In his letter to believers in Colosse, the Apostle Paul implored believers there to walk in wisdom and redeem time.
Walk in wisdom toward those outside, redeeming the time.
What was Paul telling them, and why did he use the word redeem when referring to time?
One of the cornerstones of Kingdom living is understanding how to be good stewards of our time — our most precious commodity. Once it is gone, you can never get it back.
Most life coaches will tell you that the best way to harness the time we have on this earth is to develop routines or daily rituals. They say these habits will save time, and simplify your life. However, while saving time through daily rituals may be a worthwhile goal, believers in Messiah should also be primarily focused on redeeming time.
How You Redeem Time
If you take a closer look at the words time and redeem in the Hebrew and Greek you will discover something very interesting. The first time the word redeem appears in Scripture is in Exodus 6:6.
Therefore say to the children of Israel: I am Yahuah; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
Redeem in the Hebrew is גאל (Strongs #H1350) which relates to the ancient near east concept of kinship; that is to be the next of kin, and as such, to buy back a relative’s property, marry his widow, etcetera. The Greek word is exagorazo (Strong’s G1805). It means to buy up or ransom or rescue from loss. It comes from the word agorzo (#G58/G59) which means to gather in the marketplace to purchase. It implies the purchase of something. It has little to do with measuring the flow of time.
When you put it all together, the verse could be telling us that there is a window of time to do something. It implies that the opportunity will not always be here. In an agricultural context the meaning becomes clear. There is an appointed time that the farmer has to harvest the crops before the entire field goes bad. What Paul is saying is that we live in evil, dark times. We have limited opportunities to do the good works Yahuah has called us to do. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the busyness and troubles of each day, we will miss many opportunities to harvest souls for the Kingdom.
This is why establishing daily routines or rituals are important. These habits serve the purpose of putting us on auto pilot, so the routine things of living don’t devour our time.
When you choose to wake up at a set time each morning to study the Scriptures, it is part of the process of redeeming time. Maybe your ritual includes morning prayer or journaling while sipping a cup of coffee. Part of your daily routine can be devoted to exercising and planning healthy meals for your family.
When our days are organized, it frees us up for the important work of loving our neighbor and reaching out to the lost so they can experience the redemption Messiah paid for us on the tree.
Redeeming Time Will Cost You
The process of making the most of each day does not come easy. It requires introspection, prayer, wisdom and planning. When you have set goals for each day and routinely follow a plan, your life becomes less chaotic. Therefore, when you encounter crisis situations, they will be easier to navigate because of the good habits you have already cultivated. You will be able to see the opportunities for ministry Yahuah has set before you. It will be easier to discern the voice of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spiirt) telling you to “go there” or “speak to that person.”
Are you willing to pay the price to redeem the time so that others can be set free?
When you get to the end of the book of Acts you may notice something peculiar. Unlike most of the other epistles included in the New Testament (other than James and 3 John) Acts does not end with the customary “amen.” Chapter 28’s rather abrupt conclusion to the story of the beginnings of the early church has led to speculation that the book of Acts is missing a final chapter. This is an important observation since Paul was chosen by Yeshua to be the Apostle to the nations (Gentiles).
But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. ‘I will deliver you from the people, as well as the nations, to whom I send you, to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to Elohim, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Although Paul immediately answered the call to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, he was constantly being thwarted in his efforts by a certain sect of the Pharisees. The religious leaders who crucified the Messiah were determined to kill him.
“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and to the nations, that they should repent, turn to Elohim, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Yahudiym seized me in the Temple and tried to kill me.”
Many of us were led to believe that Acts 28 was the beginning of the end for Paul while under Roman house arrest. We were left with the impression that Paul was immediately beheaded in Rome. But was this the case? According to Dr. Ralph F. Wilson:
Presumably Paul would have had a hearing before Caesar (Acts 27:24) at the end of this period. The possible results might be: (1) conviction and execution, (2) conviction and much stricter confinement, (3) exile from Rome, or (4) Paul’s accusers don’t appear and his case is dismissed. Perhaps the significance of the “two years” of Acts 28:30 is that it is the statutory time that Paul’s accusers have to bring their case before the emperor before the case is dismissed. We’re not sure. At any rate, there seems to be a firm Christian tradition that Paul was released for a time before his final execution.
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Doctor of Ministry & Master of Divinity, Fuller Theological Seminary
As usual, do your own research. I have posted the text of Acts 29, better known as the “Long Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles” for your convenience. It picks up where Acts 28:31 ends. Or, you can watch the video which features a voiceover narration with images.
1 And Paul, full of the blessings of Christ, and abounding in the spirit, departed out of Rome, determined to go into Spain, for he had a long time proposed to journey thither ward, and was minded also to go from thence to Britain.
2 For he had heard in Phoenicia that certain of the children of Israel, about the time of the Assyrian captivity, had escaped by sea to “The Isles afar off” as spoken by the Prophet Esdras, and called by the Romans – Britain.
3 And the Lord commanded the gospel to be preached far hence to the Gentiles, and to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.
4 And no man hindered Paul; for he testified boldly of Jesus before the tribunes and among the people; and he took with him certain of the brethren which abode with him at Rome, and they took shipping at Ostrium and having the winds fair, were brought safely into a haven of Spain.
5 And many people were gathered together from the towns and villages, and the hill country; for they had heard of the conversion to the Apostles, and the many miracles which he had wrought.
6 And Paul preached mightily in Spain, and great multitudes believed and were converted, for they perceived he was an apostle sent from God.
7 And they departed out of Spain, and Paul and his company finding a ship in Armorica sailing unto Britain, they were therein, and passing along the south Coast, they reached a port called Raphinus.
8 Now when it was voiced abroad that the Apostle had landed on their coast, great multitudes of the inhabitants met him, and they treated Paul courteously and he entered in at the east gate of their city, and lodged in the house of an Hebrew and one of his own nation.
9 And on the morrow he came and stood upon Mount Lud and the people thronged at the gate, and assembled in the Broadway, and he preached Christ unto them, and they believed the Word and the testimony of Jesus.
10 And at even the Holy Ghost fell upon Paul, and he prophesied, saying, Behold in the last days the God of Peace shall dwell in the cities, and the inhabitants thereof shall be numbered: and in the seventh numbering of the people, their eyes shall be opened, and the glory of their inheritance shine forth before them. The nations shall come up to worship on the mount the testifieth of the patience and long suffering of a servant of the Lord.
11 And in the latter days new tidings of the Gospel shall issue forth out of Jerusalem, and the hearts of the people shall rejoice, and behold, fountains shall be opened, and there shall be no more plague.
12 In those days there shall be wars and rumors of war; and a king shall rise up, and his sword, shall be for the healing of the nations, and his peacemaking shall abide, and the glory of his kingdom a wonder among princes.
13 And it came to pass that certain of the Druids came unto Paul privately, and showed by their rites and ceremonies they were descended from the Jews which escaped from bondage in the land of Egypt, and the apostle believed these things, and he gave them the kiss of peace.
14 And Paul abode in his lodgings three months confirming in the faith and preaching Christ continually.
15 And after these things Paul and his brethren departed from Raphinus and sailed unto Atium in Gaul.
16 And Paul preached in the Roman garrison and among the people, exhorting all men to repent and confess their sins.
17 And there came to him certain of the Belgae to inquire of him of the new doctrine, and of the man Jesus; And Paul opened his heart unto them and told them all things that had befallen him, howbeit, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; and they departed pondering among themselves upon the things which they had heard.
18 And after much preaching and toil, Paul and his fellow laborers passed into Helvetia, and came to Mount Pontius Pilate, where he who condemned the Lord Jesus dashed himself down headlong, and so miserably perished.
19 Immediately a torrent gushed out of the mountain and washed his body, broken in pieces, into a lake.
20 And Paul stretched forth his hands upon the water, and prayed unto the Lord, saying O Lord God, give a sign unto all nations that here Pontius Pilate, who condemned thine only-begotten son, plunged down headlong into the pit.
21 And while Paul was yet speaking, behold, there came a great earthquake, and the face of the waters was changed, and the form of the lake like unto the Son of Man hanging in an agony upon the Cross.
22 And a voice came out of heaven saying, Even Pilate hath escaped the wrath to come for he washed his hands before the multitude at the blood-shedding of the Lord Jesus
23 When, therefore, Paul and those that were with him saw the earthquake, and heard the voice of the angel, they glorified God, they were mightily strengthened in the spirit.
24 And they journeyed and came to Mount Julius where stood two pillars, one on the right hand and one on the left hand, erected by Caesar Augustus.
25 And Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, stood up between the two pillars, saying, Men and brethren these stones which ye see this day shall testify of my journey hence; and verily I say, they shall remain until the outpouring of the spirit upon all nations, neither shall the way be hindered throughout all generations.
26 And they went forth and came unto Illtricum, intending to go by Macedonia into Asia, and grace was found in all the churches, and they prospered and had peace. Amen.1
1 This version of Acts 29 was reproduced from a work known as the “Long Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.” Also referred to as the Sonnini Manuscript, it is named for C. S. Sonnini, who translated the document from the original Greek manuscript found in the archives at Constantinople (presented to him by the Sultan Abdoul Achmet). You will have to do your own research and draw your own conclusions as to the authenticity of this chapter addition to the Book of Acts. Here are links to two articles for your convenience: The Sonnini Manuscript (from The Saxon Messenger) and The Lost Chapter of Acts of the Apostles (from Torah Truth Seeker).
~ It is widely believed that 2 Timothy was Paul’s final letter written prior to his execution while held in Mamertine Prison in Rome. Tradition holds that Paul was beheaded by Nero.
The Book of Esther has always bothered me. If the version of Esther found in most Bible translations is authentic, then why is Yahuah not mentioned in the narrative? There is no naming of the Covenant nor is prayer mentioned, only fasting. The historicity of Esther’s story is somewhat sketchy. And, from a personal standpoint, the way in which Esther became Queen is somewhat unseemly.1
As covenant people we owe our very life to our Creator and lean on Him to give us direction in good times and bad. So why was Yah not included in a book about a woman who would be instrumental in preventing the genocide of thousands of Hebrews?
While reading the R.H. Charles translation of the Apocrypha, I stumbled upon the “Additions” to Esther that are not found in the Masoretic translation of this book. More about this later. The important thing to note is there are two versions of Esther. The Masoretic Hebrew2 translation is devoid of any covenant language. By contrast, the Greek Septuagint version peppers the narrative with many mentions of the Most High, and includes the dreams and prayers of the central characters — namely Queen Esther and her cousin3 Mordecai.
Another interesting thing to note: the Book of Esther is nowhere to be found among the Old Testament fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Why? There are at least three possibilities to consider:
The leadership at Qumran did not consider the book to be authoritative.
The book did meet their approval, but no copies survived.
Esther’s story had not been written by the time the Qumran community disbanded.
The Additions to Esther
About a month ago I decided to read through the Old Testament using the Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Scriptures. It wasn’t long before I noticed profound differences in how the Masoretes recounted Esther’s story compared to the LXX version of the book.
For the sake of space and time, I will include and mark the main additions that appear in the LXX but are absent from the Masoretic texts. The Additions to Esther listed here are taken from the R.H. Charles translation of the Apocrypha.
Addition A – Chapter 1 (LXX Introduction)
In the second year of the reign of Artaxerxes the great king, on the first day of Nisa, Mardocheus the son of Jairus, the son of Semeias, the son of Kiseus, of the tribe of Benjamin, was a dream. He was a Jew, dwelling in the city of Susa, a great man, serving in the king’s court; and he was of the captivity, which Nabuchodonosor the king of Babylon carried from Jerusalem with Jechonias, the king of Judea. And this was his dream; and behold noise and tumult, thunderings and earthquake, confusion upon the earth.
And behold, two great dragons came forth, both of them ready to fight, and their cry was great. And at their cry every nation made itself ready for war, to make war upon a nation of righteous men. And behold a day of darkness and of gloom; tribulation and anguish; affliction and great confusion upon the earth. And the whole righteous nation was troubled, fearing the evils that threatened them, and they made ready to perish.
And they cried unto God; and from their cry, as it were from a small spring, there came up a great river, even much water. A light and the sun rose, and the humble were exalted and consumed the glorious. And Mardocheus, having seen this dream and observed what God had determined to do, awoke and keep it in his heart, and sought by all means to understand it until the night.
Mordecai discovers the plot of the two eunuchs.
And Mardocheus took his rest, as was his custom, in the court with Gabatha and Tharra, the two eunuchs of the king who kept the court. And he heard their communing, and searched out their counsels, and learned that they were preparing to lay hands upon Artaxerxes the king; and he informed the king concerning them. And the king examined the two eunuchs, and they confessed their intention and were led forth and executed. And the king wrote these things for a memorial, and Mardocheus wrote concerning these things.
And the king charged Mardocheus to serve in the court, and gave him gifts in respect of these things. And Haman, the son of Mamadathus, a +Bugaean+, was in honor in the king’s sight, and sought to bring evil upon Mardocheus and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king.
Addition B – Insert between Chapter 3:13 and Chapter 3:14
And the following is the copy of the letter; The great king Artaxerxes writes thus to the rulers and inferior governors of a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India even to Ethiopia, who hold authority under him. Ruling over many nations and having obtained dominion over the whole world, I was minded (not elated by the confidence of power, but ever conducting myself with great moderation and gentleness) to make the lives of my subjects continually tranquil, desiring both to maintain the kingdom quiet and orderly to its utmost limits, and to restore the peace desired by all men.
But when I had enquired of my counsellors how this should be brought to pass, Man, who excels in soundness of judgment among us, and has been manifestly well inclined without wavering and with unshaken fidelity, and had obtained the second post int he kingdom, informed us that a certain ill-disposed peoples mixed up with all the tribes throughout the world, opposed in their law to every other nation, and continually neglecting the commands of the king, so that the united government blamelessly administered by us is not quietly established.
Having then conceived that this nation alone of all others is continually set in opposition to every man, introducing as a change a foreign code of laws, and injuriously plotting to accomplish the worst of evils against our interests, and against the happy establishment of the monarchy; we signify to you in the letter written by Amanda, who is set over the public affairs and is our second governor, to destroy them all utterly with their wives and children by the swords of the enemies, without pitying or sparing any, on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month Adar, of the present year; that the people aforetime and now ill-disposed to us having been violently consigned to death in one day, may hereafter secure to us continually a well constituted and quiet state of affairs.
Addition C – Insert between Chapter 4:17 and Chapter 5:1
The prayer of Mordecai.
And Mardocheus besought the Lord, calling to remembrance all the works of the Lord, and said, ‘Lord, Lord, King that rules over all, for in Thy power is the whole world, and there is none that gainsayeth Thee when Thou wildest to save Israel: for Thou didst make heaven and earth, and every wondrous thing beneath the heaven; and Thou art Lord of all, and there is not one that shall resist Thee, the Lord.
Thou knows all things; Thou knows, Lord, that it was not in insolence or in pride or in vainglory that I did this, to wit, that I did not bow before proud Haman. For I had been content to kiss the soles of his feet for the salvation of Israel.
But I did this that I might not set the glory of a man above the glory of God: and I will bow before none save before Thee, my Lord, and I will not do it in pride. nd now, Lord, God and King, the God of Abraham, spare Thy people; for the eyes of our enemies are against us to consume us, and they seek to destroy the heritage that is Thine from the beginning. Despise not Thy portion which Thou didst redeem unto Thyself out of the land of Egypt. Hearken to my prayer, and be gracious unto Thine heritage; and turn our mourning into feasting, that we may live and sing Thy Name, O Lord; ad destroy not the mouth of them that praise Thee.
And all Israel cried out with their might, for their death was before their eyes.
The Prayer of Esther.
And Esther, the queen fled in prayer unto the Lord, being seized with an agony of death. and taking off her glorious raiment, she put on garments of anguish and mourning; and instead of the choice ointments, she covered her head with ashes and dung, and she humbled her body with much fasting, and every place of the ornament of her joy she filled with her tangled hair. And she besought the Lord God of Israel and said, ‘My Lord, our King, Thou art God alone; help me who stand alone, and have no helper save Thee: for my danger is in my hand.
I have heard ever since I was born in the tribe of my family that Thou, Lord, didst take Israel out of all the nations, and our father from their progenitors, for an everlasting inheritance, and that Thou didst for them all that Thou didst promise. And now e have sinned before Thee, and Thou has delivered us into the hands of our enemies, because we have given glory to their gods. Righteous art Thou, O Lord.
And now they have not been satisfied with the bitterness of our captivity, but they have laid their hands ,<in the hands of their idols>, to remove the ordinance of Thy mouth and to destroy Thine inheritance, and to stop the mouth of them that praise Thee, and to quench the glory of Thy house, and Thy altar, and to open the mouth fo the nations to give praise to vain idols, and that a king of flesh should be magnified for ever.’
Surrender not, O Lord, Thy scepter unto them that be not gods; and let not them that are our enemies mock at our fall; but turn their counsel against themselves, and make an example of him that began to do this against. us. Remember <us>, O Lord; make Thyself known to us in the time of our tribulation, and give me courage O King of the gods and Lord over all dominion. Put eloquent speech into my mouth before the lion; and turn his heart to hatred of him that fighteth against us, that there may be an end of him and of them that are likeminded with him. But save us by Thy hand, and help me sho stand alone, and have none to save Thee, O Lord.
Knowledge has Thou of all things, and Thou knows that I hat the glory of the wicked, and I detest the bed of the uncircumcised and of any alien. Thou knows my necessity, that I abhor the sign of my proud estate, which is upon my head int he days when I show myself openly; I abhor it as a menstruous rag, and I wear it not in the days of my leisure.
And Thy servant hath not eaten at the table of Human, and I have not honored the king’s feast, neither have I dunk the wine of libations. And Thy servant hath known no joy since the day I was brought here until now, save in Thee, Lord God of Abraham. O God, whose strength is over all, hear the voice of the hopeless, and save us from the hand of them that deal wickedly and save me out of my fear.
Additions D, E, and F describe Esther’s appearance before the king, Artaxerxes’ second edict concerning the Yahudim (Jews), and an interpretation of the dream of Mordecai.
More Questions. Few Answers.
There are other discrepancies between the canonical Esther and the LXX version with the Additions:
Mordecai is said to hold a high position at court in the second year of Artaxerxes, but in Esther 2:16 says it was the seventh year.
Mordecai is credited with informing the king of the eunuch conspiracy but in Esther 2:21-23 it says it was Esther who informed the king in her cousin Mordecai’s name.
Mordecai is rewarded but Esther 6:3,4 says he was forgotten.
Esther voices her hatred of her position as wife of an uncircumcised alien, but canonical Esther makes no such objection.
Haman is called a Macedonian but in Esther 3:1 his father has a Persian name.
As fascinating as these Additions may be they only raise more questions regarding both versions of Esther.
Bible scholar R. H. Charles has this to say about the authorship of the Additions:
The Additions belong to that mass of floating legendary material which in the course of years gathered around the name of Esther. It is impossible to assign a single date to them, as they are written in different styles, and may be the work of different authors, some of the additions (e.g. A, C, D, F) having probably grown up gradually and assumed their present shape after an existence of some years inn oral tradition.
The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Volume One, page 668
It is also interesting to note that out of Esther’s book comes the creation of a celebration known as Purim.
Therefore these days are called Purim, from the word Pur. Because of all the instructions in this letter, and because of all they had seen and experienced, the Jews bound themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should not fail to celebrate these two days at the appointed time each and every year, according to their regulation. These days should be remembered and celebrated by every generation, family, province, and city, so that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, nor should the memory of them fade from their descendants.
As students of the Scriptures we have to be both thoughtful and discerning. Like me, this may be the first time you have been made aware of the Esther Additions. It is not the intention of this article to cast doubt on the authenticity of either version of Esther. I merely want to expose you to information you may not have been made aware of in church.
1 Esther 2:8-16
2 According to 18th century Anglican scholar Adam Clark, the work of the Masoretes is, in reality, a commentary which has been integrated into the body of Scripture. Clark asserts that the Hebrew of the Masoretic Text (Masoretic Hebrew) is different from the Hebrew of the Patriarchs (Ancient Hebrew) in which Old Covenant (OT) scripture was originally written. It is based on the Hebrew which was rejected by early believers in Messiah (Natsarim).
3 Some translations describe Mordecai as Esther’s uncle while others say they are first cousins, with Esther being “the daughter of the brother of Mordechai’s father.” Both were of the tribe of Benjamin.
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