offering to Jehovah; 29 and Moses taketh the breast, and waveth it — a wave-offering before Jehovah; of the ram of the consecrations it hath been to Moses for a portion, as Jehovah hath commanded Moses. 30 And Moses taketh of the anointing oil, and of the blood which [is] on the altar, and sprinkleth on Aaron, on his garments, and on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him, and he sanctifieth Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him. 31 And Moses saith unto Aaron, and unto his sons, `Boil ye the flesh at the opening of the tent of meeting, and there ye do eat it and the bread which [is] in the basket of the consecrations, as I have commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons do eat it. 32 `And the remnant of the flesh and of the bread with fire ye burn; (Lev 8:26-32)
This may be instructions for a specific sacrifice however even if it was talking about the show-bread universally it still wouldn’t make me reconsider this theory. I see these rules as situationally applying to Aaron and his sons. If there is a different order of priest we may have different rules. We’ve already seen that it said the show-bread was for “Aaron and his sons” but this doesn’t say that it wasn’t for anyone else. Another passage that might be read in a similar way follows, but this seems to be specifically related to a consecration ritual:
31 `And the ram of the consecration thou dost take, and hast boiled its flesh in the holy place; 32 and Aaron hath eaten — his sons also — the flesh of the ram, and the bread which [is] in the basket, at the opening of the tent of meeting; 33 and they have eaten those things by which there is atonement to consecrate their hand, to sanctify them; and a stranger doth not eat — for they [are] holy; 34 and if there be left of the flesh of the consecration or of the bread till the morning, then thou hast burned that which is left with fire; it is not eaten, for it [is] holy. (Ex 29:31-34)
Back to the Matthew 12 passage. He then anticipates a possible objection: “but this isn’t the temple” and at the same time possibly references his own status as one of higher order of priest such as David:
I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. (Matthew 12:6)
And finally again points out that they and their oral law are missing the point, by being so focused an a letter of the law approach, and on the mechanics of the sacrifices and priestly practices that they have forgotten that love fulfills the law (rather love properly interprets the law in rabbinical argumentation) not how much you sacrifice:
But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. (Matthew 12:7)
This is a quote from Hosea 6:6 and the word used there for mercy is also translated as kindness: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2617&t=ESV
For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8)
The parallel in Mark 2 actually includes before this “And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
This is essentially saying the sabbath is for the benefit of man, not a test for man, or a trial to see if man could do everything exactly right. The way to properly interpret the law of the sabbath (as with all other laws) is through love and not through putting heavy burdens of rules on people (this can lead people to think they are righteous carrying those burdens). Love properly interprets the law and hence requires a proper heart: Jeremiah says “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” as well as
I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, (Ezekiel 11:19 NRSV)
The letter of the law may be represented by the heart of stone (the bare rock on which the commands were chiseled) while the spirit (that gets to the purpose of the law) may be represented by the heart of flesh that is kind and merciful.
Then in Mark 2 as well as here we see: “So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” “The Son of Man” may be in reference to the curse, and the promise in Genesis, where someone born of Adam, (a son of man) of the seed of a woman would reverse the curse the first Adam had brought by obeying the serpent. This curse would be reversed by crushing the serpent’s head. (“THE son of man” may be the specific one who would do this) Christ is referred to as the second Adam elsewhere. (also see the Lightfoot commentary) As Brad H Young states “Jesus identifies with the designation “Son of man.” He uses the name “Son of man” to communicate His purpose to the people. While the term “Son of man” is widely understood to refer to the humanity of Jesus, in Jewish apocalyptic thought it became the recognized title for the most exalted view of the coming Redeemer.” This is about what laws like the sabbath were pointing to, a rest from the curse, and also saying that if the sabbath was made for man, then certainly it was made for the son of man. However, this may also be a reference to the millennial kingdom where the son of man (Christ) shall reign (reread Hebrews 3 and 4)
Why doesn’t he just say “your oral law is wrong?” why is the response so deep and probing into the matters of the priests and of David? I think Yeshua is using a distraction tactic similar to what Paul used in Acts 23:6
6 When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection[a] of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.) (Acts 23:6-8 NRSV)
The Pharisees are less sure about these esoteric (and probably controversial) matters and it may have taken some of their enthusiasm for punishing Yeshua’s disciples and turned it into confusion. However, we aren’t told what their state of mind is but interestingly we aren’t told that they had any sort of response to this.
So to summarize: Jesus was doing more than just dealing with matters of weight, he was criticizing the Pharisee’s oral law for implicitly blaming people like David for breaking the Sabbath that was innocent of doing so. He was also pointing out that there were exceptions even for the law and was criticizing them for focusing too much on the letter of the law and not trying to see what the law was pointing to or what God actually desired in how they should interpret the law and what their heart condition should be.
I see references to communal living in the Bible, the church of Acts for example, and where John (who came to prepare the way for Yeshua and the kingdom of heaven) said that if you have two cloaks to give one to the person who has none:
“and he answering saith to them, `He having two coats — let him impart to him having none, and he having victuals — in like manner let him do.’” (Luke 3:11)
John also came to strengthen the family unit:
“And he hath turned back the heart of fathers to sons, And the heart of sons to their fathers, Before I come and have utterly smitten the land!” (Malachi 4:6)
“and he shall go before Him, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn hearts of fathers unto children, and disobedient ones to the wisdom of righteous ones, to make ready for the Lord, a people prepared.’” (Luke 1:17)
Part of John’s purpose was to strengthen the family unit while Jesus seems to have expanded the family unit:
46While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12)
I also see the kingdom or reign of God (or kingdom of heaven–used to avoid offending people who didn’t want to overuse God’s holy name) as something here on earth that we can be part of; basically, it is the movement that Yeshua started.
“and Jesus having seen, was much displeased, and he said to them, ‘Suffer the children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the reign of God;” (Mark 10:14 NKJV) (NKJV and KJV agree with the “of such” in YLT)
The reign of God does not “belong” to anyone (as it says in some other translations) but is a movement that we can be part of.
21 nor shall they say, Lo, here; or lo, there; for lo, the reign of God is within you.’22 And he said unto his disciples, `Days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and ye shall not behold [it]; (Luke 17:21-22)
A more accurate translation of “within you” would be the NRSV which says “among you.” There are references to sharing and equity in context of this kingdom:
1‘For the reign of the heavens is like to a man, a householder, who went forth with the morning to hire workmen for his vineyard,… 12that These, the last, wrought one hour, and thou didst make them equal to us, who were bearing the burden of the day — and the heat. … 16So the last shall be first, and the first last, for many are called, and few chosen.’ (Matthew 20:1-16)
When it says “seek first the kingdom of heaven” and you won’t want for what you will wear or what you will eat (basic needs) I think it is talking about first seeking a community that will take care of you in your time of need:
24‘None is able to serve two lords, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one, and despise the other; ye are not able to serve God and Mammon. . . . 31therefore ye may not be anxious, saying, What may we eat? or, What may we drink? or, What may we put round? 32for all these do the nations seek for, for your heavenly Father doth know that ye have need of all these; 33but seek ye first the reign of God and His righteousness, and all these shall be added to you. (Matt 6:24-33)
32 `Fear not, little flock, because your Father did delight to give you the reign; 33 sell your goods, and give alms, make to yourselves bags that become not old, a treasure unfailing in the heavens, where thief doth not come near, nor moth destroy; 34 for where your treasure is, there also your heart will be. (Luke 12:32-34)
I think these verses in Luke 18 as well talk of the sharing, where you are guaranteed to acquire many times more houses after leaving one “in this present time” by joining the kingdom of heaven movement because you are joining a community that shares their houses: (this is right after he talked about the rich man going through the eye of the needle and his disciples exclaimed “who then can be saved?” and Peter says that they had left all to follow him)
29and he said to them, ‘Verily I say to you, that there is not one who left house, or parents, or brothers, or wife, or children, for the sake of the reign of God, 30who may not receive back manifold more in this time, and in the coming age, life age-during.’ (Luke 18:29-30)
The parallel in Mark 10 makes this even more clear:
29And Jesus answering said, ‘Verily I say to you, there is no one who left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields, for my sake, and for the good news’, 30who may not receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and fields, with persecutions, and in the age that is coming, life age-during; 31and many first shall be last, and the last first.’ (Mark 10:29-31)
This is also why I think Yeshua says of the rich:
‘But wo to you — the rich, because ye have got your comfort. (Luke 6: 24) and again I say to you, it is easier for a camel through the eye of a needle to go, than for a rich man to enter into the reign of God. (Matt 19:24)
This isn’t because the rich are worse than regular people or that it will be more difficult for them to have eternal life–I don’t think it is mainly talking about eternal life. It is saying that it will be psychologically much more difficult for them to join a community where you share your wealth.
I think the kingdom of heaven is a precursor to the return of the lost tribes. It’s interesting that right after Matt 19:24 the disciples say “then who can be saved?” when the word saved can mean “made whole” (like “all israel shall be saved”) The Greek word used in the Septuagint can mean “returned” instead of “saved.” Compare Romans 9:27 with Isaiah 10:22 (in the YLT) “And Isaiah doth cry concerning Israel, `If the number of the sons of Israel may be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved; G4982” (Romans 9:27) “For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, A remnant doth return H7725 (LXX G4982) of it, A consumption determined, Overflowing [with] righteousness.” (Isaiah 10:22)
In addition, the quote “whoever calls on the name of the lord shall be saved” used in Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:21 is from Joel 2:32
32And it hath come to pass, Every one who calleth in the name of Jehovah is delivered, For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there is an escape, As Jehovah hath said, And among the remnants whom Jehovah is calling! (Joel 2:23)
The next verse in Joel is Joel 3:1 which has a parallel in Hosea 6:11
Also, O Judah, appointed is a harvest to thee, In My turning back [to] the captivity of My people (Hosea 6:11) For lo, in those days, and in that time, When I turn back [to] the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, (Joel 3:1)
Keil and Delitzsch connect this to the return of the lost tribes:
“The train of thought is the following: When the day of the Lord comes, there will be deliverance upon Zion only for those who call upon the name of the Lord; for then will all the heathen nations that have displayed hostility to Jehovah’s inheritance be judged in the valley of Jehoshaphat. By hinnēh, the fact to be announced is held up as something new and important. The notice as to the time points back to the “afterward” in Joel 2:28 : “in those days,” viz., the days of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. This time is still further described by the apposition, “at that time, when I shall turn the captivity of Judah,” as the time of the redemption of the people of God out of their prostrate condition, and out of every kind of distress. שׁוּב את שׁבוּת is not used here in the sense of “to bring back the prisoners,” but, as in Hosea 6:11, in the more comprehensive sense of restitutio in integrum, which does indeed include the gathering together of those who were dispersed, and the return of the captives, as one element, though it is not exhausted by this one element, but also embraces their elevation into a new and higher state of glory, transcending their earlier state of grace.”
The prophesies in Isaiah about John and what he was preparing the way for seem to tell of this as well in my opinion (especially in Isaiah 40 where it talks of John then talks of the regathering of Israel), also the same imagery of sheep is used when talking about the kingdom of heaven and the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Here in Acts the ones who are “afar off” are the lost tribes, and right after they talk of the promise given to Abraham and ask “what shall we do?” they are given instructions and told to be “saved” (same word) then they end up sharing everything in common, while signs and wonders are done.
36assuredly, therefore, let all the house of Israel know, that both Lord and Christ did God make him — this Jesus whom ye did crucify.’ 37And having heard, they were pricked to the heart; they say also to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, ‘What shall we do, men, brethren?’ 38and Peter said unto them, ‘Reform, and be baptized each of you on the name of Jesus Christ, to remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, 39for to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all those afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ 40Also with many more other words he was testifying and exhorting, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation;’ . . . 42and they were continuing stedfastly in the teaching of the apostles, and the fellowship, and the breaking of the bread, and the prayers. 43And fear came on every soul, many wonders also and signs were being done through the apostles, 44and all those believing were at the same place, and had all things common, 45and the possessions and the goods they were selling, and were parting them to all, according as any one had need. (Acts 2)
We also have the fact that the coming of kingdom may be connected with the Pentecost since it associates it with the coming of “power:”
“And he said to them, ‘Verily I say to you, That there are certain of those standing here, who may not taste of death till they see the reign of God having come in power.’” (Mark 9:1)
but ye shall receive power at the coming of the Holy Spirit upon you, and ye shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the end of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8)
The holy spirit did come in the same way that Jesus left (from heaven)
11 who also said, `Men, Galileans, why do ye stand gazing into the heaven? this Jesus who was received up from you into the heaven, shall so come in what manner ye saw him going on to the heaven.’ (Acts 1)
2 and there came suddenly out of the heaven a sound as of a bearing violent breath, and it filled all the house where they were sitting,3 and there appeared to them divided tongues, as it were of fire; it sat also upon each one of them, (Acts 2)
Observe these parallels:
25 For whosoever will save his life, shall loose it. And whosoever shall loose his life for my sake, shall find it. 26 What shall it profit a man, if he should win all the whole world: so he loose his own soul? Or else what shall a man give to redeem his soul again withall? 27 For the son of man shall come in the glory of his father, with his angels, and then shall he reward every man according to his deeds. 28 Verily I say unto you, some there be among them that here stand, which shall not taste of death, till they shall have seen the son of man come in his kingdom. (Acts 2)
38 for whoever may be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man also shall be ashamed of him, when he may come in the glory of his Father, with the holy messengers.’ 9 And he said to them, `Verily I say to you, That there are certain of those standing here, who may not taste of death till they see the reign of God having come in power.’ (Mark 8:38-9:1)
26 `For whoever may be ashamed of me, and of my words, of this one shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he may come in his glory, and the Father’s, and the holy messengers’; 27 and I say to you, truly, there are certain of those here standing, who shall not taste of death till they may see the reign of God.’ (Luke 9:26-27)
“Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, who also himself was waiting G4327 for the reign of God, came, boldly entered in unto Pilate, and asked the body of Jesus.” (Mark 15:43) (Parallel in Luke 23:51)
“And lo, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name [is] Simeon, and this man is righteous and devout, looking for the comforting G3874 of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him,” (Luke 2:25)
Acts 9:31 uses the same word G3874 to describe the work of the holy spirit.
“Then, indeed, the assemblies throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, had peace, being built up, and, going on in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort G3874 of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” (Acts 9:31)
Ruach in Hebrew means “breath,” “wind,” and “spirit.” When we add a spirit to a body it gives it movement and personality. When the wind blows it moves things but it is hard to get a hold of, it has motion but not much form. Spirit describes the actions or character of someone, just as God’s word describes his character. We can see here that Yeshua needs to leave to send the comforter (the holy spirit) according to John 16:7 and the waiting on the Messiah is associated with waiting on the comforter and the kingdom of heaven.
In the great commission Yeshua says “teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days — till the full end of the age.'” (Matthew 28:10) This seems to connect with the following: “in this know ye the Spirit of God; every spirit that doth confess Jesus Christ in the flesh having come, of God it is,” (1 John 4:2) “having come” is in the perfect voice which emphasizes the ongoing result of a completed action implying that Christ is still here after having come. Now, since we know that in Hebrew the spirit and the body make a living soul then it becomes apparent the holy spirit is the same spirit that Christ has. So when the Holy Spirit comes it is Yeshua as well.
“and the helmet of the salvation receive, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the saying of God,” (Ephesians 6:17)
We want to clear up some possible confusion and refer readers to an article that distinguishes the son of man “coming in his reign” from the “coming of the son of man” https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/668-what-is-the-meaning-of-matthew-10-23
In addition “waiting” G4327 (from Mark 15:43 above) is referenced in another messianic passage:
For with gladness you shall go forth, and in joy you shall be led. For the mountains and the hills shall leap out favorably receiving G4327 you in joy, and all the trees of the field shall clap with their tender branches.(Isaiah 55:12 Apostolic Polyglot Bible)
There are other uses of this word in the old testament and may refer to the holy spirit indirectly but are certainly referencing messiah: http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G3874
G3874 is derived from G3870 http://studybible.info/strongs/G3874
‘That you should nurse and be filled up from the breast of her comfort; G3874 that sucking out you should indulge at the introduction of her glory. For thus says the LORD, Behold, I turn aside to them as a river of peace, and as a rushing stream inundating the glory of the nations. Their children [2upon 3shoulders 1shall be carried], and [2upon 3knees 1shall be comforted G3870]. As if any mother shall comfort, G3870 so also I shall comfort G3870 you; and in Jerusalem you shall be comforted. G3870 As if any mother shall comfort, so also I shall comfort you; and in Jerusalem you shall be comforted. G3870′ (Isaiah 66:11-13 Apostolic Polyglot Bible)
Now lets look at this verse:
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12 NKJV)
Some scholars have argued for other translations to this verse. Brad H. Young for instance says:
“….To sum up the results of our linguistic and historical study of this difficult saying of Jesus, “From the days of john the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force,” a better translation of the text view within its original Jewish context make the message of Jesus concerting John the Baptist and the kingdom of heaven so much clearer. According to Lindsey, linguistically the a much better translation would be, “From the days of John the baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven breaks forth and everyone breaks forth with it” (Matt 11:12a and Luke 16:16b).
In keeping more closely with Matthew’s version, the verse is best translated, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven breaks forth and those breaking forth are pursuing [seeking] it. (Matt 11:12)”
“The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. (Luke 16:16 NKJV)
To quote from the book “Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus”
“This saying is certainly difficult to understand. It is not just ordinary Christians who have been stumped by it. There seems to be no satisfactory explanation of this verse even in scholarly literature. Apparently, a great deal of violence is connected with the Kingdom of Heaven. However, that does not agree very well with the rest of the teachings of Jesus. Many and varied have been the attempts on the part of ministers and scholars alike to explain this passage.
“The key to its understanding turns out to be an old rabbinic interpretation (midrash) of Micah 2:13 discovered by Professor David Flusser. Micah 2:12-13. reads
12 I will gather all of you, Jacob;
I will collect the remnant of israel.
I will put them all together like sheep in a fold like a flock inside its pen.
It will be noisy and crowded with people.
13 The breach-maker (poretz) goes through before them.
Then they break out.
Passing through the gate,
they leave by it.
Their king passes through before them,
their Lord at their head.
“These verses are full of rich imagery. It is the picture of a shepherd penning up his sheep for the night. He quickly builds a fold by throwing up a makeshift rock fence against the side of a hill. The next morning, to let the sheep out, he makes a hole or a breach in the fence by tossing some of the stones aside. He steps through his “gate” with the sheep following close behind. They have been penned up all night and can hardly wait to get out of their cramped quarters. …in the rabbinic interpretation discovered by Professor Flusser, they are two different persons: the “breach-maker” is interpreted as being Elijah, and “their king” as the Messiah, the Branch of the Son of David.
“Now we can begin to understand what Jesus is saying. He is not only hinting at Micah 2:13, but also a well-known rabbinc interpretation of it. “The Kingdom of Heaven,” he says, “is breaking forth [not “suffering violence”], and every person in it is breaking forth [literally, “those who are breaking out break out in it, or by means of it,” not “the violent take it by force”]” (Compare Luke 16:16, the parallel to Matthew 11:12.) Two tremendous things are now happening simultaneously: the Kingdom is bursting forth into the world (like water from a broken dam), and individuals within the Kingdom are finding liberty and freedom.
“In Matthew 11:12, as in the midrash, Elijah, or John the Baptist, is the breach-maker, the Poretz. He makes the breach in the rock fence and goes through first. He has opened the way. He is the Elijah of Malachi 3:1 and 4:5-6, who goes before the Lord to prepare His way. As in the midrash, Jesus, the King, follows John. Jesus is the Lord himself, who leads the sheep through the gate. It is a powerful image.
“Jesus is again teaching his disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven, his movement. It started when Jesus began calling disciples, during John’s active ministry, “the days of John the Baptist.” Since then, the Kingdom of Heaven has been “breaking out.” Notice that this is further proof that the Kingdom is not futuristic. The Kingdom is something that has been in existence since the time of John the Baptist.
“The Kingdom is breaking out, and members of the Kingdom are breaking out. In Micah and also in the midrash, it is the Lord and his sheep who are breaking out. Jesus alters that figure slightly so that it is the Kingdom and its sheep who are breaking out. Though Jesus does not refer directly to his own role as the shepherd leading the sheep out, no listener could possibly misunderstand Jesus’ stunning assertion–I am the Lord.
“Elijah had come and opened the way, and the Lord himself was leading a noisy multitude out to freedom. “
This may connect with the verse in Ephesians that also talks about an enclosure being broken out of. See also Tim Hegg’s article: http://messianicpublications.com/tim-hegg/the-dividing-wall-in-ephesians-214/
11Wherefore, remember, that ye [were] once the nations in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands, 12that ye were at that time apart from Christ, having been alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope, and without God, in the world; 13and now, in Christ Jesus, ye being once afar off became nigh in the blood of the Christ, 14for he is our peace, who did make both one, and the middle wall of the enclosure did break down, 15the enmity in his flesh, the law of the commands in ordinances having done away, that the two he might create in himself into one new man, making peace, (Ephesians 2)
There also seems to be a thematic connection between the Micah passage and what happened in the church in Acts 4. The same word for “gathered” is used as well. (although that word is relatively common for being gathered together)
12 In being gathered G4863 Jacob shall be brought together G4863 with all. In looking out I shall look out for the remnant of Israel. Together I will establish their return, as sheep in affliction; as a flock in the midst of their fold, they leap out because of men. (Micah 2:12)
And in their beseeching [7was shaken 1the 2place 3in 4which 5they were 6being gathered together G4863], and they were [2filled 1all 4spirit 3of holy], and they spoke the word of God with confidence. (Acts 4:31)
This possibly is related also with Micah 5:
Now gather thyself together, O daughter of troops, A siege he hath laid against us, With a rod they smite on the cheek the judge of Israel. 2 And thou, Beth-Lehem Ephratah, Little to be among the chiefs of Judah! From thee to Me he cometh forth — to be ruler in Israel, And his comings forth [are] of old, From the days of antiquity. 3 Therefore he doth give them out till the time She who bringeth forth hath brought forth, And the remnant of his brethren return to the sons of Israel. (Micah 5)
As Keil and Delitzsch note:
“. . . Bath-gegūd, daughter of the troop, might mean: thou nation accustomed or trained to form troops, thou warlike Zion. But this does not apply to what follows, in which a siege alone is mentioned. This turn is given to the expression, rather “for the purpose of suggesting the thought of a crowd of people pressing anxiously together, as distinguished from gedūd, an invading troop.” The verb hithgōdēd does not mean here to scratch one’s self or make incisions (Deuteronomy 14:1, etc.), but, as in Jeremiah 5:7, to press or crowd together; and the thought is this: Now crowd together with fear in a troop, for he (sc., the enemy) sets, or prepares, a siege against us. . .”
In addition the quote “whoever calls on the name of the lord shall be saved” used in Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:21 is from :
32 And it hath come to pass, Everyone who calleth in the name of Jehovah is delivered, For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there is an escape, As Jehovah hath said, And among the remnants whom Jehovah is calling! (Joel 2)
The next verse in Joel is Joel 3:1 which has a parallel in Hosea 6:11
Also, O Judah, appointed is a harvest to thee, In My turning back [to] the captivity of My people (Hosea 6:11)
For lo, in those days, and in that time, When I turn back [to] the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, (Joel 3:1)
Keil and Delitzsch connect this to the return of the lost tribes but with more meaning than that as well:
“The train of thought is the following: When the day of the Lord comes, there will be deliverance upon Zion only for those who call upon the name of the Lord; for then will all the heathen nations that have displayed hostility to Jehovah’s inheritance be judged in the valley of Jehoshaphat. By hinnēh, the fact to be announced is held up as something new and important. The notice as to the time points back to the “afterward” in Joel 2:28 : “in those days,” viz., the days of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. This time is still further described by the apposition, “at that time, when I shall turn the captivity of Judah,” as the time of the redemption of the people of God out of their prostrate condition, and out of every kind of distress. שׁוּב את שׁבוּת is not used here in the sense of “to bring back the prisoners,” but, as in Hosea 6:11, in the more comprehensive sense of restitutio in integrum, which does indeed include the gathering together of those who were dispersed, and the return of the captives, as one element, though it is not exhausted by this one element, but also embraces their elevation into a new and higher state of glory, transcending their earlier state of grace.”
The kingdom of heaven (the sharing and equity associated with such) and communal living seem to be a precursor to the coming of the physical kingdom of God, the return of the lost tribes, the millennial age, world peace, other such associated things. It is odd that this has been overlooked and that people are praying for God to come and establish a righteous kingdom–a dream of humanity for ages–when the keys to this kingdom are among us and only require a sacrifice of ego, our ephemeral assets and a willingness to investigate/screen out leaders or false prophets who do not represent God’s kingdom. Both of these are necessary, as giving up your possessions to a cult will do more harm than good.
I had a discussion with some people that thought Leviticus 19:29 could have just prohibited forcing your daughter to become a prostitute. One person argued that prostitution wasn’t wrong on its own while the other stated that prostitution was wrong not because it was premarital sex but because sex was supposed to be free! This view about premarital sex being permitted is becoming more common among Christians today so I thought I’d share what I’d found. All verses are in YLT unless otherwise noted.
`Thou dost not pollute thy daughter to cause her to go a-whoring, that the land go not a-whoring, and the land hath been full of wickedness. (Lev 19:29)
1 How can we take the meaning of “cause to” given the definition? http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cause “Cause” is different than “force” even though force certainly can be a cause. Can we cause our brother to stumble only if we do it forcefully? Romans 14:13-23
2 Yeshua says:
But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
This is not about “causing” by force but about “causing” by neglect hence why must Leviticus 19:29 be about “causing” by force?
3 Gesenius defines the word translated “pollute” as “to lay open, to give access to [“to profane from the idea of opening”]
The “laying open” is easier to understand if you look at the father as having responsibility for the daughter (other examples are his right to annul her oaths and refuse a marriage) There are many ways to “lay open” your daughter to prostitution, and I think forcing them to become one is certainly laying open access. I think their issue with it being an intensive Piel of “profaning” (hence they think it implies force) is resolved with Gesenius by the fact that laying open access to your daughter is an intense way of profaning your daughter (or is REALLY profane to put in another way)
I also should point out that that word for pollute/profane is only used in that exact form in Leviticus 19:29 and Lev 18:21 http://biblehub.com/text/leviticus/18-21.htm Lev 18:21 doesn’t really give us much insight but it would seem a bit odd if it allowed you to let God’s name be profaned and only prevented you from forcibly profaning it.
The expanded Brown Driver Briggs says: that it is to “sexually defile” a woman. So you can say that this is related to the prostitution and not to the act of causing:
1 defile, pollute:
a. sexually, Genesis 49:4 (poem) = 1 Chronicles 5:1 (the father’s bed); a woman = זנהLeviticus 19:29; …
However the “opening” in that lexicon is only in the Hiphil:
Hiph`il also begin (literally untie, loosen, open, ….
4 The word translated “harlotry” refers both to prostitution and premarital sex.
For instance: ‘They shall not take a woman who is profaned by harlotry, H2181 nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for he is holy to his God. ( Lev 21:7 KJV)
then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her unto death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing H2181 the harlot H2181 in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you. (Deu 22:21 KJV)
Would you say that this only applies if she did it for money? Of course there is the more monetary definition used as well:
“Thus you are different from those women in your harlotries, in that no one plays H2181 the harlot H2181 as you do, because you give money and no money is given you; thus you are different.” (Eze 16:34 KJV)
But my point is that it means both things (gaining monetarily from promiscuity and just plain promiscuity) and is narrowed by context. This is why I think the respected Stone’s edition to the Tanakh translates this word is many places as “promiscuity” because that is the broadest definition.
I would also point out as a matter of context that promiscuity in any form is looked at as negative and used as a metaphore for very negative things: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?page=2&strongs=H2181&t=NASB#lexResults
It also condemns promiscuity in the next part of the verse: “so that the land will not fall H2181 to harlotry H2181 and the land become full of lewdness.” It says to prevent the land from “falling” from a better state into a worse state of harlotry. It also doesn’t say anything about force it says “lewdness” which is related to sexual sin: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/zimmah_2154.htm
https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2455&t=NASB H2455 has the root H2490 ( H2455 is used in Leviticus 19:29 for “pollute.”) The word H2490 implies sexual defilement. The word is never used for sexual uncleanliness, even in it’s expanded search in the strong’s. The other occurrence of the exact form is without a doubt negative. The usage seems to be only for prohibited sexual relations (when it is sexual): https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?page=1&strongs=H2490&t=NASB#lexResults http://biblehub.com/hebrew/techallel_2490.htm
If it was about “uncleanness” it would say uncleanness, not defilement, which is a much stronger negative word.
One of them was arguing that in places like Deut 23:7 it only prohibited cult prostitutes and not regular prostitutes. However, I argued that qedesh and zonah (cult-prostitute and prostitute) were used as synonyms. I cited the following:
“Contrary to the claims of some 20th-century scholarship, the Hebrew Bible never refers directly to cult prostitutes. Many modern Bible translations are simply misleading in this respect. Much of the confusion results from a misunderstanding of a few Biblical texts that mention qedeshot, the plural of qedeshah, which is related to qodesh, “holy place.” Originally qedeshah referred to a “consecrated maiden,” but Biblical authors used it in the sense of “harlot.”” https://members.bib-arch.org/biblical-archaeology-review/40/1/10
“As Lipiński argues, however, there is nothing in the story of Judah and Tamar to suggest sacred prostitution was involved; rather, it seems that zonah and qedeshah were synonyms and that the latter has simply been misinterpreted by translators. Qedeshah likely originally referred to “consecrated maidens” who were employed in Canaanite and later Phoenician temples devoted to Ashtoreth worship. As such, the Biblical writers came to associate the fertility rites of Ashtoreth worship with sacred prostitution, and the word qedeshah, therefore, came to be used as a pejorative term for “prostitute.”” https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/sacred-prostitution-in-the-story-of-judah-and-tamar/
When they responded that the articles I quoted narrowly defined “cult prostitution” as Ashteroth worship. I responded: The main article does not use this as an argument from what I have seen. Here are examples of arguments it uses about Israel related to Astoreth:
The Hebrew meaning of qedeshah as harlot possibly derives from the perception that some “consecrated” maidens employed in Canaanite temples were also prostitutes in the context of fertility cults, especially of the goddess Ashtoreth. Indeed, the simple fact that such women served a heathen deity may have led to the understanding of the word qedeshah by outsiders in the sense of “harlot” and to its use in Biblical Hebrew as a synonym of zonah, “prostitute.” In short, in the Hebrew Bible, qedeshah (and its plural) simply refers to a prostitute, not to a cult prostitute in particular. . . . A widespread modern misunderstanding of the term asherah as a pagan goddess has led some to conclude that cult prostitution was involved in this passage, i.e., 2 Kings 23:7. It thus becomes important to unpack this reference to asherah and explain how it became confused with a Canaanite goddess, either Ashtoreth or Ashratu. The conclusion, however, as we shall see, is that asherah in the Bible refers to a shrine or sacred grove, not to a goddess. The confusion can be easily recognized because in several West Semitic languages (Assyro-Babylonian, Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew), the common word for shrine (aširtu/ešertu in Assyro-Babylonian, ’šrt in Phoenician, ’trt in Aramaic and ’šrh/’šyrh in Hebrew) is similar to Ashtoreth (’štrt) and to the name ’Atrt of the Ugaritic goddess Rabbatu Atratu Yamma, “The Lady Who Treads upon the Sea.” The similarity of Biblical asherah to these terms in other related languages led modern mythographers to invent a goddess Asherah in the Bible. Modern translators followed suit.
It is clear, however, that asherah in the Bible cannot refer to a goddess. In the Bible, asherah has a plural, ’šrym,3 sometimes ’šrwt.4 This would hardly be the case if asherah were a goddess. Moreover, in the Bible asherah sometimes occurs with the article ha- (“the shrine”)5 and with the pronominal suffix (“his shrine”), as in the well-known Hebrew inscriptions from Khirbet el-Qom, near Jerusalem (yhwh w’šrth, “Yahweh and his shrine”), and from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud in the Sinai (yhwh šmrn w’šrth, “Yahweh of Samaria and his shrine”; yhwh tmn w’šrth, “Yahweh of the South and his shrine”).a This proves that asherah cannot be a proper name. In addition, asherah could be “built” (1 Kings 14:23), “made” (2 Kings 21:7), “set up” (2 Kings 17:10) or “installed” (2 Chronicles 33:19), again showing that asherah cannot be a goddess. Asherah was no deity but simply a grove or a shrine that eventually became a small construction.6
Provincial shrines, like those referred to at Khirbet el-Qom and Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, were prohibited after the centralization of religious observance in Jerusalem by King Josiah in the seventh century B.C.E. (2 Kings 23), but the prophet Jeremiah in the seventh–sixth centuries B.C.E. still refers to the asherim (in the plural), the sacred groves or shrines in the shade of spreading trees. In other texts, such as Jeremiah 2:20 and 3:6–10, the metaphors of prostitution and adultery are used as poetic descriptions of Judah’s infidelity to the Lord.
These passages do not allude to cult prostitution performed by young Judahite women, although the existence of fertility cults in Canaan was certainly known. They were even exported by Phoenicians to the western Mediterranean and appear in Phoenician and Carthaginian colonies.
There’s two other mentions of Ashtoreth in that paper that relate to the Canaanite practice (exported by the Phoenicians to Phonecian and Carthaginian colonies) and one related to an Etruscan version of the Goddess: “At Pyrgi, north of Rome in what was Etruria, archaeologists uncovered a temple (Temple B) from about 500 B.C.E. A bilingual inscription found in the excavation records the dedication of a “holy place” to the Etruscan goddess Uni (Latin Juno), called Ashtoreth in her Phoenician version.” None of these are making the argument that there is no evidence of cult prostitution in Israel because there is not evidence of Astoreth worship. They clearly recognize that other types of cult prostitution took place since Lipinski states “maidens employed in Canaanite temples were also prostitutes in the context of fertility cults, especially of the goddess Ashtoreth.” In fact Lipinski also states:
A further explanation is needed concerning the qadesh. In the well-known cuneiform texts from Ugarit (on the Mediterranean coast of modern Syria), which date to about 1200 B.C.E., qdšm (= Hebrew qedeshim) are often mentioned with the khnm (= kohanim, “priests”) and seem to be cultic servants assisting the priests. There is no indication that they were male prostitutes. They were simply priestly assistants. The qdšym of older Biblical psalms may have exercised a similar function, but the word was later understood in the sense of “holy men” and vocalized accordingly. In fact, the priestly assistants got a bad reputation in the seventh century B.C.E., as shown by 2 Kings 23:7, possibly indicating that prostitution did occur in the Temple, even a kind of cult prostitution. In the time of Josiah, the Biblical text tells us, the king “pulled down the houses of the qedeshim in the House of the Lord, where women were renting2 cubicles as a shrine (asherah)” (2 Kings 23:7, my translation). There is no evidence, however, that the qedeshim were male cult prostitutes. As at Ugarit, the qedeshim were priestly assistants. In 2 Kings 23:7, Josiah is said to have torn down the cubicles (literally, houses) of the qedeshim (male) in the Temple precinct. The qedeshim are thus said to have been renting houses in the Temple precinct to some women, possibly for prostitution. Perhaps the men were also acting as pimps.
Note that the women who rented their houses (or cubicles) are not called qedeshot. Whatever the women were doing in the cubicles (the JPS translation suggests they were weaving coverings for the shrine), it had something to do with a shrine, as indicated by the term asherah, which designates a shrine, a sacred grove or a tree under which an illicit cultic ritual is performed.
. . . Cult prostitution existed in some parts of the Near East as well as in the Phoenician colonies of the western Mediterranean. It reflected the ritual practices of the Canaanites surrounding ancient Israel and Judah. Its faint reflection recorded in the Hebrew Bible serves as a metaphoric allusion to Israel’s infidelity to God or as a synonym of harlotry. Modern translations of the Hebrew Bible often unfortunately give another impression. There is a single passage (2 Kings 23:7, discussed above) that may contain an obscure reference to cult prostitution; it mentions a shrine rented to women in the precinct of the Temple and destroyed by King Josiah. But that is all.
There is a mistaken notion that “asherah” meant a shrine to Ashtoreth in the Bible which Lipinski argues against. However, this does not describe his full argument for why he believes qedesha and zonah to by synonyms. Their argument is as follows:
The earliest Biblical attestation of qedeshah is found in the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38. Judah’s son Er, married to Tamar, died. Judah then gave his second son Onan to Tamar. Onan also died. Judah was reluctant to give his third son Shelah to Tamar, as was required when a brother died without children. Later, Judah himself was widowed. He saw a woman on the road, assumed her to be a harlot (zonah), and slept with her. He gave her his seal as assurance that he would pay her with a sheep from his flock (Genesis 38:15–18). The zonah turned out to be none other than his daughter-in-law Tamar, who had dressed herself in a veil and sat by the road because Judah had refused to give her his third son as a husband. When Judah’s friend went to redeem the pledge, he inquired of the people of the town where he could find the assumed prostitute. They replied that there was no qedeshah in the area (Genesis 38:20–21). Obviously the two words (qedeshah and zonah) are used as synonyms. And there is no indication whatever that cult prostitution is involved. There is no cultic context here.
Lipinski says something similar with Deuteronomy
No Israelite shall be a prostitute (a prohibition expressed in the third person): “There shall be no prostitute (qedeshah) among the daughters of Israel; there shall be no qadesh among the sons of Israel” [my translation]. The word qedeshah here is a synonym of zonah, which is used in the prohibition in verse 19 [i.e. verse 18 in English]. This is the same situation we have seen in the story of Judah and Tamar.
I can also observe that the Hebrew uses these words as synonyms: zonah (h2181) and qedesh(ah) (h6945/h6948)
There shall be no whore H6948 of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite h6945 of the sons of Israel. (Deu 23:17 KJV)
Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, h2181 or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God. (Deu 23:18 KJV)
This is how the septuagint treats it as well translating both as porneia (G4203/G4204)
17 There shall not be a harlot G4204 from the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be one whoring G4203 from the sons of Israel. 18 You shall not bring the hire of a harlot, G4204 nor the price of a dog, G2965 into the house of the lord your God for any vow. For [4an abomination 5to the lord 6your God 3are 1even 2both].
Gen 38:15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; H2181 because she had covered her face. Gen 38:21 Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, H6948 that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot H6948 in this place. Gen 38:22 And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot H6948 in this place. Gen 38:24 And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; H2181 and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. H2183 And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. (KJV)
15 And [2seeing 3her 1Judah], assumed her to be a harlot. G4204 For she covered up her face, and [3not 1he recognized 2her]. 16 And he turned aside to her in the way. And he said to her, Allow me to enter to you. For he did not know that [2his daughter-in-law 1she is]. And she said, What will you give to me, if you should enter to me? 17 And he said, I will send to you a kid of the goats from out of my flocks. And she said, You should give a deposit until you send it. 18 And he said, What deposit shall I give to you? And she said, Your ring, and the pendant, and the rod in your hand. And he gave them to her, and he entered to her. And [2in 3the womb 1she conceived] from him. 19 And rising up she went forth. And she removed her lightweight garment from herself, and put on the garments of her widowhood. 20 [3sent 1And 2Judah] the kid of the goats by the hand of his shepherd the Adullamite, to deliver by him to the woman the deposit. And he did not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, Where is the harlot, G4204 the one being in Enaim upon the way? And they said, There was no [2here 1harlot G4204]. 22 And he returned to Judah, and said, I did not find her, and the men, the ones from the place, say, There was no [2here 1harlot G4204]. 23 [3said 1And 2Judah], Let her have them, but lest at any time we should be ridiculed, I indeed sent this kid, but you have not found her. 24 And it came to pass after three months, it was announced to Judah, saying, [3fornicated G1608 1Tamar 2your daughter-in-law]. And behold, [2in 3the womb 1she has one] out of harlotry. G4202 [3said 1And 2Judah], Lead her out, and let her be incinerated!
ἐκπορνεύω+ V 14-9-23-0-1=47 Gn 38,24; Ex 34,15.16(bis); Lv 17,7 to commit fornication, to play the harlot [abs.] Gn 38,24; to commit fornication with, to play the harlot with [ἐπί τινα] Ez 16,26; id. [ἔν τινι] Ez 16,17; to resort to sb for fornication [εἴς τινα] Nm 25,1; to prostitute, to cause to commit forni-cation [τινα] Lv 19,29 to go whoring after [ὀπίσω τινός] Ez 20,30; to seduce into immoral practices [τινα] 2 Chr 21,11 neol. Cf. HARL 1986a, 266; HELBING 1928, 78; →LSJ RSuppl; TWNT
A different version of the Septuagint even feels the need to add the idolatrous context to Deuteronomy 23 to make the case clear, showing that the original words did not necessarily mean just cult prostitution but included prostitution in general:
17 There shall not be a harlot of the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be a fornicator of the sons of Israel; there shall not be an idolatress of the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be an initiated person of the sons of Israel. 18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a harlot, nor the price of a dog into the house of the Lord thy God, for any vow; because even both are an abomination to the Lord thy God.
Septuagint Greek definitions from here: http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf
One other thing I think is interesting in the paper is that this adds some context to Lev 19:29:
In the ancient Near East, women could in fact be dedicated by their fathers or their masters to a deity. Women could also devote themselves to the service of a god or a goddess in order to secure their living. This was done mainly by young widows without grown children, by repudiated wives, by female slaves sent away (like Hagar, Abraham’s concubine in Genesis 21), by lonely women, etc.
So the reason for becoming a prostitute could be from lack of support as well as compelling by the father. (both of which could be termed a cause by the father since the father was supposed to provide for them) Lipinski goes on to describe another nuance in their argument:
These “consecrated” persons performed tasks in the sanctuary, provided domestic help in temple annexes, perhaps provided musical entertainment and possibly sexual services, remitting their fees to the temple. However, qedeshot in the Bible never appear as performing religious sexual rituals, which is the key attribute of a cult prostitute. Women on duty at the entrance to Israelite sanctuaries are mentioned in Exodus 38:8 and 1 Samuel 2:22, but their tasks are not described, and they are not called qedeshot.
At the end of their paper Lipinski has this as well:
Genesis 38:15, 20–21 When Judah saw her, he took her for a harlot (zonah); for she had covered her face. … Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to redeem the pledge from the woman; but he could not find her. He inquired of the people of that town, “Where is the cult prostitute (qedeshah), the one at Enaim, by the road?” But they said, “There has been no prostitute (qedeshah) here.”
Deuteronomy 23:18–19 [17–18 English] No Israelite woman shall be a cult prostitute (qedeshah), nor shall any Israelite man be a cult prostitute (qadesh). You shall not bring the fee of a whore (zonah) or the pay of a dog [i.e., male prostitute] into the House of the Lord your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both are abhorrent to the Lord your God.
It looks to me like their main argument is from the biblical text and from Hebrew grammar concerning “Asherah.” Their argument that cult prostitution (as it was practiced in Cananan) was at least extremely rare or even unheard of in Israel is just an additional fact that strengthens their argument. I do think it’s possible that we may just be missing the archaeological evidence that the Israelites were indulging in cult prostitution but the fact is that evidence is hardly in the bible (if at all) and the fact that Archaeologists are better than me at figuring out when we have enough archaeological evidence to conclude that an absence of archaeological evidence is indeed evidence of absence.
They (the people who believe in premarital sex) also stated that in the story of Judah and Tamar the context is cultic prostitution. I responded:
There is no cultic context here, she is sitting in the open not in a temple (as is the practice of cult prostitutes) and he recognizes her as a prostitute simply because she has covered her face. An interesting parallel is Rebecca wearing a veil for Isaac. Surely we are not to conclude that Rebecca is acting as a cult prostitute for Isaac:
The veil is also used as a means of enticement/attractiveness/sexuality when Rebecca is being led by Abraham’s servant to meet for the first time her new fiance, Isaac. (Gen 24) Upon being told that the man in the distance is in fact Isaac, she puts her veil on. (v. 65) Mind you, she had no veil on for the entire journey with Abraham’s servant – APPARENTLY, there was no “modesty requirement” compelling her to wear a veil when with the servant. Rather, when she meets her fiance – someone who she wants to and should look sexually attractive for! (see v. 67) – she then decides to put on a veil. (Much of this answer is developed at length by Olivia Wizniter, at
In addition, it seems like Lipinski is saying that there wasn’t archaeological evidence in the area that Judah and Tamar were in for that. In addition we have plenty of testimony from the Hebrew and the Septuagint that Lipinski’s understanding of zonah being synonymous with qedesha is how the earliest translators would have understood those passages. You again have to insert assumptions into the passages that are not there (and even contradict with Rebecca’s behavior) to make the Bible allow for premarital sex. Just like you have to assume that when Judah promises Tamar to Shelah he is betrothing her and hence her later being declared “zonah” might refer to “adultery.” However, it states in Gen 38:14
“And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.”
If Shelah was betrothed it would have been a big deal to break off the engagement so he could marry someone else. (engagements were treated like marriages) Remember Judah is planning on Shelah NOT marrying Tamar. Tamar obviously doesn’t think that she is going to marry Shelah, this is the whole reason she seduces Judah.
Another reason to connect H3611 and H2181 (hence prostition and “cultic” prostitution) is the following:
Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, h2181 or the price of a dog, H3611 into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are an abomination unto the LORD thy God. (Deu 23:18 KJV)
Gesenius notes that qedeshim (“cult” prostitutes) and the word for “dog” H3611 are used synonymously at the end of his lexical entry: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3611&t=KJV However, in the verse it is “a whore (zonah) or the price of a dog”
On the biblical and translational evidence alone I think it’s pretty overwhelming that qedashah and zonah are synonymous.
Essentially, Paul was chosen by God, so we already know that he was qualified to be a leader–but assuming some elders were not going to be miraculously chosen–Paul gives requirements for the selection of Elders that would ensure that they were decent leaders. I couldn’t reconcile the language in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 with the position that elders weren’t required to be married and have children especially in 1 Timothy where it states “4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);” Maybe there were some cultural considerations taken into account with these requirements. We agreed on this conclusion but for various different reasons.
We decided to revisit the issue this bible study and invited another group with different perspectives, one of whom joined us and in addition we had another with a similar perspective contrary to the conclusion we came to previously. We discussed the requirements for Elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The main points of disagreement were:
1 Were these
requirements conditional upon the person being married and having
children? Essentially could the actual meaning be: “if they are
married then they must be the husband of one wife” and “if he has
children he must rule
his own house well, having his
children in submission with all reverence”?
2 What Paul meant by
“husband of one wife”
3 Did Paul mean this
in a universal sense or in a local sense i.e. for the churches under
his control at that time
1: The first part of
the discussion was whether Paul could mean something in a conditional
sense without the use of “if”. We weren’t able to find other
places where Paul does this like he would have to in 1 Timothy 3 and
Titus 1 but some maintained that this was conditional since it would
be absurd to think that Paul would have excluded many capable people
from leadership possibly just because their wife died or they were
sterile and didn’t adopt children etc . . .
The idea I brought up was that it wouldn’t have been absurd for Paul to require elders to be married and have children since it was required of the Sanhedrin (whom Paul previously worked closely with in Acts 7:54-58) citing Maimonides: “3 We should not appoint to a Sanhedrin a man of very old age or one who does not possess male physical attributes, for they possess the trait of cruelty, nor a man who is childless, so that the judges should be merciful.” http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1172725/jewish/Sanhedri
Also Paul was a
Pharisee and Pharisees although not required to be married were
greatly encouraged because of the commandment to be fruitful and
multiply (getting this from David Bivin “New Light on the Difficult
Words of Jesus: Insights from His Jewish Context”)
Jews teach, a priest should be neither unmarried nor childless, lest
he be unmerciful [Bengel]. So in the synagogue, “no one shall
offer up prayer in public, unless he be married” [in Colbo, ch.
65; Vitringa, Synagogue and Temple].”
However, it was also
pointed out that the requirements in the oral law were something that
Jesus often condemned even though we do have some decrees written in
the early church like in Acts 15 (and sent out to the churches Acts
16) that are comparable to the oral law in that they weren’t
directly from scripture (even though they were based on scripture)
Also if we take it like this 1 Timothy 3:12 would also mean deacons
had to be married.
The idea was also
brought up that if we are going to take these elder requirements of
marriage and children as conditional without the presence of “if”
we might as well start taking other parts of the verses as having
additional considerations, maybe “husband of one wife” meant that
he was only the husband of one in the past even if he is now a
widower, or that the he had to have children at some point. This
might be a more conservative way to read it and yet still resolve the
exclusion of these people without explanation that comes with these
requirement of “husband of one wife” was discussed. Since the
marriage covenant is annulled upon death (Romans 7) you have the
possible issue of someone not being able to continue to be an elder
after their wife dies (which seems a bit unfair) unless they remarry
and then are they the husband of “one wife?” (I think yes because
they are no longer married to their previous wife) Some commentators
take this as an idiom for “faithful to his wife”
(see Barnes Notes on The Bible) I think this in context would
prohibit people from serial marrying and divorcing as was common
practice (maybe because polygyny had been outlawed already) I think
the following verses imply serial marriage was a problem:
Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11, Luke 16:18
We had differing opinions on whether this was referring to a
universal requirement for elders. Some evidence from the word usage
may be used to connect this to elders in the old testament. Although,
if you look at the usage it seems to also be a generic term for
people who were in charge of things.
Numbers 31:14 in LXX
seems to connect elders in Ex 18 to Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1 since it
uses the same word as in the NT and says they were commanders “ of
thousands and commanders of hundreds”
Paul says this is a
“word” (logos) and he starts out these requirements by saying
“true is the word” or “This is a faithful saying” in 1
Timothy 3:1 and it seems to be used for both universal and localized
If Paul’s words are to be taken as universal for all πρεσβύτερος or ἐπίσκοπος we have to reconcile the fact that these words are also used in a generic sense for people in authority or in the case of πρεσβύτερος someone who is old. If it is universal for the type of eldership in Ex 18 then we still have to deal with the fact that he adds to those requirements. If we take Paul’s word as being for the type of eldership in Ex 18 and those in higher positions (like apostles) we have to reconcile the fact that Paul wasn’t married and Deborah was a woman.
There are several ways to do this. If these statements about elders were an ideal (and not as the indicative present active mood would suggest) since this must be interpreted in context of the
Bible as a whole; Deborah would have been an exception in extenuating
circumstances. Paul could have been an exception as well.
If these statements
about elders are requirements then maybe they are local to the
churches he speaks of or to the cultural context.
The issue of Junia
was brought up. Junia might be a female apostle mentioned in Romans
16:7 This was the view taken by the Greek fathers including
Chrysostom. However there is some debate about this:
Wallace and Burer
freely admit they are in minority on this position: “The vast bulk
of translations and commentators today regard this line as indicating
that Andronicus and Junia were apostles, though not in the most
technical sense of that word.”
references to scholars arguing in the affirmative:
In addition to Junia
one wonders if Joab’s and the people’s behavior at Abel Beth
Maacah in 2 Samuel 20:16-26 indicated that the wise woman had a
position of authority. In a similar way the wise woman of Tekoa is
listened to by the king himself in 2 Samuel 14:4-16, was “wise
woman” an official title?
Some evidence for
Deborah being an exception was brought up. In some translations of
the Seputagint she states that she arose after the leadership of the
men failed: “The mighty men in Israel failed, they failed until
Debbora arose, until she arose a mother in Israel”
However this is not
the only translation of the LXX. Others simply say “the ones
dwelling in Israel” http://studybible.info/interlinear/judges%205:7
and although the word for “one’s dwelling” (κατοικούντες)
is in the masculine plural, to take this as just “males dwelling”
does not work. Similar to how in english the masculine can also be
generic e.g. “mankind” and “you guys,” this is how this form
in Greek can be used. For instance when it says “But
the ones dwelling in Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath became to them for
tribute” it includes the female inhabitants:
Likewise: “All who
dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been
written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the
Lamb who has been slain.” includes women:
For codex B I’ve come to the same conclusion: http://biblehub.com/greek/dunatoi_1415.htm however for A I can’t figure out what φραζων means. However,it seems to just designate a spokesperson without gender since it is an “indeclinable proper noun” (doesn’t have gender) and doesn’t have a masculine context: http://studybible.info/compare/Judges%205:7 In keeping with the idea of the masculine generic it seems it is translated “spokesman” or “spokesperson”, “A spokesman was lacking in Israel; he was lacking . . .” for more information see:
differences between the Codices may be because the poetic and unusual
Hebrew the song of Deborah uses. For instance in Codex B ἀναστῇ
is in the subjunctive mood, which might be translated as “in order
for her to arise” but it isn’t in the same mood in Codex A. This
is just my best ideas as to what these things mean.
In addition the
context is that Barak would not obey what God told him to do, so it
is possible Deborah is just insulting him because of this.
Isaiah 3:12 was also
brought up and it was either interpreted as implying women shouldn’t
rule to being figurative or simply idiomatic in that cultural context
since it also says “[Israel’s] oppressors are children” hence
it may be saying Israel would be ruled over by weak or effeminate
Deborah seems to have similar authority to Moses, if you compare Judges 4:5 and Exodus 18:13 the people came before her for judgement. Also both are called prophets Judges 4:4, Numbers 12:6-8. We didn’t deal with the broader context of female leadership some of which is talked about in articles such as these with very different conclusions: https://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=155 http://christianthinktank.com/femalex.html
In the OPC statement
they are using the Hebrew word in Ruth 1:1 (also appearing in Judges
4:4) to say Deborah was only a civil authority, they state: “It
was not a position of religious authority; the priests and Levites
were the preachers and worship leaders during that time.”
can look at the word usage and it’s definition here. God is called
“judge of the earth” in Gen 18:25 so I think this goes
beyond a “civil”
note it is used to refer to the elders Moses set up in Exodus 18 via
Deu 1:16 where the word is used. You aren’t going to find it used for
elders in the new testament simply because it’s a Hebrew word.
In additions to
these connections between old testament and new testament authority
the 12 Apostles may have been appointed to be like the 12 princes of
Israel that you see in the old testament, compare: Matthew 19:28 and
Luke 22:30, to quote:
“God had promised
David that his “house” (i.e., dynasty) would be everlasting, yet
it appeared to have vanished along with the twelve tribes over which
he ruled. The prophets reassured the people that this situation would
not last forever. David’s family tree might appear to be cut down,
but God would raise up “… a shoot from the stump of Jesse”
(Isaiah 11:1). Micah prophesied that he was to be born in Bethlehem
and “when she who is to give birth has borne … the rest of his
brethren shall return to the children of Israel.” There would be a
Davidic kingdom that would gather in the twelve tribes of Israel
scattered throughout the world.
Jesus is the Messiah
king, the true son of David, who after his birth in Bethlehem of the
Blessed Virgin, “rebuilds the fallen tent of David” (Acts 15:16)
and like a Good Shepherd gathers those who are lost back to himself.
Just as King David ruled with twelve princes, Jesus chose twelve
Apostles. But Christ’s kingdom is more than David’s earthly
kingdom. It’s not based on heredity or tied to one geographic
location; it’s based on grace. The Apostles are to teach, sanctify
and govern all the people of God, regardless of their race. Like the
twelve princes, the Apostles held offices which after their death
were occupied by successors (bishops) who continued their ministry.
As such, the fact
that there were twelve Apostles is very significant and certainly not
arbitrary. They are the ones who, in the age to come, will sit on
twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28,
Luke 22:30). Twelve, in the Bible, means more than a dozen.”
Just to note. I didn’t come up with this on my own but I adapted it from the work of someone else. I’ve asked that person previously if he wants me to credit him and he hasn’t responded.
The theory is that originally the mark of the beast meant “man-made torah” in Hebrew or Aramaic while when it was translated into Greek some translators changed it to mean “man-made Christ” (the two are actually connected)
Looking at the context of the verses  you get the idea of man-made Torah.
So why did some translators of the Hebrew/Aramaic (or copiers of the Greek) change the number in Greek? Since 616 is in the earliest documents maybe the later translators were worried that as Christianity spread the audience wouldn’t understand the meaning of Hebrew gematria and since the Greek letters also had meanings they changed the number to get a similar meaning in Greek (with Christ being thought of as the living Torah) 
In the Greek 666 is represented as chi (600) xi (60) stigma (6) and the meanings are “Christ detached-from piercing” This is a reference to the gnostic version of Christ  It would take me too much space to describe all the animosity between early Christianity and Gnosticism but basically that there are a lot places in the new testament that criticize the Gnostic rejection of the law or “antinomianism”.
Just to include the mainstream theory in the mix as well the other idea is that 666 means “Neron Ceasar” and that 616 means “Nero Ceasar” 
It is important in this connection to note the Hebraisms of the whole of this part of the book, which prove that the writer or—if he himself originally wrote Hebrew or Aramaic—the translator could neither write nor speak Greek correctly. As to the relation of this to the apocalypse which follows see below. http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12712-revelation-book-of
Compare the following Paul quotes Deuteronomy 30 and uses “Christ” in place of “Torah” (one idea you can get is that Christ is the living torah in that he fulfilled the law: Matthew 5:17)
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
Mark head hand affixed = torah
Deut 6:8″You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
“You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
“And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt.
“So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”
Context dictates it means something related to the torah and is man-made “it is the number of a man”
Rev Chapter 13
16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.
14:1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads
It also contrasts this with those who keep the Torah:
9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
(Rev 14:9-12 NRSV)
“The name, stigma (στίγμα), is originally a common Greek noun meaning “a mark, dot, puncture”, or generally “a sign”, from the verb στίζω (“to puncture”); the related but distinct word stigme (στιγμή) is the classical and post-classical word for “geometric point; punctuation mark”. Stigma was co-opted as a name specifically for the στ sign, evidently because of the acrophonic value of its initial st- as well as the analogy with the name of sigma.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xi_(letter)
“Those Gnostic texts that discuss Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection display a variety of views that, nevertheless, reveal some common themes. James is consoled by Jesus in the First Apocalypse of James: “Never have I suffered in any way, nor have I been distressed. And this people has done me no harm.”19 In the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, Jesus says, “I did not die in reality, but in appearance.” Those “in error and blindness….saw me; they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. I was rejoicing in the height over all….And I was laughing at their ignorance.”20” http://www.equip.org/articles/gnosticism-and-the-gnostic-jesus/
The first people accused of antinomianism were found, apparently, in Gnosticism; various aberrant and licentious acts were ascribed to these by their orthodox enemies; we have few independent records of their actual teachings. In the Book of Revelation 2:6-15, the New Testament speaks of Nicolaitans, who are traditionally identified with a Gnostic sect, in terms that suggest the charge of antinomianism might be appropriate. https://www.theopedia.com/antinomianism
The seven heads of the beast are seven emperors. Five of them the Seer says are fallen. They are Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. The year of Nero’s death is A.D. 68. The Seer goes on to say “One is”, namely Vespasian, A.D. 70-79. He is the sixth emperor. The seventh, we are told by the Seer, “is not yet come. But when he comes his reign will be short”. Titus is meant, who reigned but two years (79-81). The eighth emperor is Domitian (81-96). Of him the Seer has something very peculiar to say. He is identified with the beast. He is described as the one that “was and is not and shall come up out of the bottomless pit” (17:8). In verse 11 it is added: “And the beast which was and is not: the same also is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into destruction”.
All this sounds like oracular language. But the clue to its solution is furnished by a popular belief largely spread at the time. The death of Nero had been witnessed by few. Chiefly in the East a notion had taken hold of the mind of the people that Nero was still alive. Gentiles, Jews, and Christians were under the illusion that he was hiding himself, and as was commonly thought, he had gone over to the Parthians, the most troublesome foes of the empire. From there they expected him to return at the head of a mighty army to avenge himself on his enemies. The existence of this fanciful belief is a well-attested historic fact. Tacitus speaks of it: “Achaia atque Asia falso exterrit velut Nero adventaret, vario super ejus exitu rumore eoque pluribus vivere eum fingentibus credentibusque” (Hist., II, 8). So also Dio Chrysostomus: kai nyn (about A.D. 100) eti pantes epithymousi zen oi de pleistoi kai oiontai (Orat., 21, 10; cf. Suetonius, “Vit. Caes.”; s.v. NERO and the SIBYLINE ORACLES). Thus the contemporaries of the Seer believed Nero to be alive and expected his return. The Seer either shared their belief or utilized it for his own purpose.
Nero had made a name for himself by his cruelty and licentiousness. The Christians in particular had reason to dread him. Under him the first persecution took place. The second occurred under Domitian. But unlike the previous one, it was not confined to Italy, but spread throughout the provinces. Many Christians were put to death, many were banished (Eusebius, Church History III.17-19). In this way the Seer was led to regard Domitian as a second Nero, “Nero redivivus”. Hence he described him as “the one that was, that is not, and that is to return”. Hence also he counts him as the eighth and at the same time makes him one of the preceding seven, viz. the fifth, Nero. The identification of the two emperors suggested itself all the more readily since even pagan authors called Domitian a second Nero (calvus Nero, Juvenal. IV, 38). The popular belief concerning Nero’s death and return seems to be referred to also in the passage (13:3): “And I saw one of its heads as it were slain to death: and its death’s wound was healed”. . .” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01594b.htm
” . . . In ancient Greek and Hebrew, letters also represented numerals (as in Latin), their values assigned according to the order of the alphabet, alpha and aelph, for example, having the numerical value of 1. By adding these values, words could be represented as the sum of their numbers. This literation of numbers and numeration of letters was known as isopsephia by the Greeks and gematria by the Jews (which, in cabalistic practice, has been used to interpret Hebrew scripture). Suetonius relates an example of isopsephia when he records that graffiti appeared in both Greek and Latin lampooning Nero after he had his mother killed: “A calculation new. Nero his mother slew” (Life of Nero, XXXIX.2). In Greek, both “Nero” and “killed his own mother” have the same numerical value (1005).
If the Greek spelling of Nero Caesar (Neron Kaisar) is transliterated into Hebrew (nrwn qsr), the numerical equivalent is 666—although it should be remembered that this number was not represented as a figure but as letters of the alphabet or written in full. In other words, the “number of the beast” was not expressed as “666” (indeed, discrete Arabic numerals would not be invented for another five hundred years) but by the phrase hexakosioi hexekonta hex or the numerical values of the Greek letters themselves, chi (600), xi (60), and stigma (6).
But what is curious is not so much that 666 can be decoded to signify Nero but that the name is encoded in this particular number, especially since it could have been represented as readily in other ways. It only is when the words are transliterated from Greek into Hebrew and then calculated that the numeration adds up to 666 (nrwn qsr, 50 + 200 + 6 + 50 + 100 + 60 + 200). Even so, this is an alternate spelling, a letter being transliterated in “Neron” (nrwn instead of nrw) but not in “Caesar” (qsr instead of qysr). Although these forms do appear in the Talmud and an Aramaic scroll from Qumran, they no doubt complicated the solution to the puzzle.
For Watt, the significance of 666 is that its expression in Latin is the sequential Roman numerals DCLXVI, which parallels but is the antithesis of the “Alpha and Omega” that John uses to characterize both Christ (22:13) and God (1:8, 21:6). As the Deity represents the beginning and end, so the Antichrist is a reversal of the first and last, D (500) preceding I (1). To phrase this another way, 666 (or rather DCLXVI) signifies the Antichrist because that number signifies Nero, and Nero—who was a matricide, proclaimed his divinity on coins as the “Savior and Benefactor of the World,” and was the first emperor to persecute Christians—signifies the Antichrist.
If the Latin (rather than the Greek) spelling “Nero Caesar” is transliterated into Hebrew (nrw qsr), the final “n” in Neron being omitted (and its corresponding value of 50), the name computes as 616, which is the number indicated in the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament (the fragment illustrated below). If “Neron Caesar” is correct, it may be that the Latin was transcribed incorrectly, perhaps because the copyist realized that this transliteration did not equate to 666 and so omitted the letter, which changed the sum to 616. Still, each digit of 666 is one less than seven, the perfect number, and such mathematical play may have tended to establish 666, rather than 616. . .” http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:AlKMuuobaggJ:penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/gladiators/nero.html+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
Brad Scott claimed that the Greek letter “Xi” looked like “in the name of Allah” or “bismallah” in Arabic. The first problem with this is that the Arabic is significantly longer. In modern script it is something like:
However, this is not how it was originally written. When you get into the relevant scripts (the earliest Qurans) the comparison is even harder to make. In the 8th century script you can see “Allah” الله the second word from the right below the orange line of Arabic text in the picture:
The Greek and Arabic comparison is further made different by the fact that the ancient Greek Xi looks very little like the script Brad Scott used. Here is a comparison someone made in their post (compare the three examples to the last inserted picture)
This is partially because Greek was originally written in all capital letters (majuscule) and minuscule (lowercase) script only emerged in the 9th century but Brad Scott was using minuscule (lowercase) script for his comparison:
Lastly, what Brad Scott was actually doing was comparing later Greek lowercase script not to “in the name of Allah” but to “Allah,” (which looked like it was not in the original Arabic script of the Quran) الله
I’ve compared below “Allah” and lowercase “xi” in modern Greek. I don’t have the script that he got “Allah” from.
In addition to what I already stated there is another problem here: “Allah” generically refers to “God” in Arabic and can be found as the name of God in Arabic Christian bibles. You can see it here as the fourth word in Genesis (from the right): http://www.copticchurch.net/cgibin/bible/index.php?version=SVD&r=Genesis+1 This would label Muslims and Arabic speaking Christians together.
Brad Scott says he got this theory from Walid Shoebat but contrary to Brad Scott, Shoebat alleges that letters in Arabic were inserted in the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus and this is what scholars (mistakenly) read as “666”
In this video Walid Shoebat asserts that the Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Vaticanus and “other codexes” don’t have the number 666 in Greek but instead just the three Greek letters (which he asserts are actually Arabic and an Islamic symbol). . . However, the Codex Sinaiticus has the numbers written out in Greek (not in the form of the three letters: chi, xi, and stigma) while Codex Vaticanus did not originally include The Book of Revelation which was added to it in the 15th century.
Here’s confirmation of this from Sinaicticus if you look at verse 13:18 (I don’t have a font for the ancient script so it is displayed in modern)
Shoebat says he read the Codex Vaticanus and saw Arabic words (and an Islamic symbol) instead of Greek letters. However, the Greek script he saw is minuscule 15th century which does not represent how the original Greek would have looked in majuscule. Irenaeus wrote in the second century that the number was 666 (he alleged that 616 which is in the earliest documents we have was a scribal error) when they were still writing in capitals in Greek and this is before the manuscripts that Shoebat mentions: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103530.htm In fact I don’t believe there is an extant manuscript that predates Irenaeus’s assessment of the Greek characters being a number.
The 15th century addition (which shouldn’t be relevant) of the Codex Vaticanus contains this for the number of the beast:
of which Shoebat is trying to say the middle letter is this in Arabic:
13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
1 On Paul’s “former conduct” in “Judaism.” It’s clear to me that he couldn’t have said that he is no longer a jew because Christianity didn’t exist yet. Also, for the following reasons:
Acts 28:17 New King James Version (NKJV) 17 And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans,
Acts 23:6 New King James Version (NKJV) 6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”
Acts 22:3 New King James Version (NKJV) 3 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.
Acts 25:8 New King James Version (NKJV) 8 while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”
Consider also Paul’s statement that he is a member of what is called a sect of Judaism before the Romans:
13 Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (Acts 24 NKJV)
. . . Ἰουδαϊσμῷ The rendering of this word in our versions, Jewish religion, is unfortunate: it implies a definite separation between the two religions which did not then exist, for Christians were still habitual worshippers in the synagogue; and it puts this view into the mouth of Paul, who steadfastly persisted in identifying the faith of Christ with the national religion. The word Ἰουδαϊζειν denotes the adoption of Jewish habits, language, or policy (cf. Galatians 2:14). So here Ἰουδαϊσμός denotes Jewish partisanship . . .
(Expositor’s Greek Testament)
. . . the Jews’ religion] One word in the original, which does not occur elsewhere in the N. T. except in Galatians 1:14. From the use of the corresponding verb, we may regard it as referring not to the religion revealed to the Jews in the writings of Moses and the prophets, but that which was its actual development in St Paul’s day, when the word of God had been overlaid and ‘made of none effect’ by the traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees, and the puerile conceits of the Rabbinic expositors. . . .(Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) https://biblehub.com/commentaries/galatians/1-13.htm
“former” modifies “conduct” not “Judaism” (G2454)
So Paul had a former behavior in “Judaism” and now he has a different behavior in “Judaism” after learning the gospel of Christ.
13–14 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
The word “Judaism” ( jIoudai>smov~, ioudaismos) is used only here (twice, once in v. 13 and once in v. 14) in the whole Apostolic Scriptures. It is found only five times in the Lxx (2Mac 2.21; 8.1; 14.38(2x); 4Mac 4.26) and then only in the Maccabees. Y. Amir, in a study entitled “The Term Ioudaismos: A Study in Jewish-Hellenistic Self-Identification,”50 comes to the conclusion that the word means a “a sort of fenced-off area in which Jewish lives are led.”
the word this is derived from G2450 (verb form) which is only used in Ester 8:17 and Galatians 2:14 https://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G2450 In Gal 2:14 it is used to denote specific Jewish practices. In Ester 8:17 it is used for “jewish-like” in “were circumcised and were jewish-like” indicating that it might mean something other than circumcision. A GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE SEPTUAGINT defines it as:
Dunn thinks that the term may indicate something other than “circumcision” (=becoming a proselyte), since its only other use (the Lxx of Esther 8:17) has both the term “circumcised” as well as “made themselves Jews” (the verb ‘to circumcise” is lacking in the Hebrew). But the Lxx phrase (“and many of the Gentiles were circumcised, and became Jews, for fear of the Jews”) may well be simply a commentary on “becoming a Jew.” From the Lxx translators’ standpoint, this surely involved the ritual of the proselyte. It hardly seems possible that Paul would have so sharply denounced Peter if he was simply trying to persuade the Gentiles to take on Jewish customs. This hardly goes
contrary to the gospel. Rather, it seems to me far more likely that Peter, for what ever reasons, was attempting to sway the Gentile believers over to the viewpoint of the “party of the circumcision,” that full covenant membership was only available to Jews.
From the viewpoint of the influencers, the whole matter turned on the observance of established halachah. But for Paul, the issue was that of the gospel: “But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel ….” The word translated “straightforward” by the NASB (“not acting in line,” NIV; “their conduct was not in step,” ESV) is interesting. It is ojrqopodevw, orthopodeõ, being made of two words; ortho, meaning “straight” (note our English “orthodontist”) and pous, “foot.” The obvious idea is “to walk in a straight path,” “to be on the right road.” Our modern idiom, “walk a straight line” fits the meaning well. It was not that Peter and those he was following were denying the gospel, nor attempting to undermine it directly. Rather, their approach to this whole matter was a detour from the gospel, and one that Paul feared would so sidetrack the Gentile believers as to keep them from reaching the goal
In the context of Galatians 2, G2450 may be related to a halacha or Jewish practice: 1 a false gospel or good news (how you are saved) and 2 justifying yourself by works of the law. . . This seems to fall outside of torah vs. non-torah observant, rather it is a certain take the Torah or on Judaism. (mainly the false idea that you needed to become a Jew to be saved) In this case it was false but that doesn’t mean the word G2450 implies falsity. See below:
13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew (G2450), live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Gal 2)
Note: “we are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners” is tongue-and-cheek (explained later)
Peter’s hypocrisy consisted of his having engaged in table fellowship
with the Gentiles when unobserved by the Jerusalem folk, but separating from the Gentiles when the group from James arrived, and even compelling them to submit to proselytism in order to be accepted by the party of the circumcision. The Greek has ijoudai÷zw, ioudaizõ, “to live like a Jew,” used only here in the Apostolic Scriptures. The Lxx utilizes this same verb in Esther 8:17 (the only time found in the Lxx) to translate the hapax legoumena . . . , mityahadim, “made themselves Jews.” Though the term is used only these two times in biblical literature, the meaning is clear: Peter had been swayed by the “party of the circumcision” to compel (ajnagkavzw, anagkazõ45) the Gentiles to submit to the ritual of a proselyte. Interestingly, Paul used this same word (Acts 26:11) to describe his attempts to “force” the believers in Yeshua to blaspheme in order to have a sure judgment against them https://www.torahresource.com/radio-files/study-in-galatians/galatians_commentary.pdf
2 How was Peter compelling Gentiles to live as Jews? By making them undergo the proselyte ritual in order to consider them saved and hence worthy of table fellowship. Similar to how Paul was put in a situation where he was “compelled” to call on Cesar where same word is used: Acts 28:19 https://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G315
3 The Revelation that Paul had was about Yeshua’s salvation for the nations. It seems like this revelation started on the road to Damascus and continued afterward:
15 But when God thought well to separate me from out of the belly of my mother, and called me by his favor, 16 to reveal his son in me, that I should announce him good news among the nations; immediately I did not confer with flesh and blood; (Gal 1 ABP)
4 A suggestion on how the New Covenant is different:
The New Covenant covenant is different in that it is God writing the law on the heart rather than man. This I think is significant. Let’s say I make an agreement with you that you will build a house with certain specifications and that I will pay you a certain amount of money. Then I propose a different agreement where the only difference is that I will build the house instead of you. That’s pretty significant, even if I don’t change the money or any of the other specifications. I think maybe the other difference is that God is able to write the law on the heart much better than man (hence why no one will need to teach another which is also different): this is possibly why it also differs in that God will write the law “on your inward parts” or “inside of you” in the New Covenant (maybe a deeper writing than just the mind)
Compare inward parts to heart (I thought this was kind of interesting)
There seems to be some significance to the writing surface and instrument used in metaphors involving writing: As a side note ￼ Jer 17:13 is used to explain what Jesus wrote in the dust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZSG7p5DQ-M
￼ Jer 17:1 The sin of Judah is written H3789 with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; (KJV)
Jer 17:13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written H3789 in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters. (KJV)
Deu 30:14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. (KJV)
It says in proverbs to either write God’s law on your heart or to write the instructions of whoever is writing proverbs on your heart:
￼ Pro 3:3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write H3789 them upon the table of thine heart: (KJV)
￼ Pro 7:3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write H3789 them upon the table of thine heart. (KJV)
Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write H3789 it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (KJV)
It seems like God would have better instruments than us to write the law. Keil and Deilitzche in their commentary on Deut 10:6 make the observation that the writing surface will be entirely different as well:
The Lord will then circumcise their heart, and the heart of their children (see Deuteronomy 10:16), so that they will love Him with all their heart. When Israel should turn with true humility to the Lord, He would be found of them, – would lead them to true repentance, and sanctify them through the power of His grace, – would take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, a new heart and a new spirit, – so that they should truly know Him and keep His commandments (vid., Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33. and Deuteronomy 32:39.). “Because of thy life,” i.e., that thou mayest live, sc., attain to true life. The fulfilment of this promise does not take place all at once. It commenced with small beginnings at the deliverance from the Babylonian exile, and in a still higher degree at the appearance of Christ in the case of all the Israelites who received Him as their Saviour. Since then it has been carried on through all ages in the conversion of individual children of Abraham to Christ; and it will be realized in the future in a still more glorious manner in the nation at large (Romans 11:25.). The words of Moses do not relate to any particular age, but comprehend all times. For Israel has never been hardened and rejected in all its members, although the mass of the nation lives under the curse even to the present day.
5 Something interesting “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles” might be Paul being sarcastic. Hence, he is also speaking against the idea of “works of the law” in this case going through the ritual of proselyte and becoming a “Jew by nature” is not going to automatically save you are make you not a sinner.
Paul quotes (perhaps a bit “tongue-in-cheek”) the primary premise of the party of the circumcision: “we are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners.” This is not Paul’s perspective, but that of the influencers. Dunn agrees:
This language rings oddly on the lips of Paul, until we realize what hewas doing. Paul was putting himself in the shoes of a typical Jew who looked out at the rest of the world as outside the realm of God’s covenant righteousness and sinful (cf. Eph 2:12). More to the point, he was using the language of typical Jewish factionalism, which was ready to condemn those Jews who disagreed with the sect’s interpretation of what the law required as ‘sinners’— outside their sectarian understanding of the covenant, which meant, of course, from the sectarian viewpoint, outside the covenant. In fact, Paul was probably echoing the language used by the ‘individuals from James’ when they spoke against the Jewish Christians’ table-fellowship with the Gentile believers: such table-fellowship with ‘Gentile sinners’ was unacceptable.46
Thus, when Paul writes, “we are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners,” he is deliberately using the language of those who were distancing themselves from the Gentiles, encouraging them to become proselytes in order to leave the status of “sinner” and enter the circle of “Jews by birth.”
Conclusion: I think G2454 and G2450 refers to practice or halacha of Judaism. That is, Paul had abandoned his former practice in Judaism that viewed converting to Judaism (or jewish-like) as a prerequisite for salvation. To quote Tim Hegg:
There is no doubt that Paul made a clear distinction between his former life, lived under the acceptance of the prevailing Pharisaic belief that Jewish status rendered one a member of the covenant, and his current life lived in the reality of the risen Messiah. But such a distinction said nothing about the place of the divinely inspired Torah, and its central importance in the life of the believer. What it did contrast, however, was the life of faith in Messiah Yeshua and the
message of the influencers which insisted upon Jewish status as a prerequisite for covenant membership.
All verses are in the NRSV unless otherwise noted. This is a document written in response to some things about the law we were discussing at Bible study.
To understand the two covenants we must start with Paul’s introductory comments here:
Tell me, you who desire to be subject G5259 to the law, will you not listen to the law? (Galatians 4:21)
or more literally:
Tell me, ye who are willing to be under G5259 law, the law do ye not hear? (Gal 4:21 YLT)
What does “under G5259 law G3551” mean? Paul earlier compares “works of the law”–which is an Essene teaching that one could be justified by keeping certain laws–to the work of Christ. Paul argues against “works of the law” and contrasts it with faith in many different places.
There are several directions you can go with the meaning of “under law.” Gesenius connects H8478 to G5259 “under” in Greek and lists places when it can be used to designate being under to “authority” for instance “under her husband” means “under the authority of her husband”  In addition Luke 7:8 and Matthew 8:9 clearly make this connection of being “under” someone to being “under the authority of” someone. Gesenius gives Nu. 5:19 and Eze. 23:5 as examples which both have the context of punishment for the wrong-doing while “under” the husband.  However, what does it mean to be “under authority?” If we go with this meaning I would suggest it means close to “under power”  the usage in the new testament seems to fit better with “power” than plain “authority.”  After all, what good is authority if you don’t have the power to carry it out? However, the meaning of “under” seems to depend on what is metaphorically on top.  The closest I could find to being under “law” in the Greek Septuagint was in 2 Maccabees 7:36 which speaks of dying “under (God’s) covenant” i.e. ὑπὸ διαθήκην (θεοῦ). The result or consequence of dying while “under God’s covenant” is “everlasting life.”  “Under covenant” is the closest parallel to “under law” I have found, therefore, keep in mind this meaning of “under the results of the law” when we read “under law” in the following. Let’s start in Romans to see if “under results” fits.
First some context:
6 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
This is a quote from Habakkuk 2:4 and the context is about the Chaldeans being eventually judged for plundering Israel and other nations even though they are about to destroy the temple and attack Israel. This was brought about by Israel’s sin:
4 Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith. 5 Moreover, wealth is treacherous; the arrogant do not endure. They open their throats wide as Sheol; like Death they never have enough. They gather all nations for themselves, and collect all peoples as their own.
6 Shall not everyone taunt such people and, with mocking riddles, say about them,
“Alas for you who heap up what is not your own!” How long will you load yourselves with goods taken in pledge? 7 Will not your own creditors suddenly rise, and those who make you tremble wake up? Then you will be booty for them. 8 Because you have plundered many nations, all that survive of the peoples shall plunder you— because of human bloodshed, and violence to the earth, to cities and all who live in them. (Habakkuk 2:4-8)
Tim Hegg notes:
The context of the Habakkuk text is the conclusion of the prophet’s cry of woe, in which he questions God over the use of the Chaldeans to punish the chosen people. For the prophet, this brought into question God’s justice and even His holiness (1:13f). In raising the question of how God could use such a wicked nation to punish His people, he awaits God’s answer (2:1). The Lord’s answer comes in the form of a revelation or vision that Habakkuk was to record and make known. It’s application would be for the appointed time, and those who believed in God would await its fulfillment, even though it might appear for the interim that it was not correct. The proud in heart would doubtless refuse to accept the revelation given to the prophet, but the one who had faith (and would thus accept the revelation) would live, i.e., preserve his life on the basis of acting in accordance with the revelation which God would give the prophet. Thus, “the just shall live by faith.” https://www.torahresource.com/radio-files/through-romans/RomansVol1.pdf
We find important clues as to the meaning of “faith” in this quote of Habakkuk by understanding the Hebrew word ה ָמוּנֱא’ ,emunah. The first time we find the word in the Tanach, it refers to the hands of Moses held up by Aaron and Hur (Ex 17:12)—“his hands were ה ָמוּנֱא until the going down of the sun,” i.e., they were raised continually and incessantly. In every other passage where the term ה ָמוּנֱא is found, it refers to the conduct of persons or of God, sometimes categorizing such actions as attributes (“faithful,” “genuine,” “reliable,” etc.). Jepsen notes:
Thus ‘emunah is not so much an abstract quality . . . but a way of acting which grows out of inner stability, “conscientiousness.” Whereas ‘emeth [a related word meaning “truth”] is always used in relationship to something (or someone) on which (or whom) one can rely, ‘emunah seems more to emphasize one’s own inner attitude and the conduct it produces. The frequently suggested translation, “conscientiousness,” would seem to come closest to the meaning intended in many passages.26
On the basis of the meaning of ה ָמוּנֱא’ ,emunah, it seems warranted that some translations (NEB, JPS, margin of RSV and NRSV) have opted to translate Hab 2:4 along the lines of “the righteous will live on the basis of his faithfulness.” Indeed, in BDB’s Lexicon (p. 53) Hab 2:4b is translated as “a righteous man by his faithfulness liveth.” https://www.torahresource.com/radio-files/through-romans/RomansVol1.pdf
Keil and Delitzsch state:
אמוּנה does not denote “an honourable character, or fidelity to conviction” (Hitzig), but (from ‘âman, to be firm, to last) firmness (Exodus 17:12); then, as an attribute of God, trustworthiness, unchangeable fidelity in the fulfilment of His promises (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 33:4; Psalm 89:34); and, as a personal attribute of man, fidelity in word and deed (Jeremiah 7:28; Jeremiah 9:2; Psalm 37:3); and, in his relation to God, firm attachment to God, an undisturbed confidence in the divine promises of grace, firma fiducia and fides, so that in ‘ĕmūnâh the primary meanings of ne’ĕmân and he’ĕmı̄n are combined. This is also apparent from the fact that Abraham is called ne’ĕmân in Nehemiah 9:8, with reference to the fact that it is affirmed of him in Genesis 15:6 that האמין בּיהוה, “he trusted, or believed, the Lord;” and still more indisputably from the passage before us, since it is impossible to mistake the reference in צדּיק בּאמוּנתו יחיה to Genesis 15:6, “he believed (he’ĕmı̄n) in Jehovah, and He reckoned it to him litsedâqâh.” It is also indisputably evident from the context that our passage treats of the relation between man and God, since the words themselves speak of a waiting (chikkâh) for the fulfilment of a promising oracle, which is to be preceded by a period of severe suffering. “What is more natural than that life or deliverance from destruction should be promised to that faith which adheres faithfully to God, holds fast by the word of promise, and confidently waits for its fulfilment in the midst of tribulation? It is not the sincerity, trustworthiness, or integrity of the righteous man, regarded as being virtues in themselves, which are in danger of being shaken and giving way in such times of tribulation, but, as we may see in the case of the prophet himself, his faith. To this, therefore, there is appended the great promise expressed in the one word יחיה” (Delitzsch). And in addition to this, ‘ĕmūnâh is opposed to the pride of the Chaldaean, to his exaltation of himself above God; and for that very reason it cannot denote integrity in itself, but simply some quality which has for its leading feature humble submission to God, that is to say, faith, or firm reliance upon God. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/habakkuk/3.htm
This type of “faith” is different than checking off a rule list. In the verses before the vision of justice was said by God to not come for a while but that it would surely come so a long-suffering trust is implied in God’s promises:
2 Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. 3 For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:2-3)
Paul is using this to say that the basis for justifying sinners (sinners such as Israel) was always this type of faith. Habakkuk later makes a connection to eschatology according to Keil and Delitzsch. This is possibly why Paul says he is “not ashamed” of the gospel since he knows Christ will have victory in the end:
In Habakkuk 3:12 there follows a description of the judgment upon the nations for the rescue of the people of God. Habakkuk 3:12. “In fury Thou walkest through the earth, in wrath Thou stampest down nations. Habakkuk 3:13. Thou goest out to the rescue of Thy people, to the rescue of Thine anointed one; Thou dashest in pieces the head from the house of the wicked one, laying bare the foundation even to the neck. Selah. Habakkuk 3:14. Thou piercest with his spears the head of his hordes, which storm hither to beat me to powder, whose rejoicing is, as it were, to swallow the poor in secret. Habakkuk 3:15. Thou treadest upon the sea: Thy horses, upon the heap of great waters.” The Lord, at whose coming in the terrible glory of the majesty of the Judge of the world all nature trembles and appears to fall into its primary chaotic state, marches over the earth, and stamps or tramples down the nations with His feet (compare the kindred figure of the treader of the winepress in Isaiah 63:1-6). Not all nations, however, but only those that are hostile to Him; for He has come forth to save His people and His anointed one. The perfects in Habakkuk 3:13-15 are prophetic, describing the future in spirit as having already occurred. יצא, referring to the going out of God to fight for His people, as in Judges 5:4; 2 Samuel 5:24; Isaiah 42:13, etc. ישׁע, rescue, salvation, is construed the second time with an accusative like an inf. constr. (see Ewald, 239, a). The anointed of God is not the chosen, consecrated nation (Schnur., Ros., Hitzig, Ewald, etc.); for the nation of Israel is never called the anointed one (hammâshı̄ăch) by virtue of its calling to be “a kingdom of priests” (mamlekheth kohănı̄m, Exodus 19:6), neither in Psalm 28:8 nor in Psalm 84:10; Psalm 89:39. Even in Psalm 105:15 it is not the Israelites who are called by God “my anointed” (meshı̄chai), but the patriarchs, as princes consecrated by God (Genesis 23:6). And so here also משׁיחך is the divinely-appointed king of Israel; not, however, this or that historical king – say Josiah, Jehoiakim, or even Jehoiachin – but the Davidic king absolutely, including the Messiah, in whom the sovereignty of David is raised to an eternal duration, “just as by the Chaldaean king here and in Psalm 2:1-12 we must understand the Chaldaean kings generally” (Delitzsch), wince the prophecy spreads from the judgment upon the Chaldaeans to the universal judgment upon the nations, and the Chaldaean is merely introduced as the possessor of the imperial power. The Messiah as the Son of David is distinguished from Jehovah, and as such is the object of divine help, just as in Zechariah 9:9, where He is called נושׁע in this respect, and in the royal Messianic psalms. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/habakkuk/3.htm
If we realize that this type of faith (or the belief Abraham: “he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” or the obedience of Abraham: compare Hebrews 11:8) is different than having everything checked off with regards to your observance of the law–then we can see how Yeshua can tell the rich young ruler to “keep the commandments” to inherit eternal life:
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.’” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:18-22)
16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:16-21)
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:17-21)
Paul as well can say:
6 So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.” (Romans 4:6-8)
This is because “keeping the commands” is not the same as doing specific works.
In Luke 18:21 “kept” is https://studybible.info/strongs/G5442
in Matthew 19:17 “kept” is https://studybible.info/strongs/G5083
in Mark 10:19 “know” is https://studybible.info/strongs/G1492
in Mark 10:20 “kept” is https://studybible.info/strongs/G5442
If you look at these words and their context this has to do with guarding and respecting/remembering. Check the following occurrences. Really, I think this is not about the laws but about honoring the lawgiver himself. You can safely ignore the word for “know” because I think Yeshua was just pointing out that the man already knew what to guard not that this was a prerequisite for guarding but I’ve posted it below for completeness sake)
To summarize: “guarding the commandments leads to eternal life because by guarding the commandments you show you honor the commander but doing any number of specific things in the law will not gain you salvation.” Paul also uses different covenants to make analogies. He compares Moab to Sinai in Romans 10 and the Abrahamic Covenant to Sinai in Galatians 3. Some Jewish tradition considers Sinai to be lacking in some ways. In addition Israel broke Sinai and so were already subject to the curses of Sinai. See the following relevant post for more information on this:
As we move on we will see that Paul uses the journey of Israel (from Sinai to the new covenant or the fulfillment of the promises of Abraham) as an analogy for our individual journey: being shown to be imperfect by the law and turning to God’s grace and in thankfulness keeping the law.
Paul continues Romans by talking about idolatry:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32)
Continuing on we have something interesting:
1 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2 You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” 3 Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7 to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:1-11)
Paul uses Israel’s idolatry to point out that both they and the pagan nations are without excuse as Tim Hegg notes this is addressed to the Jewish part of the congregation:
The opening word of the second chapter, “Therefore,” has caused some difficulty in understanding how what Paul is now saying connects to what he has already said in chapter one. But to answer this question we must first ask ourselves to whom Paul addresses his remarks in the present text: to Gentiles who were a “cut above” in their moral outlook, or to Jews, or to a mixed group? While each of these options have been held by scholars, I would think that several factors weight the case toward Paul addressing Jews beginning in 2:1. Here are the reasons: 1) the language of v. 4 fits the history of Israel but does not fit God’s activity toward the nations. While it is true that He does show mercy to the Gentiles (such as at Ninevah), the strong language of mercy and patience in view of Israel’s often rebellion seems to underly Paul’s words here. 2) Since it seems clear that Paul has two groups in mind in 1:18-3:20, i.e., Jews and Gentiles, it seems most likely that he refers to Jews when he characterizes a group as morally superior, as he does in 2:1ff. 3) It is clear that he addresses the Jew at v. 17, but it does not seem that he begins to address someone different at this point than he has from the beginning of the chapter. Therefore, one would conclude that he addresses Jews from the beginning of the chapter. 4) It was characteristic, at least by the report of our extant literature, of some (perhaps a majority of) Pharisees that they had an attitude of superiority toward the Gentiles, so that the attitudes described in the opening verses of our chapter best describe the Jew rather than the Gentile. In light of these things, I would think it best to interpret Paul’s words in 2:1ff as addressed primarily to the Jewish congregant in the synagogue at Rome https://www.torahresource.com/radio-files/through-romans/RomansVol1.pdf
Notice Paul is not speaking to people as individuals but people as part of Israel and God’s people in the greater historical context. This is thinking that seems to be prevalent in the Bible and hence Israel’s particular tribal culture. Another example of this type of corporate non-individualist thinking appears in the prayer that Daniel makes for Israel in Daniel 9. Paul then uses this to establish that everyone is guilty. However, he notes that different people will be judged in different ways:
12 All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.
17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God 18 and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law, 19 and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, 21 you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You that boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
25 Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. 29 Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God. (Romans 2:12-29)
Verse 2:27 is more literally translated as:
27 and the uncircumcision, by nature, fulfilling the law, shall judge thee who, through letter and circumcision, [art] a transgressor of law. 28 For he is not a Jew who is [so] outwardly, neither [is] circumcision that which is outward in flesh; 29 but a Jew [is] he who is [so] inwardly, and circumcision [is] of the heart, in spirit, not in letter, of which the praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2:27-29 YLT)
Notice how “letter”, “flesh”, and “outward” are contrasted with “spirit”, “spiritual” and “inward.” The school of Hillel was lenient and followed the “spirit” of the law while Shammai followed the “letter” of the law and was strict. Yeshua seems to side with Hillel most of the time. Also, the school of Hillel accused Shammai of following after flesh and blood and not after spirit with regards to the kingdom of God. (more on this later) Circumcision here may refer to the group distinction rather than the physical sign. (you could be circumcised but still not be considered Jewish, this will be discussed in another article) If it does refer to physical circumcision it may be saying that he who fails to keep the requirements of the law loses the right to bear the physical sign of circumcision. (Essentially: physical circumcision has become hypocrisy.) Paul says that circumcision benefits in some way but he is not saying this is a matter of salvation. He seems to refer to it as one of identity and representation.
Another interpretation of the spirit/inward versus letter/flesh/outward is that it is analogously contrasting Sinai with the new covenant. Sinai brought curses which lead to death, and Sinai only had writing not the spirit to write the law on the heart. The holy spirit is given as an assurance of the promises of Abraham:
13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
The new covenant and Sinai are used as analogies for how to relate to the law and salvation. If you are looking at salvation through the lens of Sinai you are trying to observe “works of law” to attain it. These are outward signs such as circumcision that will let God recognize you as being different from pagans. However, God looks at the heart. If you are looking at salvation through the new covenant lens then you recognize that the law does not save you but grace. Just as Israel is saved by God’s grace through the spirit writing the law on their hearts. The law is observed as thankfulness for the salvation you have by grace through faith. This is also a difference between and inward and outward focus: the heart or the letter. Also Jeremiah says that God will write the law in the new covenant on their inward parts:
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.(Jeremiah 31:33)
1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much, in every way. For in the first place the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. (Romans 3:1-2)
Here we see that the Jews have an advantage because they were raised in the oracles of God, not from the specific act of circumcision. If this refers to physical circumcision it seems to refer to them who were circumcised on the eighth day, not those who would convert and become circumcised as adults. If this refers to physical circumcision there are some questions this raises about whether circumcision was actually required by the law for adults: “So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?” might imply a negative answer but Paul later uses the same Greek word to talk about fulfilling the law through being justified by Christ:
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:2-5)
This leaves the meaning uncertain. Even if Paul did say something positive or negative about adult physical circumcision we would need to evaluate the context in which he said it. If Paul said something negative we must ask: could he just be referring to its irrelevance to salvation? If positive we must ask: in what sense? as a requirement that fulfills part of the law? or as a sign of being raised in the oracles of God? This is beyond the scope to get into detail I just want you to know that this question exists. I do not believe adult circumcision is required in any way but only if one wants to eat of the Passover sacrifice, see: Exodus 12:48. This is not something someone should do right away since they will be counted as native born when they do it. Rather, it is something someone should do after they have learned and gotten used to observing the Torah, so for gentiles circumcision is indeed an outward observance that does not have to do with salvation since the only circumcision command required in their case is to circumcise their children–if their father did not circumcise them then it is his fault not their’s. Let’s continue:
3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Although everyone is a liar, let God be proved true, as it is written,
“So that you may be justified in your words, and prevail in your judging.”
5 But if our injustice serves to confirm the justice of God, what should we say? That God is unjust to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that we say), “Let us do evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved! (Romans 3:3-8)
Here Paul is saying that God is just, whether or not people, even Jews, believe in God. Commenting in more detail would be irrelevant to the topic. In the following, we see that Paul does indeed view his previous arguments as putting everyone “under (the results of) sin.”
9 What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10 as it is written:
“There is no one who is righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.” 13 “Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of vipers is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery are in their paths, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:9-20)
Paul is not pulling out of the air: “no human being will be justified in his sight.” Paul gets this from Psalm 143:
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness. 2 Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. (Psalm 143:1-2)
Paul starts his quotations with Psalm 14 (also see the almost identical Psalm 53). Psalm 14 begins:
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.(Psalm 14:1)
Maybe Paul is making the point that goodness only comes from God and that God can only justify man. The fool who uses the lack of God to justify his actions is an example of this. One might say: “man – God = sin”
2 The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
3 They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one. (Psalms 14:2-3)
Is it broadening the context or still talking about fools that reject God? I think the latter. Paul goes on to say that since man without God cannot do good we cannot be justified by God except by grace. Adam (as a representative of humanity) had sinned causing all to suffer for it, Israel (as priesthood to the world) had broken Sinai hence imparting the curses of not following the law to all God’s followers. What could solve this problem? Since we were unable to write the law on our own hearts God would do it for us. Compare the following:
32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write H3738 it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:32-34)
You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. (Deuteronomy 11:18)
It is true that the law was in their hearts in some sense in Deuteronomy 30:
No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart H3824 for you to observe.(Deut 30:14)
However this seems to be about a future occurrence if you look at the context:
1 When all these things have happened to you, the blessings and the curses that I have set before you, if you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2 and return to the Lord your God, and you and your children obey him with all your heart and with all your soul, just as I am commanding you today, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, gathering you again from all the peoples among whom the Lord your God has scattered you. 4 Even if you are exiled to the ends of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will bring you back. 5 The Lord your God will bring you into the land that your ancestors possessed, and you will possess it; he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.
6 Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. 7 The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on the adversaries who took advantage of you. 8 Then you shall again obey the Lord, observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, 9 and the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, 10 when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 30:1-13)
This seems to be a covenant for God to make the law easy to observe in the future with Israel as a collective–not in the present. So the covenant at Moab in Deuteronomy 30 seems to be a promise of the new covenant work in Jeremiah 31. There are also several differences with the wording in Jeremiah 31:33
1 God puts the law in the heart and not man. (hence grace)
2 The law is “written” now. (possibly suggesting more permanence)
3 It adds “put My law in their minds H7130” (a totally different word than h3824 for “heart” in Deut 30:14)
4 Tim Hegg has observed that the new covenant is a nationalistic covenant with both houses of Israel. Therefore the idea of Israel being united and following the law seems to be part of what makes it new since throughout the Bible Israel and even the good kings are described as failing in various respects.
Considering points one and two we can observe some significance attributed to the writing instrument used and of the writing surface:
The sin of Judah is written H3789 with an iron pen; with a diamond point it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts, and on the horns of their altars, (Jer 17:1)
O hope of Israel! O Lord! All who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be recorded H3789 in the underworld, for they have forsaken the fountain of living water, the Lord. (Jer 17:13)
It seems like God would have better instruments than us to write the law. Keil and Delitzsch in their commentary on Deut 10:6 make the observation that the writing surface will be entirely different as well:
The Lord will then circumcise their heart, and the heart of their children (see Deuteronomy 10:16), so that they will love Him with all their heart. When Israel should turn with true humility to the Lord, He would be found of them, – would lead them to true repentance, and sanctify them through the power of His grace, – would take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, a new heart and a new spirit, – so that they should truly know Him and keep His commandments (vid., Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33. and Deuteronomy 32:39.). “Because of thy life,” i.e., that thou mayest live, sc., attain to true life. The fulfilment of this promise does not take place all at once. It commenced with small beginnings at the deliverance from the Babylonian exile, and in a still higher degree at the appearance of Christ in the case of all the Israelites who received Him as their Saviour. Since then it has been carried on through all ages in the conversion of individual children of Abraham to Christ; and it will be realized in the future in a still more glorious manner in the nation at large (Romans 11:25.). The words of Moses do not relate to any particular age, but comprehend all times. For Israel has never been hardened and rejected in all its members, although the mass of the nation lives under the curse even to the present day. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/deuteronomy/30.htm
However I think the covenant at Moab in Deuteronomy 30 is probably just referring to the same thing as Jeremiah 31 since although the wording is different the context is the same: Israel becoming a nation again, being able to observe the law, and having the law in their hearts. Knowing this may help us with the idea that in the final fulfillment of the new covenant “no man shall teach another.” Now lets read these two verses together that are positioned around Paul’s quotation:
9 What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10 as it is written:
. . .
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:19-23)
Verse 20 is more literally translated as:
wherefore by works of law shall no flesh be declared righteous before Him, for through law is a knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20 YLT)
If “under the law” means “under the results of the law” then by charging that the whole world is “held accountable” Paul is saying that everyone is subject to the penalty of the law which is death. Here, Paul is implying that the cursings of the law given at Mount Sinai now fall on all of mankind. Essentially, the law + sin caused death, and this is part of the law “bringing knowledge of sin” which is why it states that through the law “sin might become exceedingly sinful” but this will be explained later. For now, observe how everyone is under (the results of) sin and hence “death:”
Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, (Deuteronomy 30:15-19)
Grace and law go together because we need grace to be forgiven from transgressing the law. (sin)
21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:21-23)
Here “apart from the law” just means “apart from the deeds of the law” see below:
“Works prescribed by the law” is literally “works of the law.”
therefore do we reckon a man to be declared righteous by faith, apart from works of law. (Romans 3:28 YLT)
24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:24-34)
The statement “law of faith” makes a bit more sense if you remember that “Torah” (the Hebrew word that Paul is referring to with the Greek “nomos”) can mean “instruction.” The “instruction of faith.” As for the meaning of “circumcision,” for now, just observe, that here, it could mean “Judaism” with all the rules and traditions that they followed in addition to the Torah. If Paul is saying that the law no longer applies to us his whole argument of us needing grace is complete nonsense. We no longer have the results of the law apply to us but it still defines God’s unchanging character, see here: http://www.the-ten-commandments.org/the-ten-commandments-god.html Moving on:
1 What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:1-3)
Paul here is contrasting the physical with spiritual and works with faith. However, these are simply two different ways of viewing your relationship with the law using the covenants of Sinai and the new covenant as analogies. If you believe in works then you are not being saved by grace. Just as Sinai kills Israel because they broke it the new covenant will bring life by allowing them to observe the law and attain the blessing of Sinai. He will also do this in Galatians 4 (we’ll see this later). We have works that show our faith but they are just a sign of our faith, works don’t save us. The physical sign of circumcision does not show the character or spirit of the person bearing it. Spirit (ruach) in Hebrew can also be translated as “wind” or “breath.” It is the same thing that animates a lifeless body with a given personality. Compare the following:
so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. G4151 (Rom 8:4)
Her spirit H4151 returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. (Luke 8:55)
8 And I beheld, and behold, upon them nerves and flesh germinated, and [2ascended 3upon 4them 1skin] above; but [2breath G4151 1there was no] in them. 9 And he said to me, Prophesy over the wind! G4151 Prophesy, O son of man, and say to the wind! G4151 Thus says the Lord the lord; From out of the four winds, G4151 come wind G4151 and breathe onto these dead, and let them live! 10 And I prophesied in so far as he gave charge to me, and [3entered 4into 5them 1the 2wind G4151], and they lived; and they stood upon their feet, [4gathering 3great 1a very 2exceedingly]. 11 And the lord spoke to me, saying, O son of man, these bones [2all 3the house 4of Israel 1are]. And they say, [4dry 3are 2bones 1Our]; [3is destroyed 2hope 1our]; we are perished. 12 On account of this prophesy and say! Thus says the Lord the lord; Behold, I shall open your tombs, and I shall lead you from out of your tombs, and I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the lord, by my opening your graves, for me to lead you from out of your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my spirit G4151 into you, and you shall live. And I will put you upon your land, and you shall know that I the lord have spoken, and I will act, says the lord. (Ezekiel 37:8-11 ABP)
I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath H7307 came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. (Eze 37:10) (H7307 can also be translated as “spirit”)
Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual G4151 and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God. (Rom 2:29)
but a Jew [is] he who is [so] inwardly, and circumcision [is] of the heart, in spirit, G4151 not in letter, of which the praise is not of men, but of God. (Rom 2:29 YLT)
as it is written, “God gave them a sluggish spirit, G4151 eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” (Rom 11:8)
so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. G4151 (Rom 8:4)
God seeks spirit and character, not physical appearance just as the new covenant makes Israel able to actively observe the law and puts the law in their hearts Sinai showed Israel the outward words of the law but did not put them inwardly on the heart so that Israel could act them out: this was Israel’s responsibility and regardless of whether they were able to write the law on their own hearts–they failed. For example, the temple and its rituals were physically impressive but Hebrews makes a list of its severe limitations which were eventually covered by Christ as our new high priest:
1 Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 6 But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one.
8 God finds fault with them when he says:
“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 9 not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and so I had no concern for them, says the Lord. (Hebrews 8:1-9)
Similarly, Stephen states the following:
44 “Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. 45 Our ancestors in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors. And it was there until the time of David, 46 who found favor with God and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the house of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet says,
49 ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? 50 Did not my hand make all these things?’
51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. (Acts 7:44-51)
Now we can compare this to these verses:
like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
Also, the context of the verses Stephen quotes in Acts 7 is from Isaiah 66 about having the right heart condition:
1 Thus says the Lord: Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is my resting place? 2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
All this is to say that Paul contrasts things associated with the physical such as “works,” “letter,” and “flesh” with “faith,” “spirit,” and “writing on the heart.” The “heart” is associated with the new covenant where we will be given new hearts and the law will be written on our hearts. Let us continue with Romans 4:
4 Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5 But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. 6 So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.” (Romans 4:4-8)
Notice this is not about changing the law but about covering the transgression made against it. Paul is simply pointing out that if you make your salvation conditional on any action or any physical sign (manifestation of faith) you are not believing in salvation by grace just like Sinai gave the law in words outwardly but not the inward heart to do them. Again, this is all about how we have salvation despite the law applying to us:
9 Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised? We say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” 10 How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, 12 and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:9-12)
This sign of circumcision was for the faith that Abraham had not vice versa which means all people can be justified by faith whether they are circumcised or not. In Romans 4, we can easily forget the verse that comes before that chapter:
Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31)
As for whether circumcision was required for gentiles converting there are several possibilities here: 1 circumcision is required for adults and the point is only that it is not a matter of salvation. 2 Circumcision was not required as an adult so it is not required for an individual to circumcise themselves except if they were going to eat the Passover sacrifice. 3 Circumcision means “Judaism” so it’s not even talking about circumcision literally. When Paul is talking about Abraham being declared righteous before he was circumcised he is saying that circumcision is just a sign, and the true circumcision is a circumcised heart. Note, there is no law commanding adults who join Israel to be circumcised (with the exception of eating the Passover sacrifice), only that you circumcise your son on the eighth day. I believe that option 2 is correct, and in this case what Paul is condemning is an outward appearance that has nothing to do with following God. Regardless of that we can say that Abraham was declared righteous because he believed, and while belief leads to obedience, the outward appearance of something is not to be confused with the heart condition, especially in the context of salvation.
13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. (Romans 4:13-15)
Again, being under sin + results of the law = punishment = death. Faith, as we have seen leads to justification which is needed to save us from condemnation. Hence, grace, as is made clear in the following:
16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23 Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. (Romans 4:16-25)
Again all that is going on here is that we are being promised redemption and we are not earning it by doing any specific works in the law:
1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. (Romans 5:1-13)
Again sin + law = penalty = death. This means we need grace. The same idea is made clear in the following:
14 Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. 19 For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:14-19)
Again, without the law still applying to us this argument is nonsense.
20 But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21)
The law was given so that sin would become painfully apparent or obvious. Paul, now has to explain why we need to not sin even without being under (the results of) the law because this means the penalties of the law won’t fall on us:
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 6:1-15)
Commenting on all of this is beyond the scope here. For now let’s look at the starting and ending verses to further establish our theory of what “under the law” means:
1 What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2 By no means! . . .
15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 6:1-15)
The law still applies because grace abounds when we sin. Also, why would we start to sin simply because we are not “under the law?” If “not under the law” means the entire law no longer applies then we can’t sin . . . If we are now under a “law of love” (as some argue) which has no specific rules, just “anything we consider loving” why would not being under the old law imply we might break this law of love? However, if “under the law” means “under the results of the law” and by implication “under the penalty of the law” (because of all being under sin) then we might be tempted to sin because there are no more law-related results/consequences for sin. Paul relates the reason we do not continue in sin to the fact that we serve God and not sin:
16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:16-23)
Believers even in the old testament were always intended to be under grace: Daniel 9:18; Gen. 6:8; Ex. 33:12, 17; Judges 6:17f; Jer. 31:2. However, Israel broke the covenant and the northern kingdom was divorced by God and yet Israel was promised to be restored:
She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. (Jer 3:8)
How would God restore Israel? This is what Jews expected the messiah to do. Paul uses an analogy here to explain this. Notice, the relation to Israel as a whole is easier to see if you remember that Paul is talking to people as being part of their larger groups in the greater historical context:
1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? 2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. 4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. (Romans 7:1-12)
Several things to notice here: 1. It is through our death that we become free from the condemnation of the Torah, not that the Torah dies in any way because it is specifically talking about the condemnation of the law and not of it ceasing to be: “she will be called an adulteress . . . she is no adulteress” 2. The law is good. 3. The law makes us aware of our sin 4. Without the law, sin could not cause punishment 5. The letter is contrasted with the spirit which are different ways of relating to the law. This is again an analogy between Sinai and new covenant. 6. Sin taking the opportunity of the commandment killed him . . . what does that mean? I think he’s using an analogy here. Sin is clearly being talked about as bringing curses/death through punishment. However, Paul is still alive therefore his idea of being righteous on his own has to be what was killed, allowing him to accept grace. Let’s read on:
Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (Romans 7:13)
The commandment showed sin as sin and it made it [appear] sinful beyond measure. (it made it obvious) I inserted “appear” to make it make more sense. However, if you know that “sin” can also mean “guilt” you’ll understand better how this happening:
ἁμαρτία,-ας+ N1F 186-54-94-92-119=545 Gn 15,16; 18,20; 20,9; 41,9; 42,21 guilt, sin Gn 15,16; sin-offering Lv 4,33 Cf. COX 1990, 119-130; DANIEL, S. 1966, 301-328; HARL 1986a, 62.63; HARLÉ 1988, 33; LE BOULLUEC 1989 294.297; →NIDNTT; TWNT http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf
Here, “guilt” makes sense as a translation for the last two occurrences of sin. Try this reading:
Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be [guilt], and through the commandment might become [guilty] beyond measure. (Romans 7:13)
It continues in the same vein lamenting guilt/sin:
14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)
Again remember “law of” could mean “instruction of” and this is pretty self-explanatory and backs up the law being good. Everyone should still try to live by the law but when we fail to do this is where grace covers us. Paul continues to contrast the spirit with the flesh:
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.(Romans 8:1-17)
Paul then harkens back to his quote of Habakkuk seeming to refer to the trials of Israel as a whole before it would be restored:
18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25)
The context of Paul’s quote of Habakkuk is promised sufferings in the near future with redemption from the Chaldeans and other nations in the end. Paul continues to encourage patient endurance and hope:
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Romans 8:26-36)
The last verse is a quote from Psalm 44 which promises present troubles but hopes for future redemption. It also mentions Israel being scattered among the nations and asks God to rescue them. (a possible reference to Israel being reformed)
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
Here Paul also makes the point of the irresistible nature of God’s grace that nothing physical can separate us from it, again relating it to his theme of contrasting physical and spiritual. Now, lets continue with the context in Galatians:
yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. (Gal 2:16)
The Essene MMT document argues that certain works of the law could justify you associates this with separation and purity.  (Paul was refuting this in some of his letters) This backs up one position of E.P. Sanders in his reading of 1st century Judaism in “The New Perspective on Paul” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Perspective_on_Paul He says that many Jews believed that by separating themselves from impurity and observing certain laws that they considered boundary markers of their distinctiveness among the nations would allow God to show his grace to them and save them. Those who didn’t observe these boundary markers had to be separated from. “Pharisee” means “separate.” This explains why issues of salvation and issues of separation or table fellowship are often mentioned together like they are the same thing. Here, in Galatians 2 Paul is simply making the point that law cannot justify you since we know that Christ justifies us and that is well accepted among us.
17 But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor.(Gal 2:17-18)
Galatians 2:17-18 is a reductio ad absurdum to the position of “works of the law” that “if seeking to be declared righteous in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners” is saying that if we have Christ but we still need works of the law then Christ has misled us and caused us to sin.
19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. (Galatians 2:19-21)
Here “through the law I died to the law” means that the law kills our idea of being self-righteous and of saving ourselves. Once we die to self, we can accept a savior outside of ourselves and paradoxically live more in line with the law which is part of the work of grace as Titus 2:11-14 explains:
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12 training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14)
The word for “iniquity” is literally “lawlessness”
who did give himself for us, that he might ransom us from all lawlessness, and might purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; (Titus 2:14 YLT)
In addition, this may be because we are no longer being righteous in a self serving way. Without knowledge of sin we cannot humble ourselves and repent which is reflected in several old testament references describing what behavior God’s people will have to have if they are to be forgiven. (this will be alluded to later) This idea is developed in Galatians 3:
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 12 But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.” (Gal 3:10-12)
Here Paul relates the law to the cursings added at Sinai so we see “the law” in the general sense of “the first five books” or “God’s instructions” is not applicable here; rather it is a specific part of the instructions which started at the Sinai covenant. I’ll explain, there are many parts of the first five books which give instructions to God’s people and give unconditional promises like in the Abrahamic covenants in Gen 15,17 and 22. However, here “the law” seems to reflect curses and blessings, life and death, which started at Sinai:
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
2 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: I am the Lord your God. 3 You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not follow their statutes. 4 My ordinances you shall observe and my statutes you shall keep, following them: I am the Lord your God. 5 You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the Lord. (Lev 18: 1-5)
11 I gave them my statutes and showed them my ordinances, by whose observance everyone shall live. 12 Moreover I gave them my sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, so that they might know that I the Lord sanctify them. (Ezekiel 20:11-12)
God promised the inheritance to Abraham with no strings attached but the law at Sinai came with blessings and cursings and was conditional on them following the law. Let’s see if this theory holds up:
16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, “And to offsprings,” as of many; but it says, “And to your offspring,” that is, to one person, who is Christ. 17 My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise. (Gal 3:16-18)
Here we see “law” is used in a specific context for that which was given at Sinai after Abraham “four hundred and thirty years later” he’s clearly distinguishing this from the other parts of the old covenant such as the Abrahamic covenants: “cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ” He’s not saying they are separate, those covenants/instructions all apply to us but Paul is using law specifically to refer to the blessings and cursings in this context starting at Sinai.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a mediator. 20 Now a mediator involves more than one party; but God is one. (Gal 3:19-20)
Here clearly it says the law was given because of transgression. We see this in several ways, 1 it was given with a penal system to punish transgression, 2 it was given with a priesthood to atone for transgression. However, is this what Paul means?
21 Is the law then opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law. 22 But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, (Gal 3:21-25)
Here we see the third purpose relating to transgression for which the law was given: to make people aware of their transgression. Without humility and acknowledgment of sin, we cannot come to Christ and accept grace. Once you leave a tutor and go to university the tutor’s more elementary teachings should still hold (otherwise you went to a bad tutor). No longer being under the tutor means no longer being under the law. This means you know you are not righteous (since the law taught you that) and therefore you are no longer trying to justify yourself by doing the law which means the law is no longer needed to teach you that you need grace through its punishments: you already know you deserve punishment. This is shown clearly through the history of the curses that God brought on Israel. Israel can’t claim they are righteous on their own after breaking the law and being put through its curses. Hence being “under (the results of) the law” while being “under sin” means being “under the results of sin” and hence “under the penalty of the law.”
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:26-29)
Paul relates Christ to the unconditional promises to Abraham as distinguished from the covenants starting at Sinai. Does this mean the Sinai covenant is no longer valid for us? No, if it isn’t valid for us then it makes Paul’s whole argument absolute nonsense: we don’t need Christ to save us from a penalty of a law that is no longer valid. To further establish this distinction lets jump ahead and look at what Paul says later:
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. 23 One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. 24 Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.(Galatians 4:22-25)
Why is being “under (the results of) the law” related to Mount Sinai? Because that is where the curses and hence death started to be piled up and while being “under (the results of) sin” those curses will fall us:
14 But if you will not obey me, and do not observe all these commandments, 15 if you spurn my statutes, and abhor my ordinances, so that you will not observe all my commandments, and you break my covenant, 16 I in turn will do this to you: I will bring terror on you; consumption and fever that waste the eyes and cause life to pine away. You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down by your enemies; your foes shall rule over you, and you shall flee though no one pursues you. 18 And if in spite of this you will not obey me, I will continue to punish you sevenfold for your sins. 19 I will break your proud glory, and I will make your sky like iron and your earth like copper. 20 Your strength shall be spent to no purpose: your land shall not yield its produce, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit. 21 If you continue hostile to me, and will not obey me, I will continue to plague you sevenfold for your sins. 22 I will let loose wild animals against you, and they shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock; they shall make you few in number, and your roads shall be deserted. 23 If in spite of these punishments you have not turned back to me, but continue hostile to me, 24 then I too will continue hostile to you: I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. 25 I will bring the sword against you, executing vengeance for the covenant; and if you withdraw within your cities, I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into enemy hands. 26 When I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in a single oven, and they shall dole out your bread by weight; and though you eat, you shall not be satisfied.
27 But if, despite this, you disobey me, and continue hostile to me, 28 I will continue hostile to you in fury; I in turn will punish you myself sevenfold for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30 I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars; I will heap your carcasses on the carcasses of your idols. I will abhor you. 31 I will lay your cities waste, will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing odors. 32 I will devastate the land, so that your enemies who come to settle in it shall be appalled at it. 33 And you I will scatter among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword against you; your land shall be a desolation, and your cities a waste.
34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbath years as long as it lies desolate, while you are in the land of your enemies; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its sabbath years. 35 As long as it lies desolate, it shall have the rest it did not have on your sabbaths when you were living on it. 36 And as for those of you who survive, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall though no one pursues. 37 They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though no one pursues; and you shall have no power to stand against your enemies. 38 You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall devour you. 39 And those of you who survive shall languish in the land of your enemies because of their iniquities; also they shall languish because of the iniquities of their ancestors.
40 But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, in that they committed treachery against me and, moreover, that they continued hostile to me— 41 so that I, in turn, continued hostile to them and brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; I will remember also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land shall be deserted by them, and enjoy its sabbath years by lying desolate without them, while they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they dared to spurn my ordinances, and they abhorred my statutes. 44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, or abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God; 45 but I will remember in their favor the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, to be their God: I am the Lord.
46 These are the statutes and ordinances and laws that the Lord established between himself and the people of Israel on Mount Sinai through Moses. (Lev 26:14-46)
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Christ is said to be born “under (the results of) the law” because he was born into a world where the cursing from mount Sinai could still be applied to God’s people.
Knowing this we can continue reading Galatians 4:
1 My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; 2 but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. 3 So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. (Gal 4:1-5)
“Elements of this world” is interesting. He’s contrasting being redeemed from under the law with being in bondage to the “elements of this world.”
The root of the word G4747 for “elements” is G4748 and is in the Septuagint:
στοιχέω+ V 0-0-0-1-0=1 Eccl 11,6 to prosper, to go on to sprout Cf. HORSLEY 1982, 97; →NIDNTT; TWNT
This is clearly not referring to the law of God as the same word is used to describe the traditions of men in the same book. Here’s the usage in the new testament (there is none in the Septuagint version of the Tanakh )
But now, having known God, but rather having been known by God, how do you return again unto the weak and poor elements, G4747 in which again, as at the beginning [2to serve 1you want]? (Gal 4:9 ABP)
8 Take heed lest [2anyone 4you 1there shall be 3robbing] through the fondness of intellectual pursuits and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements G4747 of the world, and not according to Christ! (Colossians 2:8 ABP)
If then you died with the Christ from the elements G4747 of the world, why as living in the world do you subject yourselves to decrees? (Col 2:20 ABP)
For though you ought to be teachers because of the time, again [2need 1you have] of one to teach you what are the elements G4747 of the beginning of the oracles of God; and you have become [2need 1having] of milk, and not of solid nourishment. (Hebrews 5:12)
But shall come the day of the Lord as a thief in the night, in which the heavens by a loud noise shall pass away, and the elements G4747 being destroyed by fire shall be loosed; and the earth and the [2in 3it 1works] shall be incinerated. (2 Peter 3:10 ABP)
expecting and hastening the arrival of the day of God, by which the heavens being set on fire shall be loosed, and the elements G4747 being destroyed by fire shall melt away? (2 Peter 3:12 ABP)
“World” or “kosmos” (G2889) is the other word and is also used for “ornaments:”
κόσμος,-ου+ N2M 5-2-17-5-43=72 Gn 2,1; Ex 33,5.6; Dt 4,19; 17,3 world, universe Prv 17,6a; world, earth 2 Mc 3,12; world, mankind Wis 2,24; ornament, decoration Ex 33,5; honour, delight Prv 28,17a *Gn 2,1 ὁ κόσμος ornamentation-◊צבה or-צבי for MT ◊צבא host, army, see also Dt 4,19, 17,3, Is 24,21, 40,26, Sir 50,19; *2 Sm 1,24 μετὰ κόσμου ὑμῶν with your ornaments-עם־עדיכן for MT עם־עדנים with luxury, with ornaments Cf. DOGNIEZ 1992, 138; HARL 1986a, 98; SCHMITT 1974, 152; →MM; NIDNTT; TWNT http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf
Paul says we are crucified to the world through Christ. This other word also can’t be talking about some divine law:
14 But for me may it not be to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom to me the world has been crucified, and I to the world G2889.(Gal 6:12 ABP)
And [6were completed 1the 2heaven 3and 4the 5earth], and all the cosmos of them. (Genesis 2:1)
5 And the lord said to the sons of Israel, You are a people hard-necked; see that [2do not 5calamity 4another 1I 3bring] upon you! and should completely consume you. Now then remove [2apparels 1your glorious], and the ornament! and I will show to you what I will do to you. 6 And [4removed 1the 2sons 3of Israel] their ornamentation, and the attire at the mountain of Horeb. (Exodus 33:5-6 ABP)
It continues in the same fashion:
6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. 9 Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? 10 You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. 11 I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted. (Gal 4:6-11)
Commenting on verses 12-20 is beyond the scope here so we will skip ahead. Here we start out with the verse that caused us to ask the question “what does under the law mean?” in the first place:
21 Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law, will you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. 23 One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. 24 Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (Gal 4:21-25)
Notice that Paul is using symbolism here and the majority of translations here use “allegory” or “illustration.” If Paul is suddenly going to tell us that we don’t need to follow the law–here is not the place to do it, it would too easily be misunderstood as figurative. Let’s get into the allegory: the reason the Jerusalem at that time was in bondage was because they weren’t accepting the grace of Christ and they were trying to justify themselves through “works of the law.” Doing this makes the curses of the law fall on you. God instead wanted Israel to “acknowledge their iniquity as it says in Jeremiah 3:13-15:
But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother. (Gal 4:26)
The reason the Jerusalem above is free is that by acknowledging their iniquity God will redeem Israel from the curses of breaking the covenant. The law is the thing that “brings knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20) and again we see that grace and law go together. To explain more fully, let’s continue:
27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children, burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pangs; for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than the children of the one who is married.” (Gal 4:27)
Here we see a picture of Israel being restored being quoted from Isaiah 54:
7 For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you. 8 In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer.
9 This is like the days of Noah to me: Just as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. 10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:7-10)
Things to notice here: 1 God will keep this covenant of peace with them no matter what. 2 God keeping this covenant is based on mercy not on anything that they did 3 It is a promise like God made not to destroy the earth with water any longer so it was certainly not based on anything humanity did. When God made that promise there was no time for humanity to do anything after the flood to prove that it wouldn’t be corrupted again.
40 But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, in that they committed treachery against me and, moreover, that they continued hostile to me— 41 so that I, in turn, continued hostile to them and brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; I will remember also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land shall be deserted by them, and enjoy its sabbath years by lying desolate without them, while they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they dared to spurn my ordinances, and they abhorred my statutes. 44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, or abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God; 45 but I will remember in their favor the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, to be their God: I am the Lord. (Lev 26:40-45)
12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:
Return, faithless Israel, says the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, says the Lord; I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt, that you have rebelled against the Lord your God, and scattered your favors among strangers under every green tree, and have not obeyed my voice, says the Lord. 14 Return, O faithless children, says the Lord, for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. (Jeremiah 3:12-14)
As mentioned earlier, if they humble themselves and accept their guilt God will not bring death (i.e. the curses for breaking the covenant at mount Sinai) Again, notice Sinai is not the only covenant in the line of covenants with God’s people. There are the covenants with Abraham’s descendants is Gen 15, 17 and 22 and the covenant at Moab apart from the one at Horeb (Sinai) in Deuteronomy 29. However, Paul picks Sinai when talking about being under the penalty of the law and Sinai was the place where the penalties were laid out including the judicial penal system and the laws of the priesthood and the tabernacle for atoning for sin. (“the law was added because of transgression”) Paul continues:
28 Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac. 29 But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. (Gal 4:28-29)
“even so it is now” clearly states that this is contrasting the ones persecuting “the way” with those of “the way” (part of this would later become known as Christianity) Paul actually participated in this persecution. You can confirm this by seeing the usage of the word in Galatians:
You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting G1377 the church of God and was trying to destroy it.(Gal 1:13 NRSV)
they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting G1377 us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” (Gal 1:23 NRSV)
But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted G1377 the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. (Gal 4:29 YLT)
But my friends, why am I still being persecuted G1377 if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. (Gal 5:11 NRSV)
It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted G1377 for the cross of Christ. (Gal 6:22 NRSV)
If Paul is saying that we no longer should keep the law he is doing a terrible job of it since the early Church was made up of a mixture of those who totally kept the law and those that didn’t (as evidenced by Acts 15) In addition since Christ almost always sided with Hillel the analogy of spirit and letter also fits here. Paul is instead continuing to contrast the physical with the spiritual as he did with circumcision earlier:
Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? (Gal 3:3)
This part is interesting:
30 But what does the scripture say? “Drive out the slave and her child; for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman.” 31 So then, friends, we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman. (Gal 4:30-31)
Here some people jump to the conclusion that since we are not “of” the bondwoman we no longer should keep the rules at Sinai. There are a few things to remember here: 1 he started off with the context of those who wish to be “under the law” and this is caused by using “works of the law” to justify yourself (we have already discussed this) 2 This is allegorical. 3 This can’t be only about the old and new covenant because of how he says the people of the bondwomen are persecuting the people that are free even now. In addition, Paul is not just contrasting the new covenant and the old covenant because the freewoman is symbolic of the promises given to Abraham which are older than Sinai.
However, it is possible that Paul is making some allusion to the new and old covenant here. Here’s why I think this: 1 The old covenant brought curses and the people who are of “works of the law” are “under the law” and therefore subject to its curses. 2 The promises given to Abraham are the precursors to Messiah who is the mediator of the new covenant. 3 The new covenant is about being restored and perfected by having the law written on our hearts (something that was not accomplished in the old covenant) and Christ followed the spirit of the law not the letter (he almost always sided with the house of Hillel) Also compare the following (YLT)
2 Corinthians 3:3 3 manifested that ye are a letter of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in the tablets of stone, but in fleshy tablets of the heart,
Ezekiel 36:26 26 And I have given to you a new heart, And a new spirit I give in your midst, And I have turned aside the heart of stone out of your flesh, And I have given to you a heart of flesh.
Jeremiah 31:33 33 For this [is] the covenant that I make, With the house of Israel, after those days, An affirmation of Jehovah, I have given My law in their inward part, And on their heart I do write it, And I have been to them for God, And they are to me for a people.
Hebrews 8:10 10 because this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, giving My laws into their mind, and upon their hearts I will write them, and I will be to them for a God, and they shall be to Me for a people;
5 Finally, the Zealot’s (of Shammai) were referred to as following after flesh and blood by the Hillelites:
Flusser discussed the political aspect of the rabbinic concept of the Kingdom of Heaven, arguing that originally “the Kingdom of Heaven” was an anti-Zealot slogan. At the end of the Second Temple period there were various groups of militant Jewish nationalists who advocated armed revolt against the Roman Empire. These insurgent groups believed that national liberation could be achieved through violent means. They believed that their armed struggle would provoke divine intervention on Israel’s behalf and the eschatological events of the final redemption would be set in motion as a result of their terrorist activities. It seems likely that at least one stream of militant Jewish nationalism emerged from the School of Shammai. This militant Jewish nationalist ideology was countered by the Hillelite stream of Pharisaic Judaism with the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven. According to Hillelite ideology, violent militant insurgence can only replace the Roman Empire with a kingdom of flesh and blood:
Rabbi Hananiah, prefect of the priests, says: He who takes to heart the words of the Torah is relieved of many preoccupations—preoccupations with hunger, foolish preoccupations, unchaste preoccupations, preoccupations with the evil impulse, preoccupations with an evil wife, idle preoccupations, and preoccupations with the yoke of flesh and blood…. But he who does not take to heart the words of the Torah is given over to many preoccupations—preoccupations with hunger, foolish preoccupations, unchaste preoccupations, preoccupations with the evil impulse, preoccupations with an evil wife, idle preoccupations, and preoccupations with the yoke of flesh and blood…. He used to say: Do not look at me because I am dark and the sun has tanned me [my mother’s sons were angry with me (Song 1:6)]—these are the assemblies of Judah who broke off the yoke of the Holy One, blessed be he, and caused a king of flesh and blood to reign over them. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 20 [ed. Schechter, 70-72]) . . . Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai says, “From the time murderers increased, the calf’s neck rite was annulled, because the calf’s neck rite is not applicable except in cases of doubt, but now murderers increased in the open. From the time adulterers increased, they stopped the ordeal of the bitter waters, because the ordeal of the bitter waters is not applicable except in cases of doubt, but now those who see [their lovers] in the open are many. From the time the lovers of pleasure increased, wrath came to the world and the glory of the Torah was annulled. From the time whisperers increased in the Sanhedrin, deeds were perverted, the judges were cursed, and the Shekhinahceased from Israel. From the time respecters of persons increased, You must not show partiality in judgment…you must not respect persons [Deut. 1:17] was annulled and they cast off the yoke of Heaven and caused a yoke of flesh and blood to reign over them. (t. Sot. 14:1[1-4])
In this saying Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai criticizes those who set up a yoke of flesh and blood and who cast off the yoke of Heaven. The terminology is similar to that of Hananiah the prefect of the priests. Does “murderers” who kill “in the open” refer to terrorist groups like the Sicarii? Does “whisperers…in the Sanhedrin” refer to the chief priests, and in particular those of the House of Hanan (cf. t. Men. 13:21; b. Pes. 57a)? If so, then Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai criticized both the militant Jewish nationalists on one extreme and the high priests who colluded with the Romans on the other. If so, Jesus was not unique in his rejection of violent insurgence and condemnation of the corrupt priesthood. https://www.jerusalemperspective.com/13546/
However, the explanation that Paul is only contrasting the new and the old covenant is completely impoverished as we have already seen. Rather if Paul is alluding to the old and new covenants he is only mixing it in with his main subject material. The last section we will look at backs this up again:
1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. 4 You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love. (Gal 5:1-6)
This allegory is introduced as a response to those who wish to be “under the law” and ends with something about those who want to be justified by law: the context is clear. Here Paul is not making any comments about what we should or shouldn’t do physically but rather what we should or shouldn’t justify ourselves by. This is a mistake people often make when reading Paul’s writings, context is key. However, the language here is slightly confusing. It can’t be that just by becoming physically circumcised that Christ profits you nothing since a change in your physical appearance can never cut you off from Christ. Paul also circumcised Timothy because of the Jews so it couldn’t be that Paul was cutting Timothy off from Christ by circumcising him. This issue may be helped by some historical context that Tim Hegg presents in his commentary on Acts 15:
The prevailing belief of the Judaisms in Paul’s day was that only Jews had a place in the world-to-come since God had made the covenant of blessing with Israel and no other nation.
All Israel have a place in the world-to-come. [[m.Sanhedrin 10:1.]
This central theological axiom shows that from the perspective of the Rabbis, a Gentile could secure a place in the world-to-come only by becoming a Jew. This, the Rabbis taught, was possible through becoming a proselyte, a ritual based entirely upon their rules but without any foundation in the Torah itself. In fact, the added phrase “according to the custom of Moses”629 in the opening verse of Acts 15 may point to the fact that the disagreement taking place between Paul and Barnabas and the others was not over what the written Torah prescribed for Gentiles but whether or not the additional teachings of the Sages were binding upon them. Thus when men from Judea taught that “unless you are circumcised (undergo the ritual of a proselyte) according to the custom of Moses you cannot be saved,” they were simply applying the standard theology of their day. This is what the Council was dealing with: Did all Israel have a place in the world-to-come? Did Gentiles therefore need to submit to the man-made ritual of the proselyte so that, in accordance with the prevailing theology, they too could secure eternal life, that is, be saved? Nowhere in God’s word is there a ceremony outlined for a Gentile to become a proselyte. . .
The issue was one of status. What status qualified a person to be assured of a place in the world-to-come—ethnicity or faith? What was essential for salvation: the status of Jewishness or the status of being “in Messiah?” Paul and the other apostles at the Jerusalem Council unanimously agreed that one’s ethnic status had no bearing whatsoever on one’s salvation. The crux was faith not ethnicity.
In conclusion, this has all been to show the context of what Paul is talking about in Galatians 4 with the two covenants. He is responding to those who wish to be justified by works of the law or want to be under the law. The two covenants in Galatians don’t seem to be directly related to the “old” and “new” covenants because Paul uses part of the old covenant (the older part before Sinai) in arguing for us being the children of promise. Rather Paul seems to be contrasting two parts of the old covenant and saying (to oversimplify things) that the blessings of it will save us from curses of it eventually. The new covenant rather is about the law eventually being written on our hearts by God since we were unable to do so. There is however a relation here: the writing of the law by God in the new covenant is accomplished by the work of Christ (through the holy spirit) as a mediator of the new covenant and Christ was predicted by the promises given to Abraham. In any case to say that the judgments of the law are done away with makes Paul’s argument nonsensical; rather, Christ needed to come to save us from the results of those judgments.
Compare the following:
For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.(Hebrews 9:15)
13 For we write you nothing other than what you can read and also understand; I hope you will understand until the end— 14 as you have already understood us in part—that on the day of the Lord Jesus we are your boast even as you are our boast. 15 Since I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double favor; 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to ordinary human standards, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been “Yes and No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not “Yes and No”; but in him it is always “Yes.” 20 For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God. 21 But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, 22 by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment. (2 Corinthians 1:13-22)
 “The topic of the work is reflected in the phrase tohorat haqodesh, “the purity of the holy.” Stated simply: “Do not allow the holy to be profaned by what is impure.”
The issues include bringing Gentile corn into the Temple, the presentation of Gentile offerings, and the cooking of sacrificial meat in unfit (impure) vessels. Other rulings concern cleansing of lepers, admitting the blind and the deaf into the Temple; and permitting intermarriage with Ammonite and Moabite converts, long forbidden to enter the congregation of Israel (Deuteronomy 23:3). Other issues involve the transmission of impurity by a flow of water (musaq), the intermixture of wool and linen (sha‘atnez), plowing with diverse animals (qilayyim) and perhaps the climax of the discussion: the intermarriage of priests with the common people.
Most of the rulings espoused by the author of MMT are based directly upon Biblical law (for example, the prohibition against plowing with unlike animals in Deuteronomy 22:10). A few others are interpretations or amplifications of Mosaic prescriptions (for example, bans on Gentile offerings and dogs in the Temple). The list clearly reflects a conservative reaction against a relaxation of Torah precepts.” http://www.sabbathreformation.com/article-paul-works-of-the-law-and-mmt-118800746.html
1) Paul’s έργων νόμου “works of the law,” Rom. 3:20, 28; Gal. 2:16 [trs]; 3:2, 5 10) is likely a translation of מעשי התורה, found in all of ancient Hebrew literature only at 4QMMT C 27 (4Q398 14-17 ii 3). . . .
2) 4QMMT C 27 also echoes the languages of Gal. 3:6b where Paul quotes Gen 15:6 and argues that righteousness is reckoned on the bases of faith. The Qumran writer posits righteousness on the bases of works of the law. (pg. 1)
In addition it appears highly likely that Paul was reacting to a position that was espoused in 4QMMT by the Qumran covenanters, namely, that a person was reckoned righteous by keeping “works of the law. “
“Prep. below, beneath, under (ὑπό) . . . Of a woman it is said, she commits whoredom, adultery, under her husband, Nu. 5:19; Eze. 23:5, i.e. she commits whoredom who ought to obey the authority of her husband.”
 8 For I also am a man set under G5259 authority, G1849 with soldiers under G5259 me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” (Luke 7:8 New Revised Standard Version)
9 For I also am a man under G5259 authority, G1849 with soldiers under G5259 me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” (Matthew 8:9 New Revised Standard Version)
 Under husband’s authority: 19 Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, “If no man has lain with you, if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings the curse. (Numbers 5:19 NRSV)
19 `And the priest hath caused her to swear, and hath said unto the woman, If no man hath lain with thee, and if thou hast not turned aside [to] uncleanness under thy husband, be free from these bitter waters which cause the curse;(Num 5:19 YLT)
19 And [3shall adjure 4her 1the 2priest], and he shall say to the woman, If no one has gone to bed with you, if you have not violated to be defiled being under [2husband 1your own], be innocent from [2by the 3water 4of rebuke 1this accursing]! (Num 5:19 ABP)
Gesenius’s usage in Ezekiel 23 may relate to “consequences” or “power” from doing something while “under” an authority
5 And go a-whoring doth Aholah under Me, And she doteth on her lovers, On the neighbouring Assyrians, (Ezekiel 23:5 YLT)
5 And Aholah fornicated from me, and doted upon her lovers, upon the Assyrians being next to her; (Ezekiel 23:5 ABP)
5 Oholah played the whore while she was mine; she lusted after her lovers the Assyrians, warriors . . . 9 Therefore I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, into the hands of the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. (Ezekiel 23:5-9 NRSV)
Compare the following usages of “under” with alternate translations, it seems the meaning of “under” is related to what is metaphorically on top:
2 And the fear of you and trembling will be upon all the wild beasts of the earth, upon all the winged creatures of the heaven, and upon all the things moving upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea. Under your hands I have given them to you. (Gen 9:2 ABP)
2 The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. (Gen 9:2 NRSV)
. . . to the future, that we may maintain the government in undisturbed peace for all men, adopting [needful] changes, and ever judging those cases which come under [our] notice, with truly equitable decision. . . . (Esther 8:13 Brenton Translation of the Septuagint)
. . . In the future we will take care to render our kingdom quiet and peaceable for all, by changing our methods and always judging what comes before our eyes with more equitable consideration. . . (Esther 8:13 NRSVACE)
And the Lord will give us strength, and lighten our eyes, and we shall live under the shadow of Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon, and under the shadow of Balthasar his son, and we shall serve them many days, and find favour in their sight. (Baruch 1:12 Brenton Septuagint Translation)
The Lord will give us strength, and light to our eyes; we shall live under the protection of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and under the protection of his son Belshazzar, and we shall serve them for many days and find favour in their sight. (Bar 1:12 NRSVACE)
2 Maccabees 7:36:
36 For our brothers after enduring a brief suffering have drunk of ever-flowing life, under God’s covenant; but you, by the judgment of God, will receive just punishment for your arrogance. (2 Maccabees 7:36 NRSVACE)
For our brethren, who now have suffered a short pain, are dead under God’s covenant of everlasting life: but thou, through the judgment of God, shalt receive just punishment for thy pride. (2 Maccabees 7:36 Brenton Septuagint Translation)
3 And he spared his people, and all the ones being sanctified by your hands; these [2under 3you 1are]; and he received of his words (Deuteronomy 33:3 ABP)
3 Indeed, O favorite among peoples, all his holy ones were in your charge; they marched at your heels, accepted direction from you. (Deuteronomy 33:3 NRSV)
3 Also He [is] loving the peoples; All His holy ones [are] in thy hand, And they — they sat down at thy foot, [Each] He lifteth up at thy words. (Deuteronomy 33:3 YLT)
6 But he thought it beneath him to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. (Esther 3:6 NRSV)
6 And he took counsel to remove all [2under 3the 5of Artaxerxes 4kingdom 1the Jews]. (Esther 3:6 ABP)
6 and it is contemptible in his eyes to put forth a hand on Mordecai by himself, for they have declared to him the people of Mordecai, and Haman seeketh to destroy all the Jews who [are] in all the kingdom of Ahasuerus — the people of Mordecai. (Esther 3:6 YLT)
6 and took counsel to destroy utterly all the Jews who were under the rule of Artaxerxes. (Esther 3:6 Brenton)
 hypó, hoop-o’; G5259 example usage in the Septuagint:
For our brethren, who now have suffered a short pain, are dead under God’s covenant of everlasting life: but thou, through the judgment of God, shalt receive just punishment for thy pride. (2 Maccabees 7:36 Brenton Septuagint Translation)
36 For our brothers after enduring a brief suffering have drunk of ever-flowing life, under God’s covenant; but you, by the judgment of God, will receive just punishment for your arrogance. (2 Maccabees 7:36 NRSV)
ὑπό+ P 61-42-43-140-212=498 Gn 9,2; 16,9; 18,4.8; 19,8 [τινος]: by (with a pass. verbal form indicating the agent) Gn 26,29; from Ps 73(74),22; under, in (indicating reason) Jb 30,4; under Jb 8,16
[τι, τινα]: under (with verb of motion) 1 Mc 6,46; under (place) Gn 18,8; under, at the foot of Ex 24,4; under (in geogr. sense) Dt 3,17; beyond Ex 3,1; about (time) Jos 5,2; little before Jon 4,10; in the course of, during 3 Mc 7,12; under (as subordination) 1 Ezr 3,1; under, in the hand of 2 Mc 3,6; under (reason) Ex 23,5 ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανόν under heaven, on earth Ex 17,14; ὑπὸ τὴν ὄψιν under (our) notice Est 8,12i; ὑπὸ χεῖρας in (your) hands Gn 9,2; ὑπὸ τὴν σκιάν in the shadow Bar 1,12; ὑπὸ διαθήκην (θεοῦ) under (God’s) covenant 2 Mc 7,36; ὑπὸ φόρον under tribute 1 Mc 8,2; ὑπὸ καιρόν within the space of one day 2 Mc 7,20; ὑφ’ ἕν at one stroke Wis 12,9 Cf. DORIVAL 1994, 56; JOHANNESSOHN 1910 1-82; 1926 174-184; →NIDNTT
http://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb I’m paraphrasing (and analyzing in part) this series of lectures on Revelation by Herb Montgomery because it relates to the kingdom of God. My Bible study is discussing this series and I just now decided to start posting about it so I will be following along with them for the rest of the series on parts 12-17. I will post a summary during the week before we have Bible study Friday night and will update it after Bible study to account for anything else learned there. I will finish parts 1-11 on my own after 12-17. Hopefully I will be able to get the others to comment on those as well. Herb argues that there is a change in teaching in the new testament to pacifism–from the Tanahk (or Old Testament)–and argues that Revelation fits with this. This also interests me because our paper “Unless He Gives up All His Possessions” argues for a change in teaching in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) with regards to possessions but only due to a different situation arising after Christ. The TNIV translation is used unless otherwise noted. Links to the paraphrased material, lecture: https://renewedheartministries.com/sermons/followthelamb/16alambonawhitehorse.mp3
Tonight Herb says he will cover four chapters that each need their own presentation but he will condense it to two presentations.
Revelation 19.11-21–Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a WHITE HORSE! Its RIDER is called Faithful and True, and in RIGHTEOUSNESS HE JUDGES and makes WAR.
This sounds not like a contradiction to the Lamb, the sermon on the mount, and a contradiction to . The promise the angels made when Jesus ascended in Acts 1 is that this same Jesus would come back as he ascended.
Revelation 2.13–I know where you are
living, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are
holding fast to my name, and you did not
deny your faith in me even in the days of
Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who
was killed among you, where Satan lives.
The characteristic of someone who is faithful in Revelation is “Faithful unto death” This type of death is not passive, it holds the same action the imagery of the rider on the white horse. We choose non-violence because it is an active way of winning the war and of winning our enemies and winning that victory.
Psalms 45.3-6–Gird your SWORD on your side, you mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. In your majesty RIDE FORTH VICTORIOUSLY in the cause of TRUTH, HUMILITY and JUSTICE; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds. Let your sharp arrows PIERCE THE HEARTS OF THE KING’S ENEMIES; let the NATIONS FALL BENEATH YOUR FEET. Your throne, O God, will last FOR EVER AND EVER; a scepter of JUSTICE will be the scepter of your KINGDOM.
Revelation 19.11-21. . . , and in RIGHTEOUSNESS HE JUDGES and makes WAR. . .
Psalms 98.9– [New Song]He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
This is not retributive justice but restorative justice.
Psalms 96.10– [New Song] Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.
Psalms 58.1–Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge people with equity? No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out VIOLENCE on the earth.
The implication is that if you deal in justice and equity your hands will not mete out violence.
2 Corinthians 10.4–The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
Ephesians 6.12–For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but
against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
In other-words, the enemies that we are fighting against are not genuinely our enemies. If it has flesh and blood even if it’s attacking you it is just a conduit of the real enemy.
Let’s say there’s a tussle with someone breaking into my home and intending to do my family harm but when the mask is ripped off it’s my sixteen year old daughter. Every person is like the sixteen year old son or daughter of God. It’s active warfare.
Revelation 12.7-9–And there was WAR in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
The root word used for “war” here is πόλεμος (polemos) and is where we get our word “politics.” Herb saying John is essentially saying: “remember the war being fought here is not a literal war.”
Revelation 19.11-21 . . .His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems [crowns]; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in A ROBE DIPPED IN BLOOD, and his name is called The Word of God. And the ARMIES OF HEAVEN, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. FROM HIS MOUTH comes a sharp SWORD with which to STRIKE DOWN THE NATIONS, and he will REIGN OVER THEM with iron SCEPTER [rather than rod] ; he will TREAD THE WINE PRESS OF THE FURY OF THE WRATH OF GOD THE ALMIGHTY. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders–flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.” Then I saw the BEAST and THE KINGS OF THE EARTH with THEIR ARMIES gathered to make WAR against THE RIDER ON THE HORSE and against HIS ARMY. And the BEAST was captured, and with it the false PROPHET who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the MARK of the BEAST and those who WORSHIPED its IMAGE. These two were thrown ALIVE into the LAKE OF FIRE that burns with sulfur. And the rest were KILLED by the SWORD of the rider on the horse, THE SWORD THAT CAME FROM HIS MOUTH; and ALL THE BIRDS WERE GORGED WITH THEIR FLESH.
Herb says don’t jump to conclusions yet. He asks what it means to be slain by a sword coming out of someone’s mouth?
Isaiah 11.4–But with righteousness he will JUDGE the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the ROD of his MOUTH; with the breath of his LIPS he will slay the wicked.
God’s justice here is not retributive it’s restorative. God is not punishing the needy for being needy.
Revelation 2.16–Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you
and will fight against them with the SWORD of my MOUTH.
This is what God says he will do with his Church if they do not repent.
Psalms 2.1-9–Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will BREAK them with a ROD of iron ; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
When John quotes this he doesn’t use the work “break” we will see why in just a moment.
Isaiah 63.1-6–Who is this coming from Edom, from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson? Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.”Why are your garments red,like those of one treading the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress ALONE; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. It was for me the day of vengeance; the year for me to redeem had come. I looked, but
there was NO ONE TO HELP, I was appalled that no one gave support;
so my own arm achieved salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me.
John takes this violent imagery of blood coming up to the horses bridal for 16,000 stadia and changes it subtly. Notice he is not using the one treading the winepress alone in Revelation he is there with his army.
Ezekiel 39.17-20–As for you, mortal, thus says the Lord GOD: Speak to the birds of every kind and to all the wild animals: Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth–of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. You shall eat fat until you are filled, and drink blood until you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you. And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with warriors and all kinds of soldiers, says the Lord GOD.
This shows the rider destroys all of God’s enemies but the question is how does he destroy them?
Psalms 59.7–See what they spew from their mouths–the words from their LIPS are SHARP AS SWORDS, and they think, “Who can hear us?”
Job 5.15–He saves the needy from the SWORD IN THEIR MOUTH; he
saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
Isaiah 49.2-5–He made MY MOUTH LIKE A SHARPENED SWORD,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver . . . to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him
Notice the sharpened sword that came out of the mouth of Isaiah was not to physically kill Israel but to turn Israel back to their God.
Hebrews 4.12–For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Psalms 149.6–May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword IN THEIR HANDS,
Revelation 2.16–Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you
and will fight against them with THE SWORD OF MY MOUTH.
Revelation 1.16–In his right hand he held seven stars, and COMING
OUT OF HIS MOUTH WAS A SHARP, DOUBLE EDGED SWORD.
His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
Revelation 19.15–Coming out of HIS MOUTH is a sharp sword with
which to strike down the nations. “He will REIGN OVER THEM with an
iron SCEPTER.” He treads the WINEPRESS of the fury of the wrath of
Psalms 2.7-9–I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You
are my son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make THE
NATIONS YOUR HERITAGE, and the ends of the earth your POS-
SESSION. You shall BREAK them with a rod of iron, and dash them in
pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Luke 17.7–Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or TENDING sheep in the field, `Come here at once and take your place at the table’?
1 Corinthians 9.7–Who at any time pays the expenses for doing military service? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of its fruit? Or who TENDS a flock and does not get any of its milk?
Matthew 2.6–And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a RULER who is to SHEPHERD my people Israel.
John 21.16–A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you
love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus
said to him, “TEND my sheep.”
Revelation 2.26,27–To everyone who is victorious and continues to
do my works to the end, I will give authority over THE NATIONS; to
REIGN OVER [shepherd] them with an iron SCEPTER . . .
Revelation 3.21–To the one who victorious I will give a place WITH
ME on MY throne, just as I myself was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
He can’t wipe out the nations and then rule them. Herb argues that the word in Psalms can be translated as “rod,” “scepter,” and “staff.”
Revelation 20.1-3–And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the ABYSS and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the DRAGON, that ancient SERPENT, who is the DEVIL, or SATAN, and bound him for a THOUSAND YEARS. He threw him into the ABYSS, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from DECEIVING THE NATIONS anymore UNTIL the thousand years were ENDED. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
Each one of the schools of thought we talked about post-Constantine has a way of interpreting the millennium. Of all the teachers in the new testament the millennium is only mentioned by one. John does not give us enough information to solve the questions surrounding this.
Exodus 20.4-6–You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the THIRD AND FOURTH GENERATION of those who hate me, but showing love to A THOUSAND GENERATIONS of those who love me and keep my commandments.
John is contrasting God’s judgement with his restorative justice. The devil is allowed to reign for 3.5 years (Rev 11 and 13) but the church is allowed to reign for a thousand. However, in Rev 20 the promise in Ex 20 is fulfilled.
Revelation 20.4-6–I saw THRONES on which were seated those who
had been given authority to JUDGE [Reign, see Psalms 96 & 98]. And I saw the SOULS of those who had been beheaded because of their TESTIMONY about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had NOT worshiped the BEAST or his IMAGE and had not received his MARK on their foreheads or their hands. THEY CAME TO LIFE and REIGNED with Christ A THOUSAND YEARS. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. THE SECOND DEATH HAS NO CLAIM OVER THEM, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign WITH him for A THOUSAND YEARS.
Some people in the early church took the millennium metaphorically and some took it literally. Herb says that he thinks John doesn’t give us enough information to decide. We need to be careful about making definitive statements about the millennium just from this passage. This is directed to a specific group (martyrs).
Revelation 6.9,10–When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the SOULS of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and vindicate our blood?”
It says that they will reign over the nations from Rev 19 so that king of muddies the waters.
Daniel 7.9-14–“As I looked, “THRONES were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of FIRE was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and THE BOOKS were opened. Then I continued to watch because of the BOASTFUL words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until THE BEAST was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.) In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a SON OF MAN, COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and SOVEREIGN power; ALL NATIONS AND PEOPLES OF EVERY LANGUAGE WORSHIPED HIM. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Revelation 11.11–But after the three and a half days the breath of life
from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them.
The imagery revelation gives in a first century setting is that after they are raised they will reign with Christ for a thousand years.
Revelation 3.21–To those who are victorious, I will give the right to sit
with me on MY THRONE, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Daniel 7.18–But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the king-
dom and possess the kingdom forever–forever and ever.”
Daniel 7.21-22–I looked, this horn made war with the holy ones and was prevailing over them, until the Ancient One came; then judgment [reign, soveriegn power] was given to THE HOLY ONES of the Most High, and the time arrived when THE HOLY ONES gained possession of the king-dom.
Daniel 7.26-27–“`But the court will sit, and his [the beast’s] power will
be TAKEN AWAY, CONSUMED and completely DESTROYED forever.
Then the SOVEREIGNTY, power and greatness of all the kingdoms
under heaven will be handed over TO THE HOLY PEOPLE of the Most
High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and ALL RULERS
WILL WORSHIP AND OBEY HIM.’
Who’s going to rule for a thousand years? The holy people.
Daniel 7.14–He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; ALL NATIONS AND PEOPLES OF EVERY LANGUAGE WORSHIPED HIM.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Those who take part in the second resurrection it says death has no claim over them.
John 14.30–I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this
world is coming. He has no CLAIM over me
Hebrews 2.14,15–Since, therefore, the
children share flesh and blood, he himself
likewise shared the same things, so that
through death he might destroy THE
ONE WHO HAS THE POWER OF
DEATH, THAT IS, THE DEVIL, and
free those who all their lives were held in
slavery by the fear of death.
When the lamb dies it defeats the dragon frees all those who are being held captive by the dragon. Do you see a parallel in revelation 20.
Acts 2.24–But God RAISED HIM UP,
having freed him from death, because
it was IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO BE
HELD IN ITS POWER [CLAIM].
Those two witness for a metaphorical three and half years like Jesus did. They have the power to use the methods of Elijah and Moses but they choose to use the methods of the lamb. The beast will kill the two witnesses but that is good for the lamb. Jesus didn’t see his death as a failure but what must be done to overcome the enemy. Remember all the inhabitants of the earth are celebrating and after three and half days the breath of God comes into these two witnesses (the church) there’s a great earthquake a tenth of the city falls 7,000 perish and what happens to the survivors? They fear the God of heaven and give him glory.
What we are seeing in Revelation 20 is the first resurrection in Revelation 11. Herb says to get lost in the story and put aside different doctrinaire interpretations of Revelation. He specifically says of the historicist position “That’s not what John’s doing” This may contradict something he said earlier where he seems to leave on the possibility for a futurist/historicist interpretation of Revelation. However, he is probably emphasizing a matter of weight. John’s weight of importance is on the story not on giving us predictions of the future (if that is even what John is doing)
After this the white rider comes and kills all the enemies which is another way of describing the war of the lamb. (he dies to defeat his enemies) Herb says remember there is going to be another resurrection for those who were slain for not worshiping the beast and his image. (the martyrs) John is not concerned with giving you imagery that symbolizes the resurrection when Jesus comes back. He is trying to just tell a story with different metaphors and imagery that will inspire you to continue to follow the Lamb. This is why there is so much debate over how the millennium is really going to happen. Every time you try to apply the millennium to real history it produces more questions than answers.
http://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb I’m paraphrasing (and analyzing in part) this series of lectures on Revelation by Herb Montgomery because it relates to the kingdom of God. My Bible study is discussing this series and I just now decided to start posting about it so I will be following along with them for the rest of the series on parts 12-17. I will post a summary during the week before we have Bible study Friday night and will update it after Bible study to account for anything else learned there. I will finish parts 1-11 on my own after 12-17. Hopefully I will be able to get the others to comment on those as well. Herb argues that there is a change in teaching in the new testament to pacifism–from the Tanahk (or Old Testament)–and argues that Revelation fits with this. This also interests me because our paper “Unless He Gives up All His Possessions” argues for a change in teaching in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) with regards to possessions but only due to a different situation arising after Christ. The TNIV translation is used unless otherwise noted. Links to the paraphrased material, lecture: https://renewedheartministries.com/presentation/Follow-the-Lamb?msds_pif_cat=empireandthelamb
This building is not the church this is just a building the church meets in. Herb thanks everyone in the church and the Bliss family whom he stayed with. The Book of Revelation is not as many have taken it to be. It is not about an angry God come back to take vengence but a lamb. The Lamb takes vengeance but it is of a different nature. The way a lamb takes vengeance on it’s enemies is through the non-cooperative principles of non-violence but with the aim of destroying his enemies by making them his friends. The early church would have seen this violent imagery of the old testament that John turns on its head and gives it new meaning.
Revelation 18.1-8–After this I saw another angel coming down from
heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendor. He called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! . . .
This is imagery has been stolen from the Tanahk. In the same way that Israel was going to brought of captivity to Babylon we see in Revelation that every nation tribe and tongue will be brought out of captivity to Babylon. Likewise he is using the exodus imagery to talk about all nations being brought out of slavery to Babylon.
. . . It has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt of every foul spirit, a haunt of every foul and hateful bird, a haunt of every foul and hateful beast. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury.”
The Lamb of God is an itinerant teacher announcing that there is a new kingdom being established which is a radical new way of structuring society and life in general.
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you do not take part in her sins, and so that you do not share in HER PLAGUES; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her as she herself has rendered, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double draught for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, so give her a like measure of torment and grief.
Ezekiel 16 The sins of Sodom were that they were overfed and unconcerned.
Since in her heart she says, `I rule as a queen; I am no widow, and I will never see grief,’ therefore HER PLAGUES will come in a single day–pestilence and mourning and famine– and she will be burned with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.”
Revelation 18.9-10–And THE KINGS OF THE EARTH, . . .
This is who were are told in Rev 21 will leave Babylon and bring all their glory into the new Jerusalem.
. . . who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas, alas, the great city, Babylon, the mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.”
Response to the fall of Babylon is mourning because the kings of this earth are invested in the way of life. Luke 6 sermon on the plane, blessed are you who poor, mourn, are hungry, but What Jesus would accomplish would take the downtrodden and the marginalized of this world. Woe to you who are benefiting by their abuse. Those who are benefiting from creating poverty.
Merchants of the earth were benefiting from the luxury of Rome.
Revelation 18.11-16–And THE MERCHANTS OF THE EARTH weep
and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves–HUMAN LIVES. ” . . .
What John is doing here is not critiquing Rome or the killing of the Lamb’s followers. He is engaging in an economic critique that the luxury wealthy people live in perpetrates abuse on the rest of the world.
. . .The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your dainties and your splendor are lost to you, never to be found again!” The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, “Alas, alas, the great city, clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste!”
Herb reads from “Climax of Prophecy” by Richard Bauckham. Gold: Rome imported gold especially from Spain where most of the mines had become state property during the first century. Sometimes by highly dubious means of confiscation. The use of gold was one of the commonly noticed features of the growth of extravagant luxury among the wealthy families of Rome during the first century. In one of the periodic attempts to curb this they had a law against the use solid gold plates at private diner parties. Pliny complains that even the ceilings of private houses are covered in Gold . . . With the place of gold at the head of John’s list it is worth noting the Eumolpus. . . If there were any land that promised a yield of gold, that place was Rome’s enemy. Fate stood ready for the sorrows of war and the quest of wealth went on. Herb asks if there are parallels between that today.
The case of silver was similar to that of gold. Pliny associated silver with the luxury of the Roman rich remarking on the fashions of silver plated couches, baths made of pure silver, the common use of silver for serving food. . . Precious stones in John’s day came from India so people in Rome were pillaging so that they could live in extravagance. The emperor Tiberius in his letter to the senate about Roman extravagance in 22 AD referred to that special feature of Roman extravagance that transfer of currency for jewels to often hostile nations but Rome owed it to her empire that she could afford those expensive imports from beyond the empire.
Under the lamb we have to question is our pursuit of happiness coming at the price of human lives around the globe? Maybe John was more green than we thought, maybe John was more concerned economically than we thought. One thing in Rome was to dissolve a pearl in vinegar or alcohol and then drink it for the thrill of wasting so much money. The merchants of the earth will weep. This is John’s critique of empire in the first century. God hated the bricks of Egypt not because he’s against mortar but because he is against the cost of human lives. He hated the empire of Babylon and the stonework of Babylon not because he hates stone but because of the cost of human lives. There have been Christians in the last 100 years that have realized that every purchasing decision I make is a moral decision.
Revelation 18.17-19–And ALL SHIPMASTERS AND SEAFARERS,
SAILORS AND ALL WHOSE TRADE IS ON THE SEA, stood far off
and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the GREAT CITY?” And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out, “Alas, alas, the great city, where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in one hour she has been laid waste.
What is John doing here? Who are the mourners? The ship captains the ship owners and the kings of this earth. Remember they are invested in the way Babylon is doing life.
Revelation 18.20–Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles
and prophets! For God has given judgment for you against her.” Then
a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into
the sea, saying, “With such violence Babylon THE GREAT CITY will be
thrown down, and will be found no more; and the sound of harpists and minstrels and of flutists and trumpeters will be heard in you no more; and an artisan of any trade will be found in you no more; and the sound of the millstone will be heard in you no more; and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more; and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more; for your MERCHANTS were the MAGNATES of the earth, and ALL NATIONS were deceived by your sorcery. And in you was found THE BLOOD OF PROPHETS AND OF SAINTS, and of ALL who have been slaughtered on earth.”
Revelation 19:1-10—After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God, for his judgments are true and just; he has judged the GREAT WHORE who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has vindicated on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they said, “Hallelujah! The smoke goes up from her forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.” Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of THE LAMB has come, and his bride has made her-
self ready; to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of THE LAMB.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades who hold THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS. Worship God! For the testimony of JESUS is the spirit of prophecy.”
If your interpretation of the Book of Revelation gives you different picture of God than the one Jesus gives on the sermon on the mount: the God who causes the sun to shine on the wicked and the God, the God who sends rain on the unkind and the just. Who kind to the unthankful and seeks to win them not destroy them. . . I know some of you need to die somewhere, but what about the book of Jonah? Would you be ticked off if God did not decide to destroy them? Jonah didn’t want the Ninevites in the kingdom with him. Herb suggests that if you are like Jonah and see something very different in Revelation than in the teachings of Jesus that you are misinterpreting the metaphorical Revelation. Some did indeed view it as complex to interpret (suggesting an allegorical interpretation) http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/201/2010243.htm also see: http://global.oup.com/obso/focus/focus_on_revelation/ It’s interesting that the main debate among scholars is about whether the beast represents Rome or Israel and not about if there’s some literal future fulfillment of these things: https://blog.adw.org/2012/11/why-the-modern-view-of-the-book-of-revelation-may-be-flawed/
Herb Montgomery asserts that in the Psalms the word used in “break” for “break them with a rod of iron” while in Revelation it is “tend” or “shepherd.” It is true that the Greek word can have that meaning and the Hebrew is certainly translated as “break”
“Thou shalt break H7489 them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psa 2:9 KJV)
However, in the Septuagint the same word is used to translate the Hebrew as is used in Revelation:
“You shall tend G4165 them with a rod of iron; as vessels of a potter you shall break them.” (Psalms 2:9 ABP)
This shows that John is most likely not trying to modify the original meaning of the verse. He is either quoting the Septuagint or (if it was written in Hebrew) he is most likely quoting the same Hebrew word in Psalms which got translated the exact same way. I think Herb’s point still stands in that breaking the nations could simply not refer to the people but to the power structure they serve.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV)
Herb goes on to say “if your interpretation of the book of revelation gives you a different picture of God than the picture of God you see in Jesus then choose Jesus and allow Jesus to recast and reframe how the book of Revelation is interpreted.”
John purposely lists the mourning of those invested in a way of life that is coming to an end and he purposely contrasts that with the rejoicing of the following of the lamb. Herb asks us which side we would be on if a great empire supporting our luxurious way of life falls. For instance, for Americans, who would you sympathize with? the fall of America (which is ultimately necessary for the Lamb’s kingdom to reign in the end) or will you rejoice because the Lamb’s kingdom has come?
Herb says we’ve started saying that the exceptions are the rule and that it’s not possible for most Christians to care for the poor and be pacifists because the teachings of Jesus are too radical and it’s only those who are called that are required.