It was a little traumatic for me to type the title for this article. It brings back memories of some really bad sermons I’ve heard. I chose it from the King James Version because no other translation uses “dividing”. Which bodes the question: Is the word of truth dividable?
Dr. Pat Harrell, the New Testament teacher who changed my life, liked to give us compare and contrast tests. I love them, but I know others who don’t.
These tests challenge the student to search out and find answers by investigation, rather than by tradition.
On Wednesday evening we have been studying Paul’s letters, and in I Timothy 5 we looked at what has to be one of the oddest recommendations Paul ever made. It’s about “enrolling”, or “putting widows on the list”. He says only widows over sixty (along with some other qualities) can be put on the list. The “list”, or the “roll” seems to be those widows who will be aided financially as they work for the good of the congregation.
Paul’s reason for eliminating fifty-nine year old widows is because they will be overcome by sensual desires and want to marry. (v. 11) He also says when they do it means they have “broken their first pledge”. Which seems to mean they had pledged themselves to serve Christ, like nuns.
The context is broader than this, but in my past, the discussion has centered on who is a “real” widow and who isn’t, as well as what the obligation is for the church toward widows. We dare not help a widow who does not meet the qualifications.
That’s not what I’m interested in here. I’m interested in how we “divide” the word. Paul instructs: “So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children …” It seems plain that Paul wants marriage for women, and in this case, young widows under sixty. So, is that an “undividable” truth? When we read the Bible we tend to isolate ourselves in the moment. We do not “compare and contrast”.
We know what Paul said to Timothy. What about what he wrote to Corinth? In I Cor. 7:1 he says, (NIV) “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.” He will tell them why they can, but his counsel is clear. In v. 8 he says, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” (Italics and bold mine. KW)
If you see a problem here, or a bump in the road, you aren’t dividing right. If you isolate either one of these passages from the context, and turn them into a ridged law, you are wrong.
I Corinthians was written about AD 53-54. Something is going on in the world which causes Paul to advise: “Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.” He repeats that several times. In v. 26 he refers to the “present crisis.” And in v.29 he says “…the time is short.” This conditions everything he says.
I Corinthians 7 is one of the most fascinating chapters in the New Testament because it deals s with situational decisions which under other circumstances would not be the same.
In I Timothy, (date about 62-67 AD) the situation has apparently changed, therefore, Paul’s advice, though still rather conditioned, is different than in an earlier letter. Neither should be taken as a rule for all time.
For me, the Bible presents us with an understanding of God at various stages of history. Things which are seen as unacceptable at one point in time will be seen with a different understanding in another. The eunuch will not be welcome in the assembly of Israel because he is unable to procreate. A very sad condition for a man, especially in a tribal culture.
It would be foolish, and ungodly to assume God hates eunuchs, though it might be read that way. However, compare and contrast the law of Moses with the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah says in 56: 4, “For this is what the Lord says: To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant (which one? KW) to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters.” The situation changed, not God.
That’s the way to rightly divide the word of truth.
CONCERNS: Betty Foy is very ill at this time. RJ Hall, T.J. and Judy’s grandson is having problems with his eyes. Teryn Gaynor’s mother is being treated for cancer. Remember Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver in your prayers. Mary Wilson (cancer) Melanie Gentry has a broken foot. Alisa is with her. Pray for Joni Beach’s parents as well as her aunt, Pat Voss and a niece, Jamie Cole. Jim Hunter, Wane Phlegar, David Albert , Lee Nicklas, Sandy Blanchard and those caring for her. Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary (MS) Darnel Ray Barns, Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Jenni Cullum and her friend, Sean, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 8-13
Monday: Jeremiah 341:23-34
Tuesday: I Corinthians 11:17-34
Wednesday: Acts 6:1-7
Thursday: Matthew 5:21-48
Friday: Psalm 119:129-152
Saturday: Psalm 67:1-7
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 15-20
Monday: John 1:1-18
Tuesday: Luke 18:1-4
Wednesday: II Corinthians 1:3-11
Thursday: II Corinthians 1:23-3:11
Friday: Job 1:13-2:10
Saturday: Psalm 97:1-12
THE SNOW The last traces of the heavy snow are just about gone. Thanks to Mike Branch and Holly Wagner for opening up the entrance ways to the building after the parking lot was plowed.
As you know, the city built a sidewalk all along the property. As we understand it, It will be our obligation to clear it of snow within a reasonable time after a snowfall. It’s far too much to shovel, so this time it wasn’t. The folks who clean the parking lot do not do sidewalks, so we will need to find someone we can hire who has a snow blower.
None of the folks below us on Brandon tried to clear their sidewalks. However, in the future the city may enforce clearing them. So if you know someone who does that kind of work, tell Keith.
NEW CLASS STARTS TODAY
The adult class will be introduced to a new study of the Old Testament in Del Bolin’s class today. It will not be the complete OT, just the first five or so books. It is in book form without chapter andverses. Assigned sections are to be read at home and then discussed in class.
Each spring a member of the Gideos comes and tells us about the work of placing Bibles around the world. This year it will be Sunday, March 13.As always, a “retiring” offering will be taken in the foyer after the service for those who want to contribute.
In both last week’s and this week’s hand-out, a notice about a mother who has a thirty-some year old daughter who is paralyzed as the result of a car accident about a year and a half ago, that has also left her unable to speak. The mother has not asked for help, but the grandfather of the injured girl has asked if perhaps some of us might drop by when the mother is visiting, just to let her know we care. I’m not placing their names here, just in the hand-out, along with the mother’s phone number. If you would like to visit with her and her daughter, the daughter is in the Salem Health & Rehabilitation Center, across from the VA Hospital.