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The words of the New Testament come to life. Studies from renowned New Testament scholar W. E. Vine will enrich and deepen your understanding of God?s Word. Reflections on Words of the New Testament presents important concepts found throughout the New Testament in straightforward language with special focus on how these words deepen your understanding of the meaning of Scripture.
The words of the New Testament come to life. Studies from renowned New Testament scholar W. E. Vine will enrich and deepen your understanding of God’s Word. Reflections on Words of the New Testament presents important concepts found throughout the New Testament in straightforward language with special focus on how these words deepen your understanding of the meaning of Scripture.
Abba is an Aramaic word found in Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; and Galatians 4:6. It is a more intimate name than Father, although both names are always used together in the New Testament as "Abba, Father." (This is probably due to the fact that Abba had effectively become a proper name in its own right, similar to the more formal use of Father, and Greek-speaking Jews had added the Greek pater [father] to their common use.) In the Gemara (a Rabbinical commentary on the Mishna, the traditional teaching of the Jews), it is stated that slaves were forbidden to address the head of the family by this title. The word Abba was the term used by little children to address their father, similar to our modern use of Daddy, and as such it was based upon a childlike, untested trust. The name Father, by contrast, expresses a more mature and well-reasoned expression of the parent-child relationship. The two together, however, express both a childlike love and an intelligent confidence.
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These distinctions between the terms Abba and Father underscore some important elements in a Christian's relationship to God. First, Abba expresses the absolute trust that a child instinctively places in his father, calling upon the Almighty God of Creation as Daddy. Such intimacy ought to take a believer by surprise; after all, we are mere sinners addressing a holy and righteous God—the same God who could only be approached by one man on special occasions under the law of Moses, and even that was done in the deepest humility. But Jesus ended those restrictions and provided free access into the presence of the holy God, even by the most common man. The believer does well, of course, to also remember that Daddy is God the Father, the omnipotent Creator of the universe. This is the element of spiritual maturity, when a believer can hold his Lord in deep awe and honor, while simultaneously rejoicing to run to His presence as a child races to meet his father, crying out "Daddy! Daddy!"
Finally, it is significant that the term abba was restricted to family members only. Slaves in Bible times were frequently given privileges and treated as "almost family" within godly homes, but they were never permitted to address their lord and master as abba. Jesus said to His disciples, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15). And Paul took us beyond being the friends of God to the point of adoption, for it is the privilege only of children to refer to the Father as Daddy. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:14–16).
This Greek word refers to an object of disgust, an abomination. It is used as an adjective (bdelyktos) in Titus 1:16 to describe deceivers who profess to know God while denying Him by their works. It is used in its noun form (as given here) in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 to describe the image that will be set up by the Antichrist. It is also used in Luke 16:15 to refer to something that is highly esteemed by men, despite its true character in the sight of God.
The constant association of this word with idolatry suggests that what is highly esteemed among men can become an idol in the human heart. In Revelation 21:27, entrance is forbidden into the holy city on the part of the unclean, or one who "causes an abomination or a lie." It is also used as the name of the evil woman and her golden cup described in Revelation 17:4–5.
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Revelation 17 presents an excellent picture of the world's idols. We see a beautiful woman sitting astride a monstrous beast, the great harlot who offers her seductions to all people. The beast that she rides is described as scarlet in color, and she herself wears gorgeous robes of purple and scarlet—the colors that were reserved for royalty in ancient times. What's more, she is "adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls", emphasizing her great wealth and influence in the world's system, and she holds "in her hand a golden cup". All these details underscore the immense value of who she is and what she has to offer—value, that is, according to the priorities of mankind.
But her trinkets are worthless in the eyes of God; worse than worthless, in fact, for that golden cup is actually "full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication", and even the beast that she rides is "full of names of blasphemy". Yet it is also important to recognize that the people of the world are either unaware of these abominations or completely unconcerned with them, because "the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication". And this is a worldwide condition, as the harlot sits "on many waters", implying that her influence covers the entire globe; and her seductions lure the entire spectrum of humanity, from the great kings of the earth to the lowliest beggar, encompassing all inhabitants of the earth.
This is the true nature of anything that becomes an idol in a person's life. The things of this world can appear like precious gold in our eyes—whether material possessions, great success and status, unopposed power, or even other people who displace God in our priorities. In God's eyes, such things are blasphemous and filthy. The devil is constantly on the attack, striving to seduce God's people away from their primary loyalty to God and His Word, and we must be vigilant to resist those seductions.
The Greek word perisseia means "an exceeding measure, something above the ordinary." In Romans 5:17, it is used to mean "abundance of grace," while in 2 Corinthians 8:2it speaks of "abundance of ... joy." A strengthened form of the word is used in Ephesians 3:20, rendered "exceedingly abundantly above."
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The Scriptures frequently describe God's grace and provision for His children as "abundant." The Latin origins of this English word meant "to overflow or inundate," the implication being that something was completely covered or even "swamped" by the abundant outpouring. Thus, Paul described the grace that is poured out on believers as an "abundance of grace" (Romans 5:17), more than enough grace to completely cover all our transgressions. This abundance of grace led the Christians in Macedonia to have "abounded in the riches of their liberality" (2 Corinthians 8:2) to other believers, completely covering the needs of others through their own abundant gifts.
But God's love does not stop at overwhelming and swamping His children with grace and generosity. Paul tried to put God's inexpressible grace into words by adding two prefixes to the Greek word perisseia: hyper- ("over") and ek- ("beyond") (hyperekperissou). This suggests that God's grace goes beyond overflowing, and even above that! Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us" (3:20).
Notice the string of superlatives that Paul used in this verse, trying to express with inadequate words the superabundance of God's grace. He is able to do abundantly, exceedingly abundantly, above exceedingly abundantly! And He is able to do this with all that we ask, even all that we can think of asking. This, indeed, is the very definition of God's abundant love and grace toward us, poured out through the sacrifice of His beloved Son on the cross.
The Greek word is a compound of nous (mind) and tithemi (to put), and literally means "putting in mind." It is used in Scripture of instruction (Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16) and also of warning (1 Corinthians 4:14; Colossians 1:28), and is distinguished from the Greek word paideuo meaning "to correct by discipline" or "to train by action" (Hebrews 12:6).
The difference between admonish and teach seems to be that admonish refers mainly to the things that are wrong and call for warning, while teach has to do chiefly with imparting positive truth (Colossians 3:16). The Colossian believers were to let the Word of Christ dwell richly in them, so that they might be able to (1) teach and admonish one another, and (2) abound in the praises of God.
Admonition differs from rebuke in that it is a warning based on instruction, while the latter may be little more than reproof. For example, Eli rebuked his sons (1 Samuel 2:24), but he failed to admonish them (1 Samuel 3:13). Pastors and teachers in the churches are thus themselves admonished—instructed and warned by the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 10:11)—to minister the Word of God to the saints and to depart from unrighteousness (2 Timothy 2:19).
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The difference between admonishing and rebuking another person lies in the distinction between teaching the correct way versus simply warning against the wrong way. A parent, for example, might rebuke a child for hitting a sibling, simply telling him not to do it again, or the parent may admonish the child, teaching him how to be patient and forgiving rather than lashing out in anger. To admonish another person is to simultaneously warn against wickedness and train in righteousness.
Paul wrote, "Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned" (Titus 3:10–11). This teaches the importance of avoiding division within the body of Christ, but it also demonstrates that Christians should be willing to admonish one another when needed, gently correcting those who are in error and offering them instruction on how to be more like Christ. This instruction can come from sound biblical teachings, but it is most effective when it is taught simply by example. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16).
Adversary (antidikos, antikeimai)
The word antidikos can be used to refer to an opponent in a lawsuit (Matthew 5:25), or simply to an enemy, without reference to legal affairs. This second use is perhaps its meaning in 1 Peter 5:8, where it is used of the devil. A similar Greek word (antikeimai) means to lie opposite to, to be set over against, meaning "to withstand." This construction is used ofthe man ofsin in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, and in Galatians 5:17 it is used of the antagonism between the Holy Spirit and the flesh in the believer. In 1 Timothy 1:10, it is used to refer to anything that is opposed to the doctrine of Christ.
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Christians are faced with a living adversary, the enemy of their souls who prowls to and fro throughout the earth looking for opportunities to hinder and destroy the work of God. It is important to recognize that the devil is an active adversary, never resting and always working to prevent God's people from becoming more like Christ.
Yet it is equally important to recognize that any person, thing, or goal can become a believer's adversary, hindering the efforts of the Holy Spirit to mold us into the image of Christ. Paul warned us that "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Galatians 5:17), reminding us that our very bodies can become our adversaries. And in 1 Timothy 1:10, Paul went beyond this to warn that "any other thing that is contrary [adversarial] to sound doctrine" can become the adversary of one's soul, actively striving to hinder the work of God in one's life. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (1 Peter 5:8-9).
The word amen is transliterated from Hebrew into both Greek and English. Its meanings may be seen in such passages as Deuteronomy 7:9, "the faithful God [the amen God]"; Isaiah 49:7, "the Lord who is faithful [amen]"; and Isaiah 65:16, "the God of truth" ("the God of amen"). And if God is faithful, His testimonies and precepts are "sure" (amen) (Psalms 19:7; 111:7), as are also His warnings (Hosea 5:9) and promises (Isaiah 33:16; 55:3).
There are cases where the people used it to express their assent to a law and to the penalty of breaking it (Deuteronomy 27:15). It is also used to express agreement with another person's prayer (1 Kings 1:36). Thus, God says, "Amen, it is and shall be so"; and men say, "so let it be."
In the New Testament, Amen is a title of Christ (Revelation 3:14), because through Him the purposes of God are established (2 Corinthians 1:20). The early Christian churches followed the example of Israel in associating themselves audibly with the prayers and thanksgivings offered on their behalf (1 Corinthians 14:16). The individual also said amen to mean "let it be so" in response to God's statement, "thus it shall be" (e.g., Revelation 22:20). Frequently, the speaker added amen to his own prayers and doxologies, as is the case at Ephesians 3:21.
The Lord Jesus often used amen, translated truly or assuredly, to introduce new revelations of the mind of God. In John's gospel, it is always repeated, "Amen, Amen," but not elsewhere. Luke did not use it at all. Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1 have amen (or "assuredly"), while Luke has "of a truth" (or "truly"). Thus, by varying the translation of what the Lord said, Luke throws light on His meaning.
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Jesus taught His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6), concluding His prayer with amen. Christians today still follow this example, but often we tend to think of the amen at the end of our prayers as some sort of closing formula, like signing a letter "sincerely yours." Yet it is far more significant in meaning to say "amen" than merely letting others know that the prayer is concluded. The word itself means "so be it" or "this is true." It is like bearing testimony in a law court, where one has sworn to tell the truth.
Of course, when we say "amen, let it be so" at the end of our prayers, we are not imperiously commanding God to do our bidding. Rather, we are testifying that what we have prayed is true and, more significantly, that we have no hidden agendas in our requests. This condition can be somewhat sobering, as the human heart is treacherous and prone to ask for things under a pretense of selflessness. But God sees our hearts and divines our motives, so it is good for a believer to remind himself to examine his heart as he prays (1 Corinthians 11:28).
More important, Amen is a title of Christ, who is the Truth (John 14:6) and the complete fulfillment of God's Word (John 1:1; Colossians 2:9). Thus, when we conclude our prayers with amen, we are invoking God's name—and doubly so if we conclude with "in Jesus' name, amen" (see John 14:13). This also applies when we say "amen" to another person's prayer, as we are effectively calling upon God to hear that prayer because we are in complete agreement with what the person has said.
Yet believers do well to say "amen," both to their own prayers and those of others, for doing so is a public declaration of one's faith in God and His Word. Jesus said, "Most assuredly [amen, amen], I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:12–14).
Babbler (spermologos, kenophonia)
The Greek spermologos is found only in Acts 17:18. It came to be used as a noun signifying a crow or some other bird, picking up seeds (sperma, "a seed"; lego, "to collect"). Then it seems to have been used of a man accustomed to hanging about the streets and markets, picking up scraps that fell from loads; hence, a parasite who lived at the expense of others, a hanger-on. Metaphorically, it came to be used of a man who picked up scraps of information and retailed them secondhand, a plagiarist, or of those who made a show of knowledge obtained from misunderstanding lectures.
Excerpted from Reflections on Words of the New Testament by W. E. Vine Copyright © 2011 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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