by Al Maxey

Issue #295 ------- April 1, 2007
God expects but one thing of you, and
that is that you let God be God within you.

Meister Eckhart {1260-1328}

The Spirit Lusteth To Envy
A Reflective Analysis of James 4:5

Bro. Guy N. Woods [1908-1993], a noted minister and author within the Churches of Christ, in his Commentary on the Epistle of James, observed, with respect to James 4:5, "There is, perhaps, no more difficult passage in the Epistle. There are problems involving the text, the translation, the punctuation and the meaning" [p. 215]. Woods is far from alone in this assessment of the verse in question. Adam Clarke states, "This verse is exceedingly obscure" [Clarke's Commentary, vol. 6, p. 819]. "There is not a critic in Europe who has considered the passage that has not been puzzled with it" [ibid, p. 820]. Dr. John Rea, editor of The Layman's Commentary on the Holy Spirit, declares, "This is a difficult verse to translate, and the King James Version gives a misleading rendering in the second half of the verse" [p. 95]. The scholars who compiled The Expositor's Bible Commentary readily concur: "This verse is one of the most difficult in the epistle" [vol. 12, p. 193].

There are several factors contributing to the difficulty of interpretation of this particular passage within this epistle by the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. For some, their traditional theology stands squarely in the way of a correct understanding of James' teaching. We will notice a rather stunning example of this momentarily in this study of James 4:5. Some find the grammatical construction somewhat ambiguous, lending itself to multiple possible interpretations. There is also the question of the correct identification of the quotation employed by James. He clearly indicates "Scripture speaks," but the quote he then provides is found nowhere in Scripture. How is the immediate and overall context to be interpreted? How are certain words in the passage to be defined? Do they represent positive or negative qualities? There is also the question as to the proper identification of who or what is meant by the term "spirit." Does this have reference to man or to God? These many considerations, as well as others, all contribute to the extreme level of difficulty disciples of Christ have experienced down through the centuries in attempting a valid interpretation and exposition of this passage. Before we begin our own examination, however, note the following rather diverse renderings of the passage in some of the better known versions and translations:

The above, of course, is a rather small sampling, but it demonstrates the interpretive dilemma. There is some considerable debate among reputable biblical scholars as to whether the Greek word pneuma in this passage refers to man's human spirit or God's Holy Spirit. The translations seem to run about half for one, half for the other. There is also a tremendous difference of opinion as to whether James is suggesting a man's inner being (his heart, attitude, nature) naturally tends toward the negative (jealousy, envy, lust), or whether God's Holy Spirit is said to long earnestly for our affection, even being jealous (in a more positive sense) with respect to our divided devotion, and that which, or those who, would seduce us away from Him. On the surface, this dilemma may appear to some to be beyond resolution. I would disagree, however. After careful and prayerful consideration, I am of the personal conviction that this is not all that difficult of a passage to comprehend, and can be rather easily interpreted if we are careful to consider the three greatest hermeneutical principles: context ... context ... context!

The Epistle of James has sometimes been characterized as "the Proverbs of the NT." This rather brief document is packed with practical advice for daily living, and all from a Christ-centered, faith-focused perspective. Some scholars view it almost as an inspired commentary upon our Lord's Sermon on the Mount. One of the basic underlying themes throughout is relationship. Our Father wants to be intimately united with His children, and He longs for them to be intimately united with one another. Thus, James provides guidelines for facilitating these goals through our daily attitudes and actions. This intimacy of union is so vital to our God (as well as to us), so longed for by Him, that when we fall short of it, for whatever reason, He is greatly grieved. In verse 4 of chapter 4, James gives one of the reasons that can very quickly lead to this failure to achieve that goal of intimacy: divided devotion. "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." This powerful verse constitutes the immediate context for our difficult passage, and verse 5 must be interpreted in light of verse 4.

In James 4:4 we find this inspired writer issuing a strong rebuke against spiritual unfaithfulness. You adulteresses!! These were people breaking covenant with their God by allowing themselves to be seduced by the world about them. They seemed oblivious to the fact that when you are in a covenant with one person, you don't consort with another! Oh, how frequently we fall under the curse of this sin, and how fearful are the consequences to all involved!! And yet how blinded we become by our own sinful lusts. "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death" [James 1:14-15]. You can't be the spouse of the Lord and best friends with the world. As the apostle Paul clearly points out in Romans 7:3, if you are married to one person, but consort with another, you "shall be called an adulteress" [see: Reflections #106]. You are a covenant breaker, and such persons "shall not inherit the kingdom of God" [1 Cor. 6:9-10]. For a more extensive study of the biblical concept of adultery (which I believe constitutes far more than is traditionally taught among us), I would refer the reader to: Reflections #208. I believe it can be demonstrated quite easily that the most common biblical usage and meaning of the Greek term moicheia is "breach of covenant," rather than any one specific act (such as an illicit sexual encounter) that might ultimately result in that tragic covenantal breach.

We are a betrothed people. We are spoken for. Therefore, seeking intimacy with one other than the One to whom we are betrothed constitutes adultery -- i.e., a breach of our sacred covenant with one another. Thus, James cries out to those engaged in such a "friendship" with the world, "You adulteresses!" The KJV (and the NKJV follows the lead of its namesake) reads: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses." This, of course, is an error, and one will not find this addition to the biblical text in very many reputable versions and translations of the Bible. "When copyists understood the word here in its literal sense (rather than figurative), they were puzzled why only women were mentioned, and therefore they considered it right to add a reference to men as well. The shorter reading, though, is strongly testified by both Alexandrian and Western witnesses" [Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek NT, p. 683]. Dr. Charles Ellicott concurs -- "The Received Text, from which our version (KJV) was made, is wrong. It should be, ye adulteresses! -- accusing those who have broken their marriage vow to God" [Ellicott's Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 8, p. 372]. This textual variant "is an attempt to improve on the feminine by referring to the two sexes of the readers, which is entirely out of place" [R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Epistle of James, p. 627]. Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, in his classic work The Expositor's Greek Testament, concurs, declaring that the "weight of evidence is strongly against" the addition found in the KJV [vol. 4, p. 458].

James is simply presenting to the readers' view the reality, which some seem to be forgetting, that they (collectively; men and women) are the bride of Christ. If a bride goes after other lovers, she is an adulteress. The textual addition of the masculine form undermines the very concept James seeks to impress upon the minds of his audience -- You (men and women) are the Lord's bride, and, by your sin of consorting with another, you become an adulteress (a woman who has broken covenant with her faithful spouse). This image of the Lord being the Husband and His people being His bride is found throughout Scripture. Israel was the bride of Jehovah; the church is the bride of Christ. In both relationships, the Husband longed with all His heart for the undivided love and devotion of His bride. In both of these cases, however, the bride has shown herself to have wandering eyes. The lure of other lovers is strong, and the temptation to drift into carnal affairs is ever before her.

The Lord's bride, however, is in a covenant relationship, and is thus bound to display faithfulness of heart and life to her Spouse. To fail in that holy resolve is to be marked as an adulteress (one who breaks covenant). The hope of our Lord Jesus is that His bride might be presented unto Him "in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless" [Eph. 5:27]. Paul told the Corinthian brethren, "I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin" [2 Cor. 11:2]. Yes, contrary to what some may teach, there is indeed such a thing as "godly jealousy." This simply signifies that earnest longing and intense desire to be the one and only object of another's loving focus. "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me ... for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God" [Exodus 20:3, 5]. Paul felt that same "godly jealousy" when he considered the many lovers that sought the affections of the bride of Christ. He was determined to fight these lovers off, and to do all in his power to "present her as a pure virgin" to his Lord and Savior. James had that same purpose in view in the passage before us.

To bolster his point, James makes reference to that which "the Scripture says." As previously noted, however, there is no such passage in either OT or NT which exactly corresponds to what we find in the latter part of James 4:5, although many have suggested passages in the writings of both covenants that they believe may express a similar thought. For example, B. W. Johnson, in The People's New Testament, believes "the reference is to Deut. 32, where God's love and jealousy of His people are described" [p. 348]. Others, believing James to be speaking of mankind's jealous, envious nature, provide a number of Scripture references which speak of our tendency to engage in sinful attitudes and actions. Most scholars, however, and I tend to agree with this view, feel James is not so much pointing to any one passage of Scripture, but rather indicating that the whole message of God's revealed Word is that He desires our relationship with Him to be exclusive in nature, and that He will not regard favorably divided devotion! Thus, James is referring to the message which is spoken by Scripture, rather than any one direct quote from within the body of these many inspired writings. Dr. Charles Ellicott stated, "Many commentators have been puzzled to say from whence the words came which are quoted as authoritative by St. James. But, surely the substance was sufficient for him, without a slavish adherence to the form" [vol. 8, p. 373]. In other words, it was the spirit of all Scripture, rather than the exact letter of these collected writings, with which James was concerned. "Since there is no single passage of which James 4:5 is a verbatim quotation, it is best to understand it as giving the gist of several such passages" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 12, p. 194]. Or, to employ the wording of Adam Clarke, "St. James may probably refer, not to any particular portion, but to the spirit and design of the Scriptures" [vol. 6, p. 820].

"While James quotes no one verse of the Old Testament, a number of passages speak of the Lord as a jealous God who will not permit His people to worship any other god" [Dr. John Rea, p. 95]. The same feelings are present in our Lord during this current dispensation. The apostle Paul cautions the saints in Corinth against "provoking the Lord to jealousy" by engaging in idolatrous practices common to the peoples of the world about us [1 Cor. 10:22]. "He has betrothed us to Himself, and He will tolerate no rival for our affections" [Dr. John Rea, p. 95]. Therefore, I personally am completely convinced, as are the great majority of biblical scholars, that James has the Holy Spirit in view in verse 5, and that the emotions enumerated are His, rather than ours. "The best rendering seems to be that of the Revised Version margin: 'That Spirit which He made to dwell in us yearneth for us even unto jealous envy.' The words witness to the truth that the third Person of the Holy Trinity abides in our hearts striving to acquire the same love for Him on our part which He bears for us. It is a most striking passage that tells of the love of the Holy Spirit" [Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor's Greek Testament, vol. 4, p. 459]. In light of the context here (vs. 4 especially), "it is thus only natural to expect verse five to speak of God's jealous longing for His people's love, rather than of their own envious spirit" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 12, p. 194]. Dr. Robertson, in his famous Word Pictures from the Greek NT, states that James presents the Lord to our view "as a jealous lover."

"The Holy Spirit dwelling in Christians is grieved when we prove unfaithful to Christ our Bridegroom. When we love the world and have friendship with it (James 4:4), we show a divided allegiance. He yearns over us with a deep godly jealousy to have us completely for Himself, for our Creator, Redeemer and King cannot be content with a love triangle" [Dr. John Rea, p. 96]. "God made His Spirit to dwell in us so that this Spirit may make and keep us true friends of His. That Spirit yearns jealously and is grieved when we become friends of the world and thus begin to be enemies of God" [Lenski, p. 630]. There are those disciples, however, who absolutely, and adamantly, refuse to accept the view that James has the Holy Spirit in mind in this passage. Why?! Because to accept such a view strongly implies the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and this doctrine they reject. Therefore, many will simply "not allow for this apparent reference to the Spirit of God indwelling His human temples" [Dr. Charles Ellicott, vol. 8, p. 373]. They will insist to their dying day that the pneuma in view by James is the human spirit, not the divine Spirit, and that the attitudes and emotions enumerated are therefore negative rather than positive. James is speaking of the godlessness of man, rather than the godliness of the Spirit, they assert. I personally believe they are dead wrong!

This is the accepted view, nevertheless, of those who have embraced the false doctrine which declares the Holy Spirit operates only through the written Word. This is sometimes referred to as the "Word Only" doctrine. It is "heresy," they assert, to teach a personal indwelling and empowering of God's Spirit. Therefore, James couldn't possibly have had the Holy Spirit in mind when he wrote James 4:5. One of the proponents of this teaching within Churches of Christ was Guy N. Woods. In his above referenced commentary on the epistle of James, Guy Woods wrote, "We regard the 'spirit' to be the human spirit, and not the Holy Spirit ... and thus believe the passage to teach: 'The spirit which is in you is a covetous and envious one'" [Woods, p. 217]. He continues: "It is to this passage that all advocates of the theory of a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit (both in the church and out of it) appeal in an effort to sustain their view that the Holy Spirit actually and literally dwells in Christians. ... The conclusion that there is a personal, actual, literal presence of the Spirit in man is unsound" [ibid, p. 218]. "It would be absurd to contend that this indwelling is literal, actual, and within their own persons. But, because this denominational idea ... has been adopted in some circles, brethren have allowed themselves to fall into such an error respecting the Holy Spirit" [ibid, p. 220]. When Guy N. Woods was asked how the Spirit indwells us, he responded, "Through the word of God, the only motivating force in immediate contact with the individual. Neither here nor elsewhere do the Scriptures teach of a direct operation of the Holy Spirit, either before or after conversion" [ibid]. "The Holy Spirit uses the word of truth as the medium by which He influences; and His influence is limited to this medium" [ibid, p. 219]. "The only impact of the Spirit on the heart of either alien or Christian is by means of the word of truth" [ibid].

Brethren, I have to be very blunt here -- this is nothing other than false doctrine. Indeed, it comes extremely close to being (and may in fact actually be) a denial of deity! To speak in such an injurious manner of the Holy Spirit of God, and of His impact upon the hearts of saint and sinner alike, is tantamount to blasphemy, and the Scriptures speak of that as being a most serious offence indeed [see: Reflections #236]. These men will come right back and argue, however, that it is equally blasphemous to suggest that the Holy Spirit "lusteth to envy" [James 4:5]. Are not "lust" and "envy," they contend, far more in keeping with the "works of the flesh" than the "fruit of the Spirit"? In the negative sense of these two words, they are, of course, absolutely correct. However, what they fail to realize is that these terms may be used either positively or negatively; they are not exclusively within the domain of just one over the other. We have already noticed that Paul, in 2 Cor. 11:2, spoke of "godly jealousy." God Himself declared to His people that He was a "jealous God." Thus, there is no question that "jealousy" can have a positive quality to it, given the proper circumstance and motivation. The same with the word "lust." In actuality, this word (and similar terms) simply conveys the concept of an earnest longing, a fervent desire. This may be good or evil depending upon that for which one is fervently longing ... and why one earnestly desires it. Jesus, for example, told His disciples shortly before His arrest, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer" [Luke 22:15]. The Greek word that is translated "earnestly desire" in this verse is the very same word that is elsewhere translated "lust." The assertion that these words can't be used in connection with deity simply won't stand up under biblical scrutiny.

It is my conviction, after much reflective analysis of this passage in the epistle of James, that the brother of our Lord is urging disciples of Christ Jesus to remain true to their betrothal; to honor their covenant. Do not lose sight of your goal to stand before the Bridegroom a pure virgin. Do not let the temptations of the world lure you into the arms of false lovers, whose promises of pleasure are fleeting when compared to the eternal pleasures that await us in the home of our Father and His Son. To aid us in our quest for faithfulness, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who earnestly desires for each of us to remain chaste, and who guards jealously each precious soul. Do not grieve Him in your daily walk, and in your journey home. If we will submit to His leading, He will guide us safely there, and into the waiting arms of the Bridegroom. Dear Lord, may we embrace the gift of your Spirit within our hearts, not bind Him within a book. Thank you, Father, for Your grace, for the death and resurrection of Your Son, and for the empowering you provide each of us through the indwelling of Your Spirit. What an awesome God you are!!

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Readers' Reflections

From a Minister in Toronto, Canada:

Al, While attending Freed-Hardeman College in 1954-57 I went with a couple of other "preacher boys" to a tent meeting where Bro. Keeble was preaching. We were early and took seats up front. It was a delight to hear him speak. He engaged the audience to be vocally involved with his message -- asking them to read a verse, or asking a series of questions of them. During the sermon, a preacher began to heckle Keeble about baptism, saying that salvation comes before baptism. Keeble's response was to ask this preacher to read Mark 16:16 out loud. After this man read the verse, Bro. Keeble told him that he had not read it correctly, so to read it again. The preacher did -- followed by the same response from Keeble. Bro. Keeble continued, "No, the verse says, 'He that believeth is saved and may then be baptized.'" The preacher said, "NO! The verse says, 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved!'" To which Keeble responded, "Then why don't you preach it that way?!!"

From a Minister in California:

Al, Thank you for this tribute to Bro. and Sis. Keeble. He preached numerous times in Sheffield, Alabama, and, so I've been told, was a frequent guest in the home of my grandparents. I vaguely remember hearing him speak once, but at the time had no idea I was listening to a legend!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Bro. Al, I think it was in November, 1956 that I attended the Harding Lectures at the tender age of 22. Because of the fact that I was then preaching for a nearby Church of Christ (of only about 25 members), I was invited to the preachers' dinner. Marshall Keeble was there, and was scheduled to speak the next night. After hearing him speak the following night, I made my way to the stage and had the honor of shaking his hand. His response was, "Pray for me!" Al, your article brings back some precious memories!

From a Reader in Alabama:

Bro. Al, It was a pleasure to read your article about the late Sis. Laura Keeble and Bro. Marshall Keeble. A fond memory of mine was hearing Bro. Keeble preach one time when I was about 10 or 11 years old. He must have been in his 80s at the time, but, as you noted, he held the audience in the palm of his hand, preaching masterfully. He addressed our student body at Mars Hill Bible School, and encouraged the students to live for God and not to be distracted by all the passing things of this world. Thanks for an excellent tribute to two of God's great servants!

From a Minister in [Unknown]:

That was great, Bro. Al. Tremendous lesson in American history of a man who served God. A man who happened to be born from slaves; a man who came to serve the living God in Christ; a man known as a "black man." Wonderful article, and extremely interesting amidst today's version of Christianity, which is a far cry from those who set the foundation. Although I am an African American by ethnicity, I only relate this to acknowledge the message you have sent out to the masses. It is such an important one; one we must all understand. That Christ Jesus surpasses all understanding, history, knowledge and positions. That we all are ONE in Him, beyond race, politics and personal agendas. We all bring something to the table, transcending man-made boundaries that strangle the spirit of men. The fruit that we offer up to the Lord must never be tainted by ignorance, prejudice, religion, worldly conceptions and division within the house of our God. Keep it going, Bro. Al.

From a Minister in Arizona:

Dear Bro. Al, Thank you for the excellent biographical sketch of Bro. Marshall Keeble. Al, you praise the man, but you do not believe or teach the same gospel message that Bro. Keeble believed and preached. Nor do you represent the same kind of church that he was a member of -- congregations of which he established, and to which he called thousands to be members of. If Bro. Keeble was right in his teaching, then you are wrong. If you are right, then he was wrong. Which is it?!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Dear Bro. Al, I am beginning to see what I perceive to be a disturbing pattern developing within the unity movement. To me it appears that some of our brethren are causing a good deal of unnecessary dissension in some congregations in their zeal to combat legalism. To teach love is one thing, but to push for change for the sake of change is quite another. Unless I have been reading the Bible wrong for a great number of years, it seems Jesus preached moderation in all things. Any thoughts on this?

From a Reader in Arkansas:

Bro. Al, I read the comment made by Danny Douglas that was quoted in the readers' section of your last issue of Reflections [the one with regard to your book Down, But Not Out]. He apparently is either an idiot or totally self-deceived. He evidently teaches and promotes a doctrine that forbids marriage to people who have no marriage any longer, contrary to Paul's clear teaching in 1 Cor. 7 -- and yet he dares to state that Bro. Hick's teaching is "the devil's doctrine." When Paul taught regarding the "doctrines of devils" [1 Tim. 4:1-3], it specifically condemned those who are guilty of "forbidding to marry," rather than those who allow for marriage. Therefore, the statement made by Danny Douglas has to be the most asinine statement that I have ever read!!

From a Reader in Alabama:

Bro. Al, I have given one of the elders of the church here a copy of your newly published tract on the Holy Spirit. He said he agreed with everything in it, and asked to be put on your mailing list for your weekly Reflections. His email address is enclosed. Thanks, Al, and full speed ahead sharing your great gift.

From a One Cup Minister in California:

Dear Bro. Maxey, First off, I certainly enjoyed and appreciated your tract on the indwelling and empowering of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has always been a subject close to my heart. A few years ago I prepared 13 sermons on this subject. Growing up in the One Cup group, the use of the term "Holy Spirit" was almost like uttering a "bad word," for some reason, and many times I was rebuked for even mentioning the Holy Spirit. Their lack of wisdom and knowledge did not deter my preaching on the subject, however, and to this very day I feel deeply about the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. I am personally convinced that the Holy Spirit plays a tremendous part in the deliverance of any of my sermons. Perhaps the reason so many of our brethren are so weak is because this topic is so foreign to their minds.

From a New Reader in Tennessee:

Bro. Maxey, I was forwarded one of your Reflections articles as a result of a discussion which several younger members of this congregation and I were recently having. I would like to be added to your email subscription list for these weekly articles you write. Blessings to you!

From a New Reader in Nigeria:

Dear Brother in Christ, I have just come across your papers on the Internet. I enjoyed reading them. Please add my name to your mailing list. Thank you.

From an Elder in Missouri:

Brother Al, Thank you for this splendid biographical sketch of a truly great soldier of the cross of Christ. I have long admired Brother Keeble and his humble, yet powerful, work. I was unaware of his wife's passing, and had also not remembered his marital status or the background you mentioned about his children. I love these biographies of yours. Thank you also for the link to his audio sermons. Some time ago I had searched on the Internet for some of his articles, but had not run across this link to his sermons. It will be great to hear the "hard words" of this man in his own voice. I will be spending some late hours listening to these, and will appreciate this "invasion of my sleep time." I will love it!! It is interesting how timely his words are for our brethren today -- especially the "Frigidaire" ones! We seem to think we must be so serious. I realized long ago that God has a sense of humor, and created laughter. We need to rejoice! We are saved! We are blood bought! We are heaven bound! Once again, thank you for reminding us of Marshall Keeble, who was truly a great man, as his dear wife continued to say until she passed from this world. We need more men like Brother Keeble.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, Thank you so much for the work you are doing! Your scholarship is appreciated, and it continues to challenge me in my own studies and reflection. But most of all, I thank God for your attitude in continuing the call to unity. You, your wife, your family, and your ministry are all in my prayers. Please keep up the good work you are doing, and never forget that you are helping those of us who are still working, learning and journeying toward true freedom in Christ Jesus! Again, thank you!

From a Reader in Florida:

Bro. Al, I just read your tribute to Bro. & Sis. Keeble. I was in the 9th grade at Mt. Dora Christian Home and Bible School in Mt. Dora, Florida many years ago when Bro. Keeble spoke at a congregation in that town. The school let the high school students, all those who wanted to, attend one of his sermons. I remember the church building being packed so full that we were standing three deep around the inside walls. I don't remember exactly what was said that day, but I do remember speaking with him a few minutes after the sermon. I was very impressed with him, and have remembered what a wonderful speaker he was. Thanks for your tribute to this wonderful couple!

From a Reader in Arkansas:

Bro. Al, Marshall Keeble trained several young men to be preachers by what would probably be considered a "novel method" today: he let these young men actually preach! I heard Bro. Keeble many times over the years. Sometimes he would do the entire sermon himself; other times he had one or more of his trainees ("preacher boys") speak, and then he would add his own remarks and extend the invitation. I heard him in Ft. Worth, Texas a year or so before his death, and I still remember that sermon, and particularly the young man who preached maybe 15 minutes before Bro. Keeble concluded the service. He used to say something to the effect that Jesus taught 12 to be preachers, but He only took about 4 at a time. And Keeble did take the young preachers with him, traveling by car and staying in the homes of members of the congregation and teaching them by actually doing. I have often wondered if any of those young preachers that traveled with him ever wrote about their experiences.

From a Reader in Hawaii:

Aloha Bro. Al, I have a Greek question for you. Romans 12:21 reads: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." The adjectives here all have the definite article before them, but there are no nouns present in the sentence with which they are connected. Therefore, could this verse be translated as follows? --- "Do not be overcome by the evil one, but overcome the evil one with the good one." Does "the evil one" = Satan, and does "the good one" = God or Christ? Thank you very much!

From a Missionary in Bolivia:

Hermano Al, Hey thanks for writing about Bro. Marshall Keeble and his wife Laura. Although I was born 10 years after his passing, his is a name I have grown to respect a great deal. Working in a nation with such great divides among social classes and race, he is truly an inspiration. He also is a great example of that spirit of humility we all strive for daily. By the way, thanks again so much for putting our request for additional support in your Reflections a few months back. We are now doing fine with support, praise God. My wife and I are going to be on furlough in August through October, and we will be in New Mexico for part of that time. I'd love to make a stop in Alamogordo if we have time.

From a New Reader in Florida:

Bro. Maxey, I have been struggling for years, and have constantly gone back and forth, with the issue of whether or not it is okay for a Christian to drink wine. I'll be honest with you, I enjoy having a little wine in the evening to relax while cooking dinner and eating, and also sometimes when I'm out on my deck enjoying the sunset over the lake. Because I enjoy it, I want to think that the Scriptures don't say that we cannot drink wine at all. Yet, I have always felt just a little guilty. From what I have studied in the Bible, however, and having recently read your article on this matter [Reflections #134 -- Behold, A Winebibber: May A Christian Drink Wine?], I feel that I have finally come to your very same conclusion. I belong to a small Church of Christ here, however, and know many of them would not share this conviction. Of course, I would never intentionally seek to offend any of them, but if I am in the grocery store purchasing wine and see one of them, should I feel guilty and run and hide? How silly! Anyway, thanks so much for your article on this topic! Also, would you please put me on your Reflections mailing list. I would love to get these uplifting and humbling articles from you each week. We have no young people at our church, and an older preacher, so your outlook is not only loving, but refreshing!

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