Words, Words, Words

D L Henderson
4 min readSep 30, 2023

September 30. 2023

If you are one of the few who have read any of my essays, you know that I am trying to bring clarity to all the archaic words used in the Bible and all the doctrines established from misunderstanding those archaid religious words… Here’s another curious conflict of word ideas that come from two different parables… English Bible translations use either “leaven” or “yeast” — a picture of rising dough… I’m not critical of translating the word into “leaven or yeast,” but slanting the idea in only one direction misses an important point… So, how is it slanted?

The first: “Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and mixed into fifty pounds of flour until all of it was leavened.’ “ — Matthew 13:33, CSB.

The second: “Then Jesus told them, ‘Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ “ — Matthew 16:6, ibid.

Sometimes Jesus refers to leaven as bad stuff and other times as good stuff… Why most commentators say it’s only bad stuff, I haven’t a clue. It’s not the word itself that matters but how it is used in its context.

So, why does it matter? Jesus taught plain and simple and directly to the point.

To further understand why it matters, here’s a third parable: “Wherever the carcass is, there the vultures will gather.” — Matthew 24:28, ibid. Jesus said this while talking about the last days… Bling! A light ignites the imaginations of many, drawing them in… Fantastic prophecies about the end of the world, six six six, the Rapture, etc! They all burst into the mind… an explosion of personal opinions… I stress personal opinions and not revelations from God. It’s just too great a temptation for our intellectual minds to ignore, and we just have to dive into those murky waters ignoring the warning sign: No Swimming! There are big rocks below the surface you cannot see…

Again, two different word ideas where some translations have “eagles” and some “vultures.” However, that is neither here nor there. What is germane to my point is that giving into the temptation, such Bible Scholars cannot help themselves. They make long and complex dissertations explaining that the “eagles” — which translation best fits their established doctrine — represent the Roman Empire or some reasonable facsimile…

But, the saying is not complex at all…

Nothing to do with this really, but I think Jesus was referring to vultures but may have been referring to some birds akin to my friendly turkey vultures that often hover way up in the sky, above my backyard. They are a kind of a combination of hunter and scavenger. Eagles show little interest in carcasses. They prefer to hunt and catch their meals. Nevertheless, that really has little to do with my point. My point is this: The adage just means the same thing as one of today’s, very ordinary, and very common sayings:

“Where there is smoke, there is fire.”

It’s just that simple!

Maybe some Bible scholars are just trying to demonstrate their prodigious education and intellectual mastery of the Bible. Be careful of their leaven. Maybe they just like to participate in round table discussions, apparently without practicable determinations. People need Jesus’ solutions, not just a lot of talking, because we are living in a real, practical world.

Well, back to “leavening” — I tried to research the original Greek word, and the Bible Commentaries seemed to only refer to the bad stuff, while the original use was not specifically yeast at all but, according to Greek dictionaries, the common idea of the word was “a boiling or bubbling up.” I guess in either context, I would think of its meaning as a kind of percolating up from inside a person or group — either of good stuff or of bad.

Nevertheless, no matter how you or I think about it — “yeast,” or “leaven,” or “bubbling up,” or “percolating” — the yeast of the Kingdom of God will have the same effect as leaven in flour. You, being represented by the flour, will be changed through and through when you choose to mix God, Jesus, and the Bible into your life.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” — Romans 14:17, ibid. In other words, God’s eternal world isn’t about externals, neither physical or intellectual prowess, but what kind of character we internalize, those virtues within our innermost being, within ourselves that can be planted by and developed by the Spirit of God after one is born anew.

Therefore, be alert and reject what is boiling up inside of some religious and intellectual leaders. No matter their intentions, they might not know as much as they project. Therefore, be alert and discerning. We have to be careful what bread we eat. Some might be moldy.

God never said we should unscrew our heads and leave them at home on a shelf! Neither did He direct us to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. It’s a fine line. Don’t overthink, but don’t underthink, either.

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D L Henderson

Born 1950; HS 1968; Born again 1972; Cornell ILR; Steward, Local President/Business Agent; Husband, father, grandfather; winner/loser/everything in between