Category Archives: Bible

Does the Bible Condone Illegal Immigration?

A rabbi and a priest led a protest gathering at the San Diego/Tijuana border. It was a Judeo-Christian defense of illegal immigration. The priest cited the principle of Christian charity while the rabbi compared it to Israel’s sojourn in Egypt (Exodus 22:21).

Catholic priest Roger Vermalen Karban posted an article this week titled,

The Bible Tells Us So: Concern for Immigrants is at the Heart of Faith

The title of the commentary reveals the author’s bias, and since I have recently posted an article on this topic I will only touch briefly on one or two points. Specifically, his citation of the prophet Malachi:

One of the last of the scriptural prophets — Malachi — couldn’t be clearer:

“I (Yahweh) will be swift to bear witness … against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says Yahweh of hosts” (3:5).

My response:

Why is it so difficult for people to understand that the issue is not about immigration, but unlawful violation of a nation’s borders?

As sojourners in Egypt the Jews were not illegal immigrants. They entered lawfully at the invitation of Pharaoh (Genesis 45:17-20).

Today, the issue is that 11 million foreign nationals have entered the United States illegally.

Illegally.

Ancient Israel did not have open borders. A sojourner in Israel represented one of three classifications — indentured servant, traveler, or proselyte (typically a Gentile who converted to Judaism.) Their residency was in accordance with Israeli law. Generally, a sojourner might best be described as a naturalized citizen.

In contrast, millions of “immigrants” have violated the laws and sovereignty of the United States by illegally crossing the border and residing in the country.

The author’s quotation of Malachi 3:5 is misleading. With regards to the “oppression of aliens” I would argue that the United States has been more than hospitable, generous, and tolerant. The Hebrew word גֵּר (ḡêr) can mean alien, stranger, foreigner, immigrant, or sojourner — all of whom were expected to abide by the laws of Israel.

Guwr, from which ḡêr is derived, means properly “a guest”. Illegal resident aliens are not exactly invited guests — certainly not like Jacob and his family.

To cite the Bible in defense of illegal immigration is, frankly, dishonest and deceitful.

Nancy Pelosi recently held a town meeting where, speaking in defense of illegal immigrants, she noted that they just wanted to come here and work hard.

What was that? They want to come here and work hard?

How can they obtain a job if it is unlawful for an employer to hire an illegal immigrant? Why did Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, withdraw his nomination? Because it was revealed that he hired an illegal immigrant. The Democrats feigned disingenuous outrage while yet clamoring for free and open borders.

No, illegal immigrants cannot be compared to the Jewish sojourners who dwelt in Egypt. Their story ended in Exodus out of Egypt. I don’t see 11 million unlawful residents parting the Rio Grande to return to Mexico.

Notes:

Speaking of Nancy Pelosi, she said that Americans can breathe a sigh of relief that Trumpcare which would have impacted them directly was withdrawn from a House vote.

Impacted them directly? Isn’t that what Obamacare has done? I can’t afford the premiums and deductibles. I can’t choose the plan I want. And I can’t see the doctor of my choice.

A caller to the Rick Roberts radio show complained that his son’s doctor visit cost over $1,000. The man said he couldn’t afford to pay, and asked if they had a cash price.

Yes, $200.

Why the difference? Because insured costs factor in a lot of paperwork, authorization and reimbursement.

For the record, I’m glad the Republican bill was not considered. The government — and insurance companies — have to get out of the health care business. We need a free market system like the guy who paid $200 for his son’s office visit.

Historically, medical care has been a target of totalitarian regimes. It’s all about denying you the freedom of choosing the best health care options for you and your family.

The insurance model tacks on a heavy premium because the insurers are in it to make money. That’s all well and good for their financial health, but not so much for your physical health.

I’m just sayin’ …

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Judge Ye Not

judge1

Do not judge so that you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1).

One of the most misunderstood (and misquoted) verses in the Bible is where Jesus commands us to not judge.

It is a convenient response to Christian expression that is otherwise deemed unfavorable by the one leveling the charge. To say that one is being judgmental is, in fact, casting judgment.

If I don’t like what someone says I am making a judgment on their expression. Now, their expression may be sound, but that doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s not even an expression, but a behavior. Let’s say my neighbor gets drunk every night, and I tell him he should stop drinking. I’m passing judgment on my neighbor, and that would be a sin according to those who say we should not judge. It would be a sin if I staggered over with a bottle of whiskey in hand, and told my neighbor to put down his can of beer. That’s the context in which Jesus is speaking. Reading further down in the passage Jesus says to take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5). In other words, sober up, put down that bottle of whiskey, then go to your neighbor and discuss his drinking problem.

judge2

To so cavalierly accuse Christians of being judgmental is really wearing thin. We live in a world where Christian expression is muzzled. We are not allowed to take a moral stand, have an opinion or quote the Bible without fear of being charged with hate speech. It’s preposterous, but if you level the charge often enough it becomes the truth; and Christians find themselves marginalized in a society that is predominantly anti-Christian. The lie becomes the truth — we are judgmental bigots.

Let’s examine more closely the Matthean passage. In the very next verse (Matthew 7:6) Jesus says:

Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Is Jesus telling us to judge? Clearly, there are unbelievers — characterized as dogs and swine — that we are to avoid. Dust off your feet, save your breath, exercise discernment (judgment) and do not share the Good News with such people.

Jesus said that? Seems kind of harsh in light of His earlier commandment to not judge. It’s only a problem if we don’t compare scripture with scripture, and in context. Obviously, we are to judge with righteous judgment which John Gill described as a sense and judgment of things, according to the truth and evidence of them. [1]

Paul, a chosen instrument of Christ, wrote:

The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one (1 Corinthians 2:15).

What is Paul saying? That the Christian man or woman who is endowed with the Holy Spirit shall judge (or discern) all things, but shall be judged by no one who judges by feelings like one who is blind.

The assembly at Corinth was a complete mess. Paul wrote three, maybe four letters of correction to the disordered church. The congregation was rife with shameful behavior — idolatry, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, greed, thievery, drunkenness and all manner of defilement including the man who was caught sleeping with his father’s wife. Not even the pagans, wrote Paul, tolerated such behavior.

How did the church descend into such chaos? No one wanted to judge another’s behavior. They subscribed to a live-and-let-live attitude. It was a truly bacchanal society. Do your own thing — don’t judge me and I won’t judge you.

Paul laid down the law (1 Corinthians 6:2-3):

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

Pastor John MacArthur:

It should be noted that this passage has erroneously been used to suggest that believers should never evaluate or criticize anyone for anything. Our day hates absolutes, especially theological and moral absolutes, and such simplistic interpretation provides a convenient escape from confrontation. Members of modern society, including many professing Christians, tend to resist dogmatism and strong convictions about right and wrong. Many people prefer to speak of all-inclusive love, compromise, ecumenism, and unity.

If this greatest sermon by our Lord teaches anything, it teaches that His followers are to be discerning and perceptive in what they believe and in what they do, that they must make every effort to judge between truth and falsehood, between the internal and the external, between reality and sham, between true righteousness and false: righteousness — in short, between God’s way and all other ways. [2]

Judgment can be defined as condemnation, or discernment. No one has the right to condemn. That is the Divine prerogative of Almighty God. But to say that Christians don’t have the right, or responsibility to exercise discernment is to strip us of our Divine calling to be light and salt. Light exposes, salt burns; And this is the judgment, saith our Lord, the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil (John 3:19).

Judgmental? Tell it to the Lord, but as for me I will continue to expose the darkness.

Notes:

1. John Gill, An Exposition of the New Testament (3 vols., 1746-8).

2. John MacArthur, Judging Others: The Verse Pagans Love to Quote, April 19, 2016.

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Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

The Most Difficult Verse in the Bible

Double fulfillment of prophecy makes no sense to a Jew. I am confounded by Dispensationalists, in particular, who explain away difficult Bible verses to the second and third degree.

Some would have Jesus return once to resurrect the saints, and again to judge the world; but this disagrees with the word of our Lord (John 5:28-29).

Jews believe that the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel the prophet was fulfilled at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. Jesus, however, said that it was yet to be fulfilled — as interpreted by this author in 70 AD ( Matthew 24:15).

Some evangelicals see a more complete fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy when the Antichrist desecrates the Third Temple — a temple which does not even stand.

We might as well throw hermeneutics out the window, and discard all rules of proper exegesis. Absent sound principles we can make the Bible say anything.

Theodore of Mopsuesti (350-428 AD) wrote that it was unwise to apply scripture both historically and allegorically.

Milton S. Terry wrote that scripture must have one sense, or no sense at all:

… the moment we admit the principle that portions of Scripture contain an occult or double sense, we introduce an element of uncertainty in the Sacred Volume, and unsettle all scientific interpretation.

With that brief introduction let us now examine what I believe to be the most difficult verse in the Bible — Isaiah 7:14.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:22-23 declares that the prophecy was fulfilled at the birth of Jesus:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Behold! The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means, “God with us”).

Here’s the context. When Ahaz was king of Judah, Israel (the ten northern tribes) and Damascus forged an alliance to conquer Judah (the southern kingdom). Ahaz sought an alliance with Assyria to resist the threat, but the LORD (speaking through the prophet) comforted the people with the assurance of Divine protection on the condition that they believe the word of the LORD.

The LORD instructed the prophet to assure the king that his enemies would be laid waste within 65 years.

Ahaz was prompted to ask of the LORD a sign, but the king answered, “I will not test the LORD”. This angered YHWH who, ignoring Ahaz, then gave a sign to the house of David that a virgin would give birth to a son.

The Rabbis do not believe that this is speaking of the Messiah — that the missionaries (Christians) have corrupted the meaning of the text.

‛Almâh (עלמה) is derived from the Hebrew word ‛âlam (עלם) which means to hide, or conceal; and though it may be interpreted as maiden the context dictates that it be understood as virgin for in ancient days unmarried girls of marriageable age were hidden from the general population.

That Christians corrupted the true meaning is an invalid charge. New Testament writers referenced the Septuagint which was a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. In Alexandria (Egypt), 270 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, 72 Jewish scholars (six from each of the twelve tribes) translated the Hebrew Bible into Koine Greek. It was an accepted translation for 300 years — that is, until the crucifixion of our Lord.

Rabbis believed that the birth of Mashiac would be a supernatural event. The “72” translated ‛almâh as virgin (parthenos) in the Greek translation — for a common, ordinary birth would be less than a miraculous sign.

Additionally, the original Hebrew includes the definite article so that the passage should read, the virgin shall conceive

This is seen also in the story of Rebekah drawing water from the well — when the virgin (hā·‘al·māh) cometh forth to draw water

When the evangelist Mattityahu (Matthew) interpreted the prophet Ysha’yah (Isaiah) he referenced the Septuagint and saw the fulfillment of the prophecy in the virgin birth of Christ.

Ellicott wrote:

It is not so easy for us, as it seemed to St. Matthew, to trace in Isaiah’s words the meaning which he assigns to them.

Jesus would not be born for 700 years. How would His birth be a sign to Judah and King Ahaz in the imminent threat posed by their northern neighbors, Israel and Syria? Not to mention that before the child came of age — that is, was able to know right from wrong — the enemies of the southern kingdom would be laid waste.

When we turn to chapter 8 of Isaiah we read that the prophet has conjugal relations with his wife (the prophetess) who conceives and bears a son.

And the LORD speaks to the prophet that before the son is old enough to cry out ‘My father’ or ‘My mother’ Damascus would be taken away by Assyria.

To summarize, YHWH assured Judah that Israel and Damascus would be laid waste within 65 years. When Ahaz refused a sign from the LORD, Jehovah gave a sign to the house of David — that a virgin would conceive and give birth to a son. Before he came of age the enemies of Judah would become a wasteland.

Isaiah’s wife then conceives, and gives birth to a son who — before he can speak — will be a sign of the Assyrian conquest of Judah’s enemies.

Assyria, with whom Judah was allied, conquered Syria (Damascus), and carried Israel into captivity.

Dilemma?

Calvin believed as some Rabbis that the birth of Isaiah’s son in chapter 8 was a fulfillment of the birth prophesied in chapter 7, but not in the sense of a double fulfillment. The prophetess was neither a virgin nor a maiden. It is Jewish tradition that Isaiah’s wife was the mother of his first-born son, Shear-jashub (whose mane means remnant returns). Thus, there would be nothing supernatural about the birth of a second son.

When the prophets received a vision or word from the LORD they understood it provincially. Some expositors believe that Isaiah received the prophecy of the virgin birth in a vision not understanding what he was seeing. Moreover, the sign was not to King Ahaz — for he angered the LORD — but to the house of David to which the LORD had an everlasting covenant.

Be mindful that the LORD had promised Judah deliverance from their enemies if only they would believe:

… If you will not believe, you surely shall not last (Isaiah 7:9).

We know further that the birth of Isaiah’s son was not a sign of salvation as the remainder of chapter 8 reveals the LORD’s displeasure with Judah, and it’s eventual fall to Assyria with whom Ahaz had allied in disobedience to the providence of the LORD.

So, then, what remains?

The answer to this difficult problem is found in Isaiah 9:6-7 where the prophet recalls the promised son whose birth is yet fulfilled:

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this …

The LORD’s (יהוה של) promise to the house of David (דָּוִד), thus fulfilled at the birth of Christ (ישו) — and nowhere else in the Holy Bible — confirmed by Mattityahu (מַתִּתְיָהוּ‎) that Yeshua (ישוע), born of the virgin Miryam (מִרְיָם), and by His own testimony is the spiritual and literal fulfillment of the Law and Prophets.

Just as He told His disciples:

Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44).

One sense … one fulfillment … one Messiah.

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

End Times Theology

The beloved radio pastor teaches that the wrath to come is a reference to the future Great Tribulation. In this premillennial scenario, the church is raptured then God unleashes His wrath and judgment upon the unbelievers who are left behind. This precedes the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ (with the resurrected saints of God). Our study verses are found in Paul’s letters to the assembly at Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 5:9

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:1

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him …

I was doing a Bible study with an online group who are premillennial (PM). They also associated the wrath to come with the (great) tribulation. So, this is their theology: There is coming a 7-year period of tribulation, and the church will escape this wrath when Christ returns to rapture the elect; but this is not the Second Coming according to the PM doctrine. The wrath to come and the tribulation, by this interpretation, are the same event, but not the second Advent of Christ.

To support this argument they said that the coming of our Lord and being gathered to Him are two separate events. In other words, the Second Coming is disassociated from the rapture of the church.

Folks, the Second Coming is not a two-stage process. Some even teach a three-stage event. Christ returns to rapture His church … He comes again to establish His millennial reign … and yet a third time (at the end of the age) in judgment.

This is all too confusing and at odds with Scripture. Following is the comment I left at the online study:

This argument is very forced and unconvincing; and hinges on inserted suppositions to support a PM bias. (It’s a good example of eisegesis — making the Bible say what we think is true.)

The coming of Christ … and our gathering to Him … are not two separate events. They are one event. At the Second Coming, Christ will call out His church (rapture), execute judgment upon the earth (as described in 2 Peter 3:10), and establish the New Heavens and earth where the resurrected saints will dwell.

In this way the church will escape the wrath to come — not the tribulation, but the judgment of the last day. God’s final judgment upon the earth is the wrath to come spoken of by Paul. Believers will not suffer this judgment.

Jesus tells us several times in John 6 that He will come on the last day to raise up believers unto eternal life; and in John 5:28-29 our Lord said that the hour is coming when all will be resurrected either to life or judgment.

Finally, the 6th Seal in Revelation 6 says absolutely nothing about the rapture. It does speak of the Lamb’s wrath (judgment) upon the world; and I would agree that the church will have already been removed.

So, while the Second Coming and rapture are one event — wrath and tribulation are not. In this world, said Jesus, we will have tribulation (John 16:33); but only by the grace of God shall we escape His judgment … on the last day at the coming of our Lord and Savior.

In summary, there is only one Second Coming at which time the church will be raptured, judgment executed, and the heavens and earth restored. This is the last day, or day of the Lord, spoken of by Messiah.

In Judaism, wrath is understood as God’s judgment in the context of destruction over salvation. Look again at what Paul said:

For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wrath, or salvation is the destiny of all people. You and I are appointed, or predestined, to either destruction or redemption. Wait just a moment. I’m not saying that you were fated at birth to be destroyed or saved in the Calvinist sense of predestination. The Jewish sense of this appointment is that God determined in the beginning that man’s end would either be judgment or salvation. Rest assured that God does not draw straws to determine your fate. John Calvin perverted this ancient Judaic teaching.

May I divert on that point for just a moment? If you take the false teachings of the Catholic Church and stack them up against the heresies of the Protestant Church which stack would be higher?

Jesus, then, is quite clear that the resurrection/rapture will occur at the Second Coming — on the last day. With regards to the other assertion, how do we know that wrath refers to judgment, and not tribulation?

Context.

Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians was in regards to the day of the Lord (or last day). Again, in Judaism this term refers to the day of God’s judgment. The Thessalonians were suffering tribulation, and they thought the Lord had already come — that they were left behind to suffer God’s wrath. This would, indeed, fit the PM scenario.

They were also concerned that the dead would miss the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).

The assembly was suffering the trials and sorrows that befall the church in every generation. Paul disassociated their tribulation from the day of the Lord which would come like a thief in the night bringing sudden destruction upon those who are in darkness. But what of the children of God?

As sons of light, Paul wrote, they need not worry about the day of judgment for they are not called to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who will raise the dead and living at His glorious Second Coming.

In the left behind interpretation there will be hellish chaos. Christian pilots will be raptured from commercial airliners, and Christian doctors will be raptured in the middle of an operation — not a problem if the passengers and patients are believers as well. This is fanciful exegesis that serves only to sell books and tickle ears. It is false teaching.

What did Paul say? Like a thief in the night there will be sudden destruction; and Peter concurs as we noted earlier:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

So, wrath and tribulation are not the same thing. One speaks of judgment while the other of trials and sorrows.

Charles Ellicott

The “wrath” is that which is to come upon the “children of wrath” at the Second Advent. [1]

Matthew Poole

Having spoken of two sorts of persons, the children of the day, and children of the night, and the sudden destruction of the one and salvation of the other at the coming of Christ, he here ascends to the first original of both, which is God’s appointment, which is an act of God’s sovereign will, determining men’s final estates. [2]

John Gill

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, to destruction and ruin, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ … The doctrine of predestination does not lead to despair, but encourages the hope of salvation. [3]

The PM contention that wrath refers to the tribulation (from which Christians will be spared), that the day of the Lord and rapture are separate events, that Jesus will remove His church from some future time of trouble, that a thousand years will pass before the actual Second Coming — well, it is all a faulty interpretation of Scripture.

Still, my beloved brothers in Christ, our salvation is not dependent on having a clear understanding of the End Times. We are not saved by our church affiliation or whether we read only the King James Bible.

Ultimately, we are not saved by knowledge (which puffs up), but by the grace of God through our faith in Jesus Christ.

What is overlooked in these specious interpretations is this: How does it change the way I should live my life today as a child of the Most High God? For 2000 years the church has believed in the imminent return of Christ. If you see an article that reads Ten Things that Must Happen Before the Rapture, you would be better served to put down the article and open your Bible to the parable of the faithful steward (Luke 12:35–48).

Jesus could come tonight. Think about that. Let it sink in. Jesus Christ could return before you finish reading this article. When our Lord returns what will He find you doing? Think about your secret sins. Maybe it’s sexual immorality, pornography, alcohol, drugs … whatever. The servant in the parable was found in gluttony and drunkenness. In what manner will Christ find you?

If you’re waiting for the revelation of the Antichrist, and planes falling out of the sky, then just go on with your life as in the days of Noah; but be forewarned by the words of Messiah:

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:36–39).

Notice that He said the wicked would be taken away. The PM doctrine cites this passage to defend their interpretation of the rapture. Sorry, no. Jesus is not speaking of the rapture, but of those taken away in judgment.

To Messiah I give the last word.

Notes:

1. Charles Ellicott, A New Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1878.

2. Matthew Poole, English Annotations on the Holy Bible, by Matthew Barker, 1700.

3. John Gill, An Exposition of the New Testament, 3 vols., 1746-8.

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

Bible Wars

Preface 1611 King James Bible

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10-11).

Readers of this blog may recall my encounter with the King James Only (KJO) advocates. (See our posts, King James Only?, and Between Christians.) This is a good example of what disunity and division looks like in the body of Christ.

Entering King James Only into the search bar yielded over 20 million hits. This debate was rather heated back in the 70’s and 80’s; and many thought it would eventually fade away. But it seems to have taken on cult-like status, and I had a sour reception when I tried to present a counter-argument to the claims of the KJO defenders.

In fact, the whole exchange left me feeling rather ill for days after. It was just a zealous, unloving attitude that greeted me in that particular group, a kind of resentment I have never encountered before — not even with the Witnesses nor Mormons. Brothers told me to dust off my shoes and move on. Those wiser than me have learned from experience that this is a fruitless debate, but it was the Holy Spirit who churned my soul to confront this error.

When I examine unorthodox doctrine I attempt to trace its theological origins. Is it found in Scripture? Did the Apostles teach it? Was it a dogma of the early church fathers, or not introduced until much later?

The names commonly associated with KJO date back to the 1800’s, or 200 years after the King James Bible was published. Succeeding generations found mostly fundamental Baptist preachers asserting the supremacy of the KJV translation. Not even the KJV translators believed that about their work as revealed n their 11-page preface.  The Bible is written at the 11th grade reading level, but the average person only reads at an 8th grade level. We can see even from the outdated language why the Bible needs periodic revision.

Excerpts from The Translators To The Reader presented in the original King’s English as it read in the 1611 King James Bible.

So hard a thing it is to please all, even when we please God best, and doe seeke to approve our selves to every ones conscience. If wee will descend to later times, wee shall finde many the like examples of such kind, or rather unkind acceptance.

Happie is the man that delighteth in the Scripture, and thrise happie that meditateth in it day and night. But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknowen tongue?

There were also within a few hundreth yeeres after CHRIST, translations many into the Latine tongue: for this tongue also was very fit to convey the Law and the Gospel. Now to the later we answere; that wee doe not deny, nay wee affirme and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English … containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God.

… we have shunned the obscuritie of the Papists … whereof their late Translation … bee kept from being understood. But we desire that the Scripture may speake like it selfe, as in the language of Canaan, that it may bee understood even of the very vulgar.

Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures.

In other words … and this conforms with the translators’ desire to publish a Bible that people could understand lest they turn a deafe ear to the word of God …

1. Understanding the difficulty of trying to please all, the translators recognized that in later times their work may be received with unkind acceptance.

2. It was affirmed that the earliest Latin translations were very fit to convey the Law and the Gospel. 

3. Even the meanest (poorly edited) English translation is the word of God.

4. Of primary importance was the need to publish a Bible that was in the vulgar (common) language.

King James presented to the translators a guideline of 15 recommendations that included the retention of all ecclesiastical words and phrases in order to preserve the hierarchical traditions of the Church of England. Where the Puritans insisted on a literal, word-for-word translation (for example, washing instead of baptism) the translators retained the word baptism to preserve the church rite of sprinkling.

We can’t ignore the political implications of the KJV translation. King James wanted the translators to not only produce a Bible that upheld church tradition, but also the Monarchy.

The King James translation, then, would serve a three-fold purpose:

1. Defend the Crown against the Papacy.

2. Uphold the ecclesiastical traditions of the Anglican Church.

3. Provide a readable Bible as in agreement with Augustine that a variety of translations would help the lay person more clearly understand the Scriptures.

The translators were instructed by James to rely heavily on the six English translations that were in circulation at the time: Bishop’s, Tyndale’s, Coverdale’s, Matthew’s, Whitchurch’s, and Geneva.

The Bishop’s Bible was the cleric’s choice, but it was much too anti-Catholic. However, King James wanted the new translation to copy Bishop’s wherever possible.

Called the Bible of the Protestant Reformation, the Geneva Bible remained the most popular, best-selling translation until it stopped printing in the mid-17th century. It was the official Bible of the Church of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I; and was the Bible carried over on the Mayflower by the Puritans and Pilgrims who were fleeing persecution at the hands of the Anglican Church.

The KJV translators were not seeking to produce a perfect Bible. Their final product was, in fact, in agreement with 90-95% of the Bishop’s Bible; and they recognized that a later generation might seek to improve upon their work.

Indeed, there was no need for a new English translation; but because of the Catholic-Anglican rift, the Monarchy wanted a Bible that was not an instrument of the Popery. Still, the KJV was influenced by the Catholic Bible, and even included the Apocryphal books until the 1666 edition.

The KJO advocates will present a lengthy defense of their position, citing an exhaustive number of contested words and phrases, mixed in with a bit of guilt and doubt that simply leaves you feeling spiritually drained, unsure of your salvation and questioning the authority of your non-King James Bible. This was not the intent of the translators.

Paul told the church at Ephesus — by the way, King James wanted the translators to use the word church rather than the more literal translation, congregation or assembly. The Greek word for church (kyriakos) was not the word Jesus used to describe His body. In Matthew 16:18 where our Lord tells Peter, Upon this rock I will build My church, the Greek word is ekklēsian (ἐκκλησίαν) or congregation — but Paul told the Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1–3).

Where is the tolerance insisting that the church recognize only one translation?

There is one verse, in particular, cited by KJO to defend their assertion that the KJV is the preserved word of God:

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times (Psalm 12:6).

This is simply not sound hermeneutics. Compare this verse to Proverbs 24:16:

For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.

The number “7” has Biblical relevance, but in these two verses it is simply expressed as a Jewish idiom. Shall the righteous man not rise the eighth time? Of course not. It simply is a Hebrew expression for many times like when Jesus said that we should forgive our brother seventy times seven.

The KJV, the argument goes, was the seventh English Bible, perfect in translation and purely refined. It is the Authorized Text from God.

The KJV translators, on the other hand, while noting the variances in Biblical text, stated that none of the textual differences that were present in the available translations altered essential Christian doctrine. They all were fit to teach the Law and Gospel.

With that I shall dust off my feet, and dig in to my (gasp!) NASB — oh, what blasphemy!

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

For Leaven’s Sake!

Parables

Hermeneutics. The first time I heard that word I thought, “Herman knew … what?” The word is commonly interchanged with exegesis which simply refers to the method of interpreting written text. In this case our written text is the Holy Bible. (When we make the Bible say what we want it to say that is called eisegesis.)

As of this writing the beloved radio pastor (my regular readers know to whom I’m referring) is going through the Gospel of Matthew. I would like to focus our attention on one of the parables of Jesus. There are two common interpretations of Matthew 13:33:

The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.

The pastor teaches that leaven is the subject of this parable. The three measures of flour represents the Gospel, and the woman is the principle of evil who kneads false teaching into the Word.

Until it is all leavened? What the pastor is saying is that the kingdom of heaven will become universally corrupt.

It is true that in ancient Rabbinic writings leaven is represented as evil. As the pastor notes it is similarly depicted 98 times in the Bible. In his interpretation, then, we see the word leaven and presume that this is a story about evil for as such it is always depicted.

1 Corinthians 5:6–8

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump

Matthew 16:6

beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Mark 8:15

beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.

Exodus 12:15

if anyone eats what is leavened shall be cut off

If we begin with this association between leaven and evil it then colors our interpretation of the parable. Recall that I said leaven is always symbolic of evil. Is this true?

Let’s examine one of the Holy Feasts of Israel — Shavuot. Called Pentecost (by Hellenistic Jews) it fell on the 50th day after Passover, and was also known as the Feast of Latter Fruits. (We should note that the Feast of First Fruits was celebrated in the week of Passover. Messiah was resurrected on First Fruits, and so shall His church be the Latter Fruits.)

Leviticus 23:16–17

You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as first fruits to the Lord.

As followers of Messiah we commonly think of first fruits as symbolic of resurrection. How, then, do we understand leavened bread as a type of first fruits? This makes no sense to our literal understanding of leaven being representative of evil.

Without going into every jot and tittle of the Law the wave offering was to be food for the priests and, as such, was not to be offered upon the altar. [See Leviticus 2:11]

The Shavuot bread offering is the key to our proper understanding of this parable of Jesus. We, as a body of believers, are the leavened bread offered as a type of first fruits. The old leaven — that is our old nature — is gone. We are a new lump of dough leavened by the Word of God.

Look again at the parable. What is the subject of this story — leaven? Read carefully.

The kingdom of heaven is like leaven. In what way? It shares the properties of leaven. The Word, as a peck, is hidden in a person’s heart, and acts as an agent of change.

The kingdom of heaven is the subject. It dwells in our hearts and transforms us in the renewing of our minds. Just as the yeast changes the lump of dough so, also, we are changed — inwardly, to be sure, but also in our outward behavior, and manifestation of one who walks upright in the Lord.

The leavening process has caused us to become a new creation in Christ; and so much more dramatic than a lump of flour becoming a loaf of bread.

Some will interpret the three measures of flour as the world, the church or individual believers. In any case, those who incline towards the pastor’s interpretation will say, “No, things are getting worse. Where is the evidence that the world is being changed?”

Well, the kingdom of heaven began with eleven men who were told to go and make disciples. As of 2010, there were 2.2 billion Christians in the world.

The kingdom of heaven is advancing in people’s hearts, within the church and around the globe.

Habakkuk 2:14

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

John Gill (an English Baptist pastor) wrote that an ingenious interpretation of this parable had been introduced (after the Reformation) suggesting that the woman kneading the dough was the apocalyptic harlot of Revelation. While Gill thought that to be interesting it suggests that the fermentation of evil would leaven the whole world (and every creature) until the Lord was, at last, compelled to intervene.

Does the Bible teach this? That the whole world must first be consumed with evil?

Jesus said that the tares and wheat would grow together until His angels are sent to collect the harvest. I believe that things will go along as they have been for 2000 years. Some dough will rise, and some not. Some seed will fall in good soil, and some not. Good and evil co-existing until the end. Which means I don’t agree with post-millennials who see an ultimate triumph of the Gospel before the Second Coming.

What I presented was the historic view of the church as summarized by Henry Alford (ca. 1810-1871):

Difficulties have been raised as to the interpretation of this parable which do not seem to belong to it. It has been questioned whether ζύμη (leaven) must not be taken in the sense in which it so often occurs in Scripture, as symbolic of pollution and corruption.

And some few have taken it thus, and explained the parable of the progress of corruption and deterioration in the outward visible Church. But then, how is it said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like this leaven?

If the progress of the Kingdom of Heaven be towards corruption, till the whole is corrupted, surely there is an end of all the blessings and healing influence of the Gospel on the world. It will be seen that such an interpretation cannot for a moment stand, on its own ground; but much less with the parable preceding (of the mustard seed, as the Kingdom of Heaven, which grows into a great tree that offers comfort and protection). [1]

John Gill (ca. 1697-1771), a century before Alford, was an historicist though he concluded that the reader may choose which interpretation he likes best. [2]

As the beloved radio pastor often said, If you wanna be right you’ll agree with me.

Notes:

1. Alford’s Greek Testament and Exegetical and Critical Commentary (Volumes 1-4), Henry Alford, (1841-1861).

2. John Gill’s Exposition of the New Testament, (3 vols., 1746-8).

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Was King David Gay?

davidandjonathan

A transsexual strongly objected to my post on Patti Height, director of Out of Egypt Ministries, whose video testimony I presented regarding her deliverance from the bondage of homosexual sin.

The commenter derided Patti as another of those bisexuals who make money out of fools like you. And I was accused of spreading vile falsehoods about Christianity.

Websites that present a Christian defense of homosexuality will feature at least one article that revises centuries-old teaching with regards to this particular sin. In fact, when you do an Internet search be prepared to be alarmed when you discover that the articles in defense of homosexuality far outnumber — maybe ten to one — articles that uphold traditional Christian values.

The Barna Group is well-known for its extensive polling of religious attitudes in contemporary society. The statistics should be disturbing to people of faith. Ninety-one percent of Millennials view the church as being anti-homosexual. Within the church, 85% of the same age group reflect softening views towards homosexuality.

What you will find on gay websites is a revisionist interpretation of the Bible. The battleground is fought over what I call The Big Six:

Genesis 19:4-7; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:18–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10; 1 Timothy 1:9–10.

You can follow the links at your convenience, but just to review — Genesis tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah; Leviticus commands that a man not lie with another man; Romans, Corinthians and Timothy are Paul’s warning that (unsaved) homosexuals will not enter the kingdom of God.

Even on gay Christian blogs you will find studies by professional theologians who claim that the original Hebrew and Greek text was misinterpreted. For example, Sodom was destroyed not for the act of sodomy, but inhospitality and pride. 

It is clear in the Genesis account that the men of Sodom wanted to know (euphemism) the visiting angels; and while it is true that the city was guilty of these other things it was the abominable action that caused the LORD to act in judgement.

As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:48–50)

What is the abomination? What is it? We have to refer back to one of our six reference passages.

Leviticus 18:22: You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

In context, that’s when the LORD incinerated the city — when the Sodomites desired to know Lot’s visitors.

Gay bloggers will say that this verse applies only to the Levites who were to keep themselves holy as priests of the Most High. That would suggest that the act is … unholy? We cannot throw out sound hermeneutics to make the Bible say what we want it to say. There are Christians who defend their drinking habit because Jesus turned water into wine. There are Christians who engage in fornication because, they say, the admonition was not against casual sex but prostitution. And gay homosexuals will say that Paul was condemning pedophilia not homosexuality. Yet, those very same bloggers will contend that the Centurion’s servant who was healed by Jesus was, in fact, the Roman guard’s boy-lover. 

Supposedly, Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi were lesbians. The marriage to Boaz was for the sake of protection and security. And one of the greatest heroes of the Bible, David, had a homosexual relationship with Saul’s son, Jonathan.

A number of verses are cited in the Books of Samuel the prophet to justify this line of reasoning. Recognizing his authority as a prophet of God it is untenable to propose that Samuel would sanction even a veiled suggestion that David and Jonathan were gay lovers.

Let’s examine one questionable verse (David speaking after Jonathan was slain in battle):

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women (2 Samuel 1:26).

What is David saying? Is he describing a gay love affair, or the fraternal love of brotherhood? If it surpasses the love of women then what is he saying? There is a bond between men — like soldiers in battle, or men in contest — that far exceeds anything physical.

To clearly understand this kind of love all we need do is examine Peter’s test of love where the apostle is asked three times by the Lord, Peter, do you love Me?

That is the covenant love by which the friendship between David and Jonathan was sealed. It is the same idea expressed in the New Covenant where the Lord commands that you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself (1 Samuel 18:3).

Two Hebrew words for love are used in the cited passage, ‘ahab (aw-hab’) or ‘aheb (aw-habe’), and they have multiple uses just as in English. For example, I love my wife … I love peanut butter — our understanding is gleaned from the context of its usage. Certainly, a man does not love a peanut butter sandwich in the same way that he loves his wife. 

The Hebrew word appears 247 times in the Old Testament. It most often is used in the relational sense to describe family ties, friendship or even objects of affection. In the lesser case where it conveys a physical relationship the context of the passage so indicates: 

Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand (Hosea 2:10).

Context is necessary to exegete the proper interpretation of Scripture, otherwise we are imposing  upon the text what we want the passage to mean (eisegesis).

Contrary to homosexual interpretation, Jesus did not say that some men are born gay (Matthew 19:12). The Greek word for eunuch (eunouchoi, εὐνοῦχοι) described men who were born deformed, or men who chose to live a celibate life in service to the LORD. Of course, male slaves who serviced the king’s concubine were castrated for the obvious reasons — heterosexual, to be sure. 

My simple prayer is that the church be cleansed of this deception, and that all who sin will come to the place of saving grace in Jesus Christ.

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