JohnSWilson3 Blog


“…any other thing that opposes healthy teaching…” (Part 2)
August 16, 2015, 1:51 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

In part 1 of “…any other thing that opposes healthy teaching” I introduced Paul’s list of behaviors that oppose “healthy teaching.” When one is living by Christ, they will be attentive to what is going on in them and around them. God’s work in us will be “in faith” that results in love from pure motives and a good conscience. This gives brothers and sisters a radar of sorts, a matter of discernment to that which is of the Spirit and that which is of the flesh. While we may not know all of the works of the flesh, a brother or sister who is hearing Christ can sense it by the Spirit within them and put it off, putting on Christ from within. The more we hear Him and follow Him, the more of Christ will be seen.

Additionally, the focus in Part 1 was on the first part of Paul’s list of things that the law was for, things which can be deceptively brought into the life of the body from within and the importance of faith, love, and conscience on these matters within the gathering. This last half of the list are those behaviors that can be brought into the life of the body from without. It is a direct assault on human life. Human life is precious to the Lord. While in the Old Covenant the Lord allowed and even commanded the nation of Israel to war against her enemies it was done so as a judgement. Today in the New Covenant God still judges but He alone avenges His people. (1) Each one of the extreme examples Paul lists describe those whose behavior are lawless, unruly, impious, sinful, unholy, and profane. They live without regard for authority and submission, without respect for others, namely human life. As a result Paul uses the noun form of the words for seven of the eight words, using the adjective form for the last word.

Often a societies laws typically will ban these horrendous forms of behaviors because they destroy a person’s or others physical and emotional life and bring spiritual devastation. The words that Paul now uses in this list can easily fit into the latter half of the Ten Commandments albeit of a more extreme nature. The words are not necessarily paired as in the previous six words, however there does seem to be a pattern. The first two words seem to be paired, the fourth and fifth words seem to be paired, and the seventh and eighth words seem to be paired while the third and sixth words are not. Here I have listed the words from the direct translation from Marshall’s Greek Interlinear (2) and connected the Law with each (3).

“…for parricides and matricides (fifth commandment)
for menkillers (sixth commandment)
for fornicators, for paederasts (seventh commandment)
for menstealers (eighth commandment)
for liars, for perjurers (ninth commandment)
and if any other thing the healthy teaching opposes…”

Parricides (4) and matricides describe those who murder fathers and mothers. In the Ten Commandments the fifth commandment states: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, TNIV) Societies normally do not allow for children to murder their fathers or mothers. It is a direct assault against the familial nature of human life and God and His ecclesia specifically. One of the greatest forms of human relationship one could ever have can be with a father and mother. To murder one’s own father and mother is a total disregard for human authority and submission, let alone in matters of faith, love, and conscience.

Menkillers (5) describe those who are murderers (TNIV). Menkillers can fit easily with parricides and matricides; it is a general term meaning slayers of human life. The sixth commandment states: “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:12, TNIV). Murder is typically one of the greatest crimes one could commit in society.

Fornicators (6) and paederasts (7) describe those whose offenses are sexual in nature and brings physical, emotional, and spiritual devastation upon themselves. The Greek words for both describe perverse sexual behavior, both related to adultery, or sexual behavior outside of marriage. The seventh commandment states: “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14, TNIV) The word for fornicator, the root word for pornography, comes from the word meaning to sell, essentially to sell oneself to another’s sexual lusts, a prostitute. Prostitutes, both male and female, in the ancient world, dependent upon location were often associated with pagan temples, as pagan religion incorporated prostitution as a form of worship of the pagan god. Paederasts means a male in bed with another male to engage in sexual intercourse, homosexuality. This can also refer to female homosexuality. Paul used forms of both words in his letter to the Corinthian ecclesia. Paul is aghast that the believers have accepted “fornication” “among you” “and such fornication which is not among the nations,” “a man has his father’s wife. And you are proud!” (8) Many ancient Roman and Greek societies allowed prostitution and homosexuality, they were both acceptable forms of behavior as they were related to their pagan worship. However, in Christ, He has made the ekklesia a new creation. In the Corinthian letter Paul goes into great details of why this sexual behavior is not acceptable in the ekklesia, first and foremost it is fleshly and emotionally and spiritually destructive for all those involved in its behavior.

Menstealers (9) describes those who steal people in order to sell them, i.e. “slave traders” (TNIV). The eighth commandment states: “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15). Typically we see this as stealing something at the store, something we can hide easily without being noticed. But Paul goes to the extreme in describing a person who would steal a human being in order to sell them. They are not just stealing a person, they steal that person’s heart and soul, reducing them to an inanimate object without honor or respect. Sadly in today’s world there are those who forcibly steal children and youth in order to sell them as slaves in other countries, or to use them as sex slaves or prostitutes for personal gain, bringing physical, emotional, and spiritual devastation upon their victims. How destructive and contrary to what is good and right in any society, reducing persons to nothing more than cattle to be stolen, bought and sold.

Liars (10) and perjurers (11) describe those who lie or lie under oath respectively. The ninth commandment states: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16). (12) A liar is a person who deceives others by distorting or misleading what others say or do. The forms of this particular word are used primarily by John in his gospel specifically in John 8:44 where Jesus says “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Interestingly Jesus equates deception with murder. In truth we die spiritually, we murder, when we deceive. To deceive others, falsifying, distorting, misleading others about someone we are allowing spiritual murder to take place within ourselves and others, and fall under the deception of the father of lies. The ekklesia only lives by and for truth, however hard that word may be, for truth in reality is a Person, our Lord Jesus Christ. When one is caught in a lie, there is a tendency for them to lie even under oath, or perjury. Perhaps this is the reason Paul used the adjective form of the word for perjurers in this letter.

Keep in the mind that these are examples of some extreme and hurtful behaviors of the flesh and should not be considered the only behaviors, as Paul in his letters is never consistent in describing examples of the works of the flesh, as he finishes this list with “and if any other thing the healthy teaching opposes.” In almost every letter Paul wrote he often contrasted the works of the flesh with that of the Spirit. (13) It seems based on what the problem the ekklesia was going through he used terms that describe the flesh as it relates to what the gathering of the brothers and sisters was experiencing and contrasts that with living by their indewelling Christ, so it was a bit different for each ekklesia. What was not different was the gatherings life together, they are to live by Christ. He is our health, our healthy teaching. Every other thing that Christ’s life opposes is that of the flesh as Paul said in his first letter, to the ekklesia in Galatia: “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict (opposes) with each other…But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (14) In essence Paul to Timothy has just repeated what he spoke decades ago to the gathering of brothers and sisters in Galatia. The same applies to us today.

The problem that Paul asks Timothy to confront with “certain persons” in the ekklesia at Ephesus was that these persons seem to focus their conversations in their gatherings on the law. I don’t know about you, but just having gone through this list of those things the law was made for, determining their meaning and application can be heavy, weary and depressing because it’s conversations about the flesh, which brings only death. There are those who will nitpick and find some loop hole in word meanings in order to justify ungodly behavior. How taxing and lifeless that is. Our life together is about Christ in us! The gatherings, while they may have to confront issues related to putting off the flesh in its experience together it is for the purpose of putting on Christ. A good rule of thumb about these matters can be found in Paul’s earlier letter to the Corinthian ekklesia: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the ekklesia? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13a). Even today we have voices supposedly from the “ekklesia” who are judging “those outside,” wanting to be “teachers of the law” and trying to show out as if they were God’s prophets, “but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” They are “certain persons” who typically are from religious Christianity, just like in the ancient ekklesia in Ephesus, whose focus is sadly more about the law than Christ and our relationship with Him and one another. I have friends and co-workers who have some of these behaviors, namely being profane, homosexuality and lying, and many other things not on the list. For my friends and co-workers while I do not accept their behavior I still try to respect them as persons, as human beings who need Christ and pray that one day Christ will change their hearts and minds by how I live by Christ.

At this point Paul’s thoughts in his letter to Timothy move him to express praise to God saying “healthy teaching” is “according to the good news of the glory of the blessed God which I have been entrusted with.” How true Christ’s words are: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, TNIV) Christ is our healthy teaching, He is the good news, He is the glory of the blessed God! It is His teaching, His words, the good news by His Spirit in and to and through one another that brings rest and life and not weary and death. Anything else is “meaningless talk.” Paul knows this full well as he now reflects how this good news of Christ totally and completely changed his life from one living by the works of the flesh and the Law to one “entrusted” with God’s good news!

Notes:

(1) Romans 12:17-21 states “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” When we are living by Christ, this is what He will look like in us.
(2) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613.
(3) Gordon D. Fee; 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus: New International Biblical Commentary; Hendrickson Publishers, 1988, 46.
(4) The Greek word “patrolōais” comes from two Greek words for father and murderer and “mētrolōais” comes from two Greek words for mother and murderer. Both words are only used here by Paul in the New Testament, possibly because of the extreme nature of the behavior, although the root words are used numerous times. See: http://biblehub.com/greek/3964.htm, http://biblehub.com/greek/3389.htm.
(5) The Greek word “androphonois” is only used once by Paul and is the only time it is used in the New Testament. The root words however are used several times: male and murder. In essence the word means a male murderer. See http://biblehub.com/greek/409.htm. It is interesting that Paul would choose the male form of the word instead of just “phonos” for murderer as used in the Ten Commandments found in the Greek version of the Septuagint “φονευσεις”. (http://bibledatabase.net/html/septuagint/02_020.htm, 20:15) As we will see it seems these “male” terms are often used elsewhere to refer to any person.
(6) The word used for fornicators is “pornois,” the root word for pornography. The word used here means a male prostitute, although it can be used generically to describe any person who sells themselves to others sexual lusts. See: http://biblehub.com/greek/4205.htm.
(7) The word for paederasts is “arsenokoitais” and comes from two words “male” and “marriage bed,” both roots being used many times throughout the Bible. See http://biblehub.com/greek/733.htm.
(8) 1 Corinthians 5:1. Paul uses the feminine form of the word “porneia” to describe the sexual deviant behavior occurring in the ekklesia, in this case a form of incest. Paul seems to use the word for any form of sexual deviant behavior, not just male or female prostitution, other than homosexuality. In 1 Corinthians 6:9 Paul uses both words as he reminds the ekklesia of other various forms of sexual deviant behavior, if they didn’t quite get it the first time, and lists not just “pornoi,” but also idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, and “arsenokoitai.”
(9) The Greek word “andrapodistais” means “one who forcibly enslaves.” This is the first and only time the word is used in the New Testament. In the ancient world while one might be born into slavery, which was then the world’s main labor force, this word means “one who unjustly reduces free men to slavery, as one who steals the slaves of others and sells them.” See http://biblehub.com/greek/405.htm.
(10) The Greek word “pseustais” comes from the word meaning one who falsifies or lies. See http://biblehub.com/greek/5583.htm.
(11) The Greek word “epiorkois” means against an oath, so to swear falsely. See http://biblehub.com/greek/1965.htm.
(12) Both “pseustais” and “epiorkois” together best represent the meaning of the ninth commandment based on the Greek word used in the Septuagint “ψευδομαρτυρησεις.” http://bibledatabase.net/html/septuagint/02_020.htm.
(13) See Gal. 5:16-26; 1 Thess. 4:3-10; 1 Thess. 3:2; 1 Corinthians is nothing but contrasts; etc.
(14) Galatians 5:16-18. The Greek word “opposes” in 1 Timothy is “antikeitai” and is the same word Paul used in Galatians. It means to place fully against, and is completely and irreconcilably opposite of each other. Without Christ we are “without hope” and “far away,” but we “have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace.” Ephesians 2:12-14.