The Incarnation Was the Eternal Son’s Addition Not Subtraction

Christians are free to celebrate the anticipation of Christmas Day how they want. I have never really lit candles representing Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace but certainly don’t mind others doing so providing that they, hopefully in some way, think of the incarnation every day. That’s how I like to think of Christmas and Easter, not only on their accepted calendar dates. Initially, Advent referred to the Parousia, that is, the second advent of Jesus. This is what the first candle represents, I believe.

He conquered sin for us during the first advent, and also, of great importance, the cessation of accusation (Col. 1.20). In love, by dying for us, He diminished the enemy’s power: having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col. 2.14-15 NIV).

With the Advent season here, it is always edifying to think about the glorious fact that God became a man and was, as the hymnwriter so well puts it, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Here are 10 things we must know about the Incarnation: 1. The person…

As Advent Begins, Here are Ten Vital Truths About the Incarnation of Jesus — Southern Equip

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Herodians

“Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” (Mk. 8.15 NIV)

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Mt. 16.6 NIV)

Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Mt.16.12 NIV)

Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. (Lk. 12.1b NIV)


The Herodians probably belonged to the Sadducee Party since Herod appointed the High Priest of the Jews during the 1st century BCE and thus would have people loyal to him from this group. The Sadducees were the politicos of the Jewish nation, aristocratic and generally very wealthy. They were the collectors of taxes and controlled the concessions in the temple which sold the animals deemed “acceptable” for sacrifice. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection or an afterlife. They believed in free will and that rewards of fidelity to God were evident in tangible personal wealth. As far as authoritative textual adherence, they didn’t accept the Writings or Prophets but only the Torah as interpreted by the Jewish Scribes (Teachers of the Law). Jesus used their ‘basis of authority’ when He selectively used the Torah to defend the resurrection of the dead (see Mt. 22.23-33, Mk. 12. 18-27). Also, the Essenes (producers of the Dead Sea Scrolls) were probably a splinter group who broke off from the Sadducees and opposed them bitterly.


The Pharisees, on the other hand, were usually theologically opposed to the Sadducees, who, with them, made up the Sanhedrin, the Second Temple ruling council. They were punctilious observers of rules which were sometimes only traditions they had devised. They practiced strict separatism from whatever they deemed unholy or defiling. Jesus, in His first phase of ministry, was admired and accepted by them due to the compatibility of their general biblical viewpoints. The Pharisees held to a sort of religious democracy of all Jewish men and made much of the Synagogue as an institution. The Pharisees and Sadducees differed in theological views as seen by Acts 23.8: The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things. (NIV)

Scribes (Teachers of the Law)

The Teachers of the Law or Scribes (grammateis) were probably closely connected with the priests and Levites since they were the ones charged with keeping the texts of scripture (Dt. 17.18). These were a very literate and highly trained group of textual copyists and experts, probably cloistered somewhere in the 2nd Temple precincts or another secure building where scrolls could be safely stored. Also, Jesus used this same term in a positive manner describing New Covenant scholars: He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law [grammateus] who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Mt. 13.52 NIV).

The Diverse Groups Formed a Loose Confederation

Though these groups held varying religious viewpoints, it did not prevent them in joining together against mutual adversaries, especially Jesus who castigated their hypocrisy. Since the Herodians were aligned with the Sadducees, there exists no real contradiction between Matthew’s and Mark’s account (see featured scriptures above).

Though Jesus castigates them, this doesn’t mean that all members of these groups were opposed to Him. Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, according to all the Gospels, buried the crucified Jesus. Another member of this council, Nicodemus, also probably became a Jesus follower. Later, in the Early Church era, many of the priests probably saw, in Jesus, the ultimate fulfillment of the sacrifices and High Priesthood: The word of God increased and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly. A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6.7 WEB). Also, the Apostle Paul claimed he was still a Pharisee after many years of Christian missionary work (Acts 23.6).

Metaphorical Yeast: Teaching or Hypocrisy?

These groups’ teaching probably made them self-righteous and thus caused them to be hypocritical. Neither did they practice what they preached (see below). The Jewish Synagogue featured a centrally located bench (Moses’ Seat) where the teacher sat during the service. It seems, for the most part, that the Scribes and Pharisees generally controlled the synagogue: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Mt. 23.2-3 NIV). Also, Jesus, during the initial stages of His ministry, taught the people in His local synagogue: He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him (Lk. 4.16-17a NIV).

Another aspect that revealed their hypocrisy was wanting to receive human praise: “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others” (Mt. 23.5-7 NIV).

Everyone knows that yeast (probably a type of sourdough starter in the bible) causes bread to rise and thus gives a clue what the figure implies. Some commentators see the reference as a teaching that spreads, while others view it as a personal type of pride in the hypocrite. I tend to think of the figure referring to the hypocrite as being puffed up without denying that hypocrisy could rub off on others who followed their example. Generally though, in Jesus’ usage, it probably describes the legalistic performance pride of the groups He addresses.

These Jews’ linage as Sons of Abraham (who they were) or their keeping of regulations (what they did) puffed them up and caused them to look down on others. Maybe they thought that God was like a vending machine in which to deposit their tokens to receive the desired results. However, in their hearts it seems, they really had no desire to actually know Him. They manufactured a self-righteousness that made them proud.

In them, the Mosaic Law didn’t have its effect of exposing their sin and lostness: Now we know that whatever things the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God. Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3.19-20 WEB). Paul realized this truth retrospectively after his conversion to Christ: For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead (Rom. 7.7b-8 NIV). Also, the fact that scripture promises a new covenant (Jer. 31. 31-34) shows that the Mosaic Law was never designed to produce righteousness but instead expose human sin: For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people (Heb. 8.7-8a NIV).

The Law of Moses contained two components: 1.The law of commandments, 2. The sacrificial system. The commandment was holy, righteous and good (Rom.7.12), but when humans tried to perform it, they invariably failed. While the Burnt Offering in the sacrificial system indicated total devotion to God by Jesus, the sacrifices for sin and guilt were a provision which pictured Christ’s fulfilling the eternal blood covenant. The First Covenant worshipper, after realizing his guilt made evident by falling short of the commandment, could go to the priest and present a sacrifice and be forgiven. This system revealed Jesus’ ultimate death for human sin and thus was prophetic. These 2nd Temple religious leaders who sought their own righteousness through law-keeping were bound to fail since they were really hypocritical and unrighteous. Only Jesus kept the Law perfectly; thus, with its covenantal function fulfilled, The New Covenant through the Spirit is able to give a relationship with God: The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God (Heb. 7. 18-19 NIV).

An O.T. Example with Similar Features

The O.T. has a corollary of this “yeast.” Dt. 29. 18-19 is a hypothetical situation of a person or group having a poisonous root (bitter in KJV): Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison. When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry (NIV). The word “poisonous”/”bitter” reflects the idea that most poisons indicate their toxicity by bitterness, which is probably why the term was sometimes misunderstood, rendering various translations. This hypothetical “root” refers to living a double life (a plant’s root is not seen). This unseen root pictures hypocrisy since they are only pretending loyalty. Notice how they “invoke a blessing on themselves,” betraying the thought that they are more clever than the others. This is akin to metaphorical yeast which puffs up the one who has it.

Modern Manuscript Sleuths

Here is an example of detective work applied to a biblical manuscript. The video is a fascinating example of sleuthing just published Nov. 2021. Enjoy!

At the SBL Annual Meeting in San Diego I gave a presentation on Archaic Mark (GA 2427), “tying up some loose ends.” This paper was originally slotted for another day, but since the session was turned into a virtual one it was moved to Friday, and so I know some friends (like Jeff Cate) missed…

SBL Presentation on “Archaic Mark” (GA 2427) — Evangelical Textual Criticism

Salt Becoming Foolish-More Evidence: Luke 14.28-35

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (NIV)

Just recently I heard a message by a ministry I value highly. While they were very good in showing that disciples should not cover their light, they were erroneous, I believe, in saying that salt losing it’s flavor was impurities (sins) contaminating the salt so that it was no longer salty. This explication was from Mt. 5. 13-16, the Sermon on the Mount. This figure of impurities is a long-held explanation by the Christian Community of what salt losing it’s flavor meant in Jesus’ parable. This interpretation has never been satisfying or really explains the parable. Salt cannot, by experience or theory, lose it’s flavor. The Greek word that Jesus used means “become foolish” and has no other meaning. Therefore, the metaphor means “to apostatize.” Disciples will always have sins that need repentance but that doesn’t mean they are worthless and should be trampled on. No, the figure of salt refers to someone who has counted the cost and is “all in” to the Lord in discipleship. It is someone who is “wise to salvation,” opposite to those who made a false start and later turned to folly (moranthe-Mt. 5.13, Lk. 14. 34).

Jesus, undoubtedly, gave the parable about salt becoming foolish more than once. Luke records the saying on the heals of the teaching about discipleship. Disciples of Jesus need to even forsake their own lives and give up everything to follow Him. Luke has the saying immediately after the examples of a builder figuring the construction cost of a great project and a king going to war. A miscalculation by either of these two instances meant disaster. Jesus is warning potential followers the dangers of superficial discipleship. In essence, the parable of salt “losing its flavor” is echoed by Peter in 2Pet. 2. 20-22:

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”  and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

The Non-Salvific Benefits of Common Grace —

And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (Jn. 16.8-11 ESV).

Until I read this article, I was going to develop this section in Jn. 16 and argue that this a preparatory work of the promised Spirit on believers prior to their repentance. However, I concede the point to Dr. Goeman that this work of the Spirit refers to another aspect He accomplishes, namely, restraining evil on earth until He is taken out of the world: And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way (2Th. 2. 6-7 ESV). This is a work of common grace along with God giving “life and breath and everything” (Acts 17.25 ESV). God is accessible to all humans now on earth since the New Covenant is in effect where each person is able to have Christ as mediator: For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2.5 NLT).

The Pagan world used to worship idols, nature, or themselves. Since Christ’s sacrifice for sins, God now commands repentance from these idols since His judgment will be on the basis of having Jesus’ righteousness imputed to them by faith in Him: The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead (Acts 17. 30-31 ESV).

There are a variety of ways one could define common grace. In Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology, he defines common grace as “the grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation. Common refers to something that is common to all people and is not restricted to believers or…

The Non-Salvific Benefits of Common Grace —

The Context of The Parable of The Good Samaritan Misunderstood

The most important aspect, I believe, of the account of the expert of the Mosaic Law asking Jesus point blank what one needed for eternal life most Christians miss. I just surveyed five sermons by good Evangelicals and they all missed this important point. Granted, they all gave other points and drew lessons from the parable of The Good Samaritan which were admirable and relevant. The preachers missed the theological big picture which tells about the Old and New Covenants contained in the context before Jesus gives the parable itself. While there are good lessons from the parable, the context reveals the greater bible story of redemption which is not to be missed.

“Do This and You Will Live”

The existential hope of humanity is eternal life; everything else is just window dressing. Paul tells us in Titus 1.2 that God promised humans eternal life before time began (in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot not lie, promised before time eternal). In my conception, this promise had to have subjects that it was promised to, and therefore, the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden is the most likely referent. In mercy, God took away access to fallen Adam and Eve lest they be forever fixed in unrighteousness. In the Book of Revelation, Christians are promised access to the Tree of Life, that is, those who overcome (2.7) and those who have washed their robes (22.14). In one sense, Christians now possess this life (Jn. 3.16 and many other verses), and, it seems, a future formal confirmation is in view when they partake of this tree in heaven.

The Law given through Moses offered a second chance for eternal life: Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord (Lev. 18.5 NET). But what happened when a person would try to keep them (in their own strength)? They would fail miserably, as everyone knows experientially, who have ever tried. Notice Paul’s recounting of his effort: For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting (Rom.7.7b-8a NIV). Also, he says: and the power of sin is the law (1Cor. 15.56b NIV). Therefore, no one will be declared righteous by any type of performance on their part whether it is doing (or not doing something) or being something (or not another thing).

Most of the Jewish Bible (the O.T.) involves the Mosaic Law and the subsequent human failure to achieve it. This is, of course, by design. Paul reveals who the promise of eternal life (by keeping the commandments) referred to in Gal. 3.19a: Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. (NIV) This tells us that God’s promise in Lev. 18.5 (Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord. NIV) was for the purpose of living with God forever, salvation. Paul just quoted this verse in Gal. 3.12 and indicated that this formula, if you will, summed up the path to acceptance with God in the Old Covenant. In verse 19, Paul reveals who the promise ultimately was for, Jesus.

The Message to the Insincere

Returning to the context of the Good Samaritan, Jesus answered point blank in Lk. 10. 28: “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” (NIV). Jesus has affirmed the Mosaic Lawyer’s answer when the expert quoted Dt.6.5 and Lev.19.18 which summed up the 10 Commandments: Love for God and man (Lk. 10. 27). Jesus couldn’t answer in any other way since it was a malicious test by this Teacher of the Law. If He didn’t answer, it would be considered a dodge. This was a hostile encounter and Jesus refused to engage him except to give the parable of The Good Samaritan, which probably stunned the lawyer.

Notice, also, the account of “The Rich Ruler” in Lk. 18. 18-25. The question to Jesus was: Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (vs. 18 NIV). Jesus referred him to the commandments toward others in the Decalogue. That this rich ruler did not really keep them is the obvious point of that encounter. But the greater point is, that, when asked, Jesus returned to the scripture’s promise given in Lev. 18.5: Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord. (NIV)

The Temporal Promise of Long Life in The Land

Yes, there also was a general promise of keeping the Law’s commandments (which included the sacrificial aspects) that promised long life in the Land of Israel. These sacrificial observances portrayed how humans would be redeemed and needed to serve as pictures of Christ’s sacrifice. These pictures of redemption functioned as an illustration of forgiveness through sacrifice which was instituted from the time of Gen. 3.15. In the Mosaic Law the sacrificial system greatly expanded to show the different aspects of Christ’s atoning work. Without citing a specific reference, since there are so many, the Book of Hebrews portrays both Christ’s superior High Priesthood and His multifaceted sacrificial fulfillment. Therefore, if Israel was faithful as God’s priests they would dwell long in the land. The following is how some of that worked itself out.

The many regulations of what Moses received served different purposes. By far, the most regulations concerned the details of the priesthood, the sacrifices, and the Temple worship and everything associated with it including the times of these observances. The Three Yearly Festivals were prophetic for how humans would be redeemed “in the fullness of time” (Gal. 4.4). Passover is when Christ died similar to The Lamb’s blood applied to the wooden doorposts and lintel of the Hebrews rescued from Egypt. A foreshadowing of the cross. The two leavened loafs offered at Shavuot (Pentecost) probably referred to Judah and Israel. Jer. 31. 31: The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah (NIV). How was this fulfilled? Since it was required for every Jewish male “to appear before the Lord” at the Three Yearly Festivals, the Spirit was conveniently given on the Pentecost 50 days after Christ’s crucifixion. At the time of the morning sacrifice the 120 Disciples received a miraculous sign and then preached to Jews at this festival, who consisted of the twelve tribes the Judah and Israel of Jer.31.31. Notice how there were added about 3000 from all the Diaspora who heard their native language being spoken. Many were from areas that Israel were taken when that Kingdom fell in 722 B.C.E. Of course many Israelites were able to return earlier and some Israelites also escaped to Judah or the surrounding territory at the time of the Assyrian deportation.

The Temple, High Priest, and Sacrifice Forecast the Messiah

Most of the Mosaic Law was about how the people could be cleansed of their sin from not keeping the Law. The Temple’s function served as a picture of Christ’s sacrifice for sins. The blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins (Heb. 10.4) but they forecast what Christ would do it in a multitude of ways. The Burnt Offering indicated completely being given to God which Christ fulfilled and Christians emulate by being living sacrifices and taking up their cross. The Sin and Guilt Offering involved a person laying their hand upon the animal’s head and confessing their sin in a personal manner. In sum, both the O.T. and the Book of Hebrews picture the sacrifice of Jesus. No wonder Hebrews 10.7 could quote Ps. 40. 7: Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, my God (NIV).

Jesus was Correct in Naming Abiathar as High Priest-Mk. 2.26

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” (Mk. 2.25-6 NIV)

But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. (Num. 18.7a NIV)

Some notable theologians have thought that Jesus was mistaken when He named Abiathar the Jewish High Priest (Mk. 2.25-6) while, at the incident of David getting the priest’s bread, Abimelek was the actual one in office (1Sam. 21&22). However, Jesus was not wrong in His designation of High Priest for at least two reasons.

First, Jesus could have been speaking of the general timeframe by the use of the Greek epi. Although technically Abimelek was High Priest, his son Abiathar was the only one who escaped slaughter by Doeg at the command of King Saul. Abiathar took the ephod of the priesthood by which David consulted God’s will in 1Sam. 23. 9-11 (which service was open to only the High Priest-Num. 27.20-1). Abiathar served as priest to David while both were hiding out from Saul. When David became king, Abiathar was formally installed as High Priest. Therefore, Jesus was right to say that he was High Priest during this time.

The second reason why Jesus was correct in naming Abiathar the High Priest, was that all the High Priest’s sons were “alternates” for the service of High Priest. If at anytime the High Priest would have become ritually defiled (and there were numerous ways of defilement), then one of his sons would step in and perform the requirements of this priesthood. One of these timely requirements was the yearly Yom Kippur sacrifice and entering into the Most Holy Place of the Jewish Temple to sprinkle the atoning blood. That the sons of the High Priest were authorized to perform this ritual (as an “alternate”), is seen in Num. 18.7 where the sons are included in the ministering “(literally: “behind the veil”).

The Physical Aspect of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5.1, Lk. 6.17)

Not a single artist, that I have witnessed, has accurately reproduced the scene of the Sermon on the Mount (or Plain). This maybe not a big deal to most readers but, I believe, it illustrates how readers often miss fine points that are clearly in the text. Some might even come to the bible and think a contradiction occurs between “mountain” and “plain.” However, by knowing something of amphitheaters and especially those during that time and preserved until today, readers are able to reconcile both Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts.

Almost everyone knows the audio effect of amplification of sound in an arena, and especially, in a stone arena. This effect was known during the time of Jesus as witnessed by the preserved amphitheaters across the Mediterranean World. A person can talk at normal volume at the base or field while someone in the top seats is able to hear them clearly, while the converse is not true. Therefore, illustrations showing Jesus on a hilltop speaking to those below Him are erroneous. Some also think it is forbidden to depict Jesus regardless whether accurately or not. That opinion may be valid, but, that topic is not the focus of this post. I want to clear up whether the discourse happened on the mountain (Matthew) or a plain (Luke), or, if both could be right.

This physical effect, I believe, may be seen by comparing the texts of Matthew and Luke. Also, the reason why different words (“mountain,” “plain”) were chosen by these authors. Matthew (5.1) records that Jesus went up on a mountain without specifying that He went to the top of it. The NIV at this point states “mountainside” as a possible explanation, or, to rightly harmonize with Luke’s account in 6.17a. Jesus probably went to the top initially according to Luke 6.12: One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God (NIV). Here, I believe, the NIV translates the Greek term “mountain” (oros in both Mt. and Lk.) as “mountainside” without warrant. Later, in 6.17a, the Greek term for descent (katabas) is used to designate going down to a suitable place where His voice could be heard: He went down with them and stood on a level place (NIV).

Could Jesus have prayed on a mountainside and then went lower to a suitable place? This idea is not likely, since, almost universally it seems, that ancient worship centers were at “high places.” Worshippers recognizing that God was in heaven, and wanting to find the closest proximity to Him, would use the highest place. Therefore, it seems best to read the accounts as Jesus praying all night at the top and then later finding a natural hollow or meadow on the mountainside. Apparently, Jesus stood at the base of this inclined plain with listeners finding higher elevations to hear His teaching.

Furthermore, the texts of Mk. 4.1 and Lk. 5.3 has Jesus getting into a boat to teach the crowds. This same physical effect of amplification was probably at play since the lowest point would have been on the surface of the water while the surrounding shore elevated. Also, in this case, the water may have aided the reflection of the sound for all the crowd to hear what He was saying.

Adam as Mediator

Your First Father Sinned and Your Mediator Rebelled Against Me (Is. 43.27 my translation)

Tucked into Isaiah 43, God reminds the transgressors in Israel that the head of the human race fell from original innocence, and therefore Adam’s progeny inherited his sin and guilt.

Most English versions translate this verse differently but without warrant. For example, the NET, ESV, and NIV all render the second clause plural, such as “those” or “mediators.” This is surely wrong, since the noun is a masculine singular in the second clause, the same number as the noun in the first clause, which all versions correctly translate as “father,” a singular. Therefore, it is a restatement of the same reference to one person, Adam. Some versions, including the NET, translate the first clause as “father of the nation,” which is erroneous since the text clearly terms this individual as “first.” The text does not have any reference to “nation,” therefore, it’s unwarranted. Abraham, though needing redemption, was not known as either a mediator or someone rebelling against God. Abraham, while not perfect, is always held up in the text of scripture as commendable. Therefore, only Adam fits the bill of whom the text refers, the only one who was the first father.

Like Adam they transgressed the covenant, in it they dealt treacherously with Me (Hos. 6.7-my paraphrasing)

In Hosea 6, Adam is named as a transgressor of a covenant, the prohibition to not partake of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Some versions want to make the verse say something else, since their theological commitment won’t allow this idea of a covenant with Adam since it isn’t explicit in Genesis. The NET bible has “at Adam,” as if Hosea is referring to a place name. There may have been a city called “Red,” (the same word as “Adam”) at the confluence of the Jabbok and Jordan Rivers, but the reference in Hosea hardly makes any historical sense, since no record of a major transgression, by Israel, is recorded as occurring at that place. As in the Isaiah passage, the most logical view is that the reference points to the first man who sinned. This is the logical rendering and reference.

Of a truth, only this have I found, God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. (Ecc. 7.29-my paraphrasing)

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon also references Adam, since no one else was made upright. Solomon characterizes all of Adam’s progeny as scheming in their transgressions.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned. (Rom.5.12 NIV)

Paul affirms, in Rom. 5.12, that everyone has sinned. How and when did humanity sin? I contend that it was when Adam sinned in Gen. 3.6: She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened (Gen. 3.6b-7a NIV). The text states that it was only after Adam ate the fruit that the eyes of both of them were opened. In 1 Tim. 2.14, Paul acknowledges that Eve sinned first, but elsewhere scriptures maintain humanity did not fall in Eve but only when Adam transgressed: And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner (NIV).

All humanity was contained in Adam, naturally. Humans are all related to each other, as extended cousins, if you will: From one man he made all the nations (Acts 17.26a NIV). The biblical concept of natural containment is explicated in Heb. 7.9-10: One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor (NIV). Therefore, humanity sinned when Adam sinned.

The idea of “containment” is not so much a universal governing principle such that all of a person’s ancestral sins are what is counted on a person’s record. Romans 5.12-21 speaks of “one” act of Adam and not the continuing acts of subsequent generations. Some will caricature this idea of Seminal Headship but the conception answers many of the bible’s thorniest issues. Adam was presented with a choice for a specific time, a probation if you will. After failing the test, a new remedy was introduced in the form of Federal Headship of Christ presented, I would say, in the promise of Gen. 3.15. I used to hold the double Federal view, but the Natural Headship view (the old term is Seminal) answers questions such as why the Israelites were punished for the acts of their ancestors, at least, some times. For instance, one reason for the Babylonian Exile was that the Jubilee Rest went unheeded for hundreds of years, and yet, the previous generations were not judged for it but only those who went into captivity. Also, the principle answers why Christ had to be born of a virgin. I can think of no other reason than guilt being transferred through the male contribution in natural procreation.

This one time test, and sin, is what Rom. 5.12 affirms, by using the Aorist tense for the Greek word for “sinned.” Grammatically, this Aorist indicates an action at a definitive point in time or, looking at it another way, as a whole. All humans sinned at the point when Adam transgressed in his mediatorial function for them, since all were contained in this “spokesman” (Is. 43.27).

Christ’s Gift Compared to Adam’s Sin

Romans 5 explicates the mediator function of both Adam and Jesus. In some ways, both mediators’ acts were similar in the sense that their acts held ramifications for a wider group. However, Adam has a natural and physical connection to all humanity, while Christ’s atonement for His sheep is representative and not physical. It is an adoption of people alienated from Him.

Rom. 5.18 says that Adam’s trespass caused condemnation to pass to all of humanity, while Christ’s redemptive sacrifice gave justification and life to all (to all who trust Him without distinction). Also, the disobedience of Adam made many (all humans in this case) sinners, while Christ’s obedience made many (all who trust Him) righteous, at least in a judicial standing with potentiality of practical righteousness (Rom. 5.19).

Just as there are similarities between mediatorial acts, so contrasts exist since the gift is not like the trespass in the results obtained from them. On one hand, Adam’s progeny received the governance (reign) of condemnation and death. Christ’s act, on the other hand, gave a reign of righteousness in life. While one act of Adam caused many resultant transgressions in his progeny, Christ’s one act erased all the sins of many Christians:

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Rom. 5.15-17 NIV).

You Thought the “I Am” was Altogether Like You-Ps. 50.21

When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you. (Ps. 50.21 NIV)

To the superficial religious folks of Asaph’s day a judgment was soon to arrive. To regard God as just an enhanced version of oneself is the typical view of those who know not God. In reality, to those who know Him, God is indescribably higher than the heavens in majesty and scale. When God created man in His image, it wasn’t a miniature of Himself. Image and likeness is limited along certain lines or aspects, I believe, such as the capacity for fellowship and worship of Him. At Adam’s fall, this image was lost to some degree, and humans began to regress to resemble the animals in behavior and moral values.

God’s Image restored in Christians

While Christians still retain “the old man” (literal translation of Eph. 4.22 and Col. 3.9) they also possess a new creation from God, the new man: and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Col. 3.10 NIV). This reality of the old and new self becomes the internal race and struggle for believers in Jesus, as seen in Paul’s exhortation of 1Cor. 9. 24-27:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Top Ten Discoveries Related to Joshua and the Conquest

Here is an impressive array of archeological evidence that lends credence to the biblical record. The early date for the Exodus, I believe, is very plausible. Enjoy!

Bible Archaeology Report

The books of Joshua and Judges describe the settlement of the Israelites in the Promised Land. Some have suggested the archaeological evidence does not support the biblical description of the conquest of Canaan in the 15th century BC1. This can be based on a faulty reading of the biblical text, expecting widespread destruction throughout the region and instantaneous new cultural remains signalling the arrival of the Israelites. Numerous scholars have noted that the Israelites did not immediately take over the entire land, destroy all the cities, re-build their own cities and establish their own distinct, material culture.2 Kenneth Kitchen, for example states, “The book of Joshua in reality simply records the Hebrew entry into Canaan, their base camp at Gilgal by the Jordan, their initial raids (without occupation!) against local rulers and subjects in south and north Canaan, followed by localized occupation (a) north from Gilgal…

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Jacob and His Family’s Complexities — Thoughts on Scripture

Genesis 46’s presentation of Jacob’s family tree is a remarkable composition. One of its lists contains an unusual sub-total, which is typically dismissed as an artefact of incompatible traditions, yet is clearly no accident. Its purpose is to draw us into the text and to prompt us to consider its many numerical properties, which embody…

Jacob and His Family’s Complexities — Thoughts on Scripture

Everybody Knows the Secret, Everybody Knows the Score

Presence of the Lord

By Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood

I have finally found a way to live just like I never could before
I know that I don’t have much to give, but I can open any door
Everybody knows the secret, everybody knows the score
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I have finally found a way to live in the colour of the Lord

I have finally found a place to live just like I never could before
And I know I don’t have much to give, but soon I’ll open any door
Everybody knows the secret, everybody knows the score

I have finally found a place to live, oh, in the presence of the Lord
In the presence of the Lord

I have finally found a way to live, just like I never could before
And I know I don’t have much to give, but I can open any door
Everybody knows the secret, I said everybody knows the score
I have finally found a way to live in the colour of the Lord
In the colour of the Lord

Romans 1.19-20

Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

The ‘tenor of scripture’ implies everyone knows God. Humans do not need to analyze the world to find God. Here is an excerpt of a sermon by Douglas Douma ( who expounds this idea:  

I. All men know God. (vs. 19-22)

Paul begins this passage with some very interesting statements about man’s knowledge of God.

His claim is that there are no atheists! Though there are some people who profess to be atheists, Paul tells us that in truth all men know God. But in their sin, men suppress their knowledge of God.

But HOW do all men know God? We haven’t seen him, so how can we be sure that he exists?

Paul says, “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world.”

Some theologians have held that Paul is essentially stating a form of what has been known as “The Design Argument for the Existence of God.”

The Design Argument is essentially that since the universe appears to have design to it, it must have a Designer; there must be a God.

Thomas Aquinas, the great Catholic theologian, held this view. He basically borrowed it from the Pagan Aristotle. Some Protestants have also held this view. The most famous representative is William Paley and his “Watchmaker Argument.” Paley contended that just as when you find a complex watch on the ground and make the inference that it was made by a designer, so when you see the complex universe around you, you can correctly infer that a God designed it.

So this is one view of what Paul is saying in Romans 1:20 when he writes, “God’s invisible attributes have been clearly perceived, ever since the beginning of the world.”

There has been a long history of debate, however, on the validity of such “Design arguments.” And there may even be good reason to think there are flaws in the argument.

Fortunately, there is, I think, a better view of what Paul is saying. Rather than understanding Paul to be saying “When you look at nature you come to know God” I think he is best understood as saying “YOU ALREADY KNOW GOD, and so when you look at nature, you can understand that He is the cause of it all.”

This may be a surprising thing to hear. Rather than making arguments for the existence of God, many Reformed theologians argue that the Bible teaches that we are BORN with a knowledge of God. It is INNATE in our minds. Similarly, the law of God is “written on our hearts.”

It is because we retain an element of God’s Image in us that we know God already. We know him innately, or as John Calvin says we have the “sense of the divine,” the “sensus divinitatus” and thus when we look at nature, already knowing God in our minds, we attribute the great things we see to His power.

b. Therefore, all men are without excuse. (vs. 20b)

Therefore, as we continue in Paul’s argument, since all men are born with a knowledge of God, and understand his power to be evident in the world, all men are without excuse when they do not worship or obey Him.

God is even known to those who are born blind, because knowledge of God is within all men from birth. Therefore, there is no excuse.

You may have had someone question you, “What about the man who lives on a far away island, and has never heard of the Bible, shouldn’t he be given a pass by God if he does not believe?”

How do you think Paul would answer?

He would say “By no means!” [one of his favorite phrases] Because all men — even those on far away islands — are born with a knowledge of God, they are without excuse.

As will become a stronger and stronger theme as we continue in the book of Romans, no one is righteous. All people need the grace of God for salvation. They need his righteousness as a gift to them.

II. All men are unrighteousness.

So, knowing there is a God, but then ignoring Him and acting according to one’s own desires, the unrighteousness of man is clearly seen.

The Jubilee Trumpet of Liberty

You shall count off seven Sabbaths of years, seven times seven years; and there shall be to you the days of seven Sabbaths of years, even forty-nine years. Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. You shall make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee to you; and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. (Lev. 26.8-10 WEB)

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed (1Cor. 15.52 WEB).

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first (1Th. 4.16 WEB)

With the aforementioned verses I suggest that the promised return of the Lord occurs, prophetically, at Yom Kippur and not Yom Teruah. By seeing the Jubilee trumpet as the “last trumpet,” which it appears to be in the prophetic year, a better fit is achieved. The Yom Teruah commemoration is on the first day of the seventh month while Yom Kippur falls on the 10th day of the same month. Therefore, if it is the “last trumpet,” then it must be the proclamation of liberty associated with the Jubilee observance. This releasing of those in bondage to their inheritance seems to be an accurate fulfillment of the concept of the Lord returning to give final salvation (soterion): so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, without sin, to those who are eagerly waiting for him for salvation (Heb. 9.28 WEB).

All Who Came Before Me were Thieves and Robbers-Jn. 10.8

Many folks are confused by this statement of Jesus in Jn. 10.8. Reading only the Old Testament, readers are puzzled by the reference that it somehow cites biblical characters. The solution to this designation of “robbers” is to see Jesus pointing to the politicos found in the time between the Testaments. Here is a podcast previewing an upcoming publication, by George Athas, which deals with this time of 2nd Temple Judaism. The producers of the podcast should have cited Jn. 10.8 but they missed the opportunity. I plan to purchase the book and read it with a grain of salt. What follows is a critique based upon the transcript of the podcast, so, forgive me if the flow seems disjointed.

I do not agree necessarily with all of George’s premises, especially the time of writing Ecclesiastes, which is no more pessimistic than the rest of scripture, and optimistic overall, and Daniel. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes as the book affirms in ch. 1. The bible does not have a problem with different names for one person, but, it seems, historians do. The traditional (about 530 B.C.E.) dating of the book of Daniel is mostly controversial for those who don’t believe in the detailed prophecy of Ch. 11. If it’s not prophetic, then it’s fraudulent. The premise of the chapter is that God is providential and sovereign in His dealings. My later paragraph further supports the traditional compositional date of Daniel.

Neither do I think that the Jewish Priesthood were employees of the Davidic Kings. This idea is just not found in either Kings or Chronicles, as Athas affirms. Yes, there was a unique connection between the Davidic Kingship and Jewish Priesthood, but, in very complex and prophetic ways, was grounded in the promise of the Messiah from the line of David (the Davidic Covenant- 2Sam. 7). He would be the One joining the two offices together in His person (see Zech. 6.13).

Also, while the 12 Minor Prophets might have been further copied and compiled in one folder during this period, they were written in their historical setting, and, I would argue, known and read among the Jewish Priests and people from that time. Also, as is mentioned in the podcast (or transcript-with a few mistakes), there were rival priests in the group known as the Essenes who kept the word of God. These Essenes observed a time span found in the book of Daniel (Dan. 9.24-27) as the “10 Jubilees” (Some think Daniel speaks of the 70 weeks and calculate 490 years but that is ignoring the Jubilees. This prophecy probably included the Jubilee as noted in the first 7-week reference- a period of Jubilee. One of the reasons for the Babylonian Exile was the ignoring of Jubilee Observance). These Essenes were looking for Melchizedek to return, or One like Him, as we know from the N.T., who would be incarnated, and thus “in the line of Melchizedek” since becoming flesh. Both Melchizedek who met Abraham and the Word are one and the same in my view. This view of the 10 Jubilees makes Daniel, the book, more likely being composed and published before Daniel’s death about 530 B.C.E. since they were following a dating scheme lasting nearly 500 years.

The synagogue also, while more formally established, during this timeframe between Malachi and Matthew, had its roots during the time of Wilderness Wanderings under Moses. God told Moses that the Levites would not have a territory but scattered in Israel according to Jacob’s prophecy (Gen. 49.5-7). The priests also had cities taken from the other tribes where they lived and taught the people (more or less) on the weekly Sabbath days. One of the functions of the priests was to teach the Israelites the intricacies of the Law, and therefore, in embryonic form, the Synagogue (on the Sabbath), more or less, was present very early on without an overt mention. So, in this conception about the Synagogue origin, I do not totally agree with Dr. Athas.

With these qualifications, I am happy to pass on this podcast (or transcript):

They, Them, Godself? Human Pronouncements and Divine Pronouns — CBMW

The pronoun is a basic concept of grammar first learned by intuition and later catalogued by name in the elementary years. Yet today it dominates much of our national conversation. In the aftermath of the ongoing LGBT revolution, many have had to grapple with the “preferred pronoun,” an unsettling if uncertain neologism. Until very recently,…

They, Them, Godself? Human Pronouncements and Divine Pronouns — CBMW

Balthasar Hubmaier

The best Reformer, in my view, was Balthasar Hubmaier. Though, while still a Roman Catholic early in his career, he, unfortunately persecuted Jews banishing them and burning their synagogue. Later, he disputed with Zwingli holding to Believer’s Baptism which Zwingli rejected. Zwingli had him tortured and coerced Hubmaier to recant, which, after leaving Zwingli’s jurisdiction, he bemoaned and repented of his weakness.

Eventually, Hubmaier was burned at the stake while his wife had a stone tied to her and drowned as mockery against baptism. Here is a short paper about the most educated Protestant Reformer:

The Supremacy of Scripture —

High up on the list of some of my life’s greatest ministry privileges has been the opportunity to serve at Placerita Bible Church for twenty-four years as a lay elder. During that time I have been allowed to share the pulpit ministry many times. Reformation Sunday 2021 (October 31) was the most recent such opportunity.…

The Supremacy of Scripture —

1778 Hophra Stele – Royal Privy – Temple Mount Cisterns with Clyde Billington — TB&TS

Hophra Stele Only six pharaohs are named in the Old Testament and the name of one of the six has turned up on a stele (inscribed stone slab) that was found in an Egyptian farmers field. This is the cover story on the autumn issue of ARTIFAX, our biblical archaeology newsmagazine. And it’s also the […]

1778 Hophra Stele – Royal Privy – Temple Mount Cisterns with Clyde Billington — TB&TS

The Covering of the Upper Lip (Mouth) During Plague-Lev. 13.45

“The leper in whom the plague is shall wear torn clothes, and the hair of his head shall hang loose. He shall cover his upper lip, and shall cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ (NIV)

Clearly, the covering of the upper lip involved the whole mouth where the covering would lessen others being infected. The priest would examine the subject and rule for quarantines if the situation warranted. These instructions were directly given by God through Moses to abate the spread of disease in Israel. It seems that more than a few Christians could learn this lesson.

Biblical Prayers

Its good to look at the Psalms for prayers and also at the beginning of Paul’s Epistles. This way, prayers are biblically inspired-what was on the heart of the biblical writers and recorded for us. The first chapter of Ephesians gives a prayer that Paul prayed for the early Christians whose faith Paul only heard about (Eph. 1.15). Also, in the whole of “Ephesians” Paul doesn’t acknowledge anyone or offer any personal greetings. This seems very odd for Paul who ministered among the Ephesians for almost 3 years and is out of step with his usual personal manner. I believe this epistle is addressed to the Laodiceans.

Anyway, Paul prays that God would give the readers and hearers of this church the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation that they would know Him better (Jesus). This connects with Isaiah 11.2 which Paul was referencing, the seven-fold Spirit of God which the Book of Revelation also speaks about. We need God’s Spirit illuminating His word to Know Him better. Also, we need enlightenment about our hope to which we are called in order to focus on what is important in life since our long home with God is what matters. Now remains Faith, Hope, and Love (1Cor. 13.13). Most Christians don’t focus on Hope enough, I believe. Here is the prayer:

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened – so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. (Eph. 1.17-19 NET)

Also, compare Paul’s prayer for the Colossians in Col. 1.9-12, which gives very similar concepts. Paul wanted the churches to read and compare both letters (Colossians and Ephesians) to better grasp the meanings (Col. 4.16). Here is the Colossian prayer:

For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects – bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. (NET)

Notice the key elements: spiritual understanding, knowledge of God, and power of God for patient endurance.

Seeking a Better Country

Life is one long, steady disappointment. This dawns on most people by their thirties. Childhood is all potentiality. The teenage years are all angst—but even angst betrays some hope, since it is only quiet outrage that things could be better. A person can still carry into his twenties the illusion that the world will soon…

A Theology of Disappointment — Southern Equip

Jesus Barleycorn Must Die

Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. (Jn. 12.24 WEB)

But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then those who are Christ’s, at his coming. (1Cor. 15.20-23 WEB)

I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Rev. 1.18 WEB)

It had taken about sixteen centuries for the concept of “John Barleycorn” to be more or less a confused drinking song, though John Burn’s rendition still retained some Christian elements. I say confused since, if he is a corn (individual grain), he cannot be cut off at the knees. The song in Burn’s version switches from the grain of barley to the straw that holds up many grains in the head of barley. Also, if the farmer doesn’t retain some grain then he will not see the sprout from the ground for the next crop. The original parable gives a clear meaning applicable and fulfilling of a prior prophetic figure.

I am not against alcohol production, of course, it is one way to preserve an annual fruit or cereal crop and has the blessing of God. One could almost say that alcohol is the drug of Jews and Christians since it is featured in some of their observances. Careful moderation is the key for enjoying many of the good fruits given by God.

All the English translations of Jn. 12.24 that I have seen render sitou (sitos) as “wheat.” However, a careful student of scripture will translate it “barley.” The Koine Greek word sitos can refer to any cereal grain. So, why should it be translated “barley” in this instance? The rationale for “barley” comes from the “First Fruits” that were waved before the Lord during Passover. The first sheaves of barley in the Land of Israel ripened, presumably, around the area of the Jewish Temple (or possibly Southern Judah where barley was typical). The ripening or readiness of the barley (the Aviv) determined the start of the Israelite calendar year. The Jewish calendar was based on a lunar cycle which needed an intercalary month every few years. If the barley was not ready by the turn of the yearly cycle, an intercalation was necessary.

The first Redemptive Feast of the Jews was Passover starting on the 14th day of the first month (hence the ripening of the barley determined when the Passover would be held). Passover consisted of a cluster of observances: The Festival of Unleavened Bread, the sacrifice of the Lamb, and the waving of First Fruits (In this case, barley. The wheat harvest occurred later in the Spring when its First Fruits would be waved during the second Redemptive Festival of Shavuot-Pentecost, 50 days later.). Therefore, Jesus’ reference to grain in Jn. 12.24 should be “barley.”

The waving of the barley sheaf (First Fruits) was on the first Sunday after Passover (the day Christ arose becomes The Lord’s Day). Paul identifies Christ as these “First Fruits” in 1Cor. 15, the great resurrection chapter of the Christian faith.

Returning to John 12. 24, Jesus states His necessary death to redeem humanity, as well as the necessity of His disciples to die to themselves for them, in turn, to be fruitful. Technically speaking, Jesus didn’t need to die after becoming flesh (Jn. 1.14) since He was “The Author of Life” (Acts 3.15) . However, this great act of love and self-sacrifice ensured His bringing many to glorification (Heb. 2.10). He was “The Living One” who died voluntarily and who now has the keys of death and Hades to give eternal life to all who believe on Him (Rev. 1.18).

The Relationship Between Faith and Works

The Christian’s authentic service to God flow from their new nature. They are children of God and resemble Him in their attitudes and actions. “We love, because He first loved us.” Here is an article which expresses the roles of faith and disciple well.

The Dark Side of Self-Discipline

Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Slavery

Here is a study of some forms of slavery and their rationale in ancient times. This study does not examine ancient Greek or Roman slavery, for which we also have abundant literature, nor the slavery occurring among the Israelites. Israelite slavery was probably adopted, in part, from the surrounding cultural milieu in which they interacted. This topic of Israelite slavery could be studied more thoroughly, it seems. Nevertheless, the geographical aspect of Israel was a land bridge, a choke point, between the two great fertile areas in the Mediterranean World. The Fertile Crescent wasn’t a crescent at all. It mostly resembled the shape of a dumbbell. God had placed Israel in the center of all the turmoil and action of the ancient world ( Ezekiel 5.5). In many ways, Israel benefitted and, to a degree, controlled the overland trading routes. The powerful and independent Kingdom of Tyre saw this lucrative opportunity when Israel fell to the Babylonians (Ezekiel 26.2). Tyre already controlled the sea routes and, with the addition of this land bridge, would have a monopoly on that region’s trade. All this historical information serves as a backdrop helping readers make sense of the message of the bible.

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