Halloween, Nike, Mazda, and Paganism

Many go “all out” for Halloween.  Houses are decorated.  Costumes are selected.  Candy is purchased.  Did you know that ¼ of all candy sold in the U.S is sold for Halloween?  (Halloween 2018- History, history.com).  Personally, I have never understood the obsession.

What is the origin of Halloween?  (1) Its origin seems to be found in the celtic festival of Samhaim.  Their new year was November 1.  They celebrated the festival of Samhaim on October 31.  It marked the end of summer and the harvest, and the beginning of winter, a time of year associated with human death.  The Celts believe that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead become blurred on the night of October 31.  They believe that the ghosts of the dead could return on this night.  Treats were left to try to appease the ghosts.  Carved vegetables were used to protect.  The faces were believed to ward off evil and unwanted spirits.  Durids built bonfires where people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to Celtic deities.

(2) These customs became blended with Roman customs after the Roman Empire conquered Celtic territory.  The Romans had two festivals near this same time.  First was Ferelia, a day used by the Romans to commemorate the passing of the dead.  Second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruits and trees.  Some think bobbing for apples comes from this.

(3)  These practices seem to have been “Christianized” by Rome.  In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain.  The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween” (history.com).

Nike.  The name or word can refer to the Greek goddess of victory, or to simply victory (cf. 1 John 5:4).  [It is much like the word dike which can refer to judgment or justice (cf. Acts 25:15) or to the goddess of justice (Acts 28:4)].

What about the name of the shoe company?  Some early considered names include “Dimension Six,” “Peregrine,” and “Bengal.”  In the end it was named after the Greek goddess of Victory (How Nike Got Its Name, businessinsider.com).

 Nike is not alone in name the company after a god.  Consider the name “Mazda.”  The company  Toyo Kogyo manufactured corks.  It began to produce vehicles.  It was managed by Jujiro Matsuda.  “‘Mazda’  comes from the (Persian – B.H.) god of harmony, intelligence and wisdom… ‘Mazda’ was the perfect way to pay respect to the substantial founder, whose family name is pronounced very close to ‘Mazda’” (A Story Behind the Name of Mazda, Mazda.com).

 Should we conclude that if one allows their children to dress up in a Halloween costume, then one is practicing Celtic beliefs?  Should we conclude that if one wears a pair of Nike shoes or drives a Mazda automobile, then one is promoting a false god?  Some think so.

However, let us consider: (1) Intent.  Dave Miller has written, “I makes no difference what we might uncover when we trace a given practice through the ages if, in fact, that practice no longer carries those connotations…  For example, June weddings date back to Roman women who chose to marry in June because the goddess Juno was the guardian of the female sex.  To marry in June guaranteed the blessings of the patron goddess… the fact that our word ‘Thursday’ is rooted in the pagan dedication of a day to the god ‘Thor’ is not likely to cause me to cease using the term… knowing the origin of June weddings is not likely to cause me to oppose them.  God does not hold us responsible for such ancient links.  The question which He is concerned is what does this activity, practice, or observance mean to society today… The meaning attached in our culture to any given observance becomes the key for ascertaining whether the practice is authorized by the principles of scripture” (Miller, Piloting the Strait, pp. 259-260).  I believe that this is correct.  The meaning of things can change (e.g. the veil Genesis 38:15; The Swastika; The ‘!’ means one thing in math and something different in English.  The ‘;’ means one thing in Greek and another thing in English).

(2) Names of Bible characters.  Some Bible characters had names of pagan origin (e.g. Epaphroditus and Epaphras = belonging to Aphrodite, Apollos = given by Apollo).  These names were not changed.  Sometimes in India, when one is converted to Christ, that one will desire to change his name, because of the meaning of his name.  Sometimes I am asked to pick a name for a person.  Usually one desires a Biblical name.  I tell him that it is OK to change one’s name, but not required.  What is required is a change of life.  One’s life should be lived in such a way that it exalts God and magnifies Christ (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 1:20-21; 1 Peter 2:11-12).  This is far more important.

*Sources for Halloween History: Halloween 2018 – History, history.com; The Dark History of Halloween, businessinsider.com; What Are the Origins of Halloween, erounews.com; Halloween Facts, Halloween Traditions, holidayinsights.com.

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In The News: Brandt Jean (I Want to be More Like Him)

Botham Jean was fatally shot by Amber Guyger on the night of September 06, 2018.  It appears to have happened due to a tragic mistake.  Fatigued, and perhaps distracted, Guyger claims to have confused Jean’s fourth floor apartment for her third floor apartment.

Who was Botham Jean?  He was a member of the church of Christ.  He was a song leader with West Church of Christ in Dallas.  He was an accountant at Pricewaterhouse Coopers.  He will be missed by many.  Michael Griffin, minister, said, “Botham Shem Jean was not a silhouette.  He was the light in a dark room” (Who is Botham Jean?  wffa.com).  Allison Jean, his mother, said, “Everything Botham did was to impact the lives of people” (ibid).

There are many reasons for one to be enraged.  Guyger’s feelings about blacks were exposed.  She had a history of racist texts (Prosecution in Guyger Trial Reveals Past Racist and Violent Text, Social Media Posts by Tobias Hoonhout, nationalreview.com).  Did her racial views influence her decision?  She had been sexting (Texts Between Amber Guyger, Dallas Police Partner Revealed at Trial by Erik Ortiz, nbcnews.com).  Did this distract her to the point that she did not even notice the bright red door mat at Jean’s door?  This clearly was not her apartment.

However, Brandt Jean, Botham’s brother, had love and concern for Guyger, in his heart, when he spoke in court on October 2, 2019.  He said, “If you truly are sorry – I know I can speak for myself – I, I forgive you.  And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you… I love you just like anyone else… I am not going to say I hope you rot and die, just like my brother did… I personally want the best for you… I want the best for you because that is exactly what Botham would want for you.  And the best would be give your life to Christ… I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing Botham would want you to do.  Again, I love you as a person, and I don’t wish anything bad on you” (Botham Jean’s Brother, Brandt and Amber Guyger Hug, KHOU11, youtube).

Who can watch this without getting teary-eyed?  I want to be more like Brandt.

Ponder the following passages:

  1.   “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6: 14-15).
  2. “Should you not also have compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers… so my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 18:33-35).
  3. “If your brother sins against you, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).
  4. “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?’  Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven'” (Matthew 18:21-22).
  5. “Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.  Mercy triumphs over judgement” (James 2:13).
  6. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
  7. “Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

 

 

 

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Eastern Religions: Confucianism and Taoism

These two religions are from China.  They have their roots in the 6th century B.C.

Confucianism

There are between 5- 6 million followers of this religion in the world (World Religions by Number of Followers, Conservapedia.com).  Most are in China, Taiwan and east Asia.  Data could not be located for numbers in the U.S.A.

The history of the religion begins with the philosopher Kong Qui (c. 551-479 B.C.), better known as Confucius (Master Kong).  He was born and lived in northeastern China, in the state of Lu.  His years may be summarized this way: (1) Before age 50, he held various minor positions in state government, and was a school teacher.  (2) From age 50-56, he held a few major positions in state government, including: assistant minister of public works, and minister of justice.  He resigned when he found that his superiors were not interested in his reforms.  (3) From age 56-67, he traveled state to state attempting to bring about political and social reform.  China was in a state of unrest.  Warring states were not uncommon.  His tour was largely unsuccessful, though he did gain some followers among the people.  (4) From age 67 till his death, he spent writing and teaching, in his home state of Lu.  The Analects consist of 20 books (or chapters) 473 verses.

His writings contain many good moral maxims.  He taught on how one treats others, “What I do not want others to do to me, I have no desire to do to others” (The Analect 5:11; 12:2; 15:23 cf. Proverbs 24:29; Matthew 7:12).  “In dealing with the aged to be of comfort to them; in dealing with friends to be of good faith with them; in dealing with the young, to cherish them”  (The Analect 5:25 cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Proverbs 23:22; Matthew 18:1-3; 19:13-15).   “Till you learn to serve men, how can you serve ghosts?” (The Analects 11:11 cf. 1 John 4:20).  He taught on family relations.  “Behave in such a way that your father and mother have no anxiety about you, except concerning your health” (The Analects 5:6 cf. Proverbs 10:1).  He taught on employment.  “Be faithful to your superiors, keep all promises… if you have made a mistake do not be afraid of admitting the fact and amending your ways” (The Analects 11:24 cf. Ephesian 6:5-8).  He taught on government.  “You may rob the Three Armies of their commander-in-chief, but you cannot deprive the humblest peasant of his opinion” (The Analects 9:25, also see 12:7 cf. Proverbs 14:28).  He taught on education.  “In the old days men studied for the sake of self-improvement; nowadays men study in order to impress other people” (The Analects 14:25 cf. 2 Timothy 2:15; Psalm 119:105).

It is important to understand that Confucius did not claim perfect knowledge or complete understanding.  He said, “I for my part am not one of those who have innate knowledge.  I am simply one who loves the past and who is diligent in investigating it… Even when walking in a party of no more than three I can always be certain of learning from those I am with” (The Analects 7:19, 21 cf. 7:1-3).  Again, “Do I regard myself as a possessor of wisdom?  Far from it.  But if even a simple peasant comes in all sincerity and asks me a question, I am ready to thrash the matter out, with all of its pros and cons, to the very end” (The Analects 9:7 cf. 7:33), Confucius regarded himself as a transmitter of ancient knowledge), and not an originator (Arthur Waley, The Analects of Confucius, p. 25).

Confucianism might be regarded as a philosophy, and good moral teachings, if it were not for later developments.  Confucius was eventually deified.  Animal sacrifices have been made at his tomb.  Temples have been built (see Josh McDowell & Don Stewart, Handbook of Today’s Religions, p. 326-ff).

Taoism (Daoism)

There are about 20 million followers of this religion in the world (World Religions by Number of Followers, conservapedia.com).  Most are in China, Taiwan and east Asia.  There are an estimated 30,000 followers in the U.S.A. (American Daoism, pluralism.org).

The history of the religion is purported to begin with Li Er (6th century B.C.), better known as Lao Tzu (old philosopher).  He was from the state of Chu, eastern China.  He produced a book known as the Tao Te Ching [The book of the Way of Virtue (or Power)].  The book is about 5,500 words long in English, a total of 81 chapters or poems.

The books contain many good moral teachings.  It warns against boasting.  “Achieve results, but never glory in them.  Achieve results, but never boast.  Achieve results, but never  be proud” (30).  “The sage works without recognition.  He achieves what has to be done without dwelling on it” (77 cf. Proverbs 27:2).  It teaches about contentment.  “A contented man is never disappointed” (44 cf. 1 Timothy 6:6).  It teaches against violence.  “A violent man will die a violent death” (42 cf. Matthew 26:52).  It has much to say about government.  “Why are people starving?  Because the rulers eat up the money in taxes… Why are people rebellious?  Because the rulers interfere too much… Why do the people think so little of death?  Because the rulers demand too much of life” (75, cf. 58).  “Ruling the country is like cooking a small fish” (60).  In other words, don’t overdo it.

However, the book also contains things which seem too passive.  “The world is ruled by letting things take their course.  It cannot be ruled by interfering” (48).  “The highest good is like water.  Water gives life to ten thousand things and does not strive” (8).  “Yielding is the way of the Tao” (40).  This at least on the surface seems contrary to Biblical teaching (Psalm 82:3-4; Jude 3, etc.).

This is a religion of the yin and yang, and “it’s all good.”  Josh McDowell and Don Stewart have concluded, “Taoism has no real answer to the problem of evil, for the Taoist ‘solution’ of ignoring or withdrawing from the ills of society does nothing to cure those very real ills” (Handbook of Today’s Religions, p. 347).

Taoism might be regarded as a philosophy, containing some good moral teachings, if it were not for later developments.  Lao Tzu was eventually deified.  Animal sacrifices have been made to him.  Temples have been built (see Josh McDowell & Don Stewart, Handbook of Today’s Religions, p. 346-f).

Thoughts

The issue is not whether other religions contain some good moral teachings.  Aesop’s Fables, Poor Richard’s Almanac and The Book of Virtues contain good moral teachings.  The issue is inspiration.

Moreover, Christianity is not primarily about a better moral system (though I think that it is).  It is about Jesus Christ.  Paul wrote, “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).  Again, “I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you… Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures… He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  He concluded, “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty… But now Christ is risen from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:14, 20).

 

 

 

 

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The Truth in Love

Our text of study is Ephesians 4:15.  It reads, “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ.”  The context concerns the use of spiritual gifts, and roles in the church.

Let us notice that in order to build the church…

1.  We must speak.

Those with the ability to teach and preach should use that ability.  Timothy was told “stir up the gift” that was within him, and “not be ashamed” (2 Timothy 1:6-8).  He was to “preach the word,” and to do so “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:1-2).  Paul said “woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Members should use their tongues to edify (Ephesians 4:29), exhort, and stir up love and good works (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24).  Paul instructed “comfort each other and edify one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 cf. 4:18; 5:14).  Our tongues can be used for good.

It has been said that “sometimes silence is golden, but sometimes it is merely yellow.”  Do we care enough to speak?  “Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29).

2.  We must speak the truth.

The original word translated “speaking the truth” is aletheuo.  It appears twice in the New Testament (Galatians 4:16; Ephesians 4:15).  It means to proclaim the truth, or to deal with truthfully.

It is the truth of God’s word, not human opinions or human wisdom, that needs to be proclaimed.

The truth has power.  It is the truth which begets (James 1:18), sets free (John 8:32), purifies (1 Peter 1:22), sanctifies (John 17:17), and arms one for spiritual war (Ephesians 6:10-17).

Moreover, it is not enough to speak some truth, but hold back on teaching all that should be taught.  Paul said, “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house” (Acts 20:20).  Again, he said, “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

Someone has written, “If you are my friend, if you are concerned about my soul, give me the truth… for the truth, and only the truth, can make me free from the shackles of sin, strengthen me in the pathway of righteousness, and lead me to heaven’s joy.”

3.  We must speak the truth in love.

Our speech should be motivated by love, genuine love.  Love motivated Paul to correct the brethren at Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:4).  One brother has written, “One of the most unloving acts that one could do – is nothing – when he knows that a brother is being overcome by sin… Brotherly love cares enough to correct” (Jimmy Jividen, Koinonia, pp. 147, 179).

Our speech should be tempered by love.  We should be in the habit of seasoning our words with salt (Colossians 4:6).  Yes, there is a time for bold speech (e.g. Matthew 12:34; 23:13ff; 2 Corinthians 4:21).  However, this should be the exception and not the norm.  Jesus was very bold with His active, vocal opponents, who were trying to interfere with His work, or who were plotting against Him.  This is not the way He treated most people (Nicodemus, John 3; the woman at the well, John 4; the woman caught in adultery, John 8; the rich young ruler, Mark 10).   We should avoid being unnecessarily offensive, rude, or unkind.

We should try to be compassionate, and demonstrate our love.  Imagine two preachers.  One points out sin in a member’s life with a gleam in his eye, and seems to enjoy it.  The other points out sin in a member’s life with a tear in his eye, and seems sincerely concerned.  Which one would you want to hear?  Paul shed tears (2 Corinthians 2:4; Philippians 3:18).  May we “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).  Let us learn to sincerely care for people.  Remember that without love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

Preachers and members should remember that preaching is not just about rebuking (2 Timothy 4:2).  It is also about convincing, exhorting, comforting, and edifying (2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11, 14; 1 Corinthians 14:26b; Acts 14:21-22, etc.).

   

 

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What Would You Give Up?

Vernon, Florida is a small town located in the state’s panhandle.  It, by reputation, is commonly called “Nub City.”  This moniker was earned in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  During this time the area was economically depressed.  It seems that some of its residents found a way to bring in money.  During this period, this town accounted for 2/3 of all insurance claims for dismemberment in the country.  This town, with a population which fluctuated between 500 and 800, had 50 citizens lose body parts.  There were hunting accidents, farming accidents, and home accidents of various kinds.  One source says, “Hard times have befallen the residents of countless American small towns, but few have fought back so boldly as many of the citizens of Vernon, Florida who found that severing their limbs could be even more lucrative than using them” (Vernon, Florida, atlasobscura.com).  To be fair, no one was ever convicted for insurance fraud.  However, many of the circumstances were suspicious (e.g. multiple insurance policies taken out shortly before the accident, one man had at least 28 policies, one victim had a tourniquet in his pocket at the time of his accident and happened to be driving his wife’s car which had an automatic transmission and not his truck with a manual transmission which he ordinarily used, etc.).  “Insurers took many of the Nub Club members to court.  The problem was convincing a jury that a man with any sense at all would have the gumption to aim a rifle at one of his appendages and pull the trigger” (‘Nub City’: Vernon, Florida’s Decade-Long Insurance Scam by Brooks Hays, mentalfloss.com).

The epidemic of accidents came to an end in the early 1960’s.  This coincided with insurance companies changing how they did business in the area.  Some raised premiums astronomically.  Others refused to do business in this area.

Many will go to great extremes for financial benefit; let us ask to what extent you would go to make it to heaven? Jesus sad, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you.  For it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).

No, this is not to be understood literally.  Who is tempted by the right eye and not the left (except a one-eyed person)?  Who is tempted by the right hand and not the left (except a one-handed person)?  Furthermore, sin is actually a product of the heart and mind (Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 23:7a; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 12:1-2).

The meaning is that we should seek to eliminate conduits of temptation and stumbling blocks from our lives, so far as possible (cf. Romans 13:14).  Albert Barnes comments, “His design was to teach that the dearest objects, if they cause us to sin, are to be abandoned” (Barnes Notes).  This might include “friends,” books, T.V. shows, certain music, internet surfing, the place one lives, or job.  Are we willing to pay the price?  The N.I.V. Study Bible comments, “Jesus is not teaching self-mutilation, for even a blind man can lust.  The point is that we should deal as drastically with sin as necessary.”  This is what is needed.   The E.S.V. Study Bible says of this context, “Jesus uses deliberate overstatement to emphasize the importance of maintaining exclusive devotion to one’s spouse.  Even things of great value should be given up if they are leading a person to sin.”  Are you willing to be a part of the Nub Club?

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What Does Your House Say About You?

Whether you realize it or not, your house, car, and personal items may reveal much about you.  Malcolm Gladwell writes, “Imagine that you are considering me for a job.  You’ve seen my resume and think I have the necessary credentials.  But you want to know whether I am a right fit or your organization.  Am I a hard worker?  Am I honest?  Am I open to new ideas?  In order to answer these questions about my personality, your boss gives you two options.  The first is to meet with me twice a week for a year – to have lunch or dinner or go to a movie with me – to the point you become one of my close friends… The second option is to drop by my house when I am not there and spend half an hour or so looking around.  Which would you choose?”  (Malcolm Gladwell, Blink, p. 34).  The writer suggests that the second option may be the better option.

Gladwell references an experiment by psychologist Samuel Gosling.  Eighty college students were used as subjects in the experiment.  First, close friends of each student answered a questionnaire rating their friend in five areas: 1.  Extraversion.  Are you sociable or retiring?  Fun-loving or reserved?  2.  Agreeableness.  Are you trusting or suspicious?  Helpful or uncooperative?  3.  Conscientiousness.  Are you organized or disorganized?  Self-disciplined or weak willed?  4.  Emotional stability.  Are you worried or calm?  5.  Openness to new experiences.  Are you imaginative or down-to-earth?  Independent or conforming?  Second, total strangers were given access to the student’s room, for fifteen minutes, and asked to complete the same questionnaire.  Here are the results: The close friends did better in the first two areas, and the total strangers did better in the last three areas.  “On balance, …the strangers ended up doing a much better job” (Gladwell, p. 36).

What information could be gathered from one’s dorm room?  “Gosling says… that a person’s bedroom gives three kinds of clues to his or her personality.  There are, first of all, identity claims, which are deliberate expressions about how we would like to be seen by the world: a framed copy of a magna cum laude degree from Harvard, for example.  Then, there is behavioral residue, which is defined as the inadvertent clues we leave behind: dirty laundry on the floor, for instance, or an alphabetized CD collection.  Finally, there are thoughts and feelings regulators, which are changes we make to our most personal spaces to affect the way we feel when we inhabit them: a scented candle in the corner, for example, or a pile of artfully placed decorative pillows on the bed… Just as important, though is the information you don’t have when you look through someone’s belongings… Most of us have difficulty believing that a 275-pound football lineman could have a lively and discerning intellect.  We just can’t get past the stereotype of the dumb jock.  But if all we saw of that person was his bookshelf or the artwork on his walls, we wouldn’t have the same problem” (Gladwell, pp. 37-38).

Let’s make application.  I am not concerned about what your personal space and possessions may indicate about your personality type; but I am concerned about what they may reveal about you (and me) spiritually.  Does your space reveal that you study your Bible?  Does your space reveal that you spend time in prayer (e.g. a prayer list)?  Does your space indicate that you love the brethren (e.g. cards addressed to others to encourage them)?  Does your space indicate worldliness?  Does your space indicate moral impurity or questionable behavior?

Regardless of what may be visible to human eyes, let us remember that God knows us completely.  David wrote, “O LORD, You have searched me and know me.  You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.  You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it all together” (Psalm 139:1-4). Proverbs declares, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).

 

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Jesus: The Son of God

Jesus is described as “the Son of God” about 30 times in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Mark’s account begins, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).  Demons, or unclean spirits, are recorded as using this phrase in addressing Jesus (Mark 3:11; 5:7).  Peter confessed of Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).  Jesus acknowledged the truth of Peter’s words (Matthew 16:17).  Jesus declared that he was the Son of God, to a healed man, who had been born blind (John 9:35-38).  A centurion, who witnessed the events connected with the cross, concluded, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:37-39 cf. Matthew 27:54).

What does this phrase mean?  It depends on the context.  This phrase is used in different ways in scripture.  (1) Sons of God is used of angels, or heavenly beings, it seems (Job 2:1).  Perhaps, this is because they are God’s creation (cf. Psalm 148:1—5; Nehemiah 9:6; Colossians 1:16).  Another possible explanation is that they are so called, because they serve God.  (2) Son of God is used of Adam (Luke 3:38).  He is called this, because he was created by God, not having an earthly father preceding him.  (3) Israel is called by God “My Son” (Exodus 4:22).  This is likely a reference to relationship, and care.  (4) Kings who came through the Davidic seed line, are sons of God (2 Samuel 7:12-16).  This is likely a reference to relationship, and care.  (5) Those in authority are called, “children of the Most High” (Psalm 82:6).  This is likely a reference to authority and position allowed by God on this earth (e.g. Exodus 7:1-2, Exodus 22:28; Ezekiel 31:11).  (6) Christians are called “sons of God” (cf. 1 John 3:1-2; Galatians 3:26-28).  The reference is to being a part of God’s spiritual family, and heirs of the good things to come (Romans 8:17).

In what way is Jesus the Son of God?  (1) He is the Son of God by birth.  The phrase is used in connection with Jesus’ birth (Luke 1:26-35).  This may be similar to how the phrase is used of Adam (Luke 3:38).  (2) He is the Son of God, being the object of God’s love and protective care.  Jesus is called God’s son, in the context of God’s protective care (Matthew 2:13-15).  [The words of Matthew 2:15 originally applied to God’s love and protective care of Israel (cf. Hosea 11:1-2).  The word “fulfilled” is used accommodatingly (see article: Prophecy: Fulfilled by B.H.)].  (3) He is the Son of God, in his submissive relationship on earth to God.  Children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1).  Jesus did this.  Consider these passages: (a) John 5:30, “I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me.”  (b) John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.”  (c) John 14:28, “My Father is greater than I.”  Guy N. Woods comments, “While here, in the flesh, he was in a subordinate position to the Father” (Guy N. Woods, The Gospel According to John, p. 318).  This subordination occurred in the incarnation (cf. Philippians 2:5-8).  I know of no clear passages which teaches this Father-Son relationship prior to the incarnation. Kevin Moore writes, “There are only three Old Testament allusions to Jesus as ‘son’ (Psalm 2:7,12; Daniel 7:13), all of which are predictive messianic prophecies” (Moore, Jesus Christ: the Son of God, kmooreperspective.blogspot.com). (4) He is the Son of God, in the sense that he is the Christ.  Notice how these terms appear together: (a) Peter confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).  (b) Martha confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27).  (c) The high priest demanded, “Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God!” (Matthew 26:26).  Jesus replied, “It I as you said” (Matthew 26:64).  (d) The rulers and the people, standing at the cross, said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Christ, the chosen of God” (Luke 23:35 cf. Matthew 27:39-43).  Notice that instead of the phrase “the Son of God” with “the Christ” as in other passages, it reads, “the Christ, the chosen of God.”  (e) Then, consider what Saul preached.  He proclaimed that Jesus is “the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).  He preached proving that Jesus is “the Christ” (Acts 9:22).  The terms seem to be equated.  (5) He is the Son of God, in the sense of being King.  Brad Bromling has written, “Historically the term had a royal connotation for many nations of the Ancient Near East.  It was commonplace for Egyptian, Babylonian, Canaanite, and Roman rulers to be called ‘Son of God'” (Bromling, What Does it Mean to say Jesus id “Son of God”?, apologeticspress.org). We have already pointed out that this phrase was used of the kings who descended from David (cf. 1 Samuel 7:12-16).  Hebrews 1:5a reads: “For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You’?”  This is a quotation from Psalm 2:7.  It concerns the coronation of a king (cf. Psalm 2:6-7).  This happened when Jesus was resurrected, begotten from the dead (cf. Acts 13:33-34).  Hebrews 1:5b reads, “And again, ‘I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a Son’?”  This is a quotation of 2 Samuel 7:14.  It concerns the kings who would descend through David (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-16).  Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this (cf. Acts 13:33-34).

Is there another usage in some contexts?  (6) Some believe the “Son of God” is used at times in the sense of Jesus being of divine nature (Now, he certain is, whether or not this phrase is used in this way in the New Testament).  Remember, earlier in this series, we said that “son of…” can be used for being “of the order” (Zondervan’s Pictorial Dictionary, p. 805).  Consider: (a) John 5.  Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath (John 5:5-9).  Jesus angered certain Jews by doing this on the Sabbath (John 5:16).  Jesus told them, “My Father has being working until now, and I have been working” (John 5:17).  Then, we are told, “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was his father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18).  It is one thing to say that God can do something.  It is another thing to claim that same right.  Moreover, the way he used the term “father,” and equated his authority to do what he did with the Father’s authority, caused them to conclude that Jesus was claiming in some sense to be one with the Father (cf. John 10:28-33).  Was he?  Yes!  (cf. John 5:21-23).  To them, this was blasphemous.  Guy N. Woods comments, “He had thus far been to them merely a man who had broken the laws of the Sabbath; now, he appears before them as one claiming to be the Son of God in a fashion characteristic of no other and also equal with God” (Woods, pp. 100-101).  (b) Romans 1:3-4, “…Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”  Some believe that the phrase is used in this passage of “Christ” or “King.”  Other are convinced that it is being used Jesus’ divine nature (The Bible teaches this divine nature.  See: John 1:1 cf. 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:19; 2:9).  Regardless of how one understands this phrase, as it is used in Romans 1:3-4, known this: The resurrection of Jesus is set forth as “proof of his purity, innocence, and Divine approbation” (Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. 6, pp. 36-37).

Let us summarize.  The phrase, “the Son of God” is used in different ways, in different context.  It is used of Jesus’ relationship with God on earth (birth, protective care, submission).  It is used of Jesus being the chosen one of God (Christ, King).  It may or may not be used of divine nature (However, Jesus’ divine nature is taught in Scripture).

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