Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On the meaning of the word "Repent"

  • most common Greek word translated as "repent" in NT is metanoeo (other common word is metamelomai). From meta (change, alter) and noeo (perceive, understand). Etymologically, the word means "change your mind". But word meanings can change (think "football" (as in American football), which refers to a non-ball shaped "ball" that is mostly handled by hand rather than by foot). (Extra credit: Where in the Bible is discussed the throwing of a ball?)
  • does not simply mean "change of mind" in all contexts. Contextually, it might mean:
    • change your mind
      • Luke 16:30-31 repent = convince
      • Luke 17:3-4 repent = a claim of change without the actual change of action
      • Acts 8:22 repent = thought in heart
      • Acts 17:29-30 repent = turning from ignorance, from thinking divinity is like gold, silver, stone, man-made image
      • Rev 2:15-16 repent = letting go of a certain teaching
    • change your mind to such an extent that you change your life
      • Matt 3:8 & Luke 3:8 & Acts 26:20 repentance demonstrated by deeds
    • change your actions
      • 2 Cor 12:21 repent from evil works
      • Rev 2:20-22 repent of her immoral ways
      • Rev 9:20-21 repent of murders, etc
      • Rev 16:9-11 repent of what they had done
    • other similar meanings within the word's semantic range of meaning?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Pentecost Not at the Temple?

I've always thought that in Acts 2, when Peter and the others were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and Peter preached the first sermon, that all this took place in the Temple. But just now I've read the first few chapters of Acts specifically asking that question, and I'm surprised to find that the text indicates that it took place at the disciples' "hotel", not in the Temple.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A Look at Biblical Covenants

A fill-in-the-blank look at some Biblical covenants:

The Cutting of an Ancient Covenant

In Genesis 15 we read of YHWH making a solemn covenant with Abram. The covenant ceremony involved sacrificing five animals (a 3-year old cow, a 3-year old female goat, a 3-year old ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon), cutting in half all but the birds. These animal pieces were then laid opposite of each other, and the blood allowed to drain and pool between them.

According to speaker Ray Vander Laan (RVL), who has spent time in the rural areas of the Middle East, this ceremony is still conducted today. The significance is that each of the two parties involved in the covenant would then walk through the blood draining from the animals, symbolically stating that if he failed to keep his end of the bargain, the other party has permission to stomp the covenant-breaker's blood into the ground.

RVL continues, saying that the smoking fire pot and the flaming torch are both symbols for the God of the Bible.

God had promised to Abram to make of him a great nation, to give him all the land in the area, and to bless the nations through his seed (this last item being cited by Paul in Gal 3:8 as being "the gospel"). For his part, Abraham's role was simply to live in God's presence and "be perfect" (Gen 17:1), which of course, obviously, was sure to result in a broken covenant on Abraham's part.

So when it was time to perform the covenant ceremony, God passed through the split animals as a smoking fire pot; then when it was Abram's turn to pass through, God took Abram's turn, passing again as a flaming torch.

In essence, God was saying, "If I fail to keep my end of the bargain, you may stomp my blood into the ground. And if you fail to keep your end of the bargain, you may stomp my blood into the ground." At that moment, God sealed the fate of his son Jesus to be killed at the hands of men.

We see the same type of covenant ceremony in Jeremiah 34. When YHWH gave the Law of Moses on Mount Sinai centuries earlier, one of the provisions was that if any member of the community sold himself into slavery (a common practice for those in poverty), he was to be freed in the seventh year (Ex 21:1; Deut 15:12; Jer 34:14). But the Israelites had not been keeping that practice, and YHWH condemned them for not keeping it, saying:
HCSB Jer 34:18 As for those who disobeyed My covenant, not keeping the terms of the covenant they made before Me, I will treat them like the calf they cut in two in order to pass between its pieces. 19 The officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the pieces of the calf 20 will be handed over to their enemies....