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Biblical Interpretation VI

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Question #1:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

Is the entire John 3 inspired? In my bible it says some end the quotation after verse 15. I was pretty surprised when I saw that.


Response #1:

Everyone agrees on the text of the last two verses of 3rd John; what is "at issue" is whether or not to call verse 14 one verse or divide it into two parts. Some versions have everything from "but I hope to see you shortly" to the end of the book as verse 14 (e.g., KJV, NKJV, NIV); some versions split this final piece of the letter into two parts and have everything from "Peace to you" to the end as verse 15 (e.g., ESV, NASB, RSV). So there really isn't any significant difference to speak of. The verse and chapter divisions of the New Testament are relatively late. They were invented by Robert Estienne in the mid 16th century for his critical edition of the Greek New Testament. They are not inspired by any means – though of course they are very handy and usually quite thoughtful in how they divide up the thought and argument of the books.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Dear Professor Luginbill,

I am a professor of music and a choirmaster. Every Sunday at the dismissal in our Greek Orthodox church the priest quotes James 1,17 . . . "coming down from the Father of Lights." When I began translating Homer a few years ago I learned that phos can mean light or man, depending on the gender. Since the form for the genitive plural definite article is the same for all genders, it occurred to me that it could mean "coming down from the father of men." That makes more sense to me. Similarly, the Nicene Creed is translated "God from God, Light from Light." Would it make more sense to translate it "God from God, man from men," emphasizing the two natures of Christ?

I ran this past a colleague of mine in the theology department and she thought the question valid, but neither of us has the academic background in classics that you have. Has anyone else asked you about it?


Response #2:

Dear Professor,

Apologies for the delay in response. I was out of town visiting family for Christmas and away from my desk.

As to your question, there is a difference in accentuation between the two words as well, and that difference is also evident in this form, the genitive plural (i.e., our NT form in James is accented on the penult with an acute accent, whereas the alternative word would require a circumflex on the ultima). It is very true that these accents are not included in most of the manuscripts (especially the earlier ones), but also true that they do affect/represent pronunciation and are thurs an important actual part of each word even when not written down (as is the case with the pronunciation of English words). That is to say, those accessing/processing this verse "in Greek" would immediately make the determination as to "which is which".

An even more important point is that the alternative word (phos = "man" rather than "light") is an exclusively poetic one whereas James writes in prose. I had a look at the corpus through accessing the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae ("TLG"; see the link), and had my own sense of this confirmed along with what the lexicons also say, namely, that we do not find this word in prose (it is used "as a word" exclusively in metrical poetry, and only elsewhere in cases where poetry or accentuation is being discussed, as in works of grammar). I couldn't find a single instance of the morpheme being used in contemporary prose to mean "man".

As in English where our ever simplifying language is systematically over time casting out less common meanings and "archaic" words, so also was it the case in the simplifying of everyday Greek (into what is sometimes called "koine", though that term is overused and the concept overwrought). My sense of it is that if anyone, not just James, had wished to use such an exclusively poetic word in an indisputably non-poetic context, some explanation would have been necessary in order to avoid confusion. But Greek is even more strict about not mixing such things than English is, so I think the odds of the word not meaning "lights" here are very long indeed. Absence of evidence is not, of course, evidence of absence, but I would need to see a definite parallel of the sort of thing suggested (i.e., another actual use of phos as "man" outside of poetry or the discussion of poetry) before considering this as even possibile.

Thanks for a very interesting question, and best wishes for a blessed 2014 and a wonderful new semester.

Yours in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #3:

Dear Bob,

I really appreciate your thoughtful response to my query. Like Phemius, autodidaktos eimi, so the word of an expert is a great help.

You and I have traveled many of the same roads, particularly in Kentucky and Illinois. My father is a retired Baptist minister, having served in Lexington for 25 years. He also holds two degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where I spent three years as a child in Seminary Village. And while you were in Champaign I was in Evanston getting a PhD in musicology at Northwestern.

Thanks again for your helpful response, and best wishes for a healthy and productive 2014.

Response #3:

You're most welcome!

Thanks for the interesting details!

Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful new year as well.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Bob,

Now that I'm near the end of reading through Isaiah, here is something I never noticed:

'For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak.' (Isaiah 59:17)

Compare with

'Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God' (Ephesians 6:10-17).

Response #4:

Yes, I'm sure Paul in the Spirit had that passage in mind when he penned these military metaphor verses. Consider also:

But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
1st Thessalonians 5:8 NKJV

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob.

In Joshua 2:15, the harlot's house was on the outside part of the wall. When the people shouted the wall collapsed, but her part of the wall stood?

Thank you my friend,

Response #5:

Good to hear from you my friend. As to your question, we know that Rahab's house did not collapse (because she and her family retreated there to be kept safe from the attack). The Hebrew of Joshua 2:15 merely says that she dwelt "at the wall" and that her house was "at the wall", not that it was a part of it. It may have been. However, the Hebrew, and the situation, would both allow for a small space between the back wall of the house and the city wall. If close enough, the rope could have been thrown out over the city wall from the upper window of the house even so.

Thanks for your prayers, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

G'Day Brother

Hope your keeping well. Is this verse talking about saving faith?

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

My understanding is:

- Faith is what we need to do, it is our response to God's grace.

- Faith is in the imperative and not the indicative mood.

- Faith is commanded of us, it's not something that God does, it's something we do. We believe in Christ.

- They asked Jesus what must we do, to do the works of God, he said believe in the one whom he has sent.

However, this verse says God gives us the faith. Can you please explain it?

God Bless

Response #6:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I agree with your assessment. I believe that most people/versions are misunderstanding the Greek here in Romans 12:3, taking the word hos as comparative when it should be causal. This word has about a dozen different meanings (in the beginning Greek book I use for my classes there is an appendix just for this word!). In any case, I would translate: "since God has given us all a measure of faith" = we are all believers and have all used the faculty of faith God has given us (i.e., the ability to believe) in order to become believers, therefore we should not "think too much" of ourselves but should "be prudent of thought" inasmuch as we are all brothers.

Taking the verse the opposite (traditional) way is not only problematic for the theological reasons you rightly bring up, but it also makes a hash of the context. If the verse really were saying "we all have a different level of faith and it's not our fault, but it's God's apportioning of the amount of faith we have", since this would then seem to be blaming God, then wouldn't that also seem to excuse those who can't really "think prudently" but are inclined to "think arrogantly"? And even if that nonsense could be correct, what would a "relative level of faith" have to do with prudent thinking versus arrogant thinking? Arrogant thinking is a sin that all should/can avoid; prudent thinking is a virtue that all should/can embrace. It just takes commitment to do so.

You have a very careful eye! Keep reading the Word and fighting the good fight of faith, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Brother

If faith is commanded of us, that's always been my understanding, then how can God give it to us? Your translation: "since God has given us all a measure of faith" = we are all believers and have all used the faith God has given us to become believers, therefore we should not "think too much" of ourselves but should "be prudent of thought" inasmuch as we are all brothers.

Does God give us the faith first, then we believe? Or Do we believe first, so he gives us the faith?

Sorry, I'm trying to understand it, I'm just finding it hard.

God Bless

Response #7:

I understand. Yes, faith is obedience to God – faith exercised, that is. And often in the NT when "faith" is mentioned, that is what is meant, i.e., the free-will faculty we all possess as the image of God actual utilized to accept God's truth (first the gospel, then all of the other truths He shares with us in the Word, learning them and applying them in our walk, also "in faith"):

[Jesus Christ], through whom on behalf of His Name I have received [this] grace and [my charge of] apostleship, for the [fulfilling of His] purpose among all the gentiles of their obedience [consisting] of [their] faith (i.e., exercised in accepting the gospel).
Romans 1:5

Faith is a capacity; also, in scripture, it is the proper utilization of that capacity. I like to refer to it as "free-will faith", because the ability to make the decision to trust the Lord is what having the image of God is all about. All human beings have that capacity; but believers are "people of faith" because we have used the free-will God gave us to respond to the truth in Jesus Christ. Since we have that faith – faith given to all but used correctly by us to respond to the gospel – we ought, as Romans 12:3 tells us, not to think overly about ourselves but to maintain a prudent attitude as brothers and sisters of that same faith in Jesus Christ.

God gives us the capacity to believe / trust; we then believe / trust. For unbelievers, "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!" is certainly a command inasmuch as God wants all to be saved – but not everyone believes even so; for believers, "trust the Lord!" is certainly a command, but what believer does not fall short from time to time? And in today's Laodicean era the record of true trust / faith expressed by believers is pretty dismal.

So every human being has the image of God: the ability to express faith / trust. We all believe in something. Unbelievers generally believe that the world is round without ever having seen it from space directly with their own eyes – so they are believing the representations of other human beings. We believers have put our faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation, and that is what makes us "of faith", what makes us of that category of those to whom God has given faith that we have actually used correctly. He gives the capacity to one and all; He grants salvation to all who use that capacity to trust in Him. To expand the translation further (for purposes of clarification) . . .

. . . "since God has given us all a measure of faith[, faith, that is, which we have actually used to believe in Christ]" . . .

He gives the capacity; we use it. The words "faith" and "believe" in the NT thus are often used as shorthand for "faith in Christ" and "believe in God's truth". That is what we have here in Romans 12:3.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus in whom we have placed our faith for life eternal.

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Brother

Is it correct to say, God gives every human being a measure of faith. Only those that use it freely to believe in His Son are believers.

God Bless

Response #8:

Yes, that is it. Faith is the capacity to believe, or, as often put in scripture, the characteristic of those who have used that capacity of free will choice in the correct way. The ability to choose positively, to believe in what God says, is what the image of God is all about. All human beings have been given that capacity, and all of normal mental competence who grow to mental maturity are responsible to God for how they use what He has "measured out" perfectly: free will being the image of God; the universal dispersal of it to all mankind being the likeness of God (see the link: "the image and likeness of God"). Only believers, those who choose to trust the Lord – instead of choosing instead to be "lords unto themselves" – are saved. So Paul uses "measure of faith" in the passage you asked about (Rom.12:3) in the positive sense of "faith used to believe", as opposed to the universal capacity even unbelievers possess.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:2 NIV'84

Some versions just say "the whole world" instead of earth and world.

Which is correct and what is the Hebrew behind this? I'm assuming the earth is the planet and the "world" are the inhabitants? NIV confusion.. This is an amazing Psalm. Also, Psalm 27, specifically verse 13. How the Sadducees ever lived in their denial is beyond me.

I pray all is well with you, Doctor. I start the new job tomorrow; I've already got clients lined up there, so I'm pretty sure the drought is over. They're considering me for management potentially, wouldn't that be something? Thanks for keeping me fed through all this nonsense and all the prayers. Time to keep going.

Your brother in Christ,

Response #9:

The Hebrew actually says, "before You gave birth to the earth and the world" ('aretz and tebhel respectively). Some versions are taking this a hendiadys, that is, a figure of speech, common in poetry (which the Psalms are) wherein one thing is described by two nouns (so they say "whole earth" instead of "earth AND world"). The figure is not common in English prose (so I can't think of any true examples; "big and fat" comes close, although it's not a perfect fit). But I don't think we have a hendiadys here in any case; the earth is the earth; the world is everything else (including the heavens – and, as you very astutely note, the moral creatures who inhabit it).

Good news on the job front! I'll be keeping you in my prayers my friend.

Thanks for your prayers!

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

'Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.' Romans 5:7

Wouldn't it be the other way around? Righteous seems to imply good, but a good person may not always be righteous, so I take it that righteous is stronger than good. Yet this passage implies that a good person is more worth dying for than a righteous person.

Why? Does the Bible outline a difference between `good' and `righteous'?


Response #10:

Paul, under the influence of the Holy Spirit's ministry of inspiration, is using sanctified rhetoric to make a point. Christ died for us all (and how He died and what that spiritual death preceding His physical death entailed is dimly understood even by most Christians). Yet which of us would die for even a single person? We would be unlikely to do so even if that person were righteous, even if that person were good. So I am not sure that there is a necessary difference in the categories here, although logically it does read that way. The two words are synonyms here as Paul employs them. Here is how I have translated the verse in the past:

For scarcely will someone die on behalf of a righteous person; and perhaps someone might also risk death on behalf of a good person.
Romans 5:7

Rendered this way, it becomes a bit more clear that the categories are not mutually exclusive. In any case, that really has to be what Paul is aiming at because the person deciding on the value of the individual he/she is about to die for is a fallible human being who can only judge the relative righteousness or goodness of another very imperfectly. But even if we did deem someone righteous or good or both, it would be no easy thing – in fact it would be a very uncommon thing – for us to give up our lives for that person. In military terms, that is "medal of honor" stuff. Paul does not say it never happens; he merely makes the point that it is very exceptional. How much more exceptional, therefore, is Christ's death on behalf of the entire world? If we had any idea what it took to bear a single sin, and taking into consideration that our Lord had to die even for all the sins of the vast majority of the human race who would reject Him – the very opposite of "righteous" and "good" – this point would hit home all the more forcefully. For in His humanity Jesus Christ is really the only "righteous" and "good" man in the history of the world – and He did die for us all.

In the Name of the One who took away all of our sins through His death that we might have life eternal.

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Bob,

'She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.'
1st Peter 5:13

Note the subject.


Response #11:

Apostolic letters convey greetings from church to church. Here we have a greeting from the church at Rome to Peter's recipients. This is the "she", namely, the church at "Babylon", which is to say, at Rome (cf. the "elect lady" of 2Jn.1:1) – the word ekklesia or "church" in Greek is feminine.

Mark here is the John Mark of the gospels (the descriptions of him make it very unlikely that he was Peter's literal son). This is a fairly common appellation of endearment from elders to juniors (as with Paul of both Timothy and Onesimus – neither of whom could possibly have been Paul's sons for a number of reasons: cf. 2Tim.2:1 and Philemon 1:10 respectively).

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

One thing I wanted to touch basis with you is that I have noticed in some of your teachings you made heaven plural in Gen. 1:1 but it is actually singular. The word "heaven" (singular) in Genesis 1:1 and the word "heavens" (plural) at Genesis 2:1 are both from the same Hebrew word (shamayim). The tense in the Hebrew is the dual. It is easily confused with the plural, inasmuch as Hebrew words take on an "im" ending when made plural. Ha'shamayim looks like a plural word. However, the ayim ending is a special case called the dual. It always describes exactly two (unlike the strict plural), but the two are considered as one. We have a similar expression in English. For example, when we speak of a "pair of pants" or a "pair of glasses," we never think of these items as more than one despite the "s" ending on the nouns (normally a plural indicator). Maybe I might be wrong.

Response #12:

It is plural in Genesis 1:1. In fact, this word never occurs in the singular anywhere in the Bible or anywhere else. As to its number (n.b., tense is something only verbs have), most Hebrew lexicons consider it a plural. However, I also think that it is probably a dual form – but the number is the same in Genesis 1:1, 2:1, and, indeed, everywhere the word occurs in all of Hebrew. Here is something I have written about this (in part 1 of the Satanic Rebellion series; under the link, "The Three Heavens"; see that link for more detail):

The Hebrew word for "heavens" is shamayim (שמים), a noun whose form is, significantly, dual in number (i.e., "two" of something as opposed to a single unit, or multiple units beyond a pair).12

FN12: Although most western scholarship currently argues that the form is plural (the Hebraic tradition considers the form dual: cf. M. Mansoor's grammar), the justifications usually given for this conclusion strain credulity in light of 1) the obvious dual-type formation of the word, and 2) the biblical usage (where "two" heavens of sky and atmosphere repeatedly occur). It is no doubt due to a reluctance to accept that the Bible might indeed give a correct picture of the universe's construction that has rendered the questionable hypothesis (of reading shamayim as plural) a widespread one.

The dual of the Hebrew word shamayim perfectly reflects the reality of the two distinct parts of the heavens (sky and space) in one continuum. We may refer to these as the first heaven (the atmosphere) and the second heaven (the universe beyond earth) respectively.

Hope this answers your question; feel free to write back about any of this.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hi Bob,

This is a bit of a 'deep' question. In real life, I don't really see penal substitution applied in the criminal justice system. If someone is condemned to death, we don't allow another to come in and take the death penalty for the former. We demand that the murderer be killed, and nobody else can take his place. This is also the case with OT law. So if our justice system and the OT do not allow for someone to substitute for somebody else in punishment, why does God allow for the penal substitution of Christ for our punishments?


Response #13:

I guess the first thing I would point out is that the phrase "penal substitution" is not a biblical one. Rather, it is a theological one. One of the biggest problems in the church visible today which I have noted is the practice of taking theological constructs, many steps removed from scripture and in many cases either partially in conflict with scripture and in others having nothing to do with scripture at all, and then deconstructing and reconstruction them to build theological arguments on the basis of such "data". The chances of this turning out well are worse than the chances of doing the polka in a minefield and not being blown to smithereens.

Every animal sacrifice is a picture of the death of Christ; blood represents His spiritual death, that is, His being judged for our sins in our place. God promised to do this for us; God foreshadowed this gracious substitution in the Law; God carried it out at Calvary, when Jesus paid the price for all of our sins.

It is true that we usually don't allow person A to substitute for person B in a legal context. Although we do allow co-signing of loans; we do allow monetary payments to be satisfied by another; during the Civil War the Union army allowed surrogates in the case of being drafted. All of this is beside the point. There is no reason why God could not do what He did – except that it cost the Father and the Son (and not doubt the Spirit too) much more than we have any idea. Also, of course, God is just by nature, so that anything He has done could not be wrong or unjust or inappropriate in any way.

It is true that the cross is an amazing act of grace, the opening up of God's favor to all who are willing to receive it, even though we are worthy only of death, one accomplished by Him apart from any effort on our part through His paying of our redemption price in the blood of His own dear Son our Lord.

In the Name of the One who bought us free from our sins, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #14:

Good evening Dr. Luginbill,

I am doing a quick study on Kings and Prophets because it correlates with studying of CT and I need some more understanding of God's requirement for building an alter. I have a quick question, I understand that any idol worship is abhorrent to Christ but why Baal in particular apart from the other idols. There were only 2 times in Israelites history that Baal worship was paramount and rampant: Num. 25:1-9 as well as during Ahab's reign

Can you direct me to some resources or enlighten me Dr?

Thank you very much and may God bless your ministry in Christ Jesus.

Response #14:

I don't think that Baal-worship is singled out as worse – all idolatry is evil (e.g., 1Sam.15:23). Idolatry of various types was prevalent throughout Israel's history from her formation up until the time of the Babylonian exile (e.g., Gen.31:19; 35:4; Amos 5:25-27), after which, legalism in place of grace becomes the dominant problem. Baal means "lord" in Phoenician and other NW Semitic languages. Baal-worship was one type of idolatry prevalent throughout the entire period (consider also Gideon, aka Jerubbaal, that is "he who strives with Baal). It seems to have been mainly a Northwest Semitic phenomenon (although most of the ancient pantheons and pagan practices are interrelated and very similar one to the other), and the details are known to us almost exclusively from the Bible (apart from some archaeological relics). Here are a couple of links related to the subject:

The name "Baal"

Baal worship as recorded in the Bible

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Bob,

"Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." ' " (Zechariah 8:23)

Is this verse talking generically, or does it have a specific Jewish man in mind (Jesus Christ)?

Also, is 'son of Berekiah' an interpolation in Matthew 23:35?


Response #15:

The passage is generic; there are more than ten languages and nations, so the ten do not represent a total set but a representative number showing a "ten to one" desire to get to the land of Israel which will be the focal point of blessing during the Millennium.

As to Matthew 23:35, Zechariah is a fairly common name in the OT (Interpreter's Bible Dictionary lists 33 separate persons known to us by that name). The vast majority of ancient texts include the phrase "the son of Berechiah", but, interestingly enough, Sinaiticus does not have it; it has been placed in the margin by a later hand (which means that the editors of the ms. at the time of production also did not see a problem with the omission). Luke 11:51, which parallels this passage, also does not mention "Berechiah". The prophet Zechariah was a "son of Berechiah", but he is clearly not the same person as the Zechariah who was murdered as our Lord relates; that murder is documented at 2nd Chronicles 24:20-21, and that Zechariah is said to have been "the son of Jehoiada the priest". Even though many scholars have cooked up many inventive explanations to try and reconcile these facts, the best explanation, given the superior testimony of Sinaiticus, is that "son of Berechiah" is a gloss – and an incorrect one at that – which made its way into the text at a very early stage. The Zechariah meant here at Matthew 23:35 was "the son of Jehoiada the priest", and not "the son of Berechiah" who wrote the book of the Bible which bears his name.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hello Dr Luginbill,

Hope you are doing fine with your family and the Christian Productive Ministry for which you have taken pains to cultivate – now Christians are picking ripe fruits.

I have a few questions below if you can walk me through:

Rev 14:10-11, is it the new earth which has the lake of fire underneath for the angels to view those in torments or the old one which is where?

Response #16:

Good to hear from you my friend! As to your questions:

The New Heavens and the New Earth are just that; the present day third heaven and the present day subterranean world (where the lake of fire is) are not affected by the transformation at the end of history; the third heaven has not been polluted, and the realm below will be one only of cursing at the end of time. Here is a link to where this is explained: in CT 6 "The New Heavens and the New Earth"; and here is a chart which lays out the "biblical geography" of these things: "The Waters Above and Below".

Question #17:

Do the old Testament statements like ..."to this day..."apply only to the time of writing and/or a few years later, or they are still effective today? E. g Joshua 4:9; 5:9; 6:25; 8:29 etc .

Response #17:

The statements apply to the time of writing. Application of the content is never outdated, because, as Paul points out, "whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Rom.15:4 NKJV).

Question #18:

Genesis 7-8, Was the flood global ,or local? Concerns arise on 'if global', how did creatures which are non-water life cross the oceans to other continents?

Response #18:

The flood was global (see the link). This event produces more questions (and, sadly, more doubts) among Christians than almost any other. But we have to accept that it happened just as the Lord says it did even if there are certain things we do not understand as a result. I am not a man of great imagination, but even I can think of perhaps a dozen ways that, "kangaroos got to Australia", for example. The Bible doesn't address it; but I have faith that regardless of apparent (and only apparent) evidence to the contrary, things went just as scripture says.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:


I hope this email finds you in great spirit. I first want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving and hope it was very fruitful. Before I embark on my questions, I just completed the SR series and it was enlightened and refreshing. Thank you for your time and effort in putting together this work to help us better understand the plan of God for humanity. I feel I have a closer relationship with the Christ because of your work. May God enrich and strengthen your ministry for all who need it during this era.

I have some questions I need some clarification on if you don't mind. As always, your response is appreciated.

In SR series, there is an acronym, Q.E.D, what does this stand for?

Response #19:

Thanks for your good words and holiday wishes. Hope your Thanksgiving was blessed too!

As to your questions:

Q.E.D. is a Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum which often stands at the end of mathematical proofs; it means, "the very thing which needed to be proved". It's another way to say, "there you have it".

Question #20:

Is there a significance of why Rachel was not buried with other family members in Hebron? Could it be that, this is my assumption not biblically based, that Rachel was not the preferred wife by God to Jacob but Leah was? Leah was buried with his grandparents and parents (Gen 49:29-31). Leah conceived the two most prominent tribes of Israel, Judah ,kingly tribe of our Messiah and Levi, priestly tribe of our Messiah. The remaining sons, Issachar, Reuben, Zebulun and Simeon have prominent positions based on their encampment on the East and North of the ark. I just want your insights on if that could be a possibility.

Response #20:

I think that Rachel's burial was a function of where she died and the inadvisability of trying to transport her body without embalming all the way to Hebron (cf. Gen.35:8), several days journey at least in those days for a single individual, and remember that Jacob had his whole household and flocks with him.

"Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)."
Genesis 48:7 NASB

Question #21:

Jacob was forbidden not to marry from the daughters of Canaan because of their idolatrous ways. But was it not more than their pagan practices the reason for the prohibition. Is it because the lineage was cursed rather than them being Canaanites? Abraham family were pagans as well so I think it has to deal with the curse in Gen 9:20-27. Your thoughts is appreciated?

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

In Christ Jesus

Response #21:

Idolatry and paganism are one and the same thing – although idolatry can be metaphorical as well as literal. I don't think that the physical line of the Canaanites is the problem as much as the spiritual degeneracy to which they were inclined. God is merciful to all to turn to Him, regardless of background (cf. Rahab and Ruth); but even those of Abraham's physical seed who reject Him are shown no further mercy as long as their hearts remain hardened (Rom.9:6; 11:25).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hello Bob ,

Hope all is well with you.

Isaiah 7:10-25, 8:8-10, Matthew 1:23, Is Jesus Immanuel or there was born other Immanuel in Ahaza's time for him to witness the fulfillment of the prophecy in his days? then Matthew ?

Response #22:

Hope all is well with you too! As to your questions:

The child at time of writing is a type of Christ; that is, he represents Christ prophetically, so that the Immanuel is Christ, whereas the child with that name in Isaiah is prophetic of the Messiah to come (see the links: "Typology" and "Typology in Prophecy" in CT 1).

Question #23:

1 John 5:6, what does "he came by water and blood mean and what witness do the three in vs 8 bear?

Yours in the Lord Jesus

Response #23:

In a nutshell, John is speaking about the fact that Jesus was an actual human being as proved by the water and blood which came from His body when pierced by the soldier's lance after His physical death – and the Spirit testifies to the truth of this principle (since it occurs both here and also in the gospel of John, both writings being inspired by the Holy Spirit: Jn.19:34). John makes this point in combating certain false teachings of the day – incipient Gnosticism – which claimed that Jesus was a spirit or an "aeon" but not an actual human being. This sounds odd to us today in a climate where unbelievers are happy to acknowledge Christ's humanity but not His divinity (exactly the opposite of the Gnostic heresy), but it was a big problem in the first century and thereafter. The details on this last question are a bit complex, and the issue is further complicated by the fact that most versions reproduce an inferior text type in this context which results in omitting the phrase "and the Spirit" in verse six. So I ask you to have a look at the following link on this and get back to me if there is anything still problematic: 1st John 3:6.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Good evening Dr. I hope all is well with you in Christ Jesus. I always keep you and your ministry in thought and prayer. I have a couple of questions that came up during my daily readings that I know you can help me grow in His Word. FYI, I like the redesign of your home page.

Does Hebrews 9:4 contradict 1 Kings 8:9? What, exactly, was in the Ark of the Covenant? I know there is no contradiction in the Bible and if 1 Kings 8:9 is a later rendition of what was in the Ark, when was Aaron's rod and the jar of manna taken out?

Response #24:

Very good to hear from you, my friend. I'm keeping you in prayers too – thanks so much for yours. Also, on the website, this was a necessity. Google has begun now to de-list websites which are not "mobile friendly" by their definition of things. So all the work I did trying to create frames with button links on the sides of my pages only got me on their "bad list". It took a good deal of effort to correct "the problem", but if it does make it easier for cell phone users to access the material, well, I guess I have no complaints in the long run.

As to your questions:

1st Kings 8:9 took place under king Solomon. We know that the ark was captured by the Philistines when Samuel was only a young man, so perhaps as much as 100 years earlier than this verse. These godless people had the ark for some time, and it seems more than likely that they may have removed the other items. That would be my best surmise. Paul, at Hebrews 9:4, is not obliged to give the whole history of the ark and its content (especially inasmuch as he says in the very next verse, "but we cannot discuss these things in detail now"). What he says was true – up until the point where the contents were disturbed. So no contradiction here at all.

Question #25:

Can you please expound on 1 Cor 7:36-38? This entire chapter is somewhat confusing but these verses particular. Is the meaning that it is better for a father not to give his daughter in marriage. I am really at a lost about the background and the need for this passage as well.

Response #25:

First, this passage is not talking about fathers and daughters but men and women promised to each other (many versions mis-translate that part of the passage). In the ancient world (including the Hebrew, Greek, and Roman areas), it was not uncommon for marriages to be arranged by parents. And not only that: many times the marriages were arranged when the principles were only infants. If one's non-believing parents had previously arranged a marriage for a young man who became a believer, what should this young man do when the girl he had been promised to came of age to marry? Should he marry her? Should he not? What, this new Christian wants to know, would be the best thing to do? Paul assures these young men that they are in fact under no obligation to carry through on the marriage contract – not in God's eyes. However, he allows them the leeway to do so since there might be any manner of negative consequences for reneging, to oneself, to one's family – and the young woman needs to be considered too. And in all this, in spite of societal pressures, Paul assures us that even so it is better to remain single (if that will not cause sexual misconduct as a result). Please see the links:

Arranged Marriages in 1st Corinthians chapter seven

Advantages and Disadvantages of Arranged Marriages

Question #26:

Luke 17:21 when it states "the Kingdom of God is already among you", is it referencing the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration of believers or something else? I know the background is about Jesus' second coming but when it says Kingdom of God already among you, I believe Jesus meant that you don't have to wait for His personal return because His spirit is working in you now until His return.

Response #26:

There is no "already" present in the Greek of Luke 17:21. The eternal Kingdom is yet "to come" – and we make this prayer daily as believers, that is, for its "coming". Jesus will establish the kingdom and His millennial kingdom will be subsumed into the eternal kingdom of the Father when the 1,000 years have run their course. However, He is – and was when He said these words – "the King", so that, truly, the "kingdom" was right there "among" or in the midst of those to whom He spoke as the King. And we are all "sons of the kingdom" through faith in Jesus Christ, not "of this world" although we are in it. So the King did come, and His very presence offered the kingdom to those who rejected it. And He has left us here in the world as His representatives and royal ambassadors to bring into the fold of those who belong to the kingdom all who are willing to receive Him as their King (2Cor.5:20). Here are some links where these matters are discussed in more detail:

The Kingdom is Among you (Q/A #2 ff.)

Sons of the Kingdom

Seek first the Kingdom

What is "the Kingdom"?

Question #27:

In Luke 18:29, Why did Jesus only reference the commandments dealing with man's relation to other men rather than the commandments where man's relationship with God is dealt (i.e., you shall have no other God's before me, etc.)? I believe Christ knew this young rich ruler's heart and he wanted to redirect his attention and the audience attention to the fact the issue is not man's relationship with man's but ultimately man's relationship with God. Putting other things first violates the 1st commandment "thou shall not have any other Gods before me". By trapping (in a good sense) the rich young ruler, he redirected to his true issue, the idol in his life. Am I correct? I would love to hear your exposition on these passages.

Thank you Dr. for taking time to respond to my questions. I try to wait until I have more than 1 to send to you. In Christ our Lord.

Response #27:

As to the form of the Lord's response to Peter, at the time He was speaking to the twelve who are of course all males (the principle certainly applies to both sexes, to all who follow our Lord in the right way). As to the rich young ruler earlier in the chapter, I think you are correct that our Lord was showing him his true priorities, and that these were are a problem – which occasions our Lord's remark about how that possessions in excess are frequently a hindrance preventing people from coming to Him – because of wrongly seeing their security in such things. But of course there is no security in this world, apart from the Lord; and with the Lord, we don't have any need of the things of the world for our security, for He is our Rock. That takes faith to understand and apply, but faith was the issue with the young man; he admired Jesus, but he wasn't willing to trust Him fully so as to be saved because of his reliance on his personal wealth. If giving up one's wealth to follow the Lord was a necessary step (in that person's case), then of course that is far better than perishing eternally though "rich" for a few short years. This is the meaning behind "cutting off" one's hand, etc. – and we should no more do that literally than give up what resources God has blessed us with to do His will in this world. Your analogy to "idols" is right on the point. Whenever a person has something in his life that makes a relationship with the Lord impossible, aren't they better off without it? Provided, of course, they do respond to the Lord when/if they lose it.

Hoping to hear good news of your deliverance soon!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I recently came across your website and have really found it to be a very powerful resource. You truly have done your homework and have made the Bible far easier to comprehend as some verses can be tedious. The reason for my correspondence is that I have a number of questions I was hoping you could look over and possibly answer for me? I have been struggling with some concepts for a while and have not yet gotten closure over them. I hope I do not overwhelm you and will try my best to keep them as short as possible.

~One of the biggest issues I am having is regarding false teachers. I have to admit, I was fairly trusting with most ministers, pastors, priests, etc in regards to this subject. Same with a lot of televangelists as well. It probably sounds na ve, but it’s the truth. I recently came across this website literally condemning all the big guys, and I mean EVERYONE. Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, the Pope, TD Jakes, and to distrust all current ‘clergy’ I guess you could call them in any ‘Christian’ church as they are all apparently ‘apostate’. I now pretty much distrust everybody, including my pastor whom I’ve known for years like I’m some paranoid psychopath. It is really bugging me and I need help understanding what a ‘false teacher’ looks like as not everyone can be false? Let’s face it, no one is perfect, not even teachers/clergymen. Although I value what most teach, I’m also aware that there are doctrines that are false in many circles. However, I tend to write them off if they aren’t too major (I hate to admit) like prosperity or anything like that as long as they have the proper understanding of how one is saved and the nature of Jesus/God. Everything else to me seems secondary. Now, Scripture says you will know them by their fruit, I’m just having a hard time knowing exactly what that is. I can’t say I’ve seen much bad fruit in any of them. There's some things I disagree with teaching-wise and yes, some do get plagued by scandals (though I’m more forgiving if they admit their wrongs), but I don’t necessarily think that automatically makes them false. Like I said, as long as they teach the right things about Christ, the rest seems secondary to me…could you help clarify maybe? I just have a hard time cause as Christians and humans with a sin nature, sometimes we produce bountiful good fruit, but also bad fruit as Christ followers aren’t immune to sin.

~Now, I believe Jesus is Lord, that He died for our sins, rose again, and trust Him for my salvation. This just seems like a no-brainer for me. I find this isn’t always the case for other people, should I say ‘Christians’ I’ve talked to. I have talked to some who say that those who have never heard the gospel will be saved as they have never heard of Christ’s saving work. That because children and those who mentally cannot believe will be saved as they are not accountable, that those around the world (say a tribe in the jungle somewhere) who have yet not heard will be too. This sounds like a nice thought to me, but I’m also not convinced. Yet I’m also conflicted. Jesus did say that no once comes to the Father except through me, yet there are exceptions in terms of children or mentally deficient who die. Would this also extend to those who have not heard and not rejected Him in their lifetime? I’m not talking about someone who has heard and rejected, but those who have no idea. Please don’t look at this like an excuse, I really am trying to understand this. Also, because these people I know believe this yet also believe Christ died for them and trust Him for their salvation, are they unsaved or just in error? The liberal ‘church’ even believe other religions lead to God if they are sincere cause they also have not heard of Christ…supposedly. What of this situation?

~1 Corinthians 13 talks about how love keeps no record of wrong. I was wondering if you could elaborate on this? I for the life of me can forgive someone even if they aren’t sorry, yet I can never seem to forget what they have done to me. Is this what the verse is talking about? If so, I must be failing miserably. It’s like, I can forgive, but you still have to be wary of their actions. It’s like if someone was molested as a child for example, they could forgive the offender but I don’t think could forget. I also couldn’t blame them for wanting a predator like that to be on a list, watched, or remain in therapy forever as I personally wouldn't be able to trust someone like that, let alone someone who’s a victim like that. What do you think?

~This one has to do with animals and vegetarianism which I know you have written about. I am feeling a bit conflicted though in this regard. I tend to think along the lines of logic and am having a hard time with this one. I think faith has to also have a certain amount of logic to it as well or else it wouldn’t be so impactful…of course faith is faith and logic can’t prove everything. Maybe it’s just my mind, I don’t know. Anyways, I read this scenario from some book called ‘Animal Liberation’ by a person called Peter Singer who is a philosopher, vegan, animal rights activist, and atheist. Now, I wouldn’t normally be drawn too much to a non believers opinion, especially someone who believes animals have equal rights to toddlers or those mentally incapacitated, but his line of reasoning really conflicts with me. It goes something like this, 1. If a being has interest, then that being’s interests are morally relevant. 2. Animals have interests. 3. Therefore, the interests of animals are morally relevant. 4. There is no morally significant difference between the interests of humans and animals. 5. If there are no differences in are interests and they are morally relevant, then it is morally wrong to unnecessarily cause animals to suffer pain. 6. So it is morally wrong to unnecessarily cause animals to suffer pain. 7. Eating meat unnecessarily causes animals to suffer pain. 8. Therefore, it is morally wrong to eat meat. I personally am having a hard time with this as I have always believed we have dominion over animals. However, is me eating meat when there are other vegetarian sources available that don’t cause pain to animals truly morally wrong? I can’t refute this argument, it is very hard and is making me feel like one of those weak believers in Romans 14:2…yet I feel like there is an issue with this argument which is why I feel conflicted. Could you help me with this Biblically and philosophically? Not to make this overtly philosophical, but maybe it would help to hear it from another person. I of course detest abusing animals for no reason and the current factory farming situation certainly does that. Aside from going veg, this is where the majority of animal products come from. I feel like I'm warranted in calling for better treatment for these animals, yet hypocritical because I partake in eating this products. That I am indirectly contributing to this suffering. Suffering however cannot be eliminated, life is full of suffering. I feel bad really any justification I give because I know I don't HAVE to eat meat...but I could not see myself becoming a vegetarian or vegan without going insane. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

I think that’s all for my questions right now, and I’m sorry for the length. I’m sure you get lot’s of questions so I apologize if this takes up time answering other ones. I just feel like these are kind of putting a mini crisis on my faith and just want to move past this with proper spiritual nourishment. I do so ever appreciate your thoughts. I can’t stress enough to you how great your website is, I don’t think I could ever look through all the content.

Thanks for your time,

Response #28:

Very good to make your acquaintance, and thanks much for your positive comments. As to your questions (and please do write back if there are any aspects of them you feel I fail to address here) . . .

1) When it comes to false teachers, you are right to focus on the "fruit test" (see the link for details). Fruit in terms of teaching is the quality and quantity of the teaching. However, most "ministries" out there today aren't really teaching anything much at all when it comes to substance. Preaching sermons which do not reveal, expound and explore principles of truth contained in scripture in a substantive, clear and orthodox way is not teaching. There are in fact really very few teaching ministries out there nowadays, and most of them, like Ichthys, are under the radar. We live in the era of Laodicea (see the link), where lukewarmness about the truth is the rule. So in practical terms this is not really something that should cause a believer who wants to get the truth – necessary to grow spiritually and earn eternal awards – too much inner conflict. It is easy to see almost at a glance that few or none of these famous places are feeding their congregations enough to grow in a serious way. So even if what they are saying is not terribly wrong in most cases, it still would not be profitable to associate with any given one. And believers do need to choose. Only what we actually believe can be of benefit to us spiritually – and it also has to be true (see the link: Epignosis, Christian Epistemology, and Spiritual Growth). For someone like yourself who seems well versed on basic issues of doctrine, sniffing out a genuinely false teaching ministry, that is, a cult which "teaches" in detail (but the problem is that the teaching is infected with dangerous heresies), should be no problem. Here are some links on that:

We Believe God, not False Testimony

False Teaching, Local Churches, and the Truth

Read Your Bible (essential protection against false teaching)

2) The issue of "what about those who never heard" is a common question all Christians have at one time or another. I have written about this in great detail and will give you some links below. Suffice it to say here that if a person does not actually have a choice in expressing an attitude towards God's revelation of Himself which is written in broad strokes across the universe (i.e., "natural revelation": cf. Ps.19:1ff.), then no accountability means automatic salvation (in the case of those who are not mentally able to make moral choice or who die before reaching the point of being able to do so). For all others, however, there is accountability. God knew and knows where He was and is putting every single human being in history. If one understands just how "big" God is, and just how completely comprehensive of every detail no matter how small the plan of God is, then one will conclude that no one was ever put somewhere arbitrarily or accidentally. For those who would not under any circumstances be interested in accepting Christ, being placed in, say, 3rd century China is not unfair at all. In fact, I am sure that when the Lord "unwinds" all this for us in eternity, we will see how this was for that person the perfect choice designed to bring out the true thought of his/her heart and demonstrate that lack of interest – and also to maximize the chances that the person might "seek after God" (Acts 17:26-27). Here are some links:

What about those who have never heard of Christ?

Natural Revelation and Accountability

Why Doesn't God Prevent All Children from Dying?

3) We are called to forgive; if we can forget, that is great – and we should "forget" any and all negative mental attitude sins associated with being wronged. But we are to be "wise as serpents" even as we are "harmless as doves". We are not required to pretend that person X is a good person who does good thing if such is not the case. We are in fact told not to associate even with other believers if they do not behave in a godly and sanctified way. We can certainly "love from a distance", and in many cases that is what we should do. Christian agape love involves truth, objectivity, and treating others according to the golden rule. It does not require gushing over people who may be bad people or intervening in their lives if that will not be good for them or for us. Here are a few links:

Forgiving others

The Golden Rule

4) Spirits are created by God, and since animals are not accountable for moral decisions, they are not going to be kept from eternity (in my estimation), regardless of what they experienced here in life (see the link). Animals are given to man for food specifically in God's words to Noah after the flood (Gen.9:3). Certainly, we should not mistreat them. Using them for food is not, biblically speaking, mistreatment. There is no problem with being a vegan or vegetarian, if that is your preference, unless you falsely place some spiritual value on it (see the link). Then it can be a huge stumbling block leading you to look down on others and/or to assume that you are closer to God as a result. This sort of behavior will be used by antichrist as part of his psuedo-Christian religion (see the link).

Hope this was helpful for you. As I say, do feel free to write back about any of the above.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #29:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for your fast reply and I apologize for taking a couple days to get back to you. I looked over your links (which were excellent by the way), but still have a few things I hope you can expound on.

~I agree with what you have said about false teaching. There definitely isn't much substance in sermons these days, that's for sure. I was just shocked that there were websites dedicated to exposing literally every teacher out there and wasn't sure how to respond to that. I thought, surely not everybody is false. My main issue is what they think about Jesus, to me that is the main determinant. The fruit test is just hard sometimes cause I don't know exactly where to place people when I observe them. What about when teachers have a huge lapse in character yet repent about it? Situations like that throw me off because I don't know where exactly to place them. What are your thoughts? I think that's the main clarification I need on this point.

~Thank you for your thoughts on that. I think the 'what about the heathen' issue can be hard to wrap your head around so I appreciate you giving me that to digest.

~I appreciate the clarification on this as it is a hard thing to do.

~I think you're right on with the animal issue. I never had a problem with eating meat until I read that scenario. It was almost like, yeah, I guess I could go without meat as it isn't necessarily a thing we have to have anymore. On the other hand, I don't think I could go vegetarian or even vegan. Meat tastes good and I don't think it is unnecessary so long as the animal gets used. I guess it was just a minor lapse in confidence with this issue on my part.

I genuinely thank you for helping me with these questions Dr. Luginbill. I was astonished to come across your website as the internet is so full of junky 'biblical' sites with no real value to me. I really get quite bored hearing the same messages over and over again and just wanted something substantial. I can't wait to see what other gems I can discover on ichthys. Thanks again for writing back and let me know what your thoughts are on what I posted above.


Response #29:

You are most welcome. There is a quite a bit of material at Ichthys, so do let me know if you have any trouble navigating.

As to your further question, it's an interesting one. I would put it this way. First, every Christian is responsible to find the right teaching ministry for them. That can take time, persistence, and be a bit of a struggle, especially in our Laodicean era where there are so few good ones out there, especially "locally" (wherever one is local). Most of the persons mentioned in the previous email are connected to ministries I personally could not endorse, and that applies equally to unnamed ones which are famous and generally known. The reason in almost all cases is not so much because they are teaching something absolutely outrageous and dangerously wrong, or that they are seriously incorrect on the basic principles of the gospel, but because they serve up pablum instead of solid spiritual food. A believer is never going to grow us spiritually on such pathetic fare, and for that reason alone in my view it doesn't matter that much if famous pastor X is (to all public appearances) "pure as the driven snow", or has had some kind of serious public lapse for which he has had to repent weepily so as to keep his job. Either way, nothing much of substance is coming from the pulpit. This is generally the case in most local churches as well. What believers "get" from famous ministries is, well, being connected to a famous ministry; what they get from a local church is, generally speaking, social interaction. One can understand the attraction for both of these (and many believers nowadays have a foot in both camps at the same time). What both sorts of ministries have in common, whether pastor X has been caught in some indiscretion or not, is a lack of orthodox, substantive, solid and positive Bible teaching of a quality and quantity sufficient for those who attend/participate to actually grow up spiritually, become solid enough in faith to progress in testing, and eventually enter into the personal ministry Christ has for them – and this is not just "nice to do stuff" but the whole purpose for why we are here after salvation (and the basis for our eternal rewards; please see the link).

Second, if pastor Y, unlike the individuals considered in the previous paragraph, really is presenting a ministry which is a "pearl of great price", a unique place where truth is being presented in detail and making growth and spiritual progress possible, then it seems to me that a certain amount of leeway ought to be granted in case he ever exposes his "feet of clay". Everyone is imperfect, after all, and everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Clearly, repeated and chronic misbehavior of any serious nature should be a signal that all is not right, but parting company with something very good over something that may be incidental is likely to be an overreaction. Divorcing one's spouse for burning dinner, for example, is ridiculous. Some level of measured tolerance in the case of a tested and true ministry is an important perspective to hold onto, moreover, because more often than not the "test" will be some teaching that person A does not agree with or which rubs him/her the wrong way – and the teaching may not even be wrong (but may rather just be one of those things person A has trouble with accepting – we all have these things as well).

Prayer and careful consideration in the Spirit is as always an important part of any critical decision-making for the believer, and should be engaged in whenever committing to or parting company with the ministry a believer feels is "the right one" to grow with and so to "go with". Only truth can bring growth (so the ministry has to be genuinely "good" to be valuable), and only truth believed is of any benefit to the believer for growth and progress, so in addition to making sure the source is good, committing to that tested source is also essential for maximum growth. Accumulating "many teachers" will compromise growth (even if they are all "good" in their own right), because no believer can grow through entertaining conflicting views.

There is much to say about all these things, but I will leave you with this and the previous links. Do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thanks again for your reply. Everything you said makes perfect sense. My thing was that I recognized most of these teachers are flawed, but I still didn't consider them false. I'm just more cautious now in general. I know I've bombarded you with a bunch of questions already, but I do have one more. I'm just curious about your thought on the whole 'Illuminati' conspiracy theory? I think it's mainly garbage, that famous people and other leaders are somehow being controlled by the new world order etc. However, I've noticed lots of Christians believe in it. Like making certain shapes with your hands, covering your eye, different prints like checkerboard, Alice in wonderland, etc are all apart of the Illuminati and evil. Basically anything mainstream. I mean, some of it sounds convincing, but I just don't buy it biblically. I also don't buy that its some secret society that everyone knows about, doesn't make a lot of sense. The Antichrist will be known, I don't think it is some secret society sort of deal that is controlling everybody. Anyways, I'm just curious what you think about that as I personally get tired of hearing different people go on about it.

Thanks again,

Response #30:

I think its safe to say that this sort of thing is overblown. The important perspective for Christians to have is that during the impending Tribulation antichrist will co-opt not only all manner of influential groups (whatever their true consistency, power, or composition today), but also most Christian denominations as well. That will be the true conspiracy to worry about, the prophesied satanic one into whose clutches all manner of lukewarm Christians will fall on account of their spiritual immaturity. This is all written up in the Coming Tribulation series; see especially part 3B: Antichrist and his Kingdom (at the link). Over-focusing on something hidden and mysterious will only make unprepared Christians more likely to miss the obvious danger which will be right in front of them.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31:

Hi Dr. Bob.

I hope your trip was successful and all is well with you and your family. I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers. It is nice to see you posting again.

I have a couple of questions for you.

Can you explain more on Luke 21:19 when Jesus says "By your endurance you will gain your lives?" ESV version. Is Christ talking about continued walk in faith? Meaning as long as you continue to have faith in Christ's atoning work to the end, not being an apostate, you will gain eternal live.

Response #31:

Good to hear from you, my friend, and thanks so much for your prayers! As to your questions:

Luke 21:19 is speaking about maintaining faith during persecution, and specifically persecution during the Tribulation. Not standing firm "in faith" – that is what "perseverance" (Greek hypomone) means – means losing faith, and that might lead to loss of life, physically and literally, or loss of eternal life in the case of apostasy. During the Tribulation the Great Apostasy will claim one third of the genuine Church for just this reason, namely, giving into to the extreme pressure to the detriment of faith.

Question #32:

In 1 Chron.4-7, why is Dan not listed in the genealogy of the tribe of Israel?

Response #32:

For one thing, there was apparently not too much to tell, even less than Naphtali (which tribe only receives on verse: 1Chron.7:13).. Dan had only one son (Gen.46:23), and the Danites had only on clan (Num.26:42). It is a tradition in scripture to mention only twelve tribes in such lists (cf. Dan's omission also in Revelation chapter seven), and omitting Dan is a natural sort of thing, being the least of the tribes of Israel (the last gate in the New Jerusalem). The primary reason for omission, however, is, as I would argue, the fact that in his human genealogy antichrist comes from the tribe of Dan, as was prophesied even earlier by Joseph (Gen.49:16-17) and by Moses (Duet.33:22). See the link: in BB 3B: "The Tribe of Dan". There will nevertheless be believers in eternity from that tribe, and it will be a tribe of no small number when the Church is reorganized into the twelve tribes.

Question #33:

In 1 Chron. 15:27 and 2nd Samuel 6:14 Daniel wore an ephod. In my overview of the bible, I do not remember other kings where ephod vest I understand the symbolism of Christ as high priest and king in Daniel, is that the main reason others did not wear one but God allowed Daniel to? I thought ephod vests were only supposed to be worn by priests?

Thank you for your help in answering these questions and I look forward to hearing from you. I appreciate your continue willingness to respond and help me grow.

In Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Response #33:

On 1st Chronicles 15:27, NKJV has "David was clothed with a robe of fine linen". 2nd Samuel 6:14 does say "a linen ephod", but an "ephod" is a robe, and it is quite clear that the "Ephod" with a capital "E" made for the high priest is different and unique, interwoven with gold, among other things. By calling it "a linen ephod", the writer of 2nd Samuel makes it clear that this is not a priestly garment, and that is why there is no contradiction with what the writer of 1st Chronicles says, "a robe of fine linen".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #34:

Good afternoon Bob,

First I want to ask how are your family doing? I hope all is well with you and your blessed ministry. It is a shining light in this world and much needed for someone like me wanting to know more about this God-man, Jesus Christ.

I hope you bear with me because I have many questions. As you know, I just compile them during my studies until I feel I have sufficient enough information.

Also, before you respond to individual emails, do you pray? I ask because in one response you really address the main issue the person had, which was his prayers were not answered and therefore being mad at God. It takes either a lot of psychological skills to pick this up or the Holy Spirit helps you answer the root of some the questions for individuals who are really hurting and seeking the Lord.

I take the latter as your source and was curious do you ever pray to ask Christ to help you answer the emails appropriately?

Heb 2:3 argues against Paul being its author because Paul received divine revelation directly from Christ and not merely heard from others who heard from Him. (cf Acts 9:5, Gal 1:12, 2 Cor 3:6, 1 Cor 14:36-38, 2 Cor 12:1-4etc.). What is your opinion on this? This is a commentary on this passage from my bible.

Response #34:

Hello Friend,

Yes, sometimes I am confronted by "difficult" questions of one type or another where the issue is not so much what but "how" to answer, and I am never shy about asking the Lord for help . . . about anything. Thank you for your prayers. We are in need of them, but God is good and I know that His deliverance is certain and sure.

On the point on Hebrews in your commentary, this is a bad argument because it's not an either or proposition. Isaiah, for example, received direct communication from the Lord . . . but he had also read the Law of Moses. Besides, Paul's "us" in Hebrews 2:3 is directed more towards his readers than himself. Nothing in this verse (or in the book) rules out (or even, rightly understood, suggests) that Paul is not the author . . . which he is. Here is an excerpt from an as yet unposted response to the same essential question:

As to Hebrews 2:3, that verse is often utilized by those who doubt Paul's authorship of Hebrews as evidence in their favor, but to my view it cuts precisely in the opposite direction (and that is true even based upon the universally incorrect English translations of the verse). So in your statement about it, "It seems from this verse that the author was not around for the earthly ministry and did not receive any revelation from the resurrected Jesus", I would agree that the verse makes the first point, but would not agree that the emphasized part here can be gleaned from Hebrews 2:3. As many of the older commentators have noted, on the one hand the fact that others received revelation "through the Lord" earlier does not logically demand that the writer of Hebrews has not also done so later (we consider this an inspired book regardless of authorship, after all), while on the other hand the fact that a person of the caliber of the author of Hebrews was "not around" for Jesus' earthly ministry almost guarantees that he has to be Paul. Who else do we know of with the intellectual and spiritual credentials to have written this epistle?

But this is not the whole story (even if it does answer your question). From the Greek text, the conclusion that "this can't be Paul" is even less justified. What the key part of the verse actually says, translated very literally, is . . .

"which [salvation], having received its initial expression through the Lord by those who heard [Him]" [= the early days of the Church, ca. mid 30's A.D.] . . . "has now been confirmed to us [in our day]" [= the present day of the Church, ca. mid 50's A.D.].

In other words, several points in the Greek are generally misunderstood. First, the phrase, "by those who heard", is rightly to be taken with what precedes. Moreover, logically "those who heard" is being opposed to "us [today]", demonstrating that the former phrase should go with what precedes and not with the concluding phrase – and the Greek word order very much argues for this as well, even if the translations have all ridden roughshod over this important consideration in the past. Second, Paul uses not the usual word for "speak" but rather the verb laleo (to say repeatedly) in order to express not the original announcement of the kingdom by our Lord, but the initial expansion of the gospel message in the earlier days of the Church. Third, the Greek most definitely does not say "by the Lord" but rather "through the Lord", a phrasing inappropriate for our Lord's earthly ministry but entirely appropriate for His and the Spirit's inspiration of the early evangelists and their gospels.

To summarize, this verse does imply that the author of Hebrews was not around (as a Christian) in the earliest days of the Church when the gospel message first began to be disseminated in accordance with our Lord's mandate to take that gospel message, that "salvation [message]", to "the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). But it doesn't say anything to undermine Pauline authorship of Hebrews nor does it contradict his statements about seeing and hearing from our Lord personally and vividly on the road to Damascus (for the first time). In fact, since there is such a "clean break" being represented in this verse in the Greek here between the earlier and present generations, what follows in the next verse, though put humbly and somewhat indirectly (in accordance with the author's tone throughout this epistle) is a definite demonstration of apostolic authority through miracles which have been seen and confirmed "to us" (i.e., the later generation). That is because the "confirmation" of salvation, the proof of its reality and genuineness, is demonstrated by what follows in the next verse: miracles of which all who received the epistle would know, many of which had been accomplished through Paul (precisely to demonstrate his authority as an apostle of Christ).

(3c) [a message of salvation which] . . . has now been confirmed to us [in our day] (4) through God [the Father Himself] bearing witness to it through signs and wonders and various [other] demonstrations of His power, and with distributions of the Holy Spirit (i.e., spiritual gifts) according to His will (cf. 1Cor.12:11).
Hebrews 2:3c-4

Question #35:

In reading Luke 24: 30-31, what opened the eyes of the individuals who broke bread with Christ? One commentary stated it was possibly the nail in his hand that made them realized they were with the risen Christ and not the manner of how he broke the bread at Passover, etc.

Response #35:

The passage is clear that "they were kept from recognizing him" – a good translation of verse sixteen (NIV), and clear enough in any version that this is supernatural "hiding" of His identity: but for this divine masking of the fact that He was Jesus, they would certainly have recognized Him. Likewise, when the purpose of the masking had been fulfilled (they wouldn't have listed to Him the way they did to a stranger . . . because they would have been too amazed and filled with joy to hear anything said), then "their eyes were opened" – also clearly a supernatural thing in nature (a removal of the masking) so that they could "recognize Him".

Question #36:

In your Christology series page 97, you mentioned in section (e):

"there is no teaching of Jesus from the gospels which is not paralleled in the Old Testament (e.g., compare 1Kng.8:59 with Matt.6:11 and Lk.11:3) and in the New Testament epistles (e.g., compare Jn.17:17 with Eph.4:24)"

I do not see the comparison between these verses. Can you help?

Response #36:

First example deals with prays for supplying daily needs:

1st Kings 8:59: "according to each day’s need"

Matthew 6:11 (Lk.11:3): "Give us today the bread [we need] for the coming day."

Second one deals with spiritual growth from believing the truth as the means of holiness/sanctification:

John 17:17: " So make them holy (i.e., "sanctified") by means of Your truth – Your word is truth."

Ephesians 4:22-24: (21) [For you have learned the truth] – if, at any rate, you have truly heard Him (i.e., Jesus) and have been instructed in Him according to what is [definitely] true in Jesus – (22) that in respect to your previous behavior you have put off the old Man, the one that is being destroyed by deceptive lusts, (23) and that instead you are being re-made in the spirit of your mind, (24) and that you have put on the new Man, the one created in righteousness and sanctity of the truth according to God's standards.

Question #37:

In this week's positing on Response 19, you stated " The amazing thing to me, personally, is that in spite of everything God has done to make all the essential truths necessary to motivate us to want the gospel, so few human beings in the history of the world have had any use for Him at all"

How do you mesh that with Rev 7:9, 14 and 19:1, where there is a great multitude in heaven? Since we do not know someone's heart, like you eloquently explained to me from last week's postings, how can we then say that most will not go to Heaven. Are you using the example of Noah and exodus rebellion as a historical barometer? If not, what does Christ mean when he says the word "multitude"

Thank you like always and I am really enjoying the Christology series. I was going to purchase a book on Christ's life but your work is all I really need and an answer to a prayer.

God bless you in Christ our Lord.

Response #37:

The "great multitude" includes all believers. It is a vast number on its own terms, but compared to the unsaved this number is infinitesimally small. Also, many in this number are those who died young or were mentally incapable and so were saved "automatically". In my observation not only of contemporary events but also of the history of the world and the church, the statement is correct. We don't see people's hearts, but we do see their deeds, and it is not hard to distinguish those who love the truth from those who do not:

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Matthew 7:20 NIV

Thanks again for all your good words and prayers, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #38:

Hello Dr.,

I hope you and Yours are doing well .

Matt 19:30, 20:16 - what did Jesus mean by teaching that the first will be last and vice-versa ? And is it irreversible? Does it concern faith?

Good to hear from you, my friend. I'm keeping you in my prayers day by day. As to your questions:

Response #38:

This is a reference to the order of judgment with the more meritorious being judged first and the least last (see the link). This will result in surprises when many who were assumed to be "great" in this life turn out to be nothing special, whereas many who were reviled as being nothing will turn out to be the most highly rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ (cf. Lk.14:8-11).

Question #39:

Matt 19:24, is that a literal needle-eye ? I hear some say there was a small gate in the Jerusalem wall which was called so, does History prove it ?

Response #39:

No, it's not a literal gate or part of a gate. That is an apocryphal story which has been around unfortunately for a long time. The whole point of our Lord's analogy is to demonstrate the impossibility of salvation . . . without divine intervention. We are not qualified or able to bear a single sin, but Jesus died for them all! Please see the link: "Some Issues of Transmission, Translation, and Transliteration: The Camel and the Needle, etc".

Question #40:

According to especially Isaiah 59:2 and 1Peter 3:12, does that mean a sinner or in the case of Isaiah ,a Godly man who has sinned and lives so can not approach God and be heard in prayer whether for his repentance or anything else. And why was David "my servant" as if he lived a very clean life before God?

Response #40:

First, all believers are righteous in God's eyes, having been justified not by behavior or "works" but through simple faith . . . so that He sees Jesus' death for us instead of the sins He died for (Rom.4:1ff; see the link: "Justification"). Second, there is no one who does not sin and never needs to confess (1Jn.1:7-10; cf. Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2). If any of us saw the Lord face to face we would immediately be aware of how utterly lacking we are in all manner of ways. The issues of sin, justification, repentance, confession and the like require some detailed commentary to understand. I would ask you to read the study, BB 3B: Hamartiology: the Biblical Study of Sin (at the link; there are many other email links on the" previously posted" page which also deal with these issues; link), and let me know if you have any specific questions. We are all imperfect, but we are all called to be perfect. Making progress towards that goal of sanctification (see the link) requires daily spiritual growth and the application of truth to our walk in a diligent way.

Question #41:

What does Isaiah 40:22 mean ?

Yours in the Lord .

Response #41:

This wonderful passage is a bit of an anthropomorphism, that is, ascribing somewhat human characteristics to God in order to teach us some truths about Him. Here we see in poetic fashion God described as so far above us in wisdom, might, size and everything else, that He is clearly worthy of all of our awe and obedience. Here is how I have translated this passage (covered and explained in CT 2B: "The Heavenly Prelude to the Tribulation" at the link):

He [is the One] who sits [enthroned] above the circle of the earth (i.e., the "circular ceiling-vault" of the heavens as viewed from the earthly perspective), and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers [in His sight]. He [is the One] who stretches out the heavens like a curtain (cf. Ps.104:2), and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in (i.e., the "flat" appearance of the combined heavenly sea and firmament of the heavens looking down from the third heaven).
Isaiah 40:22

Hope you are doing well too, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #42:

Thank you for the notification. I pray and give thanks for your ministry.

I was wondering, in the days of Noah, was there rain at all prior to the flood?

Response #42:

Hello Friend,

Good to hear from you as always, and thanks so much for your prayers! As to your questions:

Genesis 2:5 tells us that there was no rain in Eden before the fall. It is possible that there was rain before the flood, but the fall did not change world geography – the flood did. So when we are told about the "mist" in Genesis 2:6 which "watered the whole face of the earth", it seems most likely that this situation continued until after the flood altered the earth's axis and brought in all manner of climatic changes.

Question #43:

How were concubines different than wives in the OT in terms of rights and selection?

Response #43:

Concubines are not wives. That is about all we can say. Whatever rights a wife had, a concubine did not necessarily have, but there is nothing in scripture which sets out their position specifically; it is a man-made one, and almost certainly varied from time to time and from place to place. We should probably also mention that multiple marriage by any name or legal construction never results in happiness. The biblical record is very clear on that (Jacob and Solomon, for example).

Question #44:

How closely related is lack of faith connected to lack of patience? Saul (offering sacrifice), Sarah (suggesting Hagar), and Aaron (building the golden calf) come to mind.

Response #44:

It's a good observation. Clearly, there are levels of faith; also, faith is not of much use if it dies out and does not endure. The seed which falls on the rocky soil in the parable of the Sower does represent faith which sprouts, but it shrivels under pressure and dies away – so that the person in question loses salvation when he/she loses faith and reverts to being an unbeliever. The same would be true in any sort of test. If Abraham had had faith all the way up until just before the promise of an heir was fulfilled then lost it, it would have been a shame. As it was, he remained strong in faith right up until the end. Perseverance or patience is thus "faith which stays strong over time" or "faith maintained under pressure" (Greek: hypomone = "a staying put under [it]"), and is thus a very important virtue in the chain of virtuous behavior necessary for continued faithfulness and spiritual growth:

(1) So now that we have been justified by faith, let us take hold of the peace [we have] with God [the Father] through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom we have also obtained our access into this grace in which we stand, and let us boast in the hope of the glory of God (i.e., in anticipation of our resurrection). (3) And not only this, but let us glory in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces patience (hypomone), (4) and patience produces proven character, and proven character produces hope – (5) and this hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us (cf. 2Tim.1:7).
Romans 5:1-5

Question #45:

Just to emphasize more on this, what does the Greek bring out to you in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV vs NIV)? Especially verse 4, NKJV has love suffers long. Suffering long does colors a more detailed description to me of what Love is. Love = Patience = suffering? Do they all entail the other?

Response #45:

The verb in 1st Corinthians 13:4 is makrothumeo, and means literally to "hold back one's anger" (cf. Eph.4:26, "be angry but do not sin"); God is said to be "long suffering" in this regard (the compound Greek word is based upon Hebrew phrases that means the same as what we find at e.g. Ps.103:8). When we refuse to allow our anger or passion or emotion of any kind get the better of our Christian walk, we are fulfilling this mandate. "Anger" is the quintessential emotion as the ancients understood it, so "long suffering" means essentially emotional self-control in the sense of not allowing our emotions to lead us into sin either actively or passively: we should do what we should do regardless of how we feel; we should not do what we should not do regardless of how we feel. Love is "long-suffering" in that way: if we are operating in love, we will not let our emotions get the better of us so as to think or say or do something we ought not (or fail to think, do, say what we should).

You are correct that "patience" means, literally, "suffering" . . . but probably "suffering through"; I say "probably" because the word is a Latin word (a noun derived from a participle which means, literally, "suffering"), and not a biblical word, so we would have to know how the person is using it (or what the translator is translating) to see precisely how it is to be understood. In the KJV, for example, "patience" (and cognates) translates makrothumeo, hypomone, epieikes, and anexikakos (and their cognates), but just in the New Testament.

For the record, I always found it to be a little dangerous to draw absolute conclusions about doctrinal principles from vocabulary alone (especially building doctrine on words out of context). Words "mean what they mean" to the people who choose them when and where they actually use them, and those people are no longer around in the case of the Bible, nor do we have any native speakers of ancient Hebrew or biblical Greek. Furthermore, context has to be the guide, because words usually have wider scope than exegetes often give them credit for; so every passage has to be taken on its own, and doctrine has to flow from the passage rather than from individual words divorced from context. The fact that we are complicating the issue by translating these Greek and Hebrew words and concepts into English words – which by definition are not going to be precisely the same – makes me all the more wary of the hyper-vocabulary approach which figures so prominently in much evangelical "teaching". No doubt, moreover, this is why the Bible talks about all these issues over and over again with different words and different contexts written by different authors. One passage rarely "does it" for understanding any issue, but repeated study of everything the Bible has to say is what will open up all these issues. Peter series lessons 16, 17 and 29 deal with the virtues, and of course there are many places at Ichthys where faith, hope and love are discussed.

When it comes to suffering, all Christians are told to "count the cost" of discipleship and to "carry our own cross daily", being resolved to "share in the sufferings of Christ" (see the link); so without any doubt there is suffering in the Christian life lived as it should be – because we are tested in order to get us to grow and to rely on the power of God rather than on our devices (see the link: "Spiritual Growth"). But God always gives joy through the tears for those who are truly walking with Jesus and looking to the blessings ahead.

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.
Psalm 126:5-6 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


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