Another: In vv 6-7 of Galatians 1 Paul accuses the Galatians of turning aside from the Gospel as preached by himself to a perverted version put about by agitators. He indulges in a little word play (which tends to get lost in translation) to make his point. He tells the Galatians (v 6) that they are substituting ‘another’ gospel for the real one, the word for ‘another’ here being heteron. Then he goes on to say (v 7) that this substituted gospel is not, in fact, ‘another’, and the word he uses here for ‘another’ is allo. This seems contradictory until we note that heteron means ‘of a different kind’, whereas allo means ‘of the same kind’. And so what Paul is telling them is that the ‘gospel’ they have received from the agitators is not merely another version (allo) of the Gospel preached by Paul but is so different (heteron) that it is something else altogether. When, in John 14:16, Jesus tells his disciples that He will send them ‘another Comforter’, He uses the word allo(n) for ‘another’ because the Holy Spirit, although different from Jesus, is like Him. Heteron enters into compound words, the best known probably being ‘heterodox’ as opposed to ‘orthodox’. ‘Orthodox’ means ‘right-thinking’ or ‘straight-thinking’ whereas ‘heterodox’ means ‘not orthodox’.
Justified: Romans is the principal source for Paul’s teaching on justification by faith, the doctrine that so influenced Martin Luther. The English word is clearly connected to ‘just’ and ‘justice’ and in this mirrors the Greek word that it translates, dikaiotheis, which (in the plural form dikaiothentes) is the first word in the fifth chapter of Romans. The base of this word, dike, is connected to a Greek verb meaning ‘show, indicate’ and comes to mean ‘that which is indicated by custom, propriety, good usage’, from which the sense of ‘just(ice)’ develops. In early Greek literature this sense is personified in a daughter of Zeus, Dike, who reports to Zeus the unjust deeds of humans. In Acts 28:4, when Paul is bitten by a snake on the island of Malta, the locals take it as an act of retributive justice by Dike on Paul for murder. In the Greek OT (Septuagint) dike, justice, is transferred to God, who is ‘just and upright’ and rewards and punishes justly. And the just person mirrors God’s justice and is ‘right’ with God. But no human being can be perfectly just or ‘right-eous’ in God’s sight because no human being can perfectly keep the law. Our ‘justification’ comes through faith in Christ, who by his total obedience to God’s will achieved the perfection of righteousness, and by his death settled for us the score for our sins. By faith in Christ we no longer inherit Adam’s sin but Christ’s righteousness. We are credited with his righteousness; it is ‘imputed’ to us. We are ‘justified’.
Truth: The Greek word for ‘truth’, aletheia, is the negative form of a word meaning ‘be hidden, concealed.’ So what is ‘true’ is what is open, clear, revealed. Lying is the most obvious sin against truth – Satan is ‘the father of lies’, Beelzebub. In the Greek Old Testament (LXX) the ‘true’ is that which is consistent, solid, faithful. Yahweh is the God of truth because of his unchangeableness, his stability and the certainty that his promises will be fulfilled. Truth is an attribute of God and therefore characterises all his words and actions. In the New Testament, ‘true’ can have its OT meaning of what is reliable, dependable, real, but theologically it refers to the truth of the Christian revelation. This revelation was, of course, expressed in Jesus, who described himself as “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). In John’s Gospel aletheia occurs 25 times, the first occurring when John describes Jesus as “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). As “the way, the truth and the life”, Jesus reveals God and expresses God and comes from God, and it is through Him that salvation lies. To accept Jesus, to follow his example and teachings is to enter the truth. In v 17 of today’s Gospel reading the Holy Spirit is described as ‘the Spirit of truth’ because He proceeds from the Father and continues the work of revelation, imparting only what He has received from the Father. He is a reliable teacher and guide. The ‘truth’ that is carried into the human heart is not just a credal statement: it is God’s living word, to deny which is to sin against the light. Aletheia is sometimes found as a girl’s name.
Reward: In Revelation 22:12 Jesus says that He is coming with His ‘reward’ “to give to everyone according to his work.”. ‘Reward’ translates the Greek word misthos, with its basic meaning of ‘wage’ or ‘payment’ due for work done or services rendered. The word can mean payment at a fixed rate, as in the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt 20:1-16), where the first workers are hired at a denarius a day. But in other places, as here, the emphasis is on payment according to the work itself. In 1 Corinthians 3:8, Paul emphasises that although he and Apollos “are one” in the work they do, yet each will be rewarded according to his own work, which presumably includes both its quantity and its quality. The nuance here is that of ‘recompense’, which comes from a Latin verb containing the idea of ‘weighing or balancing’. The due reward is found by weighing the work done. And for the followers of Christ, there is no ‘reward’ for merely doing that which they would do anyway, such as loving their friends (Matt 5:46). Their discipleship requires more. And there is no reward for doing only what one is compelled to do (1 Corinthians 9:17-18), or for doing no more than one’s duty (Luke 17:9-10). In the end, though, as the parable of the workers in the vineyard makes clear, the gift of eternal life is of grace, not reward: a reward is what we earn; eternal life is beyond earning. ‘Reward’ comes from Old Norman French, with its cognate form ‘regard’ from Old French.
A Word in Season