Monthly Archives: September 2019

Are the “angels” of the Revelation really “pastors?”

ARE THE “ANGELS” OF THE REVELATION REALLY “PASTORS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Aggelos” appears 76 times in the Greek version of the Book of the Revelation. While most commonly rendered “angels,” scholars want to make eight exceptions. They argue that 68 references are to spirit-beings. Allegedly, the other eight references are not angels but rather “pastors” or “messengers.” Why do they say this? Are they correct? Why does it matter that we settle this? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

According to Strong’s Greek Concordance of the Bible, the King James Bible’s underlying Greek New Testament contains 186 instances of the word “aggelos”—rendered “angel” 179 times and “messenger” seven times. Never once is it translated “pastor.” While most often referring to spirit creatures, there are some exceptions: “aggelos” is the role of John the Baptist as “messenger” of God (Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27), it applies to the “messengers” of John (Luke 7:24), it describes the “messengers” of Jesus (Luke 9:52), and it applies to the Jewish “messengers” sent to Rahab in Jericho (James 2:25). Finally, “aggelos” is rendered the “messenger” of Satan that afflicted Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7—this would be a malady rather than a spirit-being or human.

To repeat, “aggelos” is used 76 times in the Greek version of Revelation. Most scholars favor it be translated “pastors” or “messengers” in eight particular instances. This alteration of the text makes it easier to teach that these beings are humans as opposed to angels. Therefore, they claim “angel” in our King James Bible should really be “messenger” or “pastor” in Revelation chapters 1–3. Let us read those eight verses:

  • Revelation 1:20: “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”
  • Revelation 2:1: “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;….”
  • Revelation 2:8: “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;….”
  • Revelation 2:12: “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;….”
  • Revelation 2:18: “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;….”
  • Revelation 3:1: “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.”
  • Revelation 3:7: “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;….”
  • Revelation 3:14: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;….”

Dr. C. I. Scofield, in his eponymous study Bible, has placed a footnote at the word “angels” in Revelation 1:20: “The natural explanation of the ‘messengers’ is that they were men sent by the seven churches to ascertain the state of the aged apostle, now an exile in Patmos (cf. Phil. 4. 18); but they figure any who bear God’s messages to a church.”

While we will always appreciate Brother Scofield’s diligence in disseminating dispensational Bible truths via his study Bible, we must respectfully disagree with him concerning the “natural explanation” of those “angels” of Revelation’s seven churches. If we attempt to make these seven churches part of the Church the Body of Christ, we will seek to make the passages in Revelation fit with God’s current dealings with us. Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, are totally silent about any angelic beings leading any local assemblies of the Body of Christ. If we make Revelation’s seven churches part of the Body of Christ, and most do (as Dr. Scofield), then we will naturally disagree with Revelation when it mentions “angels” leading seven local churches.

Another theologian commented on the word “angels” in Revelation 1:20: “The word lit. means ‘messenger.’ Although it can mean angel—and does throughout the book—it cannot refer to angels here because angels are never leaders in the church. Most likely, these messengers are the 7 key elders representing each of those churches.” Notice how he argued “angels” should be “messengers” because angels never lead the church. Why? Like many, he is forcing these seven churches of Revelation to be the Church the Body of Christ. This is completely unsound theology, non-dispensational Bible study. Furthermore, he admits that the word “aggelos” is translated “angel” throughout the Book of the Revelation. Still, he wants to make the eight exceptions (change the word from “angel” to “messenger”) in order to keep his pet theological position!

As always, dear friends, the safest method to handle the Bible is to leave the King James Bible text alone. If we must alter God’s Word to fit our theology, then our preconceived ideas mean more to us than God’s Word. We have mixed-up priorities and misplaced loyalties! Beware, beware, beware!! Unless we turn back from this wayward path, we are sure to be further deceived! (The Bible says this, but it really means that. “Angel” is not “angel;” “angel” means “pastor.” If that is the case, how will we ever get anything out the Bible? Whether this or other topics, will be “spiritualizing” it instead of taking it literally.)

In Scripture, “stars” and angelic beings are closely related (Job 38:7; Daniel 8:10 cf. Revelation 12:4). As we saw earlier, Revelation 1:20 says the “stars” of the seven churches (verse 16) are “angels.” Such is not the language of human messengers of God. In keeping with Bible terminology, “stars” and “angels” are linked. People and stars, however, are never associated with each other in Scripture. If we can understand this, we will have no problem with leaving the Bible text alone in the opening chapters of Revelation. While Paul’s epistles are silent about angels ministering to us today, angelic beings have played and will play a very important role in the nation Israel’s program. This is how we should approach the Book of the Revelation.

Angels served in Israel’s history concerning Divine revelation, particularly regarding prophecy. For example, when the Prophet Daniel asked God in prayer for wisdom concerning his end-times prophecies, God sent the Angel Gabriel to give him “skill and understanding” (Daniel 9:21-27). This is repeated in Daniel 10:21: “But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” Gabriel illuminated Daniel concerning the Bible. Also, we see an “angel” “shewing” the Apostle John in Revelation 22:8 various prophecies that comprise that Book. Zechariah the Prophet received Divine insight into prophecy from angelic beings (see the Book of Zechariah, chapters 2 through 6). The Prophet Ezekiel had visions of angels and their roles in God’s program for Israel.

Using all of this background, we can see why Almighty God would have literal angelic beings in Revelation chapters 1–3, rather than mere human messengers. Whether in John’s day (history to us) or Daniel’s 70th Week (yet future from us), God has one angel leading each of the seven main assemblies in Asia (that is, Asia Minor, modern Turkey). The letter to each church is written specifically to the angel leading each church. These angels are commissioned to take the doctrine and illuminate the Jewish believers in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

If we consider all that the Bible says about angels and prophetic understanding, there is no other way for us to interpret this matter. As the Book of Hebrews, chapter 1, verses 13 through 14, states concerning Israel and the end-times: “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” Indeed, angels will have a ministry to Israel yet future!

Also see:
» Is the Ephesian church of the Revelation the same group as those in the Book of Ephesians?
» Do we live in “the Church Age?”
» Should “church” be changed to “called-out assembly” in Acts 7:38 in the King James Bible?

Who is speaking in Proverbs 8:22?

WHO IS SPEAKING IN PROVERBS 8:22?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old,” says Proverbs 8:22. Who is the “me?” Is it Jesus Christ, as often assumed?

In the first few centuries A.D., there arose a heresy by the name of Arianism. Supposedly, the Lord Jesus Christ was a created being, a “begotten God,” rather than the eternal JEHOVAH God of the Bible. You hear a modern-day form of this nonsense when a so-called “Jehovah’s Witness”—better termed a “Russellite” (follower of Charles Taze Russell)—tells you that Jesus Christ is “a god” rather than “God.” In fact, their New World Translation was rendered in John 1:1 so as to reflect their unorthodox theology: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (Our King James Bible, or Authorized Version, reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”)

Furthermore, John 1:18 says in the New World Translation, “No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him.” (Our King James Bible has, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”) The “conservative” New American Standard Version agrees in John 1:18 “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” Friends, we could not have a more liberal translation here!!!!

Where the King James Bible and its underlying manuscripts read “Son” (“only begotten Son”), some manuscripts have “God” (“only begotten God”). This latter set of manuscripts is the source of the New American Standard Version (NASV) and the New World Translation (NWT). From where did this ancient error originate? One church father and major Bible manuscript editor, Origen (A.D. 185–A.D. 254), held to Arianism. He likely perverted John 1:18 in some ancient Bible texts, among other mutilated textual passages. That would also make Origin responsible for the resultant English translations found in the NASV and NWT. “Son” was changed to “God,” and we can see how heresy has actually crept into certain English Bibles!

In light of the above confusion, some have appealed to other Bible verses to strain to find “Scriptural” evidence that Jesus was a created being, someone who has not existed eternally (as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit have). Proverbs 8:22 is one of their “proof-text” verses—although the wording in the King James Bible cannot be used to teach Arianism. “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old,” says Proverbs 8:22 in the Authorized Version. Read the verse in the following popular modern English versions, and note how they have unnecessarily added the verb “created”/“made”/”formed,” or the concept of creation or bringing something (someone?) into being:

  • New International Version: “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;”
  • Amplified Bible: “The Lord created and possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old [were accomplished].”
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible: “The Lord made me at the beginning of His creation, before His works of long ago.”
  • New Living Translation: “The LORD formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else.”
  • New Revised Standard Version: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.”
  • Good News to Modern Man: “The LORD created me first of all, the first of his works, long ago.
  • The Living Bible: “The Lord formed me in the beginning, before he created anything else.”
  • Common English Bible: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his way, before his deeds long in the past.”
  • The Message: “GOD sovereignly made me—the first, the basic—before he did anything else.”
  • The New English Translation: “The LORD created me as the beginning of his works, before his deeds of long ago.”
  • The Voice: “The Eternal created me; it happened when His work was beginning, one of His first acts long ago.”
  • Revised Standard Version: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.”

Some interpret Proverbs 8:22 as Father God speaking of Jesus Christ. Then, the verse is made to read (using modern versions): “God created Jesus Christ at the beginning of creation….” However, this is not only heresy, it violates the context of Proverbs 8:22. The context was set in verse 1 (“Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?”) and in verse 12 (“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.”) The speaker of Proverbs 8:22 is not Jesus Christ; wisdom is the speaker. Wisdom is personified, given the trait of a living being, and it talks in order to issue counsel.

“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.” It would be so awkward to say, “The LORD possessed Jesus Christ in the beginning of His way.” What nonsense! “Me” here is wisdom. Proverbs 8:22 is simply teaching that Almighty God—actually Jesus Christ the Son (Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2)—exercised wisdom during the Creation Week. Contrary to what most scientists tell us, the heaven and the earth are not the result of some nebulous, random explosion and expansion of matter. Creation is the work of a wise God, a Supreme Being who had a plan and then brought it into existence by His spoken Word. He had knowledge about time, space, and matter—and then He had wisdom to bring it about. What an awesome God we Christians serve, brethren!

Also see:
» What does the Bible say about blood transfusions?
» Which Bible version should I use?
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”

What exactly is going on in John 11:49-52?

WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON IN JOHN 11:49-52?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We will start at verse 46 of John chapter 11:

“[46] But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. [47] Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. [48] If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. [49] And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, [50] Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

“[51] And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; [52] And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. [53] Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. [54] Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.”

It is quite clear from the text that Caiaphas the high priest was not aware of what he was saying when he spoke of Christ’s impending death during the trial. Verse 51 again, “And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;….” The priest’s office in Israel was designed to be a method of communicating God’s Word. Israel was encouraged to seek Divine words at the priest’s lips, seeing as to the Levitical priests are God’s messengers: “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 2:7). Consequently, Zadok the priest was called a “seer” or prophet—a spokesman for the LORD God—in 2 Samuel 15:27 (cf. 1 Samuel 9:9).

Although an unbeliever and thoroughly corrupt, Caiaphas was used by the LORD to speak His inspired Word. During those brief moments described above, Caiaphas unknowingly became God’s spokesman! God the Holy Spirit used him to predict the death of Christ, His death for Israel, but Caiaphas was merely expressing a fear that Jesus would have to die or they—the perverted Jewish religious leaders—would lose their spiritual and political clout over Israel (go back to John 11:48). Caiaphas’ argument was thus: if they (the Jews) did not “take care of” Jesus, Rome would intervene and destruction would occur—the Jerusalem Temple would have been lost, Judaism would have disintegrated, and so on.

“The children of God that were scattered abroad” refers to the Jews dispersed under every nation under heaven centuries earlier. Due to the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities, they were now in foreign lands instead of the land of Canaan where Caiaphas was speaking in Jerusalem. The divided kingdom—Israel (the northern 10 tribes) and Judah (the two southern tribes)—had arisen after King Solomon’s death. These would be united again under the Davidic dynasty. At Christ’s Second Coming, both kingdoms will be under one king and no longer two.

You may read all of Ezekiel chapter 37—Israel’s national restoration under the New Covenant, which looks to Jesus Christ’s Second Coming and onward into the Millennium. The New Covenant will be based on the shed blood of Christ (see Hebrews 10:1-22). Read this segment of Ezekiel chapter 37:

“[11] Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. [12] Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. [13] And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, [14] And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD….

“[21] And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: [22] And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all…. [25] And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.”

We can also compare this to Ezekiel chapter 34: “[11] For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. [12] As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. [13] And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.”

It was in light of Ezekiel’s prophecies—among other Old Testament passages—the Lord Jesus Christ announced in John chapter 10: “[14] I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. [15] As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. [16] And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. [17] Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. [18] No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

Also see:
» Is John 10:16 a reference to the Body of Christ?
» Does the Bible support British Israelism?
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?

Should we strive to distribute the Four Gospel Records?

SHOULD WE STRIVE TO DISTRIBUTE THE FOUR GOSPEL RECORDS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

If we can use the Scriptures to answer this question—To whom was Christ’s earthly ministry directed?—then we will be able to answer the first question!

Recently, a ministry was raising money to intentionally distribute one book containing the Gospel Records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While we certainly do not fault anyone for being zealous in getting God’s Word to all nations, that everyone may hear and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a better way to conduct such an endeavor.

Sadly, professing Christians are continuously struggling concerning evangelism and daily sanctification. Whether genuine or only nominal, these believers are unable to present a clear Gospel message. They come quite close to the truth at times, yet their obscure words are simply an inadequate basis for faith. What results? Lost people remain lost. Also, genuine Christians (who heard it) begin to wonder if they themselves have believed the right message.

Daily Christian living (daily sanctification) fares no better. Lost people, having not heard a clear Gospel, assume they can work to become Christians. In fact, they often appear to be Christians. Then, we have the Christians who usually act like lost people. Ultimately, the lost people assume they must be Christians, for the “Christians” behave worse than they do! Since Christians have yet to grasp that they are not lost people, they see no reason to act otherwise! Plain and simple, such unending confusion stems from a failure to rightly divide the word of truth. Verses are lifted out of context, thrown into one “Gospel message” or “Christian living message,” and then doled out to the public. Hopefully undertaken with the best intentions, these attempts nevertheless reinforce misunderstandings rather than mitigate them.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). There is no doubt whatsoever that all 66 Books of the Bible came from God’s mouth. He spoke them, preserved them, and translated them into our language. It is such a tragedy that He went through all that trouble to give us the plain and simple truth, and we still manage to complicate it literally beyond belief.

It is assumed that Jesus’ utterances in Matthew through John are the most authoritative in Scripture. Are the words of God the Son really greater than those of God the Spirit? Do the Holy Spirit’s words in Genesis through Malachi carry less weight than Christ’s words of His earthly ministry? Certainly not! What we need to understand is not only who is speaking, but to whom is it addressed. If God is talking, but to someone other than us, do we have the right to claim those Divine utterances as ours? Absolutely not!

Christ’s earthly ministry is based on Israel’s covenants: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Jews] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8). He was sent to Israel only in Matthew through John. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24; cf. Matthew 10:5-7; John 4:22); we Gentiles (non-Jews) are not in view. What He taught therein was designed to re-orient Israel toward the pure Law system from which they had drifted (Galatians 4:4; Matthew 8:4). His doctrine prepares an earthly people who have an earthly hope: “The meek… shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Doctrine in the Four Gospel Records depends on Israel rising to kingdom glory (Luke 1:15-17,67-79).

Now, contrast that with the Holy Spirit’s words through Paul. Paul is God’s apostle—or “sent one,” spokesman—to us Gentiles (Romans 11:13; cf. Acts 26:14-18). We are under grace not law (Romans 6:14-15). We have no claim to earth, as our destiny is the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6-7). Israel is currently fallen (Romans chapters 9–11); hence, her doctrine in Matthew through John is not the most recent Divine revelation.

Matthew through John are certainly inspired of God. We should read, study, and believe them. Nevertheless, they are not God’s Word to or about us. It is no more appropriate to make them fit us than it is to say that we must obey Genesis chapter 6 and prepare for a global flood by building a giant boat. Indeed, right division is key to understanding the right Gospel and enjoying victorious Christian living.

Matthew through John are God’s Word to and about Israel preparing to receive her Messiah-King (Jesus Christ) and earthly kingdom (Matthew 10:5-7; Romans 9:4-5). Jesus Christ and His associates (His heralder or forerunner John the Baptist, His 12 apostles, and so on) thus preached “the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matthew 9:35; cf. Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; et cetera). They performed miracles to validate that Gospel message that God’s kingdom was near (Mark 16:20; Luke 8:1-2). Israel would be delivered from bondage to sin and Satan, and then she would take God’s Word to the nations. Yet, Israel has yet to be delivered! God has temporarily paused the program He was operating in Christ’s earthly ministry. Through Israel’s fall salvation is come to us Gentiles (Romans 11:11-14).

Jesus Christ gave the Apostle Paul “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” to give to us Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1-2). We do not find God’s present-day dealings with man in Matthew through John; we find our instructions in Romans through Philemon. How will Father God stabilize our souls? Through His Word “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)! We must understand Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), then the rest of Pauline doctrine, and finally the entire Bible in light of Pauline revelation.

Romans chapter 16: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….”

Thus, Christian friend, if you are wondering where to begin with Bible translation or distribution, you are strongly urged to start with the Book of Romans. Romans is the clearest exposition of the Gospel of Grace by which we have a relationship with God today (chapters 1–5). It is also the most basic handbook for Christian living (chapters 6–16), with special emphasis on us not being the nation Israel (chapters 9–11). Simple!

Also see:
» Should we use the Book of John in evangelism?
» Did not Jesus speak words not recorded in Scripture?
» What Bible Book should I read first?

What is a “jot?” What is a “tittle?”

WHAT IS A “JOT?” WHAT IS A “TITTLE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Lord Jesus Christ famously announced in Matthew 5:18: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Exactly what is a “jot?” What about a “tittle?”

“Jot” is the transliteration of the Greek word “iota” (the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet), equivalent to “jod” or “yod” (the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet).

Psalm 119 is a gigantic acrostic containing 176 verses—eight verses for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. While not apparent in our English Bible, each first word of the first eight verses of the Psalm begins with the Hebrew letter “aleph” (equivalent to our “A”), the first word of each of the next eight verses starts with “beth” (comparable to our “B”), and so on. In most Bibles—especially printed ones—you will see a Hebrew letter heading before verse 1, another one before verse 9, yet another before verse 17, and so on. When you come to the tenth eight-verse section (verses 73-80), you will notice the Hebrew letter “jod” (it looks like this: י).

Jod resembles an apostrophe, or a raised comma. It is quite tiny—the smallest Hebrew letter (like our lowercase “i”). In many Hebrew words, it can be removed without changing meanings or sounds. Understandably, jod can be easily overlooked and discounted as insignificant. In English, conveying the idea of the Greek letter, we say, “There is not one iota of evidence,” meaning there is not even the smallest bit of proof.

The “tittle,” in the Hebrew language, is a small, horn-like projection on certain letters to differentiate them from the rounded letters. For instance, the Hebrew letters “cheth” and “he,” “daleth” and “resh,” “beth” and “kaph” are all distinguished by means of the little horn-like “tittle.” The English equivalent of a tittle is the tiny line on the letter “Q” that distinguishes it from the letter “O.” Another example is the horizontal bar placed on a lowercase “T” to differentiate it from a lowercase “L.”

We read Matthew 5:18 again: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” In Greek, “in no wise” is doubly negative (emphatic)—“ou me.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says: “Me: a particle of negation, which differs from ou (which is always an adverb) in that ou denies the thing itself (or to speak technically, denies simply, absolutely, categorically, directly, objectively), but me denies the thought of the thing, or the thing according to the judgment, opinion, will, purpose, preference, of someone (hence, as we say technically, indirectly, hypothetically, subjectively).”

Summing it up, here is the teaching of Matthew 5:18: Every intricate detail of the Old Testament prophecies will fully come to pass. Jesus Christ Himself said that the smallest particle not being fulfilled is an impossible scenario, something not even worth thinking about. Not even the smallest letter or stroke of God’s prophecies will fail to be accomplished, for He Himself has come to see to it that all be fulfilled. Luke 16:17, the companion verse, says: “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.”

The God of the Bible is meticulous. He did not utter broad, sweeping statements through the Old Testament prophets. These were rather specific events predicted in minute detail—a virgin of the house of David would conceive, the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Judaea at a specific time, He would perform miracles and teach the pure Word of God, He would be utterly rejected, He would die with His hands and feet pierced, His clothes would be divided, He would thirst while dying, He would be buried among the rich, He would rise again the third day, and so on.

According to the Lord Jesus Christ, every last part of the prophets’ writings would be fulfilled—each and every type fulfilled, each and every promise fulfilled, everything completely brought to pass. It would be utterly impossible for something therein not be accomplished. “Never, ever (ever, ever, ever!) think that God’s Word will not be fully brought to pass!” Whatever Christ did not fulfill at His First Coming, He will bring it to pass at His Second Coming. By the way, He fulfilled approximately 300 specific prophecies during His earthly ministry! Therefore, He could rightly say…

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18).

SUPPLEMENTAL #1: MATTHEW 5:18 AND THE SEPTUAGINT

The concepts in Matthew 5:18, particularly the tittle, concern the Hebrew alphabet (not Greek). There is no reference to the Septuagint (or “LXX”), the supposed “before Christ Greek translation of the Old Testament.” It is commonly taught that the Lord Jesus and His Apostles quoted the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) instead of the Hebrew Old Testament. Matthew 5:18 does not support that idea. In fact, the Septuagint itself has highly questionable (legendary!) origins, and it contains large apocryphal books scattered throughout the divinely-inspired writings. Matthew 5:18 indicates that Jesus Christ appealed to the Hebrew Old Testament, not the Greek (Septuagint).

SUPPLEMENTAL #2: MATTHEW 5:18 AND BIBLE VERSIONS

According to Matthew 5:18, God the Holy Spirit considers every part of His Word important— every Book, every chapter, every passage, every verse, every sentence, every word, every letter, every stroke of every letter, and even every punctuation mark. He even cares if there is an “s” on the end of a word (Galatians 3:16), and builds a doctrine on its singular form as opposed to its plural sense! Notice how He constructed a doctrine on a single word in Psalm 82:6 (cf. John 10:34-35).

Therefore, it should greatly concern us when people question and/or omit Scripture. It does not bother them to correct it, to remove a word, to insert a word, or cast doubt on a verse. However, it should trouble us. This twisted mentality drives the Bible versions issue. There is a constant push to overthrow the (Protestant) King James Bible and its manuscript family, and replace it with a Roman Catholic text (which contains the Septuagint, by the way!). “This verse should be this, this word should be that…” is a complete disregard for minute details in God’s Word. It is not faith but doubt. Either we believe the Bible, or we do not. It is hypocritical for us to claim to love the Bible and then tear it apart with the idle speculations of lost men!

God the Holy Spirit is interested in bringing 100 percent of His Word to pass. He is a stickler for the text because He is a careful planner. He will not fulfill 99 percent of prophecy but 100 percent of prophecy. He will not bring 99.999 percent of prophecy to pass; He will bring 100 percent to pass. Consequently, we inflict great damage on the Bible text with even one change. A textual alteration for the worse means that a prophecy can be fulfilled but it will not be apparent to us because we tampered with the applicable Scripture!!

“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Also see:
» “Thou shalt not kill” or “Thou shalt not murder?”
» Which belongs in Romans 8:16 and Romans 8:26 in the King James Bible—“the Spirit itself” or “the Spirit Himself?”
» Is the King James word “borrow” a mistranslation in Exodus 3:22?

Can you explain “knowing” good and evil with respect to the Garden of Eden?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN “KNOWING” GOOD AND EVIL WITH RESPECT TO THE GARDEN OF EDEN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

On four occasions in the Holy Bible, we read of “knowing” or “knowledge” as concerning the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. Exactly what concept is involved here? Was the fruit itself evil? (No!) Partaking of it—eating it—was the problem. But, how was consuming it such a “big deal” before God? Why was the LORD insistent that Adam and Eve not eat that fruit? What underlying idea made their act so offensive, eternally serious, worthy of expulsion and damnation?

Genesis chapter 2: “[9] And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil…. [17] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Scripture says in chapter 3: “[5] For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil…. [22] And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:….”

To have knowledge of good and evil”—to know good and evil”—is not about possessing the ability to know good from evil. It is not a matter of understanding good and evil. Adam and Eve knew right from wrong from the very beginning. They understood that to follow God was right and to disobey Him was wrong. That was not the purpose of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Rather, the emphasis on partaking of the forbidden fruit is being a judge, determining what is good and what is evil. This is the LORD God’s job alone. If Adam and Eve eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they are attempting to usurp God’s right to be the final authority. As the Creator God, He alone sets the standards: His rules must be followed and not disobeyed. He defines or decides what is good and what is evil.

In chapter 3, Satan enticed Adam and Eve to be their own authority. Eating of the forbidden fruit is significant because they are showing God they want to function like He does. Verse 5 again: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil…. The “gods” here is not a reference to “God” (as modern English versions read). Adam and Eve knew they cannot actually become God. However, they were led to believe they could be “gods”—beings who pretend to be God in that they make their own rules and do as they please. Satan himself is called “the god of this world” in 2 Corinthians 4:4, for he is ruling this evil world system as a usurper (Galatians 1:4; 1 John 5:19). Fallen angels—those who sided with Satan against God—are the “gods” of Genesis 3:5. They had already rebelled against the Creator, and Satan encouraged Adam and Eve to follow suit.

Unfortunately, we know the rest of Genesis chapter 3 (see also 1 Timothy 2:11-15, and the related study linked at the end of this article). Eve was deceived but Adam was not deceived. Operating without sound Bible doctrine, Eve ate the forbidden fruit—and Adam made a deliberate choice to follow her in eating. Here is the Fall of man, described quite clearly in Romans chapter 5 (which passage also discusses how the Lord Jesus Christ came to die and save us from that sinful state).

SUPPLEMENTAL: THE TEST OF LAW OR GRACE

Let it also be understood that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a test that God placed before Adam and Eve. Would they rely on God’s performance—what He did for them, what He gave them? Or, would they prefer their performance—what they wanted and what they could do for themselves? See Genesis 2:16-17: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Eve was not created until later that day, so she did not hear this directly from God. Presumably, Adam told her God’s Word.)

The LORD God Himself told Adam—and Adam was to convey the message to Eve—that He had given them all the trees of the garden for food except one. Save for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they had been granted permission to eat the fruit of any and every tree. This is God’s grace—abundant blessings, more than enough provisions, simply given because of His goodness!!! “Thou mayest freely eat.” Here is free will, friends. God did not force them to eat from the good trees, and He did not force them to eat of the one “off-limits” tree. It was not, “Thou must freely eat.” Neither was it, “Thou must not freely eat.” It was entirely up to them. Satan caused them to be ungrateful, ignore God’s provisions. They made the wrong choice, indeed, but it was their choice. God did not make it for them: He did not create them to be mindless robots!

God laid before Adam and Eve two choices. Firstly, they could function within the limits that He established for their own good. They could enjoy His goodness—and eat of all the trees except the one forbidden tree. In other words, they could by faith cooperate with His grace. Secondly, they could cross the barriers He erected. That is, they could ignore His grace, and attempt to be creatures He had not intended them to be, and try to provide for their own needs. It was most unfortunate—awful—they chose the latter route. This is the same course Abraham took when he ignored the son God promised him (Isaac) and fathered Ishmael. It is the same path the nation Israel took at Mount Sinai, when they threw aside everything God had done for them thus far and demanded a works-religion system. This is the same route people are taking today when they snub Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary, and go about establishing their own righteous with religious works! It is absolute folly… and it will result in eternal damnation!!!

Also see:
» What was “the forbidden fruit?” Was it really an apple?
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» Could you explain 1 Timothy 2:15?

What was “the forbidden fruit?”

WHAT WAS “THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT?” WAS IT REALLY AN APPLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Nearly all people—even “learned” ones—speak of Adam and Eve eating an “apple.” This idea has become so engrained in public knowledge and speech that it is likely the most pervasive Bible misconception. In fact, the prominent nodule on the throats of human males—the so-called “Adams apple”—derived its name from such nonsense. There is no Scriptural proof that an apple was the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. From where did such confusion come? How did an apple ever become associated with Adam and Eve? Can we use the Bible to discover the identity of the forbidden fruit? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

LATIN AND THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT

Never once does the Bible indicate that the eating of an apple led to man’s fall into sin. The Book of Genesis merely provides the generic word “fruit.” So, when and how did the idea of an apple enter the picture? Confusion likely arose with the Latin Bible over 1,000 years ago. The Latin “malus/mala/malum” means “bad/evil.” It is important to note that it has a short /a/ sound—as in “malnutrition,” “malpractice,” “malady.” The Latin “malus” (pronounced differently) translates to “apple.” It has a long /a/ sound—sounding like “age,” “day,” “laid.” (The Latin word is from the Greek for “apple”—“malon” or “melon.”) Since Scripture calls it “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” that word “evil” in Latin sounds very similar to the Latin word for “apple.” People began associating the two concepts, and the erroneous notion was eventually established to plague us with confusion even now.

If it were not an apple, can we use the Bible to learn what type of fruit it was? Yes!

LETTING THE SCRIPTURES SPEAK

We turn to Genesis chapter 2: “[9] And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil…. [16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: [17] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Moving to chapter 3 now: “[1] Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? [2] And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: [3] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. [4] And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: [5] For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. [6] And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. [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.”

As you saw for yourself, friend, there was nothing here about an “apple,” was there? The Bible said “fruit” and that is all it said. If we are to find out anything more, we will have to look for other Scripture verses. In fact, the Book of Judges contains an interesting and insightful “Parable of the Trees.” Let us consider Judges chapter 9 now:

“[7] And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.
“[8] The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. [9] But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
“[10] And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. [11] But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?
“[12] Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. [13] And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
“[14] Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. [15] And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.”

Did you notice four “trees” are identified here? We see an olive tree (verses 8-9), a fig tree (verses 10-11), a vine tree (verses 12-13), and a bramble tree (verses 14-15). A group of trees visit the olive tree, then the fig tree, next the vine tree, and finally the bramble tree. These four trees appear elsewhere in the Bible. If we are diligent in picking them out, we will better understand the passage in Judges as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The fig tree first shows up in Scripture in Genesis 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.” Instead of Adam and Eve letting God clothe them with animal skins (verse 21), they clothed themselves with itchy fig leaves. The fig tree in the Bible is a picture of religion, man’s futile attempt to “cover up” his naked (sinful) spiritual body, going about to establish his own righteousness instead of submitting to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3).

Genesis chapter 3, albeit indirectly, mentions the bramble (a prickly shrub). Scripture does not speak of these thorns until the Fall of man and the Curse of sin on creation: “[17] And unto Adam he [the LORD God] said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; [18] Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;….” The bramble is connected to sin, a departure from the one true God and His doctrine; that is, the bramble tree symbolizes apostasy.

We find the following in 1 Kings chapter 6 as concerning the olive tree: “[31] And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree: the lintel and side posts were a fifth part of the wall. [32] The two doors also were of olive tree; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubims, and upon the palm trees. [33] So also made he for the door of the temple posts of olive tree, a fourth part of the wall.” King Solomon used olive wood to fashion the doors and doorway of the oracle of the Jerusalem Temple. God’s presence—the Shekinah glory—dwelt in that innermost room. Olive wood thus typifies spiritual life, access to the one true God.

The vine tree* is found in Psalm 80:8: “Thou [Almighty God] hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.” Surely, this “vine” is the nation Israel. Read Isaiah 5:1-7, and especially note verse 7: “For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” The vine tree is typical of Israel as a national entity. Of course, Israel corrupted herself with Satan worship (idols, false religion), so Jesus Christ said the nation Israel that God wanted must have a personal relationship with Him (Christ). Christ declared, “I am the true vine…. I am the vine, ye are the branches…” (John 15:1,5). Only Israel in the Lord will be accepted of God (Isaiah 45:17,21-25).

(*NOTE: Someone may inquire if it is “natural” for us to say “vine tree.” After all, is the vine really a tree? The title, although awkward to us, is appropriate because a vine has branches like a tree. Our King James Bible thrice uses the term “vine tree” [Numbers 6:4; Ezekiel 15:2,6]. We are thus not in error concerning the term. On the authority of Scripture, we can rightly call the vine a “tree.”)

In summary, we have four trees—fig tree, bramble tree, vine tree, and olive tree. What was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? There were many trees in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9,16; Genesis 3:2,8) but the Scriptures outright name two of them. One is, of course, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9,17). The other is “the tree of life” (Genesis 2:9; Genesis 3:22,24). Read Genesis 2:9 to recapitulate: “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

Using the process of elimination, the forbidden tree was not the fig tree, for the fig tree does not appear by name until after the Fall (when Adam and Eve covered their bare bodies). It was not the bramble tree either, since thorns and thistles were the result of the Fall (God’s curse on creation). Therefore, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was either the vine tree or the olive tree. If we keep studying Scripture, we can narrow it down even further—right down to one!

As we saw earlier, the olive tree was used to make the doors to the Most Holy place in Solomon’s Temple. Olive wood symbolizes access to God, spiritual life. This would therefore suggest—to this author anyway—that the tree of life was an olive tree. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil would have to be the remaining tree—the vine tree. If the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were a vine, then the forbidden fruit would have been (not an apple but) a… GRAPE!

SUPPLEMENTAL: THE “SERPENT-SEED” DOCTRINE

There is a rather absurd claim that sex with Satan was the “forbidden fruit.” If ever you have heard of prostitution as being “the world’s oldest profession,” you have heard an offshoot of this heresy. It is said that, in prohibiting Eve from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God was actually telling her (euphemistically), “Do not have sexual relations with Satan!” This is all borne out of a twisting of Eve’s words in Genesis 3:2-3.

“And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” True, Scripture can use the word “touch” to euphemistically indicate a sexual connection (see Genesis 20:6, Leviticus 15:19, Proverbs 6:29, 1 Corinthians 7:1, for example). However, it is downright preposterous to suggest God forbade Eve to commit a sexual act with Satan. By the same token, God would actually be telling Adam not to have sex with Satan either (Genesis 2:16-17)!

As a further nonsensical departure from the plain and simple truths of Scripture, such adherents say Cain was the result of the sexual act between Eve and Satan (1 John 3:12 being their proof text). This ridiculous idea is not worth our time, and it should be outright rejected as nothing but vain speculations of the natural man!

Also see:
» Can you explain “knowing” good and evil with respect to the Garden of Eden?
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» Could you explain 1 Timothy 2:15?