Daily Archives: 01/04/2014

Must I study the Bible in its original languages to understand it?

DO I NEED HEBREW, GREEK, OR LATIN IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We are constantly urged to study the Bible in its original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek form. Is this really necessary? What is wrong with reading the English Bible?

The argument goes something like this: “The original Bible had 11,280 Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words, but the average English translation only has 6,000 words. Shades of meaning can be overlooked, so we should appeal to the original languages just in case the translators missed something, or in order for us to get a fuller impact of the verses.” You might have heard someone say, “In the Greek (or Hebrew), the word is …. and its meaning is …. , so a better translation is ….” (This is an extremely convenient tool for those who prefer to justify their denominational bias as opposed to allowing God’s Word to expose their doctrinal errors. By appealing to the “original languages,” one can simply “correct” the parts of the Bible that disagrees with his or her particular theological persuasion, and the common man [who is ignorant of Greek and Hebrew] will never know otherwise and will never second-guess the “experts!”)

While there is nothing wrong with studying Hebrew and/or Greek, you must be mindful of the fact that not all Hebrew and Greek Bibles are the same. In fact, there are actually two general sets of manuscripts for the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), and two general sets of manuscripts for the Greek Bible (New Testament)—there is also a Greek Bible of the Old Testament (called the Septuagint, or LXX). It should also be pointed out that, as some have mentioned in the past, you can do Hebrew and Greek word studies without a Bible even in the room! Thus, Greek and Hebrew studies are not necessarily Bible study, and under no circumstances whatsoever should they be used to undermine and/or change God’s Word.

In Bible days, educated religious leaders usually deceived the unsuspecting, trusting, common people. Remember what Jesus said of the Pharisees and scribes of His day: “[1] Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, [2] Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: [3] All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:1-3). The scribes and Pharisees were highly educated religious leaders in Israel. These “lawyers” and “doctors [of theology]” were Mosaic Law experts, and they demanded everyone obey it. However, Jesus repeatedly exposed these “experts” as hypocrites. Despite their godly outward appearance, they were not God’s servants. In fact, they persecuted and killed God’s servants, under the cloak of religion too (Luke 11:45-52).

Archeologists report that a stone seat is found in front of every synagogue: this is “Moses’ seat,” where the authoritative scribes would sit and teach the Law to the people (Matthew 23:1-3, quoted above). These scribes felt they were successors of Moses (a man of faith). They held a place of authority, but they were “blind guides” because they lacked godly wisdom (Matthew 23:16,24). Unlike Moses, these religious leaders were not experts when it came to faith in God’s Word. The Bible even tells us they manifested their unbelief by refusing John’s water baptism (Luke 7:29,30).

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were guilty of faithless religious activity. It appeared good, but it was spiritually wicked because it was hypocritical. But, behold the hypocritical “blind guides” of our day! Theologians and seminarians, “experts” in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin, are destitute of expertise in faith (believing what God said). They all claim to be Bible “scholars” (ha!), yet how many really believe what God’s Word says? FEW! They seek your proficiency in the “‘original’ Greek and Hebrew,” but they have no real interest in teaching you to believe God’s Word in English. Furthermore, they encourage you to join them as they faithlessly mimic Israel’s rites, rituals, and ceremonies (formalism).

Remember, according to Jesus Christ, despite an educated person’s charisma and eloquence, he or she is not necessary an expert when it comes to faith in God’s Word. Furthermore, just because it looks nice, does not necessarily mean God approves it.

“…And the common people heard [Jesus] gladly” (Mark 12:37). Whether in the Greek or English Bible, we read that God’s Word is for “the common people.” Once, after I read a seminarian’s “Bible” study article, I concluded that that was more of a Hebrew study. It left me, a Christian, with more questions than answers. (I can only wonder what confusion it brought to the poor lost souls who read it!)

Oftentimes, theology (mis)leads us to believe that we must go to school for 10 years to learn Koine Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and/or Aramaic, in order to fully grasp the Bible’s concepts. If God required that from us, hardly any of us could ever be saved, or even know God’s will in the first place!!

Contrariwise, God’s Word, the King James Bible, is for the common people. Its 54 faithful, Holy Spirit-filled men who translated it in 1611 knew the Bible languages. They purified and perfected the language of the existing English Bibles to provide us—the common people—with a Bible we could own and read personally (rather than it being chained to a church altar, or “shackled” in Rome’s Latin “bible”).

Mark 12:37 says how our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to the common people. He did not depend on the “educated” religious leaders to reach the common people (these “scholars” were too corrupt, and would have perverted His pure doctrine!). Observe what Christ told His Father: “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Luke 10:21).

The key to understanding the Bible is not a college or seminary education. If you have an ear to hear, an eye to see, and you are willing to study God’s Word and learn, the Holy Spirit will illuminate your mind: “Which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13).

After all, the Bible is for the common people!

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). They were not entirely “unlearned and ignorant….” Christendom often requires one to have a degree to teach the Bible… or, ludicrously enough, even to sing in the church choir (!). Dear saints, memorize Acts 4:13, and let it, not traditional thinking, be your authority in that matter.

Again, studying the Bible’s original languages of Hebrew and Greek is not evil in and of itself. Regardless, our King James Bible says in English exactly what the divinely preserved Bible texts read in Hebrew and Greek. Also, it is critical to note that knowledge of Greek and Hebrew does not necessarily make one a sound Bible authority. Millions of heretics and apostates are Hebrew- and Greek-literate!

Music degrees are not evil either, but they do not necessarily equip us to worship God with musical instruments and singing. Millions of hell-bound Bible-haters have prestigious music awards and impressive discographies: their lyrics and lifestyles are certainly not bringing the God of the Bible any glory.

The second greatest blunder of the professing “church”—ranking just under its failure to study the Bible dispensationally—is its emphasis on education. Frankly, unless you have attended seminary for a decade, and save you have been “approved” by some denomination, you really are a nobody. While you certainly want a degreed surgeon, you might want to reconsider that principle when seeking a church leader! Why? Some of the most ridiculous, heretical, and blasphemous statements I have ever read and heard came from the pens and lips of preachers and teachers from seminary! Remember what Jesus Christ said, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Luke 10:21).

In Acts 4:13, Israel’s “educated” religious leaders were amazed when they observed the Apostles Peter and John. “Look at those silly fishermen who lack our education! How can such unlearned and ignorant men boldly preach such wisdom?!” HOW? “They had been with Jesus.” They had the Lord of glory as their personal teacher, as do we (1 Corinthians 2:11-16). Beloved, be not intimidated by the “sort of educated” (1 Corinthians 1:25-31). 🙂

Also see:
» What about the original Bible manuscripts? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Can a Bible translation be just as reliable as the Bible in its original languages? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Why should we trust the King James Bible? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

What is “Replacement Theology?”

WHAT IS “REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY?” IS GOD FINISHED WITH THE NATION ISRAEL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

According to adherents of “Replacement Theology” (also called “Covenant Theology” and “Supersessionism”), God is permanently finished with the nation Israel. He has given all of Israel’s covenants and promises to us and we are now “spiritual Israel:” that is, the Church the Body of Christ has replaced Israel. While it makes good church tradition, it is bad Bible doctrine!

Throughout the Old Testament, the Four Gospels, and early Acts, we read about an imminent literal, physical, visible earthly kingdom. In that kingdom, there would be no sickness, no sin, and no death (Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 8:1; Acts 3:19-26; Hebrews 2:3-5; et cetera). Israel would be redeemed and protected from her enemies and Jesus Christ would reign over her in a Davidic kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 61:1-11; Zechariah 14:9-11; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 1:6; et cetera). The entire world, but especially Israel, would be free from Satanic captivity and oppression (Isaiah 49:24-26; Zechariah 13:1-2; et cetera). Israel would possess her Promised Land (Deuteronomy 30:1-5; Jeremiah 30:3; Ezekiel 37:21-23; et cetera) and her people, the Jews, would live in that land forever and ever with God Himself in their midst (Genesis 17:8; Joel 3:17,21; et cetera)! God would marry Israel, she would forsake all her idols and pagan religion, and God would make her His people after her captivity and dispersion amongst the Gentiles concluded (Hosea 2:19-23; et cetera). Israel would be resurrected spiritually and given new life (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 37:1-28; et cetera). Through the New Covenant, God would forgive Israel of all her sins and He would give her every spiritual and physical provision she would ever need (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Joel 3:18-21; Amos 9:11-15; Zephaniah 3:14-20; et cetera). Israel would be free from all Gentile oppression (Daniel 2:35,44): the Jews would be priests, and they would bring their JEHOVAH and His salvation to the Gentiles (Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 61:1; Zechariah 8:20-23; et cetera).

Yet, that earthly kingdom of Jesus Christ never came. We are 2,000 years removed from Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the above verses still have not been fulfilled (some of those promises are over 3,000 years old). Today, people still grow sick and die. There is still widespread evil in the world, Satan is still operating his program of evil in governments and religions, and Israel is dispersed worldwide and without a homeland. The Middle East has no rest from war and strife. What happened to that earthly kingdom promised throughout much of the Bible? Was God lying when He promised all these wonderful things to Israel? Will Israel ever enjoy her JEHOVAH in that heaven-on-earth kingdom? (Or, are these prophecies “spiritual”/“allegorical” promises that should not to be taken literally, as the adherents of Replacement Theology teach?)

While much more could be said about this topic, it is most conducive to learning to give three major and specific reasons why Replacement Theology / Covenant Theology / Supersessionism is not the conclusion of the Bible-believer:

 

1. JEREMIAH 31:35-37 DOES NOT PERMIT ISRAEL’S PERMANENT FALL

The Holy Ghost moved the Prophet Jeremiah to write regarding Israel’s future: “[35] Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: [36] If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. [37] Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:35-37).

Here, the Bible is very clear about Israel’s temporary dispersion and captivity—God Himself will restore Israel one day. According to the Bible, the only way God would ever completely do away with the nation Israel is if the ordinances of the heavens (such as the law of universal gravitation) departed. Before God could even cast off Israel forever, the entire universe would have to fall apart, and the Bible says that will never happen. Indeed, God would be most certainly justified in destroying Israel for her constant rebellion against Him, but He cannot break His Word to her (“It is impossible for God to lie;” Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). He is bound by His covenants to never forsake Israel. Yes, God is not dealing with Israel today, but the Holy Ghost through the Apostle Paul says Israel has a hope, for, despite her unfaithfulness, her God is faithful. Israel has a glorious hope that our human minds cannot even begin to fathom!

 

2. ROMANS 11:25-32 DOES NOT PERMIT ISRAEL’S PERMANENT FALL

According to the Apostle Paul, even on this side of Calvary’s cross (as opposed to when Jeremiah wrote), God is not through with the nation Israel. The Holy Ghost moved the Apostle Paul to write regarding Israel’s future:

“[25] For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [26] And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: [27] For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. [28] As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. [29] For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. [30] For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: [31] Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. [32] For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:25-32).

Yes, Paul acknowledges that Israel is currently “fallen,” “cast away” and “blind” spiritually (Romans 11:11,15,25), but after our Dispensation of Grace, he affirms that Israel will be “saved” (verse 26). Prophecy will be fulfilled with Israel, for God cannot revoke His Word to them: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29). While God is operating our mystery program, kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25), He must hold in abeyance Israel’s prophetic program spoken since the world began” (Acts 3:21). We have not been given Israel’s promises; they still belong to Israel. The key to remember is that that program in which Israel’s promises belong, is currently suspended, and the program in which we live today involves a whole new set of promises and doctrine.

The nation Israel, which God intended to use to evangelize the world, is currently set aside. Today, the Gentile (non-Jewish) world is hearing God’s Word through the ministry of the Apostle Paul (the Bible books of Romans through Philemon), apart from Israel (see Romans 11:11-13). Today, Israel’s prophetic program is temporarily suspended (note that it is not eternally suspended). Their kingdom is still postponed, for their Messiah has not yet returned at His Second Coming to bring in their kingdom. Paul, quoting Isaiah 59:20-21 in Romans 11:26-27, writes that God will one day take away Israel’s sins (as per the New Covenant). The Apostle Peter mentioned this restoration of Israel in 1 Peter 2:10.

Ephesians 2:11-12 talks about the when God made the distinction between the nation Israel (“Circumcision”) and the Gentiles (“Uncircumcision”): “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”

This is what the Bible calls “time past,” and would include the “Old Testament,” the Four Gospels, and the first nine chapters of Acts. But, verse 13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Dispensational Bible study enables us to “rightly divide” the “time past” and the “but now.” Before Paul and the Dispensation of Grace (the “but now,”), God dealt with mankind on the basis on Jew and Gentile. Now, God is not making a distinction between Jew and Gentile. God has changed the program: this is the dispensational change that occurred with the conversion of the Apostle Paul. Those who do not understand this end up embracing Replacement Theology (Covenant Theology / Supersessionism).

The three studies listed at the end of this study should also be consulted regarding this topic, because they go into greater detail about why Replacement Theology (Covenant Theology / Supersessionism) is not safe theology.

 

3. IF GOD DID NOT KEEP HIS PROMISES TO ISRAEL, THEN HOW CAN WE BE SURE HE WILL KEEP HIS WORD TO US?

A third reason to reject Covenant Theology (Replacement Theology / Supersessionism) is that if God did not keep His promises to Israel, then what are we doing trying to claim Israel’s promises? Who is to say God would not take them away from us, supposing He did give them to us (which He did not)? Who is to say that God will keep His promises to us in Paul’s epistles, if He did not keep His promises to Israel? We can see just how dangerous Replacement Theology (Covenant Theology / Supersessionism) is. Avoid it! It causing doubt in God’s Word, and that is obviously how Satan operates (Genesis 3:1).

 

Also see:
» Have I blasphemed against the Holy Ghost?
» Are we under the New Covenant? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» What is Romans 11:16-24 teaching? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)