Making a Religion out of Jesus
The real Jesus, as portrayed in the four biographies of him in the New Testament, is a highly religious man in one and only one sense: He very strongly believes in and depends on God. Otherwise, there is no religion in Jesus, as the term is commonly understood today. Of course, he is an exceptionally moral man, but morality and religion tend not to mix very well.
Jesus deliberately chooses to hang out with the common people and sinners and, people who are otherwise oppressed; sick, poor, lame, blind, lepers, Samaritans, short people, etc. Jesus deliberately befriends some of the worst thought of people of his society, drinking and socializing with them.
According to the narrative of Jesus in John, the first miracle he did is turning water into very good wine. This lays the foundation of a man who shuns the religious, vain, proud and self-righteous and and, who prefers the company of common everyday people. About one-third of the words attributed to Jesus are negatively aimed at the religious leaders of his time; Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and Lawyers, who though wealthy themselves, fleeced the common people out of their meager earnings.
Nevertheless, in spite of great evidence to the contrary, countless people have gone to great lengths to make a pious religion out of Jesus. Some of these ways are obvious, and others more deceptive. Hundreds of billions of dollars are made from religion in the modern age and so, there is an obvious reason why such chicanery exists.
One of the more deceptive methods used to twist Jesus into a religion is to deliberately leave certain key words in English bibles either poorly translated or left in the original Greek. Below is an incomplete list of a few of such words:
“For God so loved the people that he gave his only conceived son, that whoever believes in him will not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the people but, that the people through him might be saved.” Virtually all if not all scholars agree that the intent of what is poorly translated as “world” refers to humanity. Note how much less impersonal and more activist like and “people-centric Jesus sounds when “world” is replaced with “the people”.
It is virtually certain that Jesus was not a carpenter as the term is generally perceived today. Many if not most historians believe the literal Greek refers to either a stone mason, handyman or common laborer. Though ambiguous, it is believed the Greek may refer to someone who carried stones from a quarry, chiseled and arranged them for a mason. This agrees with the friend of the common people the real Jesus is presented as being.
“Christ” is correctly translated as “Messiah”, which is not the name but the title of Jesus, given to him because he is the “anointed one” and savior of the people. Jesus mostly refers to himself as “son of man” and sometimes, just “the son”.
Paul never once refers to himself as a “christian”, while at least five times in the New Testament he refers to himself as a follower of the “way”. The “way” was considered to be a revolutionary new “way” of life, centered on the true communism of sharing all things in common and distributing to each according to need, the opposite of Jewish, Roman, Greek and modern capitalist societies. First Century followers of Jesus largely remained among the poor, Paul being among the very poorest of the poor, as was Jesus.
The word “church” (Greek “ecclesia”) when found in the New Testament always refers to people, the human followers of Jesus. The word “church” does not refer to either a religion, a religious building or a religious organization. It is virtually unanimously agreed that the Greek word “ecclesia” to Greek speaking people, referred to the general common assembly.
Disciple (Greek “mathetai”) means “student”, “follower”. It has no special religious connotation or significance, other than one might contend that to follow Jesus is both a significant and important choice. The word in Greek can be used in reference to a follower of anybody, from Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, to Ayn Rand and Donald Trump or, any Tom, Dick or Jane on Twitter (who most likely would be no worse of a choice).
Doctrine (Greek “didaskalias”) simply means “teaching” or “instruction” in Greek. The Greek translated as “doctrine” has no special religious connotation or significance. For example, “sound doctrine” is correctly translated as “sound teaching” or “sound instruction”. Every serious student wants sound teaching and, this is what Jesus, for no cost, offers far better than anyone in history.
Epistle simply means “letter” or formal letter in Koine Greek. While today one can look up the word “epistle” in a modern dictionary and find that it refers to a formal letter of special importance, in the First Century world of Paul and other authors of the New Testament, the Greek “epistole” apparently referred to any and every other kind of letter. The New Testament is not written in formal Greek or modern Greek but rather, Koine Greek, the language of First Century Greek common people.
Gospel means “good news”. It should never be translated in any other way into English other than as “good news”. Paul is correctly translated as saying “my good news”, not “my gospel”, as is also Jesus himself correctly translated in Luke as “to proclaim good news to the poor.” Gospel sounds theological and religious, while even a 1st grade child can relate to “good news”.
Jesus says, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. And yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” This is perhaps the greatest environmental awareness statement in human history, given when environmental issues weren’t even on the public radar. Jesus almost certainly is not referring to a “lily” as commonly understood today but rather, to a common wild flower, grass or weed flower; perhaps comparable to a wine cup, bluebonnet, lupine or dandelion.
“In the beginning was logos, and logos was with God, and logos was God”, inadequately translated as “Word” in most modern bibles. While it is true that the “word of the Lord” or the word of God is an aspect (or part) of God, this by no means describes everything that God is and thus, “word” doesn’t even begin to describe what the author of John likely intended. Jesus says later in the same narrative, “I am the way, the truth and the life. . .” and in I John it says “God is love” and “eternal life”. This is perhaps a better description of what logos most likely means in the context used by the author of John, who because of similarity, is most likely the author of 1 John as well.
To the ancient Greeks, “logos” referred to the divine plan, purpose and intelligence in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning; or, the “mind” and intention of God. The Greek term “logos” represents God’s understanding and universal and beyond view, which at best is only very partially understood by anyone living on earth. Like Paul writes, for now we understand “in part”.
As far as the typical modern clean handsome invariably White Jesus, Isaiah prophesies that Messiah would have “no form or comeliness. And when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” Many if not most historians agree Jesus was probably dark, short, unkempt by modern standards and according to Isaiah was unattractive in physical appearance.
Based on the two genealogies available, Jesus was mostly Jewish but of mixed ancestry, which should forever silence any foolish notion of antisemitism or racial superiority. For further proof, see speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., by far the most profound in American history.
The word “preach” in Greek means to proclaim. “Preach” as found in the New Testament should never be confused with what one commonly hears today from television evangelists and religious pulpits, much of which is the antithesis of the New Testament message of proclaiming good news for sinners and common people. Anyone who feels the need to shout at their audience or otherwise try to force them to believe or, believe just because the Bible says so, is more than likely someone who has no idea where the real Jesus is coming from.
Almost always found in the plural as “saints” in the New Testament, the Greek word translated as “saint” in modern English Bibles, simply refers to believers in Jesus, such as “the saints” who lived at Lydda. It does NOT refer to someone who is necessarily celibate or someone who is any better than anyone else, nor does anyone need to be declared a saint by the pope or any other human being. Only Jesus can forgive us for our sins and make us a saint.
In the New Testament book of Acts, it says twice that God “does not live in temples made with hands.” This clearly separates God from every major world religion, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
According to the New Testament, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world system.” This is the ONLY time the New Testament ever mentions religion. According to Paul, those who have asked Jesus to forgive them “are not under law, but under grace;” he repeats similar to this in Galatians and Colossians, yet this great freedom we have in Jesus is invariably ignored by conservative Christians.
“We can only imagine”, as a modern Christian song says, how life would be for the homeless and poor, if the wicked dollars earned from religion were used instead, to do what Jesus actually says we should do, which is to help the sick, poor, immigrants and otherwise oppressed of human society.
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