Searching scripture is quite a learning process. Some are content with never opening a Bible and just learning what they can from a verse of scripture a week in a half hour sermon. Other people read the Bible and have their questions answered by the commentary at the bottom of the page. I did this with a New King James study Bible. I would try to make sense of what I heard in a sermon with what I read. When it didn’t make sense I would read the commentary at the bottom of the page.
One day I started to wonder, “Who wrote this commentary? What is there belief system, and what makes them correct?” This is a valid question. For example, if a person reads a Scofield study Bible, the notes will lead them to a dispensationalism view of scripture. Scofield taught there were different ages, such as the age of the law and the age of grace. Other study Bibles may present a different bias. These are man’s opinions, and therefore subject to error. It is also why teachings in various churches do not always agree with scripture and commentaries. It is easy to view scripture only from the lense of one’s pastor, favourite teacher or study Bible, but then it forces one to skip scripture that doesn’t fit, or do mental gymnastics to make it work. This is hard to do for an honest person searching for truth.
Once a person realizes the commentary in their Bible is only as good as the person who wrote it, the search starts for better commentaries, different commentaries, and old commentaries. Some of the best commentaries on scripture are from the early church fathers. There are many great writings from the second to fifth centuries. It is easy to see the belief systems change from a commandment following, hunted, monotheistic sect, to a trinitarian, philosophical, war machine, better known as the Holy Roman Empire. It also becomes clear that many of the early church fathers were anti-Semitic.
John Chrysostom, a fifth century church father, laments about people in the church observing the feast days of the creator in Against the Jews Homily I.
“what am I to do? Another very serious illness calls for any cure my words can bring, an illness which has become implanted in the body of the Church. We must first root this ailment out and then take thought for matters outside; we must first cure our own and then be concerned for others who are strangers.
(5) What is this disease? The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now. My homilies against the Anomians can be put off to another time, and the postponement would cause no harm. But now that the Jewish festivals are close by and at the very door, if I should fail to cure those who are sick with the Judaizing disease. I am afraid that, because of their ill-suited association and deep ignorance, some Christians may partake in the Jews’ transgressions; once they have done so, I fear my homilies on these transgressions will be in vain. For if they hear no word from me today, they will then join the Jews in their fasts; once they have committed this sin it will be useless for me to apply the remedy.”
The next issue comes from the Bible translations themselves. Where did they come from? Which is the best? Why are there missing books in some translations? This is where the Strong’s concordance comes into play. Strong’s is a system where each Greek and Hebrew word is numbered so the translation of the English word that is used can be compared to the original language. After a while it is apparent that the bias of Strong is in his concordance. Thayer follows suit. The translated words and phrases are stuck in the 19th century, not the fifth century BCE or the first century CE. They are still very useful, just biased. In other words, we should be looking for what the Greek word meant to its first century audience, not how we understood it, made it fit our theology or translated it in the 19th century.
At some point, the Bible student will learn about the Nikkud. These are the vowel points added to the Hebrew text by the Masoretic Jews. For example, the word for Adam is spelled Aleph, Dalet, Mem. Depending on the added vowel points, the word could be Adam, Edom, or Adom, meaning red. I am sure the Masorites that added the vowel points had good intentions, but it does lock in words to specific meanings to their biases. So in places that speak of Edom, it could be speaking of Adam, meaning mankind, although I know of no specific instance.
The good news is that if a person seeks God with all their heart, He will answer.
Mat 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Mat 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
God showed me the truth of scripture. It is truth and can be found anywhere in the torah, prophets, writings, gospels and epistles. It is one continuous stream of consciousness from God. Call it the Aleph Tav or the beginning to end, it is the Word, the Messiah, and He came in the flesh to tell us in person.
Joh 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Joh 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
Joh 14:17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
Joh 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Joh 14:19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
Joh 14:20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
Joh 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Joh 14:22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Joh 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Joh 14:24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
It was not until I became obedient through faith that the scriptures were revealed to me. Scriptures that previously made no sense started jumping off the pages. I needed the whole journey to get to that place. I was steeped in dispensational doctrine from the time I was a child, where the commandments were “nailed to the cross”. It wasn’t until God challenged me to start keeping His commandments that I started to gain the understanding I was seeking. Even though I read it over and over again, I couldn’t see. Joh 14:15-17, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth”
Once I understood, it became a great burden to tell others. The parables all took on new meaning. I did not want to be the worthless servant who hid what he had, angering the Master.
Mat 25:24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,
Mat 25:25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’
Mat 25:26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?
Mat 25:27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
Mat 25:28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.
Mat 25:29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
Mat 25:30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
No one wants to end up in the outer darkness, or see friends and family going there.
Lev 19:17 “‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall surely rebuke your fellow citizen, so that you do not incur sin along with him.
Lev 19:18 You shall not seek vengeance, and you shall not harbor a grudge against your fellow citizens; and you shall love your neighbor like yourself; I am Yahweh.
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