There is a word in the Greek, sumballo, that is defined as "to throw together". But when we examine the verses where this word is used we see a completely different definition.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred [sumballo] among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
The religious leaders in Jerusalem were upset that Peter and John preached in the name of Jesus. Further, they were upset that they had healed a man in the name of Jesus Christ. So these leaders pulled Peter and John in front of the council to answer for these things.
They couldn't say anything about the healing for the man stood before them whole so they set Peter and John to the side and talked among themselves about what they could do. Their conclusion was to threaten Peter and John and command them not to speak any more in the name of Jesus.
Their discussions are identified in the Greek as sumballo. The definition that is common for this word comes from the prefix sum, meaning together, and the word ballo, which means to throw. So the obvious definition has been to throw together.
But as students of the Bible we need to endeavor to see how God has used this word. Does it fit the obvious definition, or is there more to understanding what God is saying when He uses this word.
In this occurrence in Acts 4 the leaders are conferring, they are discussing what can be done to stop the spread of teachings done in the name of the man they had killed. There is a purpose and an intent to their discussion.
And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
They arrested the apostles because they taught in the name of Jesus and a multitude, about 5,000 believed. This got the attention of the religious leaders. They intended to put a stop to these things right now. So they arrested the apostles and had the night to consider how to handle this problem.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
During the night they sent out word and brought everyone together for this big confrontation. The religious leaders were prepared.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Peter turned the whole thing back onto the leadership and what they had done to Jesus, who Peter proclaimed to be the Christ. This meeting was not thrown together. The intent and purpose of the religious leaders was not thrown together. When they conferred, sumballo, they still carried the same intent and the same purpose. They needed to stop these men from preaching in the name of Jesus.
And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.
The context has Paul travelling to Jerusalem with some companions. After spending seven days in Troas the group was ready to move on to Assos. Everyone got on a ship with the exception of Paul. Paul walked to Assos and it was planned to met him there. The word translated "met" is sumballo. This is not something just thrown together, it is a planned meeting. It was with purpose and intent that they travelled to Assos and got together once again with Paul.
To define this word as "thrown together" makes it seem almost accidental, like it is hit or miss and taking away from the design and purpose of what is intended. Sumballo has a design to this placing together, a purpose to what has been brought together. Sumballo is not something that just happens.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
Before a king leads his country into war he needs to count the cost. Does he have enough men, enough money, enough resources? On what terrain will the battle be fought? What will the weather be and will it help or hinder?
The words "to make" are from the Greek word sumballo. Again we can see that sumballo has a design, an intent and purpose.
The mind works by association. When thoughts have been bundled together, sumballo, within our minds they will form a strong habit pattern. Before a person comes to the Word of God the world has built strong, ungodly habit patterns in our hearts. The place where all believing emanates has negative thoughts that have been placed together by design and with a purpose. The purpose is to exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
The word "pondered" in verse nineteen is sumballo. Sumballo takes place in the heart, the center of the nous, the home of our issues of life, and of all believing. Mary was putting all of these things concerning her son together in her heart, for the nous works by association. She would have begun this bundling of thoughts concerning her son from the time the angel Gabriel came to her and declared, "Hail, thou art highly favored..."
Mary was building a godly sumballo in her heart.
A large sumballo thought pattern in the heart could become almost second nature to a person. A reaction, an action taken without a moment's thought. You don't need the moment's thought because in your mind you have already thought this through and it is what you believe.
But there will be conflict within your heart when you begin to look to the Word of God as your new standard for life and living. You can hold the words of God in your heart in a specific area and yet see no results because you hold a larger sumballo thought pattern of unbelief concerning the same area.
1 Corinthians 15:51-55
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
You are a believer that goes to the Word of God and learns about the return of His son. you believe these words, putting them on in your nous and moving them to your kardia, your heart. You believe in his return.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
You have the doctrine. You have placed these words in your heart but you find no comfort in understanding the return of Christ. What went wrong?
The problem enters in with the other thoughts you have brought together into a sumballo habit pattern. You carry a fear of the unknown and maybe even a fear of death. You haven't quite moved to seeing and holding the righteousness God has clothed you with because you remember past teachings about being a sinner and going to hell. The ungodly thought pattern is fighting with the new thought pattern concerning the return of Christ.
If you have failed to believe your identification in Christ, if you are still fighting past teachings of backsliding and unworthiness, if you are still working on being acceptable to God, then it would be hard to believe the doctrine of the gathering together and receive the comfort God has provided in this doctrine.
Some will then try to focus in on the issue of unworthiness and try to squeeze that thought out of their head. But you can't dispel darkness by focusing in on the dark. Darkness is dispelled by the entrance of light.
Some others will devote their time to trying to find the point or issue that is holding them back from seeing the results God has promised. As I said with Mr. Hawking, believers aren't afraid of the dark, we just choose not to spend our time living in the dark.
Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
Nathanael knew no good thing could come out of Nazareth, let alone the Messiah. This thought pattern was established in his mind, his mind was fixed. But, out of respect for Philip he went with him.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
In a few simply sentences, spoken by revelation, Jesus turned Nathanael's mind upside down. Now look at the turn around.
Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
Nathanael has gone from, could any good thing come out of Nazareth, to Rabbi, thou art the son of God and the king of Israel. That is an amazing turn around and he did it without searching for the reason behind or the basis for the negative.
Searching through the darkness for light never works. Simply turn on the light and the darkness, or negative thought pattern, will begin to come apart as it is exposed to the Light of God's Word.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
That which is dead about us is our old man nature. We need to reckon [logizomai] the old man and his thought patterns dead. Our new standard is the Light of the Gospel of Grace in the accomplished work of Jesus Christ.