Why forgive “seventy times seven?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). Is there any importance to this “seventy times seven” here? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Of course, the context is how to handle conflicts within the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, the Messianic Church (see verses 15-20). Peter and the 11 other Apostles have been given authority to act in Christ’s absence. (For more information on their apostolic power, see our Matthew 18:19-20 article linked at the end of this study.) In light of Jesus’ prior comments about brethren trespassing against brethren, the Apostle Peter asked a question, and that is precisely the inquiry and its response with which we concern ourselves now.

The Berean Bible student can easily see the shallowness in Christendom (denominationalism). Jesus did not randomly pick a number, as some might conclude. Also, unlike others, never should we interpret His words as “forgive thy brother countless times.” He chose “seventy times seven” because the number 490 had tremendous prophetic significance. As we will see shortly, it concerned the restoration of Israel and the rebuilding of her holy city Jerusalem.

When Peter asked, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” (Matthew 18:21), he assumed he was being quite generous. The rabbis of that day taught someone should be forgiven only three times (based on Amos 1:3,6,9,11,13; Amos 2:1,4,6). Peter doubled that number and added one, but it still was not enough. Yet, since seven in the Bible is the number of completion or perfection, Peter assumed nothing could be better than forgiving someone seven times. Christ corrected his erroneous idea. Again, the Bible student should always be mindful of every word in the King James Bible. When God’s Word is specific, it is for a reason. Matthew 18:22 is such an instance where Bible specifics, not just “general fundamentals,” are important. Jesus answered, “Until seventy times seven.” It is our firm conviction that Jesus did not randomly select this number; He was teaching a doctrine about a special completion.

In Daniel 9:24, the Angel Gabriel explained to the Prophet: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” The Hebrew word rendered “week” here signifies seven, like our English word dozen means 12. (For more information on dating this, read our “What about a six-year Tribulation?” study linked at the end of this article.)

As per Daniel 9:24, it would take seventy weeks of years—or 490 years—to cleanse the nation Israel. For 490 years, God would patiently deal with Israel’s sins and purge her of all wickedness (to be followed by Jesus Christ’s earthly kingdom and the New Covenant, the latter part of the verse). Verses 25 and 26 explain that 69 weeks of years (or 483 years) were fulfilled before Calvary, and the final seven years (verse 27) are still awaiting fulfillment (the future seven-year Tribulation). The 70 weeks began with Nehemiah chapter 2, the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall circa 445 B.C., and they will terminate at Christ’s Second Coming. Obviously, our 2,000-year-long Dispensation of Grace is not included in those 490 years. Just as it took 70 years to cleanse Israel’s land of her idolatry—the Babylonian Captivity (Jeremiah 25:11-12; Jeremiah 29:10-11; Daniel 9:2)—it will take 70 weeks of years to cleanse her people of idolatry.

What Jesus was saying in Matthew 18:22 was (paraphrased), “Peter, you are to forgive your Jewish neighbor to the extent I forgive your Jewish nation.” According to the foregoing verses, the schedule of Daniel 9:24 was operating when Jesus spoke those words to Peter! Amazing! (By the way, if you want more information about forgiveness in this the Dispensation of Grace, read our “true forgiveness” article below.)

Let us close by making a highly significant textual note. Very few people know the impact of this matter, and even fewer are aware of the “seventy times seven” (490) reading anyway. Why? The more popular modern English versions* read “seventy-seven times” in Matthew 18:22. (*Contemporary English Version, English Standard Version, New American [Catholic] Bible, New American Standard Bible, New English Translation, New International Version, New Revised Standard Version, New World [Jehovah’s Witness] Translation) Who would be able to see any connection between the 77 of Matthew and the 490 of Daniel? The cross-reference has been embarrassingly destroyed! This is clearly a case of modern versions affecting doctrine—and inhibiting spiritual light and growth. If modern version readers are unaware of a reading other than what they have, then they are unable to ask a question based on that reading unavailable to them.

Having evaluated the evidence, we have chosen to retain our King James Bible reading of Matthew 18:22. As we demonstrated, the correct translation of the Greek “hebdomekontakis hepta” is “seventy times seven” (and not “seventy-seven times”). Even if we have multiple theological degrees, if we cannot see these simple truths, we have no business whatsoever sitting on a Bible translation committee and choosing “seventy-seven times” as the appropriate reading of Matthew 18:22! To say “seventy-seven times” is to show our complete incompetence, our total ignorance of Daniel 9:24!

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here:, or email me at Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at 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:
» What is true forgiveness?
» “Remission” and “forgiveness”—same or different?
» What does Matthew 18:19-20 really mean?
» What about a six-year Tribulation?

Why did Paul label the Athenians “too superstitious?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

The Apostle Paul has been censured for the words he preached in Acts 17:22 (King James Bible): “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.” How could he be so “cruel,” so “insensitive” to the feelings of these prospective believers?

Here is an easy example of how modern Bible “scholarship” has employed human wisdom to soften the Scriptures. Man always endeavors to make himself look better than he really is, whereas God’s Word always takes a negative view of man. Bible translators, teachers, and preachers are thus always tempted to “tone down” any verses that may be perceived as “nasty” or “unfriendly.” Friends, if we cannot find the courage to preach all the words of God, then we are far better off shutting our mouths and saying absolutely nothing!

In Acts chapter 17, Paul is visiting Athens, Greece, the intellectual capital of the world in New Testament times. Read this excerpt: “[16] Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry…. [22] Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. [23] For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”

As noted earlier, we want to concentrate on verse 22. Paul referred to these souls as “too superstitious.” It is an extremely long Greek word: “deisidaimonesterous.” Literally, it means “fearing more demons/devils than others.” In English, we would not say “too religious” because that is not as descriptive as “too superstitious.” The stronger word, the negative word, is “superstitious.” “Religious” obscures the wicked nature of the behavior. From God’s perspective, they were fanatics in heathenism. Remember, the city was “wholly [completely, entirely] given to idolatry” (verse 16). They had devotions, shrines, or altars dedicated to numerous deities. Yet, out of fear of perhaps overlooking a particular “higher power,” they added one particular memorial—a monument to “the unknown god” (verse 23). Had they not included this, they reasoned, that deity (if in existence) might possibly retaliate and punish them for their disrespectful negligence!

However, nearly every modern English version—including the NKJV—has the inferior reading “very religious” or “extremely religious” here. The offensive words “too superstitious” have been removed, so the thrust of Paul’s argument has been toned down (a mighty roar now a mere whimper). In the words of one English dictionary, to be “superstitious” is to “have an irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion.” This was precisely the problem of the Athenians: they dreaded a plethora of deities, including an “unknown god,” so it was much more than ordinary religion (paying homage to a known deity). The correct reading, the superior reading, is “too superstitious,” exactly as in our King James Bible. (Unless we are ungrateful for this light, and prefer the darkness of modern “scholarship.”)

If we would not fault Jesus for rightly calling unsaved people “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “fools,” “vipers” (Matthew chapter 23); if we would not criticize John the Baptist for labelling lost people “vipers” in Luke chapter 3 (verse 7); then we should have no issue with Paul calling the pagan Athenians “too superstitious.” This is not brutal name-calling but rather a declaration of spiritual truth. Until lost people are told just how bad off they really are, until they come to the point of realizing they need to be saved from their sins, they have no ability to see the gravity of their situation. They must take care of their sin problem at Calvary (trusting Jesus Christ alone as their personal Saviour) or wind up taking care of it themselves in Hell and the Lake of Fire forever!

Paul would not have complimented or praised them for their careful pagan idolatry: “I have seen with my own eyes just how very religious you Athenians are!” (This is exactly the tone of the modern English versions in Acts 17:22.) We would expect a lost person, or a Christian thinking like a lost person, to speak such words. However, a Christian under the control of the Holy Spirit would condemn such behavior. It was far more than mere religion. It was extreme superstitious nonsense, as fear-based as a belief system could be. Paul took advantage of their agnosticism—their “without knowledge” of the one true God—and began to preach Jesus Christ to them. Yet, he never actually followed through with a clear Gospel message in Athens. Why? See our related study linked below!

Also see:
» Why did Paul not give the Gospel of Grace in Acts 17?
» Should we use the term “demons?”
» What are “curious arts?”
» What about those who have not heard?
» Why does the Bible say “Have no other gods before Me?”
» How do I know I am praying to the living God and not false gods?
» I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?

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.


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?”


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?

Must we follow along in the Bible?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Some Christians have told me that they do not need to follow along in their Bible when a man teaches and/or preaches from it. They supposedly “know what the Bible teaches” to such an extent that them flipping through Bible pages and reading along is pointless. (Evidently, they stand on some spiritual plateau that the rest of us are still struggling to reach!) How did they get to this “I-do-not-need-to-follow-along-in-the-Bible” point in their Christian life? Can we ever hope to meet them there? Let us see what the Scriptures say.

A primary example of someone actually reading the Bible text in the Bible is the Lord Jesus Himself. He knew the Holy Bible better than any mortal man will ever know it! Yet, He valued the Scripture so much that He actually held its Isaiah scroll in hand and read from it! For the benefit of His audience, He did not quote it from memory (although He could have very easily done so). To set the example, He requested a Bible scroll, held it, searched for the passage He wanted, and then He read from it. In those days of synagogue worship and limited writing media, not everyone had a personal Bible. The synagogues had their own Bible scrolls, and curiosity seekers had to go to the synagogue to read the “Old Testament” (Law of Moses, Psalms, and Prophets). How much more should we read the Bible, we who have a personal copy!

The Bible speaks for itself in Luke chapter 4: “[14] And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. [15] And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. [16] And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. [17] And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, [18] The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, [19] To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. [20] And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. [21] And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

Moses was strictly commanded of God to write instructions about Israel’s king reading from the Old Testament Scriptures. We read in Deuteronomy chapter 17: “[18] And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: [19] And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: [20] That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.” There would never come a time when Israel’s king would no longer need to read the Bible. Verse 18 again: “he shall read therein all the days of his life….” “All the days of his life.” “ALL the days of his life.” “ALL the days of his life.” “ALL the days of his life.” Got it?

The Apostle Paul told Timothy, a young pastor, to read the Bible. First Timothy 4:13 says, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” Timothy knew the Bible well enough to become a pastor and even teach the Bible to others. Still, he was encouraged to keep reading it. If a pastor was urged to read the Bible, how much more should the common church member be?

Just before dying, in prison, Paul again wrote to Timothy. Second Timothy 4:13: “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” Were these “parchments” a reference to Bible scrolls? As others have commented, I agree that it is very likely. Paul evidently wanted parts of the Word of God so he could read them… even though he knew he would not be alive much longer! How much more should we who plan to live for decades more?

Paul himself had admitted years earlier in Philippians chapter 3: “[12] Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. [13] Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, [14] I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [15] Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” This apostle, having preached God’s Word for 35 years at that point, and he still had not plummeted the depths of the Bible! He still had more growing, maturing, to do. He was still attempting to understand the Christian life. Paul had not yet grasped just why God had saved him on the road to Damascus all those years earlier! That was his motivation for reading God’s Word even more in his dying days.


Christians who say they do not have to follow along in their Bible when a man teaches and/or preaches from it, they are lazy. We need not sugarcoat it, dear friends. Christians who refuse to flip through the Bible and read it for themselves are deceived and lazy. They believe they can remember the Bible so well that they have no reason to actually appeal to it in written form. This is thoroughly unwise. Brethren, God never intended us to rely on our memory when it came to His Word. If He had, He would have never given us a written Bible at all. Memory fails; memory is not 100 percent reliable. You want to base your soul’s well-being on your memory? You go right on ahead—but count me out!

Timothy was a pastor and yet Paul encouraged him to give attention to reading the Bible in his own personal life. Jesus flipped through the Bible. Israel’s kings were to flip through the scrolls of the Law of Moses and read them all their days. I know pastors who have been teaching the Word of God rightly divided for 30, 40, or even 50 years. They still open their Bibles and follow along when someone is teaching or preaching. They are honest enough to admit that they have more learning to do themselves! I have been teaching the Bible for over 10 years, and yet I still like to follow along in the Scriptures when others teach from it. Personally, I think people do not like to read the Bible because the Bible “reads” them—it pricks their hearts and they resist its admonitions and rebukes.

Frankly, people who claim to “know” the Bible so much that they no longer need to open it and follow along in it, they know very little about what the Bible actually says. No one ever reaches the point of “spirituality” where they no longer need to read the Bible for themselves. What these people want to do is let the preacher, priest, or Bible teacher do all the work of flipping and reading. They, on the other hand, will just sit idly in an easy chair and bob their heads in acknowledgment. They sit in the pew and agree with everything said. Friends, the minister or Bible teacher is just as human as all of us. He will overlook letters or words. He may honestly misread the Bible text. Unless you are following along in your own Bible, you may miss subtle truths. Then, there are other ministers who are intentionally misreading verses so that their denomination/theology is supported. No one will ever check what these leaders say anyway because the audience never uses a Bible. These ministers have been to Bible College or seminary. They are expected to know what the Bible says so most will never question them. (This is the primary reason why the Body of Christ has been so deceived for so many centuries.)

Friend, indeed, follow along in the King James Bible for yourself. If you do not, you will have no valid reason to complain when religion deceives you!

Also see:
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”
» What if I do not accept the Bible’s authority?
» How do we identify false teachers?
» I am new to the Bible, so where should I begin?
» Why do I get nothing out of the Bible when I read it?
» Has God’s Word failed?

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).


“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.

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here:, or email me at Do not forget about Bible Q&A s for sale at 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:
» 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?

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


by Shawn Brasseaux

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

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


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

Does Mark 7:16 belong in the Bible?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Textual critics question the authenticity of Mark 7:16, which reads: “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” Allegedly, this verse is not inspired of God. It is argued the verse is a copyist error, a duplication of either Mark 4:19 or Mark 4:23. The modern Greek New Testament on which modern English versions are based, eliminates the verse entirely. Modern English versions thus either bracket off the verse as doubtful, or totally omit it. Our King James Bible and its underlying Greek Textus Receptus contain the verse. Does it belong or not? Was “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear” in the original autograph of Mark?

Read Mark 7:14-23: “[14] And when he [Jesus] had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: [15] There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. [16] If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. [17] And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. [18] And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; [19] Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? [20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (cf. Matthew 15:10-20).

Jesus’ disciples want to know the meaning of this “parable” (verse 17). They assume He was speaking figuratively. Yet, as His response implies, they are mistaken in seeing this as a parable (metaphorical). He claims they are without comprehension (verse 18). That is, they should have taken Him literally. What made them conclude this was a parable? Why, verse 16, of course! “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” That expression hearkens back to the parables of Mark chapter 4 (verses 9 and 23; cf. Matthew 13:9,43; Luke 8:8). Jesus used the phrase in conjunction with parables, which is why the disciples concluded Mark 7:14-15 was a parable. In other words, if Mark 7:16 is removed, that means Jesus never said it here, and if He never said it here, there would be no reason for their bewilderment in verse 17.

Verse 17 assumes verse 16 belongs. Is Mark 7:14-15 a parable? No. Yet, if verse 16 is omitted, there is no reason for the disciples to ask whether or not it was (verse 17). Like parables, verses 14-15 were difficult to understand in the minds of those who believed not. Similarly, verse 16 troubles those who believe not—even now!

Also see:
» What is the “evil eye” of Mark 7:22?
» What is “lasciviousness?”
» Who were the “scribes?”

Does “neither the Son” belong in Matthew 24:36?


by Shawn Brasseaux

In the King James Bible, Matthew 24:36 reads: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Strangely, modern versions have: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (By the way, as a tangential comment, notice “my Father” was changed to “the Father,” eliminating a most important personal reference). We want to draw our attention to a stark inclusion. Whereas they usually omit or remove words found in the King James, here is one example of modern translations adding words. Modern versions contain “nor the Son,” but not the Authorized Version. Why does this disparity exist? How do we establish the correct reading? “For what saith the Scriptures?”


There are two reasons why the King James Bible and modern versions read differently. (And, contrary to what you have heard, there are differences—major differences! Here is one such instance, where a phrase is found in the former and not in the latter. That is distinction worth noting, and not to be taken lightly or easily dismissed.)

Firstly, there are two Greek New Testament manuscript families. It is not a matter of “old English” versus “modern English,” but rather competing manuscripts forming respective bases for those English versions. Earlier English Bibles—the last being the King James Bible—relied on one set of manuscripts (commonly called the Textus Receptus). However, about 140 years ago, British “scholarship” began to shift from that set of Greek Bible manuscripts and began to embrace the other manuscript stream. The result was the 1881 Revised Version (RV). Intended to be an “improved” Authorized Version (King James Bible), it was actually based on a different manuscript family. The alterations were extensive, and that was due to the influence of two apostate Cambridge “scholars,” Westcott and Hort, emphasizing Roman Catholic readings (Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus). In 1901, the American Standard Version—the American counterpart of the 1881 British RV—was released. Over 100 modern English versions have since followed, heavily depending on the “new” manuscript family as translation sources.

Secondly, modern English versions differ from the King James Bible because they were rendered using two divergent translation philosophies. Opinions of men have crept into the modern versions through a technique called “dynamic equivalence” (words can be changed, so long as their “sense” is retained—which is impossible!). The King James is not only based on the proper manuscripts, it was rendered correctly because of its “formal equivalence” (individual words matter, not merely thoughts!). While more could be said, this is enough information to set the background for the matter at hand.


Let us look at the verse comparison once again.

  • King James: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”
  • Modern versions: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

“Nor the Son” appears in modern versions, but not the King James. Why? This is because modern versions depend on manuscripts that are not the same as the manuscripts on which the King James is based. The modern Greek has “nor the Son” in Matthew 24:36; the King James Greek (Textus Receptus) lacks it.

At this point, the modern version proponent would appeal to the parallel verse, Mark 13:32. Here is the verse in the King James: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” Now, Mark 13:32 in modern versions: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” So, the phrase “nor the Son” appears in both the King James and modern versions in Mark 13:32. Yet, it appears in Matthew 24:36 in modern versions only. The modern version supporters would argue it belongs in both verses, and the King James and its manuscripts are wrong in “eliminating” it from Matthew 24:36.

To summarize, one of two possibilities is true:

  1. Either…. The King James and its manuscripts removed “nor the Son” (“oude o huios”) from Matthew 24:36. Thus, Mark 13:32 indicates the phrase belongs in Matthew. (Here is what modern-version supporters contend.)
  2. Or…. The modern versions* and their manuscripts added “nor the Son” (“oude o huios”) in Matthew 24:36 to force it to match Mark 13:32. (This is the argument of the King James users.)

(*Modern versions: American Standard Version, Amplified Bible, English Standard Version, Good News Translation, Holman Christian Standard Bible, Living Bible, The Message, New American (Roman Catholic) Bible, New American Standard Bible, New International Version, New Living Translation, New Revised Standard Version, New World Translation [“Jehovah’s Witness bible”], Revised Standard Version, the Voice.)

Who is right? Which position is correct? This will be quite a challenge, huh? How would we even proceed in resolving this technical conflict? Actually, friend, it is not that difficult!

It is generally agreed that the Book of Matthew presents Jesus Christ as King, while the Book of Mark views Him as Servant. A careful comparison of both Books yields this to be true. This would explain why Matthew and Mark do not read word-for-word all the time. The Holy Spirit is emphasizing or stressing various and sundry points in order to portray Jesus from diverse angles. (Luke and John are two other independent Gospel Records, meant to read differently as well.)

John 15:14-15 is useful here: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” Could the Bible be clearer here? Does the servant know what his master is doing? No! Both the Authorized Version and modern versions agree here. Let us read those same verses in the New International Version: “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” The servant submits to his boss. Stated another way, the employer determines what should be done, then he issues orders to his employee to follow. Jesus’ comments in John actually help us resolve the textual disagreement concerning Matthew 24:36.  


Does “neither the Son” belong in Matthew 24:36? NO! If Mark is stressing Jesus’ servanthood (and that is the overwhelming consensus), and Matthew is underscoring His royalty (and that too no one denies), then Matthew and Mark would not harmonize concerning “knowledge.” Mark would certainly need “nor the Son,” for the Son of God is acting as Servant to Father God. Matthew, however, would not need “nor the Son,” for Matthew is not stressing Jesus’ servanthood. In other words, modern versions discredit themselves. John 15:15 in any and every version demands the inclusion of “nor the Son” in Mark 13:32, but there is no such necessity for its presence in Matthew 24:36 (an entirely different view of Christ!). No, the King James Bible and its underlying Greek did not eliminate “neither the Son” from Matthew. Modern English versions and the modern Greek added “nor the Son” to Matthew, so as to harmonize it with Mark… and they are wrong in doing so.


“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36 KJV). “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32 KJV). No man or angel knows when Jesus Christ will return to Earth at His Second Coming. How could Jesus say that only the Father knew when He would return? Was not Jesus God? Why did Jesus not know when He would return?

Jesus Christ is serving His Father, so He is submitting to His Father when it came to setting dates. Jesus could have openly declared precisely when He would come back, but He would appear to be autonomous (independent). He showed His reliance on Father God by saying that only Father God knew the date of His coming. Remember, Jesus Christ is both God and Man. As God, He knew the future, but, as a Man, Jesus could honestly say He did not know when His Second Coming would occur. Luke 2:40,52 say He learned just like we learn. This is not a detraction of His Deity; it is an emphasis on His Humanity (which we should never ignore either). “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him…. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

Also see:
» Did Jesus ever claim to be God?
» Does God suffer from Alzheimer’s disease?
» Why did God ask where Adam was?

How was Marcus “sister’s son to Barnabas?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Colossians 4:10 in the King James Bible tells us, “Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)….” Marcus is said to be “sister’s son to Barnabas.” Barnabas’ sister is Marcus’ mother; therefore, Marcus is Barnabas’ nephew. Alas, some have complicated the matter by arguing “sister’s son” is inappropriate, since the Greek word for “sister” (“adelphe”) appears nowhere in the verse. What our Authorized Version scholars have translated “sister’s son” is “anepsios” (“a” [article of union] joined to an obsolete word “nepos” [“brood, family”]). How should we go about handling this issue?

Here are the earlier English Bibles (note the King James Bible was published later, in 1611):

  • WYCLIFFE BIBLE (1382): “Aristarchus, prisoner with me [mine even-captive, or prisoner with me], greeteth you well, and Marcus, the cousin of Barnabas, of whom ye have taken commandments; if he come to you, receive ye him;….” (This edition of Wycliffe has modernized spellings, as Middle English is unintelligible to us.)
  • TYNDALE BIBLE (1530): “Aristarchus my preson felowe saluteth you and Marcus Barnabassis systers sonne: touchinge whom ye receaved commaundementes. Yf he come vnto you receave him:….”
  • COVERDALE BIBLE (1535): “Aristarchus my preson felowe saluteth you, and Marcus Barnabasses sisters sonne, touchinge whom ye receaued commaundementes: Yf he come vnto you, receaue him,….”
  • MATTHEW BIBLE (1537): “Aristarchus my preson felowe saluteth you/and Marcus Barnabas systers sonne: touching whom ye receaued commaundementes. If he come unto you/receaue hym:….”
  • GREAT BIBLE (1539): “Aristarchus my preson felowe saluteth you, and Marcus Barnabas systers sonne: touchynge whom, ye receaued commaundementes. If he come vnto you, receaue hym:….”
  • GENEVA BIBLE (1557): “Aristarchus my prison fellow saluteth you, and Marcus, Barnabas’s cousin (touching whom ye received commandments: If he come unto you, receive him.)” (The spelling here has been modernized.)
  • BISHOPS BIBLE (1568): “Aristarchus my prison felowe saluteth you, & Marcus Barnabas sisters sonne, (touchyng whom ye receaued commaundementes:) If he come vnto you, receaue hym….”

Most of them agree with the King James Bible—or, better stated, the King James Bible (published after) agrees with most of them. Only two out of the seven read “cousin.” The King James follows the remaining five with “sister’s son.” (In fact, the King James is largely based on Tyndale’s work, so the two read quite similarly here and many other places.)

In stark contrast, as pertaining to the modern English versions (produced during the last 150 years), “cousin” is the prevailing reading—Amplified Bible, Contemporary English Version, God’s Word, Holman Christian Standard Bible, Phillips, The Message, New American Standard Bible, New Century Version, New English Translation, New International Version, New King James Version, New American (Roman Catholic) Bible, New Living Translation, New Revised Standard Version, New World Translation (“Jehovah’s Witness Bible”), Revised Version, Revised Standard Version, The Voice. The Living Bible takes a more general position with “relative.” Knox’s Translation (Roman Catholic Bible) has “kinsman.”

Unfortunately, the King James translators are no longer alive on Earth (they are in Heaven!), so we cannot ask them why they chose “sister’s son” over a broader term (“cousin,” “relative,” “kinsman,” et cetera). All we have is speculation—and that will get us nowhere. So, what should we do? We take the position of faith and retain their reading. If we are “Bible believers” as we claim, then we will believe the Bible we have. If we disagree with it, and seek to change its text, then it is not (as we assert) our final authority. We should believe whatever Bible we use, or we need to stop playing the hypocrite and find a Bible we do believe. As touching many other passages, the King James translators have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt they were fully competent in handling the Greek, Hebrew, and other manuscripts before them—as well as the English Bibles that preceded their translation work. We trust they made the right choice in conveying the sense of the original Hebrew and Greek into English, and that would include “sister’s son” in Colossians 4:10.


“Marcus” is his Latin and Greek name (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24; 1 Peter 5:13). He is also known as “John surnamed Mark” (Acts 12:12,25; Acts 15:37), “John” being his name in Hebrew. In 2 Timothy 4:11, he is simply called “Mark.” Acts chapter 13, verses 5 and 13, refer to him as merely “John.” John Mark was a servant and ministry coworker of the Apostles Peter, Saul/Paul, and Barnabas. He accompanied Barnabas and Saul/Paul on their first apostolic journey, but abandoned them in Acts 13:13.

According to Acts 15:36-41, when Paul and Barnabas were setting out on their second apostolic journey, Barnabas preferred to take John Mark along with them but Paul opposed the idea because of Mark’s prior faithlessness. (Remember, Barnabas was partial to Mark because Mark was his nephew!) This major disagreement forced Paul and Barnabas to split, and they no longer travel together. Whereas Barnabas took John Mark, Paul picked up a new ministry coworker by the name of Silas. Many years later (15? 20?), John Mark and Paul reconciled, which brings us to Paul’s latter writings of Colossians 4:10, Philemon 24, and 2 Timothy 4:11. “He is profitable to me for the ministry.”

Also see:
» Why does the King James Bible say “nephews” instead of “grandchildren” in 1 Timothy 5:4?
» Were the King James translators justified in adding “women” to Matthew 24:41?
» Were the King James translators justified in adding the word “quarters” in Acts 9:32?