Aphesis


As I was listening to the audio version of Servant God recently (very highly recommended), I came across a reference to the passage in Hebrews that had confronted me a few years ago as I was settling into my new awareness about God's goodness. I had recalled something about it saying that without blood there could be no remission of sins. Since the whole issue of blood appeasement was being seriously challenged, this statement seemed a bit troubling. As these words on the surface seemed to contradict everything else that I was learning about salvation, I decided I needed to go and face the question head on for myself because I knew full well that if I didn't resolve it to my own satisfaction that someone else would be sure to confront me with it sooner or later.

The very first thing that jumped out at me when I located the verse in Hebrews 9 was the fact that the words I remembered were not the complete text. The verse begins with the very significant caveat of the phrase 'under the law' or 'according to the law,' depending on what translation you use. Immediately I realized that this precondition meant that quite possibly the verse could be referring to something conditional rather than relating to an arbitrary rule, something that was increasingly becoming plain to me about many things in Scripture.

I decided to investigate more thoroughly to understand for myself just what this verse was really saying, not only to see how it fits into everything else that was becoming clear as the truth about God and salvation, but so that it would not remain confusing in my thinking. That investigation resulted not only in a much better understanding of that passage but similar ones to it that have confused me especially in regards to the role of blood and how it should fit into my understanding of the truth about Jesus and His death.

But today something different caught my attention and I decided to go back and again revisit this verse to investigate it some more. What drew me in to take another look was the word forgiveness, or in some translations the word remission. Something still seemed unclear in what I was hearing and I wanted to look up the original word from which it was translated to see if that might shed more light on the passage. Sure enough, as is often the case, what I discovered went far beyond anything I was even expecting to find.

First, let me start by referencing the text that originally caught my attention.

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness [remission (KJV)] of sins. (Hebrews 9:22)

The Greek word from which this term forgiveness or remission comes from is aphesis, and it is directly linked significantly to another important word I learned about a few years back that is usually translated forgiveness or forgive.

Greek: aphesis – (from aphiemi); freedom; (figuratively) pardon:--deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission.
Greek: aphiemito send forth, in various applications (as follow):--cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be, go, have), omit, put (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up.

I decided to see if there might be any other English terms used to translate this word aphesis. That usually proves to be very revealing, and sure enough, what I learned opened the door to a very compelling insight. In the following complete list of 16 verses (all the passages containing this Greek word aphesis), the highlighted words in bold are the English renditions of this word.

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness [remission (KJV)] of sins." (Matthew 26:27-28)

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness [remission (KJV)] of sins. (Mark 1:4)

"Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin." (Mark 3:28-29)

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness [remission (KJV)] of their sins. (Luke 1:76-77)

He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness [remission (KJV)] of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Luke 3:3-4)

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19)

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." (Luke 4:18-19 NKJV)

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness [remission (KJV)] of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:45-47)

Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven [remission (KJV)]; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:30-31)

He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness [remission (KJV)] of sins through his name." (Acts 10:42-43)

Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39)

I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles--to whom I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' (Acts 26:17-18)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:7-8)

He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness [remission (KJV)] of sins. (Hebrews 9:22)

"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds," he also adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." Where there is forgiveness [remission (KJV)] of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:16-18)

Before I became became suspicious of the typical opinions about salvation and the cross and why Jesus came to this earth, I felt I had to accept all of these renditions at face value. A movement today to strengthen the traditional dark opinions about God and salvation insists that we must only rely on a 'plain reading of Scripture.' However that negates the need to take into account the many presumptions integrated into all translations (including the KJV for sure) from the perspectives and opinions of translators. In recent years however, I am finding that almost no translation seems to really convey well the actual truth that I have been coming to realize is the true gospel, the amazingly good news about God and how He feels about and relates to sinners.

As I compiled this list of verses and pondered how the translators chose to interpret them, a couple key verses tipped me off that something very different might be exposed in this investigation. Notice how the translators changed the words they chose to use in English even though the original Greek word was the same as all the other verses.

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." (Luke 4:18-19 NKJV)

I am very aware that many times a single word in the original language needs to be translated in various ways when transferring a concept into a different language. However, I am just as aware that when doing so an enormous amount of bias by the individuals and their world view and perceptions about God are unavoidably integrated into the fabric of the resulting document that reflects to a great deal the beliefs of the translators, sometimes distorting and even misrepresenting the original intentions of the writers. I believe this is yet another very clear case of translator bias.

Because I have come to realize that sin itself is not so much about messed up behavior as it is about distrust of God's heart, and that resolving the sin problem requires something very different than the legal constructs usually offered to explain everything, I now can see that the words used in the prophecy Jesus quoted as His mission statement actually would work far better if the translators had used them consistently everywhere else.

Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39)

These verses give me a big additional clue as it is arranged according to typical Hebrew thought pattern where a concept is repeated twice using slightly different expression. Given this it is clear to see that the first line was likely reinforced by the second line in the original, and if that pattern were followed in the English version it would make far more sense. So let us see what it might look like if the word forgiveness was replaced with the more accurate term liberty.

Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man liberty from sinning is proclaimed to you; by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39)

In offering what I believe to be a much more accurate rendition of this passage, I take my cue from the fact that the primary definition for the term aphesis, the word that connects all of these verses, is the term freedom. Liberty and freedom are synonymous, so either word could legitimately be inserted into all of these passages in place of the word forgiveness or remission. Doing so suddenly allows them to take on a completely new and refreshing revelation of what I believe the Bible writers were originally trying to tell us about salvation. Let's do this and see what might emerge when the primary definition of aphesis is used in the English translation for some of these verses.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by freedom from their sins. (Luke 1:76-77)

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for freedom from sin. (Mark 1:4)

"Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never experience freedom, but is guilty of an eternal sin." (Mark 3:28-29)

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for liberty from sin." (Matthew 26:27-28)

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and freedom from sin is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:45-47)

Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that from your sins you may become free; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and freedom from sin. (Acts 5:30-31)

He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives freedom from sin through his name." (Acts 10:42-43)

He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the freedom from sin. (Colossians 1:13-14)

And what about the two passages in Hebrews? What might this update do to bring new perspective to what they might actually be trying to teach us?

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no freedom from sin. (Hebrews 9:22)

"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds," he also adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." Where there is liberty from these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:16-18)

To me it makes perfect sense that once a person is set free from the bondage of sin, i.e. defined as distrust of God, there will no longer be any need for continued evidence to try to convince them that God can be trusted. When the sacrifice of Jesus has fully accomplished what it was originally intended to do – prove God's trustworthiness – then all who have allowed themselves to be transformed through that revelation will no longer need further convincing as they are now freed from all the lies that fueled their fear and distrust producing the malfunctions we call sins.

But how does shedding of blood fit into this perspective? It is the evidence needed to prove how far God is willing to go to win back our trust in Him. The blood of animal sacrifices as well as the blood of the Son of God had nothing to do with changing God's attitude toward sinners. Rather blood provides evidence of how cruel sin has led us to become, exposing how far we would go to the point of torturing and murdering the very Creator Himself when He made Himself available to us. By becoming a human who could be hurt in every way, coming as a vulnerable, humble peasant who only treated people with compassion, kindness and selfless service, humanity judged Him guilty and our sinful nature drove us to viciously attack Him whose only crime was to love which sharply contrasted with our preferences for a god.

One more passage comes to my attention that highlights what I am discovering from tracing this word in Scripture.

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

Just as confusion has resulted in the use of the word forgiveness that is actually translated from quite an array of different Greek words, this word save is one of several English words translated from a single Greek word that is otherwise translated to heal or to make whole. I have learned that sin is not so much a behavior problem or a legal complication but rather refers to bondage, deception, the mental illness we experience from believing lies that skew our perceptions about reality. Greek word translated save can also be translated differently to give clearer meaning to many passages.

Save = sozo – to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): – heal, preserve, save, do well, make whole.

If we applied a different part of the definition of this word sozo into this last verse, it could be rendered more accurately something along this line:

She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will heal, deliver, restore to wholeness [save] his people from their distrust of God and all their resultant malfunctioning and frequent failures to live up to their original design [sins]. (Matthew 1:21)

This aligns perfectly with all that has been emerging from the previous passages I now see as being related to liberty and actual freedom from sin. It also shifts the emphasis from the typical legal perception of religion to a more comprehensive appreciation that sin is really an issue of distrust resulting in a strained or broken relationship with God.

Only through complete restoration of trust in our heavenly Father can the sin problem and all its resulting malfunctions ever be fully resolved. A legal solution as is typically embraced as the solution is ineffective in accomplishing anything close to what is needed for full restoration to God's original design. Only by choosing the way laid out by Jesus leading to full restoration of confidence and peace with God can we experience the kind of transformation needed to prepare us to live in God's presence.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Lion's Roar

Ohm's Spiritual Law

Repent of Begging