Ye that know righteousness

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7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart [is] my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. This message is to those who are Jews, who believe in Jesus, and see salvation becoming available to Gentiles, and deal with behavior not godly from their peers. It is a real challenge, and they must re-think many things. Romans tells them their righteousness was not the righteousness of God, but something much less, and they had to accept it was not much better than Gentiles behavior anyway. It is shaping up to be a real tight argument just like the Roman letter.

8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation. The law of Moses was going to end. They used it as a way to measure their righteousness. It could not to be used like that. Because they used it that way it had to be removed. How could forgiveness be understood, while the law was misused?

9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. [Art] thou not it that hath cut Rahab, [and] wounded the dragon? The thing they denied, is the only thing in their world that would continue. Reference to Rahab and the dragon being defeated, speaks of the victory of Israel over Egypt. Rahab, which means “breadth” is an emblematic name for Egypt, where the dragon speaks of the crocodile of the Nile river adopted as an emblem of Egypt. Drying up the waters of the Red Sea providing a path for Israel to cross, completing this reference to Egypt and the delivery of God’s people. The God whose righteousness they claimed to follow is the one who destroyed Egypt, and stole his people away. They might like to ask; on what basis did he destroy one people, to save another? Was it because the one was more worthy than the other? Everything we know of that event tells us the people were far from their God.

God takes them back to Egypt to teach them, God did not choose them because they were more righteous than Egypt? His plan was to deliver Egypt through them.

10 [Art] thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? And because he delivered them then, they have the assurance he will deliver them again. Their rightness is not the issue. If it were, they would have cause for concern. They would have reason to doubt. But it does not depend on them, just as it did not depend on them when delivered from Egypt. They are God’s redeemed. A ransom given for them. We are getting to the issue of Romans. The redeemed delivered based on faith. It is a gift.

11 Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy [shall be] upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; [and] sorrow and mourning shall flee away. Zion elevated in the earth. The people will joy over the city of David. Jew and Gentile will be glad, and God will be seen to be the only one who does as he claims he will do. Remember he is addressing the faithful, intimidated by the law keepers, and he asks them to explain, why be frightened by mere men? They understand these things, and yet cower from the argument of these thugs.

If their hope was based on law, and they did not keep the law, then they have little to be happy and confident about. But if it is faith, they have joy and gladness and comfort.

My righteousness is near

Opportunities

3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. Look at the way his people responded when he invited those of the other nations to be part of his salvation. If they were not more righteous, why should they complain. When the people of the world witness God’s judgment on his chosen people, they will immediately see that he is not inferring the people are righteous. They will see it is not a pretense. They will see that his judgment is right. They will also see how it is they can be part of it. We learn a lot about God, from his judgments on Israel.

4 Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. The Jews would be the first to tell the Gentiles how far away the salvation of God was from them. To be as righteous as they, it would be necessary to begin instruction immediately, with little hope of completing it this side of the person’s death. So God’s salvation was far away. The Isles, who will be the last ones visited, can forget about it. These words infer a great change. They infer it will not be like Israel, who tried to be righteous under law.

5 My righteousness [is] near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust. There is no sense trusting in God if there is nothing he can do for you. If God is bound by his own laws of righteousness, and Gentiles are far from righteous, they have little hope. Look at the arrangements in this world, and you will see the flaws. And if it is faulty, it must pass away. It cannot continue, and cannot be forever.

God challenges the Jewish view, and tells everyone his righteousness is near. The people in the isles can trust in that.

6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. A garment has a limited time for it waxes old and falls apart. The rulers of this world and those ruled, will pass away. By any measure we apply, it must be. So the only thing that will remain is God’s promise of salvation. God’s righteousness does not need to be changed. It is forever.

The message changes, and those who are the Israel of God are addressed. These are the ones who bear the reproach of those who follow after righteousness. These are the ones who know righteousness, who understand they are not righteous, but walk in the spirit of the law, because it is written in their heart. There will always be hostility from those who falsely claim to be God’s people. In Israel the nation, they had control. In the first century when the letter to Rome was written, they were an aggressive force. They rejected the idea God’s salvation could come to unrighteous Gentiles.

What gets old and dies is the law and those arrangements, and a new way begins. That is what the letter to the Romans is about.

Look to Abraham

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PREFACE

The first verse of Isaiah chapter 51 reads; “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock [whence] ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit [whence] ye are digged”. The Jew was the one who followed righteousness. They sought God. But they needed to look at the hole from which they were dug. They needed to look at Abraham their father, a Syrian, ready to perish, when called out.

Isaiah 51 is the chapter in this prophecy connected with the Letter to the Romans. There is one chapter for each book of the inspired word. It is the signature of God and it makes every chapter of Isaiah a prophecy.

When we come to the last verse of the chapter we discover; “But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.” Gentiles need to see they came out of the same hole in the ground. If Gentiles allow Jews to govern, when they have a faulty view of the ways of God, they risk rejection as God rejected the Jews.

We are told in the subject of this book; verse 13 “And forget the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where [is] the fury of the oppressor?” To know God, all we need to do is look at what he made. This is the view that will teach us the truth, not the narrow view of the religious fanatics, who want to control everything.

We need to remember where we came from. We need to know the one who made the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth, for he is the one who made us. And as far as fearing what will happen is concerned, we need to ask, “Why do I do that?” God is our protector. Where is the fury of the oppressor?

We can make it a complicated matter, but you are forgetting what you ought to know. The God of Israel is your God. What is the enemy going to do to harm you? There is nothing he can do.

1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock [whence] ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit [whence] ye are digged. The natural seed of Israel need to listen. They were the ones who sought the Lord. They were the ones who boasted of all the people in the world, that they followed righteousness, as laid down in the law of God. God asks them now to hear what he has to say. In the letter to the Romans he says the world is wicked, so God gave them over to the result of their behavior, with the result they got worse and worse. The Jews agreed the world was wicked, but Paul points out they do the same thing. So if God gave over the Gentiles to the result of their sin, why would he not give Israel over to the same fate. They followed righteousness, but they were not righteous, they were no better than those they despised.

Abraham was a Syrian in idolatrous Ur of the Chaldea’s. Were they righteous? They could claim to have been worked on, and the rough places smoothed, but the rock from which they were taken, was not any better than any other rock in the quarry. When you look back at the hole left, it is not a wonderful hole, something of which you could be proud. Because it was no different than any other.

2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah [that] bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. Of all the people in the world then, Abraham and Sarah were called alone. They have to be the ones from whom all the others came. They were no more righteous than other members of their family, yet none of the others were called to go out. And the record of Abraham and Sarah’s lives do not explain righteous behavior, for we have a list of faults. Chosen for their faith, God blessed them. They increased. And their posterity will have joy and gladness, but not because they are more righteous than their fellows.

When you look closely at Abraham you do not see a righteous man, you see a faithful man.

Romans

"Hippopotamus - 04" by Kabacchi -
“Hippopotamus – 04” by Kabacchi –

INTRODUCTION

The subject is “the righteousness of God”. There are those who say; it is Law and Grace, or it is The Atonement, a means of reconciliation of God and man, or it is man’s evil ways in contrast with a just and forgiving God. It is all of these and more, but the primary argument concerns God’s righteousness, and all other issues simply divert attention away from the real question that needs an answer. Is God righteous, presiding as he does over a world in chaos, when we know he has the power to make it right?

All people have at some stage in their lives asked “is God righteous?” Most answer as quickly as they ask, that he is righteous, because he claims to be, and he is God after all. God is not afraid of the question, and neither is Paul. But many have seen some irregularities they cannot explain, and abandon hope resolving it.

The question is; can we accept the answer. Are we prepared to listen to the argument? Do we want to know, or are we comfortable with ideas handed down from those who claim to know?

The parish priest has comforted his flock with the idea that good prevails in the end, and the wicked receive their just deserts. Most of the bereaved satisfy themselves their loved ones go on to better things. The Army Chaplain consoles relatives with the idea it was a just cause, and God’s favor shines down on those cut off in their prime. All men and women have an answer, though it perplexes some to know why things happen as they do. Is it fair, is it right, on what basis does calamity occur in the life of one, and another less worthy escape? Those who genuinely want to know must take the time to consider this letter Paul wrote to the Romans. The answer now set in a framework of argument covering all aspects of the issue. To ignore one element is to leave the question unresolved. It is not an open question, for it can be understood and resolved. All fear and doubt dispelled. God is righteous, and Paul will prove it to all who have an ear to hear.

What does it mean to be righteous? The word in its various forms appears sixty times in this single letter. There is no mystery about the word, though some make it mean more or less than it does. The context in which used in this letter, will clearly explain what it means. It is simply, being right as in; just, equitable, fair, consistent, true, in all matters involving God. This definition gives everyone the opportunity to challenge the answer from their own experience. And this is what people need to do, because the rightness of a matter affects the individual’s opinion of what ought to be. The issues raised in this letter leave no room for complaint. Paul asks you to decide from his arguments, what ought to be. This is not unreasonable, for we should expect to consider the matter from God’s view.

The procedure will be, to read the text of the letter and give the sense. No other approach will yield the result we want. We restrict comment to things necessary to give this sense. If the sense flows from the context and a verse needs no further explanation, then we will avoid comment. Only by this means will the flow of the argument captured. If I fail to carry this sense, then I am sorry.

The text is the King James Version and appears in bold type indented from the left and right margins with the verse number at the beginning. We cite other versions only when the text is too obscure and authoritative help is needed. Reference to other passages of the scripture kept to a minimum, as this diverts attention and leads the student up side tracks. We do not want to lose you. This subject is too important.

This book is not a paraphrase, though to some it may take that form. A Paraphrase changes the arrangement of words in inspired text so they shed more light on what is said. This is too rigid an approach to satisfy the goals of this work. It is to be a thorough exposition of the matters dealt with in Romans. If you discover a matter not treated in this book, when you expected it to be, you need to ask yourself first, is it treated in Romans, or is it just that you would like it dealt with there? One of the problems with a Romans study is we digress from the issue that concerns Paul to one that concerns us. When we do this we write an amended letter without the inspiration, other readers do not appreciate this approach

I desire fruit

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     17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. It is as if Paul encouraged this, so God would see their carefulness. You would need to believe God sees everything to employ a strategy like this. This believer community believes in the work Paul is doing.

     18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. They knew what was in that package. It was not a small package, perhaps a couple of saddlebags full, but a welcome gift to a person with few luxuries.

     19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. They gave Paul what he needed that he could not provide himself. Paul was confident God would supply them what they needed that they could not supply. And that would be worth having

     20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. In the end all the praise goes to God the father for ever and ever. He is out maker. He delivered us. He gives us seventy years of life to work out our salvation. He calls us to the truth. He teaches us to handle the work he assigns to us, and he keeps us from all evil. Jesus is our saviour for he gave himself for us. The is worthy to be king. He is second only to God.

     21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. God calls every believer. Therefore, every believer is important. This is a family, and our role is to protect each other. Our task is not to police them or iron out their faults as we see it. We protect them from all that assaults them. This is all we do.

     22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. To tell us Caesar’s household embraced the teachings of Paul is a surprise. It tells us Paul’s teaching methods have impact. How did he get to them? They told each other. They wanted a slice of what this man had to offer. They believed in his God.

     23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. To the Philippians written from Rome, by Epaphroditus. We can see Paul dictating while Epaphroditus wrote on the scroll. Imagine him arriving and Paul saying; we should start writing them a letter, so it is ready when you go back. It takes time to write letters like this. God inspired it. Isaiah told us what the letter would contain so God planned it. Paul understood that what he needed to say, God said and he knew the subject was; “In that day shall a man look to his maker”. Paul stands before the living proof of this prophecy, as he followed every word of the letter.

God of peace

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     9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Being Paul was difficult, for he had to think how will everyone interpret what I do here? When I decide this way what reaction will it have? The focus is total. He had no time for a wife or family. We beat ourselves up because we do not focus enough, but the distractions. This is what the letters are about. They help to focus the mind.

     10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. They did not have to think of him, for he was far away in prison and they had local issues to think about. But they did worry about him and they did care. To Paul this means, they are not thinking of themselves as much as they are about the truth. This is love of the brethren. This is Christ in you, the hope of glory. This is working together for good.

     11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. He needed to assure him their anxious thought is not necessary for he does not want anything. What he has, when he has nothing, is enough. This is a person with no personal ambition. He has managed to direct all his attention to the welfare of those over whom he has charge.

     12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. He treats these two impostors the same. They are impostors in that they turn everything inward, and this is not an important measure of what is real. If these thoughts only linger on individual wants, then look for another set of thoughts. Not many people manage to do what Paul can do. We arrange matters so we do not battle any of these extremes especially the uncomfortable ones.

     13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Do we feel God or the Lord is unaware of our plight? Paul did not suffer this doubt, so it comes to our belief. It can be hard, but it is not for a long time, and it passes.

     14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. It was received with thanks. He appreciated the relief. It worked for him on many levels, filling him with positive thoughts. It can get lonely, and this is where we can lend support.

     15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. People appointed by God have feelings too. They suffer insecurity and self-doubt, especially when dismissed under a cloud. If nobody has sympathy for the cause, they wilt under the load, like everyone. In 2nd Corinthians 11:9 Paul tells them; “And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.”

     The cause here was a personal one. He did not want anyone to think what he did was of personal benefit to him. Many in the community traveled and ministered at the expense of the community. Money and benefits is a sensitive issue, and abuse can occur. Paul removed all doubt about this by refusing to take anything for expenses. This is extreme and some say unnecessary. But it was important to Paul. They claimed he was a damaged person and landed on people expecting them to take him in and pay for his needs. It was not true, and he stole from them any opportunity to level it as an attack. Knowing how sensitive Paul was about this, the Philippians made sure they gave liberally to his expenses. They were the only ones to notice his need of support. Travelers have limited-access to wages. They need to set aside for expenses.

     16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. There was no time to set up shop and gather an income from tent repairs. As soon as he arrived he was set upon. First order of business must be to pay the bills. For Paul this was a constant struggle hampering the work. So thoughtful was the Philippian ecclesia they anticipated his problem and made sure it was not too much of a burden. That is caring and sharing.

Chapter 4

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     1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. He warns them because he knows these other forces exist and are at work. If they do not take care these forces will win and the truth lost. If it was not a threat Paul would not raise it. Taking sides in an argument is a serious matter. We need to choose. We need to get it right. It is so easy to influence people to go one way or the other. We need to ensure we send them the right way.

     2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. Clearly these sisters were not getting along. Paul does not comment on who is right and who is wrong. It is not the issue. Being right is not important. Keeping the peace is important. If we suffer wrong, because we keep the peace then this makes it right. There was a time when the mantra was peace at any price is wrong. In its place we put right above peace. This means we can argue till the cows come home. Paul did not subscribe to this. If the ecclesia is not a place of refuge, then it is nothing. Find a way to keep the peace.

     3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Paul knew both women worked hard to build this community. The true yokefellow may be Luke, but someone had to intervene to shut this dispute down. If it festers it will cause division. These are people on their way to the kingdom. This issue cannot be allowed to go on. It is not that important. Many women make up this meeting. The women must learn to get along. This means letting go. Make an issue as we used to do when in the world, and we work against the truth. We do not have this a choice to allow this. A brother must apply reason to this dispute. Is it so important we can allow it to destroy the community? The answer is no, nothing is that important.

     4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. It is hard to be competitive and angry when rejoicing. It takes your focus away. What we think about is foreign to ambition. We lose sight of the reasons to rejoice and fall into the fug of doing. There is much to focus on and what has we received we cannot forget.

     5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. We get a reputation for excess. People look for moderation and restraint. It means other things are important. We struggle with the idea of “the Lord being at hand”, when he takes so long to arrive. We can treat it as misleading, and forget our whole life is a little space. When do we have time to be excessive?

     6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. We fret about small things, letting large and important one’s slip by. We are a feeble folk. Not material for kings and priests, more shopkeepers and dressmakers. Consider the larger matters, like changing our world, and latch on to a project that matters.

     7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. This peace creates contentment. We cannot at the same time be anxious about trivial issues. If it passes all understanding it must be unique. It might be a good thing to experience this. I am sure few people do. Peace is not a treasure people seek. It is the first thing lost when something comes up. Scratch the surface and we get a fierce reaction. Ruffle some feathers and we hear the screech.

     8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. If we busy ourselves with these, we cannot at the same time focus on negative issues. The thoughts are too far apart to connect. We want to be this together person but will not work hard enough to preserve it. We spend much time puzzling over how to fix this, and how to mend that when it is simple. Just forgo some of what we want.

End is destruction

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undervater shoot of swimming pool with swimmer

     19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) They saw an opportunity. This is all it was to them. Control is what it amounts to and convincing people to fall in behind them is all they had to do. These are vulnerable people who do not know what to do to be true. The enemies know exactly what to do. Convince them you are the leader and do it with force. They will comply. They suffer the bossing around. An ecclesia is different, because nobody has power to force anything on anybody. This is the truth we are dealing with here. The truth must be true.

     20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. One thing we believe is; God knows everything going on. He knows what we must do, and he is trying to influence it in that direction. Stand in the way of that and he will run over-the-top of you. In this community there are no slick moves, no cunning plans, no subverting what is true. This is the believer community and God has a plan to deliver these people.

     21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Think for a moment how it would be if we, through ambition prevent this. Standing in the middle of it, and directing it the wrong way. This is a marvelous work. We cannot stand in the way of this. Everything will be subdued eventually, it is just a matter of time. We may turn it to suit us, but if it is not godly, then it is not his community.

Righteousness

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     9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. What we have when we keep the law is our own righteousness, not the righteousness of God. It is not righteousness in God’s sight. What we have in Christ is forgiveness of sins, even though guilty as charged. That leaves us way ahead of people under the Law. Plus the deliverance.

     10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death. What we do is embrace all of what Jesus is and does. We die to this world to gain the kingdom. We are not of this world and what others do is of no interest to us. How then can we struggle against each other for supremacy. This is not what Jesus did. His resurrection is to life and that is the deliverance we need. He suffered, and we fellowship this as well. We forgo all else to gain the kingdom. Then what is this power struggle inside the meeting about?

     11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Paul’s life was struggle. Not for control of them, just to educate them. We need to know what Jesus did and what he carried out so we can follow it. He was perfect and we have a pardon to overcome that. But in all other matters, we want to be like him. If we manage to follow his way, we to are resurrected as part of his body. It is important to realize that Paul in all the agony he endued did not assume he would be raised to life. What he did was in hope of the pardon.

     12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Paul is not righteous as God is righteous, so it depends on God’s mercy. He believes God is faithful and he will receive the blessing, but there is no assuming. This would be arrogant. God must accept what we believe, and like what we do. We must act toward the brethren as Christ would do or they will be damaged and we rebuked. That leaves little room for ambition in the community. He makes this point again.

     13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. We cannot change what we have done in the past, but we can control how we go in what is before us. So watching what we do and how we do it is vital. It must always be building on what the community needs. Like it or not, we are our brother’s keeper. There can be no escape from this. This is who we are and what we do.

     14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. For Paul the mark is set at finishing what he started. It was hard to do while in prison, and through fellow soldiers. This was a war. Paul must keep fighting. Our struggle by comparison is much less than this, but it needs the same spirit. It is what we saw in Jesus. And we need focus.

     15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. He speaks to people who lead the ecclesia in their area. They think they do what must be done. If they discover it is not as pure as it ought to be then ask God to help fix it. It must be right or it will not work. It must work, because God is doing it through us.

     16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Continuing to do what we have already done would be a good plan. That worked well. Do not change a thing. That is a strategy. Many just do what they know they must. If we follow their example, we do well. This is new territory and doing what works makes sense.

     17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. We say it is hard to know who to follow because they pull us this way and that way. But it is not that hard. It must be godly or it is not of God.

     18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. Some who began well have turned to become enemies of Christ. How can this happen? He has mentioned it in other letters, and the Philippians were not free from these behaviors. It brought Paul to tears thinking about it. He was doing one thing, and they opposed him to teach another gospel, and worship another God. This outburst is in parenthesis as another matter, but it reflects the pressures Paul was under. He feared their effect on his precious community. If his followers could do good these others could do much damage.

Chapter 3

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     1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Here is a warning. You will face in the meeting people who want to use you. Having spoken about their member willing to die for the truth, he turns to speak of people who run the ecclesia as a business, gaining what they want at the cost of peace. How could they do that?

     2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. Watch out for them, for they will appear. Paul does not speak directly about them but we know they were present. And it was all about the money. In our community we ensure money is not an issue for we account scrupulously. But some cannot help themselves. Money is power, and power is money. Religion today is big business. The tithe of ten percent can make a tidy profit and people go after it. They play on guilt, and extract as much as they can. It is a lie because they do not give it to God, they use it for their own purposes. He calls them dogs because they had no moral code. He calls them evil workers because they are the busiest of all, but it is for the wrong reasons. And the concision just wanted control. Jewish religion taught them ten present of everything adds to a tidy sum. If the Gentiles flourish they could quintuple their money. Gentiles were wealthy and ten percent of that goes a long way.

What they needed to do is convince them the worthy should rule, and you gain control. You need a Rabbi type as the front man, but he knows how to play the game. He receives payment, but the real power vests in the people who make money talk.

People refused to accept it is as simple as this, but this is how it works in all Christian communities. Now we discover the power they wanted was over the unprotected children.

     3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Three things to notice about the concision is they worship God by being obedient to his rules and regulation. And these are what they enforce on everyone else. These people do not rejoice in Christ because he exposes their excess, and they believe in human champions who become their hero’s with superpowers. These are not godly people. They occupy the extreme end of humanism. We do the opposite of these people.

     4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more. We do not usually focus on human things, but Paul chooses to do it to make the issue clear. Doing this pulls the rug from under their strategy of misinformation. They claim superpowers. They do things others cannot do. This entitles them to privilege.

     5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee. The Jew thought himself fortunate to be wellborn. This gave him the start people need to go straight to the top of the tree. If your parents can afford it and you go to the right schools, you become a Pharisee.

     6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. Evidence of worthiness comes in the causes we adopt. Paul selected his causes well. I had it all, and gave it away counting it as nothing of value.

     7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. There was nothing there except a grounding in Old Testament teachings. Even them they claimed I misread all of those.

     8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. A child growing up in a Christian Sunday School advance further, for he has not lost all that time. Our children do have the best of it, if they use it well. It is sad to live half your life and begin again. This is what Paul did. God put him through a speeded up course of learning so he could do this work. But there is regret in the way he tells this story.