Legal Matters 2

1 Corinthians 6 1-11 a

Q. You said it was ok to take the dishonest contractor to court, but what about 1 Co 6? Didn’t Paul discourage lawsuits there?

A. First, let’s see what 1 Co 6:1-8 say:
1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?
3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?
4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church?
5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren,
6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?
7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?
8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

I did not quote 1 Co 6 because I did not think it applied to the inquirer’s case. Observe the following:
Who: neighbor (v 1), saints (v 1, 2), brethren (v 5, 8), brother (v 6 twice). Paul was talking about believers as plaintiff and defendant.
What: go to law (v 1, 6), lawsuits with one another (v 7), constitute law courts (v 2). This refers to Christians suing each other before unbeliever judges. It also refers to the lack of wise Christians competent to constitute law courts (v 2) and sit as judge to decide cases (v 5).
How: Avoid lawsuits and rather be wronged or defrauded (v 7).
Why: The testimony of the church is at stake, because we have been justified, sanctified and washed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God.

The inquirer’s case involved an unbeliever contractor defrauding a believer customer. This is a straight-forward tort case, in which a wrongful act by the contractor (substitution of inferior materials) caused harm to the customer (costly repairs and replacement), and led to civil legal liability. It has nothing to do with lawsuits between Christians, nor the unavailability of mature Christians judging such grievances. The issue does not involve the reputation of the church. That’s why I did not refer to this in the discussion. Simply because the passage is about lawsuits does not mean that it applies to the current situation. We must exercise caution in applying only relevant principles to the case in hand.

Are you Smarter than a First Grader? (3)

1st grader 2

Q. AB – CD = EF; EF + GH = PPP. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and P are unique digits different from each other. What’s A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and P?

A. For sure you can’t solve 9 unknowns with only 2 equations with algebra alone. But you can use logic and trial and error. One method is as follows:

1. First, the sum of any two 2-digit numbers can never be greater than or equal to 200. Hence P must be less than 2. It cannot be 0 because otherwise E, F, G, and H must all be 0, which is not allowed by the problem definition. Therefore P must be 1.
2. Secondly, since EF + GH = 111, therefore F + H must = 11, carrying 1 to E + G and E + G must = 10, thus making it 11.
3. E + G =10 possibilities include 8+2, 7+3, 6+4, 4+6, 3+7, 2+8. It cannot be 9+1 or 1+9, as 1 = P already. Nor can it be 5+5, as each alphabet can be used only once.
4. F + H = 11 possibilities include 9+2, 8+3, 7+4, 6+5, 5+6, 4+7, 3+8, 2+9.
5. Since each digit appears only once, each EG combination would preclude those FH combinations in which the EG digits are already used e.g. for E+G as 8+2 precludes the four F+H combinations of 9+2, 8+3, 3+8 and 2+9.
6. As there are six EG and eight FH combinations, four of which are precluded by each set of EG digits, there is a total of 6 X (8-4) = 24 possibilities, which are listed as follows:
a. 87 + 24 = 111, 86 + 25 = 111, 85 + 26 = 111, 84 + 27 = 111;
b. 79 + 32 = 111, 76 + 35 = 111, 75 + 36 = 111, 72 + 39 = 111;
c. 69 + 42 = 111, 68 + 43 = 111, 63 + 48 = 111, 62 + 49 = 111;
d. 49 + 62 = 111, 48 + 63 = 111, 43 + 68 = 111, 42 + 69 = 111;
e. 39 + 72 = 111, 36 + 75 = 111, 35 + 76 = 111, 32 + 79 = 111;
f. 27 + 84 = 111, 26 + 85 = 111, 25 + 86 = 111, 24 + 87 = 111.
7. Thirdly AB – CD = EF. Since A to H and P are all digits between 0 to 9, A must be > C and A > E as negative numbers are not allowed.
8. For each of the EF + GH = 111 listed in 6a to 6f, only the digits not already used by E, F, G, and H can be assigned to A, B, C and D to fit AB – CD = EF. For example, in 6a for 87 + 24 = 111, only 9, 6, 5, 3 and 0 remain to be used. In this particular case, only 93 – 06 would satisfy AB – CD = 87.
9. One can go through all the 24 possibilities in 6a to 6f, and by trial and error find out all the solutions that would fit each equation. Note that not all possibilities have a valid solution. For example, for 6f, while there is a solution for 27 + 84 = 111 (90 – 63 = 27), no combination of 9, 6, 5, 3 and 0 would satisfy AB – CD = 24 such that 24 + 87 = 111. Thus there are multiple solutions for AB + CD = EF, EF + GH = PPP. Perhaps you can write an algorithm to test all combinations.

Now, given the problem’s complexity, do you expect the average first grader to solve it? Or has the zealous examiner gone way overboard? Even though most people are not into mathematics and few would read this post, I wrote it not only because I enjoy mental challenges, but because there are similarities between this and bible study. As I said before, sometimes you need good detective skills to interpret the Bible properly.

First there is observation, noting all the details and the relationship between them. Some people just notice the prima facie evidence and jump right to conclusion. That would not do. Then there is interpretation. Some interpretations are possible until precluded by other observations not yet taken into account. You need to consider all biblical evidence and accept only the solution(s) that harmonize everything, because God does not make mistakes. Finally, sometimes you just have to accept the fact that there are no solutions this side of heaven, because God had chosen not to reveal everything to us. The mysteries belong to God. So come to the Bible with a keen but humble mind, ready to apply everything you learn and you will have a marvelous time learning from the Word.

Temple Tax and Principles of Interpretation (5 of 5)

Matthew 17 24-27 e

(Continued from yesterday)

(4) Did the disciples need to pay this temple tax? The following summarizes opposite views:

• Since they were Jewish males aged over 20, they need to pay
• Jesus’ parable only gave exemption to the sons of the king, not other family members or servants
• The disciples hadn’t received the Holy Spirit yet & hence needed redemption. Also salvation was not by default given by Jesus to all disciples or else Judas Iscariot wouldn’t fall from grace.

• Disciples were servants of the King (some disagreed saying they were no longer servants) and hence treated as family of the King
• Disciples were not only family members, but were sons of God (Rom 8:5; Gal 4:6)

Which view is more convincing, or in effect is this irrelevant because no matter what, the tax collectors will still consider Jesus and also these disciples had a duty to pay the tax?

I think we should draw our conclusion first from the text, and only secondarily from other passages. Let’s go back to Jesus’ answer.

He said, “Then the sons are exempt. However, so that we do not offend them, …” (Mt 17:26-27a). By using “we” instead of “I”, Jesus was including Peter in “sons”. The implication is that Peter, and by extension to other apostles, are “sons of the King” and not strangers, and therefore do not have to pay customs or poll-tax. I therefore side with NO, the disciples do not need to pay. They paid to go above and beyond what was required, not out of necessity, but to fulfill all righteousness.

I also agree that this is perhaps a moot point as outsiders may not see this, and would consider Jesus and His disciples have a duty to pay the tax.

Postlude. I dealt with this passage at considerable length to illustrate the proper use of rules of interpretation – observation, context, both immediate and broad from other Scriptures, exegesis vs. eisegesis etc. Studying the Bible is not a matter of private interpretation (2 Pet 1:20), saying what you want and justifying it by quoting verses out of context. I hope everyone, especially Sunday school teachers, would learn basic hermeneutics well before they teach either verbally or in writing. And I hope if you have rightly divided the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15) you will share it with others.