Ruminations on an Unusual Palm Sunday Text…

And a plea for logical thinking.

The bottom line (one) is:  Is Scripture sufficient?

The bottom line (two) is:  Is Scripture trustworthy?

The text for our Palm Sunday was one that I had not heard preached on Palm Sunday - Acts 14.

(3)So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel.


(19)But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

When the truth is preached, people respond. Paul consistently preached the truth, regardless of the consequences.
Here is Acts 16:

(19)But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice." The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Paul was a man who preached the truth. Every chance he got, he preached the truth. He was beaten, imprisoned, threatened with death, beaten more, imprisoned more, threatened more.

And still he preached the truth.

He knew that he was going to be martyred

2 Tim. 4:6For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Peter watched James be martyred by Herod.

Acts 12:1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also.

and Peter watched. Peter was also threatened and imprisoned.

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison.

We read of Paul being beaten, imprisoned, beaten more, threatened with death.

We read of Peter being imprisoned after watching James be martyred.

And yet they continued to preach the gospel...even under the threat of death...and the eventually DID die for the gospel; one was beheaded, the other crucified.

And yet...these are the same men who wrote PRIVATE letters to congregations and wrote

(1 Peter 3) Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands (...) Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.


(Col. 3:18) Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

These are men who suffered and died to preach the truth of the gospel. And yet, in private letters to congregations, we see not one specific instruction to (specifically) husbands to (specifically) submit to (specifically) their wives...because they were concerned about what the authorities would say?

It would seem that men who were willing to die for the truth would be willing to write to congregations in private letters what they were really wanted to teach.

We have the same man who wrote that we ought to obey God rather than man...pandered to the culture and neglected to write that (in the face of impending martyrdom for the truth) (specifically) husbands should (specifically) submit to (specifically) their wives...because they were concerned about the authorities.

These are questions that egalitarians don't appear to least I've asked it a number of times and I don't recall seeing it addressed when I've asked it.

1) Why would the same Pater who said, "We must obey God rather than men!" have obeyed the culture of those same men when teaching the truth of God concerning the submission of husbands to wives?

2) Why would the same Paul who was beaten, imprisoned, and martyred for preaching truth of God in the face of governmental persecution - why would this Paul have neglected a teaching about relationships between husbands and wives out of concern for what the governmental authorities might think?
3) If we believe the Scriptures are inspired by God and are "breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work"...why did "inspired" Scripture leave out this teaching (unless it isn't really a teaching)?

4) If Paul wrote what God breathed out, why was GOD pandering to the culture?

5) Paul preached Christ crucified (the equivalent of us teaching to follow a common criminal executed by hanging) - why would he have been concerned about what culture thought...when preaching such an UNcultural truth?
NOTE ON COMMENTS: stick to the specific questions or comments will be closed.

Back to the bottom lines:

(one) Is Scripture sufficient?  Or does it leave us on a "trajectory"?

(two) Is Scripture trustworthy?  Or does it leave out specific instructions in order to pander to culture?

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33 thoughts on “Ruminations on an Unusual Palm Sunday Text…

  1. Sue

    Or does it leave out specific instructions in order to pander to culture?

    The scriptures seem to have omitted instructions to free slaves. I can't say why.

  2. Charity

    There are an awful lot of things that aren't stated explicitly in the Scriptures. Personally, I don't think that makes God any less trustworthy.

  3. ellen

    concepts, yes (the Trinity). commands )free the slaves, husbands (specifically$ submit (specifically) to wives)? God has been able to verbalize instructions to His sheep clearly.

  4. Charity

    Let's put it this way - if I had a wife on the basis of what appears to be clear to me in Scripture, I would endeavour to submit to her as well as seeking to love her as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. The Bible does not specifically teach me that I should not steal my neighbour's car but I think it is sufficiently clear that this is not what God wants me to do.

  5. Sue

    I think it might be accepatable to personally choose a marriage in which one person believes that he has no instruction from God to ever give in or relinqush his own will, but it is another thing entirely to teach or model such a relationship to others.

    One man might impose nothing and feel that he never has to give in because he does not initiate. Another man may initiate all activity in his home and, by never giving in, create a dictatorship. Such a home would not be a good witness to others of the grace of God.

  6. Charity, I guess I could buy
    that logic except that "don't steal" had already been commanded. also, cars are a relatively newInventions - wives are not. If you wish to. AME a case that Christ issued in a new era of equality for women, why was Paul not clear in saying so? We'd recognize "do not steal cars" within "do not steal". In a time when women were in the submissive position, submission to wives would not have been recognized within the general statement.

    My question is still why didn't Pail give the specific instruction if that's what heeant?

  7. Sue, the question was: of God wanted to tell husbands (specifically) to (specifically) to their wives (specifically) why didn't He? It just would not have been that hard to do!

    (I am sending from a thumb board so typing is bad)

  8. Sue

    Why didn't he tell masters to free slaves? Obviously God did not want this in the scripture. But think what kind of testimony it would be if Christians still kept slaves.

  9. That's a good question, Suzanne.

    The answer might be that slavery in ALL its forms, voluntary and involuntary), for ALL it's reasons (debt, war, punishment of crime) might not be considered "sin" by God.

    There are different forms of "slavery", some of which are temporary, some of which are the result of sin on the part of the person in bondage.

    I refuse to be put into the position of appearing to support the horrendous race-based trans-Atlantic slave trade that was called "sin" in the Bible. Scripture puts slave-trade in a couple of lists of serious sins. I stand by Scripture.

    I also refuse to be put into the position of calling "sin" something that God does not call "sin".

    Your logic is not convincing.

  10. Sue

    the horrendous race-based trans-Atlantic slave trade that was called “sin” in the Bible. Scripture puts slave-trade in a couple of lists of serious sins.

    I'll bite. What scripture are you referring to?

  11. Then...please, back to the topic.

    Old Testament:
    Exodus 21:16
    He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.

    New Testament
    1 Tim. 1:10 (...)for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine(...)

    And that is all on the slavery issue.

    Back to my questions about the logic of Paul and Peter being afraid to preach what egalitarians claim as the "truth" of husbands being told to submit to wives (regardless of the fact that the direct instruction is never inn Scripture) while being unafraid to preach the truth of the gospel, under threat of being beaten, imprisoned and murdered.

  12. Sue

    So, I understand that it was wrong to put a man in slavery, but it was fine to buy or to own slaves. I am not partial to the many different kinds of slavery this seems to condone.

  13. Sue

    I am against slavery whether the Bible explicitly forbids all slavery or not. I simply refuse to limit myself to that which is explicitly found in scripture.

    There are certain principles laid down by the teaching to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  14. Charity

    Who says they were unable to articulate what God wanted to say?

    I'm finding it difficult to understand why you're prepared to include things that are not [b]specifically[/b] mentioned in "Thou shalt not steal, but you're not prepared to include things that are not [b]specifically[/b] mentioned in "Submit to one another". Personally I find the latter idea as clearly articulated as "Thou shalt not steal".

  15. Is Scripture sufficient? No.

    Is Scripture trustworthy? Yes, if you trust those who gave you your Canon and approved of the translation.

  16. is surprising to me that it is egalitarians that continually state that it was unheard of (in the Biblical era) that women would be seen as equals, and yet you don't find it surprising that I think that new Christians would need to be told that was what was meant?

    After all, cars had not been invented yet. Wives had been around for a long time, and had never been given na equality of personhood. And yet you think that it would be self-evident that that would be meant (ESPECIALLY in the face of Paul instructing WIVES to submit to their husbands - when wives had been submitting to husbands for thousands of years - why was THAT not taken for granted?)

  17. Sue


    I don't trust Bible translations, even a little bit. Take Colossians 4:15.

    Nympha means pretty much meant then what it means now, a young woman ready to be married or just married. It was also a woman's name.

    In the KJV it was "Nymphas and the church in his house." Then in the ERV 1885 we see "the brothers and Nympha and the church in their house." In 1952, finally, oh right, we get it, the scriptures always said "Nympha and the church in her house."

    Why did it take this long for Christians to realize what has always been known, that Nympha is a woman's name, and Paul was greeting the church of Nympha's household?

    Until 1952 this was not revealed because of scribal changes and translation bias.

    So, Tony, no I don't trust any Bible translations at all.

    There has always been bias in Bible translation and doctrine.

  18. Sue

    Nympha means pretty much meant then what it means now, a young woman ready to be married or just married.

    Should be,

    Nympha pretty much meant then what it means now, a young woman ready to be married or just married.

    And the last sentence means that I regard doctrine to be every bit as biased as translation and scribal practice.

    So, if some women want to be under the authority of men, they need to know that a man or a woman without bias does not exist. Women under male authority means that women submit for their lifetime to male bias.

    That is why there needs to be mutuality and dialogue between men and women as equals. If men only are leaders that cannot happen and we confine teaching to men more than it was in NT times.

  19. Until 1952 this was not revealed because of scribal changes

    Look, I'm not telling you anything because I know you know the RSV in 1952 was a major breakthrough, based as it was on the critical text.

    But you would fault pre-modern translations for lacking the advances of textual criticism? (For Tony's benefit, primarily - see NAB's textual note on Col 4:15.)

    If Paul wrote what God breathed out, why was GOD pandering to the culture?

    I would suggest that divine revelation is unavoidably conditioned by culture, from the human language used (Hebrew, Greek), on down. God is so "Other."

  20. You are correct, God is so very "other".

    But...I do believe that if the "mutual submission" of egalitarianism was what God was trying to get across, He could have given the writers of Scripture the language to say exactly that...

    We are expected to believe (that for the sake of the culture), women were specifically told to submit to their husbands and husbands were NOT specifically told to submit (specifically) to their wives. This in the face that they were IN a culture where wives were expected and required to submit to their husbands and husbands were NOT expected or required to submit to their wives.

    So, in this culture, Paul told husbands and wives to do exactly what culture told them to do, and didn't tell them to do what GOD want them to do (submit to each other in exactly equal and identical ways without any regard for gender)

  21. Sue

    First, Paul's commands about slaves were very much determined by culture, and aren't slaves as important as wives? So let's just agree that Paul said some things that we wouldn't go along with.

    Christians did help slaves run away and Christians do help battered women escape. Paul does not give instruction to do this, but we do it anyway.

    Next, we don't know why Paul said what he said. Maybe for him sacrifice and submission are two ways of saying the same thing. Nowhere does Paul say that husbands have authority over their wives. It is "wives submit" and "husbands sacrifice". But I have never met a wife yet that did not sacrifice or a husband that does not submit at least some of the time. So we have to decide, what does it mean? The scripture says for wives to submit to the husband's sacrifice, not to the husband's authority.

    Aren't they two views of the same thing?

  22. I believe that the reason Paul wrote what he did was because that was what the Spirit inspired him to write. No more, no less.

    The scripture says for wives to submit to the husband’s sacrifice, not to the husband’s authority.

    Aren’t they two views of the same thing?

    Are you saying that the husband has authority?

  23. Sue

    Clumsy me!

    Aren’t they two views of the same thing?

    I think that I meant to say,

    "Aren't they two completely different views of the same passage?"

    I don't disagree with Paul, I just think he was saying something quite different from what you think he was saying.

    All I can say is that if I had been a slave I might have wished that Paul had been a bit more explicit.

    I am not saying authority is abuse, but that gender-based authority is abuse.

    Take a group of people and put all the men in charge of all the women. I can't think of a stupider thing to do. Take a group of men and women and pair them off and put each man in charge of one woman. That is still stupid.

    How about finding who is educated to do what and assigning tasks on the basis of ability, would that be defying God?

  24. I am not saying authority is abuse, but that gender-based authority is

    You cannot prove that from Scripture.

    Wives, SUBMIT to your husbands as the church submits to Christ. Husbands, LOVE your wives as Christ loves the church.

    Whether you like it or not, God's direct instructions that specifically addresses the submission of wives to husbands and the love of husbands toward wives address them differently.

    Scripture DOES address husbands and wives differently.

    Scripture NEVER directly and specifically instructs husbands to submit to wives.

    So, unless you want to take the stance that Christ's authority over the church is abusive, you might want to leave the "abuse card" out of this thread.

  25. Sue

    Whether one likes it or not slaves are to obey and masters in general are not told to free slaves.

    Abraham was told to obey Sarah, Sapphira was punished for obeying Ananias.

  26. Charity

    I still don't understand why you would need a specific instruction to do something that's included in a general one.

    The "one another" language is quite clear to me.

  27. Maybe not, but she did die because she followed her husband’s lead.

    Are you sure? Are you sure that she had no input? That she was merely following? Or were they in agreement? Scripture does not say.

    Charity, I recognize that up to this point, the submission of husbands to wives was a an idea that was foreign to the early Christians. I also recognize that submission to each others needs does not rule out authority and leadership.

    Can you explain then, why the Holy Spirit felt the need to inspire Paul and Peter, in multiple places, wrote that wives should submit to their husbands when that ALSO would have been included in the general instruction AND would have been something that they were already doing?

    In other words, if husbands and wives are supposed to relate to each other in exactly the same way without regard to gender, why are the instructions different?

    If the general instruction is to "submit to one another" rules out all differences in how people relate to each other, how can Scripture also say to "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority"? Clearly, in the face of the "general instruction", there are also leaders who have authority and we are to submit to them.

    The difference in instructions to husbands and wives (and also to leaders and congregations) is quite clear to me.

    God’s direct instructions that specifically addresses the submission of wives to husbands and the love of husbands toward wives address husband and wives differently.

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