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A moment from early morning reading:

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[As given here: "Gentiles" is synonymous with those who have not heard of, or accepted, God's message of salvation.]

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   [The point: Don't be surprised when this happens.]

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“…Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries…are surprised that you do not run with them…and they malign you

–from 1 Peter 4:3 – 4

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   I was reminded by the obvious this morning.

   Running with the old (non-Christian) crowd has moments where the tension arises as you don’t seem to mesh, or fit in, with what everyone else is doing. Of course, this is not fresh news, but here Peter reminds the Christian that he’s part of something that’s out of tune with–and is much more valuable than–old ways that often had their moments of camaraderie and satisfaction. But those ways are not what God wants for you. Don’t be disturbed if this happens to you. It’s normal for your new way of life.

   Now let’s technically nitpick some details here. Messing around with an isolated passage of the Bible can be misleading if not dangerous. You can be at the mercy of the “fiddler” (me) here, trying to make the passage to say something I want it to say that goes past the original meaning. Let me identify and react to some factors here, numbering them, of course:

   (1)  I’m dealing with an English translation of the Greek here, the New American Standard Bible (NASB). Translations have certain attitudes and tones that may affect the original meaning so I should be cautious when I try to interpret.

   (2)  Context: Peter seems to be addressing Christians at large on how to act around other people.

   (3)  The particulars of the evils that Peter had in mind might vary from the particulars today.

   (4)  “1 Peter” is a newer way for some to refer to “I Peter.” Either way is fine.

   (5)  The text has been sliced up, so that should make you suspicious. Ellipses (“ellipsis” is singular) [or 3 dots: "…"] indicate that a word, or a few words, have been omitted because it, or they, is or are not needed for the task at hand (according to the taskmaster). Some feel that an ellipsis at the beginning, as here, is unnecessary though I disagree. Here are the 4 sets of missing pieces from what’s above: The 1st is the 16 words at the beginning part of the sentence; the 2nd is “And in all this they”; the 3rd is “into the same excess of dissipation,”; and the 4th is the 17 words in the rest of the sentence. Clearing away words that are not necessary to the main point helps you remember that point.

   (6)  Why slice and dice? In case you haven’t noticed, some sentences in the Bible are unbelievably long. The other day I actually counted 180 words in 3 consecutive sentences in one of Paul’s epistles! So, for your own records, taking pieces of verses that are particularly meaningful is okay, and is commonly done, but be careful not to make the verse not say what it was never intended to say.

   (7)  One other detail about translations: In some case scholars insert words into English texts to complete the meaning (they hope) of what was in the original, because languages don’t always easily translate word-for-word. When this is done, the word is italicized, as in “all” just above and “them” in the verses that were presented.

   (8)  Let me remind you I deliberately go against most rules when I use numerals instead of “spelled-out numbers” (5 instead of five, 3rd instead of third) in my narrative most of the time, because numerals are quicker and clearer in the A Dozen Seconds format.

   Perhaps with all this you might think I would have been a great Pharisee back then. Sadly, if so, that scares me. I hope though as a Pharisee, I could have been a good one and have looked past myself to what really matters. Some of them did.

   [I dedicate this post to my son Ethan whose birthday is today. He's been a great inspiration and help to me.]