The John 3:16, or thereabouts, game

As originally set down the Bible texts did not have chapter and verse divisions.  These were added later, around the twelfth century for the Chapters and the sixteenth century for the verses, for convenience of reference.

The drawback to this is that we get used to pulling out verses with no reference to their context, i.e. what went before and what came after.  The Baptist preacher and teacher David Pawson speaks of our bibles being ‘damaged’ by being divided up into chapters and verses.  He has a point.

I did notice recently some coincidences thrown up by the chapter and verse system.  My starting point is this famous verse in John’s Gospel;

John 3:16 – For, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.

When it comes to memorising verses this is a good one to memorise.

I began to notice that there a number of other 3:16(ish) verses in other books of the bible which also say very important things.  Could this be a useful way of memorising verses and opening up the bible?

For example:

Genesis 3:15 – I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offsping and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

In this verse God pronounces a curse on the serpent for deceiving Eve and also promises a  future saviour.  This is called the Protoevangelium or First Gospel.  This is also a good verse to memorise.

Exodus 3:14-15 – God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”  He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘ I AM has sent me to you.’  God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to you’; This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.”

God reveals His name to Moses.  This name is regarded as so Holy that it shouldn’t be said and Lord is substituted for it.  For a time us Catholics said the name as Yahweh, but we are now told to use Lord out of respect for the Jews.  Some bibles put Lord in capital letters so that we know that it is God’s revealed name that is referred to.  My Jerusalem Bible has Yahweh and I substitute Lord both when I read it and speak it, but I appreciate that I am being pointed to God’s revealed name.  For memorising I would stick to Exodus 3:14 – God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,”

Judges 3:15 – But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man.  The Israelites sent tribute by him to King Eglon of Moab.

The LORD raised up for them a deliverer.  This principle, of a deliverer, runs throughout the Old Testament and finds it’s ultimate fulfillment in Jesus.

Matthew 3:16-17 – And when Jesus had been baptised, just as He came up from the water, suddenly the heavens opened to Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is My Son, the Beloved, with Whom I am well pleased.”

John 3:16 – John (the Baptist) answered all of them saying, “I baptise you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to to untie the thong of his sandals.  He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – For no one can lay any other foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.  If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.

Methinks there is something of purgatory in these verses.

Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

1 Peter 3:15 – Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone that asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

2 Peter 3:15-18 – Think of our Lord’s patience as your opportunity to be saved: our brother Paul, who is so dear to us, told you this when he wrote to you with the wisdom that is his special gift.  He always writes like this when he deals with this sort of subject, and this makes some points in his letter hard to understand; these are the points that uneducated and unbalanced people distort, in the same way as they distort the rest of scripture – a fatal think for them to do.  You have been warned about this, my friends; be careful not to get carried away by the errors of unprincipled people, from the firm ground you are standing on.  Instead, go on growing in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To Him be glory, in time and eternity.  Amen.

 

 

So there you are, a number of verses on the theme of John 3:16 or thereabouts.  If a particular verse jumps out at you have a look at it and what came before and what comes afterwards.  The verse then becomes a springboard for personal bible study.

 

 

All our righteous deeds are as filthy rags before the Lord. (My own paraphrase on Isaiah 64:6)

Every so often I come across a verse in the bible which is deeply disturbing.  Isaiah 64:6 is one of those.

Let’s have a look at a number of English translations of this verse courtesy of Bible Hub.

New International Version
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

New Living Translation
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

English Standard Version
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

King James Bible
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And we are all become as one unclean, and all our justices as the rag of a menstruous woman: and we have all fallen as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Jerusalem Bible                                                                                                                                 We are all like men unclean, all that integrity of ours like filthy clothing.  We have all withered like leaves and our sin blew us away like the wind.

 

Now, when I go to confession and make an examination of conscience I am concentrating on the things I have done wrong, my sins; bad thoughts, bad words, bad actions.

According to this verse I should also say I am sorry for the good that I do and that runs contrary to everything I have been taught right back to when I was a child when I was encouraged to be “good”.

What exactly is the problem with being good and doing good?  After all we want to do this and be this rather than be bad.

So here’s my take on it, for what it’s worth, and I’ll stick to talking in the first person so as not to make any assumptions about the reader.

Because of the good I have done a number of things have happened;

People have patted me on the back and said what a fine fellow I was.

I may have patted myself on the back and thought I was a fine fellow as well.  That is to say that I have believed my own press.

I may have acquired a status in society, because of the good I have done, which I didn’t truly deserve.

All my good deeds are tainted with self.  (There is a solution to this which I will cover in a footnote at the end.)

For Scripture says;

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  1 John 1:8

A good illustration of this is found in Luke 18: 9-14;

He (Jesus) spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else, ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you God, that I am not grasping , unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.”  The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God be merciful to me, a sinner”.  This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.

Over the years every time this reading crops up we see the pompous, arrogant, self-righteousness of the Pharisee and identify with the humility of the tax collector.  But being the Pharisee, who believes his own press, is an easy trap to fall into.

So this Easter we might say to the Lord that we apologise for the good that we have done, the status we have gained, and the times when we were like the Pharisee and forgot about the tax collector.

I’m not necessarily saying we should incorporate this into our confession in the sacrament of reconciliation.  If we do the poor priest will never get out of the box and it is possible to beat ourselves up a little too much.  It’s just something to bear in mind and rejoice we have a great Saviour who;

Died for us while we were yet sinners.  (my paraphrase)

Romans 5:8 – what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.

Useful Website – Bible Hub

https://biblehub.com/

If you search a verse using this website you will get a number of different translations of that verse.  Then you can look at the original Hebrew or Greek for that verse and without being able to read either language you can access a lexicon (Strong’s) to get a fuller meaning in English.  It’s never been easier to do an in-depth bible study.

 

Footnote – The Resolution of the Problem of Self and Good Deeds

At the back of Church (Holy Souls) I found this booklet.

marianconsecration (2)

On pages 8 and 9 of this book there are two Marian prayers of Louis De Montfort which get over the problem of self and good deeds.

Prayer 1 – “I, (name), a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.”

Prayer 2 – “In the presence of all the heavenly court, I choose you this day for my Mother and Queen.  I deliver and consecrate to you, as your slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present, and future; leaving to you the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to your good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and eternity.”

There is also this note about De Montfort’s consecration to Our Blessed Lady;

“This devotion consists, then, in giving ourselves entirely to Our Lady, in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her.  We must give her (1) our body, with all its senses and its members; (2) our soul, with all its powers; (3) our exterior goods of fortune, whether present or to come; (4) our interior and spiritual goods, which are our merits and our virtues,  and our good works, past, present, and future.”

The problem of self is dealt with if the “good works” no longer belong to you.

I have to admit to often struggling with things Marian, probably because of many years of association with non-Catholic Christians, but I am arriving at a better understanding of what is meant here.  Although the prayers are essentially Marian, the purpose is to draw nearer to Christ.  When we come to the foot of the cross and see what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us, who do we find there? – Our Blessed Lady.

So, come to the cross this Easter;