Epistles of Paul Audio and Written Bible Commentary

Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 15: Sons or Bastards

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Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 15: Sons or Bastards

As we have proceeded through Hebrews chapter 11, we have sought to understand Paul’s reasoning in his descriptions of the faith of the patriarchs from a historical perspective: that the Old Testament accounts describing the lives of the patriarchs and saints exhibit that their faith was a Christian faith long before the advent of Christ Himself. In that respect, the Old Testament saints were Christians before the time of Christ, and they were never Jews. Paul spoke in this same regard in 2 Corinthians chapter 3, where he was describing how it was that the ritual elements and ceremonies of the law were being left unemployed, and speaking of those who were disobedient in the past he said that “14 Yet their minds were hardened; even to this day today the same veil remains upon the reading of the old covenant, which not being uncovered is left unemployed in Christ. 15 Then until this day, whenever Moses is read a veil lies upon their hearts. 16 But when perhaps you should turn to the Prince, the veil is taken away.” So according to Paul of Tarsus, the Old Testament scriptures are only for Christians, their significance is only revealed to those who accept Christ, and therefore nobody else has any authority to even comment upon them.

We have also sought to clarify some obscure details of Scripture, while elucidating the historicity of the accounts themselves. Here, as we approach the close of Paul’s famous discourse on the faith, we shall continue in that same endeavor. The historicity of the Old Testament is constantly being attacked by critics of modern denominational Christianity, and especially by critics of the Jews as well as by Jews themselves. What those critics do not realize is that the denominational churches have never actually taught Christianity, the Jews can never possibly understand it, and the Jews are neither the subjects nor the true heirs of the Old Testament Scriptures. First century Christians themselves insisted that the so-called “Gentiles”, the people of the nations of the Greco-Roman οἰκουμένη, were indeed the true subjects and heirs of the Scriptures, who had been alienated from Yahweh God many centuries before Christ. They also attested that the Jews are Edomites, not Israelites, and the historians Josephus and Strabo fully support that attestation. The Scriptures themselves, in both Old Testament and New, also support all of these assertions.

Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 16: The Sins of Esau: No Birthrights for Bastards

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Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 16: The Sins of Esau, No Birthrights for Bastards

Finishing his description of the faith of the Old Testament saints, Paul of Tarsus had referred to them as a “great a cloud of witnesses lying around us”, a reference to either the well-known past history of his Hebrew readers, or perhaps allegorically to the parchments upon which the accounts were written, lying around him as he wrote this epistle. In any event, Paul’s explanations were meant to describe how these Old Testament saints had acted upon their faith, and were therefore accredited for their actions.

Christians, even Identity Christians, sometimes see faith as some mystical substance which can rather magically save them regardless of what they may do in this world. They have it all wrong. While none of us are perfect, we must at least endeavor to keep the commandments of Yahweh our God and the expectations of Christ if we expect the favor of God. We can go back to our description of the Roman jailer in Acts chapter 16, which we had also discussed when we presented Hebrews chapter 4 here a couple of months ago. There we said, in part, that:

… as it is described in the Book of Acts, once the warden of the jail where Paul and Silas were kept realized the power of Yahweh, the God of Paul and Silas, when the earthquake had opened the doors of his jail, he went to Paul and inquired what it was that he must do to be “saved”. The jailer, who was about to slay himself fearing what would happen if any of the prisoners escaped, was a Roman pagan. Therefore he had no consciousness of the possibility of eternal life in Jesus. He only sought earthly salvation from the punishment he expected for which he nearly killed himself…. [But when he was about to do so Paul intervened and we read:] “28 But with a great voice Paul cried out saying ‘Do nothing evil to yourself! For we are all here!’ 29 And requesting a light he burst in and coming trembling fell before Paul and Silas, 30 and leading them outside he said ‘Masters, what is necessary for me to do that I be saved?’ 31 And they said ‘Believe in the Prince Yahshua and you and your house shall be saved.’”

When the jailer in Philippi was afraid that his prisoners escaped, Paul assured him that they were all present. The jailer must have been relieved, but feared his position and the Roman authorities above him, because of the circumstances, deciding that he should trust Paul he asked “what is necessary for me to do that I be saved?” When the jailer asked this, he had no concept of Jesus and he was ignorant of Christian concepts of salvation, being a pagan. He just didn’t want to lose his earthly hide. Paul’s perspective was different. Paul was confident the prisoners were not going to escape, so the jailer would not be punished, and he was indeed focused on the greater prospect of salvation in Christ. So Paul assured him that accepting the faith in Christ he and his whole house would be preserved, and Paul said this even though his house had not yet heard of Jesus, because keeping the commandments of Christ and loving one’s brother are the way to life in this world. Therefore speaking of the jailer of Acts chapter 16 we concluded:

The jailer being the head of his house, if he chose to keep the commandments of Christ then the household would follow by necessity. Turning to Christ, the jailer and his household would ostensibly keep the commandments of Christ, and that is the way to preservation in this life, by which the children of Israel can hope to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth….

Doing what Christ has commanded, Christians hope to be preserved in this world, and not only in the world which is to come. The jailer understood Paul’s words in practical terms, and not within the artificial paradigm which has been constructed by the denominational churches. Once again we can cite Paul’s words in Philippians chapter 2 where he said “14 Do all things apart from murmuring and disputing, 15 that you would be perfect and with unmixed blood, blameless children of Yahweh in the midst of a race crooked and perverted - among whom you appear as luminaries in the Society, 16 upholding the Word of Life for a boast with me in the day of Christ...”

Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 17: The Mountain of God

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Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 17: The Mountain of God

In the last several segments of this presentation of Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews, we spoke at great length concerning the racial exclusivity of the covenants which Yahweh had made with Abraham and with Israel. This is because this important and most basic doctrine of Christianity is disregarded entirely by the denominational churches of today, who are all worshipping at the Baal altars of Babylon, Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Hebrews chapter 11, Paul of Tarsus had extolled the Old Testament saints for their ability to turn “to flight the armies of the aliens” through their faith. Then in Hebrews chapter 12, and in relation to his own time, he warned his readers that if they were without discipline then they are bastards, and not sons. The King James Version has chastisement in Hebrews 12:8, where we have discipline. The Greek word is παιδεία, a word which basically refers to the training or education of children. It is derived from παῖς, a word for son. While any or all creatures may suffer trials in this world, only the children of Israel are being schooled through those trials for the Kingdom of Heaven which is to come. As Paul told the Galatians, who were descended from the long-scattered Israelites of the Assyrian deportations, “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ”, thusly he wrote here to the Hebrews, the Israelites of the remnant in Judaea, in a very similar way.

Further on in Hebrews chapter 12 Paul explained why Esau really lost his birthright: because he was a profane man and a fornicator. Esau, who despised his birthright and sold it to his brother, took Hittite wives, and for that reason he could not recover what he had lost. Bastards are the product of fornication, which is race-mixing. So we see in reference to fornication that Yahshua Christ, in Revelation chapter 2, forewarned that He would destroy the children of those who commit fornication, ostensibly because they are bastards.

Some of these things which Paul had said concerning bastards and the fornication of Esau in Hebrews chapter 12 must have discomfited more than a few of his readers. As Paul had explained in Romans chapter 9, and as we may clearly see in the histories of Flavius Josephus, many of the Judaeans of his time were Edomites that were converted to the religion of the Judaeans nearly two hundred years before this epistle was written. Here in this chapter of Hebrews Paul is very bluntly explaining the implications of this situation. Today, most denominational Christians have a race-mixer in their own family, and we see how offended they get when they are informed of the consequences. Many of Paul’s Hebrews were very likely just as offended. Even Josephus, while he understood and recorded the history, had Herod Agrippa II as a good friend, and their families apparently even intermarried. Josephus, a Levite and a Pharisee, knew that the family of Herod were Edomites, but was evidently oblivious to the Scriptural implications, not much different from today’s denominational so-called pastors.

Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 18: The Walk of the Faith

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Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 18: The Walk of the Faith

Throughout the early chapters of this epistle to the Hebrews Paul sought to convince his readers that Yahshua Christ is indeed the ultimate prophet and messenger of God, citing many of the Messianic Psalms and attesting that they are prophecies of Christ as the promised Son of Scripture, the Messiah or Anointed Son through whom Israel would ultimately attain salvation. Doing this he illustrated the profession of David that this Son would belong to a priesthood other than that of Levi, and from the Genesis account he showed that this priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, transcended the priesthood of Levi. In relation to all of these things, Paul had also cited accounts from the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy, and held up aspects of the lives of Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon all as types for Christ. And while doing this he sought to show that the entire history and purpose of the Old Testament interaction between Yahweh and Israel was to bring the children of Israel to the New Covenant in Christ, for which reason He is called in other scriptures the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world”. Then in his discourse on the faith of the Old Testament saints, Paul asserted that their actions were all in anticipation of this assurance of the faith which these Hebrews had now possessed, for which reason they must not reject their Messiah, who is the confirmation of the promises to the fathers.

Convincing the Hebrews that all of these things were so, if indeed they continued to read his epistle to this point, Paul then sought to convince them to depart from their earthly trappings under the Old Covenant and grasp the eternal inheritance assured by the New Covenant, through the perpetual propitiation offered by the transcendent Christ, which is the true substance of the Faith found in the promises to the patriarchs. But, as he illustrates by his explanation, this faith is the faith of history, and the recipients of the promises have not changed with the change in covenants. So we see in Hebrews chapter 11 that Paul extolled the ancient Israelites for turning to flight the armies of the aliens through their faith. Then in Hebrews chapter 12 he warned that those who do not stand correction fail because they are bastards, and not sons. With this illustration he upheld Esau as an example for those who lose their birthright on account of their fornication, or race-mixing, and finally he made an analogy which showed that any beast – ostensibly anyone who is not of the race of the children of Israel – who touches the mountain of God shall be destroyed.

Paul's Epistle to Titus, Part 1: Purity Spiraling in Apostolic Christianity

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Paul's Epistle to Titus, Part 1: Purity Spiraling in Apostolic Christianity

The early manuscript evidence for the epistle to Titus is found in the papyrus designated P32, which is esteemed to date from around 200 AD; the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus (א); the 5th century Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C) and Vaticanus 2061 (048); and the 6th century Codices Claromontanus (D) and 088, which is an unnamed manuscript that may be a little older than that, and in which survive only a few fragments, parts of the first 13 verses of this epistle as well as parts of the final chapters of 1 Corinthians. Additionally, Paul’s epistle to Titus is cited or mentioned in the epistles of Ignatius, which date to around the very beginning of the 2nd century, and also by Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria, who are both of the late 2nd century, and by Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian, all of whom wrote in the early half of the 3rd century. However none of these early sources add anything to our knowledge of Titus himself or his work in the ministry of Christ.

For the historical background on Titus, we must also include a brief discussion of Paul’s travels in relation to the epistles which he had written to the Corinthians and the Galatians, as Titus is mentioned in both of them. The first surviving epistle to the Corinthians was written during the time that Paul stayed in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8, 19), as it is described in Acts chapter 19. After spending approximately three years in Ephesus, Paul departed from the city in 56 AD. His departure may be reckoned by counting backwards from the time of his detention in Caesareia which is given by Luke in the final chapters of the Book of Acts, by comparing the times of the terms of office of the Roman procurators Festus and Felix which are known from history. The primary witness for this in Luke's writing is at Acts 24:26-27 where he says of Felix “But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.” Many historians debate whether it was 58 AD or 59AD, but the one-year difference is close enough for us. We cannot be absolutely certain, but for various historical reasons we are confident that the year was 59, and we can count back through the Book of Acts to this point in 56 AD. That is also the year in which we believe this epistle to Titus was written, in the Summer of 56 AD, or perhaps the Spring of that year if Paul had to leave Ephesus before the Pentecost which he had planned on spending there (1 Corinthians 16:8).

This map of the empire in the time of Augustus shows Nicopolis in Thrace to the north, and Nicopolis in Greece, in Epirus, on the coast opposite the tip of Italy. Click here for higher resolution.

The Epistles of Paul – Titus, Part 2: Leadership Morality, A Husband of One Wife

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The Epistles of Paul – Titus, Part 2: Leadership Morality, A Husband of One Wife

In the opening segment of this presentation of Paul’s epistle to Titus we set forth the assertion that Titus is the Titus Justus, or Titios Justus, of the older manuscripts of Acts 18:7, who became a colleague of Paul from the time when Paul had stayed in his house in Corinth, around 49 or 50 AD. We also demonstrated, by referencing Paul’s own statements concerning Titus in his second epistle to the Corinthians, that this epistle was written from the Troad as Paul left Ephesus in 56 AD, and that Titus met with Paul in Makedonia shortly thereafter, spending the winter months with him in Nicopolis of Epirus before bringing Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians to Achaia in very early 57 AD, ahead of Paul’s planned visit there. With that we had asserted that the statement made by Paul here in this epistle, that he had left Titus in Crete, must have referred to an earlier time, to an event which happened between 52 and 55 AD, as Titus was with Paul when he travelled to Antioch after departing from Corinth in late 51 or early 52 AD, something which is evident in his epistle to the Galatians which was written just after that visit to Antioch, or perhaps in Antioch after the visit to Jerusalem which was on the way to Antioch.

Now, departing from his three-year stay in Ephesus (Acts 20:31) and arriving in the Troad, Paul had expected to find Titus there, and was disappointed when he did not find him. Writing this epistle, after his opening salutation Paul says “5 For this reason I had left you in Krete: that you would set in order the things which are wanting, and establish elders by city, as I have instructed you.” Understanding the context of these events within the chronology of Paul’s ministry much better than we had when we did our original translation in 2001 and 2003, we are going to revise the phrase “I have left you in Crete” to “I had left you in Crete”, since the verb is in the Aorist tense and either interpretation is possible. It is now evident to us that Paul had left Titus in Crete at some point in the past, but Titus did not remain there, especially since here, as he departed from Ephesus, Paul expected to find Titus in the Troad, which we have seen from his statement in 2 Corinthians. Later it is evident that Titus did not return again to Crete, or reside there permanently, as he spent the following winter with Paul in Nicopolis, went on to Corinth, and he is not mentioned again until the during the period of Paul’s detention in Rome when he had gone off to Dalmatia.

The Epistles of Paul – Titus, Part 3: The Cleanliness of God

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The Epistles of Paul – Titus, Part 3: The Cleanliness of God

As we have already discussed at length in the opening segments of our presentation of Paul’s epistle to Titus, when the apostle arrived in the Troad he must have been informed that Titus was in Crete, and that there were some problems there among the assemblies. So in the opening verses of chapter 1 of this epistle we had observed where Paul addressed Titus as a true member of his race, according to the common belief. We interpret that statement to mean that even though Titus was a Greek by race, perceptibly he was of the race of the ancient Israelites, and therefore should be accepted as such. Then after reminding Titus of why he was sent to Crete in the first place, in order to organize the Christian assemblies there, Paul advised him to ensure that elders, which are the overseers or bishops of each assembly, were established, and that the offices be filled by men who had endeavored to maintain a virtuous way of life. The foremost of the examples of virtue which Paul gave was that they were to have been the husbands of one wife, and that they had children without the possibility that they themselves could be accused of disobedience. We also perceive this to mean that men who would be leaders of Christian assemblies should have experience raising families of their own, they should be committed to those families, and that their children in turn must also be true members of the race, since otherwise the men would be chargeable.

Making these admonitions to Titus, Paul advised him that the “Cretans are always liars”, evidently quoting the Cretan poet Epimenides. Since Epimenides was a Cretan, modern commentators interpret the statement paradoxically, but we have asserted that Paul and other early Christian writers did not interpret it in that manner. Rather, they accepted it at face value. The early 2nd century Greek writer Plutarch also accepted the statement of Epimenides as being true, and it seems to have been a common observation, as he even used the term κρητισμός, or Cretan behavior, to describe the act of lying. Paul himself had said of the saying of Epimenides that “13 This testimony is true, for which cause you must censure them relentlessly, that they would be sound in the faith, 14 not giving heed to myths of Judaism and injunctions of men turning themselves away from the truth.” So Paul seems to be using the line from Epimenides as a rhetorical device in order to warn Titus of how important it is that he make certain that the most pious and virtuous men among the Christians in Crete were given the responsibility of supervising each assembly, men who exhibited piety in the conduct of their lives, and not merely men who professed piety with their lips.

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