What is a “bolster?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Our Authorized Version uses this word on six occasions (interestingly, either with reference to King Saul or David).

  • 1 Samuel chapter 19: “[13] And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth…. [16] And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed, with a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster.”
  • 1 Samuel chapter 26: “[7] So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him…. [11] The LORD forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’S anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go. [12] So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them…. [16] This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the LORD liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the LORD’S anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.”

In a non-literal sense, we speak of someone “bolstering” their claim when they present evidence to support their position. If you can understand that, then you can see how Bible uses the term in a physical or literal sense in the above passages. In other words, think of a pillow or other support for the head (see 1 Samuel 19:13,16 where it is defined as such). Michal—David’s wife—put a “bolster” with an idol resting on it so as to impersonate David lying down in bed, thereby tricking his potential murderers. As per the verses concerning King Saul, he was sleeping with a spear and a “cruse” (container) of water near his “bolster” (pillow, or head). David took these items, but he did not take Saul’s life (although it was in his power to do so, since Saul was poorly guarded).

Also see:
» What does “subvert” mean?
» What does “discomfit” mean?
» What does “pernicious” mean?

What are “dregs?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Dregs” is found three times in the King James Bible:

  • Psalm 75:8: “For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.”
  • Isaiah 51:17: “Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.”
  • Isaiah 51:22: “Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:….”

As implied in these verses, “dregs” are something in a cup. Of course, this is figurative, but that does not detract from the fact a literal truth is being communicated. “Dregs” are the grounds at the bottom of the glass: they are the leftovers of the substance that has given the beverage its flavor, plus the last few remnants of the liquid itself. In Scripture, God’s righteous wrath against sin is likened unto a cup that sinners drink—and, as the LORD God promises, sinners will drink every last drop!

Also see:
» What are “victuals?”
» What does, “bray a fool,” mean?
» What does “gainsaying” mean?

What does “albeit” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Albeit” is employed only twice in the Authorized Version:

  • Ezekiel 13:7: “Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken?”
  • Philemon 19: “I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.”

You may be surprised to learn “albeit” is actually a shortened form of a familiar phrase—“although it may be that.” The false prophets in Ezekiel’s day are bold in preaching their lies, going so far as to claim the LORD is speaking through them. God asks them a rhetorical question (paraphrased, with the plugged-in definition): “You say ‘The LORD saith it,’ although it may be that I have not spoken?” In Philemon, the Apostle Paul is urging Philemon to accept Philemon’s runaway, now-turned-Christian, slave by the name of Onesimus. If Philemon were to argue Onesimus took from him, Paul reminded Philemon that Philemon owed him (Paul), so Philemon should receive Onesimus who took less (paraphrased, with the plugged-in definition): “although it may be that I do not say to you how you owe to me even your own self besides.”

Also see:
» What does “gainsaying” mean?
» What does “trow” mean?
» What does “had in abomination” mean?

What does “amiss” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The word “amiss” is seen four times in the King James Bible, whose references we now read:

  • 2 Chronicles 6:37: “Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;….”
  • Daniel 3:29: “Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”
  • Luke 23:41: “And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.”
  • James 4:3: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

Using these passages, we can begin by surmising “amiss” is a negative word. Chronicles equates it with sin or wickedness. In Daniel, it is presented with the term “against” (as in malicious words used to slander someone). Luke records the repentant crucified thief faulting the unbelieving crucified thief: whereas they are both suffering the Roman death penalty for their crimes, innocent Jesus, who has done nothing “amiss,” has been placed on a cross between them. Although James is rather vague as to its meaning (he is addressing unanswered—yea, rather “amiss”—prayer), enough information has been supplied in the earlier passages to give us a general idea of the definition.

Luke’s Greek word is “atopos,” literally meaning “out of place,” whereas James employs “kakos” or “evil.” Moving into English, “amiss” is from the Middle English “amis,” composed of “a–” for “any [as in a single item]” and “mis” for “wrong.” Therefore, “amiss” is another way of saying “improper,” “wrong,” “incorrect,” “astray,” or “faulty.”

Also see:
» What does “churlish” mean?
» What does “noisome” mean?
» What does “ado” mean?
» What does “subvert” mean?

Can you explain “of late” in John 11:8?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible relates to us in John 11:8: “His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” Of course, we do know what “late” means, so that helps us some. In this case though, it forms part of an English idiom that goes back to the early 1400s, and functions as a noun (thing) instead of an adjective (description).

Back in chapter 10, just a few months earlier, the apostate Jews in Jerusalem tried to murder Jesus Christ because of His claim of being the JEHOVAH God of their Old Testament Scriptures: “[29] My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. [30] I and my Father are one. [31] Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. [32] Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? [33] The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” Finally, verse 39: “Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,….” Jesus Christ left the area of Jerusalem.

In chapter 11, when Jesus’ friend Lazarus is sick near Jerusalem, messengers are sent to ask Jesus to come back to Judaea to help him. His disciples react most adversely: “His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” (John 11:8). The Jews “of late” are those who “lately” or “recently” sought to murder Jesus in chapter 10. Christ’s followers could not comprehend why He would desire to return to Judaea where, just a few months earlier, He was close to death.

Also see:
» Why did Jesus call men “gods?”
» What does “under colour” mean in Acts 27:30?
» Can you explain how Jesus “set his face” in Luke 9:51?

Why are the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 different?


by Shawn Brasseaux

There is one genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew, and there is another family tree of Him in Luke. Why are they not 100 percent identical? Let us find out! “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Specifically, Matthew 1:16 says, “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Luke 3:23 relates, “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.” These verses teach Joseph had two fathers—Jacob (Matthew 1:16) and Heli (Luke 3:23). How is this possible? Could this be a mistake in the Bible? Of course not. Do we not have two parents, each with their own unique genealogy? Remember, likewise, Jesus had both a biological human mother (Mary) and a legal human stepfather (Joseph). Naturally, one genealogy is Joseph’s while the other family tree is Mary’s. The question is, which genealogy applies to whom? And again, why is Joseph listed in Scripture as having two fathers?

According to the Old Testament, one particular Israeli king was never allowed to have children sit on David’s throne. This man was so evil that God said he would write him “childless” as touching the throne of Judah. We read about that wicked monarch in Jeremiah chapter 22: “[27] But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return. [28] Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? [29] O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. [30] Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah. Judaean King Jeconiah can never have any children sitting on David’s throne (he had children [1 Chronicles 3:17ff.], but they never served as kings of Judah). Yet, we find Jeconiah’s name listed in Matthew 1:11-12—the genealogy of Jesus Christ!

Let us review what we know thus far. There is a king in Jewish history (Jeconiah) who cannot have any children as heirs to David’s throne. Jesus Christ has this king in His genealogy. Therefore, Jesus Christ is disqualified from being king over Israel. This is a major problem because innumerable Bible verses describe how Israel will have Jesus Christ as her King forever. Several passages promise the LORD God will use a son of David to rule over Israel throughout the endless ages to come. Yet, Jeconiah’s “curse” disrupts that Davidic Covenant.

Second Samuel chapter 7 relates the Davidic Covenant: “[12] And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. [13] He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. And, Psalm 89: “[3] I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, [4] Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.” Finally, Psalm 132: “[10] For thy servant David’s sake turn not away the face of thine anointed. [11] The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.”

When Peter the Apostle delivered his famous sermon in Acts chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost, he preached how Jesus was resurrected to sit on David’s throne: “[29] Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. [30] Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; [31] He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. [32] This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”

How can the Lord Jesus Christ inherit David’s throne when Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew chapter 1 lists a king (Jeconiah) whose descendants can never inherit David’s throne? The good news is Luke chapter 3 does not contain Jeconiah’s name. Whereas Matthew has the royal line passing through David, Solomon, and Jeconiah to Jesus Christ (1:6,7,11-12,16), Luke has the royal line going through David and Nathan to Jesus Christ (3:23,31). David’s bloodline through his son Solomon was canceled because their descendant Jeconiah was too evil for God to reckon his children as being worthy of David’s throne. However, there is a viable bloodline of David in Luke chapter 3—David’s bloodline through another son, Nathan. Jesus Christ’s literal bloodline is Luke chapter 3, and this is the only way He can qualify to become King of Israel. Otherwise, the Davidic Covenant cannot be fulfilled. The genealogy in Matthew is corrupted: Jesus cannot have this blood flowing through His veins. All of this leads us to conclude Matthew chapter 1 is Joseph’s genealogy. Joseph’s genealogy does not affect Jesus because Jesus is not Joseph’s biological descendant. (In God’s wisdom, the virgin birth, or more precisely, the virgin conception of Christ, has been protected!)

Joseph’s actual father was Jacob (Matthew 1:16) whereas Mary’s father was really Heli (Luke 3:23). Mary’s father evidently had no sons, so his inheritance went to her (see the case of the daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 26:33, Numbers 27:1-11, and Numbers 36:1-11). The bride’s father adopted the son-in-law; that is, Mary’s father, Heli, adopted his son-in-law, Joseph, as though Joseph were his own son (Luke 3:23). (See an interesting parallel in 1 Samuel 24:16 and 1 Samuel 26:17,21,25. Here, King Saul calls his son-in-law David “son.” It would therefore appropriate for Heli to see his own son-in-law Joseph as “son.”) Joseph was Jesus’ legal father: thus, through Joseph, Jesus inherits the legal (Solomonic) right to David’s throne. Through Mary, Jesus inherits the biological/blood (Nathanic) right to David’s throne. This makes the virgin conception/birth of Christ absolutely critical to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.


Matthew’s Gospel Record presents Jesus as the King; Luke’s Gospel Record presents Jesus as the Man. Matthew emphasizes, “Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (1:1). That is, Jesus is the fulfillment of both the Davidic Covenant (throne) and the Abrahamic Covenant (nation and land—Genesis 12:1-3). Matthew emphasizes “David the king (Matthew 1:6; cf. Matthew 1:20; Matthew 9:27; Matthew 12:23; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 20:30-31; Matthew 21:9,15; Matthew 22:42)—Jesus’ royalty. Matthew chapter 1 goes back only to Abraham (verses 1-2). In contrast, Luke emphasizes Jesus’ humanity—Luke chapter 3 goes all the way back to Adam, the first man (verse 38). Fascinating!

Also see:
» Did Nebuchadnezzar appoint his own uncle or brother as King of Judah?
» Does Matthew 1:11 contain errors?
» Is “Cainan” in Luke 3:36 a “scribal error?”
» How could the conception of Christ be a sign to King Ahaz if Ahaz died centuries earlier?
» What is the real “Immaculate Conception?”
» Was Jesus born on the 25th of December?

Did Nebuchadnezzar appoint his own uncle or brother as King of Judah?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Neither. That is a misunderstanding of the Bible text. Let us look at verses for clarification:

  • 2 Kings 24:17: “And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father’s brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah.”
  • 2 Chronicles 36:10: ”And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem.”

Upon initial glance, it seems like King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon made his own uncle (2 Kings 24:17) or his own brother (2 Chronicles 36:10) to become King of Judah and Jerusalem. However, the possessive pronoun “his” in these verses points back to the prior King of Judah, not Nebuchadnezzar. We must do some intense studying to sort this out. Remember, it will get tricky because of alternate names, so we should pay extra close attention here.

According to Scripture, Mattaniah/Zedekiah was “the son of Josiah:”

  • 1 Chronicles 3:15: “And the sons of Josiah were, the firstborn Johanan, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum.”
  • Jeremiah 1:3: “It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.”
  • Jeremiah 37:1: “And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah.”

Being a descendant of David, Josiah was King of Judah and Jerusalem (2 Kings 22:1; 2 Chronicles 34:1). Josiah (see 1 Chronicles 3:15 above) had three sons with which we now concern ourselves.

Firstborn Johanan—apparently another name for “Jehoahaz?”—served as King of Judah once Josiah his father died in battle (2 Kings 23:30-34; 2 Chronicles 36:1-3).

Josiah’s second son, Jehoiakim (also called “Eliakim”), served as King of Judah after Jehoahaz was deposed (2 Kings 23:34-37; 2 Chronicles 36:4-8).

Jehoiakim had a son, Jehoiachin (also called “Jeconiah”), who was the next King of Judah. Jehoiachin was another evil monarch, so Nebuchadnezzar removed him from office and installed Zedekiah. Zedekiah (also called “Mattaniah”) was a relative of Jeconiah, not a relative of Nebuchadnezzar. By the way, the LORD declared Jeconiah/Jehoiachin childless with respect to an heir of his throne. While Jeconiah/Jehoiachin had children (1 Chronicles 3:17ff.), God prohibited all from ever being a king of Judah (Jeremiah 22:24-30). This necessitated the installation of Zedekiah instead of a son of Jeconiah/Jehoiachin. By the way, for more information on how Jeconiah’s curse requires the virgin conception of Christ, see our related study at the end of this article, titled, “Why are the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 different?”

We return to our opening verses now, adding the insight we have just outlined.

  • 2 Kings 24:17: “And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his [that is, Jeconiah’s; verse 15] father’s brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah.”
  • 2 Chronicles 36:10: “And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah his [that is, Jeconiah’s; verse 9] brother king over Judah and Jerusalem.”

None of Nebuchadnezzar’s relatives are under consideration here. At this point, there is another difficulty we must resolve, but this should be rather easy compared to the complexities we have seen already.

Was Zedekiah/Mattaniah the brother of Jehoiachin/Jeconiah (2 Chronicles 36:10) or his uncle (2 Kings 24:17)? He was both. How could that be? It is quite simple! They shared a forefather (Josiah), making them brothers in a broad sense. More specifically, Zedekiah/Mattaniah was the brother of Jehoiakim/Eliakim (father of Jehoiachin/Jeconiah). Therefore, Zedekiah/Mattaniah was the uncle of Jehoiachin/Jeconiah. For more information about Josiah being the patriarch of the final four Kings of Judah, see our Matthew 1:11 article linked at the end of this study. Also, consult our diagram below for a summary.

Also see:
» Does Matthew 1:11 contain errors?
» Why are the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 different?
» Do 1 Kings 9:28 and 2 Chronicles 8:18 contradict?

What does “chide” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

What does “chide” mean? Using context clues, we can guess the definition of this term that appears four times in the King James text:

  • “Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?” (Exodus 17:2).
  • “And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply” (Judges 8:1).
  • “He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever” (Psalm 103:9).

“Chide” has a negative connotation, and is related to unhappiness and displeasure. In Exodus, millions of thirsty Israelites complain to Moses that they have no potable, or drinkable, water in the wilderness. Concerning Judges, the men of Ephraim are irritated that Gideon did not involve them when he battled the Midianites. In Psalms, the LORD is angered that Israel has habitually broken the Law of Moses by worshipping and serving idols.

We can also mention the two past tense occurrences, which help us better understand the definition:

  • “And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass? what is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?” (Genesis 31:36).
  • “And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!” (Numbers 20:3).

Our English words “chide” and “chode” (etymological origin unknown) are the opposite of “praise.” All five passages have in common the idea of arguing or faultfinding, one party upset with another.

Also see:
» What does “churlish” mean?
» What does “implacable” mean?
» What does “choler” mean?
» What does “untoward” mean?
» What does “gainsaying” mean?

Who or what is “Ariel” in Isaiah 29?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Who or what is “Ariel” in Isaiah 29? “[1] Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices. [2] Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel …. [7] And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition [stronghold, fort], and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision.”

The context clue, of course, is found in verse 1. “Ariel” is a city, or, specifically, “the city where David dwelt.” This is none other than Jerusalem, whose Hebrew symbolic name here means “lion of God.” Jerusalem is likened unto a mighty lion, majestic and unconquered. Nevertheless, Gentile soldiers will attack and she will be humbled. This could be a reference to either Assyrian King Sennacherib (701 B.C.) or Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (606–586 B.C.), but it is definitely the Antichrist’s armies in the ages to come. Isaiah chapters 10, 30, 36–37, and 39 describe the Gentile troops targeting Jerusalem for its heathen idolatry, but how the LORD spares the city from total ruin. These historical events loop ahead to the Battle of Armageddon, when the Antichrist’s allies assemble to destroy Jerusalem. However, Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming to defend Ariel and overcome her assailants!

“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:1-4).

Also see:
» What is “Huzzab” in Nahum 2:7?
» Who or what are the 10 “toes” or “horns” or “crowns” associated with the Antichrist?
» Who are the “Cherethites” and “Pelethites?”

Was Jesus 50 years old during His earthly ministry?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Absolutely not! This idea stems from a misreading or misunderstanding of John 8:57: “Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” When unbelieving Israel posed this question, it was an expression of sarcasm and skepticism. Luke 3:23 informs us the Lord Jesus was approximately 30 years of age at the beginning of His earthly ministry. For Him to actually be close to 50 years old in John chapter 8 would mean His ministry lasted two decades—and no one believes that! Based on the calendars provided in the Books of Luke and John, we can estimate Christ’s earthly ministry spanned no more than three years. (For more information, see our related study linked at the end of this article.)

Jesus’ critics are using 50 as a standard to gauge His aptitude or reliability—not speculating about His exact age. For instance, if you were to say to a toddler, “You are not yet an adult,” you are underscoring a baseline. Until he or she has reached adulthood, the child is not an adult. In no way were you implying he or she is technically an adult or anywhere near adulthood. The number 50 in Scripture connotes maturity. For example, according to the Law of Moses, the Levitical priests could serve up to age 50. By that time, they were retired from their duties, but, having had many years of experience, they could train the younger men still active in the priesthood. They could also help in other functions concerning Tabernacle/Temple worship.

Numbers chapter 4: “[3] From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation…. [23] From thirty years old and upward until fifty years old shalt thou number them; all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation…. [30] From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation…. [35] From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation:…. [39] From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,…. [43] From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,…. [47] From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that came to do the service of the ministry, and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the congregation.”

See also Numbers 8:24-26: “[24] This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: [25] And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more: [26] But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.”

Let us go back to chapter 8 of John, Jesus addressing Israel’s apostate religious leaders who have taken offence that He is greater than their patriarch Abraham. Verse 58 relates: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” When did Abraham “rejoice to see [Christ’s] day?” Hebrews 11:17-19 gives us a possible answer: “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”

Indeed, Abraham did not fully understand why the LORD God instructed him to offer his son Isaac on the mountain in Genesis chapter 22, but we, with a completed Bible, recognize Abraham indirectly viewed what Father God would do when He would offer His Son on Calvary’s cross some 2,000 years later. Abraham, while not having a full revelation of God like we do in the completed Bible, saw the LORD providing a substitute for Isaac. That substitute would eventually be Jesus Christ.

Now comes John 8:57, the verse in question: “Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” They argue Christ is not even 50 years old, so how could He have had direct communion with Abraham? Abraham had lived and died some 2,000 years earlier, yet Jesus knew of Him and He had seen Jesus’ day?! Can you sense their sarcasm, their bewilderment, in asking, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” Remember, in Scripture, the number 50 connotes maturity. Since Jesus was only about 33 years old here, Israel’s religious leaders do not consider Him old enough to comment so boldly on major issues such as Abraham. Again, they are worldly-minded, seeing Jesus as just an ordinary man instead of viewing Him as the God-Man, from eternity past (“from everlasting;” Micah 5:2 King James Bible).

In response to their inquiry of verse 57, verse 58 tells us: “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” There is no question about it. “Verily, verily”—as in “surely, surely” or “absolutely, absolutely”—the Lord Jesus knew Abraham. After all, Jesus was a unique human: He was the God-Man, the Creator of Genesis 1:1 (cf. John 1:1-4), the God of Abraham. He had existed as a Spirit before He took upon Himself the form of a man. As a Spirit, prior to His incarnation, He had fellowship with Abraham. He had talked with Abraham, eaten with Abraham, walked with Abraham, and so on (Genesis chapter 18, for example). Jesus added a striking expression to bolster His claim: “Before Abraham was, I am.” This is, no doubt, a strong claim to Deity.

The special or bizarre form of “to be”—“I am” (present tense) rather than “I was” (past tense)—allows us to link Jesus to Exodus 3:14: “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” In keeping with John’s theme, Jesus Christ declared Himself to be the JEHOVAH God of the Old Testament: “I am the ‘I AM’ that was before Abraham.” We know this is exactly what the Lord Jesus intended, what He meant, as His audience responds most negatively in the next verse, assuming He had committed blasphemy and was worthy of stoning to death: “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59).


Every first-year Greek student knows the phrase “ego eimi” means “I am”—not “I have been” as deceitfully rendered in the “Jehovah’s Witness” (Russellite) “bible,” the New World Translation. To translate “ego eimi” as “I have been” is not only to demonstrate poor translation skills but also erroneous theology. The Russellites do not believe Jesus is JEHOVAH, which is why their perverted text reflects that idea. Here is just one of many examples of sectarian bias that can ruin any translation process; to wit, people are using preconceived ideas (denominational doctrine) to re-word the portions of Scripture that would otherwise contradict their theological system. If we can find one corrupt “Holy Bible,” there is bound to be another somewhere (and there are many)! We have all the more reason to keep and believe our King James Bible as our final authority.

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

Also see:
» How long was Christ’s earthly ministry?
» Why did Jesus curse the “poor” fig tree?
» Why did multitudes follow Christ during His earthly ministry?