Friday, March 19, 2010

Faith and Works. What does James intend to mean?

James 2:14, "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?"

James is the first general letter within the epistolary literature that relates a teaching and explaining a truth.

Faith - Greek (pistis)- faithfulness, steadfastness, assurance, belief, fidelity, them that believe.

Work - Greek (ergon)- deed, business, involvement, doing, labor, work (trade).

Save - Greek (sozo) - keep sound, heal, make whole, preserve, do well, save one's self.

In other words - with the same intended meaning - If a man says "I believe and have faith in God that He will supply your needs" but does not get involved in helping, or doing business of helping -- can that faith, can that belief makes him a kept-sound person, a done well person or a person of good standing and reputation?

James 1:21 "Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility received the word implanted which is able to save your souls."

Greek word "psuche", flesh soul, earthly life is used in the word "souls". And the intended meaning here is: If you apply (practice) the Word of God you have received, it will make you a good (well being, wholesome, sensible) man. Your life here on earth will be a good example and the best testimony of goodness (of well done work of service).

Faith is the foundation and the content of God's message.
Hope is the attitude and focus.
Love is the action (the work).

Love is giving; giving is love (James 2:15).
"Work" is intend to mean love, or expression of love in James 2:17. (See 1 Corinthians 13.)

From this, we may conclude that James is NOT talking here about eternal salvation of our souls nor how to be saved by faith or work or the combination of these two. He is talking about being good and caring as our expression of our love to other people specially those in needs in this life as a testimony of God's love for mankind.

The author addresses his writing to the first century Jewish Christian communities (who are already saved) residing in Gentile communities outside Palestine.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interpretive Paper on Matthew 28:19-20 (New American Standard Bible)

28;19. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

28:20. "Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even to the ends of the age."

This is the last concluding part of a narrative.

The main purpose of the Gospel of Matthew is to prove to his readers that Jesus is their Messiah. He does this primarily by showing how Jesus in His life and ministry fulfilled the Old Testament (OT) Scriptures. The text being treated follows a major section (Chapters 26:1 - 28:10) where the suffering of Jesus in the hands of Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers, His death on the Cross and His resurrection are depicted. The work of God in Christ for man's redemption is finished, From then on, it rests with His people as they strive in the power of the Holy Spirit. The King sends forth His emissaries. The passage prior to the text being treated: "All authority
has been given unto Me" suggests a timeless aorist tense encompassing all the past and future.

In compliance with Jesus' instructions, the Eleven came to mountain in Galilee. Along the way, others joined them so that above five hundred were assembled there (cf. 1 Cor. 15:6). The mountain is not specified. It could be the one on which Jesus delivered His "Manifesto" (cf. Matt 5-7). Sometime during the forty days between the resurrection and the ascension, the event took place. Matthew does not recorded the ascension but closes His Gospel with the Great Commission.

It is maintained that the hostility between the Christians and Jews had ceased by the time that Matthew wrote his Gospel. The book of Matthew was composed during the last decades of the first century, when Jews and Christians alike were faced with task of re-articulating their self-understanding in the light of the destruction of the temple and the Holy City, Jerusalem. Regardless of where the book of Matthew was written (Syrian Antioch or one of the larger settlements in Galilee are the two setting most often proposed), the story of Jesus that Matthew tells seems were suited to clarify the identity, vocation, practices of the community in transition and distress.

Lexical and Grammatical Studies:

Go - This is participle, not an imperative. Literally "going" or "as you go."

Make disciple (or disciples) - This is the only imperative in the Commission. This is suggestive of the new birth (cf. Matt 11:29). They were to go purposefully.

All nations - Both Jews and Gentiles. Plant the flag of the King in their hearts.

Baptizing - This is another participle. After initial discipling (discipling is a life long process), comes baptism. Lead them to an open declaration of allegiance to Him.

Name - This refers to authority. Father...Son...Holy Spirit. Not trine immersion, but one in the name of the Trinity.

Teaching - It refers to process of instructions after the new birth and baptism.

Observe - Means to practice, to keep, to apply, to watch, to hold fast, to preserve (tereo) what they have seen and heard from the King.

I am with you - "I" is stated and so emphatic. "I" the risen Christ, am with you (Immanuel, Matthew 1:23).

Always (or all the way) - Suggesting long period of time.

The end of the world - Literally, the consummation of the age.

The duty imposed upon all Christians and the means of fulfilling that duty is set forth. Evangelism does not end with conversion or baptism. The doctrine taught here is mission or evangelism in its larger sense. Evangelism is more than winning a person to Christ. It is only the beginning. True evangelism involves regeneration (new birth), growth in grace, discipleship, knowledge and service or sanctification. It extends through out one's life and through every generation.

The evangel does not strive alone, but is assured of the presence and power of the Risen King through His Spirit.

Before the Messiah was born, God has chosen Him to bring the light of the Gospel (the message of salvation) to the world. Christ offered salvation to all nations and His apostles began their missionary movements to take this Gospel to the ends of the Earth (Isaiah 49:6). Note: Isaiah 49:6 sometimes called "The Great Commission of the OT" and is quoted by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:47).

God's arm is often associated with redemption and salvation to all nations and all the ends of the Earth (Isaiah 52:10).

Part of Christ's mission on earth was to demonstrate God's righteousness and to be light for the Gentiles (to the nations). Through Christ, all people have the opportunity to share in His mission. God calls us to be servants of His Son demonstrating God's righteousness and binging His light. What a rare privilege it is to help the Messiah fulfill His mission. But we must seek His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) before we demonstrate it to others and let His light shine before we can be lights ourselves (Isaiah 42:6).