Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal

Sunday, August 21, 2016

In Love With The World

Scott Lively has a sad editorial here entitled "World Vision loses sight of the Bible". The thrust of his thesis (which has merit) is that Christian institutions have a dangerous tendency to lose their biblical grounding and adopt worldly compromises the larger and more prosperous they become.

Recently, the Christian mega-charity World Vision was exposed and publicly shamed by the nation of Israel for allowing diversion of donor money to the Hamas terror organization.

... I’d like to remind everyone of the giant red flag the Lord gave us in March of 2014 about the extent to which World Vision had departed from the biblical worldview in its declaration of support for “gay marriage.”

There’s a lesson here about Christian institutions having a tendency to lose their biblical grounding and adopt worldly compromises the larger and more prosperous they become. Harvard University was established to train young men for Bible-centered ministry, and look at it today .... There’s tremendous pressure on Bible-based entities these days, and the more their focus is on money, or preserving the institution rather than the founders’ vision, the more they compromise.

There is a passing reference to the disciple Demas in Paul's last letter; 2 Tim 4:10 - "For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica." In Aug 2013, Gordon Franz published an online article entitled "Demas: Lover of This Present World". Here are extracts:

Demas first appears in the Bible when he was in Rome during the Apostle Paul’s first imprisonment (AD 60-62).  Paul is under house arrest in his rented house and is allowed visitors (Acts 28:30, 31).  In the last chapter of the Book of Colossians there are at least eight believers with Paul at this time who are known by the saints in the Lycus Valley where Colossae is located.  Six of them send their greetings to the churches in the valley (Col. 4:10-14), five of them will send their personal greetings to Philemon at Colossae as well (Philemon 23, 24).  Justus, apparently was not known by Philemon.  Two other brothers, Tychicus and Onesimus, will take the letters back to the valley (Col. 4:7-9).

The two lists of greetings provide small details about Demas.  In Colossians, he is listed with Luke and Epaphras (4:12-14), where they are set in contrast with the three Jewish believers, Aristarchus, Mark, and Jesus – called Justus, mentioned previously (4:10, 11).  This passage seems to indicate that Demas was a Gentile.

In the greetings to Philemon, Demas is included in the statement that he is a fellow laborer with Paul (Philemon 24). The word “fellow-laborer” (sunergos) has the idea of a co-worker. W. D. Thomas pointed out that the “word implies that two people are working closely together as partners, sharing work and responsibility.  There is even the suggestion of equality in the word co-worker.”  He goes on to say that Demas was a “close confidant of Paul, sharing the Apostle’s vision of winning the world for God” (1983-84: 179). Apparently Demas was a visiting missionary to the Lycus Valley at one time because they knew him, thus his greetings to them.  He was not a local brother like Epaphras (4:12). As for the timing of his visit to the Lycus Valley, the Scriptures are silent.

The Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest states: “The Greek word ‘forsaken’ (egkataleipo) means ‘to abandon, desert, leave in straits, leave helpless, leave in the lurch, let one down’” (1966:2: 164).

... Why Demas went to Thessalonica, and what he did there is not revealed in the Scriptures.  Hanson gives a tantalizing note in his commentary on the Pastoral Epistles.  He said: “A copyist in a manuscript preserved in the Medici Library in Florence adds in the margin the information that Demas became a priest of a pagan temple at Thessalonica.  On what authority he says this we do not know” (1966: 100).  If this footnote is true, the allurement that Demas fell for was the pride of life.

“Golden-mouth” John Chrysostom, the eloquent preacher who lived about AD 400 suggests that “having loved his own ease and security from danger, he has chosen rather to live luxuriously at home, than to suffer hardships” apparently with Paul (quoted in Oden 1989:176).  If this is the case, the allurement that Demas fell for was the lust of the flesh because he wanted the easy life.

W. F. Boyd conjectures: “In this case the prospect of civil honors may have been the reason which led him to abandon the hardships and dangers of the Apostle’s life and return to Thessalonica, where his family may have help positions of influence” (1916: 287).  If this is the case, the allurement that enticed Demas was again the pride of life.

Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, in the first half of the 2nd century AD, wrote an epistle to the church at Philippi.  In the ninth chapter of his epistle, he listed some of the martyrs of the early church: Ignatius, Zosimus, Rufus, Paul and other apostles, and said that all these had not “run in vain” because they did not “love this present world” (Polycarp to the Philippians 9:1, 2; LCL I: 295).  Polycarp hints at the fact that he is referring to Demas when he lists the martyrs and said they did not love this present world.  The implication was that Demas did not want to be a martyr so he abandoned Paul in Rome just before he was executed.  If this is the case, the allurement that enticed Demas was the pride of life.  He valued his earthy life more than receiving the crown of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10).

... Jesus gives a series of parables during the fall of AD 28 from a boat in a cove of the Sea of Galilee.  While speaking to the multitude that is seated in the natural amphitheater to the west of Capernaum, He spots a farmer sowing seeds on the hillside. He says, “Let me tell you about the four different types of soil that the seed is falling onto.  The first soil was actually the road that runs along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Here, the birds of the air ate the seeds.  The second soil was the stony ground. The seeds spouted for a short while until the heat of the sun scorched the plant and it withered away.  The third soil that the seeds fell on was the thorny ground.  Here the thorns eventually choked the plants. The final soil that the seeds fell on was good soil and the plants produced 30, 60 and 100 fold” (Matt. 13:3-9; Mark 4:1-8; Luke 8:4-8). Later, when Jesus interpreted this parable to His disciples, He said of the second soil, that when tribulation and persecution came, the believer would stumble.  Of the third soil, He said that because of the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, the word of God is choked in the life of the believer and he becomes unfruitful (Matt. 13:18-23; Mark 4:13-20; Luke 8:11-15; for a full discussion of the Parable of the Four Soils, see Quick 1977).  Demas “loving this present world” would fall in either the second or third soils. This was not the normal Christian life, but rather, the sub-normal Christian Life. The fourth soil was the normal Christian life, producing fruit in the life of the believer.

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