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Tobago, 20 July 2016

Alexander the Great (whose 2371st birthday is today) aimed to conquer the world, and succeeded to an impressive degree before his death by mosquito bite (so they say). Yet the biblical vision is radically different from Alexander's: "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Isa 11:9).

Equipping preachers and teachers to spread the knowledge of the Lord lies at the very core of the International Bible Teaching Ministry, and I'm heartened to connect with more and more brothers and sisters who share the vision. With this in mind, I'm happy to report that the 5th session of the Damian Jean Baptiste Caribbean School of Ministry (Northwest, Kingston), or CSM (W), for short, was a huge success! The topic: preaching and teaching (homiletics). We had about 100 students at all the sessions, not counting those who watched the streaming classes online -- in the Bahamas and New York.

I taught alongside Courtney Bailey (Kingston) and Tyrone Marcus (Port of Spain) -- powerful speakers, on top of being full-time lawyers and family men. They know the Caribbean culture and they have the conviction to keep swimming upstream when others do not share their vision. Wrote one student: "I was truly humbled by how much I did not know about preaching and teaching. I thank God that he used all of you to show me how much more care and diligence I need as I convey the word of God to others. I got the thumbs up from my region leader to teach this information once I pass the exam. This is going to have a trickle effect on our church. Excited! :-)"

On Sunday I had the honor of preaching to Jamaican disciples from all over the island. Most of the 900 or so members make the drive in to Kingston a couple of times a year. I preached from Amos 5:18-24. To put the sermon into a single sentence: Like the Israelites of Amos's day, if we allow the love of luxury and entertainment to keep us from our mission, then the Day of the Lord will be a time of surprise, shock, and punishment. See pics below. 

I'm in Tobago (the smaller part of the nation Trinidad and Tobago) mainly to write and teach. It's my first time on the island. Tomorrow it's off to Trinidad for the final leg of the tour, CSM (E), and another homiletics weekend. Practical applications extend to group Bible discussions, children's classes, devotional lessons, and much more.

Biblical Words Series:

                    N.T. Greek  O.T. Hebrew – O.T. Aramaic


In the O.T. three classes of persons were anointed: prophets, priests, and kings. Jesus is thus triply anointed (fitting into all three categories)! This week's word is mashiach, meaning anointed one. In the centuries immediately before Christ, the Jews translated their Bible into Greek. The majority of Jews no longer spoke Hebrew; a translation was essential. Here's what happened:
  • The "Anointed One" in Hebrew is מָשִׁיחַtransliterated as māšîah. As you can tell, it is from this word that we have the English word Messiah. 
  • The translators chose the Greek word Χριστός, transliterated as Khristós. From this word comes our English word Christ.
  • Thus Christ isn't a new word in the N.T. It was already present in the O.T. 
Christ isn't Jesus' last name (like Smith in John Smith); it's a title. It means the anointed one, but that fact is obscured for those who don't read the original. We could call our Lord Jesus (or Joshua or Yeshua) "the Anointed," yet because our tradition goes against this, it would sound strange to most people. (Strange but true.)

Agápē revisited
Several newsletter recipients wrote in after last week's discussion of agapân and phileîn in John 21. It dawned on me that I had just attended a play (in English) in which Jesus asks Peter whether he loves him -- or is even his friend -- and I was contradicting the playwright's rendition of the interaction. Please believe me, I have no desire to rain on anyone's party. I tried to leave this an open matter, not being dogmatic but conceding that while the synonym interpretation may be correct, the balance of evidence suggests otherwise.

There is further support for the position I took. In John 11:3, Jesus loves Lazarus (philía, not agápē). In John 11:5 Jesus loves Lazarus and his sisters -- philía again. I have selected two comments sent in last week.

"If Jesus spoke primarily in Hebrew or Aramaic, wouldn't that render moot any effort to dissect the Greek words for 'love' in this passage? I understand that Hebrew is like English, with only one word for love, with the meaning based on context." -- Stan (U.S.)

Yes, that’s right -- sort of. Since the author of John gives us a dialogue in Greek, it is certainly possible he expects us to pick up on certain nuances. It’s the lack of direct access to the speech of Jesus and the apostles that forces us to be somewhat tentative with any dogmatic interpretation turning on a fine point of Greek grammar. One can argue that there are numerous love-words in Hebrew, just as in Greek), although you raise an important point about context.

"My favourite counter-example to the fallacy is where 'Amnon loved Tamar' [2 Sam 13:4]. The LXX [Greek translation] here uses agapân." -- Simon (U.K.)

Thanks for that example, Simon. Amnon rapes his sister, and yet surprisingly the translators described his feelings as agápē, not philía or (more to the point?) erōs. As you have pointed out, a hard and fast agápē / philía distinction doesn't work in the O.T. any more than it does in the N.T.

New at the website

Our website has well over a thousand questions & answers! Here are the latest three. Hope you them useful. (There's no need to scroll through the entire Q&A list; use the SEARCH feature.)  You may also appreciate the perspective of one French brother in Christ to the terror attack on Bastille Day. Click here

Next week we'll unpack one of the most familiar Aramaic words in the New Testament. Until then....

In His Service,
Douglas Jacoby

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