|Vol. 13 No. 10 October 2011||
Donald R. Fox
To act hastily and not consider the consequence of our actions is a common problem. The word “clouded” is used to describe blurred aims and decisions. We have observed local and national governments acting strangely many times because of blurred and unclear rulings. When one has been misguided and/or there are fixed standards to guide the decision making process, the result will be clouded. To act on clouded and unclear action policy is foolish.
We Need to Let the Dust Settle
I learned to drive a car on the back roads in northeast Mississippi. There were still a lot of dirt roads in Mississippi in the 1950’s, and dust was always a problem, especially in the hot and dry summertime. Driving produced a thick cloud of dust. When a vehicle passed, you better slow down because the dust was blinding. We remember an idiom, “let the dust settle.” Could it be that this figure of speech originated from driving on dirt roads in Mississippi? From a practical point of view, when we are faced with an important decision to make, a problem, a quarrel or the like, “let the dust settle” before speaking or acting. Our words communicate our thoughts and our inner feelings, be it good or bad. Do we blurt out a comment before we think? Oh, that gets us in a lot of trouble, does it not? Blurred thinking and planning will only cause greater problems.
Calm, Thoughtful Action and Speech Needed
“Wise men lay up knowledge; But the mouth of the foolish is a present destruction” (Proverbs 10:14 ASV). “Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).
And the tongue is a fire: the world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of nature, and is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beasts and birds, of creeping things and things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind. But the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God: out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:6-10)
Commentary on James 3:10 – “out of the
mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My
brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
In the admonition here and in the preceding verse (James 3:9) MacKnight thought that James might have had reference to a widespread custom of early Christian times, in which Christians were “cursed bitterly in Jewish synagogues.” It would appear, however, that it is not particularly the sins of Jews in cursing Christians that James dealt with, but the habit of some “brethren” engaged in the awful business of cursing men! All such unchristian conduct is vigorously denounced. (Coffman 77)
Prudence over Rude Speech and Misguided Action
I have also seen wisdom under the sun on this wise, and it seemed great unto me: There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroyeth much good. (Ecclesiastes 9:13-18)
Coffman, James Burton. Commentary on James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude. Abilene: ACU P., 1984.
D. Gene West
In the 23rd chapter of Matthew, we have recorded the scathing denunciation of the Pharisees that Jesus delivered to their faces just hours before He was taken by wicked hands, crucified and slain. Near the end of this denunciation, Jesus made a prophecy regarding what the Pharisees, and other Jews, were going to do to His disciples in the future. He said, “Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city…”(Matthew 23:34 NKJV). Jesus intended to send not only the apostles out to preach the Gospel to the disobedient Jews, but He would send them prophets, wise men and scribes as well. As we read the New Testament, we find men who had the gift of prophecy, that of wisdom and those who wrote to the followers of Jesus. These men, along with women and perhaps even young people, were sacrificed on the altars of martyrdom all over Palestine and other areas of the world.
There are those who deny that the persecution of the Christians by the Jews was intense and place great emphasis on that of the Romans. While it is true that the Romans did persecute the Christians with great intensity, especially during the reign of Nero, we must not forget that the persecution of Christians by the Jews, which is mentioned some thirty-three times in the New Testament, was the first, and in many ways the most intense persecution of the disciples of Christ. This persecution started in Acts Four, and by the time we reach the 7th chapter of that Book, it had reached murderous proportions.
The likelihood is great that the early Jewish Christians expected this kind of treatment at the hands of their own countrymen, because Jesus had predicted in the above-quoted words that it would come to pass. He told the Pharisees, “some of them you will kill.” They certainly did that in the slaying of Stephen, James and others even in the city of Jerusalem itself. Jesus also said they would“crucify some,” and they did that to the Lord Himself. Though they had not the right to do it themselves, they pressured Pilate, claiming Jesus was an insurgent King until he relented and had the Lord put to death in this manner. Jesus also told the Pharisees that they would “scourge”some of the disciples in their synagogues, and they did that to Jesus Himself (Matthew 27:26) though not in one of their synagogues. Incidentally, Jesus had also told His apostles in Matthew 10:17 that the Jews would do this to them. Paul himself, while still Saul the persecutor, said, “in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You” (Acts 22:19). So, the prophecy of our Lord came to pass at the hands of Saul before he was converted. Then, Jesus told the Pharisees they would “persecute” His disciples “from city to city.” Again, we see that Saul of Tarsus did that, not only in Jerusalem but in other cities as well. The Book of Acts also reveals that Paul himself was persecuted in one city right after another during his missionary tours through Asia Minor. Those who were behind these persecutions in Gentile cities were the Jews who lived there and who refused to hear the Gospel of Christ and accept it.
Consequently, the prophecy that Jesus made upon this occasion did indeed come true. The Jews, both Pharisees and others, did indeed kill the early disciples and persecuted them from one place to another all over Palestine, Asia Minor and even into Rome itself. We have a tendency to forget these matters and apply the persecutions of the New Testament history only to the Romans. This is a mistake, for Roman persecution, in the 1st Century played only a small part in the overall persecution of the saints. Even when the Romans were involved, before the time of Nero, they were involved at the behest of the Jews. Jesus would never have told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:34 that they were to be the persecutors of the faith of Christ, if that was not going to happen. We should keep the persecutions of the 1st Century in their proper context and not forget who led the way.