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Biblical Interpretation XVI

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Question #1:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I was wondering if you could recommend to me any good secular books on church history. Or perhaps not even secular but just something that dives into the history.

Let me know


Response #1:

First, I recommend to you Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church in eight very long and heavily footnoted scholarly volumes (on line at the link).

Shorter but also recommended:

Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church

Kenneth S. Latourette, A History of Christianity

Please keep in mind that these are indeed secular books even if written by individuals who may be (may have been) believers, and they approach things in a non-inspired way. That is to say, "Church History" is the history of the church-visible written by historians who see things as secular historians do. They look for "evidence" of the sort secular historians seek out: documents, reports, inscriptions, etc. What they don't look for – what they could never find – is our Lord's actual history of HIS Church. All believers, those born again, born from above, are part of the actual Bride of Christ. But no one in, say, the Roman Catholic church in the middle ages who was not saved is a member of Christ's true ekklesia. Secular historians tend to overlook this key distinction, so that "what was really important" in, say, the third century, may not be found in any of the works above, because it was the church-visible, not the true Church, which left earthly records.

Is there some overlap between the two? Sometimes. But consider things today. You and I are part of Christ's actual Church. But anyone writing a church history a hundred years from now would have nothing to say about Ichthys (or Bible Academy, or the ministries which have been sown therefrom or many other actually godly ministries contributing to the edification of the actual Church), but they would have a lot to say about churches, groups and denominations which "make news". Rule of thumb there: the less the church/group/denomination is actually doing what Jesus wants, the more likely to be in the news . . . and the more likely to make it into a church history. So you need to keep all that in mind as you read.

The only genuine Church history we have is in the New Testament (the book of Acts in particular). Things that came later, Eusebius, for example, are highly suspect and must be taken with a cellar of salt. How much more so modern church histories which are highly interpretive even of the small amount of information which has come down from the centuries following the NT. Walker, for example, talks about "logos Christianity", by which he means a later development of Christian thought wherein Christ came to be thought of as God as reflected in the gospel of John. It's hard for me to see how a believer could even think that way, but I won't pass judgment on the man. The book is good as far as secular histories go and has been a mainstay in Protestant seminaries for generations. But as this one report should suggest, you're not going to find much biblical truth in these works – and you'd better be prepared to "push back" against a lot of false notions. Hope you are doing well! Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello--Happy 4th of July! I know you are off today so no hurry answering this. A Catholic on CARM posted this:

"It says in the gospel of John, 'Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.'"

She thinks Mary had a sister named Mary, that the "Mary" from the "wife of Clopas" should be the name of Mary's sister. But then this poster said that "sister" here could mean "cousin." I told her there is a perfectly good Greek word for "cousin" which is "anepsios" if I remember correctly. But that is masculine. What is the feminine version of that word? Also, is there anything in the original Greek and its sentence structure that would indicate to whom this "Mary" belongs to? I think it is absurd that Mary's parents would give two daughters the same name, unless one was a stepsister from a previous marriage. But nothing in this verse indicates that.

Thanks and have a healthy and happy 4th!

Response #2:

I'm not sure of the spiritual significance of this question – although the "cousin" angle leads me to believe that poster may be trying to use this as a wedge to "prove" that Mary didn't actually have other children after Jesus. I know RCs want to twist "brothers" and "sister" in Matthew 13:55-56 into "cousins" without any justification, so perhaps poster is looking for some here.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
John 19:26 NKJV

On the question you ask about, it seems pretty clear from this accurate English translation. Moreover, the Greek word is in fact adelphe, sister, NOT "cousin" – for which as you point out there is a perfectly good Greek word (used in the NT at Col.4:10, e.g.; cf. also Lk.1:36 for another acceptable word used to describe that relationship).

In terms of the name of Mary's sister, it is possible to punctuate the Greek text to make her name "Mary" as well, but I do not believe that is correct; I think NKJV above and other versions have it right in taking the second occurrence of "Mary" with what follows: "Mary the wife of Clopas"; leaving Mary's sister unnamed here (which is why she is called "sister" to identify her).

Happy 4th!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Thanks! That is probably what the RC poster was trying to do, too. But just for my notes, what is the feminine version of "cousin" in Greek?

Have a blessed and healthy 4th!

Response #3:

The word is the same as for men, only with a feminine ending (i.e., anepsia instead of anepsios).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:

I’m enjoying the study sessions at church after the service. This week we read a passage which read as follows: “That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.” I wanted to ask questions about this series of events, but the priest beat me to it by discussing the passage. Her sermon had to do with humor in the Bible (and in our readings for that day). Her point was that we read the Bible so soberly that we sometimes forget there are amusing, clever and entertaining moments. She thought this was one. (I thought maybe Peter was so excited at the presence of the Lord that he put on his clothes because he didn’t want to be naked in front of Jesus—but was so anxious to get to Jesus that he jumped into the water and swam towards him.) I don’t think this theory holds up, but I kept thinking about the time I spent on the Oregon Coast fishing in a dory for salmon. I wouldn’t have wanted to fish under those conditions without my clothes on!

Response #4:

We know from vase paintings and otherwise that Greek fisherman and sailors commonly worked "in the buff" because of the heat and sun out there on the water in the lower latitudes. So while Peter's behavior seems backwards to us, it is in fact what someone in that day would expect. I.e., you wouldn't want to be working on a fishing boat clothed – and you wouldn't want to leave your clothes on the boat and be on the shore without them.

I probably should add that "getting dressed" in that day meant pulling on a long t-shirt (chiton) and tying it up with a sash (zone) – sandals optional. But if your sash/belt/girdle was not on and tied, you were considered "not dressed".

Question #5:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have a question on the following verse:

17“Do not cling to Me,” Jesus said, “for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and tell My brothers, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’ ”

Is Jesus speaking here of His future ascension to heaven from Mount Olives, or is this phrase that Jesus spoke of some other ascension event that has not yet occurred prior to His ascension to Heaven from the Mount of Olives?

I was thinking about what I wrote in my previous email and it seems that the scripture in Hebrews 9:22-28 apply to the statement that Jesus made to Mary Magelene about not clinging to Him, for He had to go to the real temple in Heaven to sprinkle His blood on the mercy seat for all those who would believe in the future.

That is the reason for me thinking and asking the question that I presented in the previous email. There are more scriptures in Hebrews chapter 10 that apply. But, just to be sure, I sent you the first email with the second email to support my thinking. I would still want your confirmation that I am on the right track.

I have some other thoughts about what Jesus said, but I am not sure that they are valid, because "it is not written". This thought was that Jesus was going to take His Blood to the Real Temple in Heaven and sprinkle it on the Mercy seat. What are your thoughts?

Thanks so much for your reply.

Blessings to you always,

Your friend,

Response #5:

Good to hear from you as always!

First thing to note is that "sprinkling" in heaven is symbolic (the blood of Christ is not literal blood; see the link: "The Blood of Christ" in BB 4A).

Second, you are correct that there are not "two ascensions". In essence, our Lord did not want Mary, one of the few who truly believed, to be disappointed by the fact that He was very soon to return to heaven and that His resurrection did not also mean that He was going to abide with them all on earth for many years to come.

Here are two links with the details: "Two Ascensions?" and "Jesus' Appearance to Mary Magdalene".

Apologies for the brief response. First day of classes tomorrow. Could have used another week. Do feel free to write back about this, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Ok, I promise this IS my last question (please pardon me). I searched Ichthys with the link in the search bar for this passage but found it nowhere. Has anyone ever asked you about 1 Corinthians 15:29-31? It isn't a passage that bothers me, but it sure bamboozles me! What the heck do these verses mean? I just found out that there have been up to 200 interpretations for this passage throughout the years! Some say it is too vague to give an accurate interpretation, saying we can't necessarily know the answer here. But if it's in the Bible, then isn't it meant to be understood? I'll leave the passage below.

29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:29-31

Response #6:

No worries!

Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?
1st Corinthians 15:29 NKJV

Notice that Paul says "they" not "we" or "you" as is his wont in all of his epistles. In other words, some OTHER people "do this", but not "us". This is a way for Paul to shame the Corinthians for their lack of faith in the resurrection – which is absolutely fundamental to the Christian faith. "If even others who are not really believers but off in some cult activity of pseudo-Christianity believe in the resurrection at least, where is YOUR faith?"

Here is something I've written about this:

For example Paul's description for rhetorical purposes in 1st Corinthians 15:29 of the bizarre practice of being "baptized for the dead" is sometimes, as in Mormonism, wrongly taken to be an endorsement of it, but when all of scripture is taken into account, the idea of intervention for anyone in any way after death is clearly seen to be antithetical to everything scripture states (as well as to the whole purpose for which we are here on earth, namely, to express our choices for God through free-will faith, an opportunity which expires just as soon as we do).

This chapter, 1st Corinthians 15, has a lot of such rhetorical flourishes, such as "if there is no resurrection, then we are liars since we preach that Christ was raised from the dead but that cannot be true if there is no resurrection from the dead", e.g. So we are right to take this as a rhetorical device with the purpose mentioned, namely, to shame the Corinthians by comparing them to unbelievers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Brother Robert

Got a question: while Peter was in prison waiting to be executed I was wondering how many actual soldiers were with Peter would you happen to know.

Like to ask another question how long Rome ruled before Jesus Christ birth? And how long they continued after his Resurrection?


Response #7:

On Peter in Acts 12:4, the Greek says "four tetrads" which ought to mean 16 total. I say "ought to mean" because numerical titles for groups express their official or original T.O.E. which is sometimes different from the "ration strength" at any given moment. A Roman "century" ought to have 100 soldiers but actually had 80 in imperial times, and might have less at any given time in any particular unit.

On the question of "Rome ruling", Rome became an "empire" in terms of its rule even during the Republic since it conquered provinces beyond the Italian peninsula starting with the 1st Punic War in the third century B.C. The Empire per se is usually taken as starting with Augustus' victory over Anthony and Cleopatra at Actium in 31 B.C., but Caesar had actually gained absolute power by the mid 40's (and was, in my view, really the first emperor, albeit assassinated in 44). The western Roman empire fell in the 4th/5th century A.D., but the empire in the east continued, after a fashion, until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. By that time, "Rome" (which no longer included the city of Rome) ruled very little.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

I read what you had in the subject index, but I have to tell you, the description our Lord uses in Job 41 does not sound like an alligator. True, while there are a few similar characteristics that can be ascribed to an alligator/crocodile, there's quite a bit that doesn't fit. People who know, tell me alligators have bad breath bit no smoke or fire and no light coming from their eyes. If Job or one of his friends described it, I would accept it as poetic hyperbole. That the Lord described it is a different matter.

The only translations I have readily available are KJV & NIV. Is either translation accurate? Could it be a description of an antediluvian creature that had degenerated to legend by the time of Job? Stories of Grant's and Sherman's escapades in the south are still alive here five and six generations later.


Yours in Jesus,

Response #8:

You are right that this is the Lord describing the creature – which, aside from the poetic language, sounds precisely like the fearsome African crocodiles I've read about and seen in videos. I have read a lot of ancient poetry, and I have to tell you that this description falls well within the parameters of poetic language. You can call it hyperbole if you wish. What is the difference between this . . .

Smoke goes out of his nostrils,
As from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
His breath kindles coals,
And a flame goes out of his mouth.
Job 41:20-21 NKJV

. . . and this . . .

The breath goes out of his nostrils, like smoke.
As from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
His breath [seems capable of] kindling coals,
And goes out of his mouth like a flame.
Job 41:20-21

. . . aside from the qualifications in the second rendering versus the poetic tropes of the first? It's not like we don't understand the second as what is really meant when we read the first.

The Spirit heard this conversation Job had with his "comforters" and authorized this translation. On the other hand, any prehistoric fossils we may fancifully reconstruct were wiped out when the Lord destroyed Satan's regime on the original earth. None of that previous flora or fauna survived. Everything that exists today is a result of the Lord's reconstruction of the earth and its environment in the seven Genesis days.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

I didn't understand your translation differences from the KJV.  The Lord was angry and as I read it, losing patience.  I took it literally.

In my very limited experience, the only difference between crocodiles and alligators is that crocodiles have a narrow mouth. They're both bad tempered. I wouldn't want to be in the water with either one. It's just difficult to reconcile Job 41 with something I've had for dinner. (Tends to be stringy but otherwise enjoyable.)

My point on antediluvian creatures was not that they survived but the stories of them most probably did. Sometimes I express myself poorly. I apologize.

In our Lord,

Response #9:

I didn't change any of the substance in my translation. I only added a few qualifiers the way we would do if writing prose not poetry. And as for the Lord being angry with Job here (as described also elsewhere in scripture, cf. Ps.18:7ff.), that is also to be taken into account – since it's clearly an anthropopathism, that is, the Bible describing Him and His actions in human terms for us to be able to understand (see the link).

I've spent a lot of time in Florida and alligators are dangerous . . . but they're nothing like African or Asiatic crocodiles. The difference is akin to that of the one between a German Shepherd and a Pit Bull. You wouldn't want to get on the bad side of either one, but the latter would be more apt to have at you . . . and kill you (or at least do serious damage).

I don't know of any differences between the antediluvian and postdiluvian flora and fauna. All fossils come from before the seven days of re-creation (link).

Hope you are doing well, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hello Dr. Luginill,

First, While I was reading Acts chapter 1 verse 13: Comment: The disciples were staying in the "upper room"; the same room that Jesus told them about in Matt. 14:15, unless there is different "upper room"? Second. In Acts 2 verse one, it says that "they" were all in one place, a house. It also says: "When" the day of Pentecost had come. ' Comment: It appears that there was a gap of some time between Acts 1:15 and Acts 1:2. There also in different places, the "Upper Room" in Acts 1 with 120 or so. In Acts 2 they were in a house, and it appears that only the 12 Apostles were there, as it makes no mention of 120. I was always taught that there were 120 or so, on the day of Pentecost, and that they were all in the upper room. It appears that Acts 1 and Acts 2 has been melded together, but the above scriptural facts do not bear that out.

I forgot one important piece of information to include in the previous email on Acts 1 and Acts 2. Acts 2:1 I believe, is used in conjunction with Acts 1:26, which explains who was together on the Day of Pentecost. When the day of Pentecost had come, they [which is referring back to Acts 1:26, explains who was together; the apostles, not the 120 or so, at least that is how I see it. I am always conscious of keeping and considering the correct context, I am always aware, that I accomplish this.

As you may have already discovered, I am a stickler about words, meaning that every word counts, especially when it comes to God's Word. I have been drilling into the lady whom I have been teaching for over 10 years, that you must, must, take every word into consideration, because
they are all important and therefore, that is why they are there, if you get my drift, as they say.

I learned to do this years ago in my previous life, and you know what I mean, because I was responsible for evaluating computer software for companies who wanted to contract with the government. It was part of my job. I feel even more so when I study the Word of God, and that is what I try to convey to those I teach but it still has not taken hold.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Your comments or corrections are always appreciated.

May you have a blessed Christmas day, and a wonderful New Year.

Love in Jesus,

Response #10:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

You are certainly right that every word is important. It is also true that all the biblical historical books have to be interpreted with care since it was (and is) not uncommon to leave out many details, and necessarily so otherwise Acts, e.g., would be larger than an unabridged dictionary (and even so couldn't contain everything; cf. Jn.21:25).

Acts 2:1 says in the Greek epi to auto which means, literally, "at the same [thing]". "In the same place" is not a bad rendering. We find out in the next verse that it was "a house". Who the "all" were at this moment is not told to us. Later Peter stands up "among the eleven" (Acts 2:14). I think it is fair to assume that the group which was together at Pentecost was comprised of more than just the apostles. We're not given a complete roster or a number such as we are at Act 1:15 (120).

I think it is a good observation that the "upper room" seems to be the place where the apostles met; the "same place" house is possibly the place where the larger group met. But Acts 1:15 could also just be an outdoor location or public meeting place (cf. Matt.21:23; Acts 19:9).

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11:

The paradigm on which all scholars used is of selfish interest furthering the agenda of one or the other sects, and this reason at present day we have a diluted or polluted scriptures. If history teaches as something, whenever councils assemble in the name of God, the results are disastrous with little spiritual bearing to work with all these councils argued about who discovered what, when, which cave, or community is in charge, what sounded good for the group or community they were championing etc...clearly there was no love for the word but rather personal agendas.

After going through the links I sent in the previous email, I was swamped by the way these well intentioned misguided scholars or fathers were playing with manual scripts or anything discovered hidden in caves. It seems to them though not present at the time of writing of these "Bible letters, it seems as an easy task to sit in the chambers vote yes or no of what should constitute the bible and we the present embrace it all. I am shocked over reading such a history as above or previously in my mail. What do we have here now? The organised bible is but fairly a shadow of what was meant to be but now the same source of truth is questionable. Indeed we have God but the present Bible is something else."

On another note it seems now that the present day Christianity doesn't have the resemblance of the quondam dissidents that presided in the early church, it has no culture and it's literally just picking about anything in scripture either out of context or otherwise. As I like to say "description is not prescription" and many things especially in the book of Acts are merely descriptive elaborations showing us the background and expansion of the gospel" the early church fathers are to blame in arranging the books in a way they connected the bible as one solid pamphlet or book and for a great number of things being done in the church visible is Odd, How would one or group officiate certain practices with so little appreciation of scripture? The council at Nicea, though praised by the Church, in my opinion did more damage than good, also the Apostolic fathers did the same. Was scripture or the word meant to be canonized as it is or arranged in this way? Was it the design of God? I am aware societies evolve but this standard book called the bible has roots deep in confusion and history shows it all. All these links below stinks of the devil in their midst. intelligently in what may seem righteous the devil used well intentioned fellows to just edit, twist, add, remove or even change entirely scripture. The controversy and peculiar interest in what was said, written and understood is what the devil likes to play around with as witnessed in the book of genesis.

1Jewish canons
1.1Rabbinic Judaism
1.2Samaritan canon
2Christian canons
2.1Early Church
2.1.1Earliest Christian communities
2.1.2Marcion's list
2.1.3Apostolic Fathers
2.2Eastern Church
2.2.1Alexandrian Fathers
2.2.2Fifty Bibles of Constantine
2.2.3Eastern canons
2.3Western Church
2.3.1Latin Fathers
2.3.2Council of Florence
2.3.3Luther's canon and apocrypha
2.3.4Council of Trent

Was the bible meant to be and Organized in the way it is organised?

Response #11:

I heartily endorse your "description is not prescription" applied to the book of Acts: that is absolutely the case and an important fact not taken into consideration by many Christians and Christian groups who want to wrongly assume that if it happened in the book of Acts then its proscriptive for what we should be doing today (see the link: in BB 6B: The Nature of the Book of Acts).

While I agree with your skepticism about the "apostolic fathers" and indeed all "church fathers", and therefore as well about all "church councils", the Bible is something else again. I can assure you that the Bible we have (the Protestant Bible, not the Roman Catholic one), is "THE Bible", God's book, and that you may have absolute confidence in it (correctly translated and interpreted, that is). The organization of the various books therein has not always been uniform, but that is of little moment for Christians who accept the authority of the individual, canonical books, not their placement. You have to remember that in antiquity a "book" was a role of papyrus, a "scroll", and that "books" as we know them today weren't even invented until sometime in the late 2nd to mid 3rd century – probably by Christians who wanted all the "books" in one place, one "book of books", which is technically what "Bible" means, that is, "books" (from the Greek biblia, which is plural). So naturally, since the books themselves are individually inspired – constituting in their entirety the "canon" as we have come to call it – putting them together into one single book of books was not. If you look in any English translation today, it will probably have an index, a forward, some appendices and indices, etc. Clearly, these are not inspired and neither is their placement. The books ARE inspired (in the original languages); not their placement.

As to the canon itself, I have written a great deal about this subject and invite your attention to the following links:

The canon (in "Read your Bible")

The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God

The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God II

The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God III

The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God IV

Text and Canon

BB 7: Bibliology (the largest collection of these writings).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Thank you for the clarification. I will certainly go through and indeed this is something of itself. I'll surely take my time because of the revelation knowledge you've just unleashed in the explanation of the Hebrew epistle no one will ever come again to convince me otherwise of the bygones that have gone with the old testament.

You've been of great help, and I wish there was a more open forum where you could have a wider audience coverage "not saying you don't have but the business of Christianity today is currently suffering a great deal of apostasy and the cocktail that comes with it".

Response #12:

Thank you!

In terms of "forums" (fora), there is an Ichthys forum. If you are interested in participating, I could have the moderator send you an invite.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Greetings Doc once again, in my reading of the links provided above I started with Bibliology (link) being the largest collection, two years ago I pressed through without further consideration of it important doctrinal issues that arises with teaching the word of God, while not an easy task I have again stumbled in what I'd consider bones for the mature Christians. firstly id like to commend, what a work through compiling all that is contained there in.

1) My questions lies somewhere were i read of the ICE in terms of teaching the word, i will start with prophecy since nowadays this is a source of smorgasbords/faking it "from Paul's writings, can we deduce from open reading of scripture that what he meant to the church in Corinthians by encouraging to prophecy was for building his contemporaries during that time since there had not been a completed canon of scripture? what happened then after? did prophecy shift to other areas/places until today? Can we establish a precedent that all kinds of prophecy have ceased both as an office or Gift?

2) How special was the levitical priesthood pertaining to the word of God? Did they pen down scripture or receive special inspiration from God? Did they possess spiritual gifts or other than following the torah? were any of the levites able to function as prophets either in the "spiritual gift or office" in comparison with the priesthood of other prophets who functioned in unique roles such as Enoch, Noah" priesthood", Melchizedek to Abraham, and from Moses to Christ there seems to be a logical pattern that has been greatly missed out in terms of the economy of the word of God.... Can we add on to say that the prophets between (Enoch-Noah did not have access to the old testament laws and teachings in light of minor prophets in between? What's the case with Abraham to Christ and the minor prophets in between? didn't they all have the complete Torah in their grasp?

3) Why was the office of prophet "office" held in high regard instead of the spiritual prophetic gift? from prophets to priest back to the same pattern of prophets to priests, why do we have Apostles and elders in the New testament instead of prophetic and priestly "offices"?

4) what do we have in the Church era" All other generations had cultures but of us in Christ what's our culture like now. Since churches formed early by the Apostles were much and greatly composed of Greeks and Israelis who had some form of organization, reference and understanding of God what then do we have? Is Christianity even a thing organized or an ideology through faith in Christ? Is church "body of Christ '' and Christianity one and the same? From my observation Christianity and church "body of Christ '' are two different from each other if anything one confusing the other. Christianity resembles what I'd term as neo-Judaism" something like Judaism with eased practices and principles of the old testament given a new face for the purpose of inclusion and accepting Jesus".

If the church apart from references of the Apostolic writings in the New testament is robbed of the basis "grounding in formality and formation, the elders left by the Apostles were somehow lazy and didn't do a good Job and my reason is this, firstly they were groomed by an apostolic figure but slacked in writing and expounding instructions just like you're doing, those with special interest like Luke, John-mark did a remarkable Job of preserving and printing the letters but again these letters in themselves sound as descriptive instructions other than prescriptions of how those after would receive and teach the word of God.

Questions: Don't you think more than ever than we still need more the spiritual Gifts such as that of the prophet, Apostle and others Gift necessary to continue guiding and Guarding the truth other pastor-teacher only?

The church is in a very bad state the Judeo-Gnosticism has crept in with the lack of Apostles as in the case of the Jerusalem church which prompted the writing of the letter or epistle to the Hebrews " what a blessing but at the moment we are lost and it meant for some of us that if you do not spend time on the internet then you'll never hear the likes of you Doc and in the third-world were i come from the internet is a luxury and an expense. in short we have a vacuum of leadership and culture. Ever since we started claiming everything spiritual we are thus tumbling to and fro with just about anyone claiming or otherwise Gifted with pastor-teacher Gift.

I have a case , first in the way the epistles are written, it is indicative of the fact that they were doing this in light of what was obtained at that particular time, Now we have a very unique society with cultures unrelated, not to have been considered by the Apostles that other gentiles from different geographical locations would read these letters. From my earthly understanding especially in my profession as a Medical doctor, in our community/gild there seems to be harmonization towards the generation of progress reports of patient, medical notes and other information pertaining a patient that the information can used by different Doctors of all nations and still be able to understand and agree in the context and content contained in the said reports. But what we have from the Apostolic reports is that, there's disharmony in writings but talking about the same truth and peter even agrees that Paul's writings are difficult to understand later on interpret because there's a matter of pronouncing the context, translating/interpreting as well as application.

Response #13:

You've asked a lot here, so apologies in advance if I don't manage to get to everything. One thing I'll say right off the bat is that most of these issues are discussed in detail in the Basics series (link). It may take some digging, but reading through that series from the beginning is not the worst plan.

Here's something I read in scripture:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
Matthew 7:7 NKJV

Since spiritual growth requires truth and since truth is the most important thing in the world (cf. Job 28:12-28), I guarantee you that "knocking" does lead to "finding" where truth is concerned. No one in the history of the world has ever been denied what they needed of the truth . . . if only they really wanted it, if only they were actually willing to search for it to demonstrate that desire, even if it took a little effort, even if it took a little time.

(24) "The God who made the world and everything in it, He is Lord of heaven and earth. He does not dwell in man-made temples, (25) nor is he waited on by human hands, as if He needed anything from us. He is the One who gives us all life and breath and everything else. (26) From one man he created all the nations of mankind – that they should come to inhabit the whole face of the earth. He fixed and determined the specific times and extent of their habitations, (27) to the end that they should seek out this God, that they might go in search of Him and so might find Him – for He is not far off from any one of us.
Acts 17:24-27

God's plan is perfect, and there are no mistakes or accidents or shortfalls of any kind. Everything that happened in the early days of the Church Age and everything that is happening now were anticipated in God's plan and allowances – and provision – were duly made for everyone who wanted the truth. A good link for information on this topic: in BB 4B: Soteriology, section I.2, "The Plan of God for the Salvation of Individual Believers".

In terms of the Bible itself, there is no need to be concerned about some of the things you've asked about here. The Bible is complete and correct in its original autograph because the Holy Spirit inspired every word of it. We have that exact Bible (or so nearly so that it is a difference without a substantive distinction). Best link for that: BB 7: Bibliology, section 3, "The Nature, Perfection and Inspiration of the Bible".

In terms of Bible interpretation, first, it is the Spirit who makes the truth understandable for human beings. Without the Spirit, there is no way any human being could ever properly understand divine truth. That is because everything the fleshly mind perceives is of necessity filtered through the sin nature of our present body. The Spirit is the One who bridges the otherwise unbridgeable "epistemological gap" that has so exercised philosophers over the centuries. Best links for that: B 4B: Soteriology, section II.6.e, "Faith Epistemology", and BB 5: Pneumatology, section II.B.1.d.2, "Gospel Epistemology".

In terms of spiritual gifts, I assure you that there are no prophets today. Prophets, whether occupying that office or having that gift, foretold and forth-told God's truth, whether it was ordained for them to write it down so as to be part of the eternal canon of scripture or not. But now that the canon is complete, now that "the perfect has come" (1Cor.13:10), the partial has been done away with. The same thing is true of other temporary gifts (here's a link on all that: in BB 5: "Temporary Gifts"). The purpose of temporary gifts in the Church Age's early days was to make up for this lack of completeness as a sort of transitional stop-gap until such time as God's complete message was finally completed. The apostles too had it as no small part of their purpose to further the building out of the infrastructure for dispensing the truth (local churches, means of preparation for teaching, and, of course, writing and distribution of the remainder of the canon).

It is certainly true that today things appear to us to be in quite a mess in our lukewarm era of Laodicea precisely because there have been so little "knocking" (and thus so little "finding"). But is God surprised? He ordained all that is happening. Granted, we would like to see everything humming ahead in harmony and peace, but we will have to wait for the Millennium for that it seems. What the "mess" does accomplish, I will add, is just what life in this confusing world has always been meant to accomplish, namely, the sorting out of the hearts of all mankind, demonstrating for all eternity who really loves the truth and who does not – which brings us back to square one.

This all being the case, when we are tempted to get concerned – about anything – we always need to remind ourselves who it is whom we are serving. Jesus Christ. What does He want from us? Spiritual growth, progress and production, a good witness for Him in this world, not just keeping our noses clean but demonstrating to men and angels both that we DO love the truth and desire it more than our daily bread.

I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
Job 23:12 NIV

But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' "
Luke 4:4 NKJV

So the proper response to all such concerns is not to wring our hands but to role up our sleeves . . . in quest of growing as much as we can as soon as we can so as to be personally the best "salt" we can be for Jesus Christ. And that, by the way, is also the best way to prepare for the difficult years ahead.

In Him,

Bob L.
p.s., I sent in a forum request for you. Give the moderator about a week or so, but if you haven't heard anything by then, please do let me know.
p.p.s. Do feel free to write me back about any of the above or about anything you feel wasn't addressed sufficiently.

Question #14:

Hey Professor,

One more question, not to make you write a ton, but my understanding is that you view Matthew to be written before Mark, and so I'm wondering what the main reasons for that are. Maybe you could send me a link or two. Let me know.

In Jesus,

Response #14:

Matthew occurs first in all of the major manuscripts of the Bible that have survived. Matthew was written by an apostle but Mark was written by John Mark, when he was with Peter in Rome much later (viz. there are more Latin loan words in Mark than anywhere else in the Bible if memory serves), with the purpose of making the gospel more accessible to gentile believers. Matthew is longer – Mark is a shorter version of Matthew in many ways. For that to be an argument the other way around, you'd have to believe that Matthew was "made up" and "added stories" – that is what many "scholars" think (and have made a living peddling such lies). Here's a couple of links: "False Theories of Composition" (in BB 7); "Marcan priority" (see Q/A #13).

Question #15:

Dr. Luginbill,

Okay, sounds good. Is there also not much evidence to the idea that Luke and Matthew used a common source for their gospels? I guess this would be the "Q" theory.

Response #15:

As to evidence for "Q", no. In spite of the fact that the New Testament is by far the best documented work surviving from antiquity with literally thousands and thousands of papyri and manuscripts and other evidence for it's text, there is not so much as a single, solitary scrap of papyrus which might relate to some "Q". That hasn't stopped the bulk of unbelieving biblical "scholarship" from embracing this false theory, however.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Professor,

Could you explain to me some of your reasons for the dates you have on the gospels? In particular, could you tell me why you put Matthew before Mark, and also why Luke is before Mark when most people attribute Luke-Acts to early 60s AD, which most people would say is after Mark because "Matthew and Luke used Mark"? How true is the idea that Matthew and Luke both used Mark? There are definitely very close parallelisms in the gospels in certain passages, at least I've read, so how do you reconcile all of this? Any links or help here is appreciated.


Response #16:

As to "most people attribute Luke-Acts to early 60s AD", I think you will find if you look into it a bit that these "most people" do that with no evidence whatsoever. The first thing to say is that we don't know exactly when these books were written, and that, in the history of biblical scholarship, dating has been all over the map. It wasn't so long ago that the scholarly consensus was that the gospels were late, maybe as late as the third or fourth century. That nonsense had to be thrown overboard when fragments began to be discovered which clearly dated to the first century or a little later.

In terms of evidence and proof, I honestly believe that the system I have put forward is superior to the others because it takes all the evidence we do have into account for all the NT books, and doesn't approach the problem one book at a time: we can't take the books out of context of the whole of the NT as is usually done and expect a good result. There is a lot of evidence which can be derived from the interactions between the books, after all. For example, Peter references Paul's epistles (2Pet.3:15-16), James quotes Paul (i.e., Gal.5:17; 5:21 at Jas.4:4-5), Paul quotes Luke (1Tim.5:18b); and we know from Acts and from the various epistles certain information about the travels, lives, and writings of the apostles from which we can (and must) work out a time line as best as we are able (see the link on Paul's life and its chronology in Hebrews Intro). One could go on. The point is that this is not a case of having specific evidence for a specific date in most instances; rather it is a case of moving the pieces of the puzzle around until they all fit – and doing so without having all the pieces we would like to have. That is how I came up with the schema which you find posted at Ichthys, and I will reiterate that in my opinion I have found more pieces and interpreted them better than "most people" (probably because I have more faith that the facts scripture gives us are true than many who have done this) so as to be able to provide a picture that is very solid if not as specific as any of us would like.

"Most people" don't have a very high opinion of divine inspiration or are at least wishy-washy on it. To get to the truth, you have to believe that you are working with the truth rather than operating on doubt (anyone who wants my views on this should read BB 7: Bibliology at the link). One's position on the gospels is where this doubt is often made most clear. There is no reason to doubt them but it is fair to say that most "scholarship" being carried on today at seminaries and theological schools on this subject is all about "form criticism" and related silliness (or it would be silly if it had not so damaged so many people's faith). Form criticism says Mark is first because it is shorter, containing just a lot of fabulous story telling; so Matthew must have expanded Mark as did Luke, with both of them adding more stories they had heard or invented, not to mention John who never actually met Jesus (in the estimation of this godless approach). But – in stark contrast to the method I have employed – there is not a single solitary shred of actual evidence for this stuff which constitutes what "other people" call "biblical scholarship" today. Here is what I write about this in BB 7:

Other objections to the theory of "Marcan priority" discussed above, include the fact that all of the major ancient manuscripts place Matthew before Mark as the first book of the New Testament, a good indication that "Marcan priority" was not a theory known to the early church. Second, the early witnesses, Papias, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus, all report Mark as representing the apostle Peter's point of view, and all have the book written from Rome, a supposition which the gentile rather than Jewish focus of the book and the many Latinisms it contains surely support. Since Peter's traveling to Rome certainly has to post-date Paul's arrival and imprisonment there, that would argue strongly for a later rather than an earlier dating for that gospel, late 50's A.D. at the earliest. In such a case, it is hard to see how it could have preceded Matthew, much less Luke, whose follow-on book, Acts, ends with Paul's imprisonment at Rome. Thirdly, the idea that Mark wrote first does not predate the 19th century (Lachmann 1835), and the only reason this earlier dating is "significant" is its potential for showing that the other gospels are merely derivative. That is to say, the "priority of Mark" really has as its true "evidence" the functional goal of proving that the other three gospels are fictional. But even if Mark did write first (a virtual impossibility given the evidence above), he clearly did not write so much earlier than the apostles Matthew and John or Paul's faithful physician Luke so as to be able to influence them in any way – even if they had been of a mind to copy him. The "Marcan hypothesis" had as a critical part of its foundation the assumption that none of the gospels were really written by the first generation of Christians as they claim to be and were in fact very late, as late as the third or even fourth century (depending upon the theory). That is not a defensible position nowadays as portions of the last gospel, that of John, for example, have been found in papyri which date to as early as the late first century.

There are parallels in the gospels. That is all to the good. That is true in any two histories of any period. The difference in terms of the gospels is that everything has been divinely inspired so that we are blessed to have multiple perspectives. They don't contradict each other – which competing secular histories always do. We don't take the fact that Chronicles and Kings overlap and contain similar information as a reason to doubt scripture; same is true of the gospels in spades.

There are a lot of aspects to your email and it would take several doctoral dissertation to cover all aspects of it. I would strongly urge you to read BB 7 and the intro to the Hebrews series as these will provide a good background to your underlying concerns – if not every answer you're looking for (links).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob,

I've been using the home page at Ichthys because it's easier to remember and shorter to type. (Ex Unix bit whackers hate typing:) This week the label was last week's. The link, naturally, worked correctly. It was only the label that was missed.

My question for the week is: do we know who wrote Psalm 119? It reads like a Psalm of David. David's Psalms have a tendency to call for the destruction of his enemies, (with which I can sympathize) while Asaph's and others rarely do. Also, does "gimel" have any further meaning than "the letter gimel?"

I pray your new year is pleasant and fruitful.

In our Lord,

Response #17:

Thanks for pointing that out, my friend! There are about fifty steps in posting and it's not unusual for me to forget one (or even two).

On Psalm 119, it doesn't say who wrote it. David does write acrostic psalms such as this one. E.g., Psalms 9-10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112 and 145 are all acrostics, and of these, David is said to be the author of Psalms 9, 25, 34, 37 and 145, while the others (10, 111, 112, and this one, 119) are anonymous. Psalm 10 does occur in the first book of psalms which are said to be David's so without other attribution we can assume that he wrote that one as well. This (acrostic organization) was a common literary technique and one that aided in memorization, that is, beginning the verse or section with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in sequence made it easier to recall what came next.

So "gimel" would be the third verse/section in any acrostic composition since it is the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet (just as "gamma" which comes from the same alphabet originally, is the third letter in the Greek alphabet).

While it is true that the letters were originally pictograms, there is no sense of their original meaning in any use of the letters by the time the Bible is written. So just as when we use or say the letter "G" in English we are not thinking of camels, the same is true for "gamma" in Greek and even "gimel" in Hebrew (although "camel" is essentially what the letter means and represented, originally being an inverted "V" depicting the camel's hump).

Wishing you a blessed 2023 as well, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Bob, I didn't realize you were a survivalist. I like your Greek life lesson. I follow those guidelines for the most part. My description is more wordy. The Greek version is more succinct. I'll adopt it as my own. Thank you!

I reread 13 & 14 in light of your comments and that brought me to 15 - The Burden of Moab. Moab has always confused me. First, they were enemy, later friends (Ruth?) and still later an enemy and so on.

What was Moab's relationship with Israel?


Yours in our Lord,

Response #18:

Moab was an inveterate enemy of Israel – as only close relations can be (same was true of Ammon and Edom). Ruth was an exception as was the situation where David sent his family there when he was hiding in the desert from Saul. There were thus some individual connections which were friendly (i.e., I have Chinese friends), but the countries themselves were always either engaged in open hostilities or a tenuous peace.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Dr Luginbill, I pray all is well with you.

I had a question about King Ahaziah.

Was Ahaziah 22 years old (2 Kings 8:26) or 42 years old (2 Chronicles 22:2) when he started his reign?

Response #19:

Hello Friend,

Good to hear from you.

If the reading of 2nd Chronicles 22:2 were correct, it has been pointed out that this would make him older than his father (based on 2Chron.21:20). So there is probably a mistake in the text there. Numbers are particularly prone to textual mistakes since to save space in antiquity all three languages with which we are concerned (Hebrew, Greek, Latin) often used letter or symbol representations instead of spelling out the numbers (which is the convention now in modern productions of the biblical text, Hebrew and Greek).

In the archaic Hebrew alphabet (as opposed to the later "square script"), the letters kaph (representing 20) and mem (representing 40) are virtually indistinguishable and easily confused out of context, so I suspect that this is the origin of the error. If so, it is an ancient mistake, dating back to before the exile, and thus evidence that the biblical text is as old as it purports to be (which, of course, it certainly is).

We are blessed to have a second witness to Ahaziah's age here so as to be able to say with certainty that he began his reign at age 22 (although we probably would have conjectured that or something similar in any case based upon 2Chron.21:20).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #20:


Response #20:

David really is a paradigm for anyone who is lonely and alone. As a boy, he was "off with the sheep" even when Samuel came to visit (a never before big event for the family), and no doubt spent many lonely nights. We know he killed a lion and a bear, so he was VERY alone out there in the wilderness – a situation not apparently shared by his brothers: they even gave him a hard time when he brought them supplies in the army (1Sam.17:28-29). And we don't hear of him visiting his family after entering Saul's service. Even then, he had to wait quite a while for a wife and she was a questionable one (when he got her back, we recall, she was dismissive of him: 2Sam.6:20). Jonathan was his only real friend, and we notice that he didn't follow David into exile but chose to stay with his father Saul instead. Yes, David had a pretty lonely life from beginning to end, even when he was surrounded by others. He was unloved for the most part his entire life – but He loved the Lord and the Lord loved him – and could anything be better than that?

"After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.' "
Acts 13:22 NIV

We all have the same opportunity to draw near to the Lord as David did. Something to think about whenever we feel slighted or lonely or unappreciated by human beings.

In terms of his early life, here are a couple of links to things I've written and posted already:

David alone

David the unwanted

David our role model

Being close to the Lord was sufficient for David – more than sufficient. And that can be true for us as well, no matter how bereft we may be of close human companionship in this life.

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Psalm 16:8 KJV

In Jesus,

Bob L.


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