Category Archives: Apostolic Writings

John 16:12-15: The Helper guides into ‘all truth,’ speaking directly from God

“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:12–15 NAS95)

Yeshua taught many things about the Kingdom of God, but now the close students had to understand many things. John, at the end of his gospel, said: 

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NASB)

We can wish that John had more paper, more storage and had written more of Yeshua’s words down for us. What was said was what needed to be said. What else we need to know is what was written down. Part of the Spirit’s role is to help us remember what was said and apply it. 

You probably know people in your life who know the word of God better than you know and don’t believe a word of it. What do you do with the Word of God?

As you read through the Scriptures you start to notice lots of repetition, not just a simple repeat of words but also repeat of themes. 

In a time when possessing one’s own written copy of the scriptures was very expensive, students would memorize large portions of scripture so they would have it with them at any time. 

The most effective communication ― transmission of a message and motivating action ― is repetitive. 

Many passages in the Bible are repetitive ― for a reason. Repetition helps with memorization.

Chiastic literary structure pairs lines or thoughts in one section of a passage (group of verses, chapter or group of verses) with lines later on. The crux, or chi (Greek letter X, pronounced kai), of a chiastic passage is the line not repeated or the last line. There are several common chiastic patterns: 

  • A B C D E D’ C’ B’ A’ [thought E is the point]
  • A B C D E A’ B’ C’ D’ [thought E is the message]
  • A B C A’ B’ C’ [thought C is the message]

An excellent example of a chiastic structure is in John 1:1–14: The crux is Jn. 1:9; the “true Light” had come into the world.

Chiasmus of Revelation

Another example in passing is the book of Revelation. There are many allusions, or references back to the writings of the Prophets. There’s a giant chiastic structure in Revelation. The entire book is a chiastic structure, but there are smaller ones embedded throughout the book, too. The crux of Revelation is judgment; that is the “punchline.” God is going to take down the one who rules this world and he will not get up again. He is going down forever. 

A (prologue, Rev. 1:1–8) 
      B (seven assemblies, 1:10–3:22) 
        C (seven seals, 4:1–8:1) 
           D (seven trumpets, 8:2–11:18) 
               E (judgment, 11:19–14:20) 
           D’ (seven plagues, 15:1–16:21) 
              E’ (fall of Babylon, 17:1–19:10) 
        C’ (millennium, 19:11–21:8) 
     B’ (new Yerushalayim, 21:19–22:9) 
A’ (epilogue, 22:8–17)

Lessons on chiasma

When you see things repeated, pay attention. There are messianic themes throughout the Scriptures, not just in the lives of certain proto-Messianic figures such as Joseph or King David but even in physical places. Certain places have Messianic teachable moments as well including Shiloh. Shiloh is an object lesson that God had put His name in a particular place but He also removed His name from that place when they didn’t want to be led by God anymore. 

Another common pattern in Scripture is a pattern called parallelism. They are a double-barreled one-liner. You see it a lot in poetry. Hebrew parallelism helps explain the lesson via an “in other words” device. It’s common in Psalms:

“[A] I will meditate on Your precepts [A’] And regard Your ways. [B] I shall delight in Your statutes; [B’] I shall not forget Your word.” (Psa. 119:15–16)

Meditation on God’s Law involves observing, i.e., studying, how God acts. “Delighting” in God’s Law involves keeping it front of your mind. Delighting in God’s word means that we do not forget it. It’s not just a smile on your face, it’s a smile that actually does something good.

“[A] Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? [A’] And who may stand in His holy place? [B] He who has clean hands [B’] and a pure heart, [C] Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood [C’] And has not sworn deceitfully.” (Psa. 24:3–4)

“Clean hands” means a pure “heart,” i.e., thoughts and resulting behavior. Such purity of thought means that what one says and how one acts is really what’s in one’s heart.

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” (Luke 6:45)

A pure heart is when one’s thoughts, behavior, and speech are pure. 

Lessons on parallelism

  • Context in Scripture can help us check our views and understand difficult passages.

Context in life can help us not lose hope or become self-absorbed.

Prophetic figures or references to historical events call the reader to reflect on the past, learn from the past to understand the present and future.

Messianic figures: Yosef, Moshe, Aharon, Shimshon (Samson, partly), David

Prophetic figures: Mitsraim (Egypt), Edom, Babylon

Lesson: Reflection on what God has done in our lives and in the world can help us find peace with whatever we’re experiencing in the present and “the meaning of life.”

The Helper would bring to mind and explain Yeshua’s testimony about the Kingdom of God. 

The apostles came to understand how what Yeshua did fulfilled ― pleroo, i.e., filled up, made complete ― God’s “preview of the Coming Attraction” through the prophets.

You can see the Helper’s work in passages in the Gospels that include reference to reflection on what was written in the TaNaKh (Torah, Prophets and Writings, i.e., Hebrew scriptures of the Bible).

The role of the Helper in communicating God’s instructions and intentions first happened around the time God gave the Testimony (10 Commandments) at Sinai and when Israel was entering the Land.

Yeshua said three times that the Helper would “take of Mine” (John 16:14, also v. 15) and give it to the Eleven. What was being transferred was what the Spirit “heard” from the Father. A similar transference happened with Moshe on the approach to Sinai:

“So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD. Also, he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and stationed them around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again.” (Num. 11:24–25)

The Spirit that was on Moshe would be on the 70, too, ordained to bear the burden of fielding the concerns (gripes) of the people, so it all wouldn’t fall on Moshe alone (Num. 11:17). Moshe couldn’t carry the burden of all the complaints of the people on his shoulders, so he appointed 70 elders to share the work. 

You see that later in the book of Numbers that Yeshua ben Nun (Joshua) was ordained similarly:

“So the LORD said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and commission him in their sight. You shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him.’ ” (Num. 27:18–20)

It’s great to see this. Notice that it says that God’s Spirit already was “in” him, rather than “on” him as it was for the 70 elders in Numbers 11. You see this later in the life of King Shaul as well. He was filled with the spirit but it didn’t remain. The Spirit was replaced with a bad spirit and no longer heard God speaking to him. 

Yeshua ben Nun didn’t just receive power, but authority as well. “Take of what is Mine and give it to you.” The Spirit is to lead them into all truth. It doesn’t mean that whatever that pops into our heads is the truth. Rather, the Spirit is there to help us recall what God has said before. When we need them to call to account for the hope within us, the Spirit gives us the words to say. Our prayer should be what we what the Apostle Ya’akob framed our need for God’s Spirit as part of the personal transformation promised in the “New Deal” (New Covenant) foretold (Jer. 31:31–34; Ezek. 36:25–26):

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jas. 1:2–8)

Yeshua warned them that as they came after Him, they will come after them. Yeshua is telling them they will not be left helpless. They will be given the words to say and the wisdom to know what they mean. As God teaches us of what the Kingdom of God is really like, we can see the lessons in the parallelisms. One phrase is defined and clarified by the next. 

Wisdom isn’t self-absorption and navel-gazing, which are destructive. 

God wants us to ask for wisdom, how to understand the Kingdom of God vs. the world around us.

We always need to look at the context of a verse when it baffles us. Looked at previous verses, previous chapters and even read the entire book. Sometimes you have to take a 30,000 view of it. 

Why are these chaisms there? There is a big picture that we can’t see. For example in Hebrews 11, those heroes did not see everything but they trusted that God could see that they were going to end well. If you can see beyond your front bumper, you might get hit. You have to look beyond where you are to see where you are going. Just “feeling good” isn’t a good way to live. 

God has not left us alone, He has given us His Helper, not just for the deep groaning but to give us wisdom and understanding. 

The things related to the Torah are the baseline, that’s the basic requirements. You want an “attaboy” for the bottom rung? If you want to be more than a servant, if you want to be Yeshua’s friend, you need to want to know God’s heart about the matter, just God’s rules on a matter. You have to long for a heart change, a motivational change that goes beyond our thoughts into our deeds and our hearts. Who are you when no one is looking? Who are you when someone depends on you? 

What the Spirit does for us is to remind us of what Messiah Yeshua did for us on the cross. He bore the burden of our guilt, absorbing it and unloading it onto His Son. 

Because of that God wants us to be new people, not chained to our old lives. We are all trying to leave the old man or old woman behind. God has not left us alone. We can call out at anytime. That is what is great about prayer and meditation on God’s word. 

There are people who know the truth, they know the Bible better than you do yet they don’t want to do it. We can only pray that ranks of those who don’t care shrinks as the lies are removed and the liar, haSatan, is taken away. 

Our time to respond to God is not determined by the calendar. Everyone of us has a day to decide if we want to enter His rest, that day is called today. We are to enter and remain in His rest, not as tourists but as citizens. 

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. 

John 15:25–16:11: Tag-team Comforters of Israel

Apostle Yokhanan frequently describes Yeshua’s role as Advocate and the Spirit’s role as Helper, particularly in John 14–16. The gospels of Mark and Matthew use the term a couple of times. 

The Helper not only will remind believers of Yeshua’s words but also fully bring prepare them to  comfort. 

The Greek word for helper in Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7 (cf. Mt. 10:19f; Mk. 13:11; Lk. 12:11f) is παράκλητος paraklētos (G3875), derived from the word παρακαλέω parakaleō (G3870).

God’s Parakletos for Israel foretold

In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the “Old Testament”), parakletos is used for the Hebrew word נחַם nocham (H5164, repentance) and its verb root נָחַם nacham (H5162, to breathe deeply or to sigh out of a deep sorrow). This is the kind of deep sorrow, a sorrow too deep for words that the Holy Spirit translates for us and lifts up to the Father. 

In the intertestamental literature (between the time of the writing of Malachi and Matthew), the name Menakhem, or “instrument of nacham,” is another name for the Mashiakh (Messiah, Christ). The Menakhem would be the consolation of Israel. The prophets promised return from exile(s) and foretold the coming of the Mashiakh. This idea of the Menakhem was not just someone who would come in on a horse but also one who would take away one’s distress and bring comfort. 

The Comforter is also an Advocate who speaks to us before the Father and the Messiah also is an advocate who brings comfort to His people. You see this mirrored in Revelation, when the Menakhem will take away the sorrow and there will be no more distress or anguish. 

Just as God breathed into man to become living being and to become a “reborn” person in the Kingdom of God, God “sighs” over the agony of those who suffer.

According to Scripture, both the Mashiakh and the Spirit of God act as “the consolation of Israel.”

Hated without a cause

Yeshua returned to the message of God’s Helper ― παράκλητος / מְנַחֵם. 

“They hated me without a cause.” (Jn. 15:25)

Those who persecute Yeshua and His disciples hate God, Who sent the Messiah.

The power of God displayed through Yeshua’s words, miracles and actions were in line with Messianic prophecy testify, and the Spirit confirms these by reminding us of them and putting them into the context of the plan of the Kingdom of God. The Jewish leadership were well-versed in Torah and had memorized large portions of Scripture so knowledgeable speakers could quote just a small snipped of Scripture and the hearers who were very learned would understand the entire context of the snipped quote. 

Yeshua is warning His Apostles that just as people hated Him, they will hate them too. 

This is a quotation from Psalm 35:

“Do not let those who are wrongfully my enemies rejoice over me; Nor let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously. For they do not speak peace, But they devise deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land. They opened their mouth wide against me; They said, ‘Aha, aha, our eyes have seen it!'”(Psa. 35:19–21; cf. 69:4)

What is “winking maliciously”? This is “narrowing the eyes” or pinching your eyes together. There’s a lot of angst and anger in the expression. It’s an outward sign of aggression. The Hebrew euphemism is שֹׂנְאַי חִנָּם sheyn’ai khinnam = hating graciously, i.e., freely, without cost. 

What is “hating graciously”? The Talmud gives us an insight into that phrase. Sages reflecting on the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 also noted how “free hate” was a big problem for that generation. This hatred was like an illness eating away at the heart of the people of Israel:

“Why was the Second Sanctuary destroyed, seeing that in its time they occupied themselves with studying Torah, obeying mitzvot and practicing charity? Because in it prevailed hatred without a cause. That fact serves to teach you: gratuitous hatred weighs in the balance against the three cardinal sins of idolatry, fornication, and murder.” (Yoma 1.3.5.R–S (9b))

Yeshua touched on this issue when He rebuked them saying: 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23 NASB)

You see this in the kangaroo court nature of the proceedings against Yeshua, Stephen and later the Apostle Paul. The Jewish court was not concerned about justice and doing what was right. They did not protect their fellow Jew but threw them to the Roman wolves.

You see this also in the story of King Saul and David. Saul knew that he had sinned so egregiously that his crown and anointing was given to David. Saul had been chosen as the leader but he was deviating from God’s instructions. God stopped talking to Saul and that pain of that silence was devastating to Saul but he took it out on David. He even tried to break into God’s back door by speaking with mediums. 

David wrote Ps. 35 during this period of turmoil. 

Israel had stopped listening to God during the Maccabean period moving into the First Century. There was a revival when the people returned to the Land after exile in Babylon but they quickly devolved after that. The people stopped listening so God stopped talking. The prophets who were heralding the consolation of Israel, the Messiah, were ignored. 

The Sages shifted their views in what the Messiah was supposed to be to the point where today there are many different views of Messiah but none of them match the truth. 

You can understand why Yeshua is quoting Psalm 35 here. The majority of the leaders thought they were doing the will of God by helping Saul chasing down David. 

Spirit convicts on sin, righteousness, judgment

The three convictions by the Spirit upon the world will be “sin and righteousness and judgment” (Jn. 16:8). 

They didn’t want to listen to God or ask for God’s help to understand what was coming. They didn’t want clarity from God. There were a few who reached out to Yeshua such as Nicodemus. There were also a group of priests we read about in the Book of Acts reached out too, but they were not the majority. 

Most of the Jewish leadership heard the words of God about the coming Menakhem–Mashiakh, but they didn’t want to listen or ask for God’s help ― Helper ― to discover and recognize God at work. They were more concerned about the Romans taking away their position than they were about knowing their Messiah. They hated Messiah Yeshua without cause. 

“and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;” (John 16:10 NAS95)

Dependence on visual signs of God’s power at work can be a roadblock to trust in God.

Yeshua said to a royal official from Capernaum who asked Him to come heal his sick son: “ ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.’ ” (John 4:48) He trusted Yeshua’s word without Yeshua being physically present with his son. That fait was rare. 

You also see that Yeshua had “breathed ― passed along ― the Spirit to 10 closest students, Thomas the Twin came in but wanted lots of physical evidence of Yeshua’s resurrection. On Yeshua’s visit to them eight days later, Thomas confesses not only the truth of Yeshua’s resurrection but Yeshua’s identity as God. Thomas didn’t even touch Yeshua to confirm. Yeshua told him: 

“Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.'” (Jn. 20:29)

This is the reason that Yeshua, the Parakletos had to leave and the other Parakletos had to come. They needed more boldness and more power now that Yeshua would not be physically present on the earth. 

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (1Pet. 1:6–9)

This is why Yeshua had to leave. We see the immense, horrific trials that people who hate God freely do to those who trust in God, yet they trust God with their lives. For example, the martyrs who have been butchered by ISIS in Syria, Libya and Iraq are not throwing their lives away but are making a proclamation of God’s greatness. 

It is not random that the Apostle Yokhanan uses the same word to describe both Yeshua and the Holy Spirit. The people kept demanding a sign and Yeshua said the only sign you will get is the sign of Jonah. The people of Nineveh were told that 40 days and you will be dead. They repented so much that they even made their animals repent. This foreign nation had more trust in God than the nation the prophet Jonah came from.

They had a prophet Yokhanan the Baptist, they had Yeshua, they had the Apostles going two-by-two throughout the land. They had a chance to repent and did not take it. 

Everyone has a bias. There is no such thing as objectivity and detached. But you can test and see if your bias is valid or not. You can have a hypothesis but as the experiment goes, do you skew your readings to fit your hypothesis or can you acknowledge the hypothesis is wrong? 

Even those who have no fleshly connection to Yeshua can put their trust in God because of the Holy Spirit. 

“concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (Jn. 16:11) Light had come, so darkness (places unlit) must run:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (Jn. 1:1–5; cf. spiritual things being spiritually discerned, 1Cor. 2:14)

The English word translated as comprehend is καταλαμβάνω katalambanō in Greek (G2638), which means to lay hold of so as to make one’s own or to seize. That’s why some translations use overcome or overpower.

People shrink from the light because they don’t want their deeds to be exposed. The ruler of this world brings darkness and confusion but in the light, it goes away because of the tag-team of Messiah Yeshua and the Holy Spirit. 

You become a new person with a new heart. It’s not a matter of a list of do’s and don’ts but God changes your inclinations so that you don’t want to do what is wrong. Yeshua and the Holy Spirit knows our deepest anguish. Yeshua lived it Himself and the Holy Spirit experiences it in us. That is why the Holy Spirit can translate our deepest groaning to God for us. 

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Jeff and Tammy. 

John 15:16-24: Bear ‘fruit’ via agape love for one another

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another.” (John 15:16–17 NASB; cf. Luke 12:51-53; 1 Cor. 1:10-13, 11:17-19, 12:24-26; Jude 1:17-21)

This phrase, “whatever you ask of the Father in My name … that you love one another” is a very important phrase to consider. We’ve encountered Yeshua’s phrase “whatever you ask” a couple times before in the Farewell Discourse (Jn. 14:13–14; 15:7) and we will once again before it’s complete (Jn. 16:23).

This points back to the parable of the vine and branches from the beginning of John 15. You know you have healthy vines and they are growing well, and the fruit is good when the members of the congregation chose to esteem each other higher than themselves. 

Sometimes you don’t know if you really esteem someone higher than yourself until you are put to the test. We are commanded to do this, though. It’s not optional but the good new is that it can get easier to highly esteem others as we practice it. We have the Helper to help us because we really need His help to love this way. This is hard and God knows that. 

One way that people can see that God is at work in our assembly is when they can see all of us speaking to each other and about each other in higher esteem than we speak of ourselves. 

One of the greatest “works,” “fruits” or “signs” of the origin of the trust and hope the followers of Yeshua the Mashiakh held would be their and our agapao love ― the choice to consider someone important ― for each other.

True followers agapao each other because they agapao Yeshua and Yeshua them. This is the heart of Yeshua’s command, “… love one another, even as I have loved you…” (John. 13:34; 15:12, 17; 1 John. 2:7; 3:11, 23; 2 John. 5).

We’ll see Yeshua take this command to a deeper level in John 17:

“Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.” (John. 17:11 NASB)

Not only are believers to esteem each other as important the way Yeshua did them ― selflessly ― believers were to do so the way the Father does the Son.

So, believers must be able to work out disagreements in ways that build up the assembly, rather than create divisions.

Yeshua’s rules for conflict resolution in Matthew 18:

  1. Try to settle the matter privately.
  2. Bring a trustworthy and mature witness, and try to settle it privately.
  3. Take it to the assembly, presumably where the leaders will guide the resolution. (Acts 15)

Apostle Paul advises us to never take our matter into the public eye or secular court.

Why? Because we nullify God’s testimony when we fail to get along, when we prefer to take our disagreements to a secular court rather than to each other. We don’t want the hard hammer of the law in our assembly. 

After all, didn’t Yeshua promise that He would bring division? People seem to think that offending people on purpose is to be expected when we follow Yeshua’s command but that is not necessarily the case. 

“Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51–53 NASB)

The word division in this passage is translated from διαμερισμός diamerismos (G1267), which means disunion or dissension.

Other uses of division in the NT are the Greek word σχίσμα schisma (G4978). This the source of our word schism. It literally means a cleft, rip;  metaphorically, a division, dissension (John 7:43; 9:16; 10:19; 1Cor. 1:10; 11:18; 12:25). Heresy creates schisma

There are several texts where the Greek word schisma shows up, many of them are in Paul’s letter of 1Corinthians. There were several sources of schisma in the community. 

“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1Cor. 1:10–13)

We still have this type of schism in the Messianic community today. Everyone listens to a different teacher on the Internet and they argue with each other over which teacher is more educated and superior to the other and whose system for determining or counting this or that is more original to the text. The idea that you can’t be under the same roof with someone who prefers one teacher over another is not in Scripture. That is not  agape love, esteeming others higher than ourselves. 

“But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.” (1Cor. 11:17–19)

Bringing disparate factions together is part of God’s work.

“But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1Cor. 12:24–26)

This goes back to one of the key points of this letter to the Corinthians. They were going out of their way to accept a member who was indulging in a very wicked relationship but they were arguing with each other which teacher was the better teacher. 

“But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, ‘In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.’ These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” (Jude 1:17–21)

Those who cause divisions are “worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.” When you assume that you are smarter, more holy than others in the community, you are separating yourself from that community. 

Rather, Spirit-minded believers are to be אחד ekhad — one — with each other and with God. We’ll see that in Yeshua’s prayer in John 17.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Jeff and Tammy.

John 1:17 and Rom. 3:28: Two-faced scriptures on law and grace?

Some say that the Torah or “Old Testament” is irrelevant, obsolete (or whatever adjective to use) for believers in Yeshua (Jesus) as Savior and often cite certain Bible passages to bolster that claim: The Old Testament was then, the “New Testament” is now.

A recent video teaching in Sean Hilton’s Be a Berean video series — “Mystery of Double-Minded Scriptures on Grace and Law” — compared about two dozen such passages with even more passages from the New Testament that seem to say the opposite.

Continue reading John 1:17 and Rom. 3:28: Two-faced scriptures on law and grace?

John 15:12-25: Friends with God

Keep Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard (Isa. 5:1-14) in the back of your mind as we take a look at John 15:12-25. This parable has a lot of symbolism embedded in it. Let’s define the symbols in this parable. 

  • Well-beloved: YHVH of hosts
  • Vineyard: Israel, men of Yehudah
  • Tower: Safety and Security
  • Grapes: Behavior of the people
  • Wine: Outcome of the people’s behavior
  • Viticulture: Word and Spirit of YHVH
  • Hedge: Protection against invasion
  • Punchline: Conquest will renew Israel’s thirst for YHVH

Israel didn’t want to obey and respect the one who created their nation and took them into the Land, cleared it out and protected it. Since they were not interested in obeying and respecting God, God took His protection away. They were left to protect themselves but there were larger powers in the area: Assyria and Babylon. 

Israel were given over to an insatiable thirst. Israel were to be a nation of priest and a light to the nations but when they didn’t want to do that job anymore, God had to give them a reboot and remind them of why they were called out in the first place. 

In Isaiah, justice was contrasted with murder, righteousness contrasted with oppression, contentment with greed. When they no longer wanted to pursue knowledge of God, the pursued partying, entertainment and drunkenness instead. All they wanted was a good time all the time. This is what dragged them down. If the partying, entertainment and drink are taken away, what are you? When the Israelites were hauled away, what did they have left? Who were they? 

The prophet Daniel also asked the question: Are you going to assimilate with the nations or remain separate? 

When you look at this, you see how Yeshua sets this up. The “reset button” is coming to Israel again and very soon. 

John 15 talks a lot about love, loving others as Yeshua loves us. It’s in the golden rule. John 15:12 and John 15:17 are the book ends to the core of our discussion. 

We first encountered Yeshua’s making personal the “second-greatest commandment” in Jn. 13:34 at the beginning of His “farewell discourse.”

There are four main types of love in the Greek: 

  • ἀγαπάω agapaō (Strong’s lexicon No. G25): it’s a veneration type of love, holding in high esteem. It’s translated as “charity” in some English because you are thinking of the recipient of that love as someone to be lifted up. 
  • φιλέω fileō (G5368): brotherly love
  • στέργω stergo: This is the mutual love of parents and children, love of subjects for a ruler. It’s a master/servant love.
  • ἔρως erōs: This is not word that is used in the Scriptures at all. There’s a reason for that. It is the love between a man and a woman, it’s a craving, a desire, it’s sensual. It is also the type of love that some Greeks had for their deities that is a spiritual love above the physical. This comes from Greek dualism in which the physical was inherently evil and the spiritual was inherently good. The pursuit of the physical became a pursuit of the spiritual. This is why do you not see the word eros in Scripture. 

The only two Greek concepts of love used in Scripture are agape and fileo. Agape is the primary type of love described in scripture, while fileo is more rare. Agape is the type of love that God has for His creation. 

Matthew 5:44 says, “love your enemies.” This is an agape love, esteeming your enemies higher than yourself. Agape is a type of love that you have to consciously do while fileo love is a more emotional response. 1Corinthians 13 is only about the agape love. This is a love that is chosen. 

This is what the people were facing in Isaiah 5. Were the people going to pursue an agape love for their God who brought them into the land and nurtured them into it or were they going to party all the time and pursue physical pleasure? 

“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Friends of God

Agapeo love is a choice to esteem someone higher than yourself. There are a couple of people who are called “Friends of God” which are Abraham and Moses. Let’s explore why they were given that title. 

The account in Genesis 18 of the LORD appearing the Abraham and having lunch with him doesn’t use the Hebrew word most often used for friend, רֵעַ or רֵיעַ  reʿa (H7453). Yet the LORD did meet with him in person, face to face. God revealed His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. God didn’t keep this secret from Him.  

“‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.'” (Gen. 18:17–19)

God spoke to Abraham so plainly that Abraham urged the LORD to consider through mercy by asking Him to reconsider for the sake of 10 people. The prophets and the Apostles saw Abraham as God’s friend

King Yehoshafat (Jehoshaphat) speaks prophetically after prayer and fasting following a rebuke through God’s Spirit: 

“‘Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” (2Chr. 20:7)

We also see Isaiah repeat this as God loving Abraham in the present tense and into the future. 

“‘But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend….’” (Isa. 41:8)

The Apostle James also affirms this:

You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (Jas. 2:22–24)

The Septuagint referred to Abraham as the one God had agapeo for but James uses the fileo word for love. It’s the trust that Abraham had in God’s promises. This is why God was fond of Abraham. James’ message ties this fondness to Abraham’s imputed righteousness through trust in God’s promises.

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15:16)

The vineyard in Isaiah 5 was supposed to produce fruit and be a blessing but it did not produce fruit and did not produce blessings so God had to hit the “reset button” which He did through the Apostles. 

From the vineyard parable of Isaiah 5, we can see that the 12 are being commissioned to continue the task the LORD originally gave Israel: to be a nation of priests and a light to the world about the agape the Creator wants to have with mankind.

We see how God related to Moses. 

“Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex. 33:11)

“ ‘If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. 7 Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; 8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD.’ ” (Num. 12:6–8)

“… no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face …” (Dt. 34:10)

The friends of God are those who trust the promises and testimony of God and want to communicate with God face to face, despite knowing how disastrous that could be for one’s casual observance of God.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.

John 15:1-11: Face to face with the Vine

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”  (John 15:1–2 NASB)

If a branch is not productive, the vineyard owner sends out workers to prune away any branches that are sickly or unproductive. When one prunes a branch, it is removed. It can no longer get nutrients, water, etc. When it no longer abides in the vine, it dies. To live, the branch must remain attached to its source. 

Before we dive into John 15:1-11, let’s read through prophet Isaiah’s parallel parable of the vineyard (Isa. 5:1-5, 7, 13). The “beloved” is the owner of the vineyard, and the vines are the tribe of Judah. The vineyard owner does everything He can so the vines will produce good grapes to make good wine but the fruit is lacking. How are they lacking? 

“Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge;…” (Isaiah 5:13 NASB)

Let’s read Psalm 80, which is a psalm of Asaph. Here the people of Israel are compared to a vine that God removed from Egypt and transplanted in a new land. There’s a refrain that is repeated three time and is amplified and intensified throughout the Psalm. 

“Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” (Psalms 80:3 KJV)

When the heart turns to God, God’s face turns towards the repentant person. When God shines He face, he is showing His favor and salvation. Vines thrive with sunlight and need the sunlight to grow. 

“It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him…the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.” (Exodus 34:29–30, 35 NASB)

Moses was speaking to God face to face and God’s glorious residue remained on Moses’ face even when he left God’s direct presence. The Hebrew word here is קָרַן qaran (Strong’s lexicon No. H7160), which literally means “to display horns.” The mechanical translation of qaran as to have horns in the Latin Vulgate translation led Michaelangelo to depict Moshe has having two horns in the famous statue. Fortunately, the KJV followed the Septuagint and rendered qaran as glory in Exodus 34. Think of it as the light shooting out like rays of light. 

The other important word here is face, which in Hebrew is פָּנִים panim (H6440). The continual petition for God’s “faceshine” on the commonwealth of Israel is embodied in the Aaronic blessing (Nu. 6:24–26). When God’s face is not there, there is no knowledge, no connection anymore.

Have you lost a connection with a high school or elementary school friend and then met them again many years later? The reconnection might have been very awkward because you have grown so far apart over the years that you don’t really know each other anymore. 

This is what happened to the northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribes of Judah. The northern and southern kingdoms had drifted so far away from God that they were estranged to each other and from God, too. 

But amid the long devotional prayer of Psalm 119 is the connection of God’s faceshine bringing understanding of God’s statutes:

“Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes.” (Psalms 119:135 NASB)

God wants to have the same connection with you that you have with your children, that you teach your children about the world and He wants to teach us about Him. God’s face shining is not about getting money or material blessings from God about learning God’s ways and longing to live the way God wants us to live. 

When Ezra and Nehemiah returned from Babylon, they had very little knowledge of God and they were thirsty to know Him. That is how revival came to the Jewish exiles returning from Babylon. 

The reason the children of Israel had been sent into exile is because they didn’t acknowledge God. They didn’t care to be with Him at all. The Prophet Daniel’s prayer for the end of the exile and restoration of God’s embassy in Yerushalayim included an appeal to “let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary.” It was desolate because when the people would come there, they worshipped Him with their tokens and their lips but not with their hearts and minds. 

The Tabernacle without the Panim, the “face” or “Presence” of God, is just an elaborate tent, and the Temple without the Panim is just a beautiful building. 

Yeshua said several times in John 6 that He was the “bread that came down from heaven,” which was referring to the “daily bread” God provided Israel between the Exodus and entering the Land. Yeshua was the face of God. 

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John. 1:14 NASB)

The connection between Yeshua and the faceshine of God for Israel is pictured again in the vision of the “Mount of Transfiguration,” where Moshe also was shown (Mt. 17:12–13), and the introduction to the “Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah” (Rev. 1:16).

Did the Jews in the first century know more about God than the people who were exiled to Babylon? Not really. The literalist Sadducee’s were specifically rebuked by Yeshua for their lack of knowledge of God’s word, but the charismatic Pharisees didn’t really know God well either. They were more concerned about the forms and rituals and separating themselves from “contamination” than about showing love, mercy and justice to their fellow man. 

What is the veil? What is the real issue we see in 2Cor. 3:1-4:6?:

“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2. Cor. 4:6, NASB) 

Moses’s face shown, not because he had the tablets but because he was in God’s presence. With Christ, there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1), so there’s no reason to consider being in God’s presence something to fear but something to look forward to (Heb 10:19–20, 34–36; 1 John 2:28–3:1; 3:19–22; 4:15–19). This is the great hope of all the prophets is that no one would be scared to be in the presence of God but would long for it. 

Part of remaining in the vine is wanting to be connected to the vine, wanting to be connected to God and being in His presence. That is our great hope: to know God and be known by Him. It’s a return to Eden and no longer being ashamed.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. 

John 14:25-31: Comforting is a Team effort

One of the main jobs of a friend or a BFF is to give comfort. Comfort is consolation, interceding, being an advocate. We have a limited understanding of this, in the concept of the best friend.

When Yeshua (Jesus) was preparing for Golgatha, He repeatedly encouraged and admonished His disciples to comfort each other. Yeshua said we are no longer servants, but friends. A master cares little about his servant’s groanings but a friend deeply cares about our sufferings and comes along side and shares them. He also promised to send the Holy Spirit, as the ultimate Comforter. The Holy Spirit’s job isn’t just there to give us a hug but to advocate for us, to speak up for us to the Father. He is also there to help us comfort and support each other.

Continue reading John 14:25-31: Comforting is a Team effort