There are a number of dominant views concerning the interpretation of Jesus’ climactic words in His Olivet Discourse when, after a series of what can only be described as the most horrific end-of-days scenario, these startling words: “This GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM shall be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (vs. 14). Prior to this pronouncement everything which Jesus said in preparing His fledgling Ekklesia for the “end of the age” (Matt. 24:4-13) was anything but the “Good News of the Kingdom” – in point of glaring fact, it was all “gloom and doom” . . . to think otherwise one would have to have been or still is either a poor reader of the Greek translated into virtually all English translations of the text or is determined to see all things through an opaque lens distorting the actual facts of the matter—this does not appear to be the framework of “positive thinking” in any way, shape or form. So, why does Jesus do a 180◦ by announcing such GOOD NEWS and then turn right around (again) continuing with the most horrific series of events commencing with the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet and slogging onward through the swamp of the Great Tribulation unto astronomical events which can only portend the end of the world as we know it? In the midst of everything falling apart these uplifting words of GOOD NEWS are heard! Why? This all sounds eerily familiar – sort of like Job losing it, yet still holding on to the Eternal: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart years within me! . . . Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him (Job 19:25-27; 13:15). What is so good about this “Good News”? It is the KINGDOM, that is what is so good. In the midst of this chaos – frankly, be it at the end of days or the current despair, those within the Kingdom – within the “Kingdom of the Son of His Love” find their refuge and strength. Seemingly, all hell is breaking lose around them and the multitude of earthlings surrounding them but IN THIS is a band of brothers and sisters “who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits . . . those of the people who understand shall instruct many . . . those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 11:32-33; 12:3). Yes, in the midst of this storm, this vast desert, is a calm, an oasis – a place of preservation whereof it is written in the book: “And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book . . . and many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life . . . and they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them ‘Come up here’ . . . and they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them” (Dan. 12:1; Rev. 11:12). Daniel and the Revelation are two of the most prophetic books found in the “Scripture of Truth” (Dan. 10:21) – moreover, they are intrinsically interwoven into a tapestry of God’s children in persecution, purification, preservation, and prophetic proclamation of this Gospel of the Kingdom culminating with this pronouncement affirming Job’s original statement: “He shall stand on the earth” – “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever . . . a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces . . . and the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth . . . and in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Rev. 11:15; Dan. 2:34-35, 44). “The days of these kings” – of these kingdoms – are being consumed by the God of heaven who is about setting up “a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” – this kingdom “shall not be left to other people” . . . for “it shall stand forever.” Therefore, we revert to “this Gospel of the Kingdom” which shall be preached in all the world—then shall the end come as foreseen by both Daniel and John’s Revelation. What is it? When is it? Where is it? And, most significantly, HOW is it? Well, for one, it follows this pattern given to those who desire to build in the House of the Lord—another metaphor for the Kingdom of His Dear Son: “I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms” (Haggai 2:21-22). This “shaking” goes something like this when it comes to the “kingdom of this world” - Consider for a moment – but do not stay too long contemplating how “Good News” can be inserted into this maelstrom: Massive deception, false christs, wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilences, earthquakes in various places—that’s just the beginning of sorrows; the birth pangs of a future Millennium Kingdom—capturing and killing you, hating you by all nations, many offended, betrayal of one another, hating one another, many false prophets rising up and deceiving many, lawlessness abounding, the love of many growing cold, calls for enduring to the end—only they will be saved—the Abomination of Desolation, flee to the mountains, no time to spare—forget about taking anything from your home, even clothing; just get out while you can—better not be pregnant at this “time of the end” and pray it’s not in the winter or oddly enough on a Sabbath because we’re talking about GREAT TRIBULATION . . . the kind that’s never been seen before since the beginning of the world, nor ever shall be . . . if those days would not be shortened, no life would be saved . . . then more false christs and false prophets will rise up and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible the very elect . . . don’t believe Christ is in the desert; don’t go out there nor in some “inner chamber”—DON’T BELIEVE IT! You asked for it and Jesus dished it out! Now, if you can see any GOOD NEWS in that amalgamation of end-time events, as they say: be my guest. There isn’t any, not really, unless you’re a masochist and somehow find pleasure in pain. Notwithstanding, there IS the GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM and that’s the ONLY Good News until the King literally shows up “after the tribulation of those days!” Commensurate with this panoply of apocalyptic snippets is Daniel’s interpretation of the vision of this consuming stone cut out of the mountain without human hands, which is, most definitely, that “rock of offense” – the “stone which the builders disallowed – has become the chief cornerstone” (Psa. 118:22; 1 Peter 2:7-8). In point of divine revelation – of prophetic climax unto the end of the age – which brings us back to . . . THE KINGDOM OF THE SON OF HIS LOVE “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed (translated) us into the kingdom of the Son of His love . . . in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins . . . He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the EKKLESIA, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Col. 1:13-18). The “Kingdom of the Son of His Love” is in stark contrast to the “Domain of Darkness” (graphically detailed by Jesus at the “end of the age” and known as the “Kingdom of Darkness” (“domain” or “kingdom” lit. is “authority” – Strong’s G#1849, “Exousia, as a noun, denotes (1) “authority”(from the impersonal verb exesti, “it is lawful”) – these “authorities” are, in this context, the “principalities and powers/authorities” juxtaposed to the Kingdom of the Son of His Love (cf. Col. 1:16; 2:10, 15; 1 Pet. 3:22; Eph. 1:20-21—“He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority [G#1849] and lordship and every name being named).” Thus, this “transference into the Kingdom of the Son of His Love” connotes the “legal removal” through His blood wrought by His redemption from one realm (the “domain of darkness” or “authority of darkness”) into a completely different realm, authority, kingdom: [The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love . . ..” (Col. 1:13—Amplified Classic Version) This “delivered” and “drawing” is predicated upon the authority wrought through His “blood covenant” – indeed, we, who were once under the “authority of darkness” are delivered by the Deliverer (the Messiah) and drawn under a new authority – a new kingdom. Lest we forget – and please take this personally (yes, personally) – you are not alone in this transference for He has delivered and drawn US to Himself. We are together in this deliverance and are now a part of the Kingdom of His Dear Son—the Son of His Love. Again, this conveyed to us as a “cosmic legality” which is wholly a “legal transference” because of His redemption – He redeemed us by His blood – the perfect sacrifice wherein we can be so transferred – what an eternal price was paid for our redemption, our transference! Now, the immediate reflection we have in coming into the “Kingdom of His dear Son” or the “Kingdom of the Son of His Love” is the very King Himself whose legal price paid for our transference—the King of Israel . . . yes, just as Nathanael announced: “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49) – for what kingdom is not ruled by a king? In our case, it is the Kingdom of His Dear Son, the Father’s Beloved – aka, the King of Israel! Therefore, it is of supreme priority wherein Paul fixates upon the Person of the Son of His love . . . for Paul immediately describes His Dear Son: “The Kingdom of the Son of His Love . . . He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the ekklesia, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence . . . for it pleased the Father that in Him, all the fullness should dwell, and by Him, to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:14-18). Not only is the Son of His Love the means whereby “all things were created” – the “creating agency of the Godhead” – moreover, His work of creation is to “create in Himself” the “new creation” – the “one New Man” – the “Body . . . the ekklesia . . . of Christ” . . . as our Head, “having made peace through the blood of His cross” not only peace with God but peace between those who “were alienated and enemies” from that One Body and persistently within that One Body (Eph. 2:15; Gal. 6:15; Col. 1:18-19). As we enter into this Kingdom of the Son of His Love – we realize, based upon the revelation of this mystery of God (Col. 2:2) which is Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”, our entrance is revealed within the very “mystery of Christ” Himself – even “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints . . . To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Nations: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” . . . for it is of this “mystery of Christ” of which we speak and make manifest (Col. 4:3-4). What mystery is this! That the NATIONS, the Gentiles, are now included in Messiah; they are brought into the Kingdom of His Dear Son! The mystery of God is Christ – the mystery of Christ is His Ekklesia – His One Body – therefore, the King of the Universe resides in the Messiah, the King of Israel, Whose Own mystery is the KING IN US – Christ in you, the Hope of Glory! This is the mystery – where the nations of the world – would be transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of His Dear Son – the Son Who is the King of the Kingdom of, if you would, the mystery of Messiah. You may inquire: Where is the King? He is in us whom He has delivered, transferred – we have become the very kingdom into which we have become transferred! Yes, we have been brought into God’s mystery, Christ – Who indwells the “subjects” of His Kingdom thereby constituting them all members of His One Kingdom, One Body, His Mystery, His Ekklesia! He is preeminent in His Kingdom – the Kingdom is His manifest Glory – and, as upon the Mount of Transfiguration, once the Father utters His voice declaring “This is my Son, the beloved, in whom I delight; of Him hear” (Free Translation – Matt. 17:5) . . . that says it all. In both Colossians 1:13 and Matthew 16:5 the Greek is explicit (Strong’s G#26 & #27) – having to do with the very essence, nature of the Son of His Love, His Beloved . . . therefore, when the disciples arose after being touched by Jesus and looked up after being stunned by the voice of the Father: “They did not see anyone except Jesus alone” (Matt. 17:8). Simply put: Without seeing Jesus alone – with no competition – His preeminence as King, as Sovereign alone, there can be no other obstacle which conflicts with this image. May our eyes be uplifted to see no one, save Jesus only! Now, what keeps us within the Kingdom of His Dear Son from seeing other competitors of great merit—for, obviously, Moses and Elijah were likewise “transfigured before their eyes” – all in their glorified state; thus, in all fairness, Peter seeking to “give credit to where credit is due” made, in his eyes, a most admirable suggestion to build three tabernacles/tents but giving, notwithstanding, Jesus a prominent placement in the center of Moses and Elijah – between the “Law and the Prophets”. Well, of course, all have equal footing, but One is more equal than the others? This is met with a resounding: HEAR YE HIM . . . JESUS ALONE! THE “REFEREE” – THE “UMPIRE OF PEACE” IN OUR HEARTS We entered into the Kingdom of the Son of His love through His redeeming blood whereupon “having made peace through the blood of the His cross” we “who once were alienated and enemies in our minds by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present (us) holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Col.1:20-22). Our entry into His Kingdom was singular in nature – but now, in Christ Jesus, we have been transferred from the chaos of a divided kingdom into the United Kingdom of David—under His Tabernacle (Acts 15:16) – we now have peace with God AND we have peace with one another! But the Lord knows full well that if His peace is not allowed to be the “referee” in our hearts (for it is a most inward matter this peace) then we are His Kingdom in name only, but hardly in reality. That is precisely why we find the subject in Paul’s writing to the Colossians transfers from the King to the nature and “maintenance” of His Kingdom. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body” (Col. 3:15). The word “rule” is clearly in Greek more than unilateral – i.e., “vertical” in its import. It is clearly a “horizontal” expression. I am pleased to receive this wonderful insight from Chris Steinle and Henry Hon, with amplifications from yours truly, to wit: Just as an FYI, I used to make a point of teaching (in quarterly Foundations classes) from Col. 3:15. The focus of the verse is that when we were born again, we were born into a BODY - the “vertical” relationship is not the full reality. It may be covered in Hon’s writings, but what is translated as “let RULE in your hearts” is βραβευέτω (brabeuetō). “Referee” is the correct meaning. It has to do with judgment between “players,” as in sporting events. It’s not a “vertical” term at all. Let the peace of God “be the referee” in your hearts - because you were called in one and the same body. (Source: Chris Steinle – cir. 05/2020) This is all the more “horizontal” in what immediately follows why we should allow the Referee among us within our hearts because we have been “called in one body” wherein we are to allow the “word of Christ” to “dwell in (us) richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in (our) HEARTS to the Lord” (Col. 3:15-16). Listen up: You do not need a Referee or Umpire unless you have, in a biblical sense, “factions” ON THE FIELD OF PLAY—if you would, in the Kingdom of His Beloved Son! So, we all enter in the same way, through the blood of Jesus, but now that we are within the stadium, His Kingdom, do not forget the King is there dwelling in our hearts and delights when His children are at peace. When a decision has to be made—who shall be given the task of calling a “foul”? Not us, that’s for sure. The Ref does. But it is not a robotic game we’re involved with here. LET or allow the Referee to keep our hearts in His peace, lest we find ourselves resisting His call (viz., arguing with the Ref’s decision) – if you would, each “play” demands, most of the time, involvement of the Referee to “keep the peace” among the “players” in the Kingdom. Incidentally, those in the stands watching us on the playing field are known as that “great cloud of witnesses” – so don’t think the “stands” are empty (Heb. 12:1). We were “called in ONE BODY” – so no need to fixate upon your personal holiness here—tempting though it may be . . . let me explain. All that went before in Colossians 3:1-11, in the main, “sounds like” it all has to do with you coming under the direct “rule and reign” of the Lord – yes, one might conclude, this could readily be interpreted as “Lordship salvation.” In other words, if you are not practicing the aforesaid, you are not under His “rule and reign” – to wit: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God [this should give us the sense of Someone upon the Throne of God as King or Lord]. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the NEW MAN who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:1-11). Virtually, the entire passage appears to confine you to the framework of “moral responsibility” – you leave with the onus on you! And, in measure, rightly so. But all this personal quest for holiness has but one goal . . . and, you rightly know, that most of the items in Colossians 3:1-11 finds itself in a “corporate environment” because these “negatives” not only afflict one personally, but most definitely affect others, to wit: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things [listen up] put on love, which is the bond of perfection . . . and let the peace of God referee in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body” (Col. 3:12-15). Music to my ears . . . Body ministry, not Orators The measure of one’s holiness before God is likewise before man. If one does not have peace between brethren, then there is no impact with this kind of holy living—THAT should be its test, its effectiveness, its result. Life in the Kingdom of His Dear Son is NOT your personal discipleship for your personal edification and spirituality. Spirituality demands interplay with members of His One Body. We cannot attest to His sanctification without allowing the “peace of God as Referee within our hearts” – for one can claim a great deal of spirituality but it is, frankly, empty, virtually worthless, if it is not manifested, sustained, live out in His One Body, the Kingdom. Far too often – and this is sadly the emphasis – “Lordship Salvation” is taken in measure to be one’s spirituality or quest for personal sanctification. THAT is not the emphasis within the Kingdom of His Dear Son—the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly will produce a chorus, a choir, an orchestra in harmony—not the tune of a singular instrument who cannot “make music” with others in the orchestra. Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs and singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord is done as God’s choir, orchestra . . . it is NOT your solo as pleasant sounding as it may be. Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are sung in “concert” – as a choir, not alone – but to one another. Sorry, your solo, my solo, is as a tree falling alone in a forest—no one hears its sound, as spectacular as it may be! This is not to say you shouldn’t be the guy stopped at the light singing to the top of your lungs to the Lord . . . but know this: You’re not a choir . . . although it’s wonderful to be singing with a choir in your car. So sad, today we are enamored by the virtuoso, the soloist, the orator who can sway the masses by virtue of his/her insightful (and they most truly are) preachment or worshipful orchestrations—but, again, this is NOT the essence of the One Body where “each one has” and “all can prophesy” . . . we’re talking about “Kingdom-style gatherings” here . . . “How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the ekklesia, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the other judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the ekklesia of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:26-35). Did anyone hear and/or see an Orator at that “Kingdom Meeting?” I didn’t—but, then again, maybe I’m missing something here? This certainly does not sound like a “pulpit-pew” gathering of brethren . . . perhaps you are contemplating a ministry environment—but this “ministry environment” is definitely NOT an ekklesia environment nor something happening that was not the practice in “all the ekklesia” during Paul’s day. To suggest that we’ve advanced far and beyond this ancient practice is a gross misinterpretation of the Kingdom of His Dear Son—it flies in the face of the emphasis upon the ONE BODY . . . “For God is not the author of confusion but of PEACE” – this is the peace whereof we have been granted by the Referee among us for we have given Him authority over us to “call the balls and the strikes” and to maintain harmony among the many who are singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs unto the Lord! The Greek secular ekklesia was well-known by the early followers of the Lamb—it was the practice throughout the time of the Roman Empire’s rule some 600 years before the birth of the Savior. This was to be the “style” of the Kingdom’s gathering together in His Name, under His Lordship, as King of the Kingdom but we have greatly erred from this practice. Whereas we have made the “vertical call to holiness” the emphasis upon Colossians 3, even so, have we made the pulpit uplifted and our gatherings likewise vertical in practice and substance. Yes, the Greeks were known for their ekklesia but they were also known for their philosophers and beyond that for their theater and, alas, for their Oratories from Orators who would bedazzle the masses by their persuasions and oratory wherein those who excelled in such fetes of fancy were acclaimed most incredible and worthy of honor and audience—such would make Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Martin Luther King or William Jennings Bryan pale into insignificance! This most prized endeavor eventually found its expression amongst the early expressions of the Ekklesia—this was NOT a hostile takeover, but a gradual result of the members of His One Body and their lackadaisical attitude to let those who have the “rule over you” (Heb. 13:17) be translated “lead over you” to be the Body’s orators as well. Indeed, to “lead by example” is one thing—to “lead by the nose” is another matter altogether in counter distinction to leading by example! So, in the “Ekklesia environment” the tendency, especially among the Greeks as a cultural practice, lent itself to oration and thence to the Orator, to wit, from Homer: Oratory is one of the earliest necessities of society; as soon as men were organised on terms of equality for corporate action, there must have been occasions when opinions might differ as to the best course to be pursued, and, if there were no inspired king whose unquestioned authority could impose his will, the majority must decide whether to flee or to fight, to kill or to keep alive. Thus different plans must be discussed, and, in cases where opinion was evenly balanced, that side would prevail which could state its views most convincingly; and so the need for deliberative oratory arose. With the Greeks oratory was instinctive; in the earliest semi-historical records that we possess, eloquence is found to be a gift prized not less highly than valour in battle; the kings and princes are not only ‘renowned for their power,’ but are ‘leaders of the people by their counsels, . . . wise and eloquent in their instructions’; strength and courage are the property of all, but the real leaders must be the counsellors, βουλήφοροι ἄνδρες. Nestor, who is almost past the age for fighting, is honoured among the first for his eloquence, and whereas Achilles shares with many other warriors the glories of the Iliad, Odysseus, fertile in counsel, is the chief subject of an entire poem. The speech of Phœnix in the ninth book of the Iliad shows us the ideals which were aimed at in the education of a prince. He tells how he trained the young Achilles to be a ‘speaker of words and a doer of deeds’; (Iliad, ix. 443) and Achilles, as we know him, well justified this training. The leading characters in the Homeric poems are already fluent orators, able and ready to debate intelligently on any concrete subject, and, moreover, to seek guidance from general principles. Nestor makes frequent appeals to historical precedent; Phœnix introduces allegorical illustration; (Ibid., ix. 502 sqq.) many speakers refer to the sanctity of law and custom; though the particular case is foremost in the mind, generalisations of various kinds are by no means infrequent. The Homeric counsellor can urge his own arguments and rebut those of his opponent with a natural facility of speech and readiness of invective which even a polished wielder of personalities like Demosthenes might envy. (Source: J. F. Dobson, The Greek Orators @ Retried on 05/2020) I am in total accord with Rollin Grams’ March 2017 article in which he pits Paul’s presentation of the Gospel as wholly distinguished from the Greco-Roman Orator (From: Dr. Rollin Grams, Professor of Biblical Theology and Mission, “When ‘Preaching’ is No Longer ‘Christian’: A Study of Paul’s Opposition to Oratory in His Day—and Our’s” – Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Ridley Institute, March, 2017): Paul faced a major challenge in his missionary proclamation: he needed to distinguish himself from other public speakers of his day in both what he proclaimed and how he presented the Gospel. Like them, Paul showed up at a new city and needed to find a hearing from people he did not personally know. Yet that is about as much as Paul would have wanted to acknowledge he had in common with the Greek or Roman orators of his day. To be sure, some public orators, like Dio Chrysostom (c. AD 40-c. 115), also wanted to distinguish themselves from popular orators for similar reasons to Paul. Paul was not unfamiliar with the rhetorical methods of his day and could show himself an able writer and speaker. Yet, for reasons of both a different content to his message and a concern for truth rather than persuasive methods of delivery, Paul was no orator. He found the conventions of his day antithetical to the Gospel itself. This essay seeks to show how Paul distinguished himself from orators of antiquity. He often had to challenge those who taught a false Gospel, but here the focus is on a false median for the Gospel—the conventions of Greek and Roman oratory. Indeed, Paul’s entry and “reasoning” was in total contrast to that of the Greek-style Orators of his day. Listen carefully as Dr. Grams explains: Paul’s synagogue audiences, on the other hand, wanted to hear an interpretation of the Scriptures, not a rhetorical flourish, an ornamented speech (or sermon) that would amaze the audience. His message was not a piece of reasoning per se but a reasoning from a sacred text—an interpretation of a community’s authoritative text. He ‘reasoned with them [the Thessalonian Jews] from the Scriptures’ (Acts 17.2). Paul would explain and prove from Scripture (the Old Testament) that ‘it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead,’ and that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 17.3). The synagogue was not interested in Greek or Roman styled speeches—frankly, ‘preaching’—but wanted to hear people interpret the Word of God. This is why, no doubt, the activities of the church were never described in terms of ‘preaching’—English translations of Scripture that use the word ‘preaching’ would probably do better with the word ‘proclamation,’ since the meaning in those contexts is a setting forth of the Gospel—evangelistic proclamation—not what we have come to expect from the pulpit on a Sunday morning in our form of the regular ‘church service.’ Dr. Grams continues: This is not to say that we should do away with the sermon as an un-Biblical practice. It is to say that we are warned of the dangers of sermons being crafted as speeches that appeal to an audience through their rhetorical strengths over their strengths in accurate interpretation of God’s Word. Audiences have to be taught the right expectations. If one regularly leaves a church service asking others, ‘Did you like the sermon?’ instead of ‘Did you understand the Biblical interpretation?’, the audience has been poorly trained in the purpose of speech in the church service. The more a sermon tries to hit home an idea through rhetoric rather than demonstrate an interpretation, the further it moves away from the practice that Paul encouraged in his churches. The more the contemporary ‘sermon’ leans towards rhetoric—in gripping illustrations, in opinions on topics, in some ‘big idea’ encapsulated in a brilliant story rather than proven from the Biblical text—the more it departs from the teaching mode of communication of the synagogue—and of Paul. In Berea, Jews listened to Paul’s teaching the [sic.] about Jesus Christ in the synagogue and daily examined the Scriptures to see if these things were possibly so (Acts 17.11). Since people would not have had their own collection of Biblical scrolls at home, this searching of the Scriptures would have taken place together at the synagogue. I can, to a degree, sympathize with Dr. Grams concerning the thin line between “sermonizing” (aka Oration) vs. “searching” the Scriptures and the training needed to clearly distinguish the two; however, and although we took the “ekklesia model” from the Greeks (for that is what Jesus used to describe what He would build among His followers)—we completely forsook Paul’s antithetical approach to Greek Oratory which was the “Jewish Synagogue” model of “searching the Scriptures” whether these things be so. Paul contended from the Scriptures—not from his oratorical skills: “. . . and my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God . . . However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory . . . But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God . . . These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (Excerpts from 1 Cor. 2:4-16). Paul wrote this with the backdrop of Greco-Roman oratory the norm of his day. Yet, somehow, we have gotten the notion that Paul’s oration on Mars Hill was his norm—no, it wasn’t. His “powers of persuasion” were found in “spirit and in power. THE EKKLESIA IS NOT THE GREEK AMPHITHEATER DESIGNED FOR ORATORY PERFORMANCES Furthermore, Paul’s discourse to the Corinthians regarding “your gathering together” was the “norm” in “all the ekklesia” not just in Corinth—there was NO PLACE for “sermonizing”! Dr. Grams is keenly aware of the propensity for Christians today to be “entertained” by the Orator. I hate to say it, however, jumping into the swimming pool in an effort to stay dry is impossible. It waddles like a duck, it quacks like a duck, and it swims like a duck—so, it’s probably an oratory-style sermon! Alas! The early brethren of His assemblies plunged willy-nilly into full-blown oratory with the vestigial remains, now witnessed in the homily-sermon within the ever-present nexus of the “church service’s” format—after all, you cannot have a “Church Service” without a sermon! This has stifled the expression of the verb: ekklesia. Instead, ekklesia has for centuries become a noun to be addressed by various leaders of the sheep whose orations excel the flock. I am NOT decrying the role of gifted ministers who wondrously proclaim the riches of His inheritance, His grace, His Person and Work in the Kingdom; however, their oratory skills (known as Homiletics in the common parlance of christianese) is best practiced, and is far more biblical in its dissuasion, in the context of a ministry wherein the saints are duly equipped by gifted brethren (the so-called five/four-fold ministries of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Teacher-Pastors—Eph. 4:11-13) to do the work of the ministry themselves! Instead, we have elongated the “sermon” to the extent that we’ve truncated the “service” of God’s people. Indeed, what you are reading and/or, hopefully, hearing here can be considered the prattling of such an oration in print! This is NOT the expression of an ekklesia—it is simply designed to inflate the practice of the ekklesia experience, drawing attention to the Peace of Christ as Referee in our hearts when we gather together to celebrate our “Life in the Son of His Love!” Tragically, today, as has been the practice of God’s people for centuries, we have nominated a special class of people de jure to be our “spokesman” at our gatherings (with, of course, minimal participation of a few integrated into the “program”). Forgive me, this is akin to “filling up the stadium” and rooting for the home team—brethren, get out of the stands and onto the playing field—you’re in the game . . . that’s where the Referee can be found! So is the Kingdom of the Son of His Love. He is the Referee among us – you cannot have a Referee or a soloist or, for that matter, a profoundly exquisite orator whose orations command the greatest of audience enthusiasm. Why? Because a sterling performance does not need a referee—yes, an audience—but not a referee. A Referee is needed when there is more than one performer if you would. Consider something so simple could go this far amiss in today’s Ekklesia—but it has and will continue to be the “accepted norm” because we would enjoy tradition and find ourselves comfortable in what accommodates us. After all, doesn’t someone have to referee or be the umpire when we gather together as His one Body? Yes, and guess who that Referee may be? Commonly known as the HEAD OF THE BODY! Teaching in public schools was my noble profession but the best of teachers, even now, engages students in the learning process—class participation at its best displays the genius of the instructor. Unilateral instruction is, obviously, from time to time in this secular sense, needful; however, unless and until the class has a “stake in the action” there will set in, most definitely, the “law of diminishing returns” – even among the best of teachers who are able to give repeated “command performances.” I hope this insight into the Kingdom of the Son of His Love has been helpful—I affirm this, and I hope you are open to this as well—the norm is having the Referee call the “shots” among us - for we have all been “called into One Body!” This is the GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM—the Kingdom of His Dear Son. You will be hearing a lot more of this at the “end of the age” – it is time, overtime; the Referee is about to call it—GAME OVER!
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