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Gospel Questions XVII

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Question #1:

I just noticed the following for the first time, Sir: "As He entered Jerusalem in full anticipation of the cross that was before Him, His way bestrewn with palms, He rode upon a donkey's colt, but also had a horse's colt in train . . ."

I didn't realize that the colt was a horse's colt. I had thought that He rode on an adult donkey with the colt in tow. I see now that from Zechariah 9:9, He rode on the donkey's colt. If He did, then it makes sense that any colt in tow would be a horse's. But Matthew 21 reads like what He had brought to Him were the donkey and its colt. Is there a translation error there, Sir? Or should we understand that the donkey there is a colt and the other colt is the horse's colt?

Your student in our dear Lord

Response #1:

You're most welcome, my friend. I'm sorry it has been taking me so long to get to these. I'm still very much behind on SO many projects. Very much looking forward to the summer when I hope to have more time and energy to devote to them.

On donkey vs. horse, Zechariah 9:9 seems to make it clear that the "colt" is a donkey; however, in Greek the word polos is properly used of horses.

We know for certain that the symbolism here has to do with both advents, and also that while the donkey speaks of humility (1st advent) the colt (representing a horse) speaks of majesty (2nd advent), and that our Lord will return on a horse, not a donkey (Rev.19:11).

We should also note that in Matthew 21:2 the donkey is feminine so it seems that there the colt is its foal – but in terms of the symbolism, that is, representing the two advents and their different character, what you quote above is correct.

Hope you are doing well, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Dear Bob,

The abovementioned Scripture, Matthew 23:35, references Jesus saying: 'the blood of Abel and 'the blood of Zechariah'. My question is; would this be complete including all the prophets that were divinely led to writing the books of the Old Testament, as covered in between Abel and Zechariah? For instance, was Malachi's book the last of the Prophets and not the last of the Writings of the Old Testament?

A further deduction would be that any written works done during the silent years (inter-testamental) between Zechariah / Malachi and John the Baptist (naturally the New Testament writings follow later) are not authoritative. The Apocryphal books are referred hereto and not to say their content does carry some insight.

Favor be with you loving our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #2:

Sorry for the delay in response. I was visiting family and am only beginning now to "dig out".

I certainly agree with you about the worthlessness of the apocrypha.

The "all" in Matthew 23:35 is modifying "righteous blood shed", so this only applies to the prophets who were murdered / martyred for the Lord. Not all prophets were (e.g., Samuel – although he too had reason to fear Saul: 1Sam.16:2). However, as the context suggests, this was indeed the pattern that rebellious Israel adhered to from the beginning all the way to and through the coming of the Messiah, and that is our Lord's point here: they tended to kill all who spoke for the truth – and they were trying to kill Him as well.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Bob and family,

I have very much enjoyed reading your latest addition to Bible Basics – Ecclesiology, the church.
I enjoyed your indication of the transition from what was the Law in O.T. days to what we have now and it’s easy to understand the ‘hardness of heart’ prevalent in the Jews then, which has continued even today by the same reason. And sad it is for many who won’t change until His return.

I understand that the transition didn’t happen overnight – and you bring that out so clearly. But behaviour steeped in vain tradition still has its followers in most of the church visible today if not all and knowing your stance on that, as is clearly noted in your ‘emails’ posts and also in correspondence with me, I am at a loss to understand the non-inclusion of the strait gate verses. I’m sure you understand from my earlier emails that I consider the strait gate verses THE most important verses regarding salvation as in regard to how and where to seek it. Jesus created it and it is spiritual, what man created is earthly. Those verses are diametrically opposed to each other and if the broad way isn’t the church visible, then what and where is it?

Please don’t think I am admonishing you Bob, be it far from me. I have and always will place my trust in ichthys, my Bible and the Spirit for my guidance and I place so much faith and on those verses that the church visible doesn’t address for reasons that I think are very obvious. If my understanding of the first part of verse 13 – Enter ye in at the strait gate as per my article is incorrect, then I will respectfully ask, would you please explain it in full measure for me.

Your expanding of Hebrews 10: 24 in the subheading, A. The Assembly of the Local Church – in part would suggest that the ministries of others are of benefit for our own motivation and with scripture further down it dispels the need for assembling together under the wrong motivation. And I agree with that and even further down you suggest, exactly as you do in your email postings, that is, truth is rarely heard or taught in any denomination and that it is primarily about money (for the survival of the church). And yet, so many blindly believe the entrance to heaven is through them simply because they have been around for almost 2000 years and they know no different. In the subheading – Membership, you mention: “We do not need any sort of earthly membership in any particular local church (let alone in any denomination) in order to grow spiritually and certainly not to be saved”. And I believe all that is true, so then, where else is man to go. And that thought would be paramount in any believer’s mind if they can see it the way it you’ve presented but still unconsciously believing in the church system without realising there is a better way – which Jesus told us about and created for us.

Did He not say Enter ye in at the strait gate? The strait gate verses are contrary to all that – yet are nowhere to be found in your very important exposé of truth, which I feel is needed for the edification of others in finding the one and only entry into heaven. At some point everyone has either heard of or has read them yet they take no notice or place no importance on them, saying heaven is entered through Jesus, which it is but as you say, it isn’t through a church. I have tried to explain those verses in detail to the best of my ability but not many, it would seem, really understand the truth of just two verses that encompass so much, preferring in ignorance to blindly follow vain traditions of man, lead there by others or their own volition instead.

I sincerely hope you can expound the strait gate verses to me Bob and if I haven’t truthfully presented it as it is, I don’t want to be guilty of teaching a lie.

Response #3:

Always good to hear from you, my friend.

To be honest, I'm a bit confused in trying to understand precisely what the problem is. I'll try to address your points (feel free to write back, however).

1) "I consider the strait gate verses THE most important verses regarding salvation": Please consider first of all that this posting is not primarily about salvation; it is about the nature and proper function of the Church. As such, it is written for believers about what believers should value in sharp contradistinction to what is to be avoided and deemphasized for maximum spiritual growth. These "strait gate" passages are indeed important (as all of the Bible is important), occurring in two of the four gospels (Matt.7:13-14; Lk.13:24). But the "strait gate" is primarily about salvation – as the context of Luke 13:23-25 makes clear. This piece, BB 6B, is written primarily to and for believers who may or may not be doing things the best way or even the right way in terms of "church", but who are believers nonetheless. There are many other passages that I have not included that could have been added. The "strait gate", however, would need to be exegeted and explained to be properly used lest the wrong conclusions be drawn (i.e., "because my church is not doing things the right way, I guess I'm not even saved"); so while I didn't make a conscious decision not to use it, there are good reasons for why it wasn't used (see point #6 below).

2) "Those verses are diametrically opposed to each other": I'm afraid I don't understand what verses you are opposing to the two passages where "strait gate" occurs.

3) ". . . if the broad way isn’t the church visible, then what and where is it?": If you were to ask me, "Does the broad way include much of the church visible today?", I would answer emphatically, "Yes!". If you were to ask me, "Is the broad way only the church visible today?", I would answer in the negative. The broad way is all-inclusive of anything and everything that is NOT the right way, the one way, the narrow and restricted way, namely, Jesus Christ. He is the only WAY to salvation. But there are very many "ways" or, seen another way, one really BROAD way, which lead to destruction: anything and everything that is not founded on faith in Jesus Christ. Probably most of the people in this country today who are on the broad rather than the narrow way are not even nominally connected with any supposedly Christian group, and very many are not religious at all. Makes no difference. Only the one way leads to salvation.

4) ". . . still unconsciously believing in the church system without realising there is a better way": Amen! That is indeed the problem for individuals who are nominally Christian but who have placed their faith in a group (Mormons, RC's, JW's, etc.) and NOT in Jesus Christ. But anyone who is not following Jesus Christ, not a believer through faith in Jesus Christ, is on the broad way, because the only other way is the one way to salvation which is indeed faith in our Lord. On the other hand, if a person is a believer, he/she is on the narrow way, even if not progressing along it in the best possible way – which is primarily what this study addresses.

5) "I don’t want to be guilty of teaching a lie": I don't have any trouble with anything you are teaching. Indeed, when you have run things by me before, I haven't hesitated to let you know where I thought this or that was even wrongly emphasized.

6) "The strait gate verses . . . are nowhere to be found in your very important exposé of truth": There are a lot of other passages and verses which are also not present in this piece. I suppose it could easily have taken another ten years to produce and been ten times as long. Writing always is a matter of choice. It wouldn't have been right for me to apply these passages to believers who are saved but who are largely wasting their time in this world by hitching their wagons, so to speak, to, e.g., legalistic Christian churches. That would imply that not growing spiritually (or very much) was akin to not being saved. That is not the case, no matter how dangerous spiritually speaking such behavior is. The "strait gate" is an absolute teaching, opposing believers and unbelievers; BB 6B is concerned with that a church of the Church should be and do, giving guidance for those believers to better their spiritual approach.

In short, I don't have an issue with your focus and emphasis on this important set of passages nor with anything you have written. And I hope this explanation will suffice to remove any such problem you may have with BB 6B. But as I say, please do feel free to write back.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, the One Way to salvation.

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Bob and family,

Thank you for your consideration of my question, it is much appreciated.

In relation to point 2, I am meaning the first part of verse 13 is diametrically opposed to the second part of that same verse.

I’ve always thought those verses, 13 & 14, stood alone in the same context, particularly with the verse immediately following. In verse 13 Jesus is telling us to enter in at the strait gate, which we agree is spiritual – the other is earthly and I can’t join the two.

I also now understand that posting isn’t about salvation and that’s where I have misunderstood the thrust of it – my apologies.

Again as always my friend,

Response #4:

Thanks for the clarification. I agree in regard to Matt.7:13-14; but Lk.13:24 is clearly conditioned by what precedes and follows. The set up for our Lord's teaching of this principle in that place is, "Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, . . ." So I take this to have to do with salvation first and foremost.

No need for any apology! I appreciate your wonderful heart for the Lord, and the fact that you are trying to use your gifts for the sake of His Church and Kingdom.

Good for you!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

p.s., here is a link to our friend's piece on the Strait Gate.

Question #5:

Hi--I saw this on a Mormon blog. I was wondering if you could comment. I know monogenes comes from monos and ginomai, I think, but the latter means to become or come into being, doesn't it? Or is it a Greek idiom that has come to mean "only-begotten"? Or is that truly a mistranslation? The NASB also has that.

I point out to Mormons that Isaac is called Abraham's monogenes son, and he had 7 other sons, so it cannot mean only begotten in the flesh, as the Mormons use it.

Thanks for your help.

Response #5:

In terms of how the versions translate, they are trying to thread the needle between tradition and usage (not doing it well in the cases you list); NIV and ESV, e.g., deliberately avoid the "begotten" part.

The meanings of words are determined by more than their etymology. That can be helpful, but in some cases it can be misleading. In this instance, the NT uses monogenes because the Septuagint used it for translating the Hebrew word yachidh. This word, monogenes, was thus the standard translation for the difficult Hebrew word for which there is no other good Greek counterpart. But yachidh really means, as context everywhere in the OT demonstrates, "unique", without reference to physicality or physical procreation (your point that Abraham had other sons in face but that only Isaac was yachidh is thus spot on).

Here's a link to where I discuss this at length: "Monogenes".

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Are you hearing a lot of people praying to the Son, like they have some privileged access to God that the rest of us don't have and ignore the fact that Jesus, Himself, without fail commanded us to pray to the Father in His, Jesus, Name. I know Stephen prayed to Jesus in the moment of his martyrdom, but as a rule...I say again, it's important, as a rule, did not the Son say to pray to His Father, our Father. In Jesus Name.

Response #6:

On prayer to the Son, at John 14:14 the Lord tells us that we can indeed ask of Him in His Name (see the link).

I don't find any scripture saying we are not to pray to the Son, but plenty that support the Oneness of Father and Son in this regard (e.g., Jn.3:35; 5:22-27; 10:30; 14:6-13; 16:15; 1Jn.1:3). That being the case, I don't have any problem with those who want to pray to the Son or those who want to pray to the Father or both. Teaching otherwise seems to me to be contrary to scripture.

Question #7:

Hi Bob,

I have not talked to you for a long time. Had a challenging year a lot of health issues. Seems the enemy was in attack mode. The Lord stood with me and I am getting back on top of things. Sorry for the absence my friend. Thank you for the update. Will not let time get away from me again. Will be in touch after this.

And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
John 6:42 NKJV

Does this verse mean that Joseph was still alive? They said of Jesus, is not this Joseph and his mother we know.

Response #7:

I'm very happy to hear that you are recovering your health, my friend.

As to your question, all indications I get from the gospels are that Joseph was no longer alive (see the link). I don't think this verse contradicts that impression. Had he died, say, a couple of years prior to this point, these people could still say this exact thing; I don't get from the Greek that this could only be said this way if he were still alive.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend!

Thanks for getting back to me.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

Mark 9:15 (NASB)
Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him.

Question: Why was the crowd “amazed” after our Lord returned from the mount of transfiguration? Should we take this to mean that He had some of the glow from the change of appearance like Moses did (Exodus 34:29-35)?

In our Great King and Master Jesus Christ,

Response #8:

That's inventive, but I don't see anything in the context to suggest it. If anything, the context of our Lord and the three coming down the mountain after the sudden end to the miracle and Jesus seeming as He was before suggests the opposite to me.

I think the "amazement" of the crowd comes from the fact that they are all arguing – which must have had to do with the Lord and His ministry and how it related to healing of the sort that was "not working" – and now here He is! They were surprised to see Him show up all of a sudden. The Greek word thaumazo doesn't have to have the same intense drama associated with it as the English word "amaze(d)" usually does. I would translate "they were surprised".

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hello--Sorry to bother you again. Some time ago, we discussed what the "obedience of faith" and what it means. My next question is about, the way "obey" is used in the Bible, as in John 3:38 and Hebrew 4:6, where it has "disobedience." Some Bibles translate John 3:36 as "do not obey" and others "do not believe" or "reject." So can the Greek word for obey also contain the meaning of "believe" in some contexts? I checked Strongs and the Exhaustive Concordance of the NIV and both do have "believe" in some contexts for "obey." The NIV has "rejects" in John 3:38 which seems to me what Jesus meant.

Anyway, I would appreciate your thoughts on this, as a Greek scholar. Thanks so much.

Response #9:

First off, Hebrews 4:6 has apistian in Aleph and P46, so that is the correct reading in my view there: "because of unbelief" (not "because of disobedience").

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 3:36 NKJV

In any case, in both John 3:36 above and Hebrews 4:6 we are talking not about belief but about refusal to believe. John clearly states the positive that "the one who believes in the Son has eternal life"; this is actually a participle so a more literal translation is "the believing person" or "the believer" is the one who is saved. Believers have eternal life (Jn.3:18 says the same thing).

In the alternative (i.e., not believing), we are talking not about believers but unbelievers. They disobey . . . the command to believe. Same thing in Hebrews essentially, whichever text one reads there. So unbelief IS disobedience – to the "sacred command" to put our faith in Jesus Christ as the one way of salvation (2Pet.2:21).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Thanks. So obeying Jesus is believing in Him. The command is to believe in Him, is that it? Just making sure.

Response #10:

That's right. The essential "holy commandment" is to respond to the love of God in Jesus Christ by putting one's trust in Him (cf. 2Pet.2:21; 3:2; 1Jn.3:23). "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!" (Acts 16:31) – that is, grammatically, an order: the commandment of all commandments.

Question #11:

Hi Bob,

Luke 4:23 (NASB)
23 And He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’”

Question: Why would these people say “Physician, heal yourself!”. They wanted His healings, so why would they say for Him to heal Himself?

In our Lord and Savior,

Response #11:

Pretty ungrateful attitude on the part of His townfolk in this context, isn't it?

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
John 1:11 NKJV

And of course the "good folk" of Nazareth later in this discussion tried to kill Him (Lk.4:28-30)!

This was a proverb in the words expressed and fits that bad attitude as our Lord Himself explains with the words He ascribes to them: "do here in your hometown as well!". So this proverb brings out what is really in their hearts, namely, a very selfish attitude that blames our Lord for not doing more . . . for them.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hello. I have a question about the meaning of the word "world" in John 3:16. I have heard many people say things about the meaning of this and whether it applies to all people or the elect. I have tried reading some of the Greek, but could you help answer this?

Response #12:

Good to make your acquaintance.

The Greek word here is kosmos (cf. English "cosmic"), and it means, literally, "the world", being the universe first and foremost. However, it is true that in scripture the "world" is often used to refer to humanity, or sometimes the living members of mankind upon the earth at any given time, or sometimes also it refers to just the unbelieving world. One has to look at the context. In John 3:16 it clearly means humanity as a whole, past, present and future (see the link: "unlimited atonement").

"For God so loved the world (i.e., all human beings) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16 NIV

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hi Professor Luginbill,

The straight and narrow: I remember reading about the interpretation of that on ICHTHYS, but couldn't find it again. But I remember not understanding when I read it (I remember making a note to myself but not the details, funny). He says many TRY to find it. Would the ones trying be the believers who allow pain or pleasure or distractions to ruin their faith? It can't be unbelievers because they don't try at all. So the straight and narrow is therefore a reiteration of that part of the seed falling on ground story. Right?

Response #13:

Jesus Christ is the strait gate (Jn.10:7-9) – the only way to come to the Father. There is no other. People who want to add rituals or works, for example, are ipso facto rejecting Christ and trying to find "another way". All religions are "alternative ways"; problem is, they go nowhere but to hell.

Question #14:

What is the meaning of Mark 10:15: "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it. " Some will try to make out that children are innocent, or trust adults unquestioningly. But that just isn't true. Kids do bad stuff all the time; they question and push back all the time. They can be cunning (though not as good as us). I mean they really are little adults (if a little unsophisticated in their delivery).

Response #14:

Children have to learn to be skeptical. The Greeks used to say (according to one of my most famous professors), "learn to swim – and disbelieve". Both skills being necessary to navigate life in the ancient world. In my own experience, skepticism comes early to many, especially to those so inclined, but at a very tender age most have not yet hardened their hearts against all truth. That is how we have to accept the truth – the way someone who has not yet hardened their heart would do, the way a young child trusting his/her parents would do.

Question #15:

Hey one more question, if it is okay, on the stories like the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, and other where we are told to give to others, I noticed that all of these three things are in play:
-It is usually when the person is lacking the basic necessities I don't see them asking them to share slightly nicer things (as in they have the necessities but not as good quality as someone else you has more, and that second person being asked to give higher quality).
-They cannot get it themselves
-In none of these situations is the person asked to share being asked to beggar themselves (which would be counterproductive)

What do you think of this conclusion? I am not saying we wouldn't give something nice that was not a necessity to someone we loved (I would) on our own, but that those Scripture commands are focused on someone in a situation with all three of those parameters. This automatically excludes people who don't want to work, or just take advantage, etc.

Response #15:

On rich and poor, I have often made the point that the good Samaritan had the means and that the person receiving attention was in absolute and immediate need; in other words, the Lord chose this example carefully to avoid the silly and dangerous applications that works-oriented non-grace name-only Christians often make (see the link). Women should not put themselves in danger alone at night to "help" some questionable looking man on the roadside who is not half-dead, just for example. And no one should compromise their own ability to survive and function in this world for Jesus Christ because of misplaced and over-the-top "charity" . . . as if that will be rewarded.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

John 3:8 (NASB)
8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Why does our Lord say that believers do not know where the Spirit comes from or where it is going since we know that the Spirit came from Jesus and that He goes in the direction of God's will -- a will communicated by Scripture. So in that sense we both know where He comes from and where He is going. Is this because Jesus is talking about each individual future and that we don't know where or what God will lead us to?

John 3:12 (NASB)
12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Didn't the Lord explain in 3:6-8 heavenly things -- being controlled by the Holy Spirit and the water of the Word? You wrote this, which supports my confusion about earthly vs. heavenly things, "This is a supernatural process, for, just as the wind is not seen -- yet its effects are felt -- so it is with the Spirit. No one can see why or how an unbeliever who behaves like an unbeliever may, upon conversion, all of a sudden begin acting completely differently".

Are the earthly things gospel related, that is the first step for earthly humans is the gospel message before all else, so the earthly things is not talking about the message but rather the recipient of the message?

In the Lord,

Response #16:

I was just getting ready write a response to your first part – when I saw your quotation from what I had written before. And it was word for word, almost, to what I was planning to write.

This is our Lord speaking to an unbeliever, and the first thing an unbeliever needs is the gospel. Unbelievers are materialists – unless and until they convert – so the wind is a perfect example: just because you can't see the truth doesn't mean it's not true. And the whole point is to commit to the truth by trusting God – faith – so of course you can't see it: you have to trust.

Nicodemus was a "teacher of Israel" so he was supposed to know about the things of God but he didn't yet know the very first entry-level thing for all those who live on earth: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Dear Bob:

What struck me when reading Matthew is the Humanity of Jesus. In contrast to when God was a Theophany in the cloud.

It seemed that our Lord is very relatable as any man. Although many of his actions would land our Lord in the Asylum in our modern times. Or perhaps God will act much differently in our modern context. I mean I believe that I retained some of my atheistic mindset and thought that it very understandable that my Lord seemed pretty delusional to them.

Or his teaching seems like so much nonsense.

I don't know if Jesus actually wasn't omniscient at the time. If he was it doesn't seem "Lofty" as we would expect a deity to act.

Our Lord said: "Get behind me Satan" when talking to Peter when he didn't want him to die and I'd imagine I would be bewildered. "What Satan? I am not Satan." but I'd imagine he remembers the same temptation that Satan offered during his 40 years in the Wilderness. I think Peter was shocked.

God Bless

Response #17:

Our Lord Jesus is definitely shown to be absolutely human – and yet He is also undiminished deity.

As to omniscience, the principle of kenosis (see the link) meant that to be the perfect sacrifice He did not use His deity to unfairly help His humanity (beyond the sort of help any believer who was completely and totally following the Spirit could receive for whatever particular mission he/she has been given), and restraint on omniscience falls into that category (i.e., He had to learn the truth from the Bible too, just like we do).

Our Lord was straight with everyone. When Peter contrary to everyone else proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, he was rightly acknowledged – for it was true. But when he suggested that the cross wasn't necessary, this was pure evil and the source of it was the devil for sure. So our Lord rightly put a stop to that. If a person is doing the will of Satan then there is no functional difference between that person and Satan.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have a question on Leviticus 12:4:
"4‘Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed."

Is there any significance to the "thirty-three days" that Mary Magdalene was not to touch any consecrated thing?

Jesus was approx. 33 years old when He died on the cross. Perhaps this has a relationship to Jesus telling the woman not to touch Him, or stop clinging to Him?

In John 20:17 he also says: "for I have not yet ascended to the Father", and this phrase is only in the Gospel of John.

I got my curiosity perked when I was looking at Leviticus, and it reminded me of Luke 2:22. This is from your study on Sin.

Thanks always for your great help and your great study.

To God be the glory, Great things he has done and continues to do.

Really, really excellent study on sin, I am thoroughly enjoying it and learning much.

Your friend,

Response #18:

Sometimes numbers are significant for symbolic reasons in the Bible; often, they are just numbers. Here's a good link on that: 153 Fish: Explaining some Difficult New Testament Passages.

If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that 33 is exactly an extra month, a cycle of the moon and a woman's cycle, representatively (in all ancient cultures; menses means "months" or "moons" in Latin), plus 10% – for good measure.

As to what our Lord said to Mary, this is often misinterpreted as referring to a double ascension by our Lord, but I explain it at the following link: "Don't keep holding onto Me".

In Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Dear Bob:

When I found out is that the worst of mankind and the best of mankind both reside in Christianity the visible.

I wonder if that is the fulfillment of the weeds and wheats growing up together. When Christianity came to Japan I read so came the Atheism piggybacking on the same ships that brought the Gospel.

Is the Wheat and Weed analogy why the worst enemies of the Church always target the Church for infiltration?

Yours in Christ

Response #19:

The wheat and the tares is a parable relating the events of the millennial kingdom. At the conclusion of the parable, time comes to an end. Here's a link to where this is discussed: "Wheat and tares".

Question #20:

Dear Bob:

Thanks for the comment. Although what is that phenomenon I am describing if it isn't wheat and tares? Is there a parable that fits that?

Yours in Christ

Response #20:

That's not the way I interpret the Bible. The Bible tells me what it means (I have to do the hard work of digging it out aided by the Spirit), that I teach what I'm given to find. In my observation and experience, trying to fit things onto or into the Bible never works.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

 Dear Bob:

Then what is the case that I am describing. That the worst enemies of Christianity seem to have infiltrated the church. And are destroying the church from within. And accompany the church even when God spreads his Kingdom via the Gospel.

I understand. But what is the explanation for this?

Response #21:

It depends what you mean by "church". The actual Church of Jesus Christ consists only of born again, born from above believers (see BB 6B Ecclesiology). The rest of visible Christianity – the majority of it in my view (and what makes the news) I call "the church-visible". What organized Christianity does is of little concern to me personally, except as it has its hooks into actual Christians. But even in that case, anyone who truly desires the truth will be lead to it – and out of any problematic "fellowship" which is doing them more harm than good.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Dear Bob:

What did our Lord mean when he said "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Get bags that wax not old" then going to heavenly treasures that don't get corrupted or stolen? In Luke 12:33-34.

Response #22:

This comes in the context in the preceding verses (Luke 12:22-32) of our Lord telling us not to worry, that God will provide for us to eat as He does the birds of the air and that God will provide clothing for us as He does for the lilies of the field – and that we have the kingdom to look forward to (v.32).

Notice that our Lord does NOT say for us to sell all our possessions – as if we could serve Him absent clothing, food and some basic necessities. But since we are being provided for by God Himself and always will be in this world, and since we are not of this world but are looking forward to the one to come, it behooves us to have a spirit of generosity instead of a spirit of selfishness, trying to amass money and possessions as if our eternal lives depended on that or as if God was not going to provide for us.

If we have excess, the "best investment" we can make is to use that excess NOT in pursuit of worldly happiness and security – for there is no true happiness apart from the Lord and there is no security down here except that the Lord provide it for us in the short time we are here – but in pursuit of a good reward in heaven. That is what all the positive believers connected with this ministry are doing – at least that is what I am always urging them to do – namely, to use their resources, time, energy to pursue spiritual growth so as to earn a good eternal reward. There is no better investment on earth. Using what we have, whatever we have, to serve the Lord the way He wants us to serve Him, is truly "redeeming the time" we are given to spend here (Eph.5:16; Col.4:5), and the only way to achieve the three crowns of reward promised to those who do so (link). This certainly includes – for the wealthy among us (I don't know any of those folks personally) – being generous towards brothers and sisters in Christ who are in true need (as opposed to "giving to charities"):

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
1st Timothy 6:17-19 NKJV

For as our Lord told us in the beginning of this discourse with the parable of the rich fool who failed to take into account that life can end at any moment, "one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Lk.12:15). Rather, for believers walking with Jesus Christ, HE is our life, and our death is nothing but gain (Phil.1:21). That being so, rather than being greedy – assuming we are not living hand to mouth (as most of the godly Christians I know mostly are) – we should invest our excess in our eternal future the same way we are investing our time and our energy in spiritual growth, prayer, walking with the Lord, and ministering to others, looking forward to the reward on the other side for those for whom Jesus Christ is our very life. No one and nothing in this world can touch that reward or take away from it (Lk.12:33b; 1Pet.1:4), and that is the proper focus of our hope in this short life.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Luke 12:34 NKJV

In Jesus Christ who is our portion in this life and the next.

Bob L.

Question #23:

About three years ago you mentioned in passing the so-called second Ascension when Jesus said to Mary, "don't touch me because I have not yet gone to my father, but later he allowed Thomas. I had someone promoting that teaching which gave a gap of 'that going and coming back', if you can clear me this one.

Response #23:

I definitely reject the "two ascensions" theory; there's no biblical necessity for it and it is only occasioned by this scripture reference you mention and the supposed contradiction with other passages. In fact, I see no contradictions or problems. Here's a link to where I discuss the details: "the 'two ascensions' theory".

Question #24:

Matthew 3:7
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Why does John say, “who warned you to flee from the wrath to come” to the Pharisees and Sadducees? Who is the “who” he refers to? Is it the prophets and the Scripture of the Old Testament?

Response #24:

The main point is John's exasperation at the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees since they did not actually have any faith. They only came out of curiosity and/or sanctimony. We know that they did not believe him and would not accept the One he testified to as the Messiah.

Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: “The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ “But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.” And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
Matthew 21:23-27 NKJV

So in fact they were NOT "fleeing" and therefore the question is, in my view, rhetorical, meant to highlight that fact. For while the others may indeed have had scripture in mind as part of the impetus to come, that was not true for these unbelievers.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #25:

So John is basically telling them to flee from the wrath to come because they do not believe in the wrath in the first place? So, in essence the true "who" is God who demonstrates His upcoming wrath through natural revelation of the Pharisee's consciences convicting them of the evil in their hearts?

Also . . .

Matthew 9:13 (NASB)
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

a) Does our Lord use the word “compassion” and in some other version’s “mercy” as a synonym to “self-awareness of sinfulness”?

b) Jesus says he desires “compassion not sacrifice” in response to the Pharisee’s accusing Jesus of eating with sinners. Yet, at the same time Jesus said that all those who wish to follow Him should take up their crosses in self-denial day after day. Does this difference originate because Jesus desires sacrifice in emulation of Him after we accept Him through faith? So essentially the Pharisee’s should first worry about compassion and their desperate need for God’s forgiveness rather than their fleshly, man-pleasing works and then worry about self-sacrificing works that are actually through the Spirit of God in God’s Will? What are your thoughts?

P.S. -- I really appreciate your succinctness in your answers to my questions. I prefer the succinctness -- it helps me organize my thoughts as I read the holy scriptures.

It's been approximately one year since I first contacted you about back in early June of 2019. What a year it has been! I'm hoping we have a bunch more till 2026. Stay well!

In our Lord and Savior,

Response #25:

On previous: the question is rhetorical; they were not concerned with God what so ever – but they OUGHT to have been.

On "I desire mercy" – that is a better translation because that is what Gr. eleos always means and also what the Hebrew chesedh which it is translating usually means as well (I very much dislike "loving-kindness" for chesedh which is often found in the versions). In the context of Matthew 9:9ff., this is addressed to the scribes and Pharisees who were finding fault that our Lord was associating with "sinners" – when of course in fact ALL are sinners. So He is telling them that they ought to be merciful towards these others they look down on instead of being legalistically self-righteous, because the Father loves such mercy and is not in fact impressed by their putative fulfillment of the legalistic aspects of the Law represented in the quote by "sacrifice".

You've come a very long way in a year, my friend! Keep up the good race for Christ.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Hi Bob,

Genesis 3:18 (NASB)
18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;

Question: How does this verse relate to our Lord's crown of thorns at the cross? Does the environment curse= curse of universal human sin nature? So Jesus wearing this crown foreshadows his upcoming work of bearing humanity's sins?

Matthew 20:22-23 (NASB)
22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.”

Question: Why does our Lord not strongly rebuke James and John for saying they can drink “the cup that I am about to drink”, since the cup will be our Lord’s saving work?

You wrote this: "I believe our Lord meant that they would "drink the cup of martyrdom" which is the ultimate "sharing of the suffering of Christ". It is not unusual, as we have seen, for things to be true in one sense and not in another, and vice versa, and for our Lord to refer to both aspects of a question in order to cover it fully." However, I still see it as a bit unsettling that Jesus doesn't put them off because the understanding of His Work is so crucial for our foundational understanding of life, God, and salvation.

Response #26:

1) On thorns, it certainly is a good point that only because He died for the sins of the world could the curse on the earth – which was a result of sin – be removed (cf. Rom.8:18-21).

2) On our Lord's response to James and John at Matthew 20:22, our Lord was well aware of the limitations of understanding of His disciples and did not attempt to teach them things they were as yet incapable of receiving:

"I have yet many things to say to you, but ye are not able to bear them now; and when He may come -- the Spirit of truth -- He will guide you to all the truth . . ."
John 16:12-13a NKJV

Blessedly, we now have the Spirit and so can receive all the truth we are willing to receive; sadly, most of our contemporary fellow believers are not willing to receive very much.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:

[omit by request questions about the Law]

Response #27:

Here are a few links re: your question:

Would you explain Matthew 5:18?

Matthew 5:18

Form and Content of Jesus' teaching

Jesus fulfilled the Law by dying for our sins; the Law points the way to salvation by showing us that we are sinners and cannot fulfill the Law (Romans 6-7); but we have God's righteousness now NOT through the Law – from which no one can be justified (Gal.2:16-17; 3:24; 5:4) – but through faith in Jesus Christ who fulfilled it (Romans 4). Therefore, "Christ is the fulfillment (lit., “end”) of the Law, resulting in righteousness for everyone who believes [in Him]" (Rom.10:4).

Since you mention dietary issues, here are some useful passages to remember:

“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.
Mark 7:18-19 NIV

[Peter] saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
Acts 10:11-15 NKJV

"But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
Acts 21:25 NKJV

I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
Romans 14:14 NKJV

So don't let anyone judge you in regard to food or drink, or in the category of festival observances, be it of new moons or Sabbaths. All these things are shadows of what was to come, but the reality has to do with Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17

Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
Hebrews 13:9 ESV

So while an argument can be made that the dietary restrictions of the Law are healthful, assigning any spiritual significance to them now that the principle of separation from sin and evil they originally taught has been fulfilled by Christ is a dangerous thing to do.

(4) For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be rejected [out of hand if it is] received with thanksgiving, (5) because it is sanctified [for our use] through God's Word and [our] prayers.
1st Timothy 4:4-5

For as Paul also tells Timothy, " the Law is good . . . if one uses it properly" (1Tim.1:8). It pointed (points) the way to Christ (Gal.3:24), but is not an end in itself.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Matthew 4:11 (NASB)
Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

Question: What does the word “minister” mean in this context?

I also was wondering if you have read Unger's commentary on the gospels and if you recommend them?

In Jesus our Lord and Savior,

Response #28:

On Matthew 4:11, the word here (and in the parallel passage in Mark) is diakoneo, from which we get "deacon", and is a standard NT word for "serve". So while it doesn't specify, I would imagine that they gave Him "what He needed", and that would have been food at this point.

As to Unger, no, I've not read that commentary. Before buying, I would check to see who wrote it. Unger's estate seems to have used his name for a series of books that were not actually written by him personally. He did the OT ones himself, and they are great.

In Jesus Christ our Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Dear Bob:

One of your recent answers prompted this thought. The torments that humans could inflict on Jesus wasn't what he was sweating drops of blood for in truth. There are far worse ways humans could be mutilated and tortured in their entire lives even worse than Jesus' ever endured from his human executioners. The tortures that the medievals inflicted for example was particularly horrifying.

What our Lord was really scared of and distressed by. Is the Wrath of His Father during the 3 hours of Darkness. When Hell/Lake of Fire came to Jesus and he suffered eternally for ALL our sins. The Climax was his cry to his Father at his Abandonment.

Jesus was metaphorically cast into the Lake of Fire during the 3 hours of Darkness but suffering everything of that Lake of Fire/Torments with it nonetheless on the Cross. And He might as well be a fellow sufferer along all the damned in the Lake of Fire and suffering all their punishment himself all at once with Infinite duration.


Response #29:

It is a fact that our Lord's death for our sins once the darkness fell on Calvary was in its smallest part more excruciatingly painful than all of human suffering combined – and He died for ALL. So I commend you that your realize this. Please see the links: "The Spiritual Death of Christ" and "Christ's spiritual death".

However, our Lord did not shed "drops of blood"; that entire passage is an interpolation which is not part of the Bible. If you read all four gospel accounts carefully, you will see that our Lord was not "scared" but resolved to do the Father's will and endure the judgment of the cross in order to save us, the "joy set before Him" (Heb.12:2); the quotation from Psalm 42 ("My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death") is said for our benefit, to give us some idea of the inestimably difficult salvation He was about to accomplish on our behalf. Also, the death He died for us He died during those three hours; it cannot be quantified – but it is over (cf. Heb.9:26).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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