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Question #1:

Dr. Luginbill,

I have a question about the meanings of some Hebrew words. In Genesis 2:25 the bible says that 'Adam and Eve was naked but not ashamed' - the word naked is "arummim", "arom" (strongs #6174), and in Genesis 3:1 the bible says that 'the serpent was more cunning' - the word cunning is "arum" (strongs #6175). Can you tell me if these two words are related? And if so, how should the words (or concepts) be translated in the above verses?

Response #1:

Good to hear from you.

Here's the excerpt from Ichthys which speaks about this:

And the two of them, the man and his wife, were nude, but they felt no shame. And the serpent, more than any other wild creature which the Lord God had made, was shrewd.
Genesis 2:25-3:1a

The Hebrew word 'arum (ערום), rendered as "shrewd" above, is very difficult to translate into English. It refers to a complexity of character which may either be laudatory ("prudent, careful, circumspect") or derogatory ("wily, crafty, cunning"). Thus the King James translation is, in one sense, quite good, for "subtle" is one of only a handful of English adjectives that can bear the meaning of "deep and complicated" in reference to personality without choosing between positive and negative attribution. Now this is a very important issue in the interpretation of Genesis 3:1. The serpent, along with all other living things on the earth, was one of the Lord God's own creations (Gen.1:24-25). We cannot be sure of its appearance before it was cursed to crawl on its belly, but one thing of which we can be certain is that such a creature would never have been capable of (or interested in) tempting his human sovereigns to sin (cf. Gen.1:26 & 28). "Subtle" and "shrewd" bespeak a quality of animal personality without at the same time attributing to the serpent an innate malevolence – what it did, it did under the control and guidance of the devil (as we shall shortly see).

But within these famous verses of scripture is an important point often overlooked in exegesis: the final verse of chapter two is intimately connected with the opening verse of chapter three, and the paronomasia between "nude" and "shrewd" (i.e., between 'arom and 'arum: almost identical in the Hebrew) serves as a very deliberate connection and contrast. Adam and Eve are naked, and so unsophisticated in the ways of the world are they that they do not even perceive the necessity for what is perhaps the most basic of all human conventions, the wearing of clothing. One should expect nothing less from our first parents before partaking of the fruit of the forbidden tree: they had no cognizance or understanding of the difference between good and evil since everything they saw, or touched, or experienced in any way was good. Certainly they felt no shame at being naked – they hadn't even a clue what shame was.

In the animal kingdom, the wild creature who contrasted most sharply to our first parents was the serpent. His careful, circumspect, shy behavior was very different from the innocently open and straight-forward conduct of Adam and Eve. This was animal behavior, of course, behavior in quite a different category from our own, but inevitably viewed by us (and our first parents) in anthropomorphic terms (in the same way that we observe distinct "personalities" in our pet cats and dogs). Adam and Eve would certainly have even more reason to think in these terms if, indeed, some of what these pre-fall creatures uttered was perceptible to them (a distinct possibility since Eve, after all, does not seem at all shocked when the serpent addresses her). By calling the serpent "subtle" or "shrewd", scripture directs our attention to his worldliness in contrast to Adam and Eve's "nude" innocence, without, at the same time, making the serpent seem intrinsically bad (he certainly did not seem so to Adam and Eve before the fall). Thus the serpent was the perfect choice for Satan's attack, and apparently a creature very familiar to our first parents because of his uniqueness. Because his "personality" bespoke a careful "wisdom" of sorts, he was just the mouthpiece the devil was looking for to spread his lies.

Merry Christmas!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello Robert and thank you for the update.

Robert, I am in a bible study in 1 Samuel chapter 13 in verses 13-14 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.

Pastor said, hum how do I put this...

1. That Saul’s kingdom would not have been forever because he was not from the tribe Judah.

2. Samuel was the one who told Saul that if he followed God’s command that his kingdom would be established forever. Samuel, a man, and not God. The pastor said it as though the command came from Samuel (man), so therefore Saul really did not have accept the command as though the command was from God.

My response was, if Saul had not officiated the burnt offering which only someone from the tribe of Levi could do, breaking the commands of God, Saul’s kingdom would be until now.


You are always in my prayers

Response #2:

A good answer on your part! Of course failing to annihilate the Amalekites is what is laid at his feet as the "reason" by the Bible (1Sam.15:26-28; 28:18). While this might not possibly seem such a "big deal" to us, not following the Will of God when Saul was the representative of the Lord over Israel was a dire offense – and representative of all of his other willful and rebellious offenses. To whom much is given, much is expected (Lk.12:48) – just ask Moses who was not allowed to enter the land for a similar offense (similar in that he as the leader violated the Lord's express command).

Hope you are well – thanks for your prayers!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Genesis 46:20 (NASB)
20 Now to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him.

Question: Are there spiritual concerns to Joseph marrying one outside the family tree and especially an Egyptian?

Solomon also did this obviously. I'd also like to hear your take on this.

Also . . .

Genesis 47:16 (NASB)
16 Then Joseph said, “Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone.”

Joseph, in my opinion, arguably treats the Egyptian citizens cruelly. They had paid tribute to build the stockpile and were citizens. Joseph was in charge as a steward for the people of Egypt. Was this a sinful way to treat the Egyptian people because he made them give everything. I could easily see Joseph's actions for non-citizens but for Egyptians I read about his conduct and don't think its righteous conduct.

What do you think?

In our Lord and Savior,

Response #3:

On question #1, it was not only Solomon: there are also the examples of Judah and Tamar, Salmon and Rahab, Boaz and Ruth – to name other prominent examples in the line of the Lord. So this happened many other times as well. Since this was a command of the king, it doesn't seem that Joseph had a lot of choice in the matter. In any case, God worked it out for good, and we may be sure that since two tribes would be the result of the union, God would have prevented it if there were a problem with it. The separation of Israel from the gentiles was for spiritual safety as well as for symbolism, but in the end all believers are one in the Church of Jesus Christ, regardless of our genealogy.

On question #2, I don't think our modern notion of citizenship applies to ancient Egypt. Joseph was working for Pharaoh, not the people of Egypt, and in general absolute monarchy – under a beneficent monarch – is the ideal form of government for sinful human beings. After all, that is what we will have in the Millennium. Since the Egyptians had it good under Joseph when otherwise they would have all starved to death, his fortifying of this king's position through these means seems shrewd as well as merciful.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Isaiah 28:10,13 contains a statement that is popularly quoted about the interpretation of the Bible (that is, the so-called "line upon line, precept upon precept" approach). The NIV 84 footnote and the NIV Study Notes make sense to me when they say that the statement was gibberish that was deliberately written by Isaiah to say that since the people being addressed were rejecting the Truth and calling it nonsense, it would always sound like nonsense to them (comparing 28:11 appears to me to solidly confirm this position). What do you say about it, Sir?

Response #4:

As to "line upon line, and precept upon precept", it has both a literal meaning and also could sound nonsensical – loosely similar to a parable. The people don't "get it" and so it seems like mocking – which is exactly what they are doing vis-à-vis the truth: these words are actually taken from their own song of mockery; but the words literally expresses the only way to grow, one principle of truth at a time. For more details see Q/A #2 at the link.

Question #5:

Hi, Bob,

I am reading the book of Numbers (revisiting the OT) In chapter 2 the Lord is organizing the arrangement of the camp before the people leave Sinai. My question is about the standards of each tribe. I see familiar ones like lion, man, calf, eagle which resurface in Revelation (and Christian art) I reread the blessing of Jacob at the end of Genesis and cannot seem to find these images in the blessings, except for Judah referred to as a lion). Who made the decision for the emblems on these banners...God speaking, or the leader? I think it is so interesting that these 4 images are a thread Genesis to Revelation. Not a big issue and please do not research this. I just wondered if you had info on Numbers. There are so many ways that God set the pattern and that show the single story of the Scripture.

Just something for you to dwell on as you prepare for U of L, class issues, home issues...etc. Just thinking out loud.

Til later

Response #5:

On Numbers, there is no doubt a connection between these banners and standards (12 and 4 respectively) and the gems on the high-priest's breastplate and thus also with the gates of New Jerusalem (you can read what I've written about the latter at the link: "The Gemstone Foundations and the Tribal Gates of New Jerusalem").

These four groupings of encampment definitely correspond to the three-per-side groupings of the four sides of New Jerusalem (prior link). Whether or not there is/was a similar correspondence with the four standards of the groupings and the faces of the cherubim (who likewise stand on the four sides of the throne of God; see the link: "The Cherubim") is not stated in scripture, but it is an interesting and parallel and not accidental. As to whether or not there were images on the standards and on the banners, scripture is silent about that, of course. Given the biblical commands against making physical images (e.g., Ex.20:4; Deut.5:8; cf. Is.40:19-20; 44:10-20; 46:5-7; Jer.10:1-15), while that is not exactly the same thing it is similar enough that in the absence of biblical evidence to the contrary I would tend to doubt it.

Yes, we're running out of time fast! Article still a long way off from being done; lots of prep to do yet, not to mention getting the homestead buttoned-down before it all hits. On top of that I got stuck on personnel again. Fun and games.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

I want to get back to the subject of Ezekiel's temple sacrifices eventually because I came across a site with views somewhat like mine to my surprise. I believe there is something there in the sacrifices not being a memorial, although there may be a commemorative aspect. I view a memorial of animal sacrifices in looking back to Christ as somewhat blasphemous. Having been in the military through the influence of R.B. Thieme (I read that he greatly influenced you as well), I must admit that anything that takes away from the sacrificial death of a man for the sake of those he loves is repulsive to me. Communion can make me tear up; animals didn't die for me. Thus this is an important subject.

(Since I've found your website, I am quite excited to post. Thank you so much for replying to me about Ezekiel 40-48. I believe I found a brother who can sharpen me as iron sharpens iron. I am a seeker of the truth in Scriptures. Someday I may give my testimony, for now back to Melchizedek.)

You stated in your post about Melchizedek not being Christ: "It does not work to compare if they are one and the same person." He (Jesus) is in the "order of Melchizedek". Thus Jesus would have to be a different person if he was "in the order".

Answer: Jesus is the incarnate son of God who became man by his birth into the human race. Thus he became a different "person" as a human being, but he was "in the order of" what he was previously. He was as the "Angel of the Lord" in subsequent theophanies Gen. 17:1; 18:1-33 or previously in Gen. 12:7. In appearing as a priest of the Most High God, Abraham recognizes the interceding aspect of God and uses this to negotiate with God later about the righteous Lot in Sodom.

King of Salem was another name for him. I am not aware of there actually being a city called Salem in Abraham's time, nor is there any further reference in Scripture to this city. Salem could be heaven where he came from and where he is also king of righteousness. New Jerusalem could be from where he reigns in the future. Abraham not knowing this, may have searched for Salem. (Heb.11:10)

Melchizedek had no genealogy, but Jesus did. Jesus with a mankind incarnate genealogy is a different person, yet the same.

Tithes today are only paid to Jesus or Melchizedek (Heb. 7:8) The undesignated "he" in this verse in Greek could refer to either one, "he who lives".

The argument that he was made like the "Son of God", thus was not God, could be simply that he was made like the Son of God prior as Melchizedek and he becomes the Son of God incarnate as Jesus.

God bless you, please feel free to comment.

Response #6:

Good to hear back from you.

Yes, the Col. was/is my mentor, and I can't imagine this ministry without his insight and influence.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion on both of these matters. What I would most like to point out is that our methodology for interpreting scripture is different. As pointed out in the last email, scripture says that there are millennial sacrifices; it doesn't say they serve the purpose suggested. On this new point, scripture says that there was a Melchizedek; it doesn't say that he was a Christophany. Potential explanations of why things "might be" this way or that are sometimes helpful, but they aren't proof in a hermeneutic sense. They may be reasons for why you or I might not want to accept this or that interpretation, or why we might, but they are not proof in and of themselves.

So the fact that you are uncomfortable with animal sacrifice after the fact of our Lord's death on the cross and resurrection, while it may be reason to investigate, is not proof that it won't happen – it will happen – nor that it no longer speaks about the cross. In terms of the latter, all other animal sacrifice does so, and there is nothing I find in scripture to indicate that such is not the case once Israel is restored to her proper place in the world. Indeed, the descriptions of the sacrifices, such as they are in Ezekiel, are virtually identical to what happened under the Law. For that reason I find "memorial" a prudent explanation; but I find the alternative going a "bridge too far" without either sufficient reason to find it necessary to do so or any scriptural guidance which would allow it (not in the way I read those passages, at any rate).

On Melchizedek, this is of course a long-standing point of argument going back centuries. For someone who wants to consider him as a Christophany, I don't think that is going to be any sort of "make or break issue" (even though I don't agree with it). I'm merely trying to teach what I firmly believe the Bible has to say on the subject. We can discuss all of these points if you wish. Key to me however is what I read in Hebrews and what has always seemed decisive to me: ἀφωμοιωμένος δὲ τῷ υἱῷ τοῦ θεοῦ translated by NKJV as "made like the Son of God"; a little more literally this says "if/when compared to the Son of God". The fact that Jesus after the incarnation is the God-man (which He was not before) is not a valid objection: Jesus has always been "THE Son of God", and if someone is "compared to Him", that person by definition cannot be Him.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Good to hear back from you so quickly! I look forward now to corresponding with you. I appreciate your diligence in Scripture.

Regarding Col.Thieme, while he introduced me to doctrine back in 1970 when I was in Houston for several months--looking back over time I came to realize even in a few years after, that my life did not draw noticeably closer to the Lord just in learning doctrine or taking notes. My interest in the Bible was piqued, but it was just like I was interested suddenly in geology or another subject of study.

I also began to realize that not everything he taught was necessarily completely true or right. As I studied and sought the Lord's wisdom I began to see flaws as well in thinking knowing doctrine about God was the completed answer. 1 Corinthians 13 reveals a lot of this emphasis on gifts which includes learning knowledge alone apart from love and even faith apart from which "it is impossible to please God." Kenneth Copeland also has greatly influenced me in developing faith. We cannot neglect as well the "weightier matters of the law."

I am of Swiss-German extraction. I've noticed certain ethnicities or families of nations also have certain general giftings. Germans tend to be detail oriented, elder brothers like Aaron types; whereas Scotch-Irish backgrounds are more leadership, prodigal son types. We are all in this together as brothers. There is no need to covet other giftings like Uzziah. We will be rewarded on how we play our role with the gifting we have.

The German people who were Christian, because of their desire to get things right were instrumental in the Protestant Reformation, but as they got off into "vain jangling" and "striving about words to no profit" in their theological universities--they lost the faith of their fathers. I don't want to get this way!!-- to sit in an easy professorship chair and pontificate about doctrine like the Pharisees.

Jesus said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and hath revealed them unto babes."

I grew up among the Amish. With all their faults, their elders at least, saw what can happen when men no longer work with their hands or have to produce something useful to earn their bread. They get blinded to the realities of life, much like the intellectuals in the swamp in Washington DC which Trump has revealed to be bankrupt in wisdom and even in correct mentality.

So--regarding the Melchizedek controversy. Is this just vain jangling to no profit whether he was Jesus or not? Well, it is a nice detail puzzle to solve for me and maybe for you too. How much it counts in our spiritual life is only as good as the Bible explains how he was "like Jesus" who is our everything in what an abundant life as a Christian is supposed to be--the "Faith-Rest Life". You and I are viewing Melchizedek from our own perspective and we see things according to our viewpoint which we have bonded to. Thus as the saying goes--"a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

Will I be able to convince you Melchizedek was Jesus preincarnate? Probably not. Will you be able to convince me he was a homo sapiens only? Probably not. Only when our own wills, our own egos, our own bondings are given up and we cry to God for wisdom will the answers come as we hunger for answers like a baby who has no pride to defend. "Ask, (keep on) and it will be given you...", and even then there is more. "If any man thinketh he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." I Cor. 8:2. Doctrine is not the end all answer. Applying it to life in the Spirit and submission to Almighty God is the answer in the bond of love. Thus said, this is my analysis of the puzzle:

The Pharisees saw Jesus only as a man. The disciples viewed him as Messiah. They saw him as a man but a man who had God possessing his every word and action. They saw the divine in him.

You are emphasizing Melchizedek from the perspective of a man and found verses and logic to support it. You see the divine order of his priesthood in him as well--like the disciples would. Would you agree to this point? We actually have the mystery of the Trinity here.

I see myself emphasizing the divine order as the divine in him. Thus he is an "exact facsimile of God with regard to the Son". This is how I translate "made like the Son of God". I can't show Greek here, but "of God" is in the Genitive case and "to the Son" is Dative.

Jesus is an exact facsimile of the Father--even though a man. He is not the Father--but an exact representative of him. Thus he is divine or God in the flesh or the Son of God.
Melchizedek was an exact facsimile of God too, like a son is of his father. Thus he is exactly a facsimile of him as the Son of God would manifest himself to mankind before the incarnation, Actually, if you think from a another perspective, "made like the Son of God" can apply to Jesus too. Jesus was made like-- the exact facsimile (Son) of God,

Then again:
1) Melchizedek was without father or mother or descent. He was without, not just that it was not recorded.
2) He had no beginning of days nor end of life.
3) He is a priest forever (perpetuity)
4) He received tithes. Only God can receive tithes, for he gives us everything and the power to get wealth. Tithes go to the storehouse, yes, but ultimately that storehouse is heaven, where our treasure is.
5) He is the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace. Who else is king of these, but Jesus?
6) Abraham never visited or found Salem (if this word did mean a city), but he looked for a city whose builder and maker was God.

Thanks so much for hearing me out. I long for a place to express my thoughts--so I am grateful for your website. May God grant you insight from your perspectives and giftings.

Response #7:

Thanks for the detailed response. Apologies in advance that this will not be as long and detailed.

First, I'm not sure you've read everything on the site about this (all of the points you list are included in the details of these postings collectively). Here are the main links:

Melchizedek and the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ

New Testament Interpretation: Melchizedek

Christ the First-Born, High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek.

More on Melchizedek (two Q/As here)

Trust me when I say that I care what the Bible says. If the Bible didn't convince me that Melchizedek was a man but rather that he was a Christophany, that is what I would teach. I went the Bible's way on all manner of doctrines that conflicted with what Col. Thieme taught. I respect him as a mentor. But I have to stand with the Bible, no matter what.

So if I thought the other points which seem persuasive to you were correct or, more to the point, that they outweighed the main one I made to you, I would be happy to change my view. It's doesn't matter to me personally; I didn't write it; I only read and interpret it.

Melchizedek is "compared to the Son of God"; ergo Melchizedek is someone different from the Son of God. I don't see any other way to read this passage. Since all of the other points in my view have answers and this one doesn't, I will be sticking to the proposed interpretation absent new information.

I get that people have different perspectives. However, the Bible says what it says and means what it means. I have devoted my life to trying to figure that out as best I can and share it with those who want to grow in Spirit and truth. I think the results (which are not mine, truth to tell) speak for themselves.

So, if you are a pastor-teacher, I respect your right to make these "calls" yourself: you are responsible to the Lord for what your teach, after all, and that is an awesome responsibility.

But if you are not gifted as a teacher, and, even if you are, if you have not yet gotten to the point through study, training and preparation where you are capable of feeding yourself spiritually and others too, then you need to attach yourself to a ministry where you can grow and can be fed. It's not a matter of points like this; it's a matter of authority. Col. Thieme was certainly right about that. No one can grow by merely amassing information in the brain. Only what is true can produce growth, and only if it is believed. A person can be aware of ten different interpretations of a passage/issue and be able to recite and extrapolate them wonderfully well; he/she can even have a preference as to which one is probably right; but a) if he/she is not right, and even more to the point b) if he/she does not really have enough confidence in said point of truth to believe it, then there is no profit whatsoever. In fact, this scholastic approach is more likely to harden the heart over time than it is to lead someone closer to Jesus Christ. Neither the merely academic effort nor the hyper-emotional anti-academic approaches work. Scripture says there are teachers placed in the Church for the edification of its members. All who are not teachers, can only really get anywhere positive and substantial by learning from a good source AND believing what is taught.

To that end, my suggestion is as ever that you find a source you can, after vetting, trust with a high level of confidence; then, study, learn and believe as much truth as you can. I certainly would never deign to suggest that Ichthys is the ONLY such place; but it is one such place, and, quite frankly, the number of places out there in the waning days of Laodicea is shockingly small. One other place I always recommend is pastor-teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy (at the link); see also now BibleDocs (link).

You are certainly welcome here any time, my friend. All materials are available free of charge and anonymously.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Greetings again Dr. Luginbill,

We continue sleuthing along here seeking to discover Melchizedek's identity.
I did read the 4 sites you noted for me to read which you wrote on this subject. It was difficult for me to get the gist of your interpretation of the last phrase of Heb.7:3--"with regard to the comparison of the Son of God, he remains a priest continually."

As I understand it, you are saying the comparison is not concrete but only a facsimile or painting. This is because M has no recorded end of life and he is in this sense only comparable to the Son God who has no end of life in reality--thus no end of priesthood.

Thus if M and the Son of God were the same people how could the author of Hebrews (apparently Paul) draw a comparison?

Whereas I take the phrase to be saying, "being made an exact facsimile with regard to the Son of God, he remains a priest continually (because he is equal to him)". I don't believe the Greek grammar here is the problem, rather it is the spirit in which the whole section here and actually all of Hebrews is to be understood.

You stated in a previous posting that Jesus was always THE Son of God. However, if we look at Hebrews 1 we find several references to the Son of God being a new term for the 3rd person of the Trinity. "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." There is a reference to Ps. 2:7, I Sam. 7:14, Ps. 45:6-7 all of which describe Jesus after his incarnation. Even Ps. 110:1 is describing the Son of David as Jesus stated.

In Luke 1:34, the holy thing born of Mary is to be called the Son of God. In Acts 13:33, the fulfillment of the term Son of God is only after his resurrection! So especially with regard to the book of Hebrews, the 3rd person was not always called the Son of God.

Thus the reference of comparison with the Son of God in Heb. 7:3 makes sense and within the context of Hebrews. He was not the Son of God with regard to mankind in his preincarnate state, and thus Melchizedek as such was type of what the Son of God would be.

I perceive as well that you have a presupposition based on your belief in Gentile patriarchy and how you believe a Gentile man, Melchizedek, must have been a priest in the area for those who believed in the true God. I may be wrong in how you view this for Melchizedek, but I did read your paragraph about this subject. This is not in Scripture, although it might be true, but I can't let that guide my understanding unless the Spirit so directs. Based on the description of M in Heb. 7:1-3 he was not a typical Gentile priest, but so much more.

Regarding being under authority---it is true we need to listen to teachers and shepherds God has given us. However, we all have a specific teacher, the Holy Spirit as it states in 1 John. If the Holy Spirit teaches us then He will confirm to us the teaching of our authority. If not, or if I am not growing closer to God or the counsel is not working, then God has other shepherds for me and I am guided to another. I am to call no man my Master on earth for I have one Master in heaven. Any teacher I have, I am to let him be my servant to bring me closer to God.
Thus I am not bonded to R.B. Thieme's teaching.

May God grant us all understanding,

Response #8:

I think you are misunderstanding me on all points.

On Melchizedek: Hebrews 7:3 says that Melchizedek was "made like the Son of God" (NKJV); but in the Greek text the grammar makes clear that Melchizedek in the nominative is NOT "the Son of God" Himself since "the Son of God" is in a completely different case (i.e., in the dative: ἀφωμοιωμ νος δὲ τ υἱ το θεος). Since Melchizedek is "made like TO" the Son of God, Melchizedek cannot at the same time BE the Son of God. If I say that an oak tree is, in some respects, "like an elm", by definition I mean that an oak is NOT an elm, similarities aside. That is what Paul says. That is very clear. It really can't be taken any other way. There are plenty of other reasons why Melchizedek is not Jesus Christ, but here is a place where the Bible says so definitively, and we need go no farther.

As to authority, no one is asking you to be bound to Col. Thieme's teaching or anyone else'. It is true, however, that without giving your spiritual allegiance over to a substantive teaching ministry it is impossible to grow past a certain point, and I think the esoteric approach you have clearly adopted makes this abundantly clear. No Christian without the teaching gift AND the preparation and experience which makes him fit to employ it can provide enough spiritual nutrition to grow. Moreover, taking the tack that "I have the ability to decide on every point of doctrine what's right and what's wrong" is merely opposing the Holy Spirit. If you want to know the truth, He guides you to a place where you can learn it. But if you decide that you know better than the gifted and prepared individual who is trying to help you, you will believe nothing you are taught and so your "learning" will only fuel arrogance without at the same time contributing to spiritual growth.

I certainly hope you can take all this in the spirit in which it is meant, namely, deeply desiring your spiritual safety, spiritual growth, and spiritual production down the road – that is the way to win the three crowns of eternal reward (link).

As I say, far be it from me to suggest that Ichthys is the "only place" you can learn and have the confidence to put your faith in what you're being taught. I also recommended to you Bible Academy, as an example (link). But you do have to start somewhere if and when you decide to get serious about this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Well, first off. Did you read entirely my last posting about Melchizedek? You did not address the different point I made about the Son of God.
This makes me wonder if you have time to answer all the questions that come in daily or hurriedly skim for the basics. I really don't know how you have time anyway or if you have staff that answer on your behalf. Don't you get a lot of mail?

Anyway, I will copy and paste only the relevant section of my last posting and stay with one subject at a time. If I have time I will discuss tongues and authority in separate postings.

Melchizedek: I don't believe the Greek grammar here is the problem, rather it is the spirit in which the whole section here and actually all of Hebrews is to be understood.

You stated in a previous posting that Jesus was always THE Son of God. However, if we look at Hebrews 1 we find several references to the Son of God being a new term for the 3rd person of the Trinity. "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." There is a reference to Ps. 2:7, I Sam. 7:14, Ps. 45:6-7 all of which describe Jesus after his incarnation. Even Ps. 110:1 is describing the Son of David as Jesus stated.

In Luke 1:34, the holy thing born of Mary is to be called the Son of God. In Acts 13:33, the fulfillment of the term Son of God is only after his resurrection! So especially with regard to the book of Hebrews, the 3rd person was not always called the Son of God.

Thus the reference of comparison with the Son of God in Heb. 7:3 makes sense and within the context of Hebrews. He was not the Son of God with regard to mankind in his preincarnate state, and thus Melchizedek as such was type of what the Son of God would be.

I perceive as well that you have a presupposition based on your belief in Gentile patriarchy and how you believe a Gentile man, Melchizedek, must have been a priest in the area for those who believed in the true God. I may be wrong in how you view this for Melchizedek, but I did read your paragraph about this subject. This is not in Scripture, although it might be true, but I can't let that guide my understanding unless the Spirit so directs. Based on the description of M in Heb. 7:1-3 he was not a typical Gentile priest, but so much more.

Thankful for the opportunity to spar with you,

Response #9:

I did see this but I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. Jesus Christ – by whatever name – is the same "yesterday, today and forever" (Heb.13:8). Hebrews says Melchizedek is "like the Son of God" – which means he is NOT the Son of God; it cannot mean that he IS the Son of God, by whatever name. At Hebrews 7:15, I read that "it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest", meaning our Lord, our High Priest. Note: "another priest" . . . who by definition here is not THE SAME priest. Honestly, I truly do not wish to get any deeper into any discussion that suggests that Jesus has not always been "the Son of God" (see the link: "The Persons of God"). This is theologically very dangerous territory. If you must go down this road, I strongly suggest you keep it to yourself and not share it with others who might be led astray.

So Melchizedek was unique? That is Paul's entire point. The fact that he was unique does not make him Christ (which he was not). In fact the analogy only works if it is an analogy, comparing one person to Another; it doesn't make any sense if there is in fact no comparison.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,
Well, I guess we have exhausted Melchizedek and will have to disagree. I say that not out of pride or stubbornness--I just can't "hear" what you are saying. It does not sit in my spirit as correct. I understand the point about you can't compare the same things, thus why would Paul compare Melchizedek to the Son of God if he was the Son of God. I get that point.

Perhaps the main reason I came to this, in looking back over my study in Hebrews was the "without father, without mother, without descent,...etc. problem, which I take literally and do not add [in Scripture] to these words. You have to add these brackets to Scripture to fit the comparison phrase.

Secondly, Jesus surely is the same yesterday, today and forever. But to me, this is his essence, his character, his divinity in other words. You point this out in your Trinity explanation.
(Actually, the Greek word aphomoioo for "made like" in Heb. 7:3 comes from the root, homoioo, which according to Strong's the adjective form stresses the "outward similarities with nothing being considered about the inward realities.")
He certainly remains the 3rd person of the Trinity as he was in eternity past. But there was a point in time when he "was made (ginomai) in the likeness" of men. Phil. 2:7 Thus there must have been a time when he was not in the "likeness" of men.
This does not mean there was a time when he was not subordinate to the Father, or was not God.

Thirdly then, we have no problem scripturally with the 3 person of the Trinity appearing as an "Angel of the Lord" who apparently looked like a man (though in reality was not of his flesh and blood as he was when born of Mary.) (Gen. 18:1-2) Maybe it is strange that he should appear as a priest, but he also appeared to Joshua as Captain of the Host of the Lord and in a similar way, we also may entertain strangers who are angels unaware.

At least we can agree that Jesus was in the order of Melchizedek and not the inferior Levitical order.

Now I will address Authority: You put in quotes something I did not post: "I have the ability to decide on every point of doctrine what's right and what's wrong". I do not believe this, but I do believe I John 2:20; "ye have an unction from the Holy One and ye know all things." and verse 27; " But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."
I don't believe this is an issue between us.

You stated: "But if you decide that you know better than the gifted and prepared individual who is trying to help you, you will believe nothing you are taught and so your "learning" will only fuel arrogance without at the same time contributing to spiritual growth." This is true,because the "I" is in charge, not the Holy Spirit or Jesus.

I do not believe I know better, but I do have the Holy Spirit and if something does not fit right or as John 10 says "the sheep did not hear them." That is I can't hear that teaching, then I expect the Holy Spirit to guide me to the truth. He can use various means to do that. The first way is to confront my teacher and talk to him about it per Matt. 18. This is just what we are doing and hopefully we can come to the truth together. If we can't, well, there are some things we perhaps can't grasp yet. I am always reminded of I Cor. 8:2. Iron sharpens iron, nonetheless.

Final authority resides in "we the people" in the church and government, but also the individual is responsible for what he believes. We end up in heaven because of what we believe, not just because Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Thus we are the final authority, just as the woman who says yes or no, to the man asking her hand in marriage who just slew the dragon about to consume her. There is no merit in making an idol out of an authoritative shepherd, I am to make him my servant to lead me to Christ's teaching. The unction from the Spirit should confirm all things.

Response #10:

Your point 1): "add to scripture": It is not adding to scripture to explain it correctly; explaining it incorrectly and calling that "literal" does a great disservice to the Church. "Without genealogy" MEANS no genealogy recorded "in the Bible". Melchizedek came from Salem, a city; he had a genealogy; it's just not recorded. That is the point.

Your point 2): I have no idea what your are talking about here, but you clearly are not "hearing what I am saying". It's pretty simple. If I compare you to a Frenchman you are by definition not "that particular Frenchman". It takes a complete lack of understanding of language to willfully refuse to get that point.

Your point 3): He is the 2nd person, not the third (that is the Spirit). The fact that Christophanies occurred – they certainly did – does NOT necessitate that THIS was a Christophany. It was not.

On authority:

But you have an anointing from the Holy One (i.e., the universal indwelling of the Spirit to believers), and you all know [this] (i.e., the anointing is so powerful that every believer is aware of His presence).
1st John 2:20

But as for you, the anointing which you received from Him remains in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you [this (i.e., v.26 and previous)]. But just as His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and not false, so also as He has taught you, remain in Him.
1st John 2:27

This is what the verses means, like it or not. They do NOT mean that you don't need a teacher:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV

By all means, follow the Spirit. If you are seeking the truth, the Spirit will guide you to a place where you can learn it. But if you are only playing around . . .

In Jesus who is the very Word of truth.

Bob L.

Question #11:

Dr. Luginbill,

I had an answer your last post about Melchizedek and Authority, but I'm not going to post it because before God it is not profiting spiritually for both of us.

It is petty to argue about this minor point in regard to Melchizedek which has extended to the more important subjects of tongues and authority, and use it to divide from a brother in Christ. Obviously Paul in Hebrews does not flatly state that Melchizedek was the preincarnate Christ and solve all question.

Also, since there was a place apparently called Salem in those days as Josephus attests to and it would seem strange that a Christophany would be king of it and also a priest; I can see your point why you believe Melchizedek must have been a man. Then again as well, in Joshua's day there was Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem. Because of the similar name there must be some connection from the past to Melchizedek.as well.

So I humble myself, embrace the cross, where Jesus died for us, and respect your right to believe as you do about Melchizedek.
Regarding tongues and authority, I've spoken what I believe generally. I would like to write more about these "important" subjects, but perhaps I've said enough there as well.

Though I don't know you, I love you as my brother. I'm sure we have many things in common though we haven't sat down for coffee about them.

Just to let you know, I was a pastor for 14 years and a Protestant prison chaplain for 15 years as well as a National Guard chaplain, starting out in the Field Artillery with 3 years active duty. Rev. Thieme, for the short time I was in Houston changed my life. Because of him I entered the military and studied Greek and Latin as an undergraduate major and some Hebrew, going on to seminary and then the pastorate.

I am now retired and drive taxi part time.

God bless you and your ministry,
P.S. Please excuse my confusion about the 2nd and 3rd persons of the Trinity. I truly am embarrassed about that.

Response #11:

I appreciate your spirit, brother. Thanks for the background, and also thank you for your service.

I agree that this point is not one on which I would separate. And it is absolutely true that the cross, as I like to say, "answers all questions, fulfills all promises, and refutes all lies". This is all about Jesus Christ and what He's done for us.

No worries about 2nd vs. 3rd – I had a feeling that was a typo. Given how many I commit, I certainly can't throw stones there!

Col. Thieme's ministry changed my life as well, and I had and still have the utmost respect for him. That didn't keep me from going the other way on doctrinal points when I was convinced by scripture, conscience and the Spirit that the truth lay elsewhere. It's all about the truth. As I also like to say, Christians should be helping each other draw closer to the truth. Sometimes, oftentimes, this is a "circle in on it" process wherein each circle draws closer in (rather than a bee-line to the center). And it takes effort and strain. Eggs will be broken in making this omelet. But it's worth it. And what a contrast to the vast majority of lukewarm Laodicea which is spinning AWAY from the center of truth under the pull of emotion, ritual and downright laziness.

So keeping plugging away, my friend. The truth is the truth and it exerts it's own gravity -- for all who are willing to be drawn to it.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Bob,

I read on Ichthys a reader asking why God had Moses' staff become a snake since a snake represents evil and they are instinctively considered disgusting animals by most humans. Do you think that it was because God foreshadowed Moses overcoming evil since he grabbed it's tail and conquered it in the same way he would conquer Pharaoh's armies through God's power at the red sea and through the plagues beforehand?

Response #12:

It's possible. Snakes are found by many people to be scary because they can be dangerous and God does use all manner of intimidating means against evil (thunder, lightning, storms, wild animals, evil nations, etc.); I'm sure if Moses' staff had turned into a bunny rabbit, while Pharaoh might have been impressed by the miracle, it wouldn't have had the same effect.

Question #13:

Hi Bob.

They die in their youth, among male prostitutes of the shrines.
Job 36:14 NIV

Does qodeshim (Heb. "holy") mean that these prostitutes were considered holy in those days? Or does it mean the righteous will die like the temple prostitutes?

I apologize for kicking a dead horse, but this one, for some reason, has me flummoxed. Maybe, I'm over-thinking and should let it rest awhile.

Yours in Jesus,

Response #13:

It's a little of both, I would say: 1) in terms of being "holy" . . . only in the eyes of those for whom "holiness" is paganism. Compare:

Who say, ‘Keep to yourself,
Do not come near me,
For I am holier than you!'
These are smoke in My nostrils,
A fire that burns all the day.
Isaiah 65:5 NKJV

"Those who sanctify [i.e., "make holy"] themselves and purify themselves,
To go to the gardens
After an idol in the midst,
Eating swine’s flesh and the abomination and the mouse,
Shall be consumed together," says the LORD.
Isaiah 66:17 NKJV

2) It is those who refuse God's warnings to them and are not willing to repent who suffer the fate described. Here is NKJV on the previous Job verse talking about the same individuals:

"But the hypocrites in heart store up wrath;
They do not cry for help when He binds them."
Job 36:13 NKJV

The Hebrew has "polluted/godless/profane of heart" – suggesting apostates.

Hope you're doing well, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Dear Teacher

Thank you for the answers in this last email posting. When he and I discussed it and he said that you disagreed with my position, I wasn't sure what the disagreement was. I didn't get a copy of the exchange from him ( I neglected to ask for the same reason that you don't like to be the last word for us in our discussions and debates).

Now that I've read them though, I think that maybe he misunderstood me a bit judging by:

Apropos to the present discussion of Tamar, all this means that God wouldn't "work through" sex outside of marriage (or "redeem it" due to circumstances, or whatever) such that it would somehow not be at all sinful for Tamar to do what she did (namely, dress up like a prostitute and sleep with her father-in-law), right? Or is this train of logic flawed in some place?

I think that what it adds up to is fine enough, but I suppose I wouldn't have said "work through." I held that what she did was wrong in and of itself but that God could certainly use it for His purposes just as Adam's sin opened the way for the Messiah even though he should not have sinned.

But I also gained some correction. I see your argument for being generous to others whose circumstances and person we don't really know. There's always so much more going on under the hood than we know so that we should be much more hesitant about judging others than I was in that case. I just couldn't see how we could judge sex that is not with a husband as sin even if we were to bear with those who commit it since they might have had pressures that we couldn't begin to imagine in our own circumstances.

I took away from the discussion that once we "miss the turn" and make the wrong decision, we tend to end up in a complicated situation that human beings become unable to judge righteously. At that point, humility calls for us to disengage and just trust that God will judge everything correctly. As for lessons, we can take two: (1) Don't miss the turn; (2) God can do much more than we imagine with the mess that we make of things. Beyond that, best to be reserved in judgment.

Your student in Jesus

Response #14:

I'm glad you found it helpful!

No worries on reported conversation or your interpretation. I make it a point not to put any particular stock in any third hand reports, so I focused on what had been written to me.

Also, I think it is of course prudent when teaching the Bible to warn off one's listeners from anything sexual or suggestive. We certainly would want to be careful about giving anyone the impression that there was anything in what Tamar did that we would want someone to duplicate! And immature Christians get all sorts of odd ideas, believe me. So putting a warning context around that episode is important.

But it is true that we have to interpret based upon all the information we are given. If a woman is raped, we certainly cannot suggest that she did anything wrong. Being pressured by the king of Israel may not have made Bathsheba's situation a legally, technical rape, but it was close, even if she was not without a measure of responsibility for her prior actions. And in fact it may be so close as to make not much of a difference. Similarly, in Tamar's case, putting a woman in that day and age into that situation – being made an "un-person", essentially, by wrongly shutting her off from marriage and progeny through no fault of her own – was likewise to subject her to force majeure, an unacceptable necessity (the way it was perceived in those days) which required desperate action. Remember that she was almost burned to death – and so she surely would have understood that such might have been the penalty even so; only Judah's righteous response saved her from that fate. She thus clearly felt that the very real possibility of a horrible death was better than the status quo, and we have to take that into account in our interpretation.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Dear Teacher

I wondered what you think of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. In my opinion, both became believers through their relationship with Daniel. I base this on Daniel 4 for the former and Daniel 6:26-27 and 11:1 compared with Psalm 34:7 and Matthew 18:10 for the latter. Nebuchadnezzar throws me off a bit with Daniel 4:8. I wonder about the "name of my god" bit and whether he essentially just took God on as maybe the greatest of all gods, but not the only God.

Your student in Jesus

Response #15:

On your question, Nebuchadnezzar was unquestionably saved as Daniel chapter four makes abundantly clear (in Dan.4:8a he seems to be speaking historically and nationally, but later in the verse he attributes divinity to THE God; I would translate "god" and "God" respectively).

As to Belshazzar, given the description of him and his behavior in Daniel chapter five, I'm surprised that you think so. I think you must mean Darius. That is possible based upon Daniel chapter six and his reaction to Daniel's miraculous deliverance. I'm a bit puzzled by your Psalm 34:7 and Matthew 18:10 references, however.

Thanks for keeping me in the loop!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Dear Teacher

That was a typo! Wow! I didn't realize that I said Belshazzar until I read your email. I suspect it was because Belshazzar was in my reading in the morning just before I emailed you. I meant Darius.

About Psalm 34:7 and Matthew 18:10, I was referring to the fact that the elect angels are given by the Lord to protect believers, not unbelievers. In Daniel 11:1, a high-ranking angel takes on the duty to "support and protect" Darius. Maybe kings and all rulers are granted some of this irrespective of their attitude to God, but I'm not sure that I know any part of the Bible that suggests that. If this angel takes on the duty to support Darius then, does that strengthen the possibility that he became a believer in his first year, maybe from the experience with Daniel in the lions' den?

Will try to be regular with the updates, Sir.

Your student in Jesus

Response #16:

I thought so!

You seldom make typos or mistakes (unlike yours truly), so I thought maybe you meant Darius.

As to angels, well, the "guardian angels" of Matthew 18:10 are for all children – and most of them do not grow up to be believers. And, yes, we know that there is a special warfare going on around leaders of nations (e.g., Dan.10:20-21). Darius was clearly impressed by the miracle, and he said what all these rulers say when they witness the power of God – but whether or not that means that he/they have put their faith in Him for salvation, well, that's hard for me to tell from what we have.

Keeping you in prayer.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Dear Br Bob

Hope you and everyone around you are keeping well.

I need your help! How do you explain this passage, in a way that is consistent with God’s pure and holy character.

2 Samuel 16:10-11
10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ ” 11 And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him.

Thanks In Advance, Your Loving Brother In Christ,

Response #17:

I don't think this has anything directly to do with God: these are David's words. This is David's way of putting it all in the Lord's hands. After all, everything that happens is in the plan of God and the plan is perfect. Just as Job said, "the Lord gave and the Lord took away – blessed be the Name of the Lord!" We know that God works everything out for our good – for we who love Him (Rom.8:28). So whenever anything amiss happens, isn't it right to realize that it couldn't happen without God, and that God has things in mind we can't imagine? David was suffering from divine discipline (for killing Uriah on account of Bathsheba), but he confessed his sin and it was forgiven (2Sam.12:13), and he is now putting it all in the Lord's hands to work it out for good, even though at that moment this particular offense was no doubt very hard to bear. As king, he could have had the man killed – but the Lord blessed David in place of the curses he was receiving, and restored his kingdom in the end . . . just as he had said and hoped.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi Bob

In Matthew 22:43 Jesus said, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:…..

In this case, when David says “So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ ” Is he not also speaking in the Spirit?

God Bless

Response #18:

David was given to pen scripture under the inspiration of the Spirit. So was Peter. Peter said and did some things that were clearly wrong (such as rebuking the Lord and also denying the Lord), and these are recorded in the gospels accurately through the Spirit's inspiration of those who wrote the gospels. See the difference? Bible books which record historical details record them accurately. But just because a person mentioned therein is a believer, even a great believer, does not mean that everything he/she says in a historical context is right or authorized by God (same thing for their actions). This is a big issue in people drawing the wrong conclusions from the book of Acts (see the link).

In this case, I wouldn't read too much into it. As I mentioned before, this is David accepting his discipline from the Lord, and, indeed, in the end the Lord did restore him . . . and put Shimei to shame.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Dear Brother Luginbill,

Hope this letter finds you well! Just like to run some Bible study questions by you to see what you think on these issues/topics.

1. Tattoos has become quite fashionable and popular among Christians and even among ministers and pastors. However, as far as I understand, the Bible clearly prohibits it in Lev 19:28. And there are many other verses to admonish us to take care of our bodies as it is the temple of God. Also, we are told to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, our bodies belong to the Lord, so we are not at liberty to do what we want to our bodies. But recently I have heard Christians saying that they have studied the Bible and cannot find anything wrong with tattoos as the Bible says nothing against it. So I just want to bring this topic to you to see how would you respond?

2. Regarding Jonah. Did Jonah die in the belly of the fish? His prayers mentioned he cries out from the belly of Sheol and many other references could lead to the conclusion that he was dead and cried out from hell. Also, Jesus said that he would be in the earth for 3 days and 3 nights just like Jonah in the belly of the whale. Jonah was definitely as type of Jesus' death and resurrection in that regard. So could it be that he did die in the fish?

3. Regarding teachings and insights coming from the Talmudic tradition. How much weight do you place on the understandings of the Old Testament coming from the Talmudic tradition? There are many Talmudic traditions that fills in on many of the background information according to their understanding and tradition. So how should Christians use or not use those to further understand the Bible?

Thank you for your ministry and the Bible studies you have made available to all of us out there!

God bless,

Response #19:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

1) On tattoos, first, here are some links to prior postings on this subject:

More on Tattoos

Tattoos – and links to other postings

In essence, while there are some passages in the Law which seem to address the issue, they are focused on pagan markings given as part of pagan worship. So I'm not prepared to say that this sort of thing is forbidden by the Bible. Personally, I'm not a fan for many reasons, but that is my own opinion. One thing we can say for certain, however, is that the tattoo which antichrist's religion will require, "the mark of the beast", is definitely forbidden (Rev.13:1ff.). And it is probably the case that all the body-marking going on at present is at least removing the previous societal prejudice against this sort of things, thus removing one barrier of resistance for the time when most of the world will submit to this particular tattoo.

2) "Jonah was definitely as type of Jesus' death and resurrection in that regard". That is certainly true. However, typology is meant to convey only certain points of similarity, not to be exact in every detail (it is never that). Jonah was "gone" for three days and three nights, under the sea, as far as anyone was concerned, the place of death. But God brought him back from there in a miraculous way. It occurs to me that if physical death and resuscitation had been the plan, there would have been no need for a whale (Heb. literally "great fish"). Nothing is impossible for God, but I don't find anything in the passage that suggests physical death, and, as I say, the fact of the whale rescuing him from drowning convinces me that such was not the case. It has been opined that Jonah's appearance was altered by this experience as well. Being soaked in gastric juices that long might have bleached his clothes and hair and skin bright white -- and made his appearance to the people of Nineveh all the more shocking.

3) "How much weight do you place on . . . Talmudic tradition?" Zero, essentially. The Talmud is basically a commentary on the Mishnah, which is a commentary on the Pentateuch. It is possible that there is some antiquarian information in the Mishnah which may be helpful to some and may be true, but a) it's difficult to tell since the Mishnah was written several centuries after the fall of Jerusalem, and b) it is concerned with niceties of the Law, sacrifice and the like, which have no particular spiritual significance, even if true. The Talmud was written some five more centuries later and is thus a commentary on a commentary about issues of a non-spiritual nature written by unbelievers who reject on principle the truth of the Word of God. I've spent sufficient time on these materials to satisfy myself, moreover, that it's not a profitable undertaking for believers to pursue them in gruesome detail. Additionally, the Talmud is written in Aramaic, so it's not even helpful for understanding biblical Hebrew.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi, Brother Luginbill,

Thank you very much for your answer to the questions. I have some follow up discussion if you don't mind!

1. The articles that you have written on tattoos are very helpful and I think you addressed many of the concerns and reasons of not getting a tattoo, especially from the point of walking a separated, holy and sanctified life, that has to be distinguishable from the walks of the World and the fashion of this age. However, I disagree that even though most of the people getting tattoos are not actively doing a pagan ritual, the origin of this very act is definitely evil and is related to worshiping the dead as the Bible indicates, and supported by evidence from historical records we have from many other cultures. So I am thinking that this very act IS part of the pagan ritual, even if the participants do not realize or understand its significance. I think they err in ignorance, but this act definitely does not originate from the natural order God has created. And it is not commanded by God for us to do so (counter point: circumcision is commanded by God in the Old Covenant). So I think we cannot disassociate acts that originated from pagan rituals from its spiritual meaning.

Also, would you agree that Cain was the first person that was marked (tattooed)? And his mark is also related to the mark of the beast. And as you know many cultures tattoo their prisoners and criminals, probably following this principle of the mark of Cain? However, I also agree that it is clear from the Word of God that getting a tattoo is not going to send someone to help, not for that reason.

2. About Rabbinical Talmuds and etc. I totally understand that as Christians we should not take too much in what the Talmuds teaches, especially concerning doctrines. However, I am wondering if some of the extra historical "insights" and some "insights" related to the Hebrew language can be gleaned from it?

For example, in Exodus 13:18, it talked about Israel went up harnessed (armed) out of the land of Egypt. And from what I have read, that word could be a different word if the vowels are placed differently and meaning "5th" or "one out of 5". So the LXX version I have reads, "in the fifth generation of the children of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt". But according to some rabbi, that word could mean "one out of five", so they concluded that only one of out 5 Israelites left Egypt with Moses. For this interpretation, perhaps there are some contradictions with other parts of the Word of God, but it also lines up with the principle of freedom of choices that God gives to people. We know some Egyptians, mixed multitudes left with the Israelites, so could it be also true that some Israelites choose to stay behind in Egypt?

Perhaps I am wrong here, but I am thinking maybe these other ways of looking at scriptures are not totally worthless? Perhaps we can view some of them with caution?

Another example maybe less meaningful, which is that according to rabbinical tradition, Orpah, Ruth's sister in law, became the mother of Goliath and his brothers. Historically, it is questionable, if we assume Goliath and the giants have a normal human span of life, since Ruth was David's great grandmother.

However, compare these traditions to Christian Church's tradition, such that Peter was crucified upside down and many other Church (catholic) traditions, I would think they both probably belong to similar categories in terms of their moral and teaching values? Or should we place more value on traditions passed down from the Church?

Anyway, thank you as always for your time and effort to share God's Word!

God bless,

Response #20:

1) As to "the origin of this very act is definitely evil", I don't find this a valid basis for telling Christians that things are right or wrong if they are not spelled out as such in the Bible. Christmas trees have a questionable origin, but having one does not mean that the person in question is involving him/herself in paganism. The same thing goes for celebrating Christmas and Easter, neither of which are commanded or suggested in scripture, but while I personally do not celebrate them in any particular way, I'm loath to tell other Christians that they are doing wrong – because in my view scripture does not authorize that sort of stricture for "disputable matters" (Rom.14:1). Same goes for tattoos . . . and many other things that are forbidden by the Mosaic Law either directly or, in this case, not so directly. After all, when the Jerusalem council gave its guidance to the gentiles. only direct involvement in pagan religion via strangulation of animals, eating blood and engaging in ritual fornication were forbidden (whereas they could easily have come up with a VERY long list, one that included tattoos, e.g.). So while if you, personally, don't wish to get a tattoo for whatever reason, I have no issues with that (I feel the same way); but I would counsel against telling other Christians that they are violating scripture or engaging in paganism if they choose to do so, because I don't find that to be a valid position. We are not under the Law and, as suggested in the link, the passages in question are ambiguous. A more profitable approach might be one which I took with a loved one many years ago when asked about this when said person was clearly thinking about getting one. I replied, "what would your reaction be if you met your new doctor and he/she was covered in tattoos on arms and face?" Clearly, this would not induce great confidence in said doctor – which goes to show that everything we do (and say) reflects on us and on our character. And if we would be leery of trusting a profession who had an unprofessional appearance, maybe we should apply that lesson to ourselves.

As to Cain, we don't know what the mark was but it was not a tattoo since God gave it to Him and God doesn't do tattooing (see the link). Since God is the origin of the "sign" ('oth = sign; not tav = mark) for Cain meant for good and since the devil is the source of the mark of the beast (which IS a humanly produced tattoo) meant for evil, they clearly have zero in common.

2. I think your own analysis here gives some idea of the "value" of this traditional material. I.e., it has very little. As far as playing with the text is concerned, anyone can do that, changing the vowels, e.g., if one has a knowledge of Hebrew. The LXX is not nearly as valuable as often supposed; the Masoretic text is solid, but the LXX's is not. It occasionally gives us some insights, but in a very limited way. So in short I wouldn't put any stock in any of these possibilities you mention; they may tickle the ear but they lead away from the truth. That's the sort of thing you can expect unbelievers to produce, after all. N.B., most of the stuff in the Church fathers is equally questionable. We have the Bible. We should pay attention to that.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Dr. Luginbill,

I'm reading through Part 1: Theology in your Bible Basics series and I'm going over the verses you insert with my 1599 Geneva Bible. I also use Bible Hub as a reference for other translations. When you talk about God's infinite nature you insert Deuteronomy 6:4 NASB:

Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.

1599 Geneva translation:
Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is Lord only,

It appears one version—along with the NIV, ESV, BSB, NKJV, KJV, CSB, etc.—is talking about the Trinity (which I believe in) and the other seems to be emphasizing that the Lord is our only God which leads to the point of idolatry; specifically not having any other gods and realizing there is only One worthy of our praise and worship. Other versions including the NLT, CEV, GNT, ISV, GWT, Tyndale 1526 ("onely" instead of "only" but are essentially the same in meaning), etc. translate it this way as well stating the Lord is the only God. There is only one God v. God is one.

Q: Am I interpreting these wrong and they mean the same thing or do certain versions translate it wrong? How do you reconcile these two translations if they're both correct in their rendering of the verse?

I'm just curious because some translations are better than others and I would not like relying on an inaccurate one. Either way your point regarding oneness & infinity still works but it caught my eye,

Under God is Unique you state this: "He is unique by virtue of His omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence." In parenthesis you cite Deut. 6:4 along with other verses. In conjunction with the others you cited (especially the ones in Isaiah 43), as they all are about God being unique and there being no other like him, it would seem you used Deut. 6:4 to further your point that He is the only one.

Based on that, am I right to assume the 1599 Geneva version is more accurate than the NASB/KJV in the translation of this verse? The verse was meant to talk about God's uniqueness as opposed to His essence (the Trinity).

If not then let me know,


Response #21:

Hello Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance.

The Hebrew word 'echadh means "one" but sometimes also has the connotation of "unique" as in "the only one"; or as we say in English "he is the one". In terms of interpretation, in this verse "God" is 'Elohiym which is technically a plural, while "LORD" is the tetragrammaton. Thus, how any version takes this verse has to do more with interpretation than possibility of translation. All translations are interpretations. So when we say "more accurate" we mean either 1) more in accord with the interpretation we feel is correct or 2) more "word for word" in terms of a pedestrian rendering from one language to another. Either method can produce good or bad results in terms of correctly understanding a passage. All of the versions you mention have defensible translations. The question is, what does the verse really mean? And for that one has to understand it 1) in Hebrew, and 2) according to a correct doctrinal appreciation from the standpoint of the Bible generally.

Here is a link on that you may find helpful:

The Hebrew word for 'one' (`echadh) and the uniqueness of God.

Do feel free to write me back about this.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hello Bob,

I hope all is well with you. I have a question if you’re able to answer. A friend of ours has been unsuccessfully trying to find help for their child with developmental problems. They asked us our opinion on generational curses which we know nothing about other than briefly hearing about them. A holistic health practitioner said the child may have a generational curse that needs broken. It sounded like a new age practice. We know the practitioner and they claim to be Christian but personally we steer clear of them professionally because of their other new age practices, namely energy work. Do you have any insight on this biblically? Are they biblical? And if so are they likely to occur and be broken? Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Response #22:

I'll give you some links below to where I discuss this curse. In brief, this curse refers to the fact that even among the progeny of believers in Israel, if that progeny persists in turning completely away from the Lord, at some point down the line, His patience runs out, even though they be descended from Abraham and the patriarchs. All Israel was supposed to be believers, but of course being born with that wonderful heritage does not take away free will and many have used it to selfishly and foolishly turn their backs on God: "all Israel is not Israel" as Paul tells us (Rom.9:6).

What does that have to do with believers today? Precious little, except to reinforce the principle that while we can expect the Lord to bless those who belong to us if we are steadfast in following and serving Him, at some point every tub has to stand on its own bottom (as my old mentor used to say): we are all ultimately responsible for our own choices in this life.

In terms of the nonsense being reported to your friend, this is clearly ridiculous – or would be if such things were not so incredibly dangerous. Christians are well-advised to stay away from "witch doctors" of every sort, even if they pretend to be believers.

Here are those links:

Breaking the Generational Curse?

The Third and Fourth Generational Curses

The generational curse

More on the generational curse

In Jesus

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

Job 26:5 has always mystified me. In the KJV, I read "Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof." I take it that the italics indicates an interpolation. The verse would stand well without it. However, NKJV, NIV and CEB are all radically different. What is actually meant in this verse? I have to admit, that verse as never made sense to me.

I have to comment that 26:7 says, "[God] hung earth over nothing" which indicates knowledge they couldn't have possibly had back then. Or so we're taught. That suggests to me a sophistication that we under appreciate (and over appreciate ours.) I wonder what else we don't know.

Another question on the pronunciation for the land of Uz: OOOtz (Uz.) How do we know how ancient Hebrew, or any other ancient language, was pronounced. Considering spoken American English, British English and Australian English. or the way New Yorkers, Yoopers and Texans pronounce American English, I couldn't draw any conclusions. They are all different. I'm not arguing; just curious.

In our Lord,

Response #23:

On Job 26:5, this is a description of Hades which, rightly translated and understood, aligns perfectly with all other biblical information about that place. In biblical geography, the "waters below", that is, the sea[s], cover the underworld (cf. Rev.20:13-14; and see the link for a schematic).  Here is a link to where I discuss this, and here is how I translate our passage therein:

The spirits of the departed are in torment under the waters, even all who reside [there below].
Job 26:5

As to the various translations, I will say that Job is possibly the most difficult book to understand and thus to render in the entire Old Testament, and that is saying a great deal. One of the reasons for that is that its language is not only poetic but also archaic (and the vocabulary and style of the different interlocutors is noticeable as well – they hale from different regions and that is reflected in their language usage). One result of that is that there are many words which occur only in Job and sometimes only once (so as to have to have their meanings gleaned from context and sometimes root etymologies). Another result of that is that the syntax is also difficult for many to parse out, being much more paratactic than hypotactic (i.e., stringing ideas together rather than making clearly subordinate clauses which would clarify the relationships between them). Just ran into an example of that this morning wherein I believe all of the versions misunderstand Job 10:15, failing to see that the imperative with which the verse ends is set up by one which precedes (the form "full of [misery]" and "be sated with [my misery]!" look the same in their consonantal orthography and are vocalized the same as well). Just an example to help explain how the versions can indeed be all over the map on any given verse in this book.

On the description of the cosmos in scripture and in Job in particular, yes indeed, there was a much better assessment of the celestial mechanics at that time generally than is often credited nowadays (see the link: "Does the Bible ever describe the earth as being round?").

On pronunciation, much time and effort has been devoted to these matters by scholars over the years, many of whom have serious linguistic "chops". While you are right that there are time and place differences in English, for the most part the language is understandable by all its speakers within the broad parameters of a "basic pronunciation" (rural Scotland and rural Northern Ireland aside). The same is true of many ancient languages such as the biblical ones (and I'm reasonably confident that we know what those parameters are, understanding that there were always dialectical variations (cf. Judg.12:5-6). In terms of Greek, Latin and Hebrew, the ones I'm interested in, it's not as if we are starting from nothing since none of the three ever went completely extinct. So the starting point is working backward from what presently exists (or existed, from the 19th century perspective when a lot of the difficult work was done). For the first two languages, moreover, we have a number of ancient grammars and many texts which discuss the pronunciation of words and letters and related issues. For Hebrew, we have the benefit of a plenty of other Semitic languages each of which bear strong resemblances to each other in structure and also in pronunciation. Just to give one example, we know that the letter beta in Greek is a hard "b" even though in Modern Greek it has morphed into a "v" because in ancient Greek sheep say "beta-eta", that is beh, beh – and I've never heard of a sheep saying anything like veh, veh.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Bob, Thank you. You have cleared up a 30+ year mystery, and connected dots I couldn't. If the Book of Job is that hard to translate, I don't feel badly in my confusion. You have also cleared up the confusion between translations

It does raise an interesting question: what unimaginable evil was covered with the flood? Do we face that again? Am I correct in assuming that there was not only a reason to make Job cryptic but that it was written for these later days?

You raise an interesting point about those old languages, though I wonder about Latin. I don't know anything about the other two. Ecclesiastical Latin seems only remotely related to classical Latin, at least in pronunciation. Or at least as I remember. It's been a long, long time ago.

Which version of Job do you recommend?

Note: "veh, veh" is something a Jewish grandmother would say! Maybe with an Oy prepended. At least, as I remember.

In Jesus,

Response #24:

Always glad to help, my friend.

As to before the flood, in a sense I suppose you're right. The only nephilim which scripture identifies besides those of Genesis chapter six is antichrist (Gen.3:15). I have also opined that the ten kings of Revelation (Rev.17:12; 17:16; cf. Rev.12:3; 13:1; 17:3; 17:7) may also be demon seed, partly for the reason that they are singled out, partly because of the strong support they give the beast which is contrary to human behavior at any other time in history (rulers of nations and empires such as these will be generally looking out for their own interests).

As to Job, I don't find the book cryptic. The truth therein is completely consistent with everything else in scripture. The language in Job is difficult, however. In terms of versions, I like the 1984 NIV generally and my sense is that it is pretty good on Job as well (even though there are some places where I wouldn't agree with their take – but that is true with any version I read one place or another).

As to Latin, ecclesiastical pronunciation is almost identical to the classical, "w" instead of "v" and "ch" instead of "c" in the former being the only two major differences I've noted.

On "oy vey", I thought about going there, but . . .

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Hi Bob,

Nitpicks: In response #5, (10/8/22) your quote of Matthew 16:24, you write "...take up his cross (defense)..." Did you mean "offense"? And in response #13, you write "These are the ones who are about to come forth from the Great Tribulation." Did you mean "have come" instead of "about to come"?

On Job: you write that Job 3:16 "does suggest that stillborn children are saved" which is the way the NKJV & NIV translates it. I never understood that as being saved. Rather "why was I ever born." It's my understanding that still born children have died in the womb. If so, that would also apply, I think, to aborted fetuses. Making the medical "professionals" who perform those abortions murderers?

In my last email, I wrote that I thought Job was cryptic. Probably a poor choice of words. Difficult to understand is more appropriate. I was/am looking for answers that are probably there but I haven't understood yet.

Finally, thoughts: This weeks email posting (10/8/22) had folks arguing about "soul sleep." I agree with you. Particularly the Arbraham/Lazarus example which is different than all the Lord's parables. But even so, I think it makes little difference. When we sleep, there is no sense of the passage of time.

Also, in the Lazarus example, the rich man's asking for water plus the Lord comment at the Last Supper that he would not enjoy bread or wine until they were together again suggests that we too will enjoy food and wine after resurrection. It's probably idle to speculate on any of this since life here will end here and continue in a far different place. Either way.

I still believe that the Tribulation will grow steadily from here on out until the Lord has finally had enough. I don't remember such insanity on such a worldwide scale before. I read about the killings in our cities (Austin is joining that group) and it reminds me of the daily casualty reports during the Vietnam adventure. In the drive-by headlines (scan-by for me, really) it appears that the US and NATO continue to provoke Russia, whom I believe is showing remarkable restraint. WWIII, though, I now believe is coming which may be the reason the beast steps in to save the day. I think the Ukrainian adventure would have ended early on if we hadn't been shipping in weapons and mercs. I believe Russia and China have carefully noted our depletion of weapons for our defense. So yes, Satan is prepping the battlefield and setting up the end of the West.

I'll be happy when it's all over.

In our Lord,

Response #25:

Thanks for finding the offense/defense typo – some mistakes are worse than others.

On "about to come" vs. "have come", the former is actually what the Greek says. Most versions go with the latter because of the way English processes the "epistolary tense" issue, that is, we tend to anticipate what the situation will be when the letter is received; Greek often puts things in terms of the actual time/tenses at the time of writing. In this case, what John sees is a vision which has not yet been fulfilled since the Tribulation was far future at that point, so it is technically correct (and what the Greek actually says).

On Job 3:16, the verses which follow envision the hypothetical of a person in that or a similar situation not ever having existed but being down in the underworld (Hades/paradise/torments). Generally speaking, scripture describes God as giving life at full term normal birth (see the link), but this verse among others suggest to me that miscarriages are treated by Him in the same way in terms of providing a spirit (so that they are "persons" and will be in heaven). There's not enough biblical evidence in my opinion to say more than that. The Bible doesn't call abortion murder nor even inadvertently induced miscarriage homicide (cf. Ex.21:22), but given that it is never actually mentioned in the Bible, and given that sacrificing one's children is definitely deemed an abomination, and further given the high value placed by scripture on children, even in the womb, we may be sure what God's opinion of medically unnecessary abortion is. But I also don't see any biblical mandate for getting exercised about what unbelievers do, even though we believers find it abominable. Politics is always of the devil.

There are plenty of indications that there will be "eating and drinking" in resurrection (e.g., Is.25:6-8). The tree of life in New Jerusalem will bear twelve different types of fruit – obviously to be eaten.

Whatever trouble we're seeing now will pale in comparison to the actual Tribulation. But it is fair to observe that we are clearly rolling towards it, and that the breakdown in restraints we are seeing is a big part of that – broken restraints on every level. The Spirit is still restraining much to prevent the commencement of the Tribulation and the revelation of antichrist before their time (2Thes.2:1-12), but that doesn't mean that the devil is not trying to get as many of his ducks in a row before that – I've no doubt that this is just what he is doing. Also, this is all in the plan of God. There's no point in getting upset with policy mistakes and policy idiocies coming from this country. In the end, Babylon will not be saved.

RE: "I'll be happy when it's all over." – won't we all! Much happier than at present we have any idea.

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend – and thanks much for yours.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for the Revelation explanation. I would never have understood that on my own. That actually casts a light on many other parts of Scripture, too.

You also raised another interesting question with your Isaiah reference. That is wine on the lees vs. refined (Isaiah 25:6) in the KJV. NIV is a more understandable but says something quite different. Wine, today, is generally taken off the lees early on then aged. I suspect wine left longer on the lees would be healthier in the short term and vinegar not too long after. What is really being said here?

Interesting that you say politics is of the devil. I've come to the conclusion that not only politics but everything coming from politics is evil. When the Lord told Samuel what kind of king they would have, he sugar coated it. (1 Samuel 8:11-18) It's interesting comparing that to what we have today.

Thank you for your explanations and prayers. You are in my prayers as well. How is your niece doing?

In our Lord,

Response #26:

On the wine, the Hebrew word is shemer, which means wine-on-the-lees or "aged wine". So the idea is "really good stuff" rather than saying anything about the process.

That is one thing about absolute monarchy: the only options for politics therein is 1) court politics (of which we ordinary folk have no part) . . . or 2) rebellion. Absalom was a case of both – as was the devil's initial and continuing rebellion against the Lord.

They're doing well – thanks for asking. And thanks for all of your prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Last thing, I am rereading Job and I saw this (9:8):

"He alone spreads out the heavens,
And treads on the waves of the sea"

specifically the second line. Neat huh?

It is also interesting to me all the things he says about how in his eyes the Lord is crushing and hurting Him without cause, and this is not considered not-keeping-his-integrity.

And also that he admits that he has done wrong, but will not agree with his friends that he has done something/is unrighteous. I mean he overall disagrees but in his paragraphs he does say he isn't righteous (but I think he means it like one would say they are not perfect). And so this group seem to have this idea of righteousness not being from perfection (ie works) but from trusting in the Lord (9:15).

. . . or am I reading wrong?

Response #27:

Job is not the easiest book to interpret. There are some things on the site about that (e.g., "Emails about Job", at the link).

In a nutshell, Job was right that his troubles had nothing to do with him turning away from the Lord or even becoming involved in some sinful behavior that was not the case before. We know from the first two chapters that he was exceptional. No one is perfect, of course, but Job rated the Lord bragging on him to the devil!

So Job's friends were wrong because they couldn't comprehend how all this had happened to him if he weren't guilty – which he was not. Job was wrong because he lost his patience with the Lord and stopped trusting Him absolutely. In his defense, while it may seem that all this happened in a couple of days, we can tell from the fact that his friends came from very great distances (and would have needed to communicate first from the same), that this "test" may have lasted years long (see the link). So Job was wrong (but who of us would have done better?), and his friends were "more wrong" (but they also didn't have the Book of Job to go to school on). We know that this is the "bottom line" because of 1) the Lord's rebuke of Job at the end of the book, but 2) his friends need him to make intercession for them in order to be forgiven.

The book of Job is a great blessing to have. If we remember the lessons therein, we will be loath to start complaining every time something goes seriously wrong when it doesn't seem to be our fault. An important perspective to have in preparation for the soon to come Tribulation.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

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