Augustine1 Conservative Christian Worldview Blog

August 22, 2014

Soren Kierkegaard and the Supremacy of Faith

Filed under: Bible,Church History,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 3:48 pm

Written by Tim Garrett

Kierkegaard—The Radical Reformer

One of the most difficult barriers to evangelism today is the difficulty in defining what it is to be a Christian. Some consider attendance in a Christian church to be sorensufficient, while a vast number of people simply associate “Christian” with being a good, moral person. And in a country such as the U.S., there are even those who assume American citizenship is an adequate basis for being a Christian. This is what happens when people reject the Bible for its understanding of divine truth.

 However, this predicament is not unique to the 21st century. In the mid-nineteenth century, one of the great defenders of Christianity confronted this very problem in his native Denmark. Disturbed by the culture’s definition of Christianity, Sören Kierkegaard dedicated his life to a defense of Christianity that was truly a way of life rather than simply the acceptance of a church creed. Kierkegaard was especially disturbed that the Danish church had accepted its definition of Christianity from the famous German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel. For Hegel, rationality was the supreme virtue, and Christianity was the ultimate religion because the doctrine of the Trinity was in accordance with his own understanding of logic: God the Father and Jesus Christ are identical since each is God, and yet they are different from one another since they are distinct individuals. This apparent “difference” is then reconciled by the fact that God has made Himself known through the Holy Spirit’s birthing of the church. Hegel found this definition of the Trinity to be the mirror image of his own understanding of logic, in which opposites are to be synthesized in order to come to a fuller understanding of reality.

hegel Hegel’s reference to Christianity as the ultimate religion led many to assume that he was a strong advocate of Christianity. However, for Hegel, “reality” was only what could be experienced in the here and now. He rejected any suggestion that there was an afterlife or otherworldly existence. And while he referred to Christianity as the ultimate religion, he also declared that religion was subordinate to his own philosophy. Because Christianity is based on faith, Hegel taught that to be rational we must go beyond religion and turn to Hegel’s own philosophy if we are to understand ultimate reality.

 It was Kierkegaard’s self-appointed task to confront Hegel’s thinking and to present the supremacy of the Christian faith to the Danish people. His brilliant apologetic effort was so ridiculed, however, that for years after his death Danish parents admonished their children “don’t be a Sören” in order to warn them about foolish behavior. In order to understand why, it will be necessary first to examine Kierkegaard’s life and strategy, after which we will discuss his well-known works.

Kierkegaard and His Pseudonyms

Few people today know the story of Morris Childs. Childs, who as a young man was a high ranking official in the American communist party, became an informantportfolio-childs-morris002 (1) for the FBI against communism in the early fifties. Because of his background, Childs moved easily among communist leaders, both in the United States and abroad, for nearly thirty years. And yet, due to the highly secretive nature of his mission, very few of his fellow American citizens realized that Morris Childs was a true patriot. Instead, he was considered by many to be a communist, a traitor. Far from being a traitor, Childs had risked his life in order to pass on highly sensitive information to his American spy-masters.

 Like Childs in the political realm, Sören Kierkegaard has been misunderstood by many of his fellow Christians. Partly due to the influence of Francis Schaeffer, who blamed Kierkegaard for the modern trend toward irrationalism, there are those who assume that Kierkegaard was a secularist. However, part of the genius of Kierkegaard was his desire to present the truth of Christianity from the perspective of a non-Christian. Consequently, many of his books were written under various pseudonyms.

 When reading Kierkegaard under one of these pseudonyms, you can never assume that everything Kierkegaard is writing is his own belief. Instead, he typically introduces himself to the reader as a non-believer who, for whatever reason, is interested in religious questions. It was Kierkegaard’s belief that the most important religious and ethical questions could not be communicated directly. He therefore developed a method famously known as “indirect communication” in which he hoped to establish common ground with the non-believer. By not introducing himself as a Christian, he sought an audience for the gospel that he would not have gained otherwise.

 Another aspect of Kierkegaard’s life that must be taken into account is his tragic relationship with a young woman named Regina Olsen. regina-olsenKierkegaard deeply loved Regina, and for a short period of time they were engaged to be married. But Kierkegaard forced himself to break off the engagement. And the fact that they never married was, for Kierkegaard, the true proof of his love for her. Much of his motivation for the break-up was based on the melancholy nature he had received from his father. Kierkegaard’s father, Michael, had cursed God as a young boy due to his miserable working conditions and was haunted all his life by the suspicion that he had committed the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost. Not only did Kierkegaard hope to spare Regina from his own depression, he also attempted to demonstrate in his writings that his rejection of Regina was motivated by love, just as God’s love for us was revealed through His rejection of His own beloved Son.

Kierkegaard on the Incarnation

The Weigh-Down Workshop, a weight loss program developed by Gwen Shamblin, is based on the admirable thesis that those who would like to lose weight should replace their excessive hunger for food with hunger for God. But recently it became evident that Shamblin’s Christian beliefs are unorthodox. According to Shamblin, the doctrine of the Trinity is a “man-made” formula that arose in a polytheistic society in order to “make sure no one mistakenly believed that Christians worshipped several gods.” Shamblin is under the mistaken belief that trinitarian teaching suggests that Jesus and God are the same person, when in fact the biblical teaching is that Jesus (the Son) and God (the Father) are distinctive persons, identical in their divine essence.

 In one of Kierkegaard’s more famous works, The Philosophical Fragments, it is suggested that the doctrine of the Incarnation is indeed the ultimate paradox: How can it make sense that God became man? But Kierkegaard wrote this work under the pseudonym of Johannes Climacus. Johannes Climacus does not claim to be a Christian, but he is at odds with the philosophy of Hegel, who sees faith as a stepping-stone to the ultimacy of reason. Climacus is intent on demonstrating that, if Hegel is right, then Christianity is completely wrong. But, if Hegel is wrong, then it is possible to understand that doctrines such as the Incarnation reveal the logical superiority of Christian faith.

 Climacus begins by asking if the truth can be learned. He therefore questions what kind of teacher would be capable of bringing the truth to human beings who do not know the truth. Since all people are created by God, it must have been God who made it possible for human beings to know the truth. But since people don’t know the truth, then only a divine being could teach human beings the truth. And what is it that prevents people from knowing the truth? It is sin. And since the teacher must bring people out of this sinful condition in order for them to understand truth, this teacher should also be seen as a savior, a deliverer. But, to be a savior for humans, this divine being must also become human as well, which is illogical to those who have not received the truth. All this is to suggest, however, that the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation is perfectly consistent for the person of faith.

 Yet, since Climacus is writing in response to the philosophy of Hegel, he points out that God becoming a man is absurd, a paradox beyond human comprehension. For this reason many readers assume that Kierkegaard himself thought that the Incarnation was absurd, when in fact he was emphasizing that mere human reason was insufficient to be a Christian. For Kierkegaard, biblical faith takes us beyond what human reason can possibly conceive.

Kierkegaard on Abraham

Mohammed Ali was one of the greatest fighters of all time. After he began calling himself “The Greatest,” that title quickly became associated with Ali. We often debate about the greatness of athletes and politicians, but rarely in our pluralistic society do we present our position on the greatness of religious figures. And yet that is exactly what Kierkegaard did in his work, Fear and Trembling, written under the pseudonym of Johannes de Silentio. Johannes is fascinated by Abraham and desires to understand how anyone could be as great as Abraham.

abraham-and-isaac-on-mt-moriahJohannes is intrigued by a seeming paradox: How is it that Abraham is routinely recognized to be one of the greatest figures in all of Scripture, the father of faith, and yet at the same time we must admit that he was a split-second away from murdering his own son? If anyone were to emulate Abraham in modern times, we would do our best to prevent such a heinous act. Yet, at the same time preachers routinely preach on the greatness of Abraham. Johannes concludes that what made Abraham so amazing was his belief that he would receive Isaac back in this life, rather than just in the life everlasting. Still, this leads to the conclusion that Abraham was willing to kill Isaac. How, then, can we exalt Abraham as a great man?

 Johannes proceeds to examine the purpose behind Abraham’s action. This is where, once again, Kierkegaard is intent on skewering the philosophy of Hegel. According to Hegel, the individual was to subordinate his own desires for the broader good of the institutions of family, civil society, and the state. Consequently, it would have been Hegel’s position that Abraham’s actions were both ludicrous and evil since they did not conform with the ethical standards of a civilized people. As a result, Johannes forces us to ask whether the philosophy of Hegel or the teaching of Scripture is to take priority.

 Johannes’ own unique answer is that, in order to understand Abraham’s relationship to God, there must be what he calls the “teleological suspension of the ethical.” Teleology is the idea that everything has a purpose. For Hegel, the ultimate purpose of ethics was for the members of a state to share the same moral virtue, under which circumstances a nation can be joined together with a common bond. But for Johannes, the individual takes priority over the state. Abraham’s actions were guided by a higher purpose than simply conforming to the ethical norms of society. His faith enabled him to obey God to the point of becoming a murderer, while believing that God would raise his beloved son from the dead. Who then is greater? Hegel, or Abraham? Human reason gives one answer, but Christian faith another.

Kierkegaard and Truth

“What is truth?” The famous question of Pilate to Jesus has become even more pertinent today, as truth has become more a matter of pragmatic concerns rather than having any correlation with reality. Biblical Christianity is grounded on the truths of God’s Word, and the loss of truth in a postmodern society has had a devastating effect on the influence of the gospel. Thus, on first glance it can be disturbing that Kierkegaard claimed that all truth is subjectivity. To conclude this article, I want to explore exactly what he means by this phrase.

 We must be very careful when reading someone as elusive as Kierkegaard. Once again, it is Johannes Climacus who is the spokesman for the claim that all truth is subjectivity. Climacus is again attacking the philosophy of Hegel, who claimed that it was possible for human beings to possess absolute knowledge through bible-truth carefully analyzing human existence. Climacus questions how it is possible to have absolute certainty in this life, especially when we consider the wide variance between philosophers since ancient times. More importantly, the claim of absolute knowledge seems to mean that, for the Christian, knowing is more important than believing. Since faith, as in the case of Abraham, often times requires patience and endurance before reaching its fulfillment, there is a qualitative difference between faith and knowledge. According to Climacus, only God can have absolute knowledge. This is important to consider when pondering the assertion that all truth is subjective, for Climacus is making a major distinction between the human realm and the divine realm.

 One of Kierkegaard’s major emphases in his writings was that the Christian life is more than simply believing in orthodox doctrine. He himself was passionate about his relationship with Christ, and was disgusted by the apathetic attitude of many church-goers. Consequently, when Climacus claims that all truth is subjectivity he is claiming that human beings must appropriate the truth of whatever they believe if it is truly to take hold of their lives. There can be no such thing as a passive, disinterested Christian. Neither should the Christian confuse knowledge, which can never be complete in this life, with the life of faith. The Christian must make a leap of faith, in the sense that faith always involves risk. Climacus therefore hoped to contrast the willingness to believe and live out the truths of Christianity against the acceptance of philosophical systems that did not require any personal commitment. This, for Climacus, is the difference between subjective and objective truth.

As we have seen, it is very easy to construe Kierkegaard as a non-Christian if we do not take into consideration his strategy of indirect communication. Hopefully this brief introduction to Kierkegaard’s thought will stimulate many to a fuller appreciation for this important Christian thinker.


© 2000 Probe Ministries

About the Author

Tim Garrett is a former research associate with Probe Ministries. He has a B.A. in religion from George Fox University and an M.A. in the philosophy of religion from Denver Seminary. He served as a youth pastor for several years while in seminary.


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August 21, 2014

Ancient Biblical Texts

Filed under: Church History,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 8:22 pm

Question: “What is the Majority Text?”

majority.jpgAnswer: The Majority Text, also known as the Byzantine and Ecclesiastical Text, is a method of determining the original reading of a Scripture by discovering what reading occurs in a majority of the manuscripts. As the Greek New Testament was copied hundreds of times over 1500 years, the scribes, as careful as they were, occasionally made mistakes. The vast majority of these mistakes are in misspellings, or in whether “the” or a preposition occurs. It is important to remember, though, that no doctrine of the Christian faith is put into doubt by these textual questions. The testimony of the thousands of manuscripts over 1500 years is entirely consistent on all the key issues of the Christian faith.

It is vital, though, that our Bibles are as accurate as possible. The accuracy of the manuscripts plays a large role in determining the accuracy of the translation. While the presence of a the is not usually vital to the meaning of a verse, there are times when it can be. This is where the science of “textual criticism” comes in. The goal of textual criticism is to examine all of the available manuscripts, and by comparison and contrast, to determine what the original text truly was.

The Majority Text method within textual criticism could be called the “democratic” method. Essentially, each Greek manuscript has one vote, all the variants are voted on by all the manuscripts, and whichever variant has the most votes wins. At first glance, the Majority Text method would seem to be the most likely to result in the correct original reading. The problem is that the Majority Text method does not take into account two very important factors: (1) The age of the manuscripts, and (2) the location of the manuscripts.

(1) The age of the manuscripts.The more times a manuscript is copied, the more likely it is that errors will occur. A first-generation copy——one that was copied directly from the original——is very likely to be closer to the original than a tenth-generation copy (a copy that was copied from a copy, from a copy . . . from the original). Manuscripts from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries should be far closer to the originals than manuscripts from the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries. The problem is that the majority of the manuscripts are from the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries. To illustrate, let’s say there is a man named James Smith. Let’s say you are attempting to discover James Smith’s middle name. Who would be a better source, James Smith’s one thousand great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren, or James Smith’s son? Of course it would be James Smith’s son. Similarly, a 2nd- or 3rd-generation copy of the New Testament is far more likely to be correct than a 12th- or 13th-generation copy.

(2) The location of the manuscripts.The vast majority of Christians through the centuries have lived in western and eastern Europe. For cultural, theological, and political reasons, the western and eastern churches split. The western church became the Roman Catholic Church while the eastern church become the Orthodox Church. A few centuries after the start of Christianity, the western church began using Latin as its primary language. The eastern church continued using Greek as its primary language for another thousand years (and in some places, even to today). Textual critics have discovered that the manuscripts discovered in one part of the world tend to be very similar to other manuscripts from that part of the world, likely due to originating from the same source. Since the eastern church continued using Greek as its primary language for 1000+ years longer than the western church, there are significantly more Greek manuscripts that were discovered in eastern Europe than in western Europe. And, these eastern Greek manuscripts (the Byzantine manuscripts) are all very similar to each other. When the Majority Text is applied, this results in the eastern manuscripts having far greater weight than the western manuscripts. However, if the thousands of Latin manuscripts from the western church were thrown into the Majority Text “equation,” the results of the voting would be far more balanced, and would actually tilt away from the eastern / Byzantine reading.

Perhaps another illustration will help. Let’s say that there are two copies of a document, document A and document B, with minor differences between them due to copying mistakes. Document A is copied 100 times, while Document B is copied three times. If you used the Majority Text method, the Document A copies would have 100 votes, while the Document B copies would only have 3 votes. The Document A copies would win every vote. However, since Document A and Document B are both first-generation copies of another document, Document A and Document B and their “descendants” should be given equal weight in determining the most likely original reading.

The principles of age and location, then, result in “the majority rules” not being the best method in textual criticism. What, then, is the best method? The best method would seem to be taking into account all factors: majority, age, location, difficulty of the reading, and which variant best explains the origin of the other variants. This method is known as the “Eclectic Text” or “Critical Text.” Other than the King James Version and New King James Version, all of the modern English translations are based on the Eclectic Text. Most assume that the King James Version and New King James Version are based on the Majority Text. This is not correct.

The King James Version and New King James Version are based on the Textus Receptus. The Textus Receptus is very similar to the Majority Text, but there are in fact hundreds of differences between the Majority Text and the Textus Receptus. The Textus Receptus was compiled and edited by Erasmus in the 16th century. Erasmus used several Greek manuscripts, which were eastern / Byzantine in nature. This explains why the Textus Receptus is very similar to the Majority Text. However, Erasmus by no means had access to all of the Greek manuscripts, so there was no way he could develop a true Majority Text. The Textus Receptus is based on a very limited number of manuscripts, all of them eastern, and all of them dating to around the 12th century. As a result, compared to the Electic Text and the Majority Text, the Textus Receptus is far less likely to have the most accurate reading.

To summarize, the Majority Text is a method within textual criticism that uses the “majority rules” to determine which variant is most likely to be original. While the Majority Text method does result in the most likely original reading in most instances, it should not be employed universally or exclusively. There are many other important factors in determining which variant is most likely to be original.

Question: “What is the Textus Receptus?”

textus receptus.jpgAnswer: The Textus Receptus (Latin for “Received Text”) is a Greek New Testament that provided the textual base for the vernacular translations of the Reformation Period. It was a printed text, not a hand-copied manuscript, created in the 15th century to fill the need for a textually accurate Greek New Testament. As the Christian message was carried abroad, the books of the New Testament were not only taken along, but also translated into the languages of the people to whom the message was given. In the transmission of the text, copies were made, mostly by Christians who were not trained in the art of the task; therefore, not too much attention was given to the correctness of the copies. As the number of copies in the different languages proliferated, it became apparent that many differences and discrepancies were found in the various versions. Eventually, it became obvious that there was a need for someone to bring textual criticism into play.

Needless to say, the invention of the printing press with movable type in the mid-fifteenth century revolutionized the world of literature. The first Bible to be printed in 1456 was the Latin Vulgate. This was also known by the Gutenberg Bible. Bible scholars at that time were little concerned about the Greek text of the New Testament; the Latin Vulgate was their Bible.

Then in the late fifteenth century, the Greek language—unknown for hundreds of years—was recovered in the West, the geographical area of the Latin Church. With the rediscovery of Greek and its inception as the language of the people, the Latin Vulgate translation was subjected to a critical examination in comparison with the Greek original. Scholars discovered numerous mistranslations or outright errors in the Vulgate. This provided a reason for printing the New Testament in its original language, Greek.

erasmus.jpgErasmus, a 15th-century Dutch theologian, working at great speed in order to beat to press another Greek New Testament being prepared in Spain, gathered together what hand-copied Greek manuscripts he could locate. He found five or six, the majority of which were dated in the twelfth century. Working with all the speed he could, Erasmus did not even transcribe the manuscripts; he merely made notes on the manuscripts themselves and sent them to the printers. The entire New Testament was printed in about six to eight months and published in 1516. It became a best seller, despite its errors, and the first printing was soon gone. A second edition was published in 1519 with some of the errors having been corrected.

Erasmus published two other editions in 1527 and 1535. Stung by criticism that his work contained numerous textual errors, he incorporated readings from the Greek New Testament published in Spain in later editions of his work. Erasmus’ Greek text became the standard in the field, and other editors and printers continued the work after his death in 1536. In 1633, another edition was published. In the publisher’s preface, in Latin, we find these words: “Textum ergo habes, nun cab omnibus receptum,” which can be translated as “the [reader] now has the text that is received by all.” From that publisher’s notation have come the words “Received Text.” The Textus Receptus became the dominant Greek text of the New Testament for the following two hundred and fifty years. It was not until the publication of the Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament in 1881 that the Textus Receptus lost its position.

The reason for its losing its prominent position as a basis of biblical textual interpretation was the inception of textual criticism. Influential scholars paved the way for the acceptance of a critical text. The work of Westcott and Hort brought about the final dethronement of the Textus Receptus and the establishment of the principle of a critical text. However, the Textus Receptus is not a “bad” or misleading text, either theologically or practically. Technically, however, it is far from the original text. Yet three centuries were to pass before scholars had won the struggle to replace this hastily assembled text with a text which gave evidence to being closer to the New Testament Autographs.

Many consider the King James Version of the Bible to be the crown of English Bibles. Even at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Greek text used in preparing the KJV was the Textus Receptus. Both Luther and Tyndale translated the Scriptures into their vernacular languages using the same basic Greek text. Luther used the second edition of the Erasmus New Testament, and Tyndale utilized the third edition.

Regardless of one’s position on the Textus Receptus, it is evident that it had great influence on preserving God’s inspired Word through many centuries. Textual criticism of the Scriptures is so evidently important that all scholars and students of the Word of God need to utilize its principles in order to fulfill the biblical mandate, “Study to show yourselves approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth’ (2 Timothy 2:15).

Question: “What are Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus?”

Answer:Our knowledge of the original text of the Bible comes from ancient hand-written manuscripts. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. No one has the original articles, but thousands of ancient copies have been discovered. Since these copies are hand-written, there are variations in spelling, word order, and sentence structure among them. Even though those variations do cause some confusion about the biblical text, most of the manuscript readings are in agreement. Out of about 500 pages in the Greek New Testament, the manuscript variations represent only about half of a page.

sinatitcus.jpgThe majority of ancient manuscripts contain only small portions of the biblical text, like a book or a portion of a book. Among these manuscripts there are papyrus fragments, which are the remains of the most ancient scrolls, and typically represent only a few pages of text. These papyrus fragments have all been discovered during modern archaeological digs. Another group of manuscripts is the Uncials, which use all capital letters and are written on parchment or vellum, which is a smoother writing surface than papyrus, and allows for curved letters. The Uncial manuscripts were written between the 3rd and 8th centuries and were often bound as pages in a book, or codex, rather than a scroll. A few of these ancient codices have survived intact, giving us a solid view of the Bible used by the ancient church.

Two of the oldest complete (or nearly complete) manuscripts are the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. They are both written on parchment, and have a large number of corrections written over the original text.

Codex Sinaiticus, also known as “Aleph” (the Hebrew letter א), was found by Count Tischendorf in 1859 at the Monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai. Portions of the manuscript were found in the monastery dump, and a larger portion was presented to Tischendorf by one of the monks. It is a large codex, with 400 pages (or leaves) comprising about half of the Old Testament in the Septuagint version and the full New Testament. It has been dated to the second half of the 4th century and has been highly valued by Bible scholars in their efforts to reconstruct the original biblical text. Sinaiticus has heavily influenced the translation work of modern Bible versions. Though it is considered by some scholars to represent an original form of the text, it is also recognized as the most heavily corrected early New Testament manuscript.

Codex Vaticanus, also known as “B,” was found in the Vatican library. It is comprised of 759 leaves and has almost all of the Old and New Testaments. It is not known when it arrived at the Vatican, but it was included in a catalog listing in 1475, and it is dated to the middle of the 4th century. Vaticanus was first used as a source document by Erasmus in his work on the “Textus Receptus.” Because he viewed the text of Vaticanus to be erratic, he seldom followed it when it differed from other Greek texts.

There are varying theories on how these ancient texts should be viewed by modern scholars. On one hand, some believe that the most ancient reading should be followed, as it is closest in time to the original. On the other hand, some believe that the majority should rule. Since there are thousands of ancient manuscripts, they believe we should give precedence to the reading that is represented by the most documents. One issue that is sometimes raised against the majority viewpoint is that many of those documents were written very late (9th-15th century). The answer to this is that many of the early papyrus fragments support the majority reading. Additionally, the question has been raised, “If Vaticanus and Sinaiticus represent the original reading of the text, why are there so few manuscripts that follow their lead?” If they were valued by the early church, you would expect to find many copies made from them, covering a wide period of history. What we actually find is a few early manuscripts which agree with them, but then a disappearance of that text type as we progress through history.

There is much to be learned from examining these and other ancient texts, and they should continue to be highly valued by scholars. While there may be differences in opinion as to how they are to be used, one thing is certain—even with their textual variations, they show us that God has preserved His Word through the ages. We may debate the particular wording in a few passages, but the fact remains that over 90 percent of the New Testament text is unanimously supported by all the ancient manuscripts. In those passages where the proper reading is disputed, there is no major doctrinal change, and we can rest assured that we have the accurate, revealed words of God passed down to us.

Question: “What is the Critical Text?”

Answer:The Critical Text is a Greek text of the New Testament that draws from a group of ancient Greek manuscripts and their variants in an attempt to preserve the most accurate wording possible. Other Greek texts besides the Critical Text used for producing English Bibles are the Majority Text and the Textus Receptus.

Until the late 1800s, the Textus Receptus, or the “received text,” was the foremost Greek text from which the New Testament was derived. (The King James Version and New King James Version are based on the Textus Receptus.) In 1881 two prominent scholars, Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton J. A. Hort, printed their New Testament in Greek, later known as the Critical Text. Dismissing the Textus Receptus as an inferior text rife with errors, Westcott and Hort compiled a new Greek text, with special focus on two fourth-century manuscripts, the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus.

westcott.jpgAs a result of Westcott and Hort’s work, their Critical Text became the standard Greek text used for modern interpretation and translation for nearly two generations. The Critical Text was the one chiefly used for the English Revised Version and the later American Standard Version. Today, the updated and revised Critical Text is the Greek manuscript basis for the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, the English Standard Version, and virtually every other modern English translation of the Bible.

Though the Critical Text was not without its faults, it has been accepted, on the whole, as being the most accurate in duplicating the original text of the New Testament. Modern biblical scholars have adjusted and adapted Westcott and Hort’s theories of translation, which can be summarized by nine critical rules of biblical interpretation, including the following:

• The reading is less likely to be original if it shows a disposition to smooth away difficulties.

• Readings are approved or rejected by reason of the quality, and not the number of supporting witnesses.

• The preferred reading best explains the existence of other readings.

• The preferred reading makes the best sense; that is, it best conforms to the grammar and is most congruous with the purport of the rest of the sentence and of the larger context.

With the discovery of new manuscript evidence, the Critical Text has been revised many times. Currently, the Nestle-Aland text (now in its twenty-eighth edition) is the critical text in common use, along with the Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies (UBS).

In summary, the Critical Text is an effort to discover the wording of the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament by comparing/contrasting all of the existing manuscripts and using logic and reason to determine the most likely original readings. While no human effort will ever produce an absolutely perfect copy of the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, the Critical Text is very likely extremely close to what the New Testament authors wrote.

Question: “What is the Septuagint?”

septuagint.jpgAnswer: The Septuagint (also known as the LXX) is a translation of the Hebrew Bible into the Greek language. The name “Septuagint” comes from the Latin word for seventy. The tradition is that 70 (or 72) Jewish scholars were the translators behind the Septuagint. The Septuagint was translated in the third and second centuries B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt. As Israel was under the authority of Greece for several centuries, the Greek language became more and more common. By the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C., most people in Israel spoke Greek as their primary language. That is why the effort was made to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek – so that those who did not understand Hebrew could have the Scriptures in a language they could understand. The Septuagint represents the first major effort at translating a significant religious text from one language into another.

It is interesting to note that many of the New Testament quotes from the Hebrew Bible are taken from the Septuagint. As faithful as the Septuagint translators strived to be in accurately rendering the Hebrew text into Greek, some translational differences arose. In comparing the New Testament quotations of the Hebrew Bible, it is clear that the Septuagint was often used. This is the result of the fact that by the late 1st century B.C., and especially the 1st century A.D. – the Septuagint had “replaced” the Hebrew Bible as the Scriptures most people used. Since most people spoke and read Greek as their primary language, and the Greek authorities strongly encouraged the use of Greek, the Septuagint became much more common than the Hebrew Old Testament. The fact that the Apostles and New Testament authors felt comfortable, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, in using the Septuagint should give us assurance that a translation of the original languages of the Bible is still the authoritative Word of God.

Question: “What is the Masoretic Text?”

Answer:The Hebrew text of the Old Testament is called the Masoretic Text because in its present form it is based upon the Masora—the Hebrew, textual tradition of the Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes (or Masorites). The Masoretes were rabbis who made it their special work to correct the faults that had crept into the text of the Old Testament during the Babylonian captivity, and to prevent, for the future, its being corrupted by any alteration. They first separated the apocryphal from the canonical books, and divided the latter into twenty-two books, being the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Then they divided each book into sections and verses.

Although the existing copies of the Masoretic Text date back only to the tenth century, two other important textual evidences bolster the confidence of textual critics that it is accurate. The first is the successive discoveries of manuscripts at Qumran by the Dead Sea since 1947. These revealed portions of manuscripts several centuries older than any previously known. The second is the comparison of the Masoretic text to the Greek translation called the Septuagint (or LXX), which was written around 200-150 B.C. The oldest existing manuscripts date back to the fourth century A.D. Both the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal an amazing consistency with the Masoretic Text, assuring us that God was indeed divinely and sovereignly protecting His Word through thousands of years of copying and translating.

There is a great difference of opinion as to when the Masoretic Text was written, but it was probably accomplished in the 10th -11th century. Several editions existed, varying considerably, but the received and authoritative text is that of Jacob ben-chayim ibn Adonijah, who carefully sifted and arranged the previous works on the subject. It was published in 1524. Copyright Policy: While all of the material on the website is under copyright protection, the only purpose of our copyright is to make sure people copy it right. As long as you always clearly reference and/or link to as the source of the material, you have our permission to copy, print, and distribute our material.

“Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107

The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Center of Everything

Filed under: Bible,Colossians,Theology,Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 2:30 pm


Why Beliefs Matter
Colossians 1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
[2] To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
1. Paul says he is an apostle. Exactly what is an apostle?
ἀπόστολοςapostolos (ap-os’-tol-os) n.
1. a delegate
2. (specially) an ambassador of the Gospel
3. (officially) a commissioner of Christ, “apostle” (with miraculous powers)
KJV: apostle, messenger, he that is sent
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ,…. The apostle puts his name to this epistle, by which he was known in the Gentile world, as he usually does in all his epistles; and styles himself “an apostle”, as he was, having seen Christ in person, and received his commission, doctrine, and qualifications immediately from him, with a power of doing miracles to confirm the truth of his mission.
Apostle. This term conveys the ideas of mission, authorization, and responsibility. And its NT meaning probably is to be derived from the Hebrew word shālah, “to send.”The substantive shāliah, a virtual equivalent of the NT word “apostle,” is not uncommon in rabbinical writings. It was primarily a legal term, signifying authorized representation. As in the modern law of agency, the one sent was held to be equivalent to the sender himself. To dishonor the king’s ambassador was to dishonor the king himself.  Apostle of Jesus Christ, those directly commissioned as apostles by the risen Lord (cf. 1 Cor 9:1; 15:8-10). Thus Paul exercised the function of an apostle by the will of God.Wycliffe Bible Commentary,
[3] We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, [4] since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, [5] because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, [6] which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, [7] just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf [8] and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
2. What exactly is the gospel?
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.1 Cor 15:1-8
Paul was very specific in that the Gospel is totally a product of grace and nothing can be added to it, it must not be watered down, or expanded upon, or corrupted by man’s philosophy. The belief in the crucified and risen Christ, His payment of my sin debt and new spiritual life, opens the door to regeneration.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7  not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Gal 1:6-10 (ESV)
[9] And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, [10] so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. [11] May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, [12] giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. [13] He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, [14] in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
3. From a practical sense how does our belief in the gospel manifest itself?
Keys words and phrases: Filled with knowledge, spiritual wisdom, walking worthy, pleasing God, bearing fruit, good work, increasing in knowledge of God, strengthened, patience, joy, qualified, inheritance, saints, light, delivered, transferred, redemption, forgiveness.
The power of the gospel performs a supernatural transformation re-creation event on a par with the creation of the world. In some sense it is a greater miracle in that this planet is only matter and a person has a spiritual component which must be regenerated, and brought back to life.
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,Titus 3:5 (ESV)
Who Christ is.
           [15] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. [16] For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. [17] And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. [19] For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, [20] and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
4. How is Jesus the image of God?
We have no ability to see or even comprehend God. God is spirit, we are matter which is just energy converted into stuff: E=MC2. We are and live in a four dimensional universe, created specifically for us to live in. God is multidimensional and exists outside of this dimension. He has allowed the Son to interact with us so that we can get a picture of what God is like.
And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape John 5:37 (KJV)
I and my Father are one. John 10:30 (KJV)
Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; John 14:9 (KJV)
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, Heb 1:3 (ESV)
5. Firstborn of creation?  You mean God created the Son along with everything else?
  NO!   Firstborn of all creation.It would be wrong to think in physical terms here, as if Paul were asserting that the Son had a physical origin or was somehow created (the classic Arian heresy) rather than existing eternally as the Son, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in the Godhead. What Paul had in mind was the rights and privileges of a firstborn son, especially the son of a monarch who would inherit ruling sovereignty. This is how the expression is used of David: “I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth”(Ps. 89:27).ESV Study Notes
Firstborn πρωτότοκος  (prōtotokos) was interpreted by the Arians to mean “first of a kind,” i.e., Christ was the first creature. The word can have this meaning (cf. Rom 8:29); but such a reading is not consistent with Paul’s theme, which here stresses a Messianic priority and primacyWycliffe Bible Commentary,
Preeminence over the creation is the idea Paul was advancing.
6. “and in him all things hold together” What all thing? Do you mean everything?
One of the key words in the Colossians passage above (“…and in Christ all things hold together“) is the Greek word sunistemiwhich means “to stand-together,” “to be compacted together,” “to cohere,” “to be constituted with.” This passage can be applied to the structure of the atom, for example. The nucleus of every atom is held together by what physicists call “weak” and“strong” forces. [Physicists today are familiar with four basic forces in the natural world: gravity, and electrical forces, plus a "strong," and a "weak" nuclear force. The first two forces decrease in strength inversely with the square of the distance between two objects, the latter two forces act only at very short ranges]. The nucleus of the atom contains positively-charged and neutral particles–to use a very simplistic model. Mutual electrostatic repulsion between the like-positive protons would drive the nucleus apart if it were not for the“strong force” which binds the nucleus together. There is thus an active force imposed on the universe, which actively holds the very atoms of the material world together moment by moment, day by day, century by century. Similarly accelerated electrons circling the nucleus should quickly radiate all their energy away and fall into the nucleus unless there exists an invisible energy source to counteract this.  Lambert Dolphin, Physicist
7. All things were created for Him? I thought this was all about me?                     
No actually it’s all about Him. We are allowed to participate in what belongs to him. This is just not about providing you with a fire insurance policy, so you can sit on a cloud and play your harp.
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.1 Cor 2:9 (KJV)
All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.  Matt 28:18 (ASV)
There is a purpose to all of this.
Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  Eph 1:9-10 (ESV)
What Christ has Done?
[21] And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, [22] he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, [23] if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
8. What is the reconciliation thing about?
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we arereconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.Romans 5:10-11 (ESV)
In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  2 Cor 5:19 (ESV)
Reconciliation: The Japanese fighter plane, the Zero was manufactured by Mitsubishi. Today Mitsubishis are a top selling car in the U.S. along with hundreds of brands of Japanese products. It’s as though WWII never happened. Our two countries are reconciled.
Our estrangement from God has been fixed.                                                                         
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned………………..
For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:12,17-19 (ESV)
[24] Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, [25] of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, [26] the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. [27] To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. [28] Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. [29] For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
9. How was the mystery hidden for ages?
The entire concept of gentiles coming into relationship with the God of Abraham was unthinkable to the Jewish mind. What about the Mosaic Law and the sacrifices and the Temple.
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Gal 3:8-9 (ESV)
There were scriptures in the OT which referenced gentile salvation, but they were pretty much ignored and explained away by the rabbis. There are things in the bible we do not fully understand until after they happen. Their meaning and understanding is hidden. The book of Daniel ends with God telling Daniel to seal up the words, because they will not be understood until the end times. That is why it is important to continue to study the scriptures, because new information is constantly being revealed with reference to our present world.

ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes

MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study   Notes

NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes.

JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee’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.

EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures

CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary

SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary

K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT

EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary

CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College

GC……………………Guzik Commentary

RD…………………..Robert  Deffinbaugh

NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible

MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary

CSTTB………Chuck Smith Through The Bible

LESB…………….Life Essentials Study Bible.



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The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

August 17, 2014

Hebrews Chapter 6

Filed under: Bible,Hebrews,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 8:42 pm

1  Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2  and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3  And this we will do if God permits.

1. What is this issue of laying again a foundation ?

elementary doctrine of Christ. Cf. “basic principles” (5:12). Three paired examples of doctrine are given: (1) Christian conversion through repentance (i.e., turning away) from works that cannot save asolid.jpegnd through faith in God and not on dead works, see (2)washings (plural of Gk. baptismos), where the plural may refer to teaching about the differences between Jewish purification rites and Christian baptism, and laying on of hands, which could refer to an initiatory rite at the time of baptism or to other hand-laying practices during prayers for healing and during commissioning of individuals for ministry and (3) the believers’ future hope of resurrection and the eternal judgment upon all people. ESVN

The writer proposed that his readers leave elementary teaching concerning the Messiah in the past. They did not need to learn that again, presumably by catechetical instruction. They did not need further instruction about abandoning confidence in works for salvation (either as part of the Levitical rituals or just as legalism) and turning to God in faith. This too was foundational truth they did not need to learn again.

They did not need further instruction in four other subjects either. “Washings” evidently refers to the doctrine of spiritual cleansing. The Greek word translated “washings” is baptismos that refers to Jewish ceremonial washings whenever it occurs in the New Testament (Mark 7:4, 8; Heb. 9:10). A different Greek word (baptisma) describes Christian baptism. This means the writer here referred not to baptism but to spiritual cleansing.

The “laying on of hands” in Judaism was part of the sacrificial ritual (Lev. 1:4; 3:2; 4:4; 8:14; 16:21; et al.) and commissioning for public office (Num. 27:18, 23; Deut. 34:9; cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3). In the early church the imparting of the Holy Spirit sometimes accompanied this practice (Acts 8:17-18; 19:6; cf. v. 4, 2:4; 10:29).

The Old Testament taught the resurrection of the dead (Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2) and eternal judgment (Gen. 18:25; Isa. 33:22).

The writer presented the six foundational teachings in verses 1 and 2 in three pairs: (1) repentance from dead works, and faith toward God (v. 1), (2) instruction about washings, and laying on of hands (v. 2a), and (3) instruction about the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment (v. 2b).

The structure of this sentence in Greek suggests that the last two pairs explain the first pair. Laying the foundation of repentance and faith consists of instruction regarding washings, sortilege (laying on hands), resurrection, and judgment. The first pair points God-ward, the second man-ward, and the third forward into the future.

Each of these teachings was foundational in Judaism as well as in Christianity. Most of the original readers would have come to believe these truths even before they became Christians. They are very basic. CN

4  For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5  and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6  and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.7  For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8  But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

2. So is the writer teaching that believers can fall away and never be redeemed again?


In reality he is teaching the exact opposite. The flow of logic to his argument follows that people who have been exposed to all the truth and blessing of the atonement of Jesus Christ’s provided by his crucifixion, death. and resurrection, if they still refuse the drawing of God to be regenerated, spiritually born again, then there is nothing more that that can be done to overcome their resistance. The gospel is the “whole enchilada”. “there ain’t no more”

6:4 enlightened. They had received instruction in biblical truth which was accompanied by intellectual perception. Understanding the gospel is not the equivalent of regeneration. In Jn 1:9 it is clear that enlightening is not the equivalent of salvation.  

John 1:9 (HCSB)  The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.


tasted of the heavenly gift. Tasting in the figurative sense in the NT refers to consciously experiencing something (cf. 2:9). The experience might be momentary or continuing. Christ’s “tasting” of death (2:9) was obviously momentary and not continuing or permanent.

Hebrews 2:9 (NASB) But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.


All men experience the goodness of God, but that does not mean they are all saved (cf. Mt 5:45; Ac 17:25).

Matthew 5:45 (NASB)  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.


Acts 17:25 (NASB) nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;


Many Jews, during the Lord’s earthly ministry experienced the blessings from heaven He brought—in healings and deliverance from demons, as well as eating the food He created miraculously (Jn 6). Whether the gift refers to Christ (cf. Jn 6:51; 2Co 9:15) or to the Holy Spirit (cf. Ac 2:38; 1Pe 1:12), experiencing either one was not the equivalent of salvation (cf. Jn 16:8; Ac 7:51).

partakers of the Holy Spirit. Even though the concept of partaking is used in 3:1; 3:14; and 12:8 of a relationship which believers have, the context must be the final determining factor. This context in vv. 4–6 seems to preclude a reference to true believers. It could be a reference to their participation, as noted above, in the miraculous ministry of Jesus who was empowered by the Spirit, or in the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:8) which obviously can be resisted without experiencing salvation (cf. Ac 7:51).

Acts 7:51 (NASB) “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.


6:5 tasted. See note on v. 4. This has an amazing correspondence to what was described in 2:1–4 .

Hebrews 2:1-4 (NASB1  For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2  For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3  how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4  God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.  

Like Simon Magus (Ac 8:9–24), these Hebrews had not yet been regenerated in spite of all they had heard and seen (cf. Mt 13:3–9; Jn 6:60–66). They were repeating the sins of those who died in the wilderness after seeing the miracles performed through Moses and Aaron and hearing the voice of God at Sinai.

6:6 fallen away. This Gr. term occurs only here in the NT. In the LXX, it was used to translate terms for severe unfaithfulness and apostasy (cf. Eze 14:13; 18:24; 20:27). It is equivalent to the apostasy in 3:12. The seriousness of this unfaithfulness is seen in the severe description of rejection within this verse: they re-crucify Christ and treat Him contemptuously. Those who sinned against Christ in such a way had no hope of restoration or forgiveness (cf. 2:2, 3; 10:26, 27; 12:25). The reason is that they had rejected Him with full knowledge and conscious experience (as described in the features of vv. 5, 6). With full revelation they rejected the truth, concluding the opposite of the truth about Christ, and thus had no hope of being saved. They can never have more knowledge than they had when they rejected it. They have concluded that Jesus should have been crucified, and they stand with his enemies. There is no possibility of these verses referring to losing salvation. Many Scripture passages make unmistakably clear that salvation is eternal (cf. Jn 10:27–29; Ro 8:35, 37, 38, 39; Php 1:6; 1Pe 1:4, 5). Those who want to make this verse mean that believers can lose salvation will have to admit that it would then also say that one could never get it back again.

John 10:27-30 (NASB) “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29  “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.


eternal-security.jpgRomans 8:35-39 (NASB)  Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?……………… 37  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  


Philippians 1:6 (NASB) For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 1:4-5 (NASB) to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5  who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.


6:7, 8 Here are illustrations showing that those who hear the gospel message and respond in faith are blessed; those who hear and reject it are cursed (cf. Mt 13:18–23).

6:8 worthless. See the use of the term in Ro 1:28 (“depraved”); 2Co 13:5 (“fail the test”); and 2Ti 3:8 (“rejected”). MSBN

I believe that those described in verses 4 and 5 are those who have come very close to faith, but who have never embraced the gospel personally for salvation. The most forceful example of this “close, but no cigar” unbeliever would be Judas, a man who heard the gospel from our Lord, who experienced God’s power, but who never really believed in Jesus for salvation. It would seem that the kind of person who is described above is one who has heard the gospel, who has witnessed and perhaps even experienced its power, but who has not come to faith, and who after experiencing the gospel “up close and personal,” has rejected it. I see these unbelievers as those who exercise a significant level of authority and influence in the church. I see these folks as being the source of much of the pressure and temptation to revert back to the law-works of unbelieving Judaism.

These would-be teachers are those who seem to have grasped the gospel and to have been exposed to it to the degree that they have witnessed (and perhaps experienced) some of its power. But they, like Judas, never crossed the line of faith in Jesus. They chose to remain in the shadows of the Old Testament concerning Messiah, rather than to fully embrace Jesus as the Messiah. They preferred the old rituals and rules to the freedom of the New Covenant. They seemed to prefer a strictly Jewish system rather than the church, composed of Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus. And, in my estimation, they sought to persuade others to think and act in a similar manner.RD

Most argue, however, that although these people may have participated fully in the Christian covenantal community (where they experienced enlightened instruction in the Word of God, where they saw public repentance occur, and where the Holy Spirit was at work in powerful ways), when such people do “fall away” it is clear that they are not true Christians because they have not made a true, saving response to the gospel, resulting in genuine faith, love, and perseverance (vv. 9–12). Significantly, they are like land that received much rain but bore no good fruit, only “thorns and thistles” (v. 8). They may have participated outwardly in the Christian community and they even may have shared in the blessings of Christian fellowship; but, like the seed that fell on rocky ground in the parable of the sower, “they have no root” (Mark 4:17) and they “fall away” when faced with persecution. ESVN


Matthew 13:18-23 (NASB)

sower.jpg18  “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19  “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20  “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21  yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22  “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23  “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”


Matthew 13:30 (NASB)

30  ~’Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

9  Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.


3. Is the writer still talking to the same people?

beloved. This term shows a change of audience and a change from a message of warning to a message of encouragement. That the address is to believers is further confirmed by the expression of confidence that “better things” could be said of them (as compared to those who were being warned in the preceding verses). The “things that accompany salvation” are their works which verify their salvation. The very statement implies that the things described in 5:11–6:5 do not accompany salvation but are indicative of unbelief and apostasy. though we are speaking in this way. Though it had been necessary to speak about judgment in the preceding verses, the writer assures the “beloved,” those who are believers, that he is confident of their salvation.

work and … love. See 1Th 1:3, 4. toward His name. Throughout this epistle “name” has the Hebraic sense of the authority, character, and attributes of the Son of God (1:4) or of God the Father. saints. All true Christians are saints, or “holy ones”. MSBN

1 Timothy 1:4-5 (NASB)

nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5  But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.


However, the writer assure his readers that in spite of the way he has spoken he expects better things of them than to produce thorns and thistles because they are barren land. He is persuaded of those better things, things which go along with and accompany salvation. He looks for fruit and faithfulness, and the blessing of God on them. And he does so because he believes that he has seen genuine fruit in their lives.

‘Beloved.’ He is not just speaking cold doctrine. His heart it reaching out to them.


‘Accompany salvation.’ The word “accompany” signifies “conjoined with”, or inseparable from, that which has a sure connection with “salvation”. The things that accompany salvation are a true faith in Christ, a commitment to His service, and a life of love lived out in the Holy Spirit.

For, he assures them, he is certain that God will not forget what they have done in His name. He is not unrighteous. And therefore there is no danger that He will overlook their work, and their ministry to the saints, to His people, and the love that they show for His name in continual ministry to His people even to the present time. He cannot believe that it is not genuine.

We are reminded here especially of the words, ‘inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me’ (Mat_25:40). God sees what people do for those who are His, and takes regard of it. Even a cup of cold water given in Christ’s name to a disciple will not lose its reward (Mar_9:41). PC

11  And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12  so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

4. So is it their works that gives them assurance or assurance that motivates their works?

Hope is important. Probably no movement has ever gripped the hearts of people if it did not give them hope.”

Earlier the writer had described his readers as being sluggish (lit. lazy, 5:11). Now he urged them to be diligent and to stop being lazy. The same Greek word (nothroi) occurs in both places. He wanted them to remain faithful to God while waiting patiently for Him to fulfill His promises to them regarding their future inheritance.

“The theme of imitation recurs in 13:7, and in both instances faith is seen as steadfast persistence that pursues the divine promise . . .”

perseverance.jpgSome commentators have used this verse to support the unbiblical idea that believers should look to their good works as evidence of their election and as the basis for their assurance of salvation. This verse is not saying that. The Greek word plerophoria always means “fullness” in the passive sense, not “fulfilling.” The writer meant that we need to be diligent regarding something we have already obtained, not to obtain something, namely, assurance. CN

The purpose of the warning (vv. 4–8), indeed of the whole letter, is to encourage earnest perseverance until the end. This demands hope, which is closely allied with faith, and enduring patience. imitators of those who … inherit the promises. Abraham is the immediate example in; other examples are found in ch. 11. ESVN

“Work and labour of love” won’t save you, but if you are saved, this is why you are rewarded. This is where good works come in. Although they have nothing to do with your salvation, they certainly do have a very important part in a believer’s life.

We need that “full assurance of hope unto the end.” JVM


13  For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14  saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15  And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16  For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17  So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18  so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19  We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20  where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

5. What specific promise did God make to Abraham?

The promise of many descendants was made with an oath to emphasize its unchanging character (see Ge 22:16-18 ). Ordinarily the swearing of an oath belongs to our fallen human situation, in which a person’s word is not always trustworthy. God’s swearing of an oath was a condescension to human frailty, thus making his word, which in itself is absolutely trustworthy, doubly dependable. NIVSN

Genesis 22:16-18 (NKJV)

abe.jpg16  and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son– 17  blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18  In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

As if he had said, And it appears that this is the way to partake of mercies promised, because Abraham was obliged to exercise faith and long-suffering before he obtained the accomplishment of the promise made to him. The promise here referred to, is that which God made to Abraham after he had laid Isaac on the altar, Gen_22:16-17. For on no other occasion did God confirm any promise to Abraham with an oath. To Abraham — Whose spiritual as well as natural seed you believing Hebrews are, and therefore shall partake of the same promises and blessings which were ensured to him. Because he could swear by no greater person, he sware by himself — By his own sacred and divine name; saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee — And all believers in thee; and multiplying I will multiply thee — Both thy natural and thy spiritual seed. The apostle quotes only the first words of the oath; but his reasoning is founded on the whole; and particularly on the promise, (Gen_22:18,) And in thy seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. They shall be blessed by having their faith counted to them for righteousness, through thy seed, Christ. And so after he had patiently endured — Μακροθυμησας, after he had waited, or suffered long: he waited about thirty years before Isaac was born, after he was promised; he obtained the promise — Here, by a usual figure of speech, the promise is put for the thing promised. “In the birth of Isaac, Abraham obtained the beginning of the accomplishment of God’s promise concerning his numerous natural progeny. Moreover, as the birth of Isaac was brought about supernaturally by the divine power, it was both a proof and a pledge of the accomplishment of the promise concerning the birth of his numerous spiritual seed. Wherefore, in the birth of Isaac, Abraham may truly be said to have obtained the accomplishment of the promise concerning his numerous spiritual seed likewise. In any other sense, Abraham did not obtain the accomplishment of that promise.” JBC

6. What is the significance of the “oath” in this example with Abraham?

God’s Word does not need any confirmation from someone else. It is reliable because God Himself is faithful. People confirm their promises by appealing to someone greater (especially to God) as witness. Since no one is greater than God, He can only provide an oath from Himself. By doing so He is willingly (v. 17) accommodating Himself to human beings who desire the confirmation because of the characteristic unreliability of human promises.

two unchangeable things. These are God’s promise and His oath. The Gr. term behind “unchangeable” was used of a legal will, which was unchangeable by anyone but the maker of the will. taken refuge. In the LXX, the Gr. word is used for the cities of refuge God provided for those who sought protection from avengers for an accidental killing. Hope is one of the themes of Hebrews. It is also the product of OT studies (Ro 15:4). Hope for the fulfillment of God’s salvation promises is the “anchor of the soul” (v. 19) keeping the believer secure during the times of trouble and turmoil. MSBN


Kinkade - Rock of Salvation 1944X1472.jpgWhen a person wants to end an argument, one way to do so is to appeal to a higher authority with an oath. For example, some people do this by saying, “I am telling the truth so help me God.” Even God used an oath to guarantee His promise to bless Abraham greatly (Gen. 22:16; cf. Exod. 32:13; Isa. 45:23; Jer. 22:5; 49:13). God swearing by Himself signifies that He binds His word to His character. Thus God gave Abraham double assurance that He would indeed deliver what He had promised. He gave him the assurance of the promise of the God who does not lie and the assurance that God specially guaranteed that particular promise. The two unchangeable things are God’s promise and His oath. God’s strong promise to Abraham then can be a great encouragement to us now because God has also promised us future blessings. Specifically, He has promised us the possibility of receiving rewards when we see Him if we persevere faithfully now (cf. 2 Tim. 2:12).

The figure that closes verse 18 is an Old Testament one. In our times of temptation to apostatize we can flee to the promises of God. We can take hold of them as a fearful person in Israel could flee to the altar of burnt offerings, take hold of its horns, and be safe from his assailants. The cities of refuge also provided safety for the Israelites (Num. 35:9-15; Josh. 20). We have a better refuge than the Israelites did in Judaism.

“In Hebrews, the word ‘hope’ never describes a subjective attitude (i.e., ‘our hope,’ or ‘hopefulness’) but always denotes the objective content of hope, consisting of present and future salvation . . .” CN

ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes
MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study   Notes
NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes.
JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee’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.
EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures
CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary
SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary
K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT
EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary
CBSC…………………Cambridge Bible for Schools and College
GC……………………Guzik Commentary
RD………………….  .Robert  Deffinbaugh
NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible
MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary
CSTTB……………….Chuck Smith Through The Bible
LESB………………….Life Essentials Study Bible.
PC………………………Pett’s Commentary
JBC…………………….Joseph Benson Commentary
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What is the Jewish Talmud?

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 6:14 pm
by Alden Bass



“Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—’then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocritejesus-rebukes-phariseess! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, teaching as doctrine the traditions of men’ (Matthew 15:3-9).

 In interpreting the Law of Moses, the Pharisees overstepped their bounds by inserting the traditions of their fathers in place of God’s holy law, and were summarily condemned by the Lord for their actions. Though Jesus preached against this Pharisaical traditionalism throughout His earthly ministry, the Judaism practiced today is based almost exclusively upon it. What Jesus called the “traditions of men” is now known as “rabbinicalism,” and is grounded firmly in the extrabiblical writings of the Talmud.

 The Jews believe that two laws were given to Moses—the written and the oral. Both were given to Moses by God at Sinai: the written was engraved on stone tablets, and penned by Moses shortly before his death (Deuteronomy 31:9-13), while the oral was revealed in the conversation between God and the great Lawgiver on the mountain. This second body of law was passed from Moses to Joshua, from Joshua to the Israelite elders, and then from generation to generation as the ages passed. Each generation of teachers “expanded” on this law, which eventually became quite extensive, and added much unnecessary legislation to God’s already adequate laws. It was this orally transmitted law that was advanced and defended by many of talmud-e1320970766497the Pharisees of Jesus’ day (Matthew 15:1-2), and then used in their attempts to restrict Him from certain activities on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6). The Jews found justification for the oral law in Exodus 20:1 (“And God spoke all these words…”), although this interpretation of the passage is contrived at best.

 After the destruction of Jerusalem and the Bar-Kokhba rebellion in the first century A.D., the rabbis who were familiar with the oral law were few in number, and it was feared that there would not be enough Jews left to pass on the great traditions. To remedy this potential problem, Rabbi Judah the Prince set out to organize and record the oral law into a formal body of written law in A.D. 166 (Telushkin, 1991). The oral law, now called the Mishna, was methodically organized. Formerly, if a question arose about the Sabbath, a search would be made in all five books of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), and scattered references would be collected. This was time-consuming and impractical during the time when books were rare, and so Rabbi Judah organized and grouped all related passages into topical sections, along with the interpretations, opinions, and precedents that characterized the oral traditions. Thus the Mishnah, the codified oral law, consists of 63 “tractates” relating to every aspect of Jewish life.

 To illustrate the differences in the two types of law, contrast these passages from the Torah and the Mishna. The Torah declares: Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day.” This was practiced in a literal fashion for centuries (with the Jews probably sitting around in the cold and dark from Friday night until Saturday evening), until the scribes and Pharisees came along with their new interpretation. These learned men declared that it was acceptable to have lights on the Sabbath, so long as they were kindled before the Sabbath began, and not touched until after the Sabbath ended. This interpretation led to all sorts of little regulations to guard people from accidentally touching the lamp on the Sabbath. One of these was the Mishna regulation one shall not read by the lamplight—the reason being, if one were reading by the lamp, one might be tempted to adjust the light, and thereby violate the original commandment (see Browne, 1933, pp. 181ff.).

 As the Jewish teachers continued to study and debate the fine points of the Mishna, a body of scholarly commentary grew, which subsequently was called the Gemara. This commentary was combined with the Mishna, and referred to as the Talmud. There are two works that fall under this appellation, labeled by their place of origin: the Babylonian Talmud, and the Jerusalem Talmud. The latter is less intact, and was completed c. A.D. 350, while the former and more respected of the two was completed c. A.D. 550. Today, only one manuscript survives: the Munish manuscript of 1342. These books are of tremendous size, comprising about 6,000 pages in today’s modern print. Alfred Edersheim, noted Jewish scholar, defined the Talmud in this way:

 If we imagine something combining law reports, a Rabbinical “Hansard,” and notes of a theological debating club—all thoroughly Oriental, full of digressions,rabbis-talmud anecdotes, quaint sayings, fancies, legends, and too often of what, from its profanity, superstition, and even obscenity, could scarcely be quoted, we may form some general idea of what the Talmud is (1972, p. 103).

 The Talmud is intended to do more than simply restate the law; the material is meant to connect the laws to everyday life, and to give practical instruction. The Talmud presents the opinions of the scholars, and presents their debates over each topic, no matter how mundane or inane. Its purpose was to complement the Torah, but it came to supplement(if not displace) it. Note the tediousness and absurdity of the following rabbinic debate:

 Rabbah [a Babylonian scholar] said [that one should not read by the lamplight] even if it be placed [far out of reach, say] the height from the ground of two men, or two stories, or even on top of ten houses, one above the other.

[That is] “one may not read.” But it does not say two may not read together, [for then one can guard the other against snuffing the wick]. Against this supposition, however, there is a tradition that “neither one nor two together” [may read].

Said Rabbi Elazar: “There is no contradiction here. The Mishna allows [two people to read together] so long as they read the same subject. But the tradition [forbids it only if] they are reading different subjects…” (Browne, 1933, pp. 182-183, emp. in orig.).

 And so it goes, on and on…

Such Socratic, rambling dialogue is common in the Talmud, and many examples could be cited. Strong and McClintock remarked:

 Abounding, moreover, in fantastic trifles and Rabbinical reveries, it must appear almost incredible that any sane man could exhibit such acumen and such ardor in the invention of those unintelligible comments, in those nice scrupulosities, and those ludicrous chimeras which the rabbins have solemnly published to the world… (1970, 10:168).

 Underlying the Talmud is the assumption of the perfection of the Mishna, giving this book of human origin a sanctity almost equal to that of the Bible (Douglas, 1991, p. 808). This became necessary for the survival of Judaism after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, since much of the Old Law revolved around the Temple. After the House of God was destroyed and the Jews scattered, Judaism essentially had to be rewritten. Observe in this excerpt the great respect given to the traditions, compared to the law in the Talmud:

 The spirit of the Talmudic process is expressed in a tale in tractate Baba Meziah.Rabbi Eliezer, a proponent of unchanging tradition—“a well-lined cistern that doesnt lose a drop,” as his teacher characterized him—was engaged in a legal disputation with his colleagues. “He brought all the reasons in the world,” but the majority would not accept his view. Said Rabbi Eliezer, “If the law is as I hold it to be, let this tree prove it,” and the tree uprooted itself a hundred amma, but they said, “Proof cannot be brought from a tree.” Rabbi Eliezer persisted, saying, “Let these waters determine it,” and the waters began to flow backwards, but his colleagues responded that waters cannot determine the law. Once again Rabbi Eliezer tried, asking the walls of the study house to support him. They began to phariseestotter, whereupon the spokesman for the majority, Rabbi Joshua, admonished them, “when rabbis are engaged in legal discussion what right have ye to interfere!” So the walls did not fall in respect for Rabbi Joshua, nor did they return to their upright position, in respect for Rabbi Eliezer-and “they remain thus to this day!” But Rabbi Eliezer would not surrender and cried out: “Let Heaven decide.” A voice was heard from Heaven saying: “Why do ye dispute with Rabbi Eliezer; the law is always as he says it to be.” Whereupon Rabbi Joshua arose and proclaimed, quoting Scripture, “It is not in Heaven!” Rabbi Jeremiah explained, “The Law was given at Sinai and we no longer give heed to heavenly voices, for in that Law it is stated: ‘One follows the majority.’ ” God’s truth, divine law, is not determined by miracles or heavenly voices, but by the collegium of rabbis, men learned in the law, committed to the law and expert in its application to the life of the pious community (“The Talmud,” 2003).

 Despite the tedious legalese illustrated above, the Talmud does offer pieces of wisdom and learning. “Be thou the cursed, not he who curses.” “The soldiers fight, and the kings are called the heroes.” “The passions are not all evil, for were it not for them, no one would build a house, marry a wife, beget children, or do any work.” One third of the book consists of “clever fables and quaint legends and amusing proverbs” like those mentioned above, and is the essential source for all Jewish culture.

 Today, Jews accept the Talmud in many different ways. An old joke says that if you put ten Jews in a room together you’ll get eleven different opinions on it. The Orthodox Jews basically accept the Talmud as authoritative, while the more liberal Reformed Jews reject most of the legislation. Conservatives fall somewhere in between. Nonetheless, it is accepted by all Jews as an important body of tradition and lore.

 The Christian can learn a great lesson from this discussion about the dangers of adding to God’s Word. In the case of the Jews, what began as small footnotes to the Word became a body of literature all its own—a body that now possess as much authority in some minds as the written law of God. While there is always a place for scholarly examination and reference in personal Bible study, we must be careful never to accept “as doctrine the commandments of men.”

[The Talmud can be found on-line at]


Edersheim, Alfred (1972), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).

Browne, Lewis (1933), Stranger than Fiction (New York: Macmillan).

Douglas, J.D., ed. (1991), New 20th-Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Grand Rapids: Baker).

“The Talmud” (2003), Jewish Virtual Library [On-line], URL:

Telushkin, Joseph (1991), Talmud/Mishna/Gemara [Reprinted at Jewish Virtual Library], [On-line], URL:

M’Clintock, John and James Strong (1970), Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids: Baker).

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August 16, 2014

Our Lord is great, vast in power

Filed under: Bible,Theology,Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 12:00 pm

For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. Romans 1:20

As we look at the world around and we observe the wonders such as the Grand Canyon, we are faced with the question, “how did all this come into being”? Is the secular materialism worldview, (stuff created itself), or the theistic worldview (somebody created the stuff ) the most believable explanation.

According to the Universal Law of Cause and Effect, everything that exists in the material world must have a cause, the cause cannot be part of the effect, and the cause must be greater than the effect. Christians would propose that God best fits the description of the Cause of the universe and the world around us.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Heb 11:1

Things sucplatoh as the Grand Canyon, the incredibly complex information in DNA, and the supernatural structure of the bible are evidences that God has left for us. If we use our intellect properly, we must come to the conclusion that God is the uncaused infinitely powerful Cause of Creation.

As Plato believed and taught, “Follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

I would suggest this week we take a look at the evidence.


Oh, Lord God! You Yourself made the heavens and earth by Your great power and with Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You!  Jeremiah 32:17

5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, because the Lord will do wonders among you tomorrow.” 6 Then he said to the priests,“Take the ark of the covenant and go on ahead of the people.” So they carried the ark of the covenant and went ahead of them. 7 The Lord spoke to Joshua: “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so they will know that I will be with you just as I was with Moses. 8 Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant: When you reach the edge of the waters, stand in the Jordan.” 9 Then Joshua told the Israelites, “Come closer and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 He said: “You will know that the living God is among you and that He will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites 11 when the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth goes ahead of you into the Jordan. 12 Now choose 12 men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13 When the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, come to rest in the israelites crossing jordan river - Joshua.ashxJordan’s waters, its waters will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up ⌊in⌋ a mass.” 14 When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant ahead of the people. 15 Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge 16 and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up ⌊in⌋ a mass that extended as far as Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho.17 The priests carrying the ark of the Lord’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan. Josh 3:5-17

1. Consecrate yourselves.

Compare the Lord’s instructions through Moses at Mount Sinai. Sanctifying, or “separating,” oneself included washing one’s clothes and temporarily abstaining from sexual relations. ESV

The people’s self-consecration consisted of their turning their hearts to God and getting their attitudes and actions right with Him.

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea  and saying,“Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” Matt 3:1-2

God had previously promised to do wonders when they would enter the land. Undoubtedly the people had been looking forward to seeing these miracles in view of what their parents had told them and what some of them remembered about the plagues in Egypt. CN

2. The Ark of the Covenant

Within the Holy of Holies, shielded from the eye of the common man, was one piece of furniture comprising two parts: the Ark of the Covenant and the atonement cover (or “mercy seat”) on top of it. The ark was a chest made of acacia wood, overlaid with pure gold inside and out. It was 3 feet, 9 inches long and 2 feet, 3 inches wide and high. God commanded Moses to put in the ark three items: a golden pot of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the two stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. We will discuss these three objects in further detail below.

The atonements dwelling place in the tabernacle. It was His throne, flanked by angels.

The Ark with a metaphor for Christ. Made of wood, representing humanity, and covered with gold representing God. The blood spread on the mercy seat, representing the blood shed for us. The stone tablets inside the chest showing that Christ fulfilled the law, and the staff that budded from a dead piece of wood representing eternal life in Christ.

3. Exalt you in the eyes of Israel

Earlier as Moses second in command Joshua had achieved a level of authority, but a higher token of the divine favor was now to be publicly bestowed on him, and evidence given in the same unmistakable manner that his mission and authority were from God as was that of Moses —JFB

It was important that God show that Joshua was the new commander of Israel and that they follow Joshua as they did Moses.

4. You will know.

It was very crucial, because of the opposition they would soon be confronting in the Canaanites, that God was with them.

joshuaNo man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.Josh 1:5 (NASB)

It was vital that the people understood this.

5. 12 Men

Probably one man from each of the 12 tribes. All would be witnesses to their tribes of the miracle that was about to happen.

6. Water’s will be cut off.

Evidently the pushing back of the waters of the Jordan was to be a sign to the Israelites that God would push back the Canaanites. The title “the Lord of all the earth” occurs here first in Scripture indicating Yahweh’s absolute sovereignty over this planet. Because He was “the Lord of all the earth” He could give Canaan to the Israelites.

The Israelites crossed the Jordan when the river was at its widest, deepest, and swiftest, in late April or early May. As the snow on Mt. Hermon melts and the rainy season ends, the Jordan rises to a depth of 10-12 feet and floods to a width of 300-360 feet at this point today. Normally it is only 150-180 feet wide here The town of Adam stood about 18 miles north of Jericho near where the Jabbok River empties into the Jordan Valley. CN

To understand the scene described we must imagine the band of priests with the ark on their shoulders, standing on the depressed edge of the river, while the mass of the people were at a mile’s distance. Suddenly the whole bed of the river was dried up; a spectacle the more extraordinary in that it took place in the time of harvest, corresponding to our April or May — when “the Jordan overfloweth all its banks.” The original words may be more properly rendered “fills all its banks.” Its channel, snow-fed from Lebanon, was at its greatest height — brimful; a translation which gives the only true description of the state of Jordan in harvest as observed by modern travelers. The river about Jericho is, in ordinary appearance, about fifty or sixty yards in breadth. But as seen in harvest, it is twice as broad; and in ancient times, when the hills on the right and left were much more drenched with rain and snow than since the forests have disappeared, the river must, from a greater accession of water, have been broader still than at harvest-time in the present day.—JFB

7. Their feet touched the water at its edge.

Notice they stepped first and then the water receded, they did not wait for the water to stop and then step into the river bed. Many times we wait for God to clear out all opposition, before we move ahead, when God is telling us to go now and He will make a way.

The obstacle is the path.  ~Zen Proverb

8. Stood firmly on dry ground

It’s important for us to understand that they were standing on dry land. This makes it perfectly clear that God performed a supernatural event. If this were just some weird coincident of nature they would be sloshing around in several inches of mud.

From a spiritual perspective we have to know what we believe, know why we believe it and always be prepared to defend our faith.

Watch, standfast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 1 Cor 16:13

Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 1 Peter 3:15

I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. Jude 1:3

After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua: 2 “Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, 3 and command them: Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.” Josh 4:1-3

9. 12 Stones

The purposes of the memorial stones were the same as the purposes of the miracle at the Red Sea. They joshua_4manifested the power of Yahweh to all people, and they caused God’s people to fear Him. “Fear the Lord” is the most common expression calling for faith in God in the Old Testament.

The word “remember” is used 830 times in the bible. I wonder why?

We forget and our children grow up ignorant of the supernatural workings of God.

20 Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan, 21 and he said to the Israelites,“In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ 22 you should tell your children,‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. 24 This is so that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God.” Josh 4:19-24

10. Your children

It is a good custom to memorialize God’s great acts for us so that we will remember them and so that our children will learn that God is powerful and faithful. Baptism is one such memorial for the Christian, and the Lord’s Supper is another.

“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

11. All the people of the earth may know.

We have a responsibility to explain to the unsaved world who God is and what He has provided for them, both now and in the future.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Cor 2:9 (ESV)

ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes

MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study   Notes

NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes.

JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee’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.

EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures

CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary

SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary

K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT

EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary

CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College

GC……………………Guzik Commentary

RD…………………..Robert  Deffinbaugh

NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible

MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary

CSTTB………Chuck Smith Through The Bible

LESB…………….Life Essentials Study Bible.


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August 14, 2014

Hebrews Chapter 5

Filed under: Bible,Hebrews,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 6:21 pm

1  For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.
1. What was the purpose of the priest and how does that differ from a prophet?
high-priest.jpgThis verse gives us the definition of a priest. He must be taken from among men, which means he must be a man. He must be a representative, you see. He represents man, but he represents man to God. He is ordained for man in things pertaining to God. Because he goes before God, he must be acceptable to God. That is the suggestion in “is ordained for men in things … to God.” In verse 4 we are told specifically that no man takes this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. He must be ordained of God. Therefore a priest is: (1) taken from among men; (2) ordained for men (on behalf of men); and (3) goes to God for men.
We can now draw a distinction between a priest and a prophet. A priest goes from man to God; he represents man before God. A prophet comes from God to man with a message from God. Therefore the Old Testament priest did not tell men what God had to say—that was the ministry of the prophet. The priest’s ministry was to represent man before God. “That he may offer both gifts and sacrifices.” Notice that the priest may offer both gifts and sacrifices. JVM  
To qualify for the high priesthood in Israel one had to be a man. He also had to stand between God and people as their representative before Him. His services included presenting gifts (offerings) of worship and sacrifices for sin.
“Although it would be natural to distinguish between dora, ‘gifts’ (i.e., peace and cereal offerings), and thysiai, ‘sacrifices’ (i.e., the sin and trespass offerings), in later statements in the OT all sacrifices pertain to the procuring of atonement and the removal of sin (cf. Ezek 45:15-17). The bloody offerings for the Day of Atonement are in the foreground of the discussion of the sacrificial ministry of the Levitical high priest here and elsewhere in Hebrews. CN
2  He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. 3  Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.
2. Why is it vital for the priest to have compassion for and identity with the weaknesses of those he represents before God.
have compassion on This verb occurs only here in the NT. It carries the idea of maintaining a controlled but gentle attitude in the treatment of those who are spiritually ignorant and wayward. Impatience, loathing, and indignation have no part in priestly ministry. Such moderation and gentleness comes from realizing one’s own human frailty. The priest would be reminded of his own sinful humanity every time he offered sacrifices for his own sins (v. 3). MSBN
The word μετριοπαθειν, here used, signifies to feel compassion in proportion to the misery of others. The apostle’s words imply that a high-priest, who is not touched with a feeling of the weaknesses and miseries of others, is unfit to officiate for them, because he will be apt to neglect them in his ministrations, or be thought by the people in danger of so doing. On the ignorant — Who, not being properly instructed in divine things, are involved in error with respect to them; and on them that are out of the way — Of truth and duty, of wisdom, holiness, and happiness; or who, through their ignorance or any other cause, fall into sin: so that all sins and sinners are here comprehended. For that he himself is compassed with infirmity — So that under a consciousness thereof, he will officiate for them with the greater kindness and assiduity, knowing that he needs the compassion which he shows to others. And by reason hereof — Because he himself is a sinner; he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, (see the margin,) to offer for sins — That, being pardoned himself, and in a state of reconciliation and peace with God, he may offer for others with more acceptance. We are not to infer from this that Christ had any sins of his own to offer for, or that he offered any sacrifice for himself, it being repeatedly affirmed by the apostles that he was absolutely free from all sin. BC
4  And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. 5  So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.”
3. How did one become a High Priest?
moses-gives-aaron-the-priesthood-full.jpgAaron, the first high priest, was called of God to this office. He did not seek it nor did he merit it. He was appointed by God. The fate of those who sought to serve in this office apart from God’s appointing is sufficiently illustrated by Korah  WBC
Numbers 16:31-33 (NKJV)
31  Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, 32  and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. 33  So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.
Finally, a man could attain the high priesthood only by divine appointment.
“The essential nature of a high priest is that he should be chosen by God to act for his fellows in offering sacrifices related to the removal of sin.”
Only those whom God chose served in this office. These people were primarily Aaron and his successors. This ceased to be true after Israel lost her sovereignty as a nation, beginning with the Babylonian captivity. Then the high priesthood became a political appointment. However the writer was speaking of Israel as a sovereign nation. Disaster befell those individuals who took it upon themselves to perform high priestly duties without divine authorization (Korah, Num. 16; Saul, 1 Sam. 13:8-14; Uzziah, 2 Chron. 26:16-21). The writer stressed the essential humility of the high priest who stood in his privileged position only by divine appointment. He was not stressing the dignity of his office or the grandeur of his call to his office. CN
And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was: Of course, the High Priest was taken from the community of God’s people; but was not chosen by God’s people, but appointed by God for His people.  But it was important to state that no man takes this honor to himself.  The office of high priest was nothing to aspire to or campaign for.  It was given by right of birth, it was chosen by God.  It was an honor no man could take to himself.
Nadab-and-Abihu.jpgi. The true priesthood, and the high priest, came from a specific line of descent.  Every priest came from Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, whose name was changed to Israel.  Every priest came from Levi, one of Israel’s thirteen sons.  God set the tribe of Levi apart as a tribe committed to His service and as representatives of the whole nation (Exo_13:2; Num_3:40-41).  Gershon, Kohath and Merari were Levi’s three sons; each of these family lines had their own duties.  The family of Gershon had care of the tabernacle’s screen (veil), fence, and curtains (Num_3:25-26).  The family of Kohath will this family had care of the tabernacle’s furnishings, such as the lampstand, altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant (Num_3:31-32).  The family of Merari had care of the boards and pillars of the tabernacle and the fence (Num_3:36-37).  These families were not properly priests, though they were Levites.  The priesthood itself came through Aaron, the brother of Moses, of the family of Kohath.  Aaron’s family and their descendants made up the priests and the high priest, those able to serve in the tabernacle itself and to offer sacrifice to God.  The high priest was generally the eldest son of Aaron, except if they disqualified themselves like Nadab and Abihu (Lev_10:1-3) or according to the regulations of Leviticus 21.  In this sense, the priesthood was not popularly elected, but chosen by God, not appointed by man.
ii. There are some dreadful instances where men presumed to act as priests who were not priests, such as Korah (Numbers 16), Saul (1 Samuel 13) and Uzziah (2Ch_26:16).
iii. We can also not take the honor of being our own priest.  It is great arrogance to think we can approach God on our own, without a priest; but it is great superstition to think we need any other priest other than Jesus Christ Himself.  God has provided a mediator, a priest, and we must avail ourselves of the priest God has provided.
iv. “A sinner can undertake to manage nothing towards God immediately, or by himself, but with a mediating priest, who must know God’s mind and perform it . . . The common sense of mankind about it since the fall doth evidence it; no nation being without a religion, a temple, a place of worship, or a priest.” (Poole) GC
6  As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”; 7  who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8  though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
melchizedek4. What is the Order of Melchizedek?
Question: Genesis 14: 18-20 talks of “Melchizedek king of Salem – a priest for God most High”.  In Hebrews Jesus is called our high priest after the “order of Melchizedek”.  But where did Melchizedek come from (other than Salem) and where did he go?  
He didn’t come from the priestly tribe of Levi as it did not exist at the time of Abraham.  
For some the identity of Melchizedek is fodder for all kinds of speculation and mystery. Was Melchizedek a real flesh and blood historical person, an angelic messenger, a visit from the  pre-incarnate Christ (Christophany) (1),  or possibly something else. Some have theorized that he was in fact Shem, one of Noah’s 3 sons who lived until the time of Abram. Hebrew tradition tells us it was Shem, Noah’s Son that was still alive at the time of Abraham and would certainly make him be the oldest man alive qualifying him as a candidate for the order of Melchizedek.(2) Rev. Wayne Jackson argues the grammar of the various verses referring to Melchizedek preclude him being the pre-incarnate Christ (3).
The mystery of Melchizedek has been used by cults like the Mormons to justify their strange unbiblical form of priesthood. The Roman Catholics have used poor Melchizedek to justify their office of priest and as foundational to their view of the Eucharist. New age cults and weird groups interested in spiritual growth and enlightenment try to validate themselves by Melchizedek. We have people all over the internet claiming they are reincarnate Melchizedeks or operating within his priesthood.
timthumb (1)I think it is important to stick to what the bible actually say about this man and leave the speculation to the people who sit up at night wearing tin foil hats waiting for the next message from extraterrestrial  aliens.
Genesis 14:18-20 (KJV)   And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19  And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20  And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Psalm 110:4 (KJV)  The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Lets look at what some commentators say about Melchizedek
14:18 Melchizedek king of Salem. The lack of biographical and genealogical particulars for this ruler, whose name meant “righteous king” and who was a king-priest over ancient Jerusalem, allowed for later revelation to use him as a type of Christ (cf. Ps 110:4; Heb 7:17, 21). His superior status in Abram’s day is witnessed 1) by the king of Sodom, the first to meet Abram returning in victory, deferring to Melchizedek before continuing with his request (vv. 17, 21) and 2) by Abram, without demur, both accepting a blessing from and also giving a tithe to this priest-king (vv. 19, 20). Cf. Heb 7:1, 2. priest of God Most High. The use of El Elyon (Sovereign Lord) for God’s name indicated that Melchizedek, who used this title two times (vv. 18, 19), worshiped, served, and represented no Canaanite deity, but the same one whom Abram also called Yahweh El Elyon (v. 22). That this was so is confirmed by the added description, “Possessor of heaven and earth,” being used by both Abram and Melchizedek (vv. 19, 22). MacArthur, John: MacArthur Study Bible NASB.
14:18 Melchizedek means “My King Is Righteous.” Melchizedek was a contemporary of Abram who worshiped the living God. king of Salem: Salem is an older, shorter name for Jerusalem. The word is based on the root from which we get the word shalom, “peace.” bread and wine: While these were staples of everyday life in ancient times, their use here had a different purpose—to celebrate God’s deliverance of Abram and his troops. the priest of God Most High: The term for God used here expresses God’s power over the nations. The great surprise about Melchizedek is that he appears from nowhere, without mention of parents or background, without any introduction of ties to the Lord. This mysterious quality of Melchizedek allows the writer of Hebrews to compare him with another priest, the Lord Jesus Christ (see Heb. 5–9; see also Ps. 110:4).
14:19 And he blessed him: Melchizedek is the first to bless Abram; thus he comes under the special provision of God’s promise of blessing (see 12:3). Blessed be Abram: The words of the blessing are in two lines of poetry, making them more memorable as well as adding a sense of power and effectiveness. The phrase, God Most High is used in both lines of the blessing, for special emphasis. Possessor may also mean “Creator” (see Prov. 8:22).
14:20 blessed be God Most High: When we bless God, we acknowledge Him as the source of all our blessings (see Ps. 103:1, 2). Melchizedek declared the true nature of Abram’s victory—God delivered him. Here is the first mention of the tithe in the Bible (see Deut. 14:22). Abram’s gift indicates that he considered Melchizedek a true priest of the living God; in giving this gift Abram was giving to the Lord.
14:21 Abram seems to have ignored the king of Sodom (see v. 17) until he had worshiped with the king of Salem. Now he hears the demands of this king, who asked for his people but not for his goods. Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: The Nelson Study Bible
Melchizedek (which means “king of righteousness”; see Heb. 7:2) generously provides a meal for the returning victors. Salem is possibly a shortened version of “Jerusalem” (see Ps. 76:2) and is related to shalom, the Hebrew word for “peace” (see Heb. 7:2). He was priest of God Most High. Although very little is known about Melchizedek, he provides an interesting example of a priest-king linked to Jerusalem. There appears to have been an expectation that later kings of Jerusalem should resemble him (see Ps. 110:4). The book of Hebrews presents Jesus Christ, from the royal line of David, as belonging to the “order of Melchizedek” and therefore superior to the Levitical priests (Heb. 5:5–10; 6:20–7:17). “God Most High” in Hebrew is ’El ‘Elyon. ’El is the common Semitic term for “God.” To this is added the attribute ‘Elyon, meaning “Most High.” Elsewhere in Genesis other attributes are added to ’El (e.g., in Gen. 16:13 “God of seeing” translates ’El Ro’i; in 17:1 “God Almighty” translates ’El Shadday; in 21:33 “Everlasting God” translates ’El ‘Olam). These different names highlight different aspects of God’s nature.
Gen. 14:19–20 Melchizedek’s blessing attributes Abram’s victory to the power of God. By giving Melchizedek a tenth of everything (i.e., a tithe), Abram affirms the truthfulness of Melchizedek’s words. Possessor of heaven and earth. Although God has created the whole earth to be his temple, Genesis reveals that God’s ownership of the earth is rejected by those who do not obey him. In light of this, Melchizedek’s acknowledgment of God’s authority over the earth is noteworthy.
Gen. 14:21 In marked contrast to Melchizedek’s blessing, the king of Sodom’s remarks are surly and small-minded: he expresses no gratitude. He “dishonors” Abram, and this is ominous in the light of 12:3 (“I will curse”). ESV Study Bible Notes
“Melchizedek” was probably a title rather than a proper name. It means “King of Righteousness.” Compare Adonizedek (“Lord of Righteousness”) in Josh. 10:1, 3. However theophoric names were common in the ancient Near East, so his name may have meant “My king is Sedeq” or “Milku is righteous,” Sedeq and Milku presumably being the names of gods., p. 316.
The names of both the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 2) are compounds of a Hebrew word translated “evil” (cf. 13:13).
bread and wine.jpgBread and wine were the royal food and drink of the day. Many writers have commented on their typical significance, though there is no basis for connecting them directly with the elements used in the Lord’s Supper. Many ancient Near Easterners used bread and wine in making covenants. Melchizedek, the first priest mentioned in the Bible, evidently gave a royal banquet in Abram’s honor. In view of their characters and geographical proximity, Abram and Melchizedek may have been friends before this meeting. Melchizedek may have been Abram’s king to whom the patriarch was paying an expected obligation.
14:19 The God Melchizedek worshipped as a priest was the true God known to him as El Elyon, the possessor of heaven and earth. This title reveals the sovereign power of God. Melchizedek and Abram regarded Abram’s recent victory in battle as due to the blessing of El Elyon.
14:20 People practiced tithing as an act of worship commonly in the ancient Near East at this time (cf. 28:22). It was also a common tax. This is still true in some modern countries. For example, in England part of every person’s taxes goes to maintain the Church of England. Some residents regard this part of their tax as their contribution to the church or their tithe. However since Melchizedek gave Abram a priestly blessing, it is likely that Abram reciprocated by giving Melchizedek a gift with priestly connotations.  Dr. Thomas L. Constable
So what do we really know about Melchizedek ? I think Rev. James Admiraal summarizes all we know and makes it clear that we must not go further than scriptures allows.
Melchizedek: A Type of Christ
by Rev. James Admiraal

He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
—Hebrews 6:20
When you scan the world scene, it is interesting to note how different people rise to prominence, make their mark, and then disappear again from view. Some rise to renown gradually, like stars in the evening sky, which grow brighter and brighter as the darkness gradually overtakes the light. However, there are also persons who appear on the scene more like comets, which appear out of nowhere, streak brilliantly through the sky, and then disappear from view, never to be seen again.
There is a biblical person who reminds us of such a comet—suddenly appearing on the scene of the Old Testament world, and just as suddenly disappearing again. His name was Melchizedek, a man who must rank as one of the most mysterious of all Bible characters.
In fact, his life and deeds do not figure much in biblical history. Rather, he is significant for only one main reason: he was a type of another man, who is, without question, the most significant person in the Bible and all history—yes, who is the greatest person in the universe, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Melchizedek and Abram
Melchizedek is mentioned in three places in the Bible—in Genesis 14, Psalm 110, and in Hebrews 5, 6, and 7.
The first reference to Melchizedek, in Genesis 14, is set in the time of Abram. Abram had just rescued his nephew Lot, who had been captured by a coalition army of four kings led by Kedorlaomer, who had invaded Canaan. Lot and his family had moved near the city of Sodom. The foreign coalition had defeated the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and their allies, and in the process Lot and his family were seized and carried off as captives.
This led Abram to gather a force of his own servants, who chased the army of Kedorlaomer and was able, with the help of God, to rout them and rescue his nephew Lot.
It was on the way back from this victory that Abram was met by two kings. One was the king of Sodom, who was obviously elated that Abram had defeated the army of Kedorlaomer. He wanted to thank Abram by offering him the spoils of Sodom which Abram had recaptured. It is important to note that Abram refused to take (or keep) anything for himself from this evil king. He wanted no one to think that he had gained his riches from the king of Sodom but instead wanted to give all glory to God for his success and riches.
However, at the same time, Abram was met by another king, whose name was Melchizedek.
Genesis 14:18–20 says: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying: ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’ Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
This reference to Melchizedek, though brief, provides some very significant information about him.
One is simply that Melchizedek was an actual, historical person. Because of his uniqueness, and the statement about him in Hebrews 7:3 that he was “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end life,” some Bible students think that Melchizedek was perhaps an angel appearing in human form. Others have suggested that perhaps he was Christ, in a pre-incarnate human form. But Melchizedek is clearly identified as an earthly king. He is called “king of Salem.” Salem was the original name for the city later called “Jerusalem.” Salem is a name meaning “peace.” Hence, Melchizedek ruled over what later became the capital of Israel and its central place of worship.
Also important to note is the meaning of his name. Melchizedek is a combination of two Hebrew words which together mean: “king of righteousness.”
However, Melchizedek was not only a king, but Genesis 14:18 also states, “He was priest of God Most High.” So, he also held the office of priest. This was not uncommon among kings at this time in history. That he was the priest of “God Most High,” suggests he had some knowledge of the true God, later identified by Abram as “the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (vs. 22).
So, who was Melchizedek? He was not a pagan Canaanite king. Neither was he from the godly line of Abraham, who was to be the father of God’s Old Testament people, the Jews. He was indeed a unique individual—a king-priest who suddenly appears on the pages of Scripture, who was used by God to bless Abram, and would serve as a type of the Messianic king-priest to come.
Hence, what is also important to note is what Melchizedek did when he met Abram and how Abram responded to this king. The Genesis account says that Melchizedek blessed Abram, saying: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
And what was Abram’s response? We read: “Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Abram somehow understood that he owed Melchizedek this gift from the spoils he had taken, an act that was later to have special symbolic significance, according to Hebrews.
From the above, we come to see that even though the reference to Melchizedek in Genesis 14 is very brief, it contains some crucial facts and truths.
Melchizedek in Psalm 110
After Genesis 14, we do not read of Melchizedek again for a thousand years. The next reference to him in Scripture is found in Psalm 110, a Psalm of David. This Psalm is one of the most-quoted Psalms in the New Testament. The reason it is quoted so frequently is because it speaks prophetically of the Messiah to come, Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus Himself quoted this Psalm to show that the Messiah as David’s Son was at the same time David’s Lord, that is, one much greater than David—a divine Messiah.
Psalm 110 speaks clearly of the ascension of Christ, as well as His sitting at God’s right hand and reigning in power over His enemies. The Messiah is the almighty King.
But the Psalm also speaks of Him as a priest. And in doing so, David, inspired by the Spirit, mentions Melchizedek. He writes in Psalm 110:4, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.’”
Suddenly, we have a reference here to an “order of Melchizedek,” that is, a priestly line that is not descended from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron. It is the line or order to which the coming Messiah would belong.
Melchizedek as a Type of Christ
The book of Hebrews is the last to refer to Melchizedek. Hebrews is a book that points to Christ as the exalted King-Priest. It shows Him as the one who has fulfilled the priestly functions and the tabernacle and temple ceremonies of the Old Testament.
Therefore, in Hebrews 5, 6, and 7, the author of Hebrews makes a special point of showing how Jesus Christ is the superior High Priest, far greater than all the priests and high-priests of the old dispensation. One way in which these chapters extol Christ is by referring to Melchizedek and what is said about him both in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110. Indeed, in each of these chapters, it is mentioned that Christ, God’s Son, is “a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
How was Christ like Melchizedek, or how was Melchizedek a type of Christ? Several truths are brought out in Hebrews.
First, Jesus Christ was both a king and a priest—as Melchizedek was. Christ, in fact, even held a third office, that of prophet.
Second, the meaning of the name Melchizedek (king of righteousness) applies perfectly to Christ and to Him alone. Melchizedek as a human being was far from righteous in himself. But as Scripture repeatedly emphasizes, our Savior is the perfectly righteous King who is just and true in all His being and reign.
Third, as king of Salem, Melchizedek bore a title meaning “king of peace.” He pointed ahead to that Prince of Peace, who has brought true and lasting peace on earth—the peace of reconciliation between sinners and God.
Fourth, Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God. We do not know exactly how he functioned in that capacity. But we do know that the ultimate priest of the Most High God was His own divine Son, whom God sent into the world to offer the final, perfect sacrifice for sin by His death.
Fifth, Christ is an eternal priest who lives forever. Hebrews 7:3 makes the puzzling statement about Melchizedek that he was “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life.” This must not be understood literally. As noted above, Melchizedek was not an angelic or divine being. He was a human being who had a beginning and ending to his life. What the author of Hebrews means is that there is no record of Melchizedek’s parents or genealogy, or even his birth and death. He appears and disappears like a comet on the pages of Scripture. He seems like an eternal figure.
But Christ, of whose human life we do have a record in Scripture and of whom we know his parents and genealogy and his birth and death, is the truly eternal High Priest. He was from eternity, and He lives forever as our High Priest and Intercessor with the Father.
Sixth, we should also note how Christ as “a priest in the order of Melchizedek” is superior to all the priests who served God’s people in the Old Testament. Those priests all came from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron. Before that, they were also descendants of Abraham.
In Hebrews 7, the author makes the argument that, when Abram offered tithes to Melchizedek, he indicated thereby that Melchizedek was greater than he. And so, all the priests of the Old Testament who were descended from Abraham are far lower than He who is the priest “in the order of Melchizedek.”
Christ is the great High Priest. He is the King to whom all must pay tribute. He is the One before whom every knee must bow. He alone is worthy to receive our gifts and our service. Indeed, He owns all of our lives.
And in turn, those who believe in and belong to this King-Priest will receive His blessing. As Melchizedek pronounced blessing on Abram, so all who belong to God’s redeemed, covenant people will receive the blessing of the great King and High Priest, Jesus Christ, of whom Melchizedek was only a type. (4)
5. Vehement cries and tears?
When He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears:
The agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gesthemane (Mat_26:36-39, Luk_22:44) proves He knows what it is like to struggle with the difficulty of obedience, yet He obeyed perfectly.
JesusInGethsemane.jpega. This answers the question, “How can this glorious, enthroned Jesus know what I am going through down here?”  He knows; obedience did not always come easy for Jesus.
b. The word for supplications is hiketeria.  This ancient Greek word essentially means “an olive branch wrapped in wool,” because that is was someone in Greek culture would hold and wave to express their desperate prayer and desire.  Significantly, this supplication of Jesus took place in a garden of olives – and he supplied the “wool,” being the Lamb of God!
c. And was heard because of His godly fear: If Jesus asked that the cup be taken away from Him (Luk_22:42), and the cup was not taken away, how can it be said that He was heard?  Because His prayer was not to escape His Father’s will, but to accept it – and that prayer was definitely heard.
d. He learned obedience by the things which He suffered: How could Jesus (who never stopped being God) learn anything?  Then again, how does God, enthroned in heaven experience obedience, except by casting off the glory of the throne and humbling Himself as Jesus did?
i. Jesus did not pass from disobedience to obedience.  He learned obedience by actually obeying.  Jesus did not learn how to obey; He learned what is involved in obedience.
e. He learned obedience by things which He suffered: Suffering was used to teach Jesus.  If suffering was fit to teach the Son of God, we must never despise it as a tool of instruction in our lives. GC
9  And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10  called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” 11  of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
6. Why was it vital that Jesus live a perfect life?
During his childhood, Jesus was not lacking in any godly character quality, but he was lacking in the full experience of having lived a perfect human life, obeying the Father in everything, without sin. The lifelong perfect obedience of Jesus provides the basis for eternal salvation and for the ultimate “perfection” of those who respond in faith and obedience. order of Melchizedek.  ESVN
Christ did not need to suffer in order to conquer or correct any disobedience. In His deity (as the Son of God), He understood obedience completely. As the incarnate Lord, He humbled Himself to learn. He learned obedience for the same reasons He bore temptation: to confirm His humanity and experience its sufferings to the fullest. Christ’s obedience was also necessary so that He could fulfill all righteousness (Mt 3:13-15) and thus prove to be the perfect sacrifice to take the place of sinners (1Pe 3:18). He was the perfectly righteous One, whose righteousness would be imputed to sinners (cf. Ro 3:24–26). MSBN
Matthew 3:13-15 (NKJV)
13  Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14  And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15  But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
1 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)
18  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
Romans 3:24-26 (NKJV)
jesus dies.jpg
24  being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25  whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26  to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
7. Why is there such difficulty explaining the atonement?
The vicarious sacrificial death on the cross to pay the sin debt of all who would believe is so profound and of such depth of consequence that it requires spiritual maturity to even get a glimpse of its magnitude. A lifetime of  study, teaching and Christian experience cannot grasp the concept of the Creator God of the Universe becoming a human and allowing himself to be mocked and nailed to a cross by evil men as the propitiation for their sins.
12  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  
8. Why such a stern rebuke?
Ear trouble, today, is the big problem of believers. Christ as a priest after the order of Melchizedek is a difficult subject, and the writer is going to deal with it forthrightly. To understand the subject requires sharp spiritual perception. It requires folk to be spiritually alert and to have a knowledge of the Word of God and to be close to it. The Hebrew believers who are being addressed here had a low SQ, not an IQ, but an SQ—spiritual quotient. It was hard to teach them because it was difficult to make them understand. They were babies, as many of the saints are today, and they want baby talk even from the preacher. They don’t want to hear anything that is difficult to understand. This is the reason some preachers are getting by with murder in the pulpit—they murder the Word of God. They absolutely kill it and substitute something from their own viewpoint, and the congregations like that kind of baby talk.
“Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God.” Some of them want a D.D. degree, but they don’t even know their ABCs. “First principles” is from the Greek word stoicheion (from which we get our English word atom, by the way), meaning “primary elements”—the ABCs of the Christian life. They ought to be teachers and mature saints, but instead they are still little babies needing someone to burp them.
To these Hebrew believers the writer says, “You are such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. You are not of age; you are not full grown; you haven’t reached maturation.” Now a baby cannot eat meat, but an adult can enjoy milk. I will admit that a lot of saints today sit and listen to baby talk from the pulpit. It is tragic indeed that they have to endure this, but they do. JVM
The Hebrews’ spiritual lethargy and slow response to gospel teaching prevented additional teaching at this time. This is a reminder that failure to appropriate the truth of the gospel produces stagnation in spiritual advancement and the inability to understand or assimilate additional teaching (cf. Jn 16:12). Such a situation exists also among the Gentiles who have received revelatory truth (natural or general revelation) from God in the creation (Ro 1:18–20). Rejection of that revelation results in a process of hardening (Ro 1:21–32). The Hebrews had not only received the same general revelation, they had also received special revelation consisting of the OT Scriptures (Ro 9:4), the Messiah Himself (Ro 9:5), and the teaching of the apostles (2:3, 4). Until the Hebrews obeyed the revelation they had received and obtained eternal salvation (v. 8), additional teaching about the Messiah’s Melchizedekan priesthood would be of no profit to them.
9. Yeah but don’t teachers have to go to seminary and be college educated?
Every believer is to be a teacher. If these Hebrews had really obeyed the gospel of Christ, they would have been passing that message on to others. The Jews were instructed in the law and prided themselves because they taught the law, but they had not really understood or appropriated its truths to themselves.

Every Christian becomes capable of instructing others when he or she learns the elementary truths of the faith. This is true whether one has the gift of teaching (i.e., the ability to communicate with unusual clarity and effectiveness) or not. However when we fail to pass on what we know we begin to lose what we know. Eventually we may need to relearn the most basic teachings of Scripture. When we stop growing, we start shrinking. We do not just stay the same.
“Christians who have really progressed in the faith ought to be able to instruct ”CN
You ought to be able to instruct others. He does not mean to say, evidently, that they ought all to become public teachers, or preachers of the gospel, but that they ought to be able to explain to others the truths of the Christian religion. As parents, they ought to be able to explain them to their children; as neighbours, to their neighbours; or as friends, to those who were inquiring the way to life. BN



5:12, 13 milk. Knowledge without obedience does not advance a person. In fact, by rejecting saving faith, the Hebrews were regressing in their understanding concerning the Messiah. They had long enough been exposed to the gospel to be teaching it to others, but were babies, too infantile and unskilled to comprehend, let alone teach, the truth of God. MSBN
A contrast between milk and solid food.
And you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
a. And you have come to need milk: Milk corresponds to the first principles of Heb_6:12.  Solid food is the “meatier” material such as understanding the connection between Jesus and Melchizedek.  It isn’t that milk is bad; but these Christians should have added solid food to their diet.  Peter reminds us all as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1Pe_2:2).
b. In the original language, the sense of for he is a babe is for he has become a babe.  There is nothing more delightful than a true babe in Jesus.  But there is nothing more irritating and depressing than someone who should be mature but who has become a babe!
i. Have you become a babe?  Perhaps your Christian life is unstable.  Babies are handed from one person to another; babes are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (Eph_4:14-16).
ii. Have you become a babe?  Perhaps you are divisive in your Christian life.  Babies each have their own crib that they stick to; babes have their particular denomination or church that they think of as “my church.”
iii. Have you become a babe?  Perhaps you are star-struck by Christian celebrities of one kind or another.  Babies are focused on one particular person (mommy); babes glory in men (I am of Paul, I am of Apollos).
iv. Have you become a babe?  Perhaps you are spiritually asleep.  Babies need a lot of sleep; babes spend much time spiritually asleep.
v. Have you become a babe?  Perhaps you are fussy and cranky with others.  Babies can be cranky; babes will fuss over any little thing.
c. Is unskilled in the word of righteousness: Those who have become babes reveal themselves because they are unskilled in the word of righteousness.  We don’t expect brand new Christians to be skilled in the word of righteousness, but those who have been Christians for a time should be.
d. Who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil: Our senses are exercised (trained by practice and habit) to discern both good and evil (doctrinally, not morally).  How are our senses exercised?  Plainly, by reason of use.  When we decide to use discernment, we mature.
i. These Christians demonstrated immaturity by both their lack of discernment between good and evil and in their contemplation of giving up with Jesus.  The mature Christian is marked by their discernment and by their unshakable commitment to Jesus Christ.
ii. The ability to discern is a critical measure of spiritual maturity.  Babies will put anything in their mouths!  Babes are weak in discernment, and will accept any kind of spiritual food.
e. Have their senses exercised: It can be said that all five human senses have their spiritual counterparts.
i. We have a spiritual sense of taste: If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious (1Pe_2:3).  Taste and see that the LORD is good! (Psa_34:8)
ii. We have a spiritual sense of hearing: Hear and your soul shall live (Isa_55:3).  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev_2:7).
iii. We have a spiritual sense of sight: Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law (Psa_119:18).  The eyes of your understanding (heart) being enlightened (Eph_1:18).
iv. We have a spiritual sense of smell: He shall be of quick scent in the fear of the LORD (Isa_11:3, RV margin).  I am full, having received from . . . you, a sweet-smelling aroma (Php_4:18).
v. We have a spiritual sense of touch or feeling: Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD (2Ki_22:19).  The hardening of their heart; who being past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness (Eph_4:18-19). GC
ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes
MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study   Notes
NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes.
JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee’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.
EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures
CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary
SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary
K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT
EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary
CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College
GC……………………Guzik Commentary
RD…………………..Robert  Deffinbaugh
NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible
MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary
CSTTB………………….Chuck Smith Through The Bible
LESB……………………Life Essentials Study Bible.
BC……………………..Benson’s Commentary
Rev. James Admiral is a retired pastor in the URCNA. He served most recently as pastor of Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI. He also served for several years on the board of Reformed Fellowship
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August 13, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 11:00 pm

See Why We choose Him

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! ………..

35 Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw whoJesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and noticed them following Him, He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are You staying?”39 “Come and you’ll see,” He replied. So they went and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day. It was about 10 in the morning. John 1: 29, 35-39

1. Who is Jesus?

a. He was a man who lived in Israel about 2000 years ago.

95 to 99% of sceptical and non-sceptical scholars do not doubt Jesus walked the earth. If you are going to deny the life of Jesus then you will have to throw out everyone in history, because Jesus is the most documented person in antiquity.

In “The Historical Jesus – Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (1996) by Gary R. Habermas, the leading scholar on the resurrection, we can summarize what the earliest sources have said (pages 225, 250-253). Tiberius Caesar who died four years after Jesus only has 9 sources of him whereas Jesus has 45 sources within 150 years of their deaths.

“We have examined 45 ancient sources for the life of Jesus, which includes 19 early creedal, four archaeological, 17 non-Christian, and five non-New Testament Christian sources. From this data we have enumerated 129 reported facts concerning the life, person, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus, plus the disciples’ earliest message.”

b. We have biblinerocal as well as secular references to his existence.

Reporting on Emperor Nero’s decision to blame the Christians for the fire that had destroyed Rome in A.D. 64, the Roman historian Tacitus wrote:

Nero fastened the guilt . . . on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome. . . .

““Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared” Josephus (37-101AD)

c. He was a religious leader. He was called Rabbi. He taught in the synagogue and the temple. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. John 8:2 (KJV)

d. He did not come to bring peace.  Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; Luke 12:51 (NASB)

Do not expect to advocate for Christ and not evoke opposition.

e. He claimed to be a King

And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. Mark 15:2 (KJV)

f. He claimed to be the messiah.  The woman *said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming ( He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 Jesus *said to her, ” I who speak to you am He. John 4:25-26 (NASB)
g. He is the 2nd person of the trinity.  I and my Father are one. John 10:30 (KJV)
h. He claimed to have existed before His birth in Judea.

 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” JohnI am 8:58 (NKJV)

 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. Ex 3:14 (KJV)

i. He claimed to have been in Heaven with the Father

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. John 17:5 (KJV)

j. He performed miracles.

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: John 11:43-44 (KJV)

k. He claimed to be God.

Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. 71 And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth. Luke 22:70-71 (KJV)

l. He was crucified on a Roman Cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world and rose from the dead on the third day.

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 1 Cor 15:3-8 (NASB)


k. His followers believed, at the cost of their lives, that He was who He said He was.

  • Matthew – killed by stabbing as ordered by King Hircanus
  • James, son of Alphaeous – crucified
  • James, brother of Jesus – thrown down from a height, stoned and then beaten to death at the hands of Ananias (circa AD 66)
  • John – tortured by boiling oil, exiled to Patmos in AD 95
  • Mark – burned during Roman emperor Trajan’s reign
  • Peter – crucified upside-down by the gardens of Nero on the Vatican hill circa AD 64
  • Andrew – crucified on an “X” shaped cross by Aegeas, governor of the Edessenes, around AD 80
  • Philip – stoned and crucified in Hierapolis, Phrygia
  • Simon – crucified in Egypt under Trajan’s reignlion
  • Thomas – death by spear thrust in Calamina, India
  • Thaddaeous – killed by arrows
  • James, son of Zebedee – killed by sword in AD 44 by order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea
  • Bartholomew – beaten, flayed alive, crucified upside down, then beheaded 11

2. How do we know the bible is reliable?

Manuscript Evidence for the New Testament:

          More than 24,000 partial and complete manuscript copies of the New Testament  exist, the oldest of which date to within 25 years of the writing of the last Book of the Bible. Those copies have an enviable record of agreement among themselves, having 40 disputed lines, as compared to 764 disputed lines in the 643 copies of the Iliad of Homer.      

There are also some 86,000 quotations from the early church fathers and several thousand Lectionaries (church-service books containing Scripture quotations used in the early centuries of Christianity). Bottom line: the New Testament has an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting its reliability.bible1

 Statistically, the New Testament is 99.5% textually pure. That means that there is only 1/2 of 1% of of all the copies that do not agree with each other perfectly.  But, if you take that 1/2 of 1% and examine it, you find that the majority of the “problems” are nothing more than spelling errors and very minor word alterations. For example, instead of saying Jesus, a variation might be “Jesus Christ.”  So the actual amount of textual variation of any concern is extremely low. Therefore, we can say that we have a remarkably accurate compilation of the original documents. 

 By far the most remarkable attestation for both the prophetic power and the accuracy of transmission of the Bible occurred in 1947, with the finding in Qumran of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those documents, which actually date as far back as 600 BC in some cases, agree word-for-word with modern Hebrew manuscripts with very few exceptions.

The writings of Plato, the earliest copies were written 1200 years after he lived and we have 7 copies. Yet nobody doubts that he existed.

3. The Jews understood the concept of “The Lamb of God”, but what does that mean in our culture.

 The head of the largest psychiatric hospital in the UK stated that 70% of all mental illness is caused from repressed guilt.
 Sigmund Freud can blame my mental dysfunction on my mother not showing me enough affection or how I hoarded my poops when I was a baby. Maybe freudit’s the fault of society that I become an axe murderer or video games or global warming or too much sugar. When you get right down to it, it’s me and we all know it. I am responsible for the evil that I do.

Every person has a conscience and we all know we stand guilty.

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. Romans 2:14-16 (NASB)

Movie star, billionaires, the rich the poor the famous and the unknown all are looking for a way of escaping their sin, whether they admit it or not.

Jesus declares us innocent; He can give us a “get out of jail free card”.  The few that find him get the greatest gift that can be imagined, a way to live a guilt free life and more.

4. What are you looking for? Isn’t that the big question?

People in our society are looking for the same things they did 2000 yrs. ago.

Purpose and meaning.

Security and safety.

Happiness and contentment.                 

World peace.

“Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings – always darker, emptier and simpeople-37497_640pler.”Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Things are entirely what they appear to be and behind them… there is nothing.  ~Jean Paul Sartre,   Basically he is saying “this is all there is, there ain’t no more.”

Richard Dawkins, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

Darwinist George Gaylord Simpson: “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.

Darwin himself wrote that, “At some future period, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.

Maybe if we murder everybody but the master race, we will be happy. Oh wait we already tried that. Never mind.

Alice came to a fork in the road.  “Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

The world doesn’t know where they want to go. They need to be pointed in the correct direction by those who know where they are going.

Converse; Don’t Boss

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Him. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which means “Anointed One”), 42 and he brought Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Rock”). 43 The next day He decided to leave for Galilee. Jesus found Philip and told him, “Follow Me!” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law (and so did the prophets ): Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth!” 46 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asked him. “Come and see,” Philip answered. John 1:40-46

5. What causes people to follow Jesus?

 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44 (NASB)

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 (NIV)

6. So if people reject the gospel, have you wasted your time?

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)

a. Sometimes what appears to be a rejection may not actually be so. Some people who initially reject the gospel begin to think about what they have heard and may eventually at a certain time will realize their need.

b. Sometimes it may take several different exposures to the truth before one can understand. How many times have we read the instructions and then have to re read them two more times before we get how that project is supposed to go together and what it is supposed to look like?

 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 1 Cor 3:6-7 (NLT)

c. In order for the justice of God to be manifested, and the guilty have no excuse, God has allowed all people to become exposed to the evidence of His existence and his revelation.

Creation For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20 (NIV)

The gospel is a two edged sword. It offers life to those who accept it, and it also gives judgment and death to those who reject it.

God sent prophet after prophet to the nation of Israel with warnings. 

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! Deut 30:19 (NLT)

Answer Questions

49 “Rabbi,” Nathanael replied, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus responded to him, “Do you believe only because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then He said, “I assure you: You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:49-51

7. One of the rules in salesmanship is “never spend the customer’s money for them”, never assume a customer will or will not buy your product. How would this apply to evangelism?

a. Everyone is a potential sale. Never assume somebody cannot turn to God.

Anthony Flew, one of the world’s most outspoken advocates of atheism, who had written many books attacking the belief in God. Shocks the world of atheism by writing his new book: “There Is a God: How the World’s Most dna 2Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind,” published in 2007, at the age of 81.  After studying new advances in DNA he realized that Darwinian evolution could never account for the complexity and information in the DNA code. It must come from an intelligent mind, it could not happen by random chance.

8. What is our responsibility in this presenting the truth of God to others?

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15 (KJV)

Have you done your homework? Have you made the time to come to bible studies? Have you memorized enough scriptures to be able to show a person who wants to know Christ, how to get there?

and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)


Are you in a position to give a coherent explanation as to what you believe and why you believe it? The unbelieving world is intelligent and prepared to make you look foolish if you expect to depend on the old standard witnessing techniques of the past.

The post modern worldview of this present generation has no Christian context, everything is relative, there are no moral absolutes and 2+2 can equal 5 if they feel like it should.

This worldview is logically bankrupt and provides no answers to life’s 3 great questions. Where did I come from, what is my purpose for being here, and what is going to happen to me? They are desperately searching and the hunger for spirituality is increasing. We just have to be ready to lead them to the truth.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 (KJV)

 ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes

MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study   Notes

NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes.

JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee’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.

EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures

CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary

SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary

K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT

EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary

CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College

GC……………………Guzik Commentary

RD…………………..Robert  Deffinbaugh

NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible

MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary

CSTTB………Chuck Smith Through The Bible

LESB…………….Life Essentials Study Bible.


 “Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107

The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

August 12, 2014

What’s not in the bible?

Filed under: Bible,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 8:00 pm

question ladyQuestion: “What are the most common things people think are in the Bible that are not actually in the Bible?”

Answer: In Psalm 119:16, David promises God, “I shall delight in Your statues; I shall not forget Your word.” In Deuteronomy 11:18-19, God exhorts the Israelites, “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” As believers, we know we are to study the Bible, memorize it, and obey it. But does the Bible say what we think it says? The truth is, there are several phrases that sound like they come from the Bible, but do not.

God helps those who help themselves.
The earliest recording of this saying is actually from Aesop’s fable “Hercules and the Waggoner.” A man’s wagon got stuck in a muddy road, and he prayed for Hercules to help. Hercules appeared and said, “Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel.” The moral given was “The gods help them that help themselves.” Aesop was a Greek writer who lived from 620 to 564 BC, but obviously did not contribute to the Bible. As a biblical truism, the proverb has mixed results. We can do nothing to help when it comes to salvation; salvation is through Christ alone. In the work of sanctification—becoming more spiritually mature—we are to join in the work. 1 Peter 1:14-15 says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.”

Cleanliness is next to godliness.
scrubDespite the strict rules given to the Israelites about uncleanness as a metaphor for sinfulness and ceremonial washing required by the priests (see: Exodus, Leviticus), this phrase is not in the Bible. It originated as an ancient Babylonian and Hebrew proverb, but became very popular during the Victorian era after being revived by Sir Francis Bacon and John Wesley. Is the proverb true beyond the metaphor? A new study shows that people are generally fairer and more generous when in a clean-smelling environment. But Jesus also exhorts us to worry more about the sin in our hearts than the dirt on our hands (Matthew 7:18-23).

In the last days, you will not be able to know the seasons except by the changing of the leaves.
Even a thorough Google search will not reveal the origin of this saying, but it is not found in the Bible. Matthew 24:32-33 uses the budding of leaves heralding the coming of summer as a metaphor for the signs that Christ will return. But nowhere does the Bible mention that seasons will be so altered that only the changing leaves will identify them.

Hate the sin, love the sinner.
Although this is a biblical-sounding admonition, it is not directly from the Bible. It’s a quote from Mahatma Gandhi. As a guideline, it’s valid. We are to hate sin—even our own. And we are to show love to all others. Gandhi’s quote is coming under fire in the world as more and more people define themselves by their sin and resent the guidelines God has given us in His Word.

Money is the root of all evil.
This is a common misconception with an easy fix. 1 Timothy 6:10 actually says, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil…” Money is not good or bad, and being judaswealthy is not a sin; Job was wealthy and described as a man who was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:1). Loving money, which in the Greek is “avarice” and infers an emotional affection, is the root of all sorts of evil as the desire to accumulate wealth is placed above God and others.

This too shall pass.
This is actually a misinterpretation of a line from “The Lament of Doer,” an Old English poem. Doer has been replaced as his lord’s poet, and calls to mind several other Germanic mythological figures who went through troubled times. Each refrain ends with, “that passed away, so may this.” Several verses in the Bible remind us that our lives and, indeed, heaven and earth will pass away (Matthew 24:35). But while we can find comfort knowing that our earthly sorrows are temporary, we’re still called to rejoice in our trials, knowing that they will lead to endurance and sanctification (James 1:2-4).

The lion shall lay down with the lamb.
Although Jesus is both the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God (Revelation 5), this phrase does not appear in the Bible. Isaiah 11:6 says, “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them.” Similarly, Isaiah 65:25 reads, “The wolf and the lamb will graze together and the lion will eat straw like an ox…” The sentiment reads true, however—hunter and prey will be reconciled and live in peace in the eternal kingdom.

lion and lambGod left us the Bible as a written testimony of His Word. His truth is found in the Bible. Some sayings are simple rewordings of biblical truth, but others are dangerous heresy. Despite how clever or even edifying a quote may be, if it isn’t in the Bible, we have no guarantee that it is the Word of God. And the only way we’ll know is if we read the Bible. Copyright Policy: While all of the material on the website is under copyright protection, the only purpose of our copyright is to make sure people copy it right. As long as you always clearly reference and/or link to as the source of the material, you have our permission to copy, print, and distribute our material.


In Him Was Life

Filed under: Bible,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 12:11 pm

In Him was life

God has Power over life.


We might ask, what is life? Is it just a series of biological and electrical stimulus and responses? Is life as the Epicureans believe just a quest to obtain the most pleasure? The

existentialist tells us life is an absurd joke. Atheist Darwinian biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion states life is just a series of random accidents, “no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”

Is there a metaphysical component of life that transcends our material existence?


Why do billions see design in the creation and look forward to some form of afterlife. Is this just wishful thinking? It seems to be universal.

No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.  ~Zen

“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” St. Augustine of Hippo

Does life have purpose? If it does have purpose that would suggest that there is a plan and if there is a plan then there must be a Planner.

The Christian worldview presupposes a Master Planner and a Master Plan.


Jesus spoke to this issue.  Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matt 6:10
As we look around us at the diversity of life from the smallest insect to the Great Barrier Reef, the largest organism in the world, what does this tell us about the creator?
God values life. God is pro life.


I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life.  Deut 30:19
I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10
Background Passage: Acts 5:12-42
Lesson Passages:  Acts 5:17-24, 29-34, 38-42

Then the high priest took action. He and all his colleagues, those who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 So they arrested the apostles and put them in the city jail. 19 But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple complex, and tell the people all about this life.” 21 In obedience to this, they entered the temple complex at daybreak and began to teach. When the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin—the full Senate of the sons of Israel and sent orders to the jail to have them brought. 22 But when the temple police got there, they did not find them in the jail, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing in front of the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside!” 24 As the commander of the temple police and the chief priests heard these things, they were baffled about them, as to what could come of this. Acts 5:17-24 (HCSB)

The party of the Sadducees, comparable to many liberal churches of our time. The Sadducean party was generally the party of the wealthy aristocrats. Sadducees believed that all human affairs result from human freedom. The fact that the Sadducees did not believe in God’s intervention in history could have given the impression that they denied fate and saw everything under human control. The Sadducees denied the doctrine of the resurrection. The Sadducees did not believe in angels or anything of a supernatural nature. The Sadducees pictured God and humans as independent and distant, both in this life and the next.

Rewards for righteousness were in this life, and hence they were keen on wealth and influence as evidence of divine blessing.
Does this sound familiar?
Joel Osteen: Your Best Life Now
John Shelby Spong, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark:The Virtual Atheism of John Shelby Spong

“Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.”

“Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.”

“The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.”


“There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.”

“I am amazed that given the knowledge revolution of the last 600 years, anyone could still regard the Bible as the dictated word of God, inerrant and eternal …”

This is not some cult, this is a mainline protestant denomination. This kind of thinking is allowing pro abortion, pro gay marriage, homosexual pastors into “the church”, and denies the scriptures, the miracles of Christ, and the deity of Christ Himself.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 (HCSB)
1. Tell the people the whole message of this Life.

The gospel. Jesus Christ came into this world to provide abundant and eternal life to spiritually dead people.

The apostles were supernaturally released during the night and were encouraged to continue witnessing to the people about the way of life and salvation. This Life. An unusual designation of the Christian message.—WBC
The thought that Peter and John had been supernaturally released from jail was total nonsense to the “religious” leader. They didn’t believe in angels or God intervening in the affairs of men.
2. The chief priests heard these things, they were baffled about them.

This is the same sort of thing that happened at the resurrection of Christ. The stone wasn’t rolled away to let Jesus out; He was out before the stone was rolled away. The stone was moved to let those on the outside come in. The same thing happened here. The doors did not need to be opened to let the apostles get out. They were out long before the doors were unlocked. JVM
Luke’s account of the temple police’s bewilderment is really quite amusing. This whole scene calls to mind scenes from old Keystone Cops movies. The people readily accepted the miracles that the apostles were performing, but their leaders seem to have been completely surprised by this miracle. The major concern of the leaders was the public reaction when what had happened became known. They appear again to have been more concerned about their own reputation and security than about the facts of the case. CN


When confronted by the truth of God, there are only two options. You can bend the knee and acknowledge his authority over all or you can hide your head in the sand.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3:19 (KJV)

29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. 31 God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while. Acts 5:29-34 (HCSB)
3. “We must obey God rather than men”.
Paul tells us in Romans 13 that we have an obligation to obey the rulers because all human government is divinely ordained.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Romans 13:1-3
How do we reconcile this contradiction? When our rulers are clearly in conflict with God, then it is our responsibility to resist and be prepared to pay the price for that resistance.
God my rescue us or may allow us to be martyred, it all depends on His plan.
Wycliffe, Tyndale, Hus, Luther, Washington, Gandhi, King : all men who laid their lives on the line for what they believed.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. 17 If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. 18 But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” Dan 3:16-18

We must never forget that God holds our lives in the palm of His hand and nothing can happen to us unless He allows it.
4. Whom you had murdered……
In our politically correct “tolerant”society truth is the new “hate speech”. God calls us to boldly proclaim our faith and not be afraid to call right right and wrong wrong. Moral and ethical relativism is a cancer on civilization. This bears repeating:
“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” Augustine
2+2 hates 5
5.  A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law…..

Gamaliel’s advocacy of moderation is the main point and reason for Luke’s record of the apostles’ second appearance before the Sanhedrin. Whereas the Sadducees “rose up” against the apostles, Gamaliel “rose up” against the Sadducees. He proved to be God’s instrument for preserving the apostles, and perhaps all the early Christians in Jerusalem, at this time.

The Pharisees were the minority party in the Sanhedrin, though there were more than 6,000 of them in Israel at this time. They were, notwithstanding, far more influential with the masses than the Sadducees were. The Pharisees looked for a personal Messiah. They believed in the resurrection of the dead and the existence and activity of angels and demons. They tried to live a simple life in contrast to the Sadducees ’luxurious” living. The name “Pharisee” evidently comes from the Aramaic verb peras, meaning “to separate.” They considered themselves to be separated to holiness and dedicated entirely to God. Most of the scribes, the Bible expositors of that day, were Pharisees. Consequently the Sadducees listened to the Pharisees and especially to Gamaliel.
“In short, theologically the Christian Jews had a lot more in common with the Pharisees than they did with the Sadducees.”

Gamaliel was the leader of the more liberal school of Hillel, one of the two most influential parties within Pharisaism. He had been a protégé of Hillel, who may have been Gamaliel’s grandfather. Saul of Tarsus was one of his own promising young disciples. People called him Rabban Gamaliel. Rabban (lit. “our teacher”) was a title of higher honor than rabbi (lit. “my teacher”). Gamaliel was the most respected Pharisee of his day. The Mishnah, a collection of commentaries on the oral laws of Israel published toward the end of the second century A.D., contains the following statement about him.

“Since Rabban Gamaliel the elder died there has been no more reverence for the law; and purity and abstinence died out at the same time.”

Gamaliel was able to direct the Sanhedrin as he did through his personal influence, not because he had any superior official authority within that body. CN

And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” So they were persuaded by him. 40 After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. 41 Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name. 42 Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. Acts 5:38-42 (HCSB)
6. Stay away from these men and leave them alone…..
Gamaliel’s point was that if God was not behind the apostles their efforts would prove futile in time. Obviously Gamaliel believed this was the case or he would have become a Christian. He offered the theoretical option that if the apostles were of God the Sanhedrin would find itself in the terrible position of fighting against God. Obviously Gamaliel believed in the sovereignty of God. He advised his brethren to wait and see. He did not believe that the apostles presented as serious a threat to the leaders of Judaism as the Sadducees believed they did. Saul of Tarsus took a different view of how the Jews should respond to the growing threat of Christianity. He executed many Christians, but that was after the number and influence of the Christians had increased dramatically.

Gamaliel’s counsel helps us understand how objective unbelieving Jews were viewing the apostles’ claims at this time. There had been others beside the apostles who had insisted that their leaders were great men. Yet their claims had eventually proved false. Many of the Jews, whom Gamaliel represented, likewise viewed the apostles’ preaching as well-meaning but mistaken. Jesus was no more special than Theudas or Judas of Galilee had been. Other than their ideas about Jesus being the Messiah, the apostles held views that did not challenge fundamental Pharisaic theology. However the disciples, like Jesus, rejected the authority of oral tradition over Scripture. CN

7. And had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus.

This time the Sanhedrin enforced their command by scourging the apostles. The text does not say whether it was with the maximum of 39 stripes prescribed by Jewish law or with fewer stripes. The lashing consisted of striking the victim’s bare skin with a tripled strip of calf’s hide. The victim received two blows to the back, then one to the chest. Thus each cycle had to be divisible by three, which explains the maximum limit of 39—one less than the 40 prescribed in Deut. 25:3. ESV Notes


So how did that work for the Sanhedrin?

They continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
1 Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and His Anointed One: 3 “Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them. Psalms 2:1-4 (HCSB)
If I say,“I won’t mention Him or speak any longer in His name,”His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in, and I cannot prevail.   Jer 20:9
ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes
MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study   Notes
NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes.
JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee’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.
EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures
CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary
SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary
K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT
EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary
CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College
GC……………………Guzik Commentary
RD…………………..Robert  Deffinbaugh
NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible
MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary
CSTTB………Chuck Smith Through The Bible
LESB…………….Life Essentials Study Bible.
“Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107
The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


August 8, 2014

Cooperation: Should We All Get Along?

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 7:37 am

Originally posted on Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.:

cooperation-images-871Have you ever wondered, “How should Christians work together to accomplish the work of the Kingdom of God? Why do there have to be so many things which divide us? Why can’t we all just get along?” For the purpose of our study, we are not going to delve into discussions of denominational structure or church governance, but rather we are going to look at what the Bible has to say about those things which unify or divide us, both in our personal relationships and our Kingdom endeavors. These truths apply to our lives, not only as a church, but as individual Christians.

Why can’t all people claiming to be Christians be joined together for the advancement of the Kingdom? When looked at on the surface, it would seem this is a valid question. After all, don’t we all love Jesus? Don’t we all want to do His will on…

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August 7, 2014

Question: “What was the Protestant Reformation?”

Filed under: Bible,Church History,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 8:16 pm
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Question: “What was the Protestant Reformation?”

Answer: In understanding the history of Protestant Church and the Reformation, it is important to first understand that one of the claims that the Roman Catholic Church makes is that of apostolic succession. This simply means that they claim a unique authority over all other churches and denominations because they claim the line of Roman Catholic Popes back throughout the centuries, all the way to the Apostle Peter. In their view, this gives the Roman Catholic Church a unique authority that supersedes all other denominations or churches. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, this apostolic succession is only “found in the Catholic Church” and no “separate Churches have any valid claim to it.”

It is because of this apostolic succession that the Roman Catholic Church claims a unique authority to interpret Scripture and to establish doctrine, as well the claim of having a supreme leader in the Pope who is infallible (without error) when speaking “ex cathedra”—that is, in the exercise of his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians. Therefore, according to the Roman Catholic view, the teaching or traditions of the Roman Catholic Church as they come from the Pope are equally as infallible and authoritative as the Scriptures themselves. This is one of the major differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants and was one of the foundational reasons for the Protestant Reformation.

Of course, the Roman Catholics are not the only ones who try to claim unique authority through apostolic succession or by tracing the roots of their church back to the original apostles. The Eastern Orthodox Church also claims apostolic succession, although their claim is very similar to the Roman Catholic view. The split between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism did not occur until the “Great Schism” in A.D. 1054. There are also some Protestant denominations or groups that will try to establish a “Trail of Blood” that can be traced back through the centuries to the first century church and the apostles themselves. While these Protestants do not hold to apostolic succession in order to establish the authority of a “Pope” as an infallible leader, they still look to that connection to the early church in at least some small degree to establish the authority of their doctrines and practices.

The problem with any of these attempts to trace a line of succession back to the apostles, whether it is Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant, is that they all are attempts to derive or support the authority of what they believe and teach from the wrong source, that of some real or perceived connection with the apostles, instead of deriving it from the Word of God. It is important for Christians to realize that direct apostolic succession is not necessary in order for a church or denomination to have authority. God has given and preserved the supreme authority for all matters of faith and practice in His Holy Word, the Bible. Therefore, an individual church’s or denomination’s authority today does not come through some tie to the first century church and the apostles. Instead, it comes only and directly from the written Word of God. A church or denomination’s teachings are authoritative and binding on Christians only if they represent the true meaning and clear teaching of Scripture. This is important in order to understand the connection between Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church, and the reason that the Protestant Reformation took place.

In regards to the history of Christianity and the claims of apostolic succession, as well as the Roman Catholic Church’s claim of being the one true Church with unique authority, it is important to understand a couple of key points. First, we must realize that even in the days of the apostles and the first century church, false teachers were a significant problem. We know this because warnings against heresies and false teachers are found in all the later New Testament writings. Jesus Himself warned that these false teachers would be like “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15), and that there would be both “tares and wheat” that would exist together until the day of judgment when He separates the saved from the lost, the true “born again” believer from those that have not truly received Him (Matthew 13:24-30). This is important in understanding church history, because from almost the very beginning false teachers and false teachings have been invading the church and leading people astray. Despite this, there have also been true “born again” believers who held fast to the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, throughout all ages, even in the darkest period of the dark ages.

The second thing to realize to correctly understand church history is that the word catholic simply means “universal.” This is important because in the early Christian writings of the first and second centuries, when the term catholic is used, it is referring to the “universal church” or “body of Christ” that is made up of “born again” believers from every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). However, like many other words over time, the word catholic began to take on new meaning, or came to be used in a new sense. Over time, the concept of a “universal” or “catholic” church began to evolve into the concept that all churches formed together one church, not just spiritually, but also visibly, extending throughout the world. This misunderstanding of the nature of the visible church (which always has contained both “wheat and tares”) and the invisible church (the body of Christ which is only made up of born again believers) would lead to the concept of a visible Holy Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation. It is out of this misunderstanding of the nature of the universal church that the Roman Catholic Church evolved.

Prior to the Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in A.D. 315, Christians had been persecuted by the Roman government. With his conversion, Christianity became an allowed religion of the Roman Empire (and later became the official religion), and thus the “visible” Church became joined with the power of the Roman government. This marriage of church and state led to the formation of the Roman Catholic Church, and over time caused the Roman Catholic Church to refine its doctrine and develop its structure in a way that best served the purpose of the Roman government. During this time, opposing the Roman Catholic Church was the same as opposing the Roman government and carried with it severe penalties. If one disagreed with some doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, it was a serious charge that often resulted in excommunication and sometimes even death.

Yet throughout this time of history, there were true “born again” Christians who would rise up and oppose the secularization of the Roman Catholic Church and the perversion of the faith that followed. Through this church-and-state combination, the Roman Catholic Church effectively silenced those who opposed any of its doctrines or practices, and truly became almost a universal church throughout the Roman Empire. There were always pockets of resistance to some of the unbiblical practices and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, yet they were relatively small and isolated. Prior to the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, men such as John Wycliffe in England, John Huss in Czechoslovakia, and John of Wessel in Germany had all given their lives for their opposition to some of the unbiblical teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

The opposition to the Roman Catholic Church and its false teaching came to a head in the sixteenth century, when a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther posted his 95 propositions (or theses) against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on the Castle Church door at Wittenberg, Germany. Luther’s intention was to bring reform to the Roman Catholic Church, and in doing so was challenging the authority of the Pope. With the refusal of the Roman Catholic Church to heed Luther’s call to reformation and return to biblical doctrines and practices, the Protestant Reformation began. From this Reformation four major divisions or traditions of Protestantism would emerge: Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist, and Anglican. During this time God raised up godly men in different countries in order to once again restore churches throughout the world to their biblical roots and to biblical doctrines and practices.

Underlying the Protestant Reformation lay four basic doctrines in which the reformers believed the Roman Catholic Church to be in error. These four questions or doctrines are How is a person saved? Where does religious authority lie? What is the church? And what is the essence of Christian living? In answering these questions, Protestant Reformers such as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, and John Knox established what would be known as the “Five Solas” of the Reformation (sola being the Latin word for “alone”). These five points of doctrine were at the heart of the Protestant Reformation, and it was for these five essential Biblical doctrines that the Protestant Reformers would take their stand against the Roman Catholic Church, resisting the demands placed on them to recant, even to the point of death. These five essential doctrines of the Protestant Reformation are as follows:

1-“Sola Scriptura,” or Scripture Alone: This affirms the Biblical doctrine that the Bible alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith and practice. Scripture and Scripture alone is the standard by which all teachings and doctrines of the church must be measured. As Martin Luther so eloquently stated when asked to recant on his teachings, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

2—“Sola Gratia,” Salvation by Grace Alone: This affirms the Biblical doctrine that salvation is by God’s grace alone and that we are rescued from His wrath by His grace alone. God’s grace in Christ is not merely necessary, but is the sole efficient cause of salvation. This grace is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

3—“Sola Fide,” Salvation by Faith Alone: This affirms the Biblical doctrine that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. It is by faith in Christ that His righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice.

4—“Solus Christus,” In Christ Alone: This affirms the Biblical doctrine that salvation is found in Christ alone and that His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to God the Father. The gospel has not been preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared, and if faith in Christ and His work is not solicited.

5—“Soli Deo Gloria, For the Glory of God Alone: This affirms the Biblical doctrine that salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God for His glory alone. It affirms that as Christians we must glorify Him always, and must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God, and for His glory alone.

These five important and fundamental doctrines are the reason for the Protestant Reformation. They are at the heart of where the Roman Catholic Church went wrong in its doctrine, and why the Protestant Reformation was necessary to return churches throughout the world to correct doctrine and biblical teaching. They are just as important today in evaluating a church and its teachings as they were then. In many ways, much of Protestant Christianity needs to be challenged to return to these fundamental doctrines of the faith, much like the reformers challenged the Roman Catholic Church to do in the sixteenth century.

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August 6, 2014

Hebrews Chapter 4

Filed under: Bible,Hebrews,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 5:16 pm


1  Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2  For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.


1. What is the big concern the Hebrew believers were concerned about?

entering promised landThe writer expressed concern in this verse that some of his readers might conclude that they had missed entering into their rest (i.e., their spiritual inheritance). Apparently some of the original readers had doubts because the Lord had not yet returned. They expected Him to return soon after He ascended into heaven (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Thess. 2:1-12). Later the writer urged his readers to wait patiently for the Lord to return (10: 36-37). None of the original readers had failed to enter their rest (inheritance) because they had missed the Lord’s return. CN

promise. This is the first use of this important word in Hebrews. The content of this promise is defined as “entering His rest.” His rest.  This is the rest which God gives, therefore it is called “My rest” (Ps 95:11) and “His rest.” For believers, God’s rest includes His peace, confidence of salvation, reliance on His strength, and assurance of a future heavenly home (cf. Mt 11:29). come short. The entire phrase could be translated “lest you think you have come too late to enter into the rest of God” (cf. 12:15). With reverential fear all are to examine their own spiritual condition (cf. 1Co 10:12; 2Co 13:5) and to actively press for commitment on the part of others (cf. Jude 23). MSBN


2. What rest is the writer referring too?

The writer used the term “rest” as Moses did, as an equivalent to entering into all the inheritance that God promised His people (Deut. 3:18-20; 12:9-11; cf. Heb. 1:14;rest area 3:11, 18; 4:3-5, 10-11; 6:12, 17). For the Christian this inheritance is everything that God desires to bestow on us when we see Him.[135] It is an eschatological rest, not a present rest. We enter into our rest after we cease from our labors in this life. We then enter into our “Sabbath rest,” the rest that follows a full period of work (i.e., a lifetime; cf. vv. 9-11). I believe this is the correct view.

The readers might fail to enter their rest, in the sense of losing part of their inheritance, if they apostatized. Losing part of one’s inheritance probably involves losing the privilege of reigning with Christ in a position of significant responsibility in the future, at least (cf. Matt. 25:14-30). As it is possible to receive a greater or a lesser inheritance (reward), it is also possible to enter into more or less rest. The generation of Israelites that crossed the Jordan with Joshua only entered into partial rest in the land due to their failure to trust and obey God completely. Israel’s compromises with the Canaanites mitigated their rest. Subsequent generations of Israelites experienced the same partial rest, as the Book of Judges reveals. They apostatized, God disciplined them, they repented, and then they experienced rest until they (usually the next generation) apostatized again. CN

His rest.  This is the rest which God gives, therefore it is called “My rest” (Ps 95:11) and “His rest.” For believers, God’s rest includes His peace, confidence of salvation, reliance on His strength, and assurance of a future heavenly home (cf. Mt 11:29). come short. The entire phrase could be translated “lest you think you have come too late to enter into the rest of God” (cf. 12:15). With reverential fear all are to examine their own spiritual condition (cf. 1Co 10:12; 2Co 13:5) and to actively press for commitment on the part of others (cf. Jude 23).MSBN


3. How did those in the past fail with respect to the promise?

Comparisons between the exodus generation and the church continue. Both received the divine proclamation of deliverance (good news) and both were called to respond in faith. However, the exodus generation did not receive the promised benefit since they failed to respond in faith. Their failure serves to caution the Christian community against unbelief. The “good news” of the exodus included God’s promised deliverance from Egypt, the covenant he established with his people, and the hopejoshua and the land of entering the Promised Land (e.g., Ex. 6:1–9). The good news for the church includes the revelation and deliverance found in the Lord Jesus, the new covenant he established through his high priestly sacrifice, and the hope of eternity with him (e.g., Heb. 1:1–4; 2:14–18). ESVN

CHRIST IS SUPERIOR TO JOSHUA  Moses led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but he could not lead them into Canaan. Joshua led them into the land, but we will see here that he couldn’t give them rest. Many of them never found rest—they never really laid hold of their possessions in the land. The world, the flesh, and the Devil rob many of the blessing God has for them. You and I live in a mean, wicked world. This world is not a friend of grace; it is not the friend of believers. Many of us have not discovered that yet. JVM


3  For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” 4  For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5  And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”


4. If  God’s Sabbath rest was not achieved by the OT Hebrews how can it now be enjoyed?

we who have believed. Faith in God’s good news is necessary to enter God’s rest (cf. 3:12, 19; 4:2; and more positively, see 6:12; 10:22, 37–39; 11:1–39; 13:7). The “rest” of God in Ps. 95:11 (they shall not enter my rest) is connected with God’s resting on the seventh day after the six days of creation (quoted from Gen. 2:2). The fact that the exodus generation was not allowed to enter that rest proves that God’s Sabbath rest (begun in Genesis 2) was still open. Even “today,” at the time of the writing of Hebrews, this rest could still be entered. The implication is that until Christ returns people throughout the entire age can similarly enter into this rest. ESCreationVN

we who have believed enter that rest. Just as entering into rest in Canaan demanded faith in God’s promise, so the ultimate salvation-rest is entered only by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. his work has been finished since the creation of the world. God rested from his work on the seventh day of creation (see v. 4 ; Ge 2:2 ), and thus his rest is already a reality. The rest God calls us to enter ( vv. 10-11 ) is not our rest but his rest, which he invites us to share. NIVSN

These verses attest that a rest has definitely been provided. Evidently, the idea supposes that since Israel never knew it, some Jews might challenge the actual existence of the promised rest. The author offers two logical arguments for the existence of this rest and accents each argument by explaining Israel’s lack—God swore it would not happen to Israel. The first argument states that we which have believed do enter into rest. Presently, God is providing a rest.

If they shall enter into my rest. As it is translated here, this clause, found in both verses 3 and 5, is confusing. If the translators had followed the same grammatical principles here that they used in 3:11, there would be no problem. Each of these passages has exactly the same Greek clause; in fact, each is precisely the same quotation from Psalm 95:11. It is an elliptical form of a Hebrew negative oath, of which the complete form might be, “May I be judged more, if they shall enter into my rest.” In its shorter, elliptical form it is better translated, as in 3:11, “They shall not enter into my rest” (see Kent, p. 72). They who believe have rest, but unbelieving Israel shall not enter God’s rest.

The second argument for the existence of a genuine rest states that rest has existed ever since the seventh day of creation week (vss. 3–4). God rests; but unbelieving Israel will not rest, as He has sworn. KJVBC


6  Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7  again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”


5. How does “today” figure into the writers argument?

2-corinthians-6-vs-2All the descendants of Abraham did not lose their opportunity to receive God’s inheritance because the generation of Israelites living during the wilderness wanderings failed God. In David’s day God re-extended His offer of entering rest, and that generation had to respond. The title of Psalm 95 in the Septuagint credited David with writing it. They had their “today” of opportunity also. Every generation of believers needs to continue to trust and obey to enter into our rest (inheritance). CN

the today of Ps. 95:7–8 holds out to the worshiper the possibility of entering even now in a partial way into the end-time “rest” and blessing that the exodus generation missed. God’s rest centered upon recognizing that his work of creation was now completed; Christians enter into his rest through recognizing that Christ’s work of redeeming them from sin has also been completed. ESVN

The opportunity to enter God’s rest remains open (cf. “a promise remains” in v. 1). It is not yet too late. God had offered the rest to His people in Moses’ time and continued to offer it in David’s time. He is still patiently inviting His people to enter His rest (cf. Ro 10:21). Quoting Ps 95:7, 8 once again (see 3:7, 15), the author urges an immediate, positive response. The themes of urgency and obedience are thus combined in a clear invitation to the readers. MSBN

Today is the operative word in Christianity. As long as there is breath within a person the today is still open and salvation is available. 

2 Corinthians 6:2 For He says: I heard you in an acceptable time, and I helped you in the day of salvation. Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.


8  For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9  So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10  for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.


6. What works?

Joshua is the Old Testament or Hebrew word for “savior”; Jesus is the Greek or New Testament word, meaning “savior.” In the verse before us—Joshua: “For if Joshua had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.” When Joshua was old and stricken in years, there was yet very much land to conquer. The people of Israel had not entered into all the blessing God had in store for them. Joshua wasn’t able to secure it for them. But, my friend, if you trust Christ, Christ can let you enter into the Canaan of the present day, in which there will be fruit and blessing and joy in your life. Oh, how we need this today! What robs us of it? Unbelief. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God  Here the writer is projecting into the future when all the people of God are going to find a heavenly rest. Heaven will be a place of deep satisfaction, of real joy, and real blessing. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” JVM

The prospect of rest for the Israelites, specifically the possession of the Promised Land and life in it, did not end when Joshua defeated the Canaanites. Each believesucceeding generation had to continue to trust and obey God to assure its own rest in the land.

The Sabbath rest in view is the rest (inheritance) that every generation of believers and every individual believer enters into when he or she, like God, faithfully finishes his or her work. That work involves continuing to trust and obey God (i.e., walking by faith daily as opposed to apostatizing). Christians will enter into our rest when we receive our inheritance from Jesus Christ at His judgment seat (2 Cor. 5:10).

Millennial rest in the Promised Land will be the portion of Israel in the future. Walter Kaiser also interpreted the rest as future. He believed that first Israel and then all believers would fulfill this promise by possessing the Promised Land in the Millennium. However this passage seems to be referring to eternal rest for all believers of which the Millennium is just the beginning. Israel will be the primary people God blesses and makes a blessing in the Millennium. Neither is this Sabbath rest the present rest that Christians enjoy because God has finished His work of providing salvation for us in Christ and we have entered into it by faith. That should be clear because the rest in view is still future for us (cf. vv. 1, 6, 9, 11). CN

John 6:28-29 (NASB) Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”


11  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.


7. What is our responsibility with regard to this rest?

In the meantime we need to follow Jesus and Moses’ examples of faithfulness to God. We need to carry out the work He has given us to do (i.e., to continue to trust and obey rather than turning from Him; 3:2, 6, 14). Note again that the writer said he faced the same danger as his readers: “Let us” (cf. v. 16).

perserverence“We enter into rest only when we persevere in faith to the end of life. When we do this, we will obtain a share in the inheritance, the millennial land of Canaan, and will rule with Christ as one of His metochoi[partners] there. Rest is not just the land itself; it also includes the state or condition of ‘finished work,’ of final perseverance, into which the faithful Christian will enter. God has not set aside His promises to Israel. The promise of the inheritance, the land, is eternally valid, and those Christians who remain faithful to their Lord to the end of life will share in that inheritance along with the Old Testament saints.”

Millennial rest is only the beginning of eternal rest. Christians need to be diligent to enter that rest. If the rest were just heaven, we would not have to exercise diligence because God has promised that all believers will go to heaven (John 10:27-28; Rom. 8:30; Phil. 1:6; et al.). If the rest were just the rest we presently enjoy because God has forgiven our sins, we would not have to be diligent to enter it either because we already have entered into that rest. CN

This again emphasizes the need for perseverance . It should be remembered, however, that salvation is based not on good works but on Jesus’ high priestly sacrifice , and anything believers can do to please God comes from his working in them . The opposite of perseverance is disobedience, the sin of the faithless exodus generation. ESVN


12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13  And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.


two edged8. How is the word of God like a sword?


While the Word of God is comforting and nourishing to those who believe, it is a tool of judgment and execution for those who have not committed themselves to Jesus Christ. Some of the Hebrews were merely going through the motions of belonging to Christ. Intellectually, they were at least partly persuaded, but inside they were not committed to Him. God’s Word would expose their shallow beliefs and even their false intentions (cf. 1Sa 16:7; 1Pe 4:5). division of soul and spirit. These terms do not describe two separate entities (any more than “thoughts and intentions” do) but are used as one might say “heart and soul” to express fullness (cf. Lk 10:27; Ac 4:32; see note on 1Th 5:23). Elsewhere these two terms are used interchangeably to describe man’s immaterial self, his eternal inner person. 4:13 open … to the eyes of Him. “Open” is a specialized term used just this one time in the NT. It originally meant to expose the neck either in preparation for sacrifice or for beheading. Perhaps the use of “sword” in the previous verse triggered the term. Each individual is judged not only by the Word of God (cf. Jn 12:48), but by God Himself. We are accountable to the living, written Word (cf. Jn 6:63, 68; Ac 7:38) and to the living God who is its author. MSBN


God’s truth was revealed by Jesus, but it has also been given verbally, the word referred to here. This dynamic word of God is active in accomplishing God’s purposes. The author of Hebrews describes it as a “living” power that judges as with an all-seeing eye, penetrating a person’s innermost being. soul and spirit, joints and marrow. The totality and depth of one’s being. NIVSN

The warning continues: faithless disobedience will not go unnoticed. word of God. Usually this phrase in Hebrews refers to the message of salvation, but here the “word” is pictured as God’s personal utterance, living, active, sharp, piercing, and discerning (v. 12), with eyes that expose (v. 13). The Word of God then acts as God himself, so that one’s innermost thoughts and intentions are exposed. This happens constantly in Christians’ lives. ESVN


14  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


 9.  How is Jesus our high priest?

Our “great High Priest” (2:17) has already proved faithful through suffering and is now in God’s presence where He intercedes for us (cf. Rom. 8:34). Compare our “great salvation” (2:3). He is not just a priest serving on earth, like Israel’s high priests. He is our file leader (2:10), and we will follow Him through the heavens one day. This great High Priest is none other than Jesus, not an angel (1:4-14) or Moses (3:2-6). He is the Son of God (1:2).

“The picture of Jesus Christ as High Priest is the most distinctive theme of Hebrews, and it is central to the theology of the book.”

Notice that this verse does not say that since we have such a High Priest we will hold fast our confession. Perseverance in faith and good works is not inevitable, though perseverance in salvation is (2 Tim. 2:12-13). Since we have such a High Priest we must be careful to hold fast our confession. This verse concludes the exhortation to enter into our rest that began in 3:12.

“The warning injesus-our-high-priest Hebrews 3:1-4:13 is inextricably related to the Exodus generation and the concept of rest. By referring to Moses’ and Christ’s faithfulness in the house of God, the writer exhorted his readers to remain faithful to their worship function in God’s house as believer-priests (Heb. 3:1-6).

“The generation in the wilderness is an example of those who failed to be faithful and as a result experienced both temporal discipline and eschatological loss. A royal enthronement psalm (Ps. 95), with its past and present perspectives, was used as the basis for explaining Israel’s failure.

Hebrews 4 begins with an application to the present readers. Four times the text says that the promise of rest remains [i.e., is future] (4:1, 6, 9, 11).

“The concept of rest in Hebrews 3:1-4:13 includes (a) a historical sense related to the Exodus generation and Joshua ; (b) an eschatological sense related to the Exodus (Ps. 95); and (c) the sabbath rest related to the readers with its eschatological perspective.

“The readers’ entrance into this eschatological rest depends on their faithfulness in doing good works. Asmetochoi (‘companions’) of Christ they must be diligent to receive eschatological reward (4:11-13) at the judgment seat of Christ. Failure to persevere may result in temporal discipline (12:4-11) along with the loss of future rewards and authority to rule with Jesus in the millennium.”

“The reference to Jesus in his office as high priest in v 14 is not an afterthought, but the intended conclusion of the entire argument. The crucial issue for the community is whether they will maintain their Christian stance. The issue was posed conditionally in 3:6b, and more pointedly in 3:14. It was raised again forcefully in v 14 in the exhortation to hold fast to the confession that identified Christians as those who had responded to the message they had heard with faith (cf. v 2). The ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary as a faithful high priest in the service of God gives certainty to the promise that God’s people will celebrate the Sabbath in his presence if they hold fast their initial confidence.”CN

Christ is our High Priest. The pagan notion of priesthood colors our thinking in reference to a priest. A pagan priest actually barred the approach to God, claiming possession of some mystical power essential to bringing an individual to God. A person had to go through this priest who claimed to have this particular access. That type of thing denies the finished work of Christ and the priesthood of all believers. The priesthood of all beievers was one of the great truths which John Calvin emphasized. All of us need a priest—we have a lack; we need help, and we all have our hang–ups. Job’s heart–cry was, “Neither is there any days man betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:33). Job longed for a mediator or priest who would stand between him and God, who would put one hand in Job’s hand and his other hand in God’s hand, and thus bring them together. Christ is that mediator, that priest, through whom every believer has personal access to God.

We have a high priest, that is passed into the heavens.” Let me say right away that the Lord Jesus Christ was not a priest while here on the earth. The only mention in Scripture of His ever making any kind of sacrifice (He never needed to make a sacrifice for Himself, of course) was the time He told Simon Peter to catch a fish and take the gold piece out of its mouth that He might pay a necessary temple tax from which the priests were exempt. He did that, I think, to make it very clear that He was not a priest here on earth. To be a priest you had to be born in the line of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi. The Lord Jesus was a member of the tribe of Judah. He was not in the priestly line. He was in the kingly line. When He was here on earth He came as a prophet speaking for God. He went back to heaven a priest to represent us to God. He became a priest when He ascended into heaven. He died down here to save us, and He lives up there to keep us saved. It is true that when He was here He offered Himself upon the Cross, and that is the function of a priest, but to be a priest to represent you and me He had to wait until He returned to heaven.

Christ occupies a threefold office: (1) He was a prophet when He came over nineteen hundred years ago—that is the past; (2) He is a priest today—that is for the present; and (3) He is coming someday to rule as a king—that is for the future. He occupies all three of these offices, and He is the great subject of this Epistle to the Hebrews.

“Let us hold fast our profession”—“profession” should be confession. Paul says, “Let us,” to challenge us, to call us to do it, actually, to command us to do it. Let us hold fast our confession.

Notice that he does not say, “Let us hold fast our salvation.” He is not talking about our salvation, but about our testimony, our witness down here. He is talking about our living for Christ. Christ died down here to save us, and He lives up yonder to keep us saved and to enable us to give a good witness. Some people say, “I can’t live the Christian life.” Well, I have news for you. It is true that you cannot live the Christian life, and God never asked you to live the Christian life. I have been thankful that He has not asked that of me because I have tried it, and it didn’t work. We cannot do it in our own strength, but He asks that He might live it through us. He lives up yonder in order that you and I might hold fast to our confession, our testimony down here.

When we come to chapter 11 we will find a regular roll call of the heroes of the faith which shows what faith has done in the lives of men and women in all ages. All of those listed there had a good witness, a good report. Theirs was a good witness through faith—they lived by faith. JVM


10. How was Jesus tempted as we are?

Our High Priest can sympathize with us.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

a. We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize: Though His deity has been documented (Heb_1:4-14), His compassionate humanity has also been temptation-of-christdemonstrated (Heb_2:5-18).  It means that there is a Jesus, God the Son, enthroned in heaven, our High Priest, can sympathize with our weaknesses.

i. To the Greeks, the primary attribute of God was apatheia, the essential inability to feel anything at all.  Jesus isn’t like that.  He knows, He feels what we go through.  The ancient Greek word for sympathize literally means “to suffer along with.”

ii. What makes the difference is that Jesus added humanity to His deity, and came and lived among us as a man.  When you have been there, it makes all the difference.  We might hear of some tragedy at a high school, and feel a measure of sorrow.  But it is nothing like the pain we would feel if it were the high school we attended.

b. But was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin: Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted and to battle against sin, though He was never stained by sin.  “His sinlessness was, at least in part, an earned sinlessness as he gained victory after victory in the constant battle with temptation that life in this world entails.” (Morris)

i. Sometimes we think that because Jesus is God, He could never know temptation the way we do.  In part, this is true: Jesus faced temptation much more severely than we ever have or ever will.  The Sinless One knows temptation in a way we don’t, because only the one who never gives into temptation knows the full strength of temptation.  It is true that Jesus never faced temptation in an inner sense the way we do, because there was never a sinful nature pulling Him to sin from the inside.  But He knew the strength and fury of external temptation in a way, and to a degree, that we can never know.  He knows what we go through; He has faced worse. GC


ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes

MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study   Notes
NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes.
JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee’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.
EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures
CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary
SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary
K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT
EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary
CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College
GC……………………Guzik Commentary
RD…………………..Robert  Deffinbaugh
NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible
MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary
CSTTB………Chuck Smith Through The Bible
LESB…………….Life Essentials Study Bible.  
KJVSB……………..KJV Bible Commentary


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August 5, 2014

“This is the Way God Made Me”–A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the “Gay Gene”

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 5:48 pm


Dave Miller, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.


The trumpets were left at home and the parades were canceled. The press releases and campaign signs were quietly forgotten. The news was big, but it did not contain what some had hoped for. On April 14, 2003, the International Human Genome Consortium announced the successful completion of the Human Genome Project—two years ahead of schedule. The press report read: “The human genome is complete and the Human Genome Project is over” (see “Human Genome Report…,” 2003, emp. added). Most of the major science journals reported on the progress in the field of genetics, but also speculated on how the information would now be used. The one piece of information that never materialized from the Human Genome Project was the identification of the so-called “gay gene.”

Homosexuality has been practiced for thousands of years. Simply put, homosexuality is defined as sexual relations between like genders (i.e., two males or two females). It was Sigmund Freud who first postulated that parental relationships with a child ultimately determine the youngster’s sexual orientation. But this “nurturing” aspect has effectively given way to the “nature” side of the equation. Can some behaviors (e.g., alcoholism, homosexuality, schizophrenia) be explained by genetics? Are these and other behaviors influenced by nature or by nurture? Are they inborn or learned? Some individuals believed that the answer would be found hiding amidst the chromosomes analyzed in the Human Genome Project.

The human X and Y chromosomes (the two “sex” chromosomes) have been completely sequenced. Thanks to work carried out by labs all across the globe, we know that the X chromosome contains 153 million base pairs, and harbors a total of 1168 genes (see NCBI, 2004). The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that the Y chromosome—which is much smaller—contains “only” 50 million base pairs, and is estimated to contain a mere 251 genes. Educational institutions such as Baylor University, the Max Planck Institute, the Sanger Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, and others have spent countless hours and millions of research dollars analyzing these unique chromosomes. As the data began to pour in, they allowed scientists to construct gene maps—using actual sequences from the Human Genome Project. And yet, neither the map for the X nor the Y chromosome contains any “gay gene.”

What is the truth regarding homosexuality? Too often, speculation, emotions, and politics play a major role in its assessment. The following is a scientific investigation of human homosexuality.


In an effort to affect public policy and gain acceptance, the assertion often is made that homosexuals deserve equal rights just as other minority groups—and should not be punished for, or forbidden from, expressing their homosexuality. The fight for the acceptance of homosexuality often is compared to “civil rights” movements of racial minorities. Due to America’s failure to settle fully the civil rights issue (i.e., full and equal citizenship of racial minorities), social liberals, feminists, and homosexual activists were provided with the perfect “coat tail” to ride to advance their agenda. Using this camouflage of innate civil liberties, homosexual activists were able to divert attention away from thebehavior, and focus it on the “rights.”

The argument goes like this: “Just as a person cannot help being black, female, or Asian, I cannot help being homosexual. We were all born this way, and as such we should be treated equally.” However, this argument fails to comprehend the true “civil rights” movements. The law already protects the civil rights of everyone—black, white, male, female, homosexual, or heterosexual. Homosexuals enjoy the same civil rights everyone else does. The contention arises when specific laws deprive all citizens of certain behaviors (e.g., sodomy, etc.). We should keep in mind that these laws are the same for all members of society. Because of certain deprivations, homosexuals feel as though “equal” rights have been taken away (i.e., marriage, tax breaks, etc.).

Skin color and other genetic traits can be traced through inheritance patterns and simple Mendelian genetics. Homosexuals are identified not by a trait or a gene, but rather by their actions. Without the action, they would be indistinguishable from all other people. It is only when they alter their behavior that they become a group that is recognized as being different. If we were to assume momentarily that homosexuality was genetic, then the most one could conclude is that those individuals were not morally responsible for being homosexual. However, that does not mean that they are not morally responsible forhomosexual actions! Merely having the gene would not force one to carry out the behavior. For instance, if scientists were able to document that a “rape gene” existed, we certainly would not blame an individual for possessing this gene, but neither would we allow him to act upon that rape disposition. Neil Risch and his coworkers admitted:

There is little disagreement that male homosexual orientation is not a Mendelian trait. In fact, a priori, one would expect the role of a major gene in male homosexual orientation to be limited because of the strong selective pressures against such a gene. It is unlikely that a major gene underlying such a common trait could persist over time without an extraordinary counterbalancing mechanism (1993, 262:2064).

Evan S. Balaban, a neurobiologist at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, noted that

the search for the biological underpinnings of complex human traits has a sorry history of late. In recent years, researchers and the media have proclaimed the “discovery” of genes linked to alcoholism and mental illness as well as to homosexuality. None of the claims…has been confirmed (as quoted in Horgan, 1995).

Charles Mann agreed, stating: “Time and time again, scientists have claimed that particular genes or chromosomal regions are associated with behavioral traits, only to withdraw their findings when they were not replicated” (1994, 264:1687). It appears that the gay gene will be added to this category of unreplicated claims.

The real issue here is homosexual actions that society has deemed immoral and, in many instances, illegal. Since no study has firmly established an underlying genetic cause for homosexuality, arguments suggesting “equal rights” are both baseless and illogical.


Anyone who has tuned into prime-time television within the past few years has observed an increasing trend of shows featuring characters who are homosexual—and proud of it. It seems as though modern sitcoms require “token” homosexuals in order to be politically correct. The perception is that these individuals share the same apartment buildings, offices, clubs, etc., with heterosexual people, and that we need to realize just how prevalent homosexuality is. So, exactly what fraction of the population do homosexuals actually represent?

The famous Kinsey Institute report often is cited as evidence that 10% of the population is homosexual. In his book, Is It a Choice?: Answers to 300 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gays and Lesbians, Eric Marcus used the Kinsey studies to demonstrate that one in ten people is homosexual (1993). In truth, Kinsey never reported figures that high. The Kinsey Report clearly stated that: “Only about 4 percent of the men [evaluated] were exclusively homosexual throughout their entire lives…. Only 2 or 3 percent of these women were exclusively homosexual their entire lives” (see Reinisch and Beasley, 1990, p. 140). However, there is good reason to believe that the real percentage is not even this high.

While no one has carried out a door-to-door census, we do have a fairly accurate estimate. Interestingly, these statistics came to light in an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2003, in the Lawrence vs. Texas case (commonly known as the Texas sodomy case). On page 16 of this legal brief, footnote 42 revealed that 31 homosexual and pro-homosexual groups admitted the following:

The most widely accepted study of sexual practices in the United States is the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS). The NHSLS found that 2.8% of the male, and 1.4% of the female population identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (Laumann, et al., 1994).

The study also found that only 0.9% of men and 0.4% of women reported having only same-sex partners since age 18—a figure that would represent a total of only 1.4 million Americans as homosexual (based on the last census report, showing roughly 292 million people living in America). The resulting accurate figures demonstrate that significantly less than one percent of the American population claims to be homosexual. The NHSLS results are similar to a survey conducted by the Minnesota Adolescent Health Survey (1986) of public school students. The survey showed that only 0.6% of the boys and 0.2% of the girls identified themselves as “mostly or 100% homosexual.”

The 2000 census sheds even more light on the subject. The overall statistics from the 2000 Census Bureau revealed:

  • The total population of the U.S. is 285,230,516.
  • The total number of households in the U.S. is 106,741,426.
  • The total number of unmarried same-sex households is 601,209.

Thus, out of a population of 106,741,426 households, homosexuals represent 0.42% of those households. That is less than one half of one percent!

But since most people are not mathematicians, we would like to make this point in a way that most individuals will be able to better comprehend. If we were to start a new television sitcom, and wanted to accurately portray homosexual ratios in society, we would need 199heterosexual actors before we finally introduced one homosexual actor.

And yet modern television casts of three or four often include one or more homosexual actor(s). The statistics from the 2000 census are not figures grabbed from the air and placed on a political sign or Web site to promote a particular agenda. These were census data that were carefully collected from the entire United States population, contrary to the limited scope of studies designed to show a genetic cause for homosexuality.


It is one of the most explosive topics in society today. The social and political ramifications affect the very roots of this country. But is the country being told the truth concerning homosexuality? Is there really a genetic basis for homosexuality?

Former democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Governor Howard Dean signed a bill legalizing civil unions for homosexuals in Vermont. In defending his actions, he commented: “The overwhelming evidence is that there is a very significant, substantial genetic component to it. From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people” (as quoted in VandeHei, 2004). Dean is not alone in such thinking.

Homosexual Population Pie ChartMost people are familiar with the idea that research has been performed that allegedly supports the existence of a gay gene. However, that idea has been a long time in the making. Almost fifty years ago, the landmark Kinsey report was produced using the sexual histories of thousands of Americans. While that report consisted of a diverse sample, it was not a representative sample of the general population (Kinsey, et al., 1948, 1953). In 1994, Richard Friedman and Jennifer Downey published a review on homosexuality in The New England Journal of Medicine. In reviewing Kinsey’s work, they noted:

Kinsey reported that 8 percent of men and 4 percent of women were exclusively homosexual for a period of at least three years during adulthood. Four percent of men and 2 percent of women were exclusively homosexual after adolescence (1994, 331:923).

With this “statistical information” in hand, some sought to change the way homosexuality was viewed by both the public and the medical community. Prior to 1973, homosexuality appeared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the official reference book used by the American Psychiatric Association for diagnosing mental disorders in America and throughout much of the rest of the world. Homosexuality was considered a sickness that doctors routinely treated. In 1973, however, it was removed as a sexual disorder, based on the claim that it did not fulfill the “distress and social disability” criteria that were used to define a disorder. Today, there is no mention of homosexuality in the DSM-IV (aside from a section describing gender identity disorder), indicating that individuals with this condition are not suitable candidates for therapy (see American Psychiatric Association, 2000).

Physicians treating patients for homosexuality (to bring about a change in sexual orientation) frequently are reported to ethics committees in an attempt to have them cease. Robert Spitzer lamented:

Several authors have argued that clinicians who attempt to help their clients change their homosexual orientation are violating professional ethical codes by providing a “treatment” that is ineffective, often harmful, and reinforces in their clients the false belief that homosexuality is a disorder and needs treatment (2003, 32:403).

Thus, the stage was set for the appearance of a “gay gene.”


The first “significant” published study that indicated a possible biological role for homosexuality came from Simon LeVay, who was then at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California. In 1991, Dr. LeVay reported subtle differences between the brains of homosexual and heterosexual men (1991). LeVay measured a particular region of the brain (the interstitial nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus—INAH) in postmortem tissue of three distinct groups: (1) women; (2) men who were presumed to be heterosexual; (3) and homosexual men.

LeVay’s Reported Findings

LeVay reported that clusters of these neurons (INAH) in homosexual men were the same size as clusters in women, both of which were significantly smaller than clusters in heterosexual men. LeVay reported that the nuclei in INAH 3 were “more than twice as large in the heterosexual men as in the women. It was also, however, more than twice as large in the heterosexual men as in the homosexual men” (1991, 253:1034). This difference was interpreted as strong evidence of a biological link to homosexuality. LeVay’s assumption was that homosexual urges can be biologically based—so long as cluster size is accepted as being genetically determined.

Diagram showing INAH area

Diagram showing INAHarea. LifeART images copyright © 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Problems with LeVay’s Study

When looking at the methodology of the LeVay study, one of the key problems is that the study has never been reproduced. As William Byne noted, LeVay’s work

has not been replicated, and human neuroanatomical studies of this kind have a very poor track record for reproducibility. Indeed,procedures similar to those LeVay used to identify nuclei have previously led researchers astray (1994, 270[5]:53, emp. added).

Additionally, of nineteen homosexual subjects used in the study, all had died of complications of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS has been shown to decrease testosterone levels, so it should be expected that those who suffered from that condition would have smaller INAH. Byne continued his comments on LeVay’s work.

His inclusion of a few brains from heterosexual men with AIDS did not adequately address the fact that at the time of death, virtually all men with AIDS have decreased testosterone levels as the result of the disease itself or the side effects of particular treatments. To date, LeVay has examined the brain of only one gay man who did not die of AIDS (270:53).

Furthermore, in a scientific environment where controls and standards are a necessity, LeVay did not possess a complete medical history of the individuals included in his study. He therefore was forced to assume the sexual orientation of the non-AIDS victims as being heterosexual, when some may not have been. In addition, bear in mind that he had no evidence regarding the sexual orientation of the women whose brains he examined. LeVay has admitted:

It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain(as quoted in Byrd, et al., 2001, emp. added).

Many have argued that what LeVay discovered in the brains of those he examined was only aresult of prior behavior, not the cause of it. Mark Breedlove, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, has demonstrated that sexual behavior has an effect on the brain. In referring to his own research, Breedlove commented: “These findings give us proof for what we theoretically know to be the case—that sexual experience can alter the structure of the brain, just as genes can alter it…. [I]t is possible that differences in sexual behavior cause (rather than are caused by) differences in the brain” (as quoted in Byrd, et al., parenthetical item in orig.). Considering this type of research, it makes sense that a homosexual lifestyle (and/or the AIDS condition) could alter the size of the nuclei LeVay was measuring.

What exactly did LeVay find? In actuality, not much. He did observe slight differences between the groups—if you accept the method he used for measuring the size of the neuron clusters (and some researchers do not). When each individual was considered by himself, there was not a significant difference; only when the individuals involved in the study were considered in groups of homosexuals vs. heterosexuals did differences result. Hubbard and Wald commented on this lack of difference:

Though, on average, the size of the hypothalamic nucleus LeVay considered significant was indeed smaller in the men he identified as homosexual, his published data show that the range of sizes of the individual samples was virtually the same as for the heterosexual men. That is, the area was larger in some of the homosexuals than in many of the heterosexual men, and smaller in some of the heterosexual men than in many of the homosexuals. This means that, though the groups showed some difference as groups, there was no way to tell anything about an individual’s sexual orientation by looking at his hypothalamus(1997, pp. 95-96, emp. added).

Being homosexual himself, it is no surprise that LeVay observed: “…[P]eople who think that gays and lesbians are born that way are more likely to support gay rights.” In a Newsweekarticle, LeVay was quoted as saying, “I felt if I didn’t find any [difference in the hypothalamuses], I would give up a scientific career altogether” (as quoted in Gelman, et al., 1992, p. 49). Given how (poorly) twisted LeVay’s data are, and his own personal bias, his abandonment of science may have ultimately been of greater service.

Brain Plasticity—A Fact Acknowledged by All Neuroscientists

Today, scientists are keenly aware of the fact that the brain is not as “hard-wired” or permanently fixed as once thought—an important factor that LeVay failed to acknowledge. One of the properties of plastic is flexibility—many containers are made out of plastic so that they will not shatter when dropped. In a similar manner, the brain was once considered to be rigid, like Ball® jars used for canning—but we now know the brain is “plastic” and flexible, and able to reorganize itself. Research has shown that the brain is able to remodel its connections and grow larger, according to the specific areas that are most frequently utilized. Given that we know today that the brain exhibits plasticity, one must ask if the act of living a homosexual lifestyle itself might be responsible for the difference LeVay noted? Commenting on brain plasticity, Shepherd noted:

The inability to generate new neurons might imply that the adult nervous system is a static, “hard-wired” machine. This is far from the truth. Although new neurons cannot be generated, each neuron retains the ability to form new processes and new synaptic connections (1994).

Interestingly, since Shepherd’s textbook was published, additional research has even documented the ability of neurons to be generated within certain areas of the brain. This information must be considered when examining comparative anatomical experiments such as LeVay’s. These cortical rearrangements that occur are not as simple as unplugging a lamp and plugging it into another socket. The changes observed by researchers indicate that if the brain were represented by a home electrical system, then many of the wires within the walls would be pulled out, rewired to different connections in different rooms, new outlets would appear, and some would even carry different voltages. Due to the colossal connectivity that takes place within the brain, any “rewiring” is, by its very nature, going to have an effect on several areas—such as INAH3. Scientists understand these things, yet LeVay’s work is still mentioned as alleged support for the so-called gay gene.


One of the most frequently cited studies used in promoting the genetics of sexual orientation is a 1952 study by Kallmann. In this famous work, he reported a concordance rate (or genetic association) of 100% for sexual orientation among monozygotic (identical) twins (1952, 115:283). This result, if true, would prove nearly insurmountable for those people who doubt the biological causation of homosexuality. However, Kallmann subsequently conjectured that this perfect concordance was an artifact, possibly due to the fact that his sample was drawn largely from mentally ill and institutionalized men (see Rainer, et al., 1960, 22:259). But Kallmann’s research opened the door to twin studies in regard to sexual orientation.

Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard, researchers at Northwestern University and the Boston University School of Medicine, carried out a similar experiment, examining 56 pairs of identical twins, 54 pairs of fraternal twins, 142 non-twin brothers of twins, and 57 pairs of adoptive brothers (1991, 48:1089-1096). Bailey and Pillard were looking to see if homosexuality was passed on through familial lines, or if one could point to environmental factors as the cause. Their hypothesis: if homosexuality is an inherited trait, then more twin brothers would be expected to have the same orientation than non-twin or non-biological brothers.


  • 52% of identical (monozygotic) twins of homosexual men were homosexual
  • 22% of fraternal (dizygotic) twins were likewise homosexual
  • 11% of adoptive brothers of homosexual men were homosexual
  • 9.2% of non-twin biological siblings reported homosexual orientations (Bailey and Pillard, 1991, “A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation”)
  • 48% of identical twins of homosexual women were likewise homosexual
  • 16% of fraternal (dizygotic) twins were likewise homosexual
  • 6% of adoptive sisters of homosexual women were likewise homosexual (Bailey and Benishay, 1993, “Familial Aggregation of Female Sexual Orientation”)


While the authors acknowledged some of the flaws with their research, they still were quoted in Science News as saying: “Our research shows that male sexual orientation is substantially genetic” (as quoted in Bower, 1992, 141:6). However, the most glaring observation is that clearly not 100% of the identical twins “inherited” homosexuality. If there was, in fact, a “gay gene,” then all of the identical twins should have reported a homosexual orientation. And yet, in nearly half of the twins studied, one brother was not homosexual. In a technical-comment letter in Science, Neil Risch and colleagues pointed out: “The biological brothers and adoptive brothers showed approximately the same rates. This latter observation suggests that there is no genetic component, but rather an environmental component shared in families” (1993, 262:2063). In fact, more adoptive brothers shared homosexuality than non-twin biological brothers. If there was a genetic factor, this result would be counter to the expected trend. Byne and Parsons noted:

However, the concordance rate for homosexuality in nontwin biologic brothers was only 9.2—significantly lower than that required by simple genetic hypothesis, which, on the basis of shared genetic material, would predict similar concordance rates for DZ [dizygotic] twins and nontwin biologic brothers. Furthermore, the fact that the concordance rates were similar for nontwin biologic brothers (9.2%) and genetically unrelated adoptive brothers (11.0%) is at odds with a simple genetic hypothesis, which would predict a higher concordance rate for biological siblings (1993, 50:229).

A more recently published twin study failed to find similar concordance rates. King and McDonald studied 46 homosexual men and women who were twins. The concordance rates that they reported were 10%, or 25% with monozygotic twins—depending on whether or not the bisexuals were included along with the homosexuals. The rates for dizygotic twins were 8% or 12%, again, depending on whether bisexuals were included (King and McDonald, 1992). Byne and Parsons commented: “These rates are significantly lower than those reported by Bailey and Pillard; in comparison of the MZ [monozygotic] concordance rate, including bisexuals (25%), with the comparable figure from Bailey and Pillard (52%)” (p. 230). They went on to observe: “Furthermore, if the concordance rate is similar for MZ and DZ twins, the importance of genetic factors would be considerably less than that suggested by Bailey and Pillard” (p. 230, emp. added).

Another factor that may have had a drastic affect on the results of this study (and other similar studies) centers on methodology. Bailey and Pillard did not study a random sample of homosexuals. Instead, the subjects were recruited through advertisements placed in homosexual publications. This method can be deemed questionable because it is highly dependent on the readership of those publications and on the motives of those who respond. Thus, it may lead to skewed results—for example, inflated rates of concordance in identical twins owing to preferential participation (see Baron, 1993). Hubbard and Wald observed:

The fact that fraternal twins of gay men were roughly twice as likely to be gay as other biological brothers shows that environmental factors are involved, since fraternal twins are no more similar biologically than are other biological brothers. If being a fraternal twin exerts an environmental influence, it does not seem surprising that this should be even truer for identical twins, who the world thinks of as “the same” and treats accordingly, and who often share those feelings of sameness (1997, p. 97).

In summarizing their findings, Byne and Parsons stated: “Critical review shows the evidence favoring a biologic theory to be lacking” (50:228). Commenting on Bailey and Pillard’s report, researchers Billings and Beckwith wrote:

While the authors interpreted their findings as evidence for a genetic basis for homosexuality, we think that the data in fact provide strong evidence for the influence of the environment (1993, p. 60).

When evaluated scientifically, twin studies fail to provide any valid support for the longed-for “gay gene.”


Two years after Simon LeVay’s report, a group led by Dean H. Hamer of the National Cancer Institute allegedly linked male homosexuality to a gene on the X chromosome. His team investigated 114 families of homosexual men. Hamer and his colleagues collected family history information from 76 gay male individuals and 40 gay brother pairs as they searched for incidences of homosexuality among relatives of gay men.

In many families, gay men had gay relatives through maternal lines. Thus, they concluded that a gene for homosexuality might be found on the X chromosome, which is passed from the mother alone. They then used DNA linkage analysis in an effort to find a correlation between inheritance and homosexual orientation.


Because many of the families with a prevalence of homosexual relatives had a common set of DNA markers on the X chromosome, Hamer’s group assumed a genetic etiology. Of the 40 pairs of homosexual brothers he analyzed, Hamer found that 33 exhibited a matching DNAregion called q28—a gene located at the tip of the long arm of the X chromosome. In summarizing their findings, Hamer and colleagues noted: “Our experiments suggest that a locus (or loci) related to sexual orientation lies within approximately 4 million base pairs ofDNA on the tip of the long arm of the X chromosome” (1993, 261:326, parenthetical item in orig.). This discovery prompted Hamer and his colleagues to speculate:

The linkage to markers on Xq28, the subtelomeric region of the long arm of the sex chromosome, had a multipoint lod score of 4.0, indicating a statistical confidence level of more than 99 percent that at least one subtype of male sexual orientation is genetically influenced (261:321, emp. added).

It is important to note that Hamer did not claim to have found a “gay gene,” or even the set of genes, that might contribute to a propensity for homosexuality. According to Chicago Tribune staff writer, John Crewdson, what Hamer claimed to have found was “statistical evidence that such genes exist” (1995).


One of the most significant problems with Hamer’s approach is that he and his colleagues did not feel that it was necessary to check whether any of the heterosexual men in these families shared the marker in question! Would it not be useful to know whether or not this “gay gene” is found in heterosexuals? Even if only a few of them possess the gene, it calls into question what the gene or the self-identification signifies. Additionally, Hamer never explained why the other seven pairs of brothers did not display the same genetic marker. If this is “the gene” for homosexuality, then one must assume all homosexual individuals would possess that particular marker—and yet that was not the case in Hamer’s study.

In a letter to Science, Anne Fausto-Sterling and Evan Balaban pointed out some of the additional problems with Hamer’s study. They noted:

Despite our praise for aspects of Hamer, et al.’s work, we feel it is also important to recognize some of its weaknesses. The most obvious of these is the lack of an adequate control group. Their study demonstrates cosegregation of a trait (which Hamer, et al. have labeled “homosexuality”) with X chromosome markers and the trait’s concordance in homosexual brothers. This cosegregation is potentially meaningful if the mother is heterozygous for the trait. In this case, segregating chromosomes without the markers should show up in nonhomosexual brothers,but Hamer, et al. present no data to that effect (1993, 261:1257, emp. added).

Fausto-Sterling and Balaban continued:

This sensitivity to assumptions about background levels makes Hamer, et al.’s data less robust than the summary in their abstract indicates…. Finally we wish to emphasize a point with which we are sure Hamer, et al. would agree: correlation does not necessarily indicate causation (261:1257).

In other words, Hamer’s methodology leaves something to be desired. One also should keep in mind that Hamer’s sampling was not random, and, as a result, his data may not reflect the real population.

George Rice and his colleagues from Canada looked intently at the gene Xq28. They then observed: “Allele and halotype sharing for these markers was not increased over expectation.These results do not support an X-linked gene underlying male homosexuality” (1999, 284:665, emp. added). Rice, et al., included 182 families in their study. They noted:

It is unclear why our results are so discrepant from Hamer’s original study. Because our study was larger than that of Hamer et al., we certainly had adequate power to detect a genetic effect as large as was reported in that study. Nonetheless, our data do not support the presence of a gene of large effect influencing sexual orientation at position Xq28 (284:667).

That is a tactful way of saying that any claims of having found a “gay gene” were overblown, if not outright false, and that Hamer’s results are dubious at best. Commenting on the study of Rice and his colleagues, Ingrid Wickelgren remarked: “…the Ontario team found that gay brothers were no more likely to share the Xq28 markers than would be expected by chance…. Ebers interprets all these results to mean that the X linkage is all but dead” (1999, 284:571, emp. added).

In June of 1998, University of Chicago psychiatrist Alan Sanders reported at the meeting of the American Psychiatric Association that he, too, had been unable to verify Hamer’s results. Looking for an increase in Xq28 linkage, Sanders’ team studied 54 pairs of gay brothers. As Wickelgren indicated, Sanders’ team had found “only a weak hint—that wasn’t statistically significant—of an Xq28 linkage among 54 gay brother pairs” (284:571). Commenting on the validity of Hamer’s study, Wickelgren quoted George Rice: “Taken together, Rice says, the results ‘suggest that if there is a linkage it’s so weak it’s not important’” (1999, emp. added). Two independent labs failed to reproduce anything even remotely resembling Hamer’s results.


An individual born with diabetes has no hope of changing that condition. Likewise, a child born with Down’s syndrome will carry that chromosomal abnormality throughout his or her life. These individuals are a product of the genes they inherited from their parents. Homosexuality appears to be vastly different. Many people have been able to successfully change their sexual orientation. [Truth be told, some individuals experiment with a variety of sexual partners—male/female—often, going back and forth. One might inquire if the bisexuality denotes the existence of a “bisexual gene?”] Ironically, however, the removal of homosexuality as a designation from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association has kept many physicians from attempting to provide reparative therapy to homosexuals.

Robert Spitzer conducted a study on 200 self-selected individuals (143 males, 57 females) in an effort to see if participants could change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual (2003, 32:403-417). He reported some minimal change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation that lasted at least five years (p. 403). Spitzer observed:

The majority of participants gave reports of change from a predominantly or exclusively homosexual orientation before therapy to a predominantly or exclusively heterosexual orientation in the past year (p. 403).

In summarizing his findings, Spitzer declared: “Thus, there is evidence that change in sexual orientation following some form of reparative therapy does occur in some gay men and lesbians.” He thus concluded: “This study provides evidence that some gay men and lesbians are able to also change the core features of sexual orientation” (p. 415).

Six years earlier, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) released the results of a two-year study stating:

Before treatment, 68 percent of the respondents perceived themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual, with another 22 percent stating that they were more homosexual than heterosexual. After treatment, only 13 percent perceived themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual, while 33 percent described themselves as either exclusively or almost entirely heterosexual (see Nicolosi, 2000, 86:1071).

The study also reported:

Although 83 percent of respondents indicated that they entered therapy primarily because of homosexuality, 99 percent of those who participated in the survey said they now believe treatment to change homosexuality can be effective and valuable (p. 1071).

These data are consistent with the ongoing research project of Rob Goetze, who has identified 84 articles or books that contain some relevance to the possibility of sexual orientation change (2004). Of the data reported, 31 of the 84 studies showed a quantitative outcome of individuals able to change sexual orientation. These are not studies that merely speculate on the ability to change; they actually have the numbers to back it up! All of these data come on the heels of warnings from the Surgeon General, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and all of the major mental health associations, which have issued position statements warning of possible harm from such therapy, and have asserted that there is no evidence that such therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation. For instance, the 1998 American Psychiatric Association Position Statement on Psychiatric Treatment and Sexual Orientation noted:

…there is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation…. The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior (see American Psychiatric Association, 1999, p. 1131).

Thus, physicians are caught in a quandary of a double standard. On the one hand, they are told that it is “unethical” for a clinician to provide reparative therapy because homosexuality is not a diagnosable disorder, and thus one should not seek to change. Yet, they contend that not enough studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of reparative therapy. The message is loud and clear: “Do not do this because it is unethical to ask a homosexual person to change. However, truth be told, we have not collected enough data to know if a person can safely change his or her sexual orientation.”

In situations where sexual orientation is being measured, studies face serious methodological problems (i.e., follow-up assessment, possible bias, no detailed sexual history, random sampling, etc.). But even given these serious shortcomings from behavioral studies such as these, there are sufficient data to indicate that an individual can change his or her sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual—something that would be an impossibility if homosexuality were caused by genetics.


Consider the obvious problem of survival for individuals who allegedly possess a gay gene:individuals who have partners of the same sex are biologically unable to reproduce (without resorting to artificial means). Therefore, if an alleged “gay gene” did exist, the homosexual population eventually would disappear altogether. We now know that it is not scientifically accurate to refer to a “gay gene” as the causative agent in homosexuality. The available evidence clearly establishes that no such gene has been identified. Additionally, evidence exists which documents that homosexuals can change their sexual orientation. Future decisions regarding policies about, and/or treatment of, homosexuals should reflect this knowledge.


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An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality


Dave Miller, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.


[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a two-part series that we authored on the issue of homosexuality. The first part (“ ‘This is the Way God Made Me’—A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the ‘Gay Gene’ ”) appeared in the August 2004 issue of Reason & Revelation.]

Nothing less than “complete and total acceptance!” This often is the answer given when homosexual activists are asked what they are seeking from the public in general. Such activists equate acceptance with civil liberties and equality. They believe that those individuals who do not accept the homosexual “lifestyle” are committing the unpardonable sin—the sin of intolerance (see Bloom, 1987, p. 25). In fact, certain school systems today actively teach youngsters the idea that we must embrace every concept that society popularizes, else we will be unloving and intolerant. Thus, many children are quietly convinced from a very young age that if they do not give everyone “complete and total acceptance,” then they are bigoted and mean spirited.

Using books like Heather Has Two Mommies or Daddy’s Roommate, teachers have begun instructing that there are essentially no right or wrong actions when it comes to relationships and families. Anything goes, as long as “love” is the ultimate motivation. Consider the message that children receive when they sit in classrooms filled with pictures of family units composed of two female “parents” or two male “parents,” alongside a picture of a husband and wife. [James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, has suggested: “The number one issue for the family today is the homosexual activist agenda“ (as quoted in Floyd, 2004, p. 49).] Homosexual activists argue that some homosexual couples show more love than heterosexual couples, so where is the harm? By focusing attention on love and acceptance, homosexual activists have successfully taken the spotlight off of their immoral behavior and abnormal acts. Students are told that homosexual parents are “normal,” and that they should be “accepted.” If a student rejects that tact, then he or she is labeled as (gulp!) “intolerant.”

Those who actually graduate from the halls of academia, and yet still object to homosexuality, are castigated as “homophobes,” “hatemongers,” “bigots,” “sexists,” “puritanical fanatics,” “religious fundamentalists,” etc. Homosexuality no longer is referred to as sodomy (the longtime historical term for same-sex relations), but rather as an “alternative lifestyle.” The media do not view homosexuality as sin, but rather as a valuable contribution to “diversity.” Individuals (or organizations) who dare to speak out against homosexuality in order to expose it as an immoral practice, often are confronted by militant activists who work diligently to spin the issue back into a “civil rights” matter.

Unfortunately, the success of the homosexual movement in this area has resulted in numerous Christians remaining silent, for fear of being labeled as hatemongers—or worse. Some Christians seem to have forgotten the words of the Savior:

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake (Matthew 5:10-11).

Yet, the homosexual’s quest for “complete and total acceptance” often goes unchallenged because the Scriptures have been twisted and perverted to accept “alternative lifestyles,” while believers in Bible morality have been effectively silenced. That silence has allowed the social engineers of “political correctness” to achieve significant success in reversing the historically universal rejection by American civilization of the legality, political legitimacy, and social propriety of homosexuality, with the most recent being “gay marriages.”

Monday, May 17, 2004, was a day that will live in moral and spiritual infamy. Homosexual and lesbian couples were granted by the state of Massachusetts the right to marry—the first state in U.S. history to do so. On November 18, 2003, four activist justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Court paved the way for this occurrence by ruling that the Commonwealth must recognize the right of homosexual couples to marry (“Is Homosexual Marriage…?,” 2003). Perhaps this should not be surprising, since only five months earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its historically and constitutionally unprecedented elimination of state sodomy laws (“Lawrence…,” 2003)—a reversal of the high court’s own 1986 decision that upheld state sodomy laws and reinforced the historic stance that homosexuality is not a constitutional right (“Bowers…,” 1986).

In the midst of this reshaping of societal sensibilities, some who wish to retain their affiliation with the Bible, but also maintain political correctness, insist that the Bible itself teaches that same-sex relations are not inherently sinful. They argue that the Bible, in fact,condones homosexuality in the same way, and to the same extent, that it approves of heterosexuality.


As the militant pressures of homosexual activists penetrate various realms of society, homosexuality slowly but methodically has begun to spread into various denominations. Homosexual theologians and individuals with a specific agenda have been effective at obscuring the true issues. For instance, Peter J. Gomes, a self-confessed homosexual—and a Baptist minister—alleges that the use of the Bible to condemn homosexuality is the end result of simplistic interpretative methods that reflect a failure to comprehend the context in which the Scriptures were written. Such proceduralism he calls “textual harassment.” These attacks flow easily, of course, from those who reject the plain testimony of God’s Word in the interest of their own personal agenda. For example, Gomes tries to create an artificial distinction in types of homosexual relationships. At first, he contends that Paul, in his various letters, merely was condemning the “debauched pagan expression” of homosexuality; later, he alleges that the apostle hardly can be faulted for his ignorance, since he knew nothing of “the concept of a homosexual nature” (1996, p. 158). He also suggests (p. 25) that there was a homosexual relationship between David and Jonathan—a notion not even remotely reflected in the Old Testament narrative regarding these great men. Gomes obviously is desperate to find some semblance of support for his aberrant lifestyle.

On March 7, 2004, V. Gene Robinson—an open homosexual who has lived with his “partner” Mark Andrew—became the ninth bishop of New Hampshire for the Episcopal Church. During his investiture, he remarked: “Journeys of faith, you know, are a risky business. God is always calling us out of our comfort zone” (see Diocese of New Hampshire, 2004). At the conclusion of that service, Robinson disclosed: “I’m just having the best time being your bishop. The rest of the world is watching us. This is going to be a great adventure.” Adventure indeed! Currently Michael W. Hopkins and Susan N. Blue, two priests who favor same-sex blessings, are leading an Episcopal diocesan task force to develop a same-sex “blessing ceremony” (Benson, 2004, p. 19). The Episcopal Church is struggling to prevent a major split in that denomination between those who disagree with Robinson’s appointment as bishop, and the new direction that the Episcopal Church is going. As Ronnie Floyd put it in his book, The Gay Agenda, when the decision to accept Robinson as a church bishop was made, “both rejoicing and lamentation broke out in that denomination as never before” (2004, p. 14).

This major news story fell on the heels of other denominations that already have begun to accept homosexual preachers or priests. In America, five of the major denominations openly “ordain” homosexuals as ministers, and recognize same-sex marriages (Floyd, p. 46). In Australia, the Uniting Church—the third largest church in the country—has become that country’s first mainstream denomination to accept homosexual priests (Little, 2003). The president of Australia’s Uniting church, Dean Drayton, said that the church had been living in what he referred to as “the messy middle” for six years, and thus has voted to formalize the unofficial tolerance and allow the ordination of openly gay ministers (Little, 2003).

The United Methodist Church (UMC) also is trying to maintain some sense of direction, having “been in turmoil over the issue for decades” (Floyd, p. 48). In fact, in early 2004, theUMC carried out an ecclesiastical trial (and subsequent exoneration!) of self-professed lesbian “minister” Karen Dammann. The Methodist Book of Discipline contains a number of clauses relating to homosexuality, such as, “Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals* are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” The asterisk (*) by the word “homosexuals” refers to a footnote at the bottom of the page, which reads as follows: “ ‘Self-avowed practicing homosexual’ is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, board of ordained ministry or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual” (Par. 304.3). And yet, 13 ministers from Dammann’s own conference did not uphold these basic tenets. Her defense counsel, Robert Ward, observed that the Church should not elevate “a few, select paragraphs” of the Discipline above another passage that spoke in vague terms of “inclusiveness” (Vitagliano, 2004). Georgia Methodist bishops Michael Watson and Lindsey Davis protested vociferously:

[I]t is a clear sign of rebellion when a group chooses to flagrantly ignore [The Book of Discipline], substituting their own perspective for the corporate wisdom [of the church] (Vitagliano).

In many instances, the Bible has been completely discarded, as many denominations not only overlook the sin of homosexuality, but even embrace it. Groups such as “More Light” (a Presbyterian organization that is “seeking the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church”) are becoming common within denominations that are trying to bolster their numbers. Church slogans with words like tolerance, inclusiveness, and love are now being touted, and are paraded on banners and in commercials—neglecting any precepts from the Word of God. Thus, religious groups all over the world are scrambling to determine on which side of the homosexual fence they want to be found.


Homosexuality in the Patriarchal Period

What, precisely, is God’s will concerning human sexuality? That will was demonstrated originally in the creation of the first human beings: “Male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27). God’s decision to create a female counterpart to the male was not coincidental. The female uniquely met three essential criteria: (1) “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18); (2) a helper, suitable to him, was needed (Genesis 2:18,20); and (3) the human race was to be perpetuated through sexual union (Genesis 1:28). Both Jesus and Paul reiterated this same understanding (Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:2). So the woman was: (a) the divine antidote to Adam’s loneliness; (b) a helper fit for him; and (c) the means of the propagation of the human race. Here, we see the divine arrangement for the human species.

Not long after God set into motion the created order—which He had pronounced as “very good” (Genesis 1:31)—man began to tamper with the divine will, and altered God’s original intentions concerning human sexuality. Lamech—not God—introduced polygamy into the world (Genesis 4:19). God could have created two women for Adam, but He did not. Rather, He made one man for one woman for life. That is the divine will—“male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27; cf. Matthew 19:1-9). Genesis 19:1-11 now comes into view.

Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to sojourn, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door (vss. 4-11).

Defenders of homosexuality who seek justification for their viewpoint from the Bible have pursued a revisionist interpretation of the account of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (along with Admah and Zeboiim, Deuteronomy 29:23). This passage has traditionally been understood to be a denunciation of homosexuality. This understanding has been so universal that the word “sodomy” was incorporated into English vernacular as referring to “any of various forms of sexual intercourse held to be unnatural or abnormal, especially anal intercourse or bestiality” (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000, p. 1651). How may the account of Sodom be reinterpreted to place same-sex relationships in a favorable light? Two explanations have been offered in an effort to promote the biblical legitimacy of homosexuality.

(1) Inhospitality or Homosexuality?

The first claim maintains that the men of Sodom simply were guilty of inhospitality. The text says that the men of Sodom insisted on Lot bringing the angelic visitors out to them, “that we may know them” (Genesis 19:5). It thus is argued that “know” refers to their intention to meet, greet, get to know, or become acquainted with the visitors. However, contextual indicators exclude the feasibility of this interpretation.

First, while the Hebrew verb translated “know” (yada) has a wide range of meanings, including “to get to know” or “to become acquainted” (for the most part, the nuances of the Hebrew verb parallel the corresponding English verb), Hebrew, in common with other ancient languages, also used “know” as a euphemism for sexual intercourse (Genesis 4:1; 19:8). Other Semitic euphemisms similarly used include “lie with” (2 Samuel 11:4), “uncover the nakedness of ” (Leviticus 18), “go in unto” (Genesis 16:2; 38:2), and “touch” (Genesis 20:6; Proverbs 6:29; 1 Corinthians 7:1). Ancient languages that shared this figurative use of “know” included Egyptian, Akkadian, and Ugaritic (Botterweck, 1986, pp. 455-456,460), as well as Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Greek (Gesenius, 1979, p. 334). When Hebrew scholars define “know,” as used in Genesis 19:5, they use terminology like “sexual perversion” (Harris, et al., 1980, 1:366), “homosexual intercourse” (Botterweck, 1986, 5:464), and “crimes against nature” (Gesenius, p. 334).

Second, if “know” simply means “to get acquainted,” why did the Bible writers repeatedly use forms of the word “wicked” to refer to the actions of the Sodomites? Lot pleaded, “Do not do so wickedly!” (Genesis 19:7). Moses, by inspiration, already had given God’s assessment in the words, “But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord” (Genesis 13:13); “their sin is very grievous” (Genesis 18:20). Peter referred to the “filthy conduct of the wicked” sodomites and their “lawless deeds” (2 Peter 2:7-8). But “getting acquainted” is not “wicked”! In fact, if the men of Sodom were nothing more than a group of friendly, civic-minded neighbors who sought to make the visitors welcome to their city, God surely would have commended them—not condemned them!

Third, if “know” simply means “to get to know,” then why did Lot offer his virgin daughters to the men? He would not have offered his daughters for the purpose of the men “getting to know” or “becoming acquainted” with them. The daughters were already residents of Sodom, and would have been known to the men. Lot was offering his daughters to the men assexual alternatives. Lot specifically said: “I have two daughters who have not known a man” (Genesis 19:8, emp. added). “Known” is another reference to sexual intercourse. Lot referred to their sexual status for the very reason that these men were interested in sexual impropriety. As astonishing and objectionable to us as it may seem for a father to sacrifice his own daughters in such a fashion, it verifies the fact that the unnatural lust of homosexuality was considered far more repugnant than even illicit heterosexuality. Scholars have further noted that in antiquity, a host was to protect his guests at the cost of his own life (Whitelaw, 1950, 1:253).

Fourth, the men of Sodom threatened Lot with the words, “we will deal worse with you than with them” (Genesis 19:9). If their intention was simply to “get to know” the male visitors, what would “dealing worse” with Lot entail? Perhaps it would have entailed their becoming so thoroughly “acquainted” with Lot that they would perpetually remain in his presence and make a pest of themselves? Maybe they intended to impose on Lot’s hospitality to the point that they would monopolize his living room couch, consume all of his snack foods, and refuse to vacate his home at a courteous hour?

In a further effort to achieve sanction for homosexuality, attention has been directed to the words of Jesus in His commissioning of the Seventy. He instructed them, in their evangelistic travels, to enter into those cities that would receive them and to feel free to partake of their hospitality (Luke 10:7-8). However, should a city fail to receive them, they were to shake the dust off their feet against the city (Luke 10:10-11). Jesus then declared: “It will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city” (Luke 10:12). Defenders and practitioners of same-sex relations claim that Jesus was drawing a comparison between the inhospitality of Sodom and the cities that the disciples would encounter. They claim that the inhospitality of a city that would reject Christ’s emissaries would be a greater evil than Sodom’s inhospitable treatment of the angelic visitors.

However, if “hospitality” was the issue at stake in Sodom, the Sodomites should have been commended, since they only wanted to “get to know” and be hospitable to the visitors. In fact, Lot should have been the one condemned, since he attempted to deter the hospitable overtures of the “Welcome Wagon.” In reality, the words of Jesus in Luke 10 were not directed against the cities’ refusal to be hospitable toward the disciples. Rather, He condemned them for their refusal to accept the teaching of the disciples. Jesus pinpointed their task when He warned: “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me” (Luke 10:16). Jesus placed Sodom at the top of the list of the most notoriously wicked cities of antiquity. He stressed the fact that to reject Christ and the Gospel would be a far greater offense than what the most wicked city in human history ever did. What the inhabitants of Sodom did was repulsive, repugnant, disgusting, and incredibly depraved. But to reject the antidote to sin is the ultimate insult and the final infraction against God!

Yet another argument marshaled in an effort to justify homosexuality concerns the allusions in the prophets to Sodom. Isaiah (3:9), Jeremiah (23:14), and Ezekiel (16:49) all refer to the sinfulness of Sodom, but none explicitly mentioned homosexuality as the problem. In fact, Ezekiel pinpointed the specific sins of “pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness,” as well as her unwillingness to aid the poor and needy. In response, we should not be surprised that a city that was guilty of sexual perversion also would be guilty of additional violations of God’s will.

Isaiah, in his discussion of Sodom, did not specify a particular sin, but merely noted how brazen and open the Sodomites were with their sin: “The look on their countenance witnesses against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom; they do not hide it.” Interestingly, this depiction is very apropos of the “in-your-face” attitude of those who seek to advance the homosexual agenda in our day. Jeremiah made essentially the same point in his comparison between Judah and Sodom when he wrote that “no one turns back from his wickedness.” He, too, was noting the sodomites’ blatant, unbending, determined intention to proceed with their sin. Ezekiel, though mentioning the additional sins that we have listed above, nevertheless referred repeatedly to Sodom’s “abomination” (16:50; cf., vs. 43,47,51,52,58). Moses also linked “abomination” with homosexual activity (Leviticus 18:22).

(2) Homosexual Rape?

The second explanation offered to justify homosexual relations is that the men of Sodom were not condemned for their homosexuality, but for their inhospitable intention to engage in homosexual rape. Rape, some suggest (whether homosexual or heterosexual), being nonconsensual, is wrong, and is worthy of condemnation. However, this extension of the inhospitality quibble is likewise contextually indefensible. First, if gang rape was the issue, why did Lot offer his daughters in exchange for the visitors? Rape would have been at issue in both cases. Lot’s offer of his daughters indicated his clear concern over gender and same-sex relations. Second, the men of Sodom were declared wicked and guilty of “very grievous” sin before the visitors ever came to town (Genesis 18:20).

Third, Jude cinched the matter in his discussion of the sin of Sodom. He wrote that Sodom and her sister cities had “given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh” (Jude 7). “Given themselves over to sexual immorality” is a translation of the compound word ekporneusasai, which combines the verb porneuo (to commit illicit sexual intercourse) with the preposition ek (out of). The attachment of the prepositional prefix indicates intensification, i.e., that the men of Sodom possessed “a lust that gluts itself” (Thayer, 1977, p. 199). Their sexual appetites took them beyond the range of normal sexual activity. The idea of force or coercion is not in the meaning of the word. “Strange” refers to “one not of the same nature, form, class, kind” (Thayer, p. 254), and so pertains to the indulgence of passions that are “contrary to nature” (Barnes, 1949, p. 392)—“a departure from the laws of nature in the impurities practiced” (Salmond, 1950, 22:7). The frequent allusion to “nature” by scholars is interesting, in view of the fact that Scripture elsewhere links same-sex relations with that which is “against nature” (Romans 1:26-27) or unnatural, i.e., out of harmony with God’s original arrangement of nature (e.g., Genesis 1:27; 2:22; Matthew 19:4-6). Summarizing, Jude asserted that the sin of Sodom was homosexualrelations—not homosexual rape.

Fourth, homosexuality itself is specifically condemned in Scripture. Under the Law of Moses, God made homosexuality a capital crime, and stipulated that both participants in the illicit sexual activity were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:13). God would not have required the innocent victim of homosexual rape to be executed along with the rapist.

American culture may well reach the point where the majority approves of homosexuality as acceptable behavior. And those who disapprove may well be accused of being “politically incorrect,” intolerant, and “homophobic.” It surely is reminiscent of our day to observe that when Lot urged the sodomites not to do “so wickedly,” the men accused Lot of beingjudgmental (Genesis 19:9; cf. Deuteronomy 23:17-18). Nevertheless, the objective, unbiased reader of the Bible is forced to conclude that God destroyed the men of Sodom on account of their sinful practice of homosexuality.

Homosexuality in the Mosaic Period

In addition to the pre-Mosaic, Patriarchal Period of history, God made clear His will on this matter when He handed down the Law of Moses to the Israelite nation. In a chapter dealing almost exclusively with sexual regulations, His words are explicit and unmistakable.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination…. Do not defile yourselves with any of these things,…lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you (Leviticus 18:22-30).

If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them (Leviticus 20:13).

We suggest that a reader would need help to misunderstand these injunctions.

Another graphic account is presented during the period of the judges, which was a time of spiritual and moral depravity and decay—the “Dark Ages” of Jewish history. Judges 19 records that “sons of Belial” (i.e., wicked scoundrels) surrounded a house where travelers had taken refuge for the night. As in Sodom, they desired to “know” the male guests (vs. 22). The host, like Lot, knew exactly what they meant, as is evident from the fact that, like Lot, he offered them a sexual alternative (which, of course, God did not approve). Their sexual desire was labeled as “wickedness,” “outrage,” “vileness,” “lewdness,” and “evil” (Judges 19:23-24; 20:3,6,10,12,13). The rest of the Old Testament corroborates this judgment of same-sex relations. For example, during the period of the kings, Josiah instituted sweeping moral and religious reforms, including tearing down the homes of the Sodomites (2 Kings 23:7).

Homosexuality in the New Testament Period

The New Testament is equally definitive in its uncompromising and unquestioned condemnation of illicit sexual activity. Paul summarized the “unrighteous” and “ungodly” behavior of the Gentile nations, and declared:

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their womenexchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting. …who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:26-32, emp. added).

Observe that “God gave them up” to “vile passions.” Other renderings include “lusts of dishonor” (Bengel, 1971, 2:26), “passions of dishonor” (Lenski, 1951, p. 113), and “passions which bring dishonour” (Cranfield, 1985, p. 125). The passions to which the heathen nations were given are declared to be vile and debased. Barrett observed: “No feature of pagan society filled the Jew with greater loathing than the toleration, or rather admiration, of homosexual practices” (1967, p. 39). In fact, Melina noted that homosexuality is the sin that lies at the heart of idolatry. Therefore the Jews despised this practice that defiled both the soul as well as the body (1998, 25:57-68). The “women” and “men” (i.e., the “females” and “males” of verse 26) had descended “to the brutish level of being nothing but creatures of sex” (Lenski, p. 113; Bengel, 2:26).

The contrast between the “natural” and the “unnatural” shows that the Gentiles had “left aside and thus discarded” the natural form of intercourse between a man and his wife (Lenski, p. 113). The fact that this exchange involved sexual intercourse is well established (Bauer, 1979, p. 886; Cranfield, p. 125). And Lenski adds, “It was bad enough to sin with males, vastly worse and the very limit of vice to sin as they did” (p. 114). Kent Hughes observed that Paul singled out homosexuality “because it is obviously unnatural and therefore underlines the extent to which sin takes mankind” (1991, p. 43). Indeed, same-sex relations were “quite prevalent in the Greco-Roman society in which he [Paul] lived” (Fitzmyer, 1993, p. 275).

Paul’s observation that homosexual activity goes “against nature” harks back to the Creation model when God created the first human beings (Genesis 1:26). Homosexual practices go against the natural pattern established by God when He created “male and female” (Deyoung, 1988, pp. 429-441). Such behavior is “contrary to the intention of the Creator” (Cranfield, p. 123). Therefore, homosexuality goes against the natural order of marriage, not of Jews or Gentiles; the marriage bed should be undefiled in all nationalities and cultures.

The males mentioned in verse 27 are equally as debased as their previously discussed female counterparts. Being “set on fire” with lust for each other, one must realize that “[t]he moment God is taken out of the control in men’s life, the stench of sex aberration is bound to arise. It is so in the world to this day. Without God sex runs wild” (Lenski, p. 115). One of the consequences that follows for those who engage in homosexual relations is that they receive “in themselves the penalty of their error which was due”—“the vicious effect of the unnatural sexual vices upon men’s own bodies and their minds, corruption, destroying, disintegrating” (p. 116).

Such forthright words—“set on fire”—from an inspired apostle are set against a specific social and cultural milieu. In his survey of homosexuality in Western Europe from the beginning of the Christian era to the 14th century, John Boswell depicted how Rome had a severe problem with homosexuality, contributing significantly to the glorification and proliferation of homosexual activity. He noted that 14 out of the first 15 Roman emperors were homosexuals, and spent 25 pages detailing facts that prove Rome to have been a hotbed of homosexual activity. For example, during the Augustan reign, the government not only allowed male homosexual prostitutes to operate on her streets, but also taxed them and gave them a national day off work (1980, p. 70). The Emperor Hadrian, called by some “the most outstanding of the ‘five good emperors,’ ” according to Boswell, “appears to have been exclusively gay” (p. 84). Dupont adds that “it was said of Caesar that he was the ‘husband of all women and the wife of all husbands,’ ” identifying his bisexual nature (1993, p. 117). One needs only peruse any reputable historical account of the life and times of the average Roman citizen to see that homosexual activity played a major role in the politics, recreations, and commerce of the first century. It is no surprise then that the apostle Paul spoke so stringently on such practices.

Those who attempt to soften or contradict the clear teaching of Paul in Romans 1 regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality sometimes attempt to sidestep the clear import of the passage by insisting that it applied only to its original recipients. Boswell claimed that the idea of the passage is not to “stigmatize sexual behavior but to condemn Gentiles for their general infidelity” (p. 108). Martin has suggested that Paul referred to the Gentile culture, not the “universal human condition” (1995, p. 338). But is Romans 1:26-27 a “cultural chastisement,” or a universal condemnation? The immediate context (1:18-3:20) consists of God’s pronouncement that all humans in every culture and nation are under sin—“all the world” (3:19). In fact, the entire book of Romans is the New Testament’s flagship declaration of the means of justification for all persons—“everyone” (Romans 1:16). Hence, the condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1 is parallel to its like condemnation of murder, deceit, covetousness, and all the other sins itemized by Paul.

One final observation regarding Romans 1 is noteworthy. Not only is God displeased with those who participate in homosexual behavior, but Paul indicates that He is equally displeased with those who are supportive of such conduct—even if they do not engage in the activity themselves. The wording is: “[T]hose who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (vs. 32). On this count alone, many have earned the disapproval of God.

Compare Paul’s remarks to the church at Rome with the question he posed to the Corinthian church:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, emp. added).

The Greek word translated “homosexual” in this passage is a metaphorical use of a term that literally means “soft,” and when referring to people, refers to males allowing themselves to be used sexually by other males. Again, lexicographers apply the term to the person who is a “catamite,” i.e., a male who submits his body to another male for unnatural lewdness—i.e., homosexually (Thayer, p. 387; Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 489).

“Sodomites” (“abusers of themselves with mankind” in the KJV) is a translation of the termarsenokoitai. It derives from two words: arsein (a male) and koitei (a bed), and refers to one who engages in sex with a male as with a female (Thayer, p. 75). Paul used the same term when he wrote to Timothy to discuss certain behaviors that are both “contrary to sound doctrine” and characteristic of the one who is not “a righteous man” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).

As D. Gene West correctly observed regarding Paul’s letter to Timothy:

We can see from the context that homosexual activities are classed with such sins as patricide, matricide, homicide, kidnapping, and perjury. If we accept that any of these things are sins, we must accept that all are sins. If it is a sin to be a whoremonger, to pursue a lascivious life with prostitutes, then it is likewise a sin to engage in homosexual acts. There is no way to escape that conclusion. If it is a sin to murder one’s father, or mother, or some other human being, then it is a sin for both males and females to “cohabitate” (2004).

When Paul said to the Christians at Corinth, “such were some of you,” he proved not only that homosexuals may be forgiven, but that they can cease such sinful activity. Here we have a clear biblical indication that someone can change their sexual orientation, and can be forgiven of a past immoral lifestyle. We are forced to conclude that sexual activity between persons of the same sex is not a matter of genetics; but is a behavioral phenomenon associated largely with environmental factors (see the August 2004 issue of Reason and Revelation).


Homosexuality is only one of many departures from God’s will for human morality and sexuality that society is facing. The Greek term for fornication, porneia, is a broad term that covers every form of illicit sexual intercourse, including adultery, incest, bestiality, bigamy, polygamy, bisexuality, homosexuality, pedophilia, necrophilia, and more. Our sex-crazed society is so promiscuous, and so estranged from God’s view of human sexuality, that our public schools consider it appropriate to teach children to simply “take precautions” when they engage in sexual escapades outside of marriage. But God never encouraged people to practice that kind of “safe sex.” The Bible definition of “safe sex” is sex that is confined to a divinely authorized, scriptural marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2-5). God insists that people can, and must, exercise self-control, self-discipline, and moral responsibility. The Bible teaches that we are not to be self-indulgent. We are to put restraints on ourselves, controlling our sexual urges in accordance with God’s teachings.

Encouraging young people simply to “take precautions” only encourages additional illicit behavior. It encourages more promiscuity. It contributes to an increase—not a decrease—in the number of pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Despite several decades of having inundated our schools with sex education and the promotion of so-called “safe sex,” the statisticians inform us that in the next thirty days alone, 83,850 unwed girls will become pregnant in this country (“Teens in Crisis,” 2001, p. 1). The liberals’ “solution” has not worked. In fact, the problem has greatly worsened.

The depths to which our country has slumped morally is evinced by the legality of the distribution birth control devices to students, and the illegality to distribute Bibles or to teach Bible principles. The time has come for our nation to wake up, and for all citizens to understand that freedom requires restraint. Rights require personal responsibility. People must take responsibility for their personal choices, and accept the consequences of their own actions. Paul declared: “flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18). He did not write, “engage in ‘safe’ fornication”! There is no such thing as “safe” sin or “safe” immorality, because all sin is damning (James 1:15). God said a person must run away from it, resist it, and reject it (2 Corinthians 6:18). To a youth, Paul said: “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). The writer of Hebrews insisted that the marriage bed is to be kept “undefiled.” “[F]ornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). There should not be so much as a hint of sexual immorality among Christians (Ephesians 5:3).

Please understand: God loves all sinners—regardless of the specific sins they have committed. But it is imperative that we be about the business of alerting those who are engaged in sexual sin regarding God’s will, in an effort to “snatch them out of the fire” (Jude 23), and to “save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). One day it will be too late for both those who “not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). Indeed, the “sexually immoral…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).

Sexual sin undoubtedly will go down in history as one of the major contributors to the moral and spiritual deterioration, decline, and downfall of American society. Homosexuality is one more glaring proof of the sexual anarchy that prevails in American civilization. One wonders how much longer such widespread unchastity can continue in our land before God will “visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:25). We know today that homosexuality is not caused by genetics (see Harrub, et al., 2004). It is not “nature,” but “nurture” that is responsible. It is not a life “style,” but rather a life “choice.” And it is wrong.

Every society in human history that has followed a course of moral and spiritual depravity has either been destroyed by God or has imploded from within. Like these previous civilized nations, our society will not be permitted to survive indefinitely into the future—unless, of course, God is prepared to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.


American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.

Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).

Barnes, Albert (1949 reprint), Barnes’ Notes on the Old and New Testaments—James-Jude(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Barrett, C.K. (1967), A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, ed. Henry Chadwick (London: Black).

Bauer, Walter (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans., rev., and ed. William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition.

Bengel, John Albert (1971), New Testament Word Studies, trans. Charlton Lewis and Marvin Vincent (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel).

Benson, Rusty (2004), “Paper vs. Practice,” AFA Journal, 28[5]:17-19, May.

Bloom, Allan (1987), The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon and Schuster).

Boswell, John (1980), Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).

Botterweck, G. Johannes and Helmer Ringgren (1986), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

“Bowers v. Hardwick et al.” (1986), [On-line], URL:

Cranfield, C.E.B. (1985), A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans,ed. J.A. Emmerton and C.E.B. Cranfield (Edinburgh: Clark).

Deyoung, James B. (1988), “The Meaning of ‘Nature’ in Romans and Its Implications for Biblical Proscriptions of Homosexual Behavior,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 31:429-441.

Diocese of New Hampshire (2004), “Our Search Process,” [On-line], URL: http://www.nh

Dupont, Florence (1993), Daily Life in Ancient Rome, trans. Christopher Woodall (Cambridge: Blackwell).

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. (1993), Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary(New York: Doubleday).

Floyd, Ronnie W. (2004), The Gay Agenda (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press).

Gesenius, William (1979), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Gomes, Peter J. (1996), The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (New York: William Morrow).

Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer Jr., and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).

Harrub, Brad and Dave Miller (2004), “ ‘This is the Way God Made Me’—A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the ‘Gay Gene,’ ” Reason & Revelation, 24:73-79, August.

Hughes, R. Kent (1991), Righteousness from Heaven (Wheaton, IL: Crossway).

“Is Homosexual Marriage a Constitutional Right?” (2003), The Bill of Rights Institute, [On-line], URL:

“Lawrence et al. v. Texas” (2003), [On-line], URL: 000&invol=02-102.

Lenski, R. C. H. (1951), The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Columbus, OH: Wartburg).

Little, Jane (2003), “Australia Church Accepts Gay Priests,” BBC NEWS, [On-line], URL:

Martin, Dale B. (1995), “Heterosexuality and the Interpretation of Romans 1.18-32,” Biblical Interpreter, 3:332-355.

Melina, Livio (1998), “Homosexual Inclination as an Objective Disorder: Reflections of Theological Anthropology,” Communio-International Catholic Review, 25:57-68.

Salmond, S.D.F. (1950), The Pulpit Commentary—Jude, ed. H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

“Teens in Crisis” (2001), Teen Help (Las Vegas, NV: World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools).

Thayer, Joseph H. (1977 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Vitagliano, Ed (2004), “Mutiny Among the Methodists,” AFA Journal, 28[5]:20-21, May.

West, D. Gene (2004), “Homosexuality, Alternative or Deviate Lifestyle” [a tract], (Moundsville, WV).

Whitelaw, Thomas (1950), The Pulpit Commentary—Genesis, ed. H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).


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August 2, 2014

Hebrews Chapter 3

Filed under: Bible,Hebrews,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 6:47 pm


The writer has presented Jesus Christ as being superior to the prophets and to angels. Now he transitions into presenting Jesus as superior to another Jewish Moses_2_burning_bushreligious icon. 


1  Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2  who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.


1. Why bring Moses into this discussion?

This section presents the superiority of Jesus over the highly revered Moses. The Lord had spoken with Moses “face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex 33:11) and had given the law to him (Ne 9:13, 14). The commandments and rituals of the law were the Jews’ supreme priorities, and to them Moses and the law were synonymous. Both the OT and the NT refer to the commands of God as the “law of Moses” (Jos 8:31; 1Ki 2:3; Lk 2:22; Ac 13:39). Yet, as great as Moses was, Jesus was infinitely greater. MSBN

While Moses was one of God’s most faithful servants (vv. 2, 5), Jesus is the faithful high priest and Son of God. Thus Jesus is worthy of more glory (vv. 1–2, 6). This leads to exhortations and warnings (3:6–4:13). ESVN

“The author steadily develops his argument that Jesus is supremely great. He is greater than the angels, the author of a great salvation, and great enough to become man to accomplish it. Now the author turns his attention to Moses, regarded by the Jews as the greatest of men. . . . The writer does nothing to belittle Moses. Nor does he criticize him. He accepts Moses’ greatness but shows that as great as he was, Jesus was greater by far.” It was important to convince the Jewish readers that Jesus Christ is greater than Moses because the entire Jewish religion came through Moses. Christianity came through Christ. CN

2. What reason does the writer give that we should fix our attention, consider or take note of Jesus?

It is important that we understand to whom this exhortation is addressed. Without looking beyond chapter 3, we can see from verse 1 that the recipients are addressed as . . .

. . . holy brethren

. . . partners in a heavenly call

. . . those who confess Jesus as Apostle and High Priest.

By these designations, we are informed that the author is addressing fellow believers.

The exhortation is a simple one, “take note of Jesus.” The NASB simply renders, “consider Jesus,” and the NIV more fully renders “fix your thoughts on Jesus” (I think I like this one best). This sounds a great deal like the exhortation we will find later in Hebrews 12:

keep eyesKeeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2, emphasis mine).

What is it, in particular, that the author wants us to take note of regarding Jesus? He tells us in this verse – we are to take note of Jesus as the “apostle and high priest” whom we confess as such. In other words, we are to give considerable thought to the Jesus in whom we have put our trust, concerning Him in whom we profess to believe. We are not just to “practice what we preach;” we are to “ponder what we proclaim.”

“Take note of Jesus” – as others have noted, this could not only serve as the summation of this lengthy exhortation, it could very well capsulize the message of the entire Book of Hebrews. It might even be a summary of the message of the Bible. Where else should we look?

The author is about to compare (and then contrast) Jesus with the much revered Moses. These two areas – apostle and high priest – are those areas which our author has chosen to demonstrate the superiority of the Lord Jesus to Moses. That comparison is about to begin in the next verse. RD

The key to the understanding of Hebrews may rest in the thought of consider him. From katanoēsate, “observe attentively, fix your thoughts, mark with attention.” This same thought appears again in 12:3. In 3:1, 2 the emphasis is upon Christ as being faithful; in 12:3 it is upon his having endured. Here the brethren are encouraged to look to Jesus as Apostle (“messenger”; only here is this title used of Christ in the NT) and High Priest, an office that is more and more fully explained to the readers. Confession (homologias) rather than profession (av). The term relates to believers confessing to Christ as their high priest. WBC

3. How is Jesus similar to Moses?

Moses and Jesus shared much in common. In a sense, both had roles which involved priestly duties and a kind of apostleship. We know that Aaron, Moses’ brother, was the high priest, but it was Moses who sprinkled the blood of the covenant on the altar and on the people in Exodus 24:1-8. Later, Moses consecrated Aaron and his sons by offering sacrifices and applying the blood to (or around) the altar and to Aaron and his sons. He then anointed them with oil (Leviticus 8:18-36). Before long, our author will go into great detail concerning our Lord’s priestly ministry.

Exodus 24:1-8 (NKJV)
1  Now He said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. 2  And Moses alone shall come near the LORD, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him.” 3  So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.” 4  And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5  Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6  And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7  Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.” 8  And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.”

Moses was a kind of apostle as well. If an apostle is a “sent one,” then Moses was clearly sent by God to Egypt, where he would speak to men for God. Jesus was also ansent apostle in the sense that He was sent to earth by the Father to lead men from captivity to freedom. As Moses was the one through whom the Law was given, Jesus was the One through whom God finally and fully spoke (Hebrews 1:1-3). Both Moses and Jesus, our author tells us, were faithful to their divine calling. But having briefly noted their similarities, the author will now move to his real interest – their differences, which demonstrate that Jesus is vastly superior to Moses. RD

To grasp why the author of Hebrews contrasted Jesus Christ with Moses, we must understand how Jews viewed this Old Testament patriarch. They never forgot that he was their deliverer from Egyptian bondage. Through Moses, they received the law from God at Mount Sinai. He was indeed a great man. At the close of Deuteronomy, we have an incomparable tribute:

No prophet has arisen again in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unparalleled for all the signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do against the land of Egypt—to Pharaoh, to all his officials, and to all his land, and for all the mighty acts of power and terrifying deeds that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. (Dt 34:10-12

Even Jews who professed to believe in Jesus Christ had difficulty accepting the fact that there could be a prophet greater than Moses. Paul faced incredible persecution from Jews who claimed to believe in Jesus Christ but who still followed the law of Moses. Some of them even tried to assassinate him because they thought he was downplaying Moses (Ac 21:20-21).

The author of Hebrews honored Moses, as all believers throughout history should. However, he made it clear that we must above all “consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Heb 3:1). Moses was a servant, but Christ is the Son (vv. 5-6), making Jesus equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and superior to any other person. Though Moses was a great leader, he was simply a member of “God’s household,” but Jesus is the “foundation” and “head” of the household of God (v. 5; 1Co 3:11; Col 1:18), which now includes both Jews and Gentiles.  LESB


3  For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4  For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5  And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6  but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

4. What house?

The common metaphor is that of a house. The difference? Christ built the house; Moses served in the house. As in Jn 1:17, the juxtaposition of Moses and Christ is clearly stated. In the same fashion the juxtaposition of the old covenant and the new covenant is intimated. The emphasis is upon faithfulness, however. Incomparable in position, Christ is faithful as a son, over his house (asv, v. 6).  Whose house are we refers to believers, the company of the redeemed of God, whose faith is a continuing faith. Their faith is manifested in a joyful confidence (parrēsian, “free speech, outspokenness”; and thus outspoken or cheerful confidence) which becomes a glorying of our hope in the Son. Christ is the object as well as the basis of their confidence and their hope. Unto the end (mechri telous). Until hope becomes reality. WBC

John 1:17  for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

2-cornerstone2Inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

a. Inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house: Moses was a member of the household of God, but Jesus is the creator of that house, worthy of greater glory.

i. The ancient Rabbis considered Moses to be the greatest man ever, greater than the angels.  The writer to the Hebrews does nothing to criticize Moses; he only looks to properly exalt Jesus.

b. Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant . . . but Christ as a Son over His own house: Moses was a faithful servant, but he was never called a Son in the way Jesus is.

c. Whose house we are if we hold fast: We are a part of Jesus’ household if we hold fast.  The writer to the Hebrews is encouraging those who felt like turning back, helping them to hold fast by explaining the benefits of hanging in there.

i. True commitment to Jesus is demonstrated over the long term, not just in an initial burst.  We trust that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Php_1:6).

ii. Whose house we are: 1Pe_2:4-5 says we are being built up a spiritual house.  God has a work to build through His people, even as one might build a house. GC


The superiority of Christ over Moses is shown in two comparisons: (1) Moses was a servant, whereas Christ is a son, and (2) Moses was in God’s house, i.e., a part of it, whereas Christ is over God’s house.  3:5 faithful … in all God’s house. See Nu 12:7 . NIVSN

Numbers 12:7 But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house.


7  Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, 8  Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, 9  Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. 10  Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ 11  So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ “

5. How does this quote from Psalms relate?

The writer cites Ps 95:7–11 as the words of its ultimate author, the Holy Spirit. This passage describes the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings after their delivery from Egypt. Despite God’s miraculous works and His gracious, providential faithfulness to them, the people still failed to commit themselves to Him in faith.  Today. The reference is to the present moment while the words of God are fresh in the mind. There is a sense of urgency to immediately give heed to the voice of God. This urgency is emphasized by repeating the reference to “today” from Ps 95:7 three more times (vv. 13, 15; 4:7) and is the theme of the writer’s exposition. My rest. The wildrenessearthly rest which God promised to give was life in the land of Canaan which Israel would receive as their inheritance (Dt 12:9, 10; Jos 21:44; 1Ki 8:56). Because of rebellion against God, an entire generation of the children of Israel was prohibited from entering into that rest in the Promised Land (cf. Dt 28:65; La 1:3). The application of this picture is to an individual’s spiritual rest in the Lord, which has precedent in the OT (cf. Ps 116:7; Is 28:12). At salvation, every believer enters the true rest, the realm of spiritual promise, never again laboring to achieve through personal effort a righteousness that pleases God. The Lord wanted both kinds of rest for that generation who was delivered from Egypt. MSBN

Hebrews 3:7–11 interprets this portion of Psalm 95, and Israel is given to us as an example. Let’s consider this for a moment. The generation of Israel that came out of Egypt doubted God, and because of their doubt they never entered the land of Canaan. 

When the children of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, as they crossed over the Red Sea, they sang the song of Moses—“… I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea!” (Exod. 15:1). “God has delivered us—how great He is!” After they left Sinai, an eleven–day journey could have gotten them into the Promised Land. But no, they had to send spies in to search out the land. It wasn’t necessary—God said He would take care of them, but they didn’t believe God. So God yielded to their wishes and let them send in spies. Although the spies did see the wonderful land, they were most impressed by the giants, and tcrossinghey saw themselves as grasshoppers. They didn’t see God. They returned to the people with a false report—except Caleb and Joshua who insisted that God could handle the giants if they trusted Him. But the people accepted the majority report (this is my reason for believing that committees are not satisfactory for doing the Lord’s work), and they spent forty years on a journey that should have taken a few days. What was the reason? Unbelief.

You see, they didn’t believe God enough to enter into the land. They believed Him enough to come out of Egypt, but not enough to enter Canaan. God said that that generation of unbelievers would die in the wilderness and He would bring their children into the Land of Promise. And we find later that Joshua did bring the next generation into the land. They had to cross another body of water, the river Jordan. How did they do it? Well, God sent the ark of the covenant (symbolic of God’s presence) ahead on the shoulders of the priests. When their feet touched the brink of the river, the waters of Jordan were cut off. “And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan” (Josh. 3:17). Then they took twelve stones out of the middle of the river, where the priests still stood with the ark, and placed them as a memorial on the shore. Then they replaced them with twelve stones from the Land of Promise. When the waters of Jordan returned and covered those twelve stones, it was symbolic of the death of Christ. The twelve stones which were taken out of the river and placed as a monument on the other side speak of the resurrection of Christ. JVM

12  Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13  but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

6. Why such as stern warning?

Drawing on several key words in Psalm 95, Hebrews warns against allowing the unbelief of a hardened, sinful heart to cause one to fall away (Gk. apostēnai, “turn away from, forsake, apostatize from”; cf. Luke 8:13; 1 Tim. 4:1). His counter to this danger is both to encourage personal commitment (take care) and to call on the church to walk together in mutual encouragement (exhort one another). as long as it is called “today.” From the perspective of God’s saving plans for world history, the church lives in a special moment in which the Lord has come, spoken, and gone, and believers await his return—faith is called for in this hour, and mutual exhortation sustains and strengthens faith. ESVN

Luke 8:13  Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Here is an exhortation to apply this lesson from the past. Note again that those to whom the writer addressed this epistle were believers. Their danger was apostasy, departure from God, not failure to come to God in saving faith.

“The rebellion he warns against consists of departing from a living, dynamic person, not from some dead doctrine. Jews might retort that they served the same God as the Christians so that they would not be departing from God if they went back to Judaism. But to reject God’s highest revelation is to depart from God, no matter how many preliminary revelations are retained.”

The Greek words translated “to apostatize” (lit. to stand away, aphistemi) and “apostasy” (defection,apostasia) do not indicate in themselves whether believers or unbelievers are in view. The reader must determine this by the context. Here believers seem to be in view (as in Luke 8:13; Acts 15:38; 1 Tim. 4:1; cf. Luke 2:38; 2 Tim. 2:12b; 4:4) since the writer called them “brethren.” Some people refer to Christian apostates as backsliders. However the apostates in view here were very serious backsliders. In other contexts, unsaved apostates are in view (e.g., Luke 13:27; cf. 2 Thess. 2:11). In still other passages there is not sufficient information to pass judgment on their salvation (e.g., 2 Thess. 2:3; cf. Titus 1:14). Other Scripture seems to reveal quite clearly that genuine Christians can renounce their faith apostate(Matt. 10:33; Mark 8:32; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 3:8). However this does not mean they will lose their salvation (John 10:28; 2 Tim. 2:13).

“No believer today, Jew or Gentile, could go back into the Mosaic legal system since the temple is gone and there is no priesthood. But every believer is tempted to give up his confession of Christ and go back into the world system’s life of compromise and bondage.”

As often in Hebrews, references to God as “living” imply that He is the giver of life.

If a sinner continues in his sin, he may conclude that sin does not matter, as the Israelites at Kadesh Barnea did. Their unbelief there was the tenth instance of unbelief since they left Egypt (cf. Num. 14:21-23). This is sin’s deceitfulness. Sin matters very much. The writer counseled his readers to encourage each other to continue to walk with God. He did this to help us avoid the rationalizing that we can get into when we do not confess and forsake our sins. Meeting with other Christians for mutual encouragement regularly can be a great help to any Christian in remembering that failing to continue to trust God will bring bad consequences. Mutual encouragement in godliness is something we all need daily so we do not become hardened to sin.

“A hardened attitude is not a sudden aberration, but a habitual state of mind.”

We need to get started “today,” while there is still opportunity.

“One of the best ways of keeping ourselves true is to help other people, and the duty is here set forth of exhorting one another. There is scarcely anything more striking in Christian experience than the fact that in helping others we often help ourselves.” CN

Numbers 14:21-23 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, 22  not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23  not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.

14  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15  while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16  For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17  Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

7. What are the consequences of ignoring this warning?

The quotation from Ps 95:7, 8 is repeated (cf. v. 7). The first quotation was followed with exposition emphasizing “today” and the urgency that word conveys. This second quotation is followed with exposition emphasizing rebellion (vv. 15, 16) and presenting the theme of obedience by means of its antithesis, disobedience. Four different terms are employed to drive the point of rebellion home: “provoked” (v. 16), “sinned” (v. 17), “disobedient” (v. 18), and “unbelief” (v. 19). This initial third  of the writer’s exposition of Ps 95:7–11 is summed up by the obvious conclusion that the Israelites who died in the wilderness were victims of their own unbelief (v. 19). MSBN

Here, the author says it in a plain and straightforward manner: True Christians are those who hold fast to their faith in the Lord Jesus. They never forsake their faith in Him for salvation. They may stumble and fall, but they do not cease to trust in the shed blood of Jesus as the only means of their salvation. And thus, those who appear to be drifting away from their faith and devotion to Jesus are urged not to become hard of heart, which leads to rebellion.

When the author cites the portion of Psalm 95 that urges his readers to listen as God speaks“Today,” he underscores the fact that the Christian life is a day-by-day experience. We live out our faith a day at a time. And so the critical question for us is this: Am I listening to what God has to say to me through Christ today, and I am obedient to what He tells me? If not, I am on the path of sin which leads to death. God will not allow me to taste eternal judgment, but He will intercept me at various points and with various forms of discipline. It is simply not worth the price to drift away and to become hard hearted.

deseartThe author is not looking for information when he asks these three questions, because he gives us the answers. By asking and answering these questions, the author is seeking to call attention to the facts of the matter. First, those who heard and rebelled were those who came out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. Moses was the one whom the Jews (including Jewish believers) revered, and yet those he led failed. This adds weight to the author’s earlier emphasis on the superiority of Christ to Moses. And those who had Moses as their leader not only heard what God spoke through Moses, they also saw the attesting miracles that God worked through Moses. This generation that failed had more revelation than any generation up to that point in history (and for many generations to come).

The second question and answer calls attention to the fact that those with whom God was angry for forty years were also those whose bodies were strewn throughout the desert. In other words, just as God kept His promises made through Moses (of deliverance for Israel, and of judgment upon the Egyptians), He also kept His word with regard to the consequences Israel must face for their persistent rebellion. God means what He says, and He keeps His word, for blessing and for discipline.

Third, those who failed to enter God’s promised rest were those who disobeyed. The Israelites continually rebelled against God’s commands. Disobedience to God’s commands is rebellion, and rebellion brings discipline.

Now we’ve come to the root of it all – unbelief. That generation of Israelites did not believe God, even though they saw example after example of how God kept His word through Moses. Again and again, God announced a coming plague, and each came as and when God said. Again and again, God announced that He would remove a plague. And each time it came about just as (and when) God said. The Israelites complained and rebelled when they were hungry or thirsty, even though God had promised to meet all their needs. And, in the end, the Israelites failed to believe that God would give them victory over the giants in the land. The root evil behind Israel’s failure to enter into God’s “rest” was unbelief. RD

ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes

MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study   Notes

NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes.

JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee’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.

EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures

CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary

SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary

K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT

EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary

CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College

GC……………………Guzik Commentary

RD…………………..Robert  Deffinbaugh

NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible

MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary

CSTTB………Chuck Smith Through The Bible

LESB…………….Life Essentials Study Bible.


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August 1, 2014

Acts Chapter 1

Filed under: The Book of Acts — augustinehippo1 @ 12:11 pm

Jesus Taken Up Into Heavenjesus baptized

 1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach   2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.


1. What instructions?

I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49

.2. Where can we find the Father’s promise of power on high in the Old Testament and New Testament?

I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. Joel 2:28-29

Till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, Isaiah 32:15

I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. Isaiah 44:3

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever– the Spirit of truth. John 14:16-17

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to comeJohn 16:13

.3.  What are Apostles?



Apostle, (Greek apostolos; one sent forth, a messenger), one chosen and sent with a special commission as the fully authorized representative of the sender.

Barnaba (Acts 14:14.),,Timothy and Silas (1 Thessalonians 1:1)., Andronicus and Junio ( Romans 16:7)., Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25,) ,James the brother of Jesus (Gal.1:19)

.4. Does God choose people, what about freewill?

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; Jer. 1:5

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Deut 7:6

But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel. 2 Chron 6:6

For many are called, but few are chosen. Matt 22:14 acts1-3

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– Eph 1:4-5

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. Romans 9:17-18

.3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.   4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.   5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

.5. What would be a convincing proof?

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.  John 21:12-14

Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. Mark 16:14

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Matt 28:16-17

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24:27

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me 1 Cor 15:3-8

 .6.   Why did they have to wait?


Pentecost celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, Shavuot is traditionally a joyous time of giving thanks and presenting offerings for the new grain of the summer wheat harvest in Israel.

The celebration is also tied to the giving of the Ten Commandments and thus bears the name Matin Torah or “giving of the Law.” Jews believe that it was exactly at this time that God gave the Torah to the people through

.7. “baptized with the Holy Spirit”?

All believers share the reality of being baptized by the Spirit. What does it do? It makes us part of the body of Christ, the Church. When did it happen? If every believer has been baptized in the Spirit, then it must happen at the moment you accept Christ and become a Christian. The baptism of the Holy Spirit may be defined as that work whereby the Spirit of God places the believer into union with Christ and into union with other believers in the body of Christ at the moment of salvation.

 6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

.8. What kingdom are they referring to?


 Notice they use the word restore.

The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. 21 And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon’s subjects all his life……….. For he ruled over all the kingdoms west of the River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and had peace on all sides. 25 During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree. 26 Solomon had four thousand stalls for chariot horses, and twelve thousand horses. ……29 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. 30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than any other man, …….Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom. 1 Kings 4:20-34

acts1-6“That’s what we’re talk’in about.”

Genesis 35:11-12 restates certain promises God had earlier made to Abraham. God here reiterates His promise to Abraham, as recorded in Genesis 17:5-6, that he would be a father of kings. God also tells Jacob that from him would descend not only a nation, but also a whole company of nations. Solomon’s “empire” was based more on its economic strength than on any military adventurism

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”


9. Isn’t this a rather rude answer to their question?

Their misconceptions consisted in the expectation that Christ would re-establish the earthly kingdom of Israel, and restore it to its ancient glory, under its own personal reign. In his reply, the Savior does not undertake to correct this misconception, but leaves it as a part of that work of enlightenment yet to be effected by the Holy Spirit.

The answer was not as rude as it might appear in our translation. Basically what he was saying was that “restoring the Kingdom is not the correct question, because the Kingdom is more that an earthly one and the beginning will not begin until the Holy Spirit comes’. I guess it’s like “don’t get the cart before the horse”, you’re getting way ahead of the schedule.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert ! You do not know when that time will come. Mark 13:32-33 (NIV)

. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 10. What kind of power?


δυναμιν  dunamis. Latent explosive power. It is the word we get dynamite from. A miracle working power.  A power that is not outwardly obvious but is such that it gives the possessor the ability to achieve the purpose it was designed for. Peter could walk past sick people and his shadow would heal them.

.11. How was the Holy Spirit viewed in the Old Testament?

245 times Spirit is used in the Old Testament only 3 times the title Holy Spirit. Usually the spirit is referred to as The Spirit of God or The spirit of the Lord. I don’t think the Holy Spirit was understood as a person of the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit comes on you? How does that work?

And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. Num 11:25 (KJV)

But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.   Judges 6:34 (KJV)

 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. John 14:17 (KJV)

 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

 12. Where did He go? Where is Heaven?

 “third heaven” and “paradise”


I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows. 3 And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows– 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 2 Cor 12:2-4 (NIV)

Since God is spirit, “heaven” cannot signify a place remote from us which He inhabits. The Greek gods were thought of as spending most of their time far away from earth in sort of a celestial equivalent of the Bahamas, but the God of the Bible is not like this. He is always near us when we call on Him (James 4:8) and we are encouraged to “draw near” to Him (Hebrews 10:1, 22). Granted, the “heaven” where saints and angels dwell has to be thought of as a sort of locality, because saints and angels, as God’s creatures, exist in space and time. But when the Creator is said to be “in heaven,” the thought is that He exists on a different plane from us, rather than in a different place. 261,983 Bible Questions Answered!

Quantum Physics is an area some would suggest is an intersection between the natural world and the spiritual.

 13. Who were those two guys?

acts1-9Angels are messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. The English word angel is derived from the Greek γγελος, a translation of מלאך (mal’akh) in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh);

An angel from the Lord, and  the Angel of the LORD

Angel  is used 211 times  in the NIV. 73 times The angel of the Lord is referred to.

Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning–there were all the dead bodies! 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there. Isaiah 37:36-37

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” Dan 10:12-14

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph 6:12 (NKJV)

 This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

 14.  Where will Jesus return to?

I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; ……. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south…………..The Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him……………. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. Zech 14:1-9 (NIV)

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, theyacts1-10 went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. 15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus– 17 he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.” 18 (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms,

“‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’

.21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

.15.  Should Peter have performed this election of a new apostle?

Here is Simon Peter speaking up again. Note that this is before the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. This man needs the filling of the Holy Spirit — and so do you and I. There is always a question about what happened here. Should Simon Peter have held this election to choose a man to take the place of Judas? I don’t think so.  J. Vernon McGee

I agree with Dr. McGee, I think this is Peter being Peter and again doing and saying something stupid. I believe that in His own time, the Lord Jesus Himself appointed one to take the place of Judas Iscariot. We don’t hear another word about Matthias — nothing is recorded of his ministry. I think the Holy Spirit ignored Matthias. It is my conviction that the man the Lord chose was Paul. Listen to Paul as he writes to the Galatian believers: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” (Gal. 1:1). Paul is saying that he was chosen by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. How did He do it? Through the Holy Spirit whom He had sent into the world. The ministry of Paul certainly justifies the fact that he was the one to take Judas’ place. Of course I realize that the majority of good Bible commentators disagree with me, but I am just passing on to you my own conviction.—JVM  Some believe acts1-11that the method used to determine who would take the place of Judas was the practice of using the Urim and the Thummim. These were two stones which were worn inside the breastplate of the high priest. I think one was an affirmative answer and one a negative answer. The high priest would ask God a yes or no answer and then reach into the pouch in the breastplate and pull out a stone. He then would make a decisions based on God’s answer. Sort of like flipping a coin.

ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes

MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study   Notes

NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes.

JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee’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.

EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures

CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary

SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary

K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT

EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary

CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College

GC……………………Guzik Commentary

RD…………………..Robert  Deffinbaugh

NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible

MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary

CSTTB………Chuck Smith Through The Bible

BBC…………….Bridgeway Bible commentary

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Mean God or Nice God?

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 12:00 pm

Question: Why does the God of the Old Testament seem so mean and harsh and the New Testament God is so nice.

First we need to step back from all our preconceived notions, lame Sunday school lessons, Hollywood stereotypes and popular presentations of God and Jesus we may have been exposed to in the past and actually look at what the bible says.
1. The God of the OT is the exact same God of the NT.
What appears to be two different God’s is actually the same God dealing with different people at different times and in different ways for different reasons. God in the OT is dealing with Hebrews and the nation of Israel in a dispensation of time under the Law. God in the NT is dealing with and bringing about what will become known as the age of Grace or the Church Age. No longer is the focus on the nation of Israel but instead turns to a new institution, the Church. The Hebrew nation of Israel was the first group with which God chose to reveal Himself and establish a personal relationship with. The inwhy2tention was that Israel would model Godly characteristics to the rest of humanity and through the Jew all mankind would be drawn to God and desire to enter into relationship with Him. As a result of their stiff necked pride and stubbornness they failed miserably and actually turned people away from God.
    In the OT God constantly had to deal with a rebellious and adulterous nation bent of living by their own perverted interpretation of Mosaic Law and tradition. Jesus later called them the “lost sheep of Israel” which is an appropriate description in that they habitually wandered off into evil and dangerous ways. On top of this the nation was constantly under attack and in warfare with people who desired to destroy them, (much like today). Many of what some would consider ungodly, cruel and brutal actions, directed by God in the OT, were in times of war. If we look at the actions of the U.S. military during WWII the same charges could also be leveled. The fire bombings of civilians in Dresden and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima which destroyed “innocent” men women and children could be called by some barbaric. In defense, when a nation is fighting for survival, barbaric actions in the name of the “greater good” cannot be categorically condemned.
The Amalekites were a tribe of scavenger predators at the time of the Exodus. For no reason they attacked the Hebrews as soon as they escaped from Egypt and crossed the Red Sea.  Throughout history they continually tried to destroy all Jews. Finally after giving the Amalekites hundreds of years of time to change their behavior, God ordered the Hebrew King to destroy them, man, woman, children, babies and even their livestock. God knew that any remnant of these evil murderers left would come back to bite them. Saul disobeyed and killed most but left some alive to use for his own selfish benefit. This turned out to be huge mistake in why3that this bunch popped up throughout Jewish history as brutal enemies. Some believe today the spirit of Amalek is alive and well in groups like Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and the so called Palestinians (who were never a legitimate nationality until invented by enemies of Israel, another story). No, we could pull God’s order to destroy the Amalekites out of context and it looks like he is a mean and brutal God. You could also say the same of the guy who shoots some nut killing innocent kids at a movie theater. Everything must be taken in context.
It was not God’s idea for the Jews to get themselves over into Egypt and become slaves of the Pharaoh. God has to clean up the mess and ends up looking like the bad guy because he has to knock some heads around. Now He has to deal with a bunch of ignorant people after being slaves for 400 years. They have no concept of even the basics of how to live as civilized free people. They have to be told not to poop in the same area where they make meals, what to do when they got a skin rash, how to handle situations like when I did a pit in the ground and your ox falls into it and dies, who pays who and who gets to keep the dead ox. Every single aspect of life had to be delineated in the 613 commandments of the Mosaic Law. These people were indeed the “children” of Israel and had to be treated like children. As a result God comes off looking mean, just like my kids said I was mean because I would not let themwhy4 play in the street. Hello!!! There are cars and trucks going up and down the street and I don’t want any flat kids. God has a larger purpose in mind and he didn’t want His people screwed up. They were supposed to be His representatives to the world and lead to the Kingdom of God.
Yes the God of the OT is stern, but He is also loving and compassionate.
In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer. Isaiah 54:8 (ESV)
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you. Jer 31:3 (HCSB)
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lordhas brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Deut 7:6-8 (ESV)

2. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son to the LORD?
Abraham is called the father of faith. God is looking for a man who will unconditionally trust and obey him. There can be no greater test of obedience than to ask a man to kill by his own hand his own son. This is the son whom Abraham waited almost 100 year to have. This is the son whom God has promised would yield the bloodline for the promised messiah. How could God ask him to do such a thing? In order to understand this we must appreciate the Hebrew view of the word of the Most High. When Yahweh spoke, it was done. Whatever came out of the mouth of the LORD could not be undone. Once Jehovah spoke, time made no difference. It was as though it had already happened. Abraham knew that the LORD had declared that the promise and destiny of the nation would go through his son Isaac. Therefore if God commanded him to take Isaac up the mountain, kill and burn his body on an alter as a sacrifice, somehow God would have to resurrect Isaac from the ashes and bring him back from the dead.  Naturally the prospect of such a thing is abhorrent to any father and especially Abraham. Still yet Abraham put his trust in the word and credibility of the Creator of the universe. Since the LORD lives in the past present and future simultaneously he was well aware of the pain Abraham was experiencing since He would sacrifice His own Son on a Roman cross on a hill called Golgotha.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.
Abraham hoped with complete confidence that the invisible God who could do the impossible, would protect his son Isaac, no matter what things looked like.
3. God appears to be different in the NT,
but this is really just a change in tactics. The strategic goal of bringing mankind into the Kingdom of God is still the same but God has chosen to tactically change things up. Now instead of relying of the Jews to spread the Good News, He raises up a small group of common Jewish working guys, bypasses the religious establishment, and develops personally his own disciples. He then sends His Holy Spirit to live inside of each of these dudes. This way He can give them “real timwhy6e” minute by minute guidance. No longer do people have to rely on the priest or scribe to look into the written Torah (law) to find out what God expects of them. Now they have a built in moral “GPS” to lead them and tell them right from wrong. This is the point where God expects these believers to put their “big boy pants” on and act like adults. When I was in kindergarten, the children had to raise their hands and ask permission to use the restroom. In college that was no longer the practice because adults are expected to handle such things themselves. Same with God. No longer do we have to look in the book when your ox falls in my pit. As Christians we who have the same spirit should know how to work out our problems.
4. The God of the NT is Jesus, God, YAHWEH, LORD, of the OT. John Chapter clearly identifies Jesus (the word, the logos ) as the creator.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  John 1:1-4,14 (KJV)

This person identified as the LORD in hundreds of OT appearances is in reality the pre-incarnate Jesus. It was Jesus, YAHWEH, the LORD, why7who walked with Adam and Eve in the garden, appeared to Moses in the burning bush, commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, wrestled all night with Jacob, and was found by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar walking around with the 3 Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace.
Jesus alluded to this while giving two of His disciples a 7 mile long bible lesson after he was raised from the dead.
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27 (KJV)
I am a strong advocate for the doctrine of the Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. God in three persons. Not 3 Gods. Everything that makes God to be God is in each person of the godhead. Each is infinite, all powerful, all knowing, omni present. Jesus is not a lesser form of God. He voluntarily humbled Himself and came to earth in order live as a perfect man and become the perfect sacrifice for the dysfunctional human race. He put aside much of His god-ness to operate as a human while still maintaining all of His god-ness simultaneously. He was a helpless baby in his mother Mary’s arms while at the sametime keeping every atom in the universe together. Go figure.
Itrinity also believe that Jesus is and has always been the primary communicator and the communication from God. We as humans are not equipped to have interaction with the Father.
As a result of our sinfulness and defective condition and in contrast to the complete and pure holiness of God the Father, Jesus functions as the mediator between God and man.
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Tim 2:5 (ESV)
And theFather who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, John 5:37 (ESV)
Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—46  not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. John 6:45-46 (ESV)
The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. John 14:9 (HCSB)
Jesus is the only manifestation of the Father that we can understand.
5. Jesus the God of the NT is not a sentimental, non judgmental, weak,  effeminate, Casper milk toast, slobbering wimp that the liberals want to portray him as. Jesus was a man’s man, who was not afraid to call a spade a spade. He did not come to bring peace but to shake things up.


Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. Luke 12:51-53 (KJV)
Yes he was very forgiving of those who had genuine repentance or called out for help, but he was very judgmental of His brethren willfully involved in sin and those guilty of hypocrisy. His“go and sin no more” was not a platitude, but a command to change, now.
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. John 8:44 (ESV)
You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Matt 23:33 (ESV)

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his  angels.Matt 25:41 (ESV)
Yes we are to take the log out of our own eye before judging another, turn the other cheek and forgive those who hurt us. But once we are sure we are not guilty of what the other guy is doing, we have the responsibility to correct our brother, and to make him stop his evil 
why10behavior. Jesus personally commission Paul to write the doctrine for these new followers of “The Way”, these new Christians. Paul was led out into the Arabian desert for 3 years and trained supernaturally how this new Christian thing was to work. He was taken into the “third heaven” and shown secrets which there are no human words to convey. We must always remember that Paul, Peter, James, and the gang are writing the exact “God breathed” (θεοπνευστοs,  theopneustos) words of Jesus. This whole thing is about and for Him.
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. Acts 9:15-16 (KJV)
Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, Gal 1:17-18 (NKJV)
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this why11man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses 2 Cor 12:2-5 (ESV)
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: Col 1:16 (KJV)

July 31, 2014

Ok then, who created God?

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 6:00 pm

If God created the universe, then who created God?

Answering the Critics

by Jonathan Sarfati

A number of skeptics ask this question. But God by definition is the uncreated creator of the universe, soThe-Law-of-Causality-JM2 the question ‘Who created God?’ is illogical, just like ‘To whom is the bachelor married?’

So a more sophisticated questioner might ask: ‘If the universe needs a cause, then why doesn’t God need a cause? And if God doesn’t need a cause, why should the universe need a cause?’ In reply, Christians should use the following reasoning:

1.Everything which has a beginning has a cause.1
2.The universe has a beginning.
3.Therefore the universe has a cause.

It’s important to stress the words in bold type. The universe requires a cause because it had a beginning, as will be shown below. God, unlike the universe, had no beginning, so doesn’t need a cause. In addition, Einstein’s general relativity, which has much experimental support, shows that time is linked to matter and space. So time itself would have begun along with matter and space. Since God, by definition, is the creator of the whole universe, he is the creator of time. Therefore He is not limited by the time dimension He created, so has no beginning in time—God is ‘the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity’ (Is. 57:15). Therefore He doesn’t have a cause.

In contrast, there is good evidence that the universe had a beginning. This can be shown from the Laws of Thermodynamics, the most fundamental laws of the physical sciences.
1st Law: The total amount of mass-energy in the universe is constant.
2nd Law: The amount of energy available for work is running out, or entropy is increasing to a maximum.

If the total amount of mass-energy is limited, and the amount of usable energy is decreasing, then the universe cannot have existed forever, otherwise it would already have exhausted all usable energy—the ‘heat death’ of the universe. For example, all radioactive atoms would have decayed, every part of the universe would be the same temperature, and no further work would be possible. So the obvious corollary is that the universe began a finite time ago with a lot of usable energy, and is now running down.

Now, what if the questioner accepts that the universe had a beginning, but not that it needs a cause? But it is self-evident that things that begin have a cause—no-one really denies it in his heart. All science and history would collapse if this law of cause and effect were denied. So would all law enforcement, if the police didn’t think they needed to find a cause for a stabbed body or a burgled house. Also, the universe cannot be self-caused—nothing can create itself, because that would mean that it existed before it came into existence, which is a logical absurdity.

In Summary
The universe (including time itself) can be shown to have had a beginning.
It is unreasonable to believe something could begin to exist without a cause.
The universe therefore requires a cause, just as Genesis 1:1 and Romans 1:20 teach.
God, as creator of time, is outside of time. Since therefore He has no beginning in time, He has always existed, so doesn’t need a cause.


There are only two ways to refute an argument:

1. Show that it is logically invalid

2. Show that at least one of the premises is false.

a) Is the argument valid?

A valid argument is one where it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. Note that validity does not depend on the truth of the premises, but on the form of the argument. The argument in this paper is valid; it is of the same form as: All whales have backbones; Moby Dick is a whale; therefore Moby Dick has a backbone. So the only hope for the sceptic is to dispute one or both of the premises.

b) Are the premises true?

1) Does the universe have a beginning?

Oscillating universe ideas were popularized by atheists like the late Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov solely to avoid the notion of a beginning, with its implications of a Creator. But as shown above, the Laws of Thermodynamics undercut that argument. Even an oscillating universe cannot overcome those laws. Each one of the hypothetical cycles would exhaust more and more usable energy. This means every cycle would be larger and longer than the previous one, so looking back in time there would be smaller and smaller cycles. So the multicycle model could have an infinite future, but can only have a finite past.2

Also, there are many lines of evidence showing that there is far too little mass for gravity to stop expansion and allow cycling in the first place, i.e., the universe is ‘open’. According to the best estimates (even granting old-earth assumptions), the universe still has only about half the mass needed for re-contraction. This includes the combined total of both luminous matter and non-luminous matter (found in galactic halos), as well as any possible contribution of neutrinos to total mass.3 Some recent evidence for an ‘open’ universe comes from the number of light-bending ‘gravitational lenses’ in the sky.4 Also, analysis of Type Ia supernovae shows that the universe’s expansion rate is not slowing enough for a closed universe.5,6 It seems like there is only 40-80% of the required matter to cause a ‘big crunch’. Incidentally, this low mass is also a major problem for the currently fashionable ‘inflationary’ version of the ‘big bang’ theory, as this predicts a mass density just on the threshold of collapse—a ‘flat’ universe.

Finally, no known mechanism would allow a bounce back after a hypothetical ‘big crunch’.7 As the late Professor Beatrice Tinsley of Yale explained, even though the mathematics says that the universe oscillates, ‘There is no known physical mechanism to reverse a catastrophic big crunch.’ Off the paper and into the real world of physics, those models start from the Big Bang, expand, collapse, and that’s the end.8

2) Denial of cause and effect

Some physicists assert that quantum mechanics violates this cause/effect principle and can produce something from nothing. For instance, Paul Davies writes:

… spacetime could appear out of nothingness as a result of a quantum transition. … Particles can appear out of nowhere without specific causation … Yet the world of quantum mechanics routinely produces something out of nothing.9

But this is a gross misapplication of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics never produces something out of nothing. Davies himself admitted on the previous page that his scenario ‘should not be taken too seriously.’

Theories that the universe is a quantum fluctuation must presuppose that there was something to fluctuate—their ‘quantum vacuum’ is a lot of matter-antimatter potential—not ‘nothing’. Also, I have plenty of theoretical and practical experience at quantum mechanics (QM) from my doctoral thesis work. For example, Raman spectroscopy is a QM phenomenon, but from the wavenumber and intensity of the spectral bands, we can work out the masses of the atoms and force constants of the bonds causing the bands. To help the atheist position that the universe came into existence without a cause, one would need to find Raman bands appearing without being caused by transitions in vibrational quantum states, or alpha particles appearing without pre-existing nuclei, etc. If QM was as acausal as some people think, then we should not assume that these phenomena have a cause. Then I may as well burn my Ph.D. thesis, and all the spectroscopy journals should quit, as should any nuclear physics research.

Also, if there is no cause, there is no explanation why this particular universe appeared at a particular time, nor why it was a universe and not, say, a banana or cat which appeared. This universe can’t have any properties to explain its preferential coming into existence, because it wouldn’t have any properties until it actually came into existence.
Is creation by God rational?

A last desperate tactic by sceptics to avoid a theistic conclusion is to assert that creation in time is incoherent. Davies correctly points out that since time itself began with the beginning of the universe, it is meaningless to talk about what happened ‘before’ the universe began. But he claims that causes must precede their effects. So if nothing happened ‘before’ the universe began, then (according to Davies) it is meaningless to discuss the cause of the universe’s beginning.

But the philosopher (and New Testament scholar) William Lane Craig, in a useful critique of Davies,10 pointed out that Davies is deficient in philosophical knowledge. Philosophers have long discussed the notion of simultaneous causation. Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) gave the example of a weight resting on a cushion simultaneously causing a depression in it. Craig says: The first moment of time is the moment of God’s creative act and of creation’s simultaneous coming to be.

Marc Kay’s critique of Davies The Mind of God points out further logical and physical fallacies of Davies’ reasoning.11

Some skeptics claim that all this analysis is tentative, because that is the nature of science. So this can’t be used to prove creation by God. Of course, sceptics can’t have it both ways: saying that the Bible is wrong because science has proved it so, but if science appears consistent with the Bible, then well, science is tentative anyway.

1.Actually, the word ‘cause’ has several different meanings in philosophy. But in this article, I am referring to the efficient cause, the chief agent causing something to be made. Return to text
2.Novikov, I.D. and Zel’dovich, Ya. B., 1973. Physical Processes Near Cosmological Singularities. Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 11:401–2. Return to text
3.Schramm, D.N. and Steigman, G., 1981. Relic Neutrinos and the Density of the Universe. Astrophysical Journal 243:1–7. Return to text
4.Watson, A., 1997. Clusters point to Never Ending Universe. Science 278(5342):1402. Return to text
5.Perlmutter, S. et al., 1998. Discovery of a supernova explosion at half the age of the universe. Nature 391(6662):51. Perspective by Branch, D. Destiny and destiny. Same issue, pp. 23–24. Return to text
6.Glanz, J. New light on the fate of the universe. Science 278(5339):799–800. Return to text
7.Guth, A.H. and Sher, M., 1983. The Impossibility of a Bouncing Universe. Nature 302:505–507. Return to text
8.Tinsley, B., 1975. From Big Bang to Eternity? Natural History Magazine. October, pp. 102–5. Cited in Craig, W.L., 1984. Apologetics: An Introduction,Chicago: Moody, p. 61. Return to text
9.Davies, P., 1983. God and the New Physics, Simon & Schuster, p. 215. Return to text
10.Craig, W.L., 1986. God, Creation and Mr Davies. Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 37:163–175. Return to text
11.Kay, M., 1996. Of Paul Davies and The Mind of God. Journal of Creation 10(2):188–193. Return to text

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“Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Rome and the Book of Acts.

Filed under: The Book of Acts — augustinehippo1 @ 10:00 am

Julian Spriggs, M.A.

In the Book of Acts we find a large number of references to different Roman officials, or army divisions.legion This is a list of these, giving the Greek word, an example of where it is found in the Book of Acts, together with an explanation. Some of these show the great accuracy of Luke’s writing, as the use of many of these titles are confirmed by writings and archaeology from the first century.

Roman Citizen (16:37) Roman citizens were strictly exempt from degrading forms of punishment, like beating, scourging, or crucifixion. They had the right to appeal to the Emperor. Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, indicating that his father or grandfather had been granted citizenship. Otherwise, it was a privilege given as a reward for loyal service to the Emperor. Within thirty days of birth, each legitimate child born of a citizen had to be registered. The father was given a certificate, which was legal evidence that the child was a Roman citizen.

Roman citizens had three names:

1) Praenomen – first name

2) Nomen, or nomen gentile – family name

3) Cognomen – additional name or surname

Newly made citizens usually adopted the family name of their patron, and often their praenomen also.

There was also an optional supernomen or signum for use within the family.

Paul’s cognomen was Paullus. We do not know his other names. His signum was his Jewish name, Saul, which was used by his family and in Jewish communities, such as Damascus and Jerusalem.

Government Positions

City Authorities (17:6) (Gk = politarch)

A unique title for the chief magistrates only used in the cities of Macedonia, including Thessalonica and Philippi. Luke’s use of this title shows his accuracy as a historian.

Magistrate (16:19) (Gk = strataegos) A provincial official who administrated justice. Philippi as a Roman colony had two magistrates, who were normally called duoviri (meaning two men), but who preferred the more dignified title of Praetor.

Officials of the Province of Asia (19:31) (Gk = asiarch) These were leading citizens who administered a league of cities in Asia. They were chosen annually from the most wealthy and aristocratic people. The high priests of the worship of the Roman Emperor were elected from among the Asiarchs.

Police (16:35) (Gk = rabdouchos – rod carriers) The official attendants to the magistrates, who also carried out police duties. They were known by their Latin title – Lictors. As symbols of their office, they carried bundles of rods with an axe inserted among them, called the fasces, showing the right of the magistrate to inflict corporal and capital punishment.

Prefect or Procurator (Gk = hegemon) The governor in charge of an Roman Imperial province, like Judea. They differed from a proconsul in having military authority, and an indefinite term of office. Their responsibilities included: Military security and public order, collection of taxes, and legal justice. These are the procurators of Judea mentioned in the New Testament: Pontius Pilate AD 26 – 36 (Mt 27:2) Felix AD 52 – 59 (Acts 23:24) Festus AD 59 – 62 (Acts 24:27)

Proconsul (Gk = anthupatos) The governor in charge of a Roman Senatorial province. He was elected by the Senate for a one year renewable term. His main duties were to insure peace and to collect taxes, although he lacked military authority. These proconsuls are named in the Book of Acts: Sergius Paullus (13:7) Proconsul of Cyprus L. Junius Gallio (18:2) Proconsul of Achaia, including Corinth for one year,which dates Paul’s visit to Corinth in AD 51-52

Proconsuls in Ephesus (19:38)

In AD 54, the proconsul of Asia, Marcus Junius Silanus, was poisoned by his two subordinates, Helius and Celer, on instructions of Nero’s mother Agrippina, to prevent Silanus from becoming emperor after the death of Claudius, instead of Nero. The plural “proconsuls” could either mean proconsuls in general, or to Helius and Celer being the two acting proconsuls until Silanus’s successor was appointed. If this is the case, then this dates Paul’s visit to Ephesus in AD 54.

Town Clerk (19:35) (Gk = Grammateus) A leading civic official in a Roman city, directly responsible to Rome. He acted as a liaison between the civic government of a city and the Roman provincial administration. The Roman authorities would hold him responsible for riots and disturbances, and might impose severe penalties on the city. Also, as secretary, he drafted the legal decrees to be brought before the civic assembly.

Governmental organization

Province The province was the Roman administrative region, originally ruled by magistrates who were elected by the Senate. By the first century, there were two types of province: 1. Senatorial provinces, under control of the Senate, governed by proconsuls, who were ex-consuls or ex-praetors, and who held office for one year only. 2. Imperial provinces, under the direct control of the Emperor, governed by procurators or prefects, with military authority. These had the rank of senator, and held office as long as the emperor desired. Provinces could be transferred from the Senate to the Emperor, or vice versa. For example, Cyprus was transferred from being imperial to senatorial in 22 BC, so then had a proconsul (Acts 13:7)

Roman Colony (16:12) A corporation of Roman citizens settled away from Italy, and enjoying self-government. Roman colonies were a little Rome away from Rome, run with Roman justice and govenment systems under the control of a Roman magistrate, with Latin as the official language. They were often populated by retired Roman soldiers. Some Greek republics were given colonial status as an honour, like Philippi – something the city would be very proud of.

Army divisions


A century was the smallest division in the Roman army. It originally consisted of 100 men, but the number was later reduced to 80 men. Each century was commanded by a centurion.

Each century also had a tesserarius, who was in control of guard duties, and received 1.5 times the normal pay. The standard-bearer of the century was the signifer, who was in charge of pay and expenses, and received double pay. A century also had a cornicen, who was a horn-blower, and an optio, the backup leader in case the centurion was killed or injured. He also helped to train the century.

Cohort (10:1) (Gk = speira)

A cohort was an army division of 480 or 800 men, equivalent to one tenth of a Legion (5,500 men), or six centuries. It was commanded by a Tribune, or sometimes by a Prefect. The Italian Cohort (10:1), based in Judea, was probably originally raised in Italy, but would have recruited local soldiers.

Legion The largest unit in the Roman army, consisting of about 5,500 soldiers, often with a small cavalry division of 120 men who were used as scouts. The Roman Empire had around 30 legions. A legion consisted of ten cohorts. Nine of these cohorts had 480 men, divided into six centuries of 80 men each, but the first cohort had 800 men, divided into five centuries consisting of more specialist soldiers, such as blacksmiths or builders.

In the first century, there were normally three or four legions on duty in Syria, but before the Jewish rebellion in A.D. 66, there were no legions stationed in Judea. The governors of Judea commanded auxiliary forces the size of a cohort.

Army ranks

Centurion (10:1) (Gk = ekatontarchae) The commander of a century in the Roman army. He had the status of a non-commissioned officer, but his responsibilities were similar to a modern army Captain. He drilled his men, inspected their arms, food and clothing, and was their commander in the camp and on the battle-field. A soldier would be given Roman Citizenship after completing his twenty-five years of service. Centurions were normally assigned to police duties and the guarding of prisoners.

Tribune (21:32) (Gk = chiliarch) The Roman military commander of a Cohort. He was a professional officer, almost always a Roman citizen and a member of the equestrian (middle) class, who intended to make a career of public service. A tribune led the group of soldiers when Judas betrayed Jesus (John 18:12). Claudius Lysias was the tribune who led the cohort to arrest Paul in the temple (21:30-32), and wrote a letter to governor Felix about Paul (23:26).

Praetor The title Praetor was used both by magistrates and by army commanders.

Army Organization           

Name        Commanded by    Number of men     Smaller unit
Century     Centurion             80 men
Cohort      Tribune                480 men        =     6 centuries
Legion       Legate                 5,500 men     =     10 cohorts

Praetorium (23:35) This originally meant the tent of a commander, or Praetor, so became a word used to describe the army headquarters. Later, it was used as the residence of the provincial governor, or even the residence of the Emperor (Phil 1:3).


 “Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

July 29, 2014

Seven reasons the Holy land belongs to Israel

Filed under: Bible,Politics,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 7:00 am
In a speech before the Senate in 2002, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe stood against world opinion and offered seven reasons why Israel alone is entitled to possess the Holy Land.
I was interested the other day when I heard that the de facto ruler, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah, made a statement which was received by many in this country as if it were a statement of fact, as if it were something new, a concept for peace in the Middle East that no one had ever heard of before. I was kind of shocked that it was so well received by many people who had been down this road before.

I suggest to you that what Crown Prince Abdullah talked about a few days ago was not new at all. He talked about the fact that under the Abdullah plan, Arabs would normalize relations with Israel in exchange for the Jewish state surrendering the territory it received after the 1967 Six-Day War as if that were something new. He went on to talk about other land that had been acquired and had been taken by Israel.

I remember so well on December 4 when we covered all of this and the fact that there isn’t anything new about the prospect of giving up land that is rightfully Israel’s land in order to have peace.

When it gets right down to it, the land doesn’t make that much difference because Yasser Arafat and others don’t recognize Israel’s right to any of the land. They do not recognize Israel’s right to exist.

I will discuss seven reasons, which I mentioned once before, why Israel is entitled to the land they have and that it should not be a part of the peace process.

If this is something that Israel wants to do, it is their business to do it. But anyone who has tried to put the pressure on Israel to do this is wrong.

We are going to be hit by skeptics who are going to say we will be attacked because of our support for Israel, and if we get out of the Middle East — that is us — all the problems will go away. That is just not true. If we withdraw, all of these problems will again come to our door.

I have some observations to make about that. But I would like to reemphasize once again the seven reasons that Israel has the right to their land.

The first reason is archaeological evidence

The first reason is that Israel has the right to the land because of all of the archaeological evidence. That is reason, No. 1. All the archaeological evidence supports it.

Every time there is a dig in Israel, it does nothing but support the fact that Israelis have had a presence there for 3,000 years. They have been there for a long time. The coins, the cities, the pottery, the culture–there are other people, groups that are there, but there is no mistaking the fact that Israelis have been present in that land for 3,000 years.

It predates any claims that other peoples in the regions may have. The ancient Philistines are extinct. Many other ancient peoples are extinct. They do not have the unbroken line to this date that the Israelis have.

Even the Egyptians of today are not racial Egyptians of 2,000, 3,000 years ago. They are primarily an Arab people. The land is called Egypt, but they are not the same racial and ethnic stock as the old Egyptians of the ancient world. The first Israelis are in fact descended from the original Israelites. The first proof, then, is the archaeology.

The second reason is historic right

The second proof of Israel’s right to the land is the historic right. History supports it totally and completely. We know there has been an Israel up until the time of the Roman Empire. The Romans conquered the land. Israel had no homeland, although Jews were allowed to live there. They were driven from the land in two dispersion: One was in 70 A,.D. and the other was in 135 A.D. But there was always a Jewish presence in the land.

The Turks, who took over about 700 years ago and ruled the land up until about World War I, had control. Then the land was conquered by the British. The Turks entered World War I on the side of Germany. The British knew they had to do something to punish Turkey, and also to break up that empire that was going to be a part of the whole effort of Germany in World War I. So the British sent troops against the Turks in the Holy Land.

One of the generals who was leading the British armies was a man named Allenby.  Allenby was a Bible-believing Christian. He carried a Bible with him everywhere he went and he knew the significance of Jerusalem.

The night before the attack against Jerusalem to drive out the Turks, Allenby prayed that God would allow him to capture the city without doing damage to the holy places.

That day, Allenby sent World War I biplanes over the city of Jerusalem to do a reconnaissance mission. You have to understand that the Turks had at that time never seen an airplane. So there they were, flying around. They looked in the sky and saw these fascinating inventions and did not know what they were, and they were terrified by them. Then they were told they were going to be opposed by a man named Allenby the next day, which means, in their language, “man sent from God” or “prophet from God.” They dared not fight against a prophet from God, so the next morning, when Allenby went to take Jerusalem, he went in and captured it without firing a single shot.

The British Government was grateful to Jewish people around the world, particularly to one Jewish chemist who helped them manufacture niter. Niter is an ingredient that was used in nitroglycerin which was sent over from the New World. But they did not have a way of getting it to England. The German U-boats were shooting on the boats, so most of the niter they were trying to import to make nitroglycerin was at the bottom of the ocean. But a man named Weitzman, a Jewish chemist, discovered a way to make it from materials that existed in England. As a result, they were able to continue that supply.

The British at that time said they were going to give the Jewish people a homeland. That is all a part of history. It is all written down in history. They were gratified that the Jewish people, the bankers, came through and helped finance the war.

The homeland that Britain said it would set aside consisted of all of what is now Israel and all of what was then the nation of Jordan–the whole thing. That was what Britain promised to give the Jews in 1917.

In the beginning, there was some Arab support for this action. There was not a huge Arab population in the land at that time, and there is a reason for that. The land was not able to sustain a large population of people. It just did not have the development it needed to handle those people, and the land was not really wanted by anybody. Nobody really wanted this land. It was considered to be worthless land.

I want the Presiding Officer to hear what Mark Twain said. And, of course, you may have read “Huckleberry Finn” and “Tom Sawyer.” Mark Twain–Samuel Clemens–took a tour of Palestine in 1867. This is how he described that land. We are talking about Israel now. He said:

A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human being on the whole route. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.

Where was this great Palestinian nation? It did not exist. It was not there. Palestinians were not there. Palestine was a region named by the Romans, but at that time it was under the control of Turkey, and there was no large mass of people there because the land would not support them.

This is the report that the Palestinian Royal Commission, created by the British, made. It quotes an account of the conditions on the coastal plain along the Mediterranean Sea in 1913. This is the Palestinian Royal Commission. They said:

The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track, suitable for transport by camels or carts. No orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached the Yavnev village. Houses were mud. Schools did not exist. The western part toward the sea was almost a desert. The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.

That was 1913.

The French author Voltaire described Palestine as “a hopeless, dreary place.”

In short, under the Turks the land suffered from neglect and low population. That is a historic fact. The nation became populated by both Jews and Arabs because the land came to prosper when Jews came back and began to reclaim it. Historically, they began to reclaim it. If there had never been any archaeological evidence to support the rights of the Israelis to the territory, it is also important to recognize that other nations in the area have no longstanding claim to the country either.

Did you know that Saudi Arabia was not created until 1913, Lebanon until 1920? Iraq did not exist as a nation until 1932, Syria until 1941; the borders of Jordan were established in 1946 and Kuwait in 1961. Any of these nations that would say Israel is only a recent arrival would have to deny their own rights as recent arrivals as well. They did not exist as countries. They were all under the control of the Turks.

Historically, Israel gained its independence in 1948.

The third reason is the practical value

The third reason that land belongs to Israel is the practical value of the Israelis being there. Israel today is a modern marvel of agriculture. Israel is able to bring more food out of a desert environment than any other country in the world. The Arab nations ought to make Israel their friend and import technology from Israel that would allow all the Middle East, not just Israel, to become an exporter of food. Israel has unarguable success in its agriculture.

The fourth reason is humanitarian concern

The fourth reason I believe Israel has the right to the land is on the grounds of humanitarian concern. You see, there were 6 million Jews slaughtered in Europe in World War II. The persecution against the Jews had been very strong in Russia since the advent of communism. It was against them even before then under the Czars.

These people have a right to their homeland. If we are not going to allow them a homeland in the Middle East, then where? What other nation on Earth is going to cede territory, is going to give up land?

They are not asking for a great deal. The whole nation of Israel would fit into my home State of Oklahoma seven times. It would fit into the Presiding Officer’s State of Georgia seven times. They are not asking for a great deal. The whole nation of Israel is very small. It is a nation that, up until the time that claims started coming in, was not desired by anybody.

The fifth reason is Israel’s friendship

The fifth reason Israel ought to have their land is that she is a strategic ally of the United States. Whether we realize it or not, Israel is a detriment, an impediment, to certain groups hostile to democracies and hostile to what we believe in, hostile to that which makes us the greatest nation in the history of the world. They have kept them from taking complete control of the Middle East. If it were not for Israel, they would overrun the region. They are our strategic ally.

It is good to know we have a friend in the Middle East on whom we can count. They vote with us in the United Nations more than England, more than Canada, more than France, more than Germany–more than any other country in the world.

The sixth reason is a roadblock to terrorism

The sixth reason is that Israel is a roadblock to terrorism. The war we are now facing is not against a sovereign nation; it is against a group of terrorists who are very fluid, moving from one country to another. They are almost invisible. That is whom we are fighting against today.

We need every ally we can get. If we do not stop terrorism in the Middle East, it will be on our shores. We have said this again and again and again, and it is true.

One of the reasons I believe the spiritual door was opened for an attack against the United States of America is that the policy of our Government has been to ask the Israelis, and demand it with pressure, not to retaliate in a significant way against the terrorist strikes that have been launched against them.

Since its independence in 1948, Israel has fought four wars: The war in 1948 and 1949–that was the war for independence–the war in 1956, the Sinai campaign; the Six-Day War in 1967; and in 1973, the Yom Kippur War, the holiest day of the year, and that was with Egypt and Syria.

You have to understand that in all four cases, Israel was attacked. They were not the aggressor. Some people may argue that this was not true because they went in first in 1956, but they knew at that time that Egypt was building a huge military to become the aggressor. Israel, in fact, was not the aggressor and has not been the aggressor in any of the four wars.

Also, they won all four wars against impossible odds. They are great warriors. They consider a level playing field being outnumbered 2 to 1.

There were 39 Scud missiles that landed on Israeli soil during the gulf war. Our President asked Israel not to respond. In order to have the Arab nations on board, we asked Israel not to participate in the war. They showed tremendous restraint and did not. Now we have asked them to stand back and not do anything over these last several attacks.

We have criticized them. We have criticized them in our media. Local people in television and radio often criticize Israel, not knowing the true facts. We need to be informed.

I was so thrilled when I heard a reporter pose a question to our Secretary of State, Colin Powell. He said:

Mr. Powell, the United States has advocated a policy of restraint in the Middle East. We have discouraged Israel from retaliation again and again and again because we’ve said it leads to continued escalation–that it escalates the violence. Are we going to follow that preaching ourselves?

Mr. Powell indicated we would strike back. In other words, we can tell Israel not to do it, but when it hits us, we are going to do something.

But all that changed in December when the Israelis went into the Gaza with gunships and into the West Bank with F-16s. With the exception of last May, the Israelis had not used F-16s since the 1967 6-Day War. And I am so proud of them because we have to stop terrorism. It is not going to go away. If Israel were driven into the sea tomorrow, if every Jew in the Middle East were killed, terrorism would not end. You know that in your heart. Terrorism would continue.

It is not just a matter of Israel in the Middle East. It is the heart of the very people who are perpetrating this stuff. Should they be successful in overrunning Israel–which they won’t be–but should they be, it would not be enough. They will never be satisfied.

The seventh reason is that God said so

No. 7, I believe very strongly that we ought to support Israel; that it has a right to the land. This is the most important reason: Because God said so. As I said a minute ago, look it up in the book of Genesis. It is right up there on the desk.

In Genesis 13:14-17, the Bible says:

The Lord said to Abram, “Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward and westward: for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever. ….. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it to thee.”

That is God talking.

The Bible says that Abram removed his tent and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar before the Lord. Hebron is in the West Bank. It is at this place where God appeared to Abram and said, “I am giving you this land,” — the West Bank.

This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true. The seven reasons, I am convinced, clearly establish that Israel has a right to the land.

Eight years ago on the lawn of the White House, Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. It was a historic occasion. It was a tragic occasion.

At that time, the official policy of the Government of Israel began to be, “Let us appease the terrorists. Let us begin to trade the land for peace.” This process continued unabated up until last year. Here in our own Nation, at Camp David, in the summer of 2000, then Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak offered the most generous concessions to Yasser Arafat that had ever been laid on the table.

He offered him more than 90 percent of all the West Bank territory, sovereign control of it. There were some parts he did not want to offer, but in exchange for that he said he would give up land in Israel proper that the PLO had not even asked for.

And he also did the unthinkable. He even spoke of dividing Jerusalem and allowing the Palestinians to have their capital there in the East. Yasser Arafat stormed out of the meeting. Why did he storm out of the meeting? Everything he had said he wanted was offered there. It was put into his hands. Why did he storm out of the meeting?

A couple of months later, there began to be riots, terrorism. The riots began when now Prime Minister Ariel Sharon went to the Temple Mount. And this was used as the thing that lit the fire and that caused the explosion.

Did you know that Sharon did not go unannounced and that he contacted the Islamic authorities before he went and secured their permission and had permission to be there? It was no surprise.

The response was very carefully calculated. They knew the world would not pay attention to the details.

They would portray this in the Arab world as an attack upon the holy mosque. They would portray it as an attack upon that mosque and use it as an excuse to riot. Over the last 8 years, during this time of the peace process, where the Israeli public has pressured its leaders to give up land for peace because they are tired of fighting, there has been increased terror.

In fact, it has been greater in the last 8 years than any other time in Israel’s history. Showing restraint and giving in has not produced any kind of peace. It is so much so that today the leftist peace movement in Israel does not exist because the people feel they were deceived.

They did offer a hand of peace, and it was not taken. That is why the politics of Israel have changed drastically over the past 12 months. The Israelis have come to see that, “No matter what we do, these people do not want to deal with us…… They want to destroy us.” That is why even yet today the stationery of the PLO still has upon it the map of the entire state of Israel, not just the tiny little part they call the West Bank that they want. They want it all.

We have to get out of this mind set that somehow you can buy peace in the Middle East by giving little plots of land. It has not worked before when it has been offered.

These seven reasons show why Israel is entitled to that land. This article was by James Inhofe.

“Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107

The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


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