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Jesus said, “I will build My Church…” There is a single organization that teaches the entire truth of the Bible, and is called to live by “every word of God.” Do you know how to find it? Christ said it would:

  • Teach “all things” He commanded
  • Have called out members set apart by truth
  • Be a “little flock”
About the Author
David C. Pack 

Founder and Pastor General of The Restored Church of God, Editor-in-Chief of The Real Truth magazine, and voice of The World to Come program, David C. Pack has reached many millions around the globe with the most powerful truths of the Bible—unknown to almost all. He has authored 80 books and booklets, personally established over 50 congregations, and appeared as a guest on The History Channel. Mr. Pack attended Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, entered the Worldwide Church of God ministry in 1971, and was personally trained by its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong.

You may wish to read:

The Bible’s Difficult Scriptures Explained!

by David C. Pack

Many study the Bible—but stumble over difficult verses, leaving them confused and without proper understanding. They are then led to accept twisted, distorted and outright false explanations of what should be God’s plain meaning from Scripture. But this need not be—you can understand God’s Word! Here are the Bible’s difficult scriptures explained!

Table of Contents

How this book came to exist involves some interesting history, inspiring to me, and worth hearing before studying its contents.

Also included is an extensive Introduction that follows explaining how to study the Bible, and exactly what Bible study is—what one is actually doing when he opens and reads the Word of God. This special Introduction must be carefully read in its entirety, even studied, before continuing so that the reader is prepared for and can really benefit from the scriptural explanations that follow.

In late 1977, after I had been in Christ’s ministry for some years, my father asked if I would write an explanation of all the Bible’s difficult scriptures for him. Of course, this was a daunting task, and I realized that he had no idea what he was asking. Recognizing that it would take a staggering number of hours to complete the task properly, I put it off for awhile. But he persisted, and I finally decided to take on the task. The original project was completed just in time to present him as a Father’s Day gift in 1978. I did not even have enough time to proofread it once before giving it to him, so it was very raw and sometimes unclear or even technically incorrect. They were certainly incomplete. (I still have the original typed pages, containing 137 scriptural explanations.)

My father died in the faith in 1995—and I inherited his extra-wide-margin Bible. I sat down to page through it and found that he had shrunk and pasted all of my (less than complete) explanations into the margin beside the passages to which they pertained. I could only imagine the even greater number of hours that my father had spent doing this, while benefiting from what I had written. I am sure you can imagine what a treasure his Bible has become to me!

In a way, this longer book is dedicated to my father, who was an extraordinarily diligent Bible student until the day of his death. Some day, I will tell him what became of his present and thank him for requesting it because this is why you are able to read it now. May this material inspire and help you with the precious and marvelous truth of God as much as it did him.

Through the years, the first primitive version of the paper that I gave my father became a tool for elders, deacons, sermonette men and other leaders in each of my pastorates. Many found it extremely helpful in their personal Bible study and in speaking before the Church.

Another small part of the book’s history is that, in late 1999, a man “appropriated” my original work, claimed it as his own, verbatim, and put it on his website. This original version may still be “floating” somewhere on the Internet.

In May 1999, I was led to establish The Restored Church of God. I soon realized the need to create an extensive Leadership Development Program (LDP) for our ministers, elders, deacons and various others. By late 2000, I had significantly improved the original text given to my father and, by early 2001, sent it to all who were part of our LDP. It first became a booklet available to the public in the summer of 2002.

Special Training

This volume now contains a comprehensive list of virtually all of the Bible’s most difficult scriptures. The correct explanation of their meaning was taught to me primarily during my years as a student at Ambassador College (from 1967-1971) in Pasadena, California, one of three colleges sponsored by the Worldwide Church of God (in which I spent 22 years in the ministry). Understanding their meaning was part of the curriculum. Students were expected to be able to explain them to any who would ask their true meaning. Some understanding of these explanations was refined later, through additional teaching of the Church as it grew in understanding and as a result of additional personal research.

In our early pre-ministerial training, we were taught that the apostle Paul instructed Titus to “ordain elders” after giving him the spiritual qualifications of those to be selected (Tit. 1:5-9). The final qualification in the list of requirements to be in the true ministry of Jesus Christ is that a man must “hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught.” And obviously, the teaching that he is to hold to must come through the faithful government of God within the true Church of God (Matt. 16:18), the only one headed by the living Christ (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23). History has shown that even many of those who were taught the correct meaning of true doctrine—God’s true ministers through the ages—including the many passages that support the Bible’s doctrines, ultimately will not hold them without compromise.

This compilation contains the correct understanding—the true meanings—of these “difficult” scriptures that were taught to me and to all of God’s ministers by Herbert W. Armstrong and the then faithful faculty that he appointed. These explanations are a part of the extraordinary doctrinal understanding that was restored to God’s Church in the twentieth century through Mr. Armstrong (Matt. 17:11; Mal. 4:5-6). I now teach them to you, hoping that they will benefit you as much as they have the many thousands who learned them before you—and as they did my father.

A word of caution: The Introduction that follows is truly vital to comprehend, and thus longer than would normally be necessary. It is actually the equivalent of a lengthy article or even a small booklet. There is a reason for this.

You simply cannot skip over it and hope to understand the explanations that follow!


Modern Christendom misunderstands, twists, perverts and ignores the many plain truths of the Bible. Over the centuries, it has counterfeited every one of its true doctrines and replaced it with a cheap substitute. This has been possible because certain less easy to understand passages of Scripture can be easily misrepresented—made to say something that they do not. It is these verses that invariably become the vehicle through which a false doctrine can be introduced—with almost no one able to recognize that it all may have begun with a single wrong scriptural premise.

Unaware of the most important rule of Bible study, most students of Scripture do not build their doctrinal understanding by beginning with the clearest verses on any subject. Rather, they enter God’s Word with preconceived ideas and go in search of passages that appear to support what they have assumed it teaches. This makes them candidates for confusion and deception.

The apostle Peter stated that the apostle “Paul [wrote]…some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Pet. 3:15-16). Understanding how most people think, and completely unaware of any of the rules of Bible study, some teachers and “scholars” can then much more easily take advantage of the way certain parts of God’s Word have been written. This applies to many other areas of Scripture beyond what Paul wrote.

The theological institutes and seminaries of this world have developed a systematic way—and this can be done consciously or unconsciously (Rom. 8:7; Jer. 17:9)—of spinning, twisting or dismissing God’s plain words and plain meaning in favor of making passages appear to say what they need them to say. These theologians and religionists portray—actually sell!—Satan’s false doctrines through use of specific verses, wrongly understood, that supposedly teach their ideas. This permits them to come from a basis—a premise—of Bible authority for their beliefs. This, in turn, helps them to much more easily snare the unwitting and unwary.

The apostle Paul warned of “dishonest” people who “handle the word of God deceitfully” (II Cor. 4:2), because they, like their students who are willing to believe them, “received not the love of the truth” (II Thes. 2:10).

God’s servants—true ministers—never, under any circumstances, follow these practices!

In most cases, if one is properly trained and sufficiently grounded in the truth of the Bible, it is quite easy to see through and expose the deceptive logic misapplied to a verse, and to correctly explain it.

Apostasy Comes

During the early 90s, the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) descended into full-blown apostasy. Many thousands of brethren lost sight of an enormous amount of basic Bible understanding. Thousands of survivors fled into an array of different offshoots of the Church. In addition, in the ensuing years, much greater doctrinal confusion and error has spread throughout these many organizations, and within the individual minds of those who reside in these groups. Part of the reason people could no longer fellowship together is that they no longer understood the Bible’s difficult scriptures in the same way.

This paved the way for the fulfillment of Paul’s warning, foretold about God’s people at the end of the age—the “last days”: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (II Tim. 4:3). This has become more true every day. More and more people are “turning away their ears from the truth” (vs. 4). A few verses earlier in the context, in the previous chapter, Paul had explained why: “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (3:13). The next verse (vs. 14), contains God’s instruction to all of His true servants to “continue you in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them.”

Therefore, over time, I came to realize that it would be critically important to release the correct explanations of key passages to everyone for general use. I knew that if it was properly used it would help sincere people resist the onslaught of false teaching that is swallowing and destroying so many today—and yes, as has so often been the case historically, even in the true Church of God.

This volume can either help you “continue…in the things which you have learned and been assured of” or to learn some elements of the truth for the first time and be able to hold it fast in the face of “fables” that may only later confront you. But you will have to diligently apply yourself to what you are studying, or truths will not become and neither will they remain clear in your mind!

A vitally important question must be asked at this point: How could those who once knew the truth so completely lose sight of it? The answer lies in understanding what real conversion is.

What Enters at Conversion!

The Bible reveals that a real—a true—Christian is actually begotten at conversion with what the apostle James called the “word of truth” (1:18). When Christ was explaining to His disciples that the Comforter would come after His ascension to heaven, He twice referenced this in John’s gospel as the “Spirit of truth” (15:26; 16:13). The apostle Peter identified both of these terms as another way of referencing and describing the “Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38), given after repentance and baptism. We will see additional terms later.

The latter passage in John reveals that it is through the all-important Holy Spirit—the Spirit, or Word, of truth—that a person, as Jesus explained, is “guide[d]…into all truth.”

The meaning here is absolutely vital to grasp. To comprehend what Christ meant, we must examine a series of verses in careful sequence. This will make later study of the book more exciting, productive and rewarding!

First, in what has been called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that His true followers would be those who build their “houses” on His “sayings”—meaning on His words. When He instructed them to build on a “rock,” and that it would protect them from “rain,” “floods,” and “winds” (Matt. 7:24-28), this is what He intended they do. In other words, when new converts speak of building on Jesus Christ, they should actually be thinking of building on His instruction—building as one who “hears these sayings of mine, and does them” (vs. 24).

Next, in John 8, Christ was speaking to those who “believed on Him” (vs. 30). Recognizing their unseen murderous attitude, and realizing that they did not really care about His teachings, but had rather assumed that they were His followers, He explained to these “believers” that His disciples (Greek: students, learners or pupils) are only identified as true Christians “if [they] continue in My word, then are [they] My disciples indeed; and [they] shall know the truth, and the truth shall make [them] free” (vs. 31-32).

I repeat: This is vital understanding, and it relates directly to why this book should be important to you.

Let’s continue. Earlier in John, Jesus had explained to His disciples that He was “the Bread that came down from heaven that a man may eat thereof, and not die” and that that man “shall live forever” (6:50-51). In verse 63, He explained what He meant: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

This is an extraordinary statement, and most have absolutely no idea what Christ meant by it!

We must understand. Unlike any other book ever written, the Bible is, in a sense, alive—Paul calls it “quick” in Hebrews 4:12. In other words, the Bible is a living book. Those who study it must understand this, and that studying it is different than studying any work of men. When the Holy Spirit is at work inside a person, it is writing God’s words—His law—His truth—inside that person’s mind. This means that without this Spirit at work during Bible study, and this is even more true when studying difficult scriptures, there is no hope—none!—of achieving proper understanding.

Even those who are at the stage of just being “drawn” to Christ, not yet converted, have the Holy Spirit at work with them (not yet in them), making initial understanding possible. Take a moment to open your Bible and read John 6:44 and 65, followed by a careful reading of John 14:17. In fact, you literally cannot understand any of the points that I am explaining here if God, through His Spirit, is not either working with you—drawing you—or, if you are converted, in you (I Cor. 2:13-14).

Hebrews 4:12 also directly introduces a related point. The Bible is revealed to be a kind of “sword.” Notice: “For the word of God is quick [living], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit…and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

What exactly is Paul speaking of? How is this sword more fully defined? The question is answered in Ephesians 6, which describes the six essential pieces of what has been called the gospel armor—“helmet of salvation,” “breastplate of righteousness,” “loins girded with truth,” etc. Notice: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day…and take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (vs. 13, 17).

This is truly crucial understanding to every faithful Bible student. You simply must not miss this if you hope to understand God’s Word. The Bible is a living, Spirit sword, and this sword will cut every false doctrine to pieces, slicing with both sides—“two edges”—but this is only true if the one wielding it has the Holy Spirit, and in abundance!

Anointed With Oil

Finally, before leaving the subject of conversion, let’s look at one more related point, connected through several additional passages.

The first epistle of John describes the conversion process—receiving God’s Holy Spirit through begettal—as an “anointing” (I John 2:27). Of course, anointings are always done with oil, and we will return to what this means momentarily. The entire epistle repeatedly establishes the importance of truth. Early in the second chapter the connection between following the truth of God’s Word as the only means of perfecting the love of God is explained.

Let’s first notice: “But whoso keeps His word [never compromises it], in him [and no one else] verily is the love of God perfected” (vs. 5).

This, in itself, though not our focus here, is incredible knowledge that virtually no one understands. Millions talk about Christians having “love,” but almost none of them tie this to having the truth of the Bible! No wonder so few know the Bible definition of the love of God (I John 5:3; Rom. 13:10)—and then no wonder so few practice it.

Next, in I John 2, with the subject of the special anointing beginning in verse 21, verse 26 explains that it is only through this anointing—receiving the Word or Spirit of truth in the mind—that one can successfully resist those who could, as John warned, “seduce you” from the truth. God’s Spirit must be guiding diligent, daily Bible study for this to be possible.

Let’s tie everything together. Matthew 25 describes the parable of the foolish and wise virgins. The foolish virgins were those among God’s people who had permitted the “oil” to run from their “lamps” in the time just prior to the Return of Christ to earth.

What does this parable mean?—What is Christ describing?

Oil is a type of God’s Spirit, and this oil lights the Bible. Psalm 119:105 declares, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” By now it should be clear that God’s Spirit word of truth works together with Scripture—the written word of truth—in the converted mind. God’s Word is such that the Holy Spirit and the study of it each reinforces the other. Lacking either one, the other becomes useless.

Millions of people study the Bible every day without being able to arrive at true understanding. Why? Because they do not have the Holy Spirit guiding their minds—they are not truly converted. At the same time, prophecy reveals that most of those today who in fact do, or did at one time, have the Holy Spirit allowed their supply of it to run low or completely out. Recognize that Jesus had also compared God’s Spirit to moving water, explaining that it flows out of one’s “belly” (John 7:37-39) actively producing “fruits” (Gal. 5:22-23).

God’s Spirit is not static—it cannot be bottled up. It must be used and replenished on a daily basis (II Cor. 4:16). When the Holy Spirit dwindles in a person, truth and the ability to resist error is lost with it! This is because the lamp of God’s Word—for those of these who may yet even be still willing to study it, and most are not—becomes utterly useless without this all-important oil that fuels and lights it in the mind of its reader.

The many thousands who lost sight of the truth they once held, allowed God’s Spirit to wane within them. Having come to lack sufficient oil, made worse by a declining interest in diligent, serious Bible study, many were fooled into accepting the wrong explanation of many passages referenced in this book. They became the foolish virgins (or worse) of Matthew 25:1-12.

Most Never Understood

Many, indeed most, have not comprehended what you have just read. The churches of the world simply do not teach, or certainly do not teach properly, what the last several pages have explained. It must be recognized that the vast majority who have thought themselves to be Christians through the ages—those who had never truly been begotten with the Holy Spirit word of truth in the first place—have understood virtually none of what is written here. The majority who will read what I have just explained are probably in this category. It is hoped that they will permanently benefit in ways that others have not. However, perhaps some who once understood these explanations will be able to recapture what they have lost.

In either case, determine now that you will keep this knowledge clear—completely straight!—in your mind! Determine that nothing will shake you from this true understanding.

The Purpose of Bible Study

Let’s momentarily return to the subject of when a person is called to conversion.

In Matthew 13, Christ taught perhaps His longest parable, that of the sower and the seed. Verses 4 through 8 describe “seed” that fell either “by the way side,” “upon stony places,” “among thorns” or “into good ground.” Jesus explains that the seed is shown in each case to be “the word” that is sown in the hearts of human beings when God begins to work with them. Sadly, in three of the four cases described, the seed never fully germinates.

Christ interprets the parable from verses 18 through 23. The seed that landed by the way side was eaten by “birds”—a type of Satan—who “catches away that which was sown in the heart” before it can take root. The seed that fell in stony places was able to put down roots, but they were shallow, and the sun—a type of severe trials (“tribulation”) or persecution—was able to quickly scorch and dry out the plant so that it died. The seed that fell among “thorns” is the person who hears but the word is choked “by the cares of the world” and “riches.” Then there is the seed that landed on good ground, the person with a fertile attitude who not only “hears the word” but also “understands” it and goes on to “bear fruit.”

Only those who are in the last category—good ground—will benefit from the truth of the teaching brought in the explanation of the passages addressed later. You are urged to bring a right attitude, asking God for guidance and strength as you study them.

This leads to another important principle. Paul taught the assembled Ephesian ministry this: “I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

God’s Word certainly will build up those who study and employ it in their lives!

What Is At Stake

Paul wrote to the evangelist Timothy that people should “strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers,” then adding, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:14-15).

This single passage is loaded with key points, each one crucial.

First, is the instruction not to argue or debate about words. In the end, this can never accomplish anything—there is not even a chance that it will. Why? One either has God’s Spirit and will understand the overall intent of a passage or doctrine, or he does not, and nothing will improve his understanding and remove confusion (I Cor. 2:14). Next, is the basic command to study—period. This is then tied to being “approved unto God” instead of finding oneself “ashamed.” Finally, when so many twist, tangle and misrepresent the Bible, God’s workman is able to “rightly divide the word of truth.”

Carefully examine how each explanation that you will read does this. And when you wish to read or study further, see if the literature that may be referenced at the conclusion of a passage does not greatly expand your thinking.

Most people have no real idea what is the difference between the Old Covenant and New Testaments of their Bibles. Neither do their preachers. Never forget that the greatest—the ultimate!—difference between the nation of ancient Israel and New Testament Christianity is that God’s Law was then written by His finger on “tables of stone,” but is today written by His Spirit in “fleshy tables of the heart” (II Cor. 3:3)—the human mind!

Critics Will Appear

I hold no illusion that some will probably probe and may even carefully comb this publication looking for “loose bricks”—and seeking reasons to attack it. If they cannot find “errors,” recognize some are willing to invent them (Rom. 1:30). This is partly because the truth threatens their cherished positions and traditions, but also because they do not have the Holy Spirit “guiding them into all truth.” This thinking is typical of Bible “critics”—those who would rather sit in judgment of scriptural understanding than be taught by the all-wise Author of Scripture Who is in fact judging them.

Of course, some true followers of Christ, members of the Church of God who possibly never grasped what the Church once officially taught regarding these passages, might innocently disagree with some explanations given here because they were never fully grounded in them. Others may devise new alternate meanings to suit personal agendas (Acts 17:21). I expect this. However, this is what the Church of God officially taught when it was still on track, prior to the apostasy.

What is recorded here is the truth!

Which Verses Included!

As explained, there have been various editions of the book, with it having first begun as a booklet. (The list of copyright dates will tell the reader when it has been updated.) With the passing of time came the need to include additional, difficult-to-understand passages. In fact, circumstances will probably require that certain other less clear scriptures are included in later editions.

Some may wonder why a certain passage may not have been included, or why certain others were. Deciding which particular scriptures to include or exclude is a subjective matter, and I certainly understand this. Obviously, no two people would choose the exact same passages in every case. As with some of my other lists of false teachings, first in the WCG, and then those currently taught among its “splinters,” decisions had to be made.

Also, because every project has a reasonable and natural limit, the explanations, in some cases, are only the very briefest synopsis of what could have been written. In certain of these cases, much more could have been said by bringing in various finer points of the Greek and Hebrew.

It is not the purpose of this book to lay out entire doctrines for understanding. That is the purpose of our vast array of other books, booklets, brochures, articles, magazines and Bible lessons. If you are not familiar with the enormous amount of material that we offer, merely peruse our websites.

Conversely, some passages are explained in much greater detail than others. Sometimes this is because fuller explanations are found in other pieces of our literature, which we have periodically referenced, and brought here. But recognize that the hope is that the diligent Bible student will be inspired to pursue his own additional research.

Be aware that some passages that have been included were added because they are not immediately clear to those who read them, and are thus more difficult to understand. They were not added because they have been overtly or commonly misused to promote a false doctrine. In these cases, the passage’s meaning has simply been clarified. A very few aid technical calculations regarding matters of dating events.

How to Use This Book

While some few of the verses to be examined were too long to include in the text, in most cases I begin by quoting the passage in question. Since it is best to use this book alongside an open Bible, the longer passages can be viewed and understood just as easily by reading them directly from your Bible. Otherwise, the explanation given always follows the quoted passage.

Scriptures are listed in the order they are found in the Bible. Of course, the Table of Contents will be helpful with page numbers and in finding whether a passage has been included.

The 1611 King James Version of the Bible is used throughout. We have only altered words like thee and thou, and others with -eth endings to make verses reflect modern English.

Blank pages are provided at the end to allow for extra notes with key passages of special interest to the reader.

Rules of Bible Study—and Other Vital Material

The Bible’s DIFFICULT SCRIPTURES Explained! is a Bible study guide. Therefore, the well-known, basic rules of Bible study apply—perhaps more than ever. This introduces the special, and crucially important, five-section Epilogue found at the back of the book. Each of these sections has been added for a reason—because it is in some way a necessary aid for the serious student of the Bible.

For the many who have never heard of them, Section I is an extensive explanation of the twelve rules of Bible study. Titled “The Twelve Rules of Effective Bible Study,” it is absolutely critical to use in conjunction with the book. You are strongly urged to study and apply these rules every time you study God’s Word.

But other sections will bring additional assistance to the reader. Next is “Bible AuthorityCan It Be Proven?” Many never take the time to prove the authority of the Bible—that it is the written, inspired Word of God. If this is you, you will want to read the extensive Section II very carefully.

Next is “How We Got the Bible.” Many merely assume the Bible is the correctly assembled Word of God. Others may not realize that the “canonization” of the books of the Bible has a history to it that can be researched. Section III removes doubt about how God assembled His Word so that you can be confident in its authenticity.

Following is “Which Translations Are Best?” (Section IV). Some translations of the Bible are helpful, some are not, and some should never be used—under any circumstances—because they are not translations at all, but rather paraphrases loaded with false doctrine and wrong thinking from the so-called scholars who created them.

Finally, comes “Study to Show Yourself Approved.” The title is taken from a direct admonition in II Timothy 2:15 to all who open the Scriptures. This fifth section contains additional helpful principles for the person who grasps what is at stake for anyone claiming to be a Christian—and who really desires to understand and have the mind of God.

Each of these sections cover additional important knowledge, principles and guidelines, useful for every Bible student. Some readers will find it better to read some, or even all, of the Epilogue—particularly “The Twelve Rules” in Section I!—before starting into the difficult scriptures. This is an individual decision, with no one right way to proceed. No matter when you read these sections, you will be glad you did.

Also, we have a powerful, well-researched brochure EVOLUTION – facts, fallacies and implications, which will be most helpful. Then there is our booklet Does God Exist? for those who need to start at the very beginning of how to approach the Bible. You have never read anything like them. Together, these not only remove all doubt about the existence of a Supreme, all-powerful Creator, but they also identify Him as the Author of the Bible. This, in turn, identifies which God is the Author of all life on Earth—including you!

Powerful Tool!

Properly understood, the material presented here can be a wonderful tool, one that can help you in a host of ways.

It will help you understand the purpose of human life and why you were born.

It will assist in equipping you to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Pet. 3:15).

It will help you to “rightly divide the word of truth” so that you never have to be “ashamed” before God, but will instead be “approved” by Him (II Tim. 2:15). Another way of saying this is that, with so much at stake, it will also help you to “endure sound doctrine,” and not be “turned to fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4).

Most important, however, it can also help “build you up” in the faith, “and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). In other words, properly understanding the Bible’s more difficult scriptures will help you to “endure to the end,” so that you can be “saved” (Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13).

Finally, and this is related to a point above, it will help any who diligently use these explanations properly to “be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers…whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” This passage is a direct continuation of Titus 1:9, which explains why the faithful minister teaches “as he has been taught,” even when it requires “rebuking them sharply that they may be sound in the faith” (vs. 13).

Study carefully. There are no shortcuts!

Scriptural Index

Genesis 1:1-2

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

Some skeptics have attempted to discredit the Bible by asserting that this passage places the original creation of earth as having occurred approximately 6,000 years ago. These critics then point to scientific evidence, which clearly indicates that the earth has existed for billions of years, as “proof” that Scripture is in error. But are verses one and two of Genesis 1 both speaking of the original creation?

The Hebrew word translated “was” in verse two is hayah. According to Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary, this word may also be translated as “became.” This would indicate the passing of time between the event described in verse one, and the condition that later came to characterize earth as noted in verse two.

Isaiah 45:18 sheds more light on the subject: “For thus says the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He has established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” The word translated “in vain” here, the Hebrew tohu, is the same word rendered as “without form” in Genesis 1:2. This decayed state, described in verse two, had not been the earth’s condition in the original creation (verse 1)—God did not create the earth “without form”! The Bible states that God is not the “author of confusion” (I Cor. 14:33), and that His word does not return to Him “void” (Isa. 55:11). Therefore, there must be, and is, a time “gap” of unknown length between verses one and two.

The state of chaos that came to engulf the planet at some point in this time gap was the result of Satan’s rebellion—when the archangel Lucifer became the devil—as this fallen being had previously been in a position of rulership on Earth, with authority over a third of the angels (Isaiah 14:12-15; Rev. 12:4). Also notice the reaction of the angels when God created the earth: “…the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Would the angels (“morning stars,” “sons of God”) have shouted for joy if God had initially created the earth “without form and void”?

Genesis 1:1 clearly refers to the original creation of the earth, while verse two begins the inspired record of the re-creation of a ruined surface—a kind of “rebuild” process that made the planet habitable for mankind. This is confirmed by Psalm 104:30: “You send forth Your spirit, they are created: and You renew the face of the earth.”

Suggested reading:

Who Is the Devil?

Genesis 1:30

“And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”

Does this passage teach that every kind of plant on Earth is fit for human consumption?

The latter part of this verse, “every green herb for meat [food],” must be understood in conjunction with Genesis 2:9, because many plants are poisonous. This latter verse states that plants only qualify for food if they are: (1) “pleasant to the sight,” and (2) “good for food.” Also, Genesis 1:30 states that some green herbs are given for insects. Finally, recognize that the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:9 and 3:6) was forbidden, and it was obviously “green.”

Suggested reading:

God’s Principles of Healthful Living

Genesis 2:17

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.”

Bible critics and scoffers commonly use this passage to try to demonstrate that there is no authority behind the Bible—because Adam and Eve ate of the tree and did not die “in that day,” the exact day in which they ate.

There are two explanations, and both are correct: (1) God meant, “You are as good as dead in the day that you eat…” because, with this decision, Adam and Eve would have sealed their fate—would have put themselves under God’s death penalty for sin (Rom. 6:23; Heb. 9:27)—and (2) Adam died at 930 years of age (Gen. 5:5). This would be less than one millennial day within God’s Plan. God declares that a day is like 1,000 years to Him and vice-versa (Psa. 90:4; II Pet. 3:8)—and His Plan entails 7,000 years, or seven millennial days.

Suggested reading:

A World in Captivity

Genesis 3:15

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

At first examination, this verse is somewhat difficult to understand—even to determine what it is talking about. However, it is understood as the very first prophecy in the Bible about Jesus Christ. The “enmity” (hatred) between the woman (mankind or the New Testament Church) and the serpent (Satan) has always been a very real hatred. The verse addresses the serpent and has three applications of meaning:

(1) Most people—particularly women—do not like snakes.

(2) It reflects a duality of Satan vs. Christ and the children of the devil vs. the children of God within the world at large. See Romans 16:20 as a reference describing “enmity between your seed and her seed,” or the enmity in Satan’s world toward Christ’s Church.

(3) Most importantly, Satan had Christ killed—or the devil “bruised its [Christ’s] heel.” But, in doing this, Satan actually sealed his own fate, because a resurrected Jesus Christ will one day crush the devil’s government over this world. (The only way to kill a snake is to crush or cut off [“bruise”] its head.) Key: “it” refers to Christ and “you” refers to the devil.

It has long been recognized that the story of Achilles’ Heel comes from this passage. Interestingly, Semiramis, the mother of Nimrod (Gen. 10:8-10), would have known about, and been able to counterfeit, this prophesied “mother and child”—“your seed and her seed”—relationship (of Mary and Jesus), depicted by this prophecy.

Suggested reading:

The Trinity – Is God Three-In-One?

Genesis 4:23

“And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.”

Who are the two men killed by Lamech?

Records from ancient history records that Lamech did kill two men—his third-great grandfather Cain (“a man”), and Tubal-Cain (“a young man”), Lamech’s son (vs. 19, 22). The phrase “to my hurt” is best translated “who hurts me.”

Jewish tradition says that Lamech also killed the preacher of righteousness Enoch (5:24), but this is almost certainly not accurate. (See next explanation.)

No suggested reading.

Genesis 5:24

“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”

Many interpret this verse as stating that God took Enoch to heaven, making this contrary to John 3:13, but that is not what the verse actually says. Where then did Enoch go?

Enoch was the seventh of eight preachers of righteousness (Gen. 5; II Pet. 2:4-5). He “walked with God”—faithfully obeyed God—for 300 years (vs. 21-24), until his death. He “was not” in the sense that he “was not found” (Heb. 11:5). Verse 5 explains that God “translated” him; here, the Greek term for “translated” means “to transfer or transport.”

God removed Enoch’s body to another location for burial (as He did with Moses, Deut. 34:6). The same Greek word for “translated” is also used in Acts 7:16 to describe Jacob’s body being transported to Sychem for burial.

If Enoch had been taken to heaven and is still living to this day, he would still be walking with God—present tense. Enoch was not taken to heaven, but is in his grave awaiting his resurrection.

Enoch was Methuselah’s father and Lamech’s grandfather (the Lamech of Gen. 5:25-31). History and tradition both reveal that these two men corrupted themselves. This caused God to raise up Noah (Enoch’s faithful great-grandson) to warn of a coming worldwide flood and to do a “work” (referenced in vs. 29) in that time. Methuselah died in the flood, and it can be determined that Lamech died five years before the flood (vs. 31). This can be proven through carefully connecting the chronology of the first few chapters of Genesis.

Suggested reading:

Do the Saved Go to Heaven?

Genesis 9:3

“Every moving thing that lives shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”

This verse seems to state that all living creatures are good for meat. But it also says that the standard for measuring this is “even as the green herb” (see Gen. 1:30 explanation).

Using this phrase as authority, human beings can no more eat all types of meat than they can eat all poisonous plants (again, Gen. 1:30). Recall that Noah had already by this time taken seven pairs of clean and one pair of unclean animals into the ark because: (1) he needed food, and (2) he must have known the difference between clean and unclean animals. Had Noah eaten even one of the unclean animals (pig, etc.), the pair could not have reproduced. Notice that “by sevens” (Gen. 7:2) is plural, but “by two” is singular. The two does not have an “s.” There were only two of each unclean animal taken into the ark.

Suggested reading:

Are All Animals Good Food?

Genesis 9:24-25

“And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”

Who was the one cursed here for the sodomy committed against Noah? If Canaan was cursed (Noah’s grandson), why does it appear to say that Noah’s youngest son committed the act?

Canaan was cursed, and he was the youngest son of Ham (see 10:6). Canaan would not have been cursed by God if it was Ham who had sinned. Also, Ham was the middle son of Noah (see 9:18). The word “his” (vs. 24) means Ham’s youngest son. Also notice that verse 22 makes reference to “the father of Canaan.” Canaan is the object of this entire event. Noah, upon sobering up, undoubtedly knew what his grandson Canaan had done to him.

It is interesting that the word Canaan means humiliated and the verb form of his name means to bend the knee.

No suggested reading.

Genesis 11:26

“And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.”

Questions have arisen about the breakdown in the chronology of Genesis 11, specifically at verse 26. Compensation must be made for the wording of verse 26. We can demonstrate how the wording can lead to the wrong conclusion, and how to arrive at the correct chronology of Terah and Abram. Follow carefully.

Due to the fact that Abram became a central figure of the biblical record in Genesis, he was placed first ahead of his brothers, with the intent of honoring him as the preeminent patriarch. However, Abram was not the firstborn of Terah. The eldest son was Haran, who died before his father died. Haran was the father of Lot whom Abram had reared after his elder brother’s death.

In tracing the chronology of Genesis 11 to the birth of Abram, the wording of verse 26 can and does lead to erroneous calculations. Since Haran was the eldest son, Terah would have been 70 years of age when Haran was born. But when we trace to the date of Abram, obviously the age of Terah at Abram’s birth is not 70 years. As we will see later, Abram was born when his father was 130 years of age.

Genesis 11:31 states: “And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.” Later, Terah died as indicated in verse 32: “And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.”

Then we read of God’s call of Abram. Genesis 12:1 reveals, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto a land that I will show you:” Acts 7:2-4 records more details about Abram’s departure: “And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; the God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran [Haran], and said unto him, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and come into the land which I shall show you. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran [Haran]: and from there, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein you now dwell.”

In Genesis 12:4 we find the age of Abram at the time he departed from Haran upon Terah’s death: “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.” Above, we have already read that Terah was 205 years of age when he died (Gen. 11:32). To calculate the age of Terah when Abram was born we simply subtract 75 (Abram’s age) from 205 (Terah’s age at death). This gives us 130 years of age for Terah when Abram was born (205 – 75 = 130).

Therefore, in counting up the chronology of Genesis 11, and adding 130 years at the point of verse 26 (instead of 70 years as most mistakenly do), this will give a total of 427 years from the time the flood abated until the time of the call of Abram. This leads to the correct chronology of Genesis 11 and the correct basis for subsequent timing of later events.

No suggested reading.

Genesis 14:18

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and He was the priest of the most high God.”

Who was Melchizedek? Answer: He was Jesus Christ!

Hebrews 6:19-20 and Hebrews 7:1-6 can be read phrase by phrase to prove this. Notice there: Only One who was God could be fully “righteous.” Also, men do not know the way of “peace” (Isa. 59:8). Finally, having “no beginning or end” can only describe one who is eternal. This could not possibly refer to any human being. Note these passages:

(1) Hebrews 5:5-6, 10

(2) Psalms 110:4

(3) Acts 2:24—Jesus Christ is alive today.

(4) Hebrews 4:14 and 5:5-6, again—references “High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.”

This subject is addressed more fully in the Hebrews 6:20-7:17 explanation.

Suggested reading:

The Trinity – Is God Three-In-One?

Bible Introduction Course Lesson 3 – WHO and WHAT IS GOD?

Genesis 17:11

“And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant between me and you.”

Many scoffers, who believe that the New Testament nullified everything in the Old Testament, cite this verse seeking to demonstrate that the Old Covenant was represented by physical circumcision, making everything else found there to be invalid. In other words, if the New Testament is the only thing for Christians today, the Law of God—the Ten Commandments, among other things—have no application.

But read verse 11 closely. It says that circumcision is a “token” of the covenant. The Hebrew word (#226 in Strong’s Concordance) can be translated “sign, signal, omen, flag, beacon, evidence.” The overall inference to be drawn is that circumcision is a sign of the covenant, not the covenant itself. The Old Covenant had both temporary, physical birthright promises to Israel’s descendants and eternal, spiritual promises to the few called by God. The spiritual promises, and part of the physical promises, are being fulfilled today, and will be fulfilled by salvation in the future.

Romans 2:28-29 shows that circumcision has been changed—not done away—and is now of “the heart”—conversion. Therefore, physical circumcision is no longer required but this practice, for a number of reasons, is still medically and hygienically prudent.

Suggested reading:

Bible Introduction Course Lesson 14 – WHAT IS THE OLD COVENANT?

Genesis 32:32

“Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.”

Is avoiding the eating of this portion of an animal a tradition that Christians should observe today?

This is a custom the children of Israel began to observe voluntarily out of respect for their forefather Jacob. A renowned Jewish historian (who also recorded more about the Jews than any other historian), Flavius Josephus, stated that the Jews of Christ’s time routinely observed this custom (Bk. I, Ch. XX, Sec. 2). Even today, some Orthodox Jews still follow this. However, nowhere in the Bible do we find that Jesus himself observed this custom. This is simply a tradition of men and is not binding upon Christians today. The passage merely records that it was happening—it does not say God wanted it.

While it is not wrong to observe this custom today, it is unnecessary.

No suggested reading.

Exodus 12:40-41

“Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”

What was the 430-year time period referenced here?

Many have wrongly assumed that this passage meant Israel was in Egypt for 430 years. If this was not the case, then some other major event must have occurred 430 years before the time of the exodus. In fact, this is the case.

Exodus 12:40-41 best reads, “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was [completed] four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the [completion of] four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”

The 430-year span measured from the time of the covenant with Abraham (Gen. 17:1-8), about the year 1873 B.C., until the exodus of 1443 B.C. This is confirmed by the following scripture:

“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to your seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Gal. 3:16-18).

The covenant and promise made to Abraham preceded the giving of the Law (Ten Commandments) at Sinai, which occurred nearly two months after the exodus during the same year. Galatians 3:17 explicitly states that the span of 430 years was from the covenant with Abraham to Sinai. All the family of Jacob (Israel) went into Egypt (Gen. 46:1-6) in the year 1682 B.C. Since the exodus occurred in 1443, Israel had been in Egypt for about 239 years. She had fallen into slavery well after the death of Joseph.

For those who enjoy such calculation, here are the mathematical facts available from scripture so that we can perform the proper computation. Extra space is taken so the reader can appreciate through an interesting illustration how accurate dating of important historic biblical events can be determined.

We can approximate the time that Joseph was alive in Egypt by the following facts:

Joseph died at the age of 110 years (Gen. 50:26).

He began to reign at about the age of 30 (Gen. 41:46).

The 7 years of “plenty” had elapsed before Israel came into Egypt, plus 2 years of the famine had elapsed as well, leaving 5 years of famine remaining (Gen 45:11).

Thus 110 - 30 = 80; then we subtract the 9 elapsed years: 80 - 9 = 71 years.

Joseph was alive for 71 years while Israel was in Egypt.

We have seen the time that Joseph was alive while Israel was in Egypt. Before we arrive to the point that “there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8), a few decades would have elapsed after his death—for he was highly esteemed by the generations that knew him. So we could add at least another 20 to 30 years to those 71 years, allowing for a new generation to mature, which would have placed Israel approximately 90 to 100 years in Egypt before becoming enslaved. Thus, of the 239 years in Egypt, as much as 150 years could have been spent in bitter bondage.

Apart from Galatians 3:17 showing the 430 years from the time of the covenant with Abraham until the exodus, we can calculate that span of time by what is recorded in Genesis. First, we need to find the span of time from the covenant until Israel went into Egypt. This is done by subtracting 239 years (the total time of Israel in Egypt) from the 430 years total span. Therefore, 430 - 239 = 191 years. This 191-year span can be easily verified by the following points:

• Abraham was 99 years old at the time of the covenant (Gen. 17:1).

• Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Gen. 21:5).

• Isaac lived 180 years (Gen 35:28).

• Isaac was 60 years old at Jacob’s birth; these men lived 120 years concurrently (Gen. 25:26).

• Jacob lived in Egypt 17 years (Gen 47:28); he came into Egypt at age 130 (Gen. 47:9).

• Jacob lived a total of 147 years; (130 + 17 = 147).

• Since 147 - 120 = 27, Jacob outlived Isaac by 27 years.

Of the 27 years Jacob outlived Isaac, 17 were in Egypt; thus 27 - 17 = 10 years.

Ten years elapsed from the death of Isaac until Israel entered Egypt.

We add the 1 year from the covenant until the birth of Isaac + Isaac’s life span of 180 years + the 10 years that elapsed from Isaac’s death until Israel entered Egypt.

Since 1 + 180 + 10=191 years, this was the time from the covenant until entering Egypt.

The total time of 191 years + the 239 years in Egypt = 430 years as we saw in Galatians 3:17.

Rather than Israel suffering 430 years in bondage, we see the duration of suffering would have been approximately 150 years in this enslaved condition to the Egyptians. Considering the severity of the bondage, any greater length of time would have virtually destroyed the nation.

To summarize, Israel was in Egypt only 239 years and in bondage for about 150 years.

No suggested reading.

Exodus 34:28

“And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”

Many have misunderstood this verse, believing that “he wrote” is a reference to Moses. They conclude that Moses must have written the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets. The hidden message in this point is to diminish the Ten Commandments, to make them appear to have come from Moses, not God.

Exodus 24:12 shows that this is an incorrect assumption. There, God instructed Moses, “…Come up to Me into the mount, and be there: and I will give you tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that you may teach them.” Also, Exodus 31:18 states that God “…gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of communing with him upon Mt. Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”

Also notice: “The tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables” (Ex. 32:16). These were the stone tablets that Moses later broke (vs. 19), when finding the Israelites worshipping the golden calf. God later commanded Moses (34:1), “Hew…two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which you broke.” God (YHVH – “the Lord”) clearly stated that HE would write the Ten Commandments again.

As the Israelites’ forty years of wandering in the wilderness drew to a close, Moses recounted to them the ways that God had miraculously delivered them and provided for them. He stated this in Deuteronomy 5:22: “These words the Lord spoke unto all your assembly in the mount…with a great voice…and He wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.” Here, Moses was referring to the first tablets of stone that God had given him, the ones which he had broken (Ex. 32:19).

In Deuteronomy 10:1-5, Moses went on to repeat to the congregation of Israel that it was God who had twice written the Ten Commandments. Clearly, God, not Moses, recorded this great Law in each case.

Suggested reading:

The Ten Commandments – “Nailed to the Cross” or Required for Salvation?

Leviticus 19:27 and 21:5

“You shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shall you mar the corners of your beard.”

“They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.”

Do these two passages forbid either haircuts or shaving?

It was the custom of some heathen nations to cut and trim their beards and hair into particular shapes in honor of certain pagan gods. The Egyptians, for example, had their hair cut short and shaped in a way that what remained appeared in the form of a circle surrounding the head (the halo was derived from this practice). In another instance, a round spot would be shaved off. Both of these are indications of sun god worship.

Modern forms of such extremes include: extremely short or even no hair done to intimidate (e.g., Nazis, skinheads); strangely cut, colored or spiked hair to intimidate, but also to shock and attract undue attention (e.g., punk rockers, the more recent “Gothic” look, etc.); strangely cut and colored hair at sporting events (a form of idol worship); and many others.

However, shaving one’s facial hair and the regular cutting of the hair on one’s head for normal grooming is totally different and, in fact, should be common practices for Christians. Take time to read I Corinthians 11:14-15. As with most things, moderation and respect should play the higher role and, if there is any doubt, one should even “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thes. 5:22).

Suggested reading:

Worldliness – What Is It?

Did Jesus Have Long Hair? – Proper Hair Lengths and Styles in God’s Church

Numbers 6:24-26

The Lord bless you, and keep you: the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

Some have asserted that these verses support the trinity simply because “the Lord” (in italics) is recorded three times. As silly as this is, it deserves some attention because it is the kind of passage trinitarians use to support their teaching.

Besides the fact that the New Testament does not, in fact, offer anything that helps bring the trinity to light in the Old Testament, another problem is that verses like these are used to confuse the symbolism associated with the number three. Throughout Scripture, we see a pattern of three used to denote completion of time and events—never in reference to God.

Consider these. God uses three annual Holy Day seasons to depict His Plan of salvation (Deut. 16:16), punctuated by three resurrections (I Thes. 4:16; Rev. 20:5-15). Jonah was in the belly of a great fish three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17). Christ pointed to Jonah, giving as the only sign that He was the Messiah the fact that He would be three days and three nights in the grave (Matt. 12:39-40). Notice that these are all time-related events!

Merely because Numbers 6:24-26 references three things that the Lord does, trinitarian theologians and scholars actually claim this verse as one “proof” that even ancient Israel supposedly recognized a triune godhead.

Before we explain why they believe this, ask yourself if you see any part of this passage espousing a triune godhead? Of course not! And notice that it is “the Lord,” not the Father or the Holy Spirit, who is mentioned in all three places.

Then consider this: How can theologians attest that ancient Israel believed in the trinity when they later rejected Christ, accusing Him of blasphemy when He claimed to be God’s Son? And, as Acts 19:2 states of a group of Jews that had been baptized by John the Baptist, that they had not even “so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit.” If ancient Israel as a whole had recognized (in form or principle) the existence of the Holy Spirit as a third member of a supposed triune godhead, it makes no sense that these Jews could have no knowledge of it whatsoever?

Under thorough examination, such “proofs” disintegrate.

If belief in a trinity had been at the core of ancient Israel’s worship of God, and if Numbers 6:24-26 is a blueprint for it, why is this passage not explicit? If Numbers 6 constitutes a supposed trinitarian “deific formula,” as some assert, why would God hide its meaning in a cryptic and coded message, instead of clearly showing three members of the godhead in this passage? Further, phrased another way, in light of the all-important First Commandment—“You shall have no other gods before Me”—why would God leave such unnecessary mystery surrounding His supposed triune nature—and correct identity as the only true God—by using these kinds of obscure passages to send so-called “messages” to His followers?

He would not!

Suggested reading:

The Trinity – Is God Three-In-One?

The Awesome Potential of Man

Deuteronomy 22:13

“If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her.”

The Old Testament describes certain circumstances under which people obtained divorces. This passage sets the stage to discuss the principle of fraud, always discovered after a marriage has occurred, but which can annul the marriage. This is the first of two passages, two chapters apart, that we will examine.

Notice: “If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her [the husband, ready to consummate the marriage, finds something wrong with his new bride], and give occasions of speech against her [he is upset with her, raising some issue], and bring up an evil name upon her [slanders her reputation], and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid [virgin]: then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: and the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hates her; and, lo, he has given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not your daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.”

Though the Bible is not clear as to how this was done, Numbers chapter 5 indicates that these tokens may have involved a kind of litmus test, or “water test,” in which a determination could be made about the woman’s virginity. It may have also been something supernatural—provided by God—used to determine if a woman was a virgin on her wedding day.

Continuing in Deuteronomy 22: “And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him [because he was wrong!]; and they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he has brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she has wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shall you put evil away from among you” (vs. 14-21).

These are the basic instructions on the major type of fraud—where one party thought he or she was marrying a virgin and found out otherwise after marriage! (If the husband made false accusation, he kept the woman and the marriage continued.) If either party had lied, the marriage was fraudulent. It was over—annulled!—and the guilty party was put away, and in the Old Testament stoned to death. God takes this matter very seriously!

Moses was plain about this. However, there is no room in this passage for someone claiming, ten, fifteen or twenty-five years later, “I got a ‘pig in a poke’, something I did not bargain for,” trying to devise a case for fraud.

Keep this in mind. The above is not technically describing a divorce, but rather an annulment. God never bound the marriage, because one partner lied from the beginning! If there is a major problem, hidden from the beginning, and the person that learns it raises the issue, the marriage would be annulled.

Suggested reading:

Understanding Divorce and Remarriage

Deuteronomy 24:1-4

“When a man has taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he has found some uncleanness in her [“some unseemly thing” or “some matter of nakedness”—in other words, perhaps she has been naked in front of another man]: then let him write her a bill of divorcement [better translated, “that he write her a bill of divorcement”], and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and sends her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and you shall not cause the land to sin, which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance.”

The Pharisees were very familiar with this passage and quoted it to Christ in Matthew 19, seeking to pin Him down with a trick question about who is, and is not, eligible for divorce and remarriage.

The beginning of the passage is a kind of “what if” situation. It neither forbids nor commands divorce, and does not really give grounds for divorce. These verses simply deal with when divorce happens.

God plainly states that He hates “putting away” (Mal. 2:16). This has always been His perspective of divorce! However, by the time Moses was teaching Israel (2,500 years after Genesis 2), men were obtaining divorces without regard to God’s will. As a result, God inspired Moses to explain, in effect, “When this happens, the man can never take his wife back.”

Suggested reading:

Understanding Divorce and Remarriage

II Samuel 24:1

“And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’”

In a casual reading of II Samuel 24:1, it appears that the Lord was the one who moved David to number Israel. Yet, such a position would contradict God’s integrity, because David’s numbering of Israel’s army constituted sin, by his own admission as the following scripture reveals: “And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech you, O Lord, take away the iniquity of your servant; for I have done very foolishly” (II Sam. 24:10).

Would God actually tempt someone to sin, and then punish them in anger because they gave in to His persuasiveness? Of course not! Such a scenario has never happened. James 1:13 states that “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man.”

Although God does not tempt mankind to sin, He allows all men to be tempted by circumstances in order to develop character and occasionally to test the level of that development. Also, Satan the devil, who certainly does regularly tempt all men, also directly tempted Christ in numerous ways in Matthew 4.

In light of these facts, a close examination of II Samuel 24:1 reveals a more complete picture. The term “he” is correctly translated from the Hebrew term denoting the personal pronoun in the third person masculine. Yet, in the Oxford edition of the King James Version of the Bible, a note in the margin explains that “he” is referring to Satan. Most Bible commentaries agree the “he” in verse 1 decidedly refers to the devil. Here is one example. The commentary by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown states that God “permitted Satan to tempt David. Satan was the active mover…and the great tempter prevailed against the king.”

However, the scripture that conclusively settles this issue is found in I Chronicles 21:1. It reads: “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” No ambiguities exist in this parallel verse, as it settles the question as to whom “he” refers in II Samuel 24:1.

No suggested reading.

I Kings 17:21

“And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray you, let this child’s soul come into him again.”

Does I Kings 17:21 prove that man has an immortal soul?

The word “soul” in this verse does not refer to an immortal soul. It is translated from the Hebrew word nephesh, meaning “breath” or “anything that breathes” (Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary). This same word—nephesh—is found in Genesis 2:7. Notice: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Notice the word “became.” In other words, men do not have souls—they are souls!

In I Kings 17:21, Elijah was praying that God return the “breath of life” to the dead little boy. God answered Elijah’s prayer and the boy was miraculously revived.

The Restored Church of God has prepared many booklets and articles that address the pagan doctrine of the immortal soul. Those listed below contain the most detail. Other verses are addressed later.

Suggested reading:

The Truth About Hell

Is There Life After Death?

Bible Introduction Course Lesson 9 – WHO AND WHAT IS MAN?

Isaiah 24:6

“Therefore has the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.”

The Seventh-Day Adventists cite this passage to prove that the earth will be completely desolate during the Millennium, with everyone either dead or “gone to heaven.” However, notice that the end of the verse plainly states, “and few men left.” It is obvious, then, that some people will remain alive after Armageddon and the plagues of Revelation. Prophecy demonstrates that approximately 10 percent of humanity will survive this period. By any definition, even if it would be 640 million (10 percent of 6.4 billion alive today), this is “few” survivors.

Suggested reading:

Revelation Explained at Last!

Tomorrow’s Wonderful World – An Inside View!

Isaiah 43:10

“You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me.”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses use this passage as authority to preach door-to-door. But notice Luke 10:7, which shows that Christ directly instructed the apostles to not go from “house to house.” The Bible nowhere commands, or even suggests, Christians to actively profess Christ, but rather always to confess Him when confronted with the question of their belief (I Pet. 3:15).

Suggested reading:

Should You Preach to Others?

Are You Being Called?

Ezekiel 1 and 10

The reader will need to open his Bible to examine what are whole chapters in this case. Ezekiel was given “visions” (1:1) while he was among the Jewish captives in Babylon. Many are confused as to the “strange sights” that he describes, with some believing these are Bible references to UFOs.

Ezekiel saw four creatures (vs. 5) appear out of a great whirlwind. Verses 6-10 describe these angelic creatures. They carried “upon their heads” a platform made of a crystalline material. (The material was likely gold of such quality that it appeared as “transparent glass” – Rev. 21:21).

On this platform was a throne!

In vision, Ezekiel saw God seated on this throne. Ezekiel 1:26-28 describes God’s appearance: “I saw as the color of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of His loins even upward and from the appearance of His loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about…This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” This God being was the Eternal (YHWH) (vs. 28)—the same Personage Who later became Christ. (You may wish to read Revelation 1:13-16, which further expands on this description.)

The Bible also defines the purpose of the cherubim (Ezek. 10:1) and the wheels under the platform of God’s throne. Various parts of the Bible show that God, at times, comes to Earth (Psa. 18:10; Ezek. 10:1-22). When He does, He arrives sitting upon His throne. The angels carry His throne at “lightning speed” (Ezek. 1:13) wherever God wishes to go.

The “wheel in the midst of a wheel” (Ezek. 1:16; 10:10) appear to be, in a sense, types of gyroscope assemblies—one is near the position of each of the cherubim. In Ezekiel 1:12, 17 and 10:11, the fact that “they turned not as they went” also confirms some form of spiritual gyroscopic platform. Even physical gyroscopic platforms in the guidance systems of airliners or guidance missiles always keep the same orientation—they never turn. Thus, as the platform described by Ezekiel travels across the universe, it maintains the same orientation.

No suggested reading.

Ezekiel 13:17-23

“Likewise, you son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy you against them, and say, Thus says the Lord God; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of My people, and will you save the souls alive that come unto you? And will you pollute Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to My people that hear your lies? Wherefore thus says the Lord God; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith you there hunt the souls to make them fly…Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and you shall know that I am the Lord. Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hand of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life: therefore you shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver My people out of your hand: and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

When reading through these verses, the question arises: Who is God talking about? Who are the “daughters” who “prophesy” and make “pillows” and “kerchiefs” in order to “hunt souls”?

The context of this chapter is the time just prior to the Day of the Lord (vs. 5). It addresses the “Christian” leaders of the modern-day descendants of Israel—mainly America and Britain.

Verses 1-16 mention false prophets, men who deceive the people. But in this day and age, more women are also becoming actively involved in preaching and missionary work. This prophecy addresses the ever-increasing number of false “prophetesses” active today.

Verse 17 shows that these false women ministers prophesy (proper translation: “preach”) out of their own hearts. They are not sent by God, nor are they preaching His message—the gospel, or good news, of the coming kingdom of God. These false leaders are also not warning (Isa. 58:1) the modern descendants of ancient Israel of the destruction to fall upon them if they do not heed, and repent of their sins. (See Ezekiel 3:19; 4:2-3; 5:2-4, 8-10, 12-17; 6:11-14; 12:10-16.)

A host of passages make plain that all false ministers are an abomination to God. But, despite the howling protests of “modernists,” He especially forbids women to be in positions of religious leadership (I Cor. 14:33-35; I Tim. 2:11-12).

By examining what these false ministers preach, one can better understand what false prophetesses preach—because their message is the same. They do not show the people their sins. Ezekiel further states that they have “…daubed the wall with untempered mortar” (13:10-15). (Untempered mortar does not contain the correct proportions of raw materials. This faulty construction results in walls that will not stand.) They have preached “smooth things” (Isa. 30:10) that will not get them fired or disciplined by boards of deacons who do not want to be told that they must obey God instead of being told about “love.” In other words, they have told the people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.

Also, these misguided “soothsayers” attempt to solve all of the world’s problems—literally fix the world—through various forms of “do-gooding,” which are the equivalent of taking an aspirin to try to cure cancer. Because of their neglect in pointing out to the people their sins, God’s wrath will be poured out upon them. They have spread (and are still spreading) a message of “Peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jer. 8:11).

Believing that God is somehow in a kind of cosmic wrestling match with Satan, these false ministers are in the business of “hunting for souls” (13:18). They travel to the farthest reaches of the globe on their “soul-saving missions”—the very term they use. But they will be powerless to save the world from the punishment that God has promised in His Word (which they generally deny will really come).

The meanings of the terms “pillows” and “kerchiefs” are unclear. Some commentaries suggest that a better translation of “pillows” (Hebrew: keceth [#3704]) is “fillets” or “headbands.” They believe that “kerchiefs” (Hebrew: micpacthath [#4556]) is a reference to “long veils.” A long veil secured by a headband is an accurate description of part of the attire of members of certain female religious orders.

Other sources interpret “pillows” and “kerchiefs” to symbolize the soothing, feminine nature of the religion espoused and promoted by these false prophetesses. Many commentators believe that the use of these terms in the original Hebrew is in a merely figurative sense. The “pillows” are a reference to these women attempting to cover God’s hands, and thus conceal His power to rebuke sin. The “kerchiefs” picture the veil of spiritual blindness (II Cor. 4:4) that they cast over their devotees. The term “magic bands,” as it is translated in some English versions of the Bible, is refuted by certain Hebrew scholars.

These women actually pollute the Word of God among the people “for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread” (vs. 19). (Note: the Hebrew word kiy can be rendered as “for” or “with”). This means that they either use food to attract followers or actively request donations to support their mission. (More and more churches today are actually in fact bribing people with gifts to attend their services.)

Since these women do not teach their followers that the cause of world suffering is rooted in their disobedience to God’s laws, they will be punished (vs. 20-23).

Suggested reading:

How Religion Deceives You About Your Incredible Future

Which Is the True Gospel?

Micah 4:5

“For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.”

What is the meaning of “the name of his God” and “the name of the Lord our God”?

As the context shows, this verse will be fulfilled after Christ has returned to earth and ended all wars. All nations, both large and small, will be subject to Christ’s rulership and rebuking. They will convert their instruments of war into tools for agricultural (vs. 3). War will no longer be fought anywhere on Earth. And happiness, peace and prosperity will be known throughout all nations (vs. 4).

Through Christ’s headquarters at Jerusalem, people will receive true and proper education. They will worship the true God in their own language—“the name of his God.” The Israelis will worship in their own language—“we will walk in…our God.” While they may also be able to use their native languages, all will be worshipping the same God.

Also, the phrase “walk every one in the name of his god” is almost certainly a reference to the many God Beings at that time—true Christians who have been born into the God Family at the First Resurrection upon Christ’s Return—who will then rule the earth under Him.

Also, all people and nations will be taught a new language. This pure language will allow everyone to communicate with one another (Zeph. 3:9). Their native language will possibly exist side-by-side with one universal language—as is the case with English throughout the world today.

Suggested reading:

How Religion Deceives You About Your Incredible Future

The Awesome Potential of Man

Zechariah 8:19

“Thus says the Lord of hosts; the fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.”

This scripture mentions fasts that were held on the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months of the year. These fasts were proclaimed by men of Judah to commemorate four terrible events that fell upon the Jews during the days of the final defeat by the Babylonians.

The fasts depict the following events (listed chronologically):

Tenth month: Jeremiah 52:4-5 records the account of King Nebuchadnezzar setting up the final siege against Jerusalem in the tenth month during the ninth year of the reign of Zedekiah.

Fourth month: Jeremiah 52:6-7 records the Babylonians breaking into Jerusalem due to the city being so weakened by famine after sixteen months of the siege. This occurred during the fourth month of the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah.

Fifth month: In Jeremiah 52:12-14, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard of King Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem with his army and carried away valuables that were in the Temple, burned the Temple and the city, and took away many captives. This event occurred in the following month of the same year that the Babylonians broke into Jerusalem as noted above.

Seventh month: This fast commemorates the tragedy of Gedaliah and those with him at Mizpah being slain by Ishmael and his band of murderers. This account is recorded in Jeremiah 41:1-3. Gedaliah had been appointed governor by the Babylonians in the wake of the captivity to oversee those left behind to manage the land.

When Israel is once again obeying God’s laws and following His way of life, God will have changed these humanly-appointed fasts. Zechariah 8:19 states that these days of sorrow “shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.” Verses 20-23 in the same context show that Judah will follow God and be blessed abundantly, thus no longer having a need to commemorate these horrific events. However, the commanded annual fast of the Day of Atonement will be kept, along with all of God’s Holy Days (Zech. 14:16-19).

Suggested reading:

God’s Holy Days or Pagan Holidays?

What You Need to Know About Fasting

Matthew 1:18

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

This is a key verse used in the attempt to prove that the Holy Spirit is a person. The idea is presented as follows: If the Holy Spirit performed the act of begetting Christ, it must be a person, not merely the power that emanates from God. This false reasoning neglects one important point.

Christ prayed to another Being, which He called Father (Matt. 6:6-15 and many other places). This proves that the Holy Spirit is merely the agent or power of God. The only other explanation would be that Christ was terribly confused about who His Father was. This would also mean that He was confused about the entire Plan of God—because it is the Father-son relationship that all of us share with Christ to the Father that depicts how God is expanding His family.

Suggested reading:

The Trinity – Is God Three-In-One?

The Awesome Potential of Man

Matthew 3:11

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire.”

Some have thought that the baptism of fire and water baptism are both to be sought. Typically, Pentecostals speak of receiving the baptism of fire at the point of supposedly truly receiving the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit.

Notice verse 7, and see that John is talking to the Pharisees. These accusative, hypocritical, carnal-minded men were not qualified for water baptism in order to “flee from the wrath to come.” Verses 9-10 show that John warns them that they had not qualified and is saying in verse 11, in effect, “Look out, because One is coming who not only baptizes with water but with fire also.”

The meaning is that the lake of fire is a form of liquid fire, and being cast into it (the Bible punishment described for the wicked) constitutes a “baptism” (Rev. 20:14-15). Of course, none would want this baptism!

Suggested reading:

What Do You Mean “Water Baptism”?

Bible Introduction Course Lesson 20 – ABOUT WATER BAPTISM

The Truth About Hell

Understanding Tongues

Matthew 3:17

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

If “no man has seen God” (I John 4:12) or “heard His voice at any time” (John 5:37), then whose voice is this?

The answer: Since Christ, the former Logos (the Spokesman or WordJohn 1:1, 14) who spoke for God (Gen. 1:26), was His Son and was occupied with being a human being on Earth for 33 1/2 years, then an angel must have been “filling in” for Christ during this period.

No suggested reading.

Matthew 4:17

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

If God’s kingdom begins at Christ’s Return and the First Resurrection, then what does “at hand” mean? (See Luke 17:21 explanation to understand further.)

Christ meant that the knowledge, certainty and understanding of the kingdom was right where He was preaching at that moment—or it was immediately “at hand.” Also, Christ, as a member of the God Family, was a direct representative of the kingdom of God. This government was literally His government.

An ambassador, whose counsel might be sought in a matter, as an official representative of the U.S. to France (for instance), would not be surprised to have a French diplomat ask him for the “knowledge, counsel, opinions, etc.” of his country. Only the ambassador—not the country of France—need be present to offer this.

Luke 17:21 is used by Catholics alongside Matthew 4:17 to demonstrate that the kingdom of God is on Earth now, “in the hearts of men.” This false conclusion naturally follows the misunderstanding of “at hand.” But John 3:3-6 explains that one must be composed of Spirit to “see” the kingdom—because flesh and blood cannot (I Cor. 15:50). This is covered in much greater detail in the booklet below, and in a variety of our other books and booklets.

Suggested reading:

What Is the Kingdom of God?

Matthew 5:11-12

“Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

This passage is found just seven verses after Christ had said, “the meek shall inherit the earth.” Did Jesus somehow forget what He had just said? Or did He teach two separate rewards—one for the meek (earth) and another (heaven) for those who are persecuted for following Him? What does this scripture mean?

Read I Peter 1:3-4:“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you.”

Notice the word reserved. It is the reward of Christians that is reserved in heaven, to be “revealed” (i.e., salvation) “in the last time” (vs. 5). Quite literally, every true Christian holds a reservation for a glorious future event. The apostle Peter says nothing about going to heaven to either obtain this reward or to stay there as the reward—only that a Christian’s reward is reserved there until the “last time”—when Christ returns. In this way, a Christian’s reward remains “incorruptible,” “undefiled” and “unable to fade.”

Some also claim that I Peter 1:4 (expanded later) is, in itself, a “heaven proof text.” Recognize two points. The verse does not say that Christians are going to heaven to receive their reward. Here is why.

Revelation 22:12 states, “And, behold, I [Christ] come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Also see I Cor. 15:50 and Matt. 25:34 to see when Christians inherit their reward.) Christ is coming to earth, bringing rewards with Him—not the other way around.

Suggested reading:

What Is Your Reward in the Next Life?

Do the Saved Go to Heaven?

Matthew 7:6

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast you your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

The analogies of “dogs” and “swine” were used by Christ to demonstrate how people whose minds have not been opened by God to understand His truth react when they encounter spiritual knowledge. Jesus taught in John 6:44, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him…”

Christ was instructing the disciples not to go about trying to convert the masses. The Father would do the calling. Unless God is opening someone’s mind to spiritual understanding, they will treat His truth in the same manner that pigs would treat pearls or as dogs would treat something holy—as dirt. A pig would neither understand nor appreciate the marvelous beauty and worth of the pearls, a type of the many wonderful truths of God. Neither would a person not being called by God understand the great value of the truths of His Word. He would, figuratively, “trample it underfoot,” and “rend” (attack) the one giving it.

One should never try to force God’s truths on others. Instead, God’s people should certainly “…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Pet. 3:15). The Christian should always be prepared to answer questions that others may have, if they are asking sincerely—to learn—and not for the purpose of debate or argument. Often, when people honestly desire to understand what the Bible teaches, it can be an indication that God is opening that person’s mind.

In Matthew 13, Christ once again compares the truths of God to pearls. This account states, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (vs. 45-46). Like the merchant, who sold all that he had to purchase a pearl of great price, God expects His people to treat His truths as priceless gems.

Suggested reading:

Should You Preach to Others?

Are You Being Called?

Matthew 7:21

“Not everyone that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven.”

Does the Bible’s periodic reference to the kingdom of heaven mean that Christians are going there?

The Bible teaches that Christ and the apostles taught the gospel of the kingdom of God, referenced earlier. The word gospel is found 101 times in the Bible. Sometimes it is found alone, and sometimes as “gospel of the kingdom.” Other times it appears as “gospel of the kingdom of God” or the equivalent phrase “gospel of the kingdom of heaven.”

Recognize that this version of the phrase says, “OF heaven,” not “IN heaven.” It is heaven’s kingdom. There is a big difference. Just as kingdom OF God means God’s kingdom, not the kingdom IN God, the same is true of the kingdom OF heaven, or heaven’s kingdom. The preposition “of” always connotes possession.

The phrase kingdom of God is synonymous in every case with kingdom of heaven.

Suggested reading:

What Is the Kingdom of God?

Do the Saved Go to Heaven?

Is There Life After Death?

What Is Your Reward in the Next Life?

Matthew 8:12

“But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

What does this mean? Who are “the children of the kingdom…cast out”?

Revelation 22:15 defines the types of people who are disqualified from entering the kingdom—left “without” (outside). Matthew 8:12 refers to the Jews, who had access to the knowledge of, and entrance into, the kingdom. They were one-twelfth of the “chosen people”—one-twelfth of the twelve tribes of Israel. Christ directly warns that many of them could miss out on what they once had free access to, because they were not properly responding to the knowledge that they had been given.

No suggested reading.

Matthew 10:28

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

This verse proves that men can kill the human body, but not the soul, which the passage reveals God can destroy. The “soul” is the life in a person, and this can only be a reference to eternal life, because any man can take the physical life of another human being. Ezekiel 18:4 and 20 plainly state that souls can die. Romans 6:23 agrees with that. However, at baptism, our “life” is hid with Christ (Col. 3:3) and belongs only to Him.

Luke 12:5 is a parallel account. There, people are told to fear the God who can bring eternal death in “gehenna fire”—not just someone who can end their physical life. This verse is another proof of the pagan doctrine of the immortal soul.

Suggested reading:

Is There Life After Death?

Matthew 11:12

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

How could the kingdom of God, which is spiritual, suffer violence, presumably at the hands of physical people? The representatives of the kingdom often suffered violence from those who hated their message. John the Baptist was beheaded, and Christ would later be crucified. Most of the prophets were tortured or killed, or both. History records that virtually all the apostles, except John, died in ways that involved torture and violence.

Notice the last phrase. There are two correct meanings: (1) Christ, as a representative of the kingdom, was taken by force, and (2) those who seek to enter the kingdom must struggle—battle—to do so. (The reader should take the time to examine the following passages: Ephesians 6:12; Luke 16:16 latter; Philippians 2:12-13; 3:14; II Corinthians 10:3-5; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Matthew 24:13; James 4:7-8; I Peter 5:9; I Corinthians 9:24-27; I Timothy 6:12—among others.) Notice the powerful action verbs—wrestle, fight, war, endure, press, pull down, run, resist—found in these verses.

No suggested reading.

Matthew 12:31-32

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? What is the unpardonable sin? Is it merely swearing or taking God’s name in vain? Is any form of swearing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and, therefore, unforgivable? The subject of the unpardonable sin is enormous, and the booklet referenced at the end must be read in conjunction with this very brief explanation of this verse offered here.

This verse explains that “all manner of sin and blasphemy” shall be forgiven, but that “blasphemy and speaking against the Holy Spirit” are unpardonable—unforgivable. Therefore, identifying exactly what this offense is becomes supremely important. It is interesting that the Greek word for blasphemy (whether against the Holy Spirit or the Son of man) is the same. The key then must be who or what is spoken or blasphemed against, not the blasphemy itself.

Hebrews 6:4-6 explains that there are those who are unable to repent—who once had God’s Spirit, but let it completely slip away. Verse 4 says, “it is impossible” for these to repent because, in the process of falling away, a person loses all desire to repent and change.

Let’s examine Hebrews 10:26: “if we [Christians] sin willfully [this is in the present progressive tense] after that we have received the knowledge of the truth…” People can quench the Holy Spirit by overriding the way it guides them! Hebrews 3:13 reveals that the deceitfulness of sin can harden people—can get them to commit the unpardonable sin by allowing deceit to choke God’s Spirit. Eventually, this ongoing action becomes “willful” or premeditated. Verse 29 in chapter 10 explains that such people are practicing sin as a way of life and have therefore “trodden (Christ) under foot.” The key phrase describing the seriousness of this is that they “have done despite unto the Spirit of grace.”

Anyone can foolishly curse or use God’s name in vain, and sometimes be immediately sorry about it and repent. But the unpardonable sin is when a person deliberately hardens himself against God’s Spirit and the power of that Spirit. Usually, such people become deceived (Heb. 3:13) early in the process, but later (willfully) choose to continue in their actions until they destroy their conscience and thus any desire to repent.

To speak against God’s Spirit is to understand what one is doing and to knowingly attribute the power of God to the devil (possibly the case with the Pharisees). Generally, it is to knowingly squelch, quench or ignore the warning pricks coming from God’s Spirit over time within a converted mind.

Suggested reading:

Just What Is “The Unpardonable Sin”?

Matthew 14:1-4

“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, and said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John [this had happened previously], and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him [in the past], It is not lawful for you to have her.”

This passage records the beheading of John the Baptist as the result of what he had said to King Herod. It re-introduces the subject of divorce and remarriage, again, a far bigger subject than can be addressed in this short explanation.

This said, the question has arisen: In light of the truth about divorce and remarriage, and understanding which marriages God is and is not binding in this world, how is it that, if Herod’s previous marriage was not bound, John could say to him that what he was doing was wrong? If God is not entering into the marriages of people in this world (Herod certainly was of this world)—not binding them—then how could John make this statement?

Let’s understand. Since Herod was breaking the Sabbath, John could have said to him, “You’re breaking the Sabbath.” Was he being judged for this transgression? Was sin being imputed? Did he know that it was the Sabbath? Of course not. But anytime someone breaks the Sabbath—he is breaking the Sabbath!

John could as easily have said, “Herod, you’re not tithing. You’re stealing from God.” Did Herod know he was stealing from God? No. Did he know tithing was in the Bible? No. Was he at that time being held accountable by God—for what he did not know? In other words, was he being judged? No. But, if anyone does not tithe, he is still stealing from God.

John could have told Herod, justifiably, that he should not marry someone who had been divorced. But John’s statement did not mean that Herod’s wife’s first marriage had been bound by God. The present world is cut off from God by sin (Isa. 59:1-2).

Romans 3:23 states, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Sin is sin. But the world is not now being judged for sinning, because the world generally does not know what sin is. While sin is not being imputed, people are still committing sin. It was in this way that John the Baptist could tell Herod it was not lawful for him to have his brother’s wife.

Suggested reading:

Understanding Divorce and Remarriage

Does the Bible Teach Predestination?

Matthew 16:18

“And I say also unto you, That you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

This verse is central Catholic theology regarding the authority of popes, who are said to derive their authority from Christ’s supposed empowerment of Peter, and thus his successors. This passage is thought to designate Peter as the first pope.

Breaking down the important Greek words within this verse makes it easier to understand:

Peter comes from petros (Greek #4074 Strong’s) meaning a piece of rock, but either bigger or smaller than a stone (Greek lithos #3037 Strong’s). Rock comes from petra (Greek #4073 Strong’s) meaning a mass of rock, usually very large.

Peter was a small rock. Jesus Christ is the large rock, or foundation stone of the Church He built. Christ is distinguishing between the two. Proof that the mass of rock is Christ can be found in I Corinthians 10:4, Ephesians 2:20, Matthew 7:24 and 16:13-16.

Understand that Christ is the great Rock that the Church is built upon. This verse is absolutely not saying that Peter is a rock or that the Church is built on him. I Corinthians 3:11 shows there can be only one foundation (Christ), not two. This applies to Peter’s role. Ephesians 4:11-12 explains that apostles (Peter, Paul, John, etc.) were merely in offices that Christ established to serve His Church. Collectively, with the prophets, they form part of the Church’s foundation—with Christ (Eph. 2:20).

Think of Christ as complimenting Peter. Then there is this: If He had established him as the first (infallible) pope, how could Peter almost immediately have fallen into what Christ labeled a satanic attitude in the very next verses, 21 to 23? Would such an attitude be possible for one who was infallible? Also, there is this question: How could Peter have later denied Christ three times?

Here are ten proofs that Peter was never at Rome—and therefore could not have been the first pope:

(1) Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 15:16; Gal. 2:7) not Peter. Rome was a Gentile city.

(2) The Emperor Claudius had banished all Jews from Rome in A.D. 50 (also see #9 below).

(3) Peter went to Babylon—in Mesopotamia (I Pet. 5:13).

(4) Paul would never have written what he did in Romans 1 (the book was written in A.D. 55), verses 11 and 15—clear insults to Peter if he had been faithfully serving there for thirteen previous years (from A.D. 42), particularly if it had been as pope. Actually, a “Peter,” Simon Magus (see the account in Acts 8), was there. It was this Simon (not Simon Peter) who was the Pater (or Peter), which means “a father.” (Paternity and patriarch come from this word.) Simon Magus was already by this time the leading figure in the early apostate church at Rome.

(5) Romans 15:20—Paul declared that he would not preach (or write) upon any other man’s foundation. Yet, Paul wrote the letter to the Romans. Thus, Peter could not have laid the foundation of the Roman congregation.

(6) Romans 16 contains thirty different salutations, yet Peter, supposedly the resident “pope” there, was not greeted by Paul. Think of what a grievous slight this would have been had he been present. Paul’s epistle did not even acknowledge Peter.

(7) Galatians 1:18-19 and 2:7 demonstrate that Peter was based at Jerusalem, from where he periodically traveled to places like Bithynia, Northern Galatia and Babylon, and other places where Israelites (also see #9) had migrated, from A.D. 38 to A.D. 49—the dates of these events described in Galatians.

(8) Luke 22:24—If Peter was already designated to be the future pope, why did the disciples argue among themselves about which of them was the greatest?

(9) Galatians 2:7 reveals that Peter took the gospel to “the circumcision”—the Jews, and the other tribes of Israel, referenced in #7. (See Matthew 10:5-6.)

(10) II Timothy 4:10-11 mentions that Paul wrote from Rome and records that “only Luke was with him.” This eliminates Peter.

Suggested reading:

Saturday or Sunday – Which Is the Sabbath?

Matthew 17:1-3

“And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with Him.”

Many have badly misunderstood this “transfiguration.” In this account, Peter, James and John saw Christ in glory—“transfigured”—and appearing with Moses and Elijah. Had these men gone to heaven?

For those who will simply believe the Bible, the obvious explanation lies in verse 9: “Tell the vision to no man.” This entire account is a vision! It involved what three men saw (vs. 7-8) IN VISION. The subject of the vision was not to address where these men were. Remember, Christ stated that no man has ascended to heaven (John 3:13). Certainly this would apply to Moses and Elijah.

No suggested reading.

Matthew 19:3-9

“The Pharisees also came unto Him, tempting Him, and saying unto Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And He answered and said unto them, Have you not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. They said unto Him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He said unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away does commit adultery.”

The topic, once again, is divorce and remarriage. The explanation of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 should be reviewed with this one.

In this account, the Pharisees were trying to see whether Christ (read vs. 8-9) would “side” with either: (1) God, from the time of Adam, or (2) Moses, from the time of Moses—when the issue in the law (end of verse 3) referred to was amended—to that present time. Had Christ sided with either of these to the exclusion of the other, the Pharisees would have accused Him of blasphemy. Christ outwitted His questioners by stating that both periods were correct! The fact that God allowed no divorce was correct. The fact that Moses did permit—not command—divorce for reasons of “hardness of heart” was also correct.

Why? Let’s examine each verse:

vs. 5—Describes marriage by God.

vs. 6—The governments of men have no authority to permit divorce.

vs. 7—Moses did allow it.

vs. 8—He allowed it because people can be hardened (the Greek word means callused or hardhearted). There are those who are unable to overlook certain sins—they simply cannot forgive them! Adultery can be one of them. Interestingly, the English word translated hardness (vs. 8) comes from the Greek word sklerokardia, from which come sclerosis, arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The word cardiac (meaning, of the heart) comes from kardia.

Remember also that, in verse 3, the Pharisees had wanted to know if “any cause” for divorce was a good enough reason.

vs. 9—The answer to their question is simply ‘no.’ Christ went on to explain that only for “fornication” (Greek porneia includes fornication, looseness and promiscuity) could divorce be lawfully pursued. Divorce because of fornication would often be done in the form of annulment.

If one commits sexual immorality after marriage, for a long enough period, the person has evidenced himself or herself to have now become an unbeliever—or to never have been one. The marriage could then end, and the believing party would be free to remarry on the basis of I Corinthians 7:12-15. Paul explained that the unbelieving party would have departed anyway, and the marriage bond would have been severed by God’s permission.

The Church of God understands, and has always taught, that the simple act of one-time adultery—however grievous the impact on the marriage—would not be enough to end the marriage bond and allow a person to divorce and be eligible to remarry, though it might cause a couple to choose separation. One act of adultery does not automatically mean a person has become an unbeliever. Many have fully repented of this sin.

Suggested reading:

Understanding Divorce and Remarriage

Matthew 19:10-12

“His disciples said unto Him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But He said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

This discussion is a continuation of the previous verses. The context leading to verse 12 is that of any man (end of vs. 10) who has put away his wife. Christ’s disciples suggest that it would then be “not good” to marry. Note that nothing about “forbidden” is said.

Verse 11 states that some are able to or must remain unmarried. Verse 12 describes three such types of eunuchs: (1) “Eunuchs from their mother’s womb” are unmarried men who remain single men and virgins for life, (2) “eunuchs of men” are castrated men, found in some societies, who have had this procedure forcibly done to them so that they can be trusted with wives and harem girls, and (3) “eunuchs for the kingdom” are men who have chosen to remain single to better serve God without encumbrance under difficult circumstances (such as Paul)—or this can refer to those who are bound in marriage to someone they do not or cannot live with. This would be because of circumstances described in I Corinthians 7:10-11.

No suggested reading.

Matthew 19:16-19

“And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why call you Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments. He said unto Him, Which? Jesus said, You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother: and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Why did Christ mention only five of the Ten Commandments be kept in order to receive eternal life? Does this mean the others were done away, with the usual focus being that Christ did not restate the Sabbath command?

The answer is an emphatic “No”! King David said, “all His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever…” (Psa. 111:7-8). Christ, as God of the Old Testament (I Cor. 10:4), also stated, “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6). Hebrews 13:8 explains that Jesus Christ is the same—“yesterday, today and forever.”

Because Christ was speaking to a Jew in the account, He had to clarify of which commandments He was speaking. By citing some of the Ten Commandments, Christ clarified that He was speaking about God’s commands, not the commands of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish “Supreme Court”) or those of any man.

To clarify this further, look at which commandments He did state: “You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother: and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Christ wanted to reassert to the listener the importance of loving one’s neighbor (Matt. 19:22). The rich man’s refusal to use his wealth to help others proved that he needed a reminder and lesson in these points.

One should also note the commandments that Christ did not directly mention: “You shall have no other gods before Me…You shall not make unto you any graven image…You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…You shall not covet…” (Ex. 20:3-8, 17).

Because Christ did not directly refer to these commandments, is it alright to break them? For instance, is it acceptable to worship other gods?—to swear?—to covet? The answer: Of course not! Yet, this obvious point is overlooked in the rush to do away with God’s Sabbath command.

Notice James 2:10: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Christ inspired James to write that every point of the law is crucial. Christ did not need to state all Ten Commandments, because if one breaks any of them, he is guilty of breaking them all.

Suggested reading:

The Ten Commandments – “Nailed to the Cross” or Required for Salvation?

• See the articles mentioned after Exodus 34:28 explanation.

Matthew 22:31-32

“But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Does this passage mean that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive, and in heaven?

This text is often twisted in an attempt to prove that these three men are not really dead, since it states that God is the God “of the living.” Careful reading refutes this argument.

Jesus is speaking “touching [concerning] the resurrection.” He is not speaking of these men living in heaven now, but rather about who must be resurrected in the future, since God is the God “of the living.” This is the subject that He is explaining—the resurrection. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are dead (Heb. 9:27). Therefore, the God of the living must resurrect them—bring them back to life—at some point in His Plan. Recognize that this was the specific point Christ was addressing. He was not attempting, in one verse, to explain all of the other understanding about the what, when, where and how of that Master Plan!

Suggested reading:

Do the Saved Go to Heaven?

Bible Introduction Course Lesson 8 – IS HEAVEN the Reward of the Saved?

Matthew 25:41, 46

“Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

Do these verses prove that there is an ever-burning hell?

They do not! The Greek word, aionios, translated “everlasting,” means “agelasting.” The event referred to is the 1,000-year Millennium, when Satan and his demons will have been thrown into the bottomless pit and bound (Rev. 20:2-3). There are three separate phases of Satan’s “hell”:

(1) II Peter 2:4 (latter part): The 6,000 years that he has been cast down to earth, as explained by the Greek word tartaroo, which means prison, incarcerate or place of restraint. II Peter incorrectly translates tartaroo as “hell.”

(2) Revelation 20:1-3: 1,000 years in the bottomless pit.

(3) Jude 13 (latter part): Contains a reference to Satan being cast into “outer darkness” after the Millennium.

Matthew 25:46 also refers to an everlasting “punishment,” not “punishing.” Whenever death occurs, it is certainly an everlasting event—as far as the person is concerned. This helps to explain verse 41. Verses 41 and 46 must be understood together.

Suggested reading:

Bible Introduction Course Lesson 10 – THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL

Matthew 26:17

“Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where will You that we prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

What specific day does this speak of? Many would conclude by reading the verse that it is talking about the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a high Holy Day. Let’s examine this idea.

The King James Version italicizes the words “day” and “feast of.” Any time you see italicized words in the KJV, this tells you that these words were not found in the original texts (in this case, the original Greek). Italicized words were added by translators either to clarify the English, or because they thought it necessary to aid the overall meaning. A better translation of this verse is “Now [at] the first of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where will You that we prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

The Greek word translated “first” is protos. It means the “foremost in time,” “foremost in order,” “beginning” or “to go before.” This precisely describes how the Passover always precedes or goes before the Days of Unleavened Bread. Leviticus 23:5-6 makes this pattern unmistakably clear.

God considers the previous day over, and a new one beginning, at sunset (Lev. 23:32). The conversation between Christ and the disciples took place at sunset on the 13th of Nisan (Abib), the beginning of the 14th. Christ would introduce the New Testament Passover later that evening (Matt. 26:20).

Therefore, this verse is not referring to the first Holy Day, which begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It actually refers to the day before that, the 14th of Abib, also known as Passover day. This day is the final day in which to prepare for the upcoming Feast of Unleavened Bread, by putting all leavened bread out of the home (Ex. 12:18-19).

As a result, many in that day came to consider the Passover day to also be part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, explains that the eight-day spring festival period was commonly referred to as “the days of Unleavened Bread.” He also confirms the understanding that Passover day was the 14th—not the 15th, which is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, beginning at sunset (Antiquities of the Jews). Luke 22:1 also reveals that the word Passover was often interchanged with the Days of Unleavened Bread, referring to the entire eight days.

So, Matthew 26:17 refers to the beginning of the 14th of Abib—Passover—not the 15th, the feast day. Because translators did not understand what we have covered here, they mistakenly inserted “feast of.”

Suggested reading:

Christ’s Resurrection Was Not on Sunday

How Often Should the Lord’s Supper Be Taken?

Christ’s Crucifixion Was Not on Friday

Matthew 26:52

“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again your sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

Does this state that people who “live by the sword will die by the sword?”

This verse is usually not read correctly by the casual reader. It actually reads, “all they that take the sword shall perish WITH the sword,” not by the sword, and there is a big difference. Here is the point: Christ is explaining that a sword cannot, of and by itself, protect anyone! One who attempts to use a sword for personal protection will ultimately die—despite the fact that there is a sword in his hand. His point is that we should not trust in swords, but rather in God. People should never trust in physical weapons for protection. This does not say that one carrying a sword, gun, knife, chain, or other weapon for protection, will die a violent death by the same kind of weapon.

Suggested reading:

War, Killing and the Military

Matthew 27:9

“Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value.”

Because of a similar prophecy found in the book of Zechariah (11:12-13), some believe that the word “Jeremiah” in Matthew 27:9 should have been translated “Zechariah.” However, the original Greek word is “Jeremiah.”

This verse must be read carefully to understand its meaning. As it states, the prophet Jeremiah was the speaker. However, this verse is not recorded in the book of Jeremiah, which, of course, he did write.

The Bible never contradicts itself (John 10:35). The obvious implication is that Jeremiah uttered the prophecy, but only at a later time was Zechariah inspired to record it.

No suggested reading.

Matthew 27:52-53

“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

Who were these “saints which slept and arose”? Does the resurrection referenced in verse 53 reflect proof that people die, are then resurrected and immediately go to heaven—as Protestants assert?

Though these are called saints in this account, Matthew wrote his gospel from a vantage point of many years later. These people probably, in most or all cases, became saints, in the fullest sense, after Pentecost in Acts 2. They likely were among the many followers of Christ who died of natural causes (like Lazarus in John 11) during His ministry without receiving an opportunity to be in the first resurrection.

Some claim that these saints were Moses, Abraham, Noah, etc. But if these people had tried to claim this at the time, no one would have believed them. So, this is merely unscriptural idle speculation. Also, whoever they were, they would have needed to be familiar with the Jerusalem area (see vs. 53).

I Timothy 6:16 shows that Jesus is the only one with immortality, and so this group must have been merely resurrected back to human physical form. Recall that they did “appear” unto many. Consider. Who would have believed strangers claiming that they were Moses or Abraham?

Notice also that verse 52 says that “the graves were opened”—the earthquake must have caused this! However, verse 53 states they came out of their graves “after His resurrection…”—which would have been three days later. Also, this timing disproves any idea that they went “straight to heaven with Christ” at His death, the assertion that many make in order to put the patriarchs of the Old Testament into the New Testament “heaven-is-the-reward-of-the-saved” false teaching.

No suggested reading.

Matthew 28:1-6

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and His raiment white as snow: and for fear of Him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

Some feel these verses prove an “Easter Sunday” resurrection. Understand that the entire account speaks in the past tense. Verse 2 mentions that a great earthquake “had been” (the correct Greek tense). In effect, verse 6 says, “He has already gone; for He is risen [already].” This is because Christ had already been crucified on the previous Wednesday, and would have been raised on Saturday. Hence, He would have already been gone by Sunday morning!

Suggested reading:

Christ’s Resurrection Was Not on Sunday

The True Origin of Easter

Christ’s Crucifixion Was Not on Friday

Matthew 28:19

“Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Scholars and theologians have universally misunderstood the meaning of this instruction. We must ask: What does this scripture actually mean? Does it validate the trinity—that God is three persons in one being?

First, let’s understand some basics of this scripture. It is clear that all three have a name—but a name does not make something a person. People name all kinds of things—mountains, buildings, pets, cars, boats, planes, estates, and many more. The point is that just because there is a name for all three, this does not mean that all three are persons or personalities.

What does it mean to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? This is not difficult. The Father and Son have a name and the Holy Spirit conveys or bears that name to His children.

Let’s understand the baptism process more clearly.

The disciples were to baptize in the name of the Father, because it is the Father “of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:15). In other words, the Father is the Head of the house—the family—and families traditionally carry the name of the father. Also, it is God’s (the Father’s) goodness that leads one to the recognition and repentance of his sins (Rom. 2:4).

The apostles were instructed to baptize in the name of the Son, because His death, in our stead, makes salvation possible (Rom. 5:8; II Pet. 3:9).

But they were also to baptize in the name of the Holy Spirit, because the Father uses that Spirit—His Spirit—as the power through which the begettal is performed (Rom. 8:16). The Holy Spirit is the begetting agent.

This is what the passage means! God gives Christians His Holy Spirit, which is His seed. When they receive that seed, it gives them God’s name—they become heirs with Jesus Christ. From the point of conversion, Christians carry the name of God. When understood, this is why the name of the true Church has always been the “Church of God.” The word “Church” (Greek: ekklesia) literally means “the called out ones”—human beings are called out of the world, begotten as God’s children, put into His Church and given His name.

Note what John said about the “seed” within converted people: “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (I John 3:9). It is interesting that the Greek word for “seed” is sperma, from which comes the English word “sperm.” This makes plain that the Holy Spirit is the “sperm” or “seed” of God.

Notice another scripture, adding light to what the seed of God is: “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again [Greek: anagennao, begotten again], not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever” (I Pet. 1:22-23).

While Christians will ultimately be born again into the kingdom of God at the resurrection, they are, at conversion, begotten of God through the Holy Spirit. This is similar to the human reproductive system. As soon as the sperm of a father attaches to the egg of the mother, a child is conceived. The child is not yet born, although he is begotten of the physical seed—the father’s sperm. We, once we have received the Holy Spirit—the seed of God—are begotten in this life, but not yet born! Like any human father who would say that his wife is carrying his child, God speaks of the Church—described as the “Mother” of Christians (Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 12)—as carrying His children.

So then, Matthew 28:19 clearly does not establish the trinity, but rather simply reveals that when we are baptized, we are given God’s name through His Spirit.

Suggested reading:

The Trinity – Is God Three-In-One?

Mark 8:33

“But when He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Get you behind Me, Satan: for you savor not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”

Why did Christ refer to Peter as “Satan”?

Let’s understand. Peter was the most outspoken of the disciples. This was not a trait that always served him well. (Notice Mark 14:47 and John 13:6-9.) In the Mark 8:33 account, Satan—the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4), and “prince of the power of the air…[working] in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2)—had influenced Peter, causing him to “rebuke Him [Christ].”

Satan knows “…that he has but a short time” (Rev. 12:12). He does not want to give up his influence and hold on this world. Christ came to earth as a physical, flesh-and-blood human being in order to qualify to replace Satan.

Because of the closeness that Peter felt to Christ, he could not humanly accept the fact that Christ would have to die. Satan seized on Peter’s emotional tendencies and influenced him to rebuke Christ as he did. Christ recognized Satan’s influence. Another example of this is found in John 13:27.

Suggested reading:

Who Is the Devil?

Mark 9:43-48

“And if your hand offend you, cut it off: it is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. And if your foot offend you, cut it off: it is better for you to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. And if your eye offend you, pluck it out: it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.”

These verses appear to support the “ever-burning hell” idea. The word translated hell here is the Greek word gehenna, which references the “Valley of Hinnom.” This was a small valley on the edge of Jerusalem where all the refuse of the city was regularly thrown and burned.

The fires in this valley were kept burning almost constantly. Even bodies of criminals were occasionally thrown there. Jesus likened it to a type of hell-fire. The term “never shall be quenched,” or a similar phrase, is found five separate times in this passage. It means these fires were never really put out, but they could periodically burn out.

Christ meant that anything thrown into this valley would completely burn up before the fire could burn itself out. This condition would best be described as unquenched or “unput” out. For additional references to this valley, see Nehemiah 11:30, II Kings 23:10, and Jeremiah 19:6.

What is the meaning of the phrase “their worms die not”? This could only be maggots that appear in rotting bodies as they naturally decompose. This process helps to fulfill the Ecclesiastes 3:20 reference to “dust to dust.” (During the Millennium, this fire will apparently burn continuously—Isa. 66:24). Some bodies did not burn in gehenna, but rather rotted there. There were often corpses, literally stuck on ledges without completely falling into the valley and, therefore, into the fire. In other words, two possible things could happen to bodies: (1) fall into the fire and burn up, or (2) get stuck on a ledge and be consumed by maggots.

Suggested reading:

The Truth About Hell

Luke 9:60

“Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go you and preach the kingdom of God.”

What does “Let the dead bury their dead” mean?

The context is about those who want to, or temporarily go back to, the old way of life and to the world. It is customary for a parent’s funeral arrangements to be taken care of by the children, but the verse is properly explained this way: (1) Let the spiritually dead take care of the physically dead, or (2) Christ may have meant that this particular man actually wanted to take care of his father for the entire period until he died and was buried, instead of serving God. Christ said that others could perform that duty, but that this man should seek the kingdom of God wholeheartedly (vs. 62).

Therefore, this does not mean that God’s people should never bury their unconverted relatives or plan their funerals, but rather that they should not permit caring for them long term to choke their spiritual growth or cause them to compromise God’s Way.

No suggested reading.

Luke 16:1-12

“And He said also unto His disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And He called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of you? Give an account of your stewardship…If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?”

Often called the Parable of the Unjust Steward, what is this really talking about?

Open your Bible and we will examine this parable verse by verse:

vs. 1—Type of a Christian who is wasting his talents.

vs. 2—As he is called to judgment…

vs. 3—…he realizes time is short, so he has to work double-time to qualify for salvation.

vs. 4—He determines to make some friends.

vs. 5-7—This means that we should always strive to do whatever we can without necessarily telling people why. Also, no one should ever spiritually give up without at least attempting last-minute growth.

vs. 8—No explanation needed

vs. 9—The word translated “of” means “with” or “by means of.” The word translated “mammon of unrighteousness” means “money, riches (see Matt. 6:19, 24) possessions.” The word translated “fail” means “die,”—death is certainly an “everlasting habitation.”

There are several additional keys to understanding this parable:

(1) Read James 4:4. But, Christians can make “friends” in the world (not “of the world”) by using the world’s monetary systems, to be received when necessary into people’s dwellings (houses) because there may be an emergency.

(2) God’s people should diligently tithe and give generous offerings now, so that the unconverted can one day join us in the eternal kingdom of God later.

(3) Christians may one day be received into the chosen country of the place of safety for “favors” that the Church may have done for that country. Finally, the emphasis is on the “you” of verse 9 and not “they” (the world). God merely mentions the world as a standard of comparison for our conduct.

No suggested reading.

Luke 16:19-31

“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried…”

Once again, the reader should open his Bible to this extensive passage. The parable of “Lazarus and the Rich Man” is also best examined verse-by-verse:

vs. 19-21—Lazarus is a type of Abraham’s children who receive eternal life (Gal. 3:29; Rom. 4:16-17).

vs. 22-23—Many think these easy-to-misunderstand verses teach that evil people die and go straight to hell. The key point is that while Lazarus and the rich man died, it does not say when the rich man “lifted up his eyes in hell” (the Greek word Hades here means “the grave” and is not the Greek word gehenna which means “hellfire”). Nor does it say when Lazarus joined Abraham.

vs. 24—Would the rich man only ask for water to cool his tongue if he was in an everburning hell with his feet and legs roasting? Of course not. This is a picture of the third resurrection (Rev. 20:12-13). And as the wall of flames approached, out of enormous fear, the rich man’s tongue dried up. In verses 23-25, mention is made of “torment.” The Greek word translated “tormented” is odunao. It means, “to grieve, sorrow, torment, duress, distress, strain” and describes mental—not physical—anguish and torment. The rich man was literally “scared spitless” in torment (I John 4:18). The word in (vs. 24) is better rendered by means of.

vs. 25—The words “remember” and “now” indicate the passage of much time (Heb. 11:13). Recall that everything stops at death (Psa. 146:4, Ecc. 9:5). Also notice that the angels are involved (vs. 22). This must refer to the time of the First Resurrection at Christ’s Return (Matt. 25:31; I Thes. 4:16).

vs. 26—This “great gulf fixed” is a reference to what sin does (Isa. 59:1-2).

vs. 27-31—The rich man wanted to warn his five brothers by sending Lazarus (the “him” of vs. 27 and the “he” of vs. 28 ) to them. Verse 31 reveals that this was not necessary and would not work, anyway. This means that Lazarus remained dead in the grave after he died, and only later will join Abraham at the resurrection.

This passage is covered in much greater detail in the following booklet, with commentary on every verse.

Suggested reading:

The Truth About Hell

Luke 17:21

“Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Stated earlier, Catholics use this passage to teach that God’s kingdom is established in “men’s hearts,” and is found wherever the Catholic Church is. (It becomes the premise upon which missionaries function—to spread (their) “kingdom” around the world.) Reread the Matthew 4:17 explanation.

The phrase “within you” is more properly translated “in your midst.” (See the Revised Standard Version text and the New KJV margin.) Christ was standing “in the midst” of a number of people—and He represented the kingdom of God! It is important to recognize that He was talking to a group of Pharisees. The Pharisees hardly represented an example of “hearts” in which God was working! Recall that John 3:3-6 teaches that one must be spirit to see the kingdom of God. One cannot merely have God’s Spirit to do this.

Suggested reading:

What Is the Kingdom of God?

Seven Proofs God’s Kingdom Is Not Here Yet

Luke 22:36

“Then said He unto them, But now, he that has a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

Is Christ advocating violence—the use of a “sword” when necessary—in this passage?

It is evident that the subject is that of literal weapons. But Christ was not encouraging His disciples to defend themselves through violence, which would have contradicted His previous instruction in Matthew 5:38-39 against harming others.

Let’s understand.

In Luke 9:56, He had stated, “For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” In Matthew 5:44, He had instructed, “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

In Luke 22:37, Jesus revealed the meaning of His statement: “For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in Me, and He was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning Me have an end [they will be fulfilled].”

Why then did Christ instruct His disciples to get swords? The answer is to assure the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 53:12 (which He had originally inspired as the God of the Old Testament, and now was quoting). Jesus was to be considered a lawbreaker (“transgressor”). He was in no way endorsing the use of weapons for the purpose of harming human beings (whether in self-defense or otherwise). In verse 51 of Luke 22, we see that when Peter drew a sword and struck the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his ear, Christ chastised him for his actions. He then healed the man by re-attaching his ear.

No suggested reading.

Luke 23:42-43

“And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, Today shall you be with Me in paradise.”

Along with the popular idea of a so-called “deathbed repentance,” supposedly represented by the thief’s belief, this account is often cited as proof that “the saved go to heaven.” The passage proves neither—and there are a number of points to examine.

Consider: King David was “a man after God’s own heart” (I Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). Abraham was God’s “friend” (II Chron. 20:7) and the “father of the faithful” (Gal. 3:7-9). Moses was the meekest man who had ever lived (Num. 12:3) and spoke with God personally (Ex. 33:11). If none of these great servants of God had ascended to heaven (John 3:13), how is it possible that a thief, although repentant at the end of his life, could have a guaranteed—and immediate—reward in heaven?

Upon death, did Christ go directly to “paradise,” which is in heaven (II Cor. 12:4)? Did He promise the thief that he would join Him there the same day? Notice the key phrase “when You come into Your kingdom.” This alone shows there is an important time element involved in Christ’s statement.

Before continuing in Luke 23, read I Peter 3:19-20: “By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”

This scripture is often cited to prove that Christ was preaching to demon spirits in an ever-burning hell during the period He was supposedly in heaven, while His body was in the tomb. This reasoning shows the inconsistency of those who do not carefully study the Bible. It also ignores the time element in I Peter. Careful reading reveals that Christ preached to the “spirits in prison” just before the Flood, not when He was in the tomb. The Greek word for “prison” is tartaroo, meaning prison or place of restraint—the earth!

Could Christ have (1) preached to “demons in hell” while also (2) enjoying paradise (heaven?) during the three days and three nights that He was supposed to be in the tomb? Both would be impossible, and actually neither is true. When the full biblical truth is understood, when all relevant passages about death are put together, it is clear that Christ was completely dead, without consciousness of any kind, while in the tomb.

Now notice John 20:17. Christ told Mary Magdalene, four days after Luke 23:43 occurred, that He had still not been to heaven! Could He have so quickly forgotten what He told the thief?

Let’s reread Luke 23:43, but this time let’s read it with the comma after the word “today,” not before. Then realize that “shall you” is more commonly said as “you shall.” Therefore, the Greek is best understood as “Verily I say unto you today, you shall be with Me in paradise.” In verse 42, the thief said, “remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” He would not say “remember me,” unless he understood that much time would pass before Christ could fulfill this promise. Christ used the word “today” as if to say, “Right now, even while we are dying on a stake, I can tell you with certainty that you shall be with Me in paradise.”

Also notice verse 42. The emphasis is that Christ would be coming somewhere—not that the thief would be going somewhere.

Christ could not have literally meant the same day, since He would not be resurrected until three days and three nights after burial (Matt. 12:40). Obviously, at the point Christ said this, He had not yet died. The three days and three nights had not even started. Since God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), and Christ and the Father are of the same mind (John 10:30), He was not telling the thief that he would be with Him “in heaven” that same day.

The meaning of the Luke 23 account is distorted because of a simple error in grammar. The comma, which follows Christ’s lead-in statement, “Verily, I say unto you…” was inserted and misplaced by men. It changed His entire meaning. The original Greek, the language of the New Testament, did not use certain punctuation, such as commas and quotation marks. Translators using their own discretion added them later. The correct rendering is, “Verily, I say unto you today [in other words, “I tell you right now”], shall you be with Me in Paradise.”

The Bible teaches that there are three resurrections (Rev. 20:4-15). Since the thief obviously had not been baptized and given God’s Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), he cannot be among those raised in the First Resurrection (I Thes. 4:16). Since Christ did not condemn him, we know that he will not be raised in the Third Resurrection, which is for those who would not repent. These will all be destroyed (Rev. 20:6, 14-15). The thief will receive his opportunity for salvation in the Second Resurrection, to take place after the millennium (Rev. 20:5, 11-12). At that time, the world will truly be “paradise,” since Satan will have been bound and cast away, no longer permitted to deceive mankind (Rev. 20:1-3; 12:9).

Suggested reading:

Do the Saved Go to Heaven?

Christ’s Resurrection Was Not on Sunday

Does the Bible Teach Predestination?

Luke 24:21

“But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done.”

The context of chapter 24 is the Sunday morning after Christ’s Wednesday crucifixion. People try to use this scripture to prove that a Friday crucifixion/Sunday resurrection fulfills the meaning of “the third day since these things were done.”

Several keys unlock this verse: (1) The Greek term used here means “at least three days,” and (2) this would have been a logical term to use, because “these things” is plural—and any number of events in the last week could have been the starting point for measuring all that had happened before, during and after Christ’s death! See verse 18 for the key to the context. Cleopas and the group with him were saying to Christ, in effect, “Where have you been? It’s been at least three days since all of these things have occurred.” (Remember, Christ was unrecognized by them.) Verses 19-20 clarify what “things” of which Cleopas was generally speaking.

Suggested reading:

Christ’s Resurrection Was Not on Sunday

Christ’s Crucifixion Was Not on Friday

John 2:1-11

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: and both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said unto Him, They have no wine. Jesus said unto her, Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour is not yet come. His mother said unto the servants, whatsoever He said unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus said unto them, fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And He said unto them, draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and said unto him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but you have kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him.”

Certain denominations that do not believe consumption of alcohol in any form or amount is permissible, teach that Jesus actually turned water into grape juice. Does this miracle involve wine or grape juice?

Several points prove this miracle involved wine:

(1) Wine, not grape juice, was commonly consumed at weddings at that time. Nothing is said implying that Jesus was out of step with proper custom.

(2) The Greek word for wine is oinos. It can only mean fermented grape juice.

(3) There would be no need for a “taster” (vs. 9) if this was grape juice. Typically, the “ruler of the feast” was the wine taster.

(4) Verse 10 shows concern over drinking the best wine first to properly appreciate its good taste! Only then—later—would the lesser quality wine normally be consumed. The consumption of grape juice would not raise this issue.

Suggested reading:

Is Drinking a Sin?

John 3:5

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

How is one “born of water and the Spirit”? Some believe this is how God’s kingdom enters men’s hearts.

Without examining any other scripture, this thinking can be disproved with two points just from the context: (1) Verse 6 is speaking of someone who is Spirit. Notice the phrase, “and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit,” and (2) Verse 5 states that Christians enter God’s kingdom. It does not say that the kingdom enters into Christians or their hearts.

Now notice several other verses, which clarify John 3:5:

James 1:18: God begets His children with the word.

I Peter 1:22-23: God’s truth is obeyed through or with the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:26: We are all washed by the water of the word.

When taken together, these verses reveal that Christians are washed by water and the word now—in this life. Also, the word translated born can be translated begotten and, in most other contexts, this would be the correct rendering. Initially, either word would seem to be acceptable as a proper translation in verse 5. However, verse 6 demonstrates that the only correct meaning is born. The end result describes one who is composed of spirit—not just one who has it.

Suggested reading:

What Does “Born Again” Mean?

John 4:15-19

“The woman said unto Him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come here to draw. Jesus said unto her, Go, call your husband, and come here. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, You have well said, I have no husband: for you have had five husbands; and he whom you now have is not your husband: in that said you truly. The woman said unto Him, Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.”

This woman had been married five times. Christ acknowledged it. The question arises: To which husband was she bound? This, once again, introduces the subject of divorce and remarriage.

Some have concluded that Christ was, in effect, saying to the woman at the well, “The man you are with is not your husband, because you are bound to the first of your five husbands.”

This is not what Christ is talking about, because this is not a discussion or dissertation about divorce and remarriage. Understand that He was speaking rhetorically, more correctly saying, “You’ve been with five husbands, and now you’re living with another person (cohabiting outside marriage—what was once commonly referred to as “shacking up”).”

This was Christ’s reference. When one reads the full account, it becomes clear that divorce and remarriage is not the subject under discussion, and that Christ makes no comment about which husband she was bound to—about which of her five marriages was valid.

Suggested reading:

Understanding Divorce and Remarriage

John 8:15-16

“You judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.”

Did Christ contradict Himself in the same verse? How could He judge people when He had just said He judged no man? The answer becomes a lesson for everyone.

The first half of verse 15 speaks of human judgment after outward appearance, and by whatever human ability to judge that any man may possess. In context, Christ is saying that He did not judge anyone “after the flesh.” He went on to explain that, if He did have to judge, He relied on the Father to guide Him (by His Spirit). I Samuel 16:7 states that God judges the heart, not outward appearances and impressions. This is the biggest proof that God’s Spirit of discernment is the key to correctly evaluating, deciding upon or making assessments of people.

This verse certainly does not endorse the condemning of people to the lake of fire. This usurps the role of the Father, and it is this kind of judging that Christ condemns in Matthew 5:22.

Recognize that it is impossible for human beings to avoid making various decisions based on the conduct of others. Employers, coaches, leaders, parents and ministers cannot avoid periodically evaluating, assessing and making decisions about people as they work with them. But Christians cannot take to themselves God’s role and condemn people as worthy of destruction in the lake of fire because of what they may or may not see them do.

No suggested reading.

John 9:1-3

“And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

Was the blind man healed by Christ predestined to be born blind?

The account explains that this man was blind from birth for a special purpose. Notice verse 3: “Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest [obvious] in him.” God carefully planned this event to show the world that Jesus Christ was His Son.

It is evident from this verse that the man’s blindness was unusual, and his condition set the stage for one of the most extraordinary miracles recorded in Scripture. It also heralded a fascinating spiritual lesson inherent within the man’s blindness, symbolizing the current status of this world.

Christ had certain tasks that God wanted Him to fulfill during His time on Earth. Consider this statement: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me” (vs. 4).

Healing this man’s blindness was perhaps one of Christ’s greatest miracles—works. The blind man himself stated this in verse 32: “Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.” The next verses show that no one present disputed this. No human had ever given someone his sight back. But Jesus Christ—with the power of God—was able to do so.

No suggested reading.

John 9:4

“I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work.”

What is the “night when no man can work”? Three explanations apply:

(1) When people die—the final “night” of life—they can no longer perform Christian works. Their allotted time for service, growth and opportunity to overcome has ended.

(2) It refers to the local Jerusalem congregation, which the Roman General Titus would scatter in 69 A.D.

(3) Finally, it refers to the time at the end of the age (the present time), when “daytime” runs out for the true Church of God to any longer continue the Work of preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and warning the modern nations that have descended from ancient Israel. The Work of God is a very large subject, impossible to be covered in this brief explanation. The material below will be most helpful.

Suggested reading:

Which Is the True Gospel?

The Work of God – Its Final Chapter!

John 10:16

“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

Who are the “other sheep” that Christ must bring to His fold? When understood, there are dual meanings, both of them correct:

(1) Christ sent His disciples to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” in Matthew 10:6. These were Israelite sheep that were not part of the tribe of Judah (the Jews) living in Judea, which is generally the land that comprises modern-day Israel.

(2) The Palestinian Jews did not receive Christ when He came to them (John 1:11). This requires additional explanation.

In John 7:35, the Jews referred to these Palestinian Jews as “the dispersed among the Gentiles.” It is important to realize that Gentiles were never called “sheep.” (See Ephesians 2:11-13, where they were called “Uncircumcision” and “aliens.”) The “one fold” is the coming of the New Covenant, which was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Hebrews 8:8, and which would be consummated in the birth of the New Testament Church. Eventually, the whole world will be converted. All Gentiles in God’s true Church today are a type of this soon-coming age!

Suggested reading:

Where Is God’s Church?

John 10:34

“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, You are gods.”

Jesus plainly declares in this scripture to those in His audience, “You are gods.” What does this statement mean, and why was it said after His statement in verse 30, “I and My Father are one”?

Jesus was accused of blasphemy, in verse 33, so He quoted Psalm 82:6. Of course, this scripture had been recorded in what the Jews called “their law” (same verse). This verse is actually a prophecy of all who would one day be born into the God Family. Romans 4:17 reveals that God often speaks of “those things which be not as though they were,” because, when He makes a promise, it is as good as done.

Those who understand the true plan of salvation recognize that eventually all true Christians literally will be “gods”! Critics try to twist the fact that Psalm 82:6 uses the Hebrew word Elohim as the word translated gods. They assert that this word can also be translated judges. This is true—Elohim can be translated either way. However, the Greeks had separate words for judge (kritikos) and god (theos). In effect, Christ interpreted Psalm 82:6 by selecting the Greek word theos, which can only mean gods. His purpose in this account was to emphasize that it was not blasphemy if He and His Father were one—both were God!—since the ultimate destiny offered to every human being is to become a member of the God Family!

Suggested reading:

The Awesome Potential of Man

How World Peace Will Come!

What Does “Born Again” Mean?

John 13:17, 30

“If you know these things, happy are you if you do them…He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.”

These questions arise: Did Judas take the Passover and did Christ wash his feet and eat with him?

Read verse 12. Obviously Christ did wash Judas’ feet and did eat dinner with him (vs. 30—notice the term “received the sop,” or vs. 26, “dipped the sop”). These are references to eating a meal.

This account is important because it demonstrates the tremendous love that Christ has toward everyone, including Judas who would momentarily betray Him that very evening! Jesus was even willing to wash this man’s feet and eat with him right up to the very moment of betrayal.

However, it is very important to note that Judas did not have the proper attitude for taking the Passover symbols of the bread and wine. This point is vital to consider because of its example. God does not want “just anyone” to partake of this most holy service (Matthew 26:21 proves this), to be observed only once each year.

While John’s gospel does not record the actual taking of the bread and wine, Matthew’s does. The same conversation is shown in both gospels. At the end of the conversation in John, it states that Judas left immediately. In Matthew, however, it is evident that the point at which Judas must have left is after verse 24.

No suggested reading.

John 14, 15 and 16

“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you…”

Chapters 14, 15 and 16 of John contain the numerous verses cited most often as “proof” that the Holy Spirit is a person. John 14:17 is quoted above as one example. The word “he” is used in verses 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 and others, in chapter 16. Only a relatively brief explanation can be offered here, with additional literature referenced.

The Greek word used here throughout is the exact same word found in Romans 8:16 (there translated “itself”). It is ekinos, and can be translated either “it” or “he.” The Greeks did not assign the masculine gender to ekinos.

In the Greek language (as with Romance languages like French, Italian and Spanish), nouns have gender. As a grammatical tool, they are designated as masculine, feminine or neuter. For example, el libro, in Spanish, means book and carries the masculine article el. Of course, books are neither male nor female. Therefore, where reference is made to the Holy Spirit, it is incorrectly translated “he,” instead of “it.”

In these three chapters, Christ many times referred to the Spirit as “the Comforter.” The masculine pronoun “he” is used in reference to the word “Comforter” (Greek: parakletos). This is a result of the grammatical structure of the Greek language, in which the New Testament was originally written. Gender was not assigned to the Holy Spirit, merely to the word used to describe it. This will be explained later.

Some other background explanation would also be helpful.

In the rest of the New Testament, the Greek word pneuma, meaning either “breath” or “spirit,” is translated “Spirit.” This word is the equivalent of the Old Testament Hebrew word translated “spirit”—rûah. Grammatically, the word pneuma is neuter. Therefore, it is properly represented by the English pronoun “it.”

Let’s understand further. Christ stated, “I and My Father are One” (John 10:30). What does this mean? To properly understand what Christ meant, we must turn to the Old Testament.

Amos 3:3 asks a rhetorical question: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Christ and the Father are of the same mind. They are unified in both thought and purpose. Notice that, in John 10:30, Christ did not say, “I and My Father and the Holy Spirit are One.” If God is a trinity, why would Christ have excluded the Holy Spirit in His explanation of the Godhead relationship?

This is a huge unanswered question.

In John 14:9, Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Did Christ mean that He and the Father look alike? In shape and form, yes. Identical in appearance, no. By His actions, Christ showed what the Father was like. God and Christ are of the same mind. In Luke 2, He asked, “Know you not that I must be about My Father’s business?” These scriptures show that Christ and the Father both work.

It is again important to note that Christ did not say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father and the Holy Spirit.”

Then notice how John 1:1-3 shows the relationship that God and Christ have: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” Again, where is any mention of the Holy Spirit? Only two beings are referenced.

The Greek word Logos, translated “Word” in John 1, also means “spokesman.” Psalm 33 shows the role that Christ had in the creation of the world: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” (vs. 6).

A related question arises, however, and it can be addressed and also be helpful in the context of what has already been explained.

In Matthew 19:17, Christ asked a young man who had questioned Him about salvation, “Why call you Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God.” If Christ knew that He was also God (Luke 2:49), what then did He mean by this?

Two things become apparent:

(1) He was giving deference to the Father (see John 14:28). Christ had completely emptied Himself of the power of the Godhead, taking on the form of physical flesh as a servant (Phil. 2:7). Christ was made of flesh, and there is nothing about flesh that is good. See Romans 7:18-24, among numerous other verses.

(2) In anticipation of the reaction in the young man—that he would reject Christ’s answer (vs. 22)—Christ was showing the paradox of the young man’s question. Consider. He called Christ, “Good Master,” and professed to want to do whatever Christ said, but his actions showed that he did not believe that he was talking to God—one who was “good.” Christ recognized that the young man had the same “worshipful” attitude held by so many who rejected Him. (See Luke 6:46; 20:17; Matt. 7:21; 21:42; 13:57; Mark 12:10; Acts 4:11.) Therefore, He was pointing the young man to what the Father requires.

Again, the following extensive book is vital for those who truly want to understand all of the many elements that comprise the false doctrine that God is three-in-one. The serious reader will want to carefully study this book.

Suggested reading:

The Trinity – Is God Three-In-One?

John 19:19

“And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

What were the exact words that were written on the stake on which Christ was crucified? Each of the four gospels records a slightly different rendering, and this has created some confusion, and also caused some to actually doubt the validity of the Bible.

Why are the accounts different?

As in other gospel accounts, each gospel gives certain different emphasis. Read Luke 23:38, Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:26, and John 19:19. Each account represents a portion of a bigger picture. When placed together, they say, “THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

No suggested reading.

John 19:30

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.”

Why does this account state that Christ died at this point, and then, in verse 34, appear to say that He was speared after He was already dead? When truly understood, this explanation represents a subtle satanic plot designed to picture Christ’s death with a very wrong emphasis. The problem springs from the presence of two key translational errors.

The first is in verse 34. This passage reflects the wrong tense. It should reflect the Greek aorist tense (past tense), which would require had pierced instead of pierced and had come (the Greek is canae). This is proven by Matthew 27:49. This scripture has an entire phrase left out that would make it properly conclude: “…and another took a spear and pierced His side and there came out water and blood.” This is why Jesus died in the next verse (vs. 50)!

What is the greater problem referenced earlier?

Many preachers and religionists teach that Jesus Christ actually died of a broken heart, and the above wrong translation appears to substantiate this idea. In fact, Christ died because He bled to death!—and He was prophesied to die in this fashion! (See Exodus 12:6-7, Hebrews 9:22, Isaiah 53:7-8 and 12, Leviticus 17:11, Deuteronomy 14:21, Genesis 9:6, Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:14.) When placed together, these verses demonstrate that Christ had to shed His blood for humanity.

Hebrews 9:22 shows that blood must be shed for sins to be forgiven. Ambassador College once had a copy of an original Greek manuscript from A.D. 300, which contains this phrase. Unfortunately, the phrase had become a marginal reference by the time the King James Version was produced in A.D. 1611. The Moffatt translation still contains it, but only in parentheses.

The entire reason that Christ died was part of a Master Plan by God. His suffering—and consequent death by blood loss—did not happen by accident, but rather was entirely by design. In addition to denying the truth of Scripture and the need for blood to be shed to forgive sins, the attempt to picture Christ with a broken heart (1) weakens Christ into One who was shocked by that which He was not really prepared to witness and (2) is a classic example of how the maudlin, sentimental Protestant view of Christ often rules their teaching.

Suggested reading:

Just What Is Salvation?

John 20:23

“Whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins you retain, they are retained.”

Does this passage prove that the Catholic practice of confession to a priest is necessary for sins to be forgiven or not? Since remit means to “forgive,” does this verse support this idea?

This scripture actually refers to any sin or sins that a faithful minister can recognize have not been repented of. (See the John 8:15-16 explanation.) Of course, in cases where a minister has come to such a recognition, a sin unrepented of would have been left unforgiven by God—and thus “retained” to the person. For illustration, see Romans 16:17 about the need to occasionally “mark” one who is sowing division or teaching heresy, and then ask how any minister can possibly know to do this unless that minister recognizes he is dealing with someone who either will not or has not repent(ed). Discernment is vital.

It is simply not possible, and actually ridiculous, to draw the doctrine of regular, required confession from this verse.

No suggested reading.

Acts 1:5

“For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

Pentecostals use this scripture to teach that one’s ultimate baptism is with God’s Spirit, not with water. But first notice that the passage does say, “John truly baptized with water…”

Some points to consider: (1) Acts 19:1-7 reveals that the key to John’s baptism was not just that it was by immersion, but also by whose name in which it was done, and (2) there had been no laying on of hands of those in the Acts account, so that these could receive the Holy Spirit (also see Heb. 6:2; Acts 8:14-20).

In his first sermon, on the Pentecost that began the New Testament Church in A.D. 31, Peter stated, “be baptized” (Acts 2:38). The Greek baptiso can only be translated immersed. If someone reasons that Christians are only “immersed” in spirit, then why did Peter say “be baptized [immersed]…and [then] you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”? The inference is that two separate events occur at conversion—repentance and baptism. The theology of most professing Christians plays down the spiritual burial that Christians must undergo. Realize that Satan does not want anyone’s sin buried—as Acts 2:38 shows is necessary for true forgiveness!

Suggested reading:

What Do You Mean “Water Baptism”?

Acts 1:20

“For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.”

What do the phrases in this scripture mean, and why are they quoted from Old Testament passages with different contexts? Read Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8. They show that Judas was to be replaced, but also that his home and everything familiar to his “habitation” would never be the same—would be “desolate” of his presence.

The fact that this is an Old Testament quote, made singular here, instead of its original plural form in Psalm 69:25, demonstrates that God can use any quote or phrase to prove or illustrate whatever His point may be. This is exactly why this phrase was used, and it demonstrates that there is not always a single, closed meaning to every Bible passage! These two Old Testament scriptures were speaking of the wicked in general in both cases.

No suggested reading.

Acts 2:1-5

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”

Is this biblical precedent for Pentecostal “tarry meetings.”

This passage is usually taken together with John 21:22-23, where people pray, wail, cry, shout, chant and often fall on the floor foaming at the mouth when “it comes”—supposedly the Holy Spirit?

Understand these points: (1) This is the first day of Pentecost ever kept by the New Testament Church, and (2) it was the time when God first sent His Holy Spirit to His Church. This is why those present spoke in tongues, and this is why there was the presence of mighty wind and fire! God used these powerful forces to signal a great event—the New Testament time of receiving His Holy Spirit had come (Joel 2:28-29). However, remember other verses explain that only by the laying on of hands (Acts 2:37-38; 19:1-6; Heb. 6:2) can Christians receive the Spirit of God.

Understand that the subject of “tongues” is large, and requires our full booklet to be properly addressed.

Suggested reading:

Understanding Tongues

Acts 2:31

“He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”

The question here is this: How could Christ have died and putrefaction (“corruption”) of His body not have begun?

First, the Greek word translated “hell” is hades, which simply means the grave. A body can go several days or longer without corruption (beginning of decomposition), if all of the blood has been removed. Certainly Christ did shed all of His blood, making this more possible. However, due to the extreme temperature in Jerusalem, God would have had to supernaturally preserve Christ’s body from this natural process.

No suggested reading.

Acts 2:44-45

“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”

These two verses are referenced in the explanation of Acts 5:1-11, regarding supposed communism or socialism within the early Church of God—with brethren having “all things common.” The meaning in Acts 2 is not difficult to understand if one reads Acts 5:1-11 first. That account shows the decision to do this was made by choice, and was always as “men had need.” Therefore, the purpose was guided by how to best keep the Church in a position to help people in need in a time of general difficulty. Gathering possessions into a common location for distribution to the needy was not done to practice socialism, but rather because circumstances of extreme persecution at the time made this practical.

No suggested reading.

Acts 5:1, 3

“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife…But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?”

Some use Acts 5 as another “proof” that the Holy Spirit is a person. This is because they do not carefully examine what is called “the Ananias and Sapphira account.”

In Acts 5:3-4, the apostle Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own power? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied unto men, but unto God.”

Does this passage, in fact, prove that the Holy Spirit is a person or separate being within the Godhead? In other words, how could Peter state that Ananias and Sapphira were lying to it, if the Holy Spirit is merely the inanimate power or agent of God?

This is actually not very difficult to understand. It was the Holy Spirit that gave Peter the ability to discern (Heb. 5:14) Ananias and Sapphira’s lies. Notice I Corinthians 2:11: “what man knows the things of a man, except by the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, except by the Spirit of God.” Human beings learn by what this passage calls the “spirit of man,” and this spirit is given to all people. Obviously, this does not mean that there is another person in each human person. Similarly, having the Holy Spirit in one does not mean there is another person in the person.

So, while there are things that human beings can learn and understand without having God’s Holy Spirit, certain things can only be understood with His Spirit. Discerning spiritual things comes through God’s Holy Spirit in the mind.

Christ demonstrated this ability of discernment in John 13:27: “And after the sop Satan entered into him [Judas]. Then said Jesus unto him, That you do, do quickly.” Christ was able to recognize when the devil had entered Judas. Also notice Mark 8:33: “But when He [Christ] had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Get you behind Me, Satan: for you savor not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” The Holy Spirit present in Christ’s mind made this discernment possible.

To understand how Peter could “see through” Ananias and Sapphira, consider the following analogy:

An attorney is discussing an extremely technical legal matter with a potential client. The implications are such that only a lawyer with the utmost legal understanding could properly handle the case. Also, only with complete and total knowledge of every aspect and detail of the situation can the lawyer hope to proceed. But the client, having dishonest ulterior motives, intentionally omits some minor details. Those details are so minute that they could potentially escape the attention of an attorney not deeply, intricately versed in the law. But the attorney sees the deception for what it is. How does he see through it? Because of the knowledge of the law that he possesses. Without that knowledge, he would not recognize the lie for what it is. His knowledge of the law leads him to understand the man’s ulterior motives.

However, if one lies to a farmer about a matter dealing with aerospace engineering, the farmer probably will not recognize the lie. Likewise, if one lies to a rocket scientist about a matter concerning agriculture, the scientist will most likely not recognize it. Why? Because neither is versed in the particular subject being addressed. The lie goes “right over his head.”

It is the same with spiritual understanding: “Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge” (I Cor. 8:7).

Realize that Romans 8:14 defines Christians: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” They must allow the “Spirit of truth” (the same as the Spirit of God) to guide them (John 16:13).

In Acts 5, Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit working in his mind, was able to discern three things about Ananias and Sapphira:

(1) They had conspired together on their way to see him.

(2) Their sin and their motive.

(3) The punishment they would receive.

After Pentecost in A.D. 31, God communicated to His servants through His Spirit (John 16:13). The above shows why Peter could say they were lying to the Holy Spirit.

Peter could say they were also lying to God because:

(1) Peter was the leading apostle in the Church of God. Christ had told him and the other disciples, “Whatsoever you shall bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18).

(2) Christ had also told His disciples, “And whatsoever you shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14). Christ had given His disciples power to act on His behalf. God had to guide them in these matters, and the Holy Spirit is the way through which He does this.

(3) Conversely, He showed that anything done to or for Christians was considered to be done to or for Him. Notice: “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me” (Matt. 25:40).

Also notice the following Old Testament accounts:

(4) “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness…And in the morning, then you shall see the glory of the Lord; for that He hears your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that you murmur against us?…for that the Lord hears your murmurings which you murmur against Him: and what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord” (Ex. 16:2, 7-8).

(5) “And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (I Sam. 8:7).

All these passages illustrate why Peter could say that Ananias and Sapphira were lying to both God and the Holy Spirit. It was not because the Holy Spirit is a separate person in the Godhead. They were lying to one of God’s apostles, in whom He was working—through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Also, consider Peter’s statement, “You have not lied unto men.” Advocates of the trinity teaching ignore the fact that the husband and wife had lied directly to Peter (a man). Peter was a flesh-and-blood human being. Was he somehow elevating himself to the status of either God or the Holy Spirit? (See Acts 10:25-26; also 14:7-18.)

Why do trinitarians not consider this part of Peter’s statement? Their argument has no strength, because it is inconsistent and does not examine every aspect of the account. As is always the case, religionists have taken a single scripture out of context and either ignored or twisted other scriptures, building a doctrinal “house of cards.” The wise are always able to see through it and knock it down.

Suggested reading:

Bible Introduction Course Lesson 16 – WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?

The Trinity – Is God Three-In-One?

Acts 5:1-11

“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet…While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own power? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things…And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? And she said, yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?…Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost…”

What was Ananias’ and Sapphira’s sin? Did they simply wish to keep money that was already theirs? Acts 2:44 has shown that, during this period, all people in the Church had “everything in common,” meaning for common use. From Acts 5:1-11 we can conclude it meant money and possessions. This couple conspired (vs. 2) to “keep part of the price” of their land, when others gave everything they had (Acts 4:36-37), apparently by prior agreement, and this is the hidden key, not readily visible.

Their sin was lying, not stealing, as verse 4 makes clear. This couple tried to deceive Peter into believing that they were giving the entire sum they had been paid. Their sin was certainly not an unwillingness to become socialists. In fact, they obviously wanted to be thought of as more generous than they actually were. In other words, they had a problem with pride—vanity. And the matter was serious. The apostles had, no doubt, been acting on the knowledge that certain funds were coming. The impact of this deception on the Church must have been great.

Verse 4 shows they neither (1) had to sell the land at all, nor (2) had to give the entire value once they did. Lying occurred by saying that they were giving it all when they were not! That Ananias and Sapphira died is a powerful statement about how God views lying.

No suggested reading.

Acts 10:13

“And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.”

Does this account reveal that all animal flesh has been cleansed and may be eaten?

Many have used this verse to prove that the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are no longer in effect.

Here is the question: Did God command Peter to eat any kind of meat that he wished? The answer will become an obvious, No! God was merely illustrating Peter’s attitude toward people, as we shall see. On a great sheet lowered from heaven were all types of unclean and common (ceremonially defiled) meats that Peter had never eaten and knew he should not eat. Also, Peter never ate any of them in the account (even symbolically, since what occurred was a vision). Critics presume to know what the vision meant before Peter did.

In verse 17, Peter was still in doubt—and he was the only one who saw the vision! In verse 19, his mind was still open as three men came with the message about Cornelius, an Italian gentile. The biggest point that God wanted to make is explained by Peter in verse 28: “God has shown me that I should not call any MAN [not meat] common or unclean.” Verse 34-35 continues, “God is no respecter of PERSONS [not meats]: but in every nation he [a person] that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him.”

This vision was a means of showing Peter his inconsistency—his hypocrisy—toward non-Jews, and revealing to him that God viewed everyone equally and offered His Spirit to all men.

Suggested reading:

Are All Animals Good Food?

Acts 13:2-4

“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy [Spirit] said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy [Spirit], departed unto Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”

This scripture presents another perfect example of how so many religionists ignore context, sometimes vital context, focusing on a single aspect of a passage to make it say something it clearly does not. This one is supposedly proof of the personhood of the Holy Spirit, with it having “said” something.

Notice the seven elements of this scripture:

(1) “As they ministered to the Lord”: These men were seeking God’s will in a matter—specifically, the ordination of two men. James 4:8 states, “Draw near to God [not His Holy Spirit], and He will draw near to you.”

(2) “when they had fasted”: Fasting is one of the tools of Christian growth. It helps Christians acknowledge to God that they are nothing, of and by themselves, while allowing them to draw closer to Him. Fasting also binds Satan, blocking his influence. If you are drawing near to God, then you are also resisting Satan. And, as James 4:7 states, if you “Resist the devil…he will flee from you.” By fasting, these men demonstrated to God that they wanted His complete and total involvement in what they were doing.

Also, a fast involves going without food and drink for a period of at least 24 hours. Read Jeremiah 36:6; Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:35. So the period of time covered between Acts 13:2 and verse 3 is at least 24 hours. (You may read our helpful article “What You Need to Know About Fasting” to learn more about how to fast.)

(3) “…the Holy Spirit said”: To properly understand this part of the scripture, review the Acts 5:3-4 explanation. If they had heard a literal voice from God, why would they have felt the need to continue in fasting and prayer? The men would have had their answer! None would suggest that God was speaking the same message to them non-stop for 24 hours. (Notice II Samuel 12:16-23; Daniel 10:3-13; Matthew 9:14-15.) They were being guided by the Holy Spirit within them, and they needed to be crystal clear about the intent of the message it was bringing. The sound of an audible voice eliminates any such need. Again, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

(4) “Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them”: It is God the Father who does the calling (John 6:44, 65). The Holy Spirit is the means by which He does this. It is Christ who determines who will be used in the ministry—and in what capacity (I Cor. 12:28). Also, if this were a literal audible voice from a God Being, spoken for all to hear, it would have been accompanied by obvious displays of natural forces. (Notice John 5:37 and also Acts 9:3-7.)

(5) “…and prayed”: Prayer is another tool of Christian growth, used to make our needs known to God. It is also the way we ask God to make His will known to us. (See Matthew 6:10; 26:39, 42.) Again, if they had already received an audible answer, why would they have continued in prayer?

(6) “…and laid their hands on them”: The laying on of hands is a symbolic act when God is called upon, in faith, to bless and sanctify or to impart authority and power. The power of the Holy Spirit is involved in four different and individual purposes—blessings, baptism, healing and ordination—when this ceremony occurs. We can look at some examples of each.

Genesis 48:13-20 records that Ephraim and Manasseh received a unique and very special blessing when Israel (Jacob) laid hands upon them. The blessing of little children is also performed by the laying on of hands, as instructed by Christ (Mark 10:15-16; Matt. 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17).

In the baptism ceremony, the repentant person receives the gift of the Holy Spirit by having hands laid on him. This is first recorded in Acts 8:17-18: “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit…through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given.” Also see Acts 19:5-6 and II Timothy 1:6.

God’s healing is also the result of an elder’s prayer with faith, accompanied by the laying on of hands on the head of the afflicted person. We find this example in Acts 9:17: “…and Ananias [not the Ananias of Acts 5]…entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus…has sent me, that you might receive your sight.”

Ordination into an office within God’s Church is also done through the laying on of hands. The first example is found in Acts 6:6-8, involving the ordination of deacons: “…and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them…And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” God’s Church today faithfully observes this practice in all ordinations. Hebrews 6:2 specifically lists it as one of God’s doctrines.

(7) “…they sent them away”: These men were acting on God’s behalf, ordaining men into higher offices in the ministry. This part of the verse reveals two things: (a) In addition to prayer and fasting, they had also counseled together in order to reach a wise decision (notice Proverbs 11:14; 15:22); (b) the Holy Spirit did not, of itself, send these men out. Again, notice that the verse states, “…they [Niger, Lucius, Manaen] sent them away.”

Let’s summarize the points: God, through the power of His Spirit, acting in response to those who were asking for His guidance, inspired the men involved to understand that He wanted Barnabas and Saul ordained.

Suggested reading:

The Trinity – Is God Three-In-One?

Bible Introduction Course Lesson 16 – WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?

Acts 13:17-20

“The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with a high arm brought He them out of it. And about the time of forty years suffered He their manners in the wilderness. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He divided their land to them by lot. And after that He gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.”

This passage presents a mathematical problem. First, take a moment to read I Kings 6:1. How does the 480 years referenced there square with the “about 450 years” in Acts 13:17-20? Which period only goes “until Samuel”?

The word “until” (vs. 20) should properly be translated “including.” This time marks the period to the end of Samuel’s service. Now examine the math:

480 years (I Kgs. 6:1)

- 40 years (Acts 13:18)

440 years, which is “about…450 years” (vs. 20)

No suggested reading.

Romans 1:17

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

What does “from faith to faith” mean? How can one go from “having faith” to “having faith”?

Verse 16 explains that God’s overall Plan involves calling the Jew first, and then Gentiles. The Jews first demonstrated faith (end of vs. 16). Then, Acts 10:2 records the first Gentile who was converted, thus developing faith (end of Rom. 1:17).

Also, in a second application, there is another kind of human faith that all people have at certain times in their lives—but this faith must eventually be replaced by the permanent faith that only comes by the Spirit of God in converted minds (Gal. 5:21-22; 2:16).

Remember that Christ healed many people and praised their faith as He did. Consider that none of these people had the Holy Spirit. But they did have human faith! Finally, it does take human faith to even believe that we will be forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice, that God has called us, and that we will receive His Spirit, because all of this belief is expressed prior to baptism. After conversion, we live by the faith of Christ in us.

Suggested reading:

What Is Real Faith?

Romans 2:16

“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”

What are the “secrets of men” spoken of by Paul? Before proceeding, read verses 11 to 16 for context. Notice a parenthesis beginning at verse 13 and ending at verse 15. Now, exclude verses 13-15 and read verses 11-12 and 16, in that order, to begin to understand at least the continuation of the context. Then read verses 13-15! Let’s examine each verse:

vs. 11—God judges all people by the same standard.

vs. 12—Those who do and those who do not know the law have sinned!

vs. 16—Shows when this judgment will occur and what God will judge—the secrets in men’s minds. Secrets are obviously what no other man knows, and remain hidden until someone makes them known, and in this case God does!

vs. 13—The crux of the problem was that some thought that by merely knowing the law, they would be saved and were better than others who were ignorant of the law.

vs. 14—Some Gentiles were keeping some of the commandments better by “accident” than certain Jews who had known the law their entire lives. The conduct of some Gentiles made them a law in their own right.

vs. 15—These verses address the conscience. What Christians do with their consciences demonstrates, in a certain way, whether or not they will obey God’s law in all points. Will they do what they are taught to think is right—apart from what they may know about God’s law? In effect, their conscience either “excuses” or “accuses” them in everything that they say, do or think throughout their lives.

vs. 16—These are the “secrets,” hidden in all men’s consciences, tha