Apologies for the weak transliteration throughout: WordPress won’t do the Greek font my computer will.
Yep, the last one was in Latin and this one is in Greek. It actually started as the Facebook status the Greek Professor at Ouachita Baptist University posted yesterday, and I thought it was worth reposting. Now, I’m going to take his thought and grow it a touch.
The rest of his statement was this: that this should be the response of any pastor when someone tries to put us on a pedestal:Ego autos anthropos eimi!
It’s from Acts 10:26 when Peter is with Cornelius. After Cornelius has sent for Peter, in obedience to God, and Peter has gone to Cornelius, in obedience to God, Peter travels to Cornelius’s home. Before Peter even begins to talk, Cornelius falls to worship Peter, and this was Peter’s response.
Let’s take it apart, consider it, and apply it:
The ESV renders this as “I too am a man.” NASB makes it “I too am just a man.” The Official GCB/HCSB is “I myself am also a man,” which is very similar the KJV “I myself also am a man.
Any of you with a basic Greek grammar book can look up the words and piece them together to look at this. Here’s what I see in these words: the “Ego” is the Greek pronoun for “I” while the “eimi” is Greek for “I am.” You don’t need “I” when you have “I am” unless you’re emphasizing yourself. We make a big deal of Jesus’ use of this construction in the Gospel of John where many of His “I am” statements show this repetition. We don’t talk like this in English often, but it’s essentially “I, I am,” and it really shows an emphasis that speaker wants you to understanding something about himself (or herself, but both examples are men).
Then you throw in that “autos” word. Peter is not speaking of the car he used to get there, though we know the Apostles all shared a Honda in those days. That word gets a lot of different use in Greek, and one of those usages is “intensifier.” It adds more emphasis to a nearby word. Here I think it intensifies the words on both sides: the “I” and the “anthropos.”
He’s making a strong point about himself. What’s that point? “Anthropos.” It’s the general word for humanity.
Peter is stressing, about as strongly as possible, that he is a man, and no different form of man than Cornelius. There are several implications here about ethnicity, religious background, social standing, and language that could be developed, but I want to pick out one that’s closer to home:
Peter’s at Cornelius’ house as a preacher. Let’s take a look at this and how it relates to preachers and not-preachers. Or clergy and laity, or leaders and followers, or teachers and students, or whatever you want to use for those labels. If you look through the Bible, you will see that there are supposed to be some who are equipped and trusted to teach and lead–but there are some critical parts of how it all should happen:
1. Pastors: we are just people of the same nature as everybody else. If we ever start thinking differently, trouble will ensue. Cornelius tries to offer to Peter what belongs only to God. Peter stops him, right then and right there. He does not excuse it as “the respect due his office” or as “really intended for God, whom I represent.” He stops it.
In stopping Cornelius, he stresses not his time with Jesus that taught him better, not his experience in preaching that kept him from needing affirmation, and not the vision that brought him there. He stresses that his nature is just like Cornelius’ nature. We cannot think that we are ministers because we are by nature more holy or more righteous than anyone else.
2. Pastors: we must resist the pedestal for ourselves. The only one who will draw humanity by being lifted up is the One who went to the Cross: John 12:32. We must also be wary of placing anyone else on that pedestal. No, not wary. Vigilant against it. Nobody deserves worship and admiration as if they are greater in nature than anyone else. Except Jesus, because of His very nature.
Hear me clearly: there are people that good examples but we cannot exalt them. Neither can we sit back and be negligent while other men exalt themselves in the church-at-large and passively watch them wreak havoc.
3. People, including pastors: do not waste your worship on mere men. It belongs only to God. Anyone besides Jesus that accepts worship absolutely does not deserve it. This includes the near-worship of complete, unflinching devotion. There is one relationship besides your relationship to Christ that you should hold until death, and it’s the one Paul uses to illustrate the relationship to Christ in Ephesians 5: marriage. Your relationship as a follower, learner, led-one, or whatever you call yourself to a leader/preacher/mentor/whatever should be dependent on that person’s continued faithfulness to following Christ.
It is time that we stop enabling people that neglect this truth: only One was not a man just like us. Only One was sinless, died for us, and rose again of His own initiative. Only that One, Jesus Christ, has the right to receive worship. The rest of us? We may find good examples of how fallen but redeemed humanity can look, but we have to remember that our nature is redeemed mixed with flesh, while His nature was human and divine all at once. Let’s get that focus back where it belongs.