Question #1: I know Easter is coming up tomorrow and I don't expect you to answer this right away, but do you know the history of the word "Easter"? I have checked a number of sources. Some say that it and that spring goddess, Oestra, come from the same proto-German word, that means "to dawn" or "to rise." All say the word "east" comes from the same German word. Others say that it comes from "Ishtar". Some Christians won't celebrate Easter because they think it is a "pagan" festival, since the word "Easter" is used, and because that festival to "Ishtar" and "Oestre" fall about the same time as Easter does, though the latter moves around a lot. But Jesus rose from the dead in early spring, so when are we supposed to celebrate it--in the autumn? I'd like to know how a word that is essentially German could have come originally from an ancient Babylonian word. I have also found out that our Lord's Resurrection was celebrated quite early on in the early church, in some parts of the Roman Empire, long before even the Council of Nicea. Some Christians say it is the Roman Catholic church that gave us "Easter" and thus made us observe the "Ishtar" festival, which I think is absurd.
If you can shed some light on this, I would appreciate it. Thanks and have a blessed Resurrection Sunday (the name I personally prefer).
Well it's not in the Bible, that's for sure. Here is what the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says:
"The derivation of the name 'Easter' is uncertain. Acc. to [the Venerable] Bede, it is connected with the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess 'Eostre'. At any rate it seems clear that, as in the case of Christmas, the Christian feast of Easter has superseded an old pagan festival. The custom of exchanging 'Easter eggs' is of very ancient origin." p.437
Personally, I try to make it a point to remember my Lord and His resurrection every day. For a detailed treatment of what the Bible has to say about His resurrection and a chronology of it, please see the link in BB 4A Christology: "The Resurrection".
Please also see these related links:
Is it wrong for me to celebrate Easter?
How is the date of Easter computed?
Some questions about Nimrod and Christmas trees, Tongues, and Healing.
Hope that is of some help anyway!
Dear Dr Lunginbill
Hello again. Firstly I would like to thank you for all the wonderful series you have taken the time to write in ichthys, I find them very helpful and enjoy them greatly.
I have a question about Exodus 12:22. Where you say that the sprinkling of the blood on the door posts was in the form of the cross. I know they had to strike the lintel and side posts hard with the hyssop soaked with the lambs blood ( symbolic of Blood of Christ ) so that the hyssop leaves would become bruised and release the scent of oil, ( Hebrews believed oil was a repeller of evil spirits) Although the important thing here to remember is the blood.
Can you please explain to me how the blood was in the form of a cross, as it does not mention that in the bible. although strangely I have always believed it was put on each door in the form of a cross. Please excuse my ignorance, I have only a few months ago become much more intense in my faith. I suppose I had been lukewarm for years thinking I was a devoted Christian, but reading my bible more I realised I was not. But now I am, I don't worry about anything anymore because I know God sorts it out, my business and everything else has taken a back seat, most of my time is devoted to quiet time reading my bible, I have finally after searching hard just found a small church which is more like a big family. The church has a drop in center where the homeless stay at night and have a good dinner and breakfast, the church goers also help out with the city mission and a large part of the church are mission workers who are overseas most of the time. The people at the church are very humble and loving and the service is peaceful not theatrical. I let God guide me to the right church and the right people he led me to the church and to you also.
I hope you and your family have a safe and peaceful Easter at this most important time of the year.
Thank you from Tasmania, In our dear lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Very good to hear from you again. Here is how the NIV translates Exodus 12:22:
Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe.
Hyssop here is being used as a sort of "paint brush" to apply the blood of the sacrifice, and the blood itself is thus applied to the overhead portion of the door and to the two sides of the door. The fact that it is only "some of the blood" indicates to me that the entire lintel and door frames are not painted in toto, but rather that they are touching the top of the lintel once directly overhead, and each side frame once at about shoulder height. The three points thus painted correspond to the top point of the vertical beam of the cross and to the two end points of the horizontal beam of the cross. Going through the door also calls to mind entering through the narrow door which is Jesus Christ, and only doing so through His blood, the death He died for us on the cross (which this literal blood symbolizes; see the link: in BB 4A, "The Blood of Christ"). So although it does not say anything specifically about a cross, the ritual definitely pictures a cross, and very dramatically so.
I am very pleased that you have found a church family and a place where you can effectively employ your gifts in service to our Lord. Thank you so much for all your kind and enthusiastic sentiments! May this be a blessed Easter for you and your family as well.
In the One who died and rose for us that we might live forever with Him, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.
Hello Brother Bob,
It's a gloomy day here in Ohio. Hope all is well on your end. Have been looking at the scarlet thread through the bible, and would like your thoughts (Holy Spirit inspired). Also, somewhere I thought Jesus was referred to as "the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world". If so, in God's sovereign plan before the beginning of time as we know it, would this be the beginning of the thread?
As always, I look forward to your thoughts!
Always good to hear from you. On the thread, the Hebrew word for this is chut, and it only actually occurs twice in scripture with the word "scarlet": 1) in Song 4:3 where it is metaphorical but without a salvation context as far as I can see; 2) in the story of Rahab and the spies in Josh.2:18. The second passage can be interpreted as an image of salvation: Jesus is our life-line, but only through His blood which washed away our sins (and I am inclined to think that this is the correct interpretation of the symbolism in that passage). However, I do not see any general pattern of the rope/line/thread as being a particular metaphor for salvation elsewhere in scripture. The color scarlet, on the other hand, does always carry with it the representation of blood, whereby we understand the "blood of Christ" (see the link: in BB 4A, "The Blood of Christ"), His spiritual death on the cross whereby all our sins were expiated (i.e., the scarlet wool and hyssop, the scarlet in the tabernacle's curtains, and the scarlet in the high priest's ephod; and cf. Is.1:18).
On the second question, this is yet another case of improper translation wreaking havoc with Christian doctrine. Greek word order is more flexible than English word order, but not every translator or exegete takes that into consideration in some of these instances where we find clauses or phrases "misplaced" according to our English way of thinking about these things. In the case of this verse, failure to place the prepositional phrase "before the foundation of the world" in the proper position (i.e., it is meant by John to apply to the book, not to the Lamb, in spite of its location in the Greek text) has resulted in much confusion. Here is how I translate the verse:
And all the inhabitants of the earth will worship [the beast], [that is, all] whose names are not [still] written in the book of life [where they were written] from the beginning of the world, [even the book] which belongs to the Lamb who was slain.
As this translation indicates, it is the book of life that was written before the foundation of the world, and the book "belongs to the Lamb" because He is the One who paid the price so that all might be saved. The Lamb was slain on Calvary "once and for all" (Rom.6:10; Heb.9:26). Jesus' sacrifice certainly has always been the foundation, the cornerstone, the Rock on which the entire plan of God has always been founded – but He was most assuredly not "slain before the beginning of creation". After all, He could not be slain until He first became a human being.
This improper translation (shared in essence by most of the major versions) has two major and unfortunate side-effects: 1) it confuses the nature of Christ's sacrifice by introducing some seemingly "mystical" element into it which points in entirely the wrong direction in leading away from an understanding of the necessity for the incarnation; and 2) it also confuses the purpose of the book of life – and that has terrible repercussions for the proper understanding of the issues involved in salvation. All human beings were written in the book even before God created the universe. On the basis of Christ's sacrifice to come (cf. Rom.3:25-26), all human beings were given "life" positionally as a gift, so that while the natural state of all at birth is one of experiential condemnation, born under sin, God's gracious provision of the sacrifice of His one and only dear Son included in His plan since before the beginning of time carries with it the potential salvation of all. Indeed, all people are actually "written" in His book of life, and it is only those whose names are not found in the book who are condemned at the last judgment (Rev.20:15). And God does not blot out anyone's name arbitrarily: they have to do this themselves, in effect, through active rejection of salvation (denying Jesus Christ) or passive rejection of salvation (failing to accept Jesus Christ in this life).
The one who believes in Him is not being judged, but the one who does not believe has already been judged on the grounds that he has not put his faith in the Name (i.e., the Person) of God's only Son.
In this we see the profound mercy and goodness of our Lord, and also the extreme importance of individual choice and free will in His plan. We also see the incredible arrogance and hardness of the human heart, for most people who have or will ever live on this earth, have by their own choice had their names blotted out of the book of eternal life, provided by God and offered freely to all on the basis of Christ's death for us all.
Please see the following links:
"I will not erase his name from the book" (in CT 2A)
The Book of Life (Rev.13:8) in CT 4
Tithing and the Book of Life.
The Book of Life (Rev.17:8)
In the One by whom and with whom and for whom we shall live forever, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Why is God referred to as the LORD our GOD. Is there a difference between the 2 titles? Thanks in advance!
These are two different Hebrew words which are picked up and translated by two different Greek words in the New Testament. The English word LORD or sometimes Lord (depending upon the version – personally I do not like the all-caps format) is the tetragrammaton, that is, the four consonant name of God as revealed to Moses at the burning bush: YHVH (יהוה) variously vocalized by scholars as Jaweh, Jehovah, etc. However, since wherever it occurs in the Hebrew Bible it has been give the vowel points for a different word altogether, the word 'Adonai, and it is the Hebrew tradition to say 'Adonai (אדני) wherever this holiest of names for the Lord occurs. Now 'Adonai is the plural form of 'Adon, (אדן) akin to "sir" in English (a plural of majesty, as in "we are not amused") with a first person singular suffix attached. Literally it would means something like "my sirs", but since that makes no sense in English, our most common practice in English is to use the word Lord (or LORD), though some versions and traditions use Jehovah et al. In Greek, the word YHVH (יהוה) is translated as kyrios (κύριος) as in kyrie eleeison, "Lord, have mercy". And since the inspired writers of the New Testament translated YHVH (יהוה) with a comparable Greek word rather than transliterating YHVH into Greek, our use of the word "Lord/LORD" is certainly also sanctified (please see the link: "Changing the Name of God?").
The word "God" is the Hebrew 'elohiym (אלהים) a plural noun. In my understanding of scripture, 'elohiym is the generic word for God and is often employed where a single member of the Trinity is not obviously in view. Since it is a plural, it also calls attention to the plurality of Persons of the Godhead (just as YHVH / Lord focuses on a single member at a time). The Greek equivalent is theos (i.e., "theology"), and again there was no attempt at transliteration by those who wrote the New Testament under the Holy Spirit's inspiration.
In my view, the reason why God is sometimes describes in scripture as "The Lord our God" is generally to distinguish Him, Jesus Christ our Savior, the visible Person of the Trinity, from all other false gods:
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
1st Corinthians 3:5-6 NIV
Please see also the following links:
The Names of the Trinity (in BB 1)
Jehovah (in BB 1)
Jesus' use of "I AM" from Exodus 3:14 in John 8:58
The meaning of Jesus' words, "I am" in John 8:58
The name "Jesus".
The name "Christ" (in BB 4A)
Names of Christ (in BB 4A)
The Divine Name
Changing the Name of God?
Divine Names in the Bible
In our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Good morning Bob,
How are you? I am well and keeping busy as usual. I have a question for you. I cannot find the scripture where the Lord tells one of his prophets (I think) in the Old Testament that he wants to show him the secret room where the Baal worshipers meet in secret in the Temple of Solomon. Do you know where it is?
Good to hear from you. I have been keeping you and your youngest son in particular in my prayers. You may be conflating two passages here. In Ezekiel chapter 8 we find our Lord decrying the idolatry at His temple, and in verses 7-11 in particular we may have what you are referring to:
Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall. He said to me, "Son of man, now dig into the wall." So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there. And he said to me, "Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here." So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and unclean animals and all the idols of the house of Israel. In front of them stood seventy elders of the house of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising.
Ezekiel 8:7-11 TNIV
There is no mention of Baal here, however. We do find something similar in regard to Baal, not in the temple of Solomon but in the pagan temple of Samaria on the occasion of Jehu's destruction of the priests of Baal in 2nd Kings10:21-28:
And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another. And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments. And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only. And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him. And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal. And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day. Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.
2nd Kings10:21-28 KJV
Please do let me no if neither of these passages are what you had in mind, and I will do my level best to help you find what you are looking for.
In our dear Lord Jesus,
I heard in a debate how an atheist said that the bible has a contradiction where Jesus said in Mark 2:26 that Abiathar was the high priest when it was Ahimelech as mentioned in 1 Sam.21:1-6. I've heard many different interpretations as to how this so-called contradiction is resolved, but the problem is I don't know which one is accurate. I've even heard someone go so far as to say that Jesus misquoted the OT which I know is definitely the wrong answer. Why did Jesus mention Abiathar instead of Ahimelech?
As your prior research suggests, this is a rather complicated historical problem, but I wish to commend you for your absolutely correct attitude about it: Jesus did not misquote nor misunderstand the Old Testament passages which refer to this event – indeed, He understood them far better than any of us ever will, and that fact is, I believe, reflected in His reference to Abiathar as high priest rather than to Ahimelech.
To begin, the text in the New Testament which reads Abiathar at Mark 6:26 is correct and there is no doubt about it (only a few later "western" witnesses omit it): this is what Jesus said and what He meant to say. The Old Testament scriptures which deal with this issue do not present a simple picture, but I believe it is more straight-forward than is often supposed. Scholars are well aware that the text of Samuel (one book really in Hebrew) and Chronicles (same situation) are the two most textually challenged books in the Bible. If there are copyist mistakes anywhere, these would be the most likely places to find them, and genealogical information is the easiest sort of place to make copy errors (since the names are either unfamiliar or too familiar or otherwise occurring in lists of the sort that induce lapses, etc.).
There is however some very interesting information to be gleaned from the passages that attest to the two names above. As Keil and Delitzsch point out in their Commentary on the Old Testament (still absolutely the best commentary where Hebrew language issues are concerned), 1st Chronicles 24:6 ensures that the reversal of names we expect which occurs both in 2Sam.8:17 and 1st Chronicles 18:16 is not an error but a deliberate presentation. It is difficult to see how "Ahimelech son of Abiathar" could come to replace a "correct" version, "Abiathar son of Ahimelech" in all three places listed, especially given Abiathar's prominent role in David's "troubles". We may add to the pertinent data 1st Kings 4:4 where Solomon's priests are listed as "Zadok and Abiathar"; since David exiled Abiathar for his role in Adonijah's attempted coup, this could not be the same person – but that does not mean that the biblical record is incorrect.
All of these passages can be reconciled by understanding a family tradition in this line of son/father/son/father name alternation (of the sort that is famous in Scandinavian countries). Parallels include John the baptist's relatives assuming that he would be named Zechariah after his father or alternatively after someone else in his family (Lk.1:59-61), and the recurrent names Maacah and Tamar in Absalom's branch of the Davidic family (1Ki.15:2; see NIV text note). According to this interpretation, Ahimelech is the son of Abiathar, his son's name is Ahimelech, who in turn has a son Abiathar. The rest of the solution deals with the concept of "high priest". In none of these passages is the high priest identified. We know from the Law (e.g., in Num.35:25 where the perpetrator of manslaughter must stay in the city of refuge "until the death of the high priest"), and from many later references that there was such an office. But as the Numbers passage shows, this was a life-long position. We also know that in the kingship of Judah, very often the "king", who was in one sense king for life, would "retire" and allow a son to reign in his stead (that is the only way to make the chronologies of the Kings and Chronicles "work"; see Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings).
So I would conjecture that the true "high priest" was such until his death even at this time when David came to Nob; his name would be Abiathar (just as Jesus records it), and his son, Ahimelech, would be the person actually functioning in the main priestly role (Abiathar having retired from active duty on account of age). This would explain all of the other references above as well, even though they are often reputed to be "mistakes". We should not assume that it is the true "high priest" who is always the one being referred to, since the scriptures never say so. In fact, it may often be the case of a reference to his son who has taken over the duties (yet is not "officially" the high priest until his father's death). We probably have to do here with a "first" Abiathar (only mentioned by Jesus but known to Him through some other source), Ahimelech (killed by Saul), Abiathar (serving David but exiled at the end), and Ahimelech, his son, who had a role in David's reformation of the priestly duties, and, finally, his son, Abiathar the one mentioned as part of Solomon's hierarchy (the great, great grandson of the Abiathar named by Jesus).
One last point to make here. I believe the above to be right, but even if I did not have what I feel to be the correct answer to this problem and could only offer up several flimsy theories or suppositions (along the lines of what you have already no doubt encountered), that would not mean that Jesus was wrong or that the Bible was in error. There will be times when we will be faced with "apparent contradictions" in scripture; the growth of our faith virtually demands it, and we have to make up our mind ahead of time to believe the truth even when we cannot (for the moment) understand it, having faith that in time our prayers for elucidation will be answered.
Without any question, people who are intent on ferreting out supposed "errors" are doing the devil's work; they are not "seeking the truth", and the odds of them ever being turned around are virtually nil. Confronted with absolute proof of the veracity of everything the Bible has to say they would be not one millimeter closer to salvation because in truth they have absolutely no desire for a relationship with God. Having been given free will for the purpose of believing in Jesus, they have instead chosen to use it to oppose Him, and have the gall in their total lack of grace to seek to justify their rebellion by "throwing it back in God's face". God loves them and wants them to be saved; Jesus died for all their sins. But neither God's matchless grace or our good intentions in trying to persuade them will make any difference if they remain content to blaspheme Him and His truth at will, and seek to ease their own guilty consciences by attempting to destroy the faith of others.
But as for you and me, let us keep walking up the straight and narrow way, for that is the only way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Dear Dr. Luginbill--Hi; quick question for you here. I love the Greek word "Adiophora--neither commanded nor forbidden; morally neutral." I think it means something else also but I forget...anyway, isn't it in the bible? If so, could you please tell me where, so I can see the context? I have a Strong's, but I obviously can't look up "neither commanded nor forbidden." I can't think of one word to describe that. I would greatly appreciate it; thanks. And God bless
Do you mean adiaphoria? My lexicon has "indifference, neglect, absence of difference, equivalence of signification. It's a Stoic word. It doesn't occur in the NT or the LXX. It does show up in many of the Greek Fathers (Eusebius, Theodorus, Clement of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Chrysostum, etc.). Attached please find a page of TLG listings for the word.
Hi--Yes, adiaphoria. So, it's a concept described in the Bible, correct? Like "Trinity" which isn't in the Bible, but describes the concept of God's three-in-oneness?
Well, the Trinity is certainly in the Bible. As to adiaphoria, it would all depend on what you mean by the word. Aristo uses it to define the Stoic goal of life as "indifference" (adiaphoria). The few references I checked in religious writers seem to equate or at least pair this word with kataphronesis ("studied contempt") and apply it to unbelievers / opponents of Christianity; where I suppose this would be the passive side of contempt ("studied indifference"). The closest thing I can come up with in scripture from the negative side is the porosis ("hardening") of the heart which is also described as darkening, vanity, and "desensitizing" in, e.g., Eph.4:17-19. On the positive side, of course there are many verses which teach us to accept our situation in this world (e.g., 1Thes.5:18), and of course Paul tells us that he has "learned to be content whatever the circumstances" (Phil.4:11-13). Incidentally, that is the force or thrust of the concluding comment, so often completely misapplied, "I can bear up under anything in the One who empowers me" (v.13). It's always disheartening to hear Christians, Christian athletes in particular, use this verse when they are striving competitively (as if there were anything sanctified about athletics), for the scriptural idea is, of course, one of enduring whatever situation the Lord has called upon us to endure. Related to this is the idea of autarkeia – which may be what you were thinking of – often transliterated directly into English as autarky (or less correctly autharchy). It's used in English for economic self-sufficiency, but Paul uses it for being satisfied with what we've got or "contentment", that is, the opposite of pleonexia, the lust for more than we need (greed): 2Cor.9:8; 1Tim.6:6; cf. the adj. used in the Philippians passage and usually translated "content": Phil.4:8).
I would see a big difference between a Stoical "apathy" and a Christian "contentment". Stoics (and like-minded religions and philosophies) comfort themselves with the idea of eventual oblivion: nothing really matters because everything will come to nothing in the end (and thus there is no objective point in fear or distress even in terrible circumstances); we Christians on the other hand are to comfort ourselves in the hope and faith of something far better on the other side, so that, rather than "nothing really matters", we have the attitude that "everything matters, and dramatically so!" For even a cup of water given in the Lord's Name will not fail to receive its reward, and we look forward to enjoying those rewards in resurrection and eternal life with the Lord who bought us forevermore. Hardly the stuff of indifference.
Please see the link in CT 6: "The Judgment and Reward of the Church"
As you know, in Romans Paul uses the image of the body of death. I have the notion this is a reference to the punishment Mezentius inflicted on murderers - fastening a living body to a putrid carcass. If a man was seen by two eye-witnesses to have murdered someone, the man was tried and then taken to a public square. There he was stripped and repeatedly struck with a whip designed to cut his flesh from the neck down to his legs. At this point the dead body of his victim was tied to his back where the rotting flesh infected his own body and led to a slow and horrible death.
Please let me tap into your knowledge of Greek culture. Is this accurate? Is their an extant reference to Mezentius on this topic?
Thank you brother,
The Etruscans had a reputation (and from what I have seen of their wall paintings it was certainly deserved) of being especially cruel and brutal to their victims, often in a very formalized way. The story you relate seems to come from Vergil's Aeneid (Book 8, lines 478ff.), where Mezentius, an Etruscan king, is used by Vergil as a foil to heap up all the opprobrium due Etruria onto one character. He seems to do so to present him as a sort of Mark Antony in response to Aeneas' paralleling of Augustus (a major purpose of the Aeneid as is well known).
At any rate, that is the locus classicus. There is a relatively "new" article which says something about the origins of this rumor: Leah Kronenberg, Transactions of the American Philological Society, volume 135, no.2, pp.403-431 (see especially page 408ff.). The historicity of it all seems quite doubtful.
What really matters to me now is the veracity of the claim that 'body of death' was a death penalty used by the Romans. All the searches I do that comment on it at all suggest they did. Can you suggest a historian of ancient Rome who I could ask about this?
Well, this particular form torture you ask about is referred to in Vergil's Aeneid and attributed to the pre-Roman era Etruscans (the article citation I gave you says that Aristotle and some others report similar things – also in regard to the Etruscans, not the Romans). I don't know of any reference to anything like this about the Romans, and I am certain that this is not in Paul's mind when speaks about the indwelling sin nature in Romans six et al.
For more on the sin nature from the biblical point of view (including exegesis of most of these critical Pauline passages), please see the link: in BB 3B Hamartiology: "The Sin Nature".