Holiness

What is a holy person?

The naked Sadhu living another existence? The Buddhist monk detached from the world? The Catholic monks and nuns cloistered away in monasteries?

A young seminarian living in a trailer home has offered to host a famous preacher coming to his church evening service.  Three little children in a small place guarantees toys strewn all over, and space hardly enough to move. He regretted offering to host. As he drove the big-wig preacher from the airport, he kept apologizing for his humble, and quite tumbled home.

When the preacher got to his home, he immediately played with his kids though he was in his preaching suit and tie.  He laughed with them; they rode on him as horsey, and laughed till their faces beamed like little cherubs. 

When he sat down for supper with them before the evening service, he was so appreciative of their hospitality, and made the seminarian wife feel like a million bucks.

That night, after the preacher was gone and the children put to bed, the seminarian turned to his wife and said, “I feel as though Jesus has just visited us.”

“Funny you say that,” she replied, “I was thinking the exact same thing.”

We often think of holiness in terms of what people don’t do.  When we strive for holiness, we don’t steal, lie, cheat, sleep with other people’s spouses, etc.  These things are true, but they are only the outward demonstration of holiness. We can be all that and still not be holy.  We are reminded, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Pe 1:15). We need to think about holiness as things we do, not just what we do not do.

The holiness we do results in a holiness that keeps away from sin. Holiness for us refers to an absence of a sin habit. Before the absence of this sin comes the presence of a character shaped after God’s character.  PE


Peter’s Babylon

She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (1 Pe 5:13-14a).

Most scholars believe the Apostle Peter wrote from Rome and John Mark was with him. The term “Babylon” is not real Babylon, but it refers to another city, that is, Rome.  Some believe that Simon Peter was writing from a small city called “Babylon” which existed at that time.

It appears to me that it is far more probable that Peter’s Babylon is Rome.  We see the mention of Babylon in Revelation 14:8 and 17:5.  It is a political code-speak against Rome and not the literal city of Babylon. John explains the Babylon is the city that rules over the kings of the earth (Rev 17:18).

This creative political rhetoric is necessary because Christians were facing increasing pressure as Peter was writing, and by the time John wrote Revelation, that persecution had come in full force. It is not expedient to antagonize the powers that be, yet people needed instruction. It is common for us to find ancient writers using a creative political rhetoric that allows his audience to understand him but causes the censor to dismiss the document as one that might harm the interest of Rome (codified in the Roman laws of treason [leges maiestatis]).

Babylon is synonymous to a city of exile. The Babylonians exiled the Jews in 586 BC. Peter writes to his audience as the Diaspora, the exiles that are scattered about.  He sees Rome as the new Babylon and uses Babylon to identify Rome and its role. He turns to the experience of the Jews in exile under Babylon as a reference point for Christians in exile because of Rome.

The phenomenon of calling one city by another name is not new. For instance, Isaiah 1:10, calls Jerusalem “Sodom” and “Gomor-rah.”  Two cities are used to refer to one. Isaiah does this to indicate the judgment about to fall on Jerusalem.

It is most probable that the majority opinion is right, that Peter’s Babylon is the city of Rome.  PE

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