Compare and Contrast Angels and Humans: Part 3 Conclusion

A brief wrap-up post today on what the past few posts have been on in our short series of the differences and similarities of humans and angels. It is amazing how God created it all to be. In His infinite wisdom, He has done an incredible work. He offers all believers an amazing hope and promise of the future.


Concluding Thoughts

Angels demonstrate their unquestionable love for God by doing exactly what they were created to do. Humans can learn from their example. Both angels and humans are “spiritual beings” made for a harmonious relationship with the Father who is “spirit.”[1] “The creature – whether angel or human – is created to be God-centered. To become self-centered is a contradiction of the basic law of creature existence.”[2] Angels and humans have some of the same tasks – to reveal, worship and serve. Though there are various commonalities between angels and humans, there are many things that separate them. Unlike angels, humans have been made in the image of God, able to procreate, and can have familial relationships. Both angels (the fallen angels) and humans have sinned, but only humans can be forgiven. Believers and angels will rule and serve together, but while humans are presently lower than the angels, believers will eventually judge the angels and have a superior position to them in the future.

[1] Sherlock, “The Doctrine of Humanity,” 35-38.

[2] Chafer, Systematic Theology,  31.

Conclusion to the Significance of Women in Luke

This post will finish up the series of “The Significance of Women in Luke.” This conclusion will remind us how Luke shows a model of faith, discipleship, and trust. Luke’s pairing style gave a great way of showing different responses that showed a poor or incorrect response contrasted with a correct or faithful response. The gospel of Luke reminds us that Christ came for all and salvation is available for all, yet many deny this gift.

A bibliography is provided at the end for a list of all resources that were used in this writing for any further research that a reader may want.


Conclusion

Luke shows how Jesus has done much to dignify and elevate women. “The news of His [Jesus] birth was shared with a Jewish maiden, His death was witnessed by grieving women, and the good news of His resurrection was announced first to a woman who had been demon-possessed.”[1] The women who followed Christ provide a model of true discipleship as they heard Jesus’ call, followed Him during His ministry and suffering, and gave faithful witness to His resurrection.[2] Luke is not merely about the discipleship of the women, but more importantly it appreciates their abilities and resources to focus on Christ to receive and act upon the Word of God in truth.[3] The theme of the women of Luke’s Gospel is the grand theme of the whole of the Scriptures: that after the “barrenness” of Israel and the world, a seed born of a woman would conquer sin and death, be resurrected from the barren womb of the grave, and provide grace, mercy, and life to all who believe in Him.[4] The Magnificat celebrates the reversal of existing social structures. The story of Mary and Martha reflects an opening for women into a rabbinic group that was against the custom of the day. The women during the crucifixion show what faithfulness looks like in the midst of suffering. Because of Luke, we can learn from Mary and Martha that while serving is good, it is best to be at Jesus’ feet hearing God’s word. Luke’s style of contrast between the male and female offer many examples of what true faith looks like through the suffering and oppression of the women. Luke reverses the social norms and elevates women to a level of dignity through the life of Jesus that was unseen of during those times.


[1] Warren Wiersbe, “Luke,” in The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1996), 274.

[2] Rosalie, “The Women from Galilee and Discipleship in Luke,” 59

[3] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 202.

[4] Benson, “The Women of Luke’s Gospel.”


Bibliography

Benson, Mary. “The Women of Luke’s Gospel.” Testimony Magazine. 2007. Accessed March 14, 2015. http://www.testimony-magazine.org/back/aug2007/benson1.pdf

Butler, T. C. Luke, vol. 3. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.

D’Angelo, Mary Rose. “Women in Luke-Acts: A Redactional View.” Journal of Biblical Literature 109 (1990): 441-61, Accessed March 14, 2015.  http://www.jstor.org/stable/3267051.

Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.

Green, Joel B. The Theology of the Gospel of Luke. New York: Cambridge Press, 1995.

Guthrie, D. New Testament Introduction. 4th ed. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996.

Henry, Matthew. “Luke.” In Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994.

Johnson, Luke. “The Gospel of Luke.” Sacra Pagina, vol. 3. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991.

Kopas, Jane. “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel.” Theology Today 43 (1986): 192-202.

Maly, Eugene H. “Women and the Gospel of Luke.” Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Theology 10 (1980): 99-104.

Ryan, Rosalie. “The Women from Galilee and Discipleship in Luke.” Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Theology 15 (1985): 56-59.

Sproul, R. C. A Walk with God: An Exposition of Luke. Great Britain: Christian Focus, 1999.

Stein, R. H. Luke. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992.

Wiersbe, Warren. “Luke.” In The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1996.

Witherington III, Ben. Women in the Earliest Churches. New York: Cambridge Press, 1991.

The Significance of Women in Luke: The Curing Pairs

Today, we will look at the pairs of curing that occurred in Luke 4 and 7. As mentioned in the previous posts, Luke uses the “pairing” style to contrast different responses oftentimes between men and women. This pairing style shows the reader a more faithful response. The theme of barrenness also comes back up and will show up a few more times in the rest of the book.

Pairs of Curing

As soon as Luke presents the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he introduces a pair of cures (4:33-39). First, the man was cured of the demons: Luke notes the effect that the cure had on the belief of those who witness it. Yet, when the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law follows, the effect is vastly different as she immediately rises and waits on the disciples. She evidences true discipleship. The impact of this pair is seen on the reader as Luke displays sincere gratitude gives rise to action, and that action is a way of returning the gift.[1]

Luke tells another set of stories about cures that expand compassion beyond physical curing to an extension of attitude toward those in need (7:1-17). Jesus exhibits grace and heals the centurion’s servant, who is not a member of the Jewish community. This is followed by Jesus meeting the widow of Nain, who represents a group that is among the most oppressed and neglected of society.[2] She does not speak or act, but is now “barren” with the death of her son. We see that the oppressed and needy evoke a compassionate response from Jesus as He brings her son back to life.[3]

Another pair is found in Luke 7:36-50 where Luke contrasts the attitude of the repentant woman who anointed Jesus with the attitude of the Pharisee at whose house Jesus dined. The Pharisee sees himself as righteous, and she sees herself as unworthy. The object of the contrast is not to celebrate unworthiness, but to show the relationship between forgiveness, gratitude, and love.[4] The gratitude and repentance she displays transcends the fear of appearing foolish or self-conscious. This gives her spiritual freedom that characterizes discipleship and expresses through her actions what cannot be adequately expressed through words.[5]

[1] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 195.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 196.

[5] Ibid.

The Modern Believer and the application of the Jubilee

Today, we finish our year of Jubilee research series by looking at the implications of this festival for the modern evangelical. It is a way to summarize what we have talked about and apply those principles for our daily living. In Christ we are free. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. This glimpse at an Old Testament festival provides many practical applications for us and how Christ and His work is a fulfillment of the Messiah.

  • In light of the biblical data, it seems that a general principle for applying the “Jubilee” is that the further we move away from the emphasis on forgiven sin and the restoration of the relationship between God and his people found in the NT, the less faithful we are to the meaning of Jesus’ Jubilee fulfillment.[1]
  • Furthermore, both the Roman Catholic Church and Protestants have all too often failed to proclaim Jubilee in the way that the NT teaches: striving for an economic and social justice that points to the reality of forgiven sin and the reconciliation of God, his people, and the world.
  • But God also designed and instructed us to rest. In fact, God considered it so important that his people rest that he built a rhythm of Sabbaths into the individual and corporate lives of Old Covenant Israel every seventh day (Leviticus 23:3), every seventh year (Leviticus 25:3–4), and every fiftieth year — the Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8–17).
    • This rhythm was intended by God to give his people regular and repeated experiences of receiving from him refreshment and provision so that they would not trust wholly in their own labors either for tomorrow’s survival or the next generation’s material security. It was a built-in spiritual discipline of laying aside works and laying hold of faith. If they observed his Sabbaths he promised them blessing (Deuteronomy 15:4–6), if they ignored them he promised them curses (Deuteronomy 28:15–68).
    • As New Covenant Israel, we now know that the fulfillment of the Sabbath is Jesus, who is both Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5) and himself our Sabbath rest (Matthew 11:28). We are no longer required to keep the Old Testament Sabbath laws (Acts 15:28–29).
    • But this does not mean that we are not to rest. It means that our rest is even more profound. We rest from trying to attain holiness and God’s acceptance through keeping the requirements of the law by trusting that Jesus kept all the requirements of the law for us (Romans 8:3–5). In fact, Jesus stressed that our most important work is to believe him — a form of resting in his promises — not producing a lot of stuff for him (John 6:29). All our productivity is to flow from the rest of faith, otherwise it’s just sin (Romans 14:23).
    • But this more profound rest still must include rhythms of ceasing from work activities for the purpose of refreshment, reflection, renewal, and recalibration. [2]
  • General Implications
    • Give generously
    • Trust
    • Faith
    • Obedience
    • redemption
    • God is the Provider
    • All we have we owe to God
    • Freedom in Christ
  • Certainly there is a Biblical basis for voluntary debt forgiveness. But there is a significant difference between a debt that is paid and the mandatory forgiveness of debt.  Jubilee is clearly an example of the former and not the latter.  Jubilee is not a celebration of forgiveness of debt but of freedom from debt now paid.
  • The Jubilee presents a beautiful picture of the New Testament themes of redemption and forgiveness. Christ is the Redeemer who came to set free those who are slaves and prisoners to sin (Romans 8:2; Galatians 5:1; 3:22). The debt of sin we owe to God was paid on the cross as Jesus died on our behalf (Colossians 2:13-14), and we are forgiven the debt forever. We are no longer in bondage, no longer slaves to sin, having been freed by Christ, and we can truly enter the rest God provides as we cease laboring to make ourselves acceptable to God by our own works (Hebrews 4:9-10).
  • This year of rest typified the spiritual rest which all believers enter into through Christ, our true Noah, who giveth us comfort and rest concerning our work, and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed, Gen. 5:29. Through him we are eased of the burden of worldly care and labour, both being sanctified and sweetened to us, and we are enabled and encouraged to live by faith. And, as the fruits of this sabbath of the land were enjoyed in common, so the salvation wrought out by Christ is a common salvation; and this sabbatical year seems to have been revived in the Christian church, when the believers had all things common, Acts 2:44.[3]
  • Those that were sold into other families thereby became strangers to their own; but in this year of redemption they were to return. This was typical of our redemption by Christ from the slavery of sin and Satan, and our restoration to the glorious liberty of the children of God. Some compute that the very year in which Christ died was a year of jubilee, and the last that ever was kept. But, however that be, we are sure it is the Son that makes us free, and then we are free indeed.[4]
  • his next kinsman might (v. 25): The redeemer thereof, he that is near unto him, shall come and shall redeem, so it might be read. The kinsman is called Goel, the redeemer (Num. 5:8; Ruth 3:9), to whom belonged the right of redeeming the land. And this typified Christ, who assumed our nature, that he might be our kinsman, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and, being the only kinsman we have that is able to do it, to him belonged the right of redemption. As for all our other kinsmen, their shoe must be plucked off (Ruth 4:6, 7); they cannot redeem. But Christ can and hath redeemed the inheritance which we by sin had forfeited and alienated, and made a new settlement of it upon all that by faith become allied to him.[5]
  • This typified our redemption from the service of sin and Satan by the grace of God in Christ, whose truth makes us free, Jn. 7:32. The Jewish writers say that, for ten days before the jubilee-trumpet sounded, the servants that were to be discharged by it did express their great joy by feasting, and wearing garlands on their heads: it is therefore called the joyful sound, Ps. 89:15. And we are thus to rejoice in the liberty we have by Christ.[6]

[1] Chris Bruno, 100.

[2] Jon Bloom, “Lay Aside the Weight of Restless Work,” Internet, http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/lay-aside-the-weight-of-restless-work, accessed 23 November 2014.

[3] Henry, M. (1994). “Leviticus 25:1-7” Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (pp. 181–182). Peabody: Hendrickson.

[4] Henry, M. (1994). “Leviticus 25:8-22,” Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 182). Peabody: Hendrickson.

[5] Henry, M. (1994). “Leviticus 25:23-38,” Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 182). Peabody: Hendrickson.

[6] Henry, M. (1994). “Leviticus 25:39-55,” Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 183). Peabody: Hendrickson.

How does the Jubilee apply to modern believers?

So what you may ask about this year of Jubilee? What is the point of it now that Christians are under the Messianic covenant. How does this apply to me? Hopefully, in today’s post we will be able to answer these questions. The Jubilee reminds us of the great gift and work of Christ. Through studying the year of Jubilee, we can hopefully be more appreciative about Christ and what He has freed us from and done.

Application for Modern Believers

The Jubilee is fulfilled in Jesus as He forgives our debts, restores the relationship between God and His people, provides freedom from sin, and rest to all believers. Jesus’ ministry included other aspects of the Jubilee such as physical and economic relief, but the greater comparison between Christ and the Jubilee is found in Christ offering the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation of the relationship between God, his people and the world.[1]

An important facet of Jubilee is that of rest. God designed and instructed His children to rest by building an important “rhythm” of Sabbaths into the individual and community lives of Israel every seventh day (Lev 23:3), every seventh year – the Sabbath Year (Lev 25:3-4), and every fiftieth year – the Jubilee (Lev 25:8-17).[2] This rhythm of regular and repeated restful experiences was intended by God for Israel to receive His refreshment and provisions so that they would not trust in their own efforts for tomorrow’s needs or the next generation’s material security.[3] If the Israelites obeyed God’s Sabbaths He promised them blessings (Deut 15:4-6), but if they ignored them He promised them curses (Deut 28:15-68).[4] This was a discipline built by God to lay aside one’s own work and efforts and lay hold of faith in the Almighty Provider.

As Jesus is the fulfillment of the Sabbath, He is both Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5) and is Himself our Sabbath rest (Matt 11:28). As Christians are part of the new covenant, they are no longer required to keep the Old Testament Sabbath laws (Acts 15:28-29). This does not mean Christians are not to rest, but it does mean believers rest from trying to attain holiness and acceptance through keeping the requirements of the law that only Jesus himself was able to meet. The Christian’s rest is more profound because they are to trust and believe in the work of Christ, which is a form of resting in His promises, not producing works (John 6:29).[5] All that the Christian is to do is to proceed from the rest of faith, otherwise “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). “We are no longer in bondage, no longer slaves to sin, having been freed by Christ, and we can truly enter the rest God provides as we cease laboring to make ourselves acceptable to God by our own works (Heb 4:9-10).”[6] This does not mean a lifestyle of laziness since the Christian is to do all things for the glory of the Father (1 Cor 10:31), but it means that Christians are to rest in Christ and take regular intervals of resting from work activities for refreshment, reflection, and renewal.

“The Jubilee presents a beautiful picture of the New Testament themes of redemption and forgiveness. Christ is the Redeemer who came to set free those who are slaves and prisoners to sin (Rom 8:2; Gal 5:1; 3:22). The debt of sin we owe to God was paid on the cross as Jesus died on our behalf (Col 2:13-14), and we are forgiven the debt forever.”[7] As the slaves who were sold were redeemed and allowed to return to their families during Jubilee, so this reminds Christians of Christ’s redemption from the slavery of sin and evil, and the believer’s restoration to “the glorious liberty of the children of God.”[8] While some speculate the year Christ died was a Year of Jubilee and the last ever kept, we can be sure that whoever the Son sets free, is free indeed (John 8:36).

Jesus Christ, assuming a human nature, became the kinsman redeemer by redeeming the inheritance which all by sin had forfeited and alienated, and made a new covenant with all those who by faith became allied to Him.[9] As people under this new covenant, God promises Christians that if they surrender to Him and put His will first, He will provide for all of their needs (Matt 6:25-33).

[1] Christopher Bruno, “Jesus is Our Jubilee,” 100.

[2] Jon Bloom, “Lay Aside the Weight of Restless Work,” Desiring God, 2013, accessed 23 November 2014, http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/lay-aside-the-weight-of-restless-work.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Matthew Henry, “Leviticus 25,” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 181.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid, 182.

[9] Ibid.

Historical Background on the Book of Philemon

While there are many better and greater summaries on the book of Philemon, this is just my attempt as a first year seminary student to capture the essence of Philemon. The task of this assignment was to know more about the writing, i.e. who was the author, what was their experience and background, who was the book intended for and why, and what is the purpose of this book. Part of this assignment is to look at various commentaries/encyclopedias/dictionaries and provide a synopsis of the relevant material. Philemon is one of the shorter books in the Bible but it is full of some wonderful words of wisdom, especially applicable for today regarding how to glorify God the Father while working in a corporate setting.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF PHILEMON

  • Author
    • Family heritage
      • Paul, originally named Saul, was born of a Pharisee in the Gentile city of Tarsus which is part of Cilicia between the years A.D. 0 and A.D. 5.[1]
  • Educational background
    • Though born in Tarsus, Paul mentions in Acts that we was “brought up” in Jerusalem, where learned “at the feet of Gamaliel,” who was one of the most eminent teachers of the law at that time.[2]
  • Occupational skills
    • At Tarsus he learned the trade of “tent-maker” which he would occasionally use after his conversion to make a living.[3] He was known in Jerusalem as a student. He knew Aramaic as well as Greek (and Latin), and could speak Aramaic well enough to attract the attention of a Jewish audience.[4]
  • Cultural advantages
    • Paul was born with the freedom of a Roman citizen in Tarsus, a city known for its distinguished philosophy and education. Paul also had Greek citizenship which included advantages such as, “adaptability, curiosity, alertness, love of investigation… He learned to speak the vernacular like a native.”[5] In Jerusalem, he was fully immersed in the Jewish culture and learned the law from one of the greatest Jewish teachers.
  • Religious experiences
    • Saul grew as a Pharisee and became a zealot, a persecutor of Christians until a life-changing journey to Damascus. After a vision of Jesus Christ, he became one of the greatest followers of Christ. Traveling on three missionary journeys, he took the Gospel of Christ to all parts of the known world. He discipled and mentored young pastors like Timothy, started churches, performed miracles, was persecuted, imprisoned and almost killed multiple times yet continued to preach the Gospel. He is one of the most important figures in Christianity, especially in the early church.
  • Audience
    • The people—believers/unbelievers, Jews/Gentiles, etc.
      • This was a private letter to Philemon, a fellow worker and convert of Paul, in regards to his slave, Onesimus.[6] Philemon, along with his wife Apphia and son Archippus, would lead of group of Christian converts at their home in the Gentile city of Colosse.[7]
    • Location—where are they? Provide information about their locale.
      • The Letter to Philemon was written by Paul to Philemon who lived in Colosse. A city of Phrygia in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) on the Lycus River, a branch of the Meander. Hierapolis and Laodicea were in its immediate neighborhood.[8]
    • When was the book written?
      • The beautiful and intimate letter to Philemon is one of the four captivity letters, the others being Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians, that Paul wrote during his first captivity in Rome, which most believe was written around A.D. 63 or early A.D. 64.[9]
    • Their problems—social, spiritual, etc.
      • Onesimus, which means “useful,” a slave under Philemon, had run away from him or possibly robbed Philemon as implied in verse 18.[10] Onesimus fled to Rome where he was converted by Paul. Onesimus, had become a great help to Paul, but Paul knew it was right for Onesimus to return to Philemon.

The purpose of the book

  • “Paul writes this letter of intercession for Onesimus; having returned to God, he now returns to his master, who will have more service and better hold of him than ever-by conscience of his duty and faithfulness in it to his life’s end; his interest therefore it will be now to receive him.”[11] Paul seeing the usefulness of Onesimus and wanting to keep him as a helper, understands the importance of reconciling the relationship. Paul, not wanting to use his authority over Philemon pleads for him to take Onesimus back not as a slave but as a brother in Christ, even willing to assume the financial responsibility for Onesimus’ wrongdoing.[12] The book of Philemon shows the tender appeal of forgiveness.

[1] William Smith, “Smith’s Bible Dictionary: Entry for Paul,” Bible Study Tools, Internet, available from http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/smiths-bible-dictionary/paul.html, accessed on 2 March 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] James Orr, “Paul the Apostle,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Internet, available from http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/P/paul-the-apostle-4.html, accessed on 2 March 2014.

[5] Ibid.

[6] James Orr, “Philemon, Epistle to,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Internet, available from http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/P/philemon-epistle-to.html, accessed 2 March 2014.

[7] Ibid.

[8] William Smith, “Smith’s Bible Dictionary: Entry for Colosse,” Bible Study Tools, Internet, available from http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/smiths-bible-dictionary/colosse.html, accessed on 2 March 2014.

[9] Smith, “Smith’s Bible Dictionary: Entry for Colosse.”

[10] Frank Thompson, The Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible, (Indianapolis: B.B. Kirkbride Bible Co., Inc, 1990), 1678.

[11] Matthew Henry, “Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete): Entry for Philemon,” Bible Study Tools, Internet, available from http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/philemon/1.html, accessed on 2 March 2014.

[12] Orr, “Philemon, Epistle to.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Henry, Matthew. “Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete): Entry for Philemon.” Bible Study Tools. Internet. Available from http://www.biblestudytools.com/ commentaries/matthew-henry- complete/philemon/1.html, accessed on 2 March 2014.

Orr, James. “Paul the Apostle.” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Internet. Available from http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/P/paul-the-apostle-4.html, accessed on 2 March 2014.

Orr, James. “Philemon, Epistle to.” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Internet. Available from http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/P/philemon-epistle-to.html, accessed 2 March 2014.

Smith, William. “Smith’s Bible Dictionary: Entry for Colosse.” Bible Study Tools. Internet. Available from http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/smiths-bible-dictionary/colosse.html, accessed on 2 March 2014.

Smith, William. “Smith’s Bible Dictionary: Entry for Paul.” Bible Study Tools. Internet. Available from http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/smiths-bible-dictionary/paul.html, accessed on 2 March 2014.

Thompson, Frank. The Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible. Indianapolis: B.B. Kirkbride Bible Co., Inc, 1990.