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Biblical Interpretation XV

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Question #1:

On 1 Corinthians 2:6-8, what is this wisdom that Paul calls the hidden wisdom of God in verses six to eight?

Response #1:

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1st Corinthians 2:6-8

The mystery here is the gospel of Jesus Christ, namely, the truth - which starts with the truth necessary to be saved but then goes on to the entire realm of truth. This is in contrast with human science and philosophy, e.g., and Paul also uses the word "mystery" throughout his epistles in contrast to the mystery cults of pagan religion: our "mystery" has been revealed with the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh, and His salvation is available to all mankind by grace through faith – rather than being esoteric and works based. Before the cross, the nature of the incarnation and first advent was shrouded in shadow, which is why even the prophets of old were "searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow" (1Pet.1:11 NKJV). But now we see the cross and the One who died for us clearly – that mystery has been revealed for all to see and is no longer hidden (see the link).

Question #2:

Could you explain 1 Corinthians 2:15 to me, sir? Does it mean that the believer cannot or should not be judged by anyone? And what does that mean at any rate if that is the correct interpretation?

Response #2:

(14) Now the unspiritual man does not receive the [deeper] things of the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him and he is not able to understand them because they are appreciated [only] through spiritual means. (15) But the spiritual man does appreciate them all, though he himself is not appreciated [in this regard] by anyone. (16) For [as it says] "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who will instruct Him?" But we do have the very thinking (lit., "mind") of Christ (i.e., His truth from the Spirit).
1st Corinthians 2:14-16

In the context, verse fifteen means that no one looking at a believer through empirical, worldly eyes can discern that the believer is being supernaturally helped to understand the truth by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit's unseen ministry is the only way that truth becomes epi-gnosis (truth believed and thus usable by the Holy Spirit) rather than mere gnosis – when we believe His witness to us about any point of truth, starting with salvation and then opening up (ideally) to every aspect of the gospel, the entire realm of God's truth in His holy scriptures.

Question #3:

1 Corinthians 5:1ff.  Should we be carrying out the practice that Paul demonstrated in this chapter? Since the apostles went to be with the Lord, have the local churches had to continue operating this way? I mean, the discipline meted out on the adulterous man.

Response #3:

"Church discipline" of this sort should be something only rarely exercised. Only if someone in the congregation makes a point of flouting some gross sin before the eyes of the entire congregation – as was the case in Corinth – should the pastor take action . . . to protect the others from falling into the same thing. And that action should be to expel such a member until such time as he/she cleans up his/her act.

The passage sometimes translated "rebuke publicly" (1Tim.5:20) is speaking about elders who come under a higher standard AND the "publicly" goes with the sinning (i.e., those who "sin publicly"), not with the rebuke.

As to means of discipline, we don't have this power that Paul had. All we can do is to expel individuals acting in a high-handed and dangerous way, and then stay away from them and their foul deeds – as in this example of someone involved in incest apparently unashamedly.

Some links:

In BB 6B: "Church Discipline"



Question #4:

1 Corinthians 10:29b-30. I'm not sure how to look at this bit of Scripture. I understand that I should accommodate other believers in doubtful matters but does the attitude evinced in this place not suggest the opposite?

Response #4:

These verses, telling believers not to eat food enjoined by the Law of Moses if a brother will be upset by our doing so, is an example of "the law of love" (see the link), but it is an application of truth to a specific set of circumstances. If we are doing something publicly which for understandable reasons might trip up an immature believer who doesn't yet know any better, then it is better to forgo whatever that something is, at least while the immature believer is present. Paul's comment in 1Cor.10:29b-30 gives the reasonable objection of the mature believer – and that person is right in principle – but the law of love trumps the principle in this case. N.b.: we are not required to give way to bullying: if, as in this case, the immature believer set a watch on us to see if we ever ate such meat in private, that would be an invasion of our privacy and not to be tolerated.

Question #5:

1 Corinthians 14:30-31. The flow from verse 30 to verse 31 feels weird to me. Should the connective be "but" or should it be "and"?

Response #5:

The connective in Greek is the word gar, and as is usually the case that word means that what follows is an explanation of what precedes. So verse 31 explains verse 30: the reason why one should sit when the other receives revelation is so that all with that gift might participate "decently and in order" (v.40). We don't have that situation today, of course. Everyone is supposed to be quiet while the pastor-teacher is teaching.

Question #6:

On 1 Corinthians 14:34 - 36, I think that you have explained this passage before elsewhere to mean that there had to be decorum in the Church. That the focus here on women did not mean that men were any freer to disrupt gatherings with "side talk". I accept that as true. But can you help me understand why he focuses specially on women here and why he says that if they want to learn something, they should ask their husbands at home. I know that Paul knew that not all the women in the Corinthian church were necessarily married. Some may have been single and others widowed. He did address both categories earlier in the letter. So what am I missing here

Response #6:

First, as mentioned above, the whole point of the assembly is for spiritual edification. That can only happen if things proceed in a dignified and orderly way (1Cor.14:40). And that means that when one person is providing spiritual food for the group, everyone else – men and women both – were to be quiet so that all could benefit.

Women were not gifted with communications gifts capable of edifying the church assembly as a whole and so for that reason as well as the authority reason were not allowed to interrupt / disrupt the teaching. Neither were men.

I think one reason Paul emphasizes women here is to shame the men. No doubt men were interrupting too – but Paul calls out the women. The conclusion any man should draw from that is NOT that he is free to interrupt/disrupt but that he is doubly out of line for doing so..

In terms of authority, women in that day and age were rarely independent. Even widows generally fell under the umbrella of the nearest male authority figure (uncles, brothers, cousins); so since this is an authority question Paul merely says "husbands" and lets the reader understand that for those who are not married it will be the equivalent (fathers or nearest male relative looking out for the widow or single woman).

Lot's about this sort of thing in BB 6B: Ecclesiology.

Question #7:

1 Corinthians 15:2: This seems to me like yet another part of the Bible that teaches that we can lose our salvation unless we hold fast to the Gospel and refuse to "believe in vain".

Response #7:

Indeed. Belief is belief, and only believers are saved (Jn.3:18). If we only believe for a time and then fall away, abandoning our faith (Lk.8:13), that previous belief will have been "in vain". Only those who "persevere to the end" are saved (Matt.10:22; Mk.13:13; see the link).

Question #8:

1 Corinthians 15:5. Who are these twelve here? 

Response #8:

These are the eleven disciples/apostles. The word "twelve" is a titular designation for a college whose full number is described even though there may be vacancy. N.b., this was before the false "election" of Matthias (which took place after Christ's ascension), so he cannot be understood as being part of this twelve, and so this passage establishes that they were called "the twelve" even when there were less than twelve (so that the use of "the twelve" etc. is no proof that Matthias was ever one of the twelve in God's eyes:  Paul is number twelve, replacing Judas (see the link).

Question #9:

1 Corinthians 15:7. Who are these apostles? They seem to be different from "the twelve" mentioned earlier.

Response #9:

 In this section Paul treats all of the resurrection appearances in a strict chronological order. So this is not a new group of people; rather it is a different occurrence. This is all explained at the link:


Question #10:

1 Corinthians 15:29. I think I have seen an explanation of this verse somewhere in your writings, sir, but I don't remember how you explained it. What does it mean?

Response #10:

Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?
1st Corinthians 15:29 NKJV

The false teachers who were claiming there was no resurrection, the very ones Paul is refuting in this chapter, were "baptizing for the dead"; that is, they were water-baptizing living believers as surrogates for dead loved ones who were not saved (the Mormons do something similar to this). This is a false and a ridiculous thing to do – but Paul points out the hypocritical idiocy of so doing if there is no resurrection, because if there is no resurrection that activity is obviously pointless (even though it is of course pointless in any case).

Question #11:

1st Corinthians 15:35 - 36. Could you explain this to me? Why does Paul appear angry at those questions that he supposed some people could ask?

Response #11:

I translate his remark as "Use a little common sense!" Occasionally, when people ask questions and/or do things which they obviously should know about or be able to easily figure out for themselves, showing a small bit of impatience is salutary – to spur those hearing it on to do better (cf. Matt.17:17; Mk.9:19; Lk.9:41).

Vince Lombardi, famous football coach similarly exasperated at his team's poor performance in the previous game: "Gentlemen, that was SO bad, we apparently need go back to the very basics. Now . . . (holds up a football) . . . THIS . . . is a football". One of his linemen: "Could you please repeat that coach?"

Paul goes on from his own mild exasperation with the Corinthians – whom he had taught all about this passage previously but who were apparently not able to put two and two together yet on this important subject – to use a very easy to understand analogy of the seed which has to die before it sprouts, and which then becomes quite different from the seed from which it sprouted. No doubt the Corinthians were his most frustrating congregation, however (that comes out in many places in both letters).

Question #12:

2 Corinthians 2:12 - 13:  Paul said that his spirit had no rest because Titus was not there with him in Troas. Could you explain that to me, sir?

Response #12:

It just means he had no one to refresh his spirits in the midst of many pressures. He says this to make the joy he felt at Titus' later good report all the more meaningful for the Corinthians (2Cor.7:13-14) – they frustrated him, but he loved them dearly (which is no doubt why they were able to "get his goat" so easily); but also perhaps to let them know a little bit about the pressures he was under. He had to do that on multiple occasions with this congregation too as they were apparently not naturally humble to say the least, and didn't appreciate him enough or give any thought to everything he was having to go through to minister to them.

Question #13:

Please, could you explain 2 Corinthians 2:17 in the context of 2 Corinthians 11:16 - 12:11 to me, sir?

For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
2nd Corinthians 2:17

Response #13:

Paul's point – in 2nd Corinthians 11:16 - 12:11 – is that he ought not have to explain to the Corinthians that they owe him their attention and respect, and it is in some respects "foolishness" to try and convince people who don't respect your authority that they ought to do so – because if you could convince them you wouldn't need to: they are in rebellion precisely because they have rejected that authority. But out of his great love for this congregation Paul goes on to give his "resumι", so to speak, and to remind the Corinthians of his status and qualifications in the Spirit to which these fakers will suffer by comparison. We should also remember that this was a large group of believers and so while the letter was for all, some parts apply more to one group / faction than they do to others.

Question #14:

2nd Corinthians 11:32. What is an "ethnarch"?

Response #14:

Literally, "ruler of the nation/ethnic group". A Hellenistic development in using national / racial / linguistic groupings for administrative purposes (as opposed to mere geography which doesn't take such things into account).

Question #15:

2 Corinthians 12:1 - 5. Is Paul saying that he was given a revelation about this man so that he knew that the man was caught up to the third Heaven? Or what exactly? Why does he speak of him in his boast?

Response #15:

Paul is speaking of himself (which is why it is a boast) but he does so in the most humble possible way, speaking only of "a man", even though it is himself.

Question #16:

2 Corinthians 12:9. Can you explain the Lord's answer to Paul here? What does it mean that power is perfected in weakness?

Response #16:

When we have nothing we can do, we are forced to rely completely on the Lord instead – and that is when we see and feel His power most completely, when we completely need it.

Question #17:

2 Corinthians 12:21. To be clear, here Paul is warning that his coming may result in the sentence of the sin unto death for many of the Corinthian believers, isn't he?

Response #17:

He is certainly threatening discipline for all who are in need of it, and given 1st Corinthians chapter five, we would not want to rule that possibility out.

Question #18:

Colossians 3:6. Is "upon the sons of disobedience" part of the Bible?

Response #18:

Yes indeed Even though some critical editions don't print it as part of the original because of its absence in a few mss. and papyri, it is in some of the best, most notably Sinaiticus.

Question #19:

Colossians 4:16. This letter that went to Laodicea before Colossae is one of those that didn't survive? Or could it be one of Paul's other letters that is addressed to another church?

Response #19:

That is a common supposition, but in fact, the other letter then in the hands of the Laodiceans is the letter to the Ephesians which was then in the process of circulating. So there is no "lost letter". The Word of God as we have it is absolutely complete.

Question #20:

Colossians seems to have been written and sent together with Philemon. Is that correct, Sir?

Response #20:

Onesimus and Archippus are mentioned in both and along with Ephesians and Philippians. All of these letters all were apparently written while Paul was in prison in Rome and are thus commonly called the "prison epistles". The "mail" in antiquity was, for the most part, delivered by friends and acquaintances who were traveling to the destination where one wanted to send a letter. Cf. Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2, who is almost certainly the one who delivered that epistle to the Roman church – a good example of a Christian woman being entrusted with an absolutely critical task: the dissemination of the Word of God (those who suggest that women have no important roles in the functioning of Christ's Church should take note).

Question #21:

Colossians 2:15. Is this saying that by His Death on the Cross, Jesus disarmed Satan and his cohorts because they could no longer use the Law to make accusations against believers? What is this place saying?

Response #21:

[For by means of the cross, God] has stripped [demon] rulers and authorities [of their power] and subjected them to public humiliation, having triumphed over them in [Christ].
Colossians 2:15

This refers to the victory of the cross; once the cross is a reality, Satan and his followers are defeated for all time. In every war there is usually a decisive battle before which the issue may seem in doubt but after which all that follows is merely finishing off what has been begun with no further serious doubt about the outcome. That is the case now after our Lord's great victory in dying for the sins of the world. As a result, He has "taken captivity captive" and "given gifts to men" – so that we, His Church, are now in this age in the exploitation of His great victory (see the link). That is good to remember when we are under pressure – and will be more important than ever to keep in mind during the soon-to-come Tribulation. Even though we are being attacked and – so it seems sometimes even now – being ground to a pulp, in God's plan we have the enemy "on the run", and it won't be long now until they are enchained for a thousand years (a fulfillment of His victory in which we shall all take part; see the link) – and then thrown into the lake of fire directly following the Millennium.

Question #22:

Dr. Luginbill,

I pray that you are doing well and are in good health and that you are blessed.

I need some confirmation on how to understand what the apostle Paul is writing in the referenced verse in 1st Thessalonians 2:15

"15who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,

In this verse, I fully understand that the Jews [Sanhedrin, and Jewish rulers, etc] killed the prophets, but what I have a problem with is understanding that "they killed the Lord Jesus".

Perhaps Paul means that these Jewish rulers were responsible for falsely condemning Jesus[for Blasphemy], and as a result, they took Him to the Roman authorities and convinced them to crucify Jesus.

I do understand that "the sins of the world" was what caused God to send His one and only Son to die and pay our penalty for sins.

Besides that, His death was the whole purpose for which our Heavenly Father sent Him to earth to become human and die.

In 1 Cor.15:3 it says that Jesus willingly died for our sins.

John 10:18 says No man takes my life from Me.......

So, again I don't comprehend what Paul is saying.

Hope you are doing well based in the current situation.

I pray the LORD to protect you and your loved one from what is now going on in the world, and the USA. God is in control, and always has been.

Your friend,

Response #22:

Good for you, my friend. John 10:18 is an excellent, explanatory verse. It was possible for Him to be crucified, an act of capital punishment (even if it is not an instantaneous one) and also for Him to lay down His own life – both by allowing it to happen and also by giving up His spirit once our sins were atoned for. After all, we must never forget that it is NOT the physical death of our Lord which saves us – He gave up His physical life by exhaling His Spirit AFTER He had paid for the sins of the world by being judged for them all in the darkness of the three hours (link).

As you can see from recent postings, things are up in the air here as the university is shutting down over Covid and going remote. I'll be working on getting my video-conferencing skills up to par starting tomorrow. We'll see how all this goes. Sure hope we are back after these "two weeks to flatten the curve", but I'm not holding my breath.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers, my friend – and thanks so much for yours!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

I need your input on a verse or two where I believe it is saying "what is seen came from what does not appear," and not that "what is seen did not come from what appears".

Heb 11.3 has a negative that I'm not so sure what it is negating.

So, is it...so that what is seen has not come out of things which are appear. Or is it ...so that what is see has come out of things which do not appear?

The closest comparison that a local friend, also an old classics prof, gave me was John 1:13.

Do all the negatives – ou* – modify technically the main verb or the prepositional phrases?

What thinkest thou?

Response #23:

On your question, this is a typical way in Greek to negate an infinitive. Here's the way I translate the verse:

By faith we understand that the ages have been constructed by the Word of God, so that what we see (i.e., the material world) has not come into being from the things presently visible.
Hebrews 11:3

The position of the negative may seem strange from an English point of view, but it reads well in Greek. Also, as is typical, negative adverbs (all ou forms included) generally modify whatever they are placed in front of. So one could translate "so that what we see has come into being not from the things presently visible" – which means the same thing but is not particularly good English.

Keeping you and yours in my prayers, my friend!

Your pal in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Dear Br Rob

I haven’t spoken to you in awhile. I hope you and everybody around you are keeping well. I can see your website continues to grow, praise the Lord.

I’m hoping you can help me out, have you spilt any ink on this verse – I’m trying to refute a Calvinist view of this verse.

Hebrews 12:2a
2a looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith...

Response #24:

It has been a while – hope you are keeping well too!

As to your question, can't imagine how hyper-Calvinists, the ones who don't believe in free will which every human being knows they have, think to use this verse in the defense of their view that we are all really just automatons (if that were true, there would be no need of the cross, after all).

The only thing I can think of is that they take the phrase "author and originator of our faith" to mean that we only have faith because the Lord injected it into us and caused it to come out the other way as He willed APART from any free will choice on our part. That is rubbish, obviously.

Moreover, "faith" in this verse is not our free will faith but WHAT believe in with that faith: without Jesus who is the One we believe in, His perfect person and His perfect work on the cross, there would be nothing and no one worth believing in / trusting in / having faith in, choosing to believe – because then such "faith" would be pointless. That is why I always bristle when politicians, e.g., talk about their "faith" absent expressing belief in Christ apart from works or religious affiliation. Such "faith", if it not in Christ and His work, and if it not by grace, is no biblical faith at all.

Jesus Christ is the "author and originator" of all we must believe – through our own free will by the grace of God – in order to be saved. That is what the verse obviously means -- and what it obviously says – to anyone who is reading the Bible for edification instead of merely mining it for (false) evidence of heretical theories.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior – the One and only object of our faith.

Bob L.

Question #25:

On Friday we primarily talked about what the resurrection accomplished on top of what was achieved by the crucifixion. Here's how I understand things:

We Christians are separated from God by sin and death (which proceeds from sin: James 1:15). On the cross, Jesus bore the penalty for our sins in his body (1 Peter 2:24). The payment for our sins is metaphorically called "the blood of Christ." By taking God's judgement of the sins in our place, the cross solved "the sin problem."

However, Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:17 that "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." This would seem to imply that the efficacy of the cross is in some way intrinsically tied to the resurrection. If it were just a mention of overcoming death, then we might say that a clean split could be made vis-a-vis the cross solving the sin problem and the resurrection solving the death problem (inasmuch as they could be separated). However, the fact that this verse ties the forgiveness of our sins to the resurrection seems to throw a wrench into that.

So, at risk of asking a question that I should perhaps already know the answer to, what exactly does the resurrection "do"? We can say that the payment for our sins was made in the darkness of the cross (so-called "penal substitutionary atonement"), right? Then what does the resurrection have to do with it? Or is the resurrection in fact primarily focused on the "death problem"? Then what of that verse?

I poked around on Ichthys a bit but didn't bump into anything that addresses this head-on (although it's entirely possible I missed something). Feel free to link me somewhere if I did.

Towards the end of our study, there was a discussion of the phrasing "Jesus was punished by the Father [for our sins]." It was said that phrasing things this way is problematic because of course Jesus did nothing wrong, and further, would not such punishment be incongruent with the perfect unity of the Trinity (i.e., the Father punishing the Son)? After talking in circles a bit, it seems that the people in question were willing to accept phrasing in the manner of "Jesus bore God's judgment of our sins (i.e., God's judgement is explicitly 'sin-directed')." The whole things seemed a bit pedantic as far as distinctions go, at least to me. I think some of this is perhaps because the exact mechanics of how exactly Christ bore our sins on the cross is not something we know. What do you think about all of this?

Response #25:

On the last part, indeed, this is a dispute over words. "Punishment" has connotations which are really not appropriate here or are at the very least so misleading that it's just better to phrase things the way you phrased it. For what happened in Calvary's darkness, please see the link: "the Spiritual Death of Christ".

Whenever the Bible offers hypotheticals it is important to remember that it is only the hypothetical that's mentioned that should be considered and NOT all of the other variables that would/could/should be considered in the case of a parallel universe and parallel plan of God: there is only ONE plan of God, and it is perfect. This is an important application for the gospels as well. Paul's point in offering this "otherwise still in your sins" hypothetical is that the resurrection was necessary for our salvation and that this very necessity is a proof that it took place. We need not dive into the other details – and it would be misleading to do so. The plan included the resurrection as the stamp of approval of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ "who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification" (Rom.4:25 NKJV).

Question #26:

Hi Bob,

I guess with regards to 1 Corinthians 15, what exactly is this hypothetical that Paul is constructing and then knocking down?

v. 14: "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."
v. 17: "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."

Is he saying that if Christ was not resurrected that that would mean that the Father did not accept the sacrifice of the cross (and this would be why "your faith is useless" and "you are still in your sins")?

I'm sorry if this all seems like debating angels dancing on the head of a needle, it's just that I was asked about atonement, consequently explained about the blood of Christ and what it means (i.e., the cross paying for all of our sins), and was then subsequently asked about what this 1 Corinthians verse means "if the debt for our sin was already paid on the cross?" (or something along these lines).

I think the point of struggle is that there might have been an implicit assumption in the conversation with respect to these verses from 1 Corinthians 15 that after the cross but before the resurrection, the Father had already accepted the sacrifice of the cross. So then the confusion would stem from Paul stating that the resurrection was "necessary," as under this line of thought, it seems like God's redemptive purpose would have already been completed.

Does this make the origins of the confusion clearer?

In Christ,

Response #26:

On 1st Corinthians 15, I suppose I would put it this way: if there is no resurrection of Jesus Christ, then there is no resurrection period (the operative point) and no God or plan of God – because then everything we've been told and believed is a pack of lies. In other words, the resurrection is THE hope "in which we are saved" (Rom.8:24), the "blessed hope" (Tit.2:13) and the very rock upon which our salvation is based, so that if you take out this essential truth, there is no truth left of any kind.

Since we know – and are so relieved – that the hypothetical "vain preaching" and "still in your sins" is NOT the case, what scripture says about the resurrection of Christ – and about the resurrection in general . . . and everything else . . . must be absolutely true. So this is a rhetorical device to get the Corinthians to see the folly and the ramifications of the false position: doubting the resurrection undermines absolutely everything.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:

One thought that has struck me: Would the idea be that since Jesus repeatedly claimed that he would rise from the dead, if he didn't, it would be evidence that His other claims were also false (like being the Son of God sent to die for the sins of the world), and this is how we end up with "no resurrection = still in our sins" (since Christ would thus have been a liar and not capable of acting as a perfect substitute in our place)?

So, the resurrection doesn't change the mechanics of the sins being paid for on the cross per se. The actual forgiveness for our sins still depends on that, not the resurrection. But without the resurrection to verify Jesus' word, we would be right in doubting that we are really saved, and that what he said was true = very real possibility that we are in no way forgiven.

Or, put even more simply, the resurrection was a sign verifying Jesus' words, and if it hadn't happened when He said it would, he would not be God, and we would not be saved. Thus, since Jesus spoke of His resurrection, it became necessary to validate His word (rather than being an inherent part of the process of expiating our sins).

Is this off in the weeds, or heading in the right direction?

Thanks for bearing with me.

Response #27:

Apologies in advance for the short answer but I'm getting really snowed under with the online teaching (now that our "two weeks to flatten" has morphed into "two months to be flattened") and with everything else including an increased email volume – which is actually a good thing of course.

If God is not really God, e.g., but just a super-being, then nothing He says can be trusted.

If the resurrection didn't take place, then the Bible is worthless.

If I remove your spine, good luck walking to work tomorrow.

Remove any essential, especially one so vital as the resurrection, the bedrock of the gospel, and everything falls to the ground; using this clear logic, those false teachers are now free to destroy anything you Corinthians personally hold near and dear. Paul goes hard here after a few Corinthian favorite false doctrines in order to demonstrate that they can't have their cake (false doctrines they like for some reason) and eat it too (throwing out ONLY doctrines they don't agree with). Remove the Cornerstone and the whole building collapses. That is why false teachers always attack such key truths. But the resurrection is essential to the gospel since, just for example, it proves that Christ is the Messiah – and that thus His work on the cross DID free us from our sins and open up the way to life eternal:

. . . who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 1:4 NASB95

Stay healthy my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I had a discussion with a dear Brother in the LORD who was himself instrumental in me coming to the knowledge of the truth that is only in Jesus Christ.

God used this brother in a very unique way in my life. Well, we got into a discussion as I said, about a comment that I made to him. This is what I said:

The results of what is written in the "New Testament" did not become "effective" until the Resurrection of Jesus from the grave.

Here are my additional comments to my brother:

1. The definition of a "Testament" is the last will of a living person, so the things that are written in this New Testament are the desires of Jesus Christ Himself, that He wanted for His people and the whole world.

2. What Jesus said would take place and what He told us about how we should conduct our lives, etc. did not actually become "effective", by that I mean the entrance of believers into the Kingdom of God, or the Third Heaven until Jesus actually rose from the dead.

He disagreed with me and said, that the New Testament became effective at the "Birth of Jesus". He also said, even if Jesus did not raise from the dead, His death on the Cross, and the shedding of His blood would still wash away our sins.

I tried to explain to him, and I am reminded of the Scripture verse in Romans 1:4 "who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.

That is just one scripture.

It is my opinion from what I have studied in Scripture, that all the events which happened to Jesus were required for Him to be declared to be the Son of God, and they were all completed as we know from Scripture.

All the events "together" are important, and none can be left out of the equation, so to speak. Even though the Gospels are included in the "New Testament", what Jesus did and what was said by Him, took place in the Old Testament, because He had to die first, both physically and spiritually, and be raised from the dead for it to be of any value in the New Covenant we live in now.

I just wanted your thoughts, on whether I am thinking correctly.

I hope you are doing well with the "separation from society."

Many blessings to you always,

Your friend,

Response #28:

I'm with you, my friend. Indeed, this verse says it all:

He was handed over (i.e., forsaken) on account of our transgressions (i.e., to redeem us from sin), and was raised up on account of our justification (i.e., so that we too could be raised, having been justified by His death).
Romans 4:25

One could add that the New Testament was not written and inspired by the Holy Spirit until some years after our Lord's ascension. So "the new covenant" could hardly have been "in effect" before it was validated by the death of Christ in anything but a hypothetical way. That is what scripture says too, very clearly:

(23) For all sin and fall short of God's glory, (24) [but we are all] justified without cost by His grace through the redemption (lit., "ransoming" from sin) which is in Christ Jesus. (25) God made Him a means of atonement [achieved] by His blood [and claimed] through faith, to give proof of His justice in leaving unpunished in divine forbearance [all] previously committed sins, (26) so as to prove His justice at this present time, namely, so that He would be [shown to be] just [in this] and [justified] in justifying the one who has faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:23-26

Old Testament believers were saved "on credit", so to speak, and the "bill" for us all was paid by Jesus Christ on the cross (by His spiritual death; link).

And as I often remark, there are no hypotheticals. There is only the perfect plan of God which is what it is and there is no other. So I agree with you coming at this from a slightly different way.

You can't split up the plan of God.

Keeping you and yours in my prayers daily, my friend! Thanks for yours. Getting by here -- prayers appreciated!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:


Nice - That's one of the reasons why I appreciate you and your ministry: because of proofs like that!

1 Corinthians 13:2 (NASB)
2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

What is Paul talking about here in terms of love? If teaching and faithfulness are not love then what is love? How should this kind of love look in day to day life? I feel like the barrage of popular culture during the first 21 years of my life distorts how I interpret this passage and also the sinfulness of my heart; I am not entirely sure what love is (except the exceptional punishment Christ took for us of course).

In our Savior,

Response #29:

You're always welcome, my friend.

As to 1st Corinthians 13, it is certainly true that this is a favorite passage to be read at weddings. But it isn't really referring to romantic love at all – or even the love of friendship. This agape is the essential Christian virtue, namely, of loving our Lord more than life and loving His Church as much as we do ourselves (link).

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:35-40 NIV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Can you explain a bit more about the words for love?

Response #30:

As to your question, there are two basic word/word groups in the NT dealing with love: agapao and phileo. The latter is much more common in secular Greek of all eras; the former is the dominant word used in the NT. But both words / word groups are used in both places. Both words mean "love", and often times there is no significant distinction between them; that is to say, they overlap in their meanings and semantic fields (John chapter 21 provides a good example of that).

However, it is also fair to say that phileo focuses more on the object of the love, and that agapao usually focuses more on the person doing the loving. So for example at Ephesians 2:4 we are told of the great agape God had / has for us resulting in salvation and the wonderful things connected thereto; and Paul goes on to make the point very strongly in the rest of the chapter that this is all a matter of grace. That is to say, God's agape has to do with who HE is and is not about us being "lovable". The words phileo and philia on the other hand, would suggest something lovable about us, the object, as when we "love" or are friends with someone / something because we find them / it attractive (James 4:4 is a good NT example of that). For more, see the link ("love of the brethren" in PE 38).

Question #31:

Thank you for your quick response, Bob.

It feels almost selfish to focus on me (my spiritual growth as priority), but it does make a lot of sense... almost like putting on your own oxygen mask first (?)

I'm back in Peter #13 today and I have a question about Proverbs 23:7. You plug it in to the section on True Sanctification (p.3)

"As one thinks within himself, so he is in fact"
Proverbs 23:7

I know there are MANY discrepancies in translations throughout the bible and this one is no exception!

"For he is like someone who keeps accounts" (CJB)
"For he is like one who is inwardly calculating" (my ESV)
"Because they are like a hair in the throat" (CEB)
"For he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost" (NIV)

These other (some odd) translations make more sense to me in the context of the verses surrounding it. Can you help me understand your translation and why it's more accurate, since it seems very different from these other translations?

I searched under your "Index to Original Bible Translations" -- You mention Proverbs 23:7 in two places (SR3, BB3A).

"As a man thinks in his soul, so he is"

"Soul" seems like a pretty important word for the other translations to keep out!

I like to look up most of the referenced scripture as I'm reading your studies so I can make notes in my bible and also "test the scriptures." I don't want to get hung up on little details that keep me from moving forward at a decent pace, but this one is really bothering me for some reason! ha

Thank you, Bob!

In Christ,

Response #31:

Great analogy! But more masks (sigh)!?

As I tell my students at the university, "there are potentially hundreds, even thousands, of correct and acceptable translations for any given passage – just make sure to stay away from the millions and billions of wrong ones".

The point is that translation is more of an art than a science. When it comes to translating ancient, biblical Hebrew, variations in the language over the time of writing (about a thousand years) can also make for difficulties in some instances. The book of Proverbs is one place in particular where translations can be all over the map – because in struggling to understand the Hebrew the translators understand it differently.

There are many reasons for that. A few other pertinent ones: 1) textual issues (i.e., what really is the original text here?); 2) vocabulary issues (Hebrew words have a semantic range which is often wider and different than is the case for English words); 3) context issues (Proverbs is poetry and consists of Hebrew rhyming which is, essentially, putting a like to a like or a like to an opposite [AA or AB] to compare and contrast, with the result that on the one hand there isn't much of a context to guide us as there is in the narrative of e.g. Genesis, and on the other hand we feel constrained to look for a parallel or a contrast between A and A of A and B).

If the above seems a bit confusing, I have to tell you that this is the simplified version. The bottom line is that there are usually very good reasons why translators render verses as they do, and they are often "not on the same page" as other translators, but still within the bounds of being "reasonable". In the case where the meaning is significantly different between translations, some are wrong (and possibly ALL are wrong). I like to think the two ways I've done it are "right" and not "wrong".

First, the word "soul" means here essentially the same thing as "heart". I generally avoid using "soul" (though not always), because in a theological context people who have not been trained up in biblical anthropology (the study of human beings from the Bible's point of view; see the link) are apt to think of "the soul" as something akin to a ghost or other immaterial entity. That is in fact Roman Catholic doctrine (derived from the mistaken views of Augustine which trace back to Plato and secular ancient Greek views). In fact, human beings are dichotomous, meaning we have two parts only, the physical body and the human spirit (created within us at the point of birth by the Lord Himself). But we are "one" even though there are two identifiable parts and will always be "one" (even though our physical bodies will change in resurrection – and before that if we are taken to heaven ahead of that time). So when we think and feel and plan and consider, we do it in our "mind" or we may say "heart"; the Bible says "heart" but also "soul" (though this is actually a Germanic word). The "heart" and the "soul" are the same thing in actual biblical usage, with the former stressing the body in concert with spirit and the latter reversing this – but meaning the same exact thing: the place in our inner person where we make decisions and think and pray and etc.

So when I alternate between "thinks within himself" and "thinks in his soul", I'm saying the same thing, namely, "in his heart and/or mind" (but I do understand how the latter can be misconstrued).

Where Proverbs 23:7 is concerned, the first problem a reader / translator has to answer is whether this is an A/B verse or an A-A / A-B verse; that is to say, do we have four parts or only two? The answer to me is very clear: there are four parts. So the part translated gives the first two: A) "As a man thinks within himself / in his soul / in his heart", A2) "so he is" = that is what he is really like.

This is essentially how the KJV renders it as well (I agree with their translation here; I've merely updated it to make it a bit more understandable). The translations which speak of "calculating inwardly" are saying the same essential thing, but making it more complicated than it needs to be (or should be) in my estimation (thinking within and calculating inwardly being different ways of saying the same thing more or less).

Most translations come up with essentially the same thing. But some crunch the first two parts into one, and that is not a translation I would accept (maybe give it a D- since I hate failing people). Then there are those who take it a step over the line into interpretation (and getting it wrong too, like CJB). And on your list we also find the CEB version which goes a different way. This version has taken sha'ar as a mistake for sa'ar – that is how we get "hair" instead of "think".

To be fair, a) this mistaking of sh- for s- and vice versa is not unprecedented, and b) sha'ar meaning "think" occurs only here (though there is a noun with the same consonants which has to do with measuring), while the word sa'ar meaning "hair" is common. However, nephesh while it can mean throat much more commonly means "soul" or "heart" or inner person. Given that this fits the context of everything that's being said within the entire verse, and given that "hairs stuck in the throat" are not only otherwise biblically unprecedented as an analogy (I've never heard of that before this at all myself), we can be sure that CEB is just trying to be clever – for which I would fail the translation (even though I hate doing that).

The Bible is 100% the Word of God, and in its original form it is absolutely the perfect and complete message that the Lord wants us to hear and understand and act upon (much more about that in the upcoming BB 7: Bibliology which I hope to have out this year; now posted at the link). Getting to that point of understanding does take effort, however – but there's nothing ungodly about that.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


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