Category: John



Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the Root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

It may not be as explicit a reference to the deity of Christ as other verses, but it is worth asking, what being other than God can command the angels? Indeed, this question reminds me of the inquiry of the disciples asked in Matthew chapter 8:

Matthew 8:27, “And the [disciples] marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?’”

Though not referencing each other or being conterminous in an obvious way, Revelation 22:16 and Matthew 8:27 show us that Christ has the authority over creation and the rulership over the angels. Again, we ask, who else or what else could that be other than God Himself?

Even if we ascribe a god-like state to Christ, like some Christian denominations or sects do, then we need to admit some form of polytheism with roots in mythology (that is the deification of mere humans into godlike forms, a motif which is so prevalent in mythological tales).

It is a possibility that ‘angel’ simply refers to ‘messenger’ in Revelation 22:16 but I don’t think this is the case. In the heavenlies, it seems apparent that angels preside over churches or even locations, i.e., nations and towns. This is suggested in the book of Daniel:

Daniel 10:13, “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.”

Daniel 12:1, “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who was in charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at the time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”

Regarding Revelation 22:16, a phrase worth focusing on is, “I am the Root and descendant of David.” The Greek word for root here is rhiza. Rhiza can have a couple definitions, a literal one, and a more figurative one. The literal meaning is, “a shoot; source; that which comes from the root; a descendant.” Figuratively, it means “source.” If we assign the literal meaning to root in this verse, the passage becomes somewhat tautologous. Repetitive verses or those that are tautologous in their content aren’t arbitrary, but rather repetition, at least in the context of biblical exegesis, impresses upon the reader an issue of utmost importance. Yet, here it would seem somewhat erroneous for Christ to state to John something like, “I am the descendant and descendant of David.”

Yet, if we use the figurative meaning, it reads, “I am the Source and descendant of David.” This latter rendering is pretty amazing, but what if we take the words at their face value? What is a root? Is it not that from which things, vegetation and fruit, for example, spring forth?

According to the English dictionary, the noun of root (Christ is using it in this noun context) means, “the part of the plant that attaches it to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches or fibers.” Also, a root is defined as the “basic cause, source, or origin of something.” Do not these definitions give us insight into the nature of our Lord? Let us consider them for a moment:

The Part of The Plant That Attaches It To The Ground or To a Support

While seeking an intimate relationship with God, we quickly discover this is an impossible task if we wish to approach God of our own accord. It becomes apparent that we need an advocate or some form of spiritual support to keep us firmly planted in God. This advocate for our faith is Jesus Christ and it is in Him we remain grounded that we might be reconciled unto the Creator of all things. Colossians, according to the NKJV states:

Colossians 1:21–23, “And you, that were once alienated and enemies [of God] in your mind by wicked works, yet now has He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight: If you continue in the faith founded and settled, and not be moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I Paul am made a minister.”

Typically Underground

That which is underground is generally invisible to those above ground. Yet, evidence of that which lies beyond the surface may show signs of its presence and be perceivable to those above. Although the glory of our Lord, for a duration, spent time above ground, on the surface with His creation, He has risen and now rests at the right hand of the Father. God’s presence may be invisible, but evidence of His existence and His attributes surround us continually. The apostle Paul makes this clear:

Romans 1:18–20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

This shows that whatever we are grounded in will produce a harvest according to its kind. If we are grounded in unrighteousness and ungodliness then the truth will be suppressed in us and we will discourage and suppress it among others. However, if we are grounded in God, then godliness and righteousness shall be the result, which will produce the appropriate harvest within the self and among all man.

Conveying Water and Nourishment To The Rest of The Plant

Let us consider a plant to be representational of the church. Likening the church to a plant isn’t absurd given Jesus’ numerous parables emphasizing trees, plants, and vegetation, which was extremely relevant at the time with many of the Jews being well familiar with agriculture and agricultural practices. Even today, individual churches, when expanding, are said to branch off or plant other churches.

Jesus, in the book of John, says:

John 15:5, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Thus, Christ truly is the root of our salvation and faith, not to mention our very existence (John 1:3). It is in Him we are grounded. Whenever a branch is removed from the vine, or a plant is detached from its root, it withers and dies. So too does our hope in the gospel when we remove ourselves from the Lord. Christ Jesus provides the spiritual nourishment that we may be reconciled unto the Father and apart from Him, this is an impossibility. He nourishes us and provides to us the living water necessary for eternal life. The apostle John records:

John 4:14, “But whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Revelation 22:1, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as a crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

Via Numerous Branches or Fibers

In the conveyance of spiritual nourishment, the Lord uses several different means. The church itself expresses and shares this same nourishment, but it is Christ who is the source. If a church comes to lose focus or somehow parts from Christ, it is no longer of the river of life from which one drinks to quench their thirst, but rather a stagnant puddle.

Another fiber or branch used are those blessed individuals who have important gifts who serve this water to others. They are essentially the cup-bearers of the church, but again the source of this water is found in the Lord. The prophets of renown and those of today, for instance, are cup-bearers of the living water. The book of Hebrews mentions these cup-bearers:

Hebrews 1:1-2“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom He also created the world.”

Yet, this represents just one gift. In truth, we are all called to be the cup-bearers and branches of this living water, to not hoard it, but convey and transmit it unto others, both inside the church and outside it.

Christ encouraged His disciples:

Matthew 28:18–20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Yes, Christ is our basic cause. Our source. Our origin. One might be tempted to ask, ‘Being such, wouldn’t the word for seed work better?’ Seed might impart the idea of origin better, but when it comes to all the other attributes we have discussed, I believe that root is the best analogy given the whole scope of the metaphor. Regardless, the one who asks this question is somewhat justified and I would point them to the book of 1 Peter which says:

1 Peter 1:20–25, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory is like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

The Greek word used for seed here is spora, which according to Joseph H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament means, ‘a sowing; figuratively, origin.”

It is my contention that Christ is referring to Himself as the Root in Revelation 22:16 in a more figurative manner, indicating He is the source of David, for both his existence and faith. As the book of Hebrews states:

Hebrews 12:2a, “[Look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

It was Christ Himself that was the founder of David’s existence and faith, and Christ perfected this faith in Him. This can be difficult to grasp or wrap our minds around, but only because human thought is trained and often based upon a chronological framework, while Jesus Christ transcends our human understanding of time and chronology, for Christ is not bound to time, but rather is timeless, aka., eternal. Christ is the Root because He is the Creator and Savior. As the gospel of John records:

John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not made anything that was made.”

John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”

To get the most accurate understanding of the nature of Christ we need both the source figurative interpretation of root as well as the descendant element. Each one on its own will not suffice. The former gives us the nature of Christ which is shared with the Father, His eternal nature, and divine substance, and the latter emphasizes the incarnation of Jesus Christ as man. The two are congruently needed to provide the best representation of Jesus Christ.

To continue with Revelation 22:16, the phrase “the bright morning star” raises some questions due to what is recorded in Isaiah chapter 14:

Isaiah 14:12, “How you are fallen from heaven, O day star, son of the dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low.”

Some believe that the phrase, “the bright and morning star” or “day star, son of the dawn!” refers to Lucifer, which is a Latin transliteration of the phrase. Understandably, a few find it odd that Christ would take this name in Revelation 22:16. Yet, there are a couple things I would like to point out: The name Lucifer isn’t even in our most ancient manuscripts. However, concerning the renderings where the name is included, this translation becomes immediately suspect due to the Latin name being included within an otherwise Hebrew text. In these cases, it is apparent that the meaning of Isaiah 14:12 was already presupposed by translators, which supposedly, according to the proponents, references the devil being cast out of heaven, and the phrase was transliterated providing the name.

It is my belief that the context concerns the judgment of the nation or the king of Babylon, which is referred to as the “bright morning star” or “day star, son of the dawn.” It being a worldly kingdom, it is a possibility that Christ referred to Himself as such because He has overcome the world. As the book of John says:

John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Even if Isaiah chapter 14 refers to the casting down of the enemy, which I don’t believe it does, taking over the name, which in itself is not evil, given its meaning, in the same way, can be symbolic of the defeating or overtaking of the enemy.

However, Isaiah 14:12 is clearly about Babylon, for verse 4 says:

Isaiah 14:4, “[Y]ou will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: ‘How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased.’”

One might argue that there is the possibility that the passage in Isaiah is a kind of veil for both the prophecy and the spiritual truth concerning our shared enemy, but in the strictest of terms, Isaiah 14 refers to Babylon. In my opinion, the motive one might have for holding to this view is that they personally put a great emphasis on church doctrine, but we must be wary of even church doctrine, for this too can go astray. Sadly enough. Let us not be like those sects of Christianity, the names of which I will omit, that put a greater emphasis on their literature than on the Word of God. The cup-bearers of these sects threaten to poison their followers with stagnant water, rather than the ever-flowing water of life which pours from the throne room of our great Lord and Savior.

Thank you all for reading and God bless.

—Brandon

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“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” -John 11:25-26

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In John 14:6, Christ declares, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Christ, being the Son of God, is beyond definition and human comprehension. The only thing that can be known about Christ is what He said and what the Scriptures tell us. The full extent of His godly nature may not be known until the resurrection, which He assures us is Himself. Yet, by His words we know what He is and what He came to accomplish. In addition to John 14:6, Christ, again, declares that He is this, “resurrection.” One of the main themes of the Scripture concerns just that, not only Christ and His resurrection, but also the eventual resurrection of man.

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In it’s appointed time, all man will rise, both those who have fallen asleep and otherwise. If we do indeed die before Christ’s return, we will arise in a form that transcends the body as we now know it. Thereby, we see that man is not just made up of a physical form, but also has a being that surpasses physicality, for it is physicality that we pass from in bodily death. Those who believe in Christ will continue on, freed from experiencing the eternal death. In Christ who was the firstfruit of this resurrection, we will share in a similar glory, raised up from death and into life, that we may live with Christ inside eternity.

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In addition, Christ not only tells us we are to believe in Him, but also live in Him. Now it is true that we aren’t saved by works, but if we are living in Christ, works often times become manifest strictly due to the relationship we have with the Lord. Thus, the importance of works, and the grace offered, do not contradict, but rather edify each other within our lives. Christ is the necessary condition for these works to become evident.

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This is an amazing truth, for if one lacks works that glorify God, than one can conclude there is a need to work on their relationship with the Lord, for the deeper the relationship, the more profound our works become. Thereby, if we find sin slipping out of our lives, which sometimes happens so casually one may not realize, and if we begin to produce good fruit, we can have full confidence that we are saved and sons or daughters of the Most High. Let us not boast in our works beyond what is sober judgment, but rather give thanks, for it is our relationship with the Lord that has brought us to the level of obedience we should and will then experience.

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“In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you may also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place I am going.” -John 14:2-4

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” -John 14:6

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There are several different religions that take mere pieces of Christianity and twist it in order to form a new religion. The interesting and amazing thing is that Scripture seems to refute many of these belief structures, as if God Himself were protecting the Body of Christ from being led away from such false teachings. I know of at least one religion that teaches that heaven itself has an occupancy limit, as if, when we raise up in the Lord, we will be met with a neon “no vacancy” sign. Christ Himself tells us this isn’t the case, that within the promised land are contained many rooms. He tells us that if this wasn’t the case, He would have let us know, but no specific numbers concerning the room available in heaven is given. This means that there is vast room set aside for all those in Christ, and thereby we know, that being in Christ, there too is room for us.

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Christ, because He was sinless, cannot and could not lie, for to do so would negate the faith we have in Him in washing away our sins. So we know His words to be true, otherwise our faith is meaningless. This more than aptly shows the falsehood in believing in Christ, while believing in a celestial occupancy. The Lord has more than enough room for all men and women that come to Him. If there was an occupancy, then there would be none who are saved like being snatched from the fire. Rather, only the most highly esteemed in faith would be admitted. The issue that arises with this is that our faith would become competitive in nature, our salvation resting on the failing of man, rather than the victory of Christ. The second greatest commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself,” could not be accomplished, for each person would be engaged in spiritual warfare, attempting to make others stumble, for the salvation of ourselves. Yet, we know from the Word that it has nothing to do with the self and our salvation rests with Christ.

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The Lord desires that not one should perish, but have eternal life. This is due to His gracious love for us, and since He has prepared a place for us, we will fill that place in the appointed time. It won’t be auctioned off with some currency of piety. Christ loves us and wants us to dwell with Him, which is the very reason He did what He did, that we may dwell with Him for eternity. For, despite our faults, the Lord has a love of man, which could only be accomplished by a being that is love, as our Lord is.

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It is common for man to have doubts concerning salvation. This is not according to the Lord, but rather the self, who can be, and is of, little faith. The nudging of the evil spirit also has a hand in this. Jesus wishes to silence the enemy by telling us that we can know of our salvation by the presence of the Spirit, who is a seal guaranteeing what is to come, and by having our faith rest in Him. He is the way, the truth, and the life.

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In addition to Christ’s amazing words concerning the directions to salvation, there rests also a powerful prophecy concerning His death and resurrection. For He says that He goes to prepare a place for us, meaning that He shall go first, and through Him, we shall follow and be granted access into paradise. When we pass from death into life, we will be given new bodies, and Christ will meet us to present us to the Father. He tells us that we now know the way, and He is that way. With everything Christ says, we can be assured its truth, for He is truth. By His sacrifice, in faith, we gain life, eternal life, which the Father has offered by grace through His Son, Christ Jesus. We have no access to the Father except through Him.

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Thus, we make clear everything Christ is. The Way, the directions into an eternity with the Lord, the truth, for this is what Christ embodied, and the life, that by Him we can occupy that place He has set aside and told us about. Amen.

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“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” -Romans 10:9

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In a previous entry (see my entry concerning Romans 1:12, “On The Correlation Between Faith and Love”), I had discussed some of the like attributes between both love and faith. Yet, when we consider our faith in the Lord, we find love to be a necessary condition for our faith in Jesus Christ. Without this love, our relationship with the Lord cannot develop and will eventually be negated by the doubt that we as believers are sometimes confronted and assaulted with, for our faith cannot be steadfast without loves inclusion in the relationship. We can obviously see this when it comes to loving our brethren, how much more should it be applicable to our relationship with the Lord, who is love? The Bible makes it perfectly clear how love and faith are the prerequisites to developing a deeper friendship with the Lord (see my entry concerning John 15:15, “On Having a Friendship With The Lord”). 1 John 4:19 states (see my entry, “On Love’s First Cause”):

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

Throughout my life, many times have I heard the phrase, “God is love.” From this verse in 1 John, it is more than apparent that this is truth, for it links our love with His. Though God has many attributes, including discipline, these all have their basis in love. Even concerning His wrath, He takes no pleasure in the punishment of the ungodly, but God cannot co-inhabit with evil. As Psalms 5:4 tells us, “With you the wicked cannot dwell.” In the same way two forms of matter cannot occupy the space, so too, the wicked cannot dwell with perfect holiness. This, is in fact, a contradiction, and thereby we need the justification that was manifest and offered upon Calvary. What God does take pleasure in, however, is the justification of the wicked by His Son! This is not only backed up in Scripture, but if it wasn’t true, Christ would not have came and died upon such a cruel instrument of death in the first place. Yet, the cross became His glory! If this did not appease God’s justice and have the ability to, not only change a sinners being, but also clothe the depraved with a garment of righteousness, then the Trinity would have never been separated. Yet, since it has alleviated God’s justice, we are granted the opportunity to come to the Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in faith. By this very thing, which should be evident in our hearts, and through which springs all godly obedience, we are saved. Thereby, we next find ourselves in The Book of John, at one of the most famous verses in all of Scripture, Chapter 3, Verses 16 and 17:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

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Regarding God’s discipline, it is also based in love. Hebrews 12:7-13 likens God to a loving worldly father (indeed when looking at family proper, or rather, a proper family, we find much in the family structure symbolizes God’s nature):

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

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Notice that Verse 8 clearly expresses John 3:16, for if everyone, by love, undergoes discipline, then it follows, “that God so loved the world,” is indeed true. God’s love is absolutely perfect and in complete accordance with His nature. Before our existence in the world came to pass, He already loved us and had our justification planned out in Christ. We can come to the Lord in the first place, as sinners, due to this preexisting love. If it exists prior, on a temporal plain where we didn’t even exist yet, how much more important is this mutual love when we do exist and come to the Lord by faith? Our faith, among other things, is a recognition of that love, and by it we love God reciprocally as the Book of Deuteronomy commands:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” -Deuteronomy 6:5-6

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It is this same faith and love in His Son, by which we are granted the Holy Spirit. To those who have eyes, let them understand, for due to the corruption of this world, the following may be hard to contemplate, or uncomfortable to focus on. However, it is important. As man and women become one flesh in love, likewise do we become one with the Lord by His love and sacrifice. He dwells within us, as the Spirit of Holiness, and if we are in the Spirit as well, love is perfectly manifest and we, by the Spirit, cannot do anything apart from love. If our actions are ones that don’t speak to the love of God in either word or example, it is of the self. As 1 Corinthians says:

“Therefore I tell you that no one is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” -1 Corinthians 12:3

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Though this love was manifest in perfection by the Son, in both His death and resurrection, it existed prior to Christ’s first coming and was in the Law, which according to the Gospels can be summed up with just two commandments:

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the first commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40

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The Law, revealed by God unto Moses, shows explicitly the attributes and nature of God. Hence, we can only conclude the Law is good, just as our Lord is good. In the same way, because God is love, the Law, by necessity, follows suit. Therefore, since we know love to be such an intrinsic part of God, our faith too should resonate with love for our Lord. In addition, the love of God is boundless and this being the case, our love can always become manifest greater in our lives. Though we can love too little, we cannot love enough. This week, let us pray that the Lord may extend the boundaries of love we have set by the desires of the self and our own comfort, that we may better serve both the Lord and man. Let us pray that we may glorify Him even further than we have, through not just words, but rather by example. Amen.

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“Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the Dead.” -Galatians 1:1

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Among other things, the beauty of the Bible is explicitly manifest in God’s ability to speak through it. Many verse are not hindered by a singular interpretation, rather God can use any verse to address any number of things. One of the only things that is required is that it doesn’t contradict any other Scripture. If it does then this “veiled” wisdom cannot be from God (see my note concerning John 14:27, “On The Lord’s Peace and in Which You’ll Read a Few Notes Concerning Biblical Interpretation”).

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Here, Paul, as he does in later verses (see my note concerning Galatians 1:11-12, “On Paul’s Source and The Shifting of Name”), reveals His source of the Gospel, and He who sent Him to the Gentiles to preach the message of reconciliation. This message He did not get from any man, but rather through direct revelation from Jesus Christ. In fact, according to Galatians 1:18-19, Paul didn’t meet any of the apostles until three-years after his ministry had begun. By this verse, we also see that Paul didn’t regard Jesus Christ as a mere man. This is not only important in the context of Scripture, but also in response to the popular belief that Christ was a mere man, though possibly a prophet of some sort.

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"The Conversion of Saul," by Caravaggio. oil on canvas. c. 1600

Yet, Paul states, that he was neither sent by men (the apostles), or by a man (a mortal Jesus). Rather, his knowledge came from the Son of God, and the Father, who raised the Son to a life surpassing mortality, due to His obedience and righteousness. In addition, we who are in Christ, have our passport stamped so that when our mortal bodies pass away, we, in a likeness of Christ, will arise to life, worthy by grace and covered in the blood of the Lamb.

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“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” -1 John 1:7


“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.'” -Romans 3:10

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The world tells us that there are both good and bad people who dwell within it. Such distinctions are usually relative in nature, and are dependent on a person’s actions, rather than their heart. While it is true that action is a manifestation of a person’s axiology, man lacks the wisdom to see what goes on within the intermediate between heart and action, for within this lacks an evil unseen to all but God. We know from scripture and the words of Christ our Lord, that it isn’t just action that makes people evil, but the desires of their hearts and those ideas or carnal contemplations that are manifest in the mind, heart and spirit.

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While the Law is based on solid truth and ideals, man’s law is not. Rather, it is based, again, on ethical, and even cultural relativism. Thus, what is proper or ethical according to one man’s heart may not be the case with another. This suggests the unreliability of man’s conception of right or wrong, though I would agree that God has instilled a natural faculty of judging such things.

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God’s wisdom far surpasses that of man, and though man may conclude he is a good person according to the extent of what he has done, this is not how God judges trespass. A person may conclude he is good due to the fact he has never killed anybody, but Christ says different. He states in Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 21-22:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

What is good isn’t based on action, for we can sin in the heart, both willingly and unwillingly. Therefore, despite man’s idea of goodness, the true ideal, the one of God, says that indeed none are good. Everyone has sinned, and will sin. Christ say’s in Mark Chapter 10, Verse 18:

“No one is good-except God alone.”

Jesus said is in response to a man who fell to his knees before him, and referred to him as, “good teacher,” and inquired what he must do to inherit eternal life. Christ responded with the aforementioned statement, in addition to, “Why do you call me good?”

Though Christ’s response provides some questions, these are resolvable, and we discover His reply hints to His true nature. Jesus never denied He wasn’t good, merely inquired why the man had stated this to Him. Christ was certainly good and He was good because He was The Lord. As Christ states in John 14, Verse 7:

“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.”

This not only suggests the Trinity, but shows us that there is no good one, except for the Lord. Therefore, we are all blotted by iniquity and sin, and thereby, all mankind is in need of a great savior to be cleansed of this sin and to overcome it. This is what Christ has done for us, provided the cleansing power of His blood, that it may wash away our sin when we come to Him even as we are, sinners.

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“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” -Galatians 1:11-12

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Here Paul refutes a argument common in his day, and likewise currently, that the gospel was made up by man. Paul’s own evidence is that he did not study under any of the apostles, and in fact didn’t meet them until three years after his ministry had begun. As it states in Galatians Chapter 1, Verses 18-19:

“Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19I saw none of the other apostles only James, the Lord’s brother.”

Cephas, which means “rock,” in this case is actually Peter. Some dispute this, but when one considers that Christ gives Peter this name in the Gospel of John, and that Paul says, “I saw none of the other apostles,” it indicates to us that he did indeed see at least one of the apostles, Peter, and stayed with him 15 days.

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The main point of the passage, however, is that Paul, who himself used to be known as Saul, was preaching a gospel without former knowledge from any source apart from Christ Himself. It was from Christ that he received his new name and the message of reconciliation.

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"The Conversion of Saul," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1542-1545

Yet, why all these name changes? It’s not meant to confuse, rather provide clarity and symbolism. When we come to Christ in faith, we are told we become a “new creation,” and that the old has gone (See my note on 2 Corinthians 5:17, “On The Old Overtaken By What is New”). Thus, our worldly name, and those of many people in scripture, are changed to symbolize that they indeed are a new creation. Our names too will change, according to Revelation, when we are finally removed from this tent and live in our heavenly dwelling with the Lord. Revelation 2:17 states:

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known to only him who receives it.”

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The color white within scripture symbolizes, purity, righteousness, and refinement. We will be pure beings which will be represented by our new names. Furthermore, sometimes after we come to the Lord we can feel rather insignificant, that we are merely a small particular in an aggregate of believers and though we may have a relationship with the Lord, it’s nothing spectacular and may be commonplace in the vast sea of the faithful. Yet, this verse in Revelation is touching because it shows us that our individual relationship with the Lord is unique. In fact, the relationship you have, and will have, nobody else has. That’s how close of friends we are with Jesus Christ (See my note concerning John 15:15, “On Having a Friendship With The Lord”). This is an amazing thing to reflect upon and I encourage everyone to do so, and that in love, I pray your relationship with the Lord may grow deeper and infinitely more profound. Amen.

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"Christ Pantocrator," by Master of Cefalu. mosaic, greco-byzantine style. Location: Cefalu Cathedral, Sicily, Italy. c. 1150


2 Corinthians 5:20“Therefore, on behalf of Christ, we are ambassadors, as God is exhorting through us, we beseech on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

When we accept Christ and are found to be in Christ testified to by the presence of the Holy Spirit, we will naturally (as concerns our newly created actuality, rather than that of the old nature) have the desire to spread the gospel message of Christ, which amounts to a reconciliation between us and God. This desire and caring for the spiritual condition or well-being of others comes direct from the Holy Spirit. As I have mentioned before in other posts, “therefore” is a word that implies a direct conclusion. That which follows the word “therefore,” is the stated induced or deduced conclusion arrived at from the pre-stated premises or arguments which precede the word, “therefore.” We necessarily, then, arrive at the question, of which previous statements is Paul referring.

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The answer to this inquiry is 2 Corinthians verse 18-19 of chapter 5.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “And all this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. 19For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”

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“On behalf of Christ,” according to the LITV, or Jay Green Sr.’s A Literal Translation of The Bible, is mentioned twice within the verse. The first instance modifies the statement immediately proceeding it, “We are ambassadors.” More or less, this reveals that “we are ambassadors for Christ.” The second instance, that we beseech on behalf of Christ, implies that we share the same message that Christ Himself shared, which is extant within the Scriptures and gospels.

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In addition, when the Word of God repeats itself, or seems redundant in repetition, it is truly not redundancy, but rather repetition is used for a means of emphasis. Therefore, Paul is emphasizing the fact that we are speaking on behalf of Christ, which means a number of things. Some of which will be explored in this blog post. A couple of the most basic though, are that it emphasizes that this message is not of human speech and motive alone, but rather a message preceding from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. Moreover, we share in Paul’s divine appointment, which will be discussed later, as will we discuss the great responsibility of such an appointment.

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The term “ambassadors” that is utilized is truly an important one. As The Life Application Study Bible says:

“An ambassador is an official representative of one country to another.” –Life Application Study Bible

William MacDonald in his Believer’s Bible Commentary says:

“An ambassador is a minister of state, representing his own ruler in a foreign land. Paul always speaks of the Christian ministry as an exalted and dignified calling. Here [in 2 Corinthians 5:20] [Paul] likens himself to an envoy sent by Christ to the world in which we live.” –William MacDonald

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Given this definition or usage of the word, “ambassadors,” we find that it is more than appropriate. Ellicott’s commentary gives us a little insight into the origins of the usage of the word in this particular verse.

“’Ambassadors,’ which may be noted as singularly felicitous, first appears in the version of 1611. The word, derived from the medieval Latin ambasciator, and first becoming popular in the Romance languages, is found in Shakespeare, and appears to have come into prominence through the intercourse with France and Spain in the reign of Elizabeth.” –Charles John Ellicott

Prior to this the word used was “legates.” This word has a definition within both the Catholic and Roman traditions. The Catholic usage, is “a member of the clergy, especially a cardinal, representing the Pope.” However, because Paul was a contemporary of the Roman Empire, he obviously was using the word in the Roman context which meant, “the general or governor of an ancient Roman province, or their deputy.”

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Utilizing both “legates” and “ambassadors” we can reach several striking conclusions. The first concerns authority. By authority I mean that we are given a degree of this authority by Christ and His instruction to share this message of reconciliation. In addition, we are authoritative figures as we are both heirs to the Kingdom and beneficiaries of the glory of the Lord.

Romans 8:17, “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.”

Moreover, concerning this authority, the Christ Jesus says:

Luke 10:16, “Then He said to the disciples, ‘Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting Me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting Me. And anyone who rejects Me is rejecting God, who sent Me.”

Furthermore, in John, Jesus tells His disciples:

John 20:21, “Again [Jesus] said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’”

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However, being an “ambassador” means we are subservient to a higher rule, which is the Lord Himself. Due to the fact we are subservient, our message must correspond with the message of the higher ruling Agent, which is that of Christ Jesus. In addition, we have a great responsibility in sharing this glory, authority and message of reconciliation. As the Life Application Study Bible states:

“An ambassador of reconciliation has an important responsibility. We dare not take it lightly.” –Life Application Study Bible

This authority and responsibility in sharing the message of reconciliation denotes a couple of things. First, and again, it is extremely important that our testimony, witness, or appeal unto others must be in complete correspondence with the ministry of reconciliation as revealed by Christ and the Scriptures. Second, we must be a living testimony and sacrifice that our behavior will not conflict with the ministry. Within us the ministry of truth must be apparent as well as expressed, for we discredit the message by not being in obedience to it. I believe this responsibility and the extreme duty we have to follow Christ’s commandments is expressed earlier in chapter 5 of 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 5:11, “Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.”

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If we are to be sincere and be fearful in our responsibility about this ministry of reconciliation, then it follows that not only will we preach the truth, but we will live according to it. Moreover, to some degree we can see how the two are mutually interconnected, so that if we cease to live by Christ’s expressed truth, the message we share with others will become distorted or open to falsehood. In addition, if we accept or let a false message creep into the message we share, how long before there is a concurrent output that becomes evident in our lives. Christians need to beware at making compromises or concessions to their faith based on sympathies or the ways and arguments of the world, for when we give these freedom or speak them, they will produce a harvest of falsity in our faith and detrimentally affect our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, we are to be partners with the Lord and not oppose Him, basing our relationship with Him on invasive doctrines. Unfortunately, this is all too common, which Paul recognized as he said, stating both our responsibility and this danger:

2 Corinthians 6:1, “As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.”

It is God Himself who enables us both to be in obedience and to be ambassadors to the Good News, thereby let us adhere to God’s ways, the ways of the Spirit, the commands of Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:6, “[God] has enabled us to be ministers of His new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.”

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This enabling by the Lord is perhaps nowhere seen more explicitly than in the example of Paul, who was chosen by the Lord, by grace and divine appointment, to spread the message of reconciliation unto the Gentiles. As Christ tells Saul at his conversion:

Acts 26:17-18, “And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me.”

Though we might have authority by being trusted with this ministry, it does not mean we share, at this time, in kingly comforts which the world might tend to bestow to those who have authoritative positions. It is Paul again who mentions himself as an ambassador even though he lay in chains.

Ephesians 6:20, “I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly as I should.”

These prayers were most certainly answered, for Paul becomes an example for Christians to follow as it applies to the ministry. Obviously our prime example is Jesus Christ, but the early church fathers do present examples of how should live and how we are to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. This concerns not only how they lived there lives in obedience to their faith, but also how they shared the message of reconciliation.

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The Christian cannot help but be impressed with the love of God. That the Lord implores, beseeches, and pleads with us to be reconciled to Him expresses this deep love. This love is manifest in both the Testaments. Some have the perception that the God of the Old Testament is entirely wrathful, while the God of the New Testament is entirely loving, yet the discerning Christian will realize that the Old Testament has attributes of love, while the New Testament speaks too of wrath. Yet, our Lord loves us and implores us not to come under this wrath. We live under two realities, we can either live under wrath, or we can live under grace and love. It is apparent, which one the Lord wants from us. Ezekiel (a rather wrathful book in itself) states God’s great love and desire to impart mercy.

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Ezekiel 18:31-32, “Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!”

Concerning man’s rebellion, Matthew Henry exhorts us:

“Now man must lay down his arms of rebellion, must cease his stubborn revolt, and must be reconciled to God.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

This shows the Lord’s earnest pleading, and it is not because God is on some power trip or selfish, for what does our Lord have to gain or lose by us coming to Him or not coming to Him? Matthew Henry expounds on this point:

“Though God cannot lose by the quarrel [the enmity between God and man], nor gain by the peace, yet He beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation He offers.” –Matthew Henry

Concerning this enmity, William MacDonald states matter-of-factly:

“If any enmity exists, it exists on man’s part.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

Paul implores, pleads, begs, and beseeches that we would be reconciled to God. Again, God Himself is doing this! The Creator of the universe is begging before the likes of man for us to be reconciled to Him. This speaks amazingly of God’s great love, and brings forth images of Christ washing the disciple’s feet. That the Lord of all, would be so humble as to implore us is almost beyond belief. Yet, I am not the only one to be struck by the reality of this and its implications.

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“[Beseeching] seems rather strange language to apply to an ambassador. Usually we do not think of an ambassador as pleading, but that is the story of the gospel, that, in it, God is actually on bended knee and with tear-dimmed eye begging men and women to be reconciled to Himself.” –William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary

Truly, it is an amazing God we serve, and we should do so, in full knowledge of God’s love, and our love for Him, in complete obedience and servitude for this is what He deserves. Further, this is the message that we should portray and share with others, that those we come into contact with may experience the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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“That is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” -Romans 1:12

Titling this note as I did, I think I bit off a little more then I could chew, for this is a profound topic.

However, briefly (hopefully), there is with faith and love a correlating outcome when two of faith, or in love, are brought together, and that is a mutual benefit of each party. In Catholicism they have what are called, “The Seven Virtues.” These include, chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. In the Christian world view, faith and love, as well as hope, are mentioned by Paul (1 Corinthians 13:13) as being of great importance in the Christian walk, the greatest being love. Indeed, many of God’s commandments and Christ’s teachings, as well as the Seven Virtues, can be put in any of these three categories. Christians are to strive after these things that they may become evident in our day to day lives.

Paul states that people can be mutually encouraged by each others faith, which in and of itself is an amazing thing that surpasses progress. It’s always astonishing to me when conversing with a person new to the faith and learning something from them I have never even considered. The world doesn’t work this way. A mathmatetian is probably scarcely amazed at someone who just learned basic algebra. Yet, when two or more are gathered in Christ’s name, nobody is left behind, and nobody seems out of place in regards to the progress of their walk. Each, in faith, is mutually edified by the other.

Now we come to love. What are some of the manifest traits of true love, especially concerning a counterpart? Love is when you are willing to sacrifice all, even your life, for another (John 15:13). It’s when one parties happiness equally and mutually compliments your own. The amazing thing is, this love relationship, though most people put it in the context of a relationship with their desired counterpart, is also manifest with friends and even the Lord Himself, who loved us so much, he came to earth, became subservient to physicality, and died upon the cross for us, that through Him we may have eternal life.

Love is where you are willing to give all and it’s not mutually exclusive, but shared between the parties. Yet, love is not dependent on another party, you can love someone without them returning it, but again, the context I am discussing is a love between two or more people. If, in a pure way, making someone happy in turn makes you happy, that is a sign of love. Likewise, if edifying someone’s faith edifies yours, then that is a sign of true faith. Yet, with both faith and love, the foundation rests in the Lord and without Him pure faith and pure love are impossible and you are merely settling for something that is less than pure. If one wishes to settle on something impure, or be unevenly yolked with someone who doesn’t have similar biblical views, or faith and love in the Lord, then only hardship, frustration and pain can be the result (2 Corinthians 6:14).

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