Sunday, September 29, 2013

Praise & the Honors of Men

A study & discussion in what the scriptures teach on the praise and honors of men.

What is Idolatry?

A family home evening lesson we discussed as a family.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Restoration vs. Infallibility

Another family home evening discussion after watching the PBS documentary on Martin Luther.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Testimony of Jesus

In Revelation 19:10, the angel speaks to John the Beloved as he attempts to worship this messenger:
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
So this angelic messenger or servant warns John not to worship him. We must only worship God. This reflects the first of the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:2-6)

Interestingly, the angel notes that he is a "fellowservant" of John's brethren who also have "the testimony of Jesus". This is interesting that there is an identifiable brotherhood or fellowship of individuals who have received this.

And the angel equates "the testimony of Jesus" with "the spirit of prophecy."

The scriptures teach us that this is a gift, and that the person who has received it is a prophet or prophetess:
…and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation; (Alma 9:21)
Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church. (D&C 107:92)
And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God. (Mosiah 8:16
So back to "the testimony of Jesus". What exactly is this?
First, notice the use of the definite article (“the”) at the beginning of that phrase. Why didn't the Lord simply say "a testimony of Jesus" or “their testimony of Jesus”? The phrase “their testimony” does occur a number of places in scripture and the phrase “a testimony” occurs many places, too. But neither is used here. The angel is referring to something different than these.

You could also ask what "of" means here. Does it mean "about", "regarding", or "concerning" like we commonly use it in English? Or could it mean something else?

Let's take a little side trip into other languages for a moment to see if we can gain any more light on this. If you a look at the closer-to-original Greek for Revelation 19:10 interlineated with English (from, we find that the word “of” itself is not explicitly in the Greek:

(Note, too, that the word translated as "testimony" also means "witness".)

What is highlighted is the masculine singular word “the” in the genitive case. The genitive case of a language (like Greek here) is normally used to show possession or belonging to something. Because we don't have this grammatical case in English, we typically render genitive in one of two ways: by inserting the preposition “of”, or by using a possessive form of the following genitive noun.

In other words, “of” could not mean “about” here. That is, the phrase could not mean a "testimony about Jesus". That would require a different Greek word.

Looking at the phrase “of Jesus” in the New Testament, it is apparent that the KJV very consistently & almost always uses “of” to signify possession and not “about”. (take a read through a bunch of them) But, one of those places where it doesn’t is Luke 7:3 ("And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews…"), where “of” clearly means “about”. Take a look at the Greek:

Here “of” does is explicitly in the Greek as a word (“peri”). No question it means “about” in the Greek. (and yes, it appears that the Greek preposition “peri” requires use of the genitive case—which has nothing to do with possession in this situation.)

So, back to our situation here then: the phrase could only be rendered as either “testimony/witness of the Jesus” or “Jesus’s testimony/witness”.

Either way, the testimony/witness belongs to Jesus. It is His testimony, not someone else’s. It is a testimony or a witness that He is giving of something. Of someone.

Of someone He is vouching for to Someone Else.

So, the phrase "the testimony of Jesus" in these scriptures has nothing to do with what we Latter-day Saints normally call a "testimony" of Jesus Christ. It is something very different. Something He is meant to give regarding you.

It gives a much different perspective to the critical verses in D&C 76:50-70 that describe those qualifying for a celestial glory:
And again we bear record—for we saw and heard.
And this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ
    concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—

They are they who received the testimony of Jesus,
    and believed on his name
    and were baptized after the manner of his burial,
    being buried in the water in his name,
    and this according to the commandment which He has given—
That by keeping the commandments they might
    be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and
    receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands
    of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise,
    which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
They are they who are the Church of the Firstborn.
They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
They are they who are priests and kings,
    who have received of his fulness,
    and of his glory;
And are priests of the Most High,
    after the Order of Melchizedek,
    which was after the Order of Enoch,
    which was after the Order of the Only Begotten Son.
Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods,
    even the sons of God—
Wherefore, all things are theirs,
    whether life or death,
    or things present, or things to come,
All are theirs and they are Christ’s,
    and Christ is God’s.
And they shall overcome all things.
Wherefore, let no man glory in man,
    but rather let him glory in God,
    who shall subdue all enemies under his feet.
These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.
These are they whom He shall bring with Him,
    when He shall come in the clouds of heaven
    to reign on the earth over his people.
These are they who shall have part in the first resurrection.
These are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just.
These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and
    unto the City of the Living God,
    the Heavenly Place,
    the holiest of all.
These are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels,
    to the general assembly and Church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn.
These are they whose names are written in heaven,
    where God and Christ are the judge of all.
These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,
    who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.
These are they whose bodies are celestial,
    whose glory is that of the sun,
    even the glory of God, the highest of all,
    whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.