Do you remember Sega’s “Welcome to the Next Level” advertising campaign from the early 90s? No? That’s fine. You don’t need to be familiar with it at all to know that the seventh chapter of Hebrews has got some next-level theology about Jesus Christ as a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Welcome to the next level.
This chapter begins by talking about high priests offering sacrifices. You’d think the author’s purpose would be to write up “high priests” alongside “angels” and “Moses” on the list of things Jesus is better than, but strangely, he emphasizes Jesus’ similarities to his priestly predecessors. What’s his reason there? I don’t know, but here on Chocolate Book, we’re all about admitting our ignorance and trying to figure stuff out, so here we go.
Today we return to our irregularly-scheduled trip through Titus, already in progress. Chapter 2 of Titus, much like 1 Timothy did with the offices of overseer and deacon, runs down the proper behaviors and character traits of the different sex and age groups in the church. He has instructions for older men, older women, younger men, and younger women. I noticed that the words “sensible” (2), “may encourage” (4), and “be sensible” (6, in this instance a single infinitive verb, literally “practice sensibleness”) all have the same Greek word as their root, σώφρων (sophron). I can’t help recalling Plato’s dialogue Meno, in which the titular Meno defines virtue as governance of the state for a man, governance of the household for a woman, and a different virtue for every category of human being, and Socrates takes him to task for not defining virtue but merely providing examples of different instances of it.
Before we tie a bow on the Timothies, I wanted to revisit one last pair of verses that we haven’t properly examined. I expect most of you will recognize the first of these verses, and you may even have memorized it if you were ever involved in scripture memory programs as a child. It’s one of Paul’s most-quoted lines: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). I memorized it in fourth or fifth grade as part of my church’s after-school program, R.A.D. (Radically Awesome Disciples). It was the 90s.
Paul loves his lists and litanies. And to begin today’s chapter in his second letter to Timothy, he goes off on the evil men that one can expect during the last days. He loves to enumerate, but Paul’s got no love for these guys as he blasts through their negative qualities with both barrels. What makes the evil dudes of the end times so evil? Let’s take a look.
Let’s get Greek. This photo is the opening page of Ephesians 1 from my Greek/English Interlinear New Testament. This is what Paul’s original writing would have looked like if someone had added accent markings to his Greek, put spaces in between the words, and written word-by-word English translations under every line. If you’re curious what Paul’s original letter looked like, check out this page for a photo of an original Greek manuscript fragment.
This is it, crew. Last chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church. While he closed out the last one with a few personal words mentioning several people by name, he finishes this one with more on the themes of power and weakness, and he advises the Corinthians to put themselves to the test. What does he mean by that? Let’s take a look.