Not a Burning Log to Stoke More Fire to An Already Fiery Discussion, But a Small Lighted Candle May Be

Eusebio Tanicala (x@xy.com) wrote: Mga Kasama sa pbcaa yahoogroups: I’ve asked F_ and M_ to stop using the pbcaa blog in their issue clarification. I told them to use their private emails if there are items they want to study or clarify.
Let’s make the blog positive. I requested our webmasters (brother P_and brother A_) to screen entries/postings. Thank you for your cooperation. Your brother, Eusebio Tanicala

Ed (y@xx.com) wrote:

And to add a positive note to that, here’s the news:

A lady came to our meeting hall one Sunday. I did not recognize her from Eve’s side, but that’s no reason not to be nice. After the worship she told me she was strengthened by our positive approach to learning the Word, treating it as God speaking to us, making it our guide in everyday living, listening to its encouragement to live on as a people who are not meant for this world, looking beyond this age for our reward.

She heard about me from my own enemies, who did nothing but discredit me. She wondered why I never retaliated, that is, paid harsh words for harsh words. That kept her thinking: Her husband made her a punching bag after they had an altercation, in which she fought back with all her might. Realizing that she was no match to a male abuser who forgot his vows to love and to cherish her till death do them part, she decided to come to our meeting hall. She wanted to commit suicide and came to me for advice.

For three Sundays she listened. Finally, she took the courage to tell me that she wants to be a part of the group who calls themselves Christians. I immersed her last Saturday (February 9, 2008), in a nice pool in one of those exclusive subdivisions in Cebu, in the property leased by an American brother, Mark Vandyke of Lexmark Corporation.

This is one reason why in the midst of all these hot discussions, I remain cool. It is not the non-Christians alone who are watching us. Brethren who are bored of our discussions are watching us. Christians who are non-committed to any issue pro and con are watching us. The nice young men who are looking for good examples to emulate are watching us. The others who are just looking for trouble are watching us. And most of all God in heaven is watching us.

Mimi Rosales, the lady I just baptized, has been observing me all along, and wondered about the kind of doctrine I am teaching. She came out of curiosity and need for advice on whether to commit suicide is the best way out of a problem, and heard us, and saw that this is the group she wants to be a part of.

I don’t want as much as possible to be the burning log to stoke much fire to the already fiery discussion. A small candle maybe, to light the path for one who is looking for God.

I have been busy writing for an Australian who wants to put more meat and content to his blog. I am paid to do this, and I thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity to make some money, not so big, to support the work I am doing in the mountains.

As I have told a Flipino brother in San Francisco, it is our job to keep ourselves busy in our Father’s business, and become something that inspires those around us. We have good stories to tell and they need to hear those stories.

Just a few thoughts to make your day bright. Let’s change the topic. Have a nice day, fellow strugglers.

Ed

How To Establish Scriptural Authority (4): Application

Concerning the Collection for the Saints

A brother wrote asking what 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 teaches. “We are critical of the __(name of sect) who gives on Wednesday or Thursday. We say that 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 is just like God telling Noah to build an ark. Many would interpret it as: (1) Giving is on Sunday ONLY; (2) Giving must be in public worship on Sunday ONLY; (3) This is a CHARGE TO THE CORINTHIAN AND GALATIAN CHURCHES SO THAT WE MUST DO ALSO.”

The brother furnished me quotations from the different Bible translations and versions. “Tell me if the above conclusions can be taken from the verses.”

We will now examine the text, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, for what it teaches.

Now concerning the collection for the saints. “The collection,” “the contribution,” Greek tes logeias, is the word appearing in the papyri manuscripts, used in the sense of a religious contribution for the pagan temple and the pagan god (Rogers & Rogers, A Linguistic & Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, 389). It may refer to “taxes as well as voluntary contributions collected at worship for charity,” which in a way was “similar to the poll tax paid annually to the temple by the faithful Jews who lived inside as well as outside of Palestine” (Colin Brown, gen. ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3:854).

Here it is used by Paul in the sense of church contribution. Greek has no indefinite article, but it has a definite article which also corresponds to “the,” the definite article of English. What is the job of the definite article? It defines, limits or specifies the noun that comes next to it. The presence of definite article tes in this text signifies that this is a special collection, not just any other. It does not say, “Now concerning a collection for the saints.”

Should Christians tithe? The Old Testament taught tithing, and Judaism, which existed contemporaneously with Christianity, was supported by tithes, but “it is surprising to discover that never once is tithing mentioned in any of the instructions given to the church” (Colin Brown, 3:854).

For the saints. Greek tes eis tous hagious. This collection is for God’s people, the Christians in Jerusalem, who “evidently had grave difficulties in the society…(Acts 6:1)” (Rogers & Rogers, 389). tous hagious, “the saints,” is the fiscal term applied to the church, they who have been sanctified, “made saints,” “made holy,” by the blood of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 16 is one of those passages where Paul teaches that the Lord’s people should share their wealth to care for the needs of the poor (the others being 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; 9:6; Ephesians 4:28; Romans 15:26), “but never once does he demand, as a command from God, that any specific amount be given” (Brown, 3:854).

As I charged the churches of Galatia. Greek hoster dietaxa tais ekklesiais tes galatias. The verb dietaxa, is the aorist active indicative form of diatasso, meaning “to arrange, to order, to command, to give express commands” (Rogers & Rogers, 389). Vine is of the opinion that the verb diatasso is simply the strengthened form of tasso, because of the presence of dia, “through,” which intensifies it (Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, 1:68). dia with tasso thus takes the meaning of “to place in order,” “to arrange,” “to appoint” through. “Churches of Galatia” may refer to the Roman province by that name and the churches established there by Paul on his first missionary journey (Rogers & Rogers, 389). The directions to the churches of Galatia concerning the collection have not been preserved. That must be one of those letters that Paul had written which did not come down to us.

So also you do. Greek houtos kai poiesate. This was what Paul ordered, commanded, appointed for the Galatian churches to do, and now he was telling the Corinthian church to do the same. The verb poiesate is aorist active imperative. The aorist imperative, says Spiros Zodhiates, “means a command for doing something in the future which is a simple action” (Grammatical Notations, Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, 433).

Another grammarian, James Allen Hewett, says, “Greek has two tenses in the imperative, the present and the aorist… These refer not to time of action but to kind of action…The present expresses linear, on-going, or repeated type of activity. The aorist denotes the simple unitary act itself with nothing implied or asserted regarding the duration or the completion of the event. It does not refer to past time” (Hewett, New Testament Greek: A Beginning and Intermediate Grammar, 188; see also Machen, 420).

Rogers and Rogers say “the aorist imperative calls for a specific action” (Rogers & Rogers, 389), that of giving to the collection for the use of the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Upon the first of the week. Greek kata mian sabbatou, “upon the first day of every week” (Alfred Marshall, Interlinear Greek-English New Testament). The preposition kata with accusative signifies the distributive sense in which that preposition is to be understood (Rogers & Rogers, 389; see also Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, & Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 406), hence the translation “on the first day of every week.” Every week has a first day. mian sabbatou is “a Hebraic expression for… Sunday” (Rogers & Rogers, 389). This passage provides a “clear proof that the first day of the week was observed by the church at Corinth as holy time. If it was not, there can have been no propriety in selecting that day in preference to any other in which to make the collection. It was the day which was set apart to the duties of religion, and therefore an appropriate, day for the exercise of charity and the bestowment of alms. There can have been no reason why this day should have been designated except that it was a day set apart to religion, and therefore deemed a proper day for the exercise of benevolence towards others” (Barnes Notes on the New Testament).

Let everyone of you lay by him in store. Greek hekastos humon par’ heauto titheto thesauridzon, “each of you by himself let him put storing up.” titheto is present imperative active 3rd person singular of tithemi, meaning “to set aside, to lay,” and when paired with the prepositional phrase par heauto, it means “to set aside… in his own home” (Rogers & Rogers, 389). The present imperative sense of titheto calls for a repeated or habitual action. thesauridzon, “lay in store,” “to save up,” or “store up,” is present active participle. It is a participle of means or manner and explains how each of the Christians of Corinth is to lay up or lay aside (Rogers & Rogers, 389). The word is akin to thesaurus, “a treasury, a storehouse, a treasure” (Vine, 2:320). The injunction is for “everyone of you.” In the next phrase Paul enjoins each one to give as he has been blessed.

As God has prospered him. Greek ho ti ean euodotai, literally, “whatever he is prospered.” The infinitive eudoo means “to help on one’s way,” and is formed from the combination of two words eu, meaning “well,” and hodos, “way or journey” (Vine, 3:225). It is used in the passive signifying “to have a prosperous journey” (Romans 1:10); metaphorically, it means “to prosper,” “to be prospered,” [as] “he may prosper,” “as God hath prospered him,” or “in whatever he may be prospered” (1 Corinthians 16:2). The continuous tense suggests “the successive circumstances of varying prosperity as week follows week” (Vine, 3:225). Christians are to give as God has blessed or prospered them. One scholar suggests that this is an example of the divine passive, in which the subject is not mentioned but is understood to be God, hence the translation “As God has prospered him” (KJV).

That there be no gatherings when I come. Greek hina me hotan eltho tote logeiai ginontai, literally, “lest when I come then collections there are” (Alfred Marshall). hina me, “lest,” introduces the negative clause of purpose (Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners, 476). hotan is temporal particle of an action that is conditional, possible, and in many instances repeated; it is translated as “when,” “whenever” (BAGD, 587). eltho is aorist active subjunctive 1st person singular, of erchomai, “to come.” tote is a correlative adverb of time, translated “then” (BAGD, 823). logeiai, the word for collections, is here translated “gatherings.” ginontai is present middle subjunctive 3rd person plural deponent of ginomai, “to become,” here translated as “there are.”

The injunction then means that they are to set aside a portion of what God has prospered them and put that in the common treasury, and that they are to do that every Sunday, until everything is ready to be handed over to him, that there be no gatherings when he comes. Paul lays down a principle for giving which is systematic and orderly, benevolent in its purpose and divine in its authority.

And when I come. “When I arrive,” says Paul. The Greek paragenomai, “I arrive,” is aorist subjunctive middle. “In the subjunctive mood there is absolutely no distinction of time between the tenses; the aorist tense does not refer to past time and the present subjunctive does not necessarily refer to the present time. The distinction between the present and the aorist concerns merely the manner in which the action is regarded. The aorist subjunctive refers to the action without saying anything about its continuance or repetition” (Machen, 283).

Whosoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send. What is the proper construction of this verse? “Macknight supposes that the ‘letters’ here referred to were not letters either to or from the apostle, but letters signed and sent by the church at Corinth, designating their appointment and their authority” (Barnes’ Notes).

But there is a different interpretation that has been proposed. If we insert a comma after the word “approve,” the passage shall read differently: “Whom you approve, or designate, them I will send with letters to convey your charity to Jerusalem.” This is the reading followed by Griesbach, Locke, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, Beza, Eammond, Grotius, Whitby, etc. Barnes says “this accords better with the design of the passage” (Barnes’ Notes).

To bring your liberality to Jerusalem. Paul calls the Corinthians’donation “your liberality.” The Greek word charis usually “signifies grace, or favour,” but” here it means an act of grace or favour; kindness; a favour conferred; benefaction” (Barnes’ Notes). The object of this liberal giving is the saints in Jerusalem.

And if it be met that I go also, they shall go with me. If it be judged desirable and best. If my presence can further the object; or will satisfy you better; or will be deemed necessary to guide and aid those who may be sent, I will be willing to go also. For some appropriate and valuable remarks in regard to the apostle Paul’s management of pecuniary matters, so as not to excite suspicion, and to preserve a blameless reputation” (Barnes’ Notes). Now to the questions:

Is the collection for the saints only? The teaching that only the saints shall be the beneficiaries of church benevolence is based not on commands from the Scripture. The only commands we could find in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 are: (a) “Even so do ye” (the verb poiesate, aorist active indicative 2nd person plural); (b) “Lay by him in store” (the verb titheto, present active imperative 3rd person singular).

It is not even based on example, but on the wrong reading of 1 Corinthians 16:1, “Now concerning the collection for the saints.” The argument seems to be that the term “saints” means “saints only.” Where is the authority for saying that “saints” means “saints only”? There is none. I agree that the collection in 1 Corinthians 16 is for the saints; I disagree with the assumption that it is for the “saints only.” To the reasoning that this parallels Noah’s gopher wood, I would answer: Let Noah settle the gopher wood problem. Where does it say that “saints” means “saints only”? Jumping from one passage to another is their method of answering the question which in reality does not really answer the question!

If these people be consistent on their advocacy of benevolence to saints only based on their reading of 1 Corinthians 16, they must understand too what the passage does teach and does not teach: (a) It teaches that the collection be sent to the saints in Jerusalem (verse 3); (b) It does not teach the budget system, and many of those “benevolence-to-saints-only” churches use the budget system; (c) It does not teach that the local preacher or the missionaries can be supported through this treasury; and most if not all these “benevolence–to-saints-only” churches support their preachers and missionaries through the church treasury; (d) It does not teach that the money through this fund can be used to finance the building of church infrastructures and other projects; and yet many of them finance the building of infrastructures, support radio and TV programs, pay for health insurance of church workers, buy cars for their preachers, buy Bibles and print tracts, all through the church treasury; (e) The present banking system, with its mode of depositing, transferring and withdrawing, with ATM, passbooks, VISA cards, etc., is not within the purview of, is not even contemplated in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.

I know of another Pauline passage that speaks contrary to the “saints only” teaching. It is in Galatians 6:10, which says, “Then therefore as time we have, let us do the good to all men, and most of all to the members of the family of the faith” (Alfred Marshall). This injunction is given to the churches of Galatia (Galatia 1:2). The object of Christian charity is all men, but especially the poor and needy saints (2 Corinthians 8:1-5; 9:6; Ephesians 4:28; Romans 15:26), and this is to be done “as we have the opportunity.”

Is it commanded to give during public worship every Sunday? As we have said above, there are two commands found in the passage that should merit our attention: (a) “Even so do ye”; (b) “Lay by him in store.” Their giving was done on Sundays, for how long we have no idea. (Sure, I know they have stopped giving now, because the Corinthian and Galatian churches are no more!) Should that example be for us too? To insist on this, that we should give only on Sundays and not on other days, I think, is the height of legalism, for it would condemn the receiving of a check from abroad for the church treasury on any day except Sunday, it would condemn the transfer of private funds to the church treasury during banking days of Monday to Friday, except Sunday. It must be understood that in that 1 Corinthians 16 passage Paul was laying down a system for an orderly giving and gathering of church funds.

That the giving was done during public worship is assumed in the absence of an example. There is basically nothing wrong about it. But to insist that giving be done this way is the height of extremism.

Religious extremism is fraught with dangers. Extending the spirit of the command to the example is not the intent of our Creator. A command is different from the example; the example is the handmaid of the command, but never has the example become the command. Giving on a Sunday is authorized, and by the word “authorized” I mean “allowed,” “permitted,” by the Word, but the authority still remains in the commands.

Argument from Roy Cogdill. The assumptions of the “conservatives” and the “faithful brethren” seem to have developed from the concept of Roy Cogdill. He says: “When we can find the church practicing a particular thing or method in the New Testament record with evident apostolic approval, no one with any faith would question the correctness of the same practice today under the same or similar circumstances” (Roy Cogdill, Walking by Faith, 22).

We agree that any practice that is in conformity with apostolic precedents or precepts would be correct. But is it necessary? The church in Troas met in the third floor of a building with the evident approval of apostle Paul, and this example belongs to the same category as the “saints” of 1 Corinthians 16. Why impose the “saints only” doctrine but not the third-floor example? The third-floor worship hall is a matter of expediency to them, but no one I’ve heard would maintain that it is a binding example. Other examples, or actions, have been recorded in the New Testament as acceptable actions by Christians and by churches, yet no one could say that these were commanded by Jesus: (a) praying at the ninth hour (or 3 pm); (b) preaching in synagogues of the Jews; (c) assembling the church and worshipping daily; (d) burying of the dead by young men of the church; (e) sailing in a ship; (f) kneeling while praying; (g) singing while hands and feet are bound; (h) worshipping by the river or by the seashore; (i) praying in the house of a tanner; (j) preaching while on board a running vehicle.

Inherent authority of the examples? An example may be authorized; but it is not the same thing as saying that that example has authority. This is the basic fallacy of those who insist on the bindingness of examples. Can you determine by examining the examples themselves if the action was the action required? I would say no. But can you determine by examining the commands if these are the commands required? Based on the context where that command is found, I would say yes.

Examples exemplify how the early Christians did a thing; but it is the command that governed the early church that also binds the church of the 21st century.

Questions and comments from brother Paul Lachica:

“Dear Brother Ed, I had been reading so many times 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. I would like to ask you, is the charge of Paul done in public worship on Sunday?”

My opinion is that the church of Corinth was “charged” to do this “on the first day of every week” (1 Corinthians 16:2), and that each is to “lay by him in store.” There is no proof by way of example that it was done during worship, or after worship, or before worship. I choose to err on the side of faith by saying that they did what was commanded by the apostle Paul: they gave when they assembled on the first day of the week.

“In my view, there is only act done on Sunday alone, that is partaking of the Lord’s Supper or some say Communion.”

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper is an act of worship, for during the Supper we remember Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and coming again, and give honor to Him for such a great love that He has for us, dying for worthless sinners like us, a death that gave worth to our worthlessness. If you think the giving of our means is also a form of worship, then it is to be done during the public worship.

“Giving which started in Acts 2 is not done on Sunday only!”

I affirm that they gave of their means (Acts 2:45) but the Bible does not say what day. Therefore to impose the idea that Sunday is the only day of giving is to me the height of legalism.

“It [meaning “giving to the church collection”] is not even for everybody. Those in Jerusalem gave for the benefit of the visitors who had not gone home after the Pentecost. I am not ready to admit that aside from partaking of the Lord’s Supper, giving is another act to be done only on Sunday.”

Giving is not for everyone since everyone probably has not been prospered (1 Corinthians 16:2). Since only they who had means to give gave to support the needs of their poor brethren, then giving was not for everyone.

“I submit that I Corinthains 16:1-4 talks about Sunday Public Worship. There are other translations which says that “setting aside a portion of the income” is done at home so that christians are ready to give to Paul when he or his messenger decided to get the said “collection”. I want to be enlighten more!”

It may be true that the Corinthians set aside a portion of their income at home and brought it with them when they “came to church” (when they gathered). But I think our present method of giving, done during worship, is the most practical of all. Again, this is just an opinion.

If some brethren however do their giving by transferring money from their bank account to the church’s account during the week and not on Sunday, I won’t consider them sinning.

Some brethren may disagree with me on the manner of giving, and it would be wrong for me to insist on the correctness of my belief. What is most important to me is that the commands “even so do ye” (1 Corinthians 16:1) and “let everyone lay by him in store” (verse 2) have been fulfilled. Jesus says if we love Him we should keep His commandments (John 14:15). Thanks for the comments, Paul!

More to follow…

Disappointment, Discouragement, Depression – The 3Ds

Stop a minute and tell me if your Christian shield has been quite strong, and that you have not experienced, not even for a second, any disappointment at all.

I want to be honest with you. There were times I had. Disappointment with self. With family. With others.

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A Letter To One who Differs From Us

Editor’s note: For many months now I have been receiving email bulletins from a brother in Christ. His writeups first struck me as something out of the ordinary, witty sometimes, and to the point. Well, it has come to the point that like brother Mike Hildreth I have to decide correcting the man for his errors. So I wrote him a letter, a copy of which is posted below. I do this with the best of intentions. If he goes to hell, he has no one to blame but himself. If I go to hell because I corrected him, then I’d put myself under God’s mercy because I did what I think His word says.

This brother does not believe that baptism is for the remission of sins, and thinks the use of instruments of music in worship is a non-issue. Here goes the letter.

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How Many Birthday Candles?

Why are American voters preoccupied with presidential birthdays? Questions have been asked: “How old is John McCain?” “Hillary Clinton?” “Obama?”

If age means anything, McCain is 72, Hillary is 60, and Obama is by far the youngest of them all: 46. If Hillary is elected, she would be the first woman president of the US. If Obama, the first African-American to occupy the White House; but definitely not the youngest (both Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy became president at age 43).

Why are they so concerned about presidential age? Is it because of John McCain? If elected, McCain would be the oldest to occupy the Oval Office (Ronald Reagan became president at 69).

They never ask this question of Mitt Romney (if elected he could be the first Mormon president of America); or of John Edwards (religious affiliation unknown, son of mill-worker, first in family to attend college); of Giuliani (“the New York City mayor who became internationally famous for his proudly defiant reaction to attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001,” he could be the first American president with an Italian-sounding name); or of Mike Huckabee (he could be the fifth Baptist president of the US, after Warren G. Harding, Harry S. Truman, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton). These four are not strong contenders.

Vladimir Putin, president of Russian Federation, does not like McCain, not because he is also a Republican like Bush but because he could follow in the adventurous steps of Bush. (Click Answers.com for McCain’s military background). But to Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa, president of Mexico, such bloody fears of Vladimir are unfounded. The Mexican president cares for neither Obama nor Hillary nor McCain. So what?

Well, so what? They say that wisdom comes with having many birthday candles. King Rehoboam’s damnation was because he had listened to his youthful advisers, they add. So you want someone older? As one American columnist has pointed out, in the case of Miss Britney Spears this doesn’t seem to ring true. The wisdom of age eludes her. Her Baptist background was no help either.

Methuselah holds the record of the being the oldest man in the Bible (age: 969). Wonder what he was doing while his grandson Noah was constructing the ark. For the information of everyone, Methuselah had perished in the year of the Flood.

There is an exhortation for people to “remember your Creator in the days of your youth,” and I think there is wisdom in this, coming from the Father of all ages who also inspired the Book of all ages. This is to cushion them from the infidel challenges to their faith; but again this all depends. Pat Boone grew up in the church of Christ. I was then a Catholic who idolized him for his songs; but by the time I became a member of the church, Pat Boone was gone.

In July, I would be blowing 62 birthday candles, and if so Catholic candle sellers, come, you can make much money out of the likes of people like me. Just choose a man much older, like McCain.

The wife of my youth (she will be 60 in June) looks up to me as the pillar of her age. She hates it when I recite statistics, like there are more widows than widowers in the world, and that the oldest person to have ever lived was a woman (age: 122). We have weathered enough storms, and there are still more coming, and she wants to weather them with me. Such a nice thought. Age carries with it a depository of stock knowledge and wisdom, which, like the shield of an M10 Wolverine tank, could weather the onslaughts of the enemy.

God has not decreed for man to live as old as Methuselah (Genesis 6:3). Your birthday candles may be 62, 72, or 82, and for one who lives in sin, this is too long. For one serving the Lord, this amount of time may not be enough. But whether long or short, let us learn from the Book of the ages the long and short of it:

Firstly, Understand that the candles of your life are trouble-wrought. “Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1, 2). Think how frail life is. Take the matter to God in prayer, like the psalmist of old: “Lord, make me to know mine end and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am” (Psalms 39:4).

Second, Save what you can from your calendar days. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply ourselves to wisdom” (Psalms 90:12). My family’s benefactor, brother Charles, has been advising me to slow down, an advice I didn’t often heed, but I saw the wisdom of it when after having climbed Mt. Busay, my heart palpitated faster than I could say, “I am strong!” That race is only for the young, I told myself. Save your health but for a purpose. “The days of our years are threescore and ten, and if for reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). For whatever contributes to our longevity, we all must thank our Giver, and save that remaining strength for Him.

Third, “Redeem your time” is Paul’s advise in Ephesians 5:16. To redeem is to buy it back. Methuselah’s 969 years is too long and too big to buy back, but perhaps for 60, you can buy back another 10. If by reason of good food and exercise our threescore becomes fourscore, then the twenty years that we have redeemed should better be used for His service and glory. The sin of idleness has sired more sins, and the temptation to always call for a “non-working holiday” from God’s service is very strong. Paul has this warning: “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1Timothy 5:13). Jose Rizal, our national hero, had tried to defend the indolence of his countrymen, but I will not. Indolence is indolence, and it runs counter to the culture of the Bible which we have adopted when we became Christians.

Fourth, Tomorrow is the realm of the unknown. “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). Since God owns it, live in God’s today and let Him do what He wishes with His tomorrow. If He allows you to have a slice of it, well and good. But live as if today were your last. There is wisdom in this because this erases all your justification for procrastinating. A day not doing anything for God is a day unused. This too erases your justification for building physical futures.

So it matters not how many birthday candles you have, as long as those candles are lit for God.

Post Script: Thanks to brother Art Madlaing for the correction. The presidential candidate who could be next member of the church to occupy the Oval Office if he won is Fred Thompson, not John Edwards. Fred Thompson is a member of the church from Tennessee, says brother Art. Of John Edwards’ religious affiliation, nothing is known.

The Present Active Indicative Indicates What?

(This article is written per request of two Christian ladies, now based abroad, and of the five who like others have been reading this blog. Thanks for not being discouraged by the mind-boggling intricacies of the New Testament Greek).

The Greek verbs are somewhat like and somewhat unlike the English verbs—they have tense, voice, mood, person and number. Five very important traits a Greek verb cannot do without. English verbs have four: tense, voice, mood, and number.

Tense here does not mean the Greek verb is capable of having nervous tension (See the meaning at Answers.com). We are talking here about grammatical tense. It is the way language expresses time, and you will know by just looking at the verb if the action or event happened yesterday (as in English verb saw), is happening today (see, is seeing, are seeing), or will happen tomorrow (will see, shall see). This property of a verb, shown in the endings of a Greek verb, which may also be found in the endings of an English verb, shows information relating to time. See Wikipedia, in Answers.com.

In the present active indicative, the verb is in the present tense and speaks of the action happening today.

Tense is the quality of the verb which has to do with action. There are two outstanding things as to the matter of action, i.e., the time of action and the kind of action. As to time of action, there are three possibilities: past, present and future. As to kind of action, there are (for present consideration) two possibilities: linear or punctiliar. Linear action is an action regarded as a line ( ______ ). It is also called progressive or continuous action. Punctiliar action is action regarded as a point (.), i.e., action contemplated as a single perspective” (Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek, 11. Broadman Press, 1950). On the other hand, Hewett says, “The basic kinds of actions are linear, unitary, and completed with continuing resulting” (James Allen Hewett, New Testament Greek: A Beginning and Intermediate Grammar, 13. Hendrickson Publishers, 1992).

Voice. Every verb has a voice. It does not mean that verb can speak, or that it has a sound. The voice of the verb indicates how the subject performs, whether it is doing the action, or it is being acted upon. In the sentence, “The Lord heals Peter’s mother-in-law,” the Lord is doing the action of healing. The verb of this sentence is in the active voice. The subject of the sentence is “the Lord,” the verb is “heals” (present tense, singular), and the direct object is “Peter’s mother-in-law.”

The voice, in grammar, is “the form of a verb indicating the relation between the participants (subject, object) in a narrated event and the event itself. English grammar distinguishes between the active voice (“The hunter killed the bear”) and the passive voice (“The bear was killed by the hunter”). In the active voice, the emphasis is on the subject of the active verb (the agent performing the action named), whereas the passive voice indicates that the subject receives the action” (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, in Answers.com).

Want to hear more? Here’s one from Machen: “The active voice represents the subject as acting” or doing the action; in the passive voice, the subject is represented as being acted upon (Machen, 17).

And from Summers: “Voice is the quality of verbs, which indicates the relationship of the subject to the action. The active voice means the subject is acting… The passive voice means that the subject is being acted upon…” (Summers, 12). There is in the Greek also the middle voice, which speaks of the subject as acting in its own interest.

Mood. In grammar, this refers toa category that reflects the speaker’s view of an event’s reality, likelihood, or urgency. Often marked by special verb forms (inflections), moods include the indicative, for factual or neutral situations (e.g., “You did your work”); the imperative, to convey commands or requests (“Do your work”); and the subjunctive. The subjunctive’s functions vary widely. It may express doubt, possibility, necessity, desire, or future time. In English it often indicates a condition contrary to fact (e.g., “If he were to work here, he would have to learn to be punctual”) (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, in Answers.com).

Machen says, “the indicative mood makes an assertion, in distinction, for example, from a command or a wish” (Machen, 17). Summers, on the other hand, says, “Mood is the quality of the verb which indicates the relation of the action to reality” (Summers, 12). The indicative mood indicates that the action is really taking place: “He is loosing the dog” (Ibid.). The imperative mood (the mood of request or command) indicates potential action, such as in, “Loose the dog,” without telling us if the action has really taken place. Such is the use of moods in the Greek.

Person and Number. In Greek grammar this refers to the category of whether the action is done by the speaker or writer (by the first person, “I,” singular; “We,” plural), or by the second person (“you” plural, “you” singular), or by the third person (“They,” plural; “he,” “she, “it,” singular).

Machen shows how the verb luo, “I loose,” is conjugated: luo, lueis, luei; luomen, luete, luousi (Machen, 18).

First person singular, luo, “I loose,” “I am loosing.” Second person singular, lueis, “He looses,” “He is loosing.” Third person singular, luei, “He is loosing.” First person plural, luomen, “We loose,” “We are loosing.” Second person plural, luete, “You loose,” “You are loosing.” Third person plural, luousi, “They loose,” “They are loosing.” “He looses,”

In English, the distinction between the singular-plural first person (“I,” “we”), singular-plural second person (“you” singular; “you” plural), and the singular-plural third person (“he, she, it,” singular; “they,” plural) “are indicated for the most part by the subject-pronouns” (Machen, 19). In the Greek, they are indicated by the endings: luo, lueis, luei, which are singular; luomen, luete, luousi, which are plural. “The part of the verb that remains constant throughout the conjugation” is called the stem (Machen, 19). The endings added to the stem are: -o, -eis, ei; -omen, -ete, -ousi. The pronouns, and the number, whether plural or singular, are indicated by these endings. When translating into the English, these endings must be taken into consideration.

“I loose,” “I go,” “I run,” represent actions as taking place in the present time. “I am loosing,” “I am going,” “I am running,” refer to actions that are continuing at the time of speaking.

In the Greek, the verb luo, present tense, active voice, indicative mood, may be translated “I loose,” signifying an action taking place in the present. But it may also be translated “I am loosing,” signifying a continuing action (Machen, 21).

There you are. Hope this “loosens” whatever hang-ups you may have about Greek.

Why Study the Language of Homer?

Indeed, why? Homer was Greek, so Greek was his language. Why should I be interested in the language of this man? Homer spoke and wrote in classical Greek, and I heard that the New Testament Greek was koine, the dialect of the unrefined, the language of the common man. I even had a hard time with English. And Greek is a difficult language, in fact much more difficult than English. Why make things so hard on myself?

“Do I have to know Greek to go to heaven?” The answer is, No, you don’t have to.

“Do I have to know New Testament Greek to read my New Testament?” Again, the answer is, No, but someone, maybe not you, has to have a working knowledge of New Testament Greek.

If you trust your theologians, you don’t have to know Greek. But listen…

Renaissance dealt a great blow to the Middle Ages, when some scholars revived the art of learning ancient languages, one of them Greek. When the Greek New Testament was made available in costly copies, that also made available the knowledge that had been withheld from the world for centuries. These readers of the Greek New Testament began to distrust Catholic theologians. Luther, a Catholic theologian, even distrusted his fellow Catholic theologians.

If you have enough trust on your translations and your translators, you don’t have to know Greek. But…

Personally, I distrust some translators as well as theologians and debaters. What motivated me to study Greek was my debates with the “Iglesia ni Cristo-1914” and with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If I just swallowed their doctrines, like some did, I would have no problem with them, but I would have a problem facing God in eternity. Ignorance does not excuse anyone.

Someone has to study New Testament Greek because someone needs to keep these theologians, translators and debaters honest. These men’s minds have been configured by their own translation philosophies. Strict translation. Loose translation. Paraphrasing instead of translating. If no one among us knows Greek, then no one will know whether these theologians and translators and debaters and teachers have done a great job in giving us the true word of God. No one should just take anyone’s word for it. I think 1 John 4:1 does not just apply to false teachers, it applies too to translators, theologians and debaters, in fact to anyone including Pat Boone, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Billy Graham, etc.

By knowing what the Greek text says, many of our theological misunderstandings can be clarified. For example, studying the preposition eis you will know if you should be baptized to have your sins remitted, or because your sins have already been remitted.

New Testament Greek is a very picturesque language, and knowing it can be very rewarding. In it, thoughts and sentiments are clothed in figures, actions are viewed as finished and done or future, going on in the present or going on in the past, going on in the future or simply a point action that is not going on. You don’t find these distinctions and nuances of meanings in English!

Yeah, studying Greek may be difficult but with patience, skills and a lot of imagination, one will reach the mountain top and see the picture.

God made the best decision in making this common man’s tongue the carrier of His Word. The men inspired to write the New Testament did not have any doctorate degrees. But God desired a medium that the ordinary man at that time wouldn’t have any problem comprehending, so He used Koine Greek. God used an ordinary man’s dialect because salvation and going to heaven is just a matter of every man knowing the wishes and wills of God without having to go through university education.

Make every man comprehend the wills and wishes of the great God in heaven. That should be the purpose of preaching and teaching and knowing ancient languages as well. It should motivate us to go to the next level of understanding, where we may be able to comprehend what may be revealed about our God and do what pleases Him.

God came down to earth. He spoke our language, and using the figures we were familiar with, he raised our comprehension to what should constitute true living. He wanted us to be like Him, and to be with Him. You don’t have to study Greek, but someone has, that he could help you to desire to be like Jesus, and and grow in order to be with Jesus.

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