Fighting Words

This post about fighting words is a spinning-off of the post War and Rumors. This is not a complete study of fighting words. These Greek words have different English words they are translated into like strife, quarrel, boxing, and others. I used the NIV, Mounce Reverse-Interlinear, Strong’s Concordance, and the KJV to do this study.

Logomachia-G3055-1 Timothy 6:3-5. Fighting about words. It is used only once in the Bible.

Agōnizomai-G75-John 18:36 and 1Timothy 6:12 (the first word). This refers to a person fighting in public.

Agōn-G73-1Timothy 6:12 (Second word), 2 Timothy 4:7. This refers to where the fight is occurring, like a stadium.

Machomai-G3164-James 4:2. To fight, quarrel, contend or dispute. It is used in Acts 7:26 and other verses.

Polemeō-G4170-James 4:2 and Revelation 2:16. To quarrel, fight, battle, or make war.

Pykteuō-G4438-1 Corinthians 9:26. To box, fight, or beat with your fist. The object of this is beating (derō) the air.

Strateia-G4752-2 Corinthians 10:4. Military service or campaign. This word is also in 1 Timothy 1:18. In most translations, it has two “war or fight” words, but in the Mounce Interlinear, it only has one. It could be read-look at the prophecies about you and have a good campaign. I do not envy translators.

Theomachos-G2314-Acts 5:39. Fighting or opposing God. Theomachos is used only once in the Bible.

James 4:1 also has words that describe fighting/quarreling and disputes. It is polemos-G4171. Again, different translations will give you different words. This word is also used for battle or war.

Linguistics (study of words) is not a simple academic field. Combine that with dogma and you have a difficult task, to say the least. Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew may still be in use in one form or another, but I feel we do not understand how the original people used these words and phrases. My case-in-point is all of the musical terms and not-understood lines in the Hebrew text. If you really want to feel bad, wade into the tenses and break down of the ancient Greek text. Yes, these may be necessary but they are not for everyone.

I believe there is a good understanding and many faithful renderings of Scripture. It is distressing to see a modern Logomachia over Scripture. My prayer is that we do not extend this into a Theomachos over His plan and purpose for His Church. (They may have been used once in the New Testament but letters today would repeat them many times.)

As I pondered all of this, a strange comparison came into view. The original language that the New Testament was written in was Greek, not Latin. But it did not take long to convert Scripture and most religious writings into Latin. Greek was more for the common people and Latin was for knowledgeable people. Latin was favored by the learned- science, theology, and other subjects taught in universities. For what it is worth, the greatest thing the Reformers did was to translate the Bible out of a dying language to one that the people could understand.

The comparison and contrast I saw were the two trees in the Garden-one was for Knowledge and the other was for Life. Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom, with miracles confirming His words, were new treasures given to bring life to hurting people. This is why the Pharisees and Sadducees opposed Him, Jesus’ teachings clarified and used Scripture in a way that went against their knowledge. (Of course, claiming to be the Son of Man also got under their knowledge-skin and dogma.)

The modern fighting over words is now with liberal, woke, post-modernist who are changing the God-given uses of words into something different, something anti-God.  

Yeast

This study on yeast will focus on Matthew 16: 5-12, where we get the term “yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees”. Some background information will help make sense of my study. (See below for other studies on yeast.) I have termed this section of Scripture the third block of teaching about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:53 to 20:34).

Pharisees and Sadducees

The Sadducees aligned with the priest or kohen. It is probable that Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, was a Sadducee. The Temple was the center of their religious world.

The Pharisees believed more in the priesthood of every father for his family. They still worshipped at the Temple, but the local synagogue was their focus.

Both groups had their own “teachers of the Law”. Many times, the term applies to the Sadducees, but it may have been specific men inside each group.

In the Gospel of Matthew, there are four groups of scriptures that have these two groups in conflict with Jesus-Chapter 9, Chapter 12, Chapters 15-16, and Chapters 19-23. Yes, there are other references. Chapters 15 and 16 come after feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000. (Only Matthew and Mark have the feeding of the 4,000.) Matthew has the Pharisees confronting Jesus after the feeding of the 5,000 with the complaint that the disciples (people) did not wash their hands according to the oral tradition. Where would they find that much water on the mountainside? Matthew 15:12 states that Jesus’ answer offended them. After feeding the 4,000, the Pharisees demanded a “sign from heaven” to prove Jesus was for real. In Chapter 19, they ask about divorce and the same topic comes into play on the Temple Mount before Passover.

Yeast

In the Bible, there is two yeast. Physical yeast for making bread, beer, and wine (The Egyptians used baked bread to make beer.), and metaphorical yeast, as in Matthew 16:6 and Matthew 13:33. Most of the references to yeast carry a negative connotation however, in 13:33 it refers to the work of the Church of Jesus.

I want to share a yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees from 16:5-7. The disciples forgot bread and then decided Jesus was mad because- “It is because we didn’t”. Yes, this is just part of verse seven, but the principle is there. We didn’t do something; how can we be good enough?

The yeast of the kingdom is different. The best two examples I thought of were Matthew 28:19, “go and make disciples”. My other one is Acts 2: 42- “they devoted themselves to”. You may have others, but these are the two that came to my mind.

Yeast-Before Passover

Yeast, a Model of Church Growth

Yeast, All Bad?

What I Learned From Yeast

Logos-Seek

A look into the word “seek” is well worth the time. As with many words, seek changes in the number of times it is used and how it is rendered, depending on the translation you use. KJV has it almost 300 times, while the NIV has it about 150 times. Part of this study is to look at the word seek in the Greek-zeteo and its variation-epizeteo. I will reference Luke 12:30-31; Matthew 6:32-33 is the favored verse because it has “and His righteousness” in it. The biggest reason for using Luke is that it has the word seek in both verses. (Free thought-righteousness in Matthew is almost redundant because the only way to seek His kingdom includes looking for His righteousness. It is not a separate thing that stands out by itself or something separate.) Luke 12:30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV)

The first seek, associated with the world and pagans, is epizeteo. The prefix “epi” adds a lot to the meaning of zeteo. Epizeteo occurs thirteen times in the New Testament according to Mounce and is Strong’s # G1934. (PLEASE, do not look at just one reference source or dictionary for a meaning of a word.) A very general idea is that by adding “epi” it becomes intensified and is at an extreme level of seeking or wanting something. Matthew uses epizeteo two more times-12:39 and 16:4. Both refer to a wicked and adulterous generation that wants miraculous signs and all they will get is the sign of Jonah. (May I suggest you look at all the times epizeteo is used in the Gospels and the Epistles.) First, “the sign of Jonah” may not have been understood by those listening. We get it because the story has been narrowed down to the part where he was in the whale and “dead”. Second, the need for miracles on demand is and was a problem. Jesus used miracles to show that He had the power/authority of God working in Him so that they would seek God and His kingdom, not just the miracle. The Jews, by the first century, had developed a list of things the Messiah would have to do to be the Messiah. John in his Gospel speaks about the miracles. We have stressed seven, but there are more written in that book than just seven. We may need to see miracles, but God loves righteousness and wants us to enter His kingdom with a changed heart and life.

The second verse tells us to seek the kingdom of God, that seek is zeteo, it is Strong’s # G2212. So, why not switch the two words? The writer used epizeteo in Hebrews 11:14 and 13:14 when it talks about looking for the land and city of our own. I feel the important word in the second verse is “first” (proton) and not just the seek This word “first” is in Matthew 6:33. If we will first seek God because He wants a relationship with us and has given us Jesus on the cross, His blood that covers us, and grace for everything (pas) else; we may not care about going crazy for what the world has to run after.

In the First Covenant (Old Testament) God starts in Deuteronomy and goes to Malachi telling us to seek Him, that He loves it when we do, that we will be found by Him. One verse, however, stood out-Malachi 2:15. This speaks about what God seeks after-Godly offspring. That explains the attacks of the woke and ungodly against children in the womb and at such early ages of four and five years old.

https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/epizeteo

https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/zeteo

The Sermons on Two Mounts-Son of Man

As Jesus preached His sermons on the mounts, He said things to trigger responses from the audiences. One from the Mount of Olives was “son of man”. The Chosen series uses the phrase a lot, just as Jesus did according to the four Gospels. The Chosen, however, shows a very irate response from the Pharisees. Why was this so infuriating to them? A point for me to ponder from Tuesday of Holy Week is that Jesus did not use “son of man” on the Temple Mount. He said other things that I would label as “fighting words”-

  • The Parable of the Two Sons and the landowner’s vineyard were against the religious rulers, and they knew it. Matthew 21:45-46.
  • Matthew 22:18 Jesus called them hypocrites.
  • 22:29-32 Jesus said they were in error and did not know the Scriptures.
  • Matthew 23-the seven woes and denouncing the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. That would include the Sadducees. Part of the woes is 23:33, where the leaders are called snakes and vipers.

Son of Man—On the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24 -26:1 NIV) Jesus refers to Himself eight times as the Son of Man. The Chosen referenced Daniel 7:13 as the verse for the son of man as the Messiah. A genuine issue with this term is that it refers to the Messiah and to sons born to women (Daniel and Ezekiel are just a few). Because of my study about the Kingdom, I came to this conclusion a while ago-The Son of God became a son of man, so that children of man can become sons of God. Because Jesus’ blood covers us, all the Father sees when He looks at us is Jesus.

This study will not have many of the types and shadows that reveal Jesus, like Joseph, carrying the wood to the sacrifice. My study of Water and Blood led me to the beginning.

Messiah

  • Genesis 3:15 Her (Eve) offspring will crush the head of the serpent.
  • Isaiah 9:6 A child is born to us; a son was given, and the government was his. He would have the names of Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
  • Isaiah 11:1 A shoot or Branch would come from Jesse and bear fruit. The Spirit would rest upon Him. 
  • Psalm 80:17 The son of man that was raised up would be at the right hand of God. 
  • Daniel 7:13 The son of man was on the clouds of heaven being led into the presence of the Ancient of Days.
  • Acts 7:56 Stephen looks up and sees heaven, with the Son of Man (Jesus) at the right hand of God. Think why the Sanhedrin was mad-Jesus and His miracles, Pentecost, and the Apostles doing miracles.
  • Revelations 1:13, 12:5,14:14 All references to the son of man or male child being the ruler. 
  • Hebrews 2:6 is a reference to Jesus being a son of man.

Men 

  • Daniel 8:17 refers to Daniel himself.
  • Ezekiel has over ninety times God calls him the son of man. 
  • Psalm 90:3 sons of men returning to dust (by Moses).

The Sermons on Two Mounts- Stone, Rock, or Cornerstone 

When Jesus was doing His “sermons” from the two mounts, He talked about stones twice. He referenced one prophecy that was being fulfilled and made a prophecy that happened seventy years later. Jesus built His first lesson, starting with John the Baptist, laid a platform of parables about the kingdom, and finishes His fortress with a combination of Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 28:16. These two lessons started His time (Matthew 21:42) on the Temple Mount and finished His day there (Matthew 24:2). He references a mistake the builders of the first Temple made with the cornerstone and how they corrected the mistake to finish the building, and foretold that the stones of the Temple would be torn down.

We love to throw the imagery of Jesus being our rock, fortress, refuge, foundation, and stronghold around (Psalm 18:2) but places that inspired David and others to use those thoughts would add reality to their words. The rocks or mountains in the Negev and the desert west and south of the Dead Sea hold the key. Masada is one such place that clearly shows what David was envisioning when he penned his praises to God. These tall rugged mountains often stand proud, surrounded by plains that afford good views of the land.

Stone or Rock—We moderns have broken the meaning of rock and stone and cemented them into a slurry of inappropriate use. In doing this, we lose some of the meaning of rock and handle the term stone with less importance. Because of my science background, I will admit the materials I am talking about have the same origin. The difference rests in where they are and if a man has done anything to them. What I see in Scripture is rocks are anchored in the ground and not moved by man, while stones, by human efforts, are dug free, cut out, or picked up and handled. Before you think I have fallen and hit my head on a rock, or someone threw a stone at me, let me give some examples.

  • Matthew 27:60-Jesus was laid in a new tomb cut into rock (petra) and they rolled a large stone (lithos) into the entrance.
  • Matthew 7:24-the wise builder dug down and built his house on rock.
  • Psalm 118:22- the stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone.  

Rocks—David was around rocks. He sat on them as a shepherd and hid among them as a fugitive. He also picked up stones to throw in his sling. So, for him to take the poetic leap and see the qualities of God is not a huge jump. His heart and his creative nature as a songwriter/musician saw their qualities as a reflection of God’s love, care, and protection for him and Israel. There are many times the terms rock, refuge, and fortress appear in the same verse. I will list some but use a concordance or search tool to help you study.

David and the Psalmist use rocks, but so do the prophets. These are from the NIV. Your favorite version may use other terms.

Psalm 31:2

Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

Psalm 62:2

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 71:3

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

Psalm 91:2

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Isaiah 17:10

You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress.

            I will highlight Psalm 18:2– The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I like to think that David wrote that around the time of 1 Samuel 20:42 and then use part of it again in his opus work of 2 Samuel 22:2. David was running for his life, his world just collapsed and he pens a song to help remind himself who his God is. Psalm 18 pretty well covers David’s need for protection.

Stone—Rocks that are being useful to man are stone. There were gemstones in the breastplate that was made for the priest. David picked up stones to throw at Goliath. Rock was cut into stone water pots, blocks for buildings, thrown at people, and as memorials or markers. Depending on the translation you like Genesis 49:29 is the blessing to Joseph, and it says that I will be blessed because of the Hand of Shepherd and Stone/Rock of Israel. (I could not find a good Hebrew text that would clear that word up for me. Both terms are used in various translations).

Another type of stone that gets a lot of attention is the ones that become cornerstones. I have heard that the builders of Solomon’s Temple got a stone that they could not figure out where it belonged. In their frustration, they threw it away. They then complained that the cornerstone (the one that determined the angles and lines of the building) had not been sent. Psalm 118 tells the story that the one they rejected was that stone. They had to retrieve the stone. Jesus quotes that verse and Paul and Peter refer to Jesus as that stone. In Greek, the phrase is kephale gonia. I pieced together a loose translation of chief angle. Jesus is the chief stone that determined how His Church would be laid out and built.

Recap—Jesus is the Rock, who is our fortress and refuge, who became the Stone of Israel when He was born, and He became the Cornerstone of His Church.