The true core of the Bible

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

This most famous teaching of Yeshua sums up the compassion that God expects us to exhibit to others. He even goes so far as to say this maxim actually encompasses the entire Law and the Prophets, essentially all of the revealed religion that God has provided to his people.

I have heard many different views on this teaching, everything from this doesn’t really work, to saying this isn’t original to Yeshua (and it isn’t). But I have found to understand it best as Yeshua intended it is to keep it within its immediate context, whether here in Matthew or in its parallel placement in Luke.

Here in Matthew, the immediate context is the following:

Matthew 7:7-12 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

This then gives the meaning that if someone asks of you, to provide them what they are asking for. For if you desire others to provide for you when you ask, you should likewise do the same for them, just as God does for you.

In Luke, the passage has a slightly different emphasis.

Luke 6:27-36 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

In this passage, Yeshua is emphasizing how this idea of doing compassionately unto others extends even (or especially) to those whom are adversarial to us, those whom we are very likely to not do good things to. However, in the same intent as the Matthew context, if we are asked even by our enemies for something, we should be willing to give freely to them, as we would also hope to be done to us by them.

According to Yeshua, this is what the whole Bible is about. We should be merciful and compassionate to all others in all ways that we would like to see mercy and compassion exhibited toward us. Then we are just like God would have us be; then we reflect his image in this world. Compassionate giving and generous behavior toward all others truly is the core of the Bible.

So why then are we not doing it?


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Non-reciprocation of evil shows us to be God’s children

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:44-45

In this pivotal teaching of Yeshua, some of the most ancient Greek manuscripts are missing the specific phrase, “bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you.” You will find in many modern versions of the Bible that those words are omitted from Matthew 5:44. However, they are found in the parallel passage in Luke.

Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

In fact, in Luke’s telling, Yeshua goes into even further detail of what this type of love looks like:

Luke 6:29-31 “If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. “Give to everyone who asks you, and from someone who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. “

Some believe the words were added at a later date into the Matthew narrative to make the text agree with Luke. Regardless of scholarly opinions of the text, the fact remains that this principle of non-reciprocation of evil is abundant throughout the New Testament writings. This shows that the principle was understood and practiced by the disciples and early believers.

Romans 12:14, 17-21 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. … Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

1 Peter 3:8-9 Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.

1 Peter 2:20-21, 23 For what credit is there if when you do wrong and are beaten, you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God. For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. … when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

Yeshua encourages us to this same practice, and the reasoning he provides is that in doing so we demonstrate that we are seeking to be like our heavenly Father.

Matthew 5:45 …that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

When we treat all people equally, regardless of how they treat us, we exhibit the characteristic of God himself. This is how believers are identified as God’s children; not by claiming we are his children, but by demonstrating we do the same things as he does. This is how we bring glory to his name in this world, and cause his kingdom to grow.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Why believers don’t need to be anxious

“Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient.””

Matthew 6:34:

Many believers understand that it is not necessary to be anxious about things that haven’t happened yet. Yet with all the information and uncertainty in our lives, it gets difficult to continue to keep our eyes on eternal things.

I have seen many believers take the perspective that we don’t need to be anxious because “God has everything in control,” or “everything will work out the way that it supposed to.” While those sayings may be essentially be true, that’s not what Yeshua is teaching us here. If we really look at what Yeshua is teaching us in Matthew 6, we have to see the word therefore.

He says therefore don’t be anxious.  The word means accordingly, or likewise. It means that Yeshua is asking us not to be anxious is based on something he said previously. So what is the context of this teaching? Let’s back up one verse and see what it says.

“But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:33:

The context of his teaching is that we don’t need to be anxious when we are seeking first God‘s kingdom. Seeking first the kingdom of God allows us to not be anxious. Why not? Because when we are seeking first the kingdom, God will provide for all of our needs; that’s the promise.

Of course the logic then plays out that if we are not seeking first his kingdom we have every right to be anxious. God is not obligated to provide for our needs. If we are not seeking God‘s kingdom first, we have no idea what is coming our way tomorrow or anytime in the future. If we are not seeking God‘s kingdom first we get blown around by every wind of doctrine or circumstance that comes our way. If we’re not seeking God‘s kingdom first then we listen to false ideas and rumors and accept those things as being true, when we have no idea what they’re really based on.

Instead, I encourage you to not be anxious about tomorrow by trusting God and seeking his kingdom first. Then you can focus on today. Then you can focus on expressing and abiding by God’s kingdom right now. How can we show our love for God today? How can we show our love for others today?

Don’t be anxious; seek the kingdom, today.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Giving with intention and love

Core of the Bible podcast #29 – Giving with intention and love

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of compassion, and how our giving to the needs of others should stem from an intentional purpose of assistance and a heart of love, and not from a place of financial reciprocation.

Yeshua stated it this way:

Give to everyone who asks from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. … And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Luke 6:30-31, 34-35

In these verses, Yeshua appears to be saying that believers should give and loan freely to whoever asks of us, expecting nothing back from them. The distinctive aspect of how believers are supposed to model giving is to go outside the normal boundaries of the culture; to willingly give to those who would be considered unlikely recipients: those who can’t repay, even those who could be considered enemies.

This is not a practice for the faint of heart. Giving as God intends requires mettle and resolve. This is not “feel-good” giving. In fact, this type of giving can be painful because it seems so contrary to common sense.

First, it would be helpful if we were to identify what type of giving is being talked about here. An interesting dynamic is raised by the parallel of this teaching of Yeshua in Matthew 5:42

Matthew 5:42 Give to him that asks of you, and him that would borrow from you turn not away.

I am becoming of the opinion that, in our rush to exhibit compassion to others, we may have missed the actual intent of Yeshua’s teaching on this matter. As always, we need to remember that Yeshua’s teachings are all based on the torah of God.

Matthew 5:17, 19 “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. … “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

As we review the commands of God, we find basis for this teaching of Yeshua which may shed additional light on our giving practices.

Exodus 22:25 If you lend money to one of My people among you who is poor, you must not act as a creditor to him; you are not to charge him interest.

Leviticus 25:35-37 Now if your countryman becomes destitute and cannot support himself among you, then you are to help him as you would a foreigner or stranger, so that he can continue to live among you. 36Do not take any interest or profit from him, but fear your God, that your countryman may live among you. 37You must not lend him your silver at interest or sell him your food for profit.

Deut 15:4-6: “However there shall be no poor with you (for Yahweh will surely bless you in the land which Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance to possess it) if only you diligently listen to Yahweh your God’s voice, to observe to do all this commandment which I command you today. For Yahweh your God will bless you, as he promised you. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow. You will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.”

Deut 15:7-11: “If a poor man, one of your brothers, is with you within any of your gates in your land which Yahweh your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your poor brother; but you shall surely open your hand to him, and shall surely lend him sufficient for his need, which he lacks. Beware that there not be a base thought in your heart, saying, “The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand”; and your eye be evil against your poor brother, and you give him nothing; and he cry to Yahweh against you, and it be sin to you. You shall surely give, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him; because that for this thing Yahweh your God will bless you in all your work, and in all that you put your hand to. For the poor will never cease out of the land. Therefore I command you to surely open your hand to your brother, to your needy, and to your poor, in your land.”

Deuteronomy 23:19-20 “You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. 20“You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.

Based on these passages, it is apparent that in the days of ancient Israel, with no established banks or other forms of credit, it was a common practice for those who might have fallen on hard times to request loans from family and friends to get back on their feet.

Ellicott’s commentary states the following on Matthew 5:42 regarding someone who would borrow from you:

From him that would borrow.—The force of the precept depends on its connection with the Jewish Law, which forbade not only what we call usury, i.e., excessive interest, but all interest on loans where debtor and creditor alike were Israelites (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:37; Deuteronomy 23:19-20). From our modern point of view that law cannot be regarded as in harmony with the present order of society, nor consistent with our modern views of financial justice. It is not the less true, however, that in the education of a family or nation, such a prohibition may be a necessary and useful discipline. We should look with scorn on boys who lent on interest to their brothers or their schoolfellows, and the ideal of the Law of Moses was that of treating all Israelites as brothers brought under the discipline of the schoolmaster. As if with a prescient insight into the besetting temptation of the race, the lawgiver forbade a practice which would have destroyed, and eventually did destroy, the sense of brotherhood (Nehemiah 5:1-13), leaving it open to receive interest from strangers who were outside the limits of the family (Deuteronomy 23:20). The higher law of Christ treats all men as brothers, and bids us, if it is right to lend as an act of charity, to do so for love, and not for profit.

The intent of these torah commands, coupled with Yeshua’s teaching, seems to imply that there should not be discrimination in whom you lend to, whether close associate whom you know will repay, versus a faint acquaintance whom you recognize may never repay you. The issue was not the repayment, but the generous giving in love.


I believe we can learn much, both good and bad, from contemporaneous writings from ancient Israel. I like reading the apocrypha, or the additional books of the Bible that are found in Orthodox and Catholic versions of the Bible, because they provide historical perspective on how the Tanakh, or Old Testament, was being interpreted by the culture in the time period between the Old and New Testaments.

For example, in the apocryphal book of the Wisdom of Sirach, which is very similar to the book of Proverbs, there’s an insightful teaching that corresponds with Yeshua’s mentality in our current passage under discussion, explaining the benefits of unrestricted generosity.

Sirach 29: 1-13 He that shows mercy will lend to his neighbor,  and he that strengthens him with his hand keeps the commandments. Lend to your neighbor in the time of his need; and in turn, repay your neighbor promptly. Confirm your word and keep faith with him, and on every occasion you will find what you need. Many persons regard a loan as a windfall, and cause trouble to those who help them. A man will kiss another’s hands until he gets a loan, and will lower his voice in speaking of his neighbor’s money; but at the time for repayment he will delay, and will pay in words of unconcern, and will find fault with the time. If the lender exert pressure, he will hardly get back half, and will regard that as a windfall. If he does not, the borrower has robbed him of his money, and he has needlessly made him his enemy; he will repay him with curses and reproaches, and instead of glory will repay him with dishonor. Because of such wickedness, therefore, many have refused to lend; they have been afraid of being defrauded needlessly. Nevertheless, be patient with a man in humble circumstances, and do not make him wait for your alms.9 Help a poor man for the commandment’s sake, and because of his need do not send him away empty. Lose your silver for the sake of a brother or a friend, and do not let it rust under a stone and be lost. Lay up your treasure according to the commandments of the Most High, and it will profit you more than gold. Store up almsgiving in your treasury, and it will rescue you from all affliction; more than a mighty shield and more than a heavy spear, it will fight on your behalf against your enemy.

Here we can see how generosity with those in need is encouraged. But we also see the type of giving that is being discussed; it is not so much donating to someone’s needs, but rather providing them a generous loan. We can see the language of lender and borrower and repayment of loans being discussed.

This is absolutely in accord with the torah teachings we looked at earlier;

Exodus 22:25 If you lend money to one of My people among you who is poor, you must not act as a creditor to him; you are not to charge him interest.

The other torah passages we looked at had a similar emphasis. So as we look for the ancient understanding of giving to those in need, we find that the primary method of accomplishing that, and the method that God encourages, is to freely lend, without interest, to those who are in need.

This is the same thing Yeshua is teaching

Luke 6:35 ESV – … lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

Matthew 5:42 Give to him that asks of you, and him that would borrow from you turn not away.

Based on this broad ancient context, we can see that the type of giving God desires believers to practice is intentional and generous loans to those in need, all the while expecting nothing in return. While a loan with no expectation of return is essentially a gift, the idea remains that the receiver of the loan has been thoughtfully tended to without the stigma of charity or a handout. God’s intent is that their needs have been duly assessed, and a reasonable measure of assistance has been provided in love. Most would repay the loan/gift, and this is to be counted as a bonus to the lender, as many simply would not repay.

All of this seems pretty straightforward as far as torah teaching and the cultural context of the day. So if this is the case, why was it necessary for Yeshua to provide additional insight to his followers about loving, and possibly even lending to, those who could be considered enemies?


While the teaching on generosity does appear reasonably clear, we find that Yeshua felt it was necessary to dig in deeper to the concept in his day and age for his audience. Whenever we see Yeshua doing this, it is typically to overcome the wrong perspectives that were exemplified in his day.

For example, in Matthew 23, there are a lot of condemnations that Yeshua leveled against the hypocrisy and unrighteousness of the religious leaders.  Here are a few of those

Matthew 23:16, 23 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ …

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

Yeshua is condemning them for building up and enforcing exclusive and harmful traditions around godly things: creating nonsensical rules for oaths concerning the holy temple; demonstrating exacting minuteness in tithing, but foregoing true justice conveyed in God’s torah; obsessively minding cleanliness commands while ignoring the intent and spirit of those commands.

This is the work Yeshua had to do in the process of calling out the remnant of true believers away from the hypocritical religious establishment. He had to make sure he was reestablishing them on the correct spirit and intent of God’s torah.

This extended also to ungodly traditions that had grown up like weeds around the clear teachings of God on giving and loaning to those in need. An historical example of this type of wrong perspective can also be found in the apocryphal book of Sirach, as it discusses who is “worthy” of receiving favor.

Sirach 12:4-7 Give to the godly man, but do not help the sinner. Do good to the humble, but do not give to the ungodly; hold back his bread, and do not give it to him, lest by means of it he subdue you; for you will receive twice as much evil for all the good which you do to him. For the Most High also hates sinners and will inflict punishment on the ungodly. Give to the good man, but do not help the sinner.

I believe this is the type of thinking that Yeshua was trying to overcome. Passing judgment on who would receive your alms or your loan was keeping truly needy people from being helped. Rather than promoting a society of generosity, as the torah had intended, the command had turned into a system of condemnation and refusal to help those who were not considered worthy. This only served to cause further division and corruption within the religious system of his day.

So Yeshua’s directive to give or loan to everyone, good or bad, or even someone considered an enemy, was a radical departure from the ideas of giving that had come into vogue among the elite. A believer’s generosity should not be based on the perceived worthiness of an individual, but through the careful assessment of the need and a loan free of interest or any other catch.


Okay, so if we understand that this principle of giving revolves around the idea of loans, then how does that affect our response with those who approach us on the street corners for handouts?

Does this mean that we shouldn’t give to every beggar on the street corner, or whomever we pass on the sidewalk who approaches us for money? After all, Yeshua did teach to “give to whomever asks of you…”

Let’s see how this has been classically interpreted over the centuries.

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Give to every man that asketh of thee] Literally, “be giving implying a habit, not an instant act. Here again we have a broad, general principle of unselfishness and liberality safely left to the common sense of mankind, Deuteronomy 15:7-9. The spirit of our Lord’s precept is now best fulfilled by not giving to every man that asks, because in the altered circumstances of the age such indiscriminate almsgiving would only be a check to industry, and a premium on imposture, degradation, and vice. By ‘giving,’ our Lord meant ‘conferring a boon;’ but mere careless giving now, so far from conferring a boon, perpetuates a curse and inflicts an injury. The spirit of the precept is large-handed but thoughtful charity. Love must sometimes violate the letter as the only possible way of observing the spirit (Matthew 15:26; Matthew 20:23).

This is a really interesting perspective and not a popular view that is heard preached from the pulpits. These commentators are suggesting that indiscriminate handouts to those who approach us are actually a careless, rather than a caring, action. They go so far as to say that this “perpetuates a curse and inflicts injury” upon the receiver, because it not only prevents them from desiring to earn a wage, it also reinforces a culture of degradation and vice. In this view, handouts actually go against the spirit of the principle of intentional and generous giving that Yeshua is teaching about.

Matthew Poole’s Commentary

Matthew hath much the same passage, only he saith, “Give to him that … asketh of thee;” and for the latter clause, he hath, “from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away,” which seems more agreeing to the precept. Deu 15:8. These precepts of our Saviour must be interpreted, not according to the strict sense of the words, as if every man were by them obliged, without regard to his own abilities, or the circumstances of the persons begging or asking of him, to give to every one that hath the confidence to ask of him; but as obliging us to liberality and charity according to our abilities, and the true needs and circumstances of our poor brethren, and in that order which God’s word hath directed us; first providing for our own families, then doing good to the household of faith, then also to others, as we are able, and see any of them true objects of our charity.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

(42) Give to him that asketh.—Here again our Lord teaches us by the method of a seeming paradox, and enforces a principle binding upon every one in the form of a rule which in its letter is binding upon no man. Were we to give to all men what they ask, we should in many cases be cursing, not blessing, them with our gifts. Not so does our Father give us what we ask in prayer; not so did Christ grant the prayers of His disciples. That which the words really teach as the ideal of the perfect life which we ought to aim at, is the loving and the giving temper that sees in every request made to us the expression of a want of some kind, which we are to consider as a call to thoughtful inquiry how best to meet the want, giving what is asked for if we honestly believe that it is really for the good of him who asks, giving something else if that would seem to be really better for him. Rightly understood, the words do not bid us idly give alms to the idle or the impostor; and St. Paul’s rule, “If a man will not work, neither let him eat” (2Thessalonians 3:10), is not a departure from the law of Christ, but its truest application and fulfilment.

Wow. In looking at these classic commentaries I find it amazing how they have arrived at similar conclusions to each other, yet the principle they are espousing is so far removed from what we see actually promoted among God’s people today.

In my opinion, when the words of Yeshua are maintained within the context of all scripture, and not cherry-picked to support a specific ideologies or a denominational bias, a comprehensive and consistent view arises that can provide very practical insights for all.

For the topic at hand, if we understand it is a principle for regulating generous and intentional loaning for assistance in hard times, this causes us to take time to lovingly and caringly assess someone’s real needs and provide real help. Simply providing small handouts to those who would beg from us, while not wrong in and of themselves, don’t really solve the person’s situation and typically only make us feel better about ourselves. Of course we should always be willing to share food and resources with those in need, but we would do well to be thoughtful and intentional so that the individual is truly helped.


So, considering all of this wide perspective on giving, if we return to the teaching of Yeshua, why should we give anything to those whom are unable to repay? Along those lines, why should we be commanded by Yeshua to give generously even to those who could be considered adversarial?

There are at least five reasons that immediately come to mind, but many more could be added as well.

First of all, as we have just seen in the words of Yeshua, because this type of intentional giving is what is expected of us by God: “Give to those who would ask of you.” He quite simply expects us to be generous in helping others.

Secondly, because everything we have is temporary at best.

2 Corinthians 4:18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Thirdly, because everything we have has been provided by God, so why should we hold back what has been freely given to us?

Psalm 37:26 [The righteous] is always generous, always lending, and his children are a blessing.

Proverbs 22:9 A generous person will be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 Now the one who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will also provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.

Fourthly, because believers are supposed to be distinctive in this world, not to follow the conventions of the existing culture.

Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.  “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Fifthly, because God is kind to the ungrateful and evil, and our goal is to be like him, and to exemplify his character of compassion in this world.

Matthew 5:44-45, 48 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, “so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. … “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

According to Yeshua, giving in this manner also carries a promise of reward: you will be considered a child of the Most High. I can think of no higher honor or greater decoration to be bestowed upon us than for God to call us his own children.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The intentional practice of holiness

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14

This verse has been often quoted, but what is this holiness that is being discussed here? Other versions will sometimes render this word differently than holiness, and use instead the word separation or sanctification:

Young’s Literal Translation
peace pursue with all, and the separation, apart from which no one shall see the Lord,
Literal Standard Version
pursue peace with all, and the separation, apart from which no one will see the LORD,
World English Bible
Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord,
English Revised Version
Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord:
NASB 1995
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

The context of this verse is tucked in amidst many admonitions alluding to passages from Isaiah, Deuteronomy, Proverbs and Genesis to do what’s right even if being disciplined by God. The believers were encouraged to:

12 …strengthen your limp hands and weak knees. (Isaiah 35:3)
13 Make straight paths for your feet, (Proverbs 4:26) so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God, and that no root of bitterness (Deuteronomy 29:18) springs up to cause trouble and defile many.
16 See to it that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his birthright (Genesis 25:34).

To seek peace with all men and pursue holiness is what these things are all about. Pursuing holiness involves a separation or sanctification from the things of this world (sexual immorality, godlessness) and being a peacemaker (ensuring there is no root of bitterness, strengthening the weak).

Sometimes we can gain additional insight by finding where else the same form of a word in the text is used in other places in the Bible. In this case, this specific form of this word for holiness is used twice, but in only one other passage.

Romans 6:15-23 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Reviewing all of these admonitions from the letters to Rome and the Hebrews, we see a picture emerging of a holiness that is the fruit or result of conscious and intentional effort at removing sinful practices. Holiness is not some mystical status that is conferred upon believers, but is the result of the believer choosing to become a slave to righteousness, eliminating everything that is unrighteous in their lives. The writer of Hebrews says without this effort, without this separation or sanctification, no one will see the Lord.

As we consider ways in which we can build others up and eliminate unrighteous behavior in our own lives, we then have the promise of being separated out from the rest of the world. Only then can we truly begin to see, understand, and know the Lord.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Overcoming spiritual instability through vigilance

Be vigilant, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strengthened. Do everything in love.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

As Paul is concluding his epistle to the Corinthian believers, after having attempted to correct their disfunction and internal strife over the fifteen previous chapters, he abruptly includes these five exhortations to summarize his earnest intent for that congregation: be vigilant, stand firm, be courageous, be strengthened, and do everything in love.

We can gain inspiration from these five qualities; however, we can also gain insight by looking at their opposites. By doing so, we can gain a better understanding of what the true state of the Corinthian congregation was.

Instead of vigilance, they evidenced drowsiness and carelessness. Instead of standing firm in the faith they had an unsure footing and understanding of basic doctrine. Instead of being courageous (literally “manly”) cowardice was evident among them. Instead of strength they demonstrated weakness over the smallest matters. And most importantly, instead of exhibiting love with one another they were factious and divisive.

However, at the head of the list, and the quality upon which the others depend, is vigilance. The Greek word in the text conveys being wakeful or perpetually watchful. This implies remaining alert, not allowing distractions, maintaining careful attention at all times.

Alexander MacLaren in his commentary provides the following insights in regard to this term:

‘Watch ye.’ That means one of two things certainly, probably both-Keep awake, and keep your eyes open … there is the military idea underlying it. What will become of an army if the sentries go to sleep? And what chance will a Christian man have of doing his [duty] against his enemy, unless he keeps himself awake, and keeps himself alert? Watchfulness, in the sense of always having eyes open for the possible rush down upon us of temptation and evil, is no small part of the discipline and the duty of the Christian life. One part of that watchfulness consists in exercising a very rigid and a very constant and comprehensive scrutiny of our motives. For there is no way by which evil creeps upon us so unobserved, as when it slips in at the back door of a specious motive. Many a man contents himself with the avoidance of actual evil actions, and lets any kind of motives come in and out of his mind unexamined. It is all right to look after our doings, but ‘as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ The good or the evil of anything that I do is determined wholly by the motive with which I do it. And we are a great deal too apt to palm off deceptions on ourselves to make sure that our motives are right, unless we give them a very careful and minute scrutiny. One side of this watchfulness, then, is a habitual inspection of our motives and reasons for action. ‘What am I doing this for?’ is a question that would stop dead an enormous proportion of our activity, as if you had turned the steam off from an engine. If you will use a very fine sieve through which to strain your motives, you will go a long way to keeping your actions right. We should establish a rigid examination for applicants for entrance, and make quite sure that each that presents itself is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Make them all bring out their passports. Let every vessel that comes into your harbour remain isolated from all communication with the shore, until the health officer has been on board and given a clean bill. ‘Watch ye,’ for yonder, away in the dark, in the shadow of the trees, the black masses of the enemy are gathered, and a midnight attack is but too likely to bring a bloody awakening to a camp full of sleepers.”

Maintaining a watchful eye over our motives at every turn will provide us the footing to remain steadfast in the faith and flesh out our doctrinal understanding. It will overcome our tendency toward cowardice and provide us courage in the face of opposition. It can help us understand our weaknesses and learn where we need to be strengthened. And with vigilance, we can and must destroy all factiousness and divisiveness so that every action and motive is conducted from love.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Guarded by integrity

Psalm 25:21: “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”

Proverbs 13:6: “Righteousness guards the way of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”

Individual integrity is a theme that runs throughout scripture, and is a primary focus of the Wisdom literature of the Bible. A contemporary English definition of integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” But it also conveys the wholeness of something, as in solidarity or unified strength, or soundness of construction.

The biblical definition has similar overtones of wholeness, but comes from a root word meaning “complete or finished.” In this sense, integrity is a characteristic that demonstrates maturity and simplicity, as something that is complete is not complex; it is a fully integrated wholeness, and therefore unified and simple.

As this term is explored in scripture, those who exhibit this characteristic of integrity are shielded from wrong paths. The integrity they have actually influences their ability to withstand the ebb and flow of ethical morality that swirls around them every day. In Psalm 25:21, the David wrote that integrity and uprightness preserves him. In Proverbs 13:6, Solomon writes that “righteousness guards the way of integrity.” Like father, like son. This principle can be seen being passed generationally in these great documents of the faith.

The same root word is used in these passages which has the meaning “to preserve, watch, guard, or keep.” Those who act with integrity are kept from wrong action; it’s as if their integrity actually shields them from wrong paths.

Proverbs 2:6-8: “For Yahweh gives wisdom. Out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He lays up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity; that he may guard the paths of justice, and preserve the way of his saints.”

The simplicity of this principle is often overlooked due to the many complex issues we face in our current era, and the multitude of ethical choices available to us at any given point in time. However, Yahweh himself maintains and watches over the way of those who demonstrate integrity. As we follow his knowledge and understanding, we mature. And as we grow in the completeness of our integrity, we find that the right thing to do is typically a very simple thing, and we will be guarded in the doing of it by the One who is glorified in it.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Understanding blasphemy of the holy Spirit

I tell you the truth, people will be forgiven for all sins, even all the blasphemies they utter. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit”).

Mark 3:28-30

This verse has caused no small stir among believers over the years, as many people are concerned that perhaps they have slandered the holy Spirit. Additionally, why is there something that God won’t forgive, and could we have possibly done so and thereby placed ourselves outside the bounds of his forgiveness for all eternity?

However, the intent of this verse is explained within itself, and with a balanced view of the historical context of this saying, the answer is less problematic than one may imagine.

First, let’s understand why Yeshua felt compelled to say this at all. The text says it was because they (his detractors) were saying that he had an unclean spirit. We know from other places that the holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father, God.

Matthew 10:19-20 Whenever they hand you over for trial, do not worry about how to speak or what to say, for what you should say will be given to you at that time. For it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Luke tells us that Yeshua was filled with the holy Spirit.

Luke 4:1, 14 Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, … Then Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the surrounding countryside.

So, in this regard, to say that Yeshua had an unclean spirit was to blaspheme against God, since Yeshua was actually filled with the Spirit of God, not an unclean spirit. The scribes were accusing him of being possessed by “Baal’zebub, the prince of demons (or idolatrous gods).” To say this about Yeshua was to blaspheme or slander God himself.

Now we should look at the idea that this sin has eternal consequences that would never be forgiven. This can be taken in two senses.

First, if we look at the underlying text in a more literal sense, Yeshua mentions that they would not be forgiven “into the age,” for they were guilty of “an age-lasting sin.” In this more literal approach, Yeshua is warning the scribes that they would never be forgiven “into the age” (that is, the new age of the kingdom that he was establishing). Their sin of not recognizing God’s presence and power in the ministry of Yeshua would result in their perishing within that present age, prior to or within the destruction of Jerusalem less than 40 years away at that point.

Alternatively, if we hold to the eternal sense, then the warning of Yeshua still applies to “whoever” slanders the holy Spirit of God by claiming that Yeshua was an evil tool of Satan or of demons. Anyone who professes that understanding cannot be forgiven, for forgiveness was and is only through the name (that is, by believing in the truth of the ministry and character of) Yeshua.

Acts 4:11-12 “This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone.  ” There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”

This specific unforgiveable sin was directed immediately at the scribes who were accusing him of being possessed by evil. There is no greater slander that can be leveled against the holy Spirit of God himself, the Father, the Creator of all, the Most High God, than to say he is evil. It makes sense that God cannot forgive anyone who believes he is evil, because they are not repentant of their ways and have no fear of God.

This also illustrates how unlikely it could be that anyone of us who may wonder if we have somehow accidentally blasphemed the holy Spirit of God and are now outside the bounds of his forgiveness.  We may have said many unrighteous and sinful things in our lives, but if we come to a point where we truly recognize who God is with a righteous respect and fear of who he is, and are repentant of our ways that have dishonored him, we can be forgiven.

Acts 2:38-39 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The amazing news of the Kingdom of God

“It shall come to pass that, as you were a curse among the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Don’t be afraid. Let your hands be strong.”

Zechariah 8:13

In the time in ministry of Zechariah, Israel and Judah had been taken captive into the nations and had lost their temple in their homeland due to their disobedience. In all of this time, they wondered if God would ever restore their nation. As Zechariah’s prophecies continued to unfold, it was revealed to them that they would return to their land and they would be a blessing and their fortunes would be restored.

Zechariah 8:11-13: “But now I will not be to the remnant of this people as in the former days,” says Yahweh of Armies. “For the seed of peace and the vine will yield its fruit, and the ground will give its increase, and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. It shall come to pass that, as you were a curse among the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Don’t be afraid. Let your hands be strong.”

This wasn’t just good news, this was amazing and wonderful news! God was planting the seed for the establishment of not just the physical kingdom of Israel, but the eternal kingdom of God on earth.

From the early beginnings of Yeshua’s public ministry, this very concept of the good news of God‘s kingdom was recorded as the first message he preached in the synagogue in his hometown.

Luke 4:16-21 He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As usual, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him, and unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written:  The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. He began by saying to them, Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.

This focus on the amazing news of the revelation of the kingdom of God continued as he went about doing good among all the villages of Israel.

Mark 1:14-15: “Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Good News.””

The nation of Israel had been God‘s demonstration of power to the world. They also became the object lesson of faithlessness and faithfulness. In their faithlessness, they were removed from the land and scattered among the nations. In their faithfulness, they were restored to their land and received the promised inheritance; not just in the physical land, but of the full spiritual riches that God intended for all people through his chosen son, Messiah Yeshua.

Galatians 3:14: “that the blessing of Abraham might come on the nations through Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

The kingdom of God had moved from the natural into the spiritual, and would be expanded to all nations. This was the amazing news of Yeshua and the early believers! As a spiritual kingdom, it could now be eternal and last from generation to generation without end. This is the kingdom that believers today are a part of, as we seek the God of Israel and as we seek to remain faithful to his Torah, or Word, and his Messiah, Yeshua.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

A legacy of compassion and love

They asked only that we would remember the poor, which I had made every effort to do.

Galatians 2:10

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul gives a brief review of his activities after becoming a believer in the Messiah. He says after his conversion he immediately went to Arabia, and then returned back to Damascus (1:17). (As an aside, some have postulated a theory that he traveled to Arabia to visit Mt. Sinai, because his own personal revelation had changed his whole world).

He then relates three more years had passed before he spent two weeks in Jerusalem with Peter, and also met with James during his visit there (1:18-19). He traveled around Syria and Cilicia at that time and was unknown to the Messianic assemblies in Judea (1:21-22).

He returned to Jerusalem fourteen years later after receiving a revelation that he should minister among the nations, and not among his own people in Judea. He wanted confirmation from the then-leaders of the Messianic believers in Jerusalem (Peter, James, and John) that this was an appropriate ministry approach (2:1-2, 9), which they acknowledged with “the right hand of fellowship,” (2:9). Upon receiving this confirmation, he relates that “they asked only that we would remember the poor, which I had made every effort to do.”

I find it fascinating that out of all of the doctrinal issues which could potentially have been raised with the confirmation of an international ministry, that remembering the poor is the primary effort that should be a focus of this endeavor.

However, this is not without precedent in the history of the kingdom of God. As Israel was preparing to enter the land of Canaan, Moses provided specific instruction about the care and protection of those who would be needy among them.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8 “If there is a poor person among you, one of your brothers within any of your city gates in the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Instead, you are to open your hand to him and freely loan him enough for whatever need he has.”

This command comes immediately on the heels of an accompanying conditional promise that I personally have overlooked until recently re-reading this passage.

Deuteronomy 15:4-5 “There shall be no poor among you, however, because the LORD is certain to bless you in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance ​– ​ if only you obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow every one of these commands I am giving you today.”

While there is an acknowledgement that there will always be those in need in the land, there is a conditional promise that if they are careful to follow the commands of Yahweh in providing for their needy, there is no need for anyone to have lack within the earthly kingdom of God which was being established in the land of Canaan.

Deuteronomy 15:11 “…that is why I am commanding you, ‘Open your hand willingly to your poor and needy brother in your land.'”

To my way of thinking, this principle has enormous implications for us today. God has promised his people that within the kingdom there is no need for anyone to be in want of necessities, IF we follow his command to always help those in need. Throughout his Word, or Torah, Yahweh provides for his people time and time again, and here he is mentioning that we have an opportunity, rather, an obligation, to partner with him in that provision by helping those among the kingdom who are in need.

“There shall be no poor among you…” What a great opportunity and privilege to find ways to help those among his people who are without necessity, just as the apostles in Jerusalem commissioned Paul to do among the nations. When we are obedient to God’s Word in this area, we are participating in a legacy of compassion that is thousands of years old. But we must remember, the motivation should always be one not of compulsion, but of love.

1 Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and if I have not love, it gains me nothing.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart ​– ​not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.