|The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
1) The Effeminate Male - By Clement of Alexandria
2) Proceed with Caution - Reviling
3) Special Days, Months, Times & Years
|The Effeminate Male|
By Clement of Alexandria
While researching Lev 19:29, I encountered a very interesting teaching by Clement of Alexandria. [A.D. 153-193-217.] Clement is the only one mentioned in the 37 volume set, The Nicene Fathers to address Lev 19:29. Clement wrote to those rescued from paganism for the Christian faith. Among his several books are three called "The Instructor." In the first, he established the fact that the Word of God is the Instructor; in the second and third, he lays down rules for the regulation of the Christians, in all the relations, circumstances, and actions of life, entering most minutely into the details of dress, eating, drinking, bathing, sleeping, etc. In these two books, he instructs pagan converts in the principles of the Gospel, in the midst of the all but incredible licentiousness and luxury by which society around was incurably tainted. [Fathers, II.167.]
Clement's date was before Christianity became approved by Rome- AD 312. Therefore, the instructions in the principles of the Gospel found in Clement's writings had a great influence in overthrowing pagan Rome as the converted pagans placed into practice the principles of the Gospel outlined by Clement, in the midst of the all but incredible incentiousness and luxury by which society around was tainted. Obviously, the social climate in which Clement wrote was quite similar to our modern social climate.
The following is from Clement's second book of "The Instructor." The reader will probably be as surprised at what Clement said to the Christian converts from Roman paganism as was this pastor. The section is lengthy, but we reproduced it all for obvious reasons. The Fathers' footnotes are bracketed, [text], and this editor's comments are noted, (#), and placed at the end:
CHAP. III.--AGAINST MEN WHO EMBELLISH THEMSELVES.
To such an extent, then, has luxury advanced, that not only are the female sex deranged about this frivolous pursuit, but men also are infected with the disease.[1 Heathen manners are here depicted as a warning to Christians. We cannot suppose Christians, as yet, to any extent, corrupted in their manners by fashion and frivolity; for to be a Christian excluded one from temptations of this kind.] For not being free of the love of finery, they are not in health; but inclining to voluptuousness, they become effeminate, cutting their hair in an ungentleman like and meretricious way, clothed in fine and transparent garments, chewing mastich,[2 Query, de re Nicotiana?] smelling of perfume.[3 Smelling of Nicotine?] What can one say on seeing them? Like one who judges people by their foreheads, he will divine them to be adulterers and effeminate, addicted to both kinds of venery, haters of hair, destitute of hair, detesting the bloom of manliness, and adorning their locks like women.(1) "Living for unholy acts of audacity, these fickle wretches do reckless and nefarious deeds," says the Sibyl. For their service the towns are full of those who take out hair by pitch-plasters, shave, and pluck out hairs from these womanish creatures. And shops are erected and opened everywhere; and adepts at this meretricious fornication make a deal of money openly by those who plaster themselves, and give their hair to be pulled out in all ways by those who make it their trade, feeling no shame before the onlookers or those who approach, nor before themselves, being men. Such are those addicted to base passions, whose whole body is made smooth by the violent tuggings of pitch-plasters. It is utterly impossible to get beyond such effrontery. If nothing is left undone by them, neither shall anything be left unspoken by me. Diogenes, when he was being sold, chiding like a teacher one of these degenerate creatures, said very manfully, "Come, youngster, buy for yourself a man," chastising his meretriciousness by an ambiguous speech. But for those who are men to shave and smooth themselves, how ignoble! As for dyeing of hair, and anointing of grey locks, and dyeing them yellow, these are practices of abandoned effeminates; and their feminine combing of themselves is a thing to be let alone. For they think, that like serpents they divest themselves of the old age of their head by painting and renovating themselves. But though they do doctor the hair cleverly, they will not escape wrinkles, nor will they elude death by tricking time. For it is not dreadful, it is not dreadful to appear old, when you are not able to shut your eyes to the fact that you are so.(2)
The more, then, a man hastes to the end, the more truly venerable is he, having God alone as his senior, since He is the eternal aged One, He who is older than all things. Prophecy has called him the "Ancient of days; and the hair of His head was as pure wool," says the prophet.[4 Dan. vii. 9. (a truly eloquent passage.)](3) "And none other," says the Lord, "can make the hair white or black." [5 Matt. v. 36.] How, then, do these godless ones work in rivalry with God, or rather violently oppose Him, when they transmute the hair made white by Him? "The crown of old men is great experience," [6 Ecclus. xxv. 6.] says Scripture; and the hoary hair of their countenance is the blossom of large experience. But these dishonour the reverence of age, the head covered with grey hairs. It is not, it is not possible for him to show the head true who has a fraudulent head. "But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man (not the hoary man, but him that is) corrupt according to deceitful lusts; and be renewed (not by dyeings and ornaments), but in the spirit of your mind; and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." [7 Eph. iv. 20-24.](4)
But for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, to arrange his hair at the looking-glass, to shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them, how womanly! And, in truth, unless you saw them naked, you would suppose them to be women. For although not allowed to wear gold, yet out of effeminate desire they enwreath their latches and fringes with leaves of gold; or, getting certain spherical figures of the same metal made, they fasten them to their ankles, and hang them from their necks.(5) This is a device of enervated men, who are dragged to the women's apartments, amphibious and lecherous beasts. For this is a meretricious and impious form of snare. For God wished women to be smooth, and rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane; but has adorned man, like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him, as an attribute of manhood, with shaggy breasts,--a sign this of strength and rule. So also cocks, which fight in defence of the hens, he has decked with combs, as it were helmets; and so high a value does God set on these locks, that He orders them to make their appearance on men simultaneously with discretion, and delighted with a venerable look, has honoured gravity of countenance with grey hairs. But wisdom, and discriminating judgments that are hoary with wisdom, attain maturity with time, and by the vigour of long experience give strength to old age, producing grey hairs, the admirable flower of venerable wisdom, conciliating confidence. This, then, the mark of the man, the beard, by which he is seen to be a man, is older than Eve, and is the token of the superior nature.(6) In this God deemed it right that he should excel, and dispersed hair over man's whole body. Whatever smoothness and softness was in him He abstracted from his side when He formed the woman Eve, physically receptive, his partner in parentage, his help in household management, while he (for he had parted with all smoothness) remained a man, andshows himself man. And to him has been assigned action, as to her suffering; for what is shaggy is drier and warmer than what is smooth. Wherefore males have both more hair and more heat than females, animals that are entire than the emasculated, perfect than imperfect. It is therefore impious to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.[1 On the other hand, this was Esau's symbol; and the sensual satyrs (Isa. xiii. 2) are hairy goats, in the original. So also the originals of "devils" in Lev. xvii. 7, and 2 Chron. xi. 15. See the learned note of Mr. West, in his edition of Leighton, vol. v. p. 161.] But the embellishment of smoothing (for I am warned by the Word), if it is to attract men, is the act of an effeminate person,--if to attract women, is the act of an adulterer; and both must be driven as far as possible from our society.(7) "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered," says the Lord;[2 Matt. x. 30.] those on the chin, too, are numbered, and those on the whole body. There must be therefore no plucking out, contrary to God's appointment, which has counted them in according to His will. "Know ye not yourselves," says the apostle, "that Christ Jesus is in you?" [4 2 Cor. xiii. 5.] Whom, had we known as dwelling in us, I know not how we could have dared to dishonour. But the using of pitch to pluck out hair (I shrink from even mentioning the shamelessness connected with this process), and in the act of bending back and bending down, the violence done to nature's modesty by stepping out and bending backwards in shameful postures, yet the doers not ashamed of themselves, but conducting themselves without shame in the midst of the youth, and in the gymnasium, where the prowess of man is tried; the following of this unnatural practice, is it not the extreme of licentiousness? For those who engage in such practices in public will scarcely behave with modesty to any at home. Their want of shame in public attests their unbridled licentiousness in private.[5 Such were the manners with which the Gospel was forced everywhere to contend. That they were against nature is sufficiently clear from the remains of the decency in some heathern. Herodotus (book i. cap. 8) tells us that the Lydians counted it disgraceful even for a man to be seen naked.] For he who in the light of day denies his manhood, will prove himself manifestly a woman by night. "There shall not be," said the Word by Moses, "a harlot of the daughters of Israel; there shall not be a fornicator of the sons of Israel." [6 Deut. xxiii. 17.]
But the pitch does good, it is said. Nay, it defames, say I. No one who entertains right sentiments would wish to appear a fornicator, were he not the victim of that vice, and study to defame the beauty of his form. No one would, I say, voluntarily choose to do this. "For if God foreknew those who are called, according to His purpose, to be conformed to the image of His Son," for whose sake, according to the blessed apostle, He has appointed "Him to be the first- born among many brethren," [7 Rom. viii. 28, 29.] are they not godless who treat with indignity the body which is of like form with the Lord?
The man, who would be beautiful, must adorn that which is the most beautiful thing in man, his mind, which every day he ought to exhibit in greater comeliness; and should pluck out not hairs, but lusts.(8) I pity the boys possessed by the slave-dealers, that are decked for dishonour. But they are not treated with ignominy by themselves, but by command the wretches are adorned for base gain. But how disgusting are those who willingly practise the things to which, if compelled, they would, if they were men, die rather than do?
But life has reached this pitch of licentiousness through the wantonness of wickedness, and lasciviousness is diffused over the cities, having become law. Beside them women stand in the stews, offering their own flesh for hire for lewd pleasure, and boys, taught to deny their sex, act the part of women.(9)
Luxury has deranged all things; it has disgraced man. A luxurious niceness seeks everything, attempts everything, forces everything, coerces nature. Men play the part of women, and women that of men, contrary to nature; women are at once wives and husbands: no passage is closed against libidinousness; and their promiscuous lechery is a public institution, and luxury is domesticated.(10) O miserable spectacle! horrible conduct! Such are the trophies of your social licentiousness which are exhibited: the evidence of these deeds are the prostitutes. Alas for such wickedness! Besides, the wretches know not how many tragedies the uncertainty of intercourse produces. For fathers, unmindful of children of theirs that have been exposed, often without their knowledge, have intercourse with a son that has debauched himself, and daughters that are prostitutes; and licence in lust shows them to be the men that have begotten them. These things your wise laws allow: people may sin legally; and the execrable indulgence in pleasure they call a thing indifferent. They who commit adultery against nature think themselves free from adultery. Avenging justice follows their audacious deeds, and, dragging on themselves inevitable calamity, they purchase death for a small sum of money. The miserable dealers in these wares sail, bringing a cargo of fornication, like wine or oil; and others, far more wretched, traffic in pleasures as they do in bread and sauce, not heeding the words of Moses, "Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore, lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness." [1 Lev. xix. 29.](11)
Such was predicted of old, and the result is notorious: the whole earth has now become full of fornication and wickedness. I admire the ancient legislators of the Romans: these detested effeminacy of conduct; and the giving of the body to feminine purposes, contrary to the law of nature, they judged worthy of the extremest penalty, according to the righteousness of the law.(12)
For it is not lawful to pluck out the beard,[2 When the loss of the beard was a token of foppery and often of something worse, shaving would be frivolity; but here he treats of extirpation.] man's natural and noble ornament.
"A youth with his first beard: for with this, youth is most graceful." By and by he is anointed, delighting in the beard "on which descended" the prophetic, "ointment" [3 Ps. cxxxiii.2.] with which Aaron was honoured.
And it becomes him who is rightly trained, on whom peace has pitched its tent, to preserve peace also with his hair.
What, then, will not women with strong propensities to lust practise, when they look on men perpetrating such enormities? Rather we ought not to call such as these men, but lewd wretches (greek), and effeminate (greek), whose voices are feeble, and whose clothes are womanish both in feel and dye. And such creatures are manifestly shown to be what they are from their external appearance, their clothes, shoes, form, walk, cut of their hair, look. "For from his look shall a man be known," says the Scripture, "and from meeting a man the man is known: the dress of a man, the step of his foot, the laugh of his teeth, tell tales of him." [4 Ecclus. xix. 29, 30.](13)
For these, for the most part, plucking out the rest of their hair, only dress that on the head, all but binding their locks with fillets like women. Lions glory in their shaggy hair, but are armed by their hair in the fight; and boars even are made imposing by their mane; the hunters are afraid of them when they see them bristling their hair. "The fleecy sheep are loaded with their wool." [5 Hesiod, Works and Days, i. 232.] And their wool the loving Father has made abundant for thy use, O man, having taught thee to sheer their fleeces. Of the nations, the Celts and Scythians wear their hair long, but do not deck themselves. The bushy hair of the barbarian has something fearful in it; and its auburn (greek) colour threatens war, the hue being somewhat akin to blood. Both these barbarian races hate luxury. As clear witnesses will be produced by the German, the Rhine;[6 Of which they drink.] and by the Scythian, the waggon. Sometimes the Scythian despises even the waggon: its size seems sumptuousness to the barbarian; and leaving its luxurious ease, the Scythian man leads a frugal life. For a house sufficient, and less encumbered than the waggon, he takes his horse, and mounting it, is borne where he wishes. And when faint with hunger, he asks his horse for sustenance; and he offers his veins, and supplies his master with all he possesses--his blood. To the nomad the horse is at once conveyance and sustenance; and the warlike youth of the Arabians (these are other nomads) are mounted on camels. They sit on breeding camels; and these feed and run at the same time, carrying their masters the whilst, and bear the house with them. And if drink fail the barbarians, they milk them; and after that their food is spent, they do not spare even their blood, as is reported of furious wolves. And these, gentler than the barbarians, when injured, bear no remembrance of the wrong, but sweep bravely over the desert, carrying and nourishing their masters at the same time.
Perish, then, the savage beasts whose food is blood! For it is unlawful for men, whose body is nothing but flesh elaborated of blood, to touch blood. For human blood has become a partaker of the Word:[7 He took upon him our nature, flesh and blood. Heb. ii. 14-16.] it is a participant of grace by the Spirit; and if any one injure him, he will not escape unnoticed. Man may, though naked in body, address the Lord. But I approve the simplicity of the barbarians: loving an unencumbered life, the barbarians have abandoned luxury. Such the Lord calls us to be--naked of finery, naked of vanity, wrenched from our sins, bearing only the wood of life, aiming only at salvation. (Fathers, II.275-277.)
Obviously, this pastor can not agree with Clement's implication that Christian men should be in any way identified in appearance, actions and/or attitudes with the Scythian barbarians of his day. However, he must agree with a great amount of what Clement said otherwise. We cannot deny that men have been and are being demasculinized to the point where they think nothing of acting like, looking like, working like and even smelling like women, while women have been urged to take the place of men. Notice the average sitcom: The females have replaced the males in aggressively talking about and moving toward sex. The Biblical roles of male and female are under serious attack; Clement shows us that the warfare is not new. Christianity overthrew pagan Rome; therefore, there is proven victory evn in the midst of the most serrious attacks against God and His Word.
1. The smooth skin, perfumed smell, love of finery, alluring/provocative attire, feminine hair, marked these men as effeminate creatures, using Clement's word. "Foreheads...," Clement was well versed in scripture, for the Lord did and does indeed judge according to the "forehead," e.g., Ez 9:4, Re 7:3; 9:4; 13:6; 14:1; 20:4 - note neither had his image...; and 22:4. Let those insisting that everything in Scripture that can be understood literally must be understood literally take heed: Logically, they must thus say that those who appear effeminate must be judged by God as effeminate. See 1 Cor 6:9.
2. Men and women seek to cheat time (elude death)? by denying their grey hair: They desire to retain their youthful appearances with dyes and other tricks (including surgery)to escape the ravages of time. It is not dreadful to appear old; in fact, The hoary head [gray] is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. Ps 16:31. Vast sums are spent by people militating against God and His image in them: They are fearful of appearing as old as the Lord made them. Of course, advertising does not help, promoting the youthful look, free of grey hair. People use many various means in their vain attempts to trick time, but noting can permit one to elude death at his appointed time.
3. Want to appear Godly? Let the hair turn white as wool in the way of righteousness. The white like wool in Rev 1:14, must also include Christ's beard, Isa 50:6. Why, may we question, did the beard become "out of style?" Who were men seeking to please when they shaved it off? The beard does, however, seem to be gaining popularity. One wonders if that popularity is an effort by men to retain their manliness in the day of the feminization of men?
4. Is not the use of coverups and fraudulent means to conceal one's natural appearance of growing older contrary to Eph 4:20-24? [1 Thes 4:6, defraud, to be superior, gain or take advantage of another, to overreach... See 2 Cor 2:11 for an interesting observation.] Are we sure we want to abide by the New Testament laws as presented by Paul, or do we just want the ones with which the natural man can agree?
By the sight of it, [grey hair, ed] the Lord would solemnise us in the midst of our pursuits. "Lo! the shadow of eternity! for one cometh who is almost already in eternity. His head and beard white as snow, indicate his speedy appearance before the Ancient of Days, the hair of whose head is as pure wool." [Leviticus, Andrew Bonar, 355.]
Reverence, not necessarily obedience, is required toward the hoary (grey)head, and honour the face of the old man, Lev 19:32. By defrauding the onlooker, i.e., offering something one is not with dyes and cosmetic surgery to look younger, does one forfeit the reverence commanded to him or her by the Law of the Lord?
5. Clement held that the smooth appearing face and features, female type hair, and the wearing of golden ornaments such as chains &c., was "womanly." "In truth," he said, "unless you saw them naked, you would suppose them to be women." Is there anythig new under the sun, Ecc 1:9? Hardly!
6. The beard and grey hair are signs God placed upon manly, vigorous, mature men. The beard, according to Clement, is God's token of the superior nature of man, for both the man and the beard were in existence before Eve. The Creator had/has a beard, white as wool, and He created Adam in His image. Why is man so against that image?
7. Clement makes a point hard to argue against: Ridding of hair, shaving and/or plucking, by men to be attractive to other men, "is the act of an effeminate person,--if to attract women, is the act of an adulterer..." Why, therefore, do men take great pains to remove their beards, and both men and women take such great pains to hide their age by removing the grey hair? Are they attempting to appeal to members of the same sex? appeal to members of the opposite sex? We might mention here that it is feminine for women to appear "hairless," with exception, of course, of the shaved head, 1 Cor 11:5, 6. On the other hand, for men to appear feminine is quite contrary to Scripture.
8. More attention is to be paid to the mind than to fit into the world's mold. Certainly, physical neatness and cleanliness is appropriate and important, but far more important is mental neatness and cleanliness. The two go hand in hand, for cleanliness of the inner man will result in cleanliness of the outer man and his surroundings/environment. Because there are no longer Christian environmental concerns, we how have pagan environmental concerns. Bodily exercise is commendable, but far more profitable to health and long life is the exercise unto godliness, 1 Tim 4:8.
9. Great care is taken to see that boys sold and used for sodomite purposes are hairless. Obviously, stealing and selling "hairless" boys for sodomite purposes is far more common today than we admit. Being in places of great power and authority [because Christians have considered those places "secular," therefore, places to be avoided], can we expect the pedophiles, sodomites included, to publicly reveal what is taking place with the tremendous number of children being stolen?
The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association has grown from under 545 members and 7 chapters in 1992 to over 1,200 members and 18 chapters today. The members are producers at National Public Radio and editors and reporters at big-city newspapers. At its 5th annual conference in October, recruiters came from CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. The Associated Press fielded its own caucus. The biggest supporter of the event was Knight-Ridder ($15,000), followed by Gannett ($10,000) and NBC News ($8,000). Others included CBS News and the Los Angeles Times (Human Events, 12/8/95).
Equally obvious is that boys "voluntarily" enter into the world of sodomites for the money.
10. Sounds as though Clement's time of "luxury" was also a 'PC' society that attempted to eradicate the natural distinction between men and women.
11. Denying nature or seeking to change nature commits adultery against nature, therefore, against nature's God. "People may sin legally..."! Sounds like Clement is writing about today's laws.
12. He calls on men to look and act like men, and exalts civil authorities who detests effeminate men, "giving the body to feminine purposes, contrary to the law of nature..." Such men are "judged worthy of the extremest penalty, according to the righteousness of the law." Clement was calling on those in civil authority to exalt manliness, as well as exalt femininity in women. Effeminate men and masculine women are exalted by civil authority by such things as "gay rights" laws, bringing civil authroity clearly under God's curse.
13. People are known by external appearances: conversation, i.e., manner of life, Eph 4:22; Php 1:27; Titus 4:12; Heb 13:5, &c.
We cannot ignore the openness of sodomy of our day, the feminization of men and the confusion of the sexes- trying to make men out of women and women out of men. A radio newscast, 1/29/96, contained a report by the US military saying that with proper training, the 40% deficiency in upper body strength of women vs men can be overcome. The commentator said the Army's statement was leading to placing women at the front lines in hand to hand combat. [With training, woman can carry heavy loads in military. AP, Indianapolis Star, 1/30/95.]
Nor can we ignore the modern effort to trick time with surgery and dye. Reading Clement's statement "AGAINST MEN WHO EMBELLISH THEMSELVES," we see that what we face today is not much different from what Clement preached against. The problem addressed by Clement is that man is a sinner at war against God's image in himself at every opportunity, including in his appearance. Man the sinner will spare no expense nor effort to rebell against that image of God in himself.
|Proceed with Caution|
1 Cor 4:12 being reviled.. [to reproach, rail at, revile, heap abuse upon.] John 9:28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. 1 Peter 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously... Acts 23:4 And they that stood by said [to Paul], Revilest thou God's high priest?
How should one respond in face of misused power and authority? Paul's actions before Ananias might give some insight, Acts 23. [1 Cor 4:16, 11:1.]
Speaking to those before whom he was appearing, Paul said his conscience was clear. Responding, the one in authority before whom he stood for judgment commanded those beside Paul to smite him contrary to the law of God that the judge professed to uphold - Deut 25:1, 2, required both sides of the controversy to be heard and the judge to determine if anything had been done worthy of stripes, John 7:51: Paul's claim that he had lived in all good conscience was not an offence punishable with stripes. Paul then rebukes this one setting in judgement for commanding those beside him to act contrary to God's law.
We are presented here with a couple opening points: First, when Christ was smote, He did not speak, but Paul did speak- there is no way that the ungodly can be pleased with the actions of the godly, and second, we are shown that someone needs not have the proper authority from God nor use his power in a godly manner for God's Word to still apply: Paul readily admitted that God's law against reviling still applied to the ruler though the ruler acted lawlessly [unconstitutionally!].
Paul's response clearly tells all who hear that though this man is in authority, he is subject to the same law by which he judges Paul. Moreover, he has no authority to tell anyone to violate the law- maybe he had human authority to violate the law with immunity, but he will be judged by the God of the law. The hypocrite will be judged by God, e.g., this high priest, Ananias, was slain with his brother, Hezekiah, during the fall of Jerusalem: He attempted to hide in an aqueduct from the robbers, but was brought forth and killed. Paul knew the law, so Ananias was not going to pull any fast ones on him.
Paul calls this man a whited wall, obviously referring to Ananias sitting in judgment against Paul while he himself openly violates the law he holds Paul to. Thus Ananias openly reveals to all his true character: a whited wall- a wall that has been white-washed, which a good rain would probably wash off. The rain came in 70 AD, and Ananias' "religion" washed away.
Paul's statement not only applies to leaders who operate under the color of Christ, but to every person, viz., it is hypocrisy to condemn another when we are harboring known sin, Matthew chapter 7.
There are those who try to hold civil leaders to the law, civil &/or God's, yet they themselves live in ungodliness: adultery, fornication, drunkenness, perjury and general rebellion against God's Word: How many harbor and enjoy lust in their hearts? How many anti-abortion activists are involved in immoral thoughts and actions? How many are knowingly and willingly involved in ungodly activity other than the abortions they protest against? Before one can speak against sin in another's life, his or her life must be above reproach as much as the Spirit of Grace has enabled it to be, Mat 7. For the Scriptures say, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, Gal 6:1. Sin must be protested, including civil authority run amuck and abortion, but that protest must come from holiness on the part of the protestor or he/she is operating in Ananias' spirit of hypocrisy.
Paul spoke against Ananias' sin from a clear conscience, which will excite anger from the ungodly.
Acts 23:4, it is pointed out to Paul that the one commanding the violation of God's law is God's high priest. Paul's reply, v. 5, was not really an apology; rather, it was a sharp reminder to all that, according to the law which they were trying to use against him, the judge of the people was to be a godly, law-abiding man. Paul called attention that this man, though claiming to be godly, was not at all what he professed: He was commanding the violation of the very law he was trying to use against Paul. Paul loudly proclaims, "Hey everyone! Something is wrong when the one judging me according to the law is decisively violating the same law I am accused of violating."
Some suggest that Paul uses ridicule to make his point: Knowing the situation required that this be the high priest, he says in veiled words, "How could a man who shows himself so unholy and vulgar be the high priest? Evidently he is not; therefore, I can say this." Then at the rebuke of the one beside him, he says, "Oh, really! In that case, it is written Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people," Ex. 22:28, Ps. 82:6. [The marg for gods is judges. Christ held the wicked men's feet to the fire at the point that the judges of God's people were called gods, Jn. 10:34.] An added reference in the WORLD Bible is 2 Pet. 2:10. In other words, it is a mark of the end time when people despise government. [Marg., dominion]. Peter condemns railing accusations against the Devil himself. But this only compounds the problem here with Paul reviling God's high priest.
It is evident that Paul knew he was before the high priest. Therefore, some say, implied is that if one in authority is not going to use the office properly, those under authority are not obliged to render to them the respect due to the office, Rom 13:7. A reverence would be 2 Macc. 4:13 Now this was not the beginning, but an increase and progress of heathenish and foreign manners, through the abominable and unheard-of wickedness of Jason, that impious wretch and no priest, 14. insomuch that the priests were not now accept about the offices of the altar, but despising the temple and neglecting the sacrifices, hastened to be partakers of the games, and of the unlawful allowance thereof, and of the exercise of the discus. The comment goes on to say that they were acting wickedly against the laws of God. In other words, the wickedness of the high priest, Jason, made him no priest. But that is not how Christ reacted before the high priest, John 18.
Though this idea, i.e., wickedness in the ruler making him no ruler, is not what Paul says in Romans 13:7, he acts in Acts 23 as though the wickedness made him no ruler. Was Paul exercising the right of a prophet of God to speak to rulers thusly? [Example, Is 1:10, 23.]
But let us set a precedent and make some enemies by taking Paul's statement at face value. For some reason, Paul did not know this man was either the high priest or sitting in the place of the high priest for this occasion. [The Romans allowed the religious rulers great leeway in judging matters according to the law of Moses, even in civil matters.] Paul, when falsely accused and seeing such an open violation of the law, `lost his cool:' He admits that he spoke harshly against the man. When those around him told him what he did, he recovered. Though not really apologizing, he admitted that if he had known or remembered that the man was the high priest, he would not have spoken so harshly and hastily. [Compare Paul's response with Christ's response in Jn 18:22, 23.]
We should also point out that Paul understood that the high priest's office was now removed and that Christ was the true High Priest. The man before whom he stood refused to recognize Christ; rather, he continued in the Jews' rebellion against God by retaining the now antichrist office and authority of the priest.
The above understanding appears to fit best with the context of the word, revile, i.e., to reproach, rail at, revile, heap abuse upon, because with its every use (even here) we are told not to revile against those who revile us. (1 Cor. 4:12; Jn 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:23.) Christ is our example, not Paul. Paul is only an example as he follows Christ. Of Acts 23:4 & 5, Cyprian [A.D. 200-258] said,
[EPISTLE LIV.(3) TO CORNELIUS, CONCERNING FORTUNATUS AND FELICISSIMUS, OR AGAINST THE HERETICS. ARGUMENT.--CYPRIAN CHIEFLY WARNS CORNELIUS IN THIS LETTER NOT TO HEAR THE CALUMNIES OF FELICISSIMUS AND FORTUNATUS AGAINST HIM, AND NOT TO BE FRIGHTENED BY THEIR THREATS, BUT TO BE OF A BRAVE SPIRIT, AS BECOMES GOD'S PRIESTS IN OPPOSITION TO HERETICS; NAMELY, THOSE WHO, AFTER THE CUSTOM PREVAILING AMONG HERETICS, BEGAN THEIR HERESY AND SCHISMS WITH THE CONTEMPT OF ONE BISHOP IN THE CHURCH.(4)]... in the time of His (Christ's, ed) passion, He had received a buffet from a servant of the priest, and the servant said to Him, "Answerest thou the high priest so?" (9) the Lord said nothing reproachfully against the high priest, nor detracted anything from the priest's honour; but rather asserting His own innocence, and showing it, He says, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me? " (10) Also subsequently, in the Acts of the Apostles, the blessed Apostle Paul, when it was said to him, "Revilest thou God's priest?" (11) --although they had begun to be sacrilegious, and impious, and bloody, the Lord having already been crucified, and had no longer retained anything of the priestly honour and authority--yet Paul, considering the name itself, however empty, and the shadow, as it were, of the priest, said, "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy, people." (12) [Fathers, V.340. Cyprian was converted, A.D. 246, advanced quickly to the office of Biship of Carthage, A.D. 248, and was martyred, A.D. 258. His writings illustrate the social and religious feelings and usages that then prevailed among the members of the Christian community... which formed the common level of the Christian experience... in the atmosphere of persecution, and often in the immediate presence of a lingering death...,[ Fathers, V.255, 256.]
Cyprian does not let the issue rest:
[EPISTLE LXIV.(3) TO ROGATIANUS, CONCERNING THE DEACON WHO CONTENDED AGAINST THE BISHOP. ARGUMENT.--CYPRIAN WARNS THE BISHOP ROGATIANUS TO RESTRAIN THE PRIDE OF THE DEACON WHO HAD PROVOKED HIM WITH HIS INSULTS, AND TO COMPEL HIM TO REPENT OF HIS BOLDNESS; TAKING OCCASION TO REPEAT ONCE MORE WHATEVER HE HAS SAID IN THE PREVIOUS LETTER, ABOUT THE SACERDOTAL OR EPISCOPAL POWER.(4)] ... 2. Moreover also Solomon, established in the Holy Spirit, testifies and teaches what is the priestly authority and power, saying, "Fear the Lord with all thy soul, and reverence His priests;" (3) and again, "Honour God with all thy soul, and honour His priests." (4) Mindful of which precepts, the blessed Apostle Paul, according to what we read in the Acts of the Apostles, when it was said to him, "Revilest thou thus God's high priest?" answered and said, "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." (5) Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, our King, and Judge, and God, even to the very day, of His passion observed the honour to priests and high priests, although they observed neither the fear of God nor the acknowledgment of Christ. For when He had cleansed the leper, He said to him, "Go, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift." (6) With that humility which taught us also to he (sic) humble, He still called him a priest whom He knew to be sacrilegious; also under the very sting of His passion, when He had received a blow, and it was said to Him, "Answerest thou the high priest so?" He said nothing reproachfully against the person of the high priest, but rather maintained His own innocence saying, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?" (7) All which things were therefore done by Him humbly and patiently, that we might have an example of humility and patience; for He taught that true priests were lawfully and fully to be honoured, in showing Himself such as He was in respect of false priests. [Ibid, 366.]
[EPISTLE LXVIII.(6) TO FLORENTIUS PUPIANUS, ON CALUMNIATORS. ARGUMENT.--CYPRIAN CLEARS HIMSELF IN THE EYES OF FLORENTIUS PUPIANUS FROM VARIOUS CRIMES OF WHICH HE IS ACCUSED BY HIM; AND ARGUES THE LIGHTNESS OF HIS MIND, IN THAT HE HAS SO HASTILY TRUSTED CALUMNIATORS.] ... And moreover the Lord, in the Gospel, when it was said to Him, "Answerest thou the high priest so?" guarding the priestly dignity, and teaching that it ought to be maintained, would say nothing against the high priest, but only clearing His own innocence, answered, saying, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?" (6) The blessed apostle also, when it was said to him, "Revilest thou God's high priest?" spoke nothing reproachfully against the priest, when he might have lifted up himself boldly against those who had crucified the Lord, and who had already sacrificed God and Christ, and the temple and the priesthood; but even although in false and degraded priests, considering still the mere empty shadow of the priestly name, he said, "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, Thou shall not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." (7) [Ibid, 373.]
The point of the above quotes, made in the midst of intense persecution by antichrist rulers misusing their usurped powers and authorities, being this: Though both Christ and Paul knew the rulers were apostate, antichrist, sacrilegious, both enforced the law against speaking evil (railing) against the rulers.
Apparently, Paul got caught in a trap he had warned so many about: He reviled the one who, under the color of law, flagrantly violated the law. Moreover, the man exercised the office of high priest in open rebellion and defiance of God's law, the gospel of Christ. Accordingly, how easy is it for us to do the same when confronted with the wicked who have man's power and authority to use the law unlawfully. The meaning of the word ruler is prince, chief, magistrate, rulers in general, e.g. Lk 12:58.
Paul's means of escape
Paul's means of escape from this bad situation was not through reviling the one using the law unlawfully from a non-existent, antichrist [unconstitutional!] office; rather, his means of escape was by being as wise as a serpent. Paul knew God's Word, and he used it to turn the wicked against one another, using their own evil intent against them and for his benefit: He said, of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question, vv. 6ff.
God promises to provide His covenant people with a means of escape if they can get past themselves and look to the Word of God, the Authour and Finisher of their faith, 1 Cor 10:13. There are several problems, however: First, normally those facing wicked authorities misusing their offices and powers are not acquainted themselves enough with God's Word to see the opening God might provide; second, one can get so incensed over the ungodly misuse of power by those in authority that he fails to notice the means God has provided him to escape the situation, and third, he may not want God's means of escape, for the natural man enjoys reviling others whether they are in authority or not.
However, one should also remember that God's means of escape from the grasp of the wicked misusing their offices, powers and authorities might be bonds: Paul told the Philippians that he was jailed, after appealing to Caesar, unto the furtherance of the gospel, Php 1:12. Divine Providence worked to place Paul in jail through obviously unlawful use of the law, as did Divine Providence in the unjust death of Christ, Acts 2:23. [Many modern followers of Allah willingly and purposefully submit to bonds to gain followers of their religion who are behind bars.] A couple of closing points: In spite of the extremely thorough examination of Paul's words and deeds, nothing he said or did could be construed to be against the law nor against Rome, 25:8, 27. And don't think his accusers didn't search his every word and action. But Paul's message as recorded in Acts 26:20 [& Acts 17:7], overturned the wicked who were in high places. Additionally, as Paul used the means God had provided for his "escape," the Lord abundantly vindicated him, striking Ananias in the most horrible manner.
Nothing, even unlawful [unconstitutional!] use of man's usurped power and authority, permits railing, speaking harshly, against others, not even against the devil himself.
Days, Months, Times & Years.
Paul expressed his concern for the spiritual well-being of those desiring to be under the Old Testament Judaism's legal bondage: bondage to the special days, months, times and years. Paul was concerned that he had failed to properly teach the work of Christ Who fulfilled and, hence, did away with the bondage those things had upon God's covenant people.
The day of atonement, Lev 23:27, was a glad day in the Hebrew economy, but it only pointed to the better day of Christ and His atoning sacrifice for His people. Concerning the day of atonement, Bonar said,
... Sorrow does not take away the sin, but it takes away the taste for it, and the pleasant taste of it; it does not empty out the vessel, but it frees the emptied vessel (the pardoned soul) from the former relish it had for earth. It is thus that the Lord's children pass through fire and water to the wealthy place. For this reason it is that their souls are tried with spiritual griefs and outward tribulations. It makes the joy of the Lord the fuller and sweeter to them. [Leviticus, Andrew Bonar, 417]
Lev 23:27, afflict your souls..., speaks of the spirit of humility as one meditates upon his guilt and the deserved wrath of God against his sin; that deserved wrath against sin was seen in the Old Testament law in the offering made by fire unto the LORD. The burnt offering clearly spoke of God's consuming, fiery wrath against sin [Heb 10:27, 12:29, &c.], and the innocent victim, the sacrificial animal, taking God's fiery wrath as the sinner's substitute, Isa 58:5; Zec 12:10; Ac 2:37, 38, & Jas 4:9.
Genuine conversion, salvation, requires Godly sorrow over sin: sorrow that worketh repentance to salvation.
1) the day of atonement with its offering made by fire unto the LORD looked forward to Christ: It looked forward to the suffering and crucifixion of Christ (Who received the deserved wrath against sin) and to the free grace, atonement, provided by God in and through Christ.
2) the day of atonement required rest: and ye shall do no work in that same day. Everything about this day looked forward to Christ, for no man could nor can work toward his own atonement, Ps 49:7, 8; Mt 16:26; Mr 8:37 & 1 Pet 1:18, 19.
3) notice the strong words against doing any work on the day: he shall be cut off from among his people. ...the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Those who did not exhibit Godly sorrow were in serious trouble with the LORD God, as they are today, 2 Co 7:10, 11.
4) an holy convocation unto you. Convocation - reading, calling together, sacred assembly. A day of gathering together and reading God's Word.
The day of atonement lasted as long as the Old Testament economy lasted, and it was done away with by the work of Christ, our atonement. All these various laws looked forward to Him, and to continue them boarders on militancy against God's finished atoning work through Christ, Gal 4:9-11.
Though Paul could be referring to pagan gods and special days used to do service unto them, v. 8, the context of the Galatians is Paul expressing his concern over the new Christians' adaptation of the old ways of Judaism- the Mosaic laws pointing to the work of Christ Who was to come.
Moreover, one should note that Paul is not referring to burnt offerings and sacrifices as required under the old Hebrew economy: As Paul deals with the false teachers, i.e., Judaizers, he makes no mention of efforts to get the new, immature Christians back under the old sacrificial system; rather, he confronts the false teachers' effort to get the new Christians to become Jewish proselytes through circumcision and then to observe the special days, months and times as required under the old Hebrew economy. This writer, furthermore, considers it a good health practice to observe circumcision on the eighth day- as it is also good health practice to observe Lev 11, or the Lord would not have required it of His people: for proper health reasons is quite different than to become a Jewish proselyte. One would have to wrest scripture considerably to say that the Jewish special days... were given for health reasons.
Paul expressed his fear for those to whom he writes at Galatia: He had told them of their heirship to the Abrahamic Covenant through faith in Christ and not through the keeping of the law, Gal 3 [vv. 16, 29, &c.]; he had told them the foolishness of believing the Judaizers who desired they become "Jewish Proselytes" that is, be circumcised and assume the Hebrew's special days... as required of the Old Testament Hebrews. Commenting around A.D. 270 on Gal 4:9ff. against Marcion's heresies, Tertullian writes:
... He tells us himself clearly enough what he means by elements, even the rudiments of the law: "Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years" (15)--the sabbaths, I suppose, and the preparations,(16) and the fasts, and the high days.(17) For the cessation of even these, no less than of cicumcision, (sic) was appointed by the Creator's decrees, who had said by Isaiah, "Your new moons, and your sabbaths, and your high days I cannot bear; your fasting, and feasts, and ceremonies my soul hateth;"(18) also by Amos, "I hate, I despise your feast-days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies;"(19) and again by Hosea, "I will cause to cease all her mirth, and her feast-days, and her sabbaths, and her new moons, and all her solemn assemblies."(20) The institutions which He set up Himself, you ask, did He then destroy? Yes, rather than any other. Or if another destroyed them, he only helped on the purpose of the Creator, by removing what even He had condemned. But this is not the place to discuss the question why the Creator abolished His own laws. It is enough for us to have proved that He intended such an abolition, that so it may be affirmed that the apostle determined nothing to the prejudice of the Creator, since the abolition itself proceeds from the Creator. But as, in the case of thieves, something of the stolen goods is apt to drop by the way, as a clue to their detection; so, as it seems to me, it has happened to Marcion: the last mention of Abraham's name he has left untouched (in the epistle), although no passage required his erasure more than this, even his partial alteration of the text.(21) "For (it is written) that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond maid, the other by a free woman; but he who was of the bond maid was born after the flesh, but he of the free woman was by promise: which things are allegorized"(22) (that is to say, they presaged something besides the literal history); for these are the two covenants, or the two exhibitions (of the divine plans),(1) as we have found the word interpreted, the one from the Mount Sinai, in relation to the synagogue of the Jews, according to the law, "which gendereth to bondage"-- "the other gendereth" (to liberty, being raised) above all principality, and power, and dominion, and every name that is l (sic) named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come, "which is the mother of us all," in which we have the promise of (Christ's) holy church; by reason of which he adds in conclusion: "So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond woman, but of the free."(2) In this passage he has undoubtedly shown that Christianity had a noble birth, being sprung, as the mystery of the allegory indicates, from that son of Abraham who was born of the free woman; whereas from the son of the bond maid came the legal bondage of Judaism. [Tertullian Against Marcion, III.436, 437, Fathers, CDROM, Vol 1.]
Thus Paul's concern for the Galatians: "I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain because you desire to be back under the legal bondage of Judaism, bondage to the special days, months, times and years." Yes, the Creator designed the laws for His people before Christ; however, the same Creator abolished His own laws, for they have served their purpose.
Paul was thus concerned that he had failed to properly teach the work of Christ who fulfilled and, hence, did away with the bondage of those things upon the people of God.
Thus the day of atonement, Lev 23:27, was a glad day in the Hebrew economy, but it only pointed to the better day of Christ and His atoning sacrifice for His people.
Why would anyone desire to be "the son of the bond maid ... [under] the legal bondage of Judaism" when they can have the fullness of liberty in Christ?
Heb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel..
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