Category Archives: Apostolic Writings

Genesis 18:1–22:24: Abraham learns faith in God despite his trust issues

Do we trust God in His promises? We can come up with all sorts of ideas about God. But if we don’t really trust Him and His leading, why bother following? These are questions tackled in this discussion on the Torah portion וירא Vayera (“and He appeared”), covering Genesis 18-22. Abraham is shown to have trust issues up to his great test of faith. At that point, he sees something. This passage is all about the Promised One — the Mashiakh (Messiah) — represented by Abraham’s son Yitzkhak (Isaac).

Continue reading Genesis 18:1–22:24: Abraham learns faith in God despite his trust issues

Luke 22:39-53: Yeshua sings the Hallel about God’s mercy

The sleepiness of the Eleven (Lk. 22:39-53; Mt. 26:36-56; Mk. 13:32-50) is describing is not just nodding off from being up too late, but this is a sorrowful sleep, we would describe it as depression. That was the source of their temptation that Yeshua was praying they would overcome. 

We read that they sang a hymn before leaving (Mt. 26:30; Mk. 14:26). Most likely, the hymn they sang was one of the Hallel (“praise”) Psalms commonly recited at festivals, Psalms 113-118 or Psalm 136.

One of the Psalms of the Hallel is Psalm 118, which is full of messianic prophecies. It starts and ends with a responsive refrain (Psa. 118:1–4, 29): כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ ki l’olam khasdo, because everlasting is His lovingkindness/mercy:

“The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly. The right hand of the LORD is exalted; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.” (Psa. 118:15–16)

“This is the gate of the LORD; The righteous will enter through it.” (Psa. 118:20)

“The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.” (Psa. 118:22)

“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD” (Psa. 118:26)

“The LORD is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” (Psa. 118:27)

Psalm 136 recounts the great things God has done in Israel’s history. Like Psalm 118, it’s a responsive song, with the refrain כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ. One of the main Hebrew words that pops up in both Ps. 118 and Ps. 136 is chesed/khesed חֶסֶד (Strong’s H2617)which means “goodness, kindness, mercy; rarely, shame, reproach” (Lv. 20:17; Pr. 14:34) 

The Lord comes along side us in our difficulty. That is His khesed. Yeshua came as the khesed made flesh. He was able to endure insults and suffering and yet He was still loving and compassionate. 

Even for all the insult and rejection that would be heaped on Yeshua, much more than before, showing Himself as the LORD’s khesed made flesh was His mission. 

As they sang the Hallel to the Mount of Olives, they repeated the refrain “His mercy endures forever.” 

Khesed is not just “lovey-dovey” but also forgiving. The key to khesed is forgiveness, letting insults and offenses go. We need to bury those things that we have against others or those things others have against us.  Forgiveness was key to Yeshua’s teachings:

“ ‘For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.’ ” (Matt. 6:14–15)

“ ‘My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.’ ” (Matt. 18:35)

“ ‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.’ ” (Mark 11:25)

God wants to forgive but He also wants to teach us how to forgive. We have to have the same lovingkindness and forgiveness He has. We need to endure the same affronts and insults He has born. If we want God to hear our prayers, we have to love and forgive people just as God has loved and forgiven us. We are not just talking the talk. We need to walk the walk. We need to get over those things that bring us sadness, pain and bitterness. 

The הלכה halakhah ― the walk, “The Way” ― of the Khesed of God was ultimate forgiveness, appealing to the Father to let betrayal of the Son of God, the Chosen One for God’s chosen one from among the nations, Israel. Yeshua practiced what He taught, even on the Cross:

“ ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.’ ” (Luke 23:34–35)

The Light exposes the darkness. Darkness attacks, it doesn’t want to be exposed by the Light. This is true now and even more true in the Day of The Lord. 

“ ‘I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, [a spirit] of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.’ ” (Zech. 12:10 New American Standard Bible Update)

The direct context of “Me” is the LORD. However, if the leaders didn’t accept Yeshua as sent by the Father, they weren’t accepting the will of the One Who sent Yeshua. Rejecting Yeshua, piercing Yeshua spiritually and physically, was doing so to the LORD.

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in princes.” (Psalms 118:8–9 NASB)

Do we really trust in God and the direction He is taking us? God was taking Yeshua to the Cross, yet Yeshua trusted God. We will endure insults such as “How can you believe in the existence of God? Haven’t you grown out of that?” Do you snarl at them? Do you lash out? How do you respond to insult? This is what Yeshua was praying for: that God would give His disciples the wisdom to respond properly. 

“The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly. The right hand of the LORD is exalted; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.” (Psalms 118:15–16 NASB)

What is the “right hand of the Lord”? Yeshua is the One at the right hand. Yeshua is the khesed of God.

God doesn’t see who you are now. He can see over the horizon and see who you will be as His heirs, as His sons and daughters. God looks forward, He doesn’t look back. Yeshua didn’t care about washing feet and acting as a servant because He knew who He was and where He was going. 

Israel, our ancestors in trust in God, at its founding was not internationally significant. God delivered Israel from captivity in Mitsraim (Egypt) as well as being scattered in Babylon and then to all nations (see Deuteronomy 30–32).

People who lived under oppression understand the Exodus. They saw that God didn’t just offer freedom back then, He offers freedom now. The Exodus and the deliverance to the land is not just history but it happens to each of us when we come to Yeshua. God is looking to take all of us our of our Egypt and to our Promised land. 

“Who remembered us in our low estate, For His lovingkindness is everlasting, And has rescued us from our adversaries, For His lovingkindness is everlasting;” (Psalms 136:23–24 NASB)

Of all the enemies listed in Psalm 136, the one adversary that bested Israel repeatedly was the rebellious heart (interests, inclinations). Israel lost sight of their mission, of their purpose for existence. God made them a great nation, not for the sake of making a great nation, but to bring the whole world into the Kingdom of God. 

We may face terrestrial enemies ― oppressive governments, scoffing friends, oppositional family members ― but the toughest enemy is sin and death. 

The Torah gives a number of examples of what sin, transgression and iniquity are. Apostle Yokhanan defined sin this way:

“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” (1John 3:4 New American Standard Bible Update)

  • sin = ἁμαρτία  hamartia (G266): to err, make a mistake. In the Septuagint for חָטָא khataʾ (H2398): to miss, sin
  • lawlessness = ἀνομία  anomia (G458), from νόμος nomos (G3551) by way of νέμω nemō, to distribute, assign: figuratively, law or custom. In the Septuagint for פָּשַׁע paw-shah’ (H6586): to break away (from just authority), i.e. trespass, apostatize, quarrel
  • unrighteousness, injustice = ἀδικία adikia (G93). Also used in the Septuagint to translate פָּשַׁע.

The Psalms are to remind us of God, not to remind God of us. God is the steadfast one, He has no whims of fancy. As we look into Yeshua’s trials, crucifixion and resurrection, think about God’s mercy and what endures forever. Yeshua repeatedly taught His disciples about God’s khesed and encourage them to extend it to others. 

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. 

John 16:16–33: Grief turned to joy

In John 16:16, Yeshua repeats the warning He would be separated from His disciples physically (Mk. 9:31–32; Jn. 7:33; 12:35; 13:33; 14:18–24; 16:5). 

The Eleven are a little confused and didn’t understand or want to understand His proverb: “you won’t see Me then you will.” The  Greek word that is translated as “little while” is μικρός mikros (Strong’s lexicon No. G3398). It’s a word that is the root of words such as micro, micron. It means something very small.  It seems to refer to the “three days” of Yeshua’s death and resurrection. It’s Hebrew equivalent is katan. For example a talit katan, is a small talit often worn as an undershirt. 

However, other Scriptural uses of mikros and related words βραχύς brachus (G1024) and ὀλίγος oligos (G3641) point to Yeshua’s time as a human and the time leading up to the Day of the LORD being a brief time (Heb. 10:37 (quoting Hab. 2:3); Jas. 4:14; 1Pet. 1:6; 5:10; Rev. 6:11; 17:10). 

Critics say that the disciples use of the word mirkos was based on their misunderstanding but that is not the case. The expectation of “a little while” is really a little while because in God’s time, all of time is “a little while.” 

Why does God keep using the term “a little while” and says He is not going to tarry, when from the time of Habakkuk to Yeshua was 400 years? Or even Moshe’s foretelling of a Messiah was over 1,400 years before He came. 

We have to live as if He is going to come today. Today, if you hear God’s voice, is when you are to respond and make your choice. 

Since the times of Moshe and Israel’s exilic prophets ― about four centuries ― the people had waited for the Coming One (ὁ ἐρχόμενος ho Erchomenos, Matt. 11:3), aka the Mashiakh.

Yeshua taught via a string of interconnected parables and proverbs that we must always be ready for the Day of the LORD (Luke 12:16–53):

“And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.’ ” (Luke 12:42–43 NASB)

One lesson of this parable is that we are to respect other people. We are to treat those in our realm of responsibility and contact with respect today, not to wait until we get our act together. This is the point of the  “second-greatest commandment.” (Lev. 19:18; Mt. 19:19; Mk. 12:31; Lk. 10:27; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8). 

We are to remember that we are in the presence of the Master. We are not to become obsessed with pleasure, leisure and departure. People like to “tune out” in various ways, but taking ourselves from situation doesn’t really take us away from the situation. 

Pleasure, beauty and laughter are enjoyable, but they are fleeting. Excesses lose their fun, wrinkles come, and jokes get old. Thankfully, sorrow can be as fleeting, if we let it go. What we put into the lives of others, that is what lasts through time. 

The apostles likened our training as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God to preparing for endurance in sports:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1Cor. 9:24–25 New American Standard Bible Update)

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1–2)

If we are going to “run” as God’s servants, we have to be careful not to run faster than we’ve trained to, otherwise, we set ourselves up to get “winded” and quit. If we are running faster than the Spirit, we can exhaust that Spirit. 

Some of God’s servants have gotten so caught up in the work, they forget to pray, to take care of their house and they burn out. This is what happens when we presume that the call of God is a sprint when it’s actually a marathon.

We are racing against our former way of life before the covering of Mashiakh’s death and invitation of the Spirit of God. We are to rejoice at every milestone we pass. Yeshua repeatedly told the congregations they were to overcome. Each congregation had to overcome a different issue but they all were called to overcome to reach their goal.

As we wait for the “little while” we can see where God has changed us and moved us from the old life to the new life.  

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 9:24–25 NASB)

We are not racing our fellow believers in Yeshua as though we are in competition with each other. That old life lacked self-control and shrank away from persecution, leading one to want to decide the Kingdom of God isn’t worth the personal sacrifice.

For Yeshua, washing people’s feet, like the lowest slave, was not an issue for Him. He knew where He came from and where He is going. What the world considers as a high or low status meant nothing to Him. 

We are sons and daughter of the Kingdom of God. That is not a pollyanna goal that we will never attain. You are not looking at yourself as God sees you. God told Paul that He had a lot of people in Corinth. Corinth was one of the most decadent cities in the Roman Empire but God was looking at the inside, not the outside. 

The Apostle Paul in Romans 12 revealed to us the point of the offerings in the Torah: sacrifice all of what’s inside of us that keeps us from siding with the Creator of the Universe and His direction for how life works best. The Torah is not a slaughterhouse manual, it’s about a transformation of a nation and the entire world. It’s how to erase the old man or old woman and to bring out the new man or woman. 

The needed endurance training is what Yeshua had been telling the Eleven that Pesakh, recorded in John 13–15: God’s Helpers ― the Mashiakh and the Ruakh haKodesh ― are essential to starting and maintaining the new life as a guilt-free. 

Just as in the Torah, you see how leadership moved from Moshe to Joshua is similar to how Yeshua was preparing the Eleven to take over leadership. From the one who spoke to God face to face to ones who have the Spirit of God in a different kind of fullness. 

“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:24 NASB)

What are we asking for? We are asking for the Helper to help us and move us into the new realm. 

Read Deuteronomy 30-32 to get the whole context just as you read John 13-17. I encourage you to feel the same emotion that is going on through a transition in leadership. Yeshua would be leaving the Eleven, but they were not going to be left behind, powerless and alone. Neither are we.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. Because of a technical problem, there is no recording of this discussion.

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?