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New Testament Interpretation V

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Question #1: 

Regarding a text presenting the reasons why we have four gospels: 1) "John also emphasizes the fact of Jesus' humanity, desiring to show the error of a religious sect of his day, the Gnostics, who did not believe in Christ’s humanity." Is the gospel perhaps too early to be dealing with gnostic errors?

Response #1:  

 I do think too that the John's emphasis on the events of the crucifixion which make it very clear that Christ had a real physical body (i.e., the description of "blood and water" coming out when His side was pierced and John's emphasis upon that, "he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe" (Jn.19:35 NKJV), reflect a desire to combat incipient Gnostic misrepresentations of our Lord. In the early days, doubts about our Lord's humanity were paramount rather than those about His deity (as is the case today).

Question #2: 

2) "To enable us to objectively verify the truthfulness of their accounts." But if we believe in divine inspiration this is not necessary, although the account clearly strengthen each other when understood correctly.

Response #2: 

I absolutely agree.

Question #3: 

"To reward those who are diligent seekers. Much can be gained by an individual study of each of the Gospels. But still more can be gained by comparing and contrasting the different accounts of specific events of Jesus' ministry. For instance, in Matthew 14 we are given the account of the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus walking on the water. In Matthew 14:22 we are told that “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.” One may ask, why did He do this? There is no apparent reason given in Matthew's account. But when we combine it with the account in Mark 6, we see that the disciples had come back from casting out demons and healing people through the authority He had given them when He sent them out two-by-two. But they returned with “big heads,” forgetting their place and ready now to instruct Him (Matthew 14:15). So, in sending them off in the evening to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus reveals two things to them. As they struggle against the wind and waves in their own self-reliance until the early hours of the morning (Mark 6:48-50), they begin to see that 1) they can achieve nothing for God in their own ability and 2) nothing is impossible if they call upon Him and live in dependence upon His power. There are many passages containing similar “jewels” to be found by the diligent student of the Word of God who takes the time to compare Scripture with Scripture."

This one puzzles me. I'm not sure we have sufficient evidence to conclude that the disciples just came back from being sent, only because in Mark 6 the sending out of the twelve comes shortly before the feeding of the 5000. I would appreciate a brief comment on the view given above.

Response #3:  

It's an interesting application, not an interpretation of the passage, obviously, because the scripture says no such thing. It says that our Lord wanted time to be alone to pray and this is the reason scripture gives as to why He sent them ahead alone.

It's not the worst stuff I've ever read.

Question #4:

So do you think we have a scriptural basis to establish the chronology proposed in this article - that sending of the twelve took place just before feeding the 5000?

Response #4: 

Reconstructing the exact chronology of the three and a half year ministry of our Lord is not easy. The key point in the synoptic gospels is that all three put the feeding of the 5,000 after the news of John's beheading and the return of the commissioned disciples. This would have been in the late winter / early spring of 32 A.D., a year before the crucifixion and resurrection, that is, during the final "year of opposition". John's gospel likewise says that this penultimate Passover "was near" (Jn.6:4) when the feeding of the 5,000 took place. As far as "sending", they were clearly sent ahead of the Lord after the feeding; I don't see in the text provided where the author thinks differently on that point (but I may be missing something).

Question #5: 

Reading the way I phrased my question I can see I didn't make it clear. What I wanted to find out is whether we have scriptural basis for the conclusion given in this article - that after they had been commissioned (Mark 6:7-13), the disciples came back with pride and it is this sense of pride which was the primary reason why our Lord sent them to the other side of the sea by themselves, so that they can discover their fragility without God:

But when we combine it with the account in Mark 6, we see that the disciples had come back from casting out demons and healing people through the authority He had given them when He sent them out two-by-two. But they returned with “big heads,” forgetting their place and ready now to instruct Him (Matthew 14:15). So, in sending them off in the evening to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus reveals two things to them. As they struggle against the wind and waves in their own self-reliance until the early hours of the morning (Mark 6:48-50), they begin to see that 1) they can achieve nothing for God in their own ability and 2) nothing is impossible if they call upon Him and live in dependence upon His power.

I'm just not sure if we can establish such a conclusion or not. One of the reasons I'm not sure is that although the sending of the disciples is described in Mark 6:7-13, with the feeding of the 5000 and the encounter on the Sea of Galilee following later in the same chapter, in Matthew it takes place in chapter 10, so 4 chapters before the feeding of the 5000 and the struggle on the Sea of Galilee. I don't know if we can take Mark's chronology of chapter 6 as accurately presenting these events or not.

Response #5:  

As mentioned in email #1, the scripture says that the Lord sent them ahead so that He could have time to pray alone (Matt.14:23; Mk.6:46), but, as we find out from John's gospel, He had an additional motivation for doing so: in order to avoid being proclaimed as "king" by the multitude who had gotten the free meal (Jn.6:15-16). I don't find any biblical justification for the conclusions/analysis/interpretation spun in this snippet you provided.

Question #6: 

Meyer states about Matthew 13:55:

According to the reading ʼΙωσήφ, there was only one of the sons of that Mary, who was the wife of Alphaeus, who was certainly of the same name, viz. James (Matthew 27:56; on the Judas, brother of James, see note on Luke 6:16). But if this Mary, as is usually supposed, had been the sister of the mother of Jesus, we would have been confronted with the unexampled difficulty of two sisters bearing the same name. However, the passage quoted in support of this view, viz. John 19:25, should, with Wieseler, be so interpreted as to make it evident that the sister of Jesus’ mother was not Mary, but Salome. Comp. note on John 1:1.

Could you clarify this? The reading of the name in Matthew 13:55 and Matthew 27:56 looks identical - ʼΙωσήφ? A different reading is present in Mark 6:3, however. I know that these two were not the same person in any case, but Meyer here seems to suggest that different names were used too.

Response #6: 

M is referring to the fact the "Joseph" as a reading for one the brothers of Jesus has good textual credentials vs. "Joses". As to the rest of the entry and what it might mean, the English is incomprehensible to me. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a translation-from-the-German "issue" where the English translator didn't understand M's point and made a hash of the English as a result. It seems to be some sort of argument about Mary being the Mary because otherwise the family relationships wouldn't make sense, but as we have seen, since the names and relationships are not clear in any case (with many common names also in the bargain), whatever the argument, "for or against" the correct position, it wouldn't be a convincing one.

Yes, I find M's comment somewhat incomprehensible. It's a good commentary most of the time (at least it's mostly rational even when in error), but as Horace said, "even Homer nods occasionally".

Question #7: 

As for our Lord's profession - having read what you wrote on this I take it it's better to consider our Lord a "craftsman" rather than a carpenter?

Response #7:  

"Carpenter" is traditional; tekton means "craftsman". The latter does not exclude the former but the former is overly specific without any scriptural basis.

Question #8: 

Jn 5:28b, when Christ is talking about those who have done good will rise to eternal life? does he mean work or done good as in saving faith or a combination of both?

Response #8: 

For they shall come forth – those who have done what is good to a resurrection of life (i.e., those who have faithfully followed Jesus Christ), but those who have done what is worthless to a resurrection of judgment.
John 5:29

As you can see from my translation "doing good / what is right" I take to mean doing what the Lord wants – which is becoming a believer first and foremost. Compare:

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
John 6:29 NKJV

Question #9: 

Meaning of 1Tim 5:13, women saved through childbearing?

Response #9:  

On 1st Timothy 2:15, the key is the preposition "through" (Greek dia). Here it means "through" not in the sense of "by means of" but literally "through" in the sense of "being brought safely through" (cf. the same use in 1Pet.3:20: "through the water"). Childbirth in the ancient world was dangerous, and Paul in the prior context had just affirmed the authority of the husband by reminding the women in the audience of the deception of Eve. This calls to mind the Genesis curse, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth" (Gen.3:16 NASB). So to reassure the women recipients that they do have God's grace in giving birth as with all other things Paul says:

The woman [Eve] participated in the transgression [of Adam's fall], though she was deceived. But she (i.e., still here as a type of all women to follow) will be delivered-safely-through this [painful experience of] childbearing [Gen.3:16] – provided they (i.e., all believing women after Eve's example) prudently abide in faith, and love, and sanctification.
1st Timothy 2:14b-15

Note: NASB has it right too: "But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.".

Question #10: 

Jas 4:5, Is the word talking about the Holy Spirit or our spirit in light of the lowercase "s"?

Response #10: 

There is no upper/lower case distinction in the original so whether to use a capital "s" or not is an editorial decision of the English translators. NKJV, for example, has a capital – correctly so. This verse is actually a paraphrase of Galatians 5:17 – that is "the scripture" to which James is referring (see the link):

Thus the flesh (i.e., the sinful nature of Man) sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit sets its desire against the flesh. For these two are antithetical to each other, and so the result is that it is not your own will that you are carrying out.
Galatians 5:17

Question #11: 

1 Pet 4:18 "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved", can you explain what this mean?

Response #11:  

This is a quotation from Proverbs 11:31, but from the Greek Septuagint translation, not the from the Hebrew. Peter means this in the sense of a confirmation of his comments in the previous verse: " if [judgment] begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?" (1Pet.4:17 NKJV). The point is that a proper focus on what is to come should evoke awe and reverent fear in all believers since we are going to be evaluated by the perfect Judge, our Lord Jesus Christ (and the terrifying judgment of unbelievers thereafter should make us all the more eager to do what is right now to bring about a good judgment for ourselves then). Paul says the same thing in 2nd Corinthians 5:11 where, having just affirmed that we shall all stand before Christ's judgment seat he says "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord . . .".

Peter wants us all to live godly lives that result in a good reward and not regret, and that requires that we not faint under intense suffering. The Petrine epistles have suffering – its divine purpose and how to cope with it – as one of their main themes, and the last verse in this chapter, the one following the one you ask about, says: "Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator" (NKJV).

Question #12: 

When the Lord states in Ps 14 no man is righteous but states Job/Abraham/David, etc. are righteous how do we reconcile? Is the righteousness he talks about related to work "righteous work" or is he talking about sin nature? I assume sin nature in the Psalms but the works of Job/Abraham, etc were righteous.

Response #12: 

No one is righteous by nature, birth or behavior, yet we are all called to righteousness. No man has his own righteousness, but "the righteous" are those who have followed the Lord in regeneration and have His righteousness, not our own (e.g., Rom.3:24; 3:28; 5:1; 5:9; 8:30). So people, even unbelievers, can "act righteously" to a certain degree, but absolute righteousness is beyond any human being, except for the fact that those who belong to the Lord have been accounted righteous by Him through belonging to the Righteous One, "justified by faith" (Gal.2:16-17; 3:24).

Question #13: 

1 Cor 11:13-14 you use as an example to show how nature teaches us certain things but I don't get that context from these verses. These verses talk about behaviors that were customary during that period and not nature. Where am I wrong?

Response #13:  

Paul tells us here that our inner conscience tells us that a man having longer hair than his wife ought to be a cause of shame for him. That certainly strikes a chord with me personally. It is true that many individuals and some cultures have ignored this (and many other things which are clearly part of the inherent "knowledge of good and evil" we have as a result of the fall), but that does not violate the principle – this response to natural conscience as a norm was true of the Greco-Roman civilization wherein Paul is writing (men had short hair; women long hair); so Paul didn't have to worry that using this argument would run afoul of many people's (warped) appreciation of natural shame.

Question #14:

I don't believe in coincidence [details about seeing a potential sign omitted].

Response #14: 

I agree – there are no coincidences. God knows everything that will happen; indeed, He has decreed it. He often gives us encouraging and affirming experiences, and we are right to accept them for what they are. This is an area where we cannot be dogmatic for obvious reasons ("seeing" involves our perception rather than a truth of scripture) so we have to walk a middle road. On the one hand, we don't want to be skeptics who assume that all such things are "just coincidence" – because they are not. On the other hand, we don't want to go off the deep end and assume that ever little thing that happens to us in the course of the day is a special "sign from God" calling us to reevaluate our course. Both extremes are to be avoided.

Question #15: 

I) NIV SB: Colossians 1:15–20 Perhaps an early Christian hymn (see note on 3:16) on the supremacy of Christ—used here by Paul to counteract the false teaching at Colossae. It is divided into two parts:(1) Christ’s supremacy in creation (vv. 15–17); (2) Christ’s supremacy in redemption (vv. 18–20).

Do you agree that Paul is here quoting an early Christian hymn?

Response #15:  

I don't see any evidence of "hymn quotation"; Paul usually attributes his quotes (cf. 1Tim.1:15).

Question #16: 

An issue I’m not clear about is that commentators, including Meyer, seem to propose that our Lord came into personal existence before all creation, but I’m not sure how to reconcile this view with the fact that He is eternal. I don’t think Meyer denies that, but there seem to be some notion of our Lord becoming who He was at some past point rather than existing with the Father from eternity past and then becoming incarnate.

The false teachers denied to Christ the supreme unique rank in the order of spirits. But he is first-born of every creature, that is, born before every creature—having come to personal existence,(28) entered upon subsistent being, ere yet anything created was extant (Romans 1:25; Romans 8:39; Hebrews 4:13).

And later:

But because the latter in the case of every κτίσις is different from what it is in the case of Christ, neither πρωτόκτιστος nor πρωτόπλαστος is made use of,(31)—terms which would indicate for Christ, who is withal Son of God, a similar mode of origin as for the creature—but the term πρωτότοκος is chosen, which, in the comparison as to time of origin, points to the peculiar nature of the origination in the case of Christ, namely, that He was not created by God, like the other beings in whom this is implied in the designation κτίσις, but born, having come forth homogeneous from the nature of God. And by this is expressed, not a relation homogeneous with the κτίσις (Holtzmann), a relation kindred to the world (Beyschlag, Christol. p. 227), but that which is absolutely exalted above the world and unique.

Meyer defends Christ’s pre-existence also in His commentary on verse 17:

πρὸ πάντων] like ΠΡΩΤΌΤΟΚΟς, referring to time, not to rank (as the Socinians, Nösselt, Heinrichs, Schleiermacher, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others hold); Paul thus repeatedly and emphatically lays stress on the pre-existence of Christ. Instead of ἐστί, he might have written ν (John 1:1); but he makes use of the former, because he has in view and sets forth the permanence of Christ’s existence, and does not wish to narrate about Him historically, which is done only in the auxiliary clauses with ὅτι, Colossians 1:16; Colossians 1:19. On the present, comp. John 8:58. His existence is more ancient than that of all things (ΠΆΝΤΩΝ, not masculine, as the Vulgate and Luther translate).

IIb) Bengel similarly writes that Christ was begotten, but precedes all time:

πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, the first-begotten of every creature) He was begotten; and that, too, before the creation of all things. The πρὸ, which is contained in πρωτότοκος, governs the genitive κτίσεως. Time is an accident of the creature. Therefore the origin of the Son of God precedes all time.

IIc) Similarly Metzger in his apologetical text against Jehovah’s Witnesses (Metzger, B., M. (1953). The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus Christ: A Biblical and Theological Appraisal. Theology Today, 10/1 (April 1953), 65-85.

Frequently Jehovah’s Witnesses make the assertion that this passage teaches that God created the Son. 22 Actually the verb “to create” in reference to the relation of the Son of God to the Father appears neither here nor anywhere else in the New Testament. Here he is spoken of as “the first begotten of all creation,” which is something quite different from saying that he was made or created. If Paul had wished to express the latter idea, he had available a Greek word to do so, the word πρωτοκτιστος, meaning “first created.” Actually, however, Paul uses the word πρωτοτοκος, meaning “first begotten,” which signifies something quite different, as the following explanation by a modern lay theologian makes clear. One of the creeds says that Christ is the Son of God “begotten, not created”; and it adds “begotten by his Father before all worlds.” Will you please get it quite clear that this has nothing to do with the fact that when Christ was born on earth as a man, that man was the son of a virgin? We are not now thinking about the Virgin Birth. We’re thinking about something that happened before Nature was created at all, before time began. “Before all worlds” Christ is begotten, not created. What does it mean? We don’t use the words begetting or begotten much in modern English, but everyone still knows what they mean. To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. And the difference is just this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers, and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds. But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless set. … Now that’s the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. 23 To return now to Col. 1:15 where Paul speaks of Christ as “the first begotten of all creation,” it is important to observe that the adjective “first” refers both to rank as well as time. In other words, the Apostle alludes here not only to Christ’s priority to all creation, but also to his sovereignty over all creation.

Response #16: 

Yes, you have "sniffed out" a problem – a problem with the solidity of faith of the individuals who wrote these things. To be honest, I have no patience with commentators (or anyone else) who is not prepared to accept the biblical truth the Christ is God. As such He never "came into existence" in any way, manner or form. All this tells me is that said commentator doesn't have a clue. I have read all these biblical passages too a few times and am only confirmed in this essential belief of Christ's deity – which is critical to the faith of any Christian. Discussions like the ones quoted make me doubt the salvation of those who advance them. What are they thinking? Sadly, "theology" is filled with this sort of drivel. There is no "reconciliation", as you put it. Christ is God, always was God, always will be God. The doctrine of the Trinity is bedrock for the Christian faith.

Question #17: 

Meyer makes some valid points in his note on verse 15, but I am wondering if Christ being “the image of the invisible God” really refers specifically to Him now being glorified and reflecting this divine glory which He has temporarily set aside for the duration of His first advent.

εἰκὼν το Θεο το ἀοράτου] image of God the invisible. Comp. on 2 Corinthians 4:4. As, namely, Christ in His pre-existence[26] down to His incarnation already possessed the essential divine glory, so that He was as to nature ἴσα Θε , and as to form of appearance Ν ΜΟΡΦ ΘΕΟ ΠΆΡΧΩΝ (see on Php 2:6); so, after He had by means of the incarnation divested Himself, not indeed of His God-equal nature, but of His divine ΔΌΞΑ, and had humbled Himself, and had in obedience towards God died even the death of the cross, He has been exalted again by God to His original glory (Php 2:9; John 17:5), so that the divine ΔΌΞΑ now exists (comp. on Colossians 2:9) in His glorified corporeal manifestation (Php 3:21); and He—the exalted Christ—in this His glory, which is that of His Father, represents and brings to view by exact image God, who is in Himself invisible.

Our Lord was a perfect image of God the Father and all His attributes also in His humble state during His ministry. What is your take on this? An interesting explanation by Meyer of πρωτοτοκος πάσης κτίσεως:

The genitive πάσης κτίσεως, moreover, is not the partitive genitive (although de Wette still, with Usteri, Reuss, and Baur, holds this to be indubitable), because the anarthrous π σακτίσις does not mean the whole creation, or everything which is created (Hofmann), and consequently cannot affirm the category or collective whole(29) to which Christ belongs as its first-born individual (it means: every creature; comp. on π σα οἰκοδομή, Ephesians 2:21(30)); but it is the genitive of comparison, corresponding to the superlative expression: “the first-born in comparison with every creature” (see Bernhardy, p. 139), that is, born earlier than every creature.

Response #17:  

On "begotten", this commentary (by all quoted) misunderstands the vocabulary and the issue entirely. Here is a link on that which leads to the other major links: "firstborn 'begotten' ". Simply put, this adjective bespeaks Christ's superiority as the Son of God over all creation – it is a title which neither implies nor necessitates that His divinity was ever anything but; only His humanity is "of this creation" and that is an ineffable blessing because it demonstrates the unalterable will of God in creating and saving us. FN #4 from BB 4A: "That the word translated "image" here, the Greek eikon (εἰκών), is expressing genuine exactitude is clear from its use elsewhere in the same book: "The law is only a shadow of the good things - not the realities (eikon / εἰκών) themselves . . .": NIV on Hebrews 10:1. ".

So I would prefer something like ". . . over all creation" because the protos has to with rank not merely temporal priority.

Question #18: 

“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
Mark 4:24 NIV

Why is Jesus mentioning the conclusion of the parable of the minas/talents here?

Also, it seems to me that Mark is the abridgment of Matthew and possibly Luke, instead of M&L being the enlargement of Mark. Verse 25 makes more sense of being a concluding remark from somewhere else, as opposed to being original in Mark but then enlarged in M&L or worse, being the conclusion of a shared parable from Q.

Response #18: 

The language in Matthew 25:29 is similar but the principle is sound and thus worthy of repetition. All good teaching is repetitive, and our Lord repeated these principles in various ways and at various times throughout the three and a half years we can be sure. We only have a small snippet of all He said (cf. Jn.21:25). So I would quibble about the idea that this principle "belongs" to some other passage; it is independently important. In this context, it focuses our attention on the judgment and invites us to apply the lesson of how the Lord will judge us to how we receive what He is telling us. Learning the truth invites more learning of the truth and more spiritual growth for the good, while the opposite does the opposite. In the parable of minas and talents, we have to do with spiritual production, but the same principle. Incidentally, this principle of spiritual momentum of more begetting more (for good or ill) is also given in the context of judging others (Matt.7:2) and knowing the mysteries of God because of being willing to do so (Matt.13:12). The more we respond to the Lord, the more we grow and the greater will be our reward, but momentum in the opposite direction leads to all things ill.

On priority, I also think Mark was the last written of synoptics and did have the benefit of the other two. But the Spirit has included what He wanted included for reasons we have to think about and research (in the Spirit) to figure out on each occasion.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.
p.s., there is no "Q"

Question #19: 

Mat 18:11 in my NASB bible is stating the early MSS doesn't contain this verse? Can you expound on this please?

Response #19:  

As to Matthew 18:11, here is what I write in the notes on Matthew: "Verse eleven is not in any of the older mss. and seems to have been imported here from Luke 19:10 (possibly the result of a parallel written in the margin of a ms. and assumed by later copyists to be part of the text)".

Question #20: 

Why is the transfiguration date different in Matthew & Mark versus Luke? Is one telling the story prior to 7th day and the other after it occurred, i.e. Luke. I know this is on your site but I can't recall the answer.

Response #20: 

If you mean why Matthew and Mark say "after six days" and Luke says "about eight days later", it has to do with inclusive counting on Luke's part (a very common phenomenon in the ancient world and the standard way the Romans calculated dates). There are several ways of looking at it. The day Jesus said this "you will see the kingdom" being day one, and the day He took them up the mountain being day eight with six days in between being the most likely to explain both Luke's and Matthew and Mark's renderings (see the link).

Question #21: 

Hello Bob!

Hoping all is well with you and yours,

Someone asked me a question and after answering them I had to think if my answer was correct. They asked me if the Magi knew that the new born baby they were trying to find and worship was God or just the king of the Jews. I pointed out that since the Magi knew of Daniel's predictions about Jesus, that the baby would really be special since the angel Gabriel had told Daniel in a supernatural way of His coming and the fact that a star would be followed to find Him they must have thought He was very significant. But also I told them that orthodox Jews to this day are still waiting for a messiah, a descendant from king David but he is still just a normal man, who will lead them into their old ways with a new temple. But I also said that the ancient Jews/Israelis were not expecting their messiah to be God himself, which is why when Jesus told them "before Abraham was I AM and this is why they wanted to kill Him for this statement as blasphemy.

Their question was all about the word worship proskuneo They said that some translators give this word to other individuals and therefore it may not always mean worship.

I would love to see any writings you have about this.

best regards

Response #21:  

Always good to hear from you, my friend.

Well done!

The Magi were believers, following the scriptures after the legacy of Daniel, and knew of the prophecies about the star in the Old Testament. What I glean from the passage is that they understood as much about the Messiah as any believer in the Old Testament, so that their worship of Him is a sign of their appreciation of His status as the Son of God (even if they did not understand all that we do today about Christ following the flood of revelation we have received in the New Testament). They certainly understood enough to be saved and to be given this unique role of worshiping the newborn King as the Savior of the world. Judging from their reaction and conduct I would say that they did understand, probably better than most Christians today, just who He was/is:

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew 2:10-11 NKJV

It is true that proskyneo, "worship", is something done as obeisance to human rulers of great authority, but how much more is this behavior not appropriate in the presence of the King of Kings? The fact that our Lord is worshiped even though "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Is.53:2b) is a sure indication that the "worship" is a recognition of an authority, power and divinity which lies beyond what the eye can see.

Here are some links to where I have treated this subject at Ichthys:

The star and the Magi

More on the star

The star

The journey of the Magi

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

I wanted to use the following point by Fitzmeyer to support the argument of our Lord speaking Greek:

The same might be suggested by Jesus’ encounter with the centurion (Matthew 8:5–13; Luke 7:2–10; John 4:46–53). Luke gives him the title hekatontarchos, which might well indicate that he was a Roman centurion, or at least in charge of a troop of Roman mercenaries in the service of Herod Antipas (perhaps that is why he is called basiliskos, “royal official,” in John 4:46). In any event, Luke 7:9 implies he is a gentile. In what language did Jesus speak to this first gentile convert? Most probably in Greek.

a) However, from Luke’s account we know that the centurion communicated with our Lord firstly through Jewish elders (Luke 7:3) and then through his friends (Luke 7:6). We cannot be certain whether the Jewish elders would have used Greek, but it would not be a strong argument. It is more likely with his friends, although I’m still not sure if this is a strong enough case to include.

b) Do we know if John 4:46-53 describes the same incident as Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:2-10? John 4:51 records the official coming home, whereas from Luke we could conclude that the centurion never left home and communicated with Jesus through Jewish elders and then friends.

Response #22: 

First, John 4:46ff. is not the same event. A "royal official" is not a centurion nor a centurion a "royal official"; also, this man meets and speaks with Jesus but the centurion did not.

As to Matthew 8:5–13 and Luke 7:2–10, it is true that because our Lord never actually met the centurion face to face, we can't use this incident to prove that Jesus spoke Greek (which He did). However, since it is very unlikely that the centurion spoke Hebrew, someone did have to translate for him. So someone in this group did speak Greek (or Latin; that is less likely, however). And so this incident does show that knowledge of Greek was not uncommon. But there is plenty of evidence for that.

Question #23: 

2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (NASB):
4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5 This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.

Could you clarify this passage? It looks as if Thessalonians’ perseverance in the midst of persecutions is “a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment” - but in what way their perseverance is an indication of God’s righteous judgment?

Response #23:  

2nd Thessalonians 1:5 is difficult to translate but this is a translation issue. Here is how I render the passage:

(4) So we ourselves [also] are boasting to the churches of God about your endurance and your faith in the persecutions and in the tribulations which you are [presently] enduring. (5) These are [all actually] evidence of the righteous judgment of God in His [judging] you to be worthy of His Kingdom on behalf of which you are also suffering.
2nd Thessalonians 1:4-5

The word endeigma which I translate as "evidence" has a forward looking connotation here. The idea is, as can be seen from the verses that follow, the trouble being endured by the Thessalonians counter-intuitively demonstrates and reminds us of the TROUBLE which the unbelievers who are persecuting them are soon going to be experiencing – because God is just. The trouble that befalls the righteous is evidence of their proper forward progress for the Lord and a proof of their worthiness of the kingdom; and it also carries with it a pledge of TROUBLE to be visited upon those who are the evil one's instruments in delivering this temporary tribulation in this temporary world.

(6) Since indeed it is just for God to repay with tribulation those who are subjecting you to tribulation, (7) and to give you who are being distressed relief along with us at the revelation of our Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, (8) wreaking vengeance in a flame of fire upon those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power, (10) when He comes on that [great] day to be glorified in the midst of His saints (i.e., resurrected believers) and to be marveled at among all those who have believed – as our testimony has been believed in your case.
2nd Thessalonians 1:6-10

Question #24:

Dr. Luginbill,

I hope this email finds you well! I am about 50 pages in to Satanic Rebellion, reading it for the 3rd time, somehow it gets better each time. Thank you again for your work, it is truly spectacular. In addition to my own bible study I rotate through your works, they are a blessing.

My question today is about 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 2:14 - “the things of the spirit” that are not understood by the “natural man.”

Are these things the fruit of the spirit or are they as some say, faith itself?

Thank you,

Your brother in Christ

Response #24: 

Good to hear from you, my friend. Thanks for your encouraging words!

Here is how I translate the context:

(9) But as it is written: "What the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard, and [what] has not entered the heart of man, [these are the very] things which God has prepared for those who love Him". (10) And God has revealed [these very things] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches out everything, even the deep things of God. (11) For who knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him? In the same way too no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. (12) And we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, in order that we might know the things graciously given to us by God. (13) And these are the very things we are speaking about, not in words taught by human wisdom, but with words of the Spirit, communicating spiritual information to spiritual people. (14) Now the unspiritual man does not receive the [deeper] things of the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him and he is not able to understand them because they are appreciated [only] through spiritual means. (15) But the spiritual man does appreciate them all, though he himself is not appreciated [in this regard] by anyone. (16) For [as it says] "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who will instruct Him?" But we do have the very thinking (lit., "mind") of Christ (i.e., His truth from the Spirit).
1st Corinthians 2:9-16

I think you can probably see from reading this in context where "things" is repeated a number of times that Paul is speaking of the truth, not as a general proposition but as a collection of individual principles of truth, the very important "things" that are learned through instruction from scripture and thus produce spiritual growth. All these "things", points of truth, can only be understood through the help of the Spirit, or as it is put at Ichthys, in order to become epignosis (sometimes translated "full knowledge" as opposed to mere gnosis, "knowledge") this truth has to be illuminated by the Spirit and believed in the heart of the one illuminated for it to "stick" in the heart and be usable and useful to the Spirit in guiding the believer in question (please see the link: "The Teaching Ministry of the Holy Spirit").

Keeping you in prayer day by day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25: 

Professor, our friend asked me about an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 according to which Paul's words refer to a specific woman in the congregation. Paul's explanation in verses 13 and 14 in which he refers to Eve clearly makes the application universal. I have put this question down also from my New Testament reading. It seems that many of those who want to allow the women to teach attempt to find a way to justify other interpretations.

1 Timothy 2:12 (NASB)
12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

NIV SB not on verse 12: 2:12 not permit a woman to teach. Some believe that Paul here prohibited teaching only by women not properly instructed, i. e., by the women at Ephesus. Such women tended to exercise authority over, i. e., to be domineering over, the men. Others maintain that Paul did not allow a woman to be an official teacher in the assembled church. This is indicated by the added restriction concerning exercising “authority over a man” (a male), i. e., functioning as an overseer (see note on 3:1).

NIV SB footnote to verses 13-14 says: Some argue that "For" does not express the reason for woman's silence and submission, but is used only as a connective word as in v. 5. The meaning, then, would be that Adam's priority in creation illustrates the present situation of male priority in teaching at Ephesus, and Eve's deception illustrates the deception of the untrained and aggressive Ephesian women involved in false teaching. Thus the prohibition is not universal and permanent but restricted to this church’s situation (see Introduction: Background and Purpose). Under different circumstances the restrictions would not apply (e.g., 1Co 11:1–5). Others believe that the appeal to the creation account makes the restrictions universal and permanent: (1) Adam was formed first. Paul appeals to the priority of Adam in creation, which predates the fall. Thus he views the man-woman relationship set forth in this passage as grounded in creation. (2) the woman … was deceived. Paul appears to argue that since the woman was deceived (and then led Adam astray), she is not to be entrusted with the teaching function of an overseer (or elder) in the public worship services of the assembled church.

It is thus proposed that this restriction does not apply only under certain circumstances and 1 Corinthians 11:15 is given as evidence (for this restriction not applying). I understand that this is only a potential explanation, but I would still want to know your take on it. Also, it is not clear to me how this passage from Corinthians could be used to support the non-universal character of the principle here discussed. It may be to do with the fact that it is implied in 1 Corinthians that women can be prophetesses, whereas here in verse 12 they are to “remain quiet”.

I take it that the meaning of Paul's words is universal rather than limited to Ephesus congregation? It seems that in many Christian circles this teaching has been considered as not having a universal application.

Response #25:  

I don't see a sliver of a justification for not seeing this as a universal command – because it is clearly a universal command. It is typical of us all, I suppose, to try and find an "out" when we bump in to a scripture which is difficult to accept. Sometimes we have misinterpreted, but that is not the case here. The times we live in make even the suggestion that women should not have absolute equality with men in all things a crime worthy of being burned at the stake. Don't get me wrong. Women should have equal rights – before the law. And women do get a rotten deal very often in most organizations (I have seen it often). But no one can appropriate something from God that God is not giving, and it is folly or worse to say that He has given what He has not. It is the same thing to claim having the gift of tongues when a person does not have it.

Women are naturally gifted teachers and most of us learned a great deal from our mothers. I learned a great deal from women Sunday school teachers. So there is most certainly a role for women in teaching, just not teaching adult men as pastors of congregations. And of course, by the way, an adult male who does not have the gift of pastor-teacher has no business teaching adult men either – or even a man who is gifted but not yet prepared. That makes the number of individuals who can legitimately teach a congregation very small indeed, especially these days. But I don't usually get upset about this issue at all. Why? Because there is no teaching going on in almost all congregations today in any case, so it matters little whether the person in the pulpit who is actually not doing any legitimate teaching is a man or a woman.

Question #26: 


I don't understand verses 1 john 2:15-17. Verse 16 speaking about desire of body but that can mean for example being hungry etc. in verse 17 verse is just saying that lust of flesh, eyes and pride of life pass away. So for me sounds like this things are not sinful because all have some desires like being thirsty or if we see some nice t shirt. So in new earth our bodies will not need eat drink etc.

Response #26: 

This passage is not talking about basic needs but about the basic orientation of one's heart. If we love the Lord first and foremost, we are on the right track. But if our eyes are on the things of this world, on gaining and acquiring things, on seeking out pleasures, on being esteemed by others and the like, if that is what our heart is fixated on then it is not focused on the Lord, and, conversely, if we are really loving the Lord "with all of our hearts and minds and might and strength", then we are by definition not putting the things of this world first.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27: 

Dr. Luginbill,

I came across your website while examining a few Scriptures about eternal security. I was raised believing a Christian could lose their salvation, but converted to a denomination that was emphatically convinced you could not lose it. After several years of being a pastor and military chaplain, I am beginning to question my own beliefs on eternal security. The two camps I was in looked only at the extremes. One said you could be saved today and lost tomorrow – depending on your behavior. The other camp said that once you were saved, nothing could take that away from you – even yourself. Your interpretation of the Scriptures on this subject has brought much peace and harmony. The key is continuing to believe. I especially enjoyed your exegesis of The Parable of the Sower. #2 and #3 were actual believers. I had always been taught that they had never been saved. Your interpretation of the Scriptures on this subject has brought much peace and harmony.

I do have one question. How would you interpret 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” In light of possessing the ability to wander from the faith? The denomination, to which I am a member, would interpret that verse to mean the person who leaves the faith was never saved to begin with, which does not make sense. Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you again for your wonderful insights into God’s Holy Word!


Response #27:  

Good to make your acquaintance, my friend – and thanks for your service.

Thanks also for your very kind and encouraging words about this ministry – they are greatly appreciated.

As to your question about 1st John 2:19, the verse "says what it says", so that reading into it too much to the point of making it say something different is, in my opinion, a dangerous thing to do. The ones who "went out" were "not of us" . . . when they went out and that is why they went out. We are not told whether or not they once "were of us" or never really were "of us". We only know that now they have left. That certainly suggests that something happened: 1) their falsehood was exposed (so that these people were never believers in the first place); or 2) they lost their faith and that is why they left (unbelievers now in this case too); or 3) turned to a life of sin and are now headed to the sin unto death – believers reverting to the world and flirting with apostasy or terminal divine disciple for their bad witness. Whatever the reason, their departure from a fellowship that is definitely fighting for the faith through love of the truth is an indication of a negative spiritual status, whichever one is in view. And in fact since John is making a general statement about multiple people, it is more than likely in my view that there are individuals from all three categories in the ranks of those who went out so as not to be "of us" any longer.

I don't think it's possible to argue for OSAS from this verse, therefore, or to assume "easily lost salvation" either; all this verse does is to acknowledge that there are those who are gung-ho for Christ (or seem to be) for a time and then are not, regardless of whether they were only faking it, lost their faith, and decided to embrace the world instead. A bad business in any case, and one that actually did take place in the first century, even under direct apostolic leadership and the teaching of the truth in a very pure form. Here is a link where I've written (similarly) about this passage before: "Not of us in 1st John" (see #9 and #10).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #28: 

Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for your quick and illuminating response. I agree that one should not read into Scripture what is not clearly there. The verse does not tell us why the people left, so the OSAS theory does not hold water – very good. I look forward reading more of your articles.


Response #28: 

You're most welcome.

Feel free to write any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29: 

Hi Dr,

I hope all is well. How would you interpret this verse 1st Corinthians 11:10? An expositor bible states this has to do with her submission to God's Plan as a constant reminder to the fallen Angels, who rebelled against God's Plan and the Revolution led by Lucifer, which took place long before Adam.

Thank you in Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #29:  

As to your question on 1st Corinthians 11:10, I'm not sure I would agree with what you have shared from the commentary, at least not as an interpretation of what the passage actually says. We are all under observation by the angels, elect and fallen, and so we all should keep that in mind in regulating our behavior. This is a good principle for everyone to keep in mind at all times, namely, that we are not down here as independent actors who are only occasionally observed by other human beings on earth. We are being watched by those who have departed, by the angels, good and bad, and certainly also by the Lord – who is in us along with His Spirit. If we really took these truths to heart, it would make us more reluctant to do anything or say anything or think anything amiss. So the symbol of authority, the woman's hair which is longer than her husband's as a sign of her respect of his authority, does send the right signal to those who see and whom we see – but also to those whom we cannot physically observe.

Hope you are hanging in there, my friend. Keeping you and your situation and your family in my prayers every day.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #30: 

Hi Dr.

1 Cor 13:10, when the Word says "But when that which is perfect is come". I know it is not speaking of Christ or The Holy Spirit. Could it be speaking of the 2nd Advent of Christ? I believe I read in your studies or emails that is the case.

Thanks for the clarification.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #30: 

You're most welcome, my friend.

"The perfect" is, in specific terms regarding the spiritual gifts Paul is speaking of here, the completed Bible (see the link), after which there is no need for the "partial", that is, gifts of prophecy and tongues which filled in the gap before the entire Word of God was available. More generally, the principle applies to everything about the future: at the resurrection there will be completion for us, and in eternity nothing partial or temporary at all. But the context is speaking of spiritual gifts of certain types, and these ceased to be given in fact once the Bible was completed.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31: 

Kind of a long delay in getting back. Medical issue checked out ok, even though it gave me a good scare, praise God! As always, other problems have come up.

I wanted to ask you about Luke 17:33, can you please give me your take on that, I know you can explain it so it'll make sense!

Please keep my family in your prayers, that everyone may find peace, the kind of peace that comes through Jesus. Thanks and I hope you are well

In Jesus Christ

Response #31:  

Good to hear from you, my friend.

Yes, it'll be a "fight to the finish" – but we know that the Lord has already won the great victory and that we are merely exploiting it, adding medals and ribbons with every fight.

Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.
Luke 17:33 NIV

On Luke 17:33, for believers, the world is a different sort of place. We are done with it in principle when we believe, and after that we are here for the Lord, not to enjoy ourselves in the "pursuit of happiness". That doesn't mean that the Lord doesn't give believers many blessings – He certainly does. But it does mean that our priorities are spiritual, not material. So to the extent that we pursue the wrong things, to that extent we are wasting our lives; to the extent that we are pursuing the right things, we are using them in a wise way in terms of the eternal blessings we will receive. The world thinks it's crazy for a believer to give money to a church (maybe not the best example given the state of churches today, but you get the idea); but we know that believers hoarding money and possessions are the crazy ones:

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me—those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches? No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—so that they should live on forever and not see decay. For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others. Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves. People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish. This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning). Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions. But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them. Though while they live they count themselves blessed— and people praise you when you prosper they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life. People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.
Psalm 49:5-20 NIV

The Lord's statement in Luke 17:33 is an absolute, putting the matter in terms of believer vs. unbeliever as He offered the kingdom to a recalcitrant nation; and it also looks forward to the Tribulation when the issue will be crystal clear again even for those who believe, since life without the mark of the beast will entail severe privation and possible martyrdom – but the other side of that proposition is damnation for apostasy. So the verse is true and applicable to whatever circumstance a person finds him/herself in: unbeliever (better to believe); believer in relatively good times (better to put Christ first); believer in the Tribulation (better to die than to follow the beast).

Thanks so much for your prayers.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #32: 

The meaning of the term " I die daily" in 1 Cor 15:31. You can't die daily to sin because we become dead to sin once and then stay dead to sin always, (Rom 6:6-11; Gal 2:20). This is what a commentary stated and I tend to agree with this. What is your definition.

Response #32: 

"I am dying daily" in 1st Corinthians 15:31 is to be understood in the context of what Paul has just said in the previous verses about all of the pressures and suffering and troubles and threats with which he is constantly being confronted. The result is that he is well aware that his health and life are gradually eroding. Compare Philippians 2:17 and 2nd Timothy 4:6 where the apostle compares this ebbing away of his life and strength to the pouring out of a libation on the altar – a noble and worthwhile service, but one which cannot last forever before the liquid is entirely gone. N.b., the confusion is less if we translate the present as progressive ("I am dying") rather than as punctiliar ("I die"). Greek, of course, does not make this distinction in the present indicative.

Question #33: 

Hello Bob,

Thank you for your last informative email. I had someone make this comment to me below and I was wondering where about I would find some information you may have written about the Gospel writings:

I don't know if you've ever compared them but the infancy narratives of Luke and Matthew are two different stories. Luke has Jesus born during the Census of Quirinius in 6 AD and in Matthew, Jesus would've had to have been born before the death of Herod in 4 BC. Luke doesn't even mention the holy family fled to Egypt to escape Herod's killing of the newborns. Biblical scholars can't even reconcile these two narratives. I've read several tap dances from Christians about them but they've never made sense. There are a few problems with the historicity of the birth narratives. Other than having a difference of at least 10 years for the birth of Jesus between the 2 gospels, the Census of Quirinius in 6 CE was a census of Judea because it had just become a Roman province. This wasn't an empire wide census as Luke claims. Simply google the Census of Quirinius. Luke had Joseph and Mary residing in Nazareth, in the district of Galilee which was a silent kingdom at the time. That means it was neither taxed nor administered by Rome so Joseph wouldn't have been required to go to Judea for a census in the first place. The author of Luke fabricated that part to have Jesus born in Bethlehem(in the district of Judea) to fulfill prophecy. Notice in Matthew, the holy family doesn't go to live in Nazareth until they're on their way back to Judea and Joseph gets warned Herod's son Archelaus is ruling Judea.

Response #33:  

These comments are typical of those who want NOT to believe the Bible and therefore "shoot first, and ask questions later".

As with all things in scripture, there may be a passage or an issue or a statement that at first we do not understand or which seems contradictory, but I can tell you from very many years of experience in dealing with these matters as my primary purpose in life that this is only a first impression: eventually, for those who are seeking the truth (rather than being intent on dismissing it), if we knock, an answer will come. Perhaps not immediately, and often not easily – I've spent very many years on some of the supposed "problems" addressed here, and many who have found help and answers at this ministry had to search a long time to find it – but eventually for all who are truly seeking the truth in confidence that God has told them the truth, the answers are provided.

As mentioned, these are detailed and complicated issues which cannot be unraveled in a few paragraphs, so I'm going to give you the links to where they are discussed at Ichthys, and ask you to have a look. I'm very happy to clarify anything that is confusing or felt not to be addressed – but these are fairly detailed treatments because the objections included here are very common slanders thrown at scripture, and I can assure you that the supposed contradictions are a result of not understanding (and not caring to understand) those all-important details:

On the census: "The Census in Luke is not Quirinius Census (in SR 5)"

On the early life of Christ: "The date of the birth of Christ and the early travels of Joseph and Mary with Jesus" (in BB 4A)"

And on the gospels generally:

Matthew Questions

Matthew Addendum

Mark Questions

Mark Addendum

Luke Questions

Additionally, there are innumerable (practically speaking) treatments of the gospels, gospel passages and questions about the gospels and their contents scattered throughout Ichthys. Some very good places to look for these are 1) the Subject Index; 2) the Index to Original Translation; 3) you could also do a Google search of the site by pasting this code into your Google search box: site:ichthys.com:

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.



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