When I was growing up I wasn't accustomed to seeing people drink wine or any alchoholic beverage. This doesn't mean I had parents who constantly drilled my mind with a slogan like, "wine is the devil's juice, son." My parents simply taught me Christian character, and this included the character opposite from a drunk or drunkard.
As I got a little older and was able to see a few people in a drunken state, common sense told me that for a person to be in such a state was unlawful according to Yahweh's standards. This was before I really knew or studied anything the Bible stated on the issue.
I remember the first time I read the passage in Scripture (KJV) concerning bishops and deacons; specifically the part of each ministers requirement as it pertained to the consumption of wine.
"A bishop must be blameless ... not given to wine..." [1 Timothy 3:2-3]
"Likewise must the deacons be grave ... not given to much wine..." [1 Timothy 3:8]
My initial thoughts on these admonitions before ever studying the text was that a bishop (overseer) could not have any wine, and a deacon (servant to the overseer) could have a little wine. When I say wine, I mean alchohol or fermented beverage. In reading the word wine here I never once thought that the word implied grape juice.
I'm aware that certain people believe many uses of the word wine in Scripture are a reference to unfermented grape juice. I will not say that the Hebrew and Greek words for wine never refer to grape juice, but I do believe such people are heavily inaccurate in applying such a definition to the majority of the uses of the word wine in Scripture.
Certainly wine in 1 Timothy 3 wouldn't mean grape juice, would it? If that was the case then according to my first understanding a bishop couldn't drink grape juice and a deacon could only have a little grape juice. Does that make any sense at all?
Why in the world would the Creator prohibit grape juice for bishops, and set forth a standard of moderate consumption for deacons? We would also have to wrestle with the fact that if the text does mean this, then the text (in the immediate context) never prohibits bishops or deacons from having fermented wine! Talk about back-firing on some people.
I think most people will be honest enough to say that the verses are dealing with wine, but we needn't stop there. While the King James Version of the text does seem to lend weight to the belief of some - that a bishop can't have any wine, and a deacon only a little - I do not believe this was the original intent of the verses. Examining the Greek text will show this to be accurate.
The phrase "not given to wine" in 1 Timothy 3:3 is taken from one Greek word, paroinos, and does not portray the idea that an overseer must live in total abstinence of wine. The word is defined by Strong's Exhaustive Concordance as "staying near wine, that is a tippling (a topper)" while Thayer's Greek English Lexicon defines the word as "given to wine, drunken." The standard for the deacon in verse 8 is actually taken from three different Greek words (prosecho, polus, oinos) but carries basically the same meaning as the command to the bishop in verse 3. Each command is dealing with an immoderate use of wine by both ministers. Therefore we could translate the verses exactly as the Holman Christian Standard Bible has done:
"An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach ... not addicted to wine..." [1 Timothy 3:2-3]
"Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect ... not drinking alot of wine..." [1 Timothy 3:8]
This poses no problem for the student of Yahweh's word who is truly interested in knowing what Yahweh's will actually is on this issue. For people who hold some kind of "sacred cow" or have on "tradition glasses" no amount of proper exegesis, context, or linguistic argumentation will suffice. Let us love Yahweh's word, and desire to interpret it in a way that is true to its original intent.
I often hear people state that they would like me to pray for their business, or sickness, or for this or that, and I'm glad to hear people seeking Yahweh for help. How often do we forget to ask Yahweh for help while fretting about something continuously and making attempts to handle a difficult situation ourselves?
One thing I rarely hear people ask for is wisdom and knowledge. It's not often that someone says to me, "Brother Matthew, could you please pray that Yahweh would give me more wisdom to understand Scripture?" Yet this should be our priority in prayer. A good example may be found in 1 Kings 3:3-15 where we read of Solomon asking Yahweh for wisdom to rule the people of Israel. Yahweh was honored in such a request and even gave Solomon blessings he did not ask for. Yahweh truly is able to bless us and help us above all that we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
Our model prayer is found in Matthew 6:9-15. Do you know how many material things we are taught to ask for in that prayer? From what I see there is only one and that is our daily bread. I've met some brethren who even believe this bread to be spiritual, but I believe the original intent of the passage was for literal food, sustenance for the body. Other than this one materialistic request we find that we should acknowledge the Father in reverence, respecting His name, pray that His kingdom and thus His will be accomplished in earth, ask Him to forgive us of our transgressions, and pray that He will not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil. The prayer concludes by honoring and praising Yahweh, giving Him dominion recognition.
I don't believe that we have to always pray the prayer found in this text verbatim, but I believe it is quite alright to do so (I repeat it often). What I believe we should do is model our prayers after this prayer, not always seeking to - ask and ask and ask - for ourselves, but to give honor and praise to the Father, praying for His law, His government to take over our lives both individually, in our church body, and even nationally. Less time should be focused on material requests, because our heavenly Father knows what we have need of even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:5-8). If we get our hearts in the right place and make sure our priorities are in line in prayer, Yahweh will grant us what we need for He will see that we, like Solomon, are not seeking our own fleshly desires, but rather for Yahweh's will to be performed and for Him to be glorified in all things.
I've been out of town recently and haven't had the opportunity to dedicate alot of time to the blog, but I have been thinking about certain happenings in this country. I have actually never voted for President in my life, and haven't until recently been interested in voting for any candidates that have ran for the office. What I see in those seeking for either a Democratic or Republican nomination is people who are not concerned about following Yahweh and thus Biblical Law.
Sure, there are some who are better than others, but that is only true when we compare the men amongst themselves, and I believe that is the problem with people. For example you have one candidate who is for abortion (more properly infanticide) and another who is against the practice. Assuredly, the one against is a much better choice for a person than the one for, if you standards are found in the Bible. However, just because there is a man who's views are correct on this one issue, doesn't make him the man we should back as the President of the United States. We should judge a man by what should be and once was the supreme law of the land in the minds of the people of this country - Holy Scripture.
In the earliest stages of the founding of this country (1600's) there existed a people who truly believed that the Bible was the authority; not only individually or as a church body, but governmentally as well. They recognized that Yahweh's law is perfect (Psalm 19:7). Citations from the book of Deuteronomy and Leviticus existed in the documents that governed citizens of Connecticut and elsewhere. Needless to say, we've come a long way.
One thing that has "leaped off the page" to me recently is the Pluralism that exists in this Country. Just yesterday I had a discussion with the clerk at a local filling station about religion. He commented to me that all religions believe in the same God, they just have different ways of expressing such, and different names to call Him. I was thankful that I knew enough to explain him that I did not agree with that position. For instance, the One Muslims serve is not the same One that a true believer in the Messiah serves. "How come?" he answered. I asked him if his Mighty One had a Son. Of course Islam doesn't believe that "Allah" has a Son. Farbeit for God to have a Son, the Quran states. The Mighty One I serve has a Son, and it is through that Son that the Father has chosen to save His people (Matthew 1:21; 1 John 4:14).
The mindset of this clerk is the mindset of many in America, including professing Christians. No one wants to "rock-the-boat" when it comes to religion. No one wants to "draw lines in the sand" anymore, yet time and time again we see holy men and women in Scripture who took a stand for righteousness. Pluralism was not accepted; you could not "serve" Yahweh and at the same time serve Baal, Dagon, Nibhaz, Tartak, etc. The very first command in the Decalogue pronounced that Israel, Yahweh's people, were to have no other gods beside Him.
There is one way that Pluralism has crept into America that many people would not think about. This comes with the absence of the name Yahweh. Politicians and people of all religious creeds can say "God bless America" because when they use the word God they are thinking in their mind about their particular god; whomeover He is or whatever it is. It is a generic term with no unique quality or specification. Thus we should be able to see that with the removal of Yahweh's name from the lips of those who profess belief in His book leads to Pluralism, i.e. the acceptance of other gods and the invitation for other religions.
Another way in which people in America turn away from Yahweh is by leaning on man-made rules and regulations. Once such man-made document is the Constitution of the Unites States of America. Some people are vehement defenders of this document even though a simple reading of it shows that it clearly contradicts Biblical law. We shouldn't be involved in promoting a document that promotes idolatry.
I once heard a man give a speech in which he commented that in the early stages of his life the furthest subject from his mind was Christology. A person speaking this word to him may have caused his mind to jump to the study of crystals, or something other than what the word actually means.
Christology is the study of who "the Christ" really and truly is; His person and work. I've been accused at times of having a low Christology myself, but this accusation generally comes from people who have not made an honest attempt to ask me what I believe about the Messiah. It is true that I do not believe in the concept of the Trinity or in Trinitarian doctrine. I do not believe that the Almighty exists as one being in three distinct persons. I do not believe what many in the professing Christian world hold to: "Jesus is God." If that causes one to stop pursuing anything else I believe about Christ, I can only say that I feel this is because of what a person has been taught to believe, and not because of what a person believes based upon examination of Biblical text.
What led me to write on this is a study I've been doing in Colossians recently, specifically Colossians 2. Within this chapter (as well as chapter 1) we find the preeminence of Christ and the centrality of Christ. We find Paul urging Christians in Colossae to not be deceived into thinking that their power, holiness, righteousness, etc. comes by other means than through Christ.
I was reading through the text of Colossians 2 again the other morning and as I read, Colossians 2:9 stood out to me. It announces to us that in Christ dwelleth all the fulness of Divinity. This is an outstanding statement! How could the entirety of the Almighty dwell within humanity; I'm not sure, but that is what the Scripture says. This same strand appears in the earlier chapter of this epistle of Paul (Colossians 1:19) as well as in the words of John the Baptist when he said that the Spirit (of Yahweh) dwelt in the Messiah without measure (John 3:34). Truly, the Almighty was in the Messiah reconciling the world unto himself (1 Corinthians 5:17-21). Yahweh dwelt within Yeshua in a way in which no other had been indwelt before nor ever will be after; Yeshua really was the Son of Almighty Yahweh.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.