Category Archives: Michael D. Rhodes

Revelation volume now in print

We are happy to announce that the hardcover print version of the book The Revelation of John the Apostledraperrhodesrevelation is now available for $29.99. It can be purchased through the BYU Studies website or by calling our office at 801-422-6691. The ebook is also available through the BYU Studies website in Kindle and Deseret Bookshelf app. If you have previously purchased the ebook, an update is now available through your vendor.

The book is 900 pages of commentary that explains the text phrase by phrase, using LDS doctrine and both LDS and non-LDS scholarship, going back to the original Greek. See Sample pages and the Table of Contents.

Others in this series are The Testimony of Luke by S. Kent Brown, which is available in print or ebook. The volume Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, by Richard Draper and Michael Rhodes, is available only in ebook at this time.

Witnesses of the Resurrection

 

by Michael D. Rhodes

In Paul’s first letter the Corinthians, he had to deal with the claim made by some of the members at Corinth that there was no resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:12). In response to this he refers to the fundamental principles of the Gospel that he had taught them: “that Christ died for our sins … that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).  Paul then refers to the many people who saw the resurrected Christ. He begins with Peter, whom he calls “Cephas” (1 Cor. 15:5), which was the leading Apostle’s nickname.[1] The next witnesses Paul mentions are “the twelve [apostles]” (1 Cor. 15:5).  The New Testament confirms his point describing several occasions where Christ appeared to the apostles shortly after his resurrection (see Matt. 28:9, 18; Luke 24:15, 36-50, John 20:19-23, 26-29; 21:4-23; Acts 1:3).

Paul then refers to an appearance of Christ  “to more than five hundred brothers and sisters[2] at one time, of whom most are still alive, although some have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:6, author’s translation). This remarkable appearance of Christ to such a large group of people is not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament. This appearance must have been similar to Christ’s appearance to the Nephites (3 Ne. 11:8–10), where men, women, and children were all present. It is notable that Paul states that most of these witnesses were still alive at the time of his writing, approximately 55 AD, more than twenty years after the event.

The next person Paul calls upon as a witness is James (1 Cor. 15:7). This is most likely James, the half-brother of Christ[3] and author of the Book of James, rather than one of the two original apostles named James.[4] Early Christian tradition maintains that it was Christ’s appearance to James that converted him.[5] James’ experience parallels rather closely the conversion of Paul himself. The event, in a revolutionary way, produced a strong conversion in both apostles.[6]

Paul then says that Christ was seen by “all the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:7). The word “apostle,” in this instance, seems to refer not only to the original members of the Twelve, whom Paul has already mentioned, but also to those who—like James, the brother of Christ; Jude; Barnabas; and perhaps others we do not know of—were ordained to the holy office of Apostle; those men who were charged with and set apart for bearing special witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As a final witness, Paul states, “last of all he was seen of me” (1 Cor. 15:9). The phrase “last of all,” should not be taken to mean that Paul saw himself as the last person who ever saw the risen Lord. He is rather saying that, on his list, he is the last witness he will mention. It is of note that Paul lists Peter as the first witness with himself as the last. In doing so, he ties both of them together. Of all these appearances, the most personal to Paul is, of course, Christ’s appearance to him. As President Howard W. Hunter noted:

“Thus Paul adds his personal witness, referring to his experience on the way to Damascus when he was suddenly changed from a persecutor to one of the greatest exponents. He refers to himself as ‘one born out of due time.’ . . . His dramatic change and conversion is used in his argument as the final point to prove the actual resurrection of Jesus. Paul was anxious that the saints would not only believe, but should never have the least doubt as to this basic fact upon which eternal life hinges.”[7]

Though Paul may have been able to mention more appearances of the Lord, he lists enough to defuse any idea that only a scattered few witnessed the event. Indeed, the Apostle presents “a formidable gallery of witnesses waiting to testify they that have seen [the Lord] alive.”[8] The appearance to more than five hundred Saints at one time—most of whom were still alive and could, therefore, verify the experience—was a tremendous witness to the reality of the Resurrection.

To Paul’s list of witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, Latter-day Saints also add the witness given in the Book of Mormon.  The resurrected Savior descended out of heaven and visited his faithful followers in the New World. During this visit, he taught them the gospel, healed the sick and gave blessings, instituted the sacrament, and called twelve disciples to lead the church in their land. These witnesses of the Savior provided the foundation for an era of unprecedented peace in that land.

 

 

[1] Danker, Frederick William, ed. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3d ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). 544. Cephas is the Greek rendering of כֵּיפָא (kēypā’), Aramaic for “the rock,” The English transliteration of the Apostle’s nickname “Peter” comes from the Greek πέτρος (petros), which is the masculine form of πέτρα (petra), “rock,” a designation the Savior gave the fisherman the first time they met (John 1:42). Identifying the importance of this title, the Joseph Smith Translation notes that the word has reference to a “seer stone,” thus, the nickname foreshadowed Simon’s eventual Church leadership as its Seer. See also Matt. 16:18; compare D&C 10:69; 33:13.

[2] The Greek noun ἀδελφοί (adelphoi), which the King James Version translates as “brethren,” can also include females, and is here better translated as “brothers and sisters.”

[3] Galatians 1:19.

[4] Matt. 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13.

[5] Bruce, F. F. Men and Movements in the Primitive Church (Exeter: Paternoster, 1979), 86–119; see also the study by Walter Schmithals, Paul and James, trans. Dorothea M. Barton (London: SCM Press, 1965). A pseudepigraphical account of this visit can be found in Gos. Heb. §7. Jerome, vir. ill, 2, also tells the story of such a meeting.

[6] Bruce, Men and Movements, 87; compare Archibald T Robertson., and Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. 2d ed. (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1958), 338.

[7] Howard W. Hunter, in CR, April 1969, 137.

[8] Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. (Louisville, Ky.: John Knox Press, 1997), 257. See also Fee, Gordon D. First Epistle of the Corinthians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 729–30.

1 Corinthians 11:1-3

This post is an excerpt from the ebook Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, by Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes. It will be available at this website on August 14, 2015.

Each verse is given first in the King James Version, and then in the BYU New Testament Commentary Rendition.

11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ  / Follow my example as I myself follow Christ’s example.

This verse should probably go with the previous chapter because it makes a very strong conclusion of the point Paul made there. In that section he noted his desire to be all things to all people in order to bring them to Christ (10:32–33). This sentence marks his request for his readers to do the same. He sincerely wanted them to be μίμηται (mimētai), which is very literally, “imitators” of him, the word denoting one who follows another as a model or example of proper behavior.[1]

11:2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things / Now I commend you because you remember me in everything.

The word “brethren,” ἀδελφοί (adelphoi), found in the KJV, is a later addition. The earliest manuscripts do not have it and, therefore, it is left out of our Rendition.

The verb ἐπαίνω (epainō), “praise, commend,” expresses admiration for something done
well. Paul commends his readers for doing two things: First, they remembered him “in all
things.” The plural passive verb μέμνησθε (memnēsthe), “remember,” denotes not only calling someone to mind but also responding to that memory in an appropriate manner. In this context, it likely refers to prayers the Saints offered in the Apostle’s behalf.[2]

11:2b and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you / and hold fast to the traditions just as I have passed them on to you:

The second item Paul praises them for is holding fast to Church traditions. Since Paul has been castigating many of his readers, it seems a bit odd that he would here commend them. Paul could be reaching out to his audience by softening his approach in an attempt to win them to his position. Though he had reached out to them before, it seems unlikely, however, that he is doing so here. Some early and medieval commentators felt that his words were ironic, if not sarcastic.[3] Again, that is unlikely. What is more likely comes from understanding Paul’s intent here. The noun παράδοσις (paradosis), translated as “ordinance” in the KJV, denotes both content and instructions that were passed down over time through authority. Hence, though the Church was still young, the best translation of the word, in this context, would be “traditions” to give it the necessary weight of authority.[4] The verb κατέχω (katechō) denotes “adhering firmly to convictions and traditions.” In their letter to Paul, it would seem that the Corinthian Saints expressed a willingness to follow what had become a tradition in many of the branches of the Church, and this was what Paul was commending them for. The particular tradition in focus was allowing women to participate in worship services. In their letter to him, however, they raised concerns about a new development and wanted his direction.[5]

11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of
the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God / But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.

Paul’s introduction, θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι (thelō de hymas eidenai), “But I want you to
understand,” ties what he is about to say to what he has already said. Though he commends them for what they have accepted, they need to clearly understand a point that they have missed. Therefore, the coordinating conjunction δέ (de) is translated adversatively as “but.”[6] In sum, they have accepted the tradition found in other branches of the Church that women have the right to prophetic speech, “but” (de) they have missed an important principle that has contributed to the present problem.[7]
With this sentence, Paul lays down the foundation on which he will build his argument.
In doing so, he uses a word play on the noun κεφαλή (kephalē), “head,” taking it in both its literal and metaphorical senses. Literally, it denotes that part of the body in which the brain is encased and that houses the organs of sight, sound, smell, and taste. As a metaphor, however, it has a whole range of meanings. For instance, it can stand for the whole person or for someone of higher or superior rank, such as a ruler or leader. Kephalē can denote one who has preeminence. In addition, it can refer to a source, such as the “head” of a river or the progenitor of a family. Because of the semantic range of the word, precisely translating Paul’s intent presents some difficulties. To keep the ambiguity, our Rendition follows the KJV and translates kephalē simply as “head.” Nonetheless, we have chosen to explore its possible meanings.
Paul’s initial use of the word kephalē is metaphorical. From the context he most likely
used the word to indicate the preeminent or foremost nature of the subject in each case.[8] The word “preeminence” denotes that which has the highest eminence or rank due to superlativeness and uniqueness. The word does not connote, as does the word “supremacy,” the idea of unequalled superiority such that there are no equals, nor does it connote domination or autocratic power, as does the word “ascendancy.” Rather, it points to that which is distinctive above all others and, thereby, commands respect and difference, like a citizen of the Roman Empire which Paul was. It does not necessarily refer to a leader or ruler, but designates anyone holding the position of prominence or superiority in a particular situation. One who is preeminent in one instance, therefore, may not be in another.
God has preeminence over Christ who has preeminence over all men. Men, in turn, have
preeminence over women in Paul’s metaphor.[9] There is an order in the Church, that is, a
hierarchy, that determines how some practices are done and by whom.[10]
In Christ’s Church, women, especially Jewish women, enjoyed freedom and place in
Church worship as never before. Though Jewish women attended worship services in the
synagogue, they were forbidden to pray, read scripture aloud, and preach.[11] It would appear that some of the more progressive Christian women, on the other hand, began pushing the boundaries of decorum and respect. Paul pushed back, insisting that tradition dictated that certain Jewish religious norms were yet to be observed during Christian worship services.

Analysis and Summary

By way of background, in the Greco-Roman world, due to a woman’s potential of bringing great shame to her family through improper behavior and especially sexual misconduct, “women were controlled, enclosed, and guarded.”[12] That dictated not only how they were to act in public but also what they wore. Further, in this society few, either man or woman, would have raised the question of equality. “No ancient Mediterranean man,” noted one scholar, “would have ever have thought that a woman could be his equal; only a man of similar education and social status could be. Only a man could be equal to a man, a woman to a woman.”[13] The social boundaries were not to be crossed without censure. Therefore, many in society were sensitive to the breaking of social strictures in attitude, decorum, or dress. To step outside of these was considered shameful, a condition no family or social group wanted its members to be in.

Within the Christian circle, from the time of the Savior’s ministry, women had a remarkable participatory role. That Christian women could participate directly in worship service shows how far Christianity had moved from Judaism. For example, during the formal worship at the synagogue, though wives likely sat with their husbands, other than saying “amen” to prayers, blessings, and invocations, they played no direct role.[14] They did not pray aloud, read or comment on scripture, give talks, or teach. Thus, Christianity, having women do all of these, gave them not only a greater participatory role unknown within Jewish culture but also more responsibility with its accompanying recognition of their importance. It also brought with it the possibility to push religious opportunities beyond their bounds. This epistle suggests some women did so by discarding their head coverings during worship service. In Roman and Hellenistic culture, the veil or hood was important because it gave a clear indication that the wearer was a person of status and respectability. There was a direct correlation between proper dress and personal success, enjoyment of public honor, and esteem by women within the general society. Most importantly, their apparel acted as a defense, showing that the woman was neither potentially nor actually available for sexual advances. According to the poet Ovid (43 BC–AD 18), who was viewed as scandalous by many contemporaries because he advocated sexual license, men should hunt women. In his poem Ars Amatoria, or the Art of Love, women who were “available” went out to places like the theater for the express purpose to see and be seen.

But there was more going on that likely concerned Paul far more than such social mores.

In the Christian circle, as with the man’s attire, the woman’s dress could give a very distracting signal in public worship. It was especially important that it not have any sexual overtones. For a woman to go with head uncovered made a bold statement that pushed beyond Jewish protocols and, at its core, was self-advertising. The act was dishonoring, at least in part, because it took the attention of the worshipper away from where it belonged, that is, on the Lord. Because the issues Paul addresses here, unlike those in most of this letter, are based so heavily on customs and attitudes of his day rather than on more universal norms, this portion of his epistle has little application for today. This point becomes especially evident when one understands precisely the matter Paul is addressing in this pericope. Otherwise, as the breadth of scholarship shows, one can easily get side tracked or read into it issues that are not there. Paul’s concern is with “any woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered.” This point is clearly made in 11:5–6, 10, 13, 15.



[1] Greek word identifications are from Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Ed. F. W. Danker. 3d English ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

[2] Louw-Nida §29.16.

[3] Thomas Aquinas, Super Ep. Pauli, 344, §584; Peter Lumbard in J.-P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Latina, 221 vols. (Paris: Garnier, 1844–64), 91:1629; Abrosiaster in Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiastorum Latinorum, 81:252. Compare Moffatt, First Epistle, 149.

[4] Among the Greek-speaking Jews, the word referred to the teachings of the rabbis. It therefore carried the idea of authority and, with Paul, it was a tacit reminder that his instructions originated with the Divine. Friedrich Büchsel, “παράδοσις,” in TDNT, 2:172–73.

[5] Hays, First Corinthians, 181–84, makes a very good case for this position.

[6] See Fee, First Epistle, 493, who follows the NRSV, NJB, and REB.

[7] Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, “Sex and Logic in 1 Corinthians 11:2–16,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 42 (1980): 483.

[8] Thiselton, First Epistle, 821.

[9] Some translations translate the noun anēr, “man” or “husband,” in the second clause as “husband” (for example, see NRSV), but the issue here seems to be with gender relations that transcend the narrow confines of the family circle and, therefore, the Rendition translates the word as “man,” following the majority of translations (see REB, NIV, NJB).

[10] This is true in the LDS Church today. See D&C 20:68; 28:13; 58:55; 107:84.

[11] Here Paul is definitely following Jewish tradition. In certain Hellenistic cult rites, women participated freely, and this may have influenced the attitude of some of the Christian women. Tomson, Paul and the Jewish Law, 133–34.

[12] Osiek and Blach, Families in the New Testament Times, 40–41.

[13] Osiek and Blach, Families in the New Testament Times, 40–41.

[14] Monique Susskind Goldberg, The Meḥitzah in the Synagogue, trans. Diana Villa (Jerusalem: Schechter Institution of Jewish Studies, 2004), 14–16. Tomson, Paul and the Jewish Law, 134, notes that women at this time may have been seated separately in some cases but such seating became standardized only the middle ages. Further, inscriptions exit that mention women as “leaders,” “elders,” and “mothers of the synagogue,” but it is very unlikely, especially in light of the Tannaim (t. Meg. 3:11), that women actually served in liturgical capacities.

A Message to the Latter-day Saints from the Book of Revelation

By Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes. This is the seventh in a series of articles extracted and edited from The Revelation of John the Apostle, volume fourteen in the Brigham Young University New Testament Commentary Series.

The real horror of the last days is not the locusts with their vicious scorpion tails or the horseman and their deadly mounts so vividly described in Revelation chapter 9. It is that there will be men and women who will live through the evil day and not be humbled, who will continue to cling to their gold and silver as though these lifeless and powerless things were gods. Thus, these people practice the most blatant form of idolatry—knowing the impotence of the works of their hands coupled with a refusal to admit their error and turn to the truth (Rev. 9:20-21).

And all this will “be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ” (D&C 77:13). The Second Coming does not usher in the millennial era. The woes pronounced by the trumpets in Revelation chapter 8 and 9 do. Let us emphasize, Christ will not appear in glory as the millennial day dawns. Instead, Satan’s inferno-created sadistic hoards and their murderous horses will (v. 18).

How long after the millennium begins will it take for the Lord to come? At the present time, “the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes” (D&C 49:7), but it will likely be sometime after the seventh seal is opened. During these last days, the faithful of God are to watch and wait, taking the time to fully prepare for what is to come. Continue reading

Revelation 1:6 and Priesthood

By Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes

Revelation 1:6 focuses on the end result of the resurrection and supremacy of the Lord: he is able to make his followers kings and priests unto God.[1] The seven servants mentioned twice in Revelation (1:4, 20) had apparently achieved these ranks and attendant blessings. They were not the only ones. “John said he was a king,” Joseph Smith reported.[2] The kingdom to which the Seer and the others belonged was to endure forever, and those who became members therein were, therefore, eternal heirs of glory. The reason was that these offices are an everlasting possession bestowed by the sealing power and authority of the high priesthood. Continue reading