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Bible Versions, Bible Translation, and Bible Reading IV

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Question #1:

Hi Bob,

Is it a fair assessment to consider that the angels knew nothing of the prophecies that were written by the inspiration of God to His prophets? And they (the angels) only knew of them (prophecies), when 'it is written' by earthly prophets of God? Both Jesus and Satan made statements that 'for it is written' (past tense)

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Isaiah 46:10 (KJV)

Is this a contradiction of the above -

And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Matthew 4:1-6 (the tempter) (KJV)

Was Satan quoting from the holy men of God who had written by 'inspiration of God' or was Satan stating something he knew from The War in heaven, by experience? None of us were there and to recall this meeting or conversation in the wilderness, it had to be shared with Matthew by Jesus Christ, even if it was a 'vision' given to the prophets? And in a larger sense or metaphorically, is the stone here 'the stones of fire' where Lucifer walked among?

Your thoughts or direction, please.

Response #1:

There are indications that the Bible is eternal and that its perfect text exists in heaven and always will (e.g., Job 19:23-24; Dan.12:4; Rev.2:1; 5:1-9; 10:2; 10:8-10; 22:9). When this was available to the angels is not stated; since these things are, as you point out, "written", it would seem that they were not known – at least in the biblical form – until the time when they were written down by the human prophet under the Spirit's inspiration (2Pet.1:19-21). We are not privy to what God may have told the angels at any time, before, during or after Satan's revolt (your verse: Is.46:10), but it would seem very likely, although surprised by many things (as in the way God judged the devil's rebellion and in the way He provided a solution to it in the reconstruction of the universe and the creation of mankind), that they were not left entirely without information. Still, it is by observing us that angelic kind is said to be learning about the perfection of God (see the link), so I would not be surprised to discover that when it comes to human events and the information in scripture, most of this was "new" to the angels when it came to be written (in terms of the specifics meant for us though not in terms of what they must have observed for themselves about God already from such close contact over so many eons). In regard to the passage you ask about, the devil is clearly quoting written scripture in this case – and deliberately misapplying it (see the link: "Satan's three temptations of Christ" in BB 3A).

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Dear Bob,

It's been quite some time and I'd like to report that I've finished my full read-through of the Old Testament now. I'm pretty sure I've asked this before, but what would you recommend I do now? Read through it another time, or focus on psalms? What do you recommend?

Response #2:

Good for you, and good to hear from you, my friend. Hope all is going well with you.

As to the question on Bible reading, this is a personal thing, but I read the Psalms more often than anything else in the OT, and I read several sections of that Testament at a time, giving rather more emphasis to the prophets and wisdom books. In the NT, I read through the epistles and Gospels-Acts separately, so that the epistles are probably the part of the Bible I read more than anything else, with Psalms close behind. It's all the Word of God, and we are so blessed to have it all!

Yours in Jesus Christ the Lord, the Living Word.

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob,

Ultima cumaei venit iam carminis aetas;
magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo.
Iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
iam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto.

What is Virgil talking about in this poem?

Sincerely,

Response #3:

This and other passages in the Eclogues have occasionally been taken by Classics-loving Christians as Messianic, but for Vergil, his "now" (i.e., his own day now long passed) was the "Millennium", Augustus was his "Messiah", and Rome the equivalent of "New Jerusalem". This theme runs throughout the Aeneid, for example.

Blessedly, we have truth in scripture which is better than even the best poetry of the Western world.

In Jesus, the true Messiah for whom we breathlessly wait,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Thanks for the clarification, because I have a Latin-speaking (you read that correctly) friend who reads Virgil's Eclogues as possibly messianic. While it is definitely possible for people to come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ before the gospels were in circulation, I doubt that Virgil himself had such an experience, and it is definitely dangerous to read Christianity into unbelievers only because these unbelievers produced works that we consider `beautiful.' We cannot forget that there is no such thing as beauty without God, and knowing this fact will protect us from producing works that are pretty on the outside, but are the essence of death. (Matthew 23:27) God will reveal just how virtuous were the works of these 'virtuous pagans' before the Great White Throne, and I will not be surprised if the great works of `beauty' will be revealed as ugly, and we will be left in no doubt of their condemnation. God will not let us think that it is possible for someone to produce beauty apart from the Lord.

In truth, this is the most bitter theological truth for me to swallow, because if I were to take its implications seriously, they would entail that I cannot produce anything of either truth or beauty. We can deduce this as follows: suppose some of us were capable of producing something that is true and beautiful. If we are, in fact, capable of this, then there are two options. The first is that I am a prophet, and my creation of something that is true and beautiful is equal to the Word of God, and therefore deserves to be alongside scripture. This cannot happen. The second is that I am equal or greater than God, because I would have produced something of truth and beauty independently from God. This also cannot happen. Therefore, I cannot produce anything that is either true or beautiful. All of the arts, philosophy, mathematics, science, and engineering feats produced by man cannot be true or beautiful. What profit is there in being a great philosopher if his works are nothing greater than the works of a tent-maker? Any great work is the same as any common work.

Response #4:

You're very welcome. In principle, of course I agree. There is a reason why there is no art or "high culture" to speak of, at least as we define it today, in ancient Israel. Most of the things "we" value as a nation and a culture and in the modern world generally are of no weighty account to the Lord. Christians should indeed recognize this and should know that the mimesis in all art which produces the pleasure as we experience from it is essentially falsity; i.e., a rough post is functional, but if it is rounded and sculpted in the shape of a tree trunk with, say, a vine running down it, it becomes pleasurable to look at – both because it is not real and also because of the skill in its representation of the real which we appreciate. Music manipulates the emotions, as do movies, plays, ballet, opera, fiction of all sorts; one could go on and on. Imagining our modern world without art and cultural affectations is impossible. But I don't think you (or any Christian) should be hard on him/herself about "liking" some of these things (one would have crawl into a hole and pull the dirt in afterwards to avoid all such things entirely). Problems only really arise when either a person does not realize that these things are of little account in God's eyes (and therefore also in terms of a Christian's navigation of the world), or, worse, goes head-over-heels for some cultural category to the point that it can be a distraction to spiritual growth. A car is merely a mechanical device for getting from point A to point B; a person who finds car X "prettier" than car Y is just experiencing the emotional reaction we all have to art; a Christian who appreciates the fact that the reaction is really arbitrary and somewhat silly and of no moment to God (unless we get genuinely enamored of such things) will do well and will not really be hurt by thinking that "Edsels look really nice in my book". However, a Christian who becomes infatuated with Edsels is likely to be wasting a lot of time, money, energy and emotion in the process – or, better put, is distorting his/her emotional responses instead of training his/her inner man to react to what is truly good in a positive way while considering everything that is not really connected to the positive things the Word of God has to say as inconsequential (and even potentially spiritually dangerous).

To say this all in a much simpler way (I hope), it's not a sin to see beauty in man-made things, but it can be dangerous if we don't recognize why we are reacting this way, and very dangerous if we let this trend get out of hand (e.g., we can "like" Bach; we can "appreciate" his skill; but if we begin to think that his music "ennobles humankind" and start giving his music the respect and attention we should be giving to the Bible, we are making a very poor bargain – and we have been deceived).

Here are some links which deal with this issue:

Christianity and Art

Christianity versus contemporary kitsch

What does the Bible say about Humor?

Painting and drawing versus the Bible

TV versus Christianity

Cultural Activities in Satan's world system

Culture and Christianity IX

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Howdy,

Hebrew question here. Translating part of Jerome's commentary on Isaiah. The topic is seraphim and cherubim. The Hebrew word transliterated for cherub is kerubh. Jerome states that in Latin the etymology of cherub is scientiae multitudo, a multitude of knowledge? I am not making the leap here. Does the Hebrew word kerubh have any connection with learning or knowing? The Seraphim are the burning ones; are the Cherubim the knowing ones? Please, do not spend any real time on this. It is just a curiosity question and I cannot find info on the ole internet yet.

Quote from text:

in septuagesimo nono psalmo legimus 'Qui sedes super Cherubim manifestare', qui in nostra lingua interpretantur scientiae multitudo.

What do you think? Again, do not invest big time in this. Just fun to chase rabbits and explore.

Response #5:

I don't think this is meant to be an etymology (if it is, it has no basis in fact), but instead an allegorical interpretation (hence interpretantur), where unseen supernatural spirits are rationalized as elements of God's essence. This is the sort of think that the Greek fathers did all the time (also Philo, particularly in regard to cherubs), and if he is not thinking of something specific from some particular church father, he may have Proverbs chapter eight (esp. vv.22-23) in mind (or something similar). Here's something from Irenaeus:

"Now this God is glorified by His Word who is His Son continually, and by the Holy Spirit who is the Wisdom of the Father of all: and the powers of these, (namely) of the Word and Wisdom, which are called Cherubim and Seraphim, with unceasing voices glorify God; and every created thing that is in the heavens offers glory to God the Father of all. He by His Word has created the whole world, and in the world are the angels;" [emphasis added]
Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching 10

That's my best guess anyway. This certainly demonstrates the dangers of any Christian interested in spiritual growth becoming too enamored of any extra-biblical literature, even when it comes from persons with august reputations. The Bible has to be our rock of truth at all times.

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

About the book of Mormon. I didn't read it. I had forgotten about it. I was cleaning off my desk when I noticed I hadn't got rid of it. I threw it away though. It wasn't a big deal. I did flip through the pages though. I just wanted to know what it said. I also wanted to know if I could spot it as a fake. You know, like comparing it to the Bible. I could tell it was fake, but I can't quite put my finger on why. The language seems different. The style is also different. Also, there's the blatant, horrible racism which is a sure give-away. Can you tell me some more things that show it's fake? Why would someone spend that much time, and spill all that ink penning a lie? You said the Bible is unlike anything man can create, or even want to. Of course, as a Christian I believe that. Could you point out a few examples though? Examples of things that set the Bible apart from other books.

Did people really just burst out into song in biblical times? I'm specifically referencing Mary's song in Luke. Was that not unusual? Also, when Adam first saw Eve he made up a poem. What's up with that?

When we receive our new, glorified bodies, will we able to change? I mean, I know those will be our permanent bodies. Will our hair and nails grow? Will we still eat? What I really want to know, is if we will be stuck this way. Like, will we be able to work out in our new bodies and will it make any difference? Should I be getting into perfect shape before I'm translated? Or will I have the chance to after I'm in my new body? Maybe we'll all look the same? Somehow, I doubt it. I told you I had some really trivial questions.

Also, could you tell me if you think I should get rid of my ___ or not? I just want to know your opinion.

Thanks,

Response #6:

I don't think I can reduce the differences between the Word and everything else to a specific litmus test; the fact that you were easily able to tell the difference with very little time and effort proves the point though. Why do people produce such things? Well, this is the devil's world and he empowers many people in many ways to do his bidding – and nothing is more important to him than attempting to distract from the truth of the Word. Also, from a purely secular point of view, J. Smith wrote a bad novel and become the head of a mass movement of suppliants willing to do anything he told them to do – not a bad investment of time and effort for anyone wanting to form and lead their own cult.

The songs and situations you mention are unique and Spirit inspired, memorializing very important events: the imminent birth of the Messiah; the creation of the first woman. There are only a few examples of this in scripture (Hannah's song also comes to mind).

As to our eternal future, it will be wonderful and good in every way. We know we will still be able to eat because Jesus ate after being resurrected and there will also be fruit on the tree of life in New Jerusalem bearing twelve crops a year (e.g.). We don't know everything about what is to come, and there are good reasons for that. If we knew so much that we were almost experiencing the wonders of salvation (and the terrors of hell), then it would have the effect of taking our free will out of the equation – because no one would then pass up eternal life and no one would then be willing to be condemned, if they viscerally understood the consequences ahead of time. As it is, the incomparable blessings of the one and the unimaginable terrors of the other are largely hidden from us so that we can still make our own free will choice without undue pressure (with the result that we end up where we really wanted to be, that is with God or without God). What can be known about this things you will found written up at the link "The Blessed Eternal State of the Saved".

As to your last question, I can't tell you what to do. If a person has a near terminal heart condition so bad that any additional weight gain may mean the end, then stocking the cupboard with potato chips is probably a bad idea if said person cannot keep away from them; if, however, the person can refrain from eating too many and has no such heart condition, having a few bags of potato chips around is possibly not so bad (e.g.).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Did you happen to read this article? Your opinion?

For His Honor and Glory,

4 teachings from Jesus that everybody gets wrong - Opinion by Amy-Jill Levine, special to CNN

(CNN) – It was once said, "religion is designed to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable." Jesus’ parables – short stories with moral lessons – were likewise designed to afflict, to draw us in but leave us uncomfortable. These teachings can be read as being about divine love and salvation, sure. But, their first listeners – first century Jews in Galilee and Judea – heard much more challenging messages. Only when we hear the parables as Jesus’ own audience did can we fully experience their power and find ourselves surprised and challenged today. Here are four examples of Jesus’ teachings that everybody gets wrong:

1. The 'Parable of the Prodigal Son'

This parable is usually seen as a story of how our "Father in heaven" loves us regardless of how despicable our actions. This is a lovely message, and I would not want to dismiss it. It is not, however, what first-century Jews would have heard. Jesus’ Jewish audience already knew that their "Father in heaven" was loving, forgiving, and compassionate. It is Luke who sets up a message of repenting and forgiving. Luke prefaces our parable with two shorter ones: the Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. The evangelist concludes them with, "There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." But is this really what the parables are about? Jesus was not talking about ovine sin or coinage cupidity; sheep don’t feel guilty and coins don’t repent. Moreover, the man loses the sheep; the woman loses her coin. But God does not "lose us." The first two parables are not about repenting and forgiving. They are about counting: The shepherd noticed one sheep missing out of 100, and the woman noticed one coin missing from 10. And they searched, found, rejoiced, and celebrated. In doing so, they set up the third parable. The Prodigal Son story begins: "There was a man who had two sons … " If we focus on the one prodigal son, we mishear the opening. Every biblically literate Jew would know that if there are two sons, go with the younger: Abel over Cain, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Ephraim over Manasseh. But parables never go the way we want. We cannot identify with junior, who "squandered all he had in dissolute living." Next, if we see the father as surprising when he welcomes junior home, we mishear again. Dad is simply delighted that junior has returned: He rejoices and throws a party. If we stop here, we’ve failed to count. The older brother – remember him? – hears music and dancing. Dad had enough time to hire the band and the caterer, but he never searched for his older son. He had two sons, and he didn’t count. Our parable is less about forgiving and more about counting, and making sure everyone counts. Whom have we lost? If we don’t count, it may be too late.

2. The 'Parable of the Good Samaritan'

Our usual understanding of this famous story goes astray in several ways. Here are two. First, readers presume that a priest and Levite bypass the wounded man because they are attempting to avoid becoming "unclean." Nonsense. All this interpretation does is make Jewish Law look bad. The priest is not going up to Jerusalem where purity would be a concern – he is "going down" to Jericho. No law prevents Levites from touching corpses, and there are numerous other reasons why ritual purity is not relevant here. Jesus mentions priest and Levite because they set up a third category: Israelite. To mention the first two is to invoke the third. If I say, "Larry, Moe …" you will say "Curly." However, to go from priest to Levite to Samaritan is like going from Larry to Moe to Osama bin Laden. That analogy leads us to the second misreading. The parable is often seen as a story of how the oppressed minority – immigrants, gay people, people on parole – are "nice" and therefore we should check our prejudices. Samaritans, then, were not the oppressed minority: They were the enemy. We know this not only from the historian Josephus, but also from Luke the evangelist. Just one chapter before our parable, Jesus seeks lodging in a Samaritan village, but they refuse him hospitality. Moreover, Samaria had another name: Shechem. At Shechem, Jacob’s daughter Dinah is raped or seduced by the local prince. At Shechem, the murderous judge Abimelech is based. We are the person in the ditch, and we see the Samaritan. Our first thought: "He’s going to rape me. He’s going to murder me." Then we realize: Our enemy may be the very person who will save us. Indeed, if we simply ask "where is Samaria today?" we can see the import of this parable for the Israeli/Palestinian crisis.

3. The 'Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard'

This parable tells the story of a series of workers who come in at different points of the day, but the owner pays them all the same amount. The parable is sometimes read with an anti-Jewish lens, so that the first-hired are the "Jews" who resent the gentiles or the sinners entering into God’s vineyard. Nonsense again. Jesus’ first listeners heard not a parable about salvation in the afterlife but about economics in present. They heard a lesson about how the employed must speak on behalf of those who lack a daily wage. They also discovered a prompt for people with resources: Attend to those who do not have jobs, and make sure everyone has what is needed. Jesus does not invent this idea of advocating for the unemployed and sharing resources. The same concerns occur in Jewish tradition from King David onward. But, unless we know the biblical and historical sources, again we will mishear the parable.

4. The 'Parable of the Pearl of Great Price'

This parable describes a man who sells everything in order to obtain his prized pearl. It is usually allegorized to tell us about the centrality of faith, or the church, or Jesus, or the Kingdom of Heaven. But commentators cannot conclude what the pearl represents. Perhaps they are looking in the wrong place. We don’t recognize the parable’s initial absurdity today – the merchant (a wholesaler who sells us what we don’t need at a price we cannot afford) sells everything he has for a pearl. He can’t eat it, or sit on it; it will not cover much if it’s all he wears. But, he thinks this pearl will fulfill him. What if the parable challenges us to determine our own pearl of great price? If we know our ultimate concern, we should be less acquisitive. We won’t sweat the small stuff. More, we become better able to love our neighbors, because we will know what is most important to them. Jesus’ short stories provoke us because they tell us what, somehow, we already know to be true, but don’t want to acknowledge. I am not a Christian, but I hear profound messages in these parables. If I as an outsider can be so moved by Jesus’ stories, surely people who worship him as Lord and Savior can appreciate them even more. Amy-Jill Levine is the author of "Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi," and a professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences. The views expressed in this column belong to Levine.

Response #7:

No, I hadn't seen this. What I will say is that for over a century there have been two commonplace attacks on scripture launched by theological (as opposed to political) liberalism, both of which we find in this piece:

1) The (false) notion that somehow there is an entirely new perspective to be gained on the New Testament from exploring the Judaism of Jesus' day. Naturally, knowing all that we can about all of the historical background of the Bible is a decidedly good thing; however, when objectively done this will provide some insight but will rarely result in the word "black" meaning "white" and the word "good" meaning "bad". In other words, when adapted and adopted by those who have no genuine respect for the Word of God, this "sounds good" approach inevitably introduces things that are either not true or very questionable or occasionally even entirely made up out of speculation, then takes some small point of dubious value and uses it to overturn the obvious sense of scripture.

2) The (false) notion that there is any daylight between what Jesus said and what the writers of the gospels wrote. Once this false principle is accepted then anything can be "proven" – because there is no evidence for any such thing, so that the person theorizing can put forward any hypothesis he/she wishes as if it were true. According to this false canon, whatever Matthew, Mark, Luke or John wrote, "that is not really what Jesus meant"; and "what Jesus really meant is whatever I will tell you now, even if it is nowhere to be seen in the actual scripture".

The Bible is the Bible. The parables of the New Testament are not "enigmatic" – except to unbelievers who do not believe the truth of scripture in any case. Are there some things which need to be interpreted? Of course. That is why there are teachers in the Body. The sad thing is that so few are living up to the challenge of actually teaching the Word today. Perhaps if more were, these sorts of false approaches would not gain so much purchase.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L. 

Question #8:

Thank you Dr. Luginbill, for taking the time to respond. What impresses me as much as your erudition and skills as a teacher is your accountability and faithfulness to God's Word. It is the hallmark of your writing and what distinguishes you from other purveyors of Biblical truth. You are a true guardian of our Lord's Word. You communicate your respect for His truth with great responsibility and care. This is clearly evident in everything that you write, particularly your response below. You do not stoop to the level of the inflammatory "what everybody gets wrong" rhetoric of a CNN 'Belief Blog' pundit (who is not a follower of Christ.) Those of us here in Nashville know that this has been Ms. Levine's M.O. for years over at Vanderbilt. One who is not filled with the Holy Spirit is not qualified to communicate the meaning of His parables. You are not interested in self-aggrandizement. You are devoted to teaching the Bible as the Bible. I thank you for this. And I thank our Lord for all that you do for His sake.

Response #8:

Pretty sure I'm not worthy of them, but thanks anyway for your encouraging words!

Question #9: 

Dear sir / madam,

Good evening,

I am Peter from India. I need one help - that is I want the same word of QUALITY in Hebrew.

With regards

Response #9: 

Biblical Hebrew is not a particularly conceptual language. If it wishes to say that something is of high quality, it will use a word like "good" (טוֹב) or "precious" (יָקָר) or "entire" (כָל) or "the best (lit., "head") and apply it to something else. There is a modern Hebrew word for the concept (איכות), but the word does not occur in the Old Testament.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #10:

Hello Dr Luginbill.

Are you familiar with the work of Chuck Missler and his Koinonia House website?

I could use your help and insight with the extended version of Mark. I found the following on his site in regards to the longer ended of Mark:

The Last 12 Verses of Mark

Among the disputed passages are the final verses of the Gospel of Mark (16:9-20). (Look in your own Bible: you are likely to find an annotation that these were "added later.") The insistence that Mark's Gospel ends at 16:8 leaves the women afraid and fails to record the resurrection, Christ's final instructions, and the Ascension. It is understandable why these verses are an embarrassment to the Gnostics, and why Westcott and Hort would advocate their exclusion, and insist that they were "added later." However, it seems that Irenaeus in 150 A.D., and also Hypolytus in the 2 nd century, each quote from these disputed verses, so the documentary evidence is that they were deleted later in the Alexandrian texts, not added subsequently.) But there is even more astonishing evidence for their original inclusion that is also profoundly instructive for broader reasons."

https://www.khouse.org/articles/2000/201/print/

Response #10:

Dear Friend,

Good to hear from you. I have heard of him. I can't endorse his teachings. In addition to being of the Charismatic persuasion, he is into "sensationalist eschatology". Given that we are on the cusp of the end times, promulgating false and misleading information for the sake of book sales and notoriety is a big problem, since it may contribute to the unpreparedness of many Christians who will enter the Tribulation to their horror and surprise.

Mark chapter sixteen ends with verse eight. Period. Those of the Charismatic bent and others into sensationalism want to include the long interpolation (there are multiple versions of various longer endings which demonstrate by that fact alone that the book actually did end where it end).

Here is a link to a very involved set of exchanges on this issue (this includes information about early quotations):

Gospel Questions VI: the Long Ending of Mark et al.

On the text you include, it is a bit presumptuous to think that "I" know how a book should end, and that therefore "I" have a right to put in an ending I like – in fact that is the origin of these interpolations (!), namely, scribes deciding that there should be more and putting in "what seemed right" to them. However, that is adding to the Bible. The argument about Gnostics makes no sense, since there is no reason why Gnostics should object to the ending of Mark more than they would to anything else in the book; it's an argument meant only to paint those who want to stick with the actual scripture as "modern day Gnostics" (i.e., an ad hominem attack designed to discredit the opposition where argumentation fails).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hello Again Dr Luginbill,

I pray all is well. Just wondering, in a Bible sense, what is the difference between Wisdom and Knowledge and also in a spiritual way?

Thanks as always

Response #11:

Hello Friend,

Knowledge, or gnosis, is first to be distinguished from epignosis, or "full knowledge", the latter being the truth actually believed (see the link, and please note that many versions do not always distinguish between these critically different words). In general terms, biblical knowledge is truth in the heart understood and believed in principle; whereas wisdom is the ability to apply abstract knowledge correctly to life situations; so the former is the basis for all spiritual growth, while the latter is an indication of growth and progress in the Christian walk:

Solid [spiritual] food is for the [spiritually] mature, those who by [diligent] practice have trained their [moral] perceptive faculties to [properly] distinguish between good and evil.
Hebrews 5:14

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Dr. Bob,

Good evening. I hope you are doing well. I was wondering if you can direct me to some resources on Polycarp and other 1st century Church fathers. I don't know what other terms to use except "Father". I know it is a Catholic terminology but I really want to read more about the 1st century struggles and writings from students of the apostles who walked with Christ.

Thank you very much and God bless.

Response #12:

These first century and early second writings are collectively called "The Apostolic Fathers", and there are any number of good collections of them. The classic English version is J.B. Lightfoot's The Apostolic Fathers (1889/90 - but reprinted many times and available on line; here's a link to volume I: Lightfoot). The most recent version, updated and including the Greek original with an English translation, is J.R. Harmer's 1984 edition (Baker Books).

I do have to say, however, that while reading these materials makes sense for serious students of Church history, there is very little doctrinal or even spiritual value in any of these texts (they are in no way comparable to the Word of God). In fact, those things which are of theological interest generally demonstrate how even in this early period things were already sliding away from the Bible – and by the time the so-called church fathers come on the scene much of the doctrinal truth behind the scriptures has been lost in their discourse, misconstrued, or replaced with false ideas (a process that continued apace until at least the Reformation). Polycarp is the best in this respect (also the earliest), but he clearly did not have John's understanding of scripture, even though he was obviously a great believer. So I don't expect that you will find much here to nourish your spirit. Revelation predicted this in speaking about this first era of the Church:

(1) To the angel of the church in Ephesus, write: "This is what the One who has the mastery over the seven stars in His right hand says, the One who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. (2) I know your works and your toil and your perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil people. And you have put to the test those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them out to be false. (3) And you possess perseverance, and you have endured every sort of tribulation because of My Name, and you have not faltered. (4) But I have against you [the fact] that you have abandoned [that] love you had at first (i.e., love for the Word of God). (5) So remember where you have fallen from, and repent, and do the works you did at first. And if you do not, I am going to come to you and move your lampstand out of its place, if you do not repent.
Revelation 2:1-5

Here's the link at Ichthys where this passage and era are treated: Ephesus.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Greetings

Happy to have found your web-site.

Whatever you heard me teach before an audience of witnesses, I want you to pass along to trustworthy people who have the ability to teach others too.
2 Timothy 2:2

Do you believe Timothy found "trustworthy men"? Do you believe the people who preserved the apostolic writings before they were 'canonized' and severely persecuted for the first 300 years of the church were 'true' and 'trustworthy'? Have you ever read Clement of Rome or the Ante-Nicene Fathers ? Can you imagine what it would have been like to be taught personally about Jesus by the apostle Paul or Peter? Clement of Rome was a first century convert who had that wonderful privilege. If you look in your New Testament at Philippians 4:3 you will see a Clement referred to whom very well could be the same Clement we are looking at in this issue. After Paul and Peter were martyred at Rome, Clement become a leader, in fact, bishop, of the church there. It is often said that history is our best teacher. In this time of confusion in regard to scriptural interpretation; Would it not be wise to study how the earliest of Christians understood the Apostles teachings? I believe these writings will add further support to your position.

Thanks for the consideration

Response #13:

Good to make your acquaintance. I do understand that there are many folks out there who wish to assign a good deal of authority to post-canonical literature (of a variety of sorts). You make a very reasonable argument, on the face of it. I certainly don't want to "rain on your parade" if you are a fan of the Apostolic and Church Fathers, but I will leave you with a few points here to explain my own position.

1) The Bible is inspired; everything that came later is not inspired. So the Bible has authority, but the writings which follow it do not.

2) Therefore, if the writings which follow are going to be useful to us in spite of their lack of authority, it would have to be for two reasons (which are really opposite sides of the same coin): a) they will be explaining things to us in the Bible which b) we otherwise could not understand.

3) To take these in reverse order, the Bible is entirely understandable without these early writings (for those with the teaching gift, a deep knowledge of the original languages, training in theology, and a willingness to do all the hard work necessary to gaining that understanding).

4) As to the writings themselves, they are a) very theologically confused, and b) not particularly helpful in figuring out any of the principles or truths or even background information of the scriptures. The best that can be said about any of them is that they are not always entirely wrong or misleading (Polycarp, for example). But they are not particularly helpful, not even from a linguistic point of view. If you personally find them inspiring, that is fine. There has been plenty of inspirational literature produced in the past two thousand or so years. Problems arise when such inspiration is built upon an incorrect understanding of a verse or a doctrine, or when Christians begin to substitute such material for the truth contained in scripture.

5) So reading these fathers is fine, but paying attention to what they say in terms of the Bible is problematic because – even if they are properly understood (and there is much within these writings which is very much "open to interpretation") – a person who does so (especially non-scholars) will be at least tempted to give these opinions a hearing even when they are off on doctrine or interpretation. That is a problem even if they are only a little off (and they are often way off). Just as I would hope that someone reading a book by any famous Christian teacher today would understand the difference between said teacher's words and scripture, so it is with the fathers . . . at least. In both cases discernment is needed to discover how close the individual in question is in his teaching to what the Bible itself actually teaches.

6) In fact, the situation is potentially even worse in my opinion as far as the fathers are concerned, since when the apostles left the scene, the drop-off in the understanding of the deep things of scripture by the next generation was dramatic and precipitous. This was foretold in the Book of Revelation, where our Lord says this about the Church era which followed the apostles:

"(4) But I have against you [the fact] that you have abandoned [that] love you had at first (i.e., for the truth of the Word). (5) So remember where you have fallen from, and repent, and do the works you did at first. And if you do not, I am going to come to you and move your lampstand out of its place, if you do not repent."
Revelation 2:4-5

There was no repentance and the era of Ephesus came to a close shortly after its inception (see the link). It is not too much to say that the (positive) history of the Church since has been one of recovering the truth lost almost from the inception. Doing so requires careful attention to scripture as of primary importance against all tradition and previously expressed opinion.

7) There is nothing wrong with tradition nor in venerating teachers and scholars of the past. But there is a difference between respecting lives well-spent in the service of our Lord and ascribing to the words and the teaching of such individuals a sort of functional infallibility. If what they say is right, fine. If not, we had better not think them right just because of who they were. That sort of thinking is what got us the Roman Catholic church, after all, and, collectively speaking, we have still not entirely recovered from it.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate.

Bob Luginbill

Question #14:

How did early church fathers interpret John 7:34?

Response #14:

As to the church fathers, that is not my area of expertise. As Abelard proved (in his book Sic et Non), one can find a "father" on just about every side of every controversy, so that there is no such thing as "the fathers (collectively) say X or Y" (since they say X, Y, and even Z etc.). Furthermore, having read my share, I've seldom found anything there of any particular help in understanding the Word. The scripture is the Word of God. Interpretations which are uninspired are not and are either right or wrong, and even if right (on some level), either helpful or unhelpful in leading to spiritual growth. In my opinion, far too much credence has been given to the older interpreters just because of their age. Anyone who has read the so called Apostolic Fathers will realize that the understanding of the depths of scripture dropped off precipitously immediately after the passing of the apostles. Polycarp was plainly a good man, a committed believer, but his letters, while replete with scriptural quotations, aren't at all helpful in understanding scripture. Ignatius clearly didn't have a clue, but he knew how to sound "spiritual" – a taste of things to come in our own Laodicean day. This abandonment of true laboring in the scriptures (cf. 1Tim.5:17) is what our Lord refers to when He characterizes the first era of the church as "leaving their first love", namely, the love of the Word of God (see the link).

Question #15:

Hey Bob,

Can you shed some light on this for me?

1) We will plant vineyards and build houses and is this literal (Isaiah 65:17-25) or are we the mansions (in my Father's house), a house built of God? the change in 'the twinkling of an eye"

2) Is the Same-Self spirit the power of God that created everything in Christ, including Lucifer become Satan; a time and a season for everything

In other words, is the spirit of (life/power/consciousness/existence) all just gifts of the Holy Spirit of God, the Father? And Isaiah 45:7 is just the framework for good vs evil to be played out for the creation to know that God is who he says He IS?

Response #15:

Even though Isaiah 65:17 mentions the "new heavens and the new earth", the verses that follow are talking about the Millennium. This phenomenon, known as "prophetic foreshortening" (see the link), is a common one in Old Testament prophecy. In a nutshell, there are many times when the prophet looking forward conflates several things which we now know are separated by a good deal of time. The most common such foreshortening is the conflation of the first and second advents – which explains a lot about why the Jews of our Lord's day were expecting a conquering Messiah:

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
1st Peter 1:10-12 KJV

As to Isaiah 45:7, I take this to be the Lord – which means the Son representing the Father (in many Old Testament contexts). The Son is the Agent of creation; the Spirit is the Empowerer; the Father is the Architect – but the Trinity are "One" in a way we cannot really fathom, so that their purpose has never been a single millimeter out of sync, One with the Other.

Please see the link: The Trinity in the Old Testament

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Dr. I pray this email finds you well. Always looking forward to your responses to help me in my walk with Christ.

I have two questions for you?

1. Can you expound on what Jesus meant in Matt 16:4 " a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah"

2. Can you direct me to more resources on Genesis 10 about the genealogy of Noah 3 sons and what modern geography they constitute currently?

Thank you and may God continue to richly bless your ministry.

Response #16:

Always good to hear from you. As to your questions:

1) The sign of Jonah is the analogy between his time in the belly of the great fish and the time our Lord's body was in the grave: just as Jonah came forth from what seemed like certain death, so our Lord came forth from the grave in living, bodily resurrection – and there is no greater sign that He is the Messiah:

. . . and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
Romans 1:4 ESV

2) As to Genesis 10, I have discussed the table of the seventy nations from time to time, but it is not a critical point to try to disentangle that table today. In fact it is impossible. The nations have become too intermingled in the course of the roughly four and a half millennia or so since the flood to make that anything like a profitable exercise. The best link for a biblical appreciation would be to Keil's commentary (see the link). But there is also this:

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.
1st Timothy 1:3-4

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions.
1st Timothy 6:3-4

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.
Titus 3:9

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

My understanding is that Mark was the first gospel written from multiple other sources. And that Matthew and Luke used Mark as source material for their gospels. Can you shed the reason you list them the way you do in your "Chronology" posting?

Blessings,

Response #17:

Good to make your acquaintance. The "priority of Mark" thesis was very popular during the secularization of biblical studies in the 19th century, and continued to hold sway in all theologically liberal institutions during most of the the 20th century. In the last fifty years or so, however, it has been effectively challenged by many theologically conservative works and individuals. To put the matter in a nutshell, there is absolutely no hard evidence to suggest that Mark wrote first: 1) not only are there no references to this in literature, but there is also no textual evidence from manuscripts or papyri or other ancient witnesses; and despite the fact that we have more fragments of mss., papyri and ostraca of the gospel than any other genre of ancient literature, not a single fragment exists either of any transitional form or of "Q", the other posited source; 2) of the ancient sources which comment on these matters, no one puts Mark first (rather, all put Matthew first, notably Eusebius); and 3) the coming to light in recent years of many early fragments of the other gospels (notably, some from the gospel of John – which everyone accepts as written later than the three synoptics – dating to as early as the first century: the Bodmer papyri in particular) makes the entire idea of a gradual development of the gospels over what must (in that hypothetical case) have been at least some centuries absolutely impossible.

This is not to say that New Testament departments throughout Christendom are not still spending much of their efforts on various sorts of "source" and "form criticism", but it is easy to see from a very curt assessment of the actual facts that they are merely playing an intellectual game, one which, since it purveys obvious falsehoods, can have no edifying value for Bible-believing Christians. In my opinion, scholars who have indulged in these matters - - from the beginning until now – would have done themselves and all other interested parties a great service if they had adopted the same canons of textual and source criticism pioneered by Classicists and ancient historians. Suffice it to say that there is much more rigor in the latter, and no fully formed theory (such as assuming a "Q" source for the gospels and/or the priority of Mark) would have gone so virtually unchallenged for so long had they done so.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #18:

Hi Bob,

If someone were to ever ask me, "why do you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God?", I would give them the following dialogue as an example of a simple pericope that no man would be capable of writing:

JESUS: Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.

PILATE: What is truth?

Only God would have been able to summarize all lies and Satanic opposition with a mere three words.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "What is truth?" (Genesis 3:1)

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" Able said, "What is truth?" (Genesis 4:9)

All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, "What is truth?" (Numbers 14:2)

When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God—everything the Lord had sent him to tell them—Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, "What is truth? (Jeremiah 43:1-2)

A slightly longer expansion of the meaning behind "What is truth?"

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.
(Romans 1:20-21)

Response #18:

Very nice, my friend!  I'll get around to posting this one day.

Question #19: 

I just used this on an agnostic theist (believed in God, but wasn't sure). He was speechless, and I presented him the gospel. I prayed for his salvation.

Response #19: 

Good for you!

Question #20:

Dear Dr Robert Luginbill,

I believe Luke/Lucius was a Jew. See here:

http://paulandco-workers.blogspot.ca/2011/04/new-evidence-that-luciusluke-wrote-acts.html

And that Paul needed to present himself as a pious Jew after his arrest. See here:

http://paulandco-workers.blogspot.ca/2009/12/acts-2417-collection-and-ananias.html

I was therefore wondering whether Col 4:11 could mean that Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus were Jews of a strict background and had advocated for Paul in his legal defence. Aristarchus was in Jerusalem at the time of Paul's arrest, and Mark probably was too. Jesus-Justus has a Palestinian Jewish name so may well have been in Jerusalem as well. Therefore these men may have been able to provide testimony in defence of the charge that Paul had taken a Gentile into the temple. If they were indeed Jews of the pious variety, their testimony would have carried more weight than that of Gentiles or of lax Jews. I was not able to find much in the Lexicons on PARHGORIA, so I did a google search and found one of your web pages where you write,

"Luke too was Jewish, though often deemed a gentile on the basis of Colossians 4:11 through a misunderstanding of the Greek word paregoria (used only here in the NT), which has its usual rhetorical force and refers to the help rendered to Paul in his legal case by the aforementioned Jewish Christians: "These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of heaven who are of the circumcision who spoke on my behalf (i.e., uttered helpful words in Paul's defense to the Roman authorities, not words of comfort to Paul)".

My question is whether you have written about this or related matters in more detail elsewhere. Also, do you know of any word studies on PARHGORIA? Have others offered any objections to your proposal?

Yours sincerely,

Response #20:

Good to make your acquaintance.

Thank you for your email. Your hypothesis is interesting and, in my view, plausible.

I haven't had any comments on this interpretation, nor do I have any ideas for you on further word study (aside from doing a total TLG dump and going through all instances of the word and related morphemes – n.b., most of these will be later and derivative of the passage in ecclesiastical writings so as to be of no particular use). I do have an additional short paragraph on the issue which I'm pasting in here:

Paul's vocabulary here, that is, his use of the word paregoria (παρηγορια) is technical. That is how we have to understand what he means in his reference to "those of the circumcision". Luke was Jewish too, but he had no standing in the Roman court (he perhaps was not even a Roman citizen); Paul's point is that very few who were Jewish and able to do so (citizens) came to his legal defense. So the point is that paregoria is not "comfort" of a generic type but specifically being a "character witness", we might say today, in a legal proceeding.

And another point to consider:  at Acts 21:29 Luke himself tells us that the Jews from Asia who accused Paul of bringing gentiles into the temple did so because "they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple" (NIV).  Now if Luke himself were not Jewish (and he was accompanying Paul at this time), it seems that these opponents of Paul should have had a problem with him as well (so the omission of his own name here is very significant in this regard: they no problem with Luke because he was Jewish).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #21:

Hi Bob,

The unicorn as mentioned in the bible was either a rhino or a type of bull?

Also when were camels used like horses? Some evolutionist claims this happened much later than the Bible says.

Blessings and thanks,

Response #21:

There aren't any unicorns in the Bible. The KJV version (uniquely) translates the Hebrew word re'em as "unicorn", but most other versions, lexicographers, and assorted scholars thereafter are agreed that this word means "wild ox". The translators of the KJV did not know what this word meant, so they followed the Latin Vulgate (which had in turn followed the Greek Septuagint version) in translating the word "unicorn". Undoubtedly, the LXX translators in ca. the 4-3 cent. B.C. didn't know that this Hebrew word meant (1,000 plus years after the fact) and so made their best guess. I would also add that a mono-horn could be a rhinoceros just as well as a mythical creature which never existed, just as you suspect. We don't know why the LXX got it wrong, but it's certainly not the only thing they got wrong in translating the Hebrew Bible into Greek.

As to domestication of camels so as to be used for transport, I have not heard this quibble before. If I am not mistaken, wherever camels are mentioned in ancient literature it is associated with just such use. The Bible covers a lot of chronological ground (from creation to the mid-1st century A.D.), so one would also like to know precisely what time period the critics are referring to. Additionally, how in the world would anyone be able to say whether or not domestication had already taken place without a written record? Those people were not there and they don't have video tape. This is not something that can be "figured out" after the fact through mere speculation.

Whatever the Bible says is true. Blessed we believers know and embrace that truth, even when the world chooses to be skeptical.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Shalom Dr. Luginbill,

I hope all is well with you my brother, and that you prosper spirit, soul, and body, to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! If you have some time to spare, may I ask a couple of questions related to the Revised Standard Version, and the New Revised Standard Version? I apologize for the lengthiness; I just didn't want my questions to e confusing.

Over the course of my studies I've read mixed reviews on both of these translations. Some scholars praise the older RSV & RSV-CE, they speak of it be a very good, "all around" version, yet other scholars speak of it be very liberal, complaining that it distorts Scripture. Likewise I've read many good things about the NRSV & NRSV-CE, and have read in this translation quite a bit. I will admit that I don’t always agree with the NRSV's "gender-neutral" language choices, however, I have generally found both the RSV and NRSV to be quite faithful translations, though not always "traditional" in their translation choices, e.g. Genesis 1:2, Psalm 8, Isaiah 7:14, etc. However, in recent years, I've come to believe that though Christians should of course interpret the OT in light of Christ Jesus, nonetheless, we shouldn’t change the OT text, for that sometimes disturbs other "real" meanings for passages, again, Isaiah 7:14 is a good example – while it certainly speaks of Christ’s virgin birth, it also had a real application for its time. This also appears to be the case with Paul’s use of Isaiah 60:1, in Ephesians 5:14. Suffice to say, may I ask your thoughts of my analysis of the two versions, and my view on the use of the OT?

Grace and Peace through JESUS’ our Mighty God!

Response #22:

I think your analysis is quite penetrating. Although that was the Bible of my youth, I am not much of a user of the RSV these days (much less the NRSV). When it comes to mainstream versions such as these, the beauty (or lack thereof) is often in the eye of the beholder. Most English Bibles go back not only to the KJV but also its precursors (Tyndale et al., from which the KJV borrowed heavily) and also to the phraseology of the Latin Vulgate. It is true that there is a "meta-Bible" in English, so to speak, and that can be seen for instance when believers get together and talk about verses and passages in "rough translation", each from different versions, and yet this presents no large problems of mutual understanding.

In my experience, while it is possible to draw sweeping generalizations about the various versions (and I have done this myself many times), that is a valuable exercise only insofar as it gives English readers some guidance about choosing and using them. For interpretation, teaching and spiritual growth, what is really important is the actual translation of passages X, Y and Z. On that score, just as most versions are "OK" on most passages (i.e., they render most verses in the Bible in a way that does not mislead and does convey the essential meaning most of the time), there is no version without spot or blemish in this regard. That is particularly true for many key passages upon which important interpretations often hang. So whatever version a person uses, and no matter how many versions a person consults, it all comes down to a good knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew originals – at least where in-depth teaching is concerned.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Dear Bob,

Another question prompted by the email collection a couple of weeks ago. If you are familiar with the Companion Bible (authorized 1611 KJV,) what do you think of Bullinger's notes? His notes are, I believe, the only thing that distinguishes this KJV bible from others.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #23:

I've never seen it before. I do have a copy of Bullinger's "Figures of Speech" around here somewhere. He certainly knew his Classics – but he over does the "figures" (which are really more to be found in Classical poetry). I did find this Bible scanned online and looked at a few passages. It seems pretty erudite, but I did notice that he defends, for example, the interpolation of the woman caught in adultery in John chapter eight (so one would have to question his judgment on any important matters a priori). It seems more of a linguistic help than a doctrinal one. Do you use it regularly?

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Dear Bob,

I used it frequently but almost entirely for the linguistic help and some of the appendices. Right now, I'm making a complete pass of the NIV per your recommendation. I'm still not comfortable with it and I find I go back to the KJV to clarify some mystifying passages. The KJV Bible I'm using more frequently than the Companion Bible is one with no notes that I was given years ago. Your help has been more useful than Bullinger's notes.

I have run into a curious discrepancy, though. In the authorized version of 1611 of the KJV, Judges 11:6 used the word hough for cutting a horse's pasterns where the Bible Gateway web site uses hamstring. Is that also done in printed AKJV Bibles? It may be a nit pick since technically it means almost the same, but to change it is like changing Macbeth's line to, "Out, out bad spots..."

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #24:

Not being a live-or-die KJV defender (by any means), I'm not an expert on this, but there have been several modern revisions of the 1611 version (replacing obsolete words like "bakemeats", and changing obsolete spellings: "musick" to "music"); there were also a number of changes for a variety of reason which occurred within the first few decades of the original printing. Additionally, if you have a reference Bible there may be updates to the language such as you mention; the Scofield version (and there are a number of variations of this was well), for example, makes changes but puts the original in the margin with a note.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Greetings Dr. Luginbill,

I trust you are doing well my friend? If you have some time may I ask a couple of questions related to Bible study? Over the course of my research I have read/heard mixed views and opinions concerning "Interlinear Bible's", and their benefit for the Bible student. Some see them as a profitable tool, to aid the Bible student in better understanding key biblical words, and to help them get a better idea of what a particular text literally says. Yet, others say that the Interlinear Bible is not beneficial, as the Bible has the potential to use the Interlinear's English translation as the sole authority, and ultimately misuse the tool. However, I must say that I don't completely agree with the last statement, simply because, any tool, whether and interlinear Bible, or lexicon, or Bible dictionary, has the potential to be misused by someone who is not trying to use the tool correctly, but rather trying to get their preferred answer, or support a preconceived idea. Yet, for those who's desire is to learn more about a certain biblical subject, or certain biblical words, or statements, It seems logical to think that tools such as Bible Dictionaries, or, Interlinear Bible's, would prove to be beneficial. In all honesty, if these tools were not beneficial, then why are scholars producing them, and then touting them as tools to better aid the student of Scripture? Please know that I write that last statement with respect. My last question, which is related to the first, is this: which Interlinear Bible's you would personally recommend, if in fact you would recommend one? I know there are several available, with different underlying texts, both for the Heb. OT and Grk. NT. Any thoughts are appreciated, thanks in advance.

Your brother in Christ Jesus, our Lord and God.

Response #25:

Good to hear from you. I certainly agree with you in principle that tools are neutral, neither good nor bad. People make both good and bad use of tools. So the fact that someone uses an interlinear translation is not bad per se, either the tool or the person or the use of the tool by the person. It's also not necessarily good. Why use an interlinear? That is the question. If the purpose is to get some idea of what is in the Greek/Hebrew, and thereby to examine the differences, say, between versions for the translation of certain words and phrases in the Bible, that can be a good thing; these can also be useful to get some basic idea of what words and phrases a Bible teacher may be talking about.

However, the correct usage of interlinear translations, that is to say, uses which will not lead to error or misunderstanding or false confidence, are extremely limited. I think the prejudice you find against them is based upon the fact that mostly interlinears are misused, and often misused mightily. If a person gets the idea that they have any real clue about what the Greek or Hebrew may say based only upon the use of one of these translations, said person is making a monumental mistake. Understanding Greek and Hebrew requires a knowledge of how the languages work, and interlinears, even when they are good, cannot supply that knowledge. I have had (seemingly) endless conversations with many people who have tried to tell me that the language of a given passage could mean something it cannot, precisely because of relying on this sort of tool. Even a first year Greek or Hebrew student will understand things about how these languages work which no amount of thumbing through an interlinear translation could ever provide.

So perhaps I should withdraw the word "tool" in referring to these translations. They are really more like illustrative helps than they are tools. Why? Because if a person knows Greek and Hebrew, they are absolutely useless. But if a person does not know the original languages, they can only give limited insight into the issue of which English words may have been used to render certain Greek and Hebrew phrases. That may be interesting. It may even, I suppose, be "helpful" in some very limited circumstances. But, please believe me, if a person ever starts to draw inferences or, heaven forbid, make doctrinal conclusions based upon these "tools" – as if they really knew something about the original text through their use – that person will be headed for trouble, both through the inevitably wrong "results" they will get, and also for the arrogance of thinking it possible to do a right thing in an absolutely wrong way.

So I guess you have your answer. Bible teachers should know Greek and Hebrew (with the result that such a book will be useless to them); Bible students should be learning from Bible teachers (rather than trying to extract doctrinal information from scripture by themselves). Interlinears have the tendency to make Bible students think they now have all they need to be Bible teachers . . . and the results are always disastrous. Not all who know Greek and Hebrew are necessarily Bible teachers worthy of following (far from it); not all Bible students who are so thrilled with the Word of God that they want to get all manner of tools to delve into it are going to mislead themselves into thinking they don't need teachers. When the two get mixed (i.e., unprepared "teacher" or self-important "student") false teaching is always waiting in the wings.

Here's a link to where this question is discussed: "Interlinear Translations"

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Thanks for the reassurance, it feels good to be able to self teach even if only a little. I need a tighter walk because all the temptations seems easier and more available than ever, which I think is no coincidence anymore.

One more question if that's ok: the gospels all have like accounts of the calling of the Apostles except John. My wife asked if this was one of those only surface issues to give unbelievers their culpable deniability. I said that is most definitely a part of it, The Lord the genius that He is, but there is perhaps more incite into Peter's personality, also? Rock, being strong and bold can also be callous and dense, in a hardened, resistant to believe sorta way, sorta like Peter and all his slow to learn tendencies. What is your take on why we have a boat scene and a "my brother Andrew is saying some crazy stuff about the Messiah and says I should see Him" scene that ends in him being called a stone by The Lord Himself.

I instantly saw how The Lord went the extra mile to get Peter's attention (walking out to the boat to show him a personal miracle among many other times The Lord put extra words to Peter in his zealousness) making Peter look very resistant and almost dense seeming about many issues including denouncing The Lord to save his own hide, so his new name makes sense to me. I'd just like your version, I guess.

Thanks again, brother.

Response #26:

You're most welcome.

The gospel of John was written well after the three synoptics, so that John, under the guidance of the Spirit, was led to add much information that was not in the first three, while omitting reference to some things found in one, two or all of the synoptics. And, after all . . .

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
John 21:25 KJV

Good observations about Peter (will get to posting this at some point). Keep up the good work!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Hello again Dr Luginbill. I pray all is well.

I had a question about Hebrews 2:3. 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. From reading Hebrews I do find the style and way of encouragement very similar to Paul's writing. Also his reference to the release of Timothy seems to convey the same concern Paul had for Timothy.

What do you make of Hebrews 2:3 especially: ....this salvation, which was first announced by the Lord was confirmed to US by those who heard him. Why would Paul here say salvation was confirmed to him, and the group he was at the moment with, by those who heard him?

Thanks as always

Response #27:

Hello Friend,

Good to hear from you as always. 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.].
Hebrews 2:3b

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. In fact, since there is such a "clean break" here between the earlier and present generation, 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.

(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

Finally, the use of the third person here is not necessarily exclusive of Paul. Consider that Peter too sometimes uses this same impersonal construction where he himself is certainly included:

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.
1st Peter 1:12 NASB

Surely, "those who have preached the gospel to you" includes Peter as well.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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