Category Archives: BIBLE CONTRADICTIONS / CONFUSING VERSES SIMPLIFIED

Do 1 Kings 9:28 and 2 Chronicles 8:18 contradict?

DO 1 KINGS 9:28 AND 2 CHRONICLES 8:18 CONTRADICT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Concentrate on these two verses:

  • 1 Kings 9:28: “And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.”
  • 2 Chronicles 8:18: “And Huram sent him by the hands of his servants ships, and servants that had knowledge of the sea; and they went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and took thence four hundred and fifty talents of gold, and brought them to king Solomon.”

Kings has 420 talents of gold, yet Chronicles reports 450 talents. Have the critics, at last, found a mistake in God’s Holy Word? Let us consult “Christian scholarship.” Perhaps these “Bible experts” can resolve the matter for us.

HOW “BIBLE SCHOLARS” “HELP”

In one popular study Bible, this footnote appears at 2 Chronicles 8:18: “The difference between 450 talents here and 420 in 1 Kings is likely a copyist’s error” (bold emphasis mine). Another bestselling study Bible has this editors’ comment: “First Kings 9:28 reports 420 talents, probably accounted for by a scribal error in transmission” (bold emphasis mine).

Who wrote the above remarks? Atheists? No! Agnostics? No! Other non-Christians? No! With great trembling, we reveal the answer: they are “Bible-believing (?) church leaders!” As we can see, dear readers, scholarship can be quite the enemy of the truth. People trained in seminary (Bible cemetery!) have been instructed (brainwashed) not to believe the Scriptures… and they pass their nagging doubts on to us the commoners in the pew! After all, the transmission—yea, rather, the recovery or reconstruction of God’s “lost” words—depends on their advanced degrees. Although the Holy Spirit allowed an “error” to creep in through a copyist, they can be trusted to sit in judgment of the Scriptures and do what the Holy Spirit failed to do (give us the “real,” “original” Bible text). Extending their logic, what other numbers in the Scriptures could be “errors?” How could we trust anything in the Bible then?

Suppose some poor (!) Christian soul was dealing with Bible critics concerning 1 Kings 9:28 and 2 Chronicles 8:18. They badger him, “The Bible has errors!” He appeals to his “handy” study Bible for enlightenment. Horrors! He quickly shuts the cover, for the critics might use his Bible’s footnotes against him—if they have not already done so (having read it in their own “study” Bible earlier). (He needs to be sure to thank the “Christian” scholars who helped them… uh, I mean… helped him!) At this point, to say the Christian is embarrassed is the understatement of the century! He just might henceforth commence a lifelong crusade, speaking at colleges and churches around the world about how the Bible cannot be trusted. Countless souls are enticed, just as ready to rebel against the Lord, and off they go in the world launching their warped movements.

Dear friends, here is the pathetic state of affairs among God’s people. While the Church the Body of Christ has been in the world fighting abortion, pornography, drugs and alcohol, and homosexuality, it has overlooked a far graver sin. The Devil has been working within the leadership ranks of “Christianity” for many centuries, apostates and heretics causing millions upon millions to doubt the Bible… spiritually-perverted people WITHIN the church teaching lies as opposed to WITHOUT it! It is one thing to tell someone to disbelieve and discard the Bible (here is the position of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, et cetera). However, it is infinitesimally more serious to encourage someone to keep and correct the Bible (here is the “scholarly” opinion). The first position is at least consistent; the second is far subtler and actually hypocritical.

Let it be clearly understood: perhaps, next time, we had better not be so eager to appeal to “Bible scholars” when we should be listening to the Holy Spirit!

HOW GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS

Read 1 Kings 9:28 in context: “[26] And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom. [27] And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon. [28] And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.”

Now, 2 Chronicles 8:18 in context: “[17] Then went Solomon to Eziongeber, and to Eloth, at the sea side in the land of Edom. [18] And Huram sent him by the hands of his servants ships, and servants that had knowledge of the sea; and they went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and took thence four hundred and fifty talents of gold, and brought them to king Solomon.”

Both King Solomon and King Hiram/Huram are engaged in international trade. Of particular note is the gold of Ophir, which Solomon’s servants brought back to their king. The precise location of Ophir is unknown, but it may have been in southern Arabia, eastern Africa, the Persian Gulf, or India. As we have stated before, so we say again. In Kings, the amount of gold given to Solomon is 420 talents, but Chronicles has the total as 450 talents. Why are these values different?

Here are some facts from the Bible (if we care to see them, if we want to submit to God’s authoritative words, if we desire to “believe” the Scriptures as we claim we do!):

  1. Solomon has a “navy” or fleet of ships (1 Kings 9:26); Huram has “ships” (2 Chronicles 8:18). Is it possible there are at least four ships under consideration? Actually, there might have been 10, 20, or 30 ships—that point is irrelevant! Whatever the case, could 420 talents of gold have been on one of those ships, and 450 talents of gold been on another of those ships? Again, are we not dealing with more than one ship?! (Why have the scholars not given the Scriptures the benefit of the doubt? Should we trust the Scriptures [faith], or the “scholars” [doubt]?)
  2. We do not need to be mathematical geniuses to see “450” contains “420.” Perhaps 420 talents were on one ship, and 30 talents were on another ship, bringing the sum up to 450 talents. (Why have the scholars not given the Scriptures the benefit of the doubt? Should we trust the Scriptures [faith], or the “scholars” [doubt]?)
  3. According to 1 Kings 11:42 and 2 Chronicles 9:30, Solomon reigned a total of 40 years. As a dear brother in Christ (a Bible believer) once asked, was Ophir so far away Solomon managed to receive only one shipment of gold during those four decades—and that single delivery had to be either 420 or 450?! (Why have the scholars not given the Scriptures the benefit of the doubt? Should we trust the Scriptures [faith], or the “scholars” [doubt]?)
  4. Excluding these passages, there are many variations between Kings and Chronicles, even large sections of text unique to each. Should we relegate these dozens upon dozens of disparate portions to the dreaded status of “scribal errors” too?! Again, where do we stop with the doubts?! (We do not!)

We have just provided a few simple explanations to account for the difference between 1 Kings 9:28 and 2 Chronicles 8:18. It does take some mental effort, as can be observed. Nevertheless, the easier approach is to follow the “scholars” in their unbelief and dismiss the whole matter as a “scribal error.” Friends, here are our two choices—doubt or faith. May we choose the right (not left) one. (If you want an advanced, really “eye-opening” example of doubting scholarship, see our Mark 16:9-20 study linked at the end of this article.)

SUPPLEMENTAL

To put the values of the gold of Ophir into a modern perspective, the 420 talents (1 Kings 9:28) equates to approximately 16 tons (14.5 metric tons) and the 450 talents (2 Chronicles 8:18) is roughly 17 tons (15.4 metric tons). Each weight involves well in excess of (United States) $800 million! By the way, a “talent” was the standard measurement of gold weight in those days, for it was the maximum load a man could carry (2 Kings 5:23).

Also see:
» Does Acts 7:14 have a mistake?
» Is Matthew 27:9 a mistake?
» Does Acts 7:6 have a mistake?
» Does Acts 7:16 have a mistake?
» Is “Abiathar” a mistake in Mark 2:26?
» Is Matthew 2:23 a mistake?
» Is there an historical mistake in Luke 2:1-2?
» Is “Cainan” in Luke 3:36 a “scribal error?”
» Does Matthew 1:8-9 contain errors?
» Does Matthew 1:11 contain errors?
» Does Matthew 1:12 contain an error?
» Is there a geographical error in 2 Kings 2:2?
» Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in the Bible?

Did Jesus ride two animals on Palm Sunday?

DID JESUS RIDE TWO ANIMALS ON PALM SUNDAY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Holy Bible foretold in Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Of course, this was fulfilled 500 years later, when the Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday just a few days before His crucifixion.

Matthew chapter 21: “[1] And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, [2] Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. [3] And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. [4] All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, [5] Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. [6] And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, [7] And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. [8] And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. [9] And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”

While Mark (11:1-11), Luke (19:28-38), and John (12:12-16) report this occasion, the Holy Spirit led only Matthew (21:2-3,7) to mention the mother donkey. The other three Gospel Records speak of just the baby donkey (cf. Mark 11:2-5,7; Luke 19:30-31,33,35; John 12:14). Refer back to Matthew 21:5: “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” Here is the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of Zechariah’s prophecy, thus explaining the differences in wording. (Zechariah 9:9: “O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”)

One so-called “Bible scholar” struggled with and therefore voiced his disapproval of the King James’ wording of Matthew 21:5. (Recall 1 Corinthians 1–3, wherein “scholarship” and “natural man thinking” are condemned, for God’s wisdom is always foolishness to “wise” man, and man’s “wisdom” is always foolishness to God.) To the textual critic, the expression in Matthew 21:5 was misleading, for it suggested Jesus sat on and rode two animals:“sitting upon [#1] an ass, and [#2] a colt the foal of an ass.” However, the dear brother need only look at other verses to clear up his confusion (and we would do well to study them too!). Jesus rode one animal, the baby donkey:

  • “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him(Mark 11:7).
  • “And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon (Luke 19:35).
  • “And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt (John 12:14-15).

Remember, however, Matthew features the baby donkey and its mother: apparently, the mother leads the way and her baby follows. Matthew’s wording of the Zechariah quote reflects the presence of both animals. Read Matthew 21:5 again:“Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” If we expand Matthew’s verse by adding bracketed comments, the result is: “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass [baby donkey], and a colt [baby donkey] the foal [baby donkey] of an ass [mother donkey].” Again, Jesus is riding one animal (the baby donkey). The baby donkey has three titles (“ass… colt… foal”), the third appellation linking it to its mother (the final “ass”).

By the way, according to The Oxford English Dictionary, a “colt” is “a young, uncastrated male horse, in particular one less than four years old.” A “foal” is “a young horse or related animal.” Donkeys and horses belong to the same family, Equidae, so they can loosely share descriptive terms. Furthermore, “colt” may be related to the Swedish word “kult,” used to refer to boys or half-grown animals. Whether “ass,” “colt,” or foal,” all three are perfectly acceptable translations of the Greek nouns used to describe the one beast the Lord Jesus rode.

Someone would complain (and, as we have seen, has already grumbled), “Matthew should have simply written ‘sitting upon an ass,’ insinuating one animal! He should not have put ‘sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass!’ That sounds like Jesus is riding two beasts!” Again, the whiner need only do research (as we have done here)—but it is far too tempting and easier to carp instead of think! The explicative “and a colt the foal of an ass” provides extra information that loops back to the mother donkey featured in Matthew. Unlike the limited view presented in Mark, Luke, and John; Matthew (“sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass”) is highlighting the full scope of the Zechariah prophecy (“riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass”)! If Matthew is in error, then we must find fault with Zechariah as well.

Perhaps a simple illustration will suffice as a conclusion. Consider this statement: “The woman is married to her husband and best friend.” Is she joined to one man or two? No one—using common sense anyway!—would be confused here. It is one man viewed from two aspects. He is both her husband and her best friend. Likewise, we have Jesus sitting on an ass (baby donkey), the baby donkey also being a colt as well as a foal, and the baby donkey belongs to its mother (another ass present). Neither Matthew nor Zechariah have a problem. The difficulty is that sinful, “scholarly” man is like a donkey, refusing to submit to a Book, God’s Book, for man “always knows better than God!”

Why does the Scripture feature a donkey here at all? “For vain men would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt” (Job 11:12). Do you notice how the language echoes the words of Zechariah and Matthew? This is not by coincidence but by design. A donkey—noteworthy for its stubbornness—is the perfect symbol for sinful man. One reason why the Lord Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem was to demonstrate to Israel He could free her from bondage to the Law (loose the ass!) and make her submit to Him (He will ride her tamely into Jerusalem, His capital city, and she will enjoy subsequent Millennial blessings!).

“And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:9-10).

Also see:
» How could Israel welcome Messiah on Palm Sunday but then demand His death later that week?
» Why did Jesus offer Himself to Israel if He knew they would reject Him?
» How could Jesus eat the Passover if He were already dead?

If meat-eating occurred only after the Flood, who was eating the animal sacrifices prior?

IF MEAT-EATING OCCURRED ONLY AFTER THE FLOOD, WHO WAS EATING THE ANIMAL SACRIFICES PRIOR?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Not to diminish this question, but a scoffer once asked it in hopes of using it as a “gotcha” or “captious” inquiry. The goal was not to gain spiritual light but rather pose an unanswerable question to the Christian and make him look foolish. Provided we ask in faith, we will learn this is really a non-issue, a trivial matter, easily addressed.

Whether in Judaism or even pagan (heathen) religions, animal sacrifices were at least partially eaten: “And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy. And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy” (Exodus 29:32-34). “Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy. The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation…. All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy” (Leviticus 6:25-26,29). Various other verses throughout Leviticus read similarly.

The argument goes like this: If there were animal sacrifices offered before the Great Flood of Noah’s day, but there was no meat-eating until after the Great Flood (Genesis 9:1-4; cf. Genesis 1:29-31), then who was eating the animal sacrifices prior to the Great Flood? Scripture does not provide us with many details concerning the pre-Flood sacrificial system, but we can use the Law of Moses issued centuries later to understand the matter and answer the question.

See 1 Kings 18:30-41, when the Prophet Elijah proposed a test to see if Baal were God or JEHOVAH were God: “[30] And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. [31] And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: [32] And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. [33] And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. [34] And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. [35] And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.

“[36] And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. [37] Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. [38] Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. [39] And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. [40] And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.”

Pay close attention to verse 38, re-reading it: “Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” Now, go to pre-Flood verses such as Genesis 3:21: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” The first animal sacrifices are implied here, and we have no reason to believe God’s fire from Heaven did not fall upon these slain animals and consume them. Such would have also been the case with Abel (but not Cain) in chapter 4: “[1] And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. [2] And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. [3] And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. [4] And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. [5] But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”

Also see:
» How did God “testify” of Abel’s gifts?

» Why did God reject Cain’s offering?
» Can you explain Genesis 4:7?
» Why did God demand blood sacrifices?
» What did Jesus mean, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice?”

Was Jesus the “young man” in Mark 16:5?

WAS JESUS THE “YOUNG MAN” IN MARK 16:5?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No.

We read in chapter 16 of Mark: “[5] And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. [6] And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. [7] But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”

Although wearing clothes similar to Christ’s raiment on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:3; Luke 9:29), the “young man” of this passage in question could in no wise be Christ. Firstly, the man refers to Jesus in the third-person numerous times: he is risen… he is not here… where they laid him… tell his disciples… he goeth before you… there shall ye see himhe said unto you.” (He did not use first-person pronouns “I” and “me.”) If Jesus is said not to be present in the tomb (“he is not here;” verse 6), then the speaker could certainly not be Jesus, could He?

Secondly, Mary Magdalene alone saw the resurrected Christ first (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18). Several women were there in Mark 16:5-7, so the young man in the tomb could not have been Jesus. Thirdly, that young man is never actually said to be the Lord Jesus either. Remember, we should always be careful when making assumptions concerning Scripture. In this case, there is simply too much evidence favoring the young man being an angel and not Christ.

Before leaving, we must point out one significant feature oft overlooked: the young man” was actually a 4,000-year-old being. Angels do not exhibit age!

Also see:
» Do angels age?

» Are angels women?
» Do people become angels when they die?
» Did the disciples go to the wrong tomb on Resurrection Sunday?
»  How is mankind “lower than the angels?”
» Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in the Bible?

Can you explain Acts 19:13-16?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN ACTS 19:13-16?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dr. Luke penned the following in Acts chapter 19: “[13] Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. [14] And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. [15] And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? [16] And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” To the say the least, like many accounts in the Book of Acts, this passage is quite unusual. What is its implication? Why did the Holy Spirit include it in Holy Writ? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

If we start back at verses 11-12, we will see the contrast: “[11] And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: [12] So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” During this time of the Acts transitional period, “special miracles” in the Apostle Paul’s ministry are being witnessed. The Holy Spirit is endorsing or authenticating Paul’s apostleship (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:12): what He did with Peter, He is now doing with Paul. Israel should take note of her God working amongst the Gentiles.

Remember the Apostle Peter’s miraculous demonstrations in chapter 5 of Acts: “[12] And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. [13] And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. [14] And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) [15] Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. [16] There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.”

In the case of Paul’s healing handkerchiefs or aprons, these were used to heal the sick and cast out devils. Israel’s God, once working with the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant), is now working with Paul and the Body of Christ. The Book of Acts is the record of God’s transition from Israel to the Body of Christ, moving from prophecy to mystery. (See our related “Acts” studies linked at the end of this article for more information.) In stark contrast to Paul casting out devils (Acts 19:11-12), the Holy Spirit speaks of vagabond Jews unsuccessfully exorcising unclean spirits (verses 13-16). This documentation further reinforces the concepts of Paul’s apostleship and Israel’s unbelief during the Acts period.

To grasp the thrust of the verses, we run through Acts 19:13-16 again, this time expounding line upon line. Verse 13 once more: “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” These Jews are “vagabond,” wanderers or drifters. Here is national Israel depicted, apostate and unbelieving, not knowing where they are going doctrinally (or what they are doing spiritually)! Presumptuous, having been audacious in assuming upon themselves some supernatural power over Satan’s evil spirit minions, they attempt to use Paul’s apostolic authority (for they have none themselves). They therefore declare to the devils, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.”

Move to verse 14: “And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.” These priestly men—plus Sceva (“left-handed,” or weak) their father and leader—should be down in Jerusalem serving at the Temple. Instead, as noted already, they are roaming about near Ephesus (western Turkey). Their failure to uphold sound Bible doctrine proves fatal to their mission, as shown in verse 15: “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” This evil spirit recognizes Jesus’ authority and Paul’s authority, but rightly sees the sons of Sceva as defenseless. Unsurprisingly, charlatans do not intimidate a devil! Verse 16 informs us: “And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” To say the least, this failed exorcism was most embarrassing! Such a disaster proved these sons of Sceva were nothing but counterfeit miracle-workers (cf. Matthew 7:21-23).

The news of this spread to nearby Ephesus, as verse 17 relates: “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” Finish the rest of the account: “[18] And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. [19] Many of them also which used curious arts [witchcraft/occult/idolatry/philosophy] brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. [20] So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” This is actually the start of the church at Ephesus, to which Paul would write the Book of Ephesians many years later. Once these pagans heard how the evil spirit acknowledged Jesus’ power as well as Paul’s apostolic power, but refused to obey the sons of Sceva, these heathen converted to Paul’s ministry. Verse 15 again: “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?”

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 s 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:
» Could you explain Acts 19:1-7?
» Why does the Book of Acts end so abruptly?
» Can you explain Paul’s ministry during Acts?
» Can you explain Peter and the 11’s ministry from Acts chapters 7 through 15?
» Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?
» Should we use the word “demons?” Are they the same as devils?
» Why could the disciples not cast out the devil in Matthew 17:14-21?
» Does the Bible teach that mental illness is really devil possession?
» Is faith in Christ alone enough to go to Heaven? Do not the devils believe?

What is the “madness” of Luke 6:11?

WHAT IS THE “MADNESS” OF LUKE 6:11?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In the King James Bible, we read in Luke 6:11: “And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.” What is this “madness?”

Confusion surrounds the passage because modern English versions departed from the centuries-old standard English reading as found in the Authorized Version. According to the King James, Christ’s critics were “filled with madness.” However, modern translations read “filled with rage” (NKJV), “furious” (NIV), and so on. Is Luke stressing their anger here? We think not! By tampering with this word, modern versions have watered down a salient truth, removing the thrust of the verse.

The idea being carried with “madness” is insanity. In Greek, it is “anoia,” literally “without understanding or mind” (related to “paranoia”). The word is found one other time in the New Testament, and it is rendered “folly” (foolishness) in 2 Timothy 3:9: “But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” Whether the corrupt religionists in 2 Timothy 3:1-9, the Egyptian magicians opposing Moses in Exodus by counterfeiting God’s work, or Israel’s apostate religious leaders challenging Jesus, they are all spiritually senseless. They have been given over to the spiritual darkness and silliness they so preferred when they rejected God’s spiritual light and wisdom! Neither God nor His servants/preachers can reason with them.

As it was true of the Gentiles/nations at the Tower of Babel (Genesis chapter 10), as it is applicable of Bible-rejecters today, so Romans 1:20-25 is true of those unbelievers during Christ’s earthly ministry: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Verses 26-32 describe their additional nonsensical ideas and behaviors!)

Read the parallels of Luke 6:11. “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him” (Matthew 12:14). “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him” (Mark 3:6).They are irrational, and cannot be reasoned with. While they have their major political and religious disagreements, Jesus’ critics can all concur He needs to be taken care of. Too willfully blind to see their need for the Saviour, they are opposing the God-Man to the point of murdering Him!

In Acts 26:9-11, when the Apostle Paul is sharing his testimony, he recounts how he as Saul of Tarsus was another unbelieving Judaistic fanatic hell-bent on imprisoning and/or killing Jesus’ followers (cf. Acts 7:54-60; Acts 8:1-4; Acts 9:1-22): “[9] I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. [10] Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. [11] And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” Worse than Christ’s opponents in Matthew through John, Saul of Tarsus was also entangled with works-religion. Thankfully, Saul came to faith in Christ Jesus alone, throwing away his worthless self-righteousness and ridiculousness (Philippians chapter 3)!

For more information, refer to our “lunatick” companion study linked at the end of this article.

SUPPLEMENTAL: THE MADNESS OF MADNESS

Our English term “madness” can be traced back to the Middle English “medd, madd,” to the Old English “gemaed,” meaning “silly;” it is related to the Old High German word “gimeit,” meaning “foolish, crazy.” Although the Greek word is different (“mainomai”) from that used in Luke 6:11, the King James translators used “mad” to specify craziness as opposed to anger in five places:

  • John 10:20: “And many of them said, He [Jesus] hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?”
  • Acts 12:15: “And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.”
  • Acts 26:24: “And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.”
  • Acts 26:25: “But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.”
  • 1 Corinthians 14:23: “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?”

Also see:
» What is a “lunatick?” Is it an “epileptic?”
» What is a “demon?” Is that the same as “devil?”
» How could Jesus say His killers knew not what they were doing?
» Does the Bible teach that mental illness is really devil possession?

What is a “lunatick?”

WHAT IS A “LUNATICK?” IS IT AN “EPILEPTIC?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The King James Bible employs the word “lunatick” in only two passages, both in the Book of Matthew.

  • Matthew 4:23-24: “[23] And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. [24] And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.”
  • Matthew 17:14-16: “[14] And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, [15] Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. [16] And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.”

As the name implies, “lunatick” literally means “moonstruck.” It is not a mistranslation, as the Greek is “seleniazomai,” with “selene” meaning “moon.” This strange English name, dating back to the 14th century, was derived from the now-antiquated idea that the moon’s phases temporarily caused mental instability. Most modern English versions, however, retranslate it to mean “epileptics” (NKJV, HCSB, NASB, et cetera), “those having seizures” (NIV, ESV, et cetera), or the like. However, epilepsy seems unlikely because the ancient Greeks knew nothing of it. We should retain the King James reading and not change the Word of God, lest we lose the following insight.

“Lunatic” (KJV, “lunatick”) is not a technical word, but it was once commonly applied to anyone suffering various mental illnesses. The lunatics Jesus healed represented spiritually-insane Israel: Israel is not thinking properly, as she has refused and still refuses to let God’s Word transform her mind. We are warned not to fall into the same trap! “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). Sound Bible doctrine—especially Romans through Philemon—will guard us against spiritual lunacy!

As touching Christ’s earthly ministry, for many centuries now, the Jews have focused on pagan idols, empty works-religion, materialism—anything and everything but JEHOVAH God and the revelation He gave them! They are “filled with madness,” Luke 6:11 reports, to the point of attempting to kill the Son of God. In fact, they are so insane they accused Jesus of craziness (John 10:20)! Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul before salvation, was another “mad” man against Christ and His followers (Acts 26:11). For more information, see our Luke 6:11 companion study linked below.

Also see:
» What is the “madness” of Luke 6:11?
» What is a “demon?” Is that the same as “devil?”

» How could Jesus say His killers knew not what they were doing?
» Why could the disciples not cast out the devil in Matthew 17:14-21?
» Does the Bible teach that mental illness is really devil possession?

What does “suborned” mean in Acts 6:11?

WHAT DOES “SUBORNED” MEAN IN ACTS 6:11?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The term appears a solitary time in the King James Bible, Acts 6:11: “Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.” What does “suborned” mean?

Let us read the verse in context to get the thought: “[8] And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. [9] Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. [10] And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. [11] Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. [12] And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, [13] And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: [14] For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. [15] And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”

What we have here is yet another example of Satan fighting against God. The Holy Ghost is working through Stephen, but the flesh is operating in apostate Jews to resist God’s work. (After he preaches to them, they ultimately stone Stephen to death in the following chapter!) Unbelieving Jews argue with Stephen, but they are unable to match the wisdom and power of God evident in him. Therefore, they seek outside help in silencing him—and this is where the concept of “suborned” emerges. Simply put, they secretly entice some evildoers to join them in their rebellion or blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. (See our related studies linked at the end of this article.) These bribed men then lie about Stephen to the common Jewish people and leaders, intending on getting him executed. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16). “Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Deuteronomy 5:20).

Our English word “suborn” is from the Latin “subornare” (“secretly furnish or equip”). The  “sub-” is also the origin of the words “surreptitious” and “suspect”—carrying the idea of craftiness or secrecy. In the Greek New Testament, “suborn” is “hypoballo,” meaning “to throw in stealthily.”

Also see:
» Who were the “Libertines?”
» Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?
» Did Acts 7:60 predict the Dispensation of Grace?
» Have I blasphemed against the Holy Ghost?
» Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?

Does 1 Timothy 6:19 support Calvinism?

DOES 1 TIMOTHY 6:19 SUPPORT CALVINISM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No! First Timothy 6:19 is quite a simple verse, but it is difficult for some because a theological system has indoctrinated them and skewed their view: “Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Is eternal life something we must strive to obtain? Do our works save us? Must we give money to enter Heaven?

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO CALVINISM

Five points are central to Calvinism, the theological system that can be traced through Protestant Reformer John Calvin (1509–1564) all the way back to ancient church father Augustine (354–430). The acrostic “TULIP” is useful in remembering these tenets:

  • Total depravity is the idea that man is not only inherently evil (sinful), but is also completely unable to believe the Gospel until God regenerates him and then faith to be saved from sins or justified.
  • Unconditional election is the belief God chooses (“predestinates, elects”) who will be saved (go to Heaven) and who will be damned (go to Hell). Long ago, He determined this without any considerations as to who would freely choose Him or who would freely reject Him.
  • Limited atonement is the notion that Jesus Christ did not die for every single person, but for the elect only (those God had predestinated or chosen to save before the foundation of the world).* (*So-called “Four-Point Calvinists” reject this tenet.)
  • Irresistible grace is the idea that the elect (those God has predestinated or chosen to save) cannot ignore the Spirit of God’s “internal Gospel call” to be saved. If God has chosen them for salvation, they will be saved no matter what.
  • Perseverance of the saints is the belief that the elect will endure to the end with holy living. If one fails to have victorious Christian living to the end of his or her earthly life, that person is manifested to have never been one of the elect. It is this fifth point—perseverance of the saints—where Calvinists can apply 1 Timothy 6:19.

THE CONTEXT OF 1 TIMOTHY 6:19

As always, when we struggle with one particular verse, it is best to look at the context. The context restricts the meaning of the verse and makes its interpretation less ambiguous:

“[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. [6] But godliness with contentment is great gain. [7] For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. [8] And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. [9] But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. [10] For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows….

“[17] Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; [18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; [19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

The issue, of course, is material wealth. As we progress through the chapter, the focus becomes wealthy Christians. While prosperity is not a sin, it can become a snare if it is “loved.” If fixation on material goods consumes the Christian, then that is idolatry, as more and more is desired. “The love of money is the root of all evil,” verse 10 says. Covetousness, the Bible says, is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Affluent Christians are cautioned not to be arrogant (1 Timothy 6:17): social status and economic statuses are only temporary. Ultimately, all Christians are equal in Christ—regardless of gender, wealth, ethnicity, and so on. “Whether there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

In addition, wealthy believers in Christ are not to be lulled into a false sense of security (1 Timothy 6:18). Material goods are “uncertain” because we can lose them at any time. Illness, economic downturn, robbery, theft, natural disaster, and other dire circumstances can take our riches away. Ultimately, physical death will rob us of every material possession we own! “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

WHERE THE CONFUSION COMES IN

Some Calvinists, and others, will interpret the verse as follows…. Eternal life, getting to Heaven, is something elusive that we must try to grab. Eternal life must be sought here on Earth, holy living must be experienced here, but eternal life is not obtained until the very end of our earthly life. After all, a Calvinist has been taught to believe that he must “endure to the end to be saved.” In the Calvinist’s mind, eternal life comes after endurance, perseverance. Holy living must be pursued if eternal life is to be gained and Heaven is to be entered. This is how a Calvinist thinks about Christian living.

At this point, we need to pause and understand the three phases of salvation as taught in the Bible:

  1. Justification—God imputing His righteousness to the believer’s account upon the believer trusting in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for his or her sins (Romans 3:24-31; Romans 4:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). It is here that the Holy Spirit places us into the Church the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Read the first five chapters of Romans. We are given God’s life at this point; we immediately enter into an everlasting, personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ defined eternal life in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Justification is salvation or deliverance from the penalty of sin (Hell and the Lake of Fire). Once the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to our account, God can never and will never take it away. We are on our way to Heaven no matter what we do because Jesus Christ paid the price of our sin debt in full. Justification is a one-time transaction never to be repeated or revoked. Our faithfulness is not the issue; Jesus Christ’s faithfulness is!
  1. Sanctification—Since we have been set apart, moved from Adam to Christ, transferred from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, we need to apply this new identity to our daily life. What we have positionally (#1) should be brought down into our lives practically. In this phase, we are saved from the power of sin. This is an ongoing process, as we are to be constantly renewing our mind every day while studying the Bible. We should behave as though we are dead to sin and alive unto God. This is grace teaching, outlined most clearly in Romans chapters 6–8 and 12–16. Sin should be overcome every day. This is the experience and enjoyment of the eternal life we already have. Yes, all members of the Church the Body of Christ have eternal life, but precious few ever enjoy it on Earth. They have been misled to believe that eternal life is only possible after dying and going to Heaven. Going to Heaven is actually the third and final phase of our salvation.
  1. Glorification—We await this final phase of salvation, deliverance from the presence of sin. Unlike here on Earth, there is no sin in Heaven. Consequently, at the resurrection (Rapture), we will leave behind these old sinful bodies and receive new glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8; Philippians 3:20-21): our physical connection to Adam will be dissolved forever. We enter Heaven here, where there is no option to sin. God’s life will be experienced to the maximum. The glorified body will be fully equipped to glorify Jesus Christ in the heavenly places (Romans 8:18-25; Colossians 3:1-4).

If we look closely at the context of 1 Timothy 6:19, we will see where the Calvinist goes wrong. As we noted earlier, eternal life is defined as knowing the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ on an intimate level. Unsaved people—lost people, those in Adam, those outside of the Church the Body of Christ—do not have that close relationship with God because of sin. When they trust Christ, however, the barrier of sin is removed, and they enjoy unlimited access to God through the merits of Christ achieved at Calvary. Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 2:18, 1 Timothy 2:5-7, and other passages make that clear.

Reading 1 Timothy 6:19 in context: “[17] Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; [18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; [19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

Timothy was to order wealthy Christians not to become prideful/arrogant or idolatrous. Although it is not a sin to be wealthy, and they should enjoy the fruit of their labor, they could lose their fortune at anytime. Rather than being materialistic, they were to trust in the living God, the God of the Bible. He would never leave them or fail them. They were to be engaged in doing good. God wanted them to be rich in good works, and work in them so they would be eager to help and share with those less fortunate. Doing this would cause them to build up wealth in Heaven, a reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ. In engaging in good works, they would lay hold on eternal life. Again, this is not people trying to become Christians, making themselves Christians. This is people who are already Christians. Now, they need to behave like the Christians that they are.

Here is where we guard against the errors of Calvinism, and other types of works-religion. Eternal life is already ours, positionally speaking. We already have God’s life. But are we enjoying it now? Have we taken advantage of it? Is there a practical application of it? Are we living selfishly? If we are, we are not living the eternal life we have been given in Christ. Are we living with only the “here and now” in view? If so, we are not living the eternal life we have been given in Christ. God thinks that there is something more important than earthly possessions, something more important than being consumed by greed for material gain. Do we agree? Are we willing to meet the needs of those who could use our help? Will we idolize our material goods instead of worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ? Again, this is practical, daily Christian living. We make conscious decisions about it. If our life is contrary to these verses, then we need to be responsible and fix the problem. We must take our stand by faith in these simple truths. Otherwise, the eternal life we have in Christ has no impact right now.

Notice 1 Timothy 6:12: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” Not only was Timothy to instruct rich people, he himself was instructed to “lay hold on eternal life.” Again, this has nothing to do with entering Heaven and nothing to do with trying to work toward Heaven; it has everything to do with a Christian enjoying his spiritual blessings right now on Earth! Are we studying the Bible rightly divided to learn about the provisions Father God has given us in Christ? Or, are we—like most—ignorant of those spiritual blessings (through lack of study, or denominational indoctrination, et cetera)? Are we begging God to give us what He has already given us in Christ? Are we living as God intended Christians to live, or are we living like the lost people we used to be? Then, we have not yet grasped, fathomed and implemented, the “eternal life” we have been given!

SUPPLEMENTAL: “LAY HOLD”

According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, the words “lay hold” in Greek are:

“ἐπιλαμβάνομαι epilambánomai, ep-ee-lam-ban’-om-ahee; middle voice from G1909 and G2983; to seize (for help, injury, attainment, or any other purpose; literally or figuratively):—catch, lay hold (up-)on, take (by, hold of, on).”

The word appears 19 times in the King James Greek and is translated in the following manner: “take” (7 times), “take by” (3 times), “catch” (2 times), “take on” (2 times), “lay hold on” (2 times), “take hold of” (2 times), “lay hold upon” (1 times).

It describes Jesus when He “caught” sinking Peter (Matthew 14:31), Jesus “took” the blind man by the hand (Mark 8:23), Jesus “took” a child and sat him down by Him (Luke 9:47), Jesus “took” the man suffering from dropsy/edema (Luke 14:4), Israel’s hypocritical religious leaders trying to “take hold” or seize Jesus’ words that could be used against Him (Luke 20:20,26), the men “laid hold upon” Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus’ cross (Luke 23:26), Barnabas “took” Saul/Paul and brought him to the Jerusalem apostles (Acts 9:27), the slave girl’s masters “caught” Paul and Silas (Acts 16:19), the Athenian philosophers “took” Paul and brought him to Mars’ Hill to teach them (Acts 17:19), the Greeks “took” Sosthenes the Christian and physically beat him (Acts 18:17), the Jews “took” Paul and throw him out of the Jerusalem Temple (Acts 21:30), the chief captain of a Roman army “took” Paul and had him bound with two chains (Acts 21:33), the chief captain “took” Paul’s nephew aside (Acts 23:19), Timothy was told to “lay hold on” eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12), rich Christians were instructed to “lay hold on” eternal life (1 Timothy 6:19), Jesus Christ “took not on” the nature of angels but “took on” the seed of Abraham (Hebrews 2:16), and God “took” Israel by the hand to lead them from Egyptian slavery (Hebrews 8:9).

Also see:
» Does Romans 9:20-21 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 2:47 support Calvinism?
» Does Acts 13:48 support Calvinism?
» Does John 6:29 support Calvinism?
» Does Romans 9:14-18 support Calvinism?

Is “Cainan” in Luke 3:36 a “scribal error?”

IS “CAINAN” IN LUKE 3:36 A “SCRIBAL ERROR?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Concerning Jesus’ genealogy through His mother Mary, we read in Luke 3:35-36: “[35] Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, [36] Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech,….” Since the name “Cainan” (verse 36) does not appear in Genesis or 1 Chronicles, it is assumed to be a “scribal error.” Is that the Bible-believing position? No! Then, how do we in faith reconcile Luke’s deviation from the Old Testament family trees he was quoting?

Luke is tracing Jesus’ bloodline in reverse, so when we arrange the names chronologically, they are as follows (verses 35-36): Lamech, Noe, Sem, Arphaxad, Cainan, Salah, Heber, Phalec, Ragau, Saruch. Having organized these names to correspond to the Old Testament order, we now compare Luke to the parallel verses:

  • Genesis 10:24: “And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.”
  • Genesis 11:11-15: “[11] And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. [12] And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: [13] And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. [14] And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: [15] And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.”
  • 1 Chronicles 1:18,24-25: “[18] And Arphaxad begat Shelah, and Shelah begat Eber…. [24] Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, [25] Eber, Peleg, Reu,….”

The spelling variations can be accounted for as follows: Luke is writing in Greek, whereas Moses (Genesis) and the Chronicler (Chronicles) are writing in Hebrew. Moreover, as you discerned, there is one other discrepancy, and that is the focus of this article. Why does Luke add a “Cainan” between Arphaxad and Salah/Shelah?

Doubtless, the most common explanation is some ancient copyist accidentally looked at “Cainan” of verse 38 and incorrectly inserted it into verse 36. This phenomenon is called “homeoteleuton” (“having the same end”), common with transcriptions. We cannot and do not accept careless duplication as the reason for the “Cainan” of verse 38. It was an intentional addition of the Holy Spirit, and we will outline our reasoning here.

By the way, Luke 3:36 cannot be written off as a “King James” error either, since both the Textus Receptus of the Authorized Version and the Critical Text underlying modern English versions include the name “Cainan” or “Cainam” here. Of all the manuscripts containing Luke 3:36, only two witnesses omit this “Cainan”—papyrus P75 (A.D. 2nd/3rd century) and Codex D/Bezae (A.D 450–550). However, it should be pointed out, textual critics are not entirely sure as to the original reading of P75 here anyway. Thus, only one manuscript is without “Cainan” for certain. Could a transcription error (homeoteleuton) account for nearly all manuscripts but one having it?! Ridiculous!

Genealogies not matching verbatim is not exclusive to Luke. For example, in Matthew 1:8-9, Matthew eliminated three names found in the Old Testament genealogical records—Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah. This was done for two reasons. Firstly, these men were idolaters, which Cainan may have been as well (and thus prompted the Holy Spirit through Moses and the Chronicler to omit him from their records). Secondly, Matthew’s intention was to make three sets of 14 generations (Abraham to David, David to Babylon, and Babylon to Christ). Those three names would have made 17, offsetting Matthew’s symmetry. Also, at verse 11, Matthew stresses Jeconiah but makes no reference to Zedekiah. Plus, there is a question as to who Zerubbabel’s father actually is. (For more information, see our related Matthew studies linked at the end of this article.)

Likewise, Luke is not word-for-word with his Old Testament family trees. In fact, by adding Cainan to verse 36, the Holy Spirit through Luke totals 77 generations from Adam to Christ (thus perfectly divisible by seven, the Bible’s number of perfection or completion). Jesus is the perfect Man, “the son of” appearing 77 times in Luke 3:23-38! Eliminating “Cainan” from verse 36 to make it conform to Moses and the Chronicler, however, we have merely 76 generations in Luke. Then, Jesus therefore was not perfect in His generations. Simply put, “Cainan” is necessary in Luke 3:36; it was Luke’s original writing, and therefore belongs.

Since Matthew skipped some names to provide only three sets of 14 generations in his genealogical records, surely, we can: (1) permit Moses and the Chronicler to intentionally skip one name in their respective Books, and (2) allow Luke to insert that name not found in the Old Testament in order to show Jesus’ perfection. The Holy Spirit superintended all these men, so we need not question the infallibility of their writings. (Unless, our hearts of doubt reveal we never actually believed the Bible in the first place!) Luke only differs from Moses and the Chronicler in the case of one name; there are not dozens of extra names in Luke. The “problem” is overstated and actually imaginary.

Moreover, unfortunately, well-intended young-Earth creationists are reluctant to allow “Cainan” to remain in Luke 3:36. They argue the inclusion suggests Genesis and Chronicles have one “gap”—or more—in their genealogical records. Supposedly, this opens up the possibility for an old Earth. Therefore, they defer to the aforementioned “P75 / scribal error” argument. Again, we need not sacrifice Bible inspiration, infallibility, or preservation. All we need to do is adjust our thinking to better understand Moses’ handling of the family tree in Genesis chapters 10 and 11.

The Hebrew word (“yalad”) does not always imply the birth of immediate children. For example, it can be used more generally or broadly to refer to grandchildren (for example, see the sons Jacob’s wives “bare” [“yalad”] unto him; Genesis 46:15,18,22,25). Likewise, Arphaxad was actually Salah’s grandfather instead of his immediate father. Cainan was Salah’s immediate father. Yet, Arphaxad is still a “father” to Salah because he is Salah’s progenitor or ancestor; he still “begot” Salah through his own son Cainan (which fact only Luke reveals). Remember, Jesus is David’s “son” and David is Jesus’ “father,” but this is in the sense of great-(40X) grandson and great-(40X) grandfather. The sense is forefather and posterity, with a millennium separating them, but still an unbroken bloodline nonetheless (Luke 1:31-33).

CONCLUSION

“Cainan” belongs in Luke 3:36. It was always part of Luke! The Holy Spirit is responsible, not some thoughtless scribe. Contrary to popular belief, inserting “Cainan” into Genesis and Chronicles in no way introduces extra years into the chronology of Genesis 11:12. Arphaxad was still 35 years old when his son (Cainan) fathered his grandson Salah. We do not make the Bible more favorable to evolutionary theory (old Earth) by letting Luke 3:36 stand as is. However, in our impulsive fervor to refute secular errors, we actually do introduce a mistake into the Bible. Claiming Luke 3:36 has a “scribal error,” thus removing “Cainan,” only discredits the very Book we claim to believe!

A better way to look at Luke 3:36 is simply to see it as progressive revelation. The Holy Spirit caused Moses and the Chronicler to skip Cainan’s generation when recording family information (reason unknown—perhaps idolatry?) but had Luke write it because Luke was focused specifically on Jesus being Israel’s Messiah perfect in His 77 generations. Without Luke, we would have never known a Cainan existed between Arphaxad and Salah.

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Also see:
» Does Matthew 1:8-9 contain errors?
» Does Matthew 1:11 contain errors?
» Does Matthew 1:12 contain an error?
» Does Acts 7:6 have a mistake?
» Does Acts 7:43 have mistakes?
» Does Acts 7:16 have a mistake?
» Does Acts 7:14 have a mistake?