Monday, November 6, 2017

Ephesians Chapter 6: Slavery Spiritual Warfare Masculinity

       1: Children obey your parents[1] in the Lord for this is right 2: Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with [that includes a] promise 3: That it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth[2] 4: And fathers provoke not your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord 5: Slaves obey lords according to the flesh with fear and trembling[3] in singleness of your hearts as [to] Christ 6: Not with eye-service as men-pleasers but as the servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart 7: With good will doing service as to the Lord and not to men 8: Knowing that whatsoever good thing each one does the same shall they receive of the Lord whether slave or free[4] 9: And lords do the same to them leave off threatening knowing that your same Lord also is in heaven neither is there respect of persons with him[5] 10: Finally my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might[6] 11: Put on the whole armor of God that you may be powerful to stand against the methods and trickery [methodeia] of diabolos[7] 12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood[8] but against principalities [ἀρχάς archas] [9] against powers [ἐξουσίας exousia][10] against the rulers of the darkness of this world[11] against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies[12] 13: Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all[13] to stand 14: Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth [14] and having on the breastplate of righteousness[15] 15: And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace[16]16: Above all taking the shield of faith wherewith you shall be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the wicked 17: And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God 18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints 19: And for me that utterance may be given unto me that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel 20: For which I am an ambassador in bonds that therein [even as a prisoner] I may speak boldly as I ought to speak 21: But that you also may know my affairs and how I do Tychicus a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord shall make known to you all things 22: Whom I have sent to you for the same purpose that you might know our affairs and that he might comfort your hearts 23: Peace be to the brethren and love with faith from God Father and Lord Jesus Christ 24: Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity Amen

[1] In the day 'Elohiym created 'adam in the likeness of 'Elohiym made he him Male and female created he them and blessed them and called their name 'adam in the day when they were created. The first of the Ten Commandments, instructs children to obey their mothers equally with their fathers. But, nowhere, in the Ten Commandments, can it be found that wives are commanded to submit to husbands or that husbands are commanded to lead wives. How is it, then, that complementarian teachers have written that female submission to male “headship,” is an eternal life or eternal death issue? Search the scriptures in vain to find a verse or passage to back that claim. Such a verse does not exist. It simply is not written. Yet, it is a familiar refrain among traditional-role-religionists, that Adam neglected to lead his wife, in the Garden, and therefore was responsible for his wife’s sin. If female submission to male “headship” is indeed a life or death issue, the nexus on which our salvation hinges, then surely YHWH ELOHIYM would have addressed it at Mt. Sinai. But he remained silent on the subject. Why? Because it is an entirely man-made fabrication.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY.

[2] It is notable that when 'Elohiym commanded children to obey their parents, he showed respect even for children by explaining the reason for it. He did not simply say, “You must obey because they are adults and you are children.” No, he said if you obey this command, there is a conditional promise of long life attached to it. Likewise, when the Apostle, quoted the commandment, he highlighted the promise. Both 'Elohiym and the Apostle Paul, felt it worthwhile to explain to children the reason for obedience, yet complementarian teachers would have us believe that Paul commanded full grown adult women to obey husbands blindly, with no promise attached—only dire threats.  

   Complementarians even add their own presumptuous promise (that cannot be found in scripture), “A woman finds peace and shelter in the submission to her husband.” There is not a hint of such thing in the Bible. Yet, this is a popular mantra among complementarians. The obedience of children is temporary. Once children reach their majority, they are free from the command to obey parents. Not so with complementarian wives. Complementarian wives are commanded to obedience throughout their earthly lives and into eternity, where they are told their husbands will present them to Christ and answer for them at the judgement seat. This creates god-complexes in boys and men, and husband-idolatry and irresponsibility on the part of complementarian wives, who believe they have a husband mediator between them and God. 

[3] The apostle meant what he said to Christian slaves about fear and trembling before their masters. Slaves were considered sub-human, and Roman Lords could do anything they liked with their slaves. They could harm or kill them in any manner they chose. Paul was not condoning slavery, when he wrote this, but rather he was intent on the physical safety of those in his congregations who were slaves. A side-note about wives must be inserted here as well. The standing of women, in Roman society and in Jewish Tradition, was only slightly higher than that of slaves (women were honored and respected in the Hebrew scriptures, but not in the Tradition’s [Jesus had nothing good to say about the Traditions]), so Paul would have been greatly concerned for the physical safety of the wives in his congregations as well. Christian women of the first century, experienced an equality of the sexes almost unheard of in all of history, either before or after that era, and this would certainly pose a serious physical threat to wives of violent controlling husbands. Such men would show little or no tolerance of wives who dared to exhibit autonomy. This liberty among early Christians would naturally have the effect of escalating tension and violence would have increased in such marriages. The apostle knew this, and also that there was no legal recourse for either Jewish or Roman wives in cases of domestic violence, hence his advice for wives to fear (usually translated respect or reverence) their husbands.  

[4] Paul was not condoning slavery. He was not insinuating that slavery was a biblical part of God’s plan for women and men. He was simply giving the best advice he could considering the consequences to Christians who happened to be slaves—If they defied the law concerning slavery—and to Christians who happened to be slave owners, and may have been bringing sin and condemnation into their own lives by causing misery to their slaves. Paul’s counsel was likely foreign to both slave and owner, but it is certain the Roman empire was not a place where a slavery abolition movement could either be started or tolerated. The culture was built on slavery, and the institution was well-protected by an empire that well knew how to keep its citizens in line. Brutal deaths were inflicted on any who opposed Roman rule. Spartacus is famous for his slave uprising. He and his followers were overthrown and crucified. 

[5] This statement of the unqualified, intrinsic, equality of all human beings was unparalleled in the ancient world. The legal separation between slave and free could not be altered, but the apostle was clear that it ended there. On personal levels, the Roman [Christian] slave owners were informed that they were not intrinsically superior to their slaves to to anyone else (a completely new concept to them). Later, at Antioch, Paul expands on this concept of equality, and includes every group, including the gender groups of male and female.

[6] This simple statement, frequently glossed over and sometimes forgotten, in studies of spiritual warfare, is the nexus, the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, of the entire subject. It is to easy to fall into the deception of self-sufficiency, to confuse the power of our might with the power of His might. Yes, King David had physically mighty men in his army. Yes, Bathsheba wrote of valiant women in her letter to her son. We read about that in Proverbs chapter 31. All Christians, both women and men, are commanded be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. A premiere example of how to do this, is found in the life of Moses. Moses, was the most politically powerful man among all the Hebrews, yet he was also the most humble person on earth. When faced with the overthrow of his God-ordained government, Moses did not rally the armies—which he could have done—but rather fell on his face before God in intercession and prayer for a people who were condemning themselves. He knew that real victory entailed much more than mere physical victory over a physical enemy. Moses was raised a prince in Egypt. He was a physically powerful man trained in physical warfare. At the age of 40, he was capable of fighting and single-handedly defeating multiple adversaries, simultaneously. The Bible says, he remained a physically powerful man throughout his life. Yet, when he became God’s man, we never again see even a hint of the masculine pride that had dominated his early life. 

[7] Whether we realize it or not, Christians are always in a state of warfare with the enemies of our souls. The Bible tells us precisely who these enemies are and how to prevail over them. 
   We are given powerful weapons with which to wage spiritual warfare, but the weapons of spiritual warfare are very different from those of physical warfare. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. That means they are not weapons that can be manufactured through human invention. But the weapons God gives us are mighty, through Him. They are powerful spiritual weapons that will pull down every fortification the enemy can build in our lives.
   The only way to defeat powerful spiritual opponents (principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness... and spiritual wickedness....) is by putting on the whole armor of God.
   This is not optional. Christians must use every spiritual weapon at our disposal. The "whole" armor means wearing every piece of all times.
   The defensive weapons in the Christian arsenal consist of: Truth, Righteousness,  always being prepared to share the Gospel of [man's] Peace [with God], Faith, and the helmet Salvation (deliverance).
   The spoken Word of God—utterance—which must always be in line with the written Word of God, and applied under the direct leading of the Holy Spirit of God, is both a defensive and offensive weapon. Jesus gave us a perfect example of this in Matthew chapter four, where he stuck stubbornly to his iteration and re-iteration of, "It is written...."
   The prophet Isaiah confirmed this when he wrote that those whose words did not line with what was already written, had "No light” in them (Isaiah 8:20).

[8] Familiar verses, such as this, where the text says, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood,” have become rote to many Christians, who gloss over it as they hurry to study the “more interesting” parts of the Armor of God. But, unless both the importance and the mechanics of this information is grasped, God’s children stand defenseless before powerful spiritual enemies that can and do wreak havoc in our physical, spiritual, and emotional lives. Understanding this, Christians must realize, that though the enemies of our souls often work through people to accomplish their evil plans, we must (to the best of our ability) not allow ourselves to be drawn into conflict with our fellow human beings. Easier said than done. But as the psalmist wrote, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” The Word of God is filled with counsel on how to deal, God’s way, with situations and difficulties confronting Christians. But unless we read the Bible  in such a way as to gain a working knowledge of what is in it, how can God’s Word light our paths? This writer, recommends reading the Bible every day, always picking up today where you left off yesterday. That way, over time, the Bible is read over and over, and a comprehensive knowledge of what it says (the big picture, so to speak), and what it does not say, is acquired. As we deal with everyday situations, the Devil will do his best to draw us into verbal and physical conflict with other people, but if we know the Word of God, it will light our paths, providing counsel straight out of Heaven on how to deal with every situation. It is critical that Christians understand that we are engaged in warfare. We must be able to see beyond human opposition, and recognize that contention and persecution are always, first and foremost, spiritual battles. Warfare, for the Christian, looks nothing like the warfare we watch on the nightly news. The weapons of our warfare are vastly different from those we are conditioned to think of as weapons. The weapons God gives us are mighty…. But before we can put on God’s armor and pick up his weapons, we must fully grasp the fact of who our real enemy is, who the wicked spiritual forces are that oppose every Christian [who is determined to serve God by His Spirit and by His Truth].

[9] Principalities are high ranking fallen archangels (as opposed to Michael, who is a holy archangel [ἀρχάγγελος archaggelos], a chief prince among the holy angels). Daniel 10:5-13 provides insight into angelic ranks and battles, and the importance of fasting and prayer in the lives of God’s people. Jude provides further insight in describing an interaction between the archangel, Michael, and the devil [διάβολος diabolos]. Link to further study on Principalities, here...

[10] Powers [ἐξουσίας exousia]: The Greek word translated as powers, has a variety of interesting meanings, and there is no reason why all or most of them could not be applied to the spiritual foe Paul describes in Ephesians, as "Powers."
   The word is derived from a family of words that denote  "right"—as in rights and privilege.
   The word also has a "public" connotation. We see this in its use throughout the New Testament with reference to public officials.
   "Token of Control" and "Potentate" are found in its list of meanings along with "ability" and "competency."
   When the definitions of mastery, force, superhuman, freedom, and influence, are added to the above descriptions, a horrifying picture emerges of superhuman beings who are highly privileged and have the right and freedom (along with amazing ability and competency)  to control through influence, mastery, and force.

[11] The word "darkness" in Ephesians 6:12 comes from a root word meaning shade or error. Another word to describe this darkness is obscurity.
   Jesus said we would know the truth, and the truth would set us free. The Rulers of the Darkness of this World are beings who are committed to keeping the people of this world in darkness and error concerned the Truth of God’s Word.
   They accomplish this, through outright lying (Satan is a liar and the father of it). They also work in subtle ways, by shading, manipulating, and obscuring the truth.
   The Rulers of the Darkness of This World oppose all truth. Jesus is the Truth. His words are spirit and life. Therefore, the Rulers of the Darkness of This World are committed to opposing the truth of Jesus Christ on every level of understanding, using any method or person they can. There is an entire class of devils [fallen angels]—Powers—committed to this one thing. They are a formidable army with only one goal—that of keeping humanity in darkness concerning every truth that will save, set free, bring any blessing, healing, or relief whatsoever.
  They bitterly hate us. And if they cannot keep us from eternal life, they delight in causing untold needless suffering.
   Suffering and trials in life cannot be 100% avoided. Jesus said as much. But much human suffering is avoidable and needless, if we know the scriptures. The Bible says many are destroyed for lack of knowledge. The knowledge that is lacking is the knowledge revealed in the Word of God. The Truth. The Light.
   Light overcomes darkness.
   The scriptures say, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Jesus said, "The Blind lead the blind, and they all fall into the ditch."
   We have an enemy who is committed to keeping us in the shade, to obscuring the light, blinding from the truth, and to leading as many as possible into the dark ditch of error.
   In His Word, God has revealed how we can prevent this from happening. Commit to reading his Word daily. And then be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.

[12] The apostle Paul informs us that one of the enemies we fight against is, "Spiritual wickedness in high places." What exactly does that mean? To determine that and correctly identify this particular enemy, let's look at what the term  "wickedness" means.
   That's a given you say? Everyone knows what wickedness means! That may be true in a general sense, but how about in a specific, biblical, sense? Exactly what is it, that the Spirit of the Lord is trying to tell us about wickedness?
   To find out what a biblical word means, we can't always go to Webster's Dictionary. We need a Bible dictionary or lexicon. In the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance (the original Strong's as opposed to the New Updated or the Strongest Strong's), the Greek word translated "wickedness" [in Ephesians 6:12] means: depravity, malice, plots, sins, hurtful, evil, degeneracy, calamitous, diseased, ill, guilt.
   As if the above isn't enough, the root words the word "wickedness" is taken from mean: toil, anguish, starving, indigent.
   This spiritual wickedness we fight against encompasses the entire spectrum of evil—anything that can possibly be conceived of.
   But what about the high places—the heavenlies? What does this refer to?
   The high places mean exactly that. The word translated "high," means: above, sky.
   The scriptures reveal that evil spirits do indeed inhabit the high places (which include the sky and beyond—the earth's atmosphere and even the space surrounding this earth—possibly even this entire galaxy and beyond).
   That is one of the reasons the "heavens" will need to be made new along with the earth.
   The heaven that will be made new is the one that is corrupted by sin—this earth's atmosphere and the surrounding space that is presently inhabited by fallen angels—not the sinless Heaven God inhabits.
   If we did not have God's promise that we are provided with powerful weapons with which to fight such powerful spiritual enemies, we would live in utter hopelessness.  

[13] What is the apostle talking about, when he says to do “all?” What are believers instructed to do in this passage, when confronted with evil spiritual attacks, which usually manifest physically, either through adverse people or situations, or even illness or injury? Taken in context, when believers are told to do “all,” it is a reference to putting on the “whole” armor of God, which consists of ongoing action rather than simply completing a few tasks. Putting on just part of God’s armor, and doing it just once, will not win the day. 

[14] Belt on the Truth. The Truth is whatever God has to say about any given situation.

[15] The enemy of our souls seek to overthrow Christians through lies about our worthiness to be heard by God. The Rulers of the Darkness of this World will lie to us by telling us we are unworthy to expect our prayers to be answered, that we are unworthy to apply the promises in God’s Word to our own lives. The Breastplate of Righteousness guards our hearts from the darkness and devastation of this lie. The Breastplate of Righteousness guards our hearts with the knowledge that we are the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We do not go about seeking to establish our own righteousness—which is impossible anyway and leads to cruel legalism anytime we try—but rather, we submit to the righteousness Jesus purchased on the cross, and freely gives to all who come to him by faith in his death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. It is true; we are all unworthy. But we need not fear that we are unworthy recipients of God’s love and favor, because He loves us in spite of our unworthiness. He proved it by providing a remedy for our unworthiness when he sent his son to die for our sins while we were yet sinners, while we were yet unbelievers, yet enemies of God, and alienated from the life of God, while the whole world lay in that sad condition, God made the first move. It is because of Jesus, that all who believe have been made worthy and are now safely hidden in Christ.That means when our Creator looks at us, he sees us through the redemptive work of the cross, through the shed blood of his Risen Son. We have been made righteous by what Jesus did, not by anything we can ever do. Will we sin after we are saved? Of course we will. That is why it is important that we gain a working knowledge of the Bible, so that we can know what the expressed will of God is. And when we sin, which all do, even after we are born again, it is vital that we heed our God-given conscience and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to confess and forsake all known sin. We have a great promise that when we confess known sin in our lives, He is faithful and just to forgive us of even unknown sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That is powerful. So, allow the Breastplate of Righteousness to guard our hearts. Accept the righteousness freely given to us by our Risen Savior. Put it on. Walk in it…and by faith, stand in it.  

[16] Part of our armor is putting feet to our faith, by always being ready to share the hope that is in us (how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them who bring good news). The good news is the hope of eternal life through the Risen Son of God, the hope that was declared by the angels on the night Messiah was born in Bethlehem. That tiny infant was the human embodiment of God’s love, of God’s “…good will toward men.” That baby grew into a man, and became the one who reconciled the human race, all who would receive him, back to their Creator. Through the body of his torn and tortured flesh, through his physical death, and through his physical resurrection, Jesus, The only begotten Son of God, the only perfect human, took the punishment for sin that he did not deserve. And he will come again, to raise the dead, and those in him who are alive and remain will not be left behind when that great and glorious day comes. The apostle wrote,  “Behold, I tell you a mystery, we shall not all die, but we shall all be changed….” For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes on him shall not perish but have everlasting life. If we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that God raised him from the dead, we shall be saved. All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Woman this is WAR! Gender Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System, Examines Bible translation and commentary practices which have historically been androcentric (male centered) and even misogynistic (anti-woman). These have adversely effected understanding of the scriptures, relations between women and men, the happiness of men and women, and hindered the work of the gospel. The reader is educated about historic parallels between the twin causes of abolition and women’s rights, while the history of women’s rights is traced back [much further than usual] to the very first feminists…who were Christians—godly women who brought the issue of women's rights to the forefront as they struggled to alleviate the suffering of others, and found they were hindered in doing so for no other reason than the fact of their sex. This book, provides valuable historical insight into Christian initiatives in the movements for women’s rights, that are rarely included in Christian literature.