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Biblical Interpretation IX

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Question #1:

What does Genesis 49:12 mean?

"His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk."

Response #1:

This is a Messianic prophecy describing the exceptional appearance of the Messiah (who is the Great Descendant of Judah; cf. Gen.49:8). When our Lord returns, His appearance will be glorious. This stands in direct opposition to His 1st advent appearance wherein, as Isaiah says "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Is.53:2 NIV).

In anticipation of that great day of our Lord's return,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Why "separation" in your translation?

"For many who sleep in the dust will awake, some to eternal life, but the others to shame and eternal separation [from God]."
(Dan. 12:2)

Most translators choose "contempt" instead of "separation" to be the word used.

Response #2:

"Repulsion" is the idea behind the root of the word (dera'on, דְּרָאוֹן), and that "state of being pushed away" for the unbeliever in eternity will be more than just attitudinal – it will also be literal and geographical. "Contempt" doesn't bring that out; since the attitudinal aspect is clear from the first purpose dative ("for a reproach"), failing to bring out the other important aspect of the eternal state of the unsaved, clearly present in this word (cf. Is.66:24 where attitudinal revulsion results in separation as here) would be a failure of translation in my view.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Can you explain this verse?

"Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and yearn for them continually; but there will be nothing you can do."
Deuteronomy 28:32

Response #3:

This is a prophecy of the penultimate divine discipline to Israel before being removed entirely as a nation, the exile of her children (Daniel and his friends were part of this hostage-taking on the part of Babylon, a very common thing in the ancient world as national policy).

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #4:

"Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. (His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.) They put him in custody until the will of the Lord should be made clear to them."
(Lev. 24:10-12)

(1) What was the fight about?

(2) Why was he put in custody until "the will of the LORD was revealed"? Was there any doubt as to what would happen next?

Response #4:

We're not told the cause of the quarrel, but it hardly matters. As to "what next?", I assume you are asking why they didn't just put this individual to death immediately based on Exodus 20:7, "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain" (KJV). The reason, it would seem, is that the Exodus passage has to do with using the Lord as a screen for lying and damaging others thereby (perjury).

As I say in BB 3B about the ninth commandment, "No False Witness: guarding the sanctity of freedom of the innocent before the law, an important requirement for being able to remain free so as to freely seek God." (at the link). So it's not that cursing others with the Name of the Lord is not a horrible thing to do and worthy of punishment in a nation that exists for Him and of Him (it was and still is today wherever it is done); it's just that the ninth commandment doesn't address that issue because the ten commandments are concerned with the preservation of the holiness of a holy people through protecting the freedom of action of all.

Everyone who heard this cursing – and from the circumstances it seems that it was heard by many (that's no doubt one reason for mentioning the fight because fights attract crowds) – would have realized that something had to be done. However a specific judgment from the Judge of Israel was needed to find the proper punishment – and through this incident a precedent was established: in a community of believers the holiness of the One in whom we believe must be jealously guarded. As with many such inaugural incidents (one thinks also of the man who gathered wood on the Sabbath and in the NT of Ananias and Sapphira), they set a precedent meant to instill godly reverence. But of course, people being people, similar and even worse things happened afterwards (continually) without, it would seem, such penalties ever been enforced again (or rarely so, in any case).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

The reason why I asked about what caused the quarrel, I was reading in a commentary that this person, because he was a half-breed (apologies for the offensive term) was forbidden from entering the tabernacle, which caused him to get angry at God. I was wondering whether this theory had Biblical support.

Response #5:

On the theory, it's a lot of speculation. One thing to note is that only priests could enter the tabernacle.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Did Jesus look like a Lubavicher?

"Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard."
(Leviticus 19:27)

Response #6:

It would be helpful to know if the application of this passage made by some of these groups today is what Moses had in mind. Personally, I don't think so. The second half of the verse is referring to odd designs which were apparently in favor in pagan worship. The first half of the verse says "head" not hair, so I take from this to mean some sort of bowl haircut, no doubt also of pagan origin (i.e., it doesn't mean "don't cut your hair").

We don't know what our Lord looked like during the first advent, but we do know that He has now been glorified . . . and we will see Him face to face soon enough.

In our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

How do you reconcile these two verses?

"The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness."
(2 Tim. 2:24-25)

"At noon Elijah began to taunt them. 'Shout louder!' he said. 'Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.'"
(1 Kgs. 18:27)

Response #7:

An interesting question. There are times to rebuke (even according to NT commands: 2Tim.4:2; Tit.1:3; 2:15). So part of this may be explained by the difference in the situation, namely, in Paul's visualization of things as a "one on one" interaction with someone who may be unalterably opposed to Christ but then again who may be capable of being saved. On the other hand we have Elijah who is speaking not just to the whole assembly of the prophets of Baal but to a large audience of other Israelites as well – lukewarm followers of the Lord but believers nonetheless in many cases, "merely" at this point "halting [i.e., "Baal dancing"] between two opinions" (1Ki.18:21). And it was important no doubt to emphasize to this audience which needed to repent the impotence of this other "god" with whom they were being unfaithful. I hasten to add that this is a historical account, meaning that this is what Elijah actually did say without there being any indication that this is what the Lord told him to say. I don't find any indication here that what Elijah said was out of line, but sanctified sarcasm of this type is very rare in scripture, and we do find out very soon thereafter that in his zeal Elijah could be impulsive.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

"There was another man prophesying in the name of the LORD, Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim. He prophesied against this city and against this land in words exactly like those of Jeremiah. And when King Jehoiakim, with all his warriors and all the officials, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Uriah heard of it, he was afraid and fled and escaped to Egypt. Then King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son of Achbor and men with him to Egypt, and they took Uriah from Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who struck him down with the sword and threw his dead body into the burial place of the common people."
(Jer. 26:20-23)

Why did God allow this man to be killed but not Jeremiah? Was it for cowardice?

Response #8:

The only thing I've ever thought about this passage to make me wonder about the spiritual status of Uriah is indeed the "he was afraid" part. In the Hebrew, "fleeing" follows directly after "he became afraid". We know that Elijah fled out of fear of Jezebel, and that seems to have been a mistake – especially given Elijah's behavior thereafter ("Elijah was afraid and ran for his life", 1Ki.19:3 NIV). However, Moses fled from Egypt when Pharaoh sought to put him to death – though it doesn't say that he was afraid. Sometimes flight is appropriate – as it was for Joseph and Mary (Joseph, of course, was warned in a dream to do so), and as it will be for all the inhabitants of eschatological Babylon . . . when given the command.

So it all boils down to whether or not Uriah was directed to flee and, if not, what his motives were in fleeing. If he ran away because he didn't sufficiently trust the Lord (which is what the text suggests to me), then the irony of him being killed anyway (whereas of course the Lord could have caused him to survive had he stayed – as with Jeremiah and Daniel and others) should not be lost on us. And if we are going to be martyred, like "righteous Zechariah", then our courage based entirely on our trust in the Lord will be a witness for Him and a basis of reward for us. How much did Uriah suffer before this incident in preparing for and engaging in his prophetic ministry? And how much did he suffer in his flight and lengthy repatriation, not to mention being executed upon his return? If it had been entirely for the Lord, then it would have been quicker (one assumes) and blessed by the Lord in every way. Fear of God is necessary and good; and if we truly do love Him and revere Him, then we have absolutely nothing to fear from mortal man.

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 118:6 NIV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Indeed, a sobering verse for me, as I have never been a man with a great amount of courage (although I rightly despise cowards).

Response #9:

The wonderful thing about being a believer is that our courage, when we fully mature spiritually, is not based not at all upon "us" but entirely on the Lord. We have courage in that we trust Him to protect us and to work out everything for good (Ps.90:1.ff.).

When I am weak, that is when I am strong.
2nd Corinthians 12:10

In Jesus who is our fortress and our shield.

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

I was reading a Bible verse when I noticed a rather interesting detail which is included in the beginning of Exodus.

"So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh."
(Exodus 1:11).

Much like how the Gospels include Iscariot so the reader can identify which tribe Judas came from, it is possible that Moses wrote down the name of the store cities so that we can deduce who was the first (and therefore who was his son, the infamous pharaoh) pharaoh of the Exodus. It is possible that it was, in fact, Ramses I, making Ramses II the pharaoh that opposed Moses.

Response #10:

This word in Exodus 1:11 (Rameses רַעְמְסֵס) is a place name, both a region and a city, which also occurs as such at Genesis 47:11, Exodus 12:37 and Numbers 33:3; 33:5. The proper name of the famous Pharaohs does not occur in scripture – unless there is no difference between this place name and the personal name (something that I would not want to affirm based on Hebrew transliteration). Is there a connection between this city/region name and the city of Pi-Ramesses or the Pharaoh(s) themselves going by the name of Ramses / Ramesses / Rameses? Possibly. But if so it's not in scripture. So I would be reluctant to say that this is "why" the name is in the Bible. From the context in which it occurs, these locations are necessary to describe the part of the history of the Jewish people in question.

Fitting the biblical narrative into what is known about the past in secular history is often difficult – not least because the secular narrative is woefully incomplete and the theoretical reconstructions of the past by modern scholars are necessarily somewhat off the mark in many ways which can't really even be known at present because of the paucity of information one has to work with. That is true of one of the better documented eras of ancient history, the time of the early 5th century in Greece (one of my areas of specialty) – how much more so for ancient Egyptian history.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

One good reason why it couldn't have been Ramses: we have his mummy.

Response #11:

Good point!

Question #12:

"Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent for the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to assemble and come to the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up."
(Daniel 3:2)

Satraps did not exist when Nebuchadnezzar reigned over the Babylonian Empire, rather they existed when Cyrus reigned. Do you have any knowledge on the meaning of this word?

Response #12:

Daniel wrote the book after the fall of Babylon and after the incorporation of Mesopotamia into the Persian empire. He was writing (this portion) in Aramaic, and KJV's "princes" (אֲחַשְדַּרְפְּנִין, ʼăchashdarpan) seems to be the Persian word we transliterate as "satrap" meaning "governor" (but one with special powers, apparently), although that word is usually transliterated as khšaçapāvan or xšaçapāvan or the like. There are many Persian variations and a Median one too. So even if the word in Daniel is derivative, it would be difficult to argue that neighboring countries didn't make use of it or a variation of it (our states have "Governors", after all, which comes from Latin but is a Greek word meaning "steersman"). Also, it's not as if Daniel didn't know this word even prior to all the developments which occurred in his lifetime (being a top official in a neighboring country), but he most certainly did afterwards. Anyone writing to a wider audience would take into account the problems that using a term unfamiliar (at that point later on after the Babylonian empire was long defunct) to most readers, and would naturally be inclined to use a comparable term in present usage. So if it is anachronism, it's Spirit-inspired – and no anti-authenticity argument is possible from the use of the word.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

"There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead, / the princes of Judah in a body / the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali."
(Ps. 68:27)

In what sense is Benjamin "the least"? Is it last in the Priestly precession?

Response #13:

I believe this is the ESV version. Hebrew tsa'ir means least in the sense of smallest; here probably the idea is youngest. Benjamin was the last son born to Jacob and younger than all of his other brothers. Since we have a singular here, Benjamin is presented as himself, the "youngest" of the patriarchs, giving that designation to his clan.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Re: Last Supper on Wed., Sanhedrin Trial on Thurs. and Roman Execution on Fri.?

Physicists such as Isaac Newton and Colin Humphreys have ruled out the years 31, 32, 35, and 36 on astronomical grounds, leaving 7 April AD 30 and 3 April AD 33 as possible crucifixion dates. Humphreys proposes narrowing down the date of the Last Supper as having occurred in the evening of Wednesday, 1 April AD 33, by revising Annie Jaubert's double-Passover theory. The rationale is as follows. All Gospels agree that Jesus held a Last Supper with his disciples prior to dying on a Friday at or just before the time of Passover (annually on 15 Nisan, the official Jewish day beginning at sunset) and that his body was left in the tomb for the whole of the next day, which was a Shabbat (Saturday). [Mk. 15:42] [16:1-2] However, while the Synoptic Gospels present the Last Supper as a Passover meal, [Matt. 26:17][Mk. 14:1-2] [Lk 22:1-15] the Gospel of John makes no explicit mention that the Last Supper was a Passover meal and presents the official Jewish Passover feast as beginning in the evening a few hours after the death of Jesus. John thus implies that the Friday of the crucifixion was the day of preparation for the feast (14 Nisan), not the feast itself (15 Nisan), and astronomical calculations of ancient Passover dates initiated by Isaac Newton in 1733 support John's chronology.

Response #14:

There is a good deal on the website about all this. There really is no basis for calculating any of these controversies on astronomical grounds. On the one hand, what happened on the cross was not a mechanical eclipse but a supernatural darkness in toto. As to calendars, it would be misguided to think that the traditional Jewish calendar as it operates today is precisely what was being utilized in the first century (as if projecting backwards what traditional Judaism makes use of today could yield any certain fruit). Based upon the scriptural picture, there is every reason instead to believe that the process of calendar manipulation was not so regularized in antiquity (with intercalary months added as need be but not according to any recognized system, certainly not as with the one in use today).

I've never heard of Annie Jaubert, but the New Testament does present two Passovers without question, the one eaten by our Lord and His disciples the day before the crucifixion (e.g., Lk.22:15), and the one which the religious crowd was eager not to profane so as to be able to eat it later that evening after the crucifixion (so that they were unwilling to enter the praetorium, for example: Jn.18:28); n.b., arguments from silence in pitting one gospel against another bespeak a very low view of inspiration; one wonders why unbelievers care about such things in the first place.

How could there have been two? One possible explanation has to do with calendar aberration, a different date having been calculated in the north – or a different date re-calculated in the south, Galilee and Jerusalem being under different political jurisdictions. In the ancient world, generally speaking, whole months were added to the calendar whenever the lunar cycle caused these to get out sync with their rightful place in the seasons. But everyone generally would know roughly where one stood in the month at hand just by looking up at the sky and noting the phases of the moon. That does not mean, however, that everyone could agree on precisely what day the moon was "new", however. There are different ways of calculating that, and even if the same general method is used, since astronomically speaking that point (whichever one we are talking about) may occur at any time during the day or night, two geographically separated people being off by one day was a common occurrence (since even if these things were perfectly appreciated, it would be necessary to move the fractional day forward or backward in deciding when to start the new month). Inasmuch as lunar calculation over time was generally a question of deciding between two days (if, for example, the new month started at noon), and since making the determination was of the nature of a political decision, two slightly different calendars between north and south is not unreasonable to suppose. But whatever one wants to say about all this, in the Bible there are two Passovers during passion week, and the above discussion is merely given to indicate that this was far from an impossible situation.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Him who is our one and only true Passover (1Cor.5:7).

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Bob,

I need your expertise on reconciling these discrepancies in the gospels, for the sake of an email I am composing to another. I dare not try to create a reconciliation myself, because I'm not as skilled in analyzing ancient documents as you are.

Please take the time to give thorough answers to these questions, as I desperately need them for the sake of an email for an unbeliever who believes Ehrman is "watertight."

(1) Who was the first person to go to the tomb? Was it Mary Magdalene by herself (John)? or Mary along with another Mary (Matthew)? or Mary along with another Mary and Salome (Mark)? or Mary, Mary, Joanna, and a number of other women (Luke)?

(2) Was the stone already rolled away when they arrived at the tomb (Mark, Luke, and John),or explicitly not (Matthew)?

(3) Whom did they see there? An angel (Matthew), a man (Mark), or two men (Luke)?

(4) Did they immediately go and tell some of the disciples what they had seen (John), or not (Matthew,Mark, and Luke)?

(5) What did the person or people at the tomb tell the women to do? To tell the disciples that Jesus would meet them in Galilee (Matthew and Mark)? Or to remember what Jesus had told them earlierwhen he had been in Galilee (Luke)?

(6) Did the women then go tell the disciples what they were told to tell them (Matthew and Luke), or not (Mark)?

(7) Did the disciples see Jesus (Matthew, Luke, and John), or not (Mark)?

(8) Where did they see him?—only in Galilee (Matthew), or only in Jerusalem (Luke)?

Response #15:

The chronology of the resurrection of Christ and the events surrounding it is not an easy thing to disentangle because of the difference in focus between the writers of the gospels; it took me a very long time to set this out in a synoptic fashion (it's at the link in BB 4A: Christology). What I have done there is compile all the events in order and explain the (only apparent) inconsistencies. Trying to answer these questions separately from what I have already done there would only be confusing to the picture as a whole. This is one of those areas where a believer genuinely looking for answers will find them (at least if accessing a good Bible teaching ministry), but an unbeliever looking for problems will surely find them – or think so. There are, actually, no discrepancies, when the entire chronology is seen and explained as a whole. Taking it piece by piece is a more problematic approach. For example, many don't understand (or agree with the truth of the fact) that Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene are the same person. So there are a lot of "ins and outs" which are required to be understood for the whole picture to come together. I am happy to answer specific queries about the overall picture presented at the link above (where all of the questions you ask here are answered). Have a look.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

"Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!"
2Ti 4:16

Who is "them" that Paul is pleading that shouldn't be charged?

Response #16:

This refers to all those who were friends and fellow believers who should have stood up for Paul (as character witnesses) but who were afraid to do so. This happens at his series of trials at the end of his second imprisonment, the end of which process resulted in his execution. The names of these persons are not mentioned deliberately, so we have no idea who "they" may have been in terms of specific identification. This chapter details the departure of several individuals, some for good purposes, some for ill, but this epistle lacks what we find at the conclusion of similar, lengthy epistles, including those written from imprisonment, namely, a list of greetings from the people who were with Paul. We may surmise that not many, if any, were still by his side. That doesn't mean that his closest companions such as Luke were not present and faithful (cf. verse eleven). There may have been reasons why they did not or were not allowed to testify for Paul (such as lack of status, inability to speak Latin, lack of Roman citizenship, etc.). A similar dichotomy of classes of individuals is found at the end of Colossians where it is often wrongly assumed from the wording that Luke was not Jewish (whereas paregoria in Col.4:11 is referring similarly to giving character witness; compare also 2Tim.4:16 with 2Tim.4:11: Luke was "with Paul" yet he can say "no one came to my defense"; which must mean that only certain individuals could do so to effect – the same exception applies in Col.4:11).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

"At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now."
(Galatians 4:29)

When did Ishmael persecute Isaac? What event in scripture is Paul talking of?

Response #17:

Paul has in mind the events of Genesis 21:8ff., typical of relations between the Israelites and the descendants of Ishmael ever after (and symbolic of relations between believers and unbelievers generally as well, which is Paul's point).

In our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #18:

"I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart."
Philemon 1:10

I wonder if scholars three thousand years from now will look at Onesimus' name and conclude that Philemon is a literary short story based on a pun of his name meaning "useful."

Response #18:

Actually, one of my undergraduate professors many years ago "shared" this (abysmally low view of inspiration) interpretation with the class, and it wasn't original to him.

But as to 3K years, the Lord will be back in less than two decades and at that point the world as we know it will only have 1K years to go; but during that time, "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Hab.2:14 NKJV).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Professor,

I'm now re-writing the piece "Verses for testing" and Ephesians 6:10-17 is a part of that. I'm not sure how to understand the expression in verse 15:

15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Meyer explains:

It is the readiness, the ready mind; not, however, for the proclamation of the gospel (so, in some instances with a reference to Isaiah 52:7, Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Pelagius, Erasmus, Luther, Vatablus, Clarius, Cornelius a Lapide, Erasmus Schmid, Estius, Grotius, Calovius, Calixtus, Michaelis, and others, including Rückert, Meier, Baumgarten-Crusius),—since, in fact, Paul is speaking to fellow-Christians, not to fellow-teachers,—but the promptitudo—and that for the conflict in question—which the gospel bestows, which is produced by means of it.

According to this explanation what Paul means is the preparation produced by the gospel of peace - but what is this really? If it is not the eagerness to proclaim it, then what sort of readiness "for the conflict" is meant here as being produced by the gospel?

Expositor's note is almost identical and equally difficult for me to grasp:

The preparedness, the mental alacrity with which we are inspired by the Gospel with its message of peace with God, is to be to us the protection and equipment which the sandals that cover his feet are to the soldier. With this we shall be helped to face the foe with courage and with promptitude.

Others, such as Pulpit, take this phrase as meaning the steadfastness which comes from knowing that we are at peace with God:

The idea seems to be that the mind is to be steadied, kept from fear and flutter, by means of the good news of peace - the good news that we are at peace with God; and "if God be for us, who can be against us?"

But I'm not sure if such an explanation does justice to the word "readiness" in this verse.

What is your take?

In His grace,

Response #19:

Since all of the other accouterments of warfare correspond to Christian virtues, the contemplation and acting out of which is our means to resisting the attacks of the evil one, this part too should probably be understood along the same lines, that is, in terms of our mental/spiritual armor and equipment for carrying on this sort of spiritual warfare.

This analogy starts with Paul encouraging us to look not to our own strength but to the Lord's (v.10) and recommends our donning of this "panoply" of divine provision so as to be able to "stand our ground" against the unseen attacks of the devil and his invisible forces. But these weapons and this gear is not just defensive. Not that we can actually "do battle" with demons – that is impossible. Our offense consists in fighting through all opposition and pushing forward in our march to Zion, doing all we are meant to do in terms of resisting sin and temptation, coping with the reverses, shocks and opposition the minions of the devil through in our path, and accomplishing what the Lord has for us to do in this life. Part of that has to do not only with learning and believing the truth ourselves (cf. the "belt of truth") and not only with enduring the tests and trials of life while doing things Gods' way (cf. the "breastplate of righteousness) but also in helping others do so: that is what we should be "ready" to do in sharing and helping other to share the gospel (which is the good news not only about salvation but about all the wonders of the kingdom wherein we will experience peace forever). Here is something I have written about this passage in the past:

"the [shoes] of preparation for the gospel": the readiness to share God's truth and to serve the Lord wherever He would have us to do so is also a critical part of our defense – in fact it constitutes our mobility which is at the heart of any effective fight; we must be willing to do for Him what He wants us to do (and not what others say He wants or we rationalize that He might want); see the link: "The whole armor of God".

I have no idea what Meyer means – except to say that it's wrong. Expositors is also confused and confusing. Pulpit is missing the picture Paul is painting. In order to march and also in order to fight an effective fight, soldiers then as now have to have their boots on and in good shape. That is the essential measure of "readiness" – to march and to engage in a fight. And that is so whether the march is toward a safe haven or into trouble, and whether the fight is a defense of a position or an assault on one of the enemy's. We have to be ready for such movements and for such maneuvers at all times, and these are qualified by Paul as having to do with "the gospel of peace", namely, both the content of the truth of the kingdom and also the mission we have undertaken in committing ourselves to it. "Peace" is added here as an encouragement. In Greek and Hebrew both, biblical "peace" is much more than the absence of strife and conflict (though that is part of it); it is also the spiritual prosperity, wholeness and fellowship we have from God and with God as a result of accepting His good news of victory over sin, death and thereby also over the evil one, blessings which increase as we grow and progress in the truth and which we also help others to acquire as we begin to minister to them – and blessings which will know no end or limit on the other side of this life.

Hope this is of some help – do feel free to write me back about any of this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

"In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use."
(2 Timothy 2:20)

In the context of Ancient Rome Paul was writing in, pots that were made out of wood and clay were used as toilets.

Is this correct?

Response #20:

That may be part of it. Clay pots were the ubiquitous standbys for all manner of things in antiquity, a combination of storage container, furniture, table service and many more things besides (even the sherds of broken pottery were used for all manner of things of course, for writing on, scraping with, etc. etc.). So I don't think we can pin Paul down to a scatological reference alone here.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #21:

What does the word in this verse mean?

"Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one."
(2 Corinthians 7:2)

What does "corrupted" mean in this verse?

Response #21:

In contexts where it doesn't mean "destroy", [dia]ptheiro usually means to undermine or degrade the goodness of whatever is being corrupted, as in this NT quote from Menander:

Be not deceived: "evil communications corrupt good manners."
1st Corinthians 15:33 KJV

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I just wanted to check in and say "hi." I hope you are still doing OK after the passing of your mother. I have been reading through your recent email postings "Its Better on the Other Side." Hearing about the troubles you and other Ichthys Christians are going through always motivates me to try to be even more consistent about praying through the Ichthys prayer list.

I am glad that your mother's funeral went well. I hope her and your dad had a lot of good times in Lakeland when he was still alive.

And thank you for sharing Ecclesiastes 7:1-4. When I first read Ecclesiastes, I must have read those verses, but I barely remembered them. Now their wisdom is shining out to me, especially after reading about my fellow Christian's experiences with grief and contemplating my own. And you brought up Jesus crying when Lazurus died. That part of the Gospels stands out to me - eventually I think I would have asked you about it. Jesus knew Lazurus was a believer, He knew He would heal him and that Lazurus would ultimately be with Him and His father in heaven, but He still cried. Do you think He cried because it pained Him to see Lazurus have to go through the process of death, even if He knew it was temporary? And was he empathizing with the grief of Lazurus' family? Whenever I study Christ's life and ministry on earth, it is the relationship between his deity and humanity expressed in His character: His words, actions and reactions that fascinate me, challenge me and leave me awestruck. The more guidance I receive from the Holy Spirit, the more I realize how much God knows what we are thinking and feeling and what we need emotionally. For example, I struggle with knowing how to comfort people. Two years ago, one of my co-workers found out she had breast cancer and was about to start radiation therapy. On the day she told everyone in the office that she had cancer I had no idea what to say or how to help her and I felt awkward when I was around her. Later that week she was coming around the corner in our office and I was coming around the same corner from the other direction. We bumped into each other and then just started hugging. I know the Holy Spirit guided me to hug her and it felt right. He was teaching me how to comfort others.

In the email postings you also shared Psalm 116:15 with a few readers. I had yet to read that verse from Psalms; I really love it. We belong to God, if we believe in His Son, and when we die He takes us back. Humans see death as a horrible thing (and it is if someone is not saved), but for believers God gets pleasure from the victory of finally getting to take us back to Himself, after we have kept our faith while living in the Devil's world. I think it is the word "precious" that makes it such a great verse. It is one of those Bible verses that personify God in a way that helps me understand His will better and the intensity of Christ's love. It makes me think "God can't wait to get us out of here...after we do what He wants us to do for Him."

When it comes to Bible study, I have had too many irons in the fire, lately. I was starting to get overwhelmed. I prayed asking what I need to focus on and the Holy Spirit guided me to immerse myself in the book of Daniel. I just completed Curtis Omo's Daniel study this past fall. Now, I am being guided to go through each chapter and squeeze as much meaning/understand out as possible. He is guiding me to understand all of the symbolism in the dreams and visions, especially. I am going through Curt's studies again, your Tribulation studies and my NIV study Bible to piece everything together into notes that will eventually fill a binder. I was wondering, do you recommend any books or websites that go over the proper way to exegete God's Word? My mom and dad got me Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner's Handbook by John H. Hayes and Carl R. Holladay for Christmas, but haven't started reading it yet.

While going through your email responses for anything about the statue in Daniel Chapter 2, I recently came across something you wrote regarding another Christian's questions on eschatology (from https://ichthys.com/mail-Dreams-and-Visions2.htm):

“One could go on; however, I hope you are able to see from the above that the whole of this interpretation is much greater than the sum of its parts. That is to say, no interpretation of one piece of the eschatological events scripture records can make much sense apart from all the rest. Like a single piece of a jig-saw puzzle where one may discern a part of a figure, that knowledge alone will not reveal the overall pattern -- not until all the pieces are correctly put together. I have researched, developed and tested this interpretation with great labor over many years, and I know that it has not been my intellect that has been guiding the process; I have always endeavored to follow where scripture and the Spirit have led. The "proof of the pudding" for me is the consistency of the whole rather than the individual details of interpretation alone. One can argue whether a piece of a puzzle "really goes there" or not when the puzzle is far from complete; but when the puzzle is complete (or nearly so) and the picture has become clear with lines square on all sides, such objections are less convincing. While I do not claim that the puzzle is 100% complete, I do believe that what I offer in the Spirit is a correct, biblical outline overall, with the majority of the pieces being indeed correctly fitted into place. I am always willing to defend my reasons for putting "this piece here" or "that piece there", but I always ask parties who are truly interested in getting to the bottom of God's truth in these matters to "have a look at the whole" before dismissing my "piece placement" entirely.”

This is so valuable to me to remember when studying God's Word. I am noticing that a lot of false teaching relies on taking verses out of context. Thank you so much for all of the time you have put into developing all of your studies, especially the study on the Tribulation. Just from going into Daniel and working through the symbolism, verse by verse, and matching it up to other verses in God's Word, I am realizing how much time you must have spent on your Bible studies. It is amazing. I am so blessed to have been led to you and Curt by the Holy Spirit. It feel like I've won the lottery, especially when I see so many Christians caught up in false teaching and distractions. I share your site and Curt's site with any Christian who I think will listen.

I hope you have a great week!

In Christ's Love,

Response #22:

Good to hear from you as always, and thanks so much for your prayers!

Thank you for sharing your experience with your co-worker. I do think that our Lord's empathy was a big part of his legitimate emotional reaction, namely, His concern for the suffering of those who had lost someone they loved so dearly – and that does tell us a great deal about Him.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15 NKJV

I'm not familiar with this book you mention. There are books on hermeneutics out there, but I couldn't recommend anything. I think the most important thing is to know the system of theological truth which the Bible teaches, because that will inform any passage one looks at. It is true that any proper appreciation of the truth of scripture writ large must conversely flow from individual scriptures themselves in a virtuous cycle (where truth builds up truth), but exegesis for anyone failing to have a good deal of the essential truths of scripture under one's belt first results inevitably instead in a vicious circle (where mistakes reinforce mistakes). There is no magic approach. The most important thing, aside from knowing what the Bible is talking about generally, is the original language of the passage – and there's no substitute for knowing the languages well. And there is no substitute for an absolute respect for the veracity and authority of the scriptures.

Thanks so much for all your encouraging words. Coming from you, they mean a lot. In the end, there will be "no more tears" for any of us (Rev.7:17; 21:4).

So the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness;
Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah 51:11 NKJV

Hope your week has also been going well. I'm off the dentist in the AM to try and have a problem cleared up which has really side-tracked me in the last few weeks.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Dear Professor,

I am very sorry to hear you have had to undergo this ordeal. I hope you are well on the road to your recovery right now and not in too much pain. I am also glad that at least you have dealt with it given that it had been a problem for several years as you mentioned. I can imagine it has been a test to concentrate on your usual routine with all that going on but at the same time I am fully confident that someone of your discipline and tenacity will soon be back on course with everything.

No rush whatsoever on getting back to the questions/revisions. You prioritise what you need to as I have no doubts you will!

Things are well here thank you for asking. Each day is an inward battle as we know. Secular work continues to be a challenge that I have to constantly battle with in order to bring my focus back on my spiritual growth and fill my mind with truth. But on that [battle] front I can report that I feel I am not only ‘holding fort’ but also making small steps forward across enemy lines.

I shall pray for your swift recovery and your smooth return to catching up on your backlog of work.

Thank you again for all the support that you offer me and your persistent labour in the exposition of truth for the purpose of building up the body of Christ.

All for the glory of our Lord Jesus,

Response #23:

I'm doing much better now, my friend – thank you for your prayers! I probably shouldn't have whined about it. Many people are dealing with a whole lot worse.

I'm very encouraged to hear of your own spiritual progress, despite the pressures and challenges of life. It is always a struggle to do what the Lord wants us to do. The enemy takes note of all significant progress and production for the Lord, but mightier is He who is in us than he who is in the world (1Jn.4:4).

Thanks much for your observations. Typos are notoriously hard to find, and I'm always grateful to be able to polish up these studies.

On the 72, yes, these are the 72 evangelists our Lord sends out (Lk.10:1; 10:17) – many versions wrongly have "70" instead of 72 (see the link: Response #14 in "Satan's fall from grace"); they correspond to the 144K (who will be sent out in 72,000 pairs).

Finally, on 1st Peter 4:6, this is a widely misunderstood verse. I had a long conversation with our friend about it some time ago, the gist of which (given to a different correspondent) can be found at the following link: "the dead in 1Pet.4:6". Suffice it to say that this is an evangelism verse which demonstrates that the purpose of giving the gospel to all who are spiritually dead is so that they might be saved (not confirmed in their condemnation – that is their choice).

I also had a very encouraging email from your brother recently. It is a great blessing not only to have great friends like ours who are so enthusiastic for the truth but also close family members – for it is often those closest to us who are little concerned for the truth despite our best efforts.

Keeping you in my prayers day by day, my friend – and thanks again for your corrections!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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