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Biblical Interpretation VII

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Question #1:

You wrote: Comparing salvation to physical progress along a route is common in scripture (e.g., Ps.84:5-7; 118:19-27; 119:176; Matt.7:13-14; 21:32; 22:16; Mk.12:14; Lk.13:24-25; Jn.14:4; Acts 9:2; 19:9; 19:23; 22:4; 24:22).

Did you list Ps.118:19-27 due to 'entering through the gates' being mentioned?

Response #1:

Yes, and also because it is symbolic of our Lord's journey to Calvary, both broadly in terms of His life and ministry, but also in terms of His actual suffering in the final days (ending at the "altar" of the cross). Our Lord, moreover, is "the Gate" through which we enter onto the road to Zion (Jn.10:7ff.).

Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
Psalm 118:19 NIV

Question #2:

You explained Ps.118:19: (19) [Messiah speaks:] "Open for Me the gates of righteousness (i.e., the eastern gate of Jerusalem and the gate of the temple facing east)!

How do we know it's going to be the eastern gate?

Response #2:

Because of, for example, Ezekiel 43:1-9 (cf. Ezek.10:19; 46:1; 46:12). The temple and its entrances and entire orientation are eastward:

Then the man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east, and it was shut. The LORD said to me, "This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered through it."
Ezekiel 44:1-2 NIV

Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
Psalm 24:7-8 NIV

Question #3:

What is meant by 'outside the gate' in Hebrews 13:12?

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

Response #3:

Our Lord was crucified outside the wall of the city in fulfillment of the prophecy of the sin offering which was burned outside the city (Lev.4:12; 4:21). The city is the place of fellowship, and in the New Jerusalem, God's ultimate city, we who have chosen for Jesus will have eternal fellowship with Him and the Father forever. In this world and in this life, however, in order to follow our Master it is necessary to eschew fellowship and friendship with this world (e.g., Jas.4:4; 1Jn.2:14-17). So we are "outcasts" in the world's eyes (1Pet.1:1-2), but members of the very Body of Christ in the eyes of God.

Question #4:

Regarding the outside the gate in Hebrews 13:12 you wrote: Our Lord was crucified outside the wall of the city in fulfillment of the prophecy of the sin offering which was burned outside the city. The city is the place of fellowship, and in the New Jerusalem, God's ultimate city, we who have chosen for Jesus will have eternal fellowship with Him and the Father forever. In this world and in this life, however, in order to follow our Master it is necessary to eschew the fellowship and friendship with this world (e.g., Jas.4:4; 1Jn.2:14-17). So we are "outcasts" in the world's eyes (1Pet.1:1-2), but members of the very Body of Christ in the eyes of God.

I wanted to know your take on the following interpretation of Hebrews 13:12-14 that is a result of what you wrote and my understanding of these passages based on it:

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.14 For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

a) As you wrote, our Lord suffered 'outside the gate', as he was a sin offering and the city is a symbol of fellowship with God and holiness.

b) So if we believe in Him, we bear His reproach outside of the city. This is where there is the 'twist' in the meaning of what city is, as city is the symbol of fellowship, and that's why the sin offering was given outside the gate and the sacrifice of our Lord took place outside also.

But the fact that we have to suffer outside the camp has to do with the fact that 'the camp' today is devil's place, and as you wrote we are 'outcasts' in it. So the sin offering was taking Jerusalem as a symbol of holiness and fellowship - and that's why sin offering was given outside of it, but we bear our Lord's reproach outside of the city today, as the 'city' of today is of the devil and the righteousness that comes as a result of faith in our ultimate sin offering is not of today's world, but rather something that few believe in, a matter that makes those who believe outcasts.

c) This I think Paul puts together by verse 14. If the city in which we were living now was 'the lasting city' then by believing in our Lord's suffering we wouldn't be outside of it, but inside it, as through it we obtained righteousness in God's eyes. Paul says 'let us go outside the camp, for here we do not have a lasting city', meaning - if it was the 'lasting city which is to come', then we wouldn't be going outside of it.

Let me know what you think of that. I think there are two ways to approach it - one, emphasizing what you wrote and what served as a foundation to the interpretation I shared above, which is that 'bearing His reproach outside of the city' refers to being outside of the world. But maybe there is another (and quite opposite) one also - meaning that we are to go 'outside of the city', as we are sinful ourselves and we need to realize about this and 'go outside', and if we go outside, this is where we will find the offering for our sin.

Hopefully I made my thoughts clear there, let me know what you think.

Response #4:

Yes, I think you have this exactly right, and this is not the only place where Paul draws this distinction. As Paul also says in the previous chapter, we have not come to the earthly, legalistic Jerusalem, but "you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, etc." (Heb.12:22 NIV), and in the book of Galatians:

Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
Galatians 4:25-26 NIV

Question #5:

Regarding "between two evenings" you wrote:

Evening means evening. So "between the evenings" can hardly mean mid-afternoon. The author makes a big deal out of Deuteronomy 16:6, but here is what it actually says: "at evening, according to the departure of the sun". This is as good an explanation for the two evenings as we are going to find. "Evening" comes first, and that word has to do with the initial part of the night; then comes "according to the departure of the sun", so that would have to do with the complete departure of the light. Author cites Josephus (notoriously wrong about so many things) and Rabbins (who are suspect because they would be wanting to allow earlier sacrifices as a practical matter). The symbolism is really what is important, namely, the twilight. Jesus bore the sins of the world in darkness, at a time that was neither night nor day – "between the evenings".

I know I keep coming back to it, but this expression still isn't clear to me. Why is the twilight expressed in this way? Why is it "between the evenings"? How did the Israelites understand evening? If we say that evening is any time of the day (let's say between 18:00 and 19:00), then "between the evenings" can mean any time between one and another (so any time between 19:00 - the end of one evening, and 18:00 the following day), but that wouldn't make it a specific point in time, but rather a longer period of a 24 hours day, in the example given it would be a period of 23 hours.

Response #5:

In my view there are symbolic reasons for this. When our Lord was crucified, it wasn't at night, but it wasn't day either since the sun was darkened for the three hours wherein He bore the sins of the world. Parallel to this, when He returns . . . "It will be a unique day—a day known only to the LORD—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light" (Zech.14:7 NIV), so that the variation between light and dark and the area where the two are in direct "conflict", so to speak, is symbolic of our Lord's struggle against and victory over all of the forces of the evil one strategically at the cross (this was the victory that made everything else possible), and tactically at the second advent (this is when He takes up His reign). Besides, one cannot get too specific because the exact period between sunset and darkness varies (with time of year and location). As to the reason for this particular expression, the first "evening" is sunset; the second "evening" is darkness; our twilight is "[the time] between".

Question #6:

How is it that we will not be capable of sin after the resurrection? Will we not have free will? And if we will still have the free will, is there no risk that we sin?

Response #6:

In resurrection, we will not have a sin nature. Consider the case of Adam and Eve, who, though not in eternal bodies lacked a sin nature, were incapable of sinning except in one way only: by violating the one negative command that the Lord God gave them. Such will it be with us too on that glorious day only more so: 1) our bodies will be eternal and indestructible, "spiritual bodies", that is, "bodies attuned to the spirit" in a way in which was never true of human bodies before; 2) there will be no "tree of knowing good and evil", no test of our free will, no means of demonstrating whether or not we prefer the Lord or the world . . . indeed, the "world" itself will have passed away in the eternal state, revealing a universe "where only righteousness dwells". So while I cannot give all the particulars (there is much we shall have to experience to truly understand), it is biblically correct to say that 1) we will have no capacity for sin, and 2) we will have no opportunity for sin. I believe I am also with in my rights to say that we will have absolutely no inclination to sin and that therefore there will be no temptations of any sort in eternity (nor any means or manner or method to act upon them if there were). We will not have "free will" in the sense of having a choice about our eternal future because at that point our eternal future will be blessedly secure, already having been unalterably decided by our choosing for Jesus Christ and staying faithful to Him in this life. I am sure we will still be "choosing" but not in a moral way (i.e., which of the fruits of the tree of life do we want to eat at this moment, or similar).

Question #7:

NIV SB contains a graph of Paul's fourth missionary journey. I have a few questions regarding the itinerary presented there:

Crete is one of the places Paul visited and this conclusion is based on Titus 1:5 (NASB):

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,

Do you think this passage allows to hypothesize that Paul visited Crete?

Response #7:

The "history" of Paul's journeys is not easy to reconstruct, and that of Titus is even more problematic. The biblical testimony is of course true, but as with ancient history generally we find ourselves trying to arrange critical pieces in a large mosaic when we only possess perhaps five or ten percent of the whole. We know that Paul did land on Crete on the way to Rome. The wording in Titus 1:5 could account for Paul "leaving him behind" at that time (cf. "we" in Acts 27:2). It seems that some considerable time was spent on Crete (Acts 27:9). Given that Paul's centurion guard was in the habit of allowing Paul a lot of leeway, it is certainly possible that he and his company were engaged in evangelism with the community there, and that Titus was "left behind" to carry on the work. Whether Paul might have made other travels to the island, perhaps on the way to or from Asia or Jerusalem during the "second" or "third" journeys or at some other time is hard to say.

Question #8:

Regarding Romans 5:12 you wrote:

Romans 5:12 is what is technically called an "anacolouthen" (aka a grammatical non sequitur). Paul does not finish the thought because it is unnecessary to do so once he gets to the point at the end of the verse where he breaks off the incipient construction and moves on to explain the next point.

I came across an interesting hypothesis whereby the thought left in this verse Paul resumes in verse 18. I'm aware this is quite distant in the passage, but it does seem to make at least some sense. What is your view?

Response #8:

It's certainly true that throughout this chapter Paul states the same essential idea of the contrast between universal sin and transcendent grace in a variety of ways, and also true that he does this (again) in verse 18. However, I don't see verse 18 as picking up the grammar from verse 12 (and I'm not sure how that even could or would be signaled in Greek).

Question #9:

I would like to understand the nature of our spiritual body. On the one hand Paul says:

1 Corinthians 15:50 (NASB) Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

On the other, based on John 20:27 it seems that our Lord's body after the resurrection was at least to a degree reminiscent of His earthly body:

John 20:27 (NASB) Then He *said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing."

Could you clarify?

Response #9:

What may be known about the resurrection body I have collected at the following links:

The Resurrection Body (in Pet.#20)

The Resurrection Body (in BB 4A)

The Blessed Eternal State of the Saved (in CT 6)

In my opinion, there is no contradiction between Paul and John on this point. Paul says that what is "perishable" cannot inherit the kingdom, but the resurrection body will not be perishable. He also says that "flesh and blood" will not endure, but by this he means the present earthly body which he has just contrasted with the eternal body. I do think it is fair to conclude that the eternal body will not need blood – but it will have "flesh and bone", just as in the case of our Lord (Lk.24:39).

Question #10:

Could you clarify Psalm 2:7 (NASB):

7 "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
In particular, what is meant by "Today I have begotten You"?

If this refers to our Lord's physical birth, then why does Peter quote this verse in the context of resurrection rather than birth in Acts 13:32-33 (NASB):

32 And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You.'

I also heard an interpretation according to which Psalm 2:7 refers to the resurrection and Romans 1:4 is given as a reference to support this teaching:

Romans 1:4 (NASB)
4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Please clarify.

Response #10:

In Acts 13:33, Peter explains how the Father fulfilled the all-encompassing promise of verse 32: "by having raised up Jesus". So the resurrection is the divine seal of approval on our Lord's sacrifice which has brought the promise of salvation to pass (even though parts of that fulfillment have yet to be seen and await the second advent and the resurrection of the Church). That is what Paul says too in Romans 1:4: the resurrection is a means of "marking Jesus out" as genuinely being the Son of God. The resurrection is the proof. So what Peter means by quoting Psalm 2:7 is "the resurrection proves that Jesus whom you put to death is God's Son, that the decree of Psalm 2:7 is about Him, because Jesus was resurrected, the very mark of being the Messiah". That is why the argument does not stop here but goes on in the following verses to give the details of the prophesied resurrection of the Messiah.

Question #11:

Thanks for your explanation the meaning of Romans 4:15 is clear to me, but what I cannot understand is why Paul makes this particular point at this particular place. He says that the promise to Abraham was through the righteousness of faith (verse 13) and how this is not changed by the appearance of the Law (verse 14). How does verse 15 links to his discussion about justification through faith which is the theme of the whole chapter? Should we understand it as a digression?

Romans 4:13-15 (NASB) For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

Response #11:

I think the point is that much of Paul's audience was relying on the Law, and he is taking pains to demonstrate that it is defective as an "instrument of salvation" in every way, save for its revealing of man's sinfulness and need for a Savior. After being given, it is an "instrument of wrath", not life; and it did bring this revelation of wrath/sinfulness about since there were no such violations (of particular stipulations in the Law) before the Law existed.

Question #12:

Regarding James 2:24 I wanted to ask a) if whether based on the question in verse 14 ("Can that faith save him?") we could take "justify" which appears later in the passage as relating to providing salvation rather than "proving faith valid"? b) Would you say it's possible to take "faith" from verse 24 as relating to an intellectual appraisal of God's existence (19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.), but not to a genuine belief in salvation which comes through Him? So then verse 24 would mean:

24 You see that a man is justified by works (which prove that one genuinely believes in God and in the means He provided for us to be saved and reconciled to Him) and not by faith alone (faith alone relating to an intellectual appraisal of God's existence).

Let me know what you think.

Response #12:

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

So on b), the above is the way I would wish to see this as well: "not by faith alone" means that all true faith produces; if there is no production (at all), then there is no true belief, because genuinely believing in Jesus Christ changes us on the inside and will not fail to have at least some fruit in the Holy Spirit (even if it only amounts to stray prayer here or there). As I say, this is motivational material. It is absolutely true, theologically (correctly understood, that is), but James' purpose is to fire up the spiritually lazy among his listeners. That is one of the many "corrections" James is trying to achieve with this epistle.

Question #13:

Would it have been evil for Abraham to actually kill his own son since it is God who told him to do so?

Response #13:

We should always do what the Lord tells us to do, and in a case like this where He has given verbal orders in a personal way, we can be absolutely sure that He knows what He is doing and we need not question at all. In fact, that was the whole basis of the test. For a great believer like Abraham, someone who really walked with the Lord closer than we probably have any idea, no regular test of the normal human kind would be able to properly bring out the depth of his faith. The Lord did not want Isaac killed, did not plan on having Isaac killed, and did not in fact allow Isaac to be killed. But He did put Abraham in a position of having to trust Him in a situation where probably no other human being who has ever lived would have reacted in this way of perfect faith. To pass this test, Abraham had to believe that the Lord was just, and righteous, and right, and good, when to all the world what He was telling Abraham to do was wrong – not mention that if carried out it would, to the world's eyes, destroy everything Abraham had ever wanted and everything he would ever have. In other words, more than any other test of anyone else, Abraham had to trust the Lord against everything he knew, saw, felt, loved, wanted, desired, even believed. And the record shows that he did so without any wavering whatsoever, not even petitioning the Lord to "change His mind". The book of Hebrews gives us an insight into Abraham's thinking here:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
Hebrews 11:17-19 NKJV

Abraham was confronted with two things that were true but which seemed to be contradictory: 1) He knew that God's character was perfect, and that His promise of Isaac as his heir was unchangeable; 2) and yet God was commanding him to sacrifice Isaac. To Abraham, this meant that the Lord would have to immediately bring Isaac back to life thereafter, something Abraham believed completely the Lord could do and would do. In this we see the essence of mature faith: believing in the Lord and all of His promises irrespective of circumstances or apparent contradictions, and persevering in faith when anyone operating with the eyes of the world instead of the eyes of faith would stop, turn around, and run for the hills. This is why "all who are of faith are sons of Abraham" (Gal.3:7), because he is our perfect model of a faith that cannot be broken. Regardless of the pressure placed upon it, such faith will trust that God is right in what He is doing, and that He is working it all out for good, even if "the mountains are falling into the heart of the sea" (Ps.46:2).

Question #14:

Dr. Luginbill:

Greetings from hot and 'humid' Tucson, AZ-at least during our monsoon season.

I find the two genealogies' of Jesus from Matt.1:1-17, Joseph's genealogy (and royal blood line) from David to Joseph and Luke's genealogy from Lk.3:23-38 (Mary's royal bloodline) starting with Joseph back to Adam very fascinating. Years ago, I inverted Luke's genealogy and followed it from Joseph to David. in both genealogies. Some people in both 'royal blood lines' matched but others did not. How awesome God is to include in one case a harlot in our Lord's royal blood line. If you cover this in your writings or know of someone who does, please let me know.

From our first correspondence, you sent a link to 'Giants and Nephilim....and I went to a sub-link entitled 'The Origins of anti-christ'. Bro. Michael Jacob has done a study on a controversial subject but has done it in a, I think, humble way. (link below) He suggests that Eve was seduced by both satan and Adam and had twins-Cain was born first and then Able. He argues that since Cain is not mentioned in Adam's genealogy-Gen. Ch. 5, that the 'serpent's seed' came from Cain and the generations that followed carried the seed. I would appreciate any thoughts on this issue.

THE FIRST SEED - a hidden truth http://www.wogim.org/bookseed.htm

Thank you,

Response #14:

I guess you all are happy for any water you get down there, even if it's only hanging in the air.

Here are two "giants" links (sorry for any confusion but the subject is discussed numerous places at Ichthys since it often comes up in any discussion of the nephilim):

The Origin and Fate of the "Giants" of Genesis Chapter Six

Giants and Nephilim, Sumerian Myths, and Sea Monsters

As to the two genealogies, the main reason for the difference between Luke and Matthew is that Luke gives Mary's genealogy and Matthew gives Joseph's. Here are some links on this:

Genealogies of Christ

"Trophies of Grace" in the Genealogies of Christ

The Son of David (including a discussion of the genealogies)

The Place of Christ's Birth (including a discussion of the genealogies)

Eve was seduced by Satan, not Adam, into literally eating the literal fruit of the tree of knowing good and evil.  There was nothing sexual about it (see the link).  Cain and Abel were not twins (see the link).  The serpent's seed is antichrist (see the link).  While it is true that believers and unbelievers are vitally incompatible with each other, in terms of the prophecy it is ultimately between this (singular) seed of the devil and the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, that there is metaphysical enmity – culminating in the battle of Armageddon at the second advent. Finally, while there was demonic infiltration of the human race prior to the flood, that all happened later, and not in the case of Eve who was saved along with Adam – as evidenced by their acceptance of the coats of skin which foreshadowed the sacrifice of Christ (see the link); but that satanic seed was completely obliterated and annihilated by the great flood (one of the flood's primary purposes).  There is no biblical record (or other evidence) of any other cases of such mixing of angelic and human seed before or since . . . with the single exception of the beast, and possibly also of the ten kings who serve him (see the links).

Hope this helps.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Why was Elisha ashamed in 2 kings 2: 17 as I read he was told by Elijah and 2 more times of him being taken but yet he sent out the men to look was there doubt in him do to his shame? thanks

Response #15:

In my reading of this passage, Elisha knew full well that Elijah had been taken up to heaven and that he could not and would not be found. As he says later, "Did I not say to you, 'Do not go'?" (v.18). But the company of prophets loved Elijah, had not seen him taken up, and had not the same depth of faith as Elisha did. By refusing their request, Elisha must have felt that they were taking it ill that no search party could be formed, and that he would seem "not to care" about whatever might have happened to Elijah. In that situation, he became ashamed "not to grant" their request. I don't think this was sinful in any way; it was merely a loving accommodation to believers with less faith. God allowed it to happen, no doubt as a further proof, both to them and to us, that Elijah really was taken up to heaven.

It's not long now until he finally returns (link: "the two witnesses").

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

Is ישועתה in Psalm 3:2 one of those archaic genitive forms?


Response #16:

That's what the Masora say about these sorts of form; according to Gesenius, they are locative (i.e., directional). But his comment is the important thing: "elsewhere [as in our example] it (i.e., this ending) has become meaningless and is used merely for the sake of poetic emphasis". It is very common in poetry in all languages to use archaic forms which have similarly had their meaning lost or misconstrued.

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob,

How Do I Read Hebrew Poetry? Has anybody reconstructed meter for Hebrew poems? And if you can't answer this question succinctly, please direct me to resources.


Response #17:

Short answer: many have tried, but no one has developed an all-inclusive system able to stand the test of serious inspection. In the nineteenth century there were various attempts to relate Hebrew poetry to classical schemes (but Hebrew is clearly not the same); the traditional cantillation marks are also late developments which do not reflect the canons of the time of writing; the default position at present is that Hebrew poetic responsion is mostly meaning based (as in A = A or A /= B). My own feeling is that poetry is more than disciplined form and that the language is the key to its appreciation in Hebrew (poetic vocabulary, figures of speech, vivid imagery); that is to say, we can tell that the prophet has shifted into a poetic register without necessarily seeing that reflected in some predictable and regularized scheme – though it is absolutely true that poetic sentences are shorter and usually paratactic in contrast with prose wherein the periods are longer and tending to be hypotactic. A loose analogy might be contemporary English poetry which in terms of structure bears literal resemblance to classical forms – and yet is unmistakably poetic, clear from its diction and modes of expression.

Hope that was succinct enough. There is a good article on this in The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible (under "Poetry"; see also the additions in the supplementary volume).

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ who is the Word of God.

Bob L.

Question #18:

Dear Bob,

Could you please clarify verse 3 of Psalm 15?

Psa 15:3. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. (KJV - This is the version that makes the most sense to me.)

The NIV translates "backbiteth" as "slander." Even the most extreme definition of backbite as used in King James day is still different than slander. "Doeth evil" is translated "does no wrong." "Doeth evil" seems much more specific. Also, KJV "reproach" is translated as "slur." Again, two different meanings.

I can sympathize with translation difficulties but this apparent difference in verse three suggests to me that the original is different than either. How would you translate this verse?

As an aside, it's always a shock to see my questions come back in weekly email posts. Thank you for your patience and willingness to answer my questions. I hope your answers to my questions are as helpful to others as were for me. Your answers to others have certainly helped me.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #18:

You're welcome, and thank you for your interest.

As to translating this psalm, most all translations, including the ones you reference, give the same general "gist", so I would be reluctant to pronounce any of them absolutely "wrong". The idea clearly is that sins of the tongue are sinful and wrong, and that the righteous man restrains his tongue (cf. James chapter three). As to specifics, the root rgl in Hebrew is "trafficking" or "going about talking about" – so "slander" is a good way to put it. "Backbiting" is no longer common in modern American English so that we would have to first define that word in order to say whether or not it is an accurate rendition of rgl. As to "evil", the word ra' in Hebrew means "bad" in every way we use the word in English, and only really "evil" if the "bad" is of an extreme nature. This distinction, so important in English, really doesn't exist in Hebrew. The LXX has kakon here fore ra', so "does wrong" (rather than "evil") seems to be that translator's interpretation – and that seems right to me. In the 16th cent. "evil" was not necessarily "evil" as we define it today (English is always in flux as with any language). Finally, cherpah is "reproach" or "shame", so the final phrase means "does not lift up a reproach / shameful accusation (accusation of shame) against his neighbor". This can be a slur, in one way of thinking about it. Inevitably, when translations try to make things meaningful for their readers (which is a harder task than being overly "literal"), they often over-specify and lose a little something. But then something is always lost in translation.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

 Hi Bob,

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. (Jeremiah 13:22)

I believe that the above verse teaches that the predisposition of sin (represented by the word 'accustomed') is akin to the genetic predisposition of skin color or fur patterns. Currently outside of Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park. It is beautiful here, and the air is good.


Response #19:

This is really a conditional:

Can the Ethiopian can change his skin or the leopard its spots? [if so] then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.
Jeremiah 13:23 NKJV [expanded]

The word "accustomed" here is actually the pual participle of lamadh so that I would prefer to translate something like "[you] who have been taught to do evil" – and they have accepted that teaching/training. At such a point, repentance (literally, a serious change of thinking patterns) is unlikely. However, it is well to consider that the whole purpose of our Lord giving His people this verse was to challenge them to do exactly that: change. The natural response to such a challenge is to take it up and reject the premise (especially for a contrary people); the result of exploring the possibility that they could, in fact, change – if that really was their hearts desire – should have been and could have been a return to the Lord. So what we have here is some very powerful and divinely sanctified persuasive rhetoric. This is just another example of the lengths our Lord goes to in order to restore those who are falling away, even when they are at the point of being very unlikely to be willing to accept that restoration.

Good to hear you're enjoying your vacation!

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello Dr Luginbill, I pray all is well.

I've read ch 17-18 of Judges a few times and I was having a hard time understanding the bizarre stories in them.

1) Who was this Micah?

2) Why did he need or want his own priest?

3) Although he seemed knowledgeable about the laws of God, why did he have graven images made?

4) Stealing idols seems to be a reoccurring theme in the Bible, in this story why did the Danites steal them?

5) overall, what is the summary of these two chapters of Judges, and what are we as Christians to learn from this complex OT stories?

Thanks as always

Response #20:

These things actually took place, exactly as recorded in scripture, so that is the reason, on one level, that the story reads as it does. The other reason, that it is, the reason no doubt that the Spirit has chosen for us to have this story included, is to show how far even a people specially chosen by God can wander from the truth when said truth is not their first priority. Here is what I read at the end of this narrative in Judges, a comment on the whole period but on this set of events in particular:

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Judges 17:6 NKJV (cf. Jdg.21:25)

So as to the specific questions, Micah was no one in particular and he certainly did not need his own priest – he should have sought counsel from the Levitical priests, had he desired spiritual guidance. The way he acted was in a way not much different from the pagans living around the Israelites in those days. We may compare Roman Catholicism styling itself Christian while acting in a way in all things equally detached from biblical truth. The Danites were no better, and we may compare the religious wars of the post-Reformation period where little Christianity seems to have been involved for the most part even as much blood was spilled in that name. What we can learn, therefore, is that the names, the paraphernalia, the trappings, the offices, the rituals of our faith – or in most cases which have accreted to our faith – are really nothing, less than nothing; indeed, they are a substitute for the truth of the scriptures which is spiritual and powerful . . . for those who seek it out, believe it and choose to live by it.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Bob,

On Psalm 2:5: Should you parse the sentence as (ובחרונו יבהלמו) (אז ידבר אלימו באפו), 

or (אז ידבר אלימו (באפו ובחרונו) יבהלמו)?


Response #21:

Option "A" is the way the Masoretes understood the verse, and I think that in this case the judgment is correct. What we have here in the verse is a virtual hendiadys – or perhaps better put a hendiadys within a hendiadys. It's beautiful poetic architecture, really: A a b B, with the lower and upper case elements virtually interchangeable. Nicely translated by the KJV:

Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Psalm 2:5 KJV

Yours in our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hi Bob,

Can you give me your opinion on the interpretation that the 'tablet of commandments' given to Moses is in Exodus 34, not the traditional 10 commandments?


Response #22:

It says at Exodus 34:28:

And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

. . . which seems pretty clear to me; that is, these are the same "ten words" or commandments found and referenced everywhere else.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

The list in Exodus 34 are not the 10 commandments that I was taught in Sunday school. The list in Exodus 34 is the list that God told Moses to engrave in stone, and are explicitly called the 10 commandments. The 10 commandments in Exodus 34 are the following:

(1) You shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their Asherah poles.

(2) You shall worship no other god; for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

(3) You shall not make molten gods.

(4) You shall observe The Feast of Unleavened Bread

(5) All the firstborn of your sons are to be redeemed, and the first born donkey are to be redeemed with a lamb.

(6) Six days you shall work, but on the seventh you shall rest.

(7) You shall observe The Feast of Weeks

(8) The men of Israel are to appear before me three times a year.

(9) You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning.

(10) You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

Contrary to the previous list, the 10 commandments as we were taught in Sunday school are the following:

(1) You shall not worship any god before me.

(2) You shall not make idols.

(3) You shall not take my name in vain.

(4) Remember the Sabbath.

(5) Honor your mother and father.

(6) You shall not kill.

(7) You shall not commit adultery.

(8) You shall not steal.

(9) You shall not bear false witness.

(10) You shall not covet.

Why are we told that the latter list is the 10 commandments, when the Bible says it's the former? Why don't we learn the former as the 10 commandments?


Response #23:

Exodus 34 doesn't say anywhere that I can see that the first list constitute "the ten commandments".

The Lord gave Moses many commands and regulations (the whole Law); the "ten words" are as you describe them in the second list here (although the Jewish understanding of how they are divided is somewhat different). Here is a link to where my take on this is discussed:

"Numbering of the ten commandments"

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Immediately after the end of the list, we have the following verses:

'Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.' (Exodus 34:27-28)

If I spoke to you a list, and immediately after I was finished I told you 'write down these words,' it would be understood that 'these words' were the list I just spoke. This is exactly what happened in Exodus 34.

Response #24:

I would have to disagree. Our Lord's command in verse twenty-seven I take as prospective, not retrospective. Moses was up on the mountain a long time and many things were said. There is no firm basis for assuming that the wawyomer which begins that verse indicates an immediate connection; there could well have been a passage of time. In any case, I take the phrase "these words" to mean the ten commandments, as is said later, and we know from elsewhere what those are (i.e., not the previous content of this chapter). The New Testament repeats all of the commandments (except for the fourth), and they are the "ten" we all accept as the ten, not the previous contents of this chapter. Since both lists can't both be the ten, it has to be one or the other; since the NT has the previous list, and since this list can be otherwise explained (as I have done), the issue seems pretty clear to me, at least.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25:

So the command in verse 27 is prospective, and as proof that it is indeed prospective the New Testament refers to the traditional Decalogue as the 10 commandments?

Okay then, but is there any evidence in the language of the particular pericope in Exodus that God's command is prospective?

Response #25:

The words on the two tablets are the ten commandments – since that is what they were in the first place and since the NT knows the original ten as the ten. Further, at Exodus 34:27 the Lord says, "write these words", but He doesn't say to inscribe them on the two tablets. In fact, in verse one of the same chapter the Lord says "I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke". So not only are they the same words, but the Lord is the one doing the writing, not Moses. So we are talking about the same ten commandments in any case, but I will have to amend my position that verse 27 is necessarily prospective; grammatically it could go either way, but it seems now that it could be talking about the preceding group of statutes without in any way complicating the point that the ten commandments are the ten commandments.

In our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Hope all is well with you, and thank you for your prayers. I have a question on a passage that I find difficult to interpret. In the book of Revelation towards the end when it speaks about the eternal state, it says that the "throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face." It seems to imply that there is one throne for both the Father and the Son. It also implies that when we see God, we see His face. Does this mean that when God is all in all, we will see God in the person of Christ since the Father is Spirit? I was wondering why it didn't read the "throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall serve THEM instead of him"? Thanks in advance!

God Bless,

Response #26:

You're very welcome. Good to hear from you, and thank you so much for your prayers as well.

Yes, there has only ever been one throne (cf. Rev.4:2ff.). And, yes, it is only in these sinful bodies that we are unable to enter the presence of the Lord and see God face to face. Just as John can, in spirit, see the Father in Revelation 4:2ff. (as He manifests Himself so as to be able to be seen), so we shall be able to do in our resurrection bodies, "face to face". We will of course also fellowship with the Son our dear Lord, but the Father's advent is what is celebrated in these last two chapters of Revelation and He is the ultimate authority to whom all creation looks and ever shall (cf. 1Cor.15:28).

These passages are treated in detail at the following link:

The Blessed Eternal State of the Saved (in CT 6)

In anticipation of that wonderful day to come,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Hi Bob,

Consider this Proverb: `Wisdom will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.' (Proverbs 4:9) Even though it is obviously not in the same language as the Greek references to the crown of glory, it is nonetheless an acceptable calque. So then, is wisdom the key to getting the highest rewards?


Response #27:

ESV has "beautiful crown", which I think is a more appropriate rendering of , especially for a translator considering what the NT also has to say (lest anyone make this link up with too much specificity). Also, while not ruling out eternal rewards, this context seems to be promising the blessings of wisdom in this life to those who follow her instruction. Still, your point is well-taken that wisdom is the key to all spiritual growth, progress and production – upon which all eternal reward is based; for wisdom is essentially a synonym for epignosis (or vice versa), that is, the truth not only perceived but also committed to one's heart by believing it (and then treasuring it, meditating on it and applying it), and this is the path of honoring our Lord for which all eternal crowns are bestowed.

Yours in the One in whom all the secret repositories of wisdom abide (Col.2:3; cf. Is.33:6; 45:3), our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


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