Hermeneutics

Historical, contextual and word analysis performed on Biblical scripture.

Day 3 in Jerusalem (Dead Sea Scrolls)

Today I had the opportunity to see the real Dead Sea Scrolls. These absolutely incredible pieces of parchment provide a viable defense of the Old Testament scriptures of the bible. The only Book missing from the Dead Sea Scrolls is Ester. The Essenes, who wrote these documents, did not believe Ester to be inspired since Ester does not once mention God or Lord in its text.

Before I begin discussing the incredible impact that these scrolls hold for Christianity I want to acknowledge the writers. When we see people that are radical, that are extreme beyond measure, or that are just outright different we tend to just say, “oh those guys are wackos!!” or “What stupid beliefs!” or “What reason do they have to act that way?!” The Essenes were the radical people of their time from 150 BC to 70 AD. Many of the Essenes were celibates (for those who don’t know, that means they didn’t get married or have sex). These people were devoted to a lifestyle of abstinence of worldly things to the point of having no money and no property. Yes these people were homeless. These people would start their morning with a ritual cleansing, they devoted themselves to charity, they were completely benevolent, and they studied and studied the books of the elders.

What we have in our Bible today is almost identical to what is written in the Dead Sea Scrolls. the finding of these Scrolls could have changed everything. Our Bibles could have been so terribly translated and the transcription so horrific, that an entire reformation would have had to occur in Christianity. These Scrolls prove the legitimacy of nearly perfect transcription from years and years of copying. Before these scrolls we had many manuscripts but none that were full. We had the Masoretic text and the Aleppo Codex, which the Masorites used in their transcription of the Old Testament Scriptures. These texts both date to the 10th Century AD. The Dead Sea Scrolls Date from 150 BC to 70 AD. When we put the Masoretic text right next to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are more than a Millennium older, we see hardly any differences in the text.

Have you ever played that game where you sit in a circle and started out with a sentence, and whispered it in your neighbors ear, then your neighbor did the same to his neighbor? Once you get all the way around a sentence that went, “Ralph ate the turkey that Denny shot in the woods” to “My pal Debated at Berkley in Grannys hot hood.” It is almost impossible to get around the circle without the sentence changing in a drastic and often humorous way.

Obviously that isn’t the best analogy since the text we have wasn’t subject to only Oral Tradition but much and much written copying. However my meaning remains the same. It is only by God’s sovereignty that these texts have not changed. It is only by God’s molding, like the Potter molded during Jeremiah’s time, that what our Bible contains is more than 99% reliable (just a random number. Im not making a statement).

My Personal Application to this is complete awe. When I stepped inside the area where most of the “Dead Sea Scrolls” are kept I could feel the Presence of God. Many of the original Scrolls where inside glass and we could look at them. I was looking at texts that were over 2000 years old. OVER 2000 YEARS OLD. Name something off the top of your head that is over 2000 years old that you have seen. And then to add on top of that, these 2000 Year old Scrolls prove the Old Testaments Legitimacy.

These Scrolls were found in 1947, which is one year before the State of Israel was declared as a nation. Ironically this is right around the time when Skepticism of the transcription of the Bible was very high. These Scrolls “bust a cap” in that skepticism. I think it is absolutely incredible that God would release these documents at this time.

One more interesting fact before I finish. Papyrus, which had been used to write on for centuries had gone out of style. Writing on Papyrus would be like owning and typing on an ipad 1, or fat Dell Laptop from 2005. Parchment had just been invited in 200 BC and these Essenes who had no money and no property owned the latest piece of writing technology available and it is because of that Parchment and the preservation of the texts in Pottery that the Dead Sea Scrolls are still readable today.

Thank you for reading. Im trying to keep this short so as not to overwhelm or discourage people from reading but my mind is exploding with information.

God Bless, Nick Ayers

Categories: Christianity, Hermeneutics, Israel | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Promotion of Damnation

I am hurting from the painful critiques of the modern church that do nothing but tear down the body of Christ and turn people away from heaven and towards Hell. When you constantly criticize the church in front of others you are willingly working for Satan.

Often times we say the Body of Christ is broken. On the Contrary, the Body of Christ is functioning more powerfully today than ever before. However, it is working against a Brick Wall made up of its own Christians.

1 Corinthians 3:12-17, ” If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames”

What I am about to tell I hope will change your “approach” period. Paul was a very eschatological, future oriented man.

There is no choice of little importance. There is no decision that carries little weight. There is no place that holds little value. Whatever choices you are faced with, whatever decisions you are making, wherever you are and wherever you are going are vitally massively insanely incredibly instrumental.

Now to address the matter at hand. What 1 Corinthians 3 is describing is the shallowness of wisdom (sophia) that the world gives. For the Corinthians it was an issue of elevating themselves through the wisdom of the world with application of Christianity which is a sickening twist of truth. That earthly wisdom (hay and straw) will be destroyed by the Fire of the coming Day of the Lord and only things of eternal importance (Gold and silver) will pass through the fire of the Day of the Lord. The Corinthians were messed up in their understanding of wisdom and Paul addressed it numerously in his letters to them. The issue and what we may consider, “hay and straw” today is worse. The Holy Spirit is moving in ways never seen before in the world today. From the 1900’s forward, the overwhelming encompassing of God presence is untouched by any other generation in the past. Millions in Africa coming to Christ at once verses a few thousand in biblical times. Thousands and Thousands worshipping and sometimes Millions worshiping the Lord verses a few hundred when the New Church started. God is near. The Holy Spirits promotion of the most Illogical Gospel (unwise to the greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews)  has boomed. The times are coming to a close. Churches filled with the Holy Spirit have arose. Churches in alignment with the Lord are in the many.

The continuation of 1 Corinthians 3:16 goes as follows,

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? if anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred and you are that temple.”

Many would interpret this as the individual. However with good exegetical study we come to the conclusion that this is referring more to the church. Gordon Fee’s commentary on 1 Corinthians states,

“Most likely Paul meant by this not that the Spirit dwelt in each of them, true as that would be for him, but that the Spirit of God ‘lives in your midst.’ That is, Paul is here reflecting on the church as the Corporate place of God’s dwelling.”

If you destroy God’s temple, God will destroy you. (Yes, a loving God will destroy you, not because he is evil, but because in this case you are being evil to an intolerable level. We can not forget God is not “just loving,” but is “loving and Just.” I will not sugar coat things for you.) Destroy in the Greek is, “phtheirō” which literally means in the opinion of the Jews, the temple was corrupted or “destroyed” when anyone defiled or in the slightest degree damaged anything in it, or if its guardians neglected their duties. In an ethical sense, to corrupt, deprave. How are we to treat this move of God happening in our Generation? How are we to judge it? How are we to analyze it? How do we help the church grow? How do we help the church die?

I’m not going to go about interpreting all this for you. I will let you soak it in and dwell on it with the aid of the Holy Spirit to guide. However one last point. Non-eternal things will perish in fire, for they will not make it through the Day of the Lord, but good eternal things that benefitted the Kingdom of God will shine and will bring about wonderful rewards. What will evil eternal things bring? When our destruction of the church has an eternal effect, what reward will that bring? 3:15,” he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” Praise God for forgiveness that transcends our works for we would be eternally dead without the free grace Jesus brought about through such a horrendous death.

Oh God let us walk carefully yet boldly in your will and humbly in your calling. Let us criticize only when necessary with the mind of Christ and when necessary shut our mouths so we may not be destroyed.

On an encouraging note. God’s forgiveness forgives all who call upon the name of the Lord. If you have committed such destruction do not be depressed but repent and ask for forgiveness. I know I have struggled with pulling the church down multiple times but through the grace of God I have been given the opportunity to repent and change, and in doing so, Glorify God.

 

 

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you.

May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.

 

 

Categories: Christianity, Hermeneutics | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ephesians 3:14-21, A Historical Analysis

The author of the book of Ephesians is declared in the first verse of the book itself, “Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus.”

Also note it tells that Paul is “an Apostle of Christ Jesus.”

Paul wrote Colossians as well as Ephesians. We see Colossians 4:7-8 directly corresponds with Ephesians 6:21-22. Both Scriptures refer to Tychicus as the messenger to both churches. This implies that both books were written almost at the same time, by the same author, and possibly sent to each church close to the same time.

During this time Paul was imprisoned. His imprisonment was in Rome which establishes the reason for Tychicus as the messenger.

Some more recent scholars would argue that Paul is not the Author of Ephesians due to dramatic differences in the style of other Pauline epistles in comparison to Ephesians. The other books he wrote such as Romans, Galatians or Philippians all have specific tones or controversial elements.            Philippians has an encouraging tone, Galatians has a difficult tone, and Romans has a tone in which arguments and misrepresentations of the Roman church are brought into the open. In Ephesians there seems to be no controversial element which makes some recent scholars question its authorship.

One would assume that Paul was writing this letter to Ephesus simple due to the title of the book. This however, is not the case. The scribes of the second century are the one who labeled the epistles with their current names. Philippians and Corinthians were easier to pinpoint because the recipients are mentioned directly. With these two books we can assume that the title is correctly implemented due to the specific mentioning of the intended audience.  In Ephesians this is not the case. No where in Ephesians do we see the audience pinpointed at Ephesus, that is, in the original text.

So we can infer from this that Paul may not necessarily be writing specifically to the Church in Ephesus but rather to the entire church in Asia. The idea that this letter is not as specific as the others may help prove the generality of the region for which it is intended. It also proves that the drastically difference in tone does not negate its authorship.

We have already established that that Ephesians was most likely written at the same time as Colossians. Another book was written close to the same time. In 63 A.D. three scrolls of papyrus were takes from Rome to Asia. These three were prison epistles known as Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians.

One of the main purposes of the book of Ephesians is to reconcile the Gentiles to God.

Since this book had no greeting of specific individuals and was strangely general we can conclude that this letter was meant to pass from church to church.

We can see that since this book was written to the Gentiles in Asia it would be focusing mainly on bringing Gentiles into the body and teaching them the ways of Christianity.

 

Categories: Christianity, Hermeneutics | 1 Comment

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