“Jesus the Sage” by Ben Witherington III

I just purchased this book, used, and am looking forward to it.  Ben Witherington III (Asbury Seminary) published this work in 1994.  It traces out the trajectory of Wisdom Literature from the Ancient Near East, the Old Testament up to Jesus, ending with discussion of Jesus in Matthew and John.  I am looking forward to this study and will post a few notes as I go.  This is for a short sermon series “Jesus: Prophet, Priest, King and Sage” in September.

Jesus the Sage: The Pilgrimage of Wisdom, Ben Witherington III, 1994, Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis.

Patience – sermon clip

This quality of patience become part of the wisdom we live by.  We have popular proverbs that remind us of the importance of patience:

Rome was not built in a day.

            The mighty oak was once a nut (like you.)

            Haste makes waste.


The Bible has a number of sayings that remind us to be patient.  Here are three from the book of Proverbs.

A patient man has great understanding,
but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

 Pv 14:29

   We wait.  Not because we are unable to decide or because we are afraid to act.  We wait because it is smarter.  Sometime the situation out there is clearer with time. Sometimes our own thinking gets cleare with time.  So when we wait, the offense itself is seen to be small.  Or maybe the offender changes his ways.


Better a patient man than a warrior,
a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

Pv. 16:32

            Soldiers have to be able to charge a hill or take a city.  But often it is wiser to wait.  President Eisenhower when against every general on his council when he decided NOT to invade China.  They thought it would be easy, he knew how hard it is to invade a continent.  One man with patience outweighed many soldiers.

A man’s wisdom gives him patience;
it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

Pv. 19:11

            Patience has a kind of Glory – the glory of those who do not need to always be #1, but are willing to be vindicated by time.

(bonus: what does the photo have to do with the topic?)

Anti-Immediacy – aka Patience


Seeds, bread, art, transmission rebuilds, presidential campaigns, raising kids, getting to know your spouse, family dinner, sermon preparation, becoming mature, becoming a friend, grief, recovery from addiction, reading a book, memorizing a passage, helping a friend, effectively serving the poor, making beautiful music and pitching a shut out.

Some things don’t: tweeting, net surfing (unless you do a lot of it), McDonald’s, starting a fight, losing a baseball game, jumping to conclusions, judging, first impressions, saying something you’d regret, tweeting, blogging, emailing something you will regret, forgetting what you just watched on TV and deciding to stay home this Sunday.

Consider those two lists, which items are more important?  (If you don’t like our non-scientific list, make your own.)

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE….”   Galatians 5:22-23

Peace and a Bagel?

What does peace have to do with a bagel?

We have a local bagel place that sells the “everything bagel”.  It has all the toppings on it at once: toasted garlic, onions, sesame and poppy seeds, caraway and kosher salt.  Some days it is the best thing since….sliced bread.

Peace (shalom) in the bible is neither only about political peace (lack of war) nor is it about only personal peace (tranquility.)  we sometimes choose the A or the Z of peace, wither politics or personal well-being.

Peace is about the A to the Z and all the letters in between. It is a comprehensive state of welling being, harmony and healthy relationships: individually, inter-personally, inter-nationally, inter-culterally, within the family, within the church, within the community.  In short it is the Everything Bagel.

I take my toasted with hummus.

Peace – a Fruit of the Spirit pondered


How to define it?  Where do we find it?

When Israel was threatened by Babylonian invasion, they were tempted with their own words, suggesting that exile was just as peaceful as their own land.  It was an old version of “Peace at any price.”

Isaiah 36:15-17  English Standard Version (ESV)

15Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 16Do not listen to Hezekiah. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, 17until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards.

To have a vine, a fig tree and a well requires a steady and secure life. It requires that one lives with neighbors who do not wish to steal their crops or shoot from the shrubbery.

We have two minimal definitions that come to mind.  Peace suggests that there is not war.  In the history of the modern world there have been very few years with no wars.  Just in the past hundred years the United States was at war in Mexico, WWI and WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, and a number of other “police actions” and “international engagements.”   If you include “Cold War” and “War on Terrorism” in the list there are very few years where we have not been at war during out lifetimes.

Peace also suggests personal calmness and well-being, inner peace and tranquility.  So we advise the individual to meditate, retreat, recreate, exercise, explore, entertain or medicate to achieve serenity.

What is the “Peace” in the fruit of the spirit.  the Greek word “eirene” was used to translate the Hebrew “shalom”.  In biblical language peace means something totally comprehensive.  Peace is “all that makes for social well-being and harmonious relationships.”

It is not only the one or the other, but both and everything else.

We have failed at both ends, and all that is in the middle.  We seem to need some help.  Galatians speaks of fruit of the Spirit (i.e. from God), and James speaks of wisdom from above that is peaceful. (James 3:13-18).

James 3:13-18 ESV

13Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Apples of Gold & Galatians 5:22

In a book length study of “The Fruits of the Spirit”, we read:

“Joy is the satisfaction that comes when we find that for which we’ve been looking.”

Now this is a good insight into the fleeting quality of Joy, which appears not to be the thing sought but the result of finding something else.  However, it is a rather gray sentence, a little bit surprising actually, as the author is a professor of theology and philosophy.

We changed it to this:

Joy arrives when we find what we need.

15 words to 8; a bit more punch, and rhetorically useful.

So dear Fresh Reader, which do you prefer? Do you have a better way to say it.

Lists – Fruit of the Spirit for Example



Here is Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

It is tempting to pull out a concordance or to check all the cross references on the 9 words listed.  However it is better to first look at the passage in context

Several important factors

  • In general Paul is contrasting life in the spirit with life in the flesh (or “sinful human nature”).
  • This list is surrounded by a longer list of “works of the Flesh” which appear to be quite random.
  • Note that the passage talks of “Love” in three important ways.
    • Love is the first fruit,
    • Gal 5:6 “what is important is faith expressing itself in love”
    • Gal 5:13 “…rather serve one another in love.”
  • Both sets of words are interpersonal – that is they are not so much innate qualities, but how we act well or poorly towards others.  (see note on “Love”, as well as v. 15, 26 which speak of interpersonal conflicts.)
  • Slavery is associated with selfishness and freedom with service – contrary to popular opinion.
  • Fruit are the desired and intended result of a plant – hence these are the desired and intended result for those who have found their freedom in Christ.
  • The Fruit are 9, some see groups of 3 – I am not convinced.
    • love, joy, peace – more God ward
    • patience, kindness, goodness – other focus
    • faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – self focus
  • It is hard to teach on a single word, so let the context help focus what supplemental scriptures enlighten this passage.
  • Finally, a coffee shop, a manuscript and colored pencils are what were required to assemble these thoughts..