We note that if choosing to do the hard thing of rebuking a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means saving his or her soul, then the opposite is also true. Failing to rebuke a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means giving them over to the possibility of death.
Yaakov 5:1-20 (Author’s convergent translation from Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew)
1 Lead, go to, now, you wealthy people, weep and wail, lament over the wretchedness, miseries of yourselves which are coming. 2 Your riches are corrupted, decaying and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver is corroded, and their poison will follow as a testimony, witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in these last days! 4 Behold, now, pay attention the wages of the workers who harvested your lands, which you have defrauded those who, cry out; and the outcry of those who reaped has entered into the ears of the LORD Who goes warring. 5 You have lived in luxury on the earth and for pleasure; you have feed your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one; he offered you no resistance. 7 Be patient, therefore Jewish brothers and sisters, until the coming of the LORD. The vinedresser waits expectantly for the precious fruit of the land, with longsuffering patience, until he receives the early and latter rains. 8 You also be patient, longsuffering; strengthen, establish your hearts, core being, for the coming of the LORD is near, close at hand. 9 Don’t hold grudges against one another Jewish brothers and sisters, lest you face condemnation; behold, now, pay attention the Judge is standing before, in the door/opening. 10 Receive, my Jewish brothers and sisters, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the LORD as an example of affliction, distress, trouble, and of patient longsuffering. 11 behold, now, pay attention we count those blessed, happy who endure, are patient, abiding. You have heard of the patient endurance of Iyov[H] (Job) and have seen the goal of the LORD, that the LORD is full of compassion, extremely kind and mercifully tender. 12 Now before, at the head of all things, essences, substances, individual and collective, my Jewish brothers and sisters, do not swear, not by the heavens or by earth or with any other oath; now your yes is yes, and your no, no, so that you do not fall into hypocrisy. 13 Is anyone among you afflicted, suffering, troubled? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you weak, sick, diseased, impotent? He should call for the elders of the gathered believers and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the LORD; 15 and the prayer, vow of the faith, trust, belief will save, make whole, heal the one who is sick, weary, faint and the LORD will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, missing the mark set by God’s holiness they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sin offences to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed, made whole. Much can be accomplished in the prayer request of a righteous person, when it is made of effect, strengthened. 17 Eliyahu[H] (Elijah) was a man subject to passions just as we are, and he prayed praying that it might not rain, and it didn’t rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain and the land produced its fruit. 19 My Jewish brothers and sisters, if anyone among you is deceived, wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, 20 let him know, perceive, understand that the one who turns a sinner from the delusion, error of his way, that same one saves his soul, life, breath from death and covers a multitude of sins.
Yaakov 5:1-20 (Line upon line)
1 Lead, go to, (age[G]) now (nun[G]), you wealthy people (plousios[G]), weep (klaiō[G]) and wail, lament (ololuzō[G], za’aku heiy liylo[H]) over (epi[G]) the wretchedness, miseries (ho talaipōria[G], latzarot[H]) of yourselves which are coming (ho eperchomai[G], etchem[H]). 2 Your riches (ploutos[G], ashrechem[H]) are corrupted, decaying (sēpō[G]) and your garments (himation[G], yochal[H]) have become moth-eaten (sētobrōtos[G]).
1 Lead, go to, now, you wealthy people, weep and wail, lament over the wretchedness, miseries of yourselves which are coming. 2 Your riches are corrupted, decaying and your garments have become moth-eaten.
Again, the temptation to relegate this part of Yaakov’s teaching to outsiders rather than Jewish believers is unfounded. There are always rich among us, there will always be poor believers. Although the language is harsh it is also familiar. Yaakov knows he is speaking to Jews who are immersed in Torah, the prophets and writings of HaShem. The Tanakh uses similar terminology in Psalm 73 and Isaiah 5:8-9. These words are an admonition with the intent to encourage repentance, a tishuvah (turning back) to right action in Messiah.
“Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.
9 The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing:
“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.”
Isaiah 5:8-9 NIV
Yaakov speaks not to all rich people but specifically those who become rich through corrupt practices, and those who trust in their riches rather than in God through Messiah. This is made clear by the context of the latter part of the previous chapter and is emphasised by the present phrasing “Your riches are corrupted” which describes the fruit of wicked intentions. Further, verse 4 describes the withholding of the wages of employees. Additionally Yaakov is speaking specifically to those corrupted rich people within the Messianic Jewish communities of the early body of believers. Meaning that in some cases they are withholding the wages of fellow believers and in those cases where they are withholding the wages of employees from outside the community they are bearing false witness of Messiah.
This is a warning given to believers with the intention of preventing their being led astray by the love of worldly wealth.
3 Your gold (chrusos[G], hazahav[H]) and your silver (arguros[G], hakesef[H]) is corroded (katioō[G]), and their poison (ios[G]) will follow (esomai[G]) as a testimony, witness (marturion[G], le’eid[H]) against you and will consume (phagō[G]) your flesh (sarx[G], besarchem[H]) like fire (pur[G], kaeiysh[H]). You have stored up treasure (thēsaurizō[G]) in these last days (eschatos hēmera[G], acharit-hayamim[H])!
3 Your gold and your silver is corroded, and their poison will follow as a testimony, witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in these last days!
“Last days,” This is an allusion to the imminent judgement of God and a testimony against the ludicrous behaviour of hording wealth only to see it destroyed. The treasure that the corrupted rich are storing is temporary, unsatisfying. Yaakov will soon call for patient trust in Messiah, a position that will bear fruitful and eternal treasure. Those being rebuked here could be likened to a drug addict storing up drugs prior to an overdose.
4 Behold, now, pay attention (idou[G], Hinei[H]) the wages (ho misthos[G], sechar[H]) of the workers (ergatēs[G], hapoaliym[H]) who harvested (amaō[G]) your lands (chōra[G]), which you have defrauded (apostereō[G]) those who, cry out (krazō[G]); and the outcry (boē[G]) of those who reaped (theridō[G], hakotzriym[H]) has entered into (eiserchomai[G]) the ears (ho ous[G], veazneiy[H]) of the LORD Who goes warring (kurios sabaōth[G], YHVH Tzevaot[H]).
4 Behold, now, pay attention the wages of the workers who harvested your lands, which you have defrauded those who cry out; and the outcry of those who reaped has entered into the ears of the LORD Who goes warring.
This is straight out of the Torah, its Biblical Judaism 101:
“The wages of a hired man shall not stay with you until morning.” – Leviticus 19:13
See also: Deuteronomy 24:14-15 and Malachi 3:5
5 You have lived in luxury (truphaō[G]) on the earth (ho gē[G], ba’aretz[H]) and for pleasure (spatalaō[G]); you have feed (trephō[G]) your hearts (kardia[G], lib’chem[H]) in a day (hēmera[G], leyom[H]) of slaughter (sphagē[G], tivchah[H]). 6 You have condemned (katadikazō[G], hirsha’tem[H]) and murdered (phoneuō[G], hamiytem[H]) the righteous one (dikaios[G], et hatzadiyk[H]); he offered you no resistance (antitassomai[G], lo amad bifneiychem[H]).
5 You have lived in luxury on the earth and for pleasure; you have feed your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one; he offered you no resistance.
We note that those being reprimanded are those who have lived “for pleasure”. This of course is the definition of Hedonism, a form of Idolatry.
“you have feed your hearts in a day of slaughter.” This can be understood to mean that those being accused have continued to fatten themselves while others are slaughtered, or that they are storing up earthly goods for themselves thinking they have a long future before them, not knowing that like the rich hoarder of Yeshua’s mashal, parable (Luke 12:13-21) they would soon lose their lives and be unable to enjoy their temporal riches.
It’s important to remember that this is not an inevitable outcome but a warning intended to produce repentance.
HaShem hears the cry of the spilled blood of a righteous one and the agony of the oppressed. This too is a familiar refrain from the Tanakh; Genesis 4:10, Exodus 3:7
The text is not accusing the corrupt wealthy of the synagogue of murdering people, rather, as is taught elsewhere in the New Testament, Yaakov is conveying the idea that when a believer mistreats the oppressed and poor it is as if he is crucifying Messiah again. This is why the text reads “You have condemned and murdered the righteous one; he offered you no resistance.”
7 Be patient (makrothumeō[G]), therefore (oun[G]) Jewish brothers and sisters (adelphos[G], achay[H]), until the coming (ho Parousia[G], ad bo[H]) of the LORD (ho kurios[G], HaAdon[H]). The vinedresser (geōrgos[G], haikar[H]) waits expectantly (ekdechomai[G], yechakeh[H]) for the precious (ho timios[G], hatovah[H]) fruit (karpos[G], litvuat[H]) of the land (ho gē[G], ha’adamah[H]), with longsuffering patience (makrothumeō[G]), until he receives (lambanō[G]) the early, autumn (prōimos[G]) and latter, spring (opsimos[G]) rains (huetos[G]). 8 You also (kai[G]) be patient, longsuffering (makrothumeō[G]); strengthen, establish (stērizō[G], amtzu[H]) your hearts, core being (kardia[G], lib’chem[H]), for the coming (ho Parousia[G]) of the face LORD (ho kurios[G], peneiy HaAdon[H]) is near, close at hand (eggizō[G], hineih baiym[H]).
7 Be patient, therefore Jewish brothers and sisters, until the coming of the LORD. The vinedresser waits expectantly for the precious fruit of the land, with longsuffering patience, until he receives the early autumn and latter spring rains. 8 You also be patient, longsuffering; strengthen, establish your hearts, core being, for the coming of the LORD is near, close at hand.
Those who work the land and do business are to do so with patient expectation of the coming return of the King Messiah Yeshua. Not seeking the wealth of this temporary world but rather practicing longsuffering in waiting for the eternal wealth of the Olam Haba (world to come).
We note that the establishing of the heart, core being, is the result of patiently trusting in Messiah and His promised return. His return is nearer each moment, now and yet fully manifest.
Patience, not boasting, is the path of the believer. It’s not patience in and off itself, rather it’s patience born of hope, that hope is in the Messiah’s return.
“Fruit of the land” is a quotation from the brachah (blessing) for eating berries and vegetables. A vinedresser or farmer’s patience is rewarded by the harvest.
The autumn rains are mentioned first, this was contrary to the rhythm of the Greek world which measures it’s year using different spiritual markers. This is counterintuitive to the Gentile mind which understands early in relationship to spring and late in relationship to fall. However, the Biblical Hebrew calendar understands the first rains at Sukkot (fall) as early, and the rains following Pesach (spring) as late.
The Greek terms used refer to the autumn or fall rains as “early” and the spring rains as “latter”. This is because Yaakov is using Greek terms to convey a Hebraic idea. This is consistent with the rainfall in the land of Israel. For the most part it rains significantly no more than twice a year in Israel; the early, or former rain, comes shortly after Sukkot (the festival of shelters) in the month Chesvan, (approx. October). The latter rain is in Nisan, (approx. March) prior to the first harvest (barley).
The Jewish High Holy days (along with the early rains) occur at the end of the year approaching fall and winter, this is a metaphor for judgment. The spring rains coincide with Yom ha-bikkurim—day of first fruit, this is a metaphor for new life, resurrection. Again Yaakov is reminding Jewish believers in the diaspora that their roots are of the land and are intrinsically linked to the spiritual year as laid out in the Torah. Death, judgment and new life continue to be part of their journey. In the end it is the hope of new life, eternal life, which they must focus on.
“for the coming of the Lord is near, close at hand.” Perhaps not near in terms of earth history, but in terms of eternal consciousness, very near. Therefore His return is now nearer still.
9 Don’t hold grudges (stenazō[G]), against one another Jewish brothers and sisters (adelphos[G], achay[H]), lest you face condemnation (katakrinō[G], pen-tishafeitu[H]); behold, now, pay attention (idou[G], hineih[H]) the Judge (ho kritēs[G], hadayan[H]) is standing before (pro[G]), in the door/opening (bapatach[H]). 10 Receive (lambanō[G]), my Jewish brothers and sisters (mou adelphos[G], achay[H]), the prophets (ho prophētēs[G], hanevi’iym[H]) who have spoken in the name (ho onoma[G], beshem[H]) of the LORD (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]) as an example (hupodeigma[G]) of affliction, distress, trouble (kakopatheia[G]), and of patient longsuffering (makrothumia[G]).
9 Don’t hold grudges, against one another Jewish brothers and sisters, lest you face condemnation; behold, now, pay attention the Judge is standing before, in the door/opening. 10 Receive, my Jewish brothers and sisters, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the LORD as an example of affliction, distress, trouble, and of patient longsuffering.
The phrase “lest you be condemned” is specifically referring to one judged, found wanting and sentenced, and not simply to the act of judgement.
“The Judge is standing at the door,” In God Yeshua is Head and Judge of the body of believers. A similar warning is given to the body of believers of Laodicea:
“14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the [k]Origin of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have no need of anything,” and you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to apply to your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne. 22 The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” -Revelation 3:14-22 NASB
11 behold, now, pay attention (idou[G], hineih[H]) we count those blessed, happy (makarizō[G]) who endure, are patient, abiding (hupomenō[G]). You have heard of the patient endurance (hupomonē[G], savlanut[H]) of Iyov[H] (Job: persecuted, treated as an enemy) and have seen (eidō[G]) the goal (telos[G]) of the LORD (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]), that the LORD (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]) is full of compassion, extremely kind (polusplagchnos[G]) and mercifully tender (oiktirmōn[G]).
11 behold, now, pay attention we count those blessed, happy who endure, are patient, abiding. You have heard of the patient endurance of Iyov[H] (Job: persecuted, treated as an enemy) and have seen the goal of the LORD, that the LORD is full of compassion, extremely kind and mercifully tender.
It's interesting to note that Seder Olam Rabbah (c. 3. p. 9.) one of the traditional commentaries of the rabbis says that Job suffered for 12 months. This is based on the Hebrew text of Job 7:3.
Here perseverance is the key. One might become impatient, but like Job we must overcome impatience with perseverance, trusting, like Job, in the compassionate mercy of God, the ultimate positive outcome, Messiah’s return and an eternity of prosperity in God.
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;” -Job 19:25-26 NIV
12 Now before, at the head (pro[G], verosh[H]) of all things, essences, substances, individual and collective (pas[G], davar[H]), my Jewish brothers and sisters (mou adelphos[G], achay[H]), do not swear (omnuō[G]), not by the heavens (ouranos[G], vashamayim[H]) or by earth (gē[G], va’aretz[H]) or with any other oath (horkos[G]); now (de[G]) your yes (nai[G], hein[H]) is yes, and your no (ou[G], lo[H]), no, so that you do not fall into hypocrisy (hupokrisis[G]).
12 Now before, at the head of all things, essences, substances, individual and collective, my Jewish brothers and sisters, do not swear, not by the heavens or by earth or with any other oath; now your yes is yes, and your no, no, so that you do not fall into hypocrisy.
“Now before” Before you address all that is in error among you, and keeping the righteous patience of the prophets, turn away from vain oaths and deception and firmly establish a practice of keeping your word without even a hint of hypocrisy.
This is similar to Yeshua’s teaching in Matthew 5:33-37 and links to the frivolous boasting of the traders in 4:13-17. Simply put, oath taking was a big part of Jewish culture at the time and had become a means for justifying daily deception as a lesser form of communication. In short, Yaakov is saying “Speak the truth and don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping.”
13 Is anyone among you afflicted, suffering, troubled (kakopatheō[G])? He should pray (proseuchomai[G], yitfaleil[H]). Is anyone cheerful (euthumeō[G])? He should sing psalms (psallō[G], yezameir[H]). 14 Is anyone among you weak, sick, diseased, impotent (astheneō[G])? He should call (proskaleomai[G], yikra[H]) for the elders (presbuteros[G], zikneiy[H]) of the gathered believers (ekklēsia[G], hakehilah[H]) and they are to pray (proseuchomai[G], veyitplalu[H]) over him, anointing (aleiphō[G], viysuchuhu[H]) him with oil (elaion[G], shemen[H]) in the name (ho onoma[G], beshem[H]) of the Lord (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]);
13 Is anyone among you afflicted, suffering, troubled? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you weak, sick, diseased, impotent? He should call for the elders of the gathered believers and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the LORD;
Both prayer and singing are forms of conversation with God. It seems that Yaakov’s best advice is this, “Be in relationship with the Creator.” As opposed to doing in relationship with the world.
Both the weary and the ill are offered anointing here. Oil has been used by Israel’s priests to anoint her Kings for centuries. It is a symbol of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and the rich blessing and healing of God.
"whoever has a sick person in his house, let him go to a wise man, and he will seek mercy for him.'' -R. Phinehas ben Chama (Talmud Bavliy Bava Bathra, fol. 116. 1.)
15 and the prayer, vow (euchē[G], utefilat[H]) of the faith, trust, belief (pistis[G], haemunah[H]) will save, make whole, heal (sōzō[G], toshiya[H]) the one who is sick, weary, faint (kamnō[G]) and the Lord (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]) will raise him up (egeirō[G], yekiymenu[H]), and if he has committed sins, missing the mark set by God’s holiness (hamartia[G], chata[H]) they will be forgiven (aphiēmi[G], yisalach[H]) him.
15 and the prayer, vow of the faith, trust, belief will save, make whole, heal the one who is sick, weary, faint and the LORD will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, missing the mark set by God’s holiness they will be forgiven him.
The faith spoken of here is not faith in healing, rather it is faith in the Healer, Messiah Yeshua/God the Father. This prayer will be the vehicle for revelation to the needy one. He will be delivered from needless toil and lifted up or awakened from his disappear or illness, made whole—not necessarily physically well but whole/complete, spiritually speaking. As a result of this prayer of faith in Messiah, sin will be covered and forgiven losing its temporal authority.
16 Therefore, confess (exomologeō[G]) your sin offences (hamartia paraptōma
[G]) to one another, and pray (euchomai[G], vehitpalalu[H]) for one another so that you may be healed, made whole (iaomai[G], teirafeiu[H]). Much (polus[G], gadol[H]) can be accomplished in the prayer request (deēsis[G], tefilat[H]) of a righteous (dikaios[G], hatzadiyk[H]) person, when it is made of effect, strengthened (energeō[G], bechazkah[H]).
16 Therefore, confess your sin offences to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed, made whole. Much can be accomplished in the prayer request of a righteous person, when it is made of effect, strengthened.
“Therefore” Because the prayer of faith in Messiah brings healing, wholeness and the forgiveness of God.
Openly vocalizing our sin as confession to one another can be a very powerful source of release from the burden of it. This is something the Catholic Church does well. It is true to say to a brother or sister, “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven.” We are not saying that we have forgiven their sins, we are simply acknowledging that through the blood covering of Messiah’s sacrifice, their sin is forgiven.
The purpose of this open confession is not to publicly humiliate or give opportunity for gossip. It should be undertaken only with trusted believers and then only by the leading of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit).
In petitioning God on behalf of one another we are to be motivated by mercy because “mercy triumphs over judgment.” Therefore we see the work of God here, denouncing false judgment and vindictiveness and announcing mercy and freedom. The result? Wholeness.
Rav Eliezar of the Talmud also teaches that the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective (Talmud Bavliy Succah, fol. 14. 1. & Yebamot, fol. 64. 1.).
17 Eliyahu[H] (My God He is YHVH) was a man (anthrōpos[G], enosh anush[H]) subject to passions (homoiopathēs[G]) just as we are, and he prayed (proseuchomai[G], vehitpaleil[H]) praying (proseuchē[G], tefilah[H]) that it might not rain (brechō[G], matar[H]), and it didn’t rain (brechō[G], matar[H]) on the land (ho ge[G], ba’aretz[H]) for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed (proseuchomai[G], vayitpaleil[H]) again, and the heavens (ouranos[G], vehashamayim[H]) gave (didōmi[G], nat’nu[H]) rain (huetos[G], matar[H]) and the land (ho ge[G], ha’aretz[H]) produced its fruit (karpos[G], et-piryah[H]).
17 Eliyahu[H] was a man subject to passions just as we are, and he prayed praying that it might not rain, and it didn’t rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain and the land produced its fruit.
It’s important to note here that the type of prayer being spoken of is a form of fervent listening. After all, the narrative concerning Eliyahu’s (Elijah’s) life tells us only that he heard from God that the heavens would be shut up, following which he heard from God again some years later that the heavens would release rain upon the land. The pattern goes like this: Listen… No rain. Listen… rain. Listen… drought and death born of idolatry. Listen… Life giving waters welling up from Messiah in you. It is the Patient, or rather, persevering Eliyahu (like the farmer of verse 7), who received the later rain.
It is interesting to note that in the account of Elijah’s prophetic word to Ahab regarding God sending rain there is no explicit mention of prayer (1 Kings 18:42). In the account Elijah goes up to the top of Mt Carmel, throws himself to the ground, puts his face between his knees. Each of these actions are considered kinetic prayer.
Our sages say “Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, to pray, and he cast himself down upon the earth, to pray for rain; and he put his face between his knees and prayed, and said to his servant, go up now, look toward the sea; and this he said while he was in his prayers" - Yarchi, Kimchi, Ralbag, & Laniado in loc.
In each action we are praying. This is why the text of Yaakov 5:17 reads “he prayed praying”. This is a Hebrew idiom employed to denote passionate and committed prayer (Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 1. & Imre Binah in ib). Elijah’s entire life, motivation, thought, action, was a living conversation with God. Yaakov encourages us with the words “Eliyahu[H] was a man subject to passions just as we are…”
Yaakov uses the example of praying for rain because it is such a significant part of Biblical Jewish practice and of the subsequent generations of Israel in the land. Many of our rabbis are recorded as having sought God for the provision of rain. Jewish tradition is filled with these accounts (Talmud Bavliy Moed Katon, fol. 28. 1. & Taanit, fol. 19. 1. 23. 1. 24. 2. 25. 2. & Yoma, fol. 53. 2.)
“The heavens gave rain” is an allusion first and foremost to the fact that God, Who is the Creator of the heavens, gave rain. Not just the physical rain that ended the drought in the land of Israel but also the cleansing rain of His Spirit bringing repentance and spiritual revival to the people of the land of Israel.
19 My Jewish brothers and sisters (mou adelphos[G], achay[H]), if anyone among you is deceived, wanders (planaō[G], yiteh[H]) from the truth (ho alētheia[G], min haemet[H]) and someone turns (epistrephō[G], yeshiyvenu[H]) him back, 20 let him know, perceive, understand (ginōskō[G], yeida-na[H]) that the one who turns (epistrephō[G], hameishiyv[H]) a sinner (hamartōlos[G], et hachotei[H]) from the delusion, error (planē[G]) of his way (hodos[G], darko[H]) that same one (autos[G]) saves (sōzō[G], yoshiya[H]) his soul, life, breath (psuchē[G], et-nafsho[H]) from death (Thanatos[G], mimavet[H]) and covers (kaluptō[G], veychaseh[H]) a multitude (plēthos[G]) of sins (hamartia[G], al-hamon peshaiym[H]).
19 My Jewish brothers and sisters, if anyone among you is deceived, wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, 20 let him know, perceive, understand that the one who turns a sinner from the delusion, error of his way that same one saves his soul, life, breath from death and covers a multitude of sins.
Finally, and with concise literary beauty, Yaakov reminds us that in Messiah we live and breathe to see others reconciled to God.
We note that if choosing to do the hard thing of rebuking a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means saving his or her soul, then the opposite is also true. Failing to rebuke a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means giving them over to the possibility of death. Offering confession and forgiveness at times means challenging others. This is why Yaakov has said previously “the one who knows to do the good and does not, he does sin”. This requires wisdom and care. Love acts to guide others away from the self-harm of sin. With our rebuke comes the good news that Mercy YHVH Himself triumphs over condemnation.
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
If we sing “Come Holy Spirit” we have already missed the point, it is the Holy Spirit in us Who sings “Welcome Yeshua, Glory to YHVH!” To promote the Holy Spirit at the expense of the Father and the Son is to blaspheme the entire Godhead.
This chapter continues the discourse of the previous two chapters and follows Yeshua’s words “rise let us go from here.” Based on these words numerous modern scholars claim that a documentary or a redactive method was applied to compile John’s Gospel. However, later scribal manipulation is not the only explanation for why Yeshua says “rise let us go from here” and then continues His discourse through to Chapter 18 of John’s Gospel where Yeshua and His disciples are said to have gone forth over the brook of the Kidron to Gan Shemanim (Gethsemane) [John 18:1].
The most likely explanation for the two allusions to “going” is that Yeshua following His calling of the disciples to rise and go, rose with His disciples, left the place where they had shared the meal, and then had begun to walk slowly through the narrow winding streets and alleyways of the city of Jerusalem, a rabbit warren today and certainly even more so in the first century. Therefore, as they walked through the city Yeshua continued to speak. Thus, as they neared the edge of the city Yeshua’s speech concludes, and we read in John 18:1 “When Yeshua had spoken these words He went with His disciples over the brook of the Kidron…” This quite literally means that the words spoken between chapters 14 and 18 were said on the west side of the Kidron. This does not mean that all of Yeshua’s words spanning chapters 14 to 18 were said in the home where the meal was eaten. Yeshua’s going over the Kidron is not the same as Yeshua’s leaving the home where He shared the meal with His disciples.
Therefore, Yeshua called His disciples to rise and go with Him (John 14:31), walked and talked with them as they made their way to the edge of Jerusalem and then down to where they would cross the brook of the Kidron valley, at which point Yeshua ended this section of speech and both He and the disciples “went over the brook of the Kidron to Gan Shemanim (Gethsemane)…”
What follows picks up again on the themes of Yeshua’s submission to the Father, His unity with the Father and the Spirit, the intrinsic connection between Himself and His disciples, His disciples’ relationship to each other, the disciple’s relationship to the world and a further illumination of the role and work of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
1“I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the vine (ampelos[G], hagefen[H]) of the immutable truth (alethinos[G], haamitiyt[H]), and My Father (ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) is the Husbandman, Tiller of the soil, Vinedresser (georegos[G], Hakoreim[H]).
In the same way that the “Servant” Messiah of Yishayahu (Isaiah 49, 52, 53 etc.) is intrinsically linked to the “Servant” Israel (Isaiah 41, 44, 48 etc.) the Vine Messiah is intrinsically linked to the vine of Israel.
Throughout the Tanakh (OT) Israel is called both the vine and the vineyard of God (Isaiah 5:1-7, 27:2-6; Jeremiah 2:21, 12:10; Ezekiel 17:5-6; Hosea 10:1; Joel 1:7; Psalm 80:8-16). Yeshua also describes the land and people of Israel as a vineyard (Matthew 21:33-43; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19). However, it is as the living manifestation of truth that the Vine Yeshua nourishes the people of God. Therefore, just as the Servant King Messiah of Isaiah comes out of and stands out as a sign to the servant people of Israel, so too the Vine Messiah comes out of and stands as a sign to the vine of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical).
A clear and precise understanding of both the ancient vine-dressing method and the distinct language describing the process is essential to understanding this text.
First, Yeshua once again makes an inference to His present deity by saying “Anochiy” (ego eimi) I AM, thus the Vine (as a figure) is intrinsically linked to the Father God while also being distinct in its representation of Yeshua.
The Father’s role in this mashal (parable, metaphor, allegory) is that of Vinedresser, an art known in old English as vine husbandry (an appropriate title given God’s relationship to Israel). We note that the Father as Vinedresser, tills the soil and acts as a Husband to the Vine (Both Messiah & Israel). He addresses the needs of the Vine and its branches which grow from the Vine. In this allegory Yeshua is conveying the spiritual reality that those who come to God through Him grow out of Him rather than toward Him. This affirms what He has taught concerning mitzvot (outworked commands) being the fruit of His Salvation and not the means of it.
Does a branch attach itself to the Vine? Of course not! The branch is feed by and grows from the Vine. It is the same with the disciple of Yeshua redeemed by grace through faith. The disciple grows from God through Messiah. We are as incapable of attaching ourselves to the Messiah (Vine) as a branch is of attaching itself to a vine, only the Vinedresser (God) can make the graft, and once grafted we feed from the source of the Vine and bear fruit, not of ourselves but of God (the Vinedresser) through Yeshua (the Vine).
We note that Yeshua as represented by the vine is not a counterfeit vine but the true Vine or Vine of truth, of God. There are different types of vines, some look appealing but bear bitter fruit. In the case of the true Vine the fruit is sweet and robust, good for the body and soul. On the other hand the fruit of the bitter vine is like a lie, it appears to be of value but when received into the body it sickens the belly and destroys the soul. Many false Messiah’s had come and would come to Israel. Therefore, Yeshua makes it clear that He alone is the true source of life and sustenance for His people.
The mashal (parable/metaphor/allegory) of the Vine and the Vinedresser concerns the ancient first century practice of tending to the grape vine. Modern methods of vine dressing notwithstanding, there are still vinedressers throughout the world who use these same ancient methods today (in particular certain Zinfandel growers in California).
The rabbis of the Kabbalah say that the Shekinah (manifest feminine glory of God) is called Gefen (a vine) [Zohar in Exod. fol. 70. 2. & Kabbalah denudata, par. 1. p. 241.] In addition they understand Genesis 49:11 to be using “vine” to refer to the King Messiah [Zohar in Gen fol. 127. 3.].
“The sceptre shall not depart from Yehudah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloach (the sent One) comes,
And to Him shall be the obedience of the tribes.
11 He binds his foal to the gefen (vine),
And his donkey’s colt to the sorekah (choice species of vine, “true Vine”);
He washes his garments in wine,
And his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 “His eyes are made white from wine,
And his teeth are made white from milk.” -Yishayahu (Isaiah) 49:10-12 (Author’s Translation)
The Mishnah (Oral Law) notes that there was a golden vine that stood over the gate of the temple, propped up with a specially designed structure; and whoever offered a leaf, or a grape, or a cluster, (a piece of gold offered to the temple, in the shape of a leaf, grape or cluster of grapes) would bring it as a freewill offering and attach it to the golden vine. [Mishnah. Middot, c. 3. sect. 8. Talmud Bavliy Chullin, fol. 90. 2. & Tamid, fol. 29. 1, 2. ] Josephus the Roman Jewish historian also notes the existence of such a golden vine in Herod’s temple [Antiquities of the Jews. l. 15. c. 11. sect. 3.] Suffice to say the imagery was well known to first century Jews.
2 Every individual (pas[G], kol[H]) tender, flexible branch (klema[G], sariyg[H]) in Me (biy[H]) that does not bear, carry (phero[G]) fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]), He lifts up, elevates, raises from the ground (airo[G]); and every individual (pas[G], kol[H]) that bears, carries (phero[G]) fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]), He prunes, cleans, purifies (kathairo[G]) that one, so that it may bear, carry (phero[G]) more fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]).
We note two very important things in the opening clause of verse 2. First, every single, flexible branch refers to the new seasonal growth on the vine and not to established vine stock or dead branches. Second, the new growth (green branches) being referred to are all “in” Yeshua. Therefore, even before we read on we already understand that the Messiah is speaking of those who are in Him and therefore already eternally secure. It is essential at this point to understand that when vines branches are green, flexible and growing in season they are NOT cut! The cutting of branches only occurs when the vine is dormant. Therefore, what is being alluded to here are the growing branches in season and not the dormant plant.
Next we see that the flexible green branches being spoken of are not yet bearing fruit. Therefore, the Vinedresser “lifts them up” or “carries them” or “raises them from the ground” (airo[G]). No ancient Vinedresser worth his salt would cut off a new branch that had been hidden under old growth and was struggling for lack of sunlight. Rather, he lifts up the branch, which has been struggling on the ground beneath the canopy of the leaves and ties it to an established branch nearer the top of the vine wear it can receive the sunlight it requires to be strengthened and produce fruit. This image denotes the strengthening of a fruitless branch by tying it to a mature branch (a lesson of discipling).
The author of the Greek text is careful to provide us with two very different Greek words to describe what happens to the vine branches. The new growth branch is airo, “lifted from the ground” while the strong fruiting stock is pruned, cleaned (kathairo) to provoke new growth, better quality fruit and more of it. The “pruning” or “cleaning” described here is not a cutting off but the removal of dead leaves and the cleaning away of moulds and compromising abrasions. As I have said, it is important to understand that the pruning is done when the vine is dormant during the winter months at the end of the season so as not to do harm to the branches, while the “lifting up” and “cleaning” (pruning) is done during the season in order to promote fruiting.
The Vinedresser does not “cut off” (a misleading English translation) the non-fruiting branches, rather He encourages them to fruit by “lifting” or “carrying” them up into the light. It is therefore, utter nonsense to say as some do, that this analogy points to the possibility that believers can lose their salvation. No one, having received Yeshua and who remains “in” Him, can ever be “cut off” from Him.
Regarding fruiting in general, newly planted fruit trees and vines take time to establish themselves in the earth. Most fruit vines will abort or fail to fruit for up to three years from planting (Leviticus 19:23). In the fourth year they will generally present their first successful harvest of fruit. Therefore, the gardener/vinedresser does not place unreasonable expectations on the plant, knowing that it requires time to establish itself. This is another important lesson for those discipling new believers.
Yeshua is speaking here of both physical and spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit inevitably overflows into physical action (Galatians 5:22-23 fruit of the Ruach HaKodesh; Matthew 13:1-23 fruit of faith in Yeshua; Romans 6:21-22 fruit of righteousness).
3 Now already you are pruned, clean (kathairo[G]) through the word, essence, substance (ho logos[G], hadavar[H]) which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide, remain (meno[G]) in Me, and I in you. Just as the tender, flexible branch (klema[G]) cannot bear, carry (phero[G]) fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]) of itself unless it abides, remains (meno[G]) in the vine (ampelos[G], hagefen[H]), so neither can you unless you remain (meno[G]) in Me.
Yeshua explains to His disciples that through Himself, the Davar (Word), and by
His word God has already pruned and cleansed them. Therefore, He admonishes them to rest and abide in Him as the source of the fruit that they will inevitably bear in His Name.
It is possible that by saying “Now already you are pruned, clean through the word, essence, substance which I have spoken to you.” Yeshua is making a connection to the Torah as it applies to fruiting trees and vines in the promised land:
“And when you come into the land, and have planted numerous varieties of trees for food, then you should consider their fruit as being uncircumcised (unclean): for three years it is to be considered uncircumcised (unclean) to you: it shall not be eaten of.” -Leviticus 19:23
Therefore, the comparison is to the three years of Yeshua’s ministry which the disciples have participated in. Figuratively they were a freshly planted vine in Him at the beginning of His ministry and had been considered uncircumcised (unclean) fruit up to the point that His cleansing word had made their fruit circumcised (clean) for harvesting. That is, at the end of the three years according to the Torah allusion. Of course in counter distinction to this Yehudah (Judas Iscariot) had not stayed the course unto completion and therefore his fruit remained uncircumcised (unclean).
5 I Am, I exist (ego eimi[G], Anochiy[H]) the Vine (ampelos[G], hagefen[H]), you are the tender, flexible branches (klema[G]); the one who abides, remains (meno[G]) in Me and I in him, he bears (phero[G]) much fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]), for separated (choris[G]) from Me you don’t have the power (dunamai[G]) to do anything. 6 If anyone does not abide, remain (meno[G]) in Me, that one is thrown away, dropped, discarded (ballo[G]) outside (exo[G]) as a tender branch (klema[G]) that is indeed dried up (xeraino[G]); and they gather them, and into the fire (pur[G], eiysh[H]) they cast, throw away, drop, discard (ballo[G]) them and they are burned.
The branch is entirely reliant on the vine and its root system to supply all the nutrients it needs to grow strong and bear fruit. Therefore, if the branch is not connected to the vine it cannot bear fruit. We note that the branch that is thrown into the fire is not one that has been cut off by the Vinedresser but one that has become detached and is gathered up from the ground where it has dried out and become good for nothing other than the fire. This is consistent with the fact that one has to wilfully refuse God’s offer of redemption and sustenance through Yeshua in order to be burned in the spiritual fires of eternal torment. God doesn’t send people to eternal punishment, rather they choose to go there.
Once again Yehudah (Judas Iscariot) is alluded to as the branch that did not remain in the Vine and is therefore, fallen off the Vine and will be collected and thrown into the fire.
7 If you abide, remain (meno[G]) in Me, and My spoken words (rhema[G]) abide, remain (meno[G]) in you, ask whatever you desire (thelo[G]), and it will be done for you. 8 My Father (Ho Pater[G], Aviy[H]) is glorified (doxazo[G]) by this, that you bear, carry (phero[G]) much fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]), and become, are seen to be (ginomai[G]) My Talmidim[H] (disciples, devoted students).
This is the qualification for John 14:13, “Whatever you ask in My Name” means “If you abide, remain in Me, and My spoken words abide, remain in you, ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you.” The result is the same as is described in John 14:13, “that the Father may be glorified, extoled, celebrated, praised in the Son…”
How is the Father glorified in the Son through the disciples? It is by their fruit, seen by the fallen world. The same is true of all who believe.
9 Just as the Father (Ho Pater[G], Ha Av[H]) has entirely loved (agapao[G], aheivaniy[H]) Me, I have also entirely loved (agapao[G], ahavtiy[H]) you; abide, remain (meno[G]) in My all-encompassing love (agapao[G], ahavtiy[H]). 10 If you keep, guard (tishmeru[H]) My mitzvot[H] (commandments), you will abide, remain (meno[G]) in My all-encompassing love (agapao[G], ahavtiy[H]); just as I have kept (shamartiy[H]) My Father’s (Ho Pater[G], Ha Aviy[H]) mitzvot[H] (commandments) and abide, remain (meno[G]) in His all-encompassing love (agape[G], ahavato[H]).
The mitzvot of Yeshua are the continuation and illumination of the Torah as expressed through Yeshua’s words and ministry, and the mitzvot of the Father which Yeshua has guarded and practiced are both the Torah and the direct instruction of the Father concerning Yeshua’s redemptive purpose. Therefore, for the disciples the miztvot of Yeshua transform their understanding of punitive law into an understanding of the law of freedom in Messiah (Yaakov[James] 1:25).
Yeshua’s instruction is simple, “Hear, listen, receive and comprehend Israel, YHVH our God YHVH is echad (One). Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and all your mind; and love your neighbour as you love yourself… Love one another as I have loved you…” There is perfect continuity in Yeshua’s words. The Torah has pointed to Yeshua (its Author) and He has in turn revealed Instruction where Law was once seen. He has revealed the Father, Shepherd of Shepherds, with His crook and staff, come to lead and guide, discipline and nurture His sheep.
All this is born of the fact that the Holy God has entirely loved the Son and the Son has entirely loved us, and now we are tasked to choose to remain in Him and entirely love one another.
We are reminded that love produces obedience and that obedience is our response to love and not the means by which we earn it.
11 These utterances (laleo[G]) I have spoken (dibartiy[H]) to you so that My joy (chara[G], simchatiy[H]) may be in you, and that your joy (chara[G], simchatechem[H]) may be made full (pleroo[G]). 12 “This is My mitzvatiy[H] (commandment), that you entirely love (agapao[G], tehehavun[H]) one another, just as I have entirely loved (agapao[G], ahavtiychem[H]) you.
Yeshua makes a clear distinction between the Torah[H], mitzvot[H], rhema[G], and the intimate spoken utterances (laleo[G]) that He has spoken directly to His disciples. This discourse spanning five chapters of John’s Gospel is an intimate relational pep talk intended for His trusted few close friends. While it is accessible to all who believe it is first and foremost spoken for the edification of the twelve (-1).
The purpose of Yeshua’s utterances to the disciples is so that His transcendent joy might be in them and that they, having understood why He has told them these things in advance would live to see the fullness of that same joy manifest within time and space.
To His mitzvot (plural) Yeshua confirms His mitzvah “Mitzvatiy” (singular): “Entirely love one another just as I have entirely loved you.”
13 Greater (mega[G], rabah[H]) love (agape[G], ahavah[H]) has no one than this, that a certain one (tis[G]) lay down, gift (hanotein[H]) his life breath, soul (psuche[G], nafsho[H]) in behalf (huper[G]) for his beloved friends (philos[G], yediydayn[H]). 14 You are My beloved friends (philos[G], yediyday[H]) if you do what I command (entellomai[G], mitzaveh[H]) you.
Most English translations are misleading here. They make this phrase sound like a universal idiom or general life coach. It is not. The Greek text in particular is very precise, saying “a certain one” and not “one”. Furthermore, the certain individual in question lays down his life for his friends (plural), often mistakenly rendered in the singular by English translations presuming an idiomatic application rather than a phrase pertaining to a specific individual. Therefore, we correctly read “Greater love has no one than this, that a certain one lay down, gift his life, breath, soul for his friends.” Yeshua is not teaching a general principal but is speaking specifically about His coming sacrificial death. His friends are defined as those who obey Him. This is why He goes on to say:
15 No longer do I call you bond servants (doulos[G], avadiym[H]), for the bond servant (doulos[G], haeved[H]) does not see, perceive (eido[G]yodeia[H]) what his lord (kurios[G], Adonayu[H]) is doing; but I have called each of (pas[G]) you a beloved friend (philos[G], yediyday[H]), for all things that I have heard, received, applied (akouo[G]shama’tiy[H]) from My Father (Ho Pater[G], Ha Aviy[H]) I have made known (gnorizo[G], hoda’tiy[H]) to you.
While the disciples may have heeded Yeshua’s call to service three years prior, they had now been cleansed by His word and had become dearly loved friends. Following His death, resurrection and ascension the disciples will become Yeshua’s brothers and sons of God (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 3:27-4:8). Thus the progression from servants to friends to brothers. From within time and space the adoption as children of God and therefore brothers and sisters to Messiah could not happen until after His death and resurrection. This is why at this point Yeshua calls them friends rather than brothers and sisters.
We note that Yeshua had made known to the disciples all that He had received from the Father up to that point. As we would expect of our perfect Redeemer, Yeshua was a transparent Leader of impeccable integrity. The Greek says “known” (gnorizo) rather than “seen” (eido) because the knowledge has been revealed, received and become all-encompassing as a result of the disciples having seen (eido) the living Messiah.
16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and set you in place (tithemi[G]) so that you would go and bear fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]), and that your fruit (karpos[G], p’riy[H]) would abide, remain (meno[G]), so that whatever you ask of the Father (Ho Pater[G], Ha Av[H]) in My name (bishmiy[H]) He may give (yitein[H]) to you.
“You did not choose Me” does not mean the disciples had no choice in the matter but that they did not initiate the choosing. In other words, He chose them and they had to choose to accept Him. Having being chosen they chose to be predestined. This does not teach predestination over freewill but predestination and freewill.
“I chose you” means both “I physically searched you out and chose you, asking you to follow me in person” and “I chose you before the creation of the world”. To deny either is to be devoid of the revelation of the Ruach HaKodesh.
Yeshua chose them for a purpose, “so that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would abide, remain so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
Yeshua’s choosing of His disciples was contrary to the rabbinical custom where disciples would seek out a rabbi and not the other way around.
“If you wish to make yourself a Rav (great rabbi/ great one), choose yourself a lord and become his pupil (companion)” -R. Yoshuah ben Perachiah, (said to be the master of Yeshua of Natzeret), Pirke Avot (Wisdom of the Fathers), c. 1. sect. 6. [Ganz Tzemach David, fol. 24. 2.]
"He has chosen me, and I have chosen Him:'' -Song of Songs 2:16 Praphrase Zohar in Exod. fol. 9. 1.
17 This I command (entellomai[G], mitzaveh[H]) you, that you entirely love (agapao[G], tehehavun[H]) one another. 18 “If this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]) pursues you with hatred (miseo[G]), you know, have learned (ginosko[G]deu[H]) that it has pursued Me with hatred (miseo[G]) before you.
The disciples had witnessed the way the world had treated Yeshua and were to see yet greater proof of the world’s hatred toward Him. Therefore, Yeshua warned them to expect trouble. A true follower of Yeshua will be pursued by the hatred of those bound to the fallen world. There is a certain comfort in understanding this. Rather than presuming a life devoid of hatred and harm we are admonished to expect it and understand why it’s happening.
19 If you were of this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]), this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]) would have filial love for (phileo[G]) you as its own; but because you are not of this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]), but I chose you out of this world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]), because of this, the present world (ho kosmos[G], haolam[H]) pursues you with hatred (miseo[G]).
We see that the disciples and indeed all who follow Yeshua are no longer of the fallen world. The evidence is in the fact that the fallen world sees no filial (family) connection to them. Therefore, because Yeshua has chosen His followers and lifted them out of filial connection to the sin affected world, the sin affected world detests them as being aliens living among the inhabitants of the fallen creation. Thus, following Yeshua’s resurrection, the Father will recognize the followers of Yeshua as sons and daughters of God. Therefore, our filial (family) connection is no longer to the first Adam but through the last Adam (Yeshua).
The Talmud teaches something similar in its distinguishing of the wise men as set apart from anashiym l’olam “men of the world” (Talmud. Bavliy. Kiddushin, fol. 80. 2.).
20 Remember this word, essence, substance (logos[G], davar[H]) that I said to you, ‘A bond servant (doulos[G], haeved[H]) is not greater than his lord (kurios[G], Adonayu[H]) [John 13:16].’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept, guarded, attended to (tereo[G]) My word, substance, essence (kurios[G], Adonayu[H]) they will keep, guard, attend to (tereo[G]) yours also.
Part of what it means to recognize that a servant is never greater than his lord is to understand that to whatever degree the lord was persecuted the servant will also suffer persecution, and in turn, those not a part of the servant’s group who none the less honoured the teaching of the servant’s lord, will also honour the teaching of the servant. This means that the disciples can expect both persecution and honour. They will be the sweet fragrance of salvation to those being saved and the stench of death to those being lost (2 Corinthians 2:15).
21 But all these things they will do to you through (dia[G]) the Name (onoma[G]) of Me, because they do not see, perceive (eido[G]) the One who sent Me.
Most English translations read “these things they will do because of My Name” meaning, because the people of the world hate Yeshua’s Name and teaching they will show the same hatred toward His disciples. This is qualified by the last clause which says “because they do not see the One Who sent Me.” However, the Greek literally says “these things they will do through the Name of Me, because they do not see the One Who sent Me.” Meaning, people claiming to act in Yeshua’s Name will persecute the true followers of Yeshua.
This is exactly what happen by the turn of the first century CE when the then predominantly Gentile Christian Church began to make it difficult for Jewish believers to maintain Jewish identity within the body of believers. Subsequently the same kind of persecution has been a mainstay of the political Christian Church throughout the centuries and is at present manifest in the mainstream evangelical, charismatic and orthodox Church (as well as the Roman Catholic, Eastern and Greek Orthodox Church) in the form of Continuationism (the latest version of Replacement Theology).
Communities like our own (Beth Melekh) are disliked equally by Orthodox Jews and Continuationist Christians.
22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have retained their sin, missing the mark of God’s holiness (hamartia[G]), but now they have no sacrifice upon the face of their sin (elta al apay chtiythuvn[A]).
This concerns those who were a part of the generation who witnessed Yeshua’s ministry in person and rejected Him. As a result they are without means of covering for sin because of their disbelief. Of course sin is always without excuse, which is why the Aramaic text reads “now they have no sacrifice upon the face of their sin” rather than “they are without excuse…”
23 He who pursues Me with hatred (miseo[G]), hates My Father (Aviy[H]) also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have retained their sin, missing the mark of God’s holiness (hamartia[G]); but now they have both seen and pursued Me with hatred (miseo[G]) and have hated My Father (Aviy[H]) also.
This is extremely significant for Jewish people. One of the central prayers of our Rosh Hashanah service acknowledges God as Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King). Yeshua is saying, “Those who hate Me hate YHVH!”
25 But to fulfil the word, essence, substance (logos[G], davar[H]) in the Tanakh (Torah)[H] (nomos[G], Law) that belongs to them (autos[H]), ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ [Psa. 35:19; 69:5(4)]
Numerous English versions needlessly infer separation between the Tanakh and Yeshua by translating this verse as “So is fulfilled the word written in their Scripture”. While this is technically correct it is none the less extremely misleading. Yeshua intends to convey the fact that the Scripture belongs to the Jewish people both believing and unbelieving because God has given them the Scriptures as a gift to be shared with the nations. This is why Rav shaul Hashaliach says “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29). Therefore, we better translate “But to fulfil the word, essence, substance in the Tanakh that belongs to them.” Note that “the Word (Davar) in the Tanakh belongs to them.” Yeshua is the Davar (Word, Essence, Substance).
The quote is from Psalms 35:19 and 69:5(4). Therefore, as is the case today, Torah (nomos[G]) is sometimes used to denote the wider body of inspired Hebrew Scripture. To “hate without cause” is the ultimate indictment in that every opportunity had been given for those disbelievers to believe and turn in love to God through Yeshua.
26 “As soon as the Helper, One Who stands alongside (parakletos[G]) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]), that is the Spirit, Breath, Wind (Ha Ruach[H]) of truth (Emet[H]) Who proceeds from the Father (Ho Pater[G], HaAv[H]), He will testify, bear witness (martureo[H]) about Me, 27 and you will testify, bear witness (martureo[H]) also, because you have been with Me from the beginning, origin, head (arche[G], rosh[H]).
The Ruach HaKodesh will be sent by Yeshua from the Father. It is important to note that the Ruach HaKodesh has a specific role as the Spirit of the Father and the Son with us. He is the Helper Who comes alongside in support of us and dwells within us through Yeshua. He proceeds from the Father to testify to and bear witness of the Son.
The Ruach HaKodesh does not seek glory for Himself any more than the Son sought glory for Himself. Rather the Ruach HaKodesh seeks to bring glory to and testify about the Son. This challenges the theology of many modern Christian denominations who insist on making a mantra out of chanting or calling on the Name of the Holy Spirit. The only place in Scripture where God instructs us to invoke the Name of the Holy Spirit is in the tevilah (immersion) of believers, immersed into the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Note the order and role of each distinct and unified person of the Godhead.
King David speaks to the Father of the Holy Spirit in Psalm 51:11 but does not call on the Holy Spirit. Isaiah speaks of the Holy Spirit but does not call on the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 57:15; 63:10-11). John the Immerser speaks of the Messiah immersing (baptising) with the Holy Spirit but does not call on the Holy spirit (Matthew 3:11). Yeshua warns against blaspheming the Holy Spirit (not the same as invoking the Spirit’s Name or praying to Him Matthew 12:32; Luke 12:10).The Holy Spirit is said to give the persecuted believer words to speak (Mark 13:11). Ananias is accused of lying to the manifestly present Holy Spirit of God (Acts 5:3). So we see that the Holy Spirit is present among believers both corporately and individually and that His role is to point us to the Father and the Son.
When asked how they should pray Yeshua responded to the disciples by saying “When you pray, pray this way, ‘Avinu shabashamayim (Our Father Who Dwells in the heavens…)” Yeshua also says “Whatever you ask in My Name” meaning that He expects we will invoke His Name in prayer. However, He never teaches us to pray in the Name of the Holy Spirit or to invoke the Spirit’s Name. Here Yeshua is very clear about the role of the Spirit. He explains that the role of the Spirit is to testify to and bring one’s focus upon the Son unto the Father. Previously Yeshua has said that the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance the things of Him (Yeshua). Tragically, those who invoke the Holy Spirit and promote His Name in repeated worship phrases are acting in direct contradiction to the role of the Holy Spirit Himself. Put simply, the Holy Spirit wants you to testify to the Name of Yeshua and give glory to the Father.
When you know that you are tasked with promoting someone else and are doing everything you can to celebrate and honour that person but those listening ignore that person and instead praise you, how do you respond? If we sing “Come Holy Spirit” we have already missed the point, it is the Holy Spirit in us Who sings “Welcome Yeshua, Glory to YHVH!” To promote the Holy Spirit at the expense of the Father and the Son is to blaspheme the entire Godhead.
If a helper has come into your home and dwells in your living room and has lived with you and helped you for many years, never leaving or forsaking you, would it not be rude to act as if He weren't already sitting beside you as a member of your family? Would it not be the height of rudeness to scream out loud "I invite You to enter" when He is right there having already long since entered? This is what we are doing when we pretend to invite the Holy Spirit to attend our worship gatherings. If you need to invite Him He is not in attendance. And yet many who do so claim that He dwells in them and see no contradiction.
We notice that in receiving the Holy Spirit we are reminded of Yeshua’s teaching and have the affirmation of His identity and Truth. As a result we do as the Spirit in us has done, testifying to others. In the context of this passage it is the disciples who are specifically tasked with the work of testimony as a result of the presence of God’s Spirit in order that those who hear might receive the truth of the Gospel from those who were present and witnessed the life and ministry of Yeshua on earth. They had been chosen to be with Him from the beginning of His ministry for this very purpose.
© Yaakov Brown 2020
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,