Paul & James – What a Massive Contradiction!

How in the world does a fella deal with the following obvious contradiction in the New Testament?

ContradictionRomans 3:28

28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

James 2:24

24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Extreme Solution

Some may take the stance that James is not worthy to be taken seriously, not even to be considered part of the canon.  I believe Martin Luther, the great reformer, called the book of James “a right strawy epistle”

One of Martin Luther’s quotes …

In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’s epistle is really a right strawy epistle, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it.

I assume the remark was Luther’s attempt to rid the canon of the epistle, and it may hearken back to Paul’s use of straw in the first letter to the Corinthians, where Paul noted that worthless works are “straw…”.

I have always leaned on the thinking that if God the Father sent His Son to die on a cross for the sins of the world, He would have a vested interest in maintaining the message He wants the world to hear.  So far it looks like the epistle of James has weathered 2 millennium of attacks and stands strong.

Another factoid that supports James epistle as worthy of acceptance is the echoing of Jesus teaching within the book.  Check out this table comparing Book of James with statements of Jesus.  Sixty seven verses in the book of James (total of 88 verses) contain allusions to or expound statements of the Lord.  That is 3 out of every 4 verses!

So, if the book of James is to be considered acceptable canon material, how do Christians resolve the apparent contradiction between James and Paul?

I would suggest context plays a role.  Let me explain.

Faith Only

Paul is laying out the method of salvation for all lost men to establish a relationship with God the Father, through God the Son.  It is widely accepted that faith in Christ and repentance of sins are the two components of salvation.  I think Paul is using faith, being understood by his audience, who heard the message of repentance and faith from others. Although the passage refers to faith only, many other passages include the concept of repentance, which Paul plainly taught in other contexts

Acts 17:30

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Acts 26:20

20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:10

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Timothy 2:25

25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

This faith in Romans 3:28 is the noun form of “belief, faith etc.”  It is not the verb in the text.  The action word in the passage is “justified” and the action is performed by God in response to the faith of the sinner.  God justifies the sinner when the sinner exercises faith in the Messiah’s sacrifice and resurrection.

Consider the Old Testament passage the apostle refers to.  Paul mentions Abraham’s faith in the next chapter (5 verses away) and uses Abraham to support his teaching of faith only to be justified.

Rom 4:1-5

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
And to the one who does not work but believes in[fn] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness

abraham-isaac

Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Paul is referring to Genesis 15:1-6

Genesis 15:1 – 6

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”

And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member

And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

In the Roman’s 4 passage, Abram’s faith was in the promise God gave to him of his future offspring.  It was Abrams belief in the promise of a son, in the bare Word of God.

Faith & Works

James. on the other hand is not referring to the Genesis 15 promise, but in Abraham’s continuing, fulfilling, outworking of that faith in the sacrificing of the very son God promised to Abraham.  James is referring to Abraham offering up his own son in verse 21.

James 2:21

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?

James says Abraham was justified by works, by some action he took. 
WHAT?

James 2:22 – 23

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;

and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.

Note that James uses the Genesis 15 passage (the promise of a son) in his teaching, but that the faith initiated in Genesis 15 (the promise of a son) was completed in Genesis 22, where Abraham proved his faith in the promise of God even if the son was to be put to death. 

His actions proved his faith in the promise.  (To God? or to men?)

James is telling us that true faith does not remain only faith.  To begin the Christian life, faith in the Son of God and His sacrifice is required.

To maintain the Christian walk, works will be evident.  If no works, James says there is no faith.

James 2:26

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. 

Summary

I’m thinking Paul is speaking of justification of the sinner in God’s presence, and that James is speaking of justification of the saint in men’s presence.  (James keeps saying – You see….)

There is no contradiction.

When each of us exercise faith in the risen One, challenges will come.  That initial faith, if real, will erupt in obedience to the One who supplied you life.  Not in any vain effort to add to your faith, or to improve your judicial standing before God.  It will be in response to the love and grace of the One you believed in.

How can we not obey, once we have tasted and seen that He is good.


If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Conditional Security – Sealed – New Testament Teaching

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with Splash

Sealing of the Spirit.  What does that mean?

This type of study (a simple word study) is my favorite type.

As discussed in the previous post, when I was a youngin’  and found out about Strong’s concordance, I well near flipped with the possibilities.  Computers were not available to me at the time, and the hard cover Strong’s I had given to me was a treasure trove of data!

This second part of the study, we will review all the New Testament verses that include the greek word translated as “sealed”

New  Testament References

Roman SealIn the previous post, we reviewed each Old Testament passage describing the concept of sealing.  Now that we will venture into the New Testament to discover how the Lord Himself, and His apostles understood the concept of sealing, I feel it is only correct to compare similar concepts of sealing.

Therefore I used the Septuagint to find the greek word used in the New Old Testament translation of the Hebrew text , (which Jesus and His disciples used during their lifetime).

In this case, when the translators of the Septuagint came to Daniel 12:9 and saw the Hebrew term châtham, they used the greek word sphragizo.  

Therefore I am going to continue with the study of “sealing” with the greek work sphragizo.  The following verses use ether the verb or noun of the simple word, and one strengthened verb (prefix of kata)

Σφραγίζω sphragizō – (Verb form of the greek word)

Matt 27:66

So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

The intention of the seal was to ensure that no one disturbed the body. But we all know the seal was broken!

John 3:33

He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

Setting a seal is certifying something, or affirming something/someone to be correct or true. The metaphor of sealing is a common one for giving attestation (Robertson’s Word Studies).

John 6:27

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed .

It is interesting that in the previous verse, men affirm the Messiah’s testimony, and in this verse, the Messiah is affirmed by the Father.

As an aside, the verse could literally be read … for this one the Father sealed, God.

Rom 15:28

When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

Paul went to Rome with the intent of imposing fruit (delivering cash!) to the believers in Jerusalem.

2Cor 1:22

Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

F.F. Bruce, in his commentary on Ephesians, gives us a good insight into Paul’s usage here when he states, “An owner seals his property with his signet to mark it as his; if at a later time he comes to claim it and his right to it is questioned, his seal is sufficient evidence and puts an end to such questioning. So, the fact that believers are endowed with the Spirit is the token that they belong in a special sense to God…Other seals, literal or figurative (like circumcision, the seal of the covenant with Abraham), were affixed externally; the seal of the New Covenant is imprinted in the believing heart.

2Cor 11:10

As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

Paul is speaking of the inability of man to keep him from boasting of the churches in Achaia.

Eph 1:13

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Note the past tense of the sealing. Also that the sealing happened after the believing. Very interesting! Can you tell what type of soteriology I tend to?

Eph 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

The sealing is for the purpose of redemption. Those sealed have the mark of ownership on their lives, and that mark is the Holy Spirit of promise. The mark is easily seen by others, (or at least should be).

What is to be said about the Christian who shows no “mark of holiness” in their life?

Rev 7:3

Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

The angel had to wait until the believers were identified. The “mark” is referred to often in the book of revelation and many times it is referring to believers! See below

Rev 7:4 – 8

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

No comment

Rev 10:4

And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

John was instructed to keep from writing the message of the thunders. He was to “keep it” from us.

Rev 20:3

And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

The one who had a seal set upon him, was loosed for a little season.

Rev 22:10

And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

Consider Daniels message in previous post, where he was told to seal up the prophecy till the time of the end. Here John is told to seal not the prophecy since the time is at hand. Jesus is the seal breaker – He is worthy!

Σφραγίς sphragís

(Noun form of the greek word)

Rom 4:11

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Circumcision is a mark on the body signifying Abrahams faith.

1Co 9:2

If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

The Corinthian church was the mark of Paul’s apostleship. Amazing that they would commit mutiny as they did, questioning the apostles authority.

2Ti 2:19

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

A mark of identity seen by all in the believer’s life, is one who is departing from iniquity.

Rev 5:1 – 2

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

No comment

Rev 5:5

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

No comment

Rev 5:9

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

No comment

Rev 6:1

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

No comment

Rev 6:3

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

No comment

Rev 6:5

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

No comment

Rev 6:7

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

No comment

Rev 6:9

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

No comment

Rev 6:12

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

No comment

Rev 7:2

And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

No comment

Rev 8:1

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

No comment

Rev 9:4

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

Κατασφραγίζω katasphragizō

Rev 5:1

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

No comment

Additional resources below are provided for your convenience.

Strong’s

σφραγίζω

sphragizō

sfrag-id’-zo

From G4973; to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation (literally or figuratively); by implication to keep secret, to attest: – (set a, set to) seal up, stop.

Thayer

σφραγίζω

sphragizō

Thayer Definition:

1) to set a seal upon, mark with a seal, to seal

1a) for security: from Satan

1b) since things sealed up are concealed (as the contents of a letter), to hide, keep in silence, keep secret

1c) in order to mark a person or a thing

1c1) to set a mark upon by the impress of a seal or a stamp

1c2) angels are said to be sealed by God

1d) in order to prove, confirm, or attest a thing

1d1) to confirm authenticate, place beyond doubt

1d1a) of a written document

1d1b) to prove one’s testimony to a person that he is what he professes to be

Part of Speech: verb

A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G4973

Citing in TDNT: 7:939, 1127

The Complete Word Study Dictionary

σφραγίζω

sphragízō; fut. sphragísō, from sphragís (G4973), seal. To seal, trans.:

(I) To seal, close up and make fast with a seal signet such as letters or books so that they may not be read (Sept.: 1Ki_21:8; Isa_29:11; Dan_12:4). Hence, figuratively of lips, to keep in silence, not to make known, with the acc. (Rev_10:4; Rev_22:10; Sept.: Dan_8:26). Generally, to seal or set a seal for the sake of security upon a sepulcher, prison, with the acc. (Mat_27:66; Rev_20:3; Sept.: Son_4:12). Figuratively, to secure to someone, make sure, deliver over safely, in the mid. with the acc. and dat. (Rom_15:28 [cf. Deu_32:34; 2Ki_22:4]).

(II) Generally, to set a seal or mark upon a thing as a token of its authenticity or approvedness; used of persons, with the acc. (Rev_7:3); pass. (Rev_7:4-8). More often of decrees or documents, to attest by a seal (Sept.: Est_8:8, Est_8:10; Job_14:17). Hence figuratively, to attest, confirm, establish, with the acc. (Joh_6:27 [cf. Joh_5:36]), followed by hóti (G3754), that (Joh_3:33). So also of Christians whom God attests and confirms by the gift of the Holy Spirit as the earnest, pledge, or seal of their election to salvation. Mid. with the acc. (2Co_1:22); pass. (Eph_1:13; Eph_4:30).

Deriv.: katasphragízō (G2696), to seal closely.

Syn.: kleíō (G2808), to shut, close; asphalízō (G805), to render secure; sugkleíō (G4788), to enclose, shut up.

Ant.: anoígō (G455), to open; dianoígō (G1272), to open up completely; lúō (G3089), to loose.

Strong’s

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragizō

kat-as-frag-id’-zo

From G2596 and G4972; to seal closely: – seal.

Thayer

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragizō

Thayer Definition:

1) to cover with a seal, to close up, close with a seal

Part of Speech: verb

A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G2596 and G4972

Citing in TDNT: 7:939, 1127

The Complete Word Study Dictionary

κατασφραγίζω

katasphragízō; fut. katasphragísō, from katá (G2596), an intens., and sphragízō (G4972), to seal. To seal up. Referring to a book or scroll (Rev_5:1; Sept.: Job_9:7).

Syn.: kleíō (G2808), to shut up; katakleíō (G2623), to shut down, incarcerate; asphalízō (G805), to render secure.

Ant.: anoígō (G455), to open; dianoígō (G1272), to open up thoroughly; apokalúptō (G601), to reveal.

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Conditional Security – Sealed – Old Testament Basis

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with SplashSealing of the Spirit.

What does that mean?

This type of study (a simple word study) is my favorite type.

When I was a youngin’ (that is a Christian youngin’), and found out about Strong’s concordance, I well near flipped with the possibilities.  Computers were not available to me at the time, and the hard cover Strong’s I had given to me was a treasure trove of data!

Jewish SealThis first part of the study, we will review all the Old Testament verses that include the hebrew word translated as “sealed”  חָתַםchatham (khaw-tham’)

For this study in sealing, using old Testament occurrences will help me establish the apostles/first century believers understanding of the concept.  Therefore the first portion of the study will look at all of the Old Testament verses that include the concept of sealing, found in the Hebrew word defined above.

Old  Testament References

Lev 15:3

And this shall be his uncleanness in his issue: whether his flesh run with his issue, or his flesh be stopped from his issue, it ishis uncleanness.

No comment

Deu 32:34

Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?

This is the Song of Moses and up till this verse, Moses is writing about the faithfulness of God and the chastisement required upon His people. At verse 34, Moses declares Gods compassion on His people, in that “this” that is laid up in store is the need for the chastisement the people of God need to experience. This judgment that is sealed up among God’s treasures is described many times in the Pentateuch, and many believe it refers to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. If so, this sealing was not permanent. But it was secure!

1Ki 21:8

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles thatwere in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

Jezebel sealed the letters with the seal of the King. 1 Kings 21:11 tells us that he seal was broken in order to read the letter and condemn Naboth to death.

Neh 9:38

And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it.

No comment

Neh 10:1

Now those that sealed were, Nehemiah, the Tirshatha, the son of Hachaliah, and Zidkijah,

No comment

Est 3:12

Then were the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring.

Similar idea as 1 Kings 21:8. The seal was broken in order to read the pronouncement. As a matter of fact, it needed to be broken in order to effect its purpose.

Est 8:8

Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.

Similar to above

Est 8:10

And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:

Similar to above

Job 9:7

Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.

A poetic expression of darkness – when the heavens are completely dark, it is as if God sealed all the stars up in a bag. But thankfully the sealing is not eternal.

Job 14:17

My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.

Similar concept as above.

Job 24:16

In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.

No comment

Job 33:16

Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,

No comment

Job 37:7

He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work.

No comment

Son 4:12

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

No comment

Isa 8:16

Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

Isaiah speaks of the prophecy as being complete and that it should be stored away, sealed up among his disciples.

Isa 29:11

And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:

The prophecies were sealed until the One who is worthy to break open the seals revealed the truth of the prophecies.

Jer 32:10

And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.

No comment

Jer 32:11

So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:

Jer 32:14

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.

Jer 32:44

Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.

Some background to these verses

Just before the destruction of Jerusalem, in the days of Jeremiah, God told Jeremiah to buy some land and to take the sealed purchase papers and the accompanying letter (open evidence) and to bury it in the ground. Verse 44 tells us that the day will come, when the captivity is accomplished, that men will again purchase property in the land of Israel. This occurred some 70 years later after the return of the Israelites.

Does this verse teach the unbreakableness of a seal or imply something else?

Eze 28:12

Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

Ezekiel is speaking of the King of Tyre and of his opinion of himself. He was full of himself! Ezekiel is a master of sarcasm!

Dan 9:24

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

A very difficult verse in many respects but the concept of sealing occurs twice, once with the idea of “completion” or “finishing”. A tremendous prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ and His work of finishing of sins and completing/fulfilling prophecy

Dan 12:4

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

Dan 12:9

And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

In verse 8, Daniel asked when the prophecy would be fulfilled. God told him to seal the prophecy, since it would not be revealed until the time of the end. The prophecy would be sealed until revealed! (Hey – I’m a poet and didn’t know it!)

In order to compare similar concepts of sealing, I used the Septuagint, (the greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which Jesus and His disciples used during their lifetime). For example, when the translators came to Daniel 12:9 and saw châtham, they used the greek word sphragizo.  

Therefore I am going to continue in our next post in the study of “sealing” with the greek work sphragizo.

The following verses use ether the verb or noun of the simple word, and one strengthened verb (prefix of kata)   חָתַםchatham (khaw-tham’) Strong’s 1. to close up 2. especially to seal [a primitive root] KJV: make an end, mark, seal (up), stop.   Brown Driver Biggs 1) to seal, seal up, affix a seal 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to seal, affix one’s seal 1a2) to seal up, fasten up by sealing 1b) (Niphal) to seal 1c) (Piel) to lock up 1d) (Hiphil) to be stopped Part of Speech: verb   The Complete Word Study Dictionary

A verb meaning to set a seal on, to seal up. It indicates the act of affixing an impression to serve as a seal on something, then sealing it up as well. It could be done to any clay object: a letter (1Ki_21:8); a bill of sale, such as the one used by Jeremiah (Jer_32:10-11, Jer_32:14, Jer_32:44); a house could be sealed up (Job_24:16); something could be sealed up or stopped up (Lev_15:3). It is used often figuratively: Daniel’s vision of seventy weeks when fulfilled will seal up the prophetic vision (Dan_9:24); Israel’s testimony or law is “sealed” among his followers for future reference (Isa_8:16). It is used in Son_4:12 to describe the bride of the bridegroom as a spring sealed up with promise of delights in marriage. It indicates sealing something so it can be opened only by the one who has the key that will open the seal (Isa_29:11).

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What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – Introduction

 Interpretation

When Jesus said to love our enemies, He probably meant not to kill them

My favorite and I were on our way to a Sunday School class when we stopped by a Starbucks to pick up some black vitamin.  As we were heading into the coffee shop, I noticed a bumper sticker that said something like…

“When Jesus said love your enemies, He probably didn’t mean to kill them”

This bumper sticker “stuck” in my mind and made a point simply and forcefully.  I also started to think of other statements of the Lord that may be misunderstood in my thinking.

Occasionally, in my reading, some of these culturally acceptable misunderstandings of what we think the Lord meant may become apparent to me and I would like to share them with you.

Hence, some future posts will be titled –

“What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean”

As you are reading your Bible, let me know of passages that seem to be at odds with the cultural conditioning we live and breathe in.

Join me as we are wrestling with the text and Considering the Bible.

 

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Jesus in Hell? Response to a Brother

brown book page

Brother

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my blog, “Did Jesus go to HELL?”  I had been looking forward to your comments since Monday.  Many of your points were well stated and caused me to look at some of the post again.

I would like to clarify a few items.  I may have said or written something that was not clear and I would like to correct that.  With that said, I have taken your comments (in blue) and inserted my thoughts for your consideration. 

With all due respect.  It is written… you have a copy of scripture. I read some of it to you when we talked. I believe in a plain normal grammatical historical plenary interpretation

  • Plain
    • When you mention plain interpretation of scripture, I assume that you are referring to a literal reading of scripture. In many portions of the Word, I would agree with you.  Some passages give me pause though.
      • When Acts 2 speaks of tongues of fire, would you understand it to be literal fire?
      • I am sure you do not consider the Messiah to be a door, or a sheep, or a light
      • I think the apostles and prophets spoke to their audience in a manner that would communicate clearly to them, in their culture, language, social structure and religion. It is our labor to try to decipher their message from that environment, and not to read the Word as if it has been written for 21st century American believers.  That just seems a bit provincial.
    • Normal
      • I looked up normal for a definition and found
        • conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural
      • I would appreciate a little clarification on what you mean when you say normal. It’s almost as if the other terms in this description is defining your “normal” reading of Scripture
    • Grammatical
      • Definition for grammatical
        • Of or relating to grammar, Conforming to the rules of grammar:
      • I assume you are describing your method of Bible interpretation/understanding as being different than my efforts. I tend to analyze a passage through word studies, the flow of the sentence structure and the context of the sentence/verse/paragraph I am studying.  I think I am on the same page as you on this.
    • Historical
      • I believe the historical context of the passage when spoken/written is critical to understanding the message. As an example, when Jesus spoke of thine eye being evil, I used to think He was referring to a wickedness of some sort.

Matt 6:23

but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

What does it mean “if your eye is bad”?  Could it refer to a murderous intent, wicked thoughts or evil schemes?  I never really understood this verse until I checked the historical background in Deuteronomy 15:9

Deuteronomy 15:9

Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin.

Deuteronomy refers to “…your eye look grudgingly”.  The most common translation of this hebrew word is “evil”.  

When I read Matthew 6:23, I assumed I understood the phrase “if your eye is bad”.  But when I studied the historical background of the phrase, and how it relates to the audience Jesus was immediately addressing, the application for my life becomes so much clearer.  So I would heartily agree that the historical interpretation of any passage is critical

  • Plenary
    • If by plenary, you mean that the canon of Scripture is complete (plenary = full), I would also agree.

If we don’t believe the scripture itself when read, how can we expound upon deeper truth?

I think we need to understand the Scripture (as much as possible) in order to believe it.  I consider belief/faith an action word Gal 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

and not mental consent, and therefore the day to day decisions I make, exercising my faith/belief has to come from an understanding of the message God has provided.

If Christ went to the grave and that’s it. We are still dead in trespasses and sins.

I do not recall saying that Christ went simply to the grave.  If I did, I spoke wrongly.  What I was considering in the blog post was whether the Messiah went to hell, ie the place of torment.  The few NT passages that seem to speak of the Messiah going to hell are not convincing to me in my study.

What is the point as Paul said in 1 Cor 15? The early church got it right historically as I told you Saturday. I stand with them even though the “Soli Scripta” Scripture alone speaks for itself.

Sola Scriptura is what I am trying to do as I study.  I seek to find how the Scripture interprets itself, and in the blog, I made mention of a few Old Testament passages that may supply hints as to what the apostles were pointing to.

An example was the “lowest parts of the earth” phrase that Paul used in Ephesians.   The OT supplied three possibilities for understanding what Paul meant when he wrote “the lower parts of the earth”

Regarding the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15) I feel you still consider my thoughts to be of denial of the resurrection.  I am not sure where you get that from, but let me assure you that I believe in the bodily resurrection more now than when I first believed.

What is the point of judgment if you are going to be forgiven anyways?

Judgement (krino and its compunds – anakrino, diakrino ) have many shades of meaning, from simply to “discern” all the way to “condemn.”  To judge (krites and its compounds – dikastēs, kritērion) defines the one judging.

You surely will agree that at the believer’s judgement, condemnation is not considered.  Also, we who have been forgiven, will be judged.

New Testament (Greek) for “judge”
G350ἀνακρίνωanakrinōexamine, judge, ask question, search, discern
G1252διακρίνωdiakrinōdoubt, judge, discern, contend, waver, misc
G1348δικαστήςdikastēsjudge
G2919κρίνωkrinōjudge, determine, condemn, go to law, call in question, esteem, misc
G2922κριτήριονkritērionto judge, judgment, judgment seat
G2923κριτήςkritēsjudge, Judge

New Testament (Greek) for “condemn”

G176

ἀκατάγνωστος

akatagnōstos

cannot be condemned

G178

ἀκατάκριτος

akatakritos

uncondemned

G843

αὐτοκατάκριτος

autokatakritos

condemned

G2607

καταγινώσκω

kataginōskō

condemn, blame

G2613

καταδικάζω

katadikazō

condemn

G2631

κατάκριμα

katakrima

condemnation

G2632

κατακρίνω

katakrinō

condemn, damn

G2633

κατάκρισις

katakrisis

condemnation, condemn

G2917

κρίμα

krima

judgment, damnation, condemnation, be condemned, go to law, avenge

G2919

κρίνω

krinō

judge, determine, condemn, go to law, call in question, esteem, misc

G2920

κρίσις

krisis

judgment, damnation, accusation, condemnation

G5272

ὑπόκρισις

hypokrisis

hypocrisy, dissimulation, condemnation

G6048

καταδίκη

katadikē

sentence of condemnation

Judgement has an implication of separation, or even of making a determination between right and wrong.  Katakrino is the term that strictly refers to condemnation, and at that, I am not sure if there is a time element associated with it.  By that I mean, the word itself simply means condemn, not necessarily condemn forever.  The context may supply that information, but I do not see where the word itself carried a time element.

KatakrinoAs a matter of fact, it looks like men do a lot of the condemning (ie the men of Ninevah, the Queen of the South, even ourselves (Rom 2:1, 14:23)).  Other occurrences in the New Testament speak of the Messiah receiving condemnation.  One time the Messiah spoke on condemning, but that He would not condemn the sinner.  He is something else, eh? (John 8:10-11)

The list may be found at the end of this post (if of interest).

(As I am studying this concept of judgment, I have found a much larger body of data in the New Testament than first reviewed.  In the interest of brevity, I will leave the above mini-study as is, know that it is incomplete, and I will return to it.)

So When Jesus said it was better for Judas not to have been born, (Matthew 26:24, Mark 14:21) woe doesn’t have any significance if there is no consequences for betraying the Son of the living God.?

I am going to assume the consequence you are referring to above is Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT)

Matthew 26:24

The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Mark 14:21

For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

I understand your point, but note that the Messiah said “it would have been better” for Judas to not exist than to be born, not “Judas will burn in hell forever”

“Better” is a comparative term.  If I said “I am better than Joe” this doesn’t mean I am equal to the great apostle Paul.  Better simply compares to conditions, but it does not supply the extent of the difference between the two things being compared.  In other words, Judas destiny was defined as being less than the condition of existing (ie being born). A negative condition.

So, if the Scriptures teaches ECT, Jesus may have been hinting at Judas’ destiny.  (A negative condition!)

If He meant something else, (like living and dying under the guilt of condemning a just man), that is also possible. (Also a negative condition!)

Both of these destinies (I am sure there are additional destinies that may be possible for Judas) for Judas would surely fit the description Jesus provides of  “not existing”

At this point in my studies, to demand ECT is taught in this passage would be considered eisegesis.  The verse does not clearly inform us of Judas destiny, other than being a negative condition.

Or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

One verse in the New Testament speaks of blasphemy against the Spirit

Matthew 12:31

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

There are multiple ways to understand this passage.  I will address this passage in a future post as a separate topic.

Or the woes of Matthew 23.

Greater condemnation, v.33-how will they escape the condemnation of Hell?

I guess you don’t believe what Jesus said in v.35 either?

No purgatory in Scripture.

No escaping the judgment of God having received the knowledge of the truth( Hebrews 10:26-31).

If you believe otherwise with all due respect I pity you.


I appreciated this brothers challenge to my thinking, and wish him the best.  Since our discussion, he has found something in me that is unacceptable to associate with.  I have reached out to him a number of times, but he is a busy family man and was not available.  I hope that in the near future, I will have the opportunity to find peace in our relationship.

If you have comments or I have missed an imprtant concept, ignored a Bible passage or represented a teaching incorrectly, let me know.  Look down a few inches and you will find a convenient contact form for you to use! 

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Passages containing the greek word “Katakrino”

Matt 12:41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn G2632 it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Matt 12:42The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn G2632 it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
Matt 20:18Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn G2632 him to death,
Matt 27:3Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, G2632 repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Mark 10:33Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn G2632 him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:
Mark 14:64Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned G2632 him to be guilty of death.
Mark 16:16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. G2632
Luke 11:31The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn G2632 them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
Luke 11:32The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn G2632 it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
John 8:10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath G2632 no man condemned G2632 thee?
John 8:11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do G2632I condemn G2632 thee: go, and sin no more.
Rom 2:1Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest G2632 thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
Rom 8:3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned G2632 sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:34Who is he that condemneth? G2632 It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Rom 14:23And he that doubteth is damned G2632 if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
1Cor 11:32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should G2632 not be condemned G2632 with the world.
Heb 11:7By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned G2632 the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
James 5:9Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: G2632 behold, the judge standeth before the door.
2Peter 2:6And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned G2632 them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

 

Did Jesus go to Hell?

hell-awaits-fire-redDid Jesus go to Hell?

What type of question is that?

Three passages seem to tell me that, between the crucifixion and the resurrection, Jesus actually descended into hell.

The passages are as follows.

1 Peter 3:18-20

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

The popular teaching goes like this – the spirits are those of Noah’s generation that are in some type of prison at the time of Peter’s writing.  The assumption is that at the time of being put to death in the flesh, Jesus preached to these spirits in prison, before the resurrection. To the disobedient, He confirmed their condemnation and to the righteous He declared His victory, and their subsequent being led out of the prison they are in. (See Eph 4:8-10 below for verses that seem to teach this scenario.)

Another interpretation is that he – Noah, during the construction of the ark, by the Spirit, preached unto the disobedient, who are now spirits in prison.

This seems to make sense to me, since:

  • Whoever “He” is in verse 19, the power of the preaching was by the “Spirit”
  • Peter refers to Noah in the very next verse.
  • Peter is referring to a specific time frame – “while the ark was a preparing”
  • Noah is described as a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5) and the souls in prison are described as disobedient.

The passage in 1 Peter in not conclusive, to say the least

Lets go on to the next passage and see if it sheds any additional light on this subject.

Acts 2:25-28

For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

The passage of interest focuses on verse 27, where Peter quotes the 16th Psalm, declaring that the resurrection was prophesied.

A major assumption needs to be made if this verse is to teach that Jesus was in the traditional concept of hell. The term used in the Old Testament referring to this hell is Sheol, which by all accounts refers to the grave.

Even within this passage in Psalm 16 itself, with the use of Hebrew poetry (restating the same concept with different words) the psalmist describes what he means when he says “hell”. Hell seems to be synonymous, in this psalm, with corruption. It is commonly understood that Old Testament believers did not have a clear understanding of the afterlife, and Sheol simply meant the grave.

If this is true, then Peter is declaring the resurrection from the grave, not the resurrection from hell.

As an aside, a very interesting study, for those interested, is the number of times the apostles referred to hell in their preaching to the lost. It is true that Jesus preached on hell (gk term hades) very often, but why didn’t the apostles keep up the message? That particular topic is for another time!

Given the last two passages, and the possibility (probability) of alternative interpretations, is this teaching depending on assumptions instead of Bible teaching for support?

The last passage that seems to support the teaching that Jesus visited hell is the following.

Ephesians 4:8-10

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  

(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

captivity captiveWhen Paul mentions that He descended into the lower parts of the earth, is it a safe assumption that he meant hell?  I taught that for decades and assumed it was without fault.  After all, what else could he mean?

I have a greater appreciation for the Word, now that I have finally understood that Paul, along with the rest of the New Testament authors, were preaching the risen Christ from the Old Testament. When a passage like Ephesians 4:9 is compared with the Old Testament, and found to shed light on a weak assumption, I will gladly confess my error.

Consider what I found after a simple search.

Psa 63:6-11

When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.
But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

This passage uses the very same phrase Paul uses, and seems to describe Sheol within the context. Simply defining the grave. Nothing to see here folks – lets move along!.

Isa 44:21 – 25

Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.
Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.
Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that preadeth
abroad the earth by myself;
That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;

Realizing Isaiah is using Hebrew poetry, the “lower parts of the earth” are coupled with “ye heavens”. The very next verse, Isaiah 44:24, is coupling heaven and earth, and seem to be defining the “lower parts of the earth” as simply “the earth”

At the very least, it would not prove that “the lower parts” are necessarily hell.

One other passage that I find amazing is the following.

Psa 139:12 – 16

Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

lowest parts of the earthBased on the passage in Psalm 139:15, the lowest parts of the earth, are referring to the womb. This is an incredible passage in light of Ephesians.

Granted, it is not the exact phrase that Paul used in Ephesians 4:9, but it shows the difference between my independent interpretation (lower parts of the earth = hell), compared with Scripture interpreting Scripture.

In view of the previous three Old Testament verses, Ephesians 4:9 could be referring to

  • “the grave” (Psa 63:9) – This interpretation seems to have some strength based on the passage in Acts.
  • “the earth” (Isa 44:23) – This interpretation would coincide with the incarnation of the Messiah.
  • “the womb” (Psalm 139:15) – This interpretation would also coincide with the incarnation of the Messiah.

I have also understood that Paul may be referring to the class of people Jesus came to be among, that is, the lower class. This is a possibility and a teaching that Paul has brought up in his writings before.

With all of this being said, I find there to be very little Biblical support for the popular teaching that Jesus visited our traditional concept of hell, ie. a holding place of suffering for the lost.

What think ye?

 

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Conditional Security – Colossians 1:21-23

Conditional Security - if-150x150 - Red with SplashYears ago, when I was merely beginning to consider verses that may hint at the possibility of a chance that conditional security could have a tiny opportunity of gaining credibility in my understanding, this particular verse may have been the culprit that started my “descent into heresy”.

The circumstances, combined with my studying this verse in Colossians, seemed to be completely unrelated. It came about because I was meeting with a bunch of word of faith “believers”. I had been visiting with them, trying to understand their thinking, (instead of just taking someones word on their thinking.)

Anyhow, they were looking at the temptation of the Lord, and specifically the “if” statements the devil was throwing out at Him. I can’t recall the specific clause they landed on, but their conclusion followed the Arian heresy*. Two minutes after I asked some pertinent questions, and understood their settled stand on this matter, I spoke of my conviction, thanked them for their hospitality and quietly excused myself from thier home.

But the talk haunted me and set me on a bit of a study on the word “IF”. (Carl – you need to git a life!)

Anyway, I found a table (see end of post) that seemed helpful in explaining the different conditions in the Greek manuscripts that the English word “IF” was trying to communicate to us.

Colossians 1:23 uses the first class condition. But I am getting way ahead of myself.

Lets consider the passage first.

Colossians 1:21-23

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Like I said, Colossians 1:23 uses a first class conditional “IF”, and some teachers state that this term can be translated as “since”. This would definitely take any “conditionality” out of this passage, since Paul would be stating a settled fact, as in …. Since you will continue in the faith….

Boy, that would be devastating for the conditional position.

But wait! Lets try that same translation for other instances where the first class conditional “IF” is used in the New Testament.

How bout this one.

Matthew 5:29

Since your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell

This verse actually instructs believers to pluck their eye out, since their eye offends them!

OK – Lets try this verse

Ephesians 4:21

assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,

Ephesians 4:21 seems to allow using “assuming” instead of “if”, but this seeming exception should not make the rule. Paul may be questioning these believers if they really heard “Him” to make a point.

OK Carl, how can you say it is the exception to the rule. Check out these verses to consider if translating this word as “since” makes sense.

Matthew 12:27

Since I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.

Matthew 17:4

And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. Since you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

Luke 11:18 

SINCE Satan is also divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?

Luke 22:42

Father, SINCE you are willing, remove this cup from me . . .

John 10:37

SINCE I am not doing the works of my Father, do not believe me . . .

Acts 25:11

Now SINCE I am wrong and have committed a deed worthy of death, I am not refusing to die . . .

Romans 4:2

For SINCE Abraham was justified by works, he has a basis for boasting . . .

Romans 4:14

For SINCE those who follow the law are heirs, faith is canceled out and the promise is voided

1 Corinthians 7:9

But SINCE they are not exercising self-control, they should get married.

1 Corinthians 8:13

SINCE food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat . . .

1 Corinthians 9:17

For SINCE I do this willingly, I have a reward; but since I do it unwillingly, I have been entrusted with a stewardship

1 Corinthians 11:6

For SINCE a woman will not veil herself, she should cut off her hair . . .

1 Corinthians 15:13

Now SINCE there is no resurrection from the dead, neither has Christ been raised

1 Corinthians 15:19

SINCE in this life we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most miserable

1 Corinthians 15:32

SINCE the dead are not raised, “let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.”

Galations 2:21

For SINCE justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

Galations 3:18

For SINCE the inheritance is from the law, it is no longer from the promise.

Galations 5:11

Now brothers, SINCE I am still preaching circumcision, why am still being persecuted?

Hebrews 9:13

For SINCE the blood of goats and bulls . . . sanctifies those who have been defiled

Hebrews 12:8

SINCE you are without the discipline which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not sons

James 2:11

Now SINCE you do not commit adultery, but SINCE you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

OK – I think I made my point. A simple reading of the passage communicates the conditionality intended by the author. So it seems Paul is informing the Colossians of their conditional status before their Master.

Story Time

As an aside, a few months after my study on this passage was complete, I was attending a newly formed Bible study and coincidentally looking at the first chapter of Colossians. The spirit of the meeting was very cordial and I sensed an openness to ask questions. Since I had just learned of this passage, I thought I would bring it up.

NO DISCUSSION ALLOWED.

The leader actually stood up from his chair, and approached me in front of the rest of the group. “The preacher said those verses should be read differently.” Therefore that was all the discussion that was needed. I am sure he was seeking to maintain the purity of the faith, protect the weak, or enforce his leadership, but that night sticks with me.

A couple of practical applications come to my mind from this experience

If I feel threatened by a believer’s differing views, ask yourself…

  • Are you depending/trusting in a man’s interpretation of a verse, passage or theology? Professional Christians may have oodles of learning, but NOTHING replaces self study and prayer in seeking to understand the Word.

  • Have I “finished” searching out the Scriptures? They – the Scriptures – tend to speak of Him, and with that hope, the Word is worthy of trying to understand.

  • Do I discuss opposing views with respect and an honest effort to understand the position? The Word of Faith folks, in my opinion, were wringing the Scriptures of truth, but any mockery, dismissal, anger or intimidation would accomplish absolutely nothing positive. Trust me – I have personal experience of this!

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.


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  • According to Wikipeadia – The Arian controversy was a series of Christian theological disputes that arose between Arius and Athanasius of Alexandria, two Christian theologians from Alexandria, Egypt. The most important of these controversies concerned the substantial relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

Psalm 91 – Who’s ways?

I was trying to memorize Psalm 91:11 early one morning and noticed that the psalmist referred to God keeping thee in all thy ways.

What?

Shouldn’t God be keeping “thee” in all God’s ways?  Unless “thee” is God also, in the person of the Messiah.

Have I lost you yet?  I hope not.

But I never noticed this wrinkle and it set me off on a bit of discovery.  I wanted to find out who was being talked to, who is talking, who are the promises meant for specifically.

And so I began to insert pronouns into the text to identify the persons speaking or being spoken to.  (Being a bit slow, I find doing this sometimes clarifies the passage for me.)

Psalm 91:11

For he (God) shall give his (God’s) angels charge over thee (Messiah), to keep thee (Messiah) in all thy (Messiah’s) ways.

My memory verse opened up to me.  Jesus is the subject of the Word of God and this passage became a lightning rod for me to dig a bit deeper into the text.  Lets go a few more verses and see what we find.

Psalm 91:14 – 16

Because he (Messiah) hath set his love upon me (God the Father), therefore will I (God the Father) deliver him (Messiah): I will set him (Messiah) on high, because he (Messiah) hath known my name (God the Father’s)
He (Messiah) shall call upon me (God the Father), and I (God the Father) will answer him (Messiah) I (God the Father) will be with him (Messiah) in trouble; I will deliver him (Messiah) and honour him (Messiah).
With long life will I (God the Father) satisfy him (Messiah) and shew him my salvation.

xImagine the first time Jesus read this package of verses, and realized it was written specifically to Him. The entire Old Testament was a direct message to the Son and contained depths we will never understand, since the Word is a relational, personal and intimate message between the Father and Son.

This small glimpse into the meaning of this text though, is a double edged sword.  The message of encouragement to the Son of God the Father’s deliverance as an ever present promise must have given much comfort as He walked among us.

And yet there came a day when all and every circumstance seemed to be screaming that the promise of deliverance was void, null, empty.  No deliverance from death was to be provided prior to the cross.  The cross was the goal.

How upside down for my thinking!  The Messiah knew His day was coming and “He set his face like a flint to Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 50:6-7

I (Messiah) gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.

Consider the Messiah’s great faith and love for the Father.  The deliverance spoken of in Psalm 91 was real and the reward of the Father to the Son.  But the deliverance was not as I expected.

You see, the deliverance was not from death, but out of death.   This is the gospel. 

1 Corinthians 15:54 – 56

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” 

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 15 57

Death is the final enemy for us all. 

We are to look on the Messiah’s work on the cross,  God the Father’s great love for us, and the victory of His resurrection. 

This is the gospel and is the great motivator of all holy living and giving of ourselves.  

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