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Showing posts from November, 2007

Greater love?

John 15:13 says,
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Now, it is difficult to comprehend how this simple thought can be misunderstood, but it has almost universally been so. In fact, the misrepresentation of this verse demonstrates clearly the difficulty in translation caused by projecting backward Christian ideas and forgetting the Hebrew values which spawned it.
Albert Barnes wrote: "No higher expression of love could be given. Life is the most valuable object we possess; and when a man is willing to lay that down for his friends or his country, it shows the utmost extent of love."
John Gill wrote: "By these words our Lord shows, how far love to another should extend, even to the laying down of our lives for the brethren; which is the highest instance of love among men"
These thoughts clearly represent the Christian value developed as a result of Yeshua's death. But, Yeshua was not referring to his own death. In…

Grace

Most Christians understand grace to be God's unmerited (undeserved) favor, His unmerited love. They hold that God gives us something even though we deserve the opposite; that God's grace is the basis of our relationship with the God of the universe; and that such grace is made known through Yeshua Messiah, God's unmerited gift to mankind. Now, all of this seems true enough, but it represents a superficial understanding of grace and a profound underreporting of the mutual nature of grace. Yeshua said (Mat 7:2):

"for with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured again to you."
James 2:8-10 says:

"If you truly fulfill the Kingdom Law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well. But, if you discriminate, you work sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep all the law, but stumbles in one, he has become guilty of all.&q…

Bring up a child?

Proverbs 22:6 says:

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (KJV)"
The CEV says: "Teach your children right from wrong, and when they are grown they will still do right." The CJB: "Train a child in the way he [should] go; and, even when old, he will not swerve from it. "

Gill has noted that "...there are exceptions to this observation; but generally, where there is a good education, the impressions of it do not easily wear off, nor do men ordinarily forsake a good way they have been brought up in..."

This proverb seems more like wishful thinking than the wisdom of sages. Can such an often-excepted proverb have developed among the Hebrews, who measured reality by experience? A closer look says, it probably did not.

In Hebrew, the verse says:

"HanoC' lana,ar ,al ´ piy dar'cO gaM ciy ´ yaz'kiyN lo` ´ yasur mimenah"

The first word, hanoc, means “to thr…

Creation

There is a longstanding controversy regarding the second word of the Hebrew Bible, bara. Some hold that the word should be translated "created," and that the term means "ex nihilo" or "out of nothing" creation. Others point out that the word is reserved for the "creative" activity of God and, even if it does not mean ex nihilo literally, it refers to the creation of the world and all things in it. Thus it is held that even if the verb bara has no explicit connotation of ex nihilo, that it is linked only with the creative power of God suggests that something more than use of preexistent matter is in view.

However, a careful reading of the Hebrew Bible along with a basic understanding of the root of the word will show clearly that the word does not imply ex nihilo, and is not exclusive to God's activity. A look at Ezekiel 21:19 will show both propositions to be false.

"As for you, son of man, make two ways for the sword of the king of Babyl…