Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Professor Aren Maeir Discusses Altar from Gath

Professor and archaeologist Aren Maeir describes the two horned altar he discovered 2 weeks ago in the ancient Philistine city of Gath in this video:

Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word

Monday, July 25, 2011

Application vs. Teaching

Some false teachers in Corinth challenged Paul saying his teaching was not as important nor as necessary as their accomplishments. Some of the early teachers were more interested in doing what they considered to be religious activity than in teaching the Word of God. The main reason for this neglect of teaching seems to be that this made it easier to attract and impress a Christian crowd. These church leadership imposters would skip the teaching and go right for some kind of application or philosophy. They would then mock Paul’s teaching and his letters as being insufficient when they compared their own selves to Paul’s continuous barrage of instruction. But, Paul responded to this pseudo-Christian approach to discipleship training in Second Corinthians when he said:

“You are looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he. For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up (teaching the Word of God) rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’ Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present. We do not dare to classify our compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves (instead of the Word of God), they are not wise.” - 2 Corinthians 10:7-12 (my comments in italic)

This first century situation is very close to the modern church's defense for their own neglect of Bible teaching. Today many churches talk and behave in such a way that says, “Application is more important than teaching the truth.” Paul's words to them today may echo his words to the imposters of 56 AD in Corinth. To those today who say application is more important than teaching, Paul’s verses simply respond by saying, “We are what we write” and “We do what we teach.” To counter those who glorify application while they neglect the teaching of the Word of God this question must be asked: if you do not teach and you do not know, what are you applying? If application is not preceded by teaching and action does not follow after knowledge, then the application is false and the action is still worldly. This is exactly what the apostles warn the believers to flee.

Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Word is Entrusted to the Church (Teaching)

Chapter Eleven:
Concept Three - The Word is Entrusted to the Church (Teaching)

The revelation of God’s Word that had not been revealed to man in general revelation nor in the Old Testament but had remained in mystery form was now revealed to the apostles. Once God revealed this mystery form of the Word of God to the apostles, these apostles were responsible to preserve and communicate it to both the believers and the Pagan world. And, when anyone received (or, believed) the message from the apostles they, likewise, became responsible for the accurate preservation and accurate presentation of that same Word of God.

Two key words used by the New Testament writes to describe this responsibility they and we have after having received, or believed, this revealed Word of God are the words: “entrusted” and “deposit.”

“This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.”                 – First Corinthians 4:1

“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”                – Second Timothy 1:13, 14

The word “entrusted” is the word “oikonomous” and can also be translated “steward” The word “oikonomos” refers to then manager of a household, often a trusted slave similar to Joseph in overseeing Potipher’s household in the book of Genesis, who was placed in charge of the household and its operations. The concept here is not focused on being in charge, or being the boss, but stresses the great responsibility and the importance of performing diligent management skills to prove accountability. This word is used by Jesus in Luke 16:1.

The word “deposit” is the word “paratheken” refers to a thing or possession that belongs to a person who is giving it to another person who they trust for safe keeping. It is a legal term and refers to someone trusting someone else to take care of their money, a family member, a harvest of grain or a secret. The owner was not giving up their ownership, but was requesting that the person they were entrusting would guard their deposit faithfully.

Each person who accepts the message of the Word of God has entered into the responsibility of stewardship of this great deposit of the mystery of the Word of God that was placed in their lives:

“I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.”                                      – Jude 3

Here are some other verses where the apostles tell us that they and the church have been  “entrusted” and are responsible for the “deposit”

“They recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles.                                                                        – Galatians 2:7

“We speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God                                   – First Thessalonians 2:4

“Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.” –First Timothy 6:20

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
– First Corinthians 4:2

“If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.                                                      – First Corinthians 9:17

“That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
– Second Corinthians 5:19

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”                               – Second Timothy 4:1-2

“The hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.” – Titus 1:2,3

One of the primary ways of fulfilling our stewardship responsibility is to communicate the revelation of God’s Word. There are a wide variety of ways to accomplish this, but no matter what vehicle or method is used it can be classified as preaching and teaching the Word of God.

What is preaching? Preaching means “to proclaim” or “to announce.” It is the clear transmission of an idea, a truth or a thought to a person in order for them to know, understand and make use of the information proclaimed or announced.

What is teaching? Teaching is more than standing up and filling time with talk about God. Teaching is the communication of the revelation from God to members of his church. It involves:
  • Reading the text
  • Explaining the background
  • Expanding on the words in the text to gain fullest meaning.
  • Connecting all the concepts in the verse, book and all of scripture.
  • Organizing similar concepts to develop definitions, doctrines, and a deep, comprehensive insight

Teaching is empowering a person with understandable and useful information. The primary purpose of the church is to teach, or successfully communicate, the mystery of God now revealed through the written Scriptures, first, to the Pagan world for their salvation, and then to the believers, who came out of that Pagan world, for their full understanding and maturity. Teaching will bring about the maturity of the believer and the church. Maturity will allow the true production of the fruits of righteousness that God desires.

“Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:15, 16

“Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done - by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written:
                        “Those who were not told about him will see,
                        and those who have not heard will understand.”        - Romans 15:15-21

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”    – First Corinthians 1:17

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”                   – 2 Corinthians 10:4-6

“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”                               – Galatians 1:11

“Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you,  that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.”                                                           – Ephesians 3:2,3

“In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. – Ephesians 3:4,5

“This grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,  and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.  His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”                                               - Ephesians 3:8-10
NOTE: the mystery becomes known in believers who then produce the fruit of righteousness in their lives. This transformation in people, who are the church, then makes known God’s character, nature, glory, word to the rulers and authorities in heavenly realms.

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”                       – Ephesians 6:19

“If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.”                                              - Philippians 1:22

You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant.” – Colossians 1:7

“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.”              – Colossians 1:24-26

“Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. – Colossians 4:3,4

“Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.”                                                                            – First Thessalonians 2:9

“We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith.”                                                                                              – First Thessalonians 3:2

“I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.”                                                                                        – First Thessalonians 5:27

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth….And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.”                                                    – First Timothy 2:3,4,7

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”                           – Romans 10:14

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is… teaching, then teach.                                                – Romans 12:7

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” – First Corinthians 10:11

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers….”  
- First Corinthians 12:27

“Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?  Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?  So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.”
– First Corinthians 14:6-9

“So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.”                                                 – First Corinthians 14:12

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature.”                                                        – Ephesians 4:11-13

“That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:20-24

“They feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.” – Ephesians 5:29

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” – Ephesians 6:14

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” – Ephesians 6:19

“Whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel.” – Philippians 1:7

“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.  To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” – Colossians 1:28-29

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”                                          – Colossians 4:16

“With the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.”                                                                    –First Thessalonians 2:2

“Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.”                                                                – First Thessalonians 2:9

“Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.”                          – First Thessalonians 3:10

“Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?
– Second Thessalonians 2:5

“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits  to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.  He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”                                                   – Second Thessalonians 2:13-15

“Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.”                                                 – Second Thessalonians 3:1

“If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.”                                                             – First Timothy 4:6

“Command and teach these things.”           –First Timothy 4:11

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift!”                 – First Timothy 4:13

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” – First Timothy 5:17

“So that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” – First Timothy 6:1

“These are the things you are to teach and insist on.”          – First Timothy 6:2

“I am reminded of your sincere faith…For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.”                                           – Second Timothy 1:5, 6

“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  Avoid godless chatter.”                                                                                                                                 – Second Timothy 2:14-16

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels….The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”                                – Second Timothy 2:23-24

“He (an elder) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
–Titus 1:9

“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men … Likewise, teach the older womenteach what is good. … In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.  Teach slaves … so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.  These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.” –Titus 2:1-15
NOTE: All of Titus chapter two is about teaching

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.”                         – Hebrews 5:11-14

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”                                                – Hebrews 13:7

“Not many of you should become teachers (or, presume to be teachers), my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” – James 3:1

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.”                           – First Peter 4:10, 11

“We write this to make our joy complete.”                              – First John 1:4

Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Word of God and False Teaching

(this is an unedited chapter)
God’s Word must be made available. Making the Word of God available is one of the reasons the Church was instituted by God on earth.

            “…the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”
– First Timothy 3:15

We have been entrusted with the Word of God to make it available and teach it clearly to men:
“I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to  the saints.”                                                                         - Jude 3
“This grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery…His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms….”  - Ephesians 3:8-10

If the church fails to read, preach and teach the Word of God that was entrusted to them, then God’s word is not as readily made available to men. Understandably, if the Word of God is not set forth before men as paramount, they will replace it with something artificial. A man who seeks God in a church where there is no teaching will be forced to choose something inferior which will prove to be destructive for his spiritual maturity.

A man in a church where the reading, preaching and teaching the Word of God is not the principal purpose will have to embrace some other form of spiritual nutrition.The New Testament warns against these pseudo-nutritional additives, enhancements and sweeteners that replace the pure Word of God:
·         traditions of men
·         myths
·         hollow and deceptive philosophies
·         empty rituals
·         religious regulations
·         every wind of teaching
·         deceitful, scheming of men
- (Ephesians 4:14; Colossians 2:8, 21-23; 1 Timothy 1:3-4; 4:1-3, 7)

Our wills can seek God but without the opportunity to hear and understand the Word of God, first for salvation, and second, for maturity, we would be left to pursue some cheap substitute for God’s glorious Truth.

False teaching that comes from the worldly philosophies of vain human imagination or demonic doctrines that come from deceiving spirits have been made available since Satan first question and misquoted the Word of God in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:1) The very first act of evil and betrayal recorded in scripture was an attack on the veracity of the Word of God and the denial of its accuracy. (Genesis 3:4) The very first thing we see Satan doing in Scripture is adding to the Word and claiming that God’s Word did not accurately reflect the true character of God. (Genesis 3:5) The very first time Jesus encounters Satan in his earthly ministry he quotes verses from the Word of God three times to counter Satan’s twisted use of Scripture and warped will. (Matthew 4:1-11) When Jesus publicly teaches about the importance of the seed of the Word of God, he is quick to point out that Satan comes immediately to steal that Word. (Matthew 13:3-9; 18-23) Satan knows that if the Word is allowed to grow to fruition it will produce thirty, sixty and one hundred fold in the life of the believing heart. (Matthew 13:28)

If today these philosophies and doctrines are allowed to be substituted in the mind of a believer their spiritual growth will be stunted and their chance to produce eternal rewards will be squelched. They will have lost their inheritance (rewards) in the Kingdom of God. Even though they have a true understanding of salvation through faith in Jesus so they may be saved from eternal damnation, they will lives that are virtually spiritually unproductive in time on earth. They may be religiously busy, but they will lead a life of vanity and emptiness.

The Scripture identifies several imitations, alternatives and artificial sources that replace the Word of God in the pulpits of the church and in the heart of a believer:

1.    “Weak and miserable forces… observing special days and months and seasons and years” – Galatians 4:9, 10. Refers to returning to the observation of a former religious belief system that had already proven to be ineffective and useless. Paul questions their judgment saying, “Now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days, and months and seasons and years!”

2.    “Infants tossed back and forth by the waves.” – Ephesians 4:14. Refers to the churches current crisis in time in contrast to the ultimate result of good evangelists, pastors and teachers which describes the ultimate destination of believers in threefold terms in 4:13: unified in doctrine and knowledge, mature and producing the fullness of Christ in their lives. But, until then the church will have to deal with a three headed attack on its doctrine and knowledge. The first is “the waves” that toss the immature Christians back and forth. The Christians are on the waves attempting to make progress to the goal of maturity.

3.    “Blown here and there by every wind of teaching” – Ephesians 4:14. Refers to the second of the three headed attack on the church’s unified faith and knowledge. As the Christian struggles to a destination of maturity there are ever changing winds of doctrinal teaching which moves the waves in different directions completely stopping the Christian’s progress towards the truth.
4.    “Cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” – Ephesians 4:14. Refers to the third of three heads that besiege the church throughout history. Not only are the Christians on the rolling waves trying to progress toward the goal of maturity, and the variety of winds of teaching cause chaos on the waves, but men (and, Satan) are intentionally scheming to twist and warp the teaching to reflect their position and lead the Christians to man’s (and, Satan’s) desired position, which is not unity in doctrine, nor is it maturity.

5.    “Mutilators of the flesh” – Philippians 3:2. Refers to dead, religious rituals with no reality. In this verse Paul exclaims, “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.” The phrase “watch out” is “blepete” which indicates that this is an intense warning against this group of men that are harassing the church with their false doctrine. They are identified by a set of three negative descriptors: “dogs,” “men who do evil,” and “mutilators of the flesh.” These words identify a group of teachers who were trying to enforce the doctrine of circumcision on the church in order to obtain what they considered a more “complete salvation.” Dogs were not kept as pets by the Jews, nor were they cared for in Jewish homes. Dogs were despised and considered unclean. Paul is warning the Philippians of a group of teachers that he despised and mocked as mutilators instead of honoring them for keeping some rich religious ritual. In Galatians Paul sarcastically tells this same group of false teachers to “apokopsontai” (apokopto) themselves which according to the Lingustic Key, page 430 means “to cut off; here, to castrate. Paul expresses the wish that his opponents would not stop with circumcision, but would go on to emasculation.” This is how the NIV and the ESV translate. Paul considered their teaching as evil and said so.

6.    “Fine-sounding arguments that deceive” – Colossians 2:4. Paul tells the saints in Colosse concerning the people he is trying to reach with the Word of God:

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”                                - Colossians 2:3, 4

Paul is stating that the ultimate purpose of his ministry occurs when believers are encouraged and united. From that position they would “have the full riches of complete understanding” that would result in their knowing the mystery of God. Paul then warns them that he is trying to prepare them so they are not “deceived” by “fine-sounding arguments.” The word “deceived” is “paralogizetai” which means “to reckon wrong, to cheat by false reasoning.” This is in reference to the false teachers presenting faulty information for the students to reason with. The false teachers are stacking the deck and then dealing the cards to the students. There is an example in the ancient Greek documents of papyri where this word is used of a librarian in charge of the state library. The librarian willing miss used documents in the library to manipulate a government situation. This word “paralogizetai” (deceived) focuses on the wrong, erroneous conclusion made by a student that is based on the erroneous information and twisted doctrine presented by the teacher. The phrase “fine-sounding arguments” comes from one Greek word “pithanologia” which means “persuasive speech.” In the ancient Greek papyri this word is used to describe the speech of those who argued their case eloquently in court in order to convince the judge to allow them to keep the goods they had stolen. An English equivalent of this word is found in the phrase “to talk someone into something.” (Linguistic Key, p. 463) By putting these two words together Paul is saying:

“I am telling this so that no one will be able to intentionally present inaccurate information which will lead you to believe the lie they are presenting with their persuasive speech and smooth words.”

7.    Hollow and deceptive philosophy based on human traditions that take people captive – Colossians 2:8. Paul writes here:

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive, through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

In the previous verse (2:7) Paul had urged the Colossians to continue in the Word of God (Gospel, Christ) being rooted, built up and strengthened. Now in this verse (2:8) he warns them of the dangers of philosophy and traditions. These evil forces desire to replace the Word of God that has saved them and holds the power to build them up. Paul begins verse 8 saying “See to it” which has also been translated as “Be on your guard!”, “Look Out!”, “Beware!” This warning indicates the enemy of the Word of God and the destroyer of phase two of the Christian’s life is about to be identified. The enemy is identified as men who want to take the Colossian saints “captive.” The word “captive” is “sulagogon” which comes from the base word “sulao”, which means “to strip” and the word “ago”, which means “to lead, bring or drive.” Together “sulao” and “ago” (“to strip” and “to lead”) mean “to lead away and strip,” or, as it is used in the Greek, to carry off a captive for booty. This word means to kidnap or abduct someone. Paul says, “Christians, be on your guard! Some people want to spiritually abduct you.” Who are these people? Where do they live? What is the candy they use to get us into their car? The bait in the trap is called “hollow and deceptive philosophy.” First, in this image that Paul is portraying, these abductors are not trying to sell you drugs, encourage loose, immoral behavior, or urge you to wear a suicide vest. The abductors are the presenters of information. They are teachers of philosophy instead of teachers of the Word of God. The abductors want you to base your spiritual understanding and your worldview on a philosophical system rather than on God’s revelation. This philosophy is described four ways in the NIV:
·         “Hollow” –
·         “Deceptive”
·         “Human tradition”
·         “Basic principles of this world”
But, in the Greek the word “philosophy” stands alone as the first of the four “candies” that lure the children into the abductor’s car. The ESV captures the Greek better than the NIV:

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of this world, and not according to Christ.”

So the four “candies” are:
·         “Philosophy” – “philosophias” – This word means philosophy and is built on the  two Greek words “philo” (love) and “sophia” (wisdom) which together mean “love of wisdom.” The word refers to the science that studies facts and principles of reality and our natural human experience. The information and knowledge collected and organized in this study can be then called a philosophy such as a philosophy of life, or a philosophy of history, or a business philosophy. Clearly these spiritual abductors in Colosse in 62 AD were not trying to replace the knowledge of Christ, or the Word of God, with a philosophy of medicine or a philosophy of education, but instead were presenting a philosophy of religion, or a philosophy of God, or a philosophy of Christ. This errant philosophy stood in contrast with Paul’s teaching, and was being used to replace the Word of God or interpret New Testament revelation. The challenge that the saints in Colosse faced was that this philosophy of God was attractive, sounded logical and appealed to the religious craving common to man. It was not some weird science fiction alien plan to resume the construction of the pyramids nor did it involve drinking Kool-Aid. This philosophy simply made the Christian faith seem more in line with what the Colossians already held to be true. In addition, these philosophers of the Christian faith were most likely trained in the popular skill of rhetoric and could argue their position brilliantly and leave the Word of God looking confusing, contradictory and useless without their philosophical system of interpretation.
·         “Empty deceit” – “kenes apates” – “kenes” (kenos) means “empty” which would indicate that whatever is empty obviously holds nothing of value since it is hollow. “apates” (apate) refers to a delusion or something that gives a false impression. The Bible lists several things as being delusions that give false hope or security: money (Mt. 13:22) and sin (Heb. 3:13). Here “kenos” is combined with “apate” emphasizing the emptiness of delusions that give a false impression. The appearance of false teaching is delusional and will always be empty when compared to the fullness of the Word of God. We “have been given fullness in Christ.” (Col. 2:9)
·         “Human tradition” – paradosin twn anthropon” (“traditions of men”) - “Tradition,” or “paradosin” means “a handing down” and refers to information handed down from one generation to next, year after year. The Rabbis handed down the teaching this way as did the Pagans and, even, the Christians (1 Co. 11:2; 2 Th. 2:15; 3:6). Here it refers to the Pagan religious teaching and rituals that were falsely believed to have a divine origin and a to serve a divine purpose.
·         “Elemental spirits of the world” – “stoicheia tou kosmou” – The Greek word “stoicheia” has at its root the meaning “things in a row.” From this root there arise several usages including the basic building blocks of a system such as the letters of the alphabet, the elements of the world, namely earth, air, water and fire, the stars and planets the make up the universe and, finally, the angels, spirits and demons that make up the spiritual universe. Paul’s criticism of this religious philosophy then would be aimed at the focus of this Colossian heresy which was the angelic and spiritual beings that impressed the Pagans, the Jews and these early Christians. Paul is saying this philosophy that organizes the information concerning the spiritual dimension is simple, foundational, elementary and, thus misses the entire point of the revelation of the Word of God, which Paul immediately goes on to define in the next verse:

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”                                                             - Colossians2:9

The empty philosophy had diminished, but not rejected, Jesus, since he had been seen physically. They instead returned to their more familiar Pagan pursuit of spiritual beings or demons. 

8.    “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!...based on human commands and teaching...their self-imposed worship, their false humility, their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value” – Colossians 2:8, 20-23 – refers to a some form of asceticism that is perceived as spiritual to those watching and feels spiritual to those ignorant of the Word of God as they refrain from basic functions of life. In reality it amounts to nothing. There is nothing spiritual here and this is not a sign of maturity. Instead, it is a sign of ignorance and immaturity.

9.    “false doctrines” – First Timothy 1:3; Second Timothy 2:18 – In First Timothy 1:3 Paul writes: As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work…” 
The word “urged” is “parakaleo.” It is a strong word that means “to beg, entreat.” (Wuest, v. 2, p.27) Timothy had wanted to go to another location (possibly with Paul) or had a different plan for his ministry. Paul wanted him to stay in Ephesus and “command” or (“paraggeiles”) certain men to stop teaching. The word for “command,” “paraggeiles,” is a technical term used in the military that referred to the passing on of orders that are understood as having come from a superior authority and are to be obeyed with no questions asked! Paul has given Timothy apostolic direction to order that this false teaching stop now. These “certain men” who had caused doctrinal confusion and had been identified by Paul as a problem, where to be commanded not to teach false doctrine (heterodidaskalein”) nor to pay attention to tales (“muthois”), nor pay attention to unending genealogies (“genealogiais aperantois”). These men most likely included Hymenaeus and Philetus “who have wandered away from the truth” and “say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.” (2 Tim. 2:17-18) Two other men from Ephesus that Paul wants ordered to stop teaching could be Alexander (who probably was not a Christian), who Paul tells Timothy to “be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message” and caused Paul “a great deal of harm,” (2 Timothy 4:14-15) and Demas, who “deserted” Paul “because he loved this world,” (2 Timothy 4:10) Some of these men were Christian teachers who taught Christian doctrines, such as the resurrection and eschatology, but they did it in such a way that made their teaching conflict with the Truth of the Word of God. Indeed, they used Christian terms and used Scriptural references, but they did it in such a way that it was a Christian teaching of a different kind. The Greek word that captures the thought of “another of a different kind” is “heteros.” This word for is found in the Greek word used here for “false doctrine” - “heterodidaskalein.” It is made up of two Greek words “heteros” which means “another of a different kind” and “didasko” meaning “to teach.” The word then means “another of a different kind of teaching.” This word does not refer to just any religious teaching other than Christianity such as the teachings of Buddha or of atheism. In this case, “heteros” doctrine refers specifically to twisted Christian doctrine. (Thus, we get our English word “heterodoxy” from this.) 

10.  “devote themselves to myths” – First Timothy 1:3 – The word “myths” is proceeded by the Greek “prosechein” which has literal meaning of “to hold to” and means here “to give assent to” or “believe” or “put their trust in.” These false teachers were basing their Christian doctrine on “myths.” The Greek word “muthos” that is translated “myths” has a general meaning of “word, speech, conversation,” but as the Greek language developed “muthos” began to mean fictional talk as opposed to a historic fact. (Wuest, v.2, p. 27) “Muthos” could also be translated “fable, legendary stories, fiction.” (Lingustic, p. 187) It may be worth mentioning that Paul refers to “Jewish myths” in Titus 1:14 which was written to Titus on the isle of Crete between 12-36 months later. These myths appear to have had two possible sources: One, fictional Jewish legends built around the scriptural account and recorded around 150 BC in the Jewish Book of Jubilees (NAC, Lea, 1, 2 Tim., p. 67). These entertaining legends would easily capture the minds of the listeners, but the sensational speculation would provide no basis for spiritual growth; two, cultural Greek legends that explain the origins of men and their ancient history which eventually contributed their philosophic seed which would become the gnostic heresies of the second century AD. These Pagan myths easily adjust to Christianity and willing bent to form false Christian teaching.

11.  “devote themselves to…endless genealogies” – First Timothy 1:3. The use of speculation in teaching of the myths combined with the allegorical practice of interpretation created an endless flow of new information and new ideas. Many people enjoy teaching allegorically where they spiritualize all the historical facts and terminology to represent or symbolize some deeper, mysterious hidden meaning. In Ephesus during Paul and Timothy’s day (62  AD) the false teachers were doing more than spiritualizing the Truth of the Word of God, but where developing allegorical insights from fables, myths and legends that they had made up. It is ignorance to teach a myth as truth, but to use the allegorical approach of interpretation to explain the myth to add chaos to the myth. Again, the word “devote,” “prosechein” literally means “to hold to,” but as it is used here it means “to give assent to.” These teaches actually believe and follow their allegorical interpretations of the fables they have made up. “Endless” is from the word “aperantos” which is a compound word from “peras” which means “a limit or terminus” with the negative prefix “a-” which means “not.” So, to describe these “genealogies” as “aperantos,” or, “not a limit,” “without limits” means the false teachers lists of genealogies never ended. This confirms the erroneous concept of spiritualizing, or allegorizing, the Word of God in order to reveal a deeper truth. (Allegory is a form of writing, so when the writters of the Bible say they are using an allegory or their writing is allegorical, then it is appropriate to interpret that portion of the Bible allegorically. But, even then, realize most of the symbolism of Scripture is repeated and consistent in its interpretation. There is still no room for endless chaos. When the Bible is written historically or to communicate doctrinal truths, there is no need to dip into the imaginative allegorical interpretation.) The word “genealogies” that are described as being “endless” come from the word “genealogiais” and refers to the genealogies that are traced back through history. It appears that the myths and their endless allegorization was using long lists of genealogies to fuel their teaching. Paul ends this comment by saying this kind of teaching does not promote the Word of God, but instead produces “controversies” (ekzetesis). “ekzetesis” is from “zeteo” meaning “seek” and the prefix “ek-” meaning “out.” Together they mean simply “seek out.” But, as it is used here this compound word means “useless speculation, out-of-the-way-research, seeking out” (Linguistic, p.487) and “an investigation, a laborious inquiry or dispute, an exhaustive investigation.” (Wuest, v.2, p.28). The result of this false teaching based on allegorical interpretation of myths is ekzeteo, or produces more questions, opinions based on endless speculation that lead the people to more questions and controversial opinions. There is no growth with this kind of teaching since there is no truth to understand. As mentioned before it is hollow.

12.  “Deceiving spirits and things taught by demons…forbid people to marry…order them to abstain from certain foods.” –First Timothy 4:1-3 – Paul also writes Timothy,

“Some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods.”                        - First Timothy 4:1-3

Again we see the two options: The first, is the faith which is the collection of true doctrine from the Word of God; the second, is deception which originates in the spiritual realm, just like the Word of God does, but this time it comes from deceiving spirits and demons. These deceptive doctrines and teachings come through hypocritical, lying men, but they originate in the demonic realm. The evil spirits work through men who speak for them. Paul says some people will abandon the faith. The word abandon is the Greek word apostesontai and means “to go away, to withdraw, to fall away, to become apostate.” The evil spirit’s doctrine establish religious regulations that project an evilness to marriage and certain foods. While the Word of God attributes good things such as marriage and food to God and as part of his plan, in stark contrast the demonic doctrine is the opposite and leads men away from the goodness of God into an ascetic religious observance. Notice which side is devoted to some religious ritual or standard in this case – the deceiving spirits. It is worth mentioning that these false teachers, who are the human agent s of the evil spirits, are called hypocritical liars would have been men who knew what was true, but choose to speak the lie. They are not called “deceived liars” which would indicate they had been taken captive to do Satan’s will, but “hypocritical liars” who willing followed the practice of lying. Their consciences had been “sear” and were hardened with scar tissue which made them insensitive to the urging and calling of the Holy Spirit. “Sear” is really from the Greek word “kekausteriasmenwn” in the perfect passive form which means “having been branded on” (Wuest, v.2,p.67) or “to brand with a red hot iron” (Linguistic, p493). This is the word used to refer to the branding of slaves as property (criminals were branded on the fore head) (Wuest, v.2, p.67) This could refer to Satan branding them as his own slaves, or it could mean the sensitivity of their conscience has been seared resulting in being calloused. Something outside of them has branded them or seared them to finalize the hardening process. The perfect tense means this branding, or searing, is a completed action with lasting results. The passive means this “branding” has been done to them, not by them. What these men had done to themselves before they were branded is identified in scripture as “hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality” (Eph. 4:19), and then “grieved the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 4:30) which resulted ultimately in putting out the Spirit’s fire. (1 Thes. 5:19)

13.  “a form of godliness but denying its power.” – Second Timothy 3:5 – In the book of Second Timothy Paul has already mentioned false teachers who “want to be teachers, but they do not know what they are talking about (2 Tim. 1:6-7), and those who practiced a religious form of asceticism as they followed demons (2 Tim. 4:3). Now, Paul says they have a “form of godliness but denying its power.” This “form of godliness” probably referred to the fact that they had all the trappings of the Christian religion like teachers, doctrine, regulations, self-denial as seen above, but no real power. Why? Because, that power only comes from the Truth, the Word of God. The word “form” is “morphosis” and can be translated “bringing into shape, embodiment, outline, outward form, resemblance.” “Godliness” is not the word “godlikeness” which could indicate a holy, righteous character. Instead, “godliness” refers to a reverence for God. These false teachers have an outline, or resemblance or an outward appearance of reverence for God, but in reality their appearance is hollow and void of any power. In fact, the word “deny,” “ernemenoi” from “arneomai,” means “disavow, reject, abnegate.” It is use to disown Jesus (Mt. 10:33; Lk. 12:9; Acts 3:14; 2 Tim. 2:12; 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4, etc.) Yet, in Romans 1:16 the gospel is said to be “the power of God for salvation.” These false teachers have an appearance of reverence for God, but have actually denied that there is any hope of saving people and empowering them for productive lives through the teaching of the God’s Word. Thus, they give an appearance but really have no Truth and thus no power to help. Timothy is then told to “have nothing to do with them.” (2 Tim. 3:5) They are a waste of time, and also, dangerous!

14.  “destructive heresies” – Second Peter 2:1 – Peter writes in 65 AD:
“There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them.”
– Second Peter 2:1

The word “heresies” is the Greek word “hairesis” that has the basic meaning of “choice”. Here it refers to the particular teaching of a school of thought within the large body of teaching it was associated with. A heresy is a choice, or a new opinion, on points of doctrine within the large body of Christian truth. Simply said, a heresy is “the choice of an opinion contrary to that usually received.” (Vincent, v.1, p. 689) This new choice is then transferred into the accepted doctrines of a certain sect of Christianity. The introduction of these new choices and opinions of the false teachers will challenge the established doctrine revealed by the apostles. These false opinions (heresies) will not go away, but will instead “spread like gangrene (or, cancer),” (2 Timothy 2:17) and “bring the way of Truth into disrepute.”

“Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”                                                           - Second Peter 2:2

The word “destructive” is “apoleias” in the genitive of product form which indicate that the heresies produce this destruction. This is referring to the destruction of the Truth, unity, maturity and fruit of righteousness in the individual believer and in the church universal by the presences of these heresies. False teaching and heresy are the church’s biggest problem today, no, throughout the 2,000 years of church history. But, how can we identify it, isolate and remove it?  

Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word