Monthly Archives: September 2015

September 29, 2015 Psalm 25, Colossians 4, Psalm 27 (19)

Lots of Greek names in this passage, Chuck H. did a good job reading them. Onesiamus the freed slave is one of the names.  A question was raised about the gender of Nympha as in most versions Nympha is a woman, but in King James Nympha is a man. Mark said that in the Greek version Nympha is masculine.  This is area where Christians lived in tunnels persecuted by Romans. Paul was a Roman citizen. Tom asked how. Paul was a Roman citizen by birth. Others had to buy their way in or perform some important service to the empire. It was an important thing to be a Roman citizen and it was rare for a Hebrew to be one.  How does Pope Francis relate to Colossians in terms of reaching out to people.  I think that he is following the words of Paul as much as possible. What kind of push back did he have from US bishops. It appears that the most outrage occurred from sexual abuse victims as they interpreted his remarks on Sunday to the bishops in which he said to the bishops and priests in attendance that he felt thir pain. This seemed to signal to the sex abuse victims that he was trivializing the church’s role in responding to the sexual abuse victims. He has not met with them even as much as the previous pope did.  Will there ever be any kind of unity among Catholics and other churches. The consensus was that it would not happen. There was discussion about Catholic practices of not offering the Host to non-Catholics. Dick Trost’s sermon based the outreach of Jesus to all not just the Jews was based on the words of Peter. Paul is usually much more pronounced about preaching that Christ reached out to all, not just to the Jews. Peter, in Rome, was associated with Christians there being Jews, so it is interesting to read Peter’s words about Jesus reaching out to all, not just the Jews.  Paul’s teaching brings Jesus’ teaching to personal relationships as opposed to rules about relationships between individuals and God. Bill say its a problem when we say we are the only answer.

Next time we move to Luke.

September 22, 2015 Psalm 18:16-32, Colossians 3, Psalm 18:33-50 (18)

We noted the Psalmist saying how good he was and how he followed God, and therefore God would reward him. This kind of writing was very typical of early Psalmists.

Just a little geography this morning before we start our discussion. Colossae is located in southeast Turkey just down the Meander River from Ephesus. It no longer exists as a city. It is not too far from the current city of Perge. The Christians were being persecuted by the Romans in areas not too far from here. Many of the early Christians lived in caves and tunnels as they tried to avoid the Roman Persecutors. So you can see the concerns of these people. Paul was under house arrest in Rome, and he was the principle leader of the non-Jewish Christians. It would be easy to be discouraged and so he would write about how they should live their lives.

Early Christian leaders thought the 2nd coming was imminent and they didn’t always write their thoughts down, but here Paul did write down this change in rules.  As Hal says he wrote how to live in Christ, and this is very like living the  golden rule. How do we think about God. What is our image of God when we pray? How do we think about heaven? Bill poses these questions to us and it prompts all of us to think about what our relationship with God really is all about. Paul says do it thru Christ, meaning that we should live our lives in Christ. This was a counter culture in that day. Pope Francis is suggesting the same kind of things that we live in Christ first and put the laws of the Old Testament in second place.  It seems that this is precisely what Paul was saying. Put on a new set of clothes for our lives, those of Christ, compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, etc. The words Paul gives about our family lives tell us to live with respect for others in our families. All of this is to show these lives lived according to the will of God. We got into a discussion about how God chooses those who will be saved and I don’t think there is a randomness or willfulness about it, but rather almost an idea of you turn away from God by your repeated actions against the will of God.

September 15, 2015 Psalm 95, Colossians 2, Psalm 18:1-15 (22)

At Gene’s request, we are incorporating Psalms into our schedule, one at the beginning and one at the end. Tom suggested that we follow the schedule used by the monks at the New Melleray Abbey. The link to their schedule is here New Melleray Abbey Psalm Schedule The schedule of Psalms given in the schedule is done according to the Hebrew version, but most of us have the Greek version, so the number is one greater than the one listed.

Early Christians were trying to figure things out about Jesus and who he was and what his ministry was about. Paul was trying to help them out and speak to the problems that were most vexing to each of the churches. They were having troubles in Colossus figuring out whether they needed to follow the Jewish laws and regulations, so in this chapter Paul addresses that question.  Paul says we should not be bound by rules of Sabbath, and other such rules. He talks about emancipation from the law on one hand but on the other hand how orderly your life and faith in Christ is. We discussed the order in our lives and how many of us have a set schedule and when we can’t follow it we become upset. The idea here is that we need to have a discipline and order to guide our faith in Christ. Paul is giving his interpretation of Jesus to the people of the area. Many times we are more interested in hard and fast, black and white rules that we can follow, like the clerk in Kentucky who has the rule about not allowing gay marriage. Yet she ignores other possibly equally relevant rules for her life. How do we decide when we should use civil disobedience to address moral stands on various issues. This is an age old problem, and if we take this tack, we need to take the consequences of our actions from the civil authorities. Look at the many years Desmond TuTu spent in prison for his objection to apartheid. What should we think about euthanasia? Where does the moral line fall between encouraging life and admitting there is no hope of continuing life. Chuck talked about his daughter who had a massive stroke and they decided to cease life support despite her desire to continue life, but she would not have had a real life and would have had an existence of a vegetable. But she was not going to be alive in any real life. What about the role of angel worship that is outlawed here? Does this become the end for many people such as various Catholics. This may be a matter of support for our faith that helps out in situations. Can people use an angel or Mary to intercede in their faith as a helper. Mark made this somewhat cryptic comment that “the most compelling thing about theology is heresy” and I think it means that you study what is meant in theology by studying the things that are labeled heresies. In this chapter, we are looking at the heresies surrounding the thought by some in the early Christian movement that to be a Christian, you first had to be a Jew and that you had to follow the practices of Jews. Paul said that was not the case. However, this was somewhat a contention between Paul and Peter. Peter was in Jerusalem where the church was based on the Jewish people there, while in Colossus, many people became Christians who had not been Jews. We concluded with Psalm 18:1-15.

September 8, 2015 Colossians 1 (20)

Mark introduced Colossians and said there is always a discussion about whether or not Paul wrote it. One way to look at it is the common words in the book as compared to other books that are known to be written by Paul like Galatians. The evidence is not completely clear. It was thought to be written in the 50’s. Era of gnosticism. Significance of rituals. Discussion of the role of body and how it should be treated. There was a lot of licentiousness among these people. They thought if the body didn’t make any difference to eternal life, you could do anything.  Paul maybe told his secy. to write to this people and he wrote a greeting and summary. There is a real difference in the translations and some are very cumbersome. Tom remarked the OT is similar in the Message but NT is different. Brian thinks the message is more of a commentary and maybe the NT is where Peterson is more adept with his Greek than Hebrew. Curt asked how we can reconcile all of these versions into our orthodoxy. NIV wants to be more literal and possibly more orthodox. Tyndal was persecuted for his translation of the NT and ultimately killed. Look at the difference in the message and NIV in Jude 2. The NIV states “Mercy, peace, and Love be yours in Abundance.” A beautiful phrase. KJV says ” Mercy unto you, and peace and love be multiplied.” while the message says “Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; Open your hearts, love is on the way.” and this just doesn’t say it for me like the other versions. Sometimes the way the verses are stated make it come alive and become significant for me. This is certainly the case for me with the NIV statements of verses Colossians 1:15-22. Verses 15-20 is base of the gospel here. Significance of the resurrection is here in this section and it is a strong argument for one god, whether it be called God or Jesus. Verse 21 is also very significant here. Verse 22 says “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 –” but establishes a caveat based on the actions in which he sees the people engaging. Here is the caveat: “if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.” You gave here the image of the invisible. Christ is exact likeness of God who can’t be seen. .

September 1, 2015 I Samuel 28-31 (19)

This was the story of David taking over from Saul and Saul’s death. Discussion about mediums and the witch of Endor. By divine law, mediums and spirituals were banned from Israel in Deuteronomy 18:11 and were not to be defiled by them (Leviticus 19:31). So when Saul brings this to a medium, he indicated he was very distressed to go against this long established principle of God, one more indication of how far Saul had departed from God. The story surprisingly the power of the witch of Endor as when Saul asks her to find Samuel and bring him back from the dead, she does just that. And Samuel then tells Saul there is no hope for him and that he is doomed to die either by the Philistines or himself the next day.  I guess this is an indication of the writers’ belief in mediums or spirituals.  The web site Samuel, Saul and the Witch of Endor states essentially that the author says that “Satan would like nothing more than for people to dabble in the occult world of spiritism and necromancy. God’s commandments regarding these things are designed to protect us from the schemes of our enemy, the devil, who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).”

What validates God’s presence in our lives. It brings up the discussion of where Is God. Maybe we aren’t pleased with the response. What is the covenant? It is not a contract like we may want it to be. Can we think about how good and bad both happen as part of our lives. God works in mysterious ways. Did Luther say there is no free will, we are bound by sin. The spirit comes to us to strive towards God. We don’t find God, He finds us. It isn’t an absent God but a god we keep striving after. No matter what happens it is what God is willing for us. Saul’s death is one of 4 suicides in the Bible.  What is God’s plan as presented in this story.

Here are some Bible dictionaries’ definitions of Ziklag. Ziklag Definitions There is an interesting reference at the following website:   The author, Chip Brogden, makes the point that David makes the point that this story in I Samuel 30 is one of the most severe tests thus far  in David’s life. The Amalekites had invaded the south and burned Ziklag and taken all the women captives including David’s wives  Abigall and Ahinoam. David and all his 600 men were extremely distressed at this disastrous turn of events. The men were so angry that they threatened to take it out on David and stone him. but how did David respond? David asked Abiathar the priest to bring him the ephod and David inquired of the Lord as to whether he should pursue the Amalekites. The Lord answered that he would surely overtake them. David immediately set off and with the help of a defector from the Amalekites found them and destroyed them all slave 400 young men who escaped on camels. David rescued all the women and children who had been  taken.  We had a little discussion about the fact that there had been 200 of the 600 men who were not able to go with to kill the Amalekites and yet David gave them of the spoils of the battle as well. The men were grumbling about it, and David said “What the Lord has given us, we will share with those who stayed behind with the baggage. And furthermore, he made it a rule of Israel from that day on to share the spoils of war with the support folks. Maybe this is like Jesus and his story of the 3 laborers who showed up at different times of the day at the vineyard and nevertheless received the same pay.  Would it be inconvenient if Jesus walked into the room and talked with us. Don’t diminish the spirit that appears to us.

We will do Colossians next with a reading from Psalms as our beginning.