179. Paul as the leitourgos of the Messiah (Romans 15:16).

Four related terms occur in Paul’s epistles, Luke-Acts, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. These are the verb leitourgeō (Acts 13:2; Romans 15:27; Hebrews 10:11), the nouns leitourgia (Luke 1:23; 2 Corinthians 9:12; Philippians 2:17, 30; Hebrews 8:6; 9:21), and leitourgos … Continue reading

176. “Made Firm/Strengthened” By God and Others (stērizō 2 Thessalonians 2:17).

Several times in the New Testament the writers describe how God acts to “make firm or strengthen” the Messiah’s followers (Romans 16:25; 1 Thessalonians 3;13; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 3:3; 1 Peter 5:10). In other contexts the writers or human characters … Continue reading

170. Busy with/Devoted to Spiritual Activity (proskartereō)

The verb proskartereō occurs in the New Testament primarily in Mark’s Gospel (3:9), Acts (1:14; 2:42,46; 6:4; 8:13; 10:7), and Paul’s letters (Romans 12:12; 13:6; Colossians 4:2). Paul also used the cognate noun proskarterēsis at Ephesians 6:18. In The simple form kartareō (“to  … Continue reading

155. Paul’s Role as “Ambassador” (presbeuō (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Within Paul’s letters and Luke’s Gospel we encounter the verb presbeuō (2 Corinthians 5:20 and Ephesians 6:20; it also appears in a textual variant at Ephesians 3:1), the noun presbeia (Luke 14:32; 19:14), and the noun presbeutēs (Philemon 9). The verb and the nouns … Continue reading

154. God’s “Primal Decision” (prothesis) for Human Salvation (2 Timothy 1:9)

Some terms found in the New Testament seem to get rendered with quite diverse and unrelated terms. prothesis is one example. In Matthew 12:4 it occurs in the phrase  tous artous tēs protheseōs and is rendered as “consecrated bread” in the NIV or … Continue reading

153. antilutron in 1 Timothy 2:6.

Within the Pastoral Epistles we discover several creed-like segments which summarize ideas central to the gospel message (1 Timothy 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Titus 3:4-7). The content and formulation in 1 Timothy 2:5-6 display similar characteristics. It describes the … Continue reading

157. The Meaning of philostorgos in Romans 12:10.

The adjective philostorgos occurs once in the New Testament in Romans 12:10. In the NIV it is rendered as “be devoted.” Other translations render it simply as “love” (NRSV, ESV, NLT). Louw and Nida define it as meaning “pertaining to love … Continue reading

154. “Imposters” or “Cheats” – goēs in 2 Timothy 3:13

In his final letter to Timothy Paul acknowledges that godly living attracts persecution even as “evildoers and imposters (goētes)…go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13NIV). Paul describes an escalating, negative relationship between those determined to … Continue reading

153. “Educating in an even-tempered manner ‘those who oppose’ (antidiatithēmi) ” (2 Timothy 2:25)

In his personal correspondence with Timothy Paul continually warns him about people in the Ephesian church who “teach false doctrines” (1 Tim. 1:3). Timothy has to deal with such people and command them to cease. He urges Timothy not to … Continue reading

152. “Rekindling” a Spiritual Gift (anazōpureō 2 Timothy 1:6)

In his second letter to his protege Timothy, Paul urges him to embrace God’s calling vigorously, despite opposition and difficulty. In 2 Timothy 1:3-14 Paul shares his longing to see Timothy. His feelings for his friend have their root in … Continue reading

151. Paul’s ‘priestly’ Ministry — hierourgeō in Romans 15:16

As Paul concludes his letter to the Christians in Rome, he explains again why he has written, i.e. in fulfillment of his commission from God as apostle to the nations (Rom. 15.15-16). He incorporates cultic or ritualistic language in order … Continue reading

150. “The Gifts and Calling of God: ametamelētos in Romans 11:29

Twice in his letters Paul uses the adjective ametamelētos (2 Corinthians 7:10; Romans 11:29). These are the only two occurrences in biblical literature (both Old and New Testament Greek materials). However, ametamelētos has a long history of usage in Greek literature, … Continue reading

149. A Disciple’s ‘Mindset’ (phronēma – Romans 8:6,7,27)

In the midst of his great discussion about the relationship between the believer and God in Romans 8, Paul introduces a word which occurs only in this chapter in the New Testament. It is the noun phronēma (vv. 6(2x), 7, … Continue reading

148. Pursuing praupatheia — An Essential Virtue for Christian Leaders (1 Timothy 6:11)

It does not take long to discover that the author of 1 Timothy has a penchant for lists. One such list occurs in 1 Timothy 6:11 where the writer, Paul, urges his protégé, Timothy, to flee some things and pursue … Continue reading

147. Conceited, Deluded, or Just Foolish — The Meaning of tuphoomai in the Pastoral Epistles

In three different contexts within the Pastoral Epistles Paul employs the verb tuphoomai (1 Timothy 3:6; 6:4; 2 Timothy 3:4). In each context the New International Version renders the meaning as “conceited.” Other popular English translations render it as “puffed … Continue reading

145. Is Godliness a “means to financial gain”? The Wordplay in 1 Timothy 6:5-6 porismos

As Paul concludes his first letter to Timothy two themes occupy his attention. He instructs Timothy to “teach and exhort these things” (v.2), perhaps with reference to the entirety of his advice in this letter. Then he warns Timothy again … Continue reading

140. Godly Exercise (gumnazō) 1 TImothy 4:7-8.

The drive for physical exercise is certainly alive and well in North American culture. Whether it is a registration at the local exercise facility or developing your own in-home exercise room or a less costly strategy, people are into exercise. … Continue reading

139. Cauterized or Branded in One’s Conscience (kekaustēriasmenōn) 1 Timothy 4:2.

When he is in prison in Rome awaiting trial before Nero, Paul writes Timothy who is working as a Christian leader in the church at Ephesus. One of Paul’s major concerns in this letter are people associated with that church … Continue reading

138. epieikēs — Equity — A Key Quality of Christian Leaders (1 Timothy 3:3)

One of the more famous sections in Paul’s Pastoral Epistles is the list of qualities he provides for selecting Christian leaders to guide local churches. However we understand the meaning of the term “episkopos” in 1 Tim. 3:2 (I think … Continue reading

137. ‘Honourable Standing’ as the Messiah’s Agents (bathmos) 1 Timothy 3:13

As Paul concludes his description of attributes that church leaders should possess and exhibit consistently, he expresses a promise. NIV renders 1 Timothy 3:13 as “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing (bathmon…kalon) and great assurance in their … Continue reading

134. Experiencing Literal and Metaphorical Shipwreck (nauagein) (1 Timothy 1:19)

Paul mentions three literal shipwreck experiences in 2 Cor 11:25 using the verb vauagein and these do not include his experiences narrated by Luke in Acts 27-28. What kind of work he was engaging during these three experiences remains completely … Continue reading

133. Let the “Messiah’s Peace” rule or hold sway in your Heart brabeuein (Colossians 3:15)

Paul in his letter to the Christians at Colosse defines a number of ethical principles in chapter 3 that should characterize followers of Jesus. Along with the principles he describes motivations and empowerments available to believers to enable them actually … Continue reading

132. “To Go Astray, Deviate” (astochein) in 1 Timothy 1:6.

In his first letter to Timothy Paul begins by identifying the significant issue that his representative faces within the Ephesian church context. According to the writer some people considered themselves teachers of the Jewish law, but had no idea about … Continue reading

130. The Scope of “Pastoral” work poimēn (Ephesians 4:11)

Despite our frequent use of the English word “pastor” to describe primary spiritual leaders within Evangelical churches, the only New Testament context where the Greek noun poimēn (shepherd) occurs and explicitly describes local church leaders is Ephesians 4:11. The cognate … Continue reading

129. “Submitting to the rules of the world” (dogmatizesthai in Colossians 2:20)

When Paul tries to help believers in the Colosse church understand why some of the teaching they are receiving is harmful, he asks them why, as followers of the Messiah, they “submit to the rules (dogmatizesthe)” of this world, as … Continue reading

128. Does “allegorical” Mean “Allegory?” (allēgoroumena) (Galatians 4:24)

Within the context of his theological argument in his letter to the Galatians, rejecting circumcision as necessary for salvation, Paul employs the contrast between Hagar and Ishmael and Sarah and Isaac within Abraham’s household. In Galatians 4:24 he says “which … Continue reading

127. phragmos (Mt. 21:33; Mk. 12:1; Luke 14:23; Eph. 2:14).

In Ephesians 2:14-22 Paul describes God’s great project for a new people, which required the cross, the resurrection and the ascension. Jesus Messiah’s sacrificial actions served to re-create the family of God, incorporating Jew and non-Jew equally, based upon his … Continue reading

122. The Gift of “Governance” (kubernēsis) (1 Corinthians 12:28)

Within Paul’s discussion of the grace-gifts provided by the Holy Spirit to disciples of Christ we find the term kubernēsis, translated in the NIV as “administration” (1 Corinthians 12:28). It is not clear exactly what ability Paul is defining through … Continue reading

121. “Redeeming the Cursed and Redeeming Time” (exagorazein) (Galatians 3:13; 4:5; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5)

Four times in his letters Paul incorporates the compound verb exagorazō — twice in Galatians and once each in Ephesians and Colossians. In his letter to the Christians in Galatia Paul used the verb to describe what the impact of … Continue reading

120. God’s Instructions (chrēmatizein) Regarding His Son (Matthew 2:12,26; Luke 2:26)

When God decided to send Jesus as Messiah, he communicated in various ways with different human subjects. Sometimes he employed dreams or at other times heavenly messengers, and occasionally the Holy Spirit directly gets involved. Whatever means God used, his … Continue reading

119. The Messiah’s Triumph in the Cross (thriambeuō) (2 Cor. 2:14; Col.2:15)

While there is debate in the case of Col. 2:15, it seems most probable that in both the Colossians passage and 2 Cor. 2:14 God is the subject of this verb thriambeuō in Paul’s letters. These are the only contexts … Continue reading

118.”Reconciling (apokatallassein ) all things to himself” (Col. 1:20)

Paul is the New Testament author who explores the concept of reconciliation most fully, using the verb katallassō[1]and the cognate noun katallagē[2] to express this concept in his letters to the Roman and Corinthian churches. The meaning of the simple … Continue reading

117. God’s work that “Makes us Qualified” (hikanoun) — Colossians 1:12

The verb hikanoun occurs only two times in the New Testament and in both cases Paul was the author (2 Corinthians 3:6; Colossians 1:12). Paul incorporates the cognate noun hikanotēs once into the 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 context. The Gospels of … Continue reading

115. God at work–Paul’s Concept of the Verb energein and Cognates (Philippians 2:12-13)

One of the more unusual notions that frequently occurs in Paul’s letters is that God is “working in” people and situations. The verb that expresses this most consistently is energein 1 (“put one’s capabilities into operation”) and its cognate nouns … Continue reading

112. Fathers, Anger, and Discipling Children (parorgizein Ephesians 6:4 and erethizein Colossians 3:21)

Embedded in the closing section of Ephesians and Colossians, a set of instructions to Christian fathers forms part of a so-called “household code” (Ephesians 5:21-6:9; Colossians 3:18-4:1). In the Ephesian segment Paul urges fathers to “bring them [children] up in … Continue reading

111. The Ministry of Patience (makrothumein 1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Paul’s description of pastoral and member care responsibilities in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 includes two related, but distinct terms paramuthein1 and makrothumein (5:14). Paul used the verb makrothumein (2x) and its cognate noun makrothumia (10x) twelve times in his writings, but … Continue reading

107. What’s the Difference? Diastolē in Paul’s Letters and Diastellō in Mark’s Gospel.

Three times in his letters Paul used the noun diastolē (Romans 3:22; 10:12; 1 Corinthians 14:7). This noun is translated in the New International Version (NIV) as “difference” or “distinction” The cognate verb diastellō occurs more frequently in the New … Continue reading

102. “Endangering one’s life…for the work of the Messiah” (paraboleusamenos Philippians 2:30)

When Paul commends his friend, Epaphroditus, he comments particularly on his willingness to hazard everything for “the work of the Messiah,” to act as the serving emissary of the Philippian Church, and to assist Paul. In Philippians 2:30 Paul chose an interesting expression to describe the degree to which Epaphroditus was willing to go for the sake of the Gospel. Continue reading

99. The Wonder of Revelation (apokalupsis Galatians 1:12; 2:2)

Our familiarity with the last book in the New Testament, Revelation (apokalupsis), hides the fact that the use of this noun as the title to describe divine revelation first occurs in the writings of Paul and Peter. This does not … Continue reading

98. “The Man of God” (ho tou theou anthrōpos 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The phrase “the man of God” (ho tou theou anthrōpos) occurs only twice in the New Testament, both times in Paul’s correspondence with Timothy (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 3:17). Alternatively the phrase ho tou theou anēr is never found … Continue reading

97. The Purpose of Paul’s First Meeting with Peter (historēsai Galatians 1:18)

One of the intriguing questions about the early church is the nature of the relationship between Paul and Peter. Without doubt both men, committed Christian leaders, made a huge impact upon the shape of the Christian church. Their writings document … Continue reading

96. Having the Same Form (summorphizō) Philippians 3:17

Twice in the space of a few verses in his letter to the Christians in Philippi Paul used the verb summorphizō (“becoming like” (NIV) 3:10) and the cognate adjective summorphos (“will be like” (NIV) 3:21). These are the only contexts … Continue reading

95. Contending (sunathlountes) … Not Being Intimidated (pturomenoi)

When Paul composes his letter to the Philippian believers, his personal circumstances are not the best – imprisoned, awaiting trial, with execution as a possible outcome. Within the Christian ranks some leaders were using the occasion in such a way … Continue reading

94. “Guaranteeing the Gospel” – bebaiōsis in Philippians 1:7

Given the unique message of the Gospel, ways and means had to be found to validate its truthfulness and accuracy. Paul particularly brings various legal terms to bear on this process, incorporating them into his writings adroitly to encourage confidence … Continue reading

92. Reflecting and/or Contemplating Jesus’ Glory (2 Corinthians 3:18 katoptrizomai)

In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul considers the significant and awesome changes that Jesus’ followers experience because of their relationship with the risen Messiah. “We are being transformed (metamorphoumetha)!” Paul exhalts. This present reality enables believers to enjoy in their current … Continue reading

89. How Witty Should Christians Be? (eutrapelia Ephesians 5:4)

Wise use of humour can be extremely beneficial. It encourages, builds relationships, gently rebukes, and tactfully suggests a better way. Conversely, some become slaves to laughter, addicted to witty repartee to the point that they will do or say anything … Continue reading

88. “Knowing Christ” (Philippians 3:10)

Recently I was interacting with a pastor about the meaning of the expression “to know him”, i.e. Jesus, that Paul used in Philippians 3:10. What did Paul signify by using this expression to define his spiritual quest? Are we to … Continue reading

83. Apekdusis – A metaphor for Jesus’ Work on the Cross and Our Personal Transformation in Christ (Colossians 2:11, 15; 3:9)

In his letter to the Christians in Colosse Paul used a noun (apekdusis) and its cognate verb (apekduomai) which do not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. In fact the noun and its related verb first occur in Greek literature … Continue reading

82. Warnings About ‘Crafty Scheming’ (methodeia – Ephesians 4:14; 6:11)

The Greek term methodeia only occurs twice in the New Testament and both are found in Ephesians (4:14; 6:11). As well, no occurrences of this word are known in Greek literature prior to Paul’s use of it in this letter. … Continue reading

78. Taught by God (theodidaktoi – 1 Thessalonians 4:9)

The Psalmist declared “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me” (Psalm 71:17) and he desires that God continually would teach him to do his will (Psalm 143:10). His experience and expectation is that God does instruct him, with … Continue reading

77. Holding God in contempt – a Human Deception (Galatians 6:7 – muktērizō)

Paul’s choice of words in his letter to Christians in the province of Galatia reflects careful intention. The issues he confronts are extremely serious, the opponents powerful and persuasive, and his audience somewhat befuddled. Strong warnings mingle with cries of … Continue reading