Friday, November 1, 2013

Commentary on the Gospel of John According to the Aramaic Peshitta: Chapter 3

And there was there a certain man from the Pharisees. Niqodemus was his name, a ruler of the Yehudeans. This [man] came to Yeshua at night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that from God you were sent a teacher. For man is not able to do these miracles that you do except he: [him] who God is with. - John 3:1-2
        Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57) are two of the only Jewish authorities that we have mentioned in the Gospels as believers in Jesus as the Messiah. Nicodemus clearly acknowledged what the other Jewish teachers did not: that Jesus was a man sent from God.

Yeshua answered and said to him, "Truly, truly say I to you: that if a man is not born again, he is not able to see the Kingdom of God." Niqodemus said to him, "How is an old man able to again? Is it possible the second time to enter the womb of his mother and to born?" - John 3:3-4
       Metiled men d’rish ($yrd Nm dlytm). Paul Younan states in his Interlinear Gospel of John that it should be translated literally as “From the start (over again)”. Andrew Gabriel Roth, in the Aramaic English New Testament, using the Younan Interlinear as a basis, translates as “From the beginning”. This is a very poetic translation and it also works as a translation. George Lamsa has an interesting footnote on this verse: “Born again in Northern Aramaic means to change one’s thoughts and habits. Nicodemus spoke Southern Aramaic and hence did not understand Jesus.” Metiled men d’rish has so many different meanings (some of which stated above), that it isn’t hard to imagine how Nicodemus could have missed the point of what Jesus is saying. Jesus was talking about spiritual rebirth, not a physical one. Jesus also says that without this new birth, you cannot even see God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom of God (Malkuta d' Alaha 0hl0d Fwklm) refers to the reign of God, not castles in the sky. The Kingdom of God is here and now, within you. 

Yeshua answered and said to him, "Truly, truly say I to you: that if a man is not born from water and spirit, he is not able to enter the Kingdom of God. The thing which is born from flesh is flesh and the thing which is born from spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I have said to you that it is necessary for you to be born again." - John 3:5-7
                Many people think that “born of water” refers to the water in a woman’s womb during pregnancy, but this sounds more like Nicodemus’s line of thinking. Jesus is talking about spiritual realities. To be born of water is possibly referring to the Holy Spirit (the Spirit is compared to water in this Gospel)), but it is possibly referring to baptism. The Spirit is clearly referring to the Holy Spirit coming into your life at salvation. This is not talking about the gift of tongues (which is merely a gift of the Holy Spirit, not the Holy Spirit Himself). The Apostle Paul states that the Spirit of Christ being in believers is necessary for salvation (Romans 8:9). Now notice that Jesus says that you cannot even enter into the Kingdom of God (partake of the blessings of God’s rule, including salvation). Jesus explains to Nicodemus here in a more clear fashion about what He is telling him.

The wind where it desires will blow, and its voice you hear, but you do not know [from] where it comes or where it goes. Likewise is everyone who is born from spirit." – John 3:8-9
   The word for “wind” and “spirit” is rukha (0xwr), therefore Jesus is obviously using wordplay. This verse can also be translated as “The Spirit blows where He wants to, and you hear His voice, but do not know from where He is coming or to where He is going: so it everyone that is born of the Spirit." "Wind" works better in this context.

Niqodemus answered and said to him, "How is it possible [for] these things to be?" Yeshua answered and said to him, "You are a teacher of Yisrael, and these things you do not understand? Truly, truly say I to you: that the thing that we know, we speak, and the thing that we see, we testify to and you do not receive our testimony. If about the world[ly things] I have told you and you do not believe, how if I speak to you about Heaven[ly things] will you believe? And no man has ascended into Heaven except he who descended from Heaven: the Son of Man, he who is in Heaven."  – John 3:9-13
   Jesus is telling Nicodemus that this is a fundamental truth that a great teacher such as himself should know already. Jesus goes on to explain that the testimony that Jesus and the Father bear is rejected by the religious institutions of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. Jesus tells us why He is the one to teach us about the things of heaven: because He came down from heaven and is in heaven. He is the Almighty God in the flesh.

And as Moshe lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, thus is about to be lifted up the Son of man [so] that everyone who believes in him will not perish, but have life that is eternal." – John 3:14-15
  Jesus is referring to Numbers 21:4-9, in which God judged the children of Israel for their disobedience by sending poisonous snakes after them. God then had mercy and had Moses build a bronze snake, which was held up on a pole (not unlike a cross), and everyone who looked at this snake was healed of their sickness. In the same way, if we look toward Jesus with faith, we will be healed of the disease of sin.

"For thus loved God the world: so as His Son, Only-Begotten,  he would give that whoever would believe in him would not perish but would have life that is eternal. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to give life to the world through him. He who believes in Him is not judged, and he who does not believe already is judged, because he does not believe in his name, that of the Only-Begotten: the Son of God." – John 3:16-18
   Look how great the love that the Father has for us, a sinful people. If we just have faith in Jesus, we will live eternally with Him. Because we are in Christ, we are free from condemnation. This is a terrible thing for those who reject the message of the Gospel. Jesus being sent into the world is not proof of a Trinity. John the Baptist was sent into the world by God, but did not preexist as a different divine Person from God. Jesus existed from eternity as God Himself and became flesh. Jesus also said that He was sending His disciples into the world just as His Father had Him (John 20:21). Paul says in Galatians 4:4, “But when the consummation of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son; and he was from a woman, and was under the law; that he might redeem them that were under the law; and that we might receive the adoption of sons.” As this commentary goes on, I will explain the Oneness theological view of the incarnation and the nature of the distinction between the Father and the Son.

"Now this is the judgment: because the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than the light, for their works are evil. For everyone who does hateful things hates the light, and does not come to the light, because his works will not be hidden. But he who does truth[ful things] comes to the light, that may be known his works that in God they are done." – John 3:19-21
   It is truly sad that we are so vain and stubborn that we would rather live in sin than in righteousness. Even more so that we are afraid to admit that we are wronged. We have to have a change in heart, which will result in a change of habits and lifestyle as a whole. Let’s come to the light and live for God!

After these things Yeshua came, and his disciples, to the land of Yehuda. And there he would remain and would baptize with them. Also Yukhanan was now baptizing in Ain-Yon, which is on the side of Shalim, because there was there plentiful water. And they were coming and being baptized. For not yet had fallen Yukhanan into prison. And arisen had a question to one of the disciples of Yukhanan with a certain Yehudean about purification, and they came to Yukhanan and said to him, "Our master, he who was with you at the crossing of the Yordanan, about whom you witness, behold, he also baptizes and many are coming to him. Yukhanan answered and said to them, A man is not able to receive from his own will anything, except it be given to him from Heaven. You are my witnesses that I said that I am not the Messiah, but am messenger who is before him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, he who stands and listens to him, rejoices great joy because of the voice of the bridegroom. Therefore this, my joy, behold,  is full. For he it is necessary to increase and for me to decrease." – John 3:22-30
   We should all have the humble attitude of John. None of this is about us. It’s all about Jesus. We should exalt Him and lower ourselves. Let Jesus exalt us. John and Jesus were not in a competition, as much as the religious world would like to think. John knew that it was Jesus’s time now, and he clearly had no issue with that.

"For he who from above has come is higher than all, and he who from the earth is, from the earth speaks. He who from heaven has come is higher than all, and what he has seen and heard he testifies to and his testimony no man receives, but he who receives his testimony seals that God is true. For whoever that God sends, the words of God he speaks, for not in measure gives God the Spirit. The Father loves the Son, and all things has given into his hands. He who believes in the Son has life that is eternal, and he who does not obey the Son will not see life, rather the wrath of God will rise up against him." – John 3:31-36

                Jesus has all the authority. If we accept that, we bring glory to God. As stated before, it is all about bringing glory to God and His Son. Let’s get a hold of that and humble ourselves, just get out of God’s way and let Him be God. This verse also reveals the uniqueness of the Messiah’s relationship to YHWH. Unlike us, who have only a measure of anointing, God did not give the Holy Spirit to Jesus in limitation. Because of God’s love for His holy Servant Jesus, He has given all power and authority to Him. Let’s submit to Jesus in love and humility and try our best to avoid God’s wrath.