Literal and Figurative Street Signs
Street Signs in the City of God
Genesis 38:11-30, Way – literal (03/29/21)
Way – Literal
1 Samuel 13:1-18
Luke 3:1-6, 18:35-43
Way – Figurative
2 Samuel 22:1, 7-33
1 Kings 16:15-28
Proverbs 2:1-15, 3:5-18
Luke 20:19-26; Acts 18:24-28
Highway – Literal
1 Samuel 6:1-14
2 Samuel 20:1-13
2 Kings 18:13-25, 19:1-7
Highway – Figurative and Prophetic
Proverbs 16:17; Isaiah 19:17-25
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Path – Mostly Figurative
Proverbs 4:10-15; Isaiah 59:1-8
Street – Mostly Literal
Revelation 11:1-12, 21:21-23, 22:1-5
On the Way to Emmaus. William Ambrose Spicer, 1921,
in Our day in the light of prophecy and providence,
Canadian Watchman Press, Ontario. Click to enlarge.
My husband and I were chatting with friend and fellow-reader Judy L. about what we might do when we get to Heaven. She said she wanted to look up a lot of people whom she used to know or wants to get to know. Then she wondered what to do if she got lost. How would she get back where she started? I said, "Just look at the street signs." We all laughed, but I wrote it down, and now, You Are Here. The King James Version uses the word way
874 times; highway
, 26 times; path
, 66 times; street
, 101 times; marketplace
, 4 times; and corner
, once. As the angels say, "Fear not! We will not travel them all, for they are many." I hope, though, to travel some back roads – stories we haven't necessarily read over and over again. In the next several weeks we'll follow some of the street signs together, and then we'll end up back where we started, with the conclusion to our long study, "What must I do to be saved?"
Judah (as in "The Lion of") usually gets pretty good press in the Bible. Even though he is not the firstborn, Judah gets the most kingly blessing from Jacob (Genesis 49). Judah is the one who interceded for Joseph when the other brothers wanted to kill him (Genesis 37). Judah is the ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1). But one thing I find truly convincing about the scripture is that if a mostly good, famous person does something not so good or even infamous, the writers just write it down. David commits murder and adultery? It's in there. Peter swears he doesn't know Jesus? It's in there. The disciples as a group are totally clueless? It's in there. So here we see Judah not looking his best. Not only does he break the levirate law (Deuteronomy 25:5-6) by withholding his third son from Tamar after his two older sons (her first two husbands) die, but he thinks he is going to see a prostitute! Tamar bears twins, and the second-born, Pharez, is also an ancestor of Jesus, and Tamar one of the four women mentioned as his ancestress.
Tamar sits by the derek
in the KJV. We'll talk more about this later, but for now just remember that several other translations use road
, and wayside
in these three verses.
1 Samuel 13:1-18, Way – literal (03/30/21)
Saul was a fine military leader, but he fell down on the job when it came to having faith in God. The priest/prophet Samuel had told Saul to wait until he got there, and then he, Samuel, would offer sacrifices. Now Saul's troops are deserting, so he goes ahead and offers the sacrifices himself – something that only priests are allowed to do. There's another important point to notice, however. With Saul, everything is somebody else's fault: "People
were scattering; you
were late; so obviously
I had to force
myself to do this!"
In this study I think we'll see that most of the Hebrew and Greek words for streets, etc., are translated with several different English words, both between and within translations. Oh well; that's why I specified the number in the King James Version. Here derek
is again rendered way
in the KJV and road
in some other translations, as we saw yesterday, but I noticed that still other translations just dispense with the "way" entirely and say toward
or in the direction of
Nahum 2:1-13, Way – literal (03/31/21)
Nahum the prophet writes about the collapse of Nineveh, and therefore of the Assyrian Empire. Either he is prophesying or reporting; it's not clear which. Either way, the Assyrians were harsh warriors and rulers (vs. 2), and Nahum thinks their destruction is no more than they deserve (vs. 13). Nahum was a powerful and profound Hebrew poet (although my Hebrew is too poor to do anything except take the word of scholars for this). Even in English, you can see how vividly Nahum describes the battle and its aftermath. Since I had to look it up, I'll pass on to you that "the scattering one," a.k.a. "he that dashes in pieces," is Babylon, a.k.a. the Medes and Chaldeans. Nahum tells the Assyrians, "He's coming! Watch the road!" but it does no good; they are overrun and forced to flee, and the city is looted and burned.
The first part of the book is in the form of an acrostic, that is, the first sentence begins with A, the second with B, the third with C, and so on (except in Hebrew, of course). Again we see both road
in various translations. You get streets
for free in this reading.
Luke 3:1-6, 18:35-43, Way – literal (04/01/21)
In Luke 3:3-5, John quotes almost word for word from the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint. I normally expect to see hodos
, at 102 occurrences, for any kind of traveled route in the New Testament. Trachus
, at 2 occurrences, was a new one to me, so I have learned something today and can quit. It means a rocky, rough, or uneven path. John Wesley and others say that these verses refer to the custom of satraps of sending a crew ahead of them to prepare the roads they planned to travel. Like our Hebrew friend derek
is translated both way
in Luke 3:4, which surprises me; I thought the influence of the KJV would be absolute here because the phrase is so well known. Presumably the translators render hodos
as way side
in 18:35 so that we aren't fooled into thinking that the blind man is sitting in the middle of the road.
Acts 25:1-12, Way – literal (04/02/21)
The Jews were kind of a pain in the neck for the Romans. They wouldn't worship the Emperor, they groused about paying taxes, and every few years some portion of them would revolt. Three times a year, there were huge religious festivals in Jerusalem, and the Romans felt (probably correctly) that they needed a lot of soldiers on the scene to keep order. Paul, although he was a Jew, was also a Roman citizen by birth. We are not surprised that Festus doesn't hand Paul over to the Jewish leadership.
I was surprised, however, that only one translation that I looked at gave us road
for the Greek hodos
. It seems to me to be more natural in this context than way.
Several of the translations have "on the way," which at least to me suggests "while they were going along," and not "at an ambush on the road," which seems to be what the Greek has in mind. One translation includes the ambush but omits both the road and the way, saying "as he traveled to Jerusalem."
Genesis 18:16-33, Way – figurative (04/05/21)
Last week we saw that way
is often used literally, just as you or I would talk about taking a certain road to get somewhere. This week we'll see the same words used figuratively, as we would say when we talk about someone who looks like "ten miles of bad road." We don't (usually) mean that he's got rough pavement and a center stripe, but rather that he's tired, hungry, and dirty, or even that she's lived a hard life, and it shows. It is in this latter sense – how you have lived or should live your life – that the Bible usually uses way
figuratively. Just as in English, the same word can be used either way. (MwaHaha!)
, see the archive. If this passage isn't the basis for the Jewish minyan
, it should be.
2 Samuel 22:1, 7-33, Way – figurative (04/06/21)
As you know, "psalm" just means "sacred song," and not all psalms are in the book of Psalms. In this song of David from the book of 2 Samuel, as in most of the psalms and prophecy, we see couplets: David says just about every twice, in slightly different words.
For who is God, besides Yahweh? Who is a rock, besides our God?
When you see this pattern, you know you are reading Hebrew poetry.
This psalm is 50 verses long, so I excerpted the part that has our study word, way
, three times. You can see for yourself that it's the same Hebrew word, derek
, that we've been seeing, but there's really no way to read any of these three usages literally. I didn't find any of them translated road
, but for vs. 22 I did find law
(!) and other, freer renderings such as I do what you want
and I have obeyed him
. The latter two are just as accurate as kept YHWH's ways
, because when used figuratively, way
is talking about behavior.
1 Kings 16:15-28, Way – figurative (04/07/21)
Shortly after the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam alienated the ten northern tribes that had been united with the two southern tribes under the reigns of David and Solomon. The northern tribes chose their own king, Jeroboam, who made a politically savvy but theologically disastrous move: he made a couple of golden calves and set them in two shrines in the north. This way his people didn't have to go to Jerusalem, where they faced the "danger" of rejoining the southern kingdom. You can read all about it in 1 Kings 11 – 13. Setting up these idolatrous shrines was the "sin of Jeroboam." Worshiping at and maintaining the shrines was "walking in the way of Jeroboam." I've always thought it was a little unfair to blame Zimri for walking in the way of Jeroboam, since he surely didn't have time to tear down the shrines during his one-week term of office, but probably he had been worshiping at them before.
Proverbs 2:1-15, 3:5-18, Way – figurative (04/08/21)
I hope you are checking your paper Bibles to see how they are translating the Hebrew and Greek road signs. Depending on your translations,* there's a chance you won't even recognize Proverbs 2:8. For example, the Good News has "He protects those who treat others fairly, and guards those who are devoted to him" – no path, no way, not even a road. It's a good translation, though. The King James Version has been pretty consistent (so far!) in rendering derek
, but take a look at path
, where we find it for three different Hebrew words in six occurrences. Below is an excerpt from the World English Bible.
2:6 For Yahweh gives wisdom. Out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.
7 He lays up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity;
8 that he may guard the orakh/paths of justice, and preserve the derek/way of his saints.
9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good mawgal/path.
10 For wisdom will enter into your heart. Knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will watch over you. Understanding will keep you,
12 to deliver you from the derek/way of evil, from the men who speak perverse things;
13 who forsake the orakh/paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;
14 who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the perverseness of evil;
15 who are crooked in their derek/ways, and wayward in their mawgal/paths.
3:5 Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your derek/ways acknowledge him, and he will make your orakh/paths straight.
7 Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Fear Yahweh, and depart from evil.
The first few chapters of Proverbs are my favorite. They are all about the discipline and rewards of acquiring wisdom and understanding of the ways of God. You're probably thinking, "Well of course she
thinks that's important!" and you're probably right.
* Because by this time I expect you've got more than one.
Luke 20:19-26; Acts 18:24-28, Way – figurative (04/09/21)
Before Christianity was called Christianity (Acts 11:26), and for some time thereafter, it was called the Way. In Greek this is hodos
, which is the same word we saw last Thursday and Friday with the literal meaning of way
. This idea of your behavior in life as a "way," or "path," or "road," is one that we even use in English. I suspect that we got it from the Bible, because it is an ancient Eastern idea, as we've been seeing in the biblical texts. Tao
– which is even more Eastern and probably even more ancient than the Bible – is defined by Wikipedia as "a Chinese word signifying the 'way,' 'path,' 'route,', 'road' or sometimes more loosely 'doctrine,' 'principle' or 'holistic beliefs.' It occurs to me that I could have started with that definition on Monday and taken the rest of this week off.
If you know of non-Indo-European languages other than Chinese that have this same kind of dual usage for way
, maybe from Africa or the Americas, let me know. That would be really interesting.
Judges 21:1-25, Highway – Literal (04/12/21)
My grandma (and probably yours, too) used to say, "If you're in a hole, stop digging!" The Israelites didn't listen to their grandmas. After killing all but 600 men out of the whole tribe of Benjamin and swearing an oath not to provide any wives for them, the other tribes feel sad that there are only eleven tribes left. What to do, what to do? Oh – here's an idea! Let's kill a bunch more
people, leaving only the marriageable virgins alive, and give them to Benjamin! Oops, not enough virgins to go around. Oo, oo! Let's add kidnapping and rape to the slaughter! And let's blame God! (vs.15). The moral of the story is, "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did that which was right in his own eyes." It was this state of anarchy that led to the appointment of the first king of Israel, Saul.
Apparently the Hebrew word mesillaw
is very close to the English word highway
. Occasionally it's translated path
, although it comes from another Hebrew word that can mean "mound up" or "raise up," so I think high way
is probably closer to the mark.
1 Samuel 6:1-14, , Highway – Literal (04/13/21)
Did you ever see the movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark?" According to that movie, not to mention the Bible, the ark is a holy and dangerous object. The Philistines found out just how dangerous the ark is when they captured it in battle and took it back home. Plagues immediately started breaking out in all their cities, and they wisely decided to send it back. They hooked up some cows to a wagon, put the ark in the wagon, and sent it back. The cows took the highway
from the land of the Philistines to the land of the Jews, which was the most direct route, just like most of our highways today. The current location of the ark is unknown.
If you want a summary of the whole story, here's the answer to an earlier reader question
2 Samuel 20:1-13, Highway – Literal (04/14/21)
You know that I'm always telling you to read at least 10 verses before and after whatever you are studying. Sometimes that isn't enough. Notice that today's reading starts at the beginning of a chapter, but nothing makes any sense on its own. Sheba's declaration is a response to the argument at the end of the previous chapter between the northern ten tribes and the southern tribe of Judah (2 Samuel 19:41-43). The reason David no longer had relations with his concubines is way back in 2 Samuel 16:21-22, when Absalom publicly raped these women, defying both his father David and the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:8, 15). David is willing to forgive and forget Amasa's allegiance to Absalom (2 Samuel 17:25), but David's general Joab isn't, and he kills him. All that brings us to a dead body in the middle of the highway
, which causes a traffic jam, just as it would today. (You may roll your eyes and groan.)
2 Kings 18:13-25, 19:1-7, Highway – Literal (04/15/21)
I tend to blame the Babylonians for looting all the silver and gold from the Temple when they sacked Jerusalem and took the Jews into the Exile around 538 B.C. They took whatever they could find, certainly; however, we see that King Hezekiah of Judah had already taken quite a bit of the treasure of the Temple and given it to the Assyrians around 700 B.C. The Assyrians besieged Jerusalem anyway. They stood outside the walls and disparaged the Judean alliance with Egypt, but then they went on to mock God (2 Kings 18:31-35). God intervened on behalf of the Jews. Meantime, the Assyrian army had been standing beside the highway
near Hezekiah's tunnel
Proverbs 16:17; Isaiah 19:17-25, Highway – Figurative and Prophetic (04/16/21)
You probably are familiar with the "LORD of Hosts." The World English Bible translates this as "Yahweh of Armies." We learned that YHWH
is the unpronounceable and unpronounced name of God, and that Yahweh is a guess about how it might have been said several thousand years ago, before the Jews stopped saying it out loud. Readers of Hebrew automatically substitute "Adonai," which means "Lord," so many Bibles have "LORD" in place of "YHWH." And hosts are armies. So "Yahweh of Armies" may look a little strange, but it is just a different way of saying "LORD of Hosts."
is sometimes used figuratively, as we saw earlier with way
. In Proverbs 16:17, we find highway
expressing the idea of pattern of behavior
, and in fact it's used in parallel with way
in the second half of the verse. Prophecy is less straightforward. What Isaiah seems to be driving at is reconciliation between Israel, Egypt and Assyria, along with repentance and turning to God on the part of the Egyptians and Assyrians. That would take a lot of reconciling and repenting on the part of those three nations; maybe that's why Isaiah uses highway
instead of way
, although that's a wild guess on my part.
Numbers 22:15-35, Path – mostly figurative, although this one is literal (04/19/21)
The writers and compilers of the Bible were sometimes working with ancient stories whose eye-witnesses were long gone. Sometimes these stories don't make sense to me, and I doubt they made sense to the writers and compilers, either. It is a measure of their honesty that they just put the stories in the way they had them, rather than trying to "improve" them. The story of Balaam and his donkey has some puzzling bits. I'm fine with the idea of a talking donkey, but why does God tell Balaam in vs. 20 to go with the men and then get angry in vs. 22 because he went? Why is God threatening in vss. 32-33 to kill Balaam for having gone, and then telling Balaam in vs. 35 to keep going?
Here's my approach. First, God's message of salvation is 100% clear in the Bible; therefore, anything that's really confusing probably isn't important to salvation, and I don't have to worry about it. And second, when I see something like this story, I take it as an indication that the biblical writers were as honest as they could be in reporting what happened or what they had been told had happened.
This passage also has good examples of the difficulties of translation. In the World English Bible, derek
is used for both way
, and both derek
are used for path.
In other translations, you may see road.
I'm not even going to mention vs. 34, where Balaam says he sinned because he didn't know God was watching, because people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
Psalms 25:1-22, Path – mostly figurative (04/20/21)
In this lament, David asks for protection, instruction, and forgiveness. David asks these things, not because he is deserving, but because they are consistent with God's power and goodness.
"Path," like "way," is often used figuratively to mean "habits of behavior." (Not always, of course, because yesterday we read about a physical path or way that Balaam was riding along. Derek
was one of the words we see today, but we are on a new orakh
) Verse 4 is a good example of what we expect from Hebrew poetry: parallel ideas and words with similar sounds and related meanings. The idea of "Show me your ways" is nearly identical to "Teach me your paths." You can almost always see this poetic form in translation. Derek
have similar sounds; this you usually won't be able to see in translation, although occasionally there will be a footnote.
Proverbs 4:10-15; Isaiah 59:1-8, Path – mostly figurative (04/21/21)
Both "way" and "path" are often used figuratively in Proverbs and the prophets to mean "customary behavior." Notice what Isaiah says: when we are separated from God, it's because we are the ones who took the wrong path, not God. "Your sins have hidden his face from you."
I was just about to say that the World English Bible, at least, seems to be pretty consistent in translating derek
, and then I came to Isaiah 59:8, where it's translated both way
in the same half verse. Meantime, today we see path
four times, translating four different Hebrew words. If you think that's a lot of words for the same thing, just think about all the paths, tracks, trails, pathways, walkways, sidewalks, footpaths, etc., you have traveled in your life. Translation is a tough business, but sometimes I wonder if they couldn't use a good thesaurus.
Excerpts from the World English Bible:
Proverbs 4:11 I have taught you in the derek/way of wisdom. I have led you in straight magal/paths.
Acts 13:1-12, Path – mostly figurative (04/22/21)
14 Don’t enter into the orakh/path of the wicked. Don’t walk in the derek/way of evil men.
Isaiah 59:7 Their feet run to evil, and they hurry to shed innocent blood.
Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity. Desolation and destruction are in their mesillaw/paths.
8 They don’t know the derek/way of peace; and there is no justice in their magal/ways.
They have made crooked nawtheeb/paths for themselves; whoever goes in them doesn’t know peace.
In the NT, "path" is found mainly in John the Baptist's quote from Isaiah and in the Parable of the Sower, and we've all trod those paths many times. Today and tomorrow we'll look at two other passages that may be a little less familiar.
I've never thought that Paul's action in putting a curse on Elymas the Mage (because the word is the same as for the magi of the Christmas story) showed Paul in his best light. Really, how many converts are you going to make by being mean to people, even if they deserve it? Don't you think that being good
to people who don't deserve it would be more effective? The proconsul became a believer, but I suspect that was in spite of Paul's example and not because of it.
Romans 3:1-8, Path – mostly figurative (04/23/21)
Nowhere is it any more important to read the whole context than in the letters of Paul. Paul loves to set up a straw man in order to knock it over. If you read too little of the context, you’re apt to take the straw man for what he’s actually saying, instead of its opposite. In Romans 3, he knocks it over right away by saying, “God forbid!” or “By no means!” or “May it never be!” depending on your translation. Sometimes it takes him a chapter or two to knock over his straw man, so be careful.
Take a look at Romans 3:16-17, where our Greek friend hodos
is translated both path and way. I understand why the English Standard Version does this: in high school we all learned that if we used the same word twice in a sentence, the teacher will spill some red ink on us. In consequence, if we read
the same word twice in a sentence, it’s jarring. Even so, this is the kind of thing that drives me and my study buddy nuts.
Jeremiah 37:21, Street (mostly literal) (04/26/21)
"Chutzpah" is a wonderful Yiddish word for brazenness or gall. Even though King Zedekiah and his servants predate Yiddish, they don't predate chutzpah. The king and his men pay no attention to the word of the LORD by the prophet Jeremiah, which gets the nation into trouble. Then, when the trouble arrives (2 Kings 25:1), the king sends and asks Jeremiah to pray for him! Not getting the answer they want, they beat Jeremiah and put him in jail. Then the king comes to him again and puts him in another
prison. People of God, if you don't want the real answer, don't ask a real prophet!
Anyway, Jeremiah's daily ration of bread comes from the khoots
of the bakers. The custom of having all the car dealers located on the same street has a long history.
Nehemiah 8:1, Street (mostly literal) (04/27/21)
Wouldn't it be great if we could get all the people together to stand in the street and listen intently to a reading of the Bible? Or the Constitution of the United States? The Law that Ezra read to the people was probably the first five books of our Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy. In many ways, the Law of Moses combines the basics of our Bible and our Constitution. It lays out both God's theological rules for holiness and salvation and
God's legal rules for civil society. The people rejoiced because they had such a great Law, and they wept because they hadn't known about it or kept it up until now. Pay special attention to vs. 8, which is the purpose of these study tips.
What was our Hebrew word for street
yesterday? Oh yeah, khoots
. Today our Hebrew word for street
Acts 9:1-19, Street (mostly literal) (04/28/21)
We've all read this passage many times, and it's fairly straightforward, so let's just take a minute to remind ourselves that the Greek kurios
what English means by lord
. It can be a polite form of address, "m'lord" or "sir." It can be a reference to one's boss or overlord, as in "master" or "the lord of the manor." It can mean "Lord," as a reference to Jesus. Or it can mean LORD, as a replacement for the sacred name of God. So just because someone – like Paul in vs. 5 – calls Jesus kurios
, that doesn't necessarily mean that he thinks Jesus is Lord. Paul here, and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:11), are almost certainly just being polite; therefore, "sir."
We've switched from the OT to the NT, and consequently from Hebrew to Greek. We aren't surprised to see a different word for street
. Are we allowed to be surprised that the Greek hrumay
isn't the same word, platos
, that the rabbis used to translate the Hebrew rekhobe
when they rendered Nehemiah 8:1 in the Greek Old Testament? Maybe not; think about the English street, drive, avenue, lane, and boulevard. Anyway, I love "Straight Street." Doesn't it imply to you that all of the other streets in Damascus were crooked?
Acts 12:1-17, Street (mostly literal) (04/29/21)
I'm sure you've read this passage from Acts before. Have you noticed what a dangerous felon Peter must have been? Four guards per shift, four shifts per day, and Peter was chained between two of them! What was Herod expecting that Peter and the other disciples would do that might require such measures? I'm fairly sure he wasn't
expecting what happened, when Peter mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the night.
Wow! For two days in a row we've had the same Greek word for the same English word: hrumay
Revelation 11:1-12, 21:21-23, 22:1-5, Street (mostly literal) (04/30/21)
is a coded message to Christians who are being actively persecuted. Unfortunately, 1900 years later, we're a little hazy on the code. Anyone who claims to understand every detail of Revelation, or who applies it to any nation or individual after roughly 150 A.D., is probably smoking something. The Lamb is Jesus; everybody agrees on that. The number twelve represents the twelve tribes of Israel, and hence the people of God. We know from 1 John 1:5 that God is light, so the message that no lamp other than God is needed isn't really coded at all. After that, things are interpreted differently depending on who you read. The beast may be the Roman emperor. The holy city in 11:2 seems to me to be Jerusalem; the great city in 11:8 where the witnesses are crucified is most likely Rome, and the City of God is most likely heaven. I'm guessing that the two witnesses of 11:3 are Moses and Elijah, given that their powers (vs. 6) are those of the historical Moses and Elijah, and they disappear into a cloud (vs. 12), as at the transfiguration (Mark 9). You are perfectly free to decide that I'm smoking something.
Good news: the plateia
in all three cases seems to be an ordinary, non-symbolic street, aside from one of them being made out of pure gold.
Matthew 20:1-16, Marketplace (05/03/21)
We've all read the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard many times, and we all know that the point of the story is that our gifts from God can be all out of proportion to our labor in the kingdom or when we started working. Although this parable is typical in having only one theological point, it's also typical in showing us a little slice of first-century life. How did you go about getting a job? What was a typical wage? Were people then just like us
, or what? (I know I'd be with the first, grumbling group, and not with the last, grateful group! You would probably be more gracious.) The agora
was a multipurpose open space. People went there to look for work and to hire as well as to sell and to buy.
Mark 12:28-40, Marketplace (05/04/21)
I suppose as long as there have been human societies, there have been places that we go to see and – even more importantly! – to be seen. When the scribes wanted everyone to see and admire them, they went to the agora
If you want everyone to see and admire you, I suggest that you love God and love your neighbor. That will make the papers.
Luke 7:18-35, Marketplace (05/05/21)
We've all read this passage many times, so I'll repeat a couple of things I've said before. First, anybody can say he's the Messiah, and Jesus knows that and knows that John knows that. Not everybody can perform the signs of the Messiah, so after John's disciples watch what Jesus does
, he tells them to report that
to John. (In the same way, anybody can say
he's a Christian ....) Second, I was always puzzled about vss. 31-32 until I read John Wesley's commentary explaining that this generation is being compared to the children who won't dance or mourn – they aren't happy no matter what – and not to the children who call to them. Commentaries can be really helpful.
In addition to buying and selling, apparently people played, danced, and mourned in the agora
Acts 16: 9-24, Marketplace, (05/06/21)
When you're reading Acts, keep your eye peeled for the "we passages," such as Acts 16:9-17. Luke was a companion of Paul, and often when he's writing about something that happened on their travels, he begins reporting in the first person. Sometimes it even sounds as if he's working from his own journal, as in vss. 11-12. Of course, most of the time in Luke and Acts, he's working from written records, such as the book of Mark, or occasionally from what seems to be his record of interviews, as in the passages about Mary. All of this is fully in line with what he says about his work in Luke 1:1-4.
Court cases were sometimes heard in the agora
Matthew 6:1-13, Corner (05/07/21)
You may remember the song, "Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by." The hypocrites liked to pray standing on the gonia
so that all the girls going by could watch them.
We've come to the end of the road. By now, you should be wondering, "Why does she keep talking about this word and that word being translated this way, that way, and the other way?" That's an important question. The important answer is this. The same types of variation we've seen with these words for the relatively unimportant topic of roads are also found for more important topics, like pistis
. Or sozo
. Or agape
. There's an old joke about the Hopping Baptists, who read a misprint of 1 Corinthians 13:13. There's a newer joke about the abbot who was found sobbing over his Bible. When the monks asked what was wrong, he cried out, "The word is 'celebrate
'!" Never, ever
be fooled into thinking that you – or anyone else – can read one verse in one translation and use it to develop a whole doctrine or theology. Read the context, because that will usually clarify an ambiguous word. Read at least two unrelated translations, because translation is a tough job. Read the whole Bible, because God's loving message of salvation will always be clear.
Copyright 2021 and 2022 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
St. John's Music Ministries now has a YouTube channel, bringing you free concerts and choral music. Check it out!
Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and
11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. Casual worship services are held Sundays at
9:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center.
are held monthly on the second Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. St. John’s feels especially called to the worship of God and to the service of our neighbors through our music program
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This website is supported in part by the generosity of Mrs. J. Jordan.