Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: agape

I swear to God!


I swear to God!

Occasionally I get questions posed to me by different people from time to time to ask what the bible says about certain aspects of modern day life, this blog article is designed to give a longer answer to the question I was asked. I was asked by a lady who attends my Sunday evening bible study called “Agape” (I will not name her here but she will be aware of this articles presence) the following question…

What does the bible say about the use of “I swear to God”? (To give you a background the lady was uneasy as people she loved used the term and not her)

Are you taking the LORD’s name in vain?

Well there were two places in the New Testament part of the bible that I felt dealt with this rather well, but let us first look at a deeper issue. The deeper issue here from a doctrinal standpoint is, are they using the name of God in a flippant or vain way? Are they respecting the name of the living God? If they are using God’s name to justify a flimsy position that would seem shaky in an argument without it then I would suggest that they are. Or secondly, if they seem to be telling something that does not appear to be accurate and they move their argument towards truthfulness by using God’s name as a standard (because even if you do not believe in God, God’s name is associated with truth) but not meaning the reverence in their hearts to the very holy name of God then that is also problematic.

Where do I find biblical evidence for this problem?

In the Ten Commandments we are warned against this very thing. Let’s look at Exodus chapter 20…

Exodus 20:7 (ESV) “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Heavy stuff huh? In the third commandment you will be held guiltless by the one true God and only just judge of the world! The name of God is holy, and in some Jewish and Hebrew circles they do not spell the name of God in case they misspell it (replacing it with G_d in many cases) such is the reverence for God’s name.

So I think we have established that it is a no-no from the 10 Commandments!

Is there anything in the New Testament? I want to follow that too!

Remember I said there were two places in the New Testament that dealt with this rather well, let’s look at these. As this blog is called “Taking the Epistle” let us first look at the Epistle of James chapter 5…

James 5:12 (ESV) But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

James commends us not to invoke the name of God in our arguments, he commends us to be men and women of our word, he said “let your yes be yes and your no be no!” let us not use words flippantly like “I believe that may be true” (when we know it is not) and we justify in our minds that we are not “technically” lying. He does not want us to be losing an argument or having a discussion and attach God’s name to something it has no business being in.

And lastly Jesus Christ himself said not too

Jesus said in the Gospel of St. Matthew chapter 5…

Matthew 5:33 (ESV) “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

And he goes a little further than James said and said “anything added unto this comes from evil” and do you believe that God wants his name attached to something that is attributed to evil? God is a righteous and just God. He does not lie; he is truth, light and the epicenter of all that is good. His name is worthy of praise and honor, not derision and defaming. This is the beginning of a slippery slope that will end in blasphemy and that is a road you do not wish to travel dear Christian.


There are many things in the bible that are unclear or could be left up for interpretation, but in my view and my belief in the holy scriptures is that if we are warned against doing something three times and told that it is a no-no in a clear fashion, (not something that can be twisted or really debated without perverting the meaning behind the scriptures) then perhaps God is telling you, this is important to me, please do not do it.

I hope that I stated the case well of why it is problematic from a biblical point of view to “swear to God” and if this is an issue in your life then please seek clarification from the scriptures and pray about it, always check out what the teacher is saying and I look forward to you sharing, liking and commenting on this article here or elsewhere on social media as the LORD leads you to. I pray this was a blessing!

Agape Bible Study Notes 05/31/2015 – Philemon



Here are the Bible study notes from the Agape Bible Study on 05/31/2015, Please feel free to share like comment as God leads you to. For more information on our Agape Bible study please see our “Agape” page, also for more studies in Philemon please check out our Philemon page. 

I) Greetings and addressees

Philemon 1:1 (ESV) Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Paul describes himself a prisoner of Christ – word used is desmios which literally means one who is bound – one in chains
  2. Paul was with Timothy (who he later wrote Epistles too)
  3. Despite letter called Philemon, it is addressed to 3 people, Philemon, Apphia and Archippus
  4. The descriptions of the people are important, Timothy (brother) Apphia (sister) tells us on the Christian family that even although they are not blood relations they are family to Paul
  5. The description of Archippus as a soldier, it is important that you realize we are in a battle, a heavenly war and we must act like soldiers, we must have one anothers back, we must be willing to fight for one another.
  6. The description of Philemon as a fellow worker (or laborer) brings a few interesting points, in order to have a fellow laborer we must look at our own lives and see if we are being a laborer. How are you laboring for God?

II) Philemon’s Love and Faith

Philemon 1:4 (ESV) I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

  1. Paul gives thanks for Philemon
  2. Paul advised that he remembered Philemon in his prayers (we have to do likewise and pray often for our fellow laborers.
  3. Philemon had a good reputation, we read here that he had love for the saints and we read also of his faith and he was a follower of Jesus Christ.
  4. Paul prays for the effectiveness of the ministry Philemon was involved in, we must do likewise, even if we are not called to a particular ministry, we must always make reference to them in our prayers, they are our Christian brothers and sisters and we are all trying to achieve the same goal in advancing the kingdom of God.
  5. Paul talks of how the saints have been refreshed by his example, do we refresh the saints?

III) Paul’s Plea for Onesimus

Philemon 1:8 (ESV) Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.

  1. Paul could have commanded Philemon, but as a friend, fellow laborer and brother chose to ask him to do this task from his own free will to glorify God.
  2. Paul explains his appeal, he is sending the servant Onesimus back to his former master
  3. Paul explains that Onesimus is no longer useless but indeed is a changed man and as such he is sending someone who is now a part of him

IV) Paul wants to keep him

Philemon 1:13 (ESV) I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

  1. Paul would have preferred to keep him due to how much he was valued and was an integral part of Paul’s team
  2. Paul knew that Onesimus ran away from Philemon and legally was still his property so he wished to fulfill the law of the land and show due honor to his friend
  3. Paul wanted him to show kindness and forgiveness but his own free will in order to show the glory of God.
  4. Paul explains that this was Gods will, that Onesimus may come back to Philemon
  5. Paul drops the bomb on Philemon, he expects him to not just be taken into the home in his former place as a servant, he wants him to be accepted as a brother, both in the flesh and the Lord.

V) Receive Onesimus as me

Philemon 1:17 (ESV) So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

  1. Paul continues that he expected that he be received as if he was receiving Paul.
  2. Paul explains that if he is out of pocket then Paul will pick up his debt on his behalf
  3. Paul is wise to not debate the rights and wrongs of the original offence and only seek the Godly path to reconciliation, how often have you judged someone based either on first impressions or based on past hurts, if we dwell on such things then it is a barrier to effective reconciliation.
  4. This would refresh Paul’s heart to see this reconciliation.

VI) Paul’s confidence in Philemon

Philemon 1:21 (ESV) Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

  1. Paul has confidence that Philemon will do as Paul asks, how well do we come under obedience to authority?
  2. Paul believes that Philemon will not do the bare basics in his letter but embrace Onesimus above and beyond what is asked of him, have you had a situation where you have had to go above and beyond with someone who it took all of Gods strength to complete the task?
  3. Paul asks for a place to be prepared for him as he hoped to see him in the flesh soon.

VII) Final Greetings

Philemon 1:23 (ESV) Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

  1. Paul closes with greetings from a fellow prisoner and friend that they both knew
  2. Paul also gives greetings from other fellow workers who had been asking about him
  3. Paul leaves a closing greeting of “grace” and how apt it is considering the contents and how Philemon was being asked to give grace to one who had wronged him in the past

Thank you so much for reading this article, I pray that it has blessed you

Fifty shades of what…?


Fifty shades of what?

John 15:12 (ESV) “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

In case you have been living under a rock and are unaware of a “certain film” debuting this weekend (Valentines weekend) called “Fifty shades of Grey” about the best selling book series which follows the BDSM lifestyle of a certain Christian Grey.

For those of you who do not have a Christian conviction or those who do not live a Christian life will probably see nothing wrong with the movie that talks about the degradation of another human for the purposes of sexual gratification.

What is love?

The verse above talks of the purest type of love, everyone who reads this will be confronted with this sentence, the man who said these words died for your sins. His name was Jesus Christ and he died for the sins of the world knowing that some would reject him. He even knows if you accept of reject him and he also knows what decision you will make after reading this article.

The Bible talks of three types of love, two of which we will cover in this article. The loves we will cover are the love of “eros” where we get our modern day erotic word from, and “agape” which is a self sacrificing serving love and this is what Jesus is talking about here.

The rest of the article will focus on “eros”.

Lust not love


Here is where I differ from many Christians who feel compelled or feel led by the LORD to write about this topic. I am not going to do a “Father Ted” type protest that involves standing at the cinemas waving placards with such slogans as “down with this sort of thing”. (The British and Irish readers will get the reference to the popular TV show in the 90s called Father Ted).

What I am going to do is attempt to “in love” explain the difficulties that I have with this premise of a film. You see, as I type this I am looking at my five year old little girl playing in my living room and as a father it makes me realize that those women are someone’s daughters.

I have read a few commentaries and many are off base, declaring this as “an alternative love” and a “liberation of the boundaries in the bedroom” I find this hard as I love my wife and I would state that we are pretty liberated. I love her for who she is and our attraction is not just based on how we feel when our bodies rub up against each other.

The Bible has a definition of love also

Paul writes in the 1st letter to the Corinthians

1st Corinthians 13:1 (ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

From verse 4 onwards, we learn that love has the following qualities

1)    Patience
2)    Kindness
3)    Not envious or boastful
4)    Not arrogant or rude
5)    Does not insist in its own way
6)    Not irritable or resentful
7)    Not rejoice in wrongdoing
8)    Does rejoice in truth
9)    Love bears all things
10)   Love believes all things
11)   Love hopes all things
12)   Love endures all things
13)   Love never ends (some translations say Love never fails)

Does that sound very much like the synopsis of “fifty shades of grey”? In all honesty no!

Defenses of the film

Most of the defenses of the film (or books) state that it is perfectly okay as the degradation has been administered with the consent of the “victim”.

Define “consent” because from my understanding these people have been subjected to emotional abuse to where they no longer have worth. If someone is in that frame of mind they will not exactly be consenting in a true fashion.

I really don’t see patience, kindness and I sure don’t see “not wanting their own way” I say this with all reverence of God’s word.

Will I see the film?

Probably not, there is very little in the film.for me. Am I telling you to not see the film? Actually not, I am not the Holy Spirit and would never want to be.

I am certainly not going to “get a wedgie” that the film is out,  and i would urge others not to either, the reason i say that is that it does very little good and does nothing to further decent conversation as to why you believe that the content is bad and in all reality bears little fruit.

Obviously I don’t endorse the content of the film and I do hope that it is not as successful as the filmmakers hope that it will be, regrettably sex sells and already I am reading of DIY stores having extra supplies of things such as rope and training staff on “sensitive conversations”.

The actors themselves who were acting in the film even are said to have “no chemistry” and have gone on record as being uncomfortable with what they were paid to do in this film.

The situation needs prayer

Obviously it goes without saying that this message is not a Christian one so we need to pray for the folks who feel the need to go see this movie,  pray for the singles, pray for the ones who are married and pray for their marriages.

I love you all and I pray that this page was a blessing to you and please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you.