Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians: New Rendition, 1 Cor. chapters 1-7

As Rendered by Michael D. Rhodes and Richard D. Draper. This text is available in Amazon Kindle and from Deseret Bookshelf at no charge. Further chapters will be added shortly.  

Salutation (1:1–3)

1 Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Brother Sosthenes, 2 to the Church of God that is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, who are called as Saints, together with all those who call upon the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in every place, their Lord as well as ours. 3 Grace to you and peace from our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving (1:4–9)

4 I am continually expressing gratitude to my God for you because of the grace of God which has been given to you in Christ Jesus, 5 that you have been enriched in everything through him, in all your speech and understanding, 6 in the same way that the testimony of Christ has been confirmed among you, 7 so that you do not fall short in any spiritual gift as you look forward to the revealing of our Lord, Jesus Christ, 8 who will also strengthen you until the end, so that you will be found blameless in the day of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Divisions and Factions in the Church (1:10–17)

10 I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to all speak with a united voice, and not allow any divisions to be among you, but to be completely unified in your thoughts and intentions. 11 For it has been brought to my attention by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you. 12 This is what I mean: some of you say, “I follow Paul,” others say “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Christ is certainly not divided! Surely Paul was not crucified for you, nor were you baptized in Paul’s name! 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that none of you can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Beyond that I do not recall if I baptized anyone else. 17 Because Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, without clever speaking, so that the cross of Christ would not be made ineffective.

The Foolish Wisdom of the Cross (1:18–25)

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are on their way to spiritual ruin, but to those of us who are on our way to salvation, it is the very power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the intelligence of the intelligent I will reject.” 20 Where is the sage? Where is the scriptural scholar? Where is one skilled in the philosophy of this world? Has not God shown the wisdom of the world to be foolishness? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world, by its wisdom, did not understand God, God resolved to save those who believe through the foolishness of preaching. 22 For Jews demand signs, and Greeks seek for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, an affront to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

God’s Choice of the Foolish (1:26 –31)

26 Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters. Not many of you are clever by human standards, not many are people of importance, not many are of high status. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to put the wise to shame, and God chose the weak things of the world so that he might put the powerful things to shame. 28 God chose the insignificant things of the world, and the things that are despised, things that are regarded as nothing, to nullify the things that are regarded as being something, 29 so that no one can boast in God’s presence. 30 It is because of him that you have a personal relationship with Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Paul’s Preaching of Christ to the Corinthians (2:1–5)

1 Now when I myself came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with eloquent speech or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the mystery of God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I appeared before you in weakness and fear and with considerable trepidation, 4 and my speaking and my preaching was not with the persuasiveness of wisdom, but with the convincing proof of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.

The True Wisdom of God (2:6– 8)

6 However, we do speak wisdom among the spiritually mature, but not the wisdom of this world or of the leaders of this present age who are doomed to perish. 7 But we speak God’s wisdom which is hidden in a mystery, which God foreordained for our glory before the world was, 8 which none of the leaders of this present age has understood, for if they had understood, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Intellectual versus Spiritual Understanding (2:9–16)

9 But as it is written: “That which neither eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into a person’s heart—all these things God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 But to us God has revealed them by the Spirit, for the Spirit fathoms all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For what human being understands human things except the human spirit that is in him? So too, no one understands the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which comes from God, so that we can understand the things which God has generously given to us; 13 which we also speak, not with words taught by human wisdom but those taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things by means of spiritual things. 14 But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, because they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But one who is spiritual discerns all things, but is himself discerned by no one. 16 For who knows the mind of the Lord so that he can advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Divisions in the Corinthian Church (3:1–9)

1 And yet, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. But even now you are still not ready, 3 because you are still under the influence of things of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and dissension among you, are you not under the influence of things of the flesh, and are you not behaving in a fleshly manner? 4 For whenever someone says, “I follow Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” are you not merely human? 5 Now what is Apollos? Or what is Paul? We are servants through whom you came to believe, even as the Lord assigned to each of us. 6 I did the planting, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. 7 So then neither the one who does the planting nor the one who does the watering matters, but rather God who causes the growth. 8 But he who does the planting and he who does the watering are united, and each will receive his own reward according to his own work. 9 For we are God’s coworkers, you are God’s field, God’s building.

Building the Church of God (3:10–15)

10 According to the grace that God has given me, like a skilled masterbuilder I have laid a foundation. Another is building upon it. But let each one pay close attention to how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than the one that has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 And if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clearly known, because it will be revealed by fire, and that very fire will test the kind of work each has done. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built upon the foundation survives the test, he will receive his reward. 15 If anyone’s work is consumed by the fire, he will suffer loss, but will himself be saved, but only as by fire.

God’s Temple (3:16 –17)

16 Don’t you understand that you are a temple of God and that God’s Spirit dwells within you? 17 If anyone tries to destroy God’s temple, God will destroy that person, for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple!

A Warning against Self-deception (3:18–20)

18 Let no one deceive himself. If any one of you thinks he is wise in the ways of this world, let him become a fool, so that he might become truly wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness from God’s point of view, for it is written, “He traps the wise in their own trickery,” 20 and further, “The Lord knows that the reasoning of the wise is futile.”

All Things Belong to the Saints (3:21–23)

21 Therefore, let no one boast in mankind, for everything belongs to you, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death, or the present or the future, everything belongs to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Faithfulness (4:1–5)

1 So people should consider us as assistants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. 2 In this case, moreover, what one looks for in a steward is that he is trustworthy. 3 But it is to me of little or no importance that I am judged by you or by any human tribunal, indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not conscious of any wrongdoing, but I have not been acquitted on account of that; it is the Lord who judges me. 5 So do not pass any judgment before the proper time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light things hidden in darkness and will disclose the motives of our hearts. Then each person will receive recognition from God.

Admonition against Pride  (4:6– 8)

6 Brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that by our example you might learn “not to go beyond what is written,” so that you will stop your prideful favoring of one person over another. 7 For who considers you superior? What do you have that you have not received? And if you have received it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 8 You already have enough! You are already rich! You have become kings without us! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we might rule with you.

The World’s Treatment of the Apostles (4:9–13)

9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display as the most insignificant of mortals, like men condemned to die, because we have become a universal spectacle, both to angels and to mortals. 10 We are fools on account of Christ, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are honored, we are despised. 11 Even until this present time we are hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, beaten and homeless. 12 We are worn out from working with our own hands. When we are insulted, we respond with kind words; when we are persecuted, we endure it patiently; 13 when we are defamed, we seek to reconcile. We have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of all people, even until this present time.

Admonition (4:14–17)

14 I am not writing these things to make you feel ashamed, but to admonish you as my own dear children. 15 For though you may have countless guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, because I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 Therefore I encourage you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, and he will help you remember the ways I conduct my life in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

Approaching Visit (4:18–21)

18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not going to come to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord is willing, and I will find out not what these arrogant people have been saying, but what they can actually do. 20 For the kingdom of God is not demonstrated by mere words, but by power. 21 What do you prefer? Should I come to you with a rod, or with love and in a spirit of gentleness?

The Incestuous Relationship (5:1– 8)

1 Now it is common knowledge that there is an illicit sexual relationship occurring among you, and such immorality is not even tolerated among the Gentiles—a man is having sexual relations with his stepmother. 2 And you are proud of yourselves! Shouldn’t you rather have been saddened and had the one who committed this act expelled from your midst? 3 For although I am physically absent, I am present in spirit, and as if I were present, I have already passed judgment 4 in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has perpetrated such a thing. When you have met together, and my spirit is present, then with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 hand over this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord. 6 Your pride is not a good thing. Don’t you understand that a little yeast can leaven a whole batch of dough? 7 Purge out the old yeast so you can become a new batch of dough, as indeed you are unleavened. For even Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. 8 And so let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of pure intent and truth.

Dealing with General Immorality (5:9–13)

9 I wrote to you in my (previous) letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. 10 By no means did I mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy or swindlers or idolaters, since you would then need to depart this world. 11 But I am now writing to you not to associate with anyone who is a member, who is sexually immoral or greedy or idolatrous or verbally abusive or a drunkard or a swindler. Don’t even eat with such a person. 12 For what business of mine is it to judge people outside the church? Isn’t it those within the church that you are supposed to judge? 13 Doesn’t God judge those outside the church? Drive out the wicked person from among you.

Lawsuits among Believers (6:1– 8)

1 If any of you have a legal dispute with another, how do you have the effrontery to bring yourselves to take the matter to court before unbelievers rather than before the saints? 2 Don’t you understand that the saints will judge the world? Now if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Don’t you understand that we will judge angels, to say nothing of things pertaining to daily life? 4 So if you have legal cases dealing with ordinary matters, should you bring it before judges who have no standing in the church? 5 I am saying this to your shame. Isn’t there a single person among you wise enough to settle a dispute between members? 6 Instead, one member sues another before an unbeliever! 7 Legal disputes against each other demonstrate that you have already lost from a moral perspective. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 But instead you yourselves wrong and cheat— and you do it to fellow members at that.

The Wicked Will Not Inherit the Kingdom of God (6:9–11)

9 Or don’t you understand that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t deceive yourselves; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who engage in homosexual acts, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor the verbally abusive, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And some of you used to be those sorts of sinners, but you have been washed and purified and made innocent in the name of the Lord Jesus and through the Spirit of our God.

Flee Sexual Immorality (6:12–20)

12 It is said, “I can do anything,” but not all things are beneficial. “I can do anything,” but I will not be controlled by anything. 13 “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food. But God will do away with them both.” The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 Now God both raised the Lord and will raise us through his power. 15 Don’t you understand that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I take the members of Christ and make them the members of a whore? Certainly not! 16 Don’t you understand the one who is joined together with a prostitute becomes one body, for it is said, “They shall become one flesh.” 17 But one who is joined with the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality! Any other sin that a person can commit is external to his body. But one who practices sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or don’t you understand that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit that is within you, which body you have received from God? Indeed, you are not your own, 20 for you were bought for a price. So glorify God with your own body.

The Mutual Obligations of Husband and Wife (7:1–9)

1 Now regarding that which you wrote saying: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 On the contrary, because of the numerous enticements for sexual misconduct, let each man have his own wife, and each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband grant conjugal rights to his wife, and likewise the wife conjugal rights to her husband. 4 A wife does not hold exclusive rights over her own body—her husband also has rights; neither does a husband hold exclusive rights over his own body—his wife also has rights. 5 Do not deprive each other of intimate relations, except perhaps by mutual agreement for a specified time, so that you can devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I’m telling you this as a concession, not as a command. 7 Now I wish everyone was like me, but each person has his own gift from God, one having one kind, another a different kind. 8 To the widowers and widows, I say it is good for them to remain even as I am. 9 However, if their desires become too strong, then they should get married, for it is better to get married than to be consumed by those desires.

Counsel on Husband and Wife Relationships (7:10–16)

10 To those who are married, I give this command—not I but the Lord— that a wife should not divorce her husband. 11 But if she does, she should remain single or become reconciled to her husband. Likewise, a husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say—I, not the Lord—if any brother has a wife who is not a believer, and she is willing to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 Also, if any woman has a husband who is not a believer, and he is willing to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For a man who is not a believer is sanctified by his believing wife, and a wife who is not a believer is sanctified by her believing husband, otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving spouse wants a divorce, then let the divorce take place. The believing husband or wife is not under bondage in such circumstances— God has called us to live in peace. 16 Wife, how do you know whether you might save your husband, and husband, how do you know whether you might save your wife?

Fulfilling Your Calling in the Church (7:17–24)

17 Nevertheless, let each person live as the Lord has assigned him and as God has called him. And I give this same instruction in all the churches. 18 If a man was circumcised when he was converted, he should not have that surgically altered to an uncircumcised state. Likewise, if a man was uncircumcised at his conversion, he should not get circumcised. 19 Circumcision is unimportant and uncircumcision is unimportant. What matters is keeping the commandments of God. 20 Let each person continue in the calling to which he or she was called. 21 If you were a slave when you were converted, don’t let that worry you. But if you can indeed obtain your freedom, then do so. 22 For whoever was a slave when converted is the Lord’s freedman, likewise whoever was free when converted is Christ’s slave. 23 You were all bought with a price. Don’t become slaves of human masters. 24 Brothers and sisters, in whatever situation you found yourself when you were converted, there you should continue with God at your side.

To the Unmarried (7:25–28)

25 Now concerning those who have not yet married, I do not have any commandment from the Lord, but I do give my opinion as one shown mercy by the Lord to be trustworthy. 26 Therefore, in view of the impending crisis, I think it is best for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you engaged? Don’t consider breaking the engagement. Has your engagement been broken? Don’t go looking for a wife. 28 But if you should marry, you are not committing a sin. And if an engaged woman marries, she is not committing a sin. But those who do marry will experience difficulties in this life, and I would like to spare you from those.

To Those in the Ministry (7:29–35)

29 But let me tell you, brethren, the time is short. So from now on, even those who have wives should be as though they had none. 30 Those who weep, should be as those who do not weep, those who rejoice should be as those who do not rejoice, those who buy should be as those who have no possessions, 31 and those who must deal with the world should not be completely occupied with it, for the way of life in this world is passing away. 32 But I would have you to be free from care. An unmarried man is concerned with the things of the Lord and how he might please him. 33 But a married man is concerned about the things of the world and how to please his wife, 34 and he is pulled in two directions. An unmarried woman, old or young, is concerned with the things of the Lord so that she might be holy both in body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned with the things of the world and how to please her husband. 35 Now I am telling you these things for your own benefit, not to hamper you, but to promote good order and undistracted service to the Lord.

Concerning Engaged Couples (7:36 –38)

36 If anyone thinks he is not treating his fiancée fairly, if she is past her prime, and he feels an obligation, let him do as he wants; he is not committing a sin. They should get married. 37 But one who stands firm in his heart, feeling no necessity, and complete freedom to choose, and has decided of his own volition to preserve his fiancée’s virginity, does well. 38 So one who marries his fiancée does well, but one who does not get married does better.

On Widows (7:39– 40)

39 A woman is bound in marriage as long as her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry whoever she wants, but only in the Lord. 40 However, in my opinion, she will be happier if she remains a widow, and I think that I have the Spirit of God.

Meat Offered to Idols (8:1–13)

1 Now concerning meat sacrificed to idols, we know that “We all have knowledge.” Knowledge makes people conceited, but love builds them up. 2 If someone thinks he has come to understand something, he does not yet understand as well as he ought to. 3 But if someone loves God, that person is acknowledged by him. 4 Returning to the topic of eating food sacrificed to idols, we know that “there is no such thing as an idol in the entire universe,” and “there is no God but one.” 5 Indeed, even if there are those who are called gods, whether in heaven or on the earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 6 Nevertheless, for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and in him we live; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and through whom we are. 7 But not everyone has this knowledge. And some having previously become accustomed to idols, still consider the food they eat as food offered to idols, and because their sense of right and wrong is weak, it is defiled. 8 Now food will not bring us closer to God. For if we eat it we are not any better off, and if we do not eat it, we are no worse off. 9 But be careful that your own liberty does not somehow become an obstacle for the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you, one who has knowledge, having a meal in an idol’s temple, since that person’s sense of right and wrong is weak, will he not be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11 So by your knowledge, a weak person is brought down to destruction, a brother or sister for whom Christ

According to Paul, how does one learn the things of God? (1 Corinthians 2:9–16)

by Richard D. Draper

Paul asked the question, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” The Apostle’s thought here aligns with a Greek proverb, “Like is known only by like” (Plato, Leg. 4.716c). Therefore, Paul’s statement should not be construed as addressing the issue of human duality—the tension between body and spirit and where the seat of thought or mind are—but rather to express, as one scholar put it, “our common experience of personal reality. At the human level, I alone know what I am thinking, and no one else, unless I choose to reveal my thoughts in the form of words. So also only God knows what God is about” (Gordon D. Fee, First Epistle of the Corinthians [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1987], 112). Humans left to their own devices can never know God’s mind and will. The Spirit, however, being one with God and being able to fathom the mind of God, can reveal “the things of God” to the loving, righteous soul. Again, Paul’s words underscore the need for continuous revelation.

The natural man, uninspired by the Spirit of God, simply cannot understand the things of God, and so he dismisses them as complete nonsense. Indeed, he cannot know them. The force of Paul’s phase is the absolute inability of the natural man to understand spiritual things. It is not because God has precluded him, but, tragically, because the natural man has incarcerated himself in a realm (the present world order where spiritual things cannot, no matter how hard he or others may try, be understood. The simple truth is that no one who is carnal or natural can understand, let alone see, God (see D&C 67:10). The reason is, as Paul states “because they are spiritually discerned.” The Greek verb he uses (anakrinō), means to carefully study a question, to examine, discern. It was also used in a legal context with the sense of to conduct a judicial hearing. The word “discern” works well because it carries the idea of being able to make appropriate ‘judgments’ about what God is doing in the world. The things of God, therefore, can only be judged— that is, examined or discerned—by those who possess the Spirit of God. Paul is well aware that the very essence of spirituality and the key that unlocks the door to understanding the things of God is love, especially love directed toward him (2:9). To those who fully love, the Father is willing to reveal the mysteries of his kingdom (see D&C 6:7, 11; 42:61–65), or as Paul describes them, “the deep things of God” (2:10).

Richard D. Draper

Adapted from Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, BYU Studies, 2010).

What do we know about the disunity that affected the Corinthian Christians? (1 Corinthians 1:10–17)

Richard D. Draper

While Paul labored in Ephesus, reports soon came to him that the troubles had again boiled up among the Saints. Either a Christian visitor or a local leader began to attack Paul and his teachings and was successful in leading a number of members away from the truth.

Paul had already faced opposition. By and large this came from the Judaizers, those rigorist Christians, mostly former Pharisees, who continued to insist that Christianity was a subset of Judaism and that the Saints had to obey the Mosaic law, albeit as interpreted by Messiah Jesus. The new attack, however, did not come from that source. It was grounded in a perversion of certain doctrines, chief among them the resurrection of the dead, but followed closely behind by the nature and importance of spiritual gifts and the propriety of eating food stuffs once offered as sacraments to idols.

The seat of the issue, however, came from just one problem—a number of the Saints continued to hold to some of the attitudes of the secular, immoral, materialistic, status-loving culture in which they lived. Because they did not give these up, they caused a devaluation of the universalism, including key truths and growing traditions, that the Church was promoting.

Exacerbating the problem was the lack of chapels where the Saints could meet together as a whole. At this period of time, they met, as noted above, in the more spacious homes of the wealthy. These homes, however, could not accommodate more than a couple dozen families. Therefore, a number of homes had to be used. When troubles developed, it was easy for the members to congregate with those who believed as they did while ostracizing those who did not. This condition allowed the fissures to widen, threatening the very foundation of the Church.

These problems sparked a response from Paul, who wrote a letter which has now become lost. In the lost epistle, it seems that Paul addressed specific concerns of the Saints and hoped his instruction would have settled these matters once and for all. Unfortunately, it did not, for there came another report to him “by them which are of the house Chloe” that the branches were further fracturing (1:11). Sometime in AD 55, the Apostle wrote this epistle, now preserved as 1 Corinthians.

Paul is clear that a major cause of his writing was the report of “Chloe’s people” that is, her business agents or managerial servants who oversaw her affairs at Ephesus and other ports. These brought word that conditions had worsened to the point that there were “quarrels” among the Saints (1:11). But there was another impetus, namely that of at least one letter he had received from branch members (see 7:1). It is likely that chapters 1–6 are a response to problems mentioned by Chloe’s people while chapters 7–16 respond to items in the letter.94 Given the organization of the letter, one thing seems sure: Paul organized his thoughts to meet all the concerns with memorable force.

Material adapted from Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, BYU Studies, 2010) in the BYU New Testament Commentary Series.

Paul’s Use of the Word “Grace”

This text is chapter five of Relational Grace: The Reciprocal and Binding Covenant of Charis, by Brent J. Schmidt. The book is available free as a PDF, or for $21.95 as a print on demand book from BYU Studies. 

About the book:

In ancient Greece and Rome, charis was a system in which one person gave something of value to another, and the receiver gave service, thanks, and lesser value back to the giver. It was the word used to describe familial gifts, gifts between friends, gifts between kings and servants, and gifts to and from the gods. In Rome, these reciprocal transactions became the patron-client system.

Charis (grace) is the word New Testament authors, especially Paul, sometimes used to explain Christ’s gift to people. But what is the nature of the gift? Since the fifth century, a number of Christian scholars have taught that grace is something bestowed by God freely, with little or nothing required in return. This book sets out to show that “free grace” is not what Paul and others intended. Continue reading

What Does the Phrase “Wisdom of Words” Found in 1 Corinthians 1:17 Mean?

By Richard D. Draper. Adapted from Richard D. Draper and Michael Rhodes, Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

Generally, the word translated “wisdom” (sophia) carried a very positive meaning denoting the capacity to understand and, thereby, act wisely. It also denoted knowledge that makes possible skillful activity or performance, and the accumulated philosophic, scientific, and experiential learning that includes an ability to discern essential relationships of people and things. It connoted a profound understanding of such human endeavors as philosophy, literature, and art. Though generally positive in meaning, it also connoted that which was bound to the mortal plane. Of greater concern for Paul was that it promoted worldly values. This is the sense in which Paul took it. Therefore, Paul’s phrase “wisdom of words” could be translated “cleverness in speaking,” but carrying the nuance of “manipulative rhetoric” or “tricks of speech” as used by the Sophists to beguile and catch hearers.

Ruins of the Temple of Apollo at Corinth, Greece.

The Apostle had already determined he would not use his skill as a rhetorician, though that would likely have appealed to the Corinthian mindset and may have given him a good hearing. But, as he said, he came “not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (2:1–2). Paul fully understood that it would not do to “market the gospel as a consumer commodity designed to please the hearers and to win their approval,” one scholar noted. “Whether such a strategy would have been successful, the nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ excluded its being treated as a market commodity tailored to the tastes and desires of market consumers.”[1] To have made it common or even popular would have exposed it to the will and capriciousness of the people. The result would have emptied it of its essence and stripped it of its power, a power manifest in the transforming of the human soul through the grace of Christ Jesus. No, no alteration of the message or compromise of the doctrine would do for popularity’s sake.

History has shown that the wisdom of men has failed to bring people to a united understanding of God. “The fact is,” stated President George Albert Smith, “the world through their wisdom know not God, and have lost sight of and forgotten the simplicity of our fathers, and the plainness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”[2] The truth is that it does not take a great intellect or deep training to understand either the Godhead or the Gospel. Therefore, the “weak things” are very capable of understanding and explaining both.

[1] Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans), 21.

[2] Journal of Discourses, 3:25.

How Paul Came to Corinth: Acts 18

This text is excerpted from Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, pages 18, 22-25.

How Paul Came to Corinth

During the year AD 50, Paul and his companion Silas (Σιλουανός, Silouanos) revisited the cities where he had proselyted during his first mission. He then decided to push further into Asia Minor. The Spirit prompted him not to head north, so he headed west instead. At Troas, the Lord opened a vision to Paul. In it, “there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:9). Paul immediately made arrangements to pass over to Greece and began his work there. Within a year, he had established branches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. He then headed south to Athens.

If he thought the old capital of Achaia would produce a rich harvest, he was wrong. Athens had become a counterculture to Corinth. The once-vibrant community had stagnated. Indeed, it had become an old, decrepit, even sick city, no longer sustaining a productive and creative citizenry. Though once a bustling university town, its academic acumen had fallen, and such places as Paul’s home town of Tarsus and the up-and-coming Corinth had eclipsed it. Too staid and conservative to open its doors to new ideas, it was not a place where the Church could get any root. Little wonder Paul looked to Corinth as a more strategic center for the preaching of the gospel and as a European base for the new Church.[1] An added value was that success in this city could give the Church a good deal of cachet. As one scholar has noted, “The bustling emporium was no place for the gullible or timid; only the tough survived. What better advertisement for the power of the gospel could there be than to make converts of the pre-occupied and skeptical inhabitants of such a materialistic environment.”[2]

Here he was joined by his two companions, Silas and Timothy, and began his work.

Paul’s Social and Economic Status

Paul’s eighteen-month stay in Corinth began about March AD 50 and lasted until late September or early October AD 51.[3] The length of his stay suggests that the work went very well. Of great assistance was the hospitality of Aquila and Priscilla, two Jews already converted to Christianity. They had been forced from their home in Rome by the edict of Claudius Caesar in AD 49 that banished all Jews from the city due to contentions between them and the Christians.[4] It makes sense that these two would find their way to the Roman colony of Corinth where they once more set up shop. Though the KJV calls them “tentmakers,” the Greek word (σκηνοποιός, skēnopoios, Acts 18:3) denotes much more than tent making. It included labors dealing with animal hides and weaving hair and wool, but more particularly making leather products. Their goods could also include items for theaters and temples.[5] Thus, there was an ever-ready market for products that people with such skills could produce, and these two Jews seem to have had no trouble setting up shop and hiring laborers. Being good at the trade and a fellow Christian, Paul was readily hired.

The job helped Paul promote missionary work. As people came into the shop to purchase items or have odd jobs done, the Apostle could readily engage them in conversation and turn the topic to religion. But there was a downside to his employment. Many of the prestige-conscious Corinthians would not have been drawn to one engaged in such a menial trade. Indeed, Paul condemned some Christians for feeling smugly superior to him. He complained that they felt honorable while despising Paul and others who “labour, working with our own hands.” He was quick to note the true Christian’s proper if humble response: “being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (4:12–13).[6]

Some among the Christians would likely have preferred that Paul use his considerable skills as an orator to join the ranks of the ever-popular and highly respected sophists who generated a good deal of money and acclaim due to their speaking skills.[7] Instead, he chose to be a day laborer and for good reason. He could not afford to cheapen the word of God for self- aggrandizement even if it meant that he would not draw as many hearers from the pagans or find more acceptance from the socially conscious Christians. He adopted instead “a communicative strategy entirely at odds with the confident self-promotion of the sophist or pragmatic rhetoricism who played to the gallery.”[8] This may have forced him to spend more time making a living than he would have liked,[9] but it served to foster the correct attitude about the gospel and its message. His hope in Christ, and, ideally, that of all other Christians, should not be in gaining status in the world but pleasing God. The gospel was not about fame or power but self-sacrifice and service. It was not about finding place in this transitory, capricious, and short-lived world but finding place with God in the eternal world to come. It was not about competition leading to self-accrued glory but assisting others to a higher quality of life both in this world and the next. Pride, or as Paul calls it, being “puffed up” (4:18–19), had no place in Christ’s kingdom. Rather, the Saint needed to generate that humility that looked after and cared for others as much as self.

As a result, the gospel did not attract many of the upper class. It would be wrong, however, to view the early Corinthian Church as entirely made up of peasants and slaves.[10] Indeed, there seem to have been a number of men and women of means who were attracted to the gospel. Among these would have been Aquila, Priscilla, Erastus, Phoebe, Gaius, Stephanas, Crispus, and Quartus, all friends of Paul. Thus, the socioeconomic station of the Saints seems to have been rather mixed and produced some stratification between the “haves” and “have nots.”[11] The wealthy and well-born would have had a disproportionate influence. Paul had to fight against this by reminding the Saints that “the body is not one member but many,” and, therefore, the foot is as valuable as the hand and the ear as valuable as the eye. Indeed, “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, . . . and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (12:13–16). He further admonished them to remember that they “are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (3:16).

Paul left Corinth having had much success. Indeed, the branches there were thriving and vibrant at the time, and the work was moving apace among all socioeconomic classes. The Apostle’s choice of Corinth as the strategic center of his missionary efforts to the west had proved well founded. Even so, the Church was young and still trying to find its way as it moved into pagan lands. Its primary task was to determine what it could accept and what it had to reject among the various societies in which it was growing. As a result, Paul continually kept track of happenings there and gave the Saints instructions through a series of letters. The one covered in this volume is the earlier of the two that have been preserved.

[1] Murphy-O’Connor, Paul, 108–9.

[2] Murphy-O’Connor, Paul, 109.

[3] The dating of Paul’s mission was greatly assisted by the discoveries of the Delphic letter of Claudius in relation to Lucius Junius Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia during Paul’s time at Corinth (see herein 18:12–17). The letter puts Gallio in Corinth not earlier than AD 51 or later than AD 53 with the earlier date being the better. See Murphy-O’Connor, Paul, 16–21.

[4] Suetonius, Life of Claudius 25.4, notes that the edict led to the expulsion of the Jews impulsore chresto, “on account of Chresto,” likely contentions between Jews and Christians over a person Suetonius identified as Chresto. Most scholars believe the word refers to Jesus since due to iotacism, Χρηστός (Chrēstos) and Χριστός (Christos) would have been pronounced the same, Christos. Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 37. See also F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit (Exeter: Paternoster, 1977), 250–51, 381.

[5] BDAG, 928–29. Tents were made of cilicium (woven goat hair), the name coming from the province in which Tarsus, Paul’s home town, was found. Patristic writers used the word interchangeably with σκυτοτόμοι (scytotomoi), “leather workers.” See Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 40.

[6] See Ronald F. Hock, The Social Context of Paul’s Ministry: Tentmaking and Apostleship (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980); and especially Ronald F. Hock, “The Workshop as a Social Setting for Paul’s Missionary Preaching,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 41 (1979): 438–50.

[7] See Michael A. Bullmore, St. Paul’s Theology of Rhetorical Style: An Examination of 1 Cor. 2:1–5 in Light of First-Century Greco-Roman Rhetorical Culture (San Francisco: International Scholars Publication, 1995), 212–13.

[8] Thiselton, First Epistle, 22.

[9] Paul speaks of his hard work as a laborer (4:11–12; 9:6; 1 Thes. 2:9; 2 Thes. 3:7–8; 2 Cor. 11:27). There is little doubt that he did not live high but the idea put forth by Justin J. Meggitt, Paul, Poverty and Survival (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1998), 75–97, that Paul frequently labored under extreme and harsh conditions, destitute perhaps to near starvation, seems too strong. His life was not easy, but he had good skills and many friends who supported him in his work. See Murphy-O’Connor, Paul, 117–18, 261–67, for counterbalance.

[10] This is the picture developed by Adolf Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, trans. Lionel Strachan, rev. ed. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1927), 144.

[11] Gerd Theissen, The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth, trans. John H. Schütz (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), 69–75.

The Last Meeting in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36–49)

This post is extracted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown. It contains the New Rendition, Analysis, and Notes for these verses. Also compare Matt. 28:16–20; Mark 16:14–18; John 20:19–30.

New Rendition

36 While they spoke these things, he stood in the middle of them and said to them, “Peace be to you.” 37 And being alarmed and afraid, they thought they were seeing a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts spring up in your heart? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that I am he. Handle me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see me have.” 40 And saying this, he showed them his hands and feet.

41 But while they were still disbelieving from joy and marveling, he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat here?” 42 And they gave him a piece of a cooked fish. 43 And taking it, he ate before them. 44 And he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that it is necessary that everything written in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms concerning me be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 And he said to them,

“Thus it is written that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you. But you remain in the city until you be clothed with power from on high.” Continue reading

On the Cross (Luke 23:34–38)

By S. Kent Brown. This is an extract from The Testimony of Luke. For this reading, compare Matt. 27:37–43; Mark 15:26–32; John 19:19–27.

New Rendition

34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And dividing his garments, they cast lots. 35 And the people stood watching. And also the leaders kept sneering, saying, “Others he saved. Let him save himself, if he is the Christ, the chosen one of God.” 36 And the solders coming to him, ridiculed him, bringing vinegar to him, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 And there was also a writing above him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

Analysis

The Joseph Smith Translation’s stunning addition to the Savior’s plea for forgiveness in 23:34, which forms the heart of these verses because of the abuse that he receives—“Meaning the soldiers who crucified him” ( JST 23:35)—pushes forward the issue whether certain wicked acts can be forgiven. To be sure, some cannot, such as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (see 12:10; D&C 132:27). But what about other serious sins? Are there limits to divine mercy? Are there bounds to celestial clemency? In response, we notice that, in the only existing sample of the Savior’s intercessional language in modern scripture, he limits his appeal to his Father, seeking the Father’s graciousness only for those who “believe on my name,” begging him to “spare these . . . that they may . . . have everlasting life” (D&C 45:5). This engaging framework fits snugly with other passages from latter- day scripture that set out a limit to salvation—only for those who believe and repent (see 2 Ne. 2:6–7; Mosiah 3:17–19; Alma 12:15; D&C 29:43–44; etc.). Why? Because saving the wicked, particularly those who “have willfully rebelled against God . . . and would not keep [the commandments of God]” cuts across God’s justice: “salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such” (Mosiah 15:26–27). Continue reading

At the Place of Suffering (Luke 22:39– 46)

Extracted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown. On this section, compare Matt. 26:36–46; Mark 14:32–42.

New Rendition

39 And coming out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples also followed him. 40 And when he was at the place, he said to them, “Pray that you do not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them as far as a stone’s throw. And kneeling down he prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you will, remove this cup from me. However, let not my will, but yours be done.” 43 And an angel from heaven was seen by him, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more intently; and his sweat became like thick drops of blood falling down upon the ground. 45 And rising from prayer and coming to the disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. 46 And he said to them “Why do you sleep? Arise, pray that you not enter into temptation.”

Analysis

At last the Savior comes to “the hour” (22:14).[1] Throughout his ministry, he speaks openly and often to the Twelve and to others about the approach of this decisive climax (see the Notes on 9:22; 12:50; 17:25; 22:15). Now the eleven Apostles become its only witnesses,[2] perhaps aided by the memory of the unidentified young man (see Mark 14:51–52). But even the Apostles miss most of what happens because they sleep. In all, the most comprehensive account lies in the Gospel of Mark (see Mark 14:32–42).[3] Luke’s report is more  spare but holds the most graphic of descriptions: Jesus’ suffering causes him to bleed through the pores of his skin. This spilling of his own blood, occurring metaphorically in the heavenly sanctuary, “the holy place,” brings about the new covenant and its associated blessing of an “eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:12–15).

Through his divine foresight, Jesus anticipates the shocking intensity of what is coming and admits his anxiety about it all (see the Note on 12:50; also John 12:27; 18:11).[4] But by the time he climbs from Jericho to the capital city, he shows his now settled resolve to face his suffering by pushing the pace up the hill (see the Note on 19:28). However, even his divine foresight and resolve do not fully prepare him for what crashes down on him at Gethsemane—our sins on a sinless man, our wickedness on a righteous person, our guilt on an innocent soul, all of this in addition to paying the price for the transgression of Adam and Eve—“In all their afflictions [the Savior] was afflicted” (D&C 133:53; see Rom. 5:12–17; 1 Cor. 15:21–22; Alma 7:11–12).

When the moment of his suffering arrives in its fiery fury, his first reflex is to push it away; his first temptation is to escape: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me” (22:42). Again and again he begs his Father for a way out (see the Notes on 22:41–42).[5] As the other accounts illustrate through their verbs of repetition, he moves from standing to kneeling to standing again in an effort to diminish the awful anguish, to blunt the piercing pain (see Matt. 26:39; Mark 14:35). As his repeated visits to the Apostles (see Matt. 26:40, 43, 45; Mark 14:37, 40, 41) and as the additions to the Joseph Smith Translation illustrate (see JST Matt. 26:43; JST Mark 14:47), his suffering lasts most of the night.

But does the Savior bleed? At this point, all students of the New Testament Gospels have to make a decision: are verses 43 and 44 genuine? That is, does the angel really come and does Jesus bleed as if he is sweating? For many, these verses represent at best an independent and somewhat dubious Christian tradition that a scribe adds to a manuscript because, as theorized, Luke does not include enough about Jesus’ suffering.[6] For others, these verses are genuine.[7] For still others, these verses preserve “the most precious” of incidents from all the Gospels.[8] For Latter-day Saints, Jesus’ bleeding in Gethsemane is a fact (where else might Jesus bleed in this manner if not in Gethsemane?). It is as Luke describes and as the Risen Savior affirms: like sweat, the blood runs from “every pore” in his body. But this is not all. In the Savior’s own words, the searing “suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18). Not surprisingly, prophecy captures this monumental moment: “behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7). In this poignant light, we conclude that verse 44 preserves a genuine record of Jesus’ suffering.

But what about verse 43, which pictures the arrival of “an angel . . . from heaven, strengthening [ Jesus]”? The early Christian authors Justin and Irenaeus, when referring to this scene, draw attention only to the bleeding and not to the appearance of the angel. But this omission simply represents an oversight because Justin is writing about Jesus’ sufferings and Irenaeus is treating Jesus’ human nature.[9] In the case of Tatian, he includes the notice of the angel.[10] Importantly, both verse 43 and verse 44 stand together in all the manuscripts that carry them. Hence, it seems impossible to separate the two. Thus the account of the angel’s appearance is to remain with the report of Jesus’ bleeding.

For any who hold that 22:43–44 forms an insertion into Luke’s narrative and that this insertion shows Luke to be emphasizing Jesus’ prayers in contrast to his suffering,[11] we simply turn to the multitude of references where Jesus prophetically tells his closest followers that he will suffer and die (see the Note on 22:15). To be sure, if we set verses 43 and 44 aside, Mark and Matthew report much more about Jesus’ suffering, although they write nothing about answers to Jesus’ prayers except Jesus’ reference to the Father sending “more than twelve legions of angels” if only Jesus will ask (see Matt. 26:53). But when we accept these two verses as authentic, then we plainly see the underlying themes of God’s initiative in answering prayers and of Jesus’ suffering as fulfilled prophecy.

One further observation. When we think of Jesus bleeding into his clothing from “every pore,” staining thoroughly at least his inner garments, we recall the scene sketched in Isaiah 63:1–3 of the one who “cometh . . . with dyed garments . . . [and is] red in [his] apparel” and treads “the winepress alone.” This adds a significant coloration to the “coming one” of John the Baptist’s prophecy. Jesus’ coming to this moment fulfills older and deeper prophecy (see 13:35; Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:7; Acts 13:25; Mal. 3:1; Mosiah 3:9; D&C 29:11; 88:106; 133:2, 10, 17, 19, 66; the Notes on 3:16; 19:38; 20:16; 21:8, 27; the Analysis on 3:7–20 and 19:28–40).[12]

Notes

22:39 he came out: As in 21:37, Jesus exits the city. He doubtless leaves before midnight because continuing the Passover meal after midnight is forbidden and renders participants unclean.[13] When he returns, he will come back as a prisoner (see 22:54).

as he was wont: Jesus’ customary travel route takes him out of the east side of the city to the Mount of Olives rather than in another direction. Luke seems to indicate that Jesus regularly comes this way. Other reports intimate that Jesus stays in Bethany with friends (see Matt. 21:17; 26:6; Mark 11:11–12; 14:3; John 12:1), but Luke records that he spends an occasional night on the Mount of Olives (see the Note on 21:37; also John 8:1–2). Luke’s following note about “the place” hints that the mount is a regular stopping spot (22:40). On this night, Passover celebrants are not to leave the immediate environs of Jerusalem, so Jesus does not go to Bethany.[14]

to the mount of Olives: Unfortunately, Luke’s description does not assist us in locating the exact spot where Jesus and the Apostles spend the next hours. The traditional locale of Gethsemane lies on the lower slope of the Mount of Olives. But the real location of Gethsemane may be higher up the mountain.

22:40 the place: This term (Greek topos; Hebrew maqōm) often refers to a special, even sacred spot (see the Notes on 4:42; 23:33; Matt. 24:15; John 4:20).[15] Jesus’ command that his disciples pray in that spot adds weight to this view. Clearly, “the place” is the designated locale for his suffering. Only Matthew and Mark name the locale Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36; Mark 14:32). John terms it “a garden” or cultivated spot and reports that it lies on the east bank of the Kidron stream ( John 18:1). In a metaphorical sense, it becomes “the holy place” where Jesus enters to shed his blood (see Heb. 9:12–15). In a different regard, a cave near the lower, traditional location, basically a storage area for tools that gardeners use in working with olive trees, may have offered a warm nighttime resting place for Jesus and his followers because “it was cold” ( John 18:18; see the Note on 21:37).[16]

Pray: This command, when paired with the same command in 22:46, forms a bracket or inclusio for verses 40–46. The intended result for both instances is the same—to overcome temptation or trial. Jesus will now do exactly as he commands his disciples and will experience the result firsthand.[17]

temptation: The same term appears in 22:28 and 22:46. One of its meanings is “trial” (see the Notes on 4:2; 22:28, 46). The sense seems to be that disciples should avoid temptations or trials that overmatch their natural or presumed ability to overcome, because only with humility will God assist.[18]

22:41 about a stone’s cast: This notation matches others which point to a recollection of an eyewitness from whom Luke learns indirectly, or with whom Luke speaks directly (see the Note below).

kneeled down, and prayed: The report of these actions also nods toward an eyewitness account, either from one of the three Apostles who can see Jesus or, later, from Jesus himself in a later conversation with his disciples, or from the young man noted in Mark 14:51–52 (see 1:2; 6:10; 9:55; 10:23; 14:25; 19:3, 5; 22:61; 23:28; John 8:6–8; Acts 1:3–4; the Notes on 7:9, 44; 18:40; 22:31, 34).[19] The act of kneeling, also noted in Mark 14:35, “stresses the urgency and humility” of Jesus’ prayer because customarily a person stands to pray (see 18:11, 13).[20]

prayed: The Greek verb proseuchomai stands in the imperfect tense, which can mean repeated or continuous action.[21] This main verb controls the sense of the adjacent participles that are translated “kneeled down” (22:41) and “saying” (22:42). Hence, in our mind’s eye we should see Jesus kneeling, praying, and speaking the words of his prayer again and again, or over a long period of time. That is, he kneels and prays, then he kneels and prays again, and again. We compare Mark 14:35–36 (Greek text), where we also find a string of imperfect tenses in the verbs describing these acts of Jesus, all of which carry a ring of eyewitness authenticity.[22] Incidentally, Jesus and the Apostles follow later Jewish law that forbids any revelry fol- lowing the Passover meal.[23]

22:42 if thou be willing, remove: The first request out of Jesus’ mouth is that his Father take the cup away, illustrating the intensity of his agony (see the Note below). It also forms an unsuccessful attempt to shift the burden of responsibility onto his Father. It seems that Jesus requires time to gain full control of himself so that he can finally pray “nevertheless not my will.” This observation finds support in the repeating or continuous sense of the verb “prayed”—“he prayed again and again” or “he kept praying” (see Note on 22:41). It is evident that the first crushing load of pain and sin to fall on him brings him to this begging request (see Matt. 26:37–38; Mark 14:33–34).

this cup: Reference to the cup, which Jesus shares with his disciples a short while before, occurs in each of the Synoptic accounts of Jesus’ prayer (see Matt. 26:39; Mark 14:36; also 3 Ne. 11:11). The tie to the two cups poured by Jesus at the supper is not to be missed (see 22:17–18, 20). Thus Jesus’ Atonement links closely with sacred ceremony, sacred actions. The first of the cups nods toward the messianic banquet at the end of time; the second points directly to Jesus’ atoning blood. In this latter instance, the mention of the cup may possibly tie to the general concept of “the cup of the wine of the fierceness of [God’s] wrath” (Rev. 16:19; also Rev. 14:10; 3 Ne. 11:11; D&C 103:3). Notably, scripture paints divine wrath either as a liquid (see Job 21:20; Jer. 25:15–16; Hosea 5:10; Rev. 14:10; 19:15; Mosiah 5:5) or as a fire kindled by him (see Num. 11:33; Ps. 106:40; Jer. 44:6).[24]186 John 18:11 rehearses Jesus’ words to Peter about “the cup” at the time of his arrest, a reference that captures the meaning of this expression—“the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” Not incidentally, Luke alone records Jesus sharing two cups at the supper (see 22:17, 20). The other accounts mention only one, that which points to Jesus’ atoning blood. What are we to make of Luke’s double reference to the cup? Both of them point to the future, one immediate (the Atonement) and one far away (the messianic banquet). But they both form a ceremonial tie to Jesus’ work as conqueror of the difficulties of this world.

not my will: Finally, after praying and supplicating “with strong crying and tears” (Heb. 5:7), Jesus surmounts the temptation to back out of his suffering and submits to his Father’s will.

22:43 And there appeared: This verse and the next are not part of the earliest manuscript (75) or other important manuscripts of Luke’s Gospel. Hence, many scholars doubt their authenticity.[25] A few manuscripts place these verses after Matthew 26:39. Recent studies on P 69, a fragmentary text from the third century (held at Oxford) that preserves only a few verses from Luke 22 and omits verses 41–44 instead of just verses 43–44, illustrate that some early texts of these verses are in flux and unsettled.[26] Early Christian authors who quote passages from the Gospels—for example, the second-century writers Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and likely Tatian—show an acquaintance with the scenes painted in 22:43–44, specifically Jesus’ bleeding.[27] Other textual evidence points to their genuine character.[28] In another vein, the verb translated “there appeared” (Greek horaō) actually stands in the passive voice: literally “the angel was seen” by Jesus, underscoring not only the divine initiative to assist him[29] but especially Jesus’ direct sight of this celestial personality, a prominent theme in Luke (see the Notes on 1:11, 12, 29; 24:24, 31, 34).[30] On the question whether Jesus generally needs assistance from angels, see the Note on 4:13.

an angel: The angel’s appearance is a favorite image among painters of religious art. The identity of the angel remains unknown. But the angel’s coming demonstrates the truth of Jesus’ instruction to the Apostles, that prayer will bring results, including heavenly assistance in trials (see 22:40, 46).[31]

22:44 And being: The content of this verse is certainly accurate because Jesus’ bleeding is confirmed both in prophecy (see Mosiah 3:7) and in the Risen Savior’s personal reminiscence of his experience (see D&C 19:18).

being in an agony: Perhaps oddly, before this point Luke offers few clues to us that Jesus is in deep agony, except the imperfect verb “prayed” that nods toward repeated or continuous praying (see the Note on 22:41). This differs from the other accounts wherein Jesus verbalizes his sudden anguish (see Matt. 26:37–38; Mark 14:33–34). Some scholars who believe that verses 43–44 are added by later scribes also judge that, in Luke’s portrayal, Jesus does not suffer deep distress about the troubles that are about to engulf him. Rather, he faces them in a way that becomes an example to later believers.[32]

prayed more earnestly: Without speaking directly about the intensity of Jesus’ suffering, this note discloses that he is pleading desperately for help. As in 22:41, the verb is in the imperfect mood and points to repeated and continual praying (see the Note on 22:41).

his sweat: Luke graphically pictures that all of Jesus’ body is affected by his suffering, as if he is working hard, like an athlete, and his entire body is sweating, from his head to his feet: “profuse sweat.”[33] The Joseph Smith Translation renders the expression differently, changing the noun to a verb: “he sweat” (JST 22:44).

as it were: The force of the Greek comparative particle hōsei is difficult to judge. Some scholars propose that it means “like” and thus they translate “his sweat became like drops of blood” or “the sweat was falling like drops of blood,” thus discounting that Jesus actually sheds blood in Gethsemane.[34] The other sense for hōsei is “as” (see 24:11; Matt. 28:4; Mark 9:26; Rom. 6:13), that is, “his sweat came to be as drops of blood.”[35]

drops of blood: The term translated “drops” (Greek thrombos) appears only here in the entire New Testament. The word can mean “clot” or “small amount of blood.”[36]

falling down to the ground: The blood that oozes from Jesus’ skin does not simply cover and discolor his body but comes in such amounts that the fluid gathers on and drops from the skin of his face. This circumstance raises questions about how art portrays Jesus both in Gethsemane and after- ward, until his execution—he freely bleeds at least into his underclothes, staining them, as the expression “every pore” strongly hints (Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:18).

22:45 when he rose up: The verb “found” governs this participle and is the simple past tense in Greek, thus conveying to the reader the sense that Jesus prays a long time and then stands up. Incidentally, the verb “to rise up” (Greek anistēmi) describes the resurrection in a few passages (see 9:8, 19; 16:31; 18:33; 24:7, 46).[37] Mark’s report pictures the scene very differently, that Jesus goes forward and falls and prays, then goes forward and falls and prays, actions underscored by the repetitive force of the imperfect verbs (see Mark 14:35). Luke’s adoption of the imperfect verb “he prayed” fits into this view of events (22:41, 44; see the Note on 22:41). In this connection, both Matthew and Mark report that Jesus walks three times to check on Peter, James, and John during this extended experience (see Matt. 26:40, 43, 45; Mark 14:37, 40, 41). Luke reports only one such contact. Luke seems to be placing more emphasis on Jesus’ act of praying and less on his interaction with the Apostles.[38]

for sorrow: The prepositional phrase means “from sorrow” (Greek apo tēs lypēs). The New English Bible renders the phrase “worn out by grief.” That sorrow or grief characterize the past days and hours which the Apostles, particularly Peter, spend with Jesus is certainly a matter of record: “being aggrieved” ( JST 22:33; also John 14:1, 27). The Joseph Smith Translation adjusts “for sorrow” to “for they were filled with sorrow” ( JST 22:45).

22:46 Why sleep ye?: The synoptic Gospels document the Apostles’ fatigue (see Matt. 26:40, 43, 45; Mark 14:37, 40, 41). But only the Joseph Smith Translation hints at the length of their sleep: Judas and the arresting party approach “after they had finished their sleep” ( JST Mark 14:47; also JST Matt. 26:43). This added note indicates that they sleep about as much as they customarily do, that is, much of the night, and that the early dawn draws near (see the Note on 22:60). In this light, and in agreement with Jesus’ repeated returns to the slumbering Apostles, Jesus’ suffering in Gethsemane lasts a large portion of the night.

rise: The Greek verb anistēmi, which here is a participle, can bear the sense “to rise again,” that is, to resurrect.[39] Hence, Jesus’ words to the three Apostles may form a mild hint at his own future resurrection (see the Note on 22:45).

pray: This instruction to pray illustrates an important principle. The divine world seems to be persuaded, perhaps even supported, by the prayer of the righteous (see Jer. 7:16; James 5:16; the Note on 10:2). Such appears to be the case when Jesus instructs followers in the New World to pray even while he is in their midst (see 3 Ne. 19:17–18, 22–26, 30; 20:1).

lest ye enter into temptation: The expression here is stronger than that in 22:40. Is it possible that Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane brings him to express himself more forcefully? That certainly seems to be the case in Mark 14:38, where Jesus’ words brim with meaning because he faces the temptation not to go through with the Atonement—“The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”[40]

temptation: The sense may reflect both meanings of this term: (1) to be tempted to do or think something inappropriate, or (2) to undergo a trial of some sort (see the Notes on 4:2; 22:28, 40). The appearance of the word “temptation” means that an overtone of Jesus’ prior temptations at the hands of the devil also lingers here (see 4:2–13). In that earlier case, the devil himself administers the temptations. None of his minions take the lead. We can be certain that Satan comes to Jerusalem both to influence Judas (see the Notes on 22:3, 31) and for Jesus’ last hours (see 22:53—“this is your hour, and the power of darkness”). Hence, Satan’s presence may be one of the reasons for Jesus’ instruction that his three chief Apostles pray.

[1] S. Kent Brown, “Gethsemane,” in EM, 2:542–43.

[2] Branscomb, Gospel of Mark, 267.

[3] Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, 197–201.

[4] Barrett, Gospel according to St John, 436; Marshall, Luke, 547; Morris, Luke, 340– 41; Clivaz, L’Ange et la Sueur de Sang, 411–51, 626–33.

[5] Maxwell, “New Testament,” 26–27.

[6] Fitzmyer, Luke, 2:1443–45; Stein, Luke, 559; Ehrman, New Testament: A Histori- cal Introduction, 124.

[7] Marshall, Luke, 832, “with very considerable hesitation”; Brown, Death, 1:185; Morris, Luke, 340.

[8] Plummer, Luke, 509, quoting B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, early scholars of the New Testament text.

[9] Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 103.8; Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3.22.2.

[10] Tatian, Diatessaron 48:16–17.

[11] Ehrman, New Testament: A Historical Introduction, 124.

[12] TDNT, 2:666–69.

[13] Mishnah Pesahim 10:9.

[14] Jeremias, Eucharistic Words, 55.

[15] TDNT, 8:195–99, 203–5; TDOT, 8:537–43.

[16] Wilkinson, Jerusalem as Jesus Knew It, 130–31; Taylor, “Garden of Gethsemane,” 26–35, 62.

[17] Green, Luke, 777.

[18] TDNT, 6:28–29.

[19] Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, 200–201.

[20] Marshall, Luke, 830.

[21] Smyth, Greek Grammar, §§1790, 1890–94, 2341; Blass and Debrunner, Greek Grammar, §325, 327.

[22] Branscomb, Gospel of Mark, 267.

[23] Mishnah Pesahim 10:8.

[24] Charles, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John, 2:14–17.

[25] For example, Bart D. Ehrman and Mark A. Plunkett, “The Angel and the Agony: The Textual Problem of Luke 22:43–44,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 45, no. 3 (1983): 401– 16; Fitzmyer, Luke, 2:1443–45; Stein, Luke, 559; Ehrman, New Testament: A Historical Introduction, 124.

[26] Thomas A. Wayment, “A New Transcription of P. Oxy. 2383 (P69),” Novum Testamentum 50, no. 4 (2008): 351–57; see also Claire Clivaz, L’Ange et la Sueur de Sang: Ou comment on pourrait bien encore écrire l’histoire, vol. 7 of Biblical Tools and Studies (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2010), 460–65, 627.

[27] Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 103.8; Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3.22.2; Tatian, Diatessaron 48.17.

[28] Bovon, Luke 3, 197–99; Lincoln H. Blumell, “Luke 22:43–44: An Anti-Docetic Interpolation or an Apologetic Omission?” TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism 19 (2014): 1–35; see also Clivaz, L’Ange et la Sueur de Sang, 609–18, 633–39.

[29] BAGD, 581–82; Brown, Death, 1:186.

[30] TDNT, 5:317, 324, 342.

[31] Fitzmyer, Luke, 2:1444.

[32] For example, Stein, Luke, 559; Ehrman, New Testament: A Historical Introduction, 124.

[33] Johnson, Luke, 355; Tannehill, Luke, 324.

[34] Marshall, Luke, 832–33; Fitzmyer, Luke, 2:1444–45; Bock, Luke, 2:1761–62.

[35] Plummer, Luke, 510–11; Liddell and Scott, Greek Lexicon, 2040; Blass and Debrunner, Greek Grammar, §453(3); BAGD, 907.

[36] Liddell and Scott, Lexicon, 807; BAGD, 364.

[37] BAGD, 69; TDNT, 1:369–71.

[38] Marshall, Luke, 833.

[39] BAGD, 69; TDNT, 1:369–71.

[40] Neal A. Maxwell, “The New Testament—a Matchless Portrait of the Savior,” Ensign 16 (December 1986): 20–27.

 

Jesus Questioned about Resurrection (Mark 12:18-27)

By Julie M. Smith. This post is extracted from The Gospel according to Mark, part of the BYU New Testament Commentary.

New Rendition

18 And Sadducees—who say there is no resurrection—come to him. And they were questioning him,  saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses  wrote  for  us,  ‘If a man’s brother should die and leave behind a wife and not leave children, he should marry his brother’s wife, and he should raise children for his brother.’ 20 There were seven brothers, and the first took a wife and, dying, left no children. 21 And the second took her and died, not having left children, and the third, the same. 22 And none of the seven had children. And last of all, the woman died. 23 In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as a wife.” 24 Jesus said to them, “Aren’t you mistaken because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they do not marry nor are they given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. 26 Now as for the dead—that they are raised—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the [burning] bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?’ 27 He is not the God of the dead but of the living. [So] you are very mistaken.”

Analysis

The point of the Sadducees’ (highly unlikely) scenario is to suggest that resurrection cannot be possible because if it were, a woman might end up with seven husbands in the next life. The Sadducees would rather deny the Resurrection than countenance the possibility of polyandry. Given that they presumably had no problem with polygyny (which is mentioned in their scriptures), this serves as a startling example of sexist thought. Further, this scenario is only a problem for them if they assume that all marriages are eternal. If there was any possibility in their minds that marriages were not eternal, then the solution to their question is simple: most or all of her marriages would not be eternal. (Even for Latter-day Saints, who believe in the possibility of eternal marriages, there is doubt as to whether levirate marriages would be eternal since the purpose of the marriage was to provide children to the deceased brother, not to be a permanent match.)

This story is not solely a dispute about this one unusual case. To the extent that the Sadducees (or Mark’s audience) understood that Jesus would die and be resurrected, it is important for Jesus to be able to defend the idea of resurrection; otherwise, his entire ministry is undermined.

Jesus’ teachings here also imply that it is not the mere fact of a marriage that makes it eternal, but rather a marriage requires something else (what Latter-day Saints would now call the sealing authority) to render it a post- mortally valid marriage. Apparently, the Sadducees did not realize this, hence Jesus’ comment that they do not understand the scriptures (which reference covenants and ordinances and sealing power, if not with the clarity that Latter-day Saint readers sometimes superimpose on them) or the power of God (which makes it possible for some, if not all, marriages to be eternal). The obvious way out of the Sadducees’ trap is for Jesus to say that there are no marriages in heaven; the fact that the Sadducees do not consider this a possibility (and thus think that their question proves that there can be no resurrection) suggests that the Sadducees assumed that Jesus would believe in marriage after death so strongly that he would be more likely to concede the Resurrection than postmortal marriage. In other words, this trap question is a testament to the strength of Jesus’ (and the Sadducees’) belief in marriage after death.

Jesus’ warning about not knowing the scriptures fits into a pattern in Mark’s Gospel where knowledge of the scriptures is shown to be different from understanding of the scriptures; this would have been a powerful warning for Mark’s audience. The Sadducees assumed that the law of Moses was a template for the eternal order, but this is not correct: Jesus’ answer implies that the law of Moses was, in at least some respects, an accommodation to the problems of a fallen world. It may have been a particularly relevant statement for the Sadducees, since they rejected most of the scriptural record. (While the evidence is scant, it is likely that the Sadducees only accepted the first five books of the HB as scripture.)

Jesus’ teachings about marrying in heaven may appear to be contrary to Latter-day Saint ideas about the eternal potential of marriages. But given that the Sadducees are not actually interested in learning from Jesus but rather just trying to trip him up, one should not be surprised that Jesus chose not to teach them anything else about marriage at this point (compare 11:33). Of course, there may be a hint of a higher teaching in the note that God has powers that they do not understand. In other instances in Mark, Jesus hints at the eternal nature of marriage (see 10:8–9, where it is difficult to imagine that God would “tear asunder” the “one flesh” after death). Further, the wording used in this passage refers to the contracting of new marriages (“marry” and “given in marriage”; not “continue to be married”). This idea is wholly congruent with Latter-day Saint thought: it is precisely because new marriages are not believed to be contracted in the next life (D&C 132:16)[1] that proxy marriages are performed in this life and that eternal marriages are regarded as so very important. Even some non–Latter-day Saint interpreters take this view (although, admittedly, the sentiment is rare): “Notice what Jesus does not say. He does not say that there will be no marriage in the age to come. The use of the terms [marry] and [are given in marriage] is important, for these terms refer to the gender-specific roles played in early Jewish society by the man and the woman in the process of getting married.. . . Thus Mark has Jesus saying that no new marriages will be initiated . . . this is surely not the same as claiming that all existing marriages will disappear.”[2]

Notes

12:18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying: This is the only reference to Sadducees in Mark’s Gospel. “They were not so much a religious party (as the Pharisees), but more of a social class, or elite, composed mostly of the priests. The traditionalists of their day, they rejected all ‘innovations,’ including the idea of the resurrection, angels, etc.”[3]70 In addition to the priests themselves, the term “the Sadducees” probably includes their family members and followers.

Interestingly, in the HB, the only generally accepted references to life after death are in Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 2:2 (although many other texts are interpreted to refer to postmortal life by some). The Pharisees and other Jews did believe in resurrection, so, interestingly, Jesus will side with the Pharisees here.

12:19 Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother: This verse quotes Deuteronomy 25:5, which describes levirate marriage, the practice of a childless widow marrying her deceased husband’s brother so that she might have children. Those children were regarded as belonging to the deceased brother and thus continuing his line and memory.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the term for “raise up” (Greek: exanistēmi) is similar to the term for “resurrection” (Greek: anastasis). The implication for the Sadducees is that an actual resurrection is not necessary since the children produced by the levirate marriage serve whatever purpose would be filled by resurrection: people would, in effect, live forever through their children. Of course, in this case, even six levirate marriages did not “raise up” anything, so their own example undermines the idea that levirate marriage negates the need for resurrection.

12:20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. 21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. 22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. 23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. 24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God: It may seem a little odd that Jesus says that they “err” when they have only asked a question, but their question contained erroneous assumptions. These assumptions would include that (1) levirate marriages would be eternal or that (2) polyandry in the next life is so unthinkable that it could be used to deny the Resurrection. (One way to avoid polyandry in this situation would be for the woman to be given a choice of husbands, but apparently the Sadducees find that notion equally impossible.) The possibility of polyandry may seem excessively speculative, but in the last instance when Jesus was challenged about marriage relationships, he took the argument in a decidedly nonandrocentric direction that was almost certainly unanticipated by his audience (10:12), so perhaps the same thing happens here. That said, the first option is more likely: Jesus is teaching here that contra the assumption of the Sadducees, not all marriages are eternal. (This is likely to strike Latter-day Saint readers as ironic.) The Sadducees have asked whose wife she would be, but Jesus does not say “the first man’s” or “all of theirs.” Jesus’ answer in 12:25 suggests that none of these marriages will be eternally valid—even the first one, which was not a levirate marriage, apparently wasn’t eternally permanent either. But particularly for the levirate marriages, there is a good case to be made that they would not be expected to be eternal. In chapter 10, Jesus explains that marriages stem from the original order of creation, but only the Fall—by bringing death into the world—would provide a scenario where levirate marriage was required. Thus, many Jews (and, apparently, Jesus here as well) separated regular marriage from levirate marriage.

What does it mean to say that the Sadducees do not know the power of God? At its most basic, this phrase means that resurrected life is different from earth life. First, concerns about dying without seed would not be applicable, so levirate marriage would not be necessary. Second, God’s power permits some (but not all) marriages to be eternal. And life in the resurrection is different from earthly life—to the point where the potential for polyandry is not a reason to discount the Resurrection.

12:25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven: At its most basic level, this statement goads the Sadducees, who apparently did not believe in angels.[4] It is easy to imagine Mark’s early audiences laughing at this line. While most interpreters assume that the reference to angels means that angels will be unmarried,[5] this is not necessarily the case. The HB does not describe angels as asexual (Gen. 6:1–4). Rather, being like the angels means not being subject to death and therefore not requiring levirate marriage.

12:26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying: This question indicates that Jesus was well aware that the Sadducees’ question was not really about marriage but rather about resurrection.

The phrase “in the bush” probably functioned much as chapter and verse divisions do today: it was a short-hand way of saying “in the story of the burning bush” and calling the audience’s attention to the story to which he was referring. At the same time, the fact that the bush was on fire but was not consumed serves as an example of the power of God, specifically (if subtly) of the power of God to preserve life from death.

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?: This is a quote from Exodus 3:6. In context, God is self-identifying to Moses to prepare Moses to return to the people. If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob no longer existed at the time this was spoken, then it would have made no sense for God to mention their names. The fact that God does use them leads to the conclusion that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must have existed after death (as Jesus explains in the next verse). Further, “God had made promises to these patriarchs, and since they had not all yet been fulfilled, it must be assumed that they are still alive.”[6]73 So the continued existence of the patriarchs negates the Sadducees’ beliefs.

While some have emphasized the tense of the verb “am” (as opposed to “was”), Mark does not actually have that verb in the text (it is assumed but not included), and so that does not appear to be the point of the statement.

12:27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye there- fore do greatly err: Jesus explains that, in a sense, there are no dead people: God can self-define in terms of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because they are still living.

“Ye . . . do . . . err” translates the same Greek verb (planaō) as “ye . . . err” in 12:24, framing Jesus’ remarks and emphasizing the idea that the Sadducees’ question relies on erroneous assumptions.

[1] Note that the language appears to echo this very passage in Mark with its references to marrying, being given in marriage, and being as angels.

[2] Witherington, Gospel of Mark, 328; compare Collins, Mark, 561–62.

[3] Bratcher and Nida, Translator’s Handbook, 374.

[4] Acts 23:8. However, there are several references to angels in the first five books of the HB (for example, Gen. 22:15), which the Sadducees did accept as scripture, so it is difficult to know what to make of this evidence.

[5] This is contra the position of D&C 132:16, which takes the angelic state as an unmarried one, but in terms of determining how Mark’s audience would have interpreted the reference to angels, it does not seem likely that they would have assumed that the angelic state was an unmarried one.

[6] Witherington, Gospel of Mark, 329.