Book on Divorce & Remarriage Released Today


     I was so busy putting weed barrier down for my landscaping this morning that I forgot to post about my book being released today. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who’s excited about this, but it doesn’t matter. Not many people want to read about the real possibility that our English translation of the Bible might have some flaws in it. I can only speak to the New Testament since that’s where I dig into the Greek translations. I’m not much for Hebrew. And Hebrew is far more susceptible to the whims of the person doing the translating than Greek.

     Translation is more subjective than you might think. The bottom line for this book is that patriarchal men of the sixteenth century set the standard for the English translation. The problem is that no one has challenged their interpretations. New versions of the Bible have changed some of the language to make it sound a little more contemporary. But few have strayed from the tenor of the men who gave us the King James Version.

     I think the texts about divorce and remarriage prove that biblical scholars need to give themselves permission to disagree with the decisions of a group of Englishmen in the sixteenth century. Jewish men of the first century could discard their wives for little or no good reason. Women had few ways to support themselves on their own. To suggest that Jesus believed a man shouldn’t marry a woman who had been discarded by her jerk husband is absurd.

     Clearly the sixteenth century translators were influenced and conditioned by a thousand years of the church’s use of the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible, created by Jerome in the fourth century). I have to leave it up to Latin scholars to determine if the improper interpretations started with Jerome or with KJ translators.

     But as I change the Greek into English today, I don’t come up with the same words as modern versions that replicate the KJV. Jesus was not a male chauvinist. He defended many groups of people who were treated unjustly. In the texts about divorce and remarriage, he was standing up for the fair treatment of women. It’s no wonder Jesus had devoted women who supported him and his ministry.

     I self-publish most of my books to keep the price down. Since most of you who read this blog are probably Lutheran, that’s important. The nice thing about this book is that it’s short and to the point. You’ll spend more for a cup of coffee than to learn how Jesus was not enforcing Jewish law, but denouncing it.

     So, if you go to Amazon you can order the book today!


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Making Sense of Divorce and Remarriage


     I think it’s important that when anyone reads the Bible that it should make sense. The Bible wasn’t written so that only biblical scholars or theologically trained ministers could understand it and then dumb it down for the layperson. There are too many things in the Bible that are not easy to make sense of. I suppose that’s called job security for clergy. But why is it not easier to understand? People read dozens of murder mysteries, romance novels, and self-help books every year. But few have every read the Bible in its entirety. Who wants to read something that leaves too many questions?

     So, what doesn’t make sense? Well, if Jesus was so compassionate, why did he quote patriarchal laws that inflict an injustice on women? Specifically, why did Jesus say if a man divorces his wife, he causes her to commit adultery? And why did he say a man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery? Has that ever made sense to you?

     Jewish law permitted a man to divorce his wife for ANY reason including if he was just tired of her or if she cooked a bad meal for him. The fact is, women had little means to support themselves in that culture. Why would Jesus be so cold as to declare a divorced woman off-limits to other Jewish men? I’ll tell you why.

     First, the translation from Greek to English (by King James’s translators) of comments made by Jesus prior to the ban on marrying divorced women are highly questionable. I’m not sure why no one has challenged them in four hundred years. You’ll just have to be the judge if my translations make more sense than the ones that have been reiterated by all revised and newer versions.

     Second, Jesus’s statement is being taken totally out of context. I explain these things, as well as three other comments by Jesus in Matthew and Mark about divorce and remarriage in my short book (available for preorder now) that is being released on Tuesday, April 18th.

     Let me pause and say that I am not declaring this to be an error in the Greek text. I think the Greek text makes perfect sense when translated according to a non-patriarchal nature of Jesus. I believe the problem is a translation into English issue, an interpretation perpetuated by a male-controlled religious tradition.  I believe that instead of endorsing unjust laws, Jesus was defending women who were being treated unfairly.

     So why have I spent any time trying to clarify this? I’m not divorced. And why should you care if you are not divorced or married to a divorced person? Protestant churches don’t refuse Holy Communion to divorced people (or to those who have married divorced persons). Even the Catholics are loosening up. Yet they are not completely there. Too many people are suffering emotional pain in the breakup of a marriage. They continue to be refused participation in the holy meal. That’s highly un-Christlike. And with the current rate of divorce, one day soon, someone you love will be affected.

     Without a clarification and correction of the text, technically we would be “going against the word of God” without providing literary justification. To do that would be declaring a teaching of Jesus as ignorable so we could do our own thing. (Even though compassion always trumps law, it’s easier to convince law-lovers if you have solid evidence.) But I suppose Christians are accustomed to picking the teachings they like and those they don’t like, you know, like turning the other cheek or loving our enemies.

     We don’t have to ignore Jesus’s teachings that refer to divorce and remarriage if we would simply recognize a misinterpretation and consider his statements in their context.  I wish I could boil it all down into a blog post, but it only took me fifty-three pages to do it in my book. Here are a few clips from my short book where I explain all the teachings of Jesus about divorce and remarriage:

     “Doesn’t this seem like an odd place to throw in a Jewish law about marriage, a law that does an injustice to women? Was Jesus telling the Pharisees that they should follow this law, or could it be that he was giving them an example of a law that was unfair? There were many prohibitions about whom a Jewish man could marry. Some of those laws prohibited Jewish men from marrying divorced women. In fact, one law required priests to divorce their wives if they were raped by another man.19 How compassionate or just is that?

     …Jesus was challenging them to elevate their compassion rather than to live by the letter of unjust laws. Women were in the chokehold of a male-dominated culture that cared more about rules than about compassion and justice. Yet the men considered themselves moral and righteous.

     …In summary, Jesus was giving an example of an unjust law that needed to be fixed or eliminated. He was not confirming it as a viable teaching. Neither mammon nor the law are more important than fair and compassionate treatment for those whom a male-dominated culture has demeaned and devalued—women, children, the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the outcast.”

© 2017, Paul W. Meier

     Until the church examines the teachings of Jesus about divorce and remarriage and corrects the translations to help them make sense, these unexplainable texts will be just another reason to ignore whatever we don’t like or understand in the Bible. And it will continue an outrage perpetuated by the Christian church for sixteen centuries. Help me get the word out. Since you can only order through Amazon, you can always return it and get your $2.99 back if you don’t agree. And if you think it might make sense, pass it along to your friends.

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What is Truth?


     Do people really want to know the truth? No. They want to be told the same thing over and over again. The more times they hear it, the more solid and secure they feel. When the truth is different from what they have been conditioned to think, they don’t want to hear the truth. Why? Because it messes with their false sense of reality. It shakes the ground they stand on. When the ground starts to tremble, fear starts clouding their objectivity and ability to reason.

     In his letter to Timothy, Paul says something about people only wanting to hear the things that tickle their ears. Nobody likes to hear new stuff. They like to hear the same old same old. That’s what tickles their ears. That’s why they keep going to church week after week, year after year, Lectionary cycle A through C, again and again and again.

     But Paul and the apostles had a new message that was upsetting the ears of people who do not like their truth shaken. The super religious wanted to keep hearing that the laws of Moses were their guide. They wanted to hear of a God who loved only them and wreaked vengeance upon their enemies. This is what they had been hearing for a thousand+ years. It tickled their ears to think they were more special than anyone in history.

     Paul ran into resistance everywhere he went because he started telling of a loving God who cared for Jews and Gentile alike, who was willing – not to kill their enemies – but to include them in the plan of salvation. That was not good news to the Jews. Paul was suggesting that Samaritans and Greeks and Egyptians were equal in the sight of God. How could that be the truth? No wonder he got the crap beat out of him so many times.

     Let me give you a current day example. If I make a statement like this: “The New Testament has not been translated into English according to what the Greek text says,” then the assumption that has been made about the Bible from the sixteenth century is being challenged. For some people the truth is that the Bible is inerrant. They think every word in Hebrew and Greek has a perfectly matching word in English. That’s their truth and it’s a foundation on which they stand. Other people give themselves a little more wiggle room, thinking correctly that sometimes it takes a couple of words to get across the meaning of a Greek word.

     There’s nothing wrong with people having a partial understanding (or no understanding) of a text in the Bible. There are a lot of things I still don’t understand. As long as what we read and understand helps us to grow into loving, generous, and kind people in the manner of Jesus, then there’s no problem. God loves Jews and Greeks and Egyptians and Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Taoists and Hindus, especially when they live in peace and love and harmony with each other.

     It’s when one’s truth serves to make him or her more special in the sight of God than someone else, that truth is tainted by pride and ego. And that’s the kind of truth that divides rather than unites.

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Divorce & Remarriage – A New Translation


     Why do I do this to myself? I don’t want to step in hot water or walk across hot coals or end up in an eternally hot place because I disagree with the Bible. But this is the deal: I don’t disagree with the writers of the New Testament. I disagree with the patriarchal men in the early seventeenth century who translated the Greek New Testament into English. We know them as the translators for King James. They gave us the Bible in English, and we have accepted their choices in translation as correct. I have yet to find a contemporary version of the New Testament that doesn’t go out of its way to agree with them in translating the Greek text. New versions simply convert King James terminology into contemporary language. I don’t call that translation. I call it rewording. You don’t even need a Greek text to reword something from English to English.

     I don’t know why I’m attracted to re-interpreting the Greek text. What a boring way to spend a day, right? Except when I find something that makes more sense and is more in line with Jesus and the image of God that I hold (i.e., God is Love), then I get goose bumps. I guess that’s why I keep doing it whether anyone reads it or not. Some people knit. Some people read romance novels. Some people watch Dancing with the Stars. I retranslate the New Testament.

     So what have I found? I’ve found that Jesus was a friend to abused wives. A defender of women who were wrongfully devalued and discarded by their husbands. I’ve made sense out of the texts in the Gospels where Jesus spoke about divorce and remarriage. Will anyone believe it? Probably not, but that’s the state of the church and religion. Men in the sixteenth century hold more sway over the policies of the church in the twenty-first century than a logical and compassionate sense of right and wrong. That may be why people are leaving the church.

     So I’ve written a short book. I looked at many books that were written about divorce and remarriage, some of them three hundred+ pages long. Many are written by compassionate, pastoral authors, trying to comfort and encourage wrongfully divorced women (and men). Their hearts are in the right place. Compassion trumps law. I love it.

     Except, they don’t have to explain away what was written by New Testament writers in order to comfort spouses who have been discarded by unjust partners. The Greek text makes sense and is compassionate. It’s the translation into English that is patriarchal.

     Let me qualify that and give some wiggle room for the translators for King James. They were influenced by a thousand years of the church using the Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Bible). One person in the fourth century, Jerome, was commissioned by the pope to gather the Greek and old Latin excerpts that had circulated and create one Latin translation that could be the official version. I will leave it up to Latin experts to determine whether Jerome was true to the Greek, or if his Latin translation influenced the next fifteen hundred years of policy about divorce and remarriage.

     Are you still awake?

     This is the bottom line: in fifty-five pages, I have explained what I believe the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke testify that Jesus said about divorce and remarriage. And it’s more compassionate, but a little anti-establishment, in its tone. It’s in an ebook that will be available from Amazon as of April 18th. It will cost a whole $2.99. And it will not disagree with Matthew, Mark, or Luke — it only disagrees with King James translators. By the way, it is available for pre-order and will be automatically delivered to your eReader on April 18.

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The Elephant in the Room

John 9:1-41

   Once there was a village where all the inhabitants were blind. One day, a man passed through riding an elephant. A group of the village men cried out asking the rider to let them touch the great beast, for although they had heard about elephants, they had never been close to one. Six of them were allowed to approach the animal, each being led to touch a different part. After a time, the rider left, and the blind men hurried back to the people to share their experience. “So what is an elephant like?” the people in the crowd asked their six friends. “Oh, I know all about elephants,” boasted the man who had touched the animal’s side. “He is long and tall, built like a thick wall.”

     “Nonsense!” shouted the man who had touched the elephant’s tusk. “He is rather short, smooth, rounded, and curved. I would compare an elephant to . . . well, let’s say a sword.” A third man, who had touched the ear, chimed in. “It’s nothing like a wall or sword. An elephant is like a gigantic leaf, made of thick wool carpet – that moves when you touch it.”

     “I disagree,” said the fourth man who had handled the trunk. “An elephant is much like a large snake.” The fifth man who had touched a leg of the great beast shouted his disapproval, “It’s plain to me than none of you knows what an elephant looks like. It is round and rough and reaches toward the heavens like a tree.” The sixth man who had been placed on the elephant’s back, cried out, “Can none of you accurately describe an elephant? He is like a gigantic moving mountain.”

     To this day, the argument has not been resolved, and the people of that village still have no idea what an elephant looks like.[1]

     Jesus told the Pharisees they were like the blind teaching the blind. An elephant walking into a community of blind people is very much like God walking into a Jewish synagogue in the first century. No one before this had ever seen God. But they had stories of other people who had experienced some kind of contact with God. Every person’s experience is their truth. Unfortunately, some people think only the experience of others is truth. They ignore their own experience.

     In John 9, Jesus was speaking to men who had spent their lives studying the word of Moses. These Pharisees believed they knew what the elephant looked like. But Jesus said, “If you say that you are blind, you have no sin. But now that you say we see (we understand), your sin remains.” Five times in the Gospel of John, Jesus told the Pharisees they didn’t know God. Yes, you may have studied and memorized the stories and commands of your scriptures, but you don’t know God. God was the elephant in the room. Jesus walked in, trying to reveal the true nature of God. Yet, the people staring at him were blind to a truth that didn’t match what they had been conditioned to believe.

     Jesus came, eating and conversing with sinners. Jesus said he didn’t come to condemn the world but to save it, and to give life in its abundance. What can a person logically understand about a God who would die so you can live? It’s hard for us to call that is being all-powerful or wise. But do we really know God?

     Nothing in life stays the same. Don’t you hate that? Even your image of God may have to change over time.

     Contemplating your own experience of the elephant is important. How have you experienced God for yourself? Are you still threatened by God based on the stories of others? Has God treated you the way the people before Jesus described the Creator? Or has God treated you the way Jesus is described? Have you been comforted by the image Jesus revealed? Have you felt peace because of it? Which image would be good news for you?

     Your experience is important. Your truth is important. You know how some people laughingly suggest that dog owners tend to look like their dogs after time, we always become like our truth. Stop depending on other people to tell you what the elephant looks like. Start meeting together with God on your own time. Meditate. Begin contemplating and trusting your experience of God in your life. Consider letting the image of God in Jesus Christ transform you into the beautiful person God intended you to be…then you just might become more like the elephant in the room.


[1] Adapted from “The Blind Men and the Elephant” in Speaking in Stories by William White, p. 78 (eSermons illustration).


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The Evil of Tradition


     Give me a minute to explain. It’s just a title, meant to get your attention. Tradition is not evil as in “wicked.” That’s the point. Some traditions are very good and some traditions are not so good. What does evil really mean when we read it in the Bible? In the NT, it arises from the Greek word ponēros. Thayer’s defines it as that which is full of labors, annoyances, hardshipsa. pressed and harassed by labors; b. bringing toils, annoyances, perils. Then it goes on to define it in terms of a bad nature or condition – leaving your imagination to deciding what that might be.

     When I learned the Aramaic word associated with evil, bisa, I came to a new understanding of ponēros that did not leave as much to the imagination.  Bisa is something that is unripe. It’s not fit for its intended purpose. It’s “not ready.” It’s out of rhythm with the right timing. Its roots point toward a sense of what delays or diverts us from advancing, as well as a sense of inner shame for not producing the right action at the right time (Neil Douglas-Klotz). The short ways of saying that are: unripe, corrupt (over-ripe or rotten), immature, a diversion.

     Now, every time I read the word “evil” in the Bible, I change its meaning to one of the Aramaic definitions. The teaching takes on new meaning and makes more sense to me. It removes the satanic or bad intention component from the context. But what does this have to do with tradition?

     Traditions are developed by other people in their unique contexts. Traditions are warm and comfortable. They give people stability because the unknown is removed from them. But some traditions are unripe. They bring hardships and annoyances to some people. For example, the tradition of Catholicism and many Protestant denominations to deny ordination to women. Or the traditions of demeaning people of color, religion, nationality, race, or sexual orientation. Interestingly, these traditions that divert us from expressing the goodness of God as seen in Jesus, as well as bring hardship and annoyances to certain groups of people are founded in the Bible. How do we deal with that?

     We do what Jesus taught.

     One of my favorite parables of Jesus is the one in Matthew 13 where he said the kingdom of heaven (the state of perfect order where everything is working together in harmony) is like a net cast into the sea. It collected some of everything and what was good they kept, but what was “bad” (sapros – corrupted by age and no longer fit for use, worn out), they threw out.

     Jesus compared that story to angels/messengers who would come at the end of the age (left up to your definition or imagination). They will separate what is corrupt (past its time) from what is useful. To make sure the corrupt doesn’t get in the way anymore, they burn it. Destroy it so it can never come back. And a lot of people will be very upset when they do that. Nobody likes to give up their traditions, even when they are hurting others.

     Jesus was no promoter of laws or traditions that were hurting others or disrupting the harmony that he was trying to bring among people. He followed traditions when they were ripe, suited for their purpose, and bringing goodness to people. But he fought against laws and traditions that were past their time. St. Peter followed by eliminating certain food laws that were restricting people and were no longer helpful. Paul eliminated circumcision.

     Maybe we ought to think about doing what Jesus suggested we do. Do a little more sorting out of the rotting laws that promote harm to certain groups and traditions that cause more hardship than good. That might help us love each other more so that we can work together in harmony.


John 4:5-42

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The Kingdom of God, Born Again, and Grace

John 3:1-17

          OMG. Why haven’t I noticed this until now? I’ve been preaching and writing about the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God for fifteen years. I even led a group on the kingdom of heaven this morning from my developing Bible study called Dry Bones: Breathing New Life Into Petrified Words In the Bible. Here’s the text:

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.”

          I just noticed that the story of Nicodemus and being “born again” was about the kingdom of God. This changes everything.

          You don’t have to be “born again” to go to Paradise when you die. The kingdom of God and Paradise are not the same. Not even close. I take a lot of time to explain it in ILC: The Kingdom of Heaven for Today. The quickest way to explain it here is to say that the Greek word basilea can be translated as “kingdom, reign, or rule.” The reign of a king or queen is the manner in which a ruler governs his or her territory or subjects. God’s reign is about all things working together with peace, order, harmony, unity, equality, and love. Our God doesn’t play favorites. God was revealed in Jesus Christ. God’s reign, i.e., the reign/kingdom of God, is one of unity empowered by unconditional love.

          Some who love the Jewish scriptures might be convinced that God is just, punishing those who need to be punished and rewarding those who deserve a reward. That’s very Jewish. But it has nothing to do with grace.

          This text is not about going to Paradise when you die. Baptism may assure people that they’ll  go to Paradise, but becoming a new person helps you to experience the reign of God in this life. It’s similar to metanoia. If you change the way you think, you automatically become a new person—assuming of course that you’ve been immersed in a pure/holy Spirit instead of a judging one.

          Those who do not change the way they think about God, not awakening to the evidence in Jesus Christ of a God of unconditional love, will not experience the reign of Love that can bring order and harmony into their lives. They will continue in judgment and trying to make sure everyone gets their due punishment. That’s a pretty thankless job but a lot of people choose it.

          Someone might point to the references to eternal life at the end of the text, but that’s a similar misunderstanding of the location of life in the same way the kingdom of heaven/God is not about Paradise. Bible commentators since the 1980’s have conceded that aionios zoa (eternal life) often means something different than living into eternity after you are dead. Their explanation is this: eternal life sometimes refers to the quality of life God can give you here on earth. Their words, not mine. Bible scholars. I’m not inventing this. And I can’t explain why few people hear this from the pulpit. But I will add that I believe it always refers to a special kind of life on this earth. I’ve got that explanation in an upcoming book, too.

          When you interpret the Scriptures with a view to improving your life and the lives of others in the world today rather than as a reference guide telling you how to get into Paradise after you are dead, it makes more sense. Unconditional love wins. Grace wins. Metanoia. Give it a try.

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Children’s Sermon on Forgiveness


Objects needed: pine cones or sweet gum seeds (any seeds with sharp points) for children to hold in their hands.

     Have any of you ever been hit by a friend? Maybe that friend wanted a toy you were playing with. Or maybe someone got angry because you happened to pick up a toy that was on the floor and you didn’t know that person wanted it. We are taught that it’s not a good thing to hurt anyone, but sometimes it happens.

     In our Bible lesson, we learned that we are supposed to forgive others. Sometimes that’s hard to do, isn’t it? We often don’t understand why a person would do something to hurt us. And so it hurts our feelings every time we think about what they did.

     I’m going to show you why it’s a really good thing to forgive someone who hurt you. Everybody take one of these pine cones and hold it in your hand. Be careful. The pine cone has prickly points all around it. If you squeeze it too tightly, those points will get into your skin and they will hurt! So hold the pine cones gently.

     The word forgive means “to let go.” It would be very easy to let go of a prickly pine cone—wouldn’t it? It would be easy because it hurts to hold onto it. The same thing is true when someone you thought you liked hits you. It hurts your feelings. It’s like holding onto a pine cone. Every time you think about them hurting you, it hurts again. So think of the pine cone like a bad memory. If you have a bad memory, and it keeps coming back and making you sad, say, “Go away bad memory. I’m letting you go. I don’t want you to keep hurting me. You’re just a silly pine cone.” Then throw it away. Do it every time the bad memory comes back. And then, it won’t be there to hurt you anymore.

     Let’s practice forgiving. Take your bad memory pine cones and throw them away in this trash can. Can you do that? Great.

Let’s practice forgiving. Take your bad memory pine cones and throw them away in this trash can. Can you do that? See – they can’t hurt you anymore!

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Personal Studies during Lent


     Many people like to use the time during Lent to make a personal attempt to grow in their spirit of love for God. I have developed two options using two books I’ve written that lend themselves to this kind of meditation. Both books (in their writing) made profound impacts on the way I think about Jesus, God, and my part in this journey of life. Take a look at the explanations of each book and see if either one of them could provide a means to your own growth of spirit this Lenten season:


     Look here for this book’s description.


     Go here for the study guide.




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     Look here for this book’s description.


     Go here for the study guide.

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Translation of Matt. 6:24-34


     Many of you know I’m re-translating the Gospels. Sometimes I’m simply putting in synonyms for English words, but sometimes I’m redefining them from the Greek. I am also correcting – yes, I say correcting – some of the grammar (usually in verb tense and voice) that has allowed for misinterpretation of what some of the original authors intended. It doesn’t matter whether you think it’s possible that fourth or sixteenth century translators made unintentional mistakes or not. I can substantiate every change I make. Yet it’s not my substantiation that is the real proof. The real proof is found by your heart in the recognition that it makes more sense and is in line with what Jesus taught and displayed.

     There is so much theological baggage attached to some words in the Bible that the practicality of its message is blurry. Why would anyone read a book that is not easy to understand? That’s why I’m writing a Bible study called Dry Bones: Breathing New Life into Petrified Words of the Bible. I hope it will be finished by June. The simple process of replacing an English word long used by the tradition with one of its synonyms can have an amazing effect on expanding and clarifying the meaning of a verse.

     This week’s lectionary text is about the transfiguration of Jesus in Matt. 17. I’m not there in my translation of Matthew, and it’s one of those texts that is not easily explained in this limited space of a blog. Instead, I’m going to give you my re-translation of an important text in the Sermon on the Mount that will not be part of this year’s lectionary since Lent starts a little earlier. My rendering of this text is subject to change until the day I publish my version of the Gospels. Until then, this is what I hear:

Matt. 6:24-34

     24 “No one is able to surrender to two masters because either he will slight the one and have a preference for the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. In no way are you able to submit to God and at the same time, to an unjust system of economics based in the accumulation of riches.j

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mammon. A system where the rich dominate the poor, using unequal weights and balances. No one starts on equal ground. Jesus came to proclaim a year of the Lord’s favor – a year of Jubilee – when all things are returned to balance.  “Mammon refers more to a system of meritocrity, of reward & punishment, of buying & selling; you get what you have a right to, you get what you deserve, you get what you’ve worked for.  It’s an economy of merit and achievement.” Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go.

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     25 “For this reason I am telling you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, how you will be clothed.  By no means! (not at all). The more excellent life is nourishment of the mind, and what is more excellence in the body is of the outer actions.k

     26 Fix your eyes on the birds of the air, how they sow nothing; and they don’t harvest nor accumulate into barns; yet your heavenly Father nourishes them. Are you not more important than they are? 27 Moreover, which of you by worrying is able to add one cubit to his height?

28 “And why do you worry about outer clothing? Examine closely the lilies of the field, how they increase: they don’t labor to exhaustion nor do they spin; 29 and yet I am telling you that even Solomon in all his splendor was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the vegetation of the field which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will not God clothe you much more abundantly, you who trust too little?

     31 “So never be anxious, saying, ‘What might we eat?’ or ‘What might we drink?’ or ‘How might we be clothed?’ 32 For all these things the multitudes seek diligently and your heavenly Father understands this of everyone. 33 Nevertheless, strive to secure first, perfect order and harmony and its purity of life, and all these things will be provided to you. 34 These things being so, don’t be distracted about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. The trouble of this day is enough.

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Is not the life more than food and the body more than clothing? is the traditional translation, and it makes good sense. However, following the Greek word definitions in the order they appear in the text, and making note of the metaphorical meanings of food and clothing, Jesus could be encouraging greater attention to spiritual development and the fruit of good works (the outer garment on the outside of people that others can see) produced by the body.

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(If you’re looking for a personal Bible study during the season of Lent, check out my suggestions for meditating on prayers based from the sermons of Martin Luther in his Church Postils.)

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