Monday, June 05, 2023

Drink thy wine with a merry heart (John 2)

John chapter two opens with a marriage on "the third day". The third day of what, however? Contrary to what the SAB implies this is not the third day after Jesus's baptism, but the third day after John the Baptist points out Jesus to his disciples, describing what happened at his baptism.

Is it OK to drink alcohol? What the Bible says about alcohol The Bible says a lot of things about alcohol; most of it can be summed up with: alcohol is okay, but try not to get so drunk you do something to embarrass yourself. Let's talk about some of the things that need explanation. Yes, people who have taken the Nazarite vow are instructed to (among other things) abstain from wine, and in fact grapes as well. Samson was a Nazarite from birth, and for some reason, God commanded his mother not to have grapes or wine while she was pregnant; of course, we know it's not good to have alcohol when pregnant anyway. Many people have suggested that John the Baptist was a Nazarite; the description of him in the Gospels is consistent with this, including the similar announcement of his impending birth to Samson's. I don't think Isaiah 28 is saying priests and prophets can't drink, but once again, when you get drunk, you often make bad choices. I think the reason Daniel didn't drink wine was the same reason he didn't eat meat; he was worried about his food being kosher in a pagan land. I think what's going on in Lamentations 4:21 is actually what the footnote there says. In 1Timothy 5:23, Paul is giving a bit of personal advice to Timothy, which I don't think is meant to be a general commandment. Haggai 2:11-14 is a passage talking about holy things and unclean things in which it's suggested that holy thing (such as a piece of meat from an offering) doesn't transfer its holiness to things it touches, but unclean things (such as a dead body) do spread their uncleanness to things they touch. The point of the passage is the general uncleanness of the nation of Israel, and is not really making any point about alcohol. I'm not sure what point the SAB is making about different "drink offerings" in the book of Numbers; it seems that different offerings often include some amount of wine, and it depends on the offering. It's interesting that the Israelites were commanded to not drink wine when they went to the Tabernacle/Temple, but many offerings there included wine; I think this indicates that wine is a good thing in general, but when you're in worship, you should be sober.

I think that covers drinking, but perhaps I should say a word about the phrase "drunk with blood", since Steve Wells is fascinated by it. This is a fairly common phrase (although there are certainly more common ones), but it should be noted that it's certainly not meant to be literal. Throughout the Bible, and in both Jewish and Christian cultures, there are a lot of instances of wine being used as a symbol for blood. With this symbolism, it apparently works both ways, as this phrase demonstrates. Yeah, it's violent imagery, and the parts of the Bible where it appears are violent, or at least describing violence, but since (as Wells notes in his blog) it's not literal, it doesn't really belong in this discussion.

How should parents be treated? I think generally, parents should be treated with respect, but there are certainly exceptions. I don't know that all of the verses in the bottom part of this page are meant to be disrespectful, I certainly don't think it's the case for the verse here in John; after all, Jesus did take care of the wine issue that his mother brought to his attention. Matthew 23:9 is an interesting one, and I've met Christians who actually do take this literally and don't call their father "father". I don't think that's what Jesus meant, though; I think he meant that you shouldn't use the term for anyone other than God and your actual literal father. Luke 9:59-60 is often misunderstood; this man's father is not dead, he's implying that his father won't approve of him following Jesus, so he wants to wait until his father dies. Luke 14:26 is hyperbole; Jesus says in that list of things to "hate" that one should hate "his own life also" which nobody actually does. Jesus is saying you should love God so much that in comparison, your other loves should seem like hate. The Luke 2 passage is not disrespectful; Jesus's earthly parents knew that his actual father was God, and since he was about to come of age, it made sense he would be at the Temple being "about my Father's business." I would say the last passage listed on that page is the only one that's arguably disrespectful, but really Jesus is making a point that to him, all the people that follow him are his family.

When did Jesus's temple tantrum occur? It's possible that John got mixed up, since he wrote his Gospel about 60 years after the events, and it's possible as I mentioned before that John isn't being chronological in his storytelling, although that's doubtful here. The explanation I personally believe is one I've heard suggested by a few people: Jesus actually had two "Temple tantrums", one at the beginning of his ministry and another at the end. As for the supposed discrepancy between Luke's telling and Matthew and Mark's, I don't think there is any reason to assume that, just because Luke fails to specify the length of time between the triumphal entry and the clearing of the Temple, one must have immediately followed the other.

Who raised Jesus from the dead? There is no contradiction here. Trinitarianism: God raised Jesus from the dead, Jesus is God, the Holy Ghost is God. It's all the same here.

Did Jesus say, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up"? As the question is worded, the answer is "yes"; no problem. Note that on the supposed contradiction page, the false witnesses are misquoting Jesus, saying that he said he personally would destroy the Temple, which is not what he said at all. The SAB also notes on this passage a problem with Jehovah's Witness theology, which claims that the risen Jesus was a spirit and not a physical body. I agree, and would say there are plenty of other scriptures that make this claim problematic; I bet the SAB has caught all of them.

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