Biblical Burns
The Art of the Insult According to Scripture

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Showing posts labelled Pauline Provocation. View all.
17th November 2015
“Their god is their stomach!”
- Paul
Philippians 3:19

Like Sinatra*, Paul's letter to the Philippians is short and frank. It’s also the book in which Paul swears.

In this section, though, Paul is lamenting how many people are focussed far more on earthly things than the cross of Christ…

* 1.72m is below average male height.

20th June 2015
“You are not that important.”
- Paul
Galatians 6:3 (NLT)

Paul had a habit of being wonderfully frank.

“If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”

Oh, the lessons we’d learn if we listened.

13th June 2015
“You need milk.”
- Probably Paul
Hebrews 5:12

The authorship of the letter to the Hebrews is unclear. Many people think Paul probably wrote it, but it’s all speculation, really. In any case, the writer sometimes lets his frustration show.

As the letter is intended primarily for the Hebrews, it has a lot to say about how Jesus fulfils the meaning of the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament). In Chapter 5, the author explains how Jesus is basically the ultimate High Priest (and since He’s finished the job, we don’t need priests any more). But when he finishes, the author turns his attention to the recipients:

“We have much to say about this,” he says, “but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.”

Then, if that wasn’t scathing enough, he continues:

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”

9th May 2015
“You white­washed wall!”
- Paul
Acts 23:3

Like Jesus, Paul was Jewish. He called himself “a Hebrew of Hebrews”[1]. He was even one of the Pharisees—a group of Jewish religious leaders that Jesus would regularly lambaste. So, understandably, he didn’t like Christians much—and by “didn’t like” I mean “heartily approved the murder of”.

But after a surprise visit from Jesus on the road to Damascus[2], he changed his tune a bit—and by “changed his tune” I mean “would not shut up about the good news of this Jesus guy, becoming the most influential evangelist in history, and writing a bunch of letters that now form a large chunk of the New Testament”.

It was this not-shutting-up that eventually got him dragged before the Sanhedrin—a kind of Jewish high court. When Paul begins to defend himself, claiming good conscience before God, the high priest has him struck on the mouth. Paul, never one to back down, retaliates:

“God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” (Whitewash was commonly used on mud-walls and tombs[3] to make them look nice—on the outside.)

The court is indignant: “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”

But now Paul is quick to apologise. You see, insulting the high priest was a big no-no for any Jew, even a Christian one.
   “Brothers,” Paul replies, “I did not realise that he was the high priest.”

Although, perhaps Paul’s apology contained more zing than his direct affront…

“There was nothing in the conduct of the man to betoken the dignity of his office. God’s High Priest must surely be fair and impartial. God’s High Priest would never counsel violence. The mistake, Paul would imply, was perfectly natural and excusable.”
- Marion D Shutter
A Side Note

The way that Paul gets out of the Sanhedrin trial is also genius. Read about it in Acts 23:5–11.

14th March 2015
“I wish those who unsettle and confuse you would go all the way and cut themselves off!”
- Paul
Galatians 5:12 (AMP)

The phrase “cut themselves off” takes on new meaning when you realise that the people Paul is here discussing are those who “preach circumcision”.

All the way.

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