Friday, 22 May 2015

A Tribute to My Friend Todd Walker (1962-2015)

     We’ve lost a friend. We’ve lost a brother. The passing of Todd Walker, whose battle with ALS ended on Tuesday May 19th, has left an emotional void in countless of lives along with an everlasting impression. Our hearts are hurting with Ms. Shirley, Shelia, Lauren, and Daniel.

     While Todd is remembered as an excellent song leader, several of us know where he developed that talent. If you’ve never had the privilege of worshiping with the Glendale church of Christ in Newbern, TN (Todd’s home congregation), you don’t know what really good singing is! And Todd’s gifts included more than singing. He was an outstanding student of God’s word and minister of the gospel, and heaven’s population will be significantly increased because of his short life on this earth. More than anything else, he was an exceptional Christian gentleman.

     After attending high school and college together, our lives took us in separate directions, but I’ve kept up with Todd over the years – marriage, kids, grad school, ministry, illness. I understand that his last sermon was aptly based on 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

     This may seem quite trivial in comparison, but my fondest memories of Todd center around football. We played together for Coach Ab Davis’ Dyer County Choctaws. Then at Freed-Hardeman University we were in different social clubs and played against each other in intramurals. But nothing rivals our no-pads-full-contact football games as teenagers in Todd’s front yard. Sometimes there were others who joined in, but mostly it was Todd, Tim Carter, Mike McCullough, and me.

     Our “field” was a strip of land of about 40 x 30 yards, with a driveway and a ditch as end zones and a road and a shed as sidelines. Sometimes Mr. Bobby Joe (Todd’s dad) would come out and cheer us on, and in our minds we were Lynn Swann, Joe Greene, Franco Harris, and Jack Lambert. At the risk of sounding boastful with slight exaggeration, the UT Vols really missed out by not having a talent scout in the area when we played some of these thrilling, knock-down-drag-0ut competitions. I don’t recall any broken bones or major concussions, but we had about as much fun as teenage boys could have.

     I don’t know if we’ll be allowed to play football in heaven, but seeing that “there shall be no more pain” (Rev. 21:4), maybe the Lord will let Todd and the rest of us use our new, glorious, incorruptible bodies (1 Cor. 15:42-44) to relive some happy memories.

Thank you Todd for your life. Looking forward to the reunion.

--Kevin L. Moore

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Macedonians Had Names

     What comes to mind when you hear the words “New Zealand”? Kiwi birds? Rugby? The Hobbit? I immediately think of Gauntlett Lotter, Jill Anderson, Peter Gray, Jane O’Donnell, Shirley Loveridge, Mac de Thierry, and a host of other special friends. Having been involved in the Lord’s work in New Zealand the past three decades, I have been blessed by close relationships with some of the finest people I know. Starting at the Lower North Island, I’m thinking of Joan, Trish, Leigh, the Batemans, Arulandus, Raines, Toas, Phillips, Bannister clan, Robinsons, Zous, Angs, Jacobs, and so many others. Further up the highway are June, Janny, Paul, Beverly, Rodger, the Copelands, Gawes, Van der Ventels, and more. So many fond memories of the McGraths, Piersons, Andersons, and Walkers, as well as Lara, Tessa, Julie, Robbie, Lucy, Halligan twins, and Daniel. There are the O’Donnells, Kyles, Grays, Paynes, Townsends, Pakis, Pauls, Nealls, Spicers, Paikeas, and dear Ms. Betty, Gayna, and Glenys. Words like “love” and “family” just don’t seem strong enough for Michelle, Janette, Sophie, Carolyn, Nona, Ma, and their families. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of the Pipers, Fowells, Blackmans, Jensens, Fentons, Van Kuyks, Basons, Stanfords, Banks, Whitakers, Cranstons, Cammocks, not to mention the Parrs, Cumings, Leotas, Timotis, Heathers, Hodgmans, Hansells, Woodrows, De Freres, ad infinitum.
     With a sizeable lump in my throat as I write these words, I’m trying to make a point. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only missionary who feels this way, and I’m almost certain that the apostle Paul could relate. He confesses, “what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28), and his prayer life bears resounding testimony to this (Rom. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; Phil. 1:3-4; 1 Thess. 1:2; 3:10). Just read the last three verses of Acts 20 or the first chapter of Philippians, and you will have some idea of the intimate connection he shared with these people. In the final chapter of Romans, after mentioning no less than 35 individuals by name, you get the impression that Paul could have easily continued to list a multitude of others had he not reached the end of the papyrus scroll.
     Throughout his letters the apostle makes numerous references to the Roman provinces of Macedonia, Achaia, Asia, and Galatia.1 I can pretty much guarantee that in every reference he is recalling the names and faces and stories of those he dearly loved in these places. When he speaks of Macedonia (1 Cor. 16:5), it is not the provincial or geographical locality that interests or concerns him, but the Macedonians themselves (2 Cor. 9:2, 4) and the churches of Macedonia in particular (2 Cor. 8:1). These congregations were comprised of individuals whom Paul knew personally and cared for deeply.
     Macedonia incorporated the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. For Paul, Philippi meant Lydia and her household, the local jailer and his family, a slave girl, Epaphroditus, Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement.2 Other Macedonian friends were Gaius, Aristarchus, Secundus, and Sopater.3 When the apostle writes of Asia, he has in mind fellow-Christians in Ephesus, including Tychicus, Trophimus, Onesiphorus’ family, Carpus, and at times Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla.4 Elsewhere in the region he was mindful of Epaphras, Onesimus, Archippus, Philemon, Apphia, Nymphas, and Eutychus.5
     Galatia was the home of Lois, Eunice, Timothy, Gaius of Derbe, and Crescens.6 Achaia is where Paul had developed a close bond with Crispus and Stephanas and their respective households, Sosthenes, hospitable Gaius, Fortunatus, Achaicus, Erastus, Quartus, Dionysius, Damaris, and servant-minded Phoebe.7 And there were many other places and many other persons firmly embedded in the apostle’s heart, though not enough ink and papyrus and time to record them all. 
     Reading the New Testament through the eyes of a missionary makes a big difference. Potentially boring geographical details take on new life and meaning as one recognizes the precious souls these places represent. Providing everlasting significance to our sometimes underappreciated maps and geography studies is the simple reminder that the Macedonians had names.8 “For God so loved the world …” 
--Kevin L. Moore

     1 Macedonia (Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 16:5; 2 Cor. 1:16; 2:13; 7:5; 8:1; 9:2, 4; 11:9; Phil. 4:15; 1 Thess. 1:7, 8; 4:10; 1 Tim. 1:3; cf. Acts 16:10; 19:21; 20:1, 3); Achaia (Rom. 15:26; 16:5 [KJV]; 1 Cor. 16:15; 2 Cor. 1:1; 9:2; 11:10; 1 Thess. 1:7, 8; cf. Acts 18:12, 27; 19:21); Asia (Rom. 16:5 [ESV]; 1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Cor. 1:8; cf. Acts 19:10, 22, 26; 20:4, 16, 18); Galatia (1 Cor. 16:1; Gal. 1:2; 2 Tim. 4:10; cf. Acts 16:6; 18:23). We could also add Cilicia and Syria (Gal. 1:21; cf. Acts 15:41; 18:18; 21:3, 39; 22:3; 23:34), Judea (Rom. 15:31; 2 Cor. 1:16; Gal. 1:22; 1 Thess. 2:14; cf. Acts 26:20), and even Rome (Rom. 1:7; cf. Acts 19:21; 28:16; 2 Tim. 1:17).
     2 Acts 16:14-16, 27-34; Philippians 2:25; 4:2, 3.
     3 Acts 19:29; 20:4; cf. Acts 27:2; Col. 4:10; Philem. 24. It is possible that Sopater of Acts 20:4 is Sosipater of Rom. 16:21.
     4 Acts 18:18-26; 20:4; 21:29; 1 Tim. 1:3, 16; 2 Tim. 4:12, 13, 19, 20.
     5 Acts 20:9; Col. 1:7; 4:9, 12, 15, 17; Philem. 1. According to Rom. 16:5 in the Alexandrian Greek text and the Latin Vulgate, Epaenetus was among the earliest converts in Asia; cf. ESV, HCSB, ISV, N/ASV, NIV, N/RSV.
     6 Acts 16:1; 20:4; 2 Timothy 1:5; 4:10.
     7 Acts 17:34; 18:8, 17; Rom. 16:1, 23; 1 Cor. 1:1, 14, 16; 16:17; 2 Tim. 4:20. According to Rom. 16:5 in the Byzantine Greek text, Epaenetus was among the earliest converts in Achaia and thus conceivably a member of Stephanus’ household (1 Cor. 16:15); cf. N/KJV, RAV.
     8 Wayne Stiles observes: “Those of us who seek to understand the meaning of the Bible strongly believe in interpreting a passage in its context. But context is more than words. When one reads the Bible, it becomes clear how geography is the stage on which the redemptive narrative takes place” (“What Biblical Geography Can Do for Your Spiritual Life,” <Link>).

Image credit: Claude Vignon’s St. Paul the Apostle, <>.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Biblical Doctrine of Divorce and Remarriage: Part 3 of 3

Relevant Scriptures continued:

9. 1 Corinthians 7:10-16. Paul responds to a letter the Corinthians had written, asking for his advice on various matters including marriage (v. 1). He states in v. 2 that marriage is to be monogamous, between a man and a woman; sexual relations are confined to the marriage relationship, and sexual activity in any other context constitutes immorality. He further affirms that the marriage bond is for life (v. 39). “Now to the married…” (vv. 10-11) is in contrast to the unmarried (v. 8), applicable to the general state of marriage.1 Paul can give an apostolic directive (paraggéllō) because the Lord himself gave general marriage instruction during his earthly ministry (see Part 2). A wife is not to chōrízō = “depart from” (NKJ), “separate from” (RSV) or “leave” (NAS) her husband (v. 10b). This could be synonymous with divorce,2 as the separated state is described as “unmarried” (v. 11). The parallel admonition to the husband is to not “send away” or “divorce” (aphíēmi) his wife (v. 11), while “abandon” is also a possible nuance (cf. Mark 14:50). “But even if she does depart” (i.e. ignore the injunction) or ‘if she is separated’ (i.e. already in this state), there are only two scriptural options: (a) remain unmarried, or (b) be reconciled to her husband (v. 11, cf. v. 39). The husband likewise is not to “send away” or “divorce” or “abandon” his wife (v. 11c).
     “But to the rest [loipós, cf. 11:34],” i.e. the rest of the situations the Corinthians were asking about, viz. specific cases of believers married to unbelievers (vv. 12-16). “I, not the Lord, say…” Jesus did not specifically address religiously-mixed marriages, about which the Corinthians had particular concern, so Paul does. They had misunderstood Paul’s teaching about not associating with immoral people (5:9-10), so some were probably wondering if a Christian married to a non-Christian should get out of this marriage; after all, the Law of Moses forbad religiously-mixed marriages (Ex. 34:11-16; Deut. 7:1-4). Paul says that a Christian is not to “divorce” or “abandon” (aphíēmi) an unbelieving spouse, assuming the unbeliever is willing to remain in the marriage (vv. 12-14). The unbeliever is ‘sanctified’ by his/her spouse (in the context of the marriage), i.e. the unbeliever is set apart from other worldly persons (e.g. fornicators) by the simple fact that he/she is married and is thus not committing immorality in this relationship (v. 14a). Paul gives reassurance that this union is sanctioned by God by the simple fact that your children are ‘clean,’ ‘holy,’ i.e. not illegitimate or born out of wedlock (v. 14b).
     “But if the unbeliever departs” (NKJ) or “leaves” (NAS, NIV) or “separates” (ESV) [chōrízō, cf. vv. 10, 11] (vv. 15-16), let him go, assuming that he is taking the initiative and is determined to leave (cf. vv. 10-13); “the brother or the sister is not [ou] under bondage3 [dedoúlōtai, from doulóō = to ‘enslave’] in such [cases/matters]”; “In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved …” (ESV). The word doulóō occurs 133 times in the NT and is never used with reference to the marriage bond; it refers to the bondage of slavery (cf. v. 23). The word for marriage bond, used twice in this chapter (vv. 27, 39), is déō (cf. Rom. 7:2). The perfect tense of ou dedoúlōtai conveys the sense of a past action with continuing results = the brother or sister ‘stands in a position of not having been enslaved,’ i.e., he/she is not now nor has he/she ever been in the bondage of slavery (to this spouse).
     This verse does not say that a deserted Christian spouse is automatically loosed from the marriage bond and is therefore free to marry someone else. This common misinterpretation is known as “the Pauline privilege,” i.e., Paul supposedly gives an additional reason, to what Jesus had specified (Matt. 5:32; 19:9), for the acceptable dissolution of marriage. But this is incompatible with the following: (a) remarriage is never considered in this chapter except in the case of a widow (vv. 8-9, 39); (b) if Paul is giving another exception, he is at variance with Jesus; (c) Paul never says the marriage bond is dissolved (N.B. v. 39, “a wife is bound [déō] by law as long as her husband lives”); (d) the divine rule for marriage is no severance at all, but if it happens anyway the only scriptural options are to remain unmarried or be reconciled (vv. 10-11); (e) the perfect tense of ou dedoúlōtai shows that enslavement to the spouse is a state the abandoned Christian has never been in; but this person has been married, therefore ou dedoúlōtai cannot be a reference to the termination of the marriage bond.
     This verse does say that a Christian who is abandoned by an unbelieving spouse is not enslaved as in a master-slave relationship; i.e. you are not obligated to keep your spouse from leaving no matter what the cost. “But God has called us/you to peace” = the Christian is to gracefully accept his/her situation even if he/she has been abandoned by an unbelieving spouse (cf. Rom. 12:18). ‘How do you know whether you will save your spouse?’ (v. 16). In view of v. 15, Paul may be suggesting here that instead of trying to force an unbelieving spouse to stay with you, it is better to keep the peace by letting him/her leave, since it is unlikely that you will save him/her. In view of vv. 12-14, Paul may be suggesting here that if possible one should stay with an unbelieving spouse in the hopes of saving him/her (cf. Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:1), but v. 15 shows that it is not always possible. This could be a double nuance, to be applied to whatever situation is relevant.

Concluding Statement:

     If for sexual infidelity, divorce is a divinely-granted dissolution of marital obligations for the one who has been cheated on, thus freeing him/her to marry another eligible person. On the other hand, divorce is a human innovation if for any reason other than sexual unfaithfulness; it is void of divine sanction and therefore terminates none of the marital responsibilities of either husband or wife.The sexual sin of adultery is therefore committed when one so divorced enters into a marital union with someone else.

--Kevin L. Moore

     1 Because of what follows, many commentators try to limit this instruction to a marriage in which both partners are Christians. However, to reach that conclusion one must read further down in the text, draw this conclusion, then go back to vv. 10-11 and make that application (no doubt very confusing to those who first heard this passage publicly read!). Since it would be more natural for a writer to specify a particular type of marriage if that were his point (as in vv. 12 ff.), the general phrase “to the married” is most obviously inclusive of all marriages.
     2 In Mark’s account of the Lord’s teaching, the woman as well as the man may initiate the divorce (10:11-12), which is consistent with Roman law. At Corinth some may have been considering divorcing their spouses in order to live a celibate life.
     3 Or “bound” (NIV, N/RSV, REB), “under no compulsion” (NEB) or “obligation” (McCord).
     4 Edwin S. Jones, “The Biblical Definition of Divorce,” in Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage, ed. Jim Laws (Memphis, TN: Getwell Church of Christ, 1992): 254-67.

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