Biblical Historical Studies:
Does not the ear try words, even as the palate tastes its food? (Job 12:11)
Let us consider the Scripture passage that tells us, "This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word shall be established." (2 Corinthians 13:1) We learn here that we are to establish every word out of the mouth of two or three witnesses. But what if we're not properly defining the words we are attempting to establish? Remember that all versions of scripture, other than the originals, are translations thereof. Therefore, every translation has an unknown middleman, or middlemen involved. In many cases we don't know much about these middlemen. We don't know whether they were righteous or wicked. We don't even know if they were believers or not! In many cases, the only prerequisite to become a translator was knowledge of both languages involved!
But what if the translator or translators were not well versed in the languages? What if they were they were perhaps fluent in both languages but maybe didn't understand sentence structure, for example, subject and predicate? What if they weren't skillful in determining if a sentence was communicating a statement, question, exclamation, or command? Unfortunately we just don't know if this was the case or not! The fact of the matter is that we know practically nothing about the people that translated our scriptures. Did they do it out of love for YAH or just to get a paycheck? Did they take a break when they got tired? Were they atheists? Did they believe, and if so what? Were any satanists? Did they intentionally distort things?
A disciple will encounter many questions that can't be answered. But is YAH to be mocked? "Let him who is taught in the word communicate to Him who teaches in all good things. Be not deceived! Elohim is not mocked. For whatsoever man sows that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:6-7) Truly, YAH is not mocked. For I, just as countless other disciples of YAH, found myself faced with this problem with the translators. So I communicated with HIM via prayer and He led me to tools such as concordances and lexicons. In fact, a disciple of YAH has a host of tools available to him/her today! These tools will assist in getting back to the unadulterated Word of Elohim as written in their original languages. Sometimes you'll learn that the translators have done a great job. Other times you'll find that they haven't done so great a job.
A disciple must also take into account that many of the present day translations were based upon the King James Version of the Bible (KJV). The KJV translation was originally completed in the year 1611. So even when the translators did a great job, often times the English words used are out-dated. These words may no longer mean the same thing today as they did back then! With that said, I will demonstrate how to use the "Strong's Concordance" ("Strong's"). I usually recommend this tool in addition to a Smith's Bible Dictionary ("Smith") and Zodhiates' "Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible ("Zodhiates"). For those embarking on this life long venture of studying scripture, a Smith's Dictionary is simple enough to use. On the other hand, Strong's can be a bit intimidating. Therefore, I will give a brief tutorial on Strong's.
To do this, I will present some imperative semantics for you to permanently inscribe into your minds. These are intended to assist you in understanding YAH'S word. It does not matter if you do everything right. If your understanding of the wording used is a perverted one, you will forever be awry from the truth. Therefore, let us begin our practice of imperative semantics with two Greek words "Bapto" and "Baptizo". According to Strong's, bapto (G911) means "dipper; bather; to cover wholly with fluid". It is used three times in KJV to denote "a temporal change". And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me. Send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am tormented in this flame. (Luke 16:24) Yahshuah answered, "He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it." And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. (John 13:26) And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of Elohim. (Revelation 19:13)
According to Strong's, baptizo (G907) means "to cover wholly with a fluid." It denotes a merger with the fluid i.e. permanent change and identification; going into the water but not coming out, used of drowning, flooding and in connection with ships sinking. They all denote a merger with the fluid and identification. This word is found 80 times in KJV including, Then came also publicans to be baptized (G907) and said to him, "Master, what shall we do?" And He said to them, "Exact no more than that which is appointed you." And the soldiers likewise demanded of Him, saying, "And what shall we do?" And He said to them, "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely and be content with your wages." (Luke 3:12-14) "Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit (ruach hachodesh) as well as we?" And He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Yahshuah. Then they prayed Him to tarry certain days. (Acts 10:47-48)
An earlier writing about Greek literature can help us understand the use of the words bapto and baptizo. The word baptizo was used from 400 B.C. to the second century after the Messiah. In Greek writings, baptizo always meant a change of identity. A document dated around 200 B.C. concerning the recipe for making pickles was found in the writings of a physician named Nicander, who used both words bapto and baptizo to describe the making of pickles. Nicander said that the cucumber should first be dipped (bapto) into boiling water and then baptized (baptizo) in the vinegar solution.
Both pickling steps immersed the cucumber in a solution. First, the cucumber was dipped into boiling water. This step was considered a temporary change. But the second step of baptizing the cucumber into the vinegar produced a permanent change. (Donald Gray Barnhouse, "Gods Freedom," Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1958) The following words of the "bapto" family also show there are slight differences between them that determined why they were used!
Baptisma (G908) means "to dip, to baptize." It indicates the result of the act. The suffix -ma indicates the result of the act of dipping. The word occurs 22 times and is translated "baptism" in KJV. The baptism of John, whence was it, from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, "If we shall say, from heaven; he will say to us, 'Why did you not then believe him?'" (Matthew 21:25 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark 1:4) Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. (Acts 1:22)
Baptistes (G910) means "a Baptist i.e. baptizer." This word is found 14 times in KJV including, In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, (Matthew 3:1) And said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist. He is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him. (Matthew 14:2)
Baptismos (G909) means "Ceremonial washing". The suffix -os indicates the completed act. The word occurs four times in KJV, three times for washing/washings and once for baptisms. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. (Mark 7:4) Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:10)
Embapto (G1686) means "to dip in." The prefix –em means "in/into." This word is found three times in KJV, including, And He answered and said, "He who dips his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me." (Matthew 26:23) And He answered and said to them, "It is one of the twelve who dips with me in the dish." (Mark 14:20) Yahshuah answered, "He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it." And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. (John 13:26)
Each of the previous words stem from "bapto" that means "to dip" while baptizo (G907) means "to cover wholly with a fluid" and denotes "a merger i.e. permanent change and identification; going into the fluid and becoming merged with it." Recall that in the example about how to make pickles, the result of the cucumber being 'baptizo-ed' i.e. baptized, is that it no longer is identified as a cucumber anymore. It has merged with the vinegar and the result is a pickle. Via the merger the cucumber is transformed into something new. Therefore if any man be in Messiah, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Consider the great commission found in Mark's Gospel. And He said to them, "Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized i.e. merged and identified shall be saved. But he who believes not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15-16)
Merged and identified with what? Water maybe? Understand that figuratively speaking one can be 'baptized' into just about anything. Further consider, Moreover, brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. (1 Corinthians 10:1-2)
Why did Paul use 'baptizo' in this instance? Could it be because since that time the people would no longer be identified with Pharaoh and Egypt, but rather had become merged and identified with Moses? Then Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized i.e. merged and identified every one of you in the name of Yahshuah haMessiach for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)
Today, we are baptized i.e. merged and identified with Yahshuah and Him alone. We are not identified with any other names, other than the name above all names, Yahshuah. Consider Paul's words, "For it has been declared to me of you, my brethren, by them, who are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you says, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Messiah. Is Messiah divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or, were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank Elohim that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in my own name." (1 Corinthians 1:11-15)
The crux of the matter is that in being baptized in the name of Yahshuah, the water involved is just symbolic. The baptism is the merger i.e. becoming one with Yahshuah and being identified with His name. Therefore, when someone asks what is your faith, you can tell them you are a "Yahushuite".
Let's examine another imperative semantic, the Greek word pistis (G4102) that is translated in KJV as "faith." It is related to a Hebrew word that is also translated as faith, "emun" (H529). The word means "established" and its primitive root word is "amam" (H539) which means "to build up, support."
According to Strong's, pistis is from a Greek word, "pitho" (G3982) that means "to convince, to rely on by inward certainty. Pistis means "persuasion i.e. credence; moral conviction of religious truth." "Persuasion" means "the act of influencing the mind by arguments or reasons offered, or by any thing that moves the mind or passions, or inclines the will to a determination." "Credence" means "belief; credit; reliance of the mind on evidence of facts derived from other sources than personal knowledge, as from the testimony of others." The word moral is applicable to actions that are good or evil, virtuous or vicious, and has reference to the law of Elohim as the standard by which their character is to be determined. Conviction means "the sate of being convinced or convicted by conscience."
Scripture gives further insight concerning pistis (faith). Now faith (G4102) is the substance (G5287) of things hoped for, (G1679) the evidence (G1650) of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
The word substance ("hupostasis") means "thing put under; substructure; foundation." The words "hoped for" ("elpizo") means "expect with desire." (From Zodiates) The word evidence ("elegchos") means "proof, evidence" according to Strong's.
Let's now read that last scripture verse with the definitions inserted. Now reliance of the mind on evidence of facts derived from the scriptures i.e. moral conviction is the foundation of things expected the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
To put it another way, when your conscience convinces you that something is right or wrong based upon the scriptures; this is the foundation of things hoped for. It is also the evidence (proof) of things not seen.
That is what 'pistis' faith is all about. This begs a question, how do we obtain it? But they have not all obeyed (G5219) the gospel, for Isaiah said, "YAH, who has believed (G4100) our report (G189)?" So then faith comes by hearing (G189), and hearing by the word of Elohim. (Romans 10:16-17)
Let's look at the meaning of the original words translated in KJV as "obeyed", "has believed" and "report". The word "obeyed" ("hupakouo", G5219) means "to hear under; obey." It is a compound word from "hupo" (G5259) meaning "under" and "akouo" (G191) meaning "to hear" (in various senses, like the faculty of hearing, obeying, judging, etc.) The translation "has believed" (pisteuo, G4100) means "to have faith." Its root word is "pistis" (G4102) which means "moral conviction." The words translated "report" and "hearing" ("akoe", G189) mean "hearing." These are related to the word "akouo" (G191) which means "to hear".
Let's insert these definitions into the previous scripture verse for the sake of clarity. But they have not all heard under (obeyed) the gospel for Isaiah said, "YAH, who has moral conviction via our hearing and obeying?" So then, moral conviction comes by hearing and obeying, but hearing and obeying by (through) the word of Elohim. (Romans 10:16-17)
Note that I inserted "obeying" along with "hearing" as part of the defined words in this text. Here's why. Paul begins verse 16 speaking of obeisance to the gospel. This is the main clause, and thereby imposes the precedence of obeisance for the subordinate clause, which is Isaiah's quote. In connection to obeisance to the gospel, therefore, when he says "who has moral conviction through our hearing", this "hearing e.g. report" also connotes obeisance.
Consider how we obtain the prophets' reports. Their hearings come via YAH. We obtain them only via the prophet's obedience to "report" their hearings of YAH abroad. Additionally, consider the Hebrew word for "hear" is "shama" (H8085), which not only means to hear, but also to obey. We find this concept of identifying obeisance with hearing even today. Therefore faith, that is, moral conviction, comes by hearing and obeying. But hearing and obeying whom? It is through hearing and obeying the word of Elohim i.e. Yahshuah haMessiach. Pistis, i.e., faith, is when one is morally convicted to do something that's in agreement with scripture. We obtain this faith via hearing and obeying the scriptures i.e. Yahshuah. Therefore if we hear our conscience telling us to do something that contradicts scripture, we shall know that it is not YAH, and we are not to follow. Hence YAH says, And a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him for they know not the voice of strangers. (John 10:5)
The next imperative semantic we will study is "righteous" and "righteousness". These refer to one's actions in conformity to their moral convictions. The word righteous (dikaios, G1342) refers to one who acts conformably to justice and right (when used in the masculine or feminine, adjectivally of persons (From Zodhiates) The word righteousness (dikaiosune, G1343) is a feminine noun that means conformity to the claims of higher authority and stands in opposition to anomía (G458), or lawlessness. This word is derived from díkaios (G1342). (From Zodhiates)
Let's read some verses that involve righteousness. But the righteousness which is of faith speaks on this wise, Say not in your heart, who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Messiah down from above :) Or, who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Messiah again from the dead.) But what does it say? The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart. That is the word of faith, which we preach. This is that which was spoken of YermeYahu. (Romans 10:6-8) Behold, the days come," says YAHUAH, "that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them," says YAHUAH. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days,' says YAHUAH," I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts. I will be their Elohim and they shall be my people." (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
Let's look again at Romans 10 (with definitions inserted). But the conformity to the claims of higher authority, which is of moral convictions, speaks on this wise, Say not in your heart, who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above.) Or, who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what does it say? The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart. That is the word of moral conviction, which we preach. (Romans 10:6-8)
Now consider the following verses. That if you shall confess (G3670) with your mouth the Lord (G2962) Yahshuah, and shall believe in your heart that Elohim has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believe unto (G1519) righteous and with the mouth confession is made (G3670) unto (G1519) salvation. For the scripture says, "Whosoever believe on Him shall not be ashamed." (Romans 10:9-11)
The word confess/confession (homologeo, G3670) means "to assent i.e. covenant; contract." (From Strong' and Zodhiates) The word Lord (kurios, G2962) means supreme authority i.e. controller (Strong's) The word unto (eis, G1519) conveys a meaning with the primary idea of motion into any place or thing; also of motion or direction to, toward or upon any place, thing.
Let's reread the last verses with these concepts inserted. That if one make covenant/contract with your mouth with the supreme authority Yahshuah, and shall have moral conviction in your heart that Elohim has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man has moral conviction toward conformity to higher authority and with the mouth covenant is made toward salvation. For scripture says, "Whosoever has moral conviction by Him shall not be ashamed." (Rom. 10:9-11) Paul says with the heart, man has moral conviction 'toward' righteousness i.e. conformity to higher authority. What higher authority? None other than the supreme authority i.e. Yahshuah with whom one made covenant/contract with in verse 9! Further consider that if you are going toward something, then you haven't yet acquired it. It isn't until you begin to act on these moral convictions that it is imputed as righteousness.
James put it this way, "What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith and has not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say to them, 'Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled.' Notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. If faith i.e. moral convictions can't save us then how might we be saved?" (James 2:14-17)
Let's practice one more time reading KJV scripture with definitions inserted. For there is no difference between Yahudim and Greek, for the same supreme authority over all is rich unto all who call upon (G1941) Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name (G1941) of the supreme authority shall be saved. (Rom. 10:12-13) The words call upon/call upon the name (epikaleomai) mean "to entitle, invoke, surname, call upon (depend on)." For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same supreme authority over all is rich unto whosoever shall depend on him. For whosoever shall depend on the supreme authority shall be saved. (Romans 10:12-13)
I pray you can see how fundamental these imperative semantics are to our understanding of Elohim's Word. Did they mean what you originally thought before reading this article? If so, good for you! But if not, I encourage you to heed (2Tim. 2:14), and begin to "Study to show yourself approved". For, there are many imperative semantics that are commonly misconstrued.
Until next time, shalom v barukot, that is, "peace and blessings"