The power to live as kingdom people

All who claim to be believers in Messiah should be exhibiting these lofty qualities.

2 Peter 1:10-11 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Yeshua Messiah will be richly provided for you.

Peter here speaks of the eternal kingdom, and how one “enters” this kingdom. He mentions entrance into the kingdom is evidenced “in this way,” and “if you do these things.” What things is he speaking of?

2 Peter 1:8-9 – For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Yeshua Messiah. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins.

Peter expresses that some specific qualities provide fruitfulness and usefulness in fulfilling our understanding of Messiah. These qualities are based on “cleansing from past sins,” the forgiveness extended to those believers in Messiah. Once one believes in Messiah and is cleansed from past sins, a new set of qualities should be evident in their lives.

2 Peter 1:5-7 – For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

These qualities that are based on past forgiveness include supplements or contributions to the faith which has brought forgiveness. He says these qualities, “these things,” should be evident in the believers’ lives: goodness (or virtue), knowledge (or wisdom/understanding), self-control (self-mastery or restraint), endurance (steadfastness), godliness (devotion/piety toward God), brotherly affection (love for the brethren), and love (affection and benevolence towards all). These are the qualities of the eternal kingdom. All who claim to be believers in Messiah should be exhibiting these lofty qualities.

This should provide us pause for reflection. Are these qualities evident in our lives? If not, why not? Have we truly recognized our forgiveness from past sins, or are we “blind” and “short-sighted” as Peter lays out?

If we are truly desiring God’s kingdom to come and his will to done on earth, then we must repent of those things that hinder the realization and achievement of these Spirit-driven characteristics in our lives. Yeshua’s admonition is to “seek first the kingdom.” The kingdom should be first over all other demands and desires in our lives, which Peter says is possible when we rely on the “divine power,” the Spirit of God, who has “given us everything required for life and godliness.”

2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

If we are not evidencing these qualities, then we must renew our knowledge in the glory of God revealed in his Messiah. According to the apostle Paul, Yeshua is the good news, the gospel of the fulfillment of the promises made to the ancestors.

Acts 13:32-33 – “And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our ancestors. “God has fulfilled this for us, their children, by raising up Yeshua, as it is written in the second Psalm: You are my Son; today I have become your Father.

Relying on the Spirit of God provided through the resurrection of Yeshua allows believers to live as godly people in this world, true sons of God, representing him faithfully in his kingdom.

Romans 8:12-14 – So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.

Let us always remember to seek first the kingdom, living as his people through the power he has provided us. According to Peter, if we do so, we will confirm our calling and “never stumble.” Through our faithful actions, the eternal kingdom will be evidenced to those who need to hear its message, paving the way for others to also be drawn to God through faith in his Son.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Continual confession is best for the soul

We need to respond to the prodding of God within our hearts.

Psalm 32:1-2 – How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom Yahweh does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit!

This psalm carries an important message that may be lost upon us in our current day and age. As believers in Messiah, we may freely (and maybe a bit too freely) acknowledge that we recognize the blessedness of one whose sins are forgiven. However, in our ongoing walk of faith we many times tend to overlook an important step that was responsible for bringing us to this point in the first place: confession.

Psalm 32:3-4 – When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat.

An unconfessed life is one that can feel like a burden, where issues arise that continually assault our sensibilities and make us feel as if we have no bearing or foundation. The psalmist here uses the language of God’s hand being “heavy” on him, to where his strength evaporates. It’s as if no matter what we try to do, the wrong results come of all of our actions. Everything we intend for good ends up going sideways.

Psalm 32:5 – Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

The turnaround (literally) comes when we become honest about our rebellious hearts toward God. When we finally reach a point where the struggle has become so exhausting that we simply cannot go on under the burden of resisting God’s prodding within our hearts.

When it comes to confession, we tend to think that when we initially came to Messiah, we acknowledged our sinful lives and confessed our wayward actions before him. But God’s word encourages us to not only confess our sin when coming to him, but on a regular basis as part of an ongoing, healthy and sin-free relationship.

The apostle John writes:

1 John 1:6 – If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.

The psalm says that the person who is truly joyful is the one whom not only is forgiven, but “in whose spirit is no deceit.” How many multitudes of believers have fallen into the trap of false security because of an initial repentance when coming to the faith, and yet stumble in their walk because of ongoing unconfessed sin before God? John says when we do that, we are walking in darkness, not in the light; “we are lying, and not practicing the truth.”

Psalm 32:6 – Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to you immediately. When great floodwaters come, they will not reach him.

We should pray to him immediately and constantly when we slip. The longer wrong actions and wrong intentions remain, the further “under his hand” we place ourselves. We begin to drown in the floodwaters that inevitably surround us.

Psalm 32:7 – You are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.

Instead, a life of constant repentance is one that is without sin, not because sin never occurs, but because it is constantly being purged in the ongoing vital relationship between the individual and their Creator. Then, deliverance, joy, and light become the living environment of the faithful confessor.

1 John 1:7-9 – If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

To live cleansed from all unrighteousness is to acknowledge before God our faults when they occur, as they occur. In this way, we can walk in unburdened fellowship with other believers, and in a living and vital lifestyle of obedience before God.

While confession may be good for the soul, ongoing confession is even better.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The true blessing of mercy and compassion

There is a reciprocal and regenerative nature to being generous and compassionate.

Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

When Yeshua taught that the merciful shall be blessed, the term he used for mercy was exemplified in a parable he was to tell later on in the book of Matthew. It is known variously as the parable of the unforgiving or unmerciful servant. I won’t recount the entire passage here, but it is found in Matthew 18:21-35. In brief, it explains how, after receiving forgiveness of a large debt from his master, a servant then goes out and begins demanding repayment of others who owed him small amounts of money. When his master finds out, he brings him back and scolds him for being unmerciful.

Matthew 18:32-33 – “Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. “Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? ‘

This word for mercy is the same word Yeshua used in Matthew 5 regarding those who are blessed. It implies that one who is demonstrating mercy has a right to perform a measure of judgment on someone and yet refrains due to a granting or bestowing of favor.

In context, the whole parable was told in answer to Peter’s question of how many times must he forgive someone who repeatedly comes to him. In fact, Yeshua ends the parable with a lesson in forgiveness:

Matthew 18:35 – “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart.”

From this we can see how closely this mercy and forgiveness are. When we forgive, it is because we are exercising mercy, that is, granting or bestowing favor on someone with whom we have a legitimate right to hold to account for something.

The broader lesson in Yeshua’s teaching in Matthew 5 indicates that mercy begets mercy; there is a reciprocal and regenerative nature to being generous and compassionate. This is why the servant in the parable was ultimately held to account: he was not regenerating mercy after receiving mercy himself.

1 Peter 2:10 – Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The apostle Peter writes that as God’s people we have received mercy from God. The regenerative nature of mercy then demands that we show mercy to others, and when we do so, we will be blessed in reciprocation. This mercy can be demonstrated not only in forgiveness of others, but in acts of compassion toward those who cannot help themselves.

When we live in this way, we begin to generate ripples of mercy that flow outward from us into the lives of others, and we open ourselves to reciprocal acts of mercy from others and from God. This is the true blessing in being merciful and compassionate.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The ancient practice of non-retaliation

If we recognize that only God is truly able to judge others, we relieve ourselves of that burden and responsibility.

Matthew 5:39 – “But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

While many people claim that Yeshua began a revolutionary concept of non-retaliation in his day, it was actually a godly principle from ancient times, evidenced by the narrative of Scripture.

1 Samuel 24:12-13 – “May Yahweh judge between me and you, and may Yahweh take vengeance on you for me, but my hand will never be against you. “As the old proverb says, ‘Wickedness comes from wicked people.’ My hand will never be against you.

As David was confronted with the continuing persecution of Saul, he makes the commitment that he would never do Saul harm as Saul was attempting to do to him, since Saul is God’s anointed ruler. David fulfilled that commitment.

What I find fascinating from an historical perspective is that David quoted “an old proverb” regarding how wickedness in action stems from those who are wicked. As far as we know, this is not a quote from Moses or any biblical writer prior to David, but it was a quote that had become common enough to be routinely mentioned as proverbial within that culture. This idea of non-retaliation appears to be very ancient, indeed.

Ironically, or perhaps because of David’s parenting influence, his son Solomon would become associated with thousands of proverbs. Likely influenced by that same godly motivation of his father, Solomon would ultimately pen the following proverb:

Proverbs 24:29 – Don’t say, “I’ll do to him what he did to me; I’ll repay the man for what he has done.”

This is a line of thinking carried all the way down to New Testament writers. Even beyond the life and teaching of Yeshua, the apostle Paul expands on this perspective that was modeled by his Lord and Master and the ancient forefathers.

Romans 12:17-19 – 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 Yahweh.

That vengeance belongs to God is a statement that is an echo of David’s words to Saul. If we recognize that only God is truly able to judge others, we relieve ourselves of that burden and responsibility, and allow him to do whatever is appropriate in regard to our situation. This takes a strong measure of faith on our part, as we may have an opportunity to “right” a wrong, or provide a retaliatory measure of what we would consider justice.

By staying our hand and allowing God to work, we may endure injustice for the moment but in the process God can be glorified. When others see that we are willing to suffer an injustice at the hands of others and yet not retaliate, we provide a strong witness to our faith that God is in control and that only he is the true judge.

When we choose to forego those opportunities and instead trust God for ultimate judgment, we also demonstrate our like-minded discipleship and faithfulness to our Lord and Messiah and can rightfully assume our place in a long line of historical and spiritual ancestors before us.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Understanding God’s purpose can empower forgiveness

God is always working out larger purposes than we may be able to see.

Genesis 45:4-5, 7-8 – Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please, come near me,” and they came near. “I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, “the one you sold into Egypt. “And now don’t be grieved or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. … “God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. “Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

If anyone in the Bible had a good reason to hold a grudge, it was Joseph. Hated by his brothers, left in an underground cavern in the wilderness, consciously sold by them into slavery, he would have every right to not want to see them ever again, or to punish them if he ever got the opportunity.

Yet, as time would prove, all of this occurred for a much larger reason, a purpose beyond what any of them could see. What had started as a severe case of sibling rivalry ended up as one of the most momentous humanitarian events in the ancient nation of Egypt and the middle East.

Because of their hate for him, through a series of events Joseph ended up in the presence of Pharaoh and was used of God to interpret dreams that were given to him. God was warning Pharaoh that a long famine was coming, and by being prepared for it, Egypt would become an even stronger power in the known world. In saving Egypt, God was saving his own people, the family of Jacob, and providing the catalyst for a series of events that would ultimately create the nation of Israel.

When the brothers realized that the second in command in Egypt was their brother Joseph, they thought all of their rough treatment of him would now be countered with Joseph’s new position of authority over them. Due to the fact that their father Jacob, the authority of the family, had died, they schemed to prevent Joseph from treating them harshly.

Genesis 50:15-21 – When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said to one another, “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.” So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before he died your father gave a command: “‘Say this to Joseph: Please forgive your brothers’ transgression and their sin ​– ​the suffering they caused you.’ Therefore, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when their message came to him. His brothers also came to him, bowed down before him, and said, “We are your slaves! ” But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result ​– ​the survival of many people. “Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

However, we can see that Joseph had forgiven them when he told them not to be afraid, and that he would take care of them and their families. Joseph’s forgiveness was based on the fact that he related all of the events to the planning of God who was ultimately working out a larger purpose than their family dysfunctions.

Joseph replies with a question that applies to all of us who are unforgiving of others: “Am I in the place of God?” By asking this question, Joseph conveys his humility and deference to the justice of God. Joseph realized he was not put into a position of authority to selfishly punish his brothers, but to save many people. This type of humility in forgiveness allows God to be God and for us to move past the harms of the past.

When we don’t forgive others, we think we know better than God how somebody should be treated. This is what Joseph’s brothers were guilty of. However, when we forgive others, we allow God to be God. We can usually find strength to forgive when we can see that God always has a larger purpose in mind than any personal injustice we may have experienced. Keeping our focus on the purpose of God allows us the ability to forgive, and when forgiveness occurs, relationships can be restored and larger good things can happen.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Yeshua doesn’t ask more of his followers than he is willing to do

How repentance, forgiveness, and love are all necessary in God’s kingdom.

Luke 24:46-47 – [Yeshua] also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, “and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

The largest and most talked about aspect of the good news or the gospel of the kingdom is that sins against the God of Israel could be forgiven through repentance. Looking at the message of Messiah and his apostles, forgiveness is tied to repentance.

Luke 17:3-4 – “Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Acts 2:38 – 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.

When Paul was commissioned by the glorified Messiah, he was instructed about forgiveness that would be poured out on all who believed.

Acts 26:16-18 – “But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. “I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

So we can see that the good news of forgiveness was even being extended to the nations; however, Paul quickly adds how this forgiveness was to come about.

Acts 26:19-20 – “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. “Instead, I preached to those in Damascus first, and to those in Jerusalem and in all the region of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance.

Repentance is necessary because until an individual comes to a recognition of some fault, there is no understanding of a need for forgiveness.

The only biblical example I can find of forgiveness without repentance is in the example of Yeshua as he is being crucified, praying and interceding for his executioners.

Luke 23:34 – Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots.

Clearly, the Roman soldiers were unrepentant. How could they be since they had no idea what they were doing in the larger scheme of things and were simply following orders? Yet, Yeshua intercedes for them out of love, love for enemies, just as he taught.

Matthew 5:44-45 – “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.

When people come to us repenting of some way they have wronged us, we are to forgive them. When we are wronged by others, we simply need to love them and pray for them, recognizing their ignorance of the offense. Perhaps they may come to repentance and no longer provide offense, but until then, we should follow the example of Yeshua and simply love them.


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 on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Children of God should play nice in the sandbox

Our differences have the potential to
affect many others if we cannot reconcile.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 – See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.

When we are unforgiving toward others, it’s easy for us to repay evil for evil, to repay in kind toward an injustice that may have been directed toward us.

However, Paul here is encouraging the believers to look beyond the injustice to what is good, not only for one another (through a relationship crisis), but good for all concerned.

We tend to lose sight of the fact that all of our relationships have many different tendrils of association beyond just the isolated relationship itself. If an injustice is committed between two friends, the recognition of that injustice can become known to the other associates and friends of that relationship, and can affect many other individuals.

For example, if a romantic couple breaks up due to some differences, then the friends of the couple, who may now know each other independently of the couple who is breaking up, will be affected by the break up. They may choose to continue their relationships as friends, but will need to socially navigate around the issue with the now detached couple-friends.

This is the way issues spread throughout congregations, as well. When social stresses become active within certain relationship groups, it can spread throughout a congregation through shared connections. In the extreme, it can lead to congregations mistrust and sometimes even cause group to split into several groups if it cannot be reconciled.

But therein lies the key to its solution; reconciliation. Paul here is stressing that when these situations arise, that all parties concerned should seek the good of others for the sake of all. What affects one relationship can easily spread beyond the immediate affected group to the wider group through shared connections and relationships. Because of this, the web of unity can become brittle and break.

Paul’s solution is simple, although not always easy: don’t repay evil for evil. If someone has become offended or emotionally hurt in some way, they should not respond in kind, but should seek reconciliation through communicating the offense and working through it until a peaceful result can be achieved. This is a mature response to the casual injustices that occur every day and this should be the evident solution among all believers.

When we are always pursuing what is good for others and for all, we will be operating as peacemakers, and the strength of unity will be reinforced. In this, we can be recognized as acting as true children of God.

Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The formula for eradicating evil in the world

Loving others is both an inward motivation and an outward practicality.

Core of the Bible podcast #42 – The formula for eradicating evil in the world

Today we will be exploring the topic of forgiveness, and how forgiveness lies at the root of all reconciliation and overcoming dissension between individuals. We will see that through forgiveness and love, all evil can be overcome.

Yeshua stated it this way:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. … You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:38, 43-44

This teaching of Yeshua is one of the most widely known yet least practiced of all of his precepts. This is because it is non-intuitive and frankly, difficult. It involves two aspects, both an inward motivation and an outward practicality.

We know that the Bible teaches us our inward motivations spur our outward actions.

Luke 6:45 – “A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.

Since Yeshua teaches us that inward understanding and wisdom drives outward actions and behavior, let’s begin our review of this passage by looking at his admonition to what our inward motivation should be in loving others.

Matthew 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

For us to practice loving our enemies through our outward actions, we must first actually love them. Even writing or saying a statement like this runs counter to every basic instinct and inclination we have been exposed to in our culture. We have been brought up to be wary of others to avoid the risk of being taken advantage of. We gauge every interaction with an eye toward what angle is being played, or what harm we could possibly receive by misjudging someone else’s intent.

To this, Yeshua simply says to love them. Easy to say, not so easy to do. How do you love someone whom you know has harmed you in some way and is not deserving of your love? Forgive them, so your love can be real. What about someone who is trying to take advantage of you? Here’s one way: give them the advantage.

Is there a chance your forgiveness will be disregarded? Yes, but maintain that forgiveness anyway. Is there a chance you will be taken advantage of? Yes. But continue to give advantage anyway. These possibilities (and quite frankly, likely outcomes) do not change Yeshua’s direction to love others through forgiving them and giving them advantage.

Peter also struggled with this concept in a discussion with Yeshua about forgiveness of others:

Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter approached him and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? As many as seven times? ” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.

Yeshua then goes on to tell the parable of the unmerciful servant who would not forgive a small debt from someone else after he had just been forgiven of a huge personal debt from his own master. Yeshua said he would be punished for not passing on the forgiveness he received to others, and concludes with, “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his brother or sister from your heart,” (Matthew 18:35).

Love and forgiveness need to come from the heart. They are two qualities tied at the hip. If we are unable to forgive, we are unable to love. If we are unable to love, we are unable to forgive. If we are unable to forgive and love, then we are also unable to pray for them. Yet Yeshua instructs us to not only love our enemies but to pray for them.

He demonstrated this himself even as the Roman soldiers were in the process of nailing him to a cross and executing him as a criminal among other criminals of the State.

Luke 23:33-34 – When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided his clothes and cast lots.

Unfortunately, in our human quest for justice and fairness, we stumble over what we personally think is fair and right based on our limited perspective. Yeshua could only extend forgiveness to his enemies and pray for them because he never lost his perspective. What they did out of deliberate anger, he knew was done out of ignorance. They meant to wound him; he knew it was to heal them. They meant to humiliate him; he knew it was so they could be lifted up into God’s presence. They meant to kill him; he knew it was to save them.

Yeshua never lost the perspective that people are made in God’s image and that all are deserving of the benefit of the doubt when a situation may look otherwise. He could love them and pray for them because he knew who they really were, even if they didn’t.

If we could allow God to change our perspective to see that all others are made in God’s image and are merely souls who have possibly not yet met the God of the universe, we might have a different approach in our dealings with them. This type of perspective can provide us the inward motivation of love and forgiveness necessary to accomplish the outward actions which will likely seem just as contradictory when we do them.


Okay, so now that we have looked at our inward motivation of love and forgiveness, let’s go back to the beginning of this teaching of Yeshua to see how it should be worked out in our lives through our actions.

Matthew 5:38-42 – You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

In the life of the first-century Judeans, it was not unusual to be forced by the Roman military to carry supplies for them. In this example, Yeshua presents the measure of goodness he expected them to respond with needed to go above and beyond the unreasonable demand.

But something that has occurred to me in reviewing this passage recently is that this nature of giving is based on a multiplier. What Yeshua is implying through these examples is that our outward response should somehow be more than what an equal and reflexive response might be. We should be not only be non-resistant toward personal infractions, we should be doubly-giving in nature toward others.

For example, if someone is suing us for our shirt, we should double our goodness toward them by not only letting them have the shirt but the coat as well. If we were forced one mile of carrying supplies, then we should continue to do so by doubling the one mile into two.

This is a very practical, albeit difficult, principle that we can apply in situations that confront us every day. It involves us learning and training ourselves to respond in ways that honors God by doubling our goodness and generosity, not to merely respond in a reflexive way. By expending twice the effort in a positive manner than they demanded of us from a negative motivation, we would in essence be overcoming their evil intent with a double measure of good.

It’s simple math: a negative number plus a positive number of equal value only amounts to zero. It takes a positive number of higher value to end with a positive result.

Additionally, as we looked at previously, if we are inwardly motivated for their good by loving them and praying for them and their needs, we are removed from our reflexive, emotional response of like for like. We are now placing ourselves in a frame of mind, that godly perspective I mentioned earlier, which becomes concerned for their welfare. When we are in this mindset we can truly learn of their needs and then act doubly with genuine intention.

To show how this was an expected trait of the early believers and not just some lofty, speculative ideal, the apostle Paul instructs the Roman congregation with a similar admonition.

Romans 12:17-21 – 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.

Paul quotes this Torah teaching instructing on vengeance by highlighting that only God can effectively mete out justice because only he knows the end from the beginning; only he knows every possibility that could apply in a situation. Therefore he is the only perfect judge to mete out any type of vengeance. We are incapable of true vengeance because we have limited knowledge and understanding. We have emotions that get in the way of the wisdom and understanding we do have, therefore the best course of action for us is simply to love, and let God do the rest.

Paul continues quoting Torah to conclude his line of thinking:

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.

Our clear directive here is to overcome evil by doing good to others. Paul’s encouragement is that not only will we not be conquered, but we will ultimately successfully overcome evil by doing good.

Yeshua encourages us to double our godly response toward evil intent through love and forgiveness. Forgiveness is that necessary bridge to positive, loving responses. When we intentionally overlook a personal injustice by forgiving them, we are freed to be obedient to God’s command to double our loving actions. If we do not exercise forgiveness, we may attempt to be obedient, but our actions can become only hollow shadows with no real substance.

The motivation Yeshua provides us for practicing this kind of forgiveness and love is because when we do so, we are mimicking him, and we are mimicking our heavenly Father. If Yeshua loved and prayed for his enemies, so should we. If God blesses the wicked with life and rain and abundance, not because they are deserving, but because he wishes for their repentance, then we should also produce actions that bless those who may be adversarial to us.

Paul used this type of thinking in his outreach to the Greeks who did not know God, and he calls God’s blessing of them through rain and abundance his “testimony of goodness.” When interacting with crowds in Iconium and Athens, he speaks about the nature of the true God, and he relates how God blesses them.

Acts 14:17 – Yet He has not left Himself without testimony to His goodness: He gives you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.

Acts 17:26-27 – From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

God’s goal is that through his goodness to all in natural abundance should lead people to seek his spiritual goodness.

In the same way, our intentional actions based on forgiveness and love, then, become our personal “testimony of goodness.” As a result, God is honored, people can be reconciled to him, and all evil intentions can be overcome with love.

In summary then, the typical human response in relationships is to respond in kind to how we are treated by others (eye for eye and tooth for tooth). A nobler aspiration would be to treat all people with an equal measure of kindness. However, Yeshua calls us to the highest level of interaction: not just to be kind to all, but to expend twice the effort and concern over those who are least deserving of it. This is true love, and the formula for eradicating evil in the world.

If we are to represent God as his children, we should be doing what he does by blessing the undeserving as well as the deserving. If we claim to be followers of Yeshua, we should do what he does by loving and praying for our enemies. By doubling our loving response to all negative interactions, we boldly exhibit Yeshua’s teaching to a world who needs to know him, where they can then be brought back into a relationship with the loving God of the universe. This is how forgiveness and love can overcome all wickedness, and the only sure way that God’s kingdom will be manifested in this world.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The reconciliation of the new creation

The new eyes of the new creation provide new opportunities for forgiveness.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 – Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Messiah and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Messiah, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

The very heart of the gospel message has always been about reconciliation and forgiveness. In reconciliation an exchange takes place; exchanging hostility for mercy, exchanging disdain for favor. There is a restorative function in reconciliation: where once there was distance and separation there is now closeness and connection.

Reconciliation takes place when two parties have been separated, and reconciliation then brings them back together. For this to happen there has to be a release, a letting go of injury or transgression; there has to be forgiveness.

In Messiah, reconciliation for Israel with God was accomplished. He became the suffering servant of Isaiah’s prophecy that would be the ultimate representative sacrifice for the nation.

In Messiah, the scattered Israelites who had been absorbed among the nations due to God divorcing them for their rebellious idolatry (like those in Corinth) were reconciled back to him through faith.

In Messiah, any of us who have been separate and distinct from the God of Israel and his people are brought near through faith in him.

Galatians 3:26 – for through faith you are all sons of God in Messiah Yeshua.

All of this can only be accomplished when something unique takes place. Paul tells us what this is in this passage:

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 – From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Messiah from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!

Paul says that believers in Messiah can no longer view anyone from a worldly perspective, literally “according to the flesh.” What they are in the flesh is of no consequence when we are living according to the new creation.

Romans 10:11-12 – For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him.

Galatians 3:27-28 – For those of you who were baptized into Messiah have been clothed with Messiah. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

Colossians 3:10-11 – You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. In Messiah there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Messiah is all and in all.

This lack of distinction should be evident in the new creation of God’s kingdom people. In Messiah, all is reconciliation and unity. Just as God does with us, we can no longer look at the fleshly distinctions that separate us from each other. If we retain unforgiveness in our heart, it is due to the fact that we are continuing to look at those who have offended us through fleshly eyes, not the eyes of the new creation.

Because we ourselves are a new creation, we should no longer have a need to retain unforgiveness and separation in our hearts toward those from whom we have separated over some infraction or hurt. We can release it and let it go because we are no longer the same individuals we were before, and because we are no longer viewing them through fleshly eyes.

2 Corinthians 5:16 – From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective.

Even though we were sinful and rebellious toward God, he forgave us and reconciled us to himself. He did not look at us from a worldly perspective but from the perspective of the new creation, the kingdom perspective. As his children, we should do likewise with others.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Peace through a forgiving attitude

God’s people are expected to be peaceable.

Titus 3:1-2 – Remind them to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.

One of the beautiful things about Paul’s letter to Titus is how all-encompassing his instruction is that is still relevant for all believers. Many believers today will use this letter primarily for understanding the qualifications for leaders within the congregation of God, which is the bulk of the first chapter. However, as the little letter continues, we find instruction regarding all types of individuals who were coming to faith in then Messiah. While Paul’s primary reason for writing was to assist Titus in overseeing congregations in Crete, it gives us insights into the very practices and characteristics that were expected of God’s people in that day and age.

As we can see in the verses highlighted above, out of all of the positive aspects that was to be demonstrated by believers, God’s people were expected to be peaceable. Yeshua clearly illustrated this principle within his teaching.

Matthew 5:7, 9 – Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. … Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

In order to be peaceable, an individual must have a forgiving, merciful attitude. Peace can typically only be had when one party relinquishes the right to force their position or rights on another. According to Yeshua and Paul, this relinquishing responsibility, this forgiving attitude, falls to the believer. This is how peace is accomplished, when one is forgiving of another’s “incorrect” position, looking beyond that to the more significant aspect of saving the relationship.

This is the same principle in how God has provided salvation for all people:

Titus 3:4-5 – But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us –not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy…

God’s mercy is the only thing that has allowed mankind to come to him in spirit and in truth. God relinquished his right to be severe (even though he would be justified in doing so) so that he could demonstrate his sincerity in desiring restoration. God created peace by being willing to save the relationship with all of mankind through his mercy. This is what mercy is: the extension of a forgiving attitude. When we realize that God has been offering this to us, it incites a yearning for repentance, and to modify our rebellious stance towards him.

This is how peace is created: “to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.” This is the peace that brings salvation to the world.


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 at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.