Are Christians Idiots?
When Christ spoke of the Kingdom there was a revolution going on in Judea and the world. The policies and practices of politicians and people had the world on a one way road to social and economic destruction. John the Baptist and Jesus were turning the world upside down. They were shaming the hypocrites who claimed to be following Moses but did not know him nor the God who sent him to free the people.
Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
The word translated ignorant is not the normal Greek word agnoeo meaning ignorant or unlearned1 but is the Greek word idiōtēs [ἰδιώτης].2 The English word “idiot” comes from the Latin the idiōta which came to mean an ignorant person. But in the Greek idiōtēs as used here in Acts meant a private "person not involved in public affairs".
Even the word translated unlearned in this text is not the Greek agnoeo nor amathes which can mean ignorant but it is the word agrammatoi which only appears once in the Bible and “should not be rendered ‘unlearned'”3 This word agrammatoi is rare in Greek text. Its meaning may depend on the period and use in context. I have found it describing the muster rolls of a battalion or a registry of members kept by scribes.
Christians provided for one another in charity and did not participate in the free bread welfare of Rome as we see the Pharisees doing.4 The Pharisees had chosen Caesar's ways and government as their benefactor. The Christians were not involved in the public affairs of the Pharisees. Christians were involved in public affairs of Christ working daily in the temple.5
The temple in Jerusalem, the same as those of Rome, was the center of their social welfare. With the baptism of John, Christ's followers, who were eventually called Christians, had opted out of a social welfare system that had snared the people under the authority of Herod's welfare state.6 Christians had another king, one Jesus, and were standing fast in the liberty of Christ. The persecution of Christians by public magistrates was often based on their refusal to participate in the temple welfare systems of Rome.
The word translated marvelled in Acts is “thaumazo” which is also translated in the Bible as "have in admiration" and "admire" . They were impressed and yet they did not like what they were hearing. Many modern Christians would not want to hear the truth of what the early church was doing either.
The Pharisees had been teaching things that were contrary to God, Moses and now Jesus. They professed God with their lips in vain. The people were going back into the bondage of Egypt under the imperial powers of Rome7 contrary to the command of God.8 They had been running their government and leading the people in a way that violated the Spirit of the Law established by God and His precepts upon precepts. They were making the word of God to none effect with their social welfare programs.
Many will decry this interpretation of agrammatoi eisin kai idiōtai.9 Christians need to be willing to know the whole truth and look at all things anew. If you will not learn the context in history when the Bible was written you will fail to understand the meaning of the authors. Simple misinterpretations by private souls can take the people a long ways off course in their quest for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Early Rome, like the Americans of the 17th century, had learned to govern themselves according to the ideals of the earliest republics. But maintaining that form of government requires great diligence and virtue.10 The Roman people had begun to look to their elected officials and then the office of Caesar for every social benefit. The more they neglected individual responsibility the more their liberty, their right to choose, declined.
With each new benefit the government became more and more powerful and the people became more self indulgent, apathetic and weak. Rome had become the peace keepers of the world and soon offered themselves as benefactors to other nations, but not without a heavy price. They would exercise authority over the people who were slothful in the practices of honor and virtue taught by the prophets of God. Rome like the United States11 began exacting tribute12 from its subjects to obtain the funds needed to supply those suggested benefits.13 The more power the people granted by vote or negligence the more the government became corrupt and self-serving.
The practice of expanding government power through offering to care for the people and shower them with benefits14 is as old as Cain and Nimrod15. From the beginning we were not to covet our neighbor's goods nor were we to make covenants with the people round about us to take from our neighbor. If you choose to eat with a ruler you were to put a knife to your throat for your own protection.16 You were not to consent with people to obtain benefits where there is one purse.17 If people failed to listen to these warnings then what should have been for their welfare would become that snare.18
These systems of welfare require registration. When Augustus called for such a registration
“He [Augustus first emperor of Rome who called for the census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem] was now, to quote his own words ‘master of all things,’ and the Roman world looked to him for some permanent settlement of the distracted Empire. His first task was the re-establishment of a regular and constitutional government, such as had not existed since Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon 20 years before.’... At home it was understood that he would year by year be elected consul, and enjoy the powers and pre-eminence attached to the chief magistrate [god] of the Roman state. Thus the republic was restored under the presidency and patronage of its ‘first citizen’ (princeps civitatis).” 18.1
Even in the Bible where Jesus and Mary were suppose to go to Behtlehem to be "taxed" the word used in the text was not really the word for tax. We see the word used in Luke 2:1,
Luke 2:5 18.2
Even in Hebrews 12:23 we see the same word translated written. 18.3
It is defined as
"to write off, copy (from some pattern)
... to enter in a register or records... spec. to enter in public records the names of men, their
property and income... to enrol." 18.4
Jesus was not enrolled because Joseph fled to Egypt.
Judea did not hate Rome. Rome had been invited into Judea to help keep the peace during a civil war. Many loved and desired their protection, generosity, and social security; besides, they were good for business. There were rebels, as always. There was corruption, as always. The Caesars were the protector of their peace, the benefactor of their welfare.
“The year 2 B.C. marked the 25th anniversary of Caesar Augustus’s rule and the 750th anniversary of the founding of Rome. Huge celebrations were planned. The whole empire was at peace. The doors of the temple of Janus were closed for only the third time in Roman history. To honor their emperor, the people were to rise as one and name him pater patriae, or Father of the Country. This enrollment, described in the Book of Luke, which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, has always been a mystery since no regular census occurred at this time. But the pater patriae enrollment fits perfectly.”18.5
This "pater patriae enrollment" also explains why Jesus said “And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in Heaven.” in Matthew. 23:9. This idea of the government being your Father and or benefactor that exercises authority is a major theme of the Bible. 18.6
Many of the people were entangled in bondage under the elements of the world because of these false teachings that had crept into their eschatology. Lawyers, Senates and Sanhedrin bound the people through the establishment of a social welfare scheme they labeled Qorban and Corban. In 78 BC19 the Pharisees and eventually Herod would expanded that social welfare system.
Jesus said through those ordinances they made the word of God to none effect.20 The original Corban, a form of social assurance, under Moses was based on free will offerings or sacrifice given through a living network of ministers who sought to serve the people. Herod's system included baptism, contributions, a temple treasury to store them, scribes to keep track of the mandatory contribution of members [the temple tax], and a network of ministers and synagogues to distribute the benefits according to statutory limitations.
The sacred texts should have been clear enough, but the Pharisees were able to twist the meaning of the words to justify themselves. The pride of the scholar strangles the hope of repentance. What part of free will offering and charity do they not understand? History of the pharisees has repeated itself in the modern religions and they have all betrayed their founders.21
John the Baptist offered an alternative system. It also included a Baptism ritual but it operated much differently. His network of congregations and ministers provided for their needy in pure religion22 through free will contributions – charity.23 They did not have entitlements but lived in hope. They did not give allegiance but lived by faith. They did not force their neighbor to contribute but lived by charity. There is no more revolutionary gospel than Christ's.
Modern Christians are ignorant of the full “Gospel of Kingdom” preached by Christ and the early Church. Some have even claimed that Jesus was a socialist. Modern socialism requires a social contract and the point of a sword to force the contributions of the people. Those who covet their neighbor's goods through the agency of these so-called state benefactors have become nothing more than human resources according to prophecy of Peter.24 They have more in common with the Pharisees than they do John or Jesus. That and their lack of knowledge is why they are back in bondage of the world.25
Christ preached a welfare system based on faith, hope and charity which required virtue and love for one another. The ministers of their society were servants of the people in an alternative system that set men free. Jesus told many parables on how His government of righteousness must operate. He talked about forgiving debt rather than arresting people and forcing them to pay. He talked about the poor widow giving more value than that of the rich man. He fired the money changers and instructed the ministers in the royal treasury.26 He refused to appoint captains and princes to rule over the people. He taught his minister that they were there to serve.
This was called the perfect law of liberty.27 It was a system of individual responsibility and honor. It had congregations and ministers. It was organized from the bottom of the hearts of men who loved the way of Christ according to the precepts of God. It divided the goats and sheep.
Some of the people of Judea and the world went the way of Herod, Caesar, and Pharaoh and some went the way of Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist and Jesus. The former denounced David and embraced the ways of Caesar and the latter embraced the highest son of David, the rightful king of Judea according to Rome.28
The Pharisees were socialist. Christians simply would not participate in socialist schemes that compelled the contributions of their neighbor because Jesus said “But it shall not be so among you.”29
People are under a strong delusion set forward by the Modern Pharisees of today posing as the Church established by Christ. They profess God and Jesus with their mouths, but they fall short of following His “Way”.
You cannot be a follower of Christ and seek to force your neighbor to contribute to your welfare at the point of a sword or gun. You cannot be a modern socialist and a Christian. Those who think they can may be idiots. They are certainly non-participators in the Gospel of the Kingdom preached by Christ.
We should all be striving to participate in the ways of Christ by serving one another in love and not coveting our neighbor's goods. If we are to be free we must set our neighbor free. If we are to be forgiven we must forgive our neighbor's debt.
There is no reason to opt out of the world or its systems until you are ready to opt into the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
The priests and preachers who say it is okay to covet your neighbor's goods through the agency of governments are not preaching the Gospel of Christ. It is time to repent and seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness by striving to do the will of the Father.
Tom Friess comments on this article on Inquisition Update