Monthly Archives: March 2015

Why was Saul of Tarsus’ name changed to Paul?

WHY WAS SAUL OF TARSUS’ NAME CHANGED TO PAUL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Up until Acts 13:9 in the Bible, we read about a character named “Saul, of Tarsus.” Thereafter, Scripture knows him only as “Paul.” Why this change?

Saul of Tarsus first appears in Acts 7:58. He is a “young man,” someone who is influential in the stoning of God’s prophet Stephen. Saul is also leading Israel’s rebellion against Jesus’ little flock of believers in early Acts (Acts 8:1-4; Acts 22:1-5; Acts 26:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13-14; 1 Timothy 1:13). From other Scriptures, we learn that Saul is a Jew by blood and religion (Acts 22:3; Romans 9:3-4; 2 Corinthians 11:22; Galatians 1:14-15; Philippians 3:5). He is a Roman by birth and citizenship (Acts 16:37-38; Acts 22:25-29). Saul was born in Tarsus, Cilicia, some 300 miles (483 kilometers) north of Jerusalem, but he grew up in Jerusalem under the tutelage of the well-known rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). Saul of Tarsus was a scholar in the Mosaic Law, a religious leader of Israel, a Pharisee (Galatians 1:13-15; Philippians 3:5-6). He was known as “Rabbi Shaul.”

Interestingly, the Apostle Paul never refers to himself as “Saul” in any of his epistles of Romans through Philemon. He always called himself “Paul.” The name “Saul” (in relation to the Apostle Paul) appears in the King James Bible 22 times (only in Acts) whereas the name “Paul” appears 157 times in the King James Bible. More often than not, he is known as “Paul” in God’s Holy Word. Why?

To appreciate why the Bible transitions from the name “Saul” to “Paul,” we need to look at where “Paul” first appears in Scripture. As stated earlier, that is Acts 13:9. We will begin reading in verse 6: “[6] And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: [7] Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. [8] But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. [9] Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. [10] And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? [11] And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. [12] Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.”

Here, Saul is on his first apostolic journey. God is using him to reach the pagan world with the message of His grace, everything that a holy God has done for the sinner through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. As Saul and Barnabas are going through the isle to Paphos, they encounter a false prophet and Jew named “Barjesus” or “Elymas.” Barjesus/Elymas is operating under Satan’s control. A Gentile ruler of the area, “Sergius Paulus,” wants to hear God’s Word from Barnabas and Saul. Barjesus/Elymas attempts to prevent Barnabas and Saul from reaching this Gentile with the message of God’s grace. The Holy Ghost takes over Saul and speaks to Barjesus/Elymas through him: “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season” (verses 10-11).

This most fascinating miracle is Paul’s first miracle recorded in Scripture. It is not merely a historical event, but a communication of doctrine, doctrine that Sergius Paul saw and believed (verse 12). What was the doctrine this miracle conveyed? As Jews are hindering and forbidding Paul from reaching the Gentiles with God’s Word (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16), so this unbelieving Jew is preventing Paul from preaching salvation to a Gentile ruler so that he might have eternal life. Just as Israel falls into a temporary blindness while salvation goes to the Gentiles (Romans 11:25), so Barjesus/Elymas is physically blinded for a time (Acts 13:11). Romans 11:25-27 explains: “[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.”

Some etymology will now further explain the matter. The name “Saul” is Hebrew whereas “Paul” is a Roman name. “Saul” in Hebrew, Shaul, means, “asked, desired, wished.” “Paul” in Greek is Paulos, meaning “little,” and is closely related to pauo, which means, “to pause, stop, desist, cease.” God is communicating through the miracle of Acts 13:1-12 that He has paused Israel’s prophetic program and He has begun our mystery program. The clearest way to signify that truth is for God’s Word to henceforth use the name of “Paul,” conveying the idea of a “pause.” So, from Acts 13:9 onward, he is no longer called “Saul.” He is thereafter called “Paul.” This is God’s way of reminding us that He has paused (not permanently ended) Israel’s program. It is this pause that delayed Christ’s coming back in wrath to destroy His enemies (see 2 Peter 3:1-9, and especially verses 15-16 with reference to “Paul”).

Again, “pause” is important to keep in mind, since Israel’s program is not permanently suspended. Like Elymas/Barjesus, she is temporarily blinded (refer again to Romans 11:25-27). Israel’s prophetic program is only suspended for a time, a season, until God finishes forming the Church the Body of Christ. We have not replaced Israel as the “covenant theologians” claim. We the Church the Body of Christ are not the continuation of the Old Testament community as they teach. We are not an extension of the nation Israel. We are a “new creature,” the “one new man” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:15). We are a brand-new entity, the Church the Body of Christ. Our mystery program is unrelated to Israel’s prophetic program. Those two programs will never combine: we have no relation whatsoever to end-time prophecy.

CONCLUSION

Since Paul’s apostleship and message involve God’s transition from dealing with Israel (Jew) only to dealing with all nations (Gentiles), it is appropriate for Him to use a man who has both a Jewish nature and Roman (Gentile) nature. That is to say, Paul, a Roman and a Jew, is the perfect reflection of the Church the Body of Christ being made up of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles (Romans 9:24; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:11-22; Ephesians 3:6).

For the most part of his ministry, and in all of his epistles, Paul is not known by his Jewish name (Saul) but rather by his Gentile name (Paul). After all, his ministry is “the apostleship of the Gentiles(Romans 11:13). In all actuality, God no longer saw him as a Jew, for Israel had fallen back in Acts chapter 7: any lost Jew was technically a Gentile from Acts chapter 7 onward. It was fitting for God to refer to him using his Gentile name, Paul, for He had now begun to reach the Gentiles with the Gospel of Grace. Again, Paul was a perfect illustration of the Church the Body of Christ, which was composed of believing Jews and believing Gentiles, saved by grace, saved apart from Israel’s prophetic program and kingdom hope.

Just goes to show us how supernatural the Bible is, how it stresses the most amazing doctrines by using something so common as a person’s name. The King James Bible is truly a marvelous Book, without comparison, and worthy of our utmost trust!

Also see:
» Do we study only Paul’s epistles?
» What is “the Dispensation of Grace?”
» Did Peter and Paul preach the same Gospel?

What is the “angels’ food” of Psalm 78:24-25?

WHAT IS THE “ANGELS’ FOOD” OF PSALM 78:24-25?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“What is the angels’ food of Psalm 78:24-25? Was it manna, and what exactly was manna? Is that some kind of corn ‘the corn from heaven’, or bread as on earth (Exodus 16:4; Numbers 11:6-9)? Or, was it the meat of verse 25? Is there any other reference to angels needing or wanting to eat?”

Thank you for the submission. You have a fascinating set of questions here. Let us search the Scriptures for answers!

Okay, Psalm 78:24-25: “[24] And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. [25] Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.” “Manna,” “the corn of heaven,” “angels’ food,” and “meat” are all different ways of describing the same food. It might be best to answer your question by analyzing each of these four terms.

1. “MANNA” (Psalm 78:24a)

You probably recall that, after God delivered the nation Israel from Egyptian bondage, she was in the wilderness under Moses’ leadership. Throughout Exodus chapters 15-17, on several occasions, Israel complained and murmured against God. The Jews wanted water and food. In chapter 16, God promised to rain down “bread from heaven” (verse 4). The LORD informed Moses that He would provide Israel with quail in the evening and bread in the morning (verse 12). That evening, quails covered Israel’s camp, but the following morning they collected the manna.

When God rained down the manna, the children of Israel saw it on the ground and asked in verse 15, “What is it?” “Manna” is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew, man, literally meaning, “What is it?” Moses responded, “This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat” (verse 15). Moses defined “manna” as “bread.”

In John chapter 6, notice the discussion that the Jews and Jesus had: “[31] Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to me. [32] Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.” Jesus affirmed Moses’ words that “manna” was a type of bread.

Now, please understand, manna was a bread similar to but not entirely like our earthly bread. Remember, the Jews did not recognize it as bread (hence the question about it and their title for it). Manna did not resemble earthly bread in appearance. In fact, it tasted much better than any bread they had (or we ever have) ever eaten! Manna was “like the coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey (Exodus 16:31). Another verse says that manna tasted like “fresh oil” (Numbers 11:8)—that is, olive oil.

2. “THE CORN OF HEAVEN” (Psalm 78:24b)

Since manna is a type of “bread” (see point #1), it naturally follows that manna would be made of “corn.” Please make note of this term. “Corn,” in older English (as in the King James), is used to refer to any type of grain, not necessarily “corn” (“Indian corn”) as we commonly think of it. Strangely, there are evidently crops growing in heaven! After all, we read of people in heaven holding palm branches in their hands (Revelation 7:9). There are palm trees in heaven as well. Surely, in order to have manna (bread) coming from heaven, there must be raw ingredients (grain fields) in heaven to harvest and process into a finished product (bread).

When God says He gave Israel “the corn of heaven,” He is talking about the grains from which the bread was made. They were the pure grains of heaven, highly nutritional, untainted by fallible human bakers. The Jews could do with it what they wanted in terms of preparing it, but the manna was already grains and other ingredients formed into a bread-like substance. The Bible says that the Israelites ground it, or beat it, or baked it, or made cakes with it (Exodus 16:35; Numbers 11:8).

The angels harvested heavenly grains and used them to make the manna. This brings us to our third point.

3. “ANGELS’ FOOD” (Psalm 78:25a)

Yes, brother, it is strange but it is true. Angels eat! Save this verse, there is no other reference in the Bible to angels eating. Still, this single verse is sufficient to prove that they eat just like us. They consume different foods from us, but they eat. They eat special types of bread (and maybe other foods as well, but the Bible does not say).

While “scholars” may reduce “manna” to being nothing more than some gum resin from certain trees, their naturalistic explanation is unnecessary. We do not have to explain away something in the Bible simply because the human mind cannot understand it. We just need to believe the Bible and stop taking away from its miracles. Would angels really need to come to Earth and eat tree gum resin?! It is highly unlikely! “Manna” was not some earthly substance, but a heavenly substance. When the manna rained down, Israel saw “a small round thing,” tiny flakes covering the wilderness landscape (Exodus 16:14). Would gum resin from trees form into “small round things?” I doubt it! The fact that Moses and Jesus called manna “bread” is proof enough for me that it was not a gum resin.

A related, interesting Bible account can help to better understand this topic. When the Prophet Elijah was hiding from wicked Queen Jezebel who had threatened to take his life, an angel cooked for him out in the wilderness. Do you want to guess what type of food the angel prepared? We read in 1 Kings 19:4-8: “[4] But he [Elijah] himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. [5] And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. [6] And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. [7] And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. [8] And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.”

This angel baked a cake for Elijah—yes, angels can cook food! They make their own food in heaven (they certainly made food for Israel in the wilderness for 40 years)! While the Bible does not say that Elijah ate manna, he may have eaten it or something very similar. Note that that single meal of one cake was so highly nutritional that Elijah was able to live off of it for 40 days and 40 nights! Like we commented earlier, the food from heaven is drastically different from the earthly food we know. Angels know how to cook food properly and they are using some amazing ingredients!

4. “MEAT” (Psalm 78:25b)

Similar to our comments in point #2 concerning the term “corn,” “meat” is a general term for any type of food (flesh or vegetation). Even today, we use the word “meat,” not just to apply to animal flesh, but also in reference to the edible parts of fruits or nuts (vegetation). In the case of the 1611 translators, they are using older English, and in older English, “meat” is a general term for any type of food (animal flesh as well as vegetation). For example, Colossians 2:16 talks about, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:” This word “meat” would not only apply to animal meat but to all foods; “meat or drink” encompasses all foods and all drinks.

Psalm 78:24-25: “[24] And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. [25] Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.” Concerning Psalm 78:24-25, “meat” and “manna” are interchangeable—it is not “meat” as in flesh but “meat” as in “manna.” Verses 24-45 are one thought. “Man did eat angels’ food (colon, an explanation follows) he sent them meat to the full.” “Meat” would apply to all the comments of verses 24-25.

We know that “meat” in Psalm 78:25 is not talking about flesh in the sense of the quail, because Psalm 78:27-30 says: “[27] He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea: [28] And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations. [29] So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; [30] They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, [31] The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.”

Note how “meat” in verse 30 is general—it is the bread and the quail in their mouths.

SUPPLEMENTAL:GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD” (MATTHEW 6:11)

Although God raining down manna (bread) for Israel to eat is very well known, the prophetic aspect is seldom realized: God will feed Israel again with manna during the seven-year Tribulation. The following Scriptures have a dual application—they are history and prophecy. “[14] Feed thy people with thy rod,… [15] as in the days of old. According to the days of [Israel’s] coming out of the land of Egypt…” (Micah 7:14-15). The psalmist recounted God giving manna to stubborn, ungrateful Israel under Moses’s leadership (Psalm 78:19-20): “[19]Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? [20] Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?” The psalmist David wrote, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies” (Psalm 23:5).

When the Jews in the area of Judaea hear the news of the Antichrist desecrating the newly-rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, God through the Scriptures will instruct them to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-20). Their evacuation is urgent, and they are not to waste time gathering their material possessions. These Jews will escape into the wilderness, lacking food, shelter, and extra clothes. God will miraculously provide for them, just as He did for Israel in Moses’s day. Revelation 12:6 supplements: “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”

God will take care of this believing remnant of Israel or the last three-and-one-half years of the Tribulation (the 1,260 days referenced). This “hidden manna” of Revelation 2:17 will rain down for the last 42 months of the seven years. As Jesus Christ taught in the so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” Israel’s believing remnant will literally rely on God for their daily food; thus, their third petition is, “Give us this day, our daily bread,” reminding themselves that He will meet all their physical needs as He promised (Matthew 6:24-34; Luke 12:22-32). Again, manna was a type of bread.

CONCLUSION

  1. “What is the angels’ food of Psalm 78:24-25? Was it manna?” Yes, the angels’ food was indeed manna. The “meat” of verse 25 is another title for the same food.
  2. “What exactly was manna? Is that some kind of corn ‘the corn from heaven’, or bread as on earth (Exodus 16:4; Numbers 11:6-9)?” Yes, manna, according to Moses and Jesus Christ, was bread, but not exactly like what we have on earth. It could be baked, formed into cakes, ground up, et cetera; it was round and white and tasted like honey or olive oil.
  3. “Is there any other reference to angels needing or wanting to eat?” No, but this one reference indicates angels do eat and they eat exactly what God gave the Jews under Moses, to eat out in the wilderness. Angels can also prepare food.

Also see:
» Do angels really watch us?
» Do we have guardian angels? (COMING SOON!)
» Do people become angels when they die? (COMING SOON!)

Could you explain, “I will give you the sure mercies of David?”

COULD YOU EXPLAIN, “I WILL GIVE YOU THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“I have a Bible question. Acts 13:33-35: ‘God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.’ In verse 34, where it says ‘he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ Is this God saying He will give Jesus Christ ‘the sure mercies of David?’ Or, is Paul going way out of context all of a sudden and speaking about ‘believers’ getting ‘the sure mercies of David?’ I know Isaiah 55 is being quoted, just wanted to see what you thought of this, and perhaps you could shed some light on this for me. Thanks.”

You are welcome, and thank you for that question! Let us see if we can find other verses that shed light on Acts 13:34.

By the way, this verse is a case in point why it is important to use a King James Bible instead of a modern English version. Older English differentiates between second-person singular (thee, thou, thine, thy) and second-person plural (ye, you, your). Since this is also true of the original Bible languages, Hebrew and Greek, older English (and thus, the King James Bible) instead of modern English conveys the sense that God intended. In other words, had we used an “easy-to-read” Bible written in “contemporary English,” it would have been much more difficult to answer your question.

Even the New King James Version, which boasts that it retains the “thought flow” of the King James Bible while eliminating its “archaic, hard-to-read language,” eliminates the very “cumbersome” words that help the reader! As the King James translators knew, we need “thee,” “thou,” “thine,” “thy,” “ye,” “you,” and “your” to understand the original sense of the Bible text. The first four pronouns (thee, thou, thine, thy) were not common English in 1611, but these Authorized Version scholars used those words because they knew that they precisely matched the Hebrew and Greek they were translating.

When using the King James Bible, always remember that the pronouns that begin with “th-” (thee, thou, thine, thy) are a reference to one person and the pronouns that begin with “y-” (ye, you, your) are a reference to two or more persons. For example, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10b) is saying Father God’s will be done—the will of one Person be done. To make the Bible say, “Your will be done…” is actually to leave room for polytheism (the belief in many gods!). Or, another famous verse, John 3:7, “Marvel not that I said unto thee [one man, Nicodemus], Ye [a group, all of Israel] must be born again.” If we make read, “I say to you, you must be born again,” you could not discern if this applied to Nicodemus alone or to a whole group.

Publishers of the modern English versions boast that they have replaced “thee, thou, thine, thy” with “you, your, yours” and thus made the Bible easier to read. No, they made it impossible for the English Bible reader to determine what the original Bible languages said (thus necessitating footnotes in the modern versions that differentiate between Hebrew/Greek second-person singular/plural pronouns)! Whenever you hear someone say that the modern versions read “closer to the originals” than our King James Bible, they are repeating something that is untrue concerning the second-personal pronouns! Using “you, your, yours” throughout is not a precise handling of the Hebrew and Greek second-person singular pronouns!

With the background laid, we can return to Acts 13:34: “I will give you the sure mercies of David” has an audience known as “you.” Considering our previous comments, is “you” singular or plural? This word “you” is indicative of a group of people, not an individual. Had God the Father spoken this to Jesus Christ, one Person, it would have read, “I will give thee the sure mercies of David.” Because our Authorized Version uses “you” in Acts 13:34 (and Isaiah 55:3), the Holy Spirit is showing us that He is speaking to a group. By the way, you cannot see this distinction in modern “bible” because it uses “you” for one person and for two or more.

As you pointed out, the Apostle Paul quoted Isaiah 55:3 in Acts 13:34. When Isaiah says, “I will give you the sure mercies of David,” He is quoting JEHOVAH God Who had promised Israel (a group) a future resurrection. They are “sure,” certain/reliable, and they are “mercies,” God’s gestures of kindness toward unworthy Israel. We know Isaiah 55:3 is discussing resurrection because Paul interprets it for us in Acts chapter 13 (the verse you are asking about).

Acts 13:33-37 explains Isaiah 55:3 for us: “[33] God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. [34] And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. [35] Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. [36] For David after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: [37] But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.”

To answer your question, the context of Acts 13:33-37 is Jesus’ resurrection. Paul is not using Isaiah 55:3 in its original sense (the resurrection of Jewish believers); the Apostle is saying that Jesus’ resurrection paralleled, not fulfilled, Isaiah 55:3. There is a similarity between Jesus’ resurrection and Isaiah 55:3, but not a fulfillment. Jesus’ resurrection fulfilled other verses (Paul quoted Psalm 16:10 and Psalm 2:7 as direct fulfillments). Note Psalm 2:7 said, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee(the older English second-person pronouns affirm that this is spoken to one Person, Jesus Christ).

As an interesting side-note, where does David fit in all of this? Why did Isaiah write “the sure mercies of David?” What is so special about David in this respect? As we saw above, Acts 13:35 quotes Psalm 16. Psalm 16 is a portion of Scripture that David wrote, about 300 years before Isaiah. In this psalm, David wrote about his bodily resurrection, as well as Messiah’s bodily resurrection centuries later (cf. Acts 2:25-28).

The Holy Spirit moved David to write in Psalm 16:8-11: “[8] I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. [9] Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. [10] For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. [11] Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Note the second-personal plural pronouns here: “Thou,” “thy,” and “thine” are all references to Father God, one Person.)

According to prophecy (cf. Psalm 2:6-9), Jesus Christ would be raised again (or resurrected) “to sit on David’s throne.” The Apostle Peter, quoting Psalm 16, preached in Acts 2:30-32: “[30] Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; [31] He [David] seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. [32] This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” (See the larger context, Acts 2:22-32, for a fuller treatment.)

Jesus’ resurrection would bring to pass Israel becoming a kingdom of priests (Jesus being the King over Israel). Jews would be raised spiritually (regenerated by God’s Spirit) and resurrected physically in order to be priests in that Millennial Kingdom. The context of Isaiah chapter 55 is Israel’s spiritual resurrection, given new life spiritually (redeemed, or saved/delivered, from their sins). The Bible says in Isaiah 55:3: “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” The “everlasting covenant” God will make with believing Israel is that He will raise them from the dead physically, going all the way back to David and even to Father Abraham (re-read Psalm 16:8-11). That spiritual and physical resurrection will enable Israel’s believing remnant to be pure enough to enter the Millennium and serve JEHOVAH God in His earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:1-6)!

CONCLUSION

Isaiah 55:3 is God’s promise to one day spiritually resurrect Israel (her believing remnant). That verse did not apply to Jesus Christ. Still, Paul quoted it and said that Jesus Christ’s resurrection was similar. Unbelieving Jews had great difficulty believing in Jesus’ Messiahship and resurrection (cf. Romans 10:1,9), so it was necessary for Paul to establish that fact using Israel’s “Old Testament” scrolls (hence, he quoted Psalm 2:7, Psalm 16:10, and Isaiah 55:3). Paul validated his message there in the synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia, by appealing to the writings of the holy prophets of old. The Holy Spirit through Paul wanted these lost Jews to see that Father God had promised to resurrect His Son one day. Since Jesus was resurrected, He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies, and thus He was God’s Son (Christ/Messiah).

Paul did not say Jesus Christ fulfilled Isaiah 55:3 at His resurrection; Jesus’ resurrection was similar to the resurrection of Isaiah 55:3, but not a fulfillment of it. There are many places where the New Testament quotes the Old Testament, not as fulfillments, but as parallels in thought or similarities to reinforce themes. This is the case of Acts 13:34 quoting Isaiah 55:3.

Also see:
» Which Bible version should I use?
» What happened to those saints raised from the dead in Matthew 27:52-53?
» When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected?

Are all Christians “ambassadors?”

ARE ALL CHRISTIANS “AMBASSADORS,” OR JUST PAUL AND HIS MINISTRY COMPANIONS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“In 2 Corinthians 5:20, We are ambassadors for Christ,’ is Paul saying that only he and his helpers are ‘ambassadors’ or are all believers ‘ambassadors?’”

Thank you for your question. Some etymology will help us here. Our English term “ambassador” comes from Middle English ambassadour, Anglo-French ambassateur, and is ultimately of Germanic origin; it is related to the Old High German ambaht, “service.”

An “ambassador” is one who serves. When 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are ambassadors for Christ,” that would apply to all Christians—Paul, his ministry companions, and all us Christians today. All Christians are servants of the God of the Bible. As lost people, we served sin. As saved people, “Now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, [we] have [our] fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). Just as Paul and his ministry companions shared the Gospel of God’s Grace with the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 5:18-19), all Christians are to be God’s mouthpiece in sharing with this lost and dying world the message of His grace to us in Jesus Christ.

We can grasp more fully the doctrine of Christian ambassadorship by considering Philippians 3:20-21: “[20] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; [21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working in whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

Philippi was a Roman outpost (“colony;” Acts 16:12) in the midst of a Greek culture. These Philippians, although surrounded by Greeks, were in fact Romans. They behaved like Romans not Greeks. They knew what it was like to “live in a foreign land” (ambassadors). When Paul talked about them representing here on Earth the citizenship they really had in heaven, it made even more sense to them. Remember, he urged them, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

The Philippians were instructed to have lifestyles (“conversations”) that fit, or reflected, their spiritual heritage. They were not to act like their lost, pagan Romans neighbors or their lost, pagan Greeks neighbors. They were to be living in accordance with the grace doctrines Jesus Christ had given them through the Apostle Paul (and found in his epistle to Philippi). They were to act like Christians. They were Christian ambassadors really belonging to heaven, so on Earth, they were strangers living in a foreign land. The same is true of us.

Ephesians 2:19 affirms that we are, “fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Because we are citizens of heaven, because we really belong in heaven (and we will get there one day), our “conversation” (lifestyle) should reflect that status. Not only should we be studying and memorizing Bible verses, not only should we be sharing those Scriptural truths with others, we are to have lives in accordance with those verses. Again, all Christians are thus ambassadors.

Other than through the written Word, the Holy Bible, God works in the world by using the Church the Body of Christ. Remember, if God were to remove all members of the Body of Christ from planet Earth, there would be no one left here to be His mouthpiece. There would still be the Bible, but there would be no living, flesh-and-blood testimony of His grace to us in Jesus Christ. Christians commonly say, “I want to leave this place and go to heaven! Things are getting so bad in this world and I want out! I want to go meet my loved ones who have died in Christ!” Yet, beloved, we must not be selfish.

While this Dispensation of Grace is operating, God needs spokespeople on Earth, and He has chosen the Church the Body of Christ for that role. As we continue in this Christian ambassadorship, as we continuing representing our heavenly homeland, let us live with the mentality that Jesus Christ will come for us one day!

CONCLUSION

When 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are ambassadors for Christ,” that would apply to all Christians—Paul and his ministry companions, and all us Christians today. Paul and his companions are long gone, but God still has representatives here on Earth. An “ambassador” is someone who represents his homeland in a foreign territory. We have taken the place of the saints of old. Our godly lifestyle reflects our heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:20-21 and Ephesians 2:19)—this concept of “ambassadorship” would apply to all Christians throughout the last 2,000 years.

In the secular world, an ambassador is one who lives in a foreign territory as a representative of his home country. He is an example of his native country to the foreign country in which he lives. Just before war, a country will call its ambassadors back home. One day, at the end of this the Dispensation of Grace, commonly called “the Rapture,” Jesus Christ will return to take away His Church the Body of Christ. There will no longer be a time of peace. There will be no more “Christian ambassadorship” on Earth. We will have moved on to work in the heavenly places. Saints, keep looking up!

Also see:
» What is “the fellowship of the mystery?”
» Why did Paul tell the Corinthians to be “reconciled to God?”

» Are lost people already forgiven? What does 2 Corinthians 5:19 mean?

How can the Bible say, “No man hath seen God at any time?”

HOW CAN THE BIBLE SAY, “NO MAN HATH SEEN GOD AT ANY TIME?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Years ago, a long-time critic and Bible-rejecter replied to one of our Bible studies, emailing the following argument to me: “John 1:18 says, ‘No man has seen God at any time;….’ Jesus was seen of men and the Bible says no one has ever seen God. Therefore, Jesus could not have been God.” While I never did reply to him (it was one of his many “foolish and unlearned questions,” and those are always to be ignored; 2 Timothy 2:23), how should we reply? For those of us who sincerely want to know God’s truth, who do not ask captious questions just to challenge God’s Word, but who ask questions solely for the sake of better understanding God’s precious Word, how should we view John 1:18?

We will first survey the “Old Testament” Scriptures to learn the following:

  • Genesis 17:1 says, “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”
  • Genesis 32:30 says, “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (“Peniel” is Hebrew for “the face of God.”)
  • Genesis 35:9 says, “And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.”
  • 1 Samuel 3:21 says, “And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.”
  • 1 Kings 3:5 says, “In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.”
  • 1 Kings 9:2 says, “That the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon.”
  • 2 Chronicles 3:1 says, “Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.”

There are other examples, but for space’s sake, we will only list their references (you may look at them in your Bible). Try Genesis 18:1, Genesis 26:2, and 1 Kings 11:9. As these verses demonstrate, people did indeed see “God” (or “the LORD”) in the Old Testament economy. He literally appeared to them and they saw Him face-to-face as we would see another person in front of us. So, how could the Apostle John write, “No man hath seen God at any time?” Is the Bible mistaken? No, actually, we need a sound definition of the name “God” (the scoffers have no such working definition because they do not adequately study the Book they malign and contradict).

Most of the time, when God the Son is implied, the Bible employs terms such as, “the Lord Jesus Christ,” “Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” “the Lord Jesus,” “the Lord,” “Christ,” “Christ Jesus,” et cetera. The syntax of John 1:18 defines “God” for us: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” In this verse, “Son” is obviously God the Son, Jesus Christ. There is someone else mentioned in the verse, and the Person is “God.” Who would this Person be? The only logical answer is that this would be indicative of God the Father. Not always, but usually, in the “New Testament” Scriptures, the name “God” implies God the Father. What John 1:18 is really communicating is that no one has seen God the Father. So, who were people—Abraham, Jacob, Samuel, David, Solomon, et cetera—seeing in the Old Testament when “God” or “the LORD” appeared to them? They would have seen God the Son, Jesus Christ, in a “theophany,” a pre-incarnate appearance!

While no one can see God the Father (He is a Spirit being), they can see Jesus Christ His Son. Jesus Christ is such a perfect reflection of Father God in all of His glory and wisdom and holiness, to look upon Jesus Christ is as if you were looking at Father God Himself. They are that closely connected with one another! Hence, Jesus Christ is the only way to Father God, the one mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5). Whatever Jesus Christ was doing, to watch Him execute that work was to watch Father God working in and through Him to carry out that work!

John 14:6-8 explains: “[6] Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. [7] If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. [8] Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. [8] Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. [9] Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? [10] Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”

Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus Christ is, “…the brightness of [Father God’s] glory, and the express image of his person.” Colossians 2:9 says, “For in [Jesus Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” And 2 Corinthians 4:6, “Christ, who is the image of God.” (As noted earlier, please observe how “God” in that last verse is indicative of the Father.)

Back to John 1:18: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Jesus Christ and His Heavenly Father are so intertwined, so united in love (John 17:24), Jesus Christ is spoken of as being “in the bosom of the Father.” Jesus Christ is the very dearest of all Father God knows! God the Father’s relationship with Jesus Christ is the greatest of all relationships. The exciting reality is that, in Jesus Christ, we Christians are just as precious to Father God as Jesus is! “To the praise of the glory of his grace; wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). Colossians 1:13 calls Jesus Christ “his dear Son”—Jesus is ever so beloved of Father God and in Christ we are ever so beloved of Father God, too!

Since God the Father and God the Son are so closely related, Father God declares Himself to us through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, by His actions and His words, makes the invisible Father God known to mankind. Again, Jesus Christ is the Mediator between God the Father and men (1 Timothy 2:5). To better understand the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Heavenly Father, we need to look no further than His prayer to His Father just prior to His betrayal, arrest, and death on Calvary’s cruel cross (please note especially the bolded statements). Note the words of John chapter 17:

“[1] These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: [2] As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. [3] And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. [4] I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”

“[5] And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. [6] I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. [7] Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. [8] For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. [9] I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. [10] And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.”

“[11] And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. [12] While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.”

“[13] And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. [14] I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. [15] I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. [16] They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. [17] Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. [18] As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. [19] And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. [20] Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; [21] That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. [22] And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: [23] I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

“[24] Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. [25] O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. [26] And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

A LITTLE MORE CLARITY

To even better understand John 1:18, let us consider the following. John’s Gospel is meant to testify that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God. At its heart, the book highlights eight “signs” (miracles communicating doctrine) that Jesus performed to prove that He was Israel’s Messiah/Christ/God’s Son. We read in chapter 20, verses 30-31: “[30] And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: [31] But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” These miracles “sign-ified” that Jesus Christ could give those Jews who received Him, “power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). They would be equipped to do what He was doing for Father God’s glory! In other words, it would be His power to work in them and have them resemble His Father in their heart and actions, too, just as He was thinking and doing!

SUPPLEMENTAL: A BRIEF WORD ABOUT TEXTUAL CRITICISM AND JOHN 1:18

Beloved, a study about John 1:18 without discussing manuscript evidence would be an incomplete study. So, we will dedicate a special section to briefly examining the controversy surrounding the reading of John 1:18.

John 1:18 is a major reason why the Bible versions issue is so important. We will read it again as it appears in our King James Bible: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” The majority of Greek New Testament manuscripts read, “monogenes huios” (“the only begotten Son”)—the King James Bible and its Greek Textus Receptus has the correct reading. The Greek New Testament used by the translators of the modern English versions, commonly called the “Nestle-Aland Greek” or “Critical Text,” has the phrase, “monogenes theos” (translated as “the only begotten God” in the New American Standard Bible).

In church history, there was (and still is) a heretical doctrine known as “Arianism.” It is the belief that the Bible’s view of the Trinity is wrong, that Jesus Christ is a created being, and that Jesus Christ is not equal to God the Father. To say that Jesus is a “begotten God” not only eliminates the reference to Jesus being “the Son” (thus removing a reference to the Trinity—remember our God/Father/Son syntactical comments from earlier?), it also borderlines the idea that God had an origin, that Jesus was a created god or created being. This is the Jehovah’s Witness’ view and the Mormons’ view of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is most definitely God, but He is not a “begotten God.” To say that Jesus Christ is a “begotten God” is heresy; the NASB is a heretical modern English version. Jesus Christ is God’s “begotten Son,for Father God raised His Son, not His “God,” from the dead (see Acts 13:33-34).

CONCLUSION

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). This verse does not deny Jesus is God. In fact, for John 1:18 to say that “God” (indicative of the Father) was not seen in the Old Testament, and yet the Old Testament says people did see God, means that there are at least two Persons called “God” in the Bible. In other words, Jesus Christ is the “LORD” (all caps, JEHOVAH) of the Old Testament! While John 1:18 is seen as a refutation of Jesus’ deity, upon close study, that verse strengthens the claim that Jesus was and is just as much God as God the Father. Jesus is JEHOVAH, dear friends, so now we see why the Devil corrupted John 1:18 and keeps people confused about its proper reading!

John 1:18 simply means that whenever “God” appeared to people in the Old Testament economy, it was God the Son, Jesus Christ before His incarnation (before He took on Himself human flesh and became the God-Man). John 1:18 is saying that no mortal human has seen God the Father. That phrase “whom no man hath seen, nor can see” of 1 Timothy 6:16 does not refer to Jesus Christ, as sometimes assumed, but rather applicable to “God” (the Father) of verse 13. Only Jesus Christ His Son has seen and had a personal relationship with Him. Thus, it is through Jesus Christ alone that we can have fellowship with Father God. Hence, the Bible says that those who saw Jesus Christ in His flesh saw His Father—Jesus Christ is the perfect reflection of His Heavenly Father, “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Hebrews 1:3), “the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is through His Son Jesus Christ that Father God has made Himself known (see Hebrews 1:1-2).

Also see:
» Is the Godhead/Trinity a Biblical concept?
» Which Bible version should I use?
» Can Jews who believe in God, the Father, but who reject Jesus, be saved from eternal damnation?

What happened to those saints raised from the dead in Matthew 27:52-53?

WHAT HAPPENED TO THOSE SAINTS RAISED FROM THE DEAD IN MATTHEW 27:52-53?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“When the graves were opened and the dead saints came forth and walked among people in Jerusalem, what happened to these people later on after Christ went up in a cloud? Where did they go and were they flesh and bone or flesh and blood? If they were flesh and bone then how could they be able to die again later on if that be the case? Any answers for this?”

The passage to which you are referring is somewhat mysterious; I have wondered about it for some time as well. I am not sure we will ever have all the answers about it in this life, but the following Bible verses may shed light on this passage. It is a rather complex study, but our conclusion should make it clear.

For those unfamiliar with this topic, we will begin by introducing the passage. We read in Matthew chapter 27: “[50] Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. [51] And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; [52] And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, [53] And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

Firstly, it is important to remember not to misread these verses as some have. These saints raised from the dead were not raised from the dead when Jesus Christ died. They were raised again after Jesus Christ’s resurrection three days later. The earthquake at Jesus’ death opened these graves, but it was not until three days later that the people came forth from those graves.

While others in Bible history had been raised from the dead (the poor widow’s son—1 Kings 17:17-23; the man whose corpse revived after it was thrown on top of Elisha’s bones—2 Kings 13:21; the son of the widow of Nain—Luke 7:11-18; Lazarus—John 11:1-46; et cetera), Jesus Christ was the first to be resurrected, raised from the dead never to die again. Christ was the first man to be resurrected in history, never to die again. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, describing our own resurrection at the “Rapture:” “[20] But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. [21] For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” In agrarian terminology, the “firstfruits” is that small part of the crop that ripens first, before the majority of the crop matures. With regards to resurrection, Jesus Christ is the first Person ever.

As far as we know, the poor widow’s son of 1 Kings chapter 17, the man who was raised again in Elisha’s tomb in 2 Kings chapter 13, the son of the widow of Nain of Luke chapter 7, and Lazarus of John chapter 11, they all were raised from the dead only to die again. They were not resurrected. We have no record in the Bible to say that they went to heaven in any resurrected body. They certainly do not exist on Earth today as millennia-old senior citizens! The only logical conclusion that I see is that these people died again. Now, with that said, let us return to your question. What about those raised again in Matthew chapter 27? Considering the similar events that happened prior in Bible history, I tend to believe that those saints died again too. While some say that (as I used to believe) those saints of Matthew chapter 27 ascended into heaven when Jesus did in Acts chapter 1, I have since reexamined my position on the subject and now I do not see any Scriptural proof of it. We will let Luke inform us as to what was seen at the ascension:

We read in Mark 16:19: “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” And Luke 24:50-51: “[50] And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. [51] And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” And Acts chapter 1: “[9] And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. [10] And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; [11] Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

Remember what Matthew 27:52-53 said: “many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” These were not one or two people, but “many” believers who were raised from the dead right after Jesus was resurrected. They obviously had literal bodies that could be seen, for the Bible says many did see them. Yet, when the apostles and disciples watched Jesus ascend into heaven, they sawHe was taken up… a cloud received Him out of their sight… Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven.” Those saints raised again had bodies that could be seen; yet the apostles did not see them go up at Jesus’ ascension. They only saw Jesus go into heaven. That would be conclusive evidence for me that those raised again in Matthew chapter 27 did not go up into heaven when Jesus did, but rather they continued to live on Earth for some time after before dying again. The same would be true of Lazarus; he was not seen at the ascension either, so the assumption is that he lived and then died again.

A verse that helped me reckon it all in my mind is 1 Timothy 6:16: “[The Lord Jesus Christ] Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” This verse says that only one Person has physical “immortality” today. Jesus Christ left Earth in a physical body, and He is in that physical body today in Heaven. “Immortal” means “living forever; never dying or decaying.” Now, think about it. If those raised again in Matthew chapter 27, were caught up into heaven in resurrected bodies in Acts chapter 1 with Jesus, they too would be “immortal.” Like Jesus, they would have physical bodies never to die again. Yet, what does Paul say? Only Jesus Christ has “immortality,” only He has a body that will never die again. Could those saints of Matthew chapter 27, thus be in resurrected bodies in heaven today? No. The best explanation is that they died again after their coming back to life, and they are waiting for resurrected bodies like all the other saints of old. For this reason, I would say that the saints of Matthew chapter 27, had “flesh and blood bodies, for there is strong Scriptural evidence that they died again—“flesh and bonebodies are those that can enter God’s resurrection realm and His kingdom (cf. Luke 24:39; 1 Corinthians 15:50). They evidently, like us, are still awaiting flesh-and-bone bodies of the resurrection (never to die again).

WHAT ABOUT HEBREWS 9:27?

Some may say that to have the saints of Matthew chapter 27 live, die, raise again, and then live and die (to be resurrected beyond our day), is a contradiction of Hebrews 9:27: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” However, this verse is not an absolute. In Bible history, God has had some exceptions to this rule (but note that these exceptions involved believers only). It was not lost people dying and going to suffer in hell and then being removed and having a second chance for salvation into heaven; rather, the exceptions to the rule of Hebrews 9:27 always involved believers.

For example, Enoch never died physically and was caught up into heaven (Genesis 5:24; cf. Hebrews 11:5, which says, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death…”). The Bible seems to suggest that Enoch will never die physically at all. The one death of Hebrews 9:27 would not apply to Enoch.

The Prophet Elijah never died physically but was caught up into heaven in 2 Kings 2:11. Moses died in Deuteronomy 34:5 and God Himself even buried him in verse 6! In the book of the Revelation (chapter 11), which is future from our day, God’s “two witnesses” before the Antichrist seem to be, based on their actions, Moses and Elijah. (I would say this based on Moses and Elijah being at the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus, Matthew chapter 17:1-9, and because Malachi 4:5 says that Elijah will appear before Jesus Christ’s Second Coming to end those seven years of the Antichrist’s reign.) Verses 7-13 of Revelation chapter 11 say that the Antichrist will overcome and kill these two witnesses, and then God will raise them up and call them into heaven. If they are indeed Moses and Elijah, by that time, Moses will have died twice and been raised twice, and Elijah will have died once and been raised once!

As an additional side-note, those Christians alive at the time of the Rapture (Jesus’ coming for His Body) will be instantly transformed and caught up into heaven, having never experienced physical death (1 Thessalonians 4:17)—the one death of Hebrews 9:27 would not apply to those Christians either.

CONCLUSION

Exactly what happened to the saints who were raised again just after Jesus’ resurrection, the Bible does not say in the context. From studying other verses, I would say that they eventually died again, and that they are still waiting a permanent resurrection (to one day receive resurrected bodies that will never die again). Nothing in the Bible indicates that they ascended into heaven in those bodies that had been raised from the dead. That would make me conclude they were “flesh and blood” bodies. No one but Jesus Christ today has a body of “flesh and bone,” an immortal body, one that will never die again.

All the Scriptural record indicates conclusively is that these saints in Matthew chapter 27, after being raised from the dead, went into Jerusalem and appeared to people who could identify them. These saints raised from the dead were additional proof that Jesus’ resurrection was not merely a swooning, a fainting-spell, a coincidence, et cetera. Their testimony proved that it was the work of God. It was not just one raising from the dead that the unbelieving Jews could discount; it was many demonstrable, irrefutable instances of people rising from the dead!

While Matthew 27:52-53 is still a puzzling passage, at this time, as far as we can explain it using other Scriptures, those saints died again and are awaiting a permanent resurrection.

Also see:
» When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected?
» Are deceased Christians with the Lord yet?
» Who is the “great cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 12:1?

“The Son of man hath not where to lay his head?”

“THE SON OF MAN HATH NOT WHERE TO LAY HIS HEAD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). What did the Lord mean here? “For what saith the Scriptures?” We will let the Holy Ghost, the Author and the Teacher of the Holy Bible, instruct us from the Holy Bible, so we can then believe the Holy Bible, and rejoice in the simple truths of the Holy Bible!

Firstly, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were poor people. How do we know? Luke chapter 2 clues us in to their financial situation: “[21] And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. [22] And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; [23] (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) [24] And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

We read in the Mosaic Law, Leviticus chapter 12: “[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [2] Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. [3] And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. [4] And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. [5] But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. [6] And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: [7] Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. [8] And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles [that is, turtledoves], or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”

According to the Mosaic Law, after bearing a male child and circumcising him on the eighth day, a Jewish woman was to be purified for 33 days (verse 6). When these days of purification were fulfilled, she was to bring forth “a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering,” and the priest would take this, offer it before the LORD, make atonement for her, and she would be cleansed of the issue of her blood. Verse 8 says, “And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles [that is, turtledoves], or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” If the woman was too poor to bring a lamb and a young pigeon, or a lamb and a turtledove, she was to either bring: (1) two turtledoves, or (2) two young pigeons. The Bible says that Mary offered either two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the “poor woman’s offering.” Joseph and Mary were not wealthy at all. Joseph was just a carpenter by trade (Matthew 13:55). Jesus Himself, when He grew up, became a carpenter (Mark 6:3). The Holy Spirit is emphasizing Jesus’ humility. The great God of Creation came, not to enjoy earthly riches and high social status, but to be a poverty-stricken Man! Earthly riches did not matter to Him. He did not grow up in some palace, but in a carpenter’s workshop, crafting the very substance (wood) on which He would suffer and die for us!

While Luke 9:58—Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”—is often used to say that Jesus was poor, we are persuaded that this verse is actually an indictment against Israel. There are other verses to prove Jesus was materially poor (see our opening comments). The context of Luke 9:58, however, suggests that our Lord is actually exposing Israel’s unbelief. Luke 9:58 is Jesus’ response to a previous statement, so we would do well to read that preceding verse: “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest” (verse 57). According to Matthew 8:19-20, the companion passage, this man is a scribe, a religious leader in Israel. This scribe makes a promise to Christ, to follow Him wherever He will go. Yet, notice Christ’s reply, Luke 9:58: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” The foxes and birds have places of residence, but not Jesus Christ. Where can He go? His nation—His own “flesh and blood”—unapologetically rejects Him. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).

Over 30 years prior to the events of Luke 9:58, a baby (Jesus) was born to a virgin in Israel. He was Israel’s Messiah-King, but sinful Israel did not want Him. Instead, she let wicked King Herod murder His (toddler) contemporaries, forcing Joseph and Mary to take the young child Jesus and flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18). When they later returned to Israel, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph dwelt in Nazareth, the “despised place” (verses 19-23). “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

With His nation callously rejecting Him, the only place Jesus Christ could go was Calvary’s cruel cross, to be sacrificed for their sins! Even after His resurrection, they refused to have Him. He ascended to heaven as a royal exile, but He shall return, and then He shall have a place to lay His head! Israel’s believing remnant will see Him returning in the skies above, and as JEHOVAH said, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10). It is then that Jesus Christ will finally inherit the throne of David, to rule not only over Israel, but also over all the heavens and all the earth!

Also see:
» What does “my kingdom is not of this world” mean?
» Why do the wicked prosper?
» Who is “the Bride of Christ?”

Do angels really watch us?

DO ANGELS REALLY WATCH US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Yes, the Bible confirms that angelic beings watch us Christians as we carry out our day-to-day activities. We will look at these verses in this study.

The Apostle Paul and Sosthenes wrote to the Corinthian church: “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9). Angels watched Paul and his companions conduct their ministries. The idea of “spectacle” is one of an arena or a theater: we are center-stage and the angels are sitting in the stands! Angels observe our activities—they see our sufferings for the Gospel’s sake, they hear our voices when we read God’s Word aloud, they see our sinful acts, they see us do the work of the ministry, and so on. We cannot see them but they can see us. By watching us and listening to us, the angels better understand God’s Word, especially how this the Dispensation of Grace operates (or, if our lives are inconsistent with grace living, they become confused). They are watching me write this and they are watching you read this!

When Paul gave Timothy a strict command in his first epistle to the young man, he wrote: “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (1 Timothy 5:21). The angels watched as Paul wrote this epistle to Timothy. They witnessed him giving Timothy instruction.

Concerning one of the many problems in Corinth (this problem being women usurping places of authority in the local church), Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:10: “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” Female Christians are to behave with the doctrine of headship in mind. They should not be behaving like men with respect to church leadership. Why? The angels are watching and they need to see God’s order of the sexes being followed instead of ignored. (For more information, you can see our study linked at the end of this article, “Must Christian women wear head coverings?”)

We read in 1 Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” While it is common to view this verse as referring to Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ being God was no “mystery” (for example, see Isaiah 9:6-7). The “mystery of godliness,” or secret of godliness, is that God would manifest Himself in human form with respect to the Church the Body of Christ. The Church the Body of Christ is the visible manifestation of Jesus Christ, the one true God. By means of Christians (the members, body-parts), the thoughts of the Head (Jesus Christ) are carried out. This doctrine was unheard of prior to Paul’s apostleship and epistles. We will discuss this more fully in a few moments.

Finally, Ephesians 3:8-10: “[8] Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; [9] And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: [10] To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” This passage will take some explaining.

In the Old Testament, the Four Gospels, and the first eight chapters of Acts, God spoke of His purpose and plan for the earth. That prophetic program focused on the nation Israel and an earthly kingdom (Matthew 25:34) “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21). But, during that time, God kept a secret, “the mystery,” “the hidden wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). When the ascended Lord Jesus Christ saved Saul of Tarsus and made him Paul the Apostle in Acts chapter 9, the Lord revealed that information to Paul: “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest…” (Romans 16:25,26a). Paul’s epistles alone reveal this mystery (secret) program (Ephesians 3:1-9; Colossians 1:24-27). Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon speak of God’s purpose and program for the heaven, which encompasses our present-day Dispensation of Grace, a heavenly kingdom, and the Church the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:6-7).

According to Ephesians 3:9, we members of the Body of Christ share the goal of the Apostle Paul: “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery….” Our goal is not only to proclaim to people this now-revealed information in Paul’s epistles, but also to make it known to the angels, “the principalities and powers in heavenly places.” We do so not only by preaching and teaching the Holy Bible rightly divided, but by letting Jesus Christ live His life in and through us. The angels and people will thus see that grace doctrine on display in our lives.

CONCLUSION

Angels observe us Christians in order to gain God’s wisdom. They understand what God is doing today by listening to us teach and preach God’s Word rightly divided. While most church members care not to listen to the rightly divided King James Bible, and the denominationalists dislike us for exposing their church tradition, at least the angels are watching us and they are listening to us. This knowledge will certainly cause us to think differently about committing sin—not only God and people, but angels, are watching us too! 🙂

Also see:
» What is “the Dispensation of Grace?”
» What is “the fellowship of the mystery?”
» Must Christian women wear head coverings?

Why does the Bible give two conflicting accounts of Judas’s death?

WHY DOES THE BIBLE GIVE TWO CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS OF JUDAS’S DEATH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No, the Bible does not give two differing accounts of Judas’s death. What is commonly called a “mistake” is nothing than a misunderstanding. While this topic is morose and this study is somewhat graphic to some, it is worth addressing and the matter is worth settling.

The Bible critics say the following: “The Bible has mistakes. For instance, one passage says that Judas hanged himself, and another passage says that he fell and his guts burst out!” Bless their hearts, there is nothing illogical about the narrative those passages put forth. Is it not strange that Bible scoffers can speak the truth and, blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3-4), still miss it entirely? What they think is an error is actually truth in plain sight! For sake of argument, we will examine the verses to learn exactly what happened to Judas during his last moments alive on Earth.

First, Matthew chapter 27, verses 1-10: “[1] When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: [2] And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. [3] Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, [4] Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. [5] And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. [6] And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. [7] And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. [8] Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. [9] Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; [10] And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.”

According to Matthew, after Jesus’ arrest and condemnation, Judas changed his mind. He returned to the Temple, to the chief priests and elders, to give them the 30 pieces of silver for which he had betrayed Jesus. They refused to take the money, deeming it “blood money.” Judas threw the coins on the ground, and the Bible says he went out and “hanged himself.”

About six weeks later, the Apostle Peter commented in Acts chapter 1: “[16] Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. [17] For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. [18] Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. [19] And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.”

Peter describes Judas, “falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.” If we simply conflate Matthew’s account and Peter’s account, it makes perfect sense. Judas hanged himself and then died. Later, the noose broke and his body violently fell headfirst, spilling all of his guts on the ground. Surely, it was a most unpleasant sight. News of it spread quickly in Jerusalem. One of Jesus’ closest friends (and His most trusted apostle) had committed suicide.

But, why did the noose break? This requires some study (scoffing is easier). Remember, not many hours after Judas hung himself outside Jerusalem, Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s cross outside Jerusalem. They died in the same general area. Matthew 27:50-51 explains: “[50] Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. [51] And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” This earthquake at Christ’s death is unique to Matthew’s gospel record. A seismic event rocked Jerusalem and the surrounding area, and the intense shaking likely caused Judas’ body to fall from its hanging position. Perhaps his body was so high up, or maybe the earthquake was so intense, something threw his body to the ground with such great force that all of his insides gushed out. Horrible!

CONCLUSION

There is no contradiction concerning Judas’ death. Judas died once, and then, after death, his corpse was mangled. Judas died by hanging and then his lifeless body fell from the noose (probably because of an earthquake). Yes, friends, a little extrapolation, a little common sense, goes a long way. May we believe the simple claims of the Bible instead of complicating them!

Also see:
» Does Matthew 19:27-28 prove Judas is in heaven?
» Was Judas forgiven?
» Who was Judas’ replacement—Matthias or Paul?

Should Christians participate in yoga?

SHOULD CHRISTIANS ENGAGE IN YOGA EXERCISES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Can believers willingly participate in yoga (exercise) and gain ONLY the physical benefits, and remain ‘neutral’ from the general tie-in to Eastern mysticism?” What an interesting question! Thank you for asking. Let us first define “yoga” and then we can see if the Scriptures have any advice on the subject.

Firstly, according to Dictionary.com, the term “yoga” has three senses:

  1. a school of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.
  2. any of the methods or disciplines prescribed, especially a series of postures and breathing exercises practiced to achieve control of the body and mind, tranquillity, etc.
  3. union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.

I assume your question is about definition number 2? 🙂 For those unfamiliar with this topic, note that it has a pagan (or, non-Christian) origin. Specifically, yoga is used in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism (Eastern religions) as means of physical and spiritual “exercise.” Not many Westerners who practice yoga know it, but it was originally a method to gain physical and spiritual health. If we participate in yoga, we must guard against its “spiritual” aspect. Let us explain this a bit further.

The Oxford American Dictionary says of “yoga:” “A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation. The yoga widely known in the West is based on hatha yoga, which forms one aspect of the ancient Hindu system of religious and ascetic observance and meditation, the highest form of which is raja yoga and the ultimate aim of which is spiritual purification and self-understanding leading to samadhi or union with the divine.”

Before coming here to the Western Hemisphere, yoga was used to gain some “higher consciousness,” contact with “the Divine,” an “enlightenment.” Yoga is a form of “mysticism” whereby you contemplate enough and self-surrender enough, enabling you to leave this material world and unite with some “higher power” to obtain “higher knowledge.” All the religious jargon aside, yoga was and still is an attempt to replace the Holy Bible and Jesus Christ. The experience, not the Bible, becomes the authority. The experience, not the Bible, is seen as the way to connecting with a “higher power.” The experience, not the Bible, is the manner whereby wisdom and intellect are gained. The experience, not Jesus Christ, is believed to be the way to “spiritual purification.” The experience, not Jesus Christ, is believed to be the path to God. The experience, not Jesus Christ, controls the minds of those who use yoga for spiritual purposes. Unfortunately, once we get in contact with the “spiritual world,” it is not necessarily a connection with the God of Creation, the God of the Bible—Satan works in the spirit world too and we dare not associate with him!

If you as a Christian are interested in merely the physical benefits of yoga, there is nothing sinful about it. Still, and this is most important of all, in light of the information presented above, just remember that your participation in yoga may cause other Christians to stumble. They may consider it “sin” and you would then have to go about it in a different manner. If you do choose to engage in yoga exercises, you also need to “exercise” charity, putting the wellbeing of others ahead of your own.

For example, a fellow Christian may approach you about yoga, saying, “Hey, is not yoga something sinful, something of heathen origin? Why do you do it? Christians should not get involved with that!” At that point, you would need to address his or her concern, lest the Adversary get the advantage. In your mind, you are not sinning. You are not repeating the prayers and chants and engaging in its other pagan practices; you are exercising simply for health reasons. If ever in such a situation, explain it to them clearly and firmly, but gently and lovingly: “I do not agree with the spiritual aspect of yoga, its false theology, and I do not utter the pagan chants or prayers while doing it. I am merely interested in the physical benefits of yoga.”

A Christian who does not yet fully understand that Father God has given us liberty in Christ, may still have problems reconciling your actions in his or her mind, so then it would then be best not to do yoga in public (or at least, not in his or her presence). Maybe consider doing yoga exercises in the privacy of your home (like with DVDs or CDs), whereby no Christians would stumble? That may be the best alternative to running the risk of causing others to stumble, or tainting your testimony. You should choose how to go about doing it, in light of the following information.

Any weaker Christians should definitely not engage in yoga at all (until they resolve in their minds that they can keep themselves spiritually pure, they will damage their spiritual health). A general rule of thumb for all life decisions, not just yoga, is the following: If there is doubt about doing it, then do not do it. “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b). If you think you can keep yourself spiritually pure while exercising in yoga, it is not a sin. Just walk in charity, keeping others in mind. If you regard yoga as something to be avoided entirely, then it is your prerogative to avoid it.

If you want to engage in yoga exercises merely for physical purposes, you are highly encouraged to read Romans 14:1-23, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, and 1 Corinthians 10:23-33—these passages are reminders of how we are to “exercise” our liberty in Christ without harming other Christians. A common conundrum among the Gentile believers of Paul’s day was, “Is it okay to eat meat (or, food in general) that was once sacrificed to pagan idols? Will that diet of heathen offerings give me a bad standing before God? Can that idol (false religious system) defile me by means of that food?”

The Bible says in Romans chapter 14: “[7] For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. [8] For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. [9] For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. [13] Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. [14] I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. [15] But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. [16] Let not then your good be evil spoken of: [17] For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. [18] For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. [19] Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. [20] For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. [21] It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. [22] Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. [23] And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

Notice that the Christians stronger in the faith (more mature in the Word of God)—such as the Apostle Paul—knew there was nothing wrong with that food that had been offered to idols. The idol was dead (unable to defile the food), the food was hence still good, and Paul had no problem eating it. He had a strong conscience about it. That was his liberty in Jesus Christ. Still, Paul would also walk “charitably,” seeking the good of those around him. If a weaker Christian (a Christian with a weak conscience, someone who was less mature in the Word of God) had a problem with Paul’s action, if the weaker Christian voiced concern that eating meat offered to idols was sinful, then Paul said he refrained from doing it for the brother or sister’s sake. The Apostle knew that it was better to do without something, than to have it and then use it to spiritually harm another believer. He did not want to do Satan’s work. He refused to be a stumblingblock to others when it came to this or any other action. Friends, grace living seeks the benefit of others; grace living is not selfish living but selfless living!

We read of this matter further in 1 Corinthians chapter 8: “[1] Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. [2] And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. [3] But if any man love God, the same is known of him. [4] As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. [5] For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) [6] But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. [7] Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. [8] But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. [9] But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. [10] For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; [11] And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? [12] But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. [13] Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”

The Apostle continued in 1 Corinthians chapter 10: “[23] All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. [24] Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. [25] Whatsoever is sold in the shambles [marketplace], that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: [26] For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. [27] If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. [28] But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: [29] Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? [30] For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? [31] Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. [32] Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: [33] Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”

In Greek culture such as in Corinth, animals were offered as sacrifices in pagan temples and then the meat was sold in the marketplace. Some Christians just refused to eat any meat, fearing they would pollute themselves with that which came from a heathen temple. Other Christians, the more mature ones, knew the idols were nothing and the idols did not harm the food, so these Christians considered the meat clean to eat. Regardless of which type of Christian they were, Paul urged all Christians: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” We should ultimately seek God’s praise and glory in all that we do, paying close attention that we build up other Christians with our actions instead of tearing them down.

CONCLUSION

You can follow the yoga exercise techniques without agreeing with the false theology behind it and without uttering the religious nonsense chanted—just be sure not to let Satan use yoga as a gateway to influence your thinking! (It would be for that reason that weaker Christians not engage in yoga at all.)

There is a lot of “religious mumbo-jumbo” associated with yoga, so you have to “exercise” great caution when getting into it. I do not see anything sinful about a Christian participating in yoga, so long as he or she strictly follows the exercise movements (and does not repeat the phrases, “mantras,” thinking the vain prayers, which may or may not be in English, and which may contain a variety of false religious ideologies, including praise and allegiance to Eastern deities). Instead of uttering chants about false religion, think about Bible verses and meditate on them. Pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ when exercising. This will keep your mind from wandering from sound Bible doctrine.

Using the above applications of grace living (excerpts from Romans and 1 Corinthians), we can better understand what we should do in regards to yoga. It is a personal decision. While eating meat offered to idols is not so much an issue today, the principles of charity remain the same. If we use our liberty in Christ and offend other Christians with our actions, it is best not to engage in those activities again in their presence. If you think it would be in your best interest and the best interest of others to engage in only the physical activities of yoga, then you are free to do so. Just keep in mind that some activities are not profitable to others or ourselves. Certain activities are not sins but weaker Christians may see them as sins, and we have to keep these precious people in mind.

Because of its origin in Eastern religions, some are completely opposed to yoga, fearing the promotion of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, et cetera. It would be those who hold this view, that we not cause to stumble. Saint, if you do not believe you should participate in yoga, do not do it. “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b). Saint, if you want to participate only in the physical activities of yoga, you are free to do so, just use your liberty in Christ with caution, “exercising” attentiveness to any Christians who may be offended, and “exercising” in grace accordingly! 🙂

Also see:
» Should Christians consume alcoholic beverages? (COMING SOON!)
» Should Christians smoke cigarettes? (COMING SOON!)
» Should Christians play the lottery and/or gamble? (COMING SOON)