The Kings of Isaiah

Isaiah 1:1 places Isaiah within history: “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”  Uzziah reigned from 792-740 BC; Jotham reigned from 750-735 BC; Ahaz reigned from 735-715; Hezekiah reigned from 715-686.

King Uzziah

King Uzziah is also known as Azariah.  He reigned 52 Years, a very long time.  Isaiah 6:1 indicates that Isiah began his ministry in the year Uzziah died.  2 Kings 15:1-7 and 2 Chronicles 26 give an account of Uzziah’s reign.  Uzziah fortified Jerusalem (2 Chron. 26:9-10, 15) and he reorganized Judah’s army with 2,600 mighty men of valor who oversaw an army of 307,500 men (2 Chron. 26:12).  Uzziah experienced great prosperity during his long reign and was able to extend Judah, taking back land from the Philistines, while also extended Judah into the lands of the Arabians and the Meunites (2 Chron. 26:6-7).  He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 15:3 and 2 Chron. 26:4), but the high places remained and sacrifices were still offered at these locations dedicated to false gods.

Despite doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord, Uzziah’s success led to pride that brought him great punishment from the Lord.  2 Chronicles 26:16-23 recounts that Uzziah took the place of the priests, burning incense in the House of the Lord.  And as a result, “The Lord touched the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death, and he lived in a separate house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the household, governing the people of the land” (2 Kings 15:5).

King Jotham

King Jotham reigned for 16 years.  2 Chronicles 27:2 summarizes his reign as follows: “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord according to all that his father Uzziah had done, except he did not enter the temple of the Lord. But the people still followed corrupt practices.”  Two of his major accomplishments as king were fortifying the hillsides of Judah and beating the Ammonites, receiving a huge tribute from them.  (2 Chronicles 27:3-5) During his reign, northern Israel was taken by the Assyrians.

King Ahaz

2 Chronicles 28:1-2 tells us that King Ahaz “did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done, but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel.” During his reign Aram led by King Rezin and Israel led by King Pekah partnered against Judah. (Isaiah 7:1-16) Isaiah told Ahaz to not be afraid of them.  Isaiah prophesied that their invasion would fail, that their lands would be taken down by the Assyrians. (Isaiah 7:3-9) Despite this prophesy of safety from his adversaries, Ahaz sought to partner with King Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria for protection.  (2 Kings 16:7-9, Isaiah 7:13, 20) In an attempt to show his submission to Tiglath-Pileser, Ahaz instructed Uriah the priest set up an altar like the one he saw in Damascus.  He had the altar to the Lord brought out to sit alongside this altar pagan altar.  (2 Kings 16:10-18) During Ahaz’s reign, Assyria defeated Israel in 722 BC.

King Hezekiah

King Hezekiah was the last king of Isaiah’s time of prophetic ministry.  Hezekiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done” (2 Kings 18:3).  During Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria threatened Jerusalem.  (Isaiah 36:1-22) Against this threat, Isiah Prophesies that Judah will be delivered.  (Isaiah 37:6-7) Even though this prophesy is given with the assurance of protection for Jerusalem, Hezekiah still prays in response for deliverance.  (Isaiah 37:14-20) The angel of the Lord fulfills Isaiah’s prophesy and answers Hezekiah’s prayers by utterly wrecking the Assyrians, striking dead 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians while the slept.  (Isiah 37:6) Sennacherib was later cut down by the sword by his sons while he was worshipping his god, Nisroch.  (Isiah 37:7-8)

As noted in the opening of this paper, many have noted that the first 39 chapters of Isaiah are predominantly law based, focusing on the wrath of God against a rebellious people, and that is the message of chapter 39.  Isaiah prophesies to Hezekiah that Judah will be taken by the Babylonians:

“Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” (Isaiah 39:5-7)

Sticking to the concept that the last 27 chapters of Isaiah focus on God’s redemption of his rebellious people, chapter 40 opens up with the good news that God will restore Judah:

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.  A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.  And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isiah 40:1-5)

The Central Message of Isaiah

Isaiah’s Central Message and Historical Setting

There are 66 books in the Bible.  The first 39 books are in the Old Testament and the last 27 books are in the New Testament.  Isaiah has been called a mini-Bible, because it has been divided into 66 chapters with a common division in theme between the first 39 chapters and the last 27 chapters.  The first 39 chapters of Isaiah contain judgment and condemnation of an immoral and idolatress people.  The last 27 chapters of Isaiah are a message of hope that point to the comfort all people can take in the coming Messiah who is a savior and king.  The concept then in calling Isaiah a mini-Bible is that for 39 books, the message is all law and condemnation against sinful people, before God gives us forgiveness in Jesus for the last 27 books.  The message being conveyed then is that Isaiah gives us the complete package in one book – gives us both Law and Gospel.

This scheme is forced on numerous levels.  First, this scheme doesn’t recognize that the Old Testament was originally compiled as 22 books according to Josephus, with the modern day compilation being 24 books – not a 39 book arrangement as we have in the Christian ordering of the same text in the Old Testament.  Second, this scheme doesn’t recognize that chapter and verse divisions were added to the text late in history.  Finally, and most important of all is that this scheme doesn’t recognize that there is Gospel proclamations of Christ’s saving work throughout the Old Testament, and even in the first 39 chapters of Isaiah.  Also, it fails to recognize that there is quite a bit of Law in the New Testament text, and in fact it is in the New Testament through the words of Christ that we get vivid imagery of warning of the eternal condemnation that awaits unrepentant sinners – such images reveal the eternal wrath of God in explicit ways that are never even remotely reached in the sparse mention of eternal commendation in the Old Testament.

A much better move to express the overall message of Isiah is to point to the meaning of Isiah’s name, “The Lord saves.”  That is the overall message of Isiah, “The Lord saves.”  This message comes through three main teachings: God is the Holy One of Israel, God punishes his rebellious people, and God later redeems them.

God is the Holy One of Israel

Isaiah 1:4 – “Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption!  They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.”  (emphasis added)

God Punishes His Rebellious People

Isaiah 1:2 – “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.

God Later Redeems Them

Isaiah 41:14 – “Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel!  I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”

The definitive passage in Isaiah that demonstrates the message that “the Lord saves” is Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This passage is commonly labeled after its key figure, who is named the Lord’s Suffering Servant.  I once heard that if you took this passage and removed its title and all of the chapter and verse numberings and gave it to just about anyone in America and asked whoever read it, “Who is this passage describing,” they’d almost all come back and say it’s about Jesus Christ.  The kicker to drop at that point is that this text was written about 700 years before Jesus of Nazareth!  I ran this test once by offering high school students extra credit to hand this passage to five random people and report back who they said the passage was about, and the few students who took me up on the extra credit only found people who said the passage was about Jesus.  Living in the New Testament era of God’s people, we know very well that Jesus is Lord and that Jesus does save men from sin, death, and the devil.

Jesus saves us very much in the same way that Isaiah describes the person and work of the Suffering Servant.  In a cursory reading of Isaiah 52:13-53:12, the following descriptions serve as clear prophesy fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth:

52:13 – “Lifted up and highly exalted,”
52:14 – “marred beyond human likeness,”
52:15 – “he will sprinkle many nations,”
53:2 – “like a tender shoot, like a tender root,”
53:3 – “rejected by men,”
53:4 – “took our infirmities and carried our sorrows,”
53:5 – “pierced for our transgressions,” “crushed for our iniquities,” “punishment that brought us peace was upon him,” “by his wounds we are healed,”
53:6 – “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all,”
52:7 – “led like a lamb to the slaughter,” “he did not open his mouth,”
53:8  – “cut off from the land of the living,” “for the transgression of my people he was stricken,”
53:9  – “assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death,”
53:10 – “the Lord makes His life a guilt offering,”
53:11 – “after the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life,”
53:12 – “He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Isaiah 65:17-66:24 closes with vivid imagery of what the complete and final salvation will look like in the “new heavens and the new earth” (for God’s people) and what the hand of doom will wrought (for the rebellious enemies of God).

10 Key Characteristics of God’s Kingship from the Psalms

Psalms 29, 47, 93, 95, 96, 97, 98, and 99 are Royal Psalms that speak to the kingship of God.   These eight psalms reveal and emphasize ten key characteristics of God’s kingship: 1.) God is Lord over all the waters; 2.) God is Lord over all the earth; 3.) God is Lord over all the nations; 4.) God is Lord over all gods; 5.) God has a coming judgement over all; 6.) God is just and righteous in his coming judgement; 7.) God’s enemies will face God’s wrath at his coming judgement; 8.) God’s people will receive his peace, strength, blessing, and protection; 9.) God has worked the salvation of his people; and 10.) The proper response to the royal reign of God is for all to praise him.

Over the waters

First, we see that God is Lord over all.  This is seen in Psalm 29:3: “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.” He is over the waters, because he made them.  As their creator, he owns them.  (Psalm 95:5) Psalm 93:3 depicts flooding waters in anthropomorphic terms, referring to the raging floods and lifting up their voices, their roaring voices. Psalm 93:4 however proclaims that the Lord is higher in might than the raging flood waters, exclaiming that God is “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea.”  Going back to Psalm 29, verse 10 states, “The Lord is enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.”  The flood is the Flood of Genesis 6-9. This shows that God is sovereign in judgement against evil.  Despite the destruction that comes from the raging waters – the Lord sits enthroned over the flood.

Over all the earth

Second, God is Lord over all the earth.  Psalm 47:2 calls God “a great king over all the earth.” Later in the psalm, in verse 7, this kingship is repeated with the words, “God is the King of all the earth.”  The most intimidating land feature due to its sheer height and difficulty to cross is likely the mountains of the earth, yet before the Lord, Psalm 97:5 says, “The mountains melt like wax before the Lord.”  In the same way that God is Lord over the waters due to his status as their creator, so too the Lord is over the earth because “his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 95:5).

Over the nations 

Third, God is Lord over all the nations.  Psalm 47:8-9 says, “God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.  The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted.”  Just as the waters and the lands belong to God, Palm 47:10 reveals that “the kings of the earth belong to God” too.  Though these psalms do not state it, it’s clear from the rest of Scripture that the kings and the nobles of the nations belong to God – in fact all people belong to God – because God is the creator of us all; we are all his creatures.  Though in many times and in many places the rulers of this world wield much power and authority over the lives of their subjects, Psalm 99:2 makes it clear that the Lord “is exalted over all the nations.

Over the gods

                Fourth, God is Lord over all gods.  In this world, there are many gods that even kings will bow down to and submit their authority.  Above the waters, above the mountains, there are the heavens, where in various ways the gods of men have been envisioned to dwell – sometimes more often perceived to be present in a spiritual realm animating our physical realm or dwelling in another dimension outside our senses, yet able to impact our plain of existence.  These gods however are “worthless idols” according to Psalm 96:5, because “the Lord made the heavens.”  He is above all that we can conceive and above all the idols that men fear, love, and trust above God: careers, love, money, family, comfort, pleasures, entertainment, food, success, power, sex, and fame, and the list could go on and on.  God is Lord over all these so-called gods, because as Psalm 95:3 proclaims, “The Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods.

Coming to Judge

Fifth, God has a coming judgment over all.  Both Psalm 96:13 and Psalm 98:9 reveal that “he comes to judge the earth.”  As before his judgment upon all the earth and flesh came through the Flood, this coming judgment will descend through fire.  Psalm 97:3-5 depicts this judgment and its totality as follows: “Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.  His lightenings light up the world; the earth sees and tremblesThe mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.”

righteous judgement

Sixth, God is righteous and just in his coming judgment.  Though to us it might seem as unjust for God to allow evil to persist in our day and age, and we likely even think that his coming judgment is too harsh when it does come – for God to scorch all his enemies and to cause even the mountains to melt seems a bit extreme – we should be reminded of the words of the prophet Isaiah that parallel the language of these Royal Psalms of God’s kingship: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Above all is the Lord and his coming judgment will come “with equity,” “in righteousness,” and “in faithfulness” (Psalm 96:10,13).  This is the type of judgment we should expect from God, when we grasp the reality of Psalm 97:2 that “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.”  Psalm 99:4 tells us this nature of his coming judgment, as well, “The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.”

God's Enemies Get Smacked

Seventh, God’s enemies will face God’s wrath at his coming judgement.  In support of this description of what to expect from God’s kingship, I’ve already quoted Psalm 97:3 that declares, “Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.”  This psalm gives insight into who these adversaries are; they are all of those who do not worship him as Lord of all.  Psalm 97:7 warns, “All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!”

Peace

Eighth, God’s people will receive his peace, strength, blessing, and protection. Psalm 29:11 says, “May the Lord give strength to his people!  May the Lord bless his people with peace!”  Psalm 95:6-7 remind us of previous points of God’s kingship, that he is our maker and God, and as such, we are given the comforting image that “his people we are occupants of his pasture.”  Being the people of his pasture, we have the Lord’s blessing and protection, and in response Psalm 99:3 tells us the response of his people: “Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O Lord.”

Cross_Chasm_300
“Chasm” by Danny Martinez – This image appears in my book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True.

Ninth, God has worked the salvation of his people.  Psalm 98:1-3 give the good news that the salvation of God’s people is not contingent upon themselves, their own personally earned merits of righteousness before the righteous king who is enthroned above all, but God himself has worked their salvation:

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.  The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.  He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

As God’s people sitting on the right-side of the timeline of Jesus of Nazareth’s death and resurrection, we understand that Jesus is the right hand of the Lord who has worked this salvation:

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

Praise

Tenth, the proper response to the royal reign of God is for all to praise him.  Psalm 47:1 gives the following exhortation: “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!”  The Psalm also exhorts, “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! (verses 6 and 7).  Psalm 95:7 gives the following invitation: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” Finally, Psalm 98:4 exclaims, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 

These Royal Psalms of God’s kingship make it abundantly clear that the Lord is over all things – all other gods are worthless!  God alone made everything that exists.  His creation is not able to be moved.  The proper response of creation is to worship the Creator.  Those who don’t will be judged – they will be moved (removed) by their Creator.

All glory and laud be to the Lord, our King, forever, and ever.  Amen.

Please visit my website, Contradict Movement, for more resources and products that can be used as evangelistic conversation starters. 

The Increase of Mothers in the Workforce is Tied to a Misunderstanding of the Equality of the Sexes

In the book, Resident Aliens, by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Williamon, there is an account of a church that sought to serve its community through the creation of a preschool that would ultimately function as a daycare for families with both parents working full-time.  The book presented a woman who asked hard questions about how our cultural norms in American society can seep into our church community’s services.  Her thought was that parents should be raising their kids and not childcare facilitators/teachers who are overseeing all the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of multiple kids, often times starting as young as six weeks old, for 8 to 12-hour time periods.  if people are doing this anyways, it seems reasonable that the Church can provide the childcare and thus ensure a Christian environment, but the lady in Resident Aliens challenged her church to say to hell with reason – don’t encourage parents to pawn their kids off so they can have more material goods!

Women and Men Roles

In 1948, only 17% of all married mothers were in the workforce.[1]  By 1985, this percentage rose to 61% and by 1995, it was at 70%.  In 2011, 68% of all women with children under 6 in America were working or looking for work.[2]  Another way of viewing this rising trend in working mothers who is to look at the changes that have occurred in childcare practices.  Today less than one-third of all children have a full-time stay at home parent, but in 1975 over half of all children had a stay at home parent, who was usually the mother.[3]  Almost a quarter of all children under 5 in America are in some form of organized child-care system.[4]  The point in giving these statistics is demonstrate that in American history it is a relatively new societal norm to have both parents working with their children being raised and cared for outside of the home by people who are not relatives, and from experience I know that this is a very common work and childcare dynamic found among Christians.  In response to this working trend, many churches do have all-day preschools/daycares – and so the hard question raised in Resident Aliens deserves attention – are these churches encouraging and propagating an American societal norm that is against God’s design for families (families in any society that is)?

Acknowledging that there are many diverse reasons as to why many families have shifted away from a single-income for their family to have both the father and the mother working full-time, in this paper I seek to pinpoint one error that I am convinced is the underlying core reason for the trend of mothers with young children to enter the workforce along with their husband, and that error is a misunderstanding of what it means for men and women to be equal.  In their article, “The History of Womanhood That Feminists Don’t Want You to Know,” the Botkin Sisters debunk four common myths about the goodness of feminism for women, and the first myth is the notion, “Before feminism, women were not as valued and did not have as many rights.”  Their answer is rarely spoken, even among Christians, so it might seem startlingly to read:

Before feminism, the Bible declared men’s and women’s equal standing and value before God – and in fact teaches this more consistently than any other religious or secular doctrine. In Scripture, man’s work and woman’s work are equally valid – wifehood, motherhood, homemaking, and femininity are not belittled, and women are not guilt-manipulated into living and acting like men. On the contrary; woman’s distinctiveness from man is praised and honored, and her unique role is held vital. Women were to be protected and cherished, to “attain honor” (Prov. 11:16) and be “praised in the gates” (Prov. 31:31). It wasn’t until the advent of women’s “liberation” that women were told, “Your value as a woman is determined by how well you can perform as a man. Being a woman is no longer enough.[5]

They further counter this myth by pointing out that long before feminism, “the Bible also gave the world strict laws to protect women from abuse, rape, incest, abandonment, injustice, and more. Moreover, it gave women something our legal system doesn’t: a whole system of provisions for women who end up in hard circumstances.”[6]  And finally, they put a nail in the coffin of the myth that men and women are equal in value because of feminism by pointing out the reality that:

Speaking historically as well as theologically, Christianity is the only social, spiritual, and political force that gives women true value and rights. It is the anti-Christian religions (including Marxism, Islam, and feminism) that demean, undervalue, and exploit women; throughout history, it was the Christian societies that truly valued women, protected women, and honored women (insofar as those societies were faithful to the Bible’s actual teachings).[7]

Their list of anti-Christian religions was far from exhaustive, but I would like to add another anti-Christian religion to their list, Hinduism.  When someone from the West who is largely operating from a Judeo-Christian influenced morality, even if she is not Jewish or Christian, looks at the value and rights of women in Indian society influenced by Hinduism throughout history all the way to present day and sees the complete devaluing of women, and after doing that takes a good hard look at Islamic countries and the value of women – it should become pretty obvious that women around the whole world are indebted to the value and rights of women taught in the Bible.  Just as scientists practicing the scientific method must steal from the Christian worldview to justify the validity of their repeated experiments, feminists must steal from the Christian worldview to justify their claim that men and women are equal and that women have the same rights as men.  Rights, after all, if they are to be inherent in all humans in all places and in all times, must come from a higher source than humanity; they must come from God.  And it is in Christianity that we are clearly told that the first man and the first woman were both created in the image of God, both created in his likeness. (Genesis 1:27) It is from this creation narrative that we understand that men and women have equal value – both being created in the image of God.

The error in understanding this equality is that equality has come to be understood as equal performance, or equal outcome, or the potential for equal performance and equal outcome in all facets of life.   Men and women are thought to be equal in every way.  This misunderstanding of equality is what has given rise to more and more women with young children in the workforce leaving their six week old infants into the hands of another woman[8] for the majority of their waking day. Equality has come to be understood as equal performance, or equal outcome.  This is why we hear the common mantras, “A woman can do anything a man can do” and “Whatever a man can do, a woman can also do.”  Then there is the truly woke mantra: “Whatever a man can do, a woman can do better.”

The 30-second sound bite to refuting this misunderstanding of equality as sameness is to point out that by God’s design a woman cannot impregnate herself or another woman, and that I as a man am horrible at giving birth and breastfeeding, as are all men.[9]

For a longer answer, I want to first offer a math equation as an explanation of how two things can be both equal and not the same at the same time, before giving a Biblical foundation for the uniquely God-given roles of men and women in society and within the family.

2 + 2 = 4.  This is an extremely simple equation.  Both sides have the same value, 4.  In value, they are equal.  However, if I added categorical values to each number, such as, 2 men + 2 women = 4 men, I have maintained an equal number of humans, but on each side there are now differences that make each side unequal in potential outcome and abilities.  If the goal was to win a 4 x 100m race, the side with 4 men has the vastly distinct advantage.  If the goal was to colonize a new planet, taking 2 married couples[10] would be of much greater value to the objective of procreation and building a society on a different planet than taking 4 men – due to obvious reasons of biological differences.  Both sides still have four humans created in the image of God and are equal in value in that sense, but due to the created differences between the sexes they are different in operational value depending on the role and expectations placed upon the two sides.

The appeal I’m making to different God-given roles for each of the sexes can be found in the curses God gave to the man and to the woman after the Fall into sin in Genesis 3.  The woman was cursed to have pain in childbearing – a role that was uniquely given to her and not to man.  The distinguishing glory of womanhood is now cursed.  She also was cursed to desire her husband’s headship over her.  By being created first, man was given the place of headship over the woman.  In addition to being created second in time, woman was created from man.  What was built and designed by God within his order of creation is now cursed… woman will now desire the place of headship (leadership, provision, protection, and the ultimate accountability and responsibility before God for the safety and well-being of families and societies).  The role built into creation for man is now also cursed… his work (care and stewardship over creation and within his family) shall be painful.

Paul is very clear about this created order in 1 Timothy 2:12-15.  The created order is why he does not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man within the church – even if she is capable of teaching better than all the men in the congregation.  By Adam being created first, he was by his created order put into the position of teacher.  He named the animals before Eve was created, and within the creation narrative of Genesis 2, God gives him the commands not to eat of the forbidden fruit, as well as the command to procreate, but God does not give these commands to Eve.  Adam was thus thrust into the position of teacher by God.  By the nature of his created order, Adam taught Eve the names of the animals and taught her God’s commands.[11]

What is quite ironic then is that now that women have ascended to manhood, by “holding any position a man can hold in society,” women are now doubly cursed.  They have taken man’s curse of labor in provision for the family upon themselves, while still holding to their curse of bearing children in painful births.  As women struggle in pain for the headship of man within their marriages and families, more and more pain comes upon both the man and woman as the headship of the man is constantly challenged by the wife who is intentionally and constantly going outside of her God-given and designed role within the family and society, often times under the blessing and encouragement of her husband.

As I stated at the outset, I understand that there is a plethora of reasons why many families have both parents working full-time with their young children being handed off into the entrusted care of someone else, but the desire for women to be like men and to get their worth through such endeavors of work is seriously hurting women, men, and their children.  Both men and women are immensely valuable in the eyes of God – both were created in his image.  In Christ there is no distinction made between male nor female in the economy of salvation – all are saved by grace through faith in Christ.  Our work does not merit us any extra value before God… whether it is done in the home with children or in the fields of labor.   However, following God’s design and intended will for his creation is a sign of bearing fruit in keeping with repentance, and in our day and age to do such within the family is truly a sign of faith and love and holiness – and this true faith is attacked relentlessly by our own sinful desires, the world, and the devil.

I want to close with an example of the obvious pain and frustration that arises from going against God’s created design through the distortion of the God-given roles of men and women within the family order.   The following is a post that a Christian lady made when she first went back to working full-time after having her first child:

A couple of weeks ago, a well-meaning friend at church asked, “Do you have to go back to work, or are you able to stay home?” And in that moment, my immediate response was the truth, “I GET to go back to work.” I don’t take that for granted. I’m grateful that I have a husband who supports my drive and passion to work outside of the home. I’m grateful that we believe we have found the best solution for childcare for our family. It’s not that I HAVE to go back to work, but that I GET to go back to work. To do something that I care about. Something that I believe will make me a better mother.

Of course it’s bittersweet. I’ve spent the past 11 weeks caring for my son day in and day out. And I believe that no one will be able to do that like I do. But here’s the thing: Matt and I are still raising our son. It doesn’t matter who takes care of him during the day – WE are his parents. And I have to trust that he will always know his mother’s love and I trust that God has a plan.

I also believe that my son will see me doing this, and will know: that women can do this – women are intelligent and are leaders in the workforce. Maybe someday, he’ll be an even better colleague and employee himself because he saw my example and what I am capable of. That’s my hope.

In the meantime, can I have it all? Can I be a Godly woman, a wife, a mother, and a boss? Time will tell. Look at Ps. 37:4. It does NOT mean that God gives me everything I want. I’m praying that I earnestly seek His will in this – and that if I truly am, He will make sure that everything else falls into place.

There are many points of concern in her post.  First, she says it doesn’t matter who is raising her son.  I’m sure that’s not how the nanny feels about her position and value – just anyone can do my job?  For real?  Second, she is leaving her 11-week old son in the hands of another woman, to not see her child for long periods of the day.  This cannot be good for her son in his most formative years.  Third, he does not see all that his mom is doing for him.  He just knows that she drops him off and picks him up, when he should be with her.  He does not know what she is capable of, but he does know what she is not capable of, and that is taking care of him during the day when he still has no words to speak, when he still is completely defenseless.  Finally, she acknowledges that she isn’t sure that she can have it all?  She isn’t sure that she can fulfill all the roles she has taken upon herself, and in her case this is purely by her choice; it’s what she wants and it is what she GETS to do.  If she can’t have it all, which of these roles will she drop?  If she doesn’t drop one of them, which of the roles will suffer?  Which of the roles are already suffering?  All of them?

The following is her most recent post, less than nine months from the one I just shared, accompanying a picture of her holding her infant son tight against her chest while he is sleeping:

I wish it was this way all the time.  Working motherhood is getting the best of me. “He likes the nanny more.” “I only get 3 waking hours a day with him.” …and on…and on. He’s a daddy’s boy right now, and my heart aches. I want to work. I love working. I also love my sweet baby boy and miss him constantly.

[1] “Trends in Labor Force of married mothers of infants” https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2007/02/art2full.pdf

[2] “More Mothers of Young Children in U.S. Workforce” https://www.prb.org/us-working-mothers-with-children/

[3] “Fact Sheet: Child Care” https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/08/16/11978/fact-sheet-child-care/

[4] Ibd.

[5] “The History of Womanhood that Feminists Do Not Want You to Know” by the Botkin Sisters https://botkinsisters.com/article/the-truth-about-women-that-feminists-dont-want-you-to-know?fbclid=IwAR3dsoO3-swCB0vt5n7UmFtLL_kgHUJtY3guB5_BHFOZGZS9UnK_EH88atw

[6] The system of provision that they list from Scripture includes: “the gleaning system, the kinsman redeemer system, the family provision system, the poor-tithe system, the handmaid system, and more. Biblical Law presupposed that there will be sin and irresponsibility in every society, and that the true victims must be protected.”

[7] “The History of Womanhood that Feminists Do Not Want You to Know” by the Botkin Sisters

[8] I know I just assumed the gender of a daycare worker, and I’ll also assume that in most situations she will be watching more than one infant.

[9] But now that men can be women and women can be men in woke culture, women do have penises and can impregnate other women, and men do have menstrual cycles.  But this leftist progressive absurdity is the telos of the eradication of the distinction between the sexes to the embrace of the sameness of men and women view of the equality of the sexes.

[10] Two traditionally married couples – husband and wife, man and woman.

[11] Some of this is assumed into the narrative, but it is likely what Paul is alluding to when writing to Timothy, directly stating that Adam was first formed, then Eve, as the reason for why men should teach in the church and not have authority held over their heads by women.  Also Paul directly points to the role given to women in this passage as being the role that women should stick to within the family and within the church as the continue in the faith and love and holiness.

The Church and Its Pastors

The Christian Church properly speaking is the Body of Christ, all true believers from all time.   The Church is recognized by the assembly of Christians around the preached Word of God and the delivery of Christ’s sacraments to his people: baptism and communion.[1]  This assemblage of the Church is implied from the Greek word ἐκκλησία which the early Church chose to use to identify itself.  This is also the word that Christ himself used to speak of his people in Matthew 16:18. The word did not have a sacred origin when Christ used it, but a secular and political one.  In the Greco-Roman world, an ἐκκλησία was “a regularly summoned legislative body, assembly.”[2]  The word literally denotes a people who are called out – separated from society in some form or fashion – think of those in Congress.  Christians by being called Christ’s ἐκκλησία are “called out ones,” called out from this wicked world as they are the holy citizens of God’s eternal kingdom and members of his family.

The following is Christ’s usage of ἐκκλησία found in Matthew 16:18: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church [ἐκκλησίαν], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This verse reveals seven key traits of the Church.  First, the Church is Christ’s.  It is his and all authority in it belongs to him. It is not Peter’s Church nor your Church nor mine.  Secondly, Jesus is the one who builds his Church.  He builds it as he sees fit, as he desires.  Third, Jesus builds his Church on himself.  In the context of this verse, the rock upon which Christ builds his Church is the confession made by Peter, that Jesus is the Christ, the living Son of God.  Jesus’ true nature and personhood is the confession and as such Jesus is the foundation upon which the Church is built.  Fourth, there is only one Church.  Christ is not building multiple churches.  Fifth, the Church is growing.  The future active indicative verb οἰκοδομήσω can be translated to say that Jesus “will be building” his Church.  Our current historical context lets us know that this is a proper translation, since Jesus did not build his Church in a once and done action – even to this day more people are being placed into this building as living stones.[3]  Sixth, when Jesus says that the gates of hell shall not overcome the Church, he indicates that the Church is advancing against Satan and his realm, rescuing souls from sin, death, and the Devil.  Seventh, if “gates of hell” is meant to refer to the realm of the dead[4] and not particularly to hell, then the promise Jesus gives is that his Church has eternal life.  Based on point five, we know that point six is true, even if Jesus meant point seven with his use of “gates of hell.”  Regardless of Jesus’ intended usage, we also know from Scripture that point seven is most certainly true.

The Nicene Creed further clarifies Jesus’ teaching that there is only one Church in its confession, “I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”  Holy is clarifying that the true Church is saints – believers.  Catholic refers to the universality of the Church in its geographic scope and apostolic refers to the Church’s confession of the paradosis – the teachings delivered by the apostles to the Church.  Hermann Sasse explains how catholic and apostolic are synonymous and work together to modify the oneness of the Church:

The word “catholic” tells of the universality of the church spread spatially over the face of the earth. The word “apostolic” tells of the identity of the church of all times with the church of the beginning. To catholicity belong “all nations” (Matt. 28:19) and “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8); to apostolicity belongs “always, to the close of the age” (Matt. 28:20).[5]

The Nicene Creed follows its confession of the oneness of Christ’s Church with a confession on baptism: “I acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”  This too elaborates on Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:18 – how is the Church to be built, how are people to be engrafted into Christ’s Church?  Through baptism, because it is in baptism that believers are united with Christ, being buried with him in his death and raised with him to new life, which also explains why the next line of the creed is: “and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”[6]    Along with baptism we know from Scripture that the forgiveness of sins is also promised in the proclamation of the Gospel and the Lord’s Supper.  These are the means by which Christ has promised to save souls from hell and place people into his Church as “called out ones.”  As such, as previously stated, the Church is recognized visibly on the third rock from the sun by the assembly of Christians around the preached Word of God and the delivery of Christ’s sacraments to his people. The Church therefore in addition to being the people of God, the Body of Christ, is the place where God has located his grace – his salvation of mankind.

This leads to speaking of how God’s grace is located and delivered within the Church.  The permission and authorization to forgive sins or to not forgive sins has been given to the whole Church by Jesus Christ himself and is called the Office of the Keys.  To demonstrate the Scriptural teaching of this doctrine, Luther’s Small Catechism states the following: “This is what St. John the Evangelist writes in chapter twenty: The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:22–23)[7] Even though the Keys have been given to all Christians by Christ, Christ has called and designated certain men to hold a unique office within his Church for the public proclamation of the Word of God and the distribution of the sacraments.[8]  This office is called the Office of the Public Ministry.  The German name for this office is predigtamt – the office of preaching.  In Protestant circles, the man who holds this office within our congregations is typically called a pastor. Since the means by which salvation comes to humanity are located in the Church, God has placed men into this office to ensure that the delivery of grace is not left to chance.  This eliminates any wishful hoping that the Word of God will be rightly proclaimed and the sacraments distributed in God’s holy Church.  The men in the predigtamt have been placed there to ensure that the grace that brings salvation is delivered to God’s people in the Church.  This ultimately means that all church congregations have a pastor… or they are not recognized as being part of the Church.

It has already been stated that God places men into the predigtamt.  This office is not a human institution.  It was divinely created by Christ.  Men are called into this office by God.  This call happens mediately through the congregation of God’s people in a specific geographic location.  Though the congregation has been used by God to call a pastor to publicly exercise the Keys on their behalf, the congregation still possesses the Keys themselves.  The individual Christians of the congregation have not relinquished their authorization from Christ to forgive sins when they called a pastor to speak in Christ’s stead for them.  And through their calling of a pastor, they have not given the Keys to the pastor – no – the pastor received his authority and the Keys from Christ.  To emphasize this point, I’ll reiterate – the call into the predigtamt came mediately through the congregation.  This means that God himself has called the pastor to publicly preach the Word and distribute the sacraments to his people in a particular congregation – he has just worked this call through the congregation, who he has also given the authority of the Keys.

God has put this organizational structure in place to nail down where his grace is located – to ensure that it is delivered faithfully and rightfully.  Just as God delivers his grace through more than one means (the Gospel and the sacraments), so too absolution from the Gospel is delivered through more than one means.  Absolution can come to us through more than one office (or vocation).  Sometimes the nature of an individual relationship might lead a person to confess sins to a friend before going to a pastor.  That friend who has the Keys and the authority of Christ to forgive sins can forgive his friend’s sins in the stead of Christ just as the pastor does.  But just because that friend might proclaim absolution to his amigo, it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for him to then take the pulpit and publicly preach.  That would not be his office – that’s reserved for the man called into the predigt amt, the man called to be the congregation’s Absolution Man.    To make things more personal, my wife in her office as my wife can forgive my sins and due to her office as my wife that forgiveness has a special quality to it due to the nature of our relationship.  When my pastor in his office forgives my sins, reminding me that he is called and ordained by God to be God’s mouthpiece to me and that he is speaking in the stead of Christ himself when he says, “I forgive you of all your sins” – yeah, that has something special to it.

The Keys and the authority to forgive sins being given by Christ to the congregation and to the predigtamt – the Church – is not by chance or mistake.  The Church is Christ’s, it’s built on him, and this authority to forgive sins by both the congregation and the predigtamt is by his order and design.  Respect it, and stick to the order he has given to his Church to ensure that the Gospel is rightly proclaimed and the sacraments rightly distributed in good order.


[1] Absolution can also be included depending on how sacrament is being defined. (AAC Article XIII)

[2] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 303). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[3] Borrowed language from 1 Peter 2:4-5: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (ESV – Emphasis added.)

[4] πύλαι ᾅδου – Hades as place of the dead; Ibd.

[5] Sasse, Hermann. Jesus Christ, translated by Norman Nagel, Volume 1, St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 1984, pp. 94-95.

[6] Romans 6:1-5 – “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (ESV)

[7] http://catechism.cph.org/en/confession.html – Luther likely did not write this section of the catechism.

[8] Romans 10:15, Jeremiah 23:21; Acts 14:23; 20:28; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; 2:2; and Titus 1:5.

Greek Translations

1 Thess. 1:9-10

αὐτοὶ γὰρ περὶ ⸀ἡμῶν ἀπαγγέλλουσιν ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων δουλεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ* 10 καὶ ⸀ἀναμένειν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ °[τῶν] νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς ⸁ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης.

My Translation

For they themselves concerning us report the sort of welcome we had toward you, and how you turned to the [one and only] God from [false] idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who saves us from the coming wrath.

ESV

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

NIV

for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

My Commentary

The biggest difference in my translation with the ESV and the NIV comes from this portion of the text: “τὸν θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων δουλεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ.” 

Both the ESV and NIV chose to drop the article in front of God and the article in front of idols.  I chose to keep both of these articles in my translation. I chose to keep the sense of having the article in front of God by adding “one and only” as modifiers.  I think this is fitting.  This is what putting an article in front of God would mean in English.  We just customarily never say “the God.”  We always had more descriptors if we are to put an article in front of God. I wanted to say, “the one true God,” but since Paul later clarifies who “the God” is by saying he is “living and true God,” I chose to not be redundant and repeat the word “true”, opting for “one and only.”  Taking this route, I also added the word “false” in front of idols which also had an article with no other modifying word, and sense Paul is contrasting these idols to the living and true God, I chose to add the modifying word, “false,” to keep the article with a proper description of what Paul is pointing out is the difference between the idols and the one, true God.


1 Cor. 1:18-19

Ὁ λόγος γὰρ °ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία ἐστίν,* τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις °2ἡμῖν δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν. 19 γέγραπται γάρ·

ἀπολῶ τὴν σοφίαν τῶν σοφῶν*

καὶ τὴν σύνεσιν τῶν συνετῶν ἀθετήσω.*

 

My Translation  

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the understanding of the intelligent I will reject.”

ESV

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

NIV

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

My Commentary

My translation matches almost identically with the ESV and the NIV translations.

The biggest distinction of difference came in the word choices made in the very last line.

I chose “the understanding of the intelligent I will reject.”
The ESV chose “the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

The NIV chose “the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

At first, I chose to use the word choice of the NIV, but I think “understanding” is a better choice than “intelligence” in the context of this passage.  BDAG gives the definition of “the content of understanding or comprehension, insight, understandingas a possible meaning for σύνεσις, and I think in this context the word of the cross is much more against the “understanding of the intelligent” instead of the “intelligence [the faculty of comprehension] of the intelligent.

I stuck with translating λόγος as “word” instead of translating it to “message” as the NIV did, though I think “message” is a better rendering in English for our modern day use of English to express what Paul is stating.


Gal. 2:16

εἰδότες °[δὲ] ὅτι οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως ⸉Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ⸊, καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς ⸉1Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν⸊ ἐπιστεύσαμεν, ἵνα δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, ⸀ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σάρξ.

My Translation

And yet because we having known that a person is not declared righteous by works of the law except by faith in Jesus Christ, and we ourselves believed in Christ, in order that we might be declared righteous by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law all flesh will not be declared righteous (or no flesh will be declared righteous).

ESV

yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

NIV

know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

My Commentary

Both the ESV and NIV translations translate εἰδότες, a perfect active participle, as “to know” instead of “having known.”  I like to say, “having known” instead of “to know” because it demonstrates an on-going knowledge of experience. It emphasizes the personal knowledge of knowing that my works don’t cut it for justification.  I know this, and having known this, I’m not going to submit myself to a yoke of slavery again.

I notice that in Logos, the options of translate δικαιόω as “to justify” or “to declare righteous” are available.  In BDAG, the definition of “justify” is never even given as an option.  Instead there is an emphasis on a verdict being a cast that sets one free or vindicates someone.  I don’t even see the word “justify” or “justification” anywhere in the BDAG article.  Though justification is the central doctrine in Lutheran theology, I think it’s best to focus on the declaration of our righteousness in the translation.  It emphasizes the immediacy of our righteousness and focuses on our justification coming from the imputation of righteousness to us in the verdict by God in Christ, which strips away the thought of our works being involved in justification.

The ESV doesn’t show the subjunctive mood of δικαιωθῶμεν in its translation.  I think the subjunctive is helpful here, because as Lutherans we do confess the possibility of “losing one’s faith” or “falling away.”  As long as a person believes in Christ, they might be saved… turning to works of the law would be a turn from believing in Christ.  It’s possible for someone to make this turn, and many have, and the subjunctive translation I and the NIV provided allow for this teaching to be present in this verse. 


Romans 1:16-17

Οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχύνομαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον⸆, δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ ἐστιν ⸋εἰς σωτηρίαν⸌ παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι, Ἰουδαίῳ τε °πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι*. 17 δικαιοσύνη γὰρ θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, καθὼς γέγραπται·* ὁ δὲ δίκαιοςἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται*.

My Translation

For I am not ashamed of the good news, because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.  For the righteousness of God in it is revealed from faith for faith, just as it is written, “But the righteous one by faith will live for his own benefit.”

ESV

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

NIV

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

My Commentary

My translation doesn’t vary much from the ESV.  The NIV translation seems to have taken a lot of liberties on translating these two verses, as many words are present in that translation that I simply do not see in the Greek language.  For instance, the NIV states that the Gospel “brings salvation to everyone who believes.”  I believe the Gospel as a means of grace brings salvation to everyone who hears it… though it’s power to save is only beneficial when received in faith.  The NIV translation with their additional wording muddies this doctrine up.

The NIV also takes liberty in translating “from faith for faith” into “by faith from first to last.”  Why add these additional words that are not in the Greek?  The ESV, KJV, NAS, and NSRV translations do not do this?

The ESV and NIV do not translate the middle voice of ζήσεταιDr. Gibbs taught that it was best to add “for your own benefit” to the verb translation of middle voice verbs to express the middle voice meaning.  Here I think it is helpful to do this.  It’s to my benefit as a righteous person to live by the faith that makes me righteous not by works of the law do not.  There’d be no benefit for me to live under the law instead of by faith in Christ.


Colossians 1:21-22

21 Καὶ ὑμᾶς ποτε ὄντας ἀπηλλοτριωμένους καὶ ἐχθροὺς τῇ διανοίᾳ ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς πονηροῖς,* 22 νυνὶ δὲ ⸀ἀποκατήλλαξεν ἐν τῷ σώματι τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ διὰ τοῦ θανάτου ⸆ παραστῆσαι ὑμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους καὶ ἀνεγκλήτους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ,*

My Translation

And you (plural) who were once having been alienated and enemies in the mind because of evil works, but now he reconciled in the body of his flesh through his death to present you (plural) holy and blameless and above reproach before him.

ESV

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him

NIV

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—

My Commentary

Again the NIV adds much language that is not present in the Greek text.  The Greek says that Jesus through his death present us “before him” as holy, but in the NIV the language of being presented “in his sight” is added.  Nothing in the Greek indicates how Jesus sees us.  It seems as if an interpretation or explanation is being added to the NIV translation.  It is very much the case that we are not literally holy before Jesus, but we are seen (or declared) holy before Jesus though we are in fact still sinners.

There are no possessive pronouns in the Greek to modify mind or evil works, but the NIV takes the liberty to add them.  Also in the Greek mind is singular, but the NIV matching makes it plural to match the possessive pronoun the translators chose to insert into the text.

The ESV adds the verb of doing to the evil deeds.  Paul however is painting a picture of a state of being that is alienated from God as evidenced by the evil deeds that come from that hostile mindset to God.  I think my translation demonstrates this more though it might sound awkward in English.

Also, neither the ESV or the NIV attempted to translate the perfect passive participle verb ἀπηλλοτριωμένους.


1 Timothy 3:16

καὶ ⸀ὁμολογουμένως μέγα ἐστὶν τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον·*

⸁ὃς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί,*

ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι,*

ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις,

ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν,*

ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ,

ἀνελήμφθη ἐν δόξῃ.*


My Translation

Beyond question, the mystery of godliness is great: he who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was proclaimed among the nations, was believed in in the world, [and] was taken up in glory.

ESV

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

NIV

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

My Commentary

Both the ESV and NIV add words that are not in the opening statement of this verse.  The ESV adds the words, “we confess,” and the NIV adds, “from which true godliness springs.”  I’m not sure why either translation adds these words.  I don’t know why they are necessary.

Neither translation included the relative who, ὃς, in their translation.  I think it’s important to include this pronoun in the translation.  Including ὃς in the translation emphasizes what Paul is doing in this verse; he is describing Jesus who is the great mystery of godliness.

The NIV chose to interpret ἐφανερώθη with an active voice, instead of its passive voice.  The NIV then translates the other verbs in this descriptive sequence with their passive voice.  The ESV does translate ἐφανερώθη with the passive voice and then chooses to not write “was” in all of the other verbs.

It is interesting to me that his assumption of a human nature is spoken with the passive voice.  I would assume that this is something that he actively did as the NIV translates it, but I think it is best to keep the verb in the passive voice – this is after all a great mystery.