Editor's note: We are continually seeking the truth in God's word. All content has suggestive conclusions. We recommend that all readers of this website search the scriptures for themselves and pray for understanding to prove or disprove all content.

 

 

Romans

We find the entire flap about who wrote Paul's letters - by both scholars and critics alike - funny. Much has been made of the fact that the writing styles of Paul's letters vary so much that it is improbable that he wrote them all, and he obviously didn't, as the words of Romans 16:22 testify, ‘I, Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in [the] Lord.'


Paul, as several of his letters indicate, had very poor eyesight (see Galatians 4:13-15). Why? Was this caused by the brightness of his vision of Jesus, as some say? Well, it could have been, but we doubt it. Remember that there were no eyeglasses at the time when Paul wrote, he was likely over forty, and many of us who are beyond that age couldn't see to write letters today if it weren't for our eyeglasses. And there are several other natural causes for poor eyesight - other than miraculous visions.


A further indication of Paul's poor eyesight is found at Galatians 6:11, where he wrote, ‘Look at these large letters that I wrote with my own hand!' This can indicate that either Paul wrote the book of Galatians by himself, or that he had written just those few words of the letter. However, the mentioning of ‘large letters' shows that he could barely see his own handwriting. That he could have written this letter himself is seen by the relatively short and less ‘flowery' introductory words (Galatians 1:1-5).
Obviously, a man named Tertius wrote the letter to the Romans for Paul. Then, if you look at the headings or conclusions of other letters, you'll find references to those who likely did the writing. For example, First Corinthians starts with the words, ‘Paul ... and Sosthenes our brother.' Then Second Corinthians starts out the same way, ‘Paul ... and our brother Timothy.'


So, there are obviously different writing styles in Paul's letters, because (as the letters themselves indicate), different people did the writing. This may be quite a revelation to critics and college professors, but they obviously haven't actually read the letters.

 

Getting ‘Saved'
Although the term ‘getting saved' is used throughout the Bible, we gain a real sense of the meaning of this term from Acts 16:29, where we read of a jailer who was unfamiliar with Christianity and its terms, when he asked Paul and Silas, ‘Lords, what do I have to do to get saved?' That's when Paul and Silas told him, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.'


Was simple ‘belief in Jesus' all that was required for salvation? In this case, there was a lot more that he needed to understand, because, as a virtual pagan (Roman or Greek), there was a world of things for him to learn about monotheism, Christian conduct, the resurrection, and of God's Kingdom. So, much more than just belief in Jesus was required for salvation. This is why the account continues with the words, ‘Then they told him and all those in his house about the Word of God.'


Unfortunately, many people profess to believe in Jesus today, but they don't understand Christian living - Jesus' instructions on morality and love, for example. So, notice what Jesus himself said at Matthew 7:22, 23, ‘In that day, many will say to me, Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and perform many great works in your name? Then I'll admit to them: I never knew you! Get away from me you lawbreakers.'


So, more than simple belief is required. To keep from being a ‘lawbreaker' and in order to be ‘known' by Jesus, a person must believe in him and everything he taught, including his instructions on how to live a life as one of his followers.


And who will actually be saved? Jesus answered this question himself when he said what was recorded at Matthew 24:13, ‘But he who endures to the end will be saved.'


So, from the above, we must conclude that while belief in Jesus is required for salvation, knowledge of how to live a Christian life is also required. And to continue in this saved condition, one must maintain a clean relationship with God until ‘the end.' That is, until the end of their lives or until the coming of Jesus.


Removing the Wicked from the Congregation

In Matthew the Eighteenth Chapter, Jesus spoke of how Jews should deal with each other when one was guilty of harming another, and Jesus outlined three steps that they should take, ending with the words (verse 17), ‘If he refuses to listen even to the congregation, then let him become as a man of the nations, or as a tax collector to you.'


Now, although many have concluded that Jesus was discussing how to handle such matters within the Christian Congregation, we have to realize that the Christian Congregation hadn't been formed yet, and that Jesus wasn't giving these instructions just to Christians. Rather, he was speaking to Jews in general and referring to what the Bible calls ‘the congregation of Israel.' So, his instructions here were to be kind to each other and to try to work thing out among themselves rather than taking matters before their religious court (the Sanhedrin).


However, in First Corinthians, Paul laid out some procedural guidelines on how to deal with ‘those called brothers' in the Christian Congregation who are guilty of serious and un-repented sins. This matter was raised when a brother in Corinth was said to be guilty of ‘taking his father's wife' as his own. Such a thing, even if the wife was widowed, was considered a serious thing in God's eyes, for the Old Law shows that it is the same as uncovering the nakedness of one's father (see Leviticus 18:7, 8). And if he was having sex with the wife of his living father, that was even worse and creating a public scandal. So, Paul's instructions were for Christians to ‘judge such matters' and to ‘remove the wicked man from among yourselves.' What did this entail?


Thereafter, notice that Paul said should be done (at 1 Corinthians 5:11), ‘However, now I'm writing you to quit associating with anyone called a brother who is immoral, greedy, an idol worshiper, an insulter, a drunkard, or an extortionist. Don't even eat with a person like that.'


You'll see that he didn't say to stop talking to the person, just not to treat the person as a friend who you would ‘eat with.' Of course, in those early days of Christianity, most of their congregational meetings were held in private homes (not ‘synagogues' or public meeting places), so exclusion from the congregation likely meant that the offender was no longer welcome at their (private) meetings.


The total list of offenses that Paul implied qualified for such congregational removal, include:


· Sexually immorality
· Idol worshiping
· Adultery
· Homosexual behavior (gays and men who have sex with men)
· Thievery
· Greed
· Drunkenness
· Insulting
· Extortion.


Then John (the Apostle) gave similar instructions at 2 John 7, when he was talking about people in the Christian Congregation who ‘have strayed [back] into the world and won't admit that Jesus the Anointed One came in the flesh.' He referred to them as the ‘Antichrists.' He then instructed (at 2 John 10, 11), ‘If anyone comes to you and doesn't bring this teaching (of the Anointed One), don't welcome him into your homes or even greet him; because, whoever greets him shares in the wicked things he does.'


So, in the case of someone who denies that there was a Jesus (the Antichrists), such individuals shouldn't even be greeted on the street. However, these instructions don't seem to be added to what was said by Jesus and Paul, because the circumstances were different. Also, notice that these added directions from John were penned almost sixty years after what Jesus said on the matter, and about forty years after the writings of Paul. So, as you can see, there were no instructions that forbade talking to errant Christians during most of the First Century.


Would this same action (not to welcome him or even greet him) be taken against anyone who disagrees on doctrinal matters? No, because notice what Paul wrote about this at Romans 16:17, ‘Now, I beg you brothers; keep an eye on those who are creating divisions and setting traps by going against the teachings that you've learned. Avoid them.' So, Paul's instructions were to ‘keep and eye on' (gr. scopein) them and to ‘avoid' them (gr. ecclenete ap auton - incline away from them), not cut them off from the congregation.


Through the years, such expulsions of notorious members from the Christian congregation have taken many forms. Catholics, for example, call such removal excommunication. However, they limit these disciplines to just those that offend their Church. Yet, other groups may disfellowship or expel unrepentant sinners for reasons that are closer to those outlined by Paul, while many other religions just ignore Paul's instructions altogether and object to any such action against members who sin in vile and notorious ways.


In certain cases, religious groups have taken the extreme view that the sanctions recommended by Jesus, Paul, and John are cumulative and that they must take all the actions listed above against those who are guilty of any of the practices listed in those combined verses, including even those who may disagree over doctrinal points. These religions forbid associating with or even talking to persons who they judge to be violators in matters of business, morality, or doctrines. And even after such wrongdoers are returned to good standing, such religions may impose further disciplinary sanctions on them. Such views and actions, of course, can't be supported from Bible texts.
In addition, some religions have gone so far as to ban normal conversations with ones' own family members when they are guilty of any of the offenses listed above. Is this a correct understanding?


It would seem that whenever there are no clear written Biblical guidelines (as in the case of how to treat erring family members), Christians should turn to basic Scriptural law. And God's Law requires wives to respect their husbands, husbands to love their wives, children to obey their parents, for everyone to respect their mothers and fathers, and for each one to provide for those who are in their own households. Anything less than that would fit the description that Paul gave of how Godless people would act in ‘the last days' (at 2 Timothy 3:3), which says, ‘They won't love their families (gr. astorge) or be willing to agree on anything.'

 

Such sanctions obviously go beyond Paul's instructions at First Corinthians the Fifth Chapter, and they stray into conflict with Jesus' words to the Pharisees as found at Matthew 15:6-9, which say, ‘So, [you are really saying] that [you] shouldn't honor [your] parents at all. And when you do this, you are nullifying the Word of God with your traditions. You hypocrites! How well Isaiah prophesied about you when he said, These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. It's a waste for them to keep worshiping me, because they preach the teachings of men as commandments.'


Judging Your Brothers 

At Romans 2:1 Paul wrote ‘So you are defenseless, O man, if you're someone who judges others. Because, when you judge someone else you're condemning yourself, since you're doing the very things that you judge [to be wrong in others].'
Then he wrote at Romans 14:10-14, ‘So, why do you judge your brother or why do you look down on him? Why, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God, for it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bend before me and every tongue will confess before God.' So, each of us must answer for ourselves before God. Therefore, let's stop judging each other. Rather, let's make the decision not to set anything before a brother that will cause him to stumble or fall.'


Therefore, being too judgmental is a very serious flaw, which is common to those who think of themselves as being more righteous than others. It is reported that the Pharisees especially thought of themselves in this way, and it was their opinion that they would be the only ones to be found righteous by God. Notice what Jesus said would happen to those who are judgmental (Matthew 7:1), ‘Don't judge [others] so that you won't be judged. Because, the things you are judging others over will be the things you are judged by. And the standards you set for them are the standards that will be set for you.'
We find the same type of warning at James 2:13, which says, ‘Those who aren't merciful will be judged without mercy, since justice takes a lot of pride in mercy.'


However, the Bible also shows that it is necessary for Christians to judge their brothers when they are guilty of flagrant, open sins, as was the case of a brother in Corinth, Greece. At 1 Corinthians 5:1, Paul wrote, ‘I've actually heard that there is sexual immorality among you. And it's a type of immorality that isn't even [heard of] among the nations - that someone has taken the wife of his father.'


Now, we don't know exactly what this sin entailed (whether it was incest or a relationship with a woman who wasn't his natural mother), but we do know that it was something scandalous. Thus, Paul's conclusions were that the elders in the congregation should judge the man's actions. Notice his reasoning as found at 1 Corinthians 5:12, ‘Why should I judge those on the outside? Don't you judge those on the inside, while God judges those on the outside? Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.'
So, the conclusion we reach from the Scriptures is that judging the openly-wrong actions of others is the responsibility of Christians, to protect the good name of the Congregation. However, it is wrong to judge the motives of others, because we can't look into their hearts.


So, if we look down on our brothers and consider ourselves to be better Christians than they are, then the high standards that we set for them will be the minimum standards that will be set for our own judgment before God. And if we aren't merciful in our judgments of others, God won't be merciful in His judgment of us.


God's Chosen People 

The idea that the Jews are still God's chosen people and that they will eventually rule over the earth from the City of Jerusalem is becoming popular among many fundamentalist religions today. However, this concept appears to disregard the promises and teachings of the Bible.


For instance, notice Jesus' words to the people of that city as found at Matthew 23:37, 38, ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem: The killer of Prophets and the one who stoned those who were sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you didn't want it. Look: Your house has been taken from you.'


So, their ‘house' (the position of special favor with God) was removed from them due to their repeated rejection of God's ways and His Prophets, and for murdering His Son.


Notice how Jesus pictures this rejection of the Jews as God's chosen people in his parable of the king who hired laborers to work in his vineyard at Matthew 21:33-41. The story ends when the cultivators killed the king's son. And what was the result? Verse 41 says, ‘Then he will hire others to cultivate the vineyard who will give him the fruit when it's due.'


In Chapter 22 (verses 1-10) Jesus repeats this theme with the parable of the king who invited guests to a grand meal, but none of those who were invited (the Jews) showed up. In fact, they killed his messengers. The account says, ‘So, he sent his army to destroy the murderers and burned their city.' Then he sends his attendants out to invite ‘others' to this great feast.


Who are these ‘others?' Well, out of respect for His Sacred Agreement with Abraham, God continued to offer the opportunity to be ‘kings and Priests' in the Kingdom exclusively to the Jews (and the related Samaritans) for the next 3-1/2 years. Then the opportunity to become ‘Spiritual Jews' was offered to the first ‘Gentile' converts, Cornelius and his family. Thereafter, the Bible speaks of growing numbers of Gentile converts, as Paul was appointed the ‘Apostle to the Nations.'
Also, notice Jesus' words found at Matthew 8:12, where he foretold, ‘However, the Sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. There they will cry and grind their teeth.' Since the Jews were ‘the sons of the kingdom' or the sons of the Abrahamic promise, the indication here is that they as a nation were being rejected.


Then in the letters of Paul, we read scripture after scripture that shows these Gentiles were thereafter included in the promise to Abraham, and that they comprised a ‘New Jerusalem.' Notice what Paul wrote at Romans 2:28, ‘So, a Jew isn't what you are on the outside, nor is circumcision something that's outside on the flesh.'


In other words, the faithful Gentiles had become ‘spiritual Jews,' or the symbolic ‘twelve tribes of Israel.' So, it was to this ‘new nation' that all the promises and Sacred Agreements apply, not to the earthly city of Jerusalem, for the earthly city of Jerusalem had been rejected. Why? Well notice what the people in that city replied to Pilate's question when they were calling for the murder of God's Son (at Matthew 27: 25), ‘At that, all the people said, ‘May we and our children be responsible for his blood.' And (at John 19:15), ‘We have no king but Caesar.'


So, the Jews were not only rejected by God, they verbally rejected God and asked for the blood of Jesus to be on them and their children (all future generations). This is why the prophecies regarding Jerusalem appear to have nothing to do with a literal city in Palestine today.


But what of Paul's statement, found at Romans 11:25, 26, ‘Israel was allowed to become calloused until the full number of people from the nations came in. This is how all Israel is going to be saved.'


Doesn't this mean that the entire nation will eventually be saved? No, for notice what Paul said at Romans 9:6-8 ‘Now, the word of God didn't fail, because, not all who came from Israel are really Israel, nor are all of Abraham's seed his children. For [it's written], That which will be called your seed will come through Isaac. However, [Isaac's] fleshly children aren't the children of God. The children of the promise are that seed.'


Then he added at Romans 9:27, ‘Isaiah shouted this, about Israel, Although the sons of Israel may become as many as the sands of the sea, only a few will be saved.'


So, it appears as though Israel will be saved mostly through those ‘ethnics' who have become Israel by accepting Israel's God as their God.


And the fact is; Those who believe that all of Israel will be saved also believe that this hope applies just to the Jews. However, ‘all of Israel' covers all twelve of the tribes that are now scattered and intermarried throughout the nations of the world, whereas the Jews represent just two of the tribes (plus some of the Priestly tribe of Levi). So, for ‘all of Israel' to be saved, countless millions - or even billions - who have traces of bloodlines to the other ten tribes of Israel would have to be included in this number, for such pure bloodlines no longer exist - even among the Jews.


But, couldn't ‘all of Israel' just refer to the Jews and/or to those who still practice Judaism? Notice what Paul wrote at Romans 9:30-33, ‘So, what can we say? That people of the nations (although they weren't trying to become righteous) became righteous with the [type of] righteousness that comes from faith, while Israel (who was following a righteous Law) just didn't make it. And why was that so? Because [Israel] didn't look for it in faith, but in the things that they were doing. They tripped over the ‘stumbling stone. As it is written, {Look!} I'm putting a stumbling stone and a rock to trip over in Zion. But he who has faith in Him will never be ashamed.'


So, the Jews (those who practice Judaism) can never be considered righteous as long as they continue to trip over the ‘stumbling stone,' their promised Messiah, Jesus.


Messengers 

Most Bible translations render the Greek word aggelos (pronounced ahn-gel-ose - with a hard g) as angel wherever it is found. However, aggelos is just the Greek word for messenger. True, in most cases where the Bible speaks of angels, it is referring to spirit messengers from God. However, this may not be the meaning in every instance, and always translating it as angel may distort what was said in certain instances.


For example, consider the words at Acts 12:15, where Peter had just been released from prison and had appeared at the door of some faithful Christians. In Greek, the latter part of this verse reads, ‘oi de elegon Ho aggelos estin autou' and is often translated as, ‘They began to say, It is his angel.'


This rendering doesn't sound reasonable, for it would have been unusual for Christians to assume that an angel from God (who looked like Peter) was standing and knocking at their door. Rather, the rendering we have used herein makes more sense, ‘So they said, It's his messenger.'


Another good example of why aggelos shouldn't always be translated as angel can be found at Genesis 32:3, which reads in Greek, ‘Apasteile de Iakob aggelous emprosthen autou pros Hesau ton adelphon autou' or, ‘Sent of Jacob angels ahead of him toward Esau the brother of him.' Here Jacob was obviously sending human messengers to his brother, not heavenly ones.
And consider the words at Numbers 20:14, where we read that Moses sent messengers (gr. aggelous - messengers, plural) from Cades to the king of Edom.' Then in verse 16, it says that ‘Jehovah ... heard our voice and sent His messenger (gr. aggelon - messenger, singular) who brought us out of Egypt.'
Obviously, although the same word (with only conjugated variations) is used to speak of two different types of messengers here... those who are human and those who were sent from heaven by God. As the result, most Bibles translate the first instance as messengers, but the second as angel. We have not chosen to make this distinction, and we have rendered the word as messenger or messengers in each instance, because this proper translation of the word provides readers a better look at what position these heavenly sons of God held. For angel isn't a heavenly rank it's a duty.


Also, consider the words of Haggai 1:13, where we read: ‘Then the Messenger (or angel) of Jehovah, Haggai, one of the [many] messengers (or angels) of Jehovah, said to the people, Jehovah says I am with you!'


Yet, Haggai was just a man not a spirit.
Translating aggelos as messenger (when it truly means an ‘angel') helps to provide readers a better, deeper understanding of the actual role that such spiritual sons of God play in His dealings with mankind. And it helps us to understand why the Bible never speaks of female or baby angels.

 

The Hope of All Creation 

Romans 8:19-21 says, ‘For [all] creation has been eagerly expecting and waiting the revealing of the Sons of God. Why, the things that were created didn't choose not to have a reason [for living], and it was only because of Him that they had hope. For creation will be set free from slavery to decay through the glorious liberation of the children of God.'


What is Paul really saying here? One religious authority wrote, ‘Do beasts and plants hope to attain the glorious freedom of the children of God? No. All creation, then, can refer only to mankind.'

 

Are the above words correct? If so, then Paul just didn't use the right words. Why would he have said creation (gr. ktisis) when he really meant men (gr. anthropois)? Is it difficult to believe that Paul really knew what he was talking about?


Let's assume for a moment that Paul meant the words he wrote - that ‘all creation will be set free from being slaves to decay' - and see if this promise can come true for something other than just mankind.


First, what is the freedom of the sons of God? From numerous other scriptures, we conclude that this freedom will come as the result of the new heavens - the rulership of Jesus and the called and chosen sons of God. Will such a righteous rule be a blessing to more than mankind? We think so.


For example, will animals benefit from this Kingdom rule? At Genesis 1:28, God gave men the following commission, ‘And God blest them, saying, Reproduce, multiply, fill the earth and control it. Rule over the fish of the seas, the winged creatures of the skies, all the herding animals of the ground, all the slithering animals that crawl on the ground, and the whole earth.'
The implications of this scripture are staggering if you just think about it. However, it appears as though the first humans (Adam and Eve) relinquished this privilege of rulership over the earth and its animals when they sinned and submitted to the Slanderer, effectively handing their commission over to him. The net effect of this is that for the past six thousand years, men have lost their right to rule over the earth and its creatures in the way that God intended.


This is why Paul wrote (at Hebrews 2:8), ‘So, when [God] puts everything under [his feet], He doesn't leave anything that [men] aren't in charge of. However, we don't see everything obeying us yet.'


No, as Paul said, ‘We don't see everything obeying us yet.' Nor do we see this world in general, responding to Jesus' righteous rule. In fact, conditions in the world are deteriorating as they reflect the power of the Slanderer and his messengers in the last throws of evil acts before their destruction. However, that will all change under the rulership of the sons of God.


Thereafter, we can scarcely imagine what powers will be returned to man, when the commission that God gave us over this earth and its creatures is fully restored. With no opposition, and each man endowed with a full measure of the power of God's Breath, the blessings to this earth, its creatures, and ALL CREATION are virtually limitless

 

 

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