THE UNFAILING WORD OF GOD by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: As many of you know, Nicole and I, and the kids were in India for the past two weeks visiting my parents. Some of you may remember that last November I got a call from my sister that my dad had slipped and broken his ankle. It was a very very tough time in my dad and mom’s life. We were hoping to go much earlier to visit them but that would’ve added more burden on them in having to take care of 6 more people in the house. So we went now. It was a wonderful trip especially for the kids since they got to really get to know their grandparents. Several times during our visit my dad said to me “It’s a miracle that I’m still walking today. God has been more than faithful to me. He has more than kept his promises to me.” That really touched me. So, when he asked me to preach last Sunday, the Holy Spirit laid on my heart to preach on “The Unfailing Word of God.” Many of y’all saw that message on Periscope and Facebook. I’m preaching the same message today but with some new additions.
I Peter 1 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”
Question: What are you basing your life on? Emotions, experience, human wisdom. Or are you basing your life on the word of God which lives and abides forever. Have you found yourself drifting and doubting lately? Have you found yourself floundering and fearful lately? Have you found yourself struggling and staggering lately? Have you taken your eyes away from the truth of God as revealed in the Word of God? Are you saved? Are you saved under the gospel given in the Word of God?
Context: The passage we just read comes from the first letter by Peter, the chief disciple of Jesus, to the various churches of Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. The churches there were going through some difficult times. They were being grieved by various trials. They were getting ready to go through some more fiery trial. They were suffering for righteousness’ sake. Peter wrote this letter to encourage them. He wrote to tell them not to get discouraged. He reminded them that this was simply a test of the genuineness of their faith. He told them to rejoice because they were sharing in the sufferings of Christ. He commanded them to cast all their cares upon God because he cared for them.
Application: All of us go through difficult times. All of us are time-to-time grieved by various trials. Maybe you are going through one right now. Maybe you have just come through one. Or, maybe you are getting ready to go through one. God’s Word to you is “Don’t get discouraged. He is still with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will work all things together for good for you.” You may not understand “Why things happen” but you will never have to wonder, “Where God is.” He is with you working all things together for good.
There’s so much Peter has said in this letter about suffering, love, obedience, and prayer, I don’t have time to talk about all those things. I encourage you to read this book at home. It will be a great blessing to you, especially if you are going through a difficult time. I just want to focus on the passage we just read. Listen again to verse 23 “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God…” In helping these Christians going through some fiery trials, Peter reminded them of how they came to God. He says, “they were born again through the Word of God.” What does it mean? It means “God’s Word saves us.” This sounds very strange at first. How can the Word of God regenerate us? We think it’s only God who regenerates us. We think it’s only Christ or the Holy Spirit who regenerates us. But here it says that it is the word of God that regenerates us. This may be strange to us but it was not strange to the early church. Listen to James 1:18 “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth…” So also, Paul says in Ephesians 5:26 that Christ will sanctify and cleanse his church “with the washing of water by the word.” Then listen to what Jesus himself said to his disciples in John 15:3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” Those verses prove to us that what Peter said in his letter was not unusual or strange. It was perfectly in line with the rest of Scripture. The question is – “How does the Word save us?” We can look at creation and know that there is a God. We can look at the vast heavens and the deep seas and know that he is infinitely powerful. We can look at the many different kinds of creatures and know that he is creative. We can look at the human mind and know that he is infinitely wise. We can look at the beautiful sunset and know that he loves beauty. But nothing tells us that God is holy and we are sinful and Jesus is the Savior who came to give his life for us. It’s only in the pages of God’s Word that we find God’s answer to humankind’s deepest needs – Sin, Sorrow, and Death. If you look anywhere else, it will not be the true gospel. If you look anywhere else, you will be deceived.
Application: What does the word of God tell us about getting saved? Acts 16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Ephesians 2 8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” I can go on and on. Have you received the gospel as given in the word of God? This is the same gospel across the world.
But there’s something else Peter says at this point. Listen again to verse 23 “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.” In helping these believers who were facing fiery trials, Peter reminded them that this Word not only saves them but it will never fail them. He says that it “lives and abides forever.” What does it mean? God’s Word never fails. In this life, many things will fail. People will fail. Health will fail. Technology will fail. Automobiles will fail. Government will fail. But one thing we can be sure of – God’s Word will never fail. Peter quoted Isaiah 40 where God comforted his people Israel that he would not abandon them. Listen to what he said in verse 24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” I took my kids around my dad’s garden when we came. They asked me if it still looked the same from when I was little. I told them that it’s still the same place but a lot had changed. I pointed to the various flowerpots and told them that I remembered them but not the plants inside of them. Those plants had all long gone away. In the same way, all of us are like grass. Then there are few among us who rise to the top as the flowers among the grass. One day both us and the flowers among us will be gone. Only thing that will remain will be God’s Word. Does that mean the copy of the Bible? Maybe. I believe it means what God has promised in the Bible will happen without fail. I don’t have the time to mention all the promises of God in the Bible but here are just a few–
- God has promised in Psalm 50:15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you.” His word will not fail.
- God has promised in Isaiah 40:31 “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” His word will not fail.
- God has promised in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” His word will not fail.
- God has promised in Philippians 4:19 “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” His word will not fail.
- God has promised in I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
- Jesus has promised in Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
The French Skeptic Voltaire said that within a 100 years Christianity would be a thing of the past and the Bible would be in a museum. More than 100 years have gone by and its Voltaire who has become a thing of the past but the Word of God still abides forever. In fact, for almost 100 years after he died, his home was used to keep bibles and sell bibles.
Personal testimony – In my own life God has been more than faithful. Not a single of his promises have failed. Things haven’t always happened the way I wanted them to or when I wanted them to but better things have happened in God’s timing!
Application: How important is this book to you? Do you daily feed upon God’s Word? There was a Chinese evangelist who would often say – “No Bible, No Breakfast.” Is that true in your life?
DIGGING DEEP – 4 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah
Recap from last week:
- Know the difference between Form and Meaning (From Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions). “Form” includes letters, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, etc and “meaning” includes concepts or thoughts from the forms
- “For genuine translation to take place, 2 things must happen: The meaning must remain the same, and the form must change (at least to some degree). If either of these two things does not happen, we have not translated.” (Brunn)
- “Full meaning of most words does not transfer directly between two languages.” (Brunn)
- Usually, there is only a partial overlap of meanings between corresponding words between two languages.
- A Greek word has a range of meanings and the most appropriate has to be picked in translation.
- Many times translations are not as accurate or consistent as they should’ve been.
Criteria for Adjustment in Bible Translation (From Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions):
- Required by the grammar of the target language
- In Hebrew the standard word order is Verb-Subject-Object-Modifier.
וַתָּ֣קָם חַנָּ֔ה אַחֲרֵ֛י אָכְלָ֥ה בְשִׁלֹ֖ה וְאַחֲרֵ֣י שָׁתֹ֑ה
(Arose – Hannah – after – eating – in Shiloh – and after – drinking – I Samuel 1:9)
- In English the standard word order is Subject-Verb-Object-Modifier.
“So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh.”
- Matthew 1:6 Ἰεσσαὶ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Δαυὶδ τὸν βασιλέα. Δαυὶδ δὲ ⸆ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Σολομῶνα ἐκ τῆς τοῦ Οὐρίου,
Actual Translation – “and Jesse begot the David the king. David the king begot the Solomon by the of the Uriah.”
“Wife” has to be added and “the” has to be omitted twice.
- Required to ensure correct meaning
- Romans 6 1 Τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν; ⸀ἐπιμένωμεν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, ἵνα ἡ χάρις πλεονάσῃ; 2 μὴ γένοιτο….
- Actual translation – Romans 6 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 May it not become… (Let it not become)
- Check KJV, NKJV, NIV
- Required to ensure clarity
- The translators added, “who had been” in Matthew 1:6 to make sure that Bathsheba was not married to Uriah at the time Solomon was born.
- Check NASB, KJV, NKJV, NIV
- Ephesians 1:13
- Required to ensure naturalness
- “Bathsheba” added by NASB
- “And” omitted by NASB
- “Begat” should be replaced with much better contemporary word… (“Fathered” implies that David didn’t really have a relationship with Solomon)
DIGGING DEEP – 3 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah
Recap from last week:
- 2 Major views of Translation: Formal Equivalent (literal/word-for-word); Functional Equivalent (idiomatic/meaning-based/dynamic)
- Range of translation: Highly Literal, Modified Literal, Idiomatic, and Unduly Free
- No translation is strictly one or the other (except maybe the Unduly Free). They frequently overlap, some more than others.
Difference between FORM and MEANING (From Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions):
- FORM includes letters, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, etc.
- MEANING includes concepts or thoughts from the forms
“For genuine translation to take place, 2 things must happen: The meaning must remain the same, and the form must change (at least to some degree). If either of these two things does not happen, we have not translated.” (Brunn)
How to translate words?
- “Words” are important. They are the building block of any language, the starting point of form.
- “Full meaning of most words does not transfer directly between two languages. Meaning should be viewed as an area and not a precise point.” (Brunn)
- Usually, there is only a partial overlap of meanings between corresponding words between two languages.
- A Greek word has a range of meanings and the most appropriate has to be picked in translation.
- Many times translations are not as accurate or consistent as they should’ve been.
Case in point: Logos (Taken from Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions)
- Logos has more meanings than just “word”
John 1:1 (NKJV) “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God.”
Acts 1:1 (NKJV) “The former logos I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.”
Romans 14:12 (NKJV) “So then each of us shall give logos of himself to God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV) “For the logos of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 2:1 (NKJV) “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of logos or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.”
1 Corinthians 2:4 (NKJV) “And my logos and my preaching were not with persuasive logos of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV) “Let no corrupt logos proceed out of your mouth…”
1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV) “This is a faithful logos and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV) “…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a logos for the hope that is in you…”
Acts 20:24 (NKJV) “But of no logos; nor do I count my life dear to myself…”
Matthew 5:32 (NKJV) “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for the logos of sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery…”
- Logos is more than just a “single” word
Galatians 5:14 (NKJV) For all the law is fulfilled in one logos, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Check the interesting rendering here by NASB)
John 19:7-8 (NKJV) The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” Therefore, when Pilate heard that logos, he was the more afraid.”
- Guidelines for best translation of logos:
- Literal translations use “word” most of the time for logos since it is the one that corresponds the most.
- Idiomatic translations use the meaning that fits the context the most.
How about Revelation 22 18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
– Check Matthew 25:19; I Corinthians 15:2; Philippians 4:15; and Hebrews 4:13 (Logos is missing in the KJV translation because the translators were going for meaning rather than form.)
DIGGING DEEP – 2 (Bible Translations) by Abidan Paul Shah
Recap from last week:
- Translations are still the Word of God. They’re also inspired and inerrant to the extent that they represent the original text.
- Understand the difference between Wahy and Ilham (direct revelation vs. inspiration of the Holy Spirit)
- There is no perfect or ultimate English Bible translation or word-for-word translation.
- The best translation is the “modified literal.” “Modified” represents the real situation and “literal” represents the ideal goal. (Taken from Dave Brunn’s book One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal?) I lean more towards the literal side of things.
How Translation Works:
2 Major Views of Translation:
- Formal Equivalent: It is also known as “literal” or “word-for-word” translation. It tries to preserve the form in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek writing. This is with regards to both word and grammar.
- Functional Equivalent: It is also known as “idiomatic” or “meaning-based” translation. Some have even called it dynamic. It tries to focus on the meaning, naturalness, and clarity.
The matter is more complicated than that. The following is a better Range of Translation, as taken from John Beekman and John Callow’s book, Translating the Word of God.)
A. Highly Literal – The focus is on both words and word orders. For e.g. Interlinears.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Actual – Joshua 1:9 (BHS) הֲלֹ֤וא צִוִּיתִ֨יךָ֙ חֲזַ֣ק וֶאֱמָ֔ץ אַֽל־תַּעֲרֹ֖ץ וְאַל־תֵּחָ֑ת כִּ֤י עִמְּךָ֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר תֵּלֵֽךְ׃ פ
Literal Translation – ?·not I-instructed·you be-steadfast-you ! and·be-resolute-you ! must-not-be you-are-being-terrified and·must-not-be you-are-being-dismayed that with·you Yahweh· Elohim-of·you in·all which you-are-going
John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
Actual – ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ,
Literal Translation – as many as but received him he gives to them right children of God to be becoming to the ones believing into the name of him.
B. Modified Literal Translation – It focuses on words and is willing to modify the word order to make sense. For e.g. NKJV, NASB, ESV
C. Idiomatic Translation – It focuses much more on sounding natural and clear. For e.g. NLT, God’s Word, etc.
Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
John 1:12 “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.”
D. Unduly Free – It changes the wording and word order, historical setting, and original context to suit the present audience. For e.g. Cotton Patch Version
Important point to remember: No translation is strictly one or the other (except maybe the Unduly Free). They frequently overlap, some more than others.
Example: Job 19:27
Hebrew – “which I I-shall-perceive for·me and·eyes-of·me they-see and·not alien-one they-are-exhausted kidneys-of·me in·bosom-of·me.”
NKJV – “Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
ESV – “Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!”
NIV – “I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me.”
NLT – “I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!”
MESSAGE – “see God myself, with my very own eyes. Oh, how I long for that day!”
KJV – “Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”
DIGGING DEEP – 13 by Abidan Paul Shah
Tying it all together:
- Understand the Incarnational Model of Scripture: Just as Jesus was both divine and human but without sin, so also Scripture is both divine and human and yet without errors.
- Understand where we are in the History of Biblical Interpretation: Early Jewish Interpretation Sadducees (Literal), Essenes and Qumran Community (Pesher = prophecy), Diaspora (Allegory), and Pharisaic or Rabbinic exegesis, especially Midrash.
- Understand how the New Testament used the Old Testament: Single Meaning, Unified Referents; Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents; and Fuller Meaning, Single Goal.
- Understand the 7 kinds of genre in the Bible: Narrative, Poetry, Wisdom, Prophecy, Parable, Epistle, and Apocalyptic.
- Understand how language works at a particular stage: Recognize language families for Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; Break language down into word, sentence, and paragraph.
- Understand the land of the Bible: between the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea on the West and the Zagros Mountains and the Persian Gulf in the East and between the Amanus and Ararat Mountains in the North and the Nafud Desert and the southern tip of Sinai in the South. The New Testament expanded the region into what today are Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Spain.
- Understand the political background of the Old Testament: Ancient Mesopotamia (2500-1100BC) – Sumerian & Akkadian Eras and Amorite Dynasties; Ancient Egypt (2500-1100BC); Hebrews (1150-850BC); Assyrians (900-612BC); Neo-Babylonians (625-539BC); Medes and the Persians (850-331BC); Greeks (1500-165BC).
- Understand the political background of the New Testament: Roman Empire – The Emperor, the Provinces, Client Kingdoms, Colonies and Free Cities, Roman Citizenship, Roman Law, Roman Taxation, Benefits.
- Understand the religious background of the Bible: Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Canaanite, and Greco-Roman; Religion can come in many forms – animism (animals, plants, and inanimate objects have spiritual essence), henotheism (worshipping one but acknowledging others), polytheism (many gods), and monotheism (one god).
- Understand the Biblical Theology of the Old Testament: It adds the necessary depth to the study and interpretation of each passage in its context. Based on where a person is studying in the OT, the key/center will help in shedding light on the text in a whole new way. It will open the understanding of the text in its proper larger context of God’s promise-plan (Walter Kaiser)
- Understand the Biblical Theology of the New Testament: It keeps us from focusing on smaller and smaller parts of the Bible and helps us to get the bigger picture. Again, the key is the promise-plan of God (Walter Kaiser). It also helps to make sense of the Unity and the Diversity of the New Testament and the relationship between the Old and the New Testament.
- Understand the Role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Interpretation: No New Revelation; No Guarantee of Infallible Interpretation; No Deeper Truth; No substitute for diligent and proper study; No Guarantee of resolution of difficult passages; Only the saved can be enabled by the Holy Spirit to truly appreciate and apply the Word; All who are saved have access to the Holy Spirit; Those who truly seek Him find His help.
- Understand the limits of Application:
- The Bible does not give specific instructions on all issues for Christians of every age.
- In our constantly changing world, even if the Bible were to give specific instructions regarding a situation, it will require re-adaptation and re-application of the Bible to the changing world and situation.
- The stronger the stance is on inerrancy, the greater will be the desire to seek and apply its truths.
- The closer the interpretation is to the original meaning, the more accurate will be the application.
- We need to show grace and humility in our application of the Bible.
DIGGING DEEP – 11 by Abidan Paul Shah
Biblical Theology of the New Testament:
- Hermeneutical Triangle of Literature, History, and Theology
- Historical development in biblical theology: Biblical Theology was given a subordinate role to church dogma for centuries. The “rule of faith” became the guiding principle. With the coming of the Reformation and the replacement of dogma by sola scriptura, biblical theology regained its place in the interpretation of the Bible.
- OT Biblical Theology
How does NT theology help in studying the Bible?
It keeps us from focusing on smaller and smaller parts of the Bible and helps us to get the bigger picture.
Some Major Issues in NT Biblical Theology
- Unity and Diversity of the New Testament
- Relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament
Is there a key or center to the NT Theology? Many different centers have been proposed:
- Anthropology (Rudolph Bultmann)
- Salvation History (O. Cullmann, George Eldon Ladd, L. Goppelt)
- Covenant, Love, and Other proposals (W. Eichrodt, Herman Ridderbos)
- Christology (Bo Reicke, F.C. Grant)
- God and Christ or Christocentric (Hasel)
For OT Biblical Theology we turned to Kaiser’s view, so also for the NT.
Kaiser proposes what is known as the “promise-plan of God” as the center of biblical theology. It epangelical view.” It comes from the word for “promise” in Greek. It is a mediating position between the Reformed Covenantal view and the Dispensational view. It is not a flawless view but it does provide us with a peg to hang our biblical theology.
Kaiser offers the following 10 stages of the Promise (For New Testament)
- The Arrival of the Promise (John the Baptist, Zechariah, Mary, Simeon, Anna)
- The Promise-Plan and the Law of God (James, Galatians)
- The Promise-Plan and the Mission of the Church (1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans)
- The Promise-Plan and Paul’s Prison Epistles (Colossians, Philemon, Philippians, Ephesians)
- The Promise-Plan and The Kingdom of God (Matthew, Mark)
- The Promise-Plan and the Promised Holy Spirit (Luke-Acts)
- The Promise-Plan and Purity of Life and Doctrine (1 & 2 Peter, Jude)
- The Promise-Plan and The Pastoral Letters (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus)
- The Promise-Plan and the Supremacy of Jesus (Hebrews)
- The Promise-Plan and the Gospel of The Kingdom (John, 1-3 John, Revelation)
- Matthew 28:16-20
- John 4:42
- Ephesians 4:5-6
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Hebrews 11:1
- James 3:1-12
- I Peter 3:18
DIGGING DEEP – 9 by Abidan Paul Shah
The Bible was not written in a vacuum. It was in the context of paganism, idolatry, and demonic worship that the truth of God’s Word came to humanity.
What is religion? “Human organizations primarily engaged in providing general compensators based on supernatural assumptions.” – Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge
They gave 5 dimensions of religiousness: belief, practice, experience, knowledge, and consequences.
Religion can come in many forms – animism (animals, plants, and inanimate objects have spiritual essence), henotheism (worshipping one but acknowledging others), polytheism (many gods), and monotheism (one god).
- Began as early as the third millennium
- All the divine families were under Enlil
- They had as many as 3000 names, many repeats.
- Some of the gods included – Anu-An (Father of the gods who was described as a bull); Enlil (son of An and the most prominent; lord of the air and ruler over the earth; In “Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld,” when heaven and earth were separated, An chose the heavens and Enlil chose the earth; he created the humans; he also decreed the flood because humans disturbed his sleep); Nanna-Sin (first born of Enlil; moon god; god of Ur and Haran); Marduk (Son of Enki-Ea; god of thunderstorm and Babylon; known as Bel); Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14), etc.
- Images were made out of wood and plated with gold. They also had precious stones and jewels for eyes, which were lit up in nighttime rituals to depict “opening of the eyes.”
- As many as 40 gods and goddesses known, many repeats
- Several religious centers in Ancient Egypt – Thebes, Hermopolis, Heliopolis, Abydos, and Memphis
- The gods’ depictions were in the form that would express their special characteristics.
- They were considered to be responsible for the forces in nature – Ra (sun god); Hathor (heaven); Ma’at and Seth (balance and order vs chaos and death).
- Afterlife was a key component. It was often depicted by the Ankh.
- The symbol of continuity and order was the Pharaoh. The king was the official priest.
- Sometimes known as the Amorites and was the most immediate context for the people of Israel.
- 2 divine pairs: El and Athirat (sovereign king and queen over the world) and Baal and Anat (brother and sister in a state of turmoil and change, struggling for survival and dominance).
- El was the chief god known as the begetter of the other gods and creator of the world.
- Baal was the most popular god among the Canaanites. He was a fertility god who provided rains and rode on the clouds. (Psalm 68:4)
- There were also many minor gods like Dagon (Judges 16:23)
- The god of the Moabites was Chemosh and the god of the Ammonites was Molech. (Judges 11:24 and 2 Kings 3:26-27)
- Very diverse forms of paganism – Pisidian Antioch (Men – the moon and fertility god); Syrian Antioch (Zeus, Astarte, Tyche, etc); Athens (Athena, Dionysius); Corinth (Aphrodite – goddess of love, Apollo, Asclepius, Demeter, etc); Ephesus (Artemis – her temple was 5 times larger than Athens’ Parthenon, 1000 female servants, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Acts 19); etc.
- There was also much unity.
- They considered monotheists to be not much better than atheists.
- Joshua 24:1-3, 14-15
- Psalm 19
- Jeremiah 50:1-2
- Acts 17
DIGGING DEEP – 8 by Abidan Paul Shah
- Alexander the Great and the spread of Greek culture.
- Koine Greek
One constant factor during the writing of the New Testament was Rome. Roman history can be divided into three parts:
- ROMAN KINGDOM – early stages of Rome. (753 BC – 509 BC) Not very significant for our discussion
- ROMAN REPUBLIC – still an early stage of our discussion (509 BC – 44 BC)
- ROMAN EMPIRE – (44 BC – 6th century AD)
Rome had great admiration for Ancient Greece. Unlike Persia and Greek, Rome knew how to make people Romans. Persian Empire tried to absorb the conquered people but they still did not create unity. Greece tried but not everybody could be a citizen of Greece. But Rome knew how to truly absorb the surrounding cultures – both people and gods.
Some key aspects of the Roman Empire:
- The Emperor
- In 48 BC Julius Caesar declared himself the Dictator. After he was assassinated, his adopted son, Octavius through a series of battles and events became the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Some of those battles might be familiar to you (Mark Anthony and Cleopatra).
- In 27 BC the Senate gave him the title of Caesar Augustus and they became just an advisory council to the Emperor. His rule brought the PAX ROMANA. Rome’s first institutionalized police force and fire fighting force. He built roads throughout Italy.
- The Imperial cult was typically instituted after the death of the emperor. Domitian (AD 81-96) was the first to institute it in his own lifetime. He demanded to be addressed as “dominus et deus” = “Lord and god. This was a major problem to the Christians. (See I Peter 3:12-17; and Revelation 2:13 – “Satan’s throne” in Pergamum)
- Main administrative units; 2 kinds: Senatorial and imperial
- Senatorial provinces were ruled by governors who were appointed by the Senate. They were no threat to peace. For e.g. Sicily, Spain, Pamphylia, Africa, Macedonia, Asia, Crete, Cyprus, etc.
- Imperial provinces were also ruled by governors who were appointed by the emperor. They were on the borders of the empire and had a threat of revolt. For e.g. Syria, Gaul, Galatia, and Britain.
- Client Kingdoms
- Not directly administered by Rome but still under Roman rule.
- They were independent rulers who could appoint their own officials and implement their own policies.
- Palestine was ruled by Herod from 40BC – 4 BC (Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Peraea, and Idumea)
- After his death, his territory was divided into 3 parts: Judea, Idumea, and Samaria to Archelaus; North of Galilee to Philip; and Galilee and Peraea to Antipas.
- Archelaus was removed after 10 years and Idumea and Samaria went under Roman procurators (Pilate, Felix, and Festus).
- Later Herod Agrippa (Herod’s grandson) was a client king over North of Galilee, Galilee, Perea, and Judea. (Acts 12) His son Herod II (acts 25-26).
- Colonies and Free Cities
- Self governing settlements of Roman Citizens
- For e.g. Philippi and Corinth (locals who were granted Roman citizenship)
- Roman Citizenship
- People could have dual citizenship like Paul (Tarsus and Rome).
- It ensured loyalty.
- Roman Law
- Basis of Roman Authority was Legal. It all depended on RIGHT and JURISDICTION. Magistrates had complete power. Measure of all things was the LAW. (Greek – man; East – king; Jewish people – God).
- It was not perfect – THERE WAS CORRUPTION. The further from Rome, the more the corruption.
- The power over life and death (ius gladii) was always retained by Governors.
- Roman Taxation
- Poll tax was on every adult, including women and slaves.
- An amount was set but the local governors could set their amount.
- Pax Romana
- Common Currency – Greek coins (lepta, drachmai,) and Roman coins (assaria, quadrans, denarius). Also temple currency was in shekels
- Matthew 10:18; 11:8; 17:25; 18:23; 22:2; 25:40
- John 18:31
- Acts 16:19-40
- Galatians 3:28
- Acts 24:5