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Biblical Interpretation VIII

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Question #1:

Dear Professor,

I wanted to ask you for guidance. I find it hard when I don't understand the scripture. I'm aware that it is not possible to attain to a complete understanding of every verse in this life and I'm looking forward to reading the entire Bible in eternal life and knowing what it all meant and how it should all have been interpreted.

Nevertheless, the daily Old and New Testament reading has in recent months often not given me the solid foundation of truth to go through the day, at least not without some doubts and uncertainties which bother me. Paul's writings are a good case in the point. They are exegetical and provide practical applications of biblical truths, but so many parts of them are unclear and difficult to interpret. His way of presenting arguments also doesn't make things easy. I cannot help but wonder how the addresses of his epistles understood it all if two thousand years later there are still so many disagreements among bible scholars on the meaning of numerous passages.

Even though my study is progressing, I know that it will be a while before I'm able extract the full meaning of verses which I now find difficult. How have you found peace when parts of the scripture were unclear to you? When it seemed to contradict other scriptures?

In our Lord,

Response #1:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I am working away at your Matthew questions (more than half-way done now); it's been a difficult time here. The semester has just begun and we are having some complications with that. Also, I'm sorry to have to report that the anticipated deliverance from our troubles did not materialize as expected, so we are still hanging on. Thanks for your continuing prayer support! It is very much needed [update: deliverance did come; the Lord is faithful!].

As to your question, I do understand what you are saying. Even for someone with the gift of pastor/teacher, it is not an overnight sort of thing to be able to go to the scriptures and gain enough spiritual nutrition to feed oneself immediately. In my own case, it was probably somewhere around seven years or so after devoting my life to the study of the Word that I began to move in that direction, and many more years after that before I began to gain confidence and effectiveness in the area of production (for self and others).

Your progress, in my estimation, has been incredibly fast, and all the more amazing given the heavy restrictions of workload on the one hand and relative absence of a group of like-minded people around you on the other. No doubt the Lord is bringing you along so fast precisely because the time is short. If you are looking to accelerate things further, in my opinion the best way to do that is to begin teaching the Bible, even if it is to only a small group of people. That is because when one is put in a position of having to communicate the truth, it forces one to explore that truth personally in a very deep way so as to thoroughly understand it and thus to be able to make it understandable to others. Also, it is in the nature of any teaching ministry, large or small, that to begin with it is the very basic things which must be explained, and in great detail – and that is very helpful to the teacher as well as to the student. Blessedly, the most accessible truths of the Bible and the Plan of God detailed therein are also the most basic and most important.

You have built an excellent foundation, and in the process of teaching others (and continuing to prepare to teach others), that foundation will strengthen progressively so as to be able to support an ever increasing load of more detailed truths, the result of which process will be an concomitantly increasing capacity to see more and more in scripture for yourself. It's a process unlike any other, and while it does yield to work, it requires patience in a way that no other human endeavor does (none with which I am familiar, in any case). There is a reason for all this too, after all. God could certainly have written the Bible in a way that made teachers largely superfluous. As it is, teachers are absolutely essential. God has done this to make the issue of authority crystal clear (for anyone with even a small dose of humility). The barriers you are bumping into (the same ones we all bumped into, those of us who have ever desired to teach the Word) are also impediments for the positive believer who wants to understand everything the Lord has bequeathed us in scripture – except that he/she has no chance of breaking through them all personally: he/she needs your help to negotiate them. That is why you are a necessary part of the Body of Christ, essential to the growth of the whole through the blessed ministry of teaching the Word of God in the power of the Spirit. The difficulty should thus produce sympathy and empathy for our brothers and sisters who need this help (knowing from deep personal experience that such help is absolutely necessary), and a burning desire to be available to fill that critical need. For without prepared pastor/teachers, there can be no spiritual growth past a very rudimentary point (a fact which goes a long way to explaining the spiritual poverty of our Laodicean age).

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. "Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
John 21:15-17 NIV

You are on the right road, my friend. As with all things, the Lord will bring you through this resistance and answer all your prayers in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in you and who has gifted you to accomplish this important ministry for the Church of our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Dear Professor,

I asked you a question about 1 John 5:6 a while ago and recently I have re-read the answer, but I'm still not clear. Regarding this passage you wrote:

In the actual Greek, "Spirit" occurs also in verse 6a; but after the three are listed sequentially, in the second half of the verse, 6b, blood and water are separated out, then John adds, "and the Spirit is the One who gives [this] testimony". What testimony, if not that Jesus is truly human as evidenced by the water and the blood to which the Spirit testifies. John encapsulates the two between two references to the three, and thus emphasizes the two and the testimony of the Third, the Spirit. The objection does not, therefore, "hold water", and stems no doubt from misreading the genuine text. The whole "Johanine comma" corruption has made this particular passage and issue much more difficult than it needs to be.

1. Could you explain what you mean by "Spirit" appearing in verse 6a? I cannot see it in the text on blueletterbible:

2. I'm not sure what you mean by "John encapsulates the two between two references to the three, and thus emphasizes the two and the testimony of the Third". I'm also not clear how this answers the objection presented in the commentary I cited.

3. The NIV study Bible presents an interesting view:

5:6 water and blood. Water symbolizes Jesus' baptism, and blood symbolizes his death. These are mentioned because Jesus' ministry began at his baptism and ended at his death. John may be reacting to the Gnostic heretics of his day (see Introduction: Gnosticism) who said that Jesus was born only a man and remained so until his baptism. At that time, they maintained, the Messiah (the Son of God) descended on the human Jesus but left him before his suffering on the cross—so that it was only the man Jesus who died. Throughout this letter John has been insisting that Jesus Christ is God as well as man (1:1–4; 4:2; 5:5). He now asserts that it was this God- man Jesus Christ who came into our world, was baptized and died. Jesus was the Son of God not only at his baptism but also at his death (v. 6b). This truth is extremely important, because, if Jesus died only as a man, his sacrificial atonement (2:2; 4:10) would not have been sufficient to take away the guilt of human sin. the Spirit who testifies. The Holy Spirit testifies that Jesus is the Son of God in two ways:(1) The Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism (Jn 1:32–34), and (2) he continues to confirm in the hearts of believers the apostolic testimony that Jesus' baptism and death verify that he is the Messiah, the Son of God (see 2:27; 1Co 12:3 and notes; cf. Ro 8:16 and note).

I know that you link the water and blood mentioned in this verse to John 19:34, but would you say it is possible that John is here referring to our Lord's baptism and death on the cross? I know that particularly the meaning of the former is often misunderstood, but if we take our Lord's baptism as symbolic of his immersion in the sins of humanity, it seems that this take could also make sense. Our Lord came "by water" - His ministry started with a symbolic immersion in the sins of humanity – and "by blood" - this is how His ministry was completed, when the actual payment for all the sins took place. And "it is the Spirit who testifies" - Spirit's testimony is evident both when He descended on our Lord as a dove during His baptism, and in the three hours of the cross – when the Spirit upheld our Lord during the three hours of darkness. Two further points here would be that in the previous verse John says "5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" and it is during the baptism that God says "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased", which is a clear testimony of our Lord's sonship. Finally, in John 19:34 we have "blood and water", but here "water and blood" - this reversed order could also suit the baptism-cross interpretation. Here also maybe John stresses that our Lord didn't come "with the water only", but "with the water and with the blood" to emphasise that authenticity of Jesus' sacrifice? What do you think?

In our Lord,

Response #2:

Hello my friend,

Sorry for the delay. Hope you are well! We begin the semester tomorrow, and I have had family visiting which has made things a bit of a circus here.

1) The word pneuma occurs in Aleph and "A" (as well as some other mss.) and should be included in the standard text along with the word kai just after the word "of blood" (haimatos) – but is not, it is true, included in the standard modern text as usually construed (that is sadly the case with many correct readings).

2) I don't remember the objection, but the addition of "and Spirit" along with "and the Spirit is the One" after "not only by blood but by water" makes it clear (to me at least) that John is talking about literal blood and water with the (literal) Spirit being the One who makes clear the meaning of this proof of Christ's true humanity which John himself witnessed and reported in his gospel.

3) I would not be willing to accept the water here as baptism without some proof for several reasons. First, I am very skeptical (as you know) of automatically equating "water" with ritual baptism. That is a medieval notion which I do not find in scripture, and it has caused much damage over the years (its natural result being to endow water-baptism with a false significance it does not in fact possess). Secondly, incipient Gnosticism seems to be the problem John is addressing with this passage (one finds that problem addressed in Paul's epistles too, and also in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation). The NIV note sees that Gnosticism is a problem which relates to John's insertion of this argument here, but introducing water-baptism into the mix if that is indeed the case would run counter to their correct observation. I would prefer to see their comments and your (better) explanation as applications rather than interpretations. That is because if blood = the cross, then the blood is symbolic; but if water = baptism, then the water is real. It seems to me that an interpretation which answers all questions will take all three, water, blood and Spirit as symbolic . . . or real (my position). In that case, since the blood will then be the literal blood of John 19:34, it would seem that the water will be from the same reference – with the Spirit testifying to the truth of John's report.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Dear Professor,

Thank you for your answers. I understand that you don't consider this interpretation to be correct, but I thought I would still clarify a couple of points:

1. What I meant regarding the baptism is not equating water with ritual baptism, I know your take on this issue and agree with your scriptural interpretation. I had in mind our Lord's symbolic immersion in the sins of humanity - so not a general baptism, but His unique baptism, meaning of which was different than that of anyone else.

2. This would mean that both water and blood are symbolic - the former signifying a symbolic immersion in the sins of humanity and the payment for them, the latter - an actual immersion and actual payment.

3. Although the interpretation may still be incorrect, it solves the question of the order - in John 19:34 we have "blood and water" and in 1 John 5:6 - "water and blood". Let me know if you consider the reversal significant.

In our Lord,

Response #3:

You're very welcome, my friend, and I certainly don't have a problem with you having your own opinion on this. This is still a semi-free country (as is yours), and we still have the right to our own opinions (as long as we don't express the politically incorrect "wrong" ones too vociferously).

As to #1 and #2, I hear what you are saying, but if the blood in 1st John is symbolic (i.e, if it does not actually refer to the physical blood which came from His wound, demonstrating His true humanity), then said blood is entirely symbolic – it then has nothing to do with any actual blood at all, but represents in that case the spiritual death of Christ. Water can be symbolic too. It often represents the Word of God. But if the water in 1st John is symbolic in a way parallel to the blood (which it seems to me that it would have to be for this interpretation to work), then it can't have to do with a ritual involving water: if the word "water" is used in scripture as a symbol, then it doesn't mean water, it means something else (like the Word of God). If the water in 1st John relates to Christ's baptism, then things are actually the other way around 180 degrees: in that case, the water is actual water; the ritual involving the actual water would be what is symbolic of something else. This does all relate if only obliquely to the point about water-baptism generally. The only reason the word "water" conjures up the idea of baptism for any Christian is because of the false use of and emphasis on this unauthorized ritual since the early days of the church visible (all legitimate water baptism in the NT is John's baptism, see the link). If that prejudice were not present, I don't think this particular interpretation would ever have gained credence.

On the word order, it might be significant, but I don't see it as problem to be solved. Reversing or altering the order of elements in lists is pretty common in the Bible and in Greek generally without necessarily having significance; it's generally more of a stylistic thing in a language that is not particularly dependent upon word order (as English is, for example) so that such is a means of variation and occasionally of emphasis. If it is significant, it seems to me that the problem would be more one for this interpretation than anything else: how can the "water" which anticipates the "blood" be more important than the blood – if we are really talking here about the blood of Christ and his anticipatory water baptism?

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Dear Professor,

Thank you for your reply, I understand your points. I wouldn't say I have a sufficient comprehension of this verse to form an opinion, rather I'm trying to arrive at it. Another question I wanted to ask is how we should take the expression "not with the water only" - if we take the water and blood as both referring to John 19:34, then how should it be explained? I may be wrong here, but it seems to me that to say that our Lord did not come "with the water only" means that there are some who could have thought that our Lord did come only by the water, which I'm not sure how it can be reconciled with the water flowing from our Lord's side.

In our Lord,

Response #4:

I think it is fair to say that this particular phraseology, "not with the water alone" requires explanation under any interpretation. Let's remember what the whole context says, once the passage is restored to its original form:

This is the One who came through water and blood and Spirit, Jesus Christ – not with the water alone, but with the water and with the blood; and the Spirit is the One who gives this testimony, for the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and the three give the same testimony (more literally: "result in the same thing").
1st John 5:6-8

This last piece, namely, the statement that all three witnesses to this principle (whatever it is) mean the same thing / give the same testimony, would seem to militate against the baptism/cross interpretation in three ways: 1) there would then be "two" not one "thing/point" being testified to, and 2) while the water and the blood would each correspond to something symbolic, the Spirit would not, which makes the final part, kai oi treis eis to hen eisin ("and the three give the same testimony") problematic for that bifurcated interpretation; 3) persons and evidence give testimony, but if something is symbolic, how can it give testimony? It would seem to me that this last point means that the blood has to be something real and tangible – visible evidence – for it to be useful in providing testimony, just as the Spirit, a Person, can give evidence and testimony.

Going back now to "not with the water alone", this does make some sense to me in the context of John combating incipient Gnosticism. In the Gnostic system, water is one of the original elements (along with darkness and chaos et al.), whereas blood is entirely related to living creatures in any appreciation of these matters. So while some might be convinced of Christ's genuine humanity by "water", that might not be true of the Gnostics; blood, however, seals the deal (so to speak), and the testimony of the Spirit to the truthfulness of John's report (here and in his inspired gospel) makes for a triad of witnesses to the truth that Jesus really did take on a genuine human nature in addition to His divine nature.

As I say, it doesn't seem such an important point for us today when most people in the world today seem to accept the reality of a human Jesus – but are reluctant to see Him as the God He is. However, in John's day and in the centuries immediately following, this false notion of a pseudo-human form was one of the biggest threats to the faith. And I should also mention that in the past few years I have received some emails from hyper-Messianic and related groups which do tend in this ancient direction as well.

As always, I appreciate your love of and care for the truth of scripture, my friend.

Keep fighting that good fight in Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Dear Bob,

First, I would like to ask how things are going with you? It's been a couple of months, and I was just curious. We've recently moved down south and are still in the process of changing all of our documents. Overall it's still a period of adjustment, but I think the hardest part of it is over now, and I'm already making plans to get moving forward.

Anyway, I was doing my reading recently (I am on Luke and Exodus now) and there's something that escaped my notice before: Luke 12:35-48. In this passage the Lord speaks of servants being at-the-ready, and vigilant at all times, since we know not when He will return. One thing I noticed was how he spoke of 'the unprepared servants', the ones that thought to themselves 'the master will not be back for some time', the ones who got drunk and beat the other servants, according to Jesus' parable. He said that they will be "assign him a place with the unbelievers", thus implying that said drunken servant was a believer.

In literal or practical terms, what would this mean exactly? There are no true believers who are cast away, or am I missing the analogy? What I want to think or the thought I keep falling back on is that this servant was unrepentant or not really a believer? If my reasoning is right, Jesus is essentially saying "Do not just say that you are believers, but behave as such" or something like that? What do you think?

Response #5:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I'm happy to hear that, in spite of all the disruption occasioned by the "M" word, you are doing what you can to keep contact with what is most important.

As to your question, demanding alertness is a common way in scripture (especially as our Lord uses it in the gospels; see the link) to emphasize the importance of maintaining faith. After all, for what are supposed to be on watch? Our Lord is not a mere human master for whom we are responsible to do chores around a literal house. Our relationship to the Lord and the responsibilities He gives to us are first and foremost spiritual, and it is in the realm of the Spirit that this parable has its primary application. We have to be careful to maintain our faith, our trust in Him, at all costs if we are going to "be saved" ultimately even as we "are saved" positionally (the distinction is discussed in the Peter series at the link: Lesson #28), regardless of how long we must wait.

Note also that in this parable the wicked servant about whom you specifically ask is not "unprepared" (which is indeed a bad thing and which will render anyone in that state incredibly vulnerable to the negative pressures of the Tribulation, but which is a problem believers rather than unbelievers may have); rather, the bad servant is deliberately attacking those who are trying to be good servants (beating them) even as he indulges himself in the false assumption that he will never be called to account. Remember that our Lord came to Israel, God's own special nation, wherein everyone was supposed to be a believer – that was the presumption (even though it never came to pass); that being the case, Israel is always described collectively in this sense, that is, as those who should be believers, even when many or most of them are not (e.g., Jn.1:11; see the link).

People who demonstrate by their every act that they despise the Lord are certainly not believers in the first place; for that reason the punishment meted out to the bad steward is entirely appropriate – and he certainly represents the stewardship of the leading religious and political figures of Jesus' day (who put on holy airs but were certainly not saved). So first our Lord tells those who are saved and responsive to Him what they should do (i.e., continue to be people of faith and follow through and protect that faith); then He addresses those who are not of faith, even though they may have positions of authority in the religious establishment and therefore seem to others to be people of faith. Our Lord thus makes it clear that God knows the difference between those who are His and those who are not (2Tim.2:19). A good lesson for us today, "upon whom the end of the ages has come". For when the Tribulation begins, the vast majority of "holy men" will follow antichrist.

Yours in the Name of the dear Lord Jesus who redeemed us with His death for us,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Today I learned that it was common practice for crucifixion victims to be stripped naked during crucifixion. Was this fate shared by our Lord? If so, it makes the giving away of His garments far more worse than I had previously thought.

Response #6:

As to the question itself, John 19:23 tells us that our Lord's chiton, His "long t-shirt" – which was the basic element of clothing ("overdress"), was not torn but apportioned by lot because of its unique quality. It was not unheard of for men to wear a loin clothe under the chiton ("underdress"), and in the cooler weather of the springtime this would be more desirable that during the summer. Traditional depictions of our Lord's crucifixion generally make this assumption – it's just an assumption, but it would also be just an assumption to assume the other way around: it's doubtful that the loin cloth, if present, would have been of any value to the soldiers. What happened once the darkness fell when our Lord rose in the flames to take away our sins is the really important event (and less well known or considered even than this question; see the link). However, our Lord's willingness to undergo complete humiliation – in the world's eyes – in order to be in position to save us by His spiritual death on our behalf, is something that helps us have a small idea of the sacrifice He underwent to cover our sins.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dear Professor,

Thank you for your reply. Regarding the water, blood and Spirit giving the same testimony, I just thought that our Lord's death on the cross is the testimony and water is a symbol of immersion in sins of humanity, blood is the symbol of the payment and Spirit is the one who testifies about both the water and the blood - He has been present during our Lord's baptism and upheld Him on the cross. So in this respect Spirit is a witness to both. I acknowledge, however, the limitations of this interpretation and understanding that water is one of the original elements in the Gnostic system is something I didn't know and it really makes a difference here. As always, thank you for your patience. It remains a difficult verse, perhaps one of the most difficult, as evident in the plethora of interpretations out there.

As I was reading the letter of James, it occurred to me that maybe he is addressing unbelievers in his letter also - let me know what you think of the following.

James 2:14-26: One question I wanted to ask about this passage is about the exact nature of "faith" as defined here by James and whether the addressees of the letter are actual believers or not. Answering my question you wrote:

On a), faith "without works" cannot save, because faith "without works" is in truth no faith at all but would be at best, as you put it, merely and "intellectual appraisal . . . etc.". In fact, James' mention of the demons is purely for illustrative purposes. They "know-believe" but they don't really "obey-believe". The key, in my view, is that "faith without works" is an empty set for human beings. No one who really believes in Jesus is without any works whatsoever (since acting or speaking or thinking in any way "in faith" is a "work" as James later explains). It is important to remember, moreover, that James is writing to believers, not unbelievers (who could care less). If a believer is touting "faith" but is weak on the application of it, this verse will sting and motivate said person to "make sure" he/she has "something to show" for the faith they truly do have (rather than resting on their laurels, so to speak); and of course said person would never be motivated to do so, hearing these verses, if there were no genuine faith present to begin with.

So I understand that it's not the genuine, saving faith that James means here, but rather an acknowledgment of God's existence which even the demons display. On the other hand, you wrote that James is writing to believers, so I'm wondering how to reconcile these two points – on the one hand he is not referring to the true faith, on the other hand he's writing to those who are supposed to be believers.

I thought that maybe there are two groups of people to whom James is here referring. The first, as you wrote in previous responses on this passage, are marginal believers. Their faith is dying, no longer producing any fruit and they are consequently nearing apostasy. James is stirring these to action. But there is also the second group that maybe could be included here. These are non-believers who consider themselves saved. I know that, as you wrote, non-believers perhaps would not care about being rebuked for their lack of genuine faith which produces works, but I think that maybe there is a group that could actually react to such a rebuke. An example of this could be members of institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church and some other denominations – people who think that by attending a weekly mass they've done all that is needed and are completely unproductive in spiritual terms. I may be wrong on this, but it seems to me that James might be intending to motivate such people to a reevaluation of their belief. There are some unbelievers who will still read the Bible or attend services. And there is a second aspect to this view – if these unbelievers don't accept James' teaching, at least he has showed them that what they think is sufficient to be saved, isn't really. This conclusion, however, would mean that it's not just believers and marginal believers to whom James is writing, but also "false" or "self-proclaimed" believers. Considering the content of chapter four, in which James tells the receivers of the letter not to do what they are currently doing ("You ask and do not receive...", "You adulteresses...") and five ("Come now, you rich...") maybe this isn't impossible. Let me know your take on this.

In our Lord,

Response #7:

Hello my Friend,

You make good points throughout as always. I am continually encouraged by your growth in the truth.

As to the new question, James says he is writing "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" in Jas.1:1, and in the next verse calls them "my brothers". I think you find this phenomenon, namely, of encouraging words, doctrinal teaching, and also what we might consider harsh language for believers in nearly all of the New Testament epistles (and in the Prophets too). I think this is a case of "if the shoe fits, wear it". The Bible is written first and foremost for the people of God, but of course God wants all to be saved and plenty of Christians over the years have been saved by reading the Bible. What exactly James himself anticipated in the reception of his letter is hard to know, but it does seem to me that, like Paul, he could not have been unaware that within the congregations which would receive this letter there would indeed be those who were pretending to be believers or who were deceiving themselves about their salvation, never having actually placed their faith in Jesus Christ. In any case, the Holy Spirit will surely have used these words for the benefit of all who have come to this portion of scripture seeking the truth – for nearly two millennia now. The question here is one of interpretation, and in that respect I do think we have to see James' arguments as being directed towards believers, however marginal.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

I'm sure that most Christians are aware of the following passage in James:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)

But what most people aren't aware is that James contains specific instructions for how we are to endure these trials and develop perseverance:

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." (James 1:19-21)

Unfortunately, all Christians who are saved do continue to have moral filth and evil inside of their hearts; but, most thankfully, God is giving us trials to eliminate this filth and evil inside of us. But how should we behave when these trials come upon us, so that we may successfully endure them? James tells us that we must be

(1) Quick to listen

(2) Slow to speak

(3) Slow to become angry

The most serious is speaking, because the poison on our tongues is the most destructive force in the universe, and the most difficult is anger, as anyone under true trials will be tempted, somehow or another, to become angry, as the examples of Moses and Job show. However, anger, even anger directed at ourselves, is incapable of producing righteousness. But to the contrary, it is when we refuse to get angry (in addition with the previous two) that we become complete.

Sincerely,

Response #8:

Every verse has to be appreciated in its entire context, and it always all comes back to spiritual growth, which, as you rightly observe, has a defensive aspect in warding off sin – but much more importantly an offensive one in applying the truth we have believed. We can't be like Abraham and Rahab, two person who acted out of faith in exceptional ways, until we have placed a tremendous amount of truth into our hearts by hearing it, learning it and believing it . . . and then we can do the true "works" of God, passing the tests He brings our way and considering that process "all joy".

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hello Bob, it's been a long time since my last e-mail. It's been times of struggle and testing here. During 2014 my father in law broke his hips (I don't know if that's the right word in English, it's where the leg meets the waist). He spent one month at the hospital. Two months after that, my mother had a heart surgery, and two months after that my mother in law had an accident on the street with a second degree burn on one of her legs. The Lord showed all His power and mercy, all three of them are well and recovered.

I imagine that you know what happened in Argentina last week. The Prosecutor in charge of the Amia bombing investigation was found dead in his apartment, with a gun shot in his head. So far we don't what happened. Most people believe that the government killed him; that morning he was supposed to go to the Congress to show evidence of corruption in the government. The government says that the secret services killed him. The third hypothesis is that he committed suicide. Lot of convulsion as you can imagine.

That's how life went here. BUT, in spite of all these things, it's been time of growing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I'm reading the coming tribulation series and I have a question. You say that the flood at Noah's time involved the waters from below AND the waters from above (the ones that keep the third heaven separated from this world, or the shamaim, first and second heaven). I guess that the waters from below went back to their place. My question is: what happened with the waters from above? How can it be that there still is water above? Possible answers that come to my mind are: 1) not all the waters from above fell during the flood, 2) God created more. For none of these two I found the biblical text.

Can you help me with these?

Hope you are well my friend.

As always, may the Lord Jesus Christ bless you.

Response #9:

Good to hear from you again. I'm sorry to here that you've had some times of trouble, but rejoice to hear that the Lord has proven faithful to you in the deliverance of your family. He always does.

As to your question, the waters which divide the visible world from the third heaven above and from the subterranean world below are not necessarily visible to human perception. Some are (atmospheric moisture above; seas of the world below); but most are not. What portion of these two groupings of waters were used for the flood is not known, only that enough water was employed to flood the entire earth to a specific and predetermined depth (enough to guarantee the destruction of the no-doubt physically resilient nephilim, but not enough to change the earth's topography beyond what was planned). This flooding was much less than was the case during the Genesis gap judgment on the universe wherein the cosmic deep or tehom flooded the entire universe. Without supernatural agency, of course, none of these things would be possible. As to precisely where the excess water went from the waters "above", we can only speculate that the Lord caused it to return to the place where He sequestered it during the second day of reconstruction. That would also be true of the excess waters "below" since these also exceeded what was/is present in the world's seas: "on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth" (Gen.7:11 NIV).

These two sets of waters constitute the barriers between the world we do see and the ones we cannot discern with human eyes, both above and below (because at present they are at the boundaries of "this cosmos"). Here is a link to a chart you may already have seen where these things are presented schematically:

The waters above and below

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Can you please tell me what Jesus meant when he mentioned 'people love darkness more than light'? Is he talking about both believers and unbelievers?

Response #10:

Here is the entire passage:

(18) "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (19) And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (21) But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
John 3:18-21 NKJV

Our Lord makes it clear here that condemnation rests upon those who have not believed (v.18), that "loving darkness" is the same as condemnation (rejecting Christ) and opposed to "loving light" (accepting Him who is the Light, Jesus Christ, through faith; v.19), that darkness and practicing evil go hand in hand (v.20), and that believers are the ones who instead "come to the light" (v.21). Salvation, as verse 18 makes clear, comes by grace through faith, whereas condemnation comes from rejecting God's grace and refusing to accept Christ as Savior. The result of the former is love of the light and acting in accordance with the light; whereas acting according to darkness and loving darkness are things which go hand in hand with disbelief. This is not what causes condemnation; rather, love of darkness and consequent refusal to believe leads to dark actions as a result.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus who is the Light of the world.

Bob L.

Question #11:

Dear Prof. Bob,

Thank you for your timely reply. As shown in the enclosed snapshots, your ichthys.com website was down and inaccessible two days ago, but up and reachable today.

By the way, I wonder if you'd like to clarify the debate on Virgin Mary's conception truth: the blog author nanoclub proposes the status of Virgin Mary as a substitute mom of baby Jesus whereas I question the validity of his claim judging from the prophecy of Jesus being descendent of King David by being part of Mary's blood line instead of being Joseph's. In other words, Virgin Mary's fertilized egg contains King David's human life seed - she is Not a substitute mom having a fertilized not-her-own egg implanted into her womb.

Jesus was the literal son of David through Mary, a descendant of Nathan, one of David's sons, as in Luke's genealogy. Jesus was the legal son and heir of David through King Solomon as in Matthew's genealogy. (cited from Coffman Commentaries)

(blog article written by a Christian engineering professor at National Central University - ncu.edu.tw - penname as nanoclub, http://blog.udn.com/nanoclub/5956472)

Your kindness in enlightening His words and enternal plan in non-profit ways is highly appreciated.

In Jesus Christ,

Response #11:

You're very welcome – and thank you as well for this timely report (it was very helpful). My hosting company is having a lot of issues lately (with email as well).

As to your question, you are of course absolutely correct. Unquestionably our Lord fulfills the promises to David in a literal way – and that would be impossible if He were not the actual offspring of Mary. The sin nature is passed down through the male line, and that is why our Lord had to be born of woman but not man – to be sinless in all respects and thus qualified to go to the cross and expiate our sins through His spiritual death in Calvary's darkness.

No doubt this very odd false teaching you report derives from the failure to understand the true nature of human life, being spiritual as well as physical, with the human spirit being severally created by God in each human being at the point of physical birth (Zech.12:1).

Here are some links where these matters are discussed further:

The Incarnation and Virgin Birth

The Spiritual Death of Christ

The Dichotomy of Man

Life Begins at Birth

Do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Robert

The Greek word nun ("now").

John 16:5 means Jesus went to heaven BEFORE the crucifixion?

Thank you.

Response #12:

Not at all. The Greek particle combination nun de (νῦν δέ) marks a strong contrast between what is about to be said and what has just been said, often translated "but as it is . . .". Our Lord is contrasting what He just said about being with the disciples "from the beginning" and what is about to happen after His ascension to heaven, following His death in the darkness for the sins of the world. If you keep reading in the context you will see that Jesus then talks about the advent of the Spirit which followed the ascension.

Question #13:

I do have another question. Do you believe it is important to keep in mind the verse in Matthew that 'Jesus knew their thoughts'?

Response #13:

Everything in scripture is important. As to meaning, this verse has to be understood in the light of the doctrine of kenosis (see the link). As God, in His deity, of course Jesus has always known everything even before He created the world in accordance with the Father' plan in the power of the Spirit. During the first advent, however, He deliberately limited Himself as to how His deity could help His humanity (Phil.2:5-11), in order for His sacrifice to be thoroughly righteous as coming from a true human being who lived a righteous life without being spared its trials (cf. Matt.3:15; Heb.2:18; 4:15). But even during the first advent, when this special limitation was in place, we may be sure that 1) our Lord was the best observer of human nature who has ever lived (cf. Jn.2:25), which means that He could surely "read" people and figure out what they were thinking from their reactions better than anyone else has ever been able to do, and 2) the Father was just to reveal to Him whatever else was legitimately needed for Him to fulfill His mission, just as He has always done for all the prophets, and so how much more so for THE Prophet (2Ki.4:27b):

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Good Morning Brother Bob – I trust you are in good health and basking in the grace and love of our Saviour.

I am in need of your link on THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL ,,,I have about 30 books on the explosion of NDE’s (Near Death Experiences); thousands of them say they have made science accept that the SOUL can and does survive the body and even dominates the brain. NONE of it sounds like the world depicted in Lazarus & the Rich Man. Where, pray tell, do they think this SPIRITUAL WORLD is where saved & unsaved are all mixed together?

Thanks in advance for straightening me out.

Response #14:

Good to hear from you again. You've introduced a number of issues here; I'll try to get to them all, but do feel free to write back:

1) The word "soul" is an English word, not really a Bible word, and it causes problems for understanding the Bible. When the English versions use "soul" they are usually translating the Hebrew word nephesh or the Greek word psyche (which is the NT equivalent of nephesh). In either case, the word really means "person" or "life", as can be seen, for example, in Matthew 16:25 where our Lord says ". . . and whoever loses his life (psyche) for my sake . . . " (obviously, "losing one's soul" would be an obviously wrong translation here). However, in many other places where "life" or "person" or "self" or "heart" would work better theologically, many versions say, very misleadingly, "soul". So for example when our Lord says in Matthew 10:28, "rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (KJV), the reader is left to assume that the "soul" is the immaterial part of the human being parallel to the body, and that is most definitely not the fact (nor is it even a "tertium quid"; see links below). In fact, in that passage our Lord is speaking about "life" being lost/destroyed: eternal death in place of eternal life for those who reject Him as their Lord and Savior.

The immaterial part of the human being is the human spirit; "soul" represents the total person or his/her life or heart (the total inner person), but there is no such thing as a "soul" with independent existence. Everyone is, however, given a human spirit at birth (that is when we become "a living person/nephesh" ala Gen.2:7), and we will always have it thereafter since it's who we really "are" inside (even unbelievers are resurrected, after all, for a resurrection "unto death" and an eternity in the lake of fire, and that is the provision of a new body for their spirit). So speaking about the "immortality of the soul" is very misleading, if only because the passages in scripture – in the English Bible – which have that word often do not mean what it generally assumed in this regard for the reasons sketched out very briefly above. For more on this, please see the links:

Soul versus Spirit

The Creation of Man (in BB 3A: Biblical Anthropology)

Biblical Anthropology I

Is the Soul a Tertium Quid?

Is the Nature of Man Trichotomous?

Biblical Anthropology II: 'Soul sleep', & dichotomy vs. trichotomy

Biblical Anthropology III: Soul versus Spirit, "Soul Sleep", and the Interim Body

2) On near-death experiences, I have written quite a lot lately (and have received many questions) on this phenomenon – that is, the phenomenon of the reports. Suffice it say that you are well within your rights to be skeptical. As Christians we believe God and we believe His Word: all others are not God nor do they have the gift of prophecy (as the gift has lapsed now that the canon is complete). Why would God be giving us this sort of information not in the Bible from people who are not prophets? Why, if it were important, is it not in the Bible? On the other hand, it's hard to find an individual making this claim who has not benefitted from it in some way, usually financially (those books you mention are not free, no doubt). So any discussion of the eternal state, whether of believers or unbelievers, has to be based on scripture, and no "information" from someone who supposedly has privileged first-hand knowledge of the sort you report should be paid any heed at all. Here are some links on that:

Third Party Testimony: We Believe God and His Word – Not People

Beware of third party reports I

Beware of third party reports II

Beware of third party reports III

Beware of third party reports IV

Beware of third party reports V

3) As to the actual, biblical state of affairs, the situation described in the parallel of Lazarus and the rich man is no longer the current one.  That is because when our Lord won the victory of the cross, was resurrected and ascended to heaven, believers who have passed on were at that point allowed to enter the third heaven (see the link).  Prior to the cross, the price for their salvation had yet to be paid; they were saved "on credit", so to speak (cf. Rom.3:25).  But they could not be allowed into the presence of God before they had actually been redeemed by the spiritual death of Christ.  God prepared a place for them, in the underworld, namely, "paradise" to which Jesus refers on the cross (Lk.23:43), called in the story of Lazarus and the rich man, "Abraham's bosom" (see the link). That place is now vacant; today, believers who die in the Lord go to be with Him in the third heaven; however, the other chambers of Hades, the Abyss and Torments, are very much still occupied (see the link: "Keys to Death and Hades"; and this link for graphic representation).

To conclude, you are correct that today there is no such interaction between departed believers and unbelievers. As to the interim status of both in interim bodies (as only Jesus has yet been resurrected), please see the following links:

Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State

The Resurrection Body and our Eternal Future

Biblical Anthropology III

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Thank you for the helpful answers .

So where Jesus tells us in Matt 10 about who we should fear – He who destroys/perishes both the body and the soul/inner being in hell , where then is spirit of a non-believer going to be if his embodiment is so destroyed, and I always think about numerous verses which use hell/surffering forever as if the inhabitants will keep burning eternally, if that will be the case, then what purpose does it serve to keep a sinner who will not at any time repent "eternally "burning?

So does that "foreverness" mean complete destruction and away from God's memory or it is the sinner's experiential suffering?

Zambia

Response #15:

Hello again, friend.

Matthew 10:28 is notoriously misunderstood and mistranslated. The word "soul" is psyche and means "life" here: instead of life eternal, unbelievers experience the "second death" (Rev.2:11; 20:6; 20:14; 21:8). Unbelievers too are resurrected, but to a resurrection "unto condemnation" rather than life (Jn.5:29). They will have a spirit and body too for all eternity, but will be in darkness separated from the presence of the Lord – which is what they really desire in their heart of hearts (not suffering but independence from Him). And, yes, it is a "forever" of suffering in full consciousness – for there can be no blessing without God's presence, only cursing. On that, please see the links:

Annihilationism, Universalism, Hell and Judgment

Literal Hell

The Eternal Nature of the Last Judgment

The Problem of Unbelievers (in BB 4B)

The Last Judgment (in CT 6)

Against Universalism I: Free Will and the Image of God.

Against Universalism II: Only Believers are Saved.

Against Universalism III: Unbelievers in the Plan of God.

"Their worm" in Isaiah 66:24 (see Q/A #3)

So I think you have understood these things correctly, even if the conclusion is uncomfortable. The "second death" is not oblivion but eternal suffering. Unbelievers face a choice: eternity with God on His terms (accepting Christ whereby they accede to the will of God), or eternity without God whereby they never have to bend their will to His. No doubt Satan and his angels and all unbelievers, whether inherently evil or "good" in the world's terms, would very much like an eternity of blessing wherein they could set their own rules oblivious to the will of God – that is exactly what the devil has been trying to do since his revolt. However, there will only be one "heavens and earth" in the future just as there is only one now, and it will be ruled unambiguously by God, the present situation being "in flux" only so that all moral creatures can make their own fair and free choice about whom they wish to serve, God or themselves.

The problem for the devil, fallen angels, and all human beings who would rather preserve their "right" to rule themselves rather than to "give in" and accept the sovereignty of God in the Person of Christ is that blessing only exists with God; apart from God there is only cursing. This world is a short and unique time where, just as good and evil coexist, so cursing and blessing coexist, and we all have shares of each. In eternity, those who are with God in the new heavens and new earth will know only blessing – for there can only be blessing in the place of God where God presents Himself for all to see and to commune with. Those, however, who do not care to be with God and want to continue to rule their own wills must of course be shut out of the place of God. They were created and so will always exist, but their "existence" is so bleak as to be called "the second death". That this existence is so detestable does not for that reason mean that it is not existence – it is, and forever, but in the lake of fire.

The truly remarkable thing about the hardness of the human heart is that even though God did everything to save the human beings who will be condemned forever, even to the point of having His only Son our Lord take on human form to come into this world and die in the flames for their sins, yet nevertheless these unbelievers are completely unwilling to accept this most marvelous Gift . . . because they do not wish to be subordinate to God in any way. Such is the necessary result in many cases of endowing finite creatures with the divine element of the image of God, namely, "free will". I can assure you that no one will go into the lake of fire accidentally, and that none who do would make a different decision in an hundred thousand life-times. Wanting to be gods, they have no use for God, however horrific the consequences, however easy (for us) the solution: salvation paid for by the blood of Christ. And how should God "feel" about those who take the most precious thing in the world, the blood of Christ, the death of the Father's Son for them in the darkness, and throw that precious sacrifice right back into God's face? I know that we who have chosen for Jesus and life eternal need to have no qualms about their poor decision, for on the one hand they did know what they were doing, and on the other they would do it again a thousand times if they had a thousand chances. This will all be made clear at the last judgment where the secrets of the hearts of all mankind are completely revealed (Eccl.12:14; Rom.2:16; 14:12; 1Cor.4:4-5; 2Pet.3:10; cf. Job 19:29; Eccl.3:17; 11:9; Is.26:21; Matt.10:26-27; 12:36; Lk.2:34-35).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

How have been my dear brother, very well I trust? If you have some time to spare may I ask your thoughts on a matter? I'm aware that when one is looking to put together a library for biblical studies, such a task can be quite large due to the sheer volume of materials available, as it is written, "Of making many books there is no end....." In light of this fact, and if you don't mind, may I ask, might you have any suggestions as to what you personally believe would be the most "beneficial" materials one could own, that would offer the student, or the teacher, the most balanced, scholarly, but yet practical, academic, but also spiritual, profit? Of course I'm fully aware, as I'm sure we would both agree, mankind is fallible, and anything developed by mankind will never, and could never, "supersede", or even be "equal", to God's Word! Suffice it to say, I would like to build a decent library to aid me both in personal study, but also, to better equip me to help others - for the glory of my King, JESUS CHRIST ! Any thoughts are appreciated, as is your friendship.

Blessings to you my brother,

Response #16:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend!

As to your question, I will give you a link to a posting where I discuss commentaries; there are further links at the bottom which lead to discussions of other sorts of materials: Recommended Commentaries on Romans.

In general, I came to find out – after much personal expenditure – that it is much easier to waste money buying books than it is to make a good investment in this area. It would be very easy, if a person had plenty of money to burn, to fill the house top to bottom in commentaries alone, and not for all that expense to be a single step closer to understanding anything about the Bible correctly. This was in my view true even before the internet. Now that we do have access to such a vast collection of resources by merely clicking through a few pages, buying books is even more unnecessary for the most part than before.

Of course, it's much nicer to have an actual book than to be ever staring at the computer screen. But I have found generally that the number of books I really use all the time is a very small number, and these all tend to be Bibles and reference books (rather than commentaries, theologies, and treatments of individual subject areas). If I want to read a book, I get it out of the library. If I need to use a book on a regular basis, that is when I would consider purchasing it. Helpful Bible editions are #1 on my list, concordances #2, linguistic tools #3 (lexicons, grammars), special reference works #4 (atlases, dictionaries, encyclopedias, historical helps), theological works #5 (systematic or subject focused), and commentaries only #6, and here a good set (such as Keil and Delitzsch in the OT, Meyer's in the NT) is usually of far more value than "book specific" commentaries which tend to be not nearly as good or useful (quite counter-intuitively to be sure, but true nonetheless). Devotionals don't even make my list, and these probably make up about half of the covers one would find in a Christian bookstore. I can honestly say that if I "knew now what I knew then" I wouldn't have half the books I do today – and I certainly wouldn't be any worse off.

A good rule of thumb is that if you find yourself going repeatedly to the internet version of a book (which is harder to use online than in the hand), buying it might not be such a bad idea; on the other hand, if the book is something you "want", but you never actually find yourself put out in your studies through it's absence, probably better to let the "want" pass and use your money for something more helpful in the long run.

Best wishes on your continuing preparation for studying independently and teaching the Word of God.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi,

Thanks for your website and the explanation of u vs y for the letter "upsilon". But why, may I ask, don't we write "ypsilon" for the letter, or at least Ypsilon?

Thanks and God bless you, blb.org

Response #17:

You're very welcome.

As with many other things it's entirely a matter of usage. Roger Bacon wrote ypsilo for this letter, but in English as we came to see initial "Y" as consonantal only. And, of course, technically incorrect spellings of Greek loan words abound in English. "Hubris" is much more common than "hybris" (which though technically correct is likely to be thought an error). Vowels come in for greater trouble on this score than consonants because of the greater variability of their pronunciation with regional and dialectical differences. It has always been a source of amusement that the Greek word for boy, pais, is the source for both pedagogue (short 'e') and pediatrics and (long 'e') – spelled and pronounced differently but both wrong (technically speaking).

In Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob Luginbill

Question #18:

Why does Paul's conversion experience differ in Acts 9 and Acts 22 about his companions seeing a light and hearing a voice speak?

Response #18:

Good to hear from you again. I don't find any contradiction between the three accounts of Paul's conversion (there is another one at Acts 26:12-18). Just as, whenever we give someone an account of something important that happened to us in the past, we may give a longer or shorter version depending on the person and circumstances and the purpose of telling the story (without being the least bit untruthful in any of the tellings of it), so also we find this phenomenon in a variety of places in scripture (cf. the different accounts of the same time periods we find in Chronicles and Samuel/Kings; see the link). To the secular world, sometimes it seems that there are "contradictions", but in fact on closer inspection that turns out never to be the case in truth when it comes to the Bible.

As to this instance, it says at Acts 22:9 that the men "saw the light" but did not hear the voice of our Lord. At Acts 9:7, it merely says that they "saw no one". I take this to mean that while they did see the light (and so understood that a miracle had happened), unlike Paul they were not given to see the Lord (as Paul did) or hear His words (as Paul did).

Please do get back to me about any of the above in case I have misunderstood your question.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello again Dr. Luginbill.

I was wondering, why was the textus receptus (TR) the best available amalgamations of scripture at the time that the KJ Bible was being written? Why did they not have access to earlier manuscripts such as the alexandrian text?

Response #19:

Dear Friend,

The Alexandrian texts are not the best (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Ephraemi Rescriptus, along with the papyri, are better), but even most of the Alexandrian mss. had not yet been rediscovered or uncovered at the time the KJV translation was done. Some of the very best witnesses we have (see previous parenthesis) were not found until the mid to late 19th century, and in terms of the papyri we are still discovering things. Moreover, if one has a translation project to be done by committee, it is obviously imperative that the committee use a common text. A manuscript really won't do for that purpose. For one thing, all manuscripts have some "issues". So the committee used the TR, a critical edition of the Greek NT (not a manuscript). The main problems with this so-called textus receptus was the fact that it had a number of errors because of being based 1) on a very small number of rather late and (by comparison to what we now have) inferior manuscripts, and 2) on earlier critical editions, like that of Erasmus, which had made editorial guesses from the Latin version in places where no Greek text was available – which later turned out to be incorrect.

Here are some links on all this:

Inspiration and the KJV

Who wrote the King James version?

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations I

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations II

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations III

King James only?

The Greek Text of the New Testament and some Issues of Textual Criticism

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

When you say some of the best witnesses we have were not found until te mid to late 19th century, does this imply that they went missing or were kept with a certain group or sect? Wouldn't the church pass along what they had to each other and to the following generations?

Response #20:

Hello Friend,

In the 16th/17th century, many of the treasures of the past which had been mostly lost during the dark ages were just beginning to come back to light. The Renaissance began this process of recovery, and the printing press had by this time begun to make many things once lost widely available as single manuscripts were turned into printed volumes and widely distributed. But manuscripts themselves are perishable and very difficult and expensive to copy. Our knowledge of the poems of the Roman poet Catullus, for example, goes back to a single manuscript, and many famous works of antiquity have been entirely lost – though some have now been recovered in part from papyri found in Egypt and other places. As far as the Bible is concerned, the Vaticanus manuscript was "found" languishing in the Vatican library and edited by Tischendorf in the 19th century; that great scholar was also instrumental in finding the queen of our biblical manuscripts, Sinaiticus (aka "Aleph"), which was discovered in the monastery on top of Mt. Sinai; other mss. were found in the monastery complex on Mt. Athos in Greece; others were found in private libraries throughout Europe; Ephraemi Rescriptus is a palimpsest, that is, the ink of a biblical ms. was scrapped off the velum so St. Ephraemus' sermons could be written thereon (velum is expensive), but the much more important biblical text has now been largely recovered by modern technical means; and it wasn't really until the late 19th century that archaeologists began hunting in earnest for papyri in the ancient garbage dumps of Egypt (where the weather is dry enough that this material has been preserved in spite of its great antiquity); we have found there bits of the gospel of John which are less than a 100 years or so older than the time when John wrote it. So it is a mixed story, but the gradual decline of interest in the truth during the middle ages took a good while to recover from. Today, with the internet et al., we are blessed to be able to view and consult all manner of things in a moment that would have taken months or years to get to in the past two centuries – and which were totally unavailable before that time. How ironic that today there is less interest in the actual, biblical truth of scripture than ever before in the history of the Church. That's "Laodicea" for you, and a sure sign of the impending end.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

 

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