Earnest Prayer: a study of the Greek word ektenos

Prayer A to Z


According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, this Greek word “[comes] from a verb which means to ‘stretch out the hand,’ thus it means to be stretched out.”  In prayer, it conveys the idea of praying fervently, without ceasing and not relaxing in effort.  This kind of prayer is a continuous prayer of straining and stretching to gain the answer.

Ektenos is found only twice in the New Testament.  In Acts 12:5, it is used to describe the kind of prayer the church prayed for Peter, who was kept in prison.  In this verse ektenos has been translated at least four different ways.  The NIV and the RSV translate it as “earnestly praying” and “earnest prayer for him was made.”  The KJV translates ektenos as prayer “without ceasing,” the NKJV as “constant prayer,” and the NASB as prayer being made “fervently.”  I’m not sure which one of the translations is the…

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Why is “therefore” placed before the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12)?

In Matthew 7:12, we first encounter the word, “therefore.”

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. NASB

As a rule, that word “therefore” tells us that what is to come is a summary, or a conclusion of what has previously been said. At first glance, it may be difficult to see it. But it is there. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his commentary, points it out quite well. Let me explain as he does.

Verses one through twelve are tied together in two groups, and verse twelve is a concluding statement.

  • Verses 1-6 deals with judging others wisely.
  • Verses 7-11 is a reminder to us that we need His grace in order to correctly deal with and judge others. We need to know how to pray for wisdom.
  • Verse 12 is a concluding verse for the entire section (verses 1-11). It is how we are to deal with others. We are to treat them in the same way we would want them to treat us.

Analyzing Matthew 7:12

So, verse 12 is not a detracted statement. Some bible versions have it as such; but because of the word “therefore” we know it is not. As Lloyd-Jones points out, our Lord all along in this entire section (verses 1-12) is dealing with the subject of our judging others, and in this last verse (12) He shows us more specifically how.

This passage is popularly known as the “golden rule.” We are to treat others in the same way we would want them to treat us. It is similar to the teaching: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 19:19).

Also, Jesus adds that this teaching is contained in all the law and the prophets (of the Old Testament). For example, that we would take care of our neighbor’s ox in the same way that we would want our ox to be cared for (Deut. 22:4).

Why do so many of us renounce the Golden Rule?

The simple reason why so many forsake this rule is because of sin and because of self—because we are thinking only of self and not others. This is the problem for both the Christian as well as the non-Christian.

For the Christian, he has an obvious solution. He must confess his sin and get right with God. Then he will be able to see things from a new, godly perspective. He will be able to see things as Jesus sees them.

For the non-Christian, there is really no hope for him at all apart from Christ. He will always be totally for himself, always thinking of self. And you need to know that this sermon was not for the non-Christian. It was directed toward His disciples. Nonetheless, if one is convicted of his sin and gives his life to God and accepts Christ as his savior, he too can become a Christian. Then all things will become new, and he will receive new unselfish desires—so much so that he will be able to obey this golden rule: to do unto others as we would want them to do unto us.

What Are the Seventy Weeks of Daniel? Daniel 9:24

Studying Bible Prophecy

Daniel 9:24
Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.

Seventy weeks.  This term literally means seventy sevens, which equals 490.  It has the potential to mean either 490 days or 490 years.  Here it is clear that the Lord intends it to mean years; for this number, in years, is the exact duration that Israel had been rebellious by violating the Sabbath—and  so  God is using the same number of years for determining Israel’s future (most of which is now in the past).  Let me explain this further…

The Sabbath year was every seven years; and so we are saying that Israel was disobedient not only for that Sabbath year…

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SWEET PRAYER: Keeping Our Prayers As Sweet As Incense

Prayer A to Z

The following article is an excerpt from this book.

Since David prayed, “May my prayers be counted as incense before Thee” (Ps. 141:2, NASB), one thing we may conclude is that not all prayers are as incense.  Some in fact may be offensive to God.  Such are those prayers that are offered with wrong motives, which come from a heart with impure desires (Ja. 4:1-4).

Christ is the sweet aroma of our prayers.  If our prayers are not sweet before God it is because we have not allowed Christ to dwell in us and change us.  But if He is our reason for living, if He is loved by us and if we have let Him be Lord over us, to teach us and guide us and help us, and if we have let Him renew our mind, thus, if we have received from Him such precious graces of faith…

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Denying Self

Prayer A to Z


In Matthews Gospel, chapter 5, verses 39-44, Jesus shows us what the Christian character should be: to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to give to the one who has needs, and to love your enemies and bless those who curse you. But how do we do it?

Some would say, just do it. No matter how you feel about it, just do it. Well, I suggest that it is important to first put yourself in the right frame of mind. To be selfless, like Christ was. To be poor in spirit. That is one of the first things He taught His disciples. If we are to act with Christian character, we must do it with a genuine heart, with a Christ-filled heart. And it all starts with denying self and looking to Christ. How do we do that? I’ll start with Paul’s example and teaching…

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Northwestern Bible College: Getting Set Up

This is the Northwestern campus as it looks now. When I went there from 1977-1979, the newer buildings you see in the front weren’t there.

After I graduated from Coastal Carolina Community College, it seemed right for me to move home to Minnesota, and to reconnect with my mom. Even though I did drive home every Christmas (with my friend Dave Peterson who also lived in Minnesota), I hadn’t been home for any extended time since I graduated from high school. I went from high school right into the Marines and Vietnam; and then after the Marines I stayed in North Carolina with the Navigators for the next four years. I was definitely ready to go home.

My mom was recently divorced, had sold her house, and was now living in an apartment in St. Louis Park. When I got home, I had no plans, so, at first, I was just bumming off of mom. But after a week or so I found a job as a kitchen Stewart at the Radisson Hotel in Bloomington. My job description was a kitchen supervisor, but I actually did a lot more than supervise. Yes, I supervised the dish washers, but I also did scheduling, made coffee for all the parties and events, and made sure there was enough dishes washed for all the events. It was a huge job and I didn’t get paid much more than a dish washer. I didn’t complain much, but now that I think about it, I should have gotten paid twice as much as a dish washer—because of all the responsibility I had. I think I worked there for about four months, until I started asking myself, “Why am I here?” and “What do I rally want in my life?”

The answer to myself, and really to my prayers, were to continue on the same course that I was on with the Navigators—something in Christian ministry.  I knew my mom had gone to Northwestern Bible College for a short time, so that seemed like the logical choice. I went right for it. I quit my job at the Radisson, I talked to a counselor at the college, and before I knew it, I was all set up. I was surprised at how fast things were moving. I was accepted almost right away, I had no problem getting a government school loan, and I had an entire year of classes that transferred from my previous college—no problem.

Well, I was going to college again. But this time I felt I had a clearer purpose and a stronger desire.

13 Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

Jesus was alive on this earth for thirty-eight days after His resurrection.  During that time, I’m sure hundreds of people saw Him.  Here are thirteen of His appearances that are recorded for us in the Bible in chronological order.

1. He appeared to Mary Magdalene as a gardener (Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18). How fitting that this woman was chosen as the first to see Jesus.  For she was one of the most grateful to Him for what He had done for her—He delivered seven demons out of her; and from that time on she became one of those who stayed close to Him and ministered to Him of her substance (Lu. 8:2).  The third day after Jesus’ death, early Sunday morning she and two other women came to the tomb where He was lying to put spices on His body.  But they found that the tomb was empty!

So Mary and the other women ran to tell the disciples.  When Peter and John heard the news they ran to the tomb to see for themselves.  Sure enough, the body of Jesus was gone!  I’m sure they were confused and wondered what happened to it.  They went home.

Meanwhile, Mary stood outside the tomb and was crying.  And two white robed men asked her what was wrong.  “Someone has taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where He is.”

Just then she glanced over her shoulder and saw someone she thought was a gardener.  “Why are you crying?” He asked her.  “Who are you looking for?”

“Sir,” Mary said, “Do you know where Jesus is?  Have you taken Him away?”

“Mary!” Jesus said. 

Mary then recognized Him, and she ran and told the other disciples the good news that He was alive!

2.  He appeared to the other two women who were with Mary Magdalene—Salome and Mary the mother of James (Matthew 28:9-10). At first all three women were together, but apparently Mary Magdalene broke off from the other two.  I suppose she was younger and a faster runner.  Anyway, as these two women were going to tell the disciples that the body of Jesus was missing, Jesus suddenly appeared to them and greeted them.  Unlike Mary Magdalene, they knew Him right away—I suppose by His usual greeting.  They ran to Him, held His feet and worshiped Him!

3.  He appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34).  We don’t know the details of this appearance, only that when the two on the road to Emmaus came back to Jerusalem the disciples gave them the news that Jesus appeared to Peter.  So I am guessing that Peter is the third on the list to see Him.

4.  He appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32).  Since Jesus resurrection at sunrise, about four or five hours had passed by when He appeared to two men traveling eastward to the village of Emmaus.  We are not told how He appeared to them, but I suppose He just suddenly appeared out of thin air.  The scripture doesn’t say that the men were startled, so I suppose they thought He just sort of snuck up on them as they were talking.  Anyway, Jesus joined into their conversation, but the men didn’t recognize Him. God kept it from them.  They were talking about how sad and disappointed they were in Jesus death and how they thought for sure He was their Messiah.

Well, still being unrecognized, Jesus reminded them from the scriptures about how Jesus would have to suffer before entering into His time of glory.  And He explained to them from Moses and the prophets about who Jesus was. When they sat down to eat, as soon as Jesus took a loaf of bread and asked God’s blessing on it, suddenly they recognized Him!  And at that moment He disappeared!

Within the hour they returned to Jerusalem and were happily greeted with the repot that Jesus had risen and appeared to Peter.  But they had similar news to tell of their own!

5.  He appeared to the apostles, except for Thomas (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).  When the two men from Emmaus arrived in Jerusalem where the apostles were staying, it was Sunday evening.  They probably immediately began to tell their story.  But just as they were getting into it, Jesus appeared and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  As you can imagine, they were terrified and thought He was a ghost.  But Jesus tried to convince them that He was not.  He said to them, “Look at my hands and feet and side and touch me.”  And He asked them to give Him something to eat, and He ate a piece of fish in front of them. (This indicates to me that in our resurrected bodies we will be able to eat food and enjoy it.)

6.  He appeared to the apostles with Thomas (John 20:26-29). Thomas was not with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them on Sunday evening, and when he heard that Jesus had appeared to them, he didn’t believe it.  He told them that he wouldn’t believe it unless he saw the nail wounds in His hands and wound in His side. Well, eight days later, on a Monday, Jesus appeared to them again, this time with Thomas present.  Jesus again greeted them with, “Peace be with you.”  And He gave Thomas a great opportunity to believe.  He said to him, “Put your fingers here on the wounds in my hands and touch the wound here in my side.”  Then Thomas believed and said, “My Lord and my God!”

7.  He appeared to seven of His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-25).  Sometime after Jesus appeared to His disciples in Jerusalem, a few days later Jesus appeared to seven of His disciples beside the Sea of Galilee—Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, the two sons of Zebedee, and two others.  As it happened, they were fishing in a boat not far from shore, and they fished all night without a catch.  The next morning Jesus appeared on the shore.  They saw Him but they didn’t recognize that it was Him. 

He said to them, “Have you caught any fish?” 

They said no.

Then Jesus said, “Throw your nets on the other side of the boat and you will catch plenty.”

Well, I think you know the rest of the story.  They indeed caught fish—153 of them; big ones!  Peter was the first to recognize Jesus, and he was so excited to see Him that he jumped out of the boat and swam to shore to meet Him.  There on the shore they all had fish for breakfast. And Jesus was the cook!   

8. He appeared to the apostles on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18).  This appearance was not unexpected like the others. It was a pre-arranged meeting, and a very important one.  I think it was the meeting that was spoken about by the angels and by Jesus on the very first day of His resurrection (Matt. 28:10); He also told them about this meeting at the last supper (Matt. 26:32).  We call the contents of this meeting the Great Commission.  There on the mountain, overlooking miles of country, Jesus commissioned them to go out into all nations and make disciples.

9.  He appeared to over 500 brethren (1 Corinthians 15:6). Paul tells us that Jesus           was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve, then by over 500 brethren at once.  Thus it seems logical that this group would have seen Him sometime after the meeting on the mountain with the eleven (I don’t know why Paul refers to the apostles as the twelve, because at this time there were eleven).

10.  He appeared to His brother James (1 Corinthians 15:7).  We don’t know where this appearance was, but if James still lived in Nazareth perhaps it was there.  I wonder if Jesus popped in to visit His entire family!

11.  He appeared to the apostles and ate a meal with them (Acts 1:3-8; Luke 245:44-49).  Acts 1:3 tells us that during the forty days after His crucifixion Jesus appeared to the apostles from time to time to prove to them in many ways that He was alive.  On this particular day—I think it was the very day of His ascension—He was eating a meal with them in Jerusalem. And He opened their minds to understand the scriptures about Him.  He told them that after He left He would send to them the Holy Spirit and that they should stay in Jerusalem and wait until He came to them and filled them.

12.  His ascension (Acts 1:9-12; Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50-53).  After the meal He had with His apostles in Jerusalem, he led them to the place where He would ascend—which was in Bethany, on the Mount of Olives.  As far as I can tell from looking at a map, it was about a two mile walk.  I wonder what they discussed as they were walking.  I wonder if they were aware of what was actually going to happen.  When they arrived at the place it seems from the text that very little was said, except a final blessing.  He lifted His hands and blessed them. And while He did this He was taken up to heaven.  Wow! I’m thinking that the Father was saying to Himself and to Jesus, “The time has come; come on Home!”

13.  He appeared to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8; Acts 9:1-6; 18:9-10; 23:11).  As far as I can understand from the text, Jesus appeared to Paul three different times: 1) On the road to Damascus he saw His presence as a very bright light that temporarily blinded Him, and he heard His voice; 2) he saw Him in a vision; and 3) the night before he was taken to Rome, Jesus stood by him and encouraged him.

Source: This is a slight adaption of my original post, on April 2, 2013.

My New Personal Blog

For a while now I have been thinking that I really want to change my writing and blogging style. For so long now I have been blogging on one particular topic. I have a blog on prayer and another blog on bible prophecy. Those are good blogs, but I wanted to do something different. So far on the blogs I have, I have been very careful about getting all my information accurate. So I do my research before I write. But on this new blog my style will be different. I will be writing on things I already know about. I will be basically writing about me: my life,. my work, my interests, my thoughts or views on things. I think it will be much more free flowing and fun. I’m looking forward to it. I have so far thirteen different categorizes I want to write on–so I will be busy. I hope you find my blog interesting.