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Gospel Questions VI: the Long Ending of Mark et al.

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Question #1:  

Could you shed some insight on the following verse:

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 16:16 (NIV)

Response #1: 

The gospel of Mark ends at verse 8 of chapter 16. There are a number of "longer endings" of Mark which were composed by unknown persons and added illegitimately during the middle ages. These are not part of scripture and not worthy of any serious consideration. The reason we even have them published in any of the versions is because of the KJV, a good translation which however was based on a composite text with a number of problems. Many good manuscripts have come to light since the 16th century and we are now in a position to identify and discard the few interpolations of false information into the true scripture (of which this is perhaps the most famous; please see the link: "Interpolations into the Bible").

Question #2:  

Hello--I was wondering if you could give me some info on the last few verses in Mark? I know they are a later addition, but do you know when they were added, and by whom? Also, are they considered scripture? It almost seems as if the author didn't like the abrupt ending of Mark and added something. And is the real ending of Mark "lost"? Or is the ending before these verses--"they said nothing to anybody"--considered the real ending?

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks.

Response #2: 

You are right on the money as usual. Here is what I have written about this:

Mark' endings in chapter 16: Mark 16 ends with verse 8, "for they (i.e., the women) were afraid"; no doubt the abruptness of the ending and the availability of many of the details from the other gospels were an invitation to later scribes to "fill in the blank", and many did. There a number of "longer endings", all of which are erroneous.

It is a standard characteristic of forgeries that they are anonymous. Many of the Byzantine manuscripts contain the "longer version" – actually, there are four major variations including the "traditional" longer ending found in the KJV et al. So the process of adding to Mark is an ancient one, dating back to at least the fifth century A.D. However, the variety of alternative endings itself is a demonstration of the fact that the short, seemingly abrupt ending of Mark is the correct one (and there are many internal proofs in these additions of non-Marcan language along with the ms. evidence which put this question beyond debate). This is less of a "problem" for those who, like myself, see Mark as the third gospel to be written, well after Matthew, Luke and even Acts had been widely circulated (i.e., everyone will have known very well "what happened next", so the ending in that context is not problematic at all). The process of erroneously adding to ancient ms. never ends; the fourth version of extending Mark adds even to the earlier "traditional version" (it is preserved in codex "W" and in Jerome, and has the apostles discoursing with Christ).

Sorry not to be able to identify the culprit(s) precisely!

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #3:   

Thanks and don't worry about not being able to identify the culprit; you gave me some great info.

One thing--I thought Mark was supposed to be the oldest of the Gospels and that Matthew got some of the details from Mark. So, I have never heard that there were a variety of endings for Mark; that alone would preclude coming from the original authographs, I would think. So, 9-20 can't be considered scripture and those snake handlers in the one sect have no business doing so, eh?

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, or hope you had one, if you get this after Thanksgiving.

Response #3: 

You make a very good point!

In my view, Mark wrote under Peter's apostolic authority, and, given the nature of the language he uses and his particular emphases, seems to have written the book at Rome to a mixed gentile/Jewish audience.

Yes, all of the alternative endings are non-biblical and have no authority. Here is a translation of the last, expanded version which also dates to the 4/5 cent. and occurs in Jerome and in at least one major manuscripts (trans. from Metzger's Commentary on the Greek NT) – it should give you an idea of what happens when people "ad lib" scripture as in the longer ending of Mark found in the KJV et al.:

"And they excused themselves, saying, ‘This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits [or, does not allow what lies under the unclean spirits to understand the truth and power of God]. Therefore reveal your righteousness now’ — thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ replied to them, ‘The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was handed over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more, in order that they may inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness that is in heaven.’"

Non-scripture is very clearly revealed to be not scripture just by the reading of it, to anyone who listens to the Spirit, that is (and such is the case with all of the erroneous endings of Mark).

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #4:   

Oh, Hi! I didn't expect you to write back! Wow, that "ending" is...a bit wild, if you ask me and sounds nothing like the rest of Mark! So, what made some translators take the one ending we are most familiar with, about snakes and drinking any poisonous thing, whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe, will be condemned, etc., as the best ending for Mark? Isn't it the most common one?

Response #4: 

Yes it is. I suppose it just goes to show that once tinkering with scripture begins, there is no end to it – at least until the printing press comes in and certain errors become "canonized" via the "inerrant" KJV!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5:  

Dr. Luginbill,

As usual, it's taken me a while to reply. I appreciate your detailed responses. Things have not gotten better for me as far as others being open to hearing the truth.

I came across this article in my searches for something else. It is extremely long (106 pages).

http://www.textexcavation.com/snapp/PDF/snappmark.pdf

I know that you had noted that Mark 16:9-20 is not inspired, and this person seems to indicate that this conclusion is based on false assumptions. My problem when I read these things is that I don't know what is reputable information and what is not. If sometime you get a chance and desire to read through it, I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Response #5: 

Good to hear from you as always. I am sorry to hear that things have not yet improved. I keep you in my prayers day by day.

As to this link, let me draw a rough analogy. Judges often allow the defense in murder trials great latitude in putting on their case. A jury may have to sit through and listen to weeks, even months, of testimony, analysis of documents, witnesses and voluminous argument before having the case remanded to them for consideration. But if after all that the key to the whole thing was that two witnesses of sterling reputation saw the accused commit the crime, a multiple-month trial is likely to be decided in a few minutes. All of the obfuscation of the defense will not be sufficient to overturn the common-sense of twelve jurors who understand the value of unimpeachable testimony.

When it comes to textual criticism, the case is similar, but the problem is that most Christians do not understand enough about the issues involved to be able to sort out unimpeachable testimony from pure obfuscation – why should they and how could they? That makes pamphlets like the one in the link shared all the more despicable.

Let me dispatch this monumental waste of time as economically as possible. Setting aside the voluminous and mostly specious argumentation of the rest of the tract, the case turns upon the witness of the two oldest and best manuscripts, Sinaiticus and Vatincanus (aka Aleph and B respectively). These two manuscripts go back to within a few hundred years of the penning of the original autographs, and are rarely "wrong" individually and almost never so when they agree. That is to say, they are very early, highly reputable witnesses whose testimony would have to be seriously impeached on this score in order for anyone even to consider the other tangential argumentation the pamphlet proffers. For that reason, author devotes an entire chapter to them.

Author's argument for the fact that the longer ending of Mark is missing in these mss. is essentially that multiple pages were deliberately taken out of the mss. and replaced with other pages which do not contain the longer ending. Overlooking the fact that there is no indication that this ever happened with any other ancient manuscript, the problems with this "solution" are enormous and multiple. In Sinaiticus, for example, the text of Luke actually begins on the same page where Mark ends – with the ending in verse 8 (i.e., Quire 77, Folio 5). Since ancient Greek is written without spaces between words in order to conserve space, matching up a new four pages in the middle of a document this long and complex would thus inevitably have left a tell-tale gap at the end of the insertion (there is no gap). Also, the "hand" of the text would have to be different (it is the same hand of the same scribe throughout this section). Also, there would have to be some reasonable motive for someone doing this (I cannot think of a reasonable one, though I have not read the entire work linked). Also, the precise same thing would have had to have happened also in the case of Vaticanus – in a different century and on a different continent it would seem (and the odds of all that happening are astronomically long if even possible at all).

To go back to our analogy, this would be like the defense asserting without any evidence at all that the two witnesses were not really present at the time and were only trying to "railroad" the accused. If one believes such unsubstantiated assertions, then perhaps the rest of the evidence would have to be weighed in place of the eye-witnesses. But if not (and in this case as demonstrated above it is a resounding "not"), then the rest is an exercise in futility. Of course the jury will want to be ready to explain other points if asked by the judge to do so (you, in this case – and I am happy to address any of the specific ancillary arguments). But convinced of the solidity of what they find to be of most importance – two individuals who actually saw the event and testified to it clearly and honestly – all the hearsay of others who came by later (the later mss. witnesses) need not be taken seriously.

The gospel of Mark ends with chapter 16 verse 8. Period.

If water-baptism is not John's baptism, why were Peter and the other early believers not re-baptized "in the Name of Jesus"?

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

It forms a part of the teaching within the RC church that Mary is sinless, for which I believe there is no scriptural evidence. Overall preoccupation with Mary is excessive in Catholicism and I just wanted to ask about a correct attitude towards her. What does the Bible (really) say about her life/sins?

Response #6: 

Mary was a marvelous believer – and a normal human being as we all are. After Jesus, she had other children ("Jesus Siblings"), was "highly favored" but not "full of grace" in any transcendent sense (see the links), and was most certainly not "the mother of God" (see the link). She is certainly due our admiration and our respect as our Lord's mother – but most definitely not our worship.

Question #7:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I was wondering if it's ok to consider oneself highly favored among people. I see it being used in the Bible for Mary.

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke 1:28 KJV)

I know that Mary is among the saints of God as with all believers, but makes mention that she is highly favored as if implying a different status from the rest of the saints. I'm wondering because a lady at work says she's "highly favored" among people because she's a Christian. I personally do not consider myself highly favored because it seems like a form of spiritual pride. I merely consider myself a sinner saved by Grace and chosen by God. And that God is no respecter of persons. Would it be wrong to make such a claim?

God Bless,

Response #7: 

As usual, I agree with your assessment. I have written about the particular passage in question at the following link: "Mary full of grace?".

This appellation indicates a high spiritual status on Mary's part, but that status was achieved in the same way any of us are able to achieve a similar status, namely, by exercising our faith in God. As we grow spiritually, we draw closer to Jesus, and we become more pleasing to Him as we learn His the truth of His Word and as we begin to shape our lives, make our decisions, pass our tests, and help others do the same through that faith in the truth. Daniel is similarly called "highly esteemed" (Dan.9:23; 10:11; 10:19). But as in the case of these two exceptional believers and other exceptional believers in the Bible who may not have had a similar angelic pronouncement recorded in scripture (but who were clearly enough highly "esteemed" and "favored" nonetheless), it is not for us to arrogate this status to ourselves.

It is of the smallest moment to me to be evaluated by you or by any human authority. In fact, I do not even evaluate myself! The Lord is the One who judges me. Therefore, do not make judgments before the time, until the Lord shall come, who will illuminate the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the intents of every heart, and then the praise of each shall come to him from God.
1st Corinthians 4:3-5

The "day" will reveal all these things. Until then, every Christian ought to make it their business to "redeem their time" (Eph.5:16; Col.4:5), by making every day count for Jesus Christ through spiritual growth, progress, and ministering to the Body – just as Jesus, the only One whose evaluation really counts, wants us to do.

In our dear Lord and the hope of His coming return,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Dr. Luginbill:

I noticed on the chart of the "seven Days" of human history that you list the dates for the life of Christ as 2 B.C. to 33 A.D. I also subscribe to that theory that Jesus was born sometime in Fall of 2 or 1 B.C but most people would say that we are a little off "politely" because they insist that Herod died in 4 B.C. so based on the Magi etc. Christ would have to have been born in 5-7 B.C. I am contemplating a book myself that outlines the seventy weeks, Christ’s birth and crucifixion etc. so I am curious as to what you base your dates on because I cannot find anyone that agrees with me. Thanks.

Response #8: 

Good to make your acquaintance. Josephus is the (questionable) source behind the quibbles to which you allude. The link where all this is discussed (and please don't overlook the footnotes) is as follows: "The Life of Christ" (in SR 5)

Please feel free to write back about any of this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #9:  

Thank you for your response. I have read Josephus and he would seem to indicate a date of around 2-1 B.C. based on his timeframe from Antiochus Epiphanes to the death of Herod, however the lunar eclipse mentioned by Josephus is rather interesting as well. If you use the Jewish calendar then the birth of Jesus in approximately 3760 of the Jewish calendar makes the seventy weeks of Daniel, the 15th year of Tiberius and the crucifixion in 33 A.D. or 3793 of the Jewish calendar fit quite nicely.

Hate to bother you but I feel that I point out that I do not believe that Christ was born in December. It would have been the rainy season in Israel at that time and it would have been highly unlikely that shepherds would have been out in the fields at this time. Christmas in December is a church established celebration of Christ’s birth to offset the pagan holiday of 21 Dec which celebrates the birth of the son god. My belief is that Christ was likely born sometime in September of our calendar 29 A.D. or the Jewish year 3789. Following your reasoning in SR5 this would make Jesus very, very close to 30 years old when he was baptized. Moreover the 3 ½ years of his ministry takes us to April 33 A.D the exact time of the crucifixion. I am very anxious to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

Response #9: 

When you say, "My belief is that Christ was likely born sometime in September of our calendar 29 A.D.", do you mean to say "baptized"? If so, that it precisely what I have posited (see the link: Comparative chart of the ministries of John and Jesus).

As to December, I have heard this reasoning before, but what we don't know about ancient Jewish agriculture techniques is a lot. Also, this sort of thing is situational too. I.e., sometimes it snows here in December, and sometimes it doesn't, and that effects whether or not I shovel the walk. We react to the specific weather we experience not to the general weather pattern. I don't put any particular stock into the traditional view. I would like to point out, however, that while the particular date in December fastened on for "Christmas" may exhibit the sort of influence you suggest, that does not explain away December as a whole (and so should not be used to invalidate the whole month of December as a possibility prima facie). More to the point is the whole issue of the census. Taking a pregnant wife on a long and difficult journey was something no one would do without some sort of necessity. The December of our Lord's birth was last month of the first year of the two year census cycle wherein everyone had to enroll and declare their net worth. If Joseph and Mary had missed the deadline, they would have had big trouble. I have posited that Joseph, unaware of the precise date of Mary's pregnancy for obvious reasons, had calculated and hoped that Mary would have delivered and recovered in time to make the journey before the calendar year ran out, but as things got close, he was forced to make this journey with her to the place of their mutual inheritance at the last minute. This is all set out at the previous link at also at "The Events Surrounding the Birth of Christ".

Yours in our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:  

Thank you. I really thought your translation was very good. I've read some and I've got some ideas, but what would you say John's meaning and purpose was in calling Jesus the Logos? I know that's a huge topic, but I'd like to know your thoughts on it.

Response #10:

You're welcome.

As to Logos, I believe in its most simple terms John is equating Jesus Christ with the Word of God. This is something we find elsewhere in scripture too, for example:

I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
Psalm 138:2 NKJV (cf. Mk.9:7)

The Messiah is the message. Calling Jesus the Logos makes that point quite well. Jesus is the Plan of God and the Message of Good News in responding to that plan of salvation. By using the word Logos, John makes crystal clear that there is not a sliver of daylight in terms of purpose and meaning between the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the Will of God, or the Plan of God: they are all identical. This makes it very hard for anyone to claim that they did not know that accepting Jesus, who He is and what He has done, is the only way to be saved.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.
Revelation 19:11-13 NIV

For more on what I have written about this please see the following links:

in BB 4B: Jesus the Plan and the Word

in BB 4A: the title "Word of God"

Jesus Christ is the Logos

Word and word

Feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, the One who is the Plan and message of God,

Bob L.

Question #11:  

How do we store up our treasures in heaven?

Response #11: 

We store up treasures in heaven by "working for bread that endures unto eternal life" (Jn.6:56). That is to say, we are all put here by the Lord for a purpose. We are all members of the Body of Christ, and each member has a purpose or unique function that is indispensable to the proper functioning of the whole. We all have been given spiritual gifts, and we are all expected by our Lord Jesus to make use of those gifts in service to Him, His Body, the Church of Jesus Christ. Some will produce more than others, 100, 60, or 30 fold, as it says in the parable of the Sower, but all are expected to produce something, at least some "interest" on the "talent" we have been given (as it says in the parable of the talents). If what we produce in this life is worthy – gold, silver and precious stones – then it will be rewarded. If what we produce in this life is unworthy – wood, hay and stubble – then it will be burned up, and we will suffer loss of reward for that worthless production (1Cor.3:10-15). If we all ourselves to be distracted by the things of this life, the love of the world, the worries of the world, then like the faith-plant of the parable of the Sower our production will be choked by those weeds. But if we rise above the weeds to take in the light of the truth, we will produce a good crop for our Lord and will be rewarded for it eternally. This is all written up in great detail at the following link: "The Judgment and Reward of the Church".

Question #12:  

What is the relationship between Jesus' words from Luke 14:26 and the commandment to love each other? I know we need to hate the world, but I'm not sure if we can take our neighbour and our families as something 'worldly'?

Response #12: 

Luke 14:26 is another verse which means what it means, even though it is difficult to understand completely. We are also told, as you suggest, to love our brothers and sisters in Christ – and presumably, at least ideally, these will often include our family members. Jesus is telling us to put Him and service to Him in front of absolutely everything else in this life. He is telling us to love Him, love the truth, love our brethren and our service to Him and to them beyond everything else in this life. That is the only way to be precisely the sort of disciple or follower He wants us to be, and anything less is a compromise that detracts from the perfect service and allegiance we most definitely owe the One through whom we have eternal life through His death on our behalf wherein He was judged for every one of our sins. In the history of the world – and more particularly in the 6,000 year history of the Church – it is safe to say that no one has ever achieved a perfect hatred for the world and for oneself, let alone maintaining it perfectly throughout one's life. So once again we have a cases of the perfect standard to which we need to give our most serious attention. I think this is something that most people "get" from Jesus' statements of this sort (at least in the case of believers who are reading their Bibles with seriousness): we are struck to the heart by such words, and they motivate us to do a better job of closing in on the standard, even though when we are honest with ourselves we certainly realize how short we fall and also that we are unlikely ever to hate the world completely or ourselves absolutely. Still, without taking this and like passages seriously, taking them truly to heart and attempting to emulate them in the depth of their meaning and to the depths of our being, we are never going to become as dedicated to the Lord as we should certainly want to become. Jesus and what He has called us to do should be our life 100%. Anything less is an unacceptable compromise (even if all of us are compromising to one degree or another).

Question #13:   

Could you please clarify . . .

John 8:34-35: Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.

Is the comparison between the son and the slave here used to show the difference between those who are slaves to sin and those who aren't, which translates into the slaves at some point leaving the house (Kingdom of heaven?), as opposed to sons, who stay?

Response #13: 

The 1984 NIV is helpful for the meaning here at John 8:35: "Now a slave has no permanent place in the family". The Pharisees were wrongly assuming that they had a relationship with God – but they did not. Only by responding to the Son would they accept the truth and be liberated from their servile status and become family members instead – spiritually not physically (they assumed their physical birth was sufficient while they actually needed spiritual re-birth: Jn.3:1ff.). We are only here on earth for a short time and whatever blessing we may enjoy of the sort which God has provided to all mankind, they will only endure for as many days as we have been given. When that time elapses, "having no permanent place", assuming we do not come to know and accept the truth which sets us free through faith in Christ, we will be excluded from the household (i.e., from eternal life and any place in the Kingdom).

Question #14:   

You wrote: '...splitting the dividing veil that kept us apart (cf. Lk.23:45)...' Should we understand the events described in this passage as symbols of this veil being removed?

Response #14: 

Yes, generally, if you are referring to the earthquake and the splitting open of the tombs and resuscitation of certain departed believers in Matthew 27:51-52. The former is emphatic divine "punctuation", while the latter demonstrates the life-giving power of Jesus' sacrifice. The splitting of the veil, however, is also unique in its symbolism in that it signifies the taking away of the division between God and mankind occasioned by sin – for now all of the sins of the entire human race have been washed away by the blood of Christ.

Question #15:  

Could you please clarify the part of Lord's prayer - 'lead us not into temptation'? If I remember well, you may have said somewhere that God doesn't tempt us, and if this is the case, why is that part of this prayer?

Response #15: 

The next part of the prayer part is critical to understanding "lead us not", namely, "but deliver us from evil/trouble". As I often say, the second half of the Lord's prayer deals with the "three days" of our life: 1) today wherein we are confident that God will provide ("give us our daily bread"); 2) yesterday, wherein instead of focusing on failures or losses we should rather exult in how Christ saved us, appropriate that forgiveness for any present failings, and walk in the same forgiveness as a result ("forgive us our sins as we forgive those who owe us anything"); 3) tomorrow, wherein we are confident of the ultimate deliverance from any testing, trial or temptation that may come our way through the grace and the mercy and the power of God.

In Greek, there is no difference between the words "testing" and "temptation". We know that God does not tempt us, so whenever He is the subject testing and trial must be the object. It is right and proper for us to ask for deliverance from any and all trials, even though we understand completely that into every life it is necessary for these to come (1Pet.1:6-7; cf. "if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You [will]"; Matt.26:39 NKJV). And when we ask God "don't bring us into trials/temptations", since the words for these two different things are the same, we certainly are reminded of the fact that we should steer clear of temptations and that He will help us do so if we are willing to respond and walk as we should. In terms of actual trials/tests, sometimes God delivers us from them, sometimes through them. In any case, we need His deliverance. Having prayed to be spared, we can be absolutely confident that if we are led into any trial/test it is most certainly the WILL of God (assuming that we are not flirting with temptation or suffering the result of discipline), and that therefore the test/trial is very important for our spiritual growth and progress (cf. Rom.5:3-4). This part of the prayer gives us peace in knowing we have done all we can and in reminding us that God will do the rest in bringing about the perfect deliverance when tests and trials do come at His own perfect timing. For more see the link: "The Lord's Prayer".

Question #16: 

What is the number Jesus mentions in . . .

Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Matthew 18:21-22

My Polish translation says 'seventy seven times'. There is a difference between seventy times seven and seventy seven, even if this number is used as a symbol (am I correct to assume it is a symbol?).

Response #16: 

I would agree that this means we should forgive as often as necessary. In the history of the world I doubt this precise scenario has happened very frequently, namely, that we need to forgive the same person for the same thing "77 times", let alone 490 times. As to the text, there is no difference in the manuscripts. It all depends on whether or not the translator takes the numbers literally ( = 70 X 7) or sees it as so much of a figure of speech for a virtually unlimited number that "77" seems a better balance that "490" – although that is actually correct.

Question #17:  

Who does Jesus mean by 'do you love Me more than these' when he questions Peter in John 21:15-17? In your previous response you wrote: As the events in Acts show, Peter was the natural leader of the other ten remaining disciples, so this conversation is applicable to them all – and to all of us. The point of the threefold question in John 21:15-17 is to stress the importance of the primary task of their ministry (and the essential focus of all ministry), namely, "feed my sheep" (i.e., spread the truth of the Word of God which our true spiritual food). If we love Jesus, we will do what He tells us.

Since you say that 'this conversation is applicable to them all - and to all of us', does by 'these' our Lord means unbelievers? Or does He refer to other apostles, putting Peter in the position of the leader? The former seems like a possible explanation, but then the context of the passage (breakfast with the disciples) suggests that by 'these' Jesus meant other disciples.

Response #17: 

I think "more than these" refers to the other disciples/apostles. To paraphrase our Lord's meaning here, one could expand the passage as follows:

"Is your love for Me greater than their love for Me? If you think so, then be sure to do well the (harder) job I've sent you to do".

A good lesson for us all. If we really do love Jesus as we claim, then the "proof will be in the pudding": we will carry through in the execution of our ministries for the sake of His Body, His Church, which is His love.

Question #18: 

Could you please clarify . . .

He came to what was rightfully His, but those who were His did not receive Him.
John 1:11

In what sense is the word 'His' used here?

Response #18: 

This refers to the fact that Jesus, as the Messiah, was the rightful Heir to the throne and Kingdom of David. So regardless of the spiritual status of the individual Jewish people to whom He came, collectively they were all part of His kingdom by birthright.

Question #19:  

Could you please clarify Matthew 11:21-23 and Luke 10:13-15 - why does Jesus denounce whole cities? Is it because not one single person there repented?

Response #19: 

That certainly does seem to be the implication. After all, our Lord contrasts these towns with Sodom and Gomorrah, and Lot seems to have been the only "righteous" one there (in addition to, perhaps, his daughters, but their behavior later on makes one wonder). When it comes to seeing possible disciples in these cities Jesus denounces, we should also be careful to distinguish between genuine and lasting repentance leading to an enduring faith and those who were temporarily enthusiastic but later turned away (cf. the plant which springs up and later dries out in the parable of the Sower). From what our Lord says here, it would seem that no one (or close to no one at least) in these towns continued in faith in Him.

Question #20:  

About our Lord you wrote that He taught on the lakeshore (Matt.13:2; Mk.4:1; Lk.5:3). I'm not familiar with the geography of our Lord's teaching well enough, but these passages say 'sea' - could you clarify it?

Response #20: 

The "Sea of Galilee" is what I have in mind. In our present terminology, it's a lake. If I had said "seashore", the natural implication would have been that He taught on the shore of the Mediterranean, though He is never recorded as having done so.

Question #21:  

Could you please explain Luke 7:2-5? Who do the elders refer to when saying: "He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue" - the centurion or his slave?

Response #21: 

The centurion. He is the one making the request (albeit indirectly) and the only one who would have had the means to do what he is reported to have done in aiding the local Jewish community. Depending upon the particular type, a centurion might be of a very high rank, especially if he were serving emeritus. In our present military establishment, there is a world of difference between a 2nd Lieutenant and a full Colonel – the latter is officially a V.I.P., the former barely taken seriously by sergeants. Centurion might describe either end of the spectrum, but the particular billet and the testimony of scripture suggests the this centurion was of V.I.P. class, most likely a senior man recalled to service for special administrative service (and commanding the authority, influence and salary pertaining thereto).

Question #22:  

Is it possible to specify the exact time of John 4:6 - 'It was about the sixth hour'? According to the footnote it could be noon or 6 p.m., depending on whether Jewish or Roman time is considered.

Response #22: 

In the ancient world, every day had 12 hours because there were no mechanical devices to arbitrarily carve up time. During the winter the hours were shorter than our 60 minutes, but during the summer they were longer. Passover occurs roughly at the vernal equinox so that the "sixth hour" would end at precisely "high noon", and the three hours of darkness would then be, roughly, three 60 minute hours (though as I have elsewhere opined I believe that it took far longer – standing outside of time – for the judgment of every single one of mankind's sins, the least of which could not be expiated by us by a trillion years in the lake of fire; see the link).

Question #23:   

Could you please clarify two passages from John 4:4-42? The sentence beginning with 'Our fathers worshiped in this mountain' seems rather loosely related to the conversation, as it occurred up to that moment. Could you explain why does the woman mentions this? Also, when saying ' You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews' does our Lord mean that Samaritans worship a false deity, which is why He says 'you do not know' - as it is impossible to know a false deity? Also, despite being astounded by the words of our Lord, the woman says 'this is not the Christ, is it'? Is this sentence supposed to express her astonishment at something almost too great to seem real, rather than a reflection of her actual perception?

Response #23: 

The "fathers" seem to be the Samaritan founders. This group made use of the same Bible (albeit translated into Aramaic, the so-called "Samaritan Pentateuch", a form of which still exists today). But this is a very interesting observation by our Lord. His words here should give pause to anyone who wants to assume that because a group worships "God" that they therefore have anything whatsoever to do with "the God". Just because a religion is monotheistic, this passage teaches, does not mean that in anyway it is genuinely worshiping God Himself. That is certainly so because of all the non-orthodox groups in the history of the world, the Samaritans came closer to being orthodox than any other group ever could – but not close enough, as Jesus makes quite clear (cf. Matt.10:5 where they are listed by the Lord separately from Jews and gentiles). The woman's mention of the difference between her "fathers" and "you people" is designed to challenge Jesus, perhaps out of contentiousness, but, given her positive response, possibly also out of a desire to be set straight based upon misgivings already in her heart wherein she yearned to be saved. Finally, as to her way of approaching the men of the village, as one of my seminary profs once observed, this woman was exceedingly wise. If she had said "This is the Christ!", she may well have been discounted (not only because she was a woman but also because of her personal background); because she put it the way she put it, her comments invited personal investigation instead of prideful opposition, and did result in the salvation of many in the town.

Question #24:   

You wrote: These came in at least three groups: 1) the twelve selected by our Lord (Matt.4:18-22; Mk.1:16-20; Lk.5:2-11; 6:12-16; Jn.1:35-42) . . . Does Jn.1:35-42 refer to the same events as the earlier passages in the brackets, but simply explains them in more detail?

Response #24: 

Yes. John's gospel frequently passes over events well-covered in the other three gospels but adds or provides more details in the case of omitted events or, as in this case, important happenings which he sought to expand upon.

Question #25:  

You wrote: These last were not members of the official inner circle, but are to be distinguished from the crowds who showed up to hear Him and to benefit from His miracles on any given day.

Does it mean that these disciples kept our Lord's teaching even if they didn't follow Him together with the disciples?

Response #25: 

I think that is generally correct, but this extraneous group outside the 12 seems to have ebbed and flowed throughout our Lord's ministry, and John records several instances when it fell away in part or in whole (Jn.6:66-71; 8:31 with 8:59; 12:37 in the context of its chapter).

Question #26: 

You wrote: Simply put, Peter, James, John and the rest, named and unnamed, benefitted greatly from their close association with our Lord (although less than they should have but undoubtedly more than we would have).

Can this conclusion be drawn based on the fact that God chose these individuals to fulfil their roles in the first place?

Response #26: 

I draw the positive conclusion from my assumption that no one could have spent so much time with Jesus and not have been benefitted by it (assuming said person was a responsive believer – we do have the example of Judas, after all), and the negative conclusion from the fact that the apostles prove on a number of occasions in the gospels and even in the book of Acts that they did not immediately learn as they should everything that Jesus was teaching them. They certainly were "in the right place at the right time" and were exceptional people chosen for this exceptional "duty" – but they weren't perfect.

Question #27:  

Could you please clarify . . .

John 2:23-24: Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men,

What is meant by 'was not entrusting Himself to them'?

Response #27: 

Another interesting verse – one which says to me that our Lord did not make many close personal friendship except when based upon genuine response to the truth (as with Martha, Mary and Lazarus). Because "he knew what was in a man"; i.e., Jesus was a perfect judge of character, not only in terms of having a perfect understanding of the truth of mankind's sinfulness but also in terms of correctly evaluating individuals.

Question #28: 

Could you please explain:

Matthew 23:2: "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe,

Does this sentence said by our Lord makes Pharisees' position legitimate? What does Jesus mean by 'have seated themselves in the chair of Moses'?

Response #28: 

Yes, this is a position of state/religious authority, and in Israel the two were intertwined. As with Peter and Paul's insistence that believers give proper respect to state authority – even though during their lives that authority was frequently misused . . . against them, so our Lord upholds the principle of duly constituted authority without upholding the abuse of that authority by sinful individuals.

Question #29:  

Matthew 23:9-10: Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.

Am I correct to assume that these words should not be taken literally? Is it about the meaning that we attach to them?

Response #29: 

This passage is dealing with giving an inordinate and inappropriate level of respect to religious leaders to the point of idolizing them above the Word they are supposed to be teaching (it is not referring to the proper respect we must give our parents). Please see the link: "Call no man father".

Question #30:  

Matthew 23:13: "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

Does this mean that the hypocrisy of Pharisees and their false example actually prevents their listeners and followers from being saved?

Response #30: 

Yes, and not just their example but importantly also their teaching: legalism does not result in salvation, then or now.

Question #31:  

Hi Bob,

I enjoyed reading your article this morning:

http://ichthys.com/mail-Matthew in Hebrew.htm

I noticed you said, "Bottom line: Matthew wrote his gospel in Greek. That is what all of the textual evidence and internal scriptural evidence suggests (and on the other hand there is zero evidence for a Hebrew gospel apart from this one very questionable story)."

Evidence has been found to the contrary, in "Hebrew Gospel of Matthew" by George Howard (compares 9 Hebrew Manuscripts including Shem Tov):

11 other original Hebrew Matthew Manuscripts found in these cities:

1) Rome, Italy 2) Florence, Italy 3) Milan, Italy 4) Oxford, England

5) Cambridge, England 6) Jewish Theological Seminary, New York

7) Leiden, Holland 8) Breslau, Poland 9) St. Petersburg, Russia

10) Jerusalem, Israel 11) The Vatican

Response #31: 

Always good to hear from you!

I have dealt with this issue briefly before (see the link: "Christians Beware (part 2): Internet Frauds and the Need for Spiritual Discernment").

It is fair to say that Howard's conclusions are circular and have not been accepted by mainstream scholarship (attached please find review article by William L. Petersen, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 108, No. 4 (Winter, 1989), pp. 722-726).

The source cited, Shem Tov's Matthew, dates to the 14th century, and there had been portions of rabbinical translations of the New Testament around already for the better part of a millennium before this publication. From a text-critical standpoint, the odds of a complete manuscript turning up in the 14th century within another work with no prior fragments of that particular work or manuscript tradition in evidence previously are astronomically long. And of course there is a better explanation: someone of that later time did a complete translation from the Greek (or possibly a Latin version) into the Hebrew for apologetic purposes. That, after all, is the reason for many eccentric translations of the Bible. The other Hebrew mss. of Matthew of which you speak are thus likely to be derivative of Shem Tov's Matthew. As in the case of Byzantine copies of the NT, the fact that there are many of them is proof of nothing except a vibrant copying industry in Byzantium. As far as I am aware, there is only this one version known as "Shem Tov's Matthew", so the references to the other mss. in various cities may be likewise derivative; for example, the one listed as in New York may refer to the copy of Sebastian Münster's Matthew held by the NY Public Library. This is a 16th century print version likely derived from Shem Tov's Matthew. I suspect we have a similar situation with the others as well.

There are many persuasive reasons to accept that Matthew was written by Matthew and written in Greek, and that the current Hebrew versions are very late and not original to him. Franz Delitzsch produced a marvelous Hebrew version of the entire NT for the purpose of evangelism – in the 19th century. But had he done so a thousand years earlier, and had a single copy been found without attribution, the same sort of argument Howard makes could potentially be made to the effect that the entire NT had originally been written in Hebrew.

We have fragments of the Greek NT dating back to the early second century, with a generation or two of the composition of the originals. If there was anything of the sort for a Hebrew Matthew, there would be an argument to be made. As it is, the fact that there is nothing at all until the early middle ages is compelling evidence to the contrary.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #32:  

Brother Bob:

Thank you for your ministry thru ICHTHYS (by the way, how is that pronounced?)! I have only recently been led to find your website, and am very excited by what I have read so far. I am a merchant mariner, and will be going back to sea any day now, so I have been busy downloading much of the your material, so I can read it later on.

I have two questions:

First, I found a comment of yours on a subject that interests me From the "Special Top Ten from Google": (January 2013) titled "Mary, Joseph, Jesus and Nazareth". From the fourth paragraph down, it says, "This all works to fulfill the prophecy in Isaiah about light coming out of the darkness (i.e., the secular north country: Is.9:1-2 - completed with the beginning and the end of Jesus' earthly ministry: cf. Matt.4:14-16; 28:7), as well as the prophecy of Jesus being a "Nazarene" (Matt.2:23)." My interest is this - this is the only prophesy that is claimed to be fulfilled in this chapter that does not have a reference to the prophesy made in the Old Testament. It makes me think that Matthew, and the people of his day had common knowledge of some information that we don't have. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated. (And do understand, this is only something I find "interesting" and not something I'm "hung up on").

My second question has to do with Prophesies Of Israel's Rebirth As A Nation: Do you have any books concerning the prophesies of the rebirth of Israel as a nation? Do you think Matthew 24 is talking about Israel when Jesus says to learn a parable of the fig tree? So far my google search has come up with the following list of prophesies concerning the rebirth of Israel: Isaiah 66:8, Isaiah 11:12, Ezekiel 37:21, Ezekiel 36:24, Jeremiah 30:3 - do you know of anymore?

Fare Winds and Following Seas,

Response #32:

Very good to make your acquaintance. On the pronunciation of Ichthys, please see the link.

As to your questions, first, on Matthew 2:23, in my view it depends upon how one reads the Greek text here. If one takes the hoti ("that") as introducing a direct quotation as it sometimes does, then what you say would be the case. However, it is also possible to understand it as merely introducing the content of prophecy. The difference is subtle but important. In the first case we would want to translate along the lines of the NKJV: 'which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene." ' In the second case, however, the ESV's rendering would be closer to the mark: 'what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene'. The main difference is that in the second case it would be a question of prophetic references that say something about the Messiah being somehow connected to the idea of the Hebrew root NZR – or better NTSR ("Branch"; see the link). Jesus most certainly is "the Branch"; growing up in "Branch-ville" was a partial fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 11:2; 53:2 (et al.). So I don't think it is a question of our Lord's contemporaries having different information; just one of understanding, expressing and phrasing that information in ways which take us 21st century believers a little study to understand sometimes.

As to contemporary Israel, my firm position on this is that there are no biblical prophecies for the Church Age (see the link) – which refer to specific events, at any rate: Revelation 2-3, the seven churches, gives the general trends of the seven eras of the Church (see the link). All of the Old Testament and New Testament prophecies which deal with the end times (and indeed everything after Jesus' resurrection) concern the Tribulation and the events that follow. The fulfilling of the Church with a large influx of gentiles over 2,000 years was a "mystery" hidden from Old Testament prophets, and the New Testament prophecy which deals with end times is likewise exclusively focused on what comes after the end of this period. There is much more about all this in the Coming Tribulation series (see the link).

Do feel free to write back about any of the above.

Here's wishing you a safe and prosperous voyage in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob Luginbill

Question #33:   

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

The bible says that God knows the end from the beginning because He is omniscient, so He would know from the beginning who would be in His kingdom as oppose to who will be condemned. I'm unsure if the word "prepared" is the same Greek word used in both verses below because I don't have my concordance at the moment. Two verses state that God prepares both heaven and hell for those who He knew would go there from the beginning.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matthew 25:34)

The above verse seems to indicate that heaven is prepared by God beforehand for all those who He knew would enter into it. If that is the case, why did Jesus say that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels rather than the devil, his angels, and all the lost if God knows beforehand who will be condemned or saved?

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matthew 25:41)

I've heard differing interpretations on this from both sides of the fence (Arminians and Calvinists) and wanted to know how you would reconcile this. Thanks!

God Bless,

Response #33: 

Always good to hear from you – hope you are doing well.

Yes, it is the same word (hetoimazo), and the verb in both cases is a perfect participle so there is a high degree of deliberate coincidence here. God decreed everything that would happen before He created the universe; and indeed without His decree nothing could possibly take place at all. The amazing thing about the Plan of God is precisely that it anticipates everything from beginning to end, decrees it ahead of time, and yet has taken into account creature decision-making to a perfect degree so that our will really is "free" in every reasonable sense of the word. There are interpretations on both sides of "the fence" on this issue – and that is the problem. It is true both that God has foreordained everything, and that our will is entirely free. Philosophical objections notwithstanding, this is precisely what the Word of God teaches. As this is not a short discussion, I would ask you to have a look at the following links in BB 4B Soteriology where I discuss these matters in detail:

Free-will faith and the Will of God

Foreknowledge and the Divine Decrees 

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #34:   

Hi, nice website,

I looked over the article: Is "the Prophet" of Deuteronomy 18:18 Muhammad? An observation: since Jesus called John the greatest prophet, but John is the one who announced the Messiah, that would not only make John the greatest prophet who is not God, and Jesus the only One who could qualify as "the" Prophet.

Thanks,

Response #34: 

Good to make your acquaintance – and thanks for the good words about Ichthys.

That is an excellent point, and it certainly proves a fortiori that extra-biblical individuals who are not of God have nothing to do with scripture.

John was Jesus' herald – a very important position without doubt – but Jesus Christ Himself is "the Prophet" to whom Moses referred. Here is what our Lord actually said about John:

"I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."
Matthew 11:11 NIV

"I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
Luke 7:28 NIV

There is more about our Lord's fulfilling of the prophecies to be "Prophet, Priest, and King" at the following links:

In BB 4A: "Christ fulfills the promise of the Prophet"

The Prophet (in Gospel Questions IV)

Please feel free to write back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord, the Savior of the world.

Bob Luginbill

Question #35:  

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

I also am a NEW Bible student (on my own and Bible studies/Church/Dr. Charles Stanley, etc.).

Here is my question for today:

In John 4:36 Jesus says to His disciples, "Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together." Then in verse 38 He says "I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."

There is something I'm missing. Is Jesus telling his disciples (without their really knowing what He is saying,) that He has sent them to reap the "harvest" of HIS labor?

Thank you so much for your website. It is SO full of Christian studying and Bible understanding information. It will probably take me several years to really absorb it all. I am reaping the harvest of your hard work.

Again, I sincerely thank you for helping me and others with our journey,

Psalm 34:8: "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"

Response #35: 

Good to make your acquaintance, and thank you so much for your kind words about this ministry. First, let me explain the long delay in responding. Your email was (for whatever reason) sequestered and nor forwarded to my catch-all account. I skim the other mail every week or so in case something like this has happened. I'm not sure of the reason. Inclusion of html code sometimes is the culprit.

As to your question, I think you have thought this through very well. Yes, I would certainly say that Jesus is including Himself in the "others", and I would also include all unnamed others: John the baptist, the Old Testament prophets, and any and all who were teaching or who had taught the truth of the Word and witnessed to it. This statement is made in the context of bringing the good news to the Samaritans who generally had no dealings with the Jews, even though their religion was based upon the Bible (not closely enough so as to provide salvation, however). So both in the context of the specific individuals about to be led to the truth and also and even more particularly all those to whom the disciples had been sent to witness throughout Judea and Galilee (e.g., Matt.10:5ff.; Lk.10:1ff.), the "ground work" had in many cases already been done and the foundation laid – the sowing and planting already accomplished. Even the Samaritans knew to expect the coming of the Messiah (Jn.4:25) – how much more would those in Israel who were ready to be "reaped" unto eternal life be open to the message because of all the teaching of the truth which had gone before? When we throw a pebble into a pond the ripples branch out in ways and places we cannot anticipate fully. How encouraging to know that we are entering into the work of others as others will into our work for the Kingdom, and that we are all part of the Lord's team in so doing. And indeed, all this comes back to Jesus Christ, because He is the truth and the Word of God: everything we do in sowing, watering and reaping is all about Him and what He has done in giving up His life for us that we might have life eternal.

Thanks again for your interest – and your patience!

In the Vine in whom we are all one and all bear fruit one for another.

Bob Luginbill

Question #36: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Someone had told me that Jesus is no longer the Word of God because John 1:1 states that He "was" the Word, not IS. It seems to me that this is just semantics. I think he was trying to imply that Jesus is no longer God since He is no longer the Word. I always interpreted that to mean that Jesus always and IS the Word, even from the beginning or eternity past. Is this correct?

God Bless,

Response #36: 

You are absolutely right in your criticism of this silly objection as mere semantics. Consider. If the word had been "is", not only would it sound wrong in both English and Greek, but critics could then say "it says IS which means Jesus WAS not God before this point when John wrote". To return to the "was", English is like Greek in using a past tense for things that were true in the past even if they are still true in the present. For example, "education was important in those days", it doesn't necessarily mean that education is not important today too. The focus of John 1:1 is eternity past before the creation of the world. John 1:1 shows that Jesus WAS the Word then – and is the Word now. This verse proves He existed before creation, thus proving He is God. And since He is God, by the way, He IS/WAS/WILL BE forever.

Yours in Jesus Christ who gave His life for our salvation.

Bob L.

Question #37:  

Dr. Luginbill,

I read your response to an email where you discussed the word pros. You provided a translation:

The Word existed in the beginning: the Word was both present with the [Father] God [before creation] and the Word was God [in His own right]. This same One was present with the [Father] God in the beginning .

Could it be translated as follows?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was within one God, and the Word was God. This same [was] in the beginning within one God.

This is based on my understanding that pros can mean "within" and ton can mean "one".

If this transliteration is possible it would seem to coincide with John 1:18; 10:30; 14:10-1

Response #37: 

Good to make your acquaintance. It is certainly true that the Son is "in the Father" and that the Father is "in the Son" based upon John 14:10-11. However, 1) these other verses you cite actually use the Greek preposition en which means "in" (whereas John 1:1-2 uses pros, a word with quite different connotations, especially when followed by the accusative case as it is here; see below), and 2) John 14 is expressed by Jesus after the incarnation. The latter is no unimportant point inasmuch as we too can be indwelt by the Trinity in our physical bodies (e.g., in the same chapter: Jn.14:23). John 1:1-2 to the contrary is expressing the situation before the universe was created (so that the "in" would have to be of an entirely different sense in the two cases). It is also true that God "is one" in an absolute way that is beyond human ken. That is the sense at issue in John 10:30 and I think that it offers no direct parallel to what we are considering here. As to John 1:18, the language there is somewhat unique. The Greek says ho on eis ton kolpon, literally, "the One being into the side", a metaphor from the dining customs of that day where the diners reclined on couches and those having a private conversation would often lean directly into the person being conversed with (as at Jn.21:20, penned by the same writer, John) – so the phraseology in that case is meant to express closeness. Lastly, I believe that John's wording in the opening of his gospel to the effect that the Word (i.e., the Son) was "face to face" with the Father is deliberate and very revealing if the words are given their proper force. The Greek preposition pros means "towards" (never really "in", especially in this grammatical case). Another critical factor is that whenever prepositions take the accusative case in Greek, motion is in view. That makes the construction all the more unusual – and also makes the notion of "with" or "in", both non-moving states, essentially at odds with the actual Greek (note that Jn.1:18 also has the accusative). So while it may seem a bit odd to some, I feel that bringing out the deliberately odd (to make the point of Christ's divinity) Greek of John here needs to be brought out in just the proper sort of way. Here is another recent attempt on my part:

(1) The Word [Jesus Christ] existed at the very beginning, and there was reciprocity between the Word and God [the Father]. (2) This One both existed and enjoyed reciprocity with God from the very beginning. (3) Everything came into being through Him, and without Him, nothing has come into being which has in fact come into being. (4) In Him was life, and this life was the light of men.
John 1:1-4

Thanks for your email! Please do feel free to write back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #38: 

Thanks for your email and answer. I am just now trying to learn Greek and I am finding that there is a lot to understand. While the tools I have are helpful (lexicons and Greek learning book etc.) understanding the language will take some time and serious study on my part. Again thank you for your quick response and thank you for the time to help me understand the essence of the passages accurately.

I hope I can contact you again if I have some other questions.

Response #38: 

You are very welcome,

I'm happy to hear you found this helpful! And, yes, do feel free to write me back any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #39:  

Dear Bob,

I know it's fairly soon since I last emailed you, but had a question about Matthew 25. The sheep are us, Christians, believers, right? I'm fairly sure, but with the way Jesus spoke, I'm just wondering if the goats are just unbelievers?

Response #39: 

It's no problem. The sheep are the millennial believers, the goats are all the unbelievers since Cain up until the last day of human history. The Church has already been resurrected at this point and has reigned with Christ for 1,000 years. After history concludes, the final phases of the resurrection take place, namely, all who have not yet been resurrected (cf. 1Cor.15:23-24), whether unto life (the Millennial believers) or unto death (all unbelievers from throughout history). The believers are evaluated first for reward, and then comes the last judgment (Rev.20:11-15). These matters (including an explanation of why Matthew 25:31ff. has to refer to this later time and not to the second advent) are all written up in great detail in CT 6 at the link: "The Last Judgment".

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #40:  

Hello sir,

Thank you very much. All these prayers were possible because of your efforts.

I have a question about the thief who was on the cross with Jesus Christ. He would be in the paradise with Jesus Christ. What exactly did the thief believe? This thief speaks of the kingdom even though Jesus was about to die on the cross, so he definitely was more spiritual than many would like to think. Do you think he believed that Jesus is the Lamb of God dying for his sin?

In Him,

Response #40: 

You are certainly welcome, my friend. It has been encouraging to me to see how many have so enthusiastically set themselves to pray on your behalf.

As to your question, it is a very good one as usual. Clearly, the thief knew enough to be saved since our Lord told him that he most definitely would be in paradise. I think this episode speaks volumes about the power of God to save all who are willing to be saved. The Gift is available to all; what is lacking in cases where there is no salvation is the will to be saved on the part of the person in question. This person clearly wanted to be saved ("Jesus, remember me!"), and was clearly willing to repent of his previous false point of view (reproving the other malefactor even though he had originally joined in the railing against our Lord). I imagine that a lot of people saved in the Old Testament in particular had gaps in their theology – but not in their hearts. If we are willing to submit to God and do and believe what He tells us to do and believe, I am confident that He will provide all the necessary information in order that we may be saved. It is important for Christians and especially all those involved in apologetics or witnessing or evangelism to make the issue as clear and unmistakable as scripture describes it – then leave it to the Holy Spirit to work out the details of what exactly goes on the person's heart. Jesus knows who has been born again, even if we are often in the dark.

Your friend forever in Him,

Bob L.

Question #41:  

Hi Bob,

‘And Jesus said [to the high priest], I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’ (Mark 14:62)

‘Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.’ (Matthew 16:28)

In light of these two verses, are you really sure that ‘this generation’ refers to the unbelieving Jews, and not to the literal generation that was standing there?

Sincerely,

Response #41: 

Indeed, these verses would seem to reinforce that interpretation. Regarding the first, those addressed by our Lord did not see Jesus sitting at God's right hand nor returning in glory at the second advent, as it has not happened yet; but the last of that "generation of hardness" will indeed see Him, looking upon "Him whom they pierced" and seeing "His sign" in the heavens – and that will be the end of the hardness that has afflicted most of Israel (with the exception of the blessed remnant) since our Lord's first coming.

The second passage likewise refers to the second advent. However, Peter, James and John who accompanied our Lord up to the mount of transfiguration saw Him in His glory in a prophetic anticipation of that future event (e.g., Moses and Elijah the two witnesses of the Tribulation are seen to present; see the link). Also, Peter, James and John do not belong to "this generation" of unbelief, but instead are notable figures in the remnant as apostles of the Lamb.

See the links:

This generation shall not pass away

Matthew 24:34

Which Generation did Jesus mean?

In anticipation of that glorious day to come,

Bob L.

Question #42:  

A question, Bob,

I'm not too clear on the 40 days and the piercing of Jesus's side and hands. In John 20 v 17: "Touch Me not for I have not yet ascended to My Father and your Father Go and tell them I have ascended to My Father and your Father "

Also Thomas in John 20 v 27 Jesus had to say to Thomas "See My hands ... put your hands into My side..."

Some teach that Jesus lost these signs when He ascended and became Celestial?

Another: Why did Jesus in John 21 v 15-19 say Three times to Peter "Feed My lambs".

Was it because Peter denied Him 3 times?

So grateful, only when you can, a reply.

Many thanks

In our Lord and Saviour Jesus

Response #42:

Always good to hear from you.

On John 20:17, I don't know of any version which translates the second part of the verse "Go and tell them I have ascended to My Father and your Father". The Greek says "I am ascending" and can legitimately translated "I am going to ascend". There are some out there, even in rather conservative evangelical circles, who teach "two ascensions", but that is only due to a misunderstanding of this passage as compared to the other one you quote where Jesus tells Thomas to touch Him. In the first passage, the verb is in the present-stem so that "don't keep touching Me" is the meaning. That is, Jesus is trying to dissuade Mary from thinking that He has returned permanently. Instead, this will be a short stay on earth before the ascension "for I am [about to] return". Our Lord says these words so that Mary will not be mislead about what the immediate future holds (covered at the link in BB 4A). As to some teaching that the marks on our Lord's hands are later removed, I am at a loss to imagine what scriptural basis there would be for making this claim. Jesus has already been resurrected at this point and this is His permanent state for all eternity thereafter. Suggesting some change later would clearly be mere speculation, and I know of no biblical support to buttress such a supposition. It is true that our Lord "had not yet been glorified", but everything else about Him in this perfect new body certainly seems permanent. It is my guess that Jesus is the only One who is blessed to have a permanent sign on His resurrection body because of the inestimable importance of what He did for us on the cross. The profound significance of His death on our behalf will never diminish or dim, so I fail to see why these memorial marks would do so.

On Jesus' three-fold repetition of the command to Peter to take care of the flock through feeding and pasturing it, the symbolism seems clear to me: providing the people of God with the food of the Word is by far the most important thing in the Church. That is why all spiritual gifts are designed to support that process of provision for spiritual growth whether directly or indirectly. It is all about the truth, but if the truth is not being taught either through a failure of pastors to supply it or of the other members of Body to support the supply effort, then the whole Body will suffer as a result of stunted growth – which in fact is the story of our present Laodicean era.

On the three fold denial being potentially connected here, that is certainly an interesting point (one which had never occurred to me before). I think it is safe to say that, even though the main interpretation is that given above, Peter certainly might have had that comparison in mind too, making our Lord's insistence on his future commitment to the teaching of the Word all that much more penetrating. Thanks!

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

 

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