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Gospel Questions IV:

The Prophet, the rich man in Hades, Peter's wife,

the 'eleven' and the 'twelve' apostles,

and progressive revelation

Word RTF

Question #1: 

Shalom Bob,

With respect to St. John 1:25 are 3 distinct individuals being suggested here or merely two?

John 1:25: And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

Response #1:  

In my view of this passage, not everyone in the religious crowd of Jesus day was completely convinced that the Messiah and the Prophet of whom Moses spoke was one and the same person. This report by John preserves for us the fact that some people asked John "are you the Messiah", while others asked him "are you THE Prophet" – in just those words. What precisely they meant could only be answered by the doubters themselves. We believers know, however, that Jesus is both: The Messiah (literally, "the Anointed One") and the Prophet about whom Moses spoke as the One who would fulfill all future revelation. Please see the links:

Jesus is THE Prophet

Jesus is the Messiah

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hi Doc!

I don't want to send a bunch of email's so I will combine both questions in one. My first question is why do people close their eyes to pray? is this commanded? I know that Jesus "lifted up His eyes" in John 11:41 in prayer I believe. Can we pray to our Heavenly Father with our eyes open toward Heaven?

My second question is regarding the rich man who went to hades as told by Jesus. The commentary below states that the rich man mentioned in Luke has to do with his resurrection after the millennium, but I was almost certain that it was a past event and proves conscious torment for the wicked after death until they are judged and cast into the lake of fire. Here's the commentary:

"Luke 16:22-23 (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up):

Jesus does not say the rich man is taken immediately to an eternally burning hell. He says the rich man dies and is buried. People are buried in a grave and covered with earth. Hades (verse 23) is the Greek word for "grave." The King James Version generically translates hades into "hell," as it also does the Greek words tartarus (the present condition of darkness and restraint of the fallen angels or demons) and gehenna (a place at the bottom of a high ledge at the south end of Jerusalem where garbage and dead bodies were dumped and burned). Other Bible translations correctly distinguish the different meaning in these words. The rich man went to the same kind of place Jesus did when He died—"hell" (KJV) or "Hades" (NKJV)—but the Father did not leave Him there (Acts 2:31-32).

Daniel 12:2 speaks of those who will be resurrected to eternal life (the just) and of those who will be resurrected to damnation or judgment (the unjust). In the parable, Jesus speaks of two different, separate resurrections (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:4-5, 11-12). Jesus pictures the rich man as wicked and lost, but even he will open his eyes and rise from his grave after the Millennium. Having passed up his opportunity for immortality by choosing this world's temporary, material riches and pleasures rather than eternal, spiritual riches, he is without hope, doomed to perish in the Lake of Fire.

The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man shows the resurrection from the dead, not an instantaneous going to heaven or hell. It is a resurrection from death, not from life. It depicts mortals who die and are dead, not immortals who never lose consciousness and live forever under punishment in a fiery hell. Jesus describes bringing back to life one who was dead, who had no conscious realization of the lapse of centuries and millennia since his death."

The commentary sort of confuses me regarding the meaning of "hell, hades, tartarus, and gehenna." Did the rich man go to hades or the grave? and if hades means the grave, then would it be proper to say that the rich man lifted his eyes in the grave to conscious torment? Thanks in advance!

Response #2: 

I don't see any biblical justification to suggest that there is anything wrong with praying with your eyes open. I do it all the time. I think people often close their eyes to concentrate, but it is certainly not required and not always possible. If you are slamming on the brakes to avoid a wreck, prayer is recommended; shutting your eyes is not.

This "commentary" would confuse anyone because it is confused, theologically speaking. The rich man was in torments, still is in torments, does have eyes, and did lift them and see Lazarus and Abraham. He was not as has not been resurrected and neither have they. The rich man's status is the same today as it was in Jesus day (as the unrighteous dead will not be resurrected until the last judgment, following which they will be thrown into the lake of fire which is far worse than what they are experiencing now). The rich man cannot see Abraham and Lazarus any more because they have now moved on to be with our Lord in the third heaven to dwell with Him in the place He "has prepared" (Jn.14:2-3) and to await their resurrection of life which will occur at the second advent (see the links: The Ascension of Christ [in BB 4A]; and The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride [in CT 5]).

The nether world below the earth has three compartments:

1) Paradise (or Abraham's Bosom, described here in Luke 16).

2) Torments (or hell / Hades / gehenna / the grave / sheol), also described in this context.

3) The Abyss (or Tartarus), not described here, but the place where certain fallen angels are currently incarcerated.

Paradise is no longer occupied as all believers who had passed on before Jesus followed Him to heaven in His ascension to the third heaven (see the link: "The Transfer of Believers from the Subterranean Paradise to the Third Heaven").

None of the individuals in any of these places are yet resurrected (they all have interim bodies: see the link: "The Interim State"). The only person to have been resurrected so far is our Lord.

It is true that the Bible uses a wide variety of terminology for these various places beneath the earth; that is partly because many of these terms come from Hebrew poetry (and poetry in every language tends to vary its vocabulary for aesthetic purposes), and partly because we have another layer of vocabulary added by the Greek. There is also the fact that the Old Testament assumes these distinctions, but never sets them out systematically (like so many other doctrines, the Trinity and the hypostatic union of the Person of Christ, for example). This is the gist of it given above. I have written all this up in much more detail with all the verse citations at the following links:

Death and Hades (in CT 1)

The Three Compartments of Hades (in SR 1)

The Descent of our Lord into Paradise (in BB 4A)

Christ's Preaching to the Spirits in Hell (1Pet.3:18-20)

The Abyss (in SR 5)

The Sea and Hades (in SR 2)

The Waters above and below (in CT 2B)

Please let me know if there is anything you'd like to have explained about all this and I would be happy to comply.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Hello--I am pretty sure I am right, but aren't here separate words for "sisters" and "wife" in 1 Cor. 9:5? If I am reading the Greek correctly, it has "adelphen" for "sisters" and "gunaika" for wife. Or "gynaika". So, this verse means that Paul is saying that he has a right to bring along a "sister" wife (sister in the Lord, i.e., believing wife) if he wanted to, just as the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas. A Catholic I know insists that this verse only has "sister" in it, not wife. I have checked and rechecked it looks like both to me. This is because she doesn't want to admit that Peter was married at the time Paul was writing this. She admits that Peter was at one time married but was either a widower when Paul wrote this, or he had left his wife behind, leaving all, as Jesus said, to follow the Lord. Which sounds like abandonment to me.

This verse doesn't say for 100% certainty that Peter was married, only that they had a right to take along a believing wife, But read in the most natural way, it sure sounds as if Peter and the other apostles and the Lord's brothers were all married, though, so far as I know, Paul was not.

Anyway, I just wanted your opinion. She admits that the Catholic NAB also has "wife" here, but says it isn't perfect and has errors, even though it has the official "imprimature" of the Catholic Church. She says that doesn't mean it is without erro.

Response #3: 

 You are exactly correct – both words (adelphen gynaika) are here in the Greek. We know from the gospels that Peter had a "mother in law", and this verse (1Cor.9:5) clearly indicates that he was still married and taking his wife along with him at this time.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hi--Thanks. Just one more question--does the word for "wife' here also mean "woman", or is it a slight variation of the Greek word for "woman"? I can't tell when I look it up in concordances. One said "a woman, more specifically, a wife." Are there two different words for "wife"and "woman" in Greek? Robertson agrees with you, by the way.

God bless.

Response #4: 

It's one and the same word – you have to distinguish from the context whether gyne means "woman" in a generic sense or "wife" in a more specific sense (Hebrew usage is exactly parallel). In a Christian context, we surely don't imagine that Peter was taking along for companionship "a woman" who was not his wife.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi--True, but he could take along his sister, since that word is in there, too. An unmarried sister, whose father was dead, would be under her brother's protection, wouldn't she? But then, why would he need some sort of authority to take her along on his trips? Or a wife, for that matter?

I forgot to ask you something as I can't find it in my in-box...didn't you tell me that Jerome's Vulgate had many unauthorized changes made to it over the centuries, so it is hard to know what he originally wrote? And you mentioned a few early Vulgates that are reasonably close to the original, I think. Do you remember what they were called? Thanks.

Response #5: 

Yes, that's precisely the question. I don't think anyone would be asking any questions about females attending to the apostles, related or not, since this was the pattern during Jesus' ministry. The context suggests not the "taking along" but the relationship the lack of which in Paul's case constitutes a sacrifice significant enough to mention: Paul and Barnabas decided to forgo marriage for the sake of the gospel, and this is noteworthy since even one of the greatest of the other apostles did not do so. The context of these verses makes no sense unless we understand the words "sister-woman" as "believing-wife"; that is the standard usage, and refusing to see the obvious just shows to what lengths those who value their positions more than truth of the Word are willing to go.

On the Vulgate, yes, there is an "authorized" RC version, but the original text is impossible to reconstruct because of the wide variety of different readings from a whole host of manuscript families. Reconstructing the "original Vulgate" of Jerome is as vexed a question as is trying to reconstruct the "original Septuagint". And as with the LXX, there are other independent versions whose readings continued to "cross-pollinate" these other versions over many centuries. In the case of the Vulgate, the "Old Latin" versions which were, in many respects, very close to the Vulgate in many places, added another layer of confusion before, during, and after its original publication. Without the discovery of a nearly contemporaneous manuscript, Jerome's original text in any given verse will continue to be a matter of opinion.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hi Doc!

I heard a NT critic stating that this passage is mistaken in stating that there were 12 disciples in verse 5 because Judas was no longer a disciple, which I know is the wrong answer. I believe that he was referring to the disciples in general, i.e., "the" twelve. The NT critic also argued that the apostles mentioned in verse 7 are a different group then the disciples mentioned in verse 5.

1 Cor 15:5-7: 5. And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

Why does Paul make a distinction from "the 12" in verse 5 and the "apostles" in verse 7? Who was included as the 12th disciple in verse 5? Is Matthias included in verse 5 as the twelve? Can you help clear this up for me? Thanks in advance!

Response #6: 

The "twelve" is a technical designation here for the college of apostles of which Paul is an eternal part (cf. Rev.21:14). He was not yet a part of the college at the time of these resurrection appearances, however (cf. Acts 6:2). So, rather than saying something like "the eleven since they were without me", Paul in all humility refers to the remaining apostles at this time as "the twelve" even though at the point of writing there were only eleven of them (actually, less than that, since we know from Acts 12:2 that James the brother of John had already been martyred). Moreover, since Judas Iscariot was never a believer in the first place, there were really only eleven until Paul's call and acceptance of Christ.

Matthias was never actually an apostle, at least in God's eyes. Please see the links:

Matthias and the Numbering of the Twelve Apostles

Other "apostles"

Paul the twelfth apostle

The 12 Apostles of the Lamb

My compliments on your right-dividing of the Word of truth – commentaries, it seems, are often the source of as much disinformation and mistakes as they are of anything helpful.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7: 


I am trying to get the meaning of John 21:25. Here is an example of one of several commentaries I find about it (Barnes)

Verse 25. Many other things before his disciples, is added by two MSS. The Scholia in several MSS. intimate that this verse is an addition; but it is found in every ancient version, and in Origen, Cyril, and Chrysostom. We have already seen that this apostle often uses the term world to designate the Jewish people only; and if it have this sense here, which is possible, it will at once vindicate the above exposition of the word cwrein. As if he had said, Were I to detail all the signs and miracles which Jesus did among his disciples, and in the private families where he sojourned, the Jewish people themselves would not receive nor credit these accounts; but enough is written to prove that this Christ was the promised Messiah.

I would greatly appreciate it if you would be so kind as to share with me your interpretation of the words.

In the Blessed Name of Christ Jesus,

Response #7: 

As to John 21:25, the words "before His disciples" are not part of the original text. This is a supposition added later.

I believe the meaning is very clear. About 90% of what we have in the gospels occurred during the final year of Jesus' ministry, and even here what we have is clearly a very selective account. Obviously, if a moment by moment, play by play of His entire earthly life were to somehow be committed to writing, the volume of the books necessary would be immense (especially if it were a "3-D" consideration of every true angle). I suppose one can see this as hyperbola, but it is sanctified hyperbola, a figure of speech which is of course wonderfully biblical when used in the power of the Spirit. When Jesus says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, this was an even more dramatic use of the figure which disturbed Peter and the others quite a bit. Jesus clarified: nothing is impossible for God. So I do believe that there is a literal sense in which this is true – and it is certainly also true that if the entire life of Jesus were available along with the supernatural goings on and of course the preincarnate Christ and the divine pre-creation divinity of Christ included, indeed the books needed would exceed the size of the world.

Even from a practical point of view, an entire, complete account would be one that no human being would have time to write, time to read (even in a life time), let alone time to digest. Finally, there is also the point to be made that we moderns have a different sense of "literal" versus "fictitious", and we are wrong to assign our understanding to that of the ancients. Everyone in John's day who read these words knew what he meant, but we quibble. And yet we are not perfect. For example, we would find fault with a description "he stayed there that day" if later "he" goes somewhere else – and yet, we say things like "I worked hard all day" when we most certainly do not mean "for a literal, complete 24 hour period without a break or without any slacking off". It is just that our standard is different, not that it is any more correct. In Biblical Hebrew "I drank it all" might mean "75% of the glass", and we find fault; but in English "I drank the whole glass of milk" does not mean that I used a vacuum tube to extract every last drop and a super-absorbent sponge laced with an edible de-greaser to remove every molecule from the side of the glass.

Hope this helps.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Dear Robert,

At the risk of asking too many questions, I have another question. What do you think about the idea of progressive revelation?

In Christ,

Response #8: 

Not a problem. It's always a pleasure to correspond with someone who is genuinely seeking out God's truth. Here is something I have written on progressive revelation (in BB 4A; see the link):

There is it is true a general trend in scripture toward progressive revelation, so that, for example, what we know about the end times from Daniel is greatly expanded in our Lord's "Olivet Discourse" (Matt.24-25; Mk.13; Lk.21), and then even more so by the book of Revelation (that is, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ"). But this expansion is one of detail only, not one of essential truth: Daniel, our Lord, and John teach precisely the same things in every respect (when these passages are correctly understood); it is only that through God's plan of expanding revelation over time we are given to know more details in each successive wave of the unveiling that truth. Thus Jesus didn't "change" anything; rather He fulfilled everything, and everything is fulfilled in Him:

Do not assume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets: I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For what I say to you is the truth: Until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota or one serif will pass away from the Law – until everything has come to pass (i.e., the shadows of the Law fulfilled on the cross).
Matthew 5:18

For Christ is the fulfillment (lit., "end") of the Law, resulting in righteousness for everyone who believes [in Him].
Romans 10:4

So whether it be the Law which foreshadowed Christ, the teachings of Jesus, the incarnate Word, or the detailed exposition of the truth ministered through the Spirit in the rest of the New Testament (cf. Jn.14:26; 15:26; 16:13-15), the message is one message, unified, indivisible, unchanging, and complete, the words of God Himself which witness to the Word, the audible proclamation of the truth and the only means by which men can know the truth.

There are, therefore, two main points I would make on the subject: 1) truth is always the same; the fact that it is progressively revealed does not negate or alter the essential veracity of anything previously revealed in part, and 2) The canon of scripture is now complete, meaning that we have everything we are going to have before we meet the Lord face to face. What that means to me is that we can potentially know everything that John, the last writer of scripture (and those who sat at his feet) also potentially knew. The fact that, for example, there is still a relative ignorance at this late date about much of what the Bible says about eschatology (to take just one doctrinal category – although the same is true in virtually all of them), is not a case of "progressive revelation" when someone figures something out at last, but rather a case of "relative apathy", "sloppy methodology", and "ineffective ministry" over many generations.

Thus I do not buy into the idea that "we weren't" or somehow "still aren't" meant to know everything that is actually contained in the Bible: it is all there for us precisely so that we should know. The fact that we Christians have not been as dedicated and interested and committed to digging out the truth over the centuries does not mean that this was God's "first best purpose" any more than His tolerance of our personal mistakes, errors, sins, and wasted potential means that these are His fault or that this was really what He desired for us first and foremost. Progressive revelation explains much in the fuller expansion of certain doctrinal categories from the Old Testament to the New. It does not excuse ignorance in the Church today (although that is frequently how this truth is misused).

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

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