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15 Responses

  1. Em says:

    Some great, thought provoking links – no comments?

    Staunch Christians – almost, but not quite legalists – my grandparents would have and did condemn racism of any sort – including the Japanese Americans they knew during WW2 – not a popular stand in the 1940s

  2. Linn says:

    Harold Camping-when Family Radio was big in the San Francisco Bay Area there was only one other Christian station, and it was all preachers. KEAR was the go-to for music, religious programming (some of it very good), but only the most dedicated made it through Open Forum and Camping’s harangues. You get that live by watching Gene Scott on his TV station (and he had pretty girls, too). Just the musings of a once high school kid who listened to KEAR because that was the Christian thing to do (and I spent my allowance on books instead of cassette tapes).

    When Camping started predicting the end of the world and that people really believed him, I was incredulous. No matter what your return of Christ stance, Scripture does say the Father is the only one who knows the actual moment. Meanwhile, if my understanding of the Bible is correct, it’s our job to worship, witness, and stay meaningfully ready-which I take to mean as loving and caring for others.

  3. Em says:

    Linn @ 1:02
    Amen… But we must watch, not knowing the day OR the hour

    Does anyone have any insight on the wise and foolish virgins? I take it the oil in the lamps is the Spirit…..

  4. Linn says:


    We watch and we are ready, but not obsessed. I think it’s like getting ready for the arrival of a baby. You prep, you wait, you prep some more…but until the baby comes mom is still carrying on with everyday life. But, shes’s ready-bag packed, nursery prepared, full tank of gas, and then the happy day comes.

  5. Michael says:

    Even more obviously than the previous one, this story is rooted in the Jewish tradition of contrasting wisdom and folly—being sensible or being silly. The writer of Proverbs treats Wisdom and Folly as two women, and describes them calling out to men going by, and offering them their respective lifestyles.

    Now, in this story, Lady Wisdom and Mistress Folly have each become five young girls, and the story invites its hearers to decide which they’d rather be. Obviously, wisdom in this case means being ready with the oil for the lamp, and folly means not thinking about it until it’s too late.

    It’s probably wrong to try to guess what the oil in the story ‘stands for’ (some have suggested that it means good works; others faith, or love, or almost any of the Christian virtues). It isn’t that kind of story. Within the world of the story itself, it simply means being ready for the key moment. You can’t squash all these parables together and make the details fit with each other; all the girls in this parable, including the ‘wise’ ones, go to sleep in verse 5, whereas in verse 13 Jesus tells his followers to stay awake. Again, that kind of detailed question misses the point. What matters is being ready; being prepared; being wise; thinking ahead, realizing that a crisis is coming sooner or later and that if you don’t make preparations now, and keep them in good shape in the meantime, you’ll wish you had.

    There is one other aspect to this particular story which has roots deep in the Jewish context and has given rise to a tradition of hymn-writing about the coming of the bridegroom. Already in Matthew’s gospel Jesus has referred to himself as the bridegroom (9:15). In a previous parable Jesus spoke of the kingdom as being like a king making a marriage feast for his son (22:2). Mention of a bridegroom hints again at Jesus’ messiahship, which was of course a central issue in the previous chapters, ever since Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.

    This highlights the fact that the parable isn’t just about the very end of time, the great and terrible day for which the world and the church still wait. Throughout his ministry, Jesus was coming as Messiah to his people, Israel. They were the ones invited to the wedding feast. They, in this story, are divided between the wise, who know Jesus and make sure they keep alert for his ‘coming’, and the foolish, to whom at the end Jesus will say ‘I don’t know you’ (verse 12, echoing 7:23). Just as the Sermon on the Mount summarizes, not Jesus’ teaching to the subsequent church, but Jesus’ challenge to the Israel of his own day, so these parables, towards the close of the final great discourse in Matthew’s gospel, should probably be read in the same way, at least in their most basic meaning.

    It is tempting to move away from this conclusion, because saying that parts of Jesus’ teaching related particularly to a unique situation in his own time might make it look as though they are irrelevant for every other time. But that’s not so. It is because what Jesus did was unique and decisive, changing for ever the way the world is and how God relates to it, that we have entered a new era in which his sovereign rule is to be brought to bear on the world. And in this new era, no less than in the unique time of Jesus and his first followers, we need as much as ever the warning that it’s easy to go slack on the job, to stop paying attention to God’s work and its demands, to be unprepared when the moment suddenly arrives.

    Wright, T. (2004). Matthew for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 16-28 (pp. 133–135). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

  6. Em says:

    Good teaching, Michael….. I must remind myself that, while there is value for all in the four gospels (Mtt.Mark, Luke, John), weren’t they written primarily by and for the Jew?

  7. Jean says:

    Here is the command at the end of Matthew:

    “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    Note 1) the apostles were commissioned to make disciples of Jesus Christian of ALL nations, 2) baptizing and teaching them to observe ALL that Jesus commanded of the disciples.

    So Matthew, according to the words of Jesus, was written by the Holy Spirit through the hand of a Jew for all nations. Everything in Matthew is for all nations.

  8. DH says:

    I suggest the 10 virgins are believing Israel and nonbelieving Israel (who survived the Tribulation) at the 2nd Advent. The wise virgins or believing Israel enter the Millennial Kingdom and the foolish or nonbelieving Israel do not.

    Zech 13:8,9

    And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.

    And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.

    Ezek 20:34-38

    And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.

    And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.
    Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God.

    And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:

    And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

  9. Jean says:

    There is no longer any such thing as “unbelieving Israel.” Paul even says,

    “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved”.

    The Gentiles will come in to the Israel of God, because since the first advent of Christ, Israel is now the the congregation of the saints who are both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus. This Church is the Israel of God.

  10. Em says:

    Jean, can you define the term “Israel?” Are ALL Jews Israel?

  11. DH says:

    The root of the olive tree is the covenant God made with Abraham the fatness is the blessings that come from the root. The branches are the beneficiaries of the root or covenant and blessings. Branches or Israel have been broken off from the covenant and blessings because of unbelief. The Gentiles have been grafted into the covenant and blessings by faith.

    The church isn’t Israel but has received the promises and blessings given to Abraham. The promises to Israel remain.

    Speaking to the gentiles as a group not individually but as a people Paul said,

    Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

    Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

    For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

    Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

    And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

    For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

    For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

    And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

    For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

    The Gentiles were never Israel and didn’t become Israel or Jacob.

  12. CM says:


    I see you are stating the standard dispy talking points and theological grid. But that is fine.

  13. DH says:

    Do you have a different understanding of the olive tree?

  14. Em says:

    While i do see the Church as the body, i still think that God sees each individual’s circumstances – heart and mind. Thus, not every single human claiming Jewish roots will enter the Kingdom…. God, however, only God knows

  15. Michael says:

    Four things emerge very clearly from this. First, Paul is not backing down on what he has said in chapters 9 and 10. Those Jews who have not believed the gospel really are ‘cut out of the tree’. That is why he has been so heartbroken over them (9:1–5), and so eager in prayer and hope to see them come back (10:1). But the way to come back has already been outlined in 10:5–13, and there is no other. That is why he says here, in verse 23, that they can be grafted back ‘if they do not remain in unbelief’. He is not for a moment suggesting, as many of his modern readers have wished he might, that the broken branches could be offered a way back which did not involve believing in Jesus as Messiah and Lord.\

    Second, Paul really does see the people of God as a single family, the children of Abraham now redefined around Jesus the Messiah and marked out by faith in him. This has been clear from at least chapter 4 onwards. The ‘church’ (though Paul doesn’t use this word here) remains an essentially Jewish family into which non-Jews have been welcomed.

    Third, Paul is insisting that just for this reason it makes good sense, and good theology, to believe that God can and will bring more Jews into this renewed family, which is after all their own true people. Insofar as it makes any sense to talk of things being easy or hard for God, Paul seems to be indicating in verse 24 that it’s much easier for God to graft Jews back into the tree to which they belonged in the first place than to graft Gentiles in from the outside. God has done and is doing the harder thing, and the Gentile Christians in Rome are living proof of it. How much easier will it be for God to bring Jews back in as well.

    Fourth—and this seems to be the real thrust of this passage—Paul is issuing a serious warning to the Gentile Christians. They must not suppose for a moment that they have ‘replaced’ Jews in God’s plan, that the church is now a ‘Gentiles-only’ family, or (worse) that God has chosen them precisely because they are Gentiles. That would be to make the same mistake in reverse as the Jews had made earlier, namely, to imagine that God’s grace was tied to a particular ethnic group. And if they make that mistake—relying on ethnic identity as the badge of membership in God’s people, instead of faith alone—they can expect God to react the same way he had done with unbelieving Israel. There are no promises of salvation for those who think it’s their birthright.

    Wright, T. (2004). Paul for Everyone: Romans, Part 2: Chapters 9-16 (pp. 54–56). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

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