K. C. Moser sitting on the steps of a schoolhouse in 1911 reading a book.

Today I want to share ten items about one of my heroes of the faith, Kenny Carl Moser (1893-1976). My own saga with Moser began with Jim Massey class on Romans in the summer of 1988. I did not learn anything about Moser in the class only that Jim recommended (but did not require) that we read The Gist of Romans. I read Gist of Romans but failed to appreciate it because my own legalism could not yet process it. A few years later, Leonard Allen’s little classic Distant Voices:Uncovering a Forgotten Past for a Changing Church in 1990 or 1991 and then John Mark Hicks 1992 lecture on Moser at Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis really spurned my interest.

What became merely an attempt to get to know him became something of an obsessive fascination. Trips to Abilene to meet his family (daughter Fran has been the picture of grace to me), trips to sift through jungles of vertical files, to giving lectures on him at ACU and the Christian Scholars Conference. Since then I have read every known piece of literature written by Moser. And discovered quite a few unknown.

I have come to believe that Moser’s pilgrimage is sort of a parable of the 20th century Churches of Christ as a whole, perhaps my own as well. Moser’s early ministry was on the fast track to stardom. He knew the right people and said the right stuff. He was selected to be the minister at a large church, Tenth & Francis in Oklahoma City on the recommendation of Foy E. Wallace Jr. He was positioned to be an “Editor Bishop” as he joined E. M. Borden as co-editor of the Harold of Truth.

But something happened in Oklahoma City. K. C. Moser underwent a theological “conversion” that changed his life and in so doing alienated the very people who had worked to put him on this path, namely Foy & Cled Wallace, E. M. Borden, and C. R. Nichol (among others). The center of this change was the person and work of the Holy Spirit. This led to all the other reevaluations in Moser’s theological orientation.

Kenny Carl Moser began his life in what has been dubbed the “Texas Tradition” (TT) stream of the Churches of Christ. The TT is best represented by R. L. Whiteside though Austin McGary, Foy E. Wallace Jr. and C. R. Nichol are in this track as well. Moser was squarely in this camp. Moser grew up in Texas and attended Thorp Springs Christian College sitting at the feet of C. R. Nichol.

After being personally recommended to succeed Foy E. Wallace Jr (by Wallace himself!) as the pulpit minister at 10th and Francis, a large congregation in Oklahoma City, in 1923; and becoming co-editor of the Herald of Truth with the well know preacher E. M. Borden, Moser began a subtle shift. The key to this shift for Moser was how to produce spiritually healthy Christians/congregation.

Up to this time Moser denied the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit worked and dwelled in Christians through the Word. By 1926 Moser was convinced that not only he but the brotherhood (at least the TT) was gravely mistaken. He began a series articles in the Herald of Truth on Romans focusing on the Spirit. But midway through this series Herald of Truth ceased publication and was purchased by the Firm Foundation. Among Moser’s first articles in 1926 in the Firm Foundation was the polite suggestion that perhaps the New Testament actually meant what it said that the Holy Spirit really did dwell in the children of God.

Moser’s suggestion, however, did not go unnoticed. He was soon embroiled in controversy. First with F. L. Colley. Then W. T. Kidwell who had tangled with James A. Harding on the Holy Spirit in 1906 and 1907 in the journal The Christian Leader and the Way.

By 1930, Moser’s entire theology of the Spirit had undergone what can only be termed as a “revolution.” Moser came to believe that the holy and indwelling Presence of God in the believer was as plainly taught in the Scriptures as anything that could be taught. Moser began to seriously wonder why the brother (at least the TT) would deny the indwelling and active presence of the Spirit in the life of a Christian. As noted, the Spirit was not merely some inert like substance in the Christian but the unseen but very active power of God in the disciple. The Holy Spirit did things to the Christian. So why? How?

K. C. Moser’s answer was legalism.

E. M. Borden (1874-1951) was Moser’s co-editor of the Harold of Truth. Borden preached a famous sermon, “Jacob’s Ladder,” in Neosho, MO in 1913 that would be preached in a thousand versions across the brotherhood. It later served as the basis of Moser’s critique of preaching. Moser suggested that God placed a cross, not a ladder, on Golgotha.

To deny a teaching so fundamental and blatantly taught in the Scriptures forced Moser to examine the foundations of everything he had received. And though he became synonymous with the “Man vs the Plan” idea, it is the doctrine of the Spirit that was the engine that drove Moser.

Sadly, Moser reflects typical attitudes towards the Hebrew Bible. But we are all products of our time more than we may care to admit. He had his blind spots as I do mine.

What follows will be Ten quotations from Moser that have not appeared in print anywhere to my knowledge (except two – one that I shared with John Mark Hicks for his 2007 LCU lecture). I share them because they are in a book on Moser that continues to evolve.

The quotations are illuminating in and of themselves. Some are from his Bible, some from his journals and some from a series of sermons he did that I discovered and some from old published articles. Moser was well aware of the power of conformity demanded by a so called nondenominational group where the rhetoric of biblical authority stays but the genuine authority is what “we” have taught.

1) “Making an honest investigation of the Bible PRECLUDES ALSO A SECTARIAN SPIRIT … Some men do not speak their convictions but as tradition give them utterance, for fear of being put out of the synagogue.” (Gospel Advocate, 1932, Moser’s emphasis).

2) “The doctrine of the indwelling Spirit is sectarianism!’ This is one of the commonest objection I have heard. If that is sectarianism, then that part of sectarianism is true. We should seek the truth, not seek to be different from others. The objection itself is begotten of a sectarian spirit of the rankest type” (Previously unknown book of sermons, Six Gospel Sermons published in 1935 which sort of represents the earthquake that separated Moser from his former cohorts).

3) “The doctrine of the indwelling Spirit is almost universally accepted by all who profess the Christian religion. Only comparatively recently has it been denied. I know of no reputable commentator who does not teach the doctrine. Indeed it is inconceivable how one can interpret Scripture according to its context and not affirm the teaching of the indwelling of the Spirit in the Child of God … Let me suggest again that we ‘grieve not the Spirit’ by refusing to recognize his presence (Eph 4:30) … let us gratefully accept from God his seal of our sonship … and out of a consciousness of sweet fellowshinp [sic] and communion with God, cry ‘Abba, Father.'” (Six Gospel Sermons, 1935).

4) The period of 1923 to 1930 was one of intense wrestling with the Scripture for Moser. A legalistic framework is what made the denial of the Spirit possible. Christ himself is the forgotten Man. So in 1929, Moser wrote a personal study of Romans in his journal. (I included this in my lecture on Moser at ACU). He writes on pages 87 and 89, “Strangely enough and illogically, others look to ‘plans’ and ‘schemes.’ [sic] by which to be saved. much is written and said of a ‘plan of salvation.’ we are told Jesus died to give us a ‘plan of salvation.’ Just how much does the Bible say about a ‘Plan of Salvation.’ Is man’s Saviour a ‘plan’? What does the expression, ‘Plan of Salvation’ mean? If we are saved by a ‘plan,’ does this not make the ‘plan’ our Saviour? Is there LIFE [sic] in a ‘plan.’ … IT MAY BE A ‘HARD SAYING,’ BUT THE PLAN SYSTEM OF SALVATION WAS BORN OF A LEGALISTIC CONCEPTION OF CHRISTIANITY. [sic] Jesus himsl, [sic], God’s Son, Crucified for our sins is the only ‘plan of salvation’ possible, and he is never so designated.”

5) The Cross became, for Moser, not simply a fact among other facts. Rather the Cross is the a theological hermeneutic by which everything is to measured by and interpreted in Scripture. This fundamentally reshaped Moser’s approach to the Bible. He writes, “The great fundamental fact of Christianity is the death of Christ for man’s sins. This doctrine must be accepted as true, first of all. All other doctrine must be interpreted in the light of this fundamental fact if it is to be understood. Then if we are to find the principle of our salvation, we must start with the atonement.” (1930).

6) Moser came to, rightly, reject the notion that worship was reduced to “five acts.” I will provide a couple quotes under this number. Moser is the first person I have found among “us” that reinterprets John 4.24, correctly I might add, as a reference to the Holy Spirit rather than “sincerity.”

Church of Christ in Enid, Oklahoma where Moser served as minister from 1947 to 1950.

“True spiritual worship is the intense exercise of the soul. It might be called spiritual ectasy [sic] or rapture…Cold formalism is wholly incompatible with the spirit of worship. John said, ‘On the Lord’s day I found myself rapt in the Spirit’ (Rev. 1:10). Worship ‘in spirit’ involves the influence of the indwelling Spirit.” (World Vision 14.10 (Oct 1948), 12.

In an undated manuscript sermon Moser goes straight to the book of Revelation (an unusual hermeneutical step in his day) to teach Christian worship.

“No religious exercise is more common than what is termed WORSHIP. But what is called worship is not real spiritual adoration of God and of Christ. Worship is a word of very definite meaning. It means adoration, praise, profound reverence. Where these are lacking worship is impossible … But why do we worship God and Christ? The answer is easy: God and his Son should be worshipped [sic] because they are ‘worthy’ of worship [at this point KCM strings together quotations from Revelation 4.11; 5.9; 5.12; 5.13 then commenting on them he continues …] The impact of a spiritual understanding of the above scriptures is most impressive. Read them; study them; meditate upon them – and then worship God and Christ! … But God and his works must be ‘considered’ before one can be prepared for worship. To rush into ‘worship’ and ritualistically perform the DUTIES of singing, prayer and eating the Lord’s Supper is to make a mockery out of worship. Real worship is deep emotion, and many are afraid to manifest any feeling at all lest they be like someone else. But we are to strive to worship God, not to be unlike others! Real Spiritual [sic] worship is joyous, Spiritually [sic] stimulating, and edifying. Nothing can take its place.”

7) If the doctrine of the Cross is Moser’s theological hermeneutic then the book of Romans is his “canon within a canon.” Moser had a habit of buying small New Testament’s frequently on an annual basis and he would read thru them and scribble all over them. It is very enlightening to trace his commentary on various passages in successive years. The heading he wrote to Romans in his 1962, American Standard Version New Testament is …

“WARNING! Legalist, Stay Out!
(They do!) Enter at Your Own Risk.”

C. R. Nichol (1876-1961) wrote, with R. L. Whiteside, the important series of books, Sound Doctrine, vols 1-5. Moser had recommended volumes 1 and 2 prior to his reorientation.

8) In Moser’s Bible that he carried for many years (rebound in 1963 for 8 dollars!) He inscribed a note at the end of Galatians. The note is undated but has to be from around 1962 as he mentions a then current controversy in the Firm Foundation regarding the “Man vs the Plan” (inspired by Moser’s own booklet Christ vs The Plan published in 1952).

“Our so-called Restoration Movement is doomed to fail because it is based upon a legalist concept of Christianity. Many of the younger generation of preachers are ‘fed up’ on legalism. Right now the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Advocate are fighting for ‘the PLAN of Salvation’ as against God’s MAN of salvation. It is everywhere obvious that those who preach the “Plan” have little use for the Man, grace and faith.”

9) What is fellowship and how is it determined? After 35 years of being blacklisted, being anathematized by former friends and brethren (especially the Wallace’s), Moser was convinced something besides doctrinal conformity was at the root of genuine Christian fellowship. He writes on Saturday, March 31, 1962 in his journal …

“The principle of personal responsibility tries one’s soul. One naturally desires to BELONG. But with whom can one HONESTLY BELONG? Not with those who espouse principles that logically make void the cross of Christ. The mere claim to belonging to the ‘Church of Christ’ while at the same time preaching a doctrine that make his Cross only a means to an end, is a most superficial basis for recognition. There is such a thing as ‘Fellowship of faith.” With me, this is fundamental. I can have real fellowship with him who shares my trust in Christ as my sinoffering and in none other. If this means ‘excommunication” then I will have to learn to endure it. “Excommunication” by man is not so bad as divine displeasure.”

10) I finish with an appeal by Moser written in 1930 to his brethren to remember Jesus as the expression of God’s love. When we learn to “see Jesus” we have truly embraced Christianity.

“There is danger always of forgetting that it is Jesus, the personal Jesus, who is Savior … He died for Me! ‘Who loved me, and gave himself up for me!’ The thought is almost overwhelming. To think the Lord’s infinite love is personal!

“What an appeal to the sinner! What a drawing power! Sinner, go to the cross alone; stand beneath its shadow and behold the ‘lifted up Christ.’ Remember the shame of the cross. Behold the suffering, and believe it is for you! And as you stand looking up to the suffering and dying lamb of God repeat the words of Paul, ‘Who loved me and gave himself up for me!’ …

“But this appeal of the suffering and dying Saviour [sic] is not to the sinner alone. The Christian can never forget it. Just as he was drawn to God by the personal love of Christ, so by it he is kept close to him and faithful in his service. Paul never forgot God’s love toward him.”

Related Articles

K. C. Moser: Student of the Word

“POSTED – Legalists Stay Out!” K. C. Moser’s Journey with the Epistle to the Romans

Alone in the Spirit and His Word: Reading K. C. Moser’s Bible

C. R. Nichol’s God’s Woman: Gospel Advocate Writer Says Women can Pray and Teach … in Church!

Bad theology & Bad science are actually strange bed fellows.

Long experience has taught me this about the status of mankind with regard to matters requiring thought: the less people know and understand about them, the more positively they attempt to argue concerning them, while on the other hand to know and understand a multitude of things renders men cautious in passing judgment upon anything new.” (The Assayer, in Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, edited and translated by Stillman Drake, p. 256).

Janet Kellogg Ray is a faithful and devoted disciple of Jesus. She grew up in the Churches of Christ. She is also a PhD and professor of biology. She loves the Creator God. She loves talking about the wonder of God’s world.

She is also dismayed that Christians, especially white conservative Evangelical kind of Christians, have for a good bit of the 20th and 21st centuries devoted themselves to anti-science. This warlike relationship to science has dominated us during the Covid years. But, she points out, this has DNA that goes back a hundred years. She calls us to leave the culture wars and embrace good theology and good science.

The God of the Monkey Science” is a passionate call to be people who are committed to truth. She writes (you can order the book via the link. I do not make any money from this),

As Christians, we [note the “we”] are called to truth. Speaking it. Defending it. Living it. Why be afraid of science? If God is truth, all truth is God’s truth, including scientific truth” (p. 181).

The thread that runs through Ray’s book is the question of “How do we decide what is true?” (p.27).

We are grateful for Ray’s knowledge and ability to communicate and also to challenge misinformation.

Do we decide what is true based on what we “feel?” On what our uninformed “opinion” might be? Do we engage the actual evidence? Where do we get our information? Does our source actually have accurate information?

But Evangelical Christians, since the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of the 1920s have retreated from intellectual dialogue and declared a culture war upon science in most of its modern forms. The height of these culture wars are the anti-vaccine movement which white conservative Evangelicals are leaders in.

Reading “The God of Monkey Science” is a social history of the clash between white Evangelicals (even Fundamentalists) and science.

Why is it that Evangelicals will mock the Roman Catholic Church over the Galileo episode because they would not consider evidence (some would not look through the telescope) but we in our day refuse to read or try to understand the basic science on evolution, the Big Bang, climate change, etc. We are guilty of the exact same mistakes. When Evangelicals argue about science we almost always do so with two bad stakes:

– Bad (even atrocious) Theology (i.e. hermeneutics)

– Bad Science (a failure to understand even the basics)

Why do we embrace these? The answer is we often embrace both our theology and our science based upon political orientation rather than truth.

We end up making the Bible claim things it never did and we make science into something it never was. We Evangelical types are (sometimes) just the religious version of the rabid atheist Richard Dawkins (i.e. The God Delusion). His “hermeneutic” for the Bible is very similar to Fundamentalism. We create problems for ourselves where there is no need of them.

Why is it that Christians attack, rather than celebrate, Francis Collins. Collins is one of the most famous scientists in the world. Yet he is a dyed in the wool Evangelical Christian (he believes in an actual resurrection by Jesus folks!). Yet our “culture war” has vilified him and most have no idea that he is genuine dedicated Christian who sees and has seen his work as nothing but obedience to God.

Why is it that most white Evangelicals mock (that is the right word) climate science (yet watch the weather channel!) but have no idea that Katharine Hayhoe, one of the world’s leading climatologists is a “born again” Christian and married to a Pastor! (Here 17 minute TED talk is linked in her name). She believes, as scripture declares, “the world is his.” Her science is obedience to Jesus’s commands. Concerns for climate have been around longer than I have been alive. Did you know that in 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson received the “President’s Science Advisory Committee on Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” report and warned about the dangers almost four years before I was born. (You can read this over half century old report in the link).

Why do conservative Christians not literally celebrate Kizzmekia Corbett, a conservative Evangelcial Christian, the creator of the Covid 19 vaccine? Most have no clue. She understands her work as literal obedience to the command to love her neighbor as herself. (You can watch a 30 minute video discussion between Dr. Corbett and Dr. Francis Collins about Covid and the vaccines).

Christianity could be known as the leaven of God’s kingdom in the world. Working to better this world. There is nothing inherently conflicting between Christian faith and modern science. Bad theology and bad science – yes. But not Christian faith and science. I for one thank God for Francis Collins, Katharine Hayhoe, Kizzmekia Corbett and scientists like Janet Kellogg Ray herself.

For eleven years I preached at a congregation next to a major university. On any given Sunday there were half a dozen or more PhD’s listening. We had physicists like Dr. Don Huffman who had been nominated for the Nobel Prize. I loved listening to Dr Don wax eloquently on the Psalms, the Moon and physics. Neither he nor anyone else imagined there was a conflict between Christian faith and modern science. There isn’t.

The Church still has not learned what it should have learned from Galileo, who also did not believe there was a conflict between faith and science. Every minister, elder, deacon and everyone should read Galileo’s “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christiana” (1615) which led directly to his condemnation. The Bible is not about science and has no interest in such. Galileo wrote,

If the sacred scribes had any intention of teaching people certain arrangements and motions of the heavenly bodies, or had they wished us to derive such knowledge from the Bible, then in my opinion they would not have spoken of these matters so sparingly in comparison with the infinite number of admirable conclusions which are demonstrated by science” (in Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, translated by Stillman Drake, p. 184).

The intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes” (ibid, p. 186).

Galileo offered four hermeneutical principles four hundred years ago in his Letter that are still extremely helpful. Ray has in various ways alluded to them in “The God of Monkey Science.”

1) Principle of the Unity of Truth

2) Priority Principle

3) Pragmatic Principle

4) Principle of Scriptural Intention

I recommend Ray’s call to Evangelical Christianity to look into the mirror. I commend her call to ask ourselves “am I a person committed to truth?” Why would I automatically hold Francis Collins, Katharine Hayhoe, Kizzmekia Corbett or even Dr. Janet Kellogg Ray as suspect?

I further recommend Ray’s call for us to embrace the notion of mind of Christ. The “me-first” mentality that has descended upon America, and drunk to the dregs among Evangelicals, is the very antithesis of anything we find in the New Testament. We are here FOR the sake of the world.

Janet Kellogg Ray’s The God of Monkey Science is as easy to read as anything on ESPN. It is a book you should read and wrestle with. Read it with some friends and have discussions about it. Pull up the resources and read them.

And ask, why aren’t Francis Collins, Katharine Hayhoe and Kizzmekia Corbett celebrated heroes in your life and your church?

See Also

Some Looked & Couldn’t See: Galileo, ‘Seeing,’ and the Quest for Truth

Bobby, the Bible, Stars and Constellations

Wineskins. I cannot even write the title of that magazine without a smile crossing my face. I received our first copy, Volume One, Number One way back in May of 1992. I devoured each issue cover to cover. I would reread articles and often would make multiple copies of articles and hand them out to friends and even those who were not friends. As the years past I even contributed articles to it in its online version. I am grateful for the work Matt Dabbs did with Wineskins for a number of years. I wrote a piece in the magazine called God in the Rear View Mirror: My Adventure with Wineskins that you can read more (via the link) if you are interested. Matt did an interview with Rubel Shelly and Mike Cope that is about thirty-seven minutes long. It is a wonderful discussion and reflection not only on the beginnings of Wineskins but also the questions that we face today that are in many ways quite different than in 1992. Grab a Cup of Java and take in this discussion. Thank you to Matt for facilitating it and the I am grateful to both rich blessings from Mike and Rubel.

wine to cheer us up” (Ps 104.15, CEB)

Quotable Quote from J. J. M. Roberts

It was only years later that I learned that grape juice for communion was a liberal innovation associated with the temperance movement, and only possible late in the 19th century after the Methodist Welch had perfected the process to keep grape juice from fermenting. The expression ‘fruit of the vine’ was a Hebrew expression that meant ‘wine,’ since Passover with which the expression is connected, occurs in the early Spring before the grape harvest when no unfermented grape juice would have been available in antiquity. All the pseudo-learned attempts to remove real wine from Scripture were just really bad scholarship and special pleading based on a social agenda, not real exegesis.” (J. J. M. Roberts, well known Hebrew Scholar, Professor of Old Testament at Princeton and elder in the Churches of Christ, in Staying the Course: Fifteen Leaders Survey Their Past and Envision the Future of the Churches of Christ, edited by Thomas H. Olbricht & Gayle D. Crowe, p. 129).

Beginning Thoughts

Why do I talk about this someone asks? Well a couple of reasons. First, I was asked about it. Second, It does not have to do with “I can drink wine and there is nothing you can do about it.” It goes to something deeper than that.

Rather it has to do with our very conception of biblical faith. The biblical “god” is the Creator God. The creator of the “very good” creation (Genesis 1.1-2.4a). In Scripture, creation is not a tool that is somehow the opposite of evolution. Creation is filled with the God of Israel’s goodness, wisdom, glory, Hesed (Psalm 104). Creation is a “wonder,” it is the “work” of God’s hands. Creation, as such, glorifies the creator. Sun, Moon, stars at night, creatures on land and sea all praise the Creator God in Scriptures (Psalm 19; Psalm 148).

In the Bible, the Creator does not surrender what God has created to the ravages of sin. God redeems “creation.” Sometimes we American disciples misunderstand the word spiritual to mean the antithesis of matter or materiality or stuff in this created world.” But God loves the world (John 3.16).

“Spiritual” is not the opposite of “matter” in Scripture. It is in the pagan worldview of Platonism and Gnosticism however. So the human body, its functions, etc are often seen as the very opposite of “spiritual” by those who have an unbiblical understanding of “spirituality.” Food is “spiritual” however just as Paul states directly that the Israelites ate “spiritual food” in the desert (1 Cor 10). It is the gift of God. That God is the Good Creator is not simply a slap at Darwin (whom biblical writers never heard of). It is a statement that God is King, that God provides, that our world was created as good.

When we embrace the worldview of Scripture we do not surrender what our Creator has given to evil. What the Creator has done is received in joyful gratitude, like a child from a parent. When we denigrate creation we in turn denigrate resurrection. It is the physical materiality of the sacraments like the Supper with its bread and wine that have played such a massive role in Christian theology against dualism and Gnosticism. Gisela Kreglinger observes correctly,

Kreglinger explores the two thousand year history of wine in Christianity and its use in the Bible and Worship

The Judeo-Christian faith has always held that God not only created this good world but also chose to manifest his glory in it. He reveals himself in and through creation and not apart from it. Creation and its materiality are a gift of God. The Lord’s Supper is a defense against lingering Gnostic heresies with their strong tendency to devalue creation. Instead, it [the Lord’s Supper] firmly anchors our life of faith in creation, upholding that God meets us in physical matter and our embodied and communal lives … God sanctifies them and meets us in bread and wine.” (Gisela Kreglinger, The Spirituality of Wine, p. 67. See Gisela Kreglinger’s The Spirituality of Wine, chapters 2 and 3).

For a review Kreglinger see To Drink is to Pray: The Spirituality of Wine, A Review.

In Scripture wine is Spiritual. Food is Spiritual. Sexuality is Spiritual.

The Bible refuses to surrender sex to abusers like Hugh Hefner or Larry Flynt. Song of Songs rescues sexuality from them. The Song actually does more than rescue sex, it is a full blown celebration of it as God intended it to be.

The Bible refuses to surrender food to the gluttons like the citizens of Sodom (Ezk 16.49). Jesus’s kingdom parables rescue feasting from the gluttons. Food is not only rescued from the gluttons but the Kingdom celebrates feasting in the very presence of God. Feasting, btw, involves occasional overeating! But occasional feasting is not gluttony (let that sink in).

The Bible also refuses to surrender wine to Bacchus and drunks (habitual over-drinkers). Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, the Song of Songs and Cana rescues wine from the pagans and abusers. Wine is not merely rescued from abuse but becomes the celebratory symbol of the renewal of creation through the Kingdom itself.

Joy is an essential mark of Christianity. When C. S. Lewis recounts his journey from atheism to Christianity he called it being Surprised by Joy.

God created taste buds!
God created pleasure in sex.
God created wine.

McGovern, archeologist and one of the world’s leading experts on ancient wine, has fascinating work on wine in the Ancient Near East, including Israel.

The Bible never once condemns food. There is plenty of feasting in the Bible. But it does condemn gluttony.

The Bible never once condemns sex. It does not even condemn pleasure in sex. It does not condemn the joy of sex. It encourages it. But it condemn fornication and adultery.

The Bible never once condemns wine/beer/alcohol. It does not even condemn the enjoyment of wine. It explicitly – in so many words – declares it to be the creation of the Good God for the enjoyment of human beings (Ps 104.14-15; the whole psalm is about the gifts of God to creation. Sirach 31.25-31 brings the joy and abuse of this gift together in one passage.) But it does condemn its misuse.

Watch how all three: food, wine and sex are brought together in Song of Songs …

5.1, “I come to my garden, my sister my bride;
I gather my myrrh with my spice,
I eat my honeycomb with my honey
I DRINK MY WINE with my milk

Then the text uses two imperatives:

EAT, DRINK, friends and be DRUNK with love

This text in 5.1 is a direct and explicit comparison of the intoxication of wine and the intoxication of sexual love. And for the critic’s sake, note how Food, Sex and Wine all are in this verse and celebrated.

Celebrated. Celebrated. Celebrated. The Spirit guided author of Song of Songs is hardly embarrassed by the celebration of food, wine or sex. They are inherently good.

It is pagan Platonism to deny the good that God made. So the biblical position is:

Food is Gift from God. Gluttony is abuse of gift and sin.

Sex is Gift from God. Fornication is abuse of gift and sin.

Wine is Gift from God. Drunkenness is abuse of gift and sin.

There are 88 different words in the Hebrew Bible for wine and vintage used a total of 810x. There are 36 different words used in the Greek NT for wine for a total of 169x. Wine is not rare in the Bible. Indeed Palestine was awash in wine.

Seven Uses of Wine in Scripture

Here are a seven different categories where we find the use of wine or alcoholic beverages in the Bible. They are not exhaustive nor are the references. I have just cited representative texts.

1) Worship and Wine

In the Bible, these (Food, Sex, Wine) are inherently good. Thus we see wine and other intoxicating drinks were used in the worship of God being poured over sacrificial offerings on the altar as drink offerings.

Then you can use the money for anything you want: cattle, sheep, wine, beer, or whatever else you might like. Then you should feast there and celebrate in the presence of the Lord your God, along with your entire household.” (Deuteronomy 14.26, CEB).

Look up the following references, Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:5,7,10 18:12; 28:7,14; Deuteronomy 18:4; 1 Samuel 1:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5; Ezra 6:9; 7:22; Nehemiah 5:11; 10:37,39; 13:12. And the ministers were even paid with wine. The Levites received wine for themselves from the tithes given by the worshipers (Numbers 18:30).

2) Song of Songs & Wine (Why is it we never study this book??)

We already referenced the Song above. In the Song these things (Food, Wine & Sexuality) are celebrated extensively. For example …

Song of Songs 1.2 “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!For/because your LOVE is better than WINE

For this comparison to have any validity, the wine not only has to be some pretty potent stuff but also morally desirable otherwise the metaphor does not work. See 1.4; 4.10; 5.1f; 7.2; 7.9; 8.2 … Again for example:

Song of Songs 7.9 “your kisses, like the finest wine goes down smoothly, gliding over the lips and teeth

This is pure celebration by the Spirit guided author. Kissing is good. Kissing is enjoyable. Kissing is exciting … it even more enjoyable than wine! For this image to have any legitimacy the WINE has to be potent stuff. No one compares kissing and sex to kool-aid!!

There is not the slightest hint of embarrassment here by the biblical author. There is not the slightest suggestion that God is displeased. In fact it may be an insult to God according to the Song to imply such a thing. These are pure gift of divine grace to humanity.

3) Wine, the Creation of God (and Christ, if we believe what Col 1 and Heb 1 teach) for Cheer

You [God] cause the grass to grwo for the cattle
and plants for people to use,
to bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the human heart
” (Ps 104.14-15)

4) Food, Wine & Sex God’s Gifts

We have touched on this but it bears stressing for there is such deep seated neo-platonic, even neo-gnostic, roots to so much modern American Christianity.

[I]t is God’s GIFT that all should eat and DRINK and take PLEASURE in all their toil” (Ecc 3.13, see 2.24)

Go, eat your bread [food = gift] with enjoyment,
drink your WINE with a merry heart [wine = gift]

Enjoy life with your wife whom you love [intimacy/love = gift]” (Ecclesiastes 9.7-9)

Feasts [food & intimacy] are for laughter [joy/pleasure];
wine gladdens life
…” (Ecc 10.19).

Old Testament scholar, Heskett teamed up with wine historian Butler to follow the “trail” of wine from “creation” to today by looking at the ancient world of wine to today’s in Israel and the Mediterranean.

5) Wine as a Reward from God

Wine is stated, explicitly, to be a reward or blessing from God for faithfulness and obedience to his covenant.

If you heed these ordinances, by diligently observing them, the LORD your God will maintain with you the covenant of love … he will love you, bless you … [with] grain, WINE …” (Deut 7.12-13; see 11.14 and 33.28 among many other places)

Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the first fruits of all your crops;
THEN your barns will be filled to overflowing,
AND your vats will brim with new wine

(Proverbs 3.9-10)

Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn out seven pillars.
She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; . . .
Let all who are simple come in here!’
she says to those who lack judgment.
‘Come, eat my food and drink my wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of understanding
(Proverbs 9.1-5).

6) The Sin of Drunkenness is Placed with the SIN OF OVEREATING

Is it not interesting that preachers (and “ordinary” Christians) will castigate having a beer as sin while they have giant steaks at the Outback! But the Bible puts drunkenness with over eating. Food is not condemned. Gluttony is. Drinking even with joy is not condemned. Drunkenness is. The inspired text says,

Do not be among the winebibbers,
or among the GLUTTONOUS eaters of meat;
For the drunkard and the glutton will
come to poverty, and drowsiness
will clothe them with rags

(Proverbs 23.20-21)

7) Wine, Did God Command Sin?

So we saw above that the Bible commands the use of wine in worship in at least a dozen texts (yes a dozen!). This wine is consumed. So the question to be posed by is “Did God command sin?

This is crystal clear in Deuteronomy 14 and numerous other texts. Deuteronomy says in conjunction with the first fruits for when people live a ways away from Jerusalem.

buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, WINE or OTHER FERMENTED DRINK, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.” (Deut. 14.26, NIV).

Not only is wine confirmed to be fermented in this text but the Torah says get wine or “OTHER fermented drink” or “Beer” and then come worship in the Lord’s presence.

The Bible Position is … Sustained by Vast Amounts of Scripture

Food is Gift from God. Gluttony is abuse of gift and sin.

Sex is Gift from God. Fornication is abuse of gift and sin.

Wine is Gift from God. Drunkenness is abuse of gift and sin.

C. S. Lewis speaking and writing in the 1940s gave a small protest to the abuse of the word “temperance.” In Mere Christianity, he notes a significant difference between Islam and Christianity (and Judaism) is that it is Islam not biblical faith that is a “tee-totaler” religion. The American Temperance Movement used the word incorrectly.

Temperance is, unfortunately, one of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism… [But in the past,] temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further. It is a mistake to think that Christians ought all to be teetotalers; Mohammedanism, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion.” (Mere Christianity, p.

We are supposed to enjoy the gifts of grace God has made. We are called to receive with thanksgiving and gratitude which, by their nature, exclude the abuse of God’s gifts.

Food for feasting and fellowship.

Sex is for enjoyment with our wives.

Wine with our friends, family and even in the presence of God.

Recommended Resources

Many false claims are made by religious people about wine both in and out of the Bible. Whatever one’s personal preferences may be our views should be founded upon real information. To have a grounded view of Christianity’s views on wine and a view that is historically accurate I cannot recommend the three works enough.

Giesela H. Kreglinger, The Spirituality of Wine (required reading)

Patrick E. McGovern, Ancient Wine, The Search for the Origins of Vineculture

Randall Heskett & Joel Butler, Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Age

I make no money by recommending these books. All three are great reads but I recommend Kreglinger and then McGovern first.

Can Borrow Your mind and heart for a Few Minutes?

I write about the Jewish/Hebraic roots of The Way frequently. It is nearly impossible to have an accurate understanding of the NT and the Way apart from the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism. It is necessary to say that “Christianity is Jewish.” I condemn all forms of anti-Semiticism theologically, politically, and any other way. I am not a “supersessionist” (at least not a classical one). Know that as you begin reading what follows.

U2, the rock band, performed in “The Sphere” in Las Vegas on Sunday. They opened their show with, and dedicated their great song, “Pride, in the Name of Love” (see link) to the victims massacred at Saturday’s music festival in Israel. I weep for them for every Israeli that has experienced this horror. I understand that emotions run deep … high!

I unequivocally condemn as not only crimes against humanity, but barbaric, Hamas’ unbridled attacks upon civilians in the State of Israel. The civilized world community should soundly condemn this and the criminals held accountable.

Is it possible to be HORRIFIED and PISSED OFF (yes that is the right word) over the terrorism of Hamas on Saturday and not succumb to the same barbarism?

Is it possible to see that Palestinians are my brothers as much as Jews in Israel?

Is it possible to grasp that the State of Israel, in the name of security, has in fact perpetuated crimes against the Palestinians?

Is it possible to condemn what Hamas has done and recognize that the reality of how Palestinians live on a daily basis? Is it possible to recognize that more Palestinians are my brothers and sisters in Jesus than Jews in Israel? Is it possible to think rather than just react emotionally?

Does Truth, Justice, Love and Shalom play any role in how we look at the State of Israel (and the Palestinians too)?

Is it possible?

For a Christian it should not only be possible but a way of life. Hate begets hate. Violence will not stop the cycle of violence. Love will. Grace will.

I am a person who believes that biblical theology should determine how Christians live and think about everything in life. That means biblical theology should shape my views (and thus actions) on race, justice, mercy, war, money, sex, and that contentious area of life called “politics.”

I do not expect that non-believers in King Jesus will hold to my views nor why I hold them. What I do expect is that my own views, and the reasons I hold them, will express my allegiance to biblical theology and the kingdom of God. The Greatest Commands of Love God and Love my Neighbor do not change when bad things happen. Jesus made this abundantly clear in the Sermon on the Mount, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5.44).

That includes the State of Israel AND the Palestinians. Christians are committed to Love, Justice and Shalom.

When my friends post memes that declare “I Stand with Israel,” I ask what does that mean?

Does this mean the State of Israel is beyond criticism or accountability? If we imagine it is beyond the pale to criticize “Israel” then we have never read Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Ezekiel or any of the Prophets.

Is it heresy to say that the treatment of human beings falls extremely short of justice? The Gaza Strip is only a third of the size of Contra Costa County (140 sq miles vs 716 sq miles. Or another way is the Gaza Strip is about 3x the land area of San Francisco!!). It is run like a small reservation in 19th century USA.

For a Christian, numerous questions SHOULD BE ASKED. For example, What do you mean by “Israel?”

According to the Bible, the people of God are Israel. The physical descendants of Abraham include both Jews and Arabs (biblically speaking. I was thankful for the Abraham Accords). And in the New Testament, Gentiles who place their faith in the Messiah are made part of Israel (Acts 15.13-18; Galatians 3.27-29; Ephesians 2.11-3.6).

Israel is, in a sense, all nations in one just as Adam is all humanity in one. In the New Testament the “land promise,” is not the “holy land” but the whole redeemed earth which God’s People will share with the Messiah at the end of the age (Romans 4.13; cf. Sirach 44.21). The land of Israel, just as the people represent ALL humanity, represents the whole of creation. There is no specific spot that is “the” holy land any more.

Stepping back just a bit. When we look in the Hebrew Bible, the gift of the land was just that – a grace, NOT A RIGHT, much less a divine right. In fact in the “Old Testament” Israel (the people of God) never “own” the land. Israel was by definition “aliens and tenants.” “The land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants” (Leviticus 25.23). Israel, and no Israelite, never owned “the land.” The land belongs to God.

It is God’s land. The whole world is God’s and everything in it. Israel in the Hebrew Bible was NOT allowed to do just whatever she wanted in God’s land. Israelites lived in the land by grace, not by right. If you read the Hebrew Bible, even poorly, it is hard to miss the fact that God tossed the Israelites out of the land for the same reasons he did the Canaanites. First was the Assyrian exile. Then there was the Babylonian exile.

God does not play favorites, even with “Israel” in the Hebrew Bible (take the time to read Amos 1 and 2).

Israel (the people of God) was commanded to treat aliens (those had to be Canaanites, Edomites, Egyptians, etc) humanely and as if they were Israelites themselves. Israel was to be faithful to the Covenant of Love with devotion to Yahweh and to love Yahweh by loving the poor and the aliens (Deuteronomy 10.12-22).

Israel, in the Hebrew Bible, was to always remember she existed by the grace of God and to treat others based on the memory that she had been oppressed herself. This is fundamental to the Sabbath day itself (Deuteronomy 5.12-15). Israel cannot become a new Egypt and Pharaoh toward others. If they do they will reap what Pharaoh did.

When I say, “I stand with Israel,” I mean that I stand with all those who (Jew and Gentile, red and yellow, black and white, male and female) who have placed their faith in the Messiah of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth. Paul calls this the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6.16). The Israel of God exists among all the nations of the world as a witness to the true King of all Creation. The Church did not “replace” Israel of the Hebrew Bible, rather the “church” is the renewal of the same People of God that includes the nations that are blessed through the Covenant of Abraham the reaches its zenith in Jesus the Messiah.

The State of Israel that was formed in 1948 is NOT equivalent to biblical Israel and we (who believe the Bible) need to be very careful. If the State of Israel embraces the terrorist tactics of Hamas they are no better. And Hamas is not all Palestinians (and the non-Hamas Palestinians may in fact in some way support them just as Arizona Apaches may have supported Geronimo in the 1880s.).

Now, at the same time we must avoid (at all costs) anti-Semiticism. They are not “Christ killers” and the other horrific stereotypes Christians have painted them with. It is a sad fact of history that European Christians have systematically killed more Jews than Muslims ever did.

God still is not done with Jews as I understand Paul in Romans 9-11. Christianity and Judaism have a great deal in common and it is hard to understand Christian faith accurately without the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish womb in which Christian faith was born and grew for hundreds of years.

However, the State of Israel is not biblical Israel (I am biblically a citizen of Israel). I DO believe the Jewish state has a right to exist.

But the State of Israel is not free to treat Palestinians the way the United States did Native Americans (sometimes called “Indians”). In fact the Palestinians have a right to self-government as much as the Israelis.

The historical problem – the conflict – in the middle east does not go back 3000 years. That is a huge misnomer though frequently claimed, especially by Evangelical Christians. Jews and Arabs (and other ethnic groups) have lived in “the land” for centuries upon centuries.

During Roman times.
During Byzantine times.
After the Islamic conquest.
During the Ottoman Empire.

Jews continued to live and thrive not only in “the land” but also in Egypt and Mesopotamia (both of which had larger Jewish populations than “the land”). More Jews died at the hands of Christian Crusaders than they did at the hands of Muslims (we have a way of conveniently forgetting/denying facts).

The roots of the modern conflict are found in the late 19th century. And it mushroomed largely because of the British and World War I. During that Great War, large areas of the former Ottoman Empire became part of European nations like England and France. In 1917, the British Balfour Declaration decreed that Palestine would be the home for European Jews. But in 1917, the vast majority of the population of Palestine was Arab, with a Jewish minority. They did not live in a state of war. Europe was in fact far more hostile to Jews than the Middle East of the time.

I do not fault hundreds of thousands, even millions, of Jews emigrating to “the land.” They were hunted down and treated in savage ways by Europeans, not just Hitler. In many ways the Balfour Declaration was simply a convenient way of dealing with the “Jewish problem” in for England.

But what do you do when the land is already occupied? Do you do what the Americans did to the “Indians?” Do you do to the Palestinians what the Germans did to the Jews of Warsaw and create a Ghetto (Gaza is basically that Ghetto). Do you just take it?

This is the root of the conflict. The State of Israel has done, in many instances, to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews in Warsaw or the Americans have done to the Native Americans … with the same results. Bloody conflict.

One little aside here that North American Christians often either do not know, or don’t care to know. Thousands of Palestinians are not Muslim but Christians. Now the majority are Muslim but many are not.

Prejudice is a horrid evil and warps our brains and causes us to sanction atrocities in the name of supposed freedom and security.

The issue of the State of Israel and Palestine is exceedingly complex. I have no simple solution. It is the result of European chauvinism and is not inherit in either Scripture nor the Quran. American Christian views toward the State of Israel are formed by atrocious theology (dispensational premillennialism and a failure to understand just what biblical Israel means).

We are not called to simply give the State of Israel a blank check to do what it pleases. It has a right to defend itself but Palestinians also have a right to basic dignity and human rights.

So I stand with Israel, the biblical Israel which is the people of God who have faith in the Messiah Jesus – which includes Palestinians who are my brothers and sisters as well as Jewish believers in the Messiah.

I stand with the State of Israel in saying it has a right to exist. She has a right to defend herself in legitimate ways. But it does not have a right to become Pharaoh.

I stand with the Palestinians who at the moment often live in the Gaza Strip in ways not far removed from the ancient Israelites in Pharaoh’s Egypt. Such is wrong and we need to say so.

Our job, as the Israel of God (Galatians 6.16), is to bear witness against injustice and oppression even if it is against the Palestinians, just as the prophets Isaiah, Amos, Micah, and Jeremiah dared to speak against the Israel of God when she oppressed the poor and the aliens in “the land.”

I want to recommend a small book by New Testament scholar, Gary Burge called

Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to ‘Holy Land’ Theology.

It is fantastic. I reviewed it way back in 2014 here on my wall. I will place a link in the comments. It is very readable and is sound theology. Also a book that has been extremely helpful though it is older now,

Barbara Tuchman’s The Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour … an eye opening book.

I do pray for Shalom of God to cover the entire land of Israel, including the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Iran, Egypt, and the whole world. Loving our Enemy is Hard Work.

Seeking Shalom

ESAU McCAULLEY: How Far to the Promised Land (Convergent 2023)

This is an engrossing, honest, hopeful, nuanced, and even loving story of one man growing up black in North Alabama. Prior to this I had read three McCaulley books: Sharing in the Son’s Inheritance; Reading While Black; and his children’s book Josey Johnson’s Hair and the Holy Spirit, and numerous articles by him. McCaulley did his PhD under N. T. Wright and is just a great biblical scholar. I got to meet Dr. McCaulley and here part of his story at Harbor: The Pepperdine Bible Lectures back in May. I confess I got my picture with him 🙂

But this book is not a work of biblical scholarship. It is an introspective look at one’s own life and heritage through the eyes of faith, hope and love. It is a faith that has been shaped by a specific historical and social context that is familiar with suffering and alienation. The book is framed by the story of McCaulley’s drug addict father’s death. It is the story of victory in the midst of poverty – the working poor. It is the story of discovering God in places and in people that only faith can see.

On this journey we learn of Sophia’s Gift (a great grandmother born in 1901). We learn of the tenacity of a black mother to provide for her children. We learn heartbreak and we learn grace. We learn how McCaulley accidentally fell in love with a person he did not intend to, a white woman. We learn how her family (especially her father) rejected her for years after they were married.

This book spoke to me on so many levels. I am from Florence, just a short distance away from Huntsville. I know where University Blvd is; I’ve hung out at Madison Square Mall; I know Johnson High; and so many other places mentioned. I grew up in a working poor household but I did not grow up in a black one.

On another level the story is completely alien to me. The amount of violence that just seems to be “normal.” The normal interactions with the police. The routine loss of life.

Pepperdine University May 2023

Mingled through the entire narrative is the thread of resurrection hope. The word “resurrection” is only mentioned once as I recall in telling the story of the funeral. But it is that key in McCaulley’s heart that just may be the scarlet thread through the whole book. Something like life comes OUT OF the hopelessness of death. The death of a father, the death of friends, the death of relationships, the death hope … to resurrection.

The book is a breeze to read. There are places of genuine humor. There are moments of deep reflection on life. There are places where I stopped and just said, “that is profound.” It opens a beautiful widow in the life of an ordinary black family in heart of the South not just in the 1930s or 1950s but the 1980s and later. I want to compare this book to Ta -Nehisi Coats (Between the World and Me) which is a deep book. But perhaps it is closer to some Frederick Douglass, John Perkins, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cornel West. “There is no black faith that doesn’t wrestle with the problem of evil.” This book is shaped by a profound faith that has been formed in the crucible of suffering, pain and even evil and yet believes in HOPE of Resurrection.

It is my prayer that millions of white Americans (including millions of Evangelical Christians) will read and reflect on this gift of a book. At 209 pages it is a great read. Get it for yourself, for your elders, preacher, your family.

Related Interest

A Southern Heritage to be Proud of …

Racial Concerns in Churches of Christ: Trends Since the King Years, 1950-2000

You Sound Like a Racist, An Autobiographical Moment

Stories of Grace, Stories of Forgiveness: Frederick Douglass Affirms the Humanity of a Slaveholder

Spencer Perkins and the Prolife Credibility Gap

Noon was an “hour of prayer”

What Did Luke Say? Acts 8.26: Does Philip “head south” or does he “set out at noon?”

Many English translations read essentially, “the angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Get up and go toward the south ...” (NIV, etc).

What does μεσημβρίαν mean? The term occurs one other place in Acts, chapter 22.6.

About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.”

In this Lukan text we have another supernatural encounter, Saul encounters the voice and blinding light at noon. Throughout the Septuagint the term μεσημβρίαν means “midday” or noon” with the exception of two places in Daniel.

If you read Acts 8.26 in the Jerusalem Bible or New Jerusalem Bible we read, “the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Be ready to set out at NOON ...”

And if you read in the NRSV or the ESV there will be a footnote that suggests, “or at noon.”

And if we go to BDAG (Baur-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich) 3rd edition, p.634 we read that the suggested reading is “noon” as is typical of the word. For the sake of full disclosure BDAG gives a secondary meaning as “south” and Acts 8.26 is the only suggested possible example of that. But the primary suggestion is “noon.”

Quite a few scholars argue for “south” though. I have come to the conclusion that it should be “noon.” There are a few reasons for this. I think it fits nicely with Luke’s surprising interest in “all things Jewish” (and Luke does have a major interest in Jewish “stuff.”

1) that is the normal idea of the word and frankly there is nothing in Acts 8 to demand any other reading.

2) the hours of prayer seem to be significant to Luke. The hour/s of prayer are 9, Noon, and 3. The morning and evening hours coincide with sacrifice. The Gospel of Luke begins with Zechariah offering sacrifice at the morning offering, and an angel shows up (Lk 1.8-20).

Jesus is crucified and dies at the hour of prayer in Luke 23.44. Luke notes it was “dark” at “noon” (23.44, More supernatural stuff).

The Way keeps the hours of prayer (Acts 2.42). A man is healed/saved at the “hour of prayer” (3 pm) in Acts 3.1-9.

Cornelius is praying and visited by an angel at noon (hour of prayer) in Acts 10.3,30. More supernatural stuff. Peter, likewise, was praying at exactly the hour of prayer (noon) when he fell into a supernatural “trance” and had a vision from God.

In the book of Judith, the heroine who God uses to deliver the people of Israel is at prayer at hour of prayer/sacrifice (Judith 9.1f). In Jewish tradition “strange things” can happen at the hour of prayer, thus Daniel is praying at the hour of prayer/sacrifice and low and behold … Gabriel shows up just as he did to Zechariah at the beginning of Luke’s story (cf. Daniel 9.21).

All of these “coincidences” that Luke narrates (and in well known Jewish tradition) seems to me to suggest that Acts 8.26 is not simply giving ancient MapQuest directions. Rather Luke is yet again saying God acted decisively at the hour of prayer for the salvation of a person historically excluded. Angels, visions, and one might even encounter Jesus himself as Paul did at “noon” in 22.6. And though Luke does not give a time stamp, Paul was in the temple “in prayer” when he (like Peter) fell into a “trance and saw Jesus” (22.17).

At any rate, I think the footnote is right in the NRSV/ESV and the text is correct in the Jerusalem Bible and New Jerusalem Bible.

The angel of the Lord appeared and told Philip to be ready at the hour of prayer for an act of God.

Related Articles

They Continued Steadfastly … THE Prayers: What does Luke say the Disciples are Doing in Acts 2.42?

Aroma of Incense: Shadow of the Temple in Luke’s Jewish Story of Jesus and the Way

Indiana Jones, Temples of the Jews & Acts: Who Did Philip talk to? Exegetical Notes on Acts 8.37 and Why History Matters

25 Sep 2023

Faith Is the History of Israel, Hebrews 11

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Faith, Grace, Habakkuk, Hebrews

It is not uncommon, nor difficult to find, disparaging remarks about the character of the Hebrew Bible among those claiming to be Christian. The “Old Testament” is devoid of heart religions. The Hebrew Bible is fleshy rather than “spiritual” we find claimed. The “Old Testament” is about works righteousness we hear proclaimed. The “Old Covenant” is not about grace nor faith it is asserted. These assertions (again hardly rare) are based upon caricature and typically a deep ignorance of the Hebrew Scriptures. In addition they are rooted in fundamental misunderstandings of passages in the “New Testament.” The New Testament makes none of these claims. In fact it explicitly contradicts all of them. At root most of these caricatures are, in fact, not rooted in either Testament but centuries and centuries of anti-Semiticism.

The Epistle to the Hebrews is often near the center of such misguided claims about 76% of God’s Word. This is fascinating because Hebrews 11 is one of the most famous chapter in the Bible. But for all its fame we sometimes may not get all that is going on.

Framing Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11, like all the Sermon, is drenched in Jewishness. There are those who imagine Hebrews drives a wedge between the Hebrew Scriptures and “Today” find little support from the text itself.

The Sermonator tells/presents this portion of his sermon in a traditionally Jewish manner. Jewish traditions abound in Hebrews 11. The Sermonator simply assumes both the validity of the Story and his listeners knowledge and acceptance of that Story. That is they know the biblical story. The biblical story presented in Hebrews 11 is in fact the history of Israel. The history of Israel is, despite its ups and downs, the history of faith. That history as a whole is the counterbalance to the lack of genuine faith by the Wilderness generation (cf. Hebrews 3-4).

It is surprising, given common assumptions, that no “New Testament” personality is even on the radar screen in Hebrews 11. There is no Paul. No Phoebe. No Timothy. No Peter. There is rather a catalog of Israelites, Jews!

The Sermonator models his list/Story of Israel in the way Ben Sira did in his book we call Sirach, chapters 44-50. That is the basic frame for chapter 11. Hebrews 11 could be seen as a “Cliff Notes” version of Sirach 44-50. Ben Sira “reduces” the entire history of Israel to names (as in Hebrews 11) and reports what the God of Israel did through these names and how these names (Enoch, Abraham, David, etc) were faithful to God in their own times and circumstances. The the very manner of preaching and teaching in Hebrews is that of traditional Second Temple Judaism.

But he assumes they know stuff many north American readers will not know (for a myriad of reasons). He alludes to material that would be known to first century readers of the Greek Septuagint (the Bible he quotes). For example, “who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames” (11.33-34). Here we have a reference to Daniel in the “lions den” but also the story of Azariah and his companions tossed in the fiery furnace as told in the Septuagint. The Greek version of Daniel records a long story and prayer (of Azariah and companions). This prayer is located between 3.23 and 3.24 of the version of Daniel in modern Protestant versions. In fact we have a virtual quotation from the Greek Daniel. In the LXX there are 68 verses between 3.23 and 3.24. It says in part,

Now the king’s servants who threw them in kept stoking the furnace with napththa, pitch, tow, and brushwood. And the flames poured out above the furnace forty-nine cubits, and spread out and burned those Chaldeans who were caught near the furnace. But the angel of the Lord came down into the furnace to be with Azariah and his companions, and drove/quench the fiery flame out of the furnace . . .” (Azariah vv. 23-26, NRSV)

Women receiving back their dead and hiding in caves, every Jew knows these stories. And the Sermonator commends them. These are the Maccabees. Second Maccabees 7, and the entire book of 4 Maccabees, celebrates these heroes of faith who were literally ripped apart but firmly believed in the resurrection. I will not quote it because it is long. However, we can refer to the hiding in caves at the beginning of the Maccabean period.

But Judas Maccabeus, with about nine others, got away to the wilderness, and kept himself and his companions alive in the mountains as wild animals do; they continued to live on what grew wild, so they might not share in defilement” (2 Macc 5.27)

Others who had assembled in the caves nearby, in order to observe the seventh day secretly, were betrayed to Philip and were all burned together, because their piety kept them from defending themselves in view of their regard for that most holy day.” (2 Macc 6.11)

“during the festival of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals” (2 Macc 10.6).

Many more examples can be provided. The Hebrews Preacher believed these heroes were worthy of note. In fact were not only stories of incredible bravery, but faith rarely found on earth. Far from disparaging Israelite faith, the Hebrew Preacher is exuberant in praise, “the world was not worthy” of them (11.38). When the Hebrews Sermonator read the history of the “Old Testament” and even Second Temple Judaism rather than the derision found in many “Christian” caricatures, he was in reverent awe! It makes me wonder if we have ever “heard” Hebrews at all.

The story alluded to in 11.17-19 is called “The Akedah or “The Binding” [of Isaac]. The story of course can be found in Genesis but it populates Jewish literature before the time of Hebrews in powerful ways. It is discussed in the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Jubilees, and in 4 Maccabees among other places. It remains to this day an important part of Jewish liturgy.

Hebrews 11 makes more sense when we have this information. These examples are illustrative and not exhaustive. This, I want to stress, was not specialized information in the first century but rather common knowledge to virtually everyone in the first century. The stories and the texts just mentioned were well known.

History of Faith

But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.

(Habakkuk 2.4, LXX quoted in Hebrews 10.38)

Quite literally at the head of the “Hall of Fame of Faith,” the Sermonator quotes his Hebrew Bible in the Greek Septuagint. He quotes Habakkuk 2.4, the same text Paul also quotes (Galatians 3.11; Romans 1.17) to prove just the opposite the claims of those in the opening of this blog. Living by faith is the essence of covenant God has with Israel that the Preacher is saying is being renewed through the Priest-King Jesus. (On Habakkuk see Struggling for Faith: Thoughts on Habakkuk).

FAITH. Hebrews 11 puts to bed the common notion that people in the so called “Old Testament” did not live by faith. The entire history of Israel, whom the author calls “the people of God” (v.25) and the shorter form “the people” (v.29). The phrase in the long form and short form is very powerful descriptor of Israel that frequents the LXX. It is another way of referring to “God’s house” (3.2,5,6).

Abraham and Moses dominate the history of faith in Hebrews 11. God is “not ashamed” to be known as “their God” (v.16), that is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or the God of Israel. Moses is a model of faith. The Exodus and Passover are both prominently matters of faith (11.28, 29). Moses, the Sermonator has already informed us, that Moses was “faithful in all God’s house” (3.2,5). The sermon compares Jesus to Moses. This is a huge point often overlooked. “He [Jesus] was faithful to the one who appointed him, JUST AS Moses was faithful in all God’s house” (3.2). Jesus is worthy of more honor than Moses (v.3) but the Sermonator does not minimize Moses in order to exalt Jesus. His rhetorical strategy is that more great things you can imagine for Moses the more you can for Jesus. Jesus is exalted by his comparison to Moses. There is not an ounce of polemic against Moses.

These heroes of the Hebrew Bible (and the Maccabees in the Greek Bible/LXX) are in the same “house” as we are. But they have been waiting in faith to be made “perfect.” Their God, has not made them “perfect” apart from us (vv. 39-40). The people of faith will reach the destination together.

Hebrews as a whole, and Hebrews 11 in particular, puts needed brakes on many caricatures that are perpetuated about Israel and the Hebrew Scriptures. The Sermonator knows his Bible better than many do today. Despite the fact that “first covenant” [Mosaic one] was broken (8.7), the Sermonator still insists that the basic history of Israel is that of Faith and Grace. In fact, their faith is exactly the same as our faith.

Further, the Sermonator claims there is faith even in places we might not see it. Samson? Jephthah? They, in the story pale in comparison to Moses, but the Sermonator claims they are in the story of faith. Our faith.

The next model of faith, after chapter 11 closes, is that of Jesus himself (who as we recall from chapter 3 is compared to Moses). Here Moses will lead deliver “the people” from the Destroyer and Jesus will lead us to the city of God (12.2ff). But it is remarkable no apostles, no Mary, etc. It is the history of Israel in Hebrews 11.

What a great chapter in the Sermon to the Hebrews. It shows us the single great story of faith in the story of the Bible. The Preacher in Hebrews, far from imagining his congregation as falling away, considers them as part of the great victorious story of faith. “[W]e are not among those who shrink back and so are lost but among those who have faith and so are saved” (10.39, NIV, etc).

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21 Sep 2023

Do We Love Justice? A Journey in the Psalms

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: American Empire, Discipleship, Kingdom, Mission, Psalms

Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 16.20, NRSV).

“Justice is what love looks like in the public arena” (Cornel West).

As you know we read through the Psalter every month in a lectio continua fashion. I frequently post a meditation on the mornings lection (reading). Today’s prayer lection was Psalms 96-100. These Psalms are short and celebrate King Yahweh and God’s kingdom. These psalms are so short we can read the whole lection a few times (and I recommend just that). The Hebraic idea of “justice” permeates the whole.

American disciples often misunderstand the term “justice” believing it is primarily a punishment idea. Such common expressions as “justice was served” reflect this belief. But in Scripture while punishment is sometimes associated with justice that is not the primary idea behind the biblical word. Justice is to make things right. It is a very positive notion not a negative one. Widows, orphans, aliens and even creation do not celebrate that they are getting punished but that they will finally be made whole. The predicament they are in will be made right.

These Psalms today proclaim that Yahweh is King and God puts the world “back together, correctly.” That really is the essence of biblical justice. Righteousness and Justice are extremely difficult to distinguish and are often paired together in synonymous parallelism. Even where the actual word “justice” is not in the text, the psalm is filled with it.

Take Psalm 98 as an example. The entire Psalm is a celebration of what happens in the world when Yahweh is King. It is a world filled with HESED and FAITHFULNESS (grace & truth), God’s name tags from Exodus 34.6. It is a world where even creation (seas & mountains) clap their hands because

let them sing before the Lord,
for he
[Yahweh] comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity
.” (98.9-10).

This is easily translated as “he judges the world in JUSTICE and the peoples righteously.”

These Psalms hit me. The Spirit always uses God’s Word to hit us as we are living life. Here God’s People are being confronted with God’s vision for Justice. God’s vision for “salvation.” God loves justice because it is part of God’s identity. Suddenly, I heard the question, maybe it was from Casper or from another source: Do you love justice?

The hubbub about Colin Kaepernick on my Facebook wall came to my mind. I took a quick scan of the nearly 300 comment thread. The question came back: Do we LOVE justice?

We love Americanism.

We love one anthem (not that other one).

Do we love an anthem more than Justice?

If we love justice, why the shift from Favre to CK?

But do we love the Black National Anthem (Lift Every Voice and Sing)? We love whatever excuses us. We love, we worship, patriotism. (If you do not know Lift Every voice follow the link to YouTube now).

But do we love justice?

Suddenly, these morning texts made me step back and look at the whole book of Psalms. Justice and the identity of the God of Jesus are inseparable and supposedly endemic to the people of God.

What follows is the English verses in the NIV that have the word “justice.” There are dozens of texts, like Psalm 98, where the term does not appear in English but is the foundation of the text anyway. We just need to learn to have eyes and ears. So do we love Justice. Note that in the texts that follow it declares that Yahweh does “love justice.” That justice is part of God’s love (hesed), part of God’s faithfulness (emet), part of God’s acts of grace.

Arise, Lord, in your anger;
rise up against the rage of my enemies.
Awake, my God; decree justice.
” (Psalm 7.6)

The Lord is known by his acts of justice;
the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
” (Psalm 9.16)

For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face
.” (Psalm 11.7)

The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
” (Psalm 33.5)

Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals
.” (Psalm 36.6)

In your majesty ride forth victoriously
in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.
” (Psalm 45.4)

Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
” (Psalm 45.6)

And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for he is a God of justice.
” (Psalm 50.6)

Endow the king with your justice,
O God, the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
” (Psalm 72.1-2)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.
” (Psalm 89.14)

I cannot recommend Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy enough. Read it. Then read it again.

Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne
.” (Psalm 97.2)

The King [Yahweh] is mighty, he loves justice—
you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done what is just and right
.” (Psalm 99.4)

I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, Lord,
I will sing praise.
” (Psalm 101.1)

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” (Psalm 103.6)

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
” (Psalm 112.5)

I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor
and upholds the cause of the needy.
” (Psalm 140.12)

Justice is a powerful and pervasive, theme in the Psalms. Many many more texts (again like Psalm 98) can be cited. Do we hear what they are saying?

Justice in the Psalms, and in fact always in Scripture is social. The word “social” means “relating to society.” Note the texts: widows, orphans, courts, aliens, the king (Psalm 72) making sure this is done. This is social justice if there ever was social justice. God’s justice is by definition social. It heals the injustice and imbalance in relationships between people.

Yahweh loves justice. Does God’s people actually and truly love justice? What offends you? Injustice to the poor? a “minority”? Injustice to the aliens?

Which do we think, based on the texts themselves, do we think Yahweh finds offensive?

The Holy Spirit spoke through the prophet Jesus was like, Moses, “Pursue justice and only justice” (Deuteronomy 16.20).

My Psalm prayer time this morning had me wrestling. Do I love, not tolerate, or think it is a worthy goal among lots of other things. But do I love justice?

Let me recommend getting to know Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative.

When the Spirit whispers in your ear … what do you say?

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INTRODUCTION: Caricatures of the Hebrew Bible

I grew up with the idea the “Old Testament,” when it was even mentioned, was “inferior.” It was a system of “law,” a system of ritual, a system devoid of genuine “faith.” The Hebrew Scriptures were, as the saying goes, “fleshy.”

Thus Ashley S. Johnson (1857-1925) in his very influential book first published in 1899 but kept in publication throughout the Twentieth Century, The Two Covenants, wrote,

I call your attention to this one thought that this covenant was not built upon the heart, it was not built upon conscience, it was not built upon the mind … but it was built upon the flesh of Abraham” (p. 11).

The first covenant, the law of Moses, the daily administration of this institution worked chiefly on the outside, from without toward the heart instead of from the heart … I respectfully and reverently declare that the law of Moses with all of its promises … did not furnish a sufficient motive to these people to love God as He desired to be loved” (p. 61).

It is a fact beyond any cavil, beyond any doubt, beyond any contradiction, beyond any controversy or argument that – and I want to burn it down into the depths of all your hearts – that this institution was of a character that held a sword or a menace over the people from the day that they were born until the day that they died” (p. 63).

But Jesus liberated us from such acrid stuff! This point of view is fresh to my memory almost daily when I visit various “Church of Christ” Facebook groups. The view is based on a highly selective reading of a very limited number of Pauline passages or Hebrews.

Despite Johnson’s impassioned declarations, I do not grant his claim. I have long rejected the view a gross caricature of Paul/Hebrews and most of all the Hebrew Scriptures themselves. And the view certainly is not based on Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Habakkuk, and hundreds of pages of the Hebrew Bible itself. Such views are certainly difficult to defend from Psalm 19 or Psalm 119 or any of the Psalms. In fact Paul and Hebrews both believe that Abraham is what “Christian” faith is all about. Hebrews considers Moses to be a towering figure of faith and loving devotion surpassed only by Jesus. But Moses is not alone, every example of “faith” in Hebrews comes from the Hebrew Bible or Second Temple period (the Maccabees).

A worthwhile resource to read, reread and ponder is Daniel I. Block’s stimulating essay “Hearing Galatians with Moses: An Examination of Paul as a Second and Seconding Moses” in The Triumph of Grace: Literary and Theological Studies in Deuteronomy and Deuteronomic Themes (Cascade Books, 2017), pp. 374-404.

Psalms 116 and Paul

The God of the Hebrew Bible was not a sadomasochist. And Yahweh did not repent and get baptized between Malachi and Matthew. The word “love” occurs more in Deuteronomy than in any Pauline letter including Romans and 1 Corinthians.

Last Summer, we were in a series of sermons titled, “Singing with Jesus” we focused on the Hallel Psalms (Pss 113-118) sung by Jesus during the Passover. Psalm 116 as part of the Hallel Psalms was used during Passover, Pentecost, Booths, Hanukkah, New Moon festivals. It was used by Jesus the night he was betrayed. These great texts were as ingrained in any Second Temple Jew as “Amazing Grace” is in present congregations.

The Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of Ashley S. Johnson’s classic, The Two Covenants. A series of sermons originally delivered in February 1899.

Paul sang these songs as much as Jesus or any other Jew. In a wonderful context in 2 Corinthians 4, the Messianic Pharisee, cites Psalm 116.10 in verse 13. In this text, Paul explicitly states that his (and any believer in the resurrection of Messiah) faith is “the same” as that in the so called “Old Testament.” He says,

But just as we have the SAME SPIRIT OF FAITH that is in accordance with scripture – ‘I believed, and so I spoke’ – we also believe … because we know the One who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and bring us with you into His presence” (4.13-14).

In the context, Paul has been enumerating his “afflictions” for the sake of the Gospel of the Messiah of Israel (vv. 8-11). Indeed we are “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus” (v.10). This is a remarkable parallel to the entire Psalm, for the psalmist also experiences tribulations that are akin to death. “The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish” (Ps 116.3).

But Yahweh delivers the psalmist because God is the God of Mercy (Paul mentions God’s mercy as the basis of his ministry in v.1). The psalm ends with the very public, out in the open, proclamation of the faithfulness and Hesed of Yahweh in the presence of all the people. The death of God’s precious ones is a source of great pain in the God of Israel, whether of King Jesus, Paul or you and me. It costs Yahweh!

How PAINFUL it is to the LORD
when one of his people dies!” (Good News Translation)

The death of the devout
costs Yahweh dear.” (Jerusalem Bible)

Costly in Yahweh’s sight
is the death of his faithful” (New Jerusalem Bible)

The death of His faithful ones
is grievous in the LORD’s sight” (TANAKH: New Jewish Translation of the Hebrew Bible)

The death of the LORD’s faithful
is a costly loss in his eyes
” (Common English Bible)

(Psalm 116.15 is grossly misleading in numerous translations from the KJV to NRSV to NIV. Make sure you read it in the TEV/GNB, CEB, NLT, NJPS, etc, God is not celebrating the death of the Psalmist rather such a death is grievous, sorrowful, costly, horrifying to Yahweh. See my article: Precious in the Sight of the Lord is the Death: A Misunderstood & Misused Text (Ps 116.15)

The Psalmist has been delivered from the tentacles of death and bears witness to God’s Hesed. How can he/she repay God’s grace? By committing to the Lord. This is the story of Paul too. Paul knows this psalm by heart. He mentions the “cup of salvation” previously to the Corinthians themselves (116.13,17, cf. 1 Cor 10.16). The faith of Israel in the Psalm is our faith.

Paul says that his/our “faith” is the “same” faith one finds in the Psalm or “Old Testament.” Or as Paul, who never heard of the “Old Testament” says instead “in accordance with scripture” (cf. 1 Cor 15.3-4). It is

τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα τῆς πίστεως (“the same spirit of faith.”)

The phrase “the same” (τὸ αὐτὸ) is (see Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the NT, pp. 348-350 for the use of the intensive pronoun in the attributive position) means “the same.” 😉 For example, this exact construction is used three times in 1 Corinthians 12.8, 9, 11. (The “same” construction is also in v.5 but it is the “same Lord“).

“τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα” (12.8)

“τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα” (12.9)

“τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα” (12.11)

In each case there is a different gift (wisdom, healing, all gifts) but “the same spirit.” For Paul we have “the same spirit of FAITH” as believers in the Psalms and Israel. In fact our faith is “in accordance with scripture.

Directed to Gentiles

It is extremely significant that this statement is directed to Gentiles. Paul believes the Gentiles are Gentiles no more. Because they have come to accept the Messiahship of Jesus they are now “citizens of Israel.” They are non-Israelite, non-Jewish, citizens of Israel. He identifies the Gentile Corinthians with the People of Israel several times in his correspondence with them. Thus previously to these same former Gentiles, in 1 Corinthians 10, he places the Corinthians squarely in the Story of Israel, specifically the Exodus/wilderness generation.

I do not want you [Corinthians] to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that OUR [Paul’s/theirs] ancestors were all under the cloud …” (1 Cor 10.1).

Then Paul uses the same kind of construction we have in 2 Corinthians 4.13,

all ate the same spiritual food [τὸ αὐτὸ πνευματικὸν βρῶμα]
and all drank the same spiritual drink [τὸ αὐτὸ πνευματικὸν ἔπιον] …” (1 Cor 10.3-4).

Just as Paul saw the Corinthians through the lens of the Exodus story (1 Cor 10) and claims that the Corinthians, when they sit at the Lord’s table, are eating the “same spiritual” meal as “ OUR ancestors” (think on that one for a while!), so the Psalm shows that he and the Corinthians have the same faith as the Israelites. Pauline and Corinthian faith is the “same” and it is “in accordance with the scriptures.

Paul applies his quotation directly to not only King Jesus’s resurrection but ours.

we also believe, and so speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus …” (2 Cor 4.14).

The Psalm celebrates the psalmists deliverance from death and his/her resulting public proclamation. We have the “same faith” as Israel if we belong to the King of Israel. When we think about this it should not really surprise us but it should change how we talk and often how we think.


Paul’s opinion about the nature of “faith” in Israel is slightly different than Ashley Johnson’s. The Psalmist is no miserable person and is effusive in praise for Yahweh’s grace, mercy, deliverance and filled with unspeakable joy and faith. For Paul the Corinthians, in 2 Corinthians 4, if it be genuine faith, is actually “the same spirit of faith” that is found in the Hebrew Bible.

Most commentators spend little time on 2 Corinthians 4.13-14. But the old Church Father, John Chrysostom, however, devotes five full pages to Psalm 116.10/2 Corinthians 4.13 (Commentary on the Psalms, vol. 2, pp. 99-104). He waxes eloquently on the nature of this “same faith.” Peter Balla has a short discussion in G. K. Beale & D. A. Carson’s Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, pp. 764-765).

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