Green Room

Sunday reflection: Matthew 5:13–16

posted at 10:01 am on February 9, 2014 by

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular Green Room feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection only represents my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion.

Today’s gospel reading is Matthew 5:13–16:

Jesus said to his disciples:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Here we have three wonderful analogies of the Church in the world from Jesus, in an instruction that presages the Great Commission at the end of Matthew (Matt 28-16-20). Later, in those passages, the risen Christ would transform his disciples into apostles — those sent out — to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” In this passage, Jesus foreshadows that mission and the Church to come, hinting at the scope of that commission long before the disciples realized the nature of Jesus’ sacrifice.

The analogies here speak of the disciples and the Church in terms of presence, vision, and taste — but not of speech or instruction, oddly enough, even though Matt 28:16 is sometimes translated as “go and teach all nations.” Jesus does not provide an analogy of instruction as such in this passage. Instead, all three of these examples speak of providing an example to the world, and specifically in the world — but not of the world, as we’ll see.

The emphasis on example is perhaps strongest in the second and third analogies. The disciples would have understood immediately the reference to the “city on a mountain” — Jerusalem. The mission of the nation of Israel had always been to be that “city on a mountain,” a community of priests to instruct the world on the Word of God. God intended Jerusalem to be a lamp to all nations, bringing His light into the world, the nations of which would come to the city on the mountain and see the light for themselves through His holy people and their devotion to Him.

The Israelites failed to sustain that mission almost from the moment it was given with the making of the golden calf after the Exodus, and later with the corruption of Jerusalem through idol worship as the kings of Israel desired worldly power over serving the mission of God. This is why the Messiah was necessary for salvation. Jesus tells the disciples that their light would “shine before others” through their “good deeds,” which would then “glorify your heavenly Father.”

The prophet Isaiah proclaims this as well in our first reading today, Isaiah 58:7-10. The prophet tells Israel that the Lord calls them to specific action — to share their bread with the hungry, clothe the naked, remove oppression, and satisfy the afflicted as their atonement. In this passage, Isaiah also uses light as an analogy, saying that “your light will break forth like the dawn,” and also that “light shall rise for you in the darkness.” Following the Lord’s command would mean that “the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard” against the Israelites’ enemies, with their “vindication” in the vanguard.

All of this is predicated on action, rather than just instruction. The city on the mountain is no longer Jerusalem, but the Church. Although they did not know it yet, the paradigm would be reversed: Jesus would send them out into the world rather than having the world come to Jerusalem. Since the nations would not come to the original city on the mountain due to its failures (and its coming fall), the Church would come to the nations of the world to set an example — the example that Jerusalem was intended to provide — and bring the light of the Gospel, set aflame by their works of mercy so that all nations would be converted.  Instead of making pilgrims of all nations to Jerusalem, the Church would become a pilgrim to all nations for Christ.

Paul suggests the same in today’s reading from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. “I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom,” Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. “My message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power…” Paul certainly taught with words, too, especially in the letters we have today that continue his teachings. But teaching alone wasn’t enough; Jesus tells his disciples had to set an example, to live their faith rather than just teach it, in order to fulfill their mission and that of the Church.

The analogy of salt is the most interesting in this context, too. Salt had two purposes in the time of the disciples, and to this day: to season and to preserve. It was also highly valued, and Roman soldiers were paid in salt (which is where we get the word “salary,” by the way). The Gospel explicitly mentions taste and warns that a Church that loses its flavor and its value is worthless. This would become a particular problem in Corinth, as I have written before, where the early Christian community had trouble keeping its “flavor,” thanks to the social pressures to conform to the hedonistic norm. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is in essence the same warning Jesus gives the disciples, which relates to the failure of Jerusalem and Israel in their mission. They became too enamored of fitting into the practices of the world instead of serving as an example of God’s law. Jerusalem would soon be trampled underfoot in 70 AD, and although no one knew that at the time of 1 Corinthians, Paul warns that the same would happen to Christian communities if the distinctiveness of living God’s law and the example that set was lost. Without that flavor, the preservation of the Church would be impossible, and salvation for the nations of the world lost as the light faltered and the city on the mountain fell.

This is why all three passages emphasize action, and not just proclamation. Action creates examples, and living a faith acts to preserve it much more effectively than just talking about it. The church in Corinth fell into that error, and Paul had to rescue it from its own lack of flavor and value. We are called to live our faith in the world so that the light of God’s love through Jesus can be seen by all, rather than fit our faith into our worldly concerns or merely discuss it. That is our pilgrimage, and we make it every day.

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Ed,do you use Homiletics and Pastoral Review?

celtic warrior on February 9, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Ed,do you use Homiletics and Pastoral Review?

celtic warrior on February 9, 2014 at 12:04 PM

No, not even aware of it until your comment. Basically, I just pray for guidance first and then try to draw out the lessons I see in the readings.

I’m going to check it out, though. Looks interesting.

http://www.hprweb.com/

Ed Morrissey on February 9, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Thanks Ed. Very thoughtful.
Great addition to the Green Room.

Zorro on February 9, 2014 at 12:13 PM

God chose the simpleton, Peter, to base the church. Saul was 10 times his intellectual superior, and Thomas was closest spiritually. Yet Peter was chosen because mankind has to take baby steps.

John the Libertarian on February 9, 2014 at 12:20 PM

It was also highly valued, and Roman soldiers were paid in salt (which is where we get the word “salary,” by the way).

Interesting. Didn’t know that.

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2014 at 12:58 PM

…thanks Ed!…I like this ‘reflection’ on Sunday’s…just like to lurk and learn… different perspectives !

KOOLAID2 on February 9, 2014 at 1:03 PM

i like these reflections and really appreciate you doing them!

Paul suggests the same in today’s reading from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. “I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom,” Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. “My message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power…” Paul certainly taught with words, too, especially in the letters we have today that continue his teachings. But teaching alone wasn’t enough; Jesus tells his disciples had to set an example, to live their faith rather than just teach it, in order to fulfill their mission and that of the Church.

this is so important. being excellent at debating is a good thing but it’s not the very best thing a Christian can do to spread the light to others. the best thing is to be an example of Jesus’ love- imitating Him. that’s the most important thing to do. debating skills come second. i forget that sometimes.

the early Christian community had trouble keeping its “flavor,” thanks to the social pressures to conform to the hedonistic norm.

still happening now, sadly. there are too many “Christians” who don’t seem to actually care about the Bible.

Sachiko on February 9, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Thanks Ed…

OmahaConservative on February 9, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Ed…

I am a Catechuman in the RCIA program at my local Parish. I will be baptized during the Vigil this Easter at age 60. Better late than never!

I really enjoy your Sunday Reflections each week. You completely analyze the readings and I find your comments extremely helpful in our dismissal class after the Liturgy of the Word.

I truly hope you keep this up as I look forward to your thoughts each Sunday.

Yours in Christ,
Michael

Michael Harlin on February 9, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Michael Harlin on February 9, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Thank you! Great to hear of your journey in RCIA, and keep us up to date on your progress. I’ll add you to my prayer intentions.

Ed Morrissey on February 9, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Jesus told us to go…not to sit in the pews or entertain ourselves but go…the fields are bountiful and the workers are few. It would seem like the current crop of politicians have once again given us a lot in the fields to work with.

crosshugger on February 9, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Thank you again, Ed, for this.

unclesmrgol on February 9, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Ed,

Salt had another use as well. When the Romans destroyed Carthage, they salted the fields around the city so that nothing would grow there again.

unclesmrgol on February 9, 2014 at 6:18 PM

This is why all three passages emphasize action, and not just proclamation. Action creates examples, and living a faith acts to preserve it much more effectively than just talking about it. The church in Corinth fell into that error, and Paul had to rescue it from its own lack of flavor and value. We are called to live our faith in the world so that the light of God’s love through Jesus can be seen by all, rather than fit our faith into our worldly concerns or merely discuss it. That is our pilgrimage, and we make it every day.

That is the point that Pope Francis tried to make in Gaudium Evangelii.

unclesmrgol on February 9, 2014 at 6:20 PM

Thank you – our world needs more teachings from the bible.

whatzit2u on February 9, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Michael Harlin on February 9, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Welcome to the Christian family, my brother! May The Lord Bless and Keep you…

OmahaConservative on February 9, 2014 at 7:15 PM

God chose the simpleton, Peter, to base the church. Saul was 10 times his intellectual superior, and Thomas was closest spiritually. Yet Peter was chosen because mankind has to take baby steps.

John the Libertarian on February 9, 2014 at 12:20 PM

No. The church is based on Jesus Christ. Peter just preached the first message. Read in Acts 2.

ConservativePartyNow on February 9, 2014 at 10:46 PM

My beloved pastor taught this today. What the world wants us to do is shut up and sit down; the polar opposite of what Christ commissioned us to do.

It takes guts, it takes a knowing within yourself that you were called to be ‘salt and light’.

Time to be brave. “I wish I were the woman I know to be.”

kozanne on February 9, 2014 at 10:49 PM

ConservativePartyNow on February 9, 2014 at 10:46 PM

And it was a doozy! I love reading Acts 2.

kozanne on February 9, 2014 at 10:52 PM

I think this is the third week of this thread and for some reason I look forward to reading. Even though I am a noob here I have lurked this site since 2007 and enjoy the varied topics. Not being schooled at all in subjects of this type, if I may without offense to anyone, I wish to post my thoughts on the passages quoted as I have never read them or the bible at all.

Seems to me a gift of great knowledge or truth (maybe wrong words to use but I can’t put it another way) was offered and accepted, but with a responsibility. For me it would be near impossible to balance the ownership of such priceless knowledge; be humble in ownership of such a gift; be commanded to share it with others who most likely do not want to receive; be a shining light to set an example; and still have a day job and take care of the family and day to day life.

I mean no jest and as a non-believer maybe best to butt out, but those were my thoughts after I read the subject being discussed.

After four days here I am sure folks want me to go away as I am a scatter-shot in my old age.

HonestLib on February 9, 2014 at 10:58 PM

Ed, I wasn’t aware this was a Sunday post. Have no idea why I never noticed it before. Appreciate that you prepare this and needless to say, it’s sorely needed in this Country. To be truthful, God’s Word needs taught in the Churches.

Years ago, I found that reading and studying Scripture was the most and only way to not be led astray by false teaching. If one doesn’t know God’s Word first, then how would they know if the teaching is false or true?

bluefox on February 9, 2014 at 11:20 PM

I mean no jest and as a non-believer maybe best to butt out, but those were my thoughts after I read the subject being discussed.

After four days here I am sure folks want me to go away as I am a scatter-shot in my old age.

HonestLib on February 9, 2014 at 10:58 PM

Don’t sell yourself short HonestLib:-) I’ve read a few of your comments and haven’t had any problem with them. Your expressed thoughts are valid because they are honest and therefore worthy to be heard. Searching for Truth is always rewarded.

bluefox on February 9, 2014 at 11:30 PM

I think this is the third week of this thread and for some reason I look forward to reading. Even though I am a noob here I have lurked this site since 2007 and enjoy the varied topics. Not being schooled at all in subjects of this type, if I may without offense to anyone, I wish to post my thoughts on the passages quoted as I have never read them or the bible at all.

Seems to me a gift of great knowledge or truth (maybe wrong words to use but I can’t put it another way) was offered and accepted, but with a responsibility. For me it would be near impossible to balance the ownership of such priceless knowledge; be humble in ownership of such a gift; be commanded to share it with others who most likely do not want to receive; be a shining light to set an example; and still have a day job and take care of the family and day to day life.

I mean no jest and as a non-believer maybe best to butt out, but those were my thoughts after I read the subject being discussed.

After four days here I am sure folks want me to go away as I am a scatter-shot in my old age.

HonestLib on February 9, 2014 at 10:58 PM

Thanks for your thoughts.

22044 on February 9, 2014 at 11:32 PM

The church is based on Jesus Christ. Peter just preached the first message. Read in Acts 2.

ConservativePartyNow on February 9, 2014 at 10:46 PM

Good advice. The first preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I think the book of Acts is rich and everytime I read it, I learn something new:-)

bluefox on February 9, 2014 at 11:33 PM

Michael Harlin on February 9, 2014 at 4:05 PM

I did the same thing three years ago (except that I was a “candidate” rather than a catechumen) Best decision I ever made. Aside from being true, it’s just so rich, in history and theology, that you could spend a lifetime studying the faith and not put a dent in it. To understand Catholicism is to be constantly humbled. Good luck and God bless.

RBMN on February 10, 2014 at 12:37 AM

Today’s gospel reading is Matthew 5:13–16
.
Jesus said to his disciples :

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

.
.
Translation (taking a DEEP breath, for this one) :

Would all of my brethren who are alive, on the earth today, please STOP “holing-up” in those physical structures you call ‘churches’, on the false pretense that you’re supposed to “hold the fort, till I come”?

Get OUT there, and do the work of the ministry … or it AIN’T GETTING DONE.

listens2glenn on February 10, 2014 at 12:55 AM

It was also highly valued, and Roman soldiers were paid in salt (which is where we get the word “salary,” by the way).

Maybe some fact-checking is in order.

Legionary pay was never lavish (112.5 denarii per year, which was doubled by Julius Caesar to 225 denarii), and the cost of food and arms was deducted from this amount. In contrast, centurions received considerably higher pay; under Augustus, the lowest ranking centurion was paid 3,750 denarii and the highest ranking, 15,000 denarii.

There was salt paid out, apparently several times a year but it was part of basic rations but the cost for food and salt were deducted from pay. Loot and retirement bonuses (marriage certificates, land grants) were the biggest incentives for volunteering with certain bonuses paid for things like being the first (surviving) man to cross a city wall or a general breaking a blockade to relieve a besieged legion.

You can find a lot of conflicting info about the army of the early Republic, mid-Republic, late Republic, Imperial Roman army, Late Roman army, Middle Byzantine army (after the Western empire fell) and so on. Over the centuries, conscription and volunteers and allied non-citizen auxiliaries kept changing the overall picture for enlistment and compensation.

When you think about, any little republic that turns into a giant empire was going to have major changes over half a millennium (Greece, Rome, America). So when you ask how a Roman soldier was paid, first tell me which era you are talking about. In the early Republic, for instance, all male citizens from 16-46 were members of the militia (like Greece, like America) and over time as empire was pursued as a policy, the army, its organization, and compensation all changed as it became more professionalized and as native allied armies became a regular part of the Roman military.

And, really, doesn’t SALT=SALARY=TOTAL COMPENSATION sound a little corny?

You might check your Mac’s Oxford dictionary for ‘salary’:

ORIGIN Middle English : from Anglo-Norman French salarie, from Latin salarium, originally denoting a Roman soldier’s allowance to buy salt, from sal ‘salt.’

I go with the Oxford myself. I realize I’m nitpicking a bit but the notion of salt as the entire compensation of Roman soldiers simply cannot be accurate. Modern equivalents to the “salary” of ancient Roman soldiers would be the coffee ration or the tea ration or the cigarette ration, all of these seen in WW II along with some restrictions imposed on these in their home countries as well.

Toocon on February 10, 2014 at 6:57 AM

Toocon on February 10, 2014 at 6:57 AM |

That explanation comes from the Roman historian Pliny in his Natural History: “[I]n Rome. . .the soldier’s pay was originally salt and the word salary derives from it…” [Book 31, Chapter 41] “Salary” derives from “salarium,” which meant at the time “salt money” (see footnote 13).

Ed Morrissey on February 10, 2014 at 7:48 AM

Wonderful reflection again. Thanks you so much. And very interesting comments here as well.

God bless all of you here who are searching and all who have found what you seek and I pray that we all come to His Holy truth and are given the grace to hold on to that.

Elisa on February 10, 2014 at 9:11 AM

God chose the simpleton, Peter, to base the church. Saul was 10 times his intellectual superior, and Thomas was closest spiritually. Yet Peter was chosen because mankind has to take baby steps.

John the Libertarian on February 9, 2014 at 12:20 PM

No. The church is based on Jesus Christ. Peter just preached the first message. Read in Acts 2.

ConservativePartyNow on February 9, 2014 at 10:46 PM

When John the Libertarian said “based,” he meant Christ’s physical Church’s leadership. Christ assembled 12 men to lead His physical Church and selected one man, St. Peter, to be His chief steward while Christ (the King) was physically away from His earthly Kingdom for a while before His final return. Like all the Old Testament Davidic Kings had chief stewards.

We all believe that Christ is the head of the Church, the base of the Church and “the cornerstone that the builders rejected.” We are all in agreement with that.

Maybe this explains the point better than I can.

Before G.K. Chesterton converted to Catholicism, he wrote this:

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man. Peter. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”

Elisa on February 10, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Elisa on February 10, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Not to get into a long drawn out theological discussion, the rock that Jesus was speaking of was Himself and the statement on the previous verses that He was the Christ. The rock was not Peter. He made mistakes even after he received the Holy Ghost. Peter means a little stone.

And if you are speaking physical church leadership, James was the first pastor of Jerusalem (the HQ), not Peter.

Anyway, good discussion.

ConservativePartyNow on February 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM

It is important to read Matthew 5:1-12 along with these verses. The Beatitudes are HOW we are to be salt to the earth. No shouting…no screaming…just living as Jesus tells us. We should show what Jesus really means to us by how we live our lives…and we all do for better or worse.

Micah68 on February 10, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Not to get into a long drawn out theological discussion, the rock that Jesus was speaking of was Himself and the statement on the previous verses that He was the Christ.

ConservativePartyNow on February 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Yes, it’s hard to get into deep discussions here.

I understand that some choose to interpret Matthew’s Gospel as you did, but if you really examine the passage there is little doubt. I will try to keep as short as possible and to only a few points.

Matthew 16:16-19

Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

First of all Jesus is only speaking to Peter at the time.

“you are Rock (Kepha/Petros), and upon this rock (kepha/petra) I will build my church.”

Christ spoke in Aramaic and the word would be “kepha” for both Peter and the rock. The original Greek even uses Aramaic in that passage for “son of Jonah.”

No need to change it to masculine then. But the Gospel of Matthew was writing in Greek. The word for rock in Greek (petra) is always feminine. The fact that Matthew made the first use in the sentence masculine (Petros) shows that Matthew was saying that Peter himself was the rock. He didn’t want to use a feminine word as a name for Simon Peter

From then on Simon’s name changes. He is called Rock (Cepha/Kepha) from then on. In Jewish tradition a name change meant a change in status and was significant. Kepha was a new name. No one was called Kepha before this.

John 1:42
“Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Kephas” (which is translated Peter).”

Petros and petra at the time of the New Testament writers meant the same thing – rock. If they wanted to say “stone”, the Greek word for that at the time was “lithos.” In all Greek religious and secular and Biblical writings from the 1st century “lithos” is used for stone. Only once is petros used back then (by Josephus) to describe a stone that an old woman threw and killed a man. Even that was a powerful stone. lol

Jesus notes that God selected Peter because “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” It was God’s decision to single out Peter.

Then Jesus said, “I will give YOU the keys to the kingdom of heaven”

The name change, the statement that there was a revelation from God the Father and the giving of the keys is all reminiscent of Old Testament passages related to the King’s chief steward, who is given the “royal authority” when the King temporarily leaves the Kingdom. He is still King, like Jesus is still the King and head of the Church.

From the New Testament, we see Jesus is the Davidic King forever.

Luke 1:30-33
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the LORD GOD WILL GIVE HIM THE THRONE OF DAVID HIS FATHER AND HE WILL RULE OVER THE HOUSE OF JACOB FOREVER, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Revelation 3:6-7
“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia, write this: ” ‘The holy one, the true, who HOLDS THE KEY OF DAVID, WHO OPENS AND NO ONE SHALL CLOSE, WHO CLOSES AND NO ONE SHALL OPEN, says this: . . . “

Grammatically the sentence doesn’t follow that the Rock is Peter’s statement.

“Jesus said to HIM in reply, “Blessed are YOU, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to YOU, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to YOU, YOU are Peter, and upon THIS ROCK I will build my church.” There are two whole sentences between Peter’s declaration of faith and Jesus saying “upon THIS ROCK.”

You really can’t conclude that “this rock” can only be Peter’s statement and cannot possibly be Peter himself. Jesus says YOU, YOU , YOU, YOU to Peter. Wouldn’t the THIS ROCK refer to the YOU, especially when the name he gave Simon was also rock. Why call Simon a rock at all? Why change his name at all?

Both referents were not in the same sentence. Peter’s declaration was in a sentence preceding the sentence with “and on THIS rock.” The sentence with the “kai” reads “You are Peter, AND upon THIS rock . . . “ It is the closest, two words away, right before THIS.

The sentence read, “YOU are Petros, AND (kai) on THIS (tautee) petra I will build my Church.”

The Greek words used for “this rock” are “tautee petra.” Tautee really translates as “this same rock” or “this very rock.

Elisa on February 10, 2014 at 1:18 PM

The rock was not Peter. He made mistakes even after he received the Holy Ghost. Peter means a little stone.

And if you are speaking physical church leadership, James was the first pastor of Jerusalem (the HQ), not Peter.

Anyway, good discussion.

ConservativePartyNow on February 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM

James was the first Bishop of the Church in Jerusalem, but that did not make him the leader of the universal Church. All the large cities had individual Bishops. Peter was also a Bishop, but he was also the leader of the universal Church.

In Acts 15 we see James executing the decision related to circumcision for the Jews and Gentiles in Jerusalem after the first Church Council, held in Jerusalem.

After discussion from all present, it is Peter who formally makes the faith declaration decision on circumcision and there is no more debate and disagreement after that. Just affirmation. Then James says to issue the letter with the decision of the council. Because that is the job of a Bishop in his own area. How to implement the Church’s faith belief decisions.

Yes, Peter makes several mistakes after Jesus gives him the authority to lead the Church on earth. Peter is a fallible man. All Popes are fallible men who make mistakes in life.

But Peter never once makes a mistake on a teaching of faith. Even when he doesn’t eat with the uncircumcised once not to upset the Jews and Paul reprimands him, Peter never makes a faith statement to the contrary. He is making a personal mistake socially.

As we see in Acts 15, Peter is correct on that point, the matter of faith, that one does not need to be circumcised for salvation.

And that’s the only area where Peter has to be free of error. Matters of faith. And he was.

Elisa on February 10, 2014 at 1:22 PM

God chose the simpleton, Peter, to base the church. Saul was 10 times his intellectual superior, and Thomas was closest spiritually. Yet Peter was chosen because mankind has to take baby steps.

John the Libertarian on February 9, 2014 at 12:20 PM

You’re the expert on these matters, all hail to you!

How many Christians did Peter persecute compared to P(S)aul? How can/do you know that Thomas was closer to God spiritually than Peter? Your opinions aren’t facts, and until you can prove that your inerrant, keep that in mind…

Anti-Control on February 10, 2014 at 1:33 PM

That the Gospels occasionally combine different OT passages into a new and, therefore, fictitious whole, is well known to all theologians.

DarkCurrent on February 10, 2014 at 3:22 PM

That explanation comes from the Roman historian Pliny in his Natural History: “[I]n Rome. . .the soldier’s pay was originally salt and the word salary derives from it…” [Book 31, Chapter 41] “Salary” derives from “salarium,” which meant at the time “salt money” (see footnote 13).

Not so fast.

Pliny’s dates are pinned to the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 and a statement of his nephew that he died in his 56th year, which would make his birth in AD 23.

There was still a lot of Roman Empire left to go after 79CE.

We may know that salt was a highly valued trade item for millennia. We know a lot less about salt as payment for Rome’s legions.

Perhaps the Roman legions were paid in salt as Pliny related to exactly the same extent as they encountered the Dogheads (Cynocephali) or the Sciapodae (whose single foot could shade them from the sun) or the Astomi (who had no mouths but lived off scents). Pliny wrote about them in exactly the way he wrote about paying soldiers in salt. So do you believe in the Dogheads just because Pliny said so?

The ancient encyclopedists were quite unreliable on many topics and seemed confident their lies and myths would not be found out. Quite often, they were just repeating someone else’s hokum, like that of Herodotus. You still seem to believe that Roman soldiers were paid entirely in salt, a ridiculous notion. Because some dude named Pliny wrote an encyclopedia with some factual and verifiable info and a lot of demonstrably spurious info.

Toocon on February 10, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Have to disagree with the point of Peter being the head of the church, and by the extension we find in Catholicism, the first “pope”

The Bible is clear in that there is no mediator between God and man except the man, Christ Jesus. The whole concept of clergy and laity runs counter to the concept of having a personal relationship with Jesus. Further, the idea that there needs to be a Pope to be “God’s man” on earth invalidates the entire message of salvation in the Bible. In other words, to say that a Pope and the rest of the clergy is necessary robs Christ of the glory that is due to Him in securing our salvation. These are man made institutions that have no scriptural foundation or basis in the Bible.

We find the roles of Elders (also translated Bishops) and Deacons laid out in the Bible, but nothing along the lines of some central authority, let alone a single human “head” of the universal church. The head of the church is, and always will be, Christ. Men are not made subject to other men, but rather they are made subject to God through the work of Christ the Son. Outside of the initial nod we see to a “council” – which were essentially made up of the disciples and initial apostles – in Acts, no where else do you find mention of it. In fact, after the dispersion of the Jewish believers from Jerusalem, no such council was ever convened.

Just look at the missionary journeys of Paul. He planted churches everywhere, yet no where do we find in any of his epistles anything about a central authority. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, made it abundantly clear that the only way to have a relationship with God was to accept the work of His Son and fully concede that you are a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. Not of a clergyman, not of a bishop, and certainly not of a pope!

The church today has languished under the fact that the truths of the Word of God have not been taught. Rather, they’ve been replaced by a man-made set of customs that have the audacity to be placed above the unequivocal authority of the Word of God. We sorely need proper teaching today. We need to have a hunger, the like Bereans of Paul’s day, to search the scriptures to know the truth of God’s Word.

ImmigrantConservative on February 10, 2014 at 5:09 PM

I mean no jest and as a non-believer maybe best to butt out, but those were my thoughts after I read the subject being discussed.

After four days here I am sure folks want me to go away as I am a scatter-shot in my old age.

HonestLib on February 9, 2014 at 10:58 PM

I read your post and I think you believe more than you realize. God Bless You.

TarheelBen on February 10, 2014 at 7:07 PM

TarheelBen on February 10, 2014 at 7:07 PM

I agree with TarheelBen. HonesLib, give Christ a chance. You will be surprised at the wonders that await you.

Yours in Christ,
Michael

Michael Harlin on February 10, 2014 at 8:24 PM

Sunday reflections? Very good idea. But it’s gonna be difficult avoiding the obvious differences between Roman Catholic interpretations/ applications
and others. Let us hope that we can at least avoid the acrimony that sometimes accompanies discussions of those differences.

Cleombrotus on February 11, 2014 at 2:35 AM

salvation for the nations of the world lost

If that were true, Jesus would have died in vain—and it would imply that we still have to live righteously to “earn” our salvation.

I understand the theological difference between the Catholic church and the Reformed theology, where differing amount of emphasis is put on the work vs. faith, but even the Pope believes that salvation is by grace of God, that we cannot earn it ourselves—if we couldn’t earn it in the first place, how can it be lost by anything we do? “Out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.”

There is really only one light for the Church to raise up for others to see: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” No keeping of the old Law can trump this new—but not really, if we truly understood the Old Testament—command from Jesus.

novakyu on February 11, 2014 at 5:06 AM

Ed this is my first posting here at hot air and it is basically to thank you for these Sundy Reflection postings.
Please continue. Some of the discusions go over the same issues that have divided the church for centuries. They are very intresting, but I am not always sure that understanding some of these nuances get me any closer to God. Anyway, keep posting. And Thank you

Libre1234 on February 11, 2014 at 1:28 PM