The following Scripture passages are offered to aid beginning fellowships. The readings and commentary for this week are more in line with what has become usual; for the following will most likely be familiar observations. The concept behind this Sabbath’s selection is “the spirit of the person.”
For the Sabbath of April 11, 2015
The person conducting the Sabbath service should open services with two or three hymns, or psalms, followed by an opening prayer acknowledging that two or three (or more) are gathered together in Christ Jesus’ name, and inviting the Lord to be with them.
For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit that is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:11–16)
The Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor 13:11). Yet Paul knew the things of a child through the spirit of the human person that was in him. This spirit of the person [to pneuma tou ’anthropou] was not, when Paul was a child, fully mature—wasn’t mature at all, but was immature as was the physical body of Paul, with a man’s physical body maturing at a somewhat fix chronological rate, the body arriving at manhood as a late teen or early in the man’s 20s, but with the mind not maturing for another decade. This reality was recognized long ago, the reason why an Israelite male would go to war at twenty years of age (Num 1:3), but could not enter the priesthood until thirty (Num chap 4).
When the physical reveals and precedes the spiritual (cf Rom 1:20; 1 Cor 15:46), and when spiritual birth comes through the indwelling of Christ Jesus—more specific, the indwelling of the spirit of God [pneuma Theou] in the spirit of Christ [pneuma Christou] in the spirit of the person [to pneuma tou ’anthropou]—an infant son of God is housed in the soul [psuche] of the person as the formerly dead soul was and continues to be housed in the fleshly body [soma] of the person until the death of the flesh, with the spiritual maturation of this infant son of God being foreshadowed by the mental maturation of the male Israelite who would serve in the priesthood until age fifty.
Both the maturity of the person’s fleshly body and of the person’s inner mental self has representational significance to the spiritual maturity of the son of God. In other words, the maturation of the male [females mature earlier, both physically and mentally] human person bears a corresponding but not time-linked relationship to the spiritual maturation of the indwelling son of God … because heaven is timeless and because spiritual maturity pertains to spiritual growth in the heavenly realm, spiritual maturity cannot be time-linked in a year-for-a-year correspondence. However, there is a physical to spiritual correspondence between an early bloomer and a late bloomer: the human person who matured physically at a young age will, in all probability, when born of spirit also mature quickly. Hence, when the inner spirit of the female person is born of spirit through the indwelling of Christ, this inner son of God tends to grow spiritually at an accelerated rate when compared to the growth rate of sons of God housed in male bodies, said as a generalization not as a rule.
Because males and females physically and mentally mature at differing rates, again emphasizing the biological difference between male and female—and actually favoring the female—it is here where examination of 1 Corinthians chapter 11 needs to begin:
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God. But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. (1 Cor 11:1–34 emphasis and doubled emphasis added)
I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God—the preceding, along with the Tenth Commandment, has historically been used by males to oppress/subjugate the “always marked” female … there is no such thing as an unmarked female, an unmarked woman. Every woman is designated by a marker [wo] placed in front of <man>, with the auditor encountering the marker before encountering the humanness of the person.
Feminism, theoretical and militant, serves as a backlash against being marked, but accomplishing little more than to reinforce marking; for how the woman dresses, the length of her skirt or absence of a skirt, what shoes she wears, what personal adornment [jewelry] she wears, her hair length and hair style, whether she covers—all serve to mark the woman, saying something about the woman that she either wants said or doesn’t realize is being said. She has control over the message her marking conveys to others, but she doesn’t have control over whether she will or won’t be marked.
It is much more difficult for a man to mark himself; for even if he were to wear a Holstein print sport coat on a commodities’ trading floor, he barely stands out … men tend to blend into the background in a patriarchal culture—it isn’t because they are foregrounded (whereas women are “other” and part of the background) that they are seen when scanning a crowd. Rather, they are not seen: they are that mass of men who live lives of quiet desperation (from Thoreau). Difference is seen. And men tend to dress alike, walk in similar strides, and become part of a faceless forest of silk ties. The man who chooses to stand out must do something to make himself noticeable, which now becomes the conscious act of acquiring a “mark”; for a mark denotes difference.
Again, the woman is marked regardless of whether she wants marked.
Paul uses, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1) as the set up for what he will continue to write about the Passover, with what would seem to be a digression into headcoverings being unrelated to the Passover, but this is not the case … headcoverings bear directly on his Passover instructions that begin in the previous chapter:
I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. (1 Cor 10:15–33 emphasis and double emphasis added)
The cup of blessing is the Passover sacrament representing the blood of the Lamb of God, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin. The broken bread is the Passover sacrament representing the broken body of the Lamb … Paul writes to sensible people about the Passover sacrifice and about how the Passover sacrifice differs from sacrifices made to demons, eaten as meat sold in the shambles without benefiting the inner self of the one who eats—
Be imitators of Christ: judge ourselves by the yardstick of Christ, not comparing ourselves with others for we do not have the spirit of “other” men, of “other” women inside us. We are not Other, even when marginalized by sons of disobedience; for we have the indwelling of Christ Jesus and have the indwelling mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). And if we have the indwelling mind of Christ—which we truly have if we are really born of spirit—then our judging of ourselves (1 Cor 11:31) becomes a matter of judging our maturity; becomes a matter of judging ourselves against Christ Jesus; becomes a matter of judging how well we imitate Christ as Paul sought to imitate Christ. And we can see our level of spiritual maturity when we honestly evaluate ourselves.
But, huge caveat, children have the thoughts of children and are not able to evaluate themselves as mature men or women. Infant sons of God are not able to evaluate themselves. They need a yardstick against which they can measure themselves; they need a wall or doorway on which their height is marked—and that doorway is Moses.
When a son of God has grown enough that this son has to stoop to step through the doorway that is Moses, then this son of God is spiritually mature enough that he can judge himself against Christ … this is where Paul was as well as the first apostles, but this isn’t where greater Christendom is today. Even the Elect to not stand tall enough that they have to stoop to go through the doorway that is Moses. Even the Elect find it difficult to resist judging themselves against other men/women.
In Matthew’s Gospel, a day, two days before Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples (Matt 26:2), Jesus was confronted by first Herodians, Jews that were political supporters of Herod, then Sadducees that denied the resurrection, and finally Pharisees in an increasing order of piety and decreasing order of theological flexibility … the importance of Matthew’s Jesus having an encounter with each of the main theological divisions within Judaism originates in Judaism itself being to the last Adam as the beasts of the field created inside the Garden were to the first Adam. The author of Matthew’s Gospel needs to make a theological separation between Christ and Judaism in the hierarchal chain of life, showing that Christ and future born-of-spirit sons of God would be of a higher spiritual order than Jews of any sect.
There was, with the giving of the spirit, a leveling of humanity such that outward circumcision no longer set a person apart from the uncircumcised person [especially the female person] (see Eph 2:11–21). Instead, circumcision of the heart (a euphemistic expression for the inner self) separated the Circumcised from the Uncircumcised, thereby creating a new barrier that does not manifest itself in outward appearances, in gender, in ethnicity, but in whether the person has been drawn from this world by God the Father and delivered to Christ Jesus for Jesus to call, justify, and glory through the indwelling of His spirit in the spirit of the person. The outward manifestation of inner circumcision is demonstrated love for brother and neighbor, love that is patient, that doesn’t boast or envy others, that is not arrogant or rude, that doesn’t insist on its own way, that is not irritable or resentful, that doesn’t rejoice in any form of wrongdoing, but rather, rejoices in the truth (1 Cor 13:4–6). And there is a shortage of such love even among the Elect; for how many husbands numbered among the Elect insist on their own way? After all, did not Paul write, “The head of a wife is her husband” (1 Cor 11:3)? And if the man is the head of the always-marked woman, does not the man have the right to insist upon his own way in his own house?
As God is the Head of Christ through the indwelling of His spirit [pneuma Theou] in the spirit of Christ [pneuma Christou], Christ is the Head of every disciples through the indwelling of the spirit of Christ in the spirit of the disciple (the spirit of the person: to pneuma tou ’anthropou), the husband is the head of his wife … how does God exercise authority over Christ? How does Christ exercise authority over disciples? With a very light touch? Respecting the other, the one who is marked? Indeed. So how should husbands exercise authority over wives? With an even lighter touch, for the woman is always marked? She cannot escape being marked. However, she has control over how her marking is read by others: men, women, angels.
Paul used the prevailing traditions of the era to signify how a married Christian woman should mark herself—
The separation of one man from another man originating from circumcision of the flesh was abolished at Calvary, thereby giving, before God, equality to Gentiles and to women. But three and a half days after, a new separation appeared, the separation between the person with a dead inner self [the natural state of humanity at birth] and the person with a living inner self, this living inner self being a son of God and not a physical creation of any sort. Rather, a new order of Homo sapiens was created, an order that houses an infant son of God in a fleshly body … perhaps this new order should be named, Homo sapiens uihtheos, two orders removed from Homo sapiens idaltu and one order removed from Homo sapiens sapiens. For there is a difference between a son of God who doesn’t make a practice of transgressing the Law (1 John 3:8–9) and a son of disobedience who cannot prevent him or herself from transgressing the Law (Rom 8:7).
The timeless nature of heaven requires what is to coexist with what was and what will be. Hence the type of spiritual growth characterized of human maturation cannot occur in the heavenly realm: a two-year old human person cannot coexist with the same person at twenty years of age. The two year old thinks as a small child; the twenty year old, in a far larger body, thinks as an adult human person. The size-difference between the body of a two year old and a twenty year old actually understates the relative difference in mental maturity, but this size-difference discloses the incompatibility of coexistence.
With the first Adam, a new category of life suddenly appeared on the stage of history: modern human persons as Homo sapiens sapiens, as distinguished from Homo sapiens idaltu (with <idaltu> being the Afar word for “first born” — Homo sapiens idaltu have been geologically dated back to 160,000 BCE, with the accuracy of this dating not necessarily conflicting with the Genesis “P” creation account). With the second or last Adam, another new category of life appeared: the human person who has been twice born, receiving both the breath of the first Adam [breath that animates the fleshing body and physical mind] and the breath/spirit of the second Adam, breath that gives life to indwelling souls [psuchas] of Homo sapiens sapiens.
The twice-born human male sports no outward marking to disclose that he is different from his once-born brother or cousin: he is unmarked except by his outward manifestation of love, not insisting upon his own way, not being rude, irritable, resentful. However, the twice-born female, a wife of a man, will [or should] take upon herself a “mark” to denote difference between herself and her other once-born sisters, this marking being a cloth covering over her longish hair.
With outward circumcision no longer being a barrier preventing the Uncircumcised from coming before God, the circumcised “head” of the male losses importance, with importance not being returned to this “head” until the Millennium … importance shifts to the head that sits atop the person’s shoulders, which both males and females have. And to disclose the difference between the male Israelite made naked before God (as Adam was naked in the Garden before eating forbidden fruit) through circumcision of the flesh and the female Israelite that had no “head” to be circumcised when importance shifts from “head” to head and on to Head, Paul gave specific instructions about male and female hair length for the hair on the top of the disciple’s head.
For the male that was naked before God in the Garden, the male Homo sapiens uihtheos was to have short hair, with no real definition given for what constitutes short hair. The female Homo sapiens uihtheos was to have long hair as a sign of her physical uncircumcision, with hair on the person’s head being common to both male and female Homo sapiens. The cutting or not cutting of the hair, now, disclosed mindsets. And as with males, there was no definition of what constitutes long hair; so there is a great deal of latitude in how Paul’s instructions are to be read.
But hair on the head is a covering God gave to both male and female Homo sapiens, with the continual growing of hair on the head differentiating humans from the great apes. Thus, all who will be the Bride of Christ have hair growing on their heads, with this hair given as a sign or marker disclosing the commonality of who can be sons of God. It is now up to twice-born human persons to make for themselves an additional distinction between head and helpmate.
How the marking of twice-born human persons links to the Passover will be the subject of next Sabbath’s Reading. Thus, this Reading will be continued.
"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."