Sunday, April 23, 2017

Acts Chapter 18: Visions Women in Leadership Nicolaitans

    1: After these things Paul departed from Athens and came to Corinth 2: And found a certain Jew named Aquila born in Pontus lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome and came to them 3: And because he was of the same craft he abode with them and worked for by their occupation they were tentmakers 4: And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks 5: And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia Paul was pressed in the spirit and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ 6: And when they opposed themselves and blasphemed he shook his raiment and said to them Your blood be upon your own heads I am clean from now on I will go to the Gentiles 7: And he departed from there and entered into a certain man's house named Justus one who worshipped God whose house joined hard to the synagogue 8: And Crispus the chief ruler of the synagogue believed on the Lord with all his house and many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized 9: Then spoke the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision Be not afraid but speak and hold not your peace 10: For I am with you and no one shall set on you to hurt you[1] for I have much people in this city 11: And he continued there a year and six months teaching the word of God among them 12: And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat 13: Saying This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law 14: And when Paul was now about to open his mouth Gallio said to the Jews If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness O you Jews reason would that I should bear with you 15: But if it be a question of words and names and of your law look you to it for I will be no judge of such matters 16: And he drove them from the judgment seat 17: Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes the chief ruler of the synagogue and beat him before the judgment seat And Gallio cared about none of those things 18: And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while and then took his leave of the brethren and sailed from there into Syria and with him Priscilla and Aquila having shorn his head in Cenchrea for he had a vow[2]  19: And he came to Ephesus and left them there but he himself entered into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews[3] 20: When they desired him to tarry longer time with them he consented not 21: But bid them farewell saying I must by all means keep this feast that comes in Jerusalem but I will return again to you if God wills And he sailed from Ephesus 22: And when he had landed at Caesarea and gone up and greeted the church he went down to Antioch 23: And after he had spent some time there he departed and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order strengthening all the disciples 24: And a certain Jew named Apollos born at Alexandria an eloquent man and mighty in the scriptures[4] came to Ephesus 25: This man was instructed in the way of the Lord and being fervent in the spirit he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord knowing only the baptism of John 26: And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard they took him to them and expounded to him the way of God more perfectly[5] 27: And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia the brethren wrote exhorting the disciples to receive him who when he was come helped them much who had believed through grace 28: For he mightily convinced the Jews and that publicly showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ[6]

[1] Even though Paul was bold, he had fears, just like everyone else. He had already been whipped (39 stripes), imprisoned, and stoned for the cause of Christ. God, in his infinite mercy, came to Paul in a vision to calm his fears. It is a sorry fact, that even though people must believe in the supernatural to even identify as Christians, God’s people are often taught to fear and shun the mystical which includes salvation itself, along with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, i.e., ministry gifts, the miraculous gifts, and fruits of the Spirit. This writer’s opinion is that this is done to empower the Nicolaitan-like, hierarchal, structure of all denominations and most churches. 

[2]  Paul consecrated himself to God by taking a Nazarite vow which is described as following:   Numbers 6:1 And YHWH spoke to Moses saying 2: Speak to the children of Israel and say to them When either a man or a woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite to separate themselves to YHWH 3: They shall separate themselves from wine and strong drink and shall drink no vinegar of wine or vinegar of strong drink neither shall they drink any liquor of grapes nor eat moist grapes or dried 4: All the days of their separation shall they eat nothing that is made of the vine tree from the kernels even to the husk 5: All the days of the vow of their separation there shall no razor come upon their heads until the days be fulfilled in the which they separate themselves to YHWH they shall be holy and shall let the locks of the hair of their heads grow 6: All the days that they separate themselves to YHWH they shall come at no dead body 7: They shall not make themselves unclean for their father or for their mother for their brother or for their sister when they die because the consecration of their God is upon their heads 8: All the days of their separation they are holy unto YHWH 9: And if any one die very suddenly by them and they have defiled the head of their consecration then they shall shave their heads in the day of their cleansing on the seventh day shall they shave it 10: And on the eighth day they shall bring two turtles or two young pigeons to the priest to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation 11: And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering and make an atonement for them for that they sinned by the dead and shall hallow their heads that same day 12: And they shall consecrate unto YHWH the days of their separation and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering but the days that were before shall be lost because their separation was defiled 13: And this is the law of the Nazarite when the days of their separation are fulfilled they shall be brought to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation 14: And they shall offer their offering to YHWH one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering and one ram without blemish for peace offerings 15: And a basket of unleavened bread cakes of fine flour mingled with oil and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil and their meat offering and their drink offerings 16: And the priest shall bring them before YHWH and shall offer their sin offering and their burnt offering 17: And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto YHWH with the basket of unleavened bread the priest shall offer also their meat offering and their drink offering 18: And the Nazarite shall shave the head of their separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation and shall take the hair of the head of their separation and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings 19: And the priest shall take the boiled shoulder of the ram and one unleavened cake out of the basket and one unleavened wafer and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite after the hair of their separation is shaved 20: And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before YHWH this is holy for the priest with the wave breast and heave shoulder and after that the Nazarite may drink wine 21: This is the law of the Nazarite who has vowed and of their offering to YHWH for their separation beside that that their hand shall get according to the vow which they vowed so they must do after the law of their separation.

[3] Because of his shaved head, the Jews could readily see that Paul had recently taken a Nazarite vow. The shaved head was therefore a holy thing to the Jews--not a fashion statement—as was the uncut hair of the Nazarite. Only those who had taken a Nazarite vow were forbidden to cut their hair, but only during the days of their vow—it did not matter whether they were men or women. Nowhere in the Bible are women commanded to allow their hair to grow or forbidden to cut their hair—both are associated with the holy vow of the Nazarite. Ezekiel wrote about people who did not know the difference between the holy and the profane. 

[4] To be “Mighty in the scriptures” consists not only of knowing the Word of God, but obeying the Word of God. Jesus said strength comes from being doers of the Word not hearers only. 

[5] Priscilla was teacher to this man, who was already a teacher and a preacher “mighty in the scriptures,” right along with Aquila. It is remarkable that this is the third-time Luke mentions Priscilla by her name. And in the previous mention, she was named first—before her husband. This was simply not done in ancient times, and rarely done now, even in modern times—unless it is a deliberate choice on the part of the writer—so it is certain that Luke (who was a Greek physician—the Greeks were even more misogynistic than the Jews) was deliberately challenging the gender biased social norms of his time by naming Priscilla at all, much less by naming her first in the previous mention.

[6] It was the scriptures of the Old Testament that he was expounding from. We should never cast aside the Old Covenant as irrelevant to New Testament Christianity as it was the Bible of the early Church. The Word of God is all one. Christians have a duty and high calling to know the Word of God—all of it. When Paul, in his letters to the churches, exhorted to study the scriptures, he was referring to the Hebrew scriptures of the Old Covenant (they had also been translated into Greek [the Septuagint—LXX]).

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Acts Chapter 17: No Human can Claim Headship

    1: Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia they came to Thessalonica where was a synagogue of the Jews 2: And Paul as his manner was went in to them and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures 3: Opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead and that this Iesous whom I preach to you is Christos 4: And some of them believed and consorted with Paul and Silas and of the devout Greeks a great multitude and of the chief women not a few 5: But the Jews which believed not moved with envy took to them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort and gathered a company and set all the city in an uproar and assaulted the house of Jason and sought to bring them out to the people 6: And when they found them not they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city crying These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also 7: Whom Jason has received and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar saying that there is another king one Jesus 8: And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city when they heard these things 9: And when they had taken security of Jason and of the other they let them go 10: And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night to Berea who coming there went into the synagogue of the Jews 11: These were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so[1] 12: Therefore many of them believed also of honorable women who were Greeks and of men not a few[2] 13: But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea they came there also and stirred up the people 14: And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea but Silas and Timotheus abode there still 15: And they that conducted Paul brought him to Athens and receiving a commandment to Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed they departed 16: Now while Paul waited for them at Athens his spirit was stirred in him when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry 17: Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews and with the devout persons and in the market daily with them that met with him 18: Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoicks encountered him And some said What will this babbler say other some He seems to be a setter forth of strange gods because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection 19: And they took him and brought him to Areopagus saying May we know what this new doctrine whereof you speak is 20: For you bring certain strange things to our ears we would know therefore what these things mean 21: For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing 22: Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill[3] and said You people of Athens I perceive that in all things ye are very superstitious 23: For as I passed by and beheld your devotions I found an altar with this inscription TO THE UNKNOWN GOD Whom therefore you worship in ignorance him declare I to you 24: God that made the world and all things therein seeing that he is Lord of Heaven and earth dwells not in temples made with hands 25: Neither is worshipped with audawm’s hands as though he needed anything seeing he gives to all life and breath and all things[4] 26: And has made of one blood all nations of awdawm for to dwell on all the face of the earth and has determined the times before appointed Acts 1:7 and the bounds of their habitation 27: That they should seek the Lord if perhaps they might reach for him and find him though he be not far from every one of us 28: For in him we live and move and have our beings as certain also of your own poets have said For we are also his offspring. 29: Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver or stone engraved by art and audawm’s device 30: And the times of this ignorance God winked at but now commands all people everywhere to repent 31: Because he has appointed a day Acts 1:7 in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained Revelation 20:11-15 whereof he has given assurance to all people in that he has raised him from the dead 32: And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead some mocked and others said We will hear you again of this matter 33: So Paul departed from among them 34: Howbeit certain ones clung to him, and believed among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them

[1] The scriptures they searched were the scriptures of the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms—what we know today as the Old Testament. The Old Covenant is not obsolete. All of the Law, all of the Prophets, speak of the redeeming work of the Messiah in the redemption of our souls, bodies, the earth, and entire universe (time, space, [all] matter, and energy). It is wrong for Christians to neglect the study of the Old Covenant. It is impossible to understand the New Covenant without the Old. When the New Testament Apostle penned the words, “Study to show yourself approved…,” He was referring to the Old Testament scriptures.
[2] The writer of the Book of Acts was a Roman physician. The Roman Empire was based on Greek culture, which was entirely androcentric (male-centered). Women were essentially invisible in that culture. Even in court cases, a woman’s name was rarely mentioned unless she was very notorious. So, it is noteworthy that this is the second mention in this chapter of the honorable “women.” In this last remark, the order is reversed with the women noted first and the men last. It is extraordinary for women to mentioned all in writings from any ancient culture, much less to be referenced before the men.
[3] Mar’s Hill was dedicated to idolatry and any and every strange god and doctrine that anyone wanted to set forth. It was a platform that Paul used to preach Christ, but it was certain he never lent his approval to Christians to model its over-all purpose.
[4] Headship is the ability to give life and breath to everything. Only Christ can claim Headship. No human can create and sustain life. Therefore, no human can claim Headship over anyone or anything. 

Additional commentary pending for this chapter. Questions and comments are welcome.