Saturday, April 18, 2015
A “lexicon” is something like a dictionary, but does not go into as much detail as the definitions; it is essentially a word-list of terms. These are often useful tools for translators, because they show how particular words in a foreign language are used in specific settings.
I have found it necessary to include a number of lexicon notes to promote a full understanding of Biblical doctrines. In addition, someone asked me a question a couple weeks ago about the way the word “Remember” is used in the Bible, and we’ll get to that as we go through this study.
What I am presenting for our consideration and education on this site is a list of words that appear in the Bible. These words were chosen because they are often misunderstood by even sincere students of the Scriptures, and this has led to some unfortunate misunderstandings of doctrine, some errors in the development of character, and the rejection of much light.
I would like to make it clear that this is no fault of the Scriptures, and no fault of even the translators (for the most part) who were writing to an audience that would have understood the terms used in a manner often different than we now do. In other words, language does change over time; the meanings of words do change over the years, and if we wish to have a pure speech in this last generation, we must understand the “mind of Christ” as it is expressed in the Bible record.
Now, the Word tells us that when the Almighty assembles His people and gathers the faithful nations, “then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of Yahweh, to serve Him with one consent.” (Zeph 3:9) This brief statement contains a number of important concepts.
First, we see that we are to have a “pure language,” and the word for pure there has the connotations of: select, polished, chosen, purged, cleansed or made bright, tested or proven. Second, we see that the result of such a manner of speech will lead men to “call upon the name of Yahweh” in a proper way, to praise Him and to seek His will. Third, we see another effect, that those with such a language “serve Him with one consent.” Now literally, and this is interesting, the word for “consent” there means “shoulder.” The people of Yahweh with a pure language serve the Almighty with one “shoulder.”
What kind of picture Does this raises in your mind?
As some of you may have suggested, it is a leaning in together against something... not so much on each other, but against a common burden.
Like if you want to move a boulder, a big rock, you put your “shoulder” to it. And all the people here described are as one “shoulder.”
Actually, in the Bible, the word “shoulder” has two uses. It means to work with a burden, to carry something, (Psa 81:6, Isa 9:4) and is also a measure of height. Today we would say that someone is six feet tall; in the days of the Kingdom of Israel, to indicate that someone was very tall they would say things like, “from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” (1Sam 9:2)
So the people of Yahweh in the last days have a refined speech, and as a result they call on the name of their Father in Heaven in a holy manner, and they serve Him with one “shoulder,” with a unified effort to take “the burden of the word of Yahweh” (Mal 1:1) – another word for the Divine message – to the world. It is a measure of their stature.
Here is the list of words, with associated meanings by use, and a short explanation of why a proper understanding is important; and please keep in mind that this is not a complete list. If a word or a synonym occurs to you that you believe is often misunderstood, and not covered, make a note of it.
The Bible records a parable of Christ in which it was said, “And unto one [servant] he [the master] gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” (Mat 25:15)
A person’s “ability” is what he is able to do, what he can do. What we need here is to understand how this word is used in its immediate context, because some confusion may result if various verses are not harmonized. For example, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” (Phil 4:13) and, “Yahshua said unto him, ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.’” (Mark 9:33)
And then there are verses that read, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1Cor 10:13)
And again, “And over it the Cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.” (Heb 9:5)
And famously (for our ministry), “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for His Seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1John 3:9)
The first verse from Matthew, and various others like it, tell us that Yahweh will give men gifts according to their “ability.” But then there are verses that tell us we can do “all things” through Christ as we believe. And then we followed that up with several statements that would indicate there are limits to what we are able to bear, what we are able to understand, and what we are able to do.
In a more general sense, we read that there are things even Yahweh “cannot” do. He “cannot” be tempted by evil, or even behold it without covering Himself, (James 1:13, Hab 1:13) for example. So how do we understand this?
In the Scriptures, the word “ability” is used according to one’s sphere. By that I mean, when it says that we “can do all things,” this is within the sphere of Christianity. We can do all things necessary to maintain the standard Christ has set for us…it is not promising unconditional omnipotence to those who believe some arbitrary thing. For example, a man who believes he can fly may injure himself before too long. A man who believes he can swim across the ocean may find that his body disagrees with him when he is a few miles from shore.
But a Christian who believes, he is capable of doing all that is necessary to perform the will of the Father in Heaven. If Yahweh wishes us to fly, He can take us up to Heaven in a whirlwind. (2Kings 2:1) If He wishes us to cross the ocean from one continent to another, He can place us where He wishes. (Acts 8:39, 40) It is not the will of the Father that humans should sin, therefore abiding in Christ we “cannot” sin; and of course we will cover that more fully when we discuss what sin is. We are “able” to overcome every sin, but not in our own power, because our sphere is limited by our humanity (as was Christ’s in human form) but… just as He did it, so may we, by constant connection to the Father, and by trusting in the providences of His grace as described in 1Cor 10:13.
Now from the perspective of Yahweh, He is certainly “able” to do all things, but He restricts Himself based on His Own character. In other words, His character is holy, therefore He will not act in a manner that is unrighteous. His character is love, and He will not act in any way motivated by hatred. His character is so opposed to evil that there is no possibility of Him being “tempted” to do something contrary to His nature.
Ability, therefore, in regard to both men and Yah, is never used Biblically in an absolute sense, but always with consideration for the character of those involved, and the sphere of power in which he or she operates.
Now, I had considered writing “Anger” here, but I will cover that under Wrath later on. So we move on now to a word that was mentioned in our first entry:
A born-again Christian, it is written, “cannot” commit sin. (1John 3:9) As we all know, this verse has been the subject of controversy among worldly Christians and lovers of sin. The reason is that the Bible makes no distinction between practical and theoretical possibilities. The expressions “cannot” and “will not” are used interchangeably, saying at times of various people that they “will not hearken,” (Lev 26:27) and of the same people that they “cannot hearken.” (Jer 6:10)
In matters of moral weight, if it is said that one “cannot” do something, it means that this is a self-imposed restriction. We know this, because humans were created in the “image” of God, (Gen 1:26 freely able to choose whom they would serve, whether to sin or to righteousness. (Josh 24:15, Rom 6:16) In other words, a Christian “cannot” commit sin because he has chosen to walk in the spirit, and not in the flesh, “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom 8:4)
Just as it was with Christ, it is theoretically possible to do some known, wrong act, but it is a practical impossibility. Luke was speaking with someone recently about the Victory message, and he shared with me some of how the conversation went. The individual with whom he was speaking put it very well. He said, essentially, “There is no way I would commit a known sin.” That is exactly what the Bible means by “cannot;” that, “there is no way.” We may just as correctly say, “There is no way I would ever drink poison.” Of course we have arms capable of lifting a vial of poison to our mouths, and we have mouths and throats to swallow, but our very human nature restricts us (unless we are suicidal) from knowingly doing something that will result in our deaths. We may, theoretically, do such a thing, but there is “no way” we ever would. This is how the Bible, when speaking of moral issues, uses the term “cannot.” Are there any questions on this entry?
This is an interesting word. It does not require a lot of explanation, only a mention that in the language of the earlier translations of the Bible, this word did not mean (as it does today) merely that which you speak. It also means the way in which you act, think and the overall picture you present to others who are observing you.
In other words, when the Scriptures say, “But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation,” (1Pet 1:15) it does not refer merely to the spoken word (although this idea is definitely included) but to all manner of dealings including social, business and casual.
This word is actually not very common in the Bible. It appears only four times in the King James’ Version, and all in the Old Testament. Twice, in Gen 49:3 and Hab 1:7, it has the meaning of “exaltation,” or “loftiness;” it has a similar meaning in Ecclesiastes 10:6, although it is there translated from another word. In Esther 6:3, it means “honor,” such as that which may be bestowed upon an important figure.
Modern use includes all those meanings, but also adds a connotation of composure; in other words, to handle something “with dignity” means to react in a calm and thoughtful manner. While not appearing in the following passage, Peter’s advice to Christians certainly comes down to a call for Christian dignity in our actions: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1Pet 2:11, 12) Remembering what “conversation” means, we find this is certainly good – necessary – advice for all who would be witnesses of Christ Yahshua.
This one could also be listed as “belief,” because the word is the same in the language of Scripture. Simply put, the Bible uses this term in a very general way to indicate an individual’s assurance that something is a certain way, and the motivation that this provides for action. It does not always mean genuine or saving faith, only an acceptance of something as true. For example, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well. The devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)
There are some religions that believe, or have faith (same word) that there is only one God. The Jews, the Muslims, and even some pagan religions, are monotheistic, or nearly so. They believe that there is only one God. That is good, so far as it goes, but as James points out, merely having faith in this one aspect of the Creator, that He is one, does not qualify one for salvation. The devils, the fallen angels, are also monotheists, because they know (from experience) that there is only one Elohim.
The Scriptures, however, speak about a very special kind of faith, a faith in, and of, the Savior; and this is the faith that leads to eternal life. We read, “But the Scripture hath concluded [grouped together] all under sin, that the promise by faith of Yahshua the Messiah might be given to them that believe.” (Gal 3:22) And, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Yahshua.” (Rev 14:12)
Nowadays, even this kind of faith is poorly understood, because people will agree with the first part of the definition, that it is a conviction that something is true. They leave out, unfortunately, the second weight of meaning this term carried in the ancient mind, that belief was also a motivating factor behind actions. It is not enough, in Bible terminology, to accept something as true intellectually, and particularly so when it comes to the faith of Yahshua. Some will quote Romans 10:9 and think that this is the whole thought: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Yahshua, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
But Paul goes on to explain exactly what he means by “believe in thine heart,” saying, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom 10:10) True belief, according to the apostle, leads to two outward signs of its existence: Righteousness, which is “correctness of thinking feeling, and acting,” and Confession, an open testimony of our state. In other words, is religion, according to Paul, a “personal” thing in that it is to be kept private?
Not at all… the religion of Christ must be the most public of things, and only those who are ashamed of the things they claim to be true will use, as an excuse to remain neutral or silent, the statement that “Faith is a personal thing.” In a sense the statement is true, because we must accept it as individual persons, being individually saved… but that is where the individual nature of it ends. After that we are a part of a community, a fellowship of earthly saints with “an innumerable company of angels,” (Heb 12:22) and a royal nation whose greatest obligation is to teach the world what it knows about Yahweh, and openly so.