Now about the … (1 Cor. 16:1ff)
Category Archives: Bible
What I am saying, brothers, is that mere human nature cannot inherit the kingdom of God: what is perishable cannot inherit what is imperishable. Now I am going to tell you a mystery: we are not all going to fall asleep, but we are all going to be changed, instantly, in the twinkling of an eye, when the last trumpet sounds. The trumpet is going to sound, and then the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed, because this perishable nature of ours must put on imperishability, this mortal nature must put on immortality. And after this perishable nature has put on imperishability and this mortal nature has put on immortality, then will the words of scripture come true: Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin comes from the Law. Thank God, then, for giving us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. — (1 Cor. 15:50-57)
Peter posted this on twitter and I here post it with his permission (not that I usually ask for permission since if stuff is online it’s fair game, but anyway I did)
So Peter is reacting to this tweet from the Center of Violence:
Song of Songs 1:5 is rendered in the King James ‘I am black, BUT comely’. The conjunction is also concessive (but/yet) in many modern translations (NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, GNT). However ‘and’ is an equally valid translation. The ideology of the translator is quietly influential.
As you can imagine, it seems rather important to know whether the Bible ever expresses a preference for lighter skins. At the heart of discussion is the most common word in Hebrew, represented by the letter w (waw ו) which can be prefixed to both clauses & words in a variety of functions & meanings. Most clauses in the Bible are joined by it and translators render it ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘now’, etc. So both ‘and’ and ‘but’ are grammatically possible, but which is better? To some extent the decision could be thought to arise from the fact that English has no elegant way of expressing ‘and or but’. However, my main argument below is that this verse comes from a context quite different from modern discussions about race and skin colour. It’s in a Middle-Eastern song cycle, with its own complex and allusive messages.
A female character is speaking and in the KJV she says she’s ‘black, but comely’. The logic of this rendering is that in verse 6 she seems not to want people to look at her because she’s sun-darkened through having spent time outside tending her brothers’ vineyards. The vineyards may be a poetic symbol or a literal feature in the poem. It’s not completely clear whether her sun-darkened skin is a symbol or a literal self-description. But she likens her appearance to Solomon’s curtains (1:5), which in this context should be good. Tents of Kedar (1:5) are relevant because Kedar is from the Semitic root qdr meaning ‘dark’ (the Kidron Valley may be named from darkness). Because it’s parallel with Solomon, dark here has to be good.
So in the 2nd half of 1:5 dark seems good, whereas in 1:6 dark seems potentially embarrassing for the woman, resulting from hard work out in the sun. The darker colour is from tanning, not birth. Her ambivalence to this darker colour gives some justification to both renderings. The majority of modern translations go with ‘but’, & it might be tempting to see this as influence by modern (possibly subconscious) racism of western translators. However, mere use of the word ‘but’ is insufficient evidence for the charge since the rendering is very old.
It is found already in the main tradition of the Latin Vulgate: nigra sum sed formonsa ‘black I am but beautiful’ ‘sed’ = ‘but’.
However, an early significant witness to the Vulgate the 8th century Codex Amiatinus, produced by presumably pale-skinned people in England’s Wearmouth-Jarrow uses et ‘and’, not sed, even as it understands the speaker to be ‘the synagogue’: nigra sum et formonsa.
So debate about the best rendering goes back well before the 8th century. It this predates the demonstrated use of ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’, etc. as umbrella terms for classes of people.
Your debauchery will recoil on yourselves, and you will bear the weight of the sins committed with your foul idols and you will know that I am the Lord Yahweh.” ‘ (Ezek. 23:49)
If, having reached the country given by Yahweh your God and having taken possession of it and, while living there, you think, “I should like to appoint a king to rule me — like all the surrounding nations,” the king whom you appoint to rule you must be chosen by Yahweh your God; the appointment of a king must be made from your own brothers; on no account must you appoint as king some foreigner who is not a brother of yours.
‘He must not, however, acquire more and more horses, or send the people back to Egypt with a view to increasing his cavalry, since Yahweh has told you, “You must never go back that way again.” Nor must he keep on acquiring more and more wives, for that could lead his heart astray. Nor must he acquire vast quantities of silver and gold.
Once seated on his royal throne, and for his own use, he must write a copy of this Law on a scroll, at the dictation of the levitical priests. It must never leave him, and he must read it every day of his life and learn to fear Yahweh his God by keeping all the words of this Law and observing these rules, so that he will not think himself superior to his brothers, and not deviate from these commandments either to right or to left. So doing, long will he occupy his throne, he and his sons, in Israel.’ (Deut. 17:14-20)
If you do not obey the voice of Yahweh your God, and do not keep and observe all his commandments and laws which I am laying down for you today then all these curses will befall and overtake you. ‘You will be accursed in the town and accursed in the countryside; accursed, your basket and your kneading trough; accursed, the offspring of your body, the yield of your soil, the young of your cattle and the increase of your flock. You will be accursed in coming home, and accursed in going out.
‘Yahweh will send a curse on you, a spell, an imprecation on all your labours until you have been destroyed and quickly perish, because of your perverse behaviour, for having deserted me. Yahweh will fasten the plague on you, until it has exterminated you from the country which you are about to enter and make your own. Yahweh will strike you down with consumption, fever, inflammation, burning fever, drought, wind-blast, mildew, and these will pursue you to your ruin. The heavens above you will be brass, the earth beneath you iron. Your country’s rain Yahweh will turn into dust and sand; it will fall on you from the heavens until you perish.
Yahweh will have you defeated by your enemies; you will advance on them from one direction and flee from them in seven; and you will be a terrifying object-lesson to all the kingdoms of the world. Your carcase will be carrion for all wild birds and all wild animals, with no one to scare them away. ‘Yahweh will strike you down with Egyptian ulcers, with swellings in the groin, with scurvy and the itch, for which you will find no cure.
Yahweh will strike you down with madness, blindness, distraction of mind, until you grope your way at noon like a blind man groping in the dark, and your steps will lead you nowhere. ‘You will never be anything but exploited and plundered, with no one to save you. Get engaged to a woman, another man will have her; build a house, you will not live in it; plant a vineyard, you will not gather its first-fruits. Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes and you will eat none of it; your donkey will be carried off in front of you and not be returned to you; your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will come to your help. Your sons and daughters will be handed over to another people, and every day you will wear your eyes out watching for them, while your hands are powerless. A nation hitherto unknown to you will eat the yield of your soil and of all your hard work. You will never be anything but exploited and crushed.
You will be driven mad by the sights you will see. Yahweh will strike you down with foul ulcers on knee and leg, for which you will find no cure — from the sole of your foot to the top of your head. ‘Yahweh will send away both you and the king whom you have appointed to rule you to a nation unknown either to you or to your ancestors, and there you will serve other gods, made of wood and stone. And you will be the astonishment, the byword, the laughing-stock of all the peoples where Yahweh is taking you.
‘You will cast seed in plenty on the fields but harvest little, since the locust will devour it. You will plant and till your vineyards but not drink the wine or gather the grapes, since the grub will eat them up. You will grow olive trees throughout your territory but not anoint yourself with the oil, since your olive trees will be cut down. You will father sons and daughters but they will not belong to you, since they will go into captivity. All your trees and the whole yield of your soil will be the prey of insects. ‘The foreigners living with you will rise higher and higher at your expense, while you yourself sink lower and lower. You will be subject to them, not they to you; they will be the ones at the head, and you the one at the tail.
‘All these curses will befall you, pursue you and overtake you until you have been destroyed, for not having obeyed the voice of Yahweh your God by keeping his commandments and laws which he has laid down for you. (Deut. 28:15-45)
Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thess. 5:22)
That includes supporting evil projects, evil plans, evil persons, evil politicians, and evil political programs.
Can a wicked ruler be your ally; one who wreaks havoc by means of the law? … God will repay them for their wickedness, completely destroy them because of their evil. Yes, the LORD our God will completely destroy them. (Ps. 94:20ff)
The LORD sent Nathan to David. When Nathan arrived he said,
“There were two men in the same city, one rich, one poor. The rich man had a lot of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing– just one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised that lamb, and it grew up with him and his children. It would eat from his food and drink from his cup– even sleep in his arms! It was like a daughter to him. “Now a traveler came to visit the rich man, but he wasn’t willing to take anything from his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had arrived. Instead, he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the visitor.” David got very angry at the man, and he said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the one who did this is demonic! He must restore the ewe lamb seven times over because he did this and because he had no compassion.”
“You are that man!” Nathan told David. (2 Sam. 12:1-7)
Get up, LORD! Get your fist ready, God! Don’t forget the ones who suffer! Why do the wicked reject God? Why do they think to themselves that you won’t find out? But you do see! You do see troublemaking and grief, and you do something about it! The helpless leave it all to you. You are the orphan’s helper. Break the arms of those who are wicked and evil. Seek out their wickedness until there’s no more to find. — (Ps. 10:12-15)
Anyone who hates reproof walks in the footsteps of a sinner, and those who fear the Lord will turn back to him from the heart. Those who are powerful in speech are widely known, but those who are thoughtful know when they slip. Those who build their houses with another person’s money are like those who gather stones for their own burial mound. A gathering of lawless people is the same as bundled flax; their end is a flaming fire. The path of sinners is made level with stones, but its end is the pit of hell. (Sir. 21:6-10)
But if you do not [do Yahweh’s will], you will sin against Yahweh, and be sure your sin will find you out. — (Num. 32:23)
We reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are on the road to destruction. The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God. We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. — (2 Cor. 4:2-5)
There was also a man called Ananias. He and his wife, Sapphira, agreed to sell a property; but with his wife’s connivance he kept back part of the price and brought the rest and presented it to the apostles. Peter said, ‘Ananias, how can Satan have so possessed you that you should lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land? While you still owned the land, wasn’t it yours to keep, and after you had sold it wasn’t the money yours to do with as you liked? What put this scheme into your mind? You have been lying not to men, but to God.’
When he heard this Ananias fell down dead. And a great fear came upon everyone present. The younger men got up, wrapped up the body, carried it out and buried it. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had taken place.
Peter challenged her, ‘Tell me, was this the price you sold the land for?’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘that was the price.’ Peter then said, ‘Why did you and your husband agree to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Listen! At the door are the footsteps of those who have buried your husband; they will carry you out, too.’ Instantly she dropped dead at his feet. When the young men came in they found she was dead, and they carried her out and buried her by the side of her husband. — (Acts 5:1-10)
The sin isn’t the retention of one’s own money. Keep all your money if you want to. The sin is pretense. Don’t pretend to be a pious soul when within you are selfish and rotten. God hates pretense. He may kill you right off for it.
There are six things that Yahweh hates, seven that he abhors:
- a haughty look,
- a lying tongue,
- hands that shed innocent blood,
- a heart that weaves wicked plots,
- feet that hurry to do evil,
- a false witness who lies with every breath,
- and one who sows dissension among brothers. – (Prov. 6:16-19)
On Galatians 6:7, while discussing 6:6-10, which says, “When someone is under instruction in doctrine, he should give his teacher a share in all his possessions. Don’t delude yourself: God is not to be fooled; whatever someone sows, that is what he will reap. If his sowing is in the field of self-indulgence, then his harvest from it will be corruption; if his sowing is in the Spirit, then his harvest from the Spirit will be eternal life. And let us never slacken in doing good; for if we do not give up, we shall have our harvest in due time. So then, as long as we have the opportunity let all our actions be for the good of everybody, and especially of those who belong to the household of the faith.” (Gal. 6:6-10)
The design of this observation is to reply to the dishonest excuses which are frequently pleaded. One alleges that he has a family to support, and another asserts that he has no superfluity of wealth to spend in liberality or profusion. The consequence is, that, while such multitudes withhold their aid, the few persons who do their duty are generally unable to contribute the necessary support. These apologies Paul utterly rejects, for a reason which the world little considers, that this transaction is with God. The supply of a man’s bodily wants is not the sole question, but involves the degree of our regard for Christ and his gospel. This passage contains evidence that the custom of treating faithful ministers with scorn did not originate in the present day; but their wicked taunts will not pass unpunished.
Calvin couldn’t be clearer and neither could Paul: you should support, without being stingy, those who teach you the Word. People may not like it, and they may not do it, but Scripture is here quite unmistakably clear- it should be done.
“Then he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink, I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, lacking clothes and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or lacking clothes, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.” And they will go away to eternal punishment.” (Matt. 25:41-46)
Let those with ears, hear….