Monthly Archives: March 2021

Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in the Bible?

DOES MARK 16:9-20 BELONG IN THE BIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In his eponymous study Bible published over a century ago, Dr. C. I. Scofield attached the following footnote to Mark 16:9: “The passage from verse 9 to the end is not found in the two most ancient manuscripts, the Sinaitic and Vatican, and others have it with partial omissions and variations. But it is quoted by Irenaeus and Hippolytus in the second or third century.” What kind of an annotation is this?! Well, honestly, it is the type of gloss that has bothered dispensationalists who have used the Scofield Study Bible for more than 100 years! Does Mark 16:9-20 actually belong in the Holy Bible? Is it Mark’s original inspired ending, or simply a later addition? Although we will always be indebted to Dr. Scofield for his dispensational insight, he was still just a human like all of us, and he had his theological blind spots. We want to vehemently confess this note was one of them—one we should clarify. Our goal in this treatise is to study the Scriptures as well as explore church history, that we may establish and weigh the evidence of the pertinent arguments for and against Mark 16:9-20, and ultimately establish a sound conclusion.

Although a highly technical study, the information contained herein is invaluable and worthy of our attention. Friend, if you have an open heart and mind, a sincere desire to know the truth concerning this textual matter, you will know it (John 7:17)! Ask the Holy Spirit to edify, encourage, and enlighten you as you progress through this study. While this author does not agree with everyone he will cite here, he considers this data vital to the reader’s understanding of how Satan’s evil world system operates. The Bible student will come to realize the ubiquitous doubt, confusion, heresy, and apostasy that have long plagued the Church the Body of Christ. Most importantly, the reader will understand how to avoid such spiritual ruin. Requesting your undivided attention in this, our special-edition Bible Q&A article #825, the author has made every attempt to present the truth as plainly and simply as possible, that sound Bible doctrine be advanced and the Lord Jesus Christ thereby glorified. Are you ready? Here we go!

DOWNLOAD THE 120-PAGE STUDY (PDF) BY CLICKING HERE

You may also watch our accompanying YouTube video, in which I teach this material in an abbreviated form. Click here for the video.

What does “by and by” mean?

WHAT DOES “BY AND BY” MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The idiomatic phrase is found four times in the Authorized Version:

  • Matthew 13:21: “Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
  • 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.”
  • Luke 17:7: “But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?”
  • Luke 21:9: “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.”

One rewarding way to define King James Bible words is to search for and study parallel passages. For example, the cross-reference to Matthew 13:21 (above) is Mark 4:17: “And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.” Based on this verse, what do you suppose “by and by” would mean in Matthew 13:21? Obviously, the expression is interchangeable with “immediately.”

As for Luke 21:9, its companion is Matthew 24:6: “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Whereas Luke has “by and by,” Matthew reads “yet.” Therefore, to be “not by and by” is to be “not yet,” and both would be “not as soon as the present.” A delay or pause is implied here.

Here is the Bible student’s approach: we study the Bible and look for answers as we think about what we are reading. The lazy man’s approach, however, is to whine and complain about “difficult and archaic words.” No thinking whatsoever is required in the latter case, which makes it all the more popular and all the more profitless as well.

Also see:
» What is “leasing” in the King James Bible?
» What is a “charger?”
» Is “corn” a mistake in the King James Bible?
» Is the King James word “borrow” a mistranslation in Exodus 3:22?
» What does “untoward” mean?

Why does “revived” appear in Romans 14:9?

WHY DOES “REVIVED” APPEAR IN ROMANS 14:9?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some find Romans 14:9 rather baffling, for it reads: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Christ “died”—okay. Christ “rose”—got it. Christ “revived”—huh? Is that not redundant? Why are “rose” and “revived” both essential here?

The fourteenth chapter of Romans counsels Christians to seek the welfare of their weaker brethren in Christ. We should always remember not (!) to use our liberty in grace to cause fellow believers to stumble in sin. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). An activity we consider acceptable—and it may very well be acceptable to God—may seem inappropriate to Christians unschooled in grace doctrine. It will thus become to them a source of discouragement and potential destruction. Therefore, it is better for us to limit our freedom, lest Satan use something good to spiritually injure or incapacitate God’s people (read Romans chapter 14 in its entirety). Check also 1 Corinthians chapter 8, and our related study linked at the end of this article.

For brevity’s sake, we start at verse 1 of Romans chapter 14 but restrict our comments until verse 7: “[1] Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. [2] For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. [3] Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. [4] Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. [5] One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. [6] He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”

Verse 7 onward amplifies what has preceded: “[7] For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. [8] For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. [9] For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” We want to focus now on these verses, chiefly verse 9.

There is no room whatsoever in the life of Christ for living for self, living independently, living according to self-will, ignoring the damage we inflict on others (particularly fellow members of the Body of Christ). That is the old nature, the sin nature, Adam’s life, but that is not God’s life, Christ’s life, the Christian’s nature in the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Philippians 2:1-8). The Holy Spirit leads us to function on the basis of sound Bible doctrine—Pauline/grace teaching—rather than the energy of the flesh and vain speculations of natural-man thinking (cf. 1 Corinthians chapter 2). Faith in sound Bible doctrine allows the life of Jesus Christ, rather than the life of fallen Adam, to be manifested in our life.

Romans 14:9 once again: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Not only did Jesus die, not only did He rise from the dead, He “revived.” Why does “revived” appear here? What is its significance? The word seems unsuitable, does it not? Perhaps, but the Bible is not the problem. Every word of the King James Bible is important, and just because we do not understand a verse does not mean we should start “correcting” or “re-translating” it. Instead, we study it more fully, locating cross-references that will allow the Bible to interpret itself.

The Lord Jesus rose from the dead, but He was not merely alive. He was active or functional. You can be living in a vegetative state—paralyzed or limited physically. When Christ resurrected, He not only came to life again, He also left that tomb and resumed moving in that physical body like He did before it was crucified and killed. Read Romans chapter 6, paying close attention to verse 10: “[8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: [9] Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. [10] For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. [11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus “liveth unto God” (verse 10)—His resurrection life!

After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus began to teach God’s Word again to Israel’s believing remnant (Acts 1:1-3). He recovered the condition He had before. It was a life of servitude to Father God once more, not selfishness but selflessness. He continued to follow His Father’s will, teaching Israel’s Little Flock, telling them about the kingdom of God, equipping them to prepare for the founding of His earthly kingdom (see Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:44-49; John 20:21-23; Acts 1:8). In terms of Romans 14:8, Jesus Christ “lived unto the Lord” and He “died unto the Lord.” The “Lord” here is obviously God the Father, for it was the Son who lived and died and lived again in accordance with the Father’s will. Recall Christ’s words in Gethsemane, just prior to His arrest and crucifixion:

  • Matthew 26:39: “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
  • Matthew 26:42: “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”
  • Luke 22:42: “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
  • John 4:34: “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”
  • John 6:38: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”
  • Hebrews chapter 10 is Jesus Christ speaking to Father God: “[5] Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. [8] Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; [9] Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. [10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Going back to our key text in Romans chapter 14: “[7] For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. [8] For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. [9] For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Whether the life before Christ’s resurrection or the life after it, it was unselfish living. He was living, He was dead, and He was alive again. The purpose of this (living, death, living) was so He could be our Lord, whether we are dead or alive. If we live unto the Lord, or we die unto the Lord, we are following the Lord’s example, and He is thus leading us. We are faithful to Father God’s will, right up until physical death, and, after our physical resurrection, the life we will enjoy in the heavenly places. While we are on Earth, let us live with Father God’s will in mind—that is, in Romans chapter 14, conducting ourselves with our weaker brethren at the forefront of our thinking.

If we look at how this Greek word (“anazao,” “live again”) was handled elsewhere in the King James Bible’s New Testament, we see “rose” paired with “revived” is equivalent to coupling “rose” with “again.” “Again” and “reviving” both refer to the post-resurrection life:

  • Luke 15:24: “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”
  • Luke 15:32: “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”
  • Romans 7:9: “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (This would be the sense of “revived” in Romans 14:9.)
  • Revelation 20:5: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”

Also see:
» Can you explain 1 Corinthians chapter 8?
» Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» Are the Christian life and ministry about bossing people around?
» Provided we do not hurt anybody, may we do what we want?
» Can an atheist be moral without any influence from any “higher power?”

What is “palsy?”

WHAT IS “PALSY?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read of the condition in six different passages (half are the same miracle described from three perspectives).

  • Matthew 4:24: “And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.”
  • Matthew 8:6: “And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.”
  • Matthew chapter 9: “[2] And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee…. [6] But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.”
  • Mark chapter 2: “[3] And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. [4] And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. [5] When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee…. [9] Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? [10] But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)….”
  • Luke chapter 5: “[18] And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him…. [24] But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.”
  • Acts 9:33: “And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.”

Using context clues, we can surmise “palsy” is a physical illness the Lord Jesus healed; sufferers were bedridden or incapacitated. “Palsy” is simply paralysis, and it is actually not an archaic word. The medical community today uses “Bell’s palsy” to delineate slight weakness to total paralysis of facial muscles, a condition that leads to one side of the face drooping. In the Bible, as with other sicknesses, palsy is a picture of sin and its devastating effects. Sin weakens and debilitates the soul, to the point of helplessness and inability to function as the Lord planned. Christ healed physical palsy to show He could raise up Israel from her failure to be His people functionally, causing them to walk normally spiritually (Matthew 9:2,6; Mark 2:5,10; Luke 5:24; cf. Ezekiel 36:27).

Also see:
» How was there healing in touching Jesus’ garment hem?
» Why did Jesus Christ heal on the Sabbath day?
» Why did Christ need to heal the man in Mark 8 twice?

Should we have a ministry to people who abuse us?

SHOULD WE HAVE A MINISTRY TO PEOPLE WHO ABUSE US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friends, it is no secret this world abounds with “users and abusers.” Such people take advantage of the kindness of others. They particularly expect us Christians to work for them for free. At their insistence, we should open some form of “business”—taxi service (driving them around everywhere), daycare facility (watching their kids constantly), construction company (doing frequent home maintenance for them), and so on. A well-meaning soul would say, “Even though they are known drug users, thieves, habitual liars, and alcoholics, I can mingle with them and show them the light of Christ. If need be, I will work for them for free just so I can be a witness to them!” Is that reasonable?

Undoubtedly, we should do whatever we can to help the less fortunate, needy, and disabled: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth (Ephesians 4:28). As much as we possibly can, we should especially take care of other Christians’ needs: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).

Romans 12:9-21 is another excellent passage to consult: “[9] Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. [10] Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; [11] Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; [12] Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; [13] Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. [14] Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. [15] Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. [16] Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. [17] Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. [18] If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. [19] Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. [20] Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. [21] Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Now, this is not all the Bible says about our relating with others. We should apply sanctified common sense as well. Bear in mind 1 Corinthians 15:33-34: “[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.” Simply put, we put our Christian testimony and spiritual health at risk when we associate with certain people. We are deceived if we think they cannot inflict great damage upon us. Perhaps they have a criminal reputation. Or, maybe they belong to some cult, a haven of false teaching. If we are not careful, these avenues will become gateways for Satan’s evil world system to enter our life and attack us. For example, since the Christian Corinthians had allowed pagan Greek philosophy to mislead them, their so-called “spirituality” was nothing but an embarrassment. Sin is contagious. One person acting in the flesh will be enticed to sin if he or she sees another person acting in the flesh—that applies to lasciviousness (loose living) and asceticism (strict religion/philosophy).

It makes no sense for any Christian to surround himself or herself with lost people and expect to have victorious grace living. Too much exposure to the evil world system will bring any Christian down—from the new believer in Christ saved yesterday all the way to the apologetic pastor in ministry for 50 years. Never underestimate the effects sin can have on your life if you open yourself up to it. Consider these two equally tragic, real-life illustrations.

Currently, this author has a brother in Christ, a dear friend in grace ministry, struggling with illegal drug addictions. For years, he had contact with heavy drug users, and rather than him influencing them to come to Christ, they enticed him to follow them in their criminal lifestyle. In recent months, he has almost gone to Heaven on a few occasions because of his near-fatal overdoses! The nightmare his family members have experienced could have been avoided had he been more cautious in ministry. On a positive note, he has just started seeking treatment in a drug rehabilitation facility. Hopefully, he will recover himself from the snare of the Devil!

Some years back, the author had another brother in Christ, another good friend in grace ministry. This Bible teacher, after attempting to convert an atheist, became atheistic himself and a hostile Bible scoffer! Even after this author reached out to him to correct him, he never responded and continued on his wayward path. Three years later, it now appears he is more confused and smugger than ever. Unless we take adequate precautions, saints, sin will conquer us in ministry. Be ever so careful and prayerful before getting involved in these types of cases.

We need to make wise use of our time and energy. Wasting the Lord’s resources on people who refuse to better themselves is foolish. It is not God’s will for us. Having a ministry to people who outright abuse or habitually take advantage of us is a formula for disaster. Once we no longer positively influence them, but we reach the threshold of them beginning to adversely affect us, it is time to “count our losses” and move on to people who do want to be saved in Jesus Christ and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

Also see:
» How long should we keep witnessing to the same person?
» If God knows who will serve Him and who won’t, why witness?
» Must I witness to be saved?
» Can we witness “too much” to family members?
» Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God use them again?
» If God wants to save all—but only few are saved—is He not “weak” and “limited?”
» What are evil communications in 1 Corinthians 15:33?

Why does the LORD make a covenant with animals?

WHY DOES THE LORD MAKE A COVENANT WITH ANIMALS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read an enigmatic promise in Hosea 2:18: “And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.” Exactly why would God want to make an agreement with animals? (Hint: It is for Israel’s benefit!)

According to the Law of Moses (Old Covenant), a series of five rounds of judgments or chastisements would come upon the Jewish people for their disobedience to the LORD. See Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28. The context of Hosea chapter 2 is Israel’s restoration and redemption from those curses or judgments of the Old Covenant, and her enjoyment of the New Covenant at Christ’s Second Coming. Israel is delivered, brought back into the Promised Land, from which the LORD had scattered her idolatrous ancestors several centuries before Christ (the fifth course of judgment, Leviticus 26:27-46).

The third course of chastisement was outlined in Leviticus 26:21-22: “[21] And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. [22] I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.As a punishment for their sinfulness, God promised to turn the wild animal kingdom loose on Israel, that these creatures attack and eat them and their livestock! This phase of judgment was instituted during the ministry of the Prophet Elisha.

Turn to 2 Kings 2:23-25, over 800 years before Christ: “[23] And he [the Prophet Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. [24] And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. [25] And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.” These “children”—as in teenagers—were ridiculing God’s prophet or spokesman. In other words, Israel has taught her younger generations to laugh at the LORD’S preacher. Consequently, the third course of judgment began, and two female bears slaughtered these kids to prove it!

As touching the fourth seal judgment of Daniel’s 70th Week, yet future from us, we see this third course of chastisement resuming. Revelation chapter 6: “[7] And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. [8] And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” These creatures will take the lives of idolaters, those followers of the Antichrist. Consequently, Israel’s Little Flock (believing remnant) will be endued with supernatural power over the animal kingdom, that the fauna not hurt them. As the Lord promised His disciples in believing Israel, “They shall take up serpents” (Mark 16:18). For more information, see our snake-handling article linked below.

In the case of Hosea chapter 2, the curses of the Old Covenant are lifted and the blessings of the New Covenant are introduced. Reread the verse with which we opened: “And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.” In Christ’s Millennial Reign, Israel will be at peace. No Gentile armies will be attacking her in the Promised Land, as with the first course of chastisement (Leviticus 26:14-17). Also, no Gentile nations will be deporting her from the Promised Land via war, as in the fifth course of judgment (Leviticus 26:27-39). Moreover, the animal kingdom will not assault her people anymore, as in the third course of chastisement (Leviticus 26:21-22).

The Prophet Ezekiel foretold of Israel’s restoration under the New Covenant in chapters 34 and 36. (Look at Ezekiel 36:25-27; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:8-13, and Hebrews 10:1-39.) Read from chapter 34, noting especially verses 25 and 28: “[23] And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. [24] And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. [25] And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. [26] And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. [27] And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. [28] And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. [29] And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. [30] Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord GOD. [31] And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.”

Israel’s enemies—both man and beast—are now at peace with them because the LORD is now at peace with them!

Also see:
» What about snake-handling?
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?
» Can you explain 2 Kings 2:23-25?

Will the Antichrist be a homosexual?

WILL THE ANTICHRIST BE A HOMOSEXUAL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

A portion of the Holy Spirit’s description of the Antichrist—the future, apostate political leader in Israel—is found in Daniel chapter 11. Verse 37 is particularly interesting to us here: “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.” The trait “nor [regard] the desire of women” of the Antichrist has been commonly interpreted as “he will not desire women sexually.” In other words, on the basis of this passage, he is assumed to be homosexual. Is this what we are to conclude from these words?

Let us consider his other characteristics as found in the verse:

  • “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers” means the Antichrist does not worship JEHOVAH God—the God of “his fathers” Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yes, the Antichrist is a Jewish man. (For more information, see our related study linked at the end of this article.)
  • “[Neither shall he] regard any god” refers to the Antichrist not worshipping the idols of the world (that is, deities except JEHOVAH God).

Situated between these two religious statements is him not regarding “the desire of women.” Would this not be a strange place to mention a sexual tendency toward men instead of women? The context is worship in religion, so “the desire of women” must be restricted to special idols or devotions the ancient pagan women desired. In other words, these heathen women were drawn to certain female idols or goddesses (queen of heaven, Astarte, Venus, Ashtaroth, Diana, et cetera). The Antichrist will pay these goddesses no mind either. He pretends to be the one true God because he is his own authority. The Antichrist may or may not be a homosexual, but Daniel 11:37 seems to be speaking of his utter indifference to all deities—male and female. He wants to appeal to as many prospective church members as possible!

Like any sinner, like any creature following Satan, the Antichrist wants all the praise and worship. He does not focus his attention on any “higher power,” for he is his own god, and yet, he is really worshipping Satan and encouraging others to do so as well! Read Daniel 11:37 with its context: “[36] And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. [37] Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. [38] But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.”

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Also see:
» Will the Antichrist be a Jew or a Gentile?
» What advice can be given to homosexual Christians?
» Is the Antichrist alive right now?

What was wrong with Moses’ speech?

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH MOSES’ SPEECH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

When the LORD God met with Moses in the burning bush, informing him that He had chosen him to deliver His people Israel from Egyptian bondage, Moses voiced his objections in the form of lame excuses.

The Bible relates the matter in Exodus 4:10-12: “[10] And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. [11] And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? [12] Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” How was Moses “slow of speech, and of a slow tongue?” In chapter 6, we find parallel thoughts: “[12] And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?… [30] And Moses said before the LORD, Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me?” How was Moses “of uncircumcised lips?”

To answer these questions, let us examine Moses’ early life. At that time, another Pharaoh was slaughtering—drowning—Hebrew male newborn babies so as to counter the Jews’ population explosion in Egypt (Exodus 1:15-22). It was during this time that Moses was born. His mother hid him for a mere three months, ultimately being forced to send him away via a basket floating in the river (Exodus 2:1ff.). Moses’ older sister Miriam witnessed Pharaoh’s daughter discovering him, and Miriam conspired and convinced Pharaoh’s daughter to let her find a Hebrew woman to nurse him. Moses was briefly returned to his mother. When older, he came back to become the foster son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

Moses writes about himself in Exodus chapter 2: “[10] And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water. [11] And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. [12] And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. [13] And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? [14] And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. [15] Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.”

The Holy Spirit through Stephen provides additional commentary over a millennium later, in Acts chapter 7: “[22] And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. [23] And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. [24] And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: [25] For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. [26] And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? [27] But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? [28] Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?

“[29] Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. [30] And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. [31] When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, [32] Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. [33] Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. [34] I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.”

Stephen provides us with a calendar. Firstly, Moses was 40 years old when he fled Egypt (verse 23). That is, he spent his first four decades of life among the “sophisticated” Egyptians. Although Jewish by blood, his connection to Pharaoh’s daughter afforded him an Egyptian’s schooling. Moses was an educated man, as Acts 7:22 already told us: “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.” The Egyptians were advanced for their time: Moses studied science, mathematics, religion, the arts (music, architecture, and so on), world history, et cetera. At age 40, Moses departed Egypt to live in Midian.

Secondly, Stephen reveals it was 40 years after his leaving Egypt that Moses met the LORD in the burning bush (verse 30). In other words, Moses is now 80 years old. What has he been doing for the last four decades? Exodus 3:1 gives us a clue: “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.” Working as a stinky shepherd “out in the middle of nowhere” is quite different from his previous socializing with the “cultured, intellectual” Egyptians! (Centuries prior, Joseph had attempted to spare his family, father Jacob and kin, from a similar shame. Genesis 46:33-34: “And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.”)

Re-read Exodus 4:10-12: “[10] And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. [11] And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? [12] Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” Also, chapter 6: “[12] And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?… [30] And Moses said before the LORD, Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me?” How was Moses “of uncircumcised lips?”

Considering all that has been presented, we can see why Moses would be embarrassed to appear before an Egyptian pharaoh. Moses complained to the LORD that Pharaoh would not be interested in hearing from an “uneducated,” repulsive shepherd; thus, the LORD should not send him as His spokesman to the Egyptian monarch. Now, let us make some clarifications. It was not that Moses had a physical speech impediment or mental illness—as in lisps and other speech defects. Rather than a literal disability, the description is metaphorical. Moses was intimidated or nervous. Having left “glorious” Egypt long ago, he was now a “nobody.” Pharaoh would surely detect him as a non-Egyptian and a lowly shepherd.

Moses’ lips were “uncircumcised” in that—like the male reproductive organ still having the foreskin—they were thickened, elongated, blocked. Again, there was nothing physically wrong with Moses’ mouth, lips, or brain. This is figurative. His chief weakness was unbelief/fear. Instead of worrying about any potential limitations or stigmas he had, he should have relied on the LORD to compensate for and overcome them. This prompted the rebuke: “And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”

Also, bear in mind Israel’s bondage to Egypt was a serious, complicated matter that had spanned centuries. Moses contended, “God, You want me to get involved in liberating Israel?! How can I possibly negotiate with mighty Pharaoh? Even You know the Egyptians vehemently hate shepherds! Also, my speech is not polished or fluent as it once was! I do not know what to say to persuade Pharaoh!” The LORD replied, “So what if you are a loser in Pharaoh’s eyes! You let Me take of any weaknesses and difficulties you have, Moses!” (And, as we know, the LORD did!!)

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:25-31).

Also see:
» What was wrong with Leah’s eyes?
» Why did God want to kill Moses in Exodus 4:24?
» Why could Moses not enter the Promised Land?

If they were fulfilling Bible prophecy, how are Christ’s murderers culpable of wrongdoing?

IF THEY WERE FULFILLING BIBLE PROPHECY, HOW ARE CHRIST’S MURDERERS CULPABLE OF WRONGDOING?

by Shawn Brasseaux

If the Old Testament prophecies about Calvary had to come to pass, how are the Lord Jesus Christ’s killers guilty of misconduct? In other words, was it not Father God’s will that He die anyway? Were His murderers actually killing Him in faith instead of unbelief? These are some fascinating questions, and we tackle them now!

Let us consider some passages about Christ’s sufferings being predicted in the Old Testament Scriptures.

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:…” (Acts 2:22-23). “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled” (Acts 3:18).

Luke chapter 24: “[25] Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: [26] Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?… [44] And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. [45] Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, [46] And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:….”

Acts 13:27-29: “[27] For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. [28] And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. [29] And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.”

On the basis of these verses, some will argue the following: “Jesus’ killers were in no way guilty of wrongdoing. After all, the Law of Moses and the Psalms and the Prophets all needed to be fulfilled. Israel was simply following these verses by faith in order to bring prophecy to pass.” While the case seems weighty upon first glance, it is actually revealed to be defective. Go back to the above passages, and carefully examine them. The exact opposite is true. Israel killed Christ in unbelief. While Calvary was indeed a fulfillment of prophecy, Israel was in no way trying to cooperate with God.

Scripture refers to Israel as having “wicked hands” in her slaying of Messiah. Acts 2:22-23 again: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:….” Such was not the behavior of faith but rather unbelief/wickedness!

Let us re-read Acts 13:27-29: “[27] For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. [28] And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. [29] And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.” Christ’s killers were inadvertently or unintentionally fulfilling prophecy. Such unawareness could in no way be faith!

We consult Acts 3:17-18 now: “[17] And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. [18] But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” Could the Bible be clearer? Calvary was the result of Israel’s ignorance of Messiah, not her faith in Him.

Israel did not kill Jesus in faith. Their goal was to get Him out of the way so they could continue doing what they wanted to do. Such is the very definition of sin—that is, ignoring the Creator God, being your own authority, doing what you want to do. Unbelief was their motivation in crucifying Christ.

Read from John chapter 11, paying special attention to verse 51: “[45] Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. [46] But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. [47] Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. [48] If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. [49] And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, [50] Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. [51] And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; [52] And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. [53] Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” (Verse 51 suggests Caiaphas did not realize what he was endorsing in putting Jesus to death. God was using Caiaphas as a spokesman here, without Caiaphas’ consciousness.)

“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). Read the contexts of these verses. This was unbelief not faith.

Mark 11:15-18: “[15] And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; [16] And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. [17] And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. [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.” Luke 19:45-47: “[45] And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; [46] Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. [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,….”

“But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him” (Matthew 21:38-39). “But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard” (Mark 12:7-8). “But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?” (Luke 20:14-15). This Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen was Jesus’ illustration of His nation’s apostate religious leaders plotting to kill Him. Immediately upon hearing Him utter such words, they were convicted and outraged, finally conspiring to put Him to death! Such is unbelief not faith.

“And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet” (Matthew 21:45-46). “And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way” (Mark 12:12). “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. And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign [pretend] themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor” (Luke 20:19-20).

By the way, read Proverbs chapter 1, King Solomon writing about 1,000 years before Calvary. It describes Israel’s evil scheming to put Jesus on the cross, that He not reign over them: “[10] My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. [11] If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: [12] Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: [13] We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: [14] Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: [15] My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: [16] For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. [17] Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. [18] And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. [19] So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.” (This corresponds to the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, Israel’s apostate religious leaders conspiring against Jesus.)

Even at Jesus’ trial, these apostates Jews lied about Him so as to fabricate charges worthy of death (Matthew 26:59-62; Mark 14:55-59). Again, they put Him to death in unbelief. They were in no way attempting to kill Him in faith and fulfill prophecy. Had they been operating in faith, during the final phase of His trial, they would have claimed Him as their King. In reality, they were in unbelief, and cried out they had no king but Caesar! John 19:14-16: “[14] And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he [Pontius Pilate] 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.”

CONCLUSION

Although they fulfilled prophecy in putting the Lord Jesus Christ to death, apostate Israel was not behaving so as to fulfill prophecy. They thought they were operating independently of God. Neither puppets or robots, they crucified the Son of God. So as to not have Him reign over them, so as to keep their nation and religion for themselves, they sentenced Him to suffer the worst mode of execution ever invented! If we claim God manipulated them—“God said it had to come to pass and thus made them do it”—then we charge God with wickedness. After all, they had “wicked hands” in crucifying and killing Christ (Acts 2:23). It was not faith but doubt. Calvary was not an accident but premeditated murder. Israel plotted to bring it about, having no idea their refusal to accept God’s Son would ultimately bring about His master plan: His finished crosswork at Calvary was in His wisdom all along! For more information, see our study about “propitiation” linked below.

Also see:
» Who was more responsible for Jesus’ death, the Jews or the Romans?
» What is a “propitiation?”
» How could Jesus say His killers knew not what they were doing?
» How do God’s foreknowledge and our free will work together?

» Why did Jesus offer Himself to Israel if He knew they would reject Him?

Who was more responsible for Jesus’ death, the Jews or the Romans?

WHO WAS MORE RESPONSIBLE FOR JESUS’ DEATH, THE JEWS OR THE ROMANS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Israel and the Romans were both liable for Jesus’ crucifixion, as per Psalm 2, King David writing about a millennium beforehand: “[1] Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? [2] The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, [3] Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Just to be sure we are interpreting this correctly, we appeal to Acts 4:25-28: “[25] Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? [26] The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. [27] For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, [28] For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.”

“Heathen” are Gentiles, non-Jews, and they allied with the Jews (“the people”) against Jesus Christ. While they vehemently hated each other with a passion, they could agree in their rejection of God’s Son. Both Israel and Rome refused to have Him reign over them as universal King. Who was more responsible for Jesus’ death, the Jews or the Romans? If we look solely at these passages, it seems blame is equally divided between them. Yet, the Bible record contains other comments on the subject—and, as Berean Bible students, we should search the Scriptures to enhance our understanding here.

Although the Roman government—Judaean Governor Pontius Pilate representing it in Palestine—directly carried out Jesus’ death penalty itself, it was done so only due to Israel’s insistence. Pilate was determined to free Jesus, as he repeatedly pronounced His innocence (for example, see Matthew 27:23; Mark 15:14; Luke 23:4,14; John 18:38; and John 19:4,6). Yet, the Holy Spirit adds this salient fact: Israel, her apostate religious leaders encouraging her, demanded Pilate kill Christ anyway! The Jews compelled Pilate, going so far as to threaten him with blackmail. John 19:12 paraphrased: “We will report you to Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar if you do not give us our way in putting ‘King’ Jesus to death!”

Luke 23:22-24: “[22] And he [Pilate] said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. [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. [24] And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.”

Matthew 27:20-24: “[20] But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. [21] The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. [22] Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. [23] And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. [24] When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.”

Mark 15:8-15: “[8] And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. [9] But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? [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. [12] And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? [13] And they cried out again, Crucify him. [14] Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. [15] And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

When we consider the sermons of early Acts, the underscoring is on Israel’s killing of Messiah as opposed to Rome’s guilt in the matter. Remember, this is the apostles and preachers speaking as the Holy Spirit gives them utterance.

The Apostle Peter to Israel in Acts 2:22-24,36: “[22] Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: [23] Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: [24] Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it…. [36] Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Peter to Israel in Acts 3:13-15: “[13] The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. [14] But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; [15] And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.”

Again, Peter in Acts 4:10: “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.”

The 12 Apostles to Israel’s apostate religious leaders in Acts 5:27-33: “[27] And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, [28] Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. [29] Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. [30] The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. [31] Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. [32] And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. [33] When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.”

The Prophet Stephen to Israel’s apostate religious leaders in Acts 7:51-54: “[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. [52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: [53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. [54] When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” (As the succeeding verses testify, they killed Stephen!)

We recall the Apostle Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:27-29, spoken in the synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia: “[27] For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. [28] And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. [29] And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.”

THE FACTOR OF THE AMOUNT OF SPIRITUAL LIGHT REJECTED

In determining whether Israel or Rome was most responsible for Christ’s death, we need to bear in mind a prominent theme in Scripture. The amount of spiritual light rejected is one of the criteria God uses to judge sinners. For instance, read the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:20-24: “[20] Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: [21] Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. [22] But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. [23] And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. [24] But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”

At the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), the unbelieving Gentiles who did not have Christ ministering in their land will have a lesser penalty in the Lake of Fire than the unbelieving Jews who did have Christ preaching and performing miracles in their land. In the case of Christ’s rejection and crucifixion, who had the greater spiritual light? Was it the Jews or the Gentiles? The Hebrew Bible—God’s revelation—was given to Israel not the nations. If anyone should have seen Jesus as fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies contained therein, it should have been the Jews not the Romans. The Romans, like all other Gentiles, had been given over to Satan’s darkness at the Tower of Babel millennia earlier (see Romans 1:18-32; cf. Genesis chapter 11).

“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1-2). “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 9:4-5).

“And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:15-17).

“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:24-31).

WHO WAS ISRAEL’S CHIEF RELIGIOUS LEADER?

Thus far, we have discovered that Israel was more responsible for Christ’s death than the Romans. Yet, we can pinpoint one particular person within Israel as leading her rebellion against Him. Read John 19:11: “Jesus answered [Pontius Pilate], Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”

While someone would say this is Judas Iscariot, this does not seem to be the case. True, Judas delivered or betrayed Jesus to the Jewish religious leaders (Matthew 26:14-16,45-50; Matthew 27:3-4; Mark 14:10-11,41-46; Luke 22:1-6,47-48). However, it was the Jewish religious leaders who in turn betrayed Jesus to Roman Governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1-5,13). “Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?” (John 18:35).

Who was the chief religious leader of Israel at the time? It was Caiaphas, the High Priest, the President of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court). It was the Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus to death, but since the Jews were subject to Rome, they had to appeal to Roman Governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, to carry out the capital punishment of crucifixion.

We gather from chapter 11 of John: “[46] But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. [47] Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. [48] If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. [49] And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, [50] Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. [51] And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; [52] And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. [53] Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.”

Also, we survey chapter 18 of John: “[28] Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. [29] Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? [30] They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. [31] Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: [32] That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.”

CONCLUSION

Seeing as to Israel had the revelation from the one true God—that is, the Hebrew Bible or our Old Testament Scriptures—the Jews are more accountable for Christ’s death than the Romans. Pagan Rome (Pilate) put Jesus to death, but only after Israel pressured him to do so. While some blame falls on Judas Iscariot the traitor, the chief spiritual leader in Israel was Caiaphas the High Priest. Caiaphas was president of the Sanhedrin, and it was the Sanhedrin that sentenced Christ to death and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate for final condemning and ultimate execution by crucifixion.

SUPPLEMENTAL: GOD SET CHRIST FORTH AS A PROPITIATION

While sinful man (Israel and Rome united) was working with the hope of permanently getting rid of Jesus by killing Him, they were in fact fulfilling what the triune Godhead had decreed long before creation: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:…” (Acts 2:22-23).

According to Romans 3:25, the Pauline revelation, what sinful man did in unbelief, was God allowing rebellious creatures to afford Him the opportunity to offer His only begotten Son as a fully satisfying payment or sacrifice for our sins: “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….”

At this point, another important question arises, and we dare not ignore it. If they were fulfilling Bible prophecy, how could God fault Christ’s murderers at all? Were they not accomplishing His will? This is a very interesting inquiry, and we will consider it in the companion study linked below.

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Also see:
» If they were fulfilling Bible prophecy, how are Christ’s murderers culpable of wrongdoing?
» What is a “propitiation?”
» How could Jesus say His killers knew not what they were doing?
» What are the “sins that are past” in Romans 3:25?
» Why did Jesus offer Himself to Israel if He knew they would reject Him?