one’s body is a temple

a person should take care of her body and keep it healthy
—My body is a temple. That’s why I eat only natural foods.

While telling Christians to avoid sexual sin, Paul writes, 

Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”—but the immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20) 

In Jesus’ day, the Jews were still worshipping God in the temple in Jerusalem, but in AD 70, the Romans destroyed the temple and it has never been rebuilt. Here, Paul tells the Christians that their bodies are temples because God’s Spirit lives inside them.

stumbling block

an obstacle or hindrance; something that keeps one from attaining a goal
—Having a candy store next to my house is a stumbling block for staying on my diet.

In the Book of Romans and in 1 Corinthians, Paul writes that some Christians whose faith is weak believe it is wrong to eat certain kinds of food. Others, he says, who feel free to eat all kinds of food should not look down on those who restrict themselves, and those who can’t eat should not look down on those who can. He also warns the stronger Christians not to let their freedom be a “stumbling block” to weaker brothers. This would happen if weaker Christians are caused to sin because they do what they think is wrong after seeing other Christians doing the same thing:

Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle [stumbling block] or a trap before a brother or sister. (Romans 14:12,13)

Now food will not bring us close to God. We are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do. But be careful that this liberty of yours does not become a hindrance [stumbling block] to the weak. (1 Corinthians 8:8,9)

Originally, block meant “tree stump,” over which it is easy to trip.

powers that be

those having authority
—The powers that be have given us a new dress code for the office.

Even though the early Christians were still under the authority of the Roman Empire, Paul writes that it was necessary for them to submit to government leaders.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist [powers that be] have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1)

Powers that be is also often used sarcastically, referring to people who make decisions that are unpopular.

law unto oneself

ignoring the common rules or laws and doing whatever one wants instead
—When my sister drives, she doesn’t care about the speed limit or road signs. She’s a law unto herself.

Paul writes that God treats all people the same, both Jews (who had received God’s Old Testament laws) and non-Jews (who didn’t have those laws):

For there is no partiality with God. For all who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous. For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves [law unto themselves]. They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:11-16)

In Paul’s writing, being a law unto oneself means to do what is right even without knowingly obeying a direct command from God. In modern usage, though, the phrase means to disobey common laws as if you have your own personal set of rules that are for you only.

gospel; gospel truth

something that is absolutely true or of great importance
—He always takes what his father says as gospel and never doubts anything he says.

Gospel means “good news,” and it’s the name given to the first four books of the New Testament, as they tell the story of Jesus. Gospel’s later meaning of “truth” came about because Christians believe that the Gospels are true. The Apostle Paul believed in the message of Jesus and gave his life to spreading that message:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.” (Romans 1:16,17)

The Gospels of the Bible are known by the names of their authors, and are sometimes called “The Gospel According to Matthew,” “The Gospel According to Mark,” “The Gospel According to Luke,” and “The Gospel According to John.” When talking about someone’s version of the truth, or his views on life or a particular topic, people sometimes call that “the gospel according to” that person.

Damascus road experience; road to Damascus; have scales fall from one’s eyes

Damascus road experience; road to Damascus

an event or journey that leads to new insight and dramatically changes one’s life
—Having a starving child die in his arms was his Damascus Road experience, causing him to give all his money to help the poor.

have scales fall from one’s eyes

to suddenly understand something clearly
—Mr. Fort is the best teacher I’ve ever known. When he explains algebra, you can see the scales fall from the students eyes.

Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven. His disciples spread his message, and many people became his followers. As the new church began to grow, it faced persecution from the Jewish authorities. One of the Jewish enemies of the church, Saul, was traveling to Damascus to arrest Christians there, when Jesus appeared to him:

As he was going along, approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” So he said, “Who are you, Lord?” He replied, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting! But stand up and enter the city and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:3-6)

When Saul got up and opened his eyes, he was blind, so Saul’s traveling companions led him into Damaascus. Jesus then told a Christian named Ananias to go to Saul,

So Ananias departed and entered the house, placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes [there fell from his eyes as it had been scales], and he could see again. He got up and was baptized. . . . (Acts 9:17,18)

After this experience, Saul became a new man, with a new name (Paul), a new title (apostle), and a new purpose (preaching about Christ and writing much of the New Testament).

doubting Thomas

someone who has difficulty believing something; a skeptic
—You’ll have to convince all the doubting Thomases on the board before you’ll get any funding for your plan.

After Jesus died, on a Friday, his body was placed in a tomb. Then, on the following Sunday, some of Jesus followers went to the tomb and found that the large stone covering the opening had been rolled away, and Jesus’ body was gone. Later that day, Jesus, alive, came to the disciples, to show them that he had been resurrected. But one disciple was missing from the group: Thomas. When he heard what had happened, he said,

“Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!”

Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” Thomas replied to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:25-29)

crucify

to criticize harshly; to treat cruelly
—When the boss finds out, he’s going to crucify you for losing the company’s money.

Jesus was sentenced to die by crucifixion. This meant he would be nailed to a cross by his hands and feet and would hang on the cross until he died.

The soldiers took Jesus away,

and carrying his own cross he went out to the place called “The Place of the Skull” (called in Aramaic Golgotha). There they crucified him along with two others, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle. Pilate also had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.” (John 19:17,18)

It was against Jewish law for public executions to take place within the city of Jerusalem; therefore, Jesus was crucified outside the city walls at a location called “The Place of the Skull.” The name may have come about because of the deaths that occurred there or because it was on a hill that resembled a human skull. In Luke’s account, he says that another name for the place was Calvary, coming from the Latin word for skull. Today, golgotha, (like gesthemane) means “a time or place of extreme suffering,” and calvary means “a great ordeal or difficulty.”

wash one’s hands of something

to show one’s unwillingness to take responsibility for a situation; to give up on or disown something
—When I found out that the leader of the club had stolen all our group’s funds, I tore up my membership card and washed my hands of the whole thing.

Having sentenced Jesus to die, the Jewish leaders took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. (Judea was the area of Israel in which Jerusalem was located.) They went to Pilate, because the Romans would not allow them to enforce the death penalty on their own. Pilate was reluctant to put Jesus to death, so he tried to set him free. The Jews were celebrating the Passover festival, and it was a custom of the governor during the festival to allow the people to choose a prisoner for him to release. He asked the crowd that had gathered if they wanted Jesus or Barabbas, who was in prison for rioting and committing murder, to go free:

The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas!” Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?” They all said, “Crucify him!” He asked, “Why? What wrong has he done?” But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”

When Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but that instead a riot was starting, he took some water, washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. You take care of it yourselves!” (Matthew 27:21-24)

thirty pieces of silver

money paid for a betrayal
—You hurt the whole family when you sold Grandmother’s secret recipe. Are you happy now that you have your thirty pieces of silver?

After Jesus’ arrest, he was quickly put on trial before the high priest and the rest of the Jewish ruling council, and they sentenced him to die. When Judas realized the outcome of his betrayal, he was full of guilt:

Now when Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus had been condemned, he regretted what he had done and returned the thirty silver coins [thirty pieces of silver] to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood!” But they said, “What is that to us? You take care of it yourself!” So Judas threw the silver coins into the temple and left. Then he went out and hanged himself. The chief priests took the silver and said, “It is not lawful to put this into the temple treasury, since it is blood money.” After consulting together they bought the Potter’s Field [the potter’s field] with it, as a burial place for foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the “Field of Blood” to this day. (Matthew 27:3-8)

The field bought by the silver coins was called “the potter’s field” probably because it contained clay that could be used to make pottery. Later, potter’s field became the name for “a cemetery used for strangers or for those whose family can’t afford a burial plot.”

Blood money, not found in the King James Bible (where the wording is price of blood), first appeared in the Coverdale Bible (1535). Today, blood money means “money paid for a murder or betrayal, money that comes from other’s suffering, or money given to the relatives of someone who has been murdered.”

  • All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://bible.org. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

    Scripture in brackets is from the King James Bible.

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