Another word that has caused a lot of discussion and conflict we find in Revelation 2:8-9 in a message to the church at Ephesus. It states; 8. “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: 9. ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. In my opinion and the opinion of a lot of scholars of the Bible the phrase that is involved had been used to discriminate against the Jews for centuries and could’ve even been a contributing factor to the Holocaust. The degree that it influenced society we don’t know. When read the phrase could be interpreted that God is calling the synagogue which today is only week referred to as a Jewish church or gathering place as the synagogue of Satan.
There is one major problem with this. Not until hundreds of years later a synagogue referred to a Jewish institution. In biblical times a synagogue only referred to a general meeting place such as a clubhouse or town hall or any place where people can gather indoors. One of the uses of the place was used by the Judeans as a meeting place to study and worship but anyone could use it. When God says to John to write in the letter “the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” it could be easily misinterpreted as the Jews being the synagogue of Satan, but it was actually referring to those who pretended to be Jews but attended the synagogue during worship.
It is for this reason that when we read the Bible we must be very careful about not taking the verse out of context. We must read the entire section referring to that particular subject and carefully figure what is meant. We also must make sure that it fits into the overall message of the Bible and does not contradict it anywhere.
There is another area similar that we must make sure that we are not misunderstanding. When Jesus is speaking and he refers to “the Jews” a vast majority of the time he is referring to the Pharisees. The translation actually refers to Judeos, which means anyone of Judean descent. The Pharisees were definitely Judean. They believed so strongly in the Torah that they felt they had to put “fences around it” to make sure that it was not defiled or misused. The problem is the ended up with 613 rules that made the actual laws invisible, so to speak.
The problem in a situation is that by trying to protect the laws we end up changing them completely. Matthew 5:17-20 says;
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
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