Jacob Toman

God Made Us Male and Female- Why We Cannot Change Our Gender

God doesn’t need to conform to our feelings, or our biological ability to mutilate our bodies. God has made and declared what is good. It is good for men to be manly, and good for women to be womanly. Each culture WILL look slightly different, but that doesn’t change the created order of God, and sometimes even cultures (like Western hyper-sexuality culture) as a whole can reject these created distinct categories that God has made of male and female.

Social Media Statement
This post is in response to a conversation that was started on social media.
Person #1: “If God made you a male, that’s not a mistake. If God made you a female, that’s not a mistake. Saying any different is insulting a perfect creator. Read your word.”
Person #2: “God made you a brunette, yet you are now a blonde. God gave you bad vision, yet you fixed it with glasses. God gave you crooked teeth, yet you straightened them with braces. Trans people change the outside to match the inside like you do. Sit down. Jesus said to.”
Both of these are appeals to the individual in the present and are divorced from the Biblical arguments for male and female creational order.
Adam and Eve in their created state were individuals, each made with distinct roles, responsibilities, and relational unique attributes. This is all pointed to clearly in Genesis 1-2, and reinforced in the failure of both in their roles, responsibilities, and relationships in Genesis 3.
I’m not a male because of my inside, or my outside in a vacuum of my own understanding or interpretation of my feelings. I’m male for the same reason my wife is female. God has made humanity as male and female. This created order is specific and God-ordained. Boys are boys, and girls are girls. This is not a result of any desire, perspective, or input from humanity. God’s created order is not changed as a result of the fall. Although the fall has greatly impacted all of humanity, the fall has not somehow changed the created order of the universe. The fall has had tragic consequences, but the fall has not reordered or fundamentally changed how God has made and ordered humanity. We, as humans, are male and female in continuing fashion reflecting the created order of God, albeit now with much suffering and strife due to the fall and our sin (both original sin and our personal individual sin).
After the sin of Adam and Eve, boys are still boys, and girls are still girls. We are now fallen image bearers of God and in need of saving from the utter destruction we bring upon ourselves through sin. By God’s grace, sinful boys and girls can be saved to live forever as redeemed boys and girls. It is God who defines what sin is, God who defines what is needed for restoration from sin, and God who defines the created order of humanity: male and female he created them (Genesis 1-2).
The creator defines the usefulness and purpose of a created thing. Nowhere in the scriptures, by explicit statement, referential idea, or extrapolated consequence has God relinquished His position as creator of humanity. A hairdryer doesn’t have the ability, capacity, or right to say it’s a piano, toaster, or space rocket because it feels that way. The hairdryer was made as a hairdryer for the use, purpose, and pleasure of the maker and owner. God is the maker and owner of humanity. God has created humanity male and female and it is categorically beyond humanity’s ability, capacity, or rights to say otherwise.
To disassociate the pattern of who we are from the created order in Genesis 1-2 is a subtle “unhitching” and disbelief in the continuing pattern of God’s creation in the human race. We are made male and female, anything besides this is a result of the fall – note – that includes varying folks who are born with various physical handicaps, disabilities, or malformations.
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Jesus Christ as God

The good news of the gospel is that the Lord Jesus was both fully human and fully God. In this way, he was able to fully represent humanity’s interests before God, and perfectly fulfill holy justice before God. In being both fully human and fully divine, the Lord Jesus was the only and perfect mediator to open up the way of peace between God and humanity.  

Easter is around the corner and for many of us, it is a time of the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. This is the time of year that we are reminded of Christ’s humanity, but also his divinity. Jesus Christ is not only a man, but he is also God. We can see proof of Jesus being Man and God throughout scripture. Today we are going to look at Jesus Christ as God, from the writings of Paul the Apostle in Galatians.
Writings of Paul in Galatians
From the writer of Galatian’s understanding (Paul the Apostle) Jesus Christ is not only a man, but is someone and something more than just a man. It doesn’t take long, just a few verses in Galatians to see how Paul understood and believed that Christ Jesus was divinely God.
In Galatians 1:1, at the very beginning of the letter Paul writes “Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father“.
In this very opening phrase, the church in Galatia was shown who was sending them this letter. This letter was from Paul, but who sent Paul? The authority of the letter was not just the authority of Paul. Paul writes that he has been sent. Who sent him? According to Paul, Jesus Christ, and God the Father. We might mistakenly think this is a division between the man Jesus and the God of Paul. But Paul lumps both Jesus Christ and God the Father together.
Why is This Compelling in Understanding Who Jesus Christ is?
Paul underscores that he has not been sent “from men nor by a man”. If Jesus Christ was only human, then this statement makes no sense and the sentence Paul writes is gravely confusing. But rather than being confusing, this introductory statement is clarifying. Paul leaves ZERO doubt for the Galatians he was writing to. Paul was on an errand of God. Who is that God according to Paul in verse 1? God is the Father and Jesus Christ. Paul has made a claim from the very get-go of the book of Galatians about the divinity of Jesus Christ.
At this point, some might say “Well….that’s just your understanding of one verse Jacob”
Alright, let’s keep reading Galatians past the introductory sentence. Let’s pick up again only a few words after verse 1, in verse 3:
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
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Acts 11:29-30: The Earliest Christian Elders

The elders mentioned in Acts 11:30 by definition are Christian as the relief sent from Antioch was intended for “brothers and sisters living in Judea” (Acts 11:29). While there weren’t clearly defined distinctions between Jews and Christians by the Roman authorities until the reign of Nero, there was early on, within the first days after Jesus’ resurrection a clear distinction made between the followers of Jesus and the established Jewish religious community.

In Acts 11:29-30 (narrative, descriptive) we’re given the first explicit mention of New Testament Christian elders:
Acts 11:29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
Prior to Acts 11:30 the term for elders is used as a reference to Jewish elders, not members of the believing community following in faith the resurrected Jesus (1). The elders mentioned in Acts 11:30 by definition are Christian as the relief sent from Antioch was intended for “brothers and sisters living in Judea” (Acts 11:29). While there weren’t clearly defined distinctions between Jews and Christians by the Roman authorities until the reign of Nero, there was early on, within the first days after Jesus’ resurrection a clear distinction made between the followers of Jesus and the established Jewish religious community.
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Why Are They Sad? The Loneliest Time of Year

We followers of Christ are not exempt from sorrow, grief, sadness, and heaviness. Jesus himself wept. He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41) and wept at the death of his beloved friend Lazarus (John 11:35). He was distraught at the loneliness he would endure on the cross. The thought of the suffering he would bear brought him into such a state of distress that he sweated great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Our great Savior knows what it means to be lonely. He knows the grief and sorrow we bear. He knows of the rain that never stops. He knows that Christians get depressed too. He knows what it is to be royal and yet suffer. 

When we wake up it is dark. When we come home it is still dark. This time of year can be a season of tremendous sadness. Some sadness emerges due to things like clinical and seasonal depression. Another sadness comes from the circumstances of the season. 

Seemingly every advertisement shows smiling faces, but for some reason, he doesn’t feel like smiling without his wife of 50 years beside him anymore. 
The family came to visit for the holidays just a few days ago, but it might as well be decades by the tears on her face. It was just a few years ago the kids were playing tag in the basement. Now one is a drug addict, and the other committed suicide Christmas Eve two years before. 
She’s thrilled to be in the embrace of her new boyfriend who asked her out over the Christmas break. The old boyfriend struggles to find words or motivation for anything and ends up quitting college after failing 3 out of 4 classes in the spring.  
The alarm clock disturbs a brief moment of restful sleep to remind the parent that all is quiet in the house, their little 5-year-old daughter won’t wake them up in bed anymore because she’s in hospice care with only a few days left to live. 

While many this time of year are in “shop until you drop” mode, some are in “weep until you sleep” mode. Despite all the efforts of commercialism to drive an anxious populace to buy happiness and exchange material gifts, whatever fleeting experience of excitement and enjoyment soon fades. Willy Wonka’s 4th quarter push to stimulate gains can’t compare to the crushing realities, tragedies, and struggles of the broken world we dwell in. The temporary timestamps of worldly pleasures fade away as the grim darkness and coldness of winter come with a truckload of haunting guilt, regretful words, and overwhelming circumstances. 
Why are some sad during this time of year? Because the grass withers and the flowers fall (Isaiah 40:8). Because nothing under the sun can provide lasting satisfaction, everything is wearisome (Ecclesiastes 1:8-11). 
The heaviness of this time of year is a burden for many. The cacophony of voices shouting words like “sale” “special” “discount” and “celebrate” echo as dark empty hallways in the hearts of those grieving, wounded, weak, and weeping. All the memories of loved ones and bygone days seem to pile up and throw themselves across the checkout counter of life during this season. I’ve seen it in the poor, and I’ve seen it in the rich. It’s a look that betrays the inward thoughts. There is nothing in this world that can bring lasting gladness. This world is gray. No, this world is worse than gray. It is overcast with a storm of tears and seemingly no wind to push the storm away from us. All is calm, but all is not bright. 
This time of year awakens in many of us the realities of death. Of relationships gone, of friends and loved ones beyond our present reach. Of opportunities lost, doors closed, and windows locked shut. For many, they wear a smile only because it is a socially agreed-upon thing to do. We smile outwardly because it is expected, while inwardly we rage, we curse, we fear, we long. 
In the long night of winter, we do not feel like merry-making. We sit in proverbial ashes and dust, waiting for the next time of fitful sleep to overwhelm our exhausted hearts. For many this time is the loneliest time of year. This is the time when death most tightly grips us with its ice-cold bruising grip. 
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Does God Judge and Should Preachers Teach about God’s Judgment?

We as preachers must always remember the aim of our proclamation is nothing short of the redemption of eternal souls (1 Timothy 4:15-16). The judgment that we preach is not a sadistic message of savage brutalism. The judgment that we preach is the righteousness of God, with the hope and aim of demonstrating the grace of God to sinners in Christ Jesus.

Let’s answer that question with a few things today, first, a few passages in scripture, second, with a story, and third, with a few statements for us as listeners of sermons and as preachers of sermons.
First, let’s look at scripture.
What does Scripture say about God Judging?
Hebrews 12:23 shows that God is the judge of all: You have come to God, the Judge of all,
Acts 10:42 shows that the Apostle Peter understood Jesus to be the judge of all, Jesus having been given that role by God: He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
2 Timothy 4:8 reveals that as he neared the end of his earthly life the Apostle Paul spoke of the Lord Jesus as judge: Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Hebrews 9:27 speaks about judgment as coming after death in a final eternal decree regarding the state of individuals: Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.
Daniel 7:13-14 prophetically recounts the vision of Daniel regarding the authority of the Christ to come: In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
John 5:26-27 connects the trail of authority prophetically spoken of by Daniel by which Jesus (the Son) has received authority to judge: For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
This is just a brief smattering of passages. There are worthwhile longer studies examining more passages in depth. Even from these few verses, it is very apparent, that the scriptures speak of God as being the ultimate judge, and specifically, Christ Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:19-20). Anyone who makes a statement like “God doesn’t judge” is speaking either ignorantly (not knowing the truth of God’s Word), or in blatant rebellion against God’s word.
A Story of a Preacher Speaking about God’s Judgement
It was dark on the cold streets of downtown St. Louis. While the region didn’t often get much snow, there was some accumulation on the sides of the roads. Not the beautiful glistening snow of hallmark movies. It was the dirty, muddy snow covered in the excess filth of a thousand traveling cars. I turned my car from the main street into the driveway and parking lot of a 4 or 5-story brick building. It had a distinctive feature that many in Old North St. Louis knew well, a towering dark chimney stack rising high into the sky. What once was a building filled with the fire and smoke of industry, was now a building filled with men spit up and chewed out by choices, addictions, and hard knocks. The mission shelter had 44 beds available for up to 44 overnight homeless guests.
I walked past the line of men who had gathered near the side entrance of the building. I nodded and said hello to a few of the regulars whom I had gained something of a relationship with. In the summer there wasn’t much of a line, and often we would have “extra” open beds, maybe averaging something between 20-30 men each night at the shelter. In the cold winter though, it was different. It’s much easier to find a place to stay for the night when it’s 80 degrees, than when it’s 30 degrees. When the winter was cold, the line would be long. More than 44 men would line up. Starting with the 45th man there would be hope that someone earlier in the line would lose their place for the night due to poor behavior, intoxication, or some other unknown reason.
My role that night was not to preach, but instead to help cook and serve. There was a meal served, and then a 30-minute chapel service each night at the shelter before the men were marched upstairs to the showers and bunk room. While we had volunteers (individuals and groups) come in and lead chapel, I learned from my time serving (and from the wise words of a faithful man of God, who I will call Randy, who worked at the shelter) to always have a sermon ready. Sometimes volunteers didn’t show up. Randy had always told me “The man of God must be prepared in season and out of season”. If the volunteers didn’t show up, it was my role to lead the chapel that night.
I asked one of the homeless regulars, whom I will call Greg, who had been there every shift I had worked, “Who is coming to lead chapel tonight?”. “12 Shot” Greg answered. I did a double-take. I thought “12 Shot? What is he? Some kind of vigilante preacher loaded with shotguns coming to the hood of St. Louis?”. I followed up with another question “What sort of preacher is he?”. “The best,” he said. I raised my eyebrows. The elaboration from Greg was brief: “He preaches fire and brimstone and grace”.
After dinner was served the volunteer to lead chapel did show up. He visited with a few of the men who clearly recognized him. He shook hands with some and sat down to talk with others. When it came time for chapel I listened and marveled. “12 Shot” told how at one time he was a “scientific drunk”. He had figured out how he would maintain his buzz throughout the day. 12 Shot would use various mouthwashes and sprays he would mask his breath, and he would take 12 shots each day at intervals to never allow himself sobriety. He proclaimed with boldness that he was a man justly deserving of God’s righteous wrath. He shared many of his sins that he engaged in carelessly against God and with full diligence and care to the satiating of his own desires.
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Typology: Elijah, Elisha and Jesus

Typology in the Biblical canon ALMOST always points to a (i) need for fulfillment, (ii) lack of fulfillment from God in the historical moment, (iii) One who will come and provide “yes and amen” (2 Cor 1:20) to all the needs, and lacks in prior shadows. Unlike an analogy or illustration (which always breaks down) – biblical typology, when rightly understood, is a mine of precious treasures to be delved into and kept close to the heart. If the typology begins to break down at a certain point, we need to be careful and watchful lest we tread into heretical waters tempting apostasy.

Question: Is Elijah (and also therefore accompanying disciple Elisha) a type or foreshadowing of Christ?
“It seems that in some ways Elijah was a type of Christ. In 1 Kings 17, he multiplied food and raised from the dead the son of a widow. Jesus feeds the five thousand and raises the son of a widow in Luke 7, which to me seems to be too specific to not be a coincidence. And then they both ascend to heaven, rather than die. Are there any other parallels, or possibly scripture that talks about this relationship more explicitly than Hebrews teaching on the types and shadows? And then do you have any resources that teach on the topic of Elijah being a type of Christ?”
Answer: Absolutely!
When we are engaging with a passage that we think there may be typological foreshadowing (or typological fulfillment) there are a couple of helpful frameworks to keep in mind:
1. The Object Casting the “Shadow”
Typology inherently involves identifying potential patterns or connections between multiple biblical passages. There are many differences between typology and other aspects of interpretation and biblical fulfillment (such as biblical prophecy, eschatology, inerrancy, and Christology). One distinctive typology is rooted in the distinct authorial intent of the inspired Biblical writer to draw a line between one person, place, or thing (like an event) and another person, place, or thing. In this way, one of the most helpful illustrations of biblical typology is that of casting a “shadow”. In order for something biblical to be typological of something else, it must have a prior referent (the darkness that is the shadow). Conversely, the thing typified must also have something coming after (object casting the shadow). We need to identify when doing typology both the shadow, and the thing potentially casting the shadow.
2. Looking for Clues
When we are asking questions of typology we’ve got to ascertain a level of biblical overlap expressed in the potential typological passage (using the historical-grammatical method, looking for words, references, illustrations, allusions, or explicit typological connections). Oftentimes the clues that are left will be genre-specific. The major and minor prophets often speak typologically about many things through heavenly comparisons. The historical books give narratives that can be sequenced or parsed to similar or near exact replication in future related typological passages. Phrases or words are repeated and used in a wide variety of genres including wisdom literature that are then picked up by NT authors in typological application or fashion (such as the New Covenant, Christ, or a host of other objects). We need to break apart (identify) the various clues that are leading us to consider a passage as typological.
3. Finding Fulfillment
Once we have identified the shadow and thing causing the shadow (#1) and considered the various clues leading us towards a typological possibility (#2), we’ve then got to consider the consequences in the potential fulfillment or inter-related relationship between the biblical passages (truths) typified. There are gross heresies that have spread about (paedocommunion being one of them, baptismal regeneration, and Nestorianism to name a few) due to their failure to recognize this third aspect of typology. If our typology leads to a fulfillment that is contrary to the rest of the scripture, we need to quickly be willing to admit our own faults, failures, and lack of understanding, and go back to the drawing board. Typology in the Biblical canon ALMOST always points to a (i) need for fulfillment, (ii) lack of fulfillment from God in the historical moment, (iii) One who will come and provide “yes and amen” (2 Cor 1:20) to all the needs, and lacks in prior shadows.
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Order in the Church: Paul the Sexist? [1 Timothy 2](Part 1)

1st Timothy says with love, affection, and beneficial instruction what the family of God is to look like, and how the individual family unit is to be shaped.  Paul writes to Timothy with clarity and precision about age (5:1-2). About younger and older women who are widows (5:3-16). About fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, and children. These are not offensive statements or instructions to the believer who is trusting the Lord Jesus. That trusts that His instructions through His messenger Paul are good and beneficial. To the skeptical unbeliever, these helpful instructions are as vile as Mein Kampf. 

The family is continually under assault in today’s contemporary Western society. Even defining a family can be tricky today with as many “blended”, “mixed”, “multi-layered” and “modern” family units and styles as there are. We all know that “Yo Mama” jokes are a great way to alienate. But nowadays culture considers any sort of defined role within a family unit or structure as offensive, abusive, and evil, it’s tough to put any concrete reason as to why “Yo Mama” jokes are offensive.  If there are no mothers or fathers and we’re supposedly all fluid anyway, these jokes would not be offensive. When the most basic unit of the human experience is cast away, the society doing the casting is not long for this world. 
Determining the Main Point of the Passage
I’m currently preparing to preach through the New Testament book of 1st Timothy. Whenever preparing to preach through a passage, it is essential to bring out the main point of the passage. When communicating the main point of a passage to a congregation, there are always questions that arise along the way. 
Why was X the main point of the passage? How does the main point apply to the church in the present? What are the cautions, or benefits regarding the main point? 
These are questions that the preacher must often wrestle with themselves during sermon preparation. If the preacher does not receive first what he must deliver, then the preacher may be speaking publicly, but the preacher is not preaching a faithful sermon from the Word of God. 
Depending on the passage at hand there may be some questions that are more secondary in nature, and some that are more essential to the main point of the passage. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-3, Paul’s main point is to remind the Corinthian church of the essential, salvific, foundational truths of the gospel. These first few verses then provide the introduction to the bulk of the foundational truths Paul wanted his audience to be reminded of, detailed in 15:4-8. 
There are many secondary questions that may arise about the passage, such as: 

What year in history did Paul visit and preach the gospel to the Corinthians? 
Is it possible to believe the gospel in vain? 
How does a person “hold firmly” to the gospel? 

These are all wonderful questions that can and should be answered in response to the passage. Yet, they are not the main point of the passage. The main point of Paul’s reminder (15:1) is the absolute necessity of belief (15:2, 3) in historical truths about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection (15:3-8) as the fulfillment of the promises of God in sacred scripture (15:3). If we miss out on the main point, we may have a variety of nice answers to important questions, but we will have missed the main intended purpose of the passage. 
Dominant Themes in 1st Timothy
I say all this as a preamble because in 1st Timothy there is a central point in the book. Dominant themes prevail throughout each of the instructions and doctrines. In the midst of that dominant theme (instructions on worship, community life, and family roles), there are many applications of the instructions that today are absolutely antithetical to the dominant voices in Western political ideology and religious preference. 
One Christian theme that is antithetical to current culture emerges as a statement of thesis within the first few sentences of the letter. Paul wrote:
“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Tim 1:3-5
Paul draws a firm line in the sand that stands against pluralism, and syncretism. In this instruction to Timothy, Paul reminds his young “true son in the faith” (1:2) of the incompatibility of God’s work by faith and alternative spiritual views. That’s hardly popular or welcome in today’s Western contemporary setting. 
Besides the exclusive claims of the gospel, 1st Timothy is sometimes neglected by contemporary preachers due to the Holy Spirit-inspired words regarding:

the ordering of worship, 
the ordering of church community life, 
and the ordering of family life.

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The Gospel Spreads Widely in the Present, and Forward Into the Future.

When we think of the gospel going out into the world there are a great many things that come to mind. Missions efforts, evangelistic crusades, interpersonal conversations about Jesus, baptisms, testimonies, transformed lives, church plants, sermons, bible translation, and more. Often when we think of the gospel spreading, we think in the present sense. We consider the present global spiritual landscape and then carry on with that in mind. This is a good thing and is in no way worthy of critique. The apostles were dedicated in their lives (during what was their time in the “present”) to the spread of the gospel widely. They traveled afar, and had gospel conversations with people from dozens of cultures, lands, and languages.
The book of Acts notes in a very specific and detailed historical narrative how the good news of the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and yet to occur physical return of Christ spread throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Within the span of a single generation (40 years) the gospel had gone from 120 followers in the upper room prior to Pentecost (Acts 1:15), to tens of thousands of believers in nearly every extended border of the Roman empire and beyond, such as Ethiopia (see Acts 8:26-40).
The gospel goes forward widely in the present. And we participate in the gospel going forward widely today in each of our local cultures, lands, and languages. But the gospel doesn’t just go forward in the present. The great victory of Christ in building a church wasn’t limited to a single century of human history. Christ’s victory carries on throughout all generations. Until Christ returns to consummate in the fullest sense the marriage feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9) the church is moving forward into the future. The gospel goes out widely, and the gospel goes forward into the future one generation at a time.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. (Luke 1:50)
Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. (Joel 1:3)
And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:3)
All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring (Genesis 28:14)

Who and How to Show Hospitality

The first step to start practicing hospitality biblically is to change your mindset. Rather than thinking of hospitality as a noun, an event, a specific party, think of hospitality as a verb. The Apostle Paul in Romans 12:13 uses a hunting word: “pursue” hospitality. Chase hospitality down. Run after hospitality. Take aim and diligently follow hospitality.

Last week, we took some time to define Biblical hospitality. We looked at the Biblical definition of hospitality and how Christians should understand hospitality biblically. Today, we are going to continue our discussion by focusing on the command and opportunities we have to pursue hospitality. Our culture has perfected the consumer good of hospitality. A western definition of hospitality is very much observable in the hotel and service industry. Hospitality can seemingly be purchased with a 5 star hotel with room service, comfortable beds, free robs and a gorgeous view. Thankfully, the Bible has much to say regarding what hospitality is in practice for the individual and wider Christian community. Let’s start by looking at 1 Peter chapter 4.
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:8-11)
Hospitality today is often delegated as something that women do. It is often conceptualized as a noun. A thing that only certain people should do because they are good or gifted at it. That is not how the Bible speaks about hospitality. Hospitality is not a gift some of us have, it is a command for all of God’s People. Notice how Peter is speaking broadly in verse 8 about love? Then later on in verse 9 connects love to hospitality. If hospitality is NOT a command for the whole Christian community, then neither is love. That would certainly be contradictory to a whole host of Old Testament and New Testament passages. Love is commanded, and one of the manifestations of love is hospitality.
There are some of us who are gifted in hospitality and some of us have to work a little bit harder. Just because something is hard, is not a valid reason for excusing ourselves from the command. 1 Peter 4 says we are to love each other deeply. As a body of Christ we are commanded to love one another and one of those aspects of loving others is through hospitality. Showing hospitality to others is a command from God, which can be really hard for some (introverts like me). Yet, despite the difficulty, demonstrating (embodying), offering hospitality is a central byproduct of the Christian life.
Elders are called to be exemplars of the Christian faith in their living. The two New Testament lists that speak extensively and prescriptively regarding the qualifications for servant leadership in the body of Christ include hospitality (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1). Think about that for a moment. In lists that are primarily about moral makeup and character, hospitality is included. Morality, from the 1st century apostolic teachings, included how a person treated an outsider. It was immoral for a Christian to neglect hospitality. This doesn’t just mean Elders are the only ones called to hospitality. This is an argument that strengthens the general command for all of God’s people. The Elder is to demonstrate and live in a manner that points others in the way of living that is Christ honoring. All the church should follow the example of the elders in so far as they are living exemplary lives for Christ. Therefore, as Elders are living in a Christ-like way by pursuing hospitality, so too the general Christian community is to live in a morally upright way by also pursuing hospitality.
We can look at verse 9 and see that Peters tells us to “offer hospitality without grumbling.” This makes a lot of sense when we see hospitality as a command rather than a gift relegated to a designated specialist part of the Christian community. If hospitality was only for those who were good and enjoyed being hospitable, Peter wouldn’t have needed to add in this remark about not grumbling. We have many examples in our culture of what grumbling looks like when showing hospitality, one of which is Al Bundy (The father from the 80s and 90s American Sitcom). He was hardly the most hospitable TV character. You can see the grumbling about hospitality in many online gathering spaces (like Facebook groups, Twitter, Reddit) as well. People don’t want to have others into their homes, so instead they go somewhere else. They allow somewhere else, or someone else to offer the hospitality, typically a restaurant, coffee shop or institute. God has called us to live by a different ethos than the world, to offer hospitality without grumbling. 
As we continue to read Peter, we can see that we are told to use our gifts well (verse 10). Hospitality is a gift. Some of us are gifted undeniably with this gift. Yet the call to pursue hospitality is not negated by the reality that some are gifted specifically. All pure Christian hospitality originates with a motivation that comes from thankfulness in what God has given. We show love for God by extending generous charity towards others out of the abundance that God has given to us. Notice that Peter isn’t talking about physical things at the moment.
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Defining Biblical Hospitality

Hospitality is something every Christian should be doing, but what exactly is hospitality? Hospitality can mean different things based on your culture, and upbringing. For some hospitality is what you receive when you stay in a hotel. A clean bed, space to be alone, a lavish breakfast and the ability to have your needs meet 24 hours day, that may be the definition of hospitality. For others, hospitality is someone opening their home for you to stay. Instead of a lavish breakfast, room to yourself, and your needs met 24 hours, you are invited into a home to help prepare the meals and to share rooms with others.
When thinking of hospitality we may think of family and friends gathering together. Hospitality can also mean a time when strangers are gathered together. Depending on your culture, it might be normal or weird to have strangers in your home. When we were a young family in seminary with only 1 child, we invited some other students over to our small apartment to join in Thanksgiving together. We were from different states, nations, and cultures and although we knew each other by name, we were not yet good friends. Despite our differences, because of our connection with Christ, we were able to show hospitality to each other and have a wonderful meal together.
Beyond our cultural perceptions of hospitality, lets see what God has to say about hospitality in His inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word.
First we look at Acts 28:7. Here we are in the middle of a story about Paul and his missionary travels. As he is traveling through a city, he is in need of some where to stay. A Roman official offers him a place to stay for the 3 days that he is in town.

There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. (Acts 28:7)

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