Does John 7:53–8:11 belong in the Bible?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Textual critics question two particular 12-verse sections of Scripture, Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53–8:11. (For a treatment of Mark 16:9-20, see our study by that name, linked at the end of this article.) Our current discussion regards John 7:53–8:11, commonly called the “Pericope de Adultera” (Latin, “Selection of Adultery”), the passage involving the adulteress brought before the Lord Jesus Christ. Were these verses ever part of John’s original Gospel Record, or were they added later via oral tradition? In this special-edition Bible Q&A article #960, we want to examine this issue and establish a sound conclusion. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Here is the passage as found in the Authorized Version King James Bible:

“[7:53] And every man went unto his own house. [8:1] Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. [2] And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. [3] And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, [4] They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. [5] Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? [6] This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. [7] So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. [8] And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. [9] And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. [10] When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? [11] She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

We can now proceed to outlining and understanding the various observations concerning these 12 verses.

Click here for the PDF of the 29-page study.

You may also watch me teach John 8:1-11 by clicking here.

For our Mark 16:9-20 study, click here.

What is a “servitor?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

A “servitor” is found just once in the King James Bible. “And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat. And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the LORD, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the LORD” (2 Kings 4:42-44).

While archaic, its meaning is not difficult to figure out. We can discern a well-known word in “servitor,” can we not? A “servitor” is someone who serves, of course. In this context, it is a waiter or food attendant. The “servitor,” using limited human wisdom instead of Divine thinking, was quite astonished when he was ordered to use such a limited amount of food to prepare a meal for 100 people. Yet, because this was “the word of the LORD,” God was not limited. They all had enough to eat because the LORD multiplied the bread and corn (grain). By the way, in case you are wondering, this miracle of the Prophet Elisha is indeed a foreshadow or preview of Jesus Christ miraculously feeding the multitudes with so little food in Matthew through John. These are all miracles pointing to the blessings of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. See our related study linked below.

Also see:
» Feeding the 4,000 and feeding the 5,000—same or different?
» How should we handle the objection, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe!”?
» What is “cleanness of teeth” in Amos 4:6?

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

What are “collops?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

This is in reference to Job 15:27: “Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks.” Eliphaz the Temanite is describing the evil or unbelieving man, whose blasphemy is great and whose doom is certain:

“[20] The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor. [21] A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him. [22] He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword. [23] He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand. [24] Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle. [25] For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty. [26] He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses* of his bucklers*: [27] Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks.” (*For more about “bosses” and “bucklers,” see our related study linked at the end of this article.)

“[28] And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps. [29] He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth. [30] He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away. [31] Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence. [32] It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green. [33] He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive. [34] For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery. [35] They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.”

Eliphaz’ aggressive speech was actually directed towards suffering Job, whom “friend” Eliphaz had accused of being evil and thus worthy of punishment! Job had been so prosperous in chapter 1, but his many sins (according to Eliphaz) had finally resulted in his current trials and tribulations. He likened Job to a fat, wealthy man who has since lost all his affluence and health: “Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks” (verse 27). “Collops” are just folds of fat or flesh, indicating someone is well-fed. The etymology of this strange word is unknown, though it may be derived from the Scandinavian languages. Interestingly, the Old Swedish word “kolhuppadher” meant “roasted on coals;” there was also a Swedish term “kalops,” with the dialectical “kollops” being the name of a dish of stewed meat. Chunks or rolls of flesh on the human body is the sense of Job 15:27.

Also see:
» What is a “buckler?”
» What does “skin for skin” mean in Job 2:4?
» How could Satan access Heaven in Job and the Revelation?

What does “environ” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

This is a Bible word found only once in the King James text, and is quite easy. Contrary to what we might think, “environ” is not an archaic word, but rather a formal term for another word with which we are extremely familiar.

Joshua 7:9 reads: “For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?” What does “environ” mean?

Of course, a memory hint to aid us in comprehending this word is “environment,” taken from the Old French, literally “en”(“in”) and “viron” (“circuit”). An environment (noun) is the surroundings, so the verb form “environ” would therefore mean “to gather around or surround.” In the context of Joshua, the Jews have just lost their war with the city of Ai. Joshua fears that the Gentiles of the Promised Land, upon hearing the news, will enclose (encircle, encompass) Israel in battle and annihilate them. Related terms are “fetch a compass” and “in array” (see studies linked below).

Also see:
» What does “in array” mean?
» What does “fetch a compass” mean?
» What does “discomfit” mean?
» What does “haunt” mean in the Bible?

What does “in array” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

We wish to concentrate on the synonymous phrases “put… in array” and “set… in array.” Such an expression appears 25 times in the Authorized Version, and always with regards to conflict or war. Our memory hint is “arrangement,” as in an impressive formation or configuration of troops strategically placed on the battlefield and awaiting orders to strike opposing forces. Similar terms are “environ” and “fetch a compass” (see studies at the end of this article).

  • Judges chapter 20: “[20] And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel put themselves in array to fight against them at Gibeah…. [22] And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day…. [30] And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times…. [33] And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and put themselves in array at Baaltamar: and the liers in wait of Israel came forth out of their places, even out of the meadows of Gibeah.”
  • 1 Samuel 4:2: “And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.”
  • 1 Samuel chapter 17: “[2] And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines…. [8] And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me…. [21] For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army.”
  • 2 Samuel chapter 10: “[8] And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array at the entering in of the gate: and the Syrians of Zoba, and of Rehob, and Ishtob, and Maacah, were by themselves in the field. [9] When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind, he chose of all the choice men of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians:…. [10] And the rest of the people he delivered into the hand of Abishai his brother, that he might put them in array against the children of Ammon…. [17] And when it was told David, he gathered all Israel together, and passed over Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Syrians set themselves in array against David, and fought with him.”
  • 1 Kings 20:12: “And it came to pass, when Ben-hadad heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings in the pavilions, that he said unto his servants, Set yourselves in array. And they set themselves in array against the city.”
  • 1 Chronicles chapter 19: “[9] And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array before the gate of the city: and the kings that were come were by themselves in the field. [10] Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him before and behind, he chose out of all the choice of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians. [11] And the rest of the people he delivered unto the hand of Abishai his brother, and they set themselves in array against the children of Ammon…. [17] And it was told David; and he gathered all Israel, and passed over Jordan, and came upon them, and set the battle in array against them. So when David had put the battle in array against the Syrians, they fought with him.”
  • 2 Chronicles 13:3: “And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour.”
  • 2 Chronicles 14:10: “Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.”
  • Job 6:4: “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.” (Here, suffering Job wrongly assumes God is at war with him.)
  • Isaiah 22:7: “And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.”
  • Jeremiah 6:23: “They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.”
  • Jeremiah chapter 50: “[9] For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain…. [14] Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD…. [42] They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not shew mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon.”

Also see:
» What does “environ” mean?
» What does “fetch a compass” mean?
» What does “discomfit” mean?
» What does “haunt” mean in the Bible?

“For him hath God the Father sealed?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Can you explain, “For him hath God the Father sealed,” in John 6:27? Why, certainly!

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed(John 6:26-27).

Doubtless, the Lord had given them delicious bread and fish earlier in this chapter (the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 in verses 1-14), but the lust of their flesh has caused them to miss the essential truths of God. They strive to, they occupy themselves with the task to, partake of temporary physical food. As He fed them with material food, so He can provide them with spiritual food, eternal life through Himself—but this is what they are overlooking. They see the Lord Jesus Christ as nothing more than someone who can supply them with food to fill their physical stomachs.

Now, we reach the statement, “For him hath God the Father sealed.” Think of this as a seal of approval, like a stamp to confirm a document’s authenticity. Father God has endorsed or certified Jesus as true. “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not” (John 5:37-38).

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:16-17). “And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Mark 1:10-11). “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased (Luke 3:21-22). “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:…” (Acts 2:22).

Since the Father has “sealed” or endorsed Jesus, the nation Israel should accept and trust Him wholeheartedly—not superficially as in John 6:14-15. Furthermore, Christ Jesus is not to be viewed as a false prophet or an ally of Satan, which is what many Jews assumed He was in Matthew through John (for example, Matthew 12:24; Mark 3:21; Luke 23:2; John 7:12; John 8:13,48; et al.)

Also see:
» Was Jesus a glutton and drunkard?
» Is the Lord Jesus merely “the Holy One of God” in John 6:69?
» Why did Jesus offer Himself to Israel if He knew they would reject Him?
» How is Jesus Christ prophet, priest, and king?
» Can Jews who believe in God, the Father, but who reject Jesus, be saved from eternal damnation?
» How could John the Baptist question if Jesus really is Christ?
» Is Jesus Christ God’s “one and only Son” or “only begotten Son?”
» Why was Jesus water baptized?

Can you explain “reel to and fro” in Isaiah 24:20?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The Prophet foretells in Isaiah 24:19-20: “The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.” What does it mean for Earth to “reel to and fro?” Why is it behaving in this manner?

One helpful passage is Psalm 107:27: “They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.” To “reel” is to sway or rock back and forth, moving from side to side (“to and fro” the same as “to and from”)—exactly how an intoxicated person stumbles while walking.

Geology, or Earth science, is one of this author’s favorite topics. Seismic (earthquake) activity will increase substantially in the ages to come, as the judgments of Daniel’s 70th Week or the Tribulation period are meted out. Earth is convulsing, so its oceans, seas, and lakes will be disturbed and form tsunamis (seismic sea waves)! Moreover, objects from outer space will be pummeling the planet’s surface. These asteroids and meteorites will be enormous, to the point of resulting in substantial tremors. Volcanic eruptions will disrupt Earth’s bodies of water and rock too. Creation is undergoing extensive, terrifying renovations as Satan’s reign comes to a violent end and the Lord Jesus Christ returns to rule.

Here are excerpts from Christ’s Olivet Discourse (end-times sermon). “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7). “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows” (Mark 13:8). “And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven” (Luke 21:11).

The Apostle John summarizes the above verses with Revelation 6:12-14: “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”

We can also consider Revelation 8:10-12: “And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.”

“And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake (Revelation 8:5). “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven…. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail” (Revelation 11:13,19). “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great (Revelation 16:18).

Here are some other statements from the Olivet Discourse, events that will lead directly to Christ’s return itself: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:” (Matthew 24:29). “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken (Mark 13:24-25).

The above passages draw from Old Testament prophecies.

“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine” (Isaiah 13:9-10).

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations…. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?…. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come” (Joel 2:1-2,10-11,30-31).

“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:14-16). “The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,….” (Zephaniah 1:14-15).

“For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:6-7). The writer of Hebrews quoted this in Hebrews 12:26-27: “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”

Why is all this violent activity necessary? The LORD God is ridding the planet of Satan and his angelic cohorts: “That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it” (Job 38:13).

Also see:
» Are we “doom and gloom” Bible-prophecy believers?
» Why did Jesus tell Israel they do not know the date of His return?
» Is the Rapture in Matthew 24 and Luke 17?
» Is the Antichrist alive right now?

Is the Lord Jesus merely “the Holy One of God” in John 6:69?


by Shawn Brasseaux

John 6:67-69 in our 1611 King James Bible reads: “[67] Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? [68] Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. [69] And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Representative of the modern English translations derived from the Alexandrian or Critical Text of the Greek New Testament, the New International Version reads in John 6:69: “We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Other popular modern English versions that have that reading are: American Standard Version, Amplified Bible, English Standard Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, the Message, New American Standard Bible, New International Version, New Living Translation, New Revised Standard Version, among others.

We can offer at least two reasons why it is highly unlikely Peter would have styled Jesus as “the Holy One of God.”

Firstly, it would be incongruent with his other confessions. “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God(Matthew 16:16). “And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ (Mark 8:29). “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God (Luke 9:20).

Secondly, “the Holy One of God” was the title that devils or evil spirits gave the Lord so as to disrespect Him. “And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God (Mark 1:23-24). “And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God (Luke 4:33-34). That designation lacks the honor He rightly deserves, the worship the crowds of John chapter 6 overwhelmingly refused to give Him but Peter was more than willing to bestow upon Him.

Yet, following a minority of Greek New Testament manuscripts (especially Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, and P75), most modern English versions read “the Holy One of God;” the faulty Greek reading is “su ei ho hagios tou theou.” Contrast this with our Greek Textus Receptus and King James Bible translated from it, reading “su ei ho christos ho huios tou theou tou dzontos” (“the Christ, the Son of the living God”). For anyone with eyes to see, and a heart to believe, there is most certainly a difference between these two readings. Only the King James Bible reading glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ the most. For more information on the dangers of “textual criticism,” see especially our Mark 16:9-20 study linked below.

Also see:
» Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in the Bible?
» Does the King James Bible in Luke 14:10 suggest Jesus encouraged people to worship fellow humans?
» Which belongs in Romans 8:16 and Romans 8:26 in the King James Bible—“the Spirit itself” or “the Spirit Himself?”
» Why does the King James Bible say, “pisseth against the wall?”
» Why does the King James Bible say “nephews” instead of “grandchildren” in 1 Timothy 5:4?
» Should “church” be changed to “called-out assembly” in Acts 7:38 in the King James Bible?

Why did Jesus Christ Himself never water baptize anyone?


by Shawn Brasseaux

This question, while rare, stems from two Bible passages:

  • “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison” (John 3:22-24).
  • “When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee” (John 4:1-3).

Although John 3:22 seems to suggest the Lord Jesus water baptized believers, John 4:2 qualifies He had given His disciples authority to water baptize in His stead. As far as the record of Scripture is concerned, Christ Himself actually did not water baptize anyone. Why not? As least two answers can be offered here.

Firstly, it has been suggested Jesus did not water baptize people because He did not want to accrue people to Himself. Far better it would be for John the Baptist and Jesus’ disciples to water baptize, thus bringing disciples to Jesus, as opposed to Jesus bringing disciples to Himself (which would give the appearance of selfishness or egocentrism). This is entirely plausible.

Secondly, whereas John the Baptist’s role was water baptism, Jesus Christ’s function was Spirit baptism (Pentecost, Acts chapter 2) and fire baptism (wrath of Daniel’s 70th Week and the Second Coming). John served in his capacity, not conflicting with Jesus, and Jesus served in His role, not overlapping with John. John the Baptist’s words about Messiah Jesus in Matthew 3:11-12: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Also, Luke 3:16-17: “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.”

Also see:
» Do I need water baptism?
» Why was Jesus water baptized?
» Why was water baptism necessary in Israel’s program?
» Why did Paul water baptize?
» Why did Saul of Tarsus not refuse his water baptism by Ananias?
» How did the Great Flood’s water “save” the eight souls in 1 Peter 3:20?

What is “secondary separation?” Should we Bible believers practice it?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Primary separation is when someone withdrawals from those who teach anything contrary to sound Bible doctrine. Therefore, secondary separation means someone withdrawals from those who keep fellowshipping with those who teach anything contrary to sound Bible doctrine. As we will see, the Scriptures in no uncertain terms command us to practice primary separation. However, some contend that the Bible does not support secondary separation; therefore, they assert secondary separation is inappropriate for us. “Man-pleasing” aside, we delve into this most important topic. “For what saith the Scriptures?”


Dear friend, let us read and consider these five chief passages concerning primary separation. They are largely self-explanatory, so individual commentary will be limited. If we can see the purpose of primary separation, it will assist us in better understanding the goal of secondary separation.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed(Galatians 1:6-9). This word “accursed” is a teacher thrown out from the assembly, that he or she no longer spread denominational (legalistic) doctrine and distract from the doctrines of grace (Paul’s ministry and message, Romans through Philemon).

“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself(1 Timothy 6:3-5). “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

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

To summarize: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”(2 Corinthians 6:14,17). “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed(Galatians 1:8-9). “…[F]rom such withdraw thyself(1 Timothy 6:5). “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them(Romans 16:17).“…[F]rom such turn away (2 Timothy 3:5). Why should we resort to such “extremes” when dealing with false teachers or bad doctrine?

In the Scripture, leaven (a leavening agent such as yeast) symbolizes sin or false teaching. For example, Matthew chapter 16: “[6] Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees…. [11] How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? [12] Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.The Pharisees were nothing but religious hypocrites—hiding behind rites, rituals, and ceremonies to pretend to be God’s people when they were really working for Satan (see Luke 12:1)! As for the Sadducees, these aristocratic skeptics doubted the supernatural—angels, spirits, and resurrection (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Acts 23:8). These two sects of Judaism were some of the Devil’s most efficient tools to distract the nation Israel from Jesus Christ and God’s words to them. Even now, church tradition (like that of the Pharisees) and liberalism/rationalism (like that of the Sadducees) sidetrack us from God’s words to us through the Apostle Paul.

Regarding the confused local churches in the region of Galatia (recall Galatians chapter 1 from earlier), the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul penned these words in chapter 5: “[7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. [10] I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.” All Satan needs to mislead a local assembly is one person who has no interest in maintaining sound Bible doctrine. As a leavening agent spreads to the whole lump of dough to make it rise in its entirety, just a little amount of false teaching will grow and grow and grow and grow. What started as a single “harmless” errant soul is now an entire congregation “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). As soon as one person’s sinful flesh gets to working, everyone’s sinful flesh is pressured to behave likewise. Satan is most wise, and he knows just how to attack God’s people! Yet, friend, if we have God’s wisdom, Satan will not triumph over us.

We examine one last passage before moving to our next section. This is 2 Timothy 2:14-18: “[14] Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. [15] Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”

Honestly, if Christians actually believed and followed these verses in 2 Timothy, just about every local church around the world, every “Bible” college and seminary around the world, every “Christian” ministry around the world, would lose most of its funding and membership/enrollment. Denominational systems exist only because people do not “study… rightly dividing the word of truth.” (No wonder denominationalists hate dispensationalism!) If they do not respect the dispensational boundaries God the Holy Spirit placed in His Word, they are not serving the Lord and they are not using His Word His way. They do not recognize Paul is our apostle (Romans 11:13), that the Dispensation of the Grace of God was committed solely to him (Ephesians 3:1-2), that we follow Christ’s heavenly ministry as described in Romans through Philemon. Instead, there is a constant appeal to Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew to John) and/or the Law of Moses (Ten Commandments) for victorious Christian living. This is not what God is doing today. Paul’s epistles describe the Lord’s current dealings with man. Yet, if we are willingly ignorant of Paul’s special ministry and message (1 Corinthians 14:37-38)—and the majority are—then we will wind up with more and more spiritual darkness. “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16). These profane (common, unholy) and vain babblings (empty/worthless chatter) are God’s assessment of non-rightly divided Scripture and its resultant groups, sermons, books, and so on!

Let us draw our attention to 2 Timothy 2:17: “And their word will eat as doth a canker:….” The following entry is found for “canker” in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

γάγγραινα, -ης, , (γράω or γραίνω to gnaw, eat), a gangrene, a disease by which any part of the body suffering from inflammation becomes so corrupted that, unless a remedy be seasonably applied, the evil continually spreads, attacks other parts, and at last eats away the bones:….”

Dear friend, this is a graphic description of how evil doctrine is communicated from one person to another, one group to another. Imagine a disease that starts off affecting one small part of the body but, if left untreated, infects other areas. Remember, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump”—and here, “a little disease diseases the whole body!” Christendom has consistently tolerated false teachers in its midst for centuries, and look at all the error, confusion, and discouragement in more local churches and denominations than we can fathom. It is not God’s fault! He warned us 2,000 years ago that the risk was there and great. Ignoring these admonitions, we have no one but ourselves to blame. As Israel allowed herself to be polluted, so the professing church has followed suit.

We have discussed primary separation enough, so let us move on the controversial practice of secondary separation.


Should we depart from those who refuse to separate from false teachers and others who engage in additional ungodliness? Yes! Not only should we stay away from unbelievers who support and/or teach false doctrine, but also we should part from professing believers and even genuine believers who refuse to separate from them. Why? The fundamental problem is the same in both cases: they all pose a risk to our spiritual health, and the spiritual health of our family and our local church. Again, review the aforementioned statements regarding primary separation. The point is, we should avoid anything and everything that is contrary to sound Bible doctrine—no matter who or what says otherwise.

Any professing believer who is unsure about the necessity of secondary separation is simply advertising Bible ignorance. They are not familiar enough with the Scriptures to make an informed decision that would correspond to Father God’s thoughts. All we have to do is turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 5 and see the Holy Spirit through Paul encouraging secondary separation—even if it involves fellow members of the Body of Christ!

“[1] It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. [2] And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. [3] For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, [4] In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, [5] To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

“[6] Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? [7] Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: [8] Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. [9] I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: [10] Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. [11] But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. [12] For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? [13] But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

There was a certain Christian man in Corinth who was actually having sexual relations with his father’s wife (hopefully that was his stepmother and not his biological mother!). Such shameful behavior was common knowledge in the assembly, but no believer was mature enough to address it. The saints were gloating about it, finding pleasure in learning such news! Verse 6: “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” Watch verse 11!“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” Now, verse 13. “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

Why is this “brother” (Christian!) to be avoided? If he is allowed to remain in the assembly, Satan will certainly use him as a tool to destroy the spiritual edification of all these saints in Corinth! First Corinthians 5:6: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” That same principle is still in effect today. Do not keep company with an idolater… even a “believer” (verse 11). Idolatry is replacing God with someone or something else; it is also taking God’s words and putting something else in their place; it is also replacing God’s life (Christianity) with some other life (works-religion). As long as we fellowship with anyone dabbling in this, or associate with someone who communes with someone connected to this, we have rendered ourselves vulnerable to Satan’s merciless evil world system. If they have not separated from the world unto sound Bible doctrine, we must get away from them or be liable to falling with them!

One final passage, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15: “[14] And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. [15] Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” What is this context? Try verses 6-13: “[6] Now we command [not a suggestion but a commandment!] you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. [7] For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; [8] Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: [9] Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. [10] For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. [11] For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. [12] Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. [13] But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

We are to have no company with the person who is disobedient to the Lord’s words issued through Paul (especially the contents of his second epistle to Thessalonica—those who are lazy and refuse to work, those who confuse prophecy and mystery, and so on). We are to separate from those (even Christians!) who do not separate from the world. Secondary separation is Biblical and needful, just as crucial as primary separation.

Christians (genuine or professing) who compromise with the world and its non-Christian beliefs are particularly dangerous to us because:

  1. They are rebelling against a greater amount of spiritual light than someone who is completely unfamiliar with the Bible or Christianity. It is much more serious than an outspoken unbeliever, for a professing believer is expected to love the Lord and His doctrine. We have all the more reason to part ways with anyone who knows better and yet is not living in accordance with their knowledge. We expect lost people to act sinful, to have no spiritual judgment as to what doctrine is right and what doctrine is wrong. The same should not be said of Christians.
  2. They have a closer form of godliness than forthright unbelievers, so they will be Satan’s main avenue to influence us. “If this Christian is doing or believing it, so can you! How can it be wrong when Christians support it?” This deceptive mentality is ever so persuasive, and we can be sure the Devil will use anyone and everyone’s flesh—especially our own—to cause us to fall into that spiritual trap.

Also, if we do not isolate ourselves from those who do not separate from false teachers, they will have a larger following than they otherwise would not have had. Multitudes will appear to be in agreement with them, for practically no one will leave them. Then, with all those of their persuasion now in view, the natural man or the carnal believer supposes: “How can so many people be wrong?” Well, whether a thousand or a million, they are wrong! Neither the majority nor the consensus dictate what or what is not truth. Had the error been abandoned, had people left those who had not forsaken the error, far less people would be negatively influencing here.

If we do not separate from those who do not separate from error, then our testimony is compromised and we look cowardly and foolish. “No, I do not agree with them because their doctrine is wrong, but I see no problem with associating with those who commune with them.” Quite frankly, this is a turnoff to anyone who would value your spiritual advice. You are a hypocrite in their eyes and they will see your beliefs as nothing more than another reason why “religion” and “Christianity” are irrelevant and worthless. Lost people may be in darkness, but they are not stupid. They can spot and expose pretenders even when genuine Christians cannot (or refuse to)!

Once, this author was listening to a fundamentalistic (conservative) denominational preacher lament how he was unsatisfied with how another (albeit, liberal) preacher in his theological system was handling compromisers. The liberal man was diminishing the importance of separating from worldly or heretical believers, since he had a mind for defending men instead of doctrine. He was outright against secondary separation because he knew he would fall into disfavor with “scholarly” people, and he would lose funding and support from those who aligned themselves with his ministry and those apostate ministries he could not abandon. Surely, this situation has occurred far more than once in the last 20 centuries of church history.

As an extremely simple illustration of the value of secondary separation, go back to the comment about 2 Timothy 2:17 and “canker” (gangrene). An untreated disease will wreak havoc on other tissue or even bone. Now, let us imagine a certain infectious illness. Would it be proper to say this? “While I will not mingle with those who are sick with it, I, however, do not mind associating with those who have been exposed to it!” That is foolishness, yet that same nonsense is uttered when we refuse to apply secondary separation. People can be carriers of false doctrine just by letting themselves be constantly under it. Without thinking, they will speak or write what they have heard others say. Eventually, we will find ourselves using their language—and possibly sitting next to them in their pew too! Never forget this adage concerning apostasy, a falling away from the truth: “Big change takes longer to happen than you think it would, and then it happens faster than you thought it could.”


Both primary separation and secondary separation are Scriptural and equally vital to spiritually-healthy believers, Christian families, and local churches/ministries. We do not fellowship with those who teach non-grace doctrine (primary separation), and we stay away from those who have not parted with them (secondary separation). To be unconcerned with either separation, to deny one or both as needful, is just Bible ignorance (willful or deliberate is irrelevant). We do not separate primarily and secondarily out of spite or hatred for those with whom we disagree but we separate primarily and secondarily out of respect for God’s words and God’s house (our inner man, in which the Holy Spirit dwells, and the local assembly of Christians). “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We do everything we can to minimize the defilement of God’s dwelling place—that is, if we truly want to honor and serve Him!

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Also see:
» Can you explain 1 Corinthians 5:7-8?
» Are we immune to heresy and apostasy?
» Will God kill false teachers?
» What is the difference between apostasy and heresy?
» How do we identify false teachers?
» What is the greatest threat facing the Grace Movement?
» What does “Anathema Maranatha” mean in 1 Corinthians 16:22?
» How can false teachers sleep at night?
» Does doctrine really matter?
» Should we pray with people of various denominations?

» Are denominationalists deliberately lying?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» Should we read denominational literature?

» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?