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Paul's Epistle to the Colossians Part 6: The Indwelling Word
Presenting the last two segments of Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, we made digressions to discuss several things which Paul may not have addressed explicitly, but which certainly are related to Paul’s message. The first of these addressed substance pharisaism. There are many substance pharisees who seek to judge other men for partaking of things which Yahweh’s law does not proscribe. Some of these things are a part of Yahweh’s very creation, and therefore He provided them. So if our God provided them, and did not prohibit them in His law, how could we justify prohibiting them? How could we condemn men for using such substances? The truth is that we cannot justly prohibit our brethren from anything which the law of our God does not prohibit. If we do, then we imagine ourselves to be as gods, like the high priests that Paul had scathingly criticized in his second epistle to the Thessalonians. They were sitting in the temple of God, exalting themselves above everything that was truly godly, and imagined themselves to be as gods. When man makes his own laws rather than seeking to uphold Yahweh’s law, he becomes an idolater because he is certainly not God. Yahweh did not give men laws as a supplement to man’s law. Rather, He gave men laws to live by, and when they do, they are free of the tyranny of men.
Another sort of pharisaism which we addressed was word pharisaism. The word pharisees insist upon controlling the lexicons of others. So where Paul had advised at Ephesians 4:29, for instance, to “let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth”, as one translation has it, they imagine that to refer to literal words rather than to lies, flattery, threats, provocations, ribaldry, statements which are actually damaging regardless of what sort of words are used to express them. Likewise, here in Colossians 3:8 Paul admonished against “filthy communications”, or as we would translate the phrase, “abusive language”, or perhaps “shameful language”. The shallow, Judaized denominational Christian imagines these passages to be talking about certain words when they are really admonishing men not to lie to one another, not to slander one another, not to blaspheme God, not to use flattery and deceit, or any of the other things which men say and do to one another whether they be done with language that is "nice" or "naughty". But these passages do not advocate word pharisaism.
When Christ told His disciples that “the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil”, He did not tell them that because they were walking around Jerusalem uttering what anyone imagined to be “dirty words”. Rather, as He had said in Matthew chapter 15, “19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man”, not the mere use of certain words. When Jesus said "the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil", as it is recorded in Luke chapter 6, He did not tell them that because they were walking around using the s-word or the c-word or the dreaded f-word. But rather He told them that as He was addressing hypocritical judgement, and illustrating the faults of the Pharisees who were using religion as a pretense for righteousness. That is exactly what people who use these passages to condemn another man for his language are doing! They are using religion as a pretense for their own righteousness. Our speech should be righteous no matter what words we happen to use. We should always seek to speak the truth, regardless of what we are speaking about or how we choose to say what things we feel that we must say. But we must not be word pharisees or we will certainly make an exhibit of ourselves as hypocrites. The substance of our speech is much more important than the form of our speech.
In the last segment of this presentation of Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, we had concluded with chapter 3 from the passage at verses 11 through the first half of verse 13, where Paul had written concerning the man in Christ “which is being renewed in knowledge in accordance with the image of He who is creating him”, and concerning that renewed man he said:
11 Where one is not Greek and Judaean, circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, free, but altogether and in all ways Anointed. 12 Therefore you put on (as elect of Yahweh, holy and beloved,) affections of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, forbearance, 13 being patient with one another and being forgiving to each other.
Commenting on this statement, we refuted the idea that Paul’s statements here support universalism of any kind. These statements which Paul makes cannot honestly be removed from their historical context. We had explained at length that since Paul is addressing those who are the “elect of Yahweh”, he must be speaking only of the descendants of the Old Testament Israelites. Those descendants were indeed found among the Greeks, among the Judaeans, among the Barbarians, among the Scythians, some of them were slaves, and some of them were free. Some of them were circumcised, and most of them were not circumcised. But Paul was not speaking about non-Israelites. This epistle is addressed to those who, as he had said in the first chapter of this epistle, were being qualified by God the Father “for that share of the inheritance of the saints in the light”, who were being “rescued ... from the authority of darkness”, and as he also said, “in whom we have redemption: the dismissal of errors.” For various reasons which we have often discussed here, these things can only apply to the descendants of the Old Testament Israelites.
In relation to this passage we had previously cited Isaiah chapter 45, and especially verse 4 where it says: “4 For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” Likewise we cited the first epistle of Peter, who was writing to the dispersed Israelites of the Old Testament where he quoted from Hosea chapter 1 and called them an “elect race”, a “holy nation” and a “peculiar people”.
In Psalm 105, observing the context of the verses, we see that the children of Israel are collectively the anointed of God, where it speaks to the children of Israel and it says: “11 ... Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance: 12 When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it. 13 When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people; 14 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; 15 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”
Here Paul is referring to those same Old Testament Israelites, who are the elect and who are those who have been anointed by Yahweh God Himself. Paul is not electing and anointing anyone in their place, but rather, as he said in Ephesians chapter 2, the household of God is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets”. Therefore identifying that household, we had better identify it according to the words of both the apostles and the prophets. Likewise in 1 John chapter 2 (2:20) the apostle told his intended readers “Yet you have an anointing from the Holy One”, meaning that the anointing of the people of God comes from God, and it is not from man. That anointing also belongs to those same people anointed in the Old Testament. Paul also said in Acts chapter 26 that “I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come.”
These European nations which Paul had called “Israel according to the flesh” in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 are the subject of the good message of the Gospel of Christ. They are the “twelve tribes scattered abroad” to which the apostle James had written. They are the nations descending from the promises to Abraham, the seed to which Paul had referred in Romans chapter 4. Once they are reconciled to Christ, they are no longer Greek and Judaean, circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free, meaning that they should love one another regardless of their status in life and regardless of which of the scattered nations of Israel they happen to have come from.
It is for this reason, that all Israel shall be saved, that Paul admonishes that they should have affections of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, forbearance and patience with one another, and that they should be forgiving to each other. However Christianity does not compel Christians to have any of these feelings for those outside of the bonds of the covenant. Instead, Paul advises these same Colossians in chapter 4 of this epistle that “In reference to those outside, you walk in wisdom, buying the time”. Christ had told His disciples to love one another, and Paul had told the Christians at Rome to prefer one another.
This is stated in Romans chapter 12 where Paul had written that: “5 in this manner we are many in one body with Christ, and each one members of one another. 6 But having varying gifts according to the favor which is given to us: whether interpretation of prophecy according to the proportion of faith; 7 or service in the ministry; or he that is teaching, in education; 8 or he that encourages, in encouragement; he that is sharing, with simplicity; he that is leading, with diligence; he showing mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Love without acting; abhorring wickedness, cleaving to goodness: 10 brotherly love affectioned towards one another; in honor preferring one another 11 with diligence, not hesitating; fervent in Spirit, serving the Prince. 12 Rejoicing in expectation; persevering in afflictions; firmly persisting in prayer; 13 sharing in the needs of the saints; pursuing hospitality.”
Preferring one another and loving one another, then by necessity those who are outside of the promises and the covenants and the Body of Christ must be neglected. All Israel shall be saved, but as Paul had said in 1 Corinthians chapter 1: “18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” And if they should not receive the Gospel, then they should not have our hospitality, which we see in the second epistle of John. This is how, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians chapter 6, Christians should “come out from among them, and be ye separate... and touch not the unclean”.
With this we shall commence with Colossians 3:13, where Paul continues to address the Christians at Colossae as to how they should treat one another, and he says:
If one should have a cause for complaint against anyone, then just as the Prince [C and the MT have “Christ”; א has “God”; the text follows P46, A, B, and D] has forgiven you, so also you do.
As Paul had said in Ephesians chapter 4, “32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” The apostles had asked Christ of this, where it is recorded in Matthew chapter 18: “21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” However the example in the parable which Christ then gives in that chapter, and a similar explanation which He had made that is recorded in the Gospel of Luke both inform us that to forgive one’s brother of a transgression, the brother is expected to be repentant. So we have the words attributed to Christ in Luke chapter 17 where it says: “3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”
We must therefore forgive our repentant brethren. But it must be remembered that we have no obligation to forgive unrepentant sinners. For instance, Paul himself advised the Corinthians to ostracize the fornicator of 1 Corinthians chapter 5, telling them to “deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh” and “therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” Putting such a person out of the Christian assembly, the unrepentant sinner would be at the mercy of the wicked world, and the will of God would be done with him, or perhaps with her. When the assembly at Corinth had instead chosen to forgive the fornicator, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians chapter 2 that “10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes I forgave it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” With this it is evident that while Paul continued to have reservations concerning the particular individual, he would nevertheless honor the actions of the assembly and act in a forgiving manner as well. Doing this, the enemies of Christ would not be able to take advantage of divisions within the body of Christians.
But there is no expectation to forgive outsiders or aliens who are not under the covenants and promises of God. Not even God offers forgiveness to goats, as He explicitly states in Matthew chapter 25. Paul continues:
14 And in addition to all these: love, which is the bond of perfection [D has “unity”].
Some months ago we made a presentation at the Fellowship of God’s Covenant People in Kentucky entitled Unity and Divisions. Doing that, we attempted to demonstrate that Christian Israelites should find grounds for true unity in the common expectation of eternal life which all of the children of Israel share, since they alone have that common promise of eternal salvation. As Yahweh said in Isaiah chapter 45, “17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” Here Paul is explaining that very thing, that because they are indeed the elect of God, and anointed in every way, they should treat one another well and have a common bond of unity in love, which is the bond of perfection. Thusly Paul had written in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 that even if speaking with the tongues of men and of angels, even if having the gift of prophecy and an understanding all mysteries and all knowledge and faith, and even if bestowing all his goods for the poor, and going so far as giving up his body to be burned, if he had not love, he is nothing. But that love must be for one another, according to the commandments of Christ.
In John chapter 15 we have this record of the words of Christ, where He is speaking of this common love which Christians should share: “10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” The demand for this love, and the forgiveness of which Paul speaks here, is nothing new among the children of Israel, as it says in Leviticus chapter 19 that “18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” However love such as this has rarely been practiced widely among Christian Israelites. In their sin, they would rather have love for the beasts.
Love is the bond of perfection, but Paul informs us here that that this love is in addition to how these Christians should treat one another, just as Christ has forgiven you. Again, Christians have no compulsion to treat those who are outside of the bonds of the covenant in this manner. Christ instructed His followers to love their own enemies, but He never instructed His followers to love His enemies. As David says in the Psalms, “21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” Thusly also the apostle John wrote in his second epistle “7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” Accepting the Jews who are forever opposed to Christ, accepting the dogs who are not to eat the bread of the children from the table of communion, as John warns here Christians can lose those things which they had wrought, and therefore not receive a full reward.
This hatred for the enemies of Christ should still be born by all Christians everywhere. As Paul wrote in the epistle to the Hebrews, concerning Christ, in chapter 1: “13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” Again, he wrote, concerning Christ, in chapter 10: “12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
If all of these things were not still relevant in the Christian dispensation, then Paul would have no business repeating them. The enemies of Christ are also the enemies of Christians, as Zacharias gave the purpose of the coming of Christ, where it is recorded in Luke chapter 1, “That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us”. If all of these things were not relevant to the children of Israel in the Christian dispensation, then Paul, as he did in Hebrews chapter 11, had no business holding up as an example of the faith the fact that the ancient children of Israel by faith had “34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” And that is indeed an example for Christians today, as they are once again flooded with aliens. So Paul writes again of Christ in 1 Corinthians chapter 15: “25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” Surely, Paul was both relevant and correct in making those examples to the Hebrews, because as it says of Christ in the Revelation, “in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” But here Paul talks about peace:
15 And the peace of Christ must be the judge in your hearts, for which you are also called in one [P46 and B want “one”] body, and you should be thankful.
As it says in Luke chapter 1 in the announcement of the birth of the Christ child: “Honor to Yahweh in the heights, and peace upon the earth among approved men.” The peace of Christ is that peace which the children of Israel are promised along with the call to obedience in the Gospel of Christ. Thus it says in Isaiah chapter 54, speaking of Israel: “5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. 6 For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. [And this defines just who was ‘called’.] 7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. 8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. [Who is Christ.] 9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. 10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. [Mercy, kindness and the covenant are only for Israel.] 11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. 12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. [The description of the new Jerusalem for the twelve tribes of Israel, seen in Revelation chapter 21.] 13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children. [Speaking to Israel.]” So the children of Israel have peace when they are “taught of the Lord”, as it says here in the King James Version of Isaiah chapter 54.
The children of Israel are the called of Yahweh their God, as we read in Isaiah chapter 48, “12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.” As we have just seen in Isaiah chapter 54, that Yahweh called the children of Israel “as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused”, and that refusal happened when the Old Testament Israelites were put off in the Assyrian captivity for their sins. But the call is the call of the Gospel, which is the announcement of peace between God and Israel, as we read in Isaiah chapter 52: “6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I. 7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! 8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.”
And in Isaiah chapter 54 we see that this call to Israel is a call for a wife to return to her husband. This is important to understand, because only in that manner is Israel called in one body to Christ. As it says in the law, a husband and wife become one flesh, in Genesis chapter 2, “24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” From the time of the Exodus and Mount Sinai, Yahweh God considered Himself to be the husband of the nation of Israel, His wife. So if Christ is the Head of the Body of the children of Israel, and the husband as well, then He must be of the same flesh as His wife. That is the requirement for a valid marriage in the law, as it says in that same chapter of Genesis: “20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. 21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” As Paul said in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 that “All flesh is not the same flesh”, no creature of another race can be a part of the Body of Christ, since the body of the wife must be of one and the same flesh with the Husband. To fulfill the Law and be able to betroth Himself to Israel, as it is promised in Hosea chapter 2, Christ had to be of the same flesh and bone as the children of Israel. Thusly we read in Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews, in chapter 2: “16 For surely not that of angels has He taken upon Himself, but He has taken upon Himself of the offspring of Abraham, 17 from which He was obliged in all respects to become like the brethren, that He would be a compassionate and faithful high priest of the things pertaining to Yahweh to make a propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Some people errantly doubt that Christ received 23 chromosomes from Mary, His mother. If Christ was not of the physical seed of Abraham, as Mary was His mother, then He could not have “in all respects to become like the brethren”. If Christ was literally of the seed of Abraham, then Mary was His natural mother, and here we also see that “the brethren” of Christ also must be of the literal seed of Abraham: the children of Israel. Christians could not be one body with Christ as the Head, and the nation of the people of Israel made up of Christians could not be represented as the wife of Christ in that one body, unless Yahshua Christ was of the same flesh and bone as those whom He called to return to Him as His wife, who are properly only those descendants of the Old Testament Israelites, the seed of Abraham.
This is the only way in which Christians may be called in one body with Christ. Those who are not first of that body, but are of a different flesh, cannot ever be Christians simply because they are not called to return to Him. They are not the called, nor are they chosen. As the children of Israel are depicted as saying in Isaiah chapter 63: “18 The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. 19 We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name.” Those are the outsiders of which Paul later speaks here, and the enemies of Hebrews, Luke, and the Revelation which we have already mentioned. Continuing with Paul:
16 The word of Christ [א and I have “of the Lord”; A and C “of God”; the text follows P46, B, and the MT] must dwell in you abundantly, with all wisdom, teaching and advising each other with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, in grace singing in your hearts to Yahweh.
This encouragement to celebrate our God and our Salvation is merely a continuation of Old Testament tradition reflected throughout the Psalms of David. From the 95th Psalm: “1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”
Many people, even the aliens among us, profess to have Christ. But we must ask, do they truly have the Word of Christ? Not the word, “christ”, but the Word of Christ? If they do not have the Word of Christ, then they do not really have Christ. As Christ Himself had warned us: “22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
The Word of Christ said that “10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” While here Christ had reinforced the commandment to love one another, the plural commandments are found in His law in the Old Testament.
This is the word of Christ which must abide in us, as Yahweh had promised that He would write His law in the hearts of the children of Israel, and the apostle John said this same thing in another way, in 1 John chapter 3: “18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”
There is a lot of theological psychobabble in Judaized denominational churchianity concerning the nature of the indwelling word of God. But this is the only indwelling word of God found in the Scripture: that the law of God was written into the hearts of the children of Israel, which is those who are of the house of Israel and the house of Judah, the literal descendants of Jacob, as Yahweh God Himself had promised the Old Testament Israelites that He would write His law in their hearts in connection with the New Covenant that is promised to them in Jeremiah chapter 31. “31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” This is the Indwelling Word. Paul quoted this same passage in relation to Christ in Hebrews chapter 8.
Being willing to follow the law of God is a sign that ones heart is circumcised after the manner in which Yahweh had promised those same Old Testament Israelites in the law itself, in Deuteronomy chapter 30. There we see foretold a future recovery of the children of Israel after the captivity which they would suffer in the event that they were disobedient, and they were disobedient so they went into that captivity 700 years after Deuteronomy was written. There the Word of Christ speaks to the children of Israel and says: “1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, 2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. 4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. 6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. 7 And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee. 8 And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.” This summarizes the entire story of the Old Testament Israelites, that they suffered these things for their sin, but they were promised reconciliation in a Messiah, which we see is stated explicitly in Daniel chapter 9 where it says that, among other things, the Messiah would “make reconciliation for iniquity”.
The message of the Gospel is a message of good news: deliverance of the captives, a rescue from the powers of darkness, redemption and reconciliation for iniquity and a forgiveness of sins, and it is the announcement of that same New Covenant with the children of Israel which is promised in Jeremiah. When the ancient children of Israel seek to return to Yahweh their God through Christ, then, in Deuteronomy, He had promised to circumcise their hearts, that they may love His law. This is the only prophesied manner in which the indwelling word is dispensed to the people of God, the people who are the descendants of the Old Testament Israelites for whom Christ had come. Even the promises of that first Christian Pentecost foretold in Joel chapter 2 are predicated upon this same thing, as speaking to those same children of Israel it first says “12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” Then, in relation to Christ and His bride, which are the collective people of Israel, it says further on: “16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.”
Rend your heart, and not your garments, because Yahweh your God cares for the substance of your faith, and not the appearance of your religion. It is the same with love for your brethren. Love for your brethren is in substance, and not merely superficial kindness. As the apostle James admonished in his lone epistle: “15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
In Deuteronomy chapter 10, before giving them the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience, Yahweh had appealed to the children of Israel in the same manner which He had later in Deuteronomy chapter 30, and He said: “15 Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” [Rend your hearts, and not your garments.] So we see that the children of Israel should have loved His law all the more, because His law set them above all other peoples. In Christ, as we have already cited this evening from 1 Peter chapter 2, the apostles continued to exhort the twelve tribes of Israel in this same manner, that they were to be an “elect race”, a “holy nation” and a “peculiar people”. So Paul admonished the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 to “come out from the midst of them and be separated," because Christ has no accord with Belial.
When a Christian Israelite seeks to separate himself from the other races, he is obeying the Indwelling Word. When he abhors sin, even if at times his flesh is weak, he is nevertheless obeying the Indwelling Word. Christians can sin, as the apostle John had said elsewhere in that same epistle: “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins,” and as John also says in that epistle, if their seed abides in them (if they are of the Adamic race which Yahweh created), they really cannot sin, because their sin will not be accounted to them. So here in 1 John 3 we can come to understand that if Christians love their God and His law, then they shall abide in His love. Paul spoke similarly in Romans chapter 7 where he said, in part “16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.” John described this same thing as conviction of the heart. Then Paul, understanding that there were times when he would sin, in that same place had admitted that “I am a miserable man!” and asked rhetorically “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” After making that admission, he gave his thanks Yahweh his God that He was indeed able to deliver him from death. And for that same reason, Paul says here:
17 And everything, whatever you would do in word or in deed, all in the name of Prince Yahshua [A, C, and D have “name of Yahshua Christ”; א “name of Prince Yahshua Christ”; the text follows P46, B, and the MT], being thankful to Yahweh the Father through Him.
Christians should forever be thankful to Yahweh their God, because in Him they have a promise of redemption from hell and death. As it says of the children of Israel in Hosea chapter 13: “12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. 13 The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children. 14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” Thusly it also speaks of the children of Judah in Isaiah chapter 28, in a Messianic prophecy: “14 Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. 15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: 16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. 18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. 19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.”
No other race has such a promise, and for that alone the children of Israel should love one another, because they have a promise of living with one another for eternity. If one hates his brother, what kind of eternity should one have? If one loves the heathens who, according to Obadiah, “shall be as though they had not been”, one shall have an eternity of nothing.
Here Paul’s attention turns to discuss some of the more immediate matters of worldly conduct in Christ, which all Christians should also follow if they truly love one another:
18 Wives, subject yourselves to the [D has “your”] husbands, as is proper with the Prince. 19 Husbands, love the [D has “your”; the text follows P46, א, A, B, C, and the MT] wives and have no bitter feelings towards them [or “do not be exasperated with them”].
Liberalism and Democracy are not Godly. Christians are only assured liberty in Christ, and Christianity is a Theocratic institution, not a democratic one. Where Yahweh God had said to Eve in Genesis chapter 3 that “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”, He was not punishing her, but only demanding that she be restored to her place in the natural order of His creation. Thus it says in Genesis chapter 2: “18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Therefore Paul had written likewise, in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, “8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”
In a similar statement in Ephesians, an epistle written not long before this one, Paul said “21 Subject yourselves to one another in fear of Christ: 22 wives, to their own husbands, as if to the Prince, 23 because the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the assembly: He is deliverer of the body. 24 But as the assembly is subject to Christ, in that manner also wives in everything to the husbands. 25 Husbands, love the wives, just as Christ has also loved the assembly, and had surrendered Himself for it…” So as we see here, the Godly Christian household is a household of three, Christ, and then the man, and then the woman. A man not subject to Christ can not justly expect a wife to be subject to him. A man subject to Christ has that same love for his wife as Christ Himself has for His own wife, which is the collective of the children of Israel.
The apostle Peter had taught the same thing in chapter 3 of his first epistle: “1 Likewise the wives being subject to their own husbands, in order that if some then disobey the Word, through the conduct of the wives they shall have advantage without the Word, 2 observing in fear your pure conduct, 3 of which the dress must not be outward with braids of hair and applications of gold or putting on of garments, 4 but the hidden man of the heart with the incorruptibility of the gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious before Yahweh. 5 For thusly at one time also the holy women who have hope in Yahweh had dressed themselves being subject to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah had obeyed Abraham calling him master, whose children you have been born to do good and not fearing any terror. 7 The men likewise, living together in accordance with the knowledge that with the feminine is the weaker vessel, imparting honor as they are also fellow-heirs of the favor of life, for your prayers not to be hindered.”
The proper role for women in a Christian family is to manage the household, after the manner in which it is described in Proverbs chapter 31. This same thing Paul had advised in Titus chapter 2, where speaking of the role of elders in the Christian assembly he had written: “3 Elderwomen in like manner in a condition befitting sanctity, not slanderous, not enslaved to much wine, teachers of virtue 4 in order that they may admonish the young women to be lovers of husband, lovers of children, 5 discreet, pure, good homemakers, being subject to their own husband in order that the word of Yahweh is not blasphemed.” A look at the pagan Greek literature, such as Euripides’ Alcestis (from line 304) or Electra (from line 54) reveals that Greek customs in this regard were just like the Hebrew customs.
20 Children, you obey the parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing with the Prince.
The first several of the ten commandments have to do with respect for God Himself. Then the very next commandment after those, usually numbered fourth, reads thus, as the King James Version has it in Exodus chapter 20: “12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” Therefore, in Ephesians chapter 6, Paul says that this commandment “is the first commandment with a promise”.
21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, that they are not disheartened.
In Ephesians 6:4 Paul made a similar exhortation: “4 And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them in education and admonition of authority.” The Greek word ἐρεθίζω (Strong’s # 2042), is to rouse to anger, rouse to fight, irritate, and also to provoke or excite, according to Liddell & Scott. So while the proper discipline of children is certainly a necessity, fathers should nevertheless not torment their children. As it says in Proverbs chapter 13, “24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”
The word ἐρεθίζω appears twice in Proverbs, first in chapter 19 where it says, from Brenton’s Septuagint, “7 Every one who hates his poor brother shall also be far from friendship. Good understanding will draw near to them that know it, and a sensible man will find it. He that does much harm perfects mischief; and he that used provoking words shall not escape.” Then in chapter 25: “23 The north wind raises clouds; so an impudent face provokes the tongue.” So we may see what sort of provocation Paul refers to here.
22 Bondmen, you be obedient in all respects [P46 wants “in all respects”] to fleshly masters, not with lip-service as men-pleasers, but with simplicity of heart, fearing the Prince.
Paul made this same admonition concerning slaves at Ephesians 6:5-8 where he wrote: “5 Bondmen, obey fleshly masters with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as with Christ. 6 Not with lip-service as men-pleasers, but as bondmen of Christ, doing the will of Yahweh from the soul, 7 with good will doing service as if to the Prince and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good each may have done, this he will recover for himself as appropriate, whether bondman or free.”
As we had translated it in Ephesians, we also did here, where the Greek word for lip-service (ὀφθαλμοδουλία, Strong's # 3787) literally means eye-service, and the departure fully suits the intended meaning of the idiom. The term “men-pleasers” is a literal translation.
23 Whatever you would do, work heartily, as for the Prince and not for men [A has “as serving the Prince and not men”, compare Ephesians 6:7]. 24 Knowing that from the Prince you shall recover the return of the inheritance, the Anointed Prince you serve.
In verse 24, the 3rd century papyrus P46, the Codex Alexandrinus (A), and the Majority Text have “you shall receive the return of the inheritance”; the text here follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C), and Claromontanus (D). The difference is that have the first group of manuscripts have λαμβάνω (2983), which is literally only to receive, and the latter group have ἀπολαμβάνω (618), for which we should write recover. In Ephesians 6:8, where Paul made a similar statement, he used a completely different verb, κομίζω, which may mean either to receive or to recover.
The word rendered as return here is ἀνταπόδοσις (Strong’s # 469), is literally a giving back in turn, according to Liddell & Scott, who note that the word can mean “a rendering, requiting, repayment, reward” as it was used in the New Testament, where they follow the King James Version translators. However the inheritance in Christ is not a mere reward for doing good. Rather, it was something which was explicitly promised by God to return to the children of Israel in their redemption and that reconciliation which is the purpose of the Christ. Wherever Paul expressed the concept of a mere reward, he used words such as μισθός.
We dispute the notion that ἀνταπόδοσις can mean reward at all, since it describes an act of getting something again, of getting something back. This meaning of the word cannot be ignored. Likewise, Liddell & Scott admit that the related words ἀνταπόδομα (Strong’s # 468) and ἀνταποδίδωμι (Strong’s # 467) respectively mean repayment or requital and to give back, repay, tender in repayment or requital, to make a return. If ἀνταπόδομα is repayment, and ἀνταποδίδωμι to repay, then an ἀνταπόδοσις is a return, not a reward, since one can only have returned to him that which was once rightfully his own in the first place.
Subtle differences in understanding of the meanings of certain Greek words make a world of difference when one attempts to formulate a correct Christian worldview within the context of Scripture.
25 But he doing wrong is provided for that which he has done wrong, and there is not respect of the stature of persons [I adds the words “with God” here].
The Greek word προσωπολημψία (Strong’s # 4382) is rendered here as “respect of the stature of persons”. It may also have been rendered “respect of the status of persons.” Paul made a similar statement in reference to masters and slaves in Ephesians 6:9. Paul clarifies the intention of this statement in the opening verse of Colossians chapter 4, where he says “Masters, give to the bondmen that which is just and that which is fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.”
The word προσωπολημψία is a compound of the word πρόσωπον, which refers to “the face, visage, countenance...one’s look...outward appearance, beauty” and a form of the verb λαμβάνω, which means to receive. The meanings of the underlying words clearly implicate not the substance of the person himself, but the appearance, the stature or status of a person. This is how the word was used in James chapter 2, where the status of a wealthy man was contrasted to the status of a poor man, and James criticizes those who would gladly receive the one and neglect the other. The word προσωπολημψία has nothing to do with the natural identity of people, but only with their position in life. If God did not observe the identity of people, then Paul would have no right to warn Christians as to “those outside”, in chapter 4 of this epistle. The New Testament is full of examples where the identity of people is deemed to be of the utmost importance, as Christ had said “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”, and then He told the Jews, “you believe Me not, because you are not of My sheep.”