How can we heal the disconnect between the Evangelical Church and the Gay Community?

One of the things that keeps the Church and the gay community from reconciling is a lack of listening. Hands down, the question I get asked most often by people who think homosexuality is a sin is, “How can you accuse the church of not loving gay people? Plenty of churches love gay people—they just do not accept their behavior. Wouldn’t it be less loving to allow them to behave however they want, in contradiction to the Bible?” This is a deep black hole of a question, but in my humble opinion it demonstrates a lack of listening to the majority of the gay community. The church is continuing to look at homosexuality as a behavior—and a behavior that goes against several (very debatable) passages in the Bible. The old adage to “love the sinner, hate the sin” comes to mind. It suggests that the Church is fully capable of loving a person completely while we acknowledge and root out the “sin” in her or his life (This is not even getting into the question of whether their sin is the Church’s business to root out in the first place). The problem with all of this is that it lacks the other half of dialogue.

The majority of the gay community insists again and again that their sexual orientation is not simply a behavior—that is a part of their identity in the same way that being straight is a part of someone’s identity. If sin is something that separates a person from God, which is a whole separate black hole of a debate in itself, than isn’t testimony from the gay community valuable? Why is the church dismissing it in their insistence that homosexuality is a behavior and that it is sinful? If the gay Christian community says, “We are gay—it is a part of our identity and not simply a behavior—it is not separating us from God or alienating us from other people, and we could not fight it without lying to ourselves,” what should the Church’s reaction be?

Before I was let go from camp, my friend Jeremy was let go from the same camp for being gay. He had been working at camp for several years in successful leadership, but that fall he had come out, and camp’s reaction was to inform him that he was very welcome to visit but was not welcome to work there. I sat in on a meeting as Jeremy tried to explain to the administration that he is the same person doing the same ministry—that he has actually grown closer to God as he has become more honest about his true identity—and that he felt embraced by God rather than convicted. The administration’s response was to shrug with sympathetic eyes as they quoted Scripture. I’d be willing to bet this sort of interaction happens a lot.

Scripture is a mystery, and a few times every century people come to the consensus that they were interpreting it incorrectly all along, and that the policy of say, not allowing women to be teachers, is actually just some bad theology that could be interpreted in a different way to keep the Church from becoming the oppressor. I dare the Church to throw away your easy answers and take a little risk when you converse with someone who is gay. Open your mind to the possibility that they could be telling the whole, complete truth about their identity and their orientation. Right now, the common interpretation of Scripture does not match the testimonies of thousands of intelligent, spiritual individuals. This is something that’s only going to be solved with both parties listening with real open hearts and empathy. Are we strong enough to listen?

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How can we heal the disconnect between the Evangelical Church and the Gay Community?

21 thoughts on “How can we heal the disconnect between the Evangelical Church and the Gay Community?

  1. Katie Thompson says:

    I really enjoy how you bring up the importance of listening. Scripture should be our tool in that, instead of being the barrier.

    1. SEED: Genesis 3:15 ties ALL the rest of the Scripture together. An understanding of this verse is vital! It is of the utmost importance!

      October 14, 2013UncategorizedEdit

      The Hebrew ze′raʽ and the Greek sper′ma, both translated “seed,” appear many times in the Scriptures, with the following uses or applications: (a) agricultural and botanical, (b) physiological, and (c) figurative for “offspring.”

      Agricultural, Botanical. Israel’s economy was primarily agricultural, hence much is said about sowing, planting, and harvesting, and “seed” is mentioned frequently, the first instance being in the record of earth’s third creative day. Jehovah commanded: “Let the earth cause grass to shoot forth, vegetation bearing seed, fruit trees yielding fruit according to their kinds, the seed of which is in it, upon the earth.” (Ge 1:11, 12, 29) Here the Creator revealed his purpose to clothe the earth with vegetation by reproduction through seed, keeping the various created kinds separate, so that each brings forth “according to its kind” through its own distinctive seed.

      Physiological. The Hebrew term ze′raʽ is used in a physiological sense at Leviticus 15:16-18; 18:20, with reference to an emission of semen. At Leviticus 12:2 the causative form of the verb za·raʽ′ (sow) is rendered in many translations by the English expressions “conceive” or “conceive seed.” At Numbers 5:28 a passive form of za·raʽ′ appears with ze′raʽ and is rendered “made pregnant with semen” (NW), “sown with seed” (Yg), “conceive seed” (KJ).

      Figurative Use. In the majority of instances in which the word ze′raʽ appears in the Bible, it is used with reference to offspring, or posterity. Animal offspring are designated by this term at Genesis 7:3. Human offspring of Noah are referred to at Genesis 9:9; those of the woman Hagar at Genesis 16:10. God commanded Abram and his natural “seed” to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant God was making with them.—Ge 17:7-11.

      The Greek word sper′ma is used in the same applications as the Hebrew ze′raʽ. (Compare Mt 13:24; 1Co 15:38; Heb 11:11; Joh 7:42.) Jesus Christ used the related word spo′ros (thing sown) to symbolize the word of God.—Lu 8:11.

      A Sacred Secret. At the time God judged Adam and Eve, he spoke a prophecy that gave hope to their offspring, saying to the serpent: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Ge 3:15) From the beginning, the identity of the promised “seed” was a sacred secret of God.

      This prophetic statement revealed that there would be a deliverer who would destroy the one really represented by the serpent, namely, the great serpent and enemy of God, Satan the Devil. (Re 12:9) It also indicated that the Devil would have a “seed.” It would require time for the two seeds to be brought forth and for enmity to develop between them.

      The seed of the Serpent. We note that when the Bible speaks of “seed” in a symbolic sense, it does not refer to literal children, or offspring, but to those who follow the pattern of their symbolic “father,” those having his spirit or disposition. Adam and Eve’s first son Cain is an example of one of the Serpent’s offspring. The apostle John writes enlighteningly on this point: “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother. And for the sake of what did he slaughter him? Because his own works were wicked, but those of his brother were righteous.”—1Jo 3:10-12; compare Joh 8:44.

      Thus the seed of the Serpent throughout the centuries consisted of those who had the spirit of the Devil, who hated God and fought God’s people, and it included particularly the religious persons who claimed to serve God but who were actually false, hypocrites. Jesus identified the Jewish religious leaders of his day as a part of the Serpent’s seed, saying to them: “Serpents, offspring [Gr., gen·ne′ma·ta, “generated ones”] of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?”—Mt 23:33, Int.

      There was a gradual revelation of features of God’s secret concerning the promised “seed” of the woman. The questions to be answered were: Would the seed be heavenly or earthly? If spiritual or heavenly, would it nevertheless run an earthly course? Would the seed be one or many? How would it destroy the Serpent and liberate mankind?

      As has already been shown, the serpent to whom Jehovah was directing his words recorded at Genesis 3:15 was not the animal on the ground. Obviously, it could not understand an issue such as was involved here, a challenge of Jehovah’s sovereignty. Therefore, as later developments revealed, God was speaking to an intelligent individual, his archenemy Satan the Devil. The book of Job enlightens us on this matter, as there we find Satan presenting his accusation against Job’s integrity to Jehovah in order to support his challenge against God’s sovereignty. (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-5) The “father,” then, of the seed of the serpent would be, not a literal animal serpent, but an angelic, spirit “father,” Satan the Devil.

      ‘Seed of the woman’ spiritual. Accordingly, regardless of how faithful men of old may have viewed the matter, it becomes clear, in the light of the Christian Scriptures, that the promised ‘seed of the woman’ would have to be more than human in order to ‘bruise in the head’ this spiritual enemy, this angelic person, the Devil. The “seed” would have to be a mighty spirit person. How would he be provided, and who would be his ‘mother,’ the “woman”?

      The next recorded mention of the promised “seed” came over 2,000 years later, to faithful Abraham. Abraham was of the line of Shem, and in an earlier prophecy Noah had spoken of Jehovah as “Shem’s God.” (Ge 9:26) This indicated God’s favor on Shem. In Abraham’s time the “seed” of promise was foretold to come through Abraham. (Ge 15:5; 22:15-18) Priest Melchizedek’s blessing on Abraham gave additional confirmation of this. (Ge 14:18-20) While God’s statement to Abraham revealed that Abraham would have offspring, it also disclosed that the ancestral line of the prophetically promised “seed” of deliverance would indeed run an earthly course.

      One person foretold. In speaking of the offspring of Abraham and others, the Hebrew and Greek terms used are in the singular form, usually referring to such offspring in a collective sense. There seems to be one strong reason why the collective term ze′raʽ, “seed,” rather than the strictly plural word ba·nim′, “sons” (singular ben), was used so often with respect to Abraham’s posterity. The apostle Paul points to this fact in explaining that when God spoke of the blessings to come through Abraham’s seed, he had primary reference to one person, namely, Christ. Paul says: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It [or, He] says, not: ‘And to seeds [Gr., sper′ma·sin],’ as in the case of many such, but as in the case of one: ‘And to your seed [Gr., sper′ma·ti′],’ who is Christ.”—Ga 3:16, ftn.

      Some scholars have objected to Paul’s statement regarding the singular and plural use of “seed.” They point out that in Hebrew the word for “seed” (ze′raʽ), when used for posterity, never changes its form, in this use resembling the English word “sheep.” Also, the accompanying verbs and adjectives do not in themselves indicate the singularity or plurality intended by the word for “seed.” While this is so, there is another factor that demonstrates that Paul’s explanation was accurate grammatically as well as doctrinally. Explaining this factor, M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopaedia (1894, Vol. IX, p. 506) states: “In connection with pronouns, the construction is entirely different from both the preceding [that is, the verbs and adjectives used with the word “seed”]. A singular pronoun [used with ze′raʽ] marks an individual, an only one, or one out of many; while a plural pronoun represents all the descendants. This rule is followed invariably by the Sept[uagint] . . . Peter understood this construction, for we find him inferring a singular seed from Gen. xxii, 17, 18, when speaking to native Jews in the city of Jerusalem before Paul’s conversion (Acts iii, 26), as David had set the example a thousand years before (Psa. lxxii, 17).”

      Additionally this reference work says: “The distinction made by Paul is not between one seed and another, but between the one seed and the many; and if we consider him quoting the same passage with Peter [cited earlier], his argument is fairly sustained by the pronoun ‘his [not their] enemies.’ Seed with a pronoun singular is exactly equivalent to son.”

      Using an English illustration, the expression “my offspring” could refer to one or to many. But if after such expression the offspring should be referred to as “he,” it would be apparent that a single child or descendant was meant.

      The promise to Abraham that all the families of the earth would bless themselves in his “seed” could not have included all of Abraham’s offspring as his “seed,” since the offspring of his son Ishmael and also those of his sons by Keturah were not used to bless humankind. The seed of blessing was through Isaac. “It is by means of Isaac that what will be called your seed will be,” said Jehovah. (Ge 21:12; Heb 11:18) This promise was subsequently narrowed down yet more when, of Isaac’s two sons Jacob and Esau, Jacob was specially blessed. (Ge 25:23, 31-34; 27:18-29, 37; 28:14) Further, Jacob limited the matter by showing that the gathering of the people would be to Shiloh (meaning “He Whose It Is; He To Whom It Belongs”) of the tribe of Judah. (Ge 49:10) Then, of all Judah, the coming seed was restricted to the line of David. (2Sa 7:12-16) This narrowing down was noted by the Jews in the first century C.E., who actually looked for one person to come as the Messiah or Christ, as deliverer (Joh 1:25; 7:41, 42), even though they also thought that they, as Abraham’s offspring, or seed, would be the favored people and, as such, God’s children.—Joh 8:39-41.

      An enlargement. After Jehovah’s angel prevented Abraham from actually sacrificing his son Isaac, the angel called out to Abraham: “‘By myself I do swear,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘that by reason of the fact that you have done this thing and you have not withheld your son, your only one, I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore; and your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.’”—Ge 22:16-18.

      If this promise of God was to have fulfillment in a spiritual seed, then it would indicate that others would be added to the one primary seed. And the apostle Paul explains that this is true. He argues that Abraham was given the inheritance by promise and not by law. The Law was merely added to make transgressions manifest “until the seed should arrive.” (Ga 3:19) It follows, then, that the promise was sure to all his seed, “not only to that which adheres to the Law, but also to that which adheres to the faith of Abraham.” (Ro 4:16) The words of Jesus Christ to Jews who opposed him: “If you are Abraham’s children, do the works of Abraham,” indicate that, not those descending through the flesh, but those having the faith of Abraham are accounted by God as Abraham’s seed. (Joh 8:39) The apostle makes it very specific when he says: “Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.”—Ga 3:29; Ro 9:7, 8.

      Consequently, God’s promise, “I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore,” has a spiritual fulfillment and means that others, who “belong to Christ,” are added as part of Abraham’s seed. (Ge 22:17; Mr 9:41; 1Co 15:23) God did not disclose the number but left it as indeterminate to man as is the number of the stars and the grains of sand. Not until about 96 C.E., in the Revelation to the apostle John, did He reveal that spiritual Israel, those “sealed” with God’s spirit, which is a token of their heavenly inheritance, numbers 144,000 persons.—Eph 1:13, 14; Re 7:4-8; 2Co 1:22; 5:5.

      These 144,000 are shown standing with the Lamb upon Mount Zion. “These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” (Re 14:1, 4) Jesus Christ gave his life for them, “assisting Abraham’s seed” as their great High Priest. (Heb 2:14-18) God the Father kindly gives his Son this congregation, this “bride.” (Joh 10:27-29; 2Co 11:2; Eph 5:21-32; Re 19:7, 8; 21:2, 12) They become kings and priests, and with them Jesus shares the glory and Kingdom that the Father has given him. (Lu 22:28-30; Re 20:4-6) In fact, the sacred secret concerning the Seed is only one feature of the great sacred secret of God’s Kingdom by his Messiah.—Eph 1:9, 10.

      Paul illustrates this action of God by speaking of Abraham, his free wife (Sarah), and Isaac the son by promise. He likens Sarah to “the Jerusalem above,” “our mother [that is, mother of spirit-begotten Christians].” Isaac is likened to these Christians as the offspring or sons of this “mother.”—Ga 4:22-31.

      Arrival of the “seed.” Jesus, as has been established, is the primary “seed.” However, he was not the ‘seed of the woman’ (that is, of “the Jerusalem above”) at the time of his human birth. True, he was of the natural seed of Abraham, through his mother Mary; he was of the tribe of Judah; and both naturally through Mary and legally through his adoptive father Joseph, he was of the line of David. (Mt 1:1, 16; Lu 3:23, 31, 33, 34) So Jesus qualified according to the prophetic promises.

      But it was not until Jesus was begotten by the spirit, thus becoming a spiritual son of God, that he became the ‘seed of the woman’ and the Seed that was to bless all nations. This occurred at the time of his baptism by John in the Jordan River, 29 C.E. Jesus was then about 30 years of age. The holy spirit, coming upon Jesus, manifested itself to John in the form of a dove, and God himself acknowledged Jesus as his Son at that time.—Mt 3:13-17; Lu 3:21-23; Joh 3:3.

      The addition of the associate “seed,” the Christian congregation, began to take place at the time of the outpouring of holy spirit on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. Jesus had ascended into heaven, into the presence of his Father, and had sent forth the holy spirit to these first followers of his, including the 12 apostles. (Ac 2:1-4, 32, 33) Acting as the High Priest according to the manner of Melchizedek, he here rendered great ‘assistance’ to the secondary seed of Abraham.—Heb 2:16.

      Enmity between the two seeds. The great serpent Satan the Devil has produced “seed” that has manifested the bitterest enmity toward those who have served God with faith like Abraham, as the Bible record abundantly testifies. Satan has tried to block or hinder the development of the woman’s seed. (Compare Mt 13:24-30.) This enmity reached its height, however, in the persecution of the spiritual seed, particularly in that displayed toward Jesus Christ. (Ac 3:13-15) Paul refers to the prophetic drama to illustrate, saying: “Just as then the one born in the manner of flesh [Ishmael] began persecuting the one born in the manner of spirit [Isaac], so also now.” (Ga 4:29) And a later report, in reality a prophecy, describes the Kingdom’s establishment in heaven and the Devil’s being hurled out of heaven down to the earth, with only a short time to continue his enmity. It concludes: “And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Re 12:7-13, 17) This war against the remnant of the woman’s seed ends when ‘Satan is crushed under their feet.’—Ro 16:20.

      Blessing all families of the earth. Jesus Christ, the Seed, has already brought great blessings to honesthearted persons through his teachings and through the guidance he has given his congregation since Pentecost. But with the beginning of his Thousand Year Reign, his spiritual “brothers,” resurrected and sharing his Kingdom rule, will also be underpriests with him. (Re 20:4-6) During the time when “the dead, the great and the small,” stand before the throne to be judged, those who exercise faith and obedience will “bless themselves,” taking hold of life by means of Abraham’s seed. (Re 20:11-13; Ge 22:18) This will mean everlasting life and happiness for them.—Joh 17:3; compare Re 21:1-4.

      Resurrection of the “seed.” In explaining the resurrection of the Seed, Jesus Christ, the apostle Peter writes that he was ‘put to death in the flesh, but was made alive in the spirit.’ (1Pe 3:18) His fellow apostle Paul, in dealing with the subject of the resurrection of Christ’s associates, draws upon an agricultural illustration. He argues: “What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies; and as for what you sow, you sow, not the body that will develop, but a bare grain, it may be, of wheat or any one of the rest; but God gives it a body just as it has pleased him, and to each of the seeds its own body. . . . So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised up in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised up in glory. . . . It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body.” (1Co 15:36-44) Those composing the ‘seed of the woman,’ “Abraham’s seed,” therefore die, giving up earthly bodies of corruptible flesh, and are resurrected with glorious incorruptible bodies.

      Incorruptible reproductive seed. The apostle Peter speaks to his spiritual brothers concerning their being given “a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance.” He says, “It is reserved in the heavens for you.” He calls to their attention that it was not with corruptible things such as silver and gold that they were delivered, but with the blood of Christ. After this he says: “For you have been given a new birth, not by corruptible, but by incorruptible reproductive seed, through the word of the living and enduring God.” Here the word “seed” is the Greek word spo·ra′, which denotes seed sown, hence in position to be reproductive.—1Pe 1:3, 4, 18, 19, 23.

      In this manner Peter reminds his brothers of their relationship as sons, not to a human father who dies and who can transmit neither incorruptibility nor everlasting life to them, but to “the living and enduring God.” The incorruptible seed with which they are given this new birth is God’s holy spirit, his active force, working in conjunction with God’s enduring Word, which is itself spirit inspired. The apostle John likewise says of such spirit-begotten ones: “Everyone who has been born from God does not carry on sin, because His reproductive seed remains in such one, and he cannot practice sin, because he has been born from God.”—1Jo 3:9.

      This spirit in them operates to generate a new birth as God’s sons. It is a force for cleanness, and it produces the fruitage of the spirit, not the corrupt works of the flesh. The person having this reproductive seed in himself will therefore not make a practice of the works of the flesh. The apostle Paul comments on this matter: “For God called us, not with allowance for uncleanness, but in connection with sanctification. So, then, the man that shows disregard is disregarding, not man, but God, who puts his holy spirit in you.”—1Th 4:7, 8.

      However, one of these spirit-begotten ones who constantly resists the spirit or ‘grieves’ it, that is, ‘saddens’ it or ‘hurts’ it, will eventually cause God to withdraw his spirit. (Eph 4:30, Int; compare Isa 63:10.) A person might go so far as to commit blasphemy against the spirit, which would be calamitous for him. (Mt 12:31, 32; Lu 12:10) Therefore Peter and John stress the need to maintain holiness and the love of God, to love one’s brothers from the heart, and to display submission to the guidance of the spirit of God, thereby proving oneself a true, loyal son of God.—1Pe 1:14-16, 22; 1Jo 2:18, 19; 3:10, 14.

  2. Rev. Scott Ware -Any religion that leaves people out is not true (unconditional love) for our brothers and sisters of this planet we are the one human race. We are (ALL) Gods children and all love and hurt the same inside. Religion teaching others to Condemn one another is not what God wants for us, We where all created the same in spirit it’s just the body that’s a different vessel we live in. Understanding and LOVE is the key’s into Heaven, Through of the human heart. LOVE IS LOVE no matter what from it comes in.

    1. Rev. Scott, if what you claim about us ALL being God’s children, what do you do with verses like 1 Jn. 3:10 (“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”)? “Understanding and LOVE is (sic) the key’s (sic) into Heaven?” Didn’t Jesus say, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” (Mk. 1:15) and “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:3)? Looks like your criteria differ quite a bit from Jesus’.

      Sounds like someone had better get to studying their Bible. Your politically correct arguments might go over with the “biblically illiterate,” but you lack credibility among those of us who consider the Bible the inspired Word of God (2 Tm. 3:16).

  3. Natural_Law says:

    18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.[a] 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

    21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

    24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

    28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

    -Romans 1:18-32

    What is the “progressive translation” for this passage?

    1. Tim Reeder says:

      I think you reprinted the “progressive translation” of Paul’s letter to the church (Jews) at Rome. That context and their activity that prompted such letters are very important here. My thought has always been do I understand the underlying assumptions the writer assigns and addressee infers in the respective writing or reading? One of the obvious missing givens in the translation you posted is the Hebraisms. Paul and the addressee were Jews. As such they abided by the law of the Torah along with other written protocol and Jesus’ teachings eventually becoming the Church. St Jerome who is the last historically documented translator to know the Koine Greek they wrote in and Jesus spoke, self admittedly a non scholar on Hebraisms, not a Jew, and 300 + years removed from idioms, similes, metaphors, et. al that make translation difficult and formed the dismal translations trail from the Vulgate to our current English Bibles started a complex code to break . I fear given the for profit nature of the Bible publishing world we live in will never produce a more accurate translation due to publishing to suit its view of the consumer and their religious traditions a.ka. what they will buy.
      Another issue in Paul’s writing and the translation, were the teacher / student relationship with the relational certain know assumptions in their correspondence which where unwritten in those exchanges. To make it more difficult there was a divide between Jews and converts as to the Jobs of the Torah between God and man; and the Ethics between men and other men the new Jesus’ law ushered in making neighborly altruism the new standard. Circumcision and sacrifice were tradition but now the ticket to life in the age to come are neighborly altruism a.k.a. Jesus’ Law or utterance.
      The best work I know that gives the most empirical translational insight into Paul’s writings and those of the other contributors to the New Testament, Jesus’ utterances and quotes bringing them finally in to one accord in English is “Pauline Paradoxes Decoded” by Michael Wood’ Tubi Publishing, LLC; ISBN 978-1-936565-16-0 then 90000 a leader in the field of cryptology and holder of the patent of the code used by the intelligence world. I think this may be the progressive (more accurate) translational guide you are seeking that will net the best obtainable understanding of the writer’s intent.

      1. PAUL was an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin and an apostle of Jesus Christ. (Eph 1:1; Php 3:5) Though perhaps having both the Hebrew name Saul and the Roman name Paul from childhood (Ac 9:17; 2Pe 3:15), this apostle may have chosen to go by his Roman name in view of his commission to declare the good news to the non-Jews.—Ac 9:15; Ga 2:7, 8. Paul was born in Tarsus, a prominent city of Cilicia. (Ac 21:39; 22:3) His parents were Hebrews and evidently adhered to the Pharisaic branch of Judaism. (Ac 23:6; Php 3:5) He was a Roman citizen from birth (Ac 22:28), his father having perhaps been granted citizenship for services rendered. Paul probably learned the trade of tentmaker from his father. (Ac 18:3) But, at Jerusalem, he received instruction from the learned Pharisee Gamaliel, suggesting that Paul was from a prominent family. (Ac 22:3; 5:34) Languagewise, Paul was versed at least in Greek and Hebrew. (Ac 21:37-40) At the time that Paul traveled as a missionary, he was unmarried. (1Co 7:8) During this general period, if not already earlier, he had a sister and a nephew who resided in Jerusalem.—Ac 23:16 22.
        It was the apostle Paul’s privilege to write more books, or letters, of the Christian Greek Scriptures than anyone else. He was given supernatural visions (2Co 12:1-5) and, by means of the holy spirit, was enabled to speak numerous foreign tongues.—1Co 14:18.
        Persecution, Conversion, Early Ministry. The Biblical record introduces Saul, or Paul, as the “young man” at whose feet the false witnesses who stoned Christ’s disciple Stephen laid their outer garments. (Ac 6:13; 7:58) Paul approved of the murder of Stephen and, because of misdirected zeal for tradition, began a campaign of vicious persecution against Christ’s followers. When they were to be executed, he voted against them. At the time of their trial in synagogues, he endeavored to force them to recant. He extended his persecution to cities other than Jerusalem and even procured written authorization from the high priest to search out disciples of Christ as far N as Damascus, in Syria, and to bind them and bring them to Jerusalem, probably for trial by the Sanhedrin.—Ac 8:1, 3; 9:1, 2; 26:10, 11; Ga 1:13, 14.
        As Paul neared Damascus, Christ Jesus revealed himself to Paul in a flashing light and commissioned him to be an attendant and a witness of the things he had seen and would yet see. Whereas those with Paul also fell to the ground because of this manifestation and heard the sound of someone speaking, Paul alone understood the words and was blinded, necessitating his being led by the hand to Damascus. (Ac 9:3-8; 22:6-11; 26:12-18) For three days he neither ate nor drank. Then, while praying in the house of a certain Judas at Damascus, Paul, in vision, saw Christ’s disciple Ananias come in and restore his sight. When the vision became reality, Paul was baptized, received holy spirit, partook of food, and gained strength.—Ac 9:9-19.
        The record at Acts 9:20-25 describes Paul’s spending time with the disciples in Damascus and “immediately” beginning to preach in the synagogues there. It describes his preaching activity up until the time he was forced to leave Damascus because of a plot against his life. On the other hand, Paul’s letter to the Galatians speaks of his going off into Arabia after his conversion and then of his returning to Damascus. (Ga 1:15-17) It is not possible to assign the trip into Arabia a definite place in the order of these events.
        Paul may have gone into Arabia right after his conversion in order to meditate on God’s will for him. In such a case, Luke’s use of the word “immediately” would mean that immediately upon his return to Damascus and upon associating with the disciples there, Paul began his preaching. However, at Galatians 1:17 Paul is evidently emphasizing the fact that he did not immediately go up to Jerusalem; that the only place outside of Damascus to which he went during that early period was Arabia. So, the trip to Arabia does not necessarily have to have come immediately after his conversion. It may be that Paul first spent some days in Damascus and quickly made public renunciation of his previous course of opposition by expressing his faith in Christ in the synagogues. Thereafter he may have made his trip into Arabia (the actual purpose of which is undisclosed) and upon his return continued his preaching in Damascus, becoming stronger in it to the point that his opposers sought to put him to death. The two accounts are complementary rather than contradictory, and the only question is as to the precise order of events, which simply is not provided.
        Arriving at Jerusalem (perhaps in 36 C.E.; the three years mentioned at Galatians 1:18 possibly meaning parts of three years), Paul found that the brothers there did not believe that he was a disciple. However, “Barnabas came to his aid and led him to the apostles,” evidently Peter and “James the brother of the Lord.” (James, though not one of the 12, could be designated as an apostle because of being such for the Jerusalem congregation.) For 15 days Paul stayed with Cephas (Peter). While at Jerusalem, Paul spoke boldly in the name of Jesus. When the brothers learned that the Greek-speaking Jews were therefore making attempts to kill Paul, “they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.”—Ac 9:26-30; Ga 1:18-21.
        It appears that Paul (about 41 C.E.) was privileged to experience a supernatural vision so real that he did not know whether it was in the body or out of the body that he was caught away to “the third heaven.” “The third heaven” seems to refer to the superlative degree of the rapture in which he saw the vision.—2Co 12:1-4.
        Later, Barnabas brought Saul from Tarsus to assist in the work at Antioch among the Greek-speaking people there. About 46 C.E., after a year’s labor at Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were sent by the congregation to Jerusalem with a relief ministration for the brothers there. (Ac 11:22-30) Accompanied by John Mark, they returned to Antioch. (Ac 12:25) Thereafter the holy spirit directed that Paul and Barnabas be set aside for special work.—Ac 13:1, 2.
        First Missionary Journey. (MAP, Vol. 2, p. 747) Following the spirit’s direction, Paul, in company with Barnabas and with John Mark as their attendant, began his first missionary journey (c. 47-48 C.E.). Embarking from Seleucia, the seaport of Antioch, they sailed to Cyprus. In the synagogues at Salamis, on the E coast of Cyprus, they commenced “publishing the word of God.” Traversing the island, they arrived at Paphos on the W coast. There the sorcerer Elymas tried to oppose the witness being given to proconsul Sergius Paulus. Paul then caused Elymas to be struck with temporary blindness. Astounded by what had happened, Sergius Paulus became a believer.—Ac 13:4-12.
        From Paphos, Paul and his associates sailed for Asia Minor. On their arrival at Perga in the Roman province of Pamphylia, John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. But Paul and Barnabas headed northward to Antioch in Pisidia. Although finding great interest there, they were finally thrown out of the city at the instigation of the Jews. (Ac 13:13-50) Undaunted, they traveled southeastward to Iconium, where the Jews also incited the crowds against them. Learning of an attempt to stone them, Paul and Barnabas fled to Lystra in the region of Lycaonia. After Paul healed a man lame from birth, the populace of Lystra imagined that Paul and Barnabas were incarnate gods. But, later, Jews from Iconium and Pisidian Antioch turned the crowds against Paul so that they stoned him and dragged his body outside the city, believing him to be dead. However, when surrounded by fellow Christians, Paul got up and entered Lystra. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. After making numerous disciples there, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch (in Pisidia), strengthening and encouraging the brothers and appointing elders to serve in the congregations established in these places. Later, they preached in Perga and then sailed from the seaport of Attalia for Syrian Antioch.—Ac 13:51–14:28.
        Circumcision Issue. Certain men from Judea came to Antioch (in about 49 C.E.), claiming that non-Jews had to be circumcised in compliance with the Mosaic Law in order to gain salvation. Paul and Barnabas disputed this. Yet Paul, though an apostle, did not take it upon himself to settle the matter on his own authority. Instead, accompanied by Barnabas, Titus, and others, he went to Jerusalem to set the issue before the apostles and older men of the congregation there. The decision then made was that circumcision was not required for Gentile believers but that they should keep free from idolatry, from eating and drinking of blood, and from sexual immorality. Besides providing a letter setting forth this decision, the brothers of the Jerusalem congregation sent Judas and Silas as their representatives to clarify the matter at Antioch. Also, in a discussion with Peter (Cephas), John, and the disciple James, it was agreed that Paul and Barnabas should continue preaching to uncircumcised Gentiles.—Ac 15:1-29; Ga 2:1-10.
        Sometime after this, Peter personally came to Syrian Antioch and associated with Gentile Christians. But, when certain Jews from Jerusalem arrived, he, evidently giving way to the fear of men, withdrew from the non-Jews, thereby acting contrary to the spirit’s direction that fleshly distinctions did not count with God. Even Barnabas was led astray. Noting this, Paul courageously censured Peter publicly, as his conduct was detrimental to the progress of Christianity.—Ga 2:11-14.
        Second Missionary Journey. (MAP, Vol. 2, p. 747) Later, Paul and Barnabas thought about visiting the brothers in the cities where they had preached during their first missionary journey. A dispute about whether to take along John Mark, in view of his having left them the first time, resulted in a split between Paul and Barnabas. Paul therefore chose Silas (Silvanus) and traveled through Syria and into Asia Minor (c. 49-52 C.E.). Evidently at Lystra, Paul arranged for the young man Timothy to accompany him and he also circumcised him. (Ac 15:36–16:3) Though circumcision was not a Christian requirement, had the half Jew Timothy remained in an uncircumcised state, doubtless this would have prejudiced the Jews against Paul’s preaching. Therefore, in removing this possible obstacle, Paul acted in agreement with what he later wrote to the Corinthians: “To the Jews I became as a Jew.”—1Co 9:20.
        One night at Troas on the Aegean Sea, Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man, entreating him: “Step over into Macedonia and help us.” Concluding this to be God’s will, Paul and his missionary companions, joined by Luke the physician, sailed for Macedonia, in Europe. At Philippi, the chief Macedonian city, Lydia and her household became believers. Paul’s causing a girl to lose her powers of prediction by expelling a demon from her led to his being jailed along with Silas. But an earthquake freed them, and the jailer and his household became Christians. At Paul’s insistence, on the basis of his Roman citizenship, the civil magistrates came personally to bring the apostle and Silas out of prison. After encouraging the brothers, Paul and his companions traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica. A congregation of believers developed there. Jealous Jews, however, instigated a riot against Paul. For this reason the brothers sent him and Silas to Beroea. Many became believers there also, but trouble caused by Jews from Thessalonica obliged Paul to leave.—Ac 16:8–17:14.
        The brothers conducted the apostle to Athens. His preaching in the marketplace there led to his being taken to the Areopagus. His defense moved Dionysius, one of the judges of the court that convened there, and others to embrace Christianity. (Ac 17:15-34) Next Paul went to Corinth, taking up lodging with a Jewish couple, Aquila and Priscilla, and working with them part-time as a tentmaker. From Corinth, Paul apparently wrote his two letters to the Thessalonians. After teaching in Corinth for a year and a half and establishing a congregation, he was accused by the Jews before Gallio. But Gallio dismissed the case. (Ac 18:1-17) Later Paul sailed for Caesarea, first stopping at Ephesus and preaching there. From Caesarea the apostle “went up and greeted the congregation,” undoubtedly referring to the congregation at Jerusalem, and then went to Syrian Antioch. (Ac 18:18-22) Possibly earlier from Corinth or perhaps now from Syrian Antioch he wrote his letter to the Galatians.
        Third Missionary Journey. (MAP, Vol. 2, p. 747) On his third missionary journey (c. 52-56 C.E.), Paul revisited Ephesus and labored there for some three years. From Ephesus he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians and, it appears, dispatched Titus to assist the Christians there. Following a riot instigated against him by the silversmith Demetrius, Paul left Ephesus and headed for Macedonia. Receiving news from Corinth through Titus, Paul, in Macedonia, composed his second letter to the Corinthians. Before leaving Europe with a contribution from the brothers in Macedonia and Achaia for the needy Christians in Jerusalem, and most probably when he was in Corinth, Paul wrote his letter to the Romans.—Ac 19:1–20:4; Ro 15:25, 26; 2Co 2:12, 13; 7:5-7.
        On his way to Jerusalem, Paul discoursed at Troas and raised the accidentally killed Eutychus to life. He also stopped at Miletus, where he met with the overseers of the Ephesus congregation, reviewed his own ministry in the district of Asia, and encouraged them to imitate his example.—Ac 20:6-38.
        Arrest. As Paul continued his journey, Christian prophets along the way foretold that bonds awaited him at Jerusalem. (Ac 21:4-14; compare 20:22, 23.) Their prophecies were fulfilled. While Paul was at the temple to cleanse himself ceremonially, Jews from Asia stirred up mob violence against him, but Roman soldiers rescued the apostle. (Ac 21:26-33) On his way up the stairs to the soldiers’ quarters, Paul got permission to address the Jews. As soon as he mentioned his commission to preach to the Gentiles, violence erupted anew. (Ac 21:34–22:22) Inside the soldiers’ quarters, Paul was stretched out for whipping in an effort to ascertain the nature of his guilt. The apostle prevented this by calling attention to his Roman citizenship. The next day Paul’s case came before the Sanhedrin. Apparently realizing that he would not get a fair hearing, Paul endeavored to create division between the Pharisees and Sadducees by making the resurrection an issue in his case. As he believed in the resurrection and was “a son of Pharisees,” Paul identified himself as a Pharisee and thus succeeded in setting the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, against the Pharisees and vice versa.—Ac 22:23–23:10.
        A plot against the prisoner Paul made it necessary to transfer him from Jerusalem to Caesarea. Some days later High Priest Ananias, some of the older men of the Jews, and the orator Tertullus came to Caesarea to present their case against Paul before Governor Felix, accusing Paul of stirring up sedition and trying to profane the temple. The apostle showed that there was no evidence to support their charges against him. But Felix, hoping for a bribe, kept Paul in custody for two years. When Felix was replaced by Festus, the Jews renewed their charges. The case was heard again at Caesarea, and Paul, to prevent a transfer of the trial to Jerusalem, appealed to Caesar. Later, after stating his case before King Herod Agrippa II, Paul and some other prisoners were sent to Rome in about 58 C.E.—Ac 23:12–27:1.
        First and Second Imprisonments at Rome. On the way, Paul and those with him experienced shipwreck on the island of Malta. After wintering there, they finally arrived at Rome. (MAP, Vol. 2, p. 750) Paul was permitted to stay in his own hired house, though under soldier guard. Shortly after his arrival, Paul arranged a meeting with the principal men of the Jews. But only some believed. The apostle continued to preach to all those who came to him for two years, from about 59 to 61 C.E. (Ac 27:2–28:31) During this time he also wrote his letters to the Ephesians (4:1; 6:20), Philippians (1:7, 12-14), Colossians (4:18), to Philemon (vs 9), and evidently also to the Hebrews. It appears that Caesar Nero pronounced Paul innocent and released him. Evidently Paul renewed his missionary activity, in association with Timothy and Titus. After having left Timothy at Ephesus and Titus on Crete, Paul, probably from Macedonia, wrote letters to them relative to their duties. (1Ti 1:3; Tit 1:5) Whether the apostle extended his activity to Spain before his final imprisonment at Rome is not known. (Ro 15:24) During that imprisonment (c. 65 C.E.) Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, wherein he implied that his death was imminent. (2Ti 4:6-8) Likely Paul suffered martyrdom at the hands of Nero shortly thereafter.
        An Example Worthy of Imitation. In view of his faithfulness in copying Christ’s example, the apostle Paul could say: “Become imitators of me.” (1Co 4:16; 11:1; Php 3:17) Paul was alert to follow the leading of God’s spirit. (Ac 13:2-5; 16:9, 10) He was no peddler of God’s Word, but spoke out of sincerity. (2Co 2:17) Though educated, Paul did not try to impress others with his speech (1Co 2:1-5) nor did he seek to please men. (Ga 1:10) He did not insist on doing what he had the right to do, but adapted himself to the people to whom he preached, exercising care so as not to stumble others.—1Co 9:19-26; 2Co 6:3.
        During the course of his ministry, Paul exerted himself zealously, traveling thousands of miles on sea and land, establishing many congregations in Europe and Asia Minor. So he did not need letters of recommendation written with ink but could point to living letters, persons who had become believers through his efforts. (2Co 3:1-3) Yet he humbly acknowledged that he was a slave (Php 1:1), obligated to declare the good news. (1Co 9:16) He did not take any credit to himself, but gave all honor to God as the One responsible for growth (1Co 3:5-9) and the One who had adequately qualified him for the ministry. (2Co 3:5, 6) The apostle highly valued his ministry, glorifying it and recognizing its possession to be an expression of God’s mercy and that of his Son. (Ro 11:13; 2Co 4:1; 1Ti 1:12, 13) To Timothy he wrote: “The reason why I was shown mercy was that by means of me as the foremost case Christ Jesus might demonstrate all his long-suffering for a sample of those who are going to rest their faith on him for everlasting life.”—1Ti 1:16.
        Because of having been a former persecutor of Christians, Paul did not consider himself fit to be called an apostle and acknowledged that he was such only by God’s undeserved kindness. Concerned that this undeserved kindness might not have been extended to him in vain, Paul labored in excess of the other apostles. Yet he realized that only by God’s undeserved kindness was he able to carry on his ministry. (1Co 15:9, 10) “For all things,” said Paul, “I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Php 4:13) He endured much but did not complain. When comparing his experiences with those of others, he wrote (c. 55 C.E.): “In labors more plentifully, in prisons more plentifully, in blows to an excess, in near-deaths often. By Jews I five times received forty strokes less one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the deep; in journeys often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from highwaymen, in dangers from my own race, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers among false brothers, in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, in abstinence from food many times, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things of an external kind, there is what rushes in on me from day to day, the anxiety for all the congregations.” (2Co 11:23-28; 6:4-10; 7:5) Besides all of this and more in subsequent years, Paul had to contend with “a thorn in the flesh” (2Co 12:7), possibly an affliction of his eyes or of another sort.—Compare Ac 23:1-5; Ga 4:15; 6:11.

        Being imperfect, Paul experienced a continual conflict between his mind and the sinful flesh. (Ro 7:21-24) But he did not give up. He said: “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” (1Co 9:27) Paul always kept the glorious prize of immortal life in the heavens before him. He viewed all the suffering as nothing in comparison with the glory to be received as a reward for faithfulness. (Ro 8:18; Php 3:6-14) Therefore, evidently not long before his death, Paul could write: “I have fought the fine fight, I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith. From this time on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness.”—2Ti 4:7, 8.

        As an inspired apostle, Paul had authority to command and give orders, and did so (1Co 14:37; 16:1; Col 4:10; 1Th 4:2, 11; compare 1Ti 4:11), but he preferred to appeal to the brothers on the basis of love, entreating them by “the compassions of God” and by “the mildness and kindness of the Christ.” (Ro 12:1; 2Co 6:11-13; 8:8; 10:1; Phm 8, 9) He was gentle and expressed tender affection for them, exhorting and consoling them like a father. (1Th 2:7, 8, 11, 12) While he was entitled to receive material support from the brothers, he chose to work with his hands in order not to be an expensive burden. (Ac 20:33-35; 1Co 9:18; 1Th 2:6, 9) As a result, a close bond of brotherly affection existed between Paul and those to whom he ministered. The overseers of the Ephesus congregation were greatly pained and were moved to p. 590tears upon learning that they might see his face no more. (Ac 20:37, 38) Paul was very much concerned about the spiritual welfare of fellow Christians and wanted to do what he could to assist them to make their heavenly calling sure. (Ro 1:11; 15:15, 16; Col 2:1, 2) Constantly he remembered them in his prayers (Ro 1:8, 9; 2Co 13:7; Eph 3:14-19; Php 1:3-5, 9-11; Col 1:3, 9-12; 1Th 1:2, 3; 2Th 1:3) and requested that they also pray for him. (Ro 15:30-32; 2Co 1:11) He drew encouragement from the faith of fellow Christians. (Ro 1:12) On the other hand, Paul was firm for what is right, not hesitating to correct even a fellow apostle when that was necessary for the advancement of the good news.—1Co 5:1-13; Ga 2:11-14.

        Was Paul one of the 12 apostles?

        Though having strong conviction and proofs as to his own apostleship, Paul never included himself among “the twelve.” Prior to Pentecost, as a result of Peter’s Scriptural exhortation, the Christian assembly had sought a replacement for unfaithful Judas Iscariot. Two disciples were selected as candidates, perhaps by vote of the male members of the assembly (Peter having addressed himself to the “Men, brothers”; Ac 1:16). Then they prayed to Jehovah God (compare Ac 1:24 with 1Sa 16:7; Ac 15:7, 8) that He should designate which of the two he had chosen to replace the unfaithful apostle. Following their prayer, they cast lots and “the lot fell upon Matthias.”—Ac 1:15-26; compare Pr 16:33.

        There is no reason to doubt that Matthias was God’s own choice. True, once converted, Paul became very prominent and his labors exceeded those of all the other apostles. (1Co 15:9, 10) Yet there is nothing to show that Paul was personally predestinated to an apostleship so that God, in effect, refrained from acting on the prayer of the Christian assembly, held open the place vacated by Judas until Paul’s conversion, and thus made the appointment of Matthias merely an arbitrary action of the Christian assembly. On the contrary, there is sound evidence that Matthias was a divinely appointed replacement.

        At Pentecost the outpouring of holy spirit gave the apostles unique powers; they are the only ones shown to have been able to lay hands on newly baptized ones and communicate to them miraculous gifts of the spirit. (See APOSTLE [Miraculous powers].) If Matthias were not in reality God’s choice, his inability to do this would have been apparent to all. The record shows this was not the case. Luke, the writer of Acts, was Paul’s traveling companion and associate during certain missions, and the book of Acts therefore undoubtedly reflects and coincides with Paul’s own view of matters. That book refers to “the twelve” as appointing the seven men who were to handle the matter of the food distribution problem. This was after Pentecost of 33 C.E. but before Paul’s conversion. Hence Matthias is here acknowledged as one of “the twelve,” and he shared with the other apostles in laying hands on the seven designates.—Ac 6:1-6.

        Whose name then appears among those on the “twelve foundation stones” of the New Jerusalem of John’s vision—Matthias’ or Paul’s? (Re 21:2, 14) One line of reasoning would make it appear that Paul is the more likely one. He contributed so much to the Christian congregation by his ministry and particularly by his writing a large portion of the Christian Greek Scriptures (14 letters being attributed to him). In these respects Paul ‘outshone’ Matthias, who receives no further direct mention after Acts chapter 1.

        But sober consideration makes evident that Paul also ‘outshone’ many of the original 12 apostles, some of whom are rarely even named outside the apostolic lists. By the time that Paul was converted, the Christian congregation, spiritual Israel, had been established, or founded, and had been growing for perhaps a year or even more. Then, too, Paul’s first canonical letter was evidently not written until about 50 C.E. (see THESSALONIANS, LETTERS TO THE) or as much as 17 years after the foundation of the new nation of spiritual Israel on Pentecost of 33 C.E. These facts, plus the evidence submitted earlier in this article, thus clarify the matter. It seems reasonable, therefore, that God’s original choice, namely, Matthias, as the one to replace Judas among “the twelve apostles of the Lamb,” remained firm and unaffected by the later apostleship of Paul.

        What, then, was the purpose of Paul’s apostleship? Jesus himself stated that it was for a particular purpose—not as a replacement for Judas—but that Paul might serve as an ‘apostle [sent one] to the nations’ (Ac 9:4-6, 15), and Paul recognized this as the purpose of his apostleship. (Ga 1:15, 16; 2:7, 8; Ro 1:5; 1Ti 2:7) This being so, his apostleship was not needed to serve as a foundation when spiritual Israel was established on Pentecost, 33 C.E.

    2. Are you serious?, I just googled “Romans 1:18-32” and that passage is from “New International Version” That same verse in the King James Version, American Standard Version, etc. is completely different. Completely. As Macklemore says: “Open to Interpretation….” My bible studies might not be up to what yours are “Natural_Law”, but that’s one thing I never understood about people that guide their life with the bible. First which version, and second, when there’s a contradiction, what one do you follow? – the one that is most convenient at the time? My religion Loves all, and follows one rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Join the great church (or lack their of) of the atheist, and you save 10% of your earnings.

      Quick shout out to Dannika, amazing posts. Still follow her after the Same Love post!

      Now let the faithful quote more passages about me not believing in god.

  4. I am the son of an alcoholic, and the grandson of a son of an alcoholic. I don’t really feel normal or truly me when I’m sober, and bottom line, I just really don’t like being sober very much. When my Christian friends have told me they think I shouldn’t drink, I am sure some of them may be been doing so from some high moral ground, wanting me to “behave right” according to their standards, but others have been real friends who honestly believe that should I slip into alcoholism with abandon, it would be devastating to my life. These do listen, although most of the church today may prefer the high-ground approach or even condemn me as a drunk. I know the truth is that I am broken, I value the ones who have walked alongside me in compassion, not ripping the bottle out of my hands in disgust, but not refilling it once I empty it either.

  5. Shea, your ‘real friends’ sound like the ‘real Christians’ to me.

    It is true that anyone can pluck verses from the bible to support anything they want. Something that I have noticed is that the Thing those selective literalists have chosen nearly always points the finger at anyone other than themselves. Because the bible is so easily abused, I find it a waste of time and energy to play “Dueling Bible Verses.”

    Throughout its history, beginning when the Old Testament was a collection of myths and legends passed down orally through hundreds of generations, to the present day, scripture has been at the mercy of the individual tellers, copiers, translators, teachers, etc. Each one of those operated under the influence of their cultures, influences, everything they came in contact with. Patriarchy was an ongoing problem.

    The bible still has value, but taking any few stories or sentences literally is simply a fool’s errand. I read several chapters at once to get a sense of the larger picture. I highly recommend reading the gospels as one section, as a story of a life. Read for the larger themes of the protagonist. What subjects does he keep returning to? Contrast that with the tools the powerful use as attacks. How do their concerns differ? Listen to the stories he tells. I believe you will get a better understanding of the founder of Christianity that way.

    1. I know it may look like were “plucking verses” at random to defend our position, D.E., but backing up one’s position with any given verse actually opens one up to added scrutiny. If you are able to point out an error in my interpretation of “homosex” being a sin based on verses like Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, etc., I’m all ears.

      Now, I’ll have to take issue with your exagerated “…passed down orally through hundreds of generations…”: You reveal your ignorance of how we got our Bible. In other words, your sin-loving bias is showing (i.e., If I can discredit the Bible, I can’t be expected to live up to its demands.).

      You say the Bible still has value, but if what you say is true, I’d seriously consider chucking it. Maybe it’s people like you, who willingly toss out anything convicting in the Bible and cherry pick only the “love” verses, who are doing the the very thing you accuse us “literalists” of doing.

      If you want to know what the overarching theme of the Bible is, and what should guide ALL interpretation? JESUS CHRIST! After God’s creation and man’s fall, Gen. 3:15 announces God’s rescue plan of repentant sinners through “the seed of the woman.” Any other interpretation projected upon Scripture can, at best, be of secondary importance. The Bible is about God creating man, man rebelling against his Creator and God’s merciful, gracious, loving and sovereign plan to be glorified by saving a people for Himself (and be glorified by giving unrepentant sinners what they deserve: hell). Every Old Testament book looks forward to the Savior, while the NT presents the Savior (Gospels) or looks back to Him (Acts, Romans, etc.).

  6. Jenn says:

    You cannot interpret scripture based on anecdotal evidence and the feelings of humans. Your argument that homosexuality might not be wrong because lots of spiritual people think it’s inborn is bad theology and bad logic.

    Heel the divide by acknowledging sin and sharing the love of Jesus for the sinner. It’s actually worked pretty brilliantly for over 2000 years.

  7. Jenn, I think you sailed right past the very helpful comment Tim Reeder shared with us.

    The sources Tim cited did not use anecdotal evidence or the feelings of humans. What you describe as ‘bad theology and bad logic’ is not there either. He’s provided well-researched evidence. I’m familiar with that information too, and it is sound.

    It would be very interesting to hear from you what it is you are reacting to. That would likely provide fodder for a good conversation. Like you, we are all influenced by our experiences, education, and personal beliefs and prejudices.

  8. The Bible’s Viewpoint
    Is Homosexuality Ever Justifiable?
    THE practice of homosexuality continues to gain acceptance in many lands. A group in one church in the United States is calling for a reinterpretation of what the Bible says about homosexuality in light of “contemporary wisdom.” A pastor in Brazil who recently entered into a same-sex marriage also encouraged “taking a fresh look at the Bible,” so as to allow for his church’s contemporary view.
    On the other hand, those who do not approve of homosexual acts are often tagged as homophobic or prejudiced. What does the Bible really say about homosexuality?
    What Does the Bible Say?
    The Bible does not promote prejudice against people. However, its view of homosexual acts is clear.
    “You must not lie down with a male the same as you lie down with a woman. It is a detestable thing.”—Leviticus 18:22.
    As part of the Mosaic Law, this prohibition was one of many moral laws given specifically to the nation of Israel. Even so, the commandment expresses God’s view of homosexual acts, whether by Jews or non-Jews, when it says: “It is a detestable thing.” The nations around Israel practiced homosexuality, incest, adultery, and other acts prohibited by the Law. Therefore, God viewed those nations as unclean. (Leviticus 18:24, 25) Did the Bible’s viewpoint change during the Christian era? Consider the following scripture:
    “God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene.”—Romans 1:26, 27.
    Why does the Bible describe homosexual acts as unnatural and obscene? Because they involve sexual activity that was not intended by our Creator. Homosexual acts cannot produce offspring. The Bible compares homosexual activity to the sexual relations that rebellious angels, who came to be known as demons, had with women before the Deluge of Noah’s day. (Genesis 6:4; 19:4, 5; Jude 6, 7) God views both acts as unnatural.
    Factors That Justify Homosexuality?
    Some may wonder, ‘Would genetics, environment, or traumatic life experiences, such as sexual abuse, justify one’s giving in to homosexual desires?’ No, they would not. Consider this example: A person may have what some scientists consider to be hereditary tendencies toward alcohol abuse, or he may have been raised in a family where alcohol abuse was commonplace. Certainly, most people would be empathetic toward a person in such circumstances. All the same, by no means would he be encouraged to continue abusing alcohol or to give up his fight against alcohol abuse just because he may have been born with the tendency or he was raised in such an environment.
    Likewise, while the Bible does not condemn those who struggle with homosexual tendencies, it in no way condones giving in to those tendencies, whether they are the result of genetics or they stem from some other source. (Romans 7:21-25; 1 Corinthians 9:27) Instead, the Bible offers practical assistance and encouragement to help individuals to win the fight against homosexual practices.
    What Is God’s Will for People With Homosexual Desires?
    The Bible assures us that God’s will is that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) Though the Bible disapproves of homosexual acts, it does not encourage hatred of homosexuals.
    God’s view of homosexuality cannot be watered down. At 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, the Bible clearly states that “men who lie with men” are included in those who “will not inherit God’s kingdom.” But verse 11 adds the comforting thought: “And yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean, but you have been sanctified, but you have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.”
    Clearly, those who sincerely desired to worship God on his terms were warmly welcomed into the early Christian congregation. The same is true today for all honesthearted ones who seek God’s approval—not by reinterpreting the Bible—but by bringing their lives into harmony with it.

  9. Can You Trust the Bible?
    Should not a divinely inspired book for all people contain timeless advice for living? The Bible reflects an understanding of human nature that applies to every generation of mankind, and its principles are just as practical today as they were when first stated. This can easily be seen in a famous discourse given by Jesus Christ, the Founder of Christianity. It is recorded in Matthew chapters 5 to 7. This address, known as the Sermon on the Mount, shows us not only how to find true happiness but also how to settle disputes, how to pray, how to view material needs, and much more. In this discourse, and throughout the rest of its pages, the Bible clearly tells us what to do and what to avoid in order to please God and improve our lot in life.
    Another reason why you can put your trust in the Bible is that when it comes to scientific matters, what this ancient book states is accurate. For example, at a time when most people believed that the earth was flat, the Bible spoke of “the circle [or, sphere] of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:22) And over 3,000 years before the famous scientist Sir Isaac Newton explained that the planets are held in empty space by gravity, the Bible poetically stated that ‘the earth is hanging upon nothing.’ (Job 26:7) Consider also this poetic description of the earth’s water cycle, recorded some 3,000 years ago: “All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:7, New International Version) Yes, the Creator of the universe is also the Author of the Bible.
    The historical accuracy of the Bible agrees with the fact that it is inspired of God. Events covered in the Bible are not mere myths. They are related to specific dates, people, and places. For example, Luke 3:1 factually refers to “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was district ruler of Galilee.”
    Although ancient historians almost always reported only the successes and virtues of rulers, the Bible writers were honest, openly admitting even their own mistakes. For instance, King David of Israel confessed: “I have sinned very much in what I have done. . . . I have acted very foolishly.” That statement is candidly documented in the Bible. (2 Samuel 24:10) And the Bible writer Moses himself recorded the incident in which he did not demonstrate reliance on the true God.—Numbers 20:12.
    The Bible has yet another mark of divine inspiration. That mark is its fulfilled prophecies—history written in advance. Some of these are prophecies concerning Jesus Christ. For example, over 700 years before Jesus’ birth, the Hebrew Scriptures accurately foretold that this Promised One would be born “in Bethlehem of Judea.”—Matthew 2:1-6; Micah 5:2.
    Consider another example. At 2 Timothy 3:1-5, the Bible states: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” Does this not describe the attitude of people in general today? These words were penned in the year 65 C.E., over 1,900 years ago!
    What Does the Bible Teach Us?
    As its message unfolds before your eyes, you will be able to see that the Bible is a source of higher wisdom. It provides satisfying answers to such questions as these: Who is God? Is the Devil real? Who is Jesus Christ? Why does suffering exist? What happens to us when we die? The answers you may hear from others are as diverse as the beliefs and customs of the people giving them. But the Bible reveals the truth about these and many other subjects. Furthermore, in the matter of conduct and attitude toward other humans and higher authorities, the Bible’s guidance cannot be surpassed.

  10. Wow! You are so quick to toss out centuries-old interpretations for modern (1970’s+) “gay-friendly” interpretations because your gay friends assure you “being gay” is their identity? You would believe the sin-warped mind of a homosexual over God’s… the one who created everyone and, therefore, knows his creatures intimately?

    I pity you. I wish you’d just go out and join a liberal denomination (e.g., PCUSA, United Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, etc.) and stop playing “Evangelical,” because you are about as far from being a Bible-centered “Evangelical” as the liberals are. On the other hand, we’re calling heretics like Rob Bell “Evangelical,” so maybe the biblical remnant in the Evangelical world needs to think about returning to its “Protestant” label… but this time have “Protestant” refer to a protest against the liberal takeover of the Church, in addition to its original Roman Catholic protest.

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  13. I think it comes down to love God….love gay people and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth. Affirm human value and dignity. Call on the Name of Jesus! Be open to the truth of God’s Word.

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