What does it mean to “mind earthly things?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Philippians 3:19 says, “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.).” What does it mean that these people, “mind earthly things?” Who are these individuals, by the way?

Reading at the beginning of the chapter: “[1] Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. [2] Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” There are some people—Jewish religious leaders (as denoted by “concision”)—of which the saints at Philippi need to be aware. These religious leaders are promoting something harmful, some false teaching. The Philippians saints need to be on guard (and so should we)!

“[3] For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. [4] Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: [5] Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; [6] Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. [7] But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. [8] Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, [9] And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:….”

Notice how Paul gave us his religious credentials. If someone could have boasted in religious works, it would have no doubt been he! As Saul of Tarsus, he had been a very powerful religious leader in Israel and the epitome of Mosaic-Law living. He had been infatuated with his own “goodness”—yea, self-righteousness. There came a point, Acts chapter 9 to be exact, when he learned that his righteousness was absolutely worthless! The Law condemned him as a no-good sinner (Romans 8:3), unsaved and worthy of damnation, doomed to endure God’s wrath forever! Saul of Tarsus had come to realize that God’s righteousness mattered above all else. Right there, on the road to Damascus, Saul saw, appreciated, and relied on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as the only way to be fit for Heaven. Paul quit working in religion and started relying on Christ’s performance!

Paul continues in Philippians chapter 3 to talk about his personal, daily walk in Christian living and maturity: “[10] That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; [11] If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. [12] Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. [13] Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, [14] I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [15] Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. [16] Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”

Paul is advancing, maturing, coming to better understand, God’s righteousness that he already has in Christ. Even at such a late date—some 30 to 35 years after meeting Jesus Christ and being saved from the penalty of sin—he still has not fully grasped why God saved him anyway. What he does know is that it is Christ’s righteousness—not his own (in religion)—that gave him a right standing before God. He therefore knows that he is to walk by faith in what Christ did, not what he can do in religion. Verses 8-9 again: “[8] Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, [9] And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:….”

Now, we get to the verse in question: “[17] Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. [18] (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: [19] Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) [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 whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

Did you see how verse 17 says that Paul is our pattern, our “ensample?” We are to follow him as he follows Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul learned not to depend on his performance in religion; his relationship with God and eternal life depended on what Jesus Christ did at Calvary. Keeping rules and regulations could not get him saved; therefore, they could not keep him saved. It would always have to be the merits and power in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Jesus Christ had pleased God in offering Himself for our sins, and God is pleased with us when we rely on Christ’s work for us.

Verses 18-19 are a parenthetical statement. They are a contrast to verse 17. Notice: “[18] (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: [19] Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.).”

The poor Apostle Paul! He is so sad—yea, he is crying! While some Christians are following his model in grace motivation rather than works-religion, some members of the Church the Body of Christ are still laboring under the Law system (just like the Galatians, which see that epistle). They are performing—keeping rules and regulations—and thus ignoring Jesus Christ’s performance at Calvary. The cross of Christ says that we are dead to the Law (Romans 7:4). To be “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18) means to be opposed to God’s grace demonstrated to us at Calvary. Rather than wanting God to deal with us according to grace, we want Him to bless us according to our works (Law). Paul had to learn as a lost man that his religious performance meant nothing then (first half of Philippians chapter 3) and it means nothing as he writes (second half of the chapter).

In the context of Philippians chapter 3, to “mind earthly things” means to “think,” or be focused on, God’s earthly program (the Mosaic Law, namely). Paul left behind works/Law and came to understand grace concerning justification and sanctification. Some Christians had still not come to that understanding, and it grieved him. The Judaistic (Jewish religion) false teachers of verse 2 had misled them! They were so fixated on human works, our efforts, human religious performance to get blessings and favor from God. While they would not die and go to Hell, they would experience the “destruction”—or damage—done to their Christian life and maturity. Their internal edification would be ruined; sound doctrine would be nowhere in their minds or hearts. The Law is made for a lost man, to lead him to faith in Christ, not for a Christian (1 Timothy 1:3-11)! The Mosaic system and all of its legalistic demands do not belong in the Dispensation of Grace (Colossians 2:8-23)!

Rather than thinking earthly, we should be focused on heavenly things. We are not God’s earthly people (that is the nation Israel); we are His heavenly people (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 2:6-7; et cetera). We should thus be thinking about God’s heavenly program, Pauline doctrine, “for our conversation is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Our behavior should reflect the place to which we belong. We belong to Heaven, and grace—not Law—is the operating system for the heavenly places. Romans 6:14-15 reminds us: “[14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

Titus 2:11-15 shows us grace thinking and grace living: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Some may argue that we need the Law to be victorious over sin. The Bible says we do not need the Law because God’s grace teaches us to be who we are (sons of God in Christ) rather than sinners lost and destined for Hell! Cognizance of our identity will change our behavior, yes?

Colossians 3:1-3 tells us: “[1] If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” We should be concentrating on Christ’s heavenly ministry—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon—rather than His earthly ministry. Our focus is on the heavenly things, not the earthly things.

Philippians chapter 3 again: “[17] Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. [18] (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: [19] Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.).” We are to follow the Apostle Paul according to verse 17. If we do not, we are following the Law, the Bible’s earthly program (our own “belly”/desires, rather than what God wants us to follow). Our Christian lives will be greatly impaired!

Also see:
» What about the Jewish Roots Movement?
» Must I maintain fellowship with God?
» How do we not live after the flesh if we live in bodies of flesh?

Who was Theophilus?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Firstly, the name “Theophilus” is Greek; it means “friend/lover of God.” Only appearing twice in the Bible text (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1), Theophilus was the recipient of these two Bible Books. The Gospel Record of Luke and the Book of Acts have been called “Volume 1” and “Volume 2,” respectively. Just a cursory examination of their introductions demonstrates Acts to be the “sequel” to Luke. Theophilus’ name binds them.

Luke 1:1-4: “[1] Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, [2] Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; [3] It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, [4] That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”

Acts 1:1-3: “[1] The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, [2] Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: [3] To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:….” The “former treatise”—or previous detailed, written account—sent to Theophilus is what we know of as the Book of Luke. Whomever the Holy Spirit used to write Luke, He also chose him to write Acts later. This writer is generally assumed to be Luke.


The language of Acts is that its writer was a close companion of the Apostle Paul during his second, third, and final apostolic journeys. Notice the first-person pronouns “we,” “us,” and “our:”

  • Acts 16:10: “And after he had seen the vision, immediately WE endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called US for to preach the gospel unto them.” (This is written from the perspective of someone traveling with Paul’s group, rather than someone repeating second-hand information. The same is true of the succeeding verses as well. Whomever it was, the man stayed with Paul’s party for some time, then departed, and later rejoined.)
  • Acts 16:12: “And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and WE were in that city abiding certain days.”
  • Acts 16:14-17: “[14] And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard US: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. [15] And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought US, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained US. [16] And it came to pass, as WE went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met US, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: [17] The same followed Paul and US, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.”

———— (The writer leaves Paul’s company here and returns.) ————

  • Acts 20:5: “These going before tarried for US at Troas.”
  • Acts 20:13-14: “[13] And WE went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. [14] And when he met with US at Assos, WE took him in, and came to Mitylene.”
  • Acts 21:5: “And when WE had accomplished those days, WE departed and went OUR way; and they all brought US on OUR way, with wives and children, till WE were out of the city: and WE kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.”
  • Acts 21:11: “And when he was come unto US, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”
  • Acts 21:16-18: “[16] There went with US also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom WE should lodge. [17] And when WE were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received US [18] And the day following Paul went in with US unto James; and all the elders were present.”

———— (The writer leaves Paul’s group here and returns.) ————

  • Acts 27:1-2: “[1] And when it was determined that WE should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band. [2] And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, WE launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with US.”
  • Acts 27:6-7: “[6] And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put US [7] And when WE had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering US, WE sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;….”
  • Acts 27:27: “But when the fourteenth night was come, as WE were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;….”
  • Acts 27:20: “And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on US, all hope that WE should be saved was then taken away.”
  • Acts 28:2: “And the barbarous people shewed US no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received US every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.”
  • Acts 28:7: “In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received US, and lodged US three days courteously.”
  • Acts 28:10: “Who also honoured US with many honours; and when WE departed, they laded US with such things as were necessary.”
  • Acts 28:15: “And from thence, when the brethren heard of US, they came to meet US as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.”


As noted, the writer of the Book of Acts traveled extensively with the Apostle Paul. Romans 11:13 says that Paul conducted a “Gentile” ministry. Technically speaking, in this context, “Gentile” applies to both non-Jews and lost/unsaved Jews. With the fall of Israel in Acts chapter 7, and the raising up of Paul in chapter 9, God thereafter considered all unsaved Jews just as worthy of hellfire as all the unsaved non-Jews. We conclude that the writer of Acts, associated with Paul, would thus have a ministry geared toward Gentiles as well. Theophilus was most likely a Gentile/non-Jew; we do not know the date of his conversion (as in pinpointing a chapter of Acts), or exactly who in Paul’s company led him to Christ. He never actually appears in either historical narrative.

Luke and Acts were both written for a Gentile/non-Jew to learn about Christ’s earthly ministry to Israel, as well as the 30 years that followed (Acts chapters 1-28—Israel’s renewed opportunity of repentance, her rebellion against the Holy Spirit, her national fall and diminishing, salvation going to the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry, and so on). In fact, the noticeable shift in the language of Colossians 4:10-14 indicates, to me anyway, that Luke himself was a Gentile. This would explain his close affinity to Paul’s ministry. Furthermore, Luke was evidently one of Paul’s converts. As with Theophilus, though, we do not know exactly when this occurred. The Book of Acts was written near the end of Paul’s ministry, after his two years under Roman house arrest (Acts 28:30-31). Luke was written sometime prior to the penning of Acts.

By the way, although omitted in Acts 1:1, there is that interesting title given to Theophilus in Luke 1:3—“most excellent.” Curiously, this was the designation of Judaean Governor Felix in Acts 23:26; a similar expression (same in Greek) is “most noble” (Acts 24:3). It was also applied to “most noble” Festus, another Judaean governor, in Acts 26:25. This has led some to suppose that Theophilus was a high-ranking politician, perhaps in Rome (where Paul was under house arrest at the time, remember). While possible, nothing is definite here. We just point this out in passing, before we close.


We know very little about Theophilus because he is only mentioned in two verses in the whole Bible. But, using the Scriptures associated with him, we can make some observations:

  1. Theophilus’ name means “friend/lover of God.” The Books of Luke and Acts were written to him. Theophilus was not a general name for just any friend/lover of God, as some claim, but an actual person.
  2. Whoever wrote Acts was a close companion of Paul during his apostolic journeys (which, of course, involved Gentiles). Whoever wrote Acts also penned Luke. Paul mentioned Luke in Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, and Philemon 24, as a close friend of his. Luke is our “best guess” as to the authorship of Luke and Acts.
  3. Considering that his name is Greek, and that he was connected to Luke (who was a close friend of Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles;” Romans 11:13), Theophilus was likely a Gentile.
  4. Perhaps he was a dignified statesman or other prominent official.

Also see:
» Who wrote the Gospel of John?
» Was Luke a Jew or a Gentile?
» Did Paul engage in “missionary” journeys?

Is Ephesians 3:20-21 a “name it and claim it” prayer promise?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Let us face it, dear friends. A lot of Christians are superstitious in their practice and shallow in their understanding. They are not thinking clearly because Satan’s evil world system (especially in religion) has dulled their senses. Some of the most ridiculous “Christian” beliefs and behaviors can be found in the realm of prayer. Unfortunately, people will carelessly grab prayer promises from the Scriptural record, with no regard for contexts (the most popular passages being Matthew 6:9-13, 1 John 5:15, James 5:14, 2 Chronicles 7:14, and Matthew 18:18-20). They assume they are safe in praying so long as any Bible verse even partly resembles their agenda and endorses their petition. What damage they do to God’s precious words!

Ephesians 3:20-21 is one such prayer passage so terribly abused: “[20] Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, [21] Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” While this is certainly part of a Pauline prayer, something directed to us as Gentiles (Romans 11:13), what should we make of it? Is it a promise that God will bless us beyond our wildest dreams?

Some have taken verse 20 to teach that we can ask for material blessings and Father God will give us even more than we could have even imagined. It is said that He can give us more physical healing than we have ever dreamed of receiving. It is claimed that God will give us more physical riches than we could have ever thought of asking Him for. Is this how we should view Ephesians 3:20? Let us consider what the Holy Spirit laid out in chapters 2 and 3, that which led up to Ephesians 3:20. All will then be clarified with absolutely amazing lucidity!

We begin at chapter 2: “[1] And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; [2] Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: [3] Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

This was our individual condition prior to coming to faith in Jesus Christ. We were dead in our trespasses and sins; that is, we were following Satan’s evil world system, spiritually dead in Adam and behaving like the sinners that we were. Thus, we deserved nothing but God’s wrath. However, there is a glorious contrast—praise God!

“[4] But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, [5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; ) [6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

In stark contrast to our wretched state (verses 1-3), God in His great mercy and because of His “great love wherewith He loved us,” provided us a way to obtain forgiveness of sins and a right standing before Him (verse 4). He saved us by His grace through our faith in His Son’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (verse 5). Why did God crucify us with Christ, bury us with Christ, and resurrect us with Christ? To qualify us to share in Christ’s authority in the heavenly places (verses 6-7)! While God did not save us on the basis of our works, He saved us because He had some good works to do in and through us (verses 8-10). This is in stark contrast to our former dispensational status as Gentiles, when we were without God’s revelation and consigned to Satan’s kingdom.

“[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:….”

In “time past,” prior to our Dispensation of Grace that began with Apostle Paul’s conversion in Acts chapter 9, God dealt with mankind on the basis of physical circumcision (Jew) and physical uncircumcision (Gentile). At that time, God was forming the nation Israel so He could save her from her sins and salvation and blessing would then flow through her to the Gentiles. That was God’s plan in the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3. However, when Israel refused to be that channel of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles—she rejected her Messiah, Jesus, at Calvary, and refused to accept Him in early Acts—God enacted a plan that He had kept hidden in Himself. He would temporarily go to the Gentiles without Israel’s kingdom. Through Israel’s fall salvation would go to the Gentiles. This is the purpose of Paul’s ministry.

The Holy Spirit caused Paul to write in Romans 11:11-14: “[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? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

In Acts chapter 7, God actually set national Israel aside for a time, and began to consider the unbelieving Jews as Gentiles (who were all cooperating with Satan at this point). By chapter 9, Saul of Tarsus (leading that rebellion against Christ) met the ascended Jesus Christ and trusted Him as his personal Saviour. The ascended Lord commissioned (the now Apostle) Paul to go to all the world with a new message. Instead of forming Israel, God would create another agency in His overall plan for mankind. That is the Church the Body of Christ, made up of all believing Jews and Gentiles beginning with Paul and continuing onward to our present-day.

Going back to Ephesians chapter 2 to pick up additional insight: “[13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. [14] For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. [18] For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

As Gentiles, we were once on the wrong side of “the middle wall of partition.” God was dealing with Israel on the basis of His covenants with her, promises not given to us Gentiles (go back to Ephesians 2:11-12). If Israel refused Jesus Christ in Matthew through John, as well as early Acts, how would we as Gentiles participate in God’s program? Everything was dependent upon Israel accepting Jesus and Him ushering in His kingdom on Earth where we Gentiles would benefit. Israel was overwhelmingly unbelieving but God was not caught by surprise. He had already figured out a solution long ago.

“But now…,” Ephesians 2:13 starts off. Beginning with Paul and the Body of Christ in Acts chapter 9, God broke down the distinction between Jew and Gentile (verse 14—as compared to verses 11-12). Rather than having a nation Israel and Gentiles, there was now “the Little Flock” (Israel’s believing remnant that would inherit God’s earthly kingdom—Luke 12:31-33) and the rest of the world known as Gentiles. Unsaved, lost Israel was really considered Gentile. There was believing Israel, and then there was the Gentile world (unbelieving Jew and unbelieving Gentile). From Acts chapter 9 onward, Paul was sent to all those unbelievers with a new Gospel, the Gospel of Grace, that they believe on Christ’s finished crosswork and be saved into the Body of Christ. What resulted was the nation Israel (now known as the “Little Flock”) and the Church the Body of Christ (made up of all believing Jews and Gentiles from the Apostle Paul’s salvation onward—see 1 Timothy 1:15-16). Notice how Paul highlights these two groups of believers as he closes Ephesians chapter 2.

“[19] Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; [20] And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; [21] In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: [22] In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

With the revelation of the mystery (secret) committed to Paul by the ascended Jesus Christ, we now see that the Church the Body of Christ is the second half of God’s overall plan for creation. God had already begun to form an earthly people, Israel, and had already begun to isolate believers to form “the Little Flock.” However, there was a heavenly people He had planned from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; Titus 1:1-3). He told no one of that heavenly agency until the Apostle Paul. We will see that as we move into chapter 3 of Ephesians. For now, just understand that, in our Dispensation of Grace, God the Holy Spirit is living in a group of people called the Church the Body of Christ (verses 21-22 above). They will be His heavenly people in the ages to come, just as Israel will be His earthly people in the ages to come.

It would do us well to remember what Ephesians 1:8-10 said: “[8] Wherein he [God the Father] hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:….” Notice the issue of God’s purpose is to unite heaven and earth under the headship of Jesus Christ. It was the heavenly aspect that He kept secret until He revealed it directly to the Apostle Paul. We now learn about it through Paul.

As Ephesians chapter 3 opens, dear friends, the Holy Spirit continues talking about the Body of Christ being part of the secret Jesus Christ revealed to the Apostle Paul. For sake of brevity, we will read these verses without much comment. Remember our previous statements and it should be clear. Again, the issue is the Church the Body of Christ, and how it is the present-day group of believing Jews and Gentiles who will impact the heavenly places for God’s glory in the ages to come.

“[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: [7] Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. [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, [11] According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: [12] In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” (Be sure to see the Body of Christ is part of God’s “eternal purpose”—verse 11. It is something He had planned all along but never told anyone about until Paul. When we read Paul’s writings, we learn God’s secret will!)

“[13] Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.” God is doing something amazing with Paul’s ministry, even though the Apostle is suffering in prison (technically, house arrest—Acts 28:30-31) for preaching the Gospel of Grace. Now, we get to the Apostle’s prayer. Read it through in one giant chunk to get its full impact. It gets very exciting!

“[14] For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, [15] Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, [16] That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; [17] That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; [19] And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. [20] Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, [21] Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Did you see how verse 15 mentioned that God has a family in heaven and earth? Recall our earlier comments. That is a reference to the Church the Body of Christ (heaven) and the nation Israel (earth). Father God is going to use both agencies to glorify His Son in the future. We also read about this in Colossians 1:16-20, which time and space do not permit us to discuss here. What Paul is asking for in this prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21 is our empowerment, that the Holy Spirit would strengthen us so that we understand what God is doing today and cooperate by faith. God’s eternal purpose is so unbelievably wise, reaching up to the heavenly places, encompassing Jews and Gentiles (which were once divided, hating each other, and part of Satan’s kingdom).

Those final two verses of Ephesians chapter 3 (our question) are a doxology, Paul closing the prayer by praising God for His great wisdom and power. Read these verses again in light of all that we have just discussed: “[20] Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, [21] Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

The power that works in us (saved us from our sins and Satan’s captivity—Ephesians 2:1-3), the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead and set him at God’s own right hand in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:19-23), that is the power God uses to “do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Would we have ever asked God to form the Church the Body of Christ of believing Jews and Gentiles? Never! Our little human minds are too weak and limited. Would we have ever thought God would use us pagan Gentiles to glorify Jesus Christ in the heavenly places throughout the endless ages to come? Never! Again, our puny human minds would have never devised such a plan. It is God’s wisdom, “the hidden wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). That is why “wise” Satan was so disturbingly shocked when he learned of the mystery revealed to Paul. It meant that his evil angelic cohorts occupying the heavenly places are going to be replaced by us! Horrors!!!!!

No wonder, dear friends, that Satan does everything he possibly can to hide the mystery from believers even today. The Devil uses religious tradition to keep people away from Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, and have them concentrate on everything else in the Bible! God’s power is being manifested today in mystery truth, Pauline truth. Christian lives are so weak and ineffective today because those Christians are not thinking properly. They are grabbing Israel’s verses, prophetic truth, and trying to make us follow something God is not doing today. May we beware of Satan’s underhanded tactics, and not be deceived by them!

As for making Ephesians 3:20-21 some prosperity gospel foundation, we distort the meaning of the passage entirely. What a shallow interpretation of such deep verses! There is not one word in the passage about material riches and superb physical health. Yea, remember, Paul is writing under Roman house arrest (Ephesians 3:1).

Awed by the wisdom that has been revealed in this study, dear brethren, we have no choice but to echo those wonderful words. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Also see:
» Has God’s Word failed?
» Why are the heavens not clean in God’s sight?
» Why does the Book of Ephesians end with such a “dark” passage?

“Ensample” and “example”—same or different?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, do you realize that the English language has declined over the centuries? If you doubt this, take a passage from a 1611 King James Bible and read it side-by-side with the same verses in an English “bible” translation produced in the late 20th century or 21st century. The more contemporary the version, the greater the departure from the pure English—yea, English at its zenith—available to our Authorized Version translators over 400 years ago. Hence, the modern reader is intimidated by “archaic, strange, difficult” verbiage. The modern-version translator and publisher will exploit that ignorance, introducing the skillfully-worded sales pitch, “You need to purchase our new translation. Based on the most recent linguistic, archaeological, and biblical scholarship, it makes the Scriptures plainer than ever before!” (Really?!)

Considering the fact that, over the last 130-plus years, there has been a tremendous shift toward the utilization of Bible manuscripts that the Body of Christ rejected for over 15 centuries as depraved and heretical, you are likely not to have a pure modern “bible.” Such corrupt texts and speculative translation theories, propagated mostly by unsaved people more interested in being the authority than letting the Bible be the authority, obscure the spiritual truths seen only by those whom the Holy Spirit teaches. Yea, the sloppiness (imprecision) of modern English contaminates God’s Word even more! (Think of the “ contemporary bibles” that read like newspapers or magazines. Paraphrased, they use the “street language” or slang of our day. Some of these works marketed as “bibles” are utterly laughable. Of course, no one studies them in great detail anyway, so they are largely not scrutinized and exposed as the rubbish they are.)

The preceding comments were provided to introduce the fact that “ensample” is a rare word today. We are more familiar with “example” instead. What is an “ensample?” Is the term really synonymous with “example?” If we dissect these terms, we can see—at least in “ensample”—the stem “sample.” The two prefixes are “en–” (“in”) and “ex–” (“out”). Just with these few observations, we see a sample in and a sample out. A distinction is thus obvious: there are differences in relationships between nouns. There is indeed a subtle difference, one obscured by modern English because “example” has entirely supplanted “ensample.” Again, think of today’s English, and compare it to the precision of the Authorized Version we now examine.

The word “ensample” appears six times in the King James text:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:11: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
  • Philippians 3:17: “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:7: “So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:9: “Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.”
  • 1 Peter 5:3: “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”
  • 2 Peter 2:6: And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;….”

There is a “sample” of behavior or people in the above six verses. This “sample” typifies the group to which it belongs. That is, the “ensample” is a pattern for those within its category.

In Philippians 3:17, we see numerous Christians following the “ensample” of Paul and Timothy (see 1:1). The doctrine and behavior of Paul and Timothy serve as the model for other members of the Church the Body of Christ. In the case of 1 Thessalonians 1:7, the believers at Thessalonica serve as a pattern to all other believers—namely, the saints in Macedonia (northern Greece) and Achaia (southern Greece). Concerning 2 Thessalonians 3:9, Paul and Silas and Timothy (1:1) serve as a model of doctrine and conduct to the Thessalonians (other believers in Christ). As for 1 Peter 5:3, these are leaders within the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant (not the Body of Christ). Church elders in the Little Flock are to serve as illustrations, or samples, of Kingdom living to those under their care. They are all believers, but part of God’s earthly family (rather than God’s heavenly family—us the Body of Christ).

Regarding 1 Corinthians 10:11, Israel of old, with all her mistakes, is a lesson to anyone in God’s program. They are also for our warning as members of the Church the Body of Christ. We should not repeat her errors of unbelief and ingratitude—see all of chapter 10 for the context. Time and space limit us here.

In 2 Peter 2:6, the issue is not any believers in Christ. The focus is on the unsaved—those part of Satan’s policy of evil. They, as individuals outside of God’s influence, serve as a model to all the others outside of God’s kingdom. Unto those that after should live ungodly,” the complete fiery devastation of wicked Sodom and Gomorrha serve as a pattern. The record of that destruction is directed toward the people who engage in similar behavior. The God of the Bible will not let sinners go unpunished. Sin will catch up with all lost people at some point—and they will face the angry face of God one day!

As for the word “example,” it is found nine times in the King James text:

  • Matthew 1:19: “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.” (“Example” here is manifesting a sample to an outside group. Mary was not a model in a group, but to a group—the general public.)
  • John 13:15: “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is in a class all His own. He is not manifested within a group but displayed to a group outside Him.)
  • 1 Corinthians 10:6: “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” (As mentioned earlier at 1 Corinthians 10:11, Israel of old, with all her mistakes, is a lesson to us outside of her. We need to not repeat her errors—again, consult the whole chapter for the context.)
  • 1 Timothy 4:12: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (This is Timothy, a model Christian, demonstrating to the [outside] lost world how believers think and behave. When he is seen conducting his life, the principles of grace should be in full view. The same should be true of us, dear brethren!)
  • Hebrews 4:11: “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (In the same vein as 1 Corinthians chapter 10, quoted twice above, the writer of the Book of Hebrews urges the Israelites not to repeat their ancestors’ history of doubt and rebellion against JEHOVAH God. Israel’s former behavior is a sample of what does not belong in God’s nation.)
  • Hebrews 8:5: “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” (The earthly/Mosaic tabernacle and all of its components and ceremonies were modeled after the heavenly/Messianic tabernacle and its related items.)
  • James 5:10: “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” (The Old Testament prophets who suffered persecution but patiently relied on the Lord, serve as patterns for Israel beyond our day to follow.)
  • 1 Peter 2:21: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:….” (This would be along the lines of what we discussed earlier in John 13:15. Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is in a class by Himself and yet He is a role model for the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, as pertaining to suffering for God’s sake.)
  • Jude 7: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (The destruction of wicked Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis chapter 19, is a “sample” of how God will judge unbelievers. Jude is written in light of the end-times, the Tribulation and Second Coming of Christ, the culmination of God’s undiluted wrath against the world’s sins.)

Also see:
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» Is “God forbid” a “poor translation” in the King James Bible?
» Is the King James word “borrow” a mistranslation in Exodus 3:22?

Is “God forbid” a “poor translation” in the King James Bible?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, if you read critical Bible commentaries, you have surely come across people disparaging the English (namely, the King James) Scriptures for being “too weak” compared to the original Hebrew and Greek. It is stated ad nauseum, “The Hebrew reads stronger there…” and “The Greek is more powerful here….” However, when it comes to the expression, “God forbid,” it is said that our 1611 Authorized Version is a “poor translation.” Is that so? Furthermore, could there be a double standard here?


The argument against the inclusion of “God forbid” is summarized as:

  1. The Greek Bible does not have “God” (theos) there.
  2. The underlying Greek is “μὴ γένοιτο” (me genoito).
  3. A literal translation is “never” (me) and “happen” (genoito).
  4. To be faithful to the original Greek, “God” should not be supplied in the English translation. A better rendering is, “Banish the thought,” “By no means,” “May it never happen,” “Certainly not,” “Perish the thought,” “May it not be.” (Let is be said without delay. This is infantile Bible study!)

Years ago, when I dealt with a New King James Version user and preacher, he asked the usual “What about the ‘God forbid’ ‘mistake’ in the King James Bible?” He said, “There is not one Greek manuscript that reads ‘God forbid.’ There is no perfect inspired translation.” (Like so many, he was simply and mindlessly repeating what he had heard others say about it. He had not researched the issue for himself; otherwise, he would have laid out the reasoning behind the conclusion and seen it to be childish.) As I dealt with him about a variety of textual matters for an extended period, I discovered that the man—while claiming to be a “Bible-believer”—really did not care to know the truth anyway. He would always “disagree” with my dozens of points, but never would he answer them. Alas, he was comfortable in his position: facts would never convince him (and those like him).

Dear friends, while I am no Greek scholar, I have learned from those more acquainted with the language than I that the strongest “no” in Greek is “μὴ γένοιτο” (me genoito). It is a very forceful negation—a strong objection or disapproval rather than a gentle or casual “no.” As this is a written medium rather than an audio clip, it is difficult for me to demonstrate to you that the casual “no” is spoken softly. Imagine “no” said at a normal speech level: “No, I am not going.” Now, think of a “no” uttered loudly and authoritatively: “NOOOOOO, you cannot go!” Despite our limitations and crude examples here, I trust that you can sound out these phrases. There is much power in “μὴ γένοιτο;” rendering it as “no” is deficient in English. Hence, some versions and commentators will say—“Banish the thought,” “By no means,” “May it never happen,” “Certainly not,” “May it not be.” However, these too are weak.


In English, the strongest expression of negation is, “God forbid.” It corresponds perfectly to “μὴ γένοιτο” (the strongest Greek negation, remember—the literal meaning being “never happen”). “God” is supplied in English without an underlying Greek theos. Therefore, our King James Bible features some dynamic equivalence here instead of its usual literal equivalence. Nevertheless, a literal rendering would not have given the English Bible text as much force as the Greek. The thought of “μὴ γένοιτο” is sufficiently conveyed with “God forbid.” But, what exactly makes “God forbid” the theologically and textually superior choice—as opposed to those negative English expressions listed at the close of the last section?

Who is the most powerful in the universe? Of course, Almighty God is the most powerful. He is omnipotent. The word “forbid,” obviously, simply means, “oppose, contradict, prohibit, prevent, make something impossible.” When we pair the words “God” and “forbid,” we form the strongest negation possible in the English language. “God protest or oppose it!” (The objection refers to the statement that went immediately before or immediately after.) Synonymous phrases are, “May God never let it happen!” “God object to this!” “God keep it from being true!” Again, we can sense a mighty resistance, an intense contradiction, and a passionate refusal to accept the related statement as factual, applicable, and/or possible. Almighty God is against it!

In our King James Bible, the phrase, “God forbid” as a negative phrase appears 23 times. Eight occurrences are found in the Hebrew Old Testament; the remainders appear in the Greek New Testament. Notice:

  • Genesis 44:7: “And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:….” (These men told Joseph’s steward, “To what point have you told us these words? God protest that we should steal Joseph’s silver cup!”)
  • Genesis 44:17: “And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.” (Joseph told his brethren, “God protest that I should make all of you my servants. Only the thief will be my servant.”)
  • Joshua 22:29: God forbid that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.” (God protest that Israel rebel against Him!)
  • Joshua 24:16: “And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;….” (God protest that Israel leave the LORD and follow dead idols!)
  • 1 Samuel 12:23: “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:….” (God protest that Samuel stop praying for Israel!)
  • 1 Samuel 14:45: “And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.” (When King Saul proposed to kill his son Jonathan for disobeying him, the Jews intervened and said, “God protest that you harm Jonathan in any way!”)
  • 1 Samuel 20:2: “And he said unto him, God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will shew it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so.” (Jonathan told David, “God protest that you have given my father Saul reason to take your life!”)
  • Job 27:5: God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.” (Job told his three friends, “God protest that I should say you are right in condemning me!”)
  • Luke 20:16: “He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.” (These religious leaders replied to Christ’s parable, “God protest that the lord of the vineyard come and destroy the husbandmen!” Verse 19 says they realized they were the husbandmen!)
  • Romans 3:4: God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (God protest that man’s unbelief cancel His faithfulness!)
  • Romans 3:6: God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?” (God protest that we conclude He is unrighteous/unfair for taking vengeance! See also Romans 9:14.)
  • Romans 3:31: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (God protest that faith renders the Law useless. That is, the Law serves its purpose—we thereby learn that faith in Christ, not our works, is the way to justification and eternal life.)
  • Romans 6:2: God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (God protest the notion that we should continue in sin so that grace can be greater—a reference to verse 1 as well as chapter 5 verse 20.)
  • Romans 6:15: “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (God protest that we should use grace as a license to sin, an excuse to live like the lost people we were before we placed our faith in Christ!)
  • Romans 7:7: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (God protest that the Law is faulty, as verse 12 says it is “holy, just, and good.” The problem is not with the Law. We are sinners—we are the problem because we cannot keep the Law! The Law points out our need to rely on something other than our works if we are to have a right standing before God. See Galatians chapter 3.)
  • Romans 7:13: “Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (God protest that the Law was made death to Paul. The Law merely pointed out Paul’s sin problem.)
  • Romans 9:14: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” (God protest that He is unfair in setting Israel aside for a time. See also Romans 3:6.)
  • Romans 11:1: “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” (God protest that He has rejected the nation Israel forever and that she will never be restored to Him!)
  • Romans 11:11: “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.” (God protest the notion that Israel stumbled at the cross of Christ and fell. She stumbled and fell in Acts chapter 7, her stoning of Stephen.)
  • 1 Corinthians 6:15: “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.(God protest the idea that Paul connect us with Satan’s system of spiritual prostitution, false religion!)
  • Galatians 2:17: “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. (God protest the idea that Christ is “the minister [servant] of sin!”)
  • Galatians 3:21: “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” (God protest that Israel’s Law system—technically, her failure to keep it—nullifies His promises to her!)
  • Galatians 6:14: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (God protest our bragging in our religious works! If we must boast, friends, let us glory that by Jesus Christ crucified, the world is crucified to us and we are crucified to the world. We are cut off from the evil world system’s damnable end.)


It is quite clear, from the context, the necessity and accuracy of “God forbid.” The 1611 translators used it to stress a major contradiction to what went before or what followed. A simple “no” is too weak. As we mentioned earlier, the King James Bible is criticized for being “too weak” in conveying the original Hebrew and Greek. However, in the place where it noticeably surpasses modern English versions—“μὴ γένοιτο” (me genoito) being rightly rendered “God forbid,” the strongest “no” possible in English—it is criticized for being wrong. That is, where it is strong, its critics want it to be weaker. It is an unfair system that we should be aware of and not embrace.

See, dear friends, again, the issue in the Bible critic’s mind is not determining truth and error (as should be our goal as Bible students). The spirit of Satan’s evil world system is simply interested in discrediting the Bible… no matter what it says. The King James Bible critics can never be pleased. They refuse to submit to its authority because their sin nature refuses to obey God. Therefore, they challenge it with their various and often petty textual arguments (“God forbid” is unacceptable because “God” is not in the Greek, blah, blah, blah). All they want to do is prove they have a modern English version to sell to replace the King James Bible. This is the attitude that so many seminarians and Bible College graduates are trained to have. Scholars want to be their own authority. They are certainly not going to submit to some Book—especially a 400-year-old Book not of this world! They want to run things, to sit in God’s seat and declare what the Bible should and should not say. May we have the attitude of faith, not unbelief!

Well, what do you know, my friends? Our King James translators once again seem not to be the “bumbling fools” their critics make them out to be! They were skilled linguists in both the original Bible languages and English. Let us appreciate their efforts and not be so quick to dismiss them as slack and erroneous.


In Hebrew, the word rendered “God forbid” is “חָלִילָה” (“chalilyah”). It was also translated:

  • “be far from thee” (Genesis 18:25—the “thee” is God Himself, Abraham refusing to believe that God will slay the righteous with the wicked!)
  • “Be it far from me” (1 Samuel 2:30—the LORD Himself talking, saying that He has changed His mind about Eli’s sons serving Him because they are apostate and evil!)
  • “Far be it from thee…” (1 Samuel 20:9—Jonathan speaking to David, saying he has not come to betray David into the hands of his father King Saul)
  • “be it far from me” (1 Samuel 22:15—Abimelech before King Saul, denying helping David to overthrow Saul’s kingdom.)
  • “The LORD forbid” (1 Samuel 24:6 and 1 Samuel 26:11—David refusing to take the life of King Saul)
  • “Far be it, far be it” (doubly emphatic here in 2 Samuel 20:20—Joab admitting that he refuses to consume or destroy God’s inheritance, namely, an Israeli city.)
  • “Be it far from me” (2 Samuel 23:17—David refusing to drink water that men risked their lives to obtain for him)
  • “The LORD forbid” (1 Kings 21:3—Naboth declining King Ahab’s offer to purchase his vineyard that he inherited from his ancestors)
  • “My God forbid” (1 Chronicles 11:19—the parallel of 2 Samuel 23:17 quoted above. Here, we see that “My God forbid” and “Be it far from me” are interchangeable.)
  • “far be it” (Job 34:10—Elihu vehemently opposed to God doing wickedness)

As stated before, friends, so say we again. There is no corresponding original word for “God” (elohiym) or “LORD” (Yahovah), yet we see “God forbid” and “LORD forbid.” However, as in the Greek examples from our main study, if you carefully examine the Hebrew verses immediately above, you will see that a casual “no” is insufficient. The situations are serious, the suggestions are major, and so they require a forceful rebuttal.

NOOOOO, I will not kill King Saul the LORD’s anointed!”
NOOOOO, I will not sell my inheritance to you, King Ahab!”
NOOOOO, David, I have not come to betray you to my father King Saul!”
NOOOOO, I will not let your wicked sons serve Me in My house, Eli!”
(And so on.)

Also see:
» Why does the King James Bible say “pisseth against the wall?”
» Is “excellent” a King James mistranslation in Philippians 1:10?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?

Is there time in Heaven? What about in eternity?


by Shawn Brasseaux

There is a common idea—I even once held to it—that there is no time in Heaven. A related idea is that there is no time in eternity. I will show you what verses caused me to reject those positions. You can consider them and decide for yourself what you will believe about it.

It is interesting that the Apostle John, in the Book of the Revelation, provided what are evidently the only Bible verses on this subject.

Firstly, we deal with the question about time in Heaven. Revelation 8:1 comments: “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” During the judgments of the future Tribulation period, there will be “silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” Such horrific events are about to fall on planet Earth, and the angels watch in awe and silence! According to Psalm 83:1, even God is silent here! Evidently, there must be some reckoning of time in Heaven, or Revelation 8:1 is meaningless.

Now, to our second question. Will there be time in eternity? Yes, according to Revelation chapter 22, verse 2: “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” In the ages to come, on the New Earth, the tree of life will bear a new manner of fruit “every month.”

Time as we know it had a beginning, according to Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” However, now that it has begun, it will never end. There will never be a cessation of time, for time is necessary to have activity. Eternity is not the absence of time, but rather endless time.

Also see:
» How old will we be in heaven?
» Is faith in Christ alone enough to go to heaven? Do not the devils believe?
» Why are the heavens not clean in God’s sight?

Why did God judge Nadab and Abihu so strictly?


by Shawn Brasseaux

It is easy to believe that whatever God is doing today, He was doing the exact same thing long ago. Whatever is true right now, it is easy to assume that it was true in the past. This is not always the case. People struggle with strange Old Testament passages and concepts because they are trying to reconcile them with what God is doing today. They do not use the Bible “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), recognizing the various dispensational boundaries that are so critical to keeping the Scriptures straight. Since they do not use God’s Word, God’s way, they are forced to change/re-translate controversial verses, omit or ignore “bothersome” passages, and even throw out whole Bible Books! Nay, dear friends, we study all the Bible, for all of its 66 Books are inspired of God. If there is something mysterious in the Scriptures, we look for parallel verses to shed light on the subject. Nadab and Abihu’s dreadful fate is no different.

Notice the very bizarre account Moses recorded in Leviticus 10:1-3: “[1] And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. [2] And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. [3] Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” What in the world just occurred here? Fire came down and consumed two Jewish priests who “offered strange fire before the LORD?” Why?

This event was repeated twice more in Moses’ writings, so it was something God wanted Israel to remember. Firstly, Numbers 3:4: “And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest’s office in the sight of Aaron their father.” Also, Numbers 26:60-61: “[60] And unto Aaron was born Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. [61] And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before the LORD.”

When the Bible says “strange fire,” the idea is foreign fire (like fire that was a “stranger”). It was so unpleasant to God that He literally and instantaneously killed the priests who offered it. The key to this is found in Leviticus chapter 9, the verses just previous to what we read in chapter 10. Leviticus chapter 9: “[23] And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. [24] And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”

Once Moses set up the Tabernacle (Exodus chapter 40), here in Leviticus chapter 9, fire came out of heaven because JEHOVAH God accepted (and consumed) their burnt offering. Nadab and Abihu, in the following chapter, rebel against that act of God. Instead of the fire coming from God, them using the fire that God started, they had a fire that they had started. They replaced God’s fire with their own! Not only so, they were priests… poor examples of the congregation watching them. If God did not punish these willful religious leaders, the Jewish people would be encouraged to rebel against Him too. It would have caused a massive uprising against Him, and then He would have had to kill them all!

Read Leviticus 10:1-3 again: “[1] And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. [2] And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. [3] Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.”

They “…offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.” God did not tell Nadab and Abihu to offer that fire, so they were behaving presumptuously. It was a deliberate rebellion, men trying to substitute God’s work with their own efforts. JEHOVAH God was thus disrespected before all the Jewish people. He dealt with the guilty parties by implementing speedy death! Notice verse 3: “Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” Aaron the High Priest had just lost two of his sons, but he was silent. He knew God was justified in taking their lives. They were following Satan… and almost corrupted Israel!

Friends, we can learn a simple lesson here. While God does not consume rebellious people by causing fire to fall from heaven today (He did in the past and He will in the future), it should be clearly noted that He never takes lightly someone trying to replace His work with their own. There are millions upon millions of precious souls today, laboring under religious tradition, trying to replace Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork with their own religious efforts. Instead of coming to God by simple faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for their sins, they want to offer their own works to merit God’s favor (it will not work!). They are trying to substitute their “goodness” for the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary! My, oh my, something far, far, far, far, far worse than fire from heaven will come upon them one day. The eternal flames of hell will surround them in a fraction of a second. May they come now to Father God by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood and resurrection… before it is eternally too late!

Also see:
» Was God “unfair” in striking Uzzah dead?
» Why did God reject Cain’s sacrifice?
» Can you explain 2 Kings 2:23-25?

What was the significance of Joseph’s “coat of many colours?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Any and every Sunday School child has learned about Joseph and his “coat of many colours.” However, rarely is the coat itself studied in-depth. What exactly was it? And, what interesting lesson can it teach us? As we will see, unwinding this one mystery is actually the key to unlocking and understanding several nebulous Bible passages.

We read in God’s Word, the King James Bible, in Genesis chapter 37: “[1] And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. [2] These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. [3] Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. [4] And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.”

Notice the “coat of many colours” first appears in Scripture in verse 3. It shows up twice more in that passage: “[23] And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;…. [32] And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no. [33] And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.”


Not surprisingly, scholars have professed great difficulty with the original language here. One study Bible footnote says to this point: “Genesis 37:3 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain; also in verses 23 and 32.” Those who consider “a coat of many colours” a “doubtful” translation invite us to question it with them. Using human speculation, the world’s “wisdom,” they try to make sense of the Bible. Some people are genuinely seeking answers from the Scriptures.

Oftentimes, though, they are interested in discussing the Bible strictly from a “theological” viewpoint. They pay more attention to the original languages themselves rather than the actual teaching of those languages. Hence, they extract very little to nothing from the Bible. They are not looking for pure and sound Bible doctrine. Unfortunately, they have been trained in most Bible institutions to remove or add words to the Scriptures. They do not appreciate the doctrines that are distorted or obscured by their tampering. They have adopted the idea that Bible thoughts, rather than words, matter. They feel like they have been granted the liberty to take from—yea, “correct”—the Bible whenever they do not understand it.

Dear friends, if we are Bible believers, we are going to believe the Bible and not concern ourselves with the vain speculations of apostate modern-day translators, denominational theologians, or any other fallible humans lacking the Holy Spirit’s illumination. We have every reason to believe that the King James Bible is correct in these instances. Our 1611 translators were learned, Holy-Spirit-filled men. “A coat is many colours” is a faithful, reliable rendition of the original Hebrew Bible. We would do well to trust their judgment over any modern translator or translation. In this day of itching ears, mass apostasy, we cannot afford to question our final authority. The King James Bible that Bible-believing Christians have used for over 400 years will certainly not fail us at this late date. It is the commonplace theological system that will deceive and disappoint us because it has always been apostate!


Firstly, let us think about the phrase “coat of many colours.” What the Bible is speaking of is a rainbow cloak or mantle, an article of clothing richly embroidered or decorated with various colored patches or strips of cloth. This rainbow appearance made it a very beautiful garment. Its wearer stood out in a crowd. No doubt it was very expensive (such rare dyes being used to make it). By looking at other Bible passages, comparing verse with verse, we can understand the importance of this rainbow of colors and this “coat of many colours.”

In Ezekiel chapter 1, the Prophet Ezekiel saw a glimpse of God’s throne in the third heaven: “[1] Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. [2] In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, [3] The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

“[4] And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. [5] Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. [6] And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. [7] And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. [8] And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. [9] Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. [10] As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle….”

“[26] And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. [27] And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. [28] As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.”

When Ezekiel saw God’s throne, he noticed an “amber” color (verses 4 and 27). Verse 28 says this “amber” (or yellow) light was actually a “bow” (that is, a rainbow). He saw a yellow rainbow around God’s throne—that glow was the “appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.” Several hundred years later, the Apostle John saw glimpse of God’s throne. What color did he see? Well, let us just say that it was not amber!

Revelation chapter 4: “[1] After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. [2] And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. [3] And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. [4] And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” John sees an “emerald” (green) rainbow around God’s throne! God’s glory has a greenish appearance here!

Based on these two passages, there is only one sound conclusion. The color of the light around God’s throne changes through time. In Ezekiel’s day, it was amber (yellow). Some 600 years later, John saw it as emerald (green). Various colored rainbows encircle God’s throne depending on the time in history. While we often think of a bright white light, a more accurate description would be a flashing rainbow light. Someone once likened it to a “kaleidoscope of colors.” The language of Ezekiel is flames flickering, fires of various colors, maybe like strobe lights flashing, pulsating lights, and the like.

This explains why Psalm 104 says what it does: “[1] Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. [2] Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:….” God covers Himself “with light as with a garment.” Assorted colors of light surround His throne. Now we understand what 1 Timothy 6:14-16 means: “[14] That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: [15] Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; [16] 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.” The “light which no man can approach unto” is the “light” of Psalm 104—the light of Ezekiel chapter 1 and Revelation chapter 4.

Working backward, we read in Genesis 2:25: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Adam and Eve were originally physically naked. Yet, they were “not ashamed.” Then, in chapter 3, we read of them eating the forbidden fruit. There is man’s Fall into sin. Now, Adam and Eve are ashamed of their nakedness. Why?

Genesis chapter 3: “[7] And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. [8] And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” Originally, Adam and Eve were physically naked but they were not ashamed because the light of God’s righteousness covered their bodies. Once they sinned, they lost that clothing of light, and their nakedness led to them being ashamed. They attempted to cover themselves with fig leaves—replacing God’s righteousness with their own human efforts/religion (Genesis 3:7).

When someone is justified, made righteous before God through Jesus Christ’s shed blood, they receive the spiritual clothing that Adam and Eve once had. Now, as Christians, our fallen physical bodies do not reflect an outward light as Adam and Eve did. While God shed animal blood to cover Adam and Eve’s sin, He had to cover them physically too. Genesis 3:21 says: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” There was a physical covering (animal skins) and there was a spiritual covering (animal blood). That blood typified, or represented, the blood of Christ that would be shed on Calvary many centuries later.

Speaking of national Israel’s future redemption, Isaiah 61:10 says: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” When God’s righteousness is applied to one’s account, the event is likened unto putting on a “robe of righteousness.” God is clothing someone “with the garments of salvation.” All of those who are on God’s side have His righteousness. They reflect His glory. This reminds us of something else—another special set of clothing that mirrored God’s glory.

Lucifer, who became known as Satan after his fall, was a spirit being (cherub) in the third heaven. This beautiful, wise creature wore a garment of precious stones. Notice in Ezekiel chapter 28: “[11] Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, [12] Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. [13] Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. [14] Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. [15] Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”

We want to pay special attention to the various precious stones that decorated Lucifer’s body: “…every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold” (verse 13). Verse 14 says Lucifer was the “anointed cherub that covereth.” According to Ezekiel chapter 1 (what we read earlier), Ezekiel chapter 10, and Revelation chapter 4 (what we read earlier too), four cherubim (“living creatures”) surround God’s throne. Before Lucifer’s fall, there were five cherubim. Lucifer’s body formed some type of canopy over that throne. The multi-colored precious stones served as prisms or mirrors. Lucifer’s body reflected the glory (various colored lights) that radiated from God. Surely, all these colors formed a beautiful rainbow. Of course, Lucifer became prideful and lost that position, wanting to be worshipped instead of worshipping God. You can read Ezekiel 28:11-19, Isaiah 14:12-15, and 1 Timothy 3:6 for more information. Time and space do not permit us to quote and expound those verses here.


Joseph’s “coat of many colours” (Genesis 37:3) was a representation of God’s “light of many colours.” It was a depiction of God’s glory found in the third heaven. It is God’s righteousness emanating from Him! Furthermore, Joseph and Jesus Christ have many similarities—some 150 various analogous traits! As a type of Christ, Joseph reflected God’s glory. Christ, the antitype, also reflects God’s glory. After all, Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, fully God and fully Man. He shines forth God’s glory as well!

Colossians 1:15 says Jesus Christ is “the image of the invisible God.” Also, Colossians 2:9: “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

Read Hebrews 1:1-3, paying special attention to what verse 3 says about Jesus Christ: “[1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, [2] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; [3] Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:….”


As an interesting side-note, we see the Hebrew expression twice more in the Bible—2 Samuel 13:18-19. “And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king’s daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her. And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.” Here, King David’s daughter Tamar, and her sisters, wore a “garment of divers colours” (same as “coat of many colours”) to signify their virginity or pureness. Once she was sexually assaulted (raped) by her brother, however, she tore that garment. Poor Tamar! Her glory had departed; she was now defiled and ashamed!

Also see:
» Why are the heavens not clean in God’s sight?
» Are we created in the image of God?
» Does God give us “points” for trying to be good?

Can you explain Philippians 2:14-16?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Can you explain Philippians 2:14-16? “[14] Do all things without murmurings and disputings: [15] That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; [16] Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16). 

In a word, “Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!”

One charge frequently leveled against us Christians is, “There are so many hypocrites in the church that I do not care to go.” While sinlessness in this life is utterly impossible, it is no secret that the professing Church could have done (and do) better in maintaining a solid testimony for the truths of Father God. What went wrong? They overwhelmingly substituted religious tradition and men’s opinions for the pure and simple truths of the Word of God rightly divided. Rather than “Thus saith the LORD,” it was (and still is) preferred, “Thus saith Mother Church,” “Thus saith Doctor So-and-So,” “Thus saith I,” et cetera.

A brother in Christ, now enjoying Heaven, wrote the following wise words many decades ago: “All believers are saints, and the moment they are [saved] they should begin to live as saints. It is not natural for a king to live like a pauper nor for a prince to live as a peasant. Those of us who are positionally saints should live as saints, and not bring disgrace and reproach upon Him who died on the cross in order that we might BE saints.” Thinking on these words, Philippians 2:14-16 immediately came to mind. (We will expound those verses later.)

That brother made a point, one that the professing Church would do well in remembering this present hour. Does it make sense for a king to live like a pauper—a very poor person? Is it not silly to see a prince living as a peasant—a lowly, rural person? Consider a parallel contradiction. Why are saints living like sinners, Christians living as non-Christians? The Holy Spirit wrote Philippians 2:14-16 to prevent that very incongruity. We would do well to heed those admonitions, that we “shine as lights!”

Philippians 2:14 opens with: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” To “murmur” means “express one’s discontent about (someone or something) in a subdued manner.” Grumbling in a low tone, something not easily heard, murmuring is due to ignorance, evil/bad thinking, and unbelief. “Murmuring” was a notable characteristic of the faithless, unthankful Israelites under Moses’ command (Exodus 15:24; Exodus 16:2-12, Exodus 17:3; Numbers 14:27-36, Numbers 16:11,41; Numbers 17:5-10; et cetera).

The Jews of old were not being renewed in the spirit of their mind. They were not mindful of JEHOVAH God’s provisions for them. They thought and behaved like He taught them nothing and did nothing for them. Deuteronomy 1:27 says: “And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” Imagine such pitiful ignorance—“the LORD hated [Israel]” so He delivered them from Egypt! Psalm 106:25 highlights the unbelief and disobedience associated with Israel’s “murmuring:” “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.”

When Jesus received and associated with “publicans and sinners,” the Pharisees and scribes “murmured” (Luke 5:30; Luke 15:2, Luke 19:7). These religious leaders were unbelieving and ignorant of the fact these “evil” people were very ones the Lord had come to save from sin (Matthew 9:10-13)! John 6:41 says: “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.” Again, this was all because of doubt and spiritual ignorance. God does not want us to be ignorant or unbelieving; the Bible is here to educate us in His will and ways, and we are to believe it. As we experience and enjoy the Christian walk, we do so with knowledge, faith, and gratitude.

Returning to Philippians 2:14: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” Here, “disputings” are “reasonings, imaginations, debate, doubtful things.” Whereas “murmurings” are complaints engendered by spiritual ignorance and ungratefulness to God, “disputings” are intellectual arguments or criticisms used to question or challenge God’s Word and will.

Jesus Christ spoke of “evil thoughts” proceeding from man’s sinful heart (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21). The Pharisees and scribes used “thoughts” and “reason” to critique Jesus’ healing of the paralytic man (Luke 5:22) and the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:8). Jesus’ disciples engaged in a petty, selfish “reasoning” and “thought” about who would be the greatest (Luke 9:46-47). Before God gave the unbelieving nations over to their preferences in Genesis chapter 11, Romans 1:21 says they were “vain [empty] in their imaginations.” We see “doubtful disputations” in Romans 14:1, discussions that cause weaker Christians to stumble. First Timothy 2:8 speaks of men in the local assembly needing to be “without… doubting.” James 2:4 talks about “evil thoughts.” All of these are examples of the “disputings” discouraged in Philippians 2:14.

The purpose or goal of a Christian obeying Philippians 2:14—neither murmuring nor disputing—is found in verse 15. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke….” “Blameless” is not “sinless” but rather “not guilty of wrongdoing; faultless.” “Harmless” means “innocent, unmixed, or untainted”—something not watered down. The word is translated “simple” in Romans 16:19. Positionally, we are God’s children by faith in Jesus Christ, His finished crosswork, the Gospel of the Grace of God (Galatians 3:26). Are we His sons practically, though? Sometimes. Our behavior does not constantly reflect our identity (new nature) in Christ. That is, there are “murmurings” and “disputings” in our lives as Christians. Let us see how we correct this.

We ought to be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke.” Instead of behaving like mature sons of God, there is often childishness in our lives—this should not be. “Without rebuke” means “not worthy of being faulted or discredited.” That is, no one has grounds for calling us hypocrites. As the famous dictum goes, “We practice what we preach.” We claim to be God’s children—we act like God’s children. We say we are saints—we behave like saints.

“In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation….” The life of Jesus Christ is to be lived in and through us the saints as we function in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). We should “do all things without murmurings and disputings,” we are to be “blameless and harmless,” we should be “the sons of God” practically, and we are to be “without rebuke,” while living in a world abounding with those very spiritual evils. What a distinction!

The word “crooked” here in Greek is skolios, from which we get “scoliosis” (curvature, warping, winding of the spine). It is rendered “untoward” (turned away from God) in Acts 2:40. “Perverse” is stronger—it means “corrupt, distorted.” “And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither” (Luke 9:41; cf. Matthew 17:17). Speaking of perversion within the “Christian” community, Acts 20:30 warns: “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” And, 1 Timothy 6:5: Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (These last two references contradict the behavior encouraged in Philippians 2:14.)

No matter our country, it is a “crooked and perverse nation.” Governed by Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), it is thus turned away from God and wholly corrupt. (That evil world system will remain until the Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.) God has left us on this planet as “outposts of the third heaven.” Since we are from another world (“the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son”), we are to behave differently from this world controlled by “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13).

“…Among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” In the midst of the unbelieving masses, we Christians live—nay, rather, we shine. As luminous celestial bodies contrast the deep, dark recesses of outer space, so we “stick out” in this lost and dying world. We are lighthouses, guiding souls away from danger and destruction. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, describing Israel’s believing remnant, excerpted: “[14] Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Ephesians chapter 5 adds: “[7] Be not ye therefore partakers with them [children of disobedience, verse 6]. [8] For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: [9] (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; ) [10] Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. [11] And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” We return to Philippians.

“Holding forth the word of life….” As we reprove the works of darkness by preaching and living the truth (Ephesians 5:1–6:9), so we “hold forth the word of life” by preaching and living it. “Holding forth” means “identifying it, paying attention to it, seizing it, and extending it to others.” Notice related usages. Jesus “marked” how some guests chose prominent positions at the feast (Luke 14:7). The lame man “gave heed” to Peter and John, expecting to receive something (Acts 3:5). Paul decided to “stay” for a while in Asia while he sent Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia (Acts 19:22).

“The word of life,” of course, is the Holy Bible, especially rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15). Jesus said: “It is the spirit that quickeneth [gives life to and makes active]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (verse 68). “Life” here is God’s life—how God lives—how Jesus Christ lives—how we Christians (should) live. God created physical life from nothing by using His spoken Word; He provides spiritual life similarly.

When we “hold forth the word of life,” we urge others to receive it (after all, eternal life through Christ is a gift offered—Romans 6:23). Again, we are not merely preaching the Gospel of Grace; we are living it. Titus 2:11-14 says: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Let us see the result.

We should “do all things without murmurings and disputings,” that we be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world—us “holding forth the word of life”—that the Apostle Paul may “rejoice in the day of Christ.” “The day of Christ” is “the Judgment Seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10)—when Christians are rewarded for their service to their Saviour while they lived in this present evil world.

Read Philippians chapter 1: “[6] Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:…. [9] And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; [10] That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. [11] Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

Notice verse 6 above points to Philippians 2:13, a verse that heads the passage we are currently discussing: God is working in us “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Until “the day of Jesus Christ,” the Holy Spirit has sealed us: He is working in us, so we should not “grieve”/sadden Him (Ephesians 4:30) or “quench”/hinder Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19). God’s grace teaches us how to live (Titus 2:11-14). We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are dead to sin; we are alive unto God (Romans chapter 6). We who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts; if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25). We return to Philippians.

While Paul ministered for 35 years throughout the Roman Empire, he risked his life daily. As he preached the Gospel of the Grace of God, an “illegal religion,” he suffered greatly at the hands of unbelieving, sinful men—imprisonments, beatings, lashings, muggings, deaths!, and so on (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Sometimes, he lacked food, clothing, and shelter (Philippians 4:11-13). How many modern “feel-good” preachers would endure this for Christ’s sake?

Philippians 2:16 concludes: “…that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” Despite all the Apostle’s suffering, something thrilled his heart beyond words. A mighty of harvest of souls had resulted! His time and energy were not wasted! One day, he would see those former idol-worshipping pagans stand in Heaven, there only because of Christ’s finished crosswork! But, there was more. They had not only believed that Gospel of Grace for justification unto eternal life—they had believed it to enjoy eternal life daily. Now, the Lord Jesus Christ would accept their work, their Christian service, at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They had shined as lights in the world; they had held forth the word of life!

These dear souls, once Hell-bound, now in Heaven, will be Paul’s reason for praising God! First Thessalonians 2:19-20: “[19] For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? [20] For ye are our glory and joy.” Philippians 4:1: “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” Paul did not “run in vain” when he initially preached the Gospel to them. Neither had he “laboured in vain” when he spent time teaching them daily grace living.

Christian living in the Dispensation of Grace is summarized so beautifully in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. We should constantly remind ourselves of this our “Great Commission:”

“[14] For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: [15] And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. [16] Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. [17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [18] And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Brethren, Christianity is not about us striving to demonstrate our love for God. Nay! It is Christ’s immense, unfailing love for us that drives us, both to preach and live the Gospel of Grace. We live and preach, that others may believe, live, and preach; also becoming “lights” to shine in this dying, dark world. In the ages to come, there will be a grand “lighting” like this universe has never seen.

When Paul’s converts—whether the Philippians of old, or us today—follow by faith those principles of grace the ascended Lord Jesus Christ entrusted to him, they are preparing for the Judgment Seat of Christ. We want to have this “gold, silver, precious stones” (sound Bible doctrine) stored up in our inner man: we want to have as little as possible of “wood, hay, stubble” (worthless teaching) (1 Corinthians 3:8-15).

All members of the Church the Body of Christ are the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s 2,000-year-long ministry through the Apostle Paul. Brethren, if we walk now by faith in the Dispensation of Grace, Romans through Philemon, there will be so much rejoicing on Paul’s part at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Moreover, all Christians will see the results of their ministries fully exposed, also rejoicing in how God used them to benefit other Christians. (I look forward to seeing you there, dear brethren!)

Immediately after the Judgment Seat of Christ, Father God will gather all His “lights” (members of the Body of Christ), and literally light up the heavens with them! Romans 8:18-19 says: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” What a day that “manifestation” of “glory” will be!

We began with a quote by a brother who has since moved to Heaven. Accordingly, to conclude, we use another quote from him: “We are the only Bible this careless world will read. We are God’s signboards in a sinful world. Men watch us, and they judge Jesus by the way we live, work, act, and talk.” Think as lights—“shine as lights!”

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving. You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! 🙂

Also see:
» What are instant Christians?
» Can you explain 1 Timothy 3:16?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?