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Gospel Questions VIII

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Question #1:

Dear Bob,

Some time ago I finished my first read-through of the New Testament, and I'm starting my second go with the NASB version of the bible. I'm already at Matthew 9 (going to read 9 and 10 tonight, actually), though I had some questions about Matthew 5 and 7. I hope this email won't be too large, but there are a few questions in total. The first one is: who are all of the Blessed Jesus is speaking about, and how do we know which category we fall into? Am I thinking about this the wrong way/overthinking this, and we all fall under those categories? Now that I think about it, are these attitudes -all of them- we should have, and we shouldn't aim to fall under one particular 'category'?

In Matthew 5: 21-22, is there some hidden meaning I feel I am missing? Is he referring to simply loving one another and to not let yourself be overcome by feelings of bitterness or hate and unforgiveness? Now that I think about it, it's hard to forgive someone if there are continued feelings of resentment the person will not let go of. Is this what He's referring to?

In Matthew 5: 38-42, he says "Do not resist an evil person", though I have a feeling He is not necessarily speaking of pacifism. I have a feeling this is once more referring to loving your neighbor, or to "love your friends, but especially your enemies" (or was it bless? Same thing?) and to be humble. Is this what He is speaking of?

In Matthew 7: 1-2, where He speaks of not judging others, which sounds simple enough. I suppose what I'm really curious about here is: how do we not judge? What form of judging is He speaking of? Not making a judgement about someone at first, or not judging a person, but merely judging their actions?

Finally, in Matthew 7: 21-23, He is speaking of how not all who approach him will be allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Obviously He is not speaking of any true believers, but He also can't be speaking of unbelievers since they would not bother approaching Him, right?

I'm sorry for the long post, and these are a lot of questions. I'm hoping it won't be too much trouble to answer them, and feel free to ignore any (or all) of them if you wish. Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon.

Response #1:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend. These are good questions, and, happily, admit of simple answers:

1) The "blessed" – or more correctly "happy" – of the beatitudes are indeed believers, and the characteristics of each of these statements apply to us all. I translate "you are [should be] happy" in all such cases "even when" X/Y/Z happens, because we have a better and enduring kingdom soon to come which makes all the troubles of this world fade in comparison (see the link: "The Beatitudes").

2) These words are certainly true. Consider, anyone who has ever sinned a single sin is guilty enough to go to hell; indeed, anyone who has ever used their free will at all has sinned. "How then can anyone be saved?" is the logical response to all our Lord's observations on this score (cf. Mk.10:26ff.). And the answer is that this is possible only with God, that is, through the cross whereby all of our sins were atoned for by our dear Lord Jesus, making possible forgiveness by God's grace – through faith.

3) Love is an attitude of mind. This is the attitude we are to have toward everyone. Not a condemnatory attitude. Not an attitude of hate. Not looking to harm anyone for any reason, but seeking their first best destiny for all in being saved through the blood of Christ. That is what we wish for ourselves, and it is what we should seek for all others. As to resistance, I would agree that this is not talking about situations where intentional and substantial harm to someone from a domestic criminal or foreign military is involved. Being killed ends free will, after all, and this verse is talking about preserving the choice of others and maximizing our witness, not allowing it to be ended through criminal behavior, e.g.

4) Judgment is also an attitude. We conceive a thought that judges someone to condemnation; this can soon escalate into what we say and what we do. We need to learn to leave these sorts of things to God. Only He knows what is in a person's heart of hearts – and we can potentially be wrong even in what seems to be very obvious circumstances. This does not mean we are not to evaluate conduct as good or bad (especially if they work for us, for example), or individuals as potentially threatening or not; it does mean we are not to condemn others or assign them to certain negative categories beyond what prudence dictates – that is God's business.

5) At the last judgment, there will be those who approach the Lord to save themselves, but now too late. They are not believers (that is, they did not have any use for Him while still alive), and would not now be saying "Lord, Lord" except that they want to avoid hell – they aren't really willing to be subordinate to Him from their own uncoerced free will. By way of application, it should also be pointed out that there will also be those who did believe at one point but later abandoned their faith (see the link: Apostasy). This will be as if the Lord "never knew them" (even if they are not the focus of this comment). All the more reason to put the highest premium on preserving our faith in Jesus Christ no matter what – "especially as you see the day drawing near" (Heb.10:25).

I do hope this helps with your questions – feel free to write back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

As true followers of Christ Jesus, can you please explain John 6:51-56 ("I am the bread of life")?

Response #2:

Good to make your acquaintance. As to your question, the symbolism our Lord uses in this passage is the same as the symbolism of the communion service. The bread represents the body of Christ, that is, His perfect person as the God-man, true humanity and undiminished deity in One unique person since the incarnation. The blood represents the work of Christ, that is, the cross, our Lord's bearing of the sins of the entire world and paying the entire penalty for them in the three hours of darkness. To be saved, a person has to accept Jesus Christ as their Substitute. Salvation has already been provided for in grace, but forgiveness comes and salvation results only when someone accepts Christ, His person and His work, through faith.

Faith is represented by eating and drinking. Eating and drinking are easy and have no merit attached to them. All that is required is the will to do so. Just so, putting one's trust in someone requires no meritorious or difficult action. All that is required is the free will decision to do so. Everyone knows that death is coming, that God exists and is absolutely righteous (these things are clear from what He has made: e.g., Ps.8; Rom.1:18-32); therefore all know that after death they will be unable to stand before perfect God on their own merits. But for all who want to be forgiven, for all who want to live eternally with God, for all who would gladly trade their own free will for His WILL in order to escape divine judgment, God provides the good news: He has sent His dear Son Jesus to die for all sin.

Accept Jesus Christ, who He is (His perfect person, human and divine), and accept His work, what He has done (atoning for all sins on the cross), and you will be saved. Eat the bread and drink the blood. If you do, you are saved. If you put your faith in Jesus who died for your sins on the cross, you have eternal life. This is the one way of salvation. This is the narrow gate that leads to life eternal (link: God's Free Gift).

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12 NKJV

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #3:

Hi Bob,

I was doing studying of the Proto-Indo-European language, when I noticed this very peculiar verse in ancient Sanskrit (specifically in the Rigveda). First of all, the Rigveda is from 1700–1100 BC, which clearly predates the Gospel of John :

Prajapatir vai idam-agre asit
Tasya vak dvitiya asit
Vak vai Paramam Brahma

This translates to English as:

In the beginning was the Creator
With him was the word
And the word was truly the supreme reality (!)

How did Indian pagans know about this concept 1000 years before John?!

Response #3:

I don't have any Sanskrit, so I am not in a position to judge to what degree the translation provided is close to the original or, on the other hand, to what degree it has been "spun" to make it sound as close as possible to the verbiage of John's Gospel. Heraclitus in Greek can sound close too (in his description of the logos), but in context it is clear that he doesn't mean anything like what John means.

The best deceptions are the ones that contain a goodly amount of truth. If you are trying to poison someone, the best approach is put an almost imperceptible amount of poison in an otherwise delicious meal. This is often what the devil does. In his temptation of Eve, there is much about his lies which is 1) true, and 2) very appealing to believe although false. The links on this are: "Satan's strategy in tempting Eve" and "The Insidious Nature of False Teaching". Satan's temptation of Christ also demonstrates his tactics in this respect (see the link). And, finally, we know that the false miracles of the false prophet are prophesied to deceive many during the Tribulation "even the elect, if that were possible" (Matt.24:24). So it should come as no surprise that all manner of deceptive things such as what you report are out there in the world – which is in the lap of the evil one at present.

Keep fighting the good fight, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your quick response! According to the well-known apologist J.P. Holding (whom I also emailed), it appears that this translation may have been "spun." A more accurate translation, with respect to the context, would translate the last line as "Speech, O Emperor, is the supreme reality."

Response #4:

Thanks. I had my suspicions.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Dear Bob,

Today I read over 2 chapters of Exodus, and two of Luke, and have a couple of questions.

First, Exodus 6:24-26. Why was the Lord coming to kill Moses, or was about to? Was the wording off and he came to kill his son because he was uncircumcised?

Secondly is Luke 6: 30, which Jesus says "If something is taken from you, do not try to get it back." I realize what this means, but I didn't know he said it before reading it today. If a person has been guilty of violating this, is it a simple matter of just repenting, learning, and moving on?

Response #5:

On Exodus 4:24-26, yes, failing to observe the essential sign of the covenant was a gross violation of the will of God, and not something the Lord was willing to condone in the man called to lead the entire Jewish people ("to whom much is given, much is expected": Lk.12:48). For more on this please see the link: "Moses and Zipporah 1", "Moses and Zipporah 2", and "Moses and Zipporah 3".

On Luke 6:30, I'm not sure what version you are using but the first half of the verse, in my opinion, is talking about giving to people who ask you for help; the second half of the verse is talking about our attitude towards those who have wrongfully taken things away from us. Needless to say, both of these are difficult standards for any of us to accept, but they are the standards of perfection. None of us is perfect, and I dare say that when we are all evaluated before Christ's judgment seat, it will be the rare believer who always gave whatever was asked to whomever asked and never defended him/herself against predatory behavior. As with every truth we find in scripture which is "hard", there are two things to keep in mind for every prudent believer: 1) the truth is the truth, and we need to guard against justifying ourselves as if these truths do not apply to us or as if we are not obligated to be perfect; 2) in fact we are not perfect, we live in the world which is also not perfect (and at present not under the perfect rule of the Messiah which these verses anticipate), and we are going to fall short in many ways and in many things. Moderation in such matters is therefore prudent. We should be giving, but I could not counsel a Christian to give up their house and their car just because someone asked them to. I am sure that is not what these verses mean – reasonable requests are meant, even though "reasonable" may involve "giving til it hurts". We should all be peaceable and avoid confrontation, but I could not counsel a Christian not to stand up to a criminal or not to stick up for his/her rights if they are being violently abused. I am sure that is not what these verses mean – being reasonably predisposed to avoid unnecessary violence is what is meant, even though "reasonable" may involve "swallowing one's pride" on occasion. So there is a point beyond which these two principles cannot extend for those of us living in the world, partially because we are not perfect, and partially because the world is not perfect. If we were perfect in our walk with Jesus, or nearly so, and especially if we lived under His perfect millennial rule, then nigh on perfect compliance would be a more do-able proposition. As it is, where we come down in the middle between the two extremes of absolute compliance (to the point of nonsensical and self-destructive behavior) and absolute neglect (to the point of hardheartedness) is a matter of conscience on the one hand (attempting to abide by our Lord's words as literally as possible) and prudence on the other (not wishing to be destroyed out of pure naivetι). This is one of those areas where our growth in spiritual maturity will provide ever more reasonable guidance.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Dear Bob,

I just finished Mark today, and wanted to ask about the ending to it. Jesus said that any who believe would be able to heal the sick by laying on hands, handle snakes safely, cast out demons, among other things. What did he mean by this, exactly? I'm not questioning or doubting, but am wondering what he meant? Well, I guess part of me -a small part- is doubting a bit, but only because we can't do any of these things today.. can we? I hope to hear your reply.

Also, I wanted to ask about commandments, two in particular, one old, one new. The most important one, to love God with all of your heart, mind, and strength. I get what the direction of it is: God is to be most important in your life. Is this the only meaning to this commandment, or is there more to it? What does it mean to love God with all of your heart, mind, and strength? Am I right in assuming it basically means to keep God as your top priority, pleasing Him? Living your life and doing everything in His name?

The second commandment is the one which asks us to Honor thy Father and Mother. It's, for the most part, self-explanatory, but was wondering what it specifically meant by 'honor'. Don't speak ill of, and do as they tell you, I assume is the meaning . . . or is there more to it?

I hope to hear from you soon.

Response #6:

Good to hear from you as always. As to your questions:

1) Mark chapter 16 ends at verse 8. All that other "stuff" is a late and false addition which should not be printed in any English Bible (in fact, there are a number of iterations of this particular interpolation; see the link: Erroneous Bible Additions). I commend your growing sense of what is right in wrong in scripture!

2) I think you put it well. If we tell someone "I love you", or more to the point, when someone tells us "I love you", we have an expectation of what that means, and the more important the relationship, the more this declaration ought to mean, especially in the prime temporal relationship, namely, that of husband and wife. No more important relationship exists than the one we have with Jesus Christ – and He is the Husband, the Head of the Bride, the Church, whose Bride we are. If we carried out this commandment perfectly, we would be perfect in our maturity and in our Christian application and walk, for then our Lord would truly be our "all in all" in every way. There is room for improvement for all of us when it comes to esteeming Him and His Word more than our lives. Spiritual growth, passing the test of life, and serving our Savior through serving His Church – as He has commanded us to do – is the "proof of the pudding" more than any emotional attitude we may call up from time to time.

3) The fifth commandment requires us to provide our parents with proper respect and to treat them in a respectful way, rendering them all response they are properly due. This commandment actually summarizes our responsibilities to temporal authority generally, since the family unit is the fundamental basis of all worldly authority and emblematic and representative of that authority (as the words "fatherland", "motherland", and "homeland" indicate as well; see the link: "The Ten Commandments").

Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13:7 NIV

The question, as this verse suggests, is therefore "what exactly is owed?". Our parents will always merit respectful treatment and kind consideration. If we are minors living with our parents, then we are under their "rule" to a very large degree (although that does mean condoning abuse nor does it mean that we are responsible to do things they tell us to do if those things are definitely wrong). If we are on our own, then, clearly, we are responsible for our own decisions, but we still should look after our parents' welfare and treat them well at all times. Precisely what this means is up to us to decide based upon the Holy Spirit's guidance of our conscience and our own common sense. I have certainly seen (as we all have) people who go too far one way or the other as adults, either paying their parents too much mind (e.g., letting them continue to run their lives) or too little (e.g., breaking off relations for insufficient reasons). For those like yourself – and there are increasingly more and more people in this situation – who are adults yet still living under their parents' roof for one reason or another, it seems to me that some mutually acceptable combination of the two approaches above has to be reached (if the arrangement is to continue for very long). And of course there is also the today less common but in years past very common situation of a parent or parents moving in with the children in old age. That is another sometimes difficult situation for both parties: the child has to maintain leadership of his own household, but needs to continue to treat the parent with respect; the parent should have no thought of taking command, but is still the parent and not the child. As in all things, the law of love and the guidance of the Spirit will make all of the particulars clear to the Christian child and Christian parent who are truly seeking God's will in all things.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

"Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." John 7:38

There doesn't seem to be any such scripture; on the other hand, this idea does occur in the apocryphal book of Sirach 24:30-32.

Response #7:

The problem here is with the English translations, specifically, the punctuation is wrong in most case. The verse should read:

"Whoever believes-in-me-as-Scripture-has-said [should be done], rivers of living water will flow from within them."
John 7:38 NIV

What the scriptures witness to is the need for believing in Christ (and that theme is ubiquitous in the Old Testament); all who do will, as Jesus prophesies, soon be given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #8:

I have noted something in my personal experiences with sin recently. I thought that I was somehow justified in my disobedience, and I feel that this fake justification is an important first step in sinning (much like the slothful servant in the parable of the talents). I want everyone to know that there is no good justification.

Now, I have some theological questions:

(1)

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do."
Matthew 23:2

So why ISN'T this a commandment to obey all of the law?

(2) When you say (http://ichthys.com/mail-Legalism-Past-Present.htm) "only after the return of the two witnesses, when the third temple is erected and the sacrifices reinstituted with all appropriate explanation as to their true post-cross purpose (i.e., as a memorial to the accomplished work of Jesus on the cross, rather than an anticipation of a future sacrifice), will God allow a revival of these practices," does this mean it will be O.K. for gentile believers to participate in this memorial?

(3) I was debating with a YEC (Young Earth creationist), who said that Jesus' phrase "apo de arches ktiseos" in Mark 10:6 always refers to all of creation, and therefore there cannot be a Genesis gap, since humans were from "the beginning of creation." Valid/Invalid, and why?

(4) I remember your argument against the long ending of Mark by how it was theologically incompatible with the Bible on baptism. However, Psalm 137 says "Happy is the one who seizes your infants, and dashes them against the rock." Wouldn't a clear reading say that this is theologically incompatible with the message of Jesus Christ?

Sincerely,

Response #8:

The other name for this is rationalization. Whenever we are determined to do something we know in our heart of hearts is wrong, we will almost always be tempted to come up with false reasons why it is not. There are disputable matters, and there is a valid place for weighing things out – in response to the Spirit's guidance. But when and if we have gotten our answer from the Spirit, we should stick with it, even if we don't like it (cf. Jeremiah chapters 42-43). Let me hasten to add that Jesus paid the price for all of your sins and mine those of the entire world. As a believer, forgiveness comes immediately upon turning back and confessing those sins. This does not necessarily put an immediate end to divine discipline, but it does change all such punishment from cursing to blessing and restores us to fellowship with the Master we love more than life.

As to your specific questions:

1) Not at all. What these individuals were telling the people to do was not even the Law, after all, but their own self-serving interpretations of it. However, they were the temporal authority at the time, and we should all obey the current temporal authority in almost all things (the exceptions being when what we are told to do or refrain from doing constitute absolute violations of what we must do and refrain from doing as Christians). It was in this spirit that our Lord paid the temple tax for Himself and Peter, even though as He pointed out it was really not necessary for Him to do so.

2) I don't believe so. The 144,000 will be sent to Israel, not to the gentiles, and the voluntary return or visit to the land that many who respond will make will be for those of Jewish ancestry, not for gentiles (the exception being for those who flee Babylon just before the end). The Tribulation will be a time jointly shared by the Age of Israel and the Age of the Church, so that uniquely during our post-cross era different standards will apply based upon genealogy.

3) The phrase "from the beginning of creation" only occurs three times in the NT: a) here; b) in Mark 13:19 where Adam and Eve are also in view, and c) in 2nd Peter 3:14 where it is put in the mouths of scoffers who do not even understand the pattern of God's creation nor accept the truth of it. So we should be reluctant to be too specific about building much on Peter's reference (since it comes from scoffers who are ignorant of the truth), and since the two Marcan passages refer to precisely the same time, they can't be used to interpret each other one way or the other. So this person's argument that the passage "always means X" is invalid because "always" is essentially only one time. The phrase taken without false theological animus means "from the beginning of the world", and it would be wrong to see this as precluding "the beginning of the world of mankind" – that is clearly what it means in any case since and the best interpretation of the Peter reference as well is talking primarily about human experience not cosmological beginnings. Finally, the phrase cannot mean "from the absolute moment of creation" because Adam and Eve were not created until the sixth day. If we "fudge" to make it fit and say, well, it just means "from the earliest days of humanity", that is fine with me, since such a rendering leaves the Genesis gap untouched.

4) In regard to your example, that is a question of knowing the times and eras. What is legitimate at one time, may not be at another:

Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.
Luke 22:35-36 NIV

The Lord Himself, after all, will splatter His garments with the blood of all who oppose Him when He returns in glory at the second advent (Rev.19:13; cf. Is.63:1).

The false ending of Mark purports to relate to the same period of time, i.e., the Church Age, that most of the rest of the New Testament relates to, and in doing so it is completely inconsistent with the teachings of what we know for certain is scripture. Christ's baptism, the Christian baptism, is the baptism of the Spirit, as our Lord tells us:

"For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Acts 1:5 NIV

In contrast, water-baptism's purpose was to reveal the Messiah to the Jewish people:

"I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel."
John 1:31 NIV

It is heretical in the extreme (not to mention personally spiritually dangerous) to assume that water-baptism has anything whatsoever to do with salvation (see the link) – but that is what this false passage says.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior, the One who died to wash away all of our sins,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Dear Bob,

Hey, I wanted to come to you with a couple of questions, but these are more general/non-specific questions which aren't particularly related to my study. Well, I don't recall if I've already spoken to you about this or not, but I recall one passage (not sure who said it: was it Jesus himself?) who essentially said "make no promises or oaths" because "let your yes mean yes, and no mean no", I think? Cause obviously, as a human, I've made promises before in the past, and again as a human, I've failed to accomplish what was promised. Now, I know the Lord forgives all sin, including broken promises ... but ... well, what about a promise or oath to God?

This was a long time ago, and it was when I was first saved, but during the time in which I wasn't particularly serious about my faith. I made a promise to God to do something (or in my case, not do/avoid something) which I thought at the time would be easy and not a problem. In hindsight, it really was easy and not a problem ... but I failed to keep the promise, regardless. I don't even remember if I used the word 'oath' or not. Obviously, I know to never make mistakes like that in the future, but what about the one in the past? Are they forgiven like all other sin?

Also, I think I might've read about this next subject here on Ichthys at some point, but I was just curious: what is the difference between Catholicism and Christianity? At first glance, the two seem really similar, even interchangeable; however, I'm sure there are some details, minor as they may or may not be, which separate them. I was simply curious because of the prospect of marrying into a Catholic family, that's all.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Response #9:

In general terms, vows to God are associated with the Law (Deut.23:21-22), and were legally and officially recorded and written down:

Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the [temple] messenger, "My vow was a mistake." Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?
Ecclesiastes 5:6

It is true that some pre-Law Old Testament believers made vows, notably Jacob (Gen.28:20). It is certainly the case that the pre-Law OT era has more in common with the time of the Law in terms of its dispensational aspects (i.e., the manner in which the Lord handles His "economy" of the Word and His people) than it does with the age of the Church.

Still and all, I would advise what the Bible advises then and now, namely, refraining from all such things:

If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.
Deuteronomy 23:21-23 NIV

"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."
Matthew 5:33-37 NIV

Notice in both instances the idea of a verbal and public pronouncement is present. I would certainly not want to down-play the significance of any sort of promise a believer feels he or she has made to the Lord, but I do note the differences between a prayer and a formal vow. I would also remind everyone that our God is a merciful and forgiving God. He knows that we are but flesh. He forgives us our sins whenever we ask Him to do so, and He does so in the Name of Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for all of our sins of every sort, washing them away forever with His blood, His suffering for them on the cross. So if we are guilty on this score, in common with other sins, God forgives when we confess in Jesus' Name.

In short, 1) don't vow, but 2) if you do, keep your vow, and 3) if in the course of life and the weakness of our flesh you break your vow, confess your sin and commit yourself to the mercy of the Lord.

One other important point to note on this is that Jesus deals with us where we are. Something we may have done in spiritual immaturity and/or chronological immaturity will certainly not be held to account with the same stringency as something we do in full cognizance after we should absolutely know better by any measure. Ignorance is no excuse, but it is a mitigating factor in divine discipline:

"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
Luke 12:47-48 NIV

Finally on this point, it is also true that there is great joy in heaven whenever a sinner repents, whenever an apostate or near apostate recovers, whenever a lukewarm believer gets hot, in short, whenever a Christian "gets going". In my observation of these matters the evil one is always quick to remind us of our shortcomings when we finally get cracking for the Lord and begin to move forward. Naturally, as we begin to recover spiritually and grow spiritually and put the Lord first in our thinking, we remember the past and our past failures. If we have done anything wrong in the past, however, certainly we have been forgiven it as we have confessed it, and our Lord most assuredly is not leading us forward so that He can now destroy us for some failure or other far in the past. We are not perfect now, and we certainly weren't perfect in the past. The best policy as always going forward is to forget the past and push forward to the goal of the upward calling in Christ Jesus. He is our Advocate for all of our sins (1Jn.2:10). Whatever we may have done and however we may have failed yesterday, we can still make today count for Him – in the expectation of a great reward on that wonderful tomorrow to come.

Don't let guilt about past mistakes slow you down.

As to Roman Catholicism, well, there was a little thing called the Reformation occasioned by the fact that by the late middle ages the church-visible had come to have little to do with the actual Church of Jesus Christ. All denominations are flawed, and the RC church most certainly is, and historically so. If a person actually held to its teachings, it is difficult to see how such a person could be saved inasmuch as they teach a very legalistic salvation by works. I am a bit of an optimist when it comes to this issue. I have noted in my own experience and in many particular examples over many years that people are usually not whole-hearted subscribers to the teachings of the groups to which they belong (they often are not even well-versed in them). So in my view it is certainly theoretically possible for a person to be RC and saved. Two caveats here: 1) every ex-RC now born again Christian I have ever met has claimed the opposite; and 2) I cannot see how anyone could be a member of that church and achieve any sort of spiritual maturity. Those who are believers and in that fellowship have to be marginal and lukewarm Christians at best (in my view), given that they put human beings (pope and priests) and human teachings (church fathers and canon law) ahead of the Bible on every important point of doctrine. If you believe what they teach, you will hardly ever be believing the truth.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hello Sir,

21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Matt.11:21

23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.
Matt.11:23

Are these  sentences technically called "hyperbole"?

I hope you are doing fine? God bless you Sir.

In Him,

Response #10:

Hello my friend!

I know these are "difficult sayings", but I think we should take them literally. After all, these are hypotheticals. Such miracles did not actually take place in Sodom, after all. So it is only "if they had" that there would have been such results. And it is important to add that if there had been any positive bent of mind in Sodom, the Lord would have provided the truth – for He always provides the truth for any and all who want the truth (cf. Gen.18:22ff.). Thus the comparison to Sodom is an apt one (of course). For these people of the towns in Jesus' day who were ignoring our Lord were in fact no better than those corrupt cities which were destroyed long ago. In fact, they were worse, because they were denying the truth they had seen with their own eyes, and the Messiah who had come to them personally according to prophecy (e.g., Is.9:1-2; cf. Jn.1:11).

So the "problem" is actually the other way around from what is usually understood. It is not that Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented if such had happened for them because they were not in fact interested in the truth; the truth would only have come to them (so as to fulfill this hypothetical) had they wanted it. The point is that the truth did come to these cities in Galilee and they should have been happy to get it – but in fact they wanted none of our Lord's words, which makes them worse than the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah who did not receive a similar blessing: Q.E.D.

I am certainly keeping you and yours in prayer as well, for your health and confidence, for your son's health, for your wife's spiritual growth, for your family's salvation, and for the success of your business.

Keep fighting the good fight and I will endeavor to do so as well.

Your friend forever in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hebrews 12:2: turning our gaze unto Jesus, the originator and completer of our faith, who, for the joy set before Him, endured the shame of the cross, treating it with despite

What is the meaning of 'treating it with despite'?

Response #11:

Being crucified was, beyond all argument a "shameful death" – in the eyes of the world. Our Lord "cast contempt on [that] shame" and endured the cross to win the victory of victories upon which our salvation and everything else depends. This is an important perspective for all Christians to maintain as well, and especially at this late time in the Church Age. For the time is coming soon when all who have chosen for Him will have to be very careful not to allow the opinions of others and the hardships and indignities it may be our lot to suffer for Jesus to throw us off our stride or worse. In the eyes of the world we and what we will have to suffer will be "contemptible", but like our Lord we will have to be able to pour contempt on whatever we have to endure, no matter how "shameful" it may appear to the world (or even to us).

Question #12:

John 12:28: "Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."

Could you please explain God's words: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."?

I know that our Lord was glorified after He was crucified, but what is meant by 'I have (both) glorified it'?

Response #12:

I take this to mean the most emphatic possible "Yes!" in response to our Lord's prayer. The Father's Name is glorious, His reputation and Person based upon all He is and has done. This glory is not only inherent in Him but also in the Plan He has decreed and all the He has (had) done up to the point of this prayer and would (will) do in the future in the entire course of history. This glorification is also true of what He had done for the Son in the incarnation and all that had so far transpired and of course all that would. If we were perfect in our maturity, our walk, and our understanding of the truth, this would also be the substance of our prayers: "Thy Will be done!", which is the glorification of the Name and Person of the Father in the execution of His Plan in every detail by the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question #13:

John 13:31-32 KJV:  (31) Therefore, when [Judas] was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. (32) If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.

Why does our Lord say 'Now is the Son of man glorified', if the crucifixion was yet to take place?

Response #13:

It is a measure of the model of faithfulness that the Son demonstrates that the future He knows is coming can be described by Him as already past. From the standpoint of the decree of God it is an absolute reality ("Now is the Son of man glorified"), even though it has not yet come to pass at the moment these words were spoken ("and shall straightway glorify him").

Question #14:

You translated Luke 2:49: It was on this occasion that He told His parents, "Didn't you know that it was necessary for Me to be about My Father's business?"

"Business" is sometimes rendered "house", as in NASB.

Response #14:

The Greek merely says "in the things of My Father". As such, "house" is a bit of a stretch, especially since the reader might then assume the temple is meant, and I don't think the Greek will bear that specific meaning here. Our Lord's words go far beyond a location: our Lord was speaking of what He was called to do for the world in fulfilling the Father's plan.

Question #15:

You wrote: How, exactly, He gained access to the scripture (and don't forget, He was a prophet in His own right: Deut.18:15 with Jn.2:45; Acts 3:22-23), or when He came to the complete cognizance of His divinity cannot be pinned down precisely, but my own guess is that is was very early, for by the normative time of maturity, He was already so well versed in this fact (and theology in general) that He amazed the wisest teachers of His day (Lk.2:46-47).

I) I wanted to ask about the access to the Scripture in our Lord's day - was it common? Could people read the scripture when they wanted? Was reading a common skill?

II) Also, since our Lord was the Word incarnate, could it not be possible that He had all the Word of God in Him, without the need to learn it?

Response #15:

The question of ancient literacy is much debated, but the evidence in my view suggests that in Israel, as well as in Rome and the Greek cities, it was widespread (not like Europe today, but well over 50%, I would estimate, and higher in Israel). As to the scriptures themselves, most synagogues would likely have at least one complete set of the OT scriptures, and perhaps many more additional roles of various books. What private collections were like in Israel it is impossible to tell, but we do know that the seemingly dirt poor Essene community had a large collection of texts of all sorts, including the scriptures. Also, people were better at memorizing in those days, both because the human race was that much younger, and also because it was a verbal culture. I would speculate that our Lord did not have to read these scriptures over and over countless times before committing them to memory perfectly – although I am sure that He did visit them in His heart countless times thereafter (cf. His recitation of the passages in Deuteronomy when tested by the devil in the wilderness).

As to your second part, our Lord had to learn it like everyone else – even though we may be sure that He paid perfect attention and did it perfectly. This is a facet of His kenosis (see the link).

Question #16:

There are no more priests, but many church leaders are essentially operating as if they were priests (and some are even called that); there is no more temple, but many church edifices are constructed and venerated as if they were (and some are even called that).

I heard people use the argument of our Lord teaching in the temple for building churches/temples? What is your take on this?

Response #16:

Our Lord, of course, did not teach "in the temple" in the sense we mean it when we say "in church" (i.e., physically in the church building). He taught in the court of the temple – only the priests were allowed in the temple proper, so that regardless of our Lord's status as the Son of God the people would not be allowed to enter (and not many would fit inside in any case). Further, the veil of the temple was split at the point of His physical death, a clear indication that the old way of ritual had now given way to the new. I suppose all this goes along with the WWJD way of thinking of things. In my considered opinion, however, we should not be asking "What would Jesus do?" since we are not Jesus, since He and His life were unique, and since there are many things He did we cannot do nor should we think to try, but rather we should ask "What does Jesus want me to do?". To the latter question the Bible give every answer we would ever need. Reconstructing the Jewish religion in a new form not authorized by scripture is a wrong answer however considered.

Question #17:

On the one hand you wrote that 'the devil did all that he possibly could to prevent Jesus from reaching the cross', but on the other it was because of Judas that our Lord was crucified - could you clarify this?

Response #17:

Good point. What I mean is, "reaching the cross in a manner acceptable to the Father and as an acceptable Substitute for our sins". Satan had no problem with Jesus being crucified; he only resisted the fulfillment and completion of the plan of God.

Question #18:

One more question regarding the Herods - could you just briefly introduce all the Herods to me - there was the one that wanted to kill our Lord (what's his full name)? Then you mention the oldest son - Herod Archelaus, of whom you say that he committed some sort of malfeasance and Herod Antipas - the one that questioned our Lord. What specifically were their roles, if the Roman protectorate was dissolved, what was the position held by Herod Antipas?

Response #18:

This is a very "wide and deep" subject that goes well beyond the confines of scripture and a short Q and A. Here is some bibliography which will help on this and related issues:

Herod Antipas: A Contemporary of Jesus Christ by H. Hoehner (Grand Rapids 1972)

The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ by E. Schόrer (Edinburgh rev. ed. 1973); 4 vols.

New Testament History by B. Metzger (New York 1969).

Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament by A.N. Sherwin-White (Oxford 1963)

Additionally, any good Bible dictionary or, even better, Bible encyclopedia, will have long articles on the Herods, individually and collectively. In a nutshell, Herod (the great) ruled all of Judea as a Roman client king until his death (which I would put ca. 2-1 B.C.; see the link). After his death Judea proper came under de facto Roman rule. Herod Archelaus, Herod Philip and Herod Antipas were his sons (not his only ones); Herod Agrippa I was his grandson; Herod Agrippa II was his great-grandson. Each of these played some role in giving the Roman state an air of legitimacy, but none of them enjoyed the same sort of freedom or power that Herod the Great had. To that point, the somewhat murky question of specific territories "ruled" and the times and conditions may be moot: Rome ran the show from the time of Herod the Great's death.

Question #19:

As Mary's sister was standing by, however, and considering that in addition to her extended family (cf. Lk.1:39-45)

Can you clarify how does this passage illustrate this point?

The passage cited gives indication that Mary had an extended family in Bethlehem, close to Jerusalem.

How do we know these passages refer to Bethlehem?

Response #19:

Elizabeth's family was residing in Judea (v.39) along with relatives (v.58-61); the whole area was an essential "neighborhood" (v.65), and as Mary's family was from Bethlehem (hence the need to go there for enrollment), it would be hard to explain if her cousins did not share that town as the seat of their ancestral inheritance.

Question #20:

How do we know from Jude 1:1 that he was our Lord's brother?

Response #20:

That is the tradition and I believe it to be correct. He says he is "brother of James" (v.1), and writing to the Jewish community this must be the famous James who is our Lord's brother. Since we know that Jesus had a brother by this name (Matt.13:55), there is in my view more evidence for believing that this is the same Jude than that it is a different person. I would add to this that in the writing of the New Testament all the authors of all of the books are either apostles or associated with apostles or brothers of the One who sent the apostles. If Jude were not Jesus' brother, that would make this book the "odd man out".

Question #21:

Concerning our Lord's pronouncement on the cross, you wrote: The verb form admits of both possibilities, but the context of shouting, not to mention the fulfillment of Psalm 110:7, demands the latter meaning.

Could you tell me what is the meaning of this verb and why it can be rendered in both ways?

Response #21:

In the text here (Jn.19:30), the Greek verb klino means to "incline" or to "slope" (transitive), so the direction of the sloping/inclining of our Lord's head / upper-body has to be taken from the context. If our Lord inclined His head backward (as I believe He did), that would have made sense in order to give full throat to His final shout.

Question #22:

Could you please clarify Matthew 27:59: And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and laid it in his own new tomb

Was it Joseph's own tomb that our Lord was laid in?

Response #22:

That's what Matthew 27:41 says, and so that explains the "with a rich man" part of the Isaiah 53 prophecy.

Question #23:

Our Lord's brief sojourn wherein He doubtless proclaimed His victory to all of our brothers and sisters awaiting His arrival (and their imminent transfer to the third heaven) is also mentioned by the apostle Peter.

Does this mean that all these believers were immediately transferred to the third heaven?

Response #23:

Since Hebrews 10:20 makes it clear that Jesus Himself opened the way (i.e., "His body" in which all sin was judged being the "way" of salvation), I take it to mean that the transfer took place upon His ascension (analogous to the resurrection of the Church taking place at His return; see the link).

Question #24:

Rather than "preach" in the sense it is used in contemporary Christianity, this verb really means "giving the King's message as His royal ambassador" (cf. 2Cor.5:20), and that is precisely what our Lord did vis-ΰ-vis the incarcerated fallen angels in Tartarus (or "the Abyss").

I'm not sure if you mean it only in the way of comparison, or should our Lord be understood as a 'royal ambassador' ("giving the King's message as His royal ambassador")? I'm asking since Jesus could be taken as the King Himself.

Response #24:

It's a comparison only; Christ is King; the Father is King; Christ is "the One sent" (throughout the gospels), so this is another part of His mission ("royal ambassador" is only used to bring out the idea and meaning of the verb).

Question #25:

Could you please clarify Matthew 27:66: And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

What is meant by 'a seal on the stone'?

Response #25:

In the ancient world (as well as with some things today), it was a common practice to demonstrate the inviolate nature of things by means of a seal. A person with a signet ring who sealed a document made it clear that as long as the seal was intact, the contents of the document had not been altered, for example. In the case of the tomb, the seal indicates that if the seal has been removed, there has been physical tampering with the door-stone which blocked it. But our Lord came out of the tomb without the rock being moved. It was moved later by the angels only to demonstrate that He was no longer there.

Question #26:

John 2:4 And Jesus said to her, " Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come."

Could you please explain both parts of our Lord's answer? Why does He say ' what does that have to do with us'? Why does He say that His hour has not yet come?

Response #26:

The Greek says "what is that to Me and you?" Meaning that just because someone they knew had a problem (and not a life and death one at that) was not a legitimate reason for making use of the divine power Jesus possessed in order to solve it. Moreover, the time of our Lord's earthly ministry, though now at hand, had not yet begun. The purpose of the miracles were to demonstrate the truth of the gospel message He was giving, after all. But because Mary was His mother, and parents command a measure of respect and obedience even in areas where they are not 100% right, our Lord complied (and legitimately so for that reason).

Question #27:

Thanks for being faithful brother Bob. Your explanations on perseverance are equally convicting, encouraging, and thoroughly Scriptural. The truth of perseverance is clear in Scripture, yet often a mystery in personal experience. These explanations have helped me greatly in my walk with God. Everyday is hard, because I tend to be more introspective, but God is faithful. He lifts me up in Christ at the strangest times.

Look forward to being with you for eternity. Love you brother. Glory to Jesus, the Lamb who was slain for our sin!

Response #27:

Very good to make your acquaintance. Thanks so much for your encouraging words and for your sharp insight. Yes indeed this walk with Jesus Christ is hard at times, and that is why our Lord told us to "count the cost" before we embarked on it (Lk.14:28). But the eternal rewards for all we endure in this very short time of life are "not to be compared" to the "momentary light affliction" we are now experiencing (2Cor.4:17). If it seems as if serious Christians of this generation are being subjected to all manner of tests and trials of a somewhat greater intensity than in the recent past, that may be the case for a very good reason, namely, the great trial which is about to "come upon the whole world" (Rev.3:10). So many will not be ready for the troubles to come. What a blessing from the Lord that those who walk with Him now are being prepared by Him so as to be able to endure in faith and faithfulness all that will soon transpire (Lk.21:36; cf. Lk.18:18). He surely does work in wondrous ways.

Keep striving for the victory and crowns of reward which attend it, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #28:

Hi Bob,

First of all, I am not returning to KJV fundamentalism. But nonetheless, I do love the wording of the KJV, and I'd like to know what verses/words are spurious.

If there is a manuscript comparison, it is in reference to the TR. W&H stands for Wescott and Hort. This email discusses only the Gospel According to Matthew.

[1] Is it true that Jesus didn't command their disciples to "bless them that curse you" in 5:44?

[2] W&H omits "the heart" in 12:35. Where do good treasures come from and where do evil treasures come from?

[3] Was Jesus addressing the traditional hypocrites in 16:3, or was he addressing another entity?

[4] Is it true that "and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery"?

Response #28:

These are all legitimate questions.

1) Our Lord did say these words; they are just not recorded by Matthew. Luke has them at Luke 6:28. This is a rather typical example of later versions "filling in" things they "know" from one gospel into another. As Metzger et al. say on this passage, "The divergence in reading among the added clauses likewise speaks against their originality".

2) Clearly, "good things" as well as bad come from the inner person, the heart/soul/nephesh/psyche/mind/nous/spirit (the "us" inside by whatever name). However, Matthew did not feel it necessary to state the obvious – but Luke did (at Lk.6:45). So here is another example of some mss. adding the phrase gratuitously into Matthew (because it is in Luke). Incidentally, only one major uncial and one prominent minuscule have this reading so that it is fair to say that it is lacking even in the Byzantine tradition (it is literally absent from 100's of Byz. mss.).

3) The word "to them" is only present in a few late witnesses. However, Greek frequently omits pronoun objects when they are obvious (to Greek readers) in context. So "to them" is to be understood and a good English translation might well include those words (even if italicized as is the KJV's procedure). It is easy to see how in later Greek when this idiom of object ellipsis became less pronounced it would be desirable to make the indirect object clear.

If you are asking about the second part of the verse, Matthew 16:2b through all of verse 3 is an addition. It does occur in similar substance in Luke at 12:54-56 (the second half is identical, while the first half is significantly different, albeit likewise referring to similar conclusions about reading the weather from the sky). This is the best attested of the interpolations you ask about, although as Metzger et al. remark, "the external evidence for the absence of these words is impressive", including a number of mss. in the Byzantine tradition as well. Jerome included them in the Vulgate, though Metzger and co. say that he reports that it was absent in most of the mss. known to him. As there is no discernible theological reason to omit these words; and as it is a very memorable and interesting passage, its absence in a great many early witnesses can only be convincingly explained by its absence in the original.

4) On Matthew 19:9, that is indeed what our Lord says at Matthew 5:32, but not here. A large number of Byz. mss. do add the additional proscription from earlier in the gospel. These are all late, however, and the great variety of different phrasings they offer of the idea at Matt.19:9 also argue against its authenticity. It is easy to see how later scribes might think this sentiment was accidentally left out since it does appear earlier – it could even be explained by a gloss (i.e., a marginal explanation to the effect "that's not all Jesus says about this subject; He also says " . . . . ") which then later made its way directly into the text when the manuscript was recopied as is often the case.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.
 

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