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Little Alfie Evans, born on May 9, 2016, died in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, April 28, 2018.

He spent much of his short life in a ‘semi-vegetative’ state:

and has a degenerative neurological condition doctors had not definitively diagnosed.

Specialists say his brain has been “eroded”.

Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, had been in courts in the UK and Europe in an effort to save their son.

On Monday, April 16, the couple’s lawyer asked British Court of Appeals judges to allow the child to travel to Italy for life-saving treatment, but three judges — Lord Justice Davis, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan — ruled against the appeal.

Earlier this year, in February (emphases mine):

Mr Justice Hayden ruled that doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool could stop treating Alfie against the wishes of his parents following hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London and Liverpool.

Specialists at Alder Hey said life-support treatment should stop and Mr Justice Hayden said he accepted medical evidence which showed that further treatment was futile.

Alfie’s parents want to move their son from Alder Hey to a hospital in Rome.

The couple said Italian doctors are willing to treat the little boy and an air ambulance is available.

But Mr Justice Hayden said flying Alfie to a foreign hospital would be wrong and pointless.

Court of Appeal judges upheld his decisions.

Supreme Court justices and European Court of Human Rights judges refused to intervene.

They are now arguing that Alfie is being wrongly “detained” at Alder Hey and have made a habeas corpus application.

A writ of habeas corpus – Latin for “you may have the body” – is a legal manoeuvre which requires a court to examine the legality of a detention …

Mr Justice Hayden dismissed that habeas corpus claim last week.

Appeal judges upheld Mr Justice Hayden’s decision but said doctors should keep treating Alfie pending a Supreme Court decision.

By April 24, Alfie, at Alder Hey and off life support, was still alive:

Doctors have been left “gobsmacked” after Alfie Evans’ life-support was withdrawn but he continued to live, his father has said.

Tom Evans said it was obvious that the youngster was breathing unassisted “within a few minutes” of life-support being withdrawn on Monday night …

Speaking outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool on Tuesday morning, his father said Alfie’s life-support should be reinstated due to his remarkable progress.

“He is still working, he’s doing as good as he can,” he told reporters …

“Because he’s been doing it for nine hours totally unexpected, the doctors are gobsmacked and I do believe he will need some form of life-support in the next couple of hours and I think he ought to be respected and given that.”

Alfie’s parents want treatment to continue and want to fly him to a hospital in Rome.

The Italian government had already taken care of foreseeable issues:

His case has been highlighted by the Pope, who expressed support for the couple, and he has been granted Italian citizenship.

Amazing.

Alfie’s father had to persuade Alder Hey doctors to give the little mite oxygen and water. Why wouldn’t they have done that of their own accord?

Mr Evans said that he had a “lengthy talk” with doctors and pleaded with them to give his son oxygen.

“They left him for six hours without food, water and oxygen,” he said.

“I felt blessed when they confirmed they were going to give him his water and his oxygen.

“He’s now on oxygen. It’s not changing his breathing but it’s oxygenating his body.”

Also on April 24, LifeNews.com reported that the air ambulance was actually at the hospital ready to transport little Alfie to Rome:

An air ambulance has arrived outside the hospital where little Alfie Evans is located. Alfie has breathed on his own and has survived for over 18 hours after the Children’s Hospital yanked his life support.

Alfie has defied doctors’ expectations to this point and his parents are headed back to court to fight for his life further. They are hoping to be able to get life support restored and also want to be able to take him to Italy, which granted him citizenship yesterday

As one British media outlet reports, “Paul Diamond, who will represent the parents this afternoon, is expected to argue that it cannot be in Alfie’s best interests to be left at Alder Hey Hospital and that he should instead be flown overseas – with an air ambulance already ready and waiting.”

He will argue that Alfie should be allowed to travel to Italy where doctors are ready to care for him,” according to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC). The organization said the aircraft was on hand to transport the little boy to a hospital in the country. “The court and the hospital should welcome the intervention of the Italian government and let Alfie travel to Italy.”

A representative of the Italian Embassy would attend the hearing.

The pope tweeted:

It didn’t matter. Later that day, LifeNews.com posted an update:

The judge in the case just prohibited Alfie’s family from taking him to Italy for care and treatment and potential experimental treatment for his rare degenerative neurological disorder.

The article went on to say that many people were critical of the courts’ callous decisions, including physicians and healthcare experts:

Today, a British doctors group, The Medical Ethics Alliance, expressed its horror over the treatment of Alfie Evans that it called a “medical tyranny.”

And Italy’s Healthcare Chief has slammed the decisions by UK courts to treat Alfie the way that they have. The President of the Italian National Institute of Health lambasted the UK High Court’s decision yesterday on Alfie Evans’ that resulted it the children’s hospital being allowed to remove life support over Alfie’s parents’ objections.

On Wednesday, April 25, news emerged (BT.com) that, despite everything being in place — including a German air ambulance — Mr Justice Hayden, ruling from Manchester, would not allow Alfie to travel to Italy; Alfie could only return to his home from Alder Hey. Yet, hope continued as the case would be heard again that afternoon:

A spokeswoman for the Christian Legal Centre, representing Alfie’s parents, said the case is due to be heard at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday a judge ruled the boy may be allowed home from Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, but will not be allowed to go to Rome for further treatment.

The 23-month-old confounded doctors’ expectations when he continued to live after life-support was withdrawn on Monday night, his father, Tom Evans, said.

“The court of appeal have reached out to us and said they are going to set back three judges to hear the case,” Mr Evans told reporters outside hospital on Tuesday night.

In reality, he could be in Italy right now. We all know the military air force are ready to take him and a team of doctors are there.

We’ve also got a German air ambulance team, who attempted to take him in the first place, ready… the reality is these people are eager to get him out of the country and I’m not giving up because Alfie’s breathing away, he’s not suffering.”

This is where the story gets stranger:

At an earlier High Court hearing in Manchester, Mr Justice Hayden described Alfie as “courageous” and a “warrior”, but said the case had now reached its “final chapter”.

He rejected claims by Mr Evans that his son was “significantly better” than first thought because he had been breathing unaided for 20 hours after doctors first withdrew life support.

Instead, the judge said the best Alfie’s parents could hope for was to “explore” the options of removing him from intensive care either to a ward, a hospice or his home.

But a doctor treating Alfie, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that for Alfie to be allowed home would require a “sea change” in attitude from the child’s family, and they feared that in the “worst case” they would try to take the boy abroad.

Mr Justice Hayden ruled out the family’s wishes to take the child to the Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome, following interventions from the Pope and the Italian authorities.

Meanwhile, the child’s story attracted the attention of the Polish president:

Merseyside Police announced they were monitoring social media, which attracted critical responses:

However, Wednesday’s hearing produced no positive news and was the final legal challenge. BT.com reported:

The parents of Alfie Evans have failed in an 11th-hour attempt to persuade judges to let them move the terminally-ill youngster to a foreign hospital …

A High Court judge ruled against them on Tuesday and three Court of Appeal judges dismissed a challenge to that decision on Wednesday.

Lawyers representing Alder Hey bosses said Alfie’s condition was irreversible and there was no evidence that it had changed.

They said the fact that he had continued to breathe unaided might have surprised members of the public but had not surprised specialists.

Barrister Michael Mylonas QC, who led Alder Hey’s legal team, said it had never been suggested that Alfie would die as soon as life-support treatment stopped.

He said the couple’s challenge should be dismissed.

Barrister Sophia Roper, who represents Alfie and takes instructions from a court-appointed guardian, agreed.

Lord Justice McFarlane, who headed the appeal court panel of judges, said Alfie’s parents were trying to take “one last chance”.

But he said there was no prospect of the couple’s challenge succeeding.

He said Alfie was in “the middle” of a palliative care plan.

The two other appeal judges, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Coulson, agreed.

Lady Justice King said there was “acceptance” that Alfie was dying.

It is unclear to the average person why a baby with his parents around him would need a court-appointed guardian.

A greater question remains: why would a court forbid loving parents to take their child out of the country for medical treatment when a) transport is at the hospital and b) doctors are on standby at the final destination? It is very strange.

On the morning of Thursday, April 26, BT.com reported that, despite the court’s decision the previous day, Alfie’s father was not giving up on his son’s life:

The parents of Alfie Evans are expected to meet doctors to discuss taking their terminally ill son home.

Speaking outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool on Thursday, his father Tom Evans, 21, said he hoped to have a “positive” meeting with medical staff

Mr Evans told reporters: “He’s been off a ventilator for three days now, there’s been no deterioration.

“He hasn’t woke up, he’s still a little bit weak, but what we ask for is to go home to sustain his life.”

He said the family still had “appeals to explore”.

Mr Evans added: “All I ask for now is for this meeting to be a positive one, and I hope to have Alfie, on the terms of mine and Alder Hey, to be home within a day or two.

If the meeting doesn’t go well today, well then, I’ll go back to court.”

He accused doctors at the hospital of being “wrong” about their diagnosis: “Alfie lives, comfortably, happily, without ventilation, without any form of ventilation.

That must be enough for you now to consider that Alfie may prove you wrong.”

Alfie and his parents attracted much local support:

The hospital was unhappy:

Police remained outside the hospital on Thursday, after Alder Hey said its staff had experienced “unprecedented personal abuse”.

In an open letter, the hospital chairman Sir David Henshaw and chief executive Louise Shepherd: “Having to carry on our usual day-to-day work in a hospital that has required a significant police presence just to keep our patients, staff and visitors safe is completely unacceptable.”

What else was the public to think other than that human rights were at stake, seeing court-controlled families?

Furthermore, why wouldn’t a physician would agree to let a baby and his parents travel to another country if they could get life-saving treatment?

Of course people are going to be upset. After all of this stonewalling, emotions were running high.

Public doubt and bemusement about Alfie’s situation only increased on the morning of Friday, April 27, when an NHS physician appeared on ITV’s This Morning. CNSnews.com has the story (emphases in the original):

Forcing 23 month-old Alfie Evans to die by starvation “is not killing,” Dr. Ranj Singh argued on U.K.’s “This Morning” ITV program Friday, Express reports.

Withdrawing life-support and refusing to allow Alfie’s parents to take him home, feed and care for him, is, instead merely “redirecting care,” Dr. Singh said:

This is not the killing of a child – this is redirecting care to make them more comfortable.”

… Dr. Singh doubled down on his claim, framing the withdrawal of life support as a way to make patients more comfortable and give them “the most dignifying life”:

“Withdrawing life support is not killing someone. It is redirecting care to make them more comfortable and give them the most dignifying life that you can.”

Dr. Singh also said pro-life Alfie supporters outside the Alder Hey Hospital protesting to save Alfie’s life are behaving “disgustingly”:

“There’s a small proportion who have – I will say it – behaved disgustingly.”

Perhaps, but it is hard to have empathy for a medical institution who will not allow a patient to seek treatment elsewhere.

That day, LifeNews.com reported that the Evans family had asked for protests to ease so that Alfie’s parents could work with the hospital for his release (emphases mine):

As LifeNews reported, Alfie Evans’ father Tom Evans called for supporters of Alfie and his family to “stand down” so they can begin “building a bridge” with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and its staff.  The statement from Alfie’s father was surprising given the animosity that had developed between the Evans family and the hospital

But perhaps seeing that there is little opportunity left to fight for Alfie’s rights and their right to take him abroad or take him home or sensing a need to appease the hospital to bring him home, Tom Evans is now striking a conciliatory tone.

Now, Alfie’s uncle Daniel Evans has posted on Facebook that he believes things are progressing to a point where Alfie could go home soon.

Evans also hinted that protests could continue if Alder Hey officials don’t send Alfie home. Daniel Evans said Alfie’s dad Tom didn’t want to approach the press or have any further protests, but added that this would be “until something changes with the hospital.”

He wrote: “I have seen that people are believing this is the end of Alfie’s army? Tom has released a statement that states he will not approach media or want any protests. This will be until something changes with the hospital but we hope and pray it doesn’t.”

He continued: “They aim to get him where they have always desperately wanted him HOME. And with today’s positive meeting this could be a goal complete for Tom and Kate. I will continue to update when necessary.”

On Saturday, April 28, Alfie breathed his last. BT.com reported:

The parents of Alfie Evans have said they are “heartbroken” after their son died on Saturday morning.

The 23-month-old – who was being treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool – died at 2.30am, Kate James and Thomas Evans said on Facebook.

The post said: “Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am. We are heart broken. Thankyou everyone for all your support.”

Alder Hey offered their condolences — posted on their website. Think of the staff:

In a statement issued on its website, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital said: “We wish to express our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Alfie’s family at this extremely distressing time.

“All of us feel deeply for Alfie, Kate, Tom and his whole family and our thoughts are with them.

“This has been a devastating journey for them and we would ask that their privacy and the privacy of staff at Alder Hey is respected.”

Later that day in Liverpool:

The family of Alfie Evans said they have been left “shattered” by his death, as more than 1,000 supporters gathered to release balloons in his memory.

The terminally ill 23-month-old, who was being treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, died at 2.30am on Saturday, his parents Kate James and Thomas Evans said.

Hundreds gathered in Springfield Park, next to the hospital, to release blue and purple balloons in his memory at 2.51pm – exactly 12 hours after he was officially pronounced dead.

Mr Evans and Ms James, both in their early 20s, did not attend the event but Mr Evans’s sister Sarah told the crowd: “I just want to thank you all for coming today

In an editorial for Fox News, Newt Gingrich reminded his readers that life comes from God. He also mentioned another relatively recent British case involving the late, little Charlie Gard. Please read it all. An excerpt follows:

The secular system has asserted its right to define what lives are worth living and is determined to prevent its authority from being questioned. Alfie Evans’ life – like Charlie Gard’s before him – has been determined to be limited by the standards of the secular state, and therefore without value.

These tragic government-imposed death sentences for innocent infants should frighten all of us about increasing secularism in society and the steady shift towards a totalitarian willingness to control our lives – down to and including ending them – on the government’s terms.

This is a direct assault on the core premise of the Declaration of Independence. We Americans asserted that we “are endowed by (our) Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In the American Revolution, in our fight against the British crown, we asserted that rights come from God – not from government.

However, our secular, liberal culture increasingly dismisses the concept of God and asserts that our rights come from a rational contract enforced by government.

In the original American model, we asserted our God-given rights against the power of a potentially tyrannical government. In the emerging left-wing secular order, since there is no God our rights depend on a secular state controlling itself.

Britain is giving us a vivid, tragic sense of how dangerous and heartless government tyranny can be once God is rejected and there is nothing between us and the government.

Ironically, this latest decision was made the same year Stephen Hawking died – 55 years after he was diagnosed with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and told he had only two years to live.

Apparently, the British government learned no lessons from Hawking’s remarkable lifetime of work and achievement, which he pursued despite having to battle an extraordinarily challenging illness

When you read about these two babies being denied life support by a supposedly free government, remember what John Donne warned when he wrote “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

In these two years, we have seen two babies effectively sentenced to death by a government we would once have considered humane. What will the next horror be?

Breitbart has an excellent article not only on Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard but also on other children — mostly in the UK — who ran up against the system. These cases have attracted international attention:

The ill toddler [Alfie] joins a list of other children removed from life support against their parents’ wishes, whose stories have touched the hearts of people around the world and whose fight for their short lives found the support from high-profiled figures such as Pope Francis, Polish President Andrzej Duda, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, and U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

Charlie Gard was treated at London’s Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, known for its clinical excellence. However, they were not only unable to treat the baby’s mitochondrial condition, they also refused — with the aid of the courts — to release him to receive treatment outside of the UK:

The courts ordered the hospital take the child off life support, despite the Gards fundraising over one million pounds for Charlie’s transportation and private hospital care, and numerous figures pledging their help and support including Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump. Baby Charlie died on July 28th, 2017.

During one of the Gards’ many court cases, the family spokesman addressed media to say that Charlie had “effectively being taken prisoner by the NHS and by the State”, asking“Whose child is he? Is he the state’s child? Is he the NHS’s child? Or does this child belong to the parents?”

Earlier this year, on March 7, one-year-old Isaiah Haastrup died at King’s College Hospital in London. Isaiah’s mother had a difficult delivery at the hospital, also known for its clinical excellence:

Within a month of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejecting the Evanses plea to overturn Alder Hey’s decision for the first time, on March 6th, Lanre Haastrup and Takesha Thomas lost their battle at the Strasbourg court to stop King’s College Hospital doctors from removing life support from their son Isaiah.

Isaiah suffered brain damage during his mother’s complicated labourwhich King’s College Hospital admitted it was partly responsible for, due to “specific issues in monitoring” during his birth.

At one point, the hospital was denying Mr. Haastrup visitation of his son when he was near death, administrators claiming the father had ‘verbally abused’ hospital staff in an argument over the withdrawal of baby Isaiah’s life support.

Another British life-support issue occurred with three-year-old Dylan Askin, who was suffering from a rare form of lung cancer:

In 2016, doctors told Kerry Askin that her three-year-old son Dylan would not survive his rare form of lung cancer, influencing the mother to decide to turn off his life support.

Mrs. Askin had her unresponsive son baptised on Good Friday and the family agreed to have him removed from life support.

However, instead of dying, Dylan improved. He’s alive — and well — today:

After life support began to be removed, Mrs. Askin related that “once the muscle relaxant was turned off… we discovered he needed more sedation. Upon doing that he slowly improved!”

By Easter Sunday he was stabilised and discharged just two weeks later from hospital. Two years later, Dylan had beaten his illness.

Then there was the case of Ashya King in 2014, which was really awful:

Though not an end-of-life dispute, 2014 saw an analogous high profile battle over treatment options for five-year-old Ashya King that resulted in a so-called abduction, an international manhunt, and his parents’ arrest.

British doctors in Southampton had diagnosed young Ashya with an aggressive brain tumour. They operated on his brain and told his parents he would need chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Ashya’s parents, Brett and Naghemeh King, thought that would be too much for the youngster. They wanted to take him to to the Czech Republic for proton therapy instead. This is where the drama started:

Doctors stood by their plan of treatment, so shortly after, Aysha’s parents took him from Southampton General Hospital and boarded a ferry to France. The parents were arrested later in Malaga, Spain.

After extradition was denied, a High Court ruling agreed that Aysha could be taken to the Czech Republic for proton therapy.

The proton therapy was highly successful:

Three years later, Ashya was cleared of cancer and according to his father is playing and speaking again.

The Breitbart article also looked at an American case, that of two-year-old Israel Stinson whose life support system was turned off in 2016:

after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed a restraining order barring the hospital from doing so until September 8th.

Incredibly, had consulted Guatemalan doctors prior to going to California. The Guatemalan physicians allegedly said that:

his condition was improving and that he was not brain dead.

American political commentator Lew Rockwell posted an article originally on American Thinker. Columnist Joe Herring wrote about his grandson who has the same condition as Alfie Evans. Unlike Alfie, now with the angels, Herring’s grandson recently turned 17.

Excerpts follow:

I see Joseph’s innocence in Alfie’s eyes, and I struggle with the marked physical resemblance between Alfie and Joseph at that age. I also vividly recall the doctors counseling my daughter to abort her pregnancy, to save her child from suffering.

He will likely live 18 months, certainly no more than three years,” they told us solemnly. Joseph celebrated his 17th birthday in February of this year

In Britain’s socialized medical system, second opinions are typically given by other NHS physicians, chosen not by the parents or the patient, but by the attending physician who gave the first opinion.  Unsurprisingly, second opinions in the NHS rarely overturn the first.  In this case, however, Alfie’s parents were able to force the hospital to release records for outside review.

Unsurprisingly, Alder Hey’s prognosis has not been confirmed by outside medical professionals.  Indeed, numerous outside experts vehemently disagree with Alder Hey’s conclusions.

The disturbing truth is, the physicians of Alder Hey haven’t even attempted to determine the cause of Alfie’s distress, having decided within months of his birth that his life was not worth living.

In closing, a Telegraph reader made an excellent point (25 Apr 2018 11:42PM) on the misplaced hubris of the NHS and the erroneous death decisions the health service makes:

As one has argued…

“With Italian doctors willing to treat Alfie and a plane standing by to take him to Italy, with his parents desperate to take them up on that invitation, the only conceivable reason the UK would refuse to let him go is because they’re terrified that he really might be successfully treated. If they’re wrong on a question of life and death that’s now being scrutinized internationally, no one would ever trust an NHS end-of-life assessment again.”

Discuss.

Who can say fairer than that?

This must stop now.

In the meantime, my prayers and thoughts go to Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James. I thought about them all weekend. May the Lord comfort them in the months and years ahead.

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Bible penngrovechurchofchristorgThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy have omitted — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 17:32-34

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

—————————————————————————————————————————

Yesterday’s post discussed Paul’s address about Christ and the Resurrection at the Areopagus — Mars Hill — in Athens. That passage is in the Lectionary but provides the context for today’s verses.

The philosophers and learned people listening to Paul could not wrap their heads around the resurrection of the dead (verse 32). Some made fun of Paul and his message. Others told him that they would listen to him discuss it again. Some in this group were procrastinators and not that interested, while others probably were sincere in wishing to hear more but wanted to think about what he had said first.

So, Paul left the Areopagus (verse 33). Matthew Henry’s commentary states that for those who did want to learn more:

it is likely, with a promise to those that were willing to hear him again that he would meet them whenever they pleased.

However, Paul did make some converts that day who joined him and believed (verse 34). Older translations use the verb ‘cleaved’ or ‘clave’. John MacArthur explains the Greek verb (emphases mine):

I love this, verse 34, “Nevertheless certain men joined him.” There’s a Greek word kollao and it means glue. The word join here is kollao, it’s the verb. They just glued themselves to Paul. They were curious, they wanted to know more. They followed Paul out of there and then it says, “The ones who were the curious ones believed.”

Luke, the author of Acts, thought it fitting to mention two of the converts.

The first, Dionysius the Areopagite, was a most learned man. Henry gives us a summary of what the ancients, including Eusebius, wrote about him:

Dionysius the Areopagite, one of that high court or great council that sat in Areopagus, or Mars’ Hill–a judge, a senator, one of those before whom Paul was summoned to appear; his judge becomes his convert. The account which the ancients give of this Dionysius is that he was bred at Athens, had studied astrology in Egypt, where he took notice of the miraculous eclipse at our Saviour’s passion,–that, returning to Athens, he became a senator, disputed with Paul, and was by him converted from his error and idolatry; and, being by him thoroughly instructed, was made the first bishop of Athens. So Eusebius, lib. 5, cap. 4; lib. 4, cap. 22.

Dionysius the Areopagite lived and died in the 1st century AD. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

That is important, because Dionysius — present day Den(n)is — was a common name for centuries. As such, it led to confusion through the ages, particularly during the first Millennium.

Wikipedia tells us:

In the early 6th century, a series of writings of a mystical nature, employing Neoplatonic language to elucidate Christian theological and mystical ideas, was ascribed to the Areopagite.[2] They have long been recognized as pseudepigrapha, and their author is now called “Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.

Dionysius has been misidentified with the martyr of Gaul, Dionysius, the first Bishop of Paris, Saint Denis. However, this mistake by a ninth century writer is ignored and each saint is commemorated on his respective day.[3]

The Talk page for that entry explains that the men handing down the Areopagite’s teachings through the ages were also called Dionysius. The last entry says:

Instruction about the Gods was first systematised by Dionysius the Areopagite, the pupil of the apostle Paul. It was however not written down until the 6th century. This is why scholars deny the existence of Dionysius the Areopagite and speak about the writings of the Pseudo-Dionysius, as though it was in the 6th century that old traditions were first put together. The truth of the matter can only be substantiated by reading in the Akashic Chronicle. The Akashic Chronicle does however teach that Dionysius actually lived in Athens, that he was initiated by Paul and was commissioned by him to lay the foundation of the teaching about the higher spiritual beings and to impart this knowledge to special initiates. At that time certain lofty teachings were never written down but only communicated as tradition by word of mouth. The teaching about the [g]ods was also given in this way by Dionysius to his pupils, who then passed it on further. These pupils in direct succession were intentionally called Dionysius, so that the last of these, who wrote down this teaching was one of those who was given this name.

Denis, the Bishop of Paris, lived during the 3rd century AD. He was born in what is now Italy. His Wikipedia entry also discusses the confusion with Dionysius the Areopagite. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

This is the first mix-up between the two:

Saint Denis was a legendary 3rd-century Christian martyr and saint. According to his hagiographies, he was bishop of Paris in the third century and, together with his companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, was martyred for his faith by decapitation. Some accounts placed this during Domitian‘s persecution and identified St Denis of Paris with the Areopagite who was converted by St Paul and who served as the first bishop of Athens. Assuming Denis’s historicity, it is now considered more likely that he suffered under the persecution of the emperor Decius shortly after AD 250. Denis is the most famous cephalophore in Christian legend, with a popular story claiming that the decapitated bishop picked up his head and walked several miles while preaching a sermon on repentance. He is venerated in the Catholic Church as the patron saint of France and Paris and is accounted one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. A chapel was raised at the site of his burial by a local Christian woman; it was later expanded into an abbey and basilica, around which grew up the French city of Saint-Denis, now a suburb of Paris.

This is the second, which will make your head spin. Interestingly, even Pierre Abelard got involved in the controversy and brought a fourth Dionysius into the mix:

Since at least the ninth century, the legends of Dionysius the Areopagite and Denis of Paris have often been confused. Around 814, Louis the Pious brought certain writings attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite to France, and since then it became common among the French legendary writers to argue that Denis of Paris was the same Dionysius who was a famous convert and disciple of Saint Paul.[8] The confusion of the personalities of Saint Denis, Dionysius the Areopagite, and pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, the author of the writings ascribed to Dionysius brought to France by Louis, was initiated through an Areopagitica written in 836 by Hilduin, Abbot of Saint-Denis, at the request of Louis the Pious. “Hilduin was anxious to promote the dignity of his church, and it is to him that the quite unfounded identification of the patron saint with Dionysius the Areopagite and his consequent connexion with the apostolic age are due.”[14] Hilduin’s attribution had been supported for centuries by the monastic community at Abbey of Saint-Denis and one of origins of their pride. In Historia calamitatum, Pierre Abelard gives a short account of the strength of this belief and the monastery’s harsh opposition to challenges to their claim. Abelard jokingly pointed out a possibility that the founder of the Abbey could have been another Dionysius, who is mentioned as Dionysius of Corinth by Eusebius. This irritated the community so much that eventually Abelard left in bitterness. As late as the sixteenth century, scholars might still argue for an Eastern origin of the Basilica of Saint-Denis: one was Godefroi Tillman, in a long preface to a paraphrase of the Letters of the Areopagite, printed in Paris in 1538 by Charlotte Guillard.[15] Most historiographers agree that this conflated legend is completely erroneous.[5]

Orthodox Wiki has this about Dionysius the Areopagite. Note the similarities between his story and that of Denis of Paris, including their deaths and a woman finding the head/burying the body. Also note the mention of Gaul:

Prior to his baptism, Dionysius grew up in a notable family in Athens, attended philosophical school at home and abroad, was married and had several children, and was a member of the highest court in Greece, the Areopagus. After his conversion to the True Faith, St. Paul made him Bishop of Athens. Eventually he left his wife and children for Christ and went with St. Paul in missionary travel. He travelled to Jerusalem specifically to see the Most Holy Theotokos [Mary] and writes of his encounter in one of his books. He was also present at her Dormition.

Seeing St. Paul martyred in Rome, St. Dionysius desired to be a martyr as well. He went to Gaul, along with his presbyter Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius, to preach the Gospel to the barbarians. There his suffering was equalled only by his success in converting many pagans to Christianity.

In the year 96, St. Dionysius was seized and tortured for Christ, along with Rusticus and Eleutherius, and all three were beheaded under the reign of the Emperor Domitian. St. Dionysius’ head rolled a rather long way until it came to the feet of Catula, a Christian. She honorably buried it along with his body.

The Orthodox Wiki entry also talks about Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite with no distinction made between him and the original. Someone on the Talk page wisely suggested:

It might be easiest just to create a new page for the Dionysian Corpus, or for Pseudo-Dionysius.

Pseudo-Dionysius is not a saint.

Dionysius the Areopagite is a saint in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He is the patron saint of lawyers, and his feast day is October 3 or October 9.

Denis’s feast day is also October 9. However, he is not connected with lawyers but rather:

France; Paris; against frenzy, strife, headaches, hydrophobia, San Dionisio (Parañaque City), possessed people.

Returning to today’s passage, the second convert Luke thought it important to mention was Damaris.

I researched her, too. Only John MacArthur says she was a woman of common birth:

a woman by the name of Damaris who was given no title or credentials indicating a common woman. Here we see the beauty of the gospel it reaches the highest level of Athens and the lowest level, the common woman in town. Isn’t that beautiful that two people at those ends of the post got saved on the same sermon? That’s the power of the gospel to bridge the gaps.

Matthew Henry says:

The woman named Damaris was, as some think, the wife of Dionysius; but, rather, some other person of quality

Wikipedia puts forward all the theories about her identity:

As usually women were not present in Areopagus meetings, Damaris has traditionally been assumed to have been a hetaera (courtesan, high-status prostitute);[1] modern commentators have alternatively suggested she might also have been a follower of the Stoics (who welcomed women among their ranks)[2] or a foreigner visiting Athens.[3] The Georgian text of Acts makes Damaris the wife of Dionysius.[4]

Damaris is a saint in the Orthodox Church. Her feast day is the same as that of Dionysius the Areopagite or, alternatively, October 2.

She is also a saint in the Catholic Church, where she is known as Damaris of Athens. Her feast day is October 4. Catholics believe she was Dionysius the Areopagite’s wife.

Bible Gateway tells us that Damaris means ‘heifer’:

This female convert of Paul’s witness at Mars Hill (Acts 17:34), must have been a well-known Athenian. Her name is from the form of Damalis, meaning a “heifer,” and in use signified a young girl. Singled out with Dionysius the Areopagite, one of the court judges, indicates personal or social distinction (Acts 17:12). There is no evidence that she was the wife of Dionysius, as some writers affirm.

I hope this adds to our knowledge about Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris.

Acts 17 is the last chapter with Lectionary readings. From here on out, all being well, every verse in every chapter from Acts 18 through Acts 28 will feature in Forbidden Bible Verses.

Next time — Acts 18:1-4

My last Forbidden Bible Verses post on Acts 17:16-21 discussed Paul’s time in Athens. Various philosophers invited him to address the Areopagus.

They were intrigued by this notion of Jesus and the Resurrection, which they thought were a god and a goddess, respectively. The Areopagus was not only the most learned location in Athens but also a court in charge of all things, including affirming new deities. The Athenians could not get their fill of idols. They thought that perhaps Paul could come up with two more.

The following passage, which is in the Lectionary, is from the English Standard Version with commentary from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur:

Acts 17:22-31

Paul Addresses the Areopagus

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[a] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;[b]

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’[c]

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Paul was cordial to his hosts and began by acknowledging their idolatry by saying they were ‘very religious’ (verse 22). Whereas others might have rushed in like a bull in a china shop, Paul was warming up his audience.

Straightaway, he zeroed in on the altar dedicated to the ‘unknown god’, whom they worshipped even if they did not know its identity. Paul declared that he would explain the unknown God to them (verse 23).

Matthew Henry explains the three historical theories as to who or what the unknown god represented (emphases mine below):

Various conjectures the learned have concerning this altar dedicated to the unknown God. [1.] Some think the meaning is, To the God whose honour it is to be unknown, and that they intended the God of the Jews, whose name is ineffable, and whose nature is unsearchable. It is probable they had heard from the Jews, and from the writings of the Old Testament, of the God of Israel, who had proved himself to be above all gods, but was a God hiding himself, Isaiah 45:15. The heathen called the Jews’ God, Deus incertus, incertum Mosis Numen–an uncertain God, the uncertain Deity of Moses, and the God without name. Now this God, says Paul, this God, who cannot by searching be found out to perfection, I now declare unto you. [2.] Others think the meaning is, To the God whom it is our unhappiness not to know, which intimates that they would think it their happiness to know him. Some tell us that upon occasion of a plague that raged at Athens, when they had sacrificed to all their gods one after another for the staying of the plague, they were advised to let some sheep go where they pleased, and, where they lay down, to build an altar, to prosekonti Theo–to the proper God, or the God to whom that affair of staying the pestilence did belong; and, because they knew not how to call him, they inscribed it, To the unknown God. Others, from some of the best historians of Athens, tell us they had many altars inscribed, To the gods of Asia, Europe, and Africa–To the unknown God: and some of the neighbouring countries used to swear by the God that was unknown at Athens; so Lucian.

In declaring the unknown God to them, Paul was acknowledging what some of the greatest Greek philosophers believed, that there was indeed a Supreme Being and Creator that ruled over the earth (verses 24-27). Furthermore, the Athenians already worshipped their unknown god, so he was not new to them. Paul shone a light on the unknown god and turned him into the known God.

Henry explains that while a handful of the greatest philosophers believed in a Supreme Being, most others, along with most Athenians, preferred the mythology surrounding their many other gods:

He confirms his doctrine of one living and true God, by his works of creation and providence: “The God whom I declare unto you to be the sole object of your devotion, and call you to the worship of, is the God that made the world and governs it; and, by the visible proofs of these, you may be led to this invisible Being, and be convinced of his eternal power and Godhead.” The Gentiles in general, and the Athenians particularly, in their devotions were governed, not by their philosophers, many of whom spoke clearly and excellently well of one supreme Numen, of his infinite perfections and universal agency and dominion (witness the writings of Plato, and long after of Cicero); but by their poets, and their idle fictions. Homer’s works were the Bible of the pagan theology, or demonology rather, not Plato’s; and the philosophers tamely submitted to this, rested in their speculations, disputed them among themselves, and taught them to their scholars, but never made the use they ought to have made of them in opposition to idolatry; so little certainty were they at concerning them, and so little impression did these things make upon them! Nay, they ran themselves into the superstition of their country, and thought they ought to do so. Eamus ad communem errorem–Let us embrace the common error. Now Paul here sets himself, in the first place, to reform the philosophy of the Athenians (he corrects the mistakes of that), and to give them right notions of the one only living and true God, and then to carry the matter further than they ever attempted for the reforming of their worship, and the bringing them off from their polytheism and idolatry. Observe what glorious things Paul here says of that God whom he served, and would have them to serve.

Paul went on to cite verses from the great philosopher Epimenides of Crete and the poet Aratus, both of whom believed in one Being (verse 28). This emphasised Paul’s (verse 27):

Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

In other words, Paul wanted the Athenians to know that this unknown god of theirs was the real, true God of all and that He is very close to His offspring (verse 28).

Paul had been educated in Greek philosophy and culture, so he could ably meet the Athenians on their own ground.

Paul then took that further by saying that God is not an idol or an object (verse 29). Henry’s commentary states:

If this be so, 1. Then God cannot be represented by an image. If we are the offspring of God, as we are spirits in flesh, then certainly he who is the Father of our spirits (and they are the principal part of us, and that part of us by which we are denominated God’s offspring) is himself a Spirit, and we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device, Acts 17:29. We wrong God, and put an affront upon him, if we think so. God honoured man in making his soul after his own likeness; but man dishonours God if he makes him after the likeness of his body. The Godhead is spiritual, infinite, immaterial, incomprehensible, and therefore it is a very false and unjust conception which an image gives us of God, be the matter ever so rich, fold or silver; be the shape ever so curious, and be it ever so well graven by art or man’s device, its countenance, posture, or dress, ever so significant, it is a teacher of lies. 2. Then he dwells not in temples made with hands, Acts 17:24. He is not invited to any temple men can build for him, nor confined to any. A temple brings him never the nearer to us, nor keeps him ever the longer among us. A temple is convenient for us to come together in to worship God; but God needs not any place of rest or residence, nor the magnificence and splendour of any structure, to add to the glory of his appearance. A pious, upright heart, a temple not made with hands, but by the Spirit of God, is that which he dwells in, and delights to dwell in. See 1 Kings 8:27,Isa+66:1,2. 3. Then he is not worshipped, therapeuetai, he is not served, or ministered unto, with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, Acts 17:25. He that made all, and maintains all, cannot be benefited by any of our services, nor needs them.

Finally, Paul concluded by exhorting the Athenians hearing him to repent, as God commands (verse 30) because the day will come when the risen Christ, appointed by God, will come again in judgement of the whole world (verse 31).

What did the Athenians make of Paul’s discourse? Find out in tomorrow’s Forbidden Bible Verses.

Next — Acts 17:32-34

Yesterday’s post was about Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the White House.

This is the first state visit of the Trump presidency. The first state dinner, honouring Emmanuel Macron, took place on Tuesday, April 24.

Much was made of the fact that First Lady Melania Trump did not hire an event planner. Instead she worked with a closely-knit group of ten staff in the East Wing:

This was the menu. Note that President Trump agreed to have wine served. Every other event has been tee-total. I expect that an exception was made for the French, for whom wine with dinner is a must. The wine is not included on the press tweet below. The one served with the main course came from French vines planted in Oregon generations ago.

 

The day’s schedule was as follows:

History lover Macron understood the importance of everything happening that day:

Official welcome and meetings

The official arrival ceremony took place on the South Lawn (41-minute White House video here).

Hail to the Chief was played as the Trumps emerged from the White House to await the Macrons.

This is a great photo:

During the ceremony, both nations’ national anthems were played.

Both gave short speeches and spoke of the history between the two countries dating from the Revolutionary War. I am positive that the incomparable Stephen Miller had a hand in Trump’s:

Selected members of the public were invited, with local schoolchildren in attendance:

Once again, Macron sought out his father figure, who indulged him with a kiss this time:

Gateway Pundit‘s Jim Hoft enjoyed it:

Afterwards, the Trumps and the Macrons greeted members of the French delegation:

Then it was time for the restricted bilateral meeting, the topic of which was Iran. Trump rightly wants to re-negotiate the deal, Macron doesn’t.

Papa Trump led his young subject away after their public remarks:

The next meeting, the expanded bilateral one, was held in the Cabinet Room. Before it began, Trump and Macron discussed the restricted bilateral meeting. Excerpts follow:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Please. We were going to have a short little meeting, and it turned out to be a long meeting, and it could have gone on for another two hours.

We discussed a lot of things, a lot of problems in the world, a lot of problems that we think can be solved. But we’ve come a long way, just the two of us, I think, as understanding. We talked about Iran; we talked about Syria. We talked about a lot of subjects that really are big, big, hard situations. And we think we have solutions to a number of them.

So we’re going to continue that now, and then Emmanuel and myself will meet again, I think, after this meeting. But we wanted to get the opinion of some of the experts in the room. We have great experts on both sides, so we wanted to get the opinion of some of the experts …

PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you, Mr. President, for these words. We will have this large meeting with (inaudible) together again before the press conference, just to say we have had very good discussion, indeed, on Syria, on Iran, the overall region, and some other very important topics regarding our security.

And I think we have to work together because we’ve always worked together on these issues, and it’s very important to preserve the stability of this region. And I think what we want to do in the interest of our people is precisely to preserve stability of sovereign states, without any hegemon.

As for the trade issue, you presented your perception of the situation and you were fair to remind everybody that bilateral relationship is balanced between France and the U.S.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s true.

PRESIDENT MACRON: And I think it’s very important to bear in mind that, between allies — I mean, regarding so important security issues, it’s impossible to make any trade war …

After the expanded bilateral meeting, the two presidents held a joint press conference (full White House video here), which began with this:

President Trump was thorough in his remarks, enumerating not only current international challenges but also France’s helpful contributions. Excerpts follow:

France and the United States also agree that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, and that regime must end its support for terrorism all over. No matter where you go in the Middle East, you see the fingerprints of Iran behind problems.

I also want to thank President Macron for France’s vital contribution to our very successful campaign against ISIS. As we drive these ISIS killers from Syria, it is essential that the responsible nations of the Middle East step up their own contributions to prevent Iran from profiting off the success of our anti-ISIS effort. Very rich countries are in the Middle East. They have to make major contributions. They have not been doing it as they should. A major topic that we discussed a little while ago: They have to step up tremendously — not a little bit, but tremendously — their financial effort …

Both the United States and France are dealing with a challenge that has gone on for a long, long time. It’s uncontrolled migration. In the United States, we are taking strong action to regain control over our borders and over our sovereignty. It’s gone on for too long. And we’ve slowed it down very substantially, but we’re going to stop illegal immigration. I know that you face similar challenges in France. And, Mr. President, I admire the leadership you have shown in addressing them in a very honest and direct fashion, and not always popular.

Macron began his remarks by discussing the Iran deal:

Mr. President, please allow me to go back to a number of issues, which are fundamental for not only our relationship, but beyond. The first topic is Iran. You said once again, in front of the press, what your position was during the campaign and as well as the President of the United States. It’s not a mystery we did not have the same starting positions or stances, and neither you nor I have a habit of changing our stances or going with the wind.

That being said, I can say that we’ve had very a frank discussion on that, just the two of us. You consider that the Iranian deal, the JCPOA — the one negotiated in 2015 with Iran — is a bad deal. For a number of months, I’ve been saying that this was not a sufficient deal, but that it enabled us, at least until 2025, to have some control over their nuclear activities.

We therefore wish, from now on, to work on a new deal with Iran. What we need — and I believe that on that, our discussions allowed us to shed light on our convergence of views — is that we need to cover four topics.

The first one is to block any nuclear activity of Iran until 2025. This was feasible thanks to the JCPOA. The second is to make sure that, in the long run, there is no nuclear Iranian activity. The third fundamental topic is to be able to put an end to the ballistic activities of Iran in the region. And the fourth one is to generate the conditions for a solution — a political solution to contain Iran in the region — in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, and in Lebanon.

On these topics, I did not change. I constantly said that we needed to find the framework so that, together, and with the powers of the region, and with the Iranian leaders, manage to find a deal. I therefore would like us to commit to that effect in the weeks and months to come.

This is the only way to bring about stability. France is not naïve when it comes to Iran. We have also a lot of respect for the Iranian people, which, through their history — its history — has always shown its strength.

But we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Each time we tried to unilaterally replace the sovereignty of the people, we brought about some more terror. But for our allies, we want sustainable stability …

After the press conference, the two gripped hands (Trump probably did not want another kiss):

Afterwards, President Trump went to a private lunch with the Secretary of Defense.

Lunch honouring Macron

Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan and Vice President Mike Pence hosted a lunch for President Macron at the Harry S Truman Building. Afterwards, Sullivan gave a short speech:

Then Pence spoke and offered a toast. Macron responded with a speech and a reciprocal toast. (Full transcript here.)

Presidents’ wives visit National Gallery of Art

The White House published a précis of what the presidents’ wives did during the day, excerpted below:

In tradition with State Visits, First Lady Melania Trump hosted Mrs. Macron for a spousal event, choosing to visit the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. this morning. Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Macron were met by Frank Kelly, Deputy Director of the museum. The tour of the National Gallery of Art was crafted to particularly note the incredible work of French artists to complement the long-standing friendship between the United States and France.

“Everyone understands the language of art,” said Mrs. Trump. “The historically famous and beautiful works that currently live in the National Gallery of Art are breathtaking.”

The Macrons at JFK’s grave

That afternoon, the Macrons paid a reverent visit to John F Kennedy’s grave:

The linked tweet has an excellent photo and the same text in French. The responses are very anti-Macron.

French Embassy presentation to American veterans

At the French Embassy that afternoon, Macron presented Legion of Honour medals to three American veterans of the Second World War.

The News Virginian has the story:

William Barr, who currently lives at The Legacy at North Augusta in Staunton, was honored Tuesday along with two other veterans at the French Embassy in Washington …

After personally awarding the medals to Barr and the other two men, Robert Ewald and Stanley Rzucidio, at Tuesday’s ceremony, President  Macron praised the three veterans and all of those who helped defeat tyranny during World War II.

“My generation has the opportunity to defend these values today because your generation, and especially people like you, decided to take all the risks to protect these values, to protect my country,” Macron said. “[I am] also paying tribute to the blood shed by all your comrades.”

Barr was a World War II Army Air Forces airplane mechanic who participated in the Battle of the Bulge and other key campaigns …

“Robert, Stanley, William, those are names of heroes. During World War II, your generation decided to take all the risks to protect France. You fought for freedom. Eternal gratitude from the French people,” Macron tweeted.

The article states that the Legion of Honour, which Napoleon established in 1802, is the highest French order of merit.

The State Dinner

The climax of the Macrons’ visit was the state dinner that evening, the Trumps’ first.

Laura Dowling, former chief floral designer at the Obama White House, wrote an excellent article for Fox News, describing the symbolism not only in floral decorations but also the particular symbolism that goes into a state dinner. A short video is also included, with amazing photos and statistics on this particular dinner (emphases mine):

I was honored to help design décor and flowers for two visits by heads of state from France: the private dinner that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted for President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, in 2010; and the state visit of President Francois Hollande in 2014.

For both events, the flowers were designed to carry out diplomatic, cultural and historical themes – with the goal of honoring France and the individual leaders, as well as to celebrate cherished American traditions and ideals …

Some of the most beautiful and historic pieces in the White House collection have a French provenance – the 18th century gilt mirrored Monroe Plateau, the early 19th century marble-topped table in the Red Room by a French-American cabinetmaker, and the French Blue Room furniture acquired by President Monroe are just a few examples …

In addition to highlighting the White House collection of French decorative arts, the first lady is paying tribute to former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush by selecting their china for this inaugural state visit.

Additional décor includes the large urns of cherry blossoms lining the Great Hall. Cherry blossoms are not only the quintessential emblem of spring in Washington, but also in Paris, where they are currently in bloom in the Jardin de Tuilieries near the Elysses Palace, the home of the French first couple.

The Daily Mail has an article on the dinner with excellent photos.

This was the menu in full, with the wines from Oregon listed. The gold rimmed plate, an edge of which can be seen underneath is a Clinton plate:

There’s a story behind this china:

The Conservative Treehouse posted on this and included the above tweets as well as a link to the 2001 ABC story, excerpted below:

Former President Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, have sent $28,000 worth of household goods back to Washington after questions arose over whether the items were intended as personal gifts or donations to the White House.

“We have been informed that it is being shipped back, and the National Park Service is ready to receive it, take possession of it and take custody of it,” Jim McDaniel, the National Park Service’s liaison to the White House, said Wednesday.

“The property is being returned to government custody until such time that the issues can be resolved. It may well turn out that that property is rightly the personal property of the Clintons.”

After they were criticized for taking $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts with them when they left, the Clintons announced last week that they would pay for $86,000 worth of gifts, or nearly half the amount.

Their latest decision to send back $28,000 in gifts brings to $114,000 the value of items the Clintons have either decided to pay for or return.

On that subject, one of the commenters at The_Donald had an anecdote about the Clintons:

I personally know one of the White House Interior Decorators that was at The White House when Clinton’s arrived. She said it was like The Beverly Hillbillies come to town. They ruined so much historical stuff, decorated things totally trashy and they did try to and did take tons of stuff out of there. They personally ruined things, broke things trashed things that had been around a long time that had history behind them. I didn’t hear much about Bill from my friend, but she said Hillary was a piece of work and nasty. This from someone that lived through it.

Back to the present now and America’s current first couple. For interested ladies — Mrs Trump wore Chanel:

A light rain fell as the Trumps greeted the Macrons.

This video shows you how grand it was, with the military escort. The first couples pose for a photo at the 1:15 mark:

As for the guests, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) was the first to arrive:

Here is the only Democrat invited — the governor of Louisiana:

The following links have photos of other notable guests: the Vice President and Mrs Pence, the Speaker of the House and Mrs Ryan, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, the Chief of Staff and Mrs Kelly, the Press Secretary and Mr Sanders, the Director of the CIA and Mrs Pompeo, the Surgeon General and Mrs Adams, the Secretary of the Treasury and Mrs Mnuchin, the Chief Justice and Mrs Roberts, Henry and Nancy Kissinger (must see) and Rupert and Jerry (Hall) Murdoch. More guests are listed here and here.

Toasts were made before dinner (full transcript here):

Then it was Macron’s turn:

Knowing how much hard work went into the event, President Trump tweeted his appreciation to his First Lady:

Wednesday, April 25

Early the next day, Trump tweeted:

The video of Macron’s speech is here. He laid out his international policies and perspectives, which are very different to Trump’s. He received a standing ovation from both houses of Congress.

Macron then went to speak at George Washington University on a variety of topics …

… including religion, which is a hot topic for him right now in France:

He also held a press conference there:

President and Mrs Macron left for Paris later that day.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania hosted their first state visit by welcoming President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte to the White House.

The Macrons arrived on Monday, April 23 and left on Wednesday, April 25.

Emmanuel Macron is the Western leader who likes President Trump the most. The US president also wanted to reciprocate the warm welcome and Bastille Day visit in July 2017 (here and here).

Oh, the irony. Macron was Obama’s pet in 2017 during the French presidential campaign. They were on the phone to each other at least once:

State visits

In 1997, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty posted an article on the various types of visits made to the White House by heads of state. It is well worth reading. An excerpt follows about the state visit, the most important one (emphases mine):

According to official State Department guidelines, there are five types of visits to be accorded to a ranking member of a foreign government. They are: a “state visit,” an “official visit,” an “official working visit,” a “working visit,” and a “private visit.”

The guidelines say that the “state visit” is the highest ranking visit and can only be offered to a chief of state — such as the president of a country or a reigning monarch like Britain’s Queen Elizabeth — and must be at the invitation of the U.S. president.

During a state visit, the guest is offered a room for four days and three nights at Blair House, the President’s official guest house, located within walking distance of the White House.

A state visit ensures a meeting with the U.S. president, a state dinner at the White House, a full honors arrival and departure ceremony on the south grounds of the White House, and a 21 gun salute. Gifts may be exchanged and spouses can attend the ceremonies and dinners. Press availability and photo opportunities are plentiful

Mel French, the Director of Protocol at the U.S. State Department, says there is a practical reason why the White House ranks the visits of foreign guests.

“Ranking the visits gives a level to what the [U.S.] president wants to do when he invites someone to this country,” she says. “Often they really need an official working visit where they can sit down and work through problems or things that they need to talk about. An official working visit is really a visit of substance and policy. A state visit and an official visit are more of a ceremonial type thing where we are honoring a country.”

French adds that there are limits on state visits.

A country can only have one state visit during a [U.S.] president’s four-year term,” she says.

French says that the decision of what kind of rank to accord each visitor is made jointly by the National Security Council and the State Department.

When asked if foreign heads of state are ever invited to stay at the White House instead of Blair House, French says that can happen occasionally, but only under unusual or important circumstances.

State dinners

On April 18, Jennifer Boswell Pickens, White House East Wing historian, wrote an excellent article for The Daily Caller about previous presidents’ state dinners and her anticipation of this one:

I predict the Trumps’ first State Arrival Ceremony and State Dinner will truly be a meaningful event for the Macrons, as even the smallest details are coming from Mrs. Trump’s appreciation for American History and respect for her French guests … Not since Jackie Kennedy will we have a First Lady able to speak fluently to her guests creating that timeless “Melania Trump je ne sais quoi” that will help the president create deeper bonds, and closer diplomatic ties with our French neighbors.

The White House also issued an interesting history of state visits. The first one was held in 1874, when President Ulysses S Grant welcomed King David Kalakaua of Hawaii:

The White House had never hosted a foreign head of state—Hawaii would not be annexed by the United States until 1898—largely because travel overseas during the 18th and 19th centuries was long and hazardous.

No matter how the visit went, King Kalakaua’s trip would set a precedent.

The result was America’s first State Dinner with a foreign head of state, an intimate but elaborate meal consisting of more than 20 courses and 36 guests. The President, Vice President, and a host of other U.S. dignitaries were in attendance.

The reason for King Kalakaua’s visit and the primary topic of discussion? A trade deal.

Preparations

Everything was planned well in advance, from the security and the dinner to Macron’s speaking engagements.

Meanwhile, Macron gave interviews on both sides of the Atlantic prior to his visit. Chris Wallace travelled to Paris to interview him for Fox News:

The 40-year-old Macron said Sunday that he has a “very special relationship” with Trump, suggesting they’re political “mavericks” mutually committed to fighting terrorism and reducing the influence of rogue nations and dictators …

He said he and Trump “have a very special relationship because both of us are probably the maverick of the systems on both sides. I think President Trump’s election was unexpected in your country, and probably my election was unexpected in my country. And we are not part of the classical political system. … We are very much attached to the same values …. especially liberty and peace,” he said. “And I think the U.S. today has a very strong role to play for peace in different regions of the world and especially the Middle East.”

No doubt Macron was looking forward to getting away from the fray for a few days. He has been facing active opposition in France for some time. The Express had more on the Chris Wallace interview:

Furious protests are regularly held against French Government’s reforms, with up to 200,000 people attending some marches. 

These protests have often spilled over into violence and riots, including tense clashes with police.

On this, Mr Macron said: “If I stop here, because of some protests, they are legitimate but in a minority, then I will never be able to reform again.”

Wallace followed this up: “Your popularity is falling. You were elected with 66 percent of the vote.

“The latest polls show that 58 percent of French people disapprove of your presidency, with only 40 percent approval rates.”

The French president responded: “If you follow the polls, you never reform, you never fix the situation, you never transform.

“You are always obsessed with following where you want to go. I will look at the polls in due time, not now.”

There was also the matter of an immigration bill which caused rifts in the French parliament.

On Sunday, the First Lady was putting the finishing touches on Tuesday’s state dinner:

She tweeted:

After months of preparations, and I are looking forward to hosting our first State Dinner with France! Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this visit a success. 🇺🇸 🇫🇷

ZeroHedge gave us an insight into the planning (bold emphases in the original, those in purple mine):

To prepare for Tuesday night’s State Dinner – the Trump administration’s first – Melania went all out, curiously doing so without the help of an event planner as previous first ladies have used

Preparation began seven months ago, when Melania began cooking up gift ideas – such as a framed section of upholstery from one of the chairs in the White House Blue Room, created by French designer Pierre-Antoine Bellangé as one of 53 pieces commissioned for the room by President James Monroe. 

The Macrons will also receive a photo album upon their departure, full of pictures of their visit – along with an engraved Tiffany & Co. silver bowl which bears the presidential seal and the signatures of both Trumps …

To pull off the event, Melania has assembled a “close-knit” team of 10 people in the East Wing. “The team is small, but mighty” says the first lady’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham.

The Trumps are opting for a slimmed-down dinner of around 150 people – with no invites going to Congressional Democrats or members of the press

In fact, there was one Democrat who attended: the governor of Louisiana. It is customary for Louisiana’s governor to be invited to state events honouring the French head of state.

Monday’s schedule

This was the White House schedule for Monday, April 23:

The US military and various dignitaries welcomed the Macrons upon their arrival at Joint Base Andrews. Macron made a brief statement of thanks to Trump and said the two of them would discuss various bilateral issues, including trade and security (around 7:00):

Macron mentioned the mutual responsibility both countries have in the face of mounting international challenges. As a political commentator pointed out on France’s RMC talk radio, France is the EU nation the US will look to for military presence when needed once the UK completes Brexit:

A motorcade then took the couple to Blair House, where visiting heads of state reside during their visits. There, they were able to rest and prepare for the afternoon’s tree planting and dinner at Mount Vernon. Transport to and from George Washington’s homestead was via Marine One.

That afternoon, the president and first lady officially greeted the Macrons at the White House (longer version here):

They got a tour of the White House. Here they are in the Oval Office. Brigitte Macron admired the Resolute desk:

The Macrons gave the United States an oak tree sapling as a gift. The Conservative Treehouse explains that the sapling is an important one. It was (emphases mine):

taken from Bellau Wood, about 60 miles northeast of Paris in the Champagne region. The site is where a famous World War One battle took place, where the U.S. Marine Corps repelled a German offensive in the final year of the conflict almost exactly a century ago.

The sapling grew close to the so-called “Devil Dog” fountain, a spot that has become legendary within Marines ranks. It is where U.S. soldiers are said to have gathered after the battle. The “dog” in the fountain’s name refers to its spout, which resembles the head of a bull mastiff. But the nickname also stems from the German moniker “Teufelhunde”, or “devil dogs”. That term is said to have been used by the Germans to describe the U.S. Marines due to the ferocity with which the Americans fought.

As a consequence, “Devil Dog” soon became a common nickname for U.S. Marines.

The tree was already planted on the White House lawn, so the two presidents conducted a ceremonial ‘planting’ on the South Lawn:

I rather enjoyed this photo of the wives:

Then it was time to board Marine One:

This was the view:

They arrived a short while later. Macron cannot keep his hands off Trump, whom he sees as a father figure (see 3:10). You can see the exterior of the Mount Vernon mansion at 4:47:

This clip gives a closer view. The outer doors are particularly intriguing (3:00):

After dinner:

Before leaving:

The choice of the venue has historic significance for the two countries. George Washington had a close friendship with General Lafayette, who helped the colonies greatly in the Revolutionary War:

The media stated a more pedestrian reason for the choice of Mount Vernon:

In a statement issued that day, President Trump made it abundantly clear that the historical bonds between the United States and France are significant. An excerpt follows (emphasis in the original):

A LONG AND ENDURING FRIENDSHIP: President Trump is continuing the legacy of French-American cooperation that stretches back to America’s independence and working with President Macron to build the already strong ties between the United States and France.

  • President Trump has made clear that the bond between the United States and France is unbreakable.
    • The relationship between the two countries dates back to the days of the American Revolution, when thousands of French soldiers fought alongside American troops and provided crucial support in our fight for freedom and liberty.
  • Presidents Trump and Macron have reaffirmed and strengthened the U.S.-France relationship. They have met in person and spoken on the phone numerous times.

As dusk fell, the couples boarded Marine One for the White House.

Upon arrival, conversation was lively, as if between friends:

The top left photo shows Macron holding Papa Trump’s left arm (click to enlarge):

The Macrons left for Blair House:

Trump managed to secure an increase in France’s NATO contribution that day. Early that evening, The Daily Caller reported:

President Donald Trump secured a commitment from French President Emmanuel Macron Monday to increase the country’s NATO defense spending by more than a third.

Trump hosted Macron in Washington, DC Monday, after which the White House announced France’s commitment to meet NATO’s two percent GDP defense spending minimum, an increase of 35 percent.

Ah. The Art of the Deal.

Promises made, promises kept.

Tomorrow: The Trumps’ first state dinner

My reader George True has posted eloquent comments here.

I used two, with his consent, as guest posts:

Guest post: a reader’s perspective on the Florida school shooting (February 23 comment)

Guest post: a reader’s perspective on the Deep State and Mueller investigation (April 15, George True)

George’s latest is about Jeff Sessions’s priorities, initially posted here in reply to ‘Increasing outcry for Sleepy Sessions to go’.

George has kindly consented to my using his comment as a guest post. Q is the intel source dropping geopolitical breadcrumbs. Sundance is the founder and author of The Conservative Treehouse. Emphases mine below.

I really do not know what to believe at this point in time. Q keeps saying ‘trust Sessions’. Sundance keeps saying ‘trust Sessions’. Yet Sessions appears to have been MIA for fifteen months, while the entire time his boss (our President) has been continuously savaged by the MSM, the DNC, and rogue agencies such as the FBI and Sessions’ own agency, the DOJ.

One of the highly publicized actions of the DOJ under Sessions is the rounding up of MS-13 gang bangers in certain parts of our country. While I am in favor of this, what good does it do without also reining in the agencies that promoted and facilitated the importation of massive numbers of Mexican criminals in the first place? And in any case, how is arresting MS-13 members MORE important than arresting the ringleaders of what is now known to have been an attempted coup and overthrow of the lawfully and constitutionally elected government of the United States?

As I have opined in prior comments at this blog, I sincerely hope and pray that there is far more going on under the radar than we everyday people can possibly see. One of two possibilities exists. Either Sessions is doing essentially nothing……..OR, he is fully engaged in the greatest stealth operation of getting the goods on the Deep State criminal cabal that there has ever been. In other words, boiling the frog so slowly that he won’t realize it until too late.

Only time will tell. And time is running out. Primary elections are almost upon us, and the mid-term elections are just six months away. If there is no action against the coup plotters soon, the Republicans stand to lose big, possibly losing one or both houses of congress. Just today, April 20, the corrupt and criminal DNC filed suit against the Trump campaign in federal court. This highly visible lawsuit breathes new life into the ab initio false narrative of Trump being elected as a result of ‘collusion’ with Russia.

The suit will go nowhere. Its entire purpose is to continue the fraudulent claims against Trump for the purpose of tilting the all-important mid-term elections to the Democrats. Once they have even marginal control of congress, they will vote to impeach Trump. Even if they are unsuccessful in removing him, they will effectively hamstring his administration for the rest of his time in office. Only the public exposure and prosecution of the Democrat coup plotters by Jeff Sessions’ DOJ prior to then will blunt the ongoing propaganda campaign of the left and prevent a mid-term debacle. We will soon know whether Sessions is the real deal or not. Let us pray we do not find out the hard way due to complete inaction on the part of Sessions.

I couldn’t agree more, George.

What now looms in my mind is the possibility that Jeff Sessions has been compromised.

In February, Sessions had dinner with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — the de facto Attorney General after Sessions’s recusals — and Solicitor General Noel Francisco at a restaurant near the Justice Department. Was it, as the Washington Post posits, a show of solidarity?

The same WaPo article, published on April 20, zeroed in on Sessions’s rumoured loyalty to Rosenstein, who is closest to Robert Mueller and his investigation: ‘Sessions told White House that Rosenstein’s firing could prompt his departure too’:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently told the White House he might have to leave his job if President Trump fired his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the exchange.

Sessions made his position known in a phone call to White House counsel Donald McGahn last weekend, as Trump’s fury at Rosenstein peaked after the deputy attorney general approved the FBI’s raid April 9 on the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen

In the phone call with McGahn, Sessions wanted details of a meeting Trump and Rosenstein held at the White House on April 12, according to a person with knowledge of the call. Sessions expressed relief to learn that their meeting was largely cordial. Sessions said he would have had to consider leaving as the attorney general had Trump ousted Rosenstein, this person said.

Another person familiar with the exchange said Sessions did not intend to threaten the White House but rather wanted to convey the untenable position that Rosenstein’s firing would put him in.

Sessions’s primary loyalty should be to President Trump rather than Rod Rosenstein. The Mueller investigation is going nowhere, and Rosenstein is the one who appointed Mueller on May 17, 2017 without consulting with Sessions beforehand:

The decision took Trump by surprise and greatly angered him.

Back to the present: on April 20, Donald McGahn gave Rosenstein a set of presidential cufflinks he wore at his appearance before the Supreme Court on April 23 to argue a case about sentencing in a drugs case conviction.

It’s difficult for the public to know what to think.

If President Trump did fire Rosenstein and Sessions subsequently resigned, then Trump could get a Senate-approved replacement for the AG spot under vacancy rules.

It wouldn’t hurt for Trump’s supporters to have a bit of clarity about this situation.

A post about Sessions’s recusals is coming soon.

Bible ourhomewithgodcomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy have omitted — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 17:16-21

Paul in Athens

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

—————————————————————————————————————

My past two posts explained the first part of Acts 17: Paul’s establishing churches in Thessalonica and Berea.

These were important developments, as Paul wrote letters to the Thessalonians, who became very devout Christians. Berea appears in the Bible only this one time, but the Bereans are good Christian role models because, even before their conversion, they read Scripture regularly and properly discerned it.

As my posts explain, Paul, Silas and Timothy had to leave Thessalonica, where they were persecuted. The mob from that city then travelled to Berea to persecute the three again. Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea for a time, until Paul received a divine command to summon them to Athens, where Bereans had escorted him.

As Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was overcome by the idolatry that pervaded the city (verse 16). Even though Paul was well versed in Greek philosophy, he found the sheer number of idols disturbing.

John MacArthur reminds us (emphases mine below):

Now I want us to set the picture, it’s a man and a city. It’s a simple thing. One man against one city. Look at the man. Let’s see what kind of a man he was. He was a Jew. And as a Jew he was beyond just being a Jew he was a Pharisee, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a student of the great teacher Gamaliel. He was expert in the law, he was expert in ceremonies, he was a leader,-..he was a teacher, he was an expert in the Old Testament. Beyond being a Jew he was a Roman, he was a Roman citizen. And with his Roman citizenship came that kind of special skill in secular affairs that belonged to the Romans, that special knowledge of the military and of politics. Beyond that he was a Greek, not by virtue of his heritage but by virtue of his environ­ment, he was raised in a place called Tarsus which was tremendously influenced by Greek culture. He was a Hellenistic man, he was exposed to Greek art and Greek philosophy. And so he had all of the bests of all of the worlds. He was a man who was cosmopolitan in every sense. And adding to those particu­lar things he had a brilliant and keen mind. He had an intense commitment to the cause he believed in. He was a tireless pursuer of any goal that he set. He was a matchless orator. He was a fearless preacher. He was a brilliant question and answer dialogue man. He was well read, he was well travelled. He was an extraordinary man.

MacArthur gives us a glimpse of Athens’ supremacy at the time, even though it was under Roman rule by then:

… some historians said Athens at the time of Paul was the intellectual center and the university of the world. The minds of that part of the world congregated in Athens. In fact, it was such – it was such a proud city that it even called its university The Eye of Greece and the Mother of Arts. And Athens offered a home, incidentally, to almost every god in existence. In a place called the Pantheon they had a god for everything. They had every god there and every public building in Athens was a shrine to a god. The record house, for example, like the Hall of Records today, was dedicated to the Mother of gods. The Council House housed a statue of Apollo and Jupiter and everything was religious. As I told you last week, some comments were made such as – You can easily find a god in Athens rather than a man. Gods were everywhere. And it was a pagan city in the fullest sense, super cultured. And all of its art had false deities in mind, great monuments were built, great beautiful buildings were built as tributes to gods. Apart from its religion was its tremendous philosophical bent. Socrates and Plato were from Athens. Athens was the adopted city of Aristotle, Epicurus who founded the Epicureans and Zeno who founded the Stoics. And here was the great mind of the world as it were. And from it came the directions that resulted in the activities of other parts of the world. So Athens was some city. Master­pieces of architecture, masterpieces of art, sculpture, the greatest orators who ever lived gave orations in Athens.

As he always did, Paul went to the synagogue to preach and he also went to the marketplace every day to discourse (verse 17). The Greek word for marketplace is agora. Matthew Henry has more …

He entered into conversation with all that came in his way about matters of religion: In the market–en te agora, in the exchange, or place of commerce, he disputed daily, as he had occasion, with those that met with him, or that he happened to fall into company with, that were heathen, and never came to the Jews’ synagogue.

… as does MacArthur:

The marketplace is interesting, it’s the word agora, and in the towns in those times they had a center place, maybe a large area, court kind of a thing, you know, the public buildings were there, the temples were there and around this big area would be a colonnade. And in the colonnade would be little shops and farmers would even bring on the outside areas their cattle in and any goods they’d raised on the countryside and it was a big marketplace. And in the middle area philosophers would walk around with their little groups, you know, and there was always a group of people in the agora, many different kinds, you know, there were peripatetic teachers, philosophers, magicians, hucksters, you know, step right up, folks – that kind of thing, sleight of hand artists.

Paul could debate with the most educated of men, and did so with the Stoics and Epicureans he encountered (verse 18).

Henry explains the Epicureans’ philosophy:

The Epicureans, who thought God altogether such a one as themselves, an idle inactive being, that minded nothing, nor put any difference between good and evil. They would not own, either that God made the world or that he governs it; nor that man needs to make any conscience of what he says or does, having no punishment to fear nor rewards to hope for, all which loose atheistical notions Christianity is levelled against. The Epicureans indulged themselves in all the pleasures of sense, and placed their happiness in them, in what Christ has taught us in the first place to deny ourselves.

MacArthur tells us:

… they got their name from Epicurus who was a philosopher in Athens who has started this movement. He was born in about 342 B.C. so he was long dead and this is like 400 years later but his movement is still going great. Now Epicureans just to give you a little identification believed – 1. that everything happened by chance. They believed everything happened by chance. There was no real reason or rhyme for anything and nobody was running the show. They were the rationalists, see. Second thing, death was the end of everything. You died and that was it. Three, there were gods, they believed in all the gods but they figured the gods were remote and didn’t get involved and didn’t care. Now if you believe everything happens by chance and death is the end of everything and nobody up there cares then the fourth principle of Epicureans is very easy, – pleasure is the main purpose in life. Translated into the modern day – grab all the gusto you can get – you only go around once. See. Which is a very, – which is a beer version of existentialism. Pleasure is the chief end of men. Listen if you believe everything happened by chance and everything was random and you believed that death was the end of everything and you just went into the grave and it was over and you believed that there weren’t any gods who cared what you did, you’d be an Epicurean too, wouldn’t you? Atheistic rationalism ends up in pleasure is the chief end of men. Grab it here, grab it now, do your own thing, live it up. This is ancient existentialism.

Henry describes Stoicism as follows:

The Stoics, who thought themselves altogether as good as God, and indulged themselves as much in the pride of life as the Epicureans did in the lusts of the flesh and of the eye; they made their virtuous man to be no way inferior to God himself, nay to be superior. Esse aliquid quo sapiens antecedat Deum–There is that in which a wise man excels God, so Seneca: to which Christianity is directly opposite, as it teaches us to deny ourselves and abase ourselves, and to come off from all confidence in ourselves, that Christ may be all in all.

MacArthur has this:

… the Stoics. They were the nice guys. They weren’t out each for themselves. They were sort of the humanitarian bunch. They believed, first of all, that everything was God … You know what pantheism is? It’s atheism. If everything’s God, nothing’s God. So everything is God. Secondly, everything is the will of God. No matter what happens in the will of God wills it. They were fatalists. See. The will of God [is] everything. And they believed every so often the world disintegrated and then started all over again. It goes through that cycle every so many years. And, of course, for them believing that every­thing was God, everything was sort of divine and they were Gods and they had to act like Gods and they had to treat everybody else like Gods

The one attribute that both commentators left out about Stoicism is actually a good one: the lack of extreme emotion — no tears, no anger, no complaining.

Some of the Stoics and Epicureans were interested in conversing with Paul (verse 18). While some called him a babbler, others were intrigued by what they understood to be a foreign deity and a resurrection.

Henry explains ‘babbler’, which has always had negative connotations as someone spouting whatever comes into his head:

Some called him a babbler, and thought he spoke, without any design, whatever came uppermost, as men of crazed imaginations do: What will this babbler say? ho spermologos houtos–this scatterer of words, that goes about, throwing here one idle word or story and there another, without any intendment or signification; or, this picker up of seeds. Some of the critics tell us that the term is used for a little sort of bird, that is worth nothing at all, either for the spit or for the cage, that picks up the seeds that lie uncovered, either in the field or by the way-side, and hops here and there for that purpose–Avicula parva quæ semina in triviis dispersa colligere solet; such a pitiful contemptible animal they took Paul to be, or supposed he went from place to place venting his notions to get money, a penny here and another there, as that bird picks up here and there a grain. They looked upon him as an idle fellow, and regarded him, as we say, no more than a ballad-singer.

MacArthur says the babbler is a gutter-sparrow, or guttersnipe:

It was referred to a gutter-sparrow. The gutter-sparrows, you know, they go around and pick up little bits and pieces and scraps of stuff and, you know, that’s how they live. And so this common term which really refers to gutter-sparrows became used for paupers who prowled around the marketplace, parasites who lived off what they could pick up. And it was translated into the philosophy thing and what they were saying was, – Paul, you’re not telling us a philosophy you’re nothing but a philosophical seed-picker. You’ve picked up bits and pieces of philosophy and religion and slapped it all together and you’re trying to pawn it off as knowledge. See. It’s like calling him an eclectic in a negative sense. What an uneducated babble you’re trying to pawn off, bits and scraps of all kinds of random philosophies and religions being passed off as information that is true. And so they mocked him.

As brainy as these fellows were, they did not understand the truth of Christ and the Resurrection, but interpreted both as new gods. Henry gives us the Greek expression:

Ton Iesoun kai ten anastasin, “Jesus they took for a new god, and anastasis, the resurrection, for a new goddess.” Thus they lost the benefit of the Christian doctrine by dressing it up in a pagan dialect, as if believing in Jesus, and looking for the resurrection, were the worshipping of new demons.

Wow.

But, don’t Christians run into similar opposition today? It’s a pity this passage isn’t in the three-year Lectionary. MacArthur gave the sermon I’m citing in 1973 at his church in southern California. Even then, atheism was rife, but, of course, it’s always been around. Atheists continue to give the same objections they always have:

You know, it’s an old story with Christianity but everybody who really believes the Bible and really preaches it at one time or another runs into the mockers who say you’re … intellectually not with it, you – you just, I mean, that’s old wives tales, that’s for old ladies and little kids that believe that Christianity bit. I mean, we intellectuals[,] we’re past that. You know, I get that when I go on a college campus. And I don’t pose to be an intellectlual. But, you know[,] you always hear well, you know Christianity is not even intelligent, well, it’s not even reasonable all that stuff in [the] Bible.

YES!!!

One of the reasons I keep writing Forbidden Bible Verses is to show the truth of the Scripture to those who doubt it. (The other is to learn it better myself.)

But I digress.

The interested philosophers took him to the Areopagus to give him an audience for his ‘new teaching’ (verse 19). There is much to unpack in that verse.

First, Areopagus, translated into English, is Mars Hill. Ares was the Greek god of war. Mars was the Roman god of war. Pagus means hill.

The Areopagus was the most important and most learned place in Athens, as Henry describes. Furthermore, it was the place where new gods could be approved. The philosophers thought Paul would put forward a new deity for approval:

… it was the town-house, or guildhall of their city, where the magistrates met upon public business, and the courts of justice were kept; and it was as the theatre in the university, or the schools, where learned men met to communicate their notions. The court of justice which sat here was famous for its equity, which drew appeals to it from all parts; if any denied a god, he was liable to the censure of this court. Diagoras was by them put to death, as a contemner of the gods; nor might any new god be admitted without their approbation. Hither they brought Paul to be tried, not as a criminal but as a candidate.

Secondly, anything ‘new’ in Athens at that time was seen as intriguing and novel (verse 21). Enquiring minds wanted to know. This is why we call current affairs and any recent information ‘news‘.

Paul explained the risen Christ to them in words they could understand, i.e. from a pagan perspective. More on that next time.

Next time — Acts 17:32-34

Before my next Forbidden Bible Verses entry appears, it is useful to know what happened in the first half of Acts 17.

Yesterday’s post discussed Paul’s establishment of the church in Thessalonica, the recipient of his letters to the Thessalonians.

Today’s post will look at the next destination for him, Silas and Timothy — Berea:

Paul and Silas in Berea

10 The brothers[b] immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

Paul, Silas and Timothy had to leave Thessalonica immediately. The converts there sent them to Berea, which was about 60 miles away. Upon their arrival, they made their customary visit to the synagogue (verse 10). That was nearly always Paul’s starting point for preaching and teaching.

Luke, the author of Acts, thought it important to say that the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians. That was not a reference to lineage but to the fact that they studied the Scriptures in a deep way for their edification (verse 11). Some translations use ‘search’ instead of ‘examine’. John MacArthur explains (emphases mine below):

The word for search is “to examine.” It was a word to speak of judicial investigation. They sifted the evidence carefully. You know what I believe? I believe that a man who honestly sifts the evidence of Scripture is gonna come to the right conclusion. I think Scripture can defend itself, don’t you?

Jesus had said in John 5:39, He says, “Search the Scriptures for in them you think have eternal life.” And watch, “They are they which testify of Me.” He says, “You go ahead. Study your Old Testament. You know what you’re gonna find? Me.” In verse 46, the same chapter, John 5, “For had you believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me.” And says, “How shall you believe Me, if you don’t believe him.” Over at chapter 7, verse 17, he says, “If you really want to do God’s will, you’ll know the truth.”

So if someone encourages us to be Bereans, this is what is meant: study the Bible not only regularly but also carefully.

Because the Bereans understood Scripture, they eagerly received Paul’s message. See how that works?

Note the contrast Luke used in the number of new believers. There were ‘many’ in Berea compared with the ‘some’ in Thessalonica (verse 12).

Once again, Luke mentioned the prominent women who converted, just as he did in the account of Thessalonica.

However, the unfortunate persecutors of Paul, Silas and Timothy were on their way from Thessalonica to Berea to wreak the same violent havoc (verse 13).

So the new converts in Berea helped Paul leave. Silas and Timothy stayed behind to minister to the new church (verse 14).

The brethren in Berea took Paul all the way to Athens. Paul received a divine command to ask that Silas and Timothy to join him there (verse 15). Athens challenged Paul deeply, and that will be the subject of tomorrow’s Forbidden Bible Verses instalment.

Sadly, this is the only time Berea is mentioned in the Bible. It would have been interesting to learn more about the people there and how they developed such a love for Scripture.

However, Paul had a special love for the church in Thessalonica. MacArthur tells us:

You never hear another word about Berea in the Bible, but you hear a lot about Thessalonica. And Thessalonica became the most beloved church that Paul ever wrote to. He just loved those people. And of all the churches that are written to in the New Testament, they seem to be the most like Christ wanted the church to be.

Now, watch this. Isn’t it interesting that with Berea, oh, they were so noble, so wonderful, but when they got saved, you never hear another thing about ’em? Thessalonica, they had to be persuaded, they weren’t so noble, but when they got saved, man they went wild. They became what God wanted the church to be. You say, “What’s that supposed to prove?” It is to prove that salvation is the equalizer. It doesn’t matter what you were before you were saved – at the moment of salvation it becomes an issue of what you do with the resources that become yours, do you see? People say, “Well, so and so, before he was saved, was, uh, uh, uh, you know, he was into dope, and into, oh, Satan and into __ __ __. We can’t expect much.”

Oh, believe me, you can expect just as much as you can expect out of Citizen Number 1A. The finest guy that ever was, when he gets saved. Why? Because the resources are the same, you got it? And Thessalonica may not have been noble as Berea, but once salvation happened, the resources were the same and they tapped them in Thessalonica. Now, I don’t know that Berea didn’t; I’m just showing you that there’s no reason to assume that if you come in barely or with all kinds of problems, you don’t get there is. That’s a lot of baloney. Salvation isn’t gradual, it’s instantaneous – you believe that? It’s all yours. You’re complete in Him.

And that’s something that I think we have to remember because I think sometimes we don’t expect enough out of certain people. Because we say, “Oh well, they’ve had such and such a background.” Salvation is the equalizer, beloved – it’s the equalizer.

The strong faith of the Bereans thanks to their examination of Scripture is an important lesson for all Christians. MacArthur gives this analysis:

It’s all in the Old Testament. “They searched the Scriptures and, believe me, God reveals himself.” Paul said to Timothy, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine for correction, for instruction and righteousness that the man of God maybe be mature, thoroughly furnished” – all good words. “You study the Old Testament,” he said to Timothy, “and you’ll find the truth of righteousness there.” And so these noble folks didn’t need to be publicly persuaded. They sought it out themselves. They were such noble people.

I notice, beloved, I close with this. The Gospel we preach must have two things. It must have qualities that can be open to public questioning. That’s Thessalonica. And it must have quality that can be opened to private research. That’s Berea. Do you have that kind of content? Can you present a message to this world and stand on your feet if the case needs it and defend that message biblically. Secondly, can you present such a message that sends them to the Scripture and find its defense there? … it behooves us to know the Book, to know the Book.

People that make a difference in the world, people who turn it upside down, people who affect this world, are people who know the Word of God. I believe that with all my heart. And are people who can stand on their feet eyeball-to-eyeball with people and defend what they believe and there are people who can take people where they’re at and say, “Here’s what I believe. You take it to the Scripture and let stand the test of Scripture and you’ll find it confirmed.” If you give men answers that you can defend on your feet and answers that you can defend through the Word of God, then you’ve given them answers.

MacArthur goes on to tell us how we can accomplish that in four steps:

If you’re gonna have content, one, confess and repent of all sin. That’s where you start. You don’t start by Bible study. You start by confession. You say, “Why?” 1 Peter 2:1, “Laying aside all malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking, as newborn babes, the desire the sincere mild of the word.” Before you can ever get into the Word to grow by it, you have to lay aside sin. Purify, that’s point one.

Two, study. You’ll never know the Bible. There’s no shortcut. There is absolute – believe me, if there’s a shortcut, I’d found it a long time ago. There’s none. Paul said to Timothy, “Study to show thy self approved unto God.” What does that mean? Be such a good student that God is excited about the fact that you know the truth.

You know the thing that haunts you all the time when you’re a preacher, when you’re a teacher? The fact that this is supposed to be approved by God, not by you. We can get away with murder with people. You can’t get away with anything with God. So one, purify, confess sin. Two, study. There’s no shortcut, absolutely none. Study the Word. Three, personalize the Word. What does that mean? Translate what is academic into your own life, into your own life.

The things that you’re gonna be effectively teaching other people are the things that you have learned by your own living, right? For me to put something on a piece of paper and teach it to you is one thing. For me to teach you what God has been doing in my life is something completely different.

“What do you mean by that?” Paul says, “Be renewed in your mind.” In Galatians and in Romans 12:2 he says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In other words, you know the word and it changes your life and you speak out of experience. So you confess sin. You learn the word and then you personalize it.

I’ll give you the last one. Share it. You say, “I’m gonna learn it and when I get it all learned, then I’m gonna come out of my room and say it.” So somebody, “Oh, that’s ridiculous.” You[‘ll] be talking about it as you’re learning it. There’s no better way to learn than to teach, right? We who teach find out that what we teach we learn.

Let us resolve to be more Berean in our Christian journey. Let us also learn from the Thessalonians who became the strong believers God wanted them to be.

Before I post the next entry of Forbidden Bible Verses, it is important to know where Paul and Silas went after they left Philippi.

The first half of Acts 17 is in the three-year Lectionary but needs explaining. The next post will be about Berea, so this one will be about their first stop in Thessalonica:

Paul and Silas in Thessalonica

17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews[a] were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

Philippi was to the north (see this map of Thrace). Paul and Silas — along with Timothy — travelled south (see map of Thrace, indicated by red dots) to Thessalonica, an important port city from ancient times to the present. Until the Second World War, Thessaloniki (present day name) always had a sizeable Jewish population.

John MacArthur describes Paul and Silas’s journey from Philippi (emphases mine):

When they had passed through Amphipolis, now that was 33 miles from Philippi, they went from Amphipolis to Apollonia that was 30 miles from Amphipolis. And then they went to Thessalonica, which was 37 miles from Apollonia, which was 30 miles from Amphipolis, which was 33 miles – and don’t you ever forget it – from Philippi.

What’s the significance of that? The significance of that is that they had minds set on Thessalonica. They probably stopped for the night in Apollonia and Amphipolis. If they went that way and did cover 30 miles a day and stayed overnight at those two places, which were perfect points – it is as some scholars tell us, evidence that Paul didn’t walk everywhere he went. He probably hired horses, which is an interesting thought. Nevertheless, they just stopped overnight at Amphipolis and Apllonia, likely, that isn’t in the text. That’s a likely conclusion. “And they came to Thessalonica.” Now, watch. “Where there was a synagogue of the Jews.”

As we have read so many times in Acts, every time Paul starts preaching in the local synagogue, he makes a lot of converts, then the Jews who disagree become angry and rile the Gentiles. The angry mob then persecutes Paul and, beginning in Acts 16, Silas.

MacArthur summarises the pertinent persecution points:

Every time he got near a synagogue, wham, he got it. And that’s right. He did.

Chapter 13, verse 6, they had gone to – they met a sorcerer. In verse 6 of chapter 13, the first place they went, the island of Cyprus, they met a sorcerer who was a Jew. Every time they got close to the Jews, they got persecuted and confrontation with Satan.

Go to verse 45. It says that when they came into the area of Galatia, the whole place came together to hear the word, verse 44, “When the Jews saw the multitudes filled with envy, spoke against these things as were spoken by Paul and contradicting and blaspheming.”

Look at verse 50. “The Jews stirred up the devout and honor of women. The chief thieves raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, expelled them out of their borders.

Chapter 14, verse 1. “They went to the synagogue of the Jews. There were some Jews who believed that just stirred up trouble.”

Verse 2. “The unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles.” They tried to stone them in verse 5. They fled in verse 6.

Go down to verse 19. They threw him out of the city of Lystra. Stoned them there. It was always the Jews, the Jews, the Jews, who persecuted Paul in his ministry.

The same thing happened in Philippi.

However, Paul always began his holy work in synagogues. He would not go near a pagan temple.

Note that Luke, the author of Acts, thought it was worth mentioning that prominent women of the city also converted (verse 4). Recall that Lydia, the purple goods merchant, was the first convert in Philippi. Therefore, women had considerable autonomy at this time.

A man named Jason was among the converts (verse 5) and, perversely, the angry Thessalonians ambushed his house (verse 6). MacArthur describes what happened. Satan was working through these miserable individuals:

Boy, I mean they turned the city up. They got a riot going all through town, they were crying in this blowtorch kind of oratory. “These men are seditious and they are revolutionaries,” and they got everybody all stirred up. Well, they knew they were staying with Jason – who must have been a new Christian there – and so it says, “They all assaulted the house of Jason.” Here comes the whole town, down to Jason’s house. “And they sought to bring them out to the people.” But you know what? God is so far ahead. Paul and Silas and Timothy are gone – they’re gone. And old Jason is there. Well, they didn’t find them, in verse 6 “And when they found him not, they drew Jason and certain brethren under the rulers of the city.”

So, they took Jason and the other Christians instead. “And they hauled them off.” You know, it’s amazing what Satan can do with lazy people. It’s amazing too, what the Lord can do with lazy people who get busy for Him. I was thinking that lazy people must have been a problem in Thessalonica. I don’t know if they had a welfare program or what there, but there was a lot of laziness. These guys were lazy, but later in, 2 Thessalonians 2, in verse 11, he says, “For we hear that there are some who walk among you, disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.” You know, some of the Christians were loafing around. I don’t know whether that was a common thing but Satan can always use laziness.

Poor Jason. He and the other Christians were accused of disloyalty to the Romans (verses 6, 7). That stirred up the authorities, in addition to the mob (verse 8). Everyone in the Roman world believed there was only one ruler: Caesar.

MacArthur reminds us of Pontius Pilate’s words to our Lord:

Remember Pilate questioned Him, “Are you a king?” And the Jews all cried out, “No, He’s not our king. We’ll have no king but Caesar.” Well, it was the whole issue of His Kingship, and here Paul had been preaching the Kingship of Jesus Christ, and so they grabbed on that, the same thing that the crowd used to execute Jesus, they were gonna use again, to execute Paul.

Jason had to pay a bond in order for him and the others to be left alone (verse 9):

Boy, that’s smart. You know, what they did, they made Jason come across with a bond, to guarantee that Paul and Silas and Timothy wouldn’t trouble them anymore. So, they had Jason on the spot.

Once again, Paul had to leave a newly established church. MacArthur explores Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians:

Paul reflected back on this, in 1 Thessalonians 2:17, he says, “We brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavor to more abundantly to see your face with great desire.” Paul says, I tried to come back and see you, but he says, “Satan hindered us.” This whole setup, with the security, the bond, guaranteed by Jason – and Jason did it for their sake – meant that there was never a way he could get back in there, as long as those magistrates were there.

So, the conflict came. Believe me, that’s a good thing. Conflict is a good thing. You know, that that wonderful little church in Thessalonica, became the best church, and probably one of the reasons was it existed in terrible persecution. Paul couldn’t even get back to see them. “We went to Berea” – and what happened there? – You say, certainly, those noble guys wouldn’t give him trouble. You’re right, they didn’t. But guess what? Verse 13, “The Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the Word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, and they came there also.” – and did the same thing. So, here comes a gang, 60 miles away, from Thessalonica, and they stirred up trouble.

Boy, Satan if he doesn’t have local people, he imports ’em. “And they dogged his steps.” Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, talks about how the “Jews have dogged his steps all his life. And they stirred up” – the word, stirred, at end of verse 13, is like a wind, shaking, just shook the whole city. Well, Paul had to leave again. You know, I really think, just as a little insight into Paul; I think was the low point in Paul’s life, up to point, as a Christian.

Let’s look at what happened to Paul’s entourage. In Philippi, he was with Luke, Silas and Timothy, but:

He had left Luke at Philippi.

That was so Luke could shepherd the church there.

The next post will be about Berea, where Paul left Silas and Timothy for a while to minister to the new church.

What follows are the Lectionary readings for Year B for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, with many familiar scriptural references.

Emphases mine below.

The first reading from Acts 4 concerns the imprisonment of Peter and John for preaching so powerfully at the temple in Jerusalem. This would have been shortly after the first Pentecost:

But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

The ever increasing number of converts angered the Sadducees.

Acts 4:5-12

4:5 The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem,

4:6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.

4:7 When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”

4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,

4:9 if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed,

4:10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.

4:11 This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’

4:12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

The Psalm is familiar to nearly everyone:

Psalm 23

23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;

23:3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.

23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.

The Epistle was written by John, the Gospel author. Note the theme of love but also the exhortation against sinning. John often referred to his converts as ‘little children’ because they were young in faith:

1 John 3:16-24

3:16 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us–and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.

3:17 How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

3:18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

3:19 And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him

3:20 whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

3:21 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God;

3:22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

3:23 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

3:24 All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

The Gospel reading is also well known, that of the Good Shepherd. Note the message of Gentiles — ‘other sheep’ — in verse 16:

John 10:11-18

10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

10:12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away–and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

10:13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.

10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,

10:15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.

10:16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

10:17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.

10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

Those last two verses are also important to remember. Errant clerics, agnostics and others often downplay or distort the power that God gave His Son.

I hope that everyone reading this has a blessed, happy Sunday.

Forbidden Bible Verses will appear soon.

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