Ichthys Acronym Image
Ichthys home navigation button

Gospel Questions XVI

Word RTF

Question #1:

What does Mark 4:26-29 mean?

Response #1:

And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:26-29 NKJV

This parable demonstrates that in spiritual matters, things happen in invisible ways that are not obvious to the world but are definitely powerful and important. To the world, you might look pretty much the same today as you did a year or so ago – physically speaking – but in fact you have grown spiritually and dramatically . . . so it seems to me. Spiritual growth is like that. And spiritual enterprises are like that too. Our personal ministries start out as small kernels of ideas and a willingness to serve our Lord, but they may grow to great proportions if we do things His way. N.b.: by "great proportions" I mean in HIS eyes. Even seemingly small things may be truly great to the Lord, even if the world can't see it (cf. Mk.12:41-44, Lk.21:1-4). Merely building a gargantuan church building or a worldwide organization or collecting a huge number of followers does not define greatness (any more than wealth and prosperity which the world praises means spiritual greatness – it does not). After all, the R.C. church and the Mormons and etc. have all that – but they do not even have salvation, let alone anything spiritually great.

Question #2:

Please explain Mark 4:40 to me. What would the disciples have done if they had faith?

Response #2:

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"
Mark 4:39-40 NKJV

If the Lord appeared to us in glory and took us down to the harbor and led us onto a boat and the boat put out into the sea and a storm came up – while we were sitting there with Him beholding His glory – it would be very impolite (not to mention reflecting limited faith) to complain to Him about the storm and to express our fear of it when He is right there in glory talking to us. What are the differences? 1) our Lord had not yet been glorified – so the disciples had to understand BY FAITH that He was the Messiah and God without being able to see it with physical eyes (this they clearly had a problem with); 2) our Lord was asleep – so that it was not obvious to physical eyes that He was aware of the danger. But as God He knew about this problem before He even created the world. So if they had been paying attention, if they had truly had faith that was rich in truth and the belief thereof they would have realized that it didn't matter that His glory was shielded from view – He was still God. And it didn't matter that He was asleep – only His humanity slept. God had foreordained this event otherwise it couldn't even have happened.

What should they have done? Trusted Him. He needed His sleep (in His humanity not yet resurrected); but He wasn't going to let them down or drown – clearly. But before we get too tough on the disciples, it is well to ask if we would have done much better even though we DO know and HAVE believed more truth than they had at that point. More to the point, what if we are in a boat and a storm comes up and the Lord is not in the boat with us?

It is a trick question. Because He is always with us – and in us. Whatever danger we face, it is easy to forget when the pressure is on the Christ sees it all and knows it all before we even call for help, call for Him to "wake up" (e.g., Ps.35:23; 44:23). Perhaps, also, the problem was not the fact that the disciples woke the Lord up in his humanity, but the fact that they did so in fear and not in confidence that He could easily still the storm. It's not wrong to pray for help even though we know that the Lord has already programmed the answer into the divine decree before He made the world – but it is wrong to ask in fear. We need always to remember that He is right here with us, right here in the "boat" that's in trouble. Even though we can't see Him yet with physical eyes, we need to never let Him escape from our eyes of faith.

Question #3:

Mark 5:6 puzzles me. If Jesus had been telling the demons to come out of the man, wouldn't they already have? What is the Bible saying here?

Response #3:

When he [the man possessed by the "legion"] saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.
Mark 5:6 NKJV

There is much about demon possession that we do not know (along with all other things involving the angelic world, elect and fallen). We can only draw conclusions from what the Bible actually says. People often assume that things were easy for our Lord, but we see on a number of occasions that He had to take extra measures:

And having taken him away from the crowd apart, he put his fingers to his ears; and having spit, he touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven he groaned, and says to him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
Mark 7:33-34 DBY

Why didn't our Lord just say "be healed!" And why did He even have to show up in the first place? Why didn't He just heal everyone from afar? Clearly, there were reasons for our Lord to have to do personal hands-on healing (that those healed and those watching might associate this correctly with the power of God and with Christ particularly). But there were also reasons why things weren't easy for our Lord in many ways (though people may wrongly assume they were). Such is the case in casting out demons too:

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer [and fasting]”
Mark 9:28-29 NIV

So apparently on this occasion that you ask about, the nature of the multiple possession allowed the "legion" to converse first with our Lord before being cast out – but they were cast out (even if it wasn't as easy as we may suppose).

Question #4:

About the above, it seems to me that it was like a longer conversation than recorded. The demons seem to have understood that they could not stay and were trying to get a concession which the Lord gave to them.

Response #4:

I agree. See the other places where this event is covered (Matt.8:28ff.; Lk.8:26ff.). But it wasn't much of a concession since the pigs immediately drowned with the result that the demons then had no base in this place afterwards in any case.

Question #5:

Why does our Lord refuse to take the former demoniac with Him? Couldn't He have taken him to teach him as he was teaching His other disciples? I assume that that was what He was doing when the people of the city came out to where they were and found the man in his right mind but why couldn't he have been allowed to go on with our Lord? What are we being taught here?

Response #5:

And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”
Mark 5:18-19 NKJV

There is a perfect plan for everyone. It is somewhat ironic that our Lord told some to follow and they didn't – as in the case of the rich young man who didn't want to give up his possessions – but this man wants to follow and is not allowed to. It is likely, given where he came from and went back to, that he was a gentile, and while our Lord graciously delivered him even so, it was not appropriate for a non-Jew to be involved in this ministry which had been given to Israel first and foremost (cf. Mk.7:27).

Question #6:

Does it make sense to think that the man had gotten all he needed for ministry at that time so that he could be one of our Lord's evangelists at that time? Is there then any good reason for imagining that it had been at least days between the time the demons were driven out of the man and when the people of the city came out to our Lord?

Response #6:

And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.
Mark 5:20

I think the departure was immediate, as in the same day. This person knew enough to know that the Lord was the Lord and that He had healed him, and he evangelized his home country with those key truths.

Question #7:

I think I just discovered what you were referring to when you said that the chronology in the synoptic gospels is not quite straight. It seems as if Mark tells his stories without particularly trying to describe what happened in the order that it happened. Does any of the writers try to follow a chronological pattern at all? I think Matthew does not either but does Luke? And besides the idea that the Gospels are not written as pure history describing things in a chronological pattern but as teachings about Jesus Christ which are set up through stories of what He did and said in the different places that He went to or was - as I think is what they actually do -, is there anything else we can learn from the way that the gospels tell their stories?

Response #7:

This is a pretty involved question about which a mountain of scholarship has been written (mostly dead wrong). I don't recognize the quote as being from me. The gospels are all chronological, but there are small shifts on the part of some at some points to emphasize certain aspects of what is being related – as in the different order of the last two temptations between Matthew and Luke – but they clearly happened on the same day (so it is a very minor issue, easily explainable by the need for proper emphasis given to each writer by the Spirit).

Question #8:

At Mark 5:43, why does our Lord say that the little girl He had just raised from the dead should be given food to eat?

Response #8:

No doubt the sickness which had originally killed her had been debilitating – and she has been dead now for some time too. So her body needed food. This is something which in their joy to have her back even her parents might have overlooked initially even though it was very important. It also is useful for us to see that this sort of resuscitation is, while miraculous in the extreme, did not involve any kind of change of the first body from what it was before – it was not a resurrection in the sense we will all experience when or Lord returns. Finally, it shows how our Lord was (and is) more aware and concerned for our welfare than even the most loving and thoughtful parents.

Question #9:

Mark 7:26. In the Matthew account of this event, she is called a Canaanite woman but here she is called a Syrophoenician woman. In the NASB footnote for where she is called a Gentile also, the word is said to be translated literally to "Greek". If she is Greek, can she also be Canaanite? Can you explain this to me?

Response #9:

"Canaanite" comes from her description in the parallel passage at Matthew 15:22. We only know what's in the texts, but from what can be gleaned about these words and current usage I would say: Canaanite = generic geographical title; Syrophoenician = specific geographical title; Greek = nationality; gentile = anyone in any of the above categories (anyone not Jewish with the possible exception of the Samaritans, depending on who is doing the describing). So there are no contradictions in the descriptions. Taken together, we see the main point: this woman was in no way a part of Israel and thus was not part of the special people to whom the Lord came – but in His great mercy He answered her prayer anyhow because of her great faith.

Question #10:

Mark 7:33-34. Why does Jesus do this (i.e., "He put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue, then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, "Be opened")?

Response #10:

Often, descriptions of Jesus healing someone say just that, i.e., that He healed them. This passage lets us see that the means our Lord was given to do the healing was actually very much "hands on" in many cases, and that the cases were different (according in part to the measure of faith on the part of those asking for the healing). Our Lord did all this on this particular occasion because it was necessary in order for the man to be healed. Our Lord had to endure this life without recourse to the power of His divinity – so He was not allowed to just wave His hand and heal everyone in a crowd, e.g. The Spirit had definite reasons for why some individuals took more effort than others, but two things we can say: 1) herein we see some small measure of the difficulties our Lord faced in this world – overcoming them all for us; 2) recording this incident (and a few others similar to it) give us a small window into that truth.

Question #11:

Mark 8;8. Is it significant that here they took up seven baskets while with the five thousand they took up twelve?

Response #11:

Both are spiritually significant numbers and both speak of completeness in their own way (cf. the seven millennial days; the twelve ultimate tribes of the Church), so that we find in both these numbers the perfect and complete provision that God always has for us – and we should take that to heart and never worry about our "daily bread" which He always faithfully provides us, even if it means raining manna or having ravens deliver it. I would not want to push things beyond that. More often than not interpreters have invested numbers with more significance than they should rather than erring in the other direction.

Question #12:

Mark 8:24-25. Why does the healing of the blind man come in two phases with him first becoming able to see shapes dimly and then finally able to see clearly?

Response #12:

The following is from the Mark Addendum (posted also elsewhere at Ichthys):

We certainly know from modern medicine that vision is not only a physical thing but also a perceptual and mental thing. So in rare cases where blindness has been restored or alleviated, it seems that often the individual in question has to be trained "how" to see (how to interpret the visual information flooding into his/her brain which has never been there before). The translations of this verse "Do you see anything?" are not bad, but the Greek indefinite pronoun is not an exact equivalent to our English one; also possible here is "He asked him what/how/in what respect he was seeing" - meaning not that our Lord was unaware of whether the man's physical vision had been healed (He certainly knew that it had), but that He was also aware that the physical healing would also require a perceptual adjustment. Certainly, as God the Lord could have done this in one step; certainly, He did not have to "make mud" or apply it to the man's eyes to completely restore vision and perception; certainly as God Jesus did not even have to be present to answer the man's prayers. Things were done the way there were done [kenosis] for our benefit, so that we might in this instance have a deeper appreciation of how dramatic a miracle healing from blindness truly is. A God who can do that, can do anything - as we know, but internalizing that completely is often analogous to needing the "perceptual adjustment" miracle on top of the healing miracle this man experienced: we see that truth sometimes, and yet we don't see it . . . without taking the additional step of completely believing it.

Question #13:

Mark 8:26. Why does our Lord tell the man not even to enter the village?

Response #13:

The following is from the Mark Addendum (posted also elsewhere at Ichthys):

In respect of that concern, I think it's more likely that the "outside of the village" part is to be explained by the concluding verse, since this distancing from the village continues after the healing:

Jesus sent him home, saying, "Don't even go into the village."
Mark 8:26

The reason for doing this miracle in private and for telling the man healed not to go back into the village was to avoid an unwanted, excessive response which would only complicate our Lord's ministry efforts without at the same time producing a positive effect. While most "Christian" ministries today go to great lengths to garner attention operating on the principle that "there's no such thing as bad publicity", our Lord often avoided it. His miracles demonstrated that He was the Son of God, but He also was concerned to carry out the perfect ministry in the perfect way. Too much attention before the time would have resulted in too early opposition from those in power in Jerusalem. It also made the ministry itself more difficult on occasion. Here is the operative paragraph on that from "The Earthly Ministry of Jesus Christ" in BB 4A: "Christology":

(14) After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." (15) Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
John 6:14-15 NIV

Akin to the need to show perfect self-restraint in regard to rendering judgment was the similar necessity not to be swept up in the popular enthusiasm which came His way as a result of His miracles. Even Herod desired to see Him because "he hoped to see him perform some miracle" (Lk.23:8). Rather than craving celebrity as the rest of the human race does almost without exception, our Lord eschewed it as the passage above shows, and went to great lengths to avoid it as far as He possibly could (Matt.8:4; 9:30-31; 12:16; 14:13-14; Mk.1:43-45; 3:20; 8:26; 9:30; Lk.4:42-44; 5:15-16; 5:19). For Jesus knew full well that the approbation of human beings is about as stable as the wind; He was looking not for human approval but to please His heavenly Father (e.g., Matt.26:42; Lk.11:2; Jn.4:34; 5:30; 6:38).

(1) Behold my Servant - I will support Him. My chosen One - my soul (i.e., heart) takes pleasure in Him. I have placed my Spirit upon Him. He will bring forth justice for the nations. (2) He will not cry out nor will He lift up His voice in the street.
Isaiah 42:1-2

Question #14:

Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
Mark 8:30

Is this still about avoiding excessive pressure on his ministry at the time?

Response #14:

I believe so. Anything that hindered the ministry was something the Lord avoided – showing that He had no desire for His own glory but only for that of the Father (Jn.7:18).

Question #15:

What does Mark 9:49 mean?

Response #15:

For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.
Mark 9:49 NKJV

This is referring to our evaluation before the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ where the quality of our work will be evaluated by Him, with the "gold, silver and precious stones" enduring the test of fire, but with the "wood, hay and stubble" being consumed (cf. 1Cor.3:13-15); explained at the link.

Question #16:

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Mark 10:21 NKJV

Why did Jesus feel a love for him?

Response #16:

Nobody is as perfect at this man claimed to be (cf. Paul on the 10th commandment: Rom.7:7-12). Our Lord's attitude was one of tolerance even so, and that is what the "agape" (agapao) toleration-love mentioned here means; explained at the link.

Question #17:

Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him.
Mark 10:32 NKJV

Why were they amazed and fearful?

Response #17:

Because they knew of the plots against Him (Matt.26:4; Lk.22:2; cf. Jn.7:1), so that it seemed amazing – and risky in the extreme – for Him to take this action. Any other human being would not have done so under the circumstances.

Question #18:

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”
Mark 10:38-40 NKJV

I imagine that this cup is the suffering that we are all called to as His followers in this world. Am I right? And what is His baptism in this context?

Response #18:

The cup is the suffering our Lord endured in the ordeal of crucifixion and all that led up to it . . . before the darkness fell; the baptism is His death for the sins of the world thereafter. We believers do share in these preliminary sufferings of Christ when we follow Him as He would have us to do, the ultimate measure of which is martyrdom. Our suffering, however, does not approach what He had to endure in being tormented and crucified (what He endured emotionally and physically would have killed anyone else many times over), and even if we suffer martyrdom that in no way comes close to His dying for a single sin. But those are the parallels. And the lesson is that for those who want exalted places in eternity, the path toward such honors is paved with suffering and ends (often) in being put to death for our Lord.

Question #19:

Mark 10:46. Is Bartimaeus his real name? Or was that just to say that he was the son of Timaeus?

Response #19:

"Bar-" means "son" in Aramaic, so Bartimaeus is his name in that language and "the son of Timaeus" is what it means.

Question #20:

Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
Mark 11:7-8 NKJV

Can we read this as an act of submission to the King? Our Lord was not about to establish the Kingdom then but many of those there, if not all, thought that He was. Was this response then their way of signaling acceptance of His Authority and submission to His Kingship? I mean, the spreading of coats and branches on the colt and on the road so that Jesus may sit on them and ride over them.

Response #20:

Yes, you are correct on both points, namely, that this is a SIGN of submission and also that they were expecting our Lord to now become king. But people are fickle, and many of those who did this were calling for His crucifixion a few days later. These events plus the "Hosannas" indicate the people's expectation of the millennial kingdom since this all comes from Psalm 118. Note therein as well the palm branches at Ps.118:27 (which are also signs of the millennial kingdom as that is what the feast of booths symbolized). They wanted the crown (the Messiah's millennial kingdom) but they would soon stumble over the cross (the need for our Lord to first die for the sins of the world).

Question #21:

"And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses."
Mark 11:25 NKJV

Does this mean that it is actually possible to forgive people who have wronged you without either speaking to them regarding the wrong or their repenting of it?

Response #21:

Absolutely. That is the most common procedure – and the best one too. After all, it's what is going on in our hearts that is truly important.

Question #22:

Is Mark 15:28 a part of the Bible?

Response #22:

No, it's not. This is yet another example of a scribe adding what he knew to be part of the gospel elsewhere (Luke 22:37). In such instances, it can have been the case that the verse was added in the margin, and the next scribe to copy the ms. (years later) might not be able to tell whether or not this was just a note (as it may have been) or a verse accidentally left out (something that in manual copying happens all the time) and added back in the margin when the mistake was noticed. So the new scribe may have put it in the text itself for that reason. Deliberate efforts to harmonize or expand the text can also not be ruled out, however.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

I love this verse and would like to understand your interpretation:

John 7:17 (NASB) 17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.

Does Jesus allude to the power of the Spirit empowering acts within God’s will, and the satisfaction in the heart for doing what God wants us to do once we are actually doing it. A feeling of knowing the truth, that cannot be intellectualized or quantified?

In our Lord and Savior,

Response #23:

What I get from this verse is that anyone who was / is willing to accept Jesus as Christ – God and man who died for the sins of the world – they will come to understand fully that His words were / are the Word of God. This the unbelieving generation of His day – which continues until today – was not willing to do.

Keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hello again Dr. Luginbill.

A response to the translation of John chapter 3 and Verse 5.

“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

There are at least three interpretations I am aware of, for water specified in John 3:5.

1. Water baptism.
2. Amniotic fluid.
3. Water of the Word.

At one time, years ago, I believed that the “water” expressed in this verse was a reference to the “amniotic fluid” the unborn baby floats in. When I began studying your material on this particular verse, also some years ago, I discovered that this “water” referred to in this verse is exactly what you were teaching; the “Water of the Word of God”. I know some who still cling to “water baptism” and “water of the mother”. I have also noticed that in the translations of some scriptures to English, that the verse or verses are not too easy to understand because of the translation from one language, Greek or Hebrew to English, because our English language is not able to clearly express the meaning properly. Take John 3:5 for instance, why couldn’t the translator write the following:

“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of “the Water of the Word” and the Spirit[by spiritual regeneration] they cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

This would be very clear what the meaning really is, and would have perhaps eliminated the confusion; I have found this to be true throughout the Bible. It would have greatly benefited us folks who don’t know Greek or Hebrew. I am aware that our English language is incapable of expressing the Hebrew or Greek language to the fullest extent because the meaning is often lost in the translation from one language to another. I have found this to be true, when my wife and I translate German to English, especially poems in German; when translated literally, they completely lose the sense of what is being said. I have to correct her many times for using double negatives, for example, she often says “I don’t have no money” or something similar where the double negative is apparent. “Ich habe kein geld”. I am not criticizing the translators for their great work, I know how tedious it is to translate, for my wife and I have, also with difficulty. She reads her German Bible “Luther’s Translation, so I have to understand what it is saying in English.

Just want to know your thoughts on translations and if I am being too negative towards their work. I had this thought because I am studying your teaching on Pneumatology, and it is a super great study. Always learn a lot from them. I know I have to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide into all truth.

Thanks always for your great advice. Blessings to you always,

Your friend,

Response #24:

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
John 3:5 NKJV

I'm surprised that anyone would think this is amniotic fluid given the context where our Lord is clearly contrasting physical birth with spiritual birth.

As to water baptism, it would be very strange if that were here since our Lord says nothing about it. Also, the passage says "water and the Spirit", and so this has to do with the Spirit, with which water baptism is not connected but actually deliberately contrasted (our Lord's baptism being unique of course):

I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:8 NIV

As to translations, the Greek only says "ek hydatos kai pneumatos" "from water and Spirit". The pneuma here is the Holy Spirit as verse 8 then makes clear: "So it is with everyone born of the Spirit".

So seeing water – correctly – as the water of the Word is an interpretation, and we can't fault translators for not imparting that here. Translations of course are ALWAYS interpretive, but the less of that the better – except in a Bible teaching ministry where there is time and space to make the distinction clear. I do use square brackets to indicate that I'm adding something interpretive – something really "there" but not actually expressed in the Greek or Hebrew, but that would get awfully annoying to read in a full-length translation.

Thanks as always for your clear-headed understanding and defense of the truth, my friend!

And as to "Ich habe kein geld", you can share with your dear wife that "Ich habe kein geld . . . auch!"

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Thank you for responding to my email. If you don't mind, I would like to ask another question. Could you tell me the meaning of John 12:32? I am wondering what the words "helkyso" and "pantas" mean in Greek. Also, do you have a resource that I can use to research some Greek words?

Response #25:

You're most welcome.

To take your questions in reverse order, see the link: Greek resources. But I do have to add that knowing how the language works is really what is essential for translating and understanding the text, not just looking up word definitions (that can be very misleading), and that in turn takes a good long "time in grade" learning the language to be truly useful.

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
John 12:32 NKJV

"All" here means "all" (comparable to English) and "helko" means to draw to (or attract); so the English versions are not bad. The meaning, in short, is that the cross will be the beacon of light that leads to the salvation of all . . . who are willing to be saved, willing to accept the sacrifice of the Son.

As I say in "John Questions": As our Lord says at Matthew 22:14, "many are called, but few chosen" (NKJV). The truth is available to all – through natural revelation and also through an ever-widening presentation of the gospel itself; but not all respond.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Hi Dr Luginbill, I hope you have been doing well. I would like to ask you a question about John 6:37.

"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."
John 6:37 NKJV

I have heard a preacher say that Jesus was referring to keeping a person forever, instead of not rejecting them. I thought that Jesus was saying that he would accept every person who comes to him. What are your thoughts on this? Also, are the ones God has given to Jesus all believers or are they the disciples only? I have heard debates on this topic. Additionally, could you pray for a few friends that I have? One is going into the military and another is undergoing a heart transplant.

Response #26:

Always good to hear from you.

As to your question on John 6:37, I agree with your analysis. This is not about "eternal security"; this is talking about people generally, and not just the disciples.

Anyone who comes to the Lord, that is, accepts Him, who He is – God and man – and what He has done – dying for the sins of the world – is saved. No one who puts their faith in Him, in the gospel, is "cast out", and all who are foreordained to that are / have been "given to Him". But of course only those who would choose to do so are so foreordained (there is no conflict between predestination and free will in fact; for this principle in John 6:37, see the link). So by all means pray for those who are not saved! God wants everyone to be saved (1Tim.2:4) and Christ died for everyone (Jn.1:29; 2Cor.5:14-15; 1Tim.2:4-6; Heb.2:9; 1Jn.2:2), and we cannot know down here, here and now, whether or not it might be the simple prayer we offer that God uses as the catalyst to bring that person to saving faith in Christ.

Hope you are doing well!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Thank you for your page. I haven’t search the dates for the New Testament for about a decade or so and had trouble finding information like yours that supports the original dates and Matthew being the first Gospel. I guess the Q Theory has taken over and Mark is now taught as first even though Church Fathers say different.

Any links would be appreciated. All my priests now teach the new dating.


Response #27:

Good to make your acquaintance.

The "Q" theory is just that, entirely hypothetical. Question: if a thousand professors teach something without any hard evidence whatsoever, does the fact of them all believing it and teaching it make that "evidence"? Answer: Of course not.

I haven't spilled much ink refuting this theory (this is a Bible teaching ministry not an apologetics one); eventually, BB 7: Bibliology, will have a few things to say about that, but that offering is at least a year or more away from posting [now posted at the link]. Here's a link to one place this question is discussed on CARM (a fairly reliable website):  "The 'gospel' of Q"; and here are a few links to where related issues are discussed at Ichthys:

The "Q" Hypothesis

The "Q" Hypothesis II

Chronological Order of the Books of the Bible II

Chronological order of the books of the Bible I

The so-called Documentary Hypothesis.

More on the Documentary Hypothesis.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Until I read your teachings about the Jewish feasts and festivals, I didn't think that they had much significance. But I saw in my reading in Matthew 27 today that our Lord was crucified just after the Passover which was a feast to celebrate the sparing of the lives of the Hebrew firstborns through the death (sacrifice) of a lamb. It seems like a very deliberate affair that our Lord Who is the Lamb of God given to take our place in death should be killed at the same time that the Passover lamb was killed. Then again, the Spirit fell at the Pentecost. Can you tell me anymore about all this, sir?

Response #28:

Pentecost is a Greek word meaning "fiftieth" taken from the fact that it took place the fiftieth day after the set of Passover festivals, or seven weeks thereafter, therefore also known as "the feast of weeks" (counting inclusively was customary in the ancient world, and that accounts for the difference between 49 and 50). For more info, symbolism et al., see the link.

Question #29:

At Matthew 27:3, Judas feels remorse after betraying our Lord. Then he goes to return the blood money that he was given and confesses that he sinned. Yet he does not find the same restoration that Peter gets after denying the Lord three times. So it is possible for a sinner to regret their sin and acknowledge it without having forgiveness. Regret only counts then if it is actual repentance and confession counts only if it is made to God?

Response #29:

Absolutely correct. Only believers are forgiven their sins. Sin is not the issue since Christ died for all sin. Faith in Him is the issue as He is the only One who can forgive sin, having paid for it personally.

Question #30:

The quote in Matthew 27:9, does it belong to Jeremiah or to Zechariah? NASB presents Zechariah in the cross references. Was Jeremiah the prophet who got the "top billing" in a bundle that included Zechariah?

Response #30:

That analysis is correct. Just as we might say "It says in the Bible" or "It says in the New Testament" or "It says in the gospels" – when the quote is from e.g. Luke. In the ancient world, books – that is to say scrolls – often did not have titles the way ours do today, so there were differences in the way things were referenced back then; also, scrolls had much less capacity than a "codex" or book has, so combining shorter writings with longer ones was also common.

Question #31:

Matthew 23:3 is a verse that troubled me until now. I just remembered that Paul said that he did not want to be a castaway after preaching to others so he strove to discipline his body. So, it may be possible to teach the Truth without living it, right, sir? Could you explain that better to me, sir?

Response #31:

"Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do."
Matthew 23:3 NKJV

This verse is about not being hypocritical as the Pharisees were. That is important for us all, not just for Paul. But it is also important not to become hyper-perfectionist – as if any of us could ever be perfect in any respect. If a person waits until they are perfect to begin ministering they will never get around to ministering.

Question #32:

"Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!"
Matthew 23:24 NKJV

Does this verse refer to the Pharisees' focus on significantly less important issues to the exclusion of far weightier matters? For example, the matter of tithing or the matter of swearing?

Response #32:

Indeed. To be so meticulous as to tithe the produce of one's spice garden (taking things to an extreme) but to leave out what was really important – justice and mercy and faith – was the height of hypocrisy.

Question #33:

Hello Bob,

I hope you had a productive long weekend and classes are off to a smooth start. I have a question about your explanation for Matthew 11:7-9...

7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.
Matthew 11:7-9

You said: “The third question is the one to which the answer is obviously "yes!", and our Lord uses the first two to call attention to the extraordinary nature of John's ministry and his exceptional nature as a prophet (question #1 is obviously "no" because no one would seek out a common place, and question #2 is obviously "no" because no one would seek a typical celebrity "out of place").”

Question: Could you provide some more detail and explanation on these verses or maybe re-state your answer because I still don't understand it?

Matthew 17:17 (NASB)
17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”

You said: "The man in question did not have sufficient faith in the ability of the disciples to heal the boy and for that reason he was not healed. As such, he stands as a representative of "this generation" of hardness which refuses to put its faith in the true power of God and the ministry of His Son."

Then why does Jesus say “your” in response to the disciples later in Matthew 17:19,

“Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20 And He *said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith”?

Also, sometimes when I am in an evangelical or teaching dialogue I copy+paste some of your work verbatim into the chat or email without directly attributing it to you. I don't care about the credit for it myself, I just want them to have the truth and not get stuck on "vetting" another author. Is that okay? If not, I totally understand, and I will cite you in all my copy/paste private outreach.

In Christ,

Response #33:

On Q#1: Our Lord had the perfect way of focusing His listeners on what was important. If they really were responding to God by being in His company – and not just there for the healing and the other miracles – then they would have responded to John in the proper way too. So these questions focus their attention on who John was, not just a "show" but an actual prophet, one who pointed to Jesus as the Messiah. So while if they reject John, then they are likely to reject Jesus, if they realize and remember (based on these questions) that they did accept John as a prophet, then they will at least also realize that they ought to accept Jesus as the Messiah (which of course few did). This is analogous to our Lord's handling of the Pharisees:

One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Luke 20:1-8 NIV

On Q#2: The main point is the man lacking faith; but it's also true that the disciples lacked sufficient faith to be able to overcome this man's lack under the difficult circumstances of this particular demon possession. For in Mark He adds that "this type" only will come out with prayer, but this will require the sort of faith in prayer sufficient to "move mountains".

Cut and paste is no problem! This is all about the truth.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #34:

You stated that "it ought to be mentioned, however, that John Mark wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. His authority to do so was derived from Peter (just as Luke's was from Paul). It should also be said that Mark, unlike Luke (who had to do research, as he tells us), was an eyewitness (e.g., he's no doubt the young man who escaped at Mark 14:51-52)"

1) Question: So, did Peter tell John Mark what to write word for word under the power of the Spirit. Or did Peter give the ok for John Mark to write in the power of the Spirit? Also how do we know that John Mark was the guy that slipped out of the cloak when Jesus was captured?

Mark 13:22 (NASB)
22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

2) Question: Does this mean that there will be more evil people (prophets) than just the false prophet with the power to produce evil miracles designed to lead astray during the tribulation?

3) Question: I recall you saying that the money-changers and merchants tables in the temple were supernaturally heavy -- what gives you the indication that they were?

4) Question: Why do most Bible versions translate testing as temptation. Notably in the Lord's Prayer, and in 1 Corinthians 10:13. For example you translate: 1 Corinthians 10:13 “You have not suffered any testing beyond normal human [experience]. And God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tested beyond your capacity, but, along with the test, He will grant you the way out, so that you can bear up under it.”

Whereas the NASB translates it as: 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB) 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

5) Question: Along the lines of 1 Corinthians 10:13 (this is a critical verse for the tribulation so I want to have a good grasp on it):

1 Corinthians 10:13 “You have not suffered any testing beyond normal human [experience]. And God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tested beyond your capacity, but, along with the test, He will grant you the way out, so that you can bear up under it.” — How should we understand the word “but” here? The pre-“but” part of the sentence makes sense: God will not test us more than we can handle. The word "but" usually contrasts something. So, would "in addition to" work as a more clear phrasing than "but"? I currently understand part b of the verse as how God delivers those in difficult situations that will never be more than we can handle.

Thank you for the ministry prayer -- that's exactly what I need right now. Yes the Lord has got it all worked out, but right now the vineyard isn't in the straightaway of the track, it's right around the bend. It's up to me how fast to drive the straightaway -- in a Ferrari formula one car or on a vespa moped.

In our Lord,

Response #34:

1) I'm sure that Mark got information from Peter, but Mark was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what he wrote – in the same way as all who've been charged to write scripture.

2) Antichrist's false religion will co-opt every other religion, including non-believing "Christianity", and you can bet there will be all manner of spokespeople for that, "prophets" though not of a divine or genuine nature. They won't have the powers or the position of THE false prophet, however.

3) I don't believe I ever said anything like that (reference?).

4) The word is the same in the Greek and the difference between the two concepts is not as pronounced in the ancient world. We see the two things as not even contiguous; they see them as overlapping. Here are a couple of links where this is discussed:

Testing vs. Temptation 1

Testing vs. Temptation 2

5) See previous. But/and are very similar grammatically; here it is a strong "but" which means it contrasts the fear that He will "allow" something we can't handle with reality that He will instead provide a way of deliverance.

Persevere in your good approach, my friend! The Lord will make it all clear, as you say, "around the bend".

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #35:

Hello Bob,

I've got some more Matthew questions. It's a great blessing to have such direct access to you. If you ever get tired of my questions or if I am asking too many please slow me down so we can achieve a sustainable rate.

Matthew 2:18 (NASB)
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she refused to be comforted,
Because they were no more.”

Question: Is this explanation correct? This is an answer I found online: "He stole from Bethlehem as many as 30 baby boys, according to scholars. The grieving of those people was intense, and Matthew quotes from Jeremiah 31:15 to connect their tears to another moment of weeping in Israel's history. Rachel is often cited as a representation of the mothers of Israel. Jeremiah described the nation's weeping and loud crying for the death and departure of Israel's children at the time of the Babylonian Captivity in 586 BC”.

Matthew 3:5 (NASB)
5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan;

Question: Considering John didn’t complete any miracles or signs himself, what drew Israel’s inhabitants to him in the first place?

In our King and Savior,

Response #35:

1) Matthew clearly applies this quotation from Jeremiah 31:15 to Herod's destruction of the infants in Bethlehem. So there is that.

2) A good question! I'm sure that the Lord had something to do with it – in order to prepare the way for the Messiah.

“And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Luke 1:16-17 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #36:

Hi Bob,

The Q/A of the gospel questions is just about ready. I just have a couple of questions left:

Matthew 23:4 (NASB)
4 They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

Question: What exactly does our Lord mean by this? Options I can think of:

a) A lack of mercy upon the Pharisees in willingness to teach the Law but failing to give the gospel of forgiveness from the Law.

b) They impose regulations upon others that they are not willing to touch themselves.

Based on our Lord saying His burden is light and humble in heart I am inclined to think option A is correct.

In Jesus Christ our King and Savior,

Response #36:

Here's what I read in scripture:

“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "
Matthew 15:7-9 NKJV

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."
Matthew 23:23 NIV

There are many other passages of this sort besides as you know. The Pharisees, "sat in the seat of Moses", so our Lord told the Jews of His day to "do what they say" (because of their God-given authority, even if being mal-used), but not to "do what they do", which was rank hypocrisy (Matt.23:2).

So while I wouldn't disagree that they did "a" – and it is a good application of what motivated them – I think this verse is all about "b" in terms of literal interpretation.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #37:

Hi Bob,

I'm not sure if I'd mentioned it, but this semester I'm taking that Biblical Greek class we'd discussed before. Overall it has been quite good, as we are going through parallel passages in the synoptics. I mostly just tune out whenever discussion drifts into speculation about precedence (who wrote first, and who had whose text when writing, etc.), and also with respect to rhetorical criticism et. al. (i.e., viewing the gospels as fundamentally separate things, such that speculation is allowed on what Mark "might mean" by something even though Matthew and Luke explain it more clearly -- the secular way of thinking on this holds that perhaps Mark meant one thing, and then Matthew and Luke "changed it" -- whereas we know this isn't the case, which serves to narrow interpretation more effectively).

Anyhow, over the passages we've read, I've been taking note of the differences between the gospels, and have not found many of them to be particularly vexing. The emphasis of the passage might shift depending upon the author, and the chronology of the passages certainly does (one notable example coming to mind being Luke describing Jesus getting baptized by John after John's execution has already been mentioned in his gospel), but usually there aren't any details that cause particular problems.

Sometimes, though, I'm having a harder time figuring out how differences in the gospels can be cleanly resolved. Here's a recent example, coming from the accounts of Jesus' death:

Matthew 27:48-49 vs. Mark 15:36

In Matthew, the man running to get a sponge, fill it with wine-vinegar, and give it to Jesus appears to be told off by the others, who want to see if Elijah will come and save Jesus. However, in Mark, the man who does these things is in fact the person who says this. Accordingly, the imperative to "leave off" changes from singular to plural.

Now, I'm not in any crisis of faith or anything like that, but I'm having a difficult time "fixing" this one. (And there are several others like this that I've come across). As to "what actually happened," either the man said this, or the others said this -- I do not see a scenario in which both would. Ordinarily, we might say that the man was part of the group saying this, so it would be a matter of emphasis (cf. "Peter as spokesman"), yet in Matthew we have "and the rest" that seems to pretty clearly be marking a contrast between the man and the others.

My understanding of inspiration is (among other things) that there are no contradictions in scripture. This passage was/is bothering me since it seems like a contradiction of sorts: the two gospel accounts change the subject of a saying and the audience of said saying directly around.

However, there is no great theological distinction to be made from the "contradiction." For this reason, I'm curious if maybe I should be revising my understanding of inspiration to focus on the meaning of the text rather than the minor details of the text?

If you want another example, in the stilling of the sea, in one account Jesus calms the storm then rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith, whereas in another account he does it in the opposite order. Again: hard to reconcile the two accounts as exactly identical, yet not really theologically significant.

I'd be happy to hear that there are good ways to solve all of these problems on a case-by-case basis too. I haven't come across anything for this passage that left me convinced, but if it exists (and a "stronger" form of inspiration holds), then I'd have no problem with that either.

In other words, I'm curious "what sort" of inspiration I ought to hold. Hopefully I've made clear what it is I'm asking.

Yours in Christ,

P.S. -- big test tomorrow, my last one before finals; it's on more difficult material. Prayers appreciated.

Response #37:

Since you're asking about principles, that's the vein in which I'll respond.

First, we know that God is perfect. Second, we know and believe that His Word is perfect. We also understand, however, that the Spirit used human beings to produce it, and that the Spirit did not waive their individual personalities or modes of expression in His superintendence of their penning of divinely inspired scripture.

This combination of truths guarantees that there will be places where the way they say it would not be the way we think we might say it today in our time and in our culture and in our language. But just because something is different does not make it untrue. So if Luke and Matthew are moved to use a different chronological order in, say, relating the temptations of Christ in the desert, that might offend our personal canons but it clearly was not something the Holy Spirit objected to: for purposes of emphasis they were allowed to do it their way (whichever one or maybe both did not follow strict chronology). And if Matthew wanted to be precise about the numbers of people healed or delivered while Mark and Luke wanted to focus on the important person healed or delivered, what we might think to call a discrepancy is not in fact anything the Spirit found to be important.

Such differences do constitute a test of faith (albeit a mild one, I would think) for those who are "modern" in their thinking. But we need to keep in mind first and foremost that none of these things fundamentally changes the truth of what is being related in anything like a substantive way. Secondly, there are sometimes good and valid reasons why these things are as they are (emphasis in the examples above, e.g.), even if Philistines don't want to accept them. Third, there are also other factors which may be involved, namely, a problem with the text, a mis-translation of the Greek, or a misunderstanding of what is meant (from failure to understand a cultural principle or a theological tenet, e.g.), or actually a different occurrence (even if two situations seem similar to us – our Lord's ministry covered three and a half years and only a small part of it is given to us in the gospels: Jn.21:25).

Sometimes, of course, even taking into account the above, we who are dedicated to the truth and digging into it as you are doing may find a passage where we can't, as you say, "fix it". My own approach at such times is to mull it over and keep it in the back of my mind. I have learned in my secular research that such "problem passages" are often the most valuable of all – because when and if we finally resolve them, they end up shedding light in ways we never would have imagined. Until we do know (or think in honest faith we do know) what a passage means, we best not teach it. When I'm asked, if I've never seen or considered the "problem" before, I will always attempt to find the "answer" and give the best one I know how to give. I wouldn't say what I think if I didn't believe it. But of course, no one is perfect. I'm sure you have seen my feet of clay more than once.

So my advice is to have complete confidence in the Lord that His Word is the absolute truth, and that if there are some things hard to understand or which look problematic, in time, with enough effort and attention to the truth, these too will resolve. I have seen that in my own case very many times over the years. One might say that it's the genesis or the "motor" for this ministry. And I have no doubt that you also have had this experience too of the light coming on regarding some passage you'd considered problematic – and will many times again in the future. Just because you don't have the answer today doesn't mean that there isn't one – or that you won't come across it tomorrow.

If you want to go into depth on any of these individual cases you mention by example, just let me know.

I'll say a prayer for you for that exam.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #38:

Hi Bob,

Let me check if I'm understanding you correctly: believing in inspiration does involve believing that there are no cases in the gospels where different authors' treatment of the same passage contradict each other in an "unfixable" way? I.e., even if a contradiction appears to be in the details only (let's say, by way of totally fictional example, that Luke said that Jesus left Jerusalem at 9:00 AM and Mark said that he left at 10:30 AM), then we should still seek to resolve it since inspiration would hold that all such contradictions are in fact only apparent contradictions?

Over time, I have, as you say, noticed that things I'd set aside as contradictions become clear and resolve themselves over time. So I'm definitely not opposed to the general concept. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to be beating my head against the wall trying to solve apparent discrepancies in details if they weren't even included in a proper understanding of "what" is inspired, if that makes sense. But if I'm reading you right, and everything in the Bible is inspired, down to the shortest phrase and very last word, then it does in fact become necessary to figure out how these things are resolved (or at least to have faith that they can in fact be resolved, even if we don't see how at present).

I'll start with several of the differences that have jumped out at me this semester as we've gone over parallel passages, but I may send more your way if I remember them when studying for my final for this class.

1) The statement regarding Elijah coming to take Jesus down from the cross

Coming from some (one?) of the people present at the crucifixion misunderstanding the Aramaic Jesus spoke from the cross (thinking that he was calling out to Elijah). In Matthew, the man running to get a sponge, fill it with wine-vinegar, and give it to Jesus appears to be told off by the others, who want to see if Elijah will come and save Jesus. However, in Mark, the man who does these things is in fact the person who says this. Accordingly, the imperative to "leave off" changes from singular to plural.

As to "what actually happened," it seems like either the man said this, or the others said this -- I do not see an obvious scenario in which both would. Ordinarily, we might say that the man was part of the group saying this, so it would be a matter of emphasis (cf. "Peter as spokesman"), yet in Matthew we have "and the rest" that seems to pretty clearly be marking a contrast between the man and the others (and the fact that the imperative changes number too makes such a line of interpretation difficult, as opposed to if both passages had the plural, e.g.).

This passage seems to present an apparent contradiction: the two gospel accounts change the subject of a saying and the audience of said saying directly around.

2) The status of Jairus' daughter when Jesus is asked to come. Is Jairus' daughter dead when Jesus is asked to come, or not? In Matthew, Jairus' daughter is said to have "just died"; in Mark she is "at the point of death"; in Luke, "she was dying (imperfect)" -- implication: she was still living at this point. I'm not seeing an easy way around this one either.

3) The order of Jesus stilling the storm and rebuking the disciples. Did Jesus calm the storm then rebuke the disciples, or the other way around? This one doesn't seem "as problematic" as the others. Matthew has a τότε after the question to the disciples, which would seem to imply a sequential order of rebuking the disciples -calming the storm. In Mark, there is no τότε anywhere, however the rebuking of the disciples is placed after the calming of the storm in the text. Perhaps since everything is just joined with καὶ 's we can take the events as happening contemporaneously?

I'm not unduly bothered by any of these (and do have faith that there are logical solutions to all these apparent problems), but I'm just trying to get to the bottom of them.

Yours in Christ,

Response #38:

Everything in the Bible rightly understood and interpreted is the truth. If there appear to be "contradictions", then that is only apparent. Whether the solution is in text or interpretation – or in what WE view as a "contradiction", there is always a solution. The Holy Spirit has never made a mistake. We take that on faith, even if for a while we don't understand one thing or another. As mentioned, I'm sure you've already had many experiences where something of this sort troubled you but it was later resolved in a blessed way.

1) Why couldn't the man have said what he is reported to have said and the crowd as well have said what they are reported to have said? One thing is certain in any such account: none of the gospel writers gives ALL of the details of everything that happened. In any narrative, it's legitimate to select. Otherwise, no one could ever tell a story of any kind. "The crowd was restless." Really? Did you interview in detail every member of the crowd? If not, then how can you make such a statement? But in fact it may be a valid observation (even if three of the ten thousand were not particularly "restless").

2) If she had just died, then moments before she was on the point of dying. So all accounts on their face can be true. Actual headline from a tabloid: "Diana was alive hours before her death".

3) I've already mentioned that it's not uncommon for events which are essentially contemporaneous to be described in different order for emphasis. That is true also in English narratives but we do get overly concerned about sequence. The kai / kai sequencing is also reminiscent of Hebrew waw / waw where details are added in later which clearly are meant to expand on something which already happened (read e.g., Judg.20:28-48 – or Genesis chapter two).

That is not to say there aren't "head-scratchers". But I have learned over time that if we trust the Lord and let ourselves see things from the right perspective (i.e., just because English speakers today wouldn't frame things "that way" doesn't make it wrong in any way), eventually most of them get resolved – and we keep trusting Him for all the rest.

Thanks again for your "yeoman service" on the two forums, my friend.

Hope the test went well!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #39:

Hi--You know the John 10:30 verse, where Jesus says "I and the Father are One"? I was wondering--is "one" here neuter? What about in John where Jesus prays that His disciples may be "one" as He and His Father are "one"? Are the "ones" here all neuter? Thanks.

Response #39:

Yes, it's always neuter in John, here and in all the references in John 17 as well. Otherwise, in the masculine it would suggest "the same person". NIV's translation is a bit "dynamic", but it gives the right idea:

"I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
John 17:23 NIV

Here is another helpful parallel:

Now he who plants and he who waters are one [neuter "hen"], and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
1st Corinthians 3:8 NKJV

In the above, unity (of purpose here) is clearly the meaning.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #40:

Thanks again. But where Jesus said that He and the Father are ONE, Jesus did not mean unity of purpose, but unity of being, did He not? If so, how does one prove it? I know what the Pharisees said, but some could say they were mistaken. So, how to deal with this verse?

Response #40:

Parallel included only for illustration. Paul and Apollos are not God. Jesus and the Father both are. We and the Lord as the Church are a combination of human and divine. So oneness in all three cases is different and has to be derived from context. We are one with Christ as His Bride. Paul and Apollos are one in their purpose of edifying the Church. Jesus and the Father are one in an eternal way that defies definition – except to say that they are both God ("one in essence; three in person"). Key here is the fact the "hen" is neuter, so "one thing" (whatever that thing is) is different from "one and the same person" (which would require the masculine).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #41:

Just found this site : fabulous : how refreshing! In my 8th decade: Lord Jesus and Scripture always my first authority.

Have been introduced to 'the Beloved Disciple' as being other than John - probably Lazarus.

Do you have an article/study on this ?

As you walk in His Footsteps following Him may you know Peace and Blessing,

(based UK)

Response #41:

Good to make your acquaintance – thanks so much for your encouraging words!

As to your question, I've never heard of that one before – so there's nothing about that on the site. One problem with such an interpretation that occurs to me would be explaining how this beloved disciple is fishing with Peter up north in Galilee in John 21:7 when we know that 1) John and James were partners with Peter and Andrew but we hear nothing of Lazarus – who was from Bethany in the south – fishing; and 2) our Lord told the eleven that He would meet them in Galilee (which also suggests that this is John not Lazarus). I also have a problem seeing Lazarus at the last supper since that event likewise seems to be only for Jesus and the twelve.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #42:

Dear Brother,

Thank you for your prompt reply! But I have found Scriptural/practical/logical answers to each of those comments [links omitted]! His blessings and power be yours as you spread the good news of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ and authority of Scripture.

Response #42:

I'm afraid don't find any of these persuasive on this question. On the one hand, John had reason not to refer to himself by name (typical and precedented authorial 3rd person humility); whereas there was no reason not to identify Lazarus if he were "the beloved disciple" (since John identifies Lazarus elsewhere). So while it's true that Mary and Martha send to our Lord identifying Lazarus as "the one whom you love", in that context it would clearly the "beloved" clearly has to be Lazarus (since the sisters would rate a plural feminine "whom" but it's singular masculine in the Greek text).

Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”
John 21:20 NKJV

It may seem from English that these expressions are identical, but the verb is different (phileo for Lazarus and agapao in the verse above). It's true they are synonyms, but it strikes me that the impetus for some to want to make such a connection between the two passages quoted above is the seeming similarity in verbiage, but that's only apparent in an English translation – they're different in the Greek. That Lazarus should be on a footing equal to Peter as opposed to John in both of these key instances (the last supper and the appearance of our Lord at the lake) seems beyond unlikely – especially since he's not named. Since the verbs are in fact different, I don't think that John could have expected readers – readers of Greek – to assume from what Mary and Martha wrote that the "beloved disciple" in the verse above was Lazarus, whereas John as the author and one of the Lord's inner circle is the natural assumption anyone reading in Greek would make. Here is a good example of John referring to himself but not by name:

Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
John 21:23-24 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #43:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Just a small question. In the CJSB this verse says:

"As you know, Pesach is two days away, and the Son of Man will handed over to be nailed to the execution-stake."

I have heard different opinions about the phrase "nailed to the execution-stake", and was wondering what the actual Greek meaning is. Some say tree, some say cross, some say stake, but what the Greek say, or am I being trivial again? I know that Jesus was crucified, so maybe the vehicle used in His crucifixion does not really matter, or? God's Word does speak the truth. Would really like your opinion or observations about this Cross, tree, stake, etc.

Thanks always for your great help.

Grace and peace be yours always,

Your friend,

Response #43:

In the Greek we have the verb stauroo which corresponds to the noun stauros – meaning "cross" in context and in the NT. It is true that in secular, classical Greek it means "stake", but the Romans used crosses. Also, what about this verse?

Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.
Matthew 24:30 NIV

The "sign" is the "sign of the cross" – but if it were a stake, how would it even be discernible as "a sign" or anything significant?

And, for what it's worth, in modern Greek today the word always means "cross".

Here's a link on something I wrote on this in the past:  "Cross not stake".

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #44:

Hi Dr,

I was reading Mk 4:39 and was wondering why did the Lord rebuke the wind but not the sea? What was it about the wind actions the Lord did not like. The wind was made to do what it did. Was it because the wind was violent but so was the sea. This caught my attention for the first time and puzzled me why he would rebuke an action of his creation that is not doing anything apart from what it was created to do based on the seasons, etc.

I believe I know the answer. Thank the Lord. Creation was never meant to destroy or cause destruction. Due to the fall and sin, it is out of character. Wind is supposed to be a peaceful part of the created order. But due to the fall its nature has been somewhat perverted to cause destruction, hence rebuke from Jesus as a lesson of his power of the created order and the ultimate resultant which is peace which will only be realized at his Second Coming.

Am I on the right path here?

Thanks again

Response #44:

Very nice, my friend!

You might also consider these passages: Job 1:19 (showing the devil's involvement in stirring up wind), and Revelation 7:1-3 (showing that control of the winds is an important part of the Lord's modulation of judgment).

Keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #45:

Good morning Bob. I trust you and your family are well. After a lull of more than a year, the Jehovah's Witnesses have returned to our neighbourhood. My former schoolmate and co-worker who is an Elder now performs his mission work in another district. Today I know more than I did when I first engaged the brothers calling on me. I wondered if you have used the facts below in defense of the Trinity? Do you think this will penetrate?

Rabbis teach that when the Messiah returns, he will not only explain "every jot and tittle" of Hebrew, but even the spaces between the letters.

The letters of the Hebrew language also represent numbers, a clock can have Hebrew letters in lieu of numbers. The Hebrew letters are also pictograms. Chinese letters are also pictographs. There's a Chinese pictograph that means opportunity, but it also represents danger. One symbol or character with two different meanings.

In the Tanakh, of Jewish Bible, YHVH appears over 6,800 times. It is the unutterable name of God known as the Tetragrammaton, composed of the four Hebrew letters Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey.

As pictograms, Yod means hand, Hey can mean window, eye, look, see or behold. Vav means nail.

It is interpreted as "Behold the hand, behold the nail."

It can only be interpreted that Jehovah is Jesus.


Response #45:

Hope you are well, my friend.

It's a nice observation, but I would hesitate to teach or tell someone definitively that YHVH means ""Behold the hand, behold the nail." I do get the pictogram thing (as I say, it's a nice observation), but the Bible tells us what YHVH means:

(14) Then God said to Moses, "I shall be who I am. This is what you will tell the sons of Israel: 'I am sent me to you.' " (15) And God also said to Moses, "Thus you will say to the sons of Israel: 'the Lord [the "is"], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob sent me to you.' This is My Name forever, and this is how you are to think about me for all generations."
Exodus 3:14-15

We know that the NT teaches that Jesus is God in many places, hard to deny even with special "funny" translations. The problem with the Rabbinic approach is that if someone points out that pictograms are not words (and the words are inspired, not symbols), or that this particular phraseology is found nowhere in the Bible, or that Exodus 3:14-15 explains what YHVH means, one may be hanging out a bit exposed.

One other thing that bothers me a bit about this is that such an interpretation focuses on the act of physical crucifixion, whereas we understand that it was being made sin for us, bearing our sins in His body on that tree, rising in the flames of darkness once it fell on Calvary, being judged with a fiery judgment for all we have done that expiated our sins, not His being nailed to the cross, the place where that judgment took place. That's the true blood of Christ.

Your friend in Jesus Christ to whom we owe absolutely everything.

Bob L.

Question #46:

Thanks Bob. I know the NWT changed I AM when spoken by Jesus to "I have been" but my knowledge of Greek is so shallow I don't feel I could summon up a proper defense in support of it.

Exodus 3:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.

Another notorious mistranslation is the addition of the word 'other' to reduce Christ in rank. Earlier editions of the NWT had the word other in parenthesis, not in their current edition. I understand that the word "other" was inserted to make Jesus a created being and fit with the Watchtower theology. If Jehovah is the Creator, what was left for Jesus to create?

Col 1;16-17
16 because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible,o whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through himp and for him. 17 Also, he is before all other things,q and by means of him all other things were made to exist,


Response #46:

You're most welcome

The Greek at John 8:58 is "I AM"; this is the present tense of the verb to be. In any case, the verb "to be" in Greek is defective (meaning it doesn't possess every possible part other verbs have) and it does not have a perfect tense, so that translation is impossible.

As to Colossians 1:16-17, the Greek actually says "THE all things", which is technical throughout secular Classical Greek for the entirety of existence. Needless to say, "other" (for which there is a word in Greek: allos) is nowhere to be seen anywhere in the passage.

I suppose you can prove anything with the Bible . . . if you are allowed to rewrite any part of it you like at whim.

In Jesus our Lord and God,

Bob L.

Question #47:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

A brother in the Lord asked me this question that I don't have the answer for.

In John 6:64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him".

The question he asked was: Why did Jesus tell them what He says in Verse 54, knowing full well they would not understand Him, but He says it anyway?

I did not have an answer, because I don't think it is written why. Perhaps you have some additional insight you could share with me.

Thanks so much again, and again.

Blessings be with you always,

Your friend,

Response #47:

This whole section – wherein our Lord gives it straight to those who sought Him out after the miracle of feeding the five thousand – shows very clearly what love really is. Our Lord told the truth and He was not willing to pretend when it came to those who did not love or accept the truth. Many have written glowing sermons about the feeding of the 5K and how wonderful it would have been to be part of it (songs have been written about it). But in reality, even after seeing this great miracle – and more importantly hearing the wonderful teaching of the truth from the Son of God Himself, most had not even listened, most had not deigned to believe that He was who He is and who He said He was. He knew it. But He did this all for them anyway. It's not about miracles. It's all about the truth.

His words make it clear to those listening that He knew what they really wanted – the cross before the crown and not to actually submit to His authority there and then. And they make it clear to us as well, so that we might understand the things explained in the paragraph above.

Hope this is of some small help, my friend! Keeping you and your family in my prayers every day.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #48:

Hi dr,

Could we say that in Mt 7:13-14, the verse about straight and narrow path, the word narrow has to deal with suffering. Straight, I agree with you is believing in faith on the name of Jesus Christ and this is evidence by a new life, i.e., 2 cor 5:17 but narrow has to deal with suffering for Christ sake.

Strong concordance defines narrow in this context, Greek ("thiblo") as "suffering due to the pressure of circumstances or the antagonism of pressure", "But the verb and noun when used of the present experience of believers refers almost invariably to that which comes upon them from without."

So the reason why the way is narrow is because once a person "believe on the name", when trials and tribulations come, then it must produce fruit, i.e., perseverance , godly character, patience, fruit of the Spirit. So in short, if you have entered the straight gate, there is no way persecution, suffering or tribulation will not come your way (which is the narrow way) and thereby if persevered will enter eternal life. Verses to consider (2 Tim 2:12, 22 Tim 3:12, Mt 5:10-12, Rom 8"16-18, Phil 1:29, 1 Thes 3:3-4, Heb 11:25, 1 pt 2:20-21, 1 Pt 3:14, 1 Pt 3:17, Mt 15:21, Rev 7:14, Rev 2:210)

The straight way for our Lord Jesus Christ was obedience unto death to the Father and the narrow way was crucifixion, thereby earning him from the Father Name above all names, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Savior, etc.

Where am I wrong or better yet, your thoughts please?

Thanks Dr.

Response #48:

Here is what I read in scripture:

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
John 14:6 NKJV

Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."
John 10:7-9 NKJV

The only way, road, door, means of salvation is Jesus Christ: belief/trust in Him for life eternal, who He is – the God-man – and what He has done for us in dying for our sins.

These other things you mention may be good applications – that is to say there is suffering in the Christian life (e.g., Acts 14:22; 1Thes.3:4); but if a pastor-teacher does want to make that application while teaching the passage you ask about, it would be important to point out with crystal clarity that the passage's interpretation is that only through Jesus Christ can we be saved. Otherwise, there is a chance of misunderstanding and adding works to salvation (then we have the RC church and no one is saved because all are depending on works, suffering or otherwise). N.B., in Matthew 7:13-14 the word is "strait" not "straight", and it also means "narrow" and is a synonym for the other Greek word here.

Keeping you and yours in my daily prayers, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #49:

Hello brother long time hope all is well. I like to ask a question several weeks ago I was invited to attend bible studies with my cousin. Well during this study time I guess you would say the leader started explaining that he can prove certain passages in the old testament "soul" is actually the Father God I had a lot of scriptures that jump in me that would say otherwise; I kept quiet because I wanted to see where he was going with it. He tied it with Matthew 22:37. The soul there is the father .

Have you heard of such a teaching and also what your opinion on such teachings. As all ways thank you and God Bless

Response #49:

Always a pleasure, my friend.

Jesus said to him, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind."
Matthew 22:37 NKJV

This is our Lord quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. In the verse "you" and "your" is the believer, and clearly NOT the Father. We are to love the Lord with all that is in us – and that is what "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" means (Mk.12:30; Lk.10:27 also add "might/strength").

And we have every reason to love Him with all that is in us!  For by means of the Gift of Jesus Christ we have life eternal, delivered from sin, from death and from damnation unto life eternal in resurrection in the New Jerusalem with the Lord we love.

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.


Ichthys Home