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Faith is the substance of hope?

-->The unknown writer of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote (11:1): “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the proof of things not having been seen.” Nowhere does the Bible say that “faith is the substance of hope.” So, what are these “things hoped for?” And, what exactly are their relationship to faith? To be accurate, it is not “faith” that is referred to in Hebrews 11:1, but faithfulness, fidelity, or fealty. In other words, “loyalty to God.” (Heb 11:1) estin de pistis elpizomenon upostasis, pragmaton elegxos ou blepomenon. Upostasis (or hupostasis) is Greek for “to stand underneath” and is often translated as “substance” or “essence” or “basis.” Here, however, the writer refers to a more proper use of the word. A hupostasis is a document that confers a right, much like a title deed. Its use, like that of a deed or automobile title today, was to prove ownership. Think about a title deed used to prove the ownership of property, which cannot be physically brought forward …

This generation will not pass away...?

In Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32. Yeshua (Jesus) is quoted as saying, "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." But, what did he mean by this statement? In order to understand, it is important of look at the context of the statement, and also to look at the word meaning.

In context, this statement must be speaking of the future. According to Matthew 24:3 (Syriac versions), Yeshua is responding to his disciples' question regarding "your coming and the age of shalom."

Some believe that Yeshua was proposing a rapid emergence of the "Kingdom of God," and anticipated that those living would see such an end. Others say that Yeshua was giving a prophecy with a "double fulfillment"--Some of what He was predicting was going to occur in that generation, some later. Yet another tortured explanation holds that Yeshua did not mean "this" generation, but "a" generation, me…

Not peace, but a sword?

Matthew 10:34 quotes Yeshua as saying:

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword."

The meaning of these words have been highly debated. Some say that this verse points to proof that Yeshua advocated violence. Others struggle to show that the word for "sword" actually means something other than the violent idea it conjures. Most Christians believe that the sword is a metaphor for ideological conflict, rather than physical violence and that Yeshua did not advocate violence. A fair reading of the verse in context, however, leads to the conclusion that the word for "sword" actually does mean violence, and also an understanding of Syriac word-meaning leads to the conclusion that Yeshua was not advocating violence, but rather warning his disciples of the violence that they would soon bring upon themselves.

Matthew 10 tells of Yeshua sending his disciples out to minister to "the lost sheep of the h…

The Sign of Jonah?

In Matthew 12:39, Yeshua is recorded as saying to the gathered Pharisees, "...An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but there shall be given no sign to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah."

Many have understood this verse to be an unequivocal claim to "messiahship" made by Yeshua. That Yeshua was saying that Jonah was a “sign” to his generation even as the he, Yeshua would be to his. However, understood in context, the verse is a simple reference to an old testament event with definite meaning. Its meaning is complicated by the following verse (40), "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly: so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

First of all, verse 40 begins in a way ( "ὥσπερ γὰρ", "just as") that implies that it is a clarifying (or parenthetical) comment of the gospel writer, and not Yeshua's; . Also, it refers to an event that was yet to ha…

A Gospel Enigma?

Over at http://gospelenigma.com/, they wonder about the "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." As they see it, it is this so-called "baptism of repentance" that ensures a remission from sin, rather than the death of the messiah Yeshua on the cross. I agree with their viewpoint, but it is no enigma. Let's look.

First of all, the Hebrew word for repentance is teshuvah. As I have pointed out (http://practicaljesus.blogspot.com/2009/02/teshuvah.html), the "baptism of repentance" is better understood as an "immersion in teshuvah."

The concept of immersion (greek baptizo) could be used to mean the traditional immersion in water, but it was also an idiom which meant a complete and utter dedication to a course of action, or duty. In Matthew 20:22 Yeshua used the term in this way.
"... Yeshua said, You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup which I am about to drink, and to be baptized with the baptism with which I a…

Peter the "Rock?"

Matthew 16:18 says:

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.

A number of Christian denominations and scholars hold that Simon Peter was the most prominent of the apostles, favored by Jesus of Nazareth with the first place of honor and authority. This doctrine is known as the Primacy of Simon Peter or the Petrine Primacy. This highly debated point is often reduced to a discussion of the meaning and translation of the above verse.

Roman Catholic views differ from those of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Reformed Churches, which differ from each other. Many hold that the term epi taute to petra "upon this rock" refers to Peter. The Greek shifts bluntly from the masculine petros (rock) to the femenine toute to petra (this rock) too freely. There is really no need for the Greek writer to shift gender here. Greek has a perfectly good masculine phrase for "this rock" - touto petros. Th…

The Great Commission

Matthew 28:18 -20 says:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.(KJV)

The first interesting thing about this saying is the reference to "all power." The Greek word used here is exousia, which Thayer translates (primarily) as "liberty," or "power of choice." But, the word literally means "to be out." The word translates (according to the Peshitta) the Aramaic word Sholtana (authority). But, in the trilingual world of first-century Galillee, the word actually translates the Hebrew word koach, which means "to chastise," or "to prove."

Idiomatically however, the word was a shortcut to the thought "koach ha'toladah&qu…