Does Jesus Hate Women?

Does Jesus Hate Women?

Does Jesus hate women? That may sound ridiculous to most of our readers. However, there is continual rhetoric in the media and from skeptics suggesting that Christianity is opposed to women’s rights and tries to oppress women. A careful study of Jesus and women and the early Church’s history shows that isn’t the case.

The world at the time of Christ was in turmoil. People ignored God’s teachings and moral laws, women were considered property, and they were totally dependent on men. A young woman was supported by her father and then her husband. Her primary role was to bear a male child. This treatment of women led to polygamy, prostitution, and easy divorce.

Jesus comes on the scene and overturns all of this.
In John 4, Jesus talks to a Samaritan woman without denigrating her. He amazed His disciples by breaking all social taboos by teaching her. In Luke 10:38, Jesus enters the house of Martha and treats her and her sister Mary with respect. Mary Magdalene played a vital role in the ministry of Jesus, and she was the first person He appeared to after His resurrection. In Luke 8:1-3, she and Joanna, a Roman steward’s wife, are portrayed as financial backers of Jesus’ travels. Jesus defended the woman taken in adultery in John 8:3-11. Does Jesus hate women? No, He treated women with dignity and respect.

The Church in the first century did not oppress women.
In Titus chapter 2, Paul gives instructions to old and young men and women and slaves regarding how to live. The reason for his instructions is “to make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” to unbelievers. Acts 16:14-15 describes a woman named Lydia, who ran a high-end business, owned her own home, and had a household. We are reminded of Proverbs 31 as we read this. Martha, mentioned earlier, also owned a home where her brother and sister lived.

First Corinthians 14:26-40 addresses a chaotic worship assembly. Paul tells various people to be silent or to speak one at a time. He instructed married women to remain silent and address their questions to their husbands at home. Paul was concerned about the chaotic assembly causing outsiders to think the worshippers were crazy (verse 23).

In 1 Timothy 2:9-15, Paul encourages women to dress modestly and not usurp authority. The Greek word here is “authenteo” and means “to exercise the power of one’s self,” according to the lexicon. An overly aggressive woman could intimidate and discourage a young Christian preacher like Timothy. Paul’s instruction for women to protect the role of men and allow them to lead was important to the Church’s growth then, as it is today.

Does Jesus hate women? No. Did the early Church oppress women? No. Neither should it do so today. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, MALE NOR FEMALE, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We need to love each other enough to allow everyone to have a role in the work of the Church. Caring enough to serve is not oppressing or denigrating anyone.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Jesus Christ Huiou Theou

Jesus Christ  Huiou Theou

One of the great sources of conflict among religious groups and atheists alike is understanding who Christ is. Was Jesus a man who became God? Was Jesus a biological son of God? Was Jesus God wearing a different name? Owen Olbricht is a scholar who knows biblical Greek and has spent a lifetime studying this issue. He has written a helpful word study for an upcoming Bible dictionary. Here are some points from his word study of “huiou theou”:

The phrase “Son of God” is a translation of the Greek huiou theou and is used many times in the New Testament. It is frequently used with the phrase “only begotten” from the Greek mono and genes, meaning “one of a kind.” “Begotten” is from the Greek genneo meaning “brought forth,” and it usually refers to being born of a mother. An example of this is the reference in Hebrews 11:17 in which Isaac is called Abraham’s monogenes. Monogene is used in reference to Issac but not to Ishmael or the six sons of Keturah, which Abraham also fathered.

The Bible refers to Jesus as the one and only special Son (John 14:31, Hebrews 5:8 and 10:9). Christians are also the sons of God but do not have the huiou theou that Jesus has. (Romans 8:4 and 9:26 and Galatians 3:26). Throughout the New Testament, when Jesus is referred to, it is always as the Son of God (huiou theou). (See Matthew 1:18 and 3:17, Mark 1:1 and 1:11, Luke 1:31-35 and 3:22, and John 1:33-34.)

During the ministry of Jesus, the people that saw His miracles identified Him as” The Son of God” (Matthew 14:33 and 27:54, Mark 15:39, John 1:49, 6:69, and 11:27 and 16:16. The people who witnessed what Christ did were not referencing Jesus as a normal biological son but as a special Son. When Jesus was transfigured, God declared from heaven, “This is my beloved Son” again using words that described Christ as unique (See Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35, and 2 Peter 1:17.)

Owen Olbricht also goes on in his writings to show that Satan and the demons recognized that Jesus was uniquely huiou theou, the one and only Son of God. Even the opponents of Jesus knew that He was not just a human with extraordinary powers and understanding. Olbricht also points out that Paul’s preaching consistently referenced Jesus as the one special Son of God.

Owen concludes his word study by saying, “As God’s Son, Jesus does the same works as the Father (John 5:19), is one with the Father (John 10:30), and has the Father’s appearance and traits (John 12:45 and 14:7-9). Jesus was proven to be the Son of God by God’s testimony (Matthew 3:17 and 17:5), Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 7:28,29 and John 7:46), His resurrection (Romans 1:4), His fulfillment of Scriptures (Luke 24:47-48), and His miracles (John 20:30-31).”

We will let you know when this new dictionary is available.

John N. Clayton © 2020

America and the World in Turmoil

America and the World in Turmoil

No matter what political party you support, you have to admit that it is a difficult time in America and the world. The issues today are complicated and dangerous. Dealing with racial differences has been a weak spot in American history. COVID-19 has taxed our medical establishment. Abuse of the Earth has to be a concern to all of us as our air, water, and oceans become polluted.

Is there any hope for our country and our world? We need to look at the belief system on which America is based. There were differences among political leaders in the past, but they had a common foundation from which they operated. What is happening now is that “survival of the fittest” and looking out for their own interests are our politicians’ primary goals. We think that those are not the beliefs and operational methods that most Americans believe in.

You can take” In God we Trust” off our currency, but you cannot take it out of our hearts. Extremists can bad-mouth the Bible and abuse the teachings of Jesus Christ, but periodically Christian actions surface in the common people. The food banks, homeless shelters, and medical establishments built and maintained by common people show us that Christ’s teachings are still alive and well in America.

When Jesus taught how to recognize His followers, He never referred to political figures or governments. He talked about those who served others. Passages like Matthew 25:31-46 and the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5-7 make it clear. Rather than marching or doing physical or financial harm to anyone, we need to express our allegiance to Christ by our service and devotion to others. In doing that, we will ultimately save America and the world.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Look at the Evidence!!

Look at the Evidence!!

If there is one phrase that needs to shout to everyone on the planet in 2020, it is “Look at the evidence!!” From the president of this country to the teenagers across this land, there has been a huge failure to look at the scientific evidence. Despite all the evidence for how the Covid-19 virus spreads, we still have young people who party without masks, even in a closed interior environment. In spite of the fires on the west coast, the significant increase in hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, the melting of the polar ice caps, and the rise in temperature of the oceans, we still have people denying climate change. Even within the Church, we have a disdain for scientific evidence.

Those who follow Jesus Christ should be the most likely to respond to evidence. Jesus appealed to people to look at the evidence. He told people to see for themselves that things are true. When Thomas was unable to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, how did Jesus convince him? Did He engage Thomas in a philosophical/theological discussion about how the resurrection was logically reasonable? Did He demand that Thomas believe as a test of faith? Read John 20:27-29 and see what He did.

The fact is that the resurrection, all of Jesus’ appearances after the resurrection, and most of the miracles before He died were to provide evidence so that people could believe. Just like today, some people refused to look at the evidence. They suggested that the miracles were fake, but the kind of miracles Jesus performed could not be faked.

It wasn’t just the miracles that Jesus used to validate His existence as the Son of God. His teachings did that as well. The parables of Jesus were not unbelievable fantasy stories. They were practical, true-to-life, easy to understand evidences for the truths He was teaching. When Jesus talked about relying on God, did He use theological and philosophical models to convince His listeners? Read passages like Matthew 6:25-34. You will find Jesus talking about examples that everyone knew about–fowls of the air, changing one’s height, and the flowers of the field.

Using the things that God has created to teach and make doctrinal points is not denigrating God. Read Romans 1:19-32 and notice what Paul uses to convict the Romans of the destructive path they are following.

Today, we see vast numbers of people refusing to look at the evidence. We don’t need to engage them in philosophical discussions. We need to show them the evidence that God does exist, that He is the God of the Bible, and that Jesus is His Son.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

How You Could Recognize Jesus

How You Could Recognize Jesus

I came across something written by Buck Griffith about how you could recognize Jesus. Griffith points out that Jesus did not have angel-like wings or a halo. Even the people who knew Him didn’t recognize Him shortly after His resurrection. Mary Magdalene didn’t, and the men on the road to Emmaus didn’t. However, you explain these biblical cases; the fact remains that people always have a hard time recognizing what Jesus looks like. Satan has the power to appear as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), so it can be difficult.

Interestingly, people portray Jesus according to their culture. Some artwork shows Him as a light-skinned, blue-eyed, Scandinavian. I have seen pictures showing Jesus as a black-skinned, dark-eyed African. I have also seen pictures showing Him as a man with typical oriental facial features. There was even a picture of a bald man with a goatee. The closest picture physically is one that shows Jesus with characteristic Jewish features.

The fact is that all of these pictures are correct. However, all of them must fit the description of Matthew 25. In that passage, Jesus gives six different scenarios that tell us how you could recognize Jesus in someone standing before you. Those six scenarios describe Jesus as being one who is hungry, thirsty, a stranger needing a place to sleep, naked, sick, and imprisoned. Jesus tells His followers who had taken care of people with these problems that Jesus was the one they had treated well (Matthew 25:35-40). He then condemns those who had not done those things, saying that they had failed to do it for Him.

Many people are looking for Christ with the wrong standards as to how to recognize Him. They want a super-hero with incredible physical characteristics. There is a beautiful story that illustrates this well and tells us how you could recognize Jesus. The story goes that a blind girl had a table stand at an airport with apples on it. A group of men came running through, racing to catch a flight. They hit the table and knocked the apples all over the place. One man stopped and helped the girl pick up the apples, separating the bruised or cut from the others. He handed them to the girl and gave her some money to cover the damaged apples. As he started to leave, she called out to him, “Thank you, sir. Are you Jesus?

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Buck Griffith works with NewLife Behavior Ministries, PO Box 270720, Corpus Christi, Texas 78427-0720.

What Is Christ?

What Is Christ?

People in Christ’s day did not understand what Christ was. The same is true today. Jesus himself highlighted this issue when He asked his disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Matthew 16:13). The disciples gave the same kind of answers that we see people giving today. One response was that Christ was a mystic ghost. In this case, they thought He was the ghost or resurrected form of John the Baptist. (See Matthew 14:2.) Some said Christ was the resurrected prophet Elijah who had come to lead Israel. (See Malachi 4:5.) Today we have people claiming that Jesus appeared to them in a ghost-like visit. Who or what is Christ?

After hearing what others were saying, Jesus asked His disciples, “But whom do YOU say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded by saying that God Himself revealed it to Peter (Verse 17). John 1:1-14 spells this out as clearly as humans can comprehend. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” “Word” in Greek is “Logos” and refers to the person of God.

The one “Godhead” is made up of three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the intellect of God, seen in wisdom and design (See Proverbs 8 and Romans 1:20.) In Jesus, we see the personality of God called the Logos by John. The message of John 1:14 is not that a man became God, but that God became a man. Colossians 1:16 says concerning Christ that “all things were created by Him, and for Him.” When Jesus spoke, He spoke the words of God.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said: “Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Is being a Christian always easy physically? How many times was Paul beaten? What happened to Stephen? We, too, have a terrible physical battle to maintain our faith. Jesus is not talking about physical burdens but the peace, confidence, freedom, security, and joy that comes from being in Christ. It is a tragedy that some preachers make the burden hard by adding a bunch of human requirements to the yoke of Jesus.

Jesus was God in the flesh. That flesh died on the cross, but you can’t kill the Logos. Jesus was not just a good man or a myth or a ghost. What is Christ? He is God.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Why Call Him “Jesus the Nazarene?”

Nazareth, Israel. Why Call Him Jesus the Nazarene?
Modern city of Nazareth, Israel

One of the interesting facts about Jesus Christ is that the name of the town where He grew up is frequently used with his name. When Pilate ordered a sign to be placed on the cross, it said, “Jesus of Nazareth” (John 19:19). When Christ appeared to Saul (Acts 22:8), he said, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.” Peter and Paul referred to Jesus as “the Nazarene” in Acts 2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 10:38, and 26:9. Why call Him “Jesus the Nazarene?”

There is a reason why the village of Nazareth was always kept in the dossier of Jesus Christ. The reason is still valid today. Christ never attempted to use worldly standards to emphasize His message. When He had the opportunity to gather a following, He sent the crowds away. When people wanted to elevate Him to a ruling position, He rejected those attempts. Remember that when Peter drew his sword to stop the arrest of Christ, Jesus told him to put it away and healed the man Peter had injured. (See Matthew 26:47-52.) Unlike all other religious figures and organizations, Jesus emitted a gentle image and focused people on His message, not His appearance or power.

Nazareth was an obscure little village in Galilee, and not highly regarded. In John 1:46, when Nathanael was introduced to Christ (John 1:46), he said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Even the relationship between Christ and the village of Nazareth was not that good. In Luke 4:16-30, when Jesus returned to his home town, the citizens rejected him and tried to throw him off a cliff.

Matthew wrote about Jesus, “Then he went and settled in a town called Nazareth to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets that he would be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23). Although no Old Testament prophecy uses the title “Nazarene,” many passages predict that Jesus would be “despised and rejected.” (See Isaiah 53:3; Psalms 22:6; Daniel 9:26; and Zechariah 12:10.) Nazareth was a despised place (as we see from Nathanael’s comment), and even the citizens that despised place rejected Jesus.

Our world of religious violence, hatred, and power is the complete opposite of that for which Jesus Christ stood. Why call Him “Jesus the Nazarene?” Using that title reminds us of what Christianity is not, and what it is. Christianity, like Christ, is not about worldly power or prestige. It is about love and compassion.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Decline in Practicing Christians in America

Decline in Practicing Christians in America

The Barna Research Group is a research agency that has been doing statistical analysis of religion since 1984. Their studies are widely recognized as academically valid. One useful part of Barna’s work is that they repeat studies to identify trends. Research this year indicates a decline in practicing Christians in America.

Barna defines a practicing Christian as: “Someone who identifies as a Christian, agrees strongly that faith is very important in their life, and has attended church within the past month.” In the year 2000, 45% of Americans surveyed identified themselves as Christians using that criterion. In February of 2020, that percentage had dropped to 25%. This research was based on interviews with 96,171 adults.

When you think about the numbers associated with the Barna definition, it is evident that the word “practicing” is the weasel word. Many people who claim to be Christians have not made a practice of attending Church services. At the same time, they would probably be upset to be called “non-practicing Christians.” However, the truth is that Barna used the same set of questions in 2000 and 2020. There can be no doubt that there has been a sharp decline in practicing Christians in America.

It may be that the coronavirus pandemic will pull some of us away from making a god out of our material possessions. But unless we replace our zeal for things with enthusiasm for the teachings of Jesus Christ, we will continue to be poorly equipped either for this life or for eternity.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

You can find previous posts about Barna Group research HERE and HERE.

Christian Witness During the Pandemic

Christian Witness During the Pandemic

We are all aware of the destructive nature of the pandemic we are enduring. There is no question about how the virus is impacting families and the economy of the country. At the same time, some positive things are happening because of Christian witness during the pandemic.

There is a story circulated by SAT-7, an interdenominational Christian television center in the Middle East, which demonstrates how the coronavirus is being beneficial. A man in Iran called the television station and said that the people talking on the station were not like the ones that dominated his country. He said he couldn’t believe that they weren’t violent but had a joy and peace about them which he found attractive. He didn’t have a clue as to who Jesus is. However, he knew that what Jesus was saying was better than the violence, terror, and killing that were a part of the religion that dominates his part of the world. He wanted to know where Jesus lived so he could visit Him.

A week later, this man called again, but this time he had 25 young men crammed into a tiny apartment, and all of them wanted to hear about Jesus. Secret house churches are blossoming all over the Middle East. The coronavirus allows Christians to show compassion and bring help and necessary medications to people who are suffering. Similar stories are coming from Afghanistan.

In America, the coronavirus is showing the huge contrast between atheist beliefs and what Christianity offers. Survival of the fittest as a guide to life doesn’t work well with a pandemic. Isolation and competing for medicine and medical care are not attractive lifestyles for most people. Christians who are first responders talk about the dominance of believers in their efforts. The idea of serving others and saving lives even at personal risk to themselves is the exact opposite of atheistic belief systems.

The coronavirus is not God’s retribution for human sin, but, “All things work to the good of those who love the Lord” (Romans 8:28). Christian witness during the pandemic brings a shining light in a culture that suddenly finds itself unable to manage. In this crisis, atheism offers no hope except perhaps personally, selfishly surviving the plague in whatever way possible. True atheism has no thought of helping others or being confident about the future, even if this life comes to an end. The contrast is a great apologetic for Christianity.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Real Death Rate is One Per Person

Real Death Rate is One Per Person

As the world and our country battle the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, we see daily statistics on the death rate. Whatever the death rate from COVID-19, as someone has said, the real death rate is one per person.

Death is something we generally don’t like to talk about or even think about. Some people seem to believe that if they don’t think about it, they won’t die. That hasn’t worked for anyone so far. Failing to think about death leaves us unprepared when it happens. In his book Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection, Stephen T. Davis wrote that “Human beings are the only animals who know that they must die, and thus the only animals who try to hide from themselves the fact that they must die.”

One of the things that separates us from other animals is our reasoning power. Our reason tells us that it is irrational to believe that impersonal and nonrational forces could have produced us human creatures who are both personal and rational. In my opinion, that is one of the strongest evidences for a personal and rational Creator God.

Now, suppose that you were the Creator of the universe, and your crowning creative achievement rebelled against you. Would you be willing to take on the form of those rebellious creatures to redeem them? Would you be willing to leave your eternal abode to enter the world of those disobedient and ungrateful beings to show them how to live? Would you be ready to die for them, even though they still didn’t catch on and follow your instructions? Is it possible that the Creator could have that much love?

It is more than just possible. It happened. The Creator did it. He died for us—for you and me! But that isn’t the end of the story. He conquered death! Yes, you can say that the real death rate is one per person in this life. But just wait for what God has in store for those who love him! (Read 1 Corinthians 2:9.)

— Roland Earnst © 2020