GABRIEL Only two of the many messengers
of God (Hebrew malak, Greek angelos meaning messenger) are
named. The archangel or chief angel is Michael (Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1,
Jude 9) who is particularly involved in warring against opposing forces.
Gabriel (Hebrew "God is my strength, my man") seems to be charged with
interpreting visions and giving "wisdom and understanding" (Daniel 8:16,
9:21-22). . After explaining what was about to happen, he introduced
himself to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. "I am Gabriel. I
stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and
to bring you this good news" (Luke 1:19). He also had the task of
explaining to Mary that by the power of the Holy Spirit she would conceive
the Messiah while she was still a virgin, and he would be called the Son
of God (Luke 1:26-38). These days we hear of many Muslims being
persuaded by a dream or angelic visitation that Jesus is indeed the Son
of God. We might guess that Gabriel continues to be involved in this kind
of interpretation for those who do not have the opportunity to read the
Bible or hear Christian preaching.
GALATIA Other letters of Paul are
addressed to the one church in each city. Galatians is addressed jointly
to "the churches of Galatia" (1:2). They probably included Antioch
in Pisidia (Acts 13:14) and Iconium (14:1) with the nearby
towns of Lystra and Derbe (14:6-8, 20-21). These were all in the
Province of Galatia on the main Roman road from Ephesus across what is
now central Turkey to Tarsus and Antioch in Syria. The letter to the Galatians
was probably written (c. 48 AD) after the first missionary journey, and
before the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). Soon after Paul had moved
on from working among them the Galatian churches fell under influence of
legalists (probably connected with the
of Jerusalem). They tried to live by their own will power and human effort
(Galatians 3:1-5, 5:1) instead of the freedom and power of the Spirit
(see Romans 8:4-9). Paul said that false teachers would also arise
in the church of Ephesus after his departure (Acts 20:29-30), as
also happened in the church of Colossae (Colossians 2:16-23).
GALATIAN Churches When Paul and
Barnabas were driven out from
in Pisidia (Acts 13:50) they moved 80 miles (130 km) on
the main road east to Iconium. But they had left a church in Antioch, and
on the way back from planting three other churches in Galatia "they appointed
elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting entrusted them
to the Lord in whom they had come to believe" (14:1, 21-23, compare
the appointment of elders in Titus 1:5). Paul apparently revisited
these churches as he crossed Turkey on his second journey (Acts 15:36,
41) and again during the third journey (Acts 19:1).
GAMBLING There is a range of activities
from BINGO, buying LOTTERY
tickets, going to a horse race, attending a CASINO
on a holiday visit, to compulsive gambling which ends with the ruin of
all that a family owns. On the one hand we must avoid condemning activities,
which may not be disastrous. But we must also identify the line where gambling
becomes the service of the god of luck (see IDOLATRY).
At that point gambling has become incompatible with faith in God.
GANDHI, Mahatma (1869-1948). Born
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, he became a civil rights lawyer in South Africa.
He returned to India (1915) and engaged in a thirty year struggle to free
his country from British rule. He developed NON-VIOLENCE
as a method which he called satyagraha
(holding of the truth). Beginning
with the Salt March (1930), he persuaded more and more Indian people to
join him in civil disobedience against overwhelming British military power.
Faced with thousands of gentle unarmed men and women, army officers felt
unable to mow them down. As a result of the "Quit India" non-violent campaign
of 1942, India and Pakistan both became independent countries in 1947.
Gandhi was assassinated the next year for being soft in his dealings with
Pakistan, and for his championing of the rights of the untouchables against
the caste system. He is usually called Mahatma
(Great Soul) for
his work as the architect of India's independence.
GARDEN They say it is impossible
to love gardening and be an atheist at the same time. The Bible locates
the origin of humans in a garden (Genesis 2:15). Jesus' life and
death struggle was in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-36, John
18:1), and he promised a criminal being crucified with him "Today you
will be with me in the garden" (Paradise is a Persian word meaning an enclosed
garden, Luke 23:43). Heaven is pictured as a city built around a
watered garden with twelve kinds of fruit "for the healing of the
nations" (Revelation 22:2). In preparation for that we can picture
the church in each city as the Lord's garden with clumps of each kind of
flower (people of different denominations worshiping in different ways
in all sorts of locations). The flowers of our world are sufficient proof
that God is not interested in regimented uniformity.
GARDENER A gardener looks at things
differently from the flowers in the garden. A clump of Irises or Phlox
is interested in its own glory. They each want to increase their territory.
The gardener cares about the glory of the garden as a whole. The flowers
could easily argue about faith in the gardener. Who needs a creator? There
is an evolution of species and the survival of the fittest. But who are
the fittest? Are Irises fitter than Roses? Without a gardener the survival
of the fittest can only produce a wilderness. In a wilderness there are
no weeds. But Roses and beds of red Tulips cannot survive without a gardener.
You need a creator to produce Kew Gardens. This is why faith in God as
the heavenly Gardener makes a big difference in the way I perceive the
world and my life in it. As an Iris I don't have to complain that Roses
have thorns (see DENOMINATIONS).
Nor do I need to feel inferior because no one bends down to enjoy my perfume.
The art is to learn the Gardener's language. Clumps of color should live
harmoniously each in their own place. And if some plant begins interfering
with others they are called weeds. Mary sang "He has brought down the powerful
from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with
good things, and sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:52-53). Which
means that she viewed this world as a tended garden, not a wilderness or
GATES Jesus said "On this rock
I will build my church, and the gates of Hades (Hebrew sheol or
death) will not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). And Bishop
J.E.Fison explained that "Against a static church, unwilling to obey the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, no 'gates' of any sort are needed to oppose
its movement, for it does not move. But against a church that is on the
move, inspired by the Pentecostal spirit, neither 'the gates of hell' nor
any other gates can prevail" (Fire upon Earth, 1958, p.79). So it
is good to look around the world in prayer and see where churches are on
the move. If the congregation we belong to is not moving, we ask the Holy
Spirit to inspire one and another to help us forward. If we are on the
move, we can expect all hell to break loose. But we know in advance, as
in any battle, that there will be casualties, but Satan cannot prevail.
GAY The term HOMOSEXUALITY
was coined a hundred years ago by a Hungarian psychologist, but there is
no such word in the Bible. In our day men who prefer sexual intimacy with
men usually call themselves Gay. Old Testament Jewish judges were given
a list of seven sexual sins for which the death penalty could be assigned
(Leviticus 20:10-16). In each case a conviction required two male
witnesses who had observed the act of sexual penetration. Between men what
was forbidden was the penetration of the male anus (buggery) of slaves
and young men, and to humiliate captured enemies. In Romans 1:26-27
Paul seems to have the above Leviticus text in mind, and his argument is
that behaviour that deserved capital punishment in the OT had become accepted
and very common among Greeks and Romans. Among men the penetration of the
anus of slaves, and young students by their teachers, caused tearing and
other terrible consequences. The two or three other references to so-called
homosexual behaviour in the NT obviously refer to same-sex prostitution,
where men were paid to act out the active or passive role as part of what
went on in the temples. None of these texts can be used to condemn the
choice of two men to share a home and life together.
GAYA Just over twenty years ago
our world was offered a new model for its existence as a self-regulating
living being. "The entire range of living matter on Earth, from whales
to viruses, and from oaks to algae, could be regarded as a living entity
capable of manipulating the Earth's atmosphere to suit its overall needs
and endowed with faculties and powers far beyond its constituent parts
(James Lovelock, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, Oxford University
Press, 1979, p.8). This theory is one way of explaining the otherwise improbable
survival of life on earth for millions of years. If we use this explanatory
model, we could say that God the Creator built into his design of the "Big
Bang" the emergence and preservation of our world as a place for humans
to learn to love him and one another (THEISM).
Or an ATHEIST can view the Big
Bang as an event which resulted in the eventual formation by chance mutations
of this earth as a living being. Many have adopted this second alternative
to view Mother Earth as the supreme reality of life. A modern variant (PANENTHEISM)
is set out in Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing
of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, San Francisco:
Harper & Row, 1988). Logically such a model has no room for the
of the body.
GAZA This ancient city (50 miles
south-west of Jerusalem on the Mediterranean coast) marked the southern
border of the CANAANITES(Genesis
10:19). The children of Israel under Joshua were unable to retain it
against the invading PHILISTINES
(Joshua 10:41, 11:22). Samson visited a prostitute there, and that
was where he was imprisoned and had his eyes gouged out. When he was renewed
in the Spirit he summoned the strength to pull down the temple of Dagon,
killing himself and the hundreds of Philistines who had gathered to mock
him (Judges 16:1, 21-22, 28-31). Gaza marked the southern limit
of Solomon's kingdom (1 Kings 4:24). Later the city was rebuked
for engaging in the slave trade (Amos 1:6). PHILIP,
the Evangelist was sent down the road to Gaza, and he baptized
the Treasurer of Ethiopia (Acts 8:26-39). He did not enter the city,
but he planted churches up to the coast to CAESAREA.
The church eventually founded in Gaza about 380 AD did not survive the
Muslim occupation under the advancing Arab army three hundred years later.
In our day Gaza is the center of Arab opposition to the State of Israel.
GEHENNA To the south of the old
walls of Jerusalem was the Valley of Hinnom (Hebrew ge hinnom) which
was transliterated Gehenna
(wrongly translated "hell" in the KJV,
RSV, and NRSV). It was the rubbish dump for the city of Jerusalem. It was
continually burning from the cinders thrown on to it, and when it rained
it was crawling with maggots (Mark 9:47-48). Lepers camped around
it to pick up scraps to eat. Being thrown on to that rotting, stinking,
burning garbage was the worst fate people could imagine. That is why Gehenna
was used metaphorically of being trashed, making shipwreck of one's life.
Jesus warned that murderous anger, heart adultery, or child abuse, would
end in Gehenna disaster (Matthew 5:22, 28-30, 18:6-9, Mark 9:43-46).
When Jesus spoke of the Pharisees being "sentenced" to Gehenna it
did not mean they would burn in hell for ever (there is no reference to
eternal damnation anywhere in the Old Testament). But he did mean that
the Pharisee system would be trashed in the fall of Jerusalem in that generation
(Matthew 23:33, 36).
Gehenna therefore refers to bad consequences
in this life. It never means hell in an eternal sense. Eternal lostness
is pictured as choosing eternal darkness as opposed to the light of the
Son of God (John 3:19-21).
GENEALOGY Among Jews the family
genealogy was supremely important. This is suggested by the prominence
given in the Bible to genealogical lists. We are for example given the
original genealogy of the Arabs descended from Hagar and Keturah (Genesis
25). Arabs belong to a different line from the children of Israel,
but they also have a continuing place in God's purpose. (Genesis 17:20,
21:18. Arabs descended from Esau are listed in 36:9-43). Jewish
Old Testament priests had to prove their direct descent from the line of
Aaron. (Exodus 6:16-25, 40:12-15). Early genealogies show how important
this was for the royal line of David. (Genesis 46:8-12, Numbers 26:19-22,
Ruth 4:18-22). The first eight chapters of 1 Chronicles show how the
process of genealogical listing continued to be important. This is why
Matthew's Gospel begins with Joseph's lineage. And when Joseph accepted
Jesus as his son (Matthew 1:20), and listed him as such in the Bethlehem
census list (Luke 2:1-7), the eternal Son of God was given the legal
right to be undisputed heir of the royal line of David. If his enemies
could have denied this, they would have had an easy proof that he was not
GENEROSITY In his Proverbs Solomon
noted that "Those who are kind reward themselves, but the cruel do themselves
harm" (Proverbs 11:17). A generous person is kind because he or
she feels for others. "Those who despise their neighbors are sinners, but
happy are those who are kind to the poor" (14:21, 31, see POOR).
"Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold and only suffer
want. A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will
get water" (Proverbs 11:24-25). The reason for this strange paradox
is that "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord" (19:17, 22:9).
But how do we change our heart from being mean to being generous. It certainly
cannot be achieved by making rules. Generosity is one of the of the
OF THE SPIRIT (Galatians 5:22).
GENOCIDE Before moving towards
the promised land Moses was told "Take care not to make covenant with the
inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it will become a snare
among you" (Exodus 34:12). But just before Moses died he went much
further and ordered a total genocide of the people in the land of Canaan.
"You must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate
them - the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites,
the Hivites and the Jebusites." And the reason given was "so that they
may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their
gods" (Deuteronomy 20:16-18, Joshua 8:26, 10:38-40). In actual fact
it seems it was only the nations that opposed Joshua who were totally exterminated.
The rest were dispossessed (see Joshua 11:16-20, 23:11-13, Judges 1:27).
This was standard practice among the nations of the ancient world (as in
15-23). In more recent history the Spanish wiped out many Indian tribes
in South America, as did the settlers in Australia, the United States,
and Canada. There is an inevitable process of stronger nations expanding
their territory, and others being marginalized. It could be that as he
grew older, and saw how easily his people fell into abominable idolatry,
Moses made political decisions for his people in the name of the LORD.
Politicians to this day imagine they have the mind of God.
GIFTS of the Spirit see HOLY
SPIRIT, Gifts; BODY,
GITA The Bhagavad Gita (the
song of the Celestial Lord) was written (perhaps about 100 BC) and inserted
in the great Hindu epic called the Mahabharata (c.400-100 BC). It
is in the form of a meditation by a young man of the warrior caste named
Arjun as he senses the revulsion of going into battle to kill his countrymen.
The essential theme of the Gita is the need to do one's duty as
a warrior with detachment. This was easily interpreted as the need to perform
one's DHARMA (duty or religion)
in the caste system without emotional involvement. That offered the Brahmin
priests an answer against the amorality and denial of the need for DHARMA
which was suggested in the UPANISHADS.
In modern India the Gita is interpreted as a call to selfless action.
GIVING see ALMSGIVING
GNOSTICISM The Greek word gnosis
to a special knowledge which is not accesible to ordinary people till they
have been initiated into the Gnostic mysteries. A heresy that Paul opposed
(Colossians 2:8, 16-23 and 1 Timothy 1:4; 4:1-3, 6:4, 20, see Revelation2:6,
15, 24) seems to have been a form of Gnosticism, though the main struggle
of the churches against this emerged in the second century, as in the teachings
of Valentinus (in Rome c.136-165 AD). There are many forms of Gnosticism,
but they all teach that transformation and salvation are by personal knowledge
and illumination rather than by the Holy Spirit. The soul is imprisoned
in the body and needs to be released. There is inevitably a denial of bodily
and the TRINITY. The special knowledge
may require rules of discipline and ascetic practices including abstinence
from marriage. The Christian good news is offered without any form of payment,
as in our day, but all forms of Gnosticism are only taught to those who
are willing to pay for it (1 Timothy 6:5, Titus 1:11). Any demand
for payment for enrolment as disciples, or for special teaching, should
make us suspect that a form of gnosis is being peddled.
GOAL The supreme purpose of life
is the Kingdom. As Jesus said, "Strive first for the Kingdom of God" (Matthew
6:33). Get that right and we have everything else that we need for
fulness of life. As a result of adopting that goal we also understand the
inner meaning of our world. "To you has been given the secret (mystery)
of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables
with the result that (another meaning of ina) they may indeed look,
but not perceive" (Mark 4:11-12). The heart of the Kingdom is the
Lord King Messiah Son of God. Obviously knowing him and serving in his
Kingdom is what faith is all about. And the whole Bible is about his reign
MONARCHY). "He must reign
until he has put all his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:25).
GOD The word God is a name given
to whoever or whatever originated our world. But until we add some adjectives,
nouns, pronouns, and verbs, the word God has no content. To avoid vague
theorizing we first add the pronoun 'my' to say "My God." What Atheism
denies is a personal Creator. "My God is chance, energy/mass, the big bang,
whatever." Theists believe that "My God is the Creator/Artist of our world"
(as in Genesis 1). But that does not tell us what God is like. Some
believe that God is a monster, and they hate him. Others imagine that he
holds up the scales to weigh our good and bad deeds, and if we don't measure
up we will burn in hell. Christian Theism says "My God loves me more than
any human parent." And we go on to say "I experience God as three Persons,
the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, united in perfect love." That was
the Trinitarian experience of Paul the Apostle: "The Spirit bears witness
with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with the Messiah" (Romans 8:16-17).
GOD, Dead See DEATH
GOD, Hearing his voice see PROPHECY
GOD, Judge One picture of God as
Judge is set in a Roman law court. And the explanation is that our sin
(see ORIGINAL SIN) deserves
eternal damnation, but Jesus the Son of God satisfied the justice of the
Father by making a sufficient payment on the cross for us to be forgiven.
The language game for the word judge is however best learned not from a
law court but from the Book of Judges, where a judge is the deliverer and
protector of his oppressed people (Judges 2:16). Later when a king
was appointed , David was loved as one who exercised justice, and cared
for and shepherded his people. In the New Testament Jesus described himself
as a Shepherd Messiah (John 10) and defined his reign in terms of
servant leadership (Mark 10:42-45). The idea of God as Father is
already found in the Old Testament (Isaiah 63:16, 64:8), but in
the Lord's prayer and the parable of the prodigal son Jesus firmly set
God's judging in a family setting. Parents have to act as judges to settle
quarrels and exercise protective discipline. . But loving parents never
condemn and exclude their children from the family. And we should not picture
God as less loving than we are. The Messiah also acts as Judge and exercises
wrath among the nations, but this is not to condemn them to eternal damnation
GOD, Location In every room
of our house about twenty different television programs are going on, and
you can pick them out of nowhere if you have the right antenna and a TV
monitor. Those programs are accessible all around, and in everything, without
having a particular location. If you moved across the city they were still
there. You can also access those programs through cable, but there again
they are pulled in from a satellite in the sky. Similarly God's location
is around us and in some mysterious way within us. Just as television world
cannot be "proved" till it is experienced, so there is no proof for the
existence of God, only what we experience. I talk to God like a parent
above me, God like a friend beside me, and God inspiring me from the depths
of my being. And I can do that anywhere, anytime. When I die I expect the
conversation to go on but without all the confusions, distractions, and
pain of the world around me now for the present.
GOD, Moving & Moved J.N.Darby
(1800-82), was the Anglican minister who founded the Exclusive Brethren.
He quaintly said "God's ways are behind the scenes; but he moves all the
scenes which He is behind." This is illustrated in the Gospels where Jesus
predicted the destruction of the temple in that generation. Before this
happened (AD 70) there was a lot of scene moving in a Jewish rebellion
(AD 68), a Roman counterattack, Nero's suicide (both in AD 68), a terrible
siege, and the destruction of the city (AD 70). The Jews were exiled from
Jerusalem for 1900 years, and the Christian church emerged from the womb
of Judaism to begin the evangelization of the world. But Jesus was moved
to tears by what would happen (Luke 19:41) and felt for the women
who would suffer terribly (Luke 21:23). Clark Pinnock's Most
Baker 2001, argues that God is not only moved by our pain
and suffering but longs to be moved by our prayer conversation with him.
He asks us "What do you think needs doing?" We know we are "joint heirs
with the Messiah" but we are hesitant to enter into his parish council.
The "prayers of the saints" mean that "we reign on earth" (Revelation
5:10) by moving the scenes. But that involves being moved as
he is moved. "If we endure we will also reign with him" (2 Timothy 2:12).
GOD'S NAME Scholars used to divide
up the first five books of the Bible into documents according to whether
they used Yahweh (J) or Elohim (E) as the name for God. It is much simpler
to view Elohim as the plural name for God as TRINITY
(as in Genesis 1:26 "Let us make humankind in our image). The name
translated as LORD in capital letters
is used to avoid using the sacred name (based on the four letters YHWH
meaning HE IS from the interchangeable roots HIH and HWH). It is often
used when the Son of God comes into personal contact with humans (e.g Genesis
2:7, 21, 3:8, 22, 4:9,6:3, 6, 7, 7:1, 11:5, 8). He appeared to ABRAHAM
(Genesis 15:1, 17:1) and to MOSES
(Exodus 3:2-4, 13-15, 24:7, 33:11, 34:27-28 ). As John's Gospel
explains, "No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close
to the Father's heart, who has made him known" (John 1:18).
GOD, Openness Under the influence
of Greek ideas of perfection, classical theologians had viewed God as impassive,
timeless, and immutable. His will could never be thwarted. In a book titled
Openness of God (Clark Pinnock, ed. 1994) a group of writers demonstrated
that in the Bible God has a wide range of feelings, including joy, grief,
anger, regret. This meant that God allows humans to interact with him,
and can even change his mind. A key occasion was when Aaron made people
worship the golden calf, and God said "Now let me alone that my wrath may
burn hot against them and consume them." But Moses "implored the Lord his
God to "Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring
disaster on your people." The result was that "the Lord changed his mind
about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people" (Exodus 32:10-14,
Deuteronomy 9:19-21, see Jonah 3:10). This openness enables
us to see ourselves as cooperating with God in our prayer life and our
work in the world. It also enables us to picture God as vulnerable, loving,
taking risks, and responsive to us. But the Lord King Messiah does not
let things get out of hand, and he intervenes when the situation demands
it(see DAY OF THE LORD).
GOD, Working Jesus made the enigmatic
statement: "My Father is still working, and I also am working" (John
5:17). What does this mean? In the first chapter of Genesis we have
a six day record of all that was needed for this world to work "naturally."
In one sense the work of creation ended: "And on the seventh day God finished
the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the
work that he had done in creation" (Genesis 2:2). We are still in
that seventh day of God's rest from creation, but that does not mean the
world is left to go on like clockwork (a view that is called Deism). The
Father still works like a parent watching over us, and hears and answers
our prayers (see GOD, Openness). The Son's
task is to intervene both in the world and in personal contacts. "The works
that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing,
testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me" (John 5:36). The
Holy Spirit works from deep within our hearts to give us the inspiration
and power we need for our creative work.
GOSPELS Among the Greeks when someone
brought good news it was called evangelium, so those who proclaimed
God's good news were called evangelists (Acts 21:8, Ephesians 4:11).
God arranged to give us his good news in writing through the impressions
of four different people who had encountered his Son. MATTHEW
was a tax collector, who recorded some of Jesus' words verbatim. MARK
was assigned to write down what Peter remembered. LUKE
was a physician who was sent by Paul to collect as much information as
possible from eye witnesses.
the Apostle probably wrote his reflections in exile on the
Island of Patmos.. Some scholars deny that these are historical documents
on the assumption that a virgin birth is impossible, the blind and crippled
don't get healed, and no one can rise from the dead. But all four Gospel
are given to us without embellishment or moralizing. It is hard to see
why they were written if the object was to tell us a pack of lies. They
certainly work very powerfully if we want to hear and live by what Jesus
had in mind for us (Matthew 28:20).
GOSPELS, Dating Scholars assumed
that the detailed account of the destruction of the temple (Mark 13)
could not have been prophesied by Jesus, and so must have been written
after the fall of Jerusalem (AD 70). From the accounts in our Gospels it
is evident that Jesus prophesied that the events would take place in the
generation of his hearers (Matthew 23:36, 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 9:27,
21:32). That means the synoptic Gospels (see SYNOPTIC
PROBLEM) were probably written between 44 AD (the beheading of
James) and Paul's imprisonment in Caesarea (58-62 AD). Bishop Robinson
showed that there is no evidence for the late dating of the Gospels, and
suggested that all the documents of the New Testament were written before
70 AD (John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament, London:
SCM, Westminster, 1976)
GOSPEL WRITERS When James was beheaded
(44 AD), and Peter only escaped by angelic intervention (Acts 12:1-9),
the church in Jerusalem realized it was urgent to have a written eye-witness
record of what Jesus preached. I imagine they appointed Mark to go and
interview Simon Peter. The style of his Gospel reads like brief responses
to questions from an interviewer. Then I picture Matthew reading and using
90 percent of the verses in Mark's Gospel as a framework to splice in the
sayings (logia) in Aramaic that he had taken down verbatim during
Jesus' ministry. He prefaced these with the genealogical records of the
Messianic line in the registry in Bethlehem, and an account of what he
had written down from Mary's story. While he was in prison in Caesarea
(58-62 AD) Paul had Luke with him (based on the "we" passages in
21:15-17, 27:1,4). So he may have asked Luke to take Mark's Gospel,
and the logia that Matthew had written, and then go and interview
Mary, people in Nazareth, and other apostles. Luke claims to have produced
a reliable account of what had happened (Luke 1:1-4). When John
the beloved disciple had read the synoptic gospels he decided that he must
share what he remembered of his own experiences and conversations with
Jesus. To fit his gospel on to one papyrus roll the Apostle John left out
the information which the other Gospels had already recorded (John 20:30-31).
Obviously this imaginative reconstruction is only a guess. But I can only
abandon it if I am offered a more plausible explanation.
GOTHS A group of Nordic Indo-European
people (distinct from the Indo-European CELTS),
moved south into Germany and then into the Balkans during the reign of
Gallienus (Roman Emperor, 260-68). They even tried to besiege Athens. They
were allowed to settle in the Roman Empire, but they were badly treated,
and they rebelled and defeated the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople (Edirne,
378). Under the leadership of Alaric they sacked Rome (410), and then established
a west Goth (Visigoth) kingdom in Spain. Alaric's son, Theodoric I reigned
as King of Spain (418-51). The Visigoths had been followers of ARIUS,
but they adopted the Trinitarian faith of Rome (c.576). The Visigoth Kingdom
of Spain continued until the last Visigoth King (Roderick) was overthrown
by the MUSLIMS (711-13). In Eastern
Europe the Ostrogoths) were overrun by the HUNS,
but they regained power for a time by serving the Emperor in Constantinople.
The people of Sweden could be viewed as the Goths who survived by not going
out to ravage other nations. Could their name be connected with the city
of Gothenburg or Goteborg on the mouth of the Gota Alv river?
GRACE We might call it "the giving
of love without limit to those who don't deserve it." Virginia Molenkott
said "There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. And there
is nothing you could ever do to make God love you less" (Ephesians 2:8).
But that does not mean humans can behave abominably. Grace and wrath are
both aspects of love.. And God's wrath assigns consequences for harmful
behavior in our nation, in our family, and in ourselves. But the good consequences
we enjoy and the worst consequences we can experience are both part of
the same love of God. We tend to assume that we deserve the good we enjoy.
But there is no explanation in this life of the good we do not deserve
or the bad that often seems erratic and unjust. Faith is believing that
the grace of God has been with us and for us throughout life. What unbelievers
miss is knowing, believing , and living with the assurance that God's grace
is for our ultimate freedom, and it will never fail us whatever happens
(2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Which is why Philip Yancey wrote "I rejected
the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned
because I found grace nowhere else."
GREEK ORTHODOX By the sixth century,
city churches were grouped by languages under five patriarchs in Jerusalem
(Hebrew), Antioch (Syriac), Alexandria (Coptic), Constantinople (Greek),
and Rome (Latin). The Patriarch in Constantinople (Byzantium) still claims
authority as the Oecumenical Patriarch of the East. But he has a precarious
existence under Turkish rule, and the Cathedral of Saint Sophia has been
made into a museum. The Greek Orthodox DENOMINATION
derives its authority from the Nicene Creed and the fact that Greek speaking
people still read and understand the language of the Septuagint version
of the Old Testament, the original Greek New Testament, and the very important
writings of the Greek Fathers. Greek Orthodox church buildings flourish
in most villages of Greece (and the islands), Crete, and Cyprus. As the
denomination has mushroomed by immigration among the many other denominations
of North America, it is only a matter of time before more and more of its
administration and services will have to be in English. But the ancient
and elaborate ceremonies will continue to attract worshipers in every city.
They allow the marriage of priests, but bishops are still expected to be
The original Greek tribes that came into mainland Greece spoke a form of the
INDO-EUROPEAN family of languages.
These are listed under JAPHET in the
Table of Nations (Genesis 10:2-5). Their languages included Celtic, early
English, Nordic, Germanic, Latin, Iranian, Sanskrit of the Aryan tribes that
invaded India. And they had a common word for the one Creator God (Dieu
in French, Deus in Latin, Zeus in Greek, Dev in Sankrit).
But they soon added other names for God (HENOTHEISM)
as among the Aryans. The Greek myths described various minor gods lusting and
competing for power among themselves (POLYTHEISM). This popular religion
of a multitude of gods was rejected by the Greek philosophers (see SOCRATES,
PLATO, ARISTOTLE), and many of them became atheistic. But Paul explains that
"What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature,
invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he
has made." The result was that "they became futile in their thinking, and their
senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise they became fools (Romans
1:19-22). Paul then goes on to explain the terrible decline of Greek
religion and civilization after the Golden Age.
GREGORY PALAMAS (c.1296-1359) was
ordained priest in Thessalonica (1326), but his adoption of HESYCHASM
(taught by the monks of Mount Athos) resulted in him being condemned
and sent to MOUNT ATHOS. But
he was restored and made Bishop of Thessalonica (1347). His teaching is
that we are made God's image, and that includes our body and soul together.
He says the incarnation affirms the goodness of the body and it is the
means by which humans are saved from corruption and death. The ascension
resulted in the sending of the Spirit through whom the deification of humans
is accomplished by making us participate in the life of the Holy Trinity.
This is received by participation in the sacraments, particularly Baptism
and the Eucharist. But our deification is always a gift of grace
through prayer. One of his important insights is that "The goal of the
ascetic life does not consist in a mortification which suppresses the passions
of the body but rather in the acquisition of a new and better energy" which
permits the body as well as the soul to be transformed (theiosis).
See Gregory Palamas: The Triads, trans. Nicholas Gendle. New York:
Paulist Press, 1983 (the above information is based on a paper for Regis
College, Toronto, November 2002, by Renee Desjardins). Transformation by
the Spirit to be perfected in the love of God is an essential part of our
model on this website (see our book on
GUIDED Many people destroy themselves
and others by insisting that God has guided them to solve the world's problems.
"God told me to mount a crusade, have an inquisition, burn the witches
in this town, start a community in Jonestown, point out what is wrong with
you." That is not to deny the importance of God's guidance. In fact Paul
said "All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God" (Romans
8:14). Such good guidance is easily recognized. "The wisdom from above
is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, without a trace
of partiality or hypocrisy" (James 3:17). People who are moved in
those ways don't irk us. We may not always agree with them, but they soon
establish their credibility and we can take their vision seriously.
GULAG Alexander Solzhenitsyn (born
in 1918) was given the Nobel prize (1970) for his books that described
life in Russian prisons (A Day in the Life of Ivan Deniscovich,
1962, Cancer Ward, 1968, The First Circle, 1968). But it
took another 12 years to write the horrifying story of The Gulag Archipelago
(in Russian 1974, New York: Harper & Row, 1975). An archipelago is
a string of islands, and in this case he used it as a metaphor for the
string of death camps in Siberia from 1918-1956. These continued for three
years after the death of STALIN
(1953). Solzhenitsyn was able to show that the Gulag was the inevitable
outcome of a model of
in which there are no values to support human freedom and dignity.
GURKHAS see NEPAL,