Theology of Prayer: Scriptural Support (Part 23: Catholic Epistles)

Looking for a biblical theology of prayer? You’ve found the right series! I’m going through Genesis to Revelation to see what the Bible says about prayer. Up until now, I’ve covered Genesis through Paul. Now, it’s on to the General or Catholic Epistles—Hebrews through Jude. Article after the jump.

Looking for resources on prayer or on the Catholic Epistles? Here are some options! Purchasing through the links below helps to support this blog.

(I included Hebrews here. That could be debated. Some link it to Paul. Others do not.)

Hebrews 5 shows that Jesus prayed—offering prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears—making requests to be saved from death.

In Hebrews 13, the audience is exhorted to pray for the author(s).

James 5 says that those who suffer should pray. It doesn’t say what to ask. But then it says to pray over the elders of the church, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. It also says that the prayer of faith will save the sick, exhorting everyone to pray for each other so that they may be healed. It culminates, “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (v. 16), and it uses Elijah as an example, who being a human who prayed ferbently was able to stop the rain for 3.5 years; and when he prayed again to release the rain, it worked.

In 1 Peter 3, Peter exhorts the husbands to be considerate towards their wives, paying honor to them so that their prayers are not hindered. He says that the Lord’s ears are open to the prayers of the righteous.

In 1 Peter 4, Peter says to take serious the discipline of their prayers because the end of all things was near.

In 1 John 5, the readers are exhorted not to pray for mortal sin. But, instead, pray for non-mortal sins on behalf of others. It’s an asking and interceding.

In 3 John, John prays that all may go well with his recipients, that they would be in good health.

In Jude, the recipients are commanded to pray in the Holy Spirit.

There is not a lot here in the Catholic Epistles about prayer. We see it as a request. It’s often asking God for things. Asking for help in suffering. Asking for health. Asking for forgiveness on others’ behalf. Sometimes it is done for leadership with the laying on of hands and with anointing with oil. And prayer is done in the Spirit.

Advertisements

Translation Tuesday: Revelation 3:14-22 (Laodicea)

The stream working through the translation, and the translation itself, are available below after the jump.

Below are some resources that could help you read, mark, and learn Revelation in Greek. Purchasing them through the links below help to support this blog.

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea, write:

“This is what The Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God—says:

‘I know your works that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot.

‘Thus because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out from my mouth.

‘Because you say, “I am rich and I have become rich and I have no need”, and you do not know that you are miserable, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked, I am advising you to buy from me refined gold from fire in order that you might be rich, white garments in order that you might be clothed and the shame of your nakedness might not be revealed, and eyesalve to anoint your eyes in order that you might see.

‘I punish and discipline all whom I love; therefore, be zealous and repent.

‘Behold! I have been standing at the door and I am knocking; if anyone might hear my voice and opens the door, then I will enter to him and I will eat with him and he with me.

‘The one who overcomes I will give to him a place with me on my throne as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.’

“The one who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.

Translation Tuesday: Revelation 3:7-13 – Philadelphia

The video and translation are after the jump. Below are some resources that could help you read, mark, and learn Revelation in Greek. Purchasing them through the links below help to support this blog.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

“This is what the holy one, the true one, the one who holds the key of David, the one who opens and no one will shut, and the one who shuts and no one opens, says:

‘I know your works, behold, I have set before you an open door which no one is able to shut, that you have insignificant power but you kept my word and did not deny my name. Behold, I am causing the ones from the synagogue of Satan who call themselves to be Jews but they are not, rather they are lying, behold I will make them to be present and bow down before your feet and know that I loved you.

‘Because you kept my word of endurance, I too will keep you from the hour of trial that is about to come upon the whole world to test the inhabitants on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold what you have in order that no one takes your crown.

‘The one who is victorious, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God and he will certainly not go outside again and I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down from the heavens from my God, and my new name.

‘The one who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”

Translation Tuesday: Revelation 3:1-6 (Sardis)

fullsizeoutput_3801

Video and translation below the jump.

If you need resources for translating or interpreting Revelation, please consider purchasing some of the ones listed below through the affiliate links to help support this blog.

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write:

“This is what the one who has the seven spirits of God and seven stars says,

‘I know your works that you have a name, “Life”, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen the rest which is about to die for I have not found your works finished before my God.

‘Therefore, remember how you have received and you heard and pay attention to it and repent. Therefore, if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will certainly not know what hour I will come to you.

‘But you have a few names in Sardis that did not stain their garments and they will walk with me in white for they are worthy.

‘The one who is victorious thusly will be clothes in white garments and his name will never be wiped out from the Book of Life, and I will claim his name publicly before my Father and before his angels.’

The one who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Translation Tuesday: Revelation 2:18-29 (Thyatira)

Here is a translation of Revelation 2:18-29, the letter to the church in Thyatira. Video and translation after the jump.

Below are some resources that could help you read, mark, and learn Revelation in Greek. Purchasing them through the links below help to support this blog.

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira, write:

“This is what the Son of God, the one who has his eyes like a flame of fire and his feet like fine bronze, says:

‘I know your deeds, namely your love, faith, service, and endurance, and I know your deeds the last of which are greater than the first.

But I have against you that you tolerate the woman, Jezebel, the one who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and is deceiving my slaves to fornicate and to eat idol meat. And I gave her time in order to repent but she did not want to repent from her fornication. Behold I am throwing her on a bed and those who are committing adultery with her on great affliction, if they do not repent from their works, and I will kill her children in death. And all the churches will know that I AM the one who searches kidneys and hearts and I will give each of you according to your works.

But I say to the rest of you in Thyatira all who do not hold this teaching, all who do not know “the depths of Satan” as they say, I do not throw another burden on you except that you hold fast to what you have until whenever I might come. And the one who overcomes and guards my works until the end I will give to him authority over the nations and I will shepherd them with an iron staff as when clay pots are shattered even as I also received from my Father, then I will also give to him the morning star.’

The one who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Translating The Letters in Revelation: Pergamum (2:12-17)

Below are some resources that could help you read, mark, and learn Revelation in Greek. Purchasing them through the links below help to support this blog.

And to the angel of the church in Pergamum, write:

“This is what the one who has the sharp two-edged sword says,

‘I know where you dwell where the throne of Satan is and you hold my name and do not deny my faith and, in the days of Antipas my faithful witness who was killed beside you, where Satan dwells.

‘But I have a few things against you that you have there some who are holding fast to the teaching of Balaam who was teaching Balak to throw scandal before the sons of Israel to eat idol meat and to engage in fornication.

‘Thus, likewise, you have and you are holding fast to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

‘Therefore, repent! Otherwise, I am coming to you quickly and I will wage war with them with my double-edged sword.’

The one who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious I will give to him some of the hidden manna and I will give to him a white stone, and on that stone a new name will be written that no one will know except the one who receives it.”

 

Knowledge and the Petrine “Building Blocks of Faith”

Looking for commentaries on 2 Peter? Look no further! Purchasing through the links below help to support this blog. Article below the jump.

The new school year has begun. It marks a time to gain and foster knowledge and learning. What I am reminded of is that Christians are encouraged to grow in knowledge. Consider 2 Peter 1, for example.

May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is nearsighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you. (vv 2-11 NRSV, emphasis added)

The recurring use of “knowledge” in most instances is “epignōsis“, a knowledge of transcendent or moral matters and in this case a reference to knowledge of God or Jesus. In the Petrine building blocks of faith, the word is “gnōsis“, the broader term for “knowledge” in its variety.

Through knowledge of God and Jesus comes power for life and moral excellence. It is by this power that one can live a socially meritorious life. It empowers character of the highest order. Because of that power and ability, it is incumbent upon Christians to grow in their faith, taking particular building blocks to be fruitful and effective in that knowledge of Jesus. These blocks are:

  • Goodness (“aretē“): morally, socially excellent character
  • Knowledge (“gnōsis”): variety of knowledge
  • Self-Control (“enkrateia“): restraint of impulses, emotions, or desires, especially in matters of sex (i.e., chastity)
  • Endurance (“hypomonē“): patience; perseverance; steadfastness; the ability to hold up in the face of difficulty
  • Godliness (“eusebia“): fear of God; loyalty; piety.
  • Mutual affection (“philadelphia“): brotherly or sisterly love; affection
  • Love (“agapē“): warm regard for; high esteem for.

Each one builds on the other:

  1. Goodness comes as a result of faith
  2. Knowledge comes as a result of goodness
  3. Self-control comes as a result of knowledge
  4. Endurance comes as a result of self-control
  5. Godliness comes as a result of endurance
  6. Mutual affection comes as a result of godliness
  7. Love comes as a result of mutual affection.

Note verse 8: “For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, . . .” These building blocks of faith must be there, but that alone is not enough as they must also be increasing, that is, growing. Christians are expected to grow in goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love, and, in so doing, collectively all of those faith-growing building blocks will help them be effective and fruitful in the knowledge of Jesus because they remind them of their spiritual cleansing from their sins, which helps them to confirm their calling as Christians and, as a result, never stumble. Wow, that’s a lot to take in there! Let’s break it down further:

  • Ineffective (“argos“): unproductive
  • Unfruitful (“akarpos“): useless (used of people who do no good deeds)
  • Stumble (“ptaiō“): trip, be ruined.

Power through knowledge yields good works. Faith and works. It’s reminiscent of James 1:26 where it says that faith without works is dead. Christians aren’t to be dead! They are to be growing! Which means that Christians are to be productive with their works! By doing good deeds and adding to their knowledge and faith, they can avoid tripping up and being ruined. Realize the strength in this saying: “for if you do this, you will never stumble” (ou mē ptaisēte pote). It is classic ou + + subjunctive construction in Greek. Add in a solid “ever” to further reinforce the gravity of the situation, and you’ve got an extremely limiting, “you will never be ruined”

So, knowledge is a critical component for Christians. We don’t simply check our brains at the door! We must learn and grow, not just about God and Jesus but about all things. We need to grow in our knowledge of good deeds as well so that we can know as well as do, including, but not limited to, showing self-restraint, being patient, being loyal to God, having affection for fellow Christians, and holding others in high esteem.

In fact, this list is not all that unfamiliar. Consider Paul’s fruit of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). Notice the overlap between the Pauline fruit of the spirit and the Petrine building blocks of faith. First, there is the obvious, both  love and self-control. We could add patience as well, hypomonē in 2 Peter 1 but makrothymia in Galatians. The former is the ability to bear up under difficulty while the latter is the ability to bear up against provocation, a more nuanced subset of the former. We might even add faithfulness, one in the sense of being faithful, pistis, while the other being loyal to God, eusebia, similar in semantic range but not the same word or focus. In either case, knowledge of God and the presence of the Spirit within both encourage, lead, and demand the Christian to live out good works. Sole fide? No, faith and knowledge yield works—a way of living that is socially, morally excellent.

Translating Revelation’s Letters: Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11)

Looking for commentaries on the famous Apocalypse—the book of Revelation? Look no further! Purchasing through the links below helps to support this blog. Video and translation below the jump.

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna, write:

This is what the first and the last says, who became dead but lived: “I know your troubles and poverty, but you are rich, and the abusive speech coming from the ones who call themselves to be Jews but they are not, but they are a synagogue of Satan. In no way fear what you are about to undergo. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison in order that you might be tempted and you will have trouble for 10 days. Be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life.”

The one who has ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. May the one who overcomes never be harmed by the second death.

Translating Revelation’s Letters: Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7)

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: this is what the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the 7 golden lampstands says:

“I know your works and toil
and your patience
and that you are not able to bear evildoers
and you put the ones calling themselves apostles to the test
and they are not
and you found them to be liars,
and you have endurance
and you are bearing because of my name
and not becoming tired.

But I have against you that you have abandoned your first love.

Therefore, remember where you have fallen from
and repent and do the works you first did;
but if not, I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand from its place,
unless you repent.

But you have this, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Let the one who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

To the one who is victorious I will give to him to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Below are some resources that could help you read, mark, and learn Revelation in Greek. Purchasing them through the links below help to support this blog.

I streamed this translation in 3 parts due to technical difficulties.