Treasures from God’s Word and Digging for Spiritual Gems – “Be my follower- What is needed” (Luke 8-9)

Luke 8:3 – How were these Christians “ministering” to Jesus and the apostles? (“were ministering to them”)(nwtsty)

It is interesting that the full flavour of the meaning of diakoneo is brought out here. I.e. “to wait at the table, or to serve (generally)”. The study note says “The Greek word di·a·ko·neʹo can refer to caring for the physical needs of others by obtaining, cooking, and serving food, and so forth. It is used in a similar sense at Luke 10:40 (“attend to things”), Luke 12:37 (“minister”), Luke 17:8 (“serve”), and Acts 6:2 (“distribute food”), but it can also refer to all other services of a similar personal nature.” This meaning, the core meaning of ‘minister’, is virtually never used by the organization when discussing those they consider ‘older men’.

Why is this meaning given here in the study notes? It seems it is because the scripture here is talking about women, as it mentions Joanna, Susanna and many other women who were using their personal belongings to help support Jesus and his disciples as they went from city to city. Should not this serving also apply to men and particular the shepherds of the congregation? As discussed before, James 5:14 does not refer to spiritual healing as interpreted by the organization, but rather, greasing with oil was a common practice when someone was ill back in the first century. Even today we frequently apply different oils to various ailments, and often the massaging of them into the skin also assists in the healing process. Does it not smack of hypocrisy to translate diakoneo as serving others needs when referring to women and yet when diakoneo is used with men then somehow it is interpreted as exercising or holding authority as a minister over others, instead of serving others needs? Is this an example of male chauvinism?

Talk: Should we regret any sacrifices that we have made for the sake of the Kingdom? (w12 3/15 27-28 para 11-15)

This portion of the article is based on Philippians 3:1-11. It would therefore be good to examine the context rather than interpreting specific verses in isolation.

  • (Verse 3)“For we are those with the real circumcision” as opposed to (verse 5) “circumcised the eighth day, out of the family stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew [born] from Hebrews”.
    • Paul was saying that being circumcised in Christ and being part of Spiritual Israel as a Christian was far superior to that of being of good family descent of fleshly Israel. (Colossians 2:11,12)
  • (Verse 3) “who are rendering sacred service by God’s spirit” instead of sacred service via the Mosaic Law because of birth. (Hebrews 8:5, 2 Timothy 1:3)
  • Verse 3 – “have our boasting in Christ Jesus and do not have our confidence in the flesh.” It was more important to boast of being a disciple of Christ than a fleshly ‘son of Abraham’. (Matthew 3:9, John 8:31-40)
  • (Verse 5b) “as respects law, a Pharisee” – Paul while he was ‘Saul’ kept the strict law of the Pharisees, i.e. all the extra traditions added to the Mosaic Law.
  • (Verse 6) “as respects zeal, persecuting the congregation;” (Galatians 1:14-15, Romans 10:2-4) – The zeal Paul had been displaying was for maintaining the status of the Pharisaical ruling class against the early Christians.
  • (Verse 6) “as respects righteousness that is by means of law, one who proved himself blameless.” (Romans 10:3-10) – The righteousness Paul had been previously displaying was that of obedience to the Mosaic Law.

So the gains Paul had before becoming a Christian were:

  • Acknowledgement of being descended from a pure Jewish family that followed the Mosaic Law as it was required.
  • Acknowledgement of being a zealous devotee to the traditions of the Pharisees (the predominant Jewish political party)
  • The fame of being prominent as a persecutor of the Christians.

These were the things he viewed as “as a lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ”. When he became a Christian he used his education to the benefit of his new faith. It enabled him to preach to high officials of the Roman Empire in an eloquent way. (Acts 24:10-27, Acts 25:24-27) It also enabled him to write a big portion of the Christian Scriptures.

However the organization uses Paul’s experience this way: “Sad to say, some look back on sacrifices they made in the past and view them as missed opportunities. Perhaps you had opportunities for higher education, for prominence, or for financial security, but you decided not to pursue them. Many of our brothers and sisters have left behind lucrative positions in the fields of business, entertainment, education, or sports.”. 

The organization is here condoning these “sacrifices”. But why did many make these “sacrifices”? For most it was because they believed the organization’s claims that Armageddon would come very shortly and that by making these sacrifices they were pleasing God. But what is the reality? The article continues “Now time has passed, and the end has not yet arrived.” So that is the real problem. Failed promises (from the organization) and failed expectations.

We are then asked: “Do you fantasize about what could have happened had you not made those sacrifices?” This is has to be a common problem otherwise it would not have been voiced. You do not waste space in such an article on a non-existent problem.  Is it any wonder given the history of failed promises.[i] So what does this have to do with Paul and Philippians 3? According to the article this: “Paul did not regret any of the secular opportunities that he had left behind. He no longer felt that they were worthwhile”.

Above we discussed what Paul gave up according to the Scriptures. Did these secular opportunities include a higher education? No, he was already educated. It had contributed to his sound knowledge of Scripture. Acts 9:20-22 says in part “But Saul kept on acquiring power all the more and was confounding the Jews that dwelt in Damascus as he proved logically that this is the Christ.” This was shortly after his eyesight was restored after his vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus. Did he view his education in the Scriptures at the feet of Gamaliel as a waste? Of course not. (Acts 22:3) It was what enabled him to so quickly become a fine advocate of Christ as the promised Messiah.

He even used his Roman citizenship to further the Good News. Something else we should not forget. Paul had received a personally delivered assignment from the glorified resurrected Jesus Christ. (Acts 26:14-18) None of us alive today have had such a privilege, so comparing what Paul did with what we should do and can do is like comparing apples with oranges.

So coming back to the theme question: “Should we regret any sacrifices that we have made for the sake of the Kingdom?” No, of course not, but we should make sure the sacrifices we make are those that we willingly make and will not ever regret. We should also make sure these sacrifices are actually required for the sake of the Kingdom and will benefit the Kingdom rather than for the sake of a man made organization. The sacrifices we make should not be those that are dictated or strongly suggested to us by other men.

Jesus did counsel not to pursue riches, but he neither did he require us nor suggest to us to give up a satisfying job, or the prospects of such.

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[i] When young I was assured I would not leave school before Armageddon came in 1975. I am now close to retirement yet Armageddon is still just round the corner. It is still allegedly imminent. Jesus told us in Matthew 24:36 “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” It will come, but not when we want or think it to be or others try to calculate it to be.

Tadua