Is reciting a list of names “vain repetitions?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

A Christian lady once asked me whether or not I thought she was guilty of praying the “vain repetitions” that the Lord Jesus had forbidden in Matthew 6:7. Many, many years earlier, her college-student son had compiled a list of names of hundreds of friends and professors so she could pray for them all. Yes, she was still faithfully praying for every last person on that list… all those (20-plus!) years later. She had prayed for those people for so long that she had memorized the entire list, no longer needing to hold and read from it at prayer time! She could name every person with her eyes closed. Yet, after those two decades, she had begun to feel like it had become mindless, empty repetition. Was it really?

Firstly, I told her she, of course, could never give those people new names. Names could not be altered in any way. Also, she could never change the fact that God wants them all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). These were immutable, so she could not avoid reiteration entirely. Her son had lost contact with most of them many years ago. She does not have current information about most of them. What is she to do? I told her to simply pray like she always has concerning them. Some are undoubtedly still unsaved and still need Jesus Christ. Others have surely come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour by now. Still, most likely, they do not understand and enjoy His Word as they should. God will honor her prayers because I think she has genuinely petitioned Him for all of them repeatedly.

Secondly, I told her that the LORD God saw her heart, how He knew that she was really attempting to pray properly. The Christian sister understood Pauline prayer. She was not trying to recite mindless, traditional prayers that a denomination had given to her. She was not reading from some worthless religious prayer book like a heathen does even today. She was praying in faith, according to God’s will for the Dispensation of Grace, like an intelligent member of the Church the Body of Christ. She was not praying superstitiously, selfishly, arrogantly, ignorantly, pretentiously, et cetera. She was not showing off for everyone to see at church; she was praying privately at home. What a ministry she has, and we could all follow her example!

Thirdly, I told her that, while we cannot change God’s will, while we should be praying according to God’s will, we can expand our vocabulary so that we go beyond simple prayers such as, “I pray for their salvation” or “May they see the truth.” If we use other phrases, this will guard against any possibility of “vain repetitions.” Employing new expressions—while retaining the basic (Bible) ideas—will keep us from becoming mindless robots, repeating the exact same statements. There should be variety in our terminology, or it becomes monotonous and rote.

Remember, “God who have all men to be saved” can be phrased numerous other ways—“That they would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” “That they would trust the Gospel of Grace alone,” “That they would come by faith to Calvary’s cross,” “That they would be justified by simple faith in Christ,” “That they rely exclusively on Christ Jesus and His shed blood for forgiveness of sins,” “That they stop trying to work to please God,” “That they see their lost estate and see God’s solution in Christ,” “That they pass from death to life,” et cetera. You can even quote 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 in the prayer, that way it reinforces in your mind what the Gospel of Grace is (“Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day”). When one of those people on your prayer list later asks you, “What must I do to be saved?,” you will have trained yourself to quote 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. This routine will spare you the awkward silence of, “Uhhh, I do not know…!”

The above is what you should pray for non-Christian people. Now, let us briefly outline what you should pray for Christians. The part of God’s will about “come to the knowledge of the truth” can be rephrased:

  • “That they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, and walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (loose quotation of Colossians 1:9-10).
  • You can pray for them to be “strengthened with all might by God’s Spirit in their inner man” (loose quotation of Ephesians 3:16).
  • Or, “That Father God would give them the spirit [attitude/mentality] of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened” (loose quotation of Ephesians 1:17-18).
  • You could pray for “their love to abound more and more in knowledge and in all judgment, they would approve the things that are excellent, that they would be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, that they would be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (loose quotation of Philippians 1:11).
  • “That whatever they do in life, they would do all to the glory of God, doing it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (loose quotation of 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17).
  • You could pray for them to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12).
  • “That they would give thanks in every thing, in every situation” (loose quotation of 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  • You could also pray “That they would not quench or stop the Holy Spirit from working in their lives” (loose quotation of 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
  • “That they would abstain from fornication, and know how to possess their vessel in sanctification and honor” (loose quotation of 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).
  • You could pray “That God’s Word would effectually work in them when they believe it” (loose quotation of 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
  • “That they would serve the living and true God and wait for His Son from heaven to deliver them from the wrath to come” (loose quotation of 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
  • You could also pray “That the Word of God would have free course in their lives” (loose quotation of 2 Thessalonians 3:1)—that means unhindered access to and reign over their lives.
  • You could even pray for them “not to engage in assemblies where there is false teaching” (loose quotation of Romans 6:17-18, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Galatians 1:6-9, and 1 Timothy 6:3-6).

These are some suggestions, and you are certainly not bound to repeat my words (paraphrases). What you are bound to, my dear friend, are the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon. See how Paul prayed, and go pray for and in accordance with that! That is God’s will!

Also see:
» Should we pray for sick people?
» What about the “sinner’s prayer?”
» How can I have an effectual prayer life?

Which belongs in Romans 8:16 and Romans 8:26 in the King James Bible—“the Spirit itself” or “the Spirit Himself?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Notice the following verses as they appear in the Authorized Version King James Bible. Romans 8:16 reads: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:….” And, verse 26: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” 

Textual critics and their followers fault the King James Bible because it uses the pronoun “itself” when referring to God the Holy Spirit. As you can see, it was surely not a mistake because the word appears twice. Why did our 1611 translators use this pronoun instead of employing the term “Himself?” Did they not regard the Holy Spirit as a Person? Were they denying the Deity of the Holy Spirit? Let us investigate!

Usually, when people criticize the King James Bible and offer some “better translation” or “better reading,” they are not qualified to make such a determination. I know because I used to be one of those people. Ignorant of Bible history, ignorant of Bible languages, and ignorant of sound Bible doctrine, I too was a detractor of the King James Bible. What caused me to change my position?

Firstly, instead of questioning my Bible, I decided to quit playing the hypocrite. If I claimed to be a “Bible believer” then I had better believe the Bible. I stopped being a Bible doubter and turned into a Bible believer. Do not misunderstand me; I had trusted Jesus Christ alone as my personal Saviour many years earlier. However, during that time, I had been taught that the King James Bible had mistakes and that I could not trust it 100 percent. Nevertheless, one day, I determined that if the King James Bible was trustworthy enough for me to depend on its Gospel of Grace as means of my getting into Heaven, then surely the rest of it was also true and worthy of my faith. If I could rely on its testimony for the major issue (justification unto eternal life), then why not believe the rest of its words?

Secondly, I quit repeating what others said about the Bible versions issue and started doing firsthand research for many years. I read up on world history, church history, and Bible history. I compared various Bible versions (in English and Greek). The more I studied, the more I realized the less I had been told all those years prior. While many had downplayed it as petty, I came to understand the Bible versions issue to be one of the most important matters in life. After justification and salvation unto eternal life in Christ, the Bible versions debate is the second most critical issue. The third is dispensational Bible study (which time and space, unfortunately, do not allow us to discuss here).

Now, we reread Romans 8:16: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:….” And, verse 26: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” The King James Bible is criticized for having “the Spirit itself… the Spirit itselfsince nearly all modern English versions say “the Spirit Himself…. the Spirit Himself” (including the New King James Version). To avoid controversy altogether, some versions will say “that very Spirit,” “the same Spirit,” or “God’s Spirit.” (Cleverly, they use neither “itself” nor “himself.”)

Notice the following classic anti-KJV rant as it pertains to this issue: “The King James translators did not believe in the personality of the Holy Spirit. They called Him an ‘it.’ The word should be ‘Himself’ rather than ‘itself!’ The Holy Spirit is a ‘Him’ and not an ‘it!’” Some have even gone so far as to change the King James text when reading it aloud. One Bible commentator, for example, when writing about Romans 8:16, actually removed “itself” entirely and replaced it with a bracketed “Himself.” This is not an isolated incident. Many do it, which only further plays into the confusion.

The above careless handling of the Scriptures is the result of nothing more than laziness on the faultfinder’s part. He likely does not view this as an opportunity to make the truth clearer; he, in his sinful mind, sees it as a chance to sit in judgment of God’s Holy Word and take its place as the final authority. After all, the man has been taught to have an anti-King-James-Bible position at his seminary, Bible College, university, local church, Bible class, and so on. He has learned from so many that the King James Bible and its underlying Greek text is “marred with mistakes.” This brainwashing has caused him to imagine an error everywhere he looks in the Authorized Version. God needs his education to “fix” or “improve” the Bible. He cannot turn one page of the Authorized Version without making that damnable critical remark, “This is a poor translation… the ‘oldest and best’ manuscripts read, blah, blah, blah….” It is sad, but it is true. Long ago, I was there, my friends. Never do I want to return to such pathetic spiritual ignorance!

When a preacher or theologian complains “itself” should be “Himself,” the average Bible reader automatically shouts, “Amen!” After all, the speaker went to seminary for many years. They should be able to tell us “just what God meant in His Word,” right? Well, just remember, not everyone who stands in the pulpit with a Bible is a servant of the God of the Bible. Not everyone who names the name of Jesus Christ is a servant of Jesus Christ. Not everyone who reads Greek and Hebrew believes the Bible text in Greek and Hebrew! (The same could be said of English-speaking people and the English Bible!) No one will bother to research why “itself” appears where it does in the Bible text… but we will. We want answers, and we are determined to find them!

So, why did our 1611 translators write “itself” twice? Here is how the Textus Receptus, the Greek text underlying the King James Bible New Testament, reads at the problematic points of Romans 8:16 and Romans 8:26:

Greek — Aτ τ πνεμαατ τ πνεμα
Transliteration — auto to pneumaauto to pneuma
Translation — itself the Spirit … itself the Spirit

Auto” must be rendered “itself” and not “himself” because “spirit” is a neuter noun (neither masculine nor feminine). You cannot have a male emphatic pronoun (“himself”) modify the neuter noun “pneuma,” and neither can you have a female emphatic pronoun (“herself”) modify the neuter pronoun “pneuma.” To be faithful to the Greek language of the New Testament, you must translate it as, “the Spirit itself.” (Since English and Greek are structured differently, we have to rearrange the words for the English to make sense—“itself the Spirit” in the Greek order is correctly read in English as, “the Spirit itself.”) The King James Bible is true to Greek here; you cannot say this about modern English versions. Contemporary translators altered the Bible text just to make it easy reading; of course, they did violence to Scripture in not adequately carrying the Greek thought.

The Holy Spirit is certainly a Person, but we do not need to violate the Greek Bible in Romans 8:16 and Romans 8:26 to prove it. For example, the Holy Spirit is said to be God in Acts 5:3-4. The Holy Spirit has the ability to know information and teach with words, so He must be a Person rather than some inanimate force (1 Corinthians 2:10-13). The Holy Spirit is said to “dwell,” or live, within the Christian that is His “temple” (2 Timothy 1:14; 1 Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit can speak and warn, as 1 Timothy 4:1 and Acts 28:25 say. The Holy Spirit can be “grieved,” or saddened, which certainly means He is a Person because only a rational Being has emotions (Ephesians 4:30). We could go on and on with dozens of other verses, but these are enough to prove that the King James Bible translators believed in the Deity and Person of the Holy Spirit. They were also superb Greek, Hebrew, and English scholars. Above all, they let that Holy Spirit use them in a mighty way. Now, we can benefit because we have their Holy Bible. Beloved, may we never get that critical, ungrateful, conceited, pessimistic attitude that so many anti-KJV people suffer from today.


Dear friends, we see that our King James Bible translators had a valid linguistic reason for handling Romans 8:16 and Romans 8:26 the way they did. They are unfairly criticized here (as in numerous other places).

“Spirit” in Greek (pneuma) is neuter, without gender; “itself” (auto) also being genderless, is the proper pronoun to modify “Spirit.” “Spirit itself”not “Spirit Himself”—is the correct reading in both verses. There is no mistranslation… except in the modern versions! The next time you hear someone complaining about “the Spirit itself” in the King James Bible as being wrong, just remember to write that individual off as ill-informed. Maybe they just do not know any better; or, perhaps they are willfully ignorant. Whatever the case, they are wrong. They do not have a clue about how the Greek language works and how our 1611 translators knew the Greek language more than they and all their “theological heroes” will ever know.

Here is indisputable proof of how English-speaking people have been trained to attack our King James Bible, the English Bible, in extremely unfair ways. May we guard against the Adversary’s subtle attacks of always trying to question God’s Word (Genesis 3:1)!

Also see:
» Is “excellent” a King James mistranslation in Philippians 1:10?
» Why does the King James Bible say, “pisseth against the wall?”
» Is the King James word “borrow” a mistranslation in Exodus 3:22?

Why did Abraham say what he did in Genesis 17:18?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!” (Genesis 17:18). Why did Abraham pray these words?

JEHOVAH God, after giving the nations nearly 2,000 years to come to Him by faith, scattered them because of their idolatrous rebellion (Genesis chapters 10 and 11). He isolated one pagan, Abram the Syrian. Genesis chapter 12: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

God promised Abram he would father a nation, Israel, for His earthly purposes. Yet, Abram and wife Sarai remain childless for many years. Impatient, Sarai suggests Abram use her slave girl, Hagar, as a surrogate mother. Abram, in unbelief, follows his wife’s advice. Genesis 16:15-16: “And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bear, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six [86] years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.”

Some 13 years later, in chapter 17, God appears to 99-year-old Abram. “Abram” (“high/exalted father”) is renamed “Abraham” (“father of many/multitude”) (verse 5). Furthermore, God tells Abraham his promised son, Isaac, will be born next year to Sarah (verses 15-17). Since Isaac is coming and Ishmael was not God’s plan, Abraham fears God will kill Ishmael. In Genesis 17:18, Abraham pleads for Ishmael’s life.

The Bible continues, “[19] And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. [20] And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” Ishmael indeed lived, but, due to Abraham’s fleshly behavior, Ishmael fathered the Arabs—Israel’s most bitter enemies!

Also see:
» Is God finished with the nation Israel?
» Who is the “foolish nation” in Romans 10:19?
» Why is there so little human history in Genesis chapters 1-11?

Did Pharaoh drown in the Red Sea?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Exodus chapter 14 (the account of the Red Sea experience) does not say conclusively. Pharaoh indeed left Egypt with his armies to pursue the Israelites, as we see now:

“[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [2] Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. [3] For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. [4] And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.” Pharaoh is present with and leading his armies toward the Israelites, verse 4 says. God declares that He will punish Pharaoh and all his soldiers.

“[5] And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? [6] And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: [7] And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. [8] And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. [9] But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.” Verses 6-8 have Pharaoh himself preparing and heading toward the Red Sea with his troops.

“[10] And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD. [11] And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? [12] Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.” Verse 10 says Pharaoh himself is still advancing toward the shores of the Red Sea.

“[13] And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. [14] The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. [15] And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: [16] But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. [17] And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. [18] And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.” In verses 17 and 18, God speaks of Pharaoh as again being present with his chariots and horsemen. Pharaoh is indeed going to enter the Red Sea.

“[19] And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: [20] And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. [21] And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. [22] And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

“[23] And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. [24] And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, [25] And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

“[26] And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. [27] And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. [28] And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. [29] But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. [30] Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. [31] And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.”

Strangely, we do not read about Pharaoh specifically named as dying. Verse 28 said, “And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.” Scripture says the water came over the chariots, the horsemen, and all of Pharaoh’s troops. Not one of them survived. But what about Pharaoh? Did he escape? The Bible is ambiguous here. Some have thus suggested that Pharaoh possibly fled before the water came, and he went on living. Is there any merit in this?

Actually, Pharaoh’s fate is revealed later in the Bible. This textual feature is called “subsequent narrative,” and it is one of the Holy Spirit’s frequent methods of encouraging Bible study. He withholds some details about one event until revealing them many chapters, books, days, months, years, decades, centuries, or millennia after. Only the Berean Bible student—the sincere seeker of truth, the studious workman (2 Timothy 2:15)—can gain these “nuggets.” Those who are lazy, who read just a verse or two a day, never getting into the meat of Scripture, they will never know such details.

When the Hebrews sang the Song of Moses in the chapter following the Red Sea miracle, they reveal to us that Pharaoh indeed perished when God closed the waters of the Red Sea. Exodus 15:19 reports: “For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.” Pharaoh’s horse (singular) went in the Red Sea, meaning Pharaoh was physically present on the seafloor when God swiftly reunited the waters. Lest this verse be too obscure and thus inconclusive for some, we offer Psalm 136, the great “His mercy endureth for ever” song. It says of JEHOVAH God in verse 15: “But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

In light of these verses, Pharaoh indeed died in the Red Sea. The nation Israel had been so bothersome to him that he went to destroy the Jews himself, to see to it that they were all slaughtered in the Red Sea basin. He was there when the waters flooded back. Furthermore, God would not have allowed wicked Pharaoh to escape. If we look again at Exodus chapter 14, the LORD God said He intended to take Pharaoh’s life with all his armies: “[17] And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. [18] And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.”

We close by remembering that Pharaoh is a type, or picture, of the future Antichrist. Just as God will destroy the Antichrist and his armies at the Second Coming of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:11-21), so God destroyed Pharaoh and his armies in the Red Sea miracle. Both men take God’s people captive and the only way for God to free the nation Israel in both instances is to make war with and slay all of her oppressors. Whether the Red Sea miracle or Christ’s Second Coming, they both signify to Israel their death to their old life in bondage to sin, and the dawn of their new life in service to God. The Millennial Reign of Christ can therefore begin (which loops back to Exodus 15:13-18).

Also see:
» How long did it take Israel to cross the Red Sea?
» What does “Lord of Sabaoth” mean?
» Why did God kill the Egyptians’ firstborn sons?

Do Matthew 9:18, Mark 5:23, and Luke 8:42 contradict?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Matthew 9:18: “While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.”

Mark 5:23: “And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.”

Luke 8:42: “For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him.”

Why did this “certain ruler” in Matthew 9:18 say his daughter “is even now dead?” (This is past tense, something that already happened.) After all, Mark 5:23 says she “lieth at the point of death,” and Luke 8:42 has her “a dying.” (These last two accounts say she is in the process of dying, but not actually dead yet.) Are these errors in the Bible? How do we reconcile these verses?

These subtle variations concerning the same narrative demonstrate the Bible’s reliability. The Four Gospel Records are not meant to mirror each other 100 percent, and this issue is just another case in point. Their writers did not “collaborate” and “fabricate;” otherwise, these interesting disparities would not exist for us to study here. The Four Gospel Records are the earthly life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ viewed from four different angles. Diversity in language and description is acceptable because God chose to give us more than one Gospel Record of Christ’s earthly ministry!

Remember, the easiest explanation is the most likely plausible one. Here is this author’s belief on the subject. The father (who is actually Jairus, a ruler of the local synagogue, according to Luke 8:41) would have said first to Jesus Christ, “My little daughter lieth at the point of death…” (Mark 5:23). After all, Luke 8:42 says she was “a [in the process of] dying.” That dear father, realizing the severity of his daughter’s illness, assumed that, by now, she had most likely died. Moreover, some time had passed since he saw her, left his house, and found Jesus. Such passage of time surely caused her to further weaken and possibly expire. So, Jairus spoke to Jesus once again, “My daughter is even now dead.”

The poor man was under great emotional distress, mind you. That little girl was his “one only daughter,” and she was just about 12 years old (Luke 8:42)—12 being the number of the nation Israel! Jairus was frantic, and could have blurted out many other words not recorded in Scripture. We should not get so bogged down in the conversation that we miss the miracle that took place. Jesus Christ raised that little girl back to life, just as He will raise national Israel from the dead one day! See Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:22-43, and Luke 8:49-56. It is apparent from Luke 8:55 that she had indeed died, and Jesus miraculously called her spirit back into her body.)

Also see:
» Do Matthew 17:15, Mark 9:17-18, and Luke 9:39 contradict?
» Do Matthew 10:10, Mark 6:8, and Luke 9:3 contradict?
» Why do 1 Corinthians 10:8 and Numbers 25:9 contradict?

Was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah inhospitality?


by Shawn Brasseaux

In an attempt to get around the Bible’s anti-homosexual stance, some suggest (yea, in great desperation) that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was actually inhospitality. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah were supposedly wicked in that they mistreated Lot’s guests. Is this a fair evaluation of the moral conditions of Sodom and Gomorrah? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Firstly, it is clear from the Bible that God’s problem with Sodom and Gomorrah existed long before Lot’s guests showed up at his home. Genesis 13:13, for example: “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” Also, Genesis chapter 18: “[20] And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; [21] I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” Lot’s guests did not arrive in Sodom until chapter 19.

Again, the LORD God had a controversy with Sodom and Gomorrah before Lot’s visitors even showed up. “Inhospitality” certainly had nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with it. In fact, the very reason those angelic visitors came to Lot’s residence was that God had sent them to destroy the region. Read the words of God as found in Genesis chapter 19: “[12] And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: [13] For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.”

So, what was it then? What made Sodom and Gomorrah so offensive to God? Let us now go to the passage of Scripture that deals with Lot’s angelic guests. We start at the beginning of Genesis chapter 19:

“[1] And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; [2] And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. [3] And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.”

Lot was already aware of his neighbors’ lifestyles and intentions, for he urged those two men to come into his house for the night. It simply was not in their best interest to live in the streets of Sodom! The next two verses explain: “[4] But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: [5] And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.”

What does it mean that the men of Sodom wanted to “know” Lot’s guests? Keep reading: “[6] And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, [7] And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.” Verse 8 is indisputable: “Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.” Lot gives the men of Sodom permission to “know” his daughters who had not “known” man, hoping those men will be satisfied and leave his guests alone. Obviously, a sexual connection is implied. When the King James Bible speaks of sexual intercourse, the euphemistic term is “know”—Adam “knew” Eve (Genesis 4:1,25), Cain “knew” his wife (Genesis 4:17), Judah “knew not” Tamar (Genesis 38:26), Joseph “knew… not” Mary (Matthew 1:25), and so on.

Reading again from Genesis chapter 19: “[8] Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. [9] And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.” See, the men of Sodom were not interested in taking Lot’s daughters in an intimate union. They wanted to gang rape his male visitors! Without doubt, homosexual behavior is the “wickedness” of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot called it as such and so did the Bible.

Just so you are not left to wonder what happened, we continue in Genesis chapter 19: “[10] But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. [11] And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.”

You keep reading that chapter, friend, and you learn God gives Lot and his family a chance to escape Sodom unharmed. Ultimately, “[24] Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; [25] And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.” Again, it would seem strange that God would consume these cities with such devastation simply because of inhospitality. No, there was sexual perversion here. Homosexual behavior is not God’s intention for mankind: it is contrary to nature. It makes a mockery of His design in human reproduction. Unless there is a heterosexual union, human procreation is impossible, and fulfilling God’s command of man to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:26-28) is unattainable.

Second Peter 2:6-10 is more of the Holy Spirit’s commentary on the subject: “[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; [7] And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: [8] (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds; ) [9] The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: [10] But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.”

This author does not want to get too graphic, but the following information is pertinent to our discussion and extremely enlightening. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “sodomy” as “anal intercourse.” Notice the etymology of the word: “Middle English: from medieval Latin sodomia, from late Latin peccatum Sodomiticum ‘sin of Sodom’ (after Gen. 19:5, which implies that the men of Sodom practised homosexual rape) (see Sodom).” Even these lexicographers—who may or may not be Bible believers—understand the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was homosexualism; it had nothing to do with “inhospitality.”

In closing, it is very important to know that, while homosexualism is indeed a sin (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:9-11), it is forgivable! The Lord Jesus Christ died and shed His blood to deliver us from all our sins. My dear friend, there is more forgiveness than you can imagine in Christ. It does not matter what we have done, what we are doing, or what we will do; there is acceptance and forgiveness in Christ. In His great (!) love and care for us and His great (!) kindness and mercy toward us, Almighty God made provisions to take care of that eternal penalty of our sin (Hell and, ultimately, the Lake of Fire). We do not have to go to Hell… unless we choose to die without Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. There is absolutely nothing that God cannot forgive, absolutely nothing that His grace cannot overcome, and absolutely nothing that His blood cannot cover. Come to Calvary quickly, dear friend, come quickly! Come to God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31)!

Also see:
» How many daughters did Lot have?
» What advice can be given to homosexual Christians?
» How do we not live after the flesh if we live in bodies of flesh?

How was Jesus Christ crucified among the Galatians?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Galatians 3:1 concludes with some very interesting words: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” Was not the Lord Jesus Christ crucified just outside Jerusalem, Israel, some decades prior? Then how could the Scriptures say here that was He crucified among Paul’s converts in Galatia (modern Turkey)?

Today’s “Gospel” preaching and teaching usually blurs and obscures the simple truths of God’s Good News to mankind. You hear “the Gospel” (?) preached today in the average church, and you hear nothing but discrepancy and contradiction. There are pleas for individuals to straighten up their lives first and then come to Jesus Christ. At “invitation time,” various and sundry enticements are heard. They are invited to do everything but rely on Christ and Christ alone—walk an aisle, say the “sinner’s prayer,” make deals with God, shake the preacher’s hand, kneel at the “altar” and weep hysterically, “ask Jesus into your heart,” give money, fill out a visitor’s card, pray for the “fire” to zap you, help the poor, support missions, join the church, get water baptized, “make Jesus the Lord of your life,” confess your sins, keep the Ten Commandments, obey the denomination’s precepts, repent of your sins, turn from your sins, feel “so sorry” for your sins, on and on and on.

All the above activities focus on us—what we can do to rehabilitate, reform, and manage sin. They are not pure Gospel messages because Jesus Christ’s work is not preeminent in them. Law is emphasized and grace is thus hidden! Contrariwise, the aforementioned conundrums and confusions were not the case with the Apostle Paul’s ministry. It was before the eyes of the Galatians that Jesus Christ was presented as the crucified Saviour. There were no gimmicks, no lies, and no traditions of men to clutter and cloud the minds and hearts of these idolatrous, Hell-bound souls! Laden with religious works already, they needed the grace of the Creator God they knew not! When the Apostle Paul arrived in Galatia and preached the Gospel of the Grace of God, there was such authority and clarity that his audience saw Calvary with awesome vividness.

First Corinthians 15:1-4 delineates Paul’s Gospel: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….”

With Paul’s ministry, there was nothing difficult to grasp, nothing mysterious, and nothing unclear as to what God’s justice demanded as payment for our sin. Our works were not the issue; Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for our sins, THAT was the issue! The Galatians saw it with startling lucidity, and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. They immediately passed from death to life, from Satan’s family to God’s family. However, Satan would not be outdone and would not give them up without a fight!

Galatians 1:6-9 is a sad commentary: “[6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

Immediately after Paul left Galatia, the Devil worked his “magic.” Some Jewish legalists came in and used the Law—Moses’ writings, Scripture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!—to confuse those saints. Paul’s advice was for the Galatians to separate from such false teachers. He called those Galatian Christians “foolish” in Galatians 3:1. They let people “bewitch” them: false teachers had cast a spell on them, causing them not to think clearly when it came to spiritual matters. They had abandoned the clear message of God’s grace and its accompanying blessings, and returned to religious bondage (Law) and its associated spiritual ignorance! Instead of “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), they were mixing the dispensations God had separated.

Acts 15:1-5 highlights this problem that existed between Jewish kingdom saints, Jewish false teachers, and Paul’s Gentile converts: “[1] And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. [2] When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. [3] And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. [4] And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. [5] But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.Verse 5 was the message preached in Galatia after Paul left.

To correct the mix-ups, the Holy Spirit through Paul said in Galatians 2:16-21: “[16] Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [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. [18] For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. [19] For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. [20] I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. [21] I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

Now, Galatians 3:1-5: “[1] O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? [2] This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? [3] Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? [4] Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. [5] He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”

Galatians 4:21: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” What was the problem at Galatia? Those saints wanted to follow the Law of Moses instead of the Grace of God!

Also, Galatians 5:1-9: “[1] Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. [2] Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. [3] For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. [4] Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. [5] For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. [6] For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. [7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” How awful—these dear saints had been polluted with non-dispensational Bible study! Sound familiar?!

Lastly, Galatians 5:18: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” The Spirit of God will never, ever, EVER (!) lead anyone in the Dispensation of Grace to place himself or herself under a performance-based acceptance system! Grace operates today; it tells us how to be justified and accepted before God unto eternal life (Romans chapters 1-5) and it tells us how to live as Christians before God on a daily basis (Romans chapters 6-8, 12-16). It is all about Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins, and it is all about Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as means of conquering sin on a daily basis. Our performance is not the issue because we are weak and unreliable. Never once has Jesus Christ failed, though. Never once will Jesus Christ fail. That is why God put Christ in us—He wants us absolutely, totally, completely, eternally to have victory. Sin will only come about when we rely on ourselves.


My dear friends, we need to be extremely vigilant concerning false Gospels. They always have some element of works attached to them. They are widespread, and have—yes—led millions to eternal damnation rather than eternal bliss. Still, we need to be warned concerning clear Gospel messages also. We can hear all the clear Gospel of Grace messages we want, but, unless they are coupled with our faith, those divine words will do nothing for us. A pure Gospel message without personal faith will do as much good for you as a false Gospel message. We can be saved and on our way to Heaven, never to go to Hell, and still be so warped in the Scriptures that it is beyond comprehension (remember the Galatians!). We can be saved by grace through faith without works, and then be fooled into thinking we can maintain our salvation by our works. What deception! Satan’s evil world system is very subtle—it comes in so many forms.

By the way, in closing, let me stress this. Your greatest handbooks to combat false Gospels today are the Bible Books of Romans and Galatians (major tools Protestants used during the Protestant Reformation to discredit Roman Catholic works-religion). Read Romans chapters 1-5 and Galatians (all six chapters), and you will see the Gospel of Grace like never before. This instruction will enable you to spot any erroneous Gospels. Above all, they will help you in evangelizing others, that you too may evidently set forth before their eyes Jesus Christ crucified among them! 🙂

Also see:
» Can you explain Galatians 6:11?
» Is Galatians 1:6-7 contradictory?
» What about the “Jewish Roots” Movement?

Whose repentance is in Hebrews 12:17?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Hebrews 12:17 is an obscure verse indeed. Notice: “[16] Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. [17] For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Whose repentance is under discussion here—Esau’s, as commonly assumed? Or, is there is a helpful verse elsewhere in Scripture… one that leads us to some other conclusion?

The writer of Hebrews is quoting Genesis chapter 27. In an earlier chapter—specifically, 25:27-24—unbelieving Esau foolishly sold his birthright to get a bowl of his twin brother Jacob’s vegetable soup. The birthright, a position with spiritual significance, was thus transferred to Jacob. Here in chapter 27 now, Jacob has sneakily obtained Esau’s blessing from their father Isaac. Esau comes in and Isaac informs him of the bad news.

Genesis chapter 27: “[34] And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. [35] And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing. [36] And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? [37] And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? [38] And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.

Did you notice Esau’s weeping at the close of verse 38? These are his “tears” spoken of in Hebrews 12:17. That crying was designed to lead someone to repentance, to a change in mind. (Contrary to popular belief, repent does not mean to feel sorrow for sin or to turn from sin. It means to think differently—namely, to stop viewing a situation one way and start looking at it another way. The word in Greek is “metanoeo”—comprised of meta [“afterward”] and noeo [“to exercise the mind”]. Repentance thus means “to think differently or afterwards; reconsider.”)

What would Esau have to change his mind about? In the context of Genesis, it does not make sense to make Hebrews’ repentance apply to Esau. Genesis has Esau trying to cause his father Isaac to change his mind about blessing Jacob. To wit, Esau wants Isaac to reconsider and rescind the blessing he just bestowed upon Jacob. Unfortunately for Esau, Isaac’s actions are irrevocable. However, Esau gets emotional and tries to manipulate Isaac into feeling sorry for him. Esau cries and cries, moaning and groaning, shrieking: a great emotional upheaval, great disappointment and devastation, consumes Esau. He cries, not to change his own mind, but to change his father Isaac’s mind. Of course, it does not work. There can be no reversal. Isaac cannot take back his promise. Jacob will be blessed and that is just all there is to it.

Read the verse again—this time, with my comments in brackets. “For ye know how that afterward, when he [Esau] would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected [Isaac had already blessed Jacob; there was no blessing for Isaac to give to Esau so Isaac declined to bless Esau]: for he [Esau] found no place of [Isaac’s] repentance, though he [Esau] sought it carefully with tears.” Friend, do you see how clear the verse is when we use Genesis for comparison? Comparing Scripture with Scripture is how we Berean Bible students handle abstruse verses!

Also see:
» What about repentance?
» “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated?”
» Why do I get nothing out of the Bible when I read it?

Why does Daniel 5:25 say “Upharsin” but Daniel 5:28 say “Peres?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

In the Bible’s well-known “handwriting on the wall” passage, Daniel chapter 5, we read about Babylonian King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, and his strange experience. The Prophet Daniel is summoned to decipher JEHOVAH God’s cryptic and disconcerting message to Belshazzar. Mighty Babylon will soon fall, conquered and usurped by the Medes and Persians. The divine message and Daniel’s interpretation seemingly disagree, though. Therefore, it behooves us here to shed light on the “contradiction.”

Dear friend, read Daniel chapter 5 for yourself: “[25] And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. [26] This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. [27] TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. [28] PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” We see “MENE” and “TEKEL” in both God’s message and Daniel’s interpretation. However, why does “PERES” appear in the interpretation when the original message had “UPHARSIN?”

Beginning at the start of Daniel chapter 5: “[1] Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. [2] Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. [3] Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. [4] They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.” This is a religious orgy—pagan idols are being worshipped, sexual perversion is rampant, drunkenness is widespread, and God’s holy vessels from the Jerusalem Temple are being used to “have a good time” at this festival in Babylon!

“[5] In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. [6] Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. [7] The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. [8] Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. [9] Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.

“[10] Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: [11] There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; [12] Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.

“[13] Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? [14] I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. [15] And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing: [16] And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.

“[17] Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. [18] O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: [19] And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. [20] But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: [21] And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.

“[22] And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; [23] But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: [24] Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.

“[25] And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. [26] This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. [27] TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. [28] PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. [29] Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. [30] In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. [31] And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.”

Now we go back and focus on verses 25-28: “[25] And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. [26] This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. [27] TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. [28] PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Just so you know, the strange words in the above verses are actually transliterations of Aramaic or Chaldee (a language made up of both Hebrew and Babylonian language). While most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, certain sections were written in Aramaic. The entire fifth chapter of Daniel is one of those Aramaic portions. All of Daniel chapter 5 was translated into English, except for the handwriting on the wall. It was transliterated. God the Holy Spirit through Daniel, however, gave us the definitions (or interpretations) of those foreign words.

  • “MENE, MENE” = Aramaic/Chaldee for “numbered, counted” (repeated for emphasis) = “God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it” (Daniel 5:26). JEHOVAH God has ordained Belshazzar’s (or Babylon’s) reign, and has brought it to completion.
  • “TEKEL” = Aramaic/Chaldee for “balanced, weighed” = “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting” (Daniel 5:27). Belshazzar (or Babylon) is deficient, fallen short, and now ready to be removed from power.
  • “UPHARSIN” = Aramaic/Chaldee for “divisions” = “Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:28). Belshazzar’s kingdom is being split between the Medes and Persians. The writing on the wall read “UPHARSIN” while Daniel himself used “PERES.” Why? “UPHARSIN” is plural (“divisions”); “PERES” is singular (“divided”). Babylon is being divided once into two branches (Media and Persia will take their respective portions). There is no contradiction here, just a linguistic inflection (variation) to highlight two different aspects of this prophecy (one separation into two segments).

Let us be careful to note the closing verses of Daniel chapter 5. God’s prediction—the handwriting on the wall—was 100 percent accurate. Shortly after Daniel interpreted the message, on the very night (!) of King Belshazzar’s party, estimated to have been in 536 B.C., Babylon was attacked, Belshazzar was killed, and Darius the Median (Medes) assumed power over Babylon and all its territories!

Also see:
» Was King Nebuchadnezzar a saved man?
» Does the Bible support the idea of “the divine right of kings?”
» Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras?

Was Mary Magdalene really a prostitute?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Mary Magdalene is often assumed to have been a harlot, a prostitute. Is there any Scriptural basis for this idea? Or, is it just another example of widespread Bible ignorance?

There are 12 verses in which Mary Magdalene appears by name in the Bible (Matthew 27:56,61; Matthew 28:1; Mark 15:40,47; Mark 16:1,9; Luke 8:2; Luke 24:10; John 19:25; John 20:1,18). She only shows up toward the end of Christ’s earthly ministry—particularly the cross and Jesus’ burial and resurrection. Two verses alone provide us with a glimpse into her past; Luke 8:2 is the more informative of the two.

  • Mark 16:9: “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”
  • Luke 8:2: “And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,”

Notice that Mary Magdalene’s characteristics are past tense—she had at least two “infirmities” (sicknesses, illnesses) and had been possessed by seven devils (evil spirits). The dear lady had been in awful shape, but—praise God (!)—she was not hopelessly lost! Jesus Christ could and did heal her of all her afflictions. As you can read for yourself, though, God’s Word never says prostitution was one of her predicaments (compare this to the language of “Rahab the harlot” in Joshua 6:17,25 and James 2:25).

We do not know what Mary Magdalene did to earn a living, but her surname “Magdalene” reveals her origin. She was from Magdala, a town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus Christ visited and preached in Magdala in Matthew 15:39—perhaps she was converted here?

By the way, Mary Magdalene being a prostitute is just one of the many erroneous ideas about her. Others, equally ignorant of Scripture, have suggested that she married the Lord Jesus and even had His daughter! Again, this is all vain speculation… utter nonsense. None of this is found in the Bible either. We have to be very careful, dear friends, when holding to “commonly-held beliefs.” They may be popular, but, as we saw here, they are not necessarily Scriptural and true.

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Also see:
» Who was Melchizedek?
» Was Luke a Jew or a Gentile?
» Who was Theophilus?