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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 Authority…Can 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!
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!
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
(2) Psalms 110:4
(3) Acts 2:24—Jesus Christ is alive today.
This subject is addressed more fully in the Hebrews 6:20-7:17 explanation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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!
The answer: Since Christ, the former Logos (the Spokesman or Word—John 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
(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?
(10) II Timothy 4:10-11 mentions that Paul wrote from Rome and records that “only Luke was with him.” This eliminates Peter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
• See the articles mentioned after Exodus 34:28 explanation.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 dem