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Gospel Questions IX

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Question #1:

A passage that still bothers me is Luke 16:9 (NASB):

And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.

Could you provide an exegesis of this verse? What does our Lord mean by "making friends by means of the wealth of unrighteousness"? Who are the friends? What does Jesus mean by these friends receiving us into eternal dwellings?

Response #1:

This parable is all about true priorities. Our Lord uses a secular situation to teach a spiritual truth. Just as an unbeliever who is "clever" will make use of any and all means in the best possible way he can to avoid physical disaster, so also anyone who is concerned about their spiritual situation ought to make solving "the problem" top priority and be "clever" enough to do whatever is necessary to get the solution. For unbelievers, that means putting their faith in Christ so as to be delivered from death; for believers, that means putting all of our efforts into the kingdom of heaven quite apart from the cost. When we step back and look at these things with the benefit of the same "reality check" the unjust steward had, we realize that from God's point of view doing anything necessary to be saved is the prudent thing for an unbeliever (blessedly, Christ has done all the "work"; we just need to accept the Gift); and for a believer the prudent thing when viewing life from the "reality" of the divine high ground is to make use of all we have, "mammon" and whatever else is at our disposal, to earn the best reward we can in serving our Master as best we can here on earth. The phrasing at the end of the parable is as it is so as to accommodate both groups, unbelievers (whose goal it ought to be to be "welcomed" into eternity) and believers (whose goal it ought to be to be rewarded for choosing God over mammon in the implementation of the ministries Christ assigns them).

Question #2:

You render John 1:1 differently to what I've been familiar with:

The Word [Jesus Christ] existed at the very beginning, and there was reciprocity (i.e., co-divinity) between the Word and God [the Father]. And the Word was God.
John 1:1 (Ichthys)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 NASB

You mention reciprocity and translate this passage slightly differently, could you explain your translation? I read the email posting (at the link: "The Word as with God"), but I'm still unsure as to how "towards" can imply reciprocity?

Response #2:

Perhaps "face to face" would be a better rendering. This is what it means literally and this is how my old mentor Col. Thieme rendered the passage. If someone is next to someone looking straight at them, there is a reciprocity of relationship implied (both positional and in terms of authority) since both parties are on the same level (pros) as opposed to one being "with" the other (the way this is traditionally translated), which may indicate subordination – which is not present in the Greek (just the opposite). The Greek usage is unusual, and the otherwise odd phrasing is no doubt used precisely to make this point (that the Word and the Father were present before creation as equal members of the Trinity), and thus to avoid wrongful demotion of the Word to a subordinate position.

Question #3:

While reading chapter 27 in Matthew I spent some time researching the "cross versus stake" issue. I read your posting on the matter (http://ichthys.com/mail-Rock Rooster Cross.htm) and agree that even though the evidence is inconclusive, there seems to be more evidence to support the cross rather than the stake.

I found however a very comprehensive posting on the subject (http://www.jehovahs-witness.net/watchtower/beliefs/20279/1/Cross-or-Stake-which-is-biblically-true#.UutZgPmKUsB - third post from the top) in which two passages are used as references to add weight to the cross interpretation - Exodus 12:7 and Exodus 17:11-12. I have found both to be very interesting and to the point, I'm curious of your opinion.

Exodus 12:7 (NASB)
Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

Exodus 17:11-12 (NASB)
So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.

Response #3:

I have also taught (having received it from others) that the blood placed on the doorposts and lintels at the first Passover is a sign of the cross; I think the second parallel is questionable, so I would not include it. In my experience, when trying to convince anyone who is skeptical about anything, the worst approach is to include everything that might even conceivably be evidence. Inevitably, a person who doesn't want to believe will focus in on the weak link and use that as "proof" that the entire argument is suspect. By the way, while I don't recall if I mentioned this in the link at Ichthys you cite, it is also true that when our Lord returns " the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven" (Matt.24:30); what could that recognizable "sign" be if not the cross? A "stake" would not seem to fit the bill at all. Finally, I notice that your "source" is a JW one – and anything coming from such a sort should be viewed with a jaundiced eye (if not with two of them).

Question #4:

On Luke 10:27-37, if it is true that the love we are commanded to have towards our neighbour applies to the Samaritan, but not to the Levite and to the priest, then I think it could help me understand what you wrote about for example deceiving the enemy during the time of the war - although we are required by the commandments to tell the truth, telling the truth and disclosing valuable information during the war can sometimes directly cost people lives. Am I correct to link the passage with your words? Since our enemy, which might be willing to murder us and our family is not our neighbour, we don't "owe" him the love that we have for our neighbours, which includes being truthful?

Response #4:

The Levite and the priest failed to show mercy; but Jesus tells this man "go and do likewise", i.e., you show mercy too like the Samaritan did. As one of my old seminary profs, Dr. Rigsby, pointed out to the class, for a Levite or a priest to potentially make themselves unclean in aiding this man (whose status they could not know beyond the obvious fact that he needed help – he might have been unclean for any number of reasons) would have been a sacrifice, but it would have been the right thing to do. As it was, they preferred the ritual of the Law and their own convenience to doing what God's love would really commend. This is different from the self-defense/law-enforcement/warfare exception to the law of love because no such threat emanated from the wounded man. The only threat was one to their own legalistic righteousness and personal convenience. If there is a legitimate need, one that is urgent and cannot be met by the person in need, and one that we are in a position to solve, we should likewise act in accordance with the law of love.

Question #5:

What I meant here is that the priest and the Levite didn't show mercy and so, if I understand it correctly, are not "neighbours". And since they are not neighbours, they don't qualify for what Jesus says early in His reply (Luke 10:27):

And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

And if they don't "qualify" for what the love that a Christian owes to his neighbour, then we don't need to act towards them as if they were our neighbours, even if we are still obliged to act in accordance with what the scripture teaches (hence my question about "loving enemies"). That was the heart of the question, hopefully I articulated it clearly this time.

Response #5:

I suppose I would say that this doesn't help the Levite or the priest; they were supposed to be God's people but they acted out of selfishness and did not act out of love. That is an indication (even if it is not absolutely proof) of spiritual deadness. Genuinely good works such as those of the Samaritan are an indication of a heart which is close to God, while the opposite is an indication of the opposite.

Question #6:

John 3:34 (NASB):
For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.

What is meant by "He gives the Spirit without measure"? Is it about the Father giving the Son "the Spirit without measure"? If so, why is it not specified - "He gives the Son the Spirit without measure"?

Response #6:

That would make it clearer for us, I suppose, but we figured it out anyway. Greek often puts the direct object in ellipsis when it is "obvious" and also sometimes the indirect object (as is the case here).

Question #7:

It occurred to me - since John the Baptist spoke these words in Hebrew, is the ellipsis down to how John rendered John the Baptist's words, or is ellipsis employed in Hebrew also?

Response #7:

It's a good question. In my view it could go either way. My sense is that Hebrew can do this sort of thing too (as can English, occasionally), but that it is more common in Greek.

Question #8:

Regarding John 4:35 you wrote:

Though in terms of sheer numbers, gentiles predominate in the Church Age, Jews, as we have seen, are the pillars of the Church and included as the "remnant according to the election of grace" in every generation of the present era (Rom.11:5). This duality of Jew and gentile is symbolized in the ritual of the feast of weeks by the presentation of the two bulls (Num.28:27), the two rams (Lev.23:18), the two lambs (Lev.23:19) and the two loaves (Lev.23:17), this last element being unique to the feast of Weeks.

The four months [in the Jewish calendar without festivals] symbolize the Church Age (two millennia) and the double portion Millennium.

Many take the four months literally as the time that needed to pass before literal harvest came - what is your take on such a view?

Response #8:

The calendar is at one and the same time an actual calendar of the year with its festivals, and also a roadmap of the plan of God. Just as, for example, Passover symbolizes the cross, so also the four months symbolize the Church Age (e.g.). Please see the link: "The Jewish Ceremonial Calendar".

Question #9:

When you write about the Church Age being symbolized by the four months, do you refer to the Church Age gap in the Jewish calendar, which is 14 + 12x9 days long (122 days)?

Why do the 4 months also refer to the double portion Millennium?

Response #9:

What I meant was not that the number four has that same application to the Millennium, only that the principle of an abundant harvesting of believers is repeated in the Millennium (and I wouldn't wish to leave that idea out of a discussion of this parable). But the four months as a discrete time period refer directly only to the Church.

Question #10:

I'm still unclear about this - I thought that you meant that the number of believers during the two millennia of Church age will equal the double portion of the Millennium (which would make the months a reference to the number of believers rather than a description of time) - but later you wrote that "four months as a discrete time period refer directly only to the Church"?

Response #10:

Yes, that's correct. The four months refer to the hiatus between festivals in the Jewish ceremonial calendar – between Pentecost and Trumpets – which symbolizes the mystery of the Church Age (see the link: http://ichthys.com/Satans-Rebellion-Part5.htm#The Jewish Calendar).

Question #11:

In the two instances when Jesus feed the multitude in the Gospels and there were 12 baskets on the first occasion left over and 7 baskets on the last occasion, is there any significance to the number of baskets? For instance, the 12 baskets were mentioned first because it represented the salvation to the Jews first and then the 7 baskets represents fullness and it grafted the gentiles into his Christ finished work. Is this explanation accurate? This was gleaned from my bible commentary. It makes sense to me.

Response #11:

It's always a good idea not to get too wrapped up in numerology (especially given how many heresies and even cults have sprung from overemphasizing numbers). It is true that there are some incidents where numbers have some significance in scripture, but more often than not even when that is the case this significance is nowhere near as important as what else is going on in a given context, and that is how I would rate these incidents as well. I do have something on this so I invite you to have a look at the link and get back to me if you have further questions about this one: The leftover baskets of bread and fish.

Question #12:

Out of the 12 disciples, why were Peter, James and John especially close to Jesus? What qualities did Jesus see them to bring them in his inner circle? The reason I said this is because they were with him during some of his most intimate moments, The transfiguration, raising of Lazarus daughter and I believe the Garden of Gethsemane. I believe this prompted all the discussions between the disciples about who would be seated at his right hand when he rules in the millennium kingdom and Jesus had to give them a lesson about service.

Response #12:

Scripture never tells us the answer to this question, but a couple of observations are perhaps not out of place. We do know from future events that Peter and John did greater service for the Church of Christ than all of the others put together (at least as far are we are able to tell from the scriptural record – several were probably executed early on which of course terminated their service early; John's brother James certainly was: Acts 12:2). So perhaps our Lord was attracted to the genuine zeal for Him that these four possessed. It is also true that our Lord was a genuine human being, and we all have our natural likes and dislikes, people whom we find more sympatico than others even though that may not be a spiritual judgment but only a personal one. John is described as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (Jn.13:23; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20), with the "love" here being agape, specifically, "got along with out of familiarity" being the idea. Yet our Lord loved them all and treated them all with perfect fairness and kindness, even the one He knew would betray Him.

Question #13:

Hi, Doctor.

So, I'm reading Matthew today and come across chapter 10. It's confusing for me because it seems to mix direct commands to the apostles at the moment they were sent out, but it also seems to speak to us all (it all does, of course...), however, it's confusing as to which is intended for the apostles directly and what was to be figured out and applied in the future (us). It seems Matthew 10:16 is where the 'apostle only' instruction ends and the general begins..

It's just a tad messy to my eye perhaps?

I'm reading back through your catalogs of emails to see if you've already written on it(I'm certain you have) but it struck me today, so I thought I'd ask.

I pray you are well, Doc, once again thank you for everything.

In Christ,

Response #13:

Prophetic scripture often has more than one application and is often applicable to more than one coming situation (see the link: "Hermeneutic Issues"). Matthew 10 is, first, applicable to the 12 (and the 72: Lk.10:1ff.) who are sent out "two by two", but it is also prophetic of the 144,000 who will be sent out in the same way to "the lost sheep of Israel" (see the link). Finally, even prophetic passages which are not directly applicable in terms of the precise prophecy may be have secondary application to us, and that is certainly the case with much of Matthew 10. The correct procedure is to note all commands which are clearly not "for us" (as in "go [only] to the lost sheep of Israel" – we are to share the gospel with all today), but to consider the rest applicable (since these are words of our Lord), unless there is a good reason for not doing so. Matthew 10:16, "be wise as serpents and harmless as doves", is a good example of something we should embrace as prescriptive for ourselves too even thought though technically speaking the words were spoken to the 12 and to the 72 (especially since scripture tells us the same essential thing elsewhere, albeit without the colorful metaphor: e.g., Rom.16:19; 1Cor.14:20).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi, Doc

So, reading all the ends of the Gospels, it seems there's a difference in the location of the angels after our Lord's resurrection, the number of angels, and who they appear to (which of the women for example, Mary alone or all..), whom The Lord appeared to first, etc.

How is the best way to reconcile these differences? I don't believe in the Bible being errant, but I've still always been confused about this one.

Hope all is well, and thank you again for Ichthys.com, can't get enough!

Response #14:

Thanks for your good words!

As to the chronology of the events of our Lord's resurrection, all of the gospels have slightly different emphases and each contains somewhat different details, and that accounts for the perceived differences. Parsing these things is not always an easy matter, but I did do this for the Basics Series. It's in part 4A: Christology at the link: "The Chronology of the Resurrection". There are a number of issues which many who have looked at these matters have gotten confused, so do please have look at this link and then feel free to write me back about this. Bottom line: you are absolutely correct that there are no inconsistencies in fact (only failures to do homework and figure things out correctly on the part of some).

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Dear Bob,

I'm once more reading through the New Testament, and in the Old Testament I am still reading Psalms every day, as well. I had a couple of questions concerning Mark chapters 10 and 11, one of which I may have asked before but have forgotten about. If this email is short enough I had a third question which I may direct towards you, also. I can't say I've been as confident as I can be, but my journey with the Lord has had it's ups and downs, but I still feel as though I am making progress and am far better off than I was when I first came to you. I think I still have some issues to deal with in terms of pride and being negatively affected by my emotions, but the Lord has been helping me see my faults and helping my adjust them accordingly.

1) Anyway, the first question is concerning the rich man whom asked Jesus how he could attain eternal life. He was told to sell his possessions in order to follow Jesus, but he went away because he was attached to them. I was wondering, are these instructions for us to do the same (to sell what luxuries we own, let's say?), or is He merely instructing us to not value money or possessions over our relationship with Him and God?

2) In Mark 11, Jesus says that if we have faith we can command a mountain to 'be taken up and cast into the sea', and it will be done if we truly believe. Was He speaking in parable again or was He being a bit more matter-of-fact? I believe He was pointing out to the disciples once again that anything is possible through God, as he did in the case of the rich man who wanted to follow him, but wasn't willing to part with his belongings. Is this a correct assumption?

3) Oh, right, I forgot I had a question about forgiveness, this one being an important one and the point of the email. I know we are to look forward in our race and not linger on what is behind us, but I did have one question which has to do about forgiveness. How do we know that we have forgiven someone, or how do we feel such a thing? Is forgiveness more of a conscious decision more than a feeling? Say we want to forgive someone, and are mentally choosing to no longer hold whatever wrong the committed against us against them, and wish to forget about it. Is forgiving the same as forgiving, or if we still feel wary/wronged/pained by what happened, even though we're not necessary bitter or angry towards the person (or in such a case, are we?), have we forgiven them? Another question about this is what if year sin our past, even before we were saved, we held a grudge against someone but did not remember anything about it years later. We haven't actually gone through the mental process of forgiveness, have we? Unless in this particular case, forgetfulness is forgiveness?

4) Finally, a question concerning Jesus speaking of hell. The part where He says 'if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out, for it is better for you to enter into life with one eye than it is for all of you to go into hell', of course this is a paraphrase. I remember that He is not speaking on as literal terms as it sounds He does, at least I think He's not. If I remember correctly, when He's speaking like this, He is merely saying that if we sin even once we are guilty of sin and would be condemned, so He is emphasizing that there is nothing we can do to be saved – only through God, and Him, we can be saved. Do I remember this right?

Response #15:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend. I hope things are working out for you well, and am happy as ever to hear that in the spiritual combat in which you are involved you are making progress. As to your questions:

1) As I say a the link (Combating Legalism III), our Lord commanded the rich young ruler to "sell all . . . and follow Me", not because good works [are necessary for salvation], but because the young man's inability to embrace this [principle of grace] proved his essential sinfulness and need of grace salvation". Also almost always missed here is the "follow Me" part – which is the important part. Selling all merely cuts the ties that bound the young man to a worldly point of view so that he could walk with Jesus in the course of His ministry literally; today our Lord is not physically present, so that following Him requires being saved and living the life He wants us to live. That will require using some material means ("but now . . . if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one"; Lk.22:36), and cutting the bonds with this world will mean cutting out one's love for it rather than disposing of physical possessions (e.g., 1Jn.2:15-17).

2) Yes. And it is literal too – if we ever should need to move a mountain. The Lord empowers us to do whatever we need to do. If we needed to have the sun stand still over Gibeon (or Chicago), the Lord would answer prayers of faith for that eventuality. But it is good to remember that our Lord Himself never cast a mountain (or a fig tree) into the sea – although He could have done so much more. So the question is what we need to have done in truth – and that God will do for all who pray in faith. Please see the link: "Moving Mountains".

3) It's a good question. I would say, yes, we should most definitely mentally forgive, and also do so verbally if the person in question comes to us and asks forgiveness. Forgiveness is most importantly demonstrated by the way we act. If we are manifesting hostility in our actions, that is not forgiveness. However, it is impossible to forget certain things. But we can develop an attitude – in general and specifically – to "not let it bother us" that we have been abused/maltreated etc. In cases of deep hurt in particular, it may be a constant struggle to maintain a "state of forgiveness" as our sin natures will be very eager to put us right back into that old way of thinking at the drop of a hat (or, better but, at the "drop of our self-discipline), and we have to be on our guard about that. One important thing to take into account when it comes to forgiving others is that this does not mean that we are required to associate with people who are bad for us spiritually or in other ways, nor to develop a false opinion about their character. Sometimes the best way to forgive is to forget not only the deed but the person who did it.

4) This is covered at the link: "153 fish and some other difficult passages" (see question/answer #7). The key thing to me about our Lord's examples is that no one in the world would actually do this, namely, pluck out their eye if, for example "it" lusted after a woman. In short order the entire world of men would be blind if that were common practice, whereas in the history of the world following our Lord's use of this example no has yet done this (no one sane, in any case). So it does serve to show how impossible sinlessness is – apart from the Spirit; and it does, as you suppose very correctly, point the way all that much more emphatically to the need for help in order to be saved – and He is our only help, the only Name given under heaven whereby we must be saved.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hey Bob, I was wondering if you could explain a few reasons for the differences in the 4 gospels. What are the major purposes for us having 4 different Gospels?

Thanks again

Response #16:

Hello Friend,

We are certainly blessed to have all four! Although they all cover the life, work and teachings our dear Lord Jesus' first advent, each gospel has different information and approaches things from a slightly different angle, even where the same incident or parable is in view. Matthew was a disciple and wrote for a Jewish audience as we know because 1) the genealogy starts from Abraham, the first Jew (whereas Luke's starts from Adam, a gentile); and 2) the genealogy goes to Joseph, not Mary, tracking His Hebrew patrimony, not His biological descent.; Mark wrote under Peter's apostolic purview as Luke did under Paul's; and John wrote last, substantially later in time than the other three – or at least the first two. Taking them together, we get a "3D" view from the synoptics and then a complete retelling with all manner of new information in the gospel of John. No other life, no other series of historical events in the ancient world is so well covered as this. Since faith in Jesus Christ is the point of entry into the family of God, it stands to reason that this body of critical information would be the "grand central station" of the Bible, so to speak – just as our Lord's earthly life, His teachings, and His death for all mankind on the cross, is the pivot point of all history, human and divine.

Feel free to write me back about any of this.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi again,

An idea regarding http://ichthys.com/mail-Johns doubts.htm

Ray Vander Laan, That the World May Know Ministries founder, Faith Lessons video series creator, volume 11, session 2, "The Way of John the Baptist"; also here:


'he probably did not lose his faith in Jesus, what troubled him rather was in the Old Testament - the Messiah is predicted, but also someone called "The Coming One " Malachi 3/Zecharaiah 9... Perhaps he was asking, "I know you're the Messiah, but are you the Coming one as well?"'.

Response #17:

Good to hear from you again.

Thanks for the link . . . but I prefer the explanation at the Ichthys link. Please also see the posting "Gospel Questions III: Least in the Kingdom" where this issue is discussed in a bit more detail and from a slightly different angle. As I like to put it, John's view suffered from the contemporary myopia of not seeing the cross out of desire for the crown (and to be fair to John, in the OT the two advents are not so clearly distinguished; see the link: "Prophetic Foreshortening").

I don't see anything in scripture (or in my appreciation of Jewish tradition) of any sort of "two Messiah" view (whatever name one wishes to put on it as in "Messiah" vs. "Coming One" – who would of course be the Messiah; who else?), and I don't think that can be legitimately drawn from scriptures such as John 1:21 – that is a synopsis of different questions from different contemporaries at different times, not a single, unified theory. And I certainly can't accept that John was troubled by such a theory (for which there is no evidence of existence).

For John, there was one Messiah, but Jesus wasn't behaving as he anticipated He would behave. In this we see the test of faith that comes upon many a believer. We have faith in the Lord and His deliverance, but He does not always act when and how we wish He would (or anticipate He will). Our part is to stand firm in faith even when our eyes and ears and feelings want to rebel, and not (as Job did – eventually) give into such pressures. John should have held fast as well – but no one is perfect (and few are as great as John – if anyone). It is a good lesson to keep in mind, however.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:


Sure, not sure. In case you missed it though, the possibility that John was in prison and the prophecy said the coming King would deliver prisoners.

Response #18:


I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
Isaiah 42:6-7 NKJV

This passage is clearly Messianic. And so Jesus says to John's messengers:

"The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
Matthew 11:5

Any literal "freeing of prisoners" was symbolic at this point; that will be a second advent blessing from the Messiah. But the miraculous healing was taking place during the first advent, and the passages in prophecy conflate the two (as explained previously). It is certainly understandable that without the benefit of the Spirit's post-cross/resurrection revelation of truth, John was having a hard time understanding the difference between the two advents – this was the point of faith which all of Jesus generation had to grapple with in order to accept Him as the Messiah even though He was appearing as the Suffering Servant and not the Conquering King. But to see John as seeing two Messiahs instead of two advents would be to assume that he had been guilty of completely distorting scripture – which is fundamentally different from failing to understand its correct interpretation in a complete way (especially in an area where the truth was only then in the process of being fully revealed). By all accounts, and by our Lord's testimony to him, John's doubts did not constitute apostasy. But neither should we impute to him a position on scripture that is both wrong and esoteric in the extreme, especially when the abundance of the evidence points to his (incomplete) view being in the mainstream of the contemporary one.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Matthew 19:28; this was told when Judas was still one of the twelve. How do we explain Matthew 26: 24 in this light? I have heard it interpreted as Matthias took Judas' place. If I looked at you and said I am going to invite you for lunch tomorrow, how can I possibly mean that I was talking about your son or someone else in your stead?

Response #19:

Judas was never a believer (see the link: "Judas and the Betrayal of Christ"). Our Lord in Matthew 19:28 is anticipating the full college of apostles when he is replaced with Paul.

Question #20:


Just read your article on Judas. Good background however, I question your thought that he was never a believer. How then did he also go out 2 x 2 and perform the same miracles as the other disciples?

Thanks again.

Response #20:

Good to make your acquaintance. All of the information in the gospels of which I am aware presents Judas as an unbeliever. For example:

Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?"
John 6:70 NKJV

When our Lord made this statement, the cross and Judas' betrayal was still over a year away. The fact that Judas may have gone out as one of the six pairs commissioned by our Lord (it is not stated directly that he did), does not in any way conflict with his status elsewhere in the gospels as someone who did his best to appear extremely holy (more so than the other disciples; see the link: "Why didn't the other disciples suspect Judas?"), but was in fact not so at all. Did Jesus send Judas out? Maybe. But Jesus definitely did pick him as a disciple in spite of identifying him as "a devil", and Judas definitely did betray our Lord in spite of having been picked as a disciple. If a betrayer could be picked as a disciple (to fulfill the prophecies), there is no reason to suppose that he had not been an unbeliever from the beginning. Given Judas' betrayal, our Lord's words about him above, and the universally negative portrayal of him in the gospels at every point, it certainly seems that the traditional understanding of Judas as never having believed is correct, and I would venture to say that the burden of proof surely lies on the side of suggesting otherwise.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Bob,

In the above verse, it says Lazarus was carried to Abrahams bosom, and the rich man was buried. Please explain.

Response #21:

Always great to hear from you, my friend. Thanks so much for your prayers! I keep you in mine day by day as well.

The Lord puts it this way to show the stark distinction between the eternal state of believers versus that of unbelievers. We know from later in our Lord's description that the rich man, or rather, his spirit, being in an interim body, is in a place called "Torments", whereas Lazarus was in the paradise beneath the earth (the place of believers after death before the ascension). The physical bodies of both men went into the grave, but the after-death status of believers is so wonderful that our Lord will not even describe it as such: regardless of what our eyes see, believers go from life to life. Compare:

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"
John 11:25-26 NASB

So while both men's first bodies physically died, and while both men received an interim body to house their spirits prior to the resurrection (of the living and dead respectively), and while both communicated across the "great gulf fixed" between Torments and Abraham's Bosom, yet the status is so different as to be not comparable: the rich man entered into death (physical death with an unpleasant interlude before the second death of the lake of fire), while Lazarus entered into life – a blessed interlude of peace before the resurrection unto life eternal. And how much better today when we enter into the presence of the Lord in the third heaven on departing this earth for what is now a very short wait!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:


This may sound sophomoric, but in Matthew I thought that Jesus, the Son only chose to whom he would reveal himself? But, here the Father reveals the Son to Peter, please give me a clearer understanding of this 'plain to read text'. I think I am confused......or is it saying that he, the Son is the ONLY one who can reveal the Father, since he declared Him, and the Father can reveal the Son anytime He wants, to.

Matthew 11:27 KJV
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

Matthew 16:13-17 KJV
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Response #22:

Matthew 16:17 actually says "flesh and blood has not made revelation to you, but my Father . . .". Most versions supply an "it" or a "this", but it is not there in the Greek. We can of course consider that we have here the ellipsis of the direct object (common enough in Greek even though unheard of in English), but even so the fact that it's not here means that the object of revelation is not what is being emphasized by our Lord but rather the Father's role in that revelation. A better analog for the Father revealing of the Son might be Revelation 1:1:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave Him . . .

So the Son does reveal the Father and the Father does reveal the Son. The two are not mutually exclusive. As with the filioque clause controversy, there really is no controversy at all: the Son sends the Spirit and the Father sends the Spirit. The Trinity are separate persons but share the same divine essence and so are "one" in a way human beings cannot fathom. In terms of this point, there never has been a shadow of a disagreement or moment of discovery between the three. So the fact that the Son's actions make clear who the Father is and the Father is the One who reveals the Son to the world is only natural – as is also the Spirit's role in revealing the truth about Him who is the truth, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the Word of God (Jn.1:31-33).

(1) For this reason (i.e., the building up of the Church into a holy temple: cf. 2:14-22), I, Paul, am Christ's prisoner on behalf of the gentiles. (2) And I assume that you have heard about this dispensation of God's grace given to me on your behalf (i.e., his mandate as an apostle to "carry Christ's name to the gentiles": Acts 9:15). (3) For it was through [God's] revelation that this mystery [of His calling out of the gentiles] was made known to me as I wrote you briefly before. (4) When you read these things you will be able to understand my spiritual insight into this mystery of Christ, (5) which was not made known to mankind in previous generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
Ephesians 3:1-5

Yours in the dear Lord Jesus, our Savior.

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

How do you reconcile this verse:

"No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)

with this one:

"Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also." (John 15:20)


Response #23:

We are His servants; but He treats us as His friends even so.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Dear Robert,

In Luke 11:13 it says that God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. However, I read somewhere online that this is an example of metonymy. Do you know if the Greek supports Jesus directly promising to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him, or if Luke 11:13 means something else?

Here is a link to the article



Response #24:

Good to hear from you again. I do not find this to be an instance of metonymy. This statement was made by our Lord during His first advent and before His resurrection and the first Pentecost of the Church. Today, everyone who believes receives the indwelling Holy Spirit (e.g., Rom.8:9b). At that time, this was not the case (e.g., Jn.14:17). Praying for the Spirit was thus appropriate at that time, and those who did ask in faith received (we also know of other individuals who were given the Spirit directly, such as Saul and David: 1Sam.10:16; 16:13).

So the English and the Greek are both very clear. It's the theology that some folks have had a hard time straightening out.

For more on this please see the link in BB 5: Pneumatology: "The Spirit's Ministry before the Cross and Resurrection of Christ"

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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