Deathisdefeated

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

The apostle Paul, a Hellenic Jew, was well educated in the culture of his day. He was a devout Jew, but that didn't keep him from using pagan references to make his point.

 

There was an ancient poet/prophet/philisopher named Epimenedes, circa 600BC whom Paul quoted at least twice in scripture. The first reference is found in Acts 17:22-31. Inn that famous exchange on Mars hill, Paul used the quote of Epemenedes "in whom we live, and move, and have our being" from a poem he wrote about the god Zeus. Here is the whole passage:

 "They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one

The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!

But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever,

For in thee we live and move and have our being."

 

Now, what was Paul doing here? He was doing the exact same thing Jesus did in His parables. Jesus used POP CULTURE to explain a point in terms the audience could understand readily. The parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man is a case in point. That story was a popular one with the Jews of Jesus' day. Jesus didn't affirm that the story was true, only that it illuminated a point about God's truth. In the same way, Paul didn't affirm that Zeus was truly a god, simply because he appropriated "For in thee we live and move and have our being" and applied it to a truth about the TRUE God Jehovah!

 

So then, is it OK for us today to take an untrue statement (such as the one about Zeus) and turn it around to make a TRUE statement? I think by Jesus example and Paul's example, the answer would be yes!

 

Paul also used this same poem from Epemenedes in Titus: "The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies" Titus 1:12. If you study this citation carefully, Paul was NOT invoking the Epemenedes paradox, as critics of Christianity say. (see Wikipedia for more info about that subject) Critics like to say that because Paul used self-referential logic, then his statement cannot be true, and he lied about the Jews in Crete. This is the kind of problem we run into when we try to debate the bible on its face value without understanding the deeper cultural and spiritual undertones that are really happening in the bible

 

I bring up this whole topic because CONTEXTUAL bible study is so important. Withuot understanding the context and teh AUDIENCE RELEVANCE, we can never hope to properly interpret the bible.

 

I am just throwing open this topic for discussion here. It's really a fascinating issue and has many facets to discuss!

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E. I'm not sure how to judge that which you are asking. I just know that heavens and earth are imposed upon a certain people when the terms do not refer to dirt and sky.

God made a covenant with Israel, and I guess that means that HE has in mind a 'heavens' (of authority and heirarchy) for them, and an earth (of economy) for them. The WORLD was supposed to go through this order (of authority and heirarchy) to show obedience and respect for God, and their economy (earth) would then fall in line with His order. The Old Covenant was universal as well. All were supposed to follow, and could follow. But God left room for choice. And for stages of development toward His rule.

 In the New Covenant it is similar. The New Heavens is His Authority, accessed through Jesus Christ. And the New Earth is the new economy and social atmosphere that is created when Jesus' authority and ways are acknowledged on earth.

The church facilitates this connection of people with the only mediator between them and God's promises: Jesus.

Contextual Bible study is an aid to understanding the meaning of scripture. HOWEVER, the meanings in the Old and in the New are universal. God told Abraham that in Abraham all of the families of the earth would be blessed. Why? Covenant authority. But these heavens (which were affected by covenant blessing/authority/anointing) were universal. They were to extend to everyone...through the approved channel. It was a world-order...it wasn't exclusively relegated to the context of the Jews in a particular time and place.

Jesus came and was the fulfillment of the old order, showing that He Himself was present all along - and that the order is expressed in Him. Therefore the Gentiles can be grafted in without having to go through the old sacramants which were only shadows of the True Order (that was true all along, but hidden from men's minds). The Old heavens was just a universal preparer.

But I think that heavens (under the sanctions that affect the old) can be affected in a multitude of ways, as can the earth which is under the heavens' jurisdiction. So the heavens and earth can go through a lot of different changes...depending on how they relate to the True.

Our politics and the shape of them can change. Our power/authority structures can change. Our currency, and even the crop yield can change. All depending on how we relate to truth.

These are universal things that hold true, in any time period: the blessings and cursings, and variations of relationship (of heavens with truth, and earth with truth). They were just masked before God's Son chronologically showed us the story.

This is a long-winded way of saying that the Bible explains all that we need to know, when we understand it in its own context. We should not need to think that we need to dig into Jewish culture to understand the meanings of scripture... for scripture itself testifies that it's values are (supposed to be) held universally.

God made a covenant with Israel, and I guess that means that HE has in mind a 'heavens' (of authority and heirarchy) for them, and an earth (of economy) for them. The WORLD was supposed to go through this order (of authority and heirarchy) to show obedience and respect for God, and their economy (earth) would then fall in line with His order. The Old Covenant was universal as well. All were supposed to follow, and could follow. But God left room for choice. And for stages of development toward His rule.

 In the New Covenant it is similar. The New Heavens is His Authority, accessed through Jesus Christ. And the New Earth is the new economy and social atmosphere that is created when Jesus' authority and ways are acknowledged on earth.

E. Harris,

So are you now arguing that we are in the New Heavens and Earth of Revelation 21? And are you arguing that the Old H/E of Genesis one is not material creation?

You hate my style of logic, or belief. Remember my 'both/and' logic?

I believe that it is possible that BOTH are present (old and new). And that some are functioning more in one than in the other. And that it's a progressive wrestling match between the two.

Jesus was the very EMBODIMENT of the New, especially after the resurrection or ascension. And while people were translated into his kingdom, it didn't instantaneously change their whole earthly life, or even all of their thoughts and emotions. They still had to struggle with the outward/old. Even while the inward/new was being born in and through them.

Until I study the subject more, that's going to be "my final answer."

Heavens and Earth.

Earth is physical. Just as our economy on earth is physically manifested, in accordance with our activity. Our activity is in response to our view of the Heavens (the higher dimensions/order that the terrestrial realm dwells beneath). If we (in rebellion) serve an incorrect, selfish view of the heavens... then the real Heavens will be closed to us, and our economy will be cursed. The Heavens (higher dimensions, above/between terrestrial space) are very much involved and in control of earth. And, these heavens (which are more animate than the physical) can be held back from sharing their resources/ideas/flows with us... and our economy suffers.

Earth (Terrestrial Space/Matter) and Physical Economy are practically synonyms... bridged by our physical bodies. Heavens (higher dimensions) and Spiritual Flow are practically synonyms...held together in the Person of God. Jesus exemplified a complete UNITY and BRIDGE between the inanimate earth-realm, and the Author of all life (the Father). In Christ, we also share this vertical unity - joining the earth beneath, with the Heavens above.

Hell, for us, is probably like a large division between the two. The terrestrial body unable to touch the Heavens or receive anything from what is IN the Heavens.

Ed,

 

There are some truths in what you wrote, but I am confused by your statements that said:

"The WORLD was supposed to go through this order (of authority and heirarchy) to show obedience and respect for God, and their economy (earth) would then fall in line with His order. The Old Covenant was universal as well. All were supposed to follow, and could follow. But God left room for choice. And for stages of development toward His rule."

 

Its a nice sentiment, but how in scripture are you backing this up? I can only accept it if you can show from scripture that "All were  supposed to follow, and could follow" If that is so, then why did God decide to separate a people from out of the nations that would follow Him? Why did He constantly refer to them as "His people"

I don't deny that the nations were supposed to be drawn to God, but not by doing an end run around the old covenant practices. In fact, those covenantal practices were INTENDED to create a separateness from the other peoples of the earth. They were INTENDED to appear "weird" to the nations. They were INTENDED to be foolishness to those whose hearts were darkened.

The "attraction' that any nation might find in God's people was not in the covenantal practices, but instead in the grace, mercy, and peace that came from people of God who acted out the mind of God as they learned of God. Elsewise, there would be no attraction, and people would not follow.

I see no justification for thinking that people OUTside the covenant would somehow have justification in God's eyes such that they could approach God. The ONLY means by which the nations could approach God was through God's people, and through the old covenant.

The people of God rejected God so often, that their power was broken and they had nothing attractive. The nations saw them as just another religious choice.

Well, anyone could become circumcised and become a Jew, if they walked accordingly. We forget that the Jewish identity was NOT primarily biological. Biology was just the old. But Jesus said (even before the cross) that God could make children of Abraham out of physical stones. Children of Abraham, by faith and custom...who would be considered more valid *by covenant* than the Pharisees who were called "children of Satan". Jesus didn't place much faith in the outward leftovers. It was the FAITH at the heart of the schoolroom (that was Judea) that God was after, the whole time.

And such faith was open to anyone, in stages. Many gentiles became friends of the Jews, and some converted (in time). Many Gentiles (both before Abraham, and after) heard God's voice, and were on speaking terms with Him. Look at the Roman centurion who (in the apostles' day) trusted in God and HEARD God tell him to go talk to Peter, and that Peter would tell him what to do to be saved. Well...that centurion must have WALKED with God closely enough to discern His voice, as Abraham did. And he followed God, as Abraham did. It's about progressive RELATIONSHIP. THAT's how God has chosen evil to be beaten (temporally, chronologically) both in history and in people's lives. Salvation happened at the cross. And salvation does come to us at a point in time (maybe). But there are plenty of cases in the Bible where belief seems to be more PROGRESSIVE as a WALK TOWARD GOD...than as a once-and-for-all, this-is-it format.

I often wondered about Native American's in Jesus' day. Well? They are judged by the light that they had. Those who walked in accordance with their consciences will be judged accordingly. Those who trusted in the Great Spirit that they could not see to provide a salvation for them, had a faith like Abraham had. We don't know. We cannot judge based on externals. (Plus, we weren't there to see every Native American who ever lived.) The heavens TO THEM...was either opened or closed based on their communication with God (which was through Jesus...even if they didn't realize it at the time).

The Jews were entrusted with a school of symbols...which would enable their culture to better understand and ARTICULATE what is at the heart of creation. It is obedience/alignment/correct relational approach to this invisible order (that is always present) which determines whether there is an open heaven or a closed one...and whether the earth (economy) is outwardly blessed or cursed.

Those who knew of Jews' monotheism, would have been drawn to investigate it (if they cared for truth). The Jews were then to HELP THE NATIONS. But oftentimes, they threw up racial barriers formed by pride and exclusiveness...not understanding their REAL role as priests. To help explain, to teach as you would a child. To have patience and ENCOURAGE.

"The "attraction' that any nation might find in God's people was not in the covenantal practices, but instead in the grace, mercy, and peace that came from people of God who acted out the mind of God as they learned of God. Elsewise, there would be no attraction, and people would not follow."

True. And the same holds true for us peculiar people today...especially those of us who believe in tongues, prophecying, and all that. Even the invisible peculiarities are a hurdle, sometimes. When the Jews got rejected it probably stung. That is probably the source of the pride that turned into borderline racism among some of them. Hardened, stuck-up, and seperatist in their ATTITUDE of pride (beyond what the law required). I can identify with this. As a Oneness Pentecostal, we have been rejected by most other christians. The broader pentecostal movement had it bad enough, with the tongues thing. But the Oneness Pentecostals were considered heretics (still are by many) for disputing with non-biblical trinitarian terminology. So what did many pentecostals do? Return the favor. They exclude us? Well, we will beat them to the punch. We exclude them, first...and say that they're not saved unless they do x and x and x and believe x RIGHT NOW. (Thankfully, most pentecostals have gravitated away from that exclusivism toward their fellow christians, over the last 20 years... and are now joining with the rest of the charismatics, and understanding it's about an individuals RELATIONSHIP with God more than any external measure that we can point to.) When rejected of men, it's hard to keep your heart warm & soft enough to help those who ARE seekers, and who ARE open to what you have to share with them.

The point is: do you walk according to your conscience - as cleanly as you can in word, deed, attitude. Are you OPEN to God...as Abel, Job, David, and the Roman Centurion of whom Jesus said that he had never seen such faith - not even in Israel? And if we are SAVED BY FAITH...wouldn't the Roman Centurion have had that faith, since it made JESUS marvel?

There are DEEP THINGS about the old and new covenants that are probably still in effect today (right along with the struggle against evil). And we have barely scratched the surface in 2012ad.

Whatever Epimenedes may have written about the Cretians in 600BC, it was still being quoted as a truism in Paul's day about those people.  And it was a statement to which Paul agreed was true about them and so instructs Titus to turn this reputation around amongst those confessing Christ (Titus 1:10-16), so as to stop the mouths of the false accusers among the circumcision.   Epimenedes was not speaking 'God's truth' but making an observation based on some apparent facts.   Now when God does inspire a man after His own heart to confirm it, THEN we can know that the accusation was not without some merit.  But just because there were saints in Crete, does not validate the false accusers.   Therefore 'all truth is not God's truth' unless HE says it is so!  This was not a fact that applied to the saints at all.

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