Monthly Archives: January 2021

Who were the “elders?”

WHO WERE THE “ELDERS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The “elders” were members of the Sanhedrin, or Jewish Supreme Court (see our related study linked at the end of this article). As their name implies, they were elderly men in leadership positions. They are important characters in Matthew through John, as well as Acts, since they were among the Lord Jesus’ enemies. The elders were influential in putting Christ to death, and harassing and persecuting His Apostles and other disciples. Remember, contrary to popular belief, old age does not necessarily imply wisdom! “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness(Proverbs 16:31).

THE ELDERS MISTREATED CHRIST (QUICK SUMMARY)

The “elders” were instrumental in arrogantly challenging, surreptitiously betraying, fraudulently trying, incorrectly accusing, mercilessly torturing, wrongly convicting, irreverently mocking, and brutally executing Jesus Christ!

  • Matthew 16:21: “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
  • Mark 8:31: “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
  • Luke 9:22: “Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.”

THE ELDERS CHALLENGED CHRIST’S AUTHORITY

  • Matthew 21:23: “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?”
  • Mark 11:27: “And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,….”
  • Luke 20:1: “And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,….”

THE ELDERS PLOTTED TO KILL CHRIST

  • Matthew 26:3-5: “Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

THE ELDERS ARRANGED AND PARTICIPATED IN CHRIST’S ARREST

  • Matthew 26:47: “And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.”
  • Matthew 27:3: “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,….”
  • Mark 14:43: “And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.”
  • Luke 22:52: “Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?”

THE ELDERS PRESIDED OVER CHRIST’S “TRIAL” (A SHAM, TO SAY THE LEAST!)

  • Matthew 26:3: “Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,….”
  • Matthew 26:57: “And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.”
  • Matthew 26:59: “Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;….”
  • Matthew 27:12: “And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.”
  • Mark 14:53: “And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.”
  • Mark 15:1: “And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.”

THE ELDERS PERSUADED MULTITUDE TO DEMAND CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION

  • Matthew 27:20: “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.”

THE ELDERS MOCKED CHRIST AS HE HUNG ON CALVARY’S CROSS

  • Matthew 27:41: “Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,….”

THE ELDERS BRIBED THE ROMAN SOLDIERS TO COVER UP CHRIST’S RESURRECTION

  • 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.”

THE ELDERS PERSECUTED THE 12 APOSTLES AND STEPHEN IN EARLY ACTS

  • Acts 4:5: “And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,….”
  • Acts 4:8: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,….”
  • Acts 4:23: “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.”
  • Acts 6:12: “And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him [Stephen], and caught him, and brought him to the council,….”

THE ELDERS SUPPORTED THE APOSTLE PAUL’S WRONGFUL CONVICTION AND DEATH (MURDER!)

  • Acts 23:14: “And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.”
  • Acts 24:1: “And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.”
  • Acts 25:15: “About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.”

Also see:
» What was the Sanhedrin?
» Who were the “chief priests?”
» Who were the “Pharisees?”
» Who were the “Sadducees?”
» Who were the “Herodians?”

What was the Sanhedrin?

WHAT WAS THE SANHEDRIN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Our English term “Sanhedrin” is the transliteration of the Greek, “sunedrion,” which literally means “sitting together.” (A related word is “synagogue,” whose study which read, linked at the end of this article.) The King James scholars rendered it “council” in all cases. “Sanhedrin” can be used two ways. While it often refers to the large, Jerusalem tribunal, it sometimes applies to smaller or local Jewish courts.

THE GREAT SANHEDRIN OF JERUSALEM

According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the great Sanhedrin of Jerusalem consisted of 71 members—scribes (Hebrew Bible copyists and teachers), elders (older men—see our related study linked at the end of this article), members of the high priestly families, and the high priest (who served as president). “The more important causes were brought before this tribunal, inasmuch as the Roman rulers of Judaea had left to it the power of trying such cases, and also of pronouncing sentence of death, with the limitation that a capital sentence pronounced by the Sanhedrin was not valid unless it were confirmed by the Roman procurator (cf. John 18:31; Josephus, Antiquities 20, 9, 1).” Perhaps the easiest illustration is to liken the Sanhedrin to the United States Supreme Court—albeit it was Israel’s Supreme Court.

Consider these few verses as summation: “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21). “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). “Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,…” (Matthew 26:3). “…[T]he chief priests and the scribes and the elders(Mark 14:43). “And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes(Mark 14:53).

Now, some more specific passages about the Sanhedrin:

  • During the Jewish phase of His trial, the Lord Jesus Christ stood before the Sanhedrin in Matthew chapter 26 (cf. verse 59), Mark chapter 14 (cf. verse 55), Mark chapter 15 (cf. verse 1), and Luke chapter 22 (cf. verse 66).
  • After healing the lame man at the Temple, the Apostles Peter and John were brought before this body in Acts chapter 4 (cf. verses 1,5-6,15,23).
  • All 12 Apostles stood before the Sanhedrin after performing miracles in Acts chapter 5 (cf. verses 17,21,24,27,34,41).
  • Stephen, filled with the Holy Ghost (like the Apostles), was brought before the Sanhedrin to stand trial in Acts chapter 6 (cf. verses 12,15).
  • The Apostle Paul stood before the Sanhedrin in the latter part of Acts (cf. 22:30; 23:10,15,20,28; 24:20).

Nicodemus (John 3:1; John 7:50) and Joseph of Arimathaea (Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50-51) were two “secret” followers of Christ who were members of the Sanhedrin. However, if you study the above passages carefully, you will realize the pervasive unbelief of this body of religious leaders. These court proceedings were corrupt, so political depravity should not surprise us today. The Sanhedrin was bitterly opposed to Jesus Christ and all His preachers. Sadducees, who denied resurrection (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Acts 23:8), formed 90% of the Sanhedrin, especially since the high priest was both a Sadducee and the leader of the Sanhedrin (cf. Acts 5:17). To be sure, Christ and His Apostles performing miracles of raising the dead, and preaching resurrection, made them most unpopular with the Sanhedrin!

THE LOCAL SANHEDRINS OR COUNCILS

Every Jewish town had a (smaller) Sanhedrin for the decision of the less important cases. These are found twice in the King James Bible:

  • Matthew 10:17: “But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;….”
  • Mark 13:9: “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.”

Also see:
» Who were the “elders?”
» Who were the “chief priests?”
» How did synagogues originate?
» Who were the “Pharisees?”
» Who were the “Sadducees?”
» Who were the “Herodians?”

Who were the “chief priests?”

WHO WERE THE “CHIEF PRIESTS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The “chief priests” are important characters in Matthew through John, as well as Acts, since they were among Christ’s enemies. (We will get to those verses later.) For now, let us provide some Old Testament background to identify their origin.

In chapter 24 of 1 Chronicles, King David organized Israel’s Levitical priesthood (which had begun with Moses and his brother Aaron, Israel’s first high priest, some 500 years earlier). Levitical priests were classified according to their forefathers, arranged by “courses” (ranks, orders, positions). They served the LORD God by following an annual schedule as touching ministration in the Tabernacle and, later, the Temple.

“[1] Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. [2] But Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children: therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest’s office. [3] And David distributed them, both Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, according to their offices in their service. [4] And there were more chief men found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar, and thus were they divided. Among the sons of Eleazar there were sixteen chief men of the house of their fathers, and eight among the sons of Ithamar according to the house of their fathers. [5] Thus were they divided by lot, one sort with another; for the governors of the sanctuary, and governors of the house of God, were of the sons of Eleazar, and of the sons of Ithamar. [6] 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.”

In all, there were 24 courses, lots, or ranks of priests. You can read these names in verses 7-18. Verse 19 summarizes: “These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.” Other sons of Levi (men of the tribe of Levi) served in non-priestly roles, and they are listed in verses 20-30. Verse 31 recaps: “These likewise cast lots over against their brethren the sons of Aaron in the presence of David the king, and Zadok, and Ahimelech, and the chief of the fathers of the priests and Levites, even the principal fathers over against their younger brethren.”

Following the Jews’ Babylonian Captivity, Ezra, some 500 years after David, conducted his ministry as a priest-scribe. “Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware” (Ezra 10:5). Israel and her religious leaders agreed to turn from their idols and worship the LORD God alone. However, their descendants were not believing. Let us skip over to Christ’s earthly ministry now, five centuries after Ezra. The “chief priests” are aware that their Hebrew Bible pinpoints Bethlehem of Judaea as Jesus’ birthplace, but they do not accompany the Gentile wise men to worship Him (Matthew 2:1-11; cf. verse 4). This is just the first of many sins the chief priests commit against the Son of God and His servants.

THE CHIEF PRIESTS MISTREATED CHRIST (QUICK SUMMARY)

Such men show us how possessing a Bible and being religious leaders are really not honorable at all unless we believe God’s Word in the heart. Despite their outward appearance, they are not people of faith. Hence, they will be instrumental in arrogantly challenging, surreptitiously betraying, fraudulently trying, incorrectly accusing, wrongly convicting, mercilessly torturing, irreverently mocking, and brutally executing the Son of God!

  • Matthew 16:21: “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
  • Matthew 20:18-19: “[18] Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, [19] And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.”
  • Mark 8:31: “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
  • Mark 10:33: “Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:….”
  • Luke 9:22: “Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS PLOTTED TO KILL CHRIST

  • Matthew 26:3-5: “[3] Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, [4] And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. [5] But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
  • Mark 11:18: “And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.”
  • Mark 14:1-2: “[1] After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. [2] But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.”
  • Luke 19:47: “And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,….”
  • Luke 22:2: “And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.”
  • John 11:47,53: “[47] Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles…. [53] Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.”
  • Matthew 27:1-2: “[1] When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: [2] And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS CHALLENGED CHRIST’S AUTHORITY

  • Matthew 21:15: “And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased,….”
  • Matthew 21:23: “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?”
  • Matthew 21:45: “And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.”
  • Mark 11:27: “And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,….”
  • Luke 20:1: “And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,….”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS ARRANGED AND PARTICIPATED IN CHRIST’S BETRAYAL AND ARREST

  • Luke 20:19: “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.”
  • John 7:32: “The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.”
  • John 7:45: “Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?”
  • John 11:57: “Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.”
  • Matthew 26:14-16: “[14] Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, [15] And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. [16] And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.”
  • Mark 14:10: “And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them.”
  • Luke 22:4: “And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.”
  • Matthew 26:47: “And while he yet spake, lo, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.”
  • Mark 14:43: “And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.”
  • Luke 22:52: “Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?”
  • John 18:3: “Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS PRESIDED OVER CHRIST’S “TRIAL” (A SHAM, TO SAY THE LEAST!)

  • Matthew 26:59-62: “[59] Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; [60] But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, [61] And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. [62] And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?”
  • Matthew 27:12: “And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.”
  • Mark 14:53,55-59: “[53] And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes…. [55] And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. [56] For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. [57] And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, [58] We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. [59] But neither so did their witness agree together.”
  • Mark 15:1-3: “[1] And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. [2] And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. [3] And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.”
  • Luke 22:66: “And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,….”
  • Luke 23:4-5: “[4] Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. [5] And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.”
  • Luke 23:10: “And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS SOUGHT TO TAKE LAZARUS’ LIFE

  • John 12:10-11: “[10] But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; [11] Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.” (Sadducees, who denied resurrection [Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Acts 23:8], were influential in the Sanhedrin, especially since the high priest was both a Sadducee and the leader of the Sanhedrin [cf. Acts 5:17]. To be sure, Christ and His Apostles performing miracles of raising the dead made them most unpopular with the chief priests, Sadducees forming some 90% of the Sanhedrin!)

THE CHIEF PRIESTS WERE NOT BOTHERED WHEN JUDAS ISCARIOT CONFESSED HE BETRAYED “THE INNOCENT BLOOD”

  • Matthew 27:3-8: “[3] Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, [4] Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. [5] And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. [6] And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. [7] And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. [8] Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS BETRAYED CHRIST TO THE ROMAN GOVERNMENT

  • Luke 24:20: “And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.”
  • John 18:35: “Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS PERSUADED MULTITUDE TO DEMAND CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION

  • Matthew 27:20: “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.”
  • Luke 23:23: “And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.
  • John 19:6: “When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.

THE CHIEF PRIESTS REFUSED CHRIST AS THEIR KING

  • John 19:15: “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”
  • John 19:21: “Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS ENVIED CHRIST (IT WAS THEIR MOTIVATION TO MURDER HIM)

  • Mark 15:10-11: “[10] For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. [11] But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS MOCKED CHRIST AS HE HUNG ON CALVARY’S CROSS

  • Matthew 27:41-43: “[41] Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, [42] He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. [43] He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.”
  • Mark 15:31: “Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS OPPOSED CHRIST EVEN AFTER HIS DEATH, CALLED HIM A “DECEIVER”

  • Matthew 27:62-66: “[62] Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, [63] Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. [64] Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. [65] Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. [66] So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS BRIBED THE ROMAN SOLDIERS TO COVER UP CHRIST’S RESURRECTION

  • 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.” (Sadducees, who denied resurrection [Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Acts 23:8], were influential in the Sanhedrin, especially since the high priest was both a Sadducee and the leader of the Sanhedrin [cf. Acts 5:17]. To be sure, Christ resurrecting made Him most unpopular with the chief priests!)

THE CHIEF PRIESTS PERSECUTED THE 12 APOSTLES IN EARLY ACTS

  • Acts 5:24: “Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS GAVE SAUL OF TARSUS PERMISSION TO PERSECUTE AND ARREST MESSIANIC JEWS IN EARLY ACTS

  • Acts 9:14: “And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.”
  • Acts 9:21: “But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?”
  • Acts 26:10: “Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.”
  • Acts 26:12: “Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,….”

THE CHIEF PRIESTS OPPOSED THE APOSTLE PAUL

  • Acts 22:30: “On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.”
  • Acts 23:14: “And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.”
  • Acts 25:15: “About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.”

Also see:
» What was the Sanhedrin?
» Who were the “elders?”
» Who were the Pharisees?
» Who were the Sadducees?
» Who were the Herodians?”

Do Mark 15:25 and John 19:14 contradict?

DO MARK 15:25 AND JOHN 19:14 CONTRADICT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read Mark 15:25: “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.” Nothing appears amiss here, right?

Turn now to John 19:13-16 and consider it: “[13] When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. [14] And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! [15] But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. [16] Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.”

At this point, there appears to be an incongruity. Mark places Christ’s crucifixion at the third hour,” but, strangely John estimates His trial before Pontius Pilate was at the sixth hour.” How could Christ be tried three hours after His crucifixion? Is Mark mistaken in his timetable? Maybe John is wrong? What about Bible inerrancy?

Firstly, the easiest route to take is to throw up our hands and cry out, “Contradiction! We have found an error in the Bible!” Then, we just toss aside the Scriptures and gleefully begin our lifelong crusade of “disproving the Bible.” We travel the world, exhibiting our “skillful” handling of using Mark against John and John against Mark. Since denominational people are always looking for excuses to discard the Bible and embrace their church tradition, many will convert to our side after they hear our “appealing” (yet superficial) case. (Unfortunately, this scenario of unbelief is a true story!)

Secondly, we can take the difficult road. Following this course, we will face much opposition. Actually, it is because we will encounter people who have gone the easiest route (see previous paragraph). We can simply take the position of faith and believe the Bible is perfect. Instead of us correcting the Scriptures, we let the Scriptures correct us. Yes, it is a strange view to most, seeing as to we are so accustomed to hearing people in church not believing the Bible, and preachers and teachers discouraging us from trusting the Scriptures. Yet, we will assume Mark meant what he said and said what he meant, and John meant what he said and said what he meant. There is no error in either Gospel Record.

Here is a plausible scenario. What if Mark reckoned time according to the Jewish calendar? If so, the “third hour” is roughly three hours after sunrise, or 9 A.M. Now, what if John wrote according to the Roman method of timekeeping? Romans, like all other Gentiles, start a day at midnight. Consequently, the “sixth hour” is six hours after midnight, approximately 6 A.M. To summarize it in one simple sentence: Christ’s trial before Pilate was at 6 A.M. (John / sixth hour, Roman time), and He was crucified at 9 A.M (Mark / third hour, Jewish time). Is that possible? Indeed, it is, and if we can explain it then there is no mistake. See, dear friends, just a little mental effort, a little study, goes a long way with the Scripture! (That is, if [!] we are willing to handle the Bible honestly and objectively. Otherwise, let us commence our “crusade!”)

Also see:
» Why are Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradictory?
» Is Matthew 26:59-61 contradictory?
» Do Hosea 11:12 and Hosea 12:2 contradict?

Did Peter use obscenities when denying Christ?

DID PETER USE OBSCENITIES WHEN DENYING CHRIST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Was Peter employing vulgarities in these two passages? “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew” (Matthew 26:74). “But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak” (Mark 14:71). Long ago, this author remembers his pastor teaching on this topic, claiming Peter was uttering “four-letter words” or expletives. Is that true of Peter?

The “cursing” and “swearing” were not filthy language but rather strong religious language. It was something to the effect of, “I am not associated with the man! Heaven curse me if I am lying!” This is Peter’s third denial, so it is most extreme. In modern speech, someone would say, “God strike me dead if I am not telling the truth when I say I know not the man!” At this point, Peter considers the Lord Jesus as nothing but “the man… this man of whom ye speak.” So dominated by the flesh, he cannot bring himself to even say Jesus’ name! Poor Peter is distancing himself from the very God-Man he passionately claimed he would so vigorously defend.

We will recall his boastful statements made some hours prior, as found in Matthew 26:33-34: “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Peter argued still. As we know quite well, the Lord, regrettably, was correct in this prediction (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:25-27).

Friends, let us be ever so careful in our words, remembering to place more emphasis on God’s love and faithfulness than on our (fickle) love and (un)“faithfulness.” By the way, to discover God’s solution to Peter’s dilemma, be sure to read our John 21 study linked below!

Also see:
» Why did Satan want to “sift” the circumcision saints?
» Did Judas Iscariot have to betray Christ?
» Who are the “these” in the “more than these” of John 21:15?

Did the 12 Apostles ever join the Church the Body of Christ?

DID THE 12 APOSTLES EVER JOIN THE CHURCH THE BODY OF CHRIST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Brethren, the answer is a resounding NO! There was absolutely no reason for them to do so.

Unfortunately, Acts is the most misunderstood Books of the Bible. Dispensationalists—especially we Pauline dispensationalists—should be the most skillful in this regard. If anyone should be capable of shedding light on the subject, it should be we ourselves. Alas, we are often just additional contributors to the preexisting confusion. It is not God’s fault! In this our special-edition Bible Q&A article #800, we can delineate at least 10 problems that arise if we incorporate the 12 Apostles into the Body of Christ.

1. OBSCURING THE DISTINCTIONS IN SCRIPTURE

Let us begin with this. To assert the 12 Apostles joined the Body of Christ is to do nothing but blur the distinctions between it and the Little Flock. Anyone who mixes, or appears to combine, the Messianic Church (Israel’s Little Flock) with the Mystery Church (Body of Christ) should be watched with a great deal of suspicion. Whether a subtle blending (“some of the Little Flock became members of the Body of Christ”) or a full-blown grouping (“there has always been and will always be only one church in the Bible”), heresy and apostasy are nigh. Eliminating such differences is a sure way to wind up on a slippery slope, bound for the chasm of unanswerable confusion. We had better be on guard and promptly flee upon discovering the error!

2. TALLYING IS AMBIGUOUS

If we add the 12 Apostles to the Body of Christ, when do we stop taking from the Little Flock? Since the leaders of the Little Flock join the Body of Christ, why not have the entire Little Flock join the Body of Christ? What is good for the teachers is good for their disciples, right? If the most important members of the Little Flock—that is, the 12 Apostles—migrated into the Body of Christ, why did all members of the Little Flock not transfer to the Body of Christ? Or, again, maybe they all did! When is enough, enough? How do we reckon what percentage of the Little Flock moved into the Body of Christ? Will we ever answer it with certainty? It just results in more questions.

A similar argument can be made against the Apocrypha, the so-called “missing books” or “banned books” from the Bible. If the 66 Protestant Books are not enough in the canon of Scripture, how many are? Why stop at 73 or 80 like the Roman Catholics? We could add many more Books than the Roman Church if we wanted, right? Again, we are just blurring the distinctions between the Little Flock and the Body of Christ. Leave the 12 Apostles in the Little Flock, and we will avoid a lot of complications.

3. RE-JUSTIFYING THE 12 APOSTLES

The only reason someone is placed into the Church the Body of Christ is to be moved from being “in Adam” (lost, no fellowship with God, dead in trespasses and sins) to being “in Christ” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17). Requiring the 12 Apostles to move from the Little Flock to the Body of Christ implies their “re-justification”—as in, the 12 Apostles had no right standing before God until they joined the Body of Christ. To say they were not justified until the Body of Christ began is to then claim they were lost and dead in trespasses and sins throughout Matthew through John, and even into early Acts!

We know the 12 Apostles had already believed the Gospel of the Kingdom—that Jesus was Christ, Messiah, King of Israel (Matthew 16:13-19)—and were justified before God then. They had believed John the Baptist’s message (cf. John 1:35-50). In order to join the Body of Christ, they would have to “come to Christ by faith” a second time, believing Paul’s Gospel or the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This would be totally unnecessary. We have no reason to believe they lacked any right standing before God after believing the Gospel of the Kingdom, for they were members of the Little Flock and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. Someone cannot be forgiven of their sins twice, cannot move into God’s family twice, cannot be justified twice, et cetera. It makes no sense, and it causes us to question whether or not the Little Flock was ever a valid part of God’s family.

4. IGNORING THE CIRCUMCISION/UNCIRCUMCISION DIVISION

In the Church the Body of Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Romans 3:22; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 3:6). Of course, God’s purpose in forming the nation Israel was to make a Jewish body of believers. The only group of believers prior to the Body of Christ is the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant). As we noted in #3, Israel’s 12 Apostles believed the Gospel of the Kingdom during Christ’s earthly ministry.

Later, in the Book of Acts (chapter 9, specifically), the middle wall of partition—the distinction between Jew and Gentile—is broken down (see Ephesians 2:11-18). This was done in order to make Paul himself qualified to join as the first member of the Body of Christ. In Paul’s ministry, in the Church the Body of Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. All who join the Body of Christ come by faith in Paul’s Gospel, lose their Jewish or Gentile identity. God sees no racial or national distinction in the Body of Christ. Therefore, would the 12 Apostles (if they join the Body of Christ) retain or lose their Jewish standing before God? It is not only unnecessary but also impossible for them to be both saved before the middle wall of partition and then saved again after its abolishment. Again, the suggestion is rubbish. The 12 Apostles were not incorporated into the Body of Christ!

5. REPLACING ISRAEL WITH THE BODY OF CHRIST

If the 12 Apostles joined the Body of Christ, that would necessarily mean they could not remain in the nation Israel. What exactly happened to Israel then? Did it just disappear into thin air? If they were once part of Israel, but now part of the Body of Christ, we are left to wonder if the Body of Christ absorbed the Little Flock simply because the Body of Christ replaced Israel. Let us take it a step further. If the 12 Apostles were heirs of Israel’s covenants, and they joined the Body of Christ, would that not then make the Body of Christ—or, at least a portion of it—recipient of Israel’s covenants? Once we make the 12 Apostles members of the Body of Christ, it will not take too much to then convince us the whole Body of Christ replaced Israel. We wind up on more unstable theological ground.

Additionally, since Matthew 19:27-29 has the 12 Apostles inheriting material possessions and goods, will they receive these or not? “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

Nothing in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, ever suggests the Church the Body of Christ is promised material possessions or earthly blessings. Therefore, how can the 12 Apostles be recipients of earthly blessings in the Body of Christ? That would conflict with Pauline doctrine, for the Body of Christ does not inherit earthly blessings. If the 12 Apostles do not inherit earthly blessing, then God broke His promise to them. Even in the future (Millennium), there is an incongruity. The 12 Apostles cannot be both heirs of something on Earth and not be heirs of something on Earth. It is either one or the other.

6. COMBINING GOVERNMENTAL ROLES

As we noted in #5, Scripture is clear that, in the ages to come (Millennial Kingdom), the 12 Apostles will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. Look again at Matthew 19:27-28: “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Now, if the 12 Apostles are part of the Body of Christ, then that means a portion of the Body of Christ rules over Israel. But, are not Israel and the Body of Christ two equal entities, the former exalted in the Earth and the latter exalted in the Heavenly Places? Ephesians 1:8-10: “[8] Wherein he [Father God] hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:….”

Also, Colossians 1:16-20: “[16] For by him [God the Son, Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

Making the 12 Apostles join the Body of Christ confuses the matter. Israel really does not have supremacy in the Earth then, for the Body of Christ would be the governmental authority in Heaven and Earth. Now, we have Heaven and Earth scrambled, with part of the Body of Christ (the 12 Apostles) in Heaven… but, if the Apostles moved into the Body of Christ, they have lost their position on Earth? Who then reigns over Israel on the Earth, if not the 12 Apostles? Will Israel be governed from Heaven? We have part of the heavenly government reigning over the earthly realm… or part of the earthly government reigning over the heavenly realm? Which is it?! Do you see the unfathomable complexity and perplexity?

7. INSERTING THE APOSTLES WHERE THEY DO NOT BELONG

Nothing in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, indicates the 12 Apostles ever became part of the Body of Christ. None of the Books of Hebrews through Revelation—writings of Apostles James, Peter, Jude, and John—ever suggest they joined the Body of Christ. Here is the evidence.

The Apostle Peter appears by that name in Paul’s epistles five times, and “Cephas” five times. He is confined to Galatians and 1 Corinthians. See for yourself:

(PETER)

  • Galatians 1:18: “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”
  • Galatians 2:7: “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;….”
  • Galatians 2:8: “(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles: )….”
  • Galatians 2:11: “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.”
  • Galatians 2:14: “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

(CEPHAS)

  • 1 Corinthians 1:12: “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.”
  • 1 Corinthians 3:22: “Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;….”
  • 1 Corinthians 9:5: “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:5: “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:….”
  • Galatians 2:9: “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

(JOHN AND JAMES)

As for the Apostle John, he is found only once in Paul’s epistles. That is in Galatians 2:9, where the Apostle James also appears. See our last verse quoted. The Apostle James is found two other times in Paul’s writings. Like Cephas/Peter, he too is restricted to 1 Corinthians and Galatians.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:7: “After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.”
  • Galatians 2:12: “For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.”

Now, let us examine it from another angle. Instead of looking for James, Peter, and John in Paul’s epistles; let us see if we can find Paul in their writings. As it turns out, Paul appears only once in the Circumcision or Jewish Epistles. Read 2 Peter 3:15-16: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Second Peter was Peter’s final epistle. In it, the Holy Spirit directs Peter’s readers to consider the Divine revelation given to Paul. Peter confessed he himself did not have that insight, for the revelation of the mystery was not his ministry (it was Paul’s—cf. Colossians 1:23-29). How could Peter be a member of the Body of Christ and yet be so unable to adequately communicate truths associated with it? Evidently, Peter assumed the Body of Christ was something totally unrelated to his ministry or what God was doing in and through him. Remember, this is Peter at the end of his life. He would gain no further revelation, which is why he urges his audience to consult Paul’s epistles for more information.

We will yet take it a step further. If we search the Scriptures for the term “body of Christ,” or “the church which is his body,” we will discover one plain and simple fact. It is exclusive to Paul’s ministry and writings. Look at the references yourself, brethren. Read Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14,27; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 4:4,12,16; Ephesians 5:23,30; Colossians 1:18,24; Colossians 2:19; and Colossians 3:15.

Contrariwise, there is absolutely nothing about the Church the Body of Christ in the Books of Hebrews through Revelation. If you doubt this, take a concordance and look up the term “body” in Hebrews through Revelation. You will find not so much as one verse about the Church the Body of Christ. Peter, James, and John do not write about it. Would they have not done so, had they been part of it? Now, search for the word “church” in Hebrews through Revelation. It always appears in conjunction with the Messianic Church (Israel’s believing remnant), for the word “body” is never attached to it. “Church” in the Hebrew Epistles is strictly Israel’s Little Flock, the group of Jewish believers God calls out of the apostate nation to form His kingdom of priests. Again, take a concordance and see for yourself. Do not take anyone’s word for it—including mine!

8. IGNORING THE ACTS 15 & GALATIANS 2 BIBLE CONFERENCE

Had the 12 Apostles joined the Church the Body of Christ, the Bible conference of Galatians chapter 2 and Acts chapter 15 would not have ended in the fashion it did. Paul and Barnabas would not have parted from James, Peter, and John. We remind ourselves of Galatians 2:9 once more: “And when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

They would have all been part of one Body of Christ, preaching the same Gospel of the Grace of God. Yet, we can see their mutual promise to remain separate and distinct groups. Paul and Barnabas would preach and minister to the heathen (all lost people, whether Jew or Gentile); whereas James, Peter, and John would preach and minister to the circumcision (Israel’s Little Flock). Obviously, the Church the Body of Christ and Israel’s believing remnant remained apart. The leadership of the Little Flock (James, Peter, and John) would in no way join Paul and Barnabas because the leadership of the Little Flock knew the division was there. It was a joint agreement, and the rest of the Book of Acts bears that out. Paul visits synagogues (lost Jews), pagan Gentiles, and so on. There is no record in latter Acts or Paul’s epistles that James, Peter, or John ever taught Paul’s converts or evangelized synagogue worshippers. From Acts 15 / Galatians 2 onward, the lost were given over to Paul’s ministry.

9. OVERLOOKING THE LAW/GRACE DIVISION

The 12 Apostles were told to preach the Law in Matthew 5:17-18: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Yet, the Church the Body of Christ is under Grace and not Law. Romans chapter 6, verses 14 and 15: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

So, are the 12 Apostles under the Law, or under Grace? If they are under the Law, they cannot be part of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is under Grace. However, if the 12 Apostles are under Grace, then they are least in God’s earthly kingdom. Continue reading in Matthew chapter 5, verses 17-20: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” How could we make the leaders of God’s earthly kingdom least in that kingdom at the same time?

As an extra sidenote, many years (a decade?) after the Acts 15 / Galatians 2 Bible conference, we read chapter 21 of Acts: “[18] And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. [19] And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. [20] And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: [21] And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.”

We will notice the Apostle James—the same one of Acts chapter 15 and Galatians chapter 2—is still associated with Jews “which believe… [who] are all zealous of the law” (verse 20). If James is under Grace and not Law, what is he doing here? Should he not be discouraging these Jews, members of the Little Flock, from being under the Law? Maybe he is following his promise in Acts and Galatians? Perhaps he is restricting his doctrine to match the group of people to whom he is ministering? Of course he is!

10. CAUSING CONFUSION ABOUT APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY

With the 12 Apostles being incorporated into the Body of Christ, what happens to their apostolic authority? Do they retain it, or lose it? If they retain it, why? They can in no way function in the Body of Christ as apostles, for the only apostles in the Body of Christ were given their offices after Christ’s ascension (Ephesians 4:8-11)! If they lose it, then that means Israel herself is without 12 Apostles now. Consequently, once the Body of Christ began in the Book of Acts (chapter 9 with Saul’s salvation), Israel’s believing remnant had no Apostles leading it. All Apostles would be in the Body of Christ now. Preposterous!

CONCLUSION

The idea that “the 12 Apostles joined the Body of Christ” breaks down into nothing but hopeless confusion. It is simply denominationally-minded Christians, or even lost people, not making the distinctions in Scripture that they should. Since they have not fully broken from religious tradition, their thinking is clouded. It is natural-man wisdom, an attempt to harmonize differences in the Bible, and it does nothing more than complicate Scripture. Such people need to grow in God’s Word rightly divided before they attempt to teach it. Dear brethren, if you make the 12 Apostles part of the Church the Body of Christ, the best of luck to you in reducing that chaos to order! (You will need it.)

Also see:
» Can you explain Peter and the 11’s ministry from Acts chapters 7 through 15?
» Can you explain Paul’s ministry during Acts?
» Why does the Book of Acts end so abruptly?
» What is Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology?
» When did the Church the Body of Christ begin?
» Is Hebrews 13:3 a reference to the Body of Christ?
» Did the Church the Body of Christ begin in Acts 2?

What is the significance of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt?

WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LOT’S WIFE BEING TURNED INTO A PILLAR OF SALT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Why was Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt? What is so special about salt? Although a depressing subject, you asked about it so here we go!

In Genesis 13:12, the Bible says: “Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” Lot is Abraham’s nephew (Genesis 12:5). Move to chapter 19, verse 1: “And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;….” The city gate in ancient times was where court proceedings and other legal/civil matters were handled. Lot “sat in the gate” signifies he was a prominent political leader in Sodom.

Continue in chapter 19: “[12] And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: [13] For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. [14] And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

“[15] And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. [16] And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

“[17] And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. [18] And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: [19] Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: [20] Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. [21] And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. [22] Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

“[23] The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. [24] Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; [25] And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. [26] But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. [27] And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: [28] And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. [29] And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.”

Lot and his wife had profited materially and socially in Sodom, so she, understandably, had great difficulty leaving all her possessions and social connections behind. The angel had instructed them in verse 17: “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.” However, verse 26: “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” She turned around to observe her former dwelling one last time, indicating she had not fully broken away from that sinful place. We can imagine her saying, “Oh, what a shame we have to leave all that behind! Our friends, our house, our other belongings, to be totally ruined!”

Her attitude is borne out in Luke chapter 17, where the Lord Jesus advises Israel’s believing remnant not to be attached to this evil world system as they await His Second Coming: “[26] And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. [27] They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. [28] Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; [29] But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. [30] Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. [31] In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. [32] Remember Lot’s wife. [33] Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”

“Remember Lot’s wife” is Jesus’ counsel. She was materialistic, more concerned with physical matters than spiritual ones. Her priorities were out of order. She was nothing but an idolater, worshipping physical wealth. Yet, why did God turn her into salt of all things? Well, part of the answer lies in Mark 9:49: “For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.” If you read verses 42-50, you will see Hell described as “the fire that never shall be quenched… the fire is not quenched… the fire that never shall be quenched… the fire is not quenched… hell fire… the fire is not quenched.” Hell is where unbelieving souls are sacrificed perpetually. Lot’s wife’s soul is one of those beings! The fire never goes out. It burns forever because those souls last forever. God’s wrath against their sin is never satisfied. Those souls are preserved. Hell’s fires are likened unto “salt,” a preservative. (Prior to the advent of modern refrigeration, salt was frequently used to preserve meats.)

While we know it as the “Dead Sea,” the Bible name is “the salt sea” (Genesis 14:3; Numbers 34:3,12; Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 3:16; Joshua 12:3; Joshua 15:2,5; Joshua 18:19). As a Master of Geology, this author might as well give a brief lesson on earth science. The Dead Sea is almost 10 times saltier than the world’s oceans. It is endorheic, meaning it has no outlet to the ocean. The Jordan River flows into it, but nothing flows out of it. Water escapes the sea by evaporating in the desert sun, leaving behind evaporites (salt, gypsum, et cetera). Sodom is thought to have been on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, on what is known as the Lisan Peninsula. Gomorrah may have been located further south, near the southeasternmost tip of the Dead Sea.

On the southwestern shore of the Dead Sea is Mount Sodom, a 700-foot- (213-meter-) tall hill made primarily of salt. A section of it is a formation resembling a pillar, aptly named “Lot’s Wife.” While this landform is probably not actually her, we can appreciate the scientific plausibility of her turning into salt in this very area. She became physically incorporated into the same land she so desired to continue “occupying!” As a preservative, salt is the perfect material to make an example or memorial of such unbelief and idolatry.

Also see:
» How many daughters did Lot have?
» Was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah inhospitality?
» How can a “loving” God send people to Hell forever?

What exactly is the “Fall” of man?

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE “FALL” OF MAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

When we Christians speak of Adam’s “Fall” or man’s “Fall,” it is not to say we believe Adam/mankind literally fell.

For example, the Muslim prophet Muhammad misunderstood us—perhaps because Christians did not adequately express their beliefs to him. Whatever the case, he wrote in the Qur’an in Surah (chapter) 2: “34 When We told the angels, ‘Bow down before Adam,’ they all bowed. But not Iblis, who refused and was arrogant: he was one of the disobedient. 35 We said, ‘Adam, live with your wife in this garden. Both of you eat freely there as you will, but do not go near this tree, or you will both become wrongdoers.’ 36 But Satan made them slip, and removed them from the state they were in. We said, ‘Get out, all of you! You are each other’s enemy. On earth you will have a place to stay and livelihood for a time.’ 37 Then Adam received some words from his Lord and He accepted his repentance: He is the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful.” (The Qur’an, M. A. S. Abdel Haleem translation, 2004-2005, page 7).

According to the Muslim holy book, Satan (Iblis) sinned in that he did not bow before Adam as Allah commanded. Furthermore, since Adam and his wife sinned, Allah punished them by throwing them out of Heaven and sending them to Earth. That is, Adam and Eve allegedly lived in Heaven before being banished to Earth. In other words, the Qur’an teaches they “fell” to Earth. Is this what the Bible teaches? Of course not! Adam and Eve lived on planet Earth from the very beginning of their existence, as we will see in Genesis. They resided in the Garden of Eden in the Middle East, in the vicinity of modern Iraq (Genesis 2:4-17, especially verses 10-15). Now, falling from Heaven down to Earth is true of Lucifer/Satan (Luke 10:18), but not of man/Adam. When we Christians speak of the “Fall” of man, we are using the word in a figurative or non-literal way. Nevertheless, we are conveying a literal truth.

Immediately after his creation, Adam was the glory of God. He was the full expression of all that God was and is. Thus, he was able to commune with Him, represent Him, and worship Him without any hindrances or barriers to interfere. Remember, Genesis 1:26-28 in the King James Bible: “[26] And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. [28] And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Now, go to Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;….” Something changed in man between Genesis chapter 1 and Romans chapter 3. Mankind is no longer an adequate representative of God. All that God was and is, man cannot reflect it. Man cannot worship his Creator because man has a sin problem. The Greek word rendered “come short” is “hystereo,” translated various other ways in Scripture. Briefly examining these passages will help us understand the drastic change that occurred in man to negatively affect him:

  • The word is “lack” in Matthew 19:20, “The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack [hystereo] I yet?” Also, Luke 22:35, “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye [hystereo] any thing? And they said, Nothing.”
  • Another way the word is used is “come behind:” “So that ye come behind [hystereo] in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:….” (1 Corinthians 1:7).
  • In Philippians 4:12, it is “suffer need:” “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 [hystereo].”
  • The word is translated “destitute” in Hebrews 11:37: “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute [hystereo], afflicted, tormented;….”
  • Finally, Hebrews 12:15: “Looking diligently lest any man fail [hystereo] of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;….”

The idea, then, is deficiency, something absent, a need, or inferiority. Man has fallen, no longer bearing God’s image. Adam passed on this corrupt identity to all of us: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:…” (Romans 5:12). God’s righteousness—His standard of rightness—is therefore high above us. No matter how hard we try in religion, we cannot “measure up.” In this sense we are come short of the glory of God. We are devoid of all that He is, or of all that He originally made Adam (the first man).

Our only remedy is the Gospel of the Grace of God: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Romans 3:23-28: “[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Romans 4:1-5: “[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

“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” (Acts 16:30-31).

Also see:
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» Are we created in “the image of God?”
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?
» Is grace a “license to sin?”

» Why did God place a curse on creation?
» Can you explain “knowing” good and evil with respect to the Garden of Eden?
» Was an apple the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

What is the “shambles?”

WHAT IS THE “SHAMBLES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Shambles” is a good King James Bible word, found once. The passage in which it is found is 1 Corinthians 10:24-26: “[24] Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. [25] Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: [26] For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.”

It is an archaic word, but we can use context clues to get a pretty good idea of its definition. The term is associated with things that can be eaten. In other words, the “shambles” is place where food is sold. Specifically, as Strong’s Greek Dictionary tells us, it is a butcher’s stall, indoor meat market, or provision-shop. The Greek word is “makellon,” derived from the Latin “macellum” (“market”). Here, animals were actually slaughtered. In the pagan Roman Empire, the meat was connected to idol worship. For more information, see our related study on 1 Corinthians chapter 8, linked below.

As one brother in Christ described it, most comically: “Indeed we can be certain that ‘shambles’ was a much more accurate description of the ancient marketplace (and many around the world today)!” (“Shambles” is synonymous with “chaos.”)

Also see:
» Can you explain 1 Corinthians chapter 8?
» What is a “charger?”
» What does the Bible say about blood transfusions?

Can you explain Mark 9:38-41?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN MARK 9:38-41?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, yes, I sure can, and I would be glad to help you understand it!

We turn in the Scriptures to read Mark 9:38-41: “[38] And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. [39] But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. [40] For he that is not against us is on our part. [41] For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” Luke briefly reports it in chapter 9 of his Gospel Record: “[49] And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. [50] And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”

This bizarre exchange—which seems out of place but is not—should be considered in context. Jesus’ teaching on humility and pride (Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48) pricked John’s guilty conscience, and he answered Jesus with the above quote. John recalls a time when he and his fellow Apostles witnessed a man “casting out devils in [Christ’s] name,” and they were bothered because he “followeth not us… followeth not us.” In fact, they even “forbad” (stopped, hindered) this man from performing any more exorcisms!

Jesus replies to John, “Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.” Evidently, the man was a believer and genuine worker of miracles (not the counterfeit of Matthew 7:21-23). Jesus thus commanded His Apostles not to stop him. The man could not speak good in the name of Christ and then quickly speak evil of Christ. He would not turn on Christ. In fact, the Lord indicated this anonymous man was on God’s side—and the Apostles were acting selfishly in deterring him. Remember, they had not said “he followeth not thee [Lord]” but rather twice repeated “he followeth not us… he followeth not us.” Since the Apostles had not authorized that exorcist, they assumed he was an evildoer. Therefore, they “courageously” took it upon themselves to reprove him. By focusing on self, they were in the wrong. They were definitely surprised when Jesus reprimanded them.

Interestingly, while this unknown man was casting out devils in the name of Christ, the disciples were unable to do so moments earlier (Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-42). The man’s name is unspecified, but his power is great. Yet, how could he as a non-Apostle cast out devils? Well, remember, Jesus commissioned the 70 men to cast out devils and yet they were not Apostles (cf. Luke 10:1,17). It is no strange thing then if we find this man, a non-Apostle, casting out devils in Mark chapter 9 and Luke chapter 9. Whoever he was makes no difference. The point is, since he had not allied with the 12 Apostles, it prompted them to disapprove of him. While he had no formal denominational or sectarian sanctioning, the Lord Himself commented the Apostles were errant in their handling of the matter. Rather than commending them, He scolded them. Theynot the man—were wrong.

Read Mark 9:41 again: “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” Although a different context, Matthew 10:42 reads similarly: “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” The setting is rewards for kingdom saints, Israel’s believing remnant (cf. Matthew 10:33-41). Instead of fighting with a fellow believer (Mark 9:38-40), the Apostles should have received him (and been partaker of his ministry/reward). Go back to verse 37: “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” Remember, it was this very statement of Christ that stirred up John’s guilty conscience and caused him to introduce the passage we are currently discussing. Pride was operating in the Apostles, and the Lord quickly addressed it. Go back to Mark 9:33-37 (also later in Mark 10:35-45).

The most important lesson we can gain from this is simple. We should be careful in ministry, to make absolutely certain it is the Spirit of God operating in us and not our flesh. Petty infighting is sinful. If it is not sound Bible doctrine communicated in the right spirit (humility not pride), it is far better to keep our mouths closed.

“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).

SUPPLEMENTAL: COMPARING MARK 9:40 WITH MATTHEW 12:30

“For he that is not against us is on our part” (Mark 9:40) should be compared to “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30). Friends, there is no middle ground: one is either for the Lord Jesus Christ or against Him. We either uphold God’s Book and exalt His Son, or we do not. In the context of Mark, the exorcist was casting out devils in the name of Christ (Mark 9:38). As Jesus Himself remarked, he was working in accordance with Father God. Matthew, however, is spoken in connection to Israel’s religious leaders who have deliberately vilified Jesus as being Satan’s ally (Matthew 12:24). There is no contradiction between the two statements.

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:
» Who were the seventy whom Christ sent out?
» Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?