Category Archives: JUST ASKING / CURIOUS QUESTIONS

What are the “warp” and the “woof?”

WHAT ARE THE “WARP” AND THE “WOOF?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

They appear six times in the King James Bible (and always paired). What are they?

  • Leviticus 13:49: “And if the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a plague of leprosy, and shall be shewed unto the priest:….”
  • Leviticus 13:51: “And he shall look on the plague on the seventh day: if the plague be spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in any work that is made of skin; the plague is a fretting leprosy; it is unclean.”
  • Leviticus 13:53: “And if the priest shall look, and, behold, the plague be not spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin;….”
  • Leviticus 13:56: “And if the priest look, and, behold, the plague be somewhat dark after the washing of it; then he shall rend it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof:….”
  • Leviticus 13:57: “And if it appear still in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it is a spreading plague: thou shalt burn that wherein the plague is with fire.”
  • Leviticus 13:58: “And the garment, either warp, or woof, or whatsoever thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash, if the plague be departed from them, then it shall be washed the second time, and shall be clean.”

The context is various skin diseases as they spread through garments or fabrics. “Warp” and “woof” refer to the two component series of threads of which woven material is made on a loom. That, is, they are two perpendicular yarn sets that form the grid pattern. The warp is the set of lengthwise yarns, and the woof (also called weft) is the set of crosswise yarns. The woof crosses the warp from left to right and over and under. The warp alternates from front to back. In the diagram below, the warp is the dark, vertical threads; the woof (weft) is the thicker, light-colored, horizontal threads.

Warp_woof

Also see:
» What does “fetch a compass” mean?
» What does “kicking against the pricks” mean?
» What does “Lord of Sabaoth” mean?

“Become as little children… to enter the kingdom of heaven?”

“BECOME AS LITTLE CHILDREN… TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

In Matthew 18:3, we read: “And [Jesus Christ] said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

“Childlike faith” is ecclesiastical parlance for, “We may not understand what God says in His Word, but we believe it. Children do not understand everything. We are called to be like children.” Certainly not! God does not want spiritually-immature Christians, people clueless to His doctrine. Ephesians 4:14 reminds us: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;….” While this sad state describes the average professing Christian, it is not related to Matthew 18:3.

The context of Matthew 18:3 sets the tenor: “[1] At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? [2] And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, [3] And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. [4] Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Verse 1 is crucial. The disciples are being selfish, as they desire to know who will be the prominent person in God’s earthly kingdom. In other words, it is not about Jesus Christ, the King, but about them. Who of them will be so honored with the exalted position? There is the attitude of competition, a desire to glorify self. Just by reading Christ’s scolding, we can sense that pride is their motivation. For that reason, the Lord beckoned a little boy and put him in the middle of the crowd. That child was a teaching aid: he was the personification of humility rather than ignorance. Draw your attention to verse 4: “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Children know their weaknesses and inadequacies, but adults have had so much influence from their own evil hearts and the evil world system that they have adopted an attitude of self-sufficiency. A child, still a sinner by birth, is nevertheless more compliant than an adult. Adults will argue because they have had more time to become self-centered and deceive themselves into autonomy (operating apart from the Creator God). Pride has set in. They have already gone through this educational system and are nearly impossible to reform. Habits, especially bad ones, are difficult to break. As we will see shortly, such arrogant independence is completely foreign to God’s Word. It does not belong in His kingdom.

Let us turn over to chapter 20 of Matthew to see a similar issue: “[20] Then came to him [the Lord Jesus] the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. [21] And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. [22] But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. [23] And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.”

Zebedee’s dear wife, mother of Apostles James and John (Matthew 4:21), meant well by seeking for her sons the two highest positions in Christ’s kingdom. However, all that did was upset the other 10 Apostles, pitting them against the two men. Such fleshliness and rivalry were Satan’s access to them all!

“[24] And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. [25] But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. [26] But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; [27] And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: [28] Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Christ corrected their thinking. He, Almighty God, should be served, and yet He was willing to serve. He had not come to glorify Himself, He had come to serve, and yet they were glorifying themselves instead of serving?! Again, their selfish attitude did not belong in God’s family. “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;….” God honors the lowly servant, not the self-appointed ruler. As someone once rightly observed, “The way up in God’s kingdom is down!” The Gentiles—under Satan’s control—were the bullies and dictators, seeking to boss others. “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them….” However, no person led by God’s Spirit will take control of another. Our sinful flesh will engage in such behavior, but never Almighty God!

The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter chapter 5: “[1] The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: [2] Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; [3] Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” Paul the Apostle said it this way in 2 Corinthians 1:24, Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.” “Lording” over believers, having “dominion” over Christians, bullying them, is nothing but sinful flesh operating under the guise of “Bible.” (Go back to Matthew 20:25 and the idea of “exercising dominion.”)

Whether in Israel’s program, or our program, pride (especially religious pride) will send millions upon millions to an eternal Hell. They do not want God telling them what to do; rather they want to tell others what to do. They refuse to submit to His righteousness found in Christ’s finished crosswork. Instead, they go about attempting to establish their own “goodness,” their own righteousness (Romans 10:1-3). It is all about them. They want to be praised, worshipped, remembered, and obeyed. They desire the prominent positions in the assembly. As Philippians 2:3-11 says, selfishness and pride have no place in the life of the Christian any more than it had a place in the life of Jesus Christ Himself while He was on Earth.

Also see:
» What is the difference between “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven?”
» What if I was never thanked?
» How do we not “live after the flesh” if we live in bodies of flesh?

“O ye of little faith?”

“O YE OF LITTLE FAITH?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The expression appears four times in the King James Bible, but what does it mean for someone to be of “little faith?” If we examine these references, God’s Word will define it for us.

We start by taking a quick glance at the passages:

  • Matthew 6:30: “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
  • Matthew 8:26: “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”
  • Matthew 16:8: “Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?”
  • Luke 12:28: “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

To avoid any initial misunderstandings, we pause here to comment that one either has faith, or one does not have faith. A woman is either pregnant or she is not. She cannot be “a little pregnant.” It is likewise impossible for us to be “a little alive”—we are either living or we are dead!! There is no way to be “a little saved” or “a little unsaved:” someone is either saved/justified, or lost/damned. Similarly, faith (namely, belief or trust) cannot be measured in degrees. Either we trust or we do not trust. So, then, what of the expression, “O ye of little faith?”

INCIDENT #1: ISRAEL’S PHYSICAL BLESSINGS

Matthew 6:30: “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Luke 12:28: “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

The context (Matthew 6:24-34; Luke 12:13-30) is the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to His disciples who worry about their physical needs being met. Materialism is inappropriate for them. Rather than having partial knowledge of what God is doing with them, they should have more knowledge. He thus issues this doctrine to show them more of God’s plan for them. If they are willing to give up their earthly possessions to follow Him, He will take care of them financially (cf. Matthew 6:32-34; Luke 12:31-34; Acts 2:42-47; Acts 4:31-37; Acts 11:27-30; Revelation 12:6,14; Revelation 13:16-18; Micah 7:14-15; Matthew 6:11; cf. Exodus 16:1-36; Psalm 78:11-31). Dire circumstances, even destitution, should not distract or discourage them; they are to stick by His Word and He will see them through their hardships (especially during the end times, the reign of the Antichrist)!

INCIDENT #2: THE STORM AT SEA

Matthew 8:26: “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”
Compare that to Mark 4:40, the parallel passage: “And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”
Finally, contrast that with Luke 8:25, the other parallel verse: “And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.”

“O ye of little faith?” “How is it that ye have no faith?” “Where is your faith?” These appear contradictory on the surface; however, when we think critically, they show themselves to be complimentary. The disciples’ faith or trust was in their circumstances (the storm) rather than God’s Word. Jesus had already told them that they would reach the other side—as in, not even a storm will stop them or kill them!!

Consider Luke 8:22: “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.” In verses 23-24, they panicked, behaving as though they would sink and drown in the tempest. How could they die? Earlier, the Lord had told them they would reach the opposite shore! They should have trusted Him, but they were sidetracked, and merited His scolding.

Where was their faith, their focus? Not in God’s Word but on their troubles! Hence, “no faith” (as in, no faith that God accepts). Their “little faith” was nothing but a limited or faulty understanding of what God was doing with them!

INCIDENT #3: BEWARE OF FALSE DOCTRINE

Start at the beginning of Matthew chapter 16: “[1] The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he [the Lord Jesus Christ] would shew them a sign from heaven. [2] He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. [3] And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? [4] A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

“[5] And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. [6] Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. [7] And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 

“[8] Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? [9] Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? [10] Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? [11] How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? [12] Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

What is the matter? The disciples’ understanding is distorted. They are thinking in terms of physical things (tangible leaven in actual food) when, in fact, Jesus was speaking about spiritual issues (leaven in a figurative sense, false teaching spreading as yeast causes the entire lump of dough to rise). As the companion passage will prove, the disciples have little comprehension of what God is doing and saying yet again.

Turning to Mark chapter 8: “[17] And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? [18] Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? [19] When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. [20] And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. [21] And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?”

Had the disciples been receptive to God’s Word revealed earlier, they would have perceived the latter spiritual truths. Alas, since they were not walking in the light they had, they stayed in the dark! This is true in all three incidents.

CONCLUSION

“O ye of little faith” is not that they believed God a little bit. It is not that their trust was a “speck” when it should have been mountain. No, rather, they understood God’s Word a little bit. They had grasped such a small amount of, or had limited insight into, what Almighty God was saying to them and doing with them. Instead of holding fast His Word, they began to look at circumstances (distresses and distractions) through the eyes of human speculation. They had no adequate basis for faith—genuine faith. Disregarding God’s Word to them, doubting it, they trusted in their surroundings and the Lord Jesus Christ was displeased. Beloved, how easy it is to fall into that trap even today! Dear friend, let us walk by faith in God’s Word to us, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon. Otherwise, we will be like the disciples of old, confused in and blind to the things of God. 🙂

Also see:
» Has God’s Word failed?
» How should we pray for people enduring natural catastrophes and other tragedies?
» What does it mean to “mind earthly things?”

Did Paul just hear Jesus’ voice, or did he see Him, too?

DID PAUL JUST HEAR JESUS’ VOICE, OR DID HE SEE HIM, TOO?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“I thought that Paul just heard Jesus’ voice but did not see Him? Is this correct?”

That is incorrect. According to the Bible, Paul not only heard Jesus Christ, but he also saw Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (not including other times).

Acts chapter 26 is Paul’s own words on the subject: “[14] And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. [15] And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. [16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;… [19] Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:”

The sight of that glory of Christ is what blinded Paul for three days. Acts 22:11 comments: “And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.” Acts chapter 9 provides additional commentary: “[8] And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. [9] And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.”

Acts 9:17 also says: “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” We consult Acts 22:13-14: “[13] Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. [14] And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.”

Notice, the Bible says Paul heard and saw Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Acts 26:16 asserts Paul saw Jesus Christ on various other occasions after Acts chapter 9: “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;….” And, 2 Corinthians 12:1: “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.” These were not visions and revelations “from” the Lord but rather “of” the Lord. Paul saw the Lord Jesus Christ in His ascended form on innumerable occasions. “And last of all, he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8).

Also see:
» Did Saul of Tarsus ever meet Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry?
» Could you explain Paul’s first miracle?
» Did Peter and Paul preach the same Gospel?

Did Saul of Tarsus ever meet Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry?

DID SAUL OF TARSUS EVER MEET JESUS CHRIST DURING HIS EARTHLY MINISTRY? WAS SAUL AT CALVARY’S CROSS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, what curious questions these are! We cannot say with absolute certainty that Saul of Tarsus personally saw or met Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. We are also unable to say on the basis of Scripture that Saul stood at Calvary’s cross to mock Christ. Nevertheless, there are verses to indicate that both occasions were possibilities.

THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

The Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, southern Israel (Matthew 2:1). Mary His mother and Joseph her husband lived in Nazareth (northern Israel, Galilee) prior to migrating south to Bethlehem Judah for the census during which He was born (Luke 2:1-20). After His birth, they three return to Nazareth. Once evil King Herod threatens to kill the Jewish children aged two and under, God instructs Joseph to take Mary and young Jesus and flee into Egypt (Matthew 2:12-18). Subsequent to this, they relocate to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23; Luke 2:51-52). In later years, it seems that the Lord Jesus (now an adult) moves to reside in Capernaum, another town in Galilee (Mark 2:1 cf. Matthew 9:1).

By the time He was approximately 30 years old (Luke 3:23), we see Christ Jesus in John chapter 1 (Matthew chapter 3, Mark chapter 1, Luke chapter 3) coming to John the Baptist to be water baptized in the River Jordan (southern Israel). As recorded in Matthew 4:12–19:1, Christ spends much of His three years of earthly ministry (Luke 13:7) in northern Israel (Galilee). He occasionally ventures into the south (Judaea, Jerusalem). According to Matthew 19:1ff., the Lord spends His last weeks alive in Judaea. He restricts His final week to Jerusalem and its outskirts, before allowing Himself to be captured and crucified (Matthew 21:1ff.). Of course, we cannot omit the facts that He then rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven.

SAUL OF TARSUS

Saul of Tarsus appears in Scripture at the close of Acts chapter 7—in and near Jerusalem. Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended into Heaven a year earlier (see the three years followed by the one year in Luke 13:7-8). Acts 7:58 calls Saul “a young man.” Saul may have been born around or just after Jesus’ birth. If correct, Saul could be 30 to 35 years old in Acts chapter 7.

He was born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia (modern southern Turkey), about 400 miles (644 kilometers) northwest of Jerusalem and some 300 miles (483 kilometers) northwest of Nazareth. Acts 22:3: “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city [Jerusalem] at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” Also, Acts 23:34: “And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;….”

Early in his life, Saul lived in Jerusalem and sat under Rabbi Gamaliel’s tutelage. Acts 22:3 again: “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city [he is presently in Jerusalem—see Acts 21:17] at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” See also Acts 26:4, “My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;….” Saul left Jerusalem to return to Cilicia, where he claims citizenship according to Acts 21:39: “But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean [common] city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.”

Remember, Saul and his father were both strict, “fundamental” religious leaders in Judaism. They were Pharisees, or worshippers of the Law of Moses who also placed great value on religious tradition. Pharisees were extremely rigid in their religious belief and practice. Acts 23:6: “But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” And, Acts 26:5: “Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” Finally, Philippians 3:5: “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;….”

WHEN THEY COULD HAVE POSSIBLY MET: THE TRIANNUAL TRIPS TO JERUSALEM

Deuteronomy 16:16 ordered: “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:….” The Law of Moses commanded every male Jew to travel to worship in Jerusalem three times every year—the feasts of Passover (Unleavened Bread), Pentecost (Weeks), and Tabernacles. The most classic example of such pilgrimages is Luke 2:41-50 (when Joseph and Mary forgot 12-year-old Jesus in Jerusalem at Passover). John 7:1-14 is a second illustration (here is Tabernacles). Acts 2:1-11 is the assembly of Jewish men associated with the feast of Pentecost.

Notice especially in the Luke and John accounts (referenced above) how whole families migrated together to Jerusalem. Saul’s household, strict Law-keepers that they were, also participated in these triannual Jewish religious holidays. No doubt the families of the Lord Jesus and Saul, although living hundreds of miles apart for most of the year, came in close proximity to each other in Jerusalem during Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. These Jewish caravans were present in and around Jerusalem even at Calvary, for Passover was soon to be celebrated during that time (Matthew 26:1-5,17; Mark 14:1-2,12,16; Luke 22:1-2,7; John 13:1; John 18:39; et al.).

CONCLUSION

While not explicitly stated in Scripture, it is possible that the Lord Jesus and Saul passed each other as they went in and out Jerusalem during the 30 years of the former’s earthly life. The Lord Jesus Christ, as God in human flesh, knew all about Saul. Saul, a religious leader in Judaism, had doubtless heard about a “troublemaker” (Christ Jesus) threatening Judaism and causing all his friends (as in the Pharisees) such headache and misery. In fact, Saul could have very well been one of the hypocritical, unbelieving “Pharisees” that the Lord Jesus addressed and condemned during His scathing Jerusalem Temple sermons (for example, see Matthew 23:1-39). Considering Saul’s high social standing amongst Israel’s religious leadership, he could have joined his friends around the cross in order to mock the Lord Jesus.

Also see:
» Did little boy Jesus know He was going to die?
» Did Paul just hear Jesus’ voice, or did he see Him, too?
» Why was Saul of Tarsus’ name changed to Paul?

Who are the “Grecians” in the Bible?

WHO ARE THE “GRECIANS” IN THE BIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Greek word rendered “Grecian” is Hellenistes.” It appears three times in our King James Bible New Testament (Acts 6:1; Acts 9:29; Acts 11:20). While Hellas is the Greek name for Greece, the meaning of “Grecian” depends on the Bible context. Generally speaking, the word signifies anyone who identifies with Greek culture (especially the Greek language). It carries an even more restricted definition if setting is noted.

FIRST OCCURRENCE – ACTS 6:1

“And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration” (Acts 6:1). In this context, “Grecians” is opposed to “Hebrews.” While it is true that “Hebrews” is Jewish, “Grecians” here is Jewish too. The difference is the “Grecians” are Jewish by blood but Greek in culture. The “Hebrews” are Jewish by both blood and culture. Thus, we see why the Hebrews were favored over the Grecians. “Pure” Jews were exalted above the “tainted” Jews.

SECOND OCCURRENCE – ACTS 9:29

“And he [Saul] spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him” (Acts 9:29). This instance seems to carry the meaning of the first (see Acts 6:1)—Jews who have adopted Greek culture.

THIRD (AND FINAL) OCCURRENCE – ACTS 11:20

“And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus” (Acts 11:20).

The context demands that these “Grecians” be Greeks by blood or Gentiles (not Jews as in previous passages): “[19] Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. [20] And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. [21] And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

“[22] Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. [23] Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. [24] For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. [25] Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: [26] And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

The reason why we know these “Grecians” are Greeks or Gentiles (and not Greek-speaking Jews) is that Barnabas goes to get Saul of Tarsus for him to minister to them (verse 25). If the Grecians here were Greek-speaking Jews (as in Acts 6:1 and Acts 9:29), there would be no reason for Saul to ever be involved with them. Since God commissioned Saul (later known as the Apostle Paul) to go to Gentiles (Acts 9:15-16; Acts 26:16-18; et cetera), it is only naturally that Barnabas would seek Saul to minister to these new Gentile converts.

SUPPLEMENTAL: OLD TESTAMENT ROOTS

The word “Grecian” (“Yĕvaniy” in Hebrew) appears a single time in the Old Testament. Notice Joel 3:6, “The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.” This, of course, is Gentile in nature. Jews have been sold into slavery to the Gentiles (Greeks). “Yevaniy” is patronymic, meaning it is applied to the descendants of one man. The man or father here is Javan; his children are known as Jevanites, or the “Ionians” (think of the Ionian Sea west of Greece, south of the Italian peninsula, and north of the Mediterranean Sea—their region of the world).

Javan was Noah’s grandson, as stated in Genesis chapter 10: “[2] The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. [3] And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. [4] And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. [5] By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” (The Jewish bloodline came from Shem, Japheth’s brother—see verses 21-31. According to Genesis 11:10-27, Abram/Abraham, father of the Israelites, descended from Shem.)

Daniel 8:21: “And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.” Here is a reference to the Greek Empire, with Alexander the Great being the “first king.” Daniel saw it as prophecy (future), but we see it as history (few centuries before Christ).

We see “Javan” (or Greeks) mentioned in Isaiah 66:19, the Millennial Reign of Christ (future from us): “And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.”

Also see:
» Did not God send messengers to Gentiles prior to Paul’s apostleship?
» Did Paul engage in missionary journeys?
» Was Luke a Jew or a Gentile?

Why did Paul not give the Gospel of Grace in Acts 17?

WHY DID PAUL NOT GIVE THE GOSPEL OF GRACE IN ACTS 17?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says in chapter 17 of Acts:

“[15] And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed. [16] Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. [17] Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

“[18] Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. [19] And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? [20] For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. [21] (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

“[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. [24] God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; [25] Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; [26] And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; [27] That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: [28] For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

“[29] Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. [30] And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: [31] Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. 

“[32] And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. [33] So Paul departed from among them. [34] Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.”

It is frequently asked why the Apostle Paul did not give a Gospel invitation in this most powerful message recorded in verses 22-31. Just when it was getting good, he closed that sermon quite suddenly. Its abruptness is even more striking when we compare this message to his sermon preached in Acts chapter 13. There, he began to speak of Jesus Christ in verse 23 and continued on and on about His resurrection until the following conclusion was reached in verses 38 and 39: “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

While Paul preached to Jews in the synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia, he closed with a clear Gospel message (chapter 13). Yet, years later, when preaching to pagan Gentiles in Athens (chapter 17), he makes one quick reference to (a single verse about) the Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection—and stops short of an invitation!!! He has come under heavy criticism for this, but it is this author’s belief that such censuring is totally unwarranted.

If you compare Paul’s Acts chapter 13 sermon with his chapter 17 sermon, you will see they vary greatly in content. This is primarily because of their different audiences. Whereas the Jews in the synagogue are familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures, the idolatrous and heathen Gentiles in Athens are not. Paul cannot start in or review the Old Testament with the Athenians; he must begin by identifying the one true God of creation. Once the identity of the living God is settled, Paul can proceed to Jesus Christ. Verse 31: “Because he [God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” This “man” is Jesus Christ, about whose resurrection Paul speaks. Then, Paul quits preaching. Why?

The answer lies in verses 32-33: “[32] And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. [33] So Paul departed from among them.” As soon as the audience began to make fun of him, ridiculing the message, Paul stopped. He was interrupted. There was no point in sharing God’s precious words with people who could not care less about them. Paul would have most surely given a Gospel invitation if it his earlier words had been received favorably.

Nonetheless, we should be careful to note the closing verse of the chapter: “[34] Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” Even though there were Bible mockers in Athens, some people wanted to hear more from the one true God. Paul evidently gave these truth seekers a Gospel invitation privately, off to the side, away from the public setting of Mars’ Hill. These believed on Jesus Christ unto eternal life!

Also see:
» Is Acts 16:31 a sufficient Gospel message?
» Why did the Lord Jesus tell parables?
» Has God’s Word failed?