Monthly Archives: March 2020

Why does the Bible say, “Have no other gods before Me?”

WHY DOES THE BIBLE SAY, “HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME?” ARE THERE OTHER GODS? I THOUGHT THERE WAS ONLY ONE GOD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The First Commandment, Exodus 20:3,: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (These “other gods” appear some 60 times in the King James Bible.) It is the adjective “other” that causes people to stumble. If Judaism and Christianity are both monotheistic—adherents worshipping and serving one God—then why would the Judeo-Christian Bible speak of “other gods?”

Simply put, sin causes counterfeit gods or usurpers to creation’s throne. These are those “gods” (lowercase “g” not capital “G!”). In this world, innumerable ideas and individuals are competing for the loyalty we owe to the Creator God alone. What we have to be most cautious about is ourselves—we want to worship and serve self, to be our own god, our own authority. That is what sin is. Romans 1:25 describes this as such: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” And, Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way….”

The “other gods” of which the Scriptures speak are idols that actually represent evil spirits (fallen angels). Gentiles, the nations, were given over to this heathenism back at the Tower of Babel (Genesis chapters 9–11, especially 11; cf. Romans 1:18-32). The evil spirits behind the idols rebelled against the Creator God when Lucifer (Satan) rebelled. They are connected to the heavenly bodies, which is why Deuteronomy 17:2-3 says to Israel: “[2] If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, [3] And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;….” Worshipping and serving the idols of wood or stone, or the heavenly bodies, is a form of aligning with the evil spirits that the idols and heavenly bodies represent. Hence, JEHOVAH God forbade the Israelites from engaging in the heathen religion of their Gentile neighbors. “Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;…” (Deuteronomy 6:14).

It is important to know that Satan himself heads the universe’s current rebellion against the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, Satan is rightfully called “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is ultimately he who is worshipped and served when the Creator God is neither worshipped nor served.

Also see:
» Why does God let Satan exist?
» Why are the heavens not clean in God’s sight?
» Where in the Bible did God give Satan domain over the Earth?

Is “corn” a mistake in the King James Bible?

IS “CORN” A MISTAKE IN THE KING JAMES BIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The word “corn” appears 100 times (nearly 90 verses) in the King James Bible. Critics are sorely displeased because these occurrences supposedly mislead readers into believing ancient Middle Easterners were familiar with our North American “maize.” Is that so? How daunting is our task in sorting out the confusion!

In North America (United States and Canada), when we say “corn,” we really mean maize. Centuries ago, when our European ancestors migrated here, they encountered this new crop (of Mexican/Spanish origin). They called it “Indian corn,” but the qualifier “Indian” was later dropped and the name “corn” remained. However, the original meaning of “corn”—as it still exists outside of North America—is general. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, “corn” is a broad term for the grain of any cereal (edible) crop. It could be corn kernels from the cob (our maize or “corn”)—but it can also be wheat, barley, and so on.

We are not to suppose our King James Bible translators were incompetent. They were not insinuating Middle Easterners of millennia ago knew of North American “maize.” It is not a mistake when the Authorized Version has “corn” to refer to a crop other than maize. Again, we must look at the matter from the British standpoint—the 1611 translators’ view—and not from our North American perspective. The context of the verse may identify the corn (grain), or it may not. However, the translators of the Authorized Version understood our maize was not in their work!

For example, notice how they handled the Greek word “kokkos:”

  • Matthew 13:31: “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain [kokkos] of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:….” Is that our maize? No, that is a mustard seed!
  • Matthew 17:20: “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain [kokkos] of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Again, is that our maize? No, that is a mustard seed!
  • Mark 4:31: “It is like a grain [kokkos] of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:….” Once more, is that our maize? No, that is a mustard seed!
  • Luke 13:19: “It is like a grain [kokkos] of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.” Is that our maize? No, that is a mustard seed!
  • Luke 17:6: “And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain [kokkos] of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” One last time, is that our maize? No, that is a mustard seed!
  • John 12:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn [kokkos] of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Certainly, they did not think this was maize—the verse itself indicates they knew they were dealing with “wheat!” The word “corn” is generic for any edible grain; “wheat” specifies what type of corn.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:37: “And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain [kokkos], it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:….” Again, the translators know they are dealing with crops other than our maize.

As another example, watch how they used the word “corn”—and we know it was generic here as well as opposed to maize. In fact, the term “corn” is now restricted to barley and wheat!

Ruth 1:22: “So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.”

Chapter 2: “[2] And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter…. [14] And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left…. [23] So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.”

Ruth 3:7: “And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.”

Again, there is no mistake in the King James Bible. What needs to be corrected is our understanding of our own language. “Corn,” in pure or older English—not (diluted) American English—is the grain of any cereal/edible crop. If we are “reading maize into these verses,” then we have the problem (not the King James Bible!).

Also see:
» Is the King James word “borrow” a mistranslation in Exodus 3:22?
» Is “excellent” a King James mistranslation in Philippians 1:10?
» Which belongs in Romans 8:16 and Romans 8:26 in the King James Bible—“the Spirit itself” or “the Spirit Himself?”

Feeding the 4,000 and feeding the 5,000—same or different?

FEEDING THE 4,000 AND FEEDING THE 5,000—SAME OR DIFFERENT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Anyone familiar with Scripture is aware of Christ Jesus miraculously feeding the multitudes. The Bible student will understand one passage where He feeds 5,000 and another passage where He feeds 4,000. Are these two historical events, or one historical event “edited” two distinct ways? In other words, was there a single multiplication of loaves—and the other passage to be simply discarded as a “confused duplicate?” Let us search the Scriptures!

Matthew 14:15-21 presents the feeding of the 5,000: “[15] And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. [16] But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. [17] And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. [18] He said, Bring them hither to me. [19] And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. [20] And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. [21] And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.” (Parallel passages are Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, and John 6:5-15.)

Matthew 15:32-39 features the feeding of the 4,000: “[32] Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. [33] And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? [34] And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. [35] And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. [36] And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. [37] And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. [38] And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. [39] And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.” (Parallel passage is Mark 8:1-10.)

It is rather awkward to deduce that this is one miracle presented from two different perspectives. A careful comparison will yield the following seven realizations, ranked according to their weightiness:

  1. THE GOSPEL RECORDS THEMSELVES. If the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 and the miraculous feeding of the 4,000 were found in only one Gospel Record (Matthew, or Mark, or Luke, or John), then it would be easy for critics to dismiss it as the writer being mistaken. However, the feeding of the 5,000 is recorded in all four Books whereas the feeding of the 4,000 is found in two Books (Matthew and Mark). It is quite difficult to conclude these are two views of the same miracle.
  2. DIFFERENT CROWD SIZES. Obviously, one miracle involved approximately 5,000 men (Matthew 14:21; Mark 6:44; Luke 9:14; John 6:10) but the other miracle concerned about 4,000 men (Matthew 15:38; Mark 8:9)— women and children excluded from the numbering.
  3. DIFFERENT LOCATIONS. The 5,000 sits in a Jewish environment (outside Bethsaida; cf. Luke 9:10) while the 4,000 features a Gentile setting (borders of Decapolis; cf. Mark 7:31). Bethsaida is the northernmost tip of the Sea of Galilee whereas Decapolis is at the southern end!
  4. DIFFERENT NUMBERS OF LOAVES. The 5,000 were fed using five loaves and two fishes (Matthew 14:17; Mark 6:38; Luke 9:16; John 6:9) but the 4,000 had “seven loaves and a few little fishes” (Matthew 15:34; Mark 8:5-7).
  5. DIFFERENT QUANTITIES OF LEFTOVERS. Twelve baskets remained after the 5,000 were fed (Matthew 14:20; Mark 6:43; Luke 9:17; John 6:13) but only seven baskets were left after the 4,000 ate (Matthew 15:37; Mark 8:8).
  6. DIFFERENT GREEK WORDS FOR “BASKETS.” The “baskets” concerning the 5,000 are “kophinous” (hand-baskets) while those related to the 4,000 are “spuridas” (large baskets)—see item #7 below for more info. That latter or “spuridi” basket was large enough to hold a person such as the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:25). Such precise words are another indication that the Holy Spirit would have us see them as distinct events.
  7. JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF VIEWED THEM AS DIFFERENT INCIDENTS. Matthew 16:9-10 is the most compelling piece of evidence to prove that the feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000 were two separate historical events as opposed to one historical event viewed from two angles. “Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets [kophinous] ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets [spuridas] ye took up?”

If we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe, we will understand there are simply too many differences between these accounts to make them one miraculous event. Additionally, if we understand them dispensationally, they must be distinct occasions. As noted earlier, the 5,000 has a Jewish context (chapter 14) while the 4,000 has a Gentile tone (chapter 15). Both Israel and the nations are to be blessed in the Millennium—God’s salvation passing through the Jews and down to the world. There is enough for Israel to be fed spiritually, and then enough for the nations to be fed spiritually. Reducing the feeding of the multitudes to a single event destroys the antitype (forcing the passages to become discordant with prophecy).

Also see:
» Do Matthew 9:18, Mark 5:23, and Luke 8:42 contradict?
» Do Matthew 17:1, Mark 9:2, and Luke 9:28 contradict?
» Do Matthew 17:15, Mark 9:17-18, and Luke 9:39 contradict?

Was Jesus’ last name “Christ?”

WAS JESUS’ LAST NAME “CHRIST?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

No. “Christ” was not Jesus’ last name but rather an office He holds (see #6 in the ensuing list). He is Father God’s “Anointed” (Hebrew, “Mashiyach;” Aramaic, “Messiah;” Greek, “Christos;” English, “Christ”)—see Psalm 2:2, Acts 4:26, and John 1:41. The idea here is being ordained to serve in a specific capacity. Jewish kings, priests, and prophets were “anointed” (smeared, dabbed) with olive oil before they were allowed to discharge the duties of their respective offices (Exodus 29:7; 1 Samuel 16:13; 1 Kings 19:16; et cetera). Likewise, Father God poured out the Holy Spirit on the Lord Jesus at His water baptism, “anointing” Him to serve as Prophet, Priest, and King (see Matthew 3:16-17; Acts 10:38; Hebrews 1:8-9; Psalm 45:6-7; Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27).

Considering the cultures and times of Bible characters, they do not have “last names” as we do. So as to distinguish individuals who had a common first name, various qualifiers were affixed (although there are some exceptions, and these make it impossible to separate people). This too makes a fascinating study, as we will see now.

  1. The father’s name or mother’s name was attached to their own name. We can think of “James and John the sons of Zebedee” (Luke 5:10), “Gomer the daughter of Diblaim” (Hosea 1:3), “Joshua the son of Nun” (Joshua 1:1), “Hosea the son of Beeri” (Hosea 1:1), “Adonijah the son of Haggith” (1 Kings 1:11), “Anna… the daughter of Phanuel” (Luke 2:36), “James the son of Alphaeus” (Mark 3:18), and so on. This was especially useful if a man had several wives; his children could be differentiated by their mother’s name. Also, if you noticed, there were two Apostles named James—one was the son of Zebedee and the other was the son of Alphaeus.
  2. Their wife’s name or husband’s name was added to their own name. “Mary the wife of Cleophas” (John 19:25), “Joseph the husband of Mary” (Matthew 1:16), “Deborah… the wife of Lapidoth” (Judges 4:17), “Abigail the wife of Nabal” (1 Samuel 30:5), and so on, fall in this nomenclature group.
  3. Their child’s name was incorporated into their own name. Examples include: “Mary the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14), “Mary the mother of John” (Acts 12:12), “Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses” (Mark 15:40), “Bathsheba the mother of Solomon” (1 Kings 1:11), “Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor” (Joshua 24:2), “Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah” (2 Kings 11:1), “Machir the father of Gilead” (1 Chronicles 2:21), and so on. For example, this is helpful in distinguishing the various women in the New Testament that are known by the name Mary.
  4. Their birthplace, hometown, or current city was part of their name. Think of “Saul of Tarsus” (Acts 9:11), “Mary Magdalene” (from Magdala, northern Israel; Matthew 27:56), and “Jesus of Nazareth” (Mark 16:6). The Apostle “Simon the Canaanite” (from Cana, northern Israel; Matthew 10:4) is not to be confused with Simon Peter the Apostle, or Simon the sorcerer of Acts chapter 8. Note there were two Apostles named “Simon.” Furthermore, the Apostle “Judas Iscariot” (“Iscariot” meaning “man from Kerioth,” southern Israel; Mark 3:19) is not the same as the Apostle “Judas the brother of James” (Acts 1:13).
  5. Their brother’s name or sister’s name was part of their own name. “Nahor, Abraham’s brother” (Genesis 24:15), “Laban… the brother of Rebekah” (Genesis 28:5), “James the brother of John” (Acts 12:2), “Shem… the brother of Japheth” (Genesis 10:21), “James the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19), “Miriam… the sister of Aaron” (Exodus 15:20), and so on, are examples of this title.
  6. Their occupation or function was part of their name. “Simon a tanner” (Acts 10:32), “Chuza Herod’s steward” (Luke 8:3), “Cyrus king of Persia” (Ezra 1:3), “Matthew the publican [tax collector]” (Matthew 10:3), “Alexander the coppersmith” (2 Timothy 4:14), and “Erastus the chamberlain [treasurer] of the city” (Romans 16:23) are just a few instances.
  7. Their tribe or nationality was part of their name. “Ehu the son of Gera, a Benjamite” (Judges 3:15), “Hagar the Egyptian” (Genesis 21:9), “Anna… of the tribe of Aser” (Luke 2:36), “Ephron the Hittite” (Genesis 49:29), and “Laban the Syrian” (Genesis 31:20), and “Goliath the Gittite” (1 Chronicles 20:5) are some examples of this category.
  8. They occasionally had a second name or “nickname.” For example, “John Mark” (Acts 12:12) is to be distinguished from “John Baptist” (Matthew 14:8) and John the Apostle (Matthew 10:2). We cannot forget the Apostles “Simon Peter” and “Lebbaeus Thaddaeus” (Matthew 10:2-3). The man “Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus” (Acts 1:23) is not to be confused with other men named Joseph or Justus.

Also see:
» Who was the father of the Prophet Zechariah?
» Does Matthew 1:11 contain errors?
» Does Matthew 1:12 contain an error?
» Is the Bible wrong to call Nebuchadnezzar the “father” of Belshazzar?

How is Jesus Christ “Prophet, Priest, and King?”

HOW IS JESUS CHRIST “PROPHET, PRIEST, AND KING?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

You have probably heard the expression—“Jesus Christ is Prophet, Priest, and King.” Is there a biblical basis for this? If so, what is its importance?

Hundreds of Old Testament Messianic promises foretold God’s “Anointed” (Hebrew, “Mashiyach;” Aramaic, “Messiah;” Greek, “Christos;” English, “Christ”). This special Man—the God-Man—would function in three specific capacities or roles. He would occupy the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.

  • PROPHET/MESSENGER. Deuteronomy 18:15,18: “[15] The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee [Israel] a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;…. [18] I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him (cf. Acts 3:22-23).
  • PRIEST/MEDIATOR. Zechariah 6:12-13: “[12] And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: [13] Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”
  • KING/MONARCH. Second Samuel 7:13-14: “[13] He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. [14] I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:…” (cf. Hebrews 1:5).

According to Matthew chapter 12, Israel refused to have the Lord Jesus Christ serve them in all three offices.

  • PROPHET/MESSENGER. Matthew 12:41: “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas [Jonah the Prophet]; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” The Israelites believed they knew all there was to know about religious and spiritual matters, so Jesus’ preaching was of no importance to them. Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
  • PRIEST/MEDIATOR. Matthew 12:6: “But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.” The Israelites did not think they needed a Saviour, believing rather they could access God through their own merits. Romans 10:1-3: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
  • KING/MONARCH. Matthew 12:42: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” The Israelites were their own rulers, doing their own thing, throughly enjoying the path that they had chosen in life. Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

The Book of Hebrews applies all three offices to the Lord Jesus Christ. In spite of Israel’s rejection of Him, one day, He will still be Prophet, Priest, and King!

  • PROPHET/MESSENGER. Hebrews 1:1-2: “[1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, [2] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;….”
  • PRIEST/MEDIATOR. Hebrews 3:1: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;….”
  • KING/MONARCH. Hebrews 1:8-9: “[8] But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. [9] Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

SUPPLEMENTAL: KING DAVID, A THREE-FOLD TYPE OF CHRIST

Everyone familiar with the Bible understands David was king of Israel. Very few, however, realize he was also a prophet and a priest. David—as prophet, priest, and king—is a preview of the Lord Jesus Christ some 1,000 years in advance.

The ephod was a priestly garment that resembled a vest. Even though he was not a priest by blood (David was from the tribe of Judah and not the priestly tribe of Levi), David wore an ephod when praising the LORD. “And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod” (2 Samuel 6:14). “And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen” (1 Chronicles 15:27). David even offered animal sacrifices as a priest would. “And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel” (2 Samuel 24:24-25).

David, as the Holy Spirit moved him, wrote nearly half of the Book of Psalms. “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:1-2). He spoke for God, and is thus called a “prophet.” Acts 2:29-31: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”

By the way, when King Saul attempted to usurp the priest’s office by sacrificing a burnt offering, God took the kingdom from him and gave it to David (1 Samuel 13:8-14)!

Also see:
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?
» How is Jesus Christ the “firstborn” of every creature?
» How can Jesus Christ be a priest if He is of the non-priestly tribe of Judah?

Who was “Herod?”

WHO WAS “HEROD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

A benighted preacher once remarked, “That ‘Herod’ in the Bible certainly was an evil man!” Actually, however, several men bear this name in Scripture. “Herod” is not a first name but rather a designation—much like “Caesar,” “Pharaoh,” “President,” and so on. The word means “hero-like.” Unfortunately, one challenge to comprehending the Herodian dynasty is its innumerable cases of intermarriage. Extensive incest makes this family tree a nightmare to map! Nevertheless, by understanding these different Herods—and looking to secular history for supplementary information—we can better appreciate and date events in the New Testament Scriptures. (Please bear in mind these dates are approximate.)

HEROD THE GREAT (1st generation)

Herod the Great is the most infamous “Herod” because he was the slaughterer of Jesus’ young contemporaries in Bethlehem (Matthew chapter 2; cf. Luke 1:5). He married at least 10 women, fathering numerous sons—the other men bearing the name “Herod,” whom we will discuss shortly. Herod the Great is the second son of an Idumean* called Antipater. Julius Caesar appointed Antipater as procurator of Judaea in 41 B.C., and Herod the Great assumed power over Galilee shortly after. Roman politician Mark Antony eventually chose the Great to be tetrarch of Judaea, and later he became king of Judaea (where Matthew chapter 2 picks up).

(*NOTE: The Idumeans are Gentiles descended from Esau/Edom (Genesis 36:1), brother of the Jewish patriarch Jacob [Genesis 25:19-34]. In other words, the Herods are non-Jews ruling Israel during “the times of the Gentiles” [Luke 21:24]. God removed Israel’s political might in the Earth beginning with the Babylonian captivity circa 600 B.C, and Gentiles will reign over Israel until Christ’s Second Coming when He sits on David’s throne [Daniel chapter 2]. Although non-Jewish by blood, the Herods entertained some aspects of Judaism.)

In 20 B.C., some 16 years before Christ’s birth, Herod the Great began renovating the Jerusalem Temple (built 500 years earlier, in Zerubbabel’s lifetime). Construction continued well after his death—some 46 years total—according to John 2:20. The Great is recognized for erecting numerous monuments in the city, as well as putting some of his own sons to death! When Jesus was just a few years old, the Great died at age 70 from a horrific disease (cf. Matthew 2:19). Overall, he reigned 37 years.

HEROD ARCHELAUS (2nd generation)

Son of Herod the Great through wife Malthace, Archelaus served as governor of Judaea, Idumea, and Samaria from 4 B.C.–A.D. 6. He appears just once in Scripture, a single verse (Matthew 2:22). The Bible simply calls him “Archelaus.”

HEROD ANTIPAS (2nd generation)

Son of Herod the Great through wife Malthace, Antipas was the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C.–A.D. 39 (Calvary was circa A.D. 30). This Herod reigned during Christ’s earthly ministry (cf. Luke 3:1; Luke 13:31). He imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 3:19-20; Luke 9:7-9). Finally, Herod presided over Jesus’ trial at Pontius Pilate’s direction (Luke 23:7-12,15; Acts 4:27). His name appears briefly in Luke 8:3 and Acts 13:1.

HEROD PHILIP I (2nd generation)

Son of Herod the Great through wife Mariamne, he did not rule. Remaining a private citizen, he was Herodias’ uncle and first husband before she divorced him to marry another uncle, Herod Antipas (cf. Matthew 14:3; Mark 6:17). Herod Philip I died approximately A.D. 34, just a few years after Calvary.

HEROD PHILIP II (2nd generation)

Son of Herod the Great through wife Cleopatra, Philip II was tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis (cf. Luke 3:1). He reigned 4 B.C.–A.D. 34 (Calvary was circa A.D. 30). Herodias’ dancing daughter (see Philip I above) went on to marry him, her great-uncle!

HEROD AGRIPPA I (3rd generation)

Son of Aristobulus, nephew of Herod Antipas, and grandson of Herod the Great, he was king of Judaea from A.D. 37–44 (again, Calvary occurred circa A.D. 29). Agrippa I beheaded the Apostle James, imprisoned the Apostle Peter, and succumbed to a most horrific death after God struck him down for his blasphemy (Acts 12:1-24). Scripture knows him as simply “Herod.”

HEROD AGRIPPA II (4th generation)

Son of Agrippa I, great-nephew of Herod Antipas, and great-grandson of Herod the Great, he was the king of Judaea who presided over the Apostle Paul’s trial in Acts 25:13–26:32 (cf. Acts 23:35). The Bible calls him merely “Agrippa,” so do not confuse him with his father Agrippa I (above).

Also see:
» Who were the “Herodians?”
» Is “Divine right of kings” a Scriptural concept?
» Why did God let James die but deliver Peter?

How should we as Bible believers respond to the coronavirus?

HOW SHOULD WE AS BIBLE BELIEVERS RESPOND TO THE CORONAVIRUS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friends, since its discovery in Wuhan, China, late last year, we have heard more and more about the infectious respiratory disease known as the “coronavirus” (also called “COVID-19”). People are frightened, unsure of what to believe and how to react. What should we do as Bible-believing Christians? You will surely be surprised when you learn the answers God’s Word gives. In this study, you will encounter truths you have never heard before—and likely will never hear again. It is this author’s fervent hope and prayer that you will have a receptive heart. Let us search the Scriptures to see what Almighty God has to say!

I. THE (OBVIOUS) PHYSICAL THREAT

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website: “The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 2,200 people have contracted the coronavirus in the United States; involving 47 states plus the District of Columbia; resulting in 50 deaths thus far. WHO reports that 167,511 people in 129 countries have coronavirus. About 6,600 deaths have resulted globally. Over 86,000 cases are confirmed in China; nearly 3,400 have died thus far. New cases are arising every day in various regions. There is currently no known vaccine to prevent coronavirus and effective treatments are still being developed. All we can do is slow it down by practicing good hygiene. For more information, you can visit these websites: cdc.gov (United States) and who.int (world).

WHO has recently labeled the coronavirus a “pandemic,” a global threat. President Trump has now declared a “national emergency” for the indefinite future—freeing up federal government resources and delegating power to combat it. Countries are closing their borders, isolating their people with border closing, discouraging trips, and banning large gatherings. Tightening travel restrictions are being implemented and enforced everywhere. Consumers are frantically rushing to stores and buying out items. Proprietors are even price gouging, taking advantage of desperate customers. Schools are holding online classes instead of face-to-face meetings. Sporting events are canceled or postponed indefinitely. Even handshakes are being evaded!

World-renowned immunologist and virologist Dr. Anthony Fauci says the risk for young and healthy Americans contracting coronavirus “remains low.” High-risk individuals are the elderly and people with underlying or chronic health conditions. If you are sick, seek medical help. United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams adds, “98 to 99 percent of the people will recover.” He gives his “prescription” as follows: “Know your risk, understand your risk, understand your circumstances, and get the facts to protect yourself.”

Obviously, we should all continue washing our hands as often as we can, using hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. It would be best to avoid shaking hands (bump elbows instead, for example). Avoid any unnecessary travel, especially trips abroad. Sneeze and cough into your sleeves or disposable tissues; do not cough or sneeze into your hands!! Steer clear from large crowds and sick people—a practice called “social distancing.” Sick people should be quarantined. For the meantime, church leaders should resort to holding online services as opposed to physically meeting in buildings. Again, for additional guidance, visit these websites: cdc.gov (United States) and who.int (world). The Lord would expect us to use these common-sense practices to further reduce our risk.

In certain regions of the world, pandemonium and mayhem have resulted. Certainly, emotions are dominating and people are overacting. Being a presidential election year in the United States, individuals are exploiting this matter by “playing politics.” Blaming and attacking others will not solve the problem! The majority of the media here in the United States is unequivocally dishonest—and that is an indisputable fact. For several days now, this author has watched White House press conferences. While there are some upright journalists, they are few in number. Many are hostile and deliberately clueless to answers given over and over again; they are biased activists instead of neutral investigators. This author has no doubt many in the media are intentionally working to undermine and destroy this nation by promoting misinformation, and instilling fear and panic among its citizens. Certain cable “news” networks are laughable and thus not worth watching for even five seconds! Friends, you would do well to listen directly to health officials as opposed to politicians, “reporters,” and social-media gossipers who are seeking attention and creating division by disseminating “fake news.”

Even in Christendom, confusion and misunderstandings abound (like always!). In recent weeks, this author has read and heard about all kinds of nonsensical behaviors among professing Christians. Televangelists (charlatans!) are acting foolish in videos by selling supposed “coronavirus cures” at outrageous prices. Preachers are praying Psalm 91 over their audiences—asking God for angelic intervention and physical protection. In the United States, there was a recent “National Day of Prayer” where denominationalists, in their sincerity, voiced their pervasive Scriptural oddities. Being peddled is the ever-present slogan, “This is the sign of Jesus’ return! Look at Bible prophecy being fulfilled!” Of course, there is also the declaration, “God is using coronavirus to judge the world’s sin!” The very people who have the Word of God and should be generating light and peace—Christians—are often worsening the problem with their rank ignorance and unbelief.

Let us be abundantly clear. In this Bible study, we surely do not want to promote fearmongering and sensationalism (there is enough of that already). Yet, no matter who we are or where we live, we have made or will make significance life changes. These inconveniences will last for the next several weeks or few months—perhaps longer, depending our location in the world. We should take physical health precautions as already outlined. Never do we diminish this. Moreover, as Bible-believing Christians, we should look at this from a spiritual perspective and guard against threats to our spiritual health. That is our goal for the remainder of this study.

II. THE (INSIDIOUS) SPIRITUAL THREAT

Friends, how unfortunate it is that great confusion and misinformation result in times of disaster. Understandably, people are fearful—yea, even to the point of terror and paranoia. The Holy Bible can be a source of great comfort and enlightenment. However, Christians are usually just as baffled and misled as the general public. Why? They too have not actually listened to and believed the words of Scripture. Religious tradition, speculation, philosophy, and sentiment have been their guides. Thus, when we hear them and watch them respond to life’s situations, it is obvious they really have no idea what God is doing today or what He would have them do today either. Here, dear readers, is where we must exercise great caution. As serious as physical illnesses can be, none will ever compare to spiritual disease introduced by sin and false teaching.

Just as our outward man—the physical body—was formed to behave a certain way, so our inward man was created to function in a specific manner. A steady, nutritious diet results in a healthy physical body. Likewise, “junk food” is to be minimized in the spiritual world. Nevertheless, what is often passed off as “nutritious” spiritual food is nothing but trash! It seems good, it feels right, and it tastes good—but that false doctrine inflicts tremendous damage upon our soul and spirit. The pollution and destruction is not immediately noticed. In fact, it often goes unrealized until after physical death!

During this time of the coronavirus outbreak, we must guard against the plague of false teaching. As always, we remember the Holy Spirit’s instruction in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Physical illness is temporary, but spiritual destruction carries into eternity. As long as we handle the Bible dispensationally (Ephesians 3:2), understanding Paul is our Apostle or God’s spokesman to us (Romans 11:13), then we will be safe spiritually. If we do not handle God’s Word, God’s way, we will inflict great spiritual damage upon ourselves and our audience.

Here are seven major misconceptions currently circulating among Christian groups. These ideas are actually far more dangerous than the coronavirus itself and they should be avoided at all costs!

QUESTION #1: IS GOD USING THE CORONAVIRUS TO JUDGE THE WORLD FOR SIN?

A popular slogan during all times of trouble, “God is judging the world for sin,” is really legalistic. Indeed, Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28 contain God’s warnings to Israel concerning five stages of chastisements if they disobey His Covenant of Law. Crop failures, physical illnesses, wars, oppressive enemies, exile from the land, and so on, are just a few examples of these curses. Ignoring their dispensational contexts, people take these verses and feed them into our Dispensation of Grace. How careless they are!

Isaiah 59:1-2 is quoted to support the idea that suffering people are experiencing their trouble because God disfavors them: “[1] Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: [2] But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Again, the context is Israel as she experiences all five stages of chastisement previously mentioned (Leviticus chapter 26; Deuteronomy chapter 28). No nation today is being addressed here, for we are living in the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:2) and not the Dispensation of Law! Law and Grace cannot mix; the Book of Galatians could not be clearer. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). We are under a grace-based acceptance system (Calvary, Christ’s finished crosswork, giving us favor with God); we are not under a performance-based acceptance system (our “good” works giving us favor with God).

Whenever someone says, “God is judging this person, this nation, or the world today because of sin,” that individual seems to be voicing spiritual insight but is really doing nothing but advertising Bible ignorance. The most notable characteristics of our Dispensation of Grace are God’s “longsuffering,” “grace,” and “mercy.” He has been patient in dealing with sinful man, so He has not yet judged sinful man. Through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, God has reconciled the world unto Himself, not holding their sins against them: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God certainly is not judging the world for sin today. Through Calvary’s cross, any and every nation has equal and unrestricted access to the God of the Bible. He is not hiding His face from anyone (individual, nation, or world).

Grace (the Divine favor that sinful man does not deserve) and mercy (the Divine wrath that sinful man does deserve) are epitomized in the very Apostle to whom this dispensation has been entrusted. First Timothy chapter 1 says of Paul: “[13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

Paul wrote the above passage as the Holy Spirit guided him. Also known as Saul of Tarsus, he was the bitterest enemy of Christ in the nation Israel—really, the whole world. He blasphemed against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31-32), refusing to listen to the Spirit of God as He preached through the 12 Apostles during the early Acts period. Saul encouraged his nation to continue resisting the Lord Jesus. Once the Prophet Stephen addressed Israel and censured her for her persistent unbelief (Acts chapter 7), these religious leaders stoned him to death. Saul, the Jewish religious leader that he was, was among that murderous crowd and inciting that violence!

Start reading at Acts 7:51 and go through to verse 3 of chapter 8. Then, turn to Acts 9:4-5, Acts 22:4, Acts 26:9-11, and Galatians 1:13-14. Finally, go back to 1 Timothy 1:13. As the greatest persecutor of the Messianic Church, Saul of Tarsus deserved nothing but Divine wrath. The next stage in prophecy to follow Christ’s ascension was God’s judgment on Christ-rejecting Israel and the world (Acts 2:24-36; Acts 3:22-23; Acts 7:55-56; cf. Psalm 110:1). Even now, 20 centuries later, that wrath has not yet fallen. In Acts chapter 9, Saul of Tarsus rather received grace, mercy, and peace from the Lord. Saul was not consumed, and yet he was most deserving of it! First Timothy 1:16 again: “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Here is how our Dispensation of Grace began: God’s most vehement enemy joined His family by faith as opposed to remaining in unbelief and receiving that awful eternal judgment!

Go now to 2 Peter chapter 3, and read it, concentrating especially on verses 3-16. Scoffers are mocking and wondering when Christ will return to judge them for their unbelief (where Paul used to be!). The Apostle Peter’s inspired response is, “Paul’s ministry is underway, God’s longsuffering is operating, and it is not yet time to pour out wrath!” Anyone who is saved today by trusting Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), that person is saved following Saul’s “pattern” of salvation in Acts chapter 9 (cf. 1 Timothy 1:16). God’s enemies should be suffering His wrath this very moment, and yet, that wrath is delayed until our Dispensation of Grace runs its course. As long as the Church the Body of Christ is on planet Earth, the Dispensation of Grace is operating, so absolutely no Divine wrath will be seen. After the Body of Christ is caught up to Heaven at the Rapture, however, then prophecy will resume, and wrath will absolutely follow!

QUESTION #2: WILL GOD PROTECT US FROM THE CORONAVIRUS?

Some Christians have voiced they have no fear because God will keep them safe and prevent them from contracting the coronavirus. This may sound harsh, but it needs to be said: these are downright foolish comments. While it is biblical to claim physical healing (James 5:14-16, for example), there is absolutely nothing in Paul’s epistles to indicate we should claim physical healing or that we should expect no health problems.

Timothy suffered stomach issues and other “often” bodily illnesses. Was there a laying on of hands? (No!) An anointing of oil? (No!) Paul’s inspired recommendation was for him to use a little wine as medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). Paul himself, when writing his final epistle, remarked he had left Trophimus at Miletum “sick” (2 Timothy 4:20). This demonstrates that even the Apostle Paul no longer had the spiritual gift of healing. His “Acts” provoking ministry to Israel had ended (Romans 11:11-14). Paul himself actually suffered his own physical illnesses—near total blindness (Galatians 4:13-15; Galatians 6:11), among additional health issues (see 2 Corinthians 11:27 and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, for instance).

In light of 1 Timothy 5:23, God expects to follow the aforementioned health precautions concerning coronavirus. He has given us an immune system and medical knowledge and technology, so we should use them!

QUESTION #3: SHOULD WE ASK GOD TO STOP THE CORONAVIRUS?

Religious people far and wide have actually assembled to repeatedly ask Almighty God to stop the coronavirus from spreading. They are still begging Him to intervene and mitigate its effects and help us know how to treat the ill. Again, this is an utter failure to understand and complete disregard of what Scripture says about the Lord’s current dealings with man. Remember, it is not a question of whether or not God can stop the coronavirus. He can. The question is, What is God doing today? Consider these two verses.

Firstly, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). Secondly, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). As members of the Church the Body of Christ, having trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God has “sealed” us with and by His Holy Spirit. Our inner man is forever secure. We will never experience Hell and the second death in the Lake of Fire. However, we have never been promised physical protection. Again, remember Paul himself experienced personal threats, including physical illness, limitations, and deprivations (1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:22-27). Timothy had various chronic health problems (1 Timothy 5:23). These Christians were not immune from bodily suffering, and neither are we (see Romans 8:18-25)!!

Second Corinthians 12:7-10: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” In Christ, we have been given grace, a capacity to endure everything life throws at us—including physical illness and persecution!

Go now to Philippians chapter 4: “[11] Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. [12] I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. [13] I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Whether possessing much or having nothing, whether sick or healthy, we can endure “all things!” The Lord Jesus Christ promises us—not physical help—but spiritual help. He is working in our inner man as we walk by faith in these simple truths. Our circumstances do not have to destroy us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

“That he [Father God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-21). Here is what the Apostle Paul prayed for fellow Christians because this is what God is doing today in the Dispensation of Grace (cf. Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12). You may also see Romans 5:1-5.

Again, before we “name and claim” Israel’s verses, we need to understand the dispensational change that took place with Paul’s salvation. Read Romans 8:18-25 and 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8. These verses describe our physical body being vulnerable to disease, aging, and death. We read nothing about, “God will spare us from illness,” “Let us claim physical healing in Jesus’ name,” and so on. In fact, we read the opposite. At creation, God imparted an immune system to the first human body, and we have inherited it. He does not need to intervene and “cure” us, or stop any illness from reaching us. If our immune is still not strong enough, if we get sick and die, so what! We will receive new glorified bodies at our resurrection anyway!

At this point, someone would ask about the healing miracles in Scripture. We will answer that now. The physical healing program that operated during Christ’s earthly ministry is currently paused. God’s earthly kingdom—in which there is no physical sickness (Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35:4-6; Matthew 8:16-17; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 10:7-8; Mark 16:15-20; et cetera)—is delayed. Why? Because the wrath attached to that kingdom has also been delayed. The kingdom program—including the wrath—has been postponed so God can pour out grace and mercy on the entire world. Our ultimate healing as members of the Church the Body of Christ will come at the Rapture, when Christ returns to take us out of this present evil world, we receiving glorified and resurrected bodies that will never be subject to sin, decay, or death (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; cf. Romans 8:23-24; Ephesians 4:30).

QUESTION #4: SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” PSALM 91?

Certain people have presumptuously taken Psalm 91 and prayed over their congregations, their homes, and even their planet: “[1] He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. [2] I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. [3] Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. [4] He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. [5] Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; [6] Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday…. [9] Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; [10] There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. [11] For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. [12] They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

You can see why “coronavirus prayer warriors” like this passage. Notice the references to “noisome [serious] pestilence” (verse 3), “pestilence” (verse 6), and “plague” (verse 10). The “guardian angel” people “name and claim” this passage as well on the basis of verses 11-12. Interestingly, Psalm 91 was the very Scripture that Satan used against the Lord Jesus during His temptations (cf. Matthew 4:5-6; Luke 4:9-11)! Furthermore, it is significant that the Lord did not follow Psalm 91—even though it is Scripture. Satan had perverted it, misquoted it, and ripped it from its dispensational context. Psalm 91 is so heavily abused even today, as we can see throughout religious circles. Jesus knew it was a Second Coming passage, not a First Coming passage. It did not apply to His earthly ministry, and it does not apply to us either. Indeed, here is proof that we can quote the Bible and still be out of God’s will! Psalm 91 does not belong in our dispensation!

QUESTION #5: SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” 2 CHRONICLES 7:14?

Of course, we cannot forget 2 Chronicles 7:14, for it always appears in religious contexts when tragedy strikes: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Second Chronicles 20:9 is also being quoted concerning the coronavirus: “If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.” There are four problems with us quoting these passages as though they are spoken to and about us.

Firstly, no matter what you have heard, America is not God’s people. No nation on Earth today is God’s people—even Israel (Romans 11:11-15,25-32)! The Church the Body of Christ is God’s people. Secondly, the verses in 2 Chronicles concern Solomon’s Temple (“this house”) in Jerusalem. The Babylonians destroyed that Temple more than 2,500 years ago. Thirdly, the “land” being healed is the land of Canaan, the land of Israel, not North America! Lastly, this is Israel being cast out of that land because of her sin (breaking the Old Covenant with her pagan idolatry). In the centuries after King Solomon, the Babylonian and Assyrian Captivities scattered the Jewish people around the world. How irresponsible we are to ignore such facts, rip these verses from their context, and make them God’s words to us.

QUESTION #6: IS THE CORONAVIRUS ANOTHER “SIGN OF THE TIMES?”

“The coronavirus is one of the signs of the times, telling us that Jesus’ return is near….” Over the years, this ever-popular and nonsensical “Gentiles seeking signs” mentality has become banal. Bible skeptics have taken full advantage of silly Christians employing this statement ad nauseum. “So, we are still waiting for Jesus, are we?! How many signs will it take before He comes back?!” Here again is how our refusal to handle the Bible dispensationally has caused us to look idiotic and thus encourage people to scorn the Holy Scriptures.

Firstly, Gentiles should not be looking for signs; the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Secondly, Matthew chapter 24 in no way describes anything God is doing today. People are grabbing verse 7 and applying it to today, and this is dangerous: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” This concerns Israel’s prophetic program, the events (“signs,” indications) that speak of Christ’s Second Coming.

As Christians, we are not looking for the Second Coming—that is His wrath! We should be looking for His coming to take the Church the Body of Christ out of this present evil world (Titus 2:13). When our Apostle, Paul, wrote about events making the “last days,” he mentioned specific sins rather than specific signs (see 2 Timothy 3:1-5). Whatever Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter 24, it is unrelated to what Paul wrote about in 2 Timothy; otherwise, Paul would have quoted Jesus’ earthly ministry here. Two comings of Christ are in view here, and we should be mindful never to conflate the two!

QUESTION #7: SHOULD WE PRAY FOR GOD TO GIVE OUR LEADERS WISDOM?

Dear friends, the only way God imparts wisdom to people is when they open the Bible and read it (1 Corinthians chapter 2)! It is a common practice for people to ask God for wisdom but they never actually read His Word. This is dumb, and that is all there is to it. If we are not willing to take the time to flip through the pages of Scripture and read those verses, then we really have no interest in gaining God’s wisdom. God expects medical doctors to use their formal training to save lives (did they not go to medical school for a reason?). He also expects politicians to take Bible verses and implement them by using their legal training. When we start asking God to give governmental leaders and physicians wisdom to undertake challenges, we are making two mistakes. Firstly, we are really cheapening prayer for those in authority. Secondly, we are saying God speaks outside of the Bible (and this is where the cults insert their leaders’ “inspired” literature—the Book of Mormon, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, and so on).

Read 1 Timothy chapter 2: “[1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

What would God have us pray concerning our leaders? That they would gain His wisdom? No. The context is Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork! God’s primary concern is not that governmental leaders are making poor decisions; His chief concern is that they are lost and headed for Hell like civilians! Christians need to stop praying nonsense for leaders, and start praying like intelligent and Biblically-informed people. Governmental leaders are most useful to God once they are members of the Church the Body of Christ. God does not fill lost people with His Holy Spirit. After they trust the Gospel of Grace, then He can and will work in and through them to make wise decisions. God expects Christian doctors to take advantage of their training they have already been given; otherwise, we could all pray for “medical wisdom” and avoid taking college courses!

Here is the blunt reality. What we need to pray is that governmental leaders would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. What we need to pray is that doctors would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. What we need to pray is that sick people would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Praying with the long-term in mind—as opposed to the short-term—is mature Christian prayer.

III. CONCLUSION

As we can see, dear friends, the spiritual threat is far grimmer than the physical threat. Lies are circulating in the name of “Christian” teaching. Having the right doctrine—sound Bible doctrine, dispensational Bible study, in the soul—will bring us spiritual strength. “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure” (Isaiah 33:6). We need to be sure we are armed with facts and not superstitions and speculations!

We now summarize and conclude:

  1. Is God using the coronavirus to judge the world for sin? NO. Denominationalists are wrong (no surprise there!). God is not using the coronavirus to judge the world or any nation, including America. The very nature of the Dispensation of Grace is “grace and peace,” as opposed to “wrath and war.” God addressed the nations this way at the start of each and every Pauline Epistle, Romans through Philemon. His wrath will come on sinful man one day, but not until after our dispensation closes. In our dispensation, His attitude toward the world is “grace and peace.” The Apostle Paul’s very conversion in Acts chapter 9 is a testament to that fact.

 

  1. Will God protect us from the coronavirus? NO. God has not promised us immunity from physical threats or even guaranteed us physical healing. Many saints down through the ages have endured a variety of bodily illnesses and even succumbed to fatal diseases. Hence, we need to follow the health guidelines provided at the beginning of this study. God expects us to use common sense and practice good hygiene. We should listen to our local and national health professionals. If we do happen to contract the coronavirus and move on to Heaven, so what! We are “far better” off with Christ (Philippians 1:23)!

 

  1. Should we ask God to stop the coronavirus? NO. God will not stop the coronavirus because He is not intervening physically today. He is working internally, equipping us spiritually so that we grow stronger in Him and His Word to us, Paul’s Epistles (Romans through Philemon). He did not intervene to deliver Paul from his bodily afflictions, cure Timothy’s chronic illnesses, or heal Trophimus. The Holy Spirit ordered Timothy to use wine as medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). Likewise, God expects us to use our medical knowledge to develop a vaccine to minimize the impact of the coronavirus, how to lessen the risk of contracting it, and how to best treat those already infected with it. This is mature grace thinking—and a stark contrast to the Bible ignorance that so pervades the professing church! The sooner we move away from unrealistic expectations, the quicker we can become people of faith and hope instead of people of doubt and disappointment!

 

  1. Should we “name and claim” Psalm 91? NO. God will not send angels to protect us as per Psalm 91. He will not spare our house from succumbing to illness, coronavirus or any other disease. This heavily abused passage is what Satan attempted to use to distract Jesus Christ from His Heavenly Father’s will for Him. We would do well to keep Psalm 91 in its dispensational context, and not apply it to our dispensation. Nothing in Paul’s Epistles indicates angels protect us. Again, we are not guaranteed physical health until the Rapture, when these aging and weakening bodies are redeemed from sin. God cares for us, but spiritual health is His priority today!

 

  1. Should we “name and claim” 2 Chronicles 7:14? NO. This passage has a context. It involves the Mosaic Law, of which we are not a part (Romans 6:14). It involves Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed over 2,500 years ago. This is not America or any other nation today. Rather, it is ancient Israel being judged with courses of chastisement because of her persistent idolatry. The land is the land of Palestine, the land of Canaan, and not any other real estate.

 

  1. Is the coronavirus another “sign of the times?” NO. Despite what you have heard ad nauseum, the coronavirus is not a “sign of the times.” As non-Jews, we are not to be looking for signs anyway. There are no “signs” leading up to the close of our Dispensation of Grace. Matthew chapter 24 refers to Christ’s Second Coming some years after our Dispensation of Grace has ended. As opposed to looking for signs, we should consider the sins of 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

 

  1. Should we pray for God to give our leaders wisdom? NO. Apart from the already revealed will and mind of God as found in the Holy Bible, we will not hear from God again until He comes to remove the Body of Christ. Either the Bible is complete or it is not. If we want God’s wisdom, we need to read the Bible, especially Paul’s Epistles of Romans through Philemon (see Ephesians 3:4). Let us take time to understand how fragile this life is: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 5:14). Lastly, let us use this opportunity to reach as many people as we possibly can with the Gospel of the Grace of God. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Uncertain as to what to expect, they are most open to spiritual matters at this very moment. Be sure you give them the right information—sound Bible doctrine—and not the useless denominational doctrine we have just discredited. Stay safe and this author wishes you God’s best!

Also see:
» Should we pray for sick people?
» How should we pray for people enduring natural catastrophes and other tragedies?
» How do we have an “effectual” prayer life?

Is the Bible wrong to call Nebuchadnezzar the “father” of Belshazzar?

IS THE BIBLE WRONG TO CALL NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE “FATHER” OF BELSHAZZAR?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read the following verses from Daniel chapter 5 in the King James Bible:

“[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.
“[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;….”
“[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?”
“[18] O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:….”

Some people frown upon the King James Bible for referring to Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar as the “father” of King Belshazzar. After all, from history, we understand that Nebuchadnezzar was actually Belshazzar’s grandfather. Nabonidus, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, was Belshazzar’s father. Even so, Scripture is not in error. It is best for such critics to be quiet. To say the least, it is a fatuous argument!

Hebrew and Chaldee (Aramaic) have no word for “grandfather.” The only available term is “ab”—and it can function as “father” (close) or “grandfather” (more distant). In English, to reflect this, we can use “father” in a narrow or broader sense (think of America’s “Founding Fathers”). Here is the rationale that the King James translators used when carrying the word over into English. They were perfectly competent in selecting the right word here, and did not actually have to put “grandfather.”

Similarly, Luke 1:32 refers to King David as Jesus’ “father” (when he was really His great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather!). Those who carp about the Nebuchadnezzar/Belshazzar issue have no problem with Luke chapter 1!

Also see:
» Does Matthew 1:8-9 contain errors?
» Does Matthew 1:11 contain errors?
» Does Matthew 1:12 contain an error?

How can I most effectually deal with cultists who knock on my front door?

HOW CAN I MOST EFFECTUALLY DEAL WITH CULTISTS WHO KNOCK ON MY FRONT DOOR?

by Shawn Brasseaux

It is truly sad that the average Bible believer is too afraid to deal with the cultists who canvas neighborhoods, knock on doors, and distribute sectarian literature to unsuspecting and dazed citizens. Genuine Christians do not know how to respond to false doctrine, so they will outright refuse to deal with its peddlers. This author knows the routine; long ago, he faced the same dilemma. “I do not invite them into my house, and I do not talk with them, because 2 John forbids it!” Frankly, this is an excuse—nothing more. The believer declines because he knows he really has no firm grounding in the Scriptures to handle even minimal opposition! Here, in this study, we offer three simple tips to help overcome this formidable “barrier” and reach the denominational proselytizer.

Before we begin, let us provide a few quick remarks concerning the misunderstanding of 2 John 9-11: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” This has a context, and our Dispensation of Grace is not it. John is an apostle of Israel (Galatians 2:9), whereas the Apostle Paul is God’s apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:1-2). Furthermore, we do not appeal to John because he is writing of a time concerning the Antichrist and other antichrists, a period future from us (see 1 John 2:8; cf. 1 John 4:1-4). Our doctrine, duty, walk, and destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ are found in the Pauline Epistles, Romans through Philemon. Now, we begin!

A WORD OF CAUTION (MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL!)

When dealing with cultists, it is tempting to start by systematically targeting all their peculiar beliefs. Sometimes this approach is helpful—but only when the Bible believer is skilled enough in the cult’s teachings (rare) and proficient in the Scriptures (rarer!). Door-knocking cultists usually operate with an extremely strict, brainwashed mentality, so they will not sit silently as their most treasured ideas are discredited. In case you have not noticed, they will become increasingly agitated, defensive, and belligerent. By the time you have dismantled their system, they are too infuriated to hear and believe a clear Gospel message. Perhaps you are now too disgusted yourself to deal with them any further. What was accomplished? Just high blood pressure and spiritual destruction on both sides! Lost souls remain lost; Christians have lost their testimony and joy in witnessing. Friend, you want to expose them to as much profitable material as possible in as short a time as possible. It is not wise to start talking about just anything in Scripture. Try to adhere to the simple plan described in the ensuing paragraphs.

Again, every door-knocking proselytizer representing a denomination or group is extremely familiar with at least a few key Bible texts. Their group has trained them so they can especially deal with objections concerning their “pet verses,” increasing the likelihood of gaining new members. Here is why the Bible believer is fearful. “They know the Scripture better than I do, so I cannot possibly answer them!” Friend, listen, please pay attention here. Rather debating them regarding these passages—yes, very few Christians are strong enough in the Word to do that anyway—you want to make the most of your time and energy. Your goal is to make this time as instructive and edifying as possible for yourself and your listener. Maximize the amount of sound Bible doctrine you share, and this will minimize “the flesh.” Stick by the Word of God rightly divided, and you will be on safe ground because this is how the Holy Spirit works!

THE THREE-STEP APPROACH (MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL! MARK IT WELL!)

Years ago, this author devised the following direct method to be most useful in reaching cultists with the Gospel of Grace. Follow this simple, three-step technique and you will accomplish many vital objectives. It is important that you follow this outline because it is designed to hit the three major areas in “one shot.” The mature Bible student will take the applicable verses and craft a Gospel presentation suited for the particular convert. You, the soul winner, no matter the circumstances or personal backgrounds involved, have three responsibilities:

  1. Firstly, you need to precisely identify their false teaching. You should not misunderstand them, so you will let them speak on their group’s behalf. Once they have spoken to you, they cannot accuse you of misrepresenting them or charge you for not really knowing what they teach.
  2. Secondly, but most importantly, you need to give them the Gospel of Grace. The previous step was really a subtle gateway to this stage.
  3. Finally, you need to show them you are not interested in joining their group. As a Bible believer, you cannot fellowship with false doctrine and false teachers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 Timothy 6:3-6; 2 Timothy 3:1-9).

And, here is the challenge… all three steps should be achieved within 5 or 10 minutes! Let me show you how to do this, it becoming easier and easier as you practice and use it.

You should always be polite. Greet the door-knocker with a “Hello” and even a “How are you doing?,” but avoid endorsements and flatteries (“how dedicated you are to proselytize for your group!,” “you have traveled and covered all this area?!,” “I have heard of your group and what a nice church building you have!,” “look at all the people who have come with you!,” et cetera). Invite the denominational person into your house. At this point, be careful not to say, “I do not agree with you because you are a false teacher!” Remember, you have not heard them yet. If you judge their doctrine before letting them speak, then you will prove to them that Bible believers really are “narrow-minded” and “ignorant” of their group. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13). However, by allowing the denominationalist to share their information with you, you are setting a wise example. Unlike a blind sheep of religion, you show the dear soul that you use your brain and carefully consider anything and everything. Perhaps this person will follow you in that regard of not being so naïve.

STEP 1. Do not start sharing the Bible with them. Let the false teaching go first. Begin by asking them, “Could you summarize your Gospel message in one statement?” (If they fail to understand what you mean, restate your inquiry: “What good news do you bring here for me to believe? What is the primary message your group proclaims?” These are developments of one question.) Make sure you limit them to “one statement,” otherwise you will likely end up with a complex diatribe lasting several minutes. You should be listening for a message about Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary. Knowing the cults though, we can expect something else to take precedence. They will emphasize some strange doctrine, an experience, a ceremony, a ritual, et cetera.

STEP 2. Now that the denomination has spoken, the Bible will speak. If the person is carrying a Bible, ask them to turn to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. You should take your King James Bible and turn to it as well. (If they do not have a Bible, let them use yours.) Honestly, though, it is beneficial to let them read the Gospel in their own Bible, if possible. This way, they cannot dismiss you with, “Well, that is your version and not my denomination’s approved version!” Here is the Authorized Version: “[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:….” (Be careful to emphasize the word “Gospel” in verse 1, and the Gospel of Grace [Acts 20:24] itself in verses 3 and 4). If you want, you may turn to Acts 16:30-31 to summarize: “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

STEP 3. The Bible will continue speaking (and it will have the “last word”). Again, if the person has a Bible, ask them to turn to Galatians 1:6-10 now. You should take your King James Bible, too. Honestly, again, it is beneficial to let them read the Gospel in their own Bible. This way, they cannot complain, “Well, that is your version and not my denomination’s approved version!” Here is the Authorized Version: “[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. [10] For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” The word “accursed” means “cut off from fellowship.” Politely tell the proselytizer that you in faith cannot join their group because they do not have Paul’s Gospel as their primary message (resort back to their comments in #1 and the Gospel in #2). They cannot backtrack—their own lips have condemned themselves as not Christian vessels!

At this point, God’s Word has convicted the door-knocking proselytizer. They likely do not want to hear anything else from you—that is totally fine because you have gotten the most important Bible points across to them! If they desire to talk more, accept the offer, but make it clear to them that it will be civil discourse. Furthermore, explain that no matter what they say, you have already made your decision to believe those Bible verses and will not join their denomination. You should encourage them to trust those verses—the Gospel of Grace—without delay. Do not be surprised or discouraged if they remain in unbelief. You have no doubt grabbed their attention, and they have been exposed to sound Bible doctrine, so praise the Lord Jesus Christ! Whenever you prefer, realizing the time of deadlock has been reached, ask them to leave your house because you cannot endorse false doctrine (reemphasizing the three points). Be tactful not rude!

One more thing: you should have already accepted whatever free literature they offered you at the beginning of the meeting. Certainly do not believe their lies. Yet, by taking their brochure, tract, or booklet, you are ensuring one less soul is deceived. That is one less piece of denominational literature liable to fall into the hands of a poor, benighted soul. Study that information, and familiarize yourself with that group. You will be better equipped to reach those church members next time you meet them, and you will be able to authoritatively warn others about their dangerous doctrines. Arm yourself with this knowledge so you can know exactly what you are up against when you get into more detailed discussions with them on other occasions.

Also see:
» How do we identify false teachers?

» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» How long should I keep witnessing to the same person?
» Should we read denominational literature?
» Has God’s Word failed?
» “If any man be ignorant?”
» Must I witness to be saved?
» “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?”
» Are we merely interested in breaking up churches?
» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?
» If God knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why witness?
» Should the lack of worldwide revival in our dispensation discourage us from witnessing?
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”
» Can we witness “too much” to family members?
» What if someone asks me a Bible question I cannot answer?

Who are the “Scythians” and the “Barbarians?”

WHO ARE THE “SCYTHIANS” AND THE “BARBARIANS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The “Scythians” appear just once in the Bible, whereas the “Barbarians” are found six times. See for yourself:

  • Acts 28:2: “And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.”
  • Acts 28:4: “And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.”
  • Romans 1:14: “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
  • 1 Corinthians 14:11: “Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.”
  • Colossians 3:11: “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”

We will deal with the Barbarians (Greek, “Barbarois”) first. Romans 1:14 uses the term as opposite of the word “Greeks,” just as “wise” (educated) and “unwise” (uneducated) are antonymous. When penning the Book of Acts, Dr. Luke called the non-Greeks of Melita “barbarous people” and “barbarians” (Acts 28:2,4)—those of Melita were either Phoenician or Punic in origin. The Greeks (Greek, “Hellesin”) referred to non-Greeks as “Barbarians.” Lacking Greek speech and culture, Barbarians were viewed as uncivilized. To the Greek person, a foreigner’s language sounded like “bar-bar,” repetitious syllables or nonsense (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:11). Here is where the title “Barbarian” came from!

The term “Scythian” (Greek, “Skuthes”) appears in conjunction with the Barbarians (cf. Colossians 3:11). Scythians inhabited Scythia, today’s southern Russia, north of the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian Seas. While the Barbarians were considered wild, the Scythians were a special category of Barbarian—the worst of the worst! One commentator wrote of them: “the most hated and feared of all the so-called barbarians.” Another adds, “Scythians were known especially for their brutality and were considered by others as little better than wild beasts.”

Upon first glance, none of this seems like much to us. They are cultural terms applicable to ancient people, so how could understanding these appellations ever possibly enhance our Bible comprehension? Watch and see! Going all the way back to the Acts period, the Apostle Paul had an unrestricted ministry to Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), non-Jews being Greeks and non-Greeks alike (cf. Romans 1:14,16; cf. Acts 26:16-18). His Gospel message—the Gospel of God’s Grace—is that Christ “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time [Paul’s ministry; verse 7]” (1 Timothy 2:6). “All men” is the audience of Paul’s Gospel.

We would do well to re-read Colossians 3:11: “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” That is to say, in the Church the Body of Christ, God sees all Christians as equally blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3), all equally justified, equally redeemed, equally sanctified, equally forgiven, et cetera. Regardless of their religious background (Jew/Gentile, circumcision/uncircumcision), national background (Greek/Barbarian), economic/social background (bond/free—slave or freeman), or even gender (male/female—Galatians 3:28), they are all united forever because of their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.

It is absolutely amazing that Almighty God in His wisdom could take people from all backgrounds, let them believe on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, and bind them into one Body. People who would have never met otherwise, who would have never known each other any other way, and He uses them to form the Church the Body of Christ. As one people, they (and we) are heirs of God’s heavenly kingdom!

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» Are Galatians 3:28 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 contradictory?
» Who are the “Grecians” in the Bible?
» When Paul says “there is no difference,” is he referring to people outside the Body of Christ, or in it?