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Wordwise Insight, Issue #055
May 14, 2009

WORDWISE INSIGHT is the free monthly newsletter of


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): the meaning of "idle chatter;" insights regarding the feeding of the 5,000


MORE ARTICLES: Healing in the Scriptures; and James on Healing

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LIKE TO ASK A QUESTION? On a Bible topic or passage of Scripture? Or one about a hymn or gospel song? Click on Questions from You.



What the Bible Means by It

Question: Rose asks, "What is the meaning of ‘idle chatter'? (She later clarified that she was asking about what the NKJV calls "profane and idle babblings," in II Tim. 2:16.)

Answer: There are many references in the Bible to our speech, and the cautions we should take with it (e.g. Jas. 3:1-12). In Matt. 6:7 the Lord Jesus warns His followers not to use mere "vain repetitions" in prayer, "as the heathen do." In Matt. 12:36 we are told that "for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment." And in Eph. 5:4 "foolish talking" and "course jesting" are listed among sins to be avoided. But the text in Second Timothy refers to something else again.

First, a bit of background. There were apparently some false teachers troubling the church at Ephesus, and earlier the Apostle Paul had asked Timothy to stay on there and deal with this problem (I Tim. 1:3). In his second letter to Timothy he mentions sending Tychicus to Ephesus as well–perhaps to deliver his letter, or to assist Timothy. We do not know for certain.

The two letters contain many references to standing for the truth in the face of error (for example, I Tim. 1:3-4, 6; :4:7; 6:3-4, 20-21; II Tim. 1:13; 2:14-16, 23). Paul's point in all of this seems to be that there is no value in arguing endlessly with false teachers. It is one thing to identify false teaching and counter it with the truth. But if an individual is hardened in error, arguing with them is a waste of time. Further, continuing such disputes may give them a platform to spread their errors further.

We get something similar in Titus 3:9-11, and in Second John 1:9-11, where we are told not to invite the teachers of error into our homes. The latter...

To see the full article, click on Idle Chatter.


(Matt. 14:15-21; Mk. 6:35-44; Lk. 9:12-17; Jn. 6:4-13)

This miracle performed by the Lord Jesus is the only one of about three dozen specifically recounted that is found in all four Gospels. It is significant because of the number of people who witnessed it, because of the creative power displayed in it, and because of the deeper meaning and broader application it has to all the servants of Christ.

(Matt. 14:15-16) When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food." But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
“Send the multitudes away.” The disciples are saying to Jesus, “You are responsible here. Do something.” And their limited comprehendsion of His powers suggests this as the best course. But awareness of a need always brings with it an element of personal responsibility. They have observed the problem, and the Lord calls upon them to act. “You give them something to eat” (and the “you” is emphatic in Greek).

Their initial response, given to us by Mark is, “Shall we go and buy 200 denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” (Mk. 6:37). The denarius was a day’s wages for the common Roman soldier. It is doubtful the disciples together had anything like that on hand. So this was a way of showing the impossibility of their doing anything to solve the problem. If there were 5,000 men present (Matt. 14:21) with women and children, the total could well have been over 10,000 people. Even half a year’s wages would buy those present only a “little” (Jn. 6:7). When we face a seemingly insurmountable difficulty...

To see the full article, click on Feeding the 5000.



What Have You Done?

What had she done with her life? That question challenged a young woman named Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879). When she was twenty-two, she went to visit relatives in Germany. One day, she came in from an excursion, weak and weary. She seated herself in the parlor to rest and, looking up, observed a large painting of Christ.

In the picture, Jesus is stripped to the waist, bound, and crowned with thorns. Pilate, is in the act gesturing toward Him, calling to the boisterous crowd below, "Ecce homo!" (Behold, the Man!) Beneath the painting Miss Havergal read these words: "This have I done for thee; what hast thou done for Me?" The penetrating question stirred her heart, moving her to tears. She found a scrap of paper and a pencil, and quickly created a poem on the theme.

On her return to England, Frances Havergal re-read the words she had written. Thinking they were not worth keeping, she threw them into the fire. However, a sudden downdraft blew the scorched paper out into the room again. It was later found by her father, who read the lines and urged her to have them published. That is the origin of our hymn, "I Gave My Life for Thee," with its corresponding question, What hast thou done for Me?"

The hymn begins, "I gave My life for thee, My precious blood I shed, / That thou might'st ransomed be, and quickened from the dead; / I gave, I gave My life for thee, what hast thou given for Me?"

The point, of course, is not that the Lord requires us to somehow pay Him for Calvary. That is an impossibility. Salvation is offered as a free gift to be received in faith. Christ has paid its full price. The Bible says salvation is "by grace"–God's unmerited favour, and "not of works, lest ...

To see the full article, click on I Gave My Life for Thee.


The two articles linked below provide some basic teaching on what the Bible says about bodily healing. On this subject, there are many contradictory voices in our day, and some make grandiose claims that are supported neither by the Scriptures nor by a careful checking of events. What does the Bible say?

Healing in Scripture

James on Healing

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