EMPERORS (see ROMAN
EMPIRE see for example AMERICAN Empire, DAMASCUS CALIPHATE, BAGHDAD, COMMUNISM, NAZISM, NIMROD, ROME.
EMPOWERMENT As opposed to the model of aid as feeding the poor to save them from starvation, more and more secular and Christian agencies are committed to empowering the oppressed to solve their own problems. The New Testament shows us how the Holy Spirit can do this in the lives of all who look to him for help. For powerless people all over the world Jesus announced that "He who believes in me will also do the works that I do, and greater works than these will he do" (John14:12). Paul said "I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith" (Romans 1:16 - the introduction to the Romans Commentary shows that the epistle is about the transforming power of the Holy Spirit). As he explained "we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7, see 10:4). It has been demonstrated all over the world that the quickest way to empower oppressed people is to plant a church of the Holy Spirit among them. This is what Paul did and turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
ENEMIES There is a Yiddish saying, "When your enemy falls, don't rejoice, but don't pick him up either." The first half is based on the proverb "Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your hearts be glad when they stumble" (Proverbs 24:17,18). What Jesus said was very different "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemies.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45). Jesus is not suggesting we won't have enemies, nor that we should let them walk over us. We have to defend ourselves, and our family, and even defend others. We also have to assign consequences, as when an abuser is a danger to our children. But we are to learn to love the way God does, and he loves enemies as much as he loves us.
ENEMIES, Fighting This summer we
welcomed my old friend Andrew Merrick to our cottage for two weeks. As
a result of a stroke he can't read, or write, or speak. But as soon as
I used words like Hurricane, Spitfire, Lysander, Messershmidt, Fokker,
Heinkel, he came alive. When friends joined us I told them his story. He
was a fighter pilot in the Polish air force. On September 1, 1939 all their
planes were destroyed the first day of the German invasion. With a whole
group of other pilots they walked out through Hungary to the coast, and
made their way by ship to England. They were immediately formed into a
Polish squadron, and they flew Hurricanes throughout the Battle of Britain.
Their job was to shoot down the bombers while the escorting fighter planes
tried to pick them off. Andrew was shot down twice and came down by parachute.
The second time he was on a sortie over France. As his Spitfire burst into
flames the attacking plane was also shot down. The German pilot had him
brought to the officers' mess, and they had a great evening wining and
dining as they discussed the dog fights. Then they saluted each other and
Andrew was taken to the prison camp. I could see that Andrew was pleased
I had remembered his story. I often use it to show that we have to defend
ourselves against attack, but we can still love and respect our enemies.
ENERGY Einstein related matter to energy in his famous formula (E = m/c squared). Scientists have concluded that the BIG BANG was a high energy source which changed into the matter of our world. The first atom bomb showed how matter can be changed back into energy. But the Bible begins with LIGHT as the original energy source (Genesis 1:3). And we know that plants need light for their kind of life. Animals can then turn plant life into the energy needed to run, hunt, play, build nests and procreate. In addition to their ordinary animal skills, humans can access the energy of the HOLY SPIRIT to overcome the inertia of the FLESH (explained in Romans 7:14-8:8). We can receive INSPIRATION to produce the extraordinary fruit and gifts of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Colossians 1:28). It was the same energy of the Holy Sprit that raised Jesus from the dead, and can energize our RESURRECTION body (Romans 8:11) for heaven.
ENCOURAGEMENT The Greek verb parakaleo originally meant to call to one's side, call to one's aid. An advocate (Latin, advocatus, meaning called to one side) was a lawyer who defends us in a law suit. In time the verb developed meanings such as appeal to, entreat, comfort, encourage. In the New Testament the noun paraklysis was used of preaching in the congregation (Romans 12:7, 15:4-5, 1 Timothy 4:13), but more often it meant encouragement (as in Acts 15:32, 1 Corinthians 14:3, Philippians 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:12, Hebrews 6:18, 12:5-7).Barnabas was much appreciated as "the encourager" (Acts 4:36). So how do we give encouragement in our day? The first need is to notice a person. A smile is always an encouragement. People are glad of a word of appreciation "I am glad you have come, I like your new hairstyle, you did a great job." The greatest encouragement we can give is listening carefully to what the person wants to share with us. And if they are willing to let us pray, nothing is more encouraging than mentioning to God every concern that he or she has expressed. Asking a favor that the person is happy to give (I wonder if you could drive me home? I have run out of sugar, can you spare a cupful?) can often give more encouragement than giving a gift. And then one can work unseen by prayer, preferably without saying so.
ENGLISH The French sailor said to the English sailor "I can't understand how the English navy always seems to win its battles." The Englishman explained, "Before we go into battle we pray." The Frenchman shrugged his shoulders and lifted his hands, "But we also pray!" With great confidence the answer came back. "Ah, yes, but we pray in English." That is not the explanation for the fact that English is now being used in business and politics all over the world. Computers and the Internet may be one factor. But many reasons combined to make Sumerian the language of civilized people in Mesopotamia and far beyond. Greek became as important all over the Mediterranean as English is now. Latin was the common language of Europe for fifteen hundred years. Arabic nourished a great civilization from Baghdad to Spain. There is no common explanation for the dominance of a language. But that is no great problem from heaven's point of view. In his vision John saw "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages" (Revelation 7:9). Little children can learn half a dozen languages simultaneously before the age of five. And since tribes and nations are defined not by genetics, but by the language they use, one of the joys of heaven will be the ability to explore the insights and richness of every other kind of culture.
ENOCH In the book of Genesis the word LORD indicates that the Son of God is in personal contact with humans (as opposed to God the Father who is not seen, John 1:18). So when we read that "Enoch walked with God; then he was
no more, because God took him" (Genesis 5:22,24) we should assume that Enoch was in a Trinitarian relationship with God the Father, God the Son on earth, and the Holy Spirit guiding him from within (see the Persons in Genesis 1:26). When he was taken from this life he did not descend into SHEOL as did others who died before the RESURRECTION. It was only with the resurrection victory of Jesus that sheol as the abode of the dead was terminated. But in the exceptional case of Enoch it seems the Holy Spirit immediately gave him a resurrection body (as perhaps in the case of Moses, Deuteronomy 34:5, and Elijah., 2 Kings 2:11, Jesus himself , and the penitent thief, Luke 23:43).
ENVIRONMENT Recent reports from revivals in the Arctic among the Inuit, in Kampala, Uganda, and Guatemala suggest that not only social conditions have improved but the whole environment has been brought back to life. The ecological situation has changed so that the earth is freed to yield its fruits. This is what we would expect from Paul's statement that the whole creation "waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God. The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (Romans 8:19, 21). As opposed to "cursed is the ground because of you . . . thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you" (Genesis 3:17-19), we read that "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing" (Isaiah 35:1). This suggests that instead of merely human efforts to save our environment, genuine change awaits the creative life of the Holy Spirit. He can change the social, economic, political, and environmental situation from the inside. But that is a message the environmental prophets and government agencies might find very hard to swallow.
EPHESUS The account of the planting of the church in Ephesus is given to us by Luke (Acts 18:1-19:20). Tourists can see the ruins of the city and the avenue with colonnades down to the busy port. The city was dedicated to Artemis (Diana), and the temple had a famous statue of the goddess (Acts 19:34-35) carved from a METEORITE. As the church grew the silversmiths and coppersmiths (2 Timothy 4:14), who made idols and souvenirs for the pilgrims, began to lose their business. So they organized a riot (Acts 19:28). but they failed to lynch Paul (Acts 19:29-31). Luke does not record what followed including Paul's imprisonment and near death by being thrown to face a lion (2 Timothy 4:14-17). He was helped by the coming of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:15-17), who arrived in the nick of time (reading en ropy not en romy which must be a copyist's error which has made commentators think this imprisonment was in Rome.) It is easy to see that all the movements of Paul's team at this time (Colossians 4:10-17, Philemon 23) are centered on Ephesus not on the time when Paul was under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16, 30-31). When Paul later came by Ephesus he avoided the city and called the church elders to Miletus (Acts 20:16-38). Later he wrote a letter to the church (see Commentary on Ephesians)
EPIKLESIS Many ancient and modern communion service liturgies include an Epiklesis (prayer for the Holy Spirit) : "Send your Holy Spirit upon us and on these gifts that all who eat and drink at this table may be one body and one holy people" (Canadian Anglican BAS Eucharistic Prayer 1). This is not a formality. What counts is that the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit might appear miraculously among us. The epiklesis prayer in our communion service is that each of us, including our pastor, minister or priest, might be open to allowing the Holy Spirit to creates us into a community of the Spirit (as opposed to quenching the Spirit, 1 Thess. 5:10). When a few agree to pray that prayer, unexpected and beautiful changes begin to occur in a congregation..
EPISCOPAL CHURCH A place of worship under the CHURCH OF ENGLAND was built in Jamestown, Virginia (1607). After the American War of Independence (1775-83) the Protestant Episcopal Church of America continued the ANGLICAN form of worship under Samuel Seabury (1729-96). Because he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the English King George III (1775-1820) Seabury could not be made a bishop in England, so he was consecrated in Aberdeen by the Scottish Episcopal church (14 November 1784). The first General Convention (1789) established a constitution and canons (rules) for the new denomination, and adopted an American Prayer Book. They founded General Theological Seminary in New York (1817). And Episcopal Church missions soon set up dioceses in Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippines, Porto Rico, Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, China, Japan, and other countries. Their bishops were part of the first Lambeth Conference (1867), and the denomination played a major part in developing the concept of Anglican churches (denominations), which were independent of but in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury in each country.
EPICOPALIAN see EPISCOPAL CHURCH
EQUALITY You might be able to measure equal pay for equal work, but you cannot make a quarterback equal to any other member of the team. Equality is a concept that belongs to mathematics. Which is why equality is never mentioned in the New Testament. There are many more different functions in a Christian community than in a football team, but in both cases trying to make the members equal would be disastrous. "Everybody must get a chance to do the kicking! Everybody must get a chance to sing a solo!" What Paul talks about is mutual submission, and he illustrates this in the case of husbands and wives, children and parents, slaves and slave owners (Ephesians 5:21-6:9). Together with a loving mutual submission, what is needed is "a fair balance" (2 Corinthians 8:13) and the need to "treat your slaves justly and fairly" (Colossians 4:1). When he applies this to marriage, Paul pictures an astonishing mutuality between husbands and wives. Their functions are different, but each submits to the other in all sorts of ways (1 Corinthians 7:1-16). That battle for equal pay and equal opportunities in the work place is necessary. But to talk about men and women being equal is nonsense.
ESCAPISM Christian faith is often caricatured as an escape from the realities of life. A hymn by Charles Wesley begins "Jesu, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly, while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high" (1740). This could suggest that we keep on escaping to the bosom of Jesus "till the storm of life is past." But when Toplady wrote "Rock of Ages"(1775) he was describing a sudden downpour. He saw a cleft in a rock which sheltered him perhaps for twenty minutes till he could go on his journey. That is not escapism, but common sense. But we would view him as deranged if he huddled in that cleft in the rock the rest of his life. The point is we are all hit by the STORMS of life, and the wise thing is to turn to the one who is in control even in the worst of events, and he can guide us to take the right action and go on our way rejoicing. Charles Wesley (1707-88) lived in a day when life was short and very precarious. He knew that after the storms of life he would make it into harbor. Meanwhile he was no escapist. He wrote 5,500 hymns as he actively supported the early Methodist movement.
ESAU (born c.1852) When Rachel the wife of ISAAC had twins, Esau came out first, but JACOB obtained the family genealogical (see GENEALOGY) birthright as the head of the twelve tribes of Jewish people. Esau moved south toward north-west Arabia (see Genesis 32:3-33:16) and fathered the tribe of EDOM (Genesis 36) which eventually merged with their blood relatives descended from Esau's uncle ISHMAEL (Esau married Ishmael's daughter see Genesis 28:6-9). As a result only the descendants of Isaac became the Jewish people, and Esau and all the other relatives of ABRAHAM became ARABS.
ESCHATOLOGICAL The Greek word eschaton means the end, and theologians use the term eschatalogical to discuss what was the outcome the Old Testament prophets and New Testament writers had in mind. Some of these end times related to the fall of Samaria and the northern kingdom (721 BC). Others speak of the fall of Jerusalem (597 BC) and the seventy year exile that followed. In the model used on this website Jesus prophesied the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem in that generation's lifetime (Matthew 24, Mark 13). This was fulfilled when the Roman armies took the city in AD 70. References to the parousia (COMING of the Lord) in the Epistles also point to that expectation. There will be a final eschaton (end of the world) when the Messiah's purposes are completed (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
ESSENES A contemporary of Jesus was a Jewish philosopher named PHILO who lived in Alexandria (c.10 BC to 45 AD). He wrote that the Essenes numbered about 4000 men. Married Essenes lived in towns, and celibate males lived in a monastery by the Dead Sea. They did not marry but adopted the children of others. It is possible that John the Baptist was raised in the Qumran community (Luke 1:80), and studied the DEAD SEA SCROLLS among them. As in the monasteries established by Buddha (563-483 BC), the Essene monks did not practice animal sacrifice, and they were noted for their asceticism and gentleness (see BUDDHISM). This suggests that, in addition to the SADDUCEE and PHARISEE parties at the time of Jesus, the Essenes represented a third kind of alternative which may have had similarities to Jesus teaching (e.g. Matthew 12:46-50). For a time the apostles practiced a kind of communism (Acts 2:44), but soon the Christian churches were able to free themselves from an Essene type of asceticism (see 1 Timothy 4:2-5). With the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem (70 AD) the Jewish Essenes disappeared from history, but similar emphases appeared in the early Christian MONASTICISM of Egypt.
ETERNAL LIFE We are familiar with the rich profusion of vegetable life in the trees and plants and flowers around us. Animals include millions of insects, fish, reptiles, birds, and each with their own form of life. We know our complex physical and emotional experience as human life. In John's first Epistle we are introduced to "the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us." This was the life that "was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with out eyes, what we have looked and touched with our hands" (1 John 1:1-2). And the astonishing fact is that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, came to assure us that we are so loved that we are welcome into that divine life (John 3:16). That means we are invited into the same eternal life (see TRINITY) which Jesus, the Son of God had enjoyed with the Father and the Holy Spirit long before the creation of our world. Not only does he invite us, but he did everything that is needed through his death and resurrection for us to be forgiven and perfected in love by the Holy Spirit for the eternal life of heaven.
ETHIOPIA see KHARTOUM
ETRUSCANS Known as the Tursha, Tursenians or Tyrrhenians, the Etruscans migrated from Mesopotamia into Asia Minor. They could be a Shemitic tribe descended from Lud who settled in the area of LYDIA (Genesis 10:22). They dated their origin as 967 BC, and their goddess was Tyro. Their cousins were the Sicels of Sicily, and the Sherdina settled in Sardinia. The Etruscans established themselves in Etruria on the banks of the Tiber in Italy, and founded the city of Rome (753 BC). Pythagoras (c.580-c.500 BC) is said to have been an Etruscan from Samos in the Northern Aegean.
EUCHARIST see COMMUNION, THANKSGIVING, SACRIFICE Thanksgving.
EUNUCH Jesus lists three groups of persons who cannot enjoy sexual intercourse. "There are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:10-12). In some cases there is a genetic incapacity. In the ancient world men were castrated so they could serve in the royal harem. In our day people are denied normal sexual intercourse by not having a partner (for example women who are rejected because no man wants to marry them, or are widowed, divorced, and when men go to war, on business, or out to sea for long periods). But both Jesus and Paul see the need for some to "make themselves eunuchs" at least for a time in serving the Kingdom" (see 1 Corinthians 7:26). There is nothing prudish about sex in Paul's "The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband" (1 Corinthians 7:3). One cannot imagine Paul being able to travel constantly all over the Mediterranean to plant and encourage churches if he had been currently married and raising children (see 1 Corinthians 9:5).
EUPHRATES The word parat means an overflowing river. It was translated in Greek as euphrates, referring to the great river of Mesopotamia (Genesis 2:14). But the term parat also refers to the River Jordan. "The Jordan overflows its banks throughout the time of harvest" (Joshua 3:15). When Abraham arrived in the land of the land of the CANAANITES, God promised him the land "from the river of Egypt (the Wadi Arish on the border of Egypt) to the Jordan (not the Euphrates as assumed by our Bible translators). The land was always defined as from Dan in the north to Bersheeba in the south (Judges 20:1, 1 Samuel 3:20, 2 Samuel 3:10, 17:11, 24:2,15, 1 Kings 4:25). With the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the Jordan River on the east this formed a rectangle (125 miles by 50 miles, 400 x 80 km). It is defined as "from the wilderness in the south to Mount Lebanon, and from the river Jordan (not the Euphrates) to the Western Sea (Deuteronomy 11:24). There is no way this could be stretched up another 300 miles through Syria to the Euphrates. Similarly Joshua was promised "From the wilderness (of Sinai) as far as the great river, the river Jordan (not the Euphrates), to the Great Sea" (Joshua 1:4). And David restored his border to the River Jordan (2 Samuel 8:3, not the Euphrates since David never went north beyond Syria. The battle between Pharaoh Necho and the Assyrians took place near Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29, see 24:7). Similarly we must read the river Jordan, not the Euphrates in other battles (1 Chronicles 5:9, 18:3, 2 Chronicles 35:20-22 - the town named Carchemish is on the plain of Megiddo, not the Carchemish 300 miles north). And obviously Jeremiah hid the linen girdle in the Jordan valley (Jeremiah 13:4-7, 51:63).
EUREKA Archimedes (287-212 BC) is said to have leaped out of his bath exclaiming "eureka" (from the Greek verb eurisko meaning to search and find). He had suddenly seen how buoyancy could be used to measure the purity of gold. Referring to the mystery of the Kingdom Jesus said "Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock and it will be opened for you" (Matthew 7:7). Conversion is discovering the meaning of life which had eluded us till we suddenly find and say "eureka." There are big differences from scientific discovery (e.g. James D. Watson, The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, 1968). Christian finding is not restricted to brilliant researchers. It is open to the simplest and least educated in the world. Nor is it difficult and only attained after years of work. And when we find the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46) we discover that we have been found by the one who loves us enough to look for us. "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost" and "Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost" (Luke 15:6,9).
EUSEBIUS The ten books of the Ecclesiastical History written by Eusebius (c.260-c.340) were written in stages over twenty years (303 to 323). They contain a mass of invaluable information about the traditions (in some cases unreliable) of the early church in the East. Because of this work he is called the "Father of Church History." He was Bishop of CAESAREA (315-c.340).
EVANGELISM The Greek word evangelium means good news. People would say "I have evangelium for you. Your wife has safely delivered a son." Or "There is good news of the defeat of the Persian navy." Among Christians the word was then used for each of the four Gospels, and also for the good news that Jesus preached (Matt 4:23, 26:13, Mark 1:15, etc.). Evangelism is therefore making the good news known by every means among all nations (Mark 13:10). And Jesus made clear that the normal method of evangelism is by enrolling disciples (see BAPTISM) and then imparting all that Jesus had taught (Matthew 28:19). But the only effective teaching is what the Holy Spirit imparts as he reveals the Lord to a community of disciples who love one another (John 13:35, 14:26, 15:12, 16:12). This is why after their baptism the Samaritan converts had to be formed into a school of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:12, 14-17). Similarly Paul relied on the Holy Spirit to reveal the Son of God to each new Christian church congregation (Romans 5:5, 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, 13, 12:13, Galatians 3:1-5, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, Titus 3:5-6).
EVANGELIST The task of an evangelist (Ephesians 4:11, 2 Timothy 4:5) is to give Jesus' invitation to learn from him. The term taking a yoke was used of enrolling with a rabbi to begin learning. "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me" (Matthew 11:28-29). It took Peter two or three years of being with Jesus before he was ready to make a commitment. But Jesus made clear that was not a commitment based on human reason. "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven" (Matthew 16:15-17)" The revelation is the work of "the Advocate (advocatus, one called alongside), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you everything" (John 15:25). The work of an evangelist therefore results in people enrolling to be taught by the Spirit. PHILIP, the Evangelist persuaded Samaritans to be baptized to begin learning, and the apostles formed them into a church of the Spirit in Samaria (Acts 8:5, 12, 14-17). In our day people appreciate movements like Cursillo and Alpha, where the invitation is to come, explore, begin learning. It is in such warm fellowships, camp experiences, and congregations where the Holy Spirit is free to do his work, that most people come to life-changing faith.
EVOLUTION It is still fashionable to suggest that evolution and creation are opposites. Actually all creative activity is by evolution. There was a full-page advertisement picturing the evolution of the Mercedes from the first automobiles. Along the way there were chance events, influences from other designs, and the survival of the fittest among the various makes. But to suggest that cars, or cakes, or quilts, evolve without creative activity would be ridiculous. The first chapter of the Bible pictures God the Artist evolving our world in successive periods of creative activity. Which is why we believe in Creative Love Theism, as opposed to Evolution by Chance Atheism. Each of us has already evolved from the joining of a male sperm and a female ovum. There are many chance events and influences along the way, and he allows us a huge amount of freedom to make many of the decisions. We could reject his gracious influence in our life, and choose eternal death. But if we accept being his children, there is no way he will fail to evolve us for the perfect love of heaven.
EXILE The prophets describe in great detail why the Messiah allowed the city of Jerusalem to be marched off into exile in 597 BC for seventy years (2 Kings 24:1-3, Jeremiah 25:8-12). When the Messiah toppled the city of Babylon in 538 BC (see Isaiah 13:1-13) the Lord brought back a remnant of people from exile to rebuild the temple (Jeremiah 29:10) which was dedicated about 517 BC at the end of the 70 years. The second exile of the Jewish people from Jerusalem lasted very much longer (from 70 AD to 1948 AD). The Messiah had told his disciples that the temple would be destroyed in that generation (Matthew 24:1-2 and he would topple the city in exactly the same way as he had toppled Babylon (Matthew 24:27-30, Isaiah 13:1-3). The Pharisees were also warned of the termination of the Jewish religious establishment in Jerusalem (Matthew 23 :36). Jesus explained that the function previously performed by the Jerusalem temple would be leased "to other tenants" (Matthew 21:41, 43). Paul deals with this transfer of function in three chapters of his Epistle (Romans 9-11). But he looked forward to an eventual restoration: "A hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:24-27, see Luke 21:24).
EXCOMMUNICATION The only justification offered for excommunication in the New Testament is the case of the brother who was blatantly having an affair with his step mother. But there is no evidence he was excluded from the Christian family meal. What Paul said was "hand this man over to Satan for the destruction (olethron ruin, or perhaps damage) of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved" (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Incest was a criminal act, and the man was to be handed over to the civil magistrates to suffer judicial consequences. This apparently happened, and in his next letter Paul says the brother must be forgiven and consoled (2 Corinthians 2:4-7). In a loving home a child may need to be disciplined, but never excluded from the family table. It is hard to think of cases where excommunication has ever been helpful. And its misuse has been notorious in every denomination that has used this method of discipline. It is precisely in the family gathering that the Holy Spirit is able to reveal the Lord and his ways. If false teachers are to be restrained, it must be done by individual not ecclesiastical authority. "Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching" (2 John10).
EXISTENTIALISM One could view Ecclesiastes as an example of Existentialism in the Bible nearly 3000 years ago.Philosophers tend to view Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55) as the first proponent of the idea that, in the light of our anguish and heart dread, commitment without the certainty of being right is more important thanits logical content. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) pictured the existential freedom of modern man. Karl Jaspers wrote The Psychology of World Views (1919) and Man in the Modern Age (1931, English 1933). But it was the French Existentialists who influenced a whole generation of young people. Albert Camus (1913-60)wrote L'Etranger (1942) and La Peste (1947). Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) exemplified that way of living and explained it in L'Etre et le Neant (1943). Some of the main ideas are that life is absurd and meaningless. Death and the end of all our hopes is the only certainty. We must face the fact of our own futility. Having done that we are free to decide. We refuse to conform, but what we decide to do is not important. Authentic living is our willingness to act boldly. Christian Existentialism also begins with our futility, and the certainty of death. But we commit ourselves freely and without proof to Jesus the Messiah.
EYE You can tell a lot about people by their eyes. There are angry, anxious, sad, proud, lustful, sparkling eyes. We can be single-eyed or looking aimlessly in every direction. A bird-watcher has an eye for birds that no one else can see. A bird's eye view sees much further. And we admire a person of vision. Jesus used the eye to describe the difference conversion makes: "The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness" (Matthew 6:22-23). And Jesus immediately went on to contrast two radically different ways of looking at life. "You cannot serve God and wealth (mammon the god of money" (Matthew 5:24). Faith is having a eye for God. We see God at work in creation, in our own life, and in the life of others. When we face a problem we look to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and inspiration. We have a servant eye that looks to the Messiah and the work of his Kingdom. Intercessory prayer is having an eye for the needs of others, and looking to God to touch and bless them.
EYE FOR AN EYE "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evil doer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also" (Matthew 5:38-39). In its original context (Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:19-20, Deuteronomy 19:21) this was a rule for judges in determining equivalent compensation (Deuteronomy 19:16-21). But there is not one case in Jewish history of a judge ordering an eye to be gouged out or a tooth extracted by way of compensation. If you assaulted me and knocked my eye out, the judge would have to decide what you should pay. $100 would be too little; a million dollars might be too much. Jesus was not trying to dismantle our justice system. This is still the way judges have to rule in a claim for damages (see RESTITUTION). The problem was that this principle of legal compensation was made into a justification for taking REVENGE in trivial matters. The example Jesus gave was a case of personal insult (the right cheek is slapped with the back of the hand). Rather than start a feud, he suggests "Here is my other cheek" which immediately defuses the quarrel. Millions of family quarrels could be ended by this kind of approach. Even with outsiders it is never right to take personal revenge (see VENDETTA).
EYE, Plucking out Jesus said "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away" (Matthew 5:29-30). Here he used a very powerful METAPHOR taken from shooting with a bow and arrow. To aim the left eye is closed and the right eye looks along the arrow as the bowstring is pulled back by the right hand. The context is the previous verse about adultery. "Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). The point of the metaphor is that when the idea of committing adultery comes to mind, the right eye must be taken away from its target and the right hand removed from the bowstring. But once the decision to shoot has been made heart adultery has already occured even if the arrow misses its target. The word HELL is an unhelpful translation of the Greek word geenna (Gehenna) whichis a transliteration of the Hebrew ge hinnom or Valley of Hinnom into which the garbage and night soil of Jerusalem was pitched over the south wall. Being thrown into gehenna was a metaphor for being trashed or making shipwreck of one's life, in this case due to an adulterous decision.
EXODUS Professor Barry Levy of McGill University told the story of meeting secretly during the cold war with a group of Jews in Moscow. They asked him whether the Exodus from Egypt was a historical fact. He told them that the proof was that they were still meeting after three thousand years to keep Passover (similarly at American Thanskgiving every one taking part came over on the Mayflower!). Astonishingly within a few weeks thousands of those Russian Jews found themselves in the miracle of the Exodus to their promised land. They had nothing to do but get in the buses that took them to the airport. Writing to Christians Paul made the awesome connection. "Our Passover lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5:7). And the result is that "Our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses . . . and all drank the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was the Messiah" (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). That means the Exodus belongs to all peoples. We too are part of it.