Now when it was determined that we [including Luke] should sail for Italy, they turned Paul and some other prisoners over to a centurion of the imperial regiment named Julius.
1. Who was Julius? and what was Luke dong there.
Julius centurion of the Augustan cohort. A cohort (regiment) of that name was stationed in Palestine during the reign of Agrippa II . Julius may have been on detached duty, performing such tasks as escorting important prisoners.
Scholars have not been able to identify the Augustan Cohort (a battalion of 1,000 soldiers, cf. 21:31) with certainty. Some of them believe this was the cohort responsible for communications and service between the emperor and his provincial armies. However this group may not have been in existence this early in Roman history. Since “Augustan” was a title of honor that the government gave to several cohorts, this simply may have been one of the Augustan cohorts that was based in the Syrian province. These Augustan cohorts served various police and judicial functions. CN
Since he was a Roman citizen who had appealed to Caesar, Paul would have enjoyed greater privileges than the other regular prisoners. Julius was another centurion (cf. Cornelius, ch. 10; 22:26; 24:23) who demonstrated fairness, consideration, and mercy, as this story will show.
The use of the pronoun “we” marks the return of Paul’s close friend Luke, who has been absent since 21:18. He had likely been living near Caesarea so he could care for Paul during his imprisonment. Now he rejoined the apostle for the journey to Rome. MSBN
2 And going aboard a ship from Adramyttium which was about to sail for the ports along the coast of [the province of] Asia, we put out to sea; and Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, accompanied us. 3 The following day we landed at Sidon, and Julius treated Paul in a loving way, with much consideration (kindness and care), permitting him to go to his friends [there] and be refreshed and be cared for. 4 After putting to sea from there we passed to the leeward (south side) of Cyprus [for protection], for the winds were contrary to us. 5 And when we had sailed over [the whole length] of sea which lies off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we reached Myra in Lycia.
3. How far was the voyage to Sidon and what were the conditions like?
Sidon. About 70 miles north of Caesarea. The ship had come from Adramyttium. A harbor on the west coast of the province of Asia, southeast of Troas, east of Assos. This was a small coast vessel fit for travel from post to post along the coast. They sought the protecting shelter of the island by sailing north on the eastern side of the island, then west along the northern side. winds were against us. Prevailing winds in summer were westerly. NIVSN
Prevailing winds in the Mediterranean during spring and fall usually blow from west to east and often from the northwest. Consequently this ship sailed north up the east side of the island of Cyprus . Proceeding north it came to the coast of Cilicia and turned west passing Pamphylia and landing at Myra in Lysia, the southernmost region in the province of Asia. CN
They made port in Sidon, a city about 70 miles north of Caesarea. Here, Julius, the centurion in charge of Paul and the other prisoners, allowed Paul to go to his friends and be cared for by them. From here on, sailing will not be smooth. When the ship set sail, they began to encounter unfavorable winds. This necessitated sailing close to the coast of Cyprus, which, to some degree, sheltered them from the contrary winds. Sailing past Cilicia and Pamphylia, they landed at Myra in Lycia. It was here that they had to change ships. RD
6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship bound for Italy, and he transferred us to it. 7 For a number of days we made slow progress and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus; then, as the wind did not permit us to proceed, we went under the lee (shelter) of Crete off Salmone, 8 And coasting along it with difficulty, we arrived at a place called Fair Havens, near which is located the town of Lasea.9 But as [the season was well advanced, for] much time had been lost and navigation was already dangerous, for the time for the Fast [the Day of Atonement, about the beginning of October] had already gone by,
4. What did the Day of Atonement have to do with any of this?
The Jewish Day of Atonement fell in the latter part of September or in October. The usual sailing season by Jewish calculation lasted from Pentecost (May-June) to Tabernacles, which was five days after the Fast. The Romans considered sailing after Sept. 15 doubtful and after Nov. 11 suicidal. NIVSB
Travel in the open sea was dangerous from mid-Sept. to mid-Nov., after which it ceased altogether until Feb. Since the fast (the Day of Atonement) of late Sept. or early Oct. was past, further travel was already extremely hazardous. MSBN
5. Is this advice from Paul a premonition, a word from the Holy Spirit, or just some acute observation?
13 So when the south wind blew softly, supposing they were gaining their object, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, hugging the coast.
14 But soon afterward a violent wind [of the character of a typhoon], called a northeaster, came bursting down from the island.15 And when the ship was caught and was unable to head against the wind, we gave up and, letting her drift, were borne along. 16 We ran under the shelter of a small island called Cauda, where we managed with [much] difficulty to draw the [ship’s small] boat on deck and secure it. 17 After hoisting it on board, they used supports with ropes to undergird and brace the ship; then afraid that they would be driven into the Syrtis [quicksands off the north coast of Africa], they lowered the gear (sails and ropes) and so were driven along.
6. What is this about the small boat and what does all this intricate detail tell us about the story?
to make the lifeboat secure. A small boat was being towed behind the ship. It was interfering with the progress of the ship and with the steering. It may also have been in danger of being crushed against the ship in the wind and the waves. It had to be taken aboard.
Luke’s magnificent account of the storm at sea is possibly intended to be more than just an interesting story well told. Here at the climax of his account of the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, especially through the labors of the apostle Paul, he provides in cameo an exquisite depiction of the state of the world seen from the perspective of Paul’s gospel: The peoples of the world (represented by the ship’s passengers) stand under the threat of God’s judgment (represented by the terrible storm), with Paul and what he represents being their only hope. On board are representatives of the world’s economic, military and political powers and Jerusalem to Rome, especially through the labors of the apostle Paul, he provides in cameo an exquisite depiction of the state of the world seen from the perspective of Paul’s gospel: The peoples of the world (represented by the ship’s passengers) stand under the threat of God’s judgment (represented by the terrible storm), with Paul and what he represents being their only hope. On board are representatives of the world’s economic, military and political powers and those skilled in navigating the sea, but none of these can master the raging storm to save themselves or their possessions. They escape only as they follow Paul’s instructions.
No other religious book gives such accurate detail of events. This just shows the credibility of the bible in general and particularly in the work of Luke as a historian.
Sir William Ramsey first Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology at Oxford. : It is said he set off to Asia Minor with the book of Acts in one hand and his archaeological tools in the other, firmly set on disproving the biblical account. After finding so much overwhelming evidence proving the accuracy of Luke’s account, not only was Sir Ramsay forced to admit that Luke was an historian of the first order, but was compelled to accept Christ as his own personal Lord and Savior. http://creationwiki.org/William_M._Ramsay
18 As we were being dangerously tossed about by the violence of the storm, the next day they began to throw the freight overboard;19 And the third day they threw out with their own hands the ship’s equipment (the tackle and the furniture).20 And when neither sun nor stars were visible for many days and no small tempest kept raging about us, all hope of our being saved was finally abandoned.21 Then as they had eaten nothing for a long time, Paul came forward into their midst and said, Men, you should have listened to me, and should not have put to sea from Crete and brought on this disaster and harm and misery and loss.22 But [even] now I beg you to be in good spirits and take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you but only of the ship.23 For this [very] night there stood by my side an angel of the God to Whom I belong and Whom I serve and worship,24 And he said, Do not be frightened, Paul! It is necessary for you to stand before Caesar; and behold, God has given you all those who are sailing with you.25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith (complete confidence) in God that it will be exactly as it was told me;26 But we shall have to be stranded on some island.
7. Is Paul doing a “I told you so”?
Acts 23:11 (ESV) The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
Paul presumably mentioned his former advice at Fair Havens not to gloat, but to encourage his fellow travelers to believe what he was about to tell them. What he had predicted had taken place, and what he was about to predict would also. An angelic visitor now confirmed God’s former assurance to Paul that he would reach Rome (23:11). He told Paul that all on board would reach land safely.
“This announcement that all will survive is remarkable. . . . This announcement is a key to understanding the rest of the episode, for it determines what must happen, and the acts of sailors, soldiers, and Paul are to be judged in light of it. From this point on, no method of escape is acceptable that doesn’t include all.”
Paul encouraged his despairing and perhaps seasick companions twice (vv. 22, 25). His reference to God’s promise would interest the other passengers in his Lord when God fulfilled this prediction if not before. Faith in God gave Paul great confidence and hope, as it always should. Notice also Paul’s beautiful expression of his total commitment to the Lord: “to whom I belong and whom I serve” (v. 23).
27 The fourteenth night had come and we were drifting and being driven about in the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors began to suspect that they were drawing near to some land.28 So they took soundings and found twenty fathoms, and a little farther on they sounded again and found fifteen fathoms.29 Then fearing that we might fall off [our course] onto rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and kept wishing for daybreak to come.30 And as the sailors were trying to escape [secretly] from the ship and were lowering the small boat into the sea, pretending that they were going to lay out anchors from the bow,31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, Unless these men remain in the ship, you cannot be saved.32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes that held the small boat, and let it fall and drift away.
8. Does it really matter how many fathoms the water was?
On Friday morning, February 26, 2010, on CBN’s 700 Club program, Chuck Holton submitted a report about a man who believes he found an “amazing Biblical discovery” on Malta. This nine-minute video segment featured Robert Cornuke presenting his theory about the location of the Apostle Paul’s shipwreck on the island of Malta.
Cornuke, in his persona as a “former Los Angeles crime scene investigator,” approached the account of the shipwreck of Paul in Acts 27 and 28 as a “crime scene.” As he read the Biblical text, he concluded there were four “clues” that needed to be found in order to solve the “crime.” He identified these as: (1) a bay with a beach; (2) a reef or sandbar where “two seas meet”; (3) a seafloor with a depth of 90 feet; and (4) a place the sailors would not have recognized. Cornuke concludes that the shipwreck occurred on the eastern shore of Malta, not on the northern side of the island as most scholars believe.
9. Why did Paul try to prevent some form escaping the ship?
Whether by divine revelation, intuition, or by learning of their plans from some human source, Paul became aware of their intentions. He turned to the centurion and the soldiers and gave them what were really orders: “Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved” (verse 31). If this was all that Paul said to these soldiers, he did not tell them that these men were attempting to abandon ship. He only said that their remaining on ship was necessary if these soldiers wanted to survive. The soldiers were thus acting to save themselves, as well as the rest on board. The soldiers were acting, as it were, on Paul’s orders. If the sailors didn’t believe Paul, the soldiers did. It seems that there was no protest from the sailors when the ropes to the lifeboat were cut. Now, no one had the use of this boat. RD
33 While they waited until it should become day, Paul entreated them all to take some food, saying, This is the fourteenth day that you have been continually in suspense and on the alert without food, having eaten nothing.34 So I urge (warn, exhort, encourage, advise) you to take some food [for your safety]—it will give you strength; for not a hair is to perish from the head of any one of you.35 Having said these words, he took bread and, giving thanks to God before them all, he broke it and began to eat.36 Then they all became more cheerful and were encouraged and took food themselves.37 All told there were 276 souls of us in the ship.38 And after they had eaten sufficiently, [they proceeded] to lighten the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.39 Now when it was day [and they saw the land], they did not recognize it, but they noticed a bay with a beach on which they [taking counsel] purposed to run the ship ashore if they possibly could.40 So they cut the cables and severed the anchors and left them in the sea; at the same time unlashing the ropes that held the rudders and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they headed for the beach.41 But striking a crosscurrent (a place open to two seas) they ran the ship aground. The prow stuck fast and remained immovable, and the stern began to break up under the violent force of the waves.42 It was the counsel of the soldiers to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim to land and escape;
10. Why kill the prisoners?
All must abandon ship now. This created a serious problem. The prisoners (at least the dangerous or violent ones) may have been in chains. If the prisoners were to make it to land, the soldiers would have to release them. The soldiers who were guarding them were not as concerned about their survival as much as the possibility of an escape. They intended to put all the prisoners to death, thus eliminating the risk of an escape.
The centurion did not seem to be concerned with any of the prisoners, except one – Paul. He wanted to spare him, and so he forbade them from killing any of the prisoners. All of the prisoners were spared, on account of one person—Paul, just as all of the passengers were spared for Paul’s sake. These prisoners were (pardon me for this) “twice pardoned.”
The centurion commanded that all should make it to land if they could. Those who could swim should jump first, and make their way to shore. The non-swimmers could wait a little longer, perhaps for the ship to further break up, and then clinging to some piece of floating wreckage, paddle their way to shore. RD
43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, prevented their carrying out their purpose. He commanded those who could swim to throw themselves overboard first and make for the shore,44 And the rest on heavy boards or pieces of the vessel. And so it was that all escaped safely to land
11. So is this a good news bad news thing?
They lost the ship but all of the 276 people on board were saved.
This unusually dramatic and vivid chapter stresses God’s sovereign control over circumstances to bring His will to pass, specifically that Paul should minister in Rome. It reminds us of Jesus’ ability to control the winds and the waves of Galilee to accomplish His will and to communicate His identity. He had sent His disciples into a storm just as He had sent Paul. Jesus had predicted that He would build His church and that Hades’ gates would not overwhelm it. This chapter shows to what lengths God will go to remain faithful to His promises. CN
ESVN………….ESV Study Bible Notes
- MSBN…….MacArthur NASB Study Notes
- NIVSN…..NIV Study Notes.
- JVM ….J Vernon McGee,
- ACC …. Adam Clarke’s Commentary
- BN …..Barnes Notes
- WBC…… Wycliffe Bible Commentary
- CN …… Constables Notes
- IC……….Ironside Commentary
- NET………Net Bible Study Notes.
- JFB…………..Jamieson Fausset Brown Commentary
- VWS……………..Vincent Word Studies
- CMM………….Commentary on Matthew and Mark
- BDB………….. Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT)
- Darby………..John Darby’s Synopsis of the OT and NT
- Johnson………Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.
- NTCMM…………..The New Testament Commentary: Matthew and Mark.
- RD………….Robert Deffinbaugh bible.org
The Flood as the major biblical cataclysm
The Genesis Flood should be regarded as the main mechanism for laying down the fossil record. While there may have been some localised post-Flood disasters, the sedimentary deposits of a continental scale can only have been deposited by the Flood because of the huge global effect of Flood hydrodynamic activity. Biblically, there is little warrant for insisting that ‘blot out’ means complete removal without trace. Rather, the natural meaning of Genesis 6–8 is the sudden death of many creatures in the Flood. To progress our understanding of some of the apparent anomalies in the fossil record, the various scientific disciplines need to interact far more. Only then can we properly model the complex fluid dynamics of heterogeneous flows and the consequent pattern of sedimentary layering that took place in the Flood year.
The Genesis 6–8 account of Noah’s Flood very graphically describes the world-encircling cataclysm that affected the earth. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in understanding rock formation as a result of the Flood and to a certain extent, after the Flood. Nevertheless a debate has begun between geologists,1 all of whom reject billions of years, but who take different positions concerning where the Flood ends in the rock strata.2 Some have argued that considerable sedimentation occurred after the Flood, as the earth adjusted to a new equilibrium. What has led geologists, such as Garner,3 Garton4,5 and others to this view, is that many dinosaur and bird tracks have been found in the rocks which (they maintain) can only be interpreted as post-Flood. Some go further and suggest all fossils of air-breathing land creatures are post-Flood.6–10 The traditional view advocated by Morris and other workers has been that rising flood waters engulfed creatures at different stages during the Flood—first the 40 days (Gen. 7:11,12) of the deluge from above and below, and then the persistence of the waters for about 5 months (Gen. 7:24).11–14 This view, though sometimes referred to by its opponents as the ‘tranquil Flood’ model, in fact regards the waters as vast surging tidal waves, with water coming from beneath the earth as well as from above (possibly from a pre-Flood vapour canopy). In a companion paper15 we consider a far stronger alternative view of the origins of the water from beneath.
How any post-Flood activity occurred is not easy to prove since we have no way of doing a full-scale experiment! The various theories are not within the purpose of this brief article—the debate on this continues. But all involved in the debate accept that we must always come back to Scripture to test all our thinking. What then are the key points that can be established?
The Flood was cataclysmic and worldwide in scale
Whatever post-Flood disasters may have taken place, one must never marginalise the Flood itself. Clearly Genesis 6–8 is there to show to mankind that in a very major way, God judged the world in its entirety. The Hebrew wordmabbul in the Old Testament and the Greek kataklusmos in the New are used only of the Genesis Flood. Psalm 29:10provides a less certain use of mabbul outside Genesis, but the destruction of cedar forests (v. 5), the movement of an entire geographical area (Lebanon, v. 6) and the shaking of the deserts (v. 8) seem reminiscent of Flood events. The Psalm shows that the power unleashed was never for a moment out of God’s control. A glance at a concordance will show that there are other Hebrew and Greek words used which can be translated to the English ‘flood’, butmabbul and kataklusmos are generally the words reserved as technical terms for the Genesis Flood.16,17
In a companion article,15 we suggest that the geological and meteorological upheavals of the first 40 days were indeed the major event, possibly with water coming from above because of vast fountains ejected from beneath.
The extent of the Genesis Flood is partly determined by the meaning of the word ‘earth’ (Hebrew erets) in Genesis 1–10, and (Greek kosmos) in 2 Peter 3:5–7. What is erets in Gen. 6:1 referring to? It cannot indicate Eden (Gen. 2:8), since Adam and Eve were evicted from it (Gen. 3:23). Nor can it be restricted to the ‘land of Nod’, where Cain and his descendants settled (and from where they may have spread, Gen. 4:16), since those who had increased in numbers included the descendants of Seth (Gen. 5:6ff.). Genesis 6:5–7 suggests that the reference is therefore to the ‘earth’ of Gen. 1:1 and 2:1 (i.e. all that is not the ‘heavens’), for in Gen. 6:7 there is an echo of the creation (Hebrew bara) of men and animal life recorded in Gen. 1:20–30. Moreover the words of Gen. 8:22 would hardly follow, if the promise in v. 21 applied only to the inhabitants of the early Middle East, for ‘seedtime and harvest’ are universal phenomena, in the same way that ‘day and night’ bring us to the universal context of creation (Gen. 1:5). This apparent universality continues in Gen. 9, where it is not regional man whose life is protected by law, but man made in God’s image (v. 6). Accordingly, the covenant of Gen. 9:9ff. establishes the universally experienced rainbow as the pledge of God’s promise never again to destroy the whole earth (the word again is erets).
2 Peter 3 clinches this line of reasoning, for in this chapter, Peter refutes uniformitarianism (v. 4) and proclaims that uniformitarians are ‘willingly ignorant’. He then states that after the creation of the heavens and the earth in Gen. 1:1–2, the ‘world [Greek kosmos] that then was, being overflowed with water, perished’ (v.6). The fact that the ‘heavens and earth which are now … are … reserved unto fire’ (v. 7), and will be replaced by ‘a new heavens and a new earth’ (v. 13) strongly suggests that the ‘world’ in v. 6 (equivalent to the erets of Gen. 6) was universal in extent.
The agent of the Flood was water
That water was the main agent of destruction may seem obvious, but it needs stating clearly. 2 Peter 3:6 states that the mechanism for the mabbul (Flood) recorded in Genesis was that ‘the world being overflowed with water, perished.’ In principle, the same command, but a different mechanism (fire) will bring in the Day of Judgment to come (2 Peter 3:7). This is relevant to those who suggest that in just the first few days of the Flood all air-breathing land creatures were entirely destroyed without a trace. To remove bones in their entirety would generally require fire, which is not the primary agent recorded in Genesis 6–8. We accept that fire may have played some part during the Flood, with magma flowing from volcanic eruptions, but scripturally the main agent of destruction was water. Fire could not have been the dominant force. Biblically, as discussed later on with the phrase ‘blot out’, it is difficult to make a strong case for all air-breathing land creatures being destroyed without trace. The argument requires that the word machah (Gen. 6:7—‘destroy’ in the KJV) have only one possible meaning, as ‘blot out’. However, there are other equally valid, but more plausible translations of machah as discussed later.
Scientifically, it is very difficult to justify that all air-breathing land creatures were entirely destroyed (bones and all) by the hydrological action of the water alone. One can accept that some creatures out of the millions engulfed by the violence of the first 40 days were dismembered, and that other creatures were pulverised by rocks etc. But to say that every single one of the millions of air-breathing land creatures in existence was annihilated is not consistent with the fluid dynamics of heterogeneous mixtures. Certainly the geological evidence does not support the argument that all land air-breathing creatures were annihilated while the sea-going creatures were not. Land creatures are found fossilised throughout the strata—not only in lower Palaeozoic strata which most Flood geologists accept are Flood deposits, but also in the higher Mesozoic and Cainozoic. The geological evidence suggests that the argued distinction between land and sea creatures is a false distinction since the churning waters would have contained both. Matt. 24:39 confirms that water was the agent responsible for the death of the people for it states ‘until the Flood came, and took them all away.’ The word translated ‘take away’ is the Greek airõ which is often used in the sense of ‘take up’ or ‘lift’ (e.g. John. 5:8 ‘Rise, take up your bed’). The biblical evidence is of rushing waters sweeping up people and animals into a vast watery grave. The straightforward truth from Gen. 6–8 is that the agent of global scale devastation by the Flood was water. It is a good rule to take the straightforward meaning of Scripture, unless there is strong testimony otherwise from other Scriptures.
The combination of both words mabbul and mayim
‘mabbul … denotes the cataclysmic phenomena of the 40 day period (7:12, 17) dated in v. 11. Apparently mabbul is also applied in extension of the precise usage in the Flood record proper to the year-long episode (9:11, 15, 28; 10:1, 32; 11:10).’
Hence there is some warrant for allowing mabbul to refer in a general sense to the whole year of the Flood.
But we must also consider a second word, that is mayim which means ‘waters, sea(s), ocean’. The way the two key Hebrew words mabbuland mayim are used is instructive. It seems from their articles that Garton, Robinson and Garner consider mabbul refers to the catastrophic precipitation and release of subterranean water, resulting in the mayim. However, they miss the fact that in the Hebrew, the words mabbuland mayim are linked, so that one is part of the other. This is shown by the fact that they are in the standard grammatical construction to show the genitive (possessive) relationship. In Hebrew, the noun which is possessed is in the construct form, followed by the possessor noun in its normal form.19
Thus, for example, sus ham-melek means ‘the-horse [of] the-king’ and devar han-nabi’ means ‘the-word [of] the-prophet’. In the Flood narrative the words mabbul and mayim occur in reversible genitive relationships. In Gen. 6:17 the Lord says, ‘I will bring floodwaters [literally, ‘the-mabbul (of) the-mayim’] upon the earth.’ Then in Gen. 7:7 Noah and his family ‘entered the ark to escape the-mayim (of) the-mabbul’(cf. Gen. 7:10: ‘The-mayim [of] the-mabbul’ came [Hebrew ‘were’] on the earth). Therefore the mabbul may be part of the mayim and themayim may be part of the mabbul. Unlike (say) ‘the king’s horse’ or ‘the prophet’s word’, where the order cannot be changed, the two nouns are reversible. This implies that the mayim is not simply the effect of the mabbul, unless by the same token mabbul can be regarded as the effect of the mayim. Thus the most sensible way to interpret these expressions is to see that in the Flood narrative mabbul, mayim, mabbul-ha-mayim and mayim-ha-mabbul are all the same thing.
So the warning in Gen. 6:17 is that God will bring a catastrophic deluge and release of subterranean waters which will inundate the planet and wipe out the whole of life. The catastrophe would not end after 40 days.
Similarly in Gen. 7:4 (where neither mabbul nor mayim are used) the rain ‘will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature’. But if the rain had been able to drain off the land, there would have been no mabbul, for mabbul necessarily implies mayim. In consequence ‘the-mabbul’ was literally ‘mayim upon-the-earth’ (7:6), for mabbul and mayim are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Obviously the mayimof 7:24 are still the mayim of the mabbul, and it is the end of the mabbul which is described in 8:13 (‘the mayim had dried up from the earth’). This is underlined in 9:28 where it says that Noah lived 350 years after the mabbul. Since he was 599 at the outset of the mabbul(7:11) and just turned 600 at its end, it is obvious that the mabbul lasted one year, showing that mabbul must here refer to the whole Flood year.
This shows that mabbul and mayim are used almost interchangeably and underlines the importance of regarding mabbul as connected with the whole Flood year notwithstanding the fact that there are places in the text (e.g. Gen. 7:17) where mabbul is especially used in reference to the first 40 days.
Thus the destructive force of the 150 days of the waters ‘increasing’ (7:17), ‘prevailing’ (7:18), ‘increasing greatly’ (7:18), ‘prevailing exceedingly’ (7:19), ‘returning from off the earth’ (literally ‘going and returning’, 8:3) should not be underestimated. It is significant that the death of living creatures (7:21–24) is recorded after the waters had covered ‘the high hills’ (7:19). The account of chapters 6–8 is so detailed an account of all the events before and during the Flood, that it is difficult to escape the conclusion that biblically there was a process of at least 150 days (7:24) involved in destroying all the land creatures (including man). The only other alternative is to have the waters covering ‘the high hills’ (7:19) after 40 days with protracted coverage till 150 days (7:24)—which still implies that the destruction of 7:21–23 carried on till the end of the whole 150 day period. Certainly the vast majority of land creatures would have been destroyed in the first 40 days, particularly if the waters from above were due to gigantic fountains of water emanating from beneath the earth (see our companion article where possible models are discussed).15 However, the Scriptures record the final destruction of all land creatures (which was always the expressed purpose of the Flood) near the end of the first 150 days (7:21–24). The significance of this important point will be considered with the meaning of the word ‘blot out’ in a later section.
Underground water was involved
The ‘fountains of the great deep’ seem more consistent with subterranean water pushed up from large, deep, underground cavities rather than relatively small terrestrial springs. Although the latter may explain the removal of all land creatures quickly, it is not consistent with the straightforward understanding of Gen. 7:17–24, which speaks of the waters prevailing (7:18), and then prevailing exceedingly (7:19) for 150 days (7:24). However, this prevailing is entirely consistent with subterranean fountains issuing water to the oceans with, no doubt, tsunami of continental proportions crisscrossing the globe and leading to gigantic tidal waves on reaching the shorelines of any exposed land.
The floodwaters had to drain off the land, and since all the high ground of the pre-Flood earth was inundated, new ocean basins had to be formed to accommodate the much greater amount of water now on the earth. This fits well with Psalm 104:8 which probably speaks of the mountains rising and the valleys sinking. This implies huge geological upheaval.
The ‘fountains of the great deep’ were literally the ‘springs of the ocean’. Were these visible? Being the springs of the oceans would they be on a vaster scale than those on land? If they were (and the hydroplate model referred to in the companion article15 would suggest this), considerable geological activity must have taken place on the ocean floor.
The stated purpose of the Flood
Genesis 6:7, 17 and 7:21–23 state clearly God’s purpose was to destroy all air-breathing land creatures. The word ‘destroy’ used in Genesis 6:7 is machah which means to wipe out. That used in Genesis 6:13, 9:11 and 9:15 is shachath which means to ‘corrupt, ruin, decay’. In particular, Gen. 9:11 speaks of never again destroying either the earth or all flesh (Gen. 9:15). The earth was not annihilated (that is made non-existent or all traces removed), though it was devastated. Similarly by implication, neither were the creatures totally annihilated. That is why Gen. 7:4 states that all creatures would be destroyed ‘from off the face of the earth.’
In the New Testament, Luke 17:27 says ‘the Flood came, and destroyed them all.’ The Greek word here is apollumi which, with persons as the object, means to ruin or destroy.20 The Greek word apollumi, is also commonly translated to ‘kill’ (e.g. Gen. 20:4; Mark 3:6; Luke 19:47). Obviously the action of killing results in a corpse, therefore Luke 17:27 does not support the idea that the Genesis Flood caused total annihilation. The word apollumi does not demand or imply destruction without trace. Vine writes, ‘… the idea is not extinction, but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well-being.’ 21
Generally the word apollumi means ‘ruin’, ‘destroy’, ‘lose’ or simply ‘failure to obtain’. The force of this word comes out in another passage in the same Gospel. The same word apollumi is used in Luke 15:32, ‘for this thy brother was dead … was lost, and is found.’ The lost son was not utterly removed without trace. Rather the prodigal son was removed from the father.
We also have a further insight from Matthew 24:39 that ‘the Flood came, and took them all away.’ The operative word is airõ which means ‘to take away, bear away, carry off’. Could this be clearer? All of these shades of meaning to the word airõ simply say that the Flood swept all air-breathing land creatures out of sight. Extinction and annihilation of all remains is not ruled out, but is very unlikely in the light of the specific reference to the final death of all creatures taking place at the end of the 150 days. The strong suggestion is death by the initial onslaught of the enormous force of flowing water, or subsequent drowning if some creatures survived the initial waves. This is all consistent with violent, catastrophic burial by sediments and the fossils we observe today.
The NIV also translates shachath as ‘devastate’ (Joshua 22:33), ‘destroy’ (1 Sam 23:10—at the worst this would have left Keilah in ruins), ‘ruin’ (Jer. 12:10—in a parallel expression ‘trample down my field’) and ‘destroy’ (Ezek. 26:4). In this last reference the extreme nature of the destruction is indicated: ‘I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock.’ However Wiseman says that excavations have traced some of the ancient foundations of Tyre.23 Evidently, even in this context, ‘destroy’ did not imply that no traces would survive.
Returning to the Genesis account of the Flood, the Lord says in Genesis 6:11, 12a and 12b, that the earth was ‘corrupt before God’. The word for ‘corrupt’ is the same as that used in Genesis 6:13, ‘I will destroy them with the earth.’ The key to the Flood account lies in this word ‘destroy’ (shachath). God did not annihilate all evidence of the creatures, any more than He annihilated the earth. Rather, as men were already corrupt spiritually, God had them destroyed physically, drowned, and removed from sight (‘from the face of the earth’). This is exactly the same way that at the final judgment unbelievers will be put into outer darkness, destroyed (apollumi) and cast into hell (gehenna) (Matt. 10:28). This does not mean, of course, that all fossils of all people destroyed in the Flood are preserved, but suggests that we should expect to find some evidence of catastrophic burial.
The word ‘blot out’ in Genesis 6:7
Robinson, Garner and Garton all consider that the Flood requires ‘blot out’ to mean ‘eliminate without trace’ and claim Psalm 51:1 as support. If the word ‘blot out’ does not mean ‘eliminate without trace’ in Psalm 51:1, they ask what sort of salvation do Christians have? If our sins have been totally eliminated without trace by the saving work of Christ, then the pre-Flood world must also have been eliminated without trace. Hence, the fossils must have been formed after the Flood etc. This may seem a strong argument.
However, the passages listed in Young’s Concordance under the Hebrew word machah do not support Garton and Garner’s view. ConsiderPsalm 51:1 which speaks of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and its subsequent cover-up. David asks God to blot out his sin which God does. However, the fact that we know of David’s sin implies that God did not blot it out completely. It is still recorded in Scripture. Revelation 5 teaches us that even those in heaven worship the Lamb, that is the Lamb of God who took away their sin and by that redemptive act redeemed His people by His own blood (Rev 5:9). Therefore, not all trace of the sins of God’s people will be eliminated, for the Lamb will be a continual reminder of our great debt. McCheyne’s hymn, ‘When this passing world is done’, expresses this thought at the end of every verse with the statement, ‘then Lord shall I fully know, not till then how much I owe.’
In Deuteronomy 9:14, the threat to ‘blot out [the name of Israel] from under heaven’ did not mean that they would disappear without historical trace, for future generations would surely read of them in Scripture. The very formation of a new nation from Moses would require the reason for it to be written down. ‘Blot out’ in this case just means that they would have no descendants and cease to exist as a nation. Similarly in the case of the Amalekites, total destruction did not mean annihilation without trace. For although Deuteronomy 25:19 says to Israel: ‘you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven’, they were not eliminated without trace. Otherwise their memory ought not to have been preserved in Scripture. As noted earlier in the discussion of shachath and apollumi, eternal destruction is not annihilation, therefore, the threat of Deuteronomy 29:20 to ‘blot out’ a man’s name ‘from under heaven’ does not mean that God will destroy him without trace.
One use of machah which clearly cannot mean ‘eliminate without trace’ occurs in Num. 5:23 which sets out the procedure for trying a woman suspected of infidelity. She has to drink of bitter water, which has previously been used to ‘blot out’ the curses the priest has written in a book. The curses, written in ink on a parchment scroll, were washed off (NIV; KJV blotted out) into a receptacle containing ‘bitter water’. The curse was removed from the scroll, but not ‘without trace’, since it was an essential part of the ritual that the ink should continue to exist in solution. The blotted out curses thus certainly left traces.
Another most instructive use of the word machah is in Prov. 31:3b: ‘Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that whichdestroys kings.’ This very aptly shows what the word means. The man who lusts after women will find he is destroyed spiritually—as many kings and presidents have been. There is no implication of annihilation or wiping out.
We see therefore that the word machah does not mean ‘eliminate without trace’. To say it does is to argue from a shaky linguistic foundation. There is no scriptural proof for this position. These points are developed further in the excellent article by Fouts and Wise24 which studies the meaning of the words used in the Flood account in Genesis. They agree there is no clear evidence exegetically that the word machah is linked with complete removal without trace. Certainly Robinson’s thesis, presented at the same conference, that the Flood destroyed the earth’s crust in its entirety, is very conjectural.25
Robinson26 argues that graveyards of mammoth, dinosaur and all other land air-breathing creatures are all post-Flood. For thousands of mammoths to be buried across America and Asia after the Flood they would have all had to be descended from the original pair from the Ark and spread across the continents. Though we recognise the possibility that frozen mammoths in the Arctic are examples of post-Flood fossilisation27 (as these seem to be localised burials near the surface), the burial under great sediments of reptiles, dinosaurs, mammals (including other mammoths) is worldwide. Such fossilisation with water borne sediment would require enormous upheaval, such that one requires events on the scale of the Flood itself which God said would never be repeated (Gen. 8:21, 9:11, 15).28 The burial of dinosaurs ten metres tall, by their thousands in Alberta and Montana6 and vast tracts of territory from South Dakota, Kansas and Colorado29 would require vast continental instability just before Abraham’s time, 350 years after the Flood.6 (The 350 years is required by Robinson, Garton4 and others to allow dinosaurs and other creatures to multiply and spread out over the globe.) But such vast continental sedimentation (in some places thousands of feet thick) would not be possible without causing gigantic upheaval in other parts of the earth—in particular in the Middle East where the descendants of Noah were repopulating the earth.
Although one does accept the possibility of some post-Flood disasters as the earth settled to a new environment, the extent of burial in such events must be considered local. Burial on such a vast scale of land air-breathing creatures is surely beginning to break the principle that the Flood was the major event in earth’s history. Those who consider most of the fossils to be post-Flood must face the important question, ‘How is it that God has destroyed vast numbers of post-Flood creatures, when He clearly said He would not destroy all flesh again?’ (Gen. 8:21–22). And the problem is not removed by saying that these catastrophes only happened for a few years after the Flood as the earth was settling down. Even if we allow that the population of creatures had vastly increased, is it consistent with the Lord’s mercy in the rainbow covenant to instigate such immense destruction? And this so soon after executing a similar judgment (flooding) on a comparable continental scale? This is a very real difficulty rarely addressed by those who advocate post-Flood catastrophes as being the main origin of all the fossils.
A significant feature of Genesis 8:21–9:17 is the expression ‘never again’ (NIV):
‘Never again will I curse the ground’ (8:21), ‘And never again will I destroy all living creatures’ (8:21), ‘Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood’ (9:11) and ‘Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life’ (9:15).
The formation of the sedimentary rocks and the fossilisation of animals on the vast scale said to have occurred would have required a second cataclysm. This would conflict with the promises made after the Deluge.
The one verse which Robinson, Garton, Garner and others propose for justifying a major post-Flood disaster is Gen. 10:25. The division of the earth referred to in this verse is a mystery. In the present state of knowledge, dogmatism is out of the question.30 Wiseman notes that ‘Peleg’ itself means ‘water course, division’ (watercourse = canal?) and suggests ‘the development … of cultivation, using artificial irrigation canals (Assyr:plagu).’ 31 Kidner simply remarks that it is a ‘matter of conjecture’.32 If the division were the physical splitting of the continents, then the ensuing catastrophe would have been worldwide. It seems unlikely that Genesis 10–11 could proceed serenely along without more reference to these events than 10:25! Moreover, how could the promises to Noah have been kept, since such upheavals would have had immediate global impact? Kevan thinks it was probably the division of mankind after Babel.33 Indeed, many commentators, writing well before plate tectonics was in vogue, believed that the division of Peleg referred to the linguistic/territorial division resulting from Babel.34
In Genesis 9:13–15, God formed a rainbow to indicate there would be no repeat of ‘a Flood to destroy all flesh.’ Holt rightly asserts that to invoke large post-Flood disasters of continental proportions would imply tsunamis encircling the globe.12 There is a limit to localised activity involving further large sedimentation because it is extremely difficult to avoid immediate effects elsewhere on the globe. The comparatively small eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980 showed this with subsequent atmospheric disturbances, and the eruption of Mt. Krakatoa last century in the Far East caused 30-metre tidal waves. Such large quantities of ash were ejected into the atmosphere that Tennyson referred to striking sunsets in England, thousands of miles distant.35 These disasters did not have continental implications. Thus to suggest thatGenesis 10:25—the division of the earth in Peleg’s day—was a possible post-Flood disaster involving the physical splitting of continents (and thus providing a mechanism for catastrophic burial of the fossils) would necessitate gigantic tidal waves across the continents, thus negating the rainbow promise. One must always give biblical priority to the Flood as the major disaster affecting the earth, never to be repeated.
We agree with Snelling’s introduction to the discussion papers on this subject, that there is room for some post-Flood activity. But we consider that there is the need to ‘research strategically, thinking laterally or in novel ways if we have to, in order to find explanations for baffling puzzles.’ 36
We agree with Whitcomb and Morris that the best fit with the biblical text has most of the fossils produced by the Flood.11 However the Whitcomb and Morris mechanism (rising flood water) may not necessarily be the correct model. Morris37 has reiterated this view of the Flood and though some may disagree with the mechanism, it is hard to escape the important hydrological issues which he and others rightly say must be properly addressed. The hydroplate model advocated by Brown38,39 suggests a much more violent alternative. Although we do not say necessarily that this is the only way to postulate the violence of the first 40 days of the Flood year, it nevertheless offers a plausible explanation for the origin of, and evident force for, the underground waters and the waters from above. The hydroplate theory (different in mechanism from that proposed by Morris), still leads to the same conclusion—that the vast majority of fossils were laid down during the Flood. And in the hydroplate model, a good number would be laid down in the first 40 days.
Another theory advocated by Baumgardner et al.40,41 proposes catastrophic tectonic plate activity. In this model, part of the earth’s crust is subducted with the initiating of a global-scale flow of the mantle beneath the earth’s crust and vast volcanic activity. All these studies warrant further careful research which should not necessarily regard the geological column as sacrosanct (these alternatives are considered in a companion article15). The events of those first 40 days and right through the Flood year may well have laid and possibly relaid sediments on a continental scale. In the light of this, it is not wise for some to suggest that the thesis of Whitcomb and Morris is ‘fundamentally flawed’. It is premature to draw any such conclusions on the Flood/post-Flood boundary while much research continues—particularly in the area of hydrological sedimentation. We believe there is room for some post-Flood fossilisation (which Whitcomb and Morris11 did not address), but the biblical text strongly implies that the evidence of catastrophic water-borne sediments burying vast numbers of land (and sea) creatures is due primarily to the Flood.
We recognise that there is a clear need to be open-minded concerning some post-Flood catastrophism as the earth settled to a new equilibrium after the gigantic disturbances of the Flood year. However it is not exegetically correct to suggest all air-breathing land creatures were annihilated without trace by some unknown force. Biblically, the wordsmachah (blot out), shachath (destroy) in the Old Testament Hebrew, and apollumi (lose, destroy) in the New Testament Greek, do not justify such an interpretation. The context strongly indicates that the logical and straightforward meaning of these words is that the greater part of air-breathing land creatures were buried by water-borne sediments.
That there may have been some post-Flood disasters is not precluded by the text, since fossilisation is not referred to in the Flood account. But to regard the vast majority of fossils as being from post-Flood disasters runs the risk of (a) marginalising the Flood, (b) weakening the force of the rainbow promise (thousands of feet of sediment over continents hardly seems consistent with God’s promise not to destroy flesh [animal as well as man] by a flood) and (c) gives too much weight to our supposed knowledge of the order of deposition (i.e. the geological column).
There is a great need to gather scientists from all disciplines to consider the problems that have been rightly brought to the attention of the biblical creationist community—problems such as footprints of dinosaurs above vast stretches of sediment and dinosaur eggs at high positions in the strata. The role of sedimentology and the flow of heterogeneous mixtures requires hydraulic engineers, fluid dynamicists as well as geologists to carefully unravel these difficulties. Experience shows that major research problems require interdisciplinary teams to make progress.
The authors are grateful for the helpful exchange of ideas with a number of colleagues which includes Dr Peter Williams (who kindly checked the original manuscript and made very helpful suggestions), Dr David Tyler, Dr Michael Garton, Mr Randall Hardy, Dr Andrew Snelling, Dr Peter Senior and others. Not all will agree with our conclusions, but the spirit of open and courteous debate is to be encouraged.
- BioLogos and the age of the earth: Pushing an anti-biblical doctrine
- Excellent summary of scientific evidence for Creation and the Flood, but controversial in some areas
- Flood models
- Flood models and biblical realism
- Analysis of Walt Brown’s Flood model
- Flood geology vs secular catastrophism
- Tyler, D.J., Flood models and trends in creationist thinking, Creation Matters 2(3), May/June 1997. Return to text.
- Special Symposium, Where should we place the Flood/post-Flood boundary in the geological record? Journal of Creation 10(1):29–168, 1996. Return to text.
- Garner, P., Geology and the Flood, Genesis Agendum Occasional Paper, 1997. Return to text.
- Garton, M., The pattern of fossil tracks in the geological record, Journal of Creation 10(1):82–100, 1996. Return to text.
- Garton, M., A Spanish weekend, Origins (BCS) 22:11–26, 1997. Return to text.
- Garner, P., Where is the Flood/post-Flood Boundary? Implications of dinosaur nests in the Mesozoic, Journal of Creation 10(1):101–106, 1996. Return to text.
- Garner, P., Continental flood basalts indicate a pre-Mesozoic Flood/post-Flood boundary, Journal of Creation 10(1):114–127, 1996. Return to text.
- Johns, W.H., Did dinosaurs lay eggs and hatch young during the Flood? Journal of Creation 11(3):318–323, 1998. Return to text.
- Robinson, S.J., Can Flood geology explain the fossil record? Journal of Creation 10(1):32–69, 1996. Return to text.
- Robinson, S.J., Dinosaurs in the Oardic Flood, Journal of Creation 12(1):55–86, 1998. Return to text.
- Whitcomb, J.C. and Morris, H., The Genesis Flood, Evangelical Press, 1969. Return to text.
- Holt, R.D., Evidence for a late Cainozoic Flood/post-Flood boundary, Journal of Creation 10(1):128–167, 1996. Return to text.
- Oard, M.J., The extinction of the dinosaurs, Journal of Creation 11(2):137–154, 1997. Return to text.
- Oard, M.J., Dinosaurs in the Flood: A response, Journal of Creation 12(1):69–86, 1998. Return to text.
- McIntosh, A.C., Edmondson, T. and Taylor, S., Flood models—the need for an integrated approach, Journal of Creation 14(1):52–59, 2000. Return to text.
- Brown, Driver and Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, Hendrickson, p. 550, 1997. Return to text.
- Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, Greek Lexicon, University of Chicago, p. 412, 1952. Return to text.
- Kline, M.G., Commentary on Genesis; in: New Bible Commentary, (3rd edition), IVP, p. 88, 1970. Return to text.
- Waltke, B.K. and O’Conner, M., An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Indiana, pp. 137–138, 1990. Return to text.
- Bauer et al., Ref. 17, p. 94. Return to text.
- Vine, W.E., Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, p. 302, 1952. Return to text.
- Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford University Press, p.76, 1929. Return to text.
- Wiseman, D.J., Tyre; in: New Bible Dictionary, IVP, p. 1303, 1962. Return to text.
- Fouts, D.M. and Wise, K.P., Blotting out and breaking up: miscellaneous Hebrew studies in geocatastrophism; in: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Creationism, Creation Sciences Fellowship Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, pp. 217–228, 1998. Return to text.
- Robinson, S.J., The Flood in Genesis: What does the text tell geologists? in: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Creationism, Creation Sciences Fellowship Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, pp. 465–474, 1998. Return to text.
- Robinson, Ref. 9, pp. 63–64. Return to text.
- The frozen mammoths of Siberia certainly are an argument for catastrophism (see Dillow, J.C., The Waters Above: Earth’s pre-flood vapour canopy, Revised edition, Moody Press, Chicago, p. 351, 1982, and the summary concerning mammoths by Whitcomb, J.C., The World that Perished, Revised edition, Baker, Grand Rapids, pp. 77–80, 1996). It might first appear that there does not seem to have been enough time between the Flood and Abraham (for instance, when most think of a relatively stable world) to have such vast numbers of mammoths around in Siberia alone. However the burial so close to the surface and in present river valleys suggests they might have been buried by flash floods from melting ice (see for example, How did millions of mammoth fossils form?Creation 21(4):56, 1999). This article argues that a population of 8 million mammoths would have been possible 550 years after the Flood—that is, up to the end of the probable Ice Age subsequent to the Flood. Some mammoths could have been buried in ice bursts similar to those observed recently in Iceland in 1996 (see Snelling, A., Iceland’s recent ‘mega-flood’, Creation 21(3):46–48, 1996). Return to text.
- Oard, M.J., Where is the Flood/post-Flood boundary in the rock record? Journal of Creation 10(2):258–278, 262, 1996. Return to text.
- Taylor, J., Fossil Facts and Fantasies, Mt Blanco Publishing Co., ch. 4, pp. 36–47, 1999. Return to text.
- For an excellent refutation of the view that Gen. 10:25 means the splitting of the continents, see Fouts, D.M., Peleg in Gen. 10:25,Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 41(March):17–21, 1998. Return to text.
- Wiseman, D.J., Peleg; in, New Bible Dictionary, IVP, p. 957, 1962. Return to text.
- Kidner, D., Genesis, Tyndale Press, p.109, 1967. Return to text.
- Kevan, E., Commentary on Genesis; in: New Bible Commentary, (1st edition), IVF, p. 86, 1953. Return to text.
- For example, Calvin, J., Genesis, 1554; Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, p. 324, 1984: ‘For after he [Moses] has mentioned Arphaxad as the third of the sons of Shem, he then names Peleg, his great grandson, in whose days the languages were divided.’ Also Keil C.F. and Delitzsch, F., Commentaries on the Old Testament, n.d., original German in the 19 th century, English translation published by Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, The Pentateuch, Vol. 1, p. 171: ‘Among the descendants of Arphaxad, Eber’s eldest son received the name of Peleg, because in his days the earth, i.e. the population of the earth, was divided, in consequence of the building of the tower of Babel.’ Again, Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 378, 1942: ‘Peleg means “division”, for he lived at the time when the earth was divided (niphlegah ) and the name given to the man is in memory of this event. The event referred to must be the one under consideration—the Confusion of Tongues.’ Return to text.
- Plage, D. and Plage, M., In the shadow of Krakatau, National Geographic 167(6):750–771, particularly pp. 754–761, 1985. Return to text.
- Snelling, A.A., Introduction to Special Symposium ‘Where should we place the Flood/post-Flood boundary in the geological record?’ Journal of Creation10(1):29–31, 1996. Return to text.
- Morris, H.M., The geologic column and the Flood of Genesis, Creation Res. Soc. Quart. 33(1):49–57, 1996. Return to text.
- Brown, W., In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for the Creation and the Flood, 6th (special) edition, Center for Scientific Creationism, Phoenix, Arizona, 1996. Return to text.
- Selbrede, M.G., Dr Walt Brown’s Hydroplate Theory, Chalcedon Report (Sept.), pp. 37–45, 1998. Return to text.
- Baumgardner, J.R., Runaway subduction as the driving mechanism for the Genesis Flood; in: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, pp. 63–76, 1994. Return to text.
- Austin, S.A., Baumgardner, J.R., Humphreys, D.R., Snelling, A.A., Vardiman, L. and Wise, K.P., Catastrophic plate tectonics: a global Flood model of earth history; in: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, pp. 609–622, 1994. Return to text.
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Timothy Joins Paul and Silas
1 He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
1. Why would Paul have Timothy circumcised?
The real difficulty of the case is made apparent by putting into juxtaposition two of Paul’s statements, and two of his deeds. He says to the Corinthians, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing;” yet to the Galatians he writes: “Behold, I, Paul, say to you, that if you are circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” When he was in Jerusalem upon the appeal of the Antioch Church, brethren urgently insisted that he should circumcise Titus, who was with him, but he sternly refused, and says, “I gave place to them by subjection, no, not for an hour.” Yet we see him in the case before us, circumcising Timothy with his own hand, and this “on account of certain Jews who were in those quarters.” In order to reconcile these apparently conflicting facts and statements, we must have all the leading facts concerning this rite before us.
Circumcision preceded the Mosaic Law much like the eating of blood prohibition. Paul had no problem with Jews continuing circumcision because it was an identification of one as a descendent of Abraham therefore a separate people. Circumcision did not bring Abraham into fellowship with God. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. Then he was circumcised as an identification, much like baptism for the Christian.
These two seeming contradictions can be cleared up when we understand that Titus was a gentile, so Paul refused to have him circumcised on that basis. Timothy, on the other hand was half Jewish. But the case is even more unique in that Timothy’s mother and grandmother were Jews who had converted to Christianity, and his father was a Greek. It was prohibited by Mosaic Law for a Jew to marry and gentile. Neh 13:26 “You will not marry off your daughters to their sons, and you will not take any of their daughters as wives for your sons or for yourselves! According to the Rabbis the mother needed permission from the father before circumcision could take place and apparently his father would not permit this when Timothy was a child. Paul obviously did not circumcise Timothy because he believed that rite was necessary for his justification or sanctification . He did so because it was necessary for effective evangelistic ministry among Jews. Unbelieving Jews would not have given Paul a hearing if he had travelled with an uncircumcised Gentile even though Timothy was half Jewish.
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law —to win those under the law. 21 To those who are without ⌊that⌋ law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. 23 Now I do all this because of the gospel, so I may become a partner in its benefits.1 Cor 9:20-23
2. Is it possible that the church continued to grow as a result of the satisfactory conclusion of the issue of how gentiles were to be treated?
This issue could have split the church and left it as a bunch of faction. One of gentile Christians, one of Jewish converts who were still observing the Mosaic Law, one of Jewish converts who rejected the Mosaic Law, and then groups who tried to mix both law and grace. Paul had to use wisdom is dealing with these touchy issues. When we do the proper thing, God grows the church.
Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
3. The Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to enter Asia?
Spirit of Jesus. As the “Holy Spirit” was used at times interchangeably with “God” (5:3–4), so here “Holy Spirit” (v. 6) is used interchangeably with “Spirit of Jesus.” not allow. We are not sure exactly how the Spirit went about “not allowing” them to go into Asia to the south.
4. Who was this man in the dream?
“Paul could have recognized the man in his dream as a Macedonian from what he said; but it has been conjectured that the man might have been Luke himself, who indicates his presence at this point by changing the narrative from ‘they’ to ‘we’ in the following verse. If this were so, it would suggest that Luke, a Macedonian or of Macedonian ancestry, had encountered Paul at Troas, perhaps as a medical attendant, and pressed him to preach the Gospel to the Macedonians. In this case, his appearance in Paul’s dream would make him seem to be a God-sent messenger, and would clinch the matter. This is, of course, no more than an attractive speculation.”It is interesting thatLuke was probably from Greek Macedonia and that he did join the group at this time.
Macedonia was a Roman province that comprised roughly the northern half of ancient andmodern Greece. Its name honored Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s father.
Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi
11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
5. Who was Lydia?
Normally Paul went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, but evidently therewas not a synagogue in Philippi. This suggests that there were probably very few Jews there since it only took 10 Jewish men to establish a synagogue. Lacking a synagogue, worshippers of Yahweh met beside the Gangites River one and one-half miles west of town to pray together and to do what the Jews did in a normal synagogue service.
Thyatira is over in Asia Minor. It is the place where one of the seven churches was located which received admonition from our Lord in the second chapter of the Book of Revelation. This woman had come from over there. She worshiped the living and true God, but she had very little knowledge.
Lydia. A businesswoman. Her name may be associated with her place of origin, the
Hellenistic district of Lydia. Thyatira. In the Roman province of Asia, 20 miles southeast of Pergamum (in the Hellenistic kingdom of Lydia. It was famous for its dyeing works, especially royal purple (crimson).worshiper of God. Lydia was a Gentile who, like Cornelius (see 10:2), believed in the true God and followed the moral teachings of Scripture. She had not, however, become a full convert to Judaism.
opened her heart. After the resurrection the minds of the disciples were opened to understand the Scriptures; similarly, Lydia’s heart was opened to respond to the gospel message of Paul. Lydia was a remarkable person. She was a dominant person and a leader. Apparently she was the leader of the prayer meeting. She will be the first convert to Christ in Europe. A seller of purple. Purple was a most valuable colour, obtained usually fromshell-fish. It was chiefly worn by princes, and by the rich; and the traffic in it might be very profitable. It’s interesting that she asks Paul if he considered her a believer in the Lord. Apparently he considered her a believer and baptized her along with her entire household.
Paul and Silas in Prison
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
6. Since she was aware that Paul and the rest were from the Most High God, was she a prophet of God?
spirit by which she predicted the future. A demonic python spirit. The python was a mythical snake worshiped at Delphi and associated with the Delphic oracle. “a python spirit.” That expression comes from Gr. mythology; Python was a snake that guarded the oracle at Delphi. Essentially, this girl was a medium in contact with demons who could supposedly predict the future. The term “python” came to be used of the persons through whom the python spirit supposedly spoke. Since such persons spoke involuntarily, the term “ventriloquist” was used to describe them. To what extent she actually predicted the future is not known
But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, 7 And criedwith a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. 8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. 9 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. Mark 5:6-9 (KJV)
Satan and his demons know who God and his workers are.
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. James 2:19 (NLT)
19 When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
7. Why were Paul and Silas arrested?
Paul and Silas were seized not because they were preaching the Gospel but because they had disrupted a profitable business. Luke and Timothy for the time drop out of sight. Luke was concerned to trace the relations of Roman officials with the emissaries of the Gospel and to show that hostility came from other than official sources. 20. The government of a Roman colony was vested in two magistrates, sometimes called “praetors.” The Greek word translated “magistrate” is the equivalent of the Latin praetor.
21. Roman law permitted Jews to practice their own religion, but it forbade the propagating of foreign religions among Roman citizens. Paul and Silas were not recognized as Christians but as Jews who transgressed the prerogatives that Roman law allowed them.
The judicial system at Philippi was much like here in our country. You can murder you next door neighbor and get out of prison in 7 years, but if you embezzle money from your employer, you get a 150 years sentence. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.
8. Why kill himself over a few escaped prisoners?
If a prisoner escaped, the life of the guard was demanded in his place. To take his own life would shorten the shame and distress. It should be added, that it was common, and approved among the Greeks and Romans, for a man to commit suicide when he was encompassed with dangers from which he could not escape. Thus Cato was guilty of self-murder in Utica; and thus, at this very place at Philippi-Brutus and Cassius, and many of their friends, fell on their own swords, and ended their lives by suicide. The custom was thus sanctioned by the authority and example of the great; and we are not to wonder that the jailer, in a moment of alarm, should also attempt to destroy his own life. It is not one of the least benefits of Christianity, that it has proclaimed the evil of self-murder, and that it has done so much to drive it from the world.
28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.
9. Does this mean that if I accept Jesus as my savior and am born again my whole family is automatically saved also?
How can a man be saved? By believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Could he believe for someone else? No. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and if thy household believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, they shall be saved also. That is the meaning here. All of his family, servants, and guests who could comprehend the gospel and believe heard the gospel and believed. This does not include infants.
34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God–he and his whole family. 35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No!Let them come themselves and escort us out.” 38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed.39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.
10. What was the issue about Roman citizens?
Public beating of a Roman citizen (see v. 38) was illegal, let alone a beating without a trial. Let them come themselves. Paul and Silas were not asking for an escort to salve their injured pride as much as they were establishing their innocence for the sake of the church in Philippi and its future. This was quite an embarrassment for the Roman government and could have turned into a big scandal so they wanted to hush things up, but Paul wanted a public display of his release and declaration of his innocence.
Acts of the Apostles, by J. W. McGarvey 1872
ESV Study Bible Notes.
John MacArthur NASB Study Notes
NIV Study Bible Notes.
J Vernon McGee, Through the Bible Commentary
Adam Clarke’s Commentary
Barnes Notes on the New Testament
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
January 7, 2010
Being a teenager is tough. We all remember those days. Times certainly have changed, but sometimes there’s a basic message that every teenager should hear from the Baby Boomer to the Y Generation and everyone in between.
We recently came across this message that appeared on page two of Pierce County Tribune’s Dec. 17, 1959 issue. It was quietly nestled between the area news and local happenings. No reason was given. I suspect the editor just thought it was a good message. Sometimes we come across these items while reading our archives and find them interesting enough to share with the modern-day reader.
The piece was written by Judge Philip B. Gilliam of Denver, Co. A little research on Judge Gilliam found him to be a highly respected judge in the Denver Juvenile Court and Juvenile Hall from 1940 until his death in 1975. During his time on the bench, he spent his time protecting children and ensuring their proper treatment in the court system.
His message may sound harsh at first, but when you stop and think about it it comes from a guy who had probably seen it all. Being a judge in juvenile court in Denver would have been one tough job. Maybe if more teenagers heeded his advice they would avoid ending up on the wrong side of a courtroom someday.
Judge Gilliam’s letter appeared as follows.
Open letter to Teen-ager
Always we hear the plaintive cry of the teen-ager. What can we do?…Were can we go?
The answer is GO HOME!
Hang the storm windows, paint the woodwork. Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, shovel the walk. Wash the car, learn to cook, scrub some floors. Repair the sink, build a boat, get a job.
Help the minister, priest, or rabbi, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army. Visit the sick, assist the poor, study your lessons. And then when you are through – and not too tired – read a book.
Your parents do not owe you entertainment. Your city or village does not owe you recreational facilities.
The world does not owe you a living…You owe the world something.
You owe it your time and your energy and your talents so that no one will be at war or in poverty or sick or lonely again.
Grow up; quit being a crybaby. Get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone, and start acting like a man or a lady.
You’re supposed to be mature enough to accept some of the responsibility your parents have carried for years.
They have nursed, protected, helped, appealed, begged, excused, tolerated and denied themselves needed comforts so that you could have every benefit. This they have done gladly, for you are their dearest treasure.
But now, you have no right to expect them to bow to every whim and fancy just because selfish ego instead of common sense dominates your personality, thinking and request.
In Heaven’s name, grow up and go home!
- South Bend Tribune, Sunday, Dec. 6, 1959.
It’s interesting that this message was addressed to teenagers. The fact is that many adults these days could stand to be reminded of many of his suggestions.
Judge Gilliam’s message “tells it like it is” and doesn’t hold back. He clearly wasn’t afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings or concerned about sugar-coating his message. You have to respect that.
Many times these days we are so conscious about being politically correct. We can’t offend anyone’s personal rights. Well, sometimes we have to go back in time a little and hear things the way they were meant to be said – straightforward and to the point. Kind of refreshing isn’t it?
Mullally is a Tribune writer.
Numerous groups have reported being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) within the past week, not all of them Tea Party groups. The IRS reportedly also targeted pro-life groups. The Internet has been buzzing since Friday, when the Congressional hearings revealed that a pro-life group was asked by the IRS to disclose “the content of their prayers”.
Life News reported that the IRS subjected one pro-life organization to “repeated and lengthy unconstitutional requests for information about the viewpoint and content of its educational communications, volunteer prayer vigils, and other protected activities”. The acting commissioner of the IRS, Steven Miller, expressed surprise (shocked, my comment)when he was asked Friday whether a pro-life group was asked to disclosed the content of their prayers. He also stated he didn’t know whether the IRS asking the content of one’s prayers is appropriate or not. Miller stated he would need the “context” of the question.
Many have expressed disbelief after Miller’s statements, (shocked, my comment) not only regarding the fact that Miller claimed he didn’t know whether the IRS should be asking about prayers. The fact that the IRS believed it could ask the content of the conversation people have with their God, many believe, shows a level of arrogance surprising even for the IRS. It was also revealed on Friday that the IRSdemanded back-end access to the websites of many Tea Party groups.
I’m glad they didn’t ask what my prayer about the IRS was. After being audited several times, and being told that they could ruin me I they want to, I don’ t think they would be real happy with my prayer request. (my comment).
How long before believers will be hauled off to the gulags for prayer reeducation?
By Ben Stein on 5.21.13 @ 6:45AM
When does it ever stop?
Now, let’s see what we are supposed to believe today from the Obama Ministry of Truth….
First, that Hillary Rodham Clinton could possibly be taken seriously as a Presidential contender or a President. This is the woman who traveled one million miles with no positive accomplishments as Secretary of State. This is the woman who masterminded one of the great foreign policy catastrophes of all time… aiding the “Arab Spring” in which governments friendly to the west in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia were replaced with Islamists bent on destroying all human rights and the main repository of human rights on earth, The United States of America………………
Some historians whisper that we are more divided now than we were on the eve of the Civil War, while certain high officers in the executive branch of the federal government are engaged in unabashed assault on our Constitution.
Feeling outnumbered? You’re in good company. The Founders felt the same way. Take heart, friends. Our Constitution was written precisely to protect the rights of a minority from the tyranny of the majority. They knew the chaos and failures of Greek models; they wisely selected their best features to form an imperfect (but exemplary) government.
That’s why our Founding Fathers constructed not a true democracy, but rather a constitutional republic. Our Constitution’s framers were very wise. They recognized that any person seeking to enslave the free citizens of the new republic must first disarm them of effective weaponry. After all, the first skirmish of the Revolution was fought because the British were coming to confiscate weapons and powder in the Lexington magazine………………………
Great letter. The Declaration of Independence established the reason that a free people must revolt and no longer allow foreign tyranny to reign. The Constitution is the mechanism by which a free people can restrict the evil that men do with regard to governance. We are the recipients of the inalienable rights given to us from God, not the present administration. This foundational document is the restraint we must demand to be put upon government’s insatiable quest for power and control. We must draw a line in the sand and and state very clearly, Don’t tread on me!
Ideas have consequences. We are seeing the result of years of “conditioning” by liberal professors. Moral relativism and the lack of any absolute truth has infected our culture like a cancer. All sense of right and wrong is now governed by how we feel. There is no longer any evil, only a new disease to blame our dysfunction upon. The rule of law is now “organic” and will only be enforced if the “polls’ require it. Occupy movements now take property belonging to others. Sanctuary cities protect criminals. Border enforcement is now national joke. The present administration is only concerned with maintaining power. All socialist anti individual rights regimes can only survive by taking freedom from the people. Once the “we are the world” fairy tale storybook utopian dream begins to unravel, the next step is forced enforcement of administration philosophy. There can be no descent and all voices of absolutism must be classified as bigot and haters.
1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.
1. What is circumcision all about?
Thus identifying the circumcised as belonging to the physical and ethnical lineage of Abraham. But the symbolism had to do with the need to cut away sin and be cleansed. It was the male organ which most clearly demonstrated the depth of depravity because it carried the seed that produced depraved sinners. Thus, circumcision symbolized the need for a profoundly deep cleansing to reverse the effects of depravity. The crux of the issue is not simply a question of whether one should be circumcised or not. The question is: Must one do any of these things in order to be saved? The persons who taught this doctrine appear to have been converts to Christianity; but, supposing that the Christian religion was intended to perfect the Mosaic, and not to supersede it, they insisted on the necessity of circumcision, because, by that, a man was made debtor to the whole law, to observe all its rites and ceremonies. Thism question produced great disturbance in the apostolic Church.
In the first century the Judaizers did not deny the facts of the gospel — there simply were too many witnesses. Paul says that over five hundred people saw the risen Christ at one time. My friend, if you get five hundred witnesses into any law court, you will win your case! Also the apostles were witnesses to the risen Christ. They were there to testify to it. The facts of the gospel were not under question by the Judaizers.
The contention arose over the interpretation of those facts. What did Christ do for you on the Cross? Is the work of Christ adequate to save you? Do you need to go through some ritual or something else in order to be saved? Must you go through the Law? These are the questions they were asking.
2. Why go to Jerusalem?
To some, grateful Gentile converts submitting to circumcision and to law keeping might not appear to be such a huge concession. But they did not understand the implications of circumcision. Paul did, and he, along with Barnabas, strongly opposed the teaching of these Judaizers – those who believed that Gentiles must enter into the faith byconverting to Judaism.
Paul was quite willing for Jews as Jews to practice the Law of Moses. But he insisted that when Jewish Christians came into a Gentile church, they must lay aside their Jewish scruples and enter into free fellowship with Gentiles. A divided church was unthinkable, and for Gentiles to accept the Law meant the end of salvation by grace. Paul’s viewpoint apparently prevailed, but those of the Jewish party in Jerusalem were not satisfied. They
came to Antioch again and insisted that Gentiles be circumcised to become Christians.
This caused such dissension that the church at Antioch found it necessary to have the issue decided in Jerusalem. Therefore a delegation was appointed to go to the apostles and elders and achieve a settlement of the question.
3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported
everything God had done through them. 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question.
3. Believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees?
We know that some of the Sanhedrin as well as some priests became Christians. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and apparently there were others. As mentioned earlier the facts of the risen Christ could not be denied, so it was really just a question as to what this meant to the Jews.
These were Jewish believers (those of the Pharisee party) who were targeting newly saved Gentiles. It is interesting how some are more than willing to let others do the evangelizing, only to prey upon these new converts with their distorted doctrines
4. Circumcision and the Law of Moses? What was the real issue?
As a gentile must I do to be saved? As a Jew, do I have to continue to obey the Mosaic Law? This is the classic works vs grace argument that still continues today.
7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?
5. A yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?
A yoke. A description of the law and the legalism of the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:4; cf. Lk 11:46).
Matthew 23:2-5 (NIV) 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach 4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; Luke 11:46 (NIV)
46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
The legalists expected the Gentiles to carry a load they themselves were unwilling to bear. Here Peter asserts that Jewish legalism was an obligation and a burden that the Jews were unable to bear. In contrast to the burdensomeness of the Law, salvation is through grace both for Gentiles and for Jews. When Jews keep the Law, it is not as a means of salvation.
11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” 12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written 16 ”‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ 18 that have been known for ages.
6. How does this verse from the Old Testament apply to this situation?
In verses 13-21, James steps forward. One does not get the impression that Peter is the dominant leader here; instead, James seems to play that role. James does something that the three before him have not done – he cites Scripture. Thus, the decision that is reached is based both upon Scripture and on experience. James follows up on what Peter has said. God has revealed His purpose to save Gentiles as well as Jews. This is the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets had foretold. James turns to the words of Amos 9:11-12 to establish his point:
James is saying that the salvation of many Gentiles should come as no surprise to his Jewish brethren. This is what God long ago promised to do. This is what God has done, as evidenced by the salvation of Cornelius and his household, and now many more Gentiles in the first missionary journey. The question is no longer, “Has God chosen to save many Gentiles?”, the question is, “How should the Jewish saints deal with these
newly-saved Gentile saints?”
19 ”It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to
them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.
21 For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
7. Idols, blood, strangled animals, sex, what does this have to do with Christianity?
1) The prohibition against eating blood is NOT from the Mosaic law. It is from Genesis
9:2-4 Every living creature of the earth and every bird of the sky will be terrified of you. Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea are under your authority. 3 You may eat any moving thing that lives. As I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. 4 But you must not eat meat with its life (that is, its blood) in it
which obviously predates Mosaic Law. This is a universal prohibition for the entire human race and for all time. (If you try to argue that it is not, you must also argue that the prohibition against murder is not.)
(2) According to Genesis 9:3-4, blood is not food. It does not say that bloodis a forbidden food; it says that blood is not food (for, just as God defined food in Genesis 1:29 as plant matter, here He defines food as plant matter and animal flesh, excluding blood).
(3) Whenever one bleeds an animal killed for meat, he has fulfilled the command of Genesis 9 not to eat meat with the blood. (By the way, eating a rare steak is not sin, as long as the meat was properly bled when it was slaughtered. A small amount of blood always remains in meat even after bleeding. Further, cooking meat so that it no longer appears red does not remove the tiny bit of blood that remains – it simply changes its color.) To put it more precisely, in Genesis 9 God forbids the INTENTIONAL eating of blood – either by extracting blood and drinking it, or by intentionally leaving it in meat slaughtered for consumption. This is because “the life is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11) for the life of every living thing is in the blood. So I myself have assigned it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life.
There is something fundamentally wrong with eating what still has the life in it. This is related to the whole concept of sacrifice that is so central to Christ’s redeeming work, for in the spilling of blood there is the taking of life. It is also one of the reasons why many pagan religions advocate the eating of blood. (In fact, there is a whole pagan theology of eating one’s enemies in order to absorb their life-force, but that is a matter for anothertime. . . .)
(4) Fornication is also something that God universally prohibits, though it is more difficult to find this in Scripture by chapter and verse. I believe that Genesis 2:24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family, essentially establishes the only context in which sexual relations are approved by God: marriage. This is not a merely Mosaic regulation; it is universally binding on all of mankind. It is clear that God forbids fornication (i.e. sexual immorality – any kind of sex outside of marriage) even among pagans. Again, the prohibition against fornication is not a Mosaic prohibition, but a universal one.
(5) Idolatry is obviously also something that God universally forbids. This hardly needs to be supported (see Romans 1:22-25 for just one example).
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen
(6) The conclusion is clear. The four things prohibited in the Acts 15 letter are all NON-MOSAIC, universal regulations. They are, and always have been, universally binding on all humans. They are, however, also strongly emphasized in Mosaic Law. Pagan society in the first century was woefully unaware of these universal regulations – except through the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures (hence James’ comment in Acts 15:21).
8. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” What is James saying here?
When the Jerusalem church agreed that Mosaic regulations should not be imposed on the Gentile believers, they recognized that with the rejection of Mosaic regulations as binding on Gentile Christians, it might be understood that the prohibitions against idolatry, eating blood, eating strangled meat, and fornication should also be thrown out, as they were only generally known through Mosaic law. The church was careful to restate these regulations not because they wanted to avoid scandalizing Jewish believers, but because they were and are and always will be universally binding on all mankind. They did not want to appear to be condoning what God had universally condemned
22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. 23 With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul– 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. 30 The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the brothers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. 34 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.
9. So at that point the Judaizers decided to leave the gentiles alone?
Not hardly. For Paul this became a life long struggle. He writes the Book of Galatians in response to this cancer of Jewish legalism trying to infect the church. From this point on the church had to contend with one heresy after another and one form of legalism after another. The Roman Catholic Church has replaced the Judaizers ,and are now the center of the attack on salvation by grace through faith.
36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
10. How did the situation with John Mark eventually resolve itself?
Barnabas and Mark do not appear again in Acts. However, in 1Co 9:6 Paul names Barnabas as setting a noble example in working to support himself. Also in Gal 2:11–13 another scene is described in Antioch that includes Barnabas. Mark evidently returned from his work with Barnabas and became associated with Peter (see 1Pe 5:13 and note). During Paul’s first imprisonment, Mark was included in Paul’s group (see Col 4:10; Phm 24). By the end of Paul’s life he came to admire Mark so much that he requested him to come to be with him during his final days. Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, or he is useful to me for service. 2 Tim 4:11
The Great Debates: (Acts 15:1-41) Study By: Bob
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
J.Vernon McGee Through the Bible
MacArthur Study Bible NASB
NIV Study Bible Notes 2008
James Tonkowich, ReligionToday.com Columnist
As the Gosnell trial was going on, former employees of a Texas clinic came forward with stories even more gruesome than the testimony given in the Gosnell trial.
One of the former employees alleges that Dr. Douglas Karpen, when performing late-term abortions, “would sometimes deliver the babies feet first with the toes wiggling until he stabbed them with a surgical implement. At the moment the toes would suddenly splay out before going limp. Sometimes he would kill the babies by ‘twisting the head off the neck…’”