2 Peter (Part 3)

2 Peter (Part 3)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of II Peter in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an essentially literal translation, and should be read as something of a commentary.

The Liars

There have always been liars who claim to be speaking on God’s behalf, so you’ll encounter them, too. They’ll secretly teach things that will wreck your faith. They’ll even disown the one who saved them, but they’ll be destroyed soon. They don’t have moral restraint, so a lot of people will follow them. This will make the world think of us as hypocrites. They don’t even have your best interests in mind! They’ll take advantage of you and lie to you. They will face inescapable consequences. God didn’t even give angels a free pass when they sinned. He sent them to a dark place where they’ll stay until judgment. God didn’t give the ancient world a free pass. In fact, only Noah and his family survived the flood that destroyed everything else. God didn’t give Sodom and Gomorrah a free pass, either. He completely destroyed them as a warning to everyone who might be interested in living like they did. Lot was a good man and he was extremely upset by how everyone in his city was living. God rescued him from the bad conditions he had to live through, so he knows how to rescue us from temptation. He also knows how to take care of godless people who do whatever they want and reject authority. They’ll have to answer to him. These people don’t even get nervous when they insult angelic beings! Even though angels are considerably more powerful than humans, they wouldn’t ask God to condemn those liars with that kind of animosity! These liars are just like dumb animals. They act on every impulse, they insult in ignorance, and they will be destroyed. They’ll gratify their passions in broad daylight. They drag you down with them, and they’re excited about that! They’re a cancer. They are obsessed with gratifying their impulses and they won’t stop. They drag down people who aren’t strong in their faith. They only care about themselves and they’ve abandoned the right path. Remember Balaam? He enjoyed living by his own rules, too. He was reprimanded by a donkey, of all things, so that he’d get a grip on himself. Donkeys aren’t even supposed to talk, but God did whatever it took to make sure he’d get back under control. These liars are like wells that don’t have water. They’re like rain that gets blown around by the wind. They’re destined to spend forever in the darkest place. They lie with confidence and bring down people who have a hard enough time staying pure as it is. They promise freedom, even though they’re slaves. After all, we’re slaves to whatever controls us. This is really bad for them. If you learn about God and escape the influence of worldliness, but fall right back into your old ways, you’re much worse off. It’s better to not know God at all than to know him and then reject him. You’ve heard the old saying, “Dogs eat their own puke,” and, “Pigs get right back into the mud after they’ve had a bath.” That’s what these liars have done. 

Persecution And Hope (Part One)

Persecution And Hope (Part One)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

Gaius Cornelius Tacitus (AD 56-120) wrote two secular historical works describing the reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, and Gabba, Otho, Vespasian, and Vitellius (Annals and Histories).
 
He was the son-in-law of Agricola, the Roman General responsible for Roman expansion throughout Europe, especially northern Britain. He was not a Christian by any means, but a patriotic Roman with a family heritage tied to its conquests.
 
In the following excerpt, Tacitus mentions Jesus (referred to as Christus) and details the persecution of early Christians. I have abbreviated some of the excerpt (ellipsis), given contextual explanation (brackets), and added emphasis (bolded text). The information in his writings is fascinating, but I found the following to be shareable.
 
“…The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods [because of the burning of Rome], and recourse was had to the Sibylline books… But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order.
 
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition [of resurrection], thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome…
 
Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
 
Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.”
 
Annals of Tacitus Book XV
THE DOG AT CHURCH

THE DOG AT CHURCH

Neal Pollard

The interesting visitor at our devotional last night, a chocolate lab named Bear that someone dropped off with Aaron and Kylee Melton as she dealt with a personal crisis, reminded me of another “dog at church” story from my youth.  Back in the mid-’70s, when my dad was the preacher at the Rockmart, Georgia, church of Christ, there was a Collie dog that apparently knew our schedule of services.  Faithfully, rain or shine, summer or winter, she would be out on the front steps greeting all the members and visitors.  She wasn’t allowed inside the building, but she’d dutifully lay on those steps until we were finished with services. Then, she would cheerfully bid us all goodbye.  When the building was locked up and everyone had left, this convicted canine would make her way back home.  I don’t know how many years this went on for, but the notoriety of the “church of Christ” dog was seemingly known throughout the community.

One Sunday, my dad preached a sermon about this dog.  His application was brilliant and uncanny.  She was always “at church,” no matter what.  Surely she was mistreated or had a cross word hurled at her at some point, since, incredibly, not everyone is a dog person. Her faithful presence was a great example to the community.  She greeted everyone freely, not just a select few. She didn’t seem to distinguish by age, gender, race, or income status. If she was not there, as it apparently was on an occasion or two, everyone noticed and was concerned. He probably said more, but that I remember this much nearly 40 years later indicates how impressive the object lesson was.

Paul told the Colossian Christians that their faith and love was renowned and well-reported (Col. 1:4). The Jerusalem church very quickly had favor among all the people (Acts 2:47). The Thessalonians were a notable example throughout their region of the world (1 Th. 1:7).  As we line up our goals and resolutions for this new year, why not determine, as the whole body and as individual members of it, to make that clear and deep an impression on the people in our lives and those who chance to encounter us.  Dogs are renowned for their faithfulness.  So should Christians be (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2).