The blood that Jesus is believed to have shed on the cross has inspired hymns (William Cowper, "There is a Fountain filled with Blood" 1772), has been made the subject of movie films (Mel Gibson, "The Passion of the Christ" 2004—garishly bloody), and if memory serves, evoked many (forgettable) sermons. It is striking, however, that the death of Jesus in the synoptic gospels is described as a bloodless event.1 Jesus is struck, beaten, scourged, and crucified, but blood is not mentioned. John (20:20, 25) and the Gospel of Peter (6:1) allude, after the event, to his hands being nailed in the act of crucifying him. But the only actual mention of blood during the crucifixion comes in the Gospel of John when "one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water" (19:34), prompted no doubt by the early Christian belief in prophecy (John 19:36-37; Zech 12:10)—so blood had to be spilled because it was prophesied. That the crucifixion was a bloody affair seems due to later Christian imagination, but not to the imagination of the evangelists who described the crucifixion.
How, then, did the idea that one "is saved by the blood of Jesus" enter into Christianity? It was not the only interpretation of the death of Jesus available to the earliest followers of Jesus. For example Phil 2:5-11, a pre-Pauline hymn, understands Jesus' death on the cross as an exaltation of Jesus with no reference to blood or even to the resurrection of Jesus. Acts 2:22-24, 32-33 interprets the significance of the death of Jesus as resurrection and exaltation; no blood is mentioned. The centurion present at the death of Jesus in Luke (23:47) described his death as the death of a righteous (dikaios) man, but the centurion in Mark (15:39) proclaimed his death as that of a divine man (theos anēr).
In the earliest Pauline letter Paul describes Jesus' death as a "killing" (cf. Acts 2:23) rather than a crucifixion (1 Thess 2:14-16). He adds later, almost as an afterthought, that his death was "for us" (1 Thess 5:10); no blood is mentioned.2 In the later Pauline letters, however, the "killing" of Jesus becomes the crucifixion of Jesus (1 Cor 1:23, 2:2, 8) and Jesus' blood, shed in our behalf, becomes essential in describing the salvation event (Rom 3:24-25, 5:9; 1 Cor 10:16, 11:24-27).
Those writers of the New Testament who came later than Paul were also insistent that the blood of Jesus was essential for the salvation of human beings. The blood of Jesus appears in the deutero-Pauline essays as a standard feature in describing the salvation event (Eph 1:7, 2:13; Col 1:20; blood was added to Col 1:14 by a later scribe). The author of Hebrews is, perhaps, rather dogmatic about the necessity of Jesus' blood being shed when he writes, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Heb 9:22; cf. 9:7, 9:12, 9:14, 10:19, 13:11-12).3 The necessity that the blood of Jesus be shed is well documented in the Apostolic Fathers (1 Clement 7:4; 12:7, 49:6; Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 1:1; 6:1; To the Ephesians 1:1; To the Philadelphians Intro.; Barnabas 5:1).
The earliest mention of the blood of Jesus appears in the liturgical tradition of the church. Paul inherited the blood idea through the liturgy being passed on to him in what he called the Lord's Supper celebration (1 Cor 11:23-26; see also Mark 14:24; Matt 26:27-28; Luke 22:20; John 6:53-56; Ignatius to the Philadelphians 4:1). The author of Hebrews (9:1-28) makes clear that the necessity of Jesus' blood being spilled came into the Christian tradition through the church's use of the Hebrew Bible as the Word of God (2 Tim 3:15-17). The ancient Hebrews believed that the life of any creature was in its blood. Yahweh had said to Moses:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life (Lev 17:11; cf. 17:14).
It is understandable that a primitive would come to the conclusion that the life of every creature is in its blood by observing that when exsanguination occurs the creature dies. Today, however, we know that life systems are more complicated. For example, one could argue from knowledge of the human circulatory system that the life of a human being resides in the heart, for the heart pumps the blood. One dies when the heart fails without one drop of blood being spilled. Or one might argue on the basis of the human respiratory system that life resides in the lungs, for the lungs oxygenate the blood that circulates oxygen throughout our bodies. In other words, the life systems of mammals are more complicated and the life of the organism is dependent on much more than its blood.
One passage that confuses the issue is Rom 5:9-11, where Paul says that "we are now justified by his (Jesus) blood" and "now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." So what saves the Christian, Jesus' blood or his life (resurrection)?
This has been a strange essay since to judge from the Bible God expects people to forgive one another without spilling anyone's blood (Col 3:13; Eph 4:32; Luke 17:3-4). Go figure! Apparently God (if God there be) expects us to do without spilling blood what s/he thought could only be done by spilling blood.
Charles W. Hedrick
Missouri State University
1I understand Matt 27:24-25 as being metaphorical, meaning that Pilate was not responsible for Jesus' death rather than as a description of the crucifixion that followed. This incident is not found in the other gospels.
2See Hedrick, "Paul's Cross Gospel and 1 Thessalonians," pgs. 113-15 in Unmasking Biblical Faiths. The Marginal Relevance of the Bible for Contemporary Religious Faith (Cascade, 2019).
3See also 1 Pet 1:2, 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7; Rev 1:5, 5:9, 12:11.
That tracing of blood references, or lack of them, was a real education.
In your next to last paragraph, could it be that we are looking at an example of Hebrew poetic parallelism.
justified by his blood
Saved by his life
Blood and life would be considered equivalent descriptions of the saving process. Two different ways of saying the same thing.
Good Morning Gene,
The way I paired the statements it certainly looks parallel, but when I read Romans 5:8-10 it does not look as parallel as it seems from my pairing.
Your book is excellent by the way- I'm very much enjoying reading it. I got a pedicure for the first time in three months today, and I was glad to have your book to keep me company. I like books and prefer the printed page to electric screens.
1) I'm very interested in the difference between the blood of Jesus and the life of Jesus... which one saves us? Again, you are the only person who has distinguished between the two because of your exact and precise reading of the text. You would be astonished at how pastors use those terms interchangeably. I'm glad you delineate the stark contrast between those two terms. To me- they are completely different. Have you ever heard the hymn/song called "By His Stripes We are Healed?" There's a lot of songs and sayings about how we are "healed by his blood." Have you ever heard someone pray "In the name and in the blood of Jesus- Satan be gone?" That was common in my church.
2) People use the "name" of Jesus to pray and command certain things... Did you know that? "In the name of Jesus, I command this so and so to be free." What do you think about Christians "using" the blood (and the name) of Jesus to gain victory in spiritual warfare? They use his name and his blood as shields from the powers of darkness. Did you know that?
3) Sorry- last question. This question is for you, Gene, or Dennis if any of you have an answer for it. If not, that's ok. I always assumed that the disciples of Jesus were Jewish. Is there any historical evidence that directly addresses whether or not his disciples were of Jewish descent? The reason I ask is because Andrew, Philip, and Bartholomew are not Jewish names and do not have a Jewish equivalent like Matthew or Peter or Paul. Is it plausible to believe that some of Jesus's disciples were Greek? If so, why? Was it common or normal for an itererant Jewish sage to hang out with a bunch of Greeks?
That's all for now... Thank you again!! Elizabeth
When I first read the title of the essay I immediately thought, “Has a metaphor ever saved anyone?” I see “blood” (haima)as a stand-in for “bloodshed” or “death” in a majority of its uses in the New Testament. (I haven’t looked at Hebrews or Revelation.) When was it transformed into the magical “potion” it is in churches? I think it had to be understood in a different way at some point, symbol of the “corporate expiation” of Jesus. The best time I think, was when Docetism became a controversy. These sects had their texts that Jesus was merely sent in the “likeness of flesh” in Romans 8.3, or in the form of God “emptying himself” into the form of a slave (Phil. 2.6-7). This seemed to cause a conflict in the second century. Even the authors of John and canonical Luke, presumably the latest of the canonical gospels, present a risen Jesus who had a body that could consume food and be touched, in other words “flesh and blood.” Why (or when) was this important if there was a distinction between an earthly and heavenly body?
Docetism is seen as a problem in the Ignatiana, where in Trallians 9.1 – 10.1 the author argues that Jesus was “truly born, both ate and drank,” though some say, “... his suffering was only a semblance.”) In Smyrnaeans 2 – 7 there is a section devoted to this. Aside from using blood and flesh literally, at points the author speaks of blood of Jesus metaphorically as “love” (Trallians 8.1, Romans 7.3), and “eternal and abiding joy” (Philadelphias,Greeting). A figure that is “without bodies and phantasmal” (Smyrnaeans 2) is by definition, missing blood and flesh. A “transfusion” was sorely needed to fight those pesky Ophites, Sethians, Valentinians and others. (Chapter 30 of Book 1, Irenaeus, AH, is a great look at his portrayal of the cosmological world of the first two. Jesus was crucified, but not Christ, in that scenario.) It seems to me that “blood” as part of the liturgy was probably a reaction to what was considered “bad teaching” or “strange doctrines.” The reaction also points toward the notion of blood as atonement for moral impurities, found in Tanakh.
Would some of the readers of, for instance Romans and 1 Corinthians, have read “blood” in places as “death” or “murder?” That would render Romans 3.25 as “of atonement by his death,” 5.9 as “justified by his death?” They sound sacrificial. After those, the Eucharist in 1 Cor.11 and a reference in 1 Cor. 10 (which is about altars of other religions) exhaust the Paulines of references to Jesus’s “blood.”
Dennis Dean Carpenter
Good Morning Elizabeth,
Thank you for the positive reinforcement on my book. I too prefer printed pages to screens.
1) I am not the only one who has commented on the oddity of Romans 5:8-10. We stand on the shoulders of the giants who have preceded us. And I do not know the song "by his stripes" (Isa 53).
1)I have heard people use such expressions. It strikes me as a kind of magic. There are several collections of such expressions in Graeco-Roman and Coptic antiquity.
3) Paul is a Gentile name. Paul's Jewish name was Saul (Acts 9:1 and 13:9). Peter's Jewish name was apparently Kephas (Gal 2:9).
Thanks for this insightful observation that the historical occasion for insisting on a "bloody crucifixion" was the docetic controversy. Docetics had the idea that Jesus was not human but only seemed to be human. It was this idea that the author of 1st John was reacting to (1 John 1:1, 4:2-3). In short it was as a push-back from within the orthodox community that the idea of a bloody crucifixion crept into the Eucharist. I note that the celebration of the Eucharist in Didache 9:1-5 emphasized the broken bread and does not mention blood, although it does mention the cup.
Responding to Elizabeth's name origin Q:
It would seem that to say that a name was either Jewish, or Greek, or some other, is probably an over simplification:
1. Blind Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was said to be cured of blindness by Jesus as he left Jericho, and "followed Jesus on the way." (Mark 10:46-52)
"Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character Timaeus of Locri, written c. 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings..."
2. "The Twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna..." (Luke 8:1-3)
"Joanna's name as given is Greek in form, although it ultimately originated from the Hebrew masculine name 'Yôḥānān meaning 'God is gracious'. In Greek this name became Ιωαννης Iōannēs, from which Iōanna was derived by giving it a feminine ending. The name Joanna, like Yehohanan, was associated with Hasmonean dynasty (140B.C.-63B.C.) families."
Here's a real kicker: "The name Chuza originated as an Israeli name. The name Chuza is most often used as a girl name or female name. In Israeli, the name Chuza means - the seer or prophet."
Hi Charlie and Dennis,
I admit that I've never heard of docetism... Do either of you know who introduced this idea? Does it seem that there are endless concepts surrounding the existence and substance of Jesus that people have been arguing over for millennia? I am truly astonished at the degree of minute detail that believers find to argue about concerning the person of Jesus. It's part of why I am hesitating to become Catholic... In other words, I just don't care about Jesus's blood. It's not an all consuming, life and death issue to me. (If I said that to my family, they would disown me.)
All that to say- thank you for bringing up the docetic controversy. It makes me realize that I'm not cut out for religious programming anymore... My brain is tired. I don't have enough energy to go through the machinations of transubstantiation and its origins. Makes gnosticism seem like a walk in the park ;-) Elizabeth
First of all, thank you Gene for providing the origin of those names- that is fascinating to me. I understand that the origin of the name is over simplifying the issue- but the real question that I'm getting at is this: Were Jesus's disciples Jewish or not?
In other words- going by their names (Andrew, Bartholomew, Philip), they were not. Do you know a Jew named Philip? I don't. So my question is- why weren't Jesus's disciples actually Jewish? How many of his disciples non-Jews??
More importantly- does it matter whether or not Jesus's disciples were Jewish??? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Many thanks as always, Elizabeth
I'm sorry Gene, but I just talked to my husband and I really need to get to the bottom of this... My husband is fed up trying to answer me-he's one of Charlie's former students and he said "I don't know! Go ask Dr. Hedrick:" (can you imagine being married to me?? I'd drive you crazy) Anyway- what about Mark? How many Jews do you know named Mark? Is that a true Hebrew name? Was Mark really Jewish??
What is the likelihood of non-Jew Greeks following Jesus around in Israel?? Why would they have given him the time of day, much less been his disciple? Is that in any way historically documented at all?? If you can direct me to any information whatsoever, I'm all ears. Thank you as always! Elizabeth
Perhaps Charlie or Dennis can be more specific. The point that I'm trying to make is that a name might not have been a reliable indicator of ethnicity in first century Palestine. The conquests of Alexander the Great spread Greek culture across the known world in an all pervasive manner. It seems that several hundred years later, names of non-Jewish or mixed origin were common.
When the gospel author tradition called “Mark,” (the earliest narrative of the “choosing of the twelve”) created his cast of “extras,” (only four are "used" in the largely fictive book) he was writing in Greek, not a Semitic language, probably to a mixture of ethnicities, and certainly to those whose language was Greek. In his use of the Jewish scriptures he generally used the Greek version. It was a Greek world. Even one of the famous Maccabean priest kings, Alexander, was a Greek name. Philo, the famous Alexandrian Jew and his brother Alexander, were Jews with Greek names. Philo didn't know Hebrew. “Mark” was not only the one ascribed by tradition as the author of the earliest gospel, his was a non-Semitic name (Etruscan, from what I read), and also the name of a Roman emperor (Mark Anthony).
Jews were set apart not by name in the first century and not set apart by language or geography (many living in other regions of the empire, the diaspora), but by ethnic, religious practices.
Other than the ironic nicknames of "Rock" and "Boanerges," and the association of Judas with Judean (very similar even in Greek), the names seem to be placeholders that were important as symbols, not as actual historical figures.
Dennis Dean Carpenter
Another factor, relating to "identity": The setting for most of Mark (and the other synoptics) was Galilee. It was not annexed by Judea until around 100 bce, which only lasted until 63 bce, when Rome entered the picture, and was an area where the population was of mixed ethnicities. According to Burton Mack(The Lost Gospel), it was Hellenized by the Ptolemies and Selucids. Cities had Hellenistic theaters, arenas and schools. Even when Judea and Rome went to war, according to Josephus (Wars 2.646), there were many Galileans in Tiberias and Sephhoris who were against the Judean war that Josephus had to “subdue.” It should come as no surprise that there would have been people there with Greek names., and probably Roman names.
Dennis Dean Carpenter
If you wish, Elizabeth, you could use the phrase "Galilee of the Gentiles" as a memory trigger for all of this material. Apparently, Gentiles gained a foothold in the region in large numbers when the Assyrians defeated and exiled Israeli tribal families in the 8th century. We find Isaiah 9:1 quoted/paraphrased at Matthew 4:15-16:
"Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, 'Galilee of the Gentiles'--the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light..." (NRSV)
These factors seem to call into question Matthew's following claim regarding Jesus' words and intent: "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (10:5-6; NRSV)
Ok Gene, thank you... I think I get it: "The point that I'm trying to make is that a name might not have been a reliable indicator of ethnicity in first century Palestine. The conquests of Alexander the Great spread Greek culture across the known world in an all pervasive manner. It seems that several hundred years later, names of non-Jewish or mixed origin were common." That sheds some light on the situation- thank you.
And many thanks to Dennis for this insight: "Jews were set apart not by name in the first century and not set apart by language or geography (many living in other regions of the empire, the diaspora), but by ethnic, religious practices." And for this insight: "the names seem to be placeholders that were important as symbols, not as actual historical figures." And also for his last entry- everything preceding the statement "It should come as no surprise that there would have been people there with Greek names., and probably Roman names." I can see that- thank you. (my husband thanks you too because now I'll quit bugging him about it)
My next question would be this: it's one thing to convince non-Jewish Gentiles that you're the Messiah... Ok, fine. They're not Torah observant- what do they care? However, it's a whole other kettle of fish to convince a Torah observant Jew that Jesus is the promised Messiah prophesied by Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, etc... That's why Jews for Jesus preys upon the elderly and the infirm so they don't ask some really tough questions that Jews for Jesus has no answer for. I've seen the tips for "tricking" Jews into believing Jesus is the promised coming Messiah and how to use Jewish terminology to convince them that they are not becoming "Christians" but "Messianic Jews." It's pretty insidious, in my opinion. As I've said before, even the vaunted Billy Graham did not support Jews for Jesus or any form of proselytization of Jews into Christians.
Thank you again to Dennis and Gene, Elizabeth
Good Morning Elizabeth,
Here is what the very brief entry in the New Interpreters' Dictionary of the Bible (vol.2.154) says about the origins of Docetism:
"The first identification of a docetist group is around 190 when Serapion opposed the Gospel of Peter because it was altered by those 'whom we call Docetists' (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 6.12)." I would suspect their origins went back at least to 150, which is contemporary with the date of 2 Peter.
History may have other lessons to teach us in this matter.
It is no accident that when one enters a Roman Catholic Church that one sees Jesus hanging from a cross, and when one enters a protestant church (of any stripe) one sees an empty cross. Christians are saved by the death (blood) and the resurrection (life), but there is disagreement in emphasis.
"Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified. The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing works of the law or by believing what you heard?" (Galatians 3:1b-2)...the fruit (actions) of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law against such things." (Galatians 5:22-23)
They replied, "Believe on the LORD (risen) Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household." (Acts 16:31)
If you confess with your lips that Jesus is LORD (risen) and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
Ephesians 2:4-9 God...rich in mercy...out of great love...made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--And raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places...For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.(Ephesians 2:4-9)
"God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, much more surely having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life." (Romans 5:8-10)
Evidence of being "saved" = living out the fruits of the Spirit, the Spirit which one receives upon hearing and believing that Jesus died on the cross so that god could/would forgive our sins. Living in the spirit results in resurrection. Often, it seems, part of the story is spoken and the rest is assumed. For example, if one only had the verses in Acts 16, Romans 10, and Ephesians 2 neither death nor crucifixion are mentioned.
Thank you Gene- there is definitely disagreement in emphasis of whether we are saved by Jesus's blood or Jesus's life. Another emphasis is on "belief"... We are either saved or condemned by what we believe. That's a very western idea and completely opposite of Eastern religious philosophy. In my opinion, western preachers have made idols out of their beliefs about the blood and resurrection of Jesus- to which they cling blindly and uncompromisingly.
With regard to Jesus's blood- what is your understanding of the role of blood in God's forgiveness? In other words- where did the idea come from that God can't forgive humans without bloodshed? Is that on Old Testament or New Testament principle? Charlie very pointedly asked a very profound question to which I have no answer: He asked why is it that we are expected to forgive the sins of our fellow human beings without the shedding of blood? God cannot forgive a single transgression unless bloodshed has taken place... Really? Is that idea found in the Torah?
The sacrificial system laid out in Leviticus never says God refuses to forgive sins without blood sacrifice. In fact, the Hebrew scriptures are full of examples where God forgave without one drop of blood whatsoever- God forgave David for his adultery with Bathsheba without a sin offering... II Chron. 7:14 mentions repentance only, no bloodshed. Where in Leviticus does it say that blood sacrifice is the ONLY way for God to forgive sin? I don't see the word "only." I understand what the day of Atonement is, but in no way does it imply one cannot receive forgiveness without a burnt offering at any time whatsoever.
I've been taught my whole life that the God of the "Old Testament" is a mean taskmaster with no mercy... And that the God of the NT is much more merciful and full of grace and forgiveness that the old curmudgeon of Leviticus and Judges and Isaiah. How is it more merciful to say the wages of sin is death? Whereas the Tanakh only asks for repentance? Which covenant has more mercy, the old or the new?
Thank you for your insights, I'd love to hear more- Elizabeth
Here's my summary of how to relieve the burden of religious complexity:
The heart of the Pauline message is inspired fruit, fruity behavior, followed by an inspired after-life body. The law cannot inspire fruit.
Problem: The fruity inspiration was thought to come from applying the temple-blood-sacrifice approach to the crucifixion of Jesus.
Historical testimony: Jesus was raised from the dead.
Reflection: It makes no sense to ignore the life of Jesus when trying to understand him.
The attitudes of Jesus plus the resurrection hope is the best way to adopt a life of fruity behavior.
As I work through my “Church Daddiy’s” writings contemplating your question, I found a great proof text of the symbolic use of blood, used in this case to show that through the death of Jesus the blood of Jesus sanctified humanity. This came from the fifth century.
In Dialogue 3 of Theodoret of Cyrus’s dialogue with Eranistes, Theodoret uses Lev. 14.50-53 as a proof of blood as being symbolic of the taking of “the suffering upon itself” (p. 202 in CUA Press). Contextually, the passage refers to purging a house from contamination like mildew or rot, which is associated with a person’s skin and diseases of the skin. (The rule he quotes has the priest get two birds, slaughter one bird, dip the live bird (and so forth) with the blood of a dead one and to take it outside of town to release as expiation for the house.)
After I finish with this one, it is Didymus the Blind and then my favorite, Fulgentius. (I have looked at Gospel of Philip, Justin, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Irenaeus thus far... Keeps my grey cells gray.
Dennis Dean Carpenter
Thank you again Gene- and while I do see how the attitudes of Jesus plus the resurrection hope is the best way to adopt of life of fruity behavior... I do get that- and your book expounds upon it very powerfully and easily understood by a layperson like me :-) At the same time, I wonder if you could answer this question about "the law." What is the "law?" Isn't the law simply the word of God? If the law cannot inspire fruit- why did God give it to the Israelites? Did he know beforehand that it would not inspire fruit? Just wondering. Thank you as always! Elizabeth
Elizabeth, I would say that whether divinely handed over on written tablets or the product of cultural humanism, the function of law is to control boundaries. Paul mistakenly thought that it was no longer needed with the outpouring of Spirit and the second coming of the Messiah on tomorrow's horizon. But here we are two millennia later and every boundary imaginable is being regulated, and if you ask any Christian what the fruit of the Spirit is, I bet they'd be hard pressed to say.
Gene, it seems to me like the Paulines were writings of law and instruction/teaching (the dual meaning of Torah) to a significant extent. Just as the books of the Torah contained myth and legend in the form of narrative and history along with their laws and instruction, the Paulines purposefully guided instruction and the “laws of Paul” in the form of a Greco-Roman letter. They merely weren’t called “law.” That isn’t surprising, since the word Torah is rarely used in the first three books of the Torah, until one gets to Numbers and Deuteronomy. In the Paulines, one needs only to think of the lists of behaviors that excludes one from the kingdom or for which one should hate another, shun another, even “evil” behaviors for which one should die. Those are parameters, as is 1 Cor., which is a compendium of instruction about a group of instructions for assemblies. The letters had a didactic and exhortatory purpose, probably their major purpose. (Even the situations” found in the letters deal with the author telling the audience what to do, just as the god of the Hebrew protagonists were directed in parts of the Torah.)
Dennis Dean Carpenter
Dennis, certainly what you have to say is basically accurate. Paul set forth opinions on behaviors for a social in-group known as Christian believers. The opinions frequently seem somewhat unrelated to what he tells us is his motivational source, the fruit of the Spirit.
Jesus seems to have done a better job of applying in-spired fruity attitudes to the community at large.
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