Monthly Archives: September 2016

Can you explain 1 Corinthians chapter 8?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN 1 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 8?

by Shawn Brasseaux

I would be glad to do so, my friend! Before proceeding to exposition, we will read the chapter in its entirety. (Do not worry. It is but 13 verses!)

“[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.”

Chapter 8 opens a section of the Book of 1 Corinthians that deals with Christians associating with pagan idolatry and false religion. That section ends with the last verse of chapter 11. Friend, in your own personal study, you may read, as one unit, chapters 8-11 of 1 Corinthians, in order to get the full impact of what we will soon discuss. (You may also refer to our study linked at the end of this article, concerning the Lord’s Supper—chapters 10 and 11). With that said, we will study and explain 1 Corinthians chapter 8 verse-by-verse.

Verse 1: “[1] Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.”

Regarding things offered to idols, the Apostle Paul expected the Corinthians to have some knowledge. After all, he had been with them for 18 months, teaching them the Word of God (Acts 18:11). Furthermore, Romans chapter 14 had already dealt with how to handle matters involving the special diets of other Christians. The Corinthians should have had a grasp of the basic doctrine of Romans, but, as we will see, they did not. There was head knowledge but not heart faith! Notice the statement, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” Being aware of a lot of information can often lead to pride (“puffeth up” is “inflateth like a balloon”). It is not uncommon to find in various realms—sadly, even in “Christian” circles—people bragging about how much they know. They have been educated here, they have received advanced degrees from there, and so on. Without charity, the knowledge a person has will not benefit others. A lack of charity often means knowledge will be used to damage others.

Charity was greatly lacking in the Corinthian assembly—see chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. The word charity means, “love in action.” Love is the attitude while charity is the behavior that the attitude of love produces. Charity is seeking another person’s benefit—charity is the opposite of selfishness. The Corinthians had learned a lot of doctrine from Paul, but they had not applied it to life by faith and were still not applying it to life by faith. In fact, not only was this destroying their own Christian lives, but all the other Christians’ lives around them. Since charity was absent, none of the Christians impacted were being “edified” (built up). Let us continue reading and expounding the chapter to see this fleshed out.

Verse 2: “And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.”

This is a reference back to verse 1 about “knowledge puffeth up.” Someone who feels superior to others simply because of his knowledge, he does not really know what he needs to know. In other words, he is not as knowledgeable as he estimates. With that knowledge, he should also know he should have charity. Charity ensures he will use his knowledge to edify his brethren instead of using that knowledge to destroy their edification process. Again, a lack of charity often means knowledge will be used to damage others. Never forget that, my friend!

Verse 3: “But if any man love God, the same is known of him.”

While commonly assumed to be referring to God knowing the man who loves Him, verse 4 causes me to conclude the pronoun “him” refers to the man rather than to God. That is, instead of reading the verse as “if any man love God, the same [man] is known of him [God],” read it as “if any man love God, the same [God] is known of him [the man who loves God].” A man who loves God will know of God. In other words, the man who loves God is going to know God is not some dead idol. A man who knows God knows God is living. As verse 4 says, “…we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.”

Verse 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.”

During heathen festivals and other religious ceremonies, the pagan priests offered portions of animal sacrifices to the idols. Was it okay for Christians to eat that food offered to idols? The Corinthians had divided opinions. Thus, they asked Paul about it, prompting him to write this present chapter (see 1 Corinthians 8:1; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Corinthians 16:1).

One Bible commentator provides some insight into the culture of the day: “The difficulty concerning idols, and sacrifices offered to idols, was twofold: First, to take any part in social life in the city of Corinth necessarily involved eating in public, in what was known as ‘common meals.’ These feasts were usually held in the temple, and on occasions it was a gala feast with more ceremony, which related to the worship of a pagan god. In the second place, a great percentage of the meat sold in the marketplace had been offered to idols. Thus, two difficulties arose for believers.”

Let us read verse 4 again: “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.” The idol is powerless to contaminate the food. There is nothing wrong with the food. It is just ordinary food. It is neither magical nor special. Had it been offered to the one true God, it would have been special—recall the sacrifices to JEHOVAH God in the Book of Leviticus, for example. Since the idols were dead and incapable of affecting anything, the foods were still regular foods. In the mind of a mature Christian, in God’s mind, there is nothing wrong with that food. It will not defile us. We will not go to hell for eating it. That food will not instill evil within us. Consuming that food is not equivalent to worshipping the idol to which it had been offered.

Verses 5-6: “[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.”

These two verses are explanatory information for verse 4. In this world of thousands of various religions, tens of thousands of denominations, there are numerous deities. Those deities are all worshipped in their respective groups as though they were legitimate supreme beings. People of the world religions believe in countless gods. However, we Christian believers know there is really one God. He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. He, not those idols of world religions, is the source of all things. They are not Him and He is not them!

Acts 17:24-29 is Paul’s sermon to idol worshippers at Athens: “[24] God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; [25] Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; [26] And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; [27] That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: [28] For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. [29] Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” We are to live for His glory and seek His will; we are not to be allegiant to false gods and goddesses.

As they believe in various gods, so the people of the world religions believe in various lords (masters). However, we Christian believers know there is really one Lord. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. By Him, God the Father created all things. Ephesians 3:9 says in our King James Bible: “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been in hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” (That phrase “by Jesus Christ” is omitted from modern English versions!) And, Hebrews 1:1-2 affirms: “God… Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom [His Son] also he made the worlds….” Our focus should be on Father God (the one God), and His Son Jesus Christ (the one Lord). We should not be sidetracked by Satan’s counterfeits (many gods and many lords). Ephesians 4:4-6 tells us: “[4] There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; [5] One Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Verse 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.”

This is in stark contrast to the first six verses. While we understand the difference between a powerless idol and the one true God, while we should understand the difference between a helpless idol and the living God, some believers do not yet have that knowledge. They are eating things offered to idols without knowing that the idols have not the defiled the food. They eat the food as a thing offered unto an idol. In their minds, eating the food offered is the same as worshiping the idol itself. Consequently, their weak conscience is defiled. The meat did not defile them; the eating without faith defiled them. As Romans 14:23 says: “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

Let us talk a little about the conscience. The “conscience” is our personal system of standards and norms that define our individual behavior. We use our conscience to evaluate what is “acceptable” in our eyes and what is “unacceptable” in our eyes. Someone who thinks the food is contaminated by idols, someone who thinks eating the food is the very act of idol worship, and they eat the food, they are going against their conscience. Sound Bible doctrine has not yet given them a strong conscience. They have not reached the point of spiritual maturity as the Christians who think according to verses 1-6. These weaker brethren still believe those idols have power to defile the food, and that the food defiles them spiritually if they consume it. The Bible says their conscience is damaged or “wounded” (verse 12). So, the natural question is, “If someone believes that food is contaminated by a false religious system, why is he or she eating that food in the first place?” The answer will be provided in verses 9-13. We will look at those verses shortly.

Verse 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.”

Paul wrote this verse for the benefit of the weaker brethren, those who have a weak conscience and lack the spiritual knowledge of the opening six verses. Father God accepts us on the basis of faith in Christ. “We are accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). God does not accept us on the basis of whether or not we eat food offered to idols. The weaker Christian thinks this way because he has not yet come to a firm understanding of sound Bible doctrine. A Christian with a weak conscience will assume he should avoid the food, lest God reject him for being “defiled,” “idolatrous,” or “unclean.” Weaker Christians should come to see the matter the way God sees it and the way mature Christians see it. “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.” “Commendeth” means, “set forth for approval.” God does not think less of Christians who eat meat offered to idols. He does not think more of Christians who refrain from eating such meat. God is looking for a right heart attitude. Was it done by faith in His Word, or without faith and under peer pressure? Father God is looking for faith and not doubt. Romans 14:23: “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

Verse 9: “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”

Notice, this is a warning given to Christians who have knowledge about idols being nothing in the world and things offered to idols not being contaminated. While verse 8 is true (“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.”), the weaker brother has yet to grasp it. Consequently, the stronger brother is to take heed, beware, that he uses his knowledge charitably (verse 1). The stronger brother is aware of his liberty to eat things offered to idols without being polluted internally. He knows eating the meat offered to idols is separate and distinct from worshipping the idol. The idols are nothing; the food is still edible, unaffected. However, if he does not use his freedom wisely, he will become a stumblingblock to his weaker brother. The stronger brother is to live in order to edify others (particularly weaker Christians). Instead of tearing them down, he is to build them up spiritually. If the stronger brother does not act charitably, exercising knowledge in a way that will benefit those around him, the weaker brethren will stumble. The stronger brother, although claiming to know so much, although having such a high opinion of himself concerning knowledge of things offered to idols, had no idea how much damage he would inflict upon his weaker Christian brother for behaving foolishly concerning things offered to idols (verse 2). This will be explained in the next few verses.

Verses 10-11: “[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?”

Verse 10 is an explanation of verse 9, although verse 10 here is a unique case involving a pagan temple. Heathen feasts were held in the idol’s temple, and stronger Christians believed they could eat the meat being offered. This could be disadvantageous. If a weak Christian saw the stronger Christian eating food in the idol’s temple, the weaker brother would be “emboldened” (encouraged, pressured) into eating things offered to idols. Again, it would be a breach of conscience (verse 7). Thus, we see the people in verse 7, those eating things offered to idols even though they thought that food defiled them, they are eating because of peer pressure. The stronger brethren have not exercised charity!!! They have not edified the weaker brethren. Through the knowledge of the stronger brother, the weaker brother perished. “Perish” here does not mean to die physically, or to lose soul salvation and go to hell. It means the weaker Christian’s life will die—it will cease to function properly. His edification process has been interrupted, and may never resume! Hence, the Bible says be careful how you use your Christian liberty!

Friends, we would do well to pause here and remind our brethren in Christ never to use their liberty for an occasion to the flesh. The Bible says in Galatians 5:13: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Although God’s Word exhorts us to “serve one another,” to “[look] every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4), this is often not done. With a heavy heart, I write this. There is far, FAR, too much selfish living among Christians today. Some preachers have stood behind pulpits in church buildings, wearing T-shirts that advertise bars and nightclubs!! Christians, even so-called “ministers,” use vulgar language on social media!! They do not think twice about posting indecent pictures on the internet for all to see and share!! (If you comment against it, they will say YOU are the one with the problem!!!) Cain’s egocentric question is echoed, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).

We read 1 Corinthians 8:11 again: “And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” Christ died for the stronger brother and weaker brother alike. He does not think less of the weaker brother and He does not think more of the stronger brother. However, if the stronger brother behaves uncharitably toward the weaker brother, the stronger brother thinks less of the weaker brother. That stronger brother did not simply mistreat some stranger, but another member of God’s family! Verse 12 goes into greater detail about this.

Verse 12: “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.”

Dear brethren, if our Christian lives are not filled with charity, then we will sin against our brothers and sisters in Christ (go back to our opening comments about verse 1!!). We will wound their weak conscience. We will sin against Jesus Christ Himself! Think about it. Whatever you do to your weaker brother in Christ, friend, that is what you would do to Jesus Himself if He stood before you!

Verse 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.”

This knowledge is lacking in the brother mentioned in verse 2. Paul is a mature believer who is going to make personal application in his own life (and on into chapter 9). In light of the potential damage to other Christians in verses 7-12, especially verse 12, Paul said, if it caused a brother to stumble, he would not eat another bite of that meat offered to idols. As long as this world system was operating, the Apostle would always carefully use his liberty in Christ. Paul did not want to sin against his brethren. He did not want to wound their weak conscience. He did not want to sin against Christ. If only more believers had the mindset of verse 13. Many a stumbled Christians would have not stumbled! Many a Christians who tossed out the Bible and went back into the world, would have stayed in God’s Word! Unfortunately, the Christians around them lived loosely and selfishly. Some of their brethren paid for it dearly!

IS THIS CHAPTER REALLY APPLICABLE TO US TODAY?

Eating meat offered to idols is not a very common practice today as it was in the New Testament times. Still, it does happen. For example, even here in the United States of America, with whole neighborhoods guided by world religions, eating meat offered to idols is possible. The application of 1 Corinthians chapter 8 goes beyond the issue of idols and food offered to them. It can apply to any behavior in life. Brother or sister in Christ, it is extremely problematic if you start living at the expense of other Christians. If you are under the impression that God’s forgiveness entitles you to do anything and everything you want, then you do not know what you ought to know. Knowledge without charity is spiritually dangerous. How many poor Christians have stumbled in their lives because other Christians around them pressured them into doing things they were not comfortable in doing? Sad! How many dear Christians have completely tossed out the Bible because other Christians around them habitually lived in open and gross sin? Again, how sad!

We close by citing two self-explanatory, supplemental passages.

Romans 14:15-23: “[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.” (You may see verses 1-14 as well.)

First Corinthians 10:23-24: “[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.”

Enjoy our Bible Q&A articles? You may always donate to us securely at: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux. Please remember that we have a wide variety of Bible Q&A booklets for sale as well.

Also see:
» Are Christian women required to wear head coverings?
» Should Christians participate in yoga?
» Should we observe The Lord’s Supper?

What does, “Quit you like men,” mean?

WHAT DOES, “QUIT YOU LIKE MEN,” MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14). What does our King James Bible mean when it admonishes, “Quit you like men?”

“Quit you like men” appears twice in our King James Bible—1 Samuel 4:9 and 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. We need not complain of “old-fashioned” verbiage; we need not run to lexicons or modern versions for clarification. What we need to do is let God’s Word define its vocabulary for us. When exhorting “quit you like men,” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 simultaneously defines the term for us. “Stand fast,” “men,” and “strong” convey the idea of maturity: only mature people stand fast, men are adults, only mature people (adults) are strong. The larger context of 1 Corinthians 16:13-14—the epistle of 1 Corinthians—explains why the Apostle Paul concluded that book with such an exhortation.

Corinth, a seaport near Athens, Greece, had a grace Christian church Paul personally founded in Acts chapter 18. Unfortunately, these believers ignored most of the doctrine Paul delivered them. Their spiritually immaturity was so severe that they could not resolve simple conflicts amongst themselves, they ignored God’s Word to them and embraced pagan philosophy instead, they fell into devil worship, they abandoned the doctrine of bodily resurrection that Paul had personally taught them, and they abused spiritual gifts—among many other errors that still plague Christendom today!

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2). Paul wrote these Christians a lengthy doctrinal letter, 1 Corinthians, encouraging them to grow up! He concluded by telling them that they needed to act like spiritual adults (1 Corinthians 16:13-14); they needed to place their faith in that epistle, and stand fast in that doctrine, to gain the charity (love in action) they lacked (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). They were to “fight the good fight of faith” as mature soldiers of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:12; cf. 1 Samuel 4:9).

Saints, may we by faith obey 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 delivered us.

Also see:
» Does it really matter what Bible version I use?
» How does one know if he or she is maturing in the Word of God?
» Must I study the Bible in its original languages to understand it?

Could you explain John 1:51?

COULD YOU EXPLAIN JOHN 1:51?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some have expressed great difficulty with John 1:51: “And he [Jesus] saith unto him [Nathanael], Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” When exactly was this fulfilled—Christ’s earthly ministry, or is it still awaiting fulfillment? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

John 1:51 should bring to mind the “Old Testament” reference we know as “the dream of Jacob’s ladder.” Some 1800 years before Christ, Jacob, living in the Promised Land, experienced the following in Genesis 28:10-15: “[10] And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. [11] And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. [12] And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. [13] And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; [14] And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. [15] And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”

In verse 12, Jacob witnessed a ladder extending from Earth to Heaven. He also saw the angels of God ascending and descending to Earth via that ladder. Notice they are not descending and ascending, but rather ascending from and descending to Earth. That is, planet Earth is the headquarters of God’s rule. This is the cross-reference to John 1:51: “And he [Jesus] saith unto him [Nathanael], Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” Notice John has the same order as Genesis 28:12—“ascending and descending.” (We will return to this later. For now, observe how these two concepts are related.)

Why did Jacob have this dream? It was God confirming the Abrahamic Covenant to him, since Jacob was Abraham’s grandson (verses 13-14). This was the covenant God had first given to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 13:14-17, Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 17:1-19, Genesis 22:15-19). God then passed that covenant on to Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 21:12, Genesis 26:1-5). In the context of Genesis chapter 28, God has passed that covenant to Isaac’s son Jacob (Genesis 28:13-14). The bloodline of the nation Israel, and the bloodline of Messiah Jesus, is being formed here. Jacob will go on to have 12 sons, and these 12 men will become the 12 tribes of Israel (Acts 7:8).

We continue reading in Genesis chapter 28: “[16] And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. [17] And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. [18] And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. [19] And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. [20] And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, [21] So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: [22] And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”

In verse 17, Jacob says, “How dreadful [awesome, magnificent] is this place!” He calls the place “Bethel” (its former name was “Luz”). The name “Bethel” means “the House of God,” “God’s House,” or “where God lives” (cf. verses 17 and 22). Furthermore, Jacob realizes the area he is living in is “the gate of heaven” (verse 17). The word “gate” here means “government” (cf. Genesis 19:1). Earth is the headquarters for God’s rule; His governmental powers in creation are centered on Earth. Jesus spoke John 1:51 in this light. In the Millennium (1,000-year earthly kingdom), the angels will ascend from Earth to Heaven, and descend from Heaven to Earth. They will report to and take orders from King Jesus Christ reigning in Jerusalem on Earth. The Lord Jesus will literally be ruling from David’s throne in Jerusalem on Earth (Isaiah 2:1-4; Joel 3:17; Zechariah 14:1-4,9,16-17; Luke 1:32-33; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:4,6; et cetera).

Remember, the purpose of the Abrahamic Covenant was for God to reign on the Earth in a kingdom. The redeemed nation Israel would be His kingdom of priests to evangelize the Gentiles. Those who had faith in the Abrahamic Covenant saw Jesus as Messiah/Christ/King in the Four Gospels, Him coming to set up their kingdom. These believers were the converts of John the Baptist in John chapter 1. Jesus said that, one day, they (Israel’s believing remnant) would see Him glorified on David’s throne (cf. John 1:51). This is yet future, still awaiting fulfillment. The Abrahamic Covenant has never been fully accomplished yet. Right now, it is momentarily stalled because, in this the Dispensation of Grace, God is forming the Church the Body without any covenants.

John chapter 1 actually contains various glimpses of the future. We see how believing Jews will reach other Jews with the message of Jesus being Christ/Messiah (see verses 40-46). Then, Israel undergoes a national conversion, and verse 51 is fulfilled. Notice how Jesus talked about “greater things” and “hereafter” in verse 51. “…[T]hou shalt see greater things than these [previous events]. And he [Jesus] saith unto him [Nathanael], Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” Verse 51 is a future verse, even from our day. It has not been fulfilled yet so do not attempt to place it historically in Matthew through John. John 1:51, while not fulfilled at Christ’s First Coming, will come to pass at His Second Coming and subsequent 1,000-year earthly kingdom.

Also see:
» Are we “doom and gloom” Bible-prophecy believers?
» Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?
» Does “All Israel shall be saved” mean every Jew will be saved?

Who, crucified on Calvary, mocked Jesus?

WHO, CRUCIFIED ON CALVARY, MOCKED JESUS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Bible critics, always seeking “problematic” verses to pick at, say Scripture contradicts itself concerning those crucified with Christ. Two Gospel Records say two thievesmocked Jesus. A third Gospel Record claims one malefactor mocked Jesus and another malefactor believed on Him. Is one of these accounts, or all of them, flawed? If not, does this necessitate four people be crucified with Christ? Or, were there only two people crucified with Christ? If so, why does the Bible say one mocked and one did not, while also saying both mocked? Beloved, this is needlessly complicating the Bible, lost people speculating and Christians repeating lost people’s comments. If they would just actually study their Bibles and let God’s Word speak for itself, they would never wind up with such awful conundrums! In this Bible study, we set the record straight (and hopefully dispel erroneous ideas and confusion).

MATTHEW—TWO THIEVES MOCKED JESUS. Matthew chapter 27: “[38] Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left…. [44] The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth [that is, also reviled/insulted Him; see verses 39-43].”

MARK—TWO THIEVES MOCKED JESUS. Mark chapter 15: “[27] And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left…. [32] Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.”

Thus far, Matthew and Mark agree with each other. No problem here. There were two “thieves” crucified with Jesus and both ridiculed Him. However, the Book of Luke will seem to challenge this simple scenario.

LUKE—ONE MALEFACTOR MOCKED CHRIST WHILE ONE MALEFACTOR TRUSTED CHRIST. Luke chapter 23: “[39] And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. [40] But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? [41] And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. [42] And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. [43] And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

JOHN—TWO CRUCIFIED, BUT NO COMMENT ON ANYONE MOCKING OR TRUSTING JESUS. While John 19:18 mentions only two crucified with Jesus, it does not comment concerning mocking or trusting. It merely says, “Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.”

CONCLUSION

Dear friends, I have said it before, and I will say it again. If we use just a little common sense, it will carry us far in the Bible! The two “thieves” in Matthew and Mark are the same two “malefactors” (criminals) in Luke. We need not complicate the Bible unless we have an agenda (we want to discredit the Bible, we want to advance a “pet” theological position, and so on). Let us not be silly and say four people were crucified with Jesus. Unless, of course, we will apply that idea all the way through and say—“two thieves” (Matthew and Mark), “two malefactors” (Luke), and “two” others who neither trusted nor mocked (John). See, it gets more and more ridiculous. Keep it simple! Keep it simple! Keep it simple!

Jesus was crucified with two individuals (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). They were called “thieves” in Matthew and Mark, and “malefactors” in Luke. Initially, both men mocked Jesus (Matthew and Mark). Then, one man had a change in heart (in Luke only). He began to rebuke the other man, the one who continued laughing at the Lord Jesus. Friends, this is the simplest explanation, so we need not seek any other. We do not have to entertain the ideas of “Bible mistakes,” “four to six individuals crucified with Jesus,” et cetera. Such is worthless speculation. Satan loves nothing more than when people twist God’s Word out of shape and make it into nonsense.

Concerning the idea about whether there were three or five crosses on Calvary, please see our study linked below. Regarding the repentant thief and why he changed his mind to trust Christ instead of continue to mock Him, see our related study linked below.

Also see:
» Were there five crosses on Calvary?
» What made the repentant thief change his mind about Jesus?
» Why does the Bible give two accounts of Judas’s death?

Why did God demand blood sacrifices?

WHY DID GOD DEMAND BLOOD SACRIFICES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Do you ever wonder why God demands blood sacrifices for man’s sin? In this Bible study, we want to use the Holy Scriptures to answer this question.

Blood must be shed if man is to be forgiven of his sins. This is transdispensational: it is true for every dispensation, no matter where you are in the Bible.

It was true of Adam and Eve: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). God killed animals and made coats of skins for Adam and Eve, and this shed blood covered their sins.

The shedding of blood is necessary if we are to receive forgiveness of our sins: “In whom we have redemption through his [Christ’s] blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7). Colossians 1:14 affirms: “In whom [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

Blood must also be shed for people who will live beyond our Dispensation of Grace to be forgiven of their sins: “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building: neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:11,12).

Hence, we read in Hebrews 9:22b: “…And without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness].” But, what is so special about blood? Why blood, of all things, is needed for the remission of sins? Let us search the Scriptures for the answer.

Once Noah got off the ark, notice what the Bible says in Genesis 9:1-4: “[1] And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. [2] And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. [3] Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. [4] But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”

As verse 4 teaches, blood is the source of life. God later told Israel in the Mosaic Law: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul…  Blood… For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off” (Leviticus 17:11,14). And Deuteronomy 12:23: “…eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.”

Now, remember that sin causes death: “The wages of sin is death(Romans 6:23a). James 1:15b concurs: “…[S]in, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Are you beginning to see why blood is necessary for forgiveness of sins?

The Bible explains why God demands blood for sins. What is the answer to death? Life! What is the answer to sin? Blood! Blood is the solution to sin because life is the answer to death. The sacrificial blood would give new life—it would atone, or “make man at one with God.” The Old Testament animals’ blood sacrifices could not take away sins: hence, they were only temporary (Hebrews 10:2-12). Although the cross was still future, God would credit believers with the finished crosswork of Christ, which did take away sins. When the Old Testament animal sacrifices were offered, God would apply the merits of Calvary’s cross to that particular saint. Once Christ died, the animal sacrifices were unnecessary.

Hebrews 10:10-14 reminds Israel: “[10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [11] And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: [12] But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; [13] From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. [14] For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

King David wrote about those who offered animal sacrifices in the Old Testament economy: “Blessed is the whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity…” (Psalm 32:1,2a). Our Apostle Paul quoted this in Romans 4:1-8, which describes our salvation today in the Dispensation of Grace: “[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [6] Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, [7] Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. [8] Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

Thus again we see the connection between the Old Testament animal sacrifices and the offering of Christ on Calvary’s cross. The blood sacrifices represented the new life we have today in Jesus Christ. We are forgiven of our sins, and we made “at one” with God. “Our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11).

CONCLUSION

The Bible explains why God demands blood for sins. The answer to death is life, so the answer to sin is blood. Blood is the solution to sin because life is the answer to death. The sacrificial blood would give new life—it would atone, or “make man at one with God.”

In hindsight, we see the Old Testament blood sacrifices were a “type”/“picture”/preview of the perfect blood of Jesus Christ that provides total and permanent forgiveness, and more importantly: “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). We are spiritually dead in and of ourselves: “we [are] dead in [our] trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). But, if we have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God has given us new life in Christ.

Friend, please understand that we cannot gain God’s forgiveness by walking an aisle, saying a prayer, getting water baptized, confessing our sins, taking communion, giving money to a ministry, joining a church, or doing any other religious activities. We have sins that must be dealt with, and they can be paid for in two places: at Calvary’s cross, or in the everlasting flames of the lake of fire. The blood of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can take away our sins: our performance cannot, for we can never measure up to God in our own strength. Will you trust in the fact that Jesus Christ suffered God’s wrath against your sins for you, or will you reject Him and continue toward everlasting hellfire, where you will suffer God’s wrath against your sins forever?

The Gospel of the Grace of God declares that Christ died for our sins, He was buried to put away those sins, and He was raised for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Will you trust in Jesus Christ alone as your personal Saviour, that His blood sacrifice is enough to pay for your sins? I hope you will.

What wonderful truths, and praise the Lord that we can rejoice in them!

Also see:
» Why did God reject Cain’s offering?
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?
» Was God unfair in striking Uzzah dead?

What does “All Israel shall be saved” mean?

DOES ROMANS 11:26, “ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED,” MEAN EVERY JEW WILL GO TO HEAVEN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says in Romans 11:26-27: “[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.” Does this mean that every single Jew who has ever lived will come to faith in Christ? Does this mean that every last Jew will go to heaven? Let us look in the Bible for answers!

Romans 11:26 predicts: “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:” This word “all” is indicative of the nation rather than individual Jewish salvation. It is a corporate issue.

To read about individual Jewish salvation, we refer to Romans 10:1: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Paul wanted individual Jews to be saved during the Acts period (see verse 9). Those Jews, like him, had rebelled against Jesus Christ (Matthew through John) and the Holy Spirit (early Acts). They were part of an apostate nation, and they needed to be saved from the error that had gripped national Israel. Individual Jews could be saved (Romans 11:14; 1 Corinthians 9:22) but the nation of Israel could not be saved at that point. National Israel was set aside and still is set aside. Paul was the primary example of a Jewish individual being saved unto eternal life without national Israel being saved unto eternal life (see 1 Corinthians 15:8).

Individual Jews can believe Paul’s Gospel today and join the Church the Body of Christ. They can trust Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for their sins, and join the Body of Christ just as any non-Jewish (Gentile) person can. However, this is not what “all Israel shall be saved” means in Romans 11:26. God will restore national Israel one day. He will lift her spiritual blindness and have a relationship with her again. He will establish the New Covenant, not with individual Jews, but the whole nation Israel.

Romans 11:11-12,15,25-27: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? … [15] For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? … [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.” The whole nation Israel will return to her special status before God. This will be accomplished via the New Covenant. The blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse Israel of her sins. Paul is quoting from Isaiah 59:20-21.

Individual Jews can be saved today, but not on the basis of the New Covenant. The New Covenant applies to Israel as a whole, as a nation, and national Israel does not exist today in God’s program. Notice the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-34: “[31] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: [32] Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: [33] But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. [34] And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

You can also see Hebrews 8:8-13, Hebrews 10:15-17, Ezekiel 26:25-28, Acts 3:19, and Romans 11:25-29 for more information.

Jews outside of our Dispensation of Grace, those outside of the Body of Christ, those in Israel’s program rather than our program, if they do not have the spiritual circumcision that their outward physical circumcision is to represent, they cannot be the Israel of God. God does not consider these unbelieving Jews “Israel.” He only sees the believing Jews as Israel, for Israel is to be His vessel to reach the Gentiles. Unbelieving Jews cannot be His vessel. So, this how “all Israel shall be saved” means all believing Jews and yet does not include the unbelieving Jews.

Also see:
» Who is “the Israel of God” of Galatians 6:16?
» Are we under the New Covenant today? (COMING SOON!)
» Have we been “grafted into Israel?”

Are angels women?

ARE ANGELS WOMEN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friend, we have all seen them in ecclesiastical art. Young women with long hair and feathered wings—supposedly angelic beings. Would this be an accurate description of angels? Is this how the Bible depicts angels, or is this merely superstition and mythology?

In the Bible, God’s angels are always referred to with the pronouns “he” and “him”never “she” or “her.” Angels take on the form of men rather than women. Notice this sampling of verses:

  • Genesis 31:11-12: “[11] And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. [12] And HIS said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.”
  • Numbers 22:23: “And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and HIS sword drawn in HIS hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.”
  • Judges 6:22: “And when Gideon perceived that HE was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.”
  • 1 Chronicles 21:27: “And the LORD commanded the angel; and HE put up HIS sword again into the sheath thereof.”
  • Zechariah 5:5-8,11: “[5] Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. [6] And I said, What is it? And HE said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. HE said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. [7] And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. [8] And HE said, This is wickedness. And HE cast it into the midst of the ephah; and HE cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof….[11] And HE said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.”
  • Matthew 28:2-4: “[2] And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. [3] HIS countenance was like lightning, and HIS raiment white as snow: [4] And for fear of HIM the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.”
  • Luke 1:11-12: “[11] And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. [12] And when Zacharias saw HIM, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.”
  • Acts 10:3-4: “[3] He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. [4] And when he looked on HIM, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And HE said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”
  • Revelation 22:8-10: “[8] And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. [9] Then saith HE unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. [10] And HE saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.”

DOES THIS REALLY MATTER?

Why does it really matter that we refer to angels as men instead of women? Should we dogmatic, or are we making something out of nothing? We will let the Bible speak for itself.

Go back to Zechariah chapter 5 and read the full context of the verses we quoted earlier: “[5] Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. [6] And I said, What is it? And HE said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. HE said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. [7] And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. [8] And HE said, This is wickedness. And HE cast it into the midst of the ephah; and HE cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof. [9] Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. [10] Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? [11] And HE said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.”

There are two types of spirit creatures in this passage. Firstly, we see an angel, appearing as a man, giving instruction to the Prophet Zechariah. Secondly, we see two spirit creatures that are women, they have wings like the wings of a stork, and they are associated with “wickedness” (verses 7-9). They are associated with “Shinar,” the site of the Tower of Babel, man’s first rebellion against God; Zechariah is mentioning them as they relate to man’s final rebellion against God in prophecy to be fulfilled beyond our day. These women creatures with wings are not God’s servants but rather fallen angelic beings. When you see pictures of women with flowing blond hair and wings, you know they are not God’s angels but evil beings serving Satan!

Also see:
» Do angels really watch us?
» What is the “angels’ food” of Psalm 78?
» Do we have guardian angels?