Category Archives: BIBLE CONTRADICTIONS / CONFUSING VERSES SIMPLIFIED

Can you explain Galatians 3:17?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN GALATIANS 3:17?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul penned in Galatians 3:17: “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” Since this verse has several commas setting off phrases, it can be challenging to pair thoughts in a meaningful way. However, if we examine the verse in light of the context, it really is not difficult as originally assumed.

We will begin at verse 16: “[16] Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. [17] And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. [18] For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. [19] Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. [20] Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.”

The “covenant” at the opening of verse 17 is none other than the Abrahamic Covenant (see verse 16). Genesis 12:1-3 stresses what the LORD will do on Abraham’s behalf (grace) as opposed to what Abraham would do for the LORD (law): “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” God confirmed this agreement “in Christ” because it would depend on God’s performance. (Of particular interest here is the omission or removal of the words “in Christ” from the modern English versions, translated from a Greek text separate and distinct from the Greek Textus Receptus underlying the King James New Testament.)

Some 430 years after the Abrahamic Covenant, at Mount Sinai, Israel insisted on being under a performance-based acceptance system. This is the Mosaic Law, also known as the Old Covenant. Now, they would work in religion to become God’s people and receive His blessings if they obeyed Him. Of course, if they disobeyed Him, they would receive curses. This arrangement was certainly not like the contract the LORD made with Abraham over four centuries earlier!

Exodus chapter 19 records the exchange: “[1] In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. [2] For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. [3] And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; [4] Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” (Do you see God’s performance in verse 4—His rescuing Israel from Egyptian bondage?)

“[5] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. [7] And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. [8] And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.” (Do you see Israel’s performance mentioned in verses 5 and 8?)

Even though God made a second covenant with Israel (the Mosaic Law), Galatians 3:17 says it did not cancel (“disannul”) His preexisting covenant with Abraham. Israel would ultimately become God’s people because of His faithfulness as opposed to theirs. The LORD God made a promise to Israel’s patriarch Abraham, and He could never take it back. See Galatians 3:18: “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” However, Israel in her sinful flesh had to be taught this. Our sinful nature, in an attempt to “measure up to” or replace God’s righteousness, always wants to work! God had to prove to Israel it would have to be grace (His efforts), or nothing. Israel could never bring about the Abrahamic Covenant blessings in her own strength.

Let us turn to Romans chapter 4 for extra details: “[13] For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. [14] For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: [15] Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. [16] Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, [17] (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.”

Simply put, God promised Abraham “righteousness.” “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6). Once Abraham was justified, or had a right standing before God, he would be qualified to be “the heir of the world” (Romans 4:13). Righteousness was given to him by faith, not works, for (remember!) God was working on Abraham’s behalf as opposed to Abraham working on God’s behalf. The only thing grace accepts is faith!

Getting back to our original question, the Apostle Paul’s argument in Galatians chapter 3 is to simply show the Galatian saints the Law system is not advantageous to them any more than it was to Abraham or Israel. The Law was a temporary system, an arrangement God instituted so Israel could see she could not perform to get His blessings. It merely pointed out sin (Galatians 3:19), so it could not help the sinner become a saint or be justified in God’s sight (Romans 3:19-20). Israel had to learn God’s blessings would come solely from His faithfulness rather than her faithfulness. Likewise, in chapters 3 and 4 of Galatians, these members of the Church the Body of Christ had to realize Grace and not Law was God’s preferred method of dealing with them. Galatians 4:21: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” If necessary, read the entire Book of Galatians—and then read Romans chapters 1-8. Since the Galatians did not learn the basics of grace as found in Romans, they had to be retaught in Galatians! Even today, most professing believers in Christ struggle to understand such fundamental matters. This is because denominations and most churches constantly stress Law and ignore Grace. They do not rightly divide the word of truth, handling the Bible dispensationally (2 Timothy 2:15). Consequently, religious tradition has done more to harm than help souls.

Return to Galatians chapter 3 one last time: “[16] Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. [17] And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. [18] For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”

With a completed Bible in hand, we understand the ultimate “seed” of Abraham God promised him in Genesis 13:14-17 and Genesis 17:1-8 was Jesus Christ (cf. Galatians 3:16). It is Abraham’s nation that is in Christ (born again) who will be the heirs of the world, for it is Jesus Christ Himself who will inherit the world’s governments. (Lacking the prepositional phrase “in Christ” in Galatians 3:17, the modern English versions eliminate this connection.) As Hebrews chapter 1 tells us: “[1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, [2] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;….”

All believing children of Abraham—all Jews with a circumcision in the flesh and in the heart (Romans 2:28-29)—will be heirs of that Abrahamic Covenant. Concerning the Old Covenant or the Mosaic Law, the New Covenant will replace it at Christ’s Second Coming, and through Jesus’ shed blood it will take care of Israel’s sins committed under the Old Covenant (Acts 3:19-21; Romans 11:25-27; Hebrews 8:1-13; Hebrews 9:1-28; Hebrews 10:1-39). It is through the New Covenant—God’s grace—that Israel receives the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. Having come full circle, we can now close this study!

Also see:
»
Can you shed light on Galatians 3:20?
»
Was the Law of Moses given by the LORD, or by angels?
»
How many dispensations are there?

“Ye have the poor always with you?”

“YE HAVE THE POOR ALWAYS WITH YOU?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Sometimes, the Lord Jesus Christ is perceived to be callous or insensitive as touching the poor and destitute. After all, in Matthew 26:11, He said, “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” What should we conclude here? Was Jesus really being unsympathetic?

Come to Matthew chapter 26: “[6] Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, [7] There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. [8] But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? [9] For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. [10] When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. [11] For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. [12] For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. [13] Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.”

Upon first glance, Jesus seems rather cold-hearted. However, He in no way diminished the unfortunate plight of people disadvantaged and needy. Consider the background, and all will be clear. A woman anointed Jesus’ body with fine fragrance, so the disciples grew upset and exclaimed, “How she wasted that expensive substance!” They argued the aromatic herb could have been sold and the money used to help the poor. Jesus mildly corrected them for their confusion and mixed-up priorities. He would be alive for just a day or so more, so they needed to treat Him with respect while He was present with them. In the parallel passage (Mark 14:3-9), the wording is: “For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always” (verse 7). That is, “You will have plenty of other opportunities to help the poor, but you will not have another chance to do good to Me like this woman has just done!”

Indeed, He Himself had even spoken in Deuteronomy 15:11: “For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” The Jews should help the poor, should be compassionate toward them, but they should never confuse the creature with the Creator (Romans 1:25).

Also see:
» Was God unfair in striking Uzzah dead?
» Was God unfair to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» Why did God judge Nadab and Abihu so strictly?

Who was High Priest—Annas or Caiaphas?

WHO WAS HIGH PRIEST—ANNAS OR CAIAPHAS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible speaks of Annas as “high priest.” It also applies the title to Caiaphas. How can there be two high priests?

  • Luke 3:2: Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”
  • Matthew 26:3,57: “[3] Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,…. [57] And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
  • John 11:49: “And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,….”
  • John 18:13-14,24,28: “[13] And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. [14] Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people…. [24] Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest…. [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.”
  • Acts 4:6: “And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.”

According to Jewish history, Quirinus, the imperial Governor of Syria (cf. “Cyrenius,” the Greek form of the name, in Luke 2:1-2), appointed Annas to the office of High Priest circa A.D. 6. Annas served for approximately 10 years, before the Roman Procurator Valerius Gratus unseated him and replaced him with his son-in-law (full name Joseph Caiaphas). Caiaphas held the office until about A.D. 36, within a few years after Calvary. While Caiaphas really was the High Priest, his father-in-law Annas evidently still exercised a considerable amount of the power he had formally held. Pagan rulers and corrupt politicians pervaded Israel’s government during this time anyway, so we need not be surprised at the convolution. Annas lived to be quite an old age, supposedly having five sons who became High Priests!

The Lord Jesus Christ stood before both Annas and Caiaphas during His trial. Both men were unbelievers, bitter enemies even of His 12 Apostles in the early Acts period.

Also see:
» Who was “Herod?”
» Who was “Caesar?”
» Who were the “Herodians?”

Does Acts 7:43 have mistakes?

DOES ACTS 7:43 HAVE MISTAKES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Stephen’s sermon in Acts chapter 7 claims: “[42] Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? [43] Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.”

We can go turn the Old Testament Book of Amos to find the original quote. (Acts 7:42 says “the prophets” because Hosea to Malachi, while 12 Books in our Gentile Old Testament, were originally one Book in the Hebrew Bible—it was titled “the Twelve,” as in “Twelve Prophets”). Read Amos chapter 5: “[25] Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? [26] But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. [27] Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.”

If we are meticulous Bible students, we see two main points of controversy here. Firstly, Amos says “Chiun” whereas Stephen uses “Remphan” instead. Why? Secondly, Amos has “Damascus” but Stephen replaces it with “Babylon.” To what purpose?

The god “Chiun” is rather mysterious, so its identity is unclear. It may have been a statue to worship a pagan god associated with the planet Saturn (cf. “the host of heaven” in Acts 7:42). The Greek word “Remphan”—from Egyptian (?)—means “the shrunken [that is, lifeless].” God the Holy Ghost, speaking through Stephen (Acts 6:5; Acts 7:55), may have selected this word to underscore the lifelessness of “Chiun,” the false religion Israel had chosen. Whatever the idol’s name, it was still paganism and offensive to JEHOVAH God!

As touching “Damascus” in Amos, and “Babylon” in Acts, this is nothing more than the Holy Spirit through Stephen extending the initial prophecy so it encompasses a later prophecy. Amos was writing to the Northern Kingdom, Israel’s 10 tribes, which would soon go away into Assyrian Captivity (to the north, past Damascus—modern Syria). Judah, the Southern Kingdom, was exiled in the Babylonian Captivity approximately 100 years later (to the east, past Babylon—modern Iraq). Stephen, living many centuries after, replaces “Damascus” with “Babylon” to encompass all 12 tribes’ captivity in Gentile/foreign lands. In both cases, it was the fifth course of chastisement—God’s punishment on the idol-worshipping Jews (Leviticus 26:27-39)! Details concerning the Assyrian Captivity are in 2 Kings chapter 17; the Babylonian Captivity is found in chapters 24–25.

Also see:
» Does Acts 7:14 have a mistake?
» How did the Israeli patriarchs “resist” the Holy Ghost?
» Does Acts 7:16 have a mistake?
» Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?

Does Acts 7:16 have a mistake?

DOES ACTS 7:16 HAVE A MISTAKE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read the following excerpt from the Prophet Stephen’s sermon in Acts chapter 7: “[15] So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, [16] And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.” Everything looks fine—until we check the Old Testament cross-references. Now, things get complex… and some poor, worried soul cries out, “Look, we have an error in the Bible!”

JACOB’S BURIAL: “For his [that is, Jacob’s] sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre” (Genesis 50:13). Jacob was entombed in the land of Machpelah. His grandfather Abraham bought that land from Ephron the Hittite: “And the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city” (Genesis 23:17-18). Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 25:9-11), son Isaac (Genesis 35:27-29), and grandson Jacob (Genesis 50:13) were all buried here at Hebron.

JOSEPH’S BURIAL: According to Joshua 24:32, Joseph was buried in Shechem, what his father Jacob purchased from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem: “And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.”

Some argue Stephen in Acts chapter 7 condensed these two burial accounts into one. However, we do not believe Stephen was speaking of Jacob’s entombment at all. To demonstrate this, we simply read Acts again: “[15] So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, [16] And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.” Who was “carried over into Sychem [Greek form of Hebrew “Shechem”]?” The verb in verse 16 is “were,” so the implied pronoun is plural (“they”) not “he” (singular). Far better off we would be to apply “were carried” to the preceding nouns “he [Joseph], and our fathers [Joseph’s brethren].” Remember, as Joshua 24:32 just informed us, Joseph was buried in Shechem. Presumably, as Stephen says, all of Joseph’s brethren were buried there too. Jacob’s burial plot—and Abraham’s land transaction here—is another matter entirely.

We do not have to contend with any discrepancy between Genesis 50:13 and Acts 7:15-16. On one hand, yes, Genesis speaks of Abraham buying land from Ephron the Hittite. This was the eventual cemetery for the corpses of Abraham, son Isaac, and grandson Jacob. On the other hand, indeed, Acts refers to Abraham purchasing land from the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem (Shechem). This area ultimately became the cemetery in which Joseph and his brethren were disposed. Eliminating Genesis 50:13 as a companion verse to Acts 7:16 makes the matter considerably easier to handle.

The real controversy is between Joshua 24:32 and Acts 7:15-16. Who purchased Joseph’s burial land—Jacob or Abraham? Joshua claims Joseph was buried in land that Jacob, Joseph’s father, bought from “the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem.” Stephen in Acts asserts Joseph’s tomb was part of the property Abraham bought from “the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.” (“Hamor” and “Emmor” are interchangeable, as are “Shechem” and “Sychem.” Stephen’s words, part of the Greek New Testament, translate the Hebrew names found in Joshua.)

Abraham built an altar in Shechem back in Genesis chapter 12: “[6] And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem [that is, Shechem], unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. [7] And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.” Presumably, Abraham bought this land from Hamor’s family before erecting that altar. However, Abraham did not dwell here permanently, so the land reverted back to Hamor’s family. Evidently, Jacob repurchased it from them, and this matches Genesis chapter 33: “[18] And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. [19] And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money. [20] And he erected there an altar, and called it EleloheIsrael.” (Notice he bought the land before constructing the altar. We would assume Abraham did the same earlier.)

CONCLUSION

The supposed “contradiction” between Acts 7:16 and the Old Testament record is nonexistent. No errors exist. Filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:5; Acts 7:55), Stephen supplements the Hebrew Bible not “corrects” it. Here is our reasoning:

  1. Jacob was buried in the field of Machpelah, what his grandfather Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite (Genesis 50:13). Note: Stephen in Acts is not referring to this transaction or burial.
  2. Abraham bought the land of Sichem/Shechem/Sychem from the sons of Hamor/Emmor, and then built an altar there (Genesis 12:6-7; Acts 7:16). However, Abraham did not settle in Shechem. Consequently, ownership of this real estate reverted back to Hamor’s family.
  3. A few centuries later, Abraham’s grandson Jacob repurchased the land of Shechem from Hamor’s family (Genesis 33:18-19). Jacob’s son Joseph, and Joseph’s brethren, were buried in Shechem (Acts 7:15-16).

Also see:
» Does Acts 7:14 have a mistake?
» How did the Israeli patriarchs “resist” the Holy Ghost?
» Does Acts 7:43 have a mistake?
» Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?

Does Acts 7:14 have a mistake?

DOES ACTS 7:14 HAVE A MISTAKE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In Acts 7:14, the Prophet Stephen preaches: “Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.” A “score” is 20, so “threescore and fifteen” totals 75. You may not realize it, friend, but this forms the heart of a centuries-old debate amongst textual critics (Bible correctors).

The Old Testament record calculates 70:

  • “And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten(Genesis 46:27).
  • “And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already” (Exodus 1:5).
  • “Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude” (Deuteronomy 10:22).

How do we reconcile Stephen’s reckoning with that of Moses? Was it 70 or 75? One method—the easiest and laziest!—is to hold to the 70 of Moses as factual and dismiss the 75 of Acts 7:14 as nothing but a “scribal error.” This is unbelief rather than faith. We have a serious problem if we claim to be “Bible believers” but are willing to renounce it where it has “mistakes!” Another “scholarly” way people have handled this textual difficulty is by appealing to the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament supposedly written a few centuries before Christ. The Septuagint adds five names to the family tree in Genesis 46:20. As with the other route, this too is doubt not faith.

First, notice Genesis 46:20 in the King James Bible (and its underlying Hebrew Masoretic Text): “And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.” You will recall verse 27: “And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.” The Bible says 70.

Now, based on the genealogy listed in 1 Chronicles chapter 7, the editors of the Septuagint cleverly altered Genesis 46:20 so it reads this way: “And there were sons born to Joseph in the land of Egypt, whom Aseneth, the daughter of Petephres, priest of Heliopolis, bore to him, Manasses and Ephraim. And there were sons born to Manasses, which the Syrian concubine bore to him, Machir. And Machir begot Galaad. And the sons of Ephraim, the brother of Manasses; Sutalaam, and Taam. And the sons of Sutalaam; Edom.” Did you see how the (Greek) Septuagint modifies the Hebrew Bible here? Five names have been added—one son of Manasseh (Machir), two sons of Ephraim (Sutalaam and Taam), and one grandson of both Manasseh (Galaad) and Ephraim (Edom). Now, the “revised” total of verse 27: “And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in the land of Egypt, were nine souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob who came with Joseph into Egypt, were seventy-five souls.” Verse 27 has been forced to match Stephen’s words (75 people; Acts 7:14).

As opposed to trusting the “new” Old Testament as found in the Septuagint—which contains the Apocryphal Books as though they are inspired of God—here is how we think we should approach this matter from a Bible-believing (not Bible-correcting or Bible-corrupting) standpoint.

Genesis 46:26-27 says: “[26] All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six; [27] And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.” Scripture is clear 66 came with Jacob into Egypt. Joseph and his two sons (Ephraim and Manasseh) were already living in Egypt, bringing the number up to 69. Jacob himself would be the 70th person of “the house of Jacob” (verse 27).

In Acts 7:14, Stephen says the number of Jacob’s “kindred” were 75. Genesis 46:26 leads us to conclude the higher number incorporates Jacob’s daughters-in-law (his sons’ wives). The number 75 would have been even greater, but some members of Jacob’s family perished in Canaan before the household migrated into Egypt. For example, Er and On—grandsons of Jacob through his son Judah—expired in Canaan (Genesis 46:12). Also, Rachel, one of Jacob’s four wives, died in Canaan while giving birth to Benjamin. Neither did Rachel accompany them into Egypt (Genesis 35:19).

If we will correct the Hebrew Bible using the Septuagint (LXX), attempting to harmonize it with Stephen’s words in Acts 7:14, we have introduced confusion that would have otherwise not occurred! The extra five names in Genesis 46:20 of the LXX increases the number to 80, so we would then have to alter Acts 7:14 from 75 to 80. (And that would be an error!!) Again, relying on the Septuagint’s “dependability” is hopeless here—and, if we cling to it, we will surely fall to our doctrinal demise!! It only complicates an already difficult matter.

CONCLUSION

Contrary to popular belief, Acts 7:14 is not a “scribal error.” Stephen’s number 75 is appropriate because it tallies Jacob’s daughters-in-law, whereas Moses’ number 70 of Genesis 46:27, Exodus 1:5, and Deuteronomy 10:22 excludes them (cf. Genesis 46:26). Friend, retain and believe the King James Bible’s readings, and you will not be confused—here, or any other passage.

Also see:
» Does Acts 7:16 have a mistake?
» How did the Israeli patriarchs “resist” the Holy Ghost?
» Does Acts 7:43 have a mistake?
» Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?

Can you explain, “Strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel?”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN, “STRAIN AT A GNAT, AND SWALLOW A CAMEL?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

In Matthew 23:24, we find the Lord Jesus Christ voicing a bizarre censure: “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” How should we handle such unusual language?

Verily, verily, Matthew chapter 23 and John chapter 8 are Christ’s harshest words directed toward corrupt religious leaders. The Jewish nation to which He is ministering is largely deceived—and that is because its spiritual leaders have been willing participants of Satan’s policy of evil! He calls them “blind guides” because they lack spiritual eyes to guide Israel in the Word and ways of JEHOVAH God. These very religious leaders will, in rank unbelief, soon encourage the nation to demand Jesus’ crucifixion because they view Him as nothing but an imposter. Ironically, they are the men perverting the nation and leading it astray. The best word to describe them is “hypocrites” (a word Jesus uses seven times in Matthew chapter 23). Despite their nice external features, they are evil and faithless inside. Parading their “ceremonial cleanness,” they are still internally soiled!

So, what of the “gnat” and the “camel?” How do they factor into this matter? Why would the Lord mention them at all? According to the Mosaic Law, the gnat was the smallest of the unclean or non-kosher creatures in Palestine. Leviticus chapter 11: “[23] But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you. [24] And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even. [25] And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.” The camel was the largest unclean animal in Palestine, as seen in verse 4: “Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.”

In an effort to be as ceremonially clean as possible—not accidentally consuming the corpse of a tiny gnat—the Jews were careful to strain their drinks. However, Jesus pointed this out in sarcasm and hyperbole. They had the discernment to avoid eating a puny unclean gnat but lacked sense to prevent themselves from eating a whole camel! That is, they were more fixated on minor issues than major ones. Their priorities are mixed up. They cannot see the greater error! Hence, they were rightly termed “blind guides.” (The same could be said of religionists today.)

Also see:
» Did the Lord forbid public prayer?
» Can you explain, “They be blind leaders of the blind?”
» Should we be “fruit inspectors?”

With God “all things” are possible?

WITH GOD “ALL THINGS” ARE POSSIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In six Bible verses—involving four accounts—we read “with God all things are possible” or “with God nothing shall be impossible.” How should we approach these most terribly abused passages? Are there limits as to what God will and will not do? Or, can we “name and claim” whatever we want and, based on these Scriptures, expect God to surely bring it to pass without exception? Let us “search and see!”

MATTHEW 19:26 / MARK 10:27 / LUKE 18:27

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

Read Matthew chapter 19: “[23] Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. [24] And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. [25] When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? [23] And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! [24] And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! [25] It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. [26] And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? [27] And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Now, the parallel, Mark chapter 10: “[23] And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! [24] And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! [25] It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. [26] And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? [27] And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

The context has nothing to do with walking on water, performing a miracle of physical healing, receiving a “supernatural financial blessing,” and so on. As we can see, the situation is whether or not a man can save himself. The answer, of course, is a resounding NO! When the sinner is “performing” in religion—which performance can never be perfect—it is apparent works can play no role whatsoever in gaining eternal life. However, when God’s grace is involved, the sinner can have eternal life because God works on the sinner’s behalf. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10). “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

MARK 9:23

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

Read Mark chapter 9: “[17] And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; [18] And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. [19] He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. [20] And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.

“[21] And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. [22] And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. [23] Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. [24] And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Satan has afflicted this child for his whole life, so recovery looks utterly hopeless. For many years, he has suffered unspeakable physical and mental torture. His father, just like the Apostles, is not walking by faith. According to Jesus, “all things are possible to him that believeth” (verse 23). It is God’s will that Israel be delivered from Satanic bondage and influence—the tormented man symbolizes Israel’s spiritual captivity to the evil world system. The man’s father doubted Jesus could help (“if thou canst do any thing”—verse 22), but the Lord could and does! Although Israel could not deliver herself, all things that accompanied Israel’s liberation were possible with God. Satan had a firm grip on the nation, but God cures the man and proves He was infinitesimally more powerful!

MARK 14:36

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36).

Read Mark chapter 14: “[32] And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. [33] And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; [34] And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. [35] And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. [36] And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

On the night of Christ’s arrest, He is praying in the Garden, speaking to His Heavenly Father concerning His impending crucifixion. Jesus speaks of the “cup” of Father God’s wrath. This cup is that from which the damned souls of the ages drink, suffering under the endless righteous wrath of a holy God! “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9-11).

When Christ expressed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt,” He was asking if there was some way to pay for sins other than Him personally going to Calvary’s cross. Of course, the answer was a resounding NO! Doubtless, Father God searched out every imaginable plan, every conceivable idea, but there was only one plausible strategy. It would have to be Heaven’s best to die for Earth’s worst, or man’s sin debt would never be settled. Eventually, through prayer, the Lord Jesus Himself (both God and Man) realizes it and accepts it. He set aside His own will, choosing instead as a perfect Man to submit to His Father’s will. “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 26:39).

LUKE 1:35-37

“For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

Read Luke chapter 1: “[35] And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. [36] And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. [37] For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

Through God’s working, two children would be conceived. One was John the Baptist, born to a mother, Elisabeth, who was beyond childbearing years. Elisabeth’s cousin was Mary, and Mary had never been sexually connected to a man before. However, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to inform her the Holy Ghost would work in her—without the intervention of a man—to produce the human body of the Son of God. This was the virgin conception of Jesus Christ. Almighty God would work in bringing about the humanity of the Lord Jesus, and He would also cause His forerunner or heralder (John the Baptist) to be born as well. Both births were impossible with men, but not impossible with God.

CONCLUSION

While God intervened in Bible days to produce mighty results that physical eyes could see, we should be careful to understand He is doing something different today. The Bible says, “The Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). While God was dealing with Israel, He used miraculous demonstrations to teach them various doctrines. The physically ill were instantly cured. Children were conceived under miraculous circumstances.

However, we can read Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, and see how God is doing something different today. A drastic dispensational change occurred in the middle of Acts. Even the miracles that accompanied Paul’s “Acts” ministry gradually disappear as we move into his latter writings. The Lord’s “provoking” ministry to Israel—in Acts—was over. (See our related study linked at the end of this article.) Try as hard as we might, we cannot force God to do something He is no longer doing. (See our related study about “limiting God” linked at the end of this article.) God’s Word to and about us is Romans through Philemon, so we should walk by faith in this Divine revelation and not attempt to make God repeat something He did elsewhere in Scripture. That which is possible with God is only that which He Himself has already chosen to do by writing in His Book “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15)!

Although we in the Dispensation of Grace have not been promised financial blessings, physical healing (only at the resurrection—Rapture), or any other miraculous demonstration, the God of the Bible is still saving souls from sin and Hell as He was 20 centuries ago. Just as we read it was impossible for man to save himself in Christ’s earthly ministry, so it is impossible now. We must come to God by faith in Calvary’s finished crosswork alone: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Nothing we can do will please Father God enough to let us it into His Heaven. He is well pleased with His Son, Jesus Christ, so we must rely on His Son’s work if we are to please Him. Otherwise, our entrance into Heaven will be impossible!

Also see:
» Why could the disciples not cast out the devil in Matthew 17:14-21?
» Can you explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?
» Are we dispensationalists guilty of “limiting God?”
» Does God intervene in my life? If so, how?

Is “Gergesenes” a mistake in Matthew 8:28 in the King James Bible?

IS “GERGESENES” A MISTAKE IN MATTHEW 8:28 IN THE KING JAMES BIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Our Authorized Version has come under heavy criticism for an alleged “mistake” in Matthew 8:28. Moreover, to strengthen this argument, Mark and Luke as found in the King James text have been pitted against Matthew as found in the King James text. Here, through the eyes of faith, we will examine this technical issue and hopefully shed light on it to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Here are the three King James Bible texts we must consider:

  • Matthew 8:28: “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.”
  • Mark 5:1: “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.”
  • Luke 8:26: “And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee.”

Upon studying the contexts of these three accounts, we conclude they describe the same basic event (for more info, see our related study linked at the end of this article). Yet, there is one striking discrepancy, an alleged “textual error” of the King James Bible and its underlying Greek Textus Receptus. Both read “Gergesenes” (“Gergesenon”) in Matthew 8:28. However, in Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26, both have “Gadarenes” (“Gadarenon”). Which reading is correct? Did Jesus go into the country of the “Gergesenes” or the country of the Gadarenes?” Why does God’s Word provide conflicting accounts? How do we resolve the matter?

Textual criticism is often more of a burden than a blessing. However, we must look at the manuscript evidence in order to see what is going on:

 

MATTHEW 8:28 — “GERGESENES” (KJB) OR “GADARENES?”
King James Bible (“Gergesenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gergesenon”)

  • Gergesenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), New King James Version (NKJV), Wycliffe’s Translation, Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

Modern English versions (“Gadarenes”) following Critical Text (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – American Standard Version (ASV), Amplified (AMP), Contemporary English Version (CEV), Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims American (DRA 1899), English Standard Version (ESV), God’s Word (GW), Good News Translation (GNT), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation (NWT), Knox’s Translation (KNX), Living Bible (LB), The Message (MSG), Mounce’s Translation, New American Standard (NASB), New Century Version (NCV), New English Translation (NET), New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), Phillips’ Translation, Revised Standard Version (RSV), The Voice

 

MARK 5:1 — “GADARENES” (KJB) OR “GERASENES?”

King James Bible (“Gadarenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), NKJV, Wycliffe, Young

Modern English versions (“Gerasenes”) following Critical Text (“Gerasenon”)*

  • Gerasenes – ASV, Amplified, Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims American (1899), CEV, ESV, God’s Word, Good News Translation, HCSB, “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation, Knox, Phillips, RSV, Message, Mounce, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, Voice
  • (Living Bible has no proper name in Mark 5:1.)

* Some CT manuscripts read “Gergesenon” in Mark 5:1.

 

LUKE 8:26 — “GADARENES” (KJB) OR “GERASENES?”

King James Bible (“Gadarenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), NKJV, Wycliffe’s, Young

Modern English versions (“Gerasenes”) following Critical Text (“Gerasenon”)*

  • Gerasenes – ASV, Amplified, CEV, Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims American (1899), ESV, God’s Word, Good News Translation, HCSB, “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation, Knox, Message, Mounce, Living Bible, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, Phillips, RSV, Voice

* Some CT manuscripts read “Gerasenon” in Luke 8:26.

 

LUKE 8:37 — “GADARENES” (KJB) OR “GERASENES?”

King James Bible (“Gadarenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), NKJV, Wycliffe, Young

Modern English versions (“Gerasenes”) following Critical Text (“Gerasenon”)*

  • Gerasenes – ASV, Amplified, Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims (1899), CEV, ESV, God’s Word, Good News Translation, HCSB, “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation, Knox, Message, Mounce, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, Phillips, RSV
  • (Living Bible and The Voice have no proper name in Luke 8:37.)

*Some CT manuscripts read “Gergesenon” in Luke 8:37.

 

Having looked briefly at the Greek and English versions, and understanding why they read as they do, we move to analyzing the English words themselves.

GERGESENES

This term is found only once in the King James Bible (Matthew 8:28), and not at all in the modern versions because of dissimilar manuscript sources. While written off as “erroneous” (because Mark and Luke use “Gadarenes”), it is not a mistake. The Gergesenes were the “Girgashites,” a people native to the land of Palestine (Genesis 10:16; Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11; 1 Chronicles 1:14; Nehemiah 9:8). Gergesa was a city on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, precisely where Jesus is at the close of Matthew chapter 8. Both Gergesa and Gadara were east of the Jordan River.

GADARENES

The name appears thrice in the King James Bible (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26,37). Modern versions do not have it because their Greek source is different, and thus use “Gerasenes” instead. Gadara was a town east of the Jordan River, but there is no consensus as to its precise location. Some believe it was near the southern extremity of the Sea of Galilee. Others think it was more to the south, toward the northern end of the Dead Sea. To complicate matters, there was a town by a similar name—Gerasa. It was also east of the Jordan River, and roughly halfway between Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. See next paragraph.

GERASENES

This is not found in the King James Bible at all, but modern versions use it in Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26,37. Relying on a different set of Greek witnesses, the King James reads “Gadarenes.”

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

Matthew 8:28 reads “Gergesenes” in the King James Bible. Gergesa was a city on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Gergesenes are also known as the “Girgashites,” people native to the land of Palestine (Genesis 10:16; Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11; 1 Chronicles 1:14; Nehemiah 9:8). The modern English versions do not use “Gergesenes” in Matthew 8:28; they rely on another Greek manuscript reading (“Gadarenes”).

Mark 5:1 has “Gadarenes” in the King James Bible. Gadara was eight miles (13 kilometers) southeast of the Sea of Galilee, and was one of the 10 cities of Decapolis (cf. Matthew 4:25). The modern English versions do not use “Gadarenes” in Mark 5:1; they rely on another Greek manuscript reading (“Gerasenes”). Gerasa was the name of both a city and a region. The city was 35 miles (56 kilometers) southeast of Gadara—and in the same region, Decapolis, that Gergesa was.

Luke 8:26 and 37 read “Gadarenes” in the King James Bible. The modern English versions do not use “Gadarenes” here; they rely on another Greek manuscript reading (“Gerasenes”).

Everyone agrees all three cities—Gergesa, Gadara, and Gerasa—were east of the Jordan River. The English and Greek versions shuffle these names in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. However, it is best to follow the King James Bible readings here and not let the modern English versions distract us. “Gergesenes” is the correct reading for Matthew 8:28 (as in the King James). “Gadarenes” is the correct reading for Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26,37 (as in the King James). The modern versions are based on different Greek manuscripts than the King James Bible; hence, they introduced into the English-speaking world a name (“Gerasenes”) that merely sidetracks us. For over 400 years, English-speaking Christians have used the King James Bible. Only in the last 140 years has unbelieving “scholarship” encouraged them to discard that manuscript family in a favor of a so-called “older and better” new Greek text (resulting in a new English text, thereby introducing changes in terminology). That, in actuality, is a relinquishing of the Protestant Bible text of the Reformation (King James manuscript family—the Antiochan Text or Textus Receptus) to pick up a Roman Catholic text (Alexandrian perversions—the Critical or Alexandrian Text).

Except unbelief, we have no reason to correct any King James readings. Yet, even if we eliminate the conflicting readings the modern versions bring, we still have the King James Bible text at odds with itself. Matthew 8:28 in the King James has “Gergesenes.” Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26,37 have “Gadarenes.” Why? Remember, the miracle involved two possessed men (Matthew 8:28), but Mark (5:2) and Luke (8:27) single out one of those two. One man may have been from Gadara and the other from Gergesa, resulting in two proper names. Or, they were Gadarenes living in or near Gergesa. Or, maybe they were Gergeshites living in or near Gadara. Or, one region could have been known by two names (“country of Gergesenes”  and “country of the Gadarenes” being interchangeable). There are various ways to explain these differences, but the fact remains there is no mistake in the King James Bible. The mistakes are in the modern English versions because they rely on a Greek manuscript minority whereas the King James Bible depends on a Greek manuscript majority!

Remember, divergences in the Four Gospel Records are not contradictions or mistakes. Instead, they show their uniqueness. Mark and Luke did not copy Matthew, so they will not read word-for-word. John did not copy any of those three. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are four separate portraits of one Jesus Christ. They do not read word-for-word because they were not meant to read verbatim. Jesus is functioning in four separate capacities, fulfilling four different roles. Therefore, the Holy Spirit edited each Book to stand apart from the others. It is the same earthly ministry of Christ, but presented from four angles so as to highlight His four offices (Matthew as King, Mark as Servant, Luke as Man, and John as God).

Also see:
» Are Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-19, and Luke 8:26-39 the same miracle?
» Should we strive to distribute the Four Gospel Records?
» Are Matthew through John “Old Testament” or “New Testament” books?

Are Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-19, and Luke 8:26-39 the same miracle?

ARE MATTHEW 8:28-34, MARK 5:1-19, AND LUKE 8:26-39 THE SAME MIRACLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

There are a number of striking similarities between Matthew 8:28-34 and Mark 5:1-19. Does that make them the same miracle? But, what about the differences? How do we account for the variations?

MATTHEW 8:28-34

“[28] And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. [29] And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? [30] And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. [31] So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. [32] And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. [33] And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. [34] And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.”

MARK 5:1-20

“[1] And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. [2] And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, [3] Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: [4] Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.

“[5] And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. [6] But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, [7] And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. [8] For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. [9] And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. [10] And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.

“[11] Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. [12] And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. [13] And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand; ) and were choked in the sea. [14] And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. [15] And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 

“[16] And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. [17] And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. [18] And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. [19] Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. [20] And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”

LUKE 8:26-39

“[26] And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. [27] And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. [28] When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. 29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)

“[30] And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. [31] And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. [32] And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. [33] Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.

“[34] When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. [35] Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. [36] They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. [37] Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.

“[38] Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, [39] Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.”

Two main points of controversy surround these passages. One is a technical textual issue, which “scholars” claim is a “mistake” in the King James Bible. (See our companion study linked at the end of this article—why Matthew says “Gergesenes” but Mark and Luke use “Gadarenes.”) The second problem people have with these passages is Matthew 8:28 speaks of two devil-possessed men while Mark 5:2 and Luke 8:27 claim it was one devil-possessed man. Why is there this discrepancy? Is it a mistake?

Matthew presents Jesus as King, the rightful heir to King David’s throne. The “two men” are the two nations or two kingdoms that resulted after David’s son King Solomon sinned and died. Read 1 Kings chapter 11 to learn about the 12 tribes of Israel dividing into 10 northern tribes (collectively called “Israel”) and two southern tribes (collectively titled “Judah”). According to Jeremiah 31:31 and Ezekiel 37:15-28, Messiah (Jesus, Son of David) and the New Covenant will reunite Israel and Judah, that they become one nation as they were before. Matthew, in presenting the two cases of the two possessed men cleansed, therefore reminds his readers that the Lord Jesus Christ will one day exorcise Israel and Judah of their spiritual and political corruption Satan has brought upon them. Mark and Luke, however, focus on the single nation Israel God originally called Israel to be before Solomon ruined the arrangement with his pagan idolatry. For more info, read our “Matthew 20:29-34” study linked below.

Also see:
» What belongs in Matthew 8:28—“Gergesenes” or “Gadarenes?”
» Are Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43 the same miracle?
» Why does “overturn” appear thrice in Ezekiel 21:27?