A Word Fitly Spoken... Today by Craig Crisera
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Proverbs 25:11 KJV
Bishop K.C. Pillai was a Christian minister who grew up in the country of India. He devoted much of his adult life to teaching Christians about Eastern culture (orientalisms) as it pertained to the teachings of the Bible. His comments about this verse of scripture are quite interesting. He said that the term 'apples of gold' is a reference to a fruit that is unique to the Orient. The translators chose the phrase 'apples of gold' because there is no English word for this fruit. The reason there is no English word is because this fruit is never exported. The reason this fruit is never exported is because it goes bad very quickly after ripening. For people in that area of the world it is a special treat because when it does ripen it is an extremely refreshing fruit to eat.
He also taught that the 'pictures of silver' would be more accurately understood as 'trays of silver' (as some other Bible versions also indicate). Putting these things together we can understand Proverbs 25:11 in this way: A word fitly spoken is like having this very refreshing fruit (at its peak - fully ripened, not yet spoiled) served to you on a silver platter.
There is a word in the Bible that for many years seemed to me to be quite unfitly spoken, and that is the word "today" in Luke 23:43.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43 KJV
I understood that the commas were added by men, and I saw by checking the Greek that it should read, "thou shalt be" and not "shalt thou be." Hence, it would be more properly rendered, "Verily I say unto thee today thou shalt be with me in paradise." And when compared with other scriptures on the subject, it must be understood as Jesus declaring on that day that at a future time they would be together in paradise.
And so I asked myself - Did Jesus really need to use the word "today?" The malefactor knew when he was saying this to him. If he hadn't used the word 'today' the translators wouldn't have had opportunity to distort the meaning by adding commas. I heard it suggested that, "verily I say unto thee today" was a common expression. But when I searched the scriptures I discovered that the phrase, "verily I say unto thee" appeared many times, and this was the only place where 'today' was tacked onto the end of it. So why did Jesus use it here?
One day as I pondered this question God showed me the simple, yet beautiful reason for the word "today" in this verse, and it literally brought tears to my eyes.
Let's look at the context:
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Luke 23:39-43 KJV
At the time that Jesus was led out to be crucified, two maleactors were brought with him, and were also crucified. One malefactor reviled Jesus, and the other confronted the first. Then he turned to Jesus and made a heartfelt request. He asked that Jesus would remember him when he came into his kingdom. In spite of the dire circumstances that they were in at the moment, he believed that Jesus would one day reign as king. And in acknowledging that he sought that mercy would be shown to him.
His request was for Jesus to remember him. I'm sure he felt that there could be many other concerns of greater significance for Jesus Christ at that time than this one sinful man. By his own confession this man indicated that he deserved to be executed for the wrongs he had done. I'm sure he felt unworthy as he made this desperate appeal to the one who was his only hope. As this man prepared to die he sought to find some relief from his anguish by getting some indication that there was a possibility he might be shown favor at the time of future judgment.
As he hung there and considered his eternal fate Jesus responded to this dying man. "I say to you TODAY, you SHALL be with me in paradise!" What is the significance of the word 'today'? To that man it meant, "You don't have to die wondering. It is not a matter of me remembering you at that time; I assure you at this very moment that you can expect to be with me in paradise." Jesus took what that man had proposed as a 'maybe in the future' and handed it back as an 'absolute in the present'!
That word 'today' which seemed so out of place to me for so long, must have been the most fitly spoken word that man ever heard in his life!!
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Proverbs 4:23 KJV
This is one of the great exhortations given in God's Word as to how we should set our priorities. The heart is the center of our lives; the source from which all other aspects of our lives eminate. The word "keep" means to guard. Let's look at another version which communicates this point more clearly.
Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23 GWT
What are we to guard our hearts against? Our natural tendency is to be on guard against others, but as we shall see, what we need to guard our hearts against are our own wrong attitudes and thinking patterns that can damage our relationship with our Heavenly Father. In this study we will look at one example of something we should guard our hearts against.
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Luke 12:15 KJV
The word "beware" means to be on guard; and covetousness is a heart issue. Possessions are neither good nor bad, in and of themselves, but valuing them too much can become a stumblingblock.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
I Timothy 6:10,17 KJV
Consider these verses. Verse 10 does not say that "money" is the root of all evil, but that "the love of money" is. Verse 17 does not say that they needed to avoid having riches, but that they should not put their trust in them. Love and trust are heart issues, and when misplaced they can cause us to err from the faith. Our love and trust are to be directed to God. He is the one who provides us with the things we need. If you think about it, this is precisely where the infamous "prodigal" son blew it. He asked for his inheritance and went on his merry way. He thought that if he had his father's things he would no longer need his father. We don't ever want to make that mistake with our Heavenly Father.
Going back to Luke 12, let's see what Jesus goes on to say after warning them to be on guard against covetousness.
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Luke 12:16-21 KJV
These are some of the things we see in these verses: Because this man delighted in his wealth, the only labor he saw a need for was to provide accomodations for what he possessed. His vision for his life was reduced to resting on his laurels. And when push came to shove his riches would ultimately fail him. His heart was full of covetousness so his gain turned into loss. Please note that the problem wasn't that his ground brought forth plentifully, but that what he thought within himself was tainted by misplaced love and trust.
Let's continue reading Luke 12.
And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Luke 12:22-31 KJV
Once again Jesus shows that there is more to life than the material things we acquire. Furthermore, he shows that there is no need to worry about having those material things because our Heavenly Father is faithful to provide them. So instead of being mentally distracted by our need for the physical stuff, we are to focus on the spiritual knowing that the physical will be taken care of without any fuss on our part! And just so that we don't forget, this section closes with another reminder that getting this right is a heart matter.
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 12:32-34 KJV
We need to choose to treasure the things that only God can give us. If we love the things of the material world, then we would do well to do whatever it takes to replace that misplaced affection with a desire to give. When we put our trust in what we can provide for ourselves we will experience the disappointing scenario described in Jeremiah 2:13 - "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
We can try to hoard everything we can get our hands on, and then watch it slip away from us... or we can put our trust in God who is faithful to supply our every need at the time we need it!
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5 KJV
The word "conversation" in the King James Version means "manner of life." Our manner of lives should be devoid of covetousness or greed. We can be content with what we have because of the last thing stated in this verse: God will never leave you nor forsake you. There is no greater wealth than that! God wants us to trust Him with our whole heart. He doesn't want us to have hearts that try to "run off with the inheritance" thinking we no longer need Him. Our lives do not consist of the abundance of things that we possess, but rather of a relationship with the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy!
Think These Things Through by Craig Crisera
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are
lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if
there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 KJV
According to my interlinear, the Greek words translated into "think on these
things" in the King James Version, could have been translated, "consider these
things." I'd like to look at a a couple of other places where the Greek word
translated as "think on" is used, and show why I believe that "consider"
better communicates the meaning. It would be short-sighted to come away from
this verse with the idea that we are simply being exhorted to think nice
thoughts. I believe that we are to deeply consider things that are true,
honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, having virtue and praise. As we
study God's Word we will find many things in these categories, and when we do,
we should carefully think them through with an earnest desire to gain as much
understanding as possible. There is a record in Mark that illustrates the type
of thinking I'm talking about.
And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there
come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,
And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee
this authority to do these things?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and
answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will
say, Why then did ye not believe him?
But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John,
that he was a prophet indeed.
And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith
unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things. Mark
This account of the scribes and elders certainly does not provide a good
example of thinking in the categories mentioned in Philippians 4:8, but it does
give us a perspective of the process of thinking. The word "reasoned" in verse
31 is translated from the same Greek word rendered "think on" in Philippians
4:8. Look at the way they thought things through. The questions they asked
themselves were for the purpose of weighing, considering, and evaluating. This
is the kind of thinking that we should apply to the types of things described in
Philippians 4:8. Let's look at another place where this same word is used.
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received
the promises offered up his only begotten son,
Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence
also he received him in a figure. Hebrews 11:17-19 KJV
Abraham's willingness to obey God is one of the most incredible things recorded
in the Bible. A casual reading of the record in Genesis 22 might lead one to
believe that Abraham's response to God's request that he sacrifice his son was
followed through on with absolutely no hesitation, but let's not forget that he was
human. The first place in the Bible where love is mentioned is at the beginning
of Genesis 22 referring to Abraham's love of Isaac. This was no simple request!
Abraham was obedient, but Hebrews 11 shows that he thought about this before
acting. The word "accounting" in verse 19 is from the same Greek word we've
been discussing. Before he set out to sacrifice his son, he considered things
in light of God's promises, and concluded that God planned to raise Isaac from
the dead after he was sacrificed. He didn't know exactly how things were going
to work out, but he found reassurance by remembering that God had promised a
future for Isaac. He thought things through and found the resolve to obey one
of the hardest requests ever made of any man.
There is never anything wrong with thinking things through, unless you are
trying to think of a way to get out of being obedient to God. Thinking things
through (in light of what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report,
having virtue and praise) is part of growing up in Christ.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your
bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of
your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect,
will of God. Romans 12:1,2 KJV
The word translated reasonable in verse 1 comes from the same root word in the
Greek as the word we've been 'considering.' We get the English word 'logical'
from this Greek word. Presenting our bodies as a living sacrfice is the logical
way of serving God when we understand his mercies. How do we present our bodies
as a living sacrifice? By using them to serve God. Being able to do that right
is going to require a transformation on our part. It requires a renovation of
our minds, not a casual 'thinking of nice thoughts.' Spiritually, we have the
mind of Christ, but we do need to do our part to 'put it on.' We will not
glorify God in our bodies if we do not become renewed in the spirit of our
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our
hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power
may be of God, and not of us. II Corinthians 4:6,7 KJV
I think that if you asked people what the treasure of verse 7 is, 9 out of 10
would say that it is the gift of holy spirit. That in itself is an example of
people not thinking things through in light of what is written. Verse 6 tells
us what the treasure is: the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the
face of Jesus Christ. Granted, that is something that comes to us via the gift
of holy spirit, but that is not the same thing as saying that the treasure is
holy spirit. We have this treasure of knowledge in an earthen vessel; our
bodies. That's why we can glorify God in our bodies, proving what is that good
and acceptable and perfect will of God. That's why we need to continually be
renewing our minds, and growing up into him in all things. I think that the
emphasis of verse 7 is given more clearly in some of the other versions.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power
is from God and not from us. NIV
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power
belongs to God and not to us. ESV
Our bodies are made of clay, yet we have the treasure of the Good News in them.
This shows that the superior power of this treasure belongs to God and doesn't
come from us. GWT
God has entrusted us with something very valuable. He didn't give it to us to
flatter us, but to enable us to glorify Him. And this is what we will come to
more fully understand when we honestly think through the things that are
recorded in God's Word.
I can not think of anything in life I find more rewarding than searching the scriptures for a greater understanding of the truth, that is, God's Word. Like the psalmist I deem it to be the greatest of treasures.
"I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil." Psalm 119:162 KJV
Whenever I have the privilege of teaching God's Word, it is always my prayer that those who hear will be encouraged to embark on their own personal quest to search the scriptures. I don't want them to settle for just hearing what I have to say.
"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Psalm 119:18 KJV
This should be our hearts prayer every time we open our Bibles to read. Hearing another teach from the Bible is never an adequate substitute for our own investment of time and effort in searching the scriptures. Acts chapter 17 gives the record of Paul speaking God's Word to the people of Berea.
"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17:11 KJV
When the Word of God was spoken they received it enthusiastically, but they didn't stop there. They searched the scriptures for themselves to see if they truly said the things that Paul told them they said. The word in the text that is translated "searched" implies more than a simple "looking for something." It means to investigate. Figuratively, you could say that Paul had given his statement, and they were investigating whether his case would 'hold up in court.' Do you think Paul was offended? Do you think he said, "How dare you second guess me!"? I doubt it. Especially when you consider the end result recorded in the next verse.
"Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few." Acts 17:12 KJV
Earlier in the chapter, when Paul had expounded the scriptures in a synagogue in Thessalonica, it said that only "some" of the Jews believed (the greater part of them went on a rampage against those who heeded Paul's teaching). But after Paul's sharing in the synagogue in Berea, "many" believed. These were the ones who searched the scriptures for themselves to see if those things were so. This is a good thing to do. This is what I think of when I hear the expression, "make the Word your own."
I'd heard that expression used over many years, and I suppose it may not communicate the same thing to everyone who hears it. But this is the way I endeavor to follow the example of the Bereans. I am of a ready mind when I hear someone teaching from the scriptures. But it never stops there. I do my own investigation. I take ultimate responsibility for what I believe. It may turn out to be exactly the thing I heard taught, but I believe it because I see it for myself. It may be that I don't see it exactly the same way as I heard it taught. I am reminded of a quote from a book I read many years ago.
"The majority of mankind think that they think; they acquiesce, and suppose that they argue; they flatter themselves that they are holding their own, when they have actually grown up to manhood, with scarcely a conviction that they can call their own." - Rev. J.B. Heard
This quote by Rev. Heard is found in E.W. Bullinger's "How To Enjoy The Bible." I have many a conviction that I can call my own, and that are the result of my own investigation of the scriptures. I hope to share some of those with you in future articles, but more importantly I hope to encourage you to truly enjoy the Bible by doing your own diligent investigation of the scriptures!
God bless you,