|Volume 20 Number 10 October 2018||
David R. Kenney
A column appeared in Mad Magazine in 1970. It was a satirical treatment of a politician making a speech against his opponent, thought to be uncomplimentary, but it was actually quite complimentary. Of course, those unfamiliar with the terms used in it would perhaps not recognize the article as complimentary. Let me give you one example: “When I embarked upon this political campaign I hoped that it could be conducted on a high level and that my opponent would be willing to stick to the issues. Unfortunately, he has decided to be tractable instead—to indulge in unequivocal language, to eschew the use of outright lies in his speeches, and even to make repeated veracious statements about me.” Sounds rather vicious? Well, consider the meaning of the terms in bold italics: “tractable” (easy to deal with); “unequivocal” (clear); “eschew” (avoiding); and “veracious” (truthful). Now, go back and read the sentence again with these definitions fresh in your mind and you will see how words may sound one way but actually have an unexpected meaning.
What would your reaction be if someone said you were “peculiar”? If you are like me, your first reaction may be, “Who are you calling ‘peculiar’?” The word “peculiar” can be a loaded word these days. If you say someone is acting peculiarly, he or she might take offense. Notice this passage: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9 KJV). Some have taken the word “peculiar” and have invented all kinds of ways to make themselves look, well, peculiar to others.
The challenge with this word “peculiar” is two-fold—the definition of the English word and the definition of the Greek word. First, the English word “peculiar” has changed in our common vernacular or every day conversation. Some tend to think the word means “weird” or “bizarre.” However, if you were to look up the definition of “peculiar” in Webster’s 1828 dictionary, you will read this definition: “one’s own property…belonging to a nation, system, or other thing, and not to others.” Now, if you were to look up in a Greek lexicon the word translated “peculiar” in the KJV, you would find out that the word peripoíēsis means “that which is acquired, possessing, possession, property…a people that has become (God’s own) possession 1 Pt 2:9” (BDAG 804). Similarly, the apostle Paul wrote, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”(1 Corinthians 6:20 NKJV). So, the term “peculiar” in this passage does not mean strange or weird but that we are to be Christ’s possession, His people. By examining both the English and Greek definitions, we gain clarity of meaning! This is one of the advantages of more modern but reputable translations. Notice how other translations treat this phrase: “His own special people” (NKJV), “a people for God’s own possession” (NASV) or “a people for His own possession” (ESV). Looking up words in their respective dictionaries and keeping terms in their historical context can help our understanding of the message being communicated!
Brian R. Kenyon
What do we think when we hear the word “restoration”? Old furniture? Antique cars? Simply put, restoration is bringing something back to its original condition.
Spiritually, whenever there is a departure from God’s will, there stands a need for restoration. Sometimes, even people need restoration. Humanity was created to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7; Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Corinthians 10:31), but “all have sinned” and have fallen short of that glory (Romans 3:23). From the first sin (Genesis 3:6), accountable human beings have needed restoration. The fulfillment of this need began very shortly after the first sin. It was in the promised “seed of woman” (Genesis 3:15). The remainder of the Old Testament shows the coming answer to real restoration. The New Testament reveals the reality of that answer. Thanks be to God who provided His image-bearer, mankind (Genesis 1:26-27), with a way to be restored (John 3:16). Jesus Christ is the one who “washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5). Thus, Jesus Christ is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). For restoration to be a reality, the Word of God must take precedence (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Restoration can only occur when the Bible is learned, respected and applied. When the right attitude is present along with a proper understanding of God’s Word, restoration will take place (Acts 8:30-31; 10:33). May we all “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6), taking advantage of the opportunities we have to hear God’s Word. Let us examine ourselves, for we might find that we stand in need of restoration.