Does Mark 7:16 belong in the Bible?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Textual critics question the authenticity of Mark 7:16, which reads: “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” Allegedly, this verse is not inspired of God. It is argued the verse is a copyist error, a duplication of either Mark 4:19 or Mark 4:23. The modern Greek New Testament on which modern English versions are based, eliminates the verse entirely. Modern English versions thus either bracket off the verse as doubtful, or totally omit it. Our King James Bible and its underlying Greek Textus Receptus contain the verse. Does it belong or not? Was “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear” in the original autograph of Mark?

Read Mark 7:14-23: “[14] And when he [Jesus] had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: [15] There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. [16] If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. [17] And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. [18] And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; [19] Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? [20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (cf. Matthew 15:10-20).

Jesus’ disciples want to know the meaning of this “parable” (verse 17). They assume He was speaking figuratively. Yet, as His response implies, they are mistaken in seeing this as a parable (metaphorical). He claims they are without comprehension (verse 18). That is, they should have taken Him literally. What made them conclude this was a parable? Why, verse 16, of course! “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” That expression hearkens back to the parables of Mark chapter 4 (verses 9 and 23; cf. Matthew 13:9,43; Luke 8:8). Jesus used the phrase in conjunction with parables, which is why the disciples concluded Mark 7:14-15 was a parable. In other words, if Mark 7:16 is removed, that means Jesus never said it here, and if He never said it here, there would be no reason for their bewilderment in verse 17.

Verse 17 assumes verse 16 belongs. Is Mark 7:14-15 a parable? No. Yet, if verse 16 is omitted, there is no reason for the disciples to ask whether or not it was (verse 17). Like parables, verses 14-15 were difficult to understand in the minds of those who believed not. Similarly, verse 16 troubles those who believe not—even now!

Also see:
» What is the “evil eye” of Mark 7:22?
» What is “lasciviousness?”
» Who were the “scribes?”

What is “lasciviousness?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

The King James Bible uses the word only six times.

  • Mark 7:22: “Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:….”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:21: “And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.”
  • Galatians 5:19: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,….”
  • Ephesians 4:19: “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
  • 1 Peter 4:3: “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:….”
  • Jude 4: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As these passages bear out, the term has a negative implication. Lasciviousness is a sin. In Greek, it is “aselgeia” (literally meaning “without continence; no restraint or self-control”). The English word actually came from the Latin “lascivia” (lustfulness). Our 1611 translators also rendered “aselgeia” as “wantonness” and “filthy.” “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying” (Romans 13:13). “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:…” (2 Peter 2:7).

For additional clarity, we will mention some synonyms—licentiousness, recklessness, shamelessness, to name a few. In certain contexts, lasciviousness has a sexual connotation (especially Romans 13:13, 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19, and 2 Peter 2:7). This is simply wild or unbridled activities. In fact, lasciviousness is one of the two extremes of the human sin nature; the other is asceticism. An individual engaged in lasciviousness is loose or uncontrollable with respect to human evil—thievery, gluttony, greediness, and so on. One who is engrossed in asceticism is bound in human good—strictness and religiosity (fasting, long prayers, almsgiving, rites, rituals, ceremonies, giving up all worldly pleasures, and so on). God wants neither human good nor human evil: both cannot substitute Jesus Christ’s righteousness.

Also see:
» What is the “evil eye” of Mark 7:22?
» What is “wantonness?”
» What does “concupiscence” mean?
» What is “chambering?”

What is the “evil eye” of Mark 7:22?


by Shawn Brasseaux

In Mark 7:20-23, we find the Lord Jesus listing 13 specific sins that originate from the human heart. One is “an evil eye.” To what is this a reference?

“[20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Of course, the eye is our organ of sight. Thus, just by using this clue, we see (pun not intended!) “an evil eye” involves seeing something. Now, please understand, the eye in and of itself is not evil; Scripture implies the eye is being used to commit evil.

An “evil eye” appears two other times in the King James Bible. Proverbs 28:22 is one such occurrence: “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.” An “evil eye” is connected to wealth or materialism, a speedy endeavor to gain a fortune. This is nothing more than a gambler or lottery player.

The “evil eye” is also seen in Proverbs 23:6. Read it in context now: “[1] When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: [2] And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. [3] Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat. [4] Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. [5] Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. [6] Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: [7] For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”

As we can discern from the context, again, the “evil eye” is associated with affluence or material prosperity. In short, “evil eye” is a euphemism for envy—seeing what advantages or possessions others have, and longing for them. It is an obsession with wealth, to the point of competing so you can equal or outdo others. The attitude could be summarized as, “I see how much wealth you have, and I can gain that and more! I see how much you spent, and I can spend that and more! I see how much popularity you have, and I can become as famous than you and more!”

Also see:
» What is “lasciviousness?”
» What does “concupiscence” mean?
» What is “purloining?”

Who were the “scribes?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Anyone familiar with the Scriptures has heard of the characters known as the “scribes.” Exactly who were they? Why do they appear in the Bible?


As their title implies, scribes were literate men—able to read and write. They were copyists of the Old Testament Scriptures in the nation Israel. Also, they were teachers of the same. Scribes were of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe.

“And Shemaiah the son of Nethaneel the scribe, one of the Levites, wrote them before the king, and the princes, and Zadok the priest, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and before the chief of the fathers of the priests and Levites: one principal household being taken for Eleazar, and one taken for Ithamar” (1 Chronicles 24:6). “Also they were over the bearers of burdens, and were overseers of all that wrought the work in any manner of service: and of the Levites there were scribes, and officers, and porters” (2 Chronicles 34:13). Shaphan the Scribe appears in this chapter.

Living circa 500 B.C., Ezra was another Levitical priest and scribe. These verses from Ezra chapter 7 describe his job: “[6] This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him…. [11] Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel. [12] Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time…. [21] And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,….” Ezra faithfully copied the words of God, and was influential in getting the Old Testament Scriptures to us to read even now!

Ezra also taught the Hebrew Old Testament, as we see in Nehemiah chapter 8: “[1] And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel…. [4] And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam…. [9] And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law…. [13] And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law” (cf. Nehemiah 12:26,36).

Baruch was the Prophet Jeremiah’s scribe, writing the words of the LORD as He spoke through Jeremiah. See Jeremiah chapter 36. Another scribe, Elishama, is mentioned here as well. Verse 4: “Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.”

Around 600 B.C., Israel really did not care to read the scribes’ work, the Hebrew Bible. “How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain” (Jeremiah 8:8) By the time of Christ’s arrival, even the scribes were in unbelief… some of Jesus’ greatest critics. They knew the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah, including His birthplace (Bethlehem of Judaea), but they did not visit Him when He was born (Matthew 2:4-6). Possessing the Word of God, and yet not believing it, profited them nothing (Hebrews 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Jesus paired the scribes with the Pharisees—self-righteous, conceited people who were not right in God’s sight (Matthew 5:20). Both scribes and Pharisees considered others to be “sinners,” but they viewed themselves as sinless (Luke 5:29-32; Luke 15:1-10).  Jesus said of scribes in Luke 11:44: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.” They were hypocrites—appearing to good and righteous, but really as defiled and disgusting as corpses! “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation” (Luke 20:46-47).

When teaching their Jewish people the Old Testament Scriptures, the scribes relied on others’ interpretations of the Bible. However, Jesus was His own authority, never quoting rabbis, which impressed the crowds (Matthew 7:28-29). Some of the scribes manifested themselves as unbelievers in that they accused Jesus of blasphemy when He forgave a man of his sins (Matthew 9:3; Luke 5:21). Like the Pharisees, scribes were strict Sabbath observers. They watched Jesus closely to see if He would heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath—a violation of rabbinical tradition (Luke 6:6-11). Right here, they are “filled with madness [insanity]; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.” The scribes will reject Him to the point of His death (Luke 9:22).

In Luke 11:53-54, the scribes partnered with the Pharisees to try to cause Jesus to stumble in His words: “And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.” Some scribes and Pharisees even took an adulteress and brought her before Jesus for condemnation—another unsuccessful attempt to embarrass Him (John 8:1-11).

“And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And they could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him” (Luke 19:47-48). The scribes united with the chief priests and deliberately challenged Jesus’ authority in Luke 20:1-8. “And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them” (Luke 20:19). Also, Luke 22:2: “And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.” The scribes assembled with Israel’s other religious leaders in trying and condemning Christ (Luke 22:66-71). During His Gentile trial before King Herod Antipas: “And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him [Jesus]” (Luke 23:10).

The scribes gathered with Israel’s other religious leaders in opposing the Apostles in early Acts (chapter 4, verses 1-22). Scribes were some of those who were convinced to be antagonistic against Stephen, the Holy Spirit’s preacher to Israel at the time of Acts chapters 6 and 7 (cf. Acts 6:12). A portion of the scribes of the Pharisees “somewhat” came to the Apostle Paul’s defense during his trial many years later (Acts 23:9). While not clear in Scripture, some scribes (likely few) seem to have some spiritual receptivity, though we cannot ascertain to what degree. See Matthew 8:19 and Luke 20:39.

In closing, the scribes copied and taught the Old Testament Scriptures in Israel. If anyone in the nation should have been familiar with the writings of the ancient Jewish prophets, these were the men. They were the educated, literate crowd—alas, they could not care less about God’s Word or God’s Son. A good many such “scholars” today exist in Christendom. They do not believe the Bible, and, using their vast influence, they encourage others not to believe it either. Remember, the scribes possessed and copied the Scripture… but did not actually trust the Scripture. Let us learn this lesson. It is not enough for us to have the Bible: we must also read, study, and (most importantly!) believe it in the heart!

Also see:
» Who are “lawyers” in Scripture?
» Who were the “Pharisees?”
» Who were the “Sadducees?”

Who were the “Sadducees?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Anyone familiar with the Scriptures has heard of the characters known as the “Sadducees.” Exactly who were they? Why do they appear in the Bible?


While the Pharisees numbered around 6,000, the Sadducees were an even smaller group during Christ’s earthly ministry. Sadducees were the second most influential group in Judaism (Jewish religion) in the nation Israel, but were equally corrupt. The origin of the name “Sadducee” is debated. It may be related to Zadok (Greek, “Sadok”), the priest who served under Kings David and Solomon (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 15:24-29; 1 Kings 1:32; 1 Kings 2:35). Sadducees disappeared in A.D. 70, the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, about four decades after Christ’s earthly ministry.

Now, we can move on to God’s Word.


The Sadducees—along with the Pharisees—are first found in God’s Word in Matthew 3:7. John the Baptist addresses them as “vipers,” for they resemble their spiritual father Satan (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2). According to the Bible study principle of “the law of first mention,” this first instance of the word sets the tone of the Scriptures as touching them. They are some of the bitterest opponents of the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s will for the nation Israel, especially in the Four Gospel Records (Matthew through John) and the Acts period.

Sadducees appear by name a mere 14 times in the King James Bible. However, many Jewish priests, including the high priest, were Sadducees. Thus, Scripture may indirectly refer to them when it mentions priests, chief priests, high priests, and so on. Sadducees were aristocratic, wealthy and exclusive. Hence, they are rarely seen mixing with the common Jewish people: this explains their few verses in Scripture. In contrast, the Pharisees involved men of all social statuses, as Pharisees engaged in proselytizing.

Jesus warned His disciples of the doctrine (teaching) of the Sadducees (verses 11-12). The Sadducees were noteworthy for two positions. Firstly, they did not believe in bodily resurrection (they were “sad, you see!” hahaha). Secondly, they did not believe in angels or spirits.

  • Matthew 22:23: “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,….”
  • Mark 12:18: “Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,….”
  • Luke 20:27: “Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,….”
  • Acts 4:1-2: “[1] And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, [2] Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”
  • Acts 23:8: “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.”

If you read Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, and Luke 20:27-38; you will see the Sadducees posing a complex and ridiculous question about resurrection so as to make Jesus look foolish. (They did not believe in resurrection, so they were not interested in learning the truth. It was nothing but a pointless argument to embarrass Christ. He answered them—and put them to silence!)

Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees rejected oral tradition, contending that the written Law of Moses (Scripture) alone was the source of Divine revelation. Sadducees accepted only Moses’ writings, however; Jesus skillfully used Moses to answer the “resurrection dilemma” they posed to Him. They were materialistic, far more involved in politics than religion. Yet, they agreed with the Pharisees challenging and murdering Jesus Christ, and opposing Him and His followers as much as possible. “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven” (Matthew 16:1). They persecuted the Little Flock of believers in Acts 4:1-3 because they preached Jesus’ resurrection. Notice Acts 5:17-18: “Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.”

In closing, the Sadducees are modern rationalists, skeptics, and liberals in that they outright questioned, denied, and refuted Bible truth. They do not believe in the supernatural, only the material or physical world.


How could the Sadducees not believe in resurrection, when their Old Testament clearly taught it (Exodus 3:6; Job 19:25-27; Daniel 12:2; et cetera)? How could they not believe in angels and spirits, when their Old Testament abounds with these creatures (Genesis 19:1,15; Genesis 32:1; Job 4:18; Psalm 68:17; et al.)(Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6,27; Deuteronomy 18:11; et al.)?

Remember, the Sadducees only accepted Moses’ five Books—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Now, why did they not listen to Moses concerning resurrection, spirits, and angels? The most likely answer is they developed their anti-spirit, anti-angel, and anti-resurrection attitude during the time between Malachi and John the Baptist. For 400 years—between the writing of Malachi and the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist—God was not speaking to Israel. The Jews had rejected His words for centuries, so now He was being quiet (Amos 8:11-12). He would send no angels or prophets to talk to them, perform no miracles in their midst, and so on. Once Malachi’s ministry terminated, Israel did not hear from God until John the Baptist four centuries later (cf. Malachi 4:5-6; Luke 1:13-17). That interim of God’s silence probably led to the surfacing of the Sadducees.

Also see:
» Who were the “Pharisees?”
» Who were the “scribes?”
» Who were the “Herodians?”

Who were the “Pharisees?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Anyone familiar with the Scriptures has heard of the characters known as the “Pharisees.” Exactly who were they? Why do they appear in the Bible?


The Pharisees numbered only about 6,000 during Christ’s earthly ministry. Although a relatively small sect of Judaism (Jewish religion), they were the most influential group in the nation Israel. The name “Pharisee” is from the Hebrew word “parash,” meaning “separated ones.” However, they preferred the title “chasidim,” or “pious ones.”

Josephus, the famed Jewish historian who lived A.D. 37–100, reports they arose in Israel during the 400-year-long intertestamental period (between the ministries of Malachi and John the Baptist), roughly 150 B.C. They were they successors of the Hasidim, religious Jews who allied with the Maccabees during the fight to be liberated from Syrian oppression (166–142 B.C.). Some sources claim the Pharisees first appeared during the reign of Jewish leader and high priest John Hyrcanus (ruled circa 135–105 B.C.).

Now, we can move on to God’s Word.


The Pharisees—along with the Sadducees—are first found in God’s Word in Matthew 3:7. John the Baptist addresses them as “vipers,” for they resemble their spiritual father Satan (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2). According to the Bible study principle of “the law of first mention,” this first instance of the word sets the tone of the Scriptures as touching them. They are some of the bitterest opponents of the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s will for the nation Israel, especially in the Four Gospel Records (Matthew through John) and the Acts period.

Pharisees appear by name nearly 100 times in the King James Bible. One particular fault of theirs is religious hypocrisy: they pretend to be God’s people and servants but are anything but. Jesus warned, “In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1). “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not (Matthew 23:1-3).

Saul of Tarsus, later the Apostle Paul, was a Pharisee. Alluding to his former life, he shares: “[All the Jews] Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee” (Acts 26:5). Pharisees were strict in their observance of religious rules and regulations, to the point they underscored outward performance (“going through the motions”) instead of inward faith (believing in and relying on God’s Word).

Pharisees refused to be water baptized of John the Baptist, demonstrating their unbelief, their rejection of Jesus as Messiah: “And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:29-30). The Pharisees asked silly questions to challenge John the Baptist in John 1:19-25. According to Luke 5:17-21, Pharisees doubted Jesus was God: they accused Him of blasphemy because He forgave sins. Pharisees were also known for their dedication to frequent fasting and prayers (Matthew 9:14; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:53). Some would pray for as long as three hours at a time—just for the public to notice and praise them!

In modern English, the adjective “Pharisaism” is applied to a self-righteous person. This is rooted in Scripture, as the Pharisees considered others as “sinners” but they themselves as sinless (Matthew 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32; Luke 7:36-43; Luke 15:1-2). It was feigned (pretend) righteousness—self-righteousness—and certainly not enough to please God (Matthew 5:20). They did not seem themselves in need of a Saviour, and they did not desire to have Jesus Christ reign over them as the rightful King of Israel. Hence, they rebelled against Him at every possible opportunity.

Jesus describes a Pharisee most graphically in Luke 18:9-14: “[9] And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: [10] Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. [11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. [12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. [13] And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

The Pharisees stressed outward performance, particularly washing hands to make them ceremonially clean according to rabbinical tradition (Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23). Ignoring their sin problem, they overlooked their need for internal cleansing. They took the Word of God—the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament, at the time—and set it aside so they could retain their religious tradition. Their authority was not the Scriptures alone, but rather the interpretations of men (oral tradition). The Lord Jesus Christ thus warned His disciples of the dangerous doctrine (teaching) of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6-11; Mark 8:15).

Pharisees were fanatics as touching the observance of other rabbinical traditions. For example, they complained when Jesus’ poverty-stricken, hungry disciples plucked corn (grain) to eat on the Sabbath Day. Oral tradition forbade such a practice, although the Word of God had taught them to be merciful (and not cold-hearted religious extremists)! See Matthew 12:2, Mark 2:24, and Luke 6:2. Regarding Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were outraged that He did not observe their rabbinical rule (Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11). According to Jewish religious tradition, no medical aid was to be rendered on the Sabbath unless it was a life-threatening condition.

The Pharisees operated with the desire to attract the attention and praise of others. Read this excerpt from Matthew chapter 23: “[4] For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. [5] But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, [6] And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,…. [13] But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. [14] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. [15] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

“[23] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. [24] Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. [25] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. [26] Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. [27] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. [28] Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Read all of Matthew chapter 23 in your own time. Also, see the companion passage, Luke chapter 11, verses 37-52.)

Matthew 9:34 shows us the Pharisees were bitter enemies of Jesus, falsely accusing Him with: “He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” That is, they publicly labeled Christ as a partner of Satan! It is no mystery why they wanted Jesus out of the way. He was “competition,” and they desired the attention for themselves. “And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples” (Luke 19:39). Read this context. They did not like Jesus being praised because the crowds were ignoring them!

The Pharisees frequently questioned—yes, opposed—Jesus. As touching the issue of divorce, for instance, they used a captious question to make Him look foolish (Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-9). Moreover, they mentioned numerous other topics, hoping to trip Him up in His words so He would discredit Himself (Luke 11:53-54). In Matthew 22:34-40, a Mosaic Law “scholar” of the Pharisees asks Jesus a trick question as concerning what is the great commandment. Pharisees constantly sought signs (miraculous demonstrations), outright ignoring the numerous others Jesus had already performed (Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11)! They were also materialistic, ridiculing Jesus after He spoke out against their greediness: “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him” (Luke 16:14).

While the Pharisees and Sadducees were diametrically opposed in doctrine (see our companion “Sadducees” study linked at the end of this article), they united with each other in their absolute hatred for the Lord Jesus Christ. In Matthew 16:1, both sects challenge Him to perform a special kind of miracle. He refused, for they were not willing to believe anyway.

The Pharisees despised Christ so much they actually conspired to put Him to death! “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him” (Matthew 12:14). “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him” (Mark 3:6). As we can see, the Pharisees also allied with the “Herodians” (a political group instead of a religious group—see our related study linked at the end of this article). Later, the Pharisees sent some of their students with the Herodians to ask Jesus a trick question regarding paying taxes to the Roman government (Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17).

Jesus was aware the Pharisees were scheming to put Him to death, and He informed them of it in a parable—which convicted and angered them (see Matthew 21:33-46). On another occasion, the Pharisees sent officers to arrest Jesus in the Temple, but failed (John 7:32-44). Later, in chapter 8 of John, they dare Jesus by bringing an adulteress to Him for her to be condemned. Also, He has some more harsh words for them throughout the rest of the chapter! They manifest their unbelief again in verse 13: “The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.”

In chapter 9 of John, Pharisees persecute the blind man whom Jesus just healed. They do not believe the man was actually cured of anything, and they refuse to believe on Christ too! When the Lord Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, the Pharisees respond by wanting to capture and kill Jesus once again (John 11:46-53,57). In chapter 12, we see more of the Pharisees’ complaints: “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.” Verses 42-43 now, and notice how they tyrannically suppress Jews in the synagogues from sharing their testimonies of faith in Jesus as Christ: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

The Pharisees assembled a mob to accompany Judas Iscariot at Christ’s arrest, as John 18:3 reveals. Even after His death, the Pharisees challenged Jesus in denying He would really rise from the dead. Joined with the chief priests, they called Him a “deceiver” (Matthew 27:62-63; cf. John 7:45-47).

As far as Scripture is concerned, some Pharisees became believers in Jesus Christ. One was named Nicodemus (John chapter 3; cf. John 7:47-50), and another was Joseph of Arimathaea (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51; John 19:38). As we mentioned near the beginning of this study, the Apostle Paul was a former Pharisee, trained under Gamaliel, a rabbi of the Pharisees (see Acts 26:5; Philippians 3:5; cf. Acts 5:34). However, it is unclear whether Gamaliel ever trusted Jesus Christ. Acts 15:5 speaks of some of “the sect of the Pharisees which believed.” Their names are not revealed though.

The Apostle Paul, in the late Acts period, stood on trial before Pharisees and Sadducees (Acts chapter 23). From verse 8, we learn the Pharisees believed in resurrection, angels, and spirits (the Sadducees did not). Verse 9 indicates some Pharisees were “scribes”—copyists and teachers of the Old Testament Scripture. (See our related “scribes” study linked at the end of this article.)

In closing, there are many such “Pharisees” in Christendom today. They value oral tradition, so much so that they gave it equal authority to the Scriptures—and even discard Scripture for sake of keeping their tradition. Also, they place emphasis on meticulously observing religious rules and rituals as opposed to faith in God’s Word. In these two senses, they are the modern Roman Catholics. As formalism corrupted ancient Judaism, so it perverts the Church the Body of Christ today. Incidentally, modern Orthodox Judaism is based on the doctrines and rules of the ancient Pharisees.

Also see:
» Who were the “Sadducees?”
» Who were the “scribes?”
» Who were the “Herodians?”

What is a “fuller?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Fuller” is found five times in a King James Bible. We can use context clues to develop a sense of its definition.

  • 2 Kings 18:17: “And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field.”
  • Isaiah 7:3: “Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field;….”
  • Isaiah 36:2: “And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field.”
  • Malachi 3:2: “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:…”
  • Mark 9:3: “And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.”

Firstly, relying on Kings and Isaiah, we ascertain a “fuller” is connected to pools and conduits (channels of water). Secondly, Malachi speaks of a “fuller” using soap. Finally, in Mark, a “fuller” is said to whiten raiment (clothes). Could it be any more apparent? A “fuller” is simply one who “fulls”—that is, bleaches or cleanses—laundry.

In Bible times, clothes were washed by beating them with a bat, or stomping on them, in a tub of water. Various alkaline substances were used as a crude “detergent.” While soap may have been employed (Malachi), natron or salt was equally helpful here (see “nitre” in Proverbs 25:20 and Jeremiah 2:22). Cimolite, a white clay, or chalk were used as “bleach” or whitening agents. As in Kings and Isaiah, fullers worked in a “field” outside the city of Jerusalem. They needed large spaces to air or dry the laundered articles. Also, since their work involved pungent and unpleasant odors, they were situated away from populated areas.

As touching the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark), and Christ’s clothing “being exceeding white as snow,” this was far beyond the work of any human or earthly launderer. It was a display of God’s purity or righteousness, a glimpse of His stunning kingdom glory to be revealed in the Earth one day. Actually, Malachi likens the Lord Jesus to fullers’ soap, returning to wash away the filthiness of sin!

Also see:
» What is “nitre?”
» What is the “potter’s field?”
» What distance is “a stone’s cast?”

Are denominationalists deliberately lying?


by Shawn Brasseaux

One of the first questions that enters the mind of someone new to dispensational Bible study is, “Have denominationalists intentionally misled me?” Well, what about it? “For what saith the Scriptures?”


The prime example of someone in the Bible inadvertently teaching bad doctrine is Apollos. We find him at the close of Acts chapter 18: “[24] And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. [25] This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. [26] And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. [27] And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: [28] For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.”

Concentrate on verse 24 first. Apollos was “eloquent”—an articulate, persuasive, powerful speaker. He was also “mighty in the scriptures.” In other words, he was experienced in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Verse 25 describes him as “fervent in spirit” (passionate, zealous). “He spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord.” Apollos was hardworking, dedicated to the ministry, “boldly” speaking in the synagogue of Ephesus (verse 26). However, there was one major flaw: he was operating “knowing only the baptism of John” (verse 25). Unfortunately, Apollos was preaching a message that was over 20 years old—and had since been superseded with additional Divine revelation! John the Baptist’s ministry had already run its course, Christ Jesus had already conducted His earthly ministry and died and resurrected, the Holy Spirit had already come in Acts chapter 2, and Saul of Tarsus had already been saved and commissioned as the Apostle Paul in Acts chapter 9. Apollos needed to update his understanding! Watch how this played out.

Back at the beginning of chapter 18—prior to Apollos visiting Ephesus—the Apostle Paul had met a Jewish man (Aquila) and his wife (Priscilla). Read verses 1-3: “[1] After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; [2] And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome: ) and came unto them. [3] And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. [4] And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”

Aquila and Priscilla learned grace doctrine from Paul. Now, fast-forward to our first Bible passage. Upon hearing Apollos’ poor understanding of God’s dealings with man, Aquila and Priscilla teach him what Paul had shared with them earlier! “[26] And he [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. [27] And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: [28] For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.”

Having drastically improved his doctrine, Apollos takes that new spiritual insight out to the masses! Be sure to reread verses 27 and 28. In fact, after Paul visited and converted Corinth from paganism in chapter 18, Apollos entered Corinth and further instructed those saints in chapter 19 (verse 1). Thus, Apollos’ ministry appears several times in the Book of 1 Corinthians. As late as Titus 3:13, many years after Acts ended, Apollos is still a vital ministry coworker of Paul. See, Apollos simply needed to be taught a proper view of the Bible. Once saints informed him of sound Bible doctrine, he gladly passed it on to others. Apollos was not deliberate in his doctrinal errors.

This author can testify to the fact there are some sincere church leaders and members who desire to teach others the Holy Bible as best they can. While they do not “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), they are not consciously deceiving others with their false teaching. Like Apollos, they simply must be taught dispensational truths, and then they will joyfully communicate those verses to others. How does this author know such people exist even now? Long ago, he and his family were in the same position! He had trusted Jesus Christ alone as his personal Saviour, but spent the first 12 years of his Christian life confused, unable to understand and enjoy the Bible. Legalism—religious rules and regulations to be observed to merit God’s favor—dominated his thinking. In his ignorance, early in his ministry, he faithfully spread his denominational doctrine. However, when two faithful brothers in Christ introduced him to dispensational Bible study, he searched the Scriptures for himself and trusted them dispensationally. Even since, he has been growing in the Word of God’s Grace and teaching others that same doctrine. He simply needed to be taught: he was not intentionally misleading anyone. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.


Let us look now at people in Scripture who consciously deceive in the name of religion. The nation Israel had apostate religious leaders. They knew the truth but rebelled against it. See Matthew 28:11-15: “[11] Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. [12] And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, [13] Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. [14] And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. [15] So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”

Having learned of the guards what happened at Jesus’ tomb—the angel appearing, the stone being rolled back, the Lord Jesus’ body absent—the chief priests and elders of Israel conspired and offered those guards an enormous monetary bribe. The soldiers who had been stationed to protect the tomb from robbers were now urged to claim Jesus’ followers indeed had stolen the body! Just in case Pontius Pilate the Governor of Judaea threatened to take the lives of the irresponsible soldiers, Israel’s religious leaders promised to come to their defense with the same lie. According to them, Jesus’ “resurrection” was nothing more than a body-snatching, a corpse relocation! Even when they discovered the truth, Israel’s unbelieving leaders wanted nothing to do with it.

During his last decade-plus of grace ministry among denominationalists, this author has met equally dishonest people. They simply refuse to hear the Scriptures taught dispensationally. Outright rejecting right division, they continue in their denominational doctrine as if they had never heard the truth. For example, one of his former denominational pastors told him, “Do not tell my people they are not under the tithe. They do not give enough as it is!” In fact, frankly, this author has met teachers and preachers who already knew dispensational truth and had outright rejected it. To wit, before he even told them about sound Bible doctrine, they were already aware of it and had refused it previously. Such individuals are particularly spiritually dangerous.


It bears mentioning—and stressing—we should never look for ways to excuse false teaching and errant spiritual behavior. In order to defend favorite preachers and pet theological systems, some will attempt to lessen the severity of the situation. “Dr. So-and-So is not intentionally lying to anyone,” for example. While that may be true (only God ultimately knows!), that condition in no way diminishes the fact he or she is still lying. Almighty God does not allow for any falsehoods. Lies do not automatically become truth simply because the people telling the lies are sincere.

Let it also be clearly understood we do not endeavor to determine who is deliberately lying and who is inadvertently deceiving. All we need to realize is whether or not they are lying. We take their doctrine (teachings) and compare it to the Word of God rightly divided, especially Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. This is how we acquire the discernment to differentiate between truth and error in this the Dispensation of Grace. Please note these Scriptural admonitions, and how “sincerity” or “knowledge” or “kindness” are not licenses to continue sitting under false teachers and peddling their errors! We are to “avoid” them, “withdraw from” them, and “turn away from” them.

Romans 16:17-18: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

1 Timothy 6:3-5: “[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

2 Timothy 3:1-5: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Finally, 1 Corinthians 14:37-38: “[37] If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. [38] But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.(Verse 38 presupposes people who do not want to hear and acknowledge the Apostle Paul’s special ministry. Once they take that position, Scripture commands us to leave them alone in their spiritual darkness!)


Are denominational people deliberately misleading? Unfortunately, they sometimes are. However, others are unintentionally spreading lies, and simply have not been taught dispensational truth. They are merely repeating what they have heard others say. As Berean Bible students, we should make every effort to reach out to aid people in understanding and enjoying the Word of God rightly divided.

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

“But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:9-11). Yet, if they refuse to hear the second time around, leave them in their ignorance and move on to those who are interested!

Also see:
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”
» Are we merely interested in breaking up churches?

» Should we hate the denominationalists who misled us?
» Are we immune to heresy and apostasy?

» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?
» “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?”

What is a “charger?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

We are most familiar with the King James Bible’s term “charger” with reference to John the Baptist’s death. The word is found four times here:

  • Matthew 14:8: “And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.”
  • Matthew 14:11: “And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.”
  • Mark 6:25: “And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.”
  • Mark 6:28: “And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.”

If you read the context (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29), Herodias—the former sister-in-law and current wife of Herod Antipas—purposed to kill John the Baptist for disapproving of their incestuous marriage. Antipas intervened and merely imprisoned John. Nevertheless, Herodias devised a plan. She used her young daughter (likely a teenager) to promiscuously dance before Antipas, seduce him, and cleverly persuade him to execute John by decapitation.

Then, through her daughter, Herodias requested John’s head be brought in a “charger.” This word is derived from an old French term “chargier,” “to load.” In Greek, it is “pinax.” It was rendered “platter” in Luke 11:39: “And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.” A platter is simply a large flat dish; a charger is similar, and often used to serve meat. Yea, Herodias was quite a nasty, vengeful “woman!”

Also see:
» What is a “besom?”
» What is a “wen?”
» What is a “daysman?”

Are we immune to heresy and apostasy?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Absolutely not!

Once, this author was speaking with a dear brother in Christ who had left false religion and came to faith in the Gospel of Grace: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). For the last few years, the brother had been growing in the Word rightly divided. This author told him he would be praying for him, advising him that he would need to be vigilant not to fall back into his former denominational system and/or other false teaching. The brother replied, “You do not have to worry about me. I will not return to that!”

We would hope—oh, how we would so (!) hope (!)—we would never fall away from Jesus Christ. How we would pray—oh, how we would so (!) pray (!)—we never deny Him as our Saviour and Lord, returning to the evil world system out of which He has called us. We would want—oh, how we would so (!) want (!)—that it would never be said of us that we left the Apostle Paul’s doctrine in favor of works-religion!

In the decade-plus that this author has been in ministry, he has seen people come to faith in Christ and then return to the world as if nothing ever happened. They even become worse than they were before! He has witnessed individuals come to understand Paul’s ministry—and then return to their denominational system. They might have been saved for years or studied the Bible dispensationally for years, but they never continued with that sound doctrine. Unfortunately, some of these were even preachers and teachers! This is the sad tale of various people in Scripture as well.

For example, consider the well-known account of the Apostle Peter insisting that, although all the disciples would forsake Jesus, he would never do it. In fact, Jesus told him otherwise—but Peter argued and boasted that he would die before letting Jesus be executed! All the disciples agreed.

Read Matthew 26:31-35: “[31] Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. [32] But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. [33] Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. [34] Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. [35] Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. Now, turn to Mark 14:27-31: “[27] And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. [28] But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. [29] But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. [30] And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. [31] But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

Luke 22:31-34: “[31] And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: [32] But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. [33] And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. [34] And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.” The Bible reveals what ultimately happened concerning Christ’s arrest: “Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50). Exactly as the Lord Jesus foretold, the Apostle Peter denied Him not once or twice but thrice (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62)! It is a bitter reality that even saints are prone to sin and error. Scripture tells the truth—even about its heroes.

We go over to Galatians chapter 4: “[9] But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? [10] Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. [11] I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” Upon hearing and believing the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Galatians had left their pagan works-religion. What happened? False teachers had then entered their assemblies, and the Galatians now “desire again to be in bondage!” They had tossed aside God’s grace and returned to works-religion.

Let us turn back to chapter 1 of Galatians: “[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.” Again, in the case of the Galatians, these Christians allowed false teachers to move them from God’s grace and over to a performance-based acceptance system (works-religion).

First Corinthians 15:33-34 also reminds us that, if we associate with false teachers or fleshly (worldly) individuals, we too will repeat their errors: “[33] Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. [34] Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” This negative influence—pagan philosophy—was one reason why the Corinthian saints were so deceived and immature in their spiritual understanding. Instead of looking at the world through God’s eyes, they used man’s eyes.

We can reflect on Ephesians chapter 4: “[17] This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, [18] Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: [19] Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. [20] But ye have not so learned Christ;….” Paul’s very purpose in writing to the Ephesian saints was to exhort them not to duplicate the empty thought processes that their pagan neighbors entertained.

We members of the Church the Body of Christ face the same evil world system that deceived and ultimately misled the ancient nation Israel. First Corinthians 10:1-14 is a terrible reality. It was most unfortunate the Christians at Corinth were guilty of repeating Israel’s error of pagan idolatry:

“[1] Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; [2] And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; [3] And did all eat the same spiritual meat; [4] And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. [5] But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

“[6] Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. [7] Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. [8] Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. [9] Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. [10] Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

“[11] Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. [12] Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. [13] There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. [14] Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”

The operative statement is verse 12: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Let us never boast, “Yes, Israel forgot all the doctrine God taught her and the provisions He gave her, but I will never forget God’s Word and all that He has done for me!” Many Christians through the centuries have snubbed their nose at others’ sins, when they themselves were guilty of far worse. How often church members have bragged, “I love God so much, and I am so dedicated to His work!” This is most foolish, as they have been lulled into a false sense of security. It is these people—those focused on self, their feeble love for God instead of His infinite love for them—who will be the first to wind up vehemently turning away from Him in the future. Mark these words well… and never forget the Apostle Peter’s repeated “promise” that he broke thrice!

Paul’s final epistle, his second written communication to Timothy, contains two of the most tragic statements in all the Bible as touching apostasy. “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus” (2 Timothy 4:9-12). Nearly all the saints in “Asia”—that is, Asia Minor, modern Turkey—had left God’s message of grace through the Apostle Paul! The present evil world system (Galatians 1:4) had even captivated and distracted Demas, a once-dedicated ministry co-worker of Paul himself (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24)!

We will look at one final passage, chapter 4 of 1 Timothy: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; [3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. [4] For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: [5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” Be careful to note the implication in verse 1: “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils….” The only way for them to “depart from” sound Bible doctrine is if they first possessed it, or had awareness of it. In other words, they once knew the truth but subsequently abandoned it. This is the very definition of apostasy. By leaving the truth and embracing error, they created a heresyan offshoot idea and its resultant splinter group.


Indeed, no matter how long ago we trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, regardless of how often we have read the Bible, we are not immune to heresy or apostasy. Even in the physical world, a healthy body is subject to disease and weakness. This will not be totally avoided until we get to Heaven. Still, we need to renew our minds by engaging in personal Bible study on a daily basis: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We must remind ourselves of our identity in Jesus Christ. As members of the Church the Body of Christ, we are not the nation Israel. We are God’s heavenly people, not His earthly people. We do not need Israel’s Saturday Sabbath, Israel’s water baptism, Israel’s confession of sins, Israel’s tithing, Israel’s legalism, Israel’s spiritual gifts, Israel’s animal sacrifices, Israel’s prayer promises, and so on. Let us carefully consider and believe the Pauline Epistles, Romans through Philemon. Otherwise, we will go the way of Christendom—heresy and apostasy.

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Also see:
» Does doctrine really matter?
» Will God kill false teachers?
» What is the greatest threat facing the Grace Movement?
» What is the difference between apostasy and heresy?